17 · Beast's blackmail

This is by far the har­dest mis­sion the PCs have been asked to under­take in the area of Buhr Thu­ra­sig. Accom­pli­shing this task requires a group of high-level, well-sea­so­ned, expe­rien­ced adven­tu­rers ; explo­rers and war­riors with the cou­rage, abi­lity, and confi­dence to face some of the worst dan­gers the Grey Moun­tains hold : Trolls, Orcs, a power­ful Mage, and an irri­ta­ted Fell Beast. To ful­fill their goal on this job they will need every bit of resour­ce­ful­ness they’ve deve­lo­ped and lear­ned in their pre­vious encoun­ters.

17.1 Mage’s tribute

The citi­zens of Buhr Thu­ra­sig paid little atten­tion when rumors first rea­ched them that the ancient Tower of the Wolf-friend (about twenty-five miles nor­theast of the town) was again occu­pied. For long years it had been stan­ding empty, save for the wolves that were said to roam its halls.

The Mage who took up resi­dence there was per­io­di­cally seen in the town. pur­cha­sing sup­plies or arran­ging for deli­ve­ries, but he made no attempt to esta­blish friendly rela­tions with the local resi­dents. It was over a year after he first appea­red before the town folk finally lear­ned his name : Haeldwyn.

Haeldwyn made it clear that he had no desire to socia­lize with his neigh­bors, and the towns” people conse­quently igno­red him and left him alone, except when he wished to arrange a busi­ness deal. Within a short time after they lear­ned the Mage’s iden­tity a new pro­blem sur­fa­ced, a dis­trac­tion of suf­fi­cient magni­tude to chase all thoughts of their unso­ciable neigh­bor from their minds.

The Fell Beast that began to over­fly the town was huge, at least forty feet long and with a wing­span of nearly sixty feet. The first two times he was seen he only cir­cled over the town once or twice before disap­pea­ring into the nor­theast again. The third time he landed near an out­lying hold and level­led a languz with the bea­ting of its wings (or so it was said).

Fol­lo­wing that inci­dent, Haeldwyn sent a mes­sage to the town, war­ning that he was in control of the Fell Beast, and that he expec­ted regu­lar offe­rings of cer­tain food­stuffs, money, ani­mals. and other sup­plies in return for kee­ping the beast from inflic­ting fur­ther damage or casual­ties on the town.

Natu­rally the people of Buhr Thu­ra­sig belie­ved that the surly Mage was just trying to take advan­tage of the cir­cum­stances for his own bene­fit and refu­sed to meet his demands. He fol­lo­wed up with a second war­ning and a sta­te­ment of when and where the beast would next appear should the town per­sist in their rejec­tion. The town did, and the Fell Beast arri­ved as Haeldwyn pre­dic­ted. The crea­ture had only to kill a few frigh­te­ned herd ani­mals before the folk of Buhr Thu­ra­sig were convin­ced, and pro­du­ced the requi­red pay­ments.

In the years since, the tri­bute has conti­nued on a regu­lar basis. The resi­dents fier­cely resent the bla­ck­mail. but feel them­selves hel­pless to do any­thing about it. The Mage is care­ful to send the beast flying over the town per­io­di­cally as a remin­der of what might happen should they decide to rebel or resist.

Seve­ral years ago a small com­pany of the City Guards set out to take on the mis­sion of convin­cing the Mage to dis­con­ti­nue the bla­ck­mail or, fai­ling in that, to defeat and des­troy him. None of the group, which inclu­ded three men and two women, retur­ned or has been heard from since.

Although the amount deman­ded by the Mage wasn’t large or bur­den­some at the begin­ning, he has been stea­dily increa­sing the requests over the years. At this point, the level of extor­tion has grown to where it imposes a serious hard­ship on the town. With no end in sight, and a nearly rui­nous bla­ck­mail han­ging over them, the resi­dents of Buhr Thu­ra­sig are extre­mely wor­ried and approa­ching des­pe­ra­tion. They feel that some­thing needs to be done about this threat, and soon.

17.2 The NPCs

In this adven­ture, as in seve­ral pre­vious ones, the towns­people of Buhr Thu­ra­sig may be of some help or assis­tance, par­ti­cu­larly in the matter of a guide. It would help to review the rele­vant cha­rac­ters, des­cri­bed in sec­tion 14.2.


This Half-Elf Bard has been resi­ding in the town for some years, though no one is quite sure why he chooses to stay, since he has no rela­tives or other obvious ties with the area. It appears that he simply likes the place and appre­ciates the locals as a recep­tive audience for his bawdy songs and end­less, undis­tin­gui­shed poems. He has been in the region long enough to have won the basic trust of most of the people ; the­re­fore, he knows about the Fell Beast and the Mage’s extor­tion.

What most of the popu­lace doesn’t know is that it was the beast, and rumors of the story sur­roun­ding it, that brought him to the area. His family has a long his­tory of fas­ci­na­tion with Fell Beasts and has stu­died them exten­si­vely. Adu­na­var sus­pects that the Mage is using an object that was crea­ted by one of his own for­bears to exert control over the beast. Adu­na­var has come, hoping that some­day he might have the chance to inves­ti­gate that pos­si­bi­lity fur­ther. He missed the ear­lier party, or he would pro­ba­bly have accom­pa­nied them (almost cer­tainly to his own doom). If he believes this group has a rea­so­na­bly good chance of accom­pli­shing the mis­sion Adu­na­var will sign on to accom­pany them. He isn’t going to be much help as a guide, since he isn’t par­ti­cu­larly fami­liar with the region, but he can wield a bow with some skill and is a fair figh­ter.

Adu­na­var is tall (6′3″) with blond hair, blue-green eyes, and pale skin. He appears somew­hat less reser­ved and conscious of his dignity than most Elves. Brown leg­gings and a brown tunic form the basis of his war­drobe ; the tunic may be worn over a white or green shirt, depen­ding on his mood. A knife occu­pies a sheath atta­ched to his belt and when tra­vel­ling he car­ries a long bow. Adu­na­var is basi­cally an agreeable and friendly com­pa­nion, except for his insis­tence on spou­ting (or even ad-lib­bing) long snatches of bad poetry.

