5E Aboleth adventure for lvl 1-10 - my setup.

Nickolaidas

Explorer
TERROR FROM THE DEEP


An Aboleth is freed by a Mind Flayer party and their Kuo-toa slaves. It seeks vengeance against Melora [Goddess of the Wilderness and the Sea] and her worshippers' descendants for imprisoning it ages ago. It begins to grow a cult of shrewd fanatics and plots a way to make the people of the town of Nestell reject Melora and worship it instead, referring to itself as 'The Deep One' (hiding the fact it's an Aboleth).


The Aboleth has its Mind Flayer lieutenants murder the chief Priest of Melora, then replaces her with a doppleganger. Then, it has its pawn slowly destroy Melora's clergy - in both social image and organization via various ways. All the while trying to make the church of Melora appear incompetent, manipulative and demanding, with the chief-priest subtly enforcing these aspects. The Aboleth cannot grant spells, so it tries to have its 'church' portray it as a spiritual way of thinking, rather than a true deity.


So, the adventure begins with a priest of the Deep One coming to the PCs and asking their help in locating the antidote for a plague that has appeared in the city, a plague the clerics of Melora have difficulty curing. They (the Deep One's priests) had sent a group of their own clergy to retrieve it, but they never returned. They seek brave adventurers to locate the missing group, and their cargo.


However, it's all a set-up by the Aboleth.


The PCs go to a cave and find the 'group' (which are dead Melora clerics with their bodies dressed as Deep One's clerics), and a fake note which implies they were slain by Melora's clerics (framing the doppleganger's second in command, who is unaware of his superior's true nature). The note also says that they hid the antidote in order to 'keep it safe' from Melora's 'evil hands' (while actually they had the antidote made all along and merely hid it there for the PCs to find). The PCs present the evidence to the doppleganger, effectively giving him the authority to disband and imprison his second in command (who shouts that he was framed every step of the way). The townsfolk are displeased with Melora's clergy's actions and praise the Deep One's clergy.


A couple of weeks later, orcs attack the town. As the PCs go to their settlement for a (perhaps not so) diplomatic solution, they learn that a 'cleric of Melora' (who was a minion of the Aboleth in disguise) gave them poisoned food and has the orcs' chieftain's son on his death bed. As they present the evidence to Nestell, the (doppleganger) chief priest says that due to the plague, he wanted to make sure the orcs wouldn't threaten them in their weakened current state and thought it was prudent to poison the orc chieftain's family to disable them. As the orcs wage war to the city, a priest of the Deep One asks the PCs to give an antidote to the Orc Chieftain's son. The orcs either back down or are defeated with mass combat (depending on the PCs' approach). But in either case, the people of the city are seriously displeased with Melora's Church's actions thus far, and think even higher of the Deep One's clergy.


Realizing that their worshippers are slipping away, the Doppleganger asks the PCs to find an artifact which will help them raise the dead and improve the church's standing with the citizens, only to have the PCs bring an artifact which raises the recently slain as zombies, skeletons and other undead horrors. The PCs and the Depp One's clergy help the town guard fight off the undead horrors, while the doppleganger disappears, leaving a note which basically says he wanted to kill all the people of this town because Melora wished it so (basically the final nail to the Melora's coffin). This causes the people of the town to witch-hunt all remaining Melora clerics while the Deep One's clergy becomes the dominant religion of the town.


At this point, there are subtle clues which might hint at the PCs that the Deep One's clerics aren't as nice as they portray themselves to be. If they figure it out, they can go to their temple (or maybe chased out of the city if the Deep One's clergy frames them for unleashing the undead - depending on the PCs standing with them), find a hidden entrance and venture underground to the Aboleth's lair, killing it in a final confrontation, alongside with its Mind Flayer minions and Kuo Toa slaves. If they fail to discover what happened, the adventure ends happily with the Deep One's clergy thanking the PCs for their valuable help in 'saving this city from its vile god'.


What do you guys think? Does it have potential?
 

transtemporal

Explorer
It kinda seems like you're gonna be railroading the PCs a lot, or explaining away things (like why everyone carries explanatory incriminating notes on their person).

For example, in the first scene the Deep One cultists fake a battle scene. Or its a real battle scene and they dress the dead clerics in-situ. I've never dressed a dead person before, but I imagine its bloody difficult since they would have to pre-soil the Deep One robes (to emulate the evacuation of the bowels) then dress an uncooperative dead body without getting crap everywhere - that's if they even think to do that.

