Vengeance in High Forest is a one shot DnD 5e adventure for 5-6 level 3 players.
Below are the (slightly) cleaned up notes from a game that I ran recently for the one shot. There is minimal information for side activities or follow up hooks. In order to work best, replace any NPCs or fill in any gaps with information, npcs, or hooks from your own campaign!
As members of the Neverwinter Adventurer’s guild, the players are tasked with protecting, investigating, and stopping recent attacks along Evermoor Way trade route. The players are sent with other adventurers to the small town of Calling Horns, as most of the attacks have occurred along the route between the High Forest and the Evermoors.
A revenant of one of the hunted of Calling Horns has been sending creatures to attack the traders to collect the items he needs to raise the rest of the dead as skeletons. Seeking revenge on the hunt lords Noanar’s Hold, the creature has begun to corrupt the life of High Forest.
Our adventure begins three days after your arrival in Calling Horns. The adventurers have patrolled the road for the last two days, and are now spending two days in town while the rest of their contingent leave for a two day patrol.
As the morning slowly winds into mid-day, the citizens of Calling Horns meander through the market trading their wares of the day. The smells of baked goods flutter through the town, and the warmth of summer just begins to cut through the air. The sounds of wagons and bartering almost drown out the moans and growls. As the moments pass, the howling gets louder until you can make out the sound of a screaming man approaching from the road.
Stumbling through the front gate comes a man wearing rich but tattered clothes, blood streaks his chest and face. He yells incoherently, but reaches outward for help.
Dretch Attack (x3) (COMBAT- 45 Mins)
Running long? If the players eliminate 2 of the 3 Dretch’s, the third will attempt to run away back into the forest.
Calling Horns (ROLEPLAY – 30Mins)
Calling Horns is a small village along the Evermoor Way. The majority of activity revolves around the trade route and small business.
Wren Songwind – Bard who has lost his tongue to a dead creature along the caravans path. He will communicate with the players by writing quick notes, and will even attempt to touch a quill to his tongue out of habit before remembering it has been removed. In order to make the process a little faster, you can have a few pre-written notes with the information you plan to have Wren communicate.
- When adventures came to help he ran. Down the road he was chased by those hellish dogs.
- The caravan was on its way to Noanar’s hold just up the road to perform for the upcoming hunting season.
- Will give what he has left to have his tongue and voiced returned.
- The creature said it needed my voice.
Tamalin Zoar (N female Tethyrian human noble) bought the establishment and retired here. Using her hard-won wealth and influence, she attracted settlers to the region, giving rise to a small village whose citizens pay monthly “tithes” for Tamalin’s protection. Still spry at sixty, Tamalin is “the law” in Calling Horns — an irony that never ceases to amuse her. She employs nine deputies (N male and female veterans of various races) who live in the village proper to help keep the peace. Tamalin also gives free room and board to adventurers who help solve local problems. (Info originally from realms.dndpedia.com)
Tamalin arrives after the commotion of the fight as died down and will suggest seeing the Snow Crow regarding the myths of the area and the creatures that attacked the town.
The Snow Crow – The Crow is an elderly human woman with a long crooked nose that resembles a beak. She collects animal parts (feathers, claws, etc.) and plants of the High Forest and will trade ask the group to give her something in return for helping them or providing them with information regarding haunting and the lore of the forest.
She informs the players that the Dretch’s and other creatures of the forest return to life some time after being killed, and to prevent their resurrection, the adventurers can use holy water on the corpse or bury it on sanctified land.
Caravan Evermoor Trail (Roleplay/Skills 25 Mins)
A few hours down the highway where the road splits toward Noanar’s Hold, the players find the remains of the attacked traders caravan. Scattered around the torn and broken wagon is the rest of the adventuring team that was sent with the players to Calling Horns. Having a few pieces of the adventures missing can help to heighten the tension. The cleric is missing a holy symbol, a ranger is missing a hand, etc..
You can provide additional information for a group or player who is investigation focused by passing a skill checks of your choice.
- Tracks lead toward the South, and eventually into the High Forest.
- Multiple corpses look thin and frail as though the life had been sucked from the body.
- Black mold can be seen growing from the bodies and places the wagon has taken damage.
- The caravan is still stocked with food and water rations. There is plenty of valuable goods on board should someone be able to find the right buyer. The goods include stage costumes, musical instruments, fine cloths, wine, and other goods carried by a performance troupe.
- Players can piece together a disguise kit from the stage materials.
