Vale of the Spider Eaters - Part 4
Gopcheck knew now that he wasn't going to get out of here alive. After fleeing from the airborne monsters—huge flying beasts that looked like a cross between a wasp and a spider—the last survivors fled into a cave near some hot springs deep in the hidden valley. The caves were home to even more huge spiders, and many of their number fell to the terrifying creatures. Some small hope remained as a cache of the mage's magical items had been loaded onto one of the few remaining mules. Gopcheck and his companions set up one of the tunnel devices to dig their way out in one of the brief respites from combat. Happily the device worked and they retreated into the tunnel to set up a second.
The walls of the tunnel turned to salt and as they struggled with the magic item, Gopcheck longed for water. That longing was cut short as huge worm-like creatures burst forth in a shower of salt crystals. Whiplash tails knocked his companions off their feet and Gopcheck watched the skin of his friends' faces and necks become like a desiccated corpse when the creatures latched on to them with their horrific maws. He stood alone, facing off against three of the beasts, his spear clutched in his hands. It was over quickly, and as he gazed down on the worm creature sucking the juices out of his leg, his last thoughts were, "thirsty, so thirsty"....
This is the fourth post in the story of the Lost Battalion, a side quest in five parts that can be played as a stand-alone adventure, or may be used as additional content to Twin Crossings—a mercantile endeavor for 4th-level characters, now available in the store and to subscribers of AdventureAWeek.com. You can find the first post here.
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 can find them all here on the AaWBlog!
D. The Salt Mine (CR 4 or 6)
The final survivors of the lost battalion attempted to flee the valley by boring a new tunnel through the mountains. Their first passage drove into a vein of salt and as they set up a second tunnel bore, a nest of salt worms burrowed out of the vein and attacked. The dried husks of the nine victims remain preserved in the dry air of the tunnel, along with their equipment.
Read the following:
A tunnel similar to the one accessing the valley drives into one of the cavern walls. 120 feet into the passage the walls shift from solid stone to a white mineral: sold salt—white gold. 60 feet ahead a dozen humanoid forms are visible at the blank face of the tunnel.
Hazard: After four hours in the salt mine a DC 16 Fortitude save prevents dehydration. A dehydrated creature takes 1d6 non-lethal damage and gains the fatigued condition. Consuming one gallon of fresh water (which takes 5 minutes) cures 6 points of non-lethal damage, but 8 hours of rest is required to clear the fatigue.
Treasure: The remains of the magical cache of the mage engineer contains:
10 tunnel bores
2 stone spans
3 heavyload saddles
6 masterwork pack saddles
10 wooden barrels (able to store 100 pounds of salt each)
Midya Merochek's traveling spellbook
6th-level spells: greater dispel magic, move earth; 5th-level spells: transmute mud to rock, transmute rock to mud; 4th-level spells: dimension door, stone shape; 3rd-level spells: beast shape I, lightning bolt, shrink item; 2nd-level spells: gust of wind, fog cloud, rope trick, whispering wind; 1st-level spells: enlarge person, expeditious retreat, jump, magic missile, mount; Cantrips: all core
Total Value (3.5) 5,200 gp; Sale Value 2,600 gp; Total Value (Pathfinder) 6,900 gp; Sale Value 3,450 gp
Note: The treasure stash above is for use only when adding this encounter to Twin Crossings. When exploring the Vale of the Spider Eaters as a stand-alone adventure, reduce the tunnel bores and heavyload saddles to one each and remove the stone spans entirely. Additionally, half of the spells in the spellbook have been damaged (resolve randomly by spell level) and are undecipherable.
PCs may mine white gold to ship on their caravan. In Twin Crossings, 100 pounds of salt is equal to one cargo unit. In a stand-alone adventure salt is worth 5 gp per pound as a trade good, but reduce how much salt the PCs can mine in an eight hour stretch by half and consider carefully how much wealth you want them to get away with before you send more and more salt worms at them
A martial pick (weapon) mines at a rate of 150 pounds per 8 hours work plus 50 pounds for every +1 enhancement bonus.
Using a miner's pick a creature can mine 300 pounds of salt every 8 hours.
A masterwork tool increase this output to 400 pounds. If the PCs specified they wanted to stock mining equipment on their caravan, they are assumed to have masterwork tools.
Creatures: Mining the salt attracts salt worms after four hours or (if playing as a stand-alone adventure) when the party leaves the tunnel. Gauge how many creatures to include (1-3) based on when the PCs choose to mine salt. If the adventurers mine salt at the end of the day after fighting spiders and spider eaters, only one worm appears. If the PCs are mining salt on their return trip (Twin Crossings) and this is the only encounter for the day consider sending 2 (CR 6) or even 3 worms (CR 7) at the party.
Development: (Twin Crossings) Mining salt costs one speed point for every day spent on site. Any mined salt not removed from the caves is consumed by salt worms unless stored in wooden containers. Return the PCs to either Scene 7: Two Roads to Take or Encounter 13: The Washed Out Trail, as appropriate.
Conclusion: (Stand Alone) A new salt mine in the mountains of The Knee will attract much attention. By the time the PCs return from selling their first load, it is certain that the site will not be unguarded.
Next Time: Statistics for the some of the new magic items in Midya Meracheck's cache!