Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter Is Coming: The Weather Outside is Frightful...

This scenario uses the Get Ready, Get Set, Go short adventure format developed by Matt of Asshat Paladins. What follows is a very short adventure for Goodman Games's Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG designed to be played in a very short amount of time (no more than a single session) written for the Winter Is Coming II RPG Blog Festival.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

(Line break inserted to hopefully keep the prying eyes of players away.)

Get Ready,

A winter storm brews on the vast tundra of Skall, and if they do not wish to fall victim to the blizzard, the adventurers must soon find shelter. If only they knew that the small village on the horizon could not be found on any maps; if only they knew that it spends only fraction of time in this world, and the rest of its time in the realm of Ithha, demon lord of the winds.

Get Set,

In the early days of the Dominion of Man, humankind spread across the face of the earth, including inhospitable places -- anywhere Man could live free, Man settled. In this way did Man first come to the land known today as Skall, a place of rocky scrub and tundra, of rime-caked bays and frozen floes. In this land, the tribe known as Iktankuit founded a village of rock, sod and wood not far from a wide river where they fished and rode hide canoes out to the sea to hunt for whale.

While building a dugout for a new hut, the Iktankuit uncovered a huge skull of a beast that they had never seen, some colossal beast they named "the Hungerer." At first, the Iktankuit offered small sacrifices to the Hungerer's skull in hopes of appeasing it, but as the power of the Iktankuit shamans grew, the sacrifices did as well, and eventually the true nature of the skull was revealed. The Hungerer -- its name in every language that had had a name for it -- was a servant of Ithha, demon prince of the winds, who drove his worshipers to depraved acts of consumption. The tribe scoured the land and ate everything edible it could find; seals, reindeer and even great whales were devoured in single sittings by the tribe and when they had eaten everything around, the Iktankuit turned on each other.

Today, the Iktankuit's village has been claimed by Ithha and spends most of the year there among in the land of the trackless horizon. On nights like tonight, however, when the wind blows in harsh winter storms from Ithha's hollow kingdom, the village -- and the hungry dead who once called it home -- rides on those fiendish winds and takes purchase in the world of mortals. The storm rages outside the village, but within, all is calm and safe... and hungry.


The village consists of seven buildings which occupy cellar-like dugouts in the earth; each has domed ceiling of rock, wood and sod (but earthen walls) and two doors, one to the surface and one to a network of low, narrow tunnels that connect the huts (previously used during severe snowfall). Four of those buildings are (or rather, were) residences of the Iktankuit tribe, with the fifth being a smokehouse, the sixth a workshop of sorts and the seventh a long communal hut that serves as community center, temple and feasthall. The huts and structures are arranged in a series of three concentric circles (connected by the tunnels mentioned above).

The ghouls are still dressed as they were on the day they first became cannibals: sealskin heavy coats with shocks of fur around the exposed edges and surrounding their faces beneath their hoods. Emaciated, dessicated wretches, these fiends attack on sight. Absolutely ravenous, if they kill a PC, they will stop to devour him, a process which takes five "ghoul turns" (thus, it takes one ghoul five turns or five ghouls one turn). The Iktankuit ghouls, being the product of a demonic curse and the intercession of the Hungerer and Ithha himself, are a little different from normal ghouls and have a sonic scream that deafens targets that fail a DC 13 Fortitude save for 1d4 rounds. Furthermore, many of the Iktankuit children have also passed into un-death as ghouls.

Iktankuit Ghoul
Init +1; Atk bite +3 melee (1d4 plus paralysis) or claw +1 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 2d6; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, paralysis (DC 14 Will save or 1d6 hours), infravision 100', deafening shriek (DC 13 Fortitude save or target deafened for 1d4 rounds; 20' radius centered on ghoul); SV Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +0; AL C.

Iktankuit Child-Ghoul
Init +0; Atk bite +2 melee (1d3 plus paralysis); AC 13; HD 1d6; MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, paralysis (DC 12 Will save or 1d6 hours), infravision 100'; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +0; AL C.

In addition, the ghost of a young woman from one of the neighboring tribes that the Iktankuit preyed upon before turning on one another; as such, she's witnessed the darkest deeds of the tribe and wants them to be destroyed. She appears after the PCs first defeat any of the ghouls, sobbing quietly in a corner. If the PCs attempt contact with her, she will not speak (she has no voice; instead, she emits a sound like a howling wind if pressed to speak), but attempts to use body language to communicate ideas to the PCs. She will answer questions as best she can, particularly those pertaining to how to defeat the ghouls; further, she encourages the PCs to give any bodies they find proper burials, if only to prevent them from rising as more ghouls. She knows of the Hungerer's skull and its properties, and that it must be either destroyed or claimed by a servant of Ithha to bring an end to the village's curse (though she prefers destruction).

Once the PCs have spent one turn (ten minutes) in the village, they will immediately become ravenously hungry; unless they make a DC 13 Will save, they will spend one turn eating rations or whatever food stuffs they've brought (one meal's worth). One turn later, they will need to make a second Will save, DC 14, or consume an entire day's worth of rations; this continues every other turn until the PCs either leave the village or run out of rations. Should the PCs run out of rations, they continue to attempt DC 13 Will saves; should any PC fail three such saves, he will begin to see his fellow PCs as viable food sources and will turn on the other PCs at the first opportunity.

Any PCs who attempt to spend any length of time outside the buildings will need to make a Fortitude save DC 14 or take 1 point of Agility and Stamina damage. Subsequent exposures increase their damage to 1d3 Agility and Stamina damage. 

