Download the PDF here: The Ring of Endless Love
The PCs find that the ring was the engagement ring that a trickster god gave to his favourite mistress. When she threw away the ring, he cursed it that it would summon monsters to wherever she was and that she should live forever with her mistake.
- Gaining the Ring
- Putting on the Ring
- Finding the Way
- Outskirts of Amerstale
- The Village of Amerstale
- The Lordling Inne
- Garden of Lovers
- The Duchess
- Anyone wearing the ring is charmed in her presence (save ends) to love the Duchess (effect is similar to domination or mind control). Anyone wearing the ring outside of her presence feels a faint urge to travel towards her.
- The Duchess is cursed to stay alive until she repents (symbolised by putting on the ring). Once the players manage to get the ring on her, she automatically ages to her true age (1,200 years) and dies.
- Any creatures summoned by the ring are automatically minions/have minimal HP, no matter how powerful the creature and the XP gain for them should be small.
Gaining the Ring
The PCs hear a scream whilst on the road. When they investigate, they find a human couple being attacked by a shadow creature (the Gatekeeper) and several [small monster]s. When the PCs attack, the shadow creature flees and the PCs must face the [small monsters].
After the fight, the PCs see that the male of the couple has been killed. The female, through her tears, explains that they were drawn this way by her husband’s wedding ring. They are newlyweds and she gave him an old family heirloom ring. After the wedding, he began to have strange dreams about a woman weeping in a large drafty hall. He felt like they should rescue her, that she was a real person and in danger. He told her that the ring was drawing to the south east.
Insight (low) – You can tell that she is uncomfortable about something and hiding it.
Diplomacy/Intimidate (medium) – She confesses that her new husband described the woman as very very beautiful and seems so fascinated by her that she was jealous. She hoped that the ring would lead them nowhere and that he would forget about it. It was purely to try and cure his obsession with this other woman that she agreed to travel with him.
She also tells the PCs that the ring was rumoured to be magical and to have magical powers but she and her husband were never able to get it to work. It was supposed to be able to summon anything the wearer wanted simply by wearing it and speaking the name of the creature or object aloud.
She gives the PCs the ring, saying that she doesn’t want it. She asks if you can figure out how to use the ring and who the woman is. Her late husband was convinced that it was important and it might bring her closure. She offers her dowry in payment.
As far as she knows there is nothing in the woods to the south-east but the forest becomes dense and dark. No one from her village has ever been that far away from home or headed into the darkness of the woods. There were rumours that it is haunted.
Putting on the Ring
If one of the characters put on the ring then this:
- PC must immediately do a medium difficulty save against Charm.
- Win: They have control of the compulsion and just feel a faint tugging towards the village. All characters gain a minor bonus to Perception, Nature, History in the following skill challenge as the ring character is guiding them.
- Fail: This character is now charmed and will refuse to take off the ring at all unless persuaded with a high diplomacy check (or very high intimidate check) from a friend. They feel like it’s possible they might die if they take off the ring. Any attempt to force the ring off their finger will cause medium psychic damage and ongoing low damage (medium save ends) until they sleep or fall unconscious. If they are still wearing the ring when they enter the Duchess’ presence, the ring-bearer must make an immediate save against domination (see later). The ring-bearer feels the pull of the ring very strongly and gains medium bonus to all skills guiding them towards the Duchess. Other characters will not gain as the ring-bearer is too focussed on getting themselves there to bother much about the others.
If no PC wears the ring then there are no bonuses.
If any of the PCs attempt to summon anything with the ring. It will appear as part of the Outskirts of Amerstale encounter below.
Finding the Way
Short skill challenge: The PCs must find their way through the forest towards where the ring is pointing them.
- Round 1: As the PCs head deeper into the forest, the ground quickly becomes damp and marshy, the trees look wretched and tortured. For each 2 failures this round, the party take a minor minus to skills from exhaustion for the next round and low damage. If any PCs beat the DC by a large amount or roll a crit, then the next player to go gets a minor bonus to their roll.
- Athletics/Acrobatics: low. The PCs can climb a tree to try and spot what’s going on ahead, there appears to be a clearing to the south.
- Arcana (Ring bearer only): low. The Ring Bearer can try to tune into the ring’s power to get a clearer reading.
- Endurance: medium. The PCs can steel themselves against the environment, grinning a bearing it. This halves environmental damage they take this round if successful. (Can only be used by 2 PCs each round, if used by more, the party does not progress and the round must be repeated).
- History: medium. The PCs can search their knowledge of landmarks to think about ruins and steer the party towards an ancient ruin.
