The Ruins of Castle Moorfathom

Act One
It Begins Again

“They were a hardy group from The Wild Coast. They struck out from their places of birth to make a fortune, and perhaps names for themselves as well.”

Blake the Mage, Renfield the Thief, Kolburn the Fighter, and Nagle the Cleric are released from their internment in the overcrowded dungeons below Tonsbridge Keep. They are offered a full pardon contingent upon the recovery of Duke Adrian’s missing son, Edmund, or, failing that, the delivery of his kidnappers.

The group questions some of the residents of the keep—a subsection of the population selected by the Duke’s aid. A hag with but a single tooth screams at them along the path back to the Duke’s manor. She claims that the murderous frogs in the forest ate the boy and that everyone knows but the Duke.

The group is led blindfolded into the forest, prodded on by the Duke’s man. The adventurers find themselves miles from the keep as night falls rapidly—the Duke’s man is nowhere to be seen.

First Night: The adventurers are attacked by the murderous frogs. Kolburn puts more than a few to rest with his footman’s pick.

Second Day/Night: The adventurers are approached by a Bakluni Boy who claims to be out trapping rabbits for his impoverished family. He wears an antique key around his neck.

Third Day/Night: The party encounters a ruined outpost. Within its besieged walls a clan of goblins, the Fek Lahr, have begun a ritual sacrifice to Maglubiyet. The adventurers slay the Fek Lahr and free their captive, a naked and nubile human female. The adventurers find that the girl cannot speak since her tongue has been removed.

Subsequent Days: The adventurers explore the dungeons below the outpost. There they discover a zombie who holds a small scroll case. In the case is a note, written by Calvin Cobb (before his zombification). The note reveals the location of a hidden door and the name of Calvin Cobb’s murderer: Mukhail. Calvin Cobb also names Mukhail as a servant of Iuz The Old.

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Act Three
The Duke

Act Three begins a year after the death of the necromancer Mukhail. The adventures learn that Duke Adrian’s corrupt rule has finally incited a revolt within the lands surrounding Tonsbridge Keep. The Duke, in response, sent servants of Iuz The Old to raze the northern hamlets. This struck fear into the Duke’s vassals, who decided to postpone the revolution and accept the Duke’s rule until the more immediate threat could be dealt with.

The adventurers followed The Hermit’s instructions and secretly entered the Duke’s hold at the base of The Clatspurs. Therein, with the help of a charmed hill giant named Him, they destroyed the most powerful of the Duke’s guards (a giant skeleton, a flesh golem, and a dark naga, which was feeding on the Duke’s many slaves). A gargantuan blue serpent was also found in the Duke’s hold. It was, thankfully, contained within a cell made for just such a giant-sized prisoner. The adventurers also freed the men, women, and children imprisoned by the Duke, many of whom even made it back to the hamlets alive to spread the word of their brave liberators.

By the end of Act Three, the adventures had slain the Duke and found the body of his son shriveled and lifeless within a toy chest.

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Act Two
The Necromancer

In Act Two, the adventurers encounter The Hermit, who reveals Duke Adrian’s plot through his visions. He also tells them how to lose The Duke’s Man by using the masks in Mukhail’s quarters. Act Two ends with the defeat of both Mukhail and the Duke’s Man.

The adventurers also slay The Frog King and find the Bakluni Boy within its belly. In the village of Drua, the adventurers meet Elder Gaeton, who lives in a tree dwelling with his two wives and two winter-wolves.

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Keepers of the Fort
They had wrested the hold from the enemy and gave the people hope.

Prologue

Edmund found a rosy cheeked marionette on his bed the night before his ninth birthday. It was marvelously well crafted; a gift fit for a prince, and a surprise, from his father, he thought, as he clutched it under his arm and fell asleep with a smile on his face. But his sleep was uneasy, and he dreamed of the marionette hissing and spitting in his father’s face. His father turned to him to tell him everything would be ok, but it wasn’t. His father’s face was melting and collapsing in on itself. The words wouldn’t come…

When Edmund awoke the marionette was gone. He began to cry, sure that the doll was in his father’s chamber acting out his dream. Edmund blamed himself, thinking that his dream had brought about his father’s ruin. And so it was that when Duke Alysius came to his son without a face and told him to climb into a chest, Edmund did so, tears blurring his sight—he deserved worse, he thought, for what he’d done.

