Family Heirloom


                The Temple of Studious Contemplation was once a monastery where monks dedicated their lives to the worship of Iberus, the God of Knowledge.  Though small and isolated, it was renowned for its extensive library where all manners of wisdom and information could be found.  Students and sage came from all parts of the land seeking the knowledge contained within the library and the wisdom of the monks.  Sadly, the monastery attracted other, less welcome, guests as well.

                Late one night, a band of orcs and goblins raided the Temple, slaying all who dwelled within and making off with what spoils they could find.  As though murder and plunder were not enough, the deCheckable raiders also desecrated the monastery’s temple, defiling its sanctity and twisting it divine radiance.  Due to this violation, the murdered monks did not find peace in the afterlife but instead rose to inhabit the House once more as undead.

                For many years thereafter, the monastery sat abandoned and all but forgotten.  Those who knew of it believed it to be cursed or haunted and thus avoided.  Occasionally, an adventurous or foolhardy soul would seek it out to explore its chambers and halls in the hopes of discovering some long forgotten treasure or prize.  Few succeeded.  Fewer still ever returned.

                One such individual was a young noble by the name of Kevin Lasdon.  Along with a pair of companions, young Kevin had set out into the world in search of adventure and renown.  The trio’s thrill seeking soon led them to foreboding ruins of the Temple.  Several days after departing from the nearby village of Highdale, their steeds and packhorses were found wandering the hills.  Of Kevin and his cohorts, there was no sign.  Over a month has passed since Kevin’s disappearance and his younger brother, Travis has recently arrived in Highdale seeking his missing sibling.  Upon learning of his brother’s trek into the old monastery and how his horses were later found unattended, Travis has assumed the worst.  Rather than venture into the ruins himself, Travis has decided to hire adventurers to recover his brother’s body.

                Travis has ulterior motives for wanting his brother found.  As the eldest son, Kevin would have inherited the family holdings.  With Kevin presumably slain, Travis is now the heir apparent.  However, to truly claim his inheritance, Travis requires a special medallion bearing the Lasdon family seal.  Only one such medallion exists and it has been handed down from one generation of the Lasdon family to the next, identifying the wearer as the heir to the Lasdon name and property.  Having worn it around his neck since his birth, Kevin had the medallion in his possession when he ventured into the ruins.  As Kevin did not return from his exploration of the monastery, it can only be assumed the medallion lies somewhere within the ruins.  It is the medallion that Travis truly wishes found.  Recovering his brother’s body and returning it for proper burial is only secondary.

Getting the Players Involved


                The following hooks can be used to get the PCs to Highdale and ultimately involved in the adventure:

·          One or more of the PCs are currently employed by the Lasdon family to guard Travis as he searches for his missing brother.  Travis sends the PCs with the party into the ruins as a representative of the family.

·          One or more of the PCs hail from Highdale.  The arrival of a noble and the possibility of adventure could be just the opportunity they need to escape the dull common life of a peasant.

·          The PCs have previously heard tales of the Temple of Studious Contemplation and have journeyed to Highdale in the hopes of finding fame and fortune.  Being hired by Travis Lasdon is merely a fortunate windfall.

·          The PCs may simply be traveling through the area and stop to rest and re-supply in Highdale. There they hear of Travis Lasdon’s need for hardy souls and offer their services, or perhaps the young nobleman approaches them.


Meeting Travis Lasdon


Read or paraphrase the following:

            Night has come to the village of Highdale and you find yourselves seated at a table in the otherwise empty common room of the Leaky Bucket Inn.  Seated at the head of the table is your host, a young man of noble birth by the name of Travis Lasdon.  After you have finished the fine meal he has graciously provided, your host orders a round of ale and once it has been served, he gets down to business

            “As some of you may already known,” the young nobleman begins after the innkeeper has departed, “a group of adventurers passed through this village a little over a month ago.  My elder brother, Kevin, was among them.  He and his companions apparently intended to explore nearby ruins.  This was the last that was ever seen of them.  I have traveled to the neighboring towns and villages in the area in the hopes that Kevin continued on but, alas, none can recall having seen him or any of his cohorts.  I can only assume that my dear brother perished while exploring the old ruins.”

            Travis pauses momentarily, as if to compose himself, and then continues.

