Cabin Carnage


A number of hunter's cabins have been ransacked in the forest close to the town of Woodend. The Player Characters are about to discover the cause. This adventure is intended for a strong party of 3rd level characters.

Background:

In the areas of the forest close to the town of Woodend, within two days journey, are a number of log cabins used by fur trappers and hunters. Over the last few weeks two of these structures have been ransacked, both of them heavily damaged in the process, while a third was partly demolished. The identity of the assailants is unknown, with no tracks being found (they were magically removed via an Unseen Servant spell). Just before midday, the mystery of the attacks is solved when one of the trappers rushes into town. In the presence of the player characters he speaks:
"I seen em, I seen em ... the ones that be knocking down all our cabins! They're Orcs. Me dogs noticed them first. There was something wrong about them. They were not the same as the ones I seen before as prisoners - these ones were looking all sickly. Spooked the dogs and myself. I thought better than to fight em out there without any help."
The trapper, Rohan, can tell the PCs that he saw about five of the monsters. He noticed that they did not seem to have any weapons. They came staggering towards Greylock's Cabin, under a day's journey from town, whereupon he turned tail as they came closer.

Rohan the Trapper 0-level Human
AC: 10 or 6 (Chainmail Shirt) HD: 1 hp: 10 (con 17) THACO: 20 Attacks: 1 (Spear) or 3/2 (Bow) Damage: 1d6+1 (Spear, Str14) or 1d6 (Arrow) Mv: 12 Size: M Alignment: NG xp: NA
Equipment: Spear, Composite Short Bow, Arrows (8) in quiver, Hunting Knife, Fur Clothing and Boots, Satchel with rations, Waterskin.

Hunting Dogs (3) Jibber, Ox, Chak
AC: 7 HD: 1+1 hp: 8 THACO: 19 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4 (bite) Mv: 15 Alignment: N Size: S (3' long) xp: 35 

The cabin under attack is about half a day's journey away. It is just before midday and the journey time is 6 hours. With only five orcs, and not many hours til sundown, any other more experienced adventurers present will turn down this opportunity and encourage the PCs to "take all the glory for themselves."

Rohan the trapper, on the other hand, is more than willing to fight, along with his dogs, and will accompany the party, acting as a 'guide' unless forced to stand down by the PCs. If the party is very small (4 or less) Rohan insists on coming. Either way he goes and collects his prized chainmail shirt (granting AC 6), which he normally wears on militia duty. If told to stand down Rohan will follow behind the PCs at some distance with his dogs - rushing into battle at the first encounter after 3 rounds of combat. [DMs may bolster very small parties with Lana the Cleric who appears in another Woodend adventure. She could also appear as a random NPC if this adventure is placed in a location outside of Woodend.]

Journey to the Cabin in the Woods

Greylock's Cabin is 6 hours walking distance via hunting trails and is the closest forest cabin to the main settlement. It is also the last cabin targeted for ransacking. Apart from the force of 5 (zombie) Orcs currently occupying the cabin there is another group of monsters waiting in an ambush position 1 hour from the cabin.

After 5 hours journey on the trail the PCs find themselves walking through an open forest setting with just under knee high grasses on either side, scattered large trees, and dispersed shrubbery. Although the trail is narrow, affording single file travel, PCs stepping onto the grass are not significantly impeded if they do so - there are no combat penalties and only slightly hindered forward progress.

As the party continues they spot a short 3 foot pole (a crude spear) stuck into the middle of the trail - with a rolled up scroll tied to the top end. Rohan (if he is with the PCs, and in the lead) stops 100 yards short and mentions that this was not here in the morning. Another 10 yards distant is another pole sticking out of the ground without anything attached.

Ambush details: This ambush set up was devised by the necromancer responsible for controlling the Zombie Orcs. In the process of slaying these Orcs a band of Kobolds were freed from slavery and were promised additional wealth if they would help in completing a quest. They agreed.

The scroll tied to the first pole, which is a short stabbing spear, is blank. The second pole is simply another spear stuck into the ground. The idea is to create a mystery in order to cause party members to spread out along the trail at which point 40 Kobolds hiding in the long grasses will rush out from either side and attempt to surround individual opponents. Warrior types will attract a disproportionate amount of attackers. Isolated PCs should find themselves attacked from the front and rear. Kobolds attacking opponents from behind have a +2 to hit. One large tree borders the track in the ambush zone. PCs could back against this tree to prevent rear attacks if they cannot fight back to back with a comrade.

Kobold Bosses (2)
AC: 7 HD: 1-1 hp: 6 THACO: 20 (or 18 with +2 to bonus on rear attack) Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4 (Dagger) Mv: 6 Size: S (3' tall) Alignment: LE xp: 15
Equipment: Stabbing Spear, rag clothing.
*Infravision.

