14 · The trail of the Gretch

The adven­tures in sec­tions 14.0 through 17.0 form a mini-cam­paign based around the town of Buhr Thu­ra­sig, intro­du­ced in sec­tion 7.6. The fol­lo­wing adven­tures may be played in order so as to allow your players an oppor­tu­nity to become fami­liar with the town and its inha­bi­tants.

14.1 Fidoric’s tale

The clan Sigra­di­via is not one of the larger ones in the region around Buhr Thu­ra­sig ; it com­prises only three fami­lies, resi­ding in two holds. One of those fami­lies shared a hold near the Whi­te­rock Creek with a wido­wed sister who had mar­ried into the Ildrik clan. Five adults (two of them elderly) and three chil­dren resi­ded in the small languz.

Fido­ric is the oldest of the three chil­dren of the hou­se­hold, a boy of four­teen. He’s just begun his trai­ning in the arts of war, but he is a bright young­ster, honest and reliable. Which was why his mother felt confi­dent in sen­ding him out on a jour­ney into, the deeper and higher parts of the moun­tains to col­lect cer­tain herbs and roots she needed for her spe­cial hea­ling potions — plants which grow only in the cooler upland area.

The boy had no trouble fin­ding and gathe­ring the herbs, though he spent most of a day and part of the night on the jour­ney out and back. His pro­blems began when he retur­ned. As he approa­ched the homes­tead he noti­ced a pecu­liar glow and a billo­wing cloud of smoke rising above the site, where only a small stream from the cook fire should have been visible. That signal pro­du­ced enough sense of danger that he approa­ched his home with care, remai­ning under cover of the semi­dark­ness of early mor­ning.

He had cause to be wor­ried. As he traced his way from bush to tree to rock, moving closer to the homes­tead by ducking from one bit of pro­tec­tion to ano­ther, he saw a group of Orcs lea­ving the area, her­ding seve­ral sheep and car­rying a few live chi­ckens. That last fact puzz­led him, since Ord rarely leave any­thing alive after a raid, nor do they take with them any­thing that might be incon­ve­nient to trans­port. At the time, though, he was far too concer­ned about the fate of his family to do more than wonder brie­fly at this oddity.

His worst fears and ima­gi­nings proved true. When the Orcs had mar­ched far enough off that he could get safely in the back way, he char­ged into his home, bra­ving smoke and the flames which would shortly engulf the struc­ture enti­rely, only to find that all the mem­bers of his family living there, not excep­ting his youn­ger bro­ther and sister, or even his elderly grand­fa­ther, had been grue­so­mely but­che­red by the rai­ders.

Fido­ric deba­ted going after the Orcs him­self and trying to pick them off, but he had sense enough to rea­lize he was no match for the band, so he fled to the town to appeal for help.

Although Orc raids had been few and notable events in years past, this is the third one in almost six months. The towns­people are beco­ming increa­sin­gly concer­ned about the raids, and are par­ti­cu­larly outra­ged by this inci­dent. Fido­ric swears that he will under­take to avenge his family’s murder by him­self should no one else prove willing, but the town votes to offer a reward of 5 gold pieces per person to anyone who will under­take to track down and des­troy the band of Orcs.

14.2 The NPCs

The majo­rity of the cha­rac­ters the PCs will encoun­ter are the North­men folk of the town and the Orcs of the rai­ding band. There are many other people and crea­tures making their homes in the less explo­red areas of the Grey Moun­tains.


Wuth­gild is the best edu­ca­ted and most widely tra­vel­led person resi­ding in Buhr Thu­ra­sig at the time. Though he was born near Erebor and tuto­red well, he was a res­t­less youth and spent many years as an adven­tu­rer him­self, col­lec­ting lear­ning and expe­rience, but not set­tling down until rela­ti­vely late in life, with a wife who was well past youth also. They had one daugh­ter, Syn­drith, before his wife died.

Now more than sixty, Wuth­gild still has a sharp mind, though his lean body has grown thin and frail. In addi­tion to being the head of the Coun­cil of Five, he conti­nues to func­tion as the unof­fi­cial town clerk, scribe, and magis­trate, hand­ling most of the record-kee­ping for Buhr Thu­ra­sig. He fre­quently arranges tra­ding deals and is valued for his abi­lity to mediate dis­putes. He has thin, pure white hair and a rather scrag­gly white beard. His sharp, bony face is lined and seamed with age and expe­rience, but his blue eyes still sparkle with life and a humor which has sur­vi­ved the ravages of time on his body and emo­tions.

