|John Lynch 106|
I wanted my players' journey from Ravengro to Lepidstadt to actually be exciting. As such I've reworked the encounters in both Trial of the Beast and Broken Moon to allow my PCs to encounter an issue. And thus that brings us to, Clover's Crossing.
Here's some notes/backstory I've created on the town.
What happened at Clover's Crossing
This town has gone to hell. A fissure erupted beneath the Church of Pharasma 2 weeks ago and the townsfolk have been terrified ever since. They first thought there were bandits in the countryside when farmers’ livestock was going missing as were the farmers themselves. As such many of the farmers fled into Clover’s Crossing itself for safety in numbers. However a week later a fissure erupted beneath the temple of Pharasma. Now the townsfolk are s!+~-scared and don’t know where to go.
What actually happened was:
- A professor heard about some ancient Kellid ruins in a cave west of Clover’s Crossing. With some students he went to excavate this site where he discovered an underground complex. There was a shrine to one of their post-Thassilonic deities as well as a mining operation. They haven’t told the local village as they know that people out in these parts are extremely superstitious and aren’t going to appreciate their vital research.
- The professsor and his students began excavating further into the caves, discovering a large deposit of marvos.
- They started clearing a collapsed tunnel when something from within burst out. It bit one of the students before running off.
- The student is infected with ghoul fever.
- For the first 3 days the student manages to potter on with the work. He doesn’t eat or drink very much and by the third day is quite weak and faint.
- The student sleeps for a further 6 days, not feeling well and eating very little.
- On the 9th day of his infection a witch is brought in to look at the student. She immediately realises that he has ghoul fever. She says that she knows not how to cure their friend and warns them that they should chop off his head and burn his body before scattering it across the river. Dismissing the old woman as a superstitious nutter, they send her away and continue to care for the student as best they can.
- After 3 more days the student is dead. That day the rain is pouring down quite bad and there are actually flash floods. They wait a day before burying him.
- The next morning they find the student among them. He’s quite animated, eating a lot and is back to his old self. Later that day they realise one of the female students is missing. They send out a search party for her and the ghoul student helps.
- That night all of the students have been killed and it’s just the professor and the ghoul student. He easily overpowers the professor and kills him as well. That night 2 of the students and the professor rise as ghouls. They all feast on the remaining corpse for dinner.
- They continue with their excavation, going out into the countryside to seek out food and water. Once the food source runs out they cause the ground directly below the church to collapse into a vast cavern below.
- They’ve been raiding the village ever since. Those who are taken down into the complex below never return.
The cavern is filled with Lazurite. Here is the information on Lazurite in my campaign:
DC 15: Lazurite. It’s a rather rare gemstone that is mostly found in northern Garund. Its name comes from the Osirion term for the sky, alluding to its blue colour.
DC 20: It’s illegal to have this gemstone in quantities larger than a thumbnail. As such jewellery involving this gemstone isn’t carried by jewellers in Ustalav.
History (possibly only after determining its name)
DC 15: The Kellids considered Lazurite to be a holy stone, although they
DC 20: The Hallit term for Lazurite is Marvos which means dead. It was used as warpaint as it was said to contain properties that made warrior’s stronger and heartier.
DC 25: Knowledge on how to process the lazurite was secret to all except the tribe’s shaman. The chief would go to the Shaman and have to convince him to transform the lazurite into the special warpaint to ensure their victory in an upcoming battle. If the shaman agreed, he would demand to lead the warriors into battle instead of the chief who was left behind with the tribe’s elderly and young.
Religion (possible only after determining its name)
DC 10: Lazurite is illegal in Ustalav. It is highly valuable as a component in necromantic spells.
DC 15: Large deposits of lazurite causes the dead to rise as zombies.
DC 20: The dead actually rise as either ghasts or ghouls. These are a ravenous undead who are driven by a terrible hunger that never leaves them.
DC 25: Unbeknownst to most people Lazurite is extremely common in Ustalav. The Church of Pharasma has worked hard since the original founding of the Kingdom to ensure that large deposits of it were shunned and definitely not mined for economical advantages.
Here are the encounters I've constructed. Keep in mind my PCs are level 4.
CR 4: Dogs and children (1,200 XP)
1xGhoul Dog – statistically same as a normal ghoul (400 XP)
4xGhoul Children – small ghoul (800 XP)
This should be an easy combat for them. It's largely atmospheric and to compel the PCs further on into the chasm.
CR 6: Patrol of Ghouls (2,400 XP)
1xGhoul Expert 5 (800 XP)
3 Ghouls Warrior 3 (1,800 XP)
This should make the PCs take notice and realise this isn't going to just be all dogs and children. That some of the ghouls down here represent a very real threat.
CR 6: The Cleric's laboratory (1,600 XP)
1 Ghoul Expert 3 (600 XP)
2 Ghouls Commoner 3 (1,200 XP)
Human slaves are kept in cages. The expert was once an academic at Lepidstadt university. He turned to religion and became a cleric of pharasma before coming to Clover's Crossing. Now that he's a ghoul Pharasma has forsaken him and he's lost his levels in cleric.
He is seeking a cure to being a ghoul and believes it lies in the properties of Lazurite. He feasts on the brains of his fellow villagers to help him in his research. He's gone completely insane, but still wears his cleric's vestments and holy symbol.
CR 7: Kellid Ruins Research (3,200 XP)
1xGhast Wizard 6 (1,600 XP)
3 Ghouls Commoner 3 (1,800 XP)
What do people think? Do these encounters seem balanced? The PCs will have an opportunity to sleep before fighting the CR 7 as the wizard is engrossed in his research. Do the fights seem not hard enough?
Any suggestions on possible changes?
I like how you’ve positioned the PCs as the last hope to contain a situation that could otherwise entirely wipe out Clover’s Crossing. Hopefully the characters will be motivated to stay and help.
I’m assuming you have four to five PCs and the average party level (APL) is 4. If so, the CR7 wizard encounter would be considered an epic difficulty per the challenge rating table in the core rulebook. I would let them sleep before that. Maybe the cleric mutters something as he dies that will warn them to take inventory of their resources before continuing. Or perhaps the human slaves ask to be led back to the surface and ask the PCs to stay for a village meeting to discuss the situation.
My guess is they will need to rest before the CR7 encounter. In APL/CR terms, your ghoul patrol ranks as a hard encounter and the cleric encounter ranks as challenging. Even though you stripped the cleric’s powers, when you tell the PCs that a cleric of pharasma turns to collect their brains, they will probably unload on him, depleting many of their resources.