Horse on Gravel
Tavern or Social Gathering
Inspired by the old Hessian folk tale with ideas from the Bavarian fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
Table of Contents
- Adventure Background
- Adventure Synopsis
- Adventure Hook(s)
- Introduction to the adventure
- Introduction to Castle Morsain
- Maps: Castle Morsain
- Part One: Searching the Floor
- Part Two: The Banquet
- Part Three: Guard Duty
- Part Four: Chasing Lumi
- Section 1: Over the roofs
- Section 2: Guard Duty
- Section 3: The Next Steps: Going After Lumi
- Section 4: Woodland Chase
- Conclusion of Part Four
- Part Five: Creepy Crawlies
This adventure was inspired by the old Hessian folk tale of Snow White with ideas from the Bavarian fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Since nearly everyone knows the story of Snow White, it is recommended that you conceal the name of this adventure from your players until the conclusion.
What you do need to be aware of is that there are fairy tale-type elements within the adventure, some of which may surprise the players; grotesque caricatures, over-the-top histrionics, pantomime villains and even the odd clue of an “It’s behind you!” nature. This is intentional, as the adventure is as much designed to bring a smile to the faces of players as they realise what they are going through as test their ingenuity in a fairy tale setting, with its anomalies and unlikelihoods - I mean, seven dwarves living in a cabin together? Imagine the mess! For those of you with long memories, we took part of our inspiration for this adventure from Dungeonland (EX1) and The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, (EX2) both released 30 years ago exactly in 1983.
So with that in mind, and notwithstanding that fairy tales are indeed grim, deadly places to live out your life, remember that there are unlikely twists and turns, outrageous liberties taken, and scenery-chewing heroes and villains. Encourage your players to behave accordingly, reward roleplaying of this nature even, and maybe, just maybe, allow them to succeed at something spectacular - hey, slowing your fall after jumping from the minstrels’ gallery by thrusting a dagger in a heraldic banner is just the kind of thing a gallant adventurer SHOULD be attempting.
And in a similar vein to the two EX modules, perhaps this adventure is all in the mind; a group of PCs suddenly assigned to important guard duty might just have a collective sleepless night, with vivid dreams and disturbing visions of what might pass. Perhaps none of this ever happens, but could, just could...
We thoroughly enjoyed writing this adventure and hope you enjoy playing it just as much.
~Stephen, Jonathan, and Will
Much of the Klavek Kingdom is one grand sweep of grasslands, snow, ice and tundra. However, some areas stand out, as they are forested hills and low-level mountains. Areas rich in natural resources cause towns and villages to spring up nearby. Villages must pay heavy taxes to King Tolkovar Klavek XIII in Mohkba based on their economy, therefore, the common populace in these lumber and mining towns tend to hold a slightly negative view of the monarchy, whilst the leaders and council lean toward a more diplomatic approach.
Morsain is such a town, based many miles from the capital, Mohkba, along a notorious road avoided because of both natural and man-made hazards. The town has tended to have a fractious relationship with Mohkba because, due to the close proximity to the more hostile regions of Klavek territory, it has often found itself as a centre of guerilla activity from dwarf, gnome, halfling, and other humanoid communities, all of which have traditionally used the natural resources for themselves. Mohkba’s - and therefore what is considered Tolkovar’s - response has always been seen as slow at best and as completely ignoring the town at worst. This has led to the citizens of Morsain occasionally holding back wood, ore and taxes from the king, just to make a point.
King Tolkovar is actually quite impressed with the leader, the ruling body, and the citizens of Morsain, as the goods it produces rate as some of the best in the realm. In addition, the king grudgingly acknowledges that the place does a fine job in supporting the country’s ambitions, so resolved to do "just a little more" for the Morsainers. What this consists of has been under discussion for over a year, and final details are almost in place. One aspect that has been confirmed in just the last few days is the betrothal of Tolkovar’s 4th son, Prince Ruhtin, to Lumi Valkea Valtatytar, the daughter of Herttua Valta, Morsain’s leader. This has been rumored for several months, and indeed, negotiations have been ongoing with regard to how the young couple’s love can help improve relations between Mohkba and Morsain. Lumi and Prince Ruhtin are set to be married in the very near future, and the act will be seen as the cement for a number of other building blocks which draws Morsain closer to Mohkba.
With the rise in prominence of Ruhtin during these events, the prince’s goddess-mother, Attendant Queen Haijyin, has been seen more and more at the side of the king. She is a stunning woman, in a severe and unforgiving way. But her beauty is of the type that clouds easily and is distorted by jealousy and rage. She is not a woman to cross.
Haijyin, although only 5th Attendant to the king, is actually one of the 3 most powerful people in Klavek, not just because of her own abilities, but because she commands such personal loyalty in those around her, a trait that is almost unheard of in the kingdom. Although Tolkovar has most Klavekians on his side, it is because of strength rather than a desire to please him within his population. But Haijyin has shown how you can carve a life for yourself from virtually nothing, and the people grudgingly admire her for it. However, they don’t know everything about her by a long shot.
Of all the items Attendant Queen Haijyin possesses, her mirror of mental prowess is easily the most powerful and most useful. Haijyin came to own this item soon after she became Attendant Queen when she financed a band of adventurers to conduct a reckless, but ultimately successful, series of raids on a dwarven underground city during the time of the drow uprisings. The party managed to loot an underground city, with barely any creature noticing, during a battle between the city’s dwarves and the attacking drow.
However, Attendant Queen Haijyin wanted to keep the raid quiet and has since had 4 of the 5 party members killed by assassins. The final member lives as a recluse in perpetual fear of becoming the last victim. What virtually no-one knows is that Haijyin, a thorough and ruthless woman, has been supplying poisons for the assassins to use, as she wants to keep her activities quiet. Even less well known is that she is leader of a group called The Grinning Ragamuffins and is plotting to remove the king and replace him. But that’s another tale.
In the meantime, she is more concerned with her future daughter-in-law. Haijyin considers herself the most desirable person in the realm, and the mirror usually confirms this. However, since Prince Ruhtin met and fell in love with Lumi Valkea Valtatytar, the mirror has become evasive and nervous when answering and facing the queen. This is because Lumi is admired more by the people, who can see in her a brighter future for everyone in the realm.
In Part 1 of the adventure
1 The party through various means (see plot hooks) is invited to the wedding of Prince Ruhtin and Lumi Valkea Valtatytar. They find themselves assigned as guards to members of the royal party. This is a significant step up from what they are used to - an adventurer’s life - and what potentially seems to be a chance to shine in front of significant people is actually fraught with danger. Although the PCs are assigned as guards, it could be that all of this is a dream, drawn from their fears and concerns about their sudden elevation from “grubby adventurers” to guardians of royalty - because much of what they are used to will change as they fit into the protocols of being around kings and queens, princes and princesses, along with members of the royal household and retinue. Keep this in mind when the action begins whatever you choose to do - it’s quite likely to be a new world for the PCs and players alike.
2 Before the wedding begins the party finds a number of traps around and in the couple's bedroom. They may attempt to disarm as many as they wish, but the difficulty increases with each trap.
3 The couple is wed, and a banquet thrown in their honor. During the banquet Lumi collapses on the floor, presumably poisoned. A suspect attempts to escape and may or may not be apprehended.
4 Once it is determined that Lumi was poisoned, the PCs are assigned to guard the door to her room. Bats swarm into Lumi's room and attempt to make off with her. The PCs intervene and stop the creatures.
5 Lumi's condition improves, and whilst on a walk with Prince Ruhtin, she is kidnapped by a person identical in description to one of the PCs. The kidnapper snaps a bracelet on her wrist, causing her to disappear in a puff of smoke. The PCs are accused, a confrontation (or worse) takes place, and trust is lost.
6 If the PCs are quick on their feet, they may attempt to follow Lumi by magically tracking where the bracelet took her. They find her with the real kidnapper, a huntsman, at the edge of the Haunted Forest where he stuffed Lumi into a sack upon his horse. The huntsman activates a magical orb, creating four decoys. All four rush off into the forest, if the PCs follow they will be in for a wild ride.
7 In most cases the horseman and Lumi escape, but soon after, unbeknownst to the PCs, Lumi is kidnapped by an entirely different and unrelated group; the seven short folk, spies from afar who immediately see great benefit in capturing a newly anointed member of the royal family, have their hands on Lumi!
8 The Attendant Queen summons the PCs and gives them excellent information allowing them to locate Lumi's kidnapper, the huntsman. The PCs may track the kidnapper and determine that he lives in a cabin outside the castle. When they confront him he is killed by giant albino centipedes. If the PCs investigate further they can determine that the albino centipedes are unique to the castle's catacombs, and thus someone relocated the giant centipedes which killed the huntsman. This could be seen as a premeditated murder designed to shut him up.
9 Snipers attempt to kill the PCs. It seems that someone doesn't care for their investigation into the disappearance of Lumi or the fact they are helping the Attendant Queen.
10 A meeting is held with the PCs. There are those that believe the PCs are involved and actually holding Lumi for ransom, while others believe they are innocent. The Attendant Queen uses a lock of Lumi's hair with a magical device privately in her own chambers to locate Lumi and determines that she is currently within the Haunted Forest. The PCs are asked to retrieve her, although many are skeptical as to the PCs intentions at this point.