Wuth­gild is extre­mely wor­ried by the sudden scourge of Orc raids, seeing in the chan­ging pat­tern an alar­ming sign of some new shadow han­ging over the town. In his youn­ger days he would have per­so­nally led out a party to erase the menace ; his spirit would willin­gly under­take the jour­ney even still but he reco­gnizes his body can no longer answer the demands.


The head­man of the Bearwyn clan is in his late for­ties, a large, mus­cu­lar man with red­dish blond hair and hazel eyes. Daelglid’s enjoy­ment of out­doors work and hard labor has kept his large body from run­ning to fat and he pos­sesses consi­de­rable phy­si­cal strength. His war­rior skills are sharp and well-honed, but fai­ling eye­sight is begin­ning to cur­tail his effec­ti­ve­ness, par­ti­cu­larly with wea­pons that ope­rate at some dis­tance. such as the thro­wing spear, or long- or short-bow. Dael­glid is still a for­mi­dable opponent in close combat.

Though not pos­ses­sed of Wuthgild’s sharp, cal­cu­la­ting mind, Dael­glid is, none­the­less, sur­pri­sin­gly shrewd in prac­ti­cal mat­ters, and his com­bi­na­tion of for­thright­ness, per­sua­si­ve­ness, and an unex­pec­ted charm makes him a natu­ral leader.

His force of per­so­na­lity has brought the Gramuz he repre­sents a more than nor­mally large share of poli­ti­cal power in the town of Buhr Thu­ra­sig. He and Wuth­gild fre­quently clash on mat­ters of policy, and there is little per­so­nal warmth bet­ween them, but the two men reco­gnize and res­pect each other’s strengths and abi­li­ties. A gre­ga­rious man, Dael­glid spends as much time as he can spare from his duties around the hold in the cavern at « The Wai­ling Wind »; it’s never as much as he would wish.


The owner of « The Wai­ling Wind », the lar­gest Inn in Buhr Thu­ra­sig, Ligra­dor also sits on the Coun­cil of Five. Though nei­ther as intel­li­gent as Wuth­gild, nor as cha­ris­ma­tic as Dael­glid, Ligra­dor is not without resources. Most nota­bly, he has a veri­table army of useful friends and infor­mants.

An incu­rable gossip, the Inn­kee­per is the pri­mary source of news and word of events in the town. He’s also a good lis­te­ner and knows how to apply the right lubri­cants at the right time to learn what he needs or wants to know. Howe­ver, he’s not by nature a gene­rous man and he expects a good return on his invest­ments. His son and two daugh­ters work for him at the inn, for low wages, and all three resent his tight-fisted ways.


Daelglid’s seven­teen year old son and heir stron­gly resembles his father in face and colo­ring, less so in build and per­so­na­lity. Smal­ler and leaner than his big, burly father, he none­the­less pos­sesses some of his father’s skill with wea­pons. Unfor­tu­na­tely he doesn’t have Daelglid’s cha­risma ; the cha­rac­te­ris­tic blunt honesty of the father comes out in the son soun­ding more like rude­ness and inso­lence. He isn’t really a bad or spoi­led young man ; his big­gest draw­back is his youth — Beneric’s head­strong, impe­tuous enthu­siasm needs to be tem­pe­red with expe­rience to teach him cau­tion, wari­ness and tact.


Wuthgild’s daugh­ter is nine­teen, a tall, dark-haired young woman with the same sharp, pier­cing blue eyes of her father. Taught by her father to read and cipher from an early age, she shares his intel­li­gence, though not his wisdom. Like her father in his youth, she yearns for travel and adven­ture, and would, in fact, depart for just that end, did she not fear her lea­ving would be the death of Wuth­gild. She has been secretly taking les­sons in weapon-hand­ling and prac­ti­cing for years, and is a quick and agile young woman. Her skill with both dagger and short sword would surely shock her unsus­pec­ting parent.


