Ready-to-Run Adventures

Expedition to the Haunted Vale

Minas Brethil - The Caverns

Copyright ©2000 Phillip Gladney
Edited for The Guild Companion by Joe Mandala, October 2000


  1. Approximately one mile from the lower halls of Minas Brethil is the entrance to the Orc warrens. The tunnel from the ruined castle descends continuously at an angle of around 6-8 degrees, yet is safe for travel. Unlike the segment of tunnel beyond the Orcish settlement, this stretch of cavern is dry. The grotto where the orcs from Carn Dum have taken up residence is a natural occurrence with a few minor embellishments. Some of the caves and passageways have been enlarged upon as needed, but for the most part this lair looks as it has for the last millenium. The entrance is always guarded by two orcs from the Larag-mosh tribe. Pieces of rock from the mining have been stacked together to form a quasi-wall that extends halfway across the cavern. The orcs here are not very alert (Perception bonus, +0) and can be surprised by resourceful individuals. If they do notice intruders however, they have a killing field (an area with no cover for opposing forces) of at least 75 yards and can pepper them with arrows from their shortbows while calling for reinforcements. At any time there will be at least 7-10 orcs who can respond to an alarm within 10-15 rounds.
  2. This low-ceilinged cave is the repository for all of the rancid meats that sustain the Orcish garrison. There is also an assortment of mushrooms and tubers in small barrels, as well as grains for an Orcish form of waybread. This room stinks beyond most people's ability to withstand (PC's must make an RR vs. level 1 or be nauseated for 5-50 rounds) and the half-rotten sheep (among other things) hanging from the ceiling are enough to make even the strongest of men turn their head.
  3. Carved from a natural fissure, the quarters of Haeg reminds one of a gaudy bordello. Thick red carpets, candles and a comfortable bed are the most prominent features in this room. Hedonistic to a fault, the Dunlending has supplied his room with a keg of strong liquor, a quantity of the illicit drug Tortella and one of the young captives. He uses a table in the front room to hold papers, mostly drawings of the excavation and guard rotations for the troops stationed in the ruins. A few magical scrolls, from lists Haeg is working on, are scattered among the other relatively worthless papers.
    These include:
    There is also a high-backed oak chair, from which Haeg dictates his commands to the orcs and workers. Separating the two rooms is a black curtain. Behind the curtain are Haeg's large comfortable bed and three chests, two of which hold an expansive collection of expensive clothing. The other chest is locked (Hard, -10) and holds Haeg's' wealth, which is quite considerable. Over the years the sorcerer has amassed a small fortune; it includes over 400 pieces of gold and many gems and jewels. Coming from an impoverished family of shepherds, Haeg has developed an affinity for the finer things in life. He hates coins of copper and other small denominations since they were all he knew as a child. Haeg's other items are kept close to his person. His staff of highly polished black wood is an x2pp adder that can cast "Deflections" and "Bladeturn" each 2x/day. An iron ring, designed to show his allegiance to the Witch-king adorns his right hand and is also an x2pp adder. His dagger (+10, magical) is mostly ceremonial, but will cause a secondary Puncture Crit and is usually loaded with a non-fatal poison. Lastly, Haeg has acquired a palm-sized sea blue sphere that can cast 20 PPs/day of spells off of the WATER LAW spell list up to 10th level.
    The sorcerous Dunlending will be in his quarters 85% of the time (he is inebriated 20% of the time also). If he is not here, he will be supervising the work and generally terrorizing the orcs and slave workers (he does this through frequent use of the various "Pain" spells). Understandably, discipline among the orcs is very good. The first few orcs he slew served as an excellent example to the others. Haeg prefers to remain in the caverns and will only go up into the castle on the explicit orders of Kas Horva. He was furious (although he hid it quite well) when command of the expedition was given to Kas, instead of himself. Due to this, Haeg will stay in the company of orcs for in the caverns below there is no master other than him.
  4. Two alcoves have been enlarged on either side of the cave passage. Each contains one Larag-mosh orc warrior who acts as a guard for the primary orcish enclave. They will be the first to respond to any alarm and, like the guards behind the rock wall, have shortbows and bulging quivers.
