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Divided We Fall

Divided We Fall is an adventure set in the Savage Baronies. To run this adventure, the DM should be familiar with the SAVAGE COAST campaign setting, especially with the Red Curse and the Legacies it causes.

So this adventure can be used easily in any world, all the monsters in it can be found in the MONSTROUS MANUAL tome. However, monsters from other sources, such as the MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM appendix for the MYSTARA campaign world, might add more flavour to the setting and provide greater challenges for the PCs; the DM should feel free to add monsters and challenges unique to the world in which he has placed the SAVAGE COAST campaign.

This adventure is best suited for player characters (PCs) of levels 4-6. Because the majority of the monster opponents in the adventure are relatively weak goblinoids, the DM has room to adjust the danger of the adventure to suit slightly higher or lower level PCs. Characters of higher level can still enjoy the adventure as long as the DM increases the number of opponents or substitutes more powerful opponents during combat encounters. Most of the role-playing and non-combat encounters are challenging to PCs of any level. However, lower level characters can have considerable difficulty overcoming the combat and other life-threatening obstacles of this adventure, and they have little chance of defeating Balazar, the main villain. Take care not to force lower-level PCs into combat with opponents they cannot defeat.

The adventure begins in the barony of Saragón, and most or all of the PCs should be from one of the Savage Baronies, perhaps even Saragón itself. In the previous chapter are six pregenerated characters who are ideal for this setting. However, players should be encouraged to use PCs of their own design. If the pregenerated characters are not used as PCs, the DM can feel free to use them as NPCs or replacement characters in the event that a PC is incapacitated or even slain.

It is possible to import characters from other settings; characters from far lands should find the Legacies of the local people to be unsettling perhaps even frightening. Be sure to emphasise the strange nature of the region to any foreign PCs. Encourage them to role-play their outsider status.

Balazar and the Gosluk

Balazar became an Inheritor a few years ago; over the past two years, he has had a couple of run-ins with another Inheritor, Don Luis de Manzanas, baronet of Aranjuez in Saragón. Balazar has considered Don Manzanas his mortal enemy ever since the baronet refused to surrender his cinnabryl to Balazar. Upon Don Manzanas' refusal, Balazar challenged him; the baronet suggested they meet the next day, at which time Balazar broke the Code of the Inheritors by attacking then and there, violating the sanctity of Don Luis' home and proving himself a thorough villain by confronting his host in front of guests.

Unfortunately for Balazar, Miguel Hernando de Montoya, castellan to Manzanas, was present to help defend his lord. Firing his smokepowder pistol at Balazar, Miguel instantly depleted the attacking Inheritor's remaining cinnabryl, forcing Balazar to undergo the Time of Loss and Change, as described in "The Curse and the Legacies" chapter of this book. Instantly and painfully transformed into a grotesque brute, Balazar retreated from Torre de Manzanas, swearing revenge on Don Luis and Miguel.

What neither Don Luis nor Miguel know is that after Balazar's retreat, the transformed Inheritor travelled far from Saragón, horrified by his new appearance and furious in his defeat. Wandering the wilds north of Torre de Manzanas, Balazar eventually encountered a small raiding party of about 20 Gosluk goblins. Thinking the mutated Balazar a particularly ugly ogre, the goblins at first tried to enlist his service. When he refused with great hostility, the goblins attacked him. The three who survived were quite agreeable when Balazar demanded that they take him to their chief.

Six months later, Balazar had established himself as a chief among the Gosluk, murdering his way up their hierarchy of personal power and ruthlessness, then leading them into raids against the neighbouring Kuttai orcs and goblins. Between the fear he inspired in his troops and his powerful Legacies, Balazar led the Gosluk in military strikes so brutal and frightening that the Kuttai were quick to agree to an alliance in order to stop the fighting.

The Dankut orcs have been allies of the Kuttai, but their chieftains' distrust of Balazar makes them hesitant to accept the Gosluk as allies, despite the Kuttai's alliance with them. If Balazar leads the Gosluk and Kuttai in victorious raids against the humans of the Savage Baronies, however, he may be able to unite more tribes. If so, the Savage Baronies will face a horde of monsters the likes of which have not been seen there since the fall of Oltec civilisation.

One man stands between Balazar and this conquest.

Don Luis de Manzanas

The common residents and soldiers of Saragón consider Don Luis de Manzanas a noble of the highest degree, a man of character as well as station, and a hero to the entire barony. Still, many nobles of Saragón and the other Savage Baronies consider Don Luis a clever schemer, bent on advancing his own position by whatever means are handy. In this particular case, it is the commoners who are correct. Don Luis is a nobleman in the truest sense of the word.

Honourable and altruistic, Don Luis strives to defend not only his own barony but also the entire Savage Baronies region. His attitude is exemplified by his actions at the Battle of Morrión just three years ago, when he helped lead Saragóner forces against Yazi gnolls that had sacked castles in Almarrón and Gargoña, avenging the losses suffered by those two baronies. Given the mistrustful climate of the Savage Baronies, it is easy to see how such a man is misunderstood, but the baronet is not just a victim of envy and ordinary human mistrust. The artifact he uses to defend Saragón and all the baronies exacts a price for its use. It is the source of the distrust and suspicion that has kept Don Luis from rising above his current status. For more information on the effects of this artifact, see the description of the careta de la barrera, the barrier mask, in the "Magic" chapter.

As a member of the Inheritors' Order of Crimson, Don Luis strives to control and distribute cinnabryl. As a retainer and adviser to Barón Balthazar de Montejo y Aranjuez, he serves the barony; as lord of the northernmost citadel he also directly protects Saragón and its people. Fortunately, the baronet has never faced the dilemma of divided loyalties; but should that problem ever arise, he would almost certainly serve his country first, his Order second.

Recently, Don Luis' scouts have reported frighteningly large and frequent sightings of Gosluk. More disturbingly, some of those scouts have failed to return from their missions. Don Luis has no idea that Balazar is the one mustering the goblinoids of the steppes, but he does know enough to prepare for an impending invasion.

Don Luis has sent word to Barón Balthazar already, and the baron has sent emissaries to each of the other baronies in an attempt to achieve unity against the goblin hordes. Unfortunately, Saragón's reputation for being able to fend off large invasions has left even the more sympathetic baronies with little fear that the goblins pose a real threat.

Since diplomacy has failed, the baronet has decided to take matters into his own hands. He is currently trying to find a way to increase the power of the careta de la barrera.

Careta de la Barrera: the Barrier Mask

Saragón has remained safe from foreign invasion largely because of the barrier mask, a powerful Oltec artifact which can repel invading armies of 100 or more beings. Most residents of the Savage Baronies believe that Barón Balthazar, the ruler of Saragón, keeps the mask in the capital city of Ciudad Matacán. Barón Balthazar could not be more pleased at this misconception, for the artifact's powers, while considerable, are less than commonly believed.

The barrier mask must be brought very close to an approaching force for its powers to affect the invaders. Thus, Barón Balthazar has entrusted the artifact to Don Luis, whose stronghold is strategically placed to deploy the barrier mask quickly against invaders from either the Yazak Steppes or the barony of Narvaez, the two clearest threats to Saragón. Secondarily, Barón Balthazar wishes personally to avoid the effects of the mask's curse, which he learned of through astute divinations. Though the baron does not especially wish ill on Don Luis, he does worry about potential conflicts of interest should the charismatic noble become baron. Thus, entrusting Don Luis with the mask serves two purposes at once: protecting the barony from invaders and keeping the baronet from being considered heir to Saragón.

While the barrier mask has allowed Don Luis to keep Saragón from being invaded by its more aggressive neighbours, he fears it may not work against such a huge horde as is now threatening. While sending scouts to investigate activity from the Yazak Steppes, Manzanas also charged sages and bards with researching a means by which the artifact's power could be enhanced or complemented. These efforts bore fruit nearly a year ago when one of the bards in the baronet's employ returned from his travels with a promising legend.

The legend suggested that the careta de la barrera is only part of a larger artifact created by the ancient Oltecs. Each Oltec city crafted one portion of a mannequin meant to represent a patron Immortal. At a great celebration in honour of Oltec unity, they planned to assemble the totem and forever defend their lands from invaders. Unfortunately, the invaders came far too soon, sweeping away the last remnants of Oltec civilisation before they could assemble the artifact which might have protected them.

Don Luis' scouts have been charged with investigating any ancient Oltec ruins. As this adventure opens, one small scouting party has recently discovered just such a ruin.

Adventure Synopsis

The PCs begin the adventure while travelling through a small village near Torre de Manzanas. While there, they encounter the lone survivor of one of Don Luis' scouting parties. If they give her aid, they learn that she and her companions found the ancient Oltec ruin that Don Luis suspects may contain an artifact capable of enhancing the power of the careta de la barrera.

If the PCs bring the survivor, Maria, to Don Luis, they are offered the opportunity to complete her mission by travelling to the ruins and recovering the new artifact. When they return, the PCs should also report on any Gosluk activity they witness.

Actually, two ruins lie near the location the survivor described; one of the ruins is Oltec, but the other is a much more recent structure built by Traladarans. Worse, a large band of Gosluk and Kuttai goblinoids have made camp in one of them while they search for the artifact themselves. Fortunately, the goblinoids are mistakenly searching the wrong ruin.

The PCs can find the ruin which contains the artifact either by searching the area or by rescuing another surviving scout who was captured by Gosluk. The captive, Orlando, is being held in the Traladaran ruins by Gosluk and Kuttai goblins. Once saved from the goblinoids, Orlando can lead the PCs to the correct part of the Oltec ruin and warn them of the dangers inside. The PCs must explore the ruins, find the artifact, and escape before the goblin and orc hordes arrive. When the PCs are about ready to leave the area of the ruins, Balazar arrives with a group of elite Kuttai orcs; not far behind him, a huge horde of goblinoids advances. The great horde includes Gosluk and Kuttai, and even a few Dankut who have been enticed into coming along. The alliance of the three great tribes, even for a short time, bodes ill for the baronies.

