Shipwrecked sailors are stranded on a rocky shoreline that is inhabited by monstrously sized creatures. An Al-Qadim/Ylaruam Adventure for a strong party of 7th to 8th level characters. The starting point for the adventure is Port Shaleef situated on a large island that is located near an arid and hostile mainland. PCs in this adventure will have to dress accordingly for the hot conditions:
Heat rule - No heavy metal Armour can be worn - only Leather, Ringmail, or covered fine Chainmail (elfin chain). Too many items of armour results in eventual heatstroke. PCs wanting to wear their standard metal armour will suffer heatstroke after 1d4 hours (+1 hour for each Constitution bonus given to hit points) or after 4 rounds of combat (+1 round for each Constitution bonus given to hit points). Heatstroke results in light-headedness and deliriousness resulting in the loss of 1/2 the PC's ability scores with continued activity of any sort resulting in the loss of 1 point of Constitution per hour. Only rest, shade and water can stabilize the individual restoring 1 point of Constitution per day. Other scores are fully recovered after 2 days.
The characters are wandering the docks of Port Shaleef during the morning, perhaps buying seafood from fishermen, when they notice a group of Ruffians subtly shaking down a number of merchants (roll passive perception check -4). The few scimitar-armed Guards, dressed in white robes, who also wander the docks, don't seem to notice or care. No one complains to them either (because everyone knows the guards get a cut of the extortion money). Furthermore, the victims don't want the PCs help because they fear reprisals. The victims, all merchants, are named Zaid el-Salman, Sadoon el-Malak, Taaj el-Amini, Umar el-Hafeez.
The party should take action on the second, third or the four victim, where the perceptive character notices successive incidents of extortion. He or she witnesses the arrogant look of the Ruffian Leader's face and the expressions of the dejected merchants who hand over small sacks (with 10 Silvers). This incident happens each month, and similar extortion events happen throughout the city.
If the characters talk to the Guards they tell the PCs they've seen nothing wrong. They further say they will only act if someone makes a complaint. The Guards warn the characters about starting any kind of trouble (they will arrest the PCs and not the Ruffian gang). If the PCs attempt to Charm or pressure any of these merchants into making a complaint, and/or ask them to reveal why they don't want help, one will say they don't want to end up like their friend Abdallah Khan. Even Charmed merchants will refuse to complain (only a Suggestion spell will work.) If pushed further the merchant will say that Abdallah Khan ended up face down in the harbour.
Rasheed (Ruffian Leader) 3rd level Thief
AC: 8 (Dex16) HD: 3 hp: 13 THACO: 19 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4+1 (Str15) Mv: 12 Alignment: NE xp: 35
Backstab (x2 damage/x3 with dagger)
Equipment: Jewelled Curved dagger, Brown Robes, sandals, 12gp/4sp/4cp plus 1d4 sacks of 10sp.
Ruffians (4) 0-level Humans
AC: 10 HD: 1 hp: 6 THACO: 20 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4 Mv: 12 Alignment: NE xp: 10
Equipment: Curved dagger, Brown Robes, sandals, 50cp/14sp/4gp total.
Kameel el-Akhtar 3rd level Fighter
AC: 9 (Cloth Armour) HD: 3 hp: 24 THACO: 16 (Specialised) Attacks: 3/2 (Scimitar) Damage: 1d8+3 (Str15) Alignment: N xp: 65
Equipment: Scimitar, Curved Dagger, Oval Shield, White Cloth Armour, White Turban, sandals,15gp/11sp/8cp.
Port Shaleef Guards (7) 1st level Fighters
AC: 9 (Cloth Armour) HD: 1 hp: 7 THACO: 20 Attacks: 1 or 3/2 (Scimitar or Short Bow) Damage: 1d8 or 1d6 Alignment: N xp: 25
Equipment: Scimitars (7), Oval Shields (5), White Cloth Armour, White Turban, sandals, Composite Short Bows (2) for the two who do not carry shields, Arrows (16 in each quiver), leather ties, 89cp/99sp/29gp total.
Tactics: The scenario invites the PCs to stop the Ruffians in a subtle manner. Rasheed, their leader, if confronted, warns the PCs to "Mind your own business. What's happening here doesn't concern you. My friends over there [he points to the guards] will not approve of your meddling." If a character charms Rasheed they will need a convincing story to stop him from threatening the Merchants. When the Charm wears off Rasheed will resume collecting 'protection' money.
If a player character casts Charm on the Guard Leader, Kameel, and asks him to arrest the Ruffians he will consider the idea and 'play along with it'. He'll tell Rasheed that he's causing too much of a distraction and to stop for today. Kameel, although friendly to the PC, will think humorously of the request, considering it a bit of joke. He won't arrest Rasheed who supplements his income.
If the PCs engage in combat with the Ruffians they all draw daggers expecting the Guards to rush in and break up the fight (that happens right after the second round). The two Guard archers stay at a 20 foot distance with arrows drawn looking to target spell casters. Guards with melee weapons drawn step between the two groups but do not immediately attack.
If the PCs kill or seriously injure the Ruffians before the Guards intervene they are arrested and will face a local Qadi (magistrate). If the Guards are attacked and the fight goes badly for them Kameel (Wis16) signals one of his men to get help. The Guards will try to flee from the PCs if they are severely overmatched. If this occurs more than thirty Guards return to the docks within one turn led by an 8th level Fighter (Captain Hariri) who is accompanied by a 7th level lieutenant (Zaki el-Hadi) and a 9th level Wizard (the Vizier Sezani, who has Stoneskin cast and is equipped with a Rope of Entanglement that can trap 8 man-sized creatures). There are also two fifth level sub-lieutenants that round out the group.
