Adventure Two: Hornhall (1 of 2)

Initial brainstorm for Hornhall.
Initial brainstorm for Hornhall.
As I get caught up on the campaign journal, I’ll go ahead and post whatever gaming materials I’ve composed so far. For the last adventure, “Hammers Under Cold Hearth,” I gave notes about what my players actually did. I’m forgoing that device here, for I intend to give a full account in whatever mode I ultimately decide on for the proper journal. But maybe the notes here might be of some use to GMs.

Gish has created a phial of Chillbane.

Type disease, inhaled, injury; Save Fort DC 17; Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day; Effect 1d4 Con damage and target is sickened and fatigued; Cure 2 consecutive saves

Knack with Poison: +2 Fort vs. poison; +2 Craft (alchemy) to make poison. Replaces illusion resistance and obsessive.

Bo is visited by the Norn Urd in a vision. He awakes wherever he sleeps, and she is using a drop spindle to spin thread in the corner of his room. She sees him watching her, smiles, and says, “Erastil looks kindly on you. He thinks you deserve a reward.” If Bo seems overanxious or asks about Erastil’s Shot, Urd just smiles and says, “Watch for the thunder-cleft oak.” Then she lifts a large pair of shears and cuts the thread. At the sound of “snick,” Bo awakens.

Should take about two days, on foot, to make it to Hornhall. Kolbern summons the PCs to his private chambers (with Vigg and Hild) to ask them to travel there and continue the investigation. Hornhall is nearest, and Kolbern additionally wants them to deliver a scroll – affixed with his seal, black wax with the impression of an arrowhead flanged with raven claws – to Herm Hammerhand. Kolbern hopes to count on Herm for reinforcements if – more like when – Irrisen again attacks en masse. The way is seldom used. There was once a dirt road, but it most certainly is grown over by plains grasses now and is probably only distinguishable by milestones. There are reports of a family of Ogrekin who have moved into the area, so Kolbern expects they will need some reinforcements.

Introduce Rahjin. Vigg opens a door, and Rahjin enters from an adjoining chamber. Some of the PCs now may remember heaps of food that routinely left the main hall. Rahjin has been kept secret in the depths of the Stone. Questions? Rahjin will have to take care when encountering NPCs and may have to keep to the fringes of civilization.

Preparations. Allow KS checks for hints on how to prepare. Carrying capacities.

Treasure from “Hammers under Cold Hearth”:

Masterwork Longbow of Erastil (Davven); Valgar’s Howe: Breastplate, Steel shield, Masterwork Battleaxe, 800 gp in armrings, White opal (500 gp), Drinking horn of Detect Poison (breaks, one use); 240 gp, 6 gemstones (800 gp), Stoneplate armor (Bo), Masterwork rapier (Davven), Masterwork Morningstar, Masterwork crossbow, Chainmail (5), Heavy steel shield (5), Warhammer (5), Light crossbow (5); Potions: Arcane Mark, Resistance, Mage Armor, Obscuring Mist; Scrolls: Cause Fear, Chill Touch;

The Road

Day 1: Beyond the forest, the ground rises up to plains. They find the first mile marker – two standing stones – but beyond it is just scrubby grass that slowly grows as the hours pass. Make three Survival checks (DC 10 on the trail, DC 14 if it is left; +2 KS geography or local, +2 map) to avoid being lost (Core 424-25). The mile markers are ancient and weathered, moss grown, often hidden in tall weeds. About noon the PCs may stop and rest for midday meal in an old dugout. It contains a cold and wet firepit, a box of three wet tindertwigs, and a moldy waterskin with a hole in it.

Weather: cold mizzle.

Encounter: Rooster call in the distance (DC 13 with applicable KS to identify). It is a Cockatrice, grubbing in the tall grasses.

XP 800, N Small magical beast; Init +3; Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision, Perception +10; AC 15, touch 15, flat 11 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 size); hp 27; Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +2; Spd 20, fly 60 (poor); Melee bite +9 (1d4-2 plus petrification); Str 6, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 8; Base Atk +5, CMB +2, CMD 16; Fly +6, Perception +10; Petrification Fort DC 12 or 1d4 Dex damage, 0 Dex = turned to stone; B1 48.

This might be an opportune time for someone to spy a lone tree in the distance, doubly noticeable by two ravens swooping overhead and each alighting on one side of the tree. If no one is drawn to the rooster calls, these ravens might make an earlier appearance.

The Cleft Oak is tall and stately. There is a sense of power emanating from it, and a Detect Magic spell will confirm this. In the center of the tree, in the middle of the fissure, the wood has been pulped to a soft, fine sand. Miraculously, the mizzle is somehow prevented, by the sides of the tree, from moistening it too much. Out of the center here grows a new oak twig, its leaves big and lustrous, preternaturally shimmering. It also already is fruiting with one heavy gold acorn.

Thunder-Oak Wand: The acorn can be flung from the wand as a range touch attack to inflict 3d6 of electrical damage on one target as Lightning Bolt (CL 3) Reflex halves, DC 10+3(CL 3)+WIS mod. This acorn grows back once a day. Additionally, this wand has fifty charges of Detect Plants and, when touched to a particular plant, may replicate the properties of that plant, growing the equivalent of one “dose” of that plant once a day. This ability may be used nine times. This ability does not interfere with the thunder-oak property because the wand has two branches, mirroring the cleft oak in which it grew.

