Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Darkness At Hope Cross Part Two

B. Trouble at Hope Cross

Adam Shepherd staggers into town and attacks Bridgemaster Sharn. When he has nearly killed the bridgemaster (and stripped him of his weapon), he turns on the next passerby, a caravan guard. Shepherd attacks clumsily with the short sword he took off of Sharn. The Caravan Guard, though surprised, easily avoids the attack, draws his own sword, and kills Shepherd, unless the party intervenes somehow.

All of Hope’s Cross is abuzz with the incident, no one ever expected anything like this from Adam Shepherd, one of the pillars of Hope Cross. The Constable requests the party to take over for Bridgemaster Sharn until he recovers from the injuries. Duty is pretty simple: When caravans come through they are to pay a copper per animal, two per wagon to cross the bridge. Local traffic and foot traffic is free. If the party is unwilling, the Constable finds someone else. No one bothers to report the incident to the Imperial Authorities in Jacob’s Well (it would be beneath their notice, anyway). However, the Constable wants to get to the bottom of this.

C. Possibilities:
  • The party intervenes and keeps the caravan guard from killing Shepherd. If they manage to restrain the shepherd, he will be completely irrational. He will mutter and sputter about “the darkness of my soul” and will move about often with his eyes closed (attacking wildly and randomly). He can be cured, either by casting continual light spell followed by a remove curse spell (at 10th or greater level) on the victim, or by destroying the avatar of darkness or the Stone of Darkness in the temple of darkness (see the appendices for details on the Avatar and the Stone). If he is not killed outright by the caravan guard, he will be taken away and chained (in the jail) and he will calm down. Later, he will escape and wreak havoc in the countryside, which will draw the attention of the Watchman and the Imperial troops from Jacob’s Well.
  • The party seeks to get Shepherd raised from the dead. This will work (the Curate or the High Priest at the Temple of the Path in Jacob’s Well are of sufficient level to accomplish the task), however Shepherd has been driven insane, so if he is raised he will immediately attack anyone around him.
  • The party attempts to speak with the dead. Again, this will be successful, though most of what he says will be gibberish – “the darkness is complete” and “the cave” and “lost in the darkness” come out fairly clear, though what they mean, no one seems to know.
  • The party investigates his home. See the key.
  • The party could consult with Shiralla, the Witchwoman who lives on Hag Island (Hag Island is detailed elsewhere, but Shiralla is an occasional visitor to Hope Cross – she happens to be in town to purchase some cloth and other supplies when Shepherd attacks Sharn). For a fee (see her writeup), she will tell the party that “The old gods are awakened. The avatar of darkness has been reborn.” She will tell them that Shepherd is under a wicked enchantment, though she has no details whatsoever – and that he is not responsible for his actions. Something or someone else is controlling his mind. What and where she cannot say, though if pressed will say South, but nothing more.
  • The party takes the Constable up on his offer of employment.
  • Resourceful parties will come up with something not on the list – so improvise. The goal is to get them to the Temple of Darkness, of course.

If the party has not found and dealt with the avatar of darkness, two days later a caravan will come straggling in, obviously having been attacked. When questioned, the guards will talk of a caravan guard who went off to relieve himself and came back two hours later and began to decimate the caravan, killing three guards, a drover and a young man who was traveling with them before the other guards could kill him. They can explain to the party where the attack took place (outdoor map D The Southdowns Encounter 13) and the general area/direction that the guard wandered off in. (NOTE if players are wandering aimlessly in the Southdowns, the DM could stage this event to give them some direction). If the party does nothing at all about the menace to Hope Cross, eventually the entire town will be either possessed or killed by a possessed citizen and the Watchman will be forced to send 50 troops into the village to kill every person and animal and burn the village to the ground (believing it to be a plague that is causing the madness). Eventually, the temple will be found and destroyed.

