We’ve paid the blood price for all of this. We shall gorge our insatiable hunger. Pay a tribute of blood and flesh if you want any of your disgusting grains…
Argak, Gnoll Chieftain
A region is only as strong as its capability to feed its population. Farmlands and ranches are the primary building blocks of a successful fiefdom as they feed the larger settlements that have less arable lands to produce their food. Near the sprawling city of Mistwall, arcane advancements have made wonders possible. A means to keep produce and grain fresh and edible for a long time exists now. The court wizard concocted a large apparatus capable of creating the conditions to grow produce and livestock at an accelerated pace, while also storing the food produced for at least a season before it needs to be consumed.
It is an underground greenhouse on the city’s outskirts that locals commonly refer to as the Duke’s Greenhouse; It was a decade ago when Duke Earling commissioned its creation. It has become crucial to the survival of nearby settlements ever since. Farms and ranches bring their wares to be stored at the greenhouse while the underground compound also produces a considerable amount of food. Then, it is taxed and distributed where needed.
A tragedy strikes! A pack of ravenous gnolls came from the nearby woods, stormed the Duke’s Greenhouse, and took refuge inside the compound. The devilish fiends consume the meat inside at an alarming rate. The gnolls demand more meat deliveries in exchange for letting grain, vegetables, and fruit shipments come and go as they would rather eat more meat. The authorities have tried to retake the greenhouse twice without success. Word on the street has it that the gnolls are savage, merciless beasts. Survivors claim that their leader is a tall monster with beaded braids who decapitates all who confront him with a prosthetic, scythe-shaped arm.
Rising to the Task. Sir Damtal, the Captain of the Watch, offers a hefty reward to sellswords and mercenaries willing to prove their worth against the gnolls. He has lost too many men. And risking any more puts the safety of Mistwall at risk. Sir Damtal offers the characters mounts to reach the Duke’s Greenhouse and allows them to pick an item from the armory (40 gp, 4 XP).
Level 3 Adventure
- Danger. Unsafe. Check for a Random Event every 4 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
- Light. Some areas have torches on sconces; the rest are in pitch darkness. The gnolls are dark-adapted.
- Conservation Aura. All edibles and produce stored in the underground complex do not spoil for at least 4 months. The machinery in area 2 produces this effect.
- Smell. The smell of ozone from the machinery, greenery, and fresh produce mix with the pungent stench from the gnolls creating a foul, disgusting fragrance.
|RANDOM EVENTS d6||Details|
|1||A gnoll walks into the chamber holding a half-eaten piece of meat. The hyena-folk hesitates for a moment but then lunges to attack (DC 12 DEX to surprise him).|
|2||Four peasant farmers with torches and pitchforks followed the heroes. They wish to join the party.|
|3||Without constant maintenance, the arcane device in area 2 has started to deteriorate. It malfunctions randomly (1d4). 1 – A loud blast erupts from area 2, deafening all creatures within 100 feet for 1 crawling round. 2 – The ambient temperature in the dungeon decreases to freezing levels for 1 day. Creatures in the area require appropriate attire or risk damage from exposure. 3 – All natural fires grow 5 times larger for a moment. Depending on the source (like a held torch), they may deal 1d6 damage (DC 12 DEX). 4 – The device vibrates violently and shakes the walls for 1 crawling round. It causes creatures to fall prone at the worst of times (DC 11 STR).|
|4||The court wizard’s apprentice arrives at the dungeon seeking recognition and glory. He is unsure about the party but wants no treasure (Reaction check).|
|5||A strong wind current blows through the chambers, snuffing out fires and any uncovered light sources.|
|6||Three thugs arrive at the dungeon seeking to rob the place. They are unaware of the gnolls’ occupation.|
Gnolls, hyena-folk, trace their origins to the deepest chasm of hell (DC 14 INT). They are spawned from common hyenas who gorge themselves on the flesh of innocents while empowered by an obscure demon lord. A demonic ember burns in their merciless hearts.
1. Entrance Hall
An uneventful journey through the picturesque landscape of the Earling fiefdom leads to a wooden warehouse where the underground greenhouse is.
The warehouse entrance is surrounded by abandoned carts of undelivered goods. The descending staircase inside the warehouse leads to area 1. There are four busts of past dukes and nobles, a large stone sculpture of a basin of blooming flowers, and two gnoll scouts.
Tracks. Mud-prints and droppings litter the place. Explorers identify them as those of hyenas (DC 12 INT).
2. The Arcane Apparatus
A 10-foot-tall metal device with copper radiators and countless strands of cables occupies most of the room. It hums in a pattern and produces dry warmth.
The machine creates a hospitable-for-farming environment in the dungeon that accelerates the growth of produce and avoids the spoiling of all stored edibles.
