The Trouble in Town - Episode One: Muffin Man
By Eric Haddock
Episode One: Muffin Man
The Trouble in Town is a short adventure for four 10th-level characters. The adventure takes place near a walled town by a shallow river with a nonfunctioning, long abandoned aqueduct. Dungeon Masters can modify the adventure to accommodate higher-level characters by giving humanoid foes more class levels and increasing the HD and/or age category of other opponents.
The walled town of Auldlar is one of the few towns in the region with an aqueduct. Unfortunately, the aqueduct hasn't functioned for many years, but the network of caverns and tunnels that once channeled water are still there, as are the deep underground water tables that have since lowered too far to feed the aqueduct.
An evil necromancer has been using the caverns to move his undead about secretly and has been digging new tunnels around the area. The undead have begun spilling out of their tunnels and taking fresh, living people instead of dead ones from the graveyards.
The Dungeon Master can create his own town statistics or use the following ones:
Auldlar (small town): Conventional; AL NG; 800 gp limit; Assets 40,000 gp; Population 1,000; Mixed (human 79, halfling 9, elf 5, dwarf 3, gnome 2, half-elf 1, half-orc 1).
Authority Figures: Brianna Witherby, female human Com11 (town council leader); Telanas Ferran, male human Ari3 (mayor).
Important Characters: Warren Herlen, male dwarf Ftr7 (constable); Lillian Brogia, female halfling Com6 (merchant); Ferelen Brysteder, female human Clr5 (Pelor/healer); Frida and Lem, male and female humans Ftr4 (deputies); Felicity, female human Brd2 (Lorekeeper).
Others:Officers of the watch, Ftr2 (4);Town guards, Ftr1 (8), War4 (1), War2 (2), and War1 (45); Adp6 (1); Adp3 (2); Adp1 (5); Ari1 (5); Bbn4 (1); Bbn 2 (2); Bbn1 (4); Brd1 (2); Clr3 (2); Clr1 (4); Com6 (1); Com3 (4); Com1 (824), Drd4 (1); Drd2 (2); Drd1 (4); Exp8 (1); Exp4 (2); Exp2 (4); Exp1 (27); Mnk4 (1); Mnk2 (2); Mnk1 (4); Pal1 (1); Rgr3 (1);.Rgr1 (2); Rog7 (1); Rog4 (2); Rog2 (4); Rog1 (8); Sor1 (1); Wiz4 (1); Wiz2 (2); Wiz1 (4).
In this episode, the PCs discover a menace to Auldlar and go to an abandoned tower outside of town to investigate. There, they find a network that's not being used by water, but as a conduit for horrible things.
This adventure uses four of the maps from the Map-a-Week feature. Only the first one is used in this particular episode:
- The PCs may have business in Auldlar and may encounter the troubles at the same time the townspeople do.
- Word of the trouble in Auldlar may have spread to the PCs, who have come on their own accord to lend what assistance they can.
- While exploring an underground cavern, the PCs stumble upon a route that leads to the abandoned water channels beneath the tower outside of Auldlar.
- The PCs could be navigating the shallow river by the town and are stopped by townspeople desperate for help.
- The kind of trouble the Auldlar citizens have been describing may match the behavior of a recurring villain, so the PCs may want to investigate.
The adventure takes place in the town of Auldlar. Read or paraphrase the following when the PCs have already entered Auldlar.
The townspeople of Auldlar are especially tense after the fourth nocturnal attack. Last night, it was Walford the Girthsome, who is the baker known to eat his own profits. The story is that he went to the forest, near the old tower, looking for wild grains and never returned. They found his bloody hat on the hill east of town.
Walford was indeed killed near the old tower.
The people (in order) missing from Auldlar are as follows:
- Penhallow, a 15-year-old boy taken from his room through an open window;
- Nevile, an 8-year-old boy, taken while playing outside;
- Triona, a 12-year-old girl, taken during her chores on the family farm;
- Walford the Girthsome, (see above).
One person has disappeared every day for the past four days.
The Old Tower (EL 9)
Locals refer to the tower as simply "the old tower." It was once used as a lookout for raiders that might emerge from the forest. It was built over the site of a large well that was used to start the aqueduct. Both the tower and the aqueduct have been long abandoned -- or so the townspeople believe.
When the PCs arrive at the old tower, the location where Walford was said to have been heading, read or paraphrase the following:
The five-story old tower shows the years of neglect that have befallen it. It has obviously been used for many purposes since it was originally built, for there are scars of where structures, posts, banners, rods, pipes, and the like have been built onto it then torn away. There is a flag of Auldlar's emblem on the top of the tower, but the flag is tattered and only limply waves at your approach.
As the PCs approach, a successful Spot check (DC 20) allows them to notice activity near the upper window. This is the yrthak, which just recently leaped out of the window, though the PCs may not figure this out right away.
Yrthak: hp 102; see Monster Manual page 189.
Development: What the townspeople do depends on what the PCs do next. If the PCs warn the townspeople to avoid the tower, the Auldlar citizens will assume that the tower is the source of all the evil that has been visiting them these past few nights, and they form a band of their most sturdy members and enter the tower on their own -- which could lead to their deaths. If the PCs tell the townspeople about the yrthak, then the folk assume their troubles are over -- the yrthak must have nested in the tower and swooped down and carried off the townspeople, including Walford.
Next episode, the PCs discover what's inside the tower and, among other things, how it was that a huge creature such as a yrthak could live inside the upper level of the tower, let alone squeeze through the tiny window.
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