Ennemies to Protect Us
Tom Schneider — 455 Brahms Way — #212 Sunnyvale, CA 94087 — USA
This adventure is set in Dunland during the War of the Ring, just days before the Wizard Saruman visits open war against the Men of Rohan. The scenario is written from the perspective of player-characters who would be willing to spy on behalf of Rohan and whose presence in Dunlending territory would not arouse undue suspicion. The ultimate goal of the characters will be to warn Théodred of an alliance between Isengard and a powerful coalition of Dunlendish clans soon to be unleashed against the Westfold. If they succeed, Théodred will be able to order the Western Muster in time; if they fail, things may not go so well for Rohan at the Fords of Isen.
Note: This adventure is based primarily upon Tolkien’s works and the author’s imagination, but certain aspects — the names of the Dunlendish clans, the figure of Maben and the Temple of Justice — have been borrowed from the ICE module Dunland and the Southern Misty Mountains. These elements have been adapted to fit the 3019 setting of the present adventure.
Rohan and Dunland
A long-standing enmity has existed between the Rohirrim and the folk they call the Dunlendings. When the Eorlingas took possession of the green fields of Calenardhon in the year 2510, they did not occupy a wholly empty land. Over the five preceding centuries of the Watchful Peace, Daen-folk from the Enedwaith and Western Gondor freely trafficked through the Gap of Calenardhon and intermarried with the people of that land. As the Men of Gondor waned and the world around them grew unfriendly, the rich grasslands of Calenardhon increasingly became a tempting prize for the clans of Dunfearan and their herds.
These easterly migrations were halted by the arrival of the Eorlingas, who claimed all the land between the River Isen and the Emyn Muil as their own. Over the next hundred years, the new lords of Riddermark contested the land with their adversaries. King Brego succeeded in driving all Dunlendish folk westward across the Isen, and Aldor his son even embarked on raids and reprisals against their homeland in Enedwaith, sealing a centuries-long hatred. In time, this hatred bore fruit.
Maben and the Temple of Justice
In his unending efforts to destroy his chief foes — the Dúnedain— the Dark Lord Sauron has always found ready helpers among Lesser Men who have suffered wrong at the hands of Gondor or its allies. The Men of Dunland have often listened gladly to his counsels, and have in the past fallen prey to his influence. In the days of the kings, a Sauronic cult had arisen which sought to inflame the Daen of Enedwaith to revolt against the power of Gondor. This cult was led by a Daen named Maben (secretly a servant of the Dark Lord), and was centered around a stronghold known as the Temple of Justice.
The Temple and its cult had long been abandoned and forgotten when the Rohirrim took possession of Calenardhon some five hundred years ago. But in 2951, Sauron declared himself openly in Mordor and strove to renew his influence over former allies and servants. Whispered rumors spread through Dunland among the clans that Maben their liberator had returned from the dead to lead them once more against their enemies.
This man who claimed to be Maben was in truth a newly recruited minion of the Dark Lord, whom Sauron had instructed to resurrect the Temple of Justice. When the original cult was forced underground by the power of Gondor, its surviving servants sought refuge in the caves of the southern Misty Mountains. There they brought all of the spells and artifacts of cult, and continued to practice its rites for a time until they eventually died out and were forgotten. When the Dark Lord commanded the new Maben to revive the Temple, he sent him first to this refuge, known among the clans as “the Highway Caves.”
From the secrecy of these caves, Maben sowed discontent among the Dunlendings. He succeeded in polarizing the clans into two camps: The Daen Iontis and the Daen Coentis. The former were led by Daonghlas of Clan Arailt and openly supported war against Rohan. The latter were led by Clan Feargan; and though they too hated the Men of Riddermark, they remembered the evil of the ancient Temple of Justice and refused to be counted among its allies. In time, Maben’s power and support among the Daen Iontis was great enough for him to rebuild the Temple.
The Temple of Justice was refounded with the aid of sorcerous power. Its foundation was bound to an alter in a ceremonial chamber beneath the Temple, which Maben consecrated with the aid of the Dagger of lam Irrath. This artifact was used in the founding of the original Temple and had been preserved by its survivors in the Highway Caves.
Out of his guilt in assisting the foundation of the original Temple of Justice, the wizard responsible for the creation of this dagger made a twin. This second artifact, called the Dagger of Ian Imran, had the power of reversing the consecration of the alter and so undoing the foundations of the Temple (This was, in fact, how the original Temple had been ruined.). After completing the ceremony of founding the new Temple, Maben had both daggers hidden in the Highway Caves for safe keeping, so that they could never again be used to thwart the Dark Lord’s plans.
