And once you're done with that, we pick up now with part 2.
The Silence of Mothvale: Part 2 -- Death Toll
When the party continues down the road, either immediately after discovering the tracks, or after investigating where those tracks led, they continue for only another mile or two before coming to the edge of town. A large wooden arch over the road displays a sign with charming wood-burned lettering spelling out "MOTHVALE" as the dark silhouettes of some buildings can be seen near the edge of the party's vision through the fog.
When the party approaches the buildings, read or paraphrase the following:
As you enter into the town proper, the shapes of the buildings around you become clear as you slowly walk between them.
It's then that you see the bodies.
You're filled with a sense of dread as you see nearly a score of bodies littering the dirt streets before you. The buildings are dark and silent around you, many of the doors ajar or wide open, and several windows shattered. There's no sign of what may have caused this butchery, but its clear that this town has experienced something truly terrible.
10 to 20 corpses (depending on desired difficulty) are scattered around town, but unbeknownst to the party, these are actually zombies laying in wait for living prey to approach. If any loud noise is made, if a creature bends down to examine a corpse, or if the entire party enters the town among the buildings, the zombies dramatically awake and rise to their feet, then begin marching fearlessly towards the nearest party member to attack them. Use the standard Zombie stat block from the Monster manual for these zombies.
This encounter takes place on what is more or less the town's "Main Street" (See Figure 2.0). Most of Mothvale's citizens actually live in isolated homesteads on the outskirts of town, so this is one of the most dense concentrations of buildings to be seen.
The players enter from the East, which is the road leading out of town and back down the mountains. The zombies find themselves scattered randomly around the streets and a few behind the various buildings, and upon waking, immediately approach directly toward the sounds of fighting around the party.
Optional Difficulty Increases:
If your party is especially large or high-level, you may want to increase the difficulty of this encounter. There are several options to do so, which may be mixed and matched to reach your desired outcome:
- Give the zombies Multiattack. If every zombie attacks twice each turn, it makes even a single zombie getting close to the party a potential threat.
- Give the zombies grapple and a Bite Ability. Grappling as an effect on-hit from the zombies' Slam attack makes it harder for the party to move around the area unhindered, especially since it triggers even on a successful opportunity attack. It can also set players up to be hit with a more damaging bite attack afterwards: "Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: reach 5', one target grappled by the zombie. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage."
- Add one or two Chimeric Horrors which arrive mid-battle. These creatures are dangerous and horrifying in and of themselves. Having them enter into a melee in-progress is definitely suitable for adding challenge for a much stronger party.
There are six major buildings and a small tool shed in this section of the town. See the markings on Figure 2.0 for these buildings' placement:
- A) Residence. This residence has an open door amidst an obviously failed barricade. Any players who wish can enter the building and spend an action to attempt to shore up the barricade, sealing the front door. The house is bereft of valuables, and the two bedrooms contain nothing more than some clothes and bed linens.
- B) Blacksmith's Shop. The blacksmith's shop is devoid of people, and the front door is barricaded, but the smith's wares are still very much present and on display. The South side of the building is set with a large display window which is smashed in, and the display table inside is askew, with many finely crafted blades scattered on the floor. There is a set of Adamantine Plate Armor crashed on the floor (though still quite usable) which can be identified with a DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) check. There is also a back room behind a curtain which houses the smith's forge and workshop. The coals in the forge are still now just barely glowing, after being untended for several days. The blacksmith's hammer near the forge is a +1 Hammer of Returning -- a +1 Light Hammer which, when thrown, magically teleports back to its user's hand after impact.
- C) Church of Pelor. This is a large stone building with a Domed roof on its West end. The front double doors on the East end of the building are the only entrance to the temple, and they are barricaded from within. A DC 18 Strength (Athletics) check is sufficient to break down the barricade, terrifying the surviving Elven woman inside. The woman's name is Enryn, and she and her husband were separated and she barricaded herself in here. Unbeknownst to her, her husband Rancis is alive (though just barely) and has locked himself inside the tool shed to the North. The two were taking shelter in the town hall with the mayor and a few other survivors, when out of nowhere their barricade collapsed and the undead were inside. Rancis and Enryn escaped, but they believe themselves to be the only ones.
- D) "The Ugly Succubus" Inn and Tavern. This large, two-story wooden building lies on the main corner, opposite the entry from out of town, and has a swinging sign out front with the inn name. The tavern downstairs has many upturned tables and chairs, as well as three large casks of ale along the back wall. In the back room is the food stores which have been ransacked and spoiled, as well as a secret entrance to an underground root cellar, which holds various provisions, as well as a Floating Lantern -- A bullseye lantern which when held up and released, magically floats in place, and follows 5' behind its user. If searched, the upstairs rooms of the Inn contain assorted coins and other personal belongings, as well as a suitable uncommon magic item.
- E) Lumber Mill. The town's lumber mill is the Northwestern-most building in this part of town. The mill operates by use of a small windmill, for which the chain is severed, leaving the saw dormant. This building is mostly empty of items of interest, save for various saws and other woodworking tools, should a party find those useful for any reason.
- F) Residence. A second residence located just off of Main Street. This building has a smaller footprint than the other nearby residence, but has two stories. There is a lockbox hidden under the bed in the loft upstairs, which contains 3d4 x 10 gold pieces, and an appropriate uncommon magic item.
- G) Tool Shed. The small, 10' x 10' toolshed is chained shut. The lock on the chain is currently inside the shed, but pulling on one side of the chain loop gives access to the lock which can be picked with a DC 13 thieves' tools check, or the chain can be broken with a DC 23 Strength (Athletics) check made with a proper implement such as a slashing weapon or crowbar. Inside the shed, aside from some old rusted tools, is a half-dead and dying man named Rancis. Rancis tells of how he and his wife Enryn were separated as they fled the town hall when their barricade collapsed unexpectedly. The few other survivors they were holed up with, including the mayor, didn't seem to escape. Rancis himself has been bitten in the neck and is losing blood fast. A DC 8 Wisdom (Medicine) check confirms that he will die in a matter of minutes if he does not receive healing, which can be in the form of a healing spell, potion, or a DC 18 Wisdom (Medicine) check. Additionally, a DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) check will reveal that, given time, the necromantic nature of the area will reanimate any able corpses lying around, meaning that Rancis himself will become an undead if something isn't done.
- North Road. The Northernly road headed out of this section of the town leads up into the hills in the outskirts of town, where other remote homesteads are scattered. It would take a long time on foot to reach any of these homes, and if the party insists on checking them out, they find them deserted and ransacked.
- West Road. The road to the West from this area leads to the center of town, specifically to the town square where the town hall is found.
The party is free to explore the area undisturbed once the immediate undead threat has been dispatched. In the calm after the battle, a number of large white moths can be seen fluttering around the area. A DC 23 Intelligence (History or Nature) check reveals that these are Spirit Moths which are endemic to the area, and are in fact the town's namesake. Some superstitious locals even believe them to be the spirits of the area's ancestors, returning to watch over the town.