Recommended levels 2-3
The planet Mortaris is part of a trinary solar system in remote part of the galaxy. Two of the system's suns are warm and vibrant, giving life to the planet's tropical ecosystem full of reptilian life. The third sun however, is dying. When the dark star is dominant in Mortaris' sky, the planet is bathed in an eerie light with strange magical properties.
This phenomenon has given rise to powerful necromancers throughout the planet's history and attracted the attention of many more since the advent of space travel. Recently, Mortaris' tourism industry has taken off, and the locals do their best to promote their tropical resorts and downplay the planet's unsavory past.
1- Pool Party
The adventurers are enjoying some well deserved vacation time at the Breezy Bay Beach resort on Mortaris. The hotel is run by local Mortarians, who are small lizard-like humanoids with colorful neck frills.
While relaxing at the resort pool and enjoying tropical drinks, the adventurers may notice a crashing noise coming from the nearby jungle. Soon, a large decaying jungle beast breaks through the resort fence and smashes into the poolside bar. The creature is a Skink-ape; a striped reptilian creature with a broad chest and long muscular arms.
Undead Skink-Ape CR 2 XP 600
CE Medium undead
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +7
EAC 13; KAC 15 Fort +6; Ref +4; Will +1
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee slam +7 (1d6+8 B)
Str +4; Dex +2; Con -; Int +0; Wis +1; Cha +0
Acrobatics +7, Athletics +12, Survival +7
After defeating the monster the adventurers are approached by the frantic resort manager Mr. Pabl, a portly Mortarian with a bright yellow frill. He begs the party to investigate the jungle and find the source of the trouble.
If pressed he admits there have been sightings of undead nearby and an unpleasant smell when wind blows from the east. Mr. Pabl gives the party the number for his communication unit and offers them a luxury time share if they can save the resort.
2- The Necromancer's Totem
The adventurers travel into the jungle, heading east and following the undead beast's tracks or the ever present rotting smell. As they head inland the smell intensifies and the jungle foliage becomes more and more decayed. The chattering of jungle animals grows quiet. Overhead, ghostly winged reptiles silently float between blackened branches.
Soon the party finds themselves in a clearing with metallic totem pole in the center. Adventurers sensitive to magic can feel waves of dark energy pulsing from the totem. Three alien skulls are carved into the front of the pole: The top skull is grinning, the center skull appears calm and the lower skull is screaming.
On the backside of the totem pole is a sealed door leading to area 3. On the door is an ancient computer display showing a map of the jungle and icons of each skull. The display shows the calm skull icon in area 4, the screaming skull in area 5 and the grinning skull in area 6.
When touched the display reads in Old Mortatian; "ACTIVATE BEACONS IN CORRECT SEQUENCE FOR ACCESS" followed by "BIRTH IS PAIN, LIFE IS ACCEPTANCE, DEATH IS JOY". Adventurers with knowledge of linguistics or appropriate software can decode this message. Mr. Pabl can also give a rough translation, but doesn't understand the third line.
To unlock the door the adventurers must travel to each beacon and activate them in order from bottom to top, as hinted at in the inscription on the pole. Inputting the wrong sequence resets the beacons and displays the message, "INCORRECT SEQUENCE".
3- Smiling Skull Beacon
As the adventurers follow the path south from the totem, they may notice a few undead monkey-lizards swinging through the canopy. These curious creature follow along with the party, but over time, the monkey-lizards grow in number.
If attacked before the party reaches the beacon, the monkey-lizard troop will disperse. If left alone, the swarm jumps the party after they turn on the smiling skull beacon, emboldened by the pulsing of dark energy. Five of the rotten monkey-lizards claw at the adventurer's gear, attempting to carry off anything shiny and interesting.
Monkey Lizard (5) CR 1/3 XP135
CN Tiny undead
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3
EAC 10; KAC 11 Fort +2; Ref +0; Will +2
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee claws +2 (1d4+1 S)
Str +1; Dex +3; Con -; Int +0; Wis +0; Cha +0
Acrobatics +7, Athletics +7, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +3, Survival +3
Steal (Ex) If the monkey-lizard's attack roll successfully hits the target's KAC + 4, the creature also automatically steals an item from the target.
4- Calm Skull Beacon
Following the map display on the totem door, the adventurers can follow a path to the north to the calm skull beacon. As they follow the path, the rotting canopy overhead grows thicker, blocking out all natural light. The air grows incredibly humid and the rotting smell of the jungle becomes disturbingly sweet.
Large sickly yellow flowers glow faintly ahead, dangling above the path. As the party draws closer, they may notice a large animal corpse suspended in vines from which the flowers sprout. The flowers hiss and retract into the corpse while exposed to bright light. In darkness and dim light they emerge to attack, hoping to burrow into fresh flesh and find a new host.
Corpse Orchid Hazard
Notice- DC 15 Perception
Disable- Sustained Bright Light
Attack- +12 to hit, 4d6 piercing damage
Trigger- When creatures pass underneath the flowers
Eventually the jungle thins out and the adventurers find themselves in a small clearing with a squat metallic cylinder decorated with a calm skull. An access panel in the back allows the beacon to be switched on. Once activated, the beacon pulses with dark energy and the eyes of the skull glow blue.
5- Screaming Skull Beacon
The path to the east of the totem leads to the screaming skull beacon. As the adventurers travel towards the beacon, they hear the sound of gurgling water. Soon they find themselves at the bank of a murky, sluggish river, with the bones of a huge aquatic reptile creating a make shift bridge. Crossing over on the way to the beacon is slippery but otherwise unremarkable.
After crossing , the path leads to a clearing with the screaming skull beacon. Once activated, the beacon pulses with foul energy and the eyes of the skull carved on the beacon glow red. Unfortunately this energy animates the skeletal beast in the river, which attacks the adventurers on the way back.
Skelasmosaurus CR 3 XP 800
NE Huge Skeletal undead (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +8
EAC 14; KAC 16 Fort +7; Ref +5; Will +2
Defensive abilities: ferocity, Undead immunities
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +11 (1d6+7 B)
Str +4; Dex +2; Con -; Int -3; Wis +1; Cha +0
Athletics +13, Intimidate +8, Stealth +13, Survival +8
Ferocity (Ex) When the creature is brought to 0 Hit Points, it can fight for one more round instead of immediately dying at 0 HP.
Frightful Presence (Ex Or Su) Activate as part of a move or standard action. Range 30' DC will save or become shaken for 2d6 rounds. Can only affect opponents once per 24 hours.
6- Under the Totem Pole
The door in the back of the totem pole opens to an elevator which can take the party down to a chamber beneath. This room is full of ancient technology, the walls are covered in computer displays and input panels. Most of the screens glow with symbols and iconography representing necromantic rituals.
In the center of the room is a console with a pale brain housed in purple fluid. This is the brain of an ancient Mortarian necromancer named Limbil, who created the totem apparatus to convert the jungle island into a necromantic ecosystem. After several centuries, she has finally collected enough energy from the dying sun to start the undead conversion process.
When the adventurers enter, Limblim communicates with them telepathically. She initially assumes that the party are the descendants of her cult followers, who were charged with protecting the area from prying eyes. Her cult is long gone, and if informed of this she becomes distraught. She offers the party powerful necromantic secrets if they leave her experiment undisturbed. The party can shut down the totem from the computer console or by destroying Limblim's undead brain.