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Twin Crossings Extra Content #1 – Encounter at the Burned Mill

burned millEncounter at the Burned Mill

A bead of sweat appeared on Lev’s brow as the towering half-orc leaned in, its breath heavy with garlic. “Boss says, time to pay soon mulebrains!. You better come up with his gold next time he sends me around.”

Lev Valiery is an animal breeder and occasional trader undergoing hard times. His recent investment in a mill was lost when the building caught fire. The mill itself suffered minor damage, but the grain store next door was totally consumed. Only the knowledge that his mules will be in demand in a few short weeks (for sale to caravan masters) has kept his creditors at bay. Valiery hopes that salvaging any intact machinery may provide some relief to his current pecuniary plight.


Note: This is the first in a series of six posts of bonus content for the adventure Twin Crossings (available at in the store and as a web adventure/pdf download for subscribers). This encounter (and the sidequests in subsequent posts) can also be run as a stand-alone whenever you need a quick encounter or adventure for your gaming group.

If you are adding this encounter to Twin Crossings, it takes place in Cherr’s Landing in Scene 8. PCs may spend one speed point to attempt the salvage, and earn one or two trade points depending on their success.

PCs learn of Valiery’s plight when they gather information on entry to Cherr’s Landing with a DC 23 Knowledge (local) check, or if they discover his agenda when they interview potential caravan masters (Encounter 8-D Hiring the Caravan).

If you want all of the bonus content for Twin Crossings in one shot search for the tags “Lost Battalion” and “Burned Mill”, and you will find them all here on the AaWBlog!


The Burned Mill (CR 5)

Read the following aloud as the PCs travel down the road

A few hours march upriver stands an abandoned mill. Minor fire damage is visible on the tower structure of the mill; the outbuildings have been completely destroyed. The charred stumps of timber framing claw desperately at the sky.  Holes where vertical timbers and fence posts once stood riddle the yard.

The mill’s site suffers from an infestation of fire beetles and arson beetles (a variation on the bombardier beetle that shoots fire instead of acid). The holes in the yard warn of a possible vermin infestation with a DC 12 Knowledge (nature) check.

Trap: The gearing and machinery inside the mill tower are salvageable. Some of the connections were damaged in the fire—the assembly is unstable.
Falling Machinery Trap CR 3
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect Atk +15 melee (2d4+6)

fire beetleCreatures: The trap takes 5 rounds to disarm. The fire beetles scurry up out of cracks in the floor 2 rounds after someone begins tinkering with the trap (or sets it off). Once the beetles appear, it is impossible to take 10 on the trap, requiring anyone already doing so to roll theirDisable Device check or disengage—disengaging from disarming the trap (for any reason) sets it off. The arson beetle appears 2 rounds after the fire beetles, punching up through fire weakened floor beams.

(6) Fire Beetles (3.5) hp 4 each
Arson Beetle (3.5)  hp 13 (use Bombardier Beetle stats, replacing the acid damage with fire damage.)
(6) Fire Beetles (Pathfinder) hp 4 each

Arson Beetle CR 2 (Pathfinder)
XP 400
N medium vermin
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 18 (+1 Dex, +8 natural)
hp 13 (2d8+4)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1
Immune mind-affecting effects
Speed 20 ft., fly 20 ft. (poor)
Melee bite +5 (1d6+6)
Special Attacks fire spray
Str 19, Dex 12, Con 15, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk+1; CMB +5; CMD 6 (14 vs. trip)
Skills Fly –6

arson beetle

Arson Beetle (CR 2) This giant stag beetle has only 2 hit dice and is Medium sized, but can spray fire once per round in a 10-foot cone. Those in the cone must make a DC 11 Fortitude save or take 1d4+2 points of fire damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Development Safely disarming the trap allows all of the machinery to be salvaged, earning the PCs 1,500 gp (or 2 profit points). Otherwise the intact bits are worth only 750 gp (1 profit point).

Next Time: Hear the tale of the Lost Battalion, a side quest in five posts that follows the trail of a mage-engineer and her company of special troops into a hidden vale deep inside the mountains, rife with danger.

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Designer’s Spotlight – Michael Allen and Three Faces of the Muse

B18 COVERWhy should someone check out Three Faces of the Muse?
This is a great adventure to run when the PCs are ready to visit a big city—perhaps even the capital settlement of the lands they are in. It is an intense investigation that has nothing to do with sewers, and there are some nice hooks to tie ongoing plots from your game into the module if you are so inclined.

What makes Three Faces of the Muse different from other adventures?
I like to read the bestiaries and monster manuals to mine ideas. There is a huge amount of grist for a writer to work from hidden in these tomes—I love building on a sentence or phrase in the monster design or ecology. The idea for this adventure was sparked by the boss fight and I chose monsters that fit appropriately with the theme.

Three Faces of the Muse previewDid you put cool stuff in there?
As the back jacket says, “this adventure is a chance for minstrels to shine, and not just through diplomacy encounters.” The sites and themes lend themselves to characters with civilized skills and an appreciation of the arts. Three Faces of the Muse also creates unique opportunities for recurring villains that make it noteworthy.

