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What Lurks Within, continued




Entering the Hideout

This is the final scene in the adventure. By now, the PCs should have interrogated at least one wererat, and gained enough information to know where the hideout is located. Although the PCs can try to attack the hideout at any time, they should attack in the evening, about two hours after sundown. At any other time, most of the wererats will be skulking about the city, and thus very difficult to track down. Also, by this time the PCs are known to every wererat, and they will try to avoid detection by any means necessary; their gathering time at the hideout is the best time to attack them all at once, and possibly eliminate them. The wererats feel secure in their hideout; they will not expect to be attacked.

If the PCs attack the hideout during the day, they will find only seven wererats within; the remainder are going about their business in the city. If they stay at the hideout, they can try to ambush the wererats as they return, but they will probably not be very successful. This is because the wererats have a system of codes and visual cues that will let the others know something is amiss. To an observing PC, the wererat will approach the hideout, pause, and then nonchalantly turn away, picking up speed as they move further away. Before nightfall, word will spread to the other wererats as to what has happened, and they will discretely leave Alfheim Town, resurfacing somewhere else a month later.

If the PCs attack two hours after sundown, play out the scenario below. Room descriptions and other notes are also provided.


Description of the Hideout

The building occupied by the wererats is a dilapidated, two-story, square building sitting just outside the western fringes of the orcish enclave. Its walls are of cracked grey stone - small piles of rubble are present around the building, evidence of a lack of maintenance. The clay tiles of the roof are covered with moss, and sagging in several places. The windows all seem to be intact, but they are filthy - almost opaque. Some of them are also slightly ajar, and the occasional breeze moves them back and forth, their hinges squeaking loudly. Several piles of refuse are dot the area - the orcs living across the street in the enclave sometimes dump their garbage here. The smell is quite disgusting. The ground floor windows are boarded up, and the door, though badly cracked and battered, seems sturdy.

Getting Inside

The front door of the wererats' hideout is locked, though an inspection of the lock itself (a simple Intelligence check will suffice) shows that there is no rust around the mechanism - evidence that it has been used recently. Although the door is locked, a normal Open Locks roll is sufficient to unlock it. The door opens silently. An alternative is to try to batter it down, in which case a combined strength of 28 is required to force it open. You should note that if the PCs try the latter strategy, the wererats will hear the noise, and will be waiting for them. Those that are described as sleeping will only pretend to do so, in this case.

Layout

The building occupied by the lycanthropes is square in shape, measuring about 30 feet long on each side. The exterior walls are each about one foot thick, while those of the interior are about four inches thick, and made of plaster over a wooden frame. In fact, the interior walls are so shabby that any attack against them (AC 7) doing more than five points of damage will smash a hole in them! Unless otherwise noted, all rooms have eight-foot ceilings.


1. Empty Room
Peeling plaster and rotting wood greets your vision as you cross the threshold into this derelict building. Patches of mold dot the walls, and through a filmy front window, feeble light pours in from the street outside, casting faint traceries of light around the dust-laden, battered objects in this room - a broken chair, a pile of mouldering leather, and what appears to be tiny bone fragments. A warped doorframe, its door long since fallen from its hinges, opens into another room to the south. Numerous footprints dot the floor of this room, clearing a path in the dust towards the doorway.



There is nothing of interest in this room. The bones are of mice, dead for many years. The footprints belong to the wererats, who of course use the front door to enter and leave their hideout. The doorway leads south into the kitchen (Room 2, below).


2. Kitchen
Dust and grime dominate this rather large room, which clearly was once a kitchen. The center of the room is occupied by a large counter, the thick layer of dust on its surface failing to obscure the numerous gashes and gouges from the days when meat was carved upon it. Along the wall to your left, barrels form an erratic line. Some of them are clearly empty, but others remain sealed. Along the southern wall, across from the doorway through which you passed, a large hearth stands, smouldering logs filling it. Overhead, a wrought-iron candelabra hangs from the ceiling, its candles long since burned low. A closed door stands in the west wall.



The door in the west wall leads to the Lounge (Room 3), and is unlocked. The barrels along the east wall are all empty except for the third one from the hearth, which contains watery, but passable, ale. Occasionally, the wererats will drink here. The wererats in Room 3 are aware of the PCs (unless their noises are masked by spells such as silence, 15' radius), but will not attack them until the PCs enter their room, preferring to ambush them.


