Blood & Salt (Adventure)

If the party has played ‘The Broken Light’, then they find themselves in an old, crumbling keep in the forest surrounding the town, having accessed it from the door in area B7. A narrow trail just outside the keep will lead them through the forest and into town proper. However, if this is being used as a stand-alone adventure, the party enters town on an old, disused trade road for reasons their own.


Night is quickly approaching, and the party nears the Blackmill Township. As they draw closer, a fierce storm sweeps in and erupts without warning. The hail and lightning force the party to seek shelter in Blackmill immediately. If they do not, roll 1d5 for hail damage, which is distributed evenly between the group. After only a night’s stay in the town, they hear whispers of strange disappearances and mysterious shadows that stalk the night.

Blackmill is beset by an evil cult which has been kidnapping and sacrificing townsfolk in an attempt to gain control over a black-ice serpent and use it to do their dark bidding. The cult has murdered all town officials – the mayor, the council, the few lawmen and guards – and are using dark illusions to masquerade as the dead. To allay suspicion, these officials will work closely with the party, offer support, and pledge a reward should the party be successful in solving the disappearances.

Throughout this adventure, the party will encounter a number of entities: some will be helpful, and others will not. Intermittently, the game master (GM) should roll 1d10: on a roll of 2 or below, the adventurers encounter something. Roll 1d0 and use the tables below to determine what.

In town (day)

  • Roll of 1-4: 2-4 skeptical townsfolk
  • Roll of 5-8: 1-6 friendly townsfolk
  • Roll of 9: 6-10 drunken townsfolk
  • Roll of 10: 1 town official

In town (night)

  • Roll of 1-3: 6-10 black-robed cultists
  • Roll of 4-7: 4-6 grey-robed cultists
  • Roll of 8-9: 6-10 drunken townsfolk
  • Roll of 10: 2 friendly townsfolk

The Caves of Confusion

  • Roll of 1-3: 3-4 goliath crabs
  • Roll of 4-6: cultists
  • Roll of 7: blood sprites
  • Roll of 8-10: trap (see trap tables below)

Traps

Additionally, roll 1d10: on a roll of 4 or below, the trap is an illusion and deals no damage.

  • Roll of 1-4: Spike pit
  • Roll of 5-7: Arrow trap
  • Roll of 8-9: Collapsing ceiling
  • Roll of 10: Teleportation trap

The Blackmill Township (Area A)


Blackmill

A1. Wet Tooth Inn

Soft light flickers across the aged tavern, cast by a wide, warming hearth. A small group of locals crowd the tables nearby, huddling close to the heat. The barkeep is cleaning mugs and regards you with a nod.

Within the tavern, townsfolk talk worriedly among themselves. A T6 perception check will reveal they are whispering about a recent spate of disappearances; a T8 perception check will reveal that one of the villager’s daughters vanished from her bed just the night before. After the adventurers have heard (or perhaps talked with) the villagers, roll 1d10: on a roll of 6 or above, 4-8 drunken townsfolk enter the tavern. They view the party with suspicion and are keen to fight, but can be dissuaded (T8 aspect check).

If a fight breaks out, all damage dealt is nonlethal. The fight will end immediately if the adventurers produce their weapons; however, if the adventurers are reduced to 0 HP, they are knocked unconscious. When they regain consciousness, they find themselves in a cramped cell guarded by two poorly-armed townsfolk. Shortly thereafter, the mayor will arrive and proposition the party: root out the cause of the kidnappings, and they can go free, and with a handsome reward. If they agree, he will escort them to the town square, where he will announce their aid to the townsfolk.

A2. Town Square

The storm has diminished to a cold, persistent drizzle. A few souls – no more than 30 – gather at the town’s center, with more straggling in. A short, wide man stands on a dais in the midst of the small crowd. He fidgets nervously as the townsfolk look on.

The morning following the party’s arrival, the mayor of Blackmill assembles the townsfolk for an announcement. The party will be approached by a guardsmen who will request they attend, stating that the mayor has a special request of them.

