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  • Fireblood and Silver, Part 2 – The Mountains’ Feet

The Silvercrown Mines sit where the forest meets the foot of the Titan’s Spine. Its outpost overlooks the Silvercrown Quarry, from which mineshafts pierce into the mountain stone to strip it of its abundant resources, as the Reavers once did. But there is more to be found than these obvious scars of industry. Mountain giants wander the slopes, occasionally descending to disturb the miners. And to the south lies another tunnel, abandoned after the death of the mines’ previous owner, yet curiously decorated with the impressions of boots, hooves, and wheels. These curiosities may prove an obstacle for those looking to reach the inner ruins but may also reveal much about the area’s more recent, yet just as sordid, history.

Setting off from the mining outpost and towards the Reaver tunnels requires the party to first pass through the quarry and mines. Though only a stepping stone on the grander adventure, these areas hold their own encounters and secrets to find. Whether luring away a giant, locating the hidden tunnel, or both, the characters are likely to have work to do before they can plunge deeper into the mountain depths. Of course, this may not be as simple as it sounds. Can the party direct the giant away safely? Can they find the many clues still remaining in the southern tunnel? And will all of this prepare them for what awaits deeper inside?

For everything leading to this point, refer back to the entire adventure index or to the beginning of this chapter…

Silvercrown Quarry

A soft breeze sweeps along the mountains’ feet. It rustles the already sparse vegetation, now only shrubs and underbrush that have thinned further and discolored to the autumnal orange and brown of the mountain itself. It meets you as you arrive at the edge of where the ground suddenly descends into the pit of a quarry, mountain stone having been excavated in large blocks to leave a tiered absence in the landscape. The different slopes and levels feature wooden planks that have been arranged as pathways and constructed into walkways and platforms for navigation. Many of these converge on work areas that hold loose collections of tables and storage crates beneath basic shelters, whereas others come to minecart tracks that travel to larger stations or disappear into the entrances of mining tunnels. All of this is coated in a fine dust of the quarry’s grey stone, which the wind whips up with the smell of dry earth as it whistles by.

The Silvercrown Quarry was the development from which the mines later branched. It was created in the earliest days of Greybanner to gather the stone needed for building the town, as well as a unifying project between the Greybanner settlers and the mountain Reavers. It has continued to supply Greybanner’s masonwork since, expanding to other locations along the mountain’s foot and with mining tunnels that drill deeper. The quarry itself is split into multiple sites, each one an expansive pit that has been carved into the earth to excavate large blocks of stone. The wooden additions make for basic safety precautions that can support miners’ weight but have not seen the maintenance they should have for their age.

If work is currently active in the mines, a number of workers are moving around the active quarry site. These miners pay little attention to the party unless they are approached or their work is disturbed.

Stone Quarry battle map - Banner - Large

Entrances to the mines. The areas around and between the quarries feature multiple entries to the mining tunnels. These entrances are marked by their wooden and brick support structures, with many also featuring paired pathways and minecart tracks running into them.

Work-shy twins. Remaining in the quarry nearest the mining outpost is a pair of twins, Larim (N male halfling commoner) and Brumar Kalario (CN male halfling commoner). If there is a hill giant in the quarry or work is otherwise suspended, the two have taken refuge in an entrance to the mines just beyond the quarry. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check to survey the mines spots the two halflings peering out from the entrance. If work in the quarry is undisturbed, the pair is instead standing at a workstation speaking to each other and occasionally glancing over a set of papers on the table. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Insight) check notices that the two seem more focused on their conversation than any work and only turn to the papers when another worker moves nearby or looks towards them.

If Larim and Brumar are hiding from the giant and make eye contact with a member of the party, they use hand signals in an ineffective attempt at communication. With these signals, or in conversation if the characters approach them, they ask if the party has come to deal with the giant and express gratitude if the answer is yes. They are reticent to explain their predicament but can be pushed to admit that they were slacking from their duties in a secluded section of tunnels and did not hear the call to evacuate. The twins then approach the characters to thank them if they see the party after the giant is dealt with.

If the party speaks to the twins in a safe environment, the latter two are jovial and show interest in where the characters are headed. They give a warning if the group says they are going into the mines or Reaver tunnels, saying that other workers have mentioned echoes from that direction. They have little else to add other than that the sound was larger than that of beasts or kobolds and that the party should probably keep an ear out for it.