Continuing on, make two more Survival checks to avoid becoming lost, and then PCs encounter Korg, a dwarf Monk of the Stalwart Stone (Sacred Mountain), balancing on a milestone. From a distance, he looks like a stone himself, completely naked except for a simple gray mawashi. His head is a perfect, smooth stone, his beard as sharp and pointed as stalactites. Some of the PCs may have uneasy memories of the duergar, except for Korg’s eyes are as bland as flint with hints of quartz in them.

Cyris remembers Korg at being so accomplished and proficient (at such a high level) that stats here are irrelevant. Whatever the case, he will not help the PCs in their mundane problems but is here only to guide Cyris through his mental blocks. Korg does not move from where he balances on the milestone, but tells Cyris that he had a heaviness in his heart in regards to thoughts of Cyris. He cast stones to find Cyris’s location and came to him. Korg perceives that Cyris has a heavy boulder in Cyris’s psyche which is preventing him from reaching his full potential, and it is imperative that Cyris move this if he is going to be properly prepared to meet his destiny. He wants time alone with Cyris. The others should move along. If they refuse, Korg knocks them all unconscious with a flurry of blows powered from his ki pool, if necessary. The PCs wake up as one together, but without Cyris, on the road.

Korg: Sit and face me as I am doing.

Cyris: But there is not a stone as you have.

Korg: All are stones. Every item in the cosmos is built from stone, for stones are but bricks, and all of the cosmos is crafted out of miniscule bricks. Here, take mine. (And Korg leaves the milestone to perch perfectly on the tip of a long blade of prairie grass.) Now let me into your mind.

And Cyris does, and he is in his youth, and he is in the grueling military in one of the border wars at the Crown of the World. His sergeant is the half-orc Trake (and this is why Cyris, on his own personal journey, finds it fitting that he submit himself to another half-orc leader, so as to find peace with this) and at night, in the pounding rain – cold and pelting like hail – he is commanding his battalion to climb a steep slope and destroy a band of enemies that are holed up in a cave at the top.

It’s pointless, Cyris thinks, because it’s dangerous, the battle is won, and they could just wait for surrender. And this surely shows on his face, and Trake notices it and commands that Cyris lead the attack. Cyris may choose to fight Trake, but his combat bonus is his Will modifier and nothing else. Trake has the stats of a common Orc. Likewise, Cyris may attempt to change the drift of this narrative at any time, but it’s a Will check of DC 12 each time.

How the story goes is he leads the charge up, slipping in the blood of his companions as if it is red rain, because the Aganhei at the top of the rise are expert archers and keep raining arrows on them. Miraculously, Cyris is barely touched. Moreover, in a red blur he kills them all. This does not satisfy Trake, however, for he had meant to punish Cyris for his Cha. So, when Cyris returns, he has him seized, stripped, and flogged until he collapses. The whole time the flail falls, Trake’s sneering face says, “You see what getting noticed gets you? It gets everybody killed. It gets you hurt.”

Ever after this, young Cyris repressed his Charismatic ability. After this vision, he gains one point of Charisma. If he puts a bonus point into this ability upon reaching level four, it will be doubled. When he comes out of the vision, Korg is vanished. The mizzle is letting up. A few hours have passed (about 6 pm). The sun is descending. It is time to catch up with the others.

The other players, on the road till it is time to camp for the night, encounter nothing else but a herd (3-30) of Aurochs in the distant fields.

XP 600; N Large animal; Init +0; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +9; AC 13, touch 9, flat 13 (+4 natural, -1 size); hp 22; Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +1; Spd 40; Melee gore +7 (1d8+9); Space 10, Reach 5; Special stampede, trample (2d6+9, DC 17 – Ref half damage); Str 23, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 4; Base Atk +2, CMB +9, CMD 19 (23 vs. trip); Skills Perception +9; Stampede: three or more adjacent making trample attack, save DC +2; B1 174.

Weather: At sunset, the mizzle evaporates and a large moon shines through shreds of cloud. A steady cool breeze pushes, naturally, from the west. Much could happen in the early hours of the night. 1. Cyris, rejoining his companions, has an opportunity to witness three Ogrekin maneuvering the Aurochs in position for a trample. 2. Rahjin may scent them. 3. Anyone on watch may notice something, particularly the Aurochs growing restless and moving about in fits and starts. Whatever the case, the plan for the Ogrekin is to stampede the herd over the PC camp and then charge in and kill any survivors or simply loot the bodies. These Ogrekin are Gash and his two sons, Slash and Mar.

