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by Rodger Burns

Not quite dead here, though I'm kinda worried by the lack of response. I've got more material, but if this isn't interesting to anyone I won't waste the bandwidth.

3. Goat Stampede
The first two days of the journey south into the foothills of the Wendarian Range will be uneventful. The Walkers know that the spirit that threatens Wendar travels invisibly by day, and is only vulnerable at night when it takes corporeal form; once the party gets close to the southern border it will be necessary to travel at night to have a hope of attacking the undead creature, but for the moment such matters are unnecessary.

The oards, however, do not intend to allow the PCs to so easily counter their plans. While they don’t have the resources to set up another bioengineered monster attack, they will try to distract and harass the party indirectly. The first such disruption comes as the PCs make camp one evening atop a fairly rugged and defensible hill. There are no signs of immediate danger – until a series of fiery blasts and thunderclaps, one echoing every few seconds over the space of about half a minute, erupts from over the eastern horizon. Whether the PCs investigate or not, within the space of a few minutes a panicked herd of several dozen wild mountain goats will come stampeding towards the PCs’ campsite.

Quick action by the PCs can avoid danger in this instance. A well-placed wall of stone or similar spell can turn aside the goats’ stampede, and display of fireballs or similar offensive magic may cause the herd to avoid the PCs (roll a morale check for the goat herd – base 7 if the spells are detonated ahead of their path to scare or warn off, base 9 if the spells are targeted directly on the goats as this merely reinforces their terror – note that use of a wand of fear will automatically succeed, without need for a morale check). Characters who are airborne will also be unharmed, though anything they leave groundside is at risk.

If the goat herd is not warned off somehow, anyone still in its path must make three successive saving throws versus Wands. If one of these saves is failed, the character gets head-butted by a goat for 1d4 damage. If two saves are failed, the character gets head-butted by a goat for 1d4 damage, and also knocked down the wrong side of the hill, taking an extra 3d6 damage on the way down. If all three saves are failed, the character is stampeded by the larger part of the goat herd, taking 8d6 damage and suffering a –1 penalty to hit and AC and a –2 penalty to ability checks and General Skill checks for the next 1d4 days due to general bruising and muscle damage. A cure serious wounds spell will negate these penalties, but if so employed will not heal any hit point damage.

Regardless of the fate of the PCs themselves, if the goat herd is not diverted the PCs’ camp will be wrecked. Fully half the party’s horses and other pack animals will be lost – some injured, others torn loose of their halters and vanished into the wilderness – and any camping gear, foodstuffs and other supplies set up in the open will be lost. If the PCs investigate the source of the thunderclaps and explosions, they will find large expanses of blackened and smouldering stone, peppered with red-hot fragments of an odd metal of an alloy unknown to the PCs – but the oards themselves will be long gone.

4. Hermit’s Hut
As the PCs move farther into the foothills of the Wendarian Range, traces of civilisation become fewer and farther between. Trails are more likely to be made by the passage of wild animals than by human tools, rivers must be forded and defiles must be jumped, and similar. As a result, it’s likely a welcome surprise when the PCs find an intact and inhabited dwelling at the edge of a highland clearing, tucked into the leeward side of a small hill.

This homestead appears to be the residence of a married couple of late middle age, dressed in serviceable homespun clothes and seemingly possessed of no great wealth. They will invite the party inside, inquire as to their health and purpose, and feed them a meal of stew (filling but incredibly bland) if the PCs desire. These two individuals are actually oard infiltrators, disguised via use of their image amulet technology, who are attempting to spy on the party and use deceit and trickery to dissuade them from encountering the odic.

Oard Infiltrators (2): AC 0; HD 6+3****; hp 34, 31; #AT 3 (ray glove); Dmg 2-7/2-7/2-7; MV 120’ (40’, fly 60’ (20’); Save D10; ML 10; Int 15; AL L; SA ray glove (strikes against base AC 9 + magic and dex, ignoring armour); SD eschaonic dodge, protection belt, resistance to mental attacks; XPV 1550

The oards will not attempt to use violence against the PCs except as a last resort – they know they are no match for a group of experienced, well-armed adventurers in direct combat. Instead, they will attempt to lie to the party and prey on their trust – suggesting that the odic is not in the area or possibly does not even exist, encouraging the PCs to question the Walkers’ motives and trying to stir up conflict between those present. If their intentions are discovered, they will attempt to retreat from the cabin and into the surrounding woods; if they manage to break contact with the party they will not be seen again.

Hidden in a cellar beneath the cabin is a chest made out of a strange metal, securely locked and unbreakable by the PCs. The lock is a strange mechanism unfamiliar to any character (-50% to Open Locks checks) and linked to a strange magical trap that, if a knock is cast upon it, will drain half the spells memorised of the caster. Spells lost in this way can be re-memorised as usual. Inside the chest is a mix of 8,000 silver pieces and 2,000 platinum pieces.

