The strange city of Carrion Hill has long loomed over the surrounding swamps in eastern Ustalav, yet its rulers have shifted many times through the centuries. Often enough that only a few sinister scholars and curious minds know the true nature of the hill’s original inhabitants—vile and depraved cultists of the Old Gods. Yet this morning, a dreadful recrudescence rises from the depths of buried nightmare in the vaults below Carrion Hill. A monster stalks the twisted alleys of the city, spreading panic before it and leaving destruction in its wake. Can the Carrion Hill Horror be stopped?
A blonde-haired and bleach-skinned Half-elf raises an eyebrow at the assembled group and nonchalantly adjusts his spectacles. It almost seems at first as though he was trying to avoid conversation.
He is dressed in a finely tailored and impeccably pressed suit. His slender frame suggests that hand to hand combat is not his forté, although a rapier made of some dark metal does hang at his side.
Just before he finally speaks, he flashes a polished Wayfinder. "Inspector Pendergast. Dark Archive." He pauses, almost as if to let his words sink in. Then, as quickly as he presented it, his Wayfinder disappears into a coat pocket.
"Carrion Hill.... I believe I have heard about this Ustalavan backwater before...."
Knowledge, Any: 1d20 + 13 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 13 + (4) + 1 = 29 (another +1 if it's Religion)
1st - Bomber's Eye, Comprehend Languages, Shield (x2),
2nd - Resist Energy, See Invisibility, Spider Climb
"Of course we will stop the horror in Carrion Hill!", says the little Hobbit lass. "Of course we will stop all horrors!".
Parrym is a little waif - under 3' tall and less than 30 pounds - with auburn hair, green eyes, and the tanned skin of one living outdoors.
Dressed in green with gold & silver trim, like her Holy Symbol, with its Hawk with moon and sun in silver and gold, Parrym is a Cleric of Ketephys.
Darkwood longbow over her shoulder, darkwood longspear in hand, and a bulging handy haversack strapped to her back, she proudly presents her Wayfinder upon seeing Inspector Pendergast briefly show his.
"And I am from the Dark Archive as well! I would have loved to learn many secrets, and gather arcane knowledge too. But, anyhow, we have much in common dear sir."
Behind Parrym, the giant hawk scratches the ground with its talons, and turns its head to stare at Pendergast with its perfectly round, yellow rimmed eye.
"Oh, and that is Meneldor"', Parrym adds, ruffling the large bird's feathers.
Amiri looks at Pendergast somewhat sideways."He's a smart one alright!" But is he like the "smart" one's of her former tribe who thought they were so sure of a woman's place? "I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt." she muses. Just in case, she feels the need to "help" him understand her place.
"That thinga-ma-doo you flashed sure is shiny...this is shiny too!" She jams her over-sized bastard sword into the ground. "You look like you got a lot of good ideas shaking up in your head about how to go about things, and I'm not saying you don't...but sometimes, even the best made plans go awry. When they do, that's why we're here." She smiles, "Amiri, well met sir!"
She looks at Parrym and nods, "An honor to be in league with another strong woman of accomplishment! I look forward to our mutual exploits."
An elderly varisian woman watches the introductions before chiming in. "Esmerelda is my name, and I'm a bit of an expert in stories and spirits. Perhaps some story I picked up over the years will be useful in determining what we face now."
Parrym bows before Esmerelda, and claps her hands: "Stories! Stories, we love stories, don't we?!".
Looking up at tall and strong Amiri, who is more than twice her size and nearly three times here weight, Parrym puffs up, full of pride, delighted to be called a strong woman: "I do imagine that your sword will shine bright!".
You find yourselves in the Vodavani Lodge in Caliphas, capital city of Ustalav. Sitting at his desk before you is Venture-Captain Beaurigmand Trice, though he just prefers to be called Dr. Trice. "Agents, I've gathered you here this morning because of an urgent missive from a compatriot of mine, Vanton Heggry, mayor of Carrion Hill.
It seems something dire has happened in his city and he needs people experienced in investigation, problem solving, combat and more to figure out the mystery of what happened. I'm sad to say I don't have much more information to give you at the moment and I'm too busy helping the lodge recover other Agents that have disappeared to help myself. All I can do is teleport you close to the city and point you in the right direction, hopefully Vanton will have more information for you once you arrive."
Once you've prepared yourselves Dr. Trice ensures you are all forming a bond and teleports you. One second you stand in the nice comfortable lodge, and the next you are out in the wilderness overlooking the city of Carrion Hill. The sky above is gray and lightning flickers in the distance behind you. Trice points in the direction of the densely packed city saying only, "Off you go," before disappearing with a faint pop and the smell of ozone.
