Alright - pardon the formatting - but this should do it.
It contains the following 3 optional elements: Artifact, Helpful, and Radiant
edited to add: forgot to mention - this uses map #1
The Betrayer's Secret
A side quest/adventure for 4-5 characters of L17-L18
About 40 years ago, the town of Oldfield was beset by the living dead. Vampires, wights and others had besieged the town, and its fate seemed dire. They were given until the next full moon (less than a month away) to open the gates and surrender. In desperation, the local magistrate hired a group of adventurers to find a solution. After much research they realized that in order to stem the armies of undead they would need a special weapon. A sword whose history was steeped in the very creation of the multiverse itself, known by the name of "Nightbringer".
The adventurers, Adiah - a Deva Avenger of Pelor, Carric - a Half-elvan Warlock of unknown faith, and the human brothers Benn - a Cleric of the Raven Queen, and Jeri - a figher who paid no homage to the gods, began a quest to retrieve the sword from its last known resting place - amidst the followers of the Demon Queen Llolth. They were victorious, and with prize in hand, returned and cleared the town of the threat.
That is where the story begins. With the threat of the town ended, the question of what to do with the sword loomed over the group. After some soul searching on all their parts, it was decided that the sword needed to be kept safe, lest it be recovered by the Lord of Zombies. They began working on the vault that would eventually hold it. As progress began on the vault, strange events began to occur, and one by one all the heroes disappeared, until only one remained, Carric.
What the others did not realize is that Carric's power stemmed from Alloces, "the Butcher of Nessus." Although the others had aided in the construction of the vault through their own sweat, such as Jeri, or through the power of their gods, given in faith, Alloces demanded a price to be paid.
In this adventure, the party discovers that one of the old party, Jeri, has returned as a newly risen servant of the Lord of Zombies, and has come to claim his master's sword. Should they manage to fight their way through the undead that have swamred over the area, they will need to work their way into the vault, and through the hazards that have been lain. The party will need to battle through the undead, find their way into the vault, and overcome the various obstacles.
As a roadside inn, the adventure can be placed anywhere along the party's path. However, the following hooks may be used in addition:
Betraying the Betrayer: If there is an infernal warlock in the party - the devil that has spawned his pact has learned of the servant of Alloces, and has bidden his servant to retrieve it - slaying Carric, as a slight to Alloces.
Recover the Sword: The party's home base has recently come under siege from powerful undead and need to recover the sword for their own use.
NOTE: the party should arrive at the scene at nighttime.
Encounter 1: (9600 xp)
Area 3: As you approach the inn, you see a number of undead, The leader, wearing full plate armor, ornately designed, directs a number of wraiths to each of the 2 buildings opposite the courtyard, another in robes seems to be finishing up some ritual about the door to the building to your left, and next to the leader you spy two disfigured vampires. As you approach, one of the vampires spies you and draws the leader's attention to you. "Begone from here, or meet your end", he states, drawing his sword.
DM Notes: If the Lich is NOT attacked in round 1, he will proceed into the building, to be encountered in Area 1. Before combat, after rolling initiative announce to the players "You hear screaming coming from the building to your right (the tavern)
The Death Knight is the remains of the Fighter Jeri of the original party.
On a hard DC (25) History check, if asked, passive if not, allow a player to recognize the armor worn to be that mentioned in tales of the heros.
Also, depending on how long the battle outside lasts, shrieks should issue from the tavern on rounds 3, 5 and 7. Those shrieks represent the patrons of the tavern.
1 - Death Knight L17 Elite Soldier (Dungeon Delve, compendium)
2 - Disfigured Vampires L21 Brute (Dungeon #170, compendium)
Tactics: The Death Knight is the leader of the crew, and as such will be first to act, if the vampires' initiative beats his, they should delay. The knight will lead with his Warrior's challenge. The nearest targets marked will then be set upon by the varmpires.
Encounter 2: (9600 xp)
Area 4: As you enter the inn, the reason for the shrieks becomes apparent, as you see the corpses of the owner, and the patrons littering the floor.
