11 July 2020

"A Cave of Two Paths" - Free D&D 5e Adventure

Well here we are, week two's adventure. This time I've gone for a two pronged dungeon format, where the players can pick the route that they will face. In one pathway, they will fight against human enemies, and have to cross a potentially perilous path, whilst in the other they will come face-to... face? With a number of cave dwelling critters (including a brand new water themed elemental monster, and a statblock for newly hatched giant spiders).

This setting non-specific adventure is designed for players levelled 2-3, will definitely kill a party of level 1's, and probably be a little easy for level 4's. But as always, you can use the map for your own ends, and add whatever monsters you like (should you wish to). I hope you get the most out of this, and it fits into your games!

"A Cave of Two Paths"

Build Up

If the party is looking for work, let them see a bounty poster for the bandit leader, rumoured to be living in the cave system mentioned later, 100 gold (dead or alive), redeemable in the settlement either side of the cave pass. Should they take this job, on their way out of town/the city have them approached by a tired looking man, in ragged clothing, carrying a sick child on his back, asking them if they are heading to the caves, and if so, can they provide him safe passage?

If the party are, instead, heading out of one town, to go somewhere else, this also makes a great travel adventure. Tell them that the quickest route between the two locations is through this cave system, and guide them towards it (locals will also point them towards this as their best bet). As they get close to the cave, they will meet a tired looking man, in ragged clothing, carrying a sick child on his back, asking them if they are heading to the caves, and if so, can they provide him safe passage?

The “Quest”

Continued from the above section: Can they provide him safe passage? If they can, it would mean the world, as his daughter is ill, and the only person who can help him lives in the town/city on the other side of the cave pass. In a bid to convince them, he will apologise for not having much in the way of money, but will offer them a family heirloom (a silver necklace worth 35 gold), and tell them about the bounty on the bandit captain (see above).


The man who approaches them will be a simple tradesman (brewer, farmer, carpenter, you pick), who is struggling with his sick daughter. She has contracted a rare disease (maybe a future plot point? Have fun with it. It cannot be cured by the party), and needs healing. The only person who can help her, at least within this man's budget, is a woman in the town/city on the other side of this cave pass, and he wants to get to her as soon as possible (plus couldn’t afford a carriage to get there the other way). Give him the stats of a “Commoner” from the basic rules (p163), and no weapon.

"Dungeon" Features

Cave Path

The main pathway running through the cave system was originally carved out to act as a quick route through the mountain/hills/otherwise hard to travel terrain (whatever works best in your setting). The path running through does not get much use any more, as safer routes have been established, but do take longer to traverse, and require a carriage or similar.to make the journey (whereas the caves are easy enough just by foot).

Unfortunately, in recent months, there have been reports of a bandit group moving into the area, which is discouraging a lot of the travellers from using that route.

North Caves

The northern caves in this system are the homes to monsters. Even the bandits who occupy the southern portion of the cave system are loath to go into the north areas, for fear of their lives. Any noise heard emanating from this area is considered by the bandits to be bad news, so they will not investigate, assuming the local monster population will have handled whatever invading force was stupid enough to head into the north path.

South Caves

The southern caves are the home of a group of bandits, who have recently taken up residence in the system. They were originally just using it as a hideout, but have recently realised that by blocking off the path, they can fleece travellers for coin/valuables in exchange for safe passageway through their portion of the caves (which is just a ruse to lure them into an area where they can be robbed blind/captured for ransom). They consider anyone who heads into the North Caves to be as good as dead, and do not go after them, but see anyone that comes out again alive as easy pickings (as they will likely have been weakened by the resident monster population.


C1 - Cave Entrance

This is the way into the cavern that the players will use, and it will act as the official start point for the adventure. As soon as the players enter, they will smell both damp stone, and the faint scent of a bonfire in the distance. The only sounds they can hear are a faint, slow dripping, and a small amount of chatter coming from slightly further down the corridor. 

As the players travel further down the corridor, they will notice a pathway leading north covered in a thin layer of webbing, and a door set into the south wall a little further in. The northern passage leads to N1, whilst the southern door will take them to S1. The NPC travelling with the party will try and discourage them from taking either route to begin with, as they are not the quickest route through the caves, and he just wants to make it through.

The slow dripping appears to be emanating from the north, as does the damp smell, whilst the bonfire smell and the chatter appear to be coming from behind the southern door.

C2 - Cave-in

When the players make it to the midway point in the cave pass, they will encounter a cave in. An investigation check, DC 12, will reveal that the cave in was caused by carefully planted explosives, and was clearly man-made/purposeful. Seeing this, the NPC travelling with the party will become worried, and start to panic. He will ask the party if they think they should turn back, or try one of the other routes.

If questioned, he will reveal local legends about monsters living in the north section of the cave system, and that travellers usually avoid them, but that the doors are new, and probably a sign of bandit activity. His personal preference is the southern route, but will agree to follow whichever the adventuring party chooses, as they are the ones trained in combat.