The trek into the city itself is not hard, though the air contains a chill from the ever-present threat of rain. You reach the city gates and are let in, the men standing guard looking slightly relieved to see you with weapons and knowing which end is the one to hold. They are all dressed in black leather armor with chains strewn about, as well as longswords on their hips and bows ready strung across their shoulders.
They seem to know where you are off to just by your demeanor and gear and point towards Crown Manor, the home of the mayor. You walk through the tight streets, buildings looming large overhead and can't help but feel hemmed in, as though the city were designed to be one giant trap. As you round the first corner you hear a crier in the square, "“Carrion Hill needs heroes! Men and women of stout heart and bravery are asked to come to Crown Manor with all haste, there to receive a task worthy of their skill and talents and a reward of suitable magnificence. Make haste to Crown Manor! Make haste!”
Despite the cramped quarters of the city no one stirs on the streets. You barely see any of the watch in your peripheral vision, and a street past the crier his cries are muffled and indistinct. Even the crows are avoiding the town, flying high above, calling out in fear and avoiding everything below.
As you approach Crown Manor thunder claps in the distance and the heavens fulfill their promise of rain by the bucketful. Its staccato beat upon the cobbles and shingles around you echo eerily and anything outside is quickly soaked to the bone. You rush to the manor and see two more of the watch outside, despondent and miserable in the rain. Their faces light briefly with a flicker of hope as they see you arrive and quickly usher you into the central hall, dripping and wet.
With you are more members of the guard and a run-down looking man, just edging over 40 with some salt in the fine pepper of his beard and hair. He sits in a chair, distracted and fretting over some reports in his hand and looks up as the doors close behind you.
He straightens just a bit before gesturing you to be seated and addressing you, "Pathfinders, I thank you for attending in our hour of need—Carrion Hill has a long history of battle, yet always before its enemies have attacked from outside our walls. We are fortified to defend against such attacks, but now we face an entirely different threat. Our enemy is already here, dwelling in the tunnels and catacombs below and surfacing to strike without warning.
“As you may have heard, the first of these attacks occurred early this very morning, when something huge came up from below in a part of the Tangles called Slipper Market. It partially destroyed a building and killed a half dozen locals before retreating into the ruined structure. The Crows were swift to reply, led by our own Commander Garus, but when they arrived, they were slaughtered to the last.
“Since then, the thing has moved on, surfacing no less than three times in different parts of the city, crushing buildings from below and slaying anyone it finds inside. I’ve got the entire force of the city watch in reserve, and with each new event they respond quickly, but the damage is always done by the time they arrive. Already there is talk of war and invasion, but I still believe that what we face is a single horror. If we can only figure out what it is, we might be able to defeat it. And this is where your group comes in—the horror has moved on from its initial point of entrance, but if you can explore the ruins in Slipper Market, perhaps you can find some sort of clue to tell us what it is we face. I cannot spare any of my Crows to aid you, for they are needed in keeping order in the streets, but if indeed you can find something… anything…about this monster from below, I will pay you and your organization handsomely: 1,500 gold for solid information, and twice again that amount for aiding in defeating the horror.”
Sorry for the wall of text, just wanted to get everyone on the right foot. Also this is a few hours early for my time, but I won't tell if you don't. On with the adventure!
After the group enters the city the Inspector informs you all about the Crows (he can't fail the knowledge check), but otherwise chooses to be vigilant rather than conversational.
He remains quiet during most of the briefing as he busily takes notes, as well.
Once the group leaves the mayor's company the Inspector approaches Amiri first. "Judging by the level of devastation this city has suffered in mere hours, I think we may indeed be more in need of your skills than mine."
He wipes his spectacles dry as they walk towards the ruins.
Before departing, Parrym asks: "Dr. Trice, where have the other Agents disappeared? Can this be linked to our mission?".
Delighted at being teleported, Parrym claps her hands and giggles, talking to her Hawk: "Now, that's the way to travel, isn't it, Meneldor?!".
When the rain hits, Parrym pulls her hood over her auburn locks, and grumbles about never being sent to sunny places...
As the Mayor mentions that the enemy is already here, Parrym starts looking around, lifting her feet to make sure she is not standing on some tunnel entrance.
At the end, Parrym raises her fist, and calls out: "We shall Cooperate with you, Explore, and then Report!".
She is then ready to depart... but asks her companions to confer with her, discreetly, before leaving.