3. Lounge
This dilapidated room was obviously some sort of parlour or lounge, as the decorations and furniture that still remain speak of a small measure of elegance and comfort. A battered table, measuring roughly seven feet long and two feet wide, stands in the southeastern corner of the room, under which are two broken chairs. In the west wall are two grimy windows, their surfaces so dirty that only feeble rays of light come in from outside. In the northwestern corner, a winding staircase leads upstairs. You also notice that numerous trails of footprints are visible through the dust covering the floor, some of them very recent. Your attention, however, is drawn to the four figures creeping out of the shadows towards you...



There is nothing of value in this room. The staircase leads upstairs to the Empty Room (Room 4). Under the disused dining table, the broken chairs conceal a trapdoor leading down to the cellar (Room 8), which is reached by a rickety ladder that will not break. The PCs' more immediate concern is the group of wererats, whose statistics are below:

Wererats (4): AC 7, HD 3*, MV 120' (40'), hp 24, 13, 15, 17, Dmg 1d6 (short sword) or 1d6 (hand axe) or 1d8+1 (bastard sword), SV F3, ML 8, AL C, XP 50 each.
Each wererat carries 2d6 gp and 3d8 sp. Two are armed with short swords, one carries a hand axe, and the remaining one wields a bastard sword (two-handed). If more than two of them die in one round of combat, one of them will shout an alarm, alerting the other wererats upstairs. If this happens, the wererats cannot be surprised by the PCs.


4. Empty Room
Large piles of dust gather in the darkened corners of this small room, but in most places the worn floorboards are clearly visible, their surfaces smoothed by the passage of many feet. In the northwest corner, a staircase leads downwards, while in the south wall, an open doorway opens into the rest of this floor. In the north wall, a tiny circular window, its surface caked with grime and dust, permit almost no light to enter. In one corner, a tiny wooden box sits forgotten in the shadows.



There is nothing of interest in this room. The tiny box is covered with faded writing, and is locked, though a normal Open Locks roll will succeed in opening it. The box itself is empty, but does serve as a red herring to divert the PCs' interest for a time. Should a PC try to read the faded writing, a half Intelligence check is required. If successful, the PC will be able to make out "...sake Box, Property of Agatha Ersk..., Aged 12, Alfheim To..., Alf...." - it was a keepsake box, belonging to Agatha Erskine, a young girl who lived in Alfheim Town around AC 982. When her family moved away, the box was left behind, forgotten. Of course, the PCs may read more into it than is actually there.


5. Bedroom
This room was obviously once a fine bedroom. Tattered, filmy curtains barely conceal the almost opaque windows in the west wall, and a dusty, threadbare carpet covers the creaking floorboards. Dominating the room is what was once a splendid four-poster bed, now caved-in - a jumbled mass of splintered wood and moldy linen. Several sets of footprints are visible in the dust covering the floor, and a shadowy figure lies in repose on the bed. The only visible exit is east, into the hallway.



There is nothing of value in this room. The figure on the bed is one of the wererats. If the alarm has been sounded in the Lounge (Room 3), or if the PCs broke down the front door, this wererat will only be pretending to sleep, and will spring into action if any PC comes within five feet of her. If this happens, she moves so quickly that she gets a free attack before anyone can react. She also shouts out an alarm, alerting the other wererats on this floor, who will converge on the PCs in two rounds. The wererat's statistics are as follows:

Wererat: AC 6, HD 3*, MV 120' (40'), hp 20, Dmg 1d8+1, SV F3, ML 8, AL C, XP 50.
She carries 4 pp in a pouch on her belt, and wields a normal sword +1.


6. Bedroom
This room appears to have been the main bedroom of this house. A large double bed takes up the southern portion of this room, its posts framing a large window opening onto the streets below. As with the other rooms you have seen, dust covers almost every surface of this room. A battered dresser stands in the northeast corner, and the west wall is dominated by moldy piles of linen. A large form lies on the bed, and you see several other forms in the corners of the room.



