Targessa and the Ghost Mountain Bandits

haicheng region png image

One hex = six miles

This is a solo Scarlet Heroes wilderness adventure in which my character Yao Meihui explores the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Meihui is a second level fighter with the following traits:

  • Assassin: 3
  • Fleet-footed: 1
  • Quick Reflexes: 1
  • Friend to the Ghost Mountain Bandits: 1

The White Dragon inn

After learning that the court wizard Narita Mitsuru has become the new magistrate of Haicheng, following the assassination of magistrate Hao Ying, Meihui spends the remainder of the day preparing for her expedition to the Altgrimmr Mountains. She will leave The White Dragon inn tomorrow morning.

She has lunch at The White Dragon and then goes to the workshop of the goldsmith Zhang Bai where she withdraws 250 gold pieces. Tomorrow morning she will collect her magical banded armour of Sustenance from the vault; this armour will allow her to explore the Altgrimmr Mountains without having to eat, drink, sleep, or breathe.

Money: 259 gp and 1 sp

Money in the vault: 70 gp

At Hilt Osterhagen’s chandlery she buys adventuring equipment including a bamboo pole, a lodestone compass, and a map of the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Money: 143 gp and 5 cp

She returns to The White Dragon where she has dinner, drinks a bottle of good rice wine, and goes to bed.

Money: 132 gp, 8 sp and 5 cp

Leaving Haicheng

The next morning she has breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon. She goes to
Zhang Bai’s workshop where she puts on her banded armour of Sustenance. She stores her ordinary suit of banded armour in the vault.

Money: 132 gp and 8 sp

She crosses the Lanbaoshi Bridge into West Haicheng. She goes to the Bazaar where she buys a riding horse, a saddle, and two saddle bags. She then leaves Haicheng, following the road that leads north along the west bank of the Lanbaoshi River towards the village of Huaiji.

Money: 7 gp and 6 sp

Threat: 1

It’s the wet season. What’s the weather like? Cloudless skies.

Although it is the wet season there is not a cloud in the sky as she rides north towards Huaiji. She passes people searching for sapphires along the banks of the Lanbaoshi.

As there is no rain I decide to roll for a road encounter. There are six bandits coming down the road 450 feet from Meihui. Are these Ghost Mountain Bandits whom Meihui is friendly with? No. The bandits notice Meihui far enough in advance to be able to set up an ambush.

Bandits

Meihui is passing a patch of remnant jungle when six men armed with spears leap out from the undergrowth and attack.

Meihui kills five of the bandits and one of them flees. She tends her wounds.

Hit points: 11

In a belt pouch on one of the corpses she finds two gold pieces and a bronze bracelet jewelled with red jasper.

Money: 9 gp and 6 sp

The bracelet is worth 60 gp.

She gets back on her horse and continues down the road to Huaiji.

Huaiji

Meihui’s armour of Sustenance allows her to travel without the need to eat, drink, sleep or breathe. Nevertheless, she decides to spend the night in the tavern at Huaiji to fully recover from her encounter with the bandits. She pays the tavernkeeper Ding Hong three silver pieces for stabling and for the only room in the tavern. She takes off her armour, pays for a cheap meal and a mug of rice beer, and spends the remainder of the day resting in her room.

Money: 9 gp, 2 sp and 3 cp

At the end of the day she pays for another cheap meal and two more mugs of rice beer, and then goes to bed.

Money: 9 gp, 1 sp and 4 cp

The next morning she wakes feeling refreshed. She puts her armour of Sustenance back on but pays for two more mugs of rice beer, as the taste is so good. She leaves Huaiji and rides northwest along a track that leads into jungle-clad hills.

Money: 9 gp and 1 sp

Hit points: 12

What’s the weather like? Cloudless skies.

Shanbao

The weather remains fine and after two hours of travel she reaches the fort of Shanbao. Rice paddies and farm houses cluster around a hill, at the top of which is a wooden palisade surrounding a square stone tower. She gives her horse a drink at a well before continuing on down the track. After another hour of travel the jungle gives way to the cooler forests of the foothills of the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post

In the evening she reaches Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post. A wooden palisade surrounds a cluster of rough shops and tents. Beyond the Altgrimmr Mountains loom up high and dark. She goes to Hasan’s house and pays him six silver pieces to camp within the palisade and stable her horse. She sets up her tent but does not take off her armour. While wearing her armour she has no need to sleep and she does not wish to in this dangerous place. But she does buy a bottle of cheap rice wine.