A slen­der, blond youth of four­teen, Fido­ric is stron­ger than he appears, but he was only just begin­ning his trai­ning in war skills when his clan-hold was des­troyed by the Orc raid. Though sho­cked and dis­traught by what he found on his return to his home, he retains sense enough to reco­gnize that there was some­thing pecu­liar about the raid. His grief for his family and guilt about being the only sur­vi­vor of the raid express them­selves as a bitter, mur­de­rous anger and he will pro­ba­bly insist on accom­pa­nying any party going out to hunt the Orcs. Should they decline to take him due to his youth and inex­pe­rience he will likely follow the group anyway. From his mother he’s lear­ned a good bit of herb-lore, and he knows the high­lands around the town as well as anyone in the area.

14.3 Layouts

Buhr Thurasig

1 · Guard Towers
These stone towers are three sto­ries (forty feet) in height. The loo­kout area on the third floor is rea­ched by a win­ding stone stair­case which hugs the inter­ior walls. There are four of them, two on either side of the upper and lower ends of the ramp and bridge. Each is manned night and day.
2 · Toll gates
A wooden gate blo­cking each end of the bridge and ramp. They are nor­mally kept shut and opened only after a tra­ve­ler has paid the 5 copper pieces toll for use of the bridge. The money pays for upkeep and the guards” sala­ries.
3 · Toll house
A small wood hut for the toll-taker. During the warmer times of the year, when tra­ve­lers are more frequent, each toll-house is manned constantly during the day. In winter and at night, one of the guards is res­pon­sible for col­lec­ting the toll and ope­ning the gate should someone wish to pass.
4 · Lower guard hall and bar­racks
The guards work six hour shifts every other day, so it takes 32 men to keep all the towers sup­plied. There are also four cap­tains, who are res­pon­sible for admi­nis­tra­tion and trai­ning, and do fill-in shifts when a guard is ill or called away. The lower bar­racks can hold up to twenty men ; since some choose to live with fami­lies or elsew­here there are usually bet­ween twelve and six­teen in resi­dence at any given time. S. Lower supply house. Used for sto­ring wea­pons and sup­plies for the guards.
6 · Lower stable
The guards” duties may also involve taking mes­sages, escor­ting tra­ve­lers, sear­ching out and remo­ving menaces, and run­ning errands, so there are usually five or six horses avai­lable.
7 · Upper guard house and bar­racks
Simi­lar to the lower guard house but slightly larger ; this one can hold up to thirty men, but like the lower one usually houses fewer.
8 · Upper stable
Can hold as many as a dozen horses.
9 · Upper supply house
10 · Armory
Holds extra stores of wea­pons for use both by guards and towns­people in times of danger.
11 · Blacksmith’s shop
12 · Blacksmith’s family’s home
13 · Trade hall
Sup­plies needs of the towns­people not met by local crafts­men.
14 · Weaver’s shop and family resi­dence
15 · Carpenter’s shop
16 · « The Wai­ling Wind » Inn
Larger of the two inns ser­ving the town. The buil­ding is three sto­ries high. The ground floor contains a large public tavern, public dining room, kit­chen, office, and pri­vate dining rooms.
17 · Innkeeper’s family resi­dence
18 · Stable for the Inn
Can accom­mo­date up to thirty horses. When a fair is being held and at other times of heavy use, the Inn­kee­per will hire extra help from youn­ger mem­bers of the fami­lies in the area.
19 · Sto­rage and Smoke house
Holds meat, grain, and other extra sup­plies for the Inn.
20 · Wuthgild’s house
A solid stone house, occu­pied by Wuth­gild and his daugh­ter, Syn­drith.
21 · Town Hall
Houses offices for Wuth­gild and a pair of clerks, the town’s records, and a mee­ting room for the coun­cil.
22 · Smal­ler Inn and stables
« The Gryphon’s Wing » is about half the size of « The Wai­ling Wind ». Only two sto­ries in height, it can sleep up to thirty people, not neces­sa­rily com­for­ta­bly.
23 · Daelglid’s hold
The languz, the main resi­dence, holds twenty people. Just behind it are a barn, sto­re­house, and grain silo.
24 · Fidoric’s family’s hold
A few miles out of town, this house is now a burnt-out ruin. The house once was home to eight people and had a barn/​storehouse nearby.
25 · The ruins of ano­ther hold
Raided by daring Orcs some months pre­viously.
26 · A path
Used by the Orcs on their raid can be found lea­ding from Fidoric’s family hold. Players will have to follow this path to track down the Orc band.
27 · Foot­bridge
Allows access to seve­ral other holds in the hills to the east of town.
28 · Path into the uplands
A foot­bridge crosses the east fork of the Gil­drin stream. This is the main trail into the inter­ior of the moun­tains. It fol­lows the valley of the Gil­drin for some miles.
29 · Fair Field
A grassy, open area in the center of town- Cele­bra­tions and trade fairs are held here.
30 · Stone Mar­kers
A series of flat stones, squa­red off and set so that their tops are about a foot above ground level, they com­me­mo­rate the foun­ders of Buhr Thu­ra­sig.
31 · Wild­flo­wer garden
32 · The south road
Crosses the Men Rhûnen about thirty miles to the south and conti­nues down into the plains until it meets and blends with the Men Mithrin, pro­cee­ding fur­ther south to Dale and Esga­roth.

