Island in the Mist

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2005

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"This scenario can range from dangerous to potentially lethal"

Introduction:

Island in the Mist is designed as a short scenario to introduce new players to HARP. For convention use, it is recommended that pregenerated characters of 1st-3rd level are used.

Prerequisites:

Island in the Mist requires that the gamemaster has access to HARP, College of Magics, and Monsters: A Field Guide. Martial Law will be useful.

Background

This scenario is set in a quasi-medieval setting, reminiscent of England, but with real magic and monsters. To adapt to another world, simply alter the names to suit. The time of year is early spring. Enniston is a village by Lake Ennismere, and is part of the domain of Earl Aldric. The peasantry of Enniston survive by farming and fishing. Ennismere is noted for its large freshwater octopi; the island (Ennis Isle) in the centre of the lake has been home to a succession of hermits.

Adventure Overview

The PCs are tasked to investigate the disappearance of villagers from Enniston (including the local priest). These local worthies had rowed over to Ennis Isle to discover the reason for the island being blanketed in a deep fog for more than a week. In retracing the villagers' route, the party will quickly become embroiled in a struggle against a fallen mage and his demonic master.

Depending on how effectively the GM runs Kasgoth and the Bindling Demon, this scenario can range from dangerous to potentially lethal. The Soul Burn attacks of the Bindling Demon can wreak havoc on party members who have made minimal effort in raising their Stamina RRs.

The Tale

Cedric Kasgoth was a Necromancer during the reign of the Usurper, but eluded arrest and imprisonment in the upheavals, which followed the Restoration of King Almeric the Great. Since his escape, Kasgoth has spent the intervening years in the study of Elementalism initially and later High Magic. His researches led him to believe that an isolated earthnode (connected only by two deep ley lines) was located on Ennis Isle. For almost a year, Kasgoth lived quietly as a hermit on the island, interacting rarely with the folk of Enniston. Unfortunately his past caught up with him when a disguised djinn bottle was washed up on the beach a month ago. Kasgoth's curiosity led him to open the bottle, releasing a Bindling Demon, which offered him arcane knowledge in return for its freedom. Persistence and Kasgoth's research failures gained the Bindling an audience and the opportunity to subtly corrupt Kasgoth through his tuition. A week ago, one of his magical experiments tapping the earthnode went awry creating a dense fog around Ennis Isle that has yet to lift. Kasgoth was knocked out for several days. Three days ago, a group of local worthies from Enniston, including the local priest (Father Radulfus), rowed over to the island. The priest sensed both magic and the stench of evil. The Bindling attacked the group when they found the comatose Kasgoth. During the combat, Kasgoth awoke and reacted instinctively with lethal force to defend himself. The villagers were all slain. The Bindling persuaded Kasgoth to raise the villagers as Skeletons to protect the island from further incursion while Kasgoth decides what to do next.

Joining the Story

The player-characters should be feudal retainers of the local earl, duty bound to their lord's service. On a regular progression through the southern fringes of the earldom, their patrol brings them to Enniston. Their responsibilities are clear -- investigate the island, and determine the cause of the fog and the fate of the villagers. The scenario should begin in the early afternoon with the party's arrival in Enniston.

The Maps

Two maps will be needed for this scenario, namely the island itself (Ennis Isle") and a plan of the hermit's cottage
Kasgoth's Hermitage. The author apologises for the sketchiness of the maps!

The Adventure

Event #1: A Plea for Help

As soon as the party arrives in Enniston and reveals their status as retainers of the Earl, they will be invited to join the rump of the village council in the local inn, the White Octopus. If asked about the inn's name, the villagers will mention that the lake is home to a variety of large belligerent (but tasty) octopi. However, they will be at pains to emphasise that there is a rather more pressing need for the adventurers.

Once the party is duly seated in the White Octopus and with beer to quench their thirst, Hardric the innkeeper in his unwanted role as council leader will relate the uncanny events of the past week, including what they know of the ill-fated expedition of Father Radulfus, the village sheriff Edwin ui Maneld, Corin his deputy, and three of the village's leading fishermen. The villagers are extremely alarmed that no one has returned in three days and their efforts to skirt the fog's fringes for them have failed to locate any sign for better or worse. Hardric will mention that Ennis Isle is (or perhaps was) inhabited by a hermit named Cedric, who only rarely had anything to do with the villagers. Seeking his God, one will say.

