Land of Vampires: Adventure One
Welcome to the first adventure in our Land of Vampires series! In what follows, we’ll cover the first part of “Out of the Witchwood,” adventure one in this campaign, designed for one GM and one player, around level 3.
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At the beginning of this adventure, the party arrives in Steymhorod disoriented and confused. Fortunately, they encounter an elderly gentleman that points them in the direction of safety. Unfortunately, they are set upon by zombies and forced to flee as night descends.
Over the course of this adventure, the party finds a lukewarm welcome in the small settlement of Willowhold. However, many of the good people here are horribly afflicted with a mysterious sickness. Things go from bad to worse as the following day the leader of Willowhold discovers that his beloved daughter Wellyn has disappeared into the Witchwood. A pall of suspicion falls on the party as the last people that saw her alive.
Can they clear their name by returning the girl? Or will they too be sent into the forest, never to return?
In the dark land of Steymhorod, there burns a single flickering flame fueled by zeal and desperate belief.
For years the Ring of Light has thrived without walls in spite of the terrors lurking in the dark. Denizens bask in the light of the Bright Father and his ever-burning bonfires.
The ranks of the faithful continue to swell, in part due to a practice called The Road Home. When a member of the Brotherhood of Light grows too old to earn his place, he goes on a one-way pilgrimage out into the wilds of Steymhorod.
Brother Danuk is one such octogenarian who has been sent on his Road Home in the direction of Willowhold in the hopes of convincing some new blood to make the journey up to the Ring of Light.
Meanwhile in Willowhold, a choking illness has fallen on the starving settlers. Over the past several weeks, one by one, the settlers have fallen ill. The wasted villagers have been succumbing in growing numbers to the illness. Fortunately, their leader’s sweet daughter has been spared so far and has offered them some comfort.
A Shape in the Fog
The party lands on the edge of the Witchwood, an oppressive, malevolent, sentient forest of darkness and danger. Proceeding forward after some time, they stumble upon the Spindle Road, running north and south. Wolves howl ominously to the north, while the faint sounds of running water can be heard to the south.
The Road North
Taking the road to the north will put the party in the path of a small pack of Steymhorod’s wolves. As they proceed north, 5x wolves appear in the road. They seem to have unnatural intelligence, blocking the way forward. They are being directed by a werewolf looking for new blood, who hides just out of sight on the edge of the Spindle Road. This werewolf is not interested in engaging the party directly, but in observing their actions and testing their worth. Should the party engage the wolves, more will come while leaving a route for retreat. GMs wanting to preview terrors to come may allow a PC with a passive Perception of 14 or higher to witness the unsettling glimpse of a massive wolf suddenly stand upright and begin to walk on two legs even as the fog closes around them.
This is really an unwinnable encounter for a party of third-level players. If your party persists and refuses to take the offered avenues of retreat, have the wolves overwhelm them and reduce the party to 0hp. The werewolf will stalk forward as the last party member loses consciousness and infect them with lycanthropy before leaving them near the stone bridge mentioned in the next section.
The Road South
The road south slopes slightly downhill as the sound of running water increases in volume. Eventually, the party discovers the Lorayne River. Near the water, the fog abates somewhat, and they can see an old stone bridge crossing the steadily flowing river.
With a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check, the party spots a humanoid form shambling toward them through the fog on the other side of the bridge. On a failure, they don’t see the form until it has nearly reached the opposite side of the bridge. The figure has an unnatural gait. The GM should play up its zombie-like qualities.
The form is actually Brother Danuk, eagle-eyed even in old age, attempting to reach the party. Though he was taking his time in his travels south, he is now fleeing a group of zombies and seeks the protection of the party.
As they watch (or preemptively attack) poor Brother Danuk, several other shambling forms emerge out of the fog that lays heavily in the woods. There are 4x zombies pursuing the aged man. He has the commoner stat block with the following changes: his speed is 15ft. A slow-motion chase plays out with Brother Danuk attempting to reach the party before the zombies dispatch him. Complicating things are 4x zombies pulling themselves out of the muddy banks next to the bridge. The banks count as difficult terrain and any zombies issuing forth have advantage on any skill checks to break or resist the restrained or grappled condition due to the thick, slippery mud coating their horrible bodies.
(Assuming he survives,) Brother Danuk is understandably grateful to the party for saving him from the undead horrors. He informs the party that he was on his way to the settlement of Willowhold which is only a few miles down the road.
Motivation: I want to atone for a life of inadequacy by bringing others into the Light of the Blessed Father.
Flaw: My religious fervor can be off-putting, but that’s just because others don’t yet get it… but I’ll make them…
The most important information that he can offer the party is:
- He is on the way to Willowhold, a settlement less than eight miles away, to bring those poor souls salvation.
- He is coming from a magnificent place called the Ring of Light to the north.
- This is the land of Steymhorod, a dark place lorded over by a powerful vampire.
Brother Danuk willingly reveals the information above to the party, though he has no knowledge of a vampire named Nassarq (the BBEG). He has a large number of crude tracts in a satchel that outline the promise of safety and salvation offered to those that find their way to the Ring of Light. Brother Danuk wants to incite some of the settlers from Willowhold to make the arduous journey up to the Ring of Light. He begs the party’s protection for the rest of the journey, even while warning them against being out in the wood once darkness falls.
Should Brother Danuk fall in the zombie attack, the party finds his worn journal containing zealous devotions and circular religious ruminations interspersed with the pertinent information listed above. In addition to his journal and tracts, the party also discovers a rough sketch of the region pointing them to Willowhold and naming the road they are on as the Spindle Road.
As the party proceeds south, after a few more hours of travel, they hear a strange clonking in the woods that press close against the road. Investigating the noise reveals the existence of grotesque bone chimes hanging from the trees ornamented with feathers and strips of dried skin. If Brother Danuk is still among the living, he informs the party that these vile totems are the work of the evil Witches of the Wood.
This adventure continues next week with part two of “Out of the Witchwood”—happy rolling!
Land of Vampires is a serial adventure created under the OGL with 5e SRD resources. The support of our patrons makes this campaign possible. If you’d like to receive a new adventure PDF each month and support our creation of a full duet campaign, join us on Patreon! Alternatively, you can now purchase the first five adventures in this campaign in the DnD Duet shop! (Patrons receive the compiled adventures as part of their patron rewards.)
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