Land of Vampires: Adventure Four
The Land of Vampires series continues with “A Thief in the Night,” a four-part level 5 adventure for one GM and one player! In what follows, we’ll cover part one of this duet adventure where the party explores the Green Vale and meets many of the fae who call the area home. Some will become allies, and some…will not.
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This is the fourth in a series of adventures set in Steymhorod that point to an ultimate confrontation with a sinister vampire. The first had your party suddenly arrive in the strange land of Steymhorod, get their bearings, and attempt to aid a small settlement with a strange illness. In the second, your party allied themselves with one of two settlements, the religious Ring of Light, or the reserved city of St. Sebastian. Most recently, in the third adventure, the party left the safety of the Ring and St. Sebastian and returned to the Witchwood, making their way to the edge of the Fetid Fields to acquire the Heart of the Field for healer Lazarus Morningstar.
A Few Notes to help you run the adventure
Regardless of whether you are running this adventure 1-on-1 or for a group, one of the most important roles of the GM is balancing and tweaking encounters to suit the PC. The combat should feel weighty, but fun. Some strategies include reducing or raising hit points or changing the number of combatants before the session begins or making adjustments during combat.
A Note on Scale
Even more so than with group adventures, individual stats such as hp and damage-per-turn play a critical role in a duet game. As the GM, it’s likely that you’ll need to make some adjustments for your PC. We’ve done our best to point out moments where you may need to pay particular care with the GM’s notes throughout the adventure.
We assume that the PC will be traveling with at least one other party member and that the PC is a bit more powerful—either in terms of extra spells, magic items, or another special bump of your choosing—than most individual PCs would be at their corresponding level in a group game. We use the terms PC and party relatively interchangeably for variety, though we do suggest that the story narrative center around the PC as much as possible.
Map of the Green Vale
Following a narrow escape from werewolves after securing the Heart of the Field, the PC (and party) learns about the Fanes of Steymhorod from a new ally, Trista. She and her fellow Guardians of the Vale have kept secure and secret the last bastion of fae forest from the corruption of the Witchwood.
There are two other powerful groups among the fae that vie for influence determining the future of the Green Vale, their home in Steymhorod. One group is led by the ancient dryad Inamoira would see fae given the freedom to scout secretly outside the Green Vale in order to reestablish the dominion of the Four Fae Sisters. An ancient treant named Bitterbranch leads the other group. They would have the fae embrace the reality of their situation and make an alliance with the vampire ruler, Lord Drogo. The Guardians of the Vale keep both of these groups in check by maintaining the tradition that none shall transgress the boundaries of the Green Vale and be suffered to live. Now that the party is in, they must stay . . . forever.
The PC and the Heart of the Field are in high demand here. Inamoira and Bitterbranch both see the party as harbingers of change for their people. The Grand Marshal of the Guardians sees the party as a threat to the continued safety of the Vale. And to complicate things further, the Heart of the Fields disappears.
This adventure opens right after “The Seed of Corruption.” The first two hooks below include the climax of that adventure, with the party running from werewolves toward the safety of a fae forest. The last hook is for a party that hasn’t completed “The Seed of Corruption.”
- The Party Evades the Werewolves. As the howls of the pursuing lycanthropes slowly fade into the distance, the party crosses a wide, shallow river and finds themselves in a strange forest. It . . . mostly looks like the Witchwood, but something is off. (Any party member with Fey Ancestry can see through the illusion immediately. The party has entered the outskirts of the Green Vale, disguised to look like the rest of the Witchwood.)
- One or More of the Party is Caught by the Werewolves. One of the slavering werewolves lunge out and clamp onto your ankle. The bite does 1d8+2 piercing damage and the player must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with werewolf lycanthropy. Even before the afflicted player can act, Trista appears seemingly from nowhere and impales the werewolf on a silvered lance. “Hurry,” she demands before running across a shallow river.
- Coming in Cold. Having just pulled a pulsing green artifact from the swampland you have endured for what feels like ages now, you look up to see you are not alone. A striking figure armed with a silvered lance regards you curiously even as the ominous howls of wolves sound behind. “Keep up,” she says before sprinting away from the approaching werewolves.
Before Steymhorod’s fall, the fae and mortals shared the land and lived in harmony with one another. Then, Lord Drogo turned against the rulers of the fae, the Four Sisters, and murdered them in an act of betrayal so foul that the land was thrown into the Shadowlands. And yet, the Green Vale survived this great destruction. The sacred fae forest has existed inside these dark lands for untold centuries as a kind of time-capsule of what Steymhorod once was.
Most fae reside exclusively in the Green Vale, seeing no reason to venture beyond its borders into the dangerous lands of Steymhorod. Only rarely do fae steal outside the protection of the Vale. Those who do go for two purposes: Either to search for the lost Hearts the Four Sisters or to treat with the darker denizens of the land for sport or power.