Upon their arrival, the mayor announces to the crowd that he and the town council have hired mighty warriors to put an end to the mysterious disappearances. He then beckons the party to join him on stage and take their bows; additionally, he offers them the opportunity to share an inspiring call to arms. If sufficiently inspirational, the party will encounter no skeptical townsfolk, and will not need to roll to learn rumors or information.

Once the crowd has dispersed, the mayor will apologize for putting the party “on the spot”, and beg their mercy and help. His deception will be impossible to detect, unless an adventurer possesses a black gem, which may enable them to see beyond his dark illusions (T11 intellect check). If they do, it will be obvious to that adventurer alone that the mayor is another man beneath the illusion.

After accepting his offer, the party is free to explore the town and surrounding area, interview townsfolk, and gather clues. Each time they speak with a resident, roll 1d10: on a roll of 6 or higher, the party learns something. Roll 1d10 and use the table below to find out what.

Rumors and information

  • Roll of 1: A guardsman claims to have seen a group of shadows slipping through the town in the dead of night. He gave chase, but they escaped.
  • Roll of 2-3: The disappearances began just three weeks ago.
  • Roll of 4-6: Eight people have disappeared.
  • Roll of 6-9: The sea has been restless as of late.
  • Roll of 10: A townsfolk might say: There was something strange down by the shore… lights flickering near the old sea caves. No one goes down there, though – too many crabs, it’s not safe anymore.

A3. The Cliffside Wharf

A steep, natural stone staircase leads down to a cluster of wooden buildings that jut out over the sea, supported by decaying timber columns.

The fishermen at the wharf confirm that by night, they have seen shadows moving furtively along the shore.

A4. The Mayor’s Mansion

While large, the grounds are modest. The mansion itself is splendid, in a rugged way. The large stone walls are artistically framed by huge, red timbers, making it is easily the finest building in the township.

If the party encounters the mayor in town, he will invite them to his mansion for dinner, where he will speak more candidly about the disappearances. It began just three weeks ago, and since then, eight people – in a township of less than 100 – have vanished without a trace. The missing having little to nothing in common: old men, young girls, mothers, brothers.

The mayor will confide his suspicions with the party: that this is the work of a cult, though he does not know their purpose or goals.

Additionally, he will suggest that the party investigate the seashore, where several fisherman claim to have seen shadowy figures gathering by night.

A5. The House by the Sea

On a lonely hill, the ancient house overlooks a turbulent sea. It is dilapidated and dark, weathered by years of salt and storms.

A wizened woman will answer the door – Blackmill’s resident hermit. Though she denies an audience to nearly everyone, she is keen to speak with the party, who she believes will right the wrongs that she has sensed in the air.

The woman knows little of the town’s happenings, but will share her intuition:

“The storms are worse these days. They curse us. Darker, deeper, longer – they blow harder and howl louder. Something out there is stirring, threatening to wake from an ancient slumber.”

A6. The Abduction

On the party’s second night in Blackmill, the Wounding Hand strikes again, abducting a young girl from her home. If the party is in town at night, this may be an opportunity for them to confront or follow the cult to area B1.

If the party has already followed the mayor’s lead and are at the seashore, they will observe the cultists carrying the girl to area B1.

Optional: If the adventurers do nothing, the girl is sacrificed, and the cult succeeds in summoning the black-ice serpent from its millennia-long hibernation. It will immediately lay siege to the village, aided by the cultists. If the party defeats the serpent, the cultists will retreat to Area B10.

The Caves of Confusion (Area B)


The Caves of Confusion

The entrance to the old sea caves has been hidden by an illusion barrier, and appears to be solid stone. As such, the party is unlikely to discover the entrance during the day. If they investigate the area, they will encounter 1d10 goliath crabs.