In Part 2 of the adventure
11 The PCs enter the Haunted Forest where they may or may not encounter numerous fantasy locations such as the Bottomless Pit, Feyglade, Forest Maze, or Pondy Falls. Eventually, the PCs approach a small cabin nestled within a massive wall of stone. Protected on three sides by stone and on the fourth by a plethora of traps, gaining entry seems to be near impossible.
12 The seven short folk hold Lumi captive inside and hope their traps slay the PCs so they don't have to. They are content with their anonymity and prefer to continue their spying operations on the Klavek Kingdom without interruption.
13 If the PCs are able to retrieve Lumi from the seven short folk, all will seem as well for a time until the evil Attendant Queen makes her true nature known and makes to slay Lumi once and for all.
14 The adventure could conclude a number of different ways depending on the adventure hooks used and the PCs actions during the course of the adventure.
- The PCs find themselves in the pay of the Mohkba government, as many "adventurers" do when times get tough, but instead of being sent into the wilderness exterior to hunt for Vikmordere, or the barely-hospitable interior to somewhere like Rybalka to act as defenders of the local industry, a rather more mundane chance to experience "guard duty" comes their way. This seems rather dull until it comes to light that Prince Ruhtin will be the main object of their protection, and success will bring prestige upon their heads.
One of the PCs finds herself in need of paying off a debt of honour to a friend who stood by her side during a time of great trouble. It comes to light that the PCs friend doesn’t want to make the journey to Morsain as the birth of his first child is imminent. Consequently, he asks the PC if she will repay this outstanding debt of honor by taking his place at a ceremonial duty that involves protecting a royal couple at their wedding. it sounds like a straightforward enough venture, so the PC agrees.
One more refined PC, or one with at least 8 ranks in Knowledge (nobility and royalty), is actually a friend of Prince Ruhtin from their time in military academy (many royal offspring between the ages of 10 and 18 have two years in military academy, arcane school, under clerical devotion and studying the roguish arts. This then gives them the chance to make informed choices and decisions when and if they end up making legal judgements in the future). As a friend, the PC receives an invitation he can’t refuse - to act as part of the honor guard for the events surrounding the betrothal of the prince to Lumi.
One of the PCs is a member of the Mohkba secret police and is charged with making sure no harm befalls the prince, to look for insurgents in Morsain AND, as a legally approved agent, take any and all action required to protect the name of King Tolkovar. There will be a handsome reward for this service, received when the prince and Lumi are finally fully married.
One PC is actually an insurgent, with either dwarven, elven, gnomish, halfling or Vikmordere blood or allegiances. They are there to ensure that the wedding is spoilt without too much attention-attracting bloodshed taking place. They will need to play along with their fellow party members, but actively work against them to disrupt the ceremony as much as possible.
One PC is actually in the pay of the Attendant Queen and will do all he can to make sure her plans come to fruition yet not to attract too much attention to himself. The PC isn’t aware of all the Attendant Queen has planned, but has enough information to string the PCs along and for several events to take place.
However the PCs end up at the castle, it is highly recommended the party contains a rogue.
Introduction to the adventure
The life of an adventurer can be a good one; the open skies, the road ahead, the temptation of another treasure to recover, village to protect, or ne’er-do-well to serve justice to. Ah, what could be simpler...
Well occasionally, just occasionally, there are storm clouds, the roads are blocked because of war, villages are doing very nicely themselves thank you due to that same war, and the bad guys flee under threat of a sound thrashing from forces much larger and stronger than a band of tomb robbers. Now is one of those times. So then what do you do to earn a crust?
Well, it seems that the goddess of Luck is on your side, because you have become part of a big and important job, and a comfortable one at that. You are to help with the security of a wedding in a distant town between Prince Ruhtin and a local girl. So no huge crowds, no dissenting voices, no rogues’ guild attempting to gain glory from its mischief or mad mages throwing arcane energy around. It’ll be in a castle, with other guards, and not all that many guests.
The journey to Morsain is not without some low-level difficulty, but the goblins fled at the first sight of the vanguard, the wolves skulked off when such a large force approached them and the dragon that flew over was too far up for either side to make an effort to attack the other. Which means you’ve arrived at Castle Morsain in good time and in great health. Let the wedding festivities commence. It’s going to be a right royal party. Break out the ceremonial uniforms!
Introduction to Castle Morsain
The castle is an imposing structure, one that the citizens of Morsain are rightly proud of. Neither grim nor foreboding, is does give off an air of strength and “reliability” that has given rise to the phrase, “As honest as the castle’s foundations!” when someone is referring to something that can be trusted with their life.
The first real job the PCs find themselves involved with is making a sweep of some of the important rooms in the castle for anything untoward. It is assumed by many that as they are experienced adventurers, they will be able to deal with unusual and difficult problems - and besides, it’s not as if the Prince can just bring a tame rogue along, now is it? How would that look to the people of Morsain? So discretion is required as the PCs go about their work.
The PCs are approached by Prince Ruhtin’s secretary, an aristocratic expert who, whilst not currently a landowner himself (due to an ill-fated sponsorship of a trip to find a hidden Vikmordere burial ship), knows all about the whys and wherefores of running a visit such as this one to a place such as Morsain. Viscount Sihteeri watched the PCs on the journey to the castle and feels they are ideally placed to help make the Prince’s stay a better one. They do have to earn their coin, after all! He approaches them, and gives them a number of tasks, one after the other, as the group proves itself by undertaking these activities. After the first request, the messages come by note, and the PCs are never able to take up any more of Viscount Sihteeri’s time.
Unbeknown to the PCs at this stage is that they will find themselves required to perform ceremonial duties. This means that they won’t be able to wear their usual adventuring equipment and will have to resort to the items protocol allows them. This wouldn’t be such an issue back in Mohkba, as they would have time to prepare, but events at the castle overtake them and they may find themselves having to rely on less useful or effective items. This may initially cause some distress to players, but make it clear to them that they will be rewarded for their efforts, both within the game and by you with story and role-playing rewards. You will find one or two encounters that initially seem too low for the PCs, until it becomes clear that these are at times when the players will be without all their magic and will be relying on their wits and ingenuity to a greater extent. Make sure they aren’t penalised for this.
As the PCs deal with the first set of traps, they find themselves having to be more and more sophisticated and “expert” in the way they deal with them. Attendant Queen Haijyin has had these set up so that the party will have its abilities thoroughly tested. At this stage, if anyone falls foul of a trap and the alarm is raised, the Attendant Queen herself will arrive within 1d3+3 rounds with a neutralize poison potion and cure the affected character if required. Otherwise, she will arrive in1d10+10 rounds and thank the PCs effusively, calling for them to be taken care of as her own special protectors. This will happen even if she administers her potion, in further gratitude for their efforts.
After a brief meeting with Viscount Sihteeri, the Prince’s secretary and righthand man, you find you are “working guests” at the pre-nuptial celebrations of Prince Ruhtin and Lumi Valkea Valtatytar. A prestigious role, without doubt, but not one without surprises. Your full adventuring kit has been frowned upon a number of times, as ceremonial garb is the order of the day. You’ve been advised that you’ll need to step in line on that point as soon as possible. However, for the moment you are tramping around the castle looking like a team about to take on an orcish horde...
The first part of your duties require you to do a sweep of the floor containing the royal party’s quarters. As seasoned adventurers, this is just the sort of thing you can excel at, and giving the royal party confidence about their quarters whilst putting yourself at little risk seems a fine way to earn a prince’s gratitude.
In fact, it turns out that you are asked to do more than you thought you would have to. Most of the other guards are martial types, and you are going to be relied on to undertake some complicated tasks. As you approach the first of them, you see members of the castle’s staff and other’s on guard duty pointing at you as you pass them; the whispered comments (Listen/Perception DC 22 to catch them) talk of you as “brave outsiders” and “folks with a tough job.” What can they mean?
Maps: Castle Morsain
- Packed earth approachway to the castle
Collapsible stone bridge
Front gatehouse with murder holes and bronze portcullis
Glass-roofed dining courtyard
Main dining table
Viscount Sihteeri's temporary room
Jetty to the lake
Kitchen with hammocks for most staff
Library and music room
Lord Valta's study
- Guard gathering room
Balcony over the glass-roofed dining courtyard
Lord Valta's temporary room
Lumi Valtatytar's room
Portcullis control room with murder holes
Attendant Queen Haijyin's temporary room
Prince Ruhtin's temporary room
- Parapet walkway, facing across the lake
Tower above Lord Valta's room
Guard parapet over the bridal suite
Tower above Lumi Valtatytar's room
Rooftop guard room
Tower above Lord Valta's temporary room
Guard parapet over Prince Ruhtin's temporary
Tower above guard gathering room
Part One: Searching the Floor
Once the party are past the main door, there are a number of rooms to check, 4 in total. They can be inspected in any order, but are presented in level of increasing difficulty of the trap or traps they contain. Give the PCs the names of the people in each room - Lord Valta, Prince Ruhtin, Attendant Queen Haijyin and Lumi - and let them go where they wish. They do have to get past the main door, however...
As you mount the stairs to search the floor where the royal party’s rooms are, a large set of solid oak doors banded with iron faces you. Each of the bands has a series of silver symbols inlaid into it, depicting key phrases from the Klavek constitution. The stair carpet and rods are still reasonably thick, but is beginning to show signs of wear, but nothing a few judicious mend and make whole spells wouldn’t improve. Above the door, carved into the stone lintel, is the motto of the region: “To the intrepid, eternity.”
You have been advised that this floor contains a number of bedrooms set aside for important visitors, as well as the quarters of Lumi and her family. All rooms have a wall that faces out of the caste, whilst the corridor running around the inside of the wall widens and narrows depending on the position of the rooms.
