Shadow of the Past

Shadow of the Past

Target Player Level: 3-5
Playtime: > 3 hours


In the quaint village of Elmsbrook, a sense of gloom has shrouded the once vibrant community. The MacMillan family, well-loved and respected for generations, has mysteriously disappeared. Fear and uncertainty grip the villagers, who believe malevolent forces are at play. In desperation, the villagers turn to a group of brave adventurers for help in uncovering the truth and finding the missing MacMillan family.

Adventure Hooks:

  • A local messenger arrives at their current location, begging for their assistance on behalf of the village.
  • One of the characters has a personal connection to the MacMillans and has received a cryptic message or sign.
  • A wandering seer has foretold of a great danger threatening the village, and the adventurers feel compelled to investigate.

Entering the Village of Elmsbrook

As you enter the village of Elmsbrook, a picturesque hamlet nestled amidst rolling hills and serene meadows, an uncharacteristic gloom hangs in the air. The cobblestone streets, once bustling with joyous chatter, now bear the weight of hushed whispers and somber faces. Colorful banners that once adorned the village square are now tattered and faded, mirroring the despair that has settled upon the villagers' hearts.

The village elder, Mrs. Edith, an elderly woman with a kind smile but a worried gaze, approaches your party with a sense of urgency. "Oh, brave adventurers," she says, her voice tinged with both hope and fear, "we need your help. We are beset by darkness and fear; and our friends, the MacMillan family, pillars of our community, have vanished without a trace. We fear malevolent forces are at play, and we dare not face this darkness alone."

Mrs. Edith explains the situation, highlighting the following:

  • Strange shadows have been seen lurking around the outskirts of the village, causing distress among the villagers.
  • The MacMillan residence is eerily empty, showing signs of a sudden departure.
  • The eldest MacMillan son, Marcus, was last seen near the ancient ruins on the outskirts of the village, exploring the strange occurrences.

The adventurers must investigate the MacMillan residence and interact with villagers to gather clues about Marcus's whereabouts.

Encounter 2: Shadows at the Ruins

Following the villagers' clues, the adventurers head to the ancient ruins where Marcus was last seen. As night falls, the shadows deepen, and a haunting presence looms over the area. The ruins are a labyrinth of crumbling walls, overgrown with twisted vines.

As the adventurers venture deeper, they encounter 3 to 5 Shadows that seem to feed on fear. The shadows attack, attempting to engulf the adventurers in darkness. 

Upon defeating the shadows, the adventurers discover a hidden passage leading to an underground chamber.

The Lost Crypt

The underground chamber holds the entrance to an ancient crypt. This crypt once belonged to a powerful sorcerer, and its magic still echoes within the walls. Etched into the arched opening of the crypt is the following written in Abyssal

"In crypt's embrace, shadows creep, Where ancient secrets lie, buried deep."

The Crypt starts off with a long narrow passage that progresses for many hundreds of feet down into the depths.  The party will encounter the following traps as they continue into the crypt.

    1. Ceiling Spikes Trap:
            As the adventurers proceed deeper into the crypt, they enter a narrow corridor. Unbeknownst to them, pressure plates line the floor. Stepping on one of these pressure plates triggers the trap. The ceiling above them suddenly shifts, and a barrage of long, sharp spikes rains down.
           Activation: When a character steps on the pressure plate (DC 12 Dexterity saving throw to notice the pressure plate before triggering).

           Effect: Each creature in the corridor must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or take 3d6 piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

           Of special note: The center spike has a skull run through. The skull is missing 1 tooth and has a large ruby eye. with an ancient  arcane symbol etched into it. DC 18 will share that the symbol indicates some kind of key or lock it could be either based on context.

  1. Spectral Flames Illusion:
         As the adventurers reach an intersection in the crypt, they encounter a seemingly empty room with strange symbols etched on the floor. The room emits an eerie, greenish glow. As the first character enters the room, spectral flames manifest around them, seemingly engulfing their body in green fire.

         Activation: When a living thing crosses the threshold of the room.

         Effect: The flames are an illusion, causing no actual harm, but they deal psychic damage to the affected character's mind. The character must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or take 3d6 psychic damage. A successful save halves the damage.

         Of Special Note: When the flames fade a small rock in the corner begins to glow for the adventure that triggered the trap. The small gray rock has an ancient arcane symbol. DC 18 will revel that the symbol seems related to the the concept of a door or wall. 

  2. Shadowbound Glyph:
        Within a hidden chamber, the adventurers find a glowing glyph on the floor, surrounded by mysterious symbols. This glyph is designed to capture unwary intruders and bind them with shadowy restraints.

        Activation: Stepping directly onto the glyph or touching it without disabling it first (DC 15 Intelligence check to realize its nature).

        Effect: The glyph triggers, and the character must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw to evade the shadow restraints. On a failed save, the character is restrained and surrounded by dim, magical darkness. The character can attempt a DC 17 Strength or Dexterity check (player's choice) at the start of each of their turns to break free from the restraints.

        Of Special Note: At the center of the glyph there is a small gold tooth with an ancient arcane symbol DC 18 will revel that the symbol while different also means key or lock depending on context.

Confrontation with the Shadow Entity

The central chamber reveals an active magical portal. The adventurers realize that the shadows plaguing Elmsbrook originate from this portal.  Scattered across the floor are various pages of ancient arcane text with common notes scribbled on the sides of the pages.  As the adventures read the papers they realize that to close the portal they will need to combine the 3 artifacts they found and 1 member will need to finish a ritual (the ritual will require 3 minutes of concentration) .

However, 2 minutes into performing the ritual a Wight enters the chamber from the portal.

The Wight, fueled by malevolence, seeks to thwart the adventurers' efforts. It summons more 3 to 6 more shadows to attack and tries to disrupt the ritual.

Once the ritual is competed (10 successful DC10 concentration tests) all remaining monsters are sucked into the portal as it violently closes. Sconce around the chamber ignite as if a rush of light is brought back to this dark room and in the corner the MacMillan family appears from thick shadows pushed back by the fresh torchlight.


The adventurers return to the village as heroes, hailed by the grateful villagers for their bravery and valor. With the shadows dispersed, the portal sealed, and the Macmillans free and safe, the village is free to return to their lives.

As a token of gratitude, the villagers present the adventurers with a family heirloom, a magical artifact of moderate power. They bid farewell, knowing that the courage and compassion of these adventurers have saved their beloved village from a dark fate.