Ready-to-Run Adventures

Expedition to the Haunted Vale

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

The vale of Brethil
The ruins
The Hillman camp
Master NPC and Military Forces Tables

Editor's Note

Please refer to previous installments of this campaign in earlier issues of The Guild Companion for additional maps, notes, NPC statistics, and other aids. You can find these issues here. This is the last installment of this campaign.

The story

Immediately after the execution of Amrill/Uzathor and his cohorts an emergency meeting of the town council is convened. The PC's and several other important town members are invited to sit in and observe. The meeting's purpose is twofold. First, to swear in the newest member of the council from the Weaver's Guild, Jonatia. The second is to determine the next course of action. With the information obtained from Amrill's townhouse, the council is aware of the dire circumstances the region is in.

The council has been advised that Ermegil Stonearm has regrouped his forces and apparently is in the process of moving south again. However, this time the King of Rhudaur is joined by his Hillmen allies and Orcish mercenaries. There is also a chance of a second army from Angmar linking up with Stonearm. Allied reports have mass troop movements along several fronts occurring. Luckily, several mercenary groups have arrived in Fennas Drunin recently along with more of the militia from the Cantons of Feotar. These will serve as the reserve forces for the troops already posted on the border. In case of defeat along the border, these forces will defend Fennas Drunin itself. Already the refugees from the outlying settlements within the Angle have been conscripted to repair and strengthen the walls of the town. Shipments of foodstuffs from the Cantons and beyond are arriving daily and filling the old empty warehouses along the riverfront.

The largest problem, though, is the Angmarean expedition located at Minas Brethil in the Haunted Vale. The word "tunnel" in one of the messages has the council members frightened. If their worst fears are realized and the armies from the north are able to bypass Fennas Drunin and the well-defended ferry located there, they would be cut off from relief and the Cantons of Feotar would be at Stonearm's mercy. This would be a disaster of the worst kind. Countering it has immediately become the first priority of the council, but the means of countering it is in debate. Knowing that shifting troops over to the western section of the Angle would seriously hamper the overall defense of the Angle, the council members are split on what they should do. Some feel that a large force should be sent into the eastern section of the Cantons to attempt to deter any entry from under the river. Others feel that there is no time for that and that the Witch-king has surely prepared for such a move (in fact a force of 100 Easterling horsemen are currently encamped on the other side of the river to defend the tunnel exit). These council members believe that a small but powerful force should be sent to Minas Brethil itself to reconnoiter the Angmarean forces there and perhaps even stop the excavation. Since time is at a premium these forces will have to come from Fennas Drunin itself.

In the middle of the meeting Paetric stands up and the rest of the council members fall quiet. He looks over to where the PC's are sitting and states:

We are grateful for the assistance you have provided us these past few weeks, yet it saddens me to say that once again we are in need of your help. It seems that our future is in doubt and we have no other allies that we can turn to for aid. If it pleases you we would like to procure your services this one last time. We need to find out what is happening in the abandoned citadel and halt it if possible. Our coffers are empty yet we still have goods we could offer in return. Land we have aplenty and would happily give to you as payment, but the question is will the land be ours to give in a few weeks. Unfortunately I cannot say for sure. I know not what will happen in the near future, but suffice it to say that we will not give up without a fight. If we are victorious you will be heroes and wealthy men. If not, you will be lucky to escape with the fate of a slave in the pits of Carn Dum. This mission will definitely be the most difficult you have endured so far and thus the recompense will be commensurate to that difficulty. What say you? Will you accept this charge?

After giving their affirmation, Paetric dismisses the council and the PC's are invited back to his house to discuss terms. Much like the previous negotiation, Paetric is willing to give up large parcels of land for the services of the PC's. He offers escorts of mounted levy members or mercenaries to and from the area and promises to advise Aldurin and his Red Lances of the situation. They may be of some help to the PC's. In addition, he promises property rights to absolutely everything found within the old castle. Part of the requirements for the characters is that if they are able to bring to a halt the tunneling they must remain to secure the castle until reinforcements arrive. Aldurin will undoubtedly send a significant force to help as soon as he gets word of the expedition. If the PC's are able to destroy the tunnel then they have no need to remain and should travel back to Fennas Drunin as soon as possible. After negotiations are complete Paetric tells the PC's that all of the supplies they will need will be awaiting them at Feagwin's stables with their horses tomorrow morning. Any escorts or retainers acquired will also be ready in the morning as well as a guide to get them to the area as quickly as possible.

