A Note to the DM
This adventure is designed for an adventuring group with a total party level of 12. That is, it would be suitable for 6 players of level 2, or 4 players of level 3, and so on. It is essential to keep this point in mind, as some of the encounters presented herein could be difficult for lower-level characters. Another cautionary note is that, as the main opponents to the party are wererats, the PCs will require weapons made from red steel or silver, or have enchanted weapons. You should ensure that they either have such weapons before running this adventure, or provide them with a means of obtaining them early on.
A series of bizarre disappearances are troubling the authorities of Alfheim Town. Young adults have vanished in the vicinity of various enclaves, and tensions are rising as each minority within the town finds it all too easy to blame others for what is happening. Some street fighting has occurred, and the town guard is at a loss as to what to do, because each group sees official intervention as aiding the other side. The PCs are hired by Taragin Oakbranch to find out how these young people are disappearing, and why. No bodies have yet been found of any of the missing persons.
A group of wererats have moved into town. The wererats have taken up residence in a derelict building near the orcish enclave, and are using it as their base of operations. They are the ones who are abducting people, and later killing them. They have come to Alfheim from Corunglain, where they made their living by stealing from the wealthy (and getting rid of anyone who stood in their way) while they mapped out the sewer system beneath the city to provide an easy entry for raiding humanoids from the Broken Lands. The authorities began to find out what was happening, and the wererats fled the city.
During the past month, the wererats have filtered into Alfheim Town, and have made connections with the Second Shadow to help the shadow elves take over the town. They seek to incite chaos and racial tensions by abducting and killing youths of various races, often near the enclave of another race or ethnic group with whom there are disputes. They hope that the situation will deteriorate enough that Alfheim Town will be an easy conquest when the shadow elf invasion finally comes. They are also bolstering their number by converting the less savoury humans they catch into wererats, like themselves. In exchange for these acts, they hope the Second Shadow will reward them appropriately. The Second Shadow does not know what the wererats are actually doing, only that they are trying to incite chaos.
There are a total of 18 wererats housed in a two-story structure just west of the orcish enclave, a house that was abandoned two years ago. They have dug out a cellar, where they keep a large share of the loot they have accumulated, as well as the bodies of their victims. This cellar can only be accessed by prying loose some floorboards in one of the rooms. Most of the wererats sleep during the day, and prowl the darker alleys at night in search of lone youths to abduct. So far, they have stuck to killing lower-class individuals wandering in or near the enclave of another race or nationality, but before long they will set their sights on killing more prominent citizens, especially if they think that the shadow elf invasion will come soon. The wererats are led by Rudifer, the most powerful lycanthrope in the group. He is a ruthless opportunist who will stop at nothing to enrich himself, even to the extent of betraying his own underlings if the need arises.
The Trouble in Town
The PCs will not be able to openly investigate the disappearances. Taragin Oakbranch and his town guard have no idea why these people are disappearing, nor do any other prominent figures. Asking questions around Ambassadors' Row will only raise eyebrows, as the various embassies try to determine whether a rival is paying the adventurers in order to uncover information that could tip the balance in political influence one way or the other. Likewise, asking the leaders of the various communities will solve nothing, as each group is too busy blaming the others to co-operate, and PCs will only hear misguided rants about how the dwarves, halflings, elves, humans, orcs, or other groups are the source of everyone's problems. The events below can be used to illustrate to the PCs how urgent it is that they find out who is responsible for the disappearances. These can be played in any order:
Once these, or other, events have been played out, it should become clear to the PCs that something needs to be done soon, or Alfheim Town will explode into violence.
The above events should all happen during the first two days of the scenario, though this is not completely necessary. The PCs need to be present for each of these events, especially the second one, so that the wererats will realize what someone is trying to foil their plans (though the PCs should not yet know of the wererats). As such, the second event should be used as soon as the PCs venture into the city for any reason, in order to draw them into the web of intrigue.
If, for whatever reason, the PCs have not encountered any of the above events by the end of the first two days, run the "Abduction" scenario below, which occurss during the second night. If the PCs have experienced all the encounters, run the "Night Attack" scenario instead. Of course, if you want the PCs to have extra clues, run both scenarios.