Just as the characters resolve the problem with the Ruffians (the DM may rule that their interactions are interrupted), a commotion out in the harbour attracts the attention of those on the waterfront ...
A sailing Dhow arrives, expertly swinging close to the docks with trimmed sail. A deck hand on the bow waves his hands and yells to get the attention of the entire dock area "Aieeeeee, Aiieeee, Aiiiieeeeee !!" As the Dhow swings by the Captain, dressed flamboyantly in Red and Purple Robes, calls out to the shore:
"People of Port Shaleef ... I, Captain Samir of the Arabis, seek brave warriors to rescue lost comrades who are shipwrecked not far from here. If nothing is done the monsters that rule those shores will surely finish them off. Who among you will come with me and fight to save their lives? I offer adventure, fame and one hundred gold pieces. Brave warriors, let yourselves be known!"
The Arabis comes to rest against a stone quayside, with crewmen jumping ashore trailing ropes to secure the vessel. If the players characters agree to the adventure then Captain Samir tells them that the shipwrecked sailors were lost on a rocky promontory to the south known as The Giant's Shoreline. It's not far from Port Shaleef, barely a day's journey if the wind is strong (which it is).
Captain Samir explains that he discovered the wreck of Sahib, another sailing dhow, on rocks not far from the shoreline yesterday afternoon. Sahib had sailed a day before his own ship and was also destined for Port Shaleef (Both were on a 5 day journey from the Port of Tarsis). Samir is hopeful since he saw Sahib's dingy upon the beach, although there were no indications of the crew. Further investigation could not be attempted because of the nearby Terror Birds, flightless monsters that are often, but not always seen along the shoreline.
Captain Samir knows he has no hope of rescuing the lost crew by himself. Apart from the Terror Birds that roam the beachfront some have also seen huge one-eyed Giants. A large armed party is his best hope. If asked, Captain Samir can explain the terrain that will be encountered, that the rocks and the wreck are less than a hundred yards offshore from a long beach. Behind the beach is a rise of loose dry sand, interspaced with clumps of dried grass, leading up to rocky sandstone cliffs that blocks vision inland. The cliffs are at least 50 feet high.
Samir intends to sail immediately, hoping to return before any of the shipwrecked crew are eaten by the giant animals and humanoids that live on the promontory. The Arabis is expected to reach the promontory before sunset. He assumes the crew of Sahib left the beach to escape the Terror Birds, hence the abandoned dingy, and guessed the birds only arrived after they had landed. He wonders aloud to the PCs "And why did they go ashore knowing the dangers of the coastline? Sahib was sunk only up to it's deck. They could have stayed there, for the seas were calm. It is very strange that they didn't stay with their ship and wait for rescue." Samir also mentions that although there was no sign of the crew yesterday, even after calling out to them, he thinks it's possible they moved further inland to escape whatever threats were present.
Captain Samir el-Dar Dual Class 2nd level Fighter/6th level Thief (former class)
AC: 8 (Dex16) HD 6 hp: 31 THACO: 17 or 16 Attacks: 2 Damage: 1d8+1 (Scimitar) and 1d4+2 (Dagger+1) Alignment: NG
Equipment: Scimitar, Jewelled Curved Dagger +1, Composite Short Bow (stowed), Spyglass, Compass, stowed: 120cp/330sp/120gp/10ep/6pp.
Str 16 Int 13 Wis 14 Dex 16 Con 12 Cha 14
Crew (7) 0-level Humans
AC: 10 HD: 1 hp: 6 THACO: 20 Attacks: 1 Damage: by weapon type (stowed)
Equipment: Beige pants and open sleeveless shirts, 93cp/72sp/5gp total.
Arabis (Cargo Dhow)
Dimensions: 60'x20' Mast: 20 feet from the bow. Sail: Triangular on a long diagonal boom. Stone Anchor (50 lbs) and heavy rope (200'). Gunwale level: 5 feet from the waterline. Deck: There is a deck ouse to the stern and quarters below deck. There's a large square hatchway in the middle of the deck with a wooden door that can be sealed to keep out water. Rudder: Centred on stern with rudder bar steerage. Rowing dingy, upturned on the foredeck (seats 4) with two oars stowed below.
Ship Inventory: Ship light; One lantern with Continual Light. Weapons: Composite Short bows (8), arrows (320), long handled clubs (6), handaxes (4), scimitars (8), Quarterstaff poles (4). Provisions: Dried Food and Water for 3 weeks (10 persons) including 4 water barrels, 300' Rope, Spare Sail, 1 Canvas Deck Cover, 5 Wooden planks (5), Twine, Wood Working Tools, Lamp Oil (16), small hand held Oil Lamps (4), Sealed Tar Bucket, Corking Cloth, 2 Gang Planks, 3 Buckets, 2 Wicker Baskets, 8 String Hammocks, wooden bowls, cups, small knives, empty waterskins (8).
Cargo (not offloaded): 140 Bolts of Cotton Cloth, 100 bundles of bamboo poles, 280 bags of 20lb sacks of wheat grain plus 12 small wooden crates of scented soap bars.
Journey to the Giant's Shoreline
The Arabis sets sail in a southerly direction into open ocean away from the port and out of sight of land. Captain Samir steers his ship toward an unseen mainland, looking downwards into a compass that he holds in his other hand. Some of the crew make adjustments to the sail from time to time, all the while looking extremely nervous.
