Morbius tells the story of conflicted antihero Michael Morbius as he battles the dark gifts he received due to a life-saving experiment. If you’re excited to see this dark tale play out on the big screen, you’ll love what’s in store for you in the free Dungeons & Dragons adventure Terror of the Night. This adventure will pit your players against a conflicted antihero, similar to Morbius, who is just trying to do what he thinks is right after being twisted by dark powers.
How to play this adventure
In Terror of the Night, players investigate the cause of suspicious deaths in the city of Portsburn. They will need to inspect crime scenes, question gang members, and eventually confront the vampire Jarin Mournhell. This free D&D adventure is intended for a group of three to four 1st-level characters.
D&D Beyond offers everything you need to run this adventure with your friends. This adventure uses D&D’s basic rules, which can be accessed for free on D&D Beyond. It can be completed in three to four hours and uses monsters found in the basic rules.
Creating a character to play in this adventure is simple with D&D Beyond’s Character Builder. The Character Builder will walk you through the steps required to create your very own D&D character. Once your character is ready, your digital character sheet will keep track of your stats and allow you to roll digital dice (no math skills required!) All you need to do to get started is create an account.
Content warning: This adventure contains mature themes, such as violence and blood, reader discretion is advised.
Terror of the Night takes place in the large, predominantly human port city of Portsburn. After an unsuspecting noble, Jarin Mournhell, was inflicted with a wicked curse, he accidentally killed his newlywed wife and began a streak of brutal vigilantism to try to clear his conscience. Little does he know that his actions are causing tension between the City Watch and the criminal organization known as the Ruby Spiders.
What to Know About Portsburn
- Portsburn is located at the mouth of an ocean inlet, which has allowed it to develop into a prominent shipping city.
- Portsburn has a population of roughly 50,000. The town is made up of approximately 80% humans, 10% halflings, and 10% other races. The City Watch has a force of 100.
- The city comprises three wards: the Upper Ward, which is built on higher ground than the rest of the city; the Central Ward, where the Townsquare and City Watch headquarters are located; and the Dock Ward, where the shipping companies operate.
- Over the past month, bodies of members belonging to a criminal faction known as The Ruby Spiders have been found completely eviscerated in the streets of Portsburn.
- The Ruby Spiders operate out of Portsburn and have a strong enough force to give the City Watch a tough fight. The two factions had previously agreed that if the Ruby Spiders followed specific rules, the City Watch would turn a blind eye to their dealings to maintain peace.
- The violent murders have sparked tensions between Ruby Spiders and the City Watch. The City Watch has imposed a curfew to ensure innocent civilians aren’t harmed while attempting to uncover who is behind these brutal murders.
- Help the City Watch broker peace with the Ruby Spiders
- Investigate the clues provided throughout the adventure to find out who is behind the killings
- Reason with Jarin Mournhell to put an end to the killings
This is an adventure for 1st-level characters. They should be good- or neutral-aligned and have either a motivation to help the people of Portsburn or an inclination to solve the mystery of the murders.
As the group will be conducting an investigation and reasoning with multiple parties, characters with a keen eye and charismatic nature will excel in this adventure.
You arrive at the edge of Portsburn at nightfall to find the streets deserted. As you begin your journey into the city looking for an inn, you are stopped by an authoritative voice calling out “Halt!”. Turning around, you see a member of the City Watch approaching you at a brisk pace.
Brom Ashglade is a lieutenant of the City Watch. He is a human male that uses the guard stat block. He is initially suspicious of the party but can become friendly and helpful if players remain courteous. Brom will ask the party what they are doing outside after curfew. As long as they reply in a non-provoking manner, Brom will provide the information under “What to Know About Portsburn” in the introduction. If the party seems interested in helping, Brom will suggest they sign up at the City Watch headquarters to join the task force trying to remedy the situation in Portsburn.
If the party acts belligerent, Brom will lose patience and not tell them anything about the situation. He will instruct the party to get inside, or they will be arrested.
Once the initial conversation with Brom has concluded, each party member must make a DC 11 Wisdom (Perception) check. Characters with a passive Perception of 11 or higher automatically succeed on the check. On a success, the character will hear the sounds of a strangled scream coming from an alleyway nearby.
First encounter with Jarin Mournhell
If the party goes to investigate the source of the screaming in the alley, Brom will follow. If they decide not to, Brom will go on his own. Once at the alley, they see a shadowy creature hunched over a figure sprawled on the ground. The shadowy creature is Jarin Mournhell, who has just attacked Edmund Drake, a member of the Ruby Spiders.
