The Snake King, from his Temple in a forbidden area of the Jungle, has sent his minions and stolen a local village talisman. The villagers need their special stone for it carries inscriptions of healing and warding that has kept them safe for many years. This is an adventure for 4th to 5th level Player Characters.
The village council (representing 100 families) has decided that a trip to retrieve their stone from the Snake King is far too dangerous for any of their folk and are seeking mercenary types to do the deed. The stone itself is about one foot tall, oblong shaped, is grey and has white inscriptions upon its sides. The council offers 400gp and the PCs can keep all of the riches collected from the Temple - if they can manage it.
The villagers tell the PCs that there is a trail leading through the Jungle to a Stone Temple in a clearing not far distant. The journey only takes 1 full day but there are monstrous creatures that prevent anyone getting through. In recent years most travellers have been turned back by a swarm of giant bloodsucking insects.
Marset Indara (village council leader) 5th level Thief, ret.
AC: 10 HD: 6 hp: 23 THACO: 17 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4+2 (dagger+1/Strength 15)
Equipment: Curved Dagger +1, Keoghtom's Ointment.
Note: The village economy is based primarily on banana and rubber tree groves.
Into the Jungle.
All around is thick foliage and towering trees with canopies reaching far above the ground. The sounds of birds can be heard intermittently as the PCs travel. The air is very humid making the apparent temperature extremely hot. The trail itself is barely recognisable. Attempts to follow it in darkness, even with light spells, are to be discouraged.
Armour: PCs cannot wear full metal armour in the heat - only light armour can be worn. If metal is donned, then after 1 hour (or 3 rounds of combat) the PC loses 1 point of Constitution per turn (or round) until they loose half their score. At this point the PC must save vs paralysis to stay conscious. Once their Constitution score reaches zero (0) the PC perishes. Shade and water allows a recovery of 1 Constitution point per hour.
Midday: Giant Mosquito Attack!
Shortly after the mid day point the party hears a buzzing sound. Flying out from the sides of the path are numerous mosquitoes except these are giant foot long beasts.
Giant Mosquitoes (6)
HD: 1 hp: 8
Damage: *1 hp + 1d3 on subsequent 3 rounds.
Size: S (1')
*There is no initial sensation of being hit due to the anaesthetic nature of the proboscis. PCs hear buzzing but those that are hit from behind do not feel the 1 hp damage, they only feel the later 1d3 hp drain. The draining lasts for three rounds.
Two Hours Before Sundown: The Choke Creeper!
As the shadows grow deeper, with the sun going down in the sky, the party draws ever nearer to their destination. On this part of the trail is a Choke Creeper Vine. Once the PCs are in the middle of its 8 tendrils it comes to life attacking from all sides. Roll for surprise. Detection of this plant is very difficult. For those with Jungle Lore allow a passive perception check (av wis/int) at a -4 penalty all others at a -10 penalty. The Creeper is well camouflaged in this part of the rainforest. [PCs notice the animal bones to the side of the path, but only when they are within the ambush circle of this monster. Successful detection allows Players to avoid being surprised.]
Choke Creeper (modified)
AC: 6 (stem)/ AC: 5 (branches).
HD: 25 hp: 25 (stem > 1 hp per HD) + 2 hp per branch
Attacks: 8 branches (max 4 attacks per individual)
*Damage: 1d4 per round upon entanglement + a 10% non-cumulative chance of strangulation per round after entanglement. Strangulation takes 2 rounds. Bend bars lift gates to escape. There is a 50% chance one arm remains free after entanglement. Other vines will attack the free arm.
*Special Defense: Branches cannot be damaged by blunt instruments.
Size: G (20' long stem 1 foot thick, and 20 foot branches)
*This plant creature attacks via heat detection and can detect invisible prey. Note: each vine has only 2 hp.
After the battle, on the ground off to the sides of the jungle path, the party can see white bones of previous victims. These appear to be animal bones - wild pigs, birds, snakes and lizards.
The Temple in the Jungle:
After defeating the plant monster, and travelling another hour, the party eventually comes to a large grassy clearing that is at least 500 yards across. In the middle is a Stepped Pyramid type structure. Unlit torches, atop 7' tall wooden poles, are set at 4 points along the base. There are stairs leading up one side of the Pyramid to a square stone building. The base is 150' feet to a side and 50' feet high with the flat roofed building at the top being another 12 feet high.
[ The picture above is not to scale! The actual pyramid in this story is slightly smaller. However, it is of the same look.]
Standing guard on the ground at the bottom of the stairs are two Pigmen Warriors. These humanoids are green skinned, of medium to light build and have pig snouts and pointed ears. They wear Ringmail type armour with Ringmail head bands. They each carry a large Bronze Axe.
