Jukath's Trap

Copyright Jörg Jahnke © 2006

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"But Jukath has developed a wicked plan: In order to make himself a name as an intelligent strategist he plans to play the rebels against some cheaply hired adventurers"

Preface

This adventure is suitable for 3--5 Rolemaster or MERP characters of 5th--10th level.

The setting is Angmar in the middle of the Third Age of Middle Earth.

Please send comments to epost@joergjahnke.de.

Have fun playing the adventure.

Jörg

Plot Synopsis

The adventure is divided into two parts: In the first part the adventurers are enlisted by prince Jukath to locate and eradicate a band of rebels. However, the GM should encourage the adventurers not to follow through with this mission and to instead team up with the rebels. As long as the adventurers spend some effort investigating the rebels, they should pick up on signs of the rebels' good disposition.

Regardless, Jukath does not plan to pay the adventurers their promised reward. Instead he will have one of his scouts pursue the adventurers. A troop of soldiers, led by Jukath's captain, follows. Once the adventurers have discovered the rebels, the scout will inform the captain. The soldiers will attack the camp not distinguishing between rebels and adventurers—everyone in the camp is supposed to be killed.

If it appears that the adventurers will team up with the rebels, this attack should take place directly after such an agreement. Otherwise it will transpire while the adventurers are fighting the rebels. In this case the adventurers must decide who to fight because Jukath's men will immediately set upon both the rebels and the adventurers. (These attacks may appear, at first, to be a mistake, but this possibility is unlikely after multiple rounds of combat.) Should the adventurers continue fighting the rebels, Jukath's men should have little trouble defeating both the rebels and the adventurers; the latter will need to flee or surrender. If the adventurers turn on Jukath's men, the rebels should be able to repel the attack. After the fight, the adventurers can unite with the rebels.

In the second half of the adventure, the rebels and adventurers seek to drive away Jukath and his men. This is goal is achieved if Penmorva is no longer occupied by Dunlendings and Easterlings (which does not necessarily mean that all of these must be killed). The regency can then be assumed by either the rebel leader or by an influential PC. In either case, the new prince will face difficult conditions because he is surrounded almost exclusively by the witch king's subjects and can only count on the assistance of the few resident Dunedain and their descendants. But that is another story...

Introduction

During the reign of the witch-king of Angmar:

Rhudaur has fallen to the troops of the witch king whose troops are now spreading throughout the country. The witch king's generals have been appointed as local princes and do as they please, often oppressing the local people.

This oppression has fostered resistance. In the Dunlending principality around the fortress Penmorva in the Ettenmoors some rebels have organized themselves under the guidance of rangers. The rebels have repeatedly attacked the prince's soldiers from a small forest to the east of the castle. So far prince Jukath (Lvl 10, 120 Hits, AT 18, DB 15 + 30 with shield, 125 melee OB, 90 shield bash, 115 missile OB, see also "Empire of the Witch King" pg. 124) has not succeeded in eliminating these rebels.

But Jukath has developed a wicked plan: In order to make himself a name as an intelligent strategist he plans to play the rebels against some cheaply hired adventurers, people who would normally fight against the witch king and his allies. Therefore, Jukath advertises throughout his realm for powerful warriors and mages seeking a great reward.

After a strict selection he tells the remaining adventurers of his problem: "In the eastern forests, a group of bandits terrorize the surrounding countryside and I intend to eliminate this rabble. Unfortunately, my soldiers have not been successful so far. To date, their attempts to scour the forests have resulted in many dead soldiers, but only one of the bandits was killed.

"Therefore I have decided to send a handful of courageous men to put an end to this threat. I understand that perhaps you have qualms with helping a Dunlending, but you serve a good cause. In addition to my soldiers, many civilians have fallen prey to these bandits. As an indication of my goodwill, each of you will receive 100 pieces of gold in advance."

Further inquiry may reveal the following:

-- "The slain bandit was a Mixed Man."

