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Chapter Two: Trebonshire Forest (3)

Encounter Type 3

In this encounter, your party finds tracks of the bandits. (Should none of your characters possess the skill tracking, you can tell them that the highwaymen aren’t very good at hiding their tracks. It doesn’t jibe too well with their having eluded capture this long; but you can make up a story that today was an exception for some reason.)

These tracks could be footprints, broken off twigs, or perhaps a coin or two scattered on the ground.


GM Tips

Of course it is quite possible that your party decides not to follow these tracks. Even a chracter with the tracking skill might think that these are indications of some harmless travellers – perhaps they bought your explanation of the bandits’ prowess in evading capture, so that now they are convinced the bandits would never leave such tracks.

If that happens, simply switch to Encounter Type 1. They’ve had their chance, haven’t they?


The party can now follow the track to the bandits’ lair. The lair is on a small clearing, some thirty feet in diameter – just enough for them to have built a campfire and put down their gear. What little there is of the latter; they move quickly so they don’t bother with lugging around lots of stuff. The most recent loot is in bags by the campfire, in view of all the bandits at the lair. (Each will receive his share by the bandit leader, once the loot is brought to the leader’s hide-out.)

The bandits have posted two guards in the direction of the road – incidentally the direction from where the characters are coming. Now, if the party is cunning, they will try to take out the guards first, without alarming the rest of the bandits, if possible.

How to do that?

One way is for a character with the hunting skill to sneak up to the guards and attack them from behind, trying to cut the throat with one stroke. (Of course, since it is two guards, there ought to be two of your characters doing this.) For this, roll a check against hunting. If it succeeds, the character is close enough to attack her victim from behind.

Note: If none of your characters has chosen the hunting skill, they may try to sneak up to the guards as well. Of course their chances are considerably less – in fact, they are half of the hunting skill. Since that skill starts at 35+Intelligence Bonus, an unskilled character may roll a check against half that value.

Now the character can make a called attack (cf. Game Master’s Guide) to the head of his victim. (The player can decide whether he wants to try to cut his victim’s throat or just to knock him unconscious. No matter what his decision, the rules for a called attack apply.)

Another way is to attack the guards with a long range weapon, such as a longbow. The character(s) trying this method need not possess the hunting skill, but they need to check whether they have a clean shot at the guards while still hidden from them. Have the players roll a check against their attributes of intelligence and agility whether they succeed at this.

Then they can attack the guards and try to take them out.


GM Tips

It is up to you to decide whether the guards can alert their companions. Think about what would help the story the most.

A very drastic example: Let’s say the random encounter table has thrown a couple of monsters in the party’s way, and their hit points are running rather low. Now that they have the chance of gaining an advantage, you should by all means give it to them! The story isn’t much good if all the characters die before you reach the end!


If the guards have been eliminated successfully, the party can now try to sneak to the lair of the bandits – perhaps try to surround them, so that every character has a clean line of attack. (Ideally, the party will try to position their members with long range weapons so that they can fire a couple of arrows or bolts into the bandits’ middle. That way they might be able to take down one or two more of the bandits, before the mélée starts.)

At any rate, check again whether the sneaking is successful. (See above for more information.)


GM Tips

Again, try to keep the story rolling. In this situation, I would think that the players would appreciate a successful raid. (And so should you. You know that this won’t be the end, and for the players it will become a bittersweet memory that they managed to surprise the bandits but still had to go on.)

So if one of the players fumbles her check against sneaking slightly, by a few points, her character does make an inadvertent noise. But luckily, the bandits just look up – then shake their heads and tell themselves that it was a rabbit or some other forest animal they just heard.

If one or more of the players seriously fumble, the bandits won’t be that silly, of course. They’ll get up right away, draw their weapons and be ready for the fight.


If the party manages to surprise the bandits, the highwaymen cannot parry for two rounds. The explanation is that most of them are sitting on the ground when the party attacks; first they have to get up, then over come the shock. (What they can do is attack after the first round. It’s the first thing on each bandit’s mind, and only the second thought goes to defense.)



Now that the bandits have been vanquished, the party will want to secure the necklace that was stolen from the courier, Nemchek. Unfortunately, as I have already pointed out, the necklace isn’t with the bandits. The party will have to find out where it is, and several ways are pointed out below.

But first let’s deal with the…


Immediate Rewards

Although the bandits don’t have much with them, there are a few items of interest. First off, there is – naturally enough – money. The characters have to ransack the bodies of their slain enemies to find a number of gold coins.

To determine how much they put together, follow this guide:

  Type of coins Roll...  
  Copper sparrows (cp)

3 ten-sided dice; each die stands for either the single, double or triple digits. If you roll e.g. 4,2,9, that means the bandits had 429 sparrows with them.

