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Adventure 3 in the Borderlands Campaign.

7 Hex Dragon: Naroth and the Vampire's Cave

Naroth and the Vampire's Cave is designed for four or five 37-39 point characters and is a continuance of Crosshaven: The Troll Raids and Delpan, To the Wizard's Mansion. Each character should be fairly well armed and have 1-3 magic items of no great power each (an enchanted +2 weapon, +1 ChainMail, a blur ring, circlet of detect enemies, Armourer's Belt, Apprentice Signaling Staff, etc). At least one Wizard is helpful and most of this adventure is outdoors, so some level of horsemanship, naturalist, tracking, etc is very useful. By now the adventurers have been through two longish adventures and should have a good feel for how the game works and some basic strategies in dealing with enemies, both in a tactical retreat and in combat. This adventure will allow them to develop some personality in their interaction in the more civilized areas (the road to, and in, Naroth), gain training and continue to gain experience in several small encounters leading to the more traditional cave crawl near the end of this adventure.

Background: see 7 Hex Dragon's Campagin for full background and Geography for names and places. Briefly, the adventurers are embroiled in the "Conflict in the South". The Conflict is a series of somewhat mystifying raids in the Borderlands by Orcs, Hymenopteran, Night Gaunts and Vampires that was originally taken to be a coincidence of organized bandits, but has become increasingly fierce and inexplicable. The hymenopteran are clearly under control of a higher intelligence and acting in ways that do not directly benefit the hive, the increase in undead and vampires and the surge in activity in the dreaded Wildlands indicate something is going on that is more sinister than raids by bandits. To complicate matters, both the Duchy of Mt. Bronar and the Imperial Sorcerers (IS) are playing dangerous political games to capitalize on the confusion and suffering of the Borderlands to gain an edge in their rivalry over the area. Both are pursuing different courses. The Duchy is more threatened, both by the superior IS and by the Conflict. They are directly coordinating military incursions into the Borderlands to resuce local Barons and enlist them in a mutual protection pact. The IS is looking to invade up the coast and along the Mountains and is sending scouting parties in both locations to map and to reconn. "Naroth and the Vampire's Cave" takes the side of the Borderland baronies and the Duchy, sending our adventurers out of Crosshaven to investigate the Conflict and to figure out the mysteries of the City of Delpan.

What the Players can know
If you have not played Crosshaven: The Troll Raids and Delpan, to the Wizard's Mansion, read them the background for players there too. Delpan, a sleepy city just off the main trade routes was sacked by Hymenopterans. Fleeing that city was a small-time demented Wizard who fled to some caves and enrolled the help of some Trolls and orcs in an attempt to gain access to the city to continue his work in his mansion where he was working on discovering the secret powers behind old Delpan (which he knew were demonic, but thought the shamans of old Delpan might have had better control over demons than we have now). The Trolls and orcs were robbing caravans to feed themselves when the leaders of Crosshaven hired our adventurers to find and remove them. The wizard, when found in the caves was talking to an demon imp (who fled). The Wizard was killed. The leaders of Crosshaven and a Captain of the Duchy recognize this Wizard as an odd ball who lived in a mansion in Delpan. They questioned him about the events of Delpan right after the sack, but let him go thinking him deranged and harmless. They sent the adventurers and a half-elven scout to find the Wizard's mansion and see what he was up to since he had a demonic contact. Turns out he was trying to find evidence of a Greater Demon buried somewhere in Delpan centuries ago. Also an Orc shaman was after the same information and had preceded the adventurers in the mansion. Our adventurers were able to grab books and scrolls that told the story of how Delpan was deserted after powerful shamans and their Demon Lords fought in the streets. The Demon Lords mostly killed each other, but the last one was mortally injured and was buried in hibernation by his shaman hoping to heal. The horrors unleashed by that battle drove the residents out into hilly plains to escape the Demon Drones, imps and undead that haunted Delpan. Several centuries later half-orcs and humans escaping north from the IS, knowing nothing of the history of the city, resettled the city and gave it it's current name of Delpan (it was called Grakrash before). All seemed well and the city, long abandonded by the demons and almost all of the undead, flourished. Seeing that things had settled down, the Orc Shaman (a decendent of the original shamans who destroyed the city by summoning demons) wanted to get back to the city and see if stories and myths of the hiberating demon handed down from generation to generation were true. The shaman had a few artifacts passed down, one of which was a chunk of the Demon's horns that was rumored to help locate the demon and wake him up. Another was a viscious stone dagger that was older than Delpan itself, reaching back to the Kirean Kingdom (to which the Greater Demon inhabited also). The shaman was refused entrance into the city and was caught breaking into the old mansion that our demented Wizard friend had now occupied. The Wizard, still in posession of most of his senses at that point, queried him and let him go, hoping to watch him and find out more. The Wizard definitely found evidence of demonic activity around the mansion, including an Imp that seemed to be attracted to the mansion. He searched for the magic the shamans used and played in his basement with minor demon summoning and petagrams. Impressioned Remains seemed to hover around the mansion. Our Wizard, being entirely overconfident in his abilities to handle and tame these creatures, fell victim to constant nightmares brought on by the Impressioned Remains and was finally controlled by the Imp in his exhaustion and fear.