NOTE: the owner, Carric lies dead behind the bar, a sword wraith in his place, for each additional 2 rounds (1 shriek) before the seventh, a patron has been saved, but the party will find him/her about to be attacked by a sword wraith. The human patrons are considered minions and will die (and rise as another sword wraith) on a hit. An attack against a wraith about to slay a human will redirect the wraith's attention sparing it (it will flee the area, and not return) If the party has taken 7 rounds or longer to conclude the battle outside, all 6 wraiths will be present. In any event (whether saved or slain), each will yield the equivalent XP.
3-6 Sword Wraiths (see above) L17 Lurker (MM, compendium)
Tactics: The sword wraiths are under orders to destory all, and will attempt to destroy the party, 1 by 1 to add to their numbers.
Note: there is a secret door (with an arcane lock Hard DC (25)) behind one of the casks behind the bar (Perception Check DC:20 to spot). (visible on the map)
Encounter 3 (7200 xp)
Area 1: Upon entering the house, you note the place is in shambles. Whatever it was these creatures have been looking for, has apparently not been found, yet. All the books have been removed from their cases and tossed onto the floor. As you enter, the robed figure appeared to be reexamining the bed, before turning to address you.
1 - Mauthereign Human Lich L18 Elite Controller (Open Grave, Compendium)
2 - Sword Wraiths L17 Lurker (MM, Compendium)
Tactics: Mauthereign will attempt to use his wither power on any that comes within melee range, (and spellmaster as needed to recharge it), then letting the wraiths devour it while he shifts away. If he is not adjacent target, he will use his Lash to attempt to disable casters.
As he is indestructible he will fight to the death. Upon his death, the residue that remains is equivalent to residuum worth 35 gp.
A thorough search of the rooms will reveal (on a HARD DC (25) perception check) a book hidden WITHIN the mattress an old diary belonging to Carric. If the bed is explicitly searched use an easy DC (13).
This diary is old and worn, though most of the pages have worn and faded, some of later entries remain. Also, folded between two of the pages is a note written on a very stiff parchement, the writing seems to have been burned into the page.
We did it! We managed to escaped the enclave with the sword. I've spoken with the others and they are alright with the plan. I've picked out the perfect location, just a bit off the main road from Oldfield, toward the base of the mountainside. We should be able to build the vault into the mountain, and secure it. Alloces has said that this is the final task. Once it is secure I will finally be rid of that pact made so long ago.
We started digging out the vault today. It will take some time, even with the magic that Adiah and Benn lent to the task. The first night Alloces servant had visited me. He left directions for the construction of the vault and the enclosed note. I know the butcher's tricks, though. My only hope is that I can read through his words in time. We had a deal! When the sword is secure our pact is ended. The wording concerns me though. It is a series of nine quatrains, typical - one for each level of hell, I assume, and spells out how he wants the vault constructed.
It seems now I understand. Jeri is gone. We left him working on the pit around the platform while we attended to the chamber. When we broke for dinner, the pit (completed apparently) was filled with a vile acid, and Jeri was gone. I suggested to Benn that we should stop - but he claimed he could not, that he had a duty to perform. He prayed to his queen that his brother's soul would be received. He seems different, however. I've seen much death in my day - and the look does not seem to be one of grief. It's almost defiant.
What games do these immortals play with us!!! Benn is gone now. The gate has been formed, and it seals the sword, but when the final prayer was said he.. he was destroyed - a murder of crows came and swamred around his body. He didn't even have time to panic. By the time Adiah and I could gather our wits the deed was done, and not even bone remained of our friend.
At least something went right with this infernal project. I spent some time with Adiah to make sure he really wanted to go through with the next portion, the prayer to Pelor, as every step of this task has been fraught with hazard. In typical stoic fashion, he said he would, and for ONCE nothing ill occurred. The pool is set, and I've tested it myself - I figured with the door not yet in place, no ill would befall me. It was a wonderous effect, though scary. I became light itself, and passed easily beyond the gate.
I have finished my portion, and again, luckily there has been no more ill. I've set the vault door in place. Only a thief with strong magics will be able to pass beyond it. Adiah and I are going to celebrate tonight, the mission accomplished. I will have to tell him of the deal I made, he deserves to know, after what we've been through.