You reach the doors and take another look down to the ballroom below, candles beginning to glow as the servants finish the decorations, before turning the knob on the oak door. You barely hear a click as the handle turns in the well-oiled mechanism.
Prince Ruhtin's Room
As you make your way around this level, you notice the floor is richly appointed, with deep colours and intricate patterns. There seems to be a thread of gold which leads you from door to door. You come across the occasional ceremonial pike-wielding army type, most of whom offer you no more than a cursory glance. You find that the second area you have to check is the room set aside for Prince Ruhtin. Closing the main double doors behind you, you continue on to it. You check the door (Search/Perception DC 15), and at first sight, there seems to be nothing suspicious. (If the PCs roll a natural 20, they are CERTAIN there is nothing suspicious) You see the key is resting in its hole for you, allowing you to unlock the door to enter and then relock it behind you if you wish.
This lock is not trapped (Search/Perception DC 5). Once the PCs have checked and opened the door, continue reading
As you glance around, you can see that the room is luxuriously laid out, befitting a man whose activities in life include defending the realm, hunting, and representing his father at conflicts. What is clear is that most of the trappings are new (Appraise DC 15), and that the room has been dressed for the occasion. There are conflicting aromas of new wood, cured animal skins and polish.
However, there’s a slight smell in the air that you can’t quite place (Survival DC 20, Craft (alchemy) DC 22) - that’s it! It’s iced saltwater. After a few minutes of searching (Search/Perception DC 18), you sense something about the keyhole of the closet door. A closer inspection is needed.
Lord Valta's Room
You carefully open the door to this room, ready for anything. Except what happens, which is nothing. This room seems normal, until you realize that the window is open, although secured. As the room is on the first floor, this seems like a target for anyone attempting to get in and assassinate a member of the royal party.
Wait to see if the PCs go to close the window, then carry on.
Spot/Search/Perception DC 5:
Just before you shut and lock the window, you notice a thin strand of silk seemingly attached to the curtain, but in fact running behind the bottom of it and into the stonework where a small condensation drain from the window ledge exists.
This hole contains a hollow-tipped bolt from a miniature hand crossbow, although the bolt looks very much like a writing quill that a man of letters might use. This detail will be discovered once the trap has been disarmed. The silk is nothing to do with the trap, but is there to distract the PCs. Closing the window is what sets the trap off.
Attendant Queen Haijyin's Chambers
The only decorated door on this floor, the Attendant Queen’s door has an engraving of an apple tree. As before, you open the door slowly, ready for trouble. It is unlocked, but the hinges are stiff and there is a slight groan as they yield. The Attendant Queen’s room is immaculate, with everything in its place. The bed is larger than the others seen so far, and there is a chair by a dressing table with a number of jars and bottle on it, along with a platinum brush, comb and mirror. A large wardrobe rests against one wall. On the bed is a writing tray, one that rests on a person’s lap if they write whilst sitting up in bed. There are 3 scrolls on the tray, 2 of which are tied but not sealed, whilst the 3rd one is rest face up on top of them.
The walls have a series of paintings hanging on them, depicting Haijyin at various stages of her life. In each one, judging by style and quality of the way she dresses, she is obviously climbing the social hierarchy, but is seen as a woman of the people as she tends to their needs selflessly.
When the PCs are looking at the pictures, a Knowledge (nobility) DC 12 reveals that the dresses Haijyin is wearing are becoming more and more exclusive, the style, color and material being limited to certain individuals in specific positions.
Each of the scrolls is labelled “menu” and none of them are sealed. The first one to be opened and read is a trap. The phrase at the top of the scroll reads, “To celebrate the wedding of Prince Ruhtin, son of Tolkovar and Haijyin, to Lumi Valtatyttar, daughter of Lord Valta of the loyal town of Morsain in the land of Klavek”.
The scrolls radiate magic (Illusion, glamer) - if any part of the menu is rubbed, it generates the aroma of the food that is listed thanks to a ghost scent spell (similar to ghost sound except it produces aromas instead of noises) - whilst the sepia snake sigil is a variation of the traditional spell in that the sepia snake does not dissipate in a flash of brown light accompanied by a puff of dun-colored smoke and a loud noise, but instead becomes a thin line of a poisonous substance that is injected beneath the skin, turning it amber and having the same effect as the spell from then on. This substance is actually a variation of Drow poison, but it renders a person immobile rather than unconscious. [Craft (alchemy) DC 18 confirms this if the Reflex save to avoid the spell is made and the substance doesn’t get injected]
All of the jars have nothing more than make-up in them.
Princess-to-be Lumi Valtatytar's Room
This is Lumi Valtatytar’s room; neither lavishly decorated nor overly “girly”, it has an air of someone who is both beautiful yet practical. Every item is a shiny example of its type, yet nothing superfluous. There is a double bed, covered with eiderdowns and topped with a thick fur, a dressing table and chair, a wardrobe, a bath and changing screen, a full-sized harp and a sewing box next to a spinning wheel. The box has a rather utilitarian hunting outfit resting on it, folded neatly.
Get the players to make a Spot/Perception roll, or read the following if they Search around the doorway. A Search/Spot/Perception DC 8 roll finds the first wire. The trip wire, a much thinner, more hidden trap element, is discovered on a DC 20 roll as highlighted in the trap details.
As you enter the Princess-to-be’s room, you find a wire attached to the lintel on the top of the door frame, leading inwards and upwards.
Pause as the PCs respond to this.
However, this is a ruse and the wire isn’t linked to anything.
Pause as the PCs perform their next actions.
It’s only as you move further into the room that (the first and possibly second PC) becomes aware of something pressing against your ankles; a trip wire!
A successful Search/Perception DC20 roll discovers this. An unsuccessful roll means it is walked into. Letting them discover the wire this way leaves them in a dilemma. GM information is below:
You follow this with your eyes, finding that it leads to a previously-unseen thin tube that is disguised as a horn being played by a plaster trumpet archon which is hung on the inside wall above the door; the horn is pointing directly at your heads, and some of you may even be looking straight into it. Do you move forward to break the wire, or step backwards and release the tension?
Whilst the wire is under tension, nothing happens. However, once it has been stretched, it will not remain taut, so whichever way the PCs move, they will set it off. The tension needs to be maintained and the trap can then be disarmed. If the disable device check fails, the dust is sprayed over the person(s) creating the tension in the wire and the person attempting to disable the trap. If some kind of barrier is placed between the trumpet and the relevant PCs, they gain a +5 bonus on the first Fortitude save as the cloud doesn’t immediately gather around the PCs. The mechanism for disabling the trap is at trumpet level, so the disabler is unlikely to benefit from this. Remember, if the trap goes off, there are four rounds that the dust from the trumpet may affect them.
The Bridal Suite
The PCs may not discover the traps in the order they are written here, but that doesn’t matter. Remember, the traps are designed to tell the Attendant Queen how sophisticated any future poisoning needs to be; any failure will give her the information she needs.
This room contains the marriage bed and is scented with warmed rose oils. A magical breeze blows softly through the room, keeping the scented air moving. There is a small statue of an air elemental on a display table that has a variation of a whispering wind spell coming from it. If the PCs listen, the zephyr eventually says, “May the union of Prince Ruhtin Tolkovar and Mistress Lumi Valtatytar be eternally blessed by the gods that watch over them,” and repeats every 2 hours.
The bed clothes are made with the finest of silks and are covered in soft rose petals, whilst the headboard is a rather bawdy scene of fey creatures engaged in amorous activity - satyrs and pixies feature prominently. On each side of the bed there is a low table with a single drawer, there are two wardrobes and a chest of drawers, a dressing table and chair with a mirror on the table, a full-length mirror about 7 feet tall that is on a frame that allows it to change angle and has a seat attached to one side that can be pulled round to the front of the mirror and secured for use, a large candelabra hanging from the ceiling, and a trolley with about two dozen bottles and decanters on it. At first glance, everything seems fine.
Read this final part if the PCs need a hint
However, you have become wary as a result of the other rooms on this floor; is this one worth a more thorough search?
As the PCs search this most resplendent of rooms, they will find a number of traps of increasing complexity. Attendant Queen Haijyin has been able to ensure that this room will be a real test of the party’s abilities. Only the items below are trapped; the rest are all harmless. Feel free to describe them as you see fit.
The trap on the bed
The first thing the party finds are two concealed miniature wooden bolts which come from two of the carvings in the headboard of pixies firing tiny arrows, one aiming at each pillow. The trigger is operated by a sensor pad underneath the Prince’s pillow. Each of the miniature bolts is just less than half an inch long.
The trap in the bedside table
Next to the bed, on both sides, is a bedside table. The first one the PCs check will be clear of any danger; the second one is trapped. There is a small vial of dark brown fumes with the stopper set to be pulled out when the drawer is opened.
The trap on the mirror
If the PCs decide to investigate the opulent mirror in the far corner of the room, a search of the seat reveals the trigger to another vial, one filled with a white mist, which is set in the top of the mirror frame and looks like a gem that has been placed there for the occasion.
The trap on the chest of drawers
Finally, one of the drawer handles of the newly crafted chest of drawers - the one on the left of the first large drawer down - is smeared with a thin film of contact poison. In the low, flickering candle light, it is difficult to spot this, and even a full search can fail. The chest of drawers has 3 drawers in the topmost row and then 4 rows of a single drawer.