Rilge-Cal, Elgert, and Beldor

The three Hill-Trolls — Rilge-Cal, an adult male, Elgert, an adult female, and Beldor, an ado­les­cent male — have their home in a small cave not far from the path that leads to the Tower of the Wolf-friend. They have been there since long before the Mage showed up, and at first they were annoyed by his arri­val. But when he began to draw groups of Orcs to the area to serve him, and then arran­ged for regu­lar deli­ve­ries of sup­plies from the town, they were deligh­ted. The hun­ting became much easier, and they qui­ckly dis­co­ve­red that the Mage didn’t seem to mind the loss of an occa­sio­nal Orc, pack animal, or even a hog or cow from the town, so long as he wasn’t incon­ve­nien­ced by the raids.

In fact the living has become so easy that the Trolls are gro­wing fat and lazy. They weren’t very bright to begin with and what brains they have are begin­ning to atro­phy through lack of use. Elgert retains enough sense to get in out of the sun­shine, but the others are incli­ned to push their luck. Their huge size, power, and sheer animal fero­city still make them dan­ge­rous, howe­ver, espe­cially if it’s been a while since the last food deli­very and the Orcs have been par­ti­cu­larly care­ful of late.


The Cap­tain of the Mage’s Orcish guards is a large, ugly fellow who achie­ved his posi­tion by virtue of his size, strength, ruth­less­ness, and a slight advan­tage in brains over most of his fellow Orcs. He’s a sti­ck­ler for dis­ci­pline and obe­dience ; even a hint of insu­bor­di­na­tion or ques­tio­ning will result in sum­mary exe­cu­tion of the guilty party. A + 10 battle-axe and +5 dagger assist him in kee­ping order in the ranks.

Aside from the usual Orcish pri­ckly dis­po­si­tion, Griz­bat has ano­ther reason for his ruth­less insis­tence on atten­tion to duty and order. The one person Griz­bat truly fears is the Mage. Haeldwyn ; the Orc Cap­tain unders­tands very well that he holds his posi­tion by the Mage’s grace and that fai­lure will earn him the same fate that befell his pre­de­ces­sor — he’ll become Fell Beast food.

To give him his due, Griz­bat is an able, if harsh, cap­tain. He’s held the posi­tion for many years now, staved off a couple of chal­lenges from others in the band who consi­de­red them­selves better qua­li­fied for the job, and most of all, he engi­nee­red the defeat of the party of Guards the town had sent against them. Haeldwyn has a great deal of trust in Grizbat’s effi­ciency.


This huge (5′6″, 240 lbs.) Orc offi­cially func­tions as Grizbat’s body­guard, and unof­fi­cially as his « enfor­cer ». Shar­zig isn’t very bright and knows it, but he enjoys the power and autho­rity he wields in the com­pany by virtue of Grizbat’s reliance on him. He is fana­ti­cally loyal to Griz­bat, reco­gni­zing that it is due to the captain’s influence that he holds his pres­ti­gious posi­tion, and he would do any­thing, inclu­ding figh­ting to the death. for him. Although not very agile or adept. his size and strength more than com­pen­sate, and his +10 sci­mi­tar can do a lot of damage when swung by his mas­sive arms.


Ulgin is Grizbat’s lieu­te­nant and second in com­mand. Though he isn’t as big as the Orc Cap­tain, he’s nearly his equal in cun­ning and ruth­less­ness ; Ulgin believes he would make just as good a cap­tain for the band, and per­haps better, but he’s clever enough to keep those sen­ti­ments to him­self. Never­the­less, he’s kee­ping his eyes open and pre­pa­ring for the right oppor­tu­nity. If Griz­bat were to make a serious mis­take and fail Haeldwyn, it wouldn’t break Ulgin’s heart ; he will be ready to step into the breech and take charge of things.

Griz­bat sus­pects Ulgin’s inten­tions and doesn’t trust him, but he also reco­gnizes the lieutenant’s abi­lity to get things done in an effi­cient and orderly way. so he tole­rates and conti­nues to use him. The Orc Cap­tain wouldn’t hesi­tate to kill or throw res­pon­si­bi­lity for some miss­tep upon Ulgin should he ever make an open move against him.

Ulgin car­ries a +5 broad sword and is also a very adept bowman ; his quiver contains four­teen arrows, whose tips have been dipped in a level 2 poison which causes death in 6 rounds.


Haeldwyn’s mother was of the Eothraim, the North­man horse-lords, but his father was a stran­ger to the area, a Dun­len­ding. Haeldwyn’s father never fit in par­ti­cu­larly well in the area where he’d taken up resi­dence, and many of the local resi­dents sus­pec­ted he was spy or an agent of the Necro­man­cer. After a few years his father finally deci­ded he could no longer tole­rate being an out­cast among his wife’s people and packed up to leave.

Haeldwyn’s mother had by then dis­co­ve­red that mar­rying with him had been a mis­take, and she refu­sed to accom­pany him when he left, kee­ping their small son with her as well. The boy was devas­ta­ted by his father’s depar­ture and never for­gave his mother for what he consi­de­red her role in sepa­ra­ting them. He also har­bo­red a deep resent­ment against the Eothraim for dri­ving his father away.


Until he was six­teen he conti­nued to live among the Eothraim, nur­sing his smol­de­ring resent­ment, and making little attempt to learn the skills they consi­de­red impor­tant, par­ti­cu­larly the warrior’s arts. Worse yet, he wasn’t good at riding and pos­ses­sed none of the ins­tinc­tive empa­thy with horses cha­rac­te­ris­tic of his mother’s people.