This encounter should be run on the second night of the PCs' stay in Alfheim Town, though it can take place any night. The PCs should have no warning as to what is about to happen. The events that lead to this encounter are simple - if the PCs foiled the wererat agitator's attempt to incite a mob, this assault will be in retaliation for interfering with the wererats' plans. The foul group of lycanthropes have been spying on the PCs since that first encounter, and have determined where they are staying. If the PCs did not take part in that encounter, then the reason for the attack is that the wererats' attention was drawn to the PCs because of their apparent power. They believe the PCs, being adventurers, to possess significant amounts of treasure and magical items, which could aid the wererats in their own activities. In either case, the wererats feel that, by sending a group of five against the PCs in the dead of night, the advantage will be theirs.
The wererats' statistics are as follows:
Wererat thugs (5): AC 7, HD 3*, MV 120' (40'), hp 20, 18, 14, 17, 22, Dmg 1d6 (short sword) or 1d6 (hand axe), SV F3, ML 8, AL C, XP 50 each.
The basic attack plan is to scale the outside of the building in which the PCs are staying, jimmy open the window, and silently creep inside one by one. If possible, the wererats will try to slit the throats of the PCs while they sleep. Even if the PCs did not maintain a watch of any sort, you should secretly give each PC a chance to hear the wererats open the window and creep into the room. Make two Hear Noise rolls for each PC thief (one roll for opening the window, and one for entering the room), and one d6 roll for each non-thief PC, with a result of 1 meaning that the PC in question hears the wererats. If one of the PCs was awake, then he/she will be able to react normally. How well the PCs can fight back will depend on how many heard the wererats. If none of them make their rolls, try to ensure that at least one or two PCs hear the creatures anyway - otherwise the party will be killed. Keep in mind that, since they were sleeping, the PCs will likely not be armoured, and so their AC scores will be much higher than normal. Unless a light is turned on, the room will be very dark, as well, forcing all human PCs to fight with a -2 penalty due to the lack of sufficient light. Keep in mind any bonuses for the wererats attacking prone PCs, who are waking up.
The battle should be conducted normally, though the noise caused by the fighting will attract the innkeeper and two helpers in 2d6 rounds. Bystanders will not participate in the fight. Upon seeing the scene, the innkeeper will likely have many pointed questions to ask, as will the town guard, once news of the fight spreads. If the PCs are truthful, nothing more will come of this, and the guard will promise to investigate the matter. Should the PCs gain the upper hand quickly, or should more than three wererats die in the fighting, the remainder will try to flee by running to the window and jumping to the street below. They will then sprint away into the darkness. Should the PCs manage to capture any of the attackers, they may try to interrogate him, in which case you may provide them with some of the information given in "Testimony", below.
Finally, the above encounter assumes the PCs are given one large room to share. If they are split into several rooms, the wererats will still know where the PCs are staying, and will divide their group up so that they can roughly equal the number of PCs in each room. Otherwise, the battle continues as given above. You should also remember to reduce the total number of wererats by the amount that the PCs capture and/or kill.
This event can be used during any night while the PCs are going through this adventure, though the first or second nights are the best. There are two ways that this scenario can be run: while the PCs are walking the streets at night, or while they are indoors.
The PCs are walking the streets:
If the PCs are wandering the streets at night (either looking for clues, or just on a stroll), they will suddenly hear the sounds of rushing footsteps coming from a side street. If they look for the source of the noise, they will see a young man, apparently human, running wildly and breathing hard. Not far behind him are three cloaked figures (wererats in human form), who are pursuing him silently. If the PCs do nothing, the young man will be overtaken, surrounded, and dragged off screaming. The town guard will not arrive in time.
If the PCs try to intervene, two of the wererats will engage them in combat while the third continues pursuit. If the PCs do not manage to deal with the wererats after three rounds of battle, the other wererat will have caught the youth, and rendered him unconscious. If this happens, the PCs will not be able to find any trace of the wererat or the victim (the wererat carried the unconscious victim away, and managed to leave no discernable tracks).
