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Shipwreck of the Minnow – An adventure for 5th-6th level characters. : DnDBehindTheScreen (reddit.com)
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Cult of the Flame Kissed
Cult of the Flame Kissed is a Fifth Edition adventure intended for three to five characters of 2nd to 4th level and is optimized for four characters with an average party level (APL) of 3. Characters who complete this adventure should earn enough experience to reach half of the way to level 4. A demonic cult is kidnapping children to power a ritual that will summon their patron from the Abyss. This adventure takes place in the Freelands campaign setting but fits into any existing campaign that has a demonic cult in a town near a forest with only a few modifications.
The Flame Kissed cult of demon worshippers attempting to bring their patron, the Balor Galmath, out of the Abyss and into the material plane. They are kidnapping children from the nearby town of Ashenvale and conducting blood sacrifices in their secret temple hidden in the Shimmering Forest. The slew of sacrifices has opened a minor gateway to allow some lesser demons to enter, and they are preparing for the one last sacrifice to open it further.
Dimitrios Zarallis is an Inquisitor from the Order of the Crimson Circle, an ancient sect dedicated to hunting demons. The Order tasked him to investigate the disappearances. Some suspected cultists have come to his attention, but he has yet to determine their hideout location. Sensing that whatever the cult is up to is nearing completion, he is desperate to get to the bottom of the situation.
There are many different reasons why the adventures might be in Ashenvale and visit the marketplace. Here are a couple of reasons that they might be there:
New Gear. The adventurers have some new coins burning holes in their pouches, and what better place to get some new gear than the marketplace in Ashenvale?
Caravan Escort. A merchant hired the adventurers to escort a shipment of goods from Haven to Ashenvale. They’ve completed their mission and are now looking to spend their new coin in the marketplace.
Ashenvale is a bustling town in the Verdant Hills of the Freelands that sits on the Shimmering Forest’s edge. A frequent stop for visitors traveling to the kingdom of Z’hing Tao, it’s widely known for its artisans and marketplace. The bright green shingles and worked wood are reminiscent of the nearby elven kingdom’s style and give elegance to the otherwise mundane stone buildings.
Altercation in the Marketplace
The adventurers are perusing wares in the town marketplace when suddenly a cry rings out from across the square. Frightened townsfolk quickly empty the market and reveal a terrified young mother protectively hunched over her two small children. A group of men surrounds an older dragonborn who is staggering and clutching a bloody wound in his side.
Encounter: Marketplace Scuffle. The Inquisitor Dimitrios (he uses the priest stat block) was following a group of four Flame Kissed thugs and intervened when they tried to snatch the children. He will shout to the adventurers that he needs them alive while defending the mother and her children. If three of the cultists are defeated, the last one flees to the cult’s warehouse hideout.
Dimitrios is a highly educated and devout believer in the mission of the Order of the Crimson Circle. He firmly believes that demonic invasion from the Abyss is an impending threat to the entire world. A proficient combatant against demonic foes, his skill as an investigator has made him a trusted and high ranking Inquisitor within the Order. While he has a slight disdain for Tieflings and a great mistrust of Warlocks, his noble bearing, and natural politeness will not let him show too much. He firmly believes that no sacrifices are too much for the greater good.
After the Fight
The grateful mother is a local seamstress named Janis, and she thanks the adventurers profusely. Her twin children, eight-year-olds Erik and Marta, give the adventurers hugs; Marta gives one a flower and calls them her hero. Janis shuffles the children away and hurries home.
Cultists who are captured or charmed by the adventurers can be interrogated for information (see sidebar “What the Cultists Know”). The town guard who arrives after the fight ends will not be pleased if the adventurers killed the cultists. They grudgingly let the group go after Dimitrios explains he was tracking the cultists under the town council’s authority. After any interrogation occurs, Dimitrios will introduce himself officially to the party and request they join him at The Crown & Copper, a nearby tavern, and hear his story.