D. Hope Cross, The Southdowns & The Great Forest

D1. Hope Cross Village (see map)

The Southdowns

Whatever clues send the party to the Southdown (the wife’s comments, somehow interrogating Shepherd, the caravan guards, the witchwoman), the other shepherds are uneasy and reluctant to talk. When they are assured that Adam Shepherd is no longer a threat, they will talk a little.

They have no idea what happened. Adam Shepherd went searching after a prized sheep that had wandered away in the storm the night before (how it got out, no one is sure). He was gone most of the day and when he came back, he attacked the other shepherds, but the shepherds drove him off. They can tell the party the general direction that he went, and that he came back without the lost sheep.

D2. Shepherds’ common hut and common pen
This is a circular stone hut about 25’ across with a thatch roof. Surrounding the hut are low stone walls, radiating away from the hut like spokes of a huge wheel. Sheep fill 2 of the 8 pens thus created. Inside are three shepherds (two men and a boy).

D3. Shearing Shed
This is a small, open sided wooden shack with pen attached.

D4. Upper Pasture
Hundreds of sheep dot the fields here. A half dozen boys and men tend them as well as a number of dogs.

D5. Upper Water hole
A stone sided well with a bucket and winch for hauling up the water and two large wooden troughs for watering the sheep.

A thorough search of the area will turn up a couple sheep skulls and a broken leather sling.

D6. Cattle Pastures
Hundreds of cows wander these fields, surrounded by wooden fences. A thorough search of these fields will turn up nothing important, but will waste a lot of time.

D7. Lower Water Hole
This is a spring-fed pond and is the primary water source for the cattle in the area. At the bottom of the pond is a dagger +2 that was lost here by an adventurer decades ago.

D8. Seven Stone Creek
The locals call this stream “Seven Stone Creek” because along the banks, at regular intervals, are seven large boulders. Each boulder has a name based on its shape (these are natural shapes, so, at best, they are impressions of the shape): Bear, Dragon, Skull, Duck, Twins, Tower, Great Face. Thus a villager might mention that the fishing is really good up at the Tower or that they saw several deer near the Bear.

Local legends speak of the seven stones being placed by some long forgotten god to mark the way to his home when he visited the valley. Others believe that elves long ago carved the shapes for magical rituals in the valley.

The truth is that the stones mark seven important sites to the worship of the old gods (which could be further expanded, especially if the people return to worship the old gods at the end of this adventure). The exact nature of these stones is left to the DM’s imagination.

D9. Boulder Field
This area is not frequented by the locals, who believe it to be haunted by a demon. The truth is that a reclusive Galeb Duhr lives in this boulder-strewn area and the creature has animated boulders on a few occasions to chase curious villagers away. If the party spends too much time in the area, or if they discover the Galeb Duhr, it will do everything it can to chase them off without killing them (though it might hurt them…). The creature has no treasure.

GALEB DUHR: AC -2; MV 60’; HD 9; hp 54; THAC0 12/10; #AT 2; D 3-18; SA Move Earth, Stone Shape, Passwall, Transmute Rock to Mud, Wall of Stone (1/rd), Animate boulders (60’); SD Immune to Lightning/Normal Fire; MR 20%; SZ L; Int Very; AL N; XP 2,648.

D10. Wyvern Spoor
One of the shepherds discovered the wyvern spoor here. They have battled the wyvern before, but the creature has not stolen a sheep for over two years now. The offal is clearly fresh, not having been washed away by the storm. Even though this is far from where the last sheep tracks were discovered, some of the shepherds are sure that the wyvern took Adam’s sheep. They will begin to arm themselves with long spears over the next week. The wyvern will not return. (Note – this is an adventure tie-in with the adventure “A Question of Balance”).

D11. Goblin Tracks
Clearly, some goblins visited the area after the storm. Goblins haven’t been much of a threat in the area, though the shepherds keep a close watch on the forest when the sheep are in the pasture. The goblins were sent to see if the storm had weakened the village enough for a goblin invasion. They returned to their lair with the news that the storm did very little damage to the village, so the goblins of the area will not attack. (Note – this is an adventure tie-in with “A Question of Balance”, “Goblin House” and “The Silver Mines”).

