Beauty and The Beast

A family-friendly adventure for characters 1st to 4th levels

Illustration for Beauty and the Beast by Walter Crane.This adventure is intended for up to 4 characters of 1st to 4th level. This adventure relies on role play, exploration, problem-solving and a skill challenge. There is the opportunity for combat at several stages of the adventure.

This adventure was inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

Special thanks to my daughter for the inspiration and plot twists.

Adventure Hook(s)

The party encounters a merchant on his way to attend the wedding of his oldest daughter. His cart is filled with fine fabrics, clothes, jewels, silver and china; everything he needs for the wedding except the food and entertainment. 

The merchant is very worried that he may encounter bandits along the road and is prepared to pay handsomely for the party to escort him on his trip.

While on the road the merchant tells the party the sad story of how he lost his youngest daughter to a monster. He fears that he will never see her again. 

Upon reaching the merchant’s home, the party is greeted by the family and, to the merchant’s surprise, his youngest daughter. In his giddiness over the safe return of his daughter, the merchant insists on the party staying for the wedding, which will be the next day.

At the wedding, it will become obvious that the youngest daughter is dressed more finely and wears the most beautiful jewelry of all the daughters. She will tell anyone that asks that they are gifts from the beast that keeps her prisoner. 

After the wedding, the merchant’s youngest daughter tells her father that she must return to the lair of the beast or be cursed forever. The next morning, the young woman is gone and the merchant offers the party a chest of gold and jewels if they can return his daughter safely.

Party Goals

First the party must get the merchant safely home. They will need to defend the merchant and his goods from bandits along the way. See NPCs Appendix below for bandits.

The party must travel a long forgotten and overgrown road to find the entrance to the lair of the beast, an overgrown castle, high on the cliffs overlooking the sea.

The party must enter the castle grounds, to find and rescue the merchant’s daughter.

Once inside they they will find out that they have all been cursed and that they must help lift the curse so that everyone can leave.

Complications & Opportunities

  • The road to the merchant’s home is plagued by bandits. Perhaps after the main adventure, the party may want to track the bandits back to their lair and bring them to justice.
  • The wedding is a large affair and there are many rich and powerful people in attendance. Should the players like to roleplay the party, they can meet and make some very good connections that may prove helpful in future adventures.
  • The road to the castle, the woods surrounding the castle and the castle grounds are patrolled by several packs of wild animals. They will use hit-and-run tactics in an attempt to distract and lead the party away from the castle. They are in telepathic communication with the beast, who will guide and command them. See random encounters below.
  • The outer wall of the castle is overgrown with rose bushes and thorny vines. These are enchanted and will defend the castle against intruders. See Wall of Thorns.
  • Upon entering the grounds, all of the characters will be cursed. The curse transforms the character into a ware-beast. While inside the castle grounds, they characters will appear normal; however, if they leave the grounds without breaking the curse, they will transform into their beast form. 
  • Only the magic ring worn by the merchant’s daughter will allow a cursed character to remain “normal” outside the castle grounds. The ring only works for up to 3 days per lunar cycle.
  • The merchant’s daughter does not want to go. She is in love with the beast and wants to find a way to break the curse.
  • At the center of the rose garden maze, there is a magic rose bush and hourglass. They are the key to breaking the curse. 
  • Breaking the curse will restore the castle to its original beauty and remove the ware-beast curse from the characters. The packs of wild beasts will be magically restored and revealed to be the original inhabitants of the castle.

About The Castle Grounds

Once inside the castle walls, the players will notice that thorny vines have overgrown the entire estate. The vines will magically move to allow them to move deeper into the castle grounds. Characters will also find that the vines will restrict, slow and damage them if they try to leave the grounds. See Wall of Thorns.

If the characters possess any magical flight, they will find that the magic does not work within the grounds of the castle. Characters that are able to fly without the aid of magic will find that they are harassed and attacked by flocks of birds or bats, depending on the time of day.