XP 600, Gash, Male human ogrekin fighter 2, CE Medium humanoid (giant); Int +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +1; AC 14, touch 11, flat 13 (+1 Dex, +3 natural); hp 25; Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +1; Defensive Abilities bravery +1; Spd 30; Melee shortspear +7 (1d6+5), bite +2 (1d4+2); Str 21, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 6; Base Atk +2, CMB +7, CMD 18; Feats Cleave, Improved Int, Iron Will, Power Atk; Skills Climb +10, Swim +10; Languages Giant; SQ deformities (oversized maw, weak mind); Treasure NPC gear (spear, other treasure)

XP 400 (x2), Slash and Mar, Male human ogrekin fighter 1, CE Medium humanoid (giant); Int +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +1; AC 14, touch 11, flat 13 (+1 Dex, +3 natural); hp 19, 18; Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +1; Defensive Abilities bravery +1; Spd 30; Melee shortspear +6 (1d6+5), bite +1 (1d4+2); Str 21, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 6; Base Atk +1, CMB +6, CMD 17; Feats Cleave (full atk hits can make same to adjacent opponent, -2 AC), Improved Int, Iron Will, Power Atk (-1 atk roll for +2 damage); Skills Climb +10, Swim +10; Languages Giant; SQ deformities (oversized maw, weak mind); Treasure NPC gear (spear, other treasure)

The PCs may choose to follow the trail back (DC 14 (10+1 ability+1 night+2 Aurochs tracks) to the ogrekin den, which is an abandoned dugout currently inhabited by a mother (Slag) and her infant daughter (Welt) to get the additional treasure attached to Slag and anything that the other three may not have been carrying. Buried under straw bed (DC 12). Treasure: 2400 sp, 52 gp, 16 pp. (50 coins = 1 lb.)

Day 2: The sun rises yellow in a white sky.

Weather: Temperate.

Traveling on, the PCs encounter

  1. Domestic cattle. Here the PCs should think about hiding Rahjin – or otherwise figure out what to do with him, before they encounter
  2. Ranchers and heelers.

Rancher, Neutral Good Commoner 2; Init +0; AC 11 (padded armor +1); Speed 30; Str 13/+1, Dex 11/-, Con 12/+1, Int 9/-1, Wis 10/-, Cha 8/-1; Skill: Profession (Ranching), Ride; Feats: Skill Focus (Ranching), Skill Focus (Ride); BAB +1, Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3; hp 14; Weapon: Spear +2 (1d8+1), Sling +1 (1d4)

Blue Heeler, XP 135 N Small animal; Init +1; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8; AC 13, touch 12, flat 12 (+1 Dex, +1 natural, +1 size); hp 6; Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1; Speed 40; Melee bite +2 (1d4+1); Str 13, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6; Base Atk +0, CMB +0, CMD 11 (15 vs. trip); Skills Acrobatics +1 (+9 jumping), Perception +8, Survival +1 (+5 scent tracking)

These ranchers are dressed in heavy winter furs and generally are seated on horseback. When they see the PCs, they raise their horns and make calls; they communicate with their distant kinsmen by varying their pitches. If they sight Rahjin, then these pitches definitely communicate to others of Rahjin’s presence. Moreover, the dogs will do as they are trained, and immediately attack Rahjin on sight. If merely scented, they will set up a baying that sounds eerily like horn calls. If a Rancher tries to call off the dogs, he must succeed at an opposed Will check (+3 Rancher vs. +1 Heeler + 1 for every dog that is in the fray). Whatever the case, if Rahjin is sighted, then Hornhall is alerted, and a party of Cavaliers is sent from the marge of Hornhall, at this time, to investigate. If the PCs attempt to talk to a rancher unperturbed by Rahjin, odds are he or she is distracted, irritated, and sullen. It’s not wise to distract a rancher from his/her charge. If PCs wait for the Cavaliers to approach, the scroll from Kolbern will nullify them and they will be escorted around the Tengu camp directly to Hornhall. Even Rahjin will be taken on as the Cavaliers’ responsibility when presented with the Arrowstone seal.

Kites in the sky. These belong to a tribe (parts of a total of 165, for they travel in smaller groups of 12-50, following the signal kites) of Tengu encamped on the fields outside of Hornhall. Passing into the midst, the PCs are engulfed in feathery humanoids who assail them with greetings and with offers to sell in a bazaar of tents and canopies that seems to spring up with the same fluidity as the kites. The situation is fairly tense, since a contingent of Heeders of the Call stands some distance away observing the “pickers of the dead.” Hostilities have heightened since Mun, Herm’s oracle, has decreed that something untoward is in the wind. If they are going to get to Hornhall, the PCs either will have to pass right through the midst of this caravan (the most direct route) or they may skirt it and directly approach Arva and her cavaliers (if they haven’t met them yet). Herm has given the order that no strangers are to be allowed into Hornhall, but Arva will choose to personally escort the PCs to High Hall, if necessary.

Things to do within the Tengu tribe (Ka-rak chree’lat; translation: Pickers of the Dead):

  • Browse the bazaar that is thrown up about them
  • Get their pockets picked by a murder of children tickling them
  • Learn that they are here because Kavenek (Oracle 7) has led them here to pick the bodies of the dead after war
  • Meet the principle NPCs Kavenek and Chiruk (Cutpurse 3)

The Tengu camp is an experience: it seems to be fluid, pitching and striking around them even as they walk, avenues and courtyards materializing beneath their feet. The air is thick with the scent of raven feathers. The PCs’ throats tickle, and breathing is forced. They feel fairly smothered.

Bazaar (500 gp magical items): +1 arrows, arrows of double range, music box of sleep (ravens swooping up and then back down from a skeleton on the ground), cloak of feathers (blend in shadows), headband of thought, bead rosary of extra/augment spell, kites, tents, bone whistle of summon the dead, bone whistle of summon birds, bone whistle of charm birds, feather charms of tickle/sneeze, blow guns, darts, bone knives of hold poison (for Gish, 8,000 gp, from Alchemist shop), grave mold – a box of it that must be constantly fed with dead intelligent flesh – of absorb quality and memory of the dead (for Bo, 1,000 gp each, from same Alchemist), quill gauntlets (for Rahjin, 8,000 gp). If they don’t have any money, the merchant is willing to let it go for claims on their corpses, for when they die. He takes a lock of hair and puts it in a vial. The vial then begins to glow with a gray, speckled light.

