Monday, 21 September 2020

The Dark Ring

This week in our Swords & Wizardry campaign we are actually playing an adventure that I wrought. But I did use a map from Heroic maps. So far it has gone okay. I had a couple of encounters set up for their journey to the main adventure site. I did think the first encounter at the main site was a little clumsy. I should have thought through more carefully what the players might do.

Session 21: Valley of the Nine Men

Players: Lakima (Magic-user), Eathwund (Fighter), Carric (Elven Thief), Domago (Human cleric NPC), Crispin (Human Magic-user NPC).

The four adventurers leave the last hideout of the Veiled Society and head through the forest to the Rangers Steading. They are greeted Theric the leader of the Rangers and discover he has been cured of Lycanthropy by Cara Morrient. He gladly accepts their donations of supplies and takes the keys to the Elven Stronghold to safe keep.

The continue on to the hamlet of Cowfold with the cart they borrowed and three prisoners tied up in the back. In Cowfold they again take rooms at McGillman’s Inn. The three prisoners are tied up to a table in the main tavern and the heroes take turns watching them during the night. The next morning they set out on horseback toward Edgerton. At midday, they come across a body lying at the side of the road. While everyone waits, Carric scouts ahead to the body. He does not see anything suspicious so he waves everyone forward. Domago examines the body and finds the man is alive. He wakes the man up with a splash of water. The man tells them he was waylaid by a pair of bandits. They demanded his possessions and he tried to defend himself but was knocked out. He tells them that the bandits took all of his possessions. Lakima offers to take the man to Edgerton. The man introduces himself as Philbus and he gladly accepts Lakima’s offer. He asks them if they are bounty hunters and seems satisfied with the answer.

Late that evening the group reaches Edgerton. The Town guards at South Gate direct them to the Guard Station. Philbus thanks them and asks if they could spare him some gold? Eathwund gives Philbus 10 gold coins. Phibus waves goodbye and runs off. Carric silently drops off his horse and follows Philbus. Lakima and Eathwund continue on to the guard station. Domago heads over to the Church of St. Aleena. Lakima and Eathwund talk with the Guard sergeant on duty and hand over the three Veiled Society prisoners.

Meanwhile, Philbus, with Carric trailing him, heads to a rougher neighborhood and enters a building that appears to be a busy tavern. There is no sign outside the building but there are lights in the windows and a lot of noise. Carric carefully enters and finds the building houses a crowded tavern. He spots Philbus speaking to the barkeep. The barkeep nods to Philbus and hands him a key. Philbus goes behind the bar and through a curtained entrance. Carric notes this and leaves. That evening at the Black Company Shop, Carric lets Eathwund and Lakima know what he observed.

The next day, Lakima and Eathwund head to the Watch station, Carric heads off to gather information. Lakima and Eathwund meet with Sergeant Frans and collect the 1,200 gold bounty on Emil Radu and the other two men. They tell Frans about their encounter with Philbus. Frans tells them that it sounds like they encountered the thief Philbus the Fox. Carric scouts around the Market square looking for any of his contacts but does not find them. He heads over to the Low Market and observes a group of urchins working through the crowd, begging and thieving. He talks to the urchins and pays them some silver coins for information. He learns that the tavern he entered is called the Brass Key and is run by a man called “Old Pete” by the kids. They tell him that Pete is a fence.

Carric heads back to the shop and speaks with Eathwund about what he has learned. Eathwund tells Carric about Philbus the Fox. Lakima heads over to Fairfax gems and purchases an expensive bracelet for his fiance Alayna. He drops by Alayna’s shop and surprises her with the bracelet, which she seems delighted to receive.

While Lakima is out, there is a knock at the door and Carric finds a young man waiting at the door. The man seems surprised to meet Carric and asks to come in and talk to Lakima, Eathwund, or Daen. Carric lets the man in and Eathwund at first believes the man is Malyn the wizard but again with the appearance of a young man. But after speaking to the man who claims to be Malyn, Eathwund begins to become suspicious. When Lakima finally arrives, he quickly deduces the man is not Malyn. The man admits this and tells them his name is Crispin. He has been hired by Malyn to impersonate him. He asks them to accompany him to the Apothecary shop. They are still a little suspicious and refuse. The man leaves.

Later in the day, a fairly terse letter arrives from Malyn asking them to come by the shop. They do head over to the shop with Domago (who returned) and find the shop is still closed. They knock and a tall, armored man lets them into the shop. In the shop Malyn (still looking around 40 years old) and Crispin greet them. Malyn tells them that it is time to investigate the note he received. He wants them to accompany Crispin to the Standing Stones. Crispin will be impersonating him. He does hand a Black Ring of his hand to Crispin and asks them to carefully protect it. It would be best if it does not fall into the wrong hands. They agree to take on the task as a favor in return for a favor. Malyn agrees. They decide to set out immediately. They arrange for their ostler Nash to meet them and they stop by the Church of St. Cuthbert to meet Marta. Marta gives them 5 vials of Holy Water.

They set out from Edgerton out the north gate and follow the road along the Valen river for a few hours. Then Carric leads them off the trail in a northerly direction. They head across increasingly rough and deserted terrain to the north. This continues for hours until Carric pauses. Ahead, he spots a clearing, a mound of fresh-turned earth, and a dead horse lying on the ground near the mound. The heroes are immediately on guard. Carric circles the mound and approaches the horse. He spots a leg sticking out from under the horse, but when he gets closer he realizes it is a severed human leg without a body. Under the horse, he extricates a saddlebag. In the bag he finds a scroll tube with a note:

“Draxus has left Edgerton with protection. He has hired a group of adventurers called The Company of the Black Dragon. We have encountered this group before and they are dangerous.

King Rat”

While the group discusses the note they here rumbling beneath their feet and an enormous insect bursts from the ground nearby. The insect immediately attacks Eathwund and misses. Eathwund, Domago, and Carric all miss the nine-foot-tall insect. Lakima casts Aztazibar’s Acrid Finger and a stream of green acid shoots from his finger striking the insect, burning into its carapace. Domago hits the insect with his mace but it bounces off the hard carapace. The insect attacks Domago but misses. All of this time Lakima keeps his stream of acid on the insect continually burning it. Eathwund and Domago also strike the creature with Domago crushing its head with his strike. The creature twitches and collapses. Carric checks out the hole it emerged from but it does not look safe so he does not enter. They do take the time to chop away a large piece of the insect’s carapace. Then they rejoin Nash, Crispin, and the horses and continue on their way. They make camp in the field just before sundown.

