Thursday, December 6, 2012

Iron Rations Part XIII

by Matt Borselli

The companions were standing at the side of a dusty road, looking at a crude wooden sign posted on a tree. The sign in part read "Hiroz want'b" with more script below and an arrow pointing to the left. Devon Ashwood scratched his head. Abel Artone just looked baffled. Apris stared intently at the sign. Aithne of Far Isle was watching the woods.

     Apris said, "I think I know what it says: Heroes Wanted."

     Abel interjected, "That's an arrow, pointing that way. I can read that much."

     Devon asked, "Is that a three or a five?"

     "A five, and I think that's gold. I think," said Apris.

     "Are we done here?" asked Aithne. "I don't trust these woods. I feel we're being watched. Besides, 5 gold isn't much," she finished.

     "Well, it's more than we have right now. I say we check it out,” said Abel. He wrenched the sign loose from the tree and he started walking, following the arrow's direction. The rest of the group followed him.

     "What if it's only three gold?" asked Devon.


     A series of signs lead them through the woods to a rough cabin made of old stone blocks and timber. It appeared that the cabin was built on the ruins of a tower, with one of the cabin walls made up of what remained of the tower wall. A raven and a songbird watched from a high pine tree.

     Abel loosened his sword in its sheath and muttered to himself, "I hope this is a serious job offer."

     Devon walked up to the door and hammered on it. Apris sat down on a large stone block next to Abel, resting her feet. The door remained closed, and Devon looked back at his friends. "Maybe nobody's ho-," he started to say as the door opened.

     A greasy old man, stooped with age and not smelling too good, stepped out. A scowl seemed permanently etched upon his face. "Well? What d'ya want?" he growled.

     Devon stepped back, not quite out of smell range and said, "Uh, well, uh. We saw that," pointing to the sign in Abel's hand.

     "Ah! Ye must be heroes! Yes!" a gap-toothed grin appeared and the old man motioned to the companions, "Come in, come in!"

     The interior of the cabin smelled of old fish and beans. A table with two chairs stood in the center of the room and a barred door was against the back wall, right next to a curtained area with an unmade bed beyond.

     The old man said, "I've got me a problem. I kin pay, if'n ya kin fix it for me." He hurried to a shelf and pulled down an old clay jar. He spilled the jar on the table and started counting out grimy coins, "1, 2, 3, .... Well, I think I have 'bout 5 geld here, in coppa and silva, if that's to yer likin'." He stopped and covered the coins with his hands and said, "But ye got to finish it, first. I'm not payin' up front!"

     Abel started to think this was a waste of time so he threw the sign down on the table and angrily asked, "What's your problem, Old Man?"

     "I've got somethin' livin' in me cellar. Kin ye handle it?" came the angry retort. "Or do ye get out?" The old man's eyes flashed fire!

     Devon stepped forward, holding up his hands. "Stay calm, everyone. Yes, we're here to help. What is it?"

     The old man grinned. "If I'da known that, I'da handled it meself! It's been makin' some noise fer some time. I don't like to go into the cellar no more." He went to the cellar door, removed the bar, and opened it. Taking a battered lantern down from a shelf, he lit it and held it out to Devon.

     "Thar's an old stone door at the bottom o' the stairs. I've ne'er open'd it but the noise is comin' from behind it. Ya suppose it'd be a Troll?" he said, pointing into the darkness.

     Devon and Aithne stuck their heads into the cellar and looked down the stairs. "Pretty rickety," thought Aithne. "I'm more likely to break my neck going down them than get hurt by whatever's there." Out loud she said, "Lead on, Devon. You have the light."

     Devon stepped into the cellar and slowly walked down the stairs. They swayed but did not break. The cellar was full of boxes and bales, tubs and barrels. Root vegetables hung from the ceiling and the smell was earthy. A large stone door was set in the far wall. Devon stepped up to it and listened, but didn't hear anything.

     Aithne, Abel and Apris followed him, but the old man didn't come down, instead watching from the top of the stairs.

     "Well," Abel said, pulling out his sword, "Let's go kill some beasties!" and the group marched through the door.

