Tuesday 17 January 2012

An Adventure for Every Monster - Centaur


Frequency: Rare
No. appearing: 4-24
Armour class: 5 (4 for leaders)
Move: 18”
Hit Dice: 4
Percentage in lair: 5%
Treasure type: M, Q with each; D, I, T in lair
No. of attacks: 2 (hooves)
Damage per attack: 1-6/1-6
Special attack: Human weapons (club, bow, shield/lance)
Special defences: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Low-Average
Alignment: Neutral/Chaotic Good
Size: Large
THAC0: 15
XP value: 85 +4/hp

The party is approached by a centaur representative of a tribe that lives in an area of sylvan forest about three days’ travel north of the party’s current location. He (or it could be she) explains that the tribe is in trouble and they need brave souls to search for something that they need to end their woes.

The problem is this; when centaurs breed, they do not always produce young centaurs. This table shows that centaurs and horses are genetically compatible and that the offspring depends on both the sex and the species.

Recently, something has happened to the tribe and their matings are producing more and more horses – intelligent horses but horses nonetheless – and fewer centaurs. The tribe’s chieftain is concerned that if something is not done soon, their kind will die out in this forest.

Centaur legend tells of a mythical being called the White Stallion, who, it is said, can bring vigour and renewal to the centaur tribe. If this creature could be found, the chieftain believes that the tribe’s troubles would be over. However, the White Stallion is rumoured to live in an area many miles to the north, full of hazards and dangers. The tribe wish the party to voyage to this area, find the Stallion, entice him to return to the tribe and do what must be done to reinvigorate the bloodline. It is believed that all couplings involving the White Stallion will bear centaur offspring and that those offspring will breed as they should do.

The chieftain can offer little more in the way of information; he has always believed the White Stallion to be a legend but tales say that a White Stallion is born once every generation and that he is found and cared for by a dedicated order of priests who protect him in a place called the Valley of Singing Stones.

All of this is true; there really is a White Stallion and his involvement with the tribe would bring the return of the bloodline and the birth of centaurs again. Or at least it would if not for some dark interference.

Certain powers of the lower planes detest the harmony and peace of the forests. They are convinced that the centaurs are to blame for this, along with the satyrs (and they have plans for them as well). Not too long ago, they learned of the problems facing the tribe and, ever keen to use this misfortune for their own end, resolved to do just that. Two succubi were sent to eliminate the druidic guardians of the Stallion and replace them, whilst another demon assumed the form of the legendary horse and killed the original. The bodies were buried; it was the plan of the demons to lure the centaurs into the Valley, whereupon they would be charmed and their females impregnated with demonic seed, later giving birth to an infernal half-breed, a hybrid of horse and demon, ready to wreak havoc throughout the valley.

What the demons did not anticipate was the involvement of the party. They were confident of their ability to gull the centaurs, who are only of average intelligence at best. A band of adventurers, ready for trouble is not on the demons’ schedule.

The party will arrive in the Valley of the Singing Stones to find it a quiet place, a glen lined with overgrown burial mounds, marked with monoliths which have passages and holes carved within them. The wind passes through these and produces the eerie singing noise. Their presence will soon be detected by the demons and they will be given a friendly, if guarded welcome until their true purpose in the Valley is revealed. At this point, the succubi will use their guile and charm to persuade the party that all is well and that they will be more than happy to return to the centaur tribe and assist them in their hour of need.

Of course, the ‘druids’ are quite unable to perform real druidic spells but they will try to use their demonic powers to convince the party that they do have such abilities.

If the DM is feeling in a playful mood, the party can, on its journey north to the Valley, encounter a trapper or tinker who is going south, having had a run of bad luck and is down to his last few silver pieces. He has a mangy mutt who he is more than happy to sell to the party at a reasonable rate. If the party decide to buy the dog, then after some rather annoying scrapes, it may well go haring off and start investigating the burial site for the real Stallion and his druidic guardians.

It is suggested that the DM use the Sylvan Encounter tables on page 187 of the DMG. Lose the Men encounter and the Carnivorous Ape (this is a more Northern European setting I’d envisaged). The setting will be Forest until the party gets to the Valley of the Singing Stones and then Hills.

