top of page

D&D Adventure Hooks: The Living Mountain

Updated: Jan 18

Table of Contents





Introduction - D&D Adventure Hooks: The Living Mountain

Welcome, intrepid Dungeon Masters, to a thrilling guide on crafting an immersive, high-stakes, sandbox-style campaign centred around Thrumund, the Living Mountain! This gargantuan, sentient mass of earth and stone pulsates with elemental magic, filled to the brim with cavernous chambers that host wondrous and terrifying encounters, ranging from tricky puzzles and intricate traps to formidable monsters and rampant elemental forces.


Drawing from decades of Dungeons & Dragons lore, we have carved a rich, intricate backstory for our towering titan, weaving it into the fabric of an intricate world teeming with adventure. With ties to both dwarven forefathers and eldritch elements, Thrumund is much more than just a setting - it's a compelling character, an active player on the stage of our narrative, and

a boundless source of earth-shaking challenges for your player characters to conquer.


From adventure hooks that entice your party to the mountain's foreboding slopes, through ten unique encounters that test the adventurers' mettle, to a heart-stopping climax that determines the fate of Thrumund itself, this guide provides you with an extensive framework for a memorable campaign. You'll learn how to engage your players with compelling narratives, challenging combats, and intriguing role-playing scenarios, ensuring they are at the edge of their seats in every session.

Ready to bring your campaign to life with the rumble of the Living Mountain echoing in your players' ears? Don your cloak, clutch your DM screen, and let's embark on this fantastical journey together! We hope you enjoy this week's post - D&D Adventure Hooks: The Living Mountain.


The Mountain:

The mountain is known as Thrumund's Peak, named after the legendary dwarven earthmancer, Thrumund Granitehand, who is believed to have breathed life into the mountain.


Backstory and Origin:

Long ago, Thrumund Granitehand was the greatest earthmancer of his age. He loved the mountains more than anything and often roamed through them, speaking to the stones and learning their secrets. Thrumund envisioned a world where the earth itself could rise and participate in the dance of life.


With his unparalleled mastery over earth magic and a unique gemstone known as the "Heartstone", Thrumund performed a grand ritual at the peak of the highest mountain. He bestowed a piece of his consciousness and his immense magical power into the mountain. The magic surged, and the mountain came alive.


Thrumund's Peak is not just alive; it is sentient, with a mind and intent of its own. It is the only one of its kind, even though it is part of an expansive mountain range. It remains a silent guardian, a living monument to Thrumund's incredible power.


Location and Nearby Settlements:

Thrumund's Peak is located in the remote region of a continent, enveloped by a large mountain range known as the "Stoneheart Range". A dwarven city called Kraghammer is nestled nearby, and its inhabitants have a deep respect for the mountain and its lore.

Common Knowledge and Rumors:

To outsiders, the mountain being alive is more of a myth, a tale told by superstitious miners and eccentric scholars. It's not widely known or accepted that Thrumund's Peak is alive. Among the dwarves of Kraghammer, however, it's a sacred truth and part of their culture.

Life Source:

At the core of the mountain pulses the Heartstone, a magical gem that Thrumund used in his ritual. It is the source of the mountain's life and power. This Heartstone serves as both a physical and a metaphysical heart. It pumps raw elemental energy through the mountain's "veins," keeping it alive and allowing it to manipulate its form and the creatures within it.

Only a handful of the most learned sages in Kraghammer know of the Heartstone's existence, and they safeguard this knowledge fiercely. They believe that if the Heartstone were ever to be removed or destroyed, Thrumund's Peak would fall back into a lifeless slumber.

Evil Forces and Intentions:

  1. The Stoneburn Clan: A clan of Duergar (dark dwarves) known as the Stoneburn Clan covets the mountain's power. Living deep in the underdark, they've heard tales of Thrumund's Peak and the Heartstone. Believing they can use the Heartstone's power to usurp the surface world, they plot in secret to breach the mountain and extract the Heartstone. Their leader, High Thane Karrig Stoneburn, is an adept earth magic user and believes he is destined to take Thrumund's place.

