Our first release of 2021 has arrived, and as the lead writer, I wanted to introduce The Sleep of Reason our next 5e adventure. It’s a social-investigation mystery designed for 3rd level players, and you can find it right here in our store, or on DriveThruRPG.
It took awhile to bring this adventure together. It’s easily the longest adventure we’ve published at 52 pages (including appendices). Besides the adventure itself, the bundle includes several useful tools that any DM might find useful. There’s a swampy hex-crawl, 8 battlemaps, 2 town maps, and 6 brand new creatures. There are new player options, too, and even “Advanced Rules for Social Encounters” in the form of Social Moves for Heroes.
The Story So Far
But, first, a bit more about this 5e adventure. The Sleep of Reason takes place in two small towns: Bassu and Inloc. Between the towns is a swamp, the natural watershed of this hilly region. Seventy odd years ago that swamp became the home of Crumtilda Mossybottom, a night hag. She killed the swamp’s reigning apex predator, a huge snake, known as Sassa-Nanna. The hag made the snake’s corpse her home, and from there began thoroughly enjoying her cruel plots against the two towns.
Crumtilda has been collecting souls from the townsfolk all this time, returning to the hells to barter them. But now her plan to destroy the towns is coming to fruition, as she haunts the leaders of both places, driving them mad with nightmares. The leaders, Nurana Flatwater of Bassu and Wavering Blades of Inloc, believe that the other wants them dead. Both are certain the rival town wishes to see their home destroyed.
Meanwhile, Crumtilda has also appeared to a number of Inlocans and converted them to a new religious following. In her disguise as a beautiful maiden, Crumtilda has manipulated many into believing in her, rather than the nature gods of worshipped by the majority of Inloc. The rise of this cult has embittered Wavering Blades who perceives any threat to her control as existential. Inloc and its people now walk a tightrope between authoritarianism and outright war on Bassu.
In Bassu, Nurana faces threat of their own. The large flightless birds known as torchis have become the prey of foul denizens of the swamps. Predators from the Fetid Fen have never come this far from the swamp before, and the town’s herds have thinned dramatically. Citizens are hungry, and Bassuvians are desperate for relief and blame Inloc for all their troubles.
That’s the backdrop for the story. Trouble is brewing at every turn, and the characters must figure out what’s going on and navigate the politics of both places.
A hag was a perfect choice for a 5e adventure about two towns being pulled apart. Hags delight in tormenting humanoids, they live basically forever. Night hags in particular can manipulate their victims even in their dreams. I really wanted to capture the feeling of having to work with characters who were basically beyond reason. Leaders who were unable to do what their people needed of them.
Crumtilda wants to see these two towns fight it out, and to watch them tear each other apart, and after that she plans on leaving the swamp forever. As part of her final act, she has created a cult of followers in Inloc. Inloc is a kind of theocracy, so the existence of this new cult is a thorn in the side of their leadership.
As a hag, she’s kept her profile low, only revealing herself to a few people over the years. Thus, when the characters first arrive on the scene, they will have no idea who or what the threat truly is. And only by piecing together the clues, will they discover just who is behind all the trouble.
A Mystery with Multiple Paths
As far as 5e adventures go, The Sleep of Reason offers players (and the DM) lots of choice. I wanted to create a kind of sandbox feel for both towns, making them more player-driven, while still providing enough structure to make it easy for the DM.
The adventure includes hyperlinks and a flowchart to help DMs navigate it. Players could spend quite a bit of time in either town, even traveling back and forth between them as they work to establish relations between the people in both places. After all, a night hag is a terrifying foe, and 3rd level characters will have trouble dealing with Crumtilda alone.
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