The Skull's Request
An Adventure for Any Level
When Death is coming, some are brave, some are cowardly, and some, some are inventive...
...This is the tale of a wizard that saw his end coming, and how he prepared his final request.
OverviewThis is a simple hook with one encounter to resolve it. The PCs encounter an enchanted skull imbued with a couple of Magic Mouth style spells. The skull conveys the last request of the mage who once occupied it, promising a reward if that request is honored.
This adventure can be put into just about any large dungeon setting or hex-crawl in a place with lots of ruins.
Finding the Skull
Small chamber. Sound of dripping. Puddle of water. Bed of blue and green glowing toadstools, moss and puffballs. Skeleton lies on the far side of the pool from entrance.
NOTE: This can be put in any small room with at least a 20' x 20' space and one or two entrances. Ideally, it would be in an out-of-the way place where traffic would not have already triggered the Magic.
- The water is full of spores and tiny white crustaceans. It must be boiled or purified yo drink safely. Otherwise drinking may cause a fever.
- A given sample of the toadstools will be... Roll a die: Odd: poisonous; Even: hallucinogenic.
- The skeleton is very old. Its lower extremities have disintegrated with age and fungal decay, but the Skull remains entirely untouched.
- The Skull is under the effects of two Magic Mouth spells. A character examining the magical auras on the Skull can discern that there is no necromantic effects, just two fading illusions.
- When PCs come within 15' of the skeleton a Magic Mouth spell activates. If you wish, roll on the Magic Mouth Effect table for embellishments. Proceed to The Request
|Magic Mouth Effect
|The skeleton animates from the neck up and looks at th nearest PC, and moves its jaw as if it were speaking.
|A glowing orb of light illuminates the Skull from the inside, causing pale light to pulse out of the eyes and mouth in time with the cadence of its words.
|A phantasmal image of the wizard superimposes itself over the skeleton and speaks with facial expressions and hand gestures.
|An image of the wizard appears as a reflection of the skeleton in the pool next to it and moves as if the mage were there and alive. It replaced by the skeleton 's reflection as the water ripples in the pool.
|A ghostly ball of ignis fatuus rises from the mouth of the Skull and hovers above it. The voice comes from the flame as it flickers. When the message ends, the flame swirls into a pinpoint and vanishes.
|The wizard's face appears as a relief that grows out of the stone next to the Skull and animates to speak. When the message ends, the face sinks back into the stone.
Once the Magic Mouth activated, determine who the Skull was, what they want, what rewards they are offering, and what obstacles are in their way. You may roll 1d12 and use the same result across all the tables. Alternatively, you may wish to roll for each separately.
- Who Was the Skull? Gives a name and the details of who the skeleton was and how they dies. Use this data to compose an introduction for the Magic Mouth's monologue. Research and divination about the wizard might reveal other details mentioned above. This is discussed at length in Speaking to the Dead.
- What do they Want? Sets the goal of the adventure. This is the last request. Once the conditions of the goal are met, a second Magic Mouth activated, and tells the PCs the information promised.
- What is the Complication? Tells you about something that prevents the final request from being completed easily. Most of these came into place after the wizard died. Temples have been relocated, monsters have moved, traditions have changed, etc. The wizard was unaware of these complications when they cast Magic Mouth, and so the complications will not be mentioned.
- What Are they Offering? Describes the thing the wizard offered to the PCs. In almost all cases, it is knowledge that can be acted on easily, and conveyed or activated only with words. Sample rewards are described in Claiming the Reward.
- Once you have rolled on (or chosen from) the tables below, use the information below to come up with a monologue to present to the PCs. You might wish to use the template below:
"Hello, friend, please don't be afraid. You are in no danger. I am casting this spell as I die to beg a favor of you. My name is __________. And I am dying as _________. I am alone. I have no one here to hear my last request. Please, _________. I know that I have no right to ask this of you; that you have no reason to help me. I am dead and have little to offer you, But if you choose to honor my request I will cast a second enchantment on my... on my skull. I will tell you a secret: _________. If not, I suppose the secret goes with me to the grave. Please. Help me rest easy..."
|Who Was the Skull?