Part Two: The Banquet
These next two encounters are designed to get the PCs thinking about how they deal with problems when they don’t have all their equipment to hand - they are the only two of their kind during the adventure, so put up with any grumbles. Hopefully your players will know that you have their interests at heart, as you are their guide through the tale, not enemy within it. You can make adjustments as you see fit, and there are suggestions below to help with this.
As the PCs are now undertaking some of their ceremonial duties, and are sitting at a dining table, they can only be armed with concealable simple light weapons or martial light weapons - this excludes spiked gauntlets, shields or armor - and they will only be able to wear padded armor or robes/items similar to robes. If they do not have such armor or items, Sihteeri supplies basic examples for them, along with appropriate tabards or tunics to cover the padded armor up.
Allow the players to place themselves around the banquet room however they wish, but none are allowed to be within 20' of the main table - their status doesn’t allow it. They need to remember that there are a good number of more important people than them at the banquet, and if they start throwing their weight around or making unfounded accusations, they will be escorted from the room and “dealt with” by Viscount Sihteeri, who wields considerable unquestioned power right now. The PCs should not forget their place in these proceedings.
There are royal guards on the platform behind Lord Valta, Attendant Queen Haijyin, Prince Ruhtin, and Lumi. Once they are in position, have them make a Spot/Perception DC 22 check for the incident at the end of this section - this will keep the players on their toes - and then read the following:
You are attending the evening banquet, working again, but away from the main table, where the guests of honor are seated. Aside from a couple of people who are enjoying the fruits of Lord Valta's wine stock a little more than is wise, everyone is behaving as they should. The wedding went without a hitch, and everyone has relaxed a little, even the guards close to the top table.
As the banquet progresses, the tradition known as The Matching Glass is performed. This custom requires that one month prior to the wedding the couple to be married has to craft, by hand (with help, of course), a single drinking glass that has a mending spell built into it. This glass is then carefully cut down the middle, with one half being given to the groom-to-be and one half given to the bride-to-be. They keep these halves safe and they are brought back together at the banquet and the mending binds them together so that the couple can drink from it. This ceremony is symbolic, showing the two can work together and that neither will be as good without the other. The bringing of the halves together shows that together, the two are complete. This also helps prevent impostors, as they'd have to have the original glass half.
Prince Ruhtin produces his half and Lumi draws hers from a silk bag, the pair of them fitting the two pieces together. There is a dim pulse of light as the two halves become one whole. Those assembled applaud, whilst the respective parents look on with love and admiration in their eyes, and the wine steward brings forth a bottle of wine that was set down some seventy years ago by a previous ruler of Morsain. He pours the wine until the glass is almost completely full and then offers it to Prince Ruhtin. The Prince stands and holds up the glass in a toast.
"About my bride, Lumi, I have this to say: I want to be with her just as she is, and I choose her above all others. To my bride, I say: I love you."
Ruhtin takes a deep breath and then drinks heartily, from the Matching Cup, only to almost immediately begin coughing and sputtering. As the Royal Guards and Lord Valta move toward him, Ruhtin holds up a hand. He coughs for another minute before gasping for air.
"My apologies, everyone! I'm sorry! Some of the wine went down the wrong pipe!"
There are sighs of relief all round followed by small bouts of nervous laughter. Ruhtin wipes his mouth with a napkin and smiles at Lumi as he hands her the half-empty Matching Glass. Lumi stands and holds up the glass in toast. In a clear voice, she says;
"About my husband, Ruhtin, I have this to say: I love the things I have seen in him and want to share those things all of my days. To my husband, I say: I love you."
She grins broadly at her husband-to-be, glances with mock nervousness at the liquid, and takes a hesitant sip of the wine, causing more laughter. When there's no coughing, she takes another sip and hands the rest to the wine steward.
The couple then exchange engagement rings, which confirm that the wedding will definitely be going ahead. Prince Ruhtin’s is a thick band of roughly-worked gold, Lumi’s is a slender band of entwined platinum and adamantine.
The meal progresses normally for several minutes, before there is a small commotion on the stage. Lumi is teetering in her chair, her eyes rolling back in her head. Ruhtin grabs for her, but she slumps over onto the floor. Lord Valta begins shouting for his doctor.
The PCs can either chase the man leaving the room, they can go assist with Lumi, or they can begin questioning people.
If they are far enough apart (depending on how they set up at the beginning of the scene), they can split up to accomplish all of the above.
If any or all of the PCs chase the man as he tries to get out of the room, read the following:
The man sees you coming and heads to the door, shoving people out of his way. He makes it to the door and bursts through, stumbling over the guards who were posted outside.
The PCs can push their way through the crowd, jump up on to tables and leap from each to the next, jump up on to one table and leap for the hanging chandelier to aim at the man, can aim some kind of missile weapon at him (including plates and bottles which are to hand), or cast a spell at him.
If the PCs push through the crowd
There has to be constant Diplomacy DC 15 rolls - in which case people make a successful attempt to move out of the way 60% of the time if successful and 40% of the time if unsuccessful - or Intimidate DC 13 rolls - in which case people make a successful attempt to get out of the way 80% of the time if successful and 20% of the time if unsuccessful. Diplomacy success allows a PC to move 10 feet per round, Intimidate allows you to move 7.5 feet per round.
If the PCs jump from table to table
A Jump/Acrobatics roll is required to do this, ranging from DC 10 to DC 15. The tables are only about 5 feet apart, hence the basic DC 10 roll, but there may be people between each table. Each time a PC goes to make the jump, roll D8-3. Add this result to the Jump DC to get the roll required to miss kicking a guest in the head.
If the PCs jump from table to the chandelier and swing at the fleeing man
The chandelier is approximately 10 feet above the closest table that will allow a PC to get enough energy to swing further onwards. This requires a Jump/Acrobatics DC 16 for a medium creature and DC 48 for a short creature, as there is no run up.
If the PC swings and immediately lets go, she will travel a distance of about 20 feet over the heads of the other guests. A Tumble /Acrobatics DC 15 roll allows the PC to either land on another table or roll for the remainder of her movement allowance and finish standing upright.
If the PCs aim missile weapons or spells at him
At any given time, the man is surrounded by 1d6+1 people, and this needs to be taken into account when working out roll required to hit him.
Eventually, one of two things will happen - the PCs will reach the man, or the guards will. Read the following.
Between you and the guards, he sees he has no other options and puts up his hands.
Whilst you hold the man, the guards search him for weapons, but the only thing they find is a copper token. It is designed as a mis-shapen knife with a stylized smiling face on the length of the blade. The man surrenders himself and says nothing.
The man, Dasko Irthan, doesn’t know anything about the events, and indeed is entirely innocent of any crime here at the castle. Being a member of the Grinning Ragamuffins, however, is an offence, even for someone fairly young and impressionable, and Lord Valta’s guards will want to drag the man off. The PCs have just 5 rounds to act decisively if they wish to ask the man any questions or keep him out of the guards’ hands.
Feel free to throw in red herrings as you see fit. You can play Irthan as being full of bravado for the first 2 rounds, but he soon crumbles under pressure. He is only the lowest kind of member of the Grinning Ragamuffins, someone who knows nothing about the group and is used to deflect attention from “real members”. The guards will work this out in 1d4+1 hours, but where that leaves Irthan is another tale.
Irthan has very little information, other than about himself, his job (waiting staff), his bunk in the servants quarters, and that he got the insignia one evening when he was drunk in the Cracked Cleric, from a man slightly shorter than him, but with a cheery smile. There’s nothing else to tell, but if the PCs manage to get extra time with him, everything he knows is repeated and it can be confirmed that he is telling the truth.
If all or any of the PCs go to help Lumi, read the following:
The PCs need to protect Lumi from any further attack and the movement of the guests as they leave to room. They also need to make sure the doctor has room to treat Lumi. This requires either a Diplomacy DC 15 roll or an Intimidate DC 14 each round, although this means that any future interactions with the guests will have a -2 penalty for 1d4 days.
Lord Valta's doctor is trying to revive Lumi, to no effect. She has got very pale although her breathing, whilst shallow, remains steady. The doctor rummages in his bag and pulls out a small crystal vial and tilts Lumi's head back, forcing her to swallow a thick brown liquid.
"Your Lordship," the doctor says, "I can do nothing else for her here. I will need to examine her somewhere safe."
Lord Valta nods. "You there," he almost barks, pointing at you, "Take my daughter and the doctor to her room and keep a lookout. Guards! Take Attendant Queen Haijyin and Prince Ruhtin to their rooms. And post watchmen immediately".
If a PC with the Heal skill wishes to examine Lumi, the doctor will welcome the help.
Lumi's poisoning is the result of the five parts of the assassin vine cocktail ( dried and ground roots, pulp of the main vine, pulp of the side vines, burnt leaves, and dried berries) working together, being administered through the fumes from her candles (the burning of dried leaves within the wicks and the smoke inhaled), within her make-up (pulp of the main vine incorporated into a face cream and then absorbed through the skin), an ingredient in her food (dried and ground roots as a powder used for flavoring), seasoning for her food (dried berries crushed and mixed in with the pepper), as a coating on her cutlery (pulp of the side vines used as part of the preparation of all the cutlery so a thin film was left on the tines of her fork and blade of her knife and ingested via her food), and finally in her drink (fermented berries were dehydrated and used to coat the 2 halves of the Matching Glass. They were reactivated by the other wine). None of them show as poisonous individually, but together they are almost deadly.