Haeldwyn mana­ged to find ano­ther outlet for his anger and resent­ment. He was a bright, clever boy who lear­ned to read at an early age. Somew­hat to his mother’s dismay, Haeldwyn began to thirst for books and lear­ning, par­ti­cu­larly any­thing and eve­ry­thing he could dis­co­ver about the arcane arts. He col­lec­ted every scrap of know­ledge avai­lable in the area and, before he was really ready and without much formal gui­dance, began to expe­riment with magic and spell-cas­ting.

At the age of six­teen he finally left his mother to seek out the gui­dance of a Mage whose repu­ta­tion had spread that far. It took some time for the boy to locate the person he sought and in the pro­cess he lear­ned a good bit about sur­vi­ving in a hos­tile and dif­fi­cult world, but Haeldwyn did get to his des­ti­na­tion and placed him­self under the tute­lage of the old man. Two years later, he had absor­bed eve­ry­thing the elderly Mage could teach him, and lear­ned a few things that were not consi­de­red part of the normal trai­ning. Haeldwyn began to find that there were inherent limits to what he could expect to achieve, and cha­rac­te­ris­ti­cally, he resen­ted it and blamed eve­ryone else, par­ti­cu­larly his master, for that irri­ta­ting rea­lity. The young man left the old Mage after stea­ling a couple of books he thought might be useful and embar­ked on a life-long search for ways, both legi­ti­mate and other­wise, to extend his know­ledge and abi­lity.

His search took him to seve­ral odd cor­ners of Middle-earth. He kept apart, as much as pos­sible, from the com­pany of other people, pre­fer­ring to spend his time with his books and expe­ri­ments. Though he wasn’t phy­si­cally adept at much else, he did manage to become an effec­tive thief, skills he impro­ved and enhan­ced through his ever-increa­sing know­ledge of spells and the use of magic. That abi­lity allo­wed him to steal, not just the books, scrolls, and other arcane objects he desi­red, but enough money to sup­port him­self in a plea­sant and com­for­table style.

Even­tually he drif­ted north and heard about the deser­ted Tower of the Wolf-friend. The tower’s origin was shrou­ded in mys­tery, but its most recent inha­bi­tant, who’d died some fifty years before, had been a Mage with a par­ti­cu­lar affi­nity for the wolves that roamed in packs throu­ghout the sou­thern moun­tain area. The loca­tion soun­ded like a per­fect place for a Mage to settle, and so he made his way into the moun­tains and took pos­ses­sion of the for­tress.

From this head­quar­ters he made occa­sio­nal forays, to the town of Buhr Thu­ra­sig for sup­plies, and fur­ther afield to col­lect more books and magi­cal items. In the course of one of these jour­neys he found an object that proved inva­luable in fur­the­ring his desire for both pri­vacy and com­fort.

The thing he found allo­wed him to cap­ture and control one of the many Fell Beasts that inha­bit the Grey Moun­tain area. Through his influence over the beast he uses it to ter­ro­rize and bla­ck­mail his neigh­bors into pro­vi­ding for his needs and desires, while insu­ring his per­so­nal secu­rity.

Haeldwyn is a man of middle-age, blond like his Eothraim mother, but with his father’s dark eyes. He’s fairly tall, but very thin, with sharp angu­lar bones and a wide mouth that can frown with impres­sive seve­rity. He car­ries a sword which can deli­ver up to 10 Cold criticals/​day of a seve­rity equal to any other deli­ve­red in melee.

17.3 The layouts

The road to Haeldwyn’s Tower

1 · The Road
« Road » is some­thing of a mis­no­mer ; the track is more of a wide foot­path which fol­lows the course of the Gil­drin Stream nor­theast from Buhr Thu­ra­sig and conti­nues to mean­der along the valley for the first twenty miles or so of the trip. The path is wide enough in most places to allow 2 and some­times 3 per­sons to go abreast, but occa­sio­nally becomes so narrow that pas­sers are forced to conti­nue in single file. For­tu­na­tely, the road is slightly higher than the stream bed itself, and the sur­face is mostly even and firm. Only after a heavy rain or sudden thaw does the water rise high enough to make the pas­sage hazar­dous. It is pre­su­med that this jour­ney is being under­ta­ken some­time bet­ween late spring and early autumn, as snow and ice can make the jour­ney dif­fi­cult to the point of impos­si­bi­lity.
2 · Troll’s Cave
Rilge-Cal, Elgert, and Beldor have set up a cozy (by Troll stan­dards) home in a cave here. From the road it is a light (+ 10) task to see that a series of rising ridges of rock might form a sort of crude stair­case. At the top of these steps a stone plat­form forms a front porch for a cave entrance directly ahead, facing toward the road. It is very hard (-20) to see that a small stream of smoke rises from an ope­ning in the rock above the cave entrance. Bones scat­te­red care­lessly around the area should serve war­ning to anyone approa­ching the cave’s entrance that they might find them­selves in the soup (lite­rally rather than figu­ra­ti­vely) if they aren’t care­ful. During the day­light hours the odds are 90% that each of the Trolls is home (roll sepa­ra­tely for each indi­vi­dual); at night the odds arc 50% for one and 20% for each of the other two.
A crude trap guards the door. Ente­ring the cave from broad day­light, it is extre­mely hard (-30) to see that a large rock stretches for 3 feet across the floor twenty inches inside the entrance. No one is likely to be hurt trip­ping over the rock itself, but the noise should be suf­fi­cient to alert any slee­ping Trolls within.
To the left beyond the rock a cooking fire smol­ders low most of the time. A series of pots and other rough imple­ments line the floor near the fire. None of the Trolls are fas­ti­dious about hou­se­kee­ping ; more bones and other uni­den­ti­fiable sub­stances and objects litter the floor. It is sheer folly (-50) to see that a large rock in the corner guards a hol­lo­wed-out ope­ning. This is the Troll’s trea­sure hoard : a star-shaped gold brooch set with sap­phires, worth about 20 gold pieces ; a tiara of badly cor­ro­ded silver which is basi­cally worth­less ; an unset ruby about the size of a fin­ger­nail, worth about 25 gold pieces ; (3) +5 arrows ; forty copper pieces and 6 silver.
3 · A wide flat area
Is over­grown with rho­do­den­dron and laurel bushes. It is extre­mely hard (-30) to see that among those shrubs there is a small stand of Mirenna, bea­ring enough ber­ries for about 3 hea­ling doses.
4 · Rock slide area
The wall of rock to the left of the road is very steep and uns­table. Large rocks and boul­ders litter the road for a dis­tance of one hun­dred feet. The com­pany will need to pro­ceed quietly and care­fully here as any loud noise or extra vibra­tion might dis­lodge more loose rocks.
5 · Orc Band Cave
It is sheer folly (-55) to see that there is an ope­ning in the cliff­side about three hun­dred feet to the left of the road. This cave is the head­quar­ters of the Orc band which pro­vides the troops that guards Haeldwyn’s for­tress. Once inside it is rou­tine (+30) to see that the cave holds mostly female, ado­les­cent or imma­ture Orcs. A few ado­les­cents might try to attack the party in defense of their band. but no serious oppo­si­tion is likely to be moun­ted ; nor is there any­thing of much worth hidden here.
6 · Tower of the Wolf-friend
(Haeldwyn’s for­tress) Sec 17.32 below.
7 · Fell Beast Cave
A dif­fi­cult, win­ding trail about a mile long and rising at an angle of thirty to thirty-five degrees leads to the main entrance to the Fell Beast’s lair. It is absurd (-70) to see that an even nar­ro­wer and stee­per path winds around the side of a rock out­crop­ping to ano­ther entrance, unless one remem­bers that beast’s caves usually have a back door. If one tries to look for the path it is extre­mely hard (-35) to find.