  2. The Cult of the Crystal Void: This sinister cult believes that the Heartstone is the key to unlocking the "Crystal Void", a prophesied realm of limitless magical power. Led by their enigmatic leader, the Void Seer, they seek to unmake the world and remake it in their image. They've begun infiltrating Kraghammer, sowing chaos, and attempting to discover the secrets of Thrumund's Peak.

  3. Zephyra the Storm Witch: Zephyra is a powerful and capricious air elemental who seeks to subjugate the elemental forces of the earth. Seeing Thrumund's Peak as a rival elemental power, she intends to use her mastery over air and storm magic to overthrow the mountain's power and impose her rule over the region. Her actions have already caused unseasonal and violent storms around the Stoneheart Range.

The adventurers may come to know of these threats during their exploration and might decide to protect the mountain or exploit the situation to their advantage. Their choices could tip the balance of power in this ongoing, secret war.

Adventure Walkthrough

  1. "Rumours in the Tavern": The party arrives in a small town near Thrumund's Peak, and the local tavern is buzzing with strange occurrences around the mountain. A local farmer talks of his crops dying and strange creatures in the night. A handsome man - the local lord - offers a hefty reward for anyone who can investigate these disturbances.

  2. "The Farmer's Plight": The party investigates the farm and discovers signs of dark magic and foul play. They encounter a small elemental creature, revealing a hint of the mountain's true nature.

  3. "Echoes from the Past": An old man - a retired adventurer - tells the party about the legend of the Living Mountain, piquing their curiosity and offering new plot hooks.

  4. "In the Shadow of the Mountain": The party ventures towards Thrumund's Peak, facing their first dungeon adventure in a nearby cave infested with earth elementals.

  5. "Into the Living Mountain": The party ventures into Thrumund's Peak, navigating dangerous terrain and encountering the Stone Guardians, which they must overcome through combat or riddles.

  6. "Mephit Mayhem": The party faces the Mephit infestation and the Mysterious Crystal Chamber, requiring both combat skills and clever problem-solving.

  7. "The Fungal Forest": The party enters the Fungal Forest, facing hallucinogenic spores and Duergar assassins hidden among giant, luminescent fungi.

  8. "The Obsidian Maze": The party navigates the deadly Obsidian Maze, possibly involving a battle royale or an unlikely alliance with various factions vying for control of the mountain's heart.

  9. "Showdown at the Heartstone": The party finally reaches the heart of the mountain, only to witness the Void Seer's transformation into an elemental abomination. The players must choose to either harness the heartstone's power or ally with Thrumund to overcome this threat.

  10. "Aftermath": Depending on the outcome of the final encounter, the party might need to deal with the consequences of their actions, such as a grateful or angry local populace, or even new threats drawn by the mountain's released energies. The campaign concludes with the possibility for new adventures, depending on the players' decisions and the Dungeon Master's intentions.

Adventure Hooks

1. A Tremor in the Earth:

The City Council of Kraghammer contacts the party after a series of unusual and violent earthquakes rock the city. The council's geomancers have traced the tremors' source to Thrumund's Peak and fear that something is awry within the living mountain. They wish to hire the party to investigate the cause of the tremors and put a stop to them, if possible. They give the adventurers an ancient artifact, said to allow communication with the spirit of the mountain.


2. The Heartstone's Whisper:

A mysterious and ancient map comes into the party's possession. It contains cryptic hints and puzzles pointing towards the Stoneheart Range and specifically Thrumund's Peak. Inscribed on the map is a legend, indicating a "Heart that pulses with the rhythm of the earth". Could this be the legendary Heartstone, thought to be a myth by many? The lure of this magical artifact and its potential power could be an irresistible call for any adventuring party.


3. The Storm Witch's Fury:

The party, while traveling, comes across a village devastated by unseasonal and violent storms. The villagers speak of a terrifying figure named Zephyra, a storm witch who descends from the mountains to unleash these destructive tempests. A village elder, versed in old legends, believes Zephyra seeks to challenge the might of Thrumund's Peak. The villagers plead for the party's help to either reason with or subdue the storm witch, promising whatever reward they can muster.