HD: 1 hp: 7
Damage: 1d8+1 (Bronze Battle Axe in two handed Grip)
Equipment: Bronze Battle Axe, Ringmail Armour, Ringmail Headband, Waterskin, flint and steel, 12cp/3sp total.
The base of the Stepped Pyramid is just outside the maximum range for a longbow. If the PCs circle around out of sight of the Pigmen, night descends, and one of the guards moves up the stairs while the other lights the torches. The pole mounted torches are oil fed and there are two more on either side of the temple doorway at the top of the structure.
Tactics: If still daylight, as soon as a PC breaks cover to approach the Pyramid, one or both of the Pigmen move up the stairs. If the party uses missile fire and acts in a hostile manner these warriors both retreat up the stairs within 2 rounds. If the party does not appearing threatening, one of the warriors moves up the stairs while the other approaches the PCs. If there is communication, the Pigman Warrior, who speaks the local language, warns that no one is allowed to enter the temple unless invited by the Snake King. The Pigman is unfriendly and offers no information except to threaten the PCs. He warns that there are great dangers inside the temple and that his job guarding outside is merely a token presence. The DM may make up any threatening story to discourage the PCs. If the PCs insist on continuing the Pigman Warrior insists on fighting them - as he has sworn to do.
The Temple Entrance
At the top of the Pyramid is a low stone building that is 30 foot square with a red lacquered double door covering the 5 foot opening. These doors (20 hp damage to smash) are shut but not bolted - except at night. Two more Pigmen are inside and sleep heavily during the day. If warned, one guard strikes upon a gong that summons ten (10) Temple Snakes. Inside, the building is finished with black polished wood and there are pillars running along the inside walls. Oil lamps (6) are set into the walls and four sleeping mats lie upon the floor. Also in the room is a barrel of lamp oil, 2 barrels filled with water and another 3 filled with all manner of dried food and nuts. At the far end of this single room is a large 5 foot wide opening. It is an open doorway, set into the floor. Stairs lead down into the darkness.
HD: 1 hp: 7
Damage: 1d8+1 (Bronze Battle Axe in two handed Grip)
Equipment: Bronze Battle Axe, Ringmail Armour, Ringmail Headband, Brass Key, 18cp/2sp total.
Temples Snakes (10)
(see below for details)
The Lair of the Snake King
The stairs lead down (100 feet) into darkness. Faint light can be seen around the edges of another double door at the end. This second wooden door is also red lacquered but is locked (the Brass Key is needed to open or 20 hp damage.) Down low in the wall is a small 4" inch hole, used by the Temple Snakes, that connects to the main room (passive perception check to notice - average wis/int).
If the PCs gain entry to the room they see a large 50 foot wide by 100 foot long dimly lit grand hall. The room is hazy and is cast in shadows thanks to six (6) Iron Braziers situated along the walls - the furthest two being difficult to make out. The floor is a highly polished black colour with dark columns, spaced near the walls, rising to the ceiling. Directly in front are numerous snakes, four (4) of which leap to attack. PCs can also see white bones and torn bits of clothing lying close to the walls and columns. The far end of this room is obscured in shadows and cannot be seen. [Please note: the DM should only draw in first 30 feet of its length since magical shadows and smoke haze obscure the back half.]
Temple Snakes (28 -minus any that attacked in the upper level)
HD: 1 hp :8
Damage: 1d3 + poison (2d8/0)
Tactics: These snakes attack fearlessly because they are driven by the magical domination of the Snake King. Each round four (4) snakes can attack whoever is in the doorway. After the first round three (3) Temple Snakes appear through the small hole in the stairway wall and attack PCs at the end of that round - unless PCs are guarding the hole. PCs watching the hole gain free attacks as the snakes emerge.
Final Battle: The Snake King!
After defeating the Temple Snakes the Player Characters, if they have not already done so, are allowed to advance into the room. After 20 feet they hear a hissing voice echoing inside their heads. "SSSSSS....!!! There is no escaping !! Soon you shall be feasted upon, your bones dissolved of flesh, my great hunger satisfied. Foulest defilers, your end isss come."
The doors at the entrance way, if still intact, slam shut and lock (via the Snake King's powerful telekinesis). Hidden at the end of the room, in magically enhanced shadow, and upon a raised semi-circular platform, is the Giant Snake King. This creature is a huge 3-headed intelligent snake with magical power. PCs can only make out the creature if they advance to within 20 feet at which time the Snake King surges forward and physically attacks.
