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Unholy Horde

Copyright Brett Nash ©2001

Edited by Rich Kirkland for The Guild Companion

Abstract:

Someone or something has stolen three bodies from the graveyard. The town's head priest is beside himself in anger, yet the Baron's men will do nothing to help.

Any religious characters will be duty bound to help. As will any who have a relative who has gone missing.

Introduction

This is a fairly short game - it should take you a session to run - depending on the speed of the group.

I've run this adventure for two groups. In the first adventure one of the characters had a sister that had died young - hence his choice in life to become a healer. In the second group one of the character's father had died just a few months earlier. In the second running, I threw in a few extra encounters with undead (and no one ever asked me where the extra bodies came from - although they all made sure the missing ones were accounted for - go figure).

Additional encounters can be provided by the two missing goblins.

Nifral serves as focus for this adventure. Primarily it can serve as a good indication of how people in the group will behave. In the first group I played this with, one person just charged in and butchered him. The disagreement over this action went on for quite some time as he tried to justify killing a man in cold blood. It has given him a bad rep in the group - and in the town indirectly. The Healer (whose sister's body had been stolen) wanted to tie him up and drag him back - although the group was quite divided.

In the second group they were a bit more subtle. One of the characters used a charm spell to find out more information. This created tension as she failed to mention what she was doing and the other people were surprised when she just waltzed in and started talking to a necromancer... Eventually they overpowered him, tied him up and dragged him back to town.

Note: No matter what they do to him, so long as they can prove he was a necromancer, he is outside of the law's protection. There are no legal repercussions for whatever they choose to do - indeed there is a 6 gp reward for killing him. If they can't prove he was a necromancer, then they will be tried for murder. It's a few months after proving he was a necromancer before the reward will arrive.

Significant items for future adventures:

The water is related to the dwarves' problem in a future (as yet unfinished adventure)
The missing people (the farmer and the candlemaker's daughter) fate will be revealed in Night Comes

Night Thefts

One morning the PCs overhear gossip that bodies have been taken from the grave yard. They soon discover that this is the second night in a row this has happened. The town watch is setting a watch on the graveyard tonight. No one knows if this is related to a string of disappearances that most recently include a farmer and his wife 3 weeks ago. Two others disappeared within the last three months, including the candlemaker's daughter. Folk speculate that she probably took off with some guy - she was always the romantic one... GMs Note: These are related to a future adventure The town Priest Father Athrin informs the PCs that a dead relative's body has been stolen! While he is speaking with the PCs a messenger arrives to tell father Athrin that Miss Marth has just miscarried. He responds "And so the curse for disturbing the dead has begun." If asked, he says, "Anyone who disturbs the dead or allows them to be disturbed will be cursed - in this case it is the whole town's fault." An old man sitting on a porch says to the man next to him - "In my day, six adventurers would already be on the way to slay the thief", the guy next to him says, "You mean to claim the six gold for the slaying of a Necromancer"

Clues

The PCs can find the open graves easily. They also readily notice the foot prints of a bare-footed human, and the foot prints of another, probably a child in shoes. (fresh mud near the graves has made the foot prints obvious) [The child is in fact two goblins - anyone who knows about goblins should be able to work this out. Anyone with tracking should be able to determine that there are two of them] Two guards watch the PCs. They offer no advice, but can confirm the reward...Their orders are to watch the cemetery. Searching around, the PCs find the tracks of a wagon - they appear fresh. Nearby they can find the foot prints of a barefooted man. The track goes up the road north. On the far side of the road a farmer stands near his hut watching them. He can tell them he saw a wagon late last night heading north, he didn't see where it came from. (if asked why he didn't report it, he replies nobody asked him) A little up the road they find the wagon tracks leave the road and turn into the hills. If necessary they can catch site of a horse wandering in the woods nearby.

Search

As they follow up the road, they have a feeling of being watched.
Soon they see that the tracks turn off the road suddenly.
The trail through the grass is fairly easy to follow. It leads to a small lump of trees in which lies a wagon. Nearby is a mule grazing on the grass.
As they approach the wagon two undead attack - these are Nifral's first creations. (Experimental Undead)
After the undead have been destroyed, the players can see their obvious tracks through the long grass. The path leads up between two large rocks sticking out of the hillside.
Also in the grass is an broken lyre, it was once of good quality, but now lies broken. Nearby is a backpack. Its former contents (clothes and a blanket lay strewn on the grass nearby) [No items of worth - it belonged to a travelling minstrel]

Out-cropping

A crow sits on top of one of the rocks as the PCs approach. It calls out once as they approach and then flies away down towards the road. (No significance)
The Cave entrance is almost impossible to see, what appears to be a small crack from a distance is actually a large opening, about 3' wide and open to the sky. This leads down into darkness... The players quickly discover that there is a set of stairs roughly carved into the crevice.

