Chapter Three: River Island (2)
There is a limit to how many creatures the leader can create and maintain at any one time. (That is the number of party members plus two.) If one creature is destroyed, he is free to generate a replacement – but that must happen in the river, where enough water is present, and the new creature must then walk over to join the fight.
Generating a new creature takes 30 seconds. (It doesn’t tax the leader at all, control and maintenance of the creatures is handled subconsciously.) That equals one combat round.
The creatures can cross ten feet within one combat round, which isn’t extremely fast. They move at a lumbering speed. As a matter of fact they don’t really walk, their gait looks more as if the legs pour along rather than being lifted and moved forward.
Still, the water creatures can move fast during a combat, at least with their upper bodies, once they have engaged an enemy. They have two major modes of attack:
· Blunt Blow: They slam their arms like clubs into the bodies of their enemy and cause 1d10+4 damage.
· Sharp Sting: Since they are made of water, they are not limited to a humanoid appearance, and so the creatures can re-shape their hands into sharp, stiletto-like knives which they can stab at their foe for a damage of 1d10+7.
The advantage of the Blunt Blow attack is that it succeeds more easily.
Can the creatures be damaged or destroyed?
Obviously, since we’ve been talking about that, too. And in the flavor text, there is already an indication of how this happens: When the fish escapes from one of the creatures’ chest, it opens a gap in the “skin”. That gap is closed rather quickly, but some water had leaked before that. It didn’t matter at that point since the creature was still in the river and thus could replenish the missing substance right away.
On land though, well away from the Whitestream, that is a different affair. Any water that is lost, stays lost. The creature loses substance – i.e. hit points. But since the creature can easily shift its substance about, it has only one set of hit points for its entire body, not different sets for head, torso, and limbs as the player characters have. This also means that there is no chance of scoring a critical hit which quickly takes out the opponent.
As to how you should describe them: Picture the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick, in the second Terminator feature. The terminator was made of “liquid metal”, and it instantaneously reformed after being hit by shotgun pellets or whatever else was thrown at the robot. In the same way, the water creatures seem barely effected by any sword blows or other kinds of impact. Water sloshes out, but otherwise the gap is quickly closed and the creature renews its relentless attack.
The water creatures are not particularly smart: Their mode of attack is to simply lay about themselves. They can switch between blunt blow and sharp sting attacks, and do so to some intelligent degree, but there is no finesse to their attack. Neither is there any pause; again, think of the terminator.
* H1 only applies insofar as the various hit zones can be used to describe the progress of combat. But there are no critical zones whatsoever! Hitting the head of one of the creatures has no more effect than hitting an arm. Accordingly, there are no separate hit points for the hit zones, as explained above!
Even though the water creatures are controlled by the bandit leader, you have to treat them as individual fighters in combat. They act independently from each other, and independently from the bandit leader as well.
There is the possibility that the bandit leader can call on the creatures to directly protect him. Use this option sparingly, and only as a last ditch effort. Before, have the creatures engage the party in open combat, keeping them away from the bandit leader by their sheer force of attack.
Slowly your characters should whittle down their numbers, and the first of them can engage the bandit leader. As you can tell from the stats, he is a decent warrior, but the elfwood sword gives him an uncanny advantage.
A strategy you should employ for the bandit leader is that, once he sees himself in dire troubles, he rushes to the water line. Here, each newly formed water creature can almost instantly attack your party. (If he steps into the water, the creatures are nearly indestructible. In that case the party should switch to long range weapons like bows to attack the bandit leader. Against these weapons the water creatures pose no hindrance whatsoever, the projectiles simply pass through their watery bodies.)
The combat concludes when the bandit leader is killed. At that point the magic fueling the water creatures ceases, and they disperse into the water from which they were formed.
Ordinary combat rules apply.
Now that the battle is over, it is time to gather the well-earned rewards. Your party will be beaten up severely, I’d wager, and if they have any healing potions, now would seem the time to use them. There’s also the shack of the bandit leader where they can rest; he probably has some food stored there, and a stove to cook. (Let’s also hope that those in the party who can cook are still in good enough health to work their earthly magic at the stove.)