            “I have need of stalwart individuals such as yourselves who will venture into the ruins, learn my brother’s fate, and if he has indeed perished, recover his body and return it to me for proper burial.  My brother wore a medallion about his neck.  On its face is an engraving of our family seal.  If Kevin’s body cannot be recovered for some reason, I will accept his medallion as proof of his fate.”

            “Unfortunately, my search for Kevin has greatly depleted my personal finances.  I am afraid that the most I can offer in payment for this task is the sum of one hundred gold pieces.  However, on his travels, Kevin carried a saber known to have magical properties.  Recover this sword and it is yours to keep as well as the one hundred gold pieces.”

            “What say you, my friends?”


                If the PCs accept the task, proceed to “The Monastery Ruins”.  If the PCs refuse the offer, Travis will graciously accept their decision, bid them a good evening, and retire to his room.  The next day, they will learn that earlier that same morning, Travis departed Highdale towards the ruins.  He will not return.

The Monastery Ruins


When the players are ready to begin, read or paraphrase the following:


            Following the directions you obtained in Highdale, you have traveled for most of the day.  The land around you is mostly low, rolling, grass-covered, hills with the occasional copse of trees.  Having left the beaten path some time ago, you now follow an faint, overgrown trail that seems to meander almost aimlessly through the landscape  Rounding the base of a particularly broad knoll, you find yourself looking over a spacious meadow.  On the far side, a small grove is nestled in the nook created by to two adjoining hills and through the unkempt leaves and branches, you can discern what appears to be a man-made structure.

            As you draw closer, you see it is in fact a lone square building constructed of hewn stone.   Squat and unassuming, it has obviously been long forsaken.  A covered terrace extending outward from the face while the rear apparently abuts the bordering hills.  Wide steps lead up onto the terrace and a dark, open, doorway looms beyond, beckoning you.


Monastery Interior

                The ruin consists of stone masonry walls and tile floors.  Though old and long neglected, the interior doors are still in good condition and are unlocked, unless otherwise noted.  Ceiling height is a standard eight feet and all chambers are dry and free of large rubble.  With the exception of Area 1 and a portion of Area 2, the interior of the monastery is unlit.  PCs will need a light source in order to see.


Wandering Monsters

                Every hour the PCs spend in the dungeon or any time they make a great deal of noise, roll 1d10.  On the result of a “1”, they have attracted the attention of a Giant Centipede which arrives in the next 1d4 Rounds.


Giant Centipede

    It's vital stats are: HD 3d8; HP 19; AC 14; it's primary attributes are physical; it attacks with a bite for 1d8+1 damage.  Anyone bitten by the centipede must make a Save vs. Poison (Challenge Level 4) or lose 1d4 points from their Dexterity Attribute for the next 1d6 hours.


Areas of the Map

Area #1 - Veranda

            Short, broad, steps lead up onto a covered terrace that serves as the monastery's entrance.  The ceiling overhead is supported by twin rows of fluted pillars that run the length of the terrace.  Nature has slowly begun to intrude and reclaim the area. Weeds and roots poke through the cracked and faded tiles while stay vines have crept up onto the terrace and wound themselves up the pillars.  The entire area is littered with dry leaves, small twigs, and other windblown debris.

            Beyond the pillars, a set of aged, iron-bound, wooden doubles doors is sunk into the face of the wall.  Though old and warped, they appear to be sound.  The right-hand door is slightly ajar, leaving a space between them just wide enough for an average-sized person to step through.


                A Wisdom Check (Challenge Level 4) will uncover a patch to the left of the terrace where the grass has been trampled and flattened.  Once found, Characters will immediately recognize the prints of horseshoes beat into the ground.

                Rusted and corroded torch sconce are positioned on the inner surface of each pillar.  Searching the terrace itself will reveal nothing as there is little of interest.  The double doors are unobstructed and open freely.


Area #2 - Main Corridor

            Beyond the double doors lies a 10-foot wide corridor.  Twigs, leaves, and other light debris are scattered across the floor, carried in and deposited by the wind while dirt, grit, and small pebbles have been swept against the walls.  Two simple wooden doors face each other from opposite walls just a few feet passed the entrance.  Beyond this another door can be seen on the left-hand wall.  Directly opposite it is what appears to be an open doorway or connecting corridor.  The main corridor however seems to continue on into the darkness.  A just passed the second door.


                A Wisdom Check (Challenge Level 3) will reveal a faint trail through the grime on the floor, indicating something has recently passed this way.

