The Cave of the Howling Ghosts

Haicheng region new PNG image

One hex = six miles

Here is a Scarlet Heroes adventure featuring the second level thief Gong Trond, who has the following traits:

  1. Ruin Explorer: 3
  2. Great Stealth: 3
  3. Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1
  4. Resist the Red Tide: 1

The Altgrimmr Mountains

Having travelled from the city of Haicheng to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post, Trond leaves the trade post to explore the Altgrimmr Mountains, travelling northwest.

Money: 44 gp, 7 sp and 3 cp

Rations: 12

Threat: 2

Season: dry

Hex 05.03

These hills were explored during a previous adventure, so I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features.

Rations: 11

Hex 04.03

The next day he travels northwest into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 2

He searches for water but fails to find any.

He has a -1 penalty to all checks and a -2 penalty to hit rolls until he finds water.

Rations: 10

Hex 03.03

The next day he travels southwest into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 3

He fails to find water again.

Rations: 9

Hex 03.02

The next day he travels north into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 4

Feature Threshold: 1

Cave entrance

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: cavern (unquiet grave)

Locations: 40

Inhabitants: rebels (first 10 locations), Tidespawn (next 15 locations), and centipede women (last 15 locations)

Threat: first expedition has a Threat of 2. Further expeditions are at Threat + 1d4.

As the cavern is an ‘unquiet grave’ I decide that any ‘unusual foes’ rolled will be undead, though not in the locations inhabited by Tidespawn as undead are not found in association with those monsters.

I’m using the ‘Dark Cave’ random locations from the Quickstart Edition of Scarlet Heroes as well as the ‘Cavern’ random locations from the main Scarlet Heroes rulebook.

He comes to the entrance to a cave. The map that he bought in Haicheng indicates that there is a cave called “The Cave of the Howling Ghosts” in this part of the mountains. He tethers his horse to a pine tree, lights a torch and enters the cave.

SAM_1291

First part – rebel hideout

Domed cavern

The entry tunnel leads to a large cavern where the roof is a natural dome. The cavern is empty. He leaves by a tunnel entrance in the northwest corner.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisting tunnel

The tunnel twists and turns as he follows it deep into the mountain. Eventually it straightens out and runs directly north.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: 11 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – seven peasant warriors (HD 1) and two renegade soldiers (HD 2).

Nine men bearing torches come into view. Two of them wear chain hauberks and the others wear leather armour. They are armed with swords, spears and bows.

The rebels regard Trond with qualified consent. Oracular word: foresight.

The men are clearly rebel soldiers or well-armed bandits. But their leader, a man who seems to be of mixed Gadaal and Eirengarder or Skandr descent, greets Trond and appears to be quite tolerant of his presence in the cave. Trond tells him that he is an explorer from the slums of Haicheng who is simply looking for enough treasure to be able to get by. The leader warns him to leave that doomed city for good; in dreams he has seen Haicheng fall to Tidespawn and to an army of Shou led by a witch-priestess of the Bone Spear orcs.

Trond tells him that he helped to destroy a Tide cult in Haicheng. The leader becomes more friendly and tells him to beware of exploring too deep into this cave; further down there is a shrine where a Tide cult opened a gate to the red mist, allowing it’s foul abominations to enter the cave.

Trond says that he will be careful. The leader says that he and his men are going to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trading post to buy supplies. Trond offers him money for water and the leader fills his waterskin.

Money: 40 gp

The leader tells him that there are more of his companions living in the cave. When Trond meets them he can give them his name, which is Ariaric. Trond bids the men good-day and ventures deeper into the cave.

Flowing water

Encounter: four hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – two peasant warriors and one renegade soldier.

Dungeon encounter: lolling around and drinking.

The tunnel widens and joins a stream on the right. He sees three men – two wearing leather armour and one wearing a chain hauberk – sitting on rocks by the stream. A lantern hangs on the tunnel wall. The men are passing a bottle of rice wine between them.

The rebels regard Trond with helpful consent. Oracular word: pride.

