Approximate time to read: 8 minutes.
Following on from Part 1 of Ruinous Encounters, a selection of encounter ideas based on Pär Lindström’s in-progress map, today offers another couple of ideas. The first – a Customs Post – might suit attention by a party of Zeroes, while the second – an abandoned Chapel – certainly will not.
You can swap this map out for one of your own if you have one – or adapt any of these ideas to fill an empty location in an adventure you’re planning to run. The outlines below do not go into heavy detail on the content or appearance of rooms in the cellar – feel free to expand on the descriptions and improvise.
You could extend the Table 1: Type of Dig Site (p6) in the Symbaroum – Adventure Pack 1 to include these locations as additional results. Either swap one out or replace it with one of these options should you roll the same number next time the treasure-seekers go exploring.
I’d recommend you following Pär Lindström over on Google+ for his ongoing, in-progress map work. You can get the final version of his old Temple Ruin on RPGNow or check out his other Imaginary Maps map packs. Pär has a whole range of interesting maps available – any of which might be suitable for your Symbaroum adventures.
Location: Could be anywhere in Ambria (or Alberetor), but might be an older repurposed structure and therefore literally situated anywhere. Whatever the setting, it has to be near a road – or trail that once served as a major road – given the purpose of the original structure.
Structure: Stone tower, possibly reclaimed from an earlier building. At some point, the occupiers recycled a second tower – the gatehouse – into supporting columns and lower walls. Anyone searching the ground outside the east wall [Cunning or Vigilant] will spot the regular patterns evident in the color and growth of the grass. The posts timberwork has been lost to the elements.
Material Keywords: Reclaimed, Imposing, Disused
Discovery: The ruin has become home to a band of indignant goblin brigands, determined to make something more of their existence than serve as the laborers for Ambrian taskmasters. They left their homes and escaped into the wilderness, pursued by the sellswords of their master. In their flight, they stumbled across the ruins of the Customs Post and decided to make it their new den. Over the period of their stay, they’ve come to appreciate the building as something of an architectural dream – appreciating the intermingling of cultural craftsmanship. Naive curiosity has led them to spend as much time digging around in the basement as they have spent waylaying and robbing travelers.
Upper levels: Unless the party manage to spot the lookouts and draw a shot from the archer, they find the customs post a ramshackle mess of scrubby, unhealthy-looking grass and fallen stonework. If the party notes the pattern in the grass outside the east wall, they’ll realize that changes have been made to the structure. A thorough search [Cunning or Vigilant −3 or without modifier if the character is a Dwarf or Master Thief] will find a concealed stone trapdoor covered with a thick layer of spongy moss and short-rooted grass. Once the party enters the ruin – and assuming the lookouts had the chance to give their signal – the other brigands will use this trapdoor as a means to ambush from the rear.
Lower levels: The first thing the party see on descending will be a long piece of twine with a brass bell at the end. The goblins have turned the square room at the bottom into an open living space, with cots and pallets for sleeping. Faced with intruders, the brigands can quickly upturn these beds as cover, giving them the chance to use Ranged and Long weapons. The passage and cells direct east contain sacks and boxes of supplies stolen by the brigands, with some spare weapons and a couple of shields. A ladder at the end of the passage leads to the surface.
In the southern section, the branch to the east serves as the personal quarters of Brogg, the leader of the brigands. The three cells serve as his ‘study’, bedroom and store. The study contains a few books, scraps of parchment and a couple of maps. The bedroom contains a superior cot made from finely crafted wood, comfortable furnishing, and a mirror. The store contains a couple of good swords, a fine leather long coat, and Brogg’s personal hoard – consisting of 20 thalers worth of goods, gems, and coin.
The southern passage starts with an alcove used by a permanent guard, then half-a-dozen cells. Only two cells have occupants – one a captured trader, Serio, and the other Brogg’s pet, a Tricklesting (p219).
Threat: The upper level of the ruin serves as a lookout for the brigands, so the only danger lies out of view at the top of the tower. On the top floor, two look-outs keep an eye on the road, taking advantage of the view and cover offered to spot travelers early and with little chance of detection [Vigilant−7]. Should they spot anyone they tug a piece of twine that rings a small brass bell in the cellar – only audible if someone states they stop and listen within 100 meters [Vigilant−2] and near enough to make them a target for the goblin lookout’s bow.
Traits Bushcraft, Short-lived
Accurate 10 (0) [11 (−1)]**, Cunning 9 (+1), Discreet 15 (−5), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 10 (0), Strong 7 (+3), Vigilant 11 (−1)
- Upper Levels (Lookouts): Rapid Shot (novice)* or Steel Throw (novice)
- Lower Levels (Skirmishers/Command): ** Exceptionally Accurate (novice) / Feint (novice)
Weapons One-handed weapon 4, throwing knives 4, bow 4
Armor Wolfskin 2 (Cumbersome)
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 4
Equipment Sword and either four knives or a hunting bow with a dozen scavenged arrows, armor, small bone and hair trinket on a leather thong, 1D4+1 ortegs, strip of salted meat
* Rapid Shot. Novice. Can forfeit movement to take a second shot with a bow, providing Combat Action committed to firing a first shot
Chapel of Prios
Location: The Chapel could either be Ambrian built or something left over from the time before Queen Korinthia’s people crossed the Titans. If the former, the Chapel likely stands in the shadow of the Titans, close to the forests in the east or west. If the latter, place the Chapel in the midst of Davokar – anywhere, whether Bright or Dark will work.
