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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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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