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The Ruins at Deadman's Dike

Copyright Joe Mandala ©2002

Editor's Note: The adventure comes with pregenerated characters, but can be easily adapted for any group.
You can download here the maps and character sheets.


Deadman's Dike is the common name for the ruins of Fornost Erain. Fornost was the military capital of Arthedain during the long and brutal wars with Angmar. When it was overrun and destroyed by the Witch King in Third Age 1974, the evil sorcerer cursed the ruins and caused them to become haunted. The Witch King was then destroyed by a comined army of the remnants of the Arthedanian military, Elves from Lindon, and a large force from Gondor. This is all a thousand years before our present story, which occurs in T.A. 2989, the same year that Balin re-enters Moria. Surrounding Fornost were many small keeps and manors belonging to the Greater and Lesser Houses of Arthedain. These were also overrun in the Witch King's initial victory, and many were subsequently haunted just as the city was. Many of these manors were defended to the last by their inhabitants, and many of the landowners were able to hide their treasures before being overtaken. Our story takes place in one of these Manors, to the south of Fornost Erain (Deadman's Dike).

The Story

The mapNorth of Bree lived an old Hermit, who many in the area thought a bit daft. He was, in fact, the last heir of a Lesser House of Arthedain. Once a member of the Rangers of the North, he had decided to spend his time studying the history of the kingdom, and has written many scrolls about it. At the time of our story, he has died, but had given a map of his family's estate to an old friend of his - a farmer in Bree. Now the old farmer has passed on, giving the map to his grandson (Harry Milkvine). He told Harry it was an old treasure map, and the young man has decided to go treasure hunting. Harry didn't keep his map a secret, and had soon gathered a group of people to accompany him on his venture - folks from in and around Bree.
Note: If there are not enough players for the characters, then Tom, followed by Rory, and then Darim can be omitted. No others should be omitted. It would be preferable to have them run as NPCs.
Meanwhile, the Rangers had heard of this map, and have decided to send along one of their own - one who is experienced in recovering old treasures, and knows much about the history of Arthedain. This is the Ranger Feredir, who also has asked a Dwarf warrior (Darim) to accompany them. Feredir has left Harry little choice in the matter, and Harry was easily convinced to bring along the self-invited chaperone. This is mainly because nobody in Bree really knows how to read Sindarin all that well, and the map is written in this language. Feredir, being a Dunadan, knows Sindarin and is able to read the map easily. The map is titled "Keep at Little Hill" and has two annotations on it. To the northwest of the keep is "stony land," and to the southeast is a "barrow." The road to Bree and Fornost Erain is also labeled.
At the old manor, things are a bit different than the map shows. The farmland is all woods now, and the manor completely ruined. A group of Orcs from Angmar (a land still infested with much evil) has come this far south in search of easy plunder. The Rangers are as yet unaware of this small threat, but there is little chance that the Orcs would make it far once the Rangers know of them. The orcs have encamped themselves in a cave near the manor. They have approached the manor, but are afraid to enter, for they can sense that there is something more powerful than themselves there.
In fact, the manor is haunted by a minor wight, who is tied to both the long-desiccated body of the manor's former owner, and the cache of weapons and treasure hidden there. The wight will assail the party if they discover and disturb either the bones or the treasure. The orcs will not approach the manor, but if they notice the intruders they will attack them on their way out.


There are several potential enemies on this trip. The first is a member of the party, Bert Cowleaf. Bert is somewhat of a ruffian, and may take advantage of any weakness in the party to make off with what he can. Bert is not really that bad of a person, though, and will relent if confronted (see character sheet for Bert). Things may get interesting just before the party returns to Bree, however, as Bert's "henchmen" will become a factor. The natural dangers of the wilderness could also be considered an enemy. The party will encounter a bear and her cub on the journey up. If they do something foolish they could very well have some serious trouble on their hands.
The orcs, of course, are the most obvious and normal of the enemies on this trip. They are a small band (5 of them), and not terribly dangerous as the denizens of evil go. If they manage an ambush, of course, things could get very bad very quickly for our heroes. Finally, there is the wight which haunts the manor. This is a dangerous foe, and should be described in a very spooky and creepy way (there are suggestions later). Wights can only be affected by magical weapons (which none in the party will have until they disturb the cache of treasure). They are, however, chased away by the sunlight. A successful Willpower check against the wight's Bearing will allow free actions - one of which should be to somehow expose the wight to sunlight. Fighting the thing is a dangerous and likely futile course of action.

