Nightfall is an entry-level adventure that takes place in and around Day’s End. The typical adventure path follows the rise of a deadly fungus into an occupation of Day’s End and finally to the eventual conclusion of both issues. This adventure does not assume any knowledge of the setting in which it takes place but leaves characters with a strong foundation on which more advanced adventures can be run.

Chapter 1 - News

This adventure begins in the common room of The Old Prince, the heart of Day’s End’s social network. The place is as full as it’s ever been, and everyone is talking about the latest piece of news that has just come in with the foresters - the wolves are inching closer to the edges of the forest and the town itself. This in itself is not entirely out of the ordinary; as seasons come and go, and the weather changes, the wolves move around to follow the elk. But it is summer now, when the wolves normally stay well away from any civilization and hunt deeper in the forest where the elk can be found. What’s more, the wolves apparently looked half starved - maybe even diseased. And then just when everyone was about to forget about it, two farmers Geris and Farla declared that their cattle were attacked by a pack of wolves. Their description exactly matched that given by the foresters; sick and starving, except even more extreme. What’s more, one of the wolves had been killed by their cows and Geris brought in its head. Its eyes were sunken and its nose was bloodied; its fur was slick with a black, oily substance, and its teeth were nearly all rotted away. Usen, the mayor of Day’s End, ordered it burned, and those who caught even so much as a whiff of the smoke gagged and were sent into coughing fits. There is much speculation as to what could be affecting the wolves so severely: some proclaim the end of the world, or the return of an ancient plague; others scoff and put it down to a hoax. But that doesn’t stop them from talking about it.

Farla has much to say on the matter, and she will tell anyone she meets her entire tale. It is greatly exagerrated and different every time, but anyone who can listen carefully to what is said may learn something useful. The story begins on a dark night, with the wind howling through the chimney and all but blowing out the flames in the fireplace (“A night for trouble, if trouble would come on any night”). Then Farla heard an unearthly noise, seeming to come from all directions at once; it was the howling of wolves, but terribly distorted by wind (and memory). Farla sat frozen in fear (“Those calls froze my blood to ice, I’ve heard wolves before, and those were not - demons from the shadows, I’m sure of it”), but she didn’t hear the noise again. A few minutes later, however, she clearly heard sounds of distress from her cattle and was shaken from her state of shock. She grabbed the hot poker from the fireplace and a large axe for chopping wood and ran outside, but the damage was already done: one dairy cow dead and the other wounded. The wolves fled in silence as soon as she ran out, but one wolf lay dead on the ground, trampled by the cows. Farla calmed the animals as best she could, furious as she was herself, and dragged the dead wolf around back (“It was as big as a bear!”) where she left it for the night. The cow was too heavy to move, so she left her in the barn. The next day, Farla and Geris butchered Betsuthi and didn’t look at the dead wolf at all until the following morning. When they did they found it no less disturbing than before, but they both agreed nonetheless that they should warn the other people of Day’s End. So they cut off the wolf’s head and took it to the town, burning the rest of the wolf far from their house. While Farla shares her story in The Old Prince, Geris sells beef at the market and does the same.

Some of the foresters who saw the wolves are also in The Old Prince. They can be found arguing loudly with Rama, a blacksmith notorious in Day’s End for picking fights every chance she gets. 3 to 1 against the foresters, she’ll leave before it gets physical, but that won’t stop her from causing a ruckus. Right now she’s trying to tell the foresters that what they saw weren’t wolves, but werewolves. Ferocious and deadly, werewolves are seen sometimes near Day’s End, but always alone. Rama’s idea has no strong basis of truth; it is clearly nonsense. If the characters try to insert themselves into this debate, they find both parties very insistent on their positions, and unless the characters do something to settle things, Rama will storm off after only a few minutes. After Rama leaves, the foresters are still grumpy and become annoyed at the slightest objection. If the characters are receptive and agreeable, though, then the foresters will tell them what they saw.

The three foresters and two others were sawing a felled tree and moving the pieces into their cart. Suddenly, their horses became agitated. The foresters took a look around the site but didn’t see anything, so they continued about their business. A few minutes later, one of the foresters saw a wolf peering at them from the forest. She alerted the others, and together they watched the wolf turn away and walk around their work area. Then they saw that there were at least 4 other wolves behind it, all going in the same direction towards the town. The wolves never approached the work site, and didn’t make a noise. From afar they could see that the wolves were lean and had patches of matted or missing fur, but not much more.

