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The Skarsí Legacyby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 10
The Skars’ Legacy
A Skarsholm region adventure
by Giampaolo “Agathokles” Agosta
The Skars’ Legacy is a short campaign for low-level PCs, set in the Frothulf Vale area, north-east of the Skaufskogr. The adventure begins as a murder investigation, but quickly turns into a rush to draw together an alliance of the diverse people living in the Skaufskogr and nearby lands to thwart Harak Red-Hand, an Orc warlord bent on invading the region and retrieve the amulet once held by the ogress wokan, The Skars.
This adventure is presented using AD&D 2e statistics, and Birthright War Card rules for mass combat.
The adventure assumes the PCs are newcomers to the Skaufskogr. In Act I, they reach Frodhulf Outpost, a small village inhabited by local Heldanner folk, at the time of the May Day festival. A local leader is murdered, and the PCs are asked to take part in the manhunt for the assassin. They follow the murderer, a Bugbear, up to the Old Fort, capture him and bring him before the village assembly. Regardless of the trial outcome, the PCs may gain allies and enemies.
At the end of the trial, it becomes apparent that the Orc warlord, Harak Red-Hand, is behind the assassination, and his armies are marching north-east from the Skarsholm. The PCs, if they want to save their new home, need to form a coalition between the local tribes, as well as gather the support of the Alphatian garrison at Midway Haven.
In Act II, the adventure becomes more of a sandbox, with the PCs free to pursue several avenues to gather new allies, within a short timeframe.
In Act III, Harak’s invasion finally reaches Frodhulf Outpost, or the alliance chooses to bring the battle to the orcish forces while they are still blocked west of the bog. In any case, the resolution is left to a field battle between the PC-led allied forces and the orc army.
The PCs, as mentioned above, have just arrived in the Skaufskogr region. They may be Alphatian colonists, Thyatian spies, or settlers from the Known World who have reached Norwold following King Ericall’s call – given their low level, they are not pretenders to noble titles, but mere colonists, possibly followers of one of the NPC pretenders.
If they are colonists, their goal is to establish, either on their own or in the name of the Alphatian government or one of its proxies, a power base in the region, which might be as lowly as a homestead, or as large as a barony, in case they are working for one of the pretenders. In the latter case, it is assumed that this high-level NPC is currently absent, most likely attending Ericall’s court in Alpha.
If the PCs are Thyatian or Heldannic spies, they might be tempted to let the orcs overrun the region. However, things will play better for their employers if the alliance of local tribes succeeds, but negotiations to include the Alphatian garrison fail.
Act I: Murder at the Bjarttandri
Whatever their reason to travel to the Skaufskogr is, the PCs arrive at Frodhulf Outpost from the port of Midway Haven, since the southern routes are blocked by an orcish invasion in the Skarsholm. The PCs arrive just before the Bjarttandri (May Day) festival. They have the opportunity to visit the outpost and meet other PCs or NPCs. When they are settled at the inn, the festival gets under way, and the PCs can take part in or observe the druidic ceremony:
The evening falls on the village, and both locals and visitors prepare for the climax of the festival, a ceremony presided by the druidic priests of Frey and Freyja. A large bonfire has been prepared in the center of the fair grounds, ready to be lighted by the chief druid.
When the sun finally disappears beyond the Final Range, the druids, led by senior druid Olvir, arrive from their homes near the border of the Skaufskogr. Each of them holds a burning torch, as well as sacred items you do not always recognize (you’re too far, and it’s getting dark – there seem to be at least knives and branches of some kind of tree or plant). Olvir, a middle-aged, stout man who looks more a warrior than a priest or sage, addresses the crowd with a short exhortation, mostly about the state of agriculture and cattle raising in the area, then lights the bonfire with his torch, signalling the end of the formal celebration and the beginning of the “real” one – which is a chaotic mix of drinking, eating and dancing.
After the religious ceremony, the festival goes on the whole night, with a lot of dancing and drinking. At sunrise, a cry for help reaches the resting PCs, if they are within earshot of the meadows to the east of the fair grounds. Otherwise, they are warned by a friendly NPCs (e.g., the innkeeper) who has heard the call and asks them to go with him.
