This is part of a series of posts, Dungeon-A-Week, that I started a few weeks ago. This series contains short, single-level adventures that people can grab when they don’t have a lot of time and need something quick and fun to run that night.
Note that is an experiment—I have no idea if I will continue through all twenty levels or not, though I will make a serious attempt to complete this project.
In writing these adventures, I will keep the following design guidelines in mind:
- These adventures will most likely be a series of small dungeon environments. I don’t intend any of these to be event-based.
- The encounters in the adventure will be enough to provide a single level’s worth of experience points.
- Each dungeon will have a series of encounters with various numbers and types of creatures, plus one solo creature.
- Not all the encounters will necessitate a battle—the players will usually be free to choose how to deal with the monsters within the dungeon.
- Each dungeon will include one or two traps and/or hazards, separate from the monster encounters.
- Level-appropriate treasure, rolled entirely randomly, will be included.
- I will use any creature published by Wizards of the Coast and available on DnD Beyond. I will not include stat blocks—the DM will need, at the least, the Monster Manual. I will try to suggest alternate creatures from the MM in case the DM does not have access to the book in which the creature appears or access to DnD Beyond.
- I will provide very rough maps for some—but not necessarily all—of the adventures.
This week I present to you Dungeon #3: The Crypt.
- Location: This dungeon was once a crypt used by an evil noble family to inter and worship their dead. An ornate mausoleum on the surface leads, through a hidden passage, to the tunnels and rooms of the crypt underneath.
- Hook: Some item or information the PCs need—or perhaps just rumors of a magical item—lead the characters to decide to raid the crypt for treasure. Alternately, the might discover information about the long-dead noble family that indicates some members are still active (though not necessarily alive) and planning some kind of nefarious plot. Someone has to go down there and put them to rest for good.
- Complications: Parts of the crypt have collapsed, opening it up to tunnels in the earth. A group of bugbears found an entrance to the crypt from the tunnels in the underdark. They are using the west side of the crypt as their lair, and every so often they go out hunting in the underdark by existing through their tunnel.
- In addition, a small group of darklings managed to come through the summoning circle in room 13 from a weak spot in the Feywild. They have been there only a few days, and have taken refuge in room XX. They are extremely paranoid, and are trying to figure out what to do once their own provisions run out.
Key to the Crypt
The walls, floor, and ceiling of the crypt are stone blocks. This is not dwarven craftsmanship, however, and parts of the crypt have collapsed over time (including a sinkhole that caused part of the floor to drop just a couple of days before the PCs enter the crypt). The debris is a combination of broken stone and hard-packed dirt.
The mausoleum rises some 15 feet above the ground and is carved with all manner of decorations and designs. Nothing about the decorations indicates that this noble family was evil and worshipped the undead.
The inside contains a single large sarcophagus, also carved with ornate designs. The sarcophagus is sealed, though PCs can open it with crowbars and a couple of rounds of chiseling and hammering at the edges. The sarcophagus contains the bones of a long-dead member of the noble household. Surprisingly, there are no objects of value in the sarcophagus—this body was a minor member of the noble house who was placed here as a decoy.
At the base of the sarcophagus, on the side facing north, there is a small latch hidden among the carvings. Pressing the latch causes the secret trapdoor in the floor beside the north wall to open. A ladder leads down twenty feet to a small landing.
2. Stone Staircase
The landing is at the top of a 60-foot-long staircase leading down under the ground. The stone stairs are well-worn, though they are dusty and do not appear to have been used in a very long time.
3. Entry Chamber
This large chamber is 50 feet wide, 90 feet long, and the ceiling is 20 feet high. Pillars line the east and west sides of the room—they are carved in the likenesses of early heads of the noble family (not necessarily recognizable to the PCs). All the doors to this room are made of stone and are kept closed.
This chamber is also dusty. Anyone with a passive Perception score of 13 or more, or anyone taking time to search in the correct area, notices the footprints of four humanoid creatures moving from the doorway to area #5 behind the pillars and to the doorway to area #10. A Wisdom (Survival) check of DC 10 reveals that the tracks are from goblinoids, and a DC 15 reveals they are specifically bugbear tracks.