If the characters want to approach the situation stealthily, they must make a DC 13 Dexterity (Stealth) check. On a success, Jarin Mournhell doesn’t hear their approach. They can hear him say:
“The Ruby Spiders are a plague on this city, and I am the cure that will fight the infection.”
After he says this, Jarin will raise a clawed hand to finish off Edmund, at which point the party can step in to prevent the murder of Edmund. If none of the players interrupt Jarin, Brom will step in.
On a failed check, or if the party doesn’t approach stealthily, the party doesn’t hear what Jarin says but will interrupt him as he goes to finish off Edmund.
He wears a dark, hooded cloak obscuring his features, but characters that succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check can glimpse pale skin and a bloodstained mouth.
Jarin will tell the party members to stay out of dealings in which they have no business. If the party insists on interrupting Jarin’s plans, he will attack in an attempt to scare them off. Again, if the party doesn’t step up, Brom will. Jarin uses the vampire spawn’s stat block with the following changes:
- He doesn’t have resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage
- He doesn’t have the Regeneration trait
- He doesn’t have the Multiattack trait
We designed this adventure to be an introductory adventure for 1st-level players. Therefore, we decided to make Jarin’s stat block a CR 1 version of vampire spawn so that a 1st-level party could survive an encounter with him. We also tweaked the mechanics of Jarin’s vampirism to bring them more in line with how Morbius’ powers work in the comics.
Throughout the fight, Jarin will say things like:
- “You don’t have to do this!”
- “He deserves what he got!”
- “I need to finish what I started!”
Jarin is dead set on killing Edmund because his victims are liable to turn into vampire spawn (using the ghoul stat block) one week after they have survived being bitten.
When Jarin is reduced to 62 hit points, or if a party member falls unconscious, Jarin will decide that the fight isn’t worth his or an innocent’s life. He will disengage and use his Spider Climb feature to escape by climbing the buildings on either side. Chasing Jarin will be impossible for all characters without flight or a climb speed of their own. Once at a distance from the party, he will slip into the shadows and stealthily retreat to his mansion in the Upper Ward.
What Edmund Knows
If the party prevents Jarin from finishing the job, Edmund will be alive and stable with one hit point. He is a young man, garbed in deep red leather armor, and has a black spider web tattoo running over his forearms. Seeing as he is shaken from the attack and grateful to the party for saving his life, he will answer the party’s questions to the best of his ability but will fall unconscious after three questions. Edmund knows:
- Only Ruby Spiders or other known criminals have been targeted by the killer.
- The Ruby Spiders are planning a raid on the City Watch’s headquarters in retaliation against what they think are killings orchestrated by the City Watch.
- There has been only one survivor of the killer’s attacks so far. He was attacked last week and was picked up by the City Watch. He is currently sitting in a cell at City Watch headquarters.
Once the party has finished the questioning or Edmund falls unconscious, Brom will suggest they take him to the City Watch headquarters.
City Watch headquarters
If the party decides to go to the City Watch headquarters, read the following:
You walk through the empty streets of Portsburn carrying Edmund between you. Eventually, you approach a large stone building in the center of town. A set of stairs leads you to the front door, which Brom opens with a key. Once inside, you see several off-duty guards sitting around a table playing cards. There are five iron-barred cells lining the back wall, two of which are occupied. One cell has two drunk townsfolk sleeping off a night of overindulgence, and the other contains a figure hunched over in a ruby red cloak.
As the party enters the room, the off-duty guards will rouse to help the party with the wounded Edmund. The guards instruct the party to put him in a cell with the other Ruby Spider member. Upon entering the cell, the other Ruby Spider member, who has been turned into one of Jarin’s spawn, will smell the blood from Edmund’s wounds and attack. He uses the ghoul stat block.
The guards have no idea that this transformation has occurred and are slow to react. After the second round of initiative, 1d4 + 5 City Watch guards will have gotten organized enough to aid in the fight if it’s not going well for the party.
Enlisting the Party to Help
Brom will give each party member 10 gp for their help with fending off the shadowy creature in the alley, rescuing Edmond, and defeating the spawn.