The night is uneventful. They post watches but nothing disturbs them. The set out the next morning for the valley. On their right, the Northern Hills are visible and they spot the Valen Peaks ahead. Carric tells them that soon they should spot the smoke coming from the Valley of the Nine Men. Shortly after he says that they do see smoke, but it is too the north of them not in the direction of the valley they seek. Carric says that it looks like a large campfire. The discuss it and then decide to investigate. They want to be sure no one is following them. They find the source of the fire a short distance away. A small log cabin is on fire and the fire is slowly going out. Around the cabin, they see three dead goblins and a dead human. Carric spots a mule with heavy packs on its back in a nearby clearing eating grass. Nash is sent over to catch it. Domago checks that the human is dead. The man is badly, burned, and long since dead. He clutches a burnt crossbow. The goblins are each pierced by an iron crossbow bolt. As they stand about discussing the scene a volley of arrows flies from the trees aimed at all of them. One bounces off Eathwund’s shield. Another strikes Nash, and the ostler falls to the ground. Lakima yells at Domago to check on Nash. Carric finds cover in the burnt-out cabin. Lakima casts Shield on himself. Eathwund charges into the trees looking for the attackers. He immediately finds himself surrounded by a dozen goblins - many armed with short bows.  The goblins attack him from all sides with spears and swords but Eathwund easily parries their attacks. Lakima casts Lightning bolt and immolates five of the goblins instantly. Eathwund, meanwhile, slashes at the goblins and kills three quickly. The remaining goblins run away. Eathwund decides not to pursue.

Domago and Nash lead the mule over to the cabin. They find some bear pelts and other miscellaneous goods strapped onto the mule. They take the mule in tow and continue to the east. Just as the smell of the tar pits of the valley begins to be noticeable the sun starts to set and they make camp.

That night they are disturbed several times by large bats flying by but seemingly kept away by their fire and torches. They manage to make it through the night. The next day they enter the Valley of the Nine Men. A thick cloud of smog rolls over them. The cloud smells bitter and it makes breathing difficult. A few of the heroes strap clothes wetted with water over their mouths. The visibility begins to drop as they walk further through the smog. The sun becomes a dim orange globe in the sky above. As they move cautiously through the valley they see the occasional bubbling tar pit. Carric spots a troop of six skeletons walking in a formation. They avoid them and then another group of eight skeletons moving in two columns. Crispin nervously notes that the skeletons were likely animated by a necromancer.

The Nine Men finally come into a view. Nine, black stone rocks each 14 feet tall. The stones are in a rough stone circle atop a flattened hill. In the center are a patch of rock and a crude stone altar. The Nine rocks do not look like the same stone as the local rock. They climb the hill and approach the circle. Crispin and Lakima approach the simple altar. They hear shrill laughter echoing about the circle. Then a woman appears out of nowhere not 10 feet away from Crispin. She surveys the group and then demands Crispin (who she calls Malyn) hand over the black ring. Crispin nervously fingers the ring on his hand. Lakima confronts the woman and demands to see her master. She refuses and threatens them. When she is unable to convince them to part with the ring she casts a spell and flies thirty feet straight up into the air. Eathwund spots a man jump down from the top of one of the stones and run off toward a nearby tunnel mouth in the side of the hill. He intercepts and swings his sword and the man, but the man ducks under the swing and gets away. The woman yells threats at them and then vanishes.

The Circle of the Nine Men

Eathwund, Domago, Carric, and Lakima with a reluctant Crispin in tow head over to the tunnel mouth. They tell Nash to wait outside with the horses. The tunnel is 15 feet across and 12 feet high. Steps lead down to a double door made of oak. The steps are 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall. Eathwund notes that the entrance looks to be designed for some really large creature.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Programmed Solo Adventures

 I bought a few solo system adventures from Pacesetter Games & Simulations. I have a long history with this style of solo play. The first one I purchased and played was M1: Blizzard Pass in 1983. I recalled enjoying actually getting a chance to play. I was our game group DM and I never got a chance to be a player. It was not the same of course. The most disappointing thing was that when my hero was killed entering with a new hero was not really the same. I also quickly used up the invisible ink revealing pen and never got to see everything in the adventure. When I purchased M2: Maze of the Riddling Minotaur later that same year I carefully managed the ink of the pen and completed the adventure. I recall that the Riddling Minotaur module had an amazing maze map spread over two pages.

Later I would buy MV1: Midnight on Dagger Alley (1984) that had a magic viewer. Basically, the text to be revealed could only be seen by looking through a red-tinted viewer. I still have that viewer. I do not remember much about this adventure. The ones that followed, BS1: Ghost of Lion's Castle and XS1: Lathan's Gold (both 1984) changed the format away from the hidden text. They became programmed text like pick-your-path adventure gamebooks. The last one I played was XS2: Thunderdelve Mountain (1985). I recall I could never get through Thunderdelve alive despite multiple attempts.

I have a few of the Tunnels & Trolls solo adventures and a few from some other companies and systems but none stand out.

So the other day I tried my hand at Pacesetter Games & Simulations, I1: Grave of the Green Flame. I have the fourth printing from March 2020. According to the text it was originally published in 2011. The solo system included uses the OSRIC rules.

You can roll up any AD&D 1st edition character to start. No matter who you roll up and equip, you will start naked by the side of the road ambushed by brigands. A worker for an Innkeeper finds you and brings you to the Inn. The innkeeper agrees to equip you if you will find and kill the brigands who are bad for business.

The system uses lettered and numbered encounters to move the story along. You also get snippets of the overland map in each lettered area that allows you to slowly build a map of the area. You move along a trail from area to area. The trails cross one another so there are a lot of directions you can go.

I rolled up a 1st level Half-elven fighter I named Raelin Windstriker. Raelin did okay on his first day in the woods. He found an altar in the woods that enchanted his sword, he found a potion of healing (that was key), a few fights, and he tracked down the three brigands who waylaid him in the introductory text. Raelin was blocked several times from heading south by a wall of poisonous green mist. I never figured out how to pass it until after play when I read through the entire module.

On the second day, things took a turn for the worse. Raelin returned to the Inn the night before and recovered a hit point but he was still down to half. Then he had a disastrous encounter with three lowly centipedes. After that encounter ended Raelin was down to 4 hp and actively avoiding combat. He entered a barrow despite some misgivings and found a lot of treasure and no guards. But when he left he encountered a Shadow (3+3 HD). The text suggested fight or return the treasure. Raelin was not about to return the hard-earned treasure so he fought, and quickly lost and died.

Raelin decides to fight to keep the loot

Was the adventure fun? A little.

I find that after playing a solo game using an oracle and being my own gamemaster that I have come to expect a lot more freedom. Playing programmed adventures limits your choices. Often you only have two choices and to keep it interesting the right choice sometimes does not make a lot of sense. I was repeatedly punished for being cautious. I scouted a cabin in the woods and stepped on a stick alerting the bandits inside. I checked a stream carefully before crossing twice, and both times I got hit with a Wandering monster roll. There is also, really no real ability to reuse a programmed adventure. You are going to remember the right choices to make.

It is not very expensive on DrivThru RPG so I think it is still worth the single evenings distraction of playing.

When the Players turn Left

On Sunday's Swords & Wizardry session (#20) I had the time-honored tradition of the players surprising the GM. When you are playing an online game with a lot of dungeon crawling this can be a real problem. I managed to ad-lib through it.

After last week, when the players learned of the location of the hideout of the Veiled Society, I expected they would head straight for the hideout. It was a short dungeon adventure so the day before play I added a little to it and I made sure the next adventure was ready. The party lost the NPC Dwarf Fighter they had for melee punch in the previous week so I had some NPCs added to the next adventure.