Orc cave area

1 · The path from Buhr Thu­ra­sig
The total dis­tance from the town is about ten miles.
2 · Stream
For the last mile or so of the trek, the path fol­lows the course of a stream, which is gene­rally shal­low, no more than five to six feet wide and runs swift, cold, and clean, though since the Orcs moved into the area the water is not so who­le­some as it once was- It is, howe­ver, drin­kable.
3 · Haw­thorn thi­cket with bear cave behind
The Haw­thorns are pretty plants, with clus­ters of small white flo­wers in spring and later small red, inedible fruits. As the name sug­gests they also have nasty thorns which look like minia­ture rapiers and can be up to three inches long. The stand isn’t very dense right here ; few of the shrubs menace anyone who remains on the foot­path. It is easy (+20) to see that there is an ope­ning in the rock behind the plants, and only hard (-10) to detect the traces of paw prints in the earth nearby. There’s a 60% chance the bear will be at home or near enough to hear the intru­ders.
4 · Haw­thorn thi­cket
The plants are much denser here and they grow right up to and over the trail for­ming a sort of tunnel. The wicked thorns on the bushes make pas­sage of this length of the path a dan­ge­rous under­ta­king. Anyone over five foot ten will have to duck or find their hair combed somew­hat more vigo­rously than they might prefer.
5 · The marsh
A low area where the stream broa­dens and spreads over a wider area. If the cha­rac­ters step care­fully they can avoid sin­king any fur­ther into the muck than their ankles. It is very hard (40) to notice a pair of gar­nets worth 10 silver pieces and 25 silver pieces stuck in a sandy area near the edge of the mire.
6 · Rock slide
Near the far end of the marsh a pile of rocks has formed at the bottom of a steep sec­tion of hill, the result of a slide. It isn’t dif­fi­cult to climb over the rocks, which are piled three feet high and cover a thirty foot stretch of the path. There is a 40% chance that one of the rocks will tip or roll out from under anyone cros­sing this expanse.
7 · Plan­ked foot bridge
8 · Giant’s Hut
The two-room hut is roughly bit of upright logs chin­ked with mud and roofed with a that­ching of leafy branches. The fur­ni­ture is just as rustic and pro­por­tio­ned for someone with really long legs and arms. During the day the Giant is 50% likely to be home or to arrive while the players are there. After dark the chances rise to 100%-
9 · Ano­ther plan­ked bridge
It is extre­mely hard (-35) to see that one of the planks is loose and likely to pop up when one end is step­ped on, thro­wing the unfor­tu­nate cros­ser off-balance and pro­ba­bly into the stream. For­tu­na­tely the bridge is only two feet over the water and the bottom is sandy rather than rocky at this point, so a fall will not likely prove very dama­ging, except to the sufferer’s pride and any sup­plies he/​she car­ried that weren’t well wrap­ped.
The foot path crosses this bridge and it is very rou­tine (+30) to see that some (but not all) of the Orc tracks cross it. In fact there are quite a lot of foot­prints here, going in seve­ral dif­ferent direc­tions.
10 · Wolves” Cave
A gaping hole in group of large rocks here shows a cave beyond. Inves­ti­ga­tion will show that the cave contains nume­rous bones, from seve­ral variety of ani­mals. The smell should indi­cate to all but the very dull-witted that this an animal den and the resident(s) aren’t picky about the type and cut of their meat. During the day­time there is a twenty percent chance per hour of a wolf in the area ; at night the like­li­hood rises to eighty percent.
11 · Orc Cave Entrance
The ope­ning is about six feet above ground level but it is only hard (-10) to see that the rocks piled near it form a sort of crude stair­case or ladder. Extre­mely hard to see (-30) is that the third step from the top is a trap. The rock for­ming it doesn’t sit squa­rely on the one below. If a person steps on it anyw­here but in the exact center, it will tip over and toss the person off the stairs to the ground.