If the PCs are successful, they can return to Torre de Manzanas in Saragón, where Don Luis can add the power of the bracers of forbiddance to that of the barrier mask, and turn aside the approaching horde just in time. Balazar and a small group of elite orcs manage to slip through the barrier, however, and attack Don Luis in an attempt to destroy both the baronet and the barrier. Weakened by using the artifact, Don Luis is vulnerable to Balazar, and only the player characters can save the baronet from certain death at the vengeful hands of Balazar.

Starting the Adventure

The Lands of Don Luis de Manzanas.

The action of this adventure begins in the tiny hamlet of Escudo, a few miles northwest of Torre de Manzanas in the barony of Saragón. The player characters need not be natives of Saragón, but most should be native to the Savage Baronies. To explain why the PCs are travelling through this tiny town together, the DM can either integrate this adventure into an ongoing SAVAGE COAST campaign, or use one of the following adventure hooks:

* If any PC is a native of Saragón, Escudo can be his hometown. Perhaps the party is travelling here simply so the PC can visit with relatives. Alternately, the DM can include a message from the PC's family in the adventure before this one, summoning the PC home because of a wedding, funeral, or other important event in the family.

* If any of the PCs has ties to another barony, the party may be delivering a message to Don Luis from another noble. Escudo is the last settlement through which the PCs must pass before reaching Torre de Manzanas.

* A PC wizard or bard might have heard of Don Luis' interest in ancient lore and be travelling to Torre de Manzanas to seek employment.

* Any or all of the PCs may have heard that Don Luis is paying excellent wages for specialist scouts brave enough to venture to the Yazak Steppes.

Regardless of the hook used to draw the party to Escudo, the PCs should feel a sense of serenity when they enter the tiny hamlet. The fresh air is sweet with the scent of apples and cool with orchard shade. In the precise rows of trees beyond every house in this loosely arrayed village, men climb ladders with baskets attached. The older boys and girls help with the harvest, gathering bags and baskets drooping with the weight of fruit. Younger children chase between trees and ladders, never far from the eyes of their parents.

The villagers are friendly, if a bit shy. They glance up at the PCs, but when the PCs meet their eyes, the villagers smile politely and quickly glance back down. They seem more respectful than fearful, though, as if they are comfortable in their relatively low niche in the social order. Note that these villagers show few signs of the Red Curse because the local priest protects them with maintain spells.

As long as the PCs are friendly, the villagers greet them pleasantly. They are used to scouts and occasional wanderers, but for the villagers themselves, most travel is between the Escudo and the Tower. They rarely go beyond the world defined by the trail that connects the two. If questioned, the villagers are full of local gossip but have little useful information. Some sample dialogue follows; try to work this information into a conversation between a villager and a PC, rather than simply dropping the data on the PCs without a context. The PCs could strike up a conversation with any of the hamlet's inhabitants, but remember that most of them are a little shy at first; the statements below will not be the first thing to pop out of someone's mouth.

* "The soldiers patrol all the time. Even though we are near the edge of the barony, we're safe from goblins and bandits."

* "Harvest has just begun, and we will work hard for at least another week before festival. You should stay for La Festiva de Manzanas at the Tower. All the villages will bring their best food and wine, and all the best minstrels will visit."

* "Don Luis is truly a noble man. He has devoted his life to protect the barony, even though he is also a member of the Crimson Order. Such a man is important to everyone here, especially the accursed."

The PCs can buy food and drink here. They can barter or pay for lodging in one of the homes, but no inn or tavern is situated here. Villagers tell anyone inquiring about supplies or equipment that they should visit the little market at Torre de Manzanas, about two miles southeast.

The Lone Survivor

Just before the PCs leave the village, or as soon as the players begin to lose interest in role-playing with the villagers, the DM should bring the first of the important NPCs into the adventure. The PCs hear a distant cry that disrupts the tranquillity of the little village. It is a boy, running out into the fields beyond the northern orchards. None can make out what he is saying, but his gesture can only mean, "Come here!"

Assuming the PCs look beyond the boy, they can see he is running northwest toward a lone rider. Together, rider and mount are a black silhouette against the yellow fields. Even from this distance the PCs can see that a humanoid figure is slumped behind the drooping neck of the horse, exhausted or dead.

If the PCs make no move to follow the boy, a nearby woman calls out, "Manuel! Stay back from the stranger!" If the PCs do not act now, a man and a teenage boy grab staves and run after Manuel. If the PCs still refuse to follow, one of the other labourers suggests that the rider may bring trouble. "Won't you go see what it is? We are a simple people, and surely no lone rider would challenge such as you." If nothing else, the PCs should see the survivor, Maria, as Manuel and the other villagers lead her horse into the village.

Maria is in bad shape. Slouched forward to allow the mount to support most of her body, she is barely able to clutch her horse's mane. Somehow she finds strength to hang on, though the PCs can see she has been wounded on the shoulder and the side, probably by arrows. Her trousers are slit above the knee to reveal a crude, blood-stained bandage, her thigh swollen round beneath it. As she nears the village, she lifts her dusty face to rasp weakly, "Water!"

The rider is Maria Cordoba, one of Don Luis' scouts and (she thinks) the last survivor of a group that discovered an ancient ruin in the near foothills of La Pampa Rica (territory west of Saragón, unclaimed by humans). Maria suffers from arrow wounds and dehydration, but what threatens her life is the poisonous sting from a manticore. If the PCs apply sufficient healing to restore Maria to half her hit point total and give her water, she can talk a little.

She speaks in a gasping voice, her eyes unfocused, and tries to get the PCs to swear to complete her mission: "Please! Swear to complete ... my mission. My life is gone ... the poison. Swear to me!" Most PCs should be reluctant to swear to complete an unknown mission, but rash promises epitomise the Swashbucklers so common in the Savage Baronies, and Maria is most definitely a damsel in distress. Any requests that Maria explain the mission in more detail before a PC accepts are met with impatient protests: "There is no time! My life ... it slips away. Swear it!" She has nothing more to explain if no one will take her oath, though she will ask to be taken to Don Luis.

Should any PC swear to complete Maria's mission, she calms considerably and continues to speak: "The ruins we found them! They are not far ... 50 miles, perhaps. Tell Lord Luis ... we searched for the artifact. There were ... monsters in the ruin, but we ... escaped. Then Gosluk ambushed us. ..." The woman coughs and calls for water again.

A PC with either the healing or the herbalism Non-weapon proficiency can use knowledge of either skill to examine Maria; a successful proficiency check confirms that Maria is indeed doomed if the poison in her system is not neutralised. Any successful use of the knowledge of herbalism (that is, another proficiency check) informs the player character that only magic can neutralise the poison this late in its course. If a priest character casts a neutralize poison spell upon her, Maria is saved from death, and healing her to her full hit point total restores her to some vitality; if this occurs, she insists that she go directly to Don Luis to report. If, as is likely, no PCs are priests or can cast neutralize poison, the party can still save Maria by taking her immediately to Torre de Manzanas, which is only a few minutes away by horse or half an hour on foot.

Maria Cordoba, Scout Thief: AC 8 (leather); MV 12; 3rd-level thief; hp 16 (1 at present); THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6+1 (rapier); AL NG; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 11. Maria should not need her thieving skills in this adventure; if for some reason she does, the DM can invent them as appropriate or use the average scores listed in the DMG.

Equipment: rapier, leather armour, light crossbow, bolt case with no crossbow bolts remaining.

The PCs may wish to escort Maria to Torre de Manzanas themselves, send a messenger to summon help, or perhaps even leave her with the villagers.

If they choose to take her to the Tower, the PCs must devise a way to carry her there, as she no longer has the strength to remain on horseback. If the PCs request a cart to carry Maria, the villagers provide one. It might also be possible for someone on horseback to carry her if she is somehow secured.

If the PCs send a messenger to Don Luis, then Miguel Hernando de la Montoya, the baronet's dwarven castellan, appears within about half an hour to fetch Maria, bringing a priest and a unit of six soldiers. Miguel introduces himself with haste and courtesy, and requests that the PCs accompany him to Torre de Manzanas. Miguel is a bit brusque, because he does not understand why the PCs did not bring Maria directly to the tower, rather than make her dangle by a thread of life.

If the PCs choose to leave Maria with the villagers and then proceed to Torre de Manzanas, Miguel rushes out with a priest and six soldiers to retrieve the scout as soon as the PCs arrive and tell anyone what has happened. Neither Miguel nor Don Luis thinks much of the PCs in this event. Unless they express a convincing reason for their unchivalrous actions, the PCs will not be asked to complete Maria's mission. How could they be expected to help an entire nation if they cannot help one needy woman?

Meeting Manzanas

When the PCs arrive at the citadel with Maria, guards meet them before the open drawbridge. As long as the PCs are not hostile, the guards respond in a friendly, if somewhat formal, manner. When the PCs get close enough, the guards recognise Maria, understand the situation immediately, and allow the PCs through the gate while initiating a shouted summons for the castellan (Miguel). If the PCs are already accompanied by Miguel, Miguel shouts for Don Luis.

In any case, it should not be long before Don Luis himself appears. The baronet is a handsome man in his late 30s. He appears young and vibrant but has just a touch of grey at his temples, the result of too much stress in his adventuresome life. As mentioned, Don Luis is an Inheritor of the Order of Crimson. In fact, the baronet was one of the first 11 Inheritors, who led the adventuring group that caused crimson essence to be invented (see the material on Saragón earlier in this book).

The first concern of Don Luis (and Miguel) is to save Maria's life, assuming the PCs have not delayed so long as to make this impossible. (The exact amount of time Maria can survive is left to the DM, but the DM should not be afraid to be harsh with PCs who procrastinate.) Don Luis has a skilled healer as part of his staff, and the guards call for the healer at the same time the baronet is notified. Both healer and lord arrive within a minute or two.

