Monday, March 9, 2009

Darkness at Hope Cross Part One

Well, here's an adventure that I've been working off and on for a while. Maps forthcoming.

Darkness at Hope Cross
The Coming Darkness

An AD&D Adventure set in the Jacob’s Well region

By William R. Beatty

Darkness at Hope Cross is an adventure for 4-6 characters level 4-6 (about 18 total levels) of any class combination. It is intended to be the fourth adventure in the Coming Darkness series (Goblin House, Grave Robbers, The Curious Disappearance of Silian Jass), though it is not necessary to have played those adventures prior to this one. The Coming Darkness series takes place in the area of Jacob’s Well. The setting and major NPCs are detailed in the Jacob’s Well sourcebook. DMs who are using the Jacob’s Well sourcebook will find the wilderness considerably expanded with additional adventure opportunities.

Players who prefer “hack and slash” will find plenty of combat opportunities, but may find the people of Hope Cross spurning them if they are rude or violent in town. Allies and enemies can be easily made in this area. As always, the DM should thoroughly read the entire adventure before playing it, paying particular attention to the Avatar of Darkness, the Stone of Darkness and the Old One near the end of the adventure.

Adventure Summary
Last night, a violent thunderstorm tore through the valley, uprooting trees, swelling streams – the river nearly crested its banks (for the first time in 90 years). The storm shifted the ground under a great stone that was hiding the entrance to an ancient temple. It seems to be a temple to the old gods, but it is, in reality, a temple to the elder god of darkness.

During the storm, one of Alan Shepherd’s sheep ran away. In the morning, he began to search for it. Eventually, he could hear it crying inside the forest. When he made his way to the sheep, he found it trapped in a crevice, which turned out to be a cave. Inside the cave he found some clay pots with scrolls in them. Hoping that he had stumbled on some ancient wealth, he left his sheep and pushed his way into the darkness, fashioning a crude torch to light his way. He eventually found his way to the Sanctuary where the Avatar of Darkness (see new monsters) possessed him. Adam Shepherd’s mind was not sufficient to the task of thinking the thoughts of a god of darkness and he snapped, becoming homicidal.

The party must discover what possessed Adam Shepherd to attack people at random and determine a way to stop the Avatar of Darkness from possessing them and spreading chaos and darkness.

The adventure is divided into nine sections:

A. The village of Hope Cross
B. Trouble at Hope Cross
C. Possibilities
D. The Southdowns
E. The Temple of Darkness
F. Ending the Adventure
G. NPCs of Note
H. New Magic Items
I. New Creatures
New Spells

A. Hope Cross

The adventure begins in the hamlet of Hope Cross. Perhaps the party came to Hope Cross in one of the many caravans that pass through the area. Perhaps they came to visit Jacob’s Well for some reason, or to petition Damoric the Archmage for some reason. In the Heir Apparent campaign the PCs are from the area. Regardless, the action begins once they have settled in and have explored the town a bit.

Hope Cross is a hamlet in the shadow of Jacob’s Well, a prosperous trading town high on a plateau overlooking the valley (detailed elsewhere). While Jacob’s Well is listed on all of the official government documents as the town at the crossroads of the trade routes, Hope Cross truly sits at the crossroads. Caravans from all four compass points come through Hope Cross on their way to trade in distant lands. The Great Bridge of Hope Cross is a fairly famous landmark (at least in the eastern Midlands). So, though tiny, the hamlet is always busy with activity.

The village itself is the most prosperous of all the hamlets in the hundred of the Watchman of Jacob’s Well. While the merchants and traders who travel through the area will always travel “up the hill” to Jacob’s Well, caravan guards, drovers, travelers and others generally stay in the “poor town” of Hope Cross.

A1. The Great Bridge
This white stone bridge is 832’ long, 27’ wide and crosses the river 17’ above the surface of the water. It is an ancient artifact of an age before people moved into the area of Jacob’s Well. What civilization constructed it is not of a concern to the day to day life of the people of Hope Cross. The bridge is wide enough that two normal carts can pass one another while crossing.