|Ifan-Alcir, A Minor Wizard from a civilization where arcane magic was common in the ruling class. He was watching the cataclysm that buried his civilization.
|Lathsaasha, a member of the serpent-blooded people that ruled over swaths of humanity until they were wiped out in an Ice Age. She was seeking a means of fleeing forward through time as extreme cold was causing her people to die of hypothermia in masses.
|Muradin Thunderchild, of the Silverhammers, a Dwarvish outcast who had run away to learn the Arcane Arts from human mentors. He was hunting cultists in the area when he was struck by a killing curse.
|Bassanta, a powerful and feared sorceress who was a crime boss in a decadent, forgotten city. She became lost after a teleportation mishap while fleeing Assassins from the City Elders, and was lost, sick, and starving.
|Mercury d'Amberville, a plane-travelling fugitive from an otherworldly mage-ruled city-state. He was banished to this plane, and died seeking a way home.
|Flind Estratha, a wizard-adventurer who got separated from her adventuring party, and was being stalked by a poison spewing monster. She was already dying from the venom when she bespelled herself.
|Podrux Gragiph, a mage obsessed with using forbidden magics from distant stars and forbidden texts. His occult experiments left him so twisted, mutated, and mad that he could no longer be in the company of normal humans. He fled here to hide what he had become. As the corruption took his body, he had a moment of clarity in which he cast the spell.
|Zeetha Bookha, a gnomish sorceress who was infected with a mummy's curse while seeking an obscure piece of arcane lore she believes was buried deeper in this region.
|Faron Mallorn, an evil necromancer and leader a Chaos cult who was slain by heroic adventurers as he was massing his forces for a raid on a nearby temple. His failing attempts to become undead allowed his fading shade to enchant his corpse before plunging into the Abyss. He will lie about this if he can. Roll a second identity to use as a lie.
|Kara Soror, a mystic who both studied magic and religion in the name of the Goddess of Destiny. She was granted a divine boon by the goddess to cast these spells posthumously. She died retrieving a stolen relic, after the thief placed a killing curse on her.
|Garrett of Blue Rock, a love-stricken apprentice wizard who chased rumors of treasure into the dungeon in hopes of getting the money to buy a fine engagement ring for his sweetheart, Lora, the Miller's daughter.
|Terrance nic'Kendra, a psychonaut who had been experimenting with varieties of hallucinogenic fungus nearby. Terrance achieved perfect Astral Projection with his new formula and traveled the Multiverse experiencing wonders. When he returned, he discovered that his body had died in his absence. He cast a few spells on it before choosing to again rise up and explore the Upper Planes.
|What do they Want?
|What is the Complication?
|To be buried in the ruins of a nearby temple.
|The place they want their skull taken is a ruin filled with poisonous spores.
|To live again, by having her skull placed in an artifact whose location they has foreseen.
|Doing as they ask will lead to the return of their people... and a terrible danger for everyone.
|To be returned to the descendants of their family and receive last rites.
|Someone finds this undertaking offensive and refuses to let you do ad the Skull asks without strong persuasion.
|To be be enshrined as a fine a work of art and their story memorialized in song.
|There are gods who will find aiding this wizard an affront.
|Revenge! Slay their murderous sister!
|They are going to anger a powerful magician by honoring this request. One who has no time - or mercy - for meddling adventurers.
|To reunite with her party by collecting mementos of the Dead and burying them together... or giving them to any survivors.
|The monsters that killed them are still lurking nearby.
|To repent! To have a terrible curse they unleashed on the world wiped away.
|Just being around this tainted body causes reality to warp and flesh to mutate.
|To have their curiosity satisfied by being donated along with the tablets of Ammun-tep in a museum.
|The object or place they need you to visit is cursed and haunted.
|To complete their journey to undeath! They tell you of a nearby cemetery that is secretly infused with terrible necromantic energies. If placed in a crypt there they will rise as a powerful wealth.
|Once you do as they ask, they will rise up and offer you a chance to aid them... or be destroyed.
|To return the relic buried near their body to the nearest temple of their goddess.
|This journey will take the PCs 3d50 miles out of their way!