Over all the living and the dead in the forest, the Guardians of the Vale stand watch.
This adventure is a character-drive whodunnit and could play out in a number of ways depending on where your party goes, when. Below, you’ll find the most important NPCs for your reference.
[Information in brackets is intended for GM’s eyes only.]
Female elf with long, braided red hair, freckles, and lots of silver jewelry
Because Trista helped the party escape the werewolves, it’s likely they think of her as an ally. As a lieutenant in the Guardians of the Vale, she takes her duties very seriously, but is chastised sometimes for not adhering to the order’s exacting demands.
Motivation: I need to help others.
Flaw: I take personal responsibility for the bad things that happen to those in my life. I should have been there. I should have fixed it.
[Trista is held in high regard among the denizens of the Vale. They respect her for her ability to navigate the fae’s mercurial natures while protecting their borders.]
Green-skinned fae with pixie-cut, white-blond hair, missing tip of left ear, and intense dark green eyes
Velaviryn is rigid and exacting, which makes her perfect for her role as Grand Marshal of the Guardians of the Vale. With unflinching assuredness, she holds to the ancient demands of her order. The safety of the Vale rests in it being kept secret and separate from the fallen lands without.
Motivation: I have devoted my entire life to maintaining the security and mystery of my homeland. I would give my life to keep it safe and take the life of any who would try to endanger it.
Flaw: I must be well-liked and respected.
[Velaviryn is a cunning opportunist who plays into any goodwill the party shows her in order to further her own ends. Most of the fae in the Vale have a fearful respect for Velaviryn and credit their continued safety with her steadfast execution of her duties. Her isolationist leanings have put her increasingly at odds with Inamoira and Bitterbranch.]
Dryad with smooth, white-birch skin, intense black eyes; beautiful and mysterious
Inamoira is cautious of the party and has a distrust of outsiders, though she is more ready to be relaxed around party members with Fey Ancestry or those who are natural-magic users. Her caution quickly recedes if the party expresses any desire to learn more about or actively help bring back the Four Sisters. She resides in Diannan’s Glade and keeps watch over the shattered ancient tree.
Motivation: I will stop at nothing in my mission to bring back the Sisters.
Flaw: I cannot understand and actively mistrust those who do not share my specific goals.
[Inamoira was a young dryad when Steymhorod fell into the Shadlowlands, but she was old enough to hear her mother’s stories about her best friend and powerful ally Diannan, the Sister of the Forest. Inamoira learned after the fall that her mother died trying to intercede on behalf of Diannan. The dryad has since devoted her life to her mother’s cause, the redemption of the Four Sisters.]
A living limber pine evidently blackened by fire
Ever surly, Bitterbranch was the target of many fae pranks even in his youth. One particularly cruel antic resulted in fire scarring Bitterbranch, leaving his bark blackened and his disposition even more sour. He withdrew for years, skulking at the edge of the Vale, finding solace in solitude. In this time, he befriended a branch of the Black Oak and began conversing through it with the world outside the Green Vale. Over time, other misfits and outcasts of the Green Vale were drawn to the newly confident and connected Bitterbranch, and he found himself at the head of a movement seeking unification with the dark lands of Steymhorod.
Motivation: I have given my entire life to protecting the delicate balance here in the Green Vale, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that nothing disrupts that balance.
Flaw: I know the world is out to get me, and I don’t like it. [Bitterbranch is accustomed to being treated with suspicion. It does not put him off at all. He is unapologetic about his connection with Drogo and the party’s primary prey, Lord Nassarq.]
Part One: A Uniquely Warm Welcome
This adventure picks up as the party collects themselves in the Green Vale, a bastion of fae beauty (and trickery) in the midst of the dark lands of Steymhorod.
A Riot of Color
Read or paraphrase the following after recapping the party’s previous exploits:
With your heart still pounding from your narrow escape at the jaws of a pack of werewolves, you take a moment to compose yourself and observe your surroundings. Compared to the drab darkness of the Witchwood, this forest is a riot of color. Bark and leaves of every color . . . and purple bunnies?
Appearing from behind a tree if they’ve not yet caught sight of her, Trista approaches the party and demands curtly that they follow her. A DC 14 Wisdom (Insight) check reveals that she seems nervous about something and is masking it with decisive action. If prompted, she cryptically says, “This shouldn’t have happened, but it’s too late now. Let’s just go.” She leads the party deeper into the increasingly fantastical forest.
After a few hours of travel, a strange sound greets your ears, one you haven’t heard since entering these dark lands. Music and song trickle out of a bright, clearing ahead—complete with sunshine! Trista leads the way forward, announcing, “Welcome to Berryville. Watch your step.”
Welcome to Berryville!
