Morbus 2 – Rescuing the Orc Princess

It’s time for the second adventure episode of my D&D 4th Edition game, Morbus. In this episode, the party’s travels through the forest are interrupted by a plea from an orc chieftain to rescue his daughter from a group of bandits!

This adventure is designed for four 2nd-level characters, and should provide them with half of a level’s experience, or take them to third level if you double experience as I do. Note that because I double experience, this adventure contains a full level’s worth of treasure. GMs using this adventure will want to adjust accordingly. The full adventure is after the break.

One night, while traveling through a forest, the party is approached in the middle of the night by an Orc Chieftain, Hrushkar Devileye, and a band of 4 Orc Berserkers and 4 Orc Skirmishers. It is immediately obvious that the group is much, much stronger than the party. They try to sneak up on the party with a total Stealth modifier of +6.

Whether the orcs succeed at stealth or not, Devileye steps forward and introduces himself in Common. He informs the party — who should all be awake after his loud introduction — that they are in the territory of the Fleshripper tribe, and demands to know why they are there.

Encounter A – Negotiation Under Duress

Skill Challenge Level 2, complexity 3 (requires 8 successes before 3 failures); 350xp total

Follow encounter rules for “The Negotiation” on page 76 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Use an Easy DC of 5, a Medium DC of 10, and a Hard DC of 15. Telling the truth to Devileye about the party’s reasons for being in the forest gives one automatic success in this challenge.

Over the course of the encounter, the players will discover that:

  • The Fleshripper tribe guards their territory fiercely.
  • Devileye demands compensation for passing through his land.
  • The tribe values deeds more than gold.

Additionally, a successful Insight check as part of the challenge also reveals that something else is troubling Devileye; he looks tired, as if he has been losing sleep.

Regardless of the challenge’s outcome, Devileye explains his situation. During a hunting expedition, a group of cowardly bandits ambushed a small group of orcs that included Sabletooth, the princess of the Fleshripper tribe and Devileye’s daughter. They are holding her captive in their makeshift fort, really just a dirty cave, just outside the tribe’s lands to the south. They’ve demanded a ransom of 1000 gold, which Devileye can’t pay, and have threatened to kill her if they see any orc except him, naked, bearing the ransom. He needs a group of non-orcs to storm their base and rescue his daughter.

If the challenge ends in success, Devileye promises the party safe passage, protection for their journey, and his Belt of Vigor (a chain metal belt that “helps make me invincible”) if they rescue his daughter. If it ends in failure, Devileye demands that the party rescue his daughter and give him 100 gold for passage through his lands. The lack of escort means that the party will experience encounter G.

If the party attacks the orcs at any point, the orcs fight to subdue (knocking the PCs unconscious when they reach 0 hit points), and wait for the party to wake up before offering the deal again at weaponpoint (without the reward, if previously offered).

The bandits’ base is a cave nearby, and Devileye offers to show the way in the morning. When he does, he leads the party through the forest south to a shallow cliff, and points west along the base of the cliff, saying there is a cave in the cliff where the bandits are holed up. He says he will wait at his current location until the PCs return, but he will abandon them at nightfall.

Eventually, by heading west, the PCs will come to the camp. There is a wide cave opening, reinforced with wood and stone, with two stacks of rocks atop the cliff on either side. A narrow dirt stairway is carved into the cliff face on the other side of the cave entrance. Two humans are drinking on either side of a campfire. With a DC15 Perception check, characters notice two halflings playing chess behind the rocks above the cave. A DC20 Nature or Dungeoneering check allows a PC to realize that the stacks of rocks could easily fall over the edge of the cliff.

Each bandit in Encounters B-F, with the exception of the guard drake, carries 10gp (parcel 8).

Cave Entrance Encounter Map

Encounter B – Death from Above

Level 2 Combat Encounter; 500xp total

Enemies/Traps:

  • T: 2 Rockslide Traps
  • S: 2 Halfling Slingers
  • R: 2 Human Rabble

As soon as they are aware of the party, the Slingers will move to hide behind the rockslide traps and prepare actions to trigger them when PCs pass underneath (assuming the party comes along the base of the cliff). The rockslide can be triggered as a standard action, and rolls its own initiative, as on DMG87. Once it finishes, it leaves behind difficult terrain. The slingers can trigger a close burst 3 in any of the outlined adjacent spaces. The traps can be reset with 15 minutes of hard labor for each trap.