Alysius Adrian Loomet, son of the fair Duchess of Loomia, was indeed a magnanimous lord, though there was hardly a soul who lived within his realm in the last months of his reign who didn’t curse his name or spit at the passing of his aides. He had wantonly filled his dungeons with the lowest of his subjects, sold helpless hundreds to the Fek Lahr for dark gems, held servants of the wicked Iuz in his private counsel, and staged the kidnapping of his only son to conceal his very real, and hideous, act of murder. But, after the great keep at Tonsbridge was sacked and its surrounding hamlets burnt to ashes, everyone knew Iuz to be the true enemy of the people and the Duke a mere puppet. How such a noble soul was corrupted is a tale worth spinning, and one which our heroes saw unravel before their very eyes.

In the year following the Duke’s death, a darkness gathered heavy upon the land and kept darkening. The foul priests of Iuz were everywhere mongering death and lusting for blood. Word spread of a skull-paved road leading from Dorakaa, capitol of Iuz’s desolate fiefdom. Refugees from the far reaches of the vale and the outskirts of the Vesve Forest sought sanctuary behind the curtained walls of the stronghold at the base of the Clatspurs. There were champions there, hardy, battle-scarred liberators, keepers of the fort. They had wrested the hold from the enemy, an act which gave the people hope. There was still some courage and good left in the world. All was not lost.

Bands of orc marauders made a handful of attempts to reclaim the hold but were driven back at every turn. There was a moment of calm in the north as war broke out in Furyondy and The Shield Lands, drawing Iuz’s troops south and east. The refugees of the hold breathed sighs of relief—they could sleep now without starting awake at every snapping twig—they could begin to count and mourn their losses.

But the calm was short lived. A body was found in the southern bailey, mostly eaten, then another, stiff and dismembered, a day later and in another quarter. No one claimed to have heard so much as a cry or call for help.

Paranoia has gripped the residents of the hold and whispers everywhere are of Iuz and his spies…

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Friends of the Keep

In these times of war and subterfuge, there are few who you can trust. These are the friends of the keep: Weland, Captain of the Militia, Breca, Recruit, Onela, Aspiring Apprentice, Mosca, Knight of the High Forest, Hoc, Master Leatherworker, Reogar, Missionary of Trithereon.

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Oslaf Heogundar
Umber Hulk Food

Oslaf’s death was painful, but quick. He had just a second or so to realize that he’d been disemboweled by the umber hulk (the dwarves of Djuna named her Grundenkrom, lit. ‘stone eater’), before he was decapitated by her wickedly serrated mandibles. Here are the events that led up to Oslaf’s demise:

Oslaf’s Proposal:

Weland returns with Oslaf, a smartly dressed dwarf with an intelligent, if somewhat sad expression on his face. His features are surprisingly human, save for his small round ears which rest too high on his head. He’s dressed in a thick green tunic with a velvety red cape at his back. Under his arm is a long, weathered roll of parchment. Weland introduces him, giving his full title: Oslaf Heogundar, son of Guthlaf, and so on. Oslaf bows deeply, a smile curling the well-trimmed moustache above his beard.

OSLAF: Yer introdukshun honors my kin, Captain. Oslaf bows to Weland, then continues. And it is an honor to meet the keepersh of the fort.

PCs: Stand with arms crossed and say nothing.

OSLAF: Now, then, I don’t intend to washte yer time. I hail from Verbeeg Hill, where I own and manage a modishtly big arm-ory. My motive in journeying to your fort is shimple: I hope to make a large profit by eshtablishing a new trade route. Verbeeg Hill imports a great deal of gems an’ ore from the dwarven city of Djuna, which liesh in the heart of the mountains just behind yer fort. Thish ore is heavily takshed by the Verbeeg Merchants’ Guild—the trade route is shafe and shecure, so there’s little rishk for Verbeeg shuppliers. I am, however, more advenshuresome than my competitors and willing to gamble a more dangeroush path for a greater reward. So, that’s what’s in it for me, not a whit more. And if it would make you eashier I will shubmit to yer shcrying or whatever yer will.

