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Shikugawa: Myoshima no Monogatari - A Tale of Myoshimaby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 15
The text presented in this article combines a classical D&D adventure, drawing from the sources that inspire the Gazetteer of Myoshima, with a modern investigative adventure framework such as those found in recent GUMSHOE games by Pelgrane Press.
In particular, the adventure draws inspiration from Pelgrane Press’ “The Armitage Files” and “Dracula Dossier: Director’s Handbook”, from which the ideas for multiple motivations for each NPC (villainous, innocent or stalwart) and multiple natures for each object (major, minor, or fraudulent) have been adapted.
In the adventure, set in the province of Sebei in the southern reaches of Myoshima, a group of mercenaries investigates the presence of bandits in a fief, at the request of the local vassal or his subjects. Some elements of the plots and NPCs are inspired from Akira Kurosawa’s period films starring Toshiro Mifune, such as Seven Samurai.
The adventure is designed for a party of 4 adventurers of level 4, or, more generally, for 3-5 PCs of levels 3-5, for a TPL of 15-16. Note that in BECMI, Rakasta start as NM with 2 HD, so their actual TPL level should be computed including 2 additional HD (so actually Rakasta PCs will be of level 1-3). In other rules sets, Rakasta are a typical character race, so no special adjustments are needed.
The player characters (PCs) are assumed to be mercenary troubleshooters, or else retainers of Seibei Nekokichi, a local nobleman whose fief includes the village of Shikugawa.
● The PCs are hired by Kohei, the Village Elder of Shikugawa, or by Seibei Nekokichi, the local jugo1 (or are dispatched from the Samurai’s Castle, if they are retainers of that nobleman) to vanquish a group of bandits led by the ronin Ushitora, who have been harassing the villagers and stealing their wealth. The PCs can question Kohei and the other rice farmers to find out about the bandits. The villagers accuse the bandits of killing one of their own, Tadashi. Eventually, they should track the bandits down to their hideout, a nearby Cave in the mountains.
● While tracking the bandits or exploring the area, the PCs may meet a hermit called Gonji who has taken residence in a roadside Shrine, and a Monkey Folk tribe who are living in a mountain village called Yamamura. These encounters can provide additional information, or raise some suspicions, as the hermit is a former barbarian (Mountain Rakasta), and the Monkey Folk do not appear to trust the Rakasta farmers.
● In the end, the PCs may choose to clash with the bandits and defeat them, or parley with them to learn their side of the story. If they fight, the PCs can still interrogate a captured bandit afterwards -- the bandits have no interest in getting killed, and will surrender if overwhelmed. The bandits claim to have been wronged by Seibei or Kohei -- according to their tale, they were formerly in service to Seibei, but have been accused of robbing and murdering a villager, Tadashi, and then hiding the corpse, without proof, and were forced to flee. They claim the witness, Kitaemon, another villager, is lying.
● The PCs can simply complete their job, capturing the bandits, or they can go back to the village or castle to further investigate the bandits’ claims. In either case, they (or the bandits earlier on, or one of the other NPCs) trigger the reaction of a greater evil, a monster that suddenly appears in the vicinity of Shikugawa.
● Although the PCs do not know it yet, there are three other hidden players in the village area: a Shapechanger (Futago2), a Sorcerer (a Hakomon, locally known as an Onmyonji) and a Shinobi (Ninja). Each has its own goals (not necessarily evil, but possibly opposed to each other and to the PCs). Their activities, like those of the bandits, are clearly affected by the appearance of the PCs and the greater evil, and they will react accordingly, possibly helping or hindering the PCs.
● The PCs can now investigate the origins of the greater evil, and possibly find ways to contain it. Some of the NPCs they have already met may know something, either about the history of the village, or about the nature of the greater evil and the magics that can help against it.
1 Local noble ruler, typically in charge of a few villages . Equivalent to a Landed Knight.
2 Myoshiman Doppleganger, see page 9 o f the 1993 D&D module “ Rage of the Rakasta” by William W. Connors .
In the end, the PCs discover the entrance to the Dungeon, which is the lair of the greater evil or the location of the tool for destroying it. At the end of the dungeon itself, besides the resolution of the adventure, is a portal, rumored to be the entrance of Hell.