The chance of random encounters in the Caves is 10% higher. All traps and illusions within the Caves require a T12 check to spot or defeat. The toughness of these features is enhanced by blood gems hidden within the Caves (as well as the enslaved darkmind mutants). As each blood gem is collected from area B8, the check toughness for all illusions will be lowered by 2. 

B1. The Glowing Mouth

The stone cliff face is solid and unyielding, climbing high into the cloud-choked sky. Beneath its black surface is a faint glow, as if a warm hearth roared just inside.

If the party sees the cultists at the Glowing Mouth, they will observe them walking through seemingly solid stone – a clever illusion hiding the entrance to their cave network. Once the party passes through the door, they will discover that it is a one-way entry, and they are now trapped.

B2. The Illusion Wall

The cave stretches on into the distance, its walls shimmering wetly in the torch glow.

The cave continuing into the distance is an illusion. In reality, it is another one-way door, this time leading out of the Caves. Once outside, the Glowing Mouth will have subsided, requiring a T8 intellect check to find the entrance again.

Optional: If the party is unable to discover the entrance again, the optional events of A6 may occur, as the party will have failed to stop the ritual.

B3. The Dark Shrine

Small nooks have been cut into the black walls. Within each, there is a carved stone figure surrounded by piles of now-dried candle wax. Each figure is a different creature – and all are horrible and serpentine in nature. Above them, the phrase “Ours is the tongue that lashes, the eye that burns, the hand that wounds” is neatly written in blood.

The figures are each a demi-god worshiped by the Wounding Hand. If an adventurer desecrates these shrines, all opponents of that adventurer gain a +1 attack bonus while in the Caves.

B4. The Net Trap

The cave narrows and curves, spiraling down into the depths below.

A net trap is set at the entrance (T10 intellect check to spot), cleverly concealed by illusory rocks. It is roughly 10 feet in diameter. The trap is sprung when any adventurer steps foot in its middle, and ensnares anyone within its radius.

The net can be easily cut by any blade, and serves as more of a warning for the party, rather than an actual trap.

B5. The Black Door

A wide, tall, black-wood door bars further entrance to the dungeon. Carved into the heavy wood are two huge serpents – the first with its tongue lashing, the other with its eyes wreathed in flame – wrapped about a closed fist. There are no discernible handles, knobs, or locks.

To the left, a stone arch leads into a small, dimly lit room covered wall-to-wall in loaded bookshelves. To the right, iron bars refuse entry into an unlit room.

To open the door, an adventurer must recite the Words of the Wounding Hand, which can be found written above the Dark Shrine (B3). The door will swing wide, and the adventurer who uttered the accursed words will suffer 1 damage.

B6. The Cell

The sound of soft wailing and clinking chains drifts from the blackness within.

Inside the pitch black room is a black-robed cultist whose mind was irrecoverably damaged during a dark spell. He has been locked here to endure his grotesque transformation into a darkmind mutant.

The cell doors can be broken down with a T10 power check, but the cultist will be unresponsive to attempts to help. He is sensitive to light, and will shriek if it is cast on him.

B7. The Library of Illusion

The air is wet, and the sour smell of damp paper and mold fills the small room. Dim torches light the area, flickering over several hundred black-bound tomes that litter the disordered shelves.

The books are bound in a thick, black leather, and their spines are unlabeled. Each has been transcribed from older tomes that the Wounding Hand has sought to preserve. Among them are spells books, historical manuscripts, and ancient scrolls, all pertaining to the lost art of dark illusions.

If an adventurer takes a book, roll 1d10 to find out what.

Books and Tomes

  • Roll of 1-2: The cover of this tome is cracking and peeling; the pages are brittle, and turn to dust at the slightest disturbance.
  • Roll of 3: A dusty, empty volume concealing a map in between its blank pages.
  • Roll of 4: The cover reads Mutations and Dark Magic.
  • Roll of 5-7: The book disappears as soon as picked up; so does the hand that touched it (becomes invisible; returns to normal after 1d5 hours).
  • Roll of 8-9: The cover reads A History of Illusion.
  • Roll of 10: The cover reads A Compendium of Illusion.

