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**Note: the following material is copyright 1998 by Kenneth McDonald. Copying and/or distribution is allowed only on the condition that no part of the material be used or sold for profit. All other rights are reserved by the author. The following is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to real persons or events is purely coincidental.**

Additional Note: the wilderness map and map of the ogre lair have been added in .gif format at the end of this page.

 

The Witch of Caer Burrough

A D&D 3rd edition adventure for levels 4-5

Introduction

This adventure is brief and can easily be integrated into an ongoing campaign. To ensure a chance of survival, the PC group should have at least 20 total levels and a strong mix of characters. The terrain here is set in a semi-civilized area, near a mountain range. The village of Caer Burrough, where the adventure begins, is on a minor trade route and should be foreign to the PCs.  The names of the places and deities can be adjusted to fit into whatever campaign setting you are using. 

Setting

The village of Caer Burrough is having problems. For the last two weeks, the farmers of that community have suffered ravages beyond the usual troubles of simple farming folk. At first, a few animals began to disappear here and there. Then, crops were burned or trampled in the night, with no clue as to who or what was responsible. Just last week, Friar Orthot, visiting from his nearby church, came across one of the lads from the village. The young man's skull had been crushed by a single incredible blow, seemingly beyond the power of a common human. At first the villagers suspected a beast or monster, but then yesterday something odd and evil happened which created a panic in the town. The outlying farm of Raskas Montaigne was found plundered and burned, the farmer himself, a widower, lying dead in a charred circle in front of his house. Worse, his twin children, Lila and Randal, were gone. The children were 11 years old.

The town was shocked. The next morning, a town meeting was called in front of the old inn. The angry and afraid villagers now knew what had caused these events: sorcery!  The villagers knew of an old witch that lived on the ridges north of town. Various rumors and stories of her had existed in the town for decades, but no one could remember actually seeing her. Some villagers reported seeing blue lights in the mountains on nights of the full moon. One trapper, Timon Olias, remarked that he had actually seen a shack on one of the ridges some months past but when he went to investigate a mournful wailing arose and he ran, seized by a sudden panic. He has not returned there since.

The villagers rose in desperate anger. Do not witches use foul magic, including fire? Don't they seize children to offer to foul demons, or to roast and eat? Soon cries of fury and anger replaced fear, as the villagers cry for blood.

This is the situation as the characters enter Caer Burrough.

Caer Burrough

The village of Caer Burrough is a small farming community of about 150 persons. The core of the town consists of a few buildings, including the inn, saloon, two stores, the stables, and a couple of farms. This core is centered around the town well and an outdoor shrine dedicated to Elisandra, goddess of agriculture. Most of the other farms lie outside of the village, up to 3/4ths of a mile distant. Raskas Montaigne's farm is the farthest out.

The leader of the town meeting is the elected militia captain, a retired soldier and farmer named Oman Ralcliff. The meeting is attended by about 80 people, mostly farmers and their families concerned for their safety. Only a very few people are out in the fields today, after the death of Raskas.

As the PCs enter town, they attract only cursory attention. Oman tries unsuccessfully to control the crowd, which is demanding immediate action. Eventually, if the PCs do not interfere, they elect to send a deputation of twenty men with Oman to kill the witch and recover the children.

If the PCs get involved, they can learn more about the situation as described above. If they volunteer to help, the villagers are immensely relieved- the legends concerning the witch paint her as a powerful and malicious entity, which the PCs seem able to handle (remember, these are simple folks who see few adventurers). If the PCs mind their own business, the assault force leaves in one hour. Oman is the only one with a sword, the rest being armed with staves, spears, or axes. Only a few are armored with leather armor. If they go against the witch, they will not be successful (two are killed, and the others returned terrified and shaken in two days).

If the PCs agree to face the witch, the villagers will send Timon Olias along as a guide (much to his dismay). He will avoid combat or great risks whenever possible but will not demand a share of treasure found.