As a general consideration, note that the actual nature (innocent, villainous or stalwart) of each of the NPCs or NPC groups is not predefined. Each DM may create their own version(s) to suit the story they want to tell, and one that the players will enjoy the most.
The Greater Evil
The greater evil is a dangerous monster. It has a relatively straightforward goal, but may be controlled by Villainous NPCs for their own purposes. There are two choices for the greater evil:
● An Oudokuro (Bone Golem), created in ancient times by the Shikken, can be controlled with a magic item (a fan). The Bone Golem is almost mindless, but is still going by its original orders, suitably degraded and misinterpreted by the passage of time. If not controlled, it will attack the nearest settlement -- likely Shikugawa or the Monkey Folk village. If controlled, it will serve the purposes of its controller.
● A Kyousoku (Wraith) ghost. The Wraith is susceptible to being controlled with the Control Undead ability, and can be affected by two magic items, the jar and scroll. The wraith arises when a dead body has not been properly buried -- ideally the victim of one of the Villainous individuals or groups, but not the one who is trying to control it. In this case, it could be Tadashi, the villager allegedly killed by the bandits. The wraith is intelligent, and wishes to take its revenge, but will bide its time and serve an individual who threatens it with one of the magic items.
In both cases, the greater evil is awakened by the bandits who stumble through sigils confining it somewhere in the Cave, or by the PCs as they break into the Cave, or disturb the Shrine or the village well in Shikugawa.
Each NPC group (and their leaders) can take one of three different interpretations, which lead to them taking different roles within the story. Villainous NPCs are self-serving and generally evil. They are likely to oppose the PCs. Stalwart NPCs are heroic or at least well-intentioned and may be able to provide help to the PCs. Innocent NPCs are typically just what they appear -- they may be well intentioned, but have no major help to offer, or they may be completely clueless bystanders.
Kohei and the Shikugawa rice farmers
Kohei, village elder: Rakasta NM
Apparent nature. The people of Shikugawa are rakasta commoners, mostly rice farmers. The village is led by an elder, Kohei, advised by the leaders of the more affluent families. See the entry for Shikugawa for a full list of the families and their leaders. The villagers accuse the bandits of having killed Tadashi, a son of the farmer Manzou, and of having hidden or otherwise disposed of the corpse. One other villager, Kitaemon, saw Unosuke, one of the bandits, striking down Tadashi with a sword on the road to the Shrine. He then fled before the bandit could pursue him.
Innocent. The villagers are ignorant peasants, mere victims of the events. They know nothing of the greater evil, although they may have clues about the other groups, which they generally fear.
Villainous. The rich farmers are hoarding grain in order to raise its price and sell it at a greater price when military campaigns will reprise, causing widespread poverty.
Stalwart. The villagers are good, hardworking folk. The elders have memories passed down from generations about the greater evil, which may help the PCs.
Ushitora and the bandit gang
Ushitora, Bandit leader: Rakasta Samurai
Nui, Female bandit: Rakasta Bushi/Fighter 1
Unosuke, Bandit scout: Rakasta
Tokuemon and Tazaemon, twin bandits:
Rakasta Nobushi/Thief 1
Apparent nature. The bandits are Rakasta ronin, disgraced and masterless samurai who have turned into common brigands to survive. Or at least that’s what Ushitora claims to be.
Innocent. These impoverished mercenaries have turned to banditry, but only because they have no job. They are not willing to cause serious harm or incur in the wrath of authorities, and will flee if allowed to. They may even be persuaded to turn from banditry if offered a job.
Villainous. These are violent, roguish mercenaries who have turned to banditry after being dismissed by their employer (another Samurai from a nearby domain). They are coarse bullies, willing to ruin the village to fill their pockets.
Stalwart. These are former retainers of the Samurai (or Ronins, followers of another Samurai whose downfall was caused by one of the villainous NPCs) or inhabitants of the village who have turned to banditry after being accused with false charges due to the acts of one villainous NPC. They want revenge, and may have clues to the identity of the villain.
