A town is situated around a large, deep pit (fenced off by a low-stone wall). According to the locals, the town used to have a successful mining operation a long time ago; workers would descend into the pit and dig valuable ore out of the earth. However, near the bottom, the miners ran into trouble with wyrms.
“They still glare up at us,” a local woman tells the party, before she hesitantly peers down into the pit. She gives a sigh of relief, “I don’t see them right now, thank goodness, but it seems that, every day, at least someone spots them, sitting down there, concealed in darkness, staring up with their judgmental glowing yellow eyes. They’ve been observing us for decades now, and we fear they may launch an attack soon. Tremors have picked up as of late, like they have a whole army of wyrms marching and training.”
An elderly man boldly steps up to the edge of the pit and throws a handful of salt down below. “Hope your eyes like that, you peepin’ good-for-nothing wyrms!”
The party can offer to investigate the strange glowing eyes and, perhaps, eliminate the creatures down below if they are truly a threat.
“Thank you so much,” the woman says, “Maybe they are just really nosy or bored or something. I mean, I like to people-watch as much as the next person, but until we have a clear answer, we are fearing for the worst.”
The town helps the players descend into the pit using some of the old mining harnesses/pulley systems. During the descent, the old cables make unsettling noises, as though they might break at any moment (optional: have the party roll for a chance of one of the cables fraying and snapping).
If it’s midday or something close to it, sunlight filters down into the pit from above and, just as the townsfolk claimed, glowing yellow eyes glare up at the descending party members. Any attempts to frighten the creatures or strike them from above will do nothing; the creatures will not even flinch in response, remaining completely unblinking, even if players drop things down directly into their “eyes.”
Getting to the Bottom of Things
Once the players reach the bottom and unstrap their harnesses, they find that the pit opens up in all directions to a series of tunnels and large open caverns. The floor is littered with old bones (humanoid), rusted weapons, and pieces of armor. It becomes immediately clear to the party that the “yellow eyes looking up” at the townsfolk were simply a few select pieces of golden armor, each piece still occupied by some skeletal remains. Looking around, there is no sign of any “wyrms.”
If the players cast “identify” on the golden armor, they can learn about the special bonuses/characteristics associated with each piece:
- Wormguard Cuirass: +1 magic armor, covered in spines. It grants resistance to acid/poison.
- Wormguard Helmet: Once per day, the wearer of this helmet can cast a special version of “Enlarge” on themselves, expanding their size immediately to “Huge” (15 feet by 15 feet).
- Wormguard Boots: The wearer of these boots hovers 6 inches above the ground at all times, making them undetectable to creatures with Tremorsense.
The players can continue to explore the area, especially now that the mystery of the “glowing yellow eyes” has led to a new mystery: what sort of battle took place down here?
In the nearby caverns, the players can see an abundance of gold and other untapped ore.
If they stomp around the area long enough, they hear and feel a rumbling beneath them. Suddenly, an enormous purple worm bursts up through the ground, releasing a hungry screech.
DM Note: If the party chooses not to explore and trigger combat with the purple worm (of if they try to flee), the worm can pursue them, launching up through the pit and battling them in the city proper (just be ready for a lot of property damage).
We Have a Bigger Problem
Roll initiative for the battle with the worm. If the creature attempts to burrow into the ground again and launch a surprise attack, any players dangling from their cables (feet off the ground) or wearing the Wormguard Boots will not be able to be targeted through the worm’s tremorsense.
Additionally, the worm’s bite attack cannot swallow any player wearing the Wormguard Cuirass (due to the spines). If the worm lands a bite attack and succeeds in swallowing a player wearing the Wormguard Helmet, as a reaction, the player may activate it, becoming “Huge” in size and forcing the worm to spit them back out immediately.
Once the party has defeated the purple worm, the pit becomes incredibly silent; it seems as though this was the only creature burrowing down below, causing the unsettling tremors.
They can now safely ascend back to the surface.
“Ohhh, they were talking about worms, not wyrms!” A townsperson says, sparking everyone else to say a revelatory “Ahhh” in unison. “Guess that’s a likely mistake when history is passed down orally,” she adds with a shrug.
As a reward for helping, the party is allowed to keep the golden armor, especially since the people of the town have come to despise the “staring yellow eyes” for so long. As DM, you can choose to add a monetary reward if you so desire, especially since it’s implied that the town might relaunch their lucrative mining operation now that the subterranean threat has been eliminated.