By Bruce R. Cordell and Christopher Perkins
This adventure is designed for four to six 4th- or 5th-level characters, and the adventuring party should reach at least 6th level by its conclusion. If the characters don’t have enough experience points to advance to 6th level, consider adding a few random encounters between this adventure and the next one, or allow the characters to advance to the desired level after they’ve spent time training with their mentors in Daggerford.
In “The Cursed Crypts of Ambergul,” the characters track an elusive Red Wizard of Thay to the ruins of the Ambergul noble estate. There, they discover a secret dungeon complex containing a lost trove and an altar dedicated to Ogrémoch, the Prince of Evil Elemental Earth. Within the altar is hidden one of four elemental keys sought by the Red Wizards.
Setting the Stage
After it fell on hard times, the Ambergul family secretly rebuilt its fortune by robbing graves. These Netherese nobles pillaged tombs up and down the Sword Coast and throughout the Heartlands, while their caravels scoured the coastline for sunken wrecks to plunder. Lord Reynard Ambergul, an evil man by all accounts, came into possession of several well-preserved scrolls that described evil elemental beings of great power. He became obsessed with them and used his influence and money to found a secret society dedicated to the worship of these “elemental princes.” Reynard was a seductive man, and he attracted all manner of like-minded nobles. Eventually, the elemental cult became a sensation and subject of much speculation within Netherese society.
At first, the cult was an excuse for frivolous nobles to act badly and thumb their noses at traditional religions and social gatherings. However, certain members of the cult began to take their worship of the Elemental Princes of Evil very seriously, going so far as to build a secret temple and bring wizards into the fold. Some of the less enfranchised members who wanted out were afraid the cult leaders wouldn’t let them, so they agreed to tip off the local authorities. When Reynard Ambergul and the other cult leaders discovered that their activities were being monitored and people were whispering behind their backs, they tore down the temple, buried evidence, eliminated “loose ends,” and left the area.
Reynard Ambergul relocated his family to a plot of land just off the Trade Way between present-day Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate. Reynard constructed a dungeon complex beneath his estate and continued to pay tribute to the Elemental Princes of Evil in secret. He also used the dungeon as a vault to contain the last of his stolen treasures.
Reynard was dead and gone by the time Daggerford grew into a major trading post, attracting other wealthy families to the region. His descendants continued to plunder tombs and add to the family’s collection, but the Amberguls were relics of the past and never found their way back into high society. Eventually, the family died out altogether.
The Ambergul estate inevitably fell to ruin, but the underground complex survived.
The Party’s Goal
If the characters played through “Fane of the Sun Swallower,” they know that the Red Wizards of Thay are up to something in the Daggerford region. They also know of a 1,000-gp bounty placed on the head of Darwa Dalion, a “wizard of ill repute” last seen in the company of a Red Wizard named Arvik Zaltos. The characters soon discover that Darwa Dalion orchestrated an expedition to the old Ambergul estate, located south of Daggerford, and an influential benefactor urges them to pursue.
Although the Ambergul mansion is no more, characters find tomb robbers lurking in the nearby crypts, as well as a secret passage leading to an underground dungeon complex. Within this complex, they encounter several members of the Ambergul family—some dead, some not so dead—and find evidence of their past ties to an elemental cult. When they finally catch up to Darwa Dalion, the characters must decide whether to drag her back to Daggerford and collect their bounty or use her to get the last of the four elemental keys before the Red Wizards do.