Tower of the Wolf-Friend

Haeldwyn’s for­tress home actually consists of three stone towers of gra­dua­ted height rising above a single story edi­fice built against the wall of a ver­ti­cal cliff. The approach to the buil­ding is a well-worn, steep. but not dif­fi­cult path lea­ding up from the road to the main gate.

A secon­dary door leads into the buil­ding on the ground level bet­ween the curves of the second and third towers. This entrance cannot be seen from the road and is still very hard (-20) to notice when one makes a cir­cuit of the buil­ding on foot. The door is camou­fla­ged to look like the stone of the rest of the sur­face, and is built to close very flush with the walls, allo­wing only a barely noti­ceable out­line of a rec­tangle to betray its pre­sence. There is no knob or handle but none is needed ; once unlo­cked, the mas­sive panel swings inward with a stiff push. The lock is extre­mely hard (-30) to pick, but gai­ning entrance this way pre­sents a dif­ferent set of hazards (see #6 below).

1 · Main Gate to Haeldwyn’s for­tress
The pri­mary entrance and exit is formed by a small cylin­dri­cal tower with a heavy wooden gate set into the wall facing out­wards. Two Orcs are always on duty to work the gate and guard the entrance. Nothing other than rou­tine comings and goings has hap­pe­ned here for a long time and the guards have become com­placent and sloppy about che­cking on the iden­ti­ties of those reques­ting admit­tance.
2 · Recep­tion Area
All inco­ming par­ties arc stop­ped here, where they are che­cked out, then allo­wed to unload the goods brought. or deli­ver mes­sages. Most visi­tors never pro­ceed beyond this point. All public busi­ness is conclu­ded here. Two more Orcs stand guard duty here.
3 · Inter­ro­ga­tion Rooms
Two small rooms which can be used to deli­ver secret mes­sages, conduct pri­vate busi­ness, or ques­tion anyone whose pre­sence raises doubts or sus­pi­cion.
4 · Orcs” Common Area
This is the com­bi­na­tion lounge, recrea­tion area, kit­chen, and dining area for the mem­bers of Haeldwyn’s Orcish guards. The cooking area, inclu­ding an immense fire­place, is at the end of the room that butts up against the cliff wall. From the center of the room to about 5 feet from the wall, a group of six long tables with rough wood chairs pro­vides the eating area. There are always from 3 to 8 Ores in this area, with that number rising to around 15 at meal times.
5 · Armory
This is the sto­rage area for the Orcs” battle gear : armor, inclu­ding both chain and plate mail, and wea­pons. A series of cabi­nets holds lea­ther vests, leg­gings, belts, and boots, while hooks on the wall sup­port an assort­ment of swords, dagger, bows, stars, whips. maces, battle-axes, pikes, and jave­lins. All are heavy and of fair to slightly better than ave­rage work­man­ship. The door sepa­ra­ting this area from the main room is gene­rally kept locked (very hard, –20, to pick). Stairs here lead up to the second level of the middle tower.
6 · Secon­dary Entrance
This door has been unused for so long most of the Orcs have for­got­ten its exis­tence, and if remin­ded would pro­ba­bly say that it no longer func­tions. They are wrong about that — the door can still be opened, though it is heavy and swings with great dif­fi­culty. The hinges are rusty and cor­ro­ded with disuse and it would be nearly impos­sible to slip in this way without attrac­ting a lot of atten­tion.
7 · Orcs” Slee­ping Quar­ters
A series of pal­lets (about 20 in all) line the floor, sepa­ra­ted by locked cabi­nets. The locks on the cabi­nets are hard (-10) to pick, but the contents aren’t worth the effort. The cabi­nets contain only extra clothes or trin­kets and tro­phies of value or use only to their owner.
8 · Mage’s recep­tion area
The door into this area, which is the first level of the third, and tal­lest tower, is kept locked at all times (sheer folly, –50, to pick), and only Haeldwyn him­self has a key. A cord out­side the door is atta­ched to a bell which allows the Orcs to summon the Mage should his atten­tion or pre­sence be requi­red. A cir­cu­lar stair­case leads to the upper levels of the tower and a series of cabi­nets on the wall hold wea­pons, although the only thing of any inter­est or value is a sack of coins the Mage keeps handy here for paying the Ores or a sup­plier. The bag contains 4 gold pieces, 12 silver, and 40 copper.
9 · Roof of the main part of the buil­ding
This area isn’t quite flat — it tilts at a slight angle from the center down to the sides to allow snow and rain to run off through drain holes built into the para­pet.
10 · Para­pets
The wall is built about three feet above the roof level and is two feet wide. Doors from each of the towers give access to the para­pet and two Orcs usually stand guard here on the walls, one bet­ween the first tower and the roof of the entrance tower (# I ), and the second bet­ween the first and second towers. From this height they have a fine view of the moun­tain­side and valley for a dis­tance of nearly five miles on a clear day.
