Friday, June 15, 2012

Goblin's Hideout, using Dyson's Drewer's Cave

Just over half a day's hike west up Gullifurd's Path there was an ogre living in a cave. He's not anymore because a group of adventurers (see: Heroes of Weaverham, Part One) killed him. At the back of the ogre's cave was a separate chamber with a large mostly flat rock. Moving the rock to the side (you would need 8-10 strong men to lift it) reveals a small circular hole with a slight breeze coming through it. Going through it leads to the cave complex that is the subject of today's post.

The map is a Dyson Map, Drewer's Cave to be specific. I've made some slight modifications to it that are easily noted on the image below as they are crudely and garishly drawn on in Paint. There are also numbers for the various points of interest in the caves.

Living in this cave complex is a small goblin warband, consisting of a dozen or so rabble-types, a gigantic cook, three wargs and a mysterious and mentally unstable shaman. As an adventure, it shouldn't last longer than a session (it will take our group two, we have incredibly short sessions though due to the time pressures of most of us having kids) and is doable by a group of first-level adventurers. I ran it in Labyrinth Lord and any references to level, HD, spells, etc. should be understood as being from that system.

1. This is where the previously-blocked up entrance from the ogre's cave leads. There's a lashed-together ladder lying on the floor here as well as an impressive collection of junk and rotting bits, as the goblins have been using this area as a trash pile after the ogre blocked off the hole in the ceiling. Any rogue trying to move silently will hake a slight penalty because of the rubble unless they take extra time (quarter movement) to move carefully. Any other class will invariably make a crashing noise unless they also deliberately take extra time to move through the area.

2. Thankfully, the odds are good that the goblins in this next area will not notice any noise (minus on their checks/saves) because they are busy cooking/screaming at each other. There are three goblins here, the gigantic cook (double HD) and his two assistants. They are busy trying to subdue a half-injured deer that is crammed into a giant cauldron. This is a goblin delicacy and as such requires great attention and care, as well as throwing cooking implements, swearing, etc. Surrounding the goblins and the cauldron are various food stores, rotting meat, barrels, etc.

3. This area is about 15' lower than areas 1 and 2 and is accessed by a circular path running along the north side of the chamber. Players in area 1 with low-light/darkvision can see that there's a bolted chain hanging from the ceiling here. The main floor of the chamber is taken up with a number of mushrooms, ranging from regular size to quite big (12' tall and 8' across). Players can jump from the ledge onto the large mushrooms with a successful Dex check. The chain supports a small cylindrical cage in which sits a despondent myconid. There are several obvious chunks taken out of the mushroom man, who does not respond to interaction. The cage is locked. If the myconid is freed, it will start wandering through the mushroom farm, tending to it. If released by the players and they are injured, the myconid will take 1d4+2 rounds of puttering in the mushrooms and then return with several chunks of mushroom that will heal 1d4+1 HP when consumed. Unless the myconid was closely observed while doing this, the players will have no idea which mushrooms these pieces were harvested from. If noise is made in this area (combat, for instance, or breaking apart the cage to get it open) the goblins in Areas 6 and 7 will be alerted and snarling sounds will be heard from Area 4.

4. There is a small corridor leaving Area 3 from the north, which slowly heads upward. On the right side of this passage there is a branch that moves more sharply uphill and terminates in a crudely-constructed wooden barricade. The barricade has a hole at goblin-eye height and a door that is barred on this side. If sufficient noise has been made nearby, loud snarling will be heard from behind the barricade, otherwise players will hear loud breathing as from a large animal as well as low growling. Behind the barricade is a small chamber where three wargs live. They're extremely aggressive and won't obey anybody other than the shaman, others who open the door (including goblins) will be quickly attacked. This area will smell strongly of the warg waste products and their natural musk.

5. This is a staging area, with some weapons (mostly spears) and other equipment (goblin cloaks, riding equipment for the wargs, etc.) lining the walls. A passage here goes for however long a distance makes sense in the immediate setting before terminating in a rock wall. Persistent searching or a decent roll will result in the discovery of a well-worn and greasy rock knob on the right wall that when rotated, causes the wall to slide open to reveal the forest outside. There is a similar knob on the other side and the door will automatically close a minute after it's opened.

6. The main group of goblins live here, so naturally this area is pretty whiffy. 8 of them are here now and they'll be joined by the cook and his assistants after the main meal is served. There's a common area in the main chamber and then bedrolls set up on the back. At any given time the goblins are usually gambling or fighting (or both) so there tends to be a lot of ambient noise coming from this area. If they hear noise coming from Area 3 they will send 2-3 goblins to check it out. They won't come out as a group until the shaman and his bodyguards rouse them to move. The goblins have a small amount of coin that they gamble with.

