Last time I said that this post would arrive on Thursday, but as with most projects I take on it ended up taking a little longer to complete than I had expected. Still, we’re here now and that’s all that matters!
If you would prefer to have this encounter as a PDF – or if you want the map without any text or logos on it – you can grab it from itch.io for $1.
Terror At Tightwillow Pond
A Shadepoint encounter for 6th level heroes
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“Tightwillow’s always been dodgy. The spicers and tar-eaters moved in there years ago, camped up on the island burning tar and doing gods know what. Nobody with half a brain goes there any more.
“It’s changing, though. Every day it gets worse, and even the spicers are avoiding it. They say there’s something evil on the shores of the pond, something twisted and vindictive that hunts in that little scrap of wasteland. Sounds like the ravings of people too stoned to know what day it is to me, but I still say you’d do well to stay away from that shithole.”
Using This Encounter
Terror At TIghtwillow Pond is not a complete adventure, and is not intended to provide you with a full session of play. Instead it serves as a single encounter that you can drop into your games. A number of hooks are provided for getting the players to Tightwillow, and some of the items found in the area may guide the party towards future adventures.
Tightwillow is designed primarily for use with the free supplement Cities: Shadepoint, and is located in the area of that city known as Ravenwall Village. If you aren’t using Shadepoint, you can place the pond in a public park or green space in whichever setting you prefer to use.
Tightwillow Pond is all that remains of a public works project that aimed to build public parks within the city. The project was short-lived, shut down when the Treasurer at the time objected to spending money in the most deprived areas of the city rather than areas that he deemed to be more worthy of attention. Tightwillow is filled with brackish water, and this small green space is surrounded by collapsed buildings and grimy streets.
Tightwillow has long been a congregating point for the growing homeless population in the city. The large central island on the pond used to house a sizeable tent village, and was plagued by violence and drug abuse. Recently, though, more dead bodies have begun appearing on the shores of the pond, and many of the people who used to live on the island have sought out new pastures within the city. Those who have fled tell of a curse that has settled on Tightwillow, turning the trees themselves against any who dare to set foot near the pond.
In reality there is no curse. A mandragorgon has chosen the pond as its new hunting ground, and is making short work of the prey it finds there. Soon that prey will dry up, and the mandragorgon will seek fresh meat in the city itself.
- The PCs camp up beside the pond for the night, unable to find accommodations elsewhere in the city. Sensing new prey, the mandragorgon puts in an appearance.
- The deaths of drug addicts and homeless people have gone unnoticed for weeks, but the recent discovery of the body of a local business owner on the shores of Tightwillow has kicked the city guard into action. The guard aren’t generally welcome in Ravenwall Village, so the party are hired to investigate and bring the killer to justice.
- The waters of Tightwillow Pond are rancid, but a small shrine on the northern side of the pond holds a fountain containing waters with potent healing properties. The party are recruited by the mother of a terminally ill young girl, who offers them a family heirloom (an amulent of second chances) in exchange for them braving the dangers of Tightwillow to bring her a vial of the fountain’s water.
The ambient noise of the city fades away as you step beneath the trees surrounding Tightwillow Pond. The air is uncomfortably warm and still, disturbed only by the buzz of mosquitos and the occasional distant hoot of an unseen owl. You can already smell the stagnant water, sour and salty and not at all pleasant. Now that you are here it is easy to see why people might claim the place is cursed.
1 – The Shrine
Two broken statues of white onyx are nestled beneath the trees in this small clearing. One appears the be the head of a raven, while the other has been so badly damaged that it is impossible to tell what it might once have been. A wide, shallow onyx bowl about two feet in diameter is embedded in a low plinth between the statues, though any liquid it may have once held has long since dried up.
The bowl in the ground is what locals refer to as “the fountain”, though it contains no water. A successful DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals that the bowl is coated with a fine crystalline powder that can be collected into a vial or pouch of some kind, providing enough dust of restoration for one use.
2 – The Island
If the area around the pond felt lifeless, this island feels drained of life. The ground here is broken and uneven, full of loose rocks and exposed roots. The foliage is limp and browning, and the leaves on the trees that loom over you are spotted with disease. All around you are signs of recent human habitation; tattered tents and blankets, cold campfires, broken glass, scraps of rotting food, and even excrement litter the area.