Then, shuffling her feet, she removes a hair pin from her auburn locks, and asks to prick the fingers of all: "A strange request, I know, but if I have a signle drop of your blood, I can cost a spell that makes us all stabilize, and even prevent us from dying sometimes. All are fine to let me do this?".
Components for my Shield Other and Life Pact spells.
Can people who make the Knowledge check state if they share the information with the others, so we can look at the information for our character?
At the Lodge
The doctor waves his hands, "Nothing for you to be concerned about, these agents have been missing for some days now on the other side of the country. It is unfortunate that so many of our own do not survive their expeditions through this rugged country."
The mayor breathes a sigh of relief as Parrym expresses the group's earnest confirmation of the mission. "I knew it was a good idea to send that message to Doc, and I'm glad you all arrived so quickly. Had you walked from Caliphas there might not have been a city left. As to Slipper Market, it lies in the Tangles on Stormway Steps, on the lower western slope of the Hill. It was bustling, but the reports I've been getting have suggested everyone has disappeared from the area for fear of another attack."
Pendergast got the check above so everyone can read the spoiler in the initial post. Any more questions or is everyone ready to head out?
Parrym is ready to strut out, spear held high.
Thanks Pendergast for the roll!
And please tell me if you do not want to give a drop of blood to benefit from the Life Pact, and if Amiri does not want to use the ring for Shield Other.
"Where can we find surviving witnesses to the creature's attack in the slipper market? The more we know about this huge creature before going in, the better we can prepare for it. Have the bodies of it's victims already been collected? It may be best to examine them as well." Esmerelda pauses for a moment. "On a more personal note, if I could get a listing of prominent historical events and personalities in this city, it would go a long way to helping with this investigation."
I don't actually need you to spec out history if the module doesn't have some obvious choices. I'm trolling for possible spirits to contact in séances.
Unprepared for how recognized Pendergast's compliment made her feel, Amiri is put into a slight huff and tries to feign indifference:
Bluff: 1d20 ⇒ 6
"I'm sure you'll prove your merit, sir!"
She turns to Parrym and accepts the ring, "A warrior who would refuse a link to her healer would be a special type of fool, indeed!"
She holds out her finger to be pricked, "This is but a speck of what I am willing to shed for all of you."
Finally, trying to address the white elephant in the room, she regards Esmerelda. Was it so long ago that she abandoned her tribe that she forgot what her mother looked like, or did the medium before her truly have a flash of resemblance? Either the only thing Amiri can stumble out, "I like stories."
Parrym smiles respectfully as Amiri gives her blood and gracefully accepts the ring.
Amiri flattens out her hand before her, admiring the platinum ring for a few seconds-it's not normal for her to wear such a "fancy" item. She balls her hand into a fist and smacks it in the palm of her other gauntleted hand. Replacing her other hide gauntlet, "Right then!"
Suddenly a realization hits her, "Catacombs? Will we most likely be taking the fight down there? If so, do we know exactly how much room they provide?" she regards her sword and shakes her head in disbelief at her next words, "I may have to find something...smaller"
The mayor looks a tad uncomfortable, "The bodies, what was left of them, were collected and put in the city morgue, the witnesses have disappeared. Everyone's gone into hiding, and the most I can do with the remaining Crows is keep the peace. As for events, we don't have many or even personalities of our own. This location is a prime spot for a city, close to the sea, on a nice defensible hill, and with plenty of farmland surrounding it. So the history of this place is deep, but it is mostly conquests, first Varisians, then Kellids, Taldans, mercenaries, orcs..." His voice lowers and he makes the sign of Desna to ward off evil, "They even say the Whispering Tyrant has claimed this hill as his own." He clears his throat and begins speaking normally once more, "I'm sorry I don't have much more for you, but things have been calm up until this morning.
Speaking of the catacombs, they are fairly large and extensive and are rumored to hold many treasures. In fact adventurers regularly appear in town to dive into the depths and get what treasures they can. A group was here about 2 weeks ago, but they've all been killed, except one man found babbling in the streets. He was sent to the city's oldest asylum in hopes of recovery."
The best you can do spirits wise is possibly adventurers that have fallen. The module doesn't have much detail about Carrion Hill itself, and the people it does specify aren't dead...yet...
Apologies for the late entrance!
Narayan sits back quietly during the briefing. He has learned that there are frequently many thoughts that swirl amongst his compatriots. Those thoughts might help find the beast.
His task is later.
That sseemss mosst reasonable, Insspector Pendergasst. Perhapss afterwards, we should visit the morgue. Many beassts leave telltale markss in their victimss.