The healer is skilled in both the healing and herbalism Non-weapon proficiencies, but he quickly realises these will not be enough for Maria. As soon as he assesses the situation, the healer asks permission of Don Luis to get a magical potion (actually a dose of Keoghtom's ointment) from the baronet's stock of such things. Don Luis readily agrees, and he asks the PCs to help move the girl to a comfortable room inside the tower while Miguel runs off the get the magical ointment. The ointment is enough to save the scout, but she is exhausted from her ordeal, falling into a deep sleep as soon as her wounds have been tended.

Manzanas the Man

Statistics for both Don Luis and Balazar are given at the end of this adventure. The DM should become familiar with these statistics, taking special note of the baronet, his role as an Inheritor, his personality, and his alignment (neutral good).

Don Luis always carries himself with an air of nobility and compassion. As soon as Maria is under the able care of the healer, he turns to business with the PCs. Still, he occasionally sends for word about the girl's condition until he is reassured that Maria is on her way to recovery.

The baronet begins by introducing himself to the PCs and taking them to his study, where he offers them wine or water, whichever they prefer. Don Luis comes quickly to the point, but in a friendly and open manner, asking the PCs why they were in the area, how they happened to find his scout, and anything she might have said to them. One hopes the PCs relay the important information they gained from Maria, namely that she discovered the ruins, that the site lies about 50 miles away, and that she and her companions were attacked by Gosluk goblins.

If for any reason the PCs do not provide this information to Don Luis, it is only a short time before Maria wakes from a restful sleep to give the information to her lord herself. Even if the PCs do tell Don Luis all they know, he talks to Maria and hears about the manticore and the fact that two sets of ruins are located in the area she was scouting.

Once Don Luis discovers the status of Maria's mission, he feels a sense of urgency: If goblins are close to the artifact, someone must go retrieve it quickly before the goblins take it or destroy it. Don Luis interrogates the PCs further, trying to determine their trustworthiness. If the PCs all swear to undertake an important mission and keep it secret before hearing the details Don Luis tells them a little of the story, not wanting to disclose the whole tale in case they are captured or should somehow turn against him.

Don Luis explains that he has spent the last few years searching for an ancient Oltec artifact, a set of magical bracers. These bracers will help protect their wearer from damage or so it is believed. He suspects they are an ancient form of bracers of defence, which might have powers other than simple protection.

While what he says is basically true, it is not the whole story. Under no circumstances does Don Luis tell them more at this time. That the bracers are part of a set, along with the barrier mask, is a secret he wishes to keep for now.

Note: Due to the effect of the barrier mask, any PC of noble birth gets an odd, very subtle feeling that the baronet is not to be trusted. If the PCs act on this, perhaps questioning the castle guards and servants, all answers indicate that Don Luis is a wonderful person; the mask's effects apply only to other nobles. No amount of questioning or study leads to an explanation for this feeling.

A Little Help

If the PCs agree to help Don Luis, he suggests that Miguel go along with them. The dwarf knows a little about the mission and should be able to recognise the bracers, having studied Oltec artifacts with the baronet. Miguel is eager to help, especially if any women are in the adventuring party. The DM should play up Miguel's usefulness as much as possible. Though he may appear comical (the concept of a dwarven Swashbuckler is a bit amusing, after all), Miguel is a quite capable individual. He can guide the PCs on their mission, give them information, and come to their assistance in combat.

The PCs might suspect that Miguel would be going along to keep an eye on them, which is entirely true. Don Luis trusts Miguel implicitly and knows he will do his best to bring the bracers back to Torre de Manzanas. Thus, Miguel's task is not to watch the PCs and insure their loyalty so much as it is to see to their safety so the bracers can be retrieved. If the characters show the slightest hesitation, Don Luis conceals none of his reasoning for wanting Miguel to go along. The DM should make every effort to portray Miguel as trustworthy and potentially helpful so that he can give them more clues about the bracers later on. Besides, he's an engaging character. If the PCs refuse to take Miguel, the baronet does not force them to do so, but instead provides a map marked with the suspected site of the ruins.

Note: If Miguel is used as a player character, the DM has to add a little more history to the adventure. First, at the beginning, Don Luis sends Miguel to Escudo to debrief (and of course heal) Maria and hear what she has discovered. Miguel heads back to his lord, bringing the PCs. After Don Luis tells the adventurers about the mission, he pulls Miguel aside and gives him the real story of the artifact. When and if Miguel tells the other PCs is up to his player.

The PCs' Mission

Once the PCs have agreed to Don Luis' request, they are allowed to outfit themselves from the armoury and enjoy reasonable credit from the marketplace. Allow the PCs to equip themselves with any supplies listed in the PHB, up to a total cost of 100 gold pieces per PC. Normal equipment can be obtained from the market, basic weapons are available from the citadel's smiths, and leather or chain mail can be acquired as well. Don Luis also has a supply of cinnabryl, but he asks the PCs to pay for it; if he has been impressed with the PCs, the baronet charges them Inheritor's prices. Though Don Luis has several red steel weapons, these are hidden in a secret armoury, and he does not release them to the PCs. Don Luis is also willing to supply horses to any PCs who do not have them (as a loan only).

The baronet encourages the PCs to be on their way as quickly as possible, so that no time is lost in recovering the bracers. If they waste time getting supplies, Don Luis and Miguel try to speed up the procedures, going as far as travelling to the different market stalls themselves to get the goods. Don Luis is pleasant to the PCs unless they waste a lot of time.

Once the PCs are ready, they should head off toward the ruins. If Miguel is not accompanying the PCs, Don Luis makes sure they have a map to the approximate location of the ruins. He also passes on some information from Maria: The two sets of ruins are each on a hill within sight of the other. If necessary, the baronet can also describe Oltec architecture, which uses step pyramids, giant stone heads, and intricately carved statuary. When all preliminaries are done, Don Luis wishes the adventurers luck and sends them on their way.

The first part of their journey, across the grasslands of La Pampa Rica, should be relatively uneventful; the PCs are headed almost due west from Torre de Manzanas, and while they might have a few encounters, none are important to the progress of the adventure.

After they reach the hilly lands, the PCs have an encounter with some Gosluk goblins, an event foreshadowing things to come. After the PCs move on, they come to the two sets of ruins. When they become able to see the ruins, they should notice goblinoids encamped around one. The other set of ruins appears uninhabited and is the one the PCs want to explore.

The PCs then need to make several decisions about whether they should attack, sneak in, etc. They might also know about a human prisoner (Maria's partner Orlando) in the goblin encampment and need to decide what to do about him. Eventually, the PCs should search one or both sets of ruins to find the bracers of forbiddance, which are located in the Oltec ruins (not the ruins with the goblinoid camp). At about the time the PCs recover the bracers, or when the DM feels they have spent long enough looking, a great goblinoid horde, led by Balazar, approaches from the northwest. The ideal situation is for the PCs to try to warn Saragón, running just ahead of the horde until they reach Torre de Manzanas.

As this part of the adventure progresses, the PCs can come to realise that the goblinoids represent a very serious threat to the Savage Baronies. By the time they encounter the large horde of goblins at the end of this section, the player characters should be feeling the urgency of the situation and should be ready to retreat to Torre de Manzanas. Be sure to give the PCs every opportunity to run; they are not meant to actually face the goblin horde they see here, merely to retreat ahead of it to warn Don Luis.

La Pampa Rica

Following a map or Miguel's directions, the PCs should not take long to cross these grasslands to reach their goal. The first portion of the PCs' journey is through cultivated fields and patrolled lands. The PCs have no adverse encounters in these areas, but the DM may wish to include short role-playing encounters with workers in the fields, Gauchos, military scouts returning from patrol, or other characters that might give the setting a greater sense of reality.

Once the PCs cross the border of Saragón, the fields give way to savannahs, then eventually to rough hills. The PCs risk encounters with wild animals, bandits, and even Gosluk outriders. If the party is powerful enough to withstand a few incidental encounters on the way, the DM should feel free to include them. A short random encounter chart is included if the DM wants to use it. The short adventures from the previous chapter can also be used if the PCs have not experienced those encounters previously, and the DM is encouraged to experiment with favourite monsters, perhaps giving them Legacies.

Remember that these encounters, like the role-playing encounters mentioned above, are diversions that add colour to the adventure setting. They are not intended to pull the PCs away from the main adventure or to kill them.





Gosluk Goblin Scouts (5): Int Low (5ñ7); AL LE; AC 6; MV 6; HD 1ñ1; hp 5 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (short sword); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each. This is a small scouting party that could serve as a sort of warm-up encounter.




Aurumvorax (1): Int Animal (1); AL N; AC 0; MV 9, Br 3; HD 12; hp 47; THAC0 9; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4 (bite); SA 2d4 claws for 2d4 damage each; SZ S; ML 19; XP 9,000. This monster prowls in hilly ground. It does not really want to fight, which is probably fortunate for the PCs, but it attacks if approached or pestered.




Gauchos (6): Int Avg (8ñ10); Al N; AC 8 (leather armour); MV 12 (18 on light warhorses); HD 1; hp 7 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4 (dagger) or 1d10+ (wheellock horse pistol); SZ M; ML 14; XP 15 each. These are cattle herders wandering the range or possibly camped for the night, depending on when they are encountered. Each gaucho has a horse, and several cattle graze nearby. The gauchos are peaceful but willing to become rowdy if insulted. These gauchos live outside the cursed lands and do not have Legacies.




Prairie Dogs (10): Int Animal (1); AL N; AC 8; MV 12, Br 2; HD 1/2; hp 2 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1; SZ S; ML 8; XP 7 each. This encounter can be played for humour, but it can also have serious repercussions. As the PCs are riding along, they begin to notice prairie dogs popping up from nearby holes. While the animals do not attack unless bothered, their dens are a hazard. If the PCs don't take precautions in this region, each horse has a one in six chance of stepping into a hole; if this happens, the rider must calm his mount, or it has a one in twelve chance of breaking a leg and being unable to continue. Otherwise, it is relatively easy to extricate a horse from a hole.