The Cave


The Entrance

The stairs descend down into darkness. The passage is rectangular, about 7' wide and about 5' tall. The surface is far from smooth, varying up to a foot in places. Without a light source, the players will be groping in the dark. Easy MM not to fall if they are careful. Ahead there is a lit room. The 'room' turns out to be a long passage - almost 100 feet in length. Torches are spaced evenly along the corridor, though half of them have burned out.

Trap

Across the hall here is a piece of string with lots of small bells and small wire fragments. Easy to notice with additional light or if the PCs carry a torch, Very Hard without such light.
It makes a rattling sound, and may trip a PC who hits it without noticing.
No one comes to its call. They are too busy down below.

Staging Chamber

A large chamber - basically a 30' cube - is lit by a single lantern on a crate. A complicated wooden structure sits over a shaft. In the center sits some sort of platform. (A lift)
There are 3 large crates in this room. Two are empty (one bears the lantern), the third is partially filled with hay.
Near the edge is a large arrow carved into the floor. It points to a set of stone handholds formed into the stone, leading down.
It is possible to see another lit chamber down below. It appears to be about a 50' drop. No details can be made out from here.
The lift can be wound from within the carriage or externally - the GM must decide if the characters are familiar with its operation.

Long Step

It the PCs are using the handholds about half way to the next chamber (25' up) three of the handholds are missing.
At some point part of the stone work has fallen away.
This means there is about 4' without any support. It requires a hard climbing roll to continue.

Main Chamber

A large chamber 40' square, 20' high. There are four exits - 3 passages and the lift.
Light comes from another lantern placed in the center of the floor. It is burning low and is nearly out of fuel.
The sound of rushing water can be heard from the southern tunnel.
The sound of a cat screeching in pain can be heard from the eastern tunnel.
As the first PC enters the room, two zombies attack from the western tunnel.
If the combat proceeds for more than 4 rounds Nark (the goblin) will throw a stone at the single lantern in the room, if it hits (GMs call) the room will be in darkness. He will then attack. Neither he nor the Undead will suffer from the effects of darkness.
There are three tunnels out. To the west is an empty passage. To the east is Nark's Chamber (cat screeching). To the south is the sound of water.

Empty Passage

This passage travels about 50' turns 90' right, then about 10' down is a solid stone wall.
The PCs will discover 2 empty goblin-sized beds, as well as 3 shovels, and 4 coffins. Nothing of value can be found unless the PCs value rotting food or goblin excrement.

Narks home

If the combat in the other room went for less then 4 rounds Nark is in here, but unless the fight was silent, he is ready to fight or run for help. Near him is a cat in a cage. A metal rod is heating in a small fire. The cat has scorched marks where it has been burnt.
There is a pile of filthy hay in one corner - this is Narks Bed.
Nark carries his treasure with him.
This chamber is otherwise empty, except for a lit torch in one corner.
The chamber is about 20' square with an 8' ceiling.

Bridge

The water gets very loud in this direction.
About 60' away from the large chamber water rushes across the passage.
It comes out of a crack in the wall, and reaches about 2' into the air, before hitting the opposing wall and rushing down another crack.
There is a bridge across the water, formed with two crates and a large plank.
If anyone enters the water they will be knocked of their feet and slammed against the other wall. +10 Fall/Crush.

Nifral's Chamber

This is Nifral's chamber. In the room is a desk, a chair, a bed, a chest, and a frayed rug...
Nifral is sitting at his desk, muttering something, as he reads from a tome.
If attacked or accosted he will defend himself. He will try to talk with the PCs and excuse his behavior as harming no one. If pressed, he will then fight or flee.

The chest contains 3 dirty robes, and a black cloak (Spider Cloak)
In his desk is a small box in which sits his money and jewelry.
Also on the desk is one his books. ``Control of the Unliving'' - to 10th The text is written in Nurantic (an evil channelling language) - he is reading this.
His bookshelf contains the rest of his library. The top shelf contains two books, "On The Dispelling of Light" - Darkness to 20th and "The rending of Flesh" - Wounding to 10th The second is in Nurantic, while the first is in Skotia (Essence - Dark language). On the other side of the shelf is a single book. It is bound in plain leather, unlike the others, which are a dark leather. I t is called "The Love of Staves", it is written in the "Phonos" (Nominist) and has an inscription on the inside cover "My Son, Congratulations on your graduation to Wizardhood, 8239" (The current year is 8281)
The second shelf contains two pieces of heavy paper. Both are second level Rune papers. One still has an spell upon it. (Rune of Loves Lore)
The third and final shelf has a small book. It is Nifral's diary of the past month. It contains information on when and how he performed his necromantic acts. It proves he is a necromancer. It is written in the common tongue, although there are some notes in other tongues.

