The party arrives at a town at the base of a large, rocky mountain. Looking up, they see an unusual and foreboding sight: a thick cloud of purple miasma hangs draped around the peak of the mountain.
Some of the townspeople are packing their bags or making efforts to, at the very least, seal shut their windows and stuff rags in the cracks beneath their doors.
When the party struts in, looking unapologetically heroic, the townsfolk exchange hopeful whispers. The gathering of eager onlookers separates, and an old cleric walks up to the party, dressed in white robes that are adorned with embroidered silver and gold dragons.
“Finally, an answer to our prayers!” the man exclaims joyously. “We knew Bahamut would deliver you unto us.”
If your party asks what’s happening, the cleric will explain the following bit of historical info:
- For centuries, the village has enjoyed the protection that comes with sitting at the base of the mountain.
- At the very top of the mountain, in a cave, resides an ancient golden dragon named Halitosis (affectionately called “Hal” for short).
- “Hal” has been an excellent deterrent against other foul beasts from entering their lands, and he is no real threat to mankind because he exclusively feasts on cheeses.
“The only issue we face,” the cleric continues, “is that.” He points up toward the mountain to the swirling purple miasma.
“Hal sleeps for decades at a time, and his cheese-only diet does nothing for his breath. While he sleeps, his breath worsens. The cloud you see there is evidence.”
At this point, a young boy, dressed in cleric-in-training robes, will stumble up to the priest and hold out a long, narrow crate.
“We have a tradition here,” the cleric continues, sliding open the lid of the small box, “before Hal awakens from one of his slumbers, a brave and able-bodied adventurer ascends the mountain and freshens Hal’s breath…with this.”
At this moment, he delicately pulls out a small wand adorned with vibrant green mint leaves. Immediately, the smell of fresh mint floods the nostrils of the party.
“Unfortunately, our chosen one from decades earlier has passed, and our current chosen one has fallen ill from the miasma and retreated back down the mountain. I fear that, if we don’t find someone who is able to ascend the mountain and freshen Hal’s breath soon, then he will awaken with a mighty yawn that will send poisonous miasma flooding our streets, killing all of our crops and livestock, poisoning our water supply, and…perhaps,” he puts a gentle palm on the child’s head, “put the lives of our most vulnerable at risk. People have taken to calling it the upcoming ApocHALypse.”
Turning back to the party, the cleric says, “please. We will reward you as best we can. Our town is a chief exporter of some of the finest cheeses in the realm, and we have plenty of gold. Will you help us?”
If the party accepts the quest, they will be given The Sprig of Mint.
The Sprig of Mint can do the following:
- Emit a 15-foot cone of minty goodness, cutting through/destroying miasma. Any creature struck by the spell smells “minty fresh” for 1-hour and must make a constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 1d6 cold damage.
- Can cure one creature of poisoning and settle upset stomachs (3 charges per day)
Once the party has been given the magic wand, they are directed to the winding path up the mountain.
Into the Mists
As the party advances up the mountain, they will notice how the environment begins to change. Vegetation starts to disappear, and players stop hearing birdsong or signs of other wildlife. This is, of course, natural when increasing elevation, but the party can easily determine (through a low-DC insight/investigation check) that this devastation is primarily due to the cloud of miasma.
As they near the entrance to the cave and step into the thickness parts of the miasma, every player must make a constitution saving throw or be poisoned for the duration.
When the party enters the cave, they hear the loud, rumbling snore of the great ancient dragon Hal. He sits atop his hoard of cheeses, wrapped in a blanket of putrid purple miasma. His large mouth hangs open as he breathes steadily.
As your party approaches the dragon, one of the members needs to, with wand at the ready, blast Hal’s open mouth with an icy cool freshness. Whoever does so, must make another constitution saving throw or be poisoned.
Once the party succeeds at freshening Hal’s breath, the air immediately begins to thin a little, although the cave is still a disgusting place to be.
However, at this moment, the party hears the sound of defensive squeaking from behind the piles of cheese.
Roll for initiative.
For this fight, you can decide what types of plague-related creatures will appear in the dragon’s cave, but it should be noted that Hal is a heavy sleeper and won’t stir for the duration.
Some possible creatures that you can throw at your party, although admittedly very low-leveled encounters, could be Diseased Giant Rats which makes the most sense of a cheese hoard or Twig Blights because of all the dead/dying flora. Of course, zombie cheese thieves or something of the like could also be fun.
Regardless, once the creatures are defeated, the party makes their trek back down the mountainside.
The cleric and the rest of the townsfolk are thrilled and relieved at your return, already noting how the sky around the mountain is clearing, and the purple vapors are dissipating. At this point, since it’s the village’s most prized possession and a key tool for their survival, the Sprig of Mint will need to be returned.
For your efforts, the village will award the party with 100 GP. Additionally, you could throw in some exotic cheeses or cheese-related items if you’d like. Here are a couple of ideas that I’ve tossed around, but I’m not sold on any of them yet…
- Enchanted “Sharp” Cheddar-Once consumed, the character receives a +1 to all attack and damage rolls that involve anything with a blade: slashing or piercing.
- Swiss Army Knife-A knife that has decorative holes in the blade like Swiss cheese. It can deal the standard 1d4 slashing damage for a knife but also includes a can opener, nail file, lockpick, etc.
- The Spearmint-Admittedly, not a cheese…however, if your party got attached to the Sprig of Mint, then this can be a nice weapon alternative. In addition to piercing damage, it can do the 1d6 cold damage as well as inflict “minty freshness” status on targets. From a story perspective, the cleric can say how they used to use this item as Hal’s toothpick but found the wand to be much easier.