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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.**

 

The Village of Northpine: mini-adventure 2

2) Recover a Magic Item
The sage Nordrum is treated with some wariness by the villagers of Northpine. Although he has now lived in the village for almost two years, there is an air of temporariness about him; maybe it's the way he has avoided forming close relationships with the other villagers, or the way that wagon of his has sat in front of his little house, still full of unpacked furnishings. He gets occasional visitors who have the look of having come far to see him; they are usually strangely dressed and talk in foreign accents. Indeed, to Northpine, Nordrum is something of a puzzle- but if the folk of the village know anything, it's how to mind their own business.

Nordrum has spent the last two years researching the history of the empire that once existed in this area, using agents of his sponsors in Adelmar to bring him books, check up on leads, and deliver his reports. He could in all likelihood do his research in the big city, but Nordrum enjoys the quiet life in Northpine, and while the villagers might be surprised to hear it, he actually likes the people of the little town.

Recently Nordrum stumbled across some information regarding a potent magical item from this lost era, the Lamp of Kharrduz. This divination aid was believed lost or destoyed in the chaos that followed the breakup of the empire, but this new information hinted that it had in fact been taken and hidden… in a place well-known to Nordrum, for its ruin lay only a few days' travel away from Northpine!  Unfortunately, this ruin is situated in the midst of the Gray Hills, a region avoided by humans for good reason.  Excited at the prospect of a new discovery, but aware that the ruins have no doubt been searched and plundered many times in the past centuries, Nordrum is now looking for a likely group of adventurers to go and investigate, and see if the Lamp can indeed be found.

The sage has paid the youth Indel to look out for a suitable group of adventurers, and to inform him of their presence in town. If such a group arrives in Northpine (and perhaps successfully deals with the bandit problem described above), the sage will go to where they are staying and secretly use Detect Thoughts to get a sense of their trustworthiness. If they do not seem to be of evil bent, he will have Indel invite the strangers to his house.

Nordrum's offer will include a basic outline of the mission as described above, and a reward of 500 gold pieces to recover the lamp.  If they seem reluctant, or try to bargain for more, he can go up to 800gp and will throw in his potion of levitation and his scrolls of magic-user and cleric spells.  He won't pay an advance, but will promise 1/2 payment if they go to the ruins but can't find the lamp (remember, he's got Detect Thoughts to keep the party "honest," but don't tell the players that- let them think the old guy's gullible).

To the Ruin
The ruin is some four days' travel north-northeast of the village, in the midst of the Gray Hills south of the Tamalis Forest. Both areas are known (and the PCs can get this information from the villagers, if they think to ask) for dangerous humanoids and other creatures that don't take kindly to human intruders. No roads cross through this region, and most travelers are quite content to take the long detour to Crosspath rather than risk a faster route to the cities of Maletai along the Wild River many leagues to the east. Nordrum will give the adventurers a very basic map of the area with a list of landmarks that can guide the party to the ruin, so there is little chance of getting lost. The group may be slowed, however, by having to seek out the various markers indicated on the map.

(note: I have not provided a map or a list of the landmarks, as these are not integral to the goal of the mission. If the DM wishes, though, he/she may prepare a map to hand out the players, and create additional encounters on the way to the ruin)

Wilderness Encounters
No encounters will occur within 10 miles of the village or the north/south road. Once in the hills, roll once every 8 hours, with a 1 in 6 chance of an encounter. If an encounter occurs, roll 1d6 on the following table (reroll if the encounter rolled has already taken place):

(1-2) Orc hunting party: five orcs armed with longswords and longspears. One carries a light crossbow with 10 bolts. They wear heavy packs with camping gear and two days rations of dubious origin.  They know the location of the ruins and the lair there, but will not reveal this information unless magically coerced. Each carries 3d10sp.

Orc warriors: Medium-sized humanoid, CR½, AC 14 (scale mail), Init +0, Mv20, HD1d8, hp4 each, Atk +3 melee, D 1d8+3 (longspear), Fort +2, Ref +0, Will –1, Str 15, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 8, Alertness, Listen +2, Spot +2
(3) A giant rock toad that will attack aggressively anything that looks edible.

