Sufferhorn orcs, cover art, and inspiration for this adventure by Scott Ackerman
Table of Contents
- The Sufferhorn Orcs
- Adventure Background
- Adventure Synopsis
- Adventure Hooks
- Sufferhorn Castle
- Map of Sufferhorn Castle
- 1. Path to Castle
- 2A. Front Door
- 2B. Former Chapel
- 2. Burnt and Gutted Interior
- 3. Stairs
- 4. Entry to the Great Hall
- 5. Balcony
- 6. The Great Hall
- 7. Archer's Aerie
- 8. Former armoury
- 9. Slaughterhouse
- 9a. Closet
- 10. Dolaken's Chamber
- 11. Harveken's Chamber
- 11a. Harveken's Retreat
- 11b. Harvenken's Rescue
- Player Map
The Sufferhorn Orcs
The Sufferhorn Orcs are the ruling clan of all orc, ogre, and troll tribes in Gorrok Empire. They are led by the War-chief Kronak Butcherblade who raised the Sufferhorn tribes to conquer all those of lesser strength at the legendary Gorrok Point, which is Orcish for "Kill" (Gor) "Pit" (Rok) or Killpit. The site of their now mighty empire was dubbed as such after Kronak's unstoppable Sufferhorn clansmen and women slaughtered the leaders and members of those lesser tribal armies before stacking the bodies under a mound they would start to build their empire on. This site acted as a brutal warning to any tribe that would attempt to rise up against Butcherblade and his kin. That mound is the "Killpit" or Gorrok. Since then, weaker tribes have been established by lesser known war-chiefs, all of whom pledge loyalty to Kronak. They do so by backing any campaign he declares and by producing some integral element that strengthens the orc forces. Two of these lesser tribes are the Grindblok Tribe, which makes some of the best axes in the land, and the Boarhut Tribe, which trains dire boar to be ridden into battle.
The Sufferhorn tribe has now started to invade northern Yolhaven in order to expand its empire. It has done so by setting up small encampments in mountain caves and other hidden dwellings that slowly allow them to build up supplies and forces until they are ready to launch a guerrilla attack on unsuspecting towns. The Yols are simple farming folk and are not prepared to deal with heavily-armed orc forces. A call has gone out to adventurers who would help in a campaign to find these orc warrens, so that people of Yolhaven can live without fear of being attacked.
Sufferhorn Orcs stand taller than an average orc at 2 meters even when hunched over. Their heavy, compact frames can wield greataxes and troll clubs with ease. Some can even dual-wield without being slowed down by the nearly double handed size of their weapons. Sufferhorn Orcs are most well known for their long horns which they only cut when they are defeated in battle, with the length of the horns signifying how long a warrior is undefeated, as well as the higher his or her rank in the tribe. The Sufferhorn Orcs are the only orcs that are allowed to grow beards and full hair on their heads. Most orcs keep their hair tied back or rolled in a bone ornament or matted back with bone marrow, leaving their hair glistening as though it were in a clear jelly. Self scarification is extremely popular and is felt to be the one true way orcs can show their loyalty to the Empire of Gorrok, Kronak and the whole of the Sufferhorn Clan. This scarification is done in the Orcish language and often reveals pledges to Kronak or the Empire of Gorrok. Individual pledges are done either through fire branding or by cutting and then sealing the wounds with Jakkor root, which turns a scarred wound dark red - a color that contrasts well with their dark green and grayish-green skin color.
A group of war-mongering orcs, ogres, and trolls, led by Dolaken Boarhut, cousin of Kronak Butcherblade, has moved in on the unsuspecting human occupants of the small Mosshammer castle. Talks of war have been brewing among the orcs for over a year now, and Dolaken hopes to be the catalyst which begins the fire to extinguish the weak "non-green skins". Dolaken sees this castle as a strategic location and has claimed it as his own. He has also declared himself lord over this castle and the realm, now renamed "Castle Sufferhorn".
The PCs are besought by Irnaun Withail to take back Mosshammer Castle from the wretched Boarhut tribe of orcs. The money he would normally use for payment is in the castle. He offers the PCs what treasure is left in the castle as payment for their services.
Approaching the castle will force the PCs to confront a group of valiant undead guardians which may be dispatched through combat or diplomatic wisdom.