|For their sweetheart to know what became of them, and then have their skull placed in the hollow of an oak tree where they had their first kiss.
|Their loved ones have been dead for 70 years now,
|To have the strange crystal formations that their arcane studies caused to form in their brain delivered to a magical order for study.
|The fate that befell them has also claimed the people they need you to approach.
|What are they offering?
|Astronomical-based directions to a library of a fallen civilization's accumulated arcane lore.
|Access to an artifact that bends time, and instruction in its use.
|A magic wand that they had entrusted to family, friends, or followers.
|The formula to a unique spell they had invented.
|Instructions on a ritual that opens a doorway to a pocket-dimension hideaway.
|The cypher for a treasure map the PCs will likely find in the process of helping them.
|Knowledge of a hidden ritual site where the PCs can meet otherworldly beings that are keen on instructing mortal wizards in eldritch secrets.
|The pass code for an account held with a local money lender. Includes 5d100 gold pieces, a strong box with a deed to a tiny shack with a dilapidated magical lab, a library, and a low level spellbook. 1 in 4 chance the shack has been ransacked.
|Only death and misery. Roll again for a suitable lie.
|The gratitude of a local religious order.
|A stash of scrolls that reveals itself at the sound of the Dead mage's voice.
|A recipe for a mind-expanding potion.
Speaking to the Dead
A smart party will want more information. Their best option is to communicate with the spirit of the wizard that left the skeleton behind. If they use a power to speak to th dead there are several questions that must be decided about how magic works in your setting.
- Each of the characters give their true names, unless they are lying, like Faron Mallorn. If the spell the PCs are using calls a spirit by its true name, then a character calling on a fake name will either get a failed spell because the name is false, or a confused spirit, because the liar gave someone else's name.
- If the spell instead targets a corpse, you must decide if the real spirit can keep up a pretext. If it can't then reward astute questions with answers that are inconsistent with the request from The Request.
- The most pressing question for a character like Lathsaasha or Faron Mallorn, or anyone whose request would mean harm to people is can The Dead lie? If they can, keep answers consistent with a false identity and full of careful half-truths or omissions.
- If a character can't lie, then the next issue is to determine if The Dead are compelled to answer truthfully. If so, PCs will realize that they can get the information needed to get the Reward just by asking. If they do this, see Cheating the Dead.
- If the characters contact a confused spirit, roll for that character on the What do they Want? Table. Answer questions truthfully based on that background and final wish. If the PCs help this spirit instead, there is no reward, but see Good Karma.
This mini-adventure is made to be quickly resolvable through one or two encounters once the Skull delivers its hook. As s general rule, you ought to tailor the obstacle to feel hard and dangerous to your players. Below are some suggestions for each obstacle based on the character rolled.
1. The place they want their skull taken is a ruin filled with poisonous spores.
Ifan-Alcir's lost city once had a lovely garden temple that was swallowed up by the Earth and now resides deep in a gorge. The rotting plants of the garden kick-started a wild ecology of creeping fungus including a form of puffball called Lantash's Rot. Those who breathe in the spores begin to hallucinate and feel a lazy euphoria. If they fail to resist, they will lay down in a patch and slowly breathe in more spores until they suffocate. Only pain can snap those affected out of the spell.
- Muradin's family has died out, and the dwarves have neglected their tombs until their bodies were saturated with yellow mold.
- Flind's party died out in a sporacle explosion.
- Podrux needs a colony of Yuggoth Fungus he set free in the world exterminated, but they are even more deadly when in bloom.
- Terrence's order has been trapped by a mycology gone wrong; the wizards live in a perpetual hallucination where they are slaves to the psychic mushrooms that now fill their monastery,
2. Doing as they ask will lead to the return of their people... and a terrible danger for everyone.
Lathsaasha will not only raise herself, but also her dead tribe of magic-wielding snake-men. They will immediately plan the enslavement of the pathetic "ape civilization" starting with the PCs. Individual snake-men are weak, especially so shortly after resurrection, and can only manage simple spells to attack the PCs. However, Lathsaasha can instantly reverse damage done to her brethren with the Artifact. Only by destroying it can she be killed again.