The journey, as expected, takes slightly less than a day. With the Sun getting low in the sky the party sights a coastline. A barren rocky shoreline comes into view. Low cliffs rise up behind a long beach that stretches out towards a rocky promontory. Wandering along the beach, occasionally striking the wash with their beaks, are numerous large flightless birds, the fabled Terror Birds. It looks like there are a couple of dozen of these blue-black feathered monsters scattered along this part of the coast.
In the water before the promontory is the mast and top deck of a half sunken dhow that is around a 100 yards from the beach. As they get closer the party can see a rowing dingy pulled far up on the beach away from the water. Captain Samir speaks, explaining that the coastline is treacherous with a rocky reef skirting the land; "This is not the first time trading ships have run around here." Samir suggests that the best course of action is to set anchor another 100 yards or so away from the wreck of Sahib and then use the dingy to either search the wreck or go ashore (it looks like Sahib is abandoned because water is up to the deck and there is no sign of anyone aboard). During this time Captain Samir pulls out his Spyglass and checks the shoreline, seeing nothing except what has already been described.
Note: The ship's dingy can only take 4 people per trip, with five or six overloaded (making it very unstable). Two of the crew can expertly row party members ashore leaving between two to four characters available as passengers. PCs could use magic to get their whole party ashore.
Waiting underwater near the wreck of Sahib is a Giant Octopus, a monster that took Captain Fareem (see the description later in the adventure). The beast frightened the crew when their captain was taken forcing them ashore. The wrecked dhow contains terracotta roof tiles. If the party does not investigate the sunken ship the DM can have the Giant Octopus attack Arabis at any point in the adventure. The Octopus doesn't immediately go after those in the dingy.
AC: 7 HD: 8 THACO: 13 Attacks: 7 Damage: 1d4 (Tentacle Slap)/ 2d6 (Bite) + Constriction (2d4 per round) Mv 3/Sw 12 Alignment: N Xp: 2000, half xp if driven off.
Tactics: The Octopus draws itself up around the half sunken Dhow and reaches out to attack characters that explore the wreck. The Monstrous Manual provides details for combat:
[A giant octopus generally attacks with six of its eight tentacles, using two to anchor itself. Each striking tentacle causes 1d4 points of damage, but unless the member is loosened or severed, it constricts for 2d4 points of damage every round after striking. If a victim is dragged close enough to the beak, the monster can bite for 2d6 points of damage. Any victim under 8 feet tall or long can be struck by only one tentacle at a time, and the chance that both upper limbs are pinned on a successful strike is 25%, while the chance that both upper limbs are free is also 25%. When both upper limbs are held, the victim has no attack; if only one limb is held the victim attacks with a -3 penalty to its attack roll; if both limbs are free (i.e., the tentacle is wrapped around the victim’s body) then the victim attacks with a -1 penalty to its attack roll. Tentacles grip with a Strength of 18/20. Any creature with a Strength equal to or greater than 18/20 can grasp the tentacle and negate its constriction. This does not free the victim, and the octopus will immediately seek to drag the victim to its mouth to eat it. To break free, a tentacle must be severed; this requires 8 points of damage. (These hit points are in addition to those the octopus gains from its 8 Hit Dice.) Once three or more tentacles are severed, it is 90% probable that the octopus will retreat, ejecting a cloud of black ink 40 feet high by 60 feet wide by 60 feet long.]On the Beach
Player Characters landing on the beach are immediately swarmed by the large flightless Terror Birds. They have dark blue, almost black, feathers and pale yellow wrinkly legs with beaks of a similar colour. The Birds approach as the party lands so that they attack in waves of ten, a new wave arriving per round with the last eight arriving on the fourth round of combat. The birds attack relentlessly and cannot be driven off except by fire (greater than a torch). Flaming attacks, like Fireball or Burning Hands, that kill of more half their number, drive them away temporarily (for 1d2 hours).
Terror Birds, Aepyornis, Giant Flightless Birds (38) new monster
AC: 7 HD: 3+3 THACO: 17 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d8 or 1d4+1 (Bite or Talon rake, 50% chance) Size: L (8') Mv: 24 Alignment: Non xp: 165
If the PCs investigate the abandoned dingy they immediately notice something disturbing. On the ground are weapons; daggers (8), scimitars (3), plus a long pole and a shield. Also seen are huge indentations in the sand. Footprints. Except these are almost 4 feet long! Inside the dingy are some dried rations, waterskins (9), various lengths of rope, two oars, and a torn sail cloth (big enough to rig the dingy for sailing using the pole lying on the ground). Note: The dingy here is the same size as the one from Arabis.
From where they are on the dry sandy portion of the beach the party can see there is a large dark opening in the cliff nearby - a cave that might hide the missing crew, or Giants? The cave entrance is about 20 feet up the cliff side, easily accessed by a wide pathway that cuts across the cliff face. Giant sized prints head in that direction. If the party heads that way they are confronted by huge one eyed skeletons that erupt from the sands in front of them. Their chests contain burning fire. Note: These guardians never attacked the sailors since they were captured by the Cyclops.
Giant Cyclops Skeletons (5)
AC: 4 HD: 6+4 hp: 42 THACO: 13 Attacks: 1 Damage: 2d6 (Giant Club) or 8d6 (Fireball) Size: L (18' tall) Mv: 12 Alignment: N Xp: 1075
Special Attack: Once per hour may reach into flaming chest and hurl Fireball.