Developments

A Wayward Giant. If the party is following the ‘A Wayward Giant’ adventure hook or has heard about the giant within the last 3 days, a hill giant is present in the quarry nearest the mining outpost, to its east. Read the following, in addition to the description of the quarry itself, when the characters arrive at the quarry:

At the center of the scene, surrounded by broken planks and shattered stones, is the source of the crushing sounds that echoed toward the outpost. The rotund, towering figure of a giant wanders through the quarry’s lowest level, scratching at its dust-caked animal skins and violently thrashing a wooden club at any object that dares stand in or near its path.

Hill Giant Monster Token

The giant continues meandering through the quarry for as long as it has boulders or structures to destroy, provided that it does not hear or see anyone moving nearby. If it does notice a character, it moves to investigate and attacks them if it recognizes them as a living creature.

Relocating the giant. The party’s objective, if they have agreed to deal with the giant, is to safely relocate it without causing it to call for its kin. This can be done by leading the giant up either of the mountain paths to the north or south of the quarry. The northern path is close to 900 feet from the edge of the quarry, whereas the southern path is just over 1200 feet away, in an area where the trees of the forest have not been cleared and the foliage is thick. These paths both begin as gradual slopes of gravel and underbrush. A character that sees the beginning of either path can easily identify them as winding clearings with more stable ground than the surfaces around them. They extend for roughly 300 feet before they grow steeper, becoming difficult terrain with small ridges and ledges that must be climbed to continue. These treacherous slopes push for a further 300 feet before coming to the much steeper rocky spires of the mountains, where they curve around large rocks and cliffs, and where the giant can be safely sent on its way.’

The characters are likely to have received a set of firecracker flares and a single firework flare from Foreman Adris to aid in directing the giant (see the ‘A Wayward Giant’ section of ‘Foreman Jasker Adris‘, under the ‘Silvercrown Mining Outpost‘). The hill giant is frightened by the ignition of any flares that are set off within 50 feet of it and spends its next turn after the flare’s ignition fleeing directly away from the light. If the giant is in combat with a creature it can see, it is still frightened of the flare but can make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw, resisting the need to spend its next turn fleeing on a success. If the giant is not in combat, it continues moving in the direction the flare sent it fleeing, glancing back as long as the flare is active and then wandering on the same trajectory afterward.

The giant is similarly scared of any spells of 1st-level or higher that are visually similar to the effects of the flares, particularly those that produce flames or blinding light, such as the burning hands or fireball spells. The potency of the frightening effect that the spell has on the giant may be adjusted based on the spell’s level and the spontaneity of its use.

The giant’s temperament. Moving the giant comes with the risk of it becoming either panicked or enraged. The former happens if the giant is reduced to 60 hit points or lower, causing it to cry out in fear, its voice echoing through the landscape. This scream runs the risk of attracting other giants to come to its aid, further endangering the nearby miners. Though this poses no immediate risk, the potential danger requires that the mines be evacuated until the Greybanner militia can ensure its safety.

The possibility of other giants descending upon the mines may not change the party’s adventure right now but is sure to have consequences later on. These will be covered in a later ‘Conclusion’ section that will go over how this adventure affects Greybanner going forward.

More pressing is the possibility of the giant becoming enraged by a bombardment of pyrotechnics. If the giant is targeted by too many flares or similar spells or is frightened in a number of different directions in a short space of time it may become confused, responding with anger. The giant lashes out at anything nearby while also making Wisdom (Perception) checks to search for a potential source of the flares. It attacks any creatures that it notices, blaming them for the confusion, and remains enraged for some time afterward. While enraged, the giant makes the aforementioned DC 12 Wisdom saving throws to resist fleeing from any nearby pyrotechnics and does so with advantage.

Returning to work. Removing the giant allows the miners to return to work. Once the hill giant and any other dangers have been dealt with and the matter is reported to Foreman Adris, he announces to the workers that mining will recommence as soon as the area’s safety has been ensured. He keeps the mines clear for a minimum of 24 hours. If no danger has reemerged in that time, the miners return to work at dawn the following day.

Harkness’s mercenaries. If there is a group of mercenaries following the party (see the ‘Harkness’s mercenaries’ section of ‘The Silvercrown Mines‘) and they realize that the party is headed into any of the mine’s tunnels, the group quickly searches the quarry for tools that may help in their mission. They equip themselves with a mining pick or shovel each and the group’s scout takes any maps of the tunnels that they can find (see the ‘Treasure’ section).

