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Into the Hills

by Bill Manley

Adventure for AD&D, Mystara Setting
for three or more first level adventurers By: Bill Manley

The hills around Wilmik have always been dangerous. Villagers who find themselves outside the walled communities at night are usually never found again. Gnolls, a terrifying cross bred of man and hyena, hunt the hills at night. Attacks on walled villages are rare, but homesteads and unprotected village people are common. The villagers have tried to hunt down and destroy the Gnolls, but have been unable to locate their lairs. The Gnolls avoid heavily armed patrols and attack only vulnerable targets. But the gnolls have depleted the countryside of all other food supplies, attacks on human settlements are on the rise.

The PCs enter Wilmik with the intent of hunting Gnoll lairs. The local Jarl has offered 500 pieces of gold for the location of a Gnoll lair and 500 more for the chieftains head, he will also give 1 GP for every gnoll head brought to him. The players prepare themselves for an expedition into the hills of Gnollheim. They should equip themselves for at least two weeks of camping and hiking in the forested hills. They should also expect nightly attacks from gnolls. The characters should have tracking and survival skills.

First part:

If the PCs have pack mules or horses, this was a mistake. The gnolls will pick up the sent of the animals quickly and will ambush the PCs where ever they go. eventually the PCs will be on foot with gnolls nipping at their heels as they run back to Wilmik. Every few hours the PCs travel, they should make a tracking check to find gnoll tracks or paths. Due to the increased activity of the gnolls, players get a +3 to their tracking rolls.

Once they make a successful tracking check, they follow the trail into the night. their first encounter will occur on the first with a raiding party if the PCs have pack animals. if not, then a d20 is rolled. A -5 modifier is applied if the PCs have had (or have) a campfire burning.

Base Encounter check (d20 every night)

1 Gnoll raiding party with leader (normal initiative rules)
2-5 Gnoll patrol ambushes
6-15 PCs spot gnoll patrol
16-20 no encounter

Gnoll Raiding Party
# appearing: 10
HP: 8
AC: 5
THAC0: 19
Damage: 2d4 (Battle Axe), 1d6 (bow)
Moral: 11
# attacks 1/round

Gnoll leader
# appearing: 1
HP: 16
AC: 5
THAC0: 18
Damage: 2d4+1 (Battle Axe)
Moral: 11
# attacks 1/round

Gnoll Patrol:
# appearing: 3
HP: 5
AC: 5
THAC0: 19
Damage: 2d4 (Battle Axe), 1d6 (bow)
Moral: 11
# attacks 1/round

If the PCs are ambushed, the gnolls will attempt to kill any pack animals with arrows, then attack the PCs. If no animals are present, the gnolls will attack with arrows for two rounds then rush the PCs. If the battle lasts for more than 7 total rounds, the Gnolls will retreat to gather more help. 1d4 turns later, they PCs will be ambushed again by 1d10 more gnolls. If the PCs retreat to Wilmik, they can re-equip and try again when they are ready.

If the PCs ambush the gnoll party they shouldn't have too much trouble taking care of them. if the battle lasts for more than 5 rounds, the gnolls must make moral checks or flee. If the gnolls flee, the PCs might be able to track them back to their lairs. If this happens see To the lair below. If the PCs kill all the gnolls, they find nothing on them of value or any evidence to finding their lair. If the PCs fail to hide the bodies, other gnoll hunting parties gain a -3 bonus when the PCs check for encounters at night. After all the gnolls are killed, the PCs continue to track the gnolls, see Second part below.

Second part:

While the PCs are hunting gnolls, they will also have to contend with following the trail. If the PCs have survival skills they shouldn't get lost, but in order to report the location of any found lairs, they need to know how to get back to where they are. Making a survival check twice a day the PCs will be able to locate where they are, but failing one chance gives them a 10% chance of losing the trail each day. If they are ambushed and forced to flee, they must make survival checks with a -3 modifier or gain a additional +10% chance of losing the trail for each ambush. When the PCs decide to return to Wilmik, they must follow their trail back. Add up all their failed chances and roll percentile dice, rolling below the % means the PCs will be unable follow the trail back to the lair, or where ever they were when they left the hills. If the PCs trail check fails, they must make a survival check with a -5 penalty or get lost. Every night they spend in the wild, they must make encounter checks for gnoll patrols.

To the lair:

After the PCs have encountered 3 patrols, or are returning to this point using their trail map, their next gnoll encounter should be somewhere near the Angesan river. If the PCs are following a gnoll back to his lair, they run into this next patrol. This patrol will have 5 gnolls in the party, one will flee as soon as the PCs are spotted. The remaining gnolls will fight until reinforcements arrive in 10 rounds. If the PCs take longer than 10 rounds to kill the other gnolls, there will be 10 guards rushing down the trail at them. If the PCs manage to eliminate the gnolls within the 10 rounds, they'll be able to hide when the guards come to investigate. From here, they have a 20% chance of being spotted by the gnolls, if this happens, the PCs will be forced to fight. If the chance fails, the PCs get away. The gnolls will pick up of their trail by nightfall and attack if they catch up with the PCs.

If the PCs elude the gnoll patrol, they may wish to enter the lair now, see Into the lair below. if not, keep reading.