Money: 8 gp and 4 sp

The next day she sells the bronze bracelet that she took from the dead bandit to a fence, for seven gold pieces. After giving her horse a drink at the well she leaves the trade post and rides northwest into the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Money: 15 gp and 4 sp

The Altgrimmr Mountains

Hex 05.03

This hex was explored previously by Du Renshu, so I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features.

She searches for water for her horse and finds a stream in a pine forest.

Hex 04.03

This hex was explored previously by Gong Trond, so I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features.

The next day she travels northwest. She searches for water for her horse again and finds a spring.

She checks her map. To the northwest is a cave named “The Cave of the Howling Ghosts.” She decides not to explore this cave at present.

Hex 04.02

The next day she travels north.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 2

She searches for water for her horse and finds another spring.

Longcleft

Hex 03.01

I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features as Longcleft is the only Feature.

The next day she travels northwest. She comes to a dwarven delve which is named “Longcleft” on her map. Massive gates of stone are carved with dwarven glyphs and are closed to keep out the Shou of the mountains. The delve is directly south of the dwarven city of Deep Altgrimmr itself. A stream flows out of the delve beside the gates and she gives her horse another drink.

Hex 02.02

The next day she travels southwest.

Nagar

A nagar is wandering the mountains 500 feet from Meihui. It will attack if it sees her. Meihui sees the nagar first, but not so far in advance as to be able to avoid it.

A man-sized lizard with glowing eyes, a nagar, is advancing rapidly down a rocky slope in her direction. The nagar seems to sense her presence and gains speed. Meihui knows that the nagar can reduce both her and her horse to ashes with its gaze. She spurs her horse into a gallop and attempts to escape.

The nagar has a full round of actions and moves 60 feet to be 440 feet from Meihui. She makes a successful Constitution check and escapes from the nagar.

Meihui gallops away down the mountainside and escapes from the nagar. When she at last dares to look behind her it is nowhere in sight.

Event Threshold: 1

Feature Threshold: 3

Terrain Event: slip and fall for 1d8 damage

Precarious ledge

Meihui finds herself riding along a ledge in the mountainside that becomes ever more narrow and precarious. Her horse slips off the ledge and she falls down a steep slope with it.

She takes 1 point of damage.

Fortunately both her and the horse come to a stop at the side of a huge boulder. She receives a mild wound to her leg that she tends.

Hit points: 12

Instead of going back to the ledge she continues cautiously down the slope, leading her horse rather than riding it. She searches for water for her horse and finds a spring further down the slope.

Hex 02.03

The next day she travels south.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 4

She searches for water for her horse and finds a stream.

Hex 02.04

The next day she travels south.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 1

Type of Feature: settlement and ruin dwellers

Feature builder: ancient humans

Reason to build: meeting place

Great past event: civil strife destroyed the settlement

Current state: choked by vegetation

Walls: wooden palisades

Towers: square

Other features: planters and greenery

Favoured colours: only natural hues

Oracular word: jewels

Targessa

She follows a trail down the side of a mountain into a wide valley covered with pine forest. The remains of massive square towers of stone rise above the trees. Her map indicates that this is the ruined town of Targessa, built by an ancient people who lived here long before the exile fleet reached the Sunset Isles. The Targessans formed an alliance with the Mandarinate of Xian against the Shou, but later some of them became suspicious of Xian’s ambitions. The Targessans fought each other over this matter and the town was abandoned.

She leads her horse through a ruined gateway and enters the ruins. She passes ruined buildings of stone overgrown with vegetation. Some of the buildings have had wooden palisades built between them to form a new wall. Leading her horse she is a conspicuous sight, and after she passes between two buildings she is surrounded by the militia of the settlement that has been founded here. Ten men armed with spears escort her through the ruins. She passes vegetable gardens and pigsties and comes to a circular open space paved with stone, which served as a meeting place of the Targessans in ancient times.

An Imperial man dressed in a tattered blue robe approaches Meihui and informs her that he is the headman. He does not give her his name and Meihui suspects that these people may be escaped slaves from the Magocracy of Tien Lung, or similar desperate people.

The Nue

The headman says that he has a job for Meihui. One of the stone towers in the forest is inhabited by a terrible monster, a nue with the head and body of a leopard and the wings of an eagle. This nue devours their pigs, and also possesses a hoard of jewellery which his people could sell in Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post. They have tried to kill the nue before but one of them was killed and his companions fled.