Orc cave

1 · A narrow ope­ning
(about twenty-eight inches wide) allows access to the immense fore cham­ber of the cave. The cave is an old one, having been exca­va­ted by Dwarves many cen­tu­ries before, then occu­pied and aban­do­ned by a host of Orcs. Inside, the floor level is about four feet below the ope­ning. There are no steps. A rope hung from a spike driven into the cave wall hangs beside the ope­ning. This might appear to be a trap, but isn’t ; the Orcs use the rope to get into and out of the cave.
The fore cham­ber is thirty feet wide in places. The top of the cham­ber rises away from the ope­ning and the floor slopes down, so that the cei­ling of the cham­ber soars upward to a vault almost forty feet high at the far end.
2 · Sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites
An impres­sive group of lime for­ma­tions. There are some sta­lag­mites and sta­lac­tites all over the cave, but there is a par­ti­cu­larly stun­ning group of them here, consis­ting of as many as forty of each, inclu­ding some which have grown toge­ther, top to bottom, to form gra­ce­ful columns over two feet in dia­me­ter and up to thirty-five feet high. Many of the others are for­mi­da­bly long and pos­sess spiked ends.
3 · A table
Formed by a carved stone slab placed across two thick gra­nite trestles, pro­vides the Orcs that live here with a place where they can gamble, eat, or make gran­diose speeches (which for Orcs consists of strin­ging two coherent sen­tences toge­ther).
A secret com­part­ment (Hard 40 to detect) in the floor under the table holds a small lump of gold (10 gold pieces); a chip­ped mithril dagger (+ I 0 against Undead); twelve ame­thysts worth a total of 120 silver pieces ; a vial contai­ning five doses of Lin­thi­ri­gum (S. bane-essence), which, when dabbed on a person’s body, will repel approach or attack by any beast ; and a fine silver fili­gree neck­lace worth 12 gold pieces. All of these fine items are buried in the com­part­ment under a heap of assor­ted Orcish gar­bage.
4 · A layer of over­lap­ping sta­lag­mites and sta­lac­tites
Com­ple­tely covers this wall. Because there are pockets of air trap­ped within the layer and bet­ween it and the stone behind it, the wall pos­sesses pecu­liar acous­ti­cal pro­per­ties. Even a gentle tap pro­duces a clear, bell-like musi­cal tone, and run­ning a hand across it will make the wall « sing ».
5 · Dark side pas­sage
6 · Rock fall com­ple­tely blocks the pas­sage
The walls and cei­ling are uns­table here, so ham­me­ring against the stone may pro­duce ano­ther cave-in.
7 · Stairs
Cut into the rock pro­ceed down­ward.
8 · Boul­der pile
Not far beyond the bottom of the steps a rock fall has left a pile of boul­ders blo­cking about two-thirds of the pas­sage. A long bone pro­trudes from under­neath one of the rocks, ending in an iron-toed shoe : the remains, it would appear, of an Orc long buried under the stones.
Beyond the boul­ders a locked door blocks fur­ther pro­gress. The trap pro­tec­ting it has already been sprung. The lock on the door is extre­mely hard (-30) to pick.
9 · The hall
The hall is very dark and the air stale as though no one has ente­red in a very long time. The cor­ri­dor forks right beyond the door and pas­sages pro­ceed to the north and south.
10 · Sto­rage area
The walls are lined with dusty shelves, mostly empty. This was appa­rently a sto­rage area in some long past time. A few piles and lumps of uni­den­ti­fiable goo represent all that remains of the per­ishables.
11 · Sto­re­room and Armory
This cor­ri­dor, too, is lined with shelves and ends in a sort of walk-in closet that once func­tio­ned as an armory. The lea­ther gear and wood wea­pons have long since crum­bled into tat­ters and dust while most of the metal swords and armor have oxi­di­zed to the point of use­less.
12 · Ledge