Assassin Vine Cocktail poison ONLY works if it enters the body in a variety of ways - for example, if all the components are ingested, they aren’t poisonous. At least 3 methods have to be used in order for the poison to take effect. In this case, Lumi ingested, inhaled and had contact with the poison. The components themselves can come in a wide variety of formats and can be mixed and matched with the absorption method.
Due to the toxicity of this preparation, it usually takes at least 3 neutralize poison spells to save someone if they take a half-pint draft of Assassin Vine Riesling, although it is clear that even the first one begins to halt the progress of the toxins when administered. Thankfully, Lumi only took a couple of sips of wine, so although the 5 other components poisoned her, they only dropped her into a very deep slumber, even if the effect initially looked much worse. Again, the indications are that a skilled practitioner is at work, and indeed these poisons were set up by an agent of the Attendant Queen.
The players should establish where the poisons came from, interrogating various people and making connections with any previous events. The poisons on and in these items do not work in the usual way. They are a combination that only require one save as they only have an initial effect that is actually making you susceptible to the secondary effect. Nothing happens until the final trigger poison is experienced, at which time all the previous portions act at once.
The people involved in setting up Lumi's room, the food, the silverware, and the wine have absolutely no knowledge of how the assassin vine cocktail ended up in or on any of the items. In fact, no details are given here as this is almost a wild goose chase. No one has the remotest idea what the PCs are talking about even if they do discover the 5 components as the poison is so rare.
If the PCs now begin to question people:
A Diplomacy DC 15 roll or an Intimidate DC 14 each round will garner some kind of information, although use of Intimidate means that any future interactions with the guests will have a -2 penalty for 1d4 days
The responses given to questions are generally the same no matter who the PCs talk to from the guests; people have been getting ready, have been in their rooms, have been in the grounds around the castle, and so on. Any test for honesty reveal these replies are the truth, with the exception of one man who says he was alone in his room but turns out to have been drinking in a local dive bar, the Cracked Cleric. (there is a cumulative 5% chance per round of questioning this man. As GM, secretly roll percentage dice to establish in which round the PCs question him). As it happens, there is nothing sinister here; the man is an alcoholic, but has been trying to hide his condition, and the dive bar was the only place he didn’t recognize anyone. If the PCs ask locals about the bar, just about everyone gives a similar answer that describes it as a place for ne’er-do-wells. Remember, if Dasko Irthan is asked about the bar, he admits to drinking there on rare occasions. All of this means nothing in the long run, but may momentarily confuse the PCs.
Part Three: Guard Duty
Once Lumi has been secured and investigations are underway, Viscount Sihteeri approaches you again. Following on from your (“successful”, if the PCs found more than a third of the traps) attempts to make the rooms of the royal party secure, and as a gesture to placate Lord Valta by his visitors, you have been placed on guard duty and assigned to Lumi's door. He addresses you quietly.
"I value your speed, efficiency, discretion, and ability to maintain protocols. You have served the king well so far, and I hope you will continue to do so. His Majesty will almost certainly want to thank you in his own particular way.
While we still have all of the party guests..."entertained"... as the investigation is ongoing, we must maintain a certain outward face. As before, you cannot be seen wearing large, bulky or metallic armor, or wielding battlefield weapons, as this suggests a certain lack of confidence in Lord Valta’s security. You may continue to wear padding under your ceremonial outfits and carry the same weapons as before...I know, I know, these niceties could be the death of us all. Remember, King Tolkovar has worked VERY hard to bring Morsain closer under his wing, and neither he nor Prince Ruhtin want to see these new close ties ruined for the sake of your armor. I have arranged for each of you to be given a magical potion for extra protection. I will have them delivered to you once you are in position"
He produces silver whistles, one for each of you.
"A way to call the royal guards is essential, so use these if you run into a problem you can't handle. By my orders as a representative of King Tolkovar the Thirteenth, you are to make sure that no one but Lord Valta and the doctor go in and out. And you are to do this with finesse and discretion at all times. Lord Valta doesn’t want his castle ruined and Prince Ruhtin doesn’t want his first act as a married man to be to pay a huge repair bill to his new father-in-law. Good luck."
With that, you are posted outside of Lumi’s room, close to the suites of the royal guests and Lord Valta himself.
Allow the PCs to make any arrangements they like to protect the door and corridor. What they can’t do is leave this area, either physically or magically. Whatever they have available is what they can use. After about 10 minutes, a woman approaches and says she is from Viscount Sihteeri. She hands each of you a slim glass vial with a shimmering silver liquid in it. These are Shield of Faith +2 potions that will last for 3 minutes when used. Blowing the whistles will bring guards running in 1d3+3 rounds, although if the PCs have used Intimidation against any of the guards at any stage, those that arrive only help Lumi (if she is still there) rather than the PCs.
After about 20 minutes, the doctor comes out of Lumi's bedroom and informs you that he is going to pay a call on an alchemist to see if she has any potions that might help. You settle back into your routine. Half an hour later, you hear a crashing noise from inside Lumi's room.
Pause for the PCs to respond.
When you open the door, you see thousands upon thousands of bats wheeling around the room, with one large bat coming in through the now-shattered window!
This creature has a range of cuts on its forehead (Spot/Perception DC 20 through the swarms OR DC 10 when the swarms have been cleared).
The large bat moves towards Lumi and looks as if it is going to lift her into the air. If it is able to carry her to the window, it could get away.
If you wish to make the encounter a little more demanding, add in the following line. However, this can be left out.
Another of the giant bats wait outside, flapping its massive wings and clenching its claws in anticipation.
Any PC in the room who blows her whistle (a standard action) will find that the sound is muffled by the flying bats AND that she is the focus for the attack of 2 swarms during the next round.
This encounter is the second one designed to get the PCs thinking about how they deal with problems when they don’t have all their equipment to hand. With that in mind, you can make it as demanding as you wish. There can be a number of bat swarms in this room according to the list below:
CR 4 equals 2 bat swarms OR 1 bat swarm and 1 dire bat
CR 5 equals 3 bat swarms OR 2 bat swarms and 1 dire bat
CR 6 equals 4 bat swarms OR 3 bat swarms and 1 dire bat OR 2 bat swarms and 2 dire bats
CR 7 equals 6 bat swarms OR 5 bat swarms and 1 dire bat OR 4 bat swarms and 2 dire bats
CR 8 equals 8 bat swarms OR 7 bat swarms and 1 dire bat OR 6 bat swarms and 2 dire bats
The scenario could be played so that the dire bat attempting to carry off Lumi doesn’t fight back - it has enough to do with attempting to fly with the young woman in its claws - so reducing each of these Challenge Ratings by 1 is another way of using the various foe creatures.
Our suggestion is that there is 1 swarm per PC plus 1 more, and 2 dire bats, one of which doesn’t fight and only carries Lumi. If attacked and it has lost more than half its hit points, it drops Lumi and attempts to flee, using its ability to “run” whilst flying to get away as fast as possible.
There is another consideration here - the PCs aren’t meant to cause too much damage to the room and corridor, and shouldn’t cause ANY to Lumi. As the PCs attempt to deal with all the bat swarms and save Lumi at the same time, they are likely to use spells.
Therefore, part of the description each time the PCs either use missile weapons or spells that cause damage should be about the effect the item or spell has on the room and corridor. Every die of damage dealt by the PCs does 1 point of damage to the decoration of the room or corridor. The room can take 16 points of damage, the corridor 12 points of damage, before they need completely refurbishment. If either of them takes damage equal to half these totals, Lord Valta will expect to gain compensation as follows:
- 3,500 gp if one quarter of the possible damage it dealt to either area
- 8,500 gp if half of the possible damage is dealt to either area
- 14,000 gp if three quarters of the possible damage is dealt to either area
- 20,000 if the total of the possible damage is dealt to either area.
These rates are reduced from what it will actually cost to restore everything, but they are an acknowledgement of the PCs’ help. An Appraise DC 20 roll or Knowledge (nobility and royalty) DC 18 roll will confirm this.
The dire bats seem to be creatures summoned by a ranger or druid, but are in fact trained by the Attendant Queen. They attempt to grab Lumi and fly away, using the cover of the other bat swarms. If they escape with Lumi they will take her to the waiting huntsman.
When the PCs are close to the end of the fight, they nearly knock over the doctor who has returned with a curative.
If the dire bats get Lumi out of the room, the PCs will have to be quick on their feet and give chase right away in order to keep sight of the them as they fly over the city and out toward the Haunted Forest. As the doctor looks at the chaos of the aftermath of the fight, he hands the nearest PC the curative and gasps, "You must help her, she must drink this as soon as possible!" As he passes the PC the potion, he steps back, realising that he can’t see Lumi, and because of his horror at the blood and gore on the party from the fight - too much even for a medical man. Without waiting to see what has actually happened, he cries, “Prince Ruhtin must know of this!” and runs off.
If the bats escape with Lumi, jump to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 1, Over the roofs.
If the bats have been dealt with and Lumi is safe, the doctor steps forward with the curative. He forces Lumi to drink the potion, otherwise she will remain unconscious for the foreseeable future. She soon opens her eyes and wonders why you are all looking at her. The doctor rushes off to get Lord Valta and Prince Ruhtin while the PCs explain what happened. When they arrive, Valta and Ruhtin thank the PCs for their good work and politely ask them to leave the room.
If the bats have failed, jump to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 2, Guard duty.