Pickpockets: The children suddenly swarm among the mark that looks most lucrative and slow (1d3 – 1 = Wand of Cure Light Wounds, 2 = Thunder-Oak Wand, 3 = Kolbern’s Scroll); if Chiruk intervenes, he will swap whatever was taken for the Thunder-Oak Wand. (DC 17 Perception to notice). If the PC tries to regain the item, more children swarm the person and attempt to tickle the PC, resulting in a Will save DC 12.

Anyone who the PCs choose to talk to is happy to tell them about Kavenek and the reason for the tribe being here. They will learn that Kavenek leads them, an oracle of bones, who finds out where there is going to be a battle, and they assemble near the battleground in order to be ready to loot the dead corpses (and perhaps even the entire city, if that ever ends up being the case). They travel in small bands of 12-50 in order to hide their numbers, often communicating through kite flying. Children questioned will give only the most rudimentary of answers and will certainly lead to the pickpocketing, if it hasn’t already occurred. Shopkeepers questioned will ask for money or change the subject by attempting to interest them in some quality item. Average adults will give this information and even lead them to Kavenek if given an impelling enough reason to do so (Diplomacy DC 12 or Intimidate 17).

If they seek out Kavenek, she resides in a palanquin of bones (aurochs and dinosaur bones) festooned with trophies from looted battlefields, kites of bones flying from the structure. Her kites look like a number of gaunt, gray ravens. The palanquin is borne by animated skeletons. The skeletons are animated by the power of the palanquin, which is a major wondrous object, and by the undead skull of the previous Oracle in the palanquin, which is able to forecast where the sites of great battles will be. Every time an Oracle dies, it becomes this skull, to give counsel and aid to the succeeding Oracle. At this point the previous skull is given a grand burial at the sight of the death of the last Oracle. It also is very important to identify emerging Oracles within the tribe. Eight Tengu guards and one level three sergeant (Krak lvl 3 warrior) defend her. To convince her guards here to get audience with Kavenek is DC 17, though success is immediate if PCs entice her with something undead. Chiruk will know this and may be willing to help if he can join the PCs.

AdvRaceGuideChiruk may choose to intercede when the pickpocketing happens. If he does, he snatches the item from the child and, when he returns it, performs a sleight of hand for something of even more value (DC 28 Perception to notice), the Thunder-Oak Wand if the item was taken from Bo. Chiruk may also approach the PCs while they are in the bazaar or while they are engaged with another NPC. Chiruk is eager to join the PCs, for he has begun to feel that his skills aren’t the best match for looting the dead, but that he should be looting the living. He may even give up his loot in order for forgiveness and the chance to travel with the PCs, for a time.

Kavenek, LN Tengu Oracle (Bones) 7; Str 12/+1, Dex 10/-, Con 12/+1, Int 11/-, Wis 15/+2, Cha 15/+2; Skills: Diplomacy +12, KS (religion) +10, KS (geography) +7, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +10; Feats and Special: Bones, Wasting (-4 Cha/+4 vs. disease), Revelations – Near Death (+2 vs. diseases, mind effects, poisons, death, sleep, and stun), Raise the Dead (raise skeleton, zombie, bloody skeleton, or fast zombie 7HD 1/day), Voice of the Grave (speak with the dead 7 rds. Day, target -2 Will to resist); Orisons: Bleed, Create Water, Detect Magic, Purify Food/Drink, Read Magic, Stabilize, Spark, 1 – Bane, Cause Fear, Cure Light Wounds, Death Watch, Detect Undead, Doom, 2 – Cure Moderate Wounds, Augury, Death Knell, Find Traps, False Life, 3 – Cure Serious Wounds, Nap Stack, Animate Dead, Contagion; Spell per Day: 1 – 7, 2 – 7, 3 – 4; Feats and Special: Widen Spell, Ectoplasmic Spell, Lingering Spell, Carrion Sense (ARG 163); Racial: low-light vision, +2 Perception and Stealth, Swordtrained (ARG 163), Bite (1d3), Languages – Taldan, Tengu; BAB +5, Fort +2/+3, Ref +2/-, Will +5/+7; hp 33; AC 10+ Gear: 2700 weapons, 2000 protection, 500 magic, 600 limited use, 200 gear.

Chiruk, CN Tengu Rogue (Cutpurse) 3, Str 12/+1, Dex 16/+3, Con 11/-, Int 15/+2, Wis 10/-, Cha 13/+1; Skills: Acrobatics +9, Appraise +7, Bluff +6, Climb +6, Diplomacy +6, Disable Device +8, Escape Artist +9, Linguistics +7, Perception +9, Sense Motive +6, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +10, Use Magic Device +4, Fly +7; Feats and Special: Sneak attack +2d6, Evasion, Measure the Mark (APG 133), Stab and Grab (APG 133), Fast getaway (APG 130), Glide (ARG 163), Rogue Class Option (ARG 163), Weapon Finesse; Racial: low-light vision, +2 Perception and Stealth, +4 Linguistics, Swordtrained (ARG 163), Bite (1d3), Languages – Skald, Taldan, Tengu, Giant, Sylvan, 1 more; BAB +2, Fort +1/-, Ref +3/+6, +1/-; hp 19; AC 10+3+2+1=16; Katana +6 (1d8+1, 18-20 x2, Deadly); Blowgun +6 (1d2 x2); Gear: Masterwork katana (350) Masterwork blowgun (302), Masterwork Leather armor (160), Cloak of feather dodge (+1 AC), 100 limited use, gear 200.