Trond greets the men and tells them that he has just met Ariaric. They let him take a drink from the bottle. One of the men, an Imperial who has clearly had too much to drink, introduces himself as Xue. He says that he is a former peasant from the village of Zhaozedong, between Shou Swamp and Haicheng. He has no respect for the ineffectual Magistrate Hao Ying of Haicheng, and was proud to leave his village. The other men quickly shut him up. Trond says that whatever business the men have here in the cave is their own and he will not trouble them. He leaves the men to their drinking and continues down the tunnel, which follows the stream and turns to the right.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

The tunnel widens into a cave and the stream flows into a deep pool. By the light of his torch he can see pale cave fish swimming in the pool. He leaves the cave by a tunnel entrance in the south wall on the other side of the pool.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel splits, with one tunnel heading straight on and another heading to the left. There are vents in the rock of the tunnels from which toxic gas is issuing.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

Trond manages to avoid breathing in the gas. He takes the tunnel heading straight on.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

Feature: a dangerous intruder or beast that has entered the site – five orc Shou who intend to wipe out the rebels. Four of them have 2 HD.

There is a narrow pipe in the ceiling of the tunnel here and he can see daylight through it. He could quite easily climb up the wall of the tunnel and up through the pipe to leave the cave.

Five Shou warriors, pale-skinned orcs of the mountains, are entering the tunnel from the pipe. The last one drops from the pipe to the ground as Trond approaches. They look unusually large for orc Shou. Four are armed with axes and one is armed with a spear.

The orcs advance to attack. Trond kills all of them.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (nine left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He tends his wounds.

Hit points: 8

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He searches the corpses but finds nothing. He continues down the tunnel which bends to the left.

Stalactite maze

Hidden treasure: trove M1 in room contents – bronze headrest worth 10 gp.

He enters a large cavern which is a maze of stalactites, stalagmites and columns.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

At the bottom of a pit formed by a cluster of stalagmites he finds a bronze headrest. He leaves the cavern by a tunnel entrance in the north wall.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Steam vent

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

Hot steam from a vent in the ground fills the tunnel here.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15. Trond fails the saving throw and takes 5 hit points of damage.

He runs through the steam as fast as he can but is still burned. On the other side of the vent he treats his burns using a salve from his healer’s bag.

Hit points: 5

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Beyond the vent the tunnel splits, with one tunnel heading straight on and another heading to the left to join the tunnel intersection he found earlier. At least he will be able to leave the cave without having to run through the steam vent again.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel enters a cave where there is a well of bubbling, hot grey mud. Mud sprays the walls of the cave.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

Trond succeeds in dodging the mud. He leaves the cave by a tunnel entrance on the right.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisted tunnel

The tunnel twists sharply left and heads north. A familiar cloud of crimson mist creeps over the floor of the tunnel after the bend. He realises that he is near to the lair of the Tidespawn. He drinks his invisibility potion.

Trond will be invisible for two turns.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (eight left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

SAM_1293

Second part – Tidespawn lair

Vertical shaft

Treasure: trove M1 in room contents – pewter anklet jewelled with clear quartz worth 50 gp.

The tunnel ends at a vertical shaft thick with the crimson mist. At the edge of the shaft he finds a pewter anklet jewelled with clear quartz.

He pounds an iron spike into the rock at the edge of the shaft and ties his length of silk rope, which is 50 feet long, to the spike.

The shaft is 1d10 x 10 feet deep: 40 feet deep.

He lowers himself to the bottom of the shaft with ease, but curses when he realises that the effect of his potion of invisibility is wearing off. At the bottom of the shaft a tunnel runs northeast.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Stream bank

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel meets the bank of an underground stream flowing on the right. There are more vents in the rock here which emit toxic gas.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

He manages not to breathe in the gas. He follows the tunnel which bends to the left.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Natural bridge

The stream leaves the tunnel and flows on northwest into the mountain. The tunnel crosses the stream over a natural bridge of rock and heads to the right.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Sloping gallery

Treasure: M2 worth of room contents – bronze finger ring jewelled with green garnet worth 500 gp

The tunnel enters a wide gallery of stalactites and stalagmites which slopes down in a northwestern direction. He finds a bronze finger ring jewelled with green garnet.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Spiral tunnel

The gallery narrows to a tunnel which leads down in a roughly spiral direction. Eventually the tunnel becomes level and leads west.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Feature: a noncombatant inhabitant of the dungeon.

The tunnel splits with branches leading to the left and the right. A young man dressed in rags is slumped against the wall of the tunnel. He is about 18 years of age and clearly of mixed ethnic origin. When Trond approaches him he looks up with fear, but when Trond reassures him that he is not a Tide cultist and gives him water to drink he becomes hesitantly agreeable. Trond asks him what lies ahead in the cave and he replies that there are only the foul monsters from out of the red mist.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (seven left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

The man’s name is Pan Dagr and he is the heir of the wealthy Pan family of Haicheng. In Haicheng he lived as a rake and drank heavily, and his curiosity about all things mysterious caused him to become involved in the Tide cult that was sacrificing people in this cave. He tried to return to Haicheng but was caught and imprisoned in the cave to be sacrificed himself. But then the Tide monsters emerged from the mist and transformed or destroyed all of the cultists. Since then he has been living in the dark and evading the monsters.