What the Cultists Know
If the adventurers successfully charm or convince the cultists to talk with a successful DC 15 Charisma (Intimidation) check, they will give up the location of their warehouse hideout in town as well as the following information:
- The Flame Kissed are close to finishing a gateway to the Abyss that will let their master Galmath physically enter this plane.
- The ritual they are using to open the gateway and summon their patron requires sacrificed children’s blood.
- The cult burns themselves with hot irons as a way to worship their patron. Their leader, the warlock Kiernan Blackhand, has burned his entire body in exchange for Galmath’s favor.
- The cult is holding the prisoners in their hideout.
- There is a magical trap on a door in the hideout, and the password is “Jath’turoth.”
At the Crown & Copper
Dimitrios grabs a table at the tavern and introduces himself further, and explains that he is on a mission from the Order of the Crimson Circle (see “Appendix: The Inquisitors”) to root out a suspected demonic cult. He has determined that the cult is much larger than he can handle alone and requests their assistance. If the adventurers discerned the hideout location from captured cultists, skip ahead to “Raiding the Warehouse.” Otherwise, Dimitrios informs them he has narrowed it down to the town’s warehouse district with only a single suspect remaining. He warns that they must move quickly because the earlier altercation may have alerted the cult to his presence.
The adventurers have a few ways to determine where the hideout location:
- A successful DC 12 Charisma (Persuasion) check in the marketplace will get a vendor to mention they have seen all of the men from the attack earlier hanging around outside an abandoned warehouse recently.
- A successful DC 10 Intelligence (Religion) check of the warehouse district will uncover a building bearing a demonic symbol scratched above a doorway.
- A successful DC 12 Dexterity (Stealth) check to follow the suspected cultist from their home to the hideout. The cultist will lead the adventurers to the warehouse’s secret door if they go this route.
Once the warehouse’s location is determined, Dimitrios will keep a lookout while the adventurers infiltrate it. A successful DC 18 Charisma (Persuasion) check will convince him to join the party.
Raiding the Warehouse
The warehouse is a nondescript building that does not stand out from the other district buildings other than its outward appearance of abandonment. The second story windows are boarded, and an iron chain is padlocked across the large double doors that are the only visible entrance. Anyone actively checking the padlock can determine that it is not locked. The doors are unlocked and screech loudly if opened, alerting the cultists in the warehouse loft.
Secret Door. The adventurers can discover the secret door in the wall of the warehouse with a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check. It’s obscured from sight by stacks of large empty crates.
The warehouse itself is a 60 foot wide and 40-foot deep rectangular building that is empty except for a thick layer of sawdust and a few broken crates. A wooden ladder leads up to a loft that the cult uses as a lookout post. A pair of lazy cultists are supposed to be keeping a lookout through the boarded windows.
Trap: Net Snare. Just inside the front door is a net hidden under a layer of sawdust that can be seen automatically by an adventurer with a passive Wisdom (Perception) of 15 or by an active search with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. Anyone who triggers the trap must succeed a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw with a failure resulting in being hoisted in the net 10 feet above the ground and being restrained. The net will drop once 1 point of slashing damage is dealt to the rope holding it up. If it is not let down gently, anyone inside will take 1d6 bludgeoning damage from the fall.
Encounter: Cultist Guards. There are two cultist scouts who are lazing about the loft. If the adventurers are not being quiet or open the front door with its squeaky wheels, they will use the crates’ cover in the loft to attack from range. After three rounds of combat, they will use a rope ladder to escape the loft out of one of the windows and head to the hidden Temple of Galmath.
Secret Trapdoor. A trapdoor is disguised as a broken crate and leads to the basement below. An adventure actively looking will find it with a successful DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) check.
This basement is composed of three rooms: a chapel, storage room, and office. The stairway leading from above leads directly down into the chapel. The basement is empty of cultists — they took the prisoners to the Temple of Galmath hours ago.
The 30-foot wide square room’s wooden floor is painted in demonic symbols, and the rough stone walls with splashes of old, dried blood. A raised wooden dais sits along one wall and bears a large black stone statue of a winged demon standing over a naked man’s supine form. Stone claws are pulling entrails upwards, dripping in blood. A closer inspection reveals the blood on the statue is fresh. Two wooden doors sit on opposing sides of the figure leading to the Office and Storage Room.
