Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Short Adventure 27: Burning Hatred

A September ofShort Adventures is an OSR Challenge initiated by Matt over atthe Asshat Paladins blog. You can click on the Moustache Dragon overon the right-hand side-bar (just above Features) to learn more aboutall of this stuff from Matt directly. All of our 25 (possiblymore...) entries are formatted along the lines of what Matt calls theGet Ready, Get Set, Go! format. In a nut-shell, thisapproach breaks each adventure into a Title, Three escalatingsections of adventure details (the Ready section is limited to anelevator pitch only 2 sentences...), and a final catch-all sectionfor any NPC notes/stats. The idea is to keep it short, simple, easyto read without any maps, drawings, diagrams or 8X10 glossies. Keepdescription to a minimum, avoid lengthy exposition, and no casts ofthousands -- unless it's an invading horde of three-eyed orcs orgoblins riding purple wombats.

We're also goingto aim to keep things generic, setting agnostic and thus portable oradaptable to any campaign/setting using the particular rules-setwe'll be using in any given September Short Adventure such as MutantFuture, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry (WhiteBox), etc.

LabyrinthLord: http://www.goblinoidgames.com/labyrinthlord.html
Mutant Future:http://www.goblinoidgames.com/mutantfuture.html
Swords andWizardry (White Box):http://www.swordsandwizardry.com/whitebox.htm
SeptemberShort Adventure Number 27
Title: BurningHatred
Rules: Swordsand Wizardry (White Box)

There is smoke upahead. Something is burning.

A small caravanof gaudily-painted wagons has been attacked. Two of the wagons are infull blaze, there is a chance that the third one might be saved ifsomeone were to help the mountain nomads instead of just watching orriding past.

The next Therioclast patrol will be along in 1d4 hours. They will assume the worst if they spot the PCs consorting with the nomads.

The nomads will want to get off of the road and make camp in the woods along a trail that only they can find easily. At least one of them has blood-ties to the dryads and will be able to negotiate passage through the woods that will close-up behind the nomads, making it extremely difficult for the Therioclasts to follow them.

Thesepeople were not attacked by bandits. They ran afoul of theTherioclasts. The nomads are rumored to have ties to various abhumanand nonhuman beings, including a few different varieties ofshape-shifters, lycanthropes and the like, all of whom they hide fromthe Therioclasts.

Aidingthe mountain nomads will incur the suspicion and potentially thewrath of the Therioclasts.

Itcan also expose the Player Characters to whomever the mountain nomads are hiding intheir wagon. Like the runaway flesh golem seeking to escape from HerrDoktor Morbius from Short Adventure 21: A Pound of Flesh. There might even be some loot in the wagons from the heist that took place in Short Adventure 22: Art Thieves, if you want to make things even more complicated.

Thereare doppelgangers among the mountain nomads. They will stay back andwatch the PCs carefully in order to decide if they want totry to ambush the Player Characters and impersonate them in laying a trap for the Therioclasts or not. The nomads and theirdoppelganger kin desire revenge on the Therioclast fanatics, but theyknow better than to attempt to stand up to the troopers openly. Not yet. Theywill opt for misdirection, subtlety, and just mislead the PCs intohelping them, rewarding them with lots of strong liquor and strikingin their sleep...or not. The doppelgangers could use some allies, butthey will settle for dupes, if it looks like they can accomplish something useful without having to outright attack the PCs. They might consider trading some spells, or helping out with magical healing in exchange for various 'small errands' or favors. They are also very skilled in themanufacture of potions, folk remedies and aphrodisiacs...as well asvarious potent toxins and poisons. It might be possible to buy or acquire some potions, but the nomads will deny any knowledge of poisons and never sell such things to an outsider.

If the Player Characters attack the mountain nomads, or just ride on and leave them to fend for themselves, the worgs in the woods will make note of this and remember it for a long, long time. The nomads will mark them as unfriendly and may well ambush the PCs at a later date, or just notify their friends among the local bandits all about the PCs so as to make it easier for the bandits to find them. They might also send the flesh golem after the PCs if they are particularly hurtful to them. And if the PCs are really in a foul mood and attack the nomads, the worgs will come to their assistance.

Doing so will impress the Therioclasts (+1 on Reaction Rolls for 1 month).

Shouldthe Player Characters stop and attempt to help the nomads, the nomadswill be thankful and offer them the hospitality of their camp thatnight, such as it will be with two-thirds of their possessionsdestroyed. They will quickly have plenty of meat for the fire,provided by the worgs out in the woods – this being something thatone of the Player Characters might inadvertently witness.