The fire deals 1d10 + 3 fire damage to anyone who enters or ends her turn in its space. The cliff is 20 ft. high; someone who falls or is pushed over it takes 2d10 damage. They may use Acrobatics or a saving throw to mitigate this as normal.

Once bloodied, given the chance, the enemies will flee into the cave, giving the PCs an opportunity to see them avoid the pit in Encounter C by swinging on the bars.

The cave appears to originally be a natural one, but it has been expanded with hand tools throughout to serve the bandits’ purposes. The walls are rough stone shored up with wooden beams, and the floor is packed dirt and gravel. The entire complex is lit by torches, which effectively provide bright illumination throughout.

Cave Trap Encounter Map

Encounter C – Death from Below

Level 1 Elite Trap Encounter; 200xp total

Trap:

  • 1 Elite False-Floor Pit (DMG87)

Just inside the cave, there is what looks like a wooden ladder hanging by ropes from the wooden ceiling supports, about seven feet above the floor. This is a set of monkey bars set up to allow the bandits to easily cross the pit. Beneath them is an elite False-Floor Pit. It is a covering of weak wood and dirt over a deep pit of poisoned spikes. The pit can be avoided by jumping over it or climbing across the monkey bars. Climbing beneath the monkey bars requires a DC10 Athletics check. Failure triggers the trap; failure by 5 or more means the PC loses their grip and falls into the trap.

Triggering the trap makes a loud noise which alerts everyone in Encounter D’s area. A bit beyond the pit trap is a wide wooden board that can be extended across it to allow easier movement. A character on the other side of the trap can put this board in place. With the board in place, a character can cross the center of the pit as if it were difficult terrain. If a character is hit by an attack while crossing the plank, she must make a DC10 Acrobatics check or fall into the pit.

There are three rooms in the next area: a storage nook for money and other valuables to the west, a space for the bandits’ pet drake to live and train in the center, and a room for weapon and armor storage to the east. The sound of raucous laughter and idle lute music can be heard from further north.

If they have not been alerted by the pit trap or enemies fleeing from Encounter B, then the enemies here are positioned as marked on the map. The thief is organizing loot, the archer is grabbing a bow, and the scout is feeding the drake some meat through the open door of its cage. If they have been alerted, they take up ambush positions.

Cave Network Encounter Map

Encounter D – Tunnel Network

Level 2 Combat Encounter; 500xp total

Enemies:

  • 1 Guard Drake (Level 2 Brute)
  • 1 Elf Scout (Level 2 Skirmisher)
  • 1 Halfling Thief (Level 2 Skirmisher)
  • 1 Elf Archer (Level 2 Artillery)

The enemies in the barracks to the north are making too much noise to hear this battle, unless the PCs shout or battle moves into the northern hallway.

The storage nook contains a chest with a 100gp ruby, 90 gold, and a small bag containing two Healing Potions and a finely-crafted Symbol of Battle +1 of a diety worshiped by a divine character in the party (parcels 2 and 5). The Elf Archer is wearing finely-crafted Sylvan Armor +1 of a type used by a member of the party (hide) (parcel 4). This armor does not modify the archer’s AC.

After the bend in the northern hallway there is a large room filled with double bunk beds. A tired-looking half-elf woman in a revealing outfit and exaggerated makeup is chained by the ankle to a metal spike in the middle of the room. The chain is just long enough to reach each of the beds. The hallway continues on the other side of the room.

Assuming the bandits here have not been alerted, the human bandit is sitting beside the woman, making crude jokes at her. The wererat is in human form, and is watching and laughing at them. The slinger is sitting on a bed and plucking his lute.

Cave Barracks Encounter Map

Encounter E – The Barracks

Level 2 Combat Encounter; 500xp total

Enemies:

  • 1 Human Bandit (Level 2 Skirmisher)
  • 1 Wererat (Level 3 Skirmisher)
  • 1 Halfling Slinger (Level 1 Artillery)

Entering later:

  • 2 Halfling Stouts (Level 2 Minion)
  • 2 Human Rabble (Level 2 Minion)

Allies:

  • 1 Half-Elf Captive

When combat begins or the enemies are alerted, the wererat immediately shifts into its natural lycanthrope form. On the second full turn of combat, and each even turn afterwards (i.e. turns 2, 4, 6, and 8), a minion enters from the east, alternating types of minion each time (beginning with a Stout).