- While Flind loved them, her party were bloodthirsty marauders, who, when brought together, will awaken as ghosts and try to possess the PCs so they can continue their rampage.
- Slaying Mercury's sister would break the seal of the Mage-lords of House Amberville loose on the mortal realm.
- Returning the Tablet of Ammun-tep to the museum would allow the curator to open the gate and let the crazy, prank-obsessed Fire Gnomes back into the flammable world.
- Faron Mallorn's cultists wait his return, and will rise as ghouls in his service.
3. Someone finds this undertaking offensive and refuses to let you do ad the Skull asks without strong persuasion.
Muradin was a disgrace to the Silverhammers, and the shame of their warrior branch, the Thunderchilds. His obsession with magical power an embarrassment. He was disowned after his disappearance; they all assumed he'd run off and cast aside his duties to the clan. Now, his elder brother, a priest of the Forgefather, will not allow Muradin to be buried next to the father whose heart he broke.
- Bassanta wants to be made into a gold chalice by the finest artist in the country, but he finds the idea of working with human bone repugnant.
- Garrett's love is an old woman now, and her son, a tough-as-nails watchman doesn't want filthy adventurers bothering her... especially not about the old boyfriend she constantly compared his father to.
- The Temple is being excavated by a sage who will not allow the PCs to go traipsing through his dig site and adding bones that "Don't belong."
- A Paladin guards the crypt Faron wishes to be taken to.
4. There are gods who will find raiding this wizard an affront.
Bassanta was a blasphemer and criminal who abides justly in the Hell of her gods. Though they are weak and almost forgotten, the deities of Lantash will send a holy assassin to destroy the Skull once and for all.
- Lathsaasha's people nearly destroyed humankind in their hubris 30,000 years ago, and must never be allowed to walk the Earth again. The Artifact will be protected by a holy beast and a wise hermit, both will do their best to deter the PCs from their path
- Clerics of the Forgefather refuse to perform last rites on Muradin unless a quest is performed to undo his greatest sin.
- Zeetha' s quest failed because it was ment to. The Lady of Cats curses anywho dare disturb Amun-tep's tomb, and demands both penance and sacrifice to lift it.
- Burying Garrett's skull in an Oak tree blasphemes against the Crypt Mother... her priestesses will steal the Skull rather than see such a pagan burial take place.
5. They are going to anger a powerful magician by honoring this request. One who has no time - or mercy - for meddling adventurers.
Mercury's sister is no pampered noblewoman, she is a deadly planes-walking sorceress with demons at her command. Killing her is no easy task.
- Terrance had a rival that stole credit for his work. If Terrence's brain reaches the Thanaterisian Mystics, the plagiarism will be revealed for sure!
- Even dead Ammun-Tep is a powerful wizard, and breaching his crypt to put Zeetha to rest will wake him from his slumber.
- The relic Kara carried grants visions that Angmar the Great sought, his minion failed him, now he will take it for himself.
6. The monsters that killed them are still lurking nearby.
The creature that killed Flind may be long dead, but its spawn are not. These creatures resemble child-sized frilled lizards whose venom causes a victim's muscles to cramp up, leaving them progressively more stiff, slow and clumsy, eventually leading to paralysis and asphyxia. Even those who recover often suffer nerve damage.
- Lathsaasha was killed by cold and time, and those two elements are embodied in an elemental that embodies time distortions itself, which guards the Artifact from her.
- Podrux is not wholly dead. Parts of him have spawned into slithering tentacled horrors that go mad when they sense his body has been disturbed.
- The heroes that killed Faron are still keeping a vigil as eternal guardians, they will not allow his skull to leave its resting place.
7. Just being around this tainted body causes reality to warp and flesh to mutate.
Magic warps and corrupts. As the characters travel with the skull, they find that they, and their company grow stranger. Eventually a hireling or mount turns into something... Other... that tries to kill them, and judging by the strange impulses they feel, one of them could be next.
- Ifan-Alcir's skull carries an aura of despair that leaves the PCs increasingly more distracted and vulnerable as they carry it.
- The bearer of Faron's skull sees dead people everywhere.