Kobold Warriors (38)
AC: 7 HD: 1/2 hp: 3 THACO: 20 (or 18 with +2 to bonus on rear attack) Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4 (Blunt Stabbing Spear) Mv: 6 Size: S (3' tall) Alignment: LE xp: 7
Equipment: Stabbing Spear, rag clothing.
*Infravision.
*-1 penalty to hit in bright light, not applicable here as the attack is in shadows with the sun very low in the sky.

Greylock's Cabin

As the last rays of sunlight slip away the party arrives at a small clearing in which the cabin is situated. There is no sign of the Orcs. If the party approaches the cabin, those looking inside through the open door, will see the shadowy figures of the Orcs standing motionless. If the party moves to within 30 feet of the door, makes noise or engages in missile fire, the Orcs attack. They come staggering forward, flailing out with their unnaturally strong arms acting like clubs. They look very sickly.

Zombie Orcs (5)
AC: 8 HD: 2 hp: 12 THACO: 19 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d8 (Fist) Mv: 6 Size: M Alignment: N xp: 65
*Immune to sleep, charm, hold, death magic, poisons, and cold-based spells.
*Always loses initiative.
*Holy water does 2d6 (THACO DRAGON rules).

Unlike the previous attacks there are clear signs of tracks leading back into the forest. However, seeing as the night has set in, Rohan (or the DM) strongly suggests the characters stay in the cabin since it is much more secure than camping out in the open. The cabin has heavy window shutters and a sturdy door that has a wooden sliding bolt lock. Rohan's dogs sleep on the floor.

Greylock's Cabin is constructed of wooden logs three inches across, with slightly thinner logs crossing the roof in an A-frame pattern that have been packed with layers of mud and straw. There is one doorway, three windows and a fireplace made from clay. There are 6 bunks. Upon the floor under the lower bunk opposite the fireplace is a dusty book - which can only be found if a search is conducted (see end of the adventure for details on the book).

[Two Squares = 5 feet.]
Under Siege

An hour after sundown dark humanoid figures emerge from the forest and converge on the cabin. Rohan's dogs, if present, sense danger and begin growling at the door. There are more than sixty zombies and they form a ring surrounding the cabin. The monsters are commanded by an Elven Necromancer Priest named Zurlek, who stands behind this screen with his two Ghoul minions and a Zombie Ogre. PCs looking outward will notice numerous dark shapes that have surrounded the cabin - in rows that are at least two deep.
Backstory: The Priest, Zurlek, who was formerly a wizard, is searching for a Book of Unholy Power that can bestow the ability of regeneration to those that research the contents. The book, stolen from a wizard's archive in a remote location, was temporarily hidden in a cabin located close to the town of Woodend. The exact location was never divulged.

Consequently Zurlek, who was not the original thief, prepared himself for an expedition into an unknown and presumably hostile region populated by humans and various types of humanoids. Having already acquired two Ghouls using one of his Unholy Powers, Zurlek then set about finding more undead to join him on his quest. Eventually he came across a large encampment of Orcs and their Kobold slaves. After studying the Orcs for some time a ruse was devised in which poisoned ale was left behind at the scene of a staged wagon accident. The Orcs, not realising the danger, were almost all rendered killed or incapacitated by the mixture. With less than a dozen remaining, the Ghouls and Zurlek, using spellcraft, made short work of the survivors.

After animating the Orcs, plus an Ogre - and having gained the allegiance of the Kobold slaves by granting them freedom and promising treasure - Zurlek soon commanded a small army. Over the last few weeks he has been searching the cabins of the forest, using the Unseen Servant spell to cover his tracks.
With the goal of recovering the Unholy Book so close, Zurlek has become impatient and is not prepared to negotiate with the occupants of the cabin. He will not respond to any attempts at communication from the characters. He immediately launches a series of attacks on the cabin. Three waves are sent forth with the Priest becoming more and more angry the longer there is resistance. Eventually he joins the battle himself. During the attacks on the cabin the DM should determine how congested the doorway becomes and describe Zombies tripping over their fallen kin in an effort to gain access to the characters.

The Order of Battle

The Zombies bash against closed doors and windows. The front door of the cabin, if bolted closed with the wooden slide, can sustain ten rounds of pounding before the wood fractures and the door comes apart. The wooden window shutters can only withstand 5 rounds of pounding.

When the Zombies enter the cabin they stop and fight so that no more than one is active in the doorway at one time. Space inside the cabin is limited and only short weapons, or spears from a second rank, may be used. The DM should have Zombies pushing from behind so that the one in front is pushed forward causing a second Zombie to occupy the front part of the cabin. The forward pushed Zombie can be struck by one PC directly opposite with +4 to hit and +4 to damage for that action, but thereafter is forced to fight with daggers in the confined area as the monster is squashed up against the character.

Missed attacks by Zombies inside the cabin have a 1 in 6 chance of smashing a bunk (that will collapse after 10 hp damage). Collapsed bunks offer up more fighting space, and the PCs may deliberately undertake this action (the DM may offer hints to wise PCs). If a second Zombie enters into the cabin the one in the rear goes berserk and starts smashing the bunks in an effort to engage the party.