  Silver lions (sp)


  Gold dragons (gp)




There are also two special magical items:


Doppleganger Cape

This item looks like a simple blue linen cape, with a copper clasp that has a rune-like symbol engraved in it. But it has a tremendous effect in battle, for it creates the illusion of a doppleganger of the wearer three feet away. The illusion is perfect (but can, of course, be counterchecked with the proper skills or class abilities). The doppleganger will match any movements taken by the original, e.g. walking or striking a sword. When it hits a solid surface, it passes through it.

The wearer uses this illusion to distract the opponent. In the best of cases, only the doppleganger is attacked, while the wearer can safely launch her own attack.

The cape is activated when the clasp’s rune is pushed vigorously. The effect lasts for five minutes, or until the rune is pushed once more.

After using the effect, the cape needs a while to recharge: After two (normal, not combat) rounds it is ready for use again.


GM Tips

The Doppleganger Cape must not come out of nowhere. One of the bandits has been wearing it before, and he has used it in the fight against the party.

That also neatly explains how the characters know what exactly the cape does, and that it isn’t just another piece of clothing.


Amulet of Power

Made of silver, it looks rather unassuming. There are runes in the magical writing on its back, while in its front has been etched a relief of a historic battle scene. It has gone through some wear and tear, and right now it is well hidden under the clothes of one of the slain bandits.

In order to find it, the characters need to specifically search for other items aside from money.

Should they find it, make a special note that there are runes on the back. This should draw the attention of any wizard in the group; she can read the magical language, after all. If she tries to read the writing, it says, “Made of silver am I, yet no coins value me, for the strength of Namuras I lend to my wearer in dearest peril. The one time, feel the grand wizard’s strength, and recall it for your life.”

What does the amulet do? As the writing indicates, it grants its wearer magical strength – i.e. TL points -, but only once. After the TL points contained in the amulet have been expanded, there is only the silver left (value = 30 sp).

The amulet provides 50 TL points.


GM Tips

The Namuras mentioned on the amulet was a powerful magic wielder in the time of the Unholy Assault. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a wizard but rather the lordpriest of Carawlk Falken (cf. Interlude 2: The Castle of Carawlk), as you can find out in Ruins and Hopes.

Also, the strength granted by the amulet is far below the power that Namuras called his own. It was he who cast the spell over the castle, to have the defenders’ skeletons rise under attack – quite a powerful spell.

So why Namuras?

The explanation is that the amulet was crafted several decades after the real Namuras had been killed in the castle, and his legend had been distorted in re-telling, so that he became known as a wizard rather than a cleric. At the time of the amulet’s creation, Namuras had become a mythic figure – much like the Merlin of our own legends -, and using his name could easily have been a method to attract customers.

(You might wish to elaborate on such legends. Work into these tales the problem that Namuras was perceived as a wizard, but all his real deeds were of a clerical nature. Such tales can liven up your campaign, and they might hold the key for further adventures.)



Excuse me, which way to the bad guy?

The easiest way to introduce what happened is to have one of the bandits survive, at least enough that he can – literally – cough out the details. Your party will quickly survey that the necklace is missing, and so it should be logical to question any surviving bandit.


Flavor text

“Why… should I tell ya anythin’?” the man coughs up. Foamy blood bubbles from his lips, pain racks his face in spasms. You can tell the bandit isn’t far away from joining his dead comrades, and you feel a sense of hurry to get any information out of him.

{At this point, the party members are likely to spout threats. They have extremely little effect on a man about to die. What is likely to have effect is one of the following:

(i)   the offer to kill him quickly and relieve him from his pain

(ii)   the offer to heal him, either through a cleric in the party or with the aid of a healing potion

If none of those two options are offered by the party, try the following option:}

Listening to your suggestions, a cruel grin slips onto the bandit’s face, and a gleam of hope sparkles in his eyes. “Heal me!” he croaks. “Heal me… then I’ll… tell ya!”

{This should spark a nice little conversation among your party whether to waste a healing spell on a bandit. If they decide to do so, follow the rules on healing and decide accordingly how much better the bandit is doing. Adjust the following text to the level of his – remaining – injuries.}

The bandit shrugs off the last vestiges of the pain he felt before. His eyes clear and bright, he sits up to look closely at the party (and obviously looking for a way to escape). “What’re ya lookin’ for? Nothin’ of import ever stays with us, the boss always keeps the loot ‘n hands us our share in coins. Keeps us mobile. Kept us mobile, I guess.

“Whatever ya want, it’s at the hideout of the boss. Ya’ve gotta go there and deal with him, that’s the thing.”