When you push beyond the last rows of tents, you see a human boy rushing towards you. Meanwhile, people are starting to get out of the tents, so it is a small crowd that finally manages to understand what has scared the boy: there is, at some distance from the tents, a man lying face down in the low grass. As you reach him, you see that the man’s head has been shattered by a powerful blow, and lies now in a pool of blood.
If the PCs look for traces, they discover large footprints leading south, around the village and into the river. If they try to talk to the boy, he calms down quickly enough. From what he says, the PCs can gather that he just discovered the body while he was moving a small herd of sheep to their buyer’s tent.
After the PCs have had some time to react to the events, someone recognizes the dead man:
Meanwhile, some of the local humans have turned the corpse on its back to examine it. One of them says: «By Frey, it’s Steinar! Steinar Eidhurson! » Apparently, the name is well known to most people, some of whom run back towards the inn, maybe to warn the relatives of the dead man.
Several of the important villagers and visitors will gather. Hjalmar1 will organize volunteers to search and capture the assassin. Since the assassin has crossed the river, squads will be organized to search different locations across the river. Hjalmar will mark the starting location of each squad on a map of the village and its immediate surroundings. Given the path of the assassin’s footprints, the squads composed by the locals will be assigned to the southernmost areas, even if the PCs volunteer to participate in the manhunt. If they do not volunteer, Hjalmar will ask them to participate, just to stay on the safe side and check all possible escape routes.
Naturally, the assassin actually fled south only to mislead the pursuers. He entered the river, and went back north for a while before returning on land and escaping towards the Old Fort. The PCs will likely find his tracks (the DM should ask for a Wisdom check if none of the PCs has a Tracking or Hunting non-weapon proficiency). However, at this point most of the squads will have left in other directions, so the PCs will have to pursue the assassin on their own.
The Old Fort
The Old Fort, contrary to most stories, is not haunted. However, a small band of bugbears has taken residence here. They hope to exact a toll from travellers, but few people go near the fort. Moreover, the hill upon which the fort was built was originally a cloud giant’s burial mound. It is possible to enter the mound via the well. The impluvium also leads to the inner chamber, where the granite coffin has been adapted as a cistern, but it is too small even for most halflings.
The bugbear tribe has temporarily left the Old Fort, establishing a small camp outside Frodhulf Outpost. Loskar, one of the bugbears, has been hired by Harak’s agents to spread chaos among the Heldanners of the Frodhulf Vale. He travelled with his tribe to the Bjarttandri fair, and there he murdered Steinar Eidhurson, a prominent farmer. Then he fled for the Old Fort, hoping to shake any pursuer by feinting a flight to the south first.
Loskar the Betrayer
Male Bugbear Barbarian Fighter 3, CN
Str 18/51, Int 8, Wis 7, Dex 12, Con 13, Cha 8
AC 6 (brigantine); HP 20.
THAC0 16; Dmg 1d8+3 (morningstar).
XP Value: 120.
When the PCs arrive at the Old Fort, following the tracks of the bugbear assassin Loskar, a small party of Mengul Orcs has set an ambush here, taking some time to reach the Old Fort crossing the creek north of the bogs. Their original goal was to kill Loskar to cover the tracks linking the assassination attempt to Harak, but now they prefer to first kill the PCs, and then deal with Loskar.
10 Mengul Orcs, 1 HD (HP: 3-6), AC 6 (leather armor and small shield), THAC0 20, Dmg 1d6 (spear, short sword or club). XP Value: 150.
If the PCs are about to be defeated by Loskar and the orcs, Howls-in-the-Night’s skeletal minions appear to save the day, and drag the (likely unconscious) PCs to the Lupin necromancer’s hideout in a nearby barrow.