The Samurai and his retinue
Seibei Nekokichi, jugo of the area including Shikugawa: Rakasta Samurai/Fighter 4
Apparent nature. Nekokichi is a Rakasta samurai who commands a small group of ashigaru retainers. They live in a small castle, with the samurai’s family. The samurai oversees several villages, one of which is Shikugawa, as the jugo (a title not unlike that of a Landed Knight in Karameikos), and owes fealty to the local daimyo (who in turn is the equivalent of a Thyatian count or duke).
Innocent. The Samurai is an indifferent ruler, and leaves all decisions to the village elders, as long as they pay the required taxes. He does not care about the greater evil, but may pay a reasonable sum to be rid of it.
Villainous. This harsh warrior heavily taxes the village to keep his retainers well fed and equipped. He aims at eradicating the sasquatches to exploit the mountains through mining prospectors.
Stalwart. This valiant warrior was an adventurer in his youth, and still has the will to fight for good. He is sincerely preoccupied by the greater evil, and will personally take action if he hears about it.
Orin and the Monkey Folk
Orin, Monkey Folk tribal chief: Sasquatch 2/Shaman 2
Apparent nature. The Monkey Folk are a primitive people that lives in forested mountains. They have a simple hunter gatherer culture. They are led by a female shaman, Orin.
Innocent. The tribe is primitive but peaceful and shy. Their druidic shaman wishes to keep her people out of the struggles of civilized folks.
Villainous. The tribe is barbaric and hostile to both the villagers and the bandits. The shaman does not follow the teachings of the Monkey King, but those of an evil spirit from Hell.
Stalwart. The tribe is savage but honorable. The teachings of the Monkey King are strong, and the tribesmen honor the daring of adventurers.
Gonji, knowledgeable hermit monk: Rakasta Biku/Monk (spellcasting) 6
Apparent nature. Gonji is a Mountain Rakasta (a barbarian, from the point of view of the Myoshiman Rakasta) Biku, that is a wandering monk follower of Shima-do.
Innocent. This hermit is just as he appears, a retired warrior, formerly a mercenary, whose tribe has been displaced or died out. A cranky old cat, he cannot provide much help beyond the occasional cure light wounds spell.
Villainous. This hermit is actually a cultist of the greater evil. He receives spells from it or from Hel (same as a standard Biku, but uses reverse spells).
Stalwart. This hermit is a former barbarian adventurer turned to religion. He has knowledge of the greater evil and how to fight it.
The Hidden Players
The three hidden players also have the same options to be Villainous, Stalwart, or Innocent. In this case, however, the “Innocent” version merely means the NPC is not likely to interfere in favor or against the PCs. They will stick to their own agenda, but may still attract the attention of the PCs. The hidden players have no predefined apparent nature. They are masquerading among one of the other groups, and take that apparent nature.
A Futago (Shapechanger): Doppleganger NM
There may be several Dopplegangers, especially if they have infiltrated the village. They are part of a small clan, and share the same motivations and outlook.
Innocent. Only desires to be left to his own devices. He has found a good life in this village, but will put his own survival before that of the village, and leave if exposed or threatened.
Villainous. Aims at taking control of the area by causing other leaders to be falsely accused of crimes by impersonating them. He is unconcerned by the greater evil, and plans to use it to further his plots by blaming others for its appearance.
Stalwart. Has discovered this village as a haven against his enemies, but has grown fond of it and can be convinced that it is morally wrong to leave it in the current straits.
An Onmyonji (Sorcerer): Rakasta Wu Jen/Hakomon (Shintenshin no Jutsu secret craft/Enchantment specialist) 4
In all incarnations, the Sorcerer is aware of one of the magic items. He’s looking for it, either because it is a threat to his work, or because he needs it to further his research.
Innocent. The sorcerer is a reclusive hermit, and a bitter exile. He has political reasons for his isolation, and will not side with the authorities, even if the threat is exposed.
Villainous. The sorcerer is able to control others via charm spells. He is a follower of the Shikken, and aims at corrupting the village to use it as a power base for his master’s plans. He has created or unleashed the greater evil as part of his plot.
Stalwart. The sorcerer is secretive, but honorable. While his primary interest is his own research and survival, he perceives the greater evil as a threat, and is willing to counsel the PCs to help defeat it.
A Ninja (or Kunoichi): Rakasta Ninja/Thief (Genjutsu specialist) 4
Innocent. The Ninja has a mission to murder either the Sorcerer, the Shapechanger, or the Samurai. He does not care about the greater evil or the other PCs or NPCs, unless his mission is threatened.