Note: These tracks were made by four bugbears, all of which are now in room 19.
4. Crypt Hallway
This hallway leads to multiple single crypt chambers. Each of the chambers holds a single sarcophagus, and each sarcophagus contains the bones of a long-dead human. Their clothing has long since rotted away.
The ceiling in the hallway and chambers is only 10 feet high.
Chambers b and d are partially collapsed. Chamber c has fully collapsed and the sarcophagus cannot be reached without many hours of digging with pickaxes, shovels and spades.
Treasure: The bodies were interred with little in the way of treasure. However, the PCs can find a silver ring worth 18 gp (room d), a gold earring shaped like a goose worth 17 gp (room e), a silver pendant worth 17 gp (room b), a gold brooch worth 16 gp (room f), and a silver ring worth 16 gp (room g).
5. Crypt Hallway
This hallway leads to more individual crypt chambers, and a few larger chambers. The chambers are identical to those in area #4, except that each sarcophagus has already been opened by the bugbears looking for treasure. In this hallway, Chamber h is the only that has partially collapsed.
The following two rooms are exceptions to the notes above.
5a. Guard Post
A pair of bugbears stays in this area to keep watch against any incursions by the undead that populate the other areas of the crypt. If the stone door from area #3 is opened, the pair of bugbears move stealthily to the junction and hide at the corner, preparing to ambush anyone who approaches.
In combat, the bugbears attempt to block the entryway. After the first round of combat, when they realize that their opponents are not undead, one of the bugbears flees to room #7a to warn (and join) the bugbears in that area.
Treasure: Each bugbear has some coins tucked into a slit in its armor. The two bugbears have 20 cp and 18 cp, respectively.
5b. Rat’s Nest
This room houses a nest of 12 giant rats, plus 21 baby giant rats (who are too young to fight). While there is no food for the rats within the crypt itself, the soft ground above has allowed them to tunnel up to the surface to forage and then return here to nest. The tunnel exits between the two halves of a split stone block, and creatures of small size or smaller can crawl up the long slope to the surface some distance away from the mausoleum.
The rats immediately swarm and attack anyone opening the door to this chamber. The rats fight to the death to protect their young.
6. “Game” Room
The walls, floor, and ceiling of this room are made from the same stone blocks as the rest of the crypt. The ceiling in this room is 20 feet high. The chamber contains four sarcophagi, already ransacked by the bugbears. A large pile of debris blocks off part of the room, with narrow gaps in the debris (not large for creatures of medium size or larger to get through). The debris piles are only 10 feet high, and can be climbed to reach the other side. The side of the piles facing the blocked-off section are smoother and cannot be climbed (which is why the skeletons haven’t climbed out).
A pair of bugbears found a pair of animated skeletons in this room, and managed to trap them behind some piles of debris. They often amuse themselves with a game they made up—each bugbear takes a turn throwing a stone at the skeletons, and where the stone hits scores a specific amount of points (for example, tossing a stone into a skeleton’s eye socket scores 3 points).
The bugbears immediately notice anyone opening the stone door in this room. As soon as either bugbear sees the PCs, it grabs a piece of stone in one of the debris piles (marked “x” on the map) and yanks it, bringing down the pile and releasing the skeletons.
The skeletons attack the closest living creature in the room. The bugbears know this and attempt to move so that the skeletons attack the PCs instead of them.
Treasure: Each bugbear has some coins tucked into a slit in its armor. The two bugbears have 13 sp and 13 gp, respectively.
7. Large Crypt Chambers
These large three rooms are connected by doorways—the stone doors have broken and fallen away, leaving them permanently open. Each of the rooms is filled with debris from the partially-collapsed walls and ceiling.
While the straight sections of the walls are unbroken stone blocks, the ragged wall sections are a mixture of broken stones and dirt. The debris piles are likewise made of broken ceiling blocks and fallen dirt from above.
The ceiling in these rooms are 20 feet high, and the debris piles go right up to the ceiling.
Three bugbears reside in these chambers, one in each chamber. They generally rest out of sight of the stone doors leading to area #5. If the stone door to a chamber is opened, the bugbear in that chamber automatically hears it (unless something is done to eliminate the loud grinding noise of the door being opened).