Because the party isn’t part of the City Watch and they witnessed the attack on Edmund, Brom thinks that they would be ideal candidates to carry a message to the Ruby Spiders in hopes of lessening the
tension between the two organizations. Brom will offer them 50gp each once they deliver the message, plus a pick from the City Watch’s “lost and found” stash immediately if they agree to help.
The message that Brom asks the party to deliver reads:
We have had a development in the suspicious murders that happened over the past month. Let’s meet at the Seaways Shipping warehouse in the Dock Ward to get on the same page. Tomorrow at midnight, the public can’t know we’re meeting.
When players have had a chance to read it, the note is rolled and sealed with the City Watch’s seal and handed to the party, along with the 50 gp, three potions of healing, and an official letter that will allow them to identify themselves to other City Watch members.
The City Watch will answer all questions they can regarding the Ruby Spiders. They know the following:
- The Ruby Spiders are led by Juliana Montagu, a cunning criminal mastermind. A decade ago, Montagu was nothing but an urchin scraping a living in the streets of Portsburn. Now, the Ruby Spiders have a strong enough presence in the city to make life very difficult for the City Watch.
- Montagu has agreed not to commit any violent crime within the city limits to keep things peaceful. The Ruby Spiders now use the sewers as a headquarters where they house and distribute illegal merchandise throughout the realm.
- The City Watch isn’t exactly sure where the headquarters are, but any sewer access points around where Edmund was attacked would be a great place to start.
Choosing from the lost and found
Before departing to find the Ruby Spiders, the party is led down to the basement of the City Watch’s headquarters and down a hall to a storage room. This room is full of overflowing shelves of junk. When searching the lost and found for something to take, each character may make an Intelligence (Investigation) check.
Investigation Check Findings
1-15 1d100 roll on the Other Adventuring Gear table
16-20+ 1d100 roll on the Uncommon Magic Item table
The Ruby Spiders hideout
When the party heads back to investigate the alley, they will quickly be able to find a sewer grate that leads into the sewers.
Navigating the sewers
As you climb down the slippery ladder into the sewers, your nose is immediately assaulted by sewage stink and rotting ocean life. Your eyes take a minute to adjust to the dark of the underground tunnel. As you glance around, you can see that you are standing on a raised path of stone adjacent to a river, the contents of which you’d rather not think about.
The Ruby Spiders have gone to great lengths to ensure that navigating the sewers is a difficult task for non-members, and the sewers are dangerous in their own right. When the party attempts to navigate the sewers, they must make three successful DC 13 Wisdom (Survival) group checks to get to the Ruby Spiders’ headquarters. On a failure, roll on the encounter table below, rerolling on events that have already occurred. If the party fails twice before they succeed three times, they encounter two Ruby Spider thugs who are hostile to the party. If the party tells them they’ve been sent as emissaries of the City Watch, the thugs will begrudgingly lead them to Juliana Montagu.
1-5 – A giant spider has woven a web across the sewer to catch its next meal. Each character must succeed on a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw. Any creature that fails the check is restrained and can break free by spending an action to free themselves from the web. The giant spider attacks and fights to the death.
6-10 – Two giant poisonous snakes erupt from the water and attack the party. They fight to the death.
11-15 – A tripwire is laid in the middle of the path that, when triggered, causes poisonous darts to shoot from the wall. Any character looking for traps can make a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot the tripwire. A character with a passive Perception of 13 automatically spots the tripwire. Even if the tripwire is spotted, it is still difficult to navigate. To avoid the tripwire, each character must make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. On a failed check, or if the tripwire was not spotted, each character must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or take 1d4 piercing damage and 1d6 poison damage when the tripwire is activated.
16-20 – A hidden pressure plate on the floor activates a trapdoor that causes creatures in the area to fall into a pit. Any character looking for traps can make a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot the plate. A character with a passive Perception of 13 automatically spots the plate. If the plate isn’t spotted, each character must make a DC12 Dexterity saving throw or fall 10 feet into the pit. At the bottom of the pit, two swarms of rats await whoever fails the check. They attack immediately and fight to the death. The pit can be climbed out of with a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check.
The Ruby Spiders’ hideout entrance is an iron door with a red spider emblazoned on it. The door has a sliding peephole and is guarded from the inside at all times. When the party arrives, if they are not with the Ruby Spider thugs, they can knock on the door to get the guard’s attention. Explaining to the guard that they have been sent with a message from the City Watch is good enough to get them into the hideout.
