Trash Gremlins
Capture dretches for a wealthy patron in this oddball adventure!

Trash Gremlins is a Fifth Edition adventure for three to seven characters of 1st to 2nd level, and is optimized for 4 characters with an average party level (APL) of 1. Characters who survive this adventure should earn half of the XP required to reach the 2nd level.

This adventure takes place around a rundown city alleyway. This adventure assumes placement in the Blutstrom campaign setting. However, it can just as easily be placed in any campaign setting that has a city with winding side streets and demons.

Background

A pack of dretches slipped into the material plane and nested in a vacant apartment floor. Relieved of their duties in the eternal war by a stroke of luck, they’ve been picking through garbage in a nearby alley for food and getting into fights amongst themselves, inciting noise complaints from the nearby city folk.

Adventure Hooks

You can use the following adventure hooks to key your players up for this adventure.

Exotic Pet. A noble woman with a taste for exotic animals heard a rumor that there are squat, gorilla-shaped creatures with pale, rubbery skin and bristly hairs lurking in the city streets. The noble woman has offered 100 gp for the capture of such a creature so that she may domesticate it.

Noise Complaints. A small group of neighbors have put up a bounty of 50 gp for anybody that can deal with whatever creatures have been trashing the alleyway and fighting in the dead of night.

Questionable Meat. Local food connoisseur Brandar Starglade III offers to pay 50 gp for the characters to investigate the butcher’s shop and the adjacent alley. He believes they’re sourcing meat from the trash.

Cobblestone Street

Wet cobblestone streets twist and turn through the city of Blutstrom.

General Features

Unless otherwise noted, locations along the cobblestone street have the following features.

Ceilings. Indoors, the ceilings are typically 8 feet high and composed of wood.

Floors and Walls. The streets are made of cobblestone and thick clay. Indoors, most buildings have wooden floors and walls.

Doors. All of the buildings’ doors are made of wood and have AC 15, 18 hit points, and immunity to poison and psychic damage. Opening or closing a door requires a successful DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check.

Light. Outdoors, there are no sources of light in this alleyway at night. Indoors, buildings have enough lanterns to provide dim light throughout each room.

Climate. The city streets are cool and damp. Indoors, the temperature is kept comfortable by fireplaces.

Keyed Locations

The following locations are keyed to the map Cobblestone Streets.

1 - Alleyway

Characters may approach from the north or south. If the characters arrive during the day they can investigate the alleyway for clues. At night there is an encounter with a spry noble and dretches.

Day

If the characters arrive during daylight hours, read the following:

The clatter of footsteps and horse hooves echoes through the narrow cobblestone street. People dressed in tattered clothes pass through the side street, mostly minding their own business with the occasional heckling.

Investigating the Alleyway. Waste is strewn across the alley in heaps. Characters must make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Intelligence (Nature) check to learn more about the alley. See the table below for results of this check.

CheckResult

1-5

The character learns nothing and contracts the sewer plague disease (see Diseases in the core rulebook).

6-10

The character learns that a pack of small creatures tore through the trash looking for food.

11-15

The character learns that a pack of small creatures were looking for food. They also find a claw shedding and a patch of rubbery, pale skin.

16+

The character learns that a pack of small creatures were looking for food. They also find a claw shedding and patch of rubbery, pale skin that they correctly identify as belonging to a dretch, a gorilla-like demon grunt.

Night

If the characters arrive during the night, read the following:

The narrow cobblestone street is quiet, nary a soul walking through it. A faint rummaging can be heard from down the alleyway veering east and the silhouette of a man bracing the corner is visible in the moonlight.

Man at the corner. The man leering at the corner is a noble named Esmond Graye (LN male human spy). He shushes the characters as they approach. He is waiting for the creatures in the alley to find a paralyzing gem he left in the garbage so that he can capture one of them and sell it to a noblewoman that wants an exotic pet.

