The basic idea is an evil spell-caster is attempting to usurp a yearly sacrifice to regain his power - he has kidnapped the intended sacrifice for this years event. The PCs should be strangers to the town, as all local law enforcement can't seem to find the young woman. But once they start, it's all downhill from there, and pretty straightforward to complete. Some of what I found when I ran it, I added between asterisks. *
Night of Masks or My 2015 Halloween Game
A. Background & Contact
B. Golden Hounds
C. Tower and Minor Golem
D. Evil Gargoyle Watchers
E. Lawful Dwarf Guards
G. Small Room
H. Manacle Room
I. Chain Devil
J. Locked Door
K. Trap Passageway
L. Rape-y Statue
M. Prisoner, Petitioner and Gug (Big Bad Monster)
N. Mask Party and Resolution with Mastermind
Background: Night of Masks is a Halloween like holiday, in which the participants dress up and are free to break all vows, it has a dark history. Each of the local village towns in the farming Flatlands provide the names of the willing young ladies, one of them chosen during the harvest fest and after a year of living in luxury they are hung to appease the dark spirits. If the dark spirits are not appeased, legend has it that dark monsters will be freed, and will cause chaos and destruction. Something has gone wrong this year, as six days ago the young lady was kidnapped - the town needs to find their sacrifice as there is only three more nights until the Night of Masks.
Contacted by town agents, Nurther (9th level Knight) and Lady Bazznika (12th level Cleric) who have asked the party to meet them privately at a bar. Both are dressed up in fancy party regalia, and ask the party to help find a missing young lady, the annual blood sacrifice. They don't know who could be responsible, as everyone in town could potentially be victims if the spirits are unhappy and their pact is broken. The only thing they know that is different are the golden hounds (blink dogs), a beloved dog that has helped the region in the past is now here in large numbers. (Wildlife DC Low). This town is infamous for their crypt of Lord Volonez, an insane wizard who could summon unworldly creatures. Lord Nurther commands the guards at and near the secret grave all year, he highly doubts it could be him.
Just outside the pub is a group of small-sized, sleek white dogs with golden streaks called Golden Hounds. They are well known but they rarely stay in town for long. If approached will be peaceful, will bark answers to yes, growl for no. Will not lead them to the Tower during the daytime. One dog accompanies the party.
Large tower, on the edge of town overlooking a few boarding houses and some bad taverns. Once the lair of an infamous wizard, Lord Volonez, now it's little used but always watched. Local rumors tell of winged figures haunting the place at night, it's significance is unknown.
If the players approach the Tower windows (50 & 125 ft), they will be attacked by four gargoyles. If PCs are not using magic devices, they will do significantly less damage.
Next stage depends on if they enter thru the top (Gargoyles) or the bottom windows (Golem.) The main doors are locked, they need to knock loudly and request entry, possibly making a diplomacy check. If they come in any other way, they will quickly be attacked by the Golem who will throw blood globs at them.
The upper areas of the town are demolished, doors broken and every piece of art, destroyed. Slogans about various warlords are spread large across the walls. Small campsites in disarray, destroyed weapons. Freshly killed impaled bodies...which is extremely unusual, probably against the law, especially given the elaborate funeral rituals that happens to ensure undead do not arise. **not used**
A small contingent of 8 Dwarves are stationed near the main stairs, sitting around a table, drinking and playing cards. One of them stands, giving an official greeting, the SR officer is old, sleeping, passed out. They refuse to accept the story about gargoyles in town and say nothing else is here at the station or post. They tell the group they can search the upstairs to see if there's anything around. If they go down the circular stairs, they are warned there are creepies down there but nothing that comes to the surface.
The next level is around 1000 feet down, the stairs are well built, every 12th stone has a slight glow, just enough to see the steps. Lanterns can be lit with a light spell but all of them would be for 300 ft. (Note the stairs only go down - going back up reveals the stairs don't go back up to the top.) **One of the players made a risky choice of sliding down, very fun scene!**
They come to a small room, ten feet around, with a doorway and signs of a door bust through. A short passageway leads to a large heavy door. Locked, (Difficult to open) but with a peering window reveal a much larger room, filled with a dozen manacles on the walls...two of the chains have people.
If they go in, they see more manacles and five people in total, two ladders going up on the opposite wall, and a large double set of doors locked by chains. Looking up, they will see large windows on the ceiling but it shows cavernous walls outside. One ladder goes to a set of locked doors, sealed by a holy glyph the other to an area previously locked, that opens to a room filled with bodies of beasts hanging upside down, covered with glowing runes. In the primary holding room, around 200 hundred feet around, only one of the prisoners was male. The only one still barely alive though is a middle aged woman, badly bruised, unconscious. After they approach the fourth body, a grey circular light flashes, then 3 to 5 gray skinned humanoids appear, with chains dangling from their bodies. A smack down should ensue. (Use medium level outer planar monsters, such as Kyton.)
If they use magic to work awaken the girl, she tells her tale. Her name is Fanara, who works at a tavern, well outside of town. She was kidnapped by gnolls during a raid and she believes she was sold to a vile necromancer, who wore a hood and commanded a bunch of silver winged undead. She remembers awakening here with two dozen others, lots of screaming and tears...individuals taken, experimented on. Slowly the others died, she knows little else. If asked what did they do to her, it was drink poisons...they were always so much vomiting. Those who died, had their arms explode in vermin.
The characters can try to go back but the stairs apparently don't go up to the top, they are a few hundred feet shy. They are forced to go forward, the double doors are next. Not locked directly, but a heavy chain wrapped around the doors. If the characters touch the chain they will be shocked (3d6 Low Level Save) save for half. A character must willingly grab the chain to remove it. If the players use any means to disengage the chain, save again for 10d6 damage (Medium Level Save).