                Once the PCs reach the intersection, read of paraphrase the following:


            Halfway down the corridor, you see that a second, smaller hallway branches off to the right and extends a dozen feet or so before coming to an open arched doorway.  A strong odor of filth and decay seems to emanate from here.  The main corridor itself continues for several more feet before ending at  a set of closed double doors.  Directly before them, on the left –hand wall, is yet another simple wooden door.  Opposite this, an unidentified heap, about half the size of a person, lies slumped against the wall


                The unidentified heap is in fact a discarded backpack.  The fine coat of dust suggests it has been here for a while but it obviously did not belong to the original inhabitants.  The pack itself appears to have been slashed open by claws, its contents scattered and lost, though a few mundane items remain:


Area #3 Monk’s Cell

            Two simple straw pallets, one against the north wall and one against the south wall, are this small room’s only furnishings.  Pieces of broken pottery and splintered wood are scattered about but there seems to be little else of interest.


                There is little of any true interest here.  Examining the pallets will yield little other than damp, moldy, straw.


Area #4 Monk’s Cell

            Though there appears to be no visible mechanism, this door seems to be locked and will not open.


                The door is not locked or barred.  It instead has warped and swelled with age and become stuck.  A Strength Check (Challenge Level 6) will force it open or it can be broken down.  Either method will create noise and draw attention to the party.  Check for Wandering Monsters.


                Once the PCs have the door open, read or paraphrase the following.

            Two simple straw pallets, one against the north wall and one against the south wall, are this small room’s only furnishings.  Pieces of broken pottery and splintered wood are scattered about but there seems to be little else of interest.


                There is little of any true interest here.  Examining the pallets will yield little other than damp, moldy, straw.


Area #5 Monk’s Cell

            As you open the door, the sickening stench of death and decay washes over you, causing your nostrils to burn and your stomach to knot. Two simple straw pallets occupy this small room,  one against the north wall and one against the south wall.  A decomposing corpse with long stingy blonde hair and  dressed in stiff leathers is sprawled across the southern pallet.


                All Characters entering this room must make a Constitution Check (Challenge Level 5) are become nauseated and suffer a -1 penalty to all attack and damage rolls until they have spent at least 15 minutes outdoors.

                Rot Grubs have infested the corpse and anyone who comes in contact with it risks Infection.


Rot Grubs

    Rot Grubs are diminutive maggot-like vermin found crawling over carrion.  They seek to infest a living host by burrowing into their flesh and consuming them from the inside out.  Their saliva contains an anesthetic agent that numbs the flesh, concealing their presence.  When first encountered, a successful Wisdom Check (Challenge Level 5) will allow a Character to notice the grubs and thereby avoid them.  If this Check is failed and the Character comes into physical contact with the infected corpse, the Character immediately becomes infected as the grubs penetrate the skin and begin burrowing through the flesh.  Once this occurs, the victim may make a Wisdom Check (Challenge Level 5) to notice the strange burrowing underneath their skin.

    During the first 2 Rounds of infection, the Rot Grubs may be removed by burning or cutting open the affected skin but the victim suffers 2d6 points of damage in the process.  After the first 2 Rounds, only a remove disease spell will save the victim.

    Each Turn following infection, the victim must make a Save vs. Disease (Challenge Level 7) or lose 2d6 points from their Constitution Attribute.  Once their Constitution reaches "0", the Character dies.


                The corpse itself was once Lorna D’Thanier, a female half-elf companion of Kevin Lasdon.  Her leather armor is damaged but useable and a sheathed short sword lies within reach.  An elegant but simple moonstone ring (25gp) adorns her left hand.


Area #6 Headmaster’s Cell

            What may have once been a simple shrine takes up the space directly opposite the door.  Now it is little more than a niche in the wall, empty save for dust and cobwebs.  On the floor, against the south wall lies a mildewed, straw pallet, with a broken chest at its foot.  The northern portion of the room is littered with broken pieces of wood and scattered bits of paper and parchment.


                There is little of any true interest here.  Examining the pallet will yield little other than damp, moldy, straw.  The lid of the chest looks to have been smashed open by an axe.  Inside, there is little other than old, mildewed and moth-eaten, robes.  The papers are faded and illegible.  What little than can be read is simply journal entries portraying the day-to-day life of a monk.