1 - 4. The Perimeter Huts
Each of these huts contain (roll 1d6; 1-3) 1 Iktankuit ghoul and 1d3 children-ghouls, (4-5) 2 Iktankuit ghouls or (6) 2d4 Iktankuit ghouls which are in the middle of (1d6; 1-3) devouring a corpse, (4-5) nothing in particular or (6) uttering blasphemous prayers to Ithha and the Hungerer. The ghouls value possessions but little and thus carry nothing of value; each hut, however, might have something of value. Roll 1d12 and compare to the following chart:
  • 1-5: Nothing.
  • 6-7: A hide pouch of small coins (4d8-4 gp, 5d8-5 sp and 6d8-6 cp)
  • 8: A finely-painted ritual mask worth 100 gp
  • 9: An ornate spear carved from the tusks of a colossal walrus (200 gp value)
  • 10: An ivory scrollcase (20 gp value) containing a scroll with a level 1 (1d3; 1-2) wizard spell or (3) cleric scroll
  • 11: A golden torque set with amber carved in the shape of a warped, gaunt human-like face with elk antlers (300 gp value, 500 gp to a worshiper of Ithha; a wizard, elf or cleric may make a DC 11 Intelligence check to determine that it is the likeness of Ithha)
  • 12: Roll 1d6+5 on this chart twice, ignoring any repeated values.
A. The Tunnels
Upon the PCs entering a section of tunnel from one of the buildings, roll 1d6. On a "1," the PCs will encounter 1d3 Iktankuit ghouls. Travel by the surface is completely safe.
A1. Secret Dugout
Any PC actively searching the tunnels between the village's huts may detect this secret dugout, hidden behind wooden planks that seem to support the tunnel. The cache contains a small sack of coins (4d8-4 gp, 5d8-5 sp and 6d8-6 cp), a jade dagger carved in the likeness of a squid-headed man (Cthulhu; worth 100 gp) and 1d6 pelts of a now-extinct tundra antelope (worth 2d6x100 each to collectors in a major city; 20 gp each elsewhere). Finding the dugout requires a DC 12 Intelligence check (modified by Luck).

5. The Smokehouse
An old fire smolders in the pit here with little ventilation; PCs entering must make a Fortitude save DC 12  or be forced to spend a round coughing and wheezing, unable to take any actions. The PCs will need to make such saves every fourth round, so keep track. Little of the meat hanging here is in an edible state and anyone searching must make a DC 12 Luck check or be surprised by the 1d4+2 hanging zombies here! The zombies are immobile, chained to the ceiling and can thus be easily avoided. Laying the zombies to rest gains the ghost's favor, however, and grants Lawful characters +1 Luck.

6. The Workshop
Some might say that the three ghouls working in this room have mutilated themselves; the ghouls think they have augmented themselves. Regardless, these ghouls have used bone and what little metal they have to strip their claws to the bone and make them more vicious. As a result, their claw attacks deal 1d8+1 damage and the target must make a DC 13 Reflex save or the ghoul latches on, grappling the target. Among the random animal and human bones here, looters may find 2d4 bone-tipped javelins and 1d4 orca-tooth axes as well as the result of a 1d12 roll on the treasure chart from areas 1 - 4.

7. The Longhouse
Like this, but even more huge
Being the feasthall of the Iktankuit tribe during its living years, this hut is correspondingly large. The long benches that the tribe once sat at have been discarded, dashed apart and, in some cases, gnawed on. A large pile of bone and sinew in the center of the room are all that remain of the many victims that the tribe has shared as a meal. Two ghouls here attend their one-time shaman, stinking beast that wears an ornate half mask painted with blue triangular shapes and adorned with large elk antlers. Tied to one of the poles supporting the longhouse's domed room is a huge skull some five feet tall which features an elongated, shovel-like jaw and two massive tusks (the Hungerer's skull). Looters may roll 1d6+5 on the treasure chart from areas 1 - 4 twice. The shaman ghoul lacks the shriek attack of the other ghouls; instead, it constantly jibbers obscene prayers to Ithha and has a limited clerical ability.

Iktankuit Shaman-Ghoul
Init +1; Atk +3 bite melee (1d6 plus paralysis) or +1 claw (1d3); AC 13; HD 4d6 (16 hp); MV 30'; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, paralysis (DC 14 Will save or 1d6 hours), spellcasting +4 (Darkness, Lotus stare); Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C. The shaman-ghoul's mask is worth 100 gp (1d4x100 gp to worshiper or devotee of Ithha).

The Hungerer's Skull
If the PCs attempt to destroy the Hungerer's skull, it takes 50 points of damage before it shatters. If a wizard or elf that has Ithha as a supernatural patron approaches the skull, it immediately shrinks in size to fit his head as full helmet (it does not impede vision, mobility or spellcasting ability) and the would-be wearer hears a whispering voice, as if borne on the winds, urge him to put on the skull. While the skull is worn, the wearer must eat twice as much as usual (though strangely, seems to actually lose weight and eventually becomes nearly emaciated) and gains a +1d3 bonus to spellchecks to cast the following spells (rolled each time the check is made): Chill touch, Invisible companion, Gust of wind, Control ice and Mind purge. Whenever the caster may learn a new spell, he may choose one of the spells listed above to learn with no chance of failure. Finally, the skull grants its wearer the ability to speak the alignment language of Chaos and the Demonic language.

The End
Once the adventurers have either destroyed or claimed the Hungerer's skull, the blizzard outside subsides.  If the PCs buried any victims of the ghouls found in their explorations, Lawful characters gain +1 Luck unless the ghost had "asked" them to do so; if the ghost had communicated her desire that the victims be buried, all PCs gain the +1 Luck bonus.