OSLAF: Now for what’s in it for yer. I’ve been to yer shmithy; hish forge is cold an he’sh got nothing more ‘an a few shcraps o’ pig iron ta rub tuguther. Let’sh give ‘im shumthin’ to work wiff. I’ve brought in tow a weeksh worth o’ coal and iron, which I’m ready to hand over to yer today—‘an a word from me ‘an my wagonsh return every fafteen daysh with another load. I’ve got a map which’ll lead us to Djuna, lesh ‘an a third the dishtance from here as from Verbeeg Hill. It won’t be an eashy road the firsht time through. That’s why I need’yer. The coal and iron my men’ll bring ish worth about two, ta two fafty, Furyondian gold wheatsheafs.# I’ll naver pay an ora more fer shafe passhage through yer lands though they may someday shtretch far ‘an wide. I’ll be around fer a day or two, if yer’d like to chew on it for a shpell. Otherwishe I’m ready ta go.

PCs: Sure, why not. We’re kind of bored just hanging out around the fort.

Oslaf calls to his men, waiting just outside the fort. One brings him a shining suit of plate armor, another a maul which looks too big for the dwarf to wield. Oslaf waits patiently as the men to buckle his platemail.

OSLAF: Right then, off we go. There’s a horgar’s wake which runs easht under yer fort. Yer know if we can get to it from hair?

KOLBURN: A horgar’s wake, you say? Sure, I know what that is. It’s a tunnel formation which is created by the passage of a horgar, a gargantuan slug-like animal uses acidic secretions to burrow through solid rock. Follow me!

A ghoulish stench remains in the caverns under the Western Quarter, but all is quiet.

OSLAF: I can shee yer been down thish way already…yesh…yesh, thish ish the way.

Travel through the caverns is slow going, the ground is pocked with holes, the smaller of which are difficult to spot and easy to place a foot in, the larger are treacherously deep and impassable without rope. But Kolburn and Oslaf are at home in this environment and can quickly determine the safest path. Oslaf is also well equipped, with a hammer, pitons, and rope. Every so often he stops to catch his breath and examine his map: it’s an ink diagram on a large and, judging by its cracked surface, very old sheet of parchment. As Oslaf eagerly explains, the map is unreadable by non-dwarves for two reasons. The first is that the diagram doesn’t give cardinal directions or elevation. It won’t tell, for example, whether to veer right or left at a fork. Instead, it gives directions based on the relative ages of the passages, or sometimes in terms of whether a tunnel was formed naturally or not. The second reason is that landmarks are signaled by ancient dwarven runes which have fallen out of use in dwarven script but are still employed by cartographers. Oslaf’s father Guthlaf, as Oslaf proudly tells, was an explorer of no small renown; the map was his, and his father before him, each generation adding another region so that the map has grown like the rings of a tree trunk.

Oslaf has only a very general idea of where you are in relation to the map; he won’t know for certain until he’s spotted a combination of tunnel properties and landmarks. But you are, as Oslaf reassures you, far from being lost.

An hour or so has passed without Oslaf stopping to check his map. A series of narrow branching tunnels, descending deeper and deeper into the earth, has finally led you to a vast cavern. Its upper and lower reaches are lost to obsidian darkness, but here and there the mountainous tip of a stalagmite breaks through the pitch like an island in the sea. A pathway cuts an arch into the cavern wall, above which protrudes a craggy overhang, and below a sheer deadfall. Oslaf stops suddenly along the path and reaches back with an open hand.

OSLAF: Summat…innit right…

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Bill and Ted the Portcullis
by Kevin Kohler

The keepers of the fort are putting their wealth to good use, improving the keep and its surrounding lands, which they have dubbed ‘New Tonsbridge’.

Keep improvements:

Temple of Trithereon

Militia Barracks

Expanded Smithy (3 master armorers; 6 armorers; 2 master bladesmiths; 4 weaponsmiths; blacksmith; 2 apprentices)

Portcullis Timeline

Month Bill and Ted: Two Ippwood Portcullises (Front and Back Gatehouses)