{The bandit delays giving away any details of the way to the the hideout. Now that he is healed again, though, he is receptive to threats again. The party only needs to remind the highwayman who put him near the brink of death in the first place, and that they can put him back there without any problems.}

“Awright, awright, no need t’get pushy, awright?” the bandit hurries to say, then grumpily continues, “The boss got himself a place on a river island, seven miles to the north. Can’t miss it. The Whitestream takes a turn there, the bend widens out to a big bulge of fifty yards across. And in the river, there is a slip of land where the boss has his hideout.” He grins. “Ya can’t see it from land, the shack is so covered with wood and stuff ya have t’know it’s there to see it. When ya’re on the island, it ain’t a problem. Gotta think of going there in the first place, though.”

{Your players should ask how much opposition they can expect on the island. How many guards does the bandit leader have with him?}

“Guards?” the bandit chuckles – and nearly chokes. Quickly he coughs and reasserts his self-assured posture. “He doesn’t have any guards. The boss doesn’t need any.” He pauses again, then offers the explanation, “Nobody ever goes to the island, anyway. Ya don’t think there’d be anythin’ worth the trouble of gettin’ there, y’know?”


That should cover this option nicely. The party now has all the information it needs to proceed, i.e. go to the river island, fight the bandit leader and get the necklace.

In the meantime, the matter of the surviving highwayman has to be taken care of. Despite the blusterous threats before, the party probably is not up to just murdering the bandit outside of a fight. So they are left with these options:

·         Let the bandit go: Pretty easy and straightforward, but this is a highwayman who’s done his share of killing innocent passersby, so this option isn’t a great solution.

·         Tie his hands and take him along for the trip: Not a great solution, either. The bandit shall be brought to justice – presumably at Clearspring -, but he’ll encumber the party throughout the trip.

·         Tie him to a tree (or use some other mode to keep him in place) and fetch him on the way back from the river island: In this case, the bandit would still be brought back to Clearspring to face trial, but he wouldn’t prove cumbersome to the party. On the other hand, there is the possibility that the highwayman could escape – or that some beast of the forest could decide to make a quick meal of him. Then of course the party would have to face the fact that they are responsible for his death.

(Any other, better ideas by the party are to be applauded.)


GM Tips

If the party doesn’t seem to be able to make up their minds what to do, or everything seems set to delay the next chapter for way too long, just put an end to it by the bandit suddenly attacking the party.

He might have a stiletto or some other weapon hidden in his boot, which he pulls out surreptitiously and then stabs the nearest member of the party. His intent is not to become some sort of killing or avenging machine, rather he wants to escape into the forest and get as far away as possible.

In the process, though, he opens up the avenue to another fight in which the bandit may be killed without any remorse. Or the bandit can successfully flee, in which case the conversation is rendered moot as well.

(Of course, if the bandit escapes, the party might decide to pursue and capture him. Oh, well, let them.)


Alternative methods of information

Unfortunately there’s also a very good chance that the party has been a little too efficient in their fight against the bandits, so that none is left alive to conveniently provide the story. In that case, you need to provide the party with clues so that they can piece together where the necklace can be found.

Try placing a few tell-tale items on the bodies of the slain bandits (each item on a different body). Taken together they paint a complete picture, and the party needs to put their minds into gear to figure out how to go on in the adventure. (It was the party who didn’t leave anybody alive, did they? Very inconvenient.)

The items are:

·         Area map, roughly scribbled, with river island marked by a circle

·         A ledger (small) containing a list of items that are either crossed out or circled with the note “HO” (which stands for “Hideout”) written next to it. Among the items marked with “HO” is one necklace, presumably the one your party is looking for.

·         Notes or diary, in which one bandit wrote down how angry he was that the bandit leader always gets the entire loot and pays them in coins. “Everything to the hideout?! Why?!”

You are free to change these items or add new ones that you feel are more interesting. Remember that the bandits need a reason to carry these clues with them – a reason aside from providing their killers with the needed information. The bandits might not have fully trusted the bandit leader, or – in the case of the map – that highwayman probably didn’t trust his own navigational skills.

Give each item a bit of thought why it was created in the first place. You might want to tell your party about it, but you should do so only if it seems necessary – or if the players ask.


And the party resumes its course

Either way, the party should by now have learned that the necklace is on the river island, along with the bandit leader who is alone.

Which should raise one or two eyebrows around your gaming table. One man, with a lot of money? It may not exactly be a vast fortune, but it would surely be a nice catch for a thief or some other bandits. Nonetheless the bandit leader seems very secure in his place…

The party should now head towards the river island, six miles to the north, further through Trebonshire Forest – and into the next chapter.


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