The Redcap's Tower

Copyright Phillip Ellis © 2008

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"The maiden looks bedraggled, soaked to the skin, and her crying is heart-wrenching."

Synopsis

A rainstorm leads to a ghostly encounter. And that leads to the cause of a maiden's woes, in a fey opponent. Text in italics may be read out to the players.

Setting

You have been traveling for weeks through this inhospitable, barely-inhabited territory. You have not seen any habitations for days, and that last one was a lone, bare croft huddling from the winds. The land here is bare, with the bones of boulders and jagged rock edges jutting out of the desolate waste. The wind howls, lonely over the ground, and the sky is miserable, occluded with thick, rain-swollen clouds.

It is almost night when you decide to make a camp. As you do, there is a mutter of thunder: the storm will probably break soon. Looking around for any suitable shelter from the wind and the wet, you espy a low, crumbling ruin in the near distance. There appears to be a low wall, and maybe the remains of a keep. A wall, at least, would help provide shelter from the keenest of cutting winds.

Notes

The ruins are a good hour's walk away, and the light is failing fast. Also, the thunder becomes louder and more insistent as the party draws nearer to the ruins. Will they make it in time?

Depending upon how appreciative you want to make the players for their shelter, the rain may start immediately after they enter the ruined keep, or well beforehand, so that they arrive cold, wet and miserable.

The Keep: Description

What you find is the remains of a small keep, little more than what was once a tower surrounded by a wall. The wall itself is ruinous, with gaping gaps here and there. What was once the gate and gatehouse is now little more than a thigh-high scattering of cracked and crumbled stone. What was once the keep is now a low tower, barely more than twelve or fifteen feet high. There is a fissure in the keep, which is round, and it is possible to squeeze into the area beyond.

The Keep: Notes

For the most part, the keep is in ruins. But, by fortuitous chance, the lower chamber is intact, even if the stairs leading up are choked with rubble at the top.

Entering into the chamber, it is remarkably free of furnishings. All is bare, splinters of rock and a cracked stone staircase leading up being the only immediately discernible features. However, a Medium Locate Hidden (+0) will reveal a locked, wooden trapdoor in the floor, under the dirt. More on that later.

The chamber provides welcome shelter from the storm. The wind, whilst it howls around the walls outside, barely finds its way in here. All seems peaceful, even dead, until midnight, when (if all are asleep) the lightest sleeper amongst the party is awakened by the sound of sobbing coming from outside.

The Maiden: Description

Peering out of the gap in the wall, you see the pale form of a maiden wearing all white, crying in the rain. The storm has abated: the thunder has died, but a chill rain continues to fall through the lessened wind.

The maiden looks bedraggled, soaked to the skin, and her crying is heart-wrenching.

The Maiden: Notes

Elena, for that was the maiden's name, is a lesser ghost, but she is unaware of this. She will continue to cry, saying nothing until talked to. Then, if needs be, she will tell of her plight: that she has gotten caught in the storm, is lost, and that she has found herself at the ruins. Her horse, unfortunately, has gotten sick, and needs attention.

Basically, she will either try to persuade the player(s) to go out into the rain with her to tend to her horse, or she will allow herself to be persuaded to enter into the keep. In either case, she will try to come as close as she can to one or more players, basically, within ten feet, so that her CO drain can take effect (albeit unknowingly to herself). As she comes close to the player(s), mention how the air becomes chillier.

If the players become suspicious about her, encourage them to make a Medium Perception roll. If they succeed, they will easily note the drop in temperature, as well as the slight transparency of her figure, plus the fact that she is almost completely devoid of color, apart from her black hair and eyes. If her true nature is realized, she will seek to embrace the characters, one by one, until they drop in turn, and die. All the time, she will be crying, begging them for help.

As she is a ghost, her focus must be found—her bleached skeleton, which may be found after a Hard Observation of the keep's courtyard. With the skeleton is a rotting purse, holding 12 sp and 5 bp, and the threadbare remains of a pair of leather arm greaves, around her arm bones. Finding the bones and burying them will lay Elena to rest.

Complications

Having dealt with Elena and having found both her remains and her purse, your thoughts turn to the matter of integrating your new wealth with your existing funds. Except, as you go to add your takings, you find that your own money has disappeared!

Further, there is the sound of something heavy and wooden falling within the keep: you instinctively go to see what it is, and note not only an open wooden trapdoor, but a stunted figure in heavy boots and red cap. It is wielding a spear, grinning with evil yellow teeth at you, and climbing out of the opening in the floor. The cap, you notice, is dripping redness; could it be blood?

Complications: Notes

What the party might now realize is that Elena had been murdered by the redcap that dwells in these ruins, and that he is after them! Basically, he will attempt to attack with the spear, using it as a melee weapon rather than throwing it. All the while, he will cackle and leer at them, and his lips will slaver over the prospect of another kill.

If the fight goes against him, and he gets the chance, he will retreat to the chamber below, and close and lock the wooden trapdoor, taking one round to do so. If cornered, he will fight to the death, rather than surrender, though he is not averse to trickery if the opportunity permits itself.

The spear is non-magical, but +5.

The Lower Chamber: notes

This ruinous hole is dominated by faded wooden stairs leading up to the trapdoor, a filthy bed of rags, and a cracked and open well. Searching the bed will turn up the characters' money, plus 4 cp, 2 bp, 15 sp, and an apple-green prehnite, worth 7 sp.

Elena (II)

Level: 4
Base Rate: 75
Max Pace/MN Bonus: Spt/10
MS/AQ: MF/MF
Size/Crit: M/LA#
Hits: 55
AT(DB): 1(40)*
Attacks: 40MGr/Special
Bonus EP: B
Outlook(IQ): Passive (AV)

Redcap

Level: 6
Base Rate: 125
Max Pace/MN Bonus: Dash/+40
MS/AQ: BF/VF
Size/Crit: M/--
Hits: 105
AT(DB): 1(20)
Attacks: 80sp
Bonus EP: B
Outlook(IQ): Aggres. (AV)

New Creature

Redcaps

Level: 5E
Base Rate: 125
Max Pace/MN Bonus: Dash/+40
MS/AQ: BF/VF
Size/Crits: M/--
Hits: 100D
AT (DB): 1(20)
Attacks: 75sp
# Enc: *
Treasure: *
Bonus EP: B
Outlook (IQ): Aggres. (AV)
wmktc-#, (--, --, --)-6

A Redcap is an evil-hearted, murderous fairy found almost exclusively in ruined castles. A Redcap murders travelers who stray into its home, and it dyes its hat with its victims' blood. Redcaps must, in fact, kill regularly, for if the blood that stains their hats were to dry out, then the fairy would die. They are very fast in spite of the iron-tipped spears that they wield and the iron-shod boots that they wear. Normally, outrunning them is impossible, given their speed.