Dagr ask Trond to help him leave the cave and return to Haicheng. If Trond will provide him with food and a weapon he will help fight any monsters that they encounter. His family will surely pay a considerable amount of gold if he is returned to their palace.

Trond agrees to help Dagr, and tells him to take heart as he himself destroyed a Tide cult that was flourishing in the slums of Haicheng. He provides him with his dagger and says that he will cook some rations for him to eat once they have left the cave.

Sloping gallery

They make their way up the spiral tunnel to the sloping gallery.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: four hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – one Creeper and one Wormwalker.

Two Tidespawn loom out of the red mist. One is a short, deformed creature wielding a spear, a Creeper. It may have once been a halfling or a child. It’s face is deformed with red growths. The other creature is a Wormwalker, man-sized and with a mass of pale worms crawling over it’s body.

Due to the presence of the Creeper Trond has -1 penalty to hit rolls and an AC of 6 for this combat only.

Trond draws his sword but his vision is suddenly obscured with visions of the Tide sweeping through Haicheng and destroying and deforming all in it’s path. He also experiences an urge to pick up Dagr and impale him on a nearby stalagmite. He overcomes this urge and advances to kill the creatures, with Dagr following him.

Dagr has the Vermin statistics of an urban combatant.

Trond kills the Creeper but the Wormwalker’s worms kill Dagr and badly wound Trond.

Trond is reduced to 2 hit points and must Defy Death (2d4). He takes 1 point of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 1

Two spears fly out of the darkness and hit the Wormwalker, killing it. Trond hides behind a column and sees dozens of orc Shou rush down the gallery with weapons ready. He remembers that the Shou are the greatest enemies of the Tide. He tends his wounds and waits for the Shou to leave the gallery before going to retrieve his dagger from beside Dagr’s corpse. The corpse is covered with the Wormwalker’s worms. He returns over the natural bridge to the stream bank.

Hit points: 3

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Stream bank

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

He returns to the stream bank where toxic gas issues from vents in the rock.

Trond fails the saving throw to avoid being overcome by the toxic gas. He must Defy Death again (2d6). He takes 2 points of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 1

He breathes in only a small amount of the gas while making his way along the stream bank. He coughs and splutters but manages to keep on moving and returns to the bottom of the vertical shaft.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

SAM_1291

First part – rebel hideout

Twisted tunnel

He climbs up his rope and enters the twisted tunnel.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

He enters this cave again where hot mud splatters the walls.

Trond fails the saving throw to avoid the mud. As he only has 1 hit point an attempt to Defy Death would automatically fail. He is left with 1 hit point.

Hit points: 1

He is burned by a mud splatter but manages to keep on moving.

Steam vent

Returning to the tunnel of the steam vent he heads right to avoid the vent.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

He enters this cave where he refills his waterskin.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (six left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Returning to the pipe he douses his torch and scrambles up the rock wall and the pipe to the mountainside.

Cave entrance

He climbs down to the cave entrance and finds that the Shou took his horse to eat. His bow and arrows, camp gear and rations that were stored on his horse are gone.

He searches for food but can only gather, not hunt, as he has lost his bow.

Trond can only obtain 1d4-1 lots of food if he only gathers instead of hunting and gathering even if he passes the check.

He obtains three day’s worth of food.

Rations: 2

Hex 04.03

The next day he travels southeast through the mountains, returning to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post. He searches for water and finds a spring.

Rations: 1

Hex 05.03

The next day he travels southeast and searches for water again. He fails to find water.

Rations: 0

Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post

The next day he reaches Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post where he buys rations and rice wine, and pays four silver pieces to camp within the palisade. The skies are cloudy but there is no rain. He spends the remainder of the day resting at the trade post.

Money: 38 gp and 2 sp

Rations: 1

The next day he returns to Haicheng, stopping briefly at Huaiji for a mug of rice beer in the tavern.

Money: 38 gp, 1 sp and 8 cp

Ration: 0

He reaches Haicheng in the evening and goes to the inn, The Bronze Horse , to recuperate.

Money: 21 gp

After two whole days of recuperation he leaves the inn to sell the treasure that he found in the cave, and to buy a horse and new equipment. He then returns to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post.

Money: 24 gp, 7 sp and 8 cp

Rations: 12

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure.

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