Any of these hooks could provide the motivation and initial direction for the party, leading them towards the mystery and adventure that awaits in Thrumund's Peak.


Introduction:

After accepting your quest, your journey has led you to the rugged Stoneheart Range, towards the legendary Thrumund's Peak. The closer you get, the more the landscape takes on an ancient and somber feel. The wind carries with it whispers of a time long past, and the stones underfoot feel different, charged with an energy that tugs at your senses.

As you venture forth, a blizzard begins to set in, obscuring your path. The biting cold pierces your cloaks, and the howling wind carries with it a disconcerting echo, like the mountain itself is groaning in discomfort. Yet, driven by your quest, you push onward until you notice a faint glimmer in the snowstorm ahead.


Read to Players:

In the swirling chaos of the blizzard, the faint light in the distance becomes your guiding beacon. You trudge through the knee-deep snow, shielding your faces from the wind-whipped ice. As you get closer, the light grows steadier, revealing a vast cavern mouth carved into the side of the mountain. You can't help but notice the unnatural symmetry of the entrance, as if shaped by hands rather than the forces of nature.


It's warmer inside the cavern, and the blizzard's furious howling becomes a muted whisper. The cavern walls are veined with glittering minerals, reflecting your torchlight and casting prismatic patterns on the ground. In the hushed silence of the cave, you can hear a distant rumble, a steady rhythm like a heartbeat echoing from the depths of the mountain. The air tastes different here, earthy and ancient.


As you look further into the gloom of the cavern, you sense that your journey is just beginning. The cavern plunges deeper, leading into the heart of Thrumund's Peak, where countless secrets lay waiting in the living stone.


Encounters


Stone Guardians:

As you navigate through the network of tunnels, you can't shake the feeling of being watched. The mountain's heartbeat grows stronger, almost as if you are moving deeper into the chest of a colossal creature. After several hours, the path widens into a vast hall, the ceiling lost in shadows above.


Read to Players:

You enter a vast chamber, and your torchlight dances across ornately carved pillars that reach up to the chamber's hidden ceiling. There's a grandeur to this place, a testament to an age and a people long past. Positioned along the sides of the chamber, standing sentinel, are towering statues of dwarven warriors. They are crafted from the same stone as the mountain, but with an attention to detail that is awe-inspiring. Each one holds a mighty hammer or axe, their eyes seeming to follow you with an intensity that's disconcerting.


As you move further into the room, the ground beneath you rumbles, and the statues begin to shift and groan. Stone grinds on stone, echoing through the chamber as the once-stationary guardians slowly come to life.


If you look closely at the base of the nearest statue, you can see a riddle etched into the stone, the ancient dwarven runes glowing faintly with a soft, amber light:

"When I am filled, I can point the way. When I am empty, nothing moves me. I have two skins, one without and one within. What am I?"

(The answer to the riddle is "A Glove". When filled (with a hand), it can point the way. When empty, it stays put. The two skins refer to the exterior and interior of the glove.)

You quickly realize that you have a choice: fight these stone guardians or solve the riddle. As you prepare your next move, the mountain's heartbeat echoes around you, a reminder that you're inside a living, watching entity. The eyes of Thrumund are upon you.



Quake Room:

After dealing with the Stone Guardians, you continue your journey deeper into Thrumund's Peak. The mountain's rhythmic pulse grows more intense and irregular, shaking the tunnels around you. Suddenly, the entire mountain seems to groan, and you're thrown off your feet as the ground shakes violently.

Read to Players:

As the rumbling subsides, you find yourself at the entrance of a massive cavern. Your torchlight barely illuminates the edges of a yawning chasm, the other side obscured by the darkness. Thin stone bridges, natural formations carved over the ages, crisscross the abyss. They look fragile, but they are your only means of crossing. You can't help but notice the scattering of rocks below, a clear sign of the bridges' unstable nature.

Suddenly, a deafening roar echoes from deep within the mountain, and the cavern shakes violently. You scramble for balance as dust and pebbles rain down from the ceiling, and one of the distant stone bridges collapses into the chasm with a resounding crash.

