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Chapter Four: Clearspring once more (1)

Nothing noticeable has changed in town. After all, your party was gone only a few days, so the town looks still the same. The only change you will find in The Drunken Badger, where Jerasp is busy repairing the damages after your little bar brawl in Chapter One.

On the other hand, walking through town your party finds that they are recognized by most people. If they have gone to the mine and rescued Daig, they will find that most people smile at them and greet them in a friendly manner. The word of the rescue has spread to town, and the people of Clearspring feel very much dependent on their miners. If there has only been the bar brawl, the faces are more neutral, some – who were in the fight – pull grimaces and hurry to get out of the party’s way.

But the characters should watch out for Eilig, the alreu. If he catches sight of the necklace, it’s sure to raise his interest – and we want the necklace to be properly returned rather than get itself reworked in the alreu’s study, don’t we?

 

Plot Guideline

This is very straightforward. The party has the necklace, and they need to return it to Nemchek.

 

GM Tips

The party has amassed quite a bit of money by now. They might choose to improve their equipment and renew their supplies before heading to The Drunken Badger.

As a matter of fact, it would be beneficial if they went over to Sage Urquart’s and got themselves healed up to their full hit points. Just a hint, you’ll see shortly why.

 

Entering The Drunken Badger, they seek out the courier. He takes the necklace, and now we’re getting to a slight twist – see below. It leads to a magical battle in the tavern, one that will trash it even further (putting quite a lot of tears to Jerasp’s eyes).

This is the real show-down, the real finisher of the adventure. Once the party succeeds, it’s all over. Give the party ample opportunity to rest up and spend their experience points, then the next game session you introduce a new adventure. There should have been enough hooks strewn throughout this module to spur your imagination.

 

Return to The Drunken Badger

Take stock of the damages you described after the bar brawl in Chapter One. All the damaged furniture has been removed from the inn, but in their place are only make-shift replacements. If you said that tables were broken, now there are simple wooden plates on tree stumps. They look very much out of place, but they are serviceable.

When the party enters, Jerasp is behind the counter, resting. Nobody else is in the commons room, and there is nothing for the barkeep to do. Seeing the party, he raises a weary hand in a jovial greeting. (Remember, the damages your party caused have been paid for by Nemchek. Your party can surely put themselves in Jerasp’s favor by clunking down a couple of gold coins on the counter, saying “For your troubles, sir.” Even though the courier paid for the damages, that would be a gesture by which the party not only admits their guilt in the brawl, but they also show themselves willing to pay themselves rather than rely on the kindness of others.)

Let’s assume that the first thing the characters do is ask for the courier.

 

Flavor text

Jerasp nods. “Yes, he’s still here. Upstairs.” He shakes his head wearily. “I’ll tell him that you’re back. Would you like some drinks while you’re waiting?”

 

If I know the right kind of players, they’ll surely take Jerasp up on that invitation. (And if you remember the comments made earlier, you should have some refreshments ready for your players as well. There’s nothing that puts the realism into a game as having the players receive drinks at the same time as their characters do. It also puts them into a relaxed mood, and that’s gonna make the coming-up twist all the sweeter.)

Jerasp distributes the drinks, then he heads up the stairs. A few moments later he reappears, followed by the courier – who looks quite a bit better than the last time we saw him. Most of the bandages are gone, and he only walks with a slight limp. Seeing the party, his eyes light up, and he immediately walks over to them.

 

Flavor text

“Have you…” Nemchek begins, swallows drily, then starts anew, “Do you have the necklace? I need… I mean, my lord has chosen the bridal present, and now I… Do you have it?!” There’s an air of nervousness and urgency about the courier.

You feel the hairs on the backs of your necks start to rise. Still, you pull out the necklace and present it to Nemchek.

His eyes light up again, and greedily he reaches for the necklace. His fingers close on the jewelry, snatch it from your hands. A smile slips on his face, a smile that doesn’t fit at all the kind, downcast courier you have known before.

Nemchek limps away, to another table, his gaze focused exclusively on the necklace. His right hand darts to one of the stones – and to your amazement the stone comes off easily! And your eyes widen when you see Nemchek flick it open, raise it to his lips and drink a liquid from it!

Immediately a change runs through him. Ripples waver in the air around Nemchek. His leg straightens out, his back rightens itself. All of a sudden he looks healthy, as if he had never been injured at all.

And he turns back to you.

And there’s a leer on his face. A smile that can only be called evil plays on his lips. “Thank you,” he says in a raspy voice. “Thank you for being gullible fools. What you have just done is…” He chuckles. His eyes begin to glow in an unnatural way – and so do the tiger’s eyes in the necklace.

Talking about the raised hair on your necks – well, it’s just about ready to shoot out like projectiles.

Nemchek rolls his head back. You can hear energy crackling somewhere, and then you see sparkles run all around the courier’s head, sparkles that flash from the necklace to the head and back. “Bend your knees,” Nemchek whispers, his voice strong and powerful, booming in the tavern despite his whisper. “Bend your knees, for your master is here!”

 

Well, now, there’s your twist, served hot and ready. The necklace is a repository of magical energy, a powerful magical appliance – and it has just turned the courier into a fully fledged wizard. One who is about to wreak havoc on Clearspring. And incidentally the party as well.

That, by the way, is also the reason why the necklace was on the altar in the bandit leader’s shack. The elf recognized its magical capability, and he rightfully assumed it would make a splendid sacrifice to his god. (To his misfortune, being a priest he hadn’t been able to use its powers. Nemchek is not so limited.)

Let’s get back to the story!

Flavor text

Behind the counter, Jerasp rises. “What is the meaning of this, Nemchek?!” he demands forcefully, not at all impressed by the show the courier is putting on.

