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Old 06-22-2018, 03:10 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: One-shot adventure: The Tomb of Hroth Yaggeltor

Encounter Area 3: Hroth Yaggeltor’s Tomb

The tainted stream continues about eight yards upstream through an airless passage to another, significantly larger cave. Follow the mechanics from the first passage (see The Pool, above) if PCs want to swim up to the upper cave. The passage is a bit longer this time, which can be dangerous for characters who lack Swimming. Alternately, clever role-playing might convince the cave nymph to extend her walk-through-stone power to the PCs. You can set limits on this ability that seem appropriate to your group (i.e., it could last just long enough to dash through the wall, or it could last longer, allowing it to be used tactically in the following encounter).

The stream (one yard wide) winds through the lightless cavern, which is roughly 20 yards across, with natural cracks and crevices in the walls (none of which lead anywhere). The ceiling is higher, with beautiful stalactites and crystalline formations. Some cover is available behind stalagmites and outcroppings from the walls. There is a stone slab bridging the stream about twelve yards into the cave. There is an alcove to the right which contains a large, open, stone coffin. It is flanked by four clay pots (similar to the ones in the previous room), and there are carvings on the coffin and walls that match some of the iconography associated with the legendary barbarian chieftain. The lid of the coffin is the bridge over the stream.

The stream emerges through a pile of rocks (an old collapse) at the far side of the cave. Upon the rocks is the motionless body of a naked woman, sliced nearly in two by the blade of a grim-looking great axe. The axe is apparently embedded in the stone behind the body, and the body’s hands grip the blade. Fluid (blood? nymph ichor?) drips from the wound into the stream. This fluid is the source of the taint. The body is the naiad that used to occupy the stream. She taunted the draug (see below) until he became enraged and ambushed her. Her body remains, with no sign of decomposition, and he has been unable to retrieve his axe—a dying curse from the naiad—which makes him even more cranky.

This cave is occupied by the the undead form of Hroth Yaggeltor, a draug (Monsters, pp. 23-24), who rests in his coffin when he is not pacing his cave or attempting to retrieve his great axe. He wears a large distinctive helm (horns!) that matches the descriptions the party has heard of. Without his great axe, Hroth is reduced to using his six throwing axes or punching and grappling. Fortunately, he can Fast-Draw them and will try to pick off delvers individually as they enter his cave through the stream. He will not, however, willingly enter the water (bad naiad juju), nor will he cross it except via the bridge.

Scaling: A single draug was a tough opponent for my group (indeed, I removed the draug from “You All Meet at an Inn” because it was too much after the flame lord, toxifiers, and stone golem). You should scale him up or down as necessary for your group. He can be buffed to be more powerful, or there could be multiple draugr (his family or top lieutenants) or lesser undead minions. Depending on how you want to use the great axe, perhaps he can retrieve it after all.

Treasure: The four pots contain at least one gold coin each. In my session, they also included mixed ancient coins of lesser metals. A hefty haul, but the group won’t be retiring. When the draug died, I had his gear disintegrate with him, except for his helmet (though they nearly destroyed it with an all-out-attack to the skull). It would have value to collectors. You could arm him with magical weapons or other valuable gear.

Then there is the great axe. In my session, one of the characters grabbed it to try pulling it from the rock. It almost looked like the naiad’s eyes opened for a moment, at which point her hands released the axe. It came loose easily, and she transformed into water, flowing down into the stream. This cured the taint on the stream. The character holding the axe had an immediate sense that it was a bloodthirsty tool, filled with a hatred of life. He tossed it across the stream (successfully resisting his Greed), and the group decided to leave it behind. I didn’t fully stat it out and hadn’t decided on all the details, but I imagined it as an enchanted weapon with some basics (puissance, accuracy), plus a mild life steal element (gain 1 hp for every kill?), along with a moderate curse (some progressively violent disadvantages and, perhaps, a Will roll to avoid frequent bloodshed). I was fairly sure that none of the characters in my group would be interested, so it mainly existed as a possible seed for further adventures (trying to sell it, someone steals it, others are out to destroy it, etc.). Revise as needed for the stories you like to tell.


The naiad may or may not be alive again (my players disagreed about it and I didn't provide an answer). Either way, the cave nymph is thrilled—she has access to her full grotto and the stream is no longer tainted. She is grateful to the group and will provide assistance within reason. She is happy to let them keep any treasure unless they start prying crystals from the walls. They can rest up in her cave if they face a perilous journey. (The water is safe if they released the naiad.) If anyone is charmed and other characters ask her to release them, she will order her devotee(s) to continue traveling with their companions. They may be a bit melancholy until the charm wears off in a few days or weeks, but will otherwise be fine.
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