Saturday, December 10, 2011

Short Adventure: The Stolen Child

This adventure is written as an entry for the Ruin Givaway over at the Tower of the Archmage.

The adventure is set in Harrow Parish in County Carr of the Merchant's Republic.

Harrow Parish, County Carr

The adventuring party is strolling along the road between Harrow Ferry and the town of Carrnach, when a frantic woman approaches from a lane to the north. The town of Carrnach (population 7000+/-) looms up to the right. To the left, the hilltop ruins of Harrow Keep offer a silhouette against the sky.

The woman explains that a child has gone missing in their hamlet, which lies about a mile to the north on the southern shore of Harrow Lake. The child is a girl, age 8.

Following the woman up the lane, the party is informed that the girl was discovered to be missing at dawn, as the fishermen were getting prepared for their day's work. The entire village has been searching for hours.

Questioning of the girl's parents will reveal that she has not been sleeping the past week or so. Further questioning will reveal that she was obsessed with the "Red Man", who wanted her to come with him. She had also taken to singing a lullaby over and over:

"Time to play, oh child!
Awaken from your nap
You've soft and lovely hair
You have dye for my cap"

The adventure will take a bit of investigation. A tracker among the group will be able to tell that the girl walked barefoot to the shore. An organized inquiry among the townsfolk will reveal that a small boat is missing.

The lake is a large area to search... over a mile wide and some three miles long. There are numerous small islands in the lake, more than one of which contain ancient ruins. A search of the lake will be fruitful in 1d6 hours, and reveal a small boat on the shore of one such island. The Island is overgrown, and contains the ruins of a small tower. All that remains of it is the lower level of the stair tower. The stair is home to a giant spider.

Prize being given away at TofAM!

Section of Tower as it was Once Constructed

The stair tower, about 30 feet in diameter, was once part of a larger tower, which had a 30 foot diameter interior room, with 10 foot thick walls. With searching, the remains of the larger wall are discernible through the dense briar growth that covers the area. There is a small (halfling size) tunnel through the briars, which is discoverable by a tracker. The party will have to hack away the briars to follow the trail of the tunnel. Forcing one's way through the briars results in 1d4 hitpoints damage for anyone over halfling size. A halfling would have to crawl to get through the tunnel.

The tunnel ends in the center of the larger circle. A  3' x 3' door is hidden in the ground. This was once the bottom floor of the tower, and the door led down to the dungeon.

The door is locked from the inside. It is stone, inset into the stone floor,  which is covered with centuries of soil and growth, and will have to be forced open. Opening it reveals a dark hole 5'x5' going down into the ground 10 feet before opening up into a larger chamber. A foul smell comes from the hole. Characters will need a rope or ladder to descend.

Lowering a lantern down will reveal a floor some 30 feet below. The room is 30 feet in diameter. There is assorted debris on the floor.

Dropping down to the floor, the party will see that the debris includes bones of animals and people (ranging from children to adults). There is a ladder propped up against the wall. The roof of the chamber is domed. The side walls are 8 feet high, and it is 20 feet up to the top of the dome, with the 5'x5' chute in the center. The walls are carved from solid bedrock.

Rats will swarm into the room from cracks in the walls and attack ferociously. They behave as a swarm from Varlets and Vermin from Rolls, Rules, and Roles

After dispatching the rats, a search of the room will reveal the presence of a secret door on the north wall. The door has no obvious way of being opened. As the door swings outward, it can't be forced by strength.
Singing the children's lullaby will open the door.

"Time to play, oh child!
Awaken from your nap
You've soft and lovely hair
You have dye for my cap"

Otherwise, the party will have to wait until nightfall to open the door. Trying to break through will take more than a day, as it will require returning to the town of Carrnach or the Village of Harlow for proper equipment, then require a total of 20 man hours of labor to break through the 18" thick granite door. (20 people working for one hour, 5 people working for 4 hours, etc...)

Opening the door can have three results:

1) Party waits until nightfall:

As the sun fades from the sky, the door pivots open with a rumble. The room is cast in total darkness as Continual Darkness is cast. The party is attacked simultaneously by the returning rat swarm, and the inhabitant of the tower, a Red Cap. (Move 90, AC 4 (due to high dex) Attack 1, Dam 2d4 (axe), save F2).

The Red Cap will get +2 to its AC and +2 to hit while the rat swarm is attacking. It also gets an AC bonus due to the Continual Darkness (treat as blind fighting), but can see through its own spell. The Red Cap gains strength through dipping its cap in fresh blood, so for each  point of damage it deals, it will gain 1 hp.

Defeating the Red Cap disperses the swarm of rats. The girl will be safe, dirty but huddled against the far wall as described in result 2.

2) Party opens door by singing the lullaby

The 5' wide door opens into a passage 15 feet long. At the end of the passage is a room that is 20 feet in diameter. Huddled against the far wall is the girl, unharmed. A perception roll will discover she is looking up over the character's heads. Otherwise, the Red Cap surprises, leaping down from a ledge above the entrance onto the third character to enter the room. (If there is no third character, the Red Cap flees out the entrance). It will fight ferociously, but will flee as soon as possible. (It will have to set the ladder in place unless the party has already done that. Setting the ladder will require one turn).

3) Force the door open with tools

Unfortunately, this will result in the death of the girl. As long as the party is hacking away at the door, the Red Cap will not come out. Just as the party breaks through he will douse his cap in the girl's blood, giving him the following temporary stats: (Move 120, AC3, Attack 1, Damage 2d6, Save F4). If it is night, (50%) chance, he will be able to summon the rat swarm and cast Continual Darkness.

The Red Cap has a treasure of 132 gp, 236 sp, three gems worth 20 gp, 80gp, and 100 gp, and a +1 dagger. His axe radiates evil, and does 2d4 damage. Using the axe for a prolonged period of time will turn the user into a Red Cap.

Edit: If the death of the girl is too intense for your game, an alternative is to have one of the fishermen beat the party to the Island. In this case, there would be a second boat moored on the Island. The fisherman's tracks would lead to the tower, where he would have been dragged through the briars by the Red Cap.

When the party breaks through the door, it is the blood of the fisherman the Red Cap bathes his cap in, leaving the girl unharmed.

Stolen Child Adventure Map

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