27 March 2021

Smugglers Cave - Level 3-5 Adventure

We love to create adventures that are completely different sometimes, and subvert expectations. Sometimes, however it’s great fun to revisit a classic plot and play into the stereotypical adventure. This month's free adventure is just that, a classic plot, given the Osrynn’s treatment. There are hundreds of Smugglers Cave type adventures available, but a lot of them are quite boring, and very samey. In this re-work of a classic, we want to provide a really fun adventure, that makes the old theme feel fresh again.

To this end, we have focussed on creating memorable new creatures for your players to encounter, a couple of devious traps for them to get caught in, and a fun dungeon layout with a good mix of underwater and land based areas.

The Quest

The party are hired through their usual quest-giver (be that a local authority, an adventurers guild, a note on a jobs board, or simply a rumour from a friendly NPC) to help clear out a band of smugglers who have recently begun operating in the area. The party are charged with clearing out the caves in which the Smugglers have begun to operate from, and have been asked to attempt to bring the leader in alive, to face justice.

The job posting/quest giver will inform the party as to the location of the main cave entrance, along the coastline. If the party enquire further, they will learn that there is a second entrance, which is located offshore, and can only be accessed by boat. If the party want to enter this way, they will need to find someone to either lend or sell them a boat. None of the local fishermen or sailors will be willing to enter the caves, due to the danger of the Smugglers, but one will be willing to allow them to borrow his rowboat if they can pass a DC 14 charisma (persuasion) or charisma (intimidation) check.

Another piece of information you may give to your players, should you decide it to be pertinent, is that the smugglers are known for setting up traps within their base, and that the party should be careful. If, however, you’re more like me, let it be a nice little surprise for them instead!

The Area

This adventure is, for obvious reasons, best set in a coastal town or village. The population will be mostly fishermen, sailors and merchants, and will not be an overly wealthy area. If you want to run this adventure for a group based in a less coastal area, you could easily have the quest involve travelling to the area. Maybe even throw in a random encounter or two along the way? If you’re looking for maps for the journey, I definitely suggest both my Modular Plains map pack, and my Plains and Cliffs map pack.

The Map:

C1 - Bridge Room & Dry Entrance

If the party enters from the main entrance, instead of via boat, this is the room they will enter into. The room itself is somewhat plain, with the only two points of interest being a large pool of water taking up the middle section of the room, and a wooden walkway about 5 ft. above it, leading to the other side.
A character that passes a DC 15 wisdom (perception) or intelligence (investigation) check will notice two shapes moving about underneath the water, this being two Giant Octopuses (basic rules - p134). Regardless of whether or not the players are aware of these two creatures, the octopus will notice them, and will remain passive until a creature they do not recognise (eg. not one of the smugglers) walks onto the walkway. As soon as any other creature walks onto the walkway, however, the octopuses will immediately attack with their tentacles, and attempt to pull the offending creature into the water. The only way to avoid them is to either exit their range (they will not leave the water, despite being able to), or to kill/incapacitate them.

This room has two exits, one to the south west, and one to the east. The southwestern exit leads the party back out of the cave system, whilst the eastern exit leads directly into C2. The tunnel leading there is curved enough that the party cannot see into the next room.

C2 - Part Flooded Room

The party will find themselves in an oval shaped room next, in which there is a single pool of water to the north, and an open space to the south. Upon walking into this room, each creature must make a DC 13 wisdom saving throw. On a success, nothing happens. On a fail, however, a creature will find itself drawn towards the pool. At the bottom of the pool, they will see an item they desire greatly (treasure, a magic item, even maybe a family member, have fun with it). If they fail the save by 5 or more, they will immediately feel the urge to jump into the pool, and swim to the bottom, whereas on a normal fail they will simply find themselves drawn to stare into its depths. This pool is over 100 ft. deep, and is enchanted to take double the normal movement to swim upwards in, after being entered. The creature can remake the saving throw after every minute, or if they take damage from any source. Otherwise, they will remain either transfixed, staring into the pool, or sinking into its depths.

The room has two exits, one to the east, and one to the west. The eastern entrance takes the party into C1, down a curved tunnel, whilst the western entrance leads directly into C4, where the party can see a larger, open space. At the end of the western tunnel, there is a tripwire (DC 12 intelligence (investigation) or wisdom (perception) check to see this).

C3 - Boat Entrance & Unloading Room

If the party decides to enter the caves via the ocean, on a boat, they will find their way into this room. The room itself contains a small amount of furniture, some crates and barrels for storage, and a small wooden dock to tie boats to. The players will, obviously, start at the dock, and can investigate the room should they so choose. If they do so, they will be able to find a set of fine silk robes (worth 50 gp) in one of the crates, and a few (1d4+2)pouches of rare spices (worth 10-15 gp each) in one of the barrels. At the table, they will also fine a deck of marked cards (they can spend a long or short rest studying them to learn the system) and a dagger stuck into the wood of the table, where clearly a game was being played, before an argument broke out (possibly from the fact that one of the players was clearly cheating). Along with this, the party will find Map Handout, detailing the layout of the cave system.