The Gosluk Goblins

The party's first real encounter with Gosluks is in the grassy valleys leading up to the hills where the ruins are located. Goblins have paused in a small valley and are not visible until the PCs come over a small rise. The goblins have alert scouts, who spot the PCs at the same time the party sees them unless the PCs have taken precautions (like sending out a stealthy scout).

This is purely a combat encounter to show the PCs that the goblins are not at all shy about attacking humans, as they would be normally. If one of these goblins is captured, he tells the PCs that his friends have a human prisoner back at the ruins. If it does not look like a goblin will be captured, the DM can even have one of the goblins mention the prisoner during combat, either bragging about the captive or ordering his compatriots to "get another one to take back to the ruins!" Though goblins usually speak their own language, several of them have learned rough common in order to communicate more easily with Balazar; this allows them to communicate with the PCs as well.

If Miguel is with the adventuring party at this time and the PCs do well against the goblins, exhibiting reasonably honourable behaviour, Miguel takes them into his confidence and tells them about the artifacts, including all he knows about the barrier mask and the bracers of forbiddance.

Goblins (13): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6 (10); MV 6; HD 1ñ1; hp 5 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each.

Goblin leader (1): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6 (10); MV 6; HD 1; hp 7; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each.

Worgs (14): Int Low; AL N(E); AC 6; MV 18; HD 3+3; hp 17 each; THAC0 17; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ M; ML 11; XP 120 each.

Two Ruins

Following Maria's directions, Don Luis' map, or Miguel's leadership, the PCs eventually arrive at the area Maria described. The two hills here are both dotted with scrub vegetation and gouged by ravines. The clearly recognisable ruins of a Traladaran outpost stand on the higher hill, abandoned hundreds of years ago after a devastating Gosluk raid. The lower hill is more a plateau; on it, invisible to cursory examination, are the half-buried remains of a much older ruin, this one a devastated Oltec temple.

When the first Traldar pioneers travelled to this region, they established a series of small fortresses meant to protect their claimed lands from goblinoid raiders. It was not long before those raiders laid siege to the fortresses and scattered most of the Traldar. These ruins mark the location of a fortress which took nearly two years to construct, but which stood for less than a year before it was razed to the ground.

The two ruins lie within sight of one another, and as the PCs approach, they can clearly see goblins around the ruins on the higher hill. The PCs are correct if they believe that any activity in the Oltec ruin is visible from the Traladaran ruin; they must do something about the goblins, or sneak in and out of the Oltec ruin with either speed or magical concealment. The PCs might also be aware that the goblins have a human prisoner, Orlando; if they do not yet realise he exists, he becomes visible on a close approach to the ruins of the Traldar citadel.

Note that if Miguel is with the PCs when they see the ruins, the dwarf makes a remark or two. He recognises the costumes of the Yazak goblinoids, and when he sees Gosluk and Kuttai together, he says something like, "The Gosluk, they are no problem. They raid, and they go away. They are weak. The Kuttai, they are no problem; they raid, and they go away. Seeing Kuttai and Gosluk together, that is a bit of a problem, but not one that is insurmountable. Thank goodness the Dankut are not with them."

The main concern of the PCs is getting past the goblinoids, either by avoiding them or fighting them. In regard to their approach to the ruins, the PCs have three broad options:

* Stealth. The PCs can sneak in and rescue Orlando, sneak into the Oltec temple to recover the bracers, or both. If the PCs are very careful, they might pull off a stealthy approach, but they will definitely make noise when they find the manticore guarding the bracers (unless they use magical silence to block the sound from reaching the goblins, such as by casting silence, 15' radius across the mouth of the manticore's cave). If the goblins hear the PCs fighting the manticore, they send patrols over until eventually a large group of goblins and orcs surrounds the well, waiting to take on the winner of the fight.

* Attack. The PCs can try to kill or rout the goblins and orcs. This option is viable; after a few goblinoids die, both Kuttai and Gosluk think better of their rather shaky alliance and run away, leaving their former allies to their fate.

* Wait. This option does the PCs no good. The goblins wait, too until reinforcements show up, in the form of several hundred more goblins and orcs, with Balazar. When the horde shows, Balazar briefly prowls around the two temples, kills the manticore, recovers the bracers, and leads the horde to attack Saragón.

The Ruined Citadel

The Ruined Citadel.

The Traladaran ruin is the only one the goblins and orcs have yet explored. They are aware of the older ruins, but consider them useless. The goblinoids have made their camp within the scant shelter of the two remaining fortress walls while they explore those few chambers of the dungeon so far revealed.

While several goblins and orcs stand watch outside, a small group representing both Gosluk and Kuttai explores the dungeon chambers below. A few goblins and orcs rest inside the walls, and two Gosluk goblins guard a human prisoner.

Among the tumbled stones of the Traladaran ruin are worked blocks, some of which are carved with recognisably foreign designs. Any PC who makes a successful ancient history proficiency check identifies these marks as Oltec and knows that the Oltec civilisation fell thousands of years ago if it is not simply the stuff of legend, as some scholars argue. These blocks were taken from the Oltec ruin by the Traldar and placed in their own construction, probably for decoration.

When the PCs get close enough, they can see into the fortress through the wall, through the ancient gate, or over the top of the rubble, depending on the angle from which they approach. In any case, they can see a human is being held prisoner inside. If Miguel is with the PCs, he recognises Orlando, Maria's partner. Maria assumed Orlando died with the other members of their small scouting party, but the goblins actually knocked him unconscious and captured him. Note that Miguel insists on rescuing Orlando. As a romantic, Miguel has noticed that Maria and Orlando are smitten and believes they must be reunited for true love.

Patrol Quadrants

Both Gosluk and Kuttai goblins camp here, along with a unit of Kuttai orcs. The two tribes are currently allied, though lingering hatreds and suspicions remain. Fights between members of the two tribes are not uncommon, and to diminish the chances of a serious conflict, the unit chieftains have divided the area into four discrete patrol quadrants.

A: Gosluk Goblins. A walking patrol of four goblins surveys this area. These goblins are alert, but they pay more attention to the Kuttai goblins that patrol nearby, anxious to make sure the Kuttai do not receive some extra privilege that Gosluk do not. The goblins walk the perimeter of their open, grassy area, sometimes stopping to look back at the Kuttai.

B: Gosluk Goblins. A lone goblin stands guard here while his two companions sleep at his feet. PCs who can approach with stealth may be able to dispatch this lone guard quietly. In addition, the goblin's position cannot be observed from the ruins, which is why two of the guards are able to get away with sleeping.

C: Kuttai Goblins. A walking patrol of three goblins watches this area. These goblins walk close together, and patrol back and forth at the edge of their designated area. While the goblins are visible from the citadel and cannot be killed without raising an alarm, PCs might sneak by in some brush at the edge of the patrol area if they wait until the goblins are headed the other way. Of course, the Gosluk goblins in area A may see stealthy PCs if their mistrust leads them to look this way at the right moment.

D: Kuttai Orcs. Four orcs patrol this area. Each is stationed in a corner of the designated area, and every few minutes they all rotate to the next post, to insure they are all awake and alert. These orcs cannot be bypassed safely without great luck or magic.

Approaching the Ruined Fortress

The best way for PCs to approach the fortress is through area B, though Areas A and C have advantages as well. Area D cannot be penetrated by stealth alone. The party's best chance for success depends on their abilities; if they have several stealthy members, an approach through area A or C might be in order. If the party is unsubtle, their best bet might be to attack quickly, hoping to distract the goblins from attacking Orlando until he can be rescued.

The Remaining Tower

Kuttai orcs claimed the tower as their headquarters, and the Gosluk did not protest, since they had explored it earlier and found it boring. The tower is mostly featureless, and a collapsed upper level leaves it open to the sky.

The Dungeon Levels

In the remains of the citadel's second tower, the orcs found a hidden trap door that led down to the two sublevels. Rather than explore the levels themselves, the lazy orcs sent down a mixed party of Kuttai and Gosluk goblins. The goblins have been inside for about two hours and have not been heard from since they went in. There are two reasons for their silence.

First, the upper sublevel is 100 feet below ground and can be reached only by going through a twisted little passage; sound does not travel well through this narrow passage. Only one person can fit in the tiny tunnel at once. Goblins can fit rather comfortably, but orcs and humans would have difficulty moving in the tunnel.

Second, the goblins reached a long corridor below the surface with brick walls and a cobblestone floor. As the goblins advanced along this corridor, they began setting off a series of mechanical traps. Three goblins, a Gosluk and two Kuttai, lie dead. The other three goblins, one Kuttai and two Gosluks, stand or sit in the middle of the corridor, unsure what to do. When they tried to retreat back the way they came, another trap went off, injuring one of the remaining Gosluks. Now they are scared to move and are trying to think of a way out without setting off even more traps. The rivalry between the two tribes keeps these three goblins quiet; each hesitates to show weakness in front of the other tribe, such as howling for help from the surface.

If the PCs venture into the sublevels, their passage through the twisted corridor is uneventful and relatively easy, if slow. However, once the characters reach the deep corridor, they face two dangers: traps, and goblins. The goblins shout threats from the middle of the corridor, and heedless of the traps, rush to attack characters who come toward them. Use standard goblin statistics, except that one of them has only two hit points remaining.