11 · Cells for hol­ding pri­so­ners
Solid stone walls with doors formed of a series of ver­ti­cal bars sepa­rate the cells from each other and the aisles to the doors and stairs. These are all empty. Keys to the cells hang on a hook near the lan­ding of the stairs.
12 · More cells
This area is laid out much like the level below, with keys to the cells han­ging near the stairs. One of these cells is occu­pied by a very thin, ema­cia­ted man of inde­ter­mi­nate age, whose clothes are still barely iden­ti­fiable as those worn by the city guards of Buhr Thu­ra­sig. Eloric is conscious, though he will be nearly over­come with asto­nish­ment should someone other than the Ore guards or the Mage show up in the tower. On ques­tio­ning he will admit to being the last sur­vi­ving member of the com­pany of Guards which set out to remove the Mage some years ago. Up until a year ago he had a com­pa­nion in the tower, but she finally suc­cum­bed to star­va­tion and the brutal treat­ment. Eloric will gladly accom­pany the party once he is freed, though he will be too weak to offer much help in a fight. His know­ledge of the for­tress and the posi­tio­ning of the guards, glea­ned from Orc conver­sa­tions he’s ove­rheard. could be useful.
13 · Sto­rage area
Bar­rels lining the walls contain various grains, ales, and dried fruit, while smal­ler contai­ners in cabi­nets hold spices, oil, extra dishes, and other simi­lar sup­plies.
14 · Orc Captain’s Quar­ters
Grizbat’s notions of hou­se­kee­ping don’t extend to han­ging up his clothes or put­ting away his belon­gings. Various bits of lea­ther appa­rel arc strewn on the floor and over the mat that serves as his bed. Pieces of paper and a few dishes, some still contai­ning the remains of food, also litter the area. The single drawer of the desk contains a lot of use­less papers, a small +5 thro­wing knife, and 6 silver pieces. The cabi­net hol­ding his per­so­nal items is stan­ding open and appears to contain nothing of inter­est.
15 · Mage’s Sit­ting Area and Guest Quar­ters
Seve­ral com­for­table chairs and cushions are scat­te­red around the cham­ber. One quar­ter of the room is cur­tai­ned off ; that sec­tion contains a com­for­table bed and cabi­net to accom­mo­date quests. Since Haeldwyn took up resi­dence there have been no visi­tors and this room is rarely used.
16 · Secret Door
The door from the sec­tion of Mage’s tower at #15 out to the para­pet which runs back into the cliff­side isn’t locked but it is hidden behind a heavy. dark, ugly tapes­try. It is extre­mely hard (-30) to see that there is ano­ther door at the far end of the para­pet which appears to lead right into the cliff­side itself. That door is locked (sheer folly, –50, to pick), and the only key hangs on Haeldwyn’s belt.
The door leads to caverns under the Tower of the Wolf-friend (see sec­tion 17.33 below).
17 · Mage’s library and work room
Closed and locked cabi­nets line most of the walls of this cir­cu­lar cham­ber. The locks cannot be picked as they’ve been embed­ded with a spell that responds only to a par­ti­cu­lar word spoken by the Mage him­self as long as he is alive. If Haeldwyn is aware that his pre­mises have been brea­ched (80% chance if any Ores have been enga­ged. 20% other­wise), then one small cabi­net will be stan­ding open and conspi­cuously empty.
Two long trestle tables consume much of the floor space ; bot­tles, jars, a lamp, contai­ners of herbs (unla­be­led or unre­co­gni­zable), bits of paper, tongs, spoons, and odd pieces of glass cover the tables. A lea­ther-bound book sits open on one table, but it is writ­ten in a lan­guage almost no one now living can iden­tify and read. A pecu­liar odor, some­thing bet­ween cru­shed mint and roas­ted hair, per­meates the room.
18 · Mage’s Slee­ping Quar­ters
Haeldwyn enjoys his crea­ture com­forts and the things his ill-gotten wealth has been able to buy. The bed is large and soft, the bed­clothes are satin, and the canopy is hung with a rich bro­ca­ded fabric. A fire­place keeps the room warm year round and a large arm­chair is well-stuf­fed and adjusts to the owner’s shape.
A war­drobe in the corner holds seve­ral changes of clothes, inclu­ding the usual long, flo­wing robes, a couple of sets of tunics and leg­gings, a heavy wool cloak, and a ligh­ter one. Stan­ding in the corner of the war­drobe are two staves ; one is plain carved wood, the other is simi­lar but for the gold knob at the end. This is embed­ded with a Light­ning Bolt which can be used every four rounds up to 5 times/​day. A chest of dra­wers holds seve­ral sets of more inti­mate clo­thing, a comb, hair­brush. and mirror.

