Dragon Peak: Trial of Moonlight (Level 5)

Trial of Moonlight
Level Map
The stairs up from the Trial of Fire end at the now-expected landing with white onyx inlaid in the floor spelling out "Trial Of Moonlight" in Draconic. The archway opens onto an endless plain of skulls and bones under a starless twilight sky. Gravestones, tombs, sarcophagi, and menhirs commemorate the endless dead, sticking up through the pile of bones seemingly at random. Ghosts flicker their way through the air in the foreground above wandering skeletons and zombies, as black dragons circle in the distance. Sharp-eyed characters will notice a huge red-skinned demon with a goat skull and bat wings (Orcus) in the distance, walking around and raising undead from the ground.

Anyone entering the chamber through the arch will immediately draw the attention of the skeletons, zombies, and ghosts in the area. Occasional blasts of black dragon breath will raise more undead from the ground, as will area effect spells and any ranged attacks which miss their mark. Character can easily avoid the slower undead, but the ghosts will taunt anyone with demoralizing speech in their native tongue, inciting feelings of dread and hopelessness and causing 2d8 psychic damage every round to anyone in the chamber unless characters succeed on a Charisma saving throw (DC 14) to negate the damage.

Attacking the skeletons and zombies will destroy them in a single hit, but new ones will rise out of the ground next round. Attacking the ghosts or attempting to turn undead will make them stronger, adding +1d8 to their psychic damage per round for anyone who attacks them. The additional damage dice will stack every round the character attacks up to a maximum of 5d8 psychic damage per round.

Listening carefully to the ghosts' taunts or engaging them in conversation will alert the characters that they fear fading into nothingness and want nothing more than some semblance of flesh back. This idea may take several attempts to convey, but some of their taunts will include things like "Your flesh decays if you remain, and you will haunt this place forever, formless like us!" or "Give me your warmth you pathetic example of a hero!"

Each ghost will cease its taunting when they receive even a single point of healing. This may lessen the psychic damage per round. It's up to you how many ghosts exist in this chamber (I envisioned a couple dozen) and how challenging they are to heal. I would allow a healing potion splashed into a crowd of ghosts to heal everyone in that group, but you can tailor this challenge to the amount of healing and mass healing that your players are capable of providing.

Once all the ghosts have been neutralized with healing, the illusion will fade. Instead of exposing an archway with stairs, this chamber empties to reveal five small channels cut into the wall going around the entire room. This chamber becomes the Final Puzzle, only resetting the Trial of Moonlight after standing empty for 5 minutes.

My original notes for this chamber:

This 60’ diameter space is filled with gravestones, tombs, and menhirs in eternal twilight. A crescent moon barely shines overhead as skeletal black dragons breathe acid and Orcus walks in the distance. Ghosts taunt and cause hopelessness. Heal them or grant them temporary HP to make them physical and set them free.

Things that evolved during play:

  • If you want to spice things up, mix in some other undead. I had a black dragon breath create a mummy. Our sorcerer destroyed it with a firebolt, which caused a ghost to rise out of the ruined body. An example of the circle of undeath, if you will.
  • Our cleric tried to open the sarcophagus and get in, intent on trying to sacrifice herself as her martyr god would want. I ruled that the sarcophagus was a solid slab and couldn't be opened, though I'm rethinking that call with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Her Twilight Sanctuary use of Channel Divinity perfectly filled the room (by design). She just had to adjust and treat all of the ghosts as allies to grant them all temporary hit points and solve the trial.

Part of T.W.Wombat's Lore 24 project, detailing the world around Fellport.
For all city posts, see the Fellport Index. For posts about the wider world, see the Beneterra Index.

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