Villainous. The Ninja aims at controlling the greater evil, to increase the power of his clan. He has a way to control the greater evil (one of the magic items), and is testing the extent of this ability before returning to his village.
Stalwart. The Ninja is a member of a clan that serves the local daimyo. He may provide unofficial help, although he does not want to blow his cover until his target (either the Sorcerer or the Shapechanger) is brought down.
Who are the Hidden Players?
The Shapechanger, Sorcerer, and Ninja are hiding, likely among three different groups.
The following table shows what place each of them will take among the infiltrated group.
Note that different assignments may lead to the main hidden player having some followers or not.
Table 1: The Hidden Shapechanger
Village Elder/Rice farmers Dopplegangers have replaced the elder and possibly other key villagers.
Samurai/Ashigaru A Doppleganger has replaced the Samurai.
Bandit chief/Nobushi One of the bandits is a Doppleganger, and can use his power to spy on the village or castle. The other bandits are not aware of this, believing the information comes from magic or skill.
Monkey Folk chief/tribe The Monkey Folk chief has been replaced by a Doppleganger.
Hermit The hermit is actually a Doppleganger.
Table 2: The Hidden Sorcerer
Village Elder/Rice farmers A sorcerer controls the village by charming its leaders. The sorcerer himself (or herself) is an otherwise unassuming inhabitant of the village.
Samurai/Ashigaru The Samurai has been charmed by his concubine, who is the sorcerer.
Bandit chief/Nobushi One of the bandits is a sorcerer, who has a different agenda from the others.
Monkey Folk chief/tribe The Monkey Folk chief has been charmed by the Sorcerer.
Hermit The hermit is actually a sorcerer rather than a monk.
Table 3: The Hidden Ninja
Village Elder/Rice farmers The village is actually a Ninja village. None of the other parties are aware of it, except perhaps the Sorcerer or the Shapechanger.
Samurai/Ashigaru One of the retainers or concubine of the Samurai is the Ninja.
Bandit chief/Nobushi One of the bandits is actually a Ninja in disguise. He has a different agenda from the others, and is manipulating them.
Monkey Folk chief/tribe The Monkey Folk tribe is actually a mysterious group of Ninja using genjutsu to appear as Monkey Folk.
Hermit The hermit is the current cover for the ninja.
The following objects appear during the adventure. They may be actually found, or they may only be rumors. Each object may be Major, Minor or Fraudulent/Rumor. In the first case, the object is a permanent or charged magic item. In the second, it is a single-use (or few uses) magic item, a permanent magic item of limited power, or just a high-quality non-magical item (still valuable, but not a game changer in the context of the adventure). In the latter, it is non-magical (but could still be valuable), or it is merely a rumor, and the object does not actually exist.
Of the four magical objects, one (the sword) has a fixed location, while of the others one should be found at the end of the dungeon, and one might be in the hands of an appropriate NPC. The remaining object might be just a rumor, or it may be hidden somewhere -- either in the village or among the bandits’ loot.
Seibuzou no Kei (Sutra of the Pachydermion Priest)
An ornate scroll, attached to a short wooden staff for rolling it. The wooden staff is also painted in bright colours with scenes of Kompor-Thap life. This object may be found in the dungeon, or in the possession of one of the NPCs.
Major. The scroll can be used to paralyze any undead or demon (ST vs Paralysis at -8). The effect is permanent until the scroll is removed, but to activate it the scroll needs to be attached to the entity with an attack (the Scroll acts as an unarmed attack at +5). By reading the contents, a Turn Undead effect can be achieved (once per week) as if the reader was a priest of 5 levels higher (count 1/3 levels for Paladins and Biku, and 0 for non-clerical readers). This effect requires literacy in the Kompor-Thap language.
Minor. As per the Major version, but the paralysis effect wears off in one week, and the Turn Undead effect is only achievable by a character that has the Turn Undead class ability, and even then it only increases the power of the effect by 2 levels.
Fraudulent. The scroll merely confers knowledge of the Kompor-Thap exoteric branch of the Shima-do faith. It can be used as an instructor to learn the Religion (Shimado) and Ceremony (Ssu-Ma) skills, but has no magical powers.
