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Sadly, there is a spy in our midst. The loss of the caravan heading to Harnalda was a critical blow to our efforts to defend this region. Its destruction is a direct result of this unknown traitor's work. Normally, the caravans traveling to Thuin Boid and Harnalda camp at a favored and well-used spot beside the road. Due to security concerns, however, the town council decided that a different campground should be used this time. The Hillmen raiders knew exactly where to look and this is, aside from having inside information, positively uncanny. Therefore we have reasoned that the agent is a member of the council itself. Only they and the merchant Amrill, whose goods it was that were stolen, knew of the destination of the caravan. Amrill is particularly angry about the incident and our inability to protect his merchandise, and rightly so. He suffered a grievous loss and we can only hope that he continues to provide help in the future. Needless to say we cannot afford another disaster of this magnitude and have concluded that an outside influence is needed. Since you are so new to the area no one would suspect your involvement. This is a critical aspect of this task. What this mission entails is the protection of the caravan against any potential threat. This may seem like any easy enough assignment, but due to the unknown agent acting in Fennas Drunin this may not be the case. Since we do not know what is in store, we want you to shadow the caravan. No one in the caravan will even know of your existence except for the caravan leader, Toryl, one of my most trusted men. Tomorrow you will accompany Folgrin out of town going towards Smallforge. If asked, you have been contracted to protect Folgrin on his way back to Smallforge where he is bringing news of the caravan to his leaders. However, after a few miles outside the town walls you will diverge from Folgrin's company and head west toward the main road leading north. There you will wait for the main caravan leaving the day after. Tail it and keep it from harm. It is imperative that this caravan makes it to Thuin Boid. I have prepared documents for you to show Aldurin, the leader of the Red Lances and commander of the border post, verifying your credentials and enlightening him as to your involvement in this mission. Now, you are probably asking yourself, "so what's in this for me". Rest assured, your efforts will not go unnoticed and to this end I propose a fee of 50 pieces of gold for the successful completion of your task - 25 now and 25 when you reach Thuin Boid. I will inform Aldurin of our arrangement in the document that I will provide you, so that he may compensate you as agreed. Is this contract satisfactory?
The caravan consists of nine wagons filled to capacity; nine wagon drivers, eight guards and Toryl, the caravan master. Toryl rides in the lead wagon, while the guards are arrayed in defensive positions around the caravan. The trip will last approximately three days and two nights. On the third day riders from Thuin Boid are expected to meet and escort the caravan through the more dangerous area on the border. Until that third day the convoy is on its' own. During the emergency meeting after the news of the first caravan was received, it was agreed that the caravan would camp at the original spot. This campground already has a good fire pit and fine defensive capabilities, however Toryl has orders to ignore this directive and camp wherever he sees fit. Undoubtedly, the site of the campground has reached the ears of the undercover agent of Angmar and Paetric does not deem it safe for the caravan to camp at any predisposed site. This element of unpredictability will hopefully help the caravan avoid any and all unforeseen hazards.
When traveling, the guards will spread out around the caravan. Three riders will take the point position with one moving well ahead of the two others. The foremost rider is the main scout while the other two back him up. The other five guards will array themselves around the caravan proper. Two will go to either side of the caravan and one will ride at the rear of the caravan. All of the guards have been supplied with a horn with which to alert the caravan of any threat.
When camping, the caravan will position the wagons in a circular defensive position. The eight guards will take turns guarding the camp with two on sentry duty at any time. The watches are three hours long and when completed the guards will awaken their replacements. During guard duty neither watchman speaks and both will take their responsibility seriously, especially after what happened to the first caravan. Armed with bows the guards will intently seek to hear any foreign sounds that might indicate intruders. After the nightly meal the campfire will be doused with water, so that no light will give away the camp's location to would-be attackers. All guards and drivers sleep in their armor and close to their weapons. If the caravan is attacked at night, Toryl will sound his horn as loudly as possible. This might have an effect on the attack itself, as the Hillmen will be wondering who might respond to the call for help.
The Hillmen that attacked the first convoy are among the best rangers in all of Rhudaur. Bloodthirsty and possessed of an absolute hatred for "lowlanders", they fit well into the Witch-kings' plans. Standing, on average, around 5' tall the uncouth members of this group sport long mustaches and long black hair braided with beads. The men don only animal hides as protection, but each member of the band wears an ornately decorated pot helm. They are led by a grim and xenophobic hunter named Moiric and are able to move through the countryside with amazing speed and silence. Utilizing the herb Sha to give them night vision they can descend upon enemies at night with devastating results. Their ability to hide their trails from any possible trackers allows them to slip back into the darkness after completing their task without fear of immediate retaliation. Although their entire contingent consists of close to thirty men only 15-20 will come on the nighttime raid against the caravan. The rest must remain at their secret base to protect it.
When attacking, the savages prefer to sneak up as close as possible to an encampment at night using their stealth and night-vision capabilities. When ready, the leader will make a sound very similar to the call of a bird found only in the highlands. The assembled warriors will then throw their javelins at any and all guards and advance into the camp. Using their spears and shields in the melee they attempt to slaughter everyone. Killing everyone in the camp is normal practice and has been used for centuries. It has the dual effect of eliminating enemies and creating an aura of fear. During the previous attack, however, the Hillmen captured a few of the caravansaries instead. This was by order of their Angmarean liaison, whom they are temporarily taking orders from for reasons they do not know. If possible, during the second assault they will attempt to take as many captives as possible also. Unfortunately, just because they have to keep their prisoners alive does not mean the experience has to be a pleasant one.
