Rumor has it that a warlock lived there a long time ago. But now, all we see are giant rats!
“The cursed windmill” they call it. The townsfolk believe that the old mill half a mile from the city is home of home to a witch, or a troll, or three faeries, depending on whom you ask. Only one thing is certain among the varied versions people tell: no one goes near the windmill.
Those who live closest to the mill know that the place is not what people say it is. It is not nearly as dangerous as the superstitious townsfolk would have outsiders believe. But it is not harmless either. For some reason, packs of enormous rats live in the tower. The rats guard the area against outsiders and sometimes make forays to nearby farms. These rats cause considerable damage to harvests and kill small livestock from time to time.
The Mill’s Past
The windmill was once the home of a warlock and his family. The mage was named Hardell. He devoted his life to the study of the arcane. In particular, he studied the art of transmutation of living creatures into different shapes and sizes. His experiments were considered immoral by most other mages; they caused insurmountable suffering to the subjects of his foul spells. Such experiments from 50 years ago fuel the stories about the old windmill today. Hardell abandoned the mill long ago but people refuse to explore the warlock’s former home.
The windmill and the land are valuable but the authorities would rather pass the giant rats problem to someone else. As payment for services offered to the city, the characters receive the deed to the warlock’s former home. The characters can settle in the windmill as their base of operations afterward but they must clean it first.
Features of the Windmill
The following features correspond to the cursed windmill map; areas 1 through 12.
Furniture. All objects within the mill and the adjoining house are protected from the passage of time by an abjuration spell. The ancient place remains as it was 50 years ago, when Hardell, the warlock, abandoned it.
Smells and Sounds. The stench of rat droppings and rot is present in all areas of the mill and the dungeon. The chirping sound of rats comes from below. In addition, the low-pitched sound of the machinery moving when the wind blows echoes throughout the tower.
Doors. Each door has a standard lock (DC 14 Thieves’ Tools). The command word “erandi” unlocks all doors.
1. Surrounding Area
Rolling grassy hills with sparse peach trees surround the old windmill. Its sharp profile against the horizon is a landmark impossible to miss. Rat burrows and narrow tunnels surround the mill. After dusk, the rats meander through the area; unthreatened by outsiders. A competent tracker finds the burrows and multiple sets of rat footprints marking the soil (DC 13 Survival).
The doors to areas 2 and 3 are inscribed with draconic runes that read “Keep out! This is Hardell’s home”.
Wooden crates, barrels, and a table with an assortment of implements and tools surround the windmill’s center shaft. The shaft rotates slowly, proof that the machinery above works, despite the lack of maintenance. The wooden crates contain fresh food, enough for two weeks. The metal trapdoor by the south wall leads to a narrow ladder. It descends to the dungeon landing near area 8.
3. Living Room
The side house attached to the mill features a living room area. There are kids’ toys and trinkets on the shelves and a small wooden table. Two clay horses are etched with the names of Hardell’s children, Sarah and Daneel. It appears that whoever lived here abandoned the place in a hurry. Magic runes adorn the east wall. A detect magic spell reveals that the runes provide the abjuration magic that protects the windmill from the passage of time. Erasing them causes time to affect it normally.
4. Mill Machinery
The whole second story is devoted to the mill. A 10-foot-tall millstone is attached to cogs and wheels. They are in good condition and rotate slowly when the wind blows. Due to friction, a few parts of the machinery must be replaced so that the mill performs its function. Pouring grain into the contraption as it is now would not produce flour. The stones are too far apart to grind anything.
The side-house bedroom contains a double bunk bed, a rug, and a wooden wardrobe. The room belonged to Hardell’s children. There are several toys tucked under the bed. The wardrobe contains several clothing changes for teenagers, a small wooden chest, and a diary.
Sarah’s Diary. The notebook reveals that Hardell and his two teenage children traveled west 50 years ago to visit an old friend on the other side of the ocean. Hardell’s friend was an alchemist and he claimed in writing that he found a map to retrieve a powerful staff. The warlock decided to go meet him. They never returned.