Treasure

The small workstations set around the quarries are equipped with basic tables and tool storage. Characters that look through the crates might find basic mining equipment, such as a miner’s pick, block and tackle, a lamp or torch, or hammers and tongs from a set of smithing tools. If the party searches one of these workstations, roll a d20. On a 17 or higher, the station also has a map of the nearest section of the mine left on the table. Any nearby miners object to the characters taking anything from the station but do not do anything to physically stop them.

Mining Tunnels

A roughly rectangular tunnel cuts through the mountain stone, its walls having been unevenly carved through years of mining and the ground covered in the resulting dust and gravel, compacted by frequent foot traffic. Thick wooden beams have been placed in arches throughout the mineshaft to maintain its integrity. Below them, minecart tracks, as well as leftover planks from where older tracks were removed, run along one side of the tunnel. These structures continue uniformly as the tunnel runs deeper, any external light fading away and the air thickening and growing colder.

The Silvercrown mining tunnels were established sometime after the quarry. The people of Greybanner made use of the Reavers’ mining expertise to begin stripping the Titan’s Spine of its iron, silver, and lead for the development of the town, both through construction and commerce. In the years since, the tunnels have expanded deeper into the mountains, winding their way through naturally formed caverns, water flows, and the now empty Reaver tunnels in constant search of ore. The majority of tunnels remain active, owing to new shafts branching off of them, though many others have been abandoned and had their minecart tracks and light sources removed.

Tunnels and caves. The mining tunnels are all 10 feet wide and 10 feet tall, while the larger connecting rooms elevate to 15 feet tall. The caves that these tunnels sometimes pass through reach as large as 40 feet in height, with a great deal of natural variation in their size, shape, and features.

Light sources. The interior of the mines has no natural light source. This is counteracted by small oil lanterns that the miners place throughout their active tunnels, usually attached to the support beams. These lanterns each shed bright light in a radius of 10 feet and dim light for a further 10 feet. They do not illuminate the entire tunnels but rather are spaced out to act as beacons for the miners to navigate by, while also conserving oil. Similar lanterns are likewise used to fully illuminate the mines’ larger rooms. The lanterns in inactive tunnels are not lit, leaving them in darkness, though the miners themselves also carry these same lanterns as part of their equipment. The lanterns have enough oil to burn for 8 hours, with workers assigned to refill them when necessary.

Navigating the tunnels. The mines’ tunnels have been dug as a connected network within the mountain, with branches that have expanded naturally over many years, some cutting through natural caverns and other formations. This makes the tunnels difficult to navigate for anyone without experience in the mines. A character that is attempting to find a particular location within the tunnels must succeed on a DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Survival) check, depending on their method of navigation, to find their way in a reasonable amount of time. The DC of this check can be adjusted based on where in the tunnels the character’s objective is and the amount of direction they are given to find it, such as from another experienced miner. The character does not need to make a skill check if they have a map of the tunnels they are navigating (see the ‘Treasure’ section of the ‘Silvercrown Quarry‘).

A character that is attempting to leave the mining tunnels can do so by following the active lanterns or retracing their steps and does not need to make a skill check unless they become lost in some way.

Breaching the Reaver tunnels. The mountain’s interior is dotted with old Reaver tunnels, many of which have fallen into disrepair or been damaged by residents of the caves, leaving disparate pockets of ruins throughout the area. As the Silvercrown company was not left a comprehensive map of the old tunnels by the Reavers, the mines occasionally breach into the different chambers and hallways. These breaches are treated with caution, owing to their potential danger, and are usually scouted and mapped by members of the local militia before their entrances are sealed.

Developments

Adris’s directions. Earning the trust of Foreman Adris may result in the party being given specific directions to reach a particular section of the mines that once breached into the Reaver tunnels and is currently being encroached upon by kobolds (see the ”Repairing the Reaver Plate’ and ‘Relics of the War” and ”Dissuading the Den” sections of ‘Foreman Jasker Adris‘, under the ‘Silvercrown Mining Outpost‘). Characters that have received these directions can reach the described section of caves without making a skill check.

Fading lanterns. If work has been interrupted in the mines for longer than 8 hours, such as by the presence of a giant, the lantern beacons in the tunnels are beginning to fade. The radius of the light they produce shrinks as their flames flicker, some lanterns also dimming faster than others. If the tunnels have been left unoccupied for longer than 10 hours, all of the lanterns have been extinguished and the mines are completely dark. Characters that are attempting to leave the tunnels without the guidance of the beacon lanterns must make an appropriate skill check to navigate (see the ‘Navigating the tunnels’ section’).