Part Four: Chasing Lumi
Section 1: Over the roofs
As the dire bat leaves the room with Lumi in its claws, the rest of the remaining bats swarm around for 2 rounds and then are gone. This means that the direbat carrying Lumi is some distance away, as it can “run” whilst flying. Depending on what decision you have made as GM, there may be a second bat awaiting to attack the party.
This is a zig-zagging chase over the rooftops of Morsain, and out towards the forest. The dire bat, a large creature, can comfortably carry Lumi, and will be gathering speed as it does so. Whoever flies after it, and however they do it, will almost certainly need to charge after it. The dire bat will initially be flying at a height of 25 feet, but will climb 5 feet per round if possible. Unless the PCs are very quick off the mark, it will begin this chase about 100 feet ahead of them as it flies off.
If a second dire bat is involved, it will swoop down at any flying PCs and attempt to disrupt any attempts to hit the dire bat that is carrying Lumi. If any of the PCs summon aerial creatures, it will focus 2 rounds of attacks on it before flying off after the bat carrying Lumi. It will fight to the death.
If the dire bat carrying Lumi gets away, she will be left at a point that keeps her out of sight until the Huntsman can take her deeper into the forest.
Go to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 3, The Next Steps: Going After Lumi
If the creature doesn’t get away, and the aerial fight ends with dead bat everywhere all over Morsain, it will have dropped Lumi. It will also do this if it gets reduce to one quarter or fewer of its hit points and has a chance to get away. Remember, it may have already taken damage as a result of the party’s activities in Lumi’s room.
This means the PCs need to have a contingency plan to rescue Lumi as she falls from approximately anywhere between 25 and 50 feet. If not, she will find herself landing unceremoniously in a large dung heap - of which there are a good number around as heavy horses are used for many tasks in Morsain and act as transport and “machinery” in the logging and mining industries - taking up to 4d6 damage (the dung heap ‘s softness saves her from 1d6 of damage).
If Lumi is saved, everyone else will be so pleased with the situation and proud of the PCs that they will gain a +2 bonus to any Charisma-based check for 1d3+1 days when in town.
GMs note: Lumi should not be “dead and gone” at this point, but could easily be on zero hp and unconscious. The PCs will need to act very quickly. Alternatively, after the attempts on her life, Lumi has been given a healing potion of some kind and, either as she is being carried away or as she falls, the PCs see her drink it (Spot/Perception DC 15, 20 or 25 depending on how far they are away from her - making it something that happens when they are fighting the dire bat is sensible, therefore the roll will be DC 15). Lumi won’t take any damage when the dire bat is carrying her away, so she could be at full hit points as she starts to fall. The PCs may not know this, so there should be some tension in the air as she begins to drop.
As for the dung heap; well, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale without at least one amazing landing place, and a haystack isn’t likely. However, replacing it with a slow-moving hay cart is a good alternative if your players are a group that enjoys the odd amusing event within a game, whilst some may get the game reference. Have Lumi described as starting the fall in a straight position that is a result of being gripped horizontally by the dire bat, but curling up as she falls, landing on her back in the dung heap, hay cart, or whatever you use for her to land in.
Go to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 2, Guard Duty
Section 2: Guard Duty
If the PCs managed to stop the bats taking Lumi, they eventually are relieved of guard duty and can get some rest. But their troubles aren’t over , and as they wake and dress the next morning, the following takes place. If one of the PCs is out of their room or has just returned , so much the better - they are the one Prince Ruhtin points at (the abductor saw the PC outside the room and decided he would make a great disguise).
This confrontation is mere moments after Lumi’s abduction.
Early the next morning, while it is still dark, Prince Ruhtin comes pounding on your door. When you open it, you can see that he has Viscount Sihteeri and several Royal Guards with him. He looks extremely angry, his face white.
"What have you done with her," he asks with quiet menace. When you have no answer, he continues, his voice louder. "Just moments ago, Lumi was feeling better enough to go for a walk. Of course, I went with her. She has always enjoyed walks in the rain. Then you (points at a magic-using PC or one who has just returned) shoved me out of the way, pushed Lumi to the ground, grabbed her wrist and she disappeared in a puff of your magical smoke while you ran off, apparently coming back here.”
His anger is clear, and you can feel his rage building.
“And as for this!” - he uses the hand he used to point at you rip open the PC’s collar. “Where is it, where is that accursed silver insignia I saw, the one for the Grinning Ragamuffins! You want me and my family dead. But I have you, and you will tell me where she is or I will make sure you never see the light of day again!" His right hand grips the hilt of his sword.
The scroll contains a single spell of locate object that lasts 10 minutes and has a range of 800 feet.
The party will need to decide whether to: a) go after the perpetrator of the assault (who is a rogue and assassin); b) try and instantly track Lumi; c) hunt for for further clues around the castle by talking with people. The scroll will be able to find Wilhelm Jacobs inside the castle or the grove where Lumi’s ring is hidden if used outside at a point where the escaping dire bat was either last seen or where it dropped Lumi, although on the ground rather than in the air.
A. If the party goes after the perpetrator
The party can use the scroll to determine where the silver insignia is. They will find that Wilhelm Jacobs is still in the castle, in the kitchens (or a similar distance away as that between Lumi’s room and the kitchens) and they can give chase. This will involve him pushing items into the path of the PCs, so they will have to move them out the way or make the occasional Jump/Acrobatic check - that padded armor has become useful after all!
If the party find him, he will fight for a few rounds, they try and flee, dropping items that may or may not help the party (his arrows, shortbow, a slim, flexible scroll case and sword in that order), then using his Bracelet of the Mountebank.
If they happen to capture Wilhelm, he won’t talk (1d20+12 for his ability to endure Intimidation) and will allow himself to be taken away. Within a few minutes, there will be a hue and cry, and Wilhelm will be dead, poisoned by a capsule in his teeth. The PCs will find a silver insignia of the Grinning Ragamuffins around his neck and the slim, flexible scroll case tied into his long hair.
The scroll case has a simple note in it:
“She must be sent to the edge of the woods. The bracelets are attuned to the usual place. We will wait, then take.” It also has a locate object spell on it with a range of 1,000 feet and that lasts 15 minutes. It is completed with the insignia of the Grinning Ragamuffins.
Now go to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 3, The Next Steps: Going After Lumi
B. If the party goes after Lumi
The party can use the scroll to determine where her engagement band is, as this is something she should be wearing and at least on of the PCs will have seen. They will need to leave the castle and head out along the route the dire bat took, using the scroll at the point on the ground where they recovered Lumi after her fall OR where she would have landed if the PCs caught her.
The PCs find it is located in a small clearing, (Spot/Perception DC 28 or Search/Perception DC 23) resting in a dark brown velvet bag hidden in the crook of two tree branches. The Huntsman who collected Lumi has left it here to retrieve it later when the coast is clear, and return it to the castle
Once the place where Lumi was left has been located, go to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 3, The Next Steps: Going After Lumi. Wilhelm Jacobs will be long gone and not be traceable in the castle, or indeed Morsain.
C. If the party decides to question people
If the PCs start to talk to people, there is a cumulative 5% chance per round that some says they could swear a man just suddenly appeared behind them by the entrance to the kitchen. (Jacobs was moving silently, and just came around a corner, making it seem like he appeared out of thin air). Use this mechanism to keep the game moving quickly - Gather Information would take too long.
This can then allow the PCs to go looking for the perpetrator if they wish, or indeed Lumi. They will still have the scroll to use and this will give them the means to move forward in the investigation. Go to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 2, Guard Duty and have the PCs go after either Lumi or Jacobs.
However, if the PCs have already gone after jacobs and/or Lumi, questioning people won’t gain them any new, useful information. Move on to Part 4: Chasing Lumi, Section 3, The Next Steps: Going After Lumi
Section 3: The Next Steps: Going After Lumi
Whether the PCs get to this point after chasing the dire bats or tracing Lumi’s ring after Wilhelm Jacobs has kidnapped her, the action is the same.
Either the dire bat or the dimension door takes Lumi to a disguised holding area some distance outside of the lonelier side of town, and she is left there until a Huntsman hired by the attendant queen comes along. He will be there, just outside the castle, and will have done one of two things; either he will have watched the progress of the dire bats, and is ready to take Lumi away, OR if the bat is killed and Lumi rescued, he will have retreated and looks out for Lumi being sent to the agree place by Wilhelm Jacobs the next morning. Either way, as the PCs arrive at the clearing where they find Lumi’s ring, they also find evidence of horses.
The Huntsman intends to dispose of Lumi once they are deep within in the Haunted Forest and make it look like wild animals or giant vermin killed her. In the gloom, the PCs may go on a wild goose (horse) chase for a while.
The Huntsman rides off into the forest with a string of four horses behind him, which he will use to confuse any pursuers when he activates an orb of misleading (see below). He then rides off silently and invisibly, taking himself and Lumi much further into the Haunted Forest.
The four horses leave a noticeable trail in the ground and surrounding flora, and the PCs will be able to keep a trace on them in the following ways:
If you want the PCs to be close to the huntsman and his horses, they will see the following:
As you hurry along the trail to keep up with the horses, luck seeming to be working on your side as much as your sound judgment, you sense that they have stopped some way up ahead. (Listen/Perception DC 18) There are voices, one in particular, and, as you round the corner from the south west, you enter a clearing and (Spot/Perception DC 15) see at least four horses with long bundles draped over their withers. Their heads are pointing inwards, hiding the riders. Suddenly there is the sound of multiple neighs, and four riders leap from in front of their horses, vault into their saddles and ride off into the trees following trails along the cardinal compass points; due north, south, east and west. Who do you follow?!