Special Defence: Immune to Fire, and mind influencing Spells, half damage from Cold, full damage from electricity. Holy Water does 2d6 (mod). Turned as Mummy
Tactics: These Giant Skeletons attack any creatures that head towards the cliff on the way up to the Cyclops lair. They will not pursue individuals on the wet sand and do not attack those who flee from them without fighting. If characters snipe at the skeletons from the beach they will immediately hurl their Fireballs. After 2d10 rounds they rebury themselves in the sands.
To the Cave
After the battle with the skeletons the party can advance. Less than 100 yards away are rocky sandstone cliffs rising more than 70' feet in height. At the base are a few scattered and dried out scrub bushes. A wide path leads upwards 20 feet toward a single large cave entrance that is 20' in height. (The natural cave here was expanded by the Cyclops.)
The sounds of battle will alert the Hell Hounds and Giants within this cave lair. At the start of the skeleton battle one Cyclops will briefly peak out to see what is happening. They decide to wait out this fight and keep the Hell Hounds from rushing forward. The Cyclops are surprised that any human would fight the Giant Skeletons. They take turns peaking out every now and again to see if the PCs are still alive. If any PCs approach to within 50 yards of the cave entrance one of the giants, Clancus, will step out from the shadows and cast a net over the party. The DM should make an impression in describing the 18' tall size of the Cyclops as he emerges from the shadows of the cave whilst simultaneously casting his net.
If the characters call out to parley, before getting within 50 yards of the entrance, the Cyclops will respond in a 'reasonable' manner. The leader, Ortus will reveal himself. Understanding that the characters are skilled warriors, he will ask what they want, while being ready to shift inside the cave to avoid danger. If the characters ask for the sailors he will say that; "I don't have them and you don't have a right to them anyway". Such a response should raise PC suspicions. If the characters ask about the 'right to them' (the sailors) Ortus states that anything found on the beach belongs to himself, and that they are presently trespassing upon his lands. If the characters ask where the sailors are Ortus says that it's none of their business and they should leave in peace. He refuses to elaborate on where the sailor are (some are in their cave while the majority were sold as slaves). If the PCs act aggressively and threaten to fight, Ortus takes cover inside the cave and releases the Hell Hounds (see tactics below). If the PCs offer more than 500 gold for each shipwrecked sailor the Cyclops will change their minds. Ordinarily they (stubbornly) would not trade with humans but such an offer is too good to refuse.
Hell Hounds (5)
AC: 4 HD: 6 hp: 42 THACO: 15 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d10 (Bite) + Special Size: M (6' long) Mv: 12 Alignment: LE Xp: 975
*Can see invisible 50% of the time.
Special Attacks: Breath Fire for 6 hp damage at 10 feet (Save for half Damage). On attack roll of 20 bites and breaths fire at the same time. Can charge where a successful bite attack is normal (1d10) but the victim must also make a strength or dexterity check (whatever is highest) to avoid being knocked over for an extra 1d6 damage. Success means an extra 1d4 damage is still taken but the PC remains standing and is only pushed backward.
Special Defence: Immune to Fire.
Cyclops (4) Ortus, Clancus, Velgris, Gobbris
AC: 2 HD: 13 hp: 102, 88, 90, 94, , THACO 7 Attacks: 1 Damage: 6d6 or 4d10 (Fist or thrown Rock/150yards) or Net* (20x20 area/50 yards range) Size: H (20') Mv: 15 Alignment: CE xp: 4000
Equipment: Fur clothing, huge leather belts, large sacks with 5 rocks, nets (5 hanging inside the cave entrance).
*A successful hit with a Net will cause the character to be entangled for 20 rounds minus the character’s dexterity score. Entangled characters may not fight except with a thrusting weapon such as a spear (and then at a -2 on chances to hit); their armor class is also reduced by two and they lose dexterity bonuses. During this time the Cyclops may pull on the net to trip characters (Save vs Breath weapon -2 penalty).
**They all speak the common tongue of humans in area, along with the Cyclops dialect.
Tactics: If the PCs approach to under 50 yards from the cave entrance without calling out to parley then Clancus steps out suddenly and throws a net over them. If they parley with Ortus and talks break down he steps back into the cave out of sight and lets loose the five Hell Hounds who charge at the party. As this happens Ortus and Clancus will both step out at either side of the cave, with Velgris in the entrance and all will throw large rocks at the party members. If any of the Cyclops are reduced to less than half their hit points they switch inside the cave and are replaced by Gobbris. If any of the Cyclops fall during the fight AND if the leader has less than 25 hit points, AND if the PC party is still standing strong, they attempt to surrender, and offer up the captured sailors, with Ortus (or another Cyclops) calling out to the characters during the battle. If pressured he will tell the party that he sold (for 25gp each) five of his captives to the Verbeeg that trade fruit and wine for Terror Bird feathers, and for other material they collect. He says there is a trading post out on the plain not far from the coast (less than a day's journey).
Inside the Cyclops Cave it's 100' long and 20 to 30 feet high, having been partially excavated out. Hanging just inside the entrance are large throwing nets (there are iron hooks, 5 in total). On the ground are 16 more throwing rocks. Further inside are much larger rocks that serve as seats and a table. Two large knives the size of scimitars can be found on the table. Scattered around are many bones, mostly of Terror Birds, although there are also long whale bones lined up against one wall. Coils of rope and netting material are hung on the other wall (attached to iron spikes). There are numerous huge clay urns, some bowls and three large water cisterns. One of the urns is filled with gems and coins:
There are twenty eight onyx (50gp each), ten Bloodstone (50gp), sixteen Amber (80gp), nine Jade (70gp), six Amethyst (100gp), fourteen pearls (500gp), and coins of 2590cp/1450sp/230gp/48pp.