Once the party gains access to the hideout, read:
You enter a room with stone floors, walls, and ceiling. Torches flicker on the walls, casting dancing shadows but keeping the darkness at bay. In the middle of the room, a group of people in ruby red cloaks push their seats back from the table, their hands on their weapons. At the head of the table, a young woman with flowing red hair and a spider web tattoo over her eye studies you with a curious gaze.
Juliana Montagu is a lawful evil female human that uses the spy stat block. As long as the party is amenable, she will be courteous to the party if a bit cold.
She is convinced that the City Watch has something to do with the murders but will agree to the meeting the following night.
The attacks on her people have backed Montagu into a corner, and she has become more suspicious and aggressive in her dealings. When discussing her expectations for the meeting tomorrow night, she mentions she will not settle for anything less than definitive proof of who the killer is and the return of Edmund. If these conditions fail to be met, it will mean an all-out war with the City Watch.
Searching for proof
With the message delivered, the party can take a long rest. They can find a room at The Happy Crab Inn for 2 sp a night.
The next morning, the party will need to begin their hunt for clues. If the party tries to get the City Watch involved, Brom will tell them that the Watch is stretched too thin, and they won’t be able to reassign the resources in time. He will pay them 100 gp each if they can come up with the attacker’s identity by midnight.
To discover the unknown assailant’s identity, players will typically follow the steps outlined below.
Speak with Edmund Drake
Edmund won’t talk to the City Watch but will talk to the party because they saved his life. He will tell them about the attack and mention that his assailant wore fine clothes under his robe, most noticeably a black velvet doublet with golden buttons. The type of people that wear those clothes are only found in the Upper Ward, the district where nobles and rich merchants live.
If Edmund is dead, Brom will provide the information.
Ways to help the party
If the party is stumped on how to begin their investigation, consider the following:
- A successful DC 11 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Insight) check could suggest they discuss the attack with the one victim that remains alive, Edmund.
- If the party talks to Brom, he’ll say something along the lines of “I think that Edmund boy knows something, but he’s not talking to the City Watch. Maybe you’ll have better luck.”
Investigate the Upper District
Once the party receives this hint, they should head up to the Upper Ward to do some investigating. The following boxed text assumes the party is doing this investigation during the day. If this isn’t the case, adjust as necessary.
The town bustles around you as you make your way up the cobbled streets to the Upper Ward. Built on a hill, the Upper Ward is visible from just about anywhere in the town. As you approach, you can see that the citizens of this ward are garbed in clothes much finer than in the Central Ward. The streets appear to be completely devoid of dirt, and the houses are larger and spaced further apart.
Only one clothing store sells the luxurious doublets the attacker wore, a boutique called Dublet or Nothing. The party can find the store with an hour of searching or by speaking to a resident of the Upper Ward and succeeding on a DC 11 Charisma (Persuasion) check.
The owner of the store, a female halfling named Nela Moonbranch, will only speak to characters that look the part. Acquiring fancy clothes and becoming presentable can be done by inquiring at other stores in the Upper Ward. The process will cost 15 gp and take 1 hour. After a character is wearing appropriate attire for a resident of the Upper Ward, Nela, who is quite the gossip, will tell them that the clothing item they’re looking for matches the description of an aloof noble named Jarin Mournhell. Unfortunately, Jarin Mournhell hasn’t been in town for over a month as he has gone south on a honeymoon with his newlywed wife. He was supposed to return after a weeklong trip, but there has been no sign of him, and his house has fallen into quite the state.
Nela will be able to tell the party where Jarin lives but doesn’t know much beyond that.
Ways to help the party
If the party isn’t able to connect what Edmund said to go to the Upper Ward, consider the following:
- A successful DC 11 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Insight) check could suggest they head to the Upper Ward and see if anyone knows anything about the unique clothing of the assailant.
- A successful DC 11 Wisdom (Perception) check could allow the character to overhear a resident discussing that Jarin Mournhell’s vacation has lasted a month longer than anticipated.
- If the party talks to Brom about the assailant’s fancy clothing, he’ll say something along the lines of “I don’t know nothing about those fancy folk. I’d head to the Upper Ward and ask around if I were you. Make sure you dress the part there. They don’t take kindly to less-than-well-dressed strangers.”
Jarin Mournhell’s House
The directions that Nela provides will lead the party to a mansion with an unkempt garden in the Upper Ward on East Bar Street.