- The weird vibes from Terrence's crystal-filled skull cause the spellcasters of the part to begin having visions from beyond space and time - often when they are trying to cast a spell.
8. The object or place they need you to visit is cursed and haunted.
The crypt of Ammun-Tep carries numerous curses on it, but the most subtle of them is a simple one: the undead form of Ammun-Tep himself can continue to stalk your footsteps until he is put to rest.
- After his death, Garrett's home, and his loved one fell under a pall of dark magic - most blame Garrett himself, but something else is at work here.
- The temple where Kara's relic must be placed has no living priests within. Holy guardians test your resolve as you enter this sacred space.
- Mercury's Sister knows that she is a marked woman, and has bound many dead to serve her.
9. Once you do as they ask, they will rise up and offer you a chance to aid them... or be destroyed.
Faron's gratitude is a cold comfort. He might normally destroy heroes so resolute and strong enough to bring him to the cauldron of his rebirth; if they are good enough to revive him they are a threat. But he would rather they serve as his allies - forever. If they say "No.", well, their corpses can serve just as well. Faron has become a powerful wraith-like being capable of casting most of the spells he knew in life.
- Lathsaasha has need of servants to help nurse her resurrected snake men to health and information on the last 30,000 years before she can decide how to best rule.
- Zeetha sought the secrets of Ammun-Tep as a means to avenge herself on her enemies. Now they must fall, and you can join her, or stand in her way: there is no other choices.
- Garrett cannot rest: his love has died long ago, and can never have closure. While the PCs have found a way to gain his hidden scrolls, they find their business is not done, as they receive a pleading letter a few weeks later saying that Garrett has returned as a spectre that haunts the oak tree.
10. This journey will take the PCs 3d50 miles out of their way!
The temple Kara sought burned down long ago... but there is another a few days away. The voyage is not easy, but do you dare snub the goddess of Destiny?
- Other Suggestions:
- The very land-masses have shifted and swallowed sites whole. Ifan-Alcir's temple is now buried far from his body across miles of underdark tunnels.
- A cemetery where the dead walk has driven all civilized races far away. Now the graveyard Faron seeks is in the heart of a tangled, haunted wood that could take weeks to navigate.
- The Thanaterisian Order that might be able to make sense of the crystals in Terrence's skull study in a tower on a mountain peak.
11. Their loved ones have been dead for 70 years now.
Garrett had no idea how much time would pass until his body would be recovered. He only wanted to say goodbye. But his love is long dead now. Can her spirit be raised to reunite with his? Or can the PCs honor him as best they can and find another way to find his reward?
- Terrence's order is long gone due to their own mad experiments. Only a lone apprentice remains to take the skull, if he can be found.
- There is no museum for the Tablet of Ammun-Tep... unless the PCs build one.
- Kara was a faithful of a religion that is now dying. Her god has been forgotten by the people and her priests are few. This relic could mean a lot for their salvation... but a madman hopes to destroy it so he can "kill" a god.
- Mercury's sister died some time ago. She has her own revenge to extract, and her "hiding place" is a magical deathtrap.
12. The fate that befell them has also claimed the people they need you to approach.
Terrence's order of wizards long ago rejected material pursuits in favor of seeking true knowledge of the cosmos. Drugs designed to improve their magical abilities unmoored their minds from their bodies, and now they drift on the Astral Seas, leaving behind a monastery of bodies in suspended animation and magic gone amok. Finding a way to wake the magi may be difficult.
- Faron believes his cult waits for him. He is wrong: his cult has long ago been jailed. No one is coming to perform the rites to raise him.
- There is no one left from Podrux's life who remembers him as anything other than the monster that stalked the caves nearby. Who then, will hear his final apology?
- There is no one left who possesses the art to turn Bassanta's skull into a golden bust among the local humans.
Claiming the Reward
If the PCs manage to meet the conditions of the final request, the second Magic Mouth spell will trigger, having the character say a deep thanks, and then offer instructions on how to claim the reward. Here are some examples for the results on the table:
1. Astronomical-based directions to a library of a fallen civilization's accumulated arcane lore.
Ifan-Alcir thanks the PCs and then tells them the location of the Library of the Alari, by telling them a date and time to stand at the peak of a low mountain and then to orient themselves by several constellations until they come to a particular cove, then three days later, to use another star to orient themselves to a range of hills. If they follow the star, they will find the ruin. This ruin could be plotted out as a five-room dungeon, or just be a single location with a few surviving buried tomes that could make either for an excellent wizard's library, or sold to a sage for a few hundred coins.
