With the rules of a Dark Souls-style 5E game in place, this installment presents a take on the beginning of the campaign—the first boss encounter with the campaign’s primary villain, Ebonwrath the Black!
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This dungeon is designed with Dyson Logos’s maps of Dyson’s Delve and this location specifically uses the Delve Exterior from that map set.With the rules of a Dark Souls-style 5E game in place, this installment presents a take on the beginning of the campaign—the first boss encounter with the campaign’s primary villain, Ebonwrath the Black!
A Note on Canon: While this adventure takes place within the Dark Souls setting, it contains original NPCs, foes, items, lore, and story.
When the dragons were betrayed during the Age of Ancients, Ebonwrath the Blackdrake escaped, stealing a few cinders of the First Flame before finding a hole to hide in. There Ebonwrath slept in an underground lake beneath the troubles of the Ages of Dark and Fire.
When the black dragon woke, Ebonwrath rekindled his stolen flame, perverting it with vile magic to steal the souls of lesser creatures. These soulless ones were doomed to guard Ebonwrath’s lair so long as he kept their souls.
Now, plunderers and thieves turn their gaze anew to Ebonwrath’s domain, hoping to take the dragon’s stolen hoard of souls.
Giants Fall Ruins sits atop a hill as a collection of crumbling pillars and a crushed mausoleum. It once stood as a memorial to honor long-dead priests and lords of Carim. Now, the location offers only bleak respite that Ebonwrath exploits, luring in weary travelers to slay, soulsteal, and enslave.
First Encounter: Ebonwrath’s Flight
Before the PCs can explore the area, Ebonwrath the adult black dragon descends. This combat encounter is meant to kill the PCs and forms the basis of the campaign.
The battle should last only a few rounds, depending on the number of PCs. Ebonwrath brutalizes in combat, holding off using his breath weapon until after the third turn, preferring to leap on individual PCs and maul them. If anyone is alive at the end of five turns, the dragon casts circle of death (DC 18) to slay whoever remains.
As the PCs die, they hear the dragon speak, declaring that they shall be wardens for his lair unto eternity. Then Ebonwrath retires to the lowest floor of his lair.
Here, the PCs learn where this is all going.
Second Encounter: Burwenna’s Warm Welcome
The PCs wake up later, undead and soulless but by the comforting flames of their first bonfire. Here they meet the first NPC of the adventure, Firekeeper Burwenna. She frets over them and notices that a couple of other NPCs have entered the area now that the dragon is gone. Burwenna’s first words to the players are:
“Welcome to the bonfire, Soulless Ones. I am Fire Keeper Burwenna. I tend to the flame, and tend to thee. Ebonwrath has stolen your souls, and the souls of all who are resigned to this place. You must take them back. To this end, I am at thy side.”
Firekeeper Burwenna, Human Mage
Burwenna is a small statured woman shrouded in sooty robes. She always wears a hood over her face, hiding her hair and bandaged eyes.
Personality Traits: Burwenna is kind and noble. She speaks with Olde English formality.
Bonds: Burwenna’s soul is stolen like all the rest in Ebonwrath’s domain.
Flaws: Burwenna is prone to fear.
Wants: Burwenna clings to the hope that someone will save her and everyone else from Ebonwrath. She also wants the souls of her firekeeper kin returned.
Talking to Burwenna: Burwenna is certain that the PCs are there to save everyone from Ebonwrath. She offers her full cooperation. She doesn’t respond to intimidation attempts, but is easily convinced with persuasion while deception attempts is only moderately effective.
- She’s lost count of how long she has been here. She knows the PCs are the first of their kind she has seen in decades.
- She knows that goblins live in the dungeon and are led by a laughing man.
Burwenna explains the stakes and offers the PCs what little help she can. The primary quest is for the PCs to delve into the lair to free their souls and everyone else’s too. Burwenna further explains that the PCs can always rest at her bonfire, that she will help them grow stronger, and that she has a burial gift to commemorate their first death: an estus flask for each PC.
Now the PCs may explore Giants Fall Ruins and meet the other two NPCs here.