**took dmg then defused it**
There are heavy tracks, lots of rope, much of it chewed on. Going forward the floor drops, anyone falling takes 7d10 dmg (half if low acrobatics DC is made). Once the floor drops it is stable for 2d6 minutes. If anyone drops, they are in a area made of the bones of the dead, snakes are coming towards them. They need to put a weight down, then if a rope is lowered they can climb up or just wait until the floor drops again. **reworded this scene that game night, monster tentacles grabbed from below. The party took cultist cowls to go through. The scene took too long, should have stuck with what I had written.**
Going forward they come to an oddly decorated room, with the decor of naked people fornication with demonic beasts being bitten with blood spraying out. In one corner a small group of piously dressed but blindfolded humans walking thru the scene, there. A huge statue of a demon with robes and many hands, but seems to be decorated with blood. Anyone with religion / religious leanings must make a will save as they have images of gratification against the statue and those failing will have dreaming delusions of fornication with the statue. **one of the players got right into it, she had fun. Good scene.**
A cleric detects evil from the entire room. The players should realize the bleeding person in the montage is offering their blood, this scene shows someone must provide a blood sacrifice, inflicting 25 unholy damage. If a religious check is made they will know that this damage can't be healed by clerical spells or magic. The statue takes no damage from spells or weapons. They need to follow the instructions, with someone willing to submit to the beast, with the rest of the party blindfolding or looking away. The characters will hear her tears, her screams and a demonic laughter and the louder pitch. She is drained 25 HP but only 5 of that is unholy damage.
Once the blood is given, another passageway will appear, they will go down further and see an arena with even more walled manacles and a center hole, around it are 9 dark robed individuals chanting. One hooded masked figure on a large raised dais, a figure dressed in green chained beside him...is the victim they are trying to save. **Party took the time to plan, very good planned actions for them.**
The chanting cultists turn to face the heroes but as they do a huge gray arm comes out from the hole. As the bestial form emerges, their chanting increases, what does the party want to do? Large, furry monster, head opens its maw on the top of its head their elbows split, two arms on both sides. When enough of the handlers are taken out, the BLBG will emerge. If the party approaches the dais, Volonez will go out a back door.
They must face the BLBG beast who tries to demolish them, battle should be heroic as the beast uses awesome blow to beat them down. When completed, they should be exhausted. They approach the chained victim, unable to get her out of the chains. She is pleading with them to get her free. They know that they cannot cut her out, she must be whole before the ceremony. They cannot pick the locks or break them...The only chance is to find the Lord Volonez, who has the keys. **two party members chase after Volonez, I dumped the fight making it much easier..warrior and cleric took him on and the rogue tried to free the enslaved woman.**
When they go after him, they lead up first into a proper dungeon, then a well lit area, then into a huge wine cellar, from there to another set of stairs, until finally a huge formal dining area inhabited by four hundred or more masked party goers, all enjoying the Night of Masks fete. As soon as they enter, immediately healed then given buffing spells, contacted in their minds by Lady Bazznik ...she will ask them: Why are they here at the Gala? What do they need? They see her in the same dress, with her knight very close by. There are dozens of other soldiers in the room, you know they are loyal to the lady that will assist when needed. Did the players pay attention? (Perception roll to see if they remembered.)
Lord Volonez pays close attention to the goings-on, back to the wall. He has some allies here but he knows he is heavily outnumbered. He has knowledge but is unable to cast spells in his current state which is why he needs to spoil the sacrifice to begin his rebuilding of power. If not spotted, will use a distraction to escape. During the distraction only if players are paying attention do they get a chance to foil his escape and confront him. They can stop him in an alleyway and attack to kill him where he reveals what he is - can they get the keys? If they are able to kill him, he breaks apart into a colony of thousands of bugs and insects, it is only his pure malevolence that binds this creature together.
**My plan was ruined, as the rogue was a few steps behind Volonez...pointed him out at the party. The spell-casters blasted...him down. We were running out of time anyway, and since I didn't note that the door Volonez was running through should be locked, I wouldn't have felt right about changing it. **
If they are unable to capture Volonez, describe them going back into the dungeon, still being unable to break or open the locks holding the victim. Lady Bazznik then gets the PCs to help guard the victim until the Night, when two sacrifices are done, the public one solemnly witnessed that happens for the crowd. and a private one, in the sewers, done with a crying, desperate pained sacrifice. She has a tattoo that heals her, so the rope breaks until a chin is used, all the time crying out in despair and pain. This is intended to be an horrific scene that you may want to just rush through.
Regardless of what happens, the PCs should have made a few decent allies that can potentially lead to more missions.
Gargoyle = Low Level Flying CR
Blink Dog = CR 2
Low Level Golem CR 4 – 6
Medium Level Bad Guy = Kyton CR 4
High Level Bad Guy = Gug or a 12 HD evil outer planar
Mastermind Bad Guy = Volonez, a Worm that Walks, stats below.
Worm That Walks: AC High, Saves as a 10th lev Wizard; Immune to critical attacks, Dmg Reduction 15/-,Physical Attack: Insect Engulf 3d6 dmg; HP 90; One magical Atk Bolt of shadows +10 to hit / 3d6 evil dmg - he can cast once a round.
Volonez was a high level evil wizard but was killed while committing his crimes. He needs to ruin the purity of this sacrifice, to grow in power, perhaps enough to reclaim his body. His spirit infected a pile of insects to carry his soul, but will only have his full spell-power once he reclaims his body.