Natra, the innkeep of The Old Prince, also has a lot to say (as always). When latecomers can’t get within earshot of Farla, they turn to Natra to hear her side of the tale. What Natra tells is wildly inaccurate; she talks about great acts of heroism, lightning striking the ground nearby, and so on. Ultimately, however, she wants to see the end of this mystery. Though she does love to have a good story to tell, Natra also has a heart for the animals of Elking Wood and doesn’t like to see them getting sick and desperate. Usen only took interest long enough to order the wolf’s head burned, which annoyed her greatly. She suggests to anyone who cares to listen that they should ask Usen to support a venture to find the root of the problem. Then she claims says that if Usen denies them, she will go to him herself (“He always listens to me; he knows how much influence I have”). If it eventually comes to that, though, she only returns fuming and refuses to tell anyone what happened. If the characters approach her and say they’ll go themselves, she discretely gives them each 5 gp to buy supplies and wishes them the best of luck.

Tyagr, the mayor’s butler, also spends some time in The Old Prince to find out what the people are saying. He won’t stay long and he won’t say anything he doesn’t have to, hiding the fact that that he is very worried about what is happening and is not confident in the mayor’s (lack of) interference. A character speaking to him must contest their insight with his deception to determine this. If the characters end up speaking with Tyagr at The Old Prince, he will first try to deflect their questions without truly answering them. If the characters are insistent, he will try to leave the inn and return to the Mayoral Seat. If the characters follow Tyagr or insist on seeing the mayor, he tries once more to persuade them to leave but grants them an appointment if they persist.

Usen has been keeping quiet about his opinions on the matter, but if pressed he will say it’s not a matter for concern while looking very concerned (but he always looks concerned). When questioned further about the diseased wolves, he will say that he is looking into it but will refuse to give details (“I’ve got someone looking into it already, just go away”). Hand waving may be involved, as will the phrase “leave well enough alone”. Eventually, though, he will admit that nobody is doing anything about it and he thinks someone should (he suggests the characters themselves, “since you seem so interested in the problem”). If the characters attempt to intimidate Usen into telling them more or giving them what they want, have the leading character make a check. If the check succeeds, Usen tells them what they want to know or obeys their request (to some reasonable extent). If the check fails, Usen grumbles and loudly denies them. If the check fails by 5 or more, Usen orders the characters to leave and calls two guards into the room if they hesitate. If the characters try to smoothly persuade Usen instead, determine whether he agrees, disagrees, or strongly disagrees with the request. If he agrees, no check is required. If he disagrees or strongly disagrees, the characters may attempt up to three persuasion checks to change his mind. Each successful check increases his agreement by one level and each unsuccessful check decreases his agreement by one level. If Usen is persuaded to agree with the request, he grants it. If the check fails while Usen strongly disagrees, he becomes angry and orders the characters to leave after denying their request, saying they are wasting his time.

Usen also has some papers in a locked drawer in his desk. If the characters find a way to search these papers, they find a series of memos written between himself and Tyagr. They betray Usen’s discomfort at the situation, his desire to have it resolved, and his reluctance to send an expedition into the forest. Tyagr merely tried to offer practical advice, but agrees that the matter is significant.

Chapter 2 - Investigation

At this point the characters hopefully want to follow the wolves into the forest. But before they do, they might want supplies.

Any exotic materials like silk rope or alchemist’s fire will not be available. Food can be bought at the market (where Geris is selling beef and telling his story), and other basic equipment (rope, torches, pots, etc.) can be bought from peddlers and crafters. Simple weapons and light armour can be bought from any blacksmith or leatherworker on demand, while medium and heavy armour will take time to tailor properly. Martial weapons are also not difficult to find.

If the characters ask about potions or other magical items, they will be directed to Ahahbu, the healer. She has 1d3 Potions of Healing on hand when the characters arrive, but she will not sell them immediately for any amount of gold (“I need these potions for my patients - you never know when someone might lose an arm around here”), but if the characters press further she inquires what they want it for (if they haven’t already said). When she learns that they intend to venture into Elking Wood to investigate the cause of the wolves’ advances, she becomes interested. She offers to give one potion to the characters if they agree to bring back a physical piece of whatever it is they find, be it fungus, rotting carcass, or magical item. She claims she wants it so she can study it and learn how to prevent against it in the future. This is almost the whole truth, but if any character succeeds on a difficult check against this statement, they glean that she hopes it is a magical cause and wants to investigate its magical properties to improve her own skills.