Instead, the players voted to return to Edgerton to recover from their injuries and recruit some hirelings. They figured that the Veiled Society was in hiding and would not be going anywhere. They paid town-criers and bulletin boards to advertise for a "group chaplain". If I had a little more time I might have had them get an imposter or something. But I just made up a human cleric off the top of my head with the first name I spotted online, Domago. Then they hired the local ostler's stable boy to be a horse handler for them. After several days in Edgerton, fully recovered, they returned to the King's Wood to deal with the Veiled Society. On the plus side, I am all ready for next week.

Session 20: The Veiled Society Hideout

Players: Lakima (Magic-user), Eathwund (Fighter), Carric (Elf Thief), Damago (Human Cleric of St. Aleena).

Finally, after a few days in Edgerton the Company of the Black Dragon sets out south for Cowfold. They make it to Cowfold as evening approaches without incident. The innkeeper mentions that one of the Rangers of Arkwood did come to the hamlet and pick up supplies. 

The next day the four adventurers and their hireling set out with Carric leading the way. Carric tells them that he remembers the path to the former Elven watch post that they have discovered the Veiled Society is using as a hideout.  They arrive at the site just before the sun goes down and make a cold camp a short distance away. From the outside, the outpost looks deserted. There is a single entranceway into the cliff face. They decide to approach it the next morning when the sun is up.

Domago and Lakima take the first watch. Domago sets out to hide just outside the campsite. Carric keeps a suspicious eye on the newcomer. Shortly after the sun goes down and the forest goes dark they spot a flickering light in the direction of the cliff outpost. Then everyone who is awake hears a pair of voices in the forest nearby. Domago goes to investigate and Carric secretly and silently follows him. They spot a pair of men dressed as mercenaries openly talking, apparently not concerned that they could be spotted. The men are walking back toward the watch post carrying a dead rabbit. Domago goes back to report what he saw with Carric shadowing him. Carric suggests that he sneak up on the men to see where they go.

Carric heads for the flickering light and comes upon a campfire near the base of a rock face a short distance from the outpost entrance. Four men are tending the fire and preparing the rabbit to cook it. The men discuss their unhappiness with their leadership and the names Emil and Antonito Radu are mentioned. He heads back to the camp and reports his findings. The adventurers decide to sleep on it and investigate the next day.

In the daylight, they investigate the rockface near the entrance to the watch post looking for another way in. Eventually, they do find the outline of a secret door near the cold firepit but they are unable to open it. The group discusses whether to wait and see if they can ambush some of the men when they exit the secret door or just go in the obvious entrance right now. They decide to wait.

As evening comes they wait in the forest near where they spotted the secret door. After sunset, the door opens and a man emerges. He starts to get a fire going in the firepit. Another man emerges and joins him. Then a third emerges and heads out into the woods. The heroes spit-up. Carric and Domago follow the man into the woods and Eathwund and Lakima move closer to the fire. After observing it for a few minutes, Lakima casts sleep, and one of the men tending the fire slumps over asleep. His companion notices and walks over to shake him awake. Lakima emerges from the shadows and casts Charm Person on him. The man falls under the thrall of the charm spell. Meanwhile, in the woods, Carric and Domago ambush the remaining man. They kill him after a brief struggle in which Carric is badly injured. Domago casts Cure Light Wounds on Carric to restore him to health. Back at the campsite Lakima’s newly charmed friend questions the shouting he can hear in the woods but Lakima assures him it is nothing.

Carric and Domago return to the fire. Lakima motions to Carric to slit the throat of the sleeping man by Domago puts a hand on Carric’s arm and shakes his head. They agree to tie up and gag the man instead. With the secret door still propped open Lakima bids the charmed man to lead them into the hideout. They come into a corridor and the man tells them to be quiet because the boss’s room is nearby. He leads them down the corridor to a guardroom to introduce them to his fellow guards. 

“Hey fellows, you won’t believe who I ran into. It is those guys who caused us all those problems in Edgerton. But once you get to know them you realize they are great guys!”

There are three guards in the room, two at a table and a third in a bed. All of them are completely surprised. Domago and Eathwund rush in to attack and Carric dispatches the sleeping man. The man who was charmed becomes alarmed and attacks Carric. A bloody battle ensues and the two remaining men are killed. Knowing that the leader’s room is nearby the adventurers decide to head over to his chambers first. But before they can find the room they hear a door close a short distance away. Soon a guard comes down the corridor toward them. They set up an ambush and chase the man into the guardroom. Once he sees all of the dead bodies waiting there he agrees to surrender. He is bound and gagged and left in the chamber.

Carric checks a door in the hallway and hears nothing so he opens the door. As the door opens he sees the wire trigger for a trap he just triggered. A barrage of arrows fires out of the wall and he is struck several times and badly wounded. Domago gives him two potions of healing to recover. Chagrined, Carric carefully checks the next door. It does not appear to be trapped. Opening the door they find a storeroom piled high with crates and barrels. They check the other door in this area and find it is locked. Carric tries but he is unable to open the lock. Eathwund tries forcing the door but it is solid. Lakima suggests they try bluff the door open. Eathwund yells for Antonito (whom they surmise is behind the door) telling him they are under attack. They hear a flurry of activity through the door and then the sound of a distant door shutting.

Just then they hear more voices and footfalls coming from the direction of the guardroom. Heading back that way they see three men walking toward them. They immediately launch an attack on the men. The man at the back of the group turns and runs off into the darkness, the closest man advances with his sword ready. There is an exchange of sword thrusts. Then a fourth man emerges from an open door in the wall and casts a magic spell. The third man in the hallway chants a prayer. Once the prayer is complete Eathwund finds he is paralyzed and cannot move while Lakima fights it off. Lakima then casts Lightning bolt which bounces down the corridor hitting all three of his opponents. The cleric is killed instantly by the blast of lightning. The mage and the fighter survive but are badly burned. Eathwund then kills the fighter and advances menacingly on the mage who immediately surrenders. He tells them he is Emil Radu, one of the leaders of the Veiled Society. Emil tries to bargain for his release with the promise of passing over his stash of gold. He also gives them a key to Antonito’s chamber. Meanwhile, Carric and Eathwund run into darkness after the man who ran away. They find him in a stable trying to saddle a horse. They tell him to surrender but he attacks desperately and they end up killing him.

Taking stock of the situation the adventurers figure there must be a back entrance into Antonito’s chamber. The question Emil and he agrees but tells them he does not know where it would be located. They search and find a secret passage headed in the right direction. Carric and Lakima enter the secret passage while Domago and Eathwund head for the locked door. The key works on the door and they enter a large circular chamber with a raised platform. Eathwund climbs up to the platform just as Lakima and Carric enter through a secret door at the back of the platform. The chamber is well decorated but shows signs of being recently ransacked. There is no sign of Antonito. The adventurers realize that the head of the Veiled Society has gotten away.

Emil continues to try and bargain for his release but he loses his bargaining power when the heroes search his quarters and find the gold stash. They pack up all of the gold they find and also pack up a lot of the supplies onto a cart. They decide that they should drop by the Rangers Steading and give the supplies to the Rangers.

With the cart loaded with supplies and three prisoners, they head back to their camp.