Then there’s also the matter of finding the necklace all this trouble has been about. Never fear, it is in the shack, and the party can safely retrieve and return it to Clearspring.
But first, let’s take care of the descriptions, shan’t we?
It’s built from wooden logs, oak from the looks of it, and very solidly built at that. Obviously the leader intended to spend a lot of time there, perhaps he has already lived a couple of years at that shack, biding his time until he can find better profits in Trebonshire Forest.
There’s a flat roof on top, covered with reeds. It looks secure enough to weather a rainstorm, provided that repairs are made instantly afterwards.
If the characters choose to closely inspect the walls of the shack, they will find inscriptions in the elven tongue carved into them – apparently over the course of many months or years. Should one of the characters understand elven writing, she will find that these are religious inscriptions devoted to Mannannan. It seems that the bandit leader carved one holy line into his shack every week.
Entering the shack, the characters will find that there are only two rooms in it. The first is comparatively large, 3 by 4 yards, and clearly the living room of the bandit leader. To one side there is a simple mattrass on the floor, covers disorderly on it, along with an open religious book. A closet contains some clothes next to it, and on a sideboard across the opposite wall there are cooking utensils as well as some fish the leader caught earlier in the day. A chest containing tools stands in the middle of the room and has apparently served as a table. Between the chest and the sideboard is a stove, fueled by logs in its bottom. The bottom is sooty, more proof that the bandit leader has spent quite a bit of time here.
At the wall opposite the door, there is an altar. Fashioned from wood, it is clearly recognizable as a holy shrine by the silk drapes over it, two candles on both ends, and religious imagery painted on the wall above. Attached to the wall are a number of odd objects that are connected to water – shells, fish bones, pebbles, and three vials containing water. If a priest is in the group, she will immediately sense magical emanations from these objects. (Should she be a cleric of Mannannan, the feeling will be extremely strong, and she will feel the immediate urge to kneel down in prayer before the altar.)
And on the altar, in a silver bowl, lies a beautiful necklace. It has been carefully arranged in the bowl, its gemstones sparkling lustily even in the dim light inside the shack. Yes, this is the necklace your party has been looking for, the bridal present that was stolen from the courier. Finally! The party has been successful!
The necklace is made from silver, with gold threads inlaid. Its clasp is silver. At the front, gemstones seem interwoven into the silver. The jewels are tiger’s eyes (12) and hyacinth (3) stones, their yellow-brownish surfaces polished and shining. The tiger’s eyes especially catch the attention, for their (slightly) striped colors seem to reverse completely when viewed from a different direction.
Next to the altar, wedged into a corner, is a slim door which leads to the second room. This is a storage room which contains some more tools as well as dried and salted fish and other supplies – and the loot from the bandits’ ambushes.
Actually, there isn’t too much here. As mentioned before, the bandits haven’t been overly successful; there hasn’t been a lot to steal in the first place. In addition, the bandit leader had sufficient contacts to quickly sell any wares his people stole. So, most of what your characters find are actually coins. (Which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Coins are easy enough to carry, after all.)
So, how much money is there?
We’ll dispense with considering any copper pieces; instead let’s look at gold dragons and silver lions:
In addition to that, there are assorted gemstones. Roll 4d10+20 to find out how much they are worth in gold dragons.
Once the characters have all healed up, it’s time for the party to leave and fulfill the final part of their mission: return the necklace to the courier.
It is up to you how eventful that trip back to Clearspring will be. You can take another look at the random encounter table in Chapter Two and spring some of those surprises on your party. But you might as well decide that the characters have deserved a clean, quick journey back into town.
Don’t forget, even if the party has not encountered a creature that you would have loved them to run into, there are always more adventures in store for this party. Your campaign might be running a long time, so you ought to get plenty of opportunity to try out those creatures.
And you should also consider that there might be something at Clearspring which requires the characters to be in decent condition. Just read on…