5. Ghoul Attack
This encounter occurs while the PCs are travelling, while they are still one day away from the Glantrian border. A small pack of ghouls, which normally lurk within a ruined outpost and tomb in a forgotten corner of the Wendarian foothills, has recently been awakened by the odic and converted into its pawns. They will come at the PCs from all sides, spread out loosely and attempting to cut lightly-armed characters away from the rest of the party to take down.

Ghouls (16): AC 6, HD 2*, hp 11, #AT 2 claws/1 bite; Dmg 1-3/1-3/1-3 + paralysis; MV 90’ (30’); Save F2; ML 9; Int 3; AL C; SA attacks paralyse for 2d4 turns; SD immune to sleep, charm, and hold, turn as Spirit; XPV 25

Aside from the ghouls’ unusual tactics and resistance to Turning (a result of their domination by the odic, as their liege) this is a fairly standard encounter. The presence of the ghouls is a sign that the party is getting close to their enemy. One of the ghouls wears an odd armband, encrusted with mud and filth; but if this is carefully examined and cleansed, fine platinum engraving is discovered beneath. The armband has a total value of 2,000 gp.

6. Rockslide Ambush
As the PCs approach the Glantrian border, the oards attempt once again to delay their progress. Their next attack comes as the trail passes through a deep, sheer-sided canyon, with walls nearly fifty feet high. One side has been mined by the oards to explode as the party passes underneath it, sending a cascade of boulders, choking dust and scree down upon the PCs.

The rockslide will last for one minute (six combat rounds). In the first round of the avalanche, each character must make a Saving Throw versus paralysis, with a penalty based on the character’s move speed: -4 if moving at 120’, -6 if moving at 90’, and –8 if moving at 60’. Characters mounted on horseback or otherwise able to move at a speed of 180’ or faster take no penalty on their saving throw. Failure of this save results in no immediate damage, but does trap the character in place for the duration of the rockslide, and for 1-4 hours afterwards.

In addition to the above hazard, any character who remains within the path of the rockslide, whether by necessity or choice, has a chance of being struck by stinging gravel or rocks. Characters wearing chain mail or better have a 3 in 6 chance per round of being attacked; characters in leather or scale have a 4 in 6 chance per round; unarmoured characters have a 5 in 6 chance per round. Each such attack is rolled as if delivered by an 8 HD creature, and inflicts 3d12 damage.

7. The Final Battle
Eventually the PCs will finally cross paths with the odic. Exactly where this occurs depends on how fast the PCs have moved and how much distraction the oards have caused. If the PCs moved rapidly southwards, they may manage to cross into the Glantrian mountains to confront the odic; if they have been sizeably delayed the odic may be well within the borders of Wendar. As the adventure started, the party was about 250 miles north-northeast of the odic’s position; the spirit moves northwards at a rate of 24 miles a day.

The exact circumstances of the battle against the odic will depend somewhat on the tactics adopted by the characters; they may choose to track and harass it over a period of days, though this is dangerous due to its ability to travel stealthily and at high speeds during the day and the chance that it will wreak havoc upon the innocents of Wendar should it break into civilised lands. More likely they will attempt to engage the odic as soon as they meet with it – but they will not find it an easy battle.

Odic: AC –4; HD 16****; hp 77; #AT 1; Dmg 1d12+poison or 1d4+poison; MV 3’ (1’); Save F16; ML 12; Int 12; AL C; SA poison touch (save vs. poison or die), presence spoils potions and holy water within 30’ (no save), aura causes 1 level energy drain within 20’ (save vs spells negates), leaves surprise (90%) and charm (save vs spells negates), thorn shower 3/day (1d4 damage + poison, 20’ range), spellcasting (animate dead, cause disease, darkness, finger of death, silence 15’ radius, all at will, as C16); SD +2 or better weapon to hit, immune to 1st-3rd level spells; immune to sleep, charm and hold; XPV 6,250

The odic’s animated leaves (as per the monster description, RC 207) will be the first challenge the characters face; they are 50% likely to encounter 1-3 of these leaves as they approach, meeting them 100 yards away from the creature. As the party draws closer to the spirit, they will discover another danger – the odic has possessed the body of an archer bush (Creature Catalogue 50) and another dozen of these plantlike monsters surround it, each at a distance of 40’ to 60’. Moreover, oard interference has cloaked four of the normal archer bushes in a glow of the same violet hue as that radiated by the oard.

Archer Bushes (12): AC 7; HD 2; hp 8 each; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4; MV 3’ (1’); Save F1; ML 12; Int 0; AL C; XPV 20 each

The glow set by the oards is such that the odic cannot immediately be distinguished from the monsters around it, though the archer bushes’ low hit dice and lack of immunities may make this quickly apparent. If the odic discovers that it is overmatched it may decide to use its darkness ability on itself to cover its aura, and quietly retreat; the archer bushes will fight to the death. Half-buried beneath the roots of one of the archer bushes is a spindle-cut sapphire gem, worth 5,000 gp.