As the dust settles, you realize the quakes are not random but connected to the mountain's heartbeat. The irregular rhythm seems to be a sign of distress, a giant stone titan in pain. The bridge collapses have matched the timing of the mountain's pulses, suggesting the quakes will continue in time with this troubled heartbeat.

You're struck by a chilling realization - whatever is causing Thrumund's distress is also triggering these quakes, making the crossing not just a physical challenge but a race against time. As you prepare to cross the perilous bridges, you're left with one question: what in the heart of this mountain could cause such turmoil in Thrumund's Peak?


Mephit Infestation:

After surviving the Quake Room and successfully crossing the chasm, you venture further into the mountain, following the path that twists and turns deeper into the belly of Thrumund's Peak. Soon you hear a cacophony of small, grating voices echoing from up ahead, and as you approach, you see a cavern swarming with Mephits.

Read to Players:


In the dim, flickering torchlight, you see dozens of small, impish creatures with bodies seemingly made of stone, dust, and gem shards. These are Mephits, elemental beings of the earth. They flutter around on jagged, wing-like appendages, chattering in their harsh, gravelly language. The Mephits don't notice you at first, but once they do, their chatter dies down, and dozens of glowing eyes turn towards you.

Their reactions are varied; some look fearful, others curious, but a good number of them seem aggressive. They form a defensive line between you and what looks like a nest of shimmering gemstones. If a battle ensues, it will be against a swarm of these territorial creatures.

However, if you choose to parley, you could use a display of earth magic or precious gemstones to get their attention, and then persuade them of your peaceful intent. If successful, not only will you avoid a skirmish, but these Mephits could serve as helpful guides or even allies in this living mountain.

Mephit Stats:

Dust Mephit:

  • Armor Class: 12

  • Hit Points: 17 (5d6)

  • Speed: 30 ft., fly 30 ft.

  • Abilities: Str 5 (-3), Dex 14 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 9 (-1), Wis 11 (+0), Cha 10 (+0)

  • Skills: Perception +2, Stealth +4

  • Damage Vulnerabilities: wind-based attacks

  • Damage Immunities: poison

  • Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12

  • Languages: Terran, understands Common but can't speak it

  • Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)

  • Special Abilities: Death Burst (When the mephit dies, it leaves behind a cloud of dust that blinds creatures until the end of their next turn), Innate Spellcasting (ability to cast blur, gust of wind)

Stone Mephit:

  • Armor Class: 12

  • Hit Points: 22 (5d6 + 5)

  • Speed: 30 ft., fly 30 ft.

  • Abilities: Str 8 (-1), Dex 11 (+0), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 10 (+0)

  • Skills: Perception +2

  • Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

  • Damage Immunities: poison

  • Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12

  • Languages: Terran, understands Common but can't speak it

  • Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)

  • Special Abilities: Death Burst (When the mephit dies, it explodes in a cloud of rubble. Each creature within 5 feet of it must make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw, taking 4 (1d8) bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one), Innate Spellcasting (ability to cast magic stone, stone shape)

As you prepare to handle the Mephit infestation, you remember your purpose here - the erratic heartbeat of the mountain, the tremors. The answer lies deeper within Thrumund's Peak.


Mysterious Crystal Chamber:

Following the Mephits' directions or successfully dispatching them, you wind your way deeper into the belly of Thrumund's Peak. The temperature drops noticeably, and a strange, low hum reverberates through the tunnel. As you round a bend, you're met with a breathtaking sight.

Read to Players:

Before you stretches a vast chamber, its high ceiling lost in the gloom above. The cavern shimmers with an ethereal light, thousands of radiant crystals embedded in the walls, floor, and ceiling, their luminescence pulsing gently like a bioluminescent sea. It's as if you've stepped into a starlit night, each crystal a twinkling star. There's a potent energy here, magic that resonates in your bones and hums in your ears.

The crystals are remnants from an ancient age, formed by the residual magic when the celestial being Arumn breathed life into the mountains. For thousands of years, they have absorbed the inherent earth magic of Thrumund's Peak, acting as conduits and amplifiers of his power.