A2. Steffan Karian, Tinker
Steffan is a traveling tinker. He can fix almost anything mechanical, and many other things besides. He is a metalsmith, though of only fair ability. He is a Lvl 0 non-combatant but he is full of information on the region. He is secretly a spy for the Alliance of Free Lands (those who rebel against Imperial Rule) and would gladly join the party in their travels, though he is worthless in a fight. He has two special abilities, however, that may make him useful to the party (if he joins the party, he will work toward becoming a thief – though “officially” his class will be fighter): Outdoors he can Find the Path (as per 6th level cleric spell) 50% of the time if he is new to an area, 90% if he has been in an area before; he has a base 50% chance of knowing something on virtually any subject (per Legend Lore, 6th level MU spell).
S 12, I 14, W 11, D 17, Cn8, Ch 8, Lvl 0, hp 5, AC 9, THACO n/a, AL N.
Steffan is staying in a tent just east of Great Bridge.

A3. Bridgemaster Sharn’s Hovel
This hovel is a two room shack – a front room with a table, three chairs, a fireplace and a small cupboard (containing some foodstuffs and a few utensils), and a rear room containing Sharn’s bed, a change of clothes, his shield, chainmail, a bearskin rug and 8 sp in a bag under his mattress.

Bridgemaster Sharn is a retired soldier. He is 60 years old, but still in good physical shape. He collects the tolls from caravans that cross the bridge. Weekly he turns in the strongbox to the Tax Assessor’s office. He carries a short sword and wears a (dirty and in need of repair) tabard embroidered with the Imperial Seal. He is amiable and enjoys conversation. He will be eager to hear news from “the world.” S 14, I10, W 9, D 8, Cn 16, Ch 11, Lvl 6 Ftr, hp 41, AC 8 (leather), THACO 16, AL N.

A4. Tax Assessor/Constable/Town Hall/Money Exchanger
This large, two story building is the official town center. The large central room is used by the villagers for their common meetings (about once a month) and whenever anything important happens. Off the central room are three other rooms – the Constable’s office and jail, the Tax Assessor’s office and the Money Exchanger.
A4a. Common Room
22 benches are stacked against the wall. There is a huge fireplace on the north wall. To the left is the Constable’s Office and to the Right the Tax Assessor’s and the Money Changer’s.

A4b. Constable’s Office
Constable Arten Waller lives with his wife in the three rooms above the office and jail (sitting room, bedroom, kitchen/dining room – 22 sp & 18 cp in a small locked box in the bedroom). He is a very stern but fair man.
S 13, I 10, W 16, D 9, Cn 11, Ch 12 Lvl 3 Ftr, hp 17, AC 8 (leather), THACO 17, AL LG

A4c. Tax Assessor’s Office.
Morten Sirall is the Tax Assessor. He collects the tolls from Sharn every week and assesses taxes quarterly on the villagers. He, in turn, turns in his books and the collections to the Reeve of Jacob’s Well. Morten is not a native of Hope Cross (in fact, he is Hamlish) and is hated in town. He is a non-combatant, normal man (though with a 17 Intelligence). Morten lives in a single room above the Assessor’s Office.

A4d. Money Exchanger
Byros Hill (an alias, but no one here knows him by any other name – he’s wanted in Hamlin for a crime he did not commit) retired from a life of adventuring to settle down at Hope Cross with his wife, Damalia. He is probably the wealthiest man in town, partly because he exchanges foreign (and ancient) coins for Imperial coins (at 15%). When in the office, Byros has two bodyguards with him (Mig and Firstal – lvl 4 Ftrs who have converted to the old faith and are more closely allied with Farmer Gil, Egran the Merchant and Jadan Tailor than their employer) and he is a proficient fighter/thief himself (lvl 4/6). Byros and Damalia live in four rooms above the Exchanger’s office with their 2 children. In the safe in the office Byros has 843 gp, 1294 sp, 1321 cp, 4 bars of gold and a several small gems. The bodyguards board with Farmer Gil (A16a). Byros is a genial, but superficial, man.

