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Damsel in Distress

by Valentius

"The sound of the storm, the fireplace, and the tavern patron themselves, conceal the sound of the stranger as he enters the common room. The short figure removes its wet cloak , and you see an elf of the Callarii before you, dressed in the simple clothes of his people. Conversation in the tavern halts, as everyone's attention is focused on the stranger for a few moments. The elf turns to the innkeeper, and as the inn patrons return to their business and resume their conversations, you notice the innkeep talk to the elf for a few moments, and then point at your group, nodding his head."

DM's Briefing : The elf is Loenari, a simple horse handler of the Callarii. He is looking for his daughter Valiria, an adventuring ranger, last seen in Threshold with her adventuring company. He is just a simple elf (expert 2, horse handler), and asks the group for help. As a reward, he is able to offer a very finely bred Callarii white riding horse, his only possession of value.
The group must search for clues about Valiria's group, and then travel to the haunted castle ruins that were their destination. The first part of the adventure includes the search for clues, and the days spent travelling.

Part II

"Your travels brought you across the wilderness, to a small village. As the sun sets between gathering storm clouds, you enter a small tavern in the village centre. The sign outside its front door reads "Eleonora's Retreat" in Traldaran. The patrons and tavern keeper, all hard working men, tanned and rough, look at you with unfriendly eyes."

DM's Briefing : The villagers here are "classic" Traldarans, superstitious and hard working. The reason for their suspicion are the monsters haunting the village, every night for almost a month. Fortunately, it shouldn't be too hard to gain at least some of the villager's trust by defeating the monsters - a group of shadows or wraiths. This part of the adventure focuses around interrogating the villagers and locating the undead attackers. The undead's treasure is a corpse carrying a medallion, depicting a noble Traldaran couple. The corpse can be identified as one of the lost elf's daughter's companions. The villagers will gladly offer the adventurers all their help, together with dire warnings, and a brave hunter will guide them to the ruins.

Part III

"The day is stormy, and lightning flashes as you come near some ruined castle walls, a few hills away. Your guide, pale and nervous, turns to you. "Please, my friends, the castle and the land here are cursed. Turn back now, come to the village. You are good people, but if something bad happens to you here, you don't stay dead proper". Hearing your refusals, he makes a sign against evil, and leaves, not before granting you a bottle of holy water. As you go nearer , the castle walls looming above you, you think about how superstitious these villagers can be. It's just another ancient ruin filled with monsters and traps, right ?"

DM's Briefing : The characters enter the ruined castle grounds and explore the wall towers and the central keep (and any outer buildings the DM cares to add). In the keep, there are two main inhabitants, both ghosts, both with unusual ghostly special powers. One is the ghost of the Traldaran noble who ruled from this castle a century ago, and one of his half elven bride. Both died tragically, the husband turned into a werewolf, killing his wife, then taking his own life (yes , he is a werewolf ghost !).

They both manifest special powers, drawing the characters into shadowy realms that mimic the past. The husband's shadow realms can be entered from a hall of mirrors. The woman's from a picture of her in a long hallway of such pictures. In the shadow realms, (treat as shadow spells, nothing is real there) the characters must solve each realm before the ghost can be dispatched.

In the husband's realm, the castle cannot be entered. The characters are outside, with horses. It's a dark night, and they are supposed to hunt a roving werewolf (the one that infected the lord).
In the wife's realm, the characters are trapped inside the keep, and must save the fleeing woman (who is actually the missing daughter - the ghost chose her to play this role, because of their resemblance to each other) from the horrible werewolf that is after her.

Shadow enemies are based on their originator's imagination and fear - they may be stronger than what they really were. Still, they are only shadow.

The keep and castle grounds can have other enemies and traps too, such as a band of Ogres, based outside the keep, or stirges living in one of the ruined towers.

The adventure ends when both shadow realms are completed, husband and wife reunited (and finally dead), and Valiria safe with the characters (or not, as it may turn out).