If the PCs were able to defeat Loskar and the Mengul Orcs, they can drag the traitorous bugbear in front of the Thing, if he is still alive. If they do so, the bugbear clan leader offers to pay a blood price to Steinar’s widow, and to ban Loskar . However, many of the human conservatives, headed by Solvi the Grim and Thorgrim Thorvaldurson ask that the entire bugbear tribe be chased from the region. The moderate clans are uncertain, having lost their strongest leader. If the PCs are able to rally Freysteinn and Hjalmar, as well as to get the Lupin clans cooperate with them, they can outvote Solvi and Thorgrim. In this case, they gain the friendship of the bugbears, who will aid them in the war.
If the outcome of the trial is favorable to the PCs, they also gain a story award of 300 XPs.
Frodhulf Vale’s Thing (assembly) gathers at the Fair’s Grounds in Frodhulf Outpost. It is composed of the armed men and women of each homestead, plus the woodsmen led by Hjalmar Ragnarson. Hjalmar, Steinar, Thorgrim, Freysteinn and Solvi are the leaders, the other farmers usually support one of them (two each, except Hjalmar, who is considered less important by the farmers).
This former bandit would like nothing more than controlling the Thing for his own profit. However, his lack of personal fighting skills – compared to Steinar and Hjalmar, at least – has kept him from gathering a stronger support. He has a personal guard of 10 mercenaries (a mixed lot of bandits, Freeholder exiles, Helskirian expatriates and two Ostlander Berserkers) as well as the larger farm (and therefore the larger following) of all the homesteaders.
This powerful warrior is a Freeholder exile. His strength lies in his fighting prowess, but he is hindered by his lack of connection with the local families, and the fact that he only represents his wife’s interests, not his own homestead. Steinar dies at the beginning of the adventure, creating a power vacuum in the Thing.
This elder godi has been the head of his clan for almost 30 years, having replaced his father, an impetuous warrior who died in a skirmish against marauding goblinoids. He is a conservative leader.
This pious worshipper of Frey only recently became the head of his clan, replacing his father Haraldur Freysteinson, who died during winter. A strong supporter of the druidic circle, Freysteinn has managed to retain the support of two minor homesteads, but a third homesteader, Eirikur Grimurson (m/h/F4, N), switched allegiance to Solvi.
This ranger is supported by local woodsmen and hunters as well as by the few craftsmen of Frodhulf Outpost. He keeps neutral in the disputes for land rights, but presses for the creation of a more organized militia.
Act II: The Orcish Invasion
The Skarsholm, a region of rolling plains rising to the foothills of the Mengul Mountains was once the home of an ogress wokan, known as Skars. An orc warlock, Harak Red-Hand (m,Orc,F9/W9,LE) is looking for her necklace, a talisman that allows the user to control wolves, and has led an army of orcs and ogres to Skarsholm. However, the wokan had, before her death, used her shapechanging powers to hide the necklace – her most powerful talisman – in the dwarven mines of Syrrak. Therefore Harak has not been able to locate the wolf’s teeth necklace.
He is trying to widen the search to the neighbouring lands, but in this effort he has awakened the Bog Monster, an old undead threat. When Harak sent his forces in the Bog, the elf mummy reacted to the presence of orcs, the ancestral enemies of its species, in its resting place. He is now looking for a way to remove the mummy – he does not feel strong enough to confront it alone.
Male Orc (Orcus Imperator Rex) Fighter 9/Wizard 9, Lawful Evil
Str 16, Int 15, Wis 12, Dex 9, Con 13, Cha 10
Senses: Infravision 60’, Detect new constructions 35%, Detect slopes 25%, -1 penalty in sunlight.
THAC0: 12; Dmg: by weapon +1; HP: 35
Wpn Profs: Longsword, Battle Axe, Light Crossbow, Dagger, Club, Single Weapon Fighting Style, Punching specialization.
NWPs: Endurance, 13; Reading/Writing Essurian Runes, 16; Weaponsmithing, 12; Languages: Mengul Orcish (native), Heldanner 15, Denagothian 15; Ancient History (Mengul Goblinoids) 14; Mountaineering; Hunting 11.
XP Value: 3000.
