RPG Adventure Hook – Soup and Slaad
We’re back this week with, an underground lair, an ancient feud, and a thrilling conclusion!
And now the thrilling conclusion to Commotion Near the Ocean…
“Bring the stone,” the note had said, “I WILL ASCEND.” The writing was distorted, the scrawl of a hand grasping a pen for the first time. There was no mistaking it though, this too was Calvarius’ writing. Something in the way he wrote the C’s. This was his writing then. Information detailing the strange talisman he’d found, questions asked and answered in differing stages of coherency. The stone was important…tuned to the energies of chaos…it was the key to…something. Any answers, it seemed, were waiting in the depths below…Advertisement
Continuing our adventure from last week, the PC’s pick up where they left off, having defeated a bunch of chuul and possibly an insane galeb duhr near an altar to some ancient deity. Now that beast–in actuality an aboleth–searches for the key to its dark ascension, while our heroes try and rescue an ensorcelled mage from a dire fate in the midst of an incursion of chaos.
When last we left our adventurers, they had helped Erminia Dunst, apprentice mage, fight off a horde of chuul bent on retrieving a mystic talisman (actually the control stone for a powerful Slaad commander) at the behest of their master, an ancient aboleth who lairs in a vast underground lake nearby. This aboleth, Glauraakh the Ancient, has been seeking the talisman retrieved by her master (and Glauraakh’s servant) Calvarius Enkrith. The party found his missing journal in an underground shrine to an ancient deity–and there learned of his fate. Messages he wrote down as orders from the aboleth.
Following the clues left in the journals, the PCs (and Erminia) can track Calvarius to the aboleth’s lairr. There they’ll face its servants–and the aboleth itself only to have the festivities interrupted when the Slaad invade, raiding Glauraakh’s sanctuary. In the ensuing free-for-all, there is a battle to try and take possession of the stone. If the PCs can wrest it from the opposing parties, they can gain control of the powerful commander of the raid–if the aboleth gains possession of it, they will instead face a slaad transformed by dark power–and an aboleth on the verge of deific ascension!
Read on for more details, or skip right to the end for all the stats and encounters you’ll need!
Shrine on you crazy talisman.
This is the same shrine from the end of the last adventure.
In the days prior to the PCs arrival, the chuul had used this shrine as a base camp for their raids. They had been attacking travellers on the road, looking in particular for people they deem to be “useful servants” for their master, Glauraakh the Ancient, an aboleth whom they worship as a deity. To this end, they had captured a merchant, a fisherman, a charlatan who claims to be a cleric of a sun god, an empty suit of +1 heavy armor (your choice, it should have a helmet though, and be displayed on a stand, so it resembles a person, vaguely), and a scarecrow.
The prisoners are kept chained up in empty alcoves and natural little cavern offshoots of the shrine. Freeing them requires a DC 10 Thieves’ Tools check, or a DC 14 strength check to destroy the rusted chains. Erminia can, if all else fails, return with a few scrolls of knock, but this will take time to gather. When freed, the former prisoners express their gratitude and are willing to answer questions the PCs might have.
The merchant: Gorli, a dwarven merchant captain, will tell the party that she was captured by the chuul three days ago. They brought her here and a thing has been speaking in her mind, asking him what she knows of runes and stones. Gori will inform the party that she never really had truck with magic or runes, and in fact hated always being enclosed, which is why she left her home to become a merchant. If asked about the voice in her head, she will say that it feels “ancient as stone.” If the PCs free her without making her wait, she’ll offer them wares from her shop in town at a 15% discount (she has a fine selection of alchemical items, trade goods, and potions [including several potions of water breathing]).
The fisherman: Llewellyn Vol, a local fisherman, was the first prisoner of the chuul. They captured him when they burst up out of the lake–“near as I can tell ‘ey were out for revenge. I told ’em I never caught no lobsters, but they wasn’t havin’ it.” He believes that he has been brought here to pay for his crimes, and speaks about the ancient statue here. “A nasty lookin’ fish, to be certain…like a catfish and a squid got together I reckon.”