Caverns under the Tower of the Wolf-Friend

1 · Entrance through the door at #16 of 17.32
The tunnel is just 6 feet high here and only about three feet wide, so the pas­sage is tight.
2 · A series of stone steps
Carved out of the slo­ping floor of the tunnel lead down­ward. It is Extre­mely Hard (-30) to see that the fifth step from the top is trap­ped, and Very Hard (-20) to disarm. Any weight grea­ter than forty pounds placed on this step will trip a mecha­nism that will release a shower of boul­ders from the cei­ling to drop on anyone on the steps. Any cha­rac­ter will be hit by 1–5 of these boul­ders, and each attacks as a +60 Large Crush attack.
3 · Wooden stairs
This a series of forty extre­mely steep wooden steps going down­ward. Each step is about a foot wide and each riser is eight inches high.
4 · Wood Plat­form
Built on a com­pli­ca­ted set of wooden sup­ports, the plat­form is can­ti­le­ve­red out over a 20 foot ver­ti­cal drop, some­thing like a diving board. There is no appa­rent way to get down from the plat­form to the bottom of the drop below. The plat­form appears to be well ancho­red in the wall, but there is no rope, ladder, or stair­way, and no way down other than a per­ma­nent rune of levi­ta­tion marked on the stone.
5 · Ano­ther rune graces the wall near the bottom of the drop
The tunnel levels out here and conti­nues for some thirty feet, wide enough for two people to walk abreast and high enough to allow eve­ryone to stand without dis­com­fort.
6 · Trap
It is extre­mely hard (-35) to see that at this spot, where the tunnel nar­rows, there are seve­ral sen­sors built into the wall to detect vibra­tion and move­ments other than air in the pas­sage. It is absurd (-65) to disarm the six gas jets (3 on each side of the tunnel, at heights of I foot, 3 feet, and 5 feet, which will ignite and spew streams of flame across the pas­sage as the unfor­tu­nate passer enters this nar­ro­wer part of the tunnel. The jets shut them­selves off after 3 seconds, but can be reac­ti­va­ted in a frac­tion of a second should fur­ther motion be detec­ted, and they have fuel enough to burn for three hours.
7 · Cre­vices
This is a natu­ral trap. Until one is within two feet of them, it is very hard (-20) to see that there are a series of three deep cre­vices zig-zag­ging across the tunnel at various angles. The cre­vices are very deep (over fifty feet). The first is only two feet wide, the second not quite three, and the third over four feet across.
8 · Rock fall
A pile of loose rocks from an old cave-in litter the ground for seve­ral feet of the tunnel. It isn’t hard to get over and across these rocks, but it is almost impos­sible to do so silently.
9 · Mage’s retreat
In this large under­ground cavern, Haeldwyn has pre­pa­red a stra­te­gic retreat where he can sur­vive and out­last even a pro­lon­ged siege. The cavern holds a table and a recli­ning chair, but is other­wise cram­med full of bar­rels and contai­ners of water, food. herbs and other sup­plies that might be needed for sur­vi­val over a period of time. A locked cabi­net in one corner (extre­mely hard, –35, to pick) holds a reserve supply of money (5 gold pieces, 22 silver, 140 copper), a +5 dagger, a sword with a jewe­led hilt, worth at least 20 gold pieces, I dose of Gefnul, 2 of Rewk, and 4 doses of Dar­su­rion.

Fell Beast’s cave

Igran­dril, the Fell Beast which has been cap­tu­red and enthral­led by Haeldwyn, used to have a resi­dence much fur­ther north in the Withe­red Heath. The Mage has pro­vi­ded him with a cave resi­dence near the Tower of the Wolf-friend which is rea­so­na­bly com­for­table (for a Fell Beast). Never­the­less, Igran­dril is less than thril­led with the accom­mo­da­tions, mainly because it isn’t the home” of his choice. The cave has no man-made traps (with a Fell Beast in resi­dence on the pre­mises, who needs them?), but the maze of tun­nels lea­ding from the side entrance (« back door »), is an obs­tacle in itself.

1 · Side entrance
The tunnel is broad enough for one person at a time to pass com­for­ta­bly ; two could walk abreast but it would be awk­ward. The floor is rea­so­na­bly smooth and level, but most of the tun­nels slant slightly upward from the direc­tion of this entrance.
2 · Natu­ral Well
This is nothing more than a very deep hole, unmar­ked and unguar­ded in any way. The hole is 3 feet wide at its broa­dest spot and about five feet from end to end. Water is visible about six feet below the cavern’s ground level, but it is fouled with beast waste and is the­re­fore undrin­kable.
3 · Pas­sage lea­ding upward
Tra­ve­lers can begin to get a whiff of the noxious odor indi­ca­ting the pre­sence of a Fell Beast somew­here in the vici­nity.
4 · The pas­sage
The pas­sage is twis­ting and windy, occa­sio­nally beco­ming quite narrow and dif­fi­cult to pass in places.
The odor is get­ting strong enough to be unplea­sant and uncom­for­table.
5 · Nest
About five feet before the final bend that opens into the beast’s main nes­ting cham­ber the stench becomes nearly over­po­we­ring.
6 · Fell Beast’s Den
This is a very large cham­ber (approxi­ma­tely 70” by 80” by 70” high). Igran­dril sits on a litter of bones, pelts, bits of clo­thing, lea­ther, armor, and wea­pons as well as a small trove of gold, silver, copper, pewter, and brass objects. A silver urn. of intri­cate work­man­ship, only slightly cor­ro­ded, has rolled off the pile and sits right in front of the ope­ning from the tunnel into the nest. Igran­dril gene­rally curls him­self up in here in such a way that he can keep an eye on both the main entrance to the den and the outlet from the smal­ler tunnel, whose exis­tence he is well aware of.
7 · Main entrance to the cave
This is the access used by Igran­dril him­self, a long broad pas­sage with a high roof. It is lit­te­red with beast drop­pings.

17.4 The task

This is a com­pli­ca­ted mis­sion, which involves seve­ral sepa­rate jobs be accom­pli­shed in order to com­plete. The first phase of the task involves get­ting to the Tower of the Wolf-friend, bra­ving the dan­gers of the moun­tains, inclu­ding Trolls, Orcs, and the loo­kouts from the Tower itself.

In the second phase of the ope­ra­tion the players must gain access to the Tower, past the Orc guards. Their goal is to find Haeldwyn and the object he is using to control the Fell Beast, then defeat the Mage and gain pos­ses­sion of that item.

Finally they must deal with the beast itself, either by defea­ting and killing it, or cau­sing it to take flight and be gone. In all like­li­hood the party won’t include anyone power­ful enough to use the Beast-thrall, but even if there are, there are good rea­sons to refrain.