The adventure

After getting themselves equipped, the party sets off north along the old Greenway (the North Road). It will take them approximately 5 days to reach the manor.

As you travel north, the weather is pleasant and warm (but not hot). The trees sway softly in the breeze, and you hear the sounds of the wilderness all around you - birds and small animals living their small lives. The old road is level and easy to travel, and you make good time.

On the third day, however, something of interest occurs. As the party comes around a bend in the road (which is overgrown and surrounded by stands of trees), they are confronted by a large and surprised bear.

As your round a bend in the road, you are surprised to see a large bear in the center of your path. The bear also seems a bit surprised, and rears itself up, roaring a challenge. It is a large bear, and seems not the least bit intimidated by your presence. It shuffles forward a bit, refusing to back away.

Have the players make Observe:spot rolls with a TN of 10. If anyone succeeds, they will see a cub standing off to the side of the road on the right. The mother bear will insert herself between the party and the cub. If the party simply goes around the bears on the side opposite the cub, they will have no problem (have them make a Lore: Fauna roll with a TN of only 5 to realize this if they don't on their own).

Black Bear
Bearing 7 (+0), Nimbleness 9 (+1), Perception 10 (+2), Strength 11 (+2), Vitality 10 (+2), Wits 2 (-2).
Stamina +2, Swiftness +2, Willpower +0, Wisdom +0
A.Combat: Fangs +2, A.Combat: Claws +5, Indimidate: Fear (roar) +4, Observe: smell (+8), Run +3
Special Abilities
Fangs: the bear does 1d6+2 damage with its fangs, Claws: the bear does 1d6+3 damage with its claws
Health: 12
Following the encounter with the bear, the party makes it with little trouble to the area of the Manor. Only Feredir has a good idea of exactly where they're going - he has been through this area many times before. Turning east off of the Old North Road, the party travels for the remainder of the fifth day before they spot the hill with its ruins crowning it. Nearby is the ruined foundation of the inn that sat at these crossroads, and several ruined buildings that are indistinguishable from the natural rocky outcroppings in the area.

The hill upon which lie barely visible jumbled ruins pokes up through the treetops to your east. The "road" you've been following is at this point little more than an unused track that plunges down to the banks of a stream below. Just off the path are the ruined foundations of a fairly large building - completely overgrown and almost invisible. It is growing darker, and as the sun sets in the west an eerie hush falls over the woods.

The ruinsThe party is only 1/8 of a mile or so from the ruins, but will need to camp here for the night rather than risk crossing the stream in the dark. The night is unusually quiet, but nothing really happens. The next morning when they awaken and make their trek to the ruins, nothing interesting happens. They all get a bit wet crossing the stream, and Darim (the Dwarf) is probably not all that happy. As they approach the top of the hill, they notice that there don't seem to be any small animals around.

Approaching the top of the hill, you see scattered foundations and ruined buildings here and there. You reach the sparsely wooded hilltop and you see the remains of a large building which is half-surrounded by a monstrously overgrown hedge, and small building just to its west which has a tree growing through the center of it. What once must have been an impressive building is completely ruined. There are piles of stone all around, and the only thing left of the keep is the foundation wall. The northwest and northeast corners of the keep are the only areas where this wall is higher than two feet. You still notice no small animals, and the hilltop seems strangely quiet.