An alerted bugbear grabs a small stone out of the debris and throws it into the adjoining room(s), alerting the other bugbears. (The PCs have a chance to hear the clattering stones by making a Wisdom (Perception) check against DC 10.) The bugbears then stealthily move into position so that they can ambush the PCs as the party moves through the rooms.
When the first bugbear launches its surprise attack, the other two bugbears follow suit on the next round. When one of the bugbears is killed, one the remaining bugbears flees toward room #8 to alert the ettin and bring him into the fight.
Treasure: Each bugbear has some coins tucked into a slit in its armor. The three bugbears have 19 cp, 1 pp, and 2 pp, respectively.
8. Ettin’s Nest
Just over a year ago, an ettin wandered into some passages at the back of a cave she was exploring (while looking for a new home). She got lost in the underdark and, after wandering in circles for a few days, encountered the bugbear chief. The chief offered to help the ettin in return for the giant joining his band of bugbears.
The ettin is the nuclear option for the bugbears when an ambush is unsuccessful. The ettin mostly keeps to herself, but loves wading into combat and smashing the life out of some unfortunate victim.
If the ettin is alerted to the PCs’ presence by one of the bugbears, she grabs her weapons and follows the bugbear back out into area #7 and charges into the PCs (assuming they are still near where the bugbear left them).
If the ettin has not been alerted, she is resting in her room when the PCs find her. The bugbears know to knock before opening the stone door, even in an emergency. If the door is opened by the PCs without knocking, the ettin immediately grabs her weapons and attacks whoever is at the door.
The ettin fights until she is down to 20 hit points, at which time she goes on the defensive and yells for the PCs to stop. She refuses to completely surrender, offering her treasure and to “let” the PCs leave in peace, without acknowledging that she was one who lost the fight.
If the PCs battle the ettin in this room and do not close the stone door before the fight starts, the bugbear chief automatically hears the sounds battle and is alerted.
Treasure: The ettin has a pouch with 24 gp, 3 gems each worth 50 gp, a small mirror set in a painted wooden frame (worth 25 gp), and a potion of healing.
9. Bugbear Chief’s Lair
This is the private chambers of the bugbear chief. He spends all his time in this room when he is not leading the bugbears on a raid.
Note: The bugbear chief wears a set of gauntlets of ogre power, which provides him with an additional +1 to attack and damage rolls.
The chief’s bed is a pile of dirty furs, tapestries, and assorted fabrics that have been stolen from various victims over the years—they are all now too permanently soiled and stained to be of any value.
If the bugbear chief heard sounds of battle outside his room, he immediately dons his chain shirt (takes 5 minutes) and will not charge into combat until he has his armor on and his weapons in hand. If the fight is still ongoing once he is ready, he will open his door and enter the fray. If the battle sounds like it is over, he will wait in his room, ready to ambush anyone coming through the door.
The chief is a canny leader who will bargain for his life as soon as he is down to one-quarter of his hit points. He makes escalating offers of his treasure (starting with the coins and working upward) until he has successfully convinced the party not to kill him.
Treasure: The bugbear has a sack that contains his treasure—86 gp, 5 gems worth 50 gp each, a black velvet mask stitched with silver thread (worth 25 gp), a copper chalice with silver filigree (worth 25 gp), a bone scroll tube with a sleep scroll inside, 2 potions of healing, a +1 heavy crossbow with a wooden case containing 20 normal crossbow bolts, and a pearl of power. As noted above, the bugbear chief also has a pair of gauntlets of ogre power that he wears in combat.
10. Undead Guard Chamber
This chamber is the entryway into the rest of the crypt. It was used as a guard post to prevent anyone except members of the noble family from coming through here.
The ceiling in this room is 20 feet high. The tracks of the two bugbears proceed straight across the floor to the door on the opposite wall.
The ambient magic in this room had gone dormant for years due to the lack of activity. When the bugbears passed through the room, they triggered the magic wards, which “woke up” just after the bugbears had left the chamber. The guardians in this room, two skeletons and a minotaur skeleton, are once again aware of their surroundings and are ready to prevent anyone else from passing through this room in either direction.
