The Redemption of Agatha the Banshee is a homebrew supplementary quest to Lost Mines of Phandelver which players can discover when visiting Cragmaw Castle. In this supplement, Auglatha refers to the true elven name for the Banshee Agatha. For more information on the suggested backstory for Agatha in this quest, please see the NPC Guide for Agatha the Banshee.
According to the backstory suggested in the NPC Guide for Agatha the Banshee, Cragmaw Castle (formerly known as Melarue Keep) used to be property of Agatha’s (Auglatha’s) family, the Melarue clan. The Melarue were an elven family devoted to Sehanine Moonbow, a goddess skilled in the arts of divination and illusion. Clues in the altar room of Cragmaw castle lead to the family secret sanctum beneath. In the sanctum, the party learns a little bit about Auglatha the Banshee’s former life and the pursuit of a magic sword leads the party to the Banshee’s lair. Should the party play their cards right, the DM can choose to reward the party with a powered down version of a Moonblade (details below).
Cragmaw Castle: The Defaced Shrine
Below are some additional details to add to area #9 of Cragmaw Castle.1
When the party first enters the room they see a stone altar. On top of it is a wooden block covered in darkened blood which has spilled over the edges and onto the altar of stone. Laid neatly in a row in front of the block are the heads of hobgoblins, bugbears and goblins lined up as well as some humans. These beheaded goblinoids were executed for incompetence. These heads are also offerings to their God, Maglubiyet. At the end of the row are the remains of a statue’s head sundered in half . The sundered stone head appears to be the face of a beautiful elven woman (DC 15 Religion check to learn it is Sehanine Moonbow, the elven Goddess skilled in divination and illusion. Religion check should be made with advantage for elves/half-elves).
On the northern wall of the room is a simple steel axe hanging from pitons crudely hammered into the wall. There appear to be smears of red all across the walls. Any character with a passive perception above 15 will notice that the red smears appear to be an effort to deface the symbols of the god who was once revered here. Behind the axe, you can make out what appears to be the symbol of a full moon and a bluish gray semicircle. Extending from the moon are painted representations of blue and silver rays of moonlight. These rays stretch across the walls and although the paint has nearly worn away, you can see evidence of a single moonbeam that stretching all the way across the floor to the opposite wall.
Also upon the wall is a phrase in elvish:
“The path opens for our Goddess, her feet bathed in moonlight“
At the southern end of the room is a marble statue of a woman with the head removed. The statue appears to be facing the wall instead of into the room. The statue’s feet are attached to a stone circle. There is a small half inch gap between the edges of the stone circle and the floor. A DC 15 investigation check reveals that it may be possible to rotate the statue. Players may be able to figure this out themselves without the check.
If the statue is turned in the direction of the moon symbol, there are clicking and clacking sounds and the altar moves aside (cue Zelda secret door sound).
Should the party not enter the altar room or not figure out the statue puzzle you can easily have another entrance near King Grol’s quarters. In this case, you probably need to have a grick or two waiting below (which would explain why the Cragmaw goblinoids haven’t ransacked it yet).
The Melarue Family Secret Sanctum
A swirl of dust spirals into the air when the party descends into the Melarue family sanctum. The noises of the goblinoids in the castle fade to nothing here–the silence feels absolute.
The Melarue Family secret sanctum served several purposes. This was where Auglatha’s father, Quarion Melarue, kept his private study. It also housed a more intimate private shrine to Sehanine Moonbow as well as the sacred Well of the Moon (area 3). Finally, this was a refuge area for family members to keep safe should the keep ever fall under attack. In addition to the secret entrance from the altar room above, a secret tunnel leads out from the sanctum to a location in the woods outside Cragmaw Castle.
The Attack on the Sanctum
Auglatha’s lover, Gwinforth the human bard, learned of the sanctum’s location through Auglatha. Betraying her trust, he shared the story with Chuth, the Green Dragon with whom he was in league. When the family retreated into the sanctum, Gwinforth opened it up, and Chuth spewed his deadly poison gas into the underground chamber, killing the whole family except Auglatha who had by luck had been gathering medicinal herbs in the woods. Kobolds who served Chuth brought the bodies up to their master who devoured them one by one.
