Curse of the Effigy Mound Spiral

In the distant past, a mysterious group of wizards used an underground place of power to summon elemental spirits, binding them and storing them in ceramic vases for whatever mysterious purpose. At one point, one or more spirits escaped and killed everyone there, haunting and hunting the area for a generation before finally being slain by local heroes. A warding stone was rolled in front of the cave believed to be its lair, and the place was forgotten. Recently, a trio of goblin outcasts have discovered the site and began using it for their dark rituals, kidnapping locals and sacrificing them to a strange god-idol. One such prisoner escaped through a chimney with a handful of strange gold coins, and the adventurers have overheard his tale of goblins and blood sacrifice… and treasure!

Here’s an adventure I worked up. I’m hoping to get a game together soon so I can actually try it out. :slight_smile: I don’t know if it’s very good, but at least it’s original content.

EffigyMound.gif

Except for area 9 and 0, all locations are Dark. (Location 0 might be Dark or Dim, I suppose, if the adventurers show up at night.)

0. The Spiral
An opening shaped like a screaming skull, weathered and overgrown with grass and moss. A large boulder with a strange rune carved into it blocks the entrance.
It’s probably raining. In the center of this strange, spiraling effigy-mound is an overgrown entrance to a lost place of power. The entrance is weathered and overgrown, and blocked off by a large boulder with some kind of rune carved into it. The rune is an ancient symbol that means, roughly, “Danger/Haunted”. The boulder is hard to move, but it might be possible to squeeze around it. At one point, it looked like a screaming skull, but now that’s hard to see. Hidden behind some stones in the distance, near the “tail” of the spiral, is a chimney which leads down into the kitchen. The path down the chimney is steep and dangerous.

Obstacles: Blocking Boulder, Hidden Chimney, Strange Rune

1. The Stairs
Stone steps disappear into darkness. The air is unnaturally cold.
The steep stairway features two landings, turning 90 degrees each time. The stairs leading to the first landing are covered in bits of dirt and dead leaves. After the first landing, the steps are littered with a great deal of loose soil and broken stone. There is a hidden pit trap on the first landing. Hidden among the debris on the downstairs side of the pit is a plank that the goblins use to cross it. A frame of sticks covered by an old tapestry and loose dirt covers a pit dug 10 feet deep into the center of the first landing.
Failing to notice the pit in time means that the character (and possibly one or two others) risks falling in and being trapped there until he can climb out.

Obstacles: Pit Trap, Hidden Plank

2. The Main Room
A large statue of a man with an outstretched arm tilts awkwardly in this tall room. The other arm lies broken on the flagstones at its feet.
If the adventurers have a light source, they can barely make out the glint of something shiny at the top of the statue. There is a raised dais at the back of the room. Rotting tapestries frame an open archway behind it, leading into the darkness. A built-in stone bench runs the circumference of the room, projecting from each wall. A barricade of old, broken furniture blocks the door to the west, but the door to the east stands partially open. The statue is nearly 30 feet tall, with few hand-holds. Mounted in the statue’s stone crown is a plum-sized emerald (3D).

Obstacles: The Tall Statue, The Barricade
Loot: Emerald (3D)

3. Flooded Room
As soon as you enter, the strong smell of wetness washes over you, and all you can hear is the rush of falling water.
A short flight of stairs descends into the cold, murky water that fills this room to the height of a man’s chest. At the back, behind a statue with glittering gems for eyes, a waterfall pours in from an opening in the rear wall. Hidden beneath the water’s dark surface, old stone pews are arranged, threatening to trip the unwary, but also possibly offering a place to stand. Under the waterfall, in what used to be some sort of wishing pool, are hundreds of copper coins (1D) bearing an image of a snake one one side, and some dead king in profile on the other. Behind the waterfall, hidden behind a loose stone in the wall, is a rusty lock-box (locked, rusted, simple) filled with several handfuls of gold coins (2D). These have a coiled snake on one side, and an angry-looking empress on the other.

The statue here is a Stone Guardian. Its eyes are two rubies (3D each) It doesn’t bother anybody unless somebody messes with it, or tries to take any of the coins out of the pool or messes with the secret compartment behind the waterfall. Adventurers suffer -1D to Maneuvers in Kill or Drive Off Conflicts while in the water. The statue doesn’t suffer these same penalties. Speaking aloud the word “Twinklefeathers” will cause the Guardian to ignore the speaker until the speaker leaves the room and returns.

Obstacles: Flooded Room, Hidden Lock-box, Stone Guardian.
Loot: Copper Coins (1D), Gold Coins (2D), 2 Rubies (3D each)

4. Winding Hall
This hallway meanders for no apparent reason, doubling back on itself, and featuring stairs going up and stairs going down.
Deep cracks mar the walls, and some of the masonry has fallen away entirely to reveal the soil behind it. Amongst the cracks are a variety of runic inscriptions that were designed to suppress spirits and elementals, though they’re damaged and useless now. Halfway through, the stone stairs have collapsed, leaving only a 15-20 foot drop down to the next hallway.