This island was, until recently, the site of the encampment that made Tightwillow Pond such an unsavoury area. This is where the mandragorgon has been doing the majority of its hunting, and is where the creature is most likely to be encountered by the party.
Two wooden bridges stretch from the north and south shores of the pond to the island. They have no handrails or ropes, and their boards are broken and rotting.
Tightwillow Island Finds & Trinkets
- A small leather satchel containing a broken piece of mirror, a razorblade, and a small paper wrap with a pinch of coarse red powder inside.
- A long-cold campfire with a rusted metal tin thrust into the ashes. The thick brown sludge in the bottom of the tin was food, once.
- A ragged stuffed bear with one eye. A tear on its leg has stuffing spilling out of it, and investigating closer reveals a single electrum piece shoved into the lining.
- The body of a halfling boy who appears to have died fairly recently. His upper body is coated with a thick yellow powder that is clogging his eyes and nose. The powder appears natural in origin, possibly coming from a plant of some kind.
- A small bundle of twigs and reeds that has been formed into a roughly humanoid shape. A slip of parchment is pinned to the front of its head with large thorns. It has a smiling face drawn on it in charcoal.
- A small wooden bucket filled to the brim with chestnuts. Those at the bottom are crushed and beginning to rot, but those nearer the top still seem fine.
3 – The Boathouse
This long shed is only walled on three sides. The fourth side is open to the pond, and two wooden jetties extend out onto the water. A small rowboat is moored inside the boathouse, though it is partially sunk and has a number of holes in the hull.
4 – The Gazebo
The gazebo that stands on this large flat rock has seen better days. The white paint has flaked away in large strips, revealing the dark swollen wood beneath. Two benches sit beneath the canopy. A man in a long, moth-eaten coat is be slumped over one of them, though he is not moving.
The man is very dead. His head has been torn from his body, and close inspection reveals that it appears to have been twisted off. His upper torso is covered in a fine purple powder. This powder came from the mandragorgon’s paralysis ability, though it has no effect on characters who simply touch it.
Characters who search the man’s body find a pouch containing 8 copper pieces, a small piece of soapstone shaped like a raven’s head, and a note written in common from a person named Efril asking someone to meet them at the gazebo at sunrise.
Any characters who touch the man’s body must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw against disease or become poisoned until the disease is cured. Every 24 hours that elapse, the creature must repeat the saving throw, reducing its hit point maximum by 5 (1d10) on a failure. The disease is cured on a success. The creature dies if the disease reduces its hit point maximum to 0. This reduction to the target’s hit point maximum lasts until the disease is cured.
New Magic Items
Amulet of Second Chances
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
While attuned to this item you may choose to reroll a saving throw, keeping the higher result. You may choose to use this ability after you roll, but before the result is known. Once used, this item cannot be used again until you complete a long rest.
Dust of Restoration
Wondrous item, rare
This fine powder shimmers like oil on water. You can use an action to sprinkle the dust on a creature. The affected creature then gains the effect of the greater restoration spell.
New Monster – Mandragorgon
A mandragorgon is an evil, ambulatory plant creature. It looks like a humanoid creature that stands some 10 feet tall, with a thick central trunk and branch-like limbs. The lower half is a dense, tangled root system that extends beneath the earth. Its ‘face’ is a flat oval of bark; some have eye-like markings, though many are featureless.
The Blights of Spring. A mandragorgon’s head is crowned with a large frond of leaves that unfurl to reveal several large flowers. Each of these is capable of releasing a thick cloud of pollen that engulfed nearby creatures. The pollen of each individual flower has a unique – though equally horrible – effect. These flowers can be severed and rendered useless, but doing so is rarely easy.
Aberrant Flora. Little is known about the origins of the mandragorgons, but it is believed that they are the result of strange, twisted magics from the twisted places far beyond the Material Plane that have mingled with the essence of the fae realms. They are rarely encountered on the Material Plane, though they have been known to appear there.
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