Giant rock toad: Medium-sized animal, CR1, AC14 (+3 natural, +1 dex), Init +1, Mv30, HD2d8+4, hp14, Atk +2 melee, D 1d6+1, Str 12, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 6, Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +0, Hide +6/+10*, Jump +10*, Listen +2, Spot +2

*Due to their coloration, rock toads receive a +4 racial bonus to Hide checks in rocky terrain.  They also receive a +4 racial bonus to Jump checks, and are not limited to the usual height multiplier when jumping. 
(4) Three giant worker ants (AC3, HD2, hp 6 each, A1, D1-6, THAC019). These creatures are searching for food and their nest won't be found anywhere nearby.  They aren’t overly aggressive but may be dangerous if provoked (and, of course, it’s always possible that one will identify a halfling or gnome PC as “food”). 

Giant worker ants: medium-sized vermin, CR1, AC 17 (+7 natural), Init +0, Mv50, Atk +1 melee, D bite 1d6, SA improved grab, Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0, Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int -, Wis 11, Cha 9, Climb +8, Listen +5, Spot +5.
(5) Party of six dwarves.  While reserved to the point of gruffness, they will not be hostile unless provoked, and if treated politely or given a small bribe they can provide vague directions to the ruin and warn that orcs are present in the general area.  They will not provide any other assistance to the party, citing pressing business to the south. Each carries 2d10gp.

Dwarf warriors: medium-sized humanoid, CR½, AC17 (chainmail, large steel shield), Init +0, Mv15, Atk +3 melee (1d8+1 battleaxe), +1 ranged (1d10 heavy crossbow), Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0, Str 12, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 8, Weapon Focus (battleaxe), Appraise +2, Craft (metalworking) +2, Listen +2, Spot +2.
(6) A wounded and very irate cyclopskin.  He came across the orc camp recently, and the encounter did not go well for him (although he left a few dead orcs behind).  He will be happy to take out his frustrations on a small group of adventurers, although a tough-looking group may be able to bluff or bribe him off.  He carries a large club and a heavy sling. He carries 85sp and 30gp in a belt pouch.

Wounded Cyclopskin: medium-size giant, CR5 (3 due to currently weakened condition), AC17 (-1 dex, +8 natural), Init –1, Mv30, HD5d8+10, hp31 (currently 17), Atk +7 melee (greatclub 1d10+4), +0 ranged (1d6 heavy sling), Fort +6, Ref +0, Will +1, Str 19, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 8, Cleave, Power Attack, Climb +8, Listen +1, Spot +1.

The Ruin
The ruin/orc camp is situated in a deep cleft some 100' across and 60' deep that stretches for about 500 yards along a east/west axis. A steep but passable slope provides access to the cleft at each end but cliffs extend along the rest of its length. The ruin consists of little more than cracked flagstones and the foundations of a few shattered structures long since gone, and part of it actually continues atop the southern cliff on a raised, uneven ridge that gives way onto more hills to the south (the ruin predates the cleft and was once atop a broad plateau that was sundered by earth tremors long after its human occupants left). The place was once an outpost with a 100' tower in the center, although no details of that structure other than a vague foundation remain.

EXPLANATION OF THE MAP: The faint tracings at area 1 mark the foundations of ruined buildings.  Areas 2-4 on the map below are located inside the cliff along the southern edge of the canyon floor; access to areas 5-11 is from atop the cliff (so area 5 is about sixty feet southeast of, and sixty feet higher than, the entrance to area 2).

1) THE RUIN
As mentioned above, little remains of the outpost except for uneven piles of ancient stone blocks and some shattered flagstones worn down by centuries of air and water. Only one of the old foundations shows any sign of repair, as it has been partially rebuilt to serve as a watchstation for two orcs. Each is armed with a longsword and light crossbow with 10 bolts. They are supposed to be watching for intruders and provide warning for the orcs in the cave, but they are somewhat lax in their duty (-5 to Spot checks) and may not actually detect intruders approaching unless they are making a lot of noise.  One of the orcs carries a small horn that it will blow to alert its comrades in area 2, who will arrive in 2 rounds. Each orc carries 3d10sp in personal treasure.

Orcs: hp4 each, see stats above.