Obstacle: Broken Stairs

5. The Cage
Iron bars with a gate in the center block off half of this room, protecting the boxes and pottery behind them.
The hallway ends in a storage area. Metal bars block off half of the room. There is a gate (locked, complex) in the center of the bars. The shelves here have been ransacked, but there are several crates here, a large vase (1-7D) sealed with wax, the remnants of another large vase, and the skeletal remains of a dead man on the other side of the iron bars. This skeleton has been inhabited by a spirit, which will wake if the adventurers approach, though it will play dead, hoping that they will leave with the door open, allowing it to escape. If the adventurers threaten the vase or the skeleton, or try to leave without opening the cage, the Possessed Skeleton will make its move, begging for release. The spirit is malevolent, but it’s not stupid. It wants out of this place, and it wants to take its fellow spirit (in the whole vase) with it, but it’s not keen on telling anyone that. The crates contain mostly old, rotted arcanist and scribe supplies, but nothing useful.
If the party opens the wax-sealed vase, a spirit escapes and tries to take over one of the party. It has the same stats as the Possessed Skeleton, but can’t be engaged physically, and it will desperately want to possess somebody immediately before it dissipates.

Obstacles: Locked Gate, Possessed Skeleton
Loot: Large Vase (1-7D)

Possessed Skeleton:
Might: 3
Nature: 4 (Lying, Posessing, Smashing Things)
Kill: 9 (Poltergeist +1D Maneuver)
Drive Off: 6 (Poltergeist +2D Maneuver)
Convince: 2 (Weird +1D Maneuver)
Abjure: 4 (Poltergeist +2D Attack)
Special: Not actually undead, but that might be a jerk move if you have a cleric in your party, so maybe it counts as undead anyway.

6. Goblin Den
A room filled with broken alchemical gear, garbage, and a pair of filthy beds pushed together in the center of the room.
Three goblin cultists (Dzorkex, Grud, Nursax) have taken up residence in the old laboratories. The goblins are inclined to run from superior numbers, or bargain and beg otherwise. Only Dzorkex speaks the common tongue (though poorly). Kicked out of wherever they’re from for improper worship, they’ve set up shop here. All they want to do is mind their own business and sacrifice intelligent beings to their home-made god-idol thing in the kitchen. While they work together and hate everybody, they also (secretly) hate each other.
Nursax has a good spear, and Dzorkex has an elven dagger. Grud has a good helmet (though it’s too big for him).
Lost among the broken garbage and shattered equipment on the shelves and cabinets is a bottle of catalytic salts (Alchemical Supplies)
Hidden inside a cabinet, in the back, in a hole under a rock, is a loose pile of copper coins.

Obstacles: Goblin Cultists, Hidden Coins, Lost Alchemical Supplies
Loot: Copper Coins, Spear, Helmet, Elven Dagger (“Maarhui Miquilis” [Goodnight Kisses], ignores armor on a back-stab, once), Alchemical Supplies (a bottle of catalytic salts)

7. The Offices
Two of the three rooms here not buried under the collapsed ceiling have had their doors bashed down. The third, the last, still stands. On it is a brass plaque bearing a series of runic inscriptions.
The runes are a trap that must be deciphered to gain entry. Touching the door otherwise jolts trespassers with a blast of arcane lightning.
Inside, the room is dusty but well-organized. Several books on esoteric subjects stand at one corner of an oak desk, along with a surprisingly fresh bottle of ink (Scholar Supplies) In drawer is a journal containing mostly boring accounts of the life of a lackluster wizard’s apprentice, with occasional talk of summoning spirits. The language is archaic common, but readable. Also in the journal, scrawled in the margin of one of the later pages, is the note:

Twinklefeathers’? I am NOT saying that. Let somebody else collect from the pool.

Obstacle: Arcane Door Trap, Boring Journal
Loot: Lore about a monster that provides advantage against it, Scholar Supplies (Bottle of Ink)

8. Kitchen/Altar/Prison
A simple figure created out of twigs, dung and twine, and the skull of a dog, stands at the end of a wooden table. The table is stained with blood and has a rusty knife embeded in it.
There are two doors in the east wall, each with a chair jammed under the handle as a barricade. The chairs are easily removed from the outside. Another doorway leads south. A cold fireplace is mounted in the north wall. If ascended, it leads outside to the tail of the effigy-mound.
One shelf has some wrapped meat of unknown origin. The meat is easily discovered. It seems fresh, and will satisfy hunger, but barring some form of purification, it will likely make any who eats it Sick (Health Ob2 to avoid).
The north-most door in the east wall is empty of everything but bloodstains, human waste and empty shelves. The other door in the east wall contains a dead human who slit his wrists with a silver knife (not worth much by itself). Above him, hidden atop a high shelf, is a set of silverware and plate (1-5D). Otherwise, the shelves are empty.