Return

If Nifral is dead the town priest can be brought to the old mines to fully destroy the Undead.

If Nifral is alive he should be taken to town.

The diary will allow the players to receive a 6 gold reward. They must take the evidence to the town sheriff who will present it to the Duke...It will take about a month before the reward turns up, as it is paid by the crown.

Appendix A. People


Nifral the Necromancer

As a child, Nifral was an only child living with his father - a hunter - as such Nifral never had many friends, and grew up a little sick and twisted. He appears to be 25 years old, has black hair, and brown eyes. He has pale skin and his eyes appear sunken into his flesh. His reasons for research into undead are many, but include a wish to revenge on those who ignored him, and to get some power that he never had in his youth.

Nifral should be played as pathetic character. Aim for as much pity as you can get. He is eager to be friends with anyone - and has no love for his undead, or the goblins in his employ. He is ashamed of what he has done, but will continue to do it.

Nifral
Level: 4Size: MMS/AQ: MD/MD (+0)
Base Move: 45 Max Pace: FSpt MM Bonus: +5
AT(DB)2(5)Crits: -- Treasure: l
Attacks: 40 Quarterstaff * / Spells
Outlook (IQ): Aggressive(AA)
Hits:38

Spells:

Magic Staff (4) Minor Staff, Wyrdlight, Staff Spell I, Lesser Staff
Darkness (3) Darkness II, Nightvision, DarkControl
Necromancy (6) Animate Dead I, Control Undead I, Undead Mastery, Animate Dead II, Create Undead I, Control Undead II
Wounding (4) Wounding I * (2', d10 dam), Cramp * (2', -1/RR fail), Bleed I * (2', Bleed 1/rnd), Wounding III * (2', 3d10 dam)

Appendix B. Monsters

Nark
Level: 2Size: MMS/AQ: SL/MD
Base Move: Max Pace: MM Bonus: +0
AT(DB)8(5)Crits: -- Treasure: *
Attacks: 40 Dagger / 20 Sling
Outlook (IQ): Aggressive(AA)
Hits:40

Wears Full helm. (Gives protection as noted on crit tables)
Class I Undead
Level: 1Size: MMS/AQ: VS/SL (-4)
Base Move: 40 Max Pace: Run MM Bonus: +0
AT(DB)1(10)Crits: I # Treasure: a
Attacks: 25 Small Bash
Outlook (IQ): Controlled (NO)
Hits:Flesh: 25/Skeletal: 25

The fresh one is the body of a wandering minstrel. His lyre and other gear can be found in the grass. If searched, the PCs will notice his torn shirt has a musical note stitched in place. This is obvious to anyone with any musical talent.

The skeletal one is a body taken from the graves.

Experimental Undead
Level: 0Size: MMS/AQ: VS/VS (-8)
Base Move: 35 Max Pace: Walk MM Bonus: -5
AT(DB)1(5)Crits: # Treasure: I
Attacks: 10 Small Bash
Outlook (IQ): Beserk (NO)
Hits:Skeletal Child: 1/ Skeletal Adult: 1

These undead fall to the ground, never to rise again on but a single blow. They are Nifral's first creations.

These are the remains of two of the bodies dug up from the town graves.

Appendix C. Items & Magics

Nark The Goblin

III - Location a:.1 Old Helm

A standard full helm. On the side is the Dukes coat of arms. Underneath is the mark of the guard. The number 12 can be seen on the side. This is the helmet of one of the two guards who went riding with the duke who died in a Goblin trap. See Last Duty

III - Location a:.2 Wealth

28 bp
6 ip (yes iron pieces)

Nifral's

III - Location b:.1 Wealth

A leather headband with gold trim and a symbol of an Eye. Worth 12sp
77 cp worth of various coins

III - Location b:.2 Spider Cloak

A black cloak, dark as night. Has a finish like silk, but is quite strong. Feels a little warm.

Non-magical.

+10 to hiding in darkness and dark areas.
Waterproof

III - Location b:.3 Rune of Loves Lore

A small scroll containing a complicated set of set of interlocking rings and circles.

2nd Level rune paper
Spell (Mentalism, Houri's Beguilement, 2nd): Analyze Individual (1 target, 10', Pm)
Caster learns details about the target's romantic emotional attachments (if any) and sexual preferences.


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