A5. Hope Cross Inn
Hope Cross Inn is run by Terrance D’Andral, a man who moved from the far west to the area 35 years ago. He had been a merchant, a mercenary and even a traveling performer. Hope Cross became his home when his left leg was shattered in a riding accident and traveling became terribly painful. He walks with a pronounced limp. Terrance is extremely friendly and very generous. He lives alone in a room in the back of the Inn. He keeps a lockbox in his room, under his bed, with 52 gp, 112 sp, 99 cp). He hires women to work the kitchen and clean the rooms (farmer’s daughters, mostly). The rooms at Hope Cross Inn are safe and clean.

A6. Gire’s Tavern
Gire’s Tavern is a hole in the wall. Gire, his wife Sella and their 3 daughters run the place – half bar, half brothel. Drinks are cheap and watered down, the atmosphere is smoky, food is suspect. Still, Gire’s is the place that the farmers, herdsmen and fishermen congregate and on most nights the main room is full. In a bag under his mattress Gire has 3 gp, 23 sp and a small sapphire (worth 22gp).

A7. “Lady” Prisa’s Taven
Prisa is no lady, though she has claimed the title for her tavern. The atmosphere at Lady Prisa’s (or “the Lady” as locals call it) is a little more refined than Gire’s. Prisa employs a dozen girls, half of whom will be on duty in the main room and in the kitchen at any given time. She also employs three bodyguards (F3, F4, F4 hp12, 15, 19 clubs). Occasionally, someone will come “off the hill” for business of some sort, most of them end up here. Prisa, it is rumored, is a lover of the Watchman. There are 10 bedrooms on the second floor, a large common room, a private dining room, the kitchen and Prisa’s room on the first floor. The body guards live in a farmer’s hovel (A16b), four of the girls stay in one of the bedrooms, the others are local girls who go home to their parents when not working. In her bedroom, under the bed, is a lockbox containing 112 gp and 159 sp.

A8. Egran’s Dry Goods
Egran is the local supplier. Since caravans come through town frequently, all normal items are available at Egran’s at normal prices. However, the items are of only average to poor quality, with a 10-20% chance of failure on any given item when put to use. Items of vastly superior quality are available at Jacob’s Well, but the cost is significantly higher. Virtually any normal item is available at Egran’s, and there is a 20% chance that some unusual items are lurking in the store as well. Egran is a very extroverted and amiable man. He is a worshipper of the old gods and is quietly evangelizing (with Jadon Taylor [A13], Farmer Gil [A16a] and Bryos Hill’s bodyguards Mig and Firstall [A16a and A4d] In a strongbox in the back room (Egran’s bedroom) is 32 gp and 111 sp.

A9. Hooper’s Saddles and Leatherwork
If the party needs any kind of leather work done, Hooper is very skilled. Leather items purchased from him will cost 10% more than the DMG lists, but will be of vastly superior quality and will withstand 20% greater use/abuse than standard items (that is to say, they gain a +4 on item saves). Stimmel ships all his hides to the tanneries in the south, so Hooper buys his from the other herdsmen in the area. Hooper is a gruff man, and difficult to please. He criticizes nearly everything. Locked in his desk is 12 gp and 22 sp.

A10. Hope Cross Stable, Wainwright and Horse Dealer
Elmoran is the local stablemaster. He owns 8 good horses which he keeps in the rather sizable stable on the town square. His stock changes frequently as he trades with the caravans that come through town, the occasional Imperial messenger who wants to change horses and ride on, and he makes a monthly trip to Suduran’s Outpost to the south, where fine horses can always be found (see…….) Elmoran will sell a horse for DMG prices +20% (he can be negotiated down to DMG +5%) and will board a horse for 1 sp/day. 3 Stableboys live in the loft above the stable (local orphans – ages 9,8&6). The Stablemaster has 3 wagons available for rent and is the only man in the area who can repair a broken wagon wheel or axle. He lives in an attached shed with his wife and three daughters (one of whom works for Lady Prisa, the others are too young). In a small safe in his home Elmoran has 22gp, 91sp, 87 cp. He owns a sword, which is kept above the fireplace. He accepted it in trade for some services. He doesn’t know it, but it is a sword +2.