Nearing the castle, the PCs must take care not to be spotted by the orcs inside. Either the PCs will be spotted, and the alert sound, or the PCs may sneak in using a number of stealthy methods.
After getting inside the castle the PCs find a burnt and gutted interior guarded by dire boars and ogres.
The PCs battle their way to the top of the castle, fighting the core of the Boarhut orc tribe.
Finally, the PCs confront the leader of the tribe and his brother, both of whom present a significant challenge.
Once cleaned out, the PCs must make certain to secure the castle lest it be retaken by another local enemy. This must be done before handing the keys over to Irnaun Withail back at the local town.
The party is hired by Irnaun Withail, the former keeper of Mosshammer Castle, now Sufferhorn Castle. He wishes to return to the castle and restore honor to the Mosshammer name, but the orcs are preventing it. He will provide the PCs with one item of their choice: a potion of extra healing, a book on the tactics of the Boarhut tribe, or a banner of Castle Mosshammer. The potion of extra healing may be used as normal, the book of tactics will give any PCs which read it (6 hours) a +2 bonus on initiative in any skirmish with the Boarhut tribe, and the banner will help the PCs bypass the skeletal soldiers barring entry to the castle. Remember: The PCs may only choose one item; Withail will explain that he needs to keep the other two in case the party fails and he needs to recruit and equip another band of adventurers.
Aside from the main quest to remove the Boarhut Orcs from the castle, the party is also hired privately by Onalit Chetug. Onalit is an elderly priest who wishes to have a sacred relic from the chapel in Sufferhorn Castle. In reality, Onalit Chetug is a con man and rogue, seeking a treasure that is hidden in the chapel that was taken from him and placed there for safe keeping. He has the key to a box hidden somewhere in the chapel.
The first floor of the castle is a burnt remnant of what the castle once was. When the Boarhut orcs attacked the castle, they smashed in the front door and lobbed in glass flasks that they had found during another raid. When one of the members tried drinking the liquid inside the flask, the rest of the tribe learned that whatever was in the flasks (alchemist fire) burned without end, until it ran out of things to burn. The human defenders of the castle didn't stand much of a chance. They were either burned inside or they were slaughtered as they ran out from the burning keep to escape the flames. Once the conflagration stopped, the orcs went so far as to stab and smash many of the skeletons that remained so that they didn't rise as undead. Most of the occupants that perished inside the castle are now decorations for the orcs; the burnt, blackened skeletons are pinned to the wall with cruel barbed spikes. The rest, as well as those that ran outside, are lined up in two rows, remaining the castle's guardians. The ogres and the troll are content to stay in the burnt out interior of the first floor.
The only significant part of the first floor to escape burning was the chapel.
The second floor was also spared from burning and is now home to Dolaken Boarhut, who resides in room 10. While the opulence of the original decor is now damaged, the pieces remain. On the walls of the second floor are painted portraits of the castle's former occupants, but they have been slashed, knocked crooked, and are defaced with various best-not-investigated substances.
Dolaken's brother and lieutenant, Harveken, claimed room 11 for his own. The rest of the tribe of orcs stays in room 6, the Main Chamber.
Map of Sufferhorn Castle
1. Path to Castle
A dirt path leads from the lowlands up to Sufferhorn Castle. As the path crests a rise, it is apparent this castle has recently been host to a siege. The windows on the first floor are all broken out and black streaks trail up the walls above each window, evidence that a large fire once tore through the interior. The knights that died protecting this castle are now situated in two large stacks on either side of the path, driven onto two long, sharpened poles by the Boarhut tribe. Most of the corpses have had their flesh and muscle picked clean by carrion birds. These skeletons were placed here by Harveken Boarhut, using a scroll he found which contained a spell called placate spirit. This allowed him to use the undead as guardians for his tribe. However, the spirits of these guardians are still loyal to Castle Mosshammer.
As the PCs move past, the skeletons on the two poles begin to twitch and struggle, finally breaking free of the poles in 1d2 rounds. Once free, the skeletons converge on the PCs, clacking their jaws and pulling at the ragged remains of their clothes. The skeletons are permanently bound to protecting the castle and will not allow anyone to approach any closer. They are attempting to warn the PCs to stay away, and should a speak with dead spell be cast, the undead will continually scream, "Stay away from Mosshammer Castle!" They provide no other information and cannot answer the PCs questions.
