An ancient relic said to belong to a creature known as the Archdemon of Greed surfaced. According to legend, the Archdemon of Greed amassed an unspeakable amount of gold, relics, and other treasures. And if the uncovered relic is real, the rest could be as well…
The players are given the location of where the dealer believes the rest of the treasure may be. Her directions lead to a hidden entrance to a cave within a mountain. The dealer expects a percentage of the goods retrieved.
If you need to bring players together for a one-shot or for starting a game, you could have each of them employed by a different party who are all working together to uncover the truth. For example, the government may send a person to survey the land to confirm who owns it (and who they can tax for the treasure). The Smithsonian or another historical institute could send archeologists to determine the legitimacy of the claim and to identify the other pieces. And for fun, an unnamed third party may want to know more about the treasure or the Archdemon itself.
The players enter the hidden cave entrance near the river. How dangerous or what kinds of hazards await them is up to you. There could be strange cave-dwelling creatures, the cave itself could be a maze, or perhaps they had trouble with vicious and strange critters in the water if they took a boat. I ran this as a one-shot, so I did not begin the adventure with combat. However, if you are using this as an event in your campaign, give them something dangerous to deal with near the mouth of the cave.
There is no light in the cave other than what the adventurers brought.
When they move through the tunnels and deeper into the cave, the tunnel opens up into a large, circular room. The ground extends ten feet from the wall of the cave and ends at a sheer drop leading to a chasm. The adventurers can walk around the perimeter of the cave, but there is only one entrance into this room. The chasm looks deep, but a good perception check could give them an estimate that is about 150 ft to the bottom (assuming they can see that far in the dark). Rising from the center of the chasm is a large platform. The platform is roughly 50 ft from the edges of the walkway around the cave, with only the chasm between the platform and the walkway. The platform itself is 80 ft across and the middle is filled with piles of gold coins, relics, and other valuables.
While the chasm appears to have a bottom 150 ft down, it is actually a bottomless pit. If they throw a stone or flair into it, it will fall until it appears to have dropped around 140 ft, and then the thrown object will never get any smaller, though it still wavers as if it were falling. Objects that are falling at the same rate will not get closer to each other unless otherwise propelled. If two objects fall at different times and the person perceiving them is stationary on the ground above, both objects will eventually appear to be the same distance. When viewing things in the chasm, perspective can never truly be trusted.
Anything that falls in the chasm will fall forever (because of the bottomless pit part), unless it can make it to the side and climb up or if someone can get a rope down to them.
Players need to find a way across the chasm. While there are many options, the easiest way may be to throw a rope across the chasm and lasso it to something secure (a stalagmite, for example). Once they tie off the rope, they can shimmy across.
The while the platform is free of material goods about 5 feet from the edge, the rest of the circular platform is full of mounds of gold coins peppered with jewels and relics.
Once on the platform, a very good perception check can reveal that there is a soft breathing sound coming from somewhere within the gold coins. An extremely good perception check can reveal that one of the piles of gold is moving slightly, bowing as if were breathing.
The Archdemon of Greed
The demon is a shapeshifting creature that a small cult once worshiped long ago. They gave it precious materials and it blessed them by attacking people who they deemed harmful to them or just those didn’t like. One day, someone lured the demon to this cave and onto the platform by stealing its treasure and adding even more to it. Once the demon was across, they cut the rope bridge, pulled it back, and left the demon to rot. But the demon never died.
The demon has a thick, serpentine body that stretches 13 feet in length. The demon can change into any creature or object, but it cannot change its body size. Thus, it can look like multiple objects close together, such as a stack of gold coins. The demon doesn’t have a set amount of limbs. It sprouts whatever limbs it sees fit, usually having between 6-14 of them. Likewise, it has no “natural” shape and simple morphs, adapts, and mimics the parts of the objects and creatures close to it.
The demon can change any part or parts of its body into anything it touches. For example, if an adventurer touches it with a sword, it could sprout copies of that sword from its body, or it may change its limbs into swords and walk on them. If the demon touches a person, it could make heads that look like the one it touched grow out of its flesh and speak, mimicking the owner’s voice with an uneasy cadence. This means it can climb, swim, and perform other tasks with ease thanks to its multiple, malleable limbs. It can also attack 4-8 times per turn if it chooses to attack.
Because of its shapeshifting nature, it can be far more creative than simply attacking with a claw. And get creative! Really surprise the players with some unexpected methods of attacking and harassment.
The demon does not want to kill, but it does want to escape. It is also intelligent, and it knows people are likely to try and stop it. It will attack, overrun, or kill a person if it thinks such actions will lead to its escape, but it doesn’t aim to kill. Instead, have the demon attack the players in a way that makes crossing back over the bottomless chasm to safety more difficult. If one of the players has wings, have the demon focus some attacks on their wings, temporarily crippling them. If they crossed by climbing across a rope, have the demon focus on their arms, weakening them to make climbing riskier.
The demon’s greatess weakness
The demon’s greatest weakness is greed (even more than the desire to escape). Players can manipulate or lure it by offering or presenting it with valuable material goods. It speaks limited and broken English (or common or whatever language you’re using), and will communicate if it sees it as beneficial.
The demon is about twice as fast and strong as a normal human. It has a weak will because of its greed, but it has outstanding physical fortitude and is very dexterous. It skulks and hides with ease thanks to its shape changing abilities. It prefers covert operations rather than a flurry of attacks until it is threatened or prompted.
Since the demon does want to escape, this does not have to be a combat encounter. The players may bribe the demon, or even trick it.
As mentioned before, the demon wants to escape and wants to feed its greed. It will do whatever it can to achieve satisfy its greed or be free. If it escapes, it will try to outrun the adventurers and then use its shape changing abilities to hide and slip away. After that, it will use its stealthiness to survey and find those it can manipulate to bring it material possessions of great value while doing something small and easily within its power from them (which is usually murder). And if it does escape, it can become a powerful force the players will have to face later on in the campaign.
Got some loot and give a hoot?