Isengard and Saruman
In order to achieve his master’s plans against Gondor’s allies in Rohan, Maben must come to terms with his treacherous neighbor in Isengard. The Wizard Saruman took up residence in the tower of Orthanc in 2759 at the behest of the Steward of Gondor. With his coming, Rohan would no longer have cause to fear incursions from the folk of Dunland. But the white wizard proved faithless to Gondor, declaring himself Lord of Isengard in 2953.
At the Dark Lord’s bidding, Maben has approached Saruman with an offer of friendship and assistance from the Daen Iontis in the anticipated war against Rohan. Maben rightly believes that association with the wizard of Isengard will cement for him the allegiance of many of the clans. A ceremonial gathering at the newly-founded Temple of Justice is being planned, at which Saruman has agreed to be present to speak on Maben’s behalf before the Iontis. In return, Maben has made use of the Highway Caves (which connect the territory of Clan Arailt to the Vale of Isengard) to send men and material support to his ally. Were it known to the Daen Coentis clans that this as yet secret alliance entailed friendship with Orcs and other sworn foes of the Daen-folk, Maben might have a clan war on his hands.
Théodred and the Westfold
Saruman was quick to support the enemies of Rohan (including the Dunlendings), whom he allowed to encroach on the borders of Riddermark to its weakening. This has been generally known to the Men of Westfold, and Théodred, marshal of Helm’s Deep and son to the king, has taken appropriate measures to hold the Fords of Isen against this renewed threat But since 3014 (five years ago), his father King Théoden has fallen ill, and his policies toward Isengard and the Westfold are more and more being influenced and contrived by Théoden’s deceitful counsellor Gríma Wormtongue, who does everything in his power to aid his true master in the overthrow of the Mark.
It is now February of 3019, and young Théodred is becoming increasingly concerned about this situation. Four months ago, Black Riders thundered across the Fords of Isen, bound for Isengard. Close on their heels rode the Wizard Gandalf astride Shadowfax. Since the strange events of those days, Théodred’s scouts have marked a sudden increase of activity in and around Isengard, and there are rumors that the Dunlendings purpose to join the white wizard in a great attack upon Westfold.
Théodred greatly desires to discover the truth or falsity of these rumors, so that he may prepare for the defense accordingly. But the young marshal fears to wait upon his father’s consent for his actions, because of Wormtongue’s guile. Therefore, Théodred has resolved to send a group of spies across the Isen to scout out affairs in Dunland and to frustrate, if may be, any designs the Dunlendings may harbor with Saruman.
The Course of Events
The player-characters are gathered before Théodred at Helm’s Deep on February 1st, 3019. Saruman plans to launch his first assault on the Fords of Isen on February 25th, and will speak for Maben at the Temple of Justice on February 12th. This gives Théodred’s spies less than two weeks to uncover the link between Isengard and the Iontis clans, and less than another two weeks to make it back safely to Westfold to warn Théodred before Saruman begins his attack.
The Overturned Wagon
Some twenty leagues along the old road that runs northwest through Dunland from the Fords of Isen, the characters will encounter an overturned wagon. Four draft horses graze alongside the road and three Dunlending men appear to be attempting to turn the wagon off its side. The wagon’s cargo of melons lies strewn about on the ground.
The owner of the wagon is a Ruadh clansman named Aaron MacAyr, who was travelling with his brother near to the territory of Clan Arailt to trade his melons with other Coentis clans. He was ambushed by two Arailt clansmen and his brother was slain (The body is hidden under a tarp behind the overturned wagon.).
The Arailt men ordered Aaron to drive them south along the road towards some unspecified destination, but Aaron heard his captors whispering to each other about the Highway Caves in the mountains nearby. While Aaron’s eyes were on the road, one of the Arailt men hollowed out one of his melons and hid within it the message they were bearing from Maben.
If the characters decide to search through the scattered melons, a SEARCH roll combined with an IDEA roll will reveal the hidden parchment (written in Westron, as Dunlendish is not a written language). See Figure 1 to left. Aaron will make no indication of his current plight to the charac-ters, unless he believes that they are friendly and could overpower his captors. The Arailt men will try to play off the situation as what it appears to be: an accident. They will continue this story until there seems to be no hope of proving it as true to the characters, in which case they will attempt to persuade them to help them get on their way. They will fight only as a last resort, especially if they are outnumbered. If the characters free Aaron of his captors, he will tell them the story of his abduction and offer them the hospitality of his home village of Dochnan, which is located near the western edge of the Caerdh Wood. If the characters do not appear to be spies for Rohan, their newfound friend may also (if asked) reveal to them something of the current situation in Dunland — the return of the Temple of Justice and the growing dissension between the Iontis and Coentis clans. Aaron knows nothing of Maben’s relationship to Saruman, but he has heard of the Highway Caves and their general location within Arailt territory (though he is unaware of the tunnel that leads from them to the Wizard’s Vale).