If the PCs approach the castle doors the mob of skeletal soldiers will attack. If the banner of Castle Mosshammer is carried, or if the name Irnaun Withail is called out to the skeletal soldiers, they will cease their attack and allow the PCs to pass unharmed. Irnaun Withail is the former keeper of Mosshammer Castle to which the skeletons owe allegiance. If a PC both carries the banner and demonstrates allegiance to Irnaun Withail, the skeletons will follow the PCs inside the castle and assist them in combat against the Boarhut tribe.
If the PCs wish to do some recon before entering the castle, they may attempt to locate a good hiding place either among some scrub brush in the plains just south of the approaching path, or in the swamp lands to the east of the castle. Watching the castle for 24 hours reveals that a hunting party leaves the castle a couple hours before sunset and returns at dusk with numerous fresh kills from the nearby swamp. This hunting party leaves and returns at practically the same time every night and can be ambushed near the swamp without the occupants of the castle becoming immediately aware. If the PCs are able to kill the orcs and don their equipment they could attempt to sneak into the castle and at least gain the upper-hand in the first combat scenario should they think wisely about it.
Spotted by the Orcs
If the PCs are engaged in combat in area 1 the orcs hear the commotion and become alerted to their presence. Within 2 rounds, 1d4+8 orcs begin to fire arrows from the windows (area 7) on level two of the castle and the balcony (level 5) gaining a +2 to hit due to their vantage point and higher ground on the PCs. The rest of the orcs will be alerted and prepare for the arrival of the PCs, which will make for a difficult assault on the interior of the castle.
If the PCs remain in area 1 for more than five minutes, there is a 80% chance they will be spotted during the daytime and a 40% chance they will be spotted at night. These checks increase cumulatively by 10% for every additional minute the PCs remain in area 1.
The castle is protected by two sets of wooden double doors. One allows entry directly to the charred Great Hall of the first floor (area 2), the other enters the Chapel (area 2B). All of the doors are twice the standard thickness as well as enhanced by magic for an extra layer of protection. A huge orcish waraxe now hangs above the main entry doors (to 2A) and is poised to fall should anyone attempt to touch the door. When an orc warrior chooses to leave the castle he holds a shield above his head to block the falling axe and then carefully replaces it upon re-entry.
2A. Front Door
One ogre out of the three will always be on guard here. If he hears the skeletons outside the door, he will use a sliding plate to look outside and see what is causing the commotion. If he sees trouble coming, he will warn the other two ogres. Any sounds of combat will bring the nearest orcs, who will appear in 1d4 rounds.
2B. Former Chapel
The remains of the chapel are damaged, both from the orcs and ogres, not to mention the dire boars. The boars have been here for several weeks, leaving the room smelling like the very worst pig droppings. The odour is foul in the enclosed room, requiring a DC 18 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1d4 minutes.
Nauseated: Creatures with the nauseated condition experience stomach distress. Nauseated creatures are unable to attack, cast spells, concentrate on spells, or do anything else requiring attention. The only action such a character can take is a single move actions per turn.
Upon the dais, under where the pulpit used to be, is a small wooden case hidden in the floor. A DC 20 Perception/Search check is required to find the box among the debris from the pulpit. The box is locked and Onalit has the key. A DC 25 Perception/Spot check will notice that the box is trapped.
The exterior door to what used to be the castle's chapel has been barred from the inside and is blocked with the remnants of pews piled up against the door. This is to keep the chapel's new residents, a small herd of dire boars, from getting out.
The door to the chapel from the inside of the castle is barred from the outside, to keep the boars in. Next to this interior door, a once beautiful cabinet has been damaged and is leaning against the wall on three legs. The shelves of the cabinet hold half a dozen stoppered, liquid-filled bottles. If these bottles are opened, the smell is salty and musky. Each bottle has a label. If any of the party members reads Orcish, the label reads "pig sweat."
These bottles are used to make the male boars more aggressive, as the smell of the sweat brings out the territorial nature of the boars. When thrown on a target, the boars will attack that specific target.
2. Burnt and Gutted Interior
The four ogres that venerate Dolaken Boarhut live on the ground floor of the castle in what was once the Great Hall. Mattress and piles of straw litter the floor along with the remains of food and drink. These ogres follow the lead of Dolaken Boarhut not out of respect, but out of fear of Dolaken's brother, Harveken, who has a mystical control over them.