Along the edge of the large clearing, a great mass of ripe berry bushes surrounds an adorable collection of tiny houses fashioned from stone and bark. Sprites, pixies, and mousefolk bustle into, out of, and all around the bushes as they harvest berries. On the northern side of the little town stands a human-proportioned shack with a moss-covered roof. A woman with wild hair and a kind smile pushes back the curtain of leaves covering the door.
When the party steps into view, the smallfolk first gawk but quickly swarm the new arrivals. They inundate the party and Trista with questions, greetings, and berries. Seeing the commotion, the woman from the shack makes her way over. Trista introduces her as Mariella Aimes, the hedge witch.
Wild, unkempt hair that frequently plays host to forest critters; warm, gray eyes
Motivation: I make sure that the small folk of the Vale get the respect they deserve.
Flaw: I am easily offended, especially when I feel that I am not being taken seriously.
Mariella greets the party and deduces that they have recently survived some kind of harrowing adventure. She offers them a bowl of goodberries and tells them to make themselves at home near her shack, safely out of the way of the busy small folk. She gives a significant look to Trista and whispers something in her ear. Characters with a passive Perception of 15 or higher hear, “She is going to be mad. Where are they from!?”
Mariella is a gracious host and wants to learn the party’s story. Inside a nearby tree, a dryad aligned with Inamoira secretly listens in on their conversation. A successful DC 17 Wisdom (Nature) check allows a player to notice her subtle presence. If she is called out, she is embarrassed and explains that she was just curious. A DC 14 Wisdom (Insight) check reveals that she is withholding information. If pressed, she says Inamoira is expecting her and leaves.
In addition to the secret dryad, an agariconid (fungal folk) is hidden among a clump of mushrooms. A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check allows the PC to detect him peeking around a large toadstool. Unlike the dryad, if detected, this agariconid attempts to flee immediately back to Bitterbranch.
[GM’s note: Inamoira and Bitterbranch learn everything that the party divulges to Mariella if their agents successfully leave. They use this information in their interactions with the party later.]
When the conversation with Mariella lulls, the party senses a shift in the air. Leaping from a nearby tree, wielding a deadly lance, a formidable fae executes a three-point landing in the midst of the party before affixing a steely stare on Trista. “Explain,” she demands in Sylvan. Velaviryn has arrived.
She does not deign to speak with or acknowledge the party. Characters that understand Sylvan hear Velaviryn interrogate Trista about why they are here, what they want, and if they know that they must now forever reside in the Vale. Velaviryn fixes an unwelcoming gaze on the party before leaping back into the forest. Trista excuses herself shortly after, promising to return in the evening.
Mariella isn’t eager to divulge every part of the conversation to the party but can be convinced with a DC 12 Charisma (Persuasion) check. The hedge witch wants the party to rest and recover here where it is safe. Smallfolk begin to swarm in and insist that the party allow them to play host for at least tonight. An increasingly raucous party ensues.
Trista returns partyway through the festivities and deflects the party’s questions about what transpired between herself and the fae. At GM’s discretion, Trista can stay by the party’s side as their escort through the Green Vale, or she can depart the next morning on business for the Guardians.
A Thief in the Night
Ask the party how they imagine their character behaving in this scenario, partying with fae folk. Drink and delicious food flows freely.
At the end of the night, ask the party to roll Constitution saving throws, DC 20. On a failure, they fall into a deep, deep sleep. When the characters wake up, the Heart of the Fields is gone.
On a success, a soft rustling awakens the PC. The Heart of the Field Fane rises gently through the air, suspended by a magical hand, and begins to drift toward the edge of the woods! Success on a Dexterity or Strength check opposed by Flibble’s Intelligence (Arcana) check allows them to recover the Heart. [Flibble has +3 to Arcana.] To detect the source of the magic, a character must succeed on a Wisdom (Perception) check contested by Flibble’s Dexterity (Stealth) check. [Flibble has +4 to Stealth and makes the check with advantage.]
Should the character catch sight of Flibble, they see a splotchy goblin with a bright white beard. Flibble does whatever he can to escape the party. If captured, he falls silent and only reveals the information in the “What Happened” sidebar if the party convinces him that they pose an even more immediate threat to his safety than Velaviryn by succeeding on a DC 18 Strength or Charisma (Intimidation) check. Alternatively, if the party resorts to outright torture, then gnome spills his story.
In the night, a gnome named Flibble affiliated with Inamoira (the dryad of Diannan’s Dale) disguised himself as a goblin and crept into Berryville to pilfer the Heart of the Field. Flibble would have happily returned the item to Inamoira in the hopes that with the heart, the Diannan’s Dale could bring back one of the Four Sisters; however, Velaviryn had other plans.
The Grand Marshal caught Flibble returning into the Green Vale from a forbidden scouting operation searching for the Fanes. Flibble begged for leniency, and to his surprise, received it in return for information on Inamoira’s operations.
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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