The villagers are willing to offer a sizable six-man fishing boat and a compass, but will only supply a fisherman guide (Taeryc) if they are ordered in the Earl's name. They can provide a sketch map of Ennis Isle and the lake.

GM's Note: The PCs might attempt unconventional means to reach the island. While a third-level Magician or Thaumaturge could conceivably teleport one person (using Long Door) at a time to the island, the dangers of such individual transportation to an unknown place, which cannot be seen should be obvious. In the event that the party is foolish enough to attempt this route, skip Events #2 and #3, and move straight to Event #4. Once the Bindling is aware of them, it can arrange for two Skeletons to attack out of the mist and can fetch the undead from the beach as reinforcements for the cottage. Flying to the island (using Fly) is also possible, but two-thirds of a mile should daunt most mages as it requires either 8 PPs worth of scaling for increased speed, 6 PPs (for 10 rnds/rank) and 2 PPs for 10 mph, or 8 PPs worth of scaling for 1 minute/rank duration. At 12 PPs per person and with no easy way of locating the island in the fog, this is likewise unwise. Should such an attempt be successful, skip Events #2 and #3, and proceed with Event #4 as described for handling teleporting adventurers.

Note that the Unfog spell (Elementalist Circle, College of Magics) will only provide a temporary respite from the mist in localized areas.

Event #2: Sailing into the Mist

Assuming that the party does take up the offer of a boat, it should take them about fifteen minutes to row (or sail their way) to the fringes of the fog (assuming a successful Medium Sailing Maneuver). Once in the fog (treat as light fog, visibility limited to 50' and --5 to all missile fire), the difficulty degree for sailing and similar maneuvers should be increased to Hard (-20) and progress will be slowed.

After they have been in the fog for a minute or so, allow a Hard Perception maneuver to sense the shape of an Octopus in the nearby waters. If the maneuver is failed, then the first warning will be its attempt to grapple one of the adventurers with its tentacles.

Unfortunately being on a small boat will substantially inconvenience the adventurers -- all combat-related skills (including attacks and any skill using Agility or Quickness) should be made at --70 (-60 for boat size, -10 for tranquil waters).

If the Octopus is reduced to 30 hits or less, it will decide that the adventurers are too dangerous for a meal and will disengage from the battle.

Reaching the beach should only take three or four minutes of further sailing and/or rowing.

Event #3: New Bones on the Beach

The party may choose either to anchor in the shallows just off the landing beach or (perhaps if they are unwilling to risk octopi while wading to and from the boat) they may prefer to beach their boat upon the sands. Despite the fog, they should have no difficulty in spotting a beached fishing boat resting on the sands. (If Taeryc is with him, he'll identify it as the sheriff's boat.) Much further up on the beach is the upturned hull of a smaller boat secured by stout ropes. (Again Taeryc can identify this as belonging to the hermit Cedric.)

Even with the fog, it is clear that Ennis Isle is lightly wooded. Lurking among the trees is a pair of Skeletons (formerly two fishermen). Unless the party have been exceptionally quiet, the Skeletons will have heard their landing and will attack once the party start heading towards the trail. If the party become engrossed into examining the boats, the Skeletons will attempt to sneak up on the adventurers.

The Skeletons will fight until they are destroyed.

Event #4: The Watcher in the Woods

As they walk along the trail, the commotion of their passing will draw the attention of the Bindling Demon, unless they make special efforts to maximise their stealth. It will follow them for a while to determine their intended direction. A successful Very Hard Perception maneuver will reveal that something with shadowy wings is quietly hunting them. A Medium Arcane Lore (Demon Lore) maneuver will reveal that the tracker is probably a Bindling Demon.

If the heroes decide to pursue it, the Bindling will fly deeper into the woods, using Quiet Ways to improve its Stalking and (if time permits) a Phantasms spell to lure pursuers into one of several pit traps located around the island. Being able to fly, the Bindling can lead pursuers personally but its instincts for self-preservation will incline it to utilise illusionary cat's paws. Eventually it will seek to warn Kasgoth.

If the party fails to spot the Bindling, it will leave them at speed to warn Kasgoth and then round up any surviving Skeletons to attack the party from behind once they reach the Hermitage.

