Saturday, 26th May, 2012, 04:26 PM #81
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- New York City
ø Ignore Nifft
- EN World
- has no influence
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Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
- Southern CT
ø Ignore ender_wiggin
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Sorry, I got called away. Will post ingredients directly
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
- Southern CT
ø Ignore ender_wiggin
gl hf steeldragons.
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
- Duvall, WA
ø Ignore Shoe
If a match starts up tuesday or after I am ready!
Shoebox-Games.com a Game design blog.
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
Yeah gl to both of you :-)
Tuesday or after would work for me.
My Story Hour campaigns. What are they up to this week?
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
- Hampton, VA
ø Ignore Deuce Traveler
Round 1: Deuce Traveler vs Rune
Name: Danse Macabre
Author: Deuce Traveler
Game Engine: Meant for DnD 3.5 or Pathfinder
Tattered Rug: The rug is an ancient artifact necessary for summoning dance rituals of the undead and belongs to the Watchful Eyes over Zargon. It is currently being used by the baker as a rug in his room.
Pitiful Baker: He and some fellow brigands murdered the cleric and his acolytes in their sleep. The mining town of Lago is too small for a dedicated inn, so the baker has created lodgings in the giant downstairs cellar.
Itinerant Cleric: Was supposed to complete the Gothic Reunion ritual. Was placed in baker’s stew meant for sheriff’s hounds. Hand is all that is left.
Cheerful Cellar: Downstairs lodging area where parties are held in Largo. Cleric’s group was killed in adjoining rooms.
Maimed Hand of Vengeance: A hand from the cleric’s body which animated and escaped the pitiful baker’s grinders. Seeks revenge on the town.
Gothic Reunion: The name of the Watchful Eyes ceremonial Danse Macabre.
The party is approached by the Watchful Eyes over Zargon. It seems that an Itinerant Cleric, his acolytes, and their tattered rug artifact that they traveled with had all been lost while traveling for a mission outside of the distant mining town of Lago. The contact explains that the cleric was to use the artifact to complete an important ceremony during the night of the new moon in the cemetery of an abandoned monastery outside of Lago, and that a failure to do so will spell disaster for the people of Lago and the surrounding area. He will pay the party to ensure that the ceremony is completed. Bonus pay will be offered for the return of the tattered rug artifact, the saving of Lago, and the safe return of the cleric and his four acolytes.
A moderate Religion check reveals that the Watchful Eyes of Zargon is a legal religious order, historically distrusted because of its members’ tendency to dance in graveyards and their frequent communions with the dead.
A hard Religion check will also reveal that the members are dedicated, though few in numbers. Zargon is a soul-swallowing deity of abominations and evil spirits. The Watchful Eyes are not worshippers of Zargon, but instead are dedicated to stopping his corruption and his attempted return through the use of the dead.
The PCs should arrive at the town of Lago two calendar days before the night of the new moon. Of course the PCs may find a clever way to arrive earlier. It should be noted that many in the town of Lago will radiate as evil, such as the sheriff and his six deputies, the pitiful baker along with his son and two barmaids, and the owner of the general store. Being evil is not a crime, and the party should realize that these are the town leaders and pass for the law in the area. The town leaders are actually brigands that took over years ago, and the few decent people who resisted were made examples, along with their families. A moderate Sense Motive check will tell the party that the townsfolk are eager to be done with any conversation and are choosing their words very carefully. The other townsfolk live in fear of the brigands and will be wary of what they tell the adventurers.
The sheriff and deputies would like to speak with the characters, but the exhausted, pitiful baker is eager to approach them first, to the chagrin of the sheriff. The baker wants to sell his poorly made meat pies, and offers the group rooms at his downstairs establishment, the Cheerful Cellar, where he makes his pies and bread. He admits being a lousy salesman and being desperate for coin.
Everyone in town will claim that they have not seen the iterant cleric’s group, though a moderate Sense Motive check will show that this is a lie. The sheriff and his deputies are very much on edge and insistent that the party move on and investigate elsewhere.