Heeders of the Call: A contingent of Cavaliers sworn to Herm Hammerhand, led by Arva, mounted on her Aurochs Ursu (longsword). Arva is a tall female in resplendent armor, horned helm, a long golden braid as thick as the rope on a ship’s anchor hanging down her back to her belt. Her lieutenant is Ul (longsword), pale, grim, no nonsense, wearing a huge, capped, drinking horn as well as a calling horn. Ferek (axe) wears a floppy fur hat with something like dog ears and has a big mustache. And Inik (rapier, shortbow) is thin and blond, hair so fine it’s wispy, with just strands for a beard. The mounts of all except for Arva’s are horses.

Arva, LG Ulfen Cavalier (Order of the Lion) 5; Str 15/+2, Dex 13/+1, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 8/-1, Cha 15/+2; Skills: Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +8, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats and Special: Challenge 2/day (APG 36), mount (Aurochs B1), tactician (Lookout – APG 155), order ability – Lion’s Call (APG 36), cavalier’s charge (+4 melee while mounted, no AC penalty), expert trainer, banner (APG 34), Mounted combat, Ride-by-attack, Trample, Coordinated defense (APG 155); Skills: Diplomacy +9, Handle Animal +9, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9; hp 45; BAB +5, Fort +4/+6, Ref +1/+2, Will +1/+0; AC 10+7+1=18; Melee: Longsword +8 1d8+2 (19-20×2), Mounted: Lance +8 1d8+2 (x3) Gear: Masterwork Longsword, Masterwork Lance, Masterwork Agile Breastplate (-4 armor check), Masterwork Saddle, Saddlebags, Masterwork Barding, 450 limited use, 200 gear

Ursu, Aurochs, Large animal; Init +0; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +9; AC 22, touch 9, flat 20 (+6 natural, +7 barding, -1 size); hp 40; Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +1; Spd 40; Melee gore +8 (1d8+9); Space 10, Reach 5; Special stampede, trample (2d6+9, DC 17 – Ref half damage); Str 24, Dex 11, Con 17, Int 3, Wis 11, Cha 4; Base Atk +3, CMB +9, CMD 19 (23 vs. trip); Skills Perception +9, Intimidate +3, Survival +2; Stampede: three or more adjacent making trample attack, save DC +2; B1 174. Feats: Evasion, Endurance, Improved Overrun, Intimidating Prowess; Equipment: Masterwork Agile Plate Barding

Ul, LN Cavalier 4 Str 17/+3, Dex 13/+1, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 8/-1, Cha 13/+1; Skills: Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +8, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats and Special: Challenge 2/day (APG 36), mount (Aurochs B1), tactician (Lookout – APG 155), order ability – Lion’s Call (APG 36), cavalier’s charge (+4 melee while mounted, no AC penalty), expert trainer, Mounted combat, Ride-by-attack, Weapon focus (longsword), Coordinated defense (APG 155); Skills: Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +7, Ride +7, Sense Motive +7; hp 30; BAB +4, Fort +4/+6, Ref +1/+2, Will +1/+0; AC 10+7+1=18; Melee: Longsword +9 1d8+3 (x3) Gear: Masterwork Longsword, Masterwork Agile Breastplate (-4 armor check), Saddle, Saddlebags, Barding, Heavy Horse (Combat trained), 450 limited use, 200 gear

Ferek, NG Cavalier 3 Str 17/+3, Dex 13/+1, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 8/-1, Cha 13/+1; Skills: Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +8, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats and Special: Challenge 2/day (APG 36), mount (Aurochs B1), tactician (Lookout – APG 155), order ability – Lion’s Call (APG 36), cavalier’s charge (+4 melee while mounted, no AC penalty), Mounted combat, Ride-by-attack, Weapon Focus (axe), Coordinated defense (APG 155); Skills: Bluff +6, Handle Animal +6, Intimidate +6; Ride +6; BAB +3, Fort +3/+5, Ref +1/+2, Will +1/+0; AC 10+7+1=18; Melee: Battleaxe +8 (1d8+3), Gear: Masterwork Battleaxe, Masterwork Daggers, Masterwork Agile breastplate (armor check -4), 450 limited use, 200 gear

Inik, NG Cavalier 3 Str 13/+1, Dex 17/+3, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 8/-1, Cha 13/+1; Skills: Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +8, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats and Special: Challenge 2/day (APG 36), mount (Aurochs B1), tactician (Lookout – APG 155), order ability – Lion’s Call (APG 36), cavalier’s charge (+4 melee while mounted, no AC penalty), Mounted combat, Mounted archery, Weapon focus (Shortbow), Weapon Finesse; Skills: Bluff +6, Handle Animal +6, Ride +6, Sense Motive +6; Ride, BAB +3, Fort +3/+5, Ref +1/+4, Will +1/+0; AC 10+3+2=15; Melee: Rapier +7 (1d6+1) Ranged: Shortbow +8 (1d6+1) Gear: Masterwork Rapier, Masterwork Composite Shortbow, Masterwork leather armor, 450 limited use, 200 gear