A11. Chapel of the Sun
This small shrine is to the chief god of the area (god of light, sun, good, etc.). The priest is a young and inexperienced man (his clerical levels were gained cloistered in a monastery) who is questioning his faith. He is dutiful with services, but he rarely proselytizes any more, even the occasional adventurer who shows up in the chapel seeking healing or a curse removed. As his powers are fairly limited, he generally sends such petitioners to Arlin, the druid in the Grove, or to the high priest at the Church of the Path in nearby Jacob’s Well. He is a 4th Level Cleric (S14, I13, W18, D15, C12, Ch11, hp 13)

Level 1: Bless, Purify Food and Drink, Sanctuary
Level 2: Augury, Chant

A12. Baker/Midwife
Dellan is the local baker and his wife, Terra, is the local midwife. Terra is a dark eyed and dark skinned woman from the far south. Even though she has helped nearly every shepherd in the area at one time or another, some of the local men think she’s a witch. However, since most of their wives have trusted Terra with their lives (and with their children’s lives), those men usually speak about it in hushed tones. Terra is the closest thing the village has to a doctor (under her care hit points are regained at the rate of 2/day)

A13. Weaver/Tailor
Jadan Tailor – local cloth weaver and tailor. Jadan is a quiet and sullen man who keeps to himself. He never married. He is trying to revive faith in the old gods, but is doing so very quietly. He has found others who are trying to revive “the old faith” – Egran (8 above) the Merchant and Farmer Gil (A16 a) and Byros Hill’s bodyguards (A16a and A4d).

A14. “Lord” Stimmel, Cowherd/Butcher
Stimmel is the largest cattle owner in the village. He was once in the employ of the Constable of Jacob’s Well and remains on friendly terms with his former employer, so the locals call Stimmel, Lord Stimmel. Stimmel owns over 1000 cattle that he pastures in fields to the north of Hope Cross. He is the local butcher and ships a fair amount of meat to Jacob’s Well and some of the other villages in the area. He ships the hides to tanneries in the south, which has become a very profitable business for Stimmel. His home is the largest in Hope Cross and in his bedroom he has a strongbox with 200gp, 1200sp, 800cp. He employs four body guards (F3, F4, F7 [Str 18] hp 11, 17, 31 – chain, shortsword, shortbow, shield) who live in the basement of his home.

A15. The Market
This is the open air market for the village and the surrounding farms. The fourth day of every week this area is abuzz with stalls filled with animals, handcrafts, metalwork, vegetables, and the like.

A16. 5 Farmers’ Hovels
a. Farmer Gil (and Mig and Firstall, Byros Hill’s bodyguards – see A4d) All three men are members of the old faith, with Jadan Tailor (A13) and Egran the Merchant (A8).
b. Prisa’s bodyguards (see A6)
c. Arron (wife Tesra, son Milos, son Edros, daughter Dellah, daughter Mila) Tesra is terrified by what has happened to Adam Shepherd and she believes the gods have turned their backs on the people. She has heard whisperings that there are some who wish to return to “the old faith”. One night she will take the small statue of her family’s god down to the river where the Nixies lair and drop it into the river. The next day, Arron will panic and believe that his house has been broken into and the statue stolen (it is bronze, but it has some gold layered on the face and hair – value is 40gp). Tesra will be too afraid to tell Arron what she has done. If the statue isn’t found, Tesra will eventually seek out others who wish to convert to the old faith and leave her husband. She will seek out the Temple of Darkness and, if the PCs have not stopped the Avatar of Darkness yet, be possessed by the Avatar and begin a killing spree.
d. Jarron (widower, son Hale, son Daman)
e. Kylan (unmarried)