Tamashi no Hyoutan (Calabash of Souls)
A calabash, emptied to form a wine container, provided with a stopper inscribed with a sigil associated with the magic schools of conjuration and abjuration. This object may be found in the dungeon, or in the possession of one of the NPCs.
Major. The bottle can be used to contain an evil spirit, genie, or ghost. A command word must be read for this purpose, and the entity will be drawn into the bottle, which then must be stoppered. A Saving Throw vs Spells at -8 is needed to avoid the effect.
Minor. As per the major item, except that the item cannot be reused. Once stoppered, its magic dissipates if it is ever unstoppered.
Fraudulent. As per the major item, but the bottle lacks a stopper, and is therefore unusable.
Tenkai no Tessen (War fan of deployment)
A folding fan built with metal slats and magically strengthened paper, upon which are painted scenes of undeath rituals and a series of command words. This object may be found in the dungeon, or in the possession of one of the NPCs.
Major. The fan was created to direct an undead construct, a war machine devised by the Shikken. It is still functional, and can be used to control the greater evil (which in this case should be a bone golem).
Minor. As major, but the fan is brittle and its magic is almost exhausted. It can be used to hamper the bone golem, which will not attack the holder of the fan. Actively using it causes a “confusion” effect on the golem, after the end of which the fan shatters, having finally exhausted its magic.
Fraudulent. The fan is merely a reproduction of a period objet d’art of the Shikken era. It has no magical value.
Ineko no Tachi (Sword of the Grasshopper)
This ancient sword is the heirloom of the Seibei samurai family. It is held in the throne room of Seibei’s castle.
Major. The sword was used in battle against the Shikken. The spirit of Seibei “Ineko” Katsuyori, who died in battle holding the sword, resides in the blade, making it a sort of intelligent sword. The sword operates as a sword +1, +3 vs undead, with Int 8, Ego 9, and the Detect Undead power. However, it can be shut down or even destroyed by an application of the Turn Undead power (against a Wraith). If the spirit of Seibei Katsuyori is destroyed, the sword turns into its minor version.
Minor. The sword used to hold the spirit of the Seibei ancestor, Katsuyori, also called Ineko for his ability to burst in sudden action, but the spirit has passed on to the Outer Planes, either naturally or because it has been exorcised. The sword is still magical, but merely a +1 blade.
Fraudulent. The sword is actually a replica. The real sword of Katsuyori was lost on the battlefield. It is a well-forged weapon, but no better than any ordinary sword. It has still a sentimental value for the Seibei clan.
The following locales appear in the adventure: the Seibei Castle, the rice farmers’ village of Shikugawa, the bandit’s cave, the hermit’s Shrine, the Monkey Folk mountain village, and the dungeon where the final showdown of the adventure takes place. The first two are known initially, the others can be investigated.
Seibei Nekokichi lives here with his wife, Yuki, his son Izumi, eight ashigaru guards and their captain, Yaemon (Rakasta Ashigaru/Fighter 2), and a couple of servants, as well as a concubine, Nei.
Map of the Samurai Casle
The castle is composed of a single-floor wooden building within a courtyard. A small watchtower, a barrack for the ashigaru retainers, and a stable housing the Samurai’s sabretooth tiger are located around the courtyard, which also features a well-kept garden. Typically, two of the ashigaru are on guard at any time -- one in the watchtower, the other patrolling the garden, and four more are sleeping or otherwise off-duty in the barracks. The two remaining ashigaru sit in the porch in front of the hall, playing chess or drinking tea.
The Rice farmers’ Village (population: 70 Rakasta), contains the following buildings.
1. A sake brewery, owned and managed by Mosuke and his family. The brewery is composed of a single, large building, to which are attached the family house and the warehouse, forming a small compound.
2. A small Izakaya, owned and managed by Yohei, with a single serving boy. The Izakaya has a single rectangular hall, with small tables and benches set along the wall. A bar is set on the opposite side of the room, and the small kitchen, storage area, Yohei’s bedroom can be reached from doors behind the bar.