Fantasy Castle Pinterest Board

Removing the Curse

To break the curse, a rose must be clipped from the bush at the center of the hedge maze on the castle grounds and placed in the keyhole of the front gate. Clipping the rose will start the sands of a magical hourglass that will last 8 turns. The players have until the sands run out before the rose dies and it will no longer break the curse. 

Running the Gauntlet

Removing the curse requires characters complete a skill challenge. For inspiration on how this works, I recommend Matt Colville’s video Skill Challenges! Running the Game #21, which is embedded below. Skip to 5:55 for mechanics of how to run the skill challenge.

The characters must pass 5 of 8 skill challenges. Each round, one player chooses a skill they have not already used and they roll using that skill bonus against a DC of 10. Feel free to increase or decrease the DC depending on the level of the characters. Each character gets one helping action during the gauntlet, which they can use to give another character advantage on their skill check.

Assuming the character running the gauntlet has a +0 on each of the skills they choose and they have one inspiration, there is a 50% chance they will successfully complete the gauntlet. With 3 characters giving the helping action, there is a 72% chance of success. Feel free to check my math on that 🙂

The DM will describe how the characters choice of skill and the result of the dice roll impact them in their race to the gate. Listen to the beginning of Matt’s video for inspiration on how he uses description to convey the excitement of a skill challenge.

Skill Check Descriptions

Here are some example descriptions for various skill check successes and failures.

Before the Roll: Running full speed, a thick root that suddenly erupts from the ground. You try to leap and dive over it. 

Success: You nimbly flip over the thick root.

Fail: You try to leap and flip over the root only to find yourself face down in the dirt. Glancing back as you pick yourself up to continue your run you see the thick tree root slowly sinking back into the ground.

Before The Roll: You notice a wolf is running with you, keeping pace as you dodge and leap over the vines. Catching the wolf’s eye you are sure it winked at you. You turn suddenly as a large pile of vines reaches for you. You run straight at the wolf and, to your surprise, you find the wolf understands your plan.

Success: You slide on the ground and the wolf leaps over you, blocking the vines.

Fail: You leap into the air, intending to jump over the wolf and use it to block the vines but you smash headlong into the wolf. Both of you tumble for several feet before you are able to get back up and resume your race to the front gate.

Before the Roll: The gate lomes closer with every step. As you dodge and weave around the tangled vines you recall a story you once read about a farmer who used salt to rid his fields of a magical vine. You realize with glee that you still have the small bag of salt from your mess kit in your pocket. As the next large vine reaches out to grab you, you throw the bag of salt at it.

Success:  The bag explodes and salt flies all over the vine causing it to shrivel and retreat away from you.

Fail: The bag explodes and salt flies all over the vine, but it has no effect. You are forced to change direction and run the other way to avoid being tangled in the vines.

Before the Roll: Seeing a clearing in the vines, you begin to sprint at top speed in hopes you can get through before the vines can close the gap.

Success: Running faster than you thought possible, you easily make it through the clearing.

Fail: You push yourself and begin to run as fast as you can only to feel a cramp in your leg. The mussel contracts painfully and you are forced to slow down. You barely make it through the gap ahead of the vines closing in on you.

Before the Roll: Running blindly through the castle grounds in the general direction of the front gate, you find yourself faced with a solid wall of vines blocking your path. Thinking quickly, you drop the rose and scream at the vines, “Fine! You win! The rose is dead! Satisfied?”

Success: The vines pull themselves back into a row of hedges revealing the path forward to the gate. 

Fail: The vines move forward as if attracted to the rose. After losing precious seconds, you snatch up the rose and double back around the wall to find another path.

Before the Roll: Ahead of you a series of stone arches are arranged in a circle. You recognize the formation as being the outer wall of an open air theater.

Success: Remembering that open air theaters are bowl shaped with steep stone stairs, you change directions and run around the outside of wall. As you do, you see that the theater is fill with water, mud and thick vines.  

Fail: You run through the archway, leaping down the stairs. You are unprepared for the thick mud that you land in. Your feet sink up to the ankles and you lose precious seconds trying to free yourself.