Monday, 7 September 2020

One Page Solo Engine

Another round of playing using the Glaive RPG rules that I got from backing a kickstarter. The last time I used the rules to play solo and my character was killed in his first encounter. This time things went about as smoothly as you could possibly hope.

I used the same setting of Frostmarch. In fact, this is a continuation of the events in Brem Lonetree's story. This time I used the One Page Solo Engine written by Karl Hendriks that I found online somewhere. These rules are exactly what you would expect from the title. A single landscape page pdf that encompasses all you need to play solo. Those familiar with other oracles will find it is very similar. The big plus of these rules as they have everything you need on one page. Scene setting, yes/no oracle, Complex questions using a regular deck of cards, NPC reactions, and finally a simple dungeon crawler.  I tried out as much of the tools as I could jam into one session.

It worked well. I really like these rules. Especially how compact they are.

Arven Reed’s Story

It was another freezing cold day. Reed chopped wood just outside the tower. The wood chopping had the benefit of keeping him active and warm, and if he chopped enough, he could keep the tower warm the entire night. He dropped the ax on another log splitting it in half. Reaching down to pick up the wood he thought he could hear something. He paused. The wind was not very brisk today, but it was cold.


Reed definitely herd his master Zoquill this time. He picked up the ax and jogged quickly into the tower. Zoquill’s tower was very tall with a room for Reed at the base and a long stair up the inside of the tower to the three floors of rooms near the top where his master lived.

“Reed get up here!”

Reed was out of breath when he finally made it up the forty feet of steps to the lowest level. There was no sign of Zoquill in his bed-chamber so he continued up the stairs to the workroom and on up to the study just under the roof of the tower. Zoquill was here looking out a window with his telescope.

“Stupid Messenger is in trouble,” Zoquill said and gestured for Reed to look. Reed carefully looked through the telescope making sure not to bump it. Through the blurry glass, he could make out a dark spot on the snow in a clearing. “I don’t see anything master?”

“Humph, be that as it may. The messenger from Greenvale with our supplies and more importantly my books was waylaid by goblins. You need to go retrieve the supplies.”

Reed glanced at the sun through one of the windows. It was a few hours from setting. “I will set out first thing at dawn,” he said cautiously.

“You will go now and come back with my books or do not come back at all.”

Reed's heart sank. He had heard that note of finality before. There was no use arguing. He went back down to his quarters and grabbed the heavy blanket he used when out in the cold. Drawing it over his head. He also belted on the old sword he had owned for years. Finally, he carefully buckled his three spellbooks to his belt. The last thing he grabbed was a covered lamp. It was going to get dark soon.

Reed sets out into the Thin Thorns Forest

Scene 1 Travel: Find the Messenger

Is Reed able to find the messenger (unlikely)? Yes.

Are there any supplies remaining at the scene (unlikely)? No.

Are there tracks he can follow (likely)? Yes.

Arven Reed manages to find the spot in the snow in an open clearing where the messenger from Greenvale lay dead in the snow. The man is already starting to freeze. There was a look of surprise frozen on his face. Looking about Reed sees that all of the supplies have been taken. The sled appears to be intact. Tracks lead off into the trees of at least two goblins. Reed briefly looks at the dead man wondering who he is and what he wanted out of life. This is no time or place to bury the body so he salutes the body mutters an apology and follows the tracks left by the goblins.

Reed follows the tracks left by the Goblins. It grows dark and cold. Ahead he sees a cave.

Have the goblins left a guard (likely)? Yes. 

Two goblins guard the cave entrance. Reed opens a spellbook and casts Sleep on the two guards. They both fall into slumber (they failed their saving throw and will sleep for 1 turn). He is unable to retain the use of the spell (Reed has the talent Manifold Cerebrum which gives him a chance to retain a spell after casting it).

Scene 2 Dungeon Crawler: The Goblin Caves

Reed sneaks up and enters the cave. There are two tunnels heading in opposite directions. 

Can Reed see any recent tracks (likely)? Yes. 

He heads down the right tunnel which appears to have seen more traffic. The tunnel enters a cave that looks like a living area. There are two exits including the one he entered. A human dressed in leather armor is seated on a stool at a simple table. The man spots Reed and jumps to his feet. “Who are you?” Thinking quickly, Reed says, "Relax, I am here for the same reason you are." (I rolled a 5 on the encounter which is neutral or friendly NPC).

Open-ended question - (Creating, Social). 

"What? I thought I was the only envoy that was sent?" Reed answers that he is here to pick up something. The man seems suspicious but Reed is able to move past him and down the new tunnel. The man moves to follow but then thinks better of it and sits back down.

Reed walks down the tunnel and comes to an intersection. One passage heads back toward what he suspects is the other tunnel coming from the entrance. There is also a goblin here sitting on a stool. But the goblin is dosing (again I rolled a neutral encounter). Reed sneaks by him.

Reed quietly enters a larger cave. There are several wooden crates stacked against the wall and one is the crate from Greenvale that he is trying to find (I rolled a location for a specialized purpose). The light from his lamp startles a goblin rummaging through an open crate. The goblin puts his hands up to show that he has no weapons (amazingly I rolled a third neutral encounter). Reed takes out his spellbook and casts Charm. The goblin fails a saving throw and  Reed retains charm in his memory.

Reed tries speaking to the goblin but the creature does not understand him. He checks in the crate and sees that most of the food is gone but the books, magic components, and writing implements remain. He checks through the other crates and sees blankets, clothing, and other winter gear. Taking two blankets he wraps up everything in two bundles. He also grabs a small pouch he spots that has four gems in it. Reed hands the two bundles to his new goblin friend and waves at the goblin to follow.

He heads out what he is certain is the more direct route to the exit of the cave (the dungeon crawler indicated one exit leads to an area already mapped). His goblin friend follows carrying the two bundles of gear.

Are the goblins at the cave exit awake now (normal)? No.

Thankfully the goblins at the cave are still asleep. Reed calmly walks past them and heads out into the night with his goblin friend. After 10 minutes he casts Charm again to keep his goblin friend under control, (success) and makes it all of the way to the abandoned sled. Realizing the goblin is going to snap out of the charm soon. Reed points the goblin back towards its home and waves goodbye. Reed sets out pulling the sled. The goblin happily waves until disappearing from Reed's sight.

Does he make it to the tower without further trouble (likely)? Yes. 

Reed makes it back to the tower before the sun rises. Zoquill is asleep so he unpacks the supplies in the blankets and heads to his own bed to sleep.

Reed and a friend leave the Goblin caves

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A Wizard's Fate

Another session in the mash-up adventure I wrote that takes place in a large forest. After the last adventure two of the party members were infected with Lycanthropy. Since they were both demi-humans this was a potential death sentence. For this reason, the players wanted to get back to town as quickly as possible and get a cure. This means they set aside the original reason they came to the forest - tracking down the remaining members of the Veiled Society. I had anticipated this possibility. I could have had them go back to Town and try to get the Church to cure their two companions. But at the last minute (the day before the game) I decided to plug in an adventure.

I was a subscriber to Dungeon magazine from the start and one of the adventures that I remembered was "A Wizard's Fate" from issue 37 from 1992. Written by Christopher Perkins well before he had joined Wizards I assume.