2. Access to an artifact that bends time, and instruction in its use.
Lathsaasha directs the PCs to the heart of a swamp shunned by most intelligent beings. At its heart is the relic, The Temporal Engine (see below). Once her skull is in sight of the engine, she compliments them on their wisdom, and instructs them to set her skull beneath the engine and how to activate it, claiming she will "speak through time" to explain the rest. Once activated, it brings her back to life, allowing her to speak directly to the PCs.
The Temporal EngineThis bizarre device resembles a cluster of clockwork dragonflies about a set of rails arranged around a gearbox and array of crystals.
Power: This device can reverse decay in an object, returning it to previous states, including restoring the dead from mere fragments of bodies, rejuvenating someone by decades, restoring destroyed magic items, or reconstructing whole buildings. It can also put creatures into temporal stasis, or launch someone forward through time up to 1,000 years.
Cost: Meddling with time is dangerous! Each time it is used, roll 1d6 for a side effect: 1. The user is aged 1d100% of their natural lifespan, possibly decaying into dust if they age past their age of death; 2. Cause a bubble of dilated time: while only the round it took to activate the device has occurred to everyone within a 100' bubble, outside 5d12 months have passed; 3. One of the user's possessions decays to dust; 4. One of the user's limbs either to uselessness; 5. Time slows for just the user, they may not act for three rounds, and fail saving throws automatically; 6. Plant grow wildly, entangling everyone nearby, breaking walls, burying loose objects, and potentially causing cave-in.
Note: Lathsaasha is immune to aging and withering effects from the engine.
3. A magic wand that they had entrusted to family, friends, or followers.
Muradin's family has locked away many of the things he left behind. After last rites are performed by a Dwarf Priest in the presence of a member of the Silverhammer clan, his Skull will solemnly ask that the wand he left with the clan be given to the PCs. It will be delivered to them shortly thereafter by one of Muradin's family. The wand is truly the work of a dwarf mage:
Muradin's WandThis stout brass rod ends in a tiny black iron device that looks like a furnace. When activated the device glows, smokes, and roars like a blast furnace.
Powers: Three times per day, when aimed at an area of stone or dirt up to a 10' cube, the wand causes all of a named metallic ore in the area to melt, run out of the target area, become refined, and take a shape (such as an ingot).
If the necessary components are available, a character with some knowledge of metallurgy can produce an alloy. Alloys that require non-metallic elements, such as steel and aluminium cannot be made. For a shape to be ornamental, the character must have training in sculpting of smithing. Items requiring multiple kinds of metal (like sword blades) cannot be made. If large amounts of ore is extracted ,the area can be reduced to gravel or become unstable.
4. The formula to a unique spell they had invented.
Bassanta will happily whisper the incantation and necessary arcana for a wizard to learn her unique spell. One she used to help her make powerful impressions.
Bassanta's Glamer: This spell cleanses, scrubs, coifs, perfumes, and gives a burst of lively energy that makes the target as attractive as they can be. It also cleanses, mends, and polishes clothing and possessions. The character has an advantage in almost all social dealings while the spells effects are fresh for 1d4 hours,
5. Instructions on a ritual that opens a doorway to a pocket-dimension hideaway.
Once his sister lies dead, Mercury describes accurately a ritual that anyone, spellcaster or not, can perform that opens a door into a secure demiplane. The space is laid out like a tiny cottage with less than 500' square of floor space, and no windows. The air in it is fresh, and it is slightly cooler than room temperature. It has a tiny stove, a pile of wood, a cot, a chair, and a cupboard of rotten food. Some pots and pans sit stacked in a brass washbasin, and there is a cauldron of rainwater.