When Delpan was sacked by Hymenopteran, the Wizard ran outside and then teleported until he fainted. He then snuck back in, grabbed his Soul Mirror and was driven out by raiding orcs. He wandered north and ran into some trolls who he put under his influence and that also brought him a small orc band. They moved into a cave and that is the story of the first adventure, Crosshaven: The Troll Raids.

Upon our adventurers' return from Delpan, the scrolls and note from the Wizard's Mansion are deciphered in Crosshaven, the Duchy Captain staying in Mother's Place Inn asks the adventurers to go to Naroth to consult a demon fighting wizard of the Duke's Court. He is in Naroth helping the training of martial wizards in recognizing and fighting demons and undead and investigating what seems more and more like a controlling intelligence to these events.

For the Game Master to know
This is the third installment of the Borderlands Campaign. In this part the adventurers will get a chance to flex their roll-playing muscles in the first half and then go help the indiana jones-esque Wizard in finding the Vampire Caves (these are the caves used by the Vampire Lord) and are his western outpost. The four major actors in this drama are the Duchy, the IS, the Orc Shaman and the Vampire Lord, all vying to gain control or take advantage of the situation of the Greater Demon hibernating under the Wizard's mansion in Delpan. The IS is trying to justify an invasion, the Duchy is trying to gain allies by helping protect them, the Vampire wants to harness and control the Demon and the Orc shaman wants his old tribal deity back. Our adventurers are in the middle, mostly helping the Duchy out. They will travel to Naroth, get some free training and a Fine, or even enchanted, weapon or two if the party is under powered and then be sent to a Fortress southwest of the Wildwood to catch up with the Wizard and respond to his call for backup. They are going to report their findings in Delpan to the Wizard on behalf of the Captain. They will then help the Wizard and some of his knights/heroes raid the cavern of the Vampire Lord. They will then be asked to go to the Duke to report all of their findings (the Vampire cave, the Demon in Delpan, etc).

Along the way there are lots of little adventures where the adventurers will be able to garner experience points in small encounters. There is a burnt out village where they help rescue a few families, they prove themselves by guarding the wizard's horses and supplies while he does an initial reconn of the caves and come under attack, they hold off a flanking attack by orcs while the main Wizard's party is fighting off a Vampire Prince and Night Gaunts, etc. These, with the main cave crawl should get them near 40 points. They will have lots of time to heal, rest and train with the Wizard and his ranger/knights between these forays. The cave crawl is tough, as the vampires and Shadow Wight Mages will use all their invisibility, wolves in HTH and spells to try to repulse the party in a highly intelligent manner. The Prince and vampires are too strong for the party, but they only have to hold one leg of the caves while the main party goes straight for the Prince. This will still be difficult for them and they better be prepared for invisible enemies.

The initial road to Naroth will be fairly easy. They will be ambushed by a few small orc bands and maybe a Vampire/Night Gaunt scout party (one vampire and two night gaunts). They will also run into many characters (mounted nomads from the Steppe, some northern barbarians, IS diplomats, Duchy and Borderland troops galore, etc). Here they can stretch their characters' personalities and get into trouble or gain friends. The country side is mostly rolling hills, with areas of light woods and tall grasses.

You can use this table to generate encounters, but I eventually override this and make sure they run into at least one Northern Barbarian group and one Orc bandit group.