The Snake King (3 Headed Giant Snake)
HD: 8 hp: 78
Attacks: 3 (physical attacks on one target only)
Damage: 2d4 + poison (4d4 and 1 point constitution drain/0)
Special Defense & Powers: Magic Resistance 50% inside temple > 25% outside, Telepathy, telekinesis, Suggestion (all at will), ESP, Infravision, Charm Snakes, Control Shadows, +5 versus mind influencing spells (always active.)
Size: H (10 feet tall, 30 feet total)
Tactics: If the PCs do not advance then each round one of them is subject to a telekinetic attack (see below). Those that approach to within 20 feet finally see the creature as it surges forward.
*In melee this monster attacks with 2 bites upon one target creature while the third head uses magical powers of telekinesis or suggestion on the most dangerous opponents, particularly magic users or clerics beginning a spell. The "casting time" for the telekinesis is very fast, only 1 segment, so the Snake King will beat most other casters. Note: Saving throws versus spell, adjusted by strength modifiers ie. 17 strength gives +1 bonus, indicate the PC has been buffeted but not thrown back from a telekinetic attack. Failed saves result in a character being thrown against a wall for 1d6 damage and knocked to the ground.
*The other magical attack is a suggestion made towards a threatening PC: "Thankfully you have not had the intelligence to knock down those burning braziers, without them I shall lose my advantage, and your fight will be won." This action, which lessens the overall lighting in the room, will not affect the creature's vision in any way but wastes 1d4+1 rounds of fighting time. Another suggestion is for the character to go and wait at the outside entrance to stop an army of Pigman re-enforcements (that never eventuate).
If the PCs kill the Snake King monster the DM should relate the following; that the hulk of the creature soon starts steaming. It looks as if the beast is slowly dissolving into the air. Bone begins to show around the skulls and eventually ribs stick out as the skin peels away and falls off. In 2 hours the creature gets to the point were you can see lumps inside its ribs. Upon close inspection, or after another hour, the party can see that these lumps consist of numerous gems and the stolen village talisman stone. The gems are 4 purple amethysts (500 gp ea), 3 green chrysoberyls (100 gp ea), 5 red garnets (100 gp ea), 2 gold topaz (500 gp ea), and 1 fire opal (1000 gp).
After the battle the PCs can take stock of the numerous bones, skulls, weapons, torn clothing and coins littering the sides of the hall - unless a party member has already examined these remains during the battle. The material looks as if it is from at least fourteen (14) individuals and is mostly situated at the far end away from the doorway.
In total there are 5 scimitars, 1 broadsword, 6 spears of various lengths, 4 short bows and 50 (20% broken) arrows, 2 clubs, a warhammer, a blow gun (+ 8 darts), 12 daggers, 10 shields (mostly small round), 14 holy symbols, torn cloth of all sizes from clothes, backpacks, pouches, waterskins, a staff, 8 gold ear rings, 9 rings and 50cp/80sp/30gp/12ep/24pp. Many (70%) of these items are damaged or deteriorated so that they will break in combat - roll 1d6 for each hit, 1-2 indicates breakage.
There are also a few magical items among the debris: a ring of fire resistance, a scimitar +1, and an arrow of slaying (reptiles).
The Village Celebrates!
When the party returns to the village the villagers all rush out to meet them. Marset joins them and once the talisman stone is handed over a feast featuring roasted pig is immediately prepared. The villagers all want to hear of the dangers faced, and who the Snake King was. The 400 gp reward is handed over - the villagers insist upon it. Good aligned PCs might think about offering over some of the gems they collected during the feast as a gesture of extreme good will. If this occurs there is cheering and crying. Great joy overwhelms the locals.
PCs receive 400xp for completing the adventure and another 200xp if they share some of their spoils with the village.
Ideas for an expanded campaign
Ten years ago Marset Indara was a pirate. He came ashore on the other side of the Jungle with his Captain plus 40 other crew mates. The journey through that side of the jungle was long (2 weeks) and especially dangerous. Only 9 of their original party eventually entered the Temple of the Snake King. During the battle in the great hall he was locked outside and subsequently fled when his Captain was cut down by the monstrous Snake King. Their map did not mention the dangers they would face. Escaping through the jungle he arrived at the village and has been here ever since. He has hidden his gold ear ring and has told no one of his real past except to say he was ship wrecked and managed to survive the jungle until he found safety.
Marset can reveal to the PCs that on the other side of the jungle are stone monuments, 8 foot tall pillars, spaced far apart along a jungle trail. These lead to the sea many miles distant. He knows that this other side of the jungle is inhabited by many tribes of vegepygmies or moldies (Mold Men).