The Bottomless Tombs, Intro
The Bottomless Tombs is a 1st-level Pathfinder-compatible adventure that is designed to offer some experiences not common to 1st-level play, but still totally appropriate for beginning characters.
It uses this map, with Cartography by Dyson Logos. The map is available for use free through a license from Dyson Logos, thanks to his Patreon. This is a spectacular service to the hobby, and I heartily encourage any fan of RPG maps to go support him!
The arrow in the lower-left-hand corner indicates north. The Bottomless Tombs are an ancient Merothian barrow near the town of Redstone… or whatever ancient culture and town make sense for your campaign.
The barrow is built off a single central shaft, which is choked with weeds and roots, and the rotting wreckage of several cranes and other excavation equipment a band of adventurers tried to use to reach the bottom a decade ago… before some disaster sucked in most of their equipment and they left.
The people of Redstone don’t talk about the Bottomless Tombs much, and most adventurers have ignored it for years.
But now, people in Redstone are getting sick and no medicine or magic keeps them well for long. This happened once before, 100 years ago, as a half-elf who has run the town;s general goods store for more than a ten decades–Merinn Longear–will tell the PCs. When a root dislodged the lid of a stone casket somewhere within the first few hundred feet of the shaft, the ghost of “Chagral Chagrot” that grave cursed the town with boils and fevers. Adventurers went into the tomb, cleared away the roots from Chagral Chagrot’s casket, set the lid back on, and the curse was lifted.
And Chagral Chagrot’s ghost gave each adventurer one Secret of Power as a reward.
Letters have been sent to the major church in the nearest big city, Hoard, but it will take weeks for it to arrive and help to be dispatched. By then, several children and elderly within Redstone will have died.
Merinn Longear has a great-grandson who is sick. She asks the PCs to descend into the Bottomless Barrow, find the casket of Chagral Chagrot, and put it right. She will happily give them all the rope, pitons, and climbing kits they can carry to assist with this, and offers a reward of 50 gp each, her century-old emergency fund, if they succeed.
Redstone is not a large town, but it does have a population of almost 2,000 people. It has an aging 5th-level mayor, who is not much of a climber, and a 4th-level hedge witch, and a 3rd-level weather cleric, both of whom are happy to help prepare the PCs, but are needed in town to keep victims as well and comfortable as they can.
The PCs can do some research and asking around in town. Successful DC 14 checks with the following skills produce the listed information.
Diplomacy (gather information) — [1st check, or Knowledge (local)] The hedge witch has a store of sunrods (she has 10) she is likely to be willing to part with for a good cause (she is).
[2nd check] Some gnomes came to town asking about the Bottomless Tombs a few weeks ago, but they stayed only a day and left with no suggestion they were going there.
Knowledge (arcana) — Tombs of this kind were at one time used to bury genies, the long shaft being a way to ensure the element of air still had access to the graves of the air djinns.
Knowledge (dungeoneering) — Even if the tomb was totally emptied decades ago, chances are vermin have moved in, and possible goblins, mites, or other minor subterranearn humanoids. Also, it’s going to be dark. Bring lights.
Knowledge (religion) — Ghosts are one of the few forms of undead that aren’t almost always evil… but the majority still are. Even if destroyed, they can reform under the right conditions.
Other reasonable preparations can be made, but The Bottomless Tomb awaits!
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