When the players wish to follow the wolves into the forest, they may want to start either at Geris and Farla’s farm or at the lumber yard.

The Farm

The farm is about an hour away by foot down the farm road, or 30 minutes by cart. The door to the house is locked and no-one but Geris and Farla live there, but the barn, cattle yard, and the site of the attack are all accessible around the back. Though a couple days havce passed since the attack, the signs are still visible in the mud. Once the signs have been spotted, it is possible to locate the wolves’ tracks with a check to track them. On a high roll, the character making the check also identifies that 8 wolves arrived at the farm and 7 left. There are two sets of tracks: one coming to the farm, and another leaving. Both tracks point in the direction of the forest.

Also at the farm is the dead wolf’s burnt remains. They are on a small patch of bare dirt about 500 feet away from the house and barn. A thin wisp of smoke still rises from the ashes, but it is nearly burnt out. Up close the wolf is hardly recognizable any more, having been trampled, decapitated, and burnt. A check to identify natural materials reveals that among the remains of the wolf are burnt fragments of a fungus. It is impossible to know what fungus it was.

Once the wolves’ tracks have been found, they can be followed through the fields. Both the tracks to and from the farm travel in a gently curving path towards the forest, which is about an hour from the farm by foot. As the characters follow the tracks, they notice that there are flecks of a black oily substance on the ground and in the grasses. Though it may not be immediately obvious to the characters, this is the blood of the diseased wolves. If the characters are following the tracks leading away from the farm, have the main tracker make a check after 45 minutes of walking to spot a change in the tracks. On a failure, they notice nothing new but can continue to follow the tracks. On a success, they notice that the wolves’ tracks branch here, leading off in two directions. One of the tracks was made only by a single wolf, traveling alone, while the other track was made by the rest of the wolves.

The small track was made by a single wolf leaving the pack to scout. While scouting, the wolf saw an elk and decided to hunt it alone. Unfortunately, both the wolf and the elk killed each other and the tracks end at a scene of the battle a few minutes after they split off from the main tracks. The carcass of the elk lies alongside that of the wolf, both clearly affected by the same disease as the wolf Farla brought in. Their fur is patchy and slick with a black, oily, substance, their eyes are sunken, and they are both emaciated. The elk was obviously killed by the wolf, as evidenced by the bite and claw marks along its neck and legs. The wolf was impaled by one the elk’s antlers. A medicine check confirms that this was the cause of death of the wolf. The tracks near the area are disrupted, but a successful check confirms that there are no tracks leading away from this spot other than those the characters followed. The animals died the day before Geris and Farla came to the town, so they have been dead at least one day.

The main track continues towards Elking Wood. Where it reaches the edge of the forest, the tree canopy hangs low. The air feels thick, and warmer than it should in the shade. There are few noises; perhaps the chirp of a bird every now and then, or the rustle of a tree branch in the wind. In the summer, the forest floor is all but covered with shrubs, vines, and small rocks. It is not dense enough to offer any real hindrance, but it might be possible to hide among the small bushes.

The Forest

The sense of oppression that is felt in Elking Wood during the day is only magnified in the sudden darkness of an Eclipse. When the sun is eclipsed, any characters who are awake and who are able to notice the change in lighting must make a save against fear. On a success, the character feels intense fear, but is able to overcome it. On a failure, the character feels the same intense fear and is so affected by it that they become unable to move for 1 hour. They can speak only stutteringly, keep looking around, and cannot explain the source of their fear. Sudden movements, even by friendly characters, surprise them and cause them to call out. At the end of each 10-minute period, affected characters may reroll the save. They may do so with advantage if an unaffected character is helping them to overcome their fear. If a character overcomes their fear in this way, they become immune to this effect of the Eclipses until they spend 24 hours outside of the forest.