N1 - Spider Room

The first room in the north half of the cave is covered in a thin layer of web. The walls, and even part of the floor, are covered in webbing, with a few small balls of webbing (should the players investigate, each has an AC of 8, and a total of 5 hit points, with vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to bludgeoning, poison and psychic damages - and each contain random loot from the “Web Loot” table below).

In the centre of the room, there is a web sack larger than all the rest, and it contains 2d3 Giant Spiderling (see statblock below) eggs, which will hatch, and attack the nearest living creature, as they hatch starving. There is no sign of their mother. 

This room has 3 exits, the one to the south west leads back into the corridor towards C1 and C2, and is covered in a thin layer of webbing. The exit to the North East leads to N2, and is slightly rockier than the other cave paths, containing more stalagmites and stalactites than the rest of the cave. The final exit is to the South East, leads to N3, and is filled with thick webbing (players can destroy/remove this webbing with either slashing or fire damage). This corridor also contains a Giant Spiderling egg sack, which if destroyed will cause 2d3 Giant Spiderlings to hatch and attack the nearest character. They will chase the party back into room N1 to fight.

N2 - Darkmantle Den

As the players enter the room, they do not notice anything out of the ordinary, except for a high presence of stalactites hanging from the ceiling, and a large number of stalagmites covering the floor (the floor in here is classed as difficult terrain, and reduces characters speed by half). With a wisdom (perception) or intelligence (investigation) check, DC 12, the players will see the remains of Giant Spiderling and Giant Spider carcasses against the walls.

Hanging from the ceiling in this room are 2d2 Darkmantles (monster manual - p46), which will drop down on the players after a few have entered the room. If the players are running into this room, to flee from either Giant Spiderlings or Water Motes, the other creatures will not follow them in, in fear of the Darkmantles

The Darkmantles will attack by first causing the room to fall into darkness, one of them using their Darkenss Aura trait, and then the rest will fall down on random characters' heads, using their Crush attack.

There are two exits to this room, one to the west, and one to the south west. The exit to the west will take the players to N1, and starts off rocky/filled with stalactites/stalagmites, but quickly begins to flatten out and develop a thin sheen of web covering each surface. The exit to the south west leads to N3, and the players can hear the dripping sound more strongly down that way, as well as the origin of the damp smell.

N3 - Lake Room

As the players enter this cave, the first thing they will notice is the large lake that takes up the middle portion of the cavern. The air in this cave smells damp, and the players can hear (and see) water slowly dripping from the ceiling into the wide pool. They can see no movement inside the pool, other than the ripples created by the droplets of water coming from the ceiling.

The lake is about 15 feet across, and impossible to tell how deep it is without attempting to dive (about 50 ft. at its deepest). The only way across is to swim from one side to the other, or to make some kind of bridge. On the western side of the pool (where the players are likely to come in) there is nothing to act as such. On the eastern shore, leaning up against the north eastern most part of the cavern, there are a couple of wooden boards (in total 20 feet) and some tattered rope. A dexterity check, DC 12, will create a simple wooden bridge out of these, that the rest of the party can use to cross the river (dexterity (acrobatics) check, DC 12, to cross without falling in).

As soon as any creature enters the water, 2d3+2 Water Motes (see statblock below) will rise out of the water and hover above the surface. The Motes will attack any creature within 10 ft. of the water, including whatever creature is inside the pool, and will not attack anything outside of that range unless it engages them first. If the party retreat to a safe distance (the motes will not go further than 50 feet away from their pool), and wait for 15 minutes or more, the motes will retreat back under the water, where they will remain unless another creature enters their pool.

This room has three exits, one in the north west, one in the north, and the other in the south east. The exit to the north west leads to N1, and unless the party have already cleared out the web blocking the tunnel, it will still be there. The passage to the north will take the players into N2, and is heavily covered in stalagmites/stalactites. The Last exit, to the south east, leads into C3 where the Bandit Leader will be waiting for the party to arrive.

S1 - Bandit Entrance Room

The first room to the south that the party may take leads into the Bandit Entrance Room. This cave is relatively clean, and well kept, and contains 1d3+2 Bandits (basic rules - p162), who have been placed here to attack anybody stupid enough to enter their room. They are, however, not paying much attention to the door in, and instead are standing around having a hushed conversation about the last “Haul” they took from a group of merchants that recently passed through their caves.

A stealth check of DC 13 will be enough to sneak past the bandits, and into the tunnel-like section of the cave to the west side, allowing the players to bypass the majority of the cavern. After sneaking past the bandits into the “Bypass” tunnel, they will need to make another stealth check (same DC as before) to get into the doorway to the next room. The door leading into the tunnel between the two is unlocked and open, but the next door is locked tight (DC 12 thieves' tools to pick). A wisdom (perception) or intelligence (investigation) check, DC 12, will reveal a key ring on the belt of one of the bandits. To sneak up and steal it, they will require a DC 14 dexterity (stealth) check to sneak up, and a DC 15 dexterity (sleight of hand) check, to remove the keys without being noticed, failing either one of these will result in the bandits attacking the players.