The charlatan: Thaddeus Balerian is a con artist, who currently makes his living pretending to be a cleric of a sun god. He is in fact a sorcerer, but prefers to hide the dragon blood in his ancestry by claiming that the fire he calls is that of the sun itself, rather than descended from a red dragon long ago. Thaddeus will spout all manner of incorrect information about his deity–but he has learned a thing or two in his time as a fake man of the mace. He will inform the PCs that he recognizes all the signs of a con–no deity that is active would suffer its shrine to be so desecrated. Even one that commanded the chuul would use its influence to get it looking nice–he imagines it’s a powerful beast to be communicating telepathically. It tried to take over his mind, but, he is bolstered by his faith (or, if the PCs have discovered his secret), “well, it takes a better liar than this one to catch me…”
PCs who examine the statue and succeed on a DC 15 Arcana check will recognize the shape of an aboleth in the destroyed remains of the statue. PCs who examine the journal and succeed at a DC 12 Investigation or Insight check will be able to piece together some of Calvarius’ ramblings into a coherent location. Those who fail must rely on the talisman.
Speaking of the talisman–it activates while the PCs are in the shrine, vibrating with power. A DC 21 Arcana check reveals its true nature (the control stone for a Slaad), whereas a DC 12 Arcana check only reveals its nature as a powerful ward against mental magic. It offers those within 10ft of its bearer (likely Erminia) a +2 bonus on all saves vs. charm effects. If someone attunes to it, they can cause it to reach out to 30 ft. but the bearer will also feel a psychic pull that gently nudges it towards the aboleth’s lair. A DC 10 Wisdom check will let the PC focus enough to follow it safely. Failure means the PC is stunned for one round. (Any PC who fails this save ALSO has disadvantage on any effects produced by Glauraakh the Ancient, but can still feel the pull).
Deep waters run still.
Following the trail of either the journal or the talisman, the PCs will find their way through the caverns and into a massive open cavern with a vast lake. Here on the shore is the first line of Glauraakh’s domain. Here they will find a band of 3 merrow per playerr and 1 chuul per player waiting to fight them. Players who arrived by actively focusing on its psychic pull set off an alarm upon entry (audible ping). They may be on their guard as they appraoch–and the merrow and chuul are laying in ambush in the lake. Players who approach stealthily will find the merrow near the lake’s edge, with the chuul spread out in the cavern, clawing at rocks mindlessly.
Over the course of the fight the merrow attempt to harpoon characters and drag them into the water. Meanwhile the chuul will attempt to drag off characters they can into the lake.
Once one or more characters have entered the lake (either voluntarily or being dragged) the merrow will focus their attacks on any waterborne targets, using their natural speed and mobility in the water to gain an advantage. If the players succeed in driving them off (the merrow will flee once all the chuul have fallen), they will find the lakeshore is home to valuable gems that the chuul have gathered. They are worth 1d4x400 gp.
However this fight alerts the aboleth. Which lairs in a cavern deep beneath the lake.
Tuna slaad sandwich
The PCs can feel the pull of the talisman much more strongly here. It glows with light (they may believe this is due to the aboleth exerting control, but this is incorrect. A DC 15 arcana check will reveal it is because someone else has found it…) out to 60 ft. Curiously, the psychic pull is gone. But a cursory investigation will reveal the cavern within the lake–a DC 5 insight check will reveal that the Chuul and Merrow all seemed to have come from the deeps.
Finding the cavern isn’t hard now that the PCs have arrived. Fortunately, Gorli can provide them with some potions to help explore the lake. Once the PCs enter the cavern, the real fun begins. Glauraakh attacks them near the entrance to the cavern, with a small band of merrow. In the initial encounter, the aboleth attempts to inflict its disease on at least two players, as well as attempting to enslave any who seem weak-willed.
However after three rounds or so, Glauraakh retreats to its sanctum to gather what strength remains. The PCs meanwhile must engage a pack of 5 ancient beasts (use the giant shark entry) that it has cobbled together. At long last, after making their way through the creatures, they arrive at the sanctum–the other shore of the underground lake. The aboleth lairs in the bottom of the lake, and it is attended by 4 merrow per player, 1 chuul per player, and Calvarius (use the generic mage entry).
When the PCs arrive in Glauraakh’s sanctuary, the talisman vibrates and the world warps. Chaos itself intrudes on the battle, and Crauk appears, looking to reclaim his talisman. If you’re feeling up to running a large fight, feel free to have him accompanied by a band of red and blue slaad, who will attack anyone and everyone they are near. If this is the case, increase the number of chuul to 2 per player (and have them engage with the Slaad). Crauk seems intent on grabbing the stone, as is Glauraakh. It is chaos everywhere.
At this point, Erminia puts two and two together (if the players haven’t), realizing that it is meant to go with the Slaad. She will attempt to use it (or one of the more Arcana inclined PCs can). The way this works is as follows: The PC (or Erminia) “using” the stone must spend their action and movement “tuning” the stone. This is achieved by a DC 17 Arcana check (Erminia passes on a 12). Once three checks have been passed, the player (or Erminia) can force Crauk to obey them–controlling him as though Dominate Monster had been cast with no save. However, the player doing this must also maintain concentration (as though casting a spell). Failure means they must start over.