Trap: Cursed Statue. Anyone who touches the statue must succeed a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become cursed for 24 hours. While cursed, the victim has disadvantage on all Wisdom ability checks and saving throws. A remove curse spell ends this effect.
The 20 foot by 10-foot wide room has one wall lined with stacks of crates and barrels, while the opposite wall holds an iron chain attached to it. Manacles with freshly dried blood hang empty from the chain. The containers are likewise empty except for small scraps of cloth and broken glass.
Trap: Explosive Rune. The door to this room is trapped with a glyph of warding (save DC 15) set to Explosive Runes when touched. The password to disable it is “Jath’turoth”.
The office is a 10-foot square room holding a simple bookshelf and desk with a chair. If the glyph of warding was triggered, the room is in shambles from the blast, with papers and books scattered everywhere.
Treasure: Spell Scrolls & Statue. Among the papers in the bookshelf is a spell scroll of burning hands and a spell scroll of hellish rebuke. These scrolls can only be found if the glyph of warding on the door to the office did not trigger, otherwise they were destroyed in the blast.
The adventurers can find a small locked box that contains a tiny golden bust of an elven woman (25 gp) screaming in terror on the bookshelf or amidst the wreckage of the room. The chest can be unlocked by someone proficient with thieves’ tools who succeeds a DC 15 Dexterity check.
An encoded journal is either among the desk’s wreckage or on top of the desk. If the adventurers do not search for it, Dimitrios will insist on looking through the office himself.
After the Raid
The adventurers reconvene with Dimitrios after clearing out the hideout, and he suggests they rest up while he decodes the found journal. The next morning he delivers grim news: the cultists have kidnapped Janis and her daughter Marta. Erik managed to escape and find Dimitrios, who then hid him in an Order safe house. He has decoded the journal enough to determine that the Flame Kissed cultists have a hidden temple in the nearby Shimmering Forest. They have repurposed an underground ruin from a town called Lockwood that was razed during the Great War a century ago. Dimitrios gravely informs them that they intend to summon a demon prince from the Abyss.
The Temple of Galmath
The town of Lockwood was burned to the ground by the Holy Ignis Empire during the Great War over a century ago. Only a few stone walls remain along with the shell of a manor’s basement the Flame Kissed have repurposed into their temple.
Dimitrios quickly finds the temple entrance, guided by the decoded journal and an old map of the area he has in his possession. A large tree is growing around a stone archway with broken stone steps leading down into the temple.
These features are prominent throughout the temple unless otherwise noted:
Floors, Walls, and Ceilings. The ceilings are 12 feet high throughout the temple. The temple is constructed of old stone and mortar that is crumbling in places.
Doors. The temple doors are newly constructed oak planks bound in iron. Locked doors can be unlocked by a successful DC 15 Dexterity check by someone proficient with thieves’ tools. Each door has an AC of 15 and 20 hit points and is immune to poison and psychic damage.
Lights. The temple is dimly lit by a demonic red light that does not seem to have a source. Where noted, some braziers shed bright light for 20 feet and dim light for 20 feet further.
Death & Decay. The temple is splashed with fresh blood and bits of gore that the demons have not yet eaten. The smell of rotting meat mixed with sulfur pervades the entire temple.
Desecrated Ground. Where noted, certain temple areas are considered desecrated ground. Demons and Undead in these areas have advantage on all saving throws and attack rolls. A vial of Holy Water will purify a 10-foot-square, and a hallow spell will purify the desecrated ground within its area. A detect evil and good spell cast within range reveals the desecrated area’s presence.
The following description corresponds to the keyed locations on the provided map of the temple:
1 – Entrance
Read aloud the following:
The crumbling stairway leads down to an equally crumbling room. Roots push their way through crumbling mortar, and broken tiles lay scattered across the floor. There is a foul smell wafting from a corridor to the west. A newly constructed wooden door sits on the eastern wall and is oddly out of place in the crumbling basement.