There are other indications that something in the town is not right. A moderate Knowledge Ride or Handle Animal or Nature check on the sheriff’s horses reveals that some of the horses are not native to the area, and instead seem to come from a number of places (they are from previously murdered travelers).
A moderate appraise or craft check will show that some of the goods being sold at the general store are second hand goods with labels and other identifying marks removed. A few also seem a bit expensive for such a backwater town (also from previous travelers). A moderate religion check will allow a character to notice the iterant cleric’s holy symbol on sale as cheap jewelry.
If any of the PCs eats a meat pie from the pitiful baker while in public they should make a moderate Perception check. A successful roll results in the PC noticing a handful of townsfolk stopping to watch. A further successful moderate Sense Motive check will reveal that the watching townsfolk are attempting to conceal expressions of horror. An examination of the meat pies will reveal nothing unusual.
If for any reason the party brings accusations of criminality to the sheriff along with solid evidence, he will arrest the suspect in lieu of a trial (that will never occur) and thank the party. Then he makes plans with the other former brigands to kill off the heroes before they can discover more about the town. If the party tries to take justice into their own hands, the sheriff will intervene if able and remind the heroes that there is a legal system and vigilantism is a punishable offense.
If the heroes stay at the Cheerful Cellar inn, they are welcomed by the pitiful baker and his son. Although the heroes are the only guests, there is a festive atmosphere as the baker and son bring a timid minstrel to play music for them, and the two men ply the group with heavily discounted ale, give free food and ask the heroes to tell tales of their bravery. Their two luscious barmaids flirt heavily and dance for those in the group who show interest, also challenging them to down drink. If the party focuses on the minstrel and makes a hard Perception check, they will notice that he seems scared and misses a few notes. If there is a bard in the group, he may make a moderate local or nobility check to recognize that the protagonist of the bard’s songs, Lord Magoo, is an elderly aristocrat who is often oblivious of the danger and dastardly nature of those around him and only seems to survive his encounters through luck. When the festivities are over, the group is offered single rooms with small, comfortable beds adjacent to the Cheerful Cellar.
The Cheerful Cellar inn and its adjoining rooms have been reconstructed to include secret passages which can be found with moderate Perception checks against the walls. The upstairs section of the building is where the baker and his son sleep, as well as the store front for his goods which rarely sell. The pitiful baker has been unable to get any of the townsfolk to purchase his foods as they wrongly suspect he has turned travelers into meat pies, nor will they go to his cellar inn for drink. In actuality, the baker has been turning his victims into dog food and feeding them to the sheriff’s large hounds in order to destroy evidence of their prior presence. The baker is unaware that one of the chopped pieces of the itinerant cleric (the maimed remnants of a hand) became animated and escaped his grinder in order to enact vengeance, due to Zargon’s growing influence enhanced by the town’s recent murders.
The tired, impoverished baker has been killing off travelers more frequently, and selling their gear off through the black market run by the general store clerk in an attempt to make coin. He plans to murder and rob the party, but first decides to take a quick nap and asks one of his accomplices to wake him late at night when their guests will be in deep sleep.
If the party catches and threatens a former brigand without interference from the brigand’s allies, the truth about the town and the ultimate grim fate of the cleric, his acolytes and previous travelers will come to light. The sheriff has the iterant cleric’s horses, the baker has the tattered rug, and the general store owner has a religious tome and other goods. The brigands have been on edge, as three of their number have recently been found strangled in their sleep and the pitiful baker is having nightmares and has been hearing strange noises outside his bedroom door at night, but the exhausted man can’t find the cause.
During the first night that the party arrives, the pitiful baker is strangled to death, causing one of his murderous barmaids to scream when she goes to wake him and finds his body. The general store owner is also found murdered. If the party was suspicious and decided to stake out the outside of the general store or baker’s store/inn, a hard Perception check would allow them to notice a small crawling hand unlock and enter each of the respective bedrooms from the outside, and then leap out to land into nearby brush and disappear. If the PCs investigate the bedrooms, they will find the tattered rug on the floor in the baker’s bedroom and the religious tome on a table next to the general store owner’s bed. If the baker or general store owner are in prison, the Maimed Hand of Vengeance will go through the bars and kill them there instead.