Casting the rite conjures a door that is visible to anyone, and must be locked and barred for safety so long as the spell lasts. It must be dismissed before the door may be conjured elsewhere. Conjuring also requires an amount of rarified herbs and resins be burnt that, while not expensive, are hard to obtain in great quantities. The ritual takes an hour to cast.
6. The Cypher for a treasure map the PCs will likely find in the process of helping them.
Flind's first Magic Mouth will mention that her party stashed a sizable treasure, and that the party's priestess carried a map, while the fighter carried a chest key, and only she knew the cypher to read the map. As they seek her lost allies, they will doubtless find the map, and when all of her allies are together, living or dead, she will explain the cypher, which will indeed let them interpret the map to find a treasure cache.
7. Knowledge of a hidden ritual site where the PCs can meet otherworldly beings that are keen on instructing mortal wizards in eldritch secrets.
Podrux learned much from a strange eternal being that slumbers beneath an old ruin on a hilltop not far from the PC's home. Music played on a bone flute by the well there will wake it, and it will begin to mutter, those that listen and maintain their sanity can learn all sorts of forbidden lore. In time the muttering thing will ask for offerings to be cast down the well, and offer greater knowledge in return... Eventually its appetites will turn to living things in exchange for spells and rituals.
8. The pass code for an account held with a local money lender. Includes 5d100 gold pieces, a strong box with a deed to a tiny shack with a dilapidated magical lab, a library, and a low level spellbook.
Zeetha Bookha was no fool. She kept her gold in property and carefully saved with moneylenders and clerical orders that could be trusted to keep her possessions. While many will not give her goods to a stranger, some moneylender only require the combination of a name, number, and password. Zeetha left her tiny (gnome-scale) cottage and some funds with them. There is a in 4 chance that the cottage has been looted, however. If not, an old spellbook with a few spells in it is tucked under the bed.
9. Only death and misery. Roll again for a suitable lie.
Faron has no intention of rewarding the PCs. He has lied. When they place his skull in the unholy crypt, he will rise again to kill them.
10. The gratitude of a local religious order.
The fate of Kara, and the relic were a mystery that the church of her goddess will be glad to solve. In return for their noble deed, they will offer the PCs powerful healing or divination in return.
11. A stash of scrolls that reveals itself at the sound of the Dead mage's voice.
Garrett hid a set of scrolls in an old stone wall that runs along the edge of town near the oak tree where he wishes to be interred. He enchanted the box he hid it in to shrink small enough to fit in a crack until he speaks a command word. The last thing he says when thanking them is "Garrett loves Lora," at which point the box will return to full size, causing some stones on th wall to clatter to the ground as it displaces them. Inside is a trio of low-level spell scrolls.
12. A recipe for a mind-expanding potion.
Terrence developed many mushroom-based potions meant to free and expand the mind. This one is made from simple forest mushrooms, but is potent... When used in moderation.
Terrence nic'Kendra's Strange BrewA cloudy white liqueur with mushroom bits floating in it.
Powers: When consumed, this potion sends its drinker into a trance. While in this trance, their mind steps out of their body and wanders as an invisible and incorporeal projection for 1d4 x10 minutes. They cannot cast spells or interact with corporeal beings. While projecting, the drinker feels euphoric and peaceful. They can become easily addicted to this feeling.
Good KarmaFulfilling the final request of a stranger - even one long dead should be acknowledged beyond the reward left by the dead wizard. Depending on your system, Inspiration, Hero Coins, Luck, or a minor Blessing might also be rewarded to characters who go out of their way to fulfill the Skull's request... even if they turn out to be evil.
Cheating the DeadClever players can probably find a way to get the reward without having to complete the request. If a spell that allows a character to speak with the dead compels them to be truthful, simply demanding "What was the content of the second Magic Mouth spell you cast on your own skull?" would be enough to bypass the need to fulfill the final wish.
If player characters make an effort to get the reward without fulfilling the request, consider their alignment (if they have one), and how their religion views the sanctity of corpses and final wishes. How might this affect their connection to their deity, their reputation with Outsiders, or their Luck?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Glowing Skull image by "The Digital Artist" is licensed under the Pixabay license.
Glowing Skull image by "The Digital Artist" is licensed under the Pixabay license.