The following are standalone entries, each offering a “hook” to get player characters into Dragon’s Delve. Use some, all, or none of them. Beware that too many hooks or quests can bog down a dungeon campaign, which is primarily about exploration.Bestial Host, although they will avoid mentioning that if possible. The half-orcs are not members of the host, but they do come on behalf of the orc tribes of the west. It seems that a horrific and deadly plague currently moves through many of the tribes, leaving many dead in its wake. Orc shamans tell of a similar occurrence centuries ago, and that a cure was found deep in Dragon's Delve. Eurod and Nimori have come to the area to find the non-orc adventurers who know the dungeon, and they come bearing the promise of no fewer than ten orc chieftains that if they find and deliver the cure, the orcs will not raise hostile arms against the people of the Fallen Duchy as long as the chieftains live.
A stranger rides into town, a pair of clearly experienced bodyguards (male human fighter9) at her side. The woman is Rochele Deibar (human female Aristocrat8) and she is the great granddaugher of the cousin of Duke Bryson Chordille. This makes her the closest living heir to the family that once ruled the region. She keeps her identity secret from most, however, because she fears the assassins of the high king of Kelmanosh who would not react well to the news that there was someone who rightfully controlled this land that he has long claimed. Plus, Rochele is leery of the tales that there is a curse upon the duchy, the ruined keep, and her family because of what went on so long ago. Rochele is interested to find out if there is any the truth to the rumors. She is also interested in finding the Duke's signet ring and any remaining artifacts or legacies of the family. She visits the ruined keep and sees for herself that it holds little, but she also knows that the dungeons beneath are vast. Yet she is no dungeon delver.
After she's been in town for a while, Rochele will quietly approach the PCs and ask them for their help recovering information or items relating to her family. In particular, she is interested in the duke's ring, the symbol of his power. The ring, of course, lies on Level 7. However, it also will prove useful to the PCs on Level 8 and beyond, so they may find themselves in a quandry if they promise it to Rochele. She will pay them 5,000 gp for the ring, and more for other items or information (at the discretion of the DM).
People begin to disappear from Brindenford. It starts out slowly. Someone in one of the taverns tells of how a farmer living a few miles to the west hasn't been seen for more than a week. Later, stories begin to spread that a young boy in town disappeared while playing in the woods. Soon, people whisper that they've seen cloaked figures lurking in the shadows at night, or have awoken to the sound of strange chants that quickly faded into obscurity.
Sheriff Erro Mansan has long suspected that something very strange and very horrible was going on in town, but he's never been able to find proof. With the blessing of the Lord Mayor, he begins investigating the local citizenry more closely. They both believe that the foul forces at work hide, at least in part, in the guise of the folk that live right in Brindenford--many perhaps having lived there for years.
The sheriff's inquiries cause fear and anger among the townsfolk, many indignant that anyone would ever even suspect them of wrongdoing or dark deeds. A few, like Jaskon Tully, suggest that perhaps it is time to get a new sheriff, or perhaps even a new mayor.
Of course, Jaskon is in fact a part of the cult, which is all too real. The Venom Cult operates in catacomb like tunnels beneath the city that link up to the dungeons of Dragon's Delve itself. With the arrival of their new high priest and the completion of their vile temple, they have stepped up their activities, kidnapping locals to use as sacrifices to their dark god, Nag.
Eventually, the sheriff comes to the PCs for help (assuming he knows of them and trusts them). He suspects (correctly) Jaskon and Gardok and (incorrectly) Vimble Mirhoffal of Queen's Crafts and Harrud Nousantal of the temple of Belestros. He would love to have help investigating them all. However, he would also greatly value any information about the cult's links to the dungeon, of which he knows nothing.
An elven woman named Daithe Themblisi (elf Ari4/Wiz3) comes to the Lost Duchy, looking for those willing to enter Dragon's Delve. She bears the ashes of an evil artifact called the Eye of the Shark God in a small silver urn, locked with an arcane lock spell. The artifact has been burned, but to keep it from reconstituting itself in 100 years and a day, the ashes must be buried at the top of the volcano at the heart of the mystic island of Khorant. She has read in an ancient scroll that the only way to reach Khorant is through a gateway in Dragon's Delve, within an area called the Aberrant Laboratory. She knows nothing about the dungeon other than that.
She confronts the PCs either in Brindendford or at the main entrance to the dungeon itself. She offers them the sum of 8,000 gp, payable in magic items of the PC's choosing, if they take the ashes to Khorant for her. Daithe has no interest or intention of going herself. She simply represents some powerful and wealthy figures in a faraway land interested in seeing the artifact destroyed forever.
Some woodcutters come into Brindenford and begin spreading the word that someone has taken up residence in the old tower in the woods a few miles to the southwest of town. Strange, greenish-white lights have been seen there at night, and the area surrounding the tower shows signs of (very minimal) activity. Even as this gets around town, Jabov Neril (human Drd1), who had been looking for rare herbs to the southwest, arrives in Brindenford and heads straight to the Sheriff. He tells Sheriff Erro Mansan that he has seen undead prowling around the vicinity of the tower.
Soon, it becomes inevitable that the PCs hear that a necromancer has taken up residence in a nearby tower. A few people in town (the sage Felstor Knoveli being chief among them) know a little about the history of the tower and can explain its origins. Most believe (rightly) that despite its great age and surprisingly good condition, the tower has been vacant for most of its existence. As recently as just a few months ago, a variety of people including Erro Mansan can confirm, the tower was abandoned.
No one actually sends the PCs to the tower, but just the rumors of strange happenings might be enough to get them curious. However, once the PCs learn that they can't reach Level 4, they may put two and two together regarding the historical confluence of the Red Saint and Terregaunt. Eventually, however, if they develop a good relationship with the sheriff, he could ask them to investigate the tower for him.
