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Chapter Four: Clearspring once more (2)
The three hyacinth (or jacinth) gemstones in the necklace also have a function of their own: they serve as a protective shield around Nemchek which protects him from all physical attacks.
Each stone can cover one attack.
When a character attacks Nemchek with a physical weapon, the blade (or projectile, if e.g. a bolt is fired from a crossbow) will bounce off an invisible wall around the courier. (The wall becomes visible for a fraction of a second as a brownish energy field.) At the same time, the respective hyacinth stone in the necklace flares – a direct sign to the players that the hyacinths are involved in creating the shield. Since they also know that there are only three stones of this kind in the necklace, they might get the proper idea on how to assault Nemchek.
If more than three attacks are executed in a single round, the hyacinth shield is overloaded. A fourth attack is not blocked and will pass through the shield, at more or less its full strength. Then the normal attack values and defense penalties apply. (Meaning that Nemchek can still try to dodge the blow. A parry isn’t possible since he doesn’t carry any weapon.)
But the shield still takes some of the sting out of the attack. When rolling for hit points, deduct a penalty of –4 hit points from the damage.
The hyacinth shield only repels physical attacks – such as swords, fists, warclubs or projectiles fired from a longbow or crossbolt. It does not effect energy attacks – such as fireballs or the like. If there is a wizard in the party, he is free to employ his magical abilities to assault Nemchek.
But then, the magical protections of the wizard come into play. He wears a silver ring that adds some protection against magical attacks.
Against spells or blessings (but not regular, physical attacks), the ring adds +10 to Nemchek’s normal defense penalty.
There are a few unorthodox methods to attack the courier/wizard, and all of them have to do with fire. Remember the fireplace right in the middle of the commons room? Well, if it’s there, then let’s use it!
The hyacinth shield was designed to deflect attacks – i.e. comparatively heavy and fast objects. It was not designed to deflect small, relatively slow objects, like rain drops. Just think about it – if the three hyacinth stones would react to every rain drop in a storm, they would be overloaded right away, and any attack would hit them!
By that token, small objects can pass through the shield and hit Nemchek.
Throwing a burning log or coal at Nemchek
There are tools at the fireplace which are used to handle the fire. After all, you need to move the logs and coals in it around to keep the fire burning. So there are ways for the characters to safely grasp a log and hurl it at Nemchek.
Of course, running to the fireplace, grasping a log opens them up to an attack by the courier/wizard. And while handling the log, they cannot dodge a tiger arrow fired at them. (In other words, they need a distraction by the other members of the party – those that can dodge the attack.)
Throwing the log at Nemchek requires another AGI check. If it succeeds, the log itself will bounce off the shield (using up one hyacinth stone), but burning flakes will pass through the shield and hit the courier for 2 hit points worth of damage.
Drenching Nemchek with alcohol
My goodness, we’re in a tavern! There’s plenty of hard liquor around, and all of it burns extremely well!
By the same token as rain drops aren’t repelled by the shield, so isn’t a flood of alcohol cast over the courier. A character who tries to do this first has to get a bottle of liquor, unstopper it, and then throw it at Nemchek – requiring another AGI check. There are two ways of trying to drench Nemchek with the alcohol:
· Pouring/throwing the contents of the bottle: The liquid easily passes the shield, covers one body part of the wizard in flammable alcohol. (The GM has to roll 2d10 to find out which hit zone was covered. Cf. Game Master’s Guide, Chapter 4.6.1. Regular Humanoids for further details.) Count 100% of the liquid hitting the courier.
· Throwing the entire bottle at Nemchek: The bottle itself will bounce off the shield (using up one hyacinth stone during the round), but some of the liquid will spill through it onto Nemchek. Count 50% of the liquid hitting the courier.
Next up is the matter of igniting the alcohol. For that you can use either a log from the fireplace or a magical attack such as a fireball. (A fire arrow works just as well.)
You need to make a called attack on the body part which has been drenched in alcohol. (Cf. Game Master’s Guide, Chapter 4.2. Called Attacks for further details.) If it succeeds, you light the alcohol, and Nemchek goes up in flames!
For each round that the fire is burning on the wizard, he receives a damage of 2d10+10 hit points on the body part.
Nemchek can try to stop the fire by throwing himself to the ground. Rolling around, he has a 65% chance of extinguishing the flames per round. During that round he cannot attack, but the hyacinth shield is still in full effect.
Firing a burning arrow at Nemchek
If a character has a longbow, he can drench the tip of one arrow in alcohol and light it by the fireplace (or with a handy Modayrean firelighter). Then he can fire the missile at Nemchek.
The usual combat rules apply to see whether he hits the courier.
If he does, the missile itself is repelled, but like the burning log, flakes and sparks hit the courier for 2 hit points worth of damage.
Let’s not forget about our heroic barkeep, all right? He was knocked unconscious at the beginning of the fight, but he will stay so only for 5 combat rounds. After that, he gets back to his feet, retrieves his sword (unless one of the annoying player characters has snatched it), and renews his attack on Nemchek.
Jerasp may have had a few years too many of quiet, eating his wife’s marvelous food, but there’s still a lot of fire burning in his soul, and he well remembers how to wield a sword. What’s more, he knows how to fight properly – so, when he joins the fight alongside the party, he does so intelligently, and he fights at least as well as any other member of the group.
Oh, bloody hell, just let it run its course. You have all the information you need to direct the fight. You know the characters and can add their proper reactions.
Have fun watching the battle! And, don’t forget, you’re handling both the bad guy and our hero Jerasp, so you’re part of the fight.