The pit traps are only 8 feet deep (+8 OB (Tiny-Impact)) but require succeeding at an Extremely Hard Perception maneuver to avoid an unwelcome plummet.

Event #5: The Hermitage

The Hermitage is a simple single-storey cottage (about twenty-feet square) situated in a garden area (about 150 feet square) that is bereft of significant cover. The cottage is subdivided into a living room (about half the area), a small combination kitchen/pantry, and a small bedroom. The cottage has shutters for windows and only a single door (entering into the living room). With the exception of the living room windows, the windows and the door will all be closed.

Two Skeletons armed with long swords and shields and wearing the rigid leather armour of their former profession stand guard outside the door. (These were formerly the sheriff and his deputy.)

If the Bindling has been unable to warn Kasgoth, the necromancer will need to succeed at a Perception maneuver (unless the party eschew stealth) in order to have sufficient time to cast defensive spells (such as Stoneskin and Blur). The Skeletons may also hear the party before they come under attack and so be able to alert Kasgoth.

If Kasgoth has been warned, he will cast a scaled Stoneskin for increased duration and defence, followed by a normal Blur.

In a fight, Kasgoth will remain inside the cottage (using it as Full Hard Cover +100 DB) and firing spells through the open windows. He will use Acid Ball to soften up the first clump of attackers (if they aren't too close to the cottage or Skeletons) and then rely on unscaled Acid Bolts and Wounding spells to target individuals. He'll use Minor Healing to restore concussion hits lost by himself.

Within 15 rounds of the party entering the garden area, the Bindling and the remaining Skeletons will arrive on the scene. The Skeletons will simply attack the nearest heroes from behind, while the Bindling will concentrate on staying out of melee range and targeting the adventurers with Confusion and Sleep spells to disrupt them. The Demon will use ranged Soul Burn attacks on PC spell casters or heavily wounded PCs.

The Skeletons will fight to the death. If the adventurers corner Kasgoth, he will attempt to escape using Air Form (white mist) to seep through the cottage and into the fog. In this case, the Bindling will also flee with the intention of rejoining Kasgoth later. If Kasgoth is killed, the Demon will flee for its life, departing the island at least for the short-term.

Event #6: Aftermath

If Kasgoth has been killed, the earthnode will be released and the fog will naturally dissipate within half an hour.

The adventurers will have the unhappy task of returning the Skeletons' remains to the mainland for burial on consecrated ground. Any Cleric will be aware that the bodies must be buried or cremated in order to prevent them from being restored to undeath in the future.

Rummaging through Kasgoth's possessions will uncover several books of arcane lore (treatises on undead, necromancy, and high magic giving +10 to Arcane Lore (Undead Lore) and Arcane Lore (Spell Lore and High Magic) respectively) and Kasgoth's personal journal. His writing is appalling and the text is obscure in many places, but a detailed scrutiny will reveal that Ennis Isle possesses an Earthnode (connected to two deep ley lines) and that the Bindling Demon (apparently named Teleos) had been attempting to teach Kasgoth spells to tap the earthnode to amplify other magical effects. Kasgoth also wears a Hidden Helm, wields a +10 magical longsword, and has 60 gp secreted within his utility belt

The Earl will reward all the adventurers with 200gp each for discovering a new earthnode.

Rewards

Defeating the Octopus and destroying all of the Skeletons on the beach should be considered Minor Party Goals. Killing (or capturing) Kasgoth and slaying the Demon should be considered a Major Party Goal.

Game Statistics

Name Lvl Size BMR Init DB Hits Attacks Stam. Will Magic
1 Octopus 2 M 7 15 20 85 65 M-Grapple 35 25 25
4 Skeletons 3 M 12 15 45 115 80 S-Slash (shortsword)
70 S-Slash (claws)
25 25 25
2 Warrior Skeletons 3 M 12 15 80 115 80 M-Slash (longsword)
70 S-Slash (claws)
25 25 25
Teleos 5 S 10
20 fly
18 60 70 50 T-Slash
40 T-Crush
53 41 43
Kasgoth 8 M 10 17 34*
(54) (84)
90 50 M-Slash (longsword)
25 M-Puncture (longbow)
55 63 65

The Octopus has the following skills:
Swimming (9) 60 , Stalk & Hide (9) 59, Ambush (9) 59, Perception (9) 57

If the Octopus makes a successful critical strike on a target, the target suffers an additional S-Grapple critical at +10.