Secret Sanctum Locations
The following locations are keyed to the map of the Melarue Family Secret Sanctum.
1. Quarion Melarue’s Study
This was where Quarion Melarue, Auglatha’s father, studied the arcane arts as well write most of his correspondences. Most of these books are not spellbooks, but rather books on the theory of divination and illusion magics.
Mya’s Skeleton: Hidden underneath the desk is a small skeleton wearing the clothes of a very young elven girl. This is Mya Melarue, Auglatha’s younger sister. Although Mya had succumbed to the Green Dragon’s poison, her body had been overlooked by the Kobolds. Auglatha learned about what happened to her by casting speak with the dead. Mya had observed a human riding the back of the Green Dragon and and by her description Auglatha deduced that it could have only been Gwinforth behind her family’s death.
Bookshelf: A thorough search of the shelf will reveal a spellbook with 3-4 divination and illusion spells of the DMs choice as well as a book on the Melarue family history. Should an elven or half-elven party member be related to the Melarue family, their grandfather’s name will be written in the family tree.
Chest: The lock on this chest has been smashed open. At first glance the chest is empty. However, there is a false bottom in the chest which will be revealed with a DC 15 passive perception. Inside the false bottom is Quarion’s journal and a platinum signet ring with the Melarue family crest (worth 50gp). This signet ring may come in handy later when speaking to living members of the Melarue clan. The journal expresses concern about a Green Dragon who has made its lair near the keep, as well as concern about Auglatha spending too much time with her human lover, the bard Gwinforth.
2. Sanctum Shrine
This is a small shrine dedicated to Sehanine Moonbow. There is an alcove in the wall where a beautifully painted statue of the Melarue’s patron goddess stands. If anyone in the party has Melarue blood, they are immediately drawn to the alcove and they sense something important is behind it. A DC 10 perception check reveals that the alcove is turned slightly to the side. Auglatha, in her haste to seek revenge on Gwinforth failed to seal the alcove properly when she left.
3. Well of the Moon
The secret door to the Well of the Moon is behind the shrine to Sehanine Moonbow. Inside is a small pool that emits a bright silvery light akin to that of a full moon. Upon the surface of the water is the image of a large full moon. This was where members of the Melarue family partook in the Silver Truth (see below) as well as perform scrying spells.
Boon (The Silver Truth): Beside the well is a silver dipper set upon an ornate wooden side table with the following words written in elvish on its surface: “May the silver truth guide you”. If any party member drinks the water of the pool, they are imbued with the single-use power to remove delusions and self-deceptions from any being. They will also be able to detect delusions in any being as they speak. Once the water is imbibed, the full moon in the pool gradually fades to a faint crescent moon and to the darkness of a new moon. The well takes 30 days to return to a full moon state, whereupon a drinker can receive the Silver Truth boon again.
Sword sheath: At the south end of the room on two iron hooks is an ornate sheath of a sword with platinum and gold filigree. It looks to be valuable. Should a party member pick it up, they see a line of what seems to be moonlight pointing in a Southeastern direction. A successful Investigation or Acana check (DC10) will reveal that this is probably the location of the sword for this sheath. The sword is located in Conyberry and is in the possession of Auglatha the Banshee.
After Auglatha had cast speak with the dead on her sister to learn what had happened to her family, she went straight to the well to scry on the location of her lover Gwinforth, who was heading towards Conyberry. In a rage, she took the sword from the wall, neglecting the sheath as well as neglecting to completely seal the shrine’s secret door and left in pursuit of him.
4. Ransacked Supplies
Broken barrels and crates are strewn all about this area, covered in the fine layer of dust. These crates had been torn open by the kobolds who worked in the service of the green dragon Chuth. Nothing is in them. Anything that was not consumed on the spot was carried away.
These bedchambers served as an emergency sleeping area for the family in case of a siege. Judging by the thick layer of dust, no one has been here in a long time.