- Repair. A spellcaster may spend 1 crawling round to repair the device (DC 15 INT, 2 extra rounds on a fail) On success, Random Event 3 does not ever occur. A failure by 5 or more is equivalent to sabotage (see below).
- Sabotage. The machine can be overloaded to rapidly heat the dungeon and force the gnolls into area 1 (DC 15 INT). All creatures beyond area 4 take 1d4 damage when this occurs. This severely damages the device.
3. Greenhouse Archive
An abandoned office. Parchments, letters, and incomplete inventory logs lie scattered on the wooden desk.
The room contains accurate logs of all the food shipments in and out of the warehouse. Spending 1 crawling round reveals that the Duke’s Greenhouse contained enough food and grains to sustain the fiefdom for the entire winter season before the gnolls attacked.
4. The Greenhouse
The door opens to an impossible vista of an idyllic moor with grass, fruit trees, and vegetable plantations by the walls. The ceiling shines with a yellow light that feeds the greenery and provides warmth.
The two vents on the north wall are connected to the device in area 2. They exhaust fresh, enchanted air that accelerates the growth of any plant or livestock in the room. The magical ceiling that replaces sunlight also depends on the machine in area 2 to properly function.
- Remains. The gnolls have consumed all of the livestock in the chamber. The clean bones of sheep, chickens, and cows litter the grass. No animals remain.
- The Guards. Four gnolls stand guard in this room. When the characters arrive, the gnolls assume they are here to pay tribute (40 pounds of meat) and allow them to approach. They turn hostile when they see the heroes are empty-handed and/or wielding weapons.
5. The Larder
Rows of packed-to-the-brim shelves line the walls from floor to ceiling. There is considerably less meat than anything; clean bones are all over the floor.
The gnolls eat the meat at a ruinous pace. If left alone, they may consume all animal protein here within a week, crippling the region’s chances of survival in the upcoming winter. Grains and vegetables are untouched.
The Gluttonous. Two gnolls sleep on the floor at the end of the room, their bellies enlarged with recently eaten food. The party may surprise them (DC 10 DEX).
6. Research Center
The tallest of all gnolls stands behind a laboratory table tinkering with glassware and liquid substances.
- Argak. The gnoll chieftain leads the pack because of his combat prowess but he is also a particularly intelligent specimen. Argak has spent days understanding how the arcane machine in area 2 works. He may succeed if given enough time but is currently far from progressing.
- The Pack. Three gnolls accompany Argak in the laboratory. The gnolls become enraged and hostile as soon as they detect the characters’ intrusion into the lab.
- The Vase. A red clay vase on a plinth by the south wall contains a highly-flammable fluid that ignites in contact with air. The rune on the surface marks it out as alchemist’s fire (DC 13 INT). If thrown at a creature, the container breaks and the flames deal 2d6 fire damage.
- Treasure (3 XP). Inspecting the room for 1 crawling round yields 25 sp, 170 cp, and a potion of vitality.
- Secret Door. Pulling the iron sconce on the south wall activates a wall-moving mechanism that reveals a narrow passage into area 7 (DC 14 WIS check).
7. Secret Vault
The vault was never found by Argak and his ilk. It contains money and valuables that belong to Duke Earling. Ransacking the vault has consequences (see below).
- Treasure (7 XP). The room contains a longsword, a blank spellbook, a gold ingot (50 gp), 60 gp, 250 sp, 1,890 cp, 2 potions of healing, an arcane blueprint of the arcane machine in area 2, and a set of chainmail armor.
The characters confront Argak, the chieftain, and his hellish pack of hyena-folk in deadly combat and overcome the challenge. Gnolls, by their nature, are unable to flee this fight as their bloodthirst causes them to fight to the death. Should the party succeed, Argak and the pack are either mortally wounded or incapacitated.
Sir Damtal thanks the characters for a job well done and pays the reward. He shall hire them again soon enough as their usefulness has proved to be worthwhile.
- Broken Device. If the characters overload the machine in area 2, the court wizard complains that it may take him too long to repair it and thousands of innocents may starve in the coming winter. The party could help find crucial components to mend the damage.
- Petty Thieves. It takes the staff three days to find out about the ransacking of the vault (area 7). Disappointed, Sir Damtal orders the characters’ arrest and sends people after them. That is an adventure for another day.
Argak, the Chieftain
An upright-walking hyena with red eyes, beaded braids and a scythe-shaped, prosthetic arm.
AC: 12 (leather) HP: 16 LV2
ATK: 1 Scythe Arm +3 (1d8 + Deep Cut) MV: Near (Walk)
S:+2 D:+ 1 C:+2 I :+ 3 W:+0 C:-1
Rage. 1/day, immune to morale checks, +1d4 damage (3 rounds).
Deep Cut. Targets bleed profusely and take 2 damage after 1 round (DC 11 CON).