If the danger in the mines is removed and work recommences, the first miners to enter the tunnels relight the lanterns.

The Fringe Tunnel

The echoing rush of a stream fills the tunnels as they reach a natural cavern. Two connected mineshafts converge in the cave, which is intersected by an underground river that winds through it from smaller openings on either side. These combined natural and excavated chambers are still supported by wooden beams and outfitted with minecart tracks and bridges that cross the water. Much of this shows visible disrepair, however, with cracked wood, thick layers of dust, and even cave-ins that have severed smaller passageways.

The fringe tunnel has a ready-to-go battle map in the form of our ‘Damp Mine’, which you can download here.

At the southeastern fringe of the mining tunnels is an abandoned cavern where the mines once found a section of the Reaver tunnels. Work in the tunnel was suspended after Greybanner’s militia reported the potential danger, with the connection to the Reaver hall being sealed. As such, the miners are unaware of anything that has happened in the fringe tunnel save for any echoes that drifted out.

Attention has recently been drawn back to the tunnel by the appearance of a band of kobolds. In truth, they are focused on the Reaver tunnels, however, their control of the area has included the setting of traps in the cavern. News of the kobolds’ presence quickly reached both Foreman Adris and Mariana Harkness, who have silently directed work away from the affected area to prevent news of the kobolds from spreading and generating fear. While this failed in preventing the miners from learning about the kobolds, it succeeded in giving the latter time to further their own ambitions.

Intersecting stream. A natural current of water flows through the tunnel from north to south. The stream averages 10 feet in width and 3 feet in depth and is difficult terrain.

Kobolds traps. Part of the kobolds’ method of keeping the miners away is to place traps in the cave. These traps are not designed to be individually deadly but instead to simply scare the workers away while the kobolds establish a greater presence in the tunnels. The miners being directed away from the cavern has meant that none of the traps have been triggered and are still active. The traps include the following:

Collapsing Bridge

On activation…

Your step is met by a quick creaking sound followed by a series of violent snaps as the bridge’s structure collapses, breaking into pieces and dropping both itself and you into the water.

Placement. The southern bridge that crosses the tunnel’s stream, as well as wooden spikes that are hidden in the stream’s water and require a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot.

Trigger. The bridge’s support beams have been strategically weakened and collapse under the weight of any creature that is Medium or larger that steps onto the middle of the bridge.

Effect. The bridge’s structure collapses under the creature’s weight. The bridge crumbles into the water below, where sharpened wooden spikes have been placed into the riverbed, and any creature standing on the bridge falls prone in the water. A creature that falls into the water takes 3 (1d6) piercing damage from landing on the spikes.

Falling Stones

On activation…

Your foot snags on a thin wire, dragging it forward as you move. In immediate response, clusters of large rocks crash down in broken piles, scattering dust and filling the two passages into the chamber.

Placement. Rocks are suspended above the tunnel entrances connecting the smaller northeastern chamber to the larger central cavern, held up by string nets that connect to the triggering tripwires. The rocks are not visible from within the connecting tunnels, though the string can be noticed with a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check from within the smaller cave.

Trigger. Two connected tripwires, requiring a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot, are strung within the northeastern chamber at the entrances to the tunnels leading into the central fringe tunnel. Any creature that walks across a tripwire without avoiding it pulls the string taught.

Effect. The pressure on the tripwire causes the string to draw across the head of an arrow that the string is tied around, severing it and releasing the suspended rocks. The creature that triggers the trap and any others that are under the rocks when they fall must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 5 (1d10) bludgeoning damage. On a failure of 5 or more, the creature is also restrained under the rocks. A restrained creature can use its action to make a DC 15 Strength check, pulling itself free on a success.

The rocks fall in 5-foot thick piles that block both entrances to the chamber. The blockages prevent any creature that is Small or larger from fitting through and can be cleared in 10 minutes.

Hunting Traps

On activation…

A sharp metallic ‘clunk’ sounds out as saw-toothed metal jaws spring from the dirt, clamping painfully onto your leg.

Placement. 5 hunting traps are hidden within gathered dirt and sand on the ground of the southeastern-most tunnel. Only the very tips of the traps’ teeth are visible, requiring a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot. The traps’ chains are likewise hidden and anchored under the weight of heavy stones at the tunnel’s sides.