The adventure is a short dungeon crawl through a dungeon beneath a wizard's tower that recently exploded. The formerly evil wizard had fallen in love with a local woman and his demonic familiar sabotaged a perfume he was making for her destroying the wizard and the tower. The woman comes to look for the wizard and the imp captures her. A few rooms with tricks and traps and an evil imp working things in the background.

I switched the location from a remote tower to the mayor's home in the hamlet of Cowfold. In the description of Cowfold the mayor is noted as a mage hiding from his past. So it all fit. It went quite well and everyone had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the favorite NPC Daen Shieldbreaker the dwarven fighter was bitten by a spider and failed his save and died. That was upsetting to the party. I did not make too many changes to the adventure as originally written. I made some of the monsters tougher given that the heroes were 4-5 level and I ad-libbed some changes to match the mood. Below is a Session report of how it went.

Daen is poisoned by a Giant spider

Session 19: Trouble in Cowfold

Players: Lakima (Magic-user), Eathwund (Fighter), Carric (Elf Thief), Daen (Dwarf Fighter NPC).

The players have spent the night at the Rangers Steading in the forest. Another ranger stricken with lycanthropy returns to the compound that morning. The adventurers decide to put off going to the suspected stronghold of the Veiled Society and head back to Cowfold. Upon entering Cowfold they immediately notice that the Mayor’s house, the only stone building in the hamlet, has been completely destroyed. A thin shell of stone remains. Bits of wood debris is scattered all over the hamlet. They see a small crowd of locals is outside the ruin and a pair of men can be seen in the ruin apparently searching for survivors.

The Ruins of the Mayor's Home

The Innkeeper's wife Karina tells them that the people of the hamlet were awakened by a tremendous boom in the middle of the night. Then flaming debris pelted the houses in the village. They first put out the fires and then her husband and the blacksmith checked out the mayor’s house. They did not find any survivors but they did find a circular stair going down. They returned to their homes for the rest of the night. In the morning Karina discovered that her daughter Tamra was missing. Karina became certain that Tamra went down the stairs in the ruin so she told her husband. The Innkeeper Ethan and Nell the blacksmith went to the ruin to check.

As they stand and watch with the villagers there is a cry of pain from one of the men. Soon after they can see Nell struggling to drag an unconscious Ethan from the ruin. They see that Ethan is unconscious and has a large swollen mark on the back of his neck from a sting. Karina sends one of the villagers to get the local healer Cedric Morrient. Cedric and his wife Cara return and examine Ethan. Cedric tells them that Ethan is still alive but just barely. He smooths a poultice on Ethan’s neck while Cara holds his hand and chants a prayer at a whisper. Immediately they see the swelling go down and Ethan starts to breathe normally, although he does not regain consciousness.

The Blacksmith tells them that Ethan was standing beside him and called out and then fell. He did not see anything. Watching the Morrient's work on Ethan Lakima asks Cedric if he is a healer. Cedric says he knows a few old recipes that sometimes work. The adventurers tell Cedric about the lycanthropy curse that has befallen the Rangers. He is shocked, but recovers and tells them he will put together some supplies and head to the Rangers to help them as soon as they find Tamra. Lakima asks if Cedric can cure lycanthropy and he claims that he can. Then the adventurers tell Cedric that Daen and Carric both have lycanthropy but have not turned yet.

Cedric says that the ingredients for the potion are hard to come by. He can cure one of them today and the other tomorrow. If they agree to descend the stairs and look for Tamra. They agree. Cedric gives Carric a potion to drink that tastes like slightly sweet water. He checks his throat with his hand and Cara says a quiet prayer. Then he proclaims Carric healed and Carric does feel much better. Lakima watches closely and comes to the conclusion that the healing is actually being done by Cara's praying but he does not say anything.

Then the adventurers ready their gear and descend down the circular staircase. Daen estimates that the stair descends thirty feet below the village. The stonework is not dwarven or human. It almost appears that it was created with magic. Carric takes the lead but steps on a floor plate trigger in the first corridor they enter. The walls here are painted with mosaics of runes that disguise a stone block in the wall that slowly starts closing. Carric asks if they are in or out and they all decide to duck past the stone further into the dungeon. The dungeon is dark, except for the light cast by Lakima’s Continual Flame Staff. The corridor enters a room with a statue of a demon at the far end. Four doors enter the room, two of which are open. As they stand in the chamber they hear loud, demonic, laughter. A moment later a huge demon appears in a burst of flame. Lakima casts Mirror Image, Daen and Eathwund attack and miss. Carric makes his way to one of the doors. The demon moves to attack Lakima and misses one of the projected images. Then Eathwund slashes the demon with his sword and it vanishes. Lakima is not certain but he suggests it might have been a phantasmal force. Carric looks into the two rooms with open doors and sees a pile of rubble. Then he opens and swings wide the door to another chamber. A net above the door releases a number of cast iron pots and pans that bang to the floor harmlessly. This is another room full of rubble and he sees some partially eaten rats and a live rat that ducks into a hole. Carric checks out the demon statue but does not find anything of interest.

They decide to open the last door and they find another corridor and several doors. They turn back and go south and find a strange stone door with a large keyhole in the mouth of a gargoyle head. Carric tries to unlock it but cannot. Eathwund, who is at the back of the group, hears a tapping noise from the direction they checked earlier. They head over to investigate and discover the tapping is coming from behind one of the doors. But the door is locked and Carric is unable to open it. Daen chops at one of the doors twice with his ax but the door is ironbound and solid. They decide to head back to the room with the demon statue to check for a key. Lakima checks the statue and spots that the head can be rotated and removed. In the neck of the statue, he finds a pair of spell scrolls and a large iron key. They also check the rubble in the three rooms that adjoin the statue chamber and find a key ring with two keys, an unbroken jar containing rose petals, and a carefully hidden sack full of coins, other items, and a pair of keys that seem to fit on the key ring. They return to the stone door and Carric places the iron key in the lock and turns it. The door and the key vanish as if they were an illusion. But a short distance in front of them is another stone door. This one is round, there is a single keyhole in the center of the door.

They return to the locked door to the room the tapping noise was coming from. Eathwund takes the keyring and on the second try finds a key that works. He opens the door and they see the missing girl Tamra sitting motionless at a writing desk guarded by two enormous, humanoid skeletons armed with battleaxes. As soon as they step into the chamber the skeletons attack. Daen is struck once but they manage to destroy both skeletons, Eathwund with his mace, Daen using his war hammer, and Carric using a sling they just found. When the last skeleton falls they find a large, wooden key in its chest.

The key is cut in the same pattern as the large, iron key. Lakima looks at Tamra closely and sees that she is breathing but her eyes are not moving or blinking. On the table in front of her is a family journal. Lakima tells Eathwund that he needs to kiss Tamra to awaken her. Eathwund is uncertain and instead first picks up Tamra’s hand. The young woman immediately snaps out of her trance and asks, “Where am I”? They explain to Tamra where she is, and she tells them that she went to investigate the ruin early in the morning before her parents were awake because she was worried about her “friend” Roland Sammus the mayor. The journal is that of Roland and his ancestors. In the journal, they find a loose parchment with the word “kizzimic” written on it. Tamra reads a few passages and learns that Roland was in love with her and wanted to marry her and take her away somewhere. But first, he needed to banish his demonic familiar. She also finds earlier passages written by Roland’s father, Elzid. The passages suggest his father was completely evil. Roland also seems to have done some questionable things. Tamra tells them that she had no idea Roland was a magic-user. She does know he knew a few things about alchemy and he promised to make her an enchanting perfume. She gives the journal to Eathwund who puts it in Daen’s pack.