You’ve done it! (I hope so, anyway.) The evil wizard has fallen! The party is victorious! And some of them are still alive! (Actually, it would be nice if all of them were still among the living, but – oh, well, death kind of happens when you battle an evil wizard…)
Pity about that, really. Once Nemchek died, the necklace flares in a blinding light, every stone glaringly bright – and then, all of a sudden, everything falls dark! The necklace fuses with the body of the dead wizard, burning itself into his chest. The silver melts, flowing in a rather pretty – though grotesque – pattern over the wizard’s chest. Unless the torso was the body part ignited by the alcohol, the clothes are set aflame, burning wildly for a few seconds.
The gemstones darken, cracking up into tiny splinters that fall from the necklace, never to be used again. Changed as they are, they don’t even have any value left in them.
Oh, Eilig the alreu might find some use for them, but there’s no magic in them anymore, and it doesn’t matter one bit to the party. (It could be a very nice – and shocking – effect in later adventures if you have Eilig create one of his objets d’art from those splinters, something that is captivatingly beautiful. But the characters always will remember what it’s made from, how close to death they came. Think about it, it’s a marvelous scene – and your players are going to remember it for a long time! Not to mention that they’ll hate you for that reminder, but – hey, that’s part and parcel of being the GM!)
… a hero’s funeral is right in line. There are no resurrections available in Clearspring or anywhere in the vicinity, so the character is dead and will stay so forever. It’s important for the players to realize that in Gushémal, death is as dangerous – and as final – as in the real world.
Nonetheless you can put it to good use and dream up a wonderful, tear-jerker funeral for the character, with the entire town present and mourning a person who saved them from a terrible fate but paid the ultimate price for it.
Give it your best shot!
By the gods, the player of that fallen character ought to remember this one person for a long time and mourn him/her as well, remembering what the character could have done if s/he hadn’t perished. And if you give the character a great send-off to the beyond, your players will love you for it. You value the characters as much as the players do.
Not to mention that writing and preparing funeral scenes can be a lot of fun…
You saved the town of Clearspring from an evil wizard who would have become a dictator not just of this small place but maybe of a greater part of the Wild Coast – and the locals recognize your valiant effort. From now on, you are regarded as local heroes, and the party can expect preferential treatment wherever they go.
(Of course, if the party decides to make Clearspring their home base, this effect will wear off after a while – unless the party proves their heroic qualities time and again. If they do so… brother, will they be adored by the populace!)
Jerasp will also earn a goodly deal of adoration by the people. He was part of your group rescuing Clearspring – and perhaps he was the one who suggested the winning strategy. Accordingly the barkeep will finally be fully recognized as a hero, and any doubt about the origin of the dragon’s tooth in his trophy collection will vanish.
I’m sorry to say there are no direct rewards from vanquishing Nemchek. Oh, the party can check out the contents of his money pouch and whatever he’s stored in his room upstairs. (Roll 2d10+20 for the gold coins.) As a matter of fact, though, he wasn’t very rich. Most of his coins were spent on staying at The Drunken Badger, and paying for the damages of your bar brawl.
But there are indirect rewards. For one thing, Jerasp has just become your best friend. After all, you faced a deadly menace together, you fought together, and Jerasp is someone who never forgets this kind of thing. So the party gets free shelter at the inn for as long as they wish, along with free food and drink. (They shouldn’t overstay their welcome, and Jerasp will be a far better friend if they insist on paying their bills nonetheless. Remember, Clearspring could be your home base for a long time to come, and you should keep the locals as friends.)
Now you know that the hook to the adventure was fake. It was all an invention of the supposed courier. In truth he never worked for his supposed lord, there never was an intended marriage.
What really happened was that Nemchek had acquired the necklace by some means and was travelling through Trebonshire Forest to some unknown destination from where he wanted to start his rule of terror. Then he was ambushed by the bandits, the necklace unfortunately out of reach. That was the only reason why the bandits managed to take him and steal the necklace.
After the incident, Nemchek was found and brought to the inn where he invented the story of the bridal present. Without the necklace, his wizardly powers were close to nil, so he had to make up some kind of explanation – and try to lure “gullible fools” into retrieving the necklace for him.
Well, I kept the truth from you to store up some suspense. But that means you ought to go back to Chapter One and insert some clues as to the true happenings. They must not be obvious – in fact, none of the characters should have an inkling of Nemchek actually being a wizard before he is revealed as such.
Nonetheless you can have some of the NPCs in Clearspring mention that they hadn’t heard of any of the circumstances that Nemchek has described. Oh, they are very secluded, and that could be an easy explanation of why they don’t know of those events. They simply never heard of them until Nemchek appears, and they might even declare such. The people by that time know the courier’s story, they might repeat it word for word – shaking their heads that it is such a pity they never knew about these things earlier. Why do they have to be so secluded? They never know anything!
Be careful with these clues. Don’t make things too obvious! And don’t let them divert the characters from the adventure. There’s too much fun to be had – and the twist is quite sweet, isn’t it?
Well, the party has deserved a bit of rest at The Drunken Badger. They might find some people in Clearspring who could teach them new skills – for the fighters, there are both Jerasp and Estebin Morhawk, who are old hands at wielding swords; for the clerics, there is Sage Urquart; for the wizards, they can travel on to the nearby wizard’s tower; for the thieves… well, there is Eilig. He may not be a thief by profession – but, well, he knows quite a bit about these things, doesn’t he?
After their well-earned rest, it will be time to head out again. And this time, dear GM, you are on your own. Create your own adventure, send them off on another heroic trip, give them hell to face – and lots of fun to have.
Have a great campaign!
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