-- "The entire reward amounts to 1000 pieces of gold."

-- "The hideout of the bandits' hideout is not known."

Shortly after the adventurers have set forth, Jukath sends a small force to dispatch any adventurers or rebels that survive the initial fight. (The size of the reward may serve as a sign that Jukath does not plan on paying the reward.)

Searching for the Hideout

Because the PCs have no idea where the hideout might be located, the PCs should try to gather information from some of the nearby villages. What they should quickly realize is 1) the bandits have not attacked the local population and 2) Jukath is exploiting the locals, having raised taxes three times during the course of the last year. Unfortunately, the civilians only know that the bandits retreat into the nearby forests.

Some civilians have been targeted by the bandits—those who are sympathetic to the Dunlendings and Jukath. In particular, one of the tax collectors can provide a detailed description of where he was once attacked. The tax collector feigned unconsciousness, which allowed him to note the direction in which the bandits departed.

Once near the location where the tax collector was ambushed, the adventurers can 1) lie in wait for a group of rebels to follow or 2) try to find tracks. If the adventurers spoke with the tax collector, tracking the rebels is Very Hard and takes four hours. Otherwise, the Tracking maneuver is Sheer Folly and takes two days. In the latter case, the adventurers will first find tracks left by some of Jukath's soldiers, which will lead to the site where these soldiers were attacked. From there, the PCs can follow the rebels' tracks to the hideout.

Rebel Rabble

There are 15 rebels (Lvl 2--5 Rogues) including their leader, a Dunedain named Shakhor (Lvl 9, 111 Hits, AT 17, DB 10 + 25 with shield, 110 Melee OB, 105 Missile OB), and his second in command, Fuindil (Lvl 8, 98 Hits, AT 15, DB 30, OB 110th, 95sp thrown, 1 Open Channeling List to Lvl 5, 8 PP, see also "Sealords of Gondor" pg. 61).

If the rebels are attacked by the adventurers, Shakhor will try to stop the fighting as soon as he realizes that the attackers are neither Dunlendings, nor their allies. Once the fighting stops, he will try to convince the adventurers that they should fight with him against the Dunlendings. He will indicate that the rebels oppose Jukath's oppressive reign and that they have not killed any civilians (although they have been blamed for some deaths).

If the butchery between the PCs and rebels continues, the fight will last until the PCs withdraw, or one side has been vanquished. If the PCs withdraw, allying with the rebels will probably not be possible.

Betrayal

Independent of whether or not the rebels and adventurers ally, Jukath has arranged for his deputy (see Hoerk Aran in Angmar, pg. 120 or use the standard Lvl 10 Fighter) to lead 20 mounted Easterlings (Lvl 2--5 Fighters) against the rebels and adventurers.

Following this betrayal, the PCs should be eager to deprive Jukath of his position. If not, the rebels will recommend a counterattack. (Note that once it is obvious that his plan has failed, Jukath will place his soldiers on high alert; even if all the Easterlings are killed, their absence will eventually be noted.)

Castle Penmorva

Penmorva is a small stronghold (see Angmar, pg. 115) defended by 30 soldiers (Lvl 1--2 Fighters), 8 sergeants (Lvl 3--4 Fighters) and 5 officers (Lvl 5 Fighters). Jukath and his two bodyguards (Lvl 7 Fighters) are also present.

The rebels themselves know almost nothing about the stronghold. Possible ways to gain information about the castle's layout and defenses include:

-- interrogating a Penmorva soldier caught during the attack,

-- a nocturnal scouting mission, or

-- interviewing merchants who sell their wares at the stronghold.

The PCs and rebels should probably not launch a direct attack on the castle. Alternatives include:

-- trying to assassinate Jukath,

-- luring patrols from Penmorva into a trap, or

-- stealing the castle treasury (which would demoralize the soldiers).