Hornhall

Hornhall has stood for centuries, perhaps even since the time of the First Men. The First Hall was built of sod cut right out of the ground, and so it has been ever since. But now the First Hall is rumored to be deep underground, at the exact terminal opposite of the current HIGH HALL. This is because, over the generations, the Ulfen of Hornhall took to building sod houses on sod houses, creating wide terraces over which their horses and cattle might freely range, fortifying them over many stories, until the ground became a honeycomb of old and forgotten chambers and passageways. The First Hall is now partly legend and has been lost. It is difficult to find it again because of late many underground nasties have found these old chambers and have infested them. Indeed, there have been eruptions of these creatures on the surface.

A slightly cleaner, "player-friendly" version of Hornhall.
A slightly cleaner, “player-friendly” version of Hornhall.
Either the ground was enchanted, or the First Men had some magic in treating the sod that dissipated over time, for the first structures, though sod, were as strong and as firm as rock. Of late, though, that feature has begun to erode, and its not uncommon for sinkholes to appear out of nowhere – sometimes right on top of monsters – or for people or cattle simply to break through the ground. This often is the most likely explanation for disappearances, and is something that the populace contends with every day.

Another feature of Hornhall is the relative technology that is there in the form of a Wind Turbine. It soon became desirable for streams to be available for the many horses and cattle that has been a feature of these Ulfen since perhaps the first men. Therefore, a Wind Turbine was built, at some point in the distant pass, and a family of gnomes have been tending to it for generations. Grazzle Grout and the rest of his family are the current keepers of the Turbine. It pumps water out from deep underground, draws it up to a fountain at the very doors of High Hall, where it pours out of the semblance of a great horn into a pool. From there it winds through the many pleasure gardens in Highgarden before trickling down to Midgarden and then down to the Mud Flats, where it tends to pool and stagnate before sinking completely into the earth.

Here is some more description, starting with the first part of the town the PCs are likely to encounter and then moving up.

Mud Flats: (80% human, 20% Halfling, some other) Stagnant marshes (the low ground; the streams above drain down), pigs, flies, sharecroppers, chickens, hovels, carpenters, tanners, millers (failing, because the wind turbine is inconsistent), taverns, brothels, children, the Mud Market. Encounters: among the folk, Skulks; among the brothels and taverns, Dhampir, who is killing women because he wants to ascend, to become a “real” vampire. Rumors: The above. Yes, children have been vanishing, but what else is new? They fall through the ground or get abducted by monsters. Quite a problem, that. Also, there is a Gray Ooze (B1) lurking about at the marge of one of the pools.

  • The Mud Pit
  • The Drinking Pen
  • The Huldra’s Tail (Brothel)
  • The Drinking Horn
  • The Horned Ox
  • Dryad’s Delight (Brothel)
  • The Sales Barn (Brothel)

A band (3-8) of Skulks (B2) are living in a partially submerged OLD CATTLE BARN at the edge of a pool near The Sales Barn. They have been going into people’s homes, killing them, and taking their stuff. They are so hard to track because they are using underground tunnels.

The Dhampir permanently rents a room in the Horned Ox. He keeps the blood of his victims in vials in a chest under his bed. Surgeon’s Tools with hose.

Vlaren, CE Dhampir fighter 3, CE Medium humanoid (dhampir); Init +3; Senses darkvision 60, low-light vision; Perception +1; AC 18 (touch 13, flat 15 (+5 armor, +3 Dex); hp 15; Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +0 (+2 vs. disease and mind-affects, +3 vs. fear); Defensive Abilities: negative energy affinity, resist level drain; Weakness: light sensitivity; Spd 30; Melee rapier +7 (1d6+1/18-20); Spell-like abilities CL 1: 3/day detect undead; Str 13, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16; Base Atk +3, CMB +6, CMD 17; Feats: Toughness, Weapon Finesse, Agile Maneuvers, Deceitful (+2 Bluff and Disguise); Skills: Bluff +7, Intimidate +7, Perception +1, Ride +5, Survival +3; Special: Resist level drain, bravery +1, armor training (B2) Equipment: masterwork chain shirt (armor check -1), masterwork rapier, 200 gp, 26 pp, ivory drinking horn copper ends 60, engraved jade scarab 85, gold and silver chess set 100 gp, gold and ivory decanter 400, Surgeon’s kit with hose, many vials of female blood.

Midgarden: (Mostly human, Halfling servants and innkeepers, dwarf professionals, some others) Knights, jousts, tourneys, garrisons, weaponsmiths, holmgang, entertainers, three inns, Mid Market. Encounters: Derro. The PCs may find someone who has bad dreams, claims he/she was taken. Infestation of Gremlins (Vexgit) at Wind Turbine operated by the gnome family the Grouts. Rumors: Something is not going well with the pumps.

  • The Splintered Shield
  • The Startled Stallion
  • Midgarden Mansion

Holmgang – the Half-Orc Glug (Barbarian 3) is the reigning champion here, and would be only too happy to face a half-troll.