What was your favorite part of the adventure?
I had a blast researching the “renaissance man” themes throughout. I am a set designer during the day, so much of the architectural, painting, musical history, and craft in the adventure was already known to me, but I delved deeper into the specifics of each to really understand them and bring them out (I even learned some new technical terms.)

Did you focus on Investigation, Encounters, Puzzles or Dungeons?
The whThree Faces of the Muse preview 1ole story is one of investigation—unraveling the how and why, but I definitely spent some time on the encounters and went back after the play test to tweak them. I wanted each to tie into the major themes of the module (even cutting one that felt was a bit repetitive and random) and to have as many unique twists as possible. Some combats require skill checks to get the upper hand, some standard monsters have a nifty thematic effect added onto them, and all contain notes to adjust the challenge rating if need be.

In one sentence, what can we expect from Three Faces of the Muse?
Art is beauty, and the most delicious beauty is one that fosters a sense of anticipation—and, for the most adventurous souls, even a bit of danger.

[Editors Note: Michael is not giving himself enough credit—this module is bursting with creativity. Your PCs will be pleasantly surprised time and again throughout, and I would be very surprised if they don’t truly engage with the very rich tapestry that he’s woven together here. Three Faces of the Muse is a must-play and absolutely deserves a look. -MM]

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TO WALK THE DARK ROAD – Interview with author Michael Allen

cover1. Why should I read To Walk the Dark Road?

Who doesn’t want to feast on the history of lost armies and empires, seasoned with torture, curses and dark magic?


2. What makes To Walk the Dark Road unique?

I set out to design an adventure without a single stat block – all challenges straight out of the bestiaries. I usually enjoy adding class levels to monsters to beef them up and make them unique, so sifting through the monster books for just the right critter that fit the story was a lot of fun – and something different for me.


3. What neat stuff is in To Walk the Dark Road?

The adventure is fairly straightforward to run, but there are a number of twists and secrets for the players to discover. As well as surprising the players with these, there are some cool magic items and a good chunk of environmental challenges that will keep the adventurers on their toes.


bat4. Which part of To Walk the Dark Road was the most fun to design?

I enjoyed the magic items. Working their background into the tale made these items breathe a little bit more to me. I also like the fact that power also comes with a price, and any opportunity to provide players with trade-offs for power is one that should not be missed.


5. Is there a specific part of To Walk the Dark Road that you identify as your favorite?

My kids’ favorite is the part where a party member has to drive a steel stylus into their eyeball to access the magic therein. I think my favorite part is how many times they described that scene to their mom and grossed her out.


6. What kind of gameplay was the focus for To Walk the Dark Road? 

It is a wilderness trek that has the feel of a dungeon crawl. Not so much from an exploration standpoint but from the set up and pacing of the encounters. There are role-playing opportunities in some interesting places, but for the most part, you are trying to survive and accomplish your mission in a hostile land.


hag7. Did you have any inspiration for To Walk the Dark Road?

Two really. The first was the sack of Anglesey and destruction of the druid’s stronghold there by the Romans. The second is Celtic cauldron myths. The artifact in the adventure, The Tear of the Mother, is really a mythic cauldron in a different skin.


8. If any theme dominated To Walk the Dark Road, what would it be?

The subtitle says it all…A waking nightmare! Dreams, visions, and horrific events plague the PCs every step of the way. The monsters fit into this theme quite elegantly.


9. Are there any particularly interesting monsters or NPCs in To Walk the Dark Road?

I like them all of course – I really had a great time crafting the encounters around the monsters, and then the story line around the monsters. Each monster is there for a reason that backs up the history or environment of the tale. But if I had to pick a few, I like the set up of the very first encounter, the boss fight in the icy moors, and the encounter in the deep woods as the PCs approach their final destination. Your scrying spells will get no more information out of me on what those monsters are…you will have to walk the dark road yourself.


aquamonster10. What part of To Walk the Dark Road did your playtesters enjoy most?

They liked the ramping up of the intensity as the adventure progressed. My group is a pretty savvy Pathfinder rules group, and I was hoping they would not figure out the main boss until the end. They got bits and pieces of the mystery – identifying some of the abilities in play, but not the creature itself, so I think the way the adventure is written, it is possible for other judges to draw out the mystery like we were able to do in the playtest.


11. Is there a specific scenario in To Walk the Dark Road that is going to stick with me?

One of the magic items is very unique, and gives the judge a tool to reveal much of the back story of the adventure, which I think the players don’t always get to discover 100% in the course of play. Combined with other role-playing opportunities written into the adventure to reveal some background, a canny judge can satisfy both the combat oriented player and the story oriented player.


12. In one sentence, what can I expect from To Walk the Dark Road?

Expect an intensifying ride of combat and horror as the PCs wrestle with what risks they take, and moral choices they make for power and success.