If the PCs manage to finish off the two wererats, they can still see the third one and the victim, and they may pursue them. The wererat will then try to lose the PCs. To determine if he manages to conceal his tracks, compare Tracking skill rolls from the PCs and the wererat (the wererat's skill is 15). If the wererat makes a successful check by a wider margin, or if the PCs fail their check, they will lose track of their quarry. If the PCs succeed, they will be able to find the wererat's trail (he will always be just out of sight). This wererat, because he is encumbered by the victim, is moving at 90' (30') - he is wearing a girdle of giant strength.
This contest of Tracking skills is rolled every round, until the PCs lose (in which case the wererat gets away), or when three rounds in total have passed, after which four more wererats will attack the PCs by firing at them with light crossbows from behind (the wererats always have escape plans, and know ways to draw pursuers into ambushes). They will keep firing until the PCs give up pursuit and engage them, which will then give the fleeing wererat enough time to cover his trail. Should the PCs continue their pursuit, it is more than likely that they will sprout crossbow bolts from their backs. In any case, the PCs should not be able to catch the fleeing wererat, though they might come close. This whole encounter is to show that an unseen force is at work in Alfheim Town, and that it is dangerous.
The PCs are indoors:
The PCs can be anywhere they wish to be; it does not matter. Wherever they are, they suddenly hear a shout of alarm. If they are in a quiet room, they can also hear the sounds of running footsteps and muffled curses. Should the PCs look outside, the will see the scene as given above. The only difference is that the PCs are indoors (unless they went outside to look), and this will give the wererats an extra round or two to lose any pursuit. Should the PCs pursue the wererats, run the scene as given above.
This episode, no matter how it is run, is designed to show the PCs that something evil is at work in Alfheim Town. Under no circumstances should they be able to catch the fleeing wererat, though every opportunity should be given for them to get a good look at the captive. Also, the PCs might be able to get a rough idea as to where the wererat was heading, as the one carrying the captive will be heading to the hideout, though in a roundabout way.
DM Note: Should the PCs devise an ingenious manner in which to apprehend the kidnapper and rescue the victim, by all means let them do so. It would be a just reward for their teamwork and imagination. If they merely try to pursue, however, throw various obstacles in their way, as above, to slow them down enough so that the wererat escapes.
If the PCs manage to capture a wererat during the attempted abduction or the night attack, they might be able to extract some useful information from him regarding his fellows. The only information he gives freely is his name, Rannik, and that of his leader, Rudifer. A successful interrogation will supply the PCs with information. Choose randomly from the following answers, depending on the type of questions the PCs ask, and how successful the interrogation was. It is strongly recommended that you roleplay the interrogation. Those with an "F" are false.
DM Note: Rannik is a nasty character, but essentially a weakling, psychologically. As long as he thinks he will come out of this alive, he will threaten the PCs, and otherwise tell them that his companions will "finish 'em off." If the PCs proved themselves to be tough fighters, and especially if they defeated the wererats quickly, Rannik will act in a cowardly manner, though he will still lie if he thinks it will save his life.
The Hunt Begins
Armed with the information obtained in the "Testimony" above, the PCs can begin their hunt for the wererats in earnest; go to "Entering the Hideout," below.
If the PCs were not successful in interrogating the wererat, or if they did not capture him alive, they will have to find their own way of locating the hideout. One way of doing this is to wait for another abduction attempt, to try to capture a wererat. This is a tricky proposition, primarily because the wererats now know that someone is looking for them. As a result, they will lay low for one week. Once this week has passed, however, they will attempt to abduct a lone traveler during the evening. If this happens, run the abduction scene in a similar manner to the one given above, except that the PCs should be allowed to catch the fleeing wererats, even if they simply chase them. If the PCs do manage to catch a wererat, and if they have not done so before, run the "Testimony" scene given above, to allow the PCs to gain the information they need. Once the PCs have gained the required information, proceed to "Entering the Hideout," below.
This adventure and all related material copyright 1999, Geoff Gander. All rights reserved. Used by permission.