Timon Olias: Human Expert 2, AC 13 (dex, leather), Init +1, Mv30, HD2d6+2, hp11, Atk +1 melee (1d6 hand axe), +3 ranged (1d6 shortbow), Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +3, Str 10, Dex 12, Con12, Int 10, Wis 11, Ch 8, Alertness, Track, Climb +5, Intuit Direction +5, Listen +5, Move Silently +6, Spot +5, Use Rope +6, Wilderness Lore +5

Equipment: leather armor, hand axe, dagger, masterwork shortbow, 20 arrows, standard pack, 26sp. 

DM's Notes

The problems facing the villagers are not being caused by the witch, although she does exist and is very powerful. A month ago, a band of ogres led by a shaman came out of the mountains to the north. They were driven out of their mountain lair by a dragon that moved into their hunting ground. The ogres eventually discovered the village, but were instructed by the shaman to stay out of sight. The shaman had been in a tribe that had encountered humans, and knew that a direct attack would only bring soldiers, mages, and perhaps even some of those damned mounted knights. He counseled a strategy of caution, while the tribe worked on establishing a semi-permanent base in the hills. They also encountered the witch's shack, but after three of their number were killed they avoid that place like the plague. Now the monsters lair in the north, in the foothills of the mountains. Game has been plentiful, and no soldiers have arrived. The few "incidents" with the humans have not drawn a response, and netted a few prime victims (the village children) for sacrifice to Vaprak, the ogre god. Life is good.

As for the witch, she is actually a powerful Diviner. She is neutral, and cares nothing for the village, ogres, or PCs. She is not evil, though, and will not needlessly kill unless provoked or injured. She hates disturbances and lives only for her magical research. Her arts and isolation from other humans have made her a little odd, but she is still very sharp and very dangerous to those seeking to harm her.

If the PCs go after the witch with violence on their minds, they are in for a tough battle. If they are cautious and parley, however, the witch may tell them about the ogres just to be rid of them.

Terrain Notes

The terrain north of the village is mostly rolling hills and dense woods. If the guide goes with them, the PCs can travel an extra 2 miles in a day. The ridges on the map consist of rocky terrain with 10-60' cliffs blocking the way. Every mile the PCs travel along a cliff, there is a 30% cumulative chance of finding a passable route over the cliffs (no climbing roll necessary). The base DC to climb the cliffs is 25.

Encounters

The only possible encounters take place within 5 miles of the ogre lair. Within this radius there is a 1 in 8 chance of encountering an ogre hunting party, checked every two hours. The party consists of 3 males (hp 28, 24, 21, see Roster for stats), which will attack any intruders on sight. If they appear to be losing they will attempt to send one of their number back to the lair to alert the others. If these three are killed, deduct them from the total number of ogres on the Roster.

The DM may introduce additional wilderness encounters if desired.

Numbered Locations

1) Caer Burrough and environs

2) Lake Ansel: a freshwater lake about two miles across. Game and fish are plentiful here, and many villagers spend time here. None will be encountered here now, of course.

3) Ogre Encampment

The ogre band has set up its lair in a ravine between two hills. The ogres do not cook during the day, and a fire is not visible from outside the ravine, so the site cannot be detected from a distance that way. None of the villagers know of this place, but the witch does.

The lair consists of four crudely constructed huts of stone and wood in the center of the ravine, and several caves down at the end of the ravine. The huts are built around a communal firepit, in which bones and other refuse of previous meals can be found. The end of the ravine, about fifty yards distant, is pockmarked with about a dozen cave entrances. Only two are large enough and deep enough for man-sized or larger creatures, and the ogres have converted these for their own use.

The ravine walls are steep but traversable without a roll at the south end, but rise to nearly vertical near the caves. The hill summits flanking the ravine are about 300 yards distant and about 100 yards higher than the ravine floor. The ogres do not keep a detailed watch, but any attack on the compound will bring more ogres to the site unless the adventurers are absolutely silent. Any ogre in battle will be very noisy, shouting and whistling and knowing that help is on the way.