At this point the sheriff will continue to declare innocence, though he will allow the party to continue their investigation as he fears for his own life and hopes the party might stop the Maimed Hand of Vengeance from killing again. The religious tome details instructions on the danse macabre called the Gothic Reunion, a cemetery summoning causing the restless dead to rise at the command of the dancer. Zargon finds locations where evil men have been buried en masse or innocents brutally murdered. The restlessness of such souls draws him, allowing him to claim such spirits as his own to feast upon and their bodies to control. Zargon uses the dead to kill others, which grows his influence in the hopes of laying claim to the world. The Gothic Reunion siphons his influence from the bodies of the dead, until it is exhausted, rendering the dead inert and Zargon’s tether broken. The tattered rug is used as the summoner’s focus and must be brought to the center of the cemetery. It weighs over a hundred pounds and is seven feet long when rolled up, so one person cannot carry it a significant distance because of its bulk. The cemetery is an hour’s walk from Lago.
A massive battle occurred centuries ago where thousands of soldiers from the evil and forgotten Lunien Empire were trapped and slaughtered. A group of well meaning monks buried the thousands of dead and built a monastery here. Once at the cemetery, the characters will find that some of the skeletal dead have risen thanks to Zargon’s influence. There are a handful of armored skeletal warriors wielding rusting weapons as well as an armored knight on skeletal horseback, making for a hard encounter.
Once the threat is dealt with, the character who will be performing the summoning ritual needs to unfurl the tattered rug in the middle of the cemetery (general approximation is necessary), strip down and paint himself as a skeleton to fool the undead (unnecessary, but kept in the tome for rituals sake), and attempt to perform the Gothic Reunion with a successful Hard Perform check. Failure results in Zargon expending some of his power to send another moderately difficult wave of skeletal undead at the party, but the party can try again. Success results in the unusual sight of all the nearby dead rising from their graves and mimicking the summoner’s dance for ten minutes. After these ten minutes, Zargon’s influence will be broken and the exhausted dead will lay back down to rest in peace. The Maimed Hand of Vengeance won’t kill again.
The sheriff and his men will be waiting in ambush for the party outside of the cemetery. The party has seen too much and cannot be allowed to escape. A hard battle should ensue, but if the party is victorious the remaining brigands will flee and the cowardly townsfolk will welcome them as saviors and regale them with tales of the brigand’s wickedness.
The party could be delayed in a number of ways from solving the quest in time. If so, the army of the dead will rise and descend upon Lago, indiscriminately attacking civilians, heroes and brigands while the hand continues to kill those asleep.
Round 1, Match 1: Rune vs. Deuce Traveler
The Maimed Hand of Vengeance
Vengeance and Pity
Using This Adventure:
This adventure is designed for use with D&D 4th edition rules and specifically makes use of the Monster Vault, but is intended to be very close to system neutral. It should be challenging for a party of low level (3-5, or so). It is possible to run this adventure without any combat, but the potential exists for quite a bit of it.
This adventure further assumes the use of the “Points of Light” setting implied in the 4th edition, but should be easily transportable to any frontier location—particularly if that setting includes either a collapsed empire, or such an empire in decline.
The PCs are asked by a cleric of Erathis to prevent an impending reunification of a barbarian tribe. The barbarians intend to take back the lost members of their tribe and to reclaim a scion lost to them, by force, if necessary. At the center of it all, a moral man has his own agenda...
If the PCs have any business in the frontier or wilderness, it should be simple for them to come across an itinerant cleric of Erathis named Pax Erath, or to hear rumors that he desperately seeks adventurers to aid him in a matter of pressing importance—and will reward them accordingly for seeking him out.
Alternatively, if the PCs find themselves in a temple of Erathis (not unlikely on the Frontier!), they could be asked to seek out one of their wandering ministers, from whom they have received word of a vital mission which cannot be undertaken alone. Thus far, none of the clerics sent to aid him have been able to do so.