Tamra asks Eathwund to lead her out of the dungeon. She is concerned her parents will be looking for her. Eathwund tells her they are trapped in the dungeon behind a stone barrier. They will just have to find a way out. Carric uses the keys and unlocks another door. The chamber they enter has a summoning circle and a lectern facing it. A piece of parchment on the lectern appears to be an incantation for returning summoned creatures to their home plane.

Carric takes the wooden key and tries it on the round, stone door. The door and the key vanish just like on the previous door. But they see the passage is blocked by a third, diamond-shaped door with a keyhole in the center. There is also an inscription that reads, “Let he who would enter speak his name.” They head down the corridor to another wood door. It is locked and Carric is unable to open it. Daen strikes it with his ax and a cloud of soot bursts from behind the door. After a few more strikes he breaks open the door. The chamber beyond is a library destroyed by fire. Charred books and shelves are all that remain. But while searching the chamber, Carric discovers a secret door. They open the door and see a corridor leading to a chamber covered in spider webs. Daen lights a torch and throws it into the webs. The webs slowly start burning and they hear the sound of glass breaking. A few moments later, four spiders covered in burns drop to the floor and charge toward them. Daen bravely tries to hold the doorway but he is bitten twice by the spiders and he collapses.

The other three adventurers and Tamra back away from the spiders. Eathwund attacks and kills three of the spiders. Carric gets the other one. They check on Daen, but the dwarf is breathing his last breaths. He dies a few moments later. They pull Daen aside against the wall and remove some items from his pack. Eathwund makes a promise to Daen that he will return and carry him out of the dungeon as soon as they find the way out.

Lakima waves at Carric to follow him and the two do a careful search of the room full of webs. Carric finds a secret door but it is blocked from opening by rubble. Eathwund comes over and moves the rubble aside. The door opens enough to give Carric access. Beyond the door a chest sites in a small chamber. Carric picks the lock and yells out, “success” as the lock opens. Unfortunately, that cry of success is followed by a cry of pain as a burst of flame pours over the elven thief. He brushes himself off and opens the chest. Inside they find some treasure, including a wand and more spell scrolls and they find a large brass key in a familiar pattern. Lakima hands Carric a potion of healing which the elf drinks immediately.

When they return and try the brass key on the stone door it does turn but nothing happens. Lakima calls out “kizzimic” but nothing happens. Then Lakima asks Tamra for the name of the other wizard in the journal. She says, “You mean Elzid?” As she speaks that name the door and the key vanish. Beyond is a circular chamber. They are through the doors at last.

The three remaining heroes advance to the edge of the chamber and peer in while they motion Tamra back around a corner in the corridor. In the chamber they see five metal spheres floating four feet off the floor. On the wall are paintings of three fighters, a human, a dwarf, and an elf. They slowly enter the room and look around. As Lakima approaches one of the metal spheres he notes that they all have a seam about their middle. He reaches out and touches the metal sphere and the three paintings vanish. Three figures that look like the paintings appear before them and attack.

The elven warrior attacks Eathwund, the dwarf warrior attacks Lakima, and the human warrior attacks Carric. Eathwund is the first to hit one of the guardians. Dust pours from the wounds rather than blood. Carric manages to strike the human once, but then an imp appears in flying in the air behind him. Lakima turns and casts a lightning bolt bouncing down the corridor striking the unlucky imp. The imp is badly injured and flies into the chamber to attack Lakima and try to sting him. It succeeds in striking one of the mirror images.

After several rounds of combat Eathwund destroys the elf which collapses in a cloud of dust. The human fighter attacks Carric and hits him twice. Things look desperate for Carric but Eathwund arrives and helps dispatch the human. The dwarf attacks Lakima and his four remaining projections. The dwarf manages to dispel two of the projections and hit Lakima once before Carric and Eathwund help destroy the last guardian. Lakima hits the imp with his dagger and kills it.

Lakima opens one of the metal spheres and finds it is hollow. Inside is a parchment with the nonsense words “thossum” and “thissus” written on it. There is also a small pouch full of rubies. He speaks the words and the stone doors appear and then disappear again. The second sphere is opened and is found to hold several spell scrolls. The third sphere appears to hold only worthless copper coins. The fourth sphere holds four labeled potions. They open the final sphere and find an iron cobra lying inside. It attacks and bites Lakima. It makes a second attack and dispels his last mirror image. Lakima tells everyone to run and they quickly leave, closing the stone doors behind them.

Eathwund goes and picks up Daen’s body and they find Tamra and head to the exit. The stone is still blocking the exit but when Lakima shouts “thossum” the block begins to slowly move back open. They hurry past and up the staircase into the sunlight. Tamra races to her mother and the two embrace. Ethan has also recovered enough, that he is conscious and standing. Cedric and Carra come over and check on Daen. Cedric shakes his head and tells them it is too late for their dwarven friend. The heroes go to the Inn to settle in for the rest of the day. The villagers ask if they can help them dig a grave for Daen in the cemetery and ask what they want on the tombstone. Lakima also asks them to fill-in the spiral staircase into the ruin with rubble so no one else risks entering.

Fight in the Treasure Vault

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Glaive RPG Rules

 On a whim, I backed the Glaive kickstarter and got my reward a few weeks ago. It is a booklet sized physical produce coming in at 30 pages. Given that it is based on the Knave RPG it is actually a fair bit more detailed (my version of Knave is only 7 pages).

Glaive takes the Knave rules and mixes them with some old school D&D rules. The first change you notice is character creation is that the six attributes are just modifiers (+1 to +3 to start) with no Defence numbers like you have in Knave. The characters choose from 2 talents to start and can have as many as five in play. Talents are arranged by old school classes but they do not have to be chosen that way. You could choose the warrior’s Hack and Slash talent (roll of 18-20 you perform a stunt), and the magic-users’ spell-casting ability. You can gain more talents as you level but you can only have 5 at a time. You can actually drop talents to change it for a new one.

Hitpoints advance with level. You reroll your entire hit points at every level increase (they cannot go down). Hit points are d8 for everyone. Combat feels a lot like D&D. You have d6 initiative and roll a d20 + your ability modifier (Strength for melee) and hit if the roll is greater than or equal to the opponents AC. You can regain 1d6 hit points if you pause for a turn and eat rations. Almost like a computer game. I am not certain about this rule. Given the rules on encumbrance, you are limited in how many rations you can carry.

Character creation also has similar traits (personality, background, etc) to Knave. There are also a lot of random charts included for gear. Inventory is done like Knave with it based on Constitution and you have a set number of slots (10+ CON bonus).