7. Two large goblins (double HD) who are the henchmen for the shaman live here. Shuzz and Bazzfazz will run down to get the shaman at the first sign of serious trouble. Regular goblins aren't allowed here and will have their ears boxed and then forcibly ejected for their trouble. The main goblin treasure is here -- about 1000sp worth of assorted coins, mainly copper and silver of various mints, obviously taken from travelers.

8. Heading down from Area 7 is a curling passage (passing under Area 6) decorated with a number of skulls of various humanoid races. The skulls are set into the walls to appear to be staring at anybody walking down the passage. If the players are moving slowly and listening intently, they can hear the sound of water dipping. At the bottom of this passage is a small chamber where the goblin shaman lives (I statted him as a 3HD goblin with the spells of a 2nd level cleric). If roused by his bodyguards, he will come up and lead the group of goblins against the intruders. He will have at least one offensive spell ready to cast and will use a staff in combat. Aside from the bones of small rodents and other charms, he's also carrying the key for the cage in Area 3 and is wearing a strange necklace that will show up as magical if Detect Magic is cast.

His stuff is strewn around a pool into which water is dripping from a small stalactite. The pool is extremely cold and the sides are very steep -- in fact, any amount of prodding and observation will reveal that there is no noticeable bottom to it. Careful searching of the shaman's gear will reveal several metal tubes, piles of small stones (small enough to fit into the tubes) and various sheets of rolled-up parchment, each of which has several crudely scratched questions in Goblin followed by extremely neat writing (although odd, in some undefinable way) in the same language. I'd recommend putting in some mystical/esoteric nature to the questions relative to your overall setting and goblin cosmology in specific as well as questions and responses about a nearby structure of interest to the questioner. In the Weaverham campaign, the notes mainly detail several strange and macabre rituals as well as the whereabouts of a place the questioner calls "The Halls of Bloodletting". All of the scrolls are completely filled with this odd correspondence.

If the players stick around the pool or go back and check it later, a metal tube will float to the surface of the pool about two days later. There will be a single question on the scroll, asking "Who rules the Halls of Bloodletting?" and the simple response of "I do not know". The air in the tube will have a somewhat fishy, queasy smell to it that is unlike anything any of the characters have smelled before. (In my campaign, the responder is an aboleth whose far-underground compound connects to this pool.)

9. Branching off from Area 5 is a narrow passage that slants sharply downward. Noticeably colder than the rest of the caves, it also shows much less signs of passage. It terminates in a well-worked square room with four 4' tall pedestals arranged in a diamond formation around the center of the room. There are no other obvious exists.

Two of the pedestals (N and E) have stone skulls on them, N being a human skull and E being a halfling skull. The other two pedestals have a 2" rhomboid depression on their tops. If either of the two skulls are lifted from their pedestals (nothing happens if the character attempts to rotate or press the skull down), four poison needles will come out of the pedestals at 2' high and in the four cardinal directions. If the character moving the skull was next to the pedestal, have them make Dex check to see if they were standing in the wrong spot/can jump back in time. If hit, the player must make a Save vs. Poison or die. The survivors, if any, can see that each of the two stone skulls has a corresponding rhomboid nodule on the bottom that allows the skulls to seat themselves on the appropriate pedestals (i.e. they will not fit on pedestals other than the one they were removed from). Replacing a skull on a pedestal does not trigger the trap.

In the Southeast corner of the room, there is a very well-hidden secret door that leads to stairs heading downward into the headquarters of an ancient assassin cult...the door is extremely strong and will require multiple hours of digging with a good pick to break through. The only way to open it is to find the other two stone skulls (elf and dwarf) that go on the other pedestals. Who knows where those might be though.

Strange Necklace

This necklace is a extremely strong piece of semi-petrified vine on which has been strung the skulls of seven rats along with other small bones and some interesting rocks. Once per day, it can be used by the wearer to cast ESP. If continually worn and starting the first night the necklace is worn, the wearer will begin to have progressively stronger and more disturbing nightmares in which the wearer is a guest in a well-appointed room, conversing with a somewhat dapper man, who repeatedly works the motif of "come visit me" into conversation. At first, these conversations will only be remembered as somewhat strange. Then, the nightmares will evolve into the man asking the wearer extremely odd questions about ethics, then casually showing the wearer that a drawer in the room contains a still-bleeding arm, etc. If attempting to remove the necklace after they have had at least one nightmare, the wearer must make a Save vs. Death. If they succeed, they take the necklace off. If they fail, they will find that shortly after taking the necklace off that it has reappeared. Any further saves have a cumulative -1 for each previous failure. As the nightmares progress, the character will become more and more obsessed with finding the man in the dream, to the point of after a month of dreams, the character will be -1 to all rolls unless they are actively pursuing meeting the man. 

If attempting to sell the necklace, the "natural worth" is 1,700gp.

(Take this wherever works best for you as a GM. The main thrust of this is that somewhere in your game world is a powerful evil that wants to be let out of wherever it might be and it will use this necklace to try and get somebody to find them.)

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