A17. Herdsmans’ Hovels
These are little more than shacks. Each has a small garden behind, some well tended, others not so, and many have a small lean-to attached to the side housing tools, chickens, etc.
a. Adam Shepherd’s hovel.
Adam lives here with his wife (Danla) and infant son (Myles). Shepherd’s wife is deathly ill with a fever. Myles hasn’t eaten in over a day and is likely crying when the party arrives. The fever is causing Danla to hallucinate about “the gray death” and “the night birds of Tonovan.” These are red herrings – the fever is real, but unrelated to Adam Shepherd’s current state. The gray death is a plague that took most of Danla’s family when she was very young and “The Night Birds of Tonovan” is a children’s story that her mother used to tell her. If Danla goes untreated for more than three days total, she will die (at the time of Adam’s appearance at the beginning of this adventure it has been about 18 hours since she contracted the fever – so from that point she has about two and a quarter days to live). If Myles isn’t fed within the next 24 hours, he will die.

If the party gets Danla back to health (cure disease, remove disease, heal or the ministrations of either Shiralla or Terra, or the like), she can tell the party that Adam had come home to bring a small gold coin that he had found in the field and spent the night at home when the terrible storm swept through the region. Very early the next morning, one of the young shepherds ran up to tell him that his best ewe had wandered off and that they’d found fresh goblin tracks in the area and wyvern spoor. He hurried off immediately to find the sheep. They pasture their sheep in the common fields in the Southdowns.
b. Damran (wife Seva, daughter Mika, daughter Tila, daughter Mina, son Dael)
c. Tevan (wife Missa, son Gile, son Barran, son Arron, son Damron, daughter Tilla)
d. Baen (wife Lana, son Kylan – 16 e above – son Manal, daughter Tessa)
e. Doen (widower, no children)
f. Bassal (wife Tila, no children)
g. Angal (wife Denna, son Gil, son Donal, son Philos)
h. Garan (widower, son Adam, son Tristal, daughter Misa)

A18. Fisherman’s Hovels
a. There are only two men who earn their keep fishing in Hope Cross. They are brothers, and frequently work together.
b. Garrat (with wife, Dian and son Tilor)
c. Raman (with wife, Solas)

A19. Argus Hunter
Argus is a retired huntsman. He still frequents the forest and is very good friends with Trapper Jorn Arintar. In his 80s, he’s not as fast or strong as he once was, but he knows the forest better than anyone. If asked, he will lead the party to the Southdowns and will be able to quickly track Alan Shepherd’s movements to the Temple. He is not much of a combatant (F4, S10, I12, W16, D14, Cn12, Ch10 hp22) but he is a crack shot with a longbow (he gains a +4 when attacking with a bow) and he has 6 arrows +2 as well as 4 silver tipped arrows and 22 standard arrows. He will not accompany the party into the Temple.

A20. Caravan Fields
These wide open fields are reserved for the frequent caravans that pass through Hope Cross. (See the encounter tables – there is a 35% chance per day that a caravan will camp here for 0-3 days – note what can happen if three caravans are here at the same time).

A21. The Mill
The grain from the local fields is ground to flour here. Danaras is the Millwright and is the second wealthiest man in town. The mill is a small walled compound with the Mill buildings, Danaras’ large house and several silos and barns. When goblins threatened the area a dozen years ago, the townspeople took shelter in Danaras’ compound and they managed to hold off the goblins until the militia from Jacob’s Well arrived. Consequently, Danaras is a bit of a local hero (he even adventured briefly twenty years ago – F5 S17, I13, W16, D15, C17, Ch15 hp 27 has chain +2, shortsword +1, longsword, longbow and arrows that he put to good use during the incursion.) Danaras is a very likeable man, generous and talkative. He does guard a secret (he murdered a man when he was very young and his generosity is probably a form of penance).