Harak leads an army of more than one thousand orcs. He can also count on the support of a small tribe of ogres, as well as his personal guard, the Bull’s Head horde.
The Mengul Horde (7 units)
Unit 1, Bull’s Head Horde: 40 Ogres with clubs; 30 elite Orc fighters with chain mail, shield, spear and battleaxe; 30 Orc Defenders of Kaarash with chainmail and bastard sword; 100 Orcs medium infantry (1/4/3/3/-/1).
Units 2-5, Orc Infantry: 200 Mengul Orcs with studded leather armor, shields, spears, short swords and clubs (1/3/2/2/-/1).
Units 6-7, Orc Archers: 200 Mengul Orcs with studded leather armor, short bows or crossbows, and short swords or clubs (1/1/2/2/-/3).
As the PCs realize that the threat of Harak Red-Hand’s army is growing, they will start gathering forces for the inevitable showdown. To face Harak, they need more troops than the Heldanners can gather alone – they will need to get more men from the other local tribes and clans.
Several of the main encounters of this adventure allow the PCs to acquire loyal troops or at least to be able to pull in favors, giving them help for the Skarsholm campaign.
Table 1 shows a quick summary of the primary method to acquire the services of each force.
Table 1: Allied forces: trigger events
Type and size
400 human irregulars
Negotiating with the clan heads and delivering a speech at the Thing
200 human cavalry
200 human heavy infantry
200 lupin scouts
Negotiate with the tribal council
200 elf archers
Lay the Bog Monster to rest
The Night Hunt
40 human infantry
Negotiating with the Alphatian governor
40 rakasta scouts
Chasing the Mountain Giant from the Rakasta Tribelands
20 dwarf guards
Saving the Syrrak Dwarves from the Undead Fomorian
Holding the Bugbear chief’s side after the ambush at the Old Fort
5 cloud giants
Obtaining the War Banner of the Giant King
Acquiring mercenaries is mostly a matter of money and time. Regarding cost, Vatski cavalry costs 4000 gold pieces to hire for the campaign, while Vrodniki infantry costs 2000 gold pieces. Raising this much gold in a short timeframe is the real challenge -- the units need to be mobilized at least 15 days before the battle.
This part of the adventure is very freeform -- there are many ways of collecting the necessary money. A few options are listed below:
Reward for other quests: if another part of the adventure is solved especially well, the interested party may put forward an extra payment towards the cost of mercenaries. This works particularly well for the Dwarven Mine quest, but could be applied also to any other, including the “Murder at the Bjarttandri” initial quest (in that case, the money could be part of the weregild paid by the Bugbear tribe). In general, such rewards should be in the range of 200 to 600 gold pieces per adventure.
Exploring ruins: this is an opportunity to add a straightforward treasure hunt to the adventure. You can use any suitable module, or even single encounters out of a given module, such as the various giant mounds from “King of the Giantdowns”.
Negotiation: the player characters can always try to squeeze more support from interested parties. The Alphatian governor, the Syrrak Dwarves, the Heldanner clans, and even the Elves are reasonable targets. Also, if the PCs are agents of a foreign power, they may appeal to their superiors for increased funds.
Piracy or theft: while leaving the Frodhulf vale region too long may be too risky, the PCs might learn of a specific shipment which could be stolen. The shipment may be part of enemy logistics (where the “enemy” depends on the initial motivations of the PCs). Alternately, this could be a good opportunity to run a short adventure in Landfall -- “The Big Score” from “FGAZ8 Streets of Landfall” would fit well.
The Lupin Tribes
To obtain the help of the Lupin tribes, the PCs need to negotiate with the Ulfthingi, the tribal council. The Lupin tribal council is not very different from the Thing of Frodhulf vale, except the Lupin chiefs are more aloof, and tend to distrust human and demihuman PCs. Armann Ofrhugi, Hinrik Raudhr, and Rurik Fedrjugr are the three most prominent chiefs2. The PCs need to persuade at least two of the three chiefs -- once two have been swayed, the others will follow suit.