The minotaur skeleton stands in the alcove to the northeast, one skeleton is in the alcove to the northwest, and one stands in the alcove to the southwest. When any PC steps out of the 10-foot section directly in front of the south door and into the room proper, the minotaur skeleton charges the closest PC, and then the other two skeletons advanced and attack with their weapons.
The skeletons pursue intruders until they are destroyed or the intruders are dead.
11. Main Hallway
The ground under the crypt collapsed into a sinkhole just a couple of days ago, and this has left a permanent alteration to the crypt. A sunken area crosses the hallway, the floor 5 feet lower than the rest of the hallway.
The sides are fairly easy to climb, and there is no chance the PCs will fall into the sunken area unless they have no light sources and no ability to see in the dark.
Note that both “ends” of the sunken area are blocked by tons of debris—it requires many hours of digging with pickaxes, shovels and spades to tunnel into room #17, and many days of digging to tunnel into room #19.
The tracks of the two bugbears are visible in the dust coming from room 10 up to the edge of the pit. The tracks appear again on the east side of the pit and continue along the hallway to the door of room #19.
A second set of tracks, made by four sets of small booted humanoids, comes out of the door to room #13 and stops at the west edge of the pit—these tracks are from the darklings who came from room #13 and took refuse in room #17 before the collapse of that section of the floor (see room #17 and #19 for details).
12. Large Crypt Chamber
The floor of this room is covered in human bones. Twelve sarcophagi are placed here, all seemingly intact.
Among the piles of bones, six skeletons (positions marked by “x” on the map) wait to attack anyone approaching within 5 feet of any of the sarcophagi. They rise from the piles and immediately attack the closest PC—though at least one skeleton attacks the PC who moved within 5 feet of a sarcophagus.
The skeletons attack until destroyed, and will pursue fleeing PCs out of the room.
Like the chambers in area #4, the sarcophagi contain only the bones of humans bodies, their clothing long since rotted away.
Treasure: If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 12 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 2 gp.
13. Summoning Chamber
This chamber was used by the noble family to summon creatures from the outer planes for nefarious purposes. Four sets of small, booted footprints start at the center of the summoning circle and proceed to the door, out into the hallway, and end at the west edge of the sunken pit in the hallway of area #11. These are the boot prints of the darklings that recently came through from the Feywild and hid out in room #17.
A small crack in the sunken depression—a 15-foot-deep pit in the northwest corner of the room—leads to the underdark. It is too small for any creature larger than tiny size to move through. However, the day before the PCs enter the crypt, a black pudding flows up from the underdark and stops in this chamber, enticed by the residual magical energy of the summoning circle.
The black pudding stays in the pit until anyone enters more than 5 feet into the room. The pudding them flows up out of the pit and heads straight for the nearest source of food—the PCs. The ooze follows the PCs if they try to flee, and fights to the death. The ooze pursues and attacks the closest living thing in any area.
14. Huge Crypt Chamber
This vast chamber holds almost thirty simple stone coffins, with more likely buried under the collapsed north end of the room, and a couple partially buried in the southeast section of the room. All the lids of the coffins have been pulled off, and the bones are all broken and scattered around the room.
A ghast and a ghoul got trapped in this room—there is no way to open the stone door of the crypt from the inside—many years before. They scoured the bones for any remaining marrow long ago, and have been waiting here for any chance to get free and eat.
When the PCs open the door to this chamber, both the ghast and the ghoul are curled up in the northwest and southwest corners of the room, respectively. It takes a couple of rounds for them to become fully aware from their long-dormant state. The ghoul is unable to lie in wait, and immediately leaps up to attack the closest PC. The ghast quietly scurries through the shadows between the coffins in order to get close to the party before leaping into combat.
If either creature manages to take down a PC to 0 hit points and is not in immediate danger of attack in the round it gets its next action, it starts feeding on the downed PC (forcing the PC to fail one of its death saves for each round the ghast or ghoul feeds).
Treasure: If the PCs take time to search the room, the find 27 assorted bronze, brass, and copper rings and earrings scattered on the floor amongst the bones, worth 2 sp each.