After about 30 minutes of following the wolves’ tracks through the forest, the characters are coming close to the wolves. Four of the six remaining wolves are resting around the base of a large tree, while the other two are hunting. If the characters choose to tread quietly, the may contest their stealth against the perception of the wolf that is standing guard. If it notices at least one of the characters (or if they didn’t try to be stealthy at all), it alerts its companions and they all hide in the undergrowth as the characters approach. However, one of them is too sick to move and lies on its side, breathing heavily.

When the characters arrive at this spot, any hidden wolves must contest their stealth against the perception of the characters. Whether or not they spot the hidden wolves, the charcters see the sick wolf on the ground. The hidden wolves will make no move to protect their companion until 2d8 minutes have passed, when the hunting wolves return dragging the carcass of an elk. When they do, or if the characters attack the hidden wolves, they all jump out and attack the characters. The three hidden wolves and the two hunting wolves currently have full hit points.

A quick medicine check on the sick wolf confirms that it is dying of the same affliction that was seen in the other wolves and in the elk. It has 1 hit point remaining and three levels of exhaustion, and it will die in an hour if it is not healed. A healing spell cast on it will restore hit points as normal, but the disease in it cannot be removed by healing alone. As long as the wolf is at its hit point maximum it will be able to move. It refuses to drink a healing potion. The wolf cannot regain hit points from rests, instead losing half of its remaining hit points (rounded up) at the end of each 24 hour period. It will not come with the characters willingly, but will not run from them either. If they heal it, they may also make a check to befriend it. On a success, the wolf will become loyal to the characters and will follow them as long as they continue to provide food and healing.

The characters may take this opportunity to more thoroughly examine the disease as it affects a living creature. The sick wolf has dark spots around its eyes, but they are not sunken like those of the dead creatures the characters saw. Its fur is patchy in places, and the characters can now see that the black, oily, substance is in fact the blood of the animal; it is slowly oozing from several open wounds. Additionally, the characters can see what appears to be a large fungal growth around the shoulders of the wolf. A very good check to identify natural objects made on this fungus identifies it as Obezaach, a rare fungus that infects animals with its spores and slowly consumes their body, killing them. After the animal’s body is entirely consumed, the fungus begins releasing thousands of tiny spores into the air, to be carried on the wind until they are inhaled by another animal. It generally takes a long time, sometimes weeks, for the animal to be fully consumed. The fungus is more common in regions further west where the Eclipses are stronger and normally has difficulty spreading this far east, as the spores are extremely light-sensitive. They can also be destroyed by fire. They are dangerous to humanoids, who can become infected just as easily as animals. Magic that can cure disease can remove the fungus from a creature’s body, and it can also be removed by an intense heat treatment that is almost as dangerous as the fungus itself: the creature must be submerged in near-boiling water for several hours.

An affected creature gains levels of exhaustion and is prevented from resting effectively. At the end of each 24-hour period, the creature gains a level of exhaustion. Additionally, as long as the creature is infected, it does not lose levels of exhaustion at the end of a long rest, and it cannot regain hit points from resting.

Chapter 3 - Political Intrigue

While the investigation of the disease is taking place, the players may over time become interested in finding out what Usen and the other rulers of Andal are doing about the situation. Since one of Day’s End’s responsibilities is to protect the province of Andal from the horrors of Noon-Night, it is reasonable to inquire about this.

At first glance, it may appear that Usen has no care for the danger the disease poses to the people of Day’s End. In fact, this is quite far from the truth. Though his motives are indeed not perfectly selfless, Usen is in fact extremely concerned and wishes to send out a search party. However, due to the complicated and beaurocratic workings of Andal, he is not authorized to initiate such an expedition without express written permission from a senior governor. This permission is something he has been trying to get since he first heard of the wolves from the foresters. However, his seniors have no interest in the issue whatsoever; they are more concerned with a secret military operation to invade a neighboring province. So, instead of helping Usen or even granting him permission to investigate, they have ordered him to raise the taxes in and around Day’s End once again. Considering his already poor reputation among the populace, Usen is reluctant to do this, worried that he may spark a revolution (which would, at best, lead to exile; at worst, execution by his seniors for poor governance). If the players investigate the locked drawer in Usen’s office, they may find notes from upper government alluding to this situation. They may also find up to one similar note hidden somewhere in Usen’s house, as a reward for any excellent investigation rolls.