Whenever someone moves in the corridor, whether walking, running, or manoeuvring to attack, a one in six chance exists of a trap going off. The corridor is loaded with several different types of trap, and most are self-loading and repeating. There are darts that shoot from the walls; blocks that drop from the ceiling; spikes that jut from the floor; blades that swing out of the wall; axe blades that swing like pendulums across the corridor; and any others the DM cares to add. A character who sets off a trap must make a successful saving throw vs. paralysation to avoid its effects or take 1d6 damage (regardless of the type of trap). While it might be possible for a thief to go through the corridor and disarm the traps, he would also have the goblins to worry about. At the DM's discretion, it might be possible for the PCs to negotiate a truce while one or more of them try to disarm traps but it is suggested that the DM just have some fun with traps going off throughout melee to liven things up a bit. If a thief does try to disarm the traps, 82 different mechanisms must be disabled.

If the characters make it through the corridor to reach the room at the end, they find the door easy to open. Inside is a treasure hoard guarded by a wight. The exact contents of the treasure hoard are up to the DM, but should be based on the wight's treasure type (B) and the needs of the campaign.

Wight (1): Int Average (9); AL LE; AC 5; MV 12; HD 4+3; hp 26; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4; SA energy drain; SD spell immunities, hit only by silver or magical weapons; SZ M; ML 14; XP 1,400.


The remaining "courtyard" is nothing more than the outline of the original walls with partial remains of two of those walls. Against the interior of one crumbling barrier lie the off-duty Gosluk goblins. Against the other wall, almost 40 feet away, two Gosluk goblins guard Orlando, who is tied hand and foot and leans propped against the cold stone wall. The goblins guarding Orlando pay little attention to him, only occasionally glancing in his direction, sometimes going for minutes without checking on him. Orlando's guards are more interested in playing knucklebones and keeping an eye on the Kuttai.

Rescuing Orlando

Fortunately for Orlando (and the PCs), rescuing him is not difficult for a careful and stealthy party. The goblins have foolishly placed him near a rather large hole in the wall, so after eliminating the one wakeful goblin in patrol area B, the PCs can climb up behind Orlando. Orlando is tied up but not closely guarded. (The perimeter guards are supposed to make sure he cannot escape.) As long as the PCs are quiet, they can release Orlando from his bindings with little trouble and spirit him away.

Orlando, Gaucho Ranger: AC 8 (leather); MV 12; 3rd-level ranger; hp 19 (6 at present); THAC0 18; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4 (dagger); AL CG; Str 17, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 12.

Equipment: leather armour. Orlando's other equipment (a wheellock pistol, bolas, and so forth) was taken by the goblinoids and is miles away.

Goblins (34): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6; MV 6; HD 1ñ1; hp 5 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each.

Goblins, leader's henchmen (5): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6; MV 6; HD 1ñ1; hp 7 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each.

Goblin leader (1): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6; MV 6; HD 1; hp 7; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15.

Wolf, Worg (39): Int Low; AL NE; AC 6; MV 18; HD 3+3; hp 14 each; THAC0 17; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ M; ML 11; XP 120 each.

Orcs (13): Int Average; AL LE; AC 6; MV 9 (12); HD 1; hp 6 each; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d8 (weapon); SZ M; ML 12; XP 15 each.

Orc Leader (1): Int Average; AL LE; AC 6; MV 9 (12); HD 1; hp 8; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d8 (weapon); SZ M; ML 12; XP 15.

Boar, Steppe (14): Int Animal; AL N; AC 6; MV 12; HD 5; hp 30 each; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ L; ML 10; XP 270.

The Oltec Temple

Oltec Ruins.

Far more ancient than the Traladaran fortress is this nearly-buried ruin of an ancient Oltec temple built in honour of some long-forgotten Immortal.

The ruins consist of a giant human head carved from stone and standing 15 feet tall; a small stone pyramid with steps up all sides and an open platform on top; and a deep "cenote," a natural well about 30 feet in diameter. The water in the well is several feet below the edge of the pit, and is only about 10 feet deep. A cave opening is exposed in one side of the cenote's wall. Climbing down the wall is not difficult if a rope is used; the side is smooth and a little wet, giving a thief or other character a ñ10% chance to climb down safely without a rope or climbing equipment.

The bracers are deep in the cavern, guarded by a manticore. This creature has declared the treasures of the cenote for its own, having discovered and claimed the lair about three months ago, so it will fight to the death. The rest of the treasure is left to the DM's discretion, based on the manticore's treasure type (E) and the requirements of the campaign. The manticore does not have any cinnabryl, red steel, or related materials.

Manticore (1): Int Low; AL LE; AC 4; MV 12, Fl 18 (E); HD 6+3; hp 34; THAC0 13; #AT 3; Dmg 1d3/1d3/1d8; SA poison; SZ H; ML 14; XP 975.

Escaping the Horde

While the PCs are dealing with the ruins and their inhabitants, a great horde of orcs and goblins approaches from the west. In addition, a sort of "advance horde" precedes the main body. Led by Balazar, this advance party should arrive at the ruins at about the time the PCs have decided to leave after recovering the bracers.

Ideally, after getting the bracers or defeating the goblins and orcs at the ruins (or some combination thereof), the PCs would exit one set of ruins. Looking to the west, they would see a few goblins, perhaps 20, come over a hill, causing the PCs to think something like "oh no, not again." Then they see more goblins come over; then a few more and a few more, until a wave of about 200 orcs and goblins comes over the hill and approaches the ruins. This should encourage the PCs to leave rather quickly; if they do, the horde pursues them all the way back to the border of Saragón, barely stopping to rest, always in sight.

Even if the PCs do not recover the bracers if they fail against the manticore or just delay too long, the advance hoard still arrives, and the PCs are still forced to flee. If they have not acquired the bracers, then Don Luis must hold back the horde with just the barrier mask. Of course, unless Miguel came with the PCs and was able to explain the connection between the bracers and the mask, the PCs may not realise how important the bracers really are.

At this point, the PCs can see Balazar as he approaches. If Miguel is with them, he relates the previous confrontation between Balazar and Don Luis. If one of the PCs is an Inheritor, that character stands a chance (based on an Intelligence check) of recognising Balazar as a renegade Inheritor.

If Miguel is with the group, he frowns and shakes his head when the hoard approaches. If asked what the problem is, he replies with something like, "I said the Gosluk were no problem, it was true. And the Kuttai, the same, no problem. Even when together, they can be defeated. Unless the Dankut join them. Well, those are Dankut. Three of the great nations have united and nothing can stand against them now." Miguel is right; Balazar has managed to unite the three tribes, at least temporarily. Despite his sudden depression, Miguel become just as abruptly enthusiastic if the PCs make any reasonable suggestion for dealing with the situation (such as rushing back to warn the baronet).

Goblins (134): Int Low; AL LE; AC 6; MV 6; HD 1ñ1; hp 4 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (by weapon); SZ S; ML 10; XP 15 each.

Wolf, Worg (134): Int Low; AL NE; AC 6; MV 18; HD 3+3; hp 18 each; THAC0 17; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ M; ML 11; XP 120 each.

Orcs (49): Int Average; AL LE; AC 6; MV 9 (12); HD 1; hp 6 each; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d8 (weapon); SZ M; ML 12; XP 15 each.

Boar, Steppe (49): Int Animal; AL N; AC 6; MV 12; HD 5; hp 30 each; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ L; ML 10; XP 270 each.

Option: The Noble Sacrifice

It is possible that at some point, realising their dire situation, one or more of the PCs may suggest staying behind to delay the horde or at least to serve as a distraction while the fastest PCs continues at top speed toward Saragón. If the players role-play such martyrdom well, the DM should give the player characters a break.

If the PCs think they can delay the horde simply by attacking the multitude, the goblinoids retaliate, and the PCs do not last long. If a PC tries to parley or challenges the leader to single combat, Balazar approaches and tries to capture the character. If a PC should happen to challenge Balazar to a duel or issue an Inheritor's Challenge, Balazar refuses and orders his goblins to take the PC prisoner. Balazar has lost his standing as an Inheritor and has never cared for the rules of duelling, so he feels no need to accept a challenge. If the PC or PCs allow it, they will be taken prisoner and brought along to Saragón for the climactic encounter.

The Barrier and the Horde

In this section, the PCs return to Saragón, pursued closely by the leading edge of the goblinoid horde. At this point, Balazar is leading his orcs only, and all 50 of them (Balazar and 49 orcs) are mounted on steppe boars giant, specially bred versions of the more mundane boars found elsewhere. The player characters should arrive less than an hour ahead of Balazar, giving Don Luis little time to discover how to use the bracers of forbiddance by deciphering the marks on them.

Once Don Luis figures out how to use the bracers of forbiddance in conjunction with the barrier mask, he puts them on and goes to the top of his central tower. From there, the baronet can see the approaching goblinoid horde and direct the magic of the artifacts at them. Unfortunately, while Don Luis is turning back the horde of thousands, Balazar slips through with his elite force, a force too small to be affected by the artifacts.

Whether he uses both the artifacts or only one, Don Luis is successful in turning back the main horde. However, the effort drains the baronet's energy, until he is so weak he can barely stand. It is at this time that Balazar launches an attack against Don Luis. While his elite orcs assault the castle, Balazar flies above the melee to attack the baronet directly. Miguel is busy leading the castle's defenders, so it is up to the PCs to save the baronet from certain death or worse.

Protecting the Realm

When the PCs reach the western border of Saragón, they are met by a small patrol that has brought fresh horses for them to ride for the last few miles; their own mounts are likely to be quite exhausted by now. The presence of the patrol means Manzanas has received reports from scouts and considers it vital that the PCs shave even a few minutes from their arrival time. The patrol encourages the PCs to hurry, wishes them luck, and then runs as far as they can to avoid the goblinoids themselves.

At Torre de Manzanas

When the PCs reach Torre de Manzanas, they see that it has been prepared for war. Before, markets were set up outside, and people were seen all around the castle. Now, all the commoners and merchants are inside the castle, and defenders can be seen at several points along the walls.

Don Luis meets the PCs at the gate when they ride up and asks immediately for the bracers. If the PCs do not have them, the baronet turns very grim and says, "Very well. We will do what we can." He then turns sharply and stalks back to his tower, leaving the PCs to their own devices. They are welcome to help the defenders of the castle, but Don Luis would not care if they simply left and never returned.