  5. The Larag-mosh orcs of the company dwell in these four cave branches. There are markings on the wall where the tight corners were enlarged, but otherwise there is little of value in this section of the caves. The orcs sleep on assorted blankets over beds of hay and grass. Unfortunately, this has created an insect problem (notably mites and ticks), yet the orcs do not care (they can be tasty with the right amount of salt). There are fifteen Larag-mosh orcs barracked in these caves.
  6. This is the cavern where all of the orcs, Trupalog and Larag-mosh, gather to eat, gamble (crude games usually involving pain) and socialize. There is a large firepit in the center and because of this the room is always smoky. During orcish waking hours (which are totally opposite of the Angmarean troops) 5-10 orcs will be arguing and fighting here and all of them have their weapons close by and can respond to an alarm quickly. There is nothing of any real value here.
  7. Three Trupalog orcs sleep in each of these caves. They keep none of their money in here, untrusting of one another as they are, and are here only when resting.
  8. The home of Nhurash, the Turpalog Uruk-hai leader of the orcish contingent, this cave is much like the others. A blanket lain over leaves and grass serves as a bed and there is a small keg of orcish liquor in one corner. Nhurash is rarely here, as he is frequently down in the part of the tunnel where the mining is being completed. His money (19 gp) always accompanies him in a non-descript leather pouch on his weapon belt.
  9. Down a set of carved steps lies the complex's temple. Chiseled into an oval shape, this room has a stone altar dominating the center. There are bloodstains trailing down the sides, but it is obvious that this is a relatively new shrine. During religious ceremonies, the orcs gather here to worship the Dark One. These are loud, raucous affairs, which always involve bloodletting. There is a 2% chance that one is taking place during orcish waking hours. If there is no ritual taking place this room is absolutely empty.
  10. Two racks created for the punishment of slave's stand against the cave wall. They serve two purposes: that of intimidation of the remaining slaves and that of entertainment for the orcs. The slaves are usually well behaved because of the hostages being held in the lower halls of Minas Brethil, but small infractions do occur and there is almost always at least one slave tied up here.
  11. Lurking behind an iron grate operated by a simple winch, are the expeditions wolves. Ten large wolves are housed in this rather large cave. Every now and then they are released to feed or serve as mounts for the orcs on one of their nocturnal patrols. Any non-orc who approaches the gate will be met by growls and snarling. If an alarm is raised one orc will hurry to this gate and frantically raise it. The wolves will then join any fracas on the side of the orcs.
  12. The deepest point of the orcish subterranean complex is home to the slaves. Eighteen desperate men sleep or lounge here in a circular pit when not enlarging the tunnel. They are a despondent group consisting of farmsteaders, shepherds and caravansaries. The tunnel from the main area ends in a rock shelf from which a ladder can be lowered so the slaves may exit. There is no guard posted here, but the slaves will not assist in any escape attempt unless they are shown some proof that the hostages above are safe. Some might even call for the guards in fear of retaliation against their loved ones. The ladder lays along the rock shelf when not in use.
  13. This part of the tunnel gradually gets deeper and deeper. There is more water dripping from the cavern roof and the floor can get incredibly slippery in places. The excavation has actually proceeded beyond the river and they are beginning to delve upwards. At the end of the tunnel lies all of the equipment used to mine the rock. Picks, shovels, chisels, hammers, wheelbarrows, etc. are all present. When the slaves are working, three Trupalog and three Larag-mosh orcs watch them.
  14. Branching off from the main tunnel leading towards the Hoarwell, this underground passage winds its way to the surface. It gets rather steep in places and one can easily notice carved steps in certain sections along this passageway. This tunnel ends up in an enlarged cave on the surface and is constantly guarded by two Uruk-hai of the Trupalog tribe. Greenery has been cut and laid over the entrance to serve as camouflage and it serves its purpose well, it is an Extremely Hard (-10) maneuver to notice the entrance. At night, the wolves that accompanied the orcs from Angmar are let out to scour the countryside for any intruders. Occasionally, orcish patrols will also exit the caverns through this cave and patrol the nearby valley.

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