- Nature: medium. The PCs can use their knowledge of nature to find animal paths and the natural flow of the forest.
- Perception: medium-high. The PCs can use their keen eyes to spot telltale signs of people passing this way.
- Round 2: The party are now deep within the dark forest, it’s getting harder to see and much colder. The party has been walking in the woods for hours, it is heading towards night and the ground too boggy, the trees too twisted for them to camp. It is almost as if the forest itself is trying to prevent you from going further. For each 2 failures this round, the party take medium damage each (2 failures add on another 2 hours without rest). If any PCs roll crit, then the next player to go gets a minor bonus to their roll.
- Athletics/Acrobatics: medium. The forest is denser here and requires more strength/dexterity to get through the canopy. If you can get through you spot signs of a village up ahead.
- Arcana (Ring bearer only): very low. The Ring is much easier to read. If the Ring Bearer is not yet charmed they must roll another save against charm.
- Endurance: medium. Same as before.
- History: high. You recognise signs of an ancient city under the foliage. You appear to be on the main road into town.
- Nature: medium. Same as before.
- Perception: high. The light is dimmer now but there is a chaos of different tracks for someone who knows how to see them.
Outskirts of Amerstale:
Immediately after the skill challenge is complete, the party stumbles out of the forest surprising a band of goblin warriors and whatever they have summoned by using the ring earlier.
If the party wish to run away, this is possible but will have to be a small skill challenge.
- Running Away: 6 success vs 3 failures
- Acrobatics: low. Dodging
- Athletics: medium. Running
- Bluff: low. Feinting
- History: medium. Remembering where hiding places would be in a ruin.
- Perception: medium. Spotting hiding places.
- Stealth: low. Hiding in plain sight.
- Streetwise: high. Intuiting layout and hiding places.
If the party fails, combat is entered anyway.
Once combat is completed the PCs have time to look around and see that they’re in the ruins of what looks like an ancient township. They can see the ruins of a city wall and crumbling structures all around. If they climb up, they can see the ruins stretch up to a smaller, more hodgepodge wall further along and, beyond that, they can see a towering, dark castle in a style not know in a thousand years.
Note: The ring-bearer can now use the ring to summon anything they like to their immediate position but do not tell the players, they must work it out on their own. PCs may only summon things that they have seen or witnessed. All creations will disappear once the ring is destroyed or they are brought beyond the town’s limits.
The Village of Amerstale
As the PCs venture further into the village, they see signs of active destruction everywhere, apart from the usual decay of extreme time. They hear howling and sounds of fighting everywhere. They see flashes of movement down alleyways.
SIDE NOTE: If the PCs investigate the houses they can find (Perception: low) an antique necklace (low bonus to history – medium price) and a small child’s doll, (History: low) rare and stitched in an antiquated fashion (See Lordling Inne). Other than that they find nothing but ruins, smashed pots and dust.
If the PCs go looking for trouble, they come across a swarm of ice drakes, feeding on the corpses of a band of Southern Gnolls. Dungeoneering: low They know that these species should never interact with each other in this region of the world.
As they get closer to the castle they see signs of life in the village. The houses look like they’ve been maintained somewhat, although there is still no real sign of people. As they walk past a large, robust looking building, they hear a Psst! noise.
The PCs see that the door has cracked open although it’s hard in the night time darkness to see anything inside. If any PCs have darkvision, they can make out a small figure, wrapped in cloth.
This is Deirdre, a halfling alewife. She is very suspicious and half-convinced that the PCs are summonings of the ring. She won’t let them in straight away but questions them in a strange dialect. Intelligence/Knowledge: low to understand her. She begins by asking them if they’re real, then who they are.
At this point, the PCs hear a large ruckus heading towards them, it sounds like a wrenching scream, trailing into a howl and smashing noises. The PCs then have a short time to convince Deirdre to let them in. They have a minor minus to rolls below if they failed the Intelligence dialect check.
- Diplomacy: Begging for mercy or appealing to her better nature will allow a medium DC. Flattery or any other approach will mean a high DC.
- Bluff: Claiming that they’re here to free her people or part of a prophecy will mean a medium DC. If PCs lie any other way, very high DC, as she’s already suspicious.
- Intimidate: Any attempt to intimidate will convince her not to take the risk and the door slams.
PCs will get 2 tries to convince her to let them in. If the PCs don’t manage to convince her then a pack of 5 enormous Owlbear races around the corner. If they are still unable to understand her or persuade her then she will slam the door at this point.
Combat will then initiate with the 5 Owlbears (which are all minions/low HP as they have been previously summoned by the ring). This will continue until all the owlbears are dead or one of the party is bloodied.