2) CAVERN
This large natural cave is about 30 by 40 feet in size with a rough ceiling about 15 feet high. Loose rock clutters the sides of the room. The place currently quarters 6 orcs. Each carries a longsword, longspear, and 3d10sp. Fighting here will draw help from area 3 in two rounds. If alerted by the watchers in area 1 above, they will move out to attack the intruders, after shouting for the others at 3 (who will arrive two rounds after this group). The room contains the bedpiles of the orcs as well as their treasure, buried under the floor in a small sack (Search DC20 to find): 120cp, 65sp, and 15ep. A passage of worked stone leads west to area 3.

Orcs: hp4 each, see stats above.

3) REC ROOM
This 20' square room has an 8' ceiling. A small fire burns in one corner, providing light for three orcs playing knucklebones. These three are the fiercest warriors in the group and do not associate with the "lesser" orcs. Two carry greataxes while the third fights with a heavy mace +1. Each carries 1d10sp, 2d6gp, and a trophy of a vanquished opponent; one carries a polished human skull, another the tooth of a giant lizard, the last a silver brooch worth 30gp. The room is otherwise unremarkable except for the dice (ivory, worth 20gp) and 30sp in the pot (if called to battle the warriors hurriedly pocket the cash before taking up their weapons and rushing to the fray). The passage south is completely blocked by rubble, but a narrow stair leads to area 4.

Orc leaders (Fighter 1): medium-sized humanoids, CR1, AC15 (breastplate), Init +0, Mv20, HD1d10, hp7 each, Atk +4 melee (1d12+3 greataxe), or +5 melee (1d8+3 mace +1), Str 15, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 8, Alertness, Weapon Focus (greataxe or heavy mace), Listen +2, Spot +2.

4) DISMAL ROOM
This room is dirty and unlit, with lichens growing on the walls. The body of a human lies on the ground, having been killed by the orcs only two days earlier. He is dressed as a cleric of Laesil, goddess of luck (his ran out), and has been looted thoroughly except for a map in his left boot that outlines the ruins, the cave entrance (though nothing beyond that), and the area on the cliffs above to the south, including a caption that reads "suspicious hole: should investigate" (this depicts the area 5 and the entrance to the rest of the complex). Unfortunately for him and his companions, they never got the chance to return.

5) SECOND CAVE ENTRANCE
Atop the cliffs to the south, roughly above the cave entrance (to area 2), another cluster of old stone blocks and assorted rubble stands amidst tangled weeds and thick, clinging brush. The ruins extend back some 60' back from the cliff, culminating in a roughly square foundation some 30' across. At the eastern end of this foundation, half-hidden by brush and creeping undergrowth (Search DC10), there is a gaping, 5' wide hole that gives way to a 20' drop to area 6.

A poisonous snake lives in the foundation as well, which will not take well to any intrusions into its lair. It has no treasure.

Snake, Viper: medium-sized animal, CR1, AC 16 (+3 Dex, +3 natural), Init +3, Mv20, HD2d8, hp10, Atk +4 melee, D bite 1d4-1+poison (DC11, primary and secondary damage 1d6 Con), Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +1, Str 8, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2, Weapon Finesse (bite), Balance +11, Climb +11, Hide +12, Listen +9, Spot +9.

6) SMALL CAVE
This natural cave is barren and smells of bat guano. There is a 5' drop into area 7.

7) BAT CAVE
This cave contains 100 bats. If startled by bright light or noise they will fly about, bumping into characters and putting out their light sources (DM's discretion). In 1-6 rounds they will filter out of the cave. Bat guano coats the floor of the cave, and if characters attempt to run or move quickly here they must make a dexterity check (DC10) or fall.

8) WATERFALL
A rough, 4' wide passage with a 5' ceiling leads from area 7 to a small pool that spills over into the larger part of this room. The lower pool, 3' deep, is 10 feet below the level of the upper, and drains into a narrow tube too small to enter. The players will have to devise some way to negotiate the falls (the base Climb DC to descend along the waterfall is 35!), although falling into the lower pool will cause no damage (fragile items may suffer breakage, at DM's discretion). A 5'x5' patch of dry land is at the far end of the lower pool and provides access to a 3' circular tunnel that drops sharply to the east. This smooth passageway (it was once another waterway) drops at a 45 degree angle sixty feet to area 9.

