Brothers Ross and Troy team up again to give you a creepy adventure module and a crawly battle map. If you are a fan of
nebulous eggs, webs, and crypts, colorful battle maps and low-level adventures, please enjoy…
A Favor for Gallen
A small-town alchemist would happily brew unique potions, ideal for dungeon delving. All he needs is for someone to retrieve the key ingredient.
Mages and alchemists in country towns tend to be eccentric, often nicknamed and shunned by their neighbors. It would perhaps be more surprising if ‘Gallen the Addled’ had not been erratic and short-tempered. Still, his stock would be useful and the next possible alchemist is days of travel away. Gallen even offers one of a kind potions, free to anyone that can source a particular reagent.
He requires the fluid from a breed of insect’s eggs. Fortunately, a group of local children recently defied their parents and visited a nearby crypt. The single survivor was poisoned with a venom that Gallen believes came from the insects he is after. Surely a group of hardy adventurers could fare better than children and recover several intact eggs?
- Gallen can create 1 Unstable Potion of Insect-kind for every egg’s worth of fluid retrieved, taking 24 hours to brew the potions.
- He will add 1 Potion of Healing for every 2 eggs that are still intact, up to a maximum of 4.
- Each egg has a diameter of 1 ft and weighs 15 lbs.
Of course, he does not mention that what he truly wants is the hatchlings inside.
Unstable Potion of Insect-kind
When you drink this potion, you gain the abilities of an ettercap for 1 hour. During this time, you gain darkvision out to a range of 60 ft and can walk on walls and ceilings as if under the effects of the Spider Climb spell. When the effects expire, you are poisoned for 1 hour, as the venom in the potion takes effect.
The Ettercap Lair
Descending the stone steps brings you into a crypt of ancient, broken stone. The bricks and paving slabs show the weathering of untouched centuries, with a thick coat of dust that hangs in the air. It fills your mouths and lungs with an old must, accented with a distinct, burning stench of decay. The smell draws your eyes to the edges of the square room, where alcoves hold individual tombs. They are decorated with stone facsimiles of their presumed residents, three to your left, and one on the far right.
On the opposite side of the room is a larger semicircular recess. The walls of both it and the closest tomb on your left are broken open. Webs spill forth from the openings, illuminated by a sickly orange luminescence further in. From your position, you can barely make out clusters of bulbous orbs that undulate with the light. It requires no investigation to know that the smell is coming from them and, in the silence of the crypt, you catch the echoes of chattering, skittering movement.
* * *
The ruptures in the stone walls open into a cave. You cannot see if it is natural or burrowed, as the webs cover almost every inch of the surface. They drape and hang, some in sheets and others with single threads, forcing you to push or cut through. Where they collect, orange sacs of luminous fluid sit, supported in nests of web and bone. At the center of each, you can make out small silhouettes.
The smell in the air grows overbearing as you step in. It burns your nostrils with acid and pulls on the contents of your stomach. You feel a stinging as you linger against a web and look down to see it singing your skin. Stepping back, your foot cracks and breaks through discarded bones that litter the ground. You look back up and see many of the webs around you now quivering with vibrations that quickly spread outwards. Something shuffles against the stone above you.
The creatures that have nested in the cave are suffused with necrotic energy. Their bodies are of humanoid insects, with long claws and chittering mandibles. Jagged shards of bone protrude haphazardly in patches where the purple exoskeleton has grown to hold them in place. Despite their size, the monstrosities move across the webbing with ease, always with at least one eye fixed on their intruders.
* * *
The corpse ettercaps are regular ettercaps with a vampire flavor. This first meant swapping their poison out for a necrotic, health-draining bite. Their web is also coated in acid to create more urgency in escaping it as well as to synergize with the setting of their lair. This logically requires them to be immune to acid damage, and a resistance to necrotic was given to fit the theme. Finally, in case players try to capitalize on the similarities to vampires, the ettercaps were also given Sunlight Sensitivity.
Corpse Ettercaps’ Lair
The caves that corpse ettercaps take as their nests are filled with webs. They cover every surface and hang between walls, the ceiling, and the ground.
- Any space filled with webs counts as difficult terrain for the sake of movement.
- Each 5 ft. square of web has AC 10, 5 hit points, is vulnerable to fire damage, and immune to bludgeoning damage.
- Any creature that is knocked prone while in the web must succeed on a DC 11 Strength saving throw or be restrained by the webs.
- Similar to the corpse ettercaps’ Acidic Web, any creature restrained by the nest’s webbing takes 4 (1d6 + 1) acid damage at the start of their turn.
The Infested Crypt Battle Map
This crypt had served as the honored resting place of a band of heroes, but now has been infested by some foul intruder. Just how deep does its webbed tunnels go..?
As an Australian, one of my greatest everyday fears is spiders. Whether it’s walking through their strong webs on an otherwise peaceful stroll or finding them dangling over my pillow, they will never cease to make me wish I had an IRL Divine Smite for the fiends.
Part of that fear was channeled into this map, which began as a spacious tomb and then evolved into this horrendous nest of evil. The orange glow came later, perhaps because alien insectoids are less scary to me than mundane spiders.
I hope your player characters have a Fireball handy. Tell me, what encounter ideas are coming to mind? Please share them in the comments!
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