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TC2: The Stone and the Maidens

by Robert J. Nuttman, Jr.

Trigger: The Baron's Trap
“Yes,” Baron Halaran says, motioning for quiet. “Yes, I know we must stop these creatures. But in order to do that, we must learn what they are. I have a plan, to lure one of these creatures out, but I will need strong arms to hold the creature after it takes the bait. We do not want to kill it if we do not have to. Once it enters the barn, you will secure it with the nets, and subdue it if possible. I can provide some spell scrolls to aid you, but I regret that I cannot be there personally. I have to be on hand here at Tarnskeep to ensure that the people and livestock are safe.” He glances around the table. “Three teams,” he says, pointing to the three furthest farmsteads marked on the map of Threshold. “I can spare a handful of men apiece, but if these creatures are immune to normal good steel, I’m afraid you will be on your own. If you have no further questions, Sergeant Arthol will distribute what aid I am able to provide.”

The baron’s aid consists of a scroll of Protection from Evil, 10’ radius, Bless, and Hold Person, as well as a clutch of 4 potions of healing. In addition, he gives a member of the party a net of entanglement (imposes a -2 penalty to the victim's Save vs. Death Ray to avoid becoming ensnared.)

The PCs are assigned the Littau farm, as it sits farthest from the town’s walls, but has enough buildings to hide several groups of guards out of plain sight.

One of the baron’s cows has been left in the southern barn. The western pair of doors have been removed.

The stone dryad takes the bait, scuttling into the barn shortly after midnight. If the PCs have taken precautions (hiding themselves in the stalls or in the loft above, staying quiet) they gain surprise on 1 in 3 on 1d6. Regardless of whether or not they hit with the net, the creature lets out a grating scream (which serves to summon 1d6 more of its kind in 2d4 rounds).

After 4 rounds, whether they have managed to subdue the creature or not, the PCs will hear the guards shouting, trying to break down very door they'd told the family to bar from the inside. Something is attacking the family inside the house! (3 rounds to run (@90’ per round) from barn to building 7, which is ~240’ from the barn)

If the PCs go to their aid, they face 1d6 more stone dryads approaching the other cottages and outbuildings. If they stay inside the barn, the same 1d6 stone dryads surround that building.

Inside the Littau cottage, they find the family, scared, scratched, but unbitten.

The creature burst from Magda’s room, careened through the house, and then retreated, escaping through the window of the eldest Littau girl’s room.

A PC with the Tracking general skill can tell that only one set of tracks departed the room -- the creature would have to have been carrying Magda when it made its escape. The tracks lead west, towards the Blackstone Heath.

In the initial encounter, Stone Dryads will flee after losing 50 percent of their hit points.

Stone Dryad, Lesser
Armor Class 4
Hit Dice 4***
Move 90’ (30’)
Flying 150’ (50’)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite + gaze
Damage: 1-3/1-3/1-4 + special (see below)
# Appearing 1-6 (2-8)
Save As: Fighter: 8
Morale: 11
Treasure Type: C
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 225

Stone dryads are a special sub-class of gargoyle, something thought to have originated in the days of Blackmoor. It is unclear whether they are a result of some sort of powerful curse, or experimentation by the Egg of Coot, the Wizard’s Cabal, or perhaps even the Technomages of Blackmoor University.

Like gargoyles, they are magical monsters, and can only be hit with magical weapons. They appear to be fashioned of stone, fangled, clawed, and winged, but unlike gargoyles, their aspect is one of unearthly beauty, with eyes of emerald or sapphire and teeth of ivory. First sight of one of these creatures requires a Save vs Paralysis or the victim is struck by as if by a cause fear spell: 50% chance of dropping anything held, and fleeing at full speed for 2 turns, or cowering and unable to face the creature if running away is not possible). This only applies to the first time one of these creatures is seen, and succeeding in the Saving Throw or encountering another creature (or the same one) has no further fearful effect. A -2 penalty applies to the save/ if the creature is seen under the light of a full moon.

Those meeting the sapphire or emerald gaze of a stone dryad must Save vs Spells or be stunned. The stone dryad then attacks victims thus affected first, attempting to incapacitate them further. Once saved against, the PC cannot be affected by the stunning gaze for the remainder of the combat.

Victims losing half their hit points or more to the stone dryad’s bite attack may contract the Stone Maiden’s curse: while their wounds may be healed normally, unless they have Remove Curse cast on them, they turn to stone on the first night of the full moon, bursting forth as as either gargoyles (if male) or stone dryads (if female) the second night.

Non-sentient creatures attacked by stone dryads merely turn to stone.

Stone dryads’ treasure can only be gained if they are slain under the light of the full moon. Upon reaching 0 hit points, the creatures crumble to dust, leaving behind an exquisitely cut emerald or sapphire worth 500 gold pieces.

On Thorn’s Mystara, these stones are much more valuable, having a 3 percent chance of actually being a Green or Blue dragonstone.

Act 1 consists of the pursuit of the Stone Dryad, if the one from the barn escapes, or the PCs track the one that fled the Littau farmhouse. Either way, they are led across the Blackstone Heath, to an old stone circle, and thence, a Traldar burial mound... beneath which is found the secret of the Stone Maidens.

Act 2 involves visiting a reclusive sage the baron has had occasion to consult. The sage, of course, does not work for free....