There is a very large and tall (5' high) empty basket with a few blue-black feathers stuck within the wicker (having recently been emptied - the contents were traded with the Verbeeg for wine).
In the back of the cave is a larder in which there are 11 large bags filled with dried fruit, 20 large ceramic bottles of wine lined against the walls, and, hanging from the ceiling are eight plucked Terror Bird carcasses. In this same area, in a 15 foot deep pit partly filled with bird and fish bones, are three Sailors from Sahib (0-level Humans).
One sailor, Omar, tells the characters that five of the crew were taken away by another group of giants - lanky two eyed brutes with long drawn faces and wide jaws (Verbeeg). This happened shortly after they were captured two days ago. They say that their dhow ran aground in fog on the rocks offshore. The vessel was already in poor condition and started taking on water. Knowing that going ashore was too dangerous, they opted to stay on the half sunken Sahib and prepared to rig the dingy with sail to reach Port Shaleef. However, before anything could be organised they were attacked by a Giant Octopus that took Captain Fareem. With no way of taking all the crew in the dingy, thereby escaping in one trip, they were forced to put some of their number ashore.
At this time, during two nerve wracking trips from ship to shore, there were none of the usually sighted Terror Birds. Planning to leave some of crew behind, hiding in the cliffs, they prepared the dingy for sail but were caught by the Cyclops who threw nets over them and imprisoned them in their lair. Shortly thereafter some of their number were traded, along with bundles of Terror Bird feathers, for wine, bags of dried fruit and gold coins (25gp for the slaves). The three sailors that remained were taunted by the Cyclops who said that those traded away were the "lucky ones" who were headed to a new home out on the plain. The sailors kept as prisoners were to be eaten within the next day or so.
To the Trading Post
With the sun setting the party will need to continue with the rescue out on the desert plain above the cave. They should inform Captain Samir of their plans and have the rescued sailors taken aboard Arabis. When the PCs (hopefully) tell Samir that they will need to journey across the plain he offers up his Spyglass saying "Borrow this, it might be useful to you. And fill some of the extra waterskins we're carrying. There's at least half a dozen in the galley." He tells the PCs that he'll wait offshore for six days, and if they do not return he'll draw near the coast at least once a week and look out for them. Omar, one of the rescued sailors reminds the party that the dingy from Sahib has material to rig it for sailing (the torn sailcloth and the wooden pole). If they rescue the remaining sailors at least some could flee using the boat.
A narrow trail leads from the Cyclops lair further up to the cliff tops. Reaching the summit 50 feet above, the party looks westward to see a hard desert expanse stretching away before them. All around is flat barren land stretching as far as the eye can see with distant mountains visible far away on the horizon. An indistinct path leads off into the distance towards a distant rock formation appearing as an island some miles away. If the party marches into the night they have a 50% chance per hour of losing the trail per hour unless one of the characters has infravision. If the trail is lost they can still aim for the formation that can be seen in the clear night (the path leads there). The party reaches the rock formation an hour or so before midnight.
Hiding in the rock formation, is a huge grey-coloured lizard with a red underside. It does not attack giant sized creatures. When the party approaches it will rush out to attack from its position behind a toppled oblong boulder. If the party keeps more than 200 yards away at all times they will avoid this encounter.
Fire Lizard (mod)
AC: 3 HD: 10 hp: 80 THACO: 11 Attacks: 3 + tail slap Damage: 1d8/1d8 (Claws), 2d8 (Bite) + 2d4 (tail vs rear or side attackers only) Mv: 9 Size: G (30' Long) Alignment: N Xp: 3000
Note: Characters who have not slept during the course of the journey take an accumulated penalty to their attack rolls which begins around three o'clock in the morning where they incur a -1 penalty that doubles every 4 hours until rest of at least three hours is undertaken. After the battle with the lizard the DM should warn PCs that they are beginning to feel fatigued.
After reaching the rock formation the characters see signs of a settlement further away. Some lights can be seen out on the plain towards the mountains.
The Trading Post
Whether or not the party decides to rest for a few hours or continue their journey throughout the night, they are likely to encounter the trading post during the morning. The distinct shapes of buildings can be seen from a number of miles away. The PCs approach from the East, heading westwards in the direction of the mountains. [Note: If the buildings are approached at night each is lit by torchlight coming through the small rectangular windows.]
When the characters draw near, to within a mile, they see the buildings are of mud brick construction with small square windows, and straw thatching. The occasional brown cloaked figure can be seen walking around these structures.
After a more prolonged inspection the characters will notice there is an oasis pool in front of the buildings, that there are wide wooden walkways between these structures (made of shipwreck material), and there is a large bamboo cage enclosure, with a number of humanoid figures housed within (a few of the figures are standing but most are sitting in a group in the centre of the cage). If the party has Samir's Spyglass they can determine the races of the prisoners (see below). All the buildings are quite large, having been built to suit Verbeeg that are 9' tall. Building 4 is 20 feet square and the walkways are 10 feet wide.