The captive wants to help the party, and she can prepare an action to trip any enemy who crosses her chain by pulling it taut. She attacks with a +4 versus Reflex; on a successful hit, the enemy is knocked prone. The enemies are too distracted to notice that she is doing this deliberately (although if the party fully retreats, they will figure it out and beat her unconscious after the battle).

Once the enemies are defeated, the woman thanks the party and explains that they have kept her captive and used her as a plaything for so long she has lost track of time. The manacle attached to her ankle can be opened with a DC20 Thievery check, or the chain can be broken with an axe or hammer and a DC20 Strength check.

At the end of the hallway past the barracks is a bookshelf containing:

  • Maps of Nell Valley, Shatterbow Forest, and the Kelly Hills
  • Log books of stuff stolen and divided
  • Several books with pornographic stories and engravings
  • A ritual book containing Enchant Magic Item and Brew Potion beside 10 gp of residuum in a pouch (parcel 6)
  • A potion of healing and a silver necklace worth 120gp (parcel 7)

Past the barracks is the room where Sabletooth is being held captive. She was being guarded by the minions in Encounter E. She is tied up, chained to the wall, and unconscious, showing heavy bruising. She is a pretty, muscular young orc with one very dark brown tooth. She can be awakened with a DC10 Healing check. She speaks only broken Common (and fluent Giant) but is responsive when her father’s name is mentioned. She is able to walk on her own once freed, but is too injured to participate in combat (she retreats and hides). If her stats are required, use those of an Orc Drudge without a club.

There are no more enemies inside the cave. However, when the party exits, they will discover a scarred, scruffy man in armor on horseback accompanied by a gnome and a mage. The man on horseback is the leader of the group. The three are looking at the mess outside in shock, but quickly attack.

Encounter F – The Escape

Level 3 combat encounter; 600xp total

Enemies:

  • 1 Gnome Skulk (Level 2 Lurker)
  • 1 Human Mage (Level 4 Artillery)
  • 1 Human Guard (Level 3 Soldier), riding:
  • 1 Warhorse (Level 3 Brute)

Use the same map as Encounter B. Neither of the traps has been reset unless the PCs did so. The enemies are clustered to the right of the fire.

The enemies ignore Sabletooth unless she tries to escape, in which case they try to knock her unconscious again. The mage and the skulk work in concert, taking their best opportunity to daze and then sneak attack PCs. The guard can take advantage of his mount’s Charger ability. The horse cannot climb the stairs to the top of the cliff.

The mage is using a glowing Magic Wand +2 (or a corresponding arcane implement used by a member of the party). The wand does not illuminate its surroundings, and the glow can be suppressed for a round as a free action (parcel 1). The wand does not modify the mage’s attack rolls. He also carries a potion of healing, 40gp of residuum, and a ritual book containing Tenser’s Floating Disk, Animal Messenger, and Silence (parcel 8).

The guard is carrying an extra 60gp in addition to the normal 10gp for each bandit, giving him a total of 70gp.

Once the battle is over, the party should return to Devileye. If Sabletooth is alive and well, Devileye thanks the party and gives whatever reward was offered. He is pleased enough to lead the way back to the river even if the party failed Encounter A. However, if Sabletooth somehow died, Devileye will fly into a rage and banish the party from his sight, but will not attack them. Despite his anger, he believes that the party honestly tried and that Sabletooth may have been destined for death anyway.

If Sabletooth is alive and the party succeeded at Encounter A, Devileye is willing to barter for supplies if necessary.

Once back at the river, the party can continue on their way. If they succeeded at Encounter A, they are escorted by orcs until they reach a safer spot, and are unmolested. If they failed at Encounter A, they must fend for themselves, and are soon set upon by hungry creatures.

Riverside Encounter Map

Optional Encounter G – The Riverside Ambush

Level 1 Combat Encounter; 350 xp total

Enemies:

  • N: 1 Needlefang Drake Swarm
  • SD: 1 Spitting Drake
  • S: 1 Stirge

The PCs may make a DC15 Perception check to notice that the forest has gone quiet just before the creatures burst from the undergrowth. If a PC succeeds, that PC may act on the surprise round.

When a non-flying creature enters or begins its turn in the river, the force of the water slides that creature three squares westward. The creature must succeed on a DC10 Acrobatics check or fall prone. Walking across the log does not require a check and does not slide the character. All darkened squares and tree-covered squares grant concealment and are difficult terrain.

The stirge is unaffected by the current due to flight and takes advantage of this by attacking from a river space. The swarm attacks the bulk of the party, while the spitting drake attacks from a distance.

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