Starting the players

If the Players have com­ple­ted one of the pre­vious adven­tures it would be quite natu­ral for them to decide to spend a little time in the town of Buhr Thu­ra­sig soa­king up the glory and admi­ra­tion their pre­vious suc­cesses have earned. While they are there they might wit­ness the Fell Beast flying ove­rhead on one of his per­io­dic warning/​reminder visits. From there it would be per­fectly natu­ral for them to ask some ques­tions about the Fell Beast and for the fed-up citi­zens to explain their plight.

Alter­na­ti­vely, the Player Cha­rac­ters might be drawn to the town after hea­ring rumors that the local popu­la­tion is having pro­blems with a Fell Beast. In this case, it might be neces­sary to have some other NPC who has heard of the group and their exploits and will recom­mend them to the town coun­cil as the people who might be able to take care of the pro­blem. The Cha­rac­ters could also take the matter on them­selves by mee­ting some poor, fed-up town busi­ness­man in the tavern and get­ting him drunk enough to spill the whole story, whe­reu­pon they could approach the coun­cil them­selves to offer their ser­vices.

In either case, the coun­cil will be able to tell them the story of the pre­vious party that went out to take on the Mage and what is known of their fate. Someone will sug­gest that as a fur­ther ship­ment of sup­plies is due to be taken to the Mage soon, the party might dis­guise them­selves as towns­people, accom­pa­nying the cara­van to deli­ver the requi­red goods.


The people of the town won’t be able to tell the Players much about what is going on in this case, beyond the bare facts that they are being bla­ck­mai­led by a Mage who is some­how in control of a Fell Beast. The Bard, Adu­na­var, can offer more infor­ma­tion. Once he finds out or begins to sus­pect that an expe­di­tion is in the offing, he will want to accom­pany the group and would pro­ba­bly be willing to trade the know­ledge he has for a place in the party. One of the things he might offer is a piece of poetry :

Neath gaseous clouds that scat­ter light,
In depths of fire, by dark of night,
Bright shards of ice form mold and guide
For molten metals that flow and glide.
The Master speaks his words of power
To shape the void and mold the hour ;
He breathes his dream o’er the swir­ling brew
And sets the spell’s heart-essence true.
A chain he weaves with mystic skill
To take in hand the Fell Beast’s will ;
That he who can the forces call
Might hold the Fell Beast’s soul in thrall.

Adu­na­var can add, by way of expla­na­tion, that an ances­tor of his, the Elven smith, Alde­rial, forged the Beast-thrall, a bronze amulet on a chain, which allo­wed one who was power­ful enough to control and use it to enslave a Fell Beast and force the crea­ture to do the Master’s will. His for­bea­rer crea­ted the object at the behest of a power­ful Mage, and a great deal of arcane know­ledge and spell-cas­ting went into its crea­tion. But once the job was done, Alde­rial had doubts about whe­ther such an item might not be too dan­ge­rous to turn loose. For one thing it offe­red great power and poten­tial for harm to the one who could wield it : and for ano­ther, the Beast-thrall ope­ra­ted partly by lin­king the souls of the master and the crea­ture ensla­ved. Adunavar’s ances­tor feared that through the connec­tion, the soul of the user might well be infec­ted and cor­rup­ted by the greed and vicious­ness of the Fell Beast’s spirit.

Ins­tead of tur­ning the Beast-thrall over to the Mage who’d com­mis­sio­ned it, Alde­rial fled with the object and hid it. The com­mis­sio­ner was one of many who pur­sued Alde­rial and sought the thing he’d crea­ted. Adu­na­var has no idea who actually found his ances­tor, but Alderial’s body turned up some years later in a ravine in the Misty Moun­tains ; the Beast-thrall had disap­pea­red.

Adu­na­var believes it likely that this is the object Haeldwyn is using to control the Fell Beast. He would like to reco­ver the amulet in order to des­troy it, which can be done only by mel­ting it in the same forge Alde­rial used to create it.


There is an abun­dance of poten­tial hazards for anyone attemp­ting this mis­sion. The moun­tains them­selves are dan­ge­rous, with steep trails, poten­tial rock falls, and a wide and wild variety of preying ani­mals.

The Trolls living near the road are more nui­sance than hazard, but even they shouldn’t be taken for gran­ted.

The Orc Guards of Haeldwyn’s for­tress com­prise a more serious threat : there are quite a few of them, they are trai­ned as vicious figh­ters, and they’re orga­ni­zed under a ruth­less but cun­ning leader. Their Cap­tain Griz­bat knows that fai­lure on his part to keep the threat away from the Mage is likely to result in his remo­val from office and life itself, the­re­fore he will throw eve­ry­thing he’s got against any intru­ders. His troops are more inti­mi­da­ted by Griz­bat than by any other poten­tial enemy and will fight to the death for him.

The Mage, Haeldwyn is not much of a figh­ter, but he is a power­ful magic-user and he won’t give up without a fero­cious struggle, using all the wea­pons he has at his dis­po­sal.

The Fell Beast may be the most chal­len­ging pro­blem. Figh­ting a Fell Beast is a serious and usually fatal under­ta­king, nearly as fool­hardy as taking on a Dragon. A clever group of players should rea­lize that the beast is pro­ba­bly unwilling to be a cap­tive of the Mage. There is a real pos­si­bi­lity that the beast would just fly off if made to rea­lize that the Mage can no longer control it.


The town coun­cil will pay the Player Cha­rac­ters hand­so­mely (20 gold pieces each), of course, for com­ple­ting this mis­sion, and they will get to keep at least some of wha­te­ver trea­sure they find in the Mage’s tower. If they kill the Fell Beast or cause him to fly off, they’ll be able to help them­selves to the rich hoard it has col­lec­ted. Even so the Players will earn a great deal of pres­tige and cachet as the people who faced down a power­ful Mage and a Fell Beast to reco­ver the Beast-thrall.

