A group of dwarves are gathered outside of a mountain cave entrance. They are all talking quietly amongst themselves, looking incredibly concerned.
If the party approaches the group, the dwarves will, at first, get defensive, but then drop their guard if you seem earnest/have a dwarf in your party who can smoothly facilitate introductions.
“We really messed up,” one says, running his fingers anxiously through his beard. “A traveling cult arrived at our village, preaching the doctrine of the Great Bearded Dragon and condemning anyone who didn’t have a full and luscious beard.”
“Yeah, and thanks to our egos, we totally fell for it,” another full-bearded dwarf says, “we got so caught up in the paranoia, and so proud of our own apparently divine beards, that we let the cult lock away many of our less-hairy brethren.”
They explain how they have since seen the error of their ways, have run the Cult of the Bearded Dragon out of their lands, and have freed all of their captured friends. Well, all of their captured friends…except for four.”
“They just insisted we leave them behind in their cell.” the dwarf continues, gesturing into the open mouth of the cave. “They’re part of a barbershop quartet, you see. The Inquisition didn’t much like their handlebar mustaches and decided to keep them at the bottom of a pit. We went in and threw a rope down into the darkness, but they just ignored it. They kept singing their barbershop tunes on and on. When we asked why they wanted to stay, they said something about how the acoustics in the pit were so good and that the swinging pendulum blade provided the perfect rhythmic metronome. Something about it just doesn’t seem right though…”
The dwarves are at a loss of what to do. The quartet’s food and water rations are getting dangerously low, so they won’t survive much longer if left there. The party can agree to have a look themselves and enter into the mountain cave.
As the party walks down the corridor, descending deeper and deeper into the mountain, they pass an assortment of empty rooms and cells. There are still some leftover banners of the Bearded Dragon cult hanging from the walls, although most lay in tattered/burned heaps on the floor.
Eventually, the party starts to hear the sound of singing. After another minute of walking, the corridor leads to an open room. Various torture equipment hangs from the walls, including a pendulum blade swinging slowly and consistently from side to side. A pit sits in the very center of the room. Looking down into the opening, the players won’t be able to see anything because of a veil of magical darkness filling the shaft.
The sound of the quartet’s singing, however, is still able to pass up through the dark pit with relative ease, resonating in the space. Strangely though, the song is very out of tune. Three of the vocalists are blending perfectly, although their voices sound a little hoarse and tired from overuse. The 4th voice, who is clearly the bass, is loudly croaking unsettling and discordant notes alongside the beautiful harmonies of the others.
If the players spark conversation, the quartet will stop their singing and speak. As expected, they give the same excuses as they gave their dwarven brethren earlier: that they don’t want to leave because the pit acoustics are perfect, and they are going to stay in the pit forever and ever.
In order to truly see what’s going on, the players need to either find a way to dispel the magical darkness (either through spells or, perhaps, finding a control mechanism in the prison warden’s office) or descend into the pit regardless of not being able to see the bottom.
The Beat(down) Drops
Mostly likely, the party will want to drop down into the pit. When they clear the magical darkness, they find an alarming sight.
Three of the dwarves are there, although their once-tidy handlebar mustaches are now replaced with disheveled, unkempt beards expected of prisoners. The fourth dwarf, however, is simply a pile of bones that has been picked clean.
The creature to blame is a large stone golem called a galeb duhr. The monster can only speak Terran and Dwarven. According to the lore, galeb duhr love to sing, but their gravelly discordant voices are often unsettling to human ears.
“Oh, have you come down to listen to us perform?” one of the dwarves asks nervously. “We have quite the troupe, don’t you think? We are so happy that this galeb duhr showed up and devoured our bass. He never quite meshed with the group, and our sound is so much better now that we’ve replaced him with a rock monster, wouldn’t you agree, everyone?”
The other two dwarves nod in agreement, forcing smiles.
They are clearly being kept under duress, forced to sing along with this galeb duhr or else befall the same fate as their comrade.
At this point, the party needs to decide how best to proceed:
- Destroy: If the party chooses to fight the monster, the trio of dwarves will be too weak and exhausted to offer much assistance. Additionally, the galeb duhr has the advantage in this fairly small subterranean chamber.
- Roleplay: The party could always present themselves as agents, maybe in an effort to convince the galeb duhr that the troupe can sign a music deal and become traveling performers.
- Rescue: The party can find a way to get the barbershop trio out of the pit while distracting the galeb duhr. Afterward, unless they want to be pursued, they will need to somehow cave-in the old Dwarven prison (or at least fill the pit where the galeb duhr is sitting).
If the party is able to eliminate the threat and bring the musical trio safely out of the dungeon, they will be given a special hat called the Hat of Harmony.
“Aside from some bones, this was all that was left of our bass, Barry,” the tenor dwarf says. “We know he would have wanted you to have it.”
This Hat of Harmony provides bonuses to any sound-based attacks (up to the DM to decide, but I would suggest any spells that involve buzzwords like “sonic”, “voice”, or even “thunder”). The amount of the bonus depends on how many allies you have near you at the time of casting:
- +1 to attack roll and damage if 1 ally is within 5 feet of player.
- +2 to attack roll and damage if 2 allies are within 5 feet of player.
- +3 to attack roll and damage if 3 allies are within 5 feet of player (thereby completing the quartet).
The other dwarves will apologize for letting the inquisitorial squad take the quartet away in the first place and even confess that they were actually quite fond of the handlebar mustaches. The trio forgives them and sings one final mournful tune in honor of their fallen comrade Barry.