ThePlayer Characters could earn the trust of the nomads, but itwould take a lot of doing, and in the end it is not likely to workout very well as the nomads are increasingly being targeted by theTherioclasts and things are getting uglier each week that goes by. APlayer Character might become enamored of a particular nomad, andthere could even be a bit of a liaison possible for some members ofthe party, depending on circumstance, but the nomads will eventuallymove on and the PCs are unlikely to be able to follow. This couldlead to any number of romantic, or personal entanglements. There arerumors that the nomads consider it lucky for one of their females tobear the child of a proven warrior or particularly giftedspell-caster...but what is less well known and even less spoken aboutis that a nomad male will know if a female he has been with hasconceived. The nomad male will then do everything in their power tomake sure that the child is raised among the nomads, includingkidnapping the mother or abducting the child. Sometimes they willleave a changeling in its place. There are all sorts of possibilities along these lines. (One of the Player Characters could even be a Changeling or possibly a long-lost child whose real father who was a nomad was killed so that they wound up raised among the villagers...but that gets really cliche and trite unless you find a way to put a fresh spin on it. Good luck with that.)

Becominga true friend of the nomads is possible, but will bring a lotof trouble from the Therioclasts and many villagers who will be illat ease with anyone who wears the mark of the nomads in any way,shape or form. And no outsider will ever be fully accepted by theelders and Wise Ones...not without lots and lots of challenges,tests, tricks and so on. Pursuing this path could end up with thePlayer Character acquiring some form of lycanthropy, becomingenthralled by some dryad, or worse.

Themountain nomads have good reason to hate the Therioclasts and to wishto avenge themselves upon the fanatical soldiers who are waging a warof extermination against all the inhuman beasts and shape-shiftingthings that would mock humanity. No matter how much the PlayerCharacters might sympathize with the nomads, in the end the nomadsare going to start fighting back against the Therioclasts and thePlayer Characters are very likely to be caught in the middle.

Thelonger the Player Characters associate with the nomads, the morelikely they will become targets of the Therioclasts.

Notes/ NPCs
MountainNomads(3d4) [HD 2+1; HP 11 on average.; AC 5[14]; ATK 1 weapon/spell; Move12; Save 14; CL/XP: 2/80; Special: +2 on Saves vs magic, all MountainNomads are dual-classed magic-users and can cast spells while wearingarmor that they've prepared or received as an heirloom; they are notnecessarily entirely human...but they tend to have CHAR 15 or better,on average, with at least a couple of CHAR 17 or 18 in the group.]

MountainNomad Wise Ones(1d4) [HD 4+1; HP 19 on average.; AC 5[14]; ATK 1 weapon/spell; Move9; Save 12; CL/XP: 5/810; Special: +2 on Saves vs magic, Wise Onesare dual-classed Magic-user/Clerics and can cast spells while wearingheirloom armor; they are almost always hybrids, mutants, half-humansor abhuman-descended. Wise Ones can cast Bless/Curseonce per day. They DetectMagicautomatically. They have friends among the fey, the were-folk, theprowlers and hunters, the beasts and the worgs...]

DoppelgangerKin(1d4) [HD 4; HP 24,22,20,17; AC 5[14]; ATK 1 claw/weapon; Move 9;Save 14; CL/XP: 5/240; Special: Immune to Sleep and Charm, +5 on allSaves vs magic; can shape-shift to resemble any person.] They will bevery suspicious of strangers and stay amongst their kin-folk unlessthey sense a good opportunity to ambush and impersonate someonepotentially useful to them...

WorgWatchers (2d4)[HD 4; HP 20,20,18,18,16,15,14,12; AC 6[13]; ATK 1 Bite; Move 18;Save 15; CL/XP: 4/120] Note: These creatures are supernatural andhave some measure of human in their ancestry due to unspeakable ritesperformed by demented cultists long, long ago...they will hang backin the woods and watch...and wait. They are very interested in howthe Player Characters respond to the mountain nomads.

TherioclastTroopers (2d4) [HD 3+1; HP 12 on average.; AC 6[13]; ATK 1weapon; Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP: 4/80; Special: +2 on Saves vslycanthropy] Grim and dour warriors who might be either Humans,Dwarves, Elves or Halflings. Studded-leather armor, crossbow (with amix of silver and iron headed bolts), silver-headed hand-axe orblessed scythe, rune-engraved short-sword and skinning-dagger. Theseare hard-bitten professionals who exterminate shapeshifters and eachone has a 10% chance to spot one outright.

Runaway Flesh Golem(1d4) [HD 12; HP 68; AC 9[10]; ATK 1 fist; Move 8; Save 7; CL/XP12/2,000; Special: Only lightning(which heals the thing), fireand cold spells (onlyslow it down) affect it, and you need a +1 or better weapon to harmit.] (S&W[WB]Bk III p. 19)

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