In an interesting choice, magic spells are provided but they are not grouped by level. They are all level less but some scale depending on your level. They are also no healing or offensive spells. The rules note this is to prevent magic-users from being healing bots or artillery. But the rules also provide magic-users the ability to turn any spell into a burst of offensive magic that does damage based on level. Ohh, and the kicker is that each spell is in a single book and each takes up one inventory slot. So Mages need high CON. I can understand the reasoning here but I think I would prefer if it was intelligence-based. Maybe all the spellbook takes up 3 slots and the number of spells is based on intelligence.

The rules do not include monsters but OSR monsters can almost be used as written and the rules do provide an explanation of how to convert monsters or create your own.

I found the rules interesting, I do not like all of the choices but I am willing to give it a try. Since my online Swords & Wizardry game takes up most of my time I am not going to try running Glaive online at least not right now. That leaves playing Solo. I decided to use Mythic as the Solo engine since I have the Mythic cards and want to get them into more use.

The (Brief) Adventures of Brem Lonetree

Scene 1 Cold Start: Close Thread, Disrupt, Friendship.

Brem Lonetree is working as a mail carrier for the messenger guild. He works for a named Wilmar Finkel. Today he arrives in Greenvale but he is delivering the messages two days late because he got held up by snow. But he has often been late. This time Wilmar uses the contract to dock his pay. Rather than 20 crowns, he is paid only 12. In a rage, Brem curses Wilmar and vows to never work of him again.

Brem goes out and gets a room at the Wandering Minstrel Inn now that he has to leave the Messenger Guild Hall. It costs him 3 crowns for the room and a hot meal.

Is Brem disturbed during the evening? Unlikely. No.

Event: NPC Action, Malice, Dispute.

The next day Brem is minding his own business eating breakfast (down to 8 crowns now) when local tough Padon Bitsk enters the tavern and walks over to where Brem is eating. He leans over and spits in Brems porridge. Brem looks up startled. Podon chuckles and says that he was sent by Wilmar to collect him.

Brem thinks for a moment and then leaps to his feet and takes a swing at Podon. It is a swing and a miss. Podon (+1 to hit, AC 10, 6 HP) swings a punch at Brem striking him for 2 points of stunning damage. Brem takes another swing and misses again. Podon laughs and punches Brem in the stomach for 1 point of damage. Finally, with his anger boiling to the top, Brem strikes Podon right in the jaw as the other man is laughing. Podon goes out like a candle and crashes to the floor. The angry innkeeper Berstern Dobbs comes out of the kitchen and yells at Brem to stop fighting. Brem smiles and says the fight is all over. He gathers his gear and trudges out the door.

Scene 2 Expected Scene: Wilmar expecting to be offered a job by Wilmar. Interrupt. PC Negative, negligence/adversities.

Brem goes to the small hall that is the quarters for the Messenger Guild. It is empty except for Wilmar behind a table. Brem tells Wilmar that he got his message but he is not interested. Wilmar, raises his eyebrows, "Ohh, you have other plans then?" Brem shrugs. "Well forget it. You owe me money and I expect to collect". Brem is confused and argues. But Wilmar says that the Messenger guild was not paid by two clients because Brem was late. Wilmar informs him that he has been penalized for the 40 crowns. He asks Brem for the silver. Brem laughs but Wilmar shows him the penalty note on the contract. Since Brem cannot read he shrugs. He figures he can just walk away and there is not much Wilmar can do about it.

Wilmar further tells Brem there is a way for him to pay back the 40 crowns and get paid an additional 40 crowns. Brem leans in with interest. “What needs to be delivered?”

Wilmar tells Brem that they have a large delivery that needs to be made outside the town. It turns out the location is Zoquill's Tower. The wizard Zorquill’s tower is in the Thin Thorns forest, which can be dangerous. Brem knows that Wilmar is likely really desperate. He expresses concern at the danger and demands 60 crowns. They settle on 50 crowns.

Wilmar goes back to the locked stockroom and with much struggling drags a wooden crate into the room. Brem goes over and tries to lift the crate. It is heavier than a keg of beer. He goes to the stock room and grabs a sled to place it on.

Scene 3 Expected Scene: Brem delivers the crate to the wizard 5 miles away. As Expected.

Brem sets out immediately. It will be impossible to get to the wizard's tower and back while the sun is still up. At this time of year, there are only 10 hours of sunlight. So he sets out just as the sun is rising.

Does Brem encounter any difficulty passing through the Thin Thorns? Likely. Yes.

As he reaches the Thin Thorns he can just make out the tower of the wizard in the distance. Keeping the location in mind he trudges through the pines careful to avoid snowfalls. He hears some odd animal calls and realizes he is being followed. He maneuvers the sled into a protected position near some trees and ducks behind it and waits. After a few moments, a pair of Goblins carrying spears advance slowly out of the trees toward the sled. Just as they reach the sled, Brem leaps to his feet and attacks one with his spear. But the goblins are not surprised and attack as well. One spear cuts into Brem's arm. It throws off Brem's aim and he misses. As he steps back one Goblin stabs him in the side. Brem feels warm blood pouring down his side. He struggles to get away but the goblin's chop him down. Brem falls dead in the snow. The wizard will never get his crate of goods.

So that was a little disappointing. A drew up a little map (below) and everything for this solo adventure and poor Brem was killed in his first encounter. The combat was no more deadly than any other OSR game. But I rolled poorly for Brem and very well for the goblins. The encounter should have been of mild difficulty but it turns out Brem is a lousy fighter.

I will have to try something else using Glaive in the same setting.

Monday, 24 August 2020

The Werewolves Steading

 We added a third player to the group I have playing Swords & Wizardry Online. He rolled up an elven thief almost identical to the elven thief NPC I introduced last week so he decided to just use the NPC as he character. Another week spent wandering around in the Arkwood. As a GM I really enjoy these outdoor adventures. A good part of the time is just adlibbing are listening to the players coming up with plans. Then the plan goes wrong and they start planning again. It is a lot less stressful then Dungeon crawls.

Session 17: The Steading of the Werewolves

Players: Lakima (Magic-user), Eathwund (Fighter), Carric (Elf Thief), Daen (Dwarf Fighter NPC).

The players wake up well rested after spending the night in the Dryad’s grove. Daen, Lakima, and Eathwund are still affected by some wounds by the fight that occurred the day before. Lakima tells them that he has thought of a plan to lure the owlbear to attack the steading and hopefully reduce the number of rangers. 

First, they need to find the owlbear den. They head back to the animal trail where they saw the owlbear. Carric picks up the tracks of the owlbear and they follow it along on the trail. The tracks lead to a small clearing where they see the owlbear sleeping under an overhang created by a rocky hill. After a quick discussion, they realize that the owlbear den is too far from the steading for them to be able to lead the owlbear into the arms of the werewolves. So they decide to kill the owlbear.

Carric volunteers to approach the owlbear and attack it while it is sleeping. As the others wait nearby behind a log, He sneaks up quietly on the owlbear. Then he tries to stab it and misses. The Owlbear rolls over, lets out an angry squawk, and gets to its feet as Carric runs for his life toward the fallen tree the other characters have taken cover behind.