Once the party is bloodied, Deirdre will immediately open the door to them and usher them in, as the Ring’s summonings do not bleed. The party must then escape combat with a simple Athletics/Acrobatics/Strength check. If failed, they take an Opportunity attack by the closest Owlbears.
The Lordling Inne
Inside you see a small group of halflings, humans, elves, dwarves etc. They all seem young but with old, tired eyes. They are scared and huddled in the corner of the room. This looks like an inn that has been converted into a dormitory.
All of the residents of the Inn are terrified of you and cannot be persuaded to interact except a little girl who eyes the doll with avid eyes. She will silently take the doll and give a smile then hand the PCs a small brown stone.
Side Note: if the PCs return the doll to the girl waiting in this room then she will reward them with a small gem (1 use – allows a reroll by manipulating time to replay the last 20 seconds).
If the PCs still cannot communicate with Deirdre, she will wave over a young, ragged halfling who bears a family resemblance to her. He will explain that he is her nephew and will translate for her.
Deirdre will tell you that they have been stuck inside the inn for months, the waves of monsters come and go. If you show her the ring she blanches and says it’s the Duchess’ ring. She says they are cursed by that ring.
She tells you the story of how they came to be trapped there. The Duchess was once a kindly ruler with a love of mischief and laughter. One day the God of Tricks fell in love with her. He disguised himself as a mortal and they began a passionate affair. He pledged to marry her and make her a God but she didn’t believe his tales. She scorned and mocked him, believing him nothing more than a peasant boy, and in her arrogance, she threw away the ring.
All know that, although the God of Tricks delights in humiliating others, he cannot bear to be embarrassed. On that day, the whole village was cursed to live with her mistake until the angry God’s vengeful spell could be broken. The ring, once a symbol of love, is now the symbol of their torment. The day the curse was born, an awful shadowbeast appeared and the forest grew dark and dense. Any people of the village who entered the forest never returned, but they hear their screams echo even now.
Deirdre begs you to break the curse on them and confront the Duchess and her Shadowbeast. She says the God of Tricks had a secret way into the Tower for their trysts, it begins in the Garden of Lovers. She allows the PCs some beds to rest up in before they begin.
Garden of Lovers
The PCs arrive in the Garden of Lovers. It is an overgrown mess of briars and brambles with old statues dotted throughout. Within is a monument to love, a couple embracing and below, the text in Old Common:
A gift of True Love shall open the way.
The PCs can use the ring to summon a true love’s gift, illusions will also work. The gift can be anything that the PC’s have ever given a true love (including family members). If the PCs get stuck, they can try destroy the statue (medium HP) but this will lead to consequences later (see The Dutchess).
Once they do, the monument opens into a tunnel. There are murals on the wall of the tunnel and what looks like it was once black rose vines. The murals tell the story of a young girl who falls in love with a spirit but as the story goes on, the girl is scratched over and torn, as though someone has tried to erase the images.
The PCs are attacked by an ambush vine and some shadows. During the battle, the ring-bearer hears a woman’s voice weeping while the others hear a spectral voice telling them to head back.
The PCs surface in a bedchamber that is covered in thick dust. Within they find a portrait of the girl, young and beautiful. There are no tracks in the dust.
The ring-bearer feels that the Duchess is very close and can guide the PCs to a throne room. If there is no ring-bearer, then the PCs can make a History: low check to know the right way to go. If they fail, they are lost and take low damage from exhaustion.
Within the throne room is the Duchess, looking young and absolutely beautiful. She orders the party to leave. The ring-bearer must immediately save against domination (very high). She monologues about how none of this is her fault and falls to ranting. The shadowy Gatekeeper appears and swirls around her anxiously.
When the party refuses to leave, the Duchess orders the Gatekeeper to attack (he is the boss combat encounter so should be challenging). Once they defeat him, he turns back into the corpse of a young man. The Duchess cries out with pain and cradles the body, which ages and crumbles to dust in her arms.
After that, the party must try to convince the Duchess to put on the ring. She tells them that she was never in love with the Trickster God. Just impressed with him and then she met Matin, the young man. They fell in love but the God killed him and cursed him to remain ever insubstantial, a shade that could do harm to others but could never touch his love without killing her. She realised that they could never be free whilst the ring was around so she sent Matin’s shade out to send it far away.
The PCs can either convince her to wear the ring with a series of high diplomacy checks (possible skill challenge?) or fight her (weak HP but high damage) and kill her. They may also force the ring onto her finger, in which case she will return to her true age and die.
Once the ring is on her finger (alive or dead), the curse will be lifted and all summonings of the ring will disappear.