15. Den of Shadows
The stone sarcophagi in this room have not been disturbed. Two shadows were drawn here by the darkness and evil of this crypt, and have not yet overcome the powerful aura enough to leave. When the PCs enter this room, the shadows hide in the cracks in the walls and wait for the best moment to strike (i.e. when the characters are searching inside the sarcophagi).
Treasure: If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 8 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 2 gp.
16. Empty Room
This room has another 8 sarcophagi, though one has tumbled down the slope of the sunken section of floor, spilling the bones across the floor of the pit.
The floor in the northeast corner is 10 feet lower than the rest of the room. The slope is fairly steep but can be climbed easily.
Treasure: If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 8 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 2 gp.
17. Darkling Lair
This room is difficult to access, as the hallway in front of the door sunk into a 5-foot-deep pit, though the door itself is braced and is at the same height. The shifting of the ground has also warped the frame around the door, requiring a concerted effort to push open. Any characters of Strength 12 or greater can spend 2d4 rounds shoving on the door to get it open.
The four darklings that came through the summoning circle from the Feywild have taken refuge in this room. They have been trapped here in the last two days since the floor collapsed. They are confused, frightened, and ready to lash out at any threat. However, PCs who approach carefully can avoid a fight with the darklings and perhaps make allies with them.
The darklings want nothing more than to get out of the crypt and back above ground. They will not accompany the PCs to explore the rest of the crypt, and can provide information only about the summoning circle and the direct route to this room (though they walked that route before the floor sunk, so their information is out of date already).
Treasure: If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 8 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 3 gp.
18. Empty Room
This is another burial chamber. Twelve stone sarcophagi are stored here, but the room is otherwise empty.
Treasure: If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 12 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 3 gp.
19. Trapped Bugbears
The door to this room has been left open. This room is the one most affected by the sudden collapse of the floor underneath the crypt. A 15-foot-deep pit crosses the room from the northwest to the southeast corner. The sarcophagi that were here have all (but one) fallen into the pit, spilling open and scattering the bones across the floor of the pit.
Two bugbears are trapped on the ledge in the southwest corner. They were exploring the crypt with another pair of bugbears when the floor collapsed. The two other bugbears were killed by the falling sarcophagi. However, the evil aura of the crypt animated them as a pair of zombies.
The zombies have been unable to scale the south wall of the pit and reach the bugbears, so they wait in the pit until they are alerted by the sound of the characters (or the light from their torches/lanterns). When the PCs enter the room, the zombies climb up the north side of the pit (which is much shallower) and attack the PCs. The zombies fight until they are destroyed.
Once the fight breaks out between the characters and the zombies, the bugbears leap off their ledge, cross the pit, and climb back up toward the door. They attempt to break out of this room, attacking anyone who gets in their way. The bugbears only goal is to escape and get back to the other bugbears.
Treasure: Each bugbear (and bugbear zombie) has some coins tucked into a slit in its armor. The two bugbears have 9 sp and 12 gp, respectively, and the two bugbear zombies have 10 sp and 15 sp, respectively. If the PCs open the sarcophagi, they can find 12 pieces of jewelry of assorted types (rings, earrings, etc.), each piece worth 2 gp.
20. Worship Chamber
This large chamber is where the nobles worshipped their evil god of undeath. The ceiling is 40 feet high, and the platform on the left side of the room is 10 feet above the floor of the chamber. In the center of the east wall is a large blood-stained altar to the god of undeath. The entire room is decorated in unsettling carvings reflecting death in all its many forms.
Four pillars rise from the floor of the chamber on the west side of the room. These are carved to resemble the god of undeath in various poses.
When the PCs enter, a cloaked and hooded figure stands unmoving in front of the altar. This figure is a wight who has stayed in the crypt for centuries, continuing its worship of its dark god. An additional cloaked figure stands in front of each of the four pillars (marked with “x” on the map). These four figures are zombies who have not decayed into skeletons due to the aura of undeath that permeates the crypt.
None of the figures reacts to the presence of the characters until a) a PC approaches to within 10 feet of one of the figures, or b), the party attempts to climb up onto the platform. When either of these conditions are met, the zombies launch into motion towards the PCs and attempt to pummel them to death.
The wight spins and throws off its cloak, revealing its ornate leather armor and blood-encrusted sword. It immediately sizes up the party and then leaps to the attack, targeting the most tactically-important character before moving on to the next.