Just a few feet beyond the fore cham­ber, the pas­sage nar­rows to a two foot wide ledge that drops off shar­ply on the left. It’s too dark to see exactly how far down the bottom is or what is down there, but a stone drop­ped off the side will fall for some time before a spla­shing noise is heard.
13 · Well
This is a trap left by nature rather than Dwarves or Orcs. The hole is about two feet across and forty inches wide. At some past time a low stone para­pet, about two feet high, was built around the ope­ning, but parts of the wall have crum­bled and it would be fairly easy for a care­less tra­ve­ler to trip over the stones in the murky gloom and fall in. An agile person could catch him or her­self on the sides or the rope and hold on. The rope appears rela­ti­vely new, and is atta­ched to an iron hook driven into the floor nearby, while the other end drops down into the pit. Pul­ling up the rope will pro­duce, finally, a bucket filled with water. The water has a heavy mine­ral content but is drin­kable. Almost sixty feet of rope have to be drawn back up before the bucket appears.
Around the well pas­sages pro­ceed south, west, north, and nor­theast.
14 · The remains of an old rock-fall
It lit­ters the entire expanse of floor here. They are trea­che­rously uns­table but pas­sable with care.
15 · An aban­do­ned wooden mine cart rests here
It looks like a good touch would send the whole thing col­lap­sing into splin­ters. The pas­sage ends here, dig­ging having appa­rently been has­tily halted.
16 · The pas­sage ends abruptly in a flat stone wall
It is Hard (-10) to see that there are small depres­sions cut into the wall that might offer toe­holds for someone clim­bing up. Should one manage the climb (about eight feet) he or she would find him­self pas­sing through a narrow ope­ning in the top of the cham­ber into a small (four foot by four foot by four foot) room.
17 · The pas­sage is very low and narrow
A tight squeeze for anyone over five foot ten, or wei­ghing more than 150 pounds.
18 · A wider cham­ber
It ends in a brick wall cove­ring all of the far end. Bat­te­ring down the wall would require six man-hours of work with a sledge-hammer or equi­va­lently heavy tool. Behind the wall are a number of boxes whose contents of papers and books have long since molded and crum­bled. There are also ske­le­tons of at least ten indi­vi­duals. No indi­ca­tion of clothes or other per­so­nal belon­gings remains, nor is there any sign of struggle, sug­ges­ting that the indi­vi­duals were dead and looted when their bodies were buried here.
19 · The pas­sage
It slopes shar­ply down and the floor has been cru­dely worked into a series of ter­ra­ced steps of uneven width and height. They are damp and anyone pas­sing has a 20% chance of slip­ping on the trea­che­rous foo­ting.
20 · A deep chasm 
Eight feet wide cuts across the pas­sage, which conti­nues on the other side of the gulf. A crude bridge has been made by laying a series of rough-hewn planks side by side across the ope­ning. It is Very Hard (-20) to see that one of the planks is nearly rotted out and won’t sup­port a weight grea­ter than forty pounds. Cros­sing without step­ping on the bad plank is dif­fi­cult but pos­sible.
21 · The pas­sage
It nar­rows as it makes a sharp bend, but remains pas­sable. It is Sheer Folly (-50) to see that a very fine cord, stret­ched across the cor­ri­dor at ankle level, trips a mecha­nism that causes a ten foot by ten foot mesh net to be drop­ped onto anyone below.
22 · Gretch’s lair
The large inner cham­ber is strewn with bones and a few rot­ting car­casses. The smell will make even a strong person gag and be sick. The Gretch him­self is most likely to be found here, devou­ring the spirit of an unfor­tu­nate victim or res­ting on a bed formed from the piled up pelts of his prey.

