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The Vineyard Vales

by Pol Ginés

This weekend I DMed this 1990 Dungeon Magazine adventure, "The Vineyard Vales", which is remarcable for:

1) being full of a usually useless and stupid monster, the giant locusts
2) being a BECMI and Mystara adventure in Dungeon Magazine, fully developed in Soderfjord

It is a good short adventure (2 sessions of 3-4 hours), that the DM can make longer if wished. I played it nearly as written, simply adding more locusts and Sling Skilled Weapon Mastery to lizard-men shamans. We also had a great battle of friend mercenaries and PCs ambushed by lizardmen in the swamp.

PCs: the Panzón Brothers, Tongo (Halfling 7) and Bingo (Halfling 5); Chin Borra, cleric of Faunus and his club-jar (Cl3, Strength18); Marmorin the Dwarf (lvl 6). Without elf, without magic, without magic objects... they lost all in their last disastrous adventure against kobolds. They went to this mission to pay part of their debts.

The halflings went to the last dungeon early in the morning and had good listening checks; somebody inside the building was speaking Nordic and learning spells from a book. They returned to report to the party.

But then a black dragon came from the dungeon, 12 lizarmen came, the dragon flew and spotted the heroes and all the lizards attacked.

The lizard shamans cast Hold Person and the halfling and dwarf, the best fighters, failed their very easy saving throws! It looked bad for the cleric and the other halfling.

As a DM I was thinking about some friendly warriors coming to save them, as they had simply very bad luck. But then the cleric of Faunus shouted: "I defy you, oh dragon, as per the ancient rules of ritual fighting". He suspected that the dragon should be a polimorphed wizard, as he did not use his breath weapon.

The wizard did not want to fight but the lizardmen shamans insisted that this was the "way of the dragon".

The cleric was very lucky in the fighting: the dragon rolled a 1, while the cleric hit him twice and very strong (St18, +1 club, Skilled; 1d6+5 damage; inflicted 11 and 10 hp), killing the false dragon that became a human dead body (with a +2 ring, a great treasure as the party lost all their magic objects in previous adventures).

The lizardmen understood they had been used by a "mammal witch" and went home deep into the swamp. The party were victorious in the last moment! My sons (17 and 12 years old) enjoyed the victory after their previous defeats in other adventures; they needed moral!

They still have to pay half their debts with another mission, and after that they can look for the 2 members of the team they left charmed by a vampire... they suspect they are alive, as living minions are useful for vampires.