21. Trapped Room
This room is a large trap, used to prevent PCs from reaching the vault where the noble family’s treasure is kept.
The room’s ceiling is 15 feet high, and the walls are covered with ornate carvings that resemble an army of marching skeletons.
Trigger. The trap activates when any PC steps into the 10-foot-square in front of the falling stone door (marked with “x” on the map). The DC is 16 to find (or passively notice) the trigger plate in the floor. To find or notice the gas pipes hidden in the wall before the gas begins to flow, the check is DC 20. Once the gas begins to flow from the pipes, the DC drops to 12.
Initiative. The trap activates on initiative count 15.
Active Elements. The trap seals off the room and fills it with poison gas (which is not visible, but does have a noticeable scent).
Stone Slabs (Initiative 15). A solid stone slab slides down from the ceiling, blocking both the entrance and exit doors (marked on the map with dotted lines).
Poison Gas (Initiative 15). Six nozzles hidden among the carvings on the walls pour poison gas into the room. On the first round, the gas can be heard and smelt, but has no effect on creatures in the room. On each subsequent round, each creature inside the room must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Countermeasures. There are two main ways the trap can be overcome.
Open the Doors. Getting the doors open is the fastest way to circumvent the trap, but the stone slabs are heavy. To lift a slab high enough that characters can crawl through, a character must succeed at a DC 20 Strength check. The stone slab is wide enough that up to two additional characters can assist with this check. Unless the character(s) hold the slab, however, it drops back down into place. If the characters make three successful DC 20 Strength checks in a row, they manage to lift the slab high enough that it locks back into place and stays open. Each check takes an action. Once both doors are lifted back into place, the gas stops flowing and the trap is reset.
Block the Pipes. The flow of gas can be stopped by blocking all six pipes (locations marked with “a” on the map) with a cloak or similar object. Once blocked, someone must remain to hold the blocking object in place (unless the characters come up with a way to prevent the force of the gas from pushing the object out of the pipe). If the character block up all six pipes in the first round, they take no damage from the gas. If they start blocking the pipes after the first round, they must still make saving throws to avoid the damage for another five rounds after all the pipes are blocked. After five rounds of being blocked, the gas backs up and triggers the trap reset—the stone slabs rise into the ceiling and the gas stops flowing.
If the characters do not open either door or block the gas, the poison continues to flow into the room for 30 rounds (29 saving throws). After that time, the trap resets. If the characters manage to prop open (or lock in place) only one of the doors, the gas continues to flow for 120 rounds (the entire reservoir of gas) before it is empty.
If only the door to the vault is kept open, the vault begins to fill with the gas as well. After 10 rounds, anyone in the vault must start making saving throws to avoid taking damage from the poison gas (same DC and damage as above).
This room is where the noble family kept some of their treasure. It is obvious that this room was ransacked at some point in the distant past, and all coins, gems, jewels, and magic items have been removed.
If the party has come to this crypt for a particular item, then it is found in this vault. If the party is after information, then the vault contains a small library with histories of the family, treatises on death, unholy texts about their god, and tomes containing the information the party is searching for.
The ceiling in this room is 25 feet high, and in each of the four corners near the ceiling is a platform with a carved stone gargoyle looking down into the vault. One of the statues is an actual gargoyle that was placed here as a guardian. If anyone enters the vault who is not a member of the ancient noble family, the gargoyle attacks the interlopers.
In addition to the placed guardian, a spirit of one of the nobles still haunts the vault. On the round after the gargoyle attacks, a specter emerges through the wall behind the rearmost party member. It also seeks to slay any living members of the party.
Both the gargoyle and specter pursue the party if they flee the area—the specter stops pursuing if the party reaches daylight—and both fight until destroyed.
Here is the map for the crypt.
This was obviously a longer adventure than the previous two. As the levels go higher, it takes more encounters for a party of five characters to gain a level. Obviously, this adventure will be much more difficult for a party without a cleric (or anyone with the ability to turn undead). And it will likely take more than one or even two sessions to complete.
As usual, if you end up using this adventure, please drop a comment to let us know how it went.