Also, are the Cultists spellcasters themselves? If not, do they remember the little details? Holy symbols, component pouches, favored weapons. Do they perfectly remove everything that might've identified them as Meloran?

The PCs could reasonably figure this out, especially if there's a Ranger or someone trained in Investigation.
 

Nickolaidas

Explorer
It kinda seems like you're gonna be railroading the PCs a lot, or explaining away things (like why everyone carries explanatory incriminating notes on their person).

For example, in the first scene the Deep One cultists fake a battle scene. Or its a real battle scene and they dress the dead clerics in-situ. I've never dressed a dead person before, but I imagine its bloody difficult since they would have to pre-soil the Deep One robes (to emulate the evacuation of the bowels) then dress an uncooperative dead body without getting crap everywhere - that's if they even think to do that.

Also, are the Cultists spellcasters themselves? If not, do they remember the little details? Holy symbols, component pouches, favored weapons. Do they perfectly remove everything that might've identified them as Meloran?

The PCs could reasonably figure this out, especially if there's a Ranger or someone trained in Investigation.
The Deep One's Clerics could have poisoned Melora's clerics (or could just have killed them in a way which leaves no wounds), dress them up as clerics of their own faith (removing Melora's holy symbols and placing their own faith's) and THEN hack them, pierce them, bludgeon them apart, making the clothes tear look completely natural.

However, a successful investigation check (with a relatively high DC) could reveal that the bodies have, besides the wounds, strangulation marks on their necks. Identifying the wounds as post-mortem is exceptionally difficult in my mind, since the wounds are caused relatively close to the time of death, and the PCs are not forensic experts - they're monster hunters, basically.

Actually, I'm planning on giving the adventure the choice to join the Aboleth's cult if the PCs figure it out at any point of the story, considering the fact the particular PCs are not do-gooders, but rather, calculating opportunists. But yeah, it's not a sandbox adventure, it's basically linear.

Thanks for the feedback though!
 
Main issue is 'the deep one'...too many PCs will hear that and have their lovecraft bells go off and be distrustful from the get go.

Consider renaming, in the spirit of presenting his 'priests' as devotees of a spiritual path rather than a religion...monks, more like Dalai Lama, softly spoken and kindly, only showing true venom in combat (eg enemy at 0HP, stamp on neck Bruce Lee style.

Maybe they are followers of the Deep and Ancient Path to Inner Peace?
 

Nickolaidas

Explorer
Main issue is 'the deep one'...too many PCs will hear that and have their lovecraft bells go off and be distrustful from the get go.

Consider renaming, in the spirit of presenting his 'priests' as devotees of a spiritual path rather than a religion...monks, more like Dalai Lama, softly spoken and kindly, only showing true venom in combat (eg enemy at 0HP, stamp on neck Bruce Lee style.

Maybe they are followers of the Deep and Ancient Path to Inner Peace?
Hmm, you're right. And the adventure being called 'Terror from the Deep' doesn't help either. Yeah, I'll change the name, good call.

Thanks!
 

Nickolaidas

Explorer
I thought about what Transtemporal said about railroading the PCs, and I thought it over. I decided that I'll have the town's ruler ask the PCs help in saving a VIP from the cult. When the PCs find the Cultists who have the VIP (boss fight), and when it looks they're about to win, one of the last standing Cultists will plead them to spare him and help him deliver the VIP to the Deep One, and in exchange his master will offer them a far greater compensation than the town's ruler ever would.

This essentially will give the PCs the ability to play the adventure from an evil perspective, with the Aboleth giving them quests that will eventually destroy the city. If the PCs refuse the Cultist's plea and kill him, the town's ruler (or the church of Melora) will keep giving them quests which will eventually lead them to the Aboleth and have them kill it and save the city. OR, the PCs will swing both ways, help each side whenever is convenient, and in the end, get the city for themselves, kill the ruler *and* the Aboleth.

I think this is less railroad-y, and can work much better than my original draft. For example, one of the Aboleth's quests will be to have the PCs help the doppleganger infiltrate the Church of Melora and kill its leader in order to take its place and ensure the church's eventual downfall.
 

Advertisement

Top