Trigger. Any creature that steps into the trapped area without knowing to avoid the traps triggers one of the pressure plates.

Effect. Stepping on a hunting trap causes it to snap shut on the creature’s leg. The creature must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 2 (1d4) piercing damage and stop moving. A trapped creature’s movement is limited by the chain that connects the trap to the cave’s nearest wall. A creature can use its action to make a DC 13 Strength check to free either itself or another creature from the trap or to release the trap’s chain from under the rock that holds it in place. Each failed check to remove a trap from a creature’s leg deals 1 piercing damage to the trapped creature.

The kobolds’ traps are not the only ones we’ve created for the Greybanner adventure. For more delightfully deadly ideas, refer back to those in the ‘Greybanner Coliseum: Traps & Hazards‘!

Kobold tunnels. The kobolds have burrowed small tunnels that run alongside the cavern, allowing them to stay out of sight and to move safely. The entrances to these tunnels are all hidden. They are located in the following places throughout the cave:

  • Beneath a barrel in the southwestern chamber. Half of the base of the barrel has been cut away to act as a hatch, with the tunnel accessible underneath. This opening is only large enough for a Tiny sized creature to fit through, or a Small creature that is squeezing. The rest of the barrel’s bottom is weighed down with stones to keep it in place and give the barrel a false feeling of weight.
  • Under the northern bridge. Directly beneath the western edge of the northern bridge is a tunnel entrance, half-submerged in the stream’s water. The water extends 15 feet into the tunnel, making this area difficult terrain. The tunnel then curves upwards out of the water as it moves south. A character spots the submerged tunnel entrance with a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check while searching that area.
  • Within the rubble in the eastern chamber. A pile of fallen rocks covers the tunnel’s entrance, leaving only enough space for kobolds to spy out from or to attack targets directly in front of the tunnel with ranged weapons or spells. The rubble is also propped up by wooden beams and positioned to allow kobolds within the tunnel to quickly collapse the pile inwards, sealing the entrance.

The tunnels themselves are roughly 3 feet in diameter, allowing only enough space for a Small creature to move through or a Medium creature to squeeze through. The three listed tunnels all connect to each other, while another shaft near the east-most entrance continues south towards the Reaver tunnels and the kobolds’ larger network.

The kobolds’ traps and tunnels are not there to create significant danger within the fringe tunnel but rather to give the party an idea of what they will be facing within the Reaver tunnels. These aspects will be far more important in the next stage of the adventure and the characters learning to deal with them will give them a better chance of overcoming the kobolds and their plan.

Entrance to the Reaver tunnels. The fringe tunnel is the location of a breach into the abandoned Reaver tunnels. The small passage in the tunnel’s far southeast, the same that is rigged with hunting traps (see the ‘Hunting Traps’ in the ‘Kobold traps’ section), has been sealed. It continues southward beyond that, where it breaks through the wall of a Reaver hallway. This blockage is constructed from piled rocks that are then covered by a wall of wooden planks nailed to the tunnel’s support beams. Attached to these planks is a basic warning sign that reads ‘Tunnel breach’ and ‘Do not pass’, written in Common.

A character can pull the wooden planks free by using a crowbar or with a successful DC 13 Strength check. The rocks take 15 minutes to clear, though this time is reduced depending on how many characters choose to help.

The tunnel beyond the blockage curves southward as it continues on for a further 70 feet. At its end is the original breach, where the tunnel’s final 10 feet tighten to only 3 feet wide, only allowing Small or Tiny creatures to fit or Medium creatures to squeeze through. It ends in a 2-foot diameter section of damaged bricks, where the miners’ digging struck the outer surface of the Reaver tunnel wall. These bricks are covered by another set of wooden planks that are affixed to temporary support beams. The bricks can be destroyed (AC 15; 120 hit points per square foot; vulnerability to bludgeoning and thunder damage; immunity to poison, psychic, and slashing damage) or broken through with the use of a miner’s pick or other appropriate tool and 10 minutes of work per square foot of stone.

Developments

Harkness’s mercenaries. If a group of mercenaries is following the party (see the ‘Harkness’s mercenaries’ section of ‘The Silvercrown Mines‘), they remain hidden a safe distance behind the characters. This results in them moving through the fringe tunnel as the party proceeds towards the Reaver tunnels. The mercenaries may set off the traps, creating echoing noises that a character hears with a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check. The DC of this check may vary depending on the amount of noise and how far away the party is when the traps are triggered.