If the PCs keep their distance, staying a mile away, and stop to observe for an hour, they eventually see a few large dogs walking around near the slave pen, recognising them as the same beasts kept by the Cyclops (Hell Hounds). The Verbeeg themselves are tall and thin with broad shoulders and drawn facial features. They are dressed in canvas cloaks with brown hemp cloth trousers and sandals. Some can be seen carrying spears. When not under attack only five will be carrying weapons - those near the slave pen, with one acting as a wandering guard moving around the perimeter of the entire settlement. This guard does the rounds once every half and hour and spends most of his time with the other guards near the slave pen. The rest of the Verbeeg company remain inside, out of the sun, until after midday (see below for more details). The Hell Hounds always loiter in random positions close to the buildings facing the slave pens.
A note to the DM: Experienced characters will see that this approach to the settlement, from the East, is exposed. If invisibility is used then they will have to contend with the Hell Hounds when they draw near to the oasis pool (50% chance of detection). They can continue forward and be spotted, or circle around at a distance, until the buildings cover their approach and the Hell Hounds are out of sight. A fight among the confines of the buildings may prove beneficial compared to being surrounded on an open desert plain. The PCs cannot outrun any of the Giants, so if battle breaks out there will be no easy escape (unless via magic). The party can wait and observe the Trading Post for as long as they want.
If the party continues their (non-invisible) approach from the East, when they move to under a mile from the trading post, they will be spotted by the perimeter guard, who automatically assumes the party isn't hostile (they are coming from the territory of the Cyclops). The PCs will be allowed to approach until a few hundred yards where after they are recognised as non-giants, causing an alarm to be raised (via word of mouth). This mobilises almost all the occupants who assemble in line formation, just in front of the water pool, facing the approaching party. If that happens the Verbeeg leader, Captain Akrog, who has a two handed sword strapped to his back, moves to the front and speaks. Either side of Akrog will be Gorbala the Shaman and Krizzak (see below). The Hell Hounds stay behind the line.
Akrog challenges the party and asks what they want. If the party says they want the captured sailors they are told they are needed and not for sale, especially not to puny 'humanish' creatures. Regardless of how the party reacts, Akrog, thinking on his feet, then encourages the party to draw near to his line in the hope he can capture them to use as slaves. He says, "Noble warriors, if you really want to free your kin make me a good offer. Show me what you'll be willing trade for them. Something of high worth." He takes one step forward gesturing with one arm. Whatever the characters offer, Captain Akrog will want to inspect it. "Come closer so I may see better." If the party approaches within arms length he reaches out with both arms to overbear the PC, saying "Grab them!!", causing his entire band to rush forward (they have a high 18' movement speed). Gorbala and Krizzak rush forward to help Akrog. If the closest PC has let his or her guard down, surprise may need to be rolled. Initiative will be needed for the rest of the party (if they are still at some distance) as the Verbeeg troop rushes the gap.
The Verbeeg will run up to the PCs, with four tackling each character. These attackers drop their weapons as they close to grab the characters. The remaining monsters rush up still holding their weapons (spears and shields). With overbearing, a +4 bonus to the attack roll is added for each difference in size. For each extra overbearing helper there is an additional +1 to the rolls. In this case the Verbeeg will have +7 to the overbearing roll, using the attack roll of the monster in the group with the worst THACO. Akrog will have a +4 bonus in the first round while in the second his group of three (including Gorbala and Krizzak) will have a +6 to their roll. Defending characters with weapons drawn are allowed first strike on the unarmed attackers with a +4 to hit and +4 damage. Once the PCs are taken down they are disarmed, their armour removed and tied up. Obvious spellcasters are gaged. Any caught spellcasters will remain gagged and hung by their arms in Room 13, the kitchen, under guard of two Verbeeg.
If the party keeps its distance and combat breaks out, there will be no overbearing. The Verbeeg warriors throw a spear first before CHARGING.
In either scenario, after 2 rounds of fighting, the Fire Giants, who have been resting in Room 13, having arrived at the trading post earlier in the night after a long walk from the mountains, arise and strap on their armour just outside the doorway. They 'juggle' their giant two handed swords as they do so. It takes 3 rounds to hastily prepare themselves.
If the party approaches the settlement in the afternoon, or observes it up until that time, they will see the heads and upper bodies of 18 foot tall reddish skinned, black haired giants among the buildings. These giants wake around midday. They wear heavy Banded Mail armour and carry huge two handed swords. The party will then see all the prisoners (19) taken out of the slave pen, loaded up with backpacks (full of food and waterskins) and herded Westward, escorted by a sizable number of Verbeeg - twenty six (26) in total. The armoured (Fire) Giants travel with them along with four Hell Hounds, leaving one hound behind at the Trading Post. The party notices three unique Verbeeg - one wearing a green cape with a warhammer, and two with black capes. One of these two has a two handed sword and the other carries a bundle of spears over his shoulder. The other Verbeeg warriors all have round shields and spears. If using the Spyglass half their number (12) are seen also carrying torches tied to their belts (The torches have fractured rock crystals mounted in them that light up in darkness. There are a total of 24 of these torches at the settlement - see Room 10 for details).
This group of slaves and giants is headed to a nearby rock crystal mine, a 200 yards long open pit about half a mile away, where they work until late into the night. Normally, when visitors are not present, only one Verbeeg leader, the spear thrower Krizzak, will oversee the mine. Approaching the site the characters see a mound of spoil that looks like a low hill in the distance. Waste on this dig is high, with lots of rock piles, and flawed crystal blocks discarded in the process. (Flawless rock crystals can be carved into crystal balls, figures, etc). The slaves work a full shift while 10 Verbeeg do half shifts each. The slaves are treated relatively well so as to alleviate the overall workload. Dead slaves mean more work for the Verbeeg.