If the PCs have the bracers of forbiddance, Don Luis thanks them and praises their bravery and speed. He takes the bracers and goes into his tower, where he can use an ancient book to decipher the pictographs on the bracers and learn their precise function. If the PCs should try to hold out for more money or anything like that, the baronet will not shed a tear for the PCs when he orders his archers and pistoleers to shoot them down.

As Don Luis goes inside with the bracers of forbiddance, he offers the PCs the opportunity to rest they have certainly earned it or to help defend the castle walls. Either is acceptable, but hopefully the PCs are willing to aid in castle defence so they don't miss the climax of the adventure. Besides the baronet's full-time healer, who the PCs met before, Don Luis has also brought several clerics to the tower, and the PCs can receive any healing attention they need before the battle begins.

The PCs are welcome to help prepare castle defences and can choose their own posts if they desire. If they do not have a preference, Miguel asks them to guard the gatehouse, and to possibly be prepared for a counter-charge from the castle if it is needed.

Not long after Don Luis disappears into his tower, Balazar and the orcs arrive. If the characters have a good vantage point, the larger goblinoid horde can be seen in the far distance behind Balazar and the orcs.

Balazar's Return

During the next part of the adventure, the NPCs come to centre stage, but this should not keep the PCs from playing. If they want to jump in with an action at any time, the DM should improvise as needed to accommodate the players' actions.

Balazar slows as he approaches, and the orcs stop about a hundred yards from the castle gate. Balazar rides forward a little, and he throws back his cloak to reveal his hideous form.

If nothing has happened to Miguel, the stalwart dwarf calls out to Balazar, and the following conversation takes place:

Miguel: "Ah, Balazar, it is so good to see you. My pistol shot seems to have improved your looks. You are most handsome now."

Balazar: "Dwarf, you were less than me before, and you are still nothing. Go, dog, and tell your master that I am here."

Miguel: "Ah, well, the last time I did that, you followed me. I think perhaps I should wait here with you this time, but I will send someone to speak to Don Luis de Manzanas and ask him if he has time to look at some interesting garbage that has floated up to the castle."

Balazar: "Dwarf, I hate to admit it, but you did hurt me when I visited before, and for that you will die slowly after you watch me kill your beloved Lord of the Apples. I do have one thing to be thankful for, you know. At least when you shot me, I did not become as repulsive as you."

At about this time, Don Luis arrives, walking onto the top of his keep's central tower. The baronet is wearing the bracers of forbiddance (if he has them) and carries the barrier mask under one arm. The conversation continues.

Don Luis: "Balazar. I see that neither your beauty nor your attitude has improved since we last met. And you have allies. How is it that a proud Inheritor can sink to such depths?"

Balazar: "You should know, Apples. You selfishly kept me from your cinnabryl, saving it for your peasants. But after I have slain you, I will have your cinnabryl, as well as theirs."

Don Luis: "Balazar, you bore me. I do not know if there are still parts of the Inheritor's Code you have not broken, but you are certainly an Inheritor no longer. Nothing you can do will surprise me, and I am beyond being offended by you. Attack if you must, and we will end this."

With that, Don Luis dons the barrier mask and looks to the west, raising his arms slowly to the sky. Balazar waves his followers to attack, and the orcs charge forward on their war-boars to assault the castle walls. The baronet continues to concentrate on the distant goblinoid horde, and a brilliant flash of white light appears in the west; those looking in that direction can see the goblinoid horde come to a stop. If they continue to watch, they see panic spread through the goblinoid ranks; mounts rear up, and individuals begin turning and fleeing. The horde begins to turn, and in smaller clumps, the goblinoids head back to the west. Don Luis, in the meantime, slumps to his knees, drained. He pulls the barrier mask from his face, gasping, and falls forward a little, catching himself on one hand, while holding the barrier mask in the other. Balazar chooses this moment to attack the baronet.

Suddenly, Balazar unfolds great, batlike wings, having just activated his Fly Legacy. Balazar flies into the sky and toward Don Luis, who, in his weakened state, does not notice. Once he reaches a height of 30 yards or so, Balazar activates his Missile Legacy, firing three crimson missiles at the baronet. Don Luis cries out in pain and drops the mask. Balazar's laughter echoes over the battlefield, and he pulls two wheellock pistols from his belt and flies toward his foe. Since he no longer has to worry about their effect, Balazar has been practicing with the wheellocks, and he is obviously intending to use the smokepowder explosions to drain Don Luis' cinnabryl.

It is now time for the PCs to attain glory or suffer ignominious defeat. Miguel is too busy with the orcs to go to his aid, so it is up to the PCs to save the noble lord of Torre de Manzanas.

If the PCs have already started toward the tower and Don Luis, they can get there before Balazar, who is moving in slowly to savour the pain he is causing his enemy. If the PCs have not already started to move, they arrive after Balazar reaches Don Luis. Balazar, laughing, takes the baronet's cinnabryl talisman and tosses it aside. He then raises his wheellocks, but rather than pointing them at the lord, he just holds them nearby. If necessary to give the PCs a little more time to get there, Miguel uses his own Fly Legacy to fly to the tower after Balazar; but Miguel is no match for the former Inheritor and is soon severely injured.

Despite having his visible talisman removed, Don Luis is still wearing cinnabryl, on an ankle bracelet. He has enough cinnabryl in his "spare" to last for three weeks and two days; he can withstand proximity to three pistol shots before entering the Time of Loss and Change. Note that since Balazar is close to the defenceless lord, he can use his wheellocks to shoot the PCs and still drain Don Luis' cinnabryl.

What happens now is up to the PCs. However, it is strongly suggested that Balazar be allowed to live through the battle so he can become an enemy of the PCs and a long term villain for the campaign. Balazar's potential future plots should be most intriguing, and it would be a shame to lose such an interesting villain.

The Goblins

Don Luis successfully turned back the main horde of goblins and orcs attacking from the west. If he did so with only the barrier mask, the mask is now ruined; this could have serious repercussions for Saragón. If the baronet used both the barrier mask and the bracers of forbiddance, both items survive the encounter.

Those orcs who came through with Balazar fight tenaciously with the defenders of the castle. If Balazar dies, the orcs lose their confidence and run away.

In any case, after this debacle, the short-lived Alliance of Three Tribes comes to an end. The Gosluk, Kuttai, and all Dankut leave, quarrelling the whole way back.

Option: Noble Sacrifice, Part 2

Once again, it is possible that the PCs come up with a couple of ideas for meeting death head on. For example, one of them might suggest that he wear the barrier mask and the bracers of forbiddance, rather than Don Luis. Don Luis would be reluctant to try this but might be convinced with a good argument. For example, if the PCs suggest that Don Luis is needed to fight Balazar and that it is the baronet's right to kill Balazar, he might be convinced to let someone else don the mask and the bracers. The items can be used by anyone, but Don Luis allows only another Inheritor, someone of noble blood, or possibly a very patriotic Saragóner to use them.

Another possible sacrifice a PC could make is to give his cinnabryl to Don Luis to prevent the blasts of smokepowder from sending him into the Time of Loss and Change. A few minutes without cinnabryl (supplies can be readily replenished after the battle) does not cause harm to anyone. However, an Inheritor who gives up his cinnabryl to Don Luis runs the risk of being adversely affected by smokepowder explosions.

Rewards and Results

Assuming Don Luis lives and the goblinoids are driven away, the PCs get a reward. The PCs can, of course, keep any treasure they recovered from the Gosluk or the ruins. The rest of the PCs' reward depends on exactly what they did.

* If the PCs recovered the bracers, Don Luis rewards them with 5,000 gold pieces, transported in a finely carved chest depicting harvesters working industriously in rich orchards surrounding Torre de Manzanas. The chest is worth an additional 500 gold pieces if the PCs care to sell it.

* If the PCs rescued Orlando, Don Luis awards each PC an apple tree in his best orchard. The PC can have all the produce from that tree he desires and can rest in its shade at any time. In addition, the tree will be known by the adventurer's name (as in "Miguel's tree"), and the commoners will know the story of the PCs' valour.

* If the PCs helped Don Luis by fighting Balazar, the baronet rewards each of them with a red steel weapon.

* If an Inheritor PC killed Balazar, or if the PCs allowed Don Luis to deliver the final blow, the baronet rewards each PC with an eight-ounce talisman (not an amulet) of cinnabryl. The talisman is emblazoned with the crest of Saragón. Don Luis also asks each of the PCs to become associate members of the Order of Crimson.

Future Adventures

If the PCs succeeded in recovering the bracers of forbiddance, Don Luis may wish to reward them not only with treasure but also with continued employment. Don Luis could become a patron to the PCs, giving them a base of operations and a real purpose. Alternately, the baronet is willing to release Miguel from his service from time to time if the PCs wish to lure the swashbuckling dwarf away on an adventure farther from home.

Here are just a few ideas for creating new adventures near Saragón and La Pampa Rica:

* Don Luis is ordered to extend the borders of Saragón to the northwest, creating a greater buffer zone against the Yazak hordes. To this end, Don Luis commissions the PCs to recapture the lost Traladaran fortress and command a garrison to protect the place while it is rebuilt. The DM can easily expand into sublevels beneath the citadel, populating them with traps, treasure, and perhaps undead or subterranean monsters.

* The PCs may wish to explore around the Oltec temple for more treasures, including the intangible but highly regarded treasure of knowledge about the Oltec culture. Again, the DM can expand the temple ruins to include more levels, traps, monsters, and treasures. Some of the ancient Oltec relics may be worth huge sums to the nobles of Saragón, who are especially interested in ancient magical lore.

* The PCs might go on a quest to recover all the rest of the parts of the great artifact to which the barrier mask and the bracers of forbiddance belong. These would include sandals, a skirt, and a short cloak. The DM can determine what the different parts do, and what they might do if united.