The Southern Tunnel

The entrance to another mine appears through the vegetation, its wooden structure and the remnants of a path leading inside becoming visible through the trees and vegetation. The mine flaunts its abandonment with creeping vines and eery, shadowy silence that consumes the tunnel almost as soon as it pierces the mountain.

There are a number of entrances to the Silvercrown Mines, with different mineshafts that have been carved to plunder different areas of the mountain as the mines have expanded. Some of these have been less successful than others, with a select few having been sealed completely for one reason or another. The most infamous of these is a tunnel to the outpost’s south. The shaft was in its early stages, still boring its initial entrance tunnel when its structure collapsed and claimed the life of the previous foreman, Oscar Villenor. This unfortunate accident occurred during an inspection by the Silvercrown Company’s owner, Mariana Harkness. Harkness managed to escape unharmed but ordered the tunnel to be abandoned, citing the obvious danger and making use of the miners’ unwillingness to return to a mine in which a beloved leader had died. Its entrance has since become overgrown and is rarely visited.

The southern tunnel is roughly 1000 feet south of the mining outpost and central quarry. Though a path had been cut leading to the entrance, the area’s trees and underbrush had not yet been cleared by the time the tunnel was forsaken. Both the path and the entrance have become overgrown in the time since its abandonment, with shrubbery and creeping vines hiding much of the tunnel’s external structure. Characters that are not aware of the tunnel’s location may notice the overgrown remnants of the path leading to it, which they can then follow, with a successful DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check. If they pass the entrance itself, they spot it with a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check. The party may also be told of the tunnel’s location by Jasker Adris (see the conversations in ‘Foreman Jasker Adris‘, in the ‘Silvercrown Mining Outpost‘), allowing them to find it without the need for a check.

The tunnel’s interior extends only 60 feet before coming to the site of the cave-in. It resembles the mine’s other tunnels, being 10 feet in both width and height and with wooden support structures and planks where a minecart track would have run. The cave-in brings the tunnel to an abrupt stop where stone and earth have fallen from the ceiling and completely buried the space beyond. The blockage itself is roughly 120 feet long. There is no obvious way through and any attempt to clear the rubble is met with more debris falling from the ceiling and the ominous sound of shifting earth.

Faint tracks. Harkness’s smuggling ventures have couriers, horses, and even carts passing through a secret tunnel and near the entrance of the southern tunnel. A character that rolls a 16 or higher on their Wisdom (Survival) check to spot the overgrown path leading to the southern tunnel’s entrance also notices faint tracks in the surrounding dirt. If it has rained in the last 5 days, the character must instead roll a 20 or higher. The tracks feature imprints of two sets of boots, four hooves, and a pair of cartwheels. A character that has found the tracks can follow them with a DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) check. They follow the overgrown path and pass by the southern tunnel, continuing south into thicker foliage. The DC to follow it beyond this point increases to 14, though a character may also make a DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) check to reason that the path had been heading relatively straight and so must continue in the same direction.

Signs of sabotage. There is evidence in the tunnel that suggests that the collapse may not have been the tragic accident that it is portrayed as. The grim truth behind the tale is that Mariana Harkness was directly responsible for the cave-in. She then used the mine’s danger as a cover story for removing the previous foreman and allowing her to take firmer control of the mines and later create a lucrative smuggling tunnel. She personally caused the collapse by rigging small explosives to the tunnel’s support beams and then detonating them by casting the shatter spell once Villenor had stepped deep enough inside.

A character that investigates the walls and ceiling around the wooden support beams where the tunnel caved in and that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check notices odd marks where the collapse occurred. Clearing away some of the rubble reveals faint striations across the stone, splintering of the remaining wood, and scorch marks on the sides of the beams facing into the tunnel. These scorch marks radiate out from several points on the wood. A character can make a DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check of the larger markings on the stone to deduce that they are the scarring from an explosion originating in the center of the tunnel. The available evidence suggests that this explosion carried neither fire nor any shrapnel of its own. A character that has access to the shatter spell can identify it, or something closely resembling it, as the source of the blast.