Obstacles: Weird Meat, Narrow Chimney, Hidden Silverware
Loot: Silverware and plate (1-5D), Meat of unknown provenence

9. The Node
A hulking creature ceases its pacing around a huge, glowing, pink crystal to shout telepathically at the adventurers in a wave of grief and anger, “RELEASE ME!”.
This large natural cavern is dimly lit by a huge crystal that projects from the ground in the center of a circle of power. The crystal glows a dull pink, and the runes of the circle an electric blue. Inside the circle is a slow, ponderous thing, like the love-child of a gorilla and an oak tree, with sad, green-glowing eyes. It paces slowly around the huge crystalline structure in the center of the circle, already having worn a path in the stone an inch deep.

Assuming the adventurers talk with the elemental, it will promise to tell them of a hidden node of wealth and power nearby on this plane (an adventure lead). If the elemental is released, it will keep its word, telling the PCs the general location of an adventure site before squeezing its way out of the dungeon to freedom. If for some reason the way is blocked, the elemental will begin violently burrowing to the surface. It’s a slow process, though, preventing the elemental from fleeing or being driven off.

It’s possible that the PCs might want the information first, before letting the elemental out, or might seek a promise that it won’t attack or something similar. This is good grounds for a Convince conflict.

The elemental just wants to go home. It will settle for being released from the circle. If the adventurers try to banish the elemental, it does not resist, unless they have angered it or have otherwise given it reason to want to stay and kill them. So, it’s hard to kill, but as a rule would rather just leave than deal with the creatures of this plane.

Fun fact! Attacking the elemental (with malice) breaks the mystic rules that bind it to the circle (and also pisses it off, nice job). Otherwise, it will be necessary to decode the runic circle, or just spill a significant amount of fresh blood over the runes.

Obstacles: Runic Circle, Elemental
Loot: Lore that presents a lead for a further adventure

Elemental
Might: 5
Nature: 8 (Roaming, Intimidating, Smashing)
Kill: 18 (Barkskin, +1D Defense / Arms like Trees, +1D Attack)
Drive Off: 4 (Barkskin, +1D Defense / Arms like Trees, +1D Attack)
Banish: 8 (Rooted, +1D Defense)

Wandering Monsters:
• One of the three goblins, going about his business
• The goblin, Dzorkex, looking to make a deal
• Crumbling stairs
• Cave in
• Another pair of adventurers, Lorem and Gavin the Human Warriors, show up, looking for loot
• Gear is damaged or lost
• A wave of arcane energy disrupts a spell
• A wave of arcane energy wipes out a memorized spell
• A minor elemental, a gust of wind, a flicker of flame, shows a distracting interest in a character

Love the wandering monsters!

Ooh! High praise!

Wandering monsters are hard. I was lucky to come up with what I did.

Ok, just for fun, I did this:

EffigyMoundPreview.gif

I could have done better art, but I just don’t have the time or the patience anymore. Sad, really.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the adventure in DropBox:

EffigyMound.pdf

Please, somebody let me know if I’ve gotten myself into any trouble. This was just a fun little distraction until my book gets here.

This is awesome. Can I tweet this?

Oh my! Please do!

Just a little extra, to take the legwork out of your legwork:

Digging for Leads

Asking Around
Ancient Story (Ob2): The effigy-mound spiral was home to wizards who were slain by the spirits that they would summon there and capture for foul purposes. They say it’s still haunted.
Easy to Find (Ob1): “Over that hill there about three miles. Look for a big spiral pattern made out of raised earth.”
Those Who Live There Now (Ob1): Some guy escaped from the goblins there, but they were afraid, too, of the strange spirits haunting the place.
Guarded Treasure (Ob2): There’s supposedly a ruby-eyed statue down there, and a fountain full of coins.
A Secret and Deadly Trap (Ob3): Some guy was exploring the stairs when the landing opened up, and he fell in and broke his neck.

Doing Research
Ancient Story (Ob1): The effigy-mound spiral was home to wizards who were slain by the spirits that they would summon there and capture for foul purposes.
There is no recorded information about this place.
There is no record of what lives there.
First-hand Account of Treasure (Ob3): Notes from an ancient thief who made it into a room with a pool full of coins, and a statue with huge ruby eyes.
First-hand Account of Traps (Ob3): Notes from a thief warning of an animated statue.

Thanks, Ludanto! I may run this adventure this weekend.

Are you going to update your pdf with this? Because I want to run this next, and I want to print and staple it and show it to my players and it was great before but this would make it even better and I think I love you and I would shower you with what paltry amounts I could add to your rep but I already have so there.

Well, I guess I’ll have to update it now, having been sufficiently buttered-up. :slight_smile:

And done! The layout isn’t superb, but neither am I! :slight_smile:

Same URL, but here it is again: Curse of the Effigy-Mound Spiral

Kindly imagine a swarm of cartoony hearts emanating from your screen.

Thank you good sir!

Praion, will love to get my paws on your adventure…but link is broken. Can you post it up again?

The link is not working. I would love to look it over. Thanks

It looks like DropBox broke my link and I never knew. Sorry about that. Here it is anew:

EffigyMound.pdf

You know, I actually forgot about this file. I think I may run this for my friends.