This is a beginning adventure for 3 to 4 Woodland Warriors characters. It assumes that the characters haven’t met each other. Modify the introduction if this is not the case. At least one character should be a scout. If the party doesn’t have one, Prioress Noona can assign one to accompany the party. GMs must judge if the opposition will challenge or overwhelm their group and adjust accordingly. Rolf Pebblebonnet (a raccoon rouge who plays a part in the tale), can always find his courage and join the fray if the GM needs to help the characters out of a fight.
Hawser Nodberry is a mouse grain merchant from Stormhollow. A somewhat sly character, Hawser dabbles in smuggling and other shady dealings. Recently, he came across an old treasure map. He agreed to sell it to Rolf Pebblebonnet, a raccoon rogue, promising Pebblebonnet that he’d bring it with him on his next trip to Stonewell Village. The merchant never made it though. Ambushed on the road by rat bandits in the employ of Haashaat, poor Hawser is now being slowly digested by the terrible serpent. (Yep, I read Mouseguard.)
The characters are called in by the Prioress Noona to help find the missing grain merchant. Along the way they may run into Rolf and learn of his treasure map. With luck and courage, they will defeat Haashaat and his rat goons making the area safer for all the kind.
Introduction: A Meeting with the Prioress
The Prioress Noona requests the presence of the party’s friar.
She pours you a cup of your favorite hazelnut tea and begins.
“Dear girl, how are you?”
“How goes the training?”
“You have the makings of a fine friar. I’ve been keeping my eye on you, my dear. You have an adventurous soul, much like myself in my youth.” She smiles, looking a little wistful.
“Well.” She says straightening. “I didn’t call you in here to ruminate on the past, did I? A mouse grain merchant by the name of Hawser Nodberry has gone missing. He was to deliver a wagon of barley to us three days ago. Without it, we shan’t be able to brew our famous nut brown ale this fall. I’ve had word that he set out from Stormhollow, but he never reached us. The roads have become more dangerous of late and I fear he’s fallen prey to outlaws or some other mischief. I want you to find him.
“There are some creatures in town who can help you on your quest. [Describe the other player characters.] You’ll find them down at the Mayfly Inn.
“Before you go my dear, I feel I should warn you… I’ve never had a good feeling about Hawser Nodberry. He always seems to be involved in some shady deal or other. I’ve caught him trying to short us a time or two as well. I don’t think he’d stoop to outright theft by running off with that grain, but it could be his past has caught up with him. Please keep your guard up and may the Great Spirit watch over you and your companions.”
The Obligatory Tavern Scene
You find your way to the Mayfly Inn. It is bustling, since it is still suppertime. The innkeeper and his staff are busy serving ale and today’s ordinary is a nice vegetable and cricket pie in a flakey crust. You spot the creatures the Prioress described and invite them to your table.
(It is the friar’s job to recruit the characters and tell them about the mission.)
While the characters are discussing the mission have them make a Notice role. Success indicates that they see a raccoon has sidled up to their table and appears to be eavesdropping on the conversation. The recognize him as Rolf Pebblebonnet. He has a checkered reputation and has tried to talk one of the other characters into “get rich quick” schemes on many occasions.
If the characters confront him, Rolf will deny that he was eavesdropping. “No I weren’t. Must’ve been me lazy eye wot made ye think I were watchin’ you.” If the characters press him, Rolf will tip over a table and scramble out the tavern door. It will take a Reflex save at -1 penalty to catch him. See Confronting Rolf.
If the characters manage to catch Rolf he won’t put up much of a struggle. Here are some potential questions the characters may have:
Why have you been eavesdropping/following us?
“I heard ye say you was to be lookin’ for Hawser Nodberry. He’s bringing me something from Stormhollow and I wants to make sure I gets it.”
What is it?
“None a yer beeswax!”
If they browbeat him or twist his arm
“Alright, alright… ‘Tis a map. There’s old ruins deep in the Skallern Woods. Bound to be filled with gold and gems and whatnot. I’m gonna get me a crew and go dig it all up. Teddy, ye gots a strong back. Wadda ye say? Throw in with me and we’ll be filthy rich.”
The Road to Stormhollow
The prioress allows the characters to draw a week’s rations from the abbey stores. They may also take some additional supplies such as torches or rope if they make a Persuade roll. A Friar gets a +1 bonus to this roll.
The road is fairly well-travelled. Farmers and merchants from the surrounding villages often trade for Stonewell Abbey’s famous nut brown ale and other commodities. The first day on the road is uneventful. The characters should set a watch at night and you can roll for a random encounter if you wish.
On the second day, as they get farther from the abbey, traffic on the road is sparse. Have everyone make a Notice roll. If they succeed, they will see someone is following them. It is Rolf the raccoon. The characters can ambush poor Rolf and take him prisoner if their Scout can make a Stealth roll. The raccoon is hoping to find out what happened to his treasure map, and hopefully secure it before the characters find it. See Confronting Rolf for more information.