In addition to the existing adventure, the Silvercrown mining tunnels are a great place for minor encounters. We have a variety of appropriate maps, as well as resources that you can use to construct different areas of the tunnels, whether you’re after mineshafts, caves, or something more varied…

Harkness’s Smuggling Tunnel

The section of dense growth becomes even more apparent as it separates from the rocky cliffside, the panel coming free with a single pull. Dropping it to the side reveals a tunnel burrowed into the stone. Without its disguise, the tunnel resembles the mines’ other shafts, well constructed with support beams and flat ground. It extends inwards beyond the bounds of your sight.

Mariana Harkness’s control of the Silvercrown Mines in the wake of Oscar Villenor’s death allowed her to secretly construct a second entrance to the southern tunnel as a means of facilitating her new smuggling venture. The tunnel itself was then extended, becoming a hidden pathway through the mountains. Harkness now employs smugglers to transport goods through the tunnel, avoiding the usual time and cost of navigating around the mountains and giving her easier access to valuable goods that are less common to the mountains’ west.

The entrance to the smuggling tunnel is hidden 100 feet further south from the southern tunnel’s entrance. It is kept covered by a wooden panel that is coated in thick overgrowth that completely obscures the wood. The panel is carefully replaced any time the smugglers must pass through. A character that successfully follows the tracks near the southern tunnel (see the ‘Faint tracks’ section of ‘The Southern Tunnel‘) finds that they turn abruptly into the mountainside where the smuggling tunnel is covered. A character that is not aware of the tunnel’s location and that succeeds on a DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check of the area also notices the patch of denser foliage that covers the wooden panel. The panel itself can be easily moved aside to enter the tunnel.

The interior of the tunnel resembles the other mineshafts, being 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide and supported with wooden beams, though it does not have any minecart tracks. The ground has easily noticeable imprints in the dirt that covers the ground. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) check identifies at least two distinct sets of footprints, a set of hoofprints, and a pair of tracks from cartwheels. Other prints are visible, though the lack of any wind or rain in the tunnel to wash away old tracks makes it impossible to accurately identify how many there are or how old any of the tracks are.

The smuggling tunnel extends 200 feet into the mountain before curving to the left, where it meets the southern tunnel after another 100 feet. From there, turning left sees the tunnel run 20 feet before coming to the other side of the collapse. The rubble here features similar evidence of sabotage as on the other side (see the ‘Signs of sabotage’ section of ‘The Southern Tunnel‘). Turning to the right follows the rest of the southern tunnel, which has been dug eastward for several miles with little curving or variation, eventually emerging on the other side of the Titan’s Spine Mountains.

Developments

Relocating the giant. If a hill giant is disrupting the mines and Foreman Adris realizes that the secret tunnel entrance is being used for smuggling, he advises the party to direct the giant to the tunnel and leave it to wander to the other side (see the ‘A Wayward Giant’ section of ‘Foreman Jasker Adris‘, under the ‘Silvercrown Mining Outpost‘). The giant does not enter the tunnel of its own accord and must be either lured or forced inside. It is likewise reticent to venture deeper unless it is following a target or is moving away from something that has frightened it, such as the flares provided by Adris.

Once the giant has been led through the hidden tunnel and into the extended section of the southern tunnel, it must be sufficiently frightened for it to continue on. This can be accomplished with the provided firework flare or an equivalent effect that forces the giant far enough away from any other possible targets that it cannot perceive them once the effect ends. If this is done, the giant continues wandering in the same direction, disappearing into the depths of the tunnel.

Connecting Cave

A natural cave tunnel turns out of the mineshaft, climbing upwards into a more open cavern. The stone is damp and cold and undulates with ridges and stalagmites. At the opposite end, you can see another opening that is partially blocked by wooden planks.

The construction of the southern tunnel intersected a pair of small caves, cutting through one and leaving it with two entrances into another on its northern side. One of these entrances is partially buried by the cave-in and is thus inaccessible, while the other opens into the tunnel 30 feet east of the connection to the smuggling tunnel. This entrance climbs 10 feet before opening into an oblong cavern. To its left is the tunnel that descends into the rubble of the cave-in, while opposite both is another tunnel that has been blocked with wooden planks, some of which have fallen away.

Villenor’s body. When Mariana Harkness triggered the collapse, Oscar Villenor attempted to escape into the nearby cave but was unable to evade the falling rocks due to the tunnel’s slope and the explosion having taken much of his leg. He was almost completely buried, with only the end of one hand reaching out.