Unruly Rodents. Three giant rats hide on the upper bunk bed. They jump on trespassers as soon as they enter the room. They flee if dropped to half their hit points.
6. High Bedroom
The warlock, Hardell, lived here. He only used the chamber for rest. The wardrobe contains three robes and a pair of leather boots. Hardell kept a backup spellbook in the wardrobe, it contains seven level 3 warlock spells.
The spellbook contains snippets of Hardell’s research and a glimpse of the nature of his experiments. It mentions two objects: a powerful magical artifact that Hardell needed for his lifetime work, the staff of flesh, and a map to its remote location. Unfortunately, the map is not here. Hardell’s portrait by the north wall depicts him as a tall, slim man with a black beard and an inquisitive gaze.
Treasure. Apart from the spellbook, there is a secret compartment within the wardrobe (DC 16 Perception). Pushing a small button opens it. It contains 90 gp, 80 sp, two potions of healing, and a spell scroll of polymorph.
7. Mill Blades
The windmill blades slowly rotate and power the mechanical contraption. An observant person notices that the blades’ lining is damaged and needs repairing. The mill should move half as fast if the blades are repaired.
Unwelcome. The highest part of the roof is home to an aggressive swarm of bats. The critters drop down to attack any trespassers until slain. This is their territory.
8. Magic Circle
Hardell performed his experiments in this chamber. The granite magic circle by the west wall features dark red stains; blood from creatures that perished during his foul, arcane experiments. The one-foot tall magic circle doubles as a teleportation circle. A mage can copy the rune sequence to teleport back to the windmill later on.
Enhanced spellcasting. Spells cast while standing on the magic circle are considered one level higher.
The Rat Burrows. The rats are attracted to the arcane auras in this chamber. Dozens of burrows pierce the stone walls of the chamber. Two swarms of rats and four giant rats protect this chamber from trespassers.
9. False Vault
The chest features a poison gas trap. If opened, creatures within 10 feet of it take 4d6 poison damage (DC 16 Constitution save). The contraption can be disarmed by a mechanically oriented person (DC 14 Thieves’ Tools).
Secret Door. A hidden lever on the wall can be pulled to reveal a dark, narrow passage to area 11.
10. Underground Study
Hardell’s research papers and magic scrolls are on the desk. They depict evil transmutation experiments meant to fuse different creatures and species. As recorded, Hardell was never fully successful. He coveted the staff of flesh; he believed the relic would allow him to achieve his goal of mastering a perfect forceful transmutation.
Secret Door. A hidden lever on the wall can be pulled to reveal a dark, narrow passage to area 12.
Treasure. A hidden compartment under the desk contains six vials of lethal poison (DC 10 Constitution).
11. Secret Vault
This secret chamber connects areas 9 and 10. The two stone chests are unlocked. It appears the mage meant to return one day; he left a bountiful hoard behind.
Treasure. The chests contain 2,100 gp, 4,200 sp, and the location of Hardell’s alchemist friend. Daneel placed a silent alarm spell on the chest. He knows the characters have trespassed their home (see Development).
12. Hiding Room
This chamber is a secret hiding place meant to be used in emergencies. The secret door can be barred from within to prevent others from accessing the chamber. Shelves on the walls contain dried rations, enough for a week. A pocket on the north wall contains a leather pouch of material components and two spell scrolls of teleportation circle. An observant person notices that the room was not used by the past owners (DC 14 Perception).
The characters shall own the windmill but it is necessary to clean it from the rats and bats. The rat plague proves to be difficult to deal with. They return every five days to area 8 at least four times before they decide to look for a different home. After that, the windmill can be the characters’ base of operations. The circle of teleportation in the dungeon shall be most useful to them.
Hardell left 50 years ago for the staff of flesh, it is unlikely he is still alive. His children, Sarah and Daneel, are now warlocks. Daneel knows from the alarm spell that someone has visited their home. The siblings shall return soon but that is an adventure for another day.