Structure: The remains of the chapel reveal clean and well-crafted stone blocks, cut by skilled Ambrian masons. It looks like a work in progress, interrupted long before completion. Only the tower stands at full height, much of the rest little more than a meter tall. Trees, tall grass and delicate-looking flowers grow wild in the midst of the walls, nature reclaiming that which civilisation hardly had claims to at all.
Material Keywords: Desecrated, Chill, Dirty, Stinking
Discovery: Unfortunately, the theurg and lay worshippers who planned to call this place home uncovered something in the foundations and didn’t know when to stop. They sought to find a way to fight the corruption that clung to the forest, soured the earth, and tainted Ambria’s soul. In the foundation, they came across a piece of milky white stone that flickered with some inner light. The research of high theurg Castando suggested the inner essence of the stone might serve as a way to strengthen the power of the Purging Fire ritual. Early experiments proved positive – the strange stone apparently helping to absorb and contain corruption as it keened with a sorrowful song. Alas, the call of the stone did more than soak up black energy, it drew the attention of a ‘dragon’, which attacked the chapel, killed Castando and swallowed the milky white stone whole.
Upper levels: Approaching the site, [Beast Lore / Cunning] the party may note the absence of animals and [Vigilant] a strange hint of decay lingering in the air. The chapel stands in the midst of light woodland in an oasis of quiet and solitude. It might seem an apt location for such a place of contemplation and prayer. Within the walls, the state of the building become clear – unfinished, as if abandoned in a hurry – and a quick search of the open area to the east of the tower turns up several patch of blood stained grass and a few flesh-stripped carcasses, at which point…
Lower levels: The Thrall of Prios, a grotesquely massive Kanaran, twisted by corruption but starved by its imprisonment, explodes from the stairwell in the tower. The Thrall seeks to seize, ensnare and consume anything, thrashing and smashing with its massive head. If the party can defeat the creature, they can try to explore the foundations, but the presence of the carcass will make that nigh on impossible.
In the main chamber, the area nearest the stairs has a scattering of coins and curiosities with a value of 10+2D10 thalers. If the party can find a way to remove the Kanaran corpse – possibly with fire, gruesome and lengthy butchery, or wait to return once the local wildlife strips the carcass clean – they can explore further and may find Castando’s books.
These leather bound and tightly scripted volumes have value to the Church, the Ordo Magica or certain private collectors, including the Major of Thistle Hold – all of whom will likely haggle hard and likely not part with more than 100 thalers for the lot. While they might be worth more, that value would be tough for most characters to extract directly. Anyone trying will need to spend a year in studious consideration of the content to reveal anything useful (which may include rare rituals, previously unknown spells, or clues to the location of hidden sites).
Burning, butchery or decay of the dead reptile will also reveal the milky white stone. It might be an artifact, a mystic treasure or something more fundamental to the advance of your campaign.
A [Cunning] non-Ambrian might think to salvage the largest of the Kanaran’s scales. With the work of a ‘smith, the scale will serve as a Buckler that also reduces the effect of damage from non-magical fire – such that the player may roll two dice of the required type for the blaze and suffered the least value.
Threat: The priests of Prios abandoned the chapel after trapping a Kanaran in the cellars, bound with chains but still alive and dangerous. The creature is not what it once was, but has focused all resources available into pure survival. Something has caused the creature to grow and become deformed – bones oddly twisted or expanded. In places, horns or spikes pierce the skin or scales appear warped, rippled, or oddly facet.
Thrall of Prios
Resistance Challenging (weakened, 130 Experience total)
Traits Armored (III), Corrupting Attack (I), Natural Weapon (I)
Accurate 5 (+5), Cunning 16 (−6), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 11 (−1), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 7 (+3), Strong 10 (0), Vigilant 10 (0)
Abilities Dominate (novice), Exceptionally Cunning (novice), Iron Fist (adept), Strangler (novice)
Weapons Swipe and Smash, 5
Armor Snake skin 4
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 5
Shadow Deep green, like the mottled forest light in a late summer afternoon (corruption: 2)
Tactics Normally Kanarans sneak and strangle, but this gargantuan specimen has been bound and cannot move with the same speed. It tugs and strains at its chains, thrusting as much bulk as possible out into the ruins above. If able to surprise, it will encircle an unwary target; otherwise, it slams with all its might and weight. It can reach anything as far as the clump of trees in the middle of the ruin.