Month 1: One Bronzewood/Two Ippwood

Month 2: Two Bronzewood/Two Ippwood

Month 3: Three Bronzewood/Two Ippwood

Month 4: Four Bronzewood/Two Ippwood

Siege Weapons

Front Gatehouse: Two Light Ballistae, Four Hot Oil Cauldrons

Inner Bailey: Trebuchet

Crew: 1 Master Engineer, 1 Master Artillerist, 7 Light Infantry

Weapons and Armor Timeline

Month 1: 1,650 Fine Quality Arrows

Month 2: 1,650 Fine Quality Arrows, 9 Suits of Chainmail

Month 3: ” “

Month 4: ” “

Month 5: 9 Suits of Chainmail

Month 6: 14 Suits of Chainmail

Skilled Workers and Trainers

10 Perrenlander Farmers

10 Verbeeg Hill Spear Fishermen

4 Trained Soldiers (Armor)

Fort Renfield

One day’s march from New Tonsbridge Keep; daily patrols 20 strong along Horgar Road

Captain: Breca (Crossbow of Speed)

Fortifications: Stone Gatehouse, 5’ Stone Walls, Iron Portcullis, Parapets, 4 Towers

Inner Bailey: Barracks, Warehouse, Well, Hearth and Spit, Stable

Siege Weapons: 2 Light Ballistae, 2 Hot Oil Cauldrons

Garrison: 6 Heavy Infantry, 4 Perrenlander Pikemen, 10 Longbowmen, 10 Elven Archers

Local Resources: Postwood, wild gutes, various resins, incenses, preservatives, medicinal berries and herbs.

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A Carefully Worded Wish
Resurrects Oslaf

Kolburn dug his shoulder into the side of the granite plinth and gave it a shove. Buried below was a small hoard of treasure, comprised of hundreds of gold and platinum coins and several alexandrite stones. Hidden within the coins he found a ring, made of two rough platinum bands, held in parallel by an unseen force.

With a word, detectu!, Blake’s hands began to crackle with eldritch light. As he moved his hands over the ring, it began to glow with a faint bluish light. The ring was magical, then. But it would take further wizardry to determine its power.

^ ^ ^

Oslaf turned around to find that his hired band of adventurers had vanished. The light that their cleric Nagle held was extinguished. He was alone. Had they ducked down a dark tributary while his back was turned? or by some magic been carried off to some happier errand? No use wasting time guessing. The only thing to do was to press on, towards Djuna, where his brother was waiting.

His mood was much improved once he discovered The Old Dwarven Road. It would be an easy trek to The Good City from here. But it wasn’t long before he spotted something moving up ahead—his hirelings. But how? and why?

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The Keepers Find a New Friend
Evan Bailey's Character Is Smarter Than You

Coming soon…

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Tales from the Flatbox
Blake dons his oversized helm of teleportation, extradimensional flatbox under his arm. Inside the tiny box: a two hundred pound priest of Pelor.

Kolburn could read the runes; they were as familiar as the hills of his homeland. Blake peered over his shoulder and helped with the puzzle: a four by three set of metallic orbs, tarnished with time and holding the key to the future existence of The Good City. The orbs flaked as Kolburn pushed the runes into place. Together they spelled out: Ruin Open Earth.

The last rune moved into place with an audible clicking sound. Several seconds of silence followed…a low murmur, massive, but far off, grew louder. The mountain itself seemed to growl and grumble with belly pains. The temple floor shook. The temple walls cracked. A pillar leaned over the alcove, threatening to collapse, but was caught by a sturdy granite buttress. The mountain groaned under an invisible weight, and the first tremor was followed by a second which caved in the floor, swallowing the copper alter and ripping the polished stone tiles off the walls. The tremors stopped. The alcove stood untouched, an island before the temple, now ruined and still.

It was only later that the keepers of the fort heard, from Godan, what the earthquake machine had done:

GODAN: The Good City was almost lost to the derro this past fortnight. The Grand Inquisitor had called for a withdrawal on all fronts, when the earthquake, but you must have felt it, even from here, by Moradin’s hammer! the earthquake caved in the northern horgar’s wake right on top of their ugly heads! I was there, you know, ready to die just to put an end to one more derro. Well, the quake sealed off the major wake, and the derro scum that weren’t brained under the rocks rerouted through the smaller tunnels where we were just waitin’ at the mouths for ’em. I slew hundreds, till I couldn’t lift my axe anymore. Then others took turns pilin’ up their bodies. It was a massacre for Clangeddin’s great tablets to be sure. There’s a celebration in Djuna set to last thirty days, though the war is still on in some parts.

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