The PCs will need to retreat from the area quickly while covering their trail. If they have tracking skills, they can make a tracking check to cover their trail. make the check, if the check succeeds add the difference to the encounter check each turn after getting away. If the check fails, subtract the difference from the encounter check each turn. Bonuses and penalties are cumulative. If the PCs do not encounter any gnolls after the first night, they get away without a fight.

Encounter Check (d20)

1-10 Gnoll search party ambushes
11-15 PCs spot gnoll search party
16-20 No encounter

The PCs will have to fight 5 gnolls to the death if encountered. 1 gnoll will arrive every 5 rounds while the battle ensues to a limit of 10 total gnolls. once the gnolls are killed, the PCs can return to Wilmik without further encounters. See Return to Wilmik, once the PCs arrive.

Return to Wilmik:

If the PCs return with the location of the gnoll lair, the Jarl will send scouts out with the PCs trail map to confirm its location. when the scouts return, they can claim any rewards they are entitled to. If the PCs haven't taken the chieftains head yet, they may return with the Jarls men to raid the lair. See Into the lair, below.

Into the lair:

Should the PCs decide to enter the lair, they will have to get past the 4 gnoll guards at the entrance. the entrance is a 3 foot wide, 6 foot tall crack in the ground that leads down 20 feet into a large cavern. this cavern has garbage and bones scattered all about, it is used as a garbage dump for the entire gnoll clan. it has two tunnels leading off from it, one to the north, and one to the east, the entrance connects from the south. the northern tunnel leads to another large chamber that is used as a barracks for the 200 gnolls that live in the caves, though only about 150 are present. from this chamber are many smaller caves branching off that are used by the females to raise their young. on the far northern side is a wooden door that enters into a medium sized room where two trolls guard the entrance to the chieftains chambers. on the eastern side of the troll room is a ledge that overlooks an underground river. the eastern tunnel that leads off the garbage room connects to this river. 4 Lacedons protect the river approach to the chieftains chambers. they are feed by the chieftain who likes to use them to instil fear in his followers. once the PCs manage to get into the chieftains chambers, they find a barracks where the chief's bodyguards live with two wooden doors on either side of the barracks. one door leads into the prison where the gnolls keep prisoners until they eat them, the prison is currently empty. The other door leads to the chiefs room. in this room the PCs find a black crystal ball sitting on the chiefs desk. this ball is a communication device used by the chieftains overlord to give the gnoll chief orders. of course the PCs will not be able to discover this, or see it in use. the chief will rush out of his chambers 2 rounds after the battle with the bodyguards begins. 15 rounds after this battle begins, the rest of the gnolls will begin to investigate. 1d4 more gnolls will arrive every 5 rounds after the initial 15 rounds. See Escape below.

If the PCs enter the lair with the help of the Jarls men, they end up alerting the entire clan to their presence. the Jarls men (20 good fighters) get pinned down in the main barracks. the PCs may wish to help the men fight all the gnolls, at which point they will face waves of gnolls (2 per PC) until all the gnolls are dead (about 150 of them). more than likely they will be pushed out of the lair taking heavy losses. Another approach would be for the Jarls men to lure the gnolls away from the lair, this would allow the PCs to take on the chieftain and his bodyguards alone. if this happens, they will face the chieftain as above but without reinforcements from the gnolls, however, the escape from the lair will unfold the same, with the gnolls returning from the lure of the Jarls men. See Escape below.

# appearing: 4
HP: 12
AC: 6
THAC0: 19
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6
Special attack Paralysation
Moral: 11-12
# attacks 3/round

# appearing: 2
HP: 33
AC: 4
THAC0: 13
Damage: 1d4+4/1d4+4/1d8+4
Special defence regenerate
Moral: 14
# attacks 3

Gnoll bodyguards
# appearing: 10
HP: 12
AC: 4
THAC0: 18
Damage: 2d4+2 (Battle Axe), 1d6 (bow)
Moral: 12
# attacks 1/round

Gnoll chieftain
# appearing: 1
HP: 19
AC: 3
THAC0: 17
Damage: 2d4+3 (Battle Axe)
Moral: 14
# attacks 1/round


Once the chief is dead and the PCs have his head, they will need to escape. If they leave the way they came, the other gnolls will have discovered the guards dead or missing at the entrance, 4 more guards have been stationed here. the garbage chamber also has 5 gnolls guarding the room. battles in either room will draw 1d20 more gnolls within 2 rounds.

If the PCs are being chased out of the chieftains chambers and return to the river, the gnolls will pursue from both ends (from the garbage room and the troll room). their only means of escape will be down the river away from the gnoll lair. the river will eventually drain into a pool, the PCs will have to strip out of armour and weapons and dive into the pool and swim underwater to a cave that leads into the Angesan river a few miles away from the gnoll lair. they will then have to travel back to civilisation without weapons and armour while avoiding gnoll patrols at night.


Once returning to Wilmik, they will be paid any reward they have earned. the PCs will also earn a reputation and a name in Wilmik as the Gnoll Hunters. other communities throughout Soderfjord will offer them rewards for the heads of humanoid chieftains that are harassing them over the next few weeks.