- OOooo, look! A barn!
- The news has come from the mountains: the Firesteel Hall has fallen. An army of orcs assaulted the mountain keep, most of them dying in the process. However, the few surviving dwarves are of an insufficient number to maintain the stronghold. As a result, they have fled the stronghold with orcish reinforcements in pursuit. Now is the chance to
plunder lootsearch through a freshly-deserted dwarven stronghold and capture steal take awaysecure any treasures left therein. Surely the adventurers mean to hold the treasures and return them to the Firesteel dwarves. Surely.
- In the process of
lootingsearching the Firesteel Keep, the adventurers come upon an outbuilding some ways away from the Keep itself. This is the barn and stable for the Firesteel steeds.
As the party soon learns, the Firesteel dwarves ride trained -- barely trained -- ankhegs. The barn itself is a stone structure with a floor and inner walls lined with metal plates to guard against the burrowing escape of the ankhegs. The walls and doors of the stalls are made of wood and are seven feet tall. The ankhegs were guarded well enough and fed often enough that the Keep did not have to worry about escape through the wood of the individual stalls.
With the recent exodus from the Keep, the dwarves left in such haste that they neglected to take with them the dozen or so "trained" ankhegs in their possession. In the time the dwarves have been gone, the ankhegs have become crazed with hunger and will likely lash out at the first fresh meet they happen to meet. In all likelihood, this "fresh meat" will be the adventurers. If this is the case, the adventurers will find the barn eerily quiet; the first two stalls will contain the remains of ankhegs that have starved to death. The other twelve (or so) stalls will contain ravenous ankhegs who happen to be sleeping to conserve what little strength they have left. If they attempt to open any stall occupied by a still-living ankheg, the ankheg will wake and attack instantly. The noise will awaken 1d12-1 other ankhegs. For each stall, there is a 50% chance that the occupant has broken through either a wall or the door to the stall with its acid spray, allowing the lucky creature to be able to enter a different stall or the barn's open space. Each new ankheg attacked or awakened will generate the same 1d12-1 chance of awakening more creatuers.
If the party contains a ranger, the ranger may use her wild empathy abilities to befriend one or more of the ankhegs, or at least calm them.
The barn contains 14 exotic military saddles of dwarvenwork quality. In a major city they can be sold for 100 gp. In a smaller town or village, they bring considerably less (25%-50% market value) because of the specialized use and limited value to a small town (unless ankhegs are common steeds in the region). In addition, the saddles are dwarf-sized, which will add to their uniqueness. It may also add to the questions asked by a merchant or by any dwarf that overhears/discovers any such attempted transaction. After all, they're not the kind of object a normal adventuring party would be able to access or use and there would likely be great interest in how the party came across such...unique...items.
Also stored in the barn are a supply of basic trail rations and a bag of holding. The bag of holding is kept in a secret wall safe behind the stack of saddles. Behind the barn is a pen filled with 1d6 cattle; these are the animals kept for the ankheg feedings. A party that scouts the barn first may find these and use these to distract and feed the ankhegs before they enter. Such an action will improve a ranger's chances of successfully calming the ankhegs (+2 circumstance modifier) as they will no longer be ravenous. If the ranger instigates the feeding, the ankhegs will associate her with their feeding; this will add an additional +1 circumstance modifier to her attempts.
- Ankheg: See 3.5 Monster Manual p.14.
This is the ninth of 26 adventures that I will be sharing over the month of September. They are designed for use with edition 3.5 of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG, although they can be easily dropped into any fantasy setting (or modern/sci-fi setting with a little work). These posts are a part of Asshat Paladin’s OSR Short Adventure Challenge , and utilize his Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Format.