PCs may also opt to fight just outside the cabin door, forming a curved (shield) wall, which would allow the front rank to wield long weapons. The DM should point out that fighting space inside the cabin will be a problem, but that the cabin is still a good refuge, albeit for a limited amount of time.

1st wave: 15 Zombie Orcs. Any that are turned by PC Priests/Clerics flee to Zurlek who regains command over them.

2nd wave: 20 Zombie Orcs plus any turned in the previous wave.

3rd wave: 25 Zombie Orcs PLUS the Zombie Ogre that is commanded to rip open the doorway and walls, and then Zurlek himself, after casting all his spells, with the two Ghouls.

During the last wave of zombie attacks, with the Zombie Ogre ripping open a wall, Zurlek casts Magic Missile (at the start of the attack), then Hold Person on the player characters (at distance as a wall is opened up), before casting his person enhancing spells and then entering the battle with the two Ghouls. He first casts Bless, then Barkskin (lasting 9 rounds), and then Striking before entering combat making his THACO 17, AC 4, and Damage 2d6+4. When under half hit points Zurlek will cast Withdraw and heal all his damage and cast Aid that will give a bonus 1d8 hp before re-entering the battle.

Zurlek is desperate to get his hands on the book after coming so far from his starting point and will not easily surrender if at all.

Monster list:

Zombie Orcs (60)
AC: 8 HD: 2 hp: 12 THACO: 19 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d8 (Fist) Mv: 6 Size: M Alignment: N xp: 65
*Immune to sleep, charm, hold, death magic, poisons, and cold-based spells.
*Always loses initiative.
*Holy water does 2d6 damage (THACO DRAGON rules).

Zombie Ogre (1)
AC: 8 HD: 5 hp: 44 THACO: 18 Attacks: 1 Damage: 4d6 Mv: 6 Size: L (8') Alignment N xp: 500
*Immune to sleep, charm, hold, death magic, poisons, and cold-based spells.
*Always loses initiative.
*Turned as 4HD.
*Holy water does 2d6 damage.

Ghouls (2) acting as bodyguard minions that gain +1 to each hit die when serving Zurlek.
AC: 6 HD: 2(+2) hp: 15/16 THACO: 19 Attacks: 3 Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6 (Claws+Paralysis + Bite) Mv: 9 S 6' tall Alignment: CE xp: 175
*Immune to sleep, charm, hold, death magic, poisons, and cold-based spells.
*Paralysis lasts for 3-8 (1d6+2) rounds
*Holy water does 2d6 damage

Zurlek 5th level Necromancer Priest/2nd level Wizard (Dual Class Elf)
AC: 9 (Dex 14) or 4 (Barkskin) HD: 5 hp: 25 THACO: 18 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d6+3 (Str14, two handed grip) or 2d6+4 (with Striking) Mv: 12 Alignment: LE xp: 750
Str 14 Wis 15 Int 15 Dex 14 Con 11 Cha 13
*90% resistant to Sleep and Charm.
*Immune to Ghoul Paralysis.
Languages: Elven, Orcish, Kobold, Goblin (does not speak the common tongue of this area).
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Herbalism (ingested poison specialist), Arcane Lore.

Equipment: Spiked Mace (1d6+1), Black Leather clothing, Holy Symbol, Small Satchel, Scroll Case, Waterskin, 120pp/3gp/12sp. Spellbook: Unseen Servant, Magic Missile, Identify. Scroll: Raise Dead.

Spells:
(Priest 5/5/1) Create Water, Barkskin, Cure Light Wounds(2), Darkness / Withdraw (lasting 7 rounds to heal), Warp Wood, Produce Flame, Hold Person, Aid / Striking (or Animate Dead).
(Wizard 2/0): Magic Missile, Unseen Servant.

Priestly Powers: Control Undead, cast Bless (2/day), convert memorised spells to healing at 1d3 per spell level.
Cantrips: 16 (Flame Dart Damage 1d2, THACO 18, range of dagger)
Unholy Powers: Summon Undead Minions (Ghouls), control double the number of Undead allowed by the Animate Dead spell (see THACO DRAGON rules), able to see through the eyes of animated corpses under his control (only one at a time).
Unholy weakness: Holy water causes 2d4 damage, sunlight causes a -1 penalty to combat, cannot enter holy ground or else loses half points on physical attributes (Str, Dex, Con).

The Book

The Book of Unholy Power is an evil device, unusable by good or neutral characters, granting the power of regeneration (as a troll) to those that successfully undergo the ritual described in the pages. The book can only be destroyed by 10hp of magical fire, otherwise torn or damaged pages reform.

Resolution

If the characters find the book and destroy it they receive bonus of 200xp each. If the book is not found it is eventually discovered by a fur trapper more than a year later and is handed to Mrs Kraty of Woodend, who runs a soup kitchen. She is secretly an alchemist and the book will be located in her cellar with other items of interest.

Note: The details for the spell Striking can be found on the THACO DRAGON homepage.
    

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