Figure 1 – The Letter
My Most Esteemed Colleague,
I send you this unexpected missive to express my deep gratitude for your gift arrived in most exceedingly fine condition and was entirely well met. I am afraid I must now move on to more pressing matters. The excavation of the old temple must commence sooner than anticipated, but this should lead to a ceremony sooner than before anticipated. I will keep this brief, for I know that you also are quite busy preparing. I will say in parting that together we shall prevail.
The Village of Dochnan
At The Glade and Spear inn at Dochnan, the characters can acquire free room and board thanks to their friend Aaron MacAyr. They will also learn of a Dunlending named Edwin Stewart, who may be able to help them with information and possibly accompany them to the Temple of Justice. Edwin is a mighty warrior and the local hero of Dochnan, who is violently opposed to Maben and the Iontis. He knows about the date and time of the ceremonial gathering on February 12th, but does not know that Saruman will be there. He also knows of the legends concerning the Daggers of Iam Irrath and Ian Imran and of their use, but does not know their current whereabouts. Edwin wears the traditional kilt of red and black tartan of Clan Ruadh.
If any of the characters have lost their mounts by this time, they may acquire new mounts free of charge as long as they promise to return them in equivalent condition. If there is a need to bring new player-characters into the game at this point, these may be drawn from among Edwin’s friends or the village militia. The men of Dochnan will be equipped either with targets and broadswords or claymores, and wear ring mail suits with plate helms.
The Highway Caves
The cave entrance is in the eastern portion of Arailt territory. The borders of Clan Arailt are patrolled regularly about every two hours by a group of ten trained warriors led by a sergeant, who will thoroughly investigate anything out of the ordinary. The Cave entrance is partially concealed and has no appointed guard. Characters who follow the passageway east will eventually end up in the Wizard’s Vale. The distance between the “A” connection points is approximately three-fourths of a mile. The distance between the “B” two connection points is approximately seven and one-quarter miles.
- 1 · The Cave Entrance
- 2 · Guard Post
- The guard post is constantly manned by at least two Arailt warriors at all times. As with all Dunnish clans men, the Arailt wear a traditional kilt and sporran. The tartan of the kilt is a mixture of evergreen and dark blue plaid.
- 3 · Storage Closet
- Inside this closet is stored various equipment and some supplies, among which are two lanterns, ten flasks of oil, two hundred feet of rope, a dozen torches, and flint and steel.
- 4 · Sergeant’s Quarters
- This room is considerably better furnished than the rest of the rooms inhabited by the Arailt. Its center is adorned by a massive mahogany desk with an accompanying oversized chair. Bookshelves line the rear of the room, and a small bed lies in one corner. This room will always contain the sergeant currently commanding the garrison stationed here. The sergeant will immediately investigate any kind of noise emanating from the barracks (# 5). Sergeants are distinguished from the rest of the warriors by the feather that they wear straight up on the side of their tams.
- 5 · Barracks
- The barracks contain between two and six resting Arailt warriors at any given time. There are bunks for approximately thirty men, and a cooking area of to one side. These troops will be cautious, but not quick to attack unexpected visitors.
- 6 · The Spiral
- A pathway has been carved into this cavern to spiral both up and down, thus providing a means to reach both the upper and lower caves.
- 7 · Old Temple Guard Post
- Two temple guards are stationed here. The temple guards wear white robes with gold trim. The polearms they carry are similar to military forks but the outer edges have been sharpened into blades.
- 8 · Symmetrical Stairway
- These stairs are mirror images of each other, and completely out of place in the rough hewn caverns. The stonework that went into the construction of the stairs was obviously the accomplishment of a great mason. They have been polished to give almost a shine. A secret door way activated by the lever mechanism in the old temple (# 9) opens out here.
- 9 · The Old Temple
- This is the remains of the old Temple of Justice. It is lavishly decorated with tapestries and statuary, and two temple guards stand at each side of the entrance. A massive stone table with strange runes engraved upon it stands centered in front of the rear wall. Upon the table are the daggers of lam Irrath and Ian Imran. Hidden within some of the carvings in a back leg is the lever to open a secret door.
The Temple of Justice priests wear white robes with blue trim. They have been taught a wide range of spells and knowledge of magical lore. Priests are brought up from the ranks of the temple guard and therefore make formidable melee opponents as well. The priests are fanatical to the end for the Temple of Justice. Should the characters stumble upon the temple during a ceremony, the priest and guards will feign gestures of welcome to the intruders in an attempt to put them off their guard before attacking them.
- 10 · Secret Chamber
- This chamber is the office and sleeping quarters of the priest. Along the wall nearest the temple is a wardrobe containing ceremonial robes and a weapons rack holding four derfel polearms. On the opposite wall is an oak desk and a bed. On the desk is an unfinished letter, See figure 4 below.