3. Several farmhouses, belonging to Kohei, Rikichi, Manzou, Tahei, and Matashichi. Each is the patriarch of a relatively large family (5-15 Rakasta NM). The farmhouses are bamboo buildings, with internal walls replaced by paper screens. They are quite simple, but most have additional buildings for housing chickens, rabbits, and other small animals, as well as granaries.
4. The village well, near Kohei’s house and the Izakaya. The well is likely the oldest construction in the village, and may predate the arrival of the current families.
5. The mill, owned by Gisaku and his family. This building stands a bit aside from the village proper. The mill is a one story, single room building with a wheel powered by a small water stream.
The five bandits, Ushitora, Nui, Unosuke, Tokuemon and Tazaemon camp in this cave. The cave entrance is not guarded, but a clever pit trap has been installed. If not detected, the first PC entering the cave will fall in the pit, which is not very deep but has nasty spikes on the bottom, which inflict 1d4 HP on a failed ST vs Wands. More importantly, the noise of people falling into the trap warns the bandits of the presence of intruders.
From the entrance, the cave splits in two branches, which later join in the main cavern. Ushitora and Nui have claimed the main cavern, while Unosuke, Tokuemon and Tazaemon camp in the left branch, which opens up in the middle, providing enough space for them.
A more dangerous trap has been set in the right branch, a set of sharp blades attached to a large plank hinged to the ceiling. When activated (a well-hidden cable detaches the far side of the plank when tripped upon), the plank swings down, shredding the first two rows of intruders for 1d8 HP. A ST vs Wands allows a victim to halve the damage. Once more, activating this trap warns the bandits of the presence of intruders. The two groups of bandits will then attack from opposite sides.
The shrine is composed of a single room, built around four posts and surmounted with a multi-tiered, sloping roof covered in black tiles. The wooden walls are painted bright red, while the post are painted in a golden yellow. Inside the shrine is an altar, and a time-corroded wooden statue. It is almost impossible to say which entity it depicts (a difficult skill check in Religion will identify the statue as Abbot Shingen, if the hermit is stalwart or innocent, or as the Shikken’s Rakshasa father otherwise). A fount is located outside the shrine, to be used for purification rituals, and a ceremonial torii gate signals the way to the shrine from the main road. Only the hermit, Gonji, lives here, in a small hut near the shrine itself
This is the Monkey Folk’s Mountain Village (population: 20 Monkey Folk). Yamamura is located above the Shrine, near to the Cave. It is composed of six simple huts built around large trees, each inhabited by two to five Monkey Folk individuals, usually a couple with younglings. A fire pit is located in the center of the village. Orin, the village shaman and leader, lives in the smallest hut with her grandniece, who is also her apprentice.
Around the village there are a number of non-lethal traps, chiefly nets or rope hoops attached to bent trees, which snap back into their natural position when the trap is triggered, capturing the triggerer on a failed ST vs Wands (at -4 for net traps). These traps have been set for defensive purposes by the Monkey Folk. Captured being will be spotted by a party of Monkey Folk within a few hours, and brought to Orin. PCs snooping in the woods around the village have a 1 in 4 chance per hour to approach one of the traps.
The Dungeon’s position is not predefined. Depending on the nature of the various players, it could appear in several locales:
1. Under the cellars of the Castle;
2. Accessed via the well in the Village;
3. Under the altar of the Shrine;
4. Under the Cave;
5. Hidden by Genjutsu in a tree of the Mountain Village.
Note that some choices may be more conductive to a given nature of the portal that is found at the end of the dungeon itself. For example, if the dungeon is accessed via the village well, the portal might be similar to the Well of the Moon from X5, which allows access to Matera from Mystara’s surface, whereas a dungeon entrance hidden in a tree may lead to a portal to some outer plane, and may imply that the Monkey Folk are actually Ninja (if they have used Genjutsu to hide it). Positioning it under the castle implies the Seibei ancestors might have set the castle as a watch post over the Shikken’s dungeon, or maybe they played the part of double agents, harboring the Shikken’s troops, but then keeping them from joining the battle. Similar considerations may be done for the Shrine.
The entrance of the dungeon is locked. The rusty padlock can be opened with an Open Locks check at +30%.
Lair of the centipede
A giant centipede lairs in this room. It hides on the ceiling, dropping on the last PC to enter the room, unless spotted with a successful Alertness check.