These spiral stairs are wide enough to allow two humans or one orc or one ogre to move up or down. The stairs themselves are chipped in places and are scored in others. There is nothing unusual about these stairs. The top of these stairs is out of view of the ogre at the entry to the Great Hall.
4. Entry to the Great Hall
The lone ogre that guards this area is more alert than his kin at the front door of the castle due to the proximity of Harveken Boarhut. He stands facing the stairs. He uses the hallway from the stairs as a choke point to hold off invaders. If combat ensues, he will bellow and the archer(s) from 11 will join in the defense of the Great Hall. Harveken will join in 2 rounds and Dolaken will join in 4 rounds.
The balcony is a place of punishment for the orcs. Those that are caught shirking duty, not displaying orc-like behavior, running from the "demon sheep" (see room 9), or simply by Dolaken's whim, are sent to the balcony, where they must stand guard in the sun, without food or water, for one full day. As the balcony is, at most, 30 feet wide on one side, this job is boring, even without the withholding of food.
Treat any guards on the balcony as having a -1 penalty to Initiative, Perception/Spot checks, and attack rolls.
6. The Great Hall
The Great Hall is a majestic sight to behold. Careful consideration was taken to construct this room as the focal point of the castle. The room itself is built from stone, but an old, partially burnt walkway skirts the wall about fifteen feet above the floor. Fine works of art decorate the walkway and are in each of the four corners, one has been spoiled with Orcish graffiti scrawled in blood and only legible to those well versed in the language. The words "ALL HUMANZ R DIEZ" have been written by one of the more learned of the group. The walkway is very unstable and the stairs which once led there have been burnt in a fire and destroyed. There are no other visible ways to reach the walkway.
A grand fireplace takes center stage in the room, large enough to use as a great oven. There are still some chairs set up facing the fireplace where the adults once told the children stories before bed. There are blood stains on the ground where the former occupants of this castle were slain when the orc troops stormed in. It is quite apparent that the orcs spared nothing and no-one. The pelts of the family dogs, beloved of the children, hang to dry near the fireplace whilst filthy and stinking orcs rock in rocking chairs, warming themselves and laughing next to the fire.
A grand dining table nearby has become a dumping ground for half eaten food, gore-stained weapons, and empty flagons. Two barrels of ale rest nearby, completely emptied of their contents.
The orcs in this room are the primary force holding the castle. They have consumed much of the food and all of the ale and now grow restless, prepared to move on and loot the next human settlement. Their leader, however, has sternly reminded them who is in charge and declared that they are to remain here and hold this castle for the time being. Whilst none of the orcs actually dares to confront their leader, none of them are happy about the arrangement either. A couple more weeks here and the tribe just may turn on their leader and his capable brother.
7. Archer's Aerie
This room is used in defense of the castle during times of combat.
There is always one orc stationed here, with room for a second archer if needed. From outside the castle, it is difficult to see the orc through the narrow arrow slits. The orc(s) in this room will fire arrows at targets they can see while shouting a warning to the rest of the guards. Once the targets have passed where the archers can attack with bows, they will drop their ranged weapons and move to room 4 to help guard Stairwell 3.
So far, the orcs are unaware of the secret door that leads to the former armory.
One of the bricks of the north wall, when pushed inward, releases a latch for the secret door, allowing access to the armory. The lower half of the wall is covered in green moss, with the secret brick covered in a slightly different colored fake moss. A DC 25 Perception/Search check is required to see the difference in color.
8. Former armoury
This room was used by the archers from room 7 when their normal missiles seemed to be ineffective against attackers. Inside the secret door is a small pool of dried blood. The door itself has a version of the arcane eye spell cast upon it to allow someone inside this room to see room 7.
The former armory used to contain several quivers of +1 arrows and several +1 bows of distance, as well as a rack magical swords and hooks for magical shields. The small closest held half a dozen suits of +1 leather armor. Sadly, most of these items were used up in defense of the castle or damaged and not repaired before the Sufferhorn Orcs assaulted the castle.
Now, there is only one quiver of 12 +1 arrows. Two bows might still be of use, but they have been broken and repaired, so they are no longer magical. The magical swords are in disrepair, but one shield still retains its magical properties. This is a shield of arrow deflection.
In the closest, there are suits of leather armor in various states of disrepair. One suit, however, is intact enough to retain its +1 bonus.