Crushed Ruins. This mausoleum is the focal point on the hill despite its missing roof and crumbling walls. Debris litters the interior while thick plants choke the ground around the exterior. Spiral stairs inside spin downward 60 feet to the first floor of the lair.
Hidden Treasure. The upper room of the ruins contains an unlocked chest with the soulof a mindless wizard (100 souls). In the lower room buried beneath the rubble (DC 17 to spot), a crushed humanoid skeleton clings to a Humanity.
A ledge halfway down the staircase tunnel has a shovel and a martial scroll on it. The scroll isGM’s choice of weapon option (see Tome of Heroes) or a 1st-level spell scroll. Leaping to the ledge requires a successful DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check to jump safely. On a failure, the PC falls to the bottom of the staircase and takes 1d6 falling damage for every 5 feet fallen. This could be the adventure’s first (non-Ebonwrath) death. When a PC dies, they drop all of their souls and start the next turn at the last bonfire where they rested.
Near the spiral steps crouches the Disconsolate Warrior.
Disconsolate Warrior, Human Veteran
The Disconsolate Warrior is a glum man wearing chainmail. He sharpens a broken sword as he guards the steps down into Ebonwrath’s lair.
Personality Traits. The Disconsolate Warrior is depressed. Every word beleaguers him.
Bonds. The Warrior’s soul is stolen like all the rest in Ebonwrath’s domain.
Flaws. The Disconsolate Warrior is prone to despair.
Wants. The Disconsolate Warrior wants to feel hope again. He also desires a magical weapon.
Talking to the Disconsolate Warrior. The Disconsolate Warrior thinks that all is pointless and has nearly accepted his fate as Ebonwrath’s doorman. He has forgotten that he is supposed to prohibit entry to the lair. If reminded of this duty, the PCs must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma (Intimidation) check to get him to forget again before he takes the job seriously and becomes hostile. If the PCs fail, the Disconsolate Warrior fights them. As a veteran, he is likely to kill the PCs, sending them right back to the bonfire. If approached a second time, he is no longer hostile and yields access. He says that if the PCs keep coming back from the bonfire, there is no use in blocking them.
The Great Bonfire. Outside the mausoleum and sequestered in the corner of two freestanding walls, a bonfire rages. Firekeeper Burwenna stays here, tending the flames. This is the primary resting point for the adventure. PCs can only take a long rest or level up at a bonfire.
Five Saints Statues. A row of statues to the south of the bonfire depicts five knights in poses praising the sun. A successful DC 13 Intelligence (History) check recognizes the knights as Carim priests and that their leader, Baldred, should be buried in the mausoleum or the tomb below it. Winnifrid of Courland stays here, examining the statues.
Winnifrid of Courland, Human Priest
Winnifrid is a young woman with short blond hair. She carries herself with poise and wears a heavy-looking breastplate and stifling white vestments.
Personality Traits. Winnifrid is courteous but cautious at first. In time, she can become irritable, frantic, and overly familiar if her interests are not met.
Bonds. Winnifrid’s soul is stolen like all the rest in Ebonwrath’s domain.
Flaws. Winnifrid is prone to obsession.
Wants. Winnfrid is obsessed with finding relics in the local area.
Talking to Winnifrid. Though reserved at first, Winnifrid is a quest giver for several important tasks. She doesn’t respond to deception attempts but is easily convinced with persuasion. Intimidation is only moderately effective. If she is either approached multiple times or the PCs take their first long rest at the Great Bonfire, Winnifrid asks them for help with several tasks.
- Winnifrid seeks an artifact tool kit called a transposing kiln.If found and returned to her, it enables the PCs to craft transposed weapons from collected boss souls.
- Winnifrid is looking for her grandfather’s holy symbol, the Courland Devotional Bell. She believes her grandfather was buried here with the other priests and she has come for what is rightfully hers.
Hillside Cavern Entrance. The cavern opening at the far southern end of the hill requires a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot in the overgrowth. A nearby tree shades a mound that any nearby PC instantly recognizes as buried treasure. However, a shovel is required to dig up the mound, which takes 10 minutes. Inside is a chest that holds 5 firebombs.
The fight with Ebonwrath, exploring Giants Fall Ruins, and interacting with the three NPCs is enough to fill three to five hours of play.