14.4 The task

The objec­tive of the mis­sion is straight­for­ward, to search out the rai­ding Orcs and dis­pose of them. The tricky part of the job comes in dea­ling with their leader and slave driver, the Gretch. He is a nasty cha­rac­ter, and being Undead, a dif­fi­cult one to defeat. In addi­tion, the jour­ney to the cave is per­ilous in itself.

Starting the players

The PCs can be assu­med to have come to Buhr Thu­ra­sig for any number of pos­sible rea­sons : there might be a trade fair upco­ming in which a renow­ned smith will be sho­wing some good qua­lity wea­pons, or per­haps they have heard rumors of trouble in the area and have made the jour­ney pre­su­ming that adven­tu­rers might be in demand. For wha­te­ver reason, they will most likely take rooms at « The Wai­ling Wind ». When Fido­ric comes run­ning to the town with his ghastly news, he will head first for the Inn where he can be sure of fin­ding at least one member of the Coun­cil (and pro­ba­bly more). The PCs may ove­rhear the conver­sa­tion and offer their ser­vices (for a price, of course), or the Coun­cil, wor­ried about the Orc threat, and with no men of their own to spare at this time, may entreat the hardy and fierce-loo­king group to under­take the mis­sion–


Although the Orc trail will not be dif­fi­cult to follow, the PCs would be well advi­sed to take a guide, as the moun­tains can be a dif­fi­cult and dan­ge­rous area for anyone not fami­liar with them. Any of seve­ral of the vil­la­gers could serve in that capa­city, and Fido­ric will almost cer­tainly insist on going with the party. Howe­ver, his youth, inex­pe­rience, and pre­ca­rious emo­tio­nal condi­tion could be as much a lia­bi­lity as an aid. Either Dael­glid id, Bene­ric, or Syn­drith could lead the com­pany ; all know the area well and have more trai­ning and expe­rience as hun­ters and war­riors.


There is no shor­tage of dan­gers in this trip. The Orcs rnake no attempt to dis­guise their pas­sage, so fol­lo­wing them is no real dif­fi­culty, but the nature of the moun­tains them­selves make the jour­ney per­ilous. The PCs will have to deal with hazards of the ter­rain itself, such as rock slides and marshes, and the flora, par­ti­cu­larly the nasty Haw­thorne thi­ckets.

The fauna of the area is abun­dant and gene­rally unfriendly- The bear is dan­ge­rous only if he is approa­ched in his den or feels him­self under attack ; the wolves will usually be elsew­here during the day­light hours and any sen­sible wood­sman knows to stay well away from a wolves” den at night.

The Giant, also, is a pro­blem only when he is irri­ta­ted or feels him­self or his pets are threa­te­ned. Approa­ched pro­perly, howe­ver, he will be friendly enough and in fact of some assis­tance to the players.

There is no good or right way to approach Orcs except fully armed and pre­pa­red to fight. Most of these crea­tures are not par­ti­cu­larly large, fierce, or intel­li­gent, howe­ver, and won’t be too dif­fi­cult to defeat. The most serious opponent is the Gretch.


Aside from the fee the Coun­cil has offe­red for the defeat of the Orcs, the Giant might also be willing to offer some pay­ment, if the PCs have hand­led him care­fully, since the Orcs have been rai­ding the small flock of sheep he keeps and have made serious depre­da­tions on the local deer and other ani­mals he hunts for food. In addi­tion, the group may find a number of valuable objects in the cave itself.

A final reward is the res­pect and gra­ti­tude of the town of Buhr Thu­ra­sig, which could well lead to the reve­la­tion of other secrets and the pos­si­bi­lity of more lucra­tive assi­gn­ments.

14.5 Encounters


This is a large brown bear, fierce but not overly aggres­sive unless his den is inva­ded or he feels him­self threa­te­ned. An encoun­ter out­side his den will usually end with his with­dra­wal, unless he is actually atta­cked. If a foo­lish cha­rac­ter does invade his home, the bear will defend it with power­ful legs and claws. His pro­di­gious strength means that even one well-aimed blow from an arm or leg could prove fatal, and his spiky claws could do serious damage even should he miss hit­ting his target squa­rely. Since he can also outrun any of the cha­rac­ters and defeat any one indi­vi­dual in combat, the best bet should the party become entan­gled with the crea­ture is to try dis­trac­ting him with food. Since the crea­ture is usually hungry this ploy will gene­rally work–


The pack occu­pying the cave near the Orcs” lair consists of two mature females, one mature male, one imma­ture male and two imma­ture females. They are, at least in part, under the influence of the Gretch, and are requi­red to bring him a living crea­ture occa­sio­nally. This expen­di­ture of energy with no resul­tant bene­fit in food means that the pack is only mar­gi­nally sub­sistent, and the­re­fore weaker than a normal group of wolves. This is both good news and bad ; it means the pack is easier to defeat, but the ani­mals are also des­pe­rate and more likely to attack than wolves nor­mally would be when confron­ted with a group of super­ior strength. During day­light hours, the odds are good that most of the pack will be out hun­ting and not aware of the stran­gers” pas­sage.

Morgizern the Giant

Like most Giants, Mor­gi­zern is a soli­tary crea­ture, pre­fer­ring his own com­pany along with his sheep and pet house cats, to that of others of his own kind. He is mode­ra­tely intel­li­gent — by Giant stan­dards — and a very effec­tive hunter. Mor­gi­zern is a gentle soul who likes his quiet, orderly life, but he does have a quick temper and will fight furiously when arou­sed. His size alone makes him a for­mi­dable opponent.