* Though the great horde has been turned back, Gosluk continue to patrol La Pampa Rica and make occasional, small-scale incursions into the Savage Baronies. If the PCs patrol for goblinoids, they might find the smoking remains of a hunter's campsite, with a trail that indicates the marauding goblins entered Narvaez. If the PCs follow the trail into Narvaezan territory, they may prevent the destruction of a farmstead by defending it from the goblinoids. However, once discovered on Narvaezan soil, the PCs must parley carefully to avoid diplomatic disaster.

* If Balazar lives, he continues to plot. He might try again with the goblinoids, probably concentrating on the stronger hobgoblin nations of the central Yazaks. He might instead turn more directly to the baronies, perhaps seeking a cure for the Affliction and maybe showing up somewhere like Narvaez, where he makes a secret pact to help Barón Hugo against the Enlightened States (secret to hide Balazar's involvement and to hide Barón Hugo's commerce with an Inheritor). Another possibility is for Balazar to make a deal with Doomrider, the Inheritor lich of the Savage Baronies or even to eventually become an inheritor lich himself.

A Change of Focus

It is perfectly acceptable for the DM to change or expand this adventure. Two portions of the story have taken place without the PCs; both segments could be turned into side adventures that involve the player characters.

The first part of the story that went on without the PCs is the overall search for pieces of the Oltec artifact, the search that led to Maria's discovery of the ruins to the west. If the DM wants, the impending goblinoid invasion can be moved back several weeks or even months of game time. The PCs can search the countryside, having a wide variety of encounters, perhaps checking through several ruined Oltec sites. They might find clues in the sites that, when deciphered, lead them to the ruins described in this adventure. This mini-campaign would require that the PCs be told more about the nature of the quest, such as the existence of the several parts of the ancient Oltec artifact, so they know what they are trying to find.

While the PCs are visiting various ruins, most outside barony boundaries, they can notice increased goblinoid activity themselves, rather than simply being informed the goblinoids are building toward an invasion. The PCs can also witness an increasing brutality among the goblinoids and the slow start of the alliance between Gosluk and Kuttai. As the PCs report these things to Don Luis, he becomes more and more concerned. Finally, as things come to a head, the PCs are sent to meet another group of adventurers in Escudo, to discuss the search's progress. This meeting becomes the encounter with Maria. Now the PCs have a much greater involvement in the story.

A second direction for expansion is the quest to unify the baronies to face another horde of goblinoids. In "Divided We Fall," Don Luis has already failed this quest; in an expanded adventure, the PCs could have a go at it, travelling to the various baronies to negotiate some sort of defensive pact or simply to convince other heads of state of the threat. The reactions of the other Baronial leaders would vary widely.

The leaders of Gargoña and Almarrón are initially well-disposed toward Saragón; despite some natural resistance because they feel safe behind Saragón, they are likely to commit soldiers or advisers. Likewise, Guadalante and Cimmaron are friendly with Saragón; they would not hesitate to commit cavalry units if the existence of a threat were proven to them. Torreón wants any alliance to pay for the participation of its mercenaries. Narvaez is perfectly happy to let the Enlightened States be overrun by goblinoids and so would ally only if it saw proof that goblinoids threatened it directly. The Sea Powers have little commitment to an inland war, but they would likely join in if several of the other baronies do.

The two missions could be combined as well, so that while the PCs visit the different baronies, they also search through local Oltec sites and talk to sages. This variant might also lead to a completely different adventure ending. Logically, if the baronies discover that someone is manipulating the goblinoids, they'll hire a group of brave adventurers to find and kill the behind-the-scenes leader. Most likely this assignment pushes the PCs into a confrontation with Balazar long before he returns to the Savage Baronies.

Torre De Manzanas

Torre de Manzanas (the Tower of Manzanas) is a high citadel, consisting of a central tower shielded by two defensive walls. It is all new construction except for the central tower. Its name refers particularly to the central tower, but people speak of the whole citadel as the Tower of Manzanas.

The citadel serves as refuge for all the local villages in time of war, but it also provides a base for all the patrols along the northwestern border of Saragón. Those few merchant caravans which travel so far west use the tower as a layover, opening their wares for sale to the local residents when they come.

Don Luis administers justice from his great hall, passing judgment on anyone below the rank of nobility. Any case in which a noble stands accused of a crime must be deferred to the court of Ciudad Matacán and the judgement of Barón Balthazar.

See the accompanying map for the layout of the Torre de Manzanas.

1. Towers

On the eastern towers crouch large catapults, each with plenty of large stones. Ballistae, generally aimed at the outer bailey, are found on the western towers, along with several ballista bolts. Additional ammunition and other defensive equipment such as arrows, bolts, and flammable oil are stored in the lower level of each tower.

2. Walls

The brown stone outer walls of the citadel are 15 feet tall and 10 feet thick. They stand upon a hard earthen palisade reinforced with mortared stone, so the total height of this outer defence reaches 25 feet from the surface of the filled moat, 35 feet from the bottom.

3. Moat

Don Luis' grounds servants are especially careful to keep the moat clean of algae and other growth, draining the moat once every two or three years in order to remove the weeds that thrust between the stones lining its sides and bottom. An area 15 feet beyond the outer edge of the moat is kept clear of grass and other foliage, and the groundskeepers have spread a rough gravel over this margin.

These precautions do not mean that Don Luis is preoccupied with the aesthetic appeal of the moat. Instead, they allow the defenders of the citadel secretly to release flammable oil into the moat when under siege. When invaders come close enough to set ladders and rams, the defenders need only drop lit torches into the moat to create a sudden, temporary ring of fire around the citadel without fear of starting a grassfire.

4. Gatehouse

The outer gate is an iron-bound wooden drawbridge. Its lower (outer) side is covered in red hide from fire lizards, highly resistant to flame. Behind the drawbridge stands an iron portcullis, the gate proper, and then a second pair of doors, also iron-bound and secured with three heavy bolts when closed.

The gatehouse boasts a very special defence: a unit of soldiers with wheellock pistols. Since the lord of this citadel is an Inheritor, however, the soldiers are especially careful with these weapons. In fact, it is forbidden to practice with them when Don Luis is in residence (which is most of the time). Even during an active defence of the citadel, the sergeant in charge of the pistoleer unit must be sure that Don Luis or any Inheritor guest of the citadel is not nearby when the soldiers fire their weapons.

5. Outer Bailey

The outer bailey is usually free of flammable constructions, except for the tents and awnings of the little market each morning.

6. Barracks

Stucco walls, square windows, and red-tiled roofs are the simple extent of these structures. The interiors are only somewhat less utilitarian, as officers have their own small rooms and the soldiers share a long dormitory of bunks and footlockers interrupted by an occasional table for games and conversation. Only a few soldiers (the night watch) will be found here sleeping during the day, except during the hour after high noon, when the two shifts of the day watch take turns for a brief siesta.

7. Drill Field

Here is where the soldiers engage in marching, weapons drills, and archery practice. Sometimes targets are set against one wall, backed by thick bales of hay to prevent the arrows from passing through the targets and breaking on the stone. These bales are always removed immediately after practice and returned to the stables in the inner bailey.

8. Jaques

The location of these latrines changes over the course of the year. Every two months, soldiers dig another pit and move the wooden structure to its new location, dredging and filling in the previous pit. This work is given to soldiers who have earned their officers' displeasure.

9. Little Market

Every morning some of the local farmers, vintners, crafters, bakers, butchers, and tinkers travel to Torre de Manzanas to set up stalls in the outer bailey. Many visit just once or twice each week, but on any given day, the market offers most common goods and produce. Soldiers and other residents of the citadel supplement their diets with treats and special meals bought from the little market.

10. Inner Bailey

Even more secure than the outer bailey, this area houses servants, artisans, garrison captains, and Don Luis himself.

11. Stables

Large and utilitarian, this building consists mostly of wood but has a stone foundation and a tiled roof. All of the castle's horses are stabled here, though usually half to three-quarters are out on extended patrol at any one time. The stablemaster is a woman named Estelle, and though she is not a soldier, she carries herself in a curt and military manner. Upon meeting Estelle or any of her assistants, rangers and PCs with the animal handling proficiency will feel comfortable turning over their mounts to the stable hands.

12. Craft Hall

A huge area cluttered with worktables, shelves, cabinets, and a myriad different tools, this hall serves as home and workplace to the crafters of the citadel. A shoemaker, an armourer, two potters, a tinsmith, a woodcarver, and half a dozen other artisans all labour for Don Luis and the garrison. One day each week the artisans devote to themselves, creating goods they can then sell at the little market for cash or trade.

13. Orchards

These are the main orchards that give this district its name ("manzanas" means "apples"). Of all the orchards in the nearby countryside (such as in Escudo and several other hamlets), these orchards are said to produce the best fruit.

14. Central Tower

This construction houses many of the essential components of the castle, and is Don Luis' home. The first structure built on the site, this was the original Torre de Manzanas, which has served Don Luis' family for four generations.

This edifice stands about 70 feet tall, plus the wall surrounding the roof. The interior is divided into four stories. The central tower holds the rest of the areas described here.

15. Storage

These rooms vary from fully-stocked pantries to unused armouries. The DM should feel free to give these rooms greater detail if the PCs feel the need to snoop about the citadel.

16. Great Hall

All meals are served in this large hall, which also passes as the court and main audience chamber for Lord Manzanas. The ceiling is 25 feet above the floor of the lower great hall.

16a. Lower Great Hall

This area is crowded twice each day with soldiers and servants, who come to the great hall for their meals. The lower chamber is comfortable but rather plain, except for during festivals and celebrations. Sweeping stairways lead to the upper great hall and on up to the second floor.

16b. Upper Great Hall

Its floor 15 feet above the floor of the lower great hall, the upper chamber is reserved for officers and guests, all seated within 20 feet of the lord's own table.

