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 three 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.
In part three of this adventure, the party explores the Black Oak and attempts to win the favor of Bitterbranch, a disgruntled treant loyal to the lord of the land, Drogo.
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Part Three: The Black Oak
Various clues point to investigating the Black Oak, the area around which Bitterbranch has collected the misfits and outcasts of the Green Vale, including a number of goblinoids.
As the party approaches, read or paraphrase the following:
Twisted, thorny brambles create a prickly wall around this shaded, eerily beautiful settlement. Various monstrous and goblinoid races calmly walk to and fro across this glade. Cheers erupt from a large gap in the northeast corner. A charred treant sitting before a massive black oak casts a curious look at your party as a troupe of bugbears and goblins approaches.
In perfect Common, one of the bugbears inquires as to the nature of the party’s interest in Black Oak. Wary of outsiders, he regards the party with suspicion and becomes aggressive at any detected deception. Before things get too out of hand, a crow alights from the treant’s branches and pecks a message onto the helmet of the bugbear who turns to the party and sneers, “Bitterbranch has taken an interest. He will see you.” The guards escort the party to Bitterbranch’s court.
Interview with Bitterbranch
As the party nears, the blackened treant rests his hand on the towering black oak that dominates this darkly beautiful court. Although there is a throne-like chair here, it rests beside the tree. “Yes, my Lord, it will be done,” the treant says in a deep voice before turning to regard the party.
[Bitterbranch has been conversing with Lord Drogo about the new arrivals to his land. The treant interviews the party in an attempt to size them up and confirm what his spies have already told him. Should the party bring up the Heart of the Fields, he hides his agitation that they do not have it. A DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) allows the character to see his frustration. He intended to relieve the party of the treasure, both to subvert his rival Inamoira and to increase his rapport with Lord Drogo. He is frustrated that someone else has beaten him to it.]
Below is the most important information Bitterbranch offers the party:
- The party has caused quite a stir in the Vale. It is exceedingly rare that outsiders are suffered to live here.
- Powerful forces have taken an interest in the party. Lord Drogo himself has asked Bitterbranch to give him a report on the new, intriguing interlopers.
- Bitterbranch is a trusted confidant of Lord Drogo. They often talk via the Black Oak here. [Bitterbranch may reveal that the Black Oak has sentimental connections to Lord Drogo, but the treant does not know the history of the tree and Marena, Drogo’s long-dead wife.]
- Lord Drogo has too much going on to investigate the party himself at the moment as one of his prodigal spawn has recently arrived back in Steymhorod.
Bitterbranch makes the party an offer. If they can prove their mettle in the Pit of Despondency, the party may join the family here, after which, Bitterbranch will use his influence to set them on the right path toward reacquiring the Heart.
The Pit of Despondency
In the bottom of a sinkhole covered in soft sand, tall, sloping walls rise to carved out bench seats filled with the “less-desirable” monstrous folk of the Green Vale. The party’s supervisor, a black and white satyr named Jicos, explains the rules of the Pit. The implications for the party are outlined in parentheses below:
- This isn’t a fight to the death, to humiliation, or anything of that nature. Sportsmanship is appreciated. Winning by too large a margin might not be taken well. (Winning a round grants 1 point. Outstanding sportsmanship grants an additional 2 points. Losing taxes 1 point. Winning with overwhelming force taxes 2 points.)
- Under no circumstances should combatants endanger those in the stands. Doing so would have immediate and severe repercussions. (Casting an area of effect spells or rolling a natural one with a ranged weapon attack costs 1 point each occurrence.)
- Magic that the crowd can see is considered in better taste than magic they cannot. It’s not unheard of for combatants to use charms and whatnot, but . . . (Any charms or spells requiring Wisdom or Intelligence saving throws cost 1 point each use.)
Ultimately, the party wants to accumulate more points than their opposition over the course of three sets of combat. The GM should adjust each of these encounters to offer the party an appropriate challenge. Each of the encounters is broken by a short rest and Jicos interpreting the crowd’s reaction. A combatant who reaches 0 hp is unconscious, not killed.
In round one, the party faces Bellona Black, a druid of the Hawthorne Conclave (Appendix) and 2x vulpine (Appendix).
Second, the party faces off against a hobgoblin named Tethi and her crew of 6x goblins. During the fight, select a character to attempt a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check. On a success, the character notes that none of the goblins have a white beard.
Third, the party faces off against Malak. He has the stats of a troll with the following changes: he has an Intelligence of 16, a casting modifier of +5, and a spell save of 15. Malak has 2 first-level spell slots and 1 second-level spell slot. He can use those slots to cast any eligible spells of the GM’s choosing.
At the close of combat each combat round, Jicos debriefs with the party. Use the following table for the satyr’s final debrief tallying the three rounds:
Pit of Despondency Score Table
|Score||Result (after 3 rounds)|
|>0||The party is regarded with derision and escorted out of the area. They are met with hostility in this region.|
|1-2||The party has made a moderate impression. Their efforts aren’t renowned, but Bitterbranch agrees to offer them a modest amount of assistance.|
|3-4||The party has made a strong impression. In addition to the treant’s help, the party receives 1 uncommon magic item of the GM’s choosing.|
|5-6||The party are regarded as heroes of the Black Oak. In addition to rewards at 3-4, the party receives 1 rare magic item of the GM’s choosing.|
|7+||The party becomes legend. In addition to rewards at 5-6, the party gains the genuine trust and respect of Bitterbranch, who is willing to grant them a large favor or, if he cannot help, promises to put them in touch with someone who can. [GM’s note: This is a great chance for the party to make the acquaintance of Lord Drogo, however distantly. See the Lord Drogo’s Motivations sidebar for more details.]|
Investigating the Black Oak
If Bitterbranch is satisfied with the party in the aftermath of the Pit of Despondency, he reveals the following information:
- According to his investigations, none of his goblins (and he keeps close tabs) are unaccounted for or could have possibly interfered with the party in Berryville.
- One of his informants indicated that Inamoira sent one of her agents to the party. She is a fanatic and should be regarded with extreme caution. She resides in Diannan’s Dale.
With a score of 5 or higher in the Pit of Despondency, or through a successful DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check, Bitterbranch divulges that Lord Drogo knows that the Heart of the Fields has revealed itself to the party. They should be careful, lest they anger or threaten the lord of the land.
This adventure continues next week with part four of A Thief in the Night.
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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