Before the Roll: You round the corner and find yourself looking down a narrow stone corridore, not much more than an alleyway.

Success: You realize that this is the perfect place for an ambush. You quickly run along the the grounds seeking another path forward.

Fail: You hope that the vines can’t see you as you race forward. Just as you are about to exit the other end, thick vines come over the wall and block you. You quickly backtrack to find another way around.

Before the Roll: You come to a stop. In front of you is a huge garden sculpture of an elephant. It has come to life and is blocking your way. You begin screaming and run directly at the leafy elephant. 

Success: To your surprise it is startled for a moment, but that is all you need. You slide under it and come up running on the other side.

Fail: The elephant roars back at you loud enough your ears hurt. As your head spins from the deafening sound, you stumble, then run trying to find a way around it.

Before the Roll: You stop for a moment to catch you breath. Ahead lies three paths. You quickly investigate them to see which is your best route.

Success: You make your choice and begin running as fast as you can down your chosen path. 

Fail: You begin running down your chosen path and quickly realize that it is heading the wrong direction. You are heading the wrong way. After a quick backtrack, you choose another path and hope for the best.

Before the Roll: Your boots are not made for running. You feel a blister forming from where the boot is rubbing your heel.

Success: You quickly rip a piece of your shirt off. You stop only long enough to cram into the toe of your boot, before you are off again. You know that this is only a temporary fix, but it only has to last a couple of minutes.

Fail: Your boots are rubbing blisters into the heel of your feet. You have no idea what to do. The pain slows your run more than you want to admit.

Before the Roll: Watching the way the vines move, you think you have figured out a way to use their own mass against them. You run toward a large mass of vines and watch as the twist and pile up trying to block your way. 

Success: Quickly you change direction and take advantage of the opening they have created on the opposite side.

Fail: You miscalculated how quickly and easily the vines can move. You stumble into them suffering more cuts and bruises. Even worse, you lose more time untangling yourself from the vines.

Before the Roll: You smell smoke and remember that you saw a large column of smoke coming from somewhere on the castle grounds. Thinking quickly you change course and head for the glittering of fire light you see between the trees.

Success: Lightening must have struck a tree and started a fire here. You race forward through the recently burnt area, and no vines dare to pursue you. 

Fail: You enter a clearing, fire burning all around. Flames block your way.

Before the Roll: Racing past a tree, one of the roots lifts up and tries to trip you. Your easily skip over the root. As you do, you pretend to trip, throwing the rose high in the air and stumbling forward.

Success: The vines are fooled by your performance. They wait to see where you will fall before closing in. You catch the rose and quickly run toward the gate.

Fail: Your fake stumble turns into a real fall. You scramble to recover the flower from the ground and continue racing for the gate.

Before the Roll: Stumbling, you fall and the vines pile up blocking your way. You plead with the vines, “Come on! Haven’t they suffered enough?”

Success: Several wild boar emerge from the brush. They charge forward plowing the vines. You see an opening and race through shouting your thanks over your shoulder.

Fail: The do not move. You stand up and begin running in hopes of finding another way through. 

Before the Roll: Getting closer to the gate, you find yourself ankle deep in thorny vines. In you call out your god’s name in a desperate pleading voice. 

Success: The clouds part and a bright ray of moonlight reflects off a sword buried in the vines. You grab it and use it to chop your way free.

Fail: The clouds part and a bright ray of moonlight reflects off a sword buried in the vines. You grab it and try to use it to chop your way free, but it breaks on a stone. 

Before the Roll: You feel a vine wrap around the hand in which you carry the rose.

Success: With a deft flick of the rist you push the rose up your sleeve. You free your hand and race on towards the gate.

Fail: You try to shove the flower up your sleeve and miss. The rose drops to the ground. You waste precious seconds freeing yourself from the vine then recovering the fallen rose.

Before the Roll: Racing ahead of the vines, you turn the corner and find a cubby hole in the wall. This may be your chance. You hide in the shadows and hold your breath.