Picks and shovels are left at the site, along with tin buckets. The Fire Giants are here to collect unblemished rock crystals. These crystals are kept hidden, buried under rubble, at the mine. When they arrive the Fire Giants are taken to where the good quality crystals are hidden - which they gather up, exchanging them for 50 gold nuggets. The Fire Giants stay to watch the mine in operation until the Verbeeg change shift (while the humanoids keep working), which happens in the early night, whereafter they head back to the trading post escorted by Captain Akrog and Gorbala. After a night's sleep they awake early and head off towards the mountains.
Notes for the above map: All the rooms have hard baked floor surfaces, different from the rock and sandy ground outside. The walls are all mudbrick with straw rooves and there are small rectangular window openings in each wall that face outwards at about 8 feet off the ground. The beds are made from wooden slats tied together that rest directly on the floor. Each bed has an animal hide blanket. During the day the Verbeeg not at the mine either rest, prepare food stuff in the kitchen, practice their combat skills or play games using animal bones inside the buildings (each room has a collection of bones used for various games).
Area 1: Slave Pen Occupants: Humans (5) Orcs (6) Hobgolins (8) total 19. The spokesperson for the human sailors is named Aleef, for the Orcs it is Unk, and for the Hobgoblins it is Sergeant Gambosh. They all relate similar uneventful stories about working in the nearby rock crystal mine. None of the humanoids speak the human language, although Gambosh speaks Orcish. If freed and given water this group will head for the mountains before splitting up.
Room 2: Occupants 7 Room 3: Occupants 3 Room 4: Occupants 2 Room 5: Occupants 8
Room 6: Occupants 7 Room 7: Occupants 6
Room 8: Store room with wooden planks and beams, terror bird feathers, a faded white canvas sail from a ship, a broken giant sized shield, two large smooth boulders, iron spikes and hammer, dried straw bundles.
Room 9: Occupants 1 Krizzak (there is a spare bed here)
Room 10: Akrog and Gorbala's room. There is a large shelf on the west wall with a spell book that allows a caster to create the enchanted flames used in the rock crystal torches. The enchantment lasts 10+4d10 days. Also in the shelf are Potions of Healing (2), Potions of Waterbreathing (3), Potion of Stone Giant Strength, and Sweet Water. There is a small locked chest on the lowest shelf with a difficult to open lock (-20%). Inside is 50gp, 27ep, 80pp, 12 Gold nuggets worth 10gp each, a Gold Statuette of a Pegasus worth 200gp, two large diamonds worth 2000gp each, 8 pearls worth 500gp each, an Ivory Flute with dragon carvings worth 50gp, and a small flawless rock crystal sphere worth 20gp.
Room 11: Occupants 4 (there is a spare bed here)
Room 12: Occupants 6
Room 13: Kitchen area, with two stone fire pits, used as a sleeping area for the Fire Giants. Along one side of the walls are piled numerous backpacks (used to carry food and water to the mine site).
Room 14: Occupants 3 (cooks).
Room 15: Foodstore, there is a large pit, to keep things cool, filled with sacks of dried fruit, nuts, chunks of meat, and dried fish, which are covered by two large animal hides that are secured to the ground to keep out insects (there is a spare bed here). There are spare wooden bowls here, 58 flasks of oil (10 empty), and also 30 ceramic bottles of wine, half of them empty.
Verbeeg (49 total including leaders) 3 spare beds on map. If fighting on open ground they throw a spear (at 60 yards) before charging the party with their remaining weapon which causes double damage if a hit is scored (No Shield, -1 to AC, -2 bonus to PC's initiative).
Captain Akrog Verbeeg Champion
AC: 6 (Dex, Ring+2) HD: 7+5 hp: 55 THACO: 13 Attacks: 2 Damage: 1d10+7 (Two Handed Sword/Str18/00) or 1d6+6 (Spear) Mv: 18 Size: L (9' Tall) Alignment: NE Xp: 670
*Extra 60 yards to spear throws.
*Speaks common tongue of humans in area.
Equipment: Two Handed Sword, Ring of Protection+2, Black Leather cape, Black leather trousers, sandals, waterskin, copper bowl, iron key to chest, 12cp/10sp/23gp/45pp.
Gorbala 5th level Priest Shaman
AC: 5 HD: 5+5 hp: 32 THACO: 15 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d8+3 (Large Warhammer/Str18/52) Mv: 18 Size: L (9' Tall) Alignment: NE Xp: 570
*Extra 30 yards to spear throws
*Speaks common tongue of humans in area.
Spells 5/3/1 (Wis14): Cure Light Wounds (3), Light, Detect Magic, Hold Person, Silence, Striking (adds 1d6+1 to damage).
Equipment: Oversized Warhammer, Round Shield, Ringmail Armour, Green Leather Cape, leather trousers, sandals, waterskin, wooden bowl, Holy Symbol, Potion of Healing 2d4+2 (2), Potion of Neutralise Poison (2), 8ep/10gp/3sp/4cp.
Krizzak Spear Throwing Champion
AC: 7 HD: 6+5 hp: 47 THACO: 14 or 13 Attacks: 2 Damage: 1d6+5 (Spear/Str18/94) Mv: 18 Size: L (9' Tall) Alignment: NE Xp: 470
*Extra 50 yards to spear throws
Equipment: Spears (8), Black Leather cape, leather trousers, sandals, waterskin, wooden bowl, 3gp/15cp.