If Glauraakh’s servants manage to take the talisman, then the aboleth will attempt to do the same once it receives the talisman (the aboleth succeeds on a 7).
Seeing anyone attempting this sends Crauk into a frenzy in which he attacks Glauraakh each turn, if able. If Crauk retrieves his stone, he will vanish via Plane Shift if at or below 50% hp. Once he has it though, he will fight any who tried to keep it from him. PCs may be able to convince him to team up against the aboleth with the offer of his stone and a DC 17 Persuasion check.
Once the aboleth has been destroyed and Crauk is slain or returned, the world feels a little less chaotic and corrupt. The PCs have rid the world of an ancient evil–a fact for which the land itself is grateful. PCs suffering from the aboleth’s disease are cured. And ALL characters present when Glauraakh is slain gain an extra 3d6 of healing that they can call on at any time. The dice remain until spent.
Additionally, the PCs can find a Trident of Fish Command, a +2 weapon. Additionally, Players succeeding on a DC 12 Arcana check will know that the aboleth’s eye can be fashioned into either a gem of seeing (only usable 1/day), or worked into a helm of telepathy.
Glauraakh the Ancient
Large aberration, lawful evil
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 135 (18d10 + 36)
Speed 10 ft., swim 40 ft.
Saving Throws Con +6, Int +8, Wis +6
Skills History +12, Perception +10
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 20
Languages Deep Speech, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Amphibious. The aboleth can breathe air and water.
Mucous Cloud. While underwater, the aboleth is surrounded by transformative mucus. A creature that touches the aboleth or that hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is diseased for 1d4 hours. The diseased creature can breathe only underwater.
Probing Telepathy. If a creature communicates telepathically with the aboleth, the aboleth learns the creature’s greatest desires if the aboleth can see the creature.
Multiattack. The aboleth makes three tentacle attacks.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become diseased. The disease has no effect for 1 minute and can be removed by any magic that cures disease. After 1 minute, the diseased creature’s skin becomes translucent and slimy, the creature can’t regain hit points unless it is underwater, and the disease can be removed only by heal or another disease-‐curing spell of 6th level or higher. When the creature is outside a body of water, it takes 6 (1d12) acid damage every 10 minutes unless moisture is applied to the skin before 10 minutes have passed.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft. one target. Hit: 15 (3d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage.
Enslave (3/Day). The aboleth targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed by the aboleth until the aboleth dies or until it is on a different plane of existence from the target. The charmed target is under the aboleth’s control and can’t take reactions, and the aboleth and the target can communicate telepathically with each other over any distance. Whenever the charmed target takes damage, the target can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the effect ends. No more than once every 24 hours, the target can also repeat the saving throw when it is at least 1 mile away from the aboleth.
Retreat to the depths (1/Day). The aboleth teleports to its sanctum as a bonus action.
The aboleth can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The aboleth regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Detect. The aboleth makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.
Tail Swipe. The aboleth makes one tail attack.
Psychic Drain (Costs 2 Actions). One creature charmed by the aboleth takes 10 (3d6) psychic damage, and the aboleth regains hit points equal to the damage the creature takes.
Medium aberration (shapechanger), chaotic neutral
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 127 (17d8 + 51)
Speed 30 ft.
Skills Arcana +5, Perception +6
Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder
Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Slaad, common, telepathy 60 ft.
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Shapechanger. Crauk can use his action to polymorph into a Small or Medium humanoid, or back into his true form. His statistics, other than his size, are the same in each form. Any equipment he is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. He reverts to his true form if he dies.
Innate Spellcasting. Crauk’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14). Crauk can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- At Will – detect magic, detect thoughts, invisibility (self only), mage hand, major image.
- 2/day each – fear, fly, fireball, tongues
- 1/day – plane shift (self only)
Magic Resistance. Crauk has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic weapons. Crauk’s weapon attacks are magical.
Regeneration. Crauk regains 10 hit points at the start of his turn if he has at least 1 hit point.
Multiattack. Crauk makes three attacks, one with his bite and two with his claws or greataxe.
Bite (Slaad form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.
Claws (Slaad form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. one target. Hit: 8 (1d10 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
Greataxe. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. one target. Hit: 10 (1d12 + 3) bludgeoning damage.