Ways to help the party
If the party isn’t able to connect what Nela said to locate Mournhell’s house, consider the following:
- A successful DC 11 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Insight) check could suggest they head to Mournhell’s house to check out if anything looks suspicious.
- A successful DC 11 Wisdom (Perception) check could allow the character to see a house with a particularly overgrown garden that stands out from the rest of the beautifully manicured gardens of the Upper Ward.
- If the party talks to Brom about Mournhell, he’ll say something along the lines of “Those fancy folk and their exotic vacations. If Mournhell is a suspect in this case, you have my permission to enter the house and look around.”
When the party arrives at the house, read:
Among the beautiful estates of East Bar Street, one house, in particular, catches your eye. Its yard is overgrown, and the gate hangs on one hinge. A sign on the gate reads “Mournhell.” The path up to the front door is carpeted with weeds, and the blinds are drawn on all of the visible windows.
If the party knocks on the door, there is no response. One of the windows around the back is ajar, providing easy access to the house. The door can be picked with a DC 13 Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check, assuming the character has thieves’ tools. The door can also be broken down. It has an AC of 12, 20 hit points, and is immune to psychic and poison damage.
When the party enters the house, read:
The house’s interior is exponentially grimmer than the exterior. Claw marks have slashed the decorated walls, cutting paintings to ribbons and carving deep gashes in the wood. Most of the furniture is torn apart. It’s down stuffing now littering the floor.
What happened here?
During the first days of his honeymoon, Jarin was bitten by a bat infused with the powers of Ravenloft. Taking ill, he and his wife returned to their home in Portsburn. A week after he was bitten, Jarin arose as a vampire and killed his wife, Eliana, in a fit of confusion and bloodlust.
Distraught and seeking a way to clear his conscience, Jarin began a streak of brutal vigilantism. Jarin is unaware that tensions between the City Watch and the Ruby Spiders have reached a boiling point. He will continue his acts of supposed “justice” unless brought to his senses by the party.
Exploring the Mournhell’s house
Not much of value that hasn’t been irreparably destroyed can be found in Mournhell’s home. If the party enters the bedroom, they will discover Eliana’s body, serene and apparently sleeping. Further inspection reveals that she is dead, her only wound being two bite marks on her neck. Her body hasn’t decayed due to a permanent gentle repose spell that Jarin’s grief and anguish unknowingly cast on the corpse of his beloved.
If the party searches the basement, they will find Jarin sleeping in a sturdy wooden coffin.
Jarin sleeps during the day but will awaken if players break open the front door or make no effort to remain quiet during their exploration of the house. Jarin will also awaken and confront the party when they enter the basement or have taken in the sights of the primary bedroom.
Remembering the party from the previous night, Jarin will not attack unless he is attacked first. Instead, he is almost grateful to be able to share his woe.
When the tensions between the Ruby Spiders and the City Watch are discussed with Jarin, he will express great remorse and ask the party what he should do. The party can consider several options:
- Turn himself over to the Ruby Spiders for punishment, likely resulting in his execution.
- The party could fake Jarin’s death by bringing a vial of ash and his signet ring to Montagu and telling her about what they discovered at Mournhell’s house.
- Defend Jarin to Montagu by proving these murders were the acts of a troubled man. Jarin could offer his service to the Ruby Spiders as restitution.
- Kill him and bring proof to the Ruby Spiders.
With the mystery solved, players can spin this situation however they’d like to the City Watch and Ruby Spiders. If the party goes to the Seaways Shipping warehouse with the City Watch, read:
You walk through the empty streets of Portsburn with Brom. A steady drizzle is falling, causing the cobblestones to become slick underfoot. Eventually, you reach the Seaways Shipping warehouse. Brom glances around to make sure you aren’t being watched and pulls open the door. Inside, you see the red-haired Juliana Montagu flanked by four cronies.
This situation can play out several ways based on your player’s success or decisions:
Proof is provided
Conflict with the Ruby Spiders can be avoided if the players bring proof that Jarin was behind the killings. If Jarin is turned over to Juliana as part of this deal, she executes him on the spot.
Proof is not provided
If the players have not discovered who is behind the killings or elect not to provide evidence, Juliana will attempt to kill Brom and the party. Her four Ruby Spider cronies use the thug stat block and fight to the death. If Juliana appears to be losing, she will attempt to flee.
If the party is attacked and Jarin is alive, he will join the fray and fight against the Ruby Spiders.