Trap: Hellfire Door. The door to area 3 is trapped with a glyph of warding (save DC 15) set to cast Hellish Rebuke at 1st level when touched. The password to disable it is “Jath’turoth”.
Invisible Guard. Kiernan Blackhand’s quasit familiar is polymorphed into a centipede that is clinging to the ceiling. It will alert its master to the adventurer’s presence. A successful DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check will alert the adventurers that it is acting a bit strange as if it’s watching them, at which point it will turn invisible. It will follow and ambush the party from behind when they engage in combat.
2 – Collapsed Hallway
Decades-old rock and rubble fill the hallway and block sections off completely. As the adventurers go further, the smell of decay and sulfur gets more robust, and the adventurers hear the wet sucking and crunching sounds of the demons.
Encounter: Demon Lunch. There are three manes eating and playing with a fresh corpse in the northern section of the collapsed hallway.
Treasure: Cultist Remains. The corpse is a Flame Kissed cultist who was killed and tucked into this dark corner. A blood-soaked pouch contains 25sp, 15 gp, and a crumpled and stained note with a single word written upon it: “Jath’turoth.”
3 – Bloody Hallway
After opening the door to this hallway, the smell of death and decay intensifies exponentially. Bits of gore splatter the floor and walls around bloody demonic symbols. The entire hallway is considered desecrated ground (see “General Features”).
Encounter: Imp Guards. There are a pair of imps playing catch with a severed head at the interaction in the northern part of the hallway. They will cackle and criticize the party for being “too late” because “Galmath is coming!”
4 – Prison Chamber
The door to this room is locked (see “General Features”), and the key is on a cultist in area 5.
When the adventurers enter the room, read the following aloud:
The stench of human refuse and rotting meat rolls through the doorway as the door swings inward. Fresh blood pools on the floor, mixing with older patches that cover the entire room. Someone has drawn demonic symbols using the blood as paint. A glassy-eyed woman covered in blood is chained to the far wall staring blankly into space, her manacled hands hanging limp.
Janis’s manacles can be unlocked with the cultist’s keys in area 5 or opened with a successful DC 12 Dexterity check by someone proficient with thieves’ tools. The manacles are attached to an iron ring embedded in the wall, and it can be pulled loose with a successful DC 18 Strength check.
Janis is in shock and will not respond to anyone speaking to her, screaming at the first touch. A successful DC 12 Charisma check will calm her enough to beg the adventurers to save her daughter. Janis overheard a cultist say to another that they are close to summoning their demon prince and that the chapel will be warded and protected by “Briz’gunnol.” She flees the temple at the first opportunity and hides in the forest outside.
5 – Lesser Chapel
A brazier burns with a red flame in the center of this room. Statues of robed figures with melted faces stand in each corner, staring intently into the fire. A pair of their living counterparts stand with arms raised next to the brazier, chanting in Abyssal. The cadence of their chant rises and ends as they smile in triumph. A roar fills the room as the brazier’s flames grow higher and spread across the ceiling, and a demonic hound steps out of the pillar of flame.
This room is desecrated ground (see “General Features”).
Encounter: Guard Dogs. The two Flame Kissed cultists have just summoned a hell hound. They fight to the death.
Treasure: Pouch & Keys. A cultist has a pouch containing 30gp, a pair of severed fingers, a white pearl (100gp), and a set of keys that unlocks the door to area 4 as well as Janis’ manacles.
Wall of Force. The door to the Sacrificial Chamber (area 7) is protected by a wall of force that can be disabled by stating the password “Briz’gunnol”.
6 – Sleeping Quarters
Spread across the room are a handful of filthy bedrolls and a pair of wooden chests. The smell of human refuse is powerful here.
Trap: Poison Needle. One of the chests is locked and trapped with a poison needle trap. A creature within range takes 1 piercing damage and 11 (2d10) poison damage and must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be Poisoned for 1 hour.