Armann is a powerful fighter (F6, Barbarian kit), and respects most hunting and combat prowess. An especially strong PC fighter might challenge and defeat him in single (non-lethal) combat, but this is a risky strategy, since PCs are not on the same level as these NPCs. A more reliable strategy is for the party to hunt a powerful beast (e.g., a grizzly bear) to prove their worth.
Hinrik is a shaman. He will be impressed by knowledgeable and wise PCs. Challenging him to a contest of wits, and winning, will persuade him. Otherwise, the PCs will need to submit to an initiation ritual. The ritual (and the mix of magical substances imbibed or smoked during it) will send the party in a coma -- their bodies remain asleep, but their spirits are stranded in Limbo. The specific area of Limbo is, luckily, well-travelled, since most Lupins on a similar quest pass through it. PCs will just need to follow their tracks, and possibly avoid or fight off a Minion of Chaos before finding a monolith covered with carved runes, which will send them back to their bodies.
Rurik is a warrior, but also a merchant. Negotiating a favorable deal for his tribe’s cattle with the Alphatians will win him to the PCs’ cause, as will as straightforward bribe (300 gold pieces will suffice).
The Rakasta Tribes
The Rakasta tribes are at odds with the Mountain Giant, Hamarki, who lives near their territory. They want him chased off, but they are (unsurprisingly) not up to the task. They will try to trade their help in return for having the giant chased away.
This is obviously an impossible tasks for the low-level PCs. However, it is best if the PCs accept it -- otherwise, the Rakasta will not reveal the location of Hamarki’s cave, which is necessary to find the Syrrak Dwarves’ stronghold (see below).
When the PCs find Hamarki, they can either ignore the Rakasta’s request -- thus losing their help but gaining Hamarki’s help in finding the Dwarves -- or they can ask Hamarki to feign leaving the area for a while -- the giant will enormously enjoy tricking the Rakasta, and will readily agree to the idea. Finally, they could come up with some clever trick to persuade the Giant to leave -- Hamarki is relatively naif, and may fall for well designed plots (e.g., persuading him that Dominagon, the Blue Dragon, is moving into his territory to hunt him down).
The Bog Monster
The Bog Monster is a monstrous undead menace that has recently made itself known in the bogs north-west of Frodhulf Outpost. It has the form of a desiccated humanoid, tar black with sticky, dark red hair. The monster wields a broken longsword in his right hand, and has been known to attack also by gripping his opponents with its bare left hand.
The Bog Monster is actually a bog mummy, a rarely occurring type of ancient dead preserved by the oxygen-deprived environment of the bog. In life, it was a Shiye-Lawr elf, Prince Gaernil, son of King Drushiye. He commanded an Alphatian invasion force at the Battle of Frodhulf Creek two centuries ago. His forces were pushed into the bog by the combined efforts of the southern Heldanner jarls and the Heldann shepherd lupin clans.
The Alphatian commander, seeing his forces outmatched, had sent for the Skaufskogr elves’ help, hoping to turn the tables against the Heldanner alliance. The Skauskogr elves, however, only offered Prince Gaernil safe passage through their lands, provided that he left Norwold with his army. Gaernil, in his rage, turned back their offer, and was relentlessly driven by the Heldanners into the bog with his army. The Alphatian Prince died fighting, his broken sword in hand, and cursing the elves that had wronged him.
Gaernil’s body drowned into the bog, where the chemical composition of the soil preserved it, turning it into a leathery, desiccated husk, which remained dormant for two centuries. When Harak’s orcs entered the bog searching for the ogress wokan’s treasure, they disturbed the uneasy rest of Prince Gaernil, who returned as the Bog Monster.
Prince Gaernil of Shiye-Lawr, the Bog Monster3
Accidental, restless, withered, humanoid III Rank Mummy, NE (formerly Male Elf Fighter 10/Wizard 8, TN)
Str 18/00; Int 14; Wis 10; Dex 7; Con NA; Cha 3.