The tunnel that connects to the collapsed section of the southern tunnel extends for 15 feet at a gradual decline before becoming blocked by dirt and stone. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check of the blockage notices a withered, almost skeletal human hand emerging from under the rocks. Inspecting the hand reveals that it is still connected to the rest of the body, which is buried. The characters can safely remove the body by spending an hour carefully excavating the debris covering it. This can be made faster by using appropriate tools, such as a mining pick or shovel. Read the following when the party pulls the corpse free:

The corpse that pulls free is obviously humanoid, though it shows significant damage from the weight of the falling rocks. What remains of its flesh is caked in a thick layer of dirt and dust. Beneath this coating, you can see evidence of numerous injuries, the most grievous of which seems to have severed the person’s left leg just above the knee.

Inspecting the body’s clothing reveals it to be similar to the other miners, with torn leather working gear and a crushed lantern attached to its belt. The damage sustained in the collapse has left its features unrecognizable, though the injuries themselves can reveal much of what happened.

A character that makes a Wisdom (Medicine) check of the body may discern more information about the person’s identity and injuries. They gather the following information, up to the result of their skill check:

DC 12: The victim was a middle-aged human man with ear-length hair and a short beard, and a muscular build.
DC 14: In addition to the damage from the collapse, there are also signs of burns on his body. The back of his hair has been burned away and the thinner clothing beneath his leather coat is likewise scorched on the back. The worst is on his missing leg, where the flesh and the exposed bone are badly burnt.
DC 17: There appears to be an additional layer of injuries under the bruising from the rocks on his back, shoulders, forearms, and knees. Most of these areas are badly bruised and torn, though his back, in particular, shows violent bruising in the center that radiates outward. A character can then make a DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check. On a success, they identify that the injuries are consistent with the victim having taken a forceful impact or blast from the back, forcing them down and scraping their arms and knees on the stone. If the character previously looked over the markings on the stone and wood surrounding the collapse (see the ‘Signs of sabotage’ section of ‘The Southern Tunnel‘), they deduce that it was likely the same blast that left the markings and injured the man.

Entrance to the Reaver tunnels. The third tunnel out of the connecting cave runs northward, where it eventually finds the Reaver tunnels. The entrance to this tunnel was previously blocked with wooden planks, though many of them have fallen away. Amongst the fallen planks is a warning sign that reads ‘Tunnel breach’ and ‘Do not pass’, written in Common.

The tunnel itself begins with a diameter of 5 feet but its size varies naturally as it progresses. At its smallest, the tunnel tightens to only 1 foot by 3 feet, allowing only Small or smaller creatures to pass through or Medium creatures to squeeze and crawl prone, though most of it is open enough for Medium creatures to traverse without issue. It extends for close to 200 feet before its floor opens where the ceiling of a Reaver hallway has collapsed. Read the following when the characters reach the hallway:

The tunnel descends abruptly down a mound of collapsed bricks and earth. It opens through the arched ceiling of a dungeon-like section of hallway. The room is constructed of grey stone bricks, many of which are arranged into decorative winding, geometric patterns, though all is covered in a layer of dust and grime. Torch sconces, all of which are empty, are placed on support pillars that protrude from the walls at regular intervals. The structure is otherwise punctuated only by the echoing whispers of water droplets gathering and falling.

The exposed hallway is 10 feet wide and 15 feet tall and runs 60 feet eastward before curving to the north and extending a further 400 feet while gradually declining. As it slopes downward, half of the floor transitions into stairs. Many areas of the structure have also fallen into disrepair and collapsed inwards, creating obstacles that can be easily avoided by moving carefully. The tunnel levels out for a further 100 feet before ending in another collapse, where an opening connects to another natural cave that continues northward. This cave eventually connects to another network of Reaver tunnels.

A tripwire is strung 3 inches above the floor, 30 feet from the collapse at the end of the hallway. A character that succeeds on a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the wire and the moisture that has gathered on it. The wire is anchored to the bricks on one side of the hall and disappears into a small hole carved into the stone on the other side. It is connected to a chime designed to alert the nearby kobolds of anyone approaching. If the trap is triggered and a character succeeds on a DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check, they hear the faint echo of a bell chiming from somewhere further in the tunnels.

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Troy McConnell

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What’s Next

With their foray through the mines coming to end, the party finally reaches the lost Reaver tunnels. The next step will see them venturing through the tunnels to find its secrets, face its residents, and likely discover more than they were expecting. Keep an eye out for its release! In the meantime, refer back to the previous article and the Adventure Index for the many events that brought the party this far. Feel free to also leave any comments or critiques you might have!

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About the author

Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

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