D12. Nixie Lair
Hag Island is detailed elsewhere, but this deep pool in the river here is home to 12 nixies with 3 giant pike. Shiralla has commanded these nixies to leave local people alone (occasionally they torment caravan guards or others who wander to this area unawares, but they do leave locals alone). Shiralla has made it known that those who drop coins or other trinkets into this pool will find good luck, so the locals often steal down to the bank of the river and toss in coppers or the occasional silver piece or other valuables. The muck and mud of the riverbed has 589 cp, 123 sp, 8 gp and various other small trinkets (value left to DM discretion) that have been missed by the Nixies.

Shiralla uses the Nixies as spies and guards for her island. The nixies live in an underwater cave system beneath Hag Island. A long tunnel leads from the caves to Shrialla’s home. If the Nixies are threatened or harmed, Shiralla will come to their aid. If the PCs cause the Nixies harm, Shiralla will only help them in the direst of need (if the entire area is threatened, for example). If the PCs come to the aid of the Nixies in some way, Shrialla will aid them for free in the future.

If the PCs come here at night, they will find Tesra, Farmer Arron’s wife, tossing a small statue into the water (see 16c in Hope Cross Village for more information on why she’s doing this).

The Nixies have the following treasure in their lair: 2344 cp, 1683 sp, 9 gems (4x10gp, 3x50 gp, 1x100 gp, 1x500 gp).

NIXIE (12): AC 7; MV 60’/120’; HD ½ ; hp 3 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; D by wpn; SA Charm; MR 25%; SZ S; Int Very; AL N; XP 35 each.

PIKE, Giant(3): AC 5; MV 360’; HD 4; hp 11, 15, 21; THAC0 15; #AT 1; D 4-16; SA Surprise on 1-4; SZ L; Int Non; AL N; XP 71, 75, 81.

D13. Fallen Tree
This huge oak tree was very recently uprooted, probably the night of the storm. This is actually a Dryad tree, and as the great oak begins to die, so will the dryad. The dryad will attempt to use charm person on the male of the party who has the highest charisma. If the party can somehow rescue the tree for the dryad, she will release the charmed PC immediately and will aid the party in any way that she can. She has intimate knowledge of the forest within a 2 mile radius of her tree – so she can tell the party, for example, that “by the stream past the waterfall a stone has been shattered and the darkness has been released” – if they press her, she can give very detailed directions on how to get to the cave of the Temple of Darkness, but she knows nothing about what the darkness is, only that darkness has been released. She doesn’t know what that means, but she knows it is true. She can tell the party that a wyvern and some goblins have been in the area and that the wyvern ate one of the goblins before flying away to the north and that the remaining goblins fled east “to where many goblins live”. She will not reveal the presence of the Pixies and Faerie Dragons in Seeley’s Glen, though she is on good terms with them.

If the party helps her upright her tree, she will give them a charm (similar to a dreamcatcher) which will mark the bearer as a friend of the dryad and allow them to travel the forest unmolested by the normal inhabitants of the woods.

Hidden inside the tree is the Dryad’s treasure: 703 gp, (1) 50 gp Jasper and (1) 500 gp very deep blue Spinel.

DRYAD: AC 9; MV 120’; HD 2; hp 11; THAC0 16; #AT 1; D dagger; SA Charm; SD Dimension door into tree; MR 50%; SZ M; Int High; AL N; XP 138. (MM)

D14. Site of the Caravan Attack
Blood on the ground, a dented helm and some torn cloth are all that remain indicating that a fight took place here. This is where the caravan guard attacked his caravan after being possessed by the avatar of darkness (assuming two days has passed, see C. Possibilities.)

D15. Caravan Guard’s Scabbard
Dropped by the caravan guard after being possessed by the avatar of darkness. If the party makes a straight line from the caravan attack through this point they will find the Entrance to the Temple of Darkness.

