The Westraven Witch
When the party arrives in The Crypt, they arrive buried alive beneath the earthen floor. How deep they are buried, and how long it will take them to dig themselves up through the loose earth is directly related to what they were doing when “night returned” in Dark Passage:
- Not lying down: 3 rounds of digging.
- Lying down without a coin on each eyelid: 2 rounds of digging.
- Lying down with a coin on each eyelid: 1 round of digging.
- Lying down with a coin on each eyelid placed there by someone else: a thin film of dirt (just sit up). This character will receive a random Boon once they have all emerged from the soil.
While buried alive, the rules for Suffocation (per DMG pg 159) apply. A character who was holding his breath at the time of the transition need not start making checks until the end of their third round. Those who were not holding their breath when the light went out in Dark Passage begin suffocating immediately. Given the difficulty of making the Endurance checks required, it means total failure may see as many as 3 healing surges taken from each character (though it will not prevent them from digging their way out).
Once any character frees themselves, they can assist others. For each round they provide assistance, they reduce the required rounds to escape by one.
Once the group is free of the immediate danger and able to survey their surroundings, read aloud the following:
You find yourselves in a large, dusty chamber, its center lit by a single, flickering torch thrust into the earthen floor from which you just crawled. Excepting the 20 by 20 patch on which you sit, the rest of the walls, floor, and ceilings are worked stone. Cobwebs abound, and a stench of death and decay immediately informs you that you have found yourself in a crypt of some sort. Looking in each direction, the room appears about 40 feet on a side, with the earthen section in the very middle. On one side, an alcove contains a set of large double doors inlaid with metal runes that glint in the torchlight, but you cannot read them from here. Passages lead away from the room in the adjacent corners. Opposite, an opening some 15 feet wide leads to another room, dimly lit by a pair of flickering candles in the distance.
Features of the Area
The Doors: If the group approaches or sheds better light on the northern doors:
Set into an alcove some 10 feet deep is carved the outline of two massive stone doors, though no hinges or opening mechanism are apparent. A poem is etched into the stone, the letters filled in with silver:
How I long to hold them
Forever in my heart
With shame I must admit
I can’t tell them apart
Their jealousy so raw
Their passions so inflamed
Murder one another
And do it in my name
As passions do still stir
Each other leave unharmed
Until they find themselves
The four I’ll keep disarmed
For now I’ll kill their kin
And so return their love
We’ll lie forever here
Unwanted up above.
Opening the Doors
The doors cannot be opened by non-magical means. A Knock ritual (PHB pg 307) can open the doors, but only on a successful DC of 25. The doors open magically if four corpses (any corpses) are buried in the earthen center of the room. They need not be buried deep, nor in the caskets. If they are buried without caskets and with just enough earth to cover them, it takes only about 50 man-minutes to bury each, half that if the group has proper (or sufficient makeshift) tools. If they choose to bury them in the caskets or deeper, inflate the required time appropriately.
The doors lead to The Witch’s Den.
The South Room: If the group approaches or enters the southern section:
This triangular room is home to four caskets and a small altar topped by burning candles. The coffins are open and appear empty. The wood shows cracks and is still caked in mud here and there, obvious signs they were recently excavated. Beyond, a pair of passages continue further into the darkness.
The Caskets: If the group moves close enough to examine the casket contents:
On closer examination, each casket contains a simple wooden cross lying inside, a common grave marker in small villages. Each wooden marker is engraved with only a first name: Vicnel, Graham, Xavier, Norril.
These are the caskets of the suitors, taken from the graveyard in Westraven and brought here.
The Altar: If the players examine the altar:
Beyond the caskets is a simple stone altar, atop which rests a flickering candle at each end. There are no engravings or other indications of its being devoted to any particular divinity.
The altar provides a means for the group to commune with Rose, in order to receive assistance in the form of clues. To make Rose appear, they will need to douse all other sources of light, including the torch in the northern section, so that only these two candles burn. Also, they will need to leave the northern section vacant, gathering at the altar in the south.
If the group douses all other light but leaves the two candles burning:
Suddenly, you are alarmed by a glow from the earthen section in the other room. Turning, you see the same glowing apparition of a young girl as back on the barge.
This is Rose.
The Four Exits: Each of the four passages leads to an area corresponding to one of the suitors. In each area, the players will have an opportunity to find and retrieve one of the required bodies to fulfill the overall puzzle and improve their odds against The Witch.
As the group proceeds down any of the exit passages, proceed to the appropriate section: