The Cave of the Howling Ghosts – Second Expedition

the cave of the howling ghosts png image

One hex = six miles

In this Scarlet Heroes dungeon adventure the thief Gong Trond continues his exploration of the Cave of the Howling Ghosts. Trond is a second level thief with 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

Having travelled from Haicheng to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post in the foothills of the Altgrimmr Mountains, Trond has left the trade post and arrived at the cave entrance.

Hex 03.02

Cave entrance

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: cavern (unquiet grave)

Locations: 40

Inhabitants: Shou (first 10 locations) and centipede women (last 30 locations)

During his first expedition into the cave Trond encountered human rebels, orc Shou, and Tidespawn. The Shou have now taken over the first 10 locations and ousted the rebels that originally occupied them. The Shou made their way down into the lower part of the cave where they killed all the Tidespawn, but then they were driven out of this area by the centipede women. Some of the Shou were charmed and enslaved by the centipede women.

Threat: 6

As the cavern is an ‘unquiet grave’ any ‘unusual foes’ rolled will be undead.

Money: 24 gp, 7 sp and 8 cp

Rations: 10

This time Trond ties up his horse (on which he is storing his camp gear and rations) deep within the pine forest that grows near the cave entrance. Hopefully the orc Shou will not find his horse this time.


First part – orc Shou lair

Domed cavern

Do the orcs have guards posted in this cavern? Yes.

Encounter: ten hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – six Shou spearmen with 1 HD each and two grizzled Shou warriors with 2 HD each (one armed with two spears and the other armed with a spear and an axe).

Dungeon encounter: hiding from others.

Attitude towards Trond: the Shou may parley if that seems plausible.

These Shou are neutrals who may or may not cooperate with the Shou chieftain (if there is one present).

Are there Shou women and children present? Yes.

From these results I determine that this cavern is the main living area of the Shou in the cave, that they are frightened of the centipede women, and that as a result they may be willing to parley with Trond.

Trond returns to the cavern where the ceiling forms a natural dome. There are eight orc Shou warriors here along with many women and children, and there are crude mattresses of pine branches and furs arranged around the cavern. These orc Shou are mountain orcs with pale skin and blonde or white hair.

The Shou are dismissive towards Trond. Oracular word: mystery.

Trond’s hand goes to the hilt of his sword, but he is astonished that the orcs do not seem to want a fight; even the larger two warriors seem fearful, though not of him. Instead they acknowledge him briefly and scornfully and then look towards the exit from the cavern. He remembers that the Shou charged down to kill the Tidespawn without fear. Are there more terrible monsters further down that even they are afraid of? He makes his way quickly through the cavern.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisting tunnel

He makes his way down this tunnel.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Flowing water

Treasure: trove M1 in room contents – copper armlet jewelled with sardonyx worth 50 gp.

He returns to the bank of the stream where the rebels were drinking rice wine. He finds a copper armlet jewelled with sardonyx.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

He returns to the cave where the stream flows into a deep pool.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Encounter: 12 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – eight Shou spearmen with 1 HD each and two grizzled warriors with 2 HD each. One the grizzled warriors is armed with a light spear and an axe and the other is armed with a bow and an axe.

Dungeon encounter: enjoying suitable company.

Attitude towards Trond: they may parley if plausible.

These Shou are also neutrals.

Returning to the tunnel intersection he encounters 10 Shou warriors who appear to be guarding this strategic location. The two bigger warriors are enjoying the company of two beautiful Shou women who wear only fur loincloths.

The Shou flatly reject Trond. I decide that this means that they do not want to let him go further into the cave. Oracular word: tradition.

These orcs regard Trond with traditional Shou hostility and advance to attack.

The Shou are a few paces away so Trond cannot use his crossbow.

Trond is overwhelmed and reduced to one hit point. He must Defy Death (1d4). He takes one point of damage and the attempt is unsuccessful. He is left with one hit point and must make a retreat.

Trond kills one of the bigger warriors but the other orcs wound him severely. He attempts to retreat from the combat.

The orcs have a free round of attacks. The surviving grizzled warrior wounds Trond for one point of damage and he is left for dead.


Second part – centipede womens’ lair

Vertical shaft

Encounter: nine hit dice worth of Minions and Civilians – eight charmed Shou slaves of the centipede women with dungeon Vermin statistics, armed with flint daggers, and one Shou slave with dungeon Minion statistics armed with a spear.

Although this is a dungeon adventure I decide to give Trond a break and give him half his maximum hit points (4) as recommended by Scarlet Heroes as the penalty for failing the combat challenge of an urban adventure.

When Trond regains consciousness he finds himself in darkness. He has been stripped of his armour, weapons and backpack and his hands and feet have been crudely bound with rope.

The difficulty of the check to get free is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

His crude bonds are no match for a skilled adventuring thief. He succeeds in getting free. Feeling his way around the cave he determines that he is at the bottom of the vertical shaft that he found on his previous expedition into the cave. Of course his silk rope has been pulled up by the Shou that left him here.

He hears the sound of approaching feet and shrinks back against the wall of the cave. Flickering torchlight illuminates the walls of the shaft. Trond scrambles up the wall.

The difficulty of the check to climb up the shaft is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

Once at the top of the shaft he briefly glances down. There are nine orc Shou at the bottom staring up at him. Why did the Shou leave him bound for other orcs to take? Then he notices that these Shou have glazed eyes and are poorly armed; only one carries a spear. Perhaps they are the charmed slaves of some powerful villain or monster. He leaves the shaft.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none


Twisted tunnel

He gropes his way down this tunnel.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

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

He enters the cave where hot mud splatters the walls.

The difficulty of the saving throw to avoid the mud is 15. Trond succeeds on the saving throw.

He manages to avoid the splatters.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Steam vent

He enters the tunnel where steam from a vent in the ground fills the air. He heads right to avoid the vent.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

He reaches this intersection again. Fortunately the Shou are no longer there.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

Hidden treasure: one tenth of C-type trove appropriate to the place (Major Ruin’s Wealth).

He scrambles up the wall towards the daylight.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 13. Trond fails the check.

Sixth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Once outside he quickly makes his way down the mountainside and into the pine forest, avoiding the cave entrance.

Have the Shou found Trond’s horse? Yes.

Once again the Shou have found and taken his horse. He leaves the forest and days later he returns exhausted to Haicheng. He will not return to the Cave of the Howling Ghosts until he is better prepared.

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure.

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