Additionally, roll 1d10. On a roll of 4 or lower, the book is encrypted, and requires a  cultist’s codex to decipher.

B8. The Blood Gems

A narrow hallway stretches into the dimness ahead. Three doors line the wall, each with a small, iron-barred window.

Room 1: The room is long and empty, save for a rope dangling above a wide spike pit in its center. On the opposite side, a large blood gem floats in midair.

To cross the spike pit, an adventurer must jump to reach the rope and swing across. The rope is an illusion, and is actually barbed wire – grabbing it deals 2 damage, and inflicts -1 to attack for the duration of the next combat encounter.

Once on the other side of the pit, the key may be seized. When done, the pit disappears and is replaced by solid stone, revealing that it too was an illusion.

Room 2: The room is long and empty, save for a wall of fire dividing it through the center. On the opposite side, visible between licks of flame, a large blood gem floats in midair.

The wall of flames gives off no heat, smoke, or smell, all of which are masked by illusion. If an adventurer walks through the fire believing it to be an illusion, they take 1d5 damage.

Once on the other side of the wall of flames, the key may be seized. When done, the wall is extinguished.

Room 3: The door is locked, and must be picked (T8 reflex check) or broken down (T10 power check) The room is long, but not empty. Instead, there are 1d10 darkmind mutants. They are in a trance, and will not attack the party, but will watch their every movement through blind, white eyes. At the opposite end, a large blood gem floats in midair.

When an adventurer seizes the gem, they must save 8 or be pulled into the transparent gelatinous cube that holds the gem. The adventurer will suffer 1 damage for every round they are in the cube.

Once the party has all three blood gems, the darkmind mutants will break from their trance and after two rounds of confusion, will begin to savagely anything nearby, including each other.

B9. The Corpses

The stench is overwhelming; sharp and metallic and rancid. Shelves containing vials of thick, dark liquids line the discolored stone walls. In the far corner, corpses are piled unceremoniously. 

Here, the bodies of the missing villagers are discovered. They are in various states of decay, and the blood has been drained from each of them. Among these bodies, the party will recognize the faces of the mayor, and any other councilors or lawmen they met.

B10. The Dark Cathedral

The door is tall and wide, of the same wood and bearing the same writhing serpents as the library doors – two serpents, each adorned in a crown of blood gems, wrapped about a fist clutching a single blood gem.

There are no discernible handles, knobs, or locks, and the door fits so tightly into its stone frame that it appears almost unreal.

If the party does not possess all three blood gems, the door is solid, immovable, and unbreakable. Once in the party’s possession, the door will disappear as they approach.

The cavern is wide and tall, and the smooth-carved walls of the dungeon give way to jutting rock and jagged stone. Tall, rough-hewn pillars meet the cavern ceiling, ringed in torches and decorated with carvings of grotesque reptilian beasts.

In the center of the cavern, cultists surround an altar lit by braziers spewing blue and green flames. Around the altar, red-stained channels carve the floor, emptying into a geometric hole. At the altar’s head stands a man cloaked in a deep green robe. He grins evilly, and his wicked eyes shine. On the altar, a young girl is bound. The man raises a dagger above his head and speaks.

The green-robed cultist and his surrounding acolytes are preparing to sacrifice the girl. He is expecting the party, and mocks them for falling directly into his trap. He boasts that the girl’s blood will form the final blood gem needed to summon the black-ice serpent from its hibernation, but assures them that their blood will be put to good use.

After limited conversation with the party, he will command the cultists to capture them, as he intends to steal back the blood gems, and sacrifice the adventurers to the serpent.

If the an adventurer does not engage the green-robed cultist within 10 rounds, he will sacrifice the girl, and the ritual will be complete. The fourth and final blood gem will be formed, and the gems in possession of the party will be drawn magnetically to it. The four gems will merge into one, from which a portal springs into existence. The black-ice serpent will arrive through it in 5 rounds. During this time, the green-robed cultist will join the fight against the party.