In the bottom of the closest is a skeleton dressed in a ruined suit of leather armor, sitting in broken glass, dried blood and an odd colored liquid stain. A DC 15 Heal check shows that the collarbone and the top two ribs are broken by a large, sharp bladed weapon. This skeleton is one of the former interior defenders of the castle. Upon taking what he knew was a mortal blow, he retreated into the secret room and closed the door to hide. A second DC 15 Heal check or a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check will discover that the odd colored liquid is a spoiled healing potion.
The stench of blood and the buzzing of numerous flies fills this room. What used to be the bath has been turned into a blood drain as animals and enemies are brought here to be slaughtered. Hooks that used to hold towels and robes now hold knives and axes of various sizes and shapes. The two doors on the north wall have nothing of any significance hanging on them. The closet to the right houses primitive sharpening tools and leftover towels used to wipe blades clean.
There are stories that circulate around the orcs that the spirits of goats and sheep that have been slaughtered haunt this room and more than one orc that has gone into the room to butcher the day's kills has coming screaming out of the room, babbling about "herds of demon sheep." Dolaken and Harveken have never seen this so they do not believe it and any orc that behaves in this manner is publicly humiliated by being sent to the balcony.
The odour in this room is retch-inducing. This closet is lined with chunks of meat cut off of numerous animals and various enemies. Some have been here long enough to rot and mold.
10. Dolaken's Chamber
What was once a ruler's bedroom has become a pit of sloth. The king-sized feather bed remains in the room, but the frame has been broken and the mattress lay in the ruins. An armoire that used to hold regal finery is now beaten up and has large chunks missing out of it, with the former clothes scattered around the room, dirty and worthless. Bones and rotting animal parts have been tossed haphazardly around the room, creating an unpleasant aroma.
Not much of value is kept in this room because Dolaken, being marginally intelligent, knows that his room would be where someone seeking riches would look. Instead, he keeps the riches of the tribe in room 11a.
11. Harveken's Chamber
Harveken Boarhut is a strange orc. While most take to combat with ease, Harveken found his way into magic. However, being an orc, he uses his magical abilities to bully others. Currently, Dolaken has his brother using his magic to keep the ogres in line. Harveken relishes in this, because the ogres are much bigger than he is, but they do what he says.
Harveken thinks that because of his innate magical abilities he is superior to the average orc. Because of his superiority, he shows that he is above the wanton destruction of that same average orc. His bedroom is still mostly intact from when he took it over. The bed still sits on its frame, even if the frame creaks when he lay down on it. The dresser is mostly intact (he is still an orc after all), holding the finery of the previous inhabitant. On top of the dresser, Harveken keeps a small collection of skulls of those that he has defeated in magical combat.
11a. Harveken's Retreat
This room contains three treasure chests, each is trapped and holds treasure.
This chest was already here when the orcs seized Mosshammer Castle. None of the orcs have been brave enough to open the chest, but Harveken has spent some time observing the portrait on the wall, and the chest in an attempt to understand the purpose of the magic behind this trap and how to disable it.
11b. Harvenken's Rescue
This door has a mechanism which locks and bars the door with a single swift action once inside the room. Harvenken keeps this room stocked with protective and healing potions and oils he has found in his travels. As a last resort, Harvenken will retreat here if failing in combat.
When the party has managed to either kill or run off this section of the Boathut Tribe, they can report back to Irnaun Withail, who will lead a team to Mosshammer Castle to reclaim it. Any treasure that is found is the PCs to keep, and they will always be welcome at Mosshammer if they ever need a place to make camp.
If the PCs have bargained with Onalit Chetug and have returned with the chest, he pays them a fee of 20 silver pieces each, but refuses to say what the relic is inside the case.
If the PCs have bargained with Onalit Chetug and have returned without the chest, he thanks them for doing their best, pay them 5 silver pieces apiece, and mumbles about finding "better adventurers next time."
If the PCs found the note in the chimney and return it to Carolyn, the will receive 10 silver pieces and a treasure map.
Leaving the Castle Unattended
If the party chooses to leave Mosshammer Castle without leaving anyone to safeguard it, there is always the chance that another group of orcs (or enemy of the GM's choice) could taken possession of the castle in their absence. This act of poor judgement on the PC's part could jeopardize their reward and cause further hardship and discontent in the region. A shift of power could be inevitable and the PCs may be to blame. If both the orcs and the townsfolk are against the PCs, where will they turn?