Lair Key:

1) Huts: these structures are crude dwellings housing small groups of ogres. Each contains several bed piles, some tattered cloth and leather goods, and some barely serviceable weapons. There is no treasure in the huts, as the ogre males carry their treasure on them and the females and young have nothing. The occupants of each hut are listed below.

a) One male (hp22), one female (hp17), and no young.

b) One male (hp21), two females (hp22, 16), and one young (hp3). Note that the male is one of the ogres of the hunting party, and if that group was encountered and killed, he will not be here. Otherwise, there is a 40% chance that he will be absent (roll once for all three ogres involved, in areas 1b, 1c, and 3. A hunting party that is absent when the PCs arrive will return in 1d4 hours.

c) One male (hp28), one female (hp16), and one young (hp4). The male is a hunter (see 1b).

d) One male (hp21), two females (hp22, 20), no young.

2) Common Cave: this small cave contains the rest of the females and young. There are two females (hp20x2) and two young ogres (hp7, 3) here. The place is filthy but otherwise unremarkable.

3) Main Cave Entrance: this large chamber houses the remainder of the ogre warriors of the tribe: 7 males (hp29x2, 26x2, 24, 23x2). Note that the 24hp ogre is a hunter (see 1b). These beasts live in squalor, drinking, playing tenpins, or gambling over food scraps. Their raucous activity will alert anyone within 5' of the cave mouth to their presence (Listen DC0). The place is littered with bed piles, food scraps, some extra clubs, and few dull knives.

4) Slave Quarters: this cavity houses the ogres' slave orc (hp2). There is no chain or cage, as the orc is so cowed that it will never try to escape unless all the ogres are dead. The creature will in no way aid its "liberators," and may even betray them to the ogres if the opportunity presents itself. The orc is in pitiful condition, with open sores, chipped fangs, and rotted clothing.

5) Kitchen: this room has a vaulted ceiling reaching to a height of 20'. A small vent provides an exhaust for the firepit against the north wall. Cooking is done only at night so as to avoid giving away the location of the complex with smoke. No ogres are here now, as the slave does most of the cooking. A pile of dirty pots and pans lies next to the firepit. A natural stone staircase leads up to area 6.

A small nook in the east wall is blocked by a makeshift gate of wood and twine (Hardness 2, 5hp, Break DC15). This tiny cell contains the two village youths, Lila and Randal Montaigne. They are slated for sacrifice to Vaprak very soon. Both are dirty and frightened but otherwise unharmed. They will be very glad to be rescued, but will ask about their father, who they did not see or hear when they were carried out of their home by the raiding ogres.

6) Shaman's Lair: this room is currently only occupied by the shaman's wives, two mean-spirited females as strong as males (hp24, 22). The place contains a deerskin rug and has two more deerskin curtains hanging on the walls. One of these curtains conceals the stair to area 7. The rest of the room contains a bedpile of cloth and straw and a pair of water barrels, about half filled with water (the nearest stream is about 1/4 mile away). Any combat here will bring the shaman in one round. The females will fight to the death.

7) Shrine: this place is where the shaman spends most of his time. The north wall of the place has hollows gouged into it for tallow candles and earthen bowls filled with blood. The center of the wall contains a chalk drawing of a hideous ogre-like apparition with bloody fangs and claws. The shaman will be here when the PCs arrive, but will move to respond to any alert. If things go badly here he will attempt to escape via the back entrance. This is a passage, 5' wide, blocked off by heavy boulders (Strength DC20 to move). The outside entrance is concealed in brush and virtually invisible from outside (Search DC22).

The shaman has hidden the tribal treasure in a cunningly concealed nook in the south wall covered by a flat stone (Search DC20). Inside the nook are a small wooden chest and two large sacks. The sacks contain 300sp and 450cp respectively. The chest is unlocked (its lock was damaged long ago) and contains a golden goblet (180gp), four silver bracelets (20gp each), a bag of uncut obsidian chips (can be made into base 10gp gems, 20 chips total), a flask of bitter liquid which has no effect whatsoever, an arcane scroll of four spells (comprehend languages, cat’s grace, suggestion, summon monster IV) in an ivory case worth 50gp, and a small pottery jug filled with "sacred ashes" (not valuable).

OGRE ROSTER

Male ogres (11): large giant, CR2, AC16 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +5 natural, +3 hide), Init –1, Mv30, HD4d8+8, hp 29x2, 28, 26x2, 24, 23x2, 22, 21x2, Atk Huge greatclub +8 melee (2d6+7); or Huge longspear +1 ranged (2d6+5), Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +1, Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7, Weapon Focus (greatclub), Climb +4, Listen +2, Spot +2.  Each ogre carries 2-20 gp and 3-30sp, and is armed with two throwing spears and a greatclub for melee.