NEVER trust the hellspawn!!! There was no celebration - nor will there be again. The deed is done, the pact is ended. We had just begun when Alloces himself appeared. My powers are gone, as is Adiah. I feel so... feeble. He took Adiah, to recreate one the "originals" as he put it. Apparently he is to be the guardian, and his name the password. He left me my rod, as he said that would be needed, though I've secreted it away. It is of no use to me. Nothing is.
and then a last entry, made some time later it seems...
Out with the old, in with the new. I started construction on a roadside inn. It should cover the vault well enough, and begin my new life. A life not of a hero, but an ordinary man.
Upon the mote that was planted at the core
a single drop had spilled, no more
from it was forged a mighty blade
As evil as he from whose blood it was made
A long time gone 'twixt then and now
you've found that sword among the drow
to grant that ultimate request
you must pass one final test
a special vault to hold the sword
you must build for your reward
To insure the sword is found no more
this work must claim the finding four.
The warrior, he must lend his might
To forge a platform, tall and right.
By digging round, a gaping hollow
To claim all trespassers that may follow
Beyond it, you must must forge a door
created with your eldritch lore
with sigils filled with pain and death
To steal from the thief his final breath
beyond that a chamber of death and life
to hide this blade of woe and strife
At the furthest point an onyx stone
upon which the sword shall lie alone
Its power unholy, its edge so keen
the one who would wield it defied the Queen
So look to her to build a gate
to capture those who'd have her wait
To pass beyond will require a key
So in the chamber, the angel must call forth a sea
one not of water, but of Pelor's light
To destroy all creatures of the night
When all is done, a guardian I shall award
To guard the door to the Vault of the Sword
Should you need to enter, use the rod of bone
and, by his name and that symbol, make yourself known
Area 2: This rather fancy emroidered rug depicts 4 figures, 2 humans bearing a slight resemblance..one in plate armor (describe the armor of the death knight), the other in a suit of chainmail with a black raven emblazoned across the chest. In addition, you see a Deva dressed in robes, with a upraised sword in one hand, and a symbol of Pelor in the other. Completing the quartet is a half-elf, donning leather armor, holding a wicked looking rod seeming to be more a bone.
Beneath the rug (Perception Easy DC (13)) is a hidden trove containing Carric's Rod, and a ritual book containing the rituals "Arcane Lock" and "Knock"
Carric's Rod (Rod of The Butcher)
This wicked looking rod seems a mishmash of living parts, the bulk is a bone of some giant creature, wrapped in thongs of the skin of some reptilian creature, and topped with the skull of a small bird, with dark red stones in the eye sockets.
A gift from Alloces, this rod grants special abilities to those warlocks who follow the infernal path.
Lvl 18 - 85,000gp
Item Slot: off-hand
Enhancement: +4 attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +4d6 damage
Property: When you trigger your infernal pact boon, you can add the enhancement bonus of the rod to the number of hitpoints gained.
Against creatures with the "construct" keyword you deal +4d10 damage instead of +4d6
Power (Daily): "Eyes of the Maker"
Standard Action: spend a healing surge to activate. The eyes of the skull light up and shine upon your target (automatic hit). Any vulnerabilities of the target become known. Until the end of the encounter, as a free action, any attack utilizing this rod can be set to be one of the vulnerabilities seen.
Encounter 4 (9900 xp)
Area 5: As you pass through the secret door, you come across a platform surround by what appears to be a viscous black liquid. On the other side of the platform (in front of area 6) is what appears to be golem, the primary component of which was a Deva. The robes upon the golem are reminiscent of the Deva depicted in the tapestry.
1 - Seraphic Golem L22 Elite Brute (Dragon Magazine #373, Compendium) (edited: misspelled as ceraphic)
1 - Acid Pit (L17 Trap)
trigger: a creature enters or begins it's turn in the acid pit.
attack: +21 v Fortitude
Hit: 2d10+5 acid damage + 10 ongoing (acid)
Miss: 5 ongoing (acid)
special: climbing out of the acid pit requires a DC: 13 athletics check
NOTE: This golem is what remains after Carric turned Adiah over to his dark master. The golem has been given instructions to fight any that approach without him (Carric). If the party has read (and understood) Carric's diary (Area 1), they may be able to get past this challenge without bloodshed. To clear the way, Adiah must be addressed by name (in some fashion) and shown the Rod of Carric. If any attack is made against the golem, or if the party tries to pass without the above requirment, he will attack.