Special Abilities: cannot be harmed by weapons of less than +2 enchantment; Elemental immunity: Cold/Water; Elemental resistance: Earth; Rejuvenation: 6 HP/hour, needs to rest 1 day before and 1 day after rejuvenating, dies at -10 HP; Mummy rot fatal in 1d12 weeks; Fear 1d10 rounds, -3 saves; Infravision 90’; Cause Horror check on sight.
Salient Powers: Create Undead (1st rank bog mummies), Weightlessness (1st rank, but can move unhindered through swamps).
Vulnerabilities: can be damaged by Essurian weapons; Allergen (Fascination): Imperial Alphatian sigil or banner (1d8 rounds, saves at -2); Allergen (Repulsion) Skaldic war chant; Bonded to the bog; Elemental Vulnerability: Fire; Holy Water inflicts 1d6 HP damage.
AC 3; HD 9; HP 45
Movement: 18, unhindered by water, mires, etc.
THAC0: 9; Dmg 2d8 or 1d4+6 broken longsword.
XP Value: 7000.
The Bog Monster is able to create other, less powerful, bog mummies. These “Bog Zombies” have been plaguing the Sirraen province for some weeks now, attacking the elves of the area. For this reason, the Skauskogr Foresthomes will not be able to provide assistance to the alliance, unless the Bog Monster is removed – either destroyed, or put to rest. On the other hand, the Bog Monster is also hampering Harak’s progress, so removing it will speed up the invasion.
Harak Red-Hand will take one full month to overcome the Bog Monster, assuming the PCs do nothing to put the Shiye prince at rest.
Invoked, withered, humanoid I Rank Mummy, Lawful Evil
HD 2 (9 HP); Movement 9; AC 7; THAC0 19; Dmg 1d8 or by weapon +4.
Special Abilies: immune to non-magical weapons, except cold iron or Essurian weapons; Elemental Immunity: Cold; Rejuvenation (takes 9-11 days to heal, dies at 0 HP); Touch attacks inflicts debilitating poison (-2 Con); Fear (no penalty, 1d4 rounds, causes -1 to attack and damage rolls); Infravision 30’.
Salient Powers: Not slowed by bogs.
Special Vulnerabilities: Allergen (Fascination): Imperial Alphatian sigil or banner (1d8 rounds, saves at -2); Allergen (Repulsion) Skaldic war chant; Bonded to the bog and the nearby region; Elemental Vulnerability: Fire; Holy Water inflicts 1d10 HP damage.
XP Value: 270.
The Dwarven Mine
This part of the adventure takes place in the Mountain Rakasta Tribelands. It starts whenever the PCs decide to investigate the disappearance of the Syrrak dwarves. The dwarves had a contract with the Lupin tribe led by Hinrik Raudhr to deliver weapons at this year’s Bjarttandri – a few days after the PCs arrive at Frodhulf Outpost.
There are a number of reasons why the PCs may wish to investigate this mystery – they might be asked by Hinrik, maybe in exchange for supporting the PCs’ side at the trial of Loskar the Betrayer, or as part of their initiation in Hinrik’s tribe. They might also investigate on their own, if they need weapons to supply their own army. Finally, the ghost of the Giant King might set the defeat of his Fomorian enemy as a condition to give the PCs his legendary War Banner.
The dwarves have been imprisoned/killed by an undead Fomorian, an evil giant of a past age. The problem is that no one knows where to find the dwarves, since their clan never revealed the mines’ location. Only Hamarki, a mountain giant loner, living at the top of the Final Range, knows the location. The Rakasta tribes can help finding the giant, but they dislike him, and want him chased out of the region (see The Rakasta Tribes above).
To describe the dwarven mine in full detail goes beyond the scope of this article. The author recommends using L3 Deep Dwarven Delve to model the Syrrak clanhold. Replace Orcs with an even mix of Goblins and Hobgoblins in the upper level, and replace the Dwarven cleric and devils on the last level with the Undead Fomorian and two controlled Dwarven wights. Finally, replace one of the magic items with the wolf’s teeth necklace of the Skars.
