Presented here are more adventure hooks for your mid-to-high level characters. As before, these can be used as single encounters, or strung together for an ongoing campaign against the machinations of the cult. Where prior hooks focused on cities and other well-populated areas, these provide adventure ideas for wilderness locales, rural settlements, and other sparsely populated areas, with the final hook taking place on the shores of Hvergelmir, a locale in the roots of Yggdrasil that will be described in further detail in the final installment of this series.
The Cursed Madstone. While cities have streets lined with temples and assorted apothecaries and doctors to deal with sickness, in rural areas and borderland settlements, those not lucky enough to have a healer in residence must rely on itinerant clergy or other wandering healers to come through. Those without clerical magic rely on herbal and homebrewed remedies to relieve the afflicted.
A recent rash of violent assaults and murders has local leaders puzzled and scrambling for answers. While they may at first seem random and unconnected, adventurers choosing to investigate may discover that shortly before their rampages, the assailants were all recently ill. They were also treated by the same wandering apothecary who travels a circuit through the rural areas and border villages of the region. Sure enough, this supposed healer is a powerful cultist of the Harbingers of the Yawning Void. They are treating the ills of their patients, but each supposed cure, a “madstone,” or bezoar that the patient must ingest, is a cursed thing from the gut of some terrible creature of the Void, corrupting the minds of those that ingest them. The heroes must discover the culprit and track them down before any other innocents can be afflicted and unwittingly become maddened killers.
A Great Forest is Dying. A mighty, old-growth forest has occupied this land for centuries, perhaps millennia, sacrosanct and protected by its fey inhabitants. Now, however, the forest suffers. At the heart of the woodlands, trees that have outlived more than one generation of dwarves are dead. The foliage of the forest floor withers and dies. The wildlife flees farther outward to the edges of the forest as the dead zone at its center grows steadily larger. The fey of the forest can only flee with them, clueless as to the cause of the forest’s demise.
The death of the forest comes from beneath. In caverns below the surface, the Harbingers of the Yawning Void have opened a portal to the Void. The cold radiation of the place continues to spill forth, corrupting the land above it. If the portal is not found and shut, the forest will be no more, and the land irreparably scarred. Satarre, creatures of the Void, and Void-corrupted cultists guard the path to the portal.
The Midnight Spring. An old hunting trail leads up into the wooded hills from a small village on the border, into the wilds. A shrine sits, forgotten and overgrown, among the trees. In front of the shrine is a pool, fed by an underground spring. The water of the pool is strangely dark, even in the daylight. At night, neither moon nor stars reflect in its still surface. Old tales speak of taking a pilgrimage to the shrine and drinking of the water to rid oneself of troubles. Recently, one troubled soul from the village did just that, and it appeared to work. Others have gone too, returning to say that the water of the pool has swept all their cares away. This is true, as the pool carries an insidious curse.
One who drinks from the Midnight Spring has all their worries removed because they cease to care about anything or anyone. A free, untroubled, nihilistic existence where everything is permitted. This causes trouble immediately as the cursed pilgrims clash with authority in the village. Removing the curse is only the first step. The Midnight Spring must be purged. However, a flock of nightgaunts (see Creature Codex) is summoned to destroy interlopers that do anything but drink from the pool. To truly stop the evil, heroes must destroy the shrine, which focuses the pool’s power and summons its nightgaunt guardians, then dive into its stygian waters and swim to their source: Hvergelmir, the well beneath the root of the World Tree that runs into Niflheim, a realm of ice.
Poisoning the World Tree. After destroying the Midnight Spring and stopping its poisoning of souls in the mortal realm, the heroes are transported through the magical pool to Hvergelmir, one of the three wells that lies below Yggdrasil, watering the roots of the World Tree. It lies in Niflheim, a frozen wasteland where Nidhogg gnaws upon the roots of Yggdrasil.
Hvergelmir is a great, bubbling hot spring, an oasis of warmth in the icy realm of Niflheim. Here, the Harbingers of the Yawning Void have opened a gate to the Void, chilling the waters and damaging the roots of Yggrasil, allowing Nidhogg to finally chew through and destroy it. The heroes must defeat the assembled cultists, led by Unterra ai-Niresh. Additionally, there is a void dragon (see Tome of Beasts), lending its strength to keep the portal open, that must be slain before the portal can be closed and the immediate danger to the World Tree removed.