Castle Plan

Penmorva lies in the Ettenmoors halfway between Cameth Brin and the mountains north of Angmar. It is built on a small hill from with a good view of the surrounding countryside.

The whole fortress is surrounded by a 15' tall solid stone wall, which is perforated with arrow slits. Small lookout posts atop the wall can be reached using ladders.

Most of the buildings inside the castle are about 10' tall. Exceptions include a 3-story (40') tower in the southwest and the 18' building that houses the throne room.

In the inner court, three soldiers patrol, regardless of the hour. These are replaced every 2 hours by soldiers from the barracks. Inside the barracks, two men patrol during the day.

Because the inside of the castle contains only a few windows, all rooms and corridors are illuminated by torches, which are regularly replaced by the guards.

The at least four guards at the gate (two inside, two outside) who are equipped with horns with which they can sound an alarm. These guards are replaced every 3 hours.

In the second floor of the tower lives the mage Adalmon, whom the prince can contact three times each day using a jeweled ring (Lvl 8 Magician, see also Angmar pg. 120, "Mages"). Adalmon knows the "Lofty Bridge" Closed Essence list and is very loyal to Jukath.

In the first floor of the tower is a lookout occupied by four soldiers. Two of these monitor the inner courtyard.

In addition to the soldiers, there 20 servants including a smith and three cooks. These live in the meagerly furnished servant quarters east of the stables.

The stables are guarded by one soldier who is replaced every four hours. Inside the stable is a farmhand who attends to the horses.

In the smithy the smith can be found 90% of the time during the day and 5% during the night. There are some steel weapons to be found (1--2 completed weapons) and maybe (70%) a suit of steel armor. Finished goods are usually brought to the armory or to the barracks. If the smith is not present, the door is locked (Medium Picking Locks).

The smith retrieves the key to the armory from Jukath every evening in the throne room. Without this key the door is Extremely Hard to pick and is secured with a trap (+50 Firebolt, Sheer Folly Detecting Traps, Extremely Hard Disarming Traps). Only Jukath and Adalmon know of the secret door in the armory. It is locked, but can be opened from either side (Very Hard Picking Locks, Extremely Hard Locate Hidden). If the armory key is not used to unlock the secret door, a small poisoned needle is triggered (Level 7 Jegga Poison, 10--100 hits, Sheer Folly Detecting Traps, Hard Disarming Traps).

Another secret door is behind the bar of the castle tavern (a seedy gin dive frequented by the soldiers). In addition to Juakth, Adalmon and the landlord, three of the soldiers and one of the servants know of the secret door. Finding the door is a Very Hard Locate Hidden maneuver when inside the tavern (or Medium once behind the bar) and Sheer Folly from outside the castle. A small lever behind the bar swings the door open.


During the day, Jukath can be found in the throne room (70% of the time), in his private quarters (20%) or with Adalmon in the courtyard (10%). The throne room is accessible via an antechamber guarded by a single soldier; two more soldiers guard the throne room. The area is very well lit and decorated with tapestries. At the western end is a large table that seats 20 people where Jukath takes his meals.

The prince's private quarters are guarded by one soldier when Jukath is not present and by two soldiers when he is inside. The door is opened with a key carried by Jukath (Very Hard Picking Locks). The room contains a splendid bed, a cabinet, a desk, two comfortable chairs and a chest of silver used to pay the soldiers. The cabinet has two hidden panels (Very Hard Locate Hidden) where 1) gold and jewels and 2) an ornate +20 dagger can be found.

The cooks each have a key to the pantry (Light Picking Locks) used to store barrels of wine, water, and beer, haunches of meat, and sacks of flour. The pantry also contains pitch and rations in the event of a siege.

During the day, two or three cooks are busy in kitchen, which contains standard kitchen equipment.

In two of the four unguarded prison cells (Extremely Hard Picking Locks) are a Sindar Elf and a Dwarf whom Jukath captured some time ago. The two are in miserable shape, but will offer their assistance in exchange for freedom.