If a tracker examines the stop-and-dismount point with a Survival DC 19 roll, she sees that there is only one definite set of boot prints amongst the imprints of 4 horses’ hooves.
The Huntsman has activated an orb of misleading, which produces 4 images as per the spell mislead, before stepping back into the trees and using his silent, greater invisible horse (silence is cast permanently on the saddle) which is wearing horseshoes of a Zephyr to get deeper into the Haunted Forest along a trail to the north east, leaving the confused PCs behind. What the PCs do next is up to them, but remember the Survival roll above. Once the PCs have been distracted by the images, the Huntsman will ride away with Lumi over his pommel.
If the PCs split and follow individual horses, they will carry the chase on as described immediately below. If they don’t take the bait and choose to look around, refer back to the Survival DC 19 check above and allow them to see where the prints lead. Once the Huntsman mounts his horse, no trail is left, which may confuse the players. They will then need to undertake further Survival checks to follow broken flora and occasional now-visible horse hair along the trail
Section 4: Woodland Chase
The PCs may choose to split up with each member of the party following a different horseman or they may choose to follow one horseman, combining their efforts to stop the horseman and retrieve the rider. Of course, initially they have no idea that the horsemen they follow are all illusions.
This will be a wild chase through the forest and should feel very frantic. Be prepared for this "mini-game" in advance and make use of miniatures, battlemats, and/or model scenery should you have them. Keep things fast paced and emulate a chase scene in a movie. Feel free to add flavor text and additional challenges to spice the scene up accordingly!
You will be using the chart below to determine the results of each PC's actions.
First, roll the % dice to determine Obstacle 1. Once the obstacle is determined the player must roll to avoid the obstacle. Failure results in minimal damage from a fall (determined by GM) and the PC is out of the chase (unless they have a spell or ability which can help them recover their lost ground quickly).
Example: GM rolls percentile dice again to determine Obstacle 1. The GM rolls a 42 and checks the chart... looks like "Root(s)" with a Reflex DC of 15. We ask the player running the party's warrior Grog, to roll a Reflex save. The player rolls a 14+2=16 and overcomes the obstacle. Were he to fail he would fall, taking minimal damage (perhaps 1-2 damage) and would be out of the chase (no longer able to participate, as in YOU FAILED GROG!) Luckily, Grog jumped over the root snag in the forest and continues following the rider!
Roll the % dice to determine Obstacle 2. Once the obstacle is determined the player must roll to avoid the obstacle. Failure results in 1d2 damage, and the PC is out of the chase (unless they have a spell or ability which can help them quickly recover their lost ground.)
At this point in the pursuit a creature (or numerous creatures) are disturbed by the ensuing chase and decide to join the action, with the PCs as their targets!
Combat does not take place yet, this is simply one more thing to distract the PCs as the monsters will be hot on their tails, and depending on their speed may in fact catch up to them!
As soon as the chase comes to an end, combat with the monster(s) will begin.
The final obstacle will be the most difficult, and while most PCs will fail this one, the very skilled and lucky may just make it to their goal. If they do continue, otherwise roll the damage as the PC tumbles to the ground and the horse gallops off into the darkness, the rider laughing a hearty laugh.
Catching the Horseman
When the PCs finally get close enough to touch the horse it vanishes into thin air, simply an illusion. The real horseman and Lumi are long gone, heading the other way as the PCs pursued the illusions through the forest.
Conclusion of Part Four
If the PCs wish to track the horseman and Lumi from their original location prior to the chase they must make their way back to where it all began. If they do so, they find no tracks, but should they choose to try harder, branch out and search the entire area they may find the following with a successful Survival DC 19 roll OR Spot/Perception/Knowledge (nature) DC 22 (if someone rolls 5 higher than this total, they have an insight that they may be following an invisible creature, if the players haven’t already guessed this).
Very few signs are visible, despite the clear snow along the trail to the north east. In fact, you are certain there are no hoof prints, yet this was the only other way out of the grove. Then, suddenly, you see it! A scuff mark on the side of a birch tree, the bark damaged. And then another sign, as a bush has had a patch of snow disturbed from it. And finally there is a little horse hair, caught on a thorny branch. You are on the right trail! But why no prints?
Two more Survival checks required along the trail, but the DC reduces by one each time due to familiarity of what you are looking for. The other methods of following the trail remain at the same level. Eventually the PCs will come to the following.
The Huntsman and Lumi rode to his chosen point, where he took a lock of her hair and a small vial of blood for evidence. This is close to the heart of the Haunted Forest, and even the Huntsman was nervous.
At this crucial point he and Lumi encountered the Seven Short Folk, each one of them a spy, who appeared from all directions, recognised Lumi as royalty and took her from the Huntsman. The Huntsman, fearing for his life and believing the short folk to be "evil spirits of the Haunted Forest" fled from the woods, having failed to kill Lumi as ordered by the Attendant Queen.
The Huntsman now returns to the castle and tells the Attendant Queen that Lumi is disposed of, giving her the vial of blood. Quite soon after he leaves her, the Attendant Queen finds out this isn’t the truth, by using her magic mirror and a drop of that same blood. Meanwhile, the Seven Short Folk are deciding how to extract maximum ransom for the girl.
Part Five: Creepy Crawlies
The PCs must return to Lord Valta and Prince Ruhtin in order to explain what has transpired.
A. After hearing the news of Lumi's capture by the mysterious Huntsman, Prince Ruhtin turns his back to the PCs and walks off in disgust, muttering:
“Traps, bats, insurgents - what next!” He spins round, more animated; “I thought I knew you, could trust you and your reputation. But I am beginning to lose faith in you and your methods!” unless they return Lumi’s ring, in which case he grudgingly acknowledges their efforts and simple says, “Do what you know you should.”
B. Lord Valta spends longer watching the PCs; he clearly is uncertain:
“You saved Lumi before, so I am not yet entirely of the same mind as the Prince, other than when he tells you to do as you should. My daughter is the future here, loved by all. Her death will reflect on you, and the entire town will remember you. Prove them wrong, and the Prince too.”
C. Viscount Sihteeri remains behind when the other two have moved off, telling the PCs that whilst he acknowledges there was almost certainly nothing more the PCs could do, doing nothing isn’t an option.
“Go back, right this wrong. Is it your doing? Perhaps not directly, I cannot tell to be honest, but trust has been placed in you and you have proved your worth only when the going has been straightforward. At the first sign of difficulty it seems you have not repaid the trust placed in you, by the Prince, Attendant Queen Haijyin or Lord Valta. And most importantly, Lumi. I’m sure you will come to the right decision.”
D. The Attendant Queen Haijyin wishes to speak with the PCs further. After hearing of the chase and description of the mysterious Huntsman her eyes widen. She informs the group that just such a man apparently lives a short way off the town boundary, and that he often visits the castle to assist with "pest control" within the castle proper. The last time he was in the castle, two days ago, the queen recalls him being quite enamored with Lumi, as Lumi went to the kitchens when he was there and he presented himself quite openly to her.
"You say that you saw this Huntsman spirit Lumi away. The huntsman who often visited the castle apparently has a cabin just outside the town. I want you to go and see if you can find him. Arrest him and bring him to me. Take my this badge, you now have the full authority of His Majesty the King and my position as Attendant Queen."
The Huntsman's Cabin
There is a single dirt path that leads to the Huntman's cabin. The cabin itself is a simple, one-story building with a steep roof and walls made of timbers stained to help protect from the cold, there are no windows. A rooster and several hens cluck occasionally from a pen to the left of the front door.
Along the walkway from the path to the door, there are two beds of dark colored flowers of various types, now covered in snow but with the odd bloom just showing through. A small chimney is blackened from soot, but produces no smoke at the moment.
A short ways behind the cabin is a small, outbuilding that houses the Huntsman's wagon.
GM’s note: The full details of the Huntsman aren’t given here as he is about to be assassinated by Attendant Queen Haijyin’s summoned centipedes. However, some roll results have been given in order to influence result of the way the PCs approach the cabin and the subsequent interaction.
The PCs have been sent by the Attendant Queen to bring the huntsman back to the castle. As they approach they spot him pushing his wagon into a small outbuilding. He is just wearing his standard work clothes, rather than any armor, and looks for all of Klavek as if he is a farm laborer. How the PCs wish to approach the Huntsman is up to them.
A Stealthy Approach
If they use stealth, the Huntsman makes a Listen/Perception DC 21 roll followed by a Spot/Perception DC 24 roll.
If the Huntsman fails to hear or see the party, he carries on with his task and can approach the building and surprise him.
If he hears the party but doesn’t spot them, he reaches for his battleaxe, which resting on top of the cart, and backs towards the out-building wall.
If he sees the party (with or without hearing them) he grabs his battleaxe and calls out, “You, all of you, I see you there! Come out and talk - what is there to fear?”
An Open Approach
If they approach him in the open and declare their mission, he will heft up his battleaxe and prepare to fight to the death. He knows the Attendant Queen and her ways; if he is captured she will surely have him executed. At the same time, if he reveals his part in the kidnapping of Lumi he will also be executed, albeit by a different figure of authority.
At this point the huntsman just wants his freedom and was actually making good to undertake a journey away from here and head deep into the wilderness, away from civilization for ever. A Spot/Perception DC 15 or Sense Motive DC 13 roll reveals an air of desperation in his tone, whilst a separate Spot/Perception DC 18 roll sees that his horse has a number of loaded saddle-bags across its withers.