S2 - Rope-Bridge

This room contains a long rope bridge, over a wide, 30 ft. deep chasm, and little else. The entrance that the players will likely come in from (leading to S1) has nothing except for one end of a rope bridge. This stretches all the way across the 15 ft. wide, 30 ft. deep chasm in the centre of the room. 

Any creature attempting to cross this bridge will have to make a dexterity (acrobatics) check, DC 11, to avoid falling off. If a small creature in medium, light, or no armour attempts to cross, they make this check at advantage. If a medium creature in medium, light, or no armour (or a small creature in heavy armour) attempts to cross, the check is made normally. If a medium creature in heavy armour (or any large creature) attempts to cross, this check is made at disadvantage. 

If a character slips and begins to fall, they can make a DC 14 dexterity save (no advantage or disadvantage imposed due to size/armour) to try and catch onto the bridge. If they pass, they manage to cross, but alert the bandits in room S3 to their presence (who will hold actions to fire their crossbows at any creature that walks through the door that isn’t one of their group). If they fail, they fall 30 ft. to the bottom of the chasm, taking 3d6 bludgeoning damage and alerting the bandits in S3 as to their presence.

To escape from the chasm, a character can make a dexterity (acrobatics) check, DC 12, to climb out again. The rest of the party can aid in this by lowering a rope (or similar) to help them up (granting advantage on the check). If the players do not have a rope (or similar), they can find 50 ft. of rope next to the barrels in the north of the room. The barrels are, otherwise, empty. The exit to the north east of this room leads to S3. The doors are not locked, but make sure to ask your party who goes through first (if they alerted the bandits as to their presence before).

S3 - Bandit Camp

Inside this room, there is a crackling fire in the centre, surrounded by a large number of makeshift beds. Sitting around the fire (or standing at the ready, if alerted to the players presence) are two Thugs (basic rules - p164), and 1d3+1 Bandits (basic rules - p162). Each has a loaded crossbow, and whatever other weapons are mentioned on their statblocks. 

There is also a chest in this room, containing the spoils of the bandits last few takes. The chest contains: 1 uncommon minor magic item(s), 1-2 health potions, 45 gold, 74 silver, 132 copper and a handful of gems (worth about 70 gold).

There are two exits to this cavern, one to the south east, and one to the north west. The exit to the north west leads to N2. The exit to the south east leads into C3, where the bandit leader is waiting. Even if the party defeat all of the enemies in this room, the Bandit Leader in C3 will not come to investigate, as he will believe that his men have it sorted, meaning the party can take a short (short) rest in here before making their way onwards.

C3 - Cave Exit

The Bandit Leader (see statblock below - basically a slightly toned down version of the bandit captain (basic rules - p397) to fit the level of this adventure) in this room is accompanied by 2 Thugs and 2 Bandits (see above for reference to these statblocks), who are blocking the only way out of the cavern from here. When the players enter the room, he will demand they hand over any/all gold and valuables they have on them, before he will let them leave. If they comply, he really will let them go (seeing as they have either survived the monsters to the north, or massacred the rest of his men in the south), but if he sees that they took the contents of the chest in S3, he will become hostile and demand retribution for taking “What’s his”.

If they do not agree to hand over their valuables, as they likely won’t, he will order his “Boys” to attack (the other bandits + thugs), and will join in after the first one takes fatal damage, or is attacked himself.

After the battle, if the players took the North caves, the players can investigate S3 where they will find the Bandits + Thugs who will initially be hostile, but can be convinced to leave the party alone by either proving that they have killed/defeated the Bandit Leader in C3, or with a charisma (persuasion) check of DC 13.


After the party has safely exited the cave, the NPC (assuming he’s still alive - you wouldn’t kill him, would you? You monster.) will thank the party for helping him, and offer them the promised reward. They will part ways, but maybe let them see him again some time? Maybe with a healthy daughter? Maybe mourning at a gravestone, alone? Maybe alone, and seemingly afflicted with the same disease his daughter had? Have fun with it, and make sure the players feel it.

Web Loot Table

Monster Statblock - Bandit Leader

Monster Statblock - Water Mote

Monster Statblock - Giant Spiderling

The Map (With Grid)

The Map (Without Grid)


  1. Running through this today, my first time as DM. I'm nervous but this seems like a great entry point. Thanks for putting this out there.

    1. Ah, no way! Hope the game went well, I still remember my first time DM-ing... I was so nervous. Hope the adventure worked well for you!

  2. Question for you! On the gridded map, how large are the squares? I'm assuming they're not scaled to 5 ft, but 10 ft? 20 ft? Larger?

    Thanks for the free adventure! This will certainly fit nicely in my Pharika-assisted BBEG Theros campaign ^^

  3. Thanks for all of these you've been doing, they're fantastic and easy to plug and play with my groups.