There are two exits to this room, one to the north east, and one to the west. The north eastern exit is completely waterlogged, and leads the party back out of the caves, and into the ocean, whilst the western exit leads directly to C4, via a long, curved tunnel. 

C4 - Central Room

This room is somewhat plain to look at, consisting of a wide, open chamber, partly taken up to the south by a pool of water. If the party enters from the north, they will have no trouble. If the party entered from the east, however, they may have triggered a trip-wire. If they did, then a net suspended from the ceiling, filled with large rocks and boulders, will start to drop. Exactly 6 seconds after the tripwire is tripped, the rocks will fall in a 15 ft. radius of the eastern entrance to the chamber. All creatures within range must make a DC 12 dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 bludgeoning damage on a fail, and half as much on a success. This trap can, however, be disarmed by a dexterity (thieves tools) check, DC 12, if it is spotted before being triggered.

The room has three exits; one to the east, one to the north, and one to the south. The north exit leads down a winding tunnel into C3, and the eastern tunnel will take the party into C2, potentially triggering the tripwire if they entered from C3 initially. The final exit, to the south, is completely submerged in the pool, and is not immediately visible (wisdom (perception) check, DC 12). This exit leads through an underwater tunnel, into C5.

C5 - Flooded Room

The room the party will find themselves entering is entirely submerged under water, without any air pockets visible. Once inside, the party will see the chamber to be roughly 30 ft. tall, from floor to ceiling, and with an exit to both the east and the west. From the western tunnel, two killer whales will suddenly emerge, using the Akhlut statblock (see below). These Akhlut have been trained and raised by the smugglers, and will fight to either kill or scare off the party. If one dies, however, the second will retreat into the western tunnel leaving the room, and exit the water turning into its true form.

There are two exits to this room, one to the east, and one to the west. The eastern exit leads the party into C4, and the western leads into C6. Both exits lead to open pools, wearing the party can come up for air.

C6 - Sleeping Chamber

Inside this room, there will be two Smugglers (statblock below), standing with their crossbows pointed at the water, actions readied to fire at the first creature they do not recognise to come up for air. They will immediately fire onto any creature, other than one or both of the Akhluts, that attempts to emerge from the pool. Other than the two foes (and any Akhluts that retreated) the room will be free of other creatures. The room contains four makeshift beds against the wall, with a fireplace in the centre of them. If the players search the bodies of the Smugglers, they will find a potion of water breathing on each one.

This room has two exits, one to the south east, and one to the north. The southeast exit is fully submerged underwater, and leads into C5, whilst the northern exit leads up into C7.

C7 - Smuggler Leaders Quarters

As they enter C7 for the first time, the party will entice that it is well furnished. To the eastern side of the room, there is a large wooden table, with five chairs around it, all atop an expensive looking rug. Likewise, in the western side of the room, there is another high quality rug, with a double bed on top of it. This is clearly the sleeping quarters of the leader of this band of smugglers. To the south side of the room, also, the party will be able to find a wardrobe, containing 2d4-2 sets of fine clothes (worth 15 gold each). On the bookshelves just above the bed, the party will be able to find (should they look) a book on Akhluts. Explaining that they are shapeshifting creatures that take the form of a Wolf (with a dorsal fin, and a black and white colouring), or a killer whale. It will also explain about their resistance to cold damage, and the fact that they are elementals, from the plane of water. Other than this, there is nothing of note in the room.

To the south of this room, a tunnel leads back into C6. To the north, there is a tunnel leading into C8. The northern tunnel is guarded by a concealed trip-wire (DC 14 wisdom (perception) or intelligence (investigation) check to spot). Triggering this trip wire will cause a hatch in the ceiling to open, dropping a powder keg onto the party. It will fall just in front of the passageway to C8, and explode in a 15 ft. radius. Each creature in this area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 fire damage, and being pushed back 10 feet on a failed save (taking an additional 1d6 bludgeoning damage if they hit a wall). On a successful save, the creature takes half damage, and is not subjected to the knockback.

C8 - Treasure Room & Store Room

Unless the party have managed to take out every threat in the caves without making a sound, and have somehow avoided triggering any of the traps, then the Smuggler Leader (statblock below) in this room will be waiting for them. He will be standing on the wooden pier, watching the entrance to the room. As soon as a player walks into the room, he will whistle, causing an Akhlut to leap out of the water (in killer whale form), transform mid-air into its true form, and then land in front of the leader. To either end of the pier, on the far sides, are two Smugglers, standing ready, with their crossbows raised (but this time without readied actions).

To the eastern side of the pier, there are a couple of chests, containing a good amount of the smugglers loot (as DM, adjust the quantities of gold/magic items inside to fit your game).

This is the final area of the map, and the only exit is to head back to the south, to C7. After completing the mission, however, the party can easily take a short or long rest in the beds provided, as well as search the crates and barrels for fresh and preserved foods. As before, each of the Smugglers (and the leader) will have a potion of water breathing on them, if searched.
Map Handout (should they find it)
Akhlut Statblock
Smuggler Statblock
Smuggler Leader Statblock
The Map (Unblemished)
The Map (Gettin' Griddy With It)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! Will reflavor this as goblin rebels as my players are in goblin countr. Great work on your part, love all the encounters, particularly the deep pit enchantment trap!