Meihui agrees to kill the nue, as it appears that she has no choice in the matter. She tethers her horse to a tree and walks to the tower. Evening is falling when she reaches the tower. She is approaching a dark archway at ground level when she hears the sound of heavy wingbeats and a roar coming from above. She looks up to see the nue descending towards her. She fires her crossbow at it.

The nue is a man-sized nue with a flight speed of 60′ and it is 100 feet away.

Her arrow hits the nue and badly wounds it. It drops to the ground with a roar. Meihui flees into the tower and the nue pursues her. It wounds her with a swipe of one of its great paws but she kills it. She tends her wound.

Hit points: 12

She lights her lantern and explores the nue’s lair. Among the bones she finds a small amount of treasure.

Treasure:

  • 5 gp
  • 20 sp
  • a copper nose ring worth 10 gp
  • a silver necklace worth 40 gp
  • a bronze bangle jewelled with blue topaz worth 50 gp
  • a pewter necklace worth 10 gp
  • a pewter belly chain worth 30 gp
  • a copper armlet jewelled with obsidian worth 60 gp
  • a silver necklace jewelled with black spinels worth 400 gp

After stowing the treasure in her backpack she explores the other rooms of the ground floor of the tower. The wooden upper floors have rotted away. The walls of the rooms are covered with crumbling plaster painted in fading shades of green and blue. She finds nothing of value. Returning to the nue’s lair she sees the headman enter accompanied by four other men bearing torches. She gives him all of the coins and all of the items of jewellery, with the exception of the silver necklace jewelled with black spinels.

The headman thanks her for killing the nue. She leaves Targessa and leads her horse to a stream in the pine forest.

Hex 01.03

The next day she travels northwest up the valley.

Event Threshold: 1

Feature Threshold: 2

Weather Event: meet an Encounter stranded in the mud. Two hungry ghosts.

Hungry ghosts

It rains heavily all day as she makes her way up the valley. Through the rain she can see two human figures dressed in ragged clothes who are floundering about in the mud at the bottom of the valley. She approaches them to see if she can help them. They turn their rotting faces towards her and too late she realises that they are hungry ghosts. She draws her sword as the hungry ghosts lurch towards her with their claws outstretched.

She destroys both of the hungry ghosts without sustaining a wound. They have no treasure.

Hex 01.02

The next day she leaves the valley and travels north.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 3

What’s the weather like? A light drizzle.

The rain has decreased to a light drizzle. She searches for water for her horse and finds a stream.

Hex 01.01

The next day she travels north.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 4

She searches for water for her horse but fails to find water on the rocky slopes around her. She decides to travel back to the stream she found previously. She is carrying a waterskin and she will fill it to ensure that her horse has water.

Hex 01.02

The next day she returns to the stream. She lets her horse drink and fills her waterskin.

I decide to roll for an encounter. Six bandits are travelling down the stream 600 feet from Meihui. Are these Ghost Mountain Bandits whom Meihui is friendly with? Yes, but… there is an adjustment to the physical environment, an earthquake which causes a rockslide. The bandits notice Meihui far enough in advance to be able to set up an ambush.

Ghost Mountain Bandits

After her horse has rested Meihui travels up the stream. Six men wearing leather armour and armed with spears emerge from behind boulders and surround Meihui, but their leader yells at them to cease their attack when he recognises Meihui.

I roll on the Reaction table for friendly NPCs. All of the bandits are committed to helping Meihui.

The leader of the bandits is named Shanyuan. He is the new leader of the Ghost Mountain Bandits who have been reduced to six by the perils of the Altgrimmr Mountains. He says that he and his men will accompany Meihui on her travels.

Earthquake

Meihui and the bandits leave the stream and head north. The steep slope they are travelling along starts to shake. Meihui gets off her horse and tries to calm the animal. Soon a rockslide is rumbling down towards them.

Meihui takes 1 point of damage from the rocks.

Meihui is hit by a rock and knocked to the ground.

Does she lose control of her horse? Yes.

Meihui loses control of her horse and it runs away down the slope. Eventually the rockslide subsides.

Meihui was storing her bamboo pole on her horse so that item of equipment is lost.

Are one or more of the Ghost Mountain Bandits killed by the rockslide. Yes, but… a piece of Meihui’s equipment has also been damaged by the rockslide and cannot be used. I roll a 1d3 to determine which item has been damaged.

  1. Backpack
  2. Crossbow
  3. Lantern

Meihui finds that her crossbow has been broken by the rockslide.