Arresting the Huntsman
Whether the PCs decide to parlay with the Huntsman, or whether they decide to charge in, they find that just as the group moves to engage with the Huntsman, he is suddenly surrounded by 5 vicious albino centipedes, which seemingly appear from a large sack on the ground. The creatures could not have fit inside without the use of magic. There are no tracks in the snow around the bag, making this a very strange occurrence indeed!
Regardless of which way the PCs handle this situation, the huntsman almost certainly dies and they will be left to deal with the albino centipedes.
In a flash, five immense centipedes appear out of nowhere, placing themselves in a circle around the Huntsman, preventing you from reaching him. 2 turn and face towards you, their pincers clacking ominously, whilst 3 attack the Huntsman. He is surprised, as he was concentrating on you, and it looks like the centipedes have hit home, and hard. The 2 facing you move in menacingly, soo followed by the first 3 to attack the Huntsman
A Spot/Perception DC 20 roll reveals that he has been caught by surprise.
GMs note: The 3 facing the Huntsman all strike him on the surprise round, causing damage and poisoning him. On the next round, they gain the initiative and all hit him well enough to cause damage again, as well as poisoning him. The Huntsman has lost 2 (6d3) Dexterity and 6d6-6 hp (27) - he goes rigid and fall to the ground, as his Dex is 14 and he has 27 hp when fully healed. He dies the next round, as he has his throat further ripped out by the centipedes and bleeds to death. After this, they approach the party and do all they can to hinder the PCs.
Once the fight with the centipedes is over, the PCs will find the huntsman laying dead not too far from the battleground.
If the Huntsman Survives
If caught, the huntsman claims he is completely innocent and ignorant of the goings on (Bluff DC 18). He has been implicated due to the disguise of the kidnapper earlier.
Sense Motive DC 19 reveals he is lying, whilst Spot/Perception DC 22 notices a bag that is the same as the one found in the crook of the tree, and is not on the belt of the Huntsman
He claims to have been away from home doing trade with alchemists and healers that he supplies with ingredients. He returned home to find a lock of hair attached to his door. He placed this in his pocket to deal with later.
If the Huntsman Dies
If the PCs attempt to speak with dead, or any other spells which lend insight into the unfolding mystery, the spells fail. The Huntsman is not interested in talking with them and his means of death have propelled his spirit quite swiftly into the afterlife. The Huntsman cannot be brought back from the dead. Lumi is also well out of range of spells such as locate person or locate object.
Back at the Castle
The PCs may be able to determine that the Huntsman had a close association with the rare albino centipedes through a little investigative research (Gather Information DC 18). If anyone other than royalty is questioned within the castle, there is a 20% cumulative chance per person questioned that they will reveal some important information to the PCs. It seems that the Huntsman was hired on occasion to visit the castle and conduct pest control. He was frequently seen heading toward the old catacombs, an abandoned area underneath the castle. If the PCs investigate they are directed to a large stone door at the base of the castle.
The Castle Catacombs
The door which opens into the castle catacombs has a (Spot/Perception DC 8) strange symbol drawn upon it with charcoal and chalk, yet it stays in place no matter what. It looks like some kind of puzzle. A couple sticks of drawing chalk (Search/Perception DC 13) rest in a small opening in the wall, just beside the door itself. The puzzle is magic (Detect Magic DC 17 reveals faint abjuration - arcane lock) and was placed here by one of the resident royal wizards to keep folks out of this part of the castle. Unless the "puzzle" is solved, the door will not open. The Huntsman knew the solution, having worked here on many occasions.
"A single line, one must make, no start, no finish, and no break. But wait, a moment, for we're not done, for through every circle a line must run."
Once the puzzle has been solved, and the door has been opened, read the following:
You enter a chamber blanketed with dusty cobwebs, twisting corridors jut off in all directions. Swarms of centipedes roam side corridors, whilst the parents that spawned them creep about in the deepest darkest sections of the catacombs.
The centipedes and their offspring seem to resent your intrusion.
After defeating a few of the creatures and searching about (Search/Perception DC 14) the PCs find the decayed remains of many of these vermin strewn about the cobweb covered catacombs. If there is a ranger in the party they may roll a Spot/Perception DC 12 check to reveal that giant centipedes were killed by the strokes of a battleaxe. The wounds are so precise, only someone very skilled, with expert precision, could have killed these creatures so efficiently. A ranger that has decided to rid the world of vermin is able to strike them more accurately and effectively in this way.
If there is no ranger present, a druid receives a Spot/Perception DC 14 to notice the cleanness of the kill, whilst any other martial party member may roll a Spot/Perception DC 18 to reveal that only a specialist with prior knowledge of weak points and vital organs would have slayed these creatures in such a manner.
Prints in the Dust
If the party spends more than 1 hour searching and exploring the catacombs they will locate a set of prints (Spot/Perception DC 18) that appear to be made by someone with small feet, a child or a gnome or halfling. The prints appear out of nowhere, move a few paces through the dust and stop where an empty rucksack rests upon the floor. The tracks vanish here and appear nowhere else within the catacombs. A Spot/Perception DC 27 OR Survival DC 22 determines that the tracks are very recent (within the past 24 hours).
These tracks were left by the Attendant Queen herself who used a dimension door to access the catacombs. Using her knowledge of summoned creatures, she identified some of the giant centipedes as extraplanar that had been left in the catacombs, and stuffed them into a sack, leaving it in one particular room. She then quickly exited the same way she entered. The Queen had planned on charming the centipedes and planting them within the Huntsman's cabin to eliminate him while he slept, thus preventing him from testifying against her should any of her ill deeds come to light. After the PCs returned to her with knowledge of the Huntsman's involvement she knew she had to accelerate her plans and quickly summoned the bag of albino centipedes as close to the Huntsman as she could.
Outside the Catacombs
Additional questioning of the castle guards (Gather Information DC 15 - remember any bonuses or penalties from the way the PCs treated the guards earlier) reveals that the strange albino centipedes rarely leave the gloom of the old catacombs [Knowledge (nature ) or (dungeoneering) DC 20] , and have never been seen in the castle proper or in the surrounding countryside. The Huntsman has always worked hard to keep their numbers down so they did not become a threat, plus the flaying of the beasts seemed to give him an outlet for his sometimes dominating anger. Although a small clue, it is a clue; the albino centipedes were “planted”, the huntsman was murdered.
If the PCs have questioned the guards, then they will have attracted the attention of numerous snipers who deftly roam the rooftops of Morsain town. The snipers wait for the PCs to pass along the open sides of the castle, step onto a balcony, or exit the castle to walk around town (their favorite option) before making their attack. They do so quickly and then withdraw before the PCs may follow.
After the snipers have been dealt with or have vanished into the shadows, you return to the castle to report on what you have discovered, handing the lock of Lumi's hair (from the Huntsman) to the Prince. Ruhtin, seething with anger, demands to know what can be done.
Attendant Queen Haijyin explains that she has a magical device in her chambers that might allow Lumi to be found, if she can use the lock of hair. Prince Ruhtin relents and hands the treasure over gently, keeping a few strands for himself, as if handling it roughly will harm Lumi directly. Haijyin bows at her goddess-son and walks off to her chambers.
Lord Valta speaks to you. "You have had multiple chances to recover my daughter and at each turn, she has been snatched away from us again. Prince Ruhtin believes that you are involved in this kidnapping and that these momentary triumphs are nothing more than raising false hope, so that when she is ransomed, we will pay whatever you demand, or if she is killed, it will be all that more devastating to us."
Prince Ruhtin looks like he wants to order you off to be beheaded, but he says nothing.
"I do not believe this," Lord Valta continues. "At least, not yet. If the Attendant Queen can indeed locate my daughter, you will be given one last chance to bring her back. If you succeed, then you will be allowed to leave here with your lives - and perhaps our thanks as a reward, despite all we have been through. If you fail, do not come back. But know this; always looking over your shoulder will be the wisest action you could take. The love of a father is nothing compared to the power of a Lord of the Klavek Empire."
There is an incredibly uncomfortable silence that hangs over the throne room until Haijyin returns. "Lord Valta! Prince! I have found her. She is in the Haunted Forest, and at least for now, alive and unharmed."
"They will go and retrieve her," Lord Valta says. "They will bring her back, both alive and unharmed."
"I understand, Lord Valta. Follow me," Haijyin says. "I have magic that will take you to Lumi's location."
Haijyin will take the PCs to a room she uses as her "working" room and produce a scroll of teleport. She has seen the Seven Small Folk keeping Lumi, but says nothing about them, as she hopes that either the PCs will die in the Haunted Forest or that the PCs will engage the Seven Small Folk and Lumi will get caught in the crossfire. Haijyin understands that the Haunted Forest is unpredictable and is willing to send the PCs into it in hopes of getting rid of them.
Haijyin and her room disappear from view and for an instant, you are in pitch blackness, just before you catch a glimpse of a dark forest covered in snow, which is still gently falling from the sky. The forest seems to spin all around you, and as the magical darkness around you fades, you find yourself standing upon a small, snow covered animal path, which meanders through the woods. A frigid cold bites at your face as the wind picks up and snow begins to come down quite hard. A silence falls over the woods, though you find it far from comforting. There is no sign of Lumi, Seven Short Folk, or anything in the least bit comforting...
To Be Continued
The PCs have been transported directly into the heart of the Haunted Forest, and will continue their search for Lumi in Snow White - Part Two.