There is nothing really of interest in the outbuilding, but nearby are the tracks of the orcs who came to investigate when they arrived three days ago. Have Feredir make a Track roll with a TN of 12. If he succeeds by 5, he will note that the tracks are three days old. If he succeeds by 8, he will also note that there were 3 orcs, and that they turned immediately around and left the hill going eastward. If he succeeds by 10 he will in addition gather the information that they were joined by two other orcs at the bottom of the hill before they left the area - and that one of the orcs is larger than the rest.
If the party decides to track the orcs before entering the ruins, go to the Orcs section.
In the ruins of the keep, though, there is a trap door in the northwest corner buried under rubble and overgrowth. Have the characters make Search rolls with a TN of 10 to find the trapdoor. If they do not succeed, then give them hints that something seems not right in the NW corner, and have them try again with a TN of 8.

The Ruins

This trap door (or what's left of it) opens into the remnants of the first basement of the old keep. When the characters open it, or even mess with it much at all, it will collapse, spilling debris and rubble down a dark black hole.

As you stand over the hole, a strange mildewy smell wafts upward. The air is stale and dank, and you cannot see far. There is a floor below - around 10' down. As the trapped air escapes, it makes a sighing, almost mournful, sound. Off in the far distance you hear the howl of a wolf.

When the characters lower themselves into the hole and get some light down there, they will see a fairly large room (around 50' on a side) strewn with rubble. The walls are buckled and have collapsed in several places. The weight of the earth above seems to be pressing down on the very air in the chamber. On the east and south wall are collapsed doorways. A successful search roll (TN: 7) will reveal that the rubble in the south wall almost completely covers a skeleton, and that there may be a way to clear some of the rubble and get to what looks like a room beyond.

Buried under the rubble of the collapsed wall are the bones of a man. His belongings are rotted away, but as you uncover the corpse you see that his helmet is intact and not even rusted. He clutches in his right hand a long dagger, the blade of which is covered in runes. You can see an empty space beyond the rubble - perhaps a room beyond this one.

The helmet and dagger are magical. The helmet will increase the wearer's Bearing by +1 while it is worn. The dagger is of Numenorian make, and gives it's wielder a +1 Armed Combat when used. It will also deal +2 damage to orcs, goblins, and their ilk. The party would do well to safely inter this body before they leave the site so that the wight will not return. The next room is small (15'x15' or so), and better preserved than the first room. Only the SE corner is collapsed, and beyond this rubble there is only more rubble. A successful search roll (TN: 10) will reveal an alcove on the west wall - some of the stones meant to hide it are on the floor in small piles. Inside the alcove is a treasure cache. There are two unblemished longswords (both give a +1 and are magical), a chain shirt (which is also magical and will absorb 3 extra damage), two daggers identical to the one the corpse was clutching, and a beautiful ring. The ring is the signet ring of this manor's House Seal. There are also two piles of metal - one is an almost completely corroded pile of silver (from which can be recovered around 10 silver pieces worth of wealth), and a pile of gold coins (40 gold pieces of ancient Arthedainian mint). Soon after the items are disturbed (minutes), things get very strange in the ruins (this affects the entire basement area, but not the ruins above).

It suddenly seems darker in the room, as if the torchlight was coming from far off. You begin hearing strange sounds - as if shouts coming from far away, or maybe from up above and other places in this basement. You hear the clanging of metal, and the guttural voices of orcs. Screams of terror and pain are coming from all around you, and the torches sputter and go out.

As the torch goes out, the wight will come forth and attempt to draw the characters into the shadow realm. If it manages to touch them and draw them into slumber, they will dream of the Angmarean assault on this keep. The wight will begin with those that are nearest the treasure alcove, and work its way toward the trap door. There are two ways to defeat the wight. If anyone makes it back to the entrance, they will notice that the trap door is closed and seems to suddenly be in perfect shape. They are seeing the shadow-realm version of the door. All they need to do is open this door and light will come streaming into the basement. The wight will wail and fade away when exposed to the sunlight. The other way to defeat the wight is to battle it with the newly acquired magic swords. This will not be easy in the dark.