Parrym frowns, thinking that "Here we go, disturbing the dead once again....
Mayor Heggry looks immensely relieved and directs two of the Crows with him to lead you to Slipper Market. They nod, give a formal salute and march out the door, expecting you to follow on their heels. The rain hasn't stopped and seems to have grown worse, the downpour spelling a night of misery for any caught up in it. The town remains eerily quiet, despite the noise, or perhaps because of the noise of the rainfall. Everything is muffled and fuzzy at great distances. Shops are all closed, beggars seem to have left the streets, and there doesn't even appear to be the normal frightened faces peering from windows and doors along the way there.
When the you arrive at Slipper Market, they find the place in a state of disorder. Normally a bustling market, it is abandoned save for two dozen milling Crows. Your own Crow escort leads you through this throng of guards to a side street that has been roped off; one guard lifts a soaking, dripping rope barrier to let the everyone through and indicates that both Tarrig’s home and the partially ruined building where the first attack occurred lie just beyond. Wide-eyed faces watch the market from upper floor windows, but no one speaks—the only sound is the constant onrush of the driving rain.
The guards have set up benches under a barely functioning open tent in the market near the roped-off street entrance. Under the tent lie the remains of three bodies—all the guards have been able to recover from the site beyond the initial two. Garus is not among the dead. The first two bodies are a pair of homeless thugs who lived in the alley. The guards mention this with a look of distaste and a ward against evil as they haven't been able to catch these two for some time. The first body has been flattened by a single crushing attack to the chest, while the second has had his back broken. The third body is one of the Crows, a man whose body has been twisted twice around at the waist like a knotted rag and whose arms are broken in so many places that they flop like tentacles. His chain shirt and sword are twisted like the rest of his body—whatever did this to the man was huge and incredibly strong.
I've started putting the maps together. Please excuse the letters and numbers, this is an older module and I'd rather not draw the maps in excel.
"Huh, huh... sorry it took me so long!" An amber eyed and red/auburn haired human runs up, somewhat out of breath. He's not very tall, about 5'8, and pretty lithe, almost scrawny. He's wearing mithril chain with a tabard of the sun over top, a scimitar on his side, and a light pack.
"I saw the crows and some dust or smoke rise out of the city hours ago while traveling, and some messenger ran by saying little more than there was some kind of attack here, so I rode as fast as I could. I just heard the criers and came right here. I'm Imhakaru, devotee of Saranrae,
and....also a pathfinder? Glancing at the group, he makes a good guess even if no one is wearing a wayfinder.
Imhakaru smiles and holds his out his hand to shake for anyone amenable.
Narayan gladly clasps the Sarenrite's hand, Greetings friend. Another light to drive out the darknesss is always welcome.
He bends down to examine the bodies. Sstrong. But perhapss itss only sstrength is of the body. Narayan takes his wayfinder, emblazoned with the symbol of the Silver Crusade, into his hand, and flicks at the needle as he watches it spin. Detect Evil, which will also point to the nearest source of evil within 60'
Let uss ssee if it leaves any taint in itss wake.
Perception: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (2) + 15 = 17
For Imahakaru, I imagine to spot the Kitsune side, DC35
Parrym greets Imhakaru: "Welcome, welcome... no time to rest after your travels, heh?!"
Then she turns to the bodies, and, asking if she may, kneels down to look them over, trying to see if she can see anything special, other than the fact something mighty must be on the loose.
Perception: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (7) + 15 = 22
Heal: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Perception & Heal check to spot something on the bodies or manner of death etc.
@Parrym, Yes, not sure why I bothered to put it in a spoiler except perhaps to channel some Kitsune impishness.
Note also that outdoors, Imhakaru is typically mounted, but if we know we're just going to underground in a hot second he stables his horse.
"ah, no not much. The wicked rarely rest, so neither do I." Imhakaru softens a relatively grim statement with a wink.
Narayan's wayfinder spins hopelessly, not finding anything to point at until its natural compass properties take control once more, pointing north.
The two thugs don't show Parrym anything special, but the Crow seems to have his face fixed in a rictus of fear, though that could be from being wrung like a rag.
"Well, maybe there was some Fear effect before being smashed to pieces, or else the fear came with the smashing... I cannot say. But, that is all these poor souls can tell me.
Where do you wish to go from here?".
Perception vs. Imahakaru: 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 16 + (5) + 1 = 40
The Inspector simply chuckles (he does NOT reveal the spoiler in-character).