How many bandits have been killed? Three.

Three of the bandits have been killed by the rockslide and their corpses have been buried beneath rocks.

Was Shanyuan among those killed? No.

Shanyuan is one of the three bandits who has survived the rockslide. He wants to go to Haicheng and Meihui tries to persuade him to accompany her on her exploration of the mountains.

Using her trait of “Friend to the Ghost Mountain Bandits” Meihui succeeds on the check to persuade Shanyuan.

Shanyuan and the other two bandits agree to accompany Meihui. She tends the wound that she received from the rockslide and uses items from her healer’s bag to tend the wounds of her three companions.

Hit points: 12

Hex 01.01

The next day they travel north and come to the barren, rocky area where Meihui failed to find water before. Meihui gives the bandits water from her waterskin.

Hex 01.00

The next day they travel north.

Event Threshold: 1

Feature Threshold: 1

Terrain Event: no water; forage at -1 or suffer thirst

Type of Feature: structure and bridge

No water

The area they are travelling through continues to be rocky and barren, with sparse vegetation and no trees. Meihui has no more water to give to the bandits. They search the mountains for a spring or a stream.

I roll separate checks for Meihui and the bandits, as Meihui is wearing her banded armour of Sustenance and therefore has no penalty when searching for water.

They fail to find any water.

Goblin Shou

Five goblin Shou are travelling through the mountains 350 feet from Meihui and the bandits, seeking slaves. They will seek to enslave Meihui and the bandits. One of them has been badly injured in a fight and has no Attack bonus. Meihui notices the goblins far enough in advance to be able to avoid an encounter.

Meihui sights five Shou, blue-skinned goblins of the mountains, heading in their general direction. She alerts the bandits and they hide behind a large boulder until the goblins have left the area.

Dwarven bridge

They come to an ancient road of flagstones leading through the mountains. It leads to a massive stone bridge of a single span, obviously of dwarven construction, which crosses a dizzying canyon. Crossing the bridge they follow the road which ends at a recent rockslide. They camp here for the night.

Hex 00.00

The next day they travel northwest.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 2

They search for water again.

Again I roll separate checks for Meihui and the bandits.

Meihui finds a spring. The bandits drink deep and Meihui refills her waterskin for them.

Hex 00.01

The next day they travel south.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 1

Type of Feature: structure and mine

Great past event: outside conquest

Current state: rebuilt elsewhere

Contents: trove type C3

Abandoned dwarven gold mine

They find an opening in the side of a mountain, beyond which is a tunnel that delves steeply down into the earth. Meihui’s map indicates that this place was a dwarven gold mine that was abandoned following attacks by orc Shou. She finds 40 dwarven gold pieces which she shares with her three companions.

Money: 25 gp and 4 sp

They return to the mine entrance where they make camp for the night.

Is there a stream near the mine? Yes, but… fear.

One of the bandits goes to the stream near the mine entrance to refill the waterskin. He returns shortly afterwards to report that he did not fill the waterskin as he heard something large moving through the trees near the stream.

I roll a random encounter. The monster is a nagar which is now 60 feet from the mine entrance.

Nagar

Meihui goes to the entrance, followed by the bandits. She sees a nagar approaching through the darkness. Shanyuan hands her his spear and she throws it at it.

Meihui misses. The nagar advances 30 feet and uses its gaze weapon.

The spear misses. The nagar advances closer to the entrance and fixes its gaze upon her.

Even using her “Quick Reflexes” trait Meihui fails the saving throw against the nagar’s gaze. She must Defy Death. She takes 1 point of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 11

Meihui ducks back into the mine tunnel, avoiding the nagar’s gaze. She and the bandits run back down the mine tunnel with the nagar in pursuit.

Even using her “Fleet-footed” trait the nagar catches up with her. She must Defy Death again. She again takes 1 point of damage and the attempt is successful. Oracular word: hierarchy.

Hit points: 10

Tentacled abomination

An abomination from deep under the earth, a mass of black tentacles, seizes the nagar and drags it down into a pit.

Does the abomination seize one or more bandits also? Yes. It seizes one of the bandits. Was Shanyuan the bandit who was seized? Yes.

One of the monster’s tentacles also seizes Shanyuan and drags him down into the darkness. Meihui returns with the two surviving bandits to the mine entrance. She wants to continue exploring the mountains but they both want to go to Haicheng the next morning. This time Meihui does not attempt to dissuade them. She gives them her waterskin. The bandits camp in the entrance and Meihui stands watch throughout the night. The next morning the bandits head north back to the dwarven bridge and Meihui travels south.