The Cabin and Dungeon

1. Cabin 
     The cabin is made of stone blocks and timber, with one whole wall part of the former tower. The inside is none too clean. A simple table with two chairs is in the center of the room. Behind a curtain is the old man's sleeping quarters. The walls are hung with lots of junk, shelves filled with old tools, rusted chains, jars with odds and ends. The old man's treasure consists of 5 gold, mostly copper and a few silver, in a clay jar. A barred stout wooden door leads down to the cellar.

2. Cellar 
     The cellar is original to the tower. Rickety wooden stairs lead down to a room with root vegetables and barrels of brackish water, weak ale and other stale foodstuffs, and broken furniture. A single stone door exits the cellar to the maze. The door is one-way into the maze.

3. The Maze 
     The door clicks ominously closed, locking the PCs in the maze. A bunch of passages lead off in different directions. The smell here is of deep earth with a faint touch of decay. At each location (A) is a dead (and devoured) adventurer. Mostly they are skeletons. Rooting about the body will result in:

     Roll 1d8
          1. 1d4 gold pieces
          2. A disease! GM's choice
          3. 1d4 silver pieces
          4. A broken weapon
          5. A useful piece of equipment. GM's choice
          6. A dagger
          7. A sword
          8. A broken lantern.

4. Ghoul! 
     A ghoul (hp 7) waits here, listening for the door to open. He'll follow the party for a while, looking for an opportunity to attack a lone PC.

Ghoul: AC: 6, HD: 2, Move: 90’ (30’), Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite, Damage: 1-3, all + special, Save As: Fighter 2, Morale: 9, Alignment: Chaotic.
     A successful attack by a ghoul will paralyze any creature of ogre-size or smaller (except elves) unless the victim saves versus Paralysis. The paralysis lasts 2-8 turns unless removed by a cure light wounds spell.

5. Open Cavern
     An open cavern. There are 2d6 giant rats (2 hp each) searching for food here. They will attack a lone PC but may not attack a large party. If the rats attack, the ghoul from location 4 will attack as well, hoping to get a tasty snack!

Giant Rat: AC: 7, HD: 1-4 hit points, Move: 120’ (40’), Attacks: 1 bite, Damage: 1-3 + disease, Save As: Fighter 1, Morale: 8, Alignment: Neutral.
     Anyone bitten by a giant rat has a 1 in 20 chance of being infected. This chance should be checked each time a rat successfully hits. The victim may still avoid the disease by making a saving throw vs. Poison. If failed, the victim will either die in d6 days or the victim will be sick in bed (unable to adventure) for one month. Roll 1d4: the disease is only deadly on a result of 1. The disease may be cured magically.

6. Ghoul Lair 
     This is the main Ghoul lair. The remaining two ghouls (hp 12, 6) are resting here. There is a wand of magic missiles (7 charges) in a pile of bones and about 62 gold pieces, in various denominations, scattered about. A crude secret door is against the back wall as an escape route if necessary.

7. Blessed Stone
     A gold inlaid piece of stone, blessed by some unknown holy god from the past, stretches across the tunnel here. The Ghouls cannot pass this holy area.

8. Exit 
     Exit to a small cave a fair distance from the cabin.


     The old stone door clicked shut and the cellar was plunged in darkness again. The old man stood at the top of the stair with a slight smile on his face. He waited a bit, then slowly closed the door and barred it again. Walking to a basin filled with water, he washed off his face, removing the thick makeup, then he slowly straightened up, stretching his arms and back. The wig went under the bed and so did the smelly clothes. The now much younger and taller man put on a blue robe and pointed hat, put the false teeth into his pocket and picked up a staff hidden by the curtains. Returning to the cellar door, he listened at it, then satisfied that no one was coming out of there, past the one-way door he had rigged, he calmly walked out the door, closing it silently behind him.

     Finding the abandoned hut was a stroke of luck and the ghouls there made for an excellent trap. Those few other adventurers that happened by were wonderful test subjects until his true quarry wandered in. His contact in Haldane would pay him well for finally getting rid of those meddlers.

     The raven landed on the man's shoulder as he left the cabin. The smiling wizard and his familiar quickly walked out of the clearing into the woods, with only the songbird left to see them go. Night fell and the songbird flew away.

1 comment:

  1. There is a part of me that wanted the rats to have exactly 2000 copper pieces. ;)

    I like this idea. It would seem that it would be best to insert it in a campaign that had seen legitimate peasant employers who could only pay a pittance.