He then steps adjacent to the nearest guard so that the noise of the rain doesn't muffle his question, "Does Carrion Hill usually experience this level of precipitation? It seems odd to me that this creature should arrive during such inclement weather."
He looks up, almost as if he was analyzing the clouds.
"I see three possibilities: It could be mere coincidence. Or, the creature could be causing the rain. Or, at the very worst, it was waiting for such a climate event to occur so that its movement could be obscured."
Amiri looks to see if anything left a clue as to further define the beast that left such carnage, as well as any indication of a trail.
PER: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Survival: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
"I'm going to need about an hour, but this will help our investigation. I'm going to see if I can get some assistance from the adventurers who recently were killed here."
Esmerelda sets up some objects at the alley near the tent, and begins trying to contact spirits of the departed in the area. She uses some incense as an offering, and begins chanting as she attempts to find the spirits in the area.
Trying to find an adventurer who was an arcane caster. This doesn't give me any specific knowledge of anything in the adventure. I gain additional spells (1 each of level 0/1/2) and increase the number of spells per day I can cast. It also gives me +2 to my trained knowledge skills. Character sheet already is set up with an archmage spirit. This ceremony takes 1 hour to complete.
"An hour, you say?" The Inspector pulls out a small journal bound in blue and white. "I suppose I can use that time to garner some thoughts..."
I'm assuming we're doing this *after* examining the surrounding location? There could still be something hostile here. And, it's raining.
Once the area is secure, and the group is somewhere dry, the Inspector will begin Automatic Writing to ask one question of the GM.
The question is: "Would positive energy be a useful weapon against this Carrion Hill Horror?" ==> Basically to see if the creature is undead.
Linguistics, DC 20: 1d20 + 18 + 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 18 + (2) + 1 = 31
Now the GM rolls a secret d% as per Augury. My chance of success is 90%.
Narayan puts one of his meaty hands on the nervous man's shoulder.
Please. Whatever you have to tell uss will be of usse.
Parrym smiles admiringly at how smart and clever and industrious her companions are, as she slips under the wing of her giant-hawk, Meneldor, to keep out of the rain.
The man takes a breath and begins his story, determination set across his features, “As every morning, the Slipper Market was awake early. The merchants set up stalls in the two hours before dawn and prepare their wares, and that was when a terrible something came crashing out of Marshan’s house. There were an awful lot of screams, and the entire house shook as if some great invisible hand had taken hold of it and was trying to push it into the ground or crumple it in its fist. I ran for the watch, but by the time we’d come back, it was all quiet. Wasn’t more than a few heartbeats after the guards entered Marshan’s home that the shaking and the screaming began again. Some of the guards ran back into the street only to be lifted into the air by something unseen and crushed most horrifically; it left behind only a few bodies, whatever it was. The house has been quiet ever since, but that doesn’t mean that the monster’s gone!” He indicates the ruined structure down the street with rubble spilling from the holes in its walls, "That was Marshan's place."
I have the roll now, let me know when you guys want to take that hour for prep.
Amiri takes a guarded stance near Esmerelda as to make sure nothing disturbs her preparation. She has learned to appreciate preparation, it always leads to chopping something. It seems to her, the more time put into it, the bigger the fight that follows.
The Inspector would rather interview and search for clues first. He can only Augury once a week. If he happens to find evidence that the creature is Undead anyways then he'd change his question. Plus, any interruption wastes the attempt. He's not a risk taker.
"An invisible hand? Could be telekinesis. A human-sized spellcaster trying to masquerade as a creature much larger. To sow panic. Merely a hypothesis at this juncture. Are there any large tracks?"
I think I've spotted a flaw in my build: he has no ability to search for tracks =\
"If big people find this thing big, it must really be BIG!", says little Parrym. "And if it makes the Earth quake and such, best be above the Earth".
Parrym uses her Wand of Ant Haul to give some power to Meneldor, so that she ride him.
Lasts one hour
"There's also the one found babbling that they took to the asylum. Never underestimate information from those believed to be crazy, they tend to tell the truth more than you think!"
One of the Crows steps up with answers, "No, no tracks to speak of." He coughs a bit, "We've checked the integrity of the building, and its sound enough, but none of us are experienced enough if we have to fight something in there...We've been waiting to see if anything else came out."
Pendergast, want to use the Augury now or investigate a bit further?
A spirit comes to Esmerelda, a half-orc, dressed in simple brown trousers, his shirt ripped off, frame emaciated as he holds a wand forward. His eyes are blue orbs and they look around confused. Spotting Esmerelda he nods, accepting and ready to help.