After leaving Fennas Drunin, the party will ride directly north to the vale. Use the (*) encounter table until you get within 10 miles of Minas Brethil then switch to the Vale of Brethil Encounter Table.

Possible Resolutions

No matter the abilities of the PC's the excavation will not be able to succeed. Whether the characters eliminate the workers or are repulsed by the defenders of Minas Brethil, the history of Middle-earth never records a significant offensive campaign by the forces of Rhudaur and/or Angmar during this time period. If the PC's fail in their attempt, then either the resident Rangers of Arthedain or elves hailing from Rivendell (perhaps both working in conjunction) will finish the job.

Whichever way the Angmarim working underneath Minas Brethil are destroyed the appearance of an advance party of Rhudaurim mounted troops will occur. This will happen a day or so after the PC's or their saviors complete the eradication of the Angmarim. The cavalry has the mission of liaising with the workers and helping to secure the area for the upcoming army. This force consists of 30-40 mixed mounted troops. They are somewhat off-guard due to the fact that they believe their allies are located within the castle walls. It is possible they could be ambushed as they come towards the castle. This encounter could also expand into a greater conflict as Red Lances move into support the PC's. This will, however, be the last obstacle for the PC's to overcome. After this advance element of Rhudaurim are eliminated or routed the PC's will have completed the adventure successfully.

If the players decide to attempt to destroy the excavation so that it will be useless to the warriors of Ermegil Stonearm they will have their work cut out for them. This would entail the weakening of the supports so that the roof would collapse in any of the sections recently excavated. This would be exceedingly hazardous and should be handled accordingly. If this were to occur successfully then the player characters would have no need of remaining to secure the premises and would be free to travel back to Fennas Drunin to accept their rewards.

Conclusion

The ride back to Fennas Drunin, probably accompanied by a mounted retinue of Red Lances or levy, will be uneventful. The armies of Rhudaur and Angmar, upon hearing of the fall of Minas Brethil to the Free Peoples' dwelling in the Angle, will turn back to their respective countries. They are not prepared to launch an expensive and long-term assault on the town of Fennas Drunin, having no siege weapons or sizeable supplies of foodstuffs. Heads will roll for this debacle in Angmar as the Witch-king has no stomach for failure.

Once in town the characters will be showered with praise from the citizens of the Angle. Crowds will surround them as they make their way to the Town Hall. There they will meet with Paetric and the remainder of the town council and inform them of the events that occurred at Minas Brethil. After the meeting there will be a huge celebration for the characters as the townsfolk rejoice that the armies of Rhudaur have once again been turned away. This will last several days and the PC's will have many opportunities to drink and be merry.

Many days later Paetric will summon the characters to discuss payment. If the players choose to take the money later he will make a note and promise to provide it as soon as the coffers of the town are refilled. If the players choose to take land instead then Paetric will inquire of the characters which area of the Angle they desire to have the land in. If the characters do not suggest the Minas Brethil area then Paetric will do so. He will even propose that the characters rebuild the castle and move in there. Paetric is leader of the town council for a good reason. He is a wise man. He knows that by offering the land to the characters they will probably make a home here in the region. That strengthens the region in many ways. For one, there will be another defensive structure between the border and Fennas Drunin. In addition, the presence of the hero PC's will raise morale in the area. To convince the characters of the wisdom of settling in Minas Brethil, Paetric will politely remind the characters that they have almost single-handedly foiled one of Ermegil Stonearm's plots. This will undoubtedly cause the characters to be marked men and some sort of vengeance from the king of Rhudaur is a possibility. In actuality, it was one of the Witch-king's plots and the PC's are definitely now among some of the most wanted men in Eriador. Retaliation is not a possibility it is a definite. Now the safest place for the characters is on the road or behind some solid walls (this may even allow GM's to spice up future adventures with random assassination attempts by agents of the Witch-king!).

If the PC's choose to rebuild Minas Brethil they will have many advantages going for them. Their friendship with the dwarves will provide them with superior building skills and their hero status within the Angle will supply a ready source of young lads willing to train and serve as guards. Exceptionally talented PC's may even notice the merchant vacuum and take over Amrill's now-defunct merchant operation. Running caravans over the Misty Mountains to Rhovanion would be highly lucrative and exciting possibly leading to several adventures. To determine the profit from each caravan you may use some of the rules from I.C.E.'s River Running adventure module. These were created to deal solely with the business of wine exportation, however many of the tables may be used with generic caravans.

Once the meeting with Paetric is finished the adventure is over and the PC's are free to move on to the next exciting exploit.

Editor's Note

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