Tuesday, 24 January 2012

An Adventure for Every Monster - Centipede, Giant

Frequency: Common
No. appearing: 2-24
Armour class: 9
Move: 15”
Hit Dice: 1/4
Percentage in lair: Nil (although in this adventure, that's where they are)
Treasure type: Nil
No. of attacks: 1
Damage per attack: Nil
Special attack: Poison
Special defences: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Non-
Alignment: Neutral
Size: S (1’ long)
THAC0: 20
XP value: 30 +1/hp

What the party find

The party happen across a large slab of stone in an overgrown ruin, complete with a large log lying nearby. By the edge of the slab is a headless skeleton in the tatty rotted and rusted remnants of armour. A detailed search will reveal another skeleton nearby, in the remains of wilderness gear. Both bodies are partially overgrown by fresh vegetation. A full search of the bodies will reveal that both have pouches of tobacco on them (amongst other things).

What actually happened

The log had been used to lever the slab up so another band of adventurers could get under it. Said band was not that bright and once they’d got the slab up, they all dived in to the earthen tunnel that was revealed, leaving their man-at-arms, Derik, waiting with the mules and Lollo the cleric, who had volunteered to stand guard. Derik heard the screams as the party was ambushed by the centipedes, then peered in to see what was going on only to see a giant centipede coming out at him. He was bitten and scrambled back; Lollo killed the centipede with a thrust of his sword and was about to plunge in after his friends when the poisoned Derik fell against the support for the log lever, causing the slab to come crashing down on top of Lollo’s head.
The strong tobacco that Derik and the party had been smoking reacted with the poison and drove them temporarily insane. Derik charged headlong into a rock, killing himself. The progression of the seasons and the depredations of local wildlife has caused the two bodies to become skeletons and slide slightly from the position of their deaths.

Going underground
Beneath the slab, there is a narrow tunnel leading down at a 45-degree angle. This leads to a network of more tunnels, with several small chambers where the centipedes lay their eggs. The layout of the tunnel network is such that the party can become easily lost and prey to ambush by the centipedes.

The remains of the adventurers that investigated the tunnels will be found if the party delves far enough. There were two fighters and a thief, none of whom had much of anything special (they were 1st level), but again, they have the tobacco pouches.

Weal Weed
The tobacco itself, when smoked, gives off an aroma of sandalwood. Smoking one measure will add +1 to any healing magic that is cast on the smoker, who becomes very mellow for 2-8 hours. During this time, the smoker will ignore all but the most immediate and unavoidable threats to their life. Smoking two measures will send the smoker into a dreamless trance that will last for 2d12 hours. On waking, the smoker will have healed 1d4 x 25% of all hit points lost.

The disadvantages are two-fold: firstly, the tobacco itself is mildly addictive, and secondly, when mixed with insect venom, it produces a reaction very like temporary insanity. The victims will experience potent hallucinations, either believing themselves to be animals or under attack from beasts (or other effects as the DM sees fit).

The insanity effect is in fact highly prized by some esoteric cults who use both the tobacco and insect venom in their rituals. A party might be hired by such a cult to obtain both substances.

Further on and further in

It might be thought that there is not much in this adventure but this is not the case, as one of the tunnels deep inside the network opens onto a mass of tumbled stone which is the collapsed wall of a mausoleum. Its original entrance has long since been buried under masses of soil and vegetation (so there’s no way out that way). The occupant of the mausoleum is a wraith which has been laying dormant for centuries. An intruder into the mausoleum will trigger a Rune of Wakening which will cause the wraith to rise up and defend its crypt.

A Rune of Wakening can be cast by an evil cleric of 5th level or above. When it operates (triggered by somebody walking either straight over it or within five feet of it) it drains 1d8 hit points and transfers the energy to the undead creature which uses this energy to revive from its dormant state. The Rune can be used only with undead that use energy draining. The person drained to activate the undead will recover the hit points at a rate of one an hour – if they survive the encounter, that is.

The wraith’s mausoleum contains its treasure – suitably trapped, of course, although the traps are hundreds of years old so they may work perfectly, intermittently, unexpectedly or not at all.

The Pay-off

All the coins are several centuries old.

269 copper pieces. 56 of these are glued together into a jumbled mass by some sort of resinous secretion. If the resin is hacked open, a swarm of tiny spiders comes bursting out and makes an attack on whoever is nearest. Their bites are harmless in ones or twos but can inflict a nasty rash or a mild fever on the victim if inflicted en masse.
1639 silver pieces, of which 67 are held in a clay pot with a design of swirling dragons. They are triangular in shape.
952 electrum pieces; 10 appear to have a picture of an octopus on one side and on the other a mysterious runic symbol (each is different). The runes are in fact numbers and form a combination to open a vault in a city that is now fathoms beneath the ocean following a cataclysm caused by divine wrath.
1074 gold pieces – 998 of these are in the form of small rods, each containing the same amount of gold as a single coin. Each rod ends in a bulbous formation on which has been engraved a grimacing head. Ten of the 998 are enchanted to discharge a curse that causes a week of nightmares to whoever takes them. There is no way of telling which ones have the curse.

1 Gem – Jet, worth 115gp

Magic: Scalebane, a bastard sword with a normal magical bonus of +1. Its special bonus of +4 applies to all reptilian creatures. Its name is not recorded anywhere on its blade, hilt or scabbard. The finder will have to conduct research in order to discover this. A clue may exist in the shape of the hilt, which is in a design of a man (the grip as the body, the pommel as the head) stamping down on a twisting, writhing scaly worm (the crossguard). The sword remains a +1 weapon (with an XP value of 400) until the wielder is fighting any creature of reptilian nature and shouts out the name of the sword. At this point, the full bonus comes into effect (and the wielder will receive the remaining XP).
The sword, however, carries with it a curse that befell one of its owners when it was used to fight a black dragon, whose blood imbued it with a malign power – if the wielder rolls a natural 1 to hit, they will begin a slow transformation into the very reptile that they are fighting.