Lesser Wight
Bearing 11 (+2), Nimbleness 8 (+1), Perception 8 (+1), Strength 10 (+2), Vitality 8 (+1), Wits 7 (+0)
Stamina +2, Swiftness +1, Willpower +2, Wisdom +2
A.Combat: longsword +5, Indimidate: Fear +5, Observe:spot +4, Stealth: hide +7
Special Abilities
BURNED BY DAYLIGHT: exposed to sunlight causes 2d6 damage every round
ICY TOUCH: every round of contact, victim loses 2 points of STR and VIT, when either reaches zero, victim is unconscious for 2d6x10 minutes - recover 1 in each attribute every 10 minutes
SPELLS: see book (p 294)
Health: 13
After (hopefully) defeating the wight and resting a bit, the party can choose to track down the orcs. This might also happen before they even enter the ruins.

The Orcs

The orcs should be a relatively simple challenge after the horror of the wight. There are 5 of them, and they are all fairly identical except for their leader. They have made their temporary home in a cave to the east of the ruins, and should be relatively easy to track there (TN: 5). If the characters arrive there during they day, the orcs will not come out to fight in the sunlight. They will remain in the back of the cave (which is protected from the sun). If the characters enter, there will be a short and bloody fight. The orcs hold no treasure, and only have the standard orcish trappings, which are usless to the characters and worth nothing.

Orc Leader
Bearing 8 (+1), Nimbleness 7 (+0), Perception 8 (+1), Strength 10 (+2), Vitality 10 (+2), Wits 8 (+1)
Stamina +2, Swiftness +1, Willpower +1, Wisdom +1
A.Combat: scimitar +6, Indimidate: fear +4, Observe: spot +5, R.Combat: shortbow +3, Run +3, Stealth: sneak +4, Track:scent +1
Health: 12

Orcs (4)
Bearing 6 (+0), Nimbleness 7 (+0), Perception 8 (+1), Strength 8 (+1), Vitality 8 (+1), Wits 5 (+0)
Stamina +2, Swiftness +1, Willpower +0, Wisdom +0
A.Combat: scimitar +4, Intimidate: fear +2, Observe: spot +4, R.Combat: shortbow +2, Run +3, Stealth: sneak +4, Track:scent +1
Health: 9
If the characters do not track the orcs down and kill them, then the orcs will attempt to ambush the characters near the ruins of the old inn (down by the stream) at night. That would be a much more difficult fight.

The Trip Home, Conclusion

The trip home will be mostly uneventful, until they get near Bree. There they will be confronted by Bert's ruffians. They will not fight, but will only demand that they turn over the treasure. If the party attacks them, they will flee (and Feredir will hold the PCs back if this happens). If the party refuses, they will strut a bit, then give up. They really don't want to fight Feredir and Darim, as heavily armed and armored as they are. If they are shamed they will be conspicuously absent when the party returns to Bree and everyone turns out at the Prancing Pony to hear the story (and perhaps a song composed by Tom).
Feredir will ask Harry to let him have the magical items, but will not want any of the money. If Harry doesn't want to give up the weapons, then Feredir will ask for at least the two (or even one) longswords - but he will not insist. Some moral pressure should be placed on Harry (and the others) for this, since Feredir wants them for the fight against the Enemy.
Willie (the innkeep and Rory's boss) will be happy to see Rory, and will want to put him back to work as soon as possible. Harry's father will be happy to see him, but will want to know what he gained from the adventure. Tom will no doubt immediately start singing to the crowd. Depending on the denoument of the adventure, Bert will probably not be present. Feredir will quietly slip out of the crowd and disappear. Darim will likely get ready to leave Bree and head back to the Blue Mountains within a day or two. The townsfolk will be amazed at the stories and want to hear them over and over again. They will be the topic of conversation for some time, and eventually the stories will become a small local legend.

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