Secret Passage: To the south of the room, a DC 15 perception check will reveal a secret passage to the south. This passage leads to the woods outside of Cragmaw Castle.
Three rudimentary toilets line the far end the room.
7. Secret Passage
This secret passage is 8ft tall by 5-6ft wide. It progresses for about 500 feet before ending up in the woods outside of Cragmaw castle.
Returning to Auglatha’s Lair
Characters following the moonlight trail emitting from the sheath will eventually make it back to Auglatha’s lair. When presented with the sword and/or asked about her family’s demise she will tell her story: Of her relationship with Gwinforth and of Gwinforth’s betrayal and the attack on her family’s keep. Finally, she will tell the party about her confrontation with Gwinforth. When Auglatha faced Gwinforth to attack him, the bard pulled the sword from her hands with a telekinesis spell, and sent it straight back at her heart (and she will point to the dark hole where her heart once was). Inside the black hole in her chest is the Moonblade, the Melarue family heirloom and sacred sword.
Setting Auglatha Free
Should a party member have received the silver truth boon (mentioned above) they will notice their hands start to glow with moonlight when Auglatha speaks. According to the Monster Manual, A Banshee is “forced to relive every memory of their life with perfect recall, yet always refuses to accept responsibility for its doom.”2 so it should follow that anyone using the silver truth boon could potentially help a banshee see how she contributed to her own demise.
It was mentioned by Maciej Krzysztoszek, a member of the Lost Mines of Phandelver DMs Facebook group, that the banshee lore as it stands leads too far into victim blaming and I have to agree. Instead, it may be better to flip the lore and make it so that the reason Auglatha is a banshee is because she refuses to grant herself forgiveness. She is consumed by her guilt and fails to see how she others were more responsible than she was. To me, this is a stronger story and only requires a small tweak of the lore.
Upon using the silver truth boon on the banshee, a brilliant beam of moonlight arcs from the hand of its wielder. Upon impact with the banshee, the moonlight bursts from Auglatha’s eyes. She reaches her hand to cover her mouth and an otherworldly scream pierces the air. Since the scream is muffled, the damage to party members is not as much as a Banshee’s wail. All party members must make a DC 13 constitution save. If they fail, they take 3d6 damage. If they succeed, they take half as much.
When the scream subsides, Auglatha looks up to the party. At this point, her horrible visage reverts to a spectral version of the beautiful elven woman that she had been before. She starts sobbing both out of repressed grief and of relief. She had believed that she was to blame in the tragedy that befell her family, and refused to acknowledge the fact that it was Gwinforth and not she who was at fault. Having finally come to terms with with fact with the help of the silver truth, she is set free.
As a thanks to the party, Auglatha reaches into the black hole in her chest and pulls out her family blade. The black hole where it had been starts to slowly seal. She then disappears, free.
The moonblade (short sword) has two states, awakened and dormant.
The dormant moonblade has the following properties:
- Requires Attunement
- +1 to attack/damage. +2 to attack/damage against shapeshifters.
- If the blade comes in contact with a shapeshifter, the blade will temporarily reveal their true form (they do not revert to their true form).
- Grants the wielder the ability to cast the minor illusion cantrip.
Should the wielder engage in combat with any of the sworn enemies of the Melarue clan, the blade becomes awakened. In my run of this adventure the blade will become awakened when fighting the green dragon Chuth in Tyranny of Dragons.
The awakened moonblade has the following properties in addition to the dormant properties:
- The blade becomes sentient, and has a personality.
- +2 to attack/damage. +3 to attack/damage against shapeshifters.
- Shapeshifters have a chance to lose their form when damaged by the blade (DC 12 Constitution Saving throw, once per round). They can use their action to repeat this save on subsequent turns.
- Grants the wielder the ability to cast Spirit Guardians. 1/day. The Spirit guardians take the form of the Melarue family clan (including Auglatha). The wielder has advantage on concentration saves for this spell.
- Grants wielder the ability to cast Silent Image. 1/day.
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