Female ogres (8): large giant, CR1, AC13 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +5 natural), Init –1, Mv30, HD4d8+4, hp 22x2, 20x3, 17, 16x2, Atk morningstar +5 melee (1d8+3), Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +1, Str 17, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7, Alertness, Climb +4, Listen +4, Spot +4.  The females have no treasure and are armed with morningstars.

Young ogres (4): medium-sized giant, CR½, AC 12 (-1 dex, +3 natural), Init –1, Mv20, HD1d8+1, hp 7, 4, 3x2, Atk punch +2 melee (1d3+1 subdual), Fort +3, Ref –1, Will –1, Str 13, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 4, Wis 8, Cha 7, Climb +2.

Shaman's concubines: as males with hp 24, 22, armed with huge maces (D2d6+7).

Shaman: Ogre Adept 3, CR4, AC 16 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +5 natural, +3 hide), Init –1, Mv30, HD4d8+3d6+14, hp42, Atk Huge morningstar +10 melee (2d6+7), Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +5, Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int10, Wis12, Cha 9, Weapon Focus (morningstar), Climb +4, Listen +4, Spot +4, Wilderness Lore +7.

Equipment/treasure: huge masterwork morningstar, 55gp, a bracelet of human skulls, two daggers, a ring of feather falling, a bronze necklace set with obsidian chips (60gp), potions of bull’s strength and cure moderate wounds, and a holy symbol of Vaprak (a taloned hand, in this case grotesquely fashioned from iron). The shaman carries the following spells:

0/detect magic, 0/ghost sound, 0/read magic, 1/burning hands, 1/endure elements, 1/protection from good

If possible the shaman will cast the last two spells on himself, and drink his potion of bull’s strength, before entering battle.

Shaman’s familiar: bat (hp21)

4) The Witch's Shack

The lair of the witch Gazelmda is a crude yet sturdy stone hut built at the top of a gentle slope up against a 50' high cliff.  The place is fairly thickly wooded and the shack is not visible until someone gets within 100 yards of it.  A wisp of smoke can be detected from the chimney of the place as the PCs approach.  The area immediately surrounding the shack has been cleared and a pile of firewood lies outside the door of the place. The skulls of several small animals can be found tacked to nearby trees and rocks, creating a macabre air. Two windows are visible but are curtained.

The witch will most likely be alerted to the approach of the PCs via her wolves, and will use her prying eyes and/or scrying spells to examine them as they approach. If they appear hostile, she will remain in the shelter of her home and will attempt to scare them off with Fear and/or other non-lethal spells cast from the security of her home. If they attempt to parley peaceably she tells them to go away in a less than polite manner. If the PCs attack, Gazelmda will immediately switch to destructive force and will send her minions to attack as well. She will call out to the nearby woods, where her wolves and the ogre skeletons are hidden and waiting for her command.  If the shack is rushed she will become invisible and retreat to a better position. She may retreat but will in no case allow her home to be ransacked.

If the party maintains an even keel the witch will deny involvement in the problems of the villagers and will even tell them of the ogres and their lair. If treated respectfully or if given a gift of magic she will tell the party the ogres' approximate strength and tell them that a shaman leads them.

Witch's lair: monster key

Gazelmda: Human female diviner, 9th level
STR 8
DEX 11
CON 13
INT 17
WIS 16
CHA 9
Alignment: Neutral; Age: 77; Height: 5'4"; Weight: 98lbs
Armor Class: 12 (16 with mage armor)
Hit Points: 30

Attack: dagger +4 melee (1d4-1 damage)

Saves: Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +13

Feats and Skills: Brew Potion, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (enchantment), Spell Penetration, Alchemy +15, Concentration +13, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (the planes) +13, Listen +6, Scry +15, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +15, Spot +7

Equipment: masterwork dagger, ring of animal friendship, ring of protection +2, cloak of resistance +2, spell components for all memorized spells, flint and steel, a silver whistle that seems silent but which will bring her wolves running if they are within 1 mile (50gp value), a wand of dispel magic with 11 charges left, and three potions: gaseous form, invisibility, and cure moderate wounds.