Area #7 Dining Hall

A long wooden table dominates the center of this room.  Chipped and scarred, the table top stands only a foot or two off the ground, requiring any would-be diners to sit on the floor.  The southern end of the room is littered with bits of shattered pottery and scattered wooden dishes where a free-standing shelf has either collapsed or been knocked over.

The sudden presence of your torchlight brings a squeal of protest from underneath the table.


A family of Giant Rats has built a nest beneath the table and they do not take kindly to the PCs sudden intrusion.


Giant Rats (4)

    Their vital stats are: HD 1d4; HP 1, 2, 2, 4; AC 13; their primary attributes are physical; they attack with a bite for 1d2 damage


During the second Round of combat, the occupants of Area #8 will enter the room and attack the PCs as well.

Amongst the chewed branches and strips of shredded cloth that make up the rats’ nest, the following can be found:


·         An old leather belt with a silver buckle  (25 gps)

·         A thin chain necklace with a pearl pendant (5 gps)

·         A rusty old key


                The wooden dishes are simple but well-made.  There are a total of 5 bowls, 4 plates, and four cups that are still serviceable.  There are no utensils.


Area #8 Kitchen

            By the looks of it, this room once served as the monastery’s kitchen but it has long since seen any use.  A counter top runs along the north wall of this room while a large fireplace takes up most of the west wall.  Numerous shelves are affixed to the walls at eye level but all appear to be vacant.  The floor is cluttered with shards of broken pottery, scraps of shredded cloth, and wind-blown debris from the chimney.  A closed door occupies the center of the east wall.


                This room is currently occupied by three Giant Rats from the nest in Area #7.  Should combat occur in Area #7, these rats will rush out in the second Round to protect the nest.


Giant Rats (3)

    Their vital stats are: HD 1d4; HP 4, 3, 3; AC 13; their primary attributes are physical; they attack with a bite for 1d2 damage


Area #9 Larder

                The door to this room is spiked closed from the inside.  To access the room, the PCs will have to break the door down with a Strength Check (Difficulty Level 8).  As soon as they do, they will be attacked by the room’s occupant.


            With a resounding crack, the door gives way to reveal a small chamber beyond.  An un-nerving chill almost radiate from the room while the darkness within seems to immediately swallow any encroaching light.  As you peer through the doorway, you catch a flutter of movement before a ghastly shape lunges towards you.  It appears to have once been human but its flesh is now withered and stretched tight over its bones.  Despite its corpse-like state, you can discern the fires of hateful intelligence burning in its eyes as it attacks.


Kevin Lasdon - Wight

    His vital stats are: HD 4d12, HP 31, AC 15. His primary attributes are Mental.  He attacks with his fists for 1d6 damage.  Anyone hit by his fists suffers Energy Drain, losing 1 level of experience.


                The Wight is none other than the late Kevin Lasdon.  Wounded and alone, he tried to flee but in his panic, took a wrong turn.  Instead of exiting the monastery, he found himself cornered in this small pantry.  In desperation, he spiked the door shut, trapping himself inside.  Unfortunately, his wounds were more grave than he realized and in a few short hours, this tiny chamber became his tomb.  Angry and resentful, his spirit could not rest and the following night, he arose as a Wight.

                Kevin wears a violet chemise and black breeches under his padded armor.  He lost the majority of his gear before shutting himself in the larder.  There is 39 gps and 8 sp in his belt pouch, a sapphire ring (100 gps) on his hand, and the Lasdon family medallion under his shirt.


            The small room beyond the door appears to have once been a pantry or larder.  Multi-tiered shelves line the north and south walls while a number of barrels are huddled against the east wall.  The shelves and floor are covered in bits of broken pottery, scraps of cloth, and scattered piles of unidentifiable matter where the monastery's food stores were broke open and their contents tossed about.


                One of the barrels is intact but contains only stagnant water.  Amongst the various rubbish is Kevin’s masterwork dagger.


Area #10 Temple

            The double doors swing open into a grand hall.  Simple but elegant columns support a vaulted ceiling over a bare stone floor and elaborately carved podium stands atop a dais at the east end of the room.  The dais is flanked by two simple wooden doors.  Atop the podium is what appears to be a massive open book carved from white stone.

            Two rows of small tables occupy the western portion of the room, forming a wide aisle that leads to a second pair of double doors set into the west wall.  Before the doors, the floor is tarnished by some manner of dark stain.