There's a newcomer to Brindenford who has caused a bit of a stir. Sir Thadeus deMournshire (human Ftr14), a famous dragonslayer, is staying at the Lost Shepherd after a long and successful hunt for a black dragon in the woods. "Rare to find them so far north," is most of what he'll say about the escapade. If the PCs approach him (say in the taproom one night), he will speak with them a while if they buy him a drink although he's not chatty. Despite its history, he has little interest in Dragon's Delve, believing the dragon at the bottom of the dungeon to be a myth. He will tell them that some of his recent quarry's spawn fled before he could kill them all, and he thinks that one might have made its way into a natural cave around here. He'd give anyone that might find it and kill it a reward if they brought the corpse back to him. He'll explain that the dragon's only a wyrmling, but it's still dangerous. (He'll even offer a few bits of advice about fighting dragons.) The reward? Ten +2 dragonbane arrows. But those will have to be for future dragon battles because he won't give them away to any but actual dragon slayers.
The only exception would be if the PCs know any of the Twelve Secret Sigils. If they teach Sir Thadeus any of the sigils, he gives them the arrows ahead of time and offers 500 gp for the dead dragon instead.
The dragon in question is Voracek in area 85. The interesting thing is that if the PCs go looking for the cave perhaps after asking the locals about any such possible locations they could find the way into Dragon's Delve through The Devil's Maw.
When the PCs come to the Temple of Vune needing healing, advice, or just to worship, a priestess named Sillitta Ederus speaks to them confidentially. She explains that about two years ago, a noble knight dedicated to the cause of righteousness named Baine Strongbow came to Brindenford and befriended the clerics of Vune. They were impressed with his sincerity and altruism. One day, a hideous hag appeared in the town and demanded a young girl to be given to her or she would curse the entire town. The hag's spells and summoned demons showed that she was nothing to trifle with. Baine took up his sword and confronted her, claiming that no innocent would be sacrificed. He battled her and her conjured beasts, and eventually drove her off.
However, a month and a day later, deadly assassins attacked and killed the heroic paladin while he slept. His belongings were all taken, of course. However, Baine had confided in Sillitta that his sword was enchanted so that if he were to ever die as the result of a good deed, his spirit would not pass on but instead would inhabit his sword. With the proper ritual, he could be restored to life.
Silletta now believes that both the assassins and the hag dwell in the dungeons of Dragon's Delve. If the paladin's sword could be recovered, she could bring him back. She tells the PCs that should they ever find the sword and bring it to the Temple of Vune, she would reward them with 8,000 gp worth of spellcasting services or clerical magic items (such as healing potions or wands).
The hag and the assassins are a part of the Venom Cult, but the sword now lies on Level 5. A clue to that fact, however, can be discovered on Level 3.
Sometime after their arrival in Brindenford, a man named Jarrack Nostell approaches the PCs. Jarrack wears fine clothing, but he’s no fop. He appears to be about fifty years old. He explains that he heard that they intended on exploring Dragon’s Delve, and would like to make a proposition.
Three months ago, he explains, some travelers were waylaid and killed on the road. All signs pointed to some inhuman raiders that then traveled to the ruins of Chordille Keep.
“Orcs,” Jarrack tells them, “although perhaps they were hobgoblins. Who can tell?”
Jarrack explains that one of the victims bore a jeweled bracer that was stolen by the raiders. He offers to pay the PCs 100 gp if they find it and return it, as it holds special meaning for him.
Now, some PCs may find this curious, or even suspicious. They might suspect that the bracer is even magical. It won’t take much to prompt Jarrack to tell the whole truth of the matter. Jarrack is a moderately wealthy man that makes his living buying and selling parcels of land. The bracer, in fact, holds a secret compartment that holds important documents regarding land deals he is making, having been signed by someone he is doing business with in a distant city. They conceal the documents, not because they are illegal or any such issue, but because they are valuable and the dealings are private.
If pressed for a greater reward (particularly given the importance of the documents), Jarrack offers not a simple monetary reward, but a small plot of land with a house on it near the river in Brindenford.
The bracer is in the possession of Ramscorn on Level 2. He has no idea that there are documents hidden within it (and wouldn’t understand them if he found them).
A man named Chasmal Drave disappeared from Brindenford about a year ago. This was the last of a series of mysterious disappearances in town.
As word spreads that the PCs are investigating Dragon’s Delve, a woman named Dressa Drave comes to them and wishes to speak with them privately. Dressa is portly and in her forties. If asked, she is married and has three children. But she’s come to talk to the PCs about her brother-in-law, Chasmal.
Chasmal is not dead. His was the last disappearance from town because he was responsible for the other six disappearances. Chasmal is a werewolf and killed and ate the others before fleeing town. His self-loathing drove him down into Dragon’s Delve. Only Dressa and her husband Amassey know Chasmal’s secret, and Amassey has completely disavowed himself of his brother.
Dressa, however, believes that there must be a cure and while Chasmal should answer for his crimes he shouldn’t have to live in a dangerous dungeon as an inhuman creature. And he should get some leniency as he wasn’t entirely in control of himself when he committed the murders (and eventually he left town so that no one else would die). She asks if the PCs could find Chasmal and bring him back, alive. Perhaps the temple of Vune can help, she says. She cannot offer them much for their troubles, but she does have an old flask that contains a magical invigorating elixir given to her by her grandmother, who dabbled in potions and alchemy. The flask holds two doses of a bull’s strength potion.
Chasmal currently resides on Level 1 in area 37.
More hooks forthcoming.<-->