Every Sunday night, I run my epic level D&D 4e home campaign. I prep my adventures in WordPress, then add to it and post it the day after we play. The intent is an adventure you can easily steal, with commentary at the end on how you might make it better.
The Sleeper in Dreams
Last week the players took an extended rest within the ice-caves of the Bleak Fallows. As soon as they fell asleep they were attacked by psychic spectres and aboleths. Gashix’s experience with dreams has led them to an interesting guide. Noga, a dire wolf also caught within this dream, says he know how to escape both this dream and the Bleak Fallows.
Noga is a familiar mount. My gift to the warlock, Gashix.
Noga informs them that The Sleeper in Dreams has them within his grasp. None alone are as powerful as The Sleeper, only by pooling their psyche will they have a hope of escape. The object of their entrapment is unimportant, only the act of escaping is necessary within the dream. He stresses upon them that time is of utmost importance, here time flows differently than within the waking world.
He knows the following information about The Sleeper in Dreams:
- The aboleths worship him as some sort of deity.
- Within his dreamscape, he is a deity.
- He is “sleeping” yet unable to wake.
- Led by an aboleth lich, the aboleths are trying to wake him.
- His dreams reek of the far realm.
- His nightmares are of the collapse of the Living Gate.
Skill Challenge: Escaping the Dream (Part 1)
The players need to figure out a means of escaping the dream, manifest it into existence within this dream world, then make it happen.
This is a two-part skill challenge. Part one is manifesting an escape scenario into existence. 6 successes before 2 failures. Failure results in a lost day.
Primary Skills (Three checks each, players are encouraged to draw or add terrain features with each success):
- Nature/Dungeoneering/Streetwise (DC 30)
- Depending on the player created scenario, one of these skills will help to establish terrain.
- Wisdom (DC 20)
- This skill fills the scenario with details, objects like moss and flowers, trash and carts, tables and chairs.
- Charisma (DC 20)
- This skill fills the scenario with life, whether it be birds in the trees, insects in a cavern, or vendors on a street.
As soon as the scenario is complete, the players are attacked within their own creation.
A large eye suddenly appears within the sky, not above you, but all around, as if you are creatures within some childs snow globe being spied upon. Within the deep maw of its iris you can see curiosity and hate. The scene around you shimmers, threatening to collapse upon itself, as the creature reaches into your globe with writhing tentacles.
Describe all monsters as tentacles of varying sizes. These tentacles gain a fly speed, they are literally manifestations of the Sleepers will, fingers he is able to poke anywhere within the players created “bubble”.
The players must hold onto their creation within their mind as a minor action each round, only one attempt is allowed per check, per round . These are the same skills as above, but the DC’s increase by 5 each. Failure results in their terrain feature wavering for a round, increasing the difficulty of the other checks by 2.
For every 4 failures during the combat, one day is lost.
Skill Challenge: Escaping the Dream (Part 2)
The players were supposed to create a means of escaping the dream. The second skill challenge is a simple, moderate DC, 6 successes before 2 failures, using whatever skills fit the player created scenario. A player can not attempt a check in a round in which any state of their dream has disappeared (due to a failure in the previous challenge). Only one attempt may be made per round and is (most likely) a standard action. Failure results in a lost day, + 1 day per failure beyond 2.
The players wake to find themselves restrained in ice (save ends). For creepy effect, each player also has a spirit lying within their space. As the players wake, the spirits slowly rise and phase away in to the walls, toward the center of the mountain.
The Aboleth lich waits in the viewing room and sends out scouts to find the players and report back. The players see one of these spirit scouts spying upon them, then turn away and leave quickly, toward the viewing room.
When bloodied the lich begins to converse during the fight. He goads them the entire time, reminding them time and again that his phylactery lies safe at the bottom of this ice encrusted lake. They will never defeat him as long as his phylactery remains intact.
Insightful characters may wonder why the lich is divulging such information, why this encounter is so easy, or why the lich chose to fight in the first place. Have them roll Insight if they don’t pick up on these curiosities.
Last nights session is run and done! Some notes:
- I’m not quite sure about Noga yet. I think I need to give him a means of gaining some temp hp. A simple aura of 5 damage was enough to keep him at range, exactly what I was hoping to avoid.
- I really liked the idea of a “build-your-own-terrain” encounter for the players. They decided to build the ice cavern from adventure 4, with the goal of walking back to inhabit their bodies. This allowed the monsters to bottleneck the passage with the artillery (the real threat) safely at the back.
- Add a few waves of Aboleth Hatchlings to this first encounter too, just for their aura to reduce saving throws. All the monsters coolest powers require the player to not save vs dazed, grab, restrained, or stunned.
- We’ve dubbed this villain, Abolich. I decided to have the Abolich (aboleth/lich) attempt a parle with the players before the fight ensued. He truly just wants them to leave, even offering them a means of gaining their mortality back (something the Raven Queen denied). The players refused his offer, to which he replied “You must know then that my phylactery lies safely at the bottom of this lake, you will accomplish nothing here today.”
- They accomplished killing him, for flare I had an aboleth behemoth actually coup de gras him, twice, just so there was none of that “keeping him prisoner” nonsense.
- The druid, Chi-Kal, had a means of investigating this lake, something about a ring of waterbreathing or what-not. Mixed with the endure elements ritual, I allowed it, but he still had to make an endurance check to stave off hypothermia.
Chi-Kal phases through the shattered window into the frigid water beyond its broken gaze. Once again, he sees that eerie, green, thin beam of light, shooting straight through the heart of this vast chamber. He knows to scour the walls, searching for any thing he, or something else, may hide within. Suddenly, he spots three large aboleth behemoths swimming in unison, upward, fast. Chi-Kal explodes into a thousand butterflies of a pale-blue hue. Each clings to the icy walls and presses its wings down tight, flush against the smooth surface. The aboleths stream past as Chi-Kal holds a thousand breaths at once. Safe again he continues his journey, downward.
He feels drawn to the green light, familiar with it somehow, yet he dares not touch it. Downward still, the great wyrms roam these depths. Chi Kal sees them far below, can feel their mighty bellow. He waits until safe again, then continues. Downward. He guesstimates nearly four miles.
Chi-Kal lands to find little, yet that glow… it seems so intense down here. He is drawn to it again, fluttering forward on this icy, ocean floor. What he sees there, shakes him to his core. He realizes he is on his knees after minutes of gazing at a mountain of spectral souls. Hundreds of thousands of souls, piled high, a heaping mound of undead energy. They all writhe and shake, pulsing to a necrotic beat. An Aboleth behemoth floats by, past the beam of green shooting far overhead. Each tentacle carries a soul and deposits it atop the pile, then it swims off again into the murky deep.
More determined than ever, Chi-Kal continues his search. He will find that phylactery, and it will be destroyed. Time is of the essence. As he searches he starts to get a lay of the land. He begins to notice the symmetrical crevices of the floor. Then he notices the dark spires rising high around him, like tentacles reaching toward the surface, but caught within the ice. This is when Chi-Kal realizes the truth. He is standing upon The Eldest. The Sleeper in Dreams is entombed within this ice, somehow caught within that moment of his impact into the water.
Only now does he run. Upward. Quickly. When he recounts his story to his allies, they agree. Run. Outward. Quickly.