As you approach, you notice that certain clusters of crystals pulse brighter than others. A closer inspection reveals ancient dwarven runes carved into the bases of these clusters. As a dwarven ruin, they hold the key to unlocking a secret path deeper into the mountain.


Choosing the correct sequence and touching the crystal clusters will activate a magical mechanism, parting the stone wall to reveal a hidden passageway. However, the wrong sequence might trigger magical traps, releasing pent-up energy in the form of bursts of magic or summoning defensive constructs.

As you ponder the puzzle, the air grows colder, the hum of the crystals growing tense. A sense of being watched creeps over you, and in the distant shadows, you spot movement. From the shadows emerge figures - the storm witch Zephyra and a group of duergar, the dark dwarves known for their cruelty and malice. An ambush has been set, and a fight seems inevitable.

In this chamber of ancient power and celestial origin, will you manage to solve the puzzle, survive the ambush, and find your way to the heart of Thrumund's Peak? Or will the echoes of your defeat join the ancient whispers in the chamber of crystals?

The Stone Serpent:

Having solved the crystal chamber puzzle and navigated through the hidden passageway, you find yourself in a massive antechamber that extends far beyond the reach of your torchlight. The steady rhythm of the mountain’s heartbeat reverberates stronger here, the walls almost vibrating with power. As you move forward, your footsteps echo in the vast expanse.


Read to Players:

Your light catches something in the distance - a hulking shape of rough, chiseled stone. As you approach, the sheer size of it becomes apparent. A colossal serpent, its form made entirely of stone and inlaid with glittering gems, lies coiled in slumber. Its scales are massive, each one the size of a large shield, and the air around it crackles with dormant, raw elemental power.


The Stone Serpent, named Ourothrum, was once a loyal guardian and ally of Thrumund's Peak. However, the corruption seeping into the mountain's heart has driven Ourothrum into a frenzied state, causing it to act out the pain and distress of its home by causing the quakes rocking the mountain.

As you draw closer, the ground beneath your feet rumbles, and the serpent's gemstone eyes flicker open, glowing with an intense, baleful light. Ourothrum uncoils, raising its titanic head to regard you, its gaze filled with a primal fury. It appears that you have disturbed its slumber.

If you manage to defeat Ourothrum, not only will you gain valuable, magical gems from its body, but you'll also bring peace to Thrumund's Peak by calming one of its most powerful, yet frenzied, elemental beings. Yet, a word of caution - the serpent's power is immense, and its wrath could easily bury you within the heart of the mountain. Your battle with Ourothrum will undoubtedly be one of the greatest challenges you face within Thrumund's Peak.

Whatever the outcome, your encounter with the Stone Serpent will shape the fate of Thrumund's Peak, and potentially, your own. Will you emerge victorious, bearing the spoils of your conquest? Or will you become yet another tale of the lost, swallowed by the living mountain's depths?


Rapid Golem Construction:

Finally, you stand before the heart of Thrumund's Peak. The elemental nexus of the mountain pulses with an overwhelming force, resonating with an intense, primal heartbeat. It's a captivating sight, but your attention is quickly drawn to the alarming scene unfolding in the cavernous space before you.

Read to Players:

An eerie blue light illuminates a large, open cavern. At the center, a magical artifact, the Elemental Heart, glows ominously. It throbs in time with the mountain's heartbeat, and from its raw, elemental magic, rock golems are rapidly forming. Each golem steps away from the artifact, its body solidifying from raw stone to a fully articulated earth warrior.

The Storm Witch Zephyra stands atop a stone platform overlooking the scene. The Elemental Heart is under her control, and she is using it to create an army of rock golems. She seems to be pulling the strings, manipulating Thrumund's mind through this nexus and causing all the chaos within the mountain.

Zephyra doesn't notice you at first, giving you time to plan. You could attempt to disrupt the Elemental Heart, cutting off the magic and stopping the golem production. To do so, you would have to navigate your way past the golems, both newly formed and those waiting for their spark of life, and deal with the Witch herself. You could also try to destroy or disrupt the artifact from a distance, using spells or ranged attacks