Later in the second day, have the characters make a Notice roll at a +1 bonus. They find a battered hat by the side of the road. It looks like it would fit a mouse… If the Scout can make a Track roll, she finds signs of an ambush. There was a struggle, a little blood and somebody was dragged off by rats! She estimates six rats and a lizard pulling a wagon have set off to the east. If the players blow their rolls to locate this clue, Rolf Pebblebonnet will stumble across it. Realizing that tackling the den of rats is way too big a job for one raccoon, he’ll find the characters and tell them about it.
The Serpent’s Lair
Note: if the characters still haven’t managed to talk to Rolf Pebblebonnet, he’ll follow them into the dungeon and try to nick the map after they defeat Haashaat.
The characters follow the trail through some rolling hills for several furlongs when they spot a lone rat, armed with a spear, sitting on the back of a wagon outside a large hole in the ground. A rather forlorn looking lizard is staked to the ground next to him. The rat is obviously more interested in excavating the contents of his nose than guard duty and hasn’t noticed them. The characters can sneak up to within range to hurl a weapon or charge before he notices them. Any closer and they must succeed in a Stealth roll.
Rat Sentry: HD 1, HP 4, Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, spear 1D6
The rat will attempt to flee into the hole to raise the alarm if attacked. Hopefully the characters can take him out quietly. The lizard looks at the characters happily and gesturing to the rope says “Lemme go,” in a deep voice. The characters may think to question the lizard (who’s name is Dimble) about there enemies. Remember, these creatures are not terribly bright…
“Some rats surprised Master Hawser an’ me whens we was on da road. Dey took ‘im down da hole over der an’ tied me up here. Me’s hungry, got any grub?”
2. Storage/Guard Room
The tunnel from the surface slopes down into a dimly lit room. Three rats sit playing knucklebones. They will snatch up their clubs and attack when they notice the characters. Piled against the east wall of the cave are several sacks of barley. The rats have 34 cp between them.
Rat Thugs: HD 1, HP 3, 3, 1, Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, club 1D6-1
There are two tunnels leading out of the room. The western tunnel has a concealed pit trap. It is covered in leaves and bracken and if the lead character fails a Notice roll, he will fall 20 feet into ice cold water. The character will take no damage from the fall, but if he is wearing metal armor he must make a Strength Feat or sink!
Four rats are in this room. They are playing a card game called “Fishing for Tens”. There are 68 cp on the table. They are armed with short swords and leap to the attack as soon as the party enters the room, shouting: “To arms!” And: “Intruders, master come quickly!” Two rounds after the battle is joined, Haashaat slithers into the room. The great serpent rears up, revealing quite a bulge in his body (poor Hawser), and hisses at the characters.
“How dare you come into my houssse, kill my ssservantsss and disssturb my ressst! Look into my eyesss. Sssee my dissspleasure.”
Haashaat is a constrictor snake and he is attempting to mesmerize the characters. Everyone must make a Will save or be unable to act during the combat round. Haashaat will not fight to the death if he can avoid it. If he suffers over half his hit points in damage, he will flee through his secret exit (area 6).
In our game, my son’s character, French Teddy the badger, bluffed his way into joining the card game with the rats! He won the first hand, but went into combat as soon as he caught one of them cheating.
Haashaat (constrictor serpent): HD 3, HP 18, Dex 10, Defense 3, mesmerize (Will save or no action that round), crushing coils 1D3+1 (Reflex save or immobilized, Strength Feat to break free)
Rat Thugs: HD 1, HP 6, 3, 3, 2 Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, short sword 1D6-1
5. Haashaat’s Lair
The serpent’s lair is significantly cleaner than the rest of the complex. A pile of rushes serves as his bed. There is also a chest holding his accumulated loot. The chest is not locked or trapped. It contains 30 gp, 60 sp, 24 cp, a chain byrnie (big enough to fit a badger), and Rolf’s treasure map.
6. Secret Passage
Haashaat has an escape tunnel leading to the surface. It is very hard to find this tunnel from the surface (-1 to Notice rolls). The serpent will try to flee through this tunnel if it looks like he is losing the fight. He’s rigged it with a deadfall to collapse it after he slithers through. If Haashaat escapes, he is bound to return looking for revenge in the future.
Conclusion: Back to Stonewell
With Haashaat and his minions defeated, the characters can load up the wagon and return to the abbey. Hawser Nodberry is dead, a meal for the nasty serpent. Prioress Noona may ask the characters to take word of his demise to his kin in Stormhollow. There is also the matter of the treasure map. It leads to some ancient ruins in the Skallern Woods. Do the characters keep it for themselves, or give it to Rolf Pebblebonnet? Either way it can lead to another adventure.
GMs may choose to give their players a bonus of 50 XP for concluding this adventure successfully.