3-5 Vamipre and Night Gaunts
6-7 Orc bandits
8-9 Duchy mercinaries heading away from Naroth
9-10 Duchy Troops heading to Naroth
11-12 Large Heavily armed caravan (1-2 Duchy, 3-4 Dwarven, 5-6 IS)
13-14 Mounted Nomads
15-16 Northern Barbarians
17-18 Wolves

In addition to random encounters rolled once per day and once per night. There are three preset encounters, the burnt out village, IS diplomats camp with the adventurers for the night and a threatening encounter with some Mounted Nomads from the Steppe.

  1. Village - a youngish (13 year old) boy stumbles on the road looking for help for his village which was just attacked by Orcs. The adventurers come too late, but can rescue two families hiding in the cellar of the tavern and the boy's family hiding in a small cave near their farm.
  2. The IS diplomatic core. The adventurers will camp with a small IS diplomatic contingent after they strike up conversation on the road. They will be attacked by raiding Orcs and will work with the IS troops to repel the attack.

    Naroth is a largish city (30,000), maybe third or fourth largest in the Duchy after Bronar, ka'Han and ???. It has a strong wizard's guild, two small necromancer brotherhoods, a mechanician's guild, a few small crime families and good sized keep (just a little smaller than Bronar's). Upon arrival they are to go to the Duke's "embassy" (a manor the Duke has bought and has an ambassador and some of his people, like the Wizard, to work closely with the Baron of Naroth, currently it is quite crowded with the Duke's people going out to help with the "Conflict"). The city is in high alert and some confusion as it is the main staging point for patrols and troops leaving for the "Conflict in the South". The military is in full training in several places around the city as new recruits and seasoned knights brush up their skills before deployment. The adventurers will spend some time shuttling between the Manor and the Keep and find time for training and story telling (I will sometimes give characters a free attribute point for all the training they can do, especially if they are only 36 or 37 point characters). The adventurers can find out more about the "Conflict" here and you can give them some Fine or Enchanted weapons/armour if they don't have any magic items to start with (I give these as a reward for a training tournament victory). They are waiting for the Wizard to return (play up the Wizard as an Indiana Jones type, a good scholar who loves a fight and whose exploits are already turning into legends). He is powerful but down to earth, just don't get in the way when is after his goal! I have a chance for a duel or two if any characters are boisterous too. And the usual city encounters with the crime families, pickpockets and such. After waiting 3 or 4 weeks, news comes that the Wizard has made a major find and needs backup. The Baron and Duke's ambassador ask the adventurers to go immediately and a small contingent of a dozen or so knights will follow in 4 days upon return from the "Conflict".

    The road out to the fortress is much more harrowing, your characters should be upper 30 point characters (37-38) by now and can handle a good fight. They will be waylaid by Hymenopteran, Vampires, Night Gaunts, Orcs, Trolls, Wights and wolves (and maybe the occasional Demon drone on a mission).

    3-5 Vampire, Servant and 3 Gight Gaunts
    6-7 Barbarian Merchants
    8-9 Orc Bandits
    9-10 5 Wolves
    11-12 Duchy Platoon
    13-14 Hymenopteran (6 plunger scounts looking for food)
    15-16 Hymenopteran, Basic on Spyder, 2-7 low renderers
    17-18 Demon Imp and 3 Drones

    About two thirds of the way out to the Wizard, a young boy runs onto the road and asks for help, his village is 3 hours walk and has been attacked by horrible creatures. His family is in a small cave near the river. Hopefully the characters will go and help.

    The village has been overrun by Orcs with a Vampire and Night Gaunts driving them on. This will be of great interest to the Wizard when the adventurers report back. This is mostly an excuse to give them some building to building strategy and some experience points. I use the map of the Village in the back of In The Labyrinth. See the key for who are in which building. The orcs are just raiding for food and supplies and don't expect any more resistance. I have a hand drawn map of the farm and cave. The players should be rewarded for good strategy in the village (staying together, going building to building to secure each one in a sweep, while keeping a lookout to make sure they are not flanked). If they are quick and quiet, then can catch the orcs dispersed in the buildings, some drunk, others asleep. The map has the dispersion of orc, but a summary is:
    Leader is in the Golden Ax Inn drinking with his bodyguards.
    Leader: ST14 IQ11 DX13(11) AR 4 Leather Armour, Morning Star (2+1), Sm. Shield. Warrior Talent.
    3 BodyGuards: ST 13 IQ9 DX12 AR 2 Leather Armour, Bastard Swords used two handed.
    All have an extra -1DX due to some alcohol.