Note: If the party slew the black-ice serpent during The Broken Light, then the portal will open, but nothing will enter through it. This will enrage the green-robed cultist, and he will gain +3 to attack and damage, and -1 to toughness for the remainder of combat.

At some point during combat, the green-robed cultist will reveal that he used dark illusions to disguise himself as the mayor. When nearing death, the green-robed cultist will use his wounding hands spell, and attempt to escape through the open doors. If the party pursues him, select two traps from the trap table; he uses his conjure trap spell to place these in his wake and slow the party. If they fall 100 feet or more behind him, he will escape.

The Conclusion

If the party defeats the green-robed cultist – either by slaying him, or by forcing him to flee – they are received as true heroes by the residents of Blackmill. Funerary services will be held for the victims, and the heroes will be invited to attend.

At their parting, the residents will offer the adventurers life seats on the town council, and bid they return as often as they can.

Additional Content


Books and Tomes

A History of Illusion – This weighty volume is long and dry, and takes 2 hours to read (4 if the character’s intellect score is 1 or lower). It reveals the following:

Illusions are as physical as they are magical – as much the rogue’s sleight-of-hand as the wizard’s spells. As a result, illusion spells are best cast by illusionists, use the reflex attribute, and are learned through both the study of various magics and the practice of physical movements and techniques that create or enhance illusions.

Illusion magic requires a power source: crystals, ancient artifacts, fire, and more. The power source may influence the spells available to the illusionist.

A Compendium of Illusion – This slim volume was penned in neat, careful script, and contains a variety of illusion spells and techniques. It is quite old, but in good shape. It reveals the following:

Previous attempts at creating a compendium of illusion have failed, due in large part to the nature of illusion spells and techniques. Illusion magic was never formally organized, and as a result, illusionists are largely self-taught, and illusion spells home-brewed.

This volume represents the first successful compendium, and though incomplete, is the result of fifty years of by a one Jarome Fay; of him, little is known. While unfinished, the book contains all available illusion spells in the Tiny d10 system.

Mutations and Dark Magic – This slim volume is brimming with loose papers, many of which are diagrams of darkmind mutants marked-up with illegible writing. It reveals the following:

The use of dark magic is highly dangerous, and failure to perform a spell or summoning properly can result in black-blood – a disease by which the caster is slowly transformed into a darkmind mutant. This disease appears to have a will of its own, slowly consuming the victim from the inside-out before taking complete control of what remains of their mind and body.

“A blackness from another world swallows the spirit and consumes the body.”

While victims of black-blood are savagely violent after the transformation is complete, they can be controlled through the expert use of blood gems, or by dark serpents, who have been observed using the darkmind mutants to tend their nests and protect their hatchlings.

Monsters and Non-player Characters

Blood sprites – small, vaporous clouds of blood that swish and sway like leaves in the wind. Blood sprites will sometimes lead the living to the site of a grisly murder, as though seeking resolution of a heinous crime. In this adventure, they may attempt to lead characters to B9 (The Corpses).

Cultists – The Wounding Hand has existed for more than a century, during which they  ceaselessly +traveled the world in search of the few remaining artifacts of illusion – and specifically dark illusion – magic. Their search uncovered an ancient blood-religion devoted to dark serpents who now slumber beneath the earth and sea. They have since revived this unholy doctrine, the practice of which has greatly enhanced their illusory powers.