Encounter: Drunk Dretches. Three overstuffed dretches that have eaten too much and have disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls. They are rifling through the garbage in the alleyway. If they are not interrupted, after 10 minutes one of them accidentally eats a paralyzing gem (see below) and becomes paralyzed. At this point Esmond attempts to capture one of them. The dretches are Surprised and attempt to flee through some loose stone in the wall of the butcher shop.

Loose Stone. If the dretches fail to escape, the characters discover loose stone in the wall of the butcher shop and patches of fur around it.

Paralyzing gem. This amber gemstone is an uncommon wondrous item. While a creature is touching the gem, the creature must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become paralyzed for 1 minute. On a success, the creature is immune to the effects of the stone for 1 minute.

2 - Butcher Shop

The butcher shop is a three-room facility with a stairwell leading to apartments above. When the characters enter the shop, read the following:

Fresh meat dangles from hooks on the ceiling behind a large countertop.

Butcher. The butcher is named Maria. She is in the shop during the day. She has a room full of butchered humanoid bodies in the apartments upstairs and is therefore reluctant to allow characters to scour the premises, dissembling about how she has customers to attend to. If pressed, she can inform the characters that every morning when she arrives to open the shop, the alleyway is littered with trash thrown everywhere.

3 - Closet

Read the following:

The closet contains coats, boots, and an assortment of kitchen implements.

Encounter: Giant Rat. At night, there is one giant rat lurking in this room. Its movement speed is halved due to a half-dozen rat traps that cling to its feet and fur. It lashes out at any creature that gets within 5 feet of it.

4 - Kitchen

Read the following:

Several tables and counters fill this room. Equipment for cutting, preparing, and preserving meat with salts is scattered throughout.

Mud Trail. Skirting the eastern edge of the room is a trail of mud leading from the wall adjacent to the alleyway to the stairwell. A DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals several loose stones in the alley wall that could be pushed aside for a small creature to squeeze through.

Vacant Apartments

These old, worn down apartments are occupied by questionable tenants.

General Features

Unless otherwise noted, locations along the cobblestone street have the following features.

Ceilings. The ceilings are typically 8 feet high and composed of wood.

Floors and Walls. The apartments have worn wooden floors and walls that are clearly decaying.

Doors. The doors are made of wood and have AC 15, 18 hit points, and immunity to poison and psychic damage. Opening or closing a door requires a successful DC 18 Strength (Athletics) check or a successful DC 15 Dexterity check using proficiency in thieves’ tools.

Climate. The city streets are cool and damp. Indoors, the temperature is kept comfortable by fireplaces.

Light. Dim moonlight diffuses through the windows of the outer rooms.

Keyed Locations

The following locations are keyed to the Apartments map.

1 - Stairwell

Read the following:

A broken lantern hangs over this dark, 15-foot-long, 10-foot-wide stone stairwell.

Encounter: Spiders. There is one swarm of spiders at the top of the stairwell. They attack any creature that walks through their space, but do not chase creatures outside of the stairwell.

2 - Hallway

Read the following:

The wooden walls of this poorly lit 5-foot-wide hallway bend and crack under the weight of neglect. The musty smell of mold and burnt oil saturates the air.

Hazard: Mold. Mold grows in dark recesses of the wooden walls, and one patch covers a 5-foot square. If touched, the mold ejects a cloud of spores that fill a 10-foot cube originating from the mold. Any creature in the area must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or spend its action on its turn retching and reeling. Creatures that don’t need to breathe or are immune to poison automatically succeed on this saving throw.

3 - Large Apartment

Read the following:

This 35-foot wide by 10-foot long room has two half-open windows on the south wall and three rotting beds.

Treasure: Rotting Beds. Characters that investigate the beds and succeed on a DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check find a silver cloth choker (25 gp), a leather sash (25 gp), and 100 copper.

4 - Large Apartment

Read the following:

This 30-foot wide, 10-foot long room is strewn with the smashed remains of rotting furniture. It looks like the room once held a bed, desk, chest, and a chair. Two large bat-like shapes dangle from the ceiling.

Encounter: Stirges. There are two stirges hanging from the ceiling. They do not attack unless a character walks into the room.