A successful DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to deduce the trap’s presence from alterations made to the lock to accommodate the needle. A successful DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disarms the trap, removing the needle from the lock, and unlocking the chest. Unsuccessfully attempting to pick the lock triggers the trap.
Treasure: Potion Stash. Inside the trapped chest is a stash of two potions of healing and a potion of poison.
7 – Sacrificial Chamber
Once the adventurers enter the chamber, read the following aloud:
A carved altar sits in a fresh blood pool that forms a demonic summoning circle—the blood pulsing with a light that bathes the entire chamber in red. Marta’s unconscious body, still in her nightgown, floats above the altar as a deformed warlock stands behind her. A vortex of black and red light ebbs and flows above the small girl’s body as if to swallow it whole.
Standing before the altar and joining in the chant are half a dozen of the Flame Kissed cultists. They face the growing vortex with arms raised and joyful faces. At the sound of the opening door, they cease their chanting.
This room is desecrated ground (see “General Features”). Kiernan Blackhand is the warlock behind the altar, and he is wearing a black and red robe and carrying a staff of charred wood. His skin is heavily scarred all over his body, and his face is akin to a melted candle; he’s missing a cheek— it’s now a window that reveals rows of blackened teeth.
Encounter: The Flame Kissed & Blackhand. The six acolytes protect Kiernan Blackhand (he uses the priest stat block and has a quarterstaff instead of a mace) as he finishes the summoning ritual. The vortex above the altar swallows and negates any spells or projectiles fired at Blackhand as if it was a wall of force. Anyone stepping within 5 feet of the altar will need to succeed a DC 12 Dexterity check with a failure resulting in taking 8 (2d6) fire damage from the vortex.
Once four of the acolytes are defeated, Blackhand will cast spiritual weapon and spirit guardians. He steps out from the vortex’s protection and declares they are too late to stop the ritual now. He proceeds to attack the party “to sacrifice them” to his patron.
Daughter of the Demon Prince. As Blackhand falls defeated, he will die laughing even as he chokes on his blood. “He comes!” will be his dying words. The vortex above the altar grows to cover the entire ceiling, giving a view of the swirling chaos that counts for a sky in the Abyss. Galmath, a massive horned Balor, peers down through the portal as if looking down into a muddy puddle. Its eyes are fire, and its grin splits into a blazing furnace with fangs. Galmath’s laughter crashes through the adventurers’ minds, who must succeed a DC 20 Intelligence saving throw with a failure resulting in being Stunned. Its massive clawed hand will reach through the portal to take hold of Marta’s body and pull it towards it. Its last thought that rumbles through the adventurers’ minds is “I accept your offering, mortals.” before the vortex snaps shut and the portal closes.
If the adventurers were able to defeat the Cult of the Flame Kissed and rescue Janis, they have helped avert a demonic invasion. Dimitrios will thank them in the name of the Order of the Crimson Circle for their help even as the loss of her child shatters Janis. He will offer them a chance to join the Order and help him in seeking more of the demons that look to invade their realm.
The Cult of the Flame Kissed is shattered and will no longer threaten Ashenvale. However, it will not be the last they hear of Marta and Galmath; the Balor is devious even for his kind. It has taken the young girl under its tutelage and imbued her with his essence and power turning her into something different. The world will eventually meet and fear the Daughter of the Demon Prince.
If the adventurers fail to defeat the cult, they bring Galmath from the Abyss, and the world is forever changed. Darkness covers the Freelands as hordes of devils and demons flood through the gateways and brings about a thousand years of terror. The Order of the Crimson Circle is a beacon of light during those first few years, but Galmath’s hordes eventually destroy them along with all of humanity’s hope.
- Cult of the Flame Kissed – Interrupt the summoning of a greater demon in this adventure for 3rd level characters.
- Cult of the Flame Kissed – Interrupt the summoning of a greater demon in this adventure for 3rd level characters.
- Cult of the Flame Kissed – Interrupt the summoning of a greater demon in this adventure for 3rd level characters.
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