- 11 · Guard Alcove
- Two Orc guards maintain security for this encampment. They will ask (in Dunlendish) for the pass word. If the password “waterfall” is not given immediately, they will assume defensive potions and attempt to alert the camp.
- 12 · Barracks
- Four to six Orc warriors will be at rest in this room. Should the alarm sound or anyone other than another Orc enter the barracks, they will retrieve their weapons and move to attack without putting on armor. Orc warriors wear a mixture of armor pieces that have been scavenged here and there. These Orcs are willing to die to protect the tunnels.
- 13 · Orc Captain’s Quarters
- This room has been converted to house the Orc captain Grensch and his mate. Both will be present unless Grensch is called away by an alarm. The female will not attack unless threatened. Grensch has been charged with the defense of the tunnel passageway that connects Dunland to the Wizard’s Vale. He receives his orders directly from Saruman the White. These details cannot even be tortured out of him. He will not retreat.
Figure 4 — Unfinished Letter
I am writing to let you know that we will be sending a gift to your master. In the hope that you will not waste time molesting my minions, I am sending you the new password. Change it from “waterfall” to “stairway”.
The Temple of Justice
The Temple lies roughly twenty leagues northeast of the village. The above ground structure of the Temple has four levels, each with walkways exposed to the outside. During the gathering of the Iontis clans, the first two levels will be guarded by forty men each (ten to a side). The third level will have twenty guards (five to a side) and the fourth will have a priest and ten more guards. If characters had the foresight to keep some of the robes and derfels from the Highway Caves, they might be able to enter the Temple.
Figure 7 – The Ceremonial Chambers
The Temple Interior
- A · Main Temple Chamber
- This is the main room for holding public ceremonies and temple functions. The room is flanked on both sides by eight large pillars made of black marble. At its far end is a raised dais with a throne and podium, also of black marble.
- B · Guard Post
- Two temple guards will always be standing guard at these locations.
- C · Priests’quarters
- These fairly normal living quarters for the priests of the temple.
- D · Barracks
- This living area is designed to accommodate as many as a hundred temple guards.
- E · Brass Bound Doors
- These lead to the private ceremony chambers.
The Ceremonial Chambers
- A · Brass Bound Doors
- These massive doors lead to the Temple interior.
- B · Ceremonial Glade
- This underground chamber is actually an amazingly lush glade that has been turned into a huge ceremonial chamber. In the center of the glade is a dais upon which lies a huge violet marble table encrusted with strange engravings and runes which glow faintly blue. At the first sign of any intrusion or conflict, Saruman will depart the Temple of Justice by way of a teleportation spell. There should be no way for any character to engage him in combat.
- C · Silver Doors
- Two temple guards stand watch here. None save Maben may pass them freely.
- D · Foyer
- (Same as C above).
- E · Treasury
- This holds the main treasure hoard of the temple, consisting of: 1) 1,200 coins of gold, 2) 3,244 coins of silver, 3) 128 coins of mithril, 4) 200 bars of gold, 5) 975 bars of silver, 6) 2 bars of mithril, 7) 23,543 silvers worth of gems, jewels, and other items of worth.
- F · Armory
- This is the main weapon and armor storage area for the temple. It contains: 1) 200 suits of full chainmail armor, 2) 200 Derfels, 3) 30 Scimitars, 4) 100 Daggers, 5) 20 enchanted priest’s robes.
- G · Maben’s Bedchamber
- It is within this lavishly decorated room that Maben resides. Maben wears an enchanted robe made of woven silver and trimmed in violet. Maben is not foolish enough to fight to the death, instead he will escape using a special talisman located in his study (H). If he must use this means of escape, he must abandon all that he is wearing save his loincloth.
- H · Maben’s Sorcery Chamber
- Here the high priest practices his dark arts.
Destroying the Temple Altar
If the characters have possession of the Daggers of lam Irrath and Ian Imran, they may attempt to use them to undo the sorcery that binds the foundation of Maben’s temple. If the blade of Ian Imran is used to scratch a line through the center of a dark altar, a glowing sword will float in the air above the altar and slice along the scratched line, cleanly cutting it in two. This will destroy the aura of the altar as well as the structure bound up with it. Edwin Stewart may know of this procedure, or perhaps the characters may force the information out of the priest from the Highway Caves.
If they succeed in rendering the Temple inoperative, the characters may accompany Edwin Stewart in an effort to persuade the Daen Coentis clans to desist from joining the forces of Isengard against Rohan. This will no doubt be a difficult task, given the relations between Dunland and Rohan. Arguments should rest on the fact that the Daen Iontis are planning this attack for reasons that have nothing to do with Dunland’s quarrel with the Rohirrim. Characters might also emphasize the Temple’s affiliation with Orcs and friends of Orcs.
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