When playing the Hillmen there are a few things to remember. As before, in the adventure involving the wolf pack, the GM may tailor the number of Hillmen to his specifications. Any Hillmen killed will consequently be eliminated from use later on in the campaign. The number of Hillmen eliminated here will make the later adventures easier, since they won't be around to harass the party or patrol the Minas Brethil area. Also, the Hillmen, due to the importance of the mission, won't allow themselves to be captured. Each will fight to the death, something they are trained for. Their fervor is such that their own life is inconsequential. If, somehow, one is captured he will resist interrogation for weeks. Taking him to Thuin Boid will be the only recourse since he does not speak anything but "Blarm", the Hillman tongue. If magic is used to force him to answer questions, he will be unable to tell much (unless he is the leader). He knows the general vicinity of the secret base, the number of other Hillmen he was operating with and the fact that, in a nearby abandoned castle, a number of Angmareans have set up a base. He does not know what is going on in the castle and says that a main part of their mission is to protect it, the other being to harass the outlying settlements and any supplies traveling to the border forts.
As stated before, the trip will last approximately 3 days and 2 nights if things go as planned. The first day will be uneventful for the caravan, as they will encounter only a few groups of fleeing provincials. The party will have to avoid those groups, but this won't be difficult as long as the player characters stay off the main road. This translates into 2-3 very easy (+20) Stalking/Hiding maneuvers. If the party members are seen, the commoner's reactions could range from fear to friendliness to indifference. As the first day progresses these encounters will cease. At the end of the day Toryl will find a suitable camping spot and order the caravan to bed down for the night. He does not use the common camping spot, but instead camps a few miles further down the road. Toryl does, however, direct two of the guards to start a fire in the fire pit at the preferred camping site. Hopefully, this will attract any would-be attackers. The party is aware of the orders Paetric gave Toryl concerning the camping spot so this action should not surprise them. In fact, they may even use this to their advantage and wait here for the Hillmen. The actions of the Hillmen during the first day and night are entirely up to the GM. They could scout out the diversionary camp, probe the main camp or merely watch and wait. An attack in force should come later (the next night) after the Hillmen have judged the caravan's strength.
As the second day begins, clouds start to roll up from the west. By noon a heavy rain is falling. This slows the caravan somewhat, but Toryl keeps the wagons moving at a relatively good pace. By the end of the day the track is sufficiently flooded and traveling has slowed to a snail's pace. The convoy has barely reached the intersection of the roads leading to Thuin Boid and Harnalda. A small sign signifies which trail leads to each fort. Forced to camp in this somewhat indefensible location, the caravan is now close to two days away from their destination. If the Hillmen did not find the caravan on the first night, they most assuredly will this night. The rain has slowed a bit, but the reduced visibility and soggy ground will make the Hillmen's job of sneaking up to the caravan that much easier. The ensuing melee will by chaotic at best with the climate adding to the general confusion. Also, the effects of the slippery ground, the soaked and heavy clothing, the reduced hearing as well as the darkness, lighted only by a few well-placed lanterns, should be calculated into any fight.
If the party succeeds in helping defend the caravan, then Toryl (if still alive) will thank them profusely. If Toryl was killed the remainder of the guards and drivers will question the party as to why they were in the vicinity. They are not suspicious, though, since the party's actions showed their allegiance to the people of the Angle. If they are questioned too intensely, the party can produce the letter of introduction to Aldurin as proof of their mission. Either way, the rest of the night is uneventful. By next morning the rain has stopped and the caravan heads out again. This time the PC's are invited to ride with the caravan. They may decide to do this or continue to shadow the caravan. At midday the caravan is met by a group of 10 riders wearing red capes. These are the mercenaries of the Red Lances unit sent to escort the caravan. After a short discussion, where the patrol leader gets briefed on the events of the night before, the entire gathering begins moving north again. Traveling well into the night to avoid having to camp again, the caravan finally reaches the safety of Thuin Boid.
This adventure will end as the PC's enter the border fort. During the next adventure the PC's will have the opportunity to meet the major NPC's of Thuin Boid and receive payment for this mission. Any items gathered from Hillmen killed by the PC's is rightfully theirs; if any Hillmen are killed by the guards or caravan drivers, however, their particular items will go to the victor.
|The Marauders NPC Character And Master Military Stats|
|Name||#||Level||Hits||AT||DB||Sh||Gr||1st OB||2nd OB||3rd OB||MM||Notes|
|Toryl||1||7||96||14||40||Y||A||101bs||89ml||78cp||5||Mixed man Rogue|
|Red Lances||120||4||80||16||35||Y||A/L||85bs||75ml||65sb||10||Northman Warriors, mounted|
|+15sp; Totem, +3 pp adder; +5 RL; Spell Lists: Path Mastery, Nature's Guises, Nature's Way; PP:14, BS:+7, DS: -10|