9) POOL
The tunnel from area 8 ends near the ceiling of this room, 6' off the floor. A 2' deep pool fills the majority of the room.  A worked passageway is visible at the other end of the room, its floor some 4 feet above the water level. Another narrow tube, now above the level of the pool in the middle of the east wall, used to provide runoff when the underground stream ran through here.  Half-submerged in the water and encrusted with mineral deposits are three humanoid skeletons, long forgotten guardians of this place, that will animate if the pool is entered by a living creature.

Skeletons: medium-sized undead, CR1/3, AC13 (+1 dex, +2 natural), Init +5, Mv30, HD1d12, hp5, Atk 2 claws +0 melee (1d4), SA Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2, Str 10, Dex 12, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 11, Improved Initiative.

Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

Immunities (Ex): Skeletons have cold immunity. Because they lack flesh or internal organs, they take only half damage from piercing or slashing weapons.

10) EMPTY HALL
This chamber's walls are formed of ancient stone blocks and its ceiling rises to a vault some 15' above. An 8' wide archway guards a passage to the south. Another passage once led north but is now choked with rubble.

11) SHRINE
In the arched entry to this room lies a human skull. Right under it is a pressure plate, roughly 4' square (Search DC20 to detect). If 10lbs pressure is put on it, the heavy 5’x5’stone block in the ceiling directly above the passage will fall, striking the character or characters standing atop the plate. The block weighs several hundred pounds and victims who fail Reflex save (DC15) will be crushed and pinned, killed by the trap. A character who passes the check will suffer only a glancing blow for 1-6 points of damage.

A faint smell of death hangs over the place. The floor of the room is loosely packed earth, save for a slightly raised portion in the alcove to the east. Standing atop a 4' high block of stone in this corner rests the Lamp of Kharrduz. Lying next to it is a black leather bag, nearly rotted away. If either is touched, or if the party remains here longer than one turn, the Lamp's guardian will burrow up from the floor and attack.

The "guardian" is a ghast, compelled to remain in this place by eldritch magic and frustrated by its long unsated lust for human flesh. It will fight until destroyed but cannot pass beyond the archway.

Ghast: medium-sized undead: CR3, AC16 (+2 dex, +4 natural), Init +2, Mv30, HD4d12, hp25, Atk bite +4 melee (1d8+1+paralysis), 2 claws +1 melee (1d4+paralysis), SA stench, paralysis, +2 turn resistance, Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +6, Str 13, Dex 15, Con -, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 16, Multiattack, Weapon Finesse (bite), Climb +6, Escape Artist +8, Hide +8, Intuit Direction +3, Jump +6, Listen +8, Move Silently +7, Search +6, Spot +8.
 
Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

Stench (Ex): The stink of death and corruption surrounding these creatures is sickening. Those within 10 feet must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 15) or be wracked with nausea, suffering a -2 circumstance penalty to all attacks, saves, and skill checks for 1d6+4 minutes.

Paralysis (Ex): Those hit by a ghast’s bite or claw attack must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 15) or be paralyzed for 1d6+4 minutes. Even elves are vulnerable to this paralysis.

Note: if the party is small or the DM feels that the ghast is too great a challenge, feel free to substitute a ghoul in its place.

The Lamp itself is not trapped. The bag contains 8 moonstones, small gems worth 50gp each.

The Lamp
The Lamp of Kharrduz adds 20% to the chance of success of any arcane spellcaster’s divination attempts (if the spell allows for a percentage chance of success). It also allows the user, if capable of casting at least 2nd level arcane spells, to cast a Legend Lore spell once a week by burning a stick of rare incense (at least 500gp value) in the lamp and identifying the person, place, or thing to be investigated. The lamp also protects the person holding it as if he was wearing a ring of fire resistance (minor).

Postscript
If the adventurers return without the lamp, Nordrum will be disappointed and will begin looking for new adventurers.  He will learn of it if they get it and keep if for themselves (or try to sell it elsewhere), and will report this to his employers in Adelmar. In a few weeks several very powerful individuals will track down the party and demand the lamp. If this happens, the DM should create a suitably intimidating group of hunters. They won't try to kill the PCs outright, but may exact another task from the wayward adventurers as payment for their broken promise.

If on the other hand the adventurers give the lamp to Nordrum, he is overjoyed. He gives them the cash he promised and throws in the potion of levitation as a bonus even they didn't contract for it.


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