Origins: Grasslands of Merakai – Adventure Seeds III

Apr 22, 2011
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Continuation of my Origins series, as detailed previously. -Mark

Marple: Burrowing Owls

One well-to-do farmer has had a few problems lately. He has been discovering places in his fields where something has been burrowing. This is really cutting into his profit margin so he is hiring adventurers to solve the problem. His explanation to the people is that burrowing owls have invaded his farm. Burrowing owls are, in fact, in one field but are a minor problem. The major problem is that the farmer has started farming over the field of an ancient battle. The 100th anniversary of the battle is drawing close and the undead are restless literally. The type of undead should be decided according to the party level but make it a strong encounter with a mixture of at least three types of undead. I used ghouls, ghasts, and some 4HD zombies. If you would like to get really nasty, try throwing in an evil cleric who has coated the zombies claws with poison (not deadly, but damage causing w/ or w/o a save.

Korton: Werebears

This encounter is placed in a small forest called the Korton Forest just south of a large grassland (The grasslands of Merakai). It is one of several encounters which can occur in the woods. Place this encounter on one side of the woods as there is are other encounters.

As the PC’s are strolling through some fairly uncivilised woods, they come across a small cabin in a nice open glade. The glade has obviously been expanded by the work of some humanoid. Along with the cabin stands a small barn with an attached corral. On one side of the cabin is a stack of logs.

The corral holds two draft horses which are feeding on some hay. An extra supply of feed for the horses is stacked along the outside of the corral. In the barn is a wagon which the “lumber jack” uses to haul his logs to a small town north of the woods. A barely visible wagon track leads out of the glade in a north-westerly direction (a ranger or other tracking-type PC would immediately notice it but it is otherwise undetectable to the untrained eye).

From behind the cabin, the PC’s hear the distinct sound of someone chopping wood. This is about 100 yards into the forest directly behind the cabin. It’s source is the “lumberjack”. He is splitting firewood for his own use. If the PC’s approach in a friendly manner, he will greet them and offer to let them camp that night within his glade which he assures the PC’s is absolutely safe. He also feeds the PC’s a hearty stew for supper of lamb, carrots and potatoes.

The “lumberjack” is not openly hostile but will be extremely offended if the PC’s do not eat his meal or if they post a watch at night. Any slight opposition to his hospitality will offend the “lumberjack” and he will attack the PC’s at night in his werebear form. Otherwise, he will just leave his cabin for his nightly hunt (check to see if any of the PC’s notice) in his werebear form.

The lumberjack is actually a werebear taken from the 2ed Monster Compendium. If a stronger encounter is desired, add a wife for the lumberjack or possibly a second lumberjack. Werebears are Chaotic Good (I believe) and will cooperate. This one is just easily offended.

Inside the cabin are rustic, yet comfortable living materials. The table is massive with four huge legs. Each leg is hollow, and detachable. Any treasure the werebear has acquired is hidden in one of these four legs. In a nicely crafted china closet, are two potions next to some dishes. They are obscured from view by a large bronze platter. Partly buried in a corner of the cabin is a large cask of Dwarven ale. An empty mug sits on top of the cask.

Korton: Seriphilia

This is another encounter/scenario which occurs in Korton Forest. Korton Forest lies south of a large grassland (Grasslands of Merakai). The small village, Korton, is on the northern forest-plains transition zone. The PC’s should travel into this small town of about 50-60 buildings. Most common items are readily available at 150% of the normal cost.

The most interesting aspect of this village is the common rumour of a middle-aged lady and her beautiful daughter who live in the western part of Korton Forest. The lady, Seriphilia, makes potions of healing and sells them to adventurers at low prices. Her husband, a mage, was killed by a group of marauding orcs a few years ago but his magic saved his wife and daughter.

The small hut where the lady lives is very old and in disrepair. Her daughter is not at home–she travelled to the capital of the Grasslands of Merakai for supplies.

The lady, however, is here and is very comely. She is in fact an annis and uses her polymorph/change self ability to appear as a half-elf/human woman. She is very beautiful and offers the PC’s healing potions for a small price. If anyone in the party is injured, she will give that person a potion–it causes sleep not healing. The potion will make the person fall into a coma for 1-10 days if a save vs. poison is failed.** If successful, the imbiber is still led to believe it was a healing potion but no effect occurs.

After the lady sells potions to the PC’s (hoping they will drink them and fall asleep) she offers any PC’s remaining awake a meal or drink as they prefer. She explains that the healing potions have a sedative effect and that is why the sleeping PC’s fell asleep. Any food or beverage she provides is laced with the same sleeping poison. All saves vs. the sleep poison are at a -2.

Seriphilia will wait until the odds are in her favour and will then attack the remaining PC’s. Her strength and HP make her a very tough opponent. Treasure should be given on an equal level to the monster.

At this point, Seriphilia is looking for halfling toes, hairs from a dwarven beard (preferably female), and the ears of a gnome to complete a potion she is working on.

All information on the annis is taken from the 2ed Monster Compendium. Selection of the particular type is annis is left up to the DM according to the party strength. In order to increase the difficulty of the encounter, allow Seriphilia’s daughter to be present also. In my campaign, the daughter was actually human and did not know of her mother’s true heritage. The Daughter is a mage (5-6th level) and will hire assassins to track down her mother’s killers. The hut contains various furniture 2d8+6 potions of sleep, 2d4 other potions, 1d3 miscellaneous magic items and various coinage.

Korton: Goblins and Orcs

The PC’s should be bumbling along looking for something to do when they hear a large commotion up ahead. Acting as most PC’s do, they will sneak up and see what’s going on. When they get close, they will see two groups of humanoids in a major battle. This encounter works best at night when PC’s cannot determine what race they are.

Anyway, the groups are one of goblins and one of orcs (or it could be hobgoblins and bugbears). They are scouting/hunting parties which ran across each other in the woods. As soon as the PC’s get within sight of the battle at least one member of each group will spot them. At that point, both groups decide to attack the PC party since they hate humans, dwarves, etc. much more than they hate each other.

In order to complicate this a little, the DM should allow the PC’s time to decide if they want to fight on either side, leave, or just watch the fight. If they choose to leave or to watch, have them get spotted immediately. If they jump in the fight on either side, continue the battle for a couple of rounds before both groups center their efforts on the PC party.

For a variation on theme and a more difficult encounter use owlbears and trolls, ogres and trolls, or other high level monsters. Of course, a third group of some humanoid monster arriving in the midst of combat really leaves the PC’s in a bind.

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