This week’s adventure is a nod to ChattyDM, who has always been a fantastically positive presence in the D&D community. If you haven’t already, check out his blog and follow him on twitter; he’s full of useful information, ideas (to steal!), and is always eager to discuss the fun and possibilities of DMing.
I based the idea of the skull and ice elementals from a post he had a while back, and in general the encounter is full of a bunch of poorly-written and poorly-hidden puns. I didn’t originally plan to make Chatty himself the villain, but it just all fit oh-so-perfectly with the theme, and if I’ve learned anything from reading his blog–he’d be thrilled to know players everywhere are teaming up to take him down and shut him up!
Note: this map is really big, so if you’re not planning on printing it out to use, I’d recommend loading the mapless pdf.
Musings of the Chattering Skull is a standalone encounter designed for five 16th to 18th-level adventurers. A wizard’s skull has taken up residence in a frozen citadel, protected by icy servitors as it torments a nearby town. The players need to enter the stronghold and shatter the skull, fighting elemental servitors and the icy power of the wizard.
Built into caverns behind the towering canyon walls of the frozen north, the town of Ibgoln is one of the few places along the northern passage where passersby can find shelter from the relentless weather. Carved into ornate storefronts, the outer wall of each cavern warms the hearts and minds of weary travelers, promising a soft bed, a hot meal, and a good night’s sleep. Adventurers from all across the icy tundra count the days until the canyons come into view, braving the elements in search of a night free from the howling winds, cracking ice, and pounding hail. To those navigating the frozen north, the town offers a much needed respite—Ibgoln is the calm and peaceful eye of a savage storm.
At least it used to be. For months now, the town has known few quiet nights—or days, for that matter. An ancient stronghold, buried long ago by an massive blizzard, has come back to life under the rule of a wizard named Menardo, a once-prominent elementalist. Though he died years ago in a devastating avalanche, a twisted version of Menardo’s soul has been resurrected within his skull, which lies frozen behind a wall of ice, deep within the citadel. Known to most as the Chattering Skull, Menardo has taken control of the citadel, sending forth icy elemental servitors to attack Ibgoln and the nearby passage.
As inconvenient as the elemental attacks are, the town is never in much danger—the buildings, after all, were designed to protect against the harshest weather imaginable. The problem comes with Menardo’s epithet; the chattering skull talks, endlessly, magically amplifying its voice to a deafening volume. The skull critiques, threatens, and brazenly mocks any and all residents of Ibgoln, its continuous stream of insults echoing in the canyons and caverns below. Night and day, Menardo prattles on, promising doom upon the town, the travelers, and the world itself.
Unable to find a moment of silence for rest or sleep, many adventurers have climbed the walls and attacked the citadel. Few return alive, and their failures are revisited often by the chattering skull, who excitedly retells the tales of their defeat. Now, after months of the incessant talk, travelers have begun to avoid the town altogether, preferring to sleep miles away in the midst of howling winds and icy rain—anything to escape the chattering skull and find the slightest bit of peace and quiet. Back in Ibgoln, a grand bounty waits for any adventurers able to shut the chattering skull up, proving what most travelers already knew—a little silence is worth a lot.