                Should a PC inspect the stain in front of the double door, they will discover several streaks leading to the door, as if the source of the stain had been dragged through the opening and the doors were then closed behind it.

                The podium and book are in fact a single sculpture which is an altar dedicated to Iberus, the God of Knowledge.  It has been vandalized and desecrated however and thus no longer possesses any magical properties.  However, a catch under the lip of the podium allows the book to lift up, revealing a secret compartment within.  A Wisdom Check (Challenge Level 7) is required to find the catch.

                Within the compartment are the following:


                The tables are low to the ground, requiring anyone using them to sit on the floor.  All are now scratched and chipped.  Some even show signs of having been chewed on or hacked at.  Beneath the table nearest the northwest corner is a battered but serviceable target shield.


Area #11 Bat Roost

                As you open the door, you are assaulted by an overpowering odor that makes your nostrils burn and your eyes water.  It appears that a portion of the roof has collapsed, creating an opening to the outside.  The floor is nearly covered in a white, chalky-looking paste that seems to be the source of the stench.  An odd rustling draws your attention upwards and you see the ceiling is literally alive with a massive swarm of bats.


                The bat swarm will drop from the ceiling and attack the instant a light source enters the room.


Bat Swarm

    The Swarm's vital stats are: HD 3d8, HP 25, AC 16.  It's primary attributes are physical.  It attacks with a bite for 1d4 damage.  Anyone taking damage from the swarm suffers 1 point of damage each Round thereafter due to excessive bleeding.  A Character that starts their turn in the area occupied by the swarm must make a Constitution Check (Challenge Level 1) or suffer a -1 to all rolls that Round due to the distraction caused by the fluttering, whirling, cloud of bats.


Area #12 Dressing Room

            The door to this room looks to have been smashed open. Inside,  a number of ornate cabinets and chests seem to have been similarly vandalized as their doors and lids have been broke open or torn free.  What treasures and valuables they may have held are now long gone.  All that remains appears to be old, tattered ceremonial robes of some sort.


                The various implements and trappings utilized in monastery’s worship of Iberus were stored in this room.  The raiders looted everything when they ransacked the monastery.  There is nothing left of value.

Area #13 Library

            As the double doors swing open, you see that the area directly beyond is open save for a pair of writing desks against the west and north walls.  To the south however, the walls are lined with bookcases, reaching from floor to ceiling.  The shelves contain hundreds, if not thousands, of volumes.  Some are bound in leather while others are simple loose pages stuffed in loose binders.  More books and pamphlets are scattered haphazardly about the floor, as if pulled from the shelves and uncaringly tossed aside.

            A dark stain runs from the door and down the center of the room to end at a heap near the southern wall.  From where you stand, the heaps appears to be the remains of what at one time may have been a person.  The foul, rotting, emaciated,  things shuffling towards you in decayed  robes may have been people once as well... but no longer.


                The zombies were once the monks who inhabited the monastery.  The desecration of their temple cursed them to carry out in death what they were unable to do in life.... protect the monastery.  They move to attack as soon as the party enters the room


Zombie (6)

    Their vital stats are: HD 2d12; HP 19, 18, 20, 9, 9, 9; AC 12.  Their primary attributes are physical.  They attack with their fists for 1d8 damage.  Zombies never gain initiative and always act last in any given Round.


                The mangled heap is all that remains of Deitrich von Helm, the third member of Kevin Lasdon’s party.  Overwhelmed by the zombies, he was drug into the library and feasted upon.  The corpse is so badly damaged it is impossible to identify.

                Along the west wall, another corpse is partially buried behind a pile of books.  The corpse is dressed in monk’s robes and wears a golden holy symbol of Iberus (75 gps) on a necklace.  A rapier is buried to the hilt in its chest.  This was once the headmaster of the monastery.  He too was cursed to unlife like the other monks.  When the zombies attacked Kevin Lasdon’s party, Kevin impaled the headmaster but then lost his grip on the sword.  The zombie headmaster fell back against a bookshelf which then collapsed onto of him, burying him under the books.  Kevin fled the room without recovering his blade.  The rapier is a Rapier +1.



                Once the party has recovered the medallion from Kevin Lasdon, they may return to Highdale.  Travis will see that his brother is properly buried (if necessary) but is truly more interested in the medallion.  Once it is in his possession, he will have little interest in the PCs and departs for home the following day.