The DM is encouraged to use this as a further hook—the reason could be as simple as this: Pax is in dangerous territory, and the barbaric tribes of the area may have driven off or killed the clerics of Erathis, ere they could succeed in finding him.
Pax's work has taken him well into the wilderness beyond the Frontier. With a little legwork, the PCs should find him with no problems—Nature, Perception, and Streetwise (for tracking down and sifting through rumors in the towns he has traveled through) should all be useful in the search.
Along the way, the PCs may encounter beasts of the wilderness (see “Appendix: Animals” in the Monster Vault, pages 296-304), as well as small war-bands of barbaric orcs (MV 224-229) of the Goth tribe, from whom the PCs may learn that some great battle is imminent.
Once the PCs find Pax, he will begin to explain things (preferably through conversation):
- Decades ago, a tribe of barbaric orcs (the Goths) allowed Pax to travel with them as a missionary in exchange for his services as a healer.
- Pax wed the tribe's spiritual leader to a civilized (human) woman and a wondrous thing happened (praise Erathis!). A goodly number of the Goths split from their tribe and settled down to start a new civilization of their own!
- Pax has recently learned that the Goths are on the move again and intend to sweep down upon their former brethren and reunify them. This must not happen!
If the PCs will help him to stop this barbaric reunion, they will have his friendship and, once he has returned to Temple, wealth worthy of such action (which should be reasonably generous for the PCs' level). To do this, Pax believes they will first need to seek out the spiritual leader around whom the whole rift was centered.
Unless they have a more important use for him, Pax will accompany the PCs; his faith demands that he help others. Pax is a level 6ish Cleric, but will spend most of his time either healing or aiding the actions of others and, so, need not be fully fleshed out.
The city, such as it is, was an outpost of the Empire of Nerath, sacked long ago by the Goths of the day. It is now home to a handful of former Goths, who renamed it New Erath. It is a vast landscape of towering ornate architecture, impressive in its grandeur, but now decayed and lonely—hollow.
Pax can lead the PCs to their destination if he is with them, or can give them sufficient instruction to find it themselves. It is...a bakery.
Within this bakery within the looming city of gloom, a one-handed orc whistles cheerfully as he works. He is immediately friendly and will readily welcome the PCs to stay for some of his fresh-baked delights (“Food is Love!” he enthusiastically tells them in common—with only the slightest hint of an orcish accent) before ushering them to a more comfortable locale...
“Welcome my cellar! I give of it cheerfully!” The cellar was sanctified by Pax many years ago and serves as a shelter from the gloom, above. It is brightly lit and cozy. Anyone taking refuge here for even a few minutes will be fully refreshed (hit points and healing surges, as if from an extended rest). Furthermore, any baked goods produced from the stores here (including those the PCs may already have consumed) will act as healing potions for the few days that they remain good.
Unless he thinks the PCs a threat to his community, the baker will be perfectly willing to impart any information regarding his background and that of the Goths.
- His name, now, is Confrere, though once he wore a more dire moniker—The Hand of Vengeance.
- The Hand of Vengeance is a position that one Goth per generation is reincarnated into. The Hand is a spiritual leader of the Goths.
- If asked why he has only one hand, he will soberly say, “Is it not better, then, to cut off thine own hand, than to use it in base vengeance?” Pax, if present, nods at this; he is familiar with the scripture.
- If asked what reason he has for vengeance, Confrere will fall silent, but Pax will answer: “Alas, the Goths slew his wife shortly after the wedding and consumed her body with flames, such that it could never be raised. Confrere may not have the heart for vengeance, but if ever a man had the cause, it is he.”
- When (and if) Pax informs Confrere that he believes the Goths are coming to undo all of Pax's accomplishments (and, oh, by the way, also kill Confrere), Confrere only smiles and says, “It is about time.”