Hex 00.02

Event Threshold: 1

Feature Threshold: 2

Weather Event: foot fungus; no move for 1d4 days

Foot fungus

Wearing her magical armour she can walk tirelessly through the mountains, but it is the wet season; she comes down with a foot fungus and cannot travel for four days.

Is there an encounter? Yes. Two bandits are travelling along the mountain side 400 feet from Meihui. These are not the Ghost Mountain Bandits that left her previously. If they see Meihui they will attack her for any treasure that she might be carrying. Their band has been reduced to two by the orc Shou or the mountains and their Morale is 6 rather than 7. Meihui and the bandits notice each other at the same time and the bandits advance to attack.

Bandits

On the fourth day of her rest she feels like she might be able to travel again tomorrow. She sees two men armed with spears advancing along the mountain side towards her. She can now walk with difficulty but cannot run yet. She draws her sword as the bandits approach.

Meihui fights with a -2 penalty due to her condition.

Meihui kills both of the bandits without sustaining a wound. They were each carrying a gold piece.

Money: 27 gp and 4 sp

Hex 00.03

The next day she is well enough to travel again. She travels south.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 1

Type of Feature: structure and monument

Stele of Li Yi

On the side of a mountain she finds a stone stele about 15 feet tall and inscribed in Low Imperial. The stele commemorates a victory won here in 30 AL, by daifu Li Yi and his Targessan allies over a horde of orc Shou. Li Yi was the daifu who founded Haicheng in 31 AL.

Hex 00.04

The next day she travels south.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 2

She only stops walking when it becomes too dark for her to travel safely through the mountains.

The Academy of Fa al-Tabari

Hex 00.05

I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features as the Academy is the only Feature. This dungeon was discovered previously by Du Renshu (see The Ruined Mage School).

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: academy (ruined mage school)

Locations: 23

The composition of the dungeon’s inhabitants has changed since it was last explored (by Du Renshu). The looters have left the ruins and the supremacists have taken over most of the rooms. 

Inhabitants: supremacists (first 15 rooms), and undead from massacre (last eight rooms)

I adjust the Threat of the dungeon. It is equal to Meihui’s level. Before exploring the dungeon Meihui will return to Haicheng and level up to become a third level fighter, so the dungeon has a Threat of 3.

Favoured colours of interior rooms: only natural hues

The next day she travels down a valley and comes to a ruined stone wall in a pine forest, beyond which is a complex of dilapidated buildings of the Imperial style. Her map indicates that this place was formerly a school of magic called the Academy of Fa al-Tabari. She decides to return to Haicheng before exploring this ruin.

Return to Haicheng

She travels northeast, passing a lead mine owned by a man named Fu Dai (see A Golem and Bandits), and returns to Targessa where a trail leads east through the mountains to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post. She does not stay at the trade post and enjoys an uneventful return journey to Haicheng. She returns to The White Dragon inn where she takes off her armour and pays for a fine room. She has dinner and afterwards enjoys a bottle of good rice wine before going to bed.

Money: 16 gp and 2 sp

Meihui receives one experience point for her adventure. She is now a third level fighter. She has 16 maximum hit points. She has gained the new trait of “Renowned in the Altgrimmr Mountains.”

The next morning she pays for her room and for breakfast.

Money: 15 gp, 1 sp and 5 cp

She goes to the workshop of the goldsmith Zhang Bai where she collects the rock crystal mirror that she took from Gu Chonglin’s vault. She then goes to the shop of the fence Bakir al-Halabi where she sells the mirror for 750 gold pieces. She pays a porter five copper pieces to help her transport the coins to the workshop of the alchemist Ochi Kazashi. She pays Kazashi 500 gold pieces to brew a healing potion that she will take with her when she explores the Academy of Fa al-Tabari. The potion will take a week to brew.

Money: 265 gp and 1 sp

She returns to Zhang Bai’s workshop and pays a deposit fee of 20 gold pieces to store 180 gold pieces in the vault. She also stores the silver necklace jewelled with black spinels that she took from the nue’s lair.

Money: 65 gp and 1 sp

Money in the vault: 250 gp

She returns to The White Dragon. In a week’s time she will leave Haicheng to explore the Academy of Fa al-Tabari. Who knows what treasures the wizards left behind?

Money: 64 gp, 8 sp and 5 cp

 

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