Nemchek turns his head and looks at the barkeep as if he was looking at a bug he would sqash in a moment. “I said, bend your knees. Kneel before your master, peasant!”

“I don’t kneel for anybody,” Jerasp replies, all joviality wiped from his face. Fire burns in his eyes, flames in his voice, as he reaches under the counter – and withdraws a beautifully forged longsword, its blade glistening in the shine of the fireplace. “This is my place, and I am Jerasp Shelft. I killed a forest dragon. I can kill you.”

“Really?” Nemchek replies.

The barkeep leaps over the counter, his blade flashing. For a moment you forget all about his being overweight, all about his age, all about his harmlessness – and what you see is a young hero entering combat!

Nemchek fingers the necklace. A tiger’s eye lights up, iridescent – and a flash of yellow light flies from the gemstone, impacting right into Jerasp’s chest. The barkeep is flung backwards, straight into the counter, hitting it with his head.

The sword flies from his hand. For a tiny moment Jerasp fights to get back up again – then unconsciousness grasps him.

“Now,” Nemchek says and turns to the party, “you will kneel before me and swear allegiance. Or you will face the fool’s fate.”

Well, does your party bend their knees as commanded by Nemchek?

What?! They do? What kind of players have you assembled? They are supposed to be heroes!

Okay, seriously, I don’t think they will, and rightfully so. It’s time to fight the evil wizard! Vanquish him – and get some serious payback for having been duped into helping him!

 

 

Combat!

Your party is now facing a wizard. Which means that his personal stats aren’t particularly important – he doesn’t wield a sword or any weapon of the kind. He is only armed with the necklace. Unfortunately that is quite a powerful weapon, and a shield at the same time.

 

Nemchek's personal stats

The courier/wizard is not a particularly impressive specimen of humanity. He is more on the average side, which is reflected by his stats. Fighting with his fists or regular weapons is not his strength, and his hit points aren’t way too high. It is possible to take him out – but you have to get to him first.

All his hit points, all his abilities have been restored by the healing potion he drank from the stone in the necklace. (It was actually a vial. Every tiger’s eye in the necklace contains a healing potion – but it doesn’t take away from the stone’s magical capabilities. Oh, and Nemchek returned the stone to the necklace so it is still functional.)

Nemchek has a dagger hidden in his clothes. Should he be directly attacked, he can use it for defense or attack.

Attack Penalty

-45 (spell + agility bonus)

Number of Attacks

1

Attack Value

40

Dagger:1d10+6
(+5 strength)

Table

H1

Hit Points

H

15

RA

15

LA

15

T

61

RL

22

LL

22

Experience Points

750

 

Magical spell: protection skin 

Aside from the stones in the necklace, Nemchek also has at least one spell at his disposal. After all, he wouldn’t be much of a wizard if that weren’t the case, right? (It also enhances his defensive capabilities.)

 

Protection skin

Spell Level 3                        Cost: 5 TL

This spell allows a wizard to create a magical protective skin around himself. Although it doesn’t completely cover the body, it is invisible, and thus no attacker can predict where an opening in the skin may be. (Which makes the spell rather effective.)

The wizard receives a bonus of +40 on his attack penalty.

The spell lasts for 1d10+5 rounds.

 

GM Tips

Nemchek may have written down the spell onto a scroll he carries with him. (Or, depending on the later events, you may decide that the scroll is safely stored in his guest room upstairs in the inn. As you will see, there might be quite a bit of damage to the wizard/courier’s body…)

If so, the scroll can be researched by a wizard in the group. And now that would be of great interest to that character: The spell is of level 3 – probably a bit higher than the wizard has been able to reach thus far, and so the wizard character would have a very good reason to spend some more time in Clearspring, so that he can research the spell in quiet.

 

 

Tiger arrows

The offensive weapon at Nemchek’s disposal are the tiger’s eyes in the necklace. There are twelve stones altogether, and each can shoot a magical flash which we call a tiger arrow. If you could see it in slow motion, you would see a yellow form like a chevron shooting from the gemstone, first as small as the jewel, but growing within a fraction of a second to some five inches in length and three inches in width.

The tiger’s eye doesn’t have to be aimed at any target in particular. Nemchek’s mind guides the arrow to its target.

There is no defense against the tiger arrow. It pierces all armor and directly inflicts its damage on the target – no matter what armor said target is wearing. (Magical protection cuts in here, though. But unfortunately it isn’t likely that any of the characters has any such protection at this time.)

The tiger arrow causes 2d10+5 damage.

 

Dodging the tiger arrow

That is the one way to escape damage from the arrow. Since Nemchek will turn his gaze towards his target – naturally enough that is -, the character has a moment’s warning that a tiger arrow is about to be flung towards him. He can try to leap out of the arrow’s way and avoid its sting.

For that the character needs to roll a check against his agility (AGI).

But as you can imagine, avoiding the arrow gets ever more difficult the closer the target is to Nemchek. The warning time is shorter, the distance is closer – therefore a penalty is added to the check for each foot of proximity to Nemchek.

If the character should stand right in front of Nemchek – about a foot away from him -, there is a penalty of –20 to his AGI check. That means, he needs to roll a percentage check below AGI – 20 to successfully avoid the arrow.

For each foot of further distance, the penalty is reduced by one point. At twenty-one feet of distance and more, the character only needs to roll a regular AGI check.

You can also read off the following table to see an overview of the penalties:

  Distance from Nemchek Penalty on AGI check  
  1 ft -20  
  2 ft -19  
  3 ft -18  
  5 ft -16  
  10 ft -11  
  15 ft -6  
  20 ft -1  
  21 ft and above 0  

 

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