The succubi in their guise as druids will, of necessity be attractive as druids’ CHA needs to be 15 or more. It might be a bit obvious for them both to be beautiful young girls, so perhaps one could be young and the other more mature but still attractive. The impostor Stallion will still appear as a white horse but his demonic nature will leak out from time to time, explained away by the ‘druids’ as the high spirits of a vigorous stallion.

If the party succeed in uncovering the demonic plot (and it will take some convincing to get the desperate centaurs to believe this) then the chieftain will still give them their agreed fee but reluctantly.

The centaur treasure in their lair consists of

450cp, held in a bag of finest purple velvet with gold embroidery. It has the crest of a notable noble house.

975sp. 210 are tied up in a greasy piece of unidentified animal hide and it will be noted that they have been clipped. This may well be a capital offence wherever the party try to spend them.

675ep; nine of them are marked with a particular image, each relating to a month of the year. If all twelve are found and sold as a set, they could fetch 60gp.

1750gp; 300gp of this is made up of ivory tablets edged with silver on which are engraved letters of credit to a merchant house several hundred miles to the south. If they are taken there, the merchants will honour them; they are worth ten times as much as the material of which they are made. The merchant house in question is currently engaged in a vicious trade war with a rival concern.

330pp, their worth being in the form of six delicately carved crystal bottles, stoppered with golden figurines, stored in a box made of the finest woods, hinged and decorated with silver designs that depict winged lions. Inside each bottle is a small measure of a brightly coloured liquid that, if imbibed, will do the following to the drinker’s requisites (bottle 1 for STR, bottle 2 for Wisd, etc)

1-4 raise it by 1d3
5-8 lower it by 1d4
9-10 bestow a curse

Curses will relate to the requisite and are left to the DM to decide.

8 gems, being:
Rhodochrosite, worth 12gp
Eye Agate, worth 15gp
Jasper, worth 65gp
Amethyst, worth 550gp
Pearl, worth 350gp
Obsidian, worth 14gp
Rock Crystal, worth 40gp
Banded agate, worth 8gp

4 pieces of jewellery

Platinum belt with gems, worth 2000gp. Its buckle is engraved with a circle of letters in an alphabet which nobody seems to recognise.

Goblet of carved jade, worth 1800gp. This was looted from an eldritch temple by a band of adventurers many years ago. Their gruesome fates are recorded in a scroll which is locked away in the library of the Patriarch and may have something to do with the twisting serpentine pattern that is carved round the rim of the goblet and the shape of the goblet’s stem which seems to move if glanced at out of the corner of the eye.

Medallion of silver with gems 2000gp. It is a Medallion of Dwarvish Succession and was lost long ago by a tribe of dwarves, who used it ceremonially to bestow the kingship on the chief’s successor. Dynastic strife was caused by its loss and the dwarves would very much like it back. Very, very much.

Ring of wrought silver, 300gp. Rather mundane and without significance.

Potion of Human Control, works on elves and half-elves
Cloak of Protection +1
2 scrolls; the first is a clerical spell, Feign Death. The second is Protection from Magic.

If the DM wants to spice up the encounter tables above, the Forest Giant from White Dwarf 26 might be an idea to use. Credit to M Newton and D Healey for this one.

There are three types of forest giant: the rancorous and eschel (the female) are rare while the sentinel is very rarely encountered. All have wood-brown skin, but range in hair colour from sandy-brown to a golden colour for the sentinel, black for the rancorous and red-brown for the eschel.
All can use a large shield which would increase their armour class by 1; but do this rarely as their preferred weapon is a large battle-axe. They can attack by hurling rocks, for 2d8, or dead trees or branches, for 2d12 - at -2 for Id12 in thick forest. They are seldom (20%) encountered in their lair.
Forest giants have a strong affinity with their surroundings and have certain spells of which they can use up to a maximum of 4 per day: pass without trace; purify water; locate animals; animal friendship; Detect snares & pits; entangle; locate al weapons are: plants; warp wood; plant growth; and tree.
They can only be surprised on a 1 in 6. Rancorous occasionally use wyverns as steeds.

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