Daen and Eathwund run up and attack the owlbear before it can catch Carric. The two fight the creature and Carric circles around it to attack from behind. Daen is badly hit once but they manage to kill the owlbear. A quick search of its den reveals nothing of interest. Carric looks at the dead creature and says that he thinks the one he saw the night before was bigger and more grey-feathered than brown. Perhaps there are two owlbears in the woods.

With the owlbear taken care of, the heroes head across the forest to the clearing where the werewolves reside in the rangers steading. From the treeline, they can see that the steading is quiet. There is a single werewolf on guard atop the watchtower. Near the trees, they notice an area where the ground has been dug for what appears to be graves.

Carric suggests that he quietly scouts the steading by circling the buildings. The other three adventurers wait in the trees and keep an eye on the steading. Carric vanishes into the forest and moves around the steading. On the backside of the steading, he notes some arrow slits. He also surmises that the height of the buildings will afford him some cover from the watchtower. He moves across the open space and makes it to the cover of the building without being noticed. He then moves along the building and looks in one of the arrow slits. Inside he sees a great hall with a large table. Several werewolves are tearing into a deer carcass.

Outside in the forest, Daen, Lakima, and Eathwund note with alarm as three werewolves emerge from one of the buildings and head toward the exit of the stockade. Meanwhile, Carric moves on and looks in another arrow slit and sees a large werewolf whom he assumes is the pack leader. He heads back to meet up with the other adventurers. They all decide to follow the three werewolves as they head off into the forest.

The werewolves lead them down game trails until they stop and remove a rabbit from a snare. As they watch the werewolves seem to be arguing about something. Carric quickly moves up and attempts to stab one of the werewolves while they are distracted but he misses. Carric turns to run but all three werewolves fall on him from behind and drag him down. Eathwund and Daen pull the wolves off the unconscious elf. Lakima casts sleep and manages to knock out one of the werewolves. The other two werewolves keep fighting. Lakima, Daen, and Eathwund struggle to hit the rapidly moving werewolves as Carric lies bleeding on the ground. Lakima skirts the edge of the fight and gives Carric a healing potion saving the elf. Meanwhile, Daen and Eathwund finally manage to kill one of the werewolves. The last werewolf tries to escape but is cut down as it tries to run. After the battle, the werewolves turn back into dead humans.

It is getting on in the afternoon and their next plan involves poisoning the werewolves with wolfsbane, so they travel through the woods to the patch of wolfsbane that the dryad showed them earlier. They decide to camp near the wolfsbane patch figuring it is the best place in the woods to avoid werewolves. It is a cold camp that evening and watches are set. During Daen’s shift, he hears movement in the bushes and runs over to awaken everyone. Eathwund awakens to find a seven-foot-long centipede crawling towards him. He attacks slashing at the centipede and drives it off into the forest. Carric takes the last watch and there are no more interruptions to their sleep.

Over a cold breakfast, they discuss what to do. Carric is concerned that he has likely contracted lycanthropy which is deadly for elves (and also dwarves). They decide to observe the steading once more to see if the number of werewolves has been significantly reduced. They also coat several arrows and darts with wolfsbane. Again Carric moves up to the buildings from the treeline while the other three adventurers look on. They do see a werewolf in the tower but no other activity. Carric moves up to the first arrow slit and looks inside. A snarling werewolf face is looking out the arrow slit at him. The werewolf tries to claw at Carric but misses. Carric stabs at it but it withdraws its hand.  Carric moves quickly to the next arrow slit and looks in. He sees the wolf they think is the pack leader. Taking the opportunity he fires a poison-tipped arrow at the pack leader but misses. The pack leader lets out a howl of anger. Carric runs quickly into the forest. In the forest, Daen, Lakima, and Eathwund see two werewolves emerge from the building and leave the compound to the left. Then they hear a howl and two more werewolves emerge, and leave the compound to the right. The werewolf on top of the watchtower turns his attention to the back of the compound. They take this opportunity to enter the compound unseen through the open gates.

As they cross the compound, the door to the main building swings open and two werewolves emerge and attack them. One werewolf is struck with a poisoned dart and runs back into the building. The other is killed by Daen and Eathwund. The three adventurers head into the building and enter a long hallway. They move quickly to the end of the hall chasing the werewolf that ran away. The werewolf is overtaken and killed. The door at the end of the hall smashes open and the pack leader emerges. FIlling the entire hallway, it moves toward them yelling threats in a growling voice. Daen takes the brunt of the pack leader's attack as it bites into his shoulder. Daen is gravely wounded by the attack. Eathwund tries to stab at the werewolf overtop of Daen in the narrow space. Lakima hits the werewolf with a poisoned dart and it retreats into the chamber behind it. They follow it closely and Daen and Eathwund attack the pack leader, while Lakima holds at the door. The Pack Leader lets out a pair of loud howls. Down the hallway behind them, a door opens and two more werewolves emerge. Lakima moves into the room and prepares a spell. As the werewolves come around the corner, he casts Lightning Bolt and strikes both werewolves. They keep coming toward him but look gravely injured.

Meanwhile, out in the woods, Carric realizes that the werewolves are no longer tracking him. He carefully heads back toward the steading. As he approaches the steading he sees four werewolves heading back toward it at a run.

Back in the steading, Eathwund strikes the killing blow on the werewolf pack leader with his sword. The creature falls and reverts into a naked human corpse. The remaining two werewolves are briefly stunned. One stays and fights and is killed and one runs away. Daen, Eathwund, and Lakima take some time to search the chamber. Outside, Carric sees the four werewolves change into large wolves and turn direction to run into the forest. He heads for the steading entrance and surprises a werewolf killing it as it tries to flee. Entering the steading he finds his way to the other members of the party.

Searching the room where the pack leader was killed they find some locked drawers that they have to break open. Inside are a pair of unremarkable boots. Under a rug, they find a secret treasure trove under some loose floorboards. Bags of gold, silver, copper coins, and a pouch of diamonds. Carric goes out into the courtyard to bring a cart he saw around to the door so they can carry all of the loot. Eathwund, Daen, and Lakima search in other rooms but do not find any more werewolves. Daen and Lakima carry the loot they found out to the cart while Eathwund spends some time searching through the footlockers that belonged to the rangers. He finds a number of trinkets and some gold.

Daen and Lakima enter the smaller outbuilding and are confronted by a whimpering werewolf. But they also hear someone shouting for help. They find a naked man chained to the wall. The man introduces himself as Theric Vendel, the former leader of the rangers. Now that the pack leader is dead he has managed to change back to his human form (at least for now). He talks the remaining werewolf into changing as well. Theric explains what happened and then heads into the main building to get dressed. The heroes hastily attempt to move the cart full of the rangers treasure but Theric returns quickly and confronts them. He asks that they at least return half of the treasure. He is going to need it to rebuild the steading and recruit more rangers. He has pledged to protect these forests and this set back is not going to stop him. He does need to find a cure for lycanthropy.

Theric suggests they all stay the evening in the steading since it is getting late. They ask Theric about the Veiled Society stronghold they are looking for and he identifies it as an old elven watch post. He has never heard of the Veiled Society but he does know that smugglers are using the watch post. There are not many of them and they have done no harm locally so the rangers have not done anything about them. The four heroes settle in for the evening and lock place a barricade against the door in the barracks room where they are sleeping. Just in case.