The Derro (B1 70 – Solitary or team) They are taking their abductees to their own ASSORTMENT OF ROOMS, full of various surgical apparatus. They may even try to kidnap one of the PCs – the most unusual looking one – because they are new. Certainly interested in Rahjin because of his strange nature. The experiments might be with his regeneration. They probably keep cutting him and observing to see if they can use it to survive sunlight. They of course burn it with flame and acid and all sorts of materials to see what its weakness is.

The Wind Turbine: Stately, long before the PCs arrive at it, they hear the whirr of the fan blades, the creak and rattle of gears and chains, and the deep underground thrumming of pistons at work dragging up water from the depths of the ground. The tower of the turbine is very tall, and it is covered with little hatches and windows and scaffolding for work on the outside. The only obvious way inside, however, is a fairly modest little front door, just barely tall enough for a medium humanoid to get through, by stooping, with a lovely flower garden planted about it (in which some tiny fey do deign to inhabit). If they knock on the horn knocker and are admitted, they find themselves in a very spacious and, except for the ever-present noise of the machinery, very pleasant multi-storied and- tiered front hall, with lavish portraits of all the generations of Grouts looking down at them from the high walls. This is a lavish room, full of armchairs – some large enough for medium humanoids – fireplaces, tables, tea-things, chess boards, ornate lamps, ottomans, pipe sets, tobacco bowls, barrels of mead and ale. A lavish stairway, clinging to the walls, winds round and round about the inner walls, and the PCs might have the distinct impression that they feel like they are in the inside of the hollowed out trunk of a great tree, for the round portholes, up high, some of which are fairly open, let in branches of light.

Other private rooms and, supposedly, the bedrooms of the very large family are up there, for the children certainly come out to peer at them.

  • Ground floor: main hall, kitchen, storage, mudroom, outlets to cellars and machinery
  • Underground: pump works, vast caverns
  • Upstairs: dormitory room for the kids, nursery, play room, plenty of overlooks, master bedroom, grandparents’ room, great-grandmother’s room, balconies, observatory, access to the turbine, secret rooms with treasure, secondary armory, tinker shop

Over the years, the Grout family has tried to accede to every request of Hornhall and provide pumping water all over, which has resulted in a lot of machinery. This has been coupled with their natural desire to be constantly tinkering with what they have, making things infinitely more complicated and less efficient in their desire to be “better.” And now the Gremlins are trying to take it all apart.

There are 12 children: eight of whom are male, four who are female, named accordingly and spaced about one year apart. Grandpa and Grandma live with them too. And even Great-Grandma.

  • Great-Grandma Burrblossom, 10th level Adept, old
  • Grandpa Moston (9th level Expert) and Grandma Pees (9th level Commoner)
  • Grazzle and Glimmer Grout (7th level Expert,
  • Dimble
  • Vinfinger
  • Okrot
  • Moston
  • Buri
  • Pees
  • Pridge
  • Belnot
  • Limmer
  • Kordi
  • Tully
  • Kid
  • Frat

Grazzle’s brothers and sister, aunts and uncles and cousins, are scattered around town, tending to other parts of the machinery when they can. Many of them have gone underground, hunting the Gremlin, Vexgits. Grazzle’s youngest sister Gripple has done just that. She is a third level Ranger. The PCs might help Grimple exterminate an infestation of Vexgits in the PUMP MACHINERY.

Gripple Grout, CG Ranger 3, Str 11/-, Dex 15/+2, Con 16/+3, Int 10/-, Wis 12/+1, Cha 10/-, hp 34; BAB +3, Fort +3/+6, Ref +3/+5, Will +1/+2; Special: Favored enemy (Fey), track, wild empathy, Two-weapon fighting, Endurance (look up), Favored terrain (underground); AC 10+3+2+1 (size) = 16; Skills: Climb 3, KS (dungeoneering) 3, Perception 4, Stealth 4, Survival 3, Swim 3; Feats: Weapon Finesse, Nimble Moves Melee: Two Masterwork Axes, throwing (-2/-2) 1d4 (x2) range 10, Masterwork Leather armor +3 6×3, Gear: Masterwork backpack, Bedroll, Blanket, Chalk, Grappling hook, Rope (silk), Torches (3), Waterskin, Whetstone, Masterwork Climber’s Kit (+4), 350, 200, 80, 150

Highgarden: (All human, some Halfling servants), lovely gardens and fountains, one high class brothel, clubhouses, holmgang, High Market has all the best stuff, but magic items at double value for import fees. Encounters: Dark Creepers, Herm Hammerhand, Mun.

  • The Bull Dancers (Brothel)
  • The Knights of Grung (Club)
  • High Hall

A gang (3-6) of Dark Creepers is creeping out from underground to steal from the High Market. Shopkeepers are willing to pay dearly any PCs who can stand guard and stop them at night – or better yet, hunt them down to their lair and eradicate them. They have built quite some LAVISH CHAMBERS UNDERGROUND, and have protected themselves with many traps. Hard to get to!