Tactics: the golem will begin by stating that "NONE shall have the sword!" and immediately use its radiant rampage attack against all creatures on the platform.
After that it will continually attempt to push targets into the acid that surrounds the platform using the wing slap of its seraphic assault. NOTE: The golem will NOT persue the party should they flee back into the tavern, off the platform.
Encounter 5 (2800 xp)
Area 6 A solid door with a myriad of locks, all surrounded by arcane symbols bars your path
1 - pain vault (L20 warder) (as per DMG2, pg 72)
This is the entrance into the main vault.
Encounter 6 (4800 xp)
Area 7 Passing beyond the door you see a ghostly form. It regards you for a moment saying nothing. A close examination reveals the faint outline of may have been chainmail when it was flesh and bone. You can make out the symbol of a raven embazoned on the chestpiece
1 - Sage Ghost L19 Elite Controller (P3 Assault on Nightwyrm fortress, Compendium)
NOTES: Here awaits the ghost of Benn, the favored soul of the Raven Queen. It was he that had done so much to protect the sword. Upon the betrayal of his brother, the Raven Queen had informed him of the deed. Despite it, he remained, thinking the work to be more important than his familial tie. In defiance of his goddess, he remains to protect it.
Tactics: Benn can be reasoned with to gain more information about the nature of the challenges ahead. However, if he is attacked he will fight to his utmost to destroy the intruders. Each round he will use his Departed knowledge skill and create images in the mist. Each succeeding set of images should represent a quatrain of the note above. After the last quatrain is displayed (round 9 - if he hasn't dropped) he will flee through the portal in the east.
Area 8 This pool radiates divine light. Passive Arcana/Religion - automatic success on Easy DC (13), thw water itself IS radiance. There seems to be a tension in the air between the pool and the black portal (area 9) to the east. A sense of ebb and flow. Even the rubble along the ground stand in testimony, for as it is strewn further east it seems more decayed, yet around the pool it is naught but a crips why ash.
Radiant Pool. (L20 Warder - 2800 xp)
NOTES: To gain the benefit of the pool a character must immerse him/herself in the waters. This pool was established to be both a ward and a key. As it provides the only key to pass beyond the portal (area 9), it insures that creatures vulnerable to radiant damage (undead) cannot so pass.
The effects of being in the pool are as follows:
for any creature starting their turn within the water make the following attack:
+30 v Fort effects depend upon the creature
for any creature with the radiant keyword
-- no effect
for any creature with the undead keyword
-- 4d12 + 12 radiant damage, target is restrained until end of next turn
for any creature having a power with the necrotic keyword
-- 3d10 + 10 radiant damage, target is immobilized until end of next turn
for all others
-- 2d8 + 8 radiant damage, target is dazed* until end of next turn
-- Effect: any hitpoints lost to this attack are gained as ADDITIONAL temporary hit points (will stack)
* special, this form of attack will NOT reduce a creature below 1 hp. If a creature is reduced to 1 hp, the dazed condition will end and (s)he gains the following:
-- radiant keyword added to character (until next extended rest)
-- gains resist: insubstantial
-- appearance changes to an outline of their former self, in radiant light.
Area 9: You see a black portal taking up the entire space before you
Portal to Shadowfell
NOTES: This area demarks a portal, examination of the portal reveals that it leads into the shadowfell. (the palace of the Raven Queen, no less). This portal was established as a trap by Benn to capture any of the abominations that may have escaped his goddess' law, or those that would seek to use such a weapon to master such creatures. The portal is in CONSTANT effect. Only creatures possessing the radiant keyword can pass through the space without being effected by the portal (see Radiant Pool, above)
Area 10: Here, on a small pedestal of black onyx, lies the object of your quest - the fabled sword "NightBringer"
"Nightbringer" (P2 Demon Queen Enclave, Compendium)
Through the ages, many would wonder "Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?"
I wonder "Does the art of discourse on the internet imitate the art of discourse in life or does the art of discourse in life imitate the art of discourse on the internet?"