17.5 Encounters

Rilge-Cal, Elgert, Beldor

The Trolls are nei­ther par­ti­cu­larly bright nor brave. They are unli­kely to ini­tiate an attack unless they have a clear and overw­hel­ming advan­tage. More likely, they will try to hide from a party that has super­ior num­bers and strength. Howe­ver, if their home is inva­ded or endan­ge­red, they will all fight fero­ciously (if not par­ti­cu­larly intel­li­gently) and can be dan­ge­rous by virtue of their size and power.

Orc Band

The set­tle­ment of Orcs near the road to the Tower consists pri­ma­rily of female and imma­ture Orcs and will react somew­hat like the Trolls to the pre­sence of intru­ders in the area. The group will not attack under any cir­cum­stances, and will pro­ba­bly try to hide from the new­co­mers. Some of the young Orcs may attempt to defend their home, should it be inva­ded, but they are not strong enough to present much of a chal­lenge, and there’s no par­ti­cu­lar reason to fight them anyway. This band guards no trea­sure and pre­sents no overt threat to the players.


Griz­bat is a fierce figh­ter but he’s also an able cap­tain, and his first reac­tion on lear­ning of an inva­sion in the for­tress will be to make sure that the outer defenses are still manned, and then mar­shal all his other avai­lable troops to the attack. He will not join in the fight him­self unless or until it becomes abso­lu­tely neces­sary. As cap­tain, his pri­mary res­pon­si­bi­lity is arran­ging stra­tegy and co-ordi­na­tion, and he’ll concen­trate on those efforts until it’s no longer pos­sible. Should he have to join the battle, he will fight with a vigor and fero­city that will stun even the expe­rien­ced adven­tu­rers facing him, and will ins­pire his own troops to grea­ter efforts. As long as he is present and alive, Grizbat’s troops will fight to their last gasp, and the Cap­tain him­self will not give up the battle no matter how badly it seems to be going.

Sharzig, Ulgin, and other orc guards

The more Orcs the Player Cha­rac­ters can dis­pose of before the gene­ral alarm of their pre­sence is soun­ded, the better. Once the alarm has been raised, they will have only two rounds before other Orcs start joi­ning the fray. Should Griz­bat be with the Orc troops on the first level (50% chance), the Players will have two addi­tio­nal rounds before he is able to bring all the Orcs present into an orde­red attack against the new­co­mers. If the Cap­tain is in his quar­ters they will have four rounds. Once Griz­bat arrives he will make sure that all his avai­lable troops are enga­ged in the battle and that rein­for­ce­ments are brought in to help any of his Orcs who are having dif­fi­culty.

All of the Orcish Guards will fight with as much force, bra­very, and skill as they can muster, encou­ra­ged by their Cap­tain. Should Griz­bat fall, the Orcs will be somew­hat demo­ra­li­zed and a few (2 to 4) might even desert the scene. If Griz­bat is killed, Ulgin will attempt to take his place as leader (50% chance that he will be as effec­tive as Griz­bat in kee­ping all the Orcs figh­ting at peak level and effi­ciency). If Griz­bat, Ulgin, and Shar­zig all fall, there is a 50% chance, the rest of the Orcs will give up the fight and flee.


Although the Mage is an accom­pli­shed thief, he’s not much of a war­rior. He relies on the Orcish Guard around his for­tress to insure his safety. When an alarm is raised he gene­rally gathers what wea­pons he has and with­draws to his caver­nous retreat deep in the cliff behind the Tower of the Wolf-friend to wait out the crisis. It has never hap­pe­ned before, but should Haeldwyn be confron­ted directly he will fight to the last with every sor­ce­rous weapon at his dis­po­sal. For­tu­na­tely for the Player Cha­rac­ters, the Beast-thrall won’t be of much help to him in the caverns as the beast cannot get into those tight tun­nels.


Like most Fell Beasts, Igran­dril is quite power­ful, and extre­mely dan­ge­rous. He is a crea­ture of ins­tinct and would just as soon eat intru­ders as any­thing else.

The Beast-Thrall

The object known as the Beast-thrall is a round bronze amulet, about three inches in dia­me­ter, which hangs on a chain of gold-plated steel mesh. The front

of the piece shows a Fell Beast with wings uprai­sed, feet bound toge­ther, and a bridle-like cord encir­cling the muzzle. On the back of the medal is picked out a flame care­fully enclo­sed in a heavy circle of chain.

The medal­lion was forged by the Elven smith, Alde­rial, and func­tions by lin­king the mind of a strong Mage to the Fell Beast. Although the Mage’s control of the crea­ture is abso­lute, it has a range of only 100 miles. Should the beast be able to get beyond that limit the control would be broken, but if he were to come within range again he could be recap­tu­red. Only a Mage of 7th Level or higher has power enough to use the Beast-thrall, and it should be noted that the lin­king of souls the amulet per­mits has an effect on the ensla­ver as well as the ensla­ved. It will be qui­ckly noti­ceable that anyone using the amulet begins to exhi­bit an increase of the dis­gus­ting traits that mark Fell Beast : cruelty, aggres­sion, and greed.

17.6 Gamemaster’s notes

There are two aspects of this adven­ture that may require some gui­dance or hints from the Game­mas­ter. The first and sim­pler one concerns the drop in the caverns where no stairs or ladder offer a way to nego­tiate the des­cent. The Mage him­self uses the rune of levi­ta­tion. The Game­mas­ter might want to remind the Player Cha­rac­ters at the outset of the Hobbit, Sam Gamgee, and his concern with having « a bit of rope » along on his adven­ture.

Secondly, it is pos­sible that the group might have a Mage of high enough level to use the Beast-thrall, and it would cer­tainly present an easy and obvious solu­tion to the pro­blem of the Fell Beast. The Game­mas­ter may have to make it very clear that the easy way isn’t neces­sa­rily the best way. The GM should stress that using the amulet is an evil thing in and of itself (ensla­ving any crea­ture, even one as nasty as a Fell Beast, was some­thing Pro­fes­sor Tol­kien him­self frow­ned on), and it has a seriously evil effect on the one using it, as his spirit becomes infec­ted with the greed and cor­rup­tion of the beast.


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