D16. Seeley’s Glen
The forest thins here to a large open meadow and a small lake. This is the home of 14 pixies and 2 faerie dragons who will use all the magic and ingenuity at their disposal to agitate and annoy the party. The pixies have all three types of arrows at their disposal (d3 for type when hit). These creatures will not desire to truly hurt the party, but will delight in their frustration and confusion (which pixies and faerie dragons find hysterical – so the party will hear giggles and gales of laughter from around the glen, with no visible source). If the party can somehow convince the pixies that they have helped the dryad (encounter 11) or that they are attempting to stop the darkness from spreading, they will stop harassing the party and actually help them. Their help could include one of the faerie dragons accompanying the party, allowing the party to rest unmolested in the Glen to heal and recover spells, use of the Hammer +3 Dwarven Thower from their hoard (though they will expect it to be returned). They will be willing to barter items from their hoard, as well. The faerie dragons may also barter for items from their hoard, though take note that precious metals have no value to the faerie dragons. Gems and Jewels, however, are highly prized.

The pixie hoard is in the base of a willow tree near the lake’s edge and consists of: Hammer +3, Dwarven Thrower, 56 pp, (2) 100 gp amber, (12) 100 gp white pearsl, (1) 500 gp black pearl, (1) 2,000 gp opal, Potion of Speed, Druid Scroll (Shillelagh, Locate Plants, Produce Fire, Control Winds, Cure Critical Wounds, Transport Via Plants) MU Scroll (Ventriloquism, Bigby’s Interposing Hand, Antipathy/Sympathy, Bigby’s Clenched Fist, Mass Charm).

The Faerie Dragons’ hoard is in their lair which is a tiny island in the middle of the lake and consists of: (4) 10 gp Blue Quartz, (2) 10 gp Obsidian, (3) 10gp Moss Agate, (1) 10 gp Turquoise, (3) 50 gp Bloodstone, (2) 50 gp Moonstone, (1) 50 gp Sardonyx, (6) 100 gp Aquamarine, (4) 100 gp Coral, (7) 500 gp Violet Garnet, (5) 500 gp Peridot, (2) 500 gp Topaz, MU Scroll (Write), MU Scroll (Lightning Bolt, 8th level), Cleric Scroll (Insect Plague), Ring of Djinni Summoning, Rod of Absorption, Horseshoes of a Zephyr, Scale Mail +1, Sword, Cursed Berserking, Axe +1.

PIXIES (14): AC 5; MV 60’/120’; HD ½ ; hp 2 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; D by wpn; SA +4 to-hit, Spell use; SD -4 to-hit; MR 25%; SZ S; Int Exceptional; AL N; XP 111. (MM)

Faerie Dragons (2), Green/Adult: AC 5(1); MV 60’/240’; MC: A; HD 4; hp 9, 10; THAC0 15; #AT 1; D 1-2; SA Euphoria Gas Cloud Breath Weapon + Spells; SZ S; Int High-Gen; AL CG; XP 316, 320. (MM2) MR 60%, MU10, D8

D17. Trapper Jorn’s Hovel
Jorn Arintar lives here. He makes his living trapping beaver and other small game in the vicinity of Seven Stone Creek. He knows about Seeley’s Glen and about the Dryad (though he does not know her tree has been uprooted). In fact, Jorn has a charm from the Dryad which he received for helping her with a troublesome Satyr some years ago. He knows the Seven Stone Creek area very well and would happily serve as a guide (and is willing to join as a retainer for 5 gp/day plus a 10% share in any treasure obtained – negotiable). See his NPC writeup for more information. Jorn’s hovel (40% chance he will be at home) is a small one room shack with a lean-to (smokehouse) on one side and a small shed (drying shed) in back. He has a root cellar and a cold spring house dug underground nearby and an outhouse about 100 paces away.

Inside the hovel are a bed, a chest (containing leather armor, 43 gp, two blankets, an ivory comb worth 10 gp and a silver pitcher and cup worth about 20 gp), some battered copper plates and cups, a cast iron frying pan, various pelts and skins, a number of animal bones (some carved).

D18. Entrance to the Temple of Darkness