In recent months his pets have been atta­cked by Orcs and a few car­ried off. This has defi­ni­tely gotten him irri­ta­ted, and in fact, he has tried to go after the Orcs him­self. After seve­ral attempts to jam, squeeze, ooze, or force his way into the cave, he was forced to conclude there was no way his large frame would ever slide through the narrow entrance. The Orcs know of his inter­est and have mana­ged to elude his seve­ral attempts at ambush.

Morgizern’s mother, unlike most of her kind, was a great belie­ver in man­ners and the proper way to do things, and she trai­ned her son to behave cor­rectly. The Giant took the les­sons to heart. If the PCs behave them­selves and don’t do any­thing to offend Mor­gi­zern, they will find him help­ful and friendly. He might even offer the local rumor that ope­ning the stone canis­ter in the cave was said to be doubly dan­ge­rous, but would repay the effort well. He will also reward the PCs with seve­ral gems from his secret col­lec­tion for proof that the Orcs have been des­troyed.

Urgurk, Nurgash, Rugat, and Grac

By and large this is your usual band of Orcs : ornery, mean, violent, fero­cious, and totally lacking in appre­cia­tion for any of the finer things in life. With the slight excep­tion of Nur­gash, none of them is very bright and will usually follow the orders of their Cap­tain, Gla­sh­toc, with much grum­bling and little enthu­siasm. This group lives in fear of the Gretch, and is vir­tually ensla­ved to him. Because some of their spirit has already been sucked by the Undead Orc, none of them fight with the usual Orc fero­city and single-min­ded­ness.


The Cap­tain of the group of Orcs led this band away from a larger clus­ter in Mirk­wood to the south, fol­lo­wing a dis­pute with ano­ther local Orc chief­tain. They set­tled their dif­fe­rences in the usual Orc way, and Gla­sh­toc was defea­ted. He and his fol­lo­wers fled into exile in the Grey Moun­tains, but were caught in the mental snare of the Gretch and forced into his ser­vice–

Gla­sh­toc is cun­ning as well as fero­cious, and eager to find a way to dis­pose of the Gretch, thus ending his ensla­ve­ment. The Orc cap­tain is smar­ter than the others and makes a for­mi­dable enemy, but if he thinks it likely the parry of inva­ders could defeat the Gretch, he might just leave them alone long enough to make the attempt, par­ti­cu­larly if the Gretch hasn’t been aler­ted to the approa­ching attack.

The Gretch

Long ages ago, a band of Dwarves dug out the mine tun­nels which would later become the Ores” lair. Those enter­pri­sing Dwarf miners found the shafts rewar­ded their labor well, yiel­ding large quan­ti­ties of iron ore, silver, copper, and even a vein of pre­cious mithril. They pur­sued their work undis­tur­bed for many years.

Howe­ver a huge party of Orcs deci­ded to settle in the area as well. They began rai­ding the Dwarf party, and tried to invade their mine. These incur­sions were rebuf­fed by the stout war­riors, and for a time the Orc chief­tain called off the attacks.

Through right of combat, a new, stron­ger Orc chief­tain arose, named Rig­bord. He mus­te­red the Ores” remai­ning strength for a final assault on the Dwarves, who were routed by the ons­laught. Howe­ver, a Dwar­ven priest among the miners laid a ter­rible curse upon Rig­bord with his dying gasp. This last retri­bu­tive utte­ring threw the Orc chief into a tor­men­ted and hor­rible exis­tence as the Undead Gretch.

The Gretch now feeds on the spi­rits of living crea­tures to keep him­self func­tio­ning. Should he not get suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ties of life essence, he will suffer hor­rible with­dra­wal pains while fading very slowly in mortal anguish. To keep him­self well sup­plied, he has bes­pel­led the Orcs who took refuge here and requires a conti­nuing tri­bute of living crea­tures from them, else he will drain them ins­tead.

The Gretch appears as a rela­ti­vely tall (5′1″) Orc, sur­roun­ded by a slight blue flo­res­cence. The light glows brigh­ter when he’s fed recently and dims as his need increases. The crea­ture is nearly insa­tiable, howe­ver, and will attack and attempt to drain the essence from a victim even if he’s fresh from ano­ther fee­ding.


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