Success: You hear the vines moving along the wall. After the sounds pass, you peek out and see your chance. You double back and find the way is clear. 

Fail: The vines close over your hiding spot. You force your way through regretting the time this has cost you.

Before the Roll: There is no other way around. The only way forward is through the vines and they are piling higher by the second. Trusting in your skills and your boots, you push forward. You are reminded of the time you went hunting for blackberries and got stuck.

Success:  The lessons learned that day come in handy as you pick your way through this patch of thorny vines. 

Fail: You regret the fact that you did not learn your lesson from the blackberry bushes. You move slowly and cautiously, losing precious time.

Success or Failure

Failure means spending another day in the cursed castle. A new rose will grow each day. Success brings an end to the curse.

Appendix: NPCs

Bella, The Merchant’s Daughter – A sweeter, more elegant person is hard to find. Bella is as beautiful as she is humble. The youngest of four sisters, she is well acquainted with both handling conflict and chores with grace.

Griffon, The Beast – Crown Prince of the forgotten kingdom of Feder, Griffon is cursed to remain a half-beast, half-man forever, or until the curse can be lifted. Due to the curse, Griffon and the entire population of the castle are functionally immortal. That is to say, they will not die of old age, but they can be killed through normal means. Use the Werewolf monster for Griffon’s combat stats. 

Jonathan Reed, The Merchant – Jonathan has built a thriving business trading in fabrics and spices. He has two simple rules for life: 1) Fairtrade is the best trade. 2) Respect & manners will make you welcome everywhere you go. 

The merchant’s daughters: Gabrielle, Lauralie, Amanda, and Bella.

Appendix: Random Encounters

The following encounter table is to be used for the road, woods, and grounds of the castle. The creatures will use hit-and-run tactics in an attempt to distract and lead the party away from the castle. They are in telepathic communication with the beast, who will guide and command them. The creatures are transformed residents of the castle and they have no interest in dying. They will flee combat when injured.

1-51d6 +1Boar (soldiers)
6-81d4 +1Wolves (king’s guards)
9-151d4Rat swarms (servents)
15-181d4Giant Rats (members of the court)
191Panther (the queen)
201Brown Bear (the king)

All creatures are also taken from the basic rules and/or Monster Manual.6

Appendix: Treasure / Magic Items

ring of the moon d&d homebrew magic ring. Actual ring available at Amazon.comFull Moon Ring – This ring has the power to block the transformation of a ware-beast for up to 3 days per lunar cycle. The ring will magically resize to fit any finger on any creature up to giant size.

The ring will automatically regain charges. No attunement is necessary for this magic item. Non-lycanthropes (ware-creatures) gain immunity to being infected by lycanthrope bites and scratches.

Hourglass of Aln d&d homebrew magic ring. Actual ring available at Amazon.comHourglass of Aln – An ancient and unique artifact, the Hourglass of Aln is capable of manipulating the duration and timing of magic spells and curses. 

Spellcasters can use the hourglass as a focus when casting a spell. When they do so, it adds one of the following effects. The hourglass can only affect one spell at a time. Using the hourglass as a focus on a second spell will break the connection with the previous spell.

  • Delayed Action – The caster can stipulate a delay in the activation of the spell by up to 1 hour.
  • Extended Duration – The duration of the spell can be doubled for up to a maximum of 1 hour.
  • Suspend Effects – When casting long-duration spells, the spell’s effects can be suspended while the sand is running, for up to 1 hour. The total time of the spell’s duration is not affected. For example, a spell with a duration of 1 hour can have its effects suspended for 1 hour, essentially negating the effects of the spell for its entire duration. For permanent spells, the effects can be suspended once per day.

The hourglass must be used by the caster when casting the spell. It does not affect spells after they are cast or spells cast by other spell casters.

Appendix: Maps

I do not recommend using maps for this adventure. Doing so will slow down gameplay. I recommend using images from the Pinterest boards above as visual aids. If you must use a map, check out my Pinterest map board below.

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