AC: 6 HD: 5+5 hp: 37 THACO: 15 Attacks: 2 Damage: 1d6+4 (Spear/Str18/78) Mv: 18 Size: L (9' Tall) Alignment: NE Xp: 270
*Extra 40 yards to spear throws
Equipment: Spears (2), Round Shield, Canvas cape, hemp cloth trousers, sandals, waterskin, wooden bowl, two dozen (24) magical torches with enchanted rock crystals that give off light in darkness equal to a torch that last 10+4d10 days, 29gp/210sp/59cp total.
AC: 4 HD: 6 hp: 42 THACO: 15 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d10 (Bite) + Special Size: M (6' long) Mv: 12 Alignment: LE Xp: 975
*Can see invisible 50% of the time.
Special Attacks: Breath Fire for 6 hp damage at 10 feet (Save for half Damage). On attack roll of 20 bites and breaths fire at the same time.
Special Defence: Immune to Fire.
Fire Giants (3) Sarza, Fra'zash, Hozvoll,
AC: -1 (AC 7 unarmoured) HD: 15 hp: 107, 112, 123 THACO: 5 Attacks: 1 Damage: 2d10+12 (Two Handed Sword +2) Size: H (18' Tall) Mv: 12 Alignment: LE XP: 8000
Equipment: Giant Two Handed Swords +2, Black Banded Mail (3), Round Helms (3), Large Rocks (9 total), Iran bowls (3), Huge sacks (8), with whole dried lizards, two large six-sided dice made of iron, 50 gold nuggets worth 500gp total, 6 emeralds worth 1000gp each. Some of the sacks (4) are empty and will be filled with rock crystals from the mine. They will trade all their gold nuggets for the uncut crystal.
Special Attacks: Hurl Rocks for 2d10 damage to 200 yards.
Special Defence: Immune to fire and heat and Dragon Breath. -1 per die for magical fire attacks.
If the party returns to the beach with the rescued crew from the Trading Post, and Arabis remains moored offshore, they are immediately seen by the crew who all cheer their arrival. The dingy is launched and the party is ferried on board.
If the party have not fought the Giant Octopus it will attack both the dingy and Arabis as the crew members and PCs climb aboard on the second trip. If three or more tentacles are severed during this attack there is a 90% chance the creature will retreat. At this point in time the PCs may have acquired Potions of Waterbreathing from the Verbeeg settlement.
Captain Samir is overjoyed at the success of the rescue mission. He gladly offers up his reward of a hundred Gold pieces. Lawful Good characters might decline such an offer if they collected treasure from either the Cyclops lair or the Trading Post. Some of the treasure loot could even be distributed to the surviving crew of both vessels by good aligned PCs.
On arrival back at Port Shaleef there is a commotion when the crew of Sahib are sighted on the deck of Arabis. Word quickly spreads of the heroic rescue. A large crowd gathers around the docked ship where Captain Samir and the PCs are held up and forced to hold court and relate the tale of what happened. At this time food and drink is supplied to them and the crew. Captain Hariri, of the city guard, eventually intervenes and has the crew escorted the Fortress Palace where they are hosted by the Emir, Baha al Sala. All of them are made honorary Guard Captains of Port Shaleef.
Characters successfully completing the adventure receive a bonus of 2000xp each.
Suggestions to convert the story to a Temperate Setting
The city's name is changed to Port Halson
The ruffians use straight bladed daggers and the leader, Rasheed, is changed to Farbar 'the Fiend'.
The Guard leader Kameel is changed to Dareck Stonesun and the guards are armed with Long Swords, Studded Leather. Three have Light Crossbows with sheaf quarrels (1d4+1 damage).
Captain Hariri is changed to a Platemail armoured female warrior called Captain Tamara.
The Dhow Arabis becomes a Cog of similar dimensions called Seafire and Captain Samir is changed to Captain Westdrum. The crew arm themselves with Short Swords and Clubs.
The half sunken Dhow is also a Cog and is called Grace. Captain Fareem, who was lost, is referred to as Captain Fraeder. Omar the sailor in the Cyclops lair is changed to Moby.
The Peninsula comprises of a rocky promontory with caves and a flat grassland extending inland.
The first beach encounter is changed from Flightless Birds to Giant Crabs, otherwise all other encounters remain the same. The Cyclops trade in crab meat and beach shells, not feathers and bird meat:
Giant Crabs (34)
AC: 3 HD: 3 hp: THACO: 17 Attacks: 2 Damage: 2d4/2d4 (Pincers) Size: L (10' diameter) Mv: 9 Alignment: N Xp: 65
The human sailor Aleef is changed to Gareth while the other humanoid prisoner names remain the same.
The Fire Lizard encounter is changed to two Stone Golem guardians that fight anyone that does not utter a password - known to the Giants of the area ("Hotep"). They are somewhat damaged from past battle.
Stone Golems (2)
AC: 5 HD: 14 hp: 41,45 THACO: 7 Attacks: 1 Damage: 3d8 (Fist) Size: L (9' Tall) Mv: 6 Alignment: N Xp: 8000
Special Attacks: Cast Slow on any individual within 10 feet once every two rounds.
Special Defences: Only hit by +2 weapons or better, immune to spells except Rock to Mud or Flesh to Stone [see here for details].
The Verbeeg encounter remains the same except that the settlement is situated among grassland.