If Usen discovers that the characters are independently investigating the disease, after a few days he will send Tyagr to find them and discuss with them solutions to the problem. If they are staying at The Old Prince, Tyagr will find them there. He will be disguised under a cloak and will attempt to talk to them in private. Tyagr begins by acknowledging that the characters are investigating the disease, and continue by stating his and Usen’s concern with the issue. If the characters press the point of his strange secrecy, Tyagr will explain the state of the beaurocracy and why the news of what Usen is doing must not reach higher ears. Ultimately, however, the reason Tyagr is meeting with the characters is to offer them a small amount of help: he is prepared to equip them with weapons, rations, and other equipment to aid the characters in their quest. He can offer them up to 250 gp (total). If they ask, he will also offer them access to the library, but he will mention that he doesn’t expect them to find much there. However, if they spend at least an hour looking, they will find a book describing the history of the town and how it was built on the ruins of an elvish palace (evidence of this can be found beneath the dungeon).

Additionally, about two weeks after the dead wolf was brought into town, Geris and Farla (the farmers whose cows were attacked by the diseased wolves) are found dead. After seeing the same signs of the disease that had been observed in the wolves, they immediately returned to town and alerted everyone. This causes a significant disturbance among the people, who become worried that by bringing the dead wolf’s head into town, Geris and Farla may have doomed them all. Ahahbu is also concerned by this news, especially if she already knows of the nature of the disease (which she does if the characters have brought her any diseased samples). Even if she doesn’t, she quickly tries to pack her medical equipment and ride on horseback to Geris and Farla’s farm. If she knows the characters or knows that they are actively investigating the disease, she allows them to follow (although she has only one horse). She does not allow anyone else to follow, including Usen.

While this is happening, another event occurs almost simultaneously: an envoy from the capital, Rutha Sha’nomf, arrives to talk to Usen about his management of the town. Usen is both furious and terrified, knowing that he is at risk of punishment since he did not deliver the tax quota. The envoy brings a guard of 30 soldiers (25 with spears and 5 archers) and arrived in a carriage. Usen will most likely be too distracted by this to bother with Geris and Farla’s deaths. Sha’nomf will insist on meeting with Usen immediately, while her soldiers guard the town hall. The archers are positioned on the balconies while the spears surround the property.

Assuming the meeting is not interrupted, Sha’nomf will become convinced of Usen’s guilt and she will name him a traitor. Tyagr will also be charged with the same crime, and both will be promptly placed in the dungeons while Sha’nomf’s soldiers gain control of the town and confiscate the treasury.

Ahahbu, when she returns to Day’s End from her investigation of Geris and Farla’s farm, will insist to speak with Sha’nomf once she discovers that Usen no longer has power. She will explain the danger of the disease to her and demand that action be taken to mitigate it, rather than wasting time imprisoning Usen and Tyagr. Sha’nomf takes great offense and orders Ahahbu away without heeding her demands. Ahahbu still plans to do what she can to save the people of the town, so that night she goes to Quabreet and persuades him to lay an enchantment on the town, empowered also by her own magic. The enchantment succeeds, and causes everyone in the town to become highly paranoid. As a result, in the morning Sha’nomf orders her soldiers to close the gates and bar anyone from entering, including the foresters who had already left for the day. The people of the town close their doors and windows, and cover their faces when they see people in the streets. Usen and Tyagr begin to fear for their lives. Ahahbu’s enchantment wears off after 5 days.

In a fit of suspicion, Sha’nomf orders her solders to search Ahahbu’s house. There, they find exactly what they were looking for: evidence of druidic magic in a hidden compartment. Cornered, Ahahbu uses a druidic transformation for the first time and transforms into a house cat. She slips away from the stunned soldiers and flees into the street, where she quickly hides in an alley. Once she hears of how Ahahbu escaped, Sha’nomf convinces herself that Ahahbu orchestrated the setup and spreads the lie that Ahahbu attempted to overthrow Usen and was imprisoned.

Once the farmers and foresters find the that town is closed, they return to their homes, if they live outside the town, or to another person’s home otherwise. People outside the town were not affected by Ahahbu’s enchantment, so they are still generous and welcoming (although distressed over Geris and Farla’s deaths).

When the characters return to Day’s End, they find the gates barred and guarded and the market empty. The guards refuse entry, and nothing short of magic can persuade them to open the gate.