- If asked what he intends to do to exact vengeance for his wife's death (by Pax, if not the PCs), Confrere responds, “I cannot. I am filled with pity for them; they are lost, no place of solace, no vision of a higher path. There way is violence and vengeance, but there is a better way. Compassion is the way—and this, I will show them.” The baker is confident and self-possessed, but is, indeed, pitiful—in the most fundamental meaning of the word.
It is his plan to invite the Goth Chieftain into this very cellar and show him hospitality, warmth, and love—in other words, civilization. He seeks to heal the rift.
To Pax, this is folly. Not only is it likely to result in Confrere's death, the political ramifications of a reunited Goth people are dire, particularly for his church. On this matter, Pax and Confrere will not agree.
At this point, the PCs have a choice to make that will determine the course of events to come.
- They could assist Pax by disrupting the convergence of Goths through force. They will encounter war-bands consisting of orcs as described in the “Wandering” section, above. There are a total of roughly 100 Goths comprising these war-bands; if the PCs are not careful, they could easily be overwhelmed and would be wise to proceed cautiously. If they need to retreat, Confrere will let them regroup in his cellar, but he does not condone their course of action and will attempt to persuade them to change their minds at every opportunity.
- If the PCs wish to aid Confrere in his plan, he will ask them to parlay with the Goth Chieftain and convince him to attend Confrere's planned summit. To do this, Confrere hands them a very worn, tattered bear-skin rug. “This,” he tells them, “was once a symbol of my station as The Hand of Vengeance. I gifted it to my wife on our wedding day—a symbol of my new life with her; it is all I have left of her, now. You must take it. Present it to the Chieftain and he will know you speak for me.”
In this event, Pax will storm out in disgust. From this point on, he will do whatever he can to stop the PCs from parlaying with the Chieftain. He is no combatant, but has no qualms about setting others (the denizens of New Erath, or possibly even the Goths) against the PCs to achieve his goal.
- The PCs could seek out the Goth Chieftain on their own, and attempt to persuade him to alter his plans. This would be difficult, but not impossible. The Chieftain wants two things: to absorb the lost Goths back into the tribe and to either reclaim The Hand of Vengeance, or kill him so that another may be born. He will only be convinced to turn away if he believes the PCs can help bring these changes about in the near future.
- The PCs might ally themselves with the Chieftain and participate in the annexation of the ex-Goths, or even the assassination of the current Hand of Vengeance. This course of action would gain them powerful allies in the region, but would also gain them the eternal enmity of the Church of Erathis.
If the Goths are repelled through violence, they will one day rise in numbers and attack again. Eventually, The Maimed Hand of Vengeance will die and a new Hand of Vengeance will be born, will mature, and will lead the Goths to great acts of butchery. Success in this course of action would be a short-term victory for the faithful of Erathis, but would present a host of long-term problems.
Should the summit come to pass, the PCs' choices may cause it to unfold in different ways. The Chieftain is an elite version of the Orc Pummeler (Monster Vault 228, double the HP and XP value, give it an action point, and +2 to saves) who will come with a handful of bodyguards—Orc Rampagers (MV 228).
If the PCs are not present, the Chieftain will grow increasingly impatient with Confrere's hospitality—which he views as weakness. Failing to convince Confrere to reclaim his duty as The Hand of Vengeance, he kills The Maimed Hand, so a new Hand of Vengeance may be born. After this, it is a simple matter to welcome the lost Goths back into the fold with open arms (and chains).
If the PCs are present, they might be able to intimidate the Goths into peacefully enduring Confrere's generosity. During this time, Confrere will break bread with his guests and will show them naught but compassion—killing them with kindness, as the saying goes.
If the PCs are not able to outright prevent the Goths from attacking during this summit, their presence will at least turn the odds. Once the Goths see that they cannot best the PCs, they will settle down.
The Chieftain is not likely to be won over in a single sitting, but the way might be paved for future progress. Eventually, a civilized reunion of the Gothic peoples may be possible. Although the short-term gain of this course of action might not be evident to most, the long-term gains would be immense. The PCs, of course, would have allies in the folk of New Erath and might eventually share goodwill with the Goths, as well. Pax, however, will ever be their enemy.
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