Four of the Skeletons have shortswords and soft leather armour. The other two Skeletons have longswords, normal shields, and rigid leather armour.
All Skeletons have Perception (10) 60 skill.

They are Class 2 Undead and possess Aura of Fear (affects all within 20'R, requires successful Will RR (15)) and Regeneration (Major) (2 hits/min except from fire or magical attacks). They also have Frailty (Crush) and suffer x2 damage from all crushing weapons.

The Bindling Demon, Teleos, has the following Demonic Abilities:
Dark Vision (Demonic) -- see up to 100' in any degree of darkness;
Demon Fear -- all within 10' must make a Will RR (100) or flee for 5 rounds
Immunity to Poisons
Regeneration (Major) -- regains 2 hits/min except from magical attacks or blessed weapons
Soul Burn (Minor) -- bolt of energy requires Stamina RR (100) or lose d10 Co points and 10x Co loss in hits. Usable 9 times per day.

Teleos's stats are:

ST:72(5); CO:75(9); AG:73(7); QU:74(7); SD:87(8); RE:90(8); IN:90(9); PR:89(9);

Teleos is a 5th-level Harper and has the following skills (only the most relevant skills are included):
Acting (5) 43, Arcane Lore: Demon (5) 41, Arcane Lore: Spell (6) 46, Duping (5) 43, Linguistics (3) 32, Mimicry (1) 22, Perception (10) 67, PP Dev (18) 83, Public Speaking (2) 28, Runes (2) 27, Stalking & Hiding (5) 40, Storytelling (1) 23, Swimming (1) 17, Trading (2) 28
Blur (3) 32, Changing Ways (6) 47, Charm (4) 37, Confusion (4) 37, Counterspell (10) 67, Detect Magic (4) 37, Minor Healing (3) 32, Phantasms (8) 57, Quiet Ways (3) 32, Sleep (8) 57, Tongues (10) 67

Teleos also has Arcane Power (High Magic) and some knowledge of High Magic spells to amplify the duration, area, and range of other spells. As the node is currently supplying the energy needed to maintain the fog, these abilities are useless at this time.

Cedric Kasgoth's stats are:

ST:72(5); CO:75(5); AG:90(10); QU:74(7); SD:91(9); RE:96(12); IN:90(10); PR:71(5);

He is a Human Necromancer (5)/ Elementalist (3) with the following Talents:
Additional Profession (Elementalist), Arcane Power (High Magic), Eloquence (+25 to all spell casting), Scope Skills (Targets: Acid Bolt), Sense Magic, Aggressive Magic (+10 to all Attack spells).

He has the following skills and spell knowledge (not including his uncertain grasp of High Magic):
Arcane Lore: Spell (5) 49, Arcane Lore: Undead (4) 44, Attunement (1) 25, Bow (2) 25, Crafts (3) 37, Disguise (3) 29, Duping (2) 25, Endurance (10) 90, Foraging (1) 27, Healing (1) 27, Jumping (1) 20, Local Lore (5) 49, Navigation (2) 32, Perception (5) 44, PP Dev (20) 119, Riding (1) 24, Sailing (1) 27, Stalking & Hiding (5) 44, Swimming (2) 25, Sword (5) 40
Acid Ball (9) 66, Acid Bolt (10) 71, Air Form (4) 41, Blur (3) 36, Control Undead (12) 81, Counterspell (10) 71, Detect Magic (4) 41, Dispel Magic (4) 41, Minor Healing (3) 36, Obscuring Mist (8) 61, Stoneskin (10) 71, Summon Undead (9) 66, Undead Mastery (15) 96, Water Breathing (5) 46, Wounding (4) 41

Kasgoth wears a Hidden Helm granting him an extra +20 to DB (HARP, page 162) and has sixty gold pieces secreted within his belt.

For completeness, Taeryc is a 1st-level Outdoor Craftsman, with all stats in the zero bonus range, RR bonuses of +10, 50 Hits, Init +0, BMR: 10',DB 20 (from soft leather armor), OB 20 in both Longsword and Longbow, and a Sailing skill of (6) +30.