  • Black-robed (T6; 6 HP; 2 MP; +1 intellect) – the dark magicians of the Wounding Hand. Black-robed cultists specialize in dark magic spells, and are typically used to carry out brutish tasks. They wield short, wicked daggers. Black-robed cultists have the following spells:
    • Dark armor – +1 toughness for an entire combat encounter. Cost: 1 magic points.
  • Green-robed (T8; 12 HP, 8 MP, 2 PP; +1 intellect, +2 reflex; level 3 spell-caster) – the leaders of the Wounding Hand’s operations arm. Green-robed cultists are war priests, and are formidable combatants. He wields a sacrificial dagger with a serpent-shaped hilt. Green-robed cultists have the following spells:
    • Dark slash – the target of this spell is cut by an invisible blade, suffering damage equal to half of the target’s remaining HP (rounded down). Black blood will gush from the wound, an illusion to make the attack appear stronger; the effects last for 1d5 rounds, after which the wound and blood will disappear, and all HP lost to the attack are restored. Cost: 2 magic points.
    • Wounding hands – the caster gains up to 1d5 ephemeral hands, and may make as many additional attacks as they have hands. Each hand deals 1 damage, and lasts as many rounds as the caster’s level. Cost: 3 magic points.
  • Grey-robed – (T7; 8 HP; 4 MP; +1 reflex) – the illusionists of the Wounding Hand. Grey-robed cultists specialize in illusion spells, and serve a largely academic role – helping the Wounding Hand merge the power of illusions with dark magic. Grey-robed cultists have the following spells:
    • Dark mirror – you may create 1d5 + your level illusory copies of yourself. Targets must overcome your spell save to see through the illusion. Cost: 1 magic points (if cast on someone else, 2 magic points).
    • Dark thoughts – on an attack roll of 9 or higher, you invade your target’s mind; the target must succeed an aspect challenge or lose its turn.Darkmind mutants (T7; 7-9 HP; +2 aspect) – deformed, but vaguely humanoid, monsters. These darkmind mutants have been imprisoned and enslaved by the Wounding Hand, and are being used to focus and concentrate dark magic power. Darkmind mutants have the following abilities:

Goliath crabs (T4; 6 HP; +2 power) – massive crustaceans with iron-hard carapaces and vice-like claws. Goliath crabs average six feet wide by four feet tall.

Townsfolk – the people of Blackmill are quiet and simple. Descended from a long line of fisherfolk, their modest livelihoods depend on exporting fish to nearby villages.

      • Drunken (T5; 5 HP; +1 power) – The disappearances have driven many to drink. Drunken townsfolk may be aggressive and provoke an altercation.

Town officials – There are 4 councilors, all appointed by the mayor, who is elected. Additionally, there are two members of the city guard, and one guard captain. These officials have all been murdered by the cultists, who use illusions to masquerade as their victims.

Transparent gelatinous cube (T3; 25 HP) – a massive, near invisible ooze. The gelatinous cube will engulf anything it comes into contact with (save 8 to prevent). Anything within the cube suffers 1 damage per round. Objects within the cube can be pulled out with a T8 power check.

Equipment, Items, and Weapons

The Black Trident (HW) – Inflicts 3 damage on an attack roll of 10.

Spells

Conjure trap (magic) – perception check versus caster’s spell save. Requires one or two basic components of intended trap. Will be assembled magically, and may have magical properties. Cost: 2 MP.

Wounding hands (dark magic) – the caster gains up to 1d5 ephemeral hands, and may make as many additional attacks as they have hands. Each hand deals 1 damage, and lasts as many rounds as the caster’s level. Cost: 3 MP.

Traps

Arrow trap (magical) – an arrow dispenser is hidden in a nearby wall, and triggered when a living entity walks past it; T10 reflex check or suffer 1 damage.

Collapsing ceiling – typically set in entryways, collapsing ceilings are triggered when entering a room. The falling stone deals 1d5 – power bonus amount of damage.

Spike pit – a 10-foot deep mechanical trap triggered by a weight of 50 pounds or more. The bottom of the trap is filled with wooden spikes, which deal 1d5 damage.

Teleportation trap – when an adventurer steps into the trap’s radius (which is usually 5 feet), they are instantly teleported to a random location in the dungeon; affects only one adventurer.

Note: if this trap is an illusion, then teleportation occurs only in the victim’s mind. They believe themselves to be in another location, and as a result, are not aware of their physical surroundings. The effects last 1d10 rounds.

Random Tables

Coming soon.

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