A few more encounters from Western Venatia. Enjoy …
1416. On the fringes of the domain of Blackpoort lies the castle of Elsien, a barbaric fighting-woman. Elsien’s manse is a motte-and-bailey castle built of white stone. A famed warrior woman in the Gaestly Hills, she has an uneasy alliance with Blackpoort that was sealed by her marriage to the son of Lord Mayor, a scrawny little complainer called Twearne who spends most of his time undermining Elsien’s authority and going on about life at court. In truth, his father was glad to be rid of him, and half hopes that the baroness will kill him, ridding him on an ineffectual heir and giving him a casus belli to launch a conquest of the barony. Elsien keeps seven storytellers in her castle – each living in a comfortable cell barred by a copper grill and emerging only at the behest of Elsien to recount some ancient legend or invent a new tale. The storytellers want for nothing in their cells – women, wine, etc. It is a strange life, but they seem to be satisfied with it. Elsien commands 20 men-at-arms in chainmail hauberks and winged helms armed with spears, short swords and short bows. She also has an elite corps of berserkers, all tall men with white hair and ritually scarred faces – veterans of campaigns against the hobgoblins in the Klarkash Mountains and natives of the barbarian tribes of that terrifying place. The elite berserkers wear black kilts and iron bracers and carry long-handed battle axes and dirks. Among their number is a wild cleric of Mars called Resek. Of late, Elsien is growing bored of her pathetic husband, annoying subjects and her retirement from adventure. She could easily be persuaded to take up her axe and once more descend into the dark places of the earth.
The castle is surrounded by a large, sprawling village of sheapards and farmers known for their love of a good fight (assuming somebody else is doing the fighting). Visitors will be goaded almost constantly into fisticuffs with other visitors through the use of innuendo and other acts of subterfuge. The village proper is surrounded by a wooden stockade and water is drawn from a number of wells.
Treasure: 4,500 gp, five 2 lb ingots of silver worth 20 gp each and 2 casks of olive oil (100 lb each, worth 60 gp each).
| Elsien, Barbarian Lvl 11: HP 60; AC 3 ; Save 4; CL/XP 11/1700. Chainmail, shield, battle axe. Grave, short and sturdy, bossy, light skin, blue eyes, platinum hair, square jaw.
| Resek, Cleric Lvl 4: HP 27; AC 9 ; Save 12 (10 vs. poison and paralysis; CL/XP 5/400; Special: Spells (2nd), command undead. Black kilt, flanged mace, holy symbol. Tall, white hair, scarred face and back, gold tooth.
1443. This hex and sometimes those that surround it are home thousands of small, luminous jellyfish. The jellyfish mostly dwell in the depths, but at night, especially when the moon shines down, they come to the surface and dance just beneath the surface like thousands of little stars. The jellyfish often form strange, hypnotic patterns and have an effect on sailors or divers similar to a magic spell (i.e. save or fall into a trance). Entranced people cannot move until a dispel magic or remove curse spell is cast on them.
1513. Blackpoort is a large human port on the shores of Blackmere Lake. It is a rival to Antigoon and controls trade on the lake and beyond. Blackpoort is ruled by guilds, the most powerful being those of the thieves and assassins. Most of Blackpoort’s manors are located near the River Swiven or its tributaries. One might encounter fishermen, herdsmen and farmers in these villages, along with the odd craftsman.
[Blackpoort will be featured in NOD #7 along with Antigoon and Lyonesse – a triple city edition – Lord, what am I getting myself into with that?]
1516. This narrow canyon is hemmed by limestone cliffs that resemble towers and battlements. The shallow caves are inhabited by a great multitude of giant vampire bats. These bats become active at night, and will be encountered there at double their normal numbers (i.e. 6d6). One cave (1% chance of finding per day of searching) contains a partial map of the upper level of the the infamous Dungeons of the Mad Mage and a scroll of protection from oozes.
A small altar has been erected at the entrance to the canyon in honor of Camazotz, the demonic prince of bats. It is visited (during the day) by a small cult. The cult is located in Blackpoort and consists mostly of students and thieves. The cultists hold raucous orgies at the altar, spilling wine and a little blood in honor of Camazotz. Desecration of the altar has a 5% chance of attracting the attention of Camazotz, who will send a flock of 20 demonic bats ridden by demonic monkeys armed with obsidian swords to punish the heretics. There is a 1% chance he will investigate himself.
| Demonic Bat: HD 1; AC 7 ; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 3 (Fly 24); Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Only harmed by magic weapons.
| Demonic Monkey: HD 1; AC 6 ; Atk 1 bite (1d4) or 1 weapon (1d6); Move 9 (Climb 9); Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Only harmed by magic weapons.
| Camazotz: HD 15 (300 hp); AC -3 ; Atk 2 claws (2d10) and 1 bite (3d10); Move 30 (Fly 30); Save 2; CL/XP 17/30; Special: Immune to normal weapons at night, magic resistance 75%, charm monster 2/day, comprehend languages, detect evil, plane shift, geas, teleport without error, deific powers. Camazotz appears as a huge bat surrounded by an aura of grey flames and 1,000 normal bats.
1529. This portion of hills is haunted by three in-famous dwarf robbers, the Kolldens. The Kolldens are highwaymen of the first order, preying on traffic on the Swiven River. Their names are Broon, Droon and Zoot. The Kollden’s lair is a hidden cave in a dry gulley, the entrance trapped by a tripwire to cause a cave-in (2d6 points of damage).
The lair consists of a dirt tunnel that slants downward for about fifteen feet and then drops into a crevasse 4 ft wide and 40 ft long. At the end of this crevasse there is a 2 ft wide crack that runs back ten feet before emptying into a spacious cavern that has been improved by the brothers.
The living chamber is furnished with piles of furs for beds, a long, narrow trunk locked with an expert lock and trapped with a deadly poisoned needle. One corner of the chamber holds several small barrels and sacks containing ale, flour and dried fish (treat as four weeks worth of iron rations for three people). In the middle of the chamber there is a fire pit and roasting spit. A very narrow chimney in the roof allows the smoke to escape.
Treasure: The Kolldens keep their treasure in the trunk. It consists of 345 sp, 390 ep, 200 gp.
| Broon Kollden, Dwarf Thief 5: HP 16; AC 6 ; Save 10; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Back stab for triple damage, decipher script, thievery, cant. Pistol (treat as light crossbow), short sword, pouch containing 23 gp and 18 sp and a four leaf clover.
| Droon Kollden, Dwarf Thief 3: HP 11; AC 9 ; Save 12; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Back stab for double damage, decipher script, thievery, cant. Musket (treat as heavy crossbow), thick club, pouch containing 15 gp and 67 sp.
| Zoot Kollden, Dwarf Assassin Lvl 1: HP 4; AC 9 ; Save 15; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Cheat death, decipher script, disguise, sneak attack for double damage, skullduggery, poison. Pistol, short sword, silver dagger, dog whistle, pouch containing 16 gp.
Image via Golden Age Comic Book Stories. To be honest, I have forgotten the name of the artist, curse my metal hide.