Circa 100 Syrrak dwarves survive, imprisoned by the Undead Fomorian, on the lowest level of the mine. If they are freed (even if the Undead Fomorian is not defeated), they will gladly join the alliance, providing a small dwarven unit. If the Undead Fomorian is defeated, they will also provide a contribution to hire mercenaries.
Invoked, dark pact, withered, monstrous III Rank Mummy, NE
Str 20, Int 12, Wis 10, Dex 7, Con N/A, Cha 3
Special Abilities: cannot be harmed by weapons of less than +2 enchantment. Elemental immunity: Cold; Elemental resistance: Lightning. Rejuvenation 6/hour, needs to rest 1 day before and 1 day after rejuvenating, dies at -10 HP; Disease: spasms to touched area, 10% chance per hour for 3-6 rounds; Fear 1d8 rounds, -2 saves, induces panic; Infravision 90'; Causes Horror check on sight.
Salient Powers: Curse of Vengeance; Command Undead as 16th level Cleric, up to 48 HD of undead; Passage (3/hour, up to 25').
Vulnerabilities: can be damaged by iron (not steel!) weapons; Elemental Vulnerability: Fire and Light; Allergen (Barrier): Dragon scales; Dependence: Spirit items (holy symbol of Skuld, must be within 1 mile to use Command Undead; shroud, must be within 1 mile to benefit from Lightning resistance); Holy Water inflicts 1d8 HP damage.
AC 3; HD 13; HP 60
Movement 9; (also, see the Passage salient power)
THAC0 9; Dmg 2d6+8 (Huge mace)
XP Value: .
The Barrow of the Giant King
Entering the Barrow in the Eastern Shepherd Tribelands, is needed to recover the Banner of the Giant King, an item of historical significance, but also of magical power. Displaying the Banner in battle will summon five Cloud Giants from nearby castles, who have inherited magical geas to serve (once only) the bearer of the banner in war.
The Barrow is not described in this article. See King of the Giantdowns for details on the barrow itself and the events that can take place there. Alternately, the barrow may hold only the tomb of the Giant King, but his ghost may prevent the PCs from removing the banner until they have destroyed the Undead Fomorian occupying the Syrrak Clanhold.
The Night Hunter
A Wolvenfolk Necromancer, Howls-in-the-Night (m,Lu/Wolvenfolk,Ne9,LN) has taken residence in an abandoned burial mound in the Eastern Shepherd Tribelands. He knows much about the mounds and the ancient giants, but may require services (fetching magic/old items from a mound) in exchange for information. The Necromancer is raising an undead army to face the orcish army of Harak.
Male Wolvenfolk Lupin, Savage Necromancer 9, Lawful Neutral
Str 13, Int 15, Wis 16, Dex 8, Con 15, Cha 12
Senses: Infravision 60’, Detect Werewolf 83%, Detect Invisible/Ethereal +2, Blind Fighting, Tracking Wis/3, Detect race by smell Int+2, Detect individual by smell Int-2, Detect Noise 39%, ST penalty vs. sound -1.
Special Abilities: resist death (Con), +2 penalty on reaction rolls, interpret omens 1/week.
THAC0: 18; Dmg: 1d6+1 or by weapon; HP: 30
Wpn Profs: Bite, Spear
NWP: Spirit Lore, 8; Necrology, 13; Hunting, 15; Local History: Skaufskogr, 12; Ancient History: Skaufskogr, 14; Healing, 13; Read/Write Essurian Runes, 16; Languages: Lupin (Native), Heldann (Native), Elven (Shiye, 15); Spellcraft, 13; Religion: Saimpt Loup, 16; Endurance, 15; Survival, 15; Direction Sense, 17.
XP Value: 4000.
The PCs may either meet Howls-in-the-Night when they barge into his barrow-home (probably while looking for the Barrow of the Giant King), or if his skeletons rescue them from another encounter – this latter event will happen only once, and is designed as a one-time party saver. Howl-in-the-Night’s skeletons may rescue the PCs from most other encounters, assuming they are able to enter the encounter area.
