As the party walks through town, a group of the towns leaders are whispering and pointing at the party. One gnome woman turns around and coughs loudly, clearing her throat, her clothes are adorned with flakes of gold. “Hail, adventurers, I hope you are enjoying our spectacular town! We’ve, uh, got a request if you’re open to it. You see, there’s this moaning that we’ve noticed from ‘The Dungeon’ and we’re worried about what might be in there.”
The group nods vigorously in agreement, sharing the worried sentiment. If they ask additional questions, the party can learn that the town mortician has also gone missing, and they think it may be related, but they’re too scared to investigate themselves. If the party asks about ‘The Dungeon’ the townsfolk will note that they call the morgue ‘The Dungeon,’ “the most dangerous in the realm because no one makes it out alive.” “Yeah, but people are dying to get in there,” the townsfolk will chuckle, extremely amused with themselves.
Any additional questions, the townsfolk will note there have been more deaths lately after a much more chaotic group of adventurers came through and tore up the town. If the party needs additional enticement at this point the townsfolk can offer gold or golden objects.
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
Heading toward the dungeon, the party hears the moaning the townsfolk were concerned about coming from within the dungeon. The “dungeon” appears to be a building that is built into the ground, with steps receding into the earth and sealed with a large door. The door is unlocked, so the party can head on in.
Torches light the rooms that lie in front of the party and the walls are all made of stone. The color is neutral and smell is sterile, but the party can see glints of gold throughout the room as they go. In front of them, they see a hulking adolescent Cadaver Collector grabbing a few different bodies and lifting them into the air. It is unclear initially if the Cadaver Collector is good or bad, but if the party leaves it alone, it will not attack them.
DMs Note: If you’re looking to add combat, this is likely a good time. You could add some giant spiders, kobolds attempting to remove bodies, a bone golem attempting to repair itself by stealing bits and bones, or you could lean into the Cadaver Collector being more intimidating and scary.
“Unghhhhhhhh,” the party hears the moan getting louder, it appears to be a female’s voice and is becoming less of a moan and more of a pained groan at this point. “Where’d you run off to Gary?!” If the party has not been hostile, the Cadaver Collector (apparently named Gary), will look up and plod toward a large door in the back of the room, a body in each hand.
He leaves behind him several other dead bodies, laying on slabs of some sort. Gary dips into the next room and out of sight. The party resumes dungeon exploration.
If the party follows, the will jump straight to where Aurora Pyrite is located. If they go a different directions, they may encounter some little baddies, traps, or whatever interesting bits you’d like to throw at them.
DMs Note: We don’t want to pigeonhole you into a particular map so instead we’ll set up the various rooms and situations.
- ‘The Dungeon’ is a dimly lit underground dwelling with stone walls, heavy wooden doors, and ceilings that are 10 feet high
- There are at least 5 rooms, described below, most are decorated with various tools for preparing bodies for burial
- The initial room is the largest, with the Cadaver Collector, about 20 bodies on slabs, and a 30×40 room.
- Travelling into one of the rooms will trigger several gold bodies to fall on whoever entered, causing 3d8 bludgeoning damage unless they get a DC12 DEX save to roll out of the way. At the back of this room is a chest full of gold hearts, it is unclear if these can be sold or if they would cause conflict. If the party detects magic in some form or fashion, they can determine the hearts were real hearts at some point that were turned into gold through magic.
- Another room contains standard enbalming materials, some books on preparing bodies for burial, and one motivational book titled “You’ve Got The Golden Ticket, Yourself” There are also some potion containers, other alchemical substances and a pile of gold flakes
- The furthest back room has more bodies, some completely gold, some in varying states of decay.
About Aurora Pyrite
Aurora is the town mortician and has been for many years at this point. She is revered as excellent at her job, and well-regarded within the community. Aurora is also well-known for her gold embalming, a costly but highly sought after treatment of the deceased. The townsfolk have increased their gold embalming orders in recent months, causing a large backlog of orders.
When the party first encounters Aurora, she will be groaning and rolling around on the floor, bits of her body have a gold gleam. They’ll likely notice her eye first as she stumbles around the room, bumping into her tools, shelves, and tables.
“Gahhhh,” she exclaims, “stupid eye, I had an itch and forgot that anything I touch turns to gold!” She rubs it again and the golden eye expands out a little further. She shrieks and stumbles into another table.
Gary grunts and attempts to calm her down, but she swats him away. “I’m fine Gary! Now, as I was saying,” she looks to the left of the party, unable to see exactly where they are. “I was attempting to improve my operational efficiency by concocting a potion for Flesh to Gold (similar to Flesh to Stone) in order to embalm these bodies in gold much faster. Sure it increases their weight, but that’s what I’ve got Gary for!” Gary grunts in agreement.
“After several bouts of gold poisoning, I solved it and was able to begin transforming the bodies to gold. The problem was I kept forgetting about my new powers and, well, there ya have it.” She points to her eye and her gold finger, and a gold tankard filled with gold liquid. “The potion was so powerful that I don’t know how to undo the effects. You have to help me.”
At this point the party can choose to help by using dispel magic, or some such thing to get Aurora back to normal. They could also choose to leave her alone so she can continue her work and report back, or they could murder everyone and steal all the gold for the next town they travel to.
If the party decides to help Aurora, she will offer them any of the gold body parts she’s got in stock OR the recipe for a Lesser Potion of Flesh to Gold. She can also pop back up in future adventures and examine bones in the future if needed.
After the party makes their decision, as they are heading out you can have them encounter some dungeon-based monsters or maybe something that is stealing bodies. Not in a gross way, but in a humerus way (bone puns!).