The staging grounds
A large underground cavern where a number of skeletons armed with spears are set in neat rows. There are 18 skeletons disposed in three rows of six each. This squadron of undead foot soldiers have been left behind by the Shikken, or more likely one of his followers, after their defeat centuries ago. The magic that supports the skeletons has deteriorated, so not all the undead are still functional. They activate when disturbed by the PCs’ entrance, but only 2 skeletons per each PC (three if the party includes one or more clerics) actually manage to reach attack range -- the others fall in pieces right after they start moving. Also, a successful Turn Undead destroys these skeletons, even if the result is just “turn.”
Two corridors lead out from this room, one hidden behind a secret door, the other immediately visible, but protected by a deadly pit trap with poisoned spikes at the bottom. The spikes cause 1d6 hit points of damage, and the poison causes 2d6, which can be halved with a successful Saving Throw vs. Poison, or entirely avoided if the Saving Throw succeeds at -4. The trap activates a couple of seconds after the first PC steps onto the pit section of the floor, so up to four PCs can fall into the trap. The last two can jump back with a successful Dexterity check, whereas the first two need an Acrobatics skill check (or equivalent ability, such as a Mystic’s acrobatics ability).
This circular room contain a large octagonal altar, upon which rests a porcelain urn richly decorated, and sealed with scrolls and wax. A pair of brightly-painted, demonic-looking statues loom above the altar. These statues are magically animated, and defend the altar at all costs.
The statues have similar statistics to Crystal Living Statues, but are made of painted wood. One of the magic items, either the scroll, the war fan or the calabash, is stored inside the urn.
At the end of the Dungeon, hidden beneath the altar, is the rumored “portal to Hell.” It is not literally a portal to the Outer Planes. Its nature must be determined by the DM according to the needs of the campaign.
1. A passage leading to the Myoshiman version of the Kingdom of Ghouls (Gaki no Oukoku);
2. A portal to Dravya on Mystara's surface (this option may actually be seen as a portal to Hell in the Myoshiman cosmology, as Mystara is seen as the “lower world” and the realm of the Oni, the Ogre Magi);
3. A transition to Limbo (an actual afterlife option);
4. A passage leading to some abandoned stronghold of the Shikken (a less supernatural but more concrete threat -- the Bone Golem version of the greater evil, if not used earlier, may appear here, or an entire army of them may be waiting in the depths of Matera for the Shikken to return).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The adventure ends when the PCs manage to drive away, exorcise or destroy the greater evil. At that point, the villainous NPCs may still be plotting against the PCs and the village, but they will lay low for a while to let any suspicion fall away from them.
At the end of the adventure, the DM should assign an XP reward to the PCs for solving the case, in addition to whatever monetary reward they get from the jugo or the village elders.
This reward should be similar in amount to the total XP award for the monsters present in the adventure, if the villainous NPC(s) responsible for the events have been identified. If the villainous NPCs are still at large, the reward should be reduced by one half.
Converting to other rules sets
For use with the Pathfinder RPG, use the Bone Golem or a Dread Wraith as thegreater evil, Scarecrows statistics for the two wood statues in the dungeon, and a Giant Whiptail Centipede. Increase the level of all the Rakasta NPC by 2, using the Catfolk race.
For use with AD&D 2e, use the Rakasta of Mystara article to build Rakasta PCs. Since Rakasta in AD&D are a standard race, the adventure is suitable for characters of level 3- 5. Most encounters can be used without modification.
The adventure offers some support for playing solo (ideally as a ronin named Sanjuro). You’ll need to adapt the monsters and NPCs, or you can use Kevin Crawford’s “Scarlet Heroes” rules, which provide a variant way to compute damage in BECMI and similar games, which allows lone heroes to replace a party of similar level. If playing solo, you can randomly roll for the various secrets when the PC attempts to uncover them -- e.g., the PC starts the investigation by interrogating the murder witness, Kitaemon. He suspects that Kitaemon is not what he seems. Make a Detect Lies skill roll (or simply a Wisdom check, depending on the rules). If successful, the character is identified correctly -- each suspect NPC has a 1 in 3 chance of being one of the hidden players. Otherwise, his identity remains unclear. Also randomly roll for the NPC nature, and progress from there, building the story as the PC progresses in the investigation.