Herm Hammerhand, NG Cavalier (Order of the Shield) 7, Str 16/+3, Dex 13/+1, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 10/-, Cha 12/+1; hp 10, BAB +7/+2, Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +2, Special: Mount, tactician (feat: precise strike), resolute (order ability), cavalier’s charge (+4 while mounted), expert trainer, banner, bonus feat, challenge 3/day; Feats: Mounted Combat, Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard, In Harm’s Way; Skills: Diplomacy 4, Intimidate 4, Ride 4, Sense Motive 4, Masterwork (the Hammerhand can be a shield and something else),

Mun, LG Oracle (Lore) 7, Str 12/+1, Dex 8/-1, Con 14/+2, Int 10/-, Wis 13/+2, Cha 17/+3, hp 8, BAB +5, Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +5; Special: Three revelations Automatic Writing, Brain Drain, Lore Keeper, Clouded Vision, Spells Known 0-7 Create Water, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Guidance, Purify Food/Drink, Read Magic, Resistance, 1-5 Bless, Cause Fear, Command, Cure Light Wounds, Divine Favor, 2-3 Calm Emotions, Enthrall, Zone of Truth, Identify, Tongues, Locate Object 3-2 Remove Curse, Remove Disease; Equipment: Horn of Scry from the water at Grung’s Well.

Mun is concerned because Erastil’s holy ash tree in Grung’s Grove has been dying, no matter how she waters it with the water pumped out of the center of the city, the part of the plumbing most ardently worked upon by the Grouts. She has given up blaming them, she has been unable to detect any poison in the water, and can only conclude that Erastil has removed his favor from Hornhall (as indeed he has, because of Hornhall’s inclusion and unwillingness to embrace others in the Ulfen and cosmic family – even the Norns have stopped appearing at the site).

Vindalf, Duergar LE Wizard 4 (CR 3), Init  -1, Senses darkvision 120, Perception +1; AC, hp 26; Fort +4, Ref -1/+0, Will +4, +2 vs. spells; Immune paralysis, phantasms, poison; Weaknesses light sensitivity; Spd 20; Melee warhammer +4 (1d8+1/x3), Ranged light crossbow +1 (1d8/19-20); Spell-like abilities (CL 3rd) 1/day enlarge person (self only), invisibility (self only); Str 12, Dex 9, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 4; BAB +2, CMB +3, CMD 12; Spells per Day 0-4 Ghost Sound, Daze, Dancing Lights, Flare, 1-3 Color Spray, Disguise Self, Expeditious Retreat, 2-2 Blur, Misdirection; Illusion School (Conjuration, Divination): Extended Illusions, Blinding Ray, Familiar: Rat (+2 Fort to master; alertness, improved evasion, share spells, empathic link, deliver touch spells; +2 AC, Int 7); Feats: Weapon Focus (warhammer), Extend Spell, Scribe Scroll, Craft Wondrous Item; Skills: Intimidate +1, Stealth +3, Bluff -2, Disguise -2, Spellcraft +4, Profession (Carver) +1; Equipment: Hat of Disguise, Wand of Mage Armor, Sunglasses. The combined contents of his toys are worth 1500 gp, but they would have to find a buyer or sell them themselves.

This duergar appears as a ruddy-faced dwarf. He wears very dark sunglasses and has a long red beard knotted with wooden charms. He wears a peaked green hat with crow feathers in the brim (this is the Hat of Disguise). Beneath his glasses, his green eyes might twinkle too much, though, and react entirely correctly in the sunlight. His laugh might be too deep and loud. He is under a disguise (DC 18 Perception). When the PCs meet him, he certainly has Misdirection cast, as he is in the habit of casting it two times a day, and the object of his misdirection is a fellow seller who has proven himself to be a fairly good man, though a bit unscrupulous – but he has to take care of his own, having a wife and family to provide for (Neutral Good).

Vindalf travels in a covered wagon that he himself takes up on his shoulders, to drag with dwarven strength, from site to site. From it he sells a number of minor wondrous items – most of them not even wondrous – little figures and toys carved out of stone and (in some cases) wood. He doesn’t have the power or resources to create Soulbound Dolls, and he gets them periodically sent to him by agents who tell him of places to meet. He has two in his possession right now – an Aurochs and a Horse. If any combat ensues, these Dolls certainly will aid Vindalf for a time, but only for long enough to escape, because their main objective is to get themselves found by some unsuspecting child so that it might be kidnapped. (Entrance to the duergar passage?)

Vindalf has been very careful about his task, only rarely giving out the dolls directly (and that at secret, with express commands and a wink to not tell where it came from) or, more often, by leaving them in the path where some child is likely to find it without any chance of returning it to a rightful owner. In most cases these two dolls have returned to him in the dead of night, and he has used them again. The main way to encounter Vindalf is through dumb luck, most likely in the Highmarket, or through a Diplomacy check (DC 25?), that takes a number of hours throughout the day, through which the PCs learn about a dwarf selling dolls amidst his collection of rude toys.

Highmarket

  • Tailor (Ulfen Snips and Halfling Poddit partnership)
  • Fletcher (Ulfen Ash)
  • Weaponsmith (Ulfen Dvari)
  • Blacksmith (Ulfen Tor)
  • Butcher (Ulfen Kilver and Halfling Hock partnership)
  • Fruit and Vegetable Vendors (Halfling Goran) the best carefully procured from the markets below)
  • Armorsmith (Ulfen Dent)
  • Goldsmith (Gnome – Vener Grout)
  • Potion Brewer (Gnome – Vescent Grout)
  • Wand maker (Half-elf Lanimer)
  • General Store (Halfling couple Ham and Ayles)

Highmarket economy: They really have only the magic items that would be offered in a village, but some others are brought in at double price for import fees.

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