5 - Small Apartment

Read the following:

The strong, sour-sweet scent of vinegar assaults the senses. Sundered casks and broken bottle glass line the walls of this room. A drunk gnoll waffles around the center of the room while a small, green gorilla-like creature snacks nearby.

Encounter: Gnoll and Dretch. There is one dretch and one overstuffed gnoll that has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls. When the characters enter the room the gnoll rolls around and demands more food while the dretch attempts to pat the characters down in search of snacks, attacking if it finds none.

6 - Square Apartment

This room is used by the butcher as a discrete meat locker for more controversial meats.

Read the following:

Corpses and pieces of corpses hang from hooks that dangle from chains attached to thick iron rings. Several thick leather sacks hang from hooks in the walls, and they are suspiciously wet and the leather looks extremely taut -- as if it’s under great strain. The butcher Maria is hurriedly taking down the meats and throwing them into a bin.

Encounter: Maria the Butcher. Maria is a chaotic evil human thug with the following changes:

  • She has resistance to cold, fire, and lightning damage.
  • She can read and speak Aabyssal.
  • She has darkvision out to 60 ft.
  • Maria attempts to pretend, poorly, that she doesn’t know who hung the bodies in this room up.

Bodies. If the characters look closer at the bodies, read the following:

Most appear humanoid but a few of the body parts appear more monstrous. You don’t see any heads, hands, or feet -- all seem to have been chopped or torn off. Neither do you see any guts in the horrible array.

Leather Sacks. A character that opens the leather sacks discovers that they are filled with guts.

7 - Cleaning Closet

Characters can see and hear the door handle rattling meekly.

Encounter: Dretch. A dretch is trapped inside of this closet. Through the door they attempt to bribe the characters with an origami flower to be let out.

If the characters let the dretch out peacefully, read the following:

A small, greasy looking creature steps out of the dark closet and extends its hands outward, holding a flacid rose made out of human flesh. The dretch gives a toothy smile.

8 - Communal Bathroom

Read the following:

This small room is lined with benchlike seats on all the walls. The seats all have holes in their tops, like a privy. Facing stones on the front of the benches disguise the depths of the hole. It looks like a communal bathroom. A single paper bag sits in the center of the room.

Trap: Paper Bag. When a creature picks up the paper bag it triggers a glyph of warding that casts stinking cloud (DC 12).

9 - Disheveled Apartment

Read the following:

The scent of earthy decay fills the room. Smashed bookcases and their sundered contents litter the floor. A collapsed bunk bed rests in a nook on the western wall. Two dretches are holding a cat and exchanging aggressive expressions.

Encounter: Dretches. There are two dretches holding a cat. They ask the characters which one of them should get to eat the cat. If the characters choose a dretch, the chosen dretch yanks the cat and begins eating it alive, scarfing it down in one round. The other dretch attacks the characters.

10 - Large Apartment

Read the following:

A cluster of low crates surrounds a barrel in the center of this chamber. Atop the barrel lies a stack of copper coins and two stacks of cards, one face up. A thin layer of dust covers everything. Clearly someone meant to return to their game of cards.

Barrel. When a creature moves within 10 feet of the barrel, a sharp hiss emits from within it. A DC 12 Wisdom (Survival) check reveals that it’s from a snake.

Encounter: Poisonous Snakes. When a creature moves within 5 feet of the barrel, a poisonous snake exits the barrel and attacks. Another poisonous snake exits from one of the crates and attacks.

Concluding the Adventure

At the end of the adventure the characters have dealt with an infestation of dretches, a gnoll, and a butcher with questionable relationships.

Adventure Hook Resolutions

There were three adventure hooks mentioned in the introduction. Here is the resolution for each adventure hook:

Exotic Pet. If the characters provide a living, breathing dretch to the noblewoman she pays them the 100 gp offered. She will pay 50 gp for each additional dretch.

Noise Complaints. The group of neighbors are horrified to learn what the source of the disruption was and eagerly pay the characters for their trouble.

Questionable Meat. Brandar Starglade III is horrified, but also deeply vindicated by the news that the butcher was using humanoid meat. He pays the characters for their trouble.