Into the Forest and Following the Tracks (Skill Checks 40 Mins)
“A thick black char like residue clings to the dead and dying trees of the thicket.“
DC 15 Dex Check to avoid falling and wind blown debris. Contact with any of the decaying matter causes 1d4 necrotic damage.
Should the players have found the tracks, or if you need to cut Noanar’s Hold due to time, the players may head directly into the forest. Following the thick dark corruption that has taken over the trees and plant, the party can find their way in the right direction using Survival, Investigation, or other applicable skills.
While making their way through the corrupted plants and not on a safe path, the players must succeed on a Dexterity Save (DC 13) or take 1d4 necrotic damage from falling foliage. Additionally, any contact with the plants as they move through the forest will cause 1d4 necrotic damage.
Suggestion: Skill Challenge – Getting passed the dying decay. The party needs a total of 5 Successes before 5 Failures. Skills can only used once, and the player should determine how they are used to help the players through the encounter.
Should the players continue to press forward and succeed, they will find the path that Garret Brenn has burned through the forest providing mostly safe travel to the Old Grove, the center of the corruption.
Noanar’s Hold (Roleplay/Skills 30 Mins)
Noanar’s Hold was a village, just off the Evermoor Way just on the edge of the High Forest, that grew up around one of the most famous hunting lodges in the North. Cottages and well-kept stables rambled between the trees. (Originally from https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com)
The town is mostly empty as the hunt lords prepare for the upcoming hunting season, but they can lodge at the White Heart Inn.
Garret Brenn – Is the only Hunt lord still in town. The rest of the lords will return soon for the upcoming hunting season. Garret has been burning parts of the forest in an attempt to save the hunting grounds from the black corruption, and can direct the party toward the heart of the corruption in the Old Grove. The burned path is relatively safe and doesn’t require dexterity saves to avoid the corruption.
- There have been noises at night. Woodland life has been encroaching closer to the lodge.
- Inside the lodge, a large map of the High Forest has been placed on the wall with markings, writings, and tracks.
- Sickly trees have been appearing around the Grand Thicket about a day into the woods. Wildlife has appeared dead and mutilated in the area surrounding it. Garret has planned to burn the dead trees to make sure the rot doesn’t spread.
- The first dead tree appeared last year, after the last hunting season.
- Offers the party a night’s stay.
Minks, a half-elf woman is tending to the stables.
- Her friend, and lodge flame-tender Roald, has been missing since the end of last hunting season. He is the individual that was killed and turned into a revenant.
- His body was not returned with the group. They said he slipped and fell while spotting in a tree. “But he knew things. I once saw him float down from the signal tower.”
- People always go missing during the hunting season. Most of the time it is hunters who get killed and they bring back the remains.
- Suggested roleplay: “I have seen him. At night some times. Just his face through the trees, but his eyes, they burned like they used to when he would stare into the fire.”
The Old Grove (Roleplay/Combat – 60 Mins)
A grove of a handful of large dead trees stands near a small pond creating the Old Grove. All that remains of the largest tree is a stump roughly 30ft tall creating a small enclosure. Light seeps out from a large opening on one side of what remains of the tree trunk. Inside the stump of the dying tree, Roald now a revenant with no shadow, prepares a summoning circle.
Inside the tree stump, the light glows green as the creature performs a ritual. Small jars are placed around the ground just inside a large ritual circle created out of glowing stones. Should the players approach, Roald’s shadow will attempt to attack them if seen. Should the players interact with Roald, he will try to convince them to leave. Should they attempt to stop his ritual, or take back the Bard’s tongue, he will attack them in rage.
Revenant: Information can be found on pg 259 of the 5e Monster Manual.
Lair Action Skeleton summoned each round at Initiative 20. Should the players destroy the summoning circle, kill Roald, or spread holy water across the ritual site this lair action will cease.
Wrap Up (Roleplay 20 Mins)
After ending the ritual and collecting Wren’s tongue, the team can return to the town and have the Snow Crow return the bards tone and voice for a simple trade. Once his voice is returned, Wren offers the team the only thing he has left which is a nice ring. The ring can be worth whatever is a good reward for your party, it can be a simple magic item, or it can be a hook or plot item for your campaign.
The party may also want to report back to the Neverwinter Adventurer’s Guild with the outcome of their quest and the fate of the other adventurer’s on the mission. This can be accomplished through providing the players a contact in the guild, or by them sending a message or letter to the guild.
A follow up to this story would be for the players to continue to investigate what is happening at Noanar’s Hold, including how Roald died that would have caused him to want revenge on the hunt lords. This can lead to the party discovering the lords are Wrights, or another mystery from your campaign.