Act III: Resolution
In this last part of the adventure, the PCs are involved in the final battle between Harak’s Mengul Horde and the allied forces they have gathered. Depending on whether the PCs managed to defeat the Bog Monster, or Harak did it, the battle will take place on the banks of the Sirraen river, or on the banks of the Frodhulf creek. In the first case, the allied armies are on the offensive, otherwise, Harak is leading an assault towards Frodhulf Outpost -- and Midway Haven.
Table 2 reports the composition of the armies, and their statistics according to the Birthright War Cards system. It is worth noting that the smaller units will operate as a single unit (Birthright units account for companies of about 200 soldiers). If the PCs did not manage to get all the allies, then reduce the effectiveness of this mixed unit accordingly: if one small unit is missing, the mixed unit has only 2 hits. If there are only two small units, compute the stats as the average of the two, except movement which drops to the lowest value. Also, the unit has only 2 hits. If there is a single small unit, then the unit has only one hit and the listed statistics.
The PCs and the Cloud Giants, as well as any exceptional NPC (not counting the leaders of each unit), can be associated with any unit to provide bonuses. The presence of the cloud giants adds +1 to melee and ranged attack of any unit they are associated with. The PCs provide a +1 to morale, and can use their spells, if any, as per the standard rules.
If the allied armies win the day, the Orcs are forced to withdraw to the Skarsholm, if they were camped north and west of the Bog, or behind the Sirraen if they had already moved south and east. Depending on the surviving forces, different events can take place:
If the Bull’s Head Horde is routed, minor horde chiefs overthrow Harak and the Mengul Hordes break down. Some will return to the Mengul mountains, others will try to set up power bases in Lirovka’s Alps, and others will remain in the Skarsholm. However, the orcs will not be a major threat until a new leader emerges.
If the Bull’s Head Horde is not routed, and more than three other Orc units are available, Harak will attempt to seize the Old Fort. A second battle may ensue.
If the Bull’s Head Horde is not routed, but less than four other Orc units remain, Harak will retreat to the Skarsholm. He will be back in a few years, though, with greater forces.
If the Orcs win, then the allied forces scatter. The elves, rakasta, dwarves, and vatski and vrodnik forces flee to their home territories. The Alphatians withdraw to Midway Haven, while the Bugbears, if they survive, turn coat on the PCs and ally with Harak. The other forces, if they survive, remain under the control of the PCs, and must retreat to one of the adjacent territories (Lirovka’s Alps, the Heldann Shepherds Tribelands, or Midway Haven). They can attempt a comeback, although this will be doomed unless the PCs can gather more forces.
Table 2: Unit listing
Type and size
The Mengul Hordes
Bull’s Head Horde
40 Ogres, 160 Orcs infantry
200 Orc light infantry (4 units)
200 Orc archers (2 units)
Main allied units
400 human irregulars (2 units)
200 human cavalry
200 human heavy infantry
200 lupin scouts
200 elf archers
The Night Hunt
Small allied units
Mixed, see below
(statistics given here are for the mixed unit)
40 human infantry
40 rakasta scouts
20 dwarf guards
5 cloud giants
Giampaolo Agosta, “The Skaufskogr and Beyond”, Threshold Issue 7
Teeuwynn Woodruff, Van Richten’s Guide to the Created, TSR, 1994
Rich Baker and Colin McComb, Birthright Campaign Setting, TSR, 1995
Tim Beach and Bruce Heard, The Savage Coast Campaign Book, http://www.pandius.com/svge_cst.html , TSR, 1996
Ed Stark, King of the Giantdowns, TSR, 1997
Len Lakofka, L3 Deep Dwarven Delve, TSR, 1999
1See The Thing below
2See “The Skaufskogr and Beyond”, Threshold Magazine Issue 7, for more details on these NPCs.
3The AD&D rules for custom mummies can be found in Van Richten’s Guide to the Created, later collected in the Van Richten’s Monster Hunter Compendium, volume I.
4The AD&D rules for custom mummies can be found in Van Richten’s Guide to the Created, later collected in the Van Richten’s Monster Hunter Compendium, volume I.