During celebrations, such as the one Don Luis threw to commemorate the reopening of his tower, musicians are seated in the northern part of this chamber. One of the possessions of which Luis is rather proud is the harpsichord in this area. No more than a half-dozen harpsichords exist in the Savage Baronies (a notable example being the one used to entertain people in the Red Steel Saloon in Smokestone City, Cimmaron). Don Luis takes good care of this beautiful instrument, which is said to be the finest on the entire Savage Coast (though certain Renardois would disagree).

17. Kitchen

Three huge ovens and one tremendous central stove dominate this room. Preparation tables, banks of pots and skillets, cutlery racks, and shelves for tableware fill much of the rest of the room. At any time of day, three or four cooks are busy baking bread or preparing dishes to be cooked later in the day. A few hours before dinner and again before supper, the room is crowded with cooks and other servants who prepare, serve, and clean up after meals for all of the tower's residents and all the barracks' soldiers.

18. Inner Hall

When Don Luis wishes to give a private audience or to confer with his officers, this is the room he uses. It is comfortable and well appointed with rich oak and leather furniture, fine oil paintings in frames of silver, and a candelabra which reflects a canopy of stars against the dark ceiling.

19. Bedrooms

Varying in size and luxury, these rooms range from simple dormitories, which house commoners during times of war, to sumptuous chambers fit for the most pampered of noble visitors. The DM should feel free to elaborate on the description of these rooms if the PCs have cause to explore them.

20. Lord's Rooms

Don Luis de Manzanas is not unsociable, but he does enjoy his privacy; little would it surprise those who know him that he keeps his personal rooms away from those of his servants and guests.

20a. Bedroom

Don Luis enjoys creature comforts as much as any man, but he confines almost all of his to this room. Part bedchamber, part library, part office, this large area is where the baronet spends most of his time each day. His officers are permitted to interrupt him here, though none but the most intimate and trusted of visitors are invited within.

20b. Secret Vault

It is here that Don Luis keeps the careta de la barrera, resting on a pedestal in a central position of honour. The baronet also keeps his red steel and cinnabryl in this room, as well as some of his other prized possessions. A secret door behind the mask's pedestal leads to a stairway rising up to the roof of the tower.

Non-Player Characters

Don Luis de Manzanas

12th-Level Male Human Inheritor Fighter

Strength 15

Dexterity 12

Constitution 12

Intelligence 14

Wisdom 15

Charisma 17

Hit Points: 72

AC: 5 (chain mail)

Rear AC: 5

Unadjusted THAC0: 9

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 188

Hair/Eyes: reddish black/reddish brown

Skin: dark, ruddy

Age: 37

Alignment: neutral good

Weapon Proficiencies: rapier (specialised), bolas, main-gauche, two-weapon style specialisation, two-handed sword, long sword.

Non-weapon Proficiencies: redsmithing, weaponsmithing, legacy lore, reading/writing (common), military tactics.

Languages: common, Espa (native language), Verdan, Renardois.

Secret Passes (Dominguez School): Torreóner Two-Step (Basic), Swift Sting (Basic), Kiss of Steel (Difficult), Two-Handed Farewell (Difficult), Torreóner Block and Strike (Master).

Legacies: Webcasting, Crimson Fire, Missile, Reflect, Armour, Detonate

Quote: "Our place is to protect the people and the land from those who would harm them. It is our privilege and our honour."

Description: The baronet is a virile man who stays physically fit, though his hair shows a little grey at the temples. Because of his long association with the Red Curse, Don Luis has red skin and hair, and his eyes glow red; even his teeth have acquired a slight red tinge.

Don Luis has accomplished a great deal for a man his age. Just over a decade ago, he led a group of adventurers to the conclusion of an epic quest that took them across the Savage Coast. Most of them had spent enough time in cursed lands to acquire a Legacy, and they were some of the earliest people to use cinnabryl with regularity.

During their long quest, the group had discovered a set of notes that hinted at hitherto unknown properties of cinnabryl and vermeil. The adventurers hired an alchemist and commissioned him to research the notes and find a way to use the substances to attain greater power. At the same time, the 11 adventurers worked with other portions of the manuscript, training their minds and bodies to accept more of the power of the curse, to turn it into something beneficial. After a year of research and experimentation, the alchemist came up with the first vials of crimson essence. One of Luis' companions volunteered to test the potion, and in drinking it, she became the first Inheritor. One by one, the others tried the potion, and one by one they gained additional Legacies.

As the next two years passed and the group continued to adventure, they continued to learn about their powers. They also began to grow apart; some belonged to the Brotherhood of Order, and some to the Friends of Freedom. The Inheritors began to rise through the ranks of those organisations; Luis and a couple of other Inheritors, including one named Audra, joined the Neutral Alliance in an effort to balance the power of the Inheritors devoted to law and chaos. Each of the three aligned organisations stood on the brink of destruction at that time, with flagging membership and a loss of enthusiasm.

The Inheritors gave the groups new vitality, allowing other members of the three groups to become Inheritors as well. Eventually, Inheritors were in charge of all three groups, and the situation between the groups was becoming untenable, with new frictions generated every day. Eventually, the Inheritors of the three groups all agreed to meet; this was the first Grand Conclave, and it was there that the Code of the Inheritor was written down. Luis was instrumental in the growth of the Order of Crimson but soon retired to a less active role in the organisation so that he could devote time to his homeland. His friend Audra the Masked, the current leader of the Order of Crimson, lives in Saragón.

During his adventures, Luis had become friends with an old wizard named Balthazar, the baron of Saragón. When the seat of baronet of Aranjuez came open, Barón Balthazar asked Luis to fill it. He agreed and has served faithfully as adviser to the baron for the last five years. Luis has been a good adviser to the baron and a good defender of the realm of Saragón.

Always one of the first to offer to protect Saragón, Don Luis has distinguished himself several times. Now, Barón Balthazar has entrusted the safety of the nation to the baronet in the form of the barrier mask.

Igor Balazar

9th-Level Male Human Inheritor Fighter

Strength 17

Dexterity 8

Constitution 7

Intelligence 9

Wisdom 4

Charisma 5

Hit Points: 61

AC: 4 (bracers of defence, AC 4)

Rear AC: 10

Unadjusted THAC0: 12

Height: 7'6"

Weight: 388

Hair/Eyes: crimson/blood red (has a third eye)

Skin: pale, blotched, inflamed

Age: 26

Alignment: chaotic evil

Weapon Proficiencies: long sword (specialised), harpoon, morning star, battle axe, footman's pick, wheellock pistol.

Non-weapon Proficiencies: redsmithing, weaponsmithing, legacy lore, curse lore, ancient history

Languages: common, Slagich (native language), Yazakan, Herathan. Before becoming Afflicted, Balazar knew elvish, Espa, Rakastan, and Nimmurian.

Legacies: Acid Touch, Missile, Strength, Fly, Find

Quote: "If I want something, it is mine. Who are you to keep it from me?"

Description: Balazar is from Hojah, one of the City-States on the eastern side of the Gulf of Hule. Rumoured to be part Hulean, Balazar was abandoned as a child in the streets of Hojah. He learned to take care of himself by taking what he needed, and he made himself strong enough to do just that. The ever-ambitious Balazar journeyed to the Savage Baronies when he was quite young. There, he was affected by the Red Curse but managed to acquire some cinnabryl to curb the effects by murdering a merchant and stealing his cinnabryl.

Not long afterward, Balazar met a man called Lord Flame. An infamous Inheritor, Lord Flame saw a kindred spirit in Balazar and convinced him to join the Order of Inheritors, specifically Lord Flame's own order, the Order of the Flame. Convincing Balazar was easy, for he saw the way of the Inheritor as a path to power.

At first, Balazar followed the Code of the Orders of the Inheritors; after a while, though, he tired of simply lording his power over others. He wanted more. Balazar joined a group of adventurers who went to attack Doomrider, one of the Inheritor liches. Balazar wanted knowledge from the lich and thought that joining a knowledgeable adventuring party, in the guise of helping them in their task, would be the way to go about it. Eventually, the adventurers met Doomrider and the lich's servants, a pack of cursed ones. The adventurers never got close to Doomrider, and Balazar was unable to get close enough to pledge his fealty to the lich before Doomrider had left the adventurers to suffer at the touch of the cursed ones.

The other adventurers died, but Balazar managed to last until sunrise, when he escaped. However, most of his cinnabryl had been depleted by the cursed ones. Desperate, Balazar approached the first person he saw to asked where he was and where he could find cinnabryl fast!

The other traveller informed Balazar that he was near Torre de Manzanas, home of an Inheritor in fact, Don Luis was throwing a party that very night. Growing more desperate by the minute, Balazar went to Torre de Manzanas and demanded cinnabryl from Don Luis. The baronet refused, and driven over the edge, Balazar lashed out, breaking the most important Inheritors' Code: He attacked another Inheritor in his own home. He would be declared an outcast and a renegade; he would be hunted by all Inheritors.

To protect his lord, Don Luis' dwarven assistant shot Balazar at close range. The proximity of the smokepowder explosion consumed what little cinnabryl Balazar still had, and it transformed him into something no longer quite human. Swearing revenge, Balazar burst through a window and disappeared into the night.

After spending a lot of time away from civilisation, including some in a deep cave, Balazar concluded that he could use his transformation to make Don Luis pay for what had happened. Balazar went into the Yazak Steppes and became the leader of a tribe.

Because of his rapid transformation into an Afflicted, Balazar looks truly hideous. Because of Strength, he is larger than normal, with one exceedingly large arm and muscles bulging in random places. From his Fly Legacy, he has batlike wings; from Missile, he acquired long, tubelike fingers. Due to the Find Legacy, he has a third eye, located on an eyestalk on his forehead and a slightly forked tongue. Because of Acid Touch, he constantly drools a brownish and slightly acidic liquid.