The large wererat on the bed is Rudifer, and the others are the remaining wererats in the group. You should determine beforehand how many wererats are left from the original 18 - deduct those captured or killed in the night attack, the attempted abductions, and the encounters on the ground floor. If the PCs forced open the front door, or if an alarm was raised in the Lounge (Room 3), then the occupants of this room will only be pretending to sleep, and will attack the PCs as soon as they approach any of them. If the wererat in the other bedroom (Room 5) raised an alarm, then these wererats will be attacking the PCs in that room. Rudifer's, and the wererats', statistics are as follows:

Rudifer: AC 4 (ring of protection +2 plus Dex. Bonus), HD 6*, MV 120' (40'), hp 38, Dmg 1d8+1, SV F6, ML 10, AL C, XP 500.
Rudifer wields a normal sword +1, and wears a ring of protection +2 on his left hand. Concealed in a hidden compartment in the heel of his right boot is a folded piece of parchment, upon which is written a list of potential kidnapping targets. The names of those who have already been kidnapped are crossed out. He also carries the key to the dresser. Rudifer is basically a bully. He is big, ugly, and used to throwing his weight around. In combat, he will taunt the PCs, and he is overconfident in battle - he never tries to defend himself.

Wererats: AC 7, HD 3*, MV 120' (40'), hp 15-20, Dmg 1d6 (short sword) or 1d6 (hand axe), SV F3, ML 8, AL C, XP 50 each.
Each wererat carries 1d6 gp, 2d8 sp, and 3d6 cp on his person.

There is nothing of value in the debris scattered along the west wall. The dresser is locked, and is trapped with a crude poison needle (save vs. Poison at -1 or take 1d12 points of damage). Inside is a small sack containing 12 gp, 24 ep, 32 sp, and 97 cp - the money carried by previous victims. Also hidden in the dresser is a thin gold ring (worth 85 gp), a fine quality dagger (worth 15 gp), and a pair of silver earrings with tiny sapphires (worth 112 gp).

Under the bed is a tiny wooden chest, which is locked. The key is hidden in the cellar (Room 8). This chest is not trapped. The lock is very complicated; Open Locks rolls have a penalty of -30% applied against them. The chest contains 20 pp, 40 gp, 67 sp, and two tiny emeralds (worth 40 gp each). This is Rudifer's personal treasure.


7. Privy
This filthy room is obviously the privy. A small hole is in the floor in the southeastern corner of the room.



There is nothing of interest here.


8. Cellar
Faint light filters downwards from the ground floor above, and the reek of decay assails your nostrils! Scattered about the earthen floor of this cellar are decomposing bodies, some mangled beyond recognition. Many of the corpses bear signs of tooth marks, as though they have been gnawed. Furtive squeaks erupt around you, as you see several darting forms scurry away.



There are 12 bodies in total down here, all in varying states of decomposition. Aside from the PCs, the only living things down here are normal rats. The cellar has nothing of value, though the key to the tiny chest in Room 6 is here, buried in the southwestern corner of the room. The PCs must search the cellar for at least three turns in order to find it, and even then at least one PC must roll a 1 on 1d6.



The Ring is Broken

Once Rudifer's cabal of wererats has been defeated, Alfheim Town can begin the long process of improving relations between the many races living within its walls. Once word of the PCs' victory spreads, both Taragin Oakbranch and King Doriath will invite them to a state dinner, as a measure of thanks. The PCs will also be made Heroes of Alfheim, and will always be welcome to the city. So momentous is the occasion that a day of celebration is called in the PCs' honour. Through it all, though, a sombre note is maintained, in recognition of the fact that so many innocents have suffered at the hands of the wererats.

For completing this adventure, award the PCs a bonus of 100 experience points each, on top of that earned for slaying the wererats. If they assist the victims' families in reclaiming the bodies, and burying them, award them an extra 50 experience points each for doing the honourable thing. Finally, if the PCs return the stolen treasures to the victims' families, award them the experience points they would have gained for keeping them, plus a 10% bonus.

As a final note, remember that the PCs have no conclusive evidence that Rudifer's gang was involved with the Second Shadow; only Rudifer knew of the organization's existence, and the others only knew that they dealt with "pale elves" on occasion. This adventure could serve as a springboard for a prolonged conflict with the Second Shadow itself, once that organization learns that its allies on the surface have been destroyed.




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Copyright 1999, Geoff Gander. Used by permission. All rights reserved.