RPG Adventure Hook – Brass Locket Number 9
This week: a cursed locket, all the wrong places, and an unphiltered look at love.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled adventure hook to bring you a special Valentines Day adventure. Last week’s Adventure Hook – Commotion near the Ocean continues next week, so be sure to check back–in the meantime, bring on the heart-shaped foods!
The old merchant hadn’t seemed out of the ordinary. Sure, she’d been a tad pushy, almost aggressively interested in making sure that a good deal was offered–and she had exactly what they needed. They should’ve suspected something was wrong when she threw in the old brass locket. But then she was gone…her odd cackle echoing in the wind. Still at least the locket felt…powerful.
This adventure is aimed at characters of any level.
An old woman includes a cursed brass locket in among some goods that are on offer to the players. It functions as a powerful ward for a time…but, it carries with it a hidden price. A fiend is bound to it–a succubus or incubus depending on the kind of story you want to tell (we don’t judge), but at any rate, the fiend is bound to the locket, and to the one who wears it…
Hags are mysterious creatures. When one (in disguise, naturally) gets the PCs to accept a powerful amulet, the PCs find themselves stuck with the fiend that is bound to it. It doesn’t appear for a while–the PCs might not be aware that the fiend and the locket are connected at first. The fiend doesn’t appear until a while after the PCs have bought the locket…
But even if the PCs defeat the fiend, they’re still bound to the locket. They appear again, bound with feelings of love for whoever is wearing the amulet–appearing at the worst times, no less. In the middle of negotiations? Fighting other monsters? Doesn’t matter.
Once the PCs realize the amulet is cursed, they are unable to rid themselves of it. Even if they have access to remove curse, the locket remains until they track down the Hag (she’s not hard to find) who tells them of another, who was cursed along with the locket. If they want any hope of being free of the amulet, they need to bring the amulet where it’s been long absent.
The PCs find a lonely Paladin, cursed to wander alone, bereft of love. When the fiend shows up, sparks fly, both literally and figuratively (there’s a fight). And it falls to the PCs to help these two wayward and cursed souls learn to love each other.
Read on for more details, or skip below for all the stats you’ll need.
Hag-gling over prices
While the PCs are in town, acquiring provisions for their next adventure, or spending the treasure from their latest, they come across a merchant offering some magical trinkets for sale. The merchant is Agnora, a powerful hag (currently in disguise as a haggard old woman with a gold-tooth) who will sell the PCs a selection of uncommon magical items. Agnora enjoys the art of the deal–PCs who can make a DC 11 Insight check will understand that she cares more about haggling than she does abotu an actual sale, and can use this information to get a 10% reduction on prices.
However, whatever they decide to buy, she throws in an item for them, saying that she believes it is meant for one of the PCs. An old brass locket, inset with a gem. It radiates abjuration magic–and whichever PC equips it is immediately granted Advantage on all saving throws. Additionally, PCs within 10 feet of the bearer gain a flat +2 bonus to their saving throws. This is a powerful item–however it comes with a hidden price. A fiend is bound to the locket.
After a week or so (the PCs should feel free to go about their business enjoying the benefits of this locket), they are attacked by the fiend bound to the locket. As mentioned above, the fiend is either a succubus or an incubus–their stats are the same–and it is bound to the one who bears the locket. They will attack the party in an attempt to isolate them, either absconding with their victim or fleeing once below 25% of its hit points. If defeated, the fiend will reform and attack again at a later date.
If the fiend manages to abscond with their chosen target, they will attempt to charm and kiss them, but before the deadly kiss can occur, the fiend vanishes, only to return again at a later date, as above.
A bad case of loving you
The PCs should, by this time, realize the locket is cursed. Even remove curse won’t remove the item, though it will negate its effects for a day. After the initial attack by the fiend the locket begins to function inversely. One day after the first attack, it only adds +1 to the saves of those within 10 feet. The next day, it adds nothing. The next day it subtracts 1 from all saves and no longer grants advantage to its bearer. On the final day it is a -2 to saves within 10 feet, and its bearer is at disadvantage on all saves.
However, the bearer also has an innate sense of where Agnora is, leading the party back to the hag (where she is doubtless tying to foist another cursed item on some unsuspecting party of adventurers). She cackles delightedly at their return, saying she was wondering when they’d figure it out.
If attacked, Agnora will say that she is the only one who can help them remove the curse. Either way, she continues to reveal the story behind the curse:
Long ago, she met a pair of young lovers quarreling over something trivial. She could smell their arrogance, each believing that love was a simple thing that could be found at will. So she cursed them “for their own good,” transforming one into a fiend, and cursing the other to wander the world bereft of love, in the hopes that they would learn together to have and have not.
Now it seems the time has come to bring the two together. She proclaims that the curse can only be broken when the two are brought together and realize what they are missing. She then provides a cryptic clue as to the location of the wanderer.
All the wrong places
The PCs can attempt to follow the hag’s cryptic clue. A DC 20 insight check will interpret the last known location of the wanderer. Failure by less than five gives the choice of two locations, failure by 5-10 leaves the PCs with three leads, and failure by more means investigating all four locations before they find the Wanderer.