    Random Pillaging group:
    1 archers: ST10 IQ9 DX12(11) Cloth Armour, Horse Bows, Cutlasses and sm. Shields.
    2 warriors: ST11 IQ9 DX11(10) Cloth Armour, Maces, Sm. Shields 1 scout: ST10 IQ9 DX13(12) AR2. ClothArmour, Cutlass, MainGauche. Talents: Tracking.

    The farm is a straight forward dairy, wheat, vegetable farm on a small river. The family is hiding in their caves. The orcs have pillage the house and left, but the Vampire and Gaunts are roving looking for more beings to feed on. They will be in the barn looking in the lofts when the adventurers arrive.

    The Vampire will be: ST15 IQ12 DX12 (as found in the 7HexDragon Bestiary). He is armed with a Fine Bastard Sword (2+3, +1DX), Leather Armour, Lt. Crossbow and Dagger. He will send all the orcs to fight and support with Crossbow and spells. Will run if things look dicey at all.
    The orcs are:
    2 archers: ST10 IQ9 DX12(11) Cloth Armour, Horse Bows, Cutlasses and sm. Shields.
    3 swordsmen: ST 12 IQ9 DX11(10) Cloth Armour, Scimitars(2d), Sm. Shields.
    They have their main weapons out and are possibly expecting the farming family to attack, but are fairly confident they can take them. They are not likely to be ambushed.

    They arrive at the fort and are told the wizard is out in the field. They are allowed to rest for 6 days (3ST) and are sent out after him. It is a 2 day ride (1ST recovered) and when they get to the camp it is being attacked by Hymenopterans. The adventurers are promptly attacked by 6 Plungers whose job it is to fly around the camp and stop reinforcements from arriving.

    They finally meet Talryne the Demon Fighting Wizard from ka'Han (though of common birth).
    ST17 IQ21 DX 16 (Adept Summoner's Staff of Power), 15ST battery on a necklace, Ring of Stone Flesh (1ST/turn), Ranger Cloak. Spells: Staff of Power, Spell Shield, Pentagram, Summon Lesser Demon, Summon Dragon, Lighting, SpellSniffer, 7HexIllusion, 7HexWall, Invisibility, Summon Gargoyle, Unnoticeability, Telepathy, Remove Thrown Spell, Summon Gargoyle, Flight, Mage Sight, Lesser Magic Item Creation.

    His retinue consists of an Apprentice:
    ha'Jaas, youngest son of an ancient ka'Han family: ST15 IQ17 DX14 Staff, Glasses of Mage Sight, Cloak of Invisibility (1ST/Turn), 5ST Battery in ring. Spells: Staff, Summon Small Dragon, Summon Gargoyle, Pentagram, Summon Lesser Demon, Telepathy, Hammertouch, Lightning, Weapon/Armour Enchantment, 7HexShadow, Detect Magic, Remove Thrown Spell. He is very stiff and formal in address, but a good martial mage.
    2 Knights: ST18 IQ11 DX15(12) AR 6: +1 ChainMail, Enchanted Great Swords (+1DX, +2Hits), Blur Ring (1ST/turn). Talents: Warrior, Veteran, Sword, Horsemanship, (one has Alertness, the other has Tactics).
    2-7 Men-at-Arms: ST13 IQ9 DX13(11) AR 4: Fine Halberd (+1Hits), Dagger, Fine Chain Mail (only -2DX). Talents: PoleArms, Knife, Warrior, Horsemanship, Driver.
    One man-servant: ST12 IQ10 DX12 AR 3: Leather Armour, BroadSword, Sm. Shield: Talents: Sword, Shield, Courtly Graces, Horsemanship, Cook. Not expected to fight, but will in a pinch.
    Plus two non-combatant cooks an driver/animal-handler and a naturalist/scholar.

    They go on two scouting missions with Talryne, one to roust an Orc band to prevent their camp from being attacked while they go in the caves. The second is to set up a staging point near the caves (removing some giant spiders from a copse a mile away from the caves.