Spells (opposition: Evocation): 0/Detect magic, 0/Detect Poison, 0/Ghost Sound, 0/Read Magic, 1/Charm Person, 1/Comprehend Languages, 1/Mage Armor, 1/Shocking Graspx2, 1/Silent Image, 2/Endurance, 2/Invisibility, 2/Protection from Arrows, 2/Pyrotechnics, 2/See Invisibility, 2/Spectral Hand, 3/Clairaudience/clairvoyance, 3/Hold Person, 3/Slow, 3/Summon Monster III, 4/Fear, 4/Scrying, 4/Stoneskin, 5/Feeblemind, 5/Prying Eyes

Note that the witch will cast many of the above spells, including Stoneskin, Mage Armor, Endurance, Protection from Arrows, See Invisibility, and Comprehend Languages (in that order) before encountering the PCs, unless they are somehow able to avoid detection from the wolves and surprise her.

Razag and Terzag, dire wolves: large animal, CR3, AC14 (-1 size, +2 dex, +3 natural), Init +2, Mv50, HD6d8+18, hp44, 41, Atk bite +10 melee (D1d8+10), SA trip, Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +6, Str 25, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10, Hide +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +5, Spot +6, Wilderness Lore +1

 

Ogre skeletons (3): large undead, CR1, AC13 (-1 size, +1 dex, +3 natural), Init +5, Mv40, HD2d12, hp13 each, Atk huge greatclub +2 melee (D2d6+3), Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3, Str 14, Dex 12, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 11, Improved Initiative

The hut itself is a one-room structure. The place contains a bed, tables, a few chairs, and a fireplace. The rest of the place is given up to magical paraphernalia and miscellaneous (if strange) items: bones, skulls, animal remains, cryptic scrolls with arcane writing, astrological charts, and unusual concoctions. Most of the stuff is worthless or of little value, but the following items can be found:

A glass decanting apparatus with beakers and tubes: worth 100gp to an alchemist

A vial of diamond dust marked "ash 2", worth 500gp to an alchemist or wizard

A finely polished silver mirror, concealed under a fur wall hanging, worth 1000gp

A vial of deadly poison in a vial marked "healing" (poison: Fort DC18, 1d6Con/2d6Con)

A non-descript bag containing 230gp and 35sp

A quarterstaff carved with magical scenes and demonic visages (a gift from a fellow wizard for services rendered). It is slightly magical: if the word "spark" is spoken while holding it the staff will produce a spark sufficient to light a torch or other prepared fire source.

Several well-tanned furs worth 50gp total (weighing 150lbs altogether)

The witch's spellbooks are in a secret nook in the fireplace. The stone that covers the nook is protected by a spring blade trap: it attacks the hand of whoever moves the stone without disarming the trap with a +10 attack and does 1 point of damage. The blade is, however, coated with deadly posion (Fort DC18, 1d6Con/2d6Con). The nook contains 2 old and heavy books and a gold disk set with magical symbols (worth 200gp, the symbols are meaningless).

The first book contains all of the witch's memorized spells of levels 1-4, plus 2/Whispering Wind, 3/Gaseous Form, and 4/Detect Scrying. The second contains her 5th level memorized spells plus 5/Animate Dead and 5/Contact Other Plane.

Aftermath

If the PCs defeat the ogres and return to the village, they are hailed as heroes. For that matter, if they defeat the witch and return, they are hailed as heroes. In the latter case, however, the troubles afflicting the villagers will continue and the PCs may have a bit more work to do. If they succeed the villagers heap free food and drink upon them, and offer them wealth (at least by their standards; the "wealth" includes farm plots outside of town, a cow, a bag of 50 copper pieces, and a stuffed deer's head). Soon, the PCs will probably want to move on.

Experience

Award standard combat experience awards.  If the PCs provoke or ambush the witch you may want to factor down the experience award for her, as she is not evil and not the real target anyway.  If the PCs defeat the ogres and save the villagers I suggest a 1000xp story award.  If they deal well with the witch and discover more about the ogres before meeting them, add an additional 200xp for the player(s) who promoted this idea.

 


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