The Wanderer has, in the intervening years become an itinerant paladin, finding a kind of peace in helping others–and the PCs are on the trail of their last few quests. The locations they find are as follows:
- An empty dragon’s cave that has since become a bugbear den (PCs fight at least 1 bugbear per player, feel free to add more for added difficulty)
- A warren of kobolds (Perhaps they find Kirtaak’s kingdom), who alternate between attacking, surrendering, trying to swindle and bribe the intruders
- A grateful village no longer being attacked by orcs
- A fiendish temple, whose evil images have been struck down (only a pair of Ogres have moved in)
Once the PCs track down the Wanderer (who is waiting near whichever location you decide is most appropriate), the fiend appears immediately and attacks.
You always hurt the ones you love
As the two fight, sparks fly–the paladin crying out about how the fiend must be banished, the fiend struck with obsession. The PCs must help them to see past the appearance–a DC 16 persuasion check can help calm the fiend down, a DC 15 religion check can appeal to the Paladin’s better nature, alternatively defeating one or the other will stop them from fighting the hard way.
Once the two have been united, they still argue–more of the story comes out. Each has been lonely without the other. The paladin has found peace but has all but given up on love–“love is something for others. I have duty in its place.” And the fiend knows nothing but longing and desire.
Only with their powers combined can they break the curse–the paladin has the idea of tracking down the hag and showing her what they have learned–or at the very least defeating her so that no one is cursed by her again.
The course of true love
At long last, the PCs return to Agnora. This time she is waiting for them in her hut… where she is protected by a pair of Clay Golems. She will refuse to break the curse–saying that she doesn’t believe that either has learned their lesson, and initially it seems they haven’t.
Agnora orders her golems to attack, and in the ensuing fight both Paladin and Fiend work side by side with the PCs to destroy the golems and defeat Agnora. She will yield if reduced to below half hit points, or if both of her golems are destroyed. When the last one falls, so too does the locket. The curse is broken.
But the transformation remains. The wanderer is still weighed down by the years, and the fiend is still a fiend…but, if the PCs have taught them anything about love, they’ll at least have a shot at getting it right, which, the paladin will admit, “is more than many have.”
In Agnora’s hut, the PCs will find 2 Greater Healing potions each, 5,000 gold pieces, and a note from Agnora thanking them for helping prove an old woman right. She promises each of the PCs a boon, which can be redeemed as a casting of a spell of 8th level or lower (the PC who bore the necklace retains an innate sense of where in the world she is).
Medium fiend (shapechanger),
Armor class 15 (natural armor)
Hit points 66 (12d8 + 12)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
Skills Deception +9, Insight +5, Perception +5, Persuasion +9, Stealth +7
Damage resistances cold, fire, lightning, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, telepathy 60 ft.
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
Telepathic bond. The fiend ignores the range restriction on its telepathy when communicating with a creature it has charmed. The two don’t even need to be on the same plane of existence.
Shapechanger. The fiend can use its action to polymorph into a Small or Medium humanoid, or back into its true form. Without wings, the fiend loses its flying speed. Other than its size and speed, its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
Claw (Fiend Form Only). Melee weapon attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) slashing damage.
Charm. One humanoid the fiend can see within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed for 1 day. The charmed target obeys the fiend’s verbal or telepathic commands. If the target suffers any harm or receives a suicidal command, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on a success. If the target successfully saves against the effect, or if the effect on it ends, the target is immune to this fiend’s Charm for the next 24 hours. The fiend can have only one target charmed at a time. If it charms another, the effect on the previous target ends.
Draining Kiss. The fiend kisses a creature charmed by it or a willing creature. The target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw against this magic, taking 32 (5d10 + 5) psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.
Etherealness. The fiend magically enters the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, or vice versa.
Medium fiend, neutral evil
Armor class 17 (natural armor)
Hit points 112 (15d8 + 45)
Speed 30 ft.
Skills Deception +7, Insight +6, Perception +6, Stealth +6
Damage resistances cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons
Condition immunities charmed
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Primordial
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Innate spellcasting. The hag’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: detect magic, magic missile
2/day each: plane shift (self only), ray of enfeeblement, sleep
Magic resistance. The hag has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Claws (hag form only). Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage.
Change shape. The hag magically polymorphs into a Small or Medium female humanoid, or back into her true form. Her statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment she is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. She reverts to her true form if she dies.
Etherealness. The hag magically enters the Ethereal Plane from the Material Plane, or vice versa. To do so, the hag must have a heartstone in her possession.
Nightmare haunting (1/Day). While on the Ethereal Plane, the hag magically touches a sleeping humanoid on the Material Plane. A protection from evil and good spell cast on the target prevents this contact, as does a magic circle. As long as the contact persists, the target has dreadful visions. If these visions last for at least 1 hour, the target gains no benefit from its rest, and its hit point maximum is reduced by 5 (1d10). If this effect reduces the target’s hit point maximum to 0, the target dies, and if the target was evil, its soul is trapped in the hag’s soul bag. The reduction to the target’s hit point maximum lasts until removed by the greater restoration spell or similar magic.
Additionally, Agnora is protected by two Clay Golems.
~Happy Valentine’s Day