    Attack the Caves of Lord Dranyon. These caves are the former home of Lord Dranyon and now hold two of his princes, several vampires, spawn, henchman and the Shadow Wight Mages that Dranyon helped several centuries ago. Talryne, one knight and all Men-at-Arms will attempt to raid the core of the caves where several Vampire Princes, Vampires and their Spawn and henchmen live, while ha'Jaas and one knight will go with the adventurers to tackle the Shadow Wight Mages. There are 9 Shadow Wight Mages here:
    Leader: ST13 IQ14 DX12: He sits next to an Obsidian Obelesk (about 2 feet high) and that acts as a regenerator for him, 1ST/turn. Spells: Summon Shadow Spawn, Control Person, 7HexDarkness (1ST Cost), MageSight (always on, no ST Cost), Drain Life, Confusion, Illusion, Telepathy, Curse, Break Weapon, Sleep, Detect Life, Invisibility
    8 Mages: ST10 IQ11 DX10: Spells: Confusion, Drain Life, Summon Shadow Spawn, 3Hex Shadow(1ST), Sleep, Illusion.
    Mages are likely to Summon Shadow Spawn or blank the room in Shadow (i.e. 4 or so will throw 3Hex Shadow Spells and the other will Summon Shadow Spawn). The second round the ones how did not Summon Spawn will, while the one who have already summoned with either replace any killed or move in behind the spawn line to throw Sleep or Illusion of Spawn (ha'Jaas should see these and call them out as illusion at which point the Wights will stop casting illusions).
    Also here are 2 Night Gaunts, one Vampire Spawn and 1 Henchman.
    Vampire Spawn: ST12 IQ11 DX11 AR 2: Leather, BroadSword, MainGauche. Usual Spawn Abilities Henchman: ST11 IQ9 DX11(9) AR 3: Leather, Mace, Sm. Shield. Talents: Mace, Shield, Recognize Value, Animal Handler.
    Night Gaunts: ST11 IQ9(1) DX9: Want HTH and will have poisoned daggers after they come substantial (on a table just for them).

    ha'Jaas will Summon Gargoyle (he will not cast illusions knowing that Mage Sight is probably operative). He will throw 3die Lighting (doubled for Shadow Wights) at the leader of the Shadow mages if he can get a shot off. He will throw 2 die bolts at wight mages until he runs down to 5ST and will hold on to the Gargoyle three more turns before calling for retreat. The Knight take a defensive postion in front of ha'Jaas (with the help of two adventurers, at least), blur ring on and swinging to kill mages if he can reach them. Hopefully the adventurers can handle the Mages and Spawn (now being 40 point characters). The only hitch will be the Night Gaunts. If they see they can't grab their daggers, they will move insubstantially and try to materialize behind the party. The Spawn and Henchman will put on a show of trying to crowd behind the mages and shadow spawn, but will be likely to flee if all the mages and spawn are killed.

    If the adventurers faire poorly they will have to retreat (I allowed a Dazzle spell to get one group out of a jam after loosing one character) and decide if they want to try to make a stand to protect Talryne's flank or yell for a general retreat. I generally don't reward the general retreat option.

    Treasure: The treasure will be divided out by Talryne and the party will get one item each minus one (I always try to do this to make them work together). None of the items will be of great power, but I try to give one character something they want (Gleremere Glass Sword, Dazzle Helm, Enchanted Armour or Weapons, etc.) There will be some silver and gems for them too (average 400SP each, plus Talryne will give them a special field title, Order of the Fox, that indicates that non-Duchy citizens have honorably risked their lives and shown bravery and courage under adverse combat conditions in defense of the Duchy. This comes with no particular authority, but the letters (signed and sealed by Talryne) will give them free room, board and trainig in any of the larger cities of the Duchy (certainly Naroth, Bronar, and ka'Han). If they are smart and have one of Diplomacy, Charisma or New Followers can try to parley it into free room and board anywhere in the Duchy. That is a bit hit and miss as some barons have only joined for short term self-interest and will not house non-Duchy irregulars.

    The party can rest up at the fortress and train with the Knights of ha'Jaas to earn any EP awarded attributes.

    Talryne will tell them they are free to go, but he would be honored if they would deliver word to the Arch-Duke about what has happened and deliver a letter on his behalf. The letter is crucial and he trusts the adventurers to be able to deliver it. The Arch-Duke would reward them hansomely for their combat in the caves and the delivery of this message. Talryne has information that will help the Duke assess and help in the Delpan matter and he has recommended that the Duke send a Wizard he knows to help investigate Delpan. He would come with a small group of highly skilled Rangers and they can help penetrate the Mansion with the help of the adventurers.

    This concludes Naroth and The Vampire Caves, but can begin Voice of the Dragons.

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