Vicious Venues
Viroe's Aerie
By Skip and Penny Williams

Exactly what is brewing in the depths of this ruined inn? Are the denizens cooking dinner, or do they have a recipe for something more sinister?

Background for the DM

Viroe's Aerie was once a sprawling complex of dormitories, stables, warehouses, taprooms, and kitchens geared toward servicing caravan traffic crossing the high mountain pass where the inn stood. In time, a village grew up around the inn, and the area became a center for miners, woodcutters, trappers, and shepherds. The villagers included a high proportion of dwarves and deep halflings who forged an alliance with a tribe of stone giants living nearby. Stone giants became such frequent visitors to the village that Virodunin, the mountain dwarf who founded the inn, modified the place to accommodate giant-sized patrons.

Inn, village, and giants prospered together for decades until one cold winter when heavy snows closed the pass and left the village isolated for months. One dark, snowy night, a particularly large war party of frost giants attacked the inn and village. The residents and their stone giant allies resisted as well as they could, but couldn't turn back the onslaught. The frost giants slew all the stone giants, leveled the village, and looted the inn. Only a handful of villagers survived the attack, and frost giants marched most of those away to become slaves.

Today, a new tribe of stone giants has moved into the area, and all traces of the old tribe are gone, save for a few scattered bones. All that remains of the village are a few broken foundations and crumbling chimneys. The inn fared better. The stables and outbuildings are mere rubble, but the main building, being exceptionally well built, still stands.

Recently, the inn has reopened under its old name. The new proprietor calls herself Viroduna, and she claims to be Virodunin's daughter, who has escaped from the frost giants and returned home to rebuild her father's business. Her story may be true, in which case Viroe's Aerie is simply a somewhat unusual inn with an equally unusual clientele. Or perhaps the person calling herself Viroduna is a bandit leader pretending to be a simple innkeeper. In that case, the inn serves as both headquarters and a convenient cover for the bandits. The inn not only allows the bandits to pose as harmless villagers, but it also gives them plenty of opportunities to look over potential victims to judge their wealth and ability to defend themselves.

The Setup

The PCs might discover the inn during a trip through the mountains, or they might hear tales of the inn's history that draw them to the place. Such tales might include the following:

  • Atop a certain mountain pass, one can find an ancient inn where dwarves rub shoulders with giants and the patrons order their drinks literally by the barrel.
  • Recent attempts to reopen an old trade route through the mountains have been stymied by the appearance of a ruthless group of bandits that has stopped every major shipment along the route for the past three months.
  • The ruined village of Viroe's Aerie hides the entrance to an abandoned mine where a fabulous treasure lies concealed.
  • A struggling innkeeper called Viroduna seeks adventurers to join her in an adventure to rescue some captives from a group of frost giants.

It's up to you to determine which of these bits of information, if any, are true. Your decisions may hinge on what you decide to do with Viroduna. Is she an honest innkeeper or a cunning bandit? Two characters are presented below, each at two different levels. The first is a genuine Viroduna, a female mountain dwarf. The second is Phriddoma, a female dwarf posing as Viroduna.

Viroduna: Female mountain dwarf Expert 3/Ranger 4; CR 6; Medium humanoid; HD 3d6+9 plus 4d8+12; hp 49; Init +3; Spd 20 ft.; AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +6; Grp +8; Atk +8 melee (1d8+2/19-20, masterwork longsword) or +10 ranged (1d8+2/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]); Full Atk +8/+3 melee (1d8+2/19-20, masterwork longsword) and +7 melee (1d6+1/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +10/+5 ranged (1d8+2/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]); SQ animal companion (badger), combat style (two-weapon combat), darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits, favored enemy (giants +2), wild empathy +4; AL LG; SV Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +5; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.

Skills and Feats: Climb +6, Craft (metalworking) +5, Craft (stoneworking) +2, Heal +4, Hide +6, Listen +11, Move Silently +10, Search +7, Sense Motive +4, Spot +8, Survival +8, Use Magic Device +5; Dodge, Endurance, Mobility, Track, Weapon Focus (longsword).

Animal Companion: Viroduna has a badger named Dologer as her animal companion. She gains the following benefits from it.

Link (Ex): Viroduna can handle Dologer as a free action or push him as a move action, even though she doesn't have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. She gains a +4 bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks regarding him.

Share Spells (Ex): Viroduna may have any spell she casts upon herself also affect Dologer if desired. Dologer must be within 5 feet of her at the time of casting to receive this benefit. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting Dologer if he moves more than 5 feet away and does not affect him again even if he returns before the duration expires. Viroduna may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on Dologer (as a touch range spell) instead of on herself. Viroduna and Dologer can even share spells that do not normally affect creatures of the animal type.

Combat Style: Viroduna has chosen two-weapon combat as her combat style. She gains the benefit of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat as long as she is wearing light armor or no armor.

Dwarf Traits: Viroduna has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, a +4 dodge bonus against giants, and a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft or Profession checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above). She also has stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 feet and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth).

Favored Enemy: Viroduna has selected giants as a favored enemy. She gains a +2 bonus on her Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against this type of creature. She gets the same bonus on weapon damage rolls against creatures of these types.

Wild Empathy (Ex): Viroduna can make a check on 1d20 with a bonus of +4 to improve the attitude of an animal just as though making a Diplomacy check to improve the attitude of a person. She and the animal must be within 30 feet of each other and be able to study one another. Using this ability usually takes 1 minute.

Ranger Spells Prepared (1; save DC 11 + spell level): 1st -- magic fang.

Possessions:+1 studded leather armor, masterwork longsword, masterwork short sword, masterwork composite longbow (+2 Str bonus), 20 arrows, +2 gloves of Dexterity, wand of blur (16 charges).

Dologer: Male badger animal companion; CR --; Small animal; HD 1d8+2; hp 6; Init +3; Spd 30 ft., burrow 10 ft.; AC 15, touch 14, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +0; Grp -5; Atk +4 melee (1d2-1, claw); Full Atk +4 melee (1d2-1, 2 claws) and -1 melee (1d3-1, bite); SA rage; SQ bonus tricks (1), low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 8, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6.

Skills and Feats: Escape Artist +7, Hide +7, Listen +3, Spot +3; Track, Weapon Finesse.

Rage (Ex): When Dologer takes damage in combat, he flies into a berserk rage on his next turn, clawing and biting madly until either he or his opponent is dead. He cannot end his rage voluntarily. The following changes to his statistics are in effect while he rages: HD 1d8+4; hp 8; AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp -3; Atk +4 melee (1d2+1, claw); Full Atk +4 melee (1d2+1, 2 claws) and -1 melee (1d3, bite); SV Fort +6; Str 12, Con 19.

Scent (Ex): Dologer can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

Viroduna: Female mountain dwarf Expert 3/Ranger 6; CR 8; Medium humanoid; HD 3d6+9 plus 6d8+18; hp 64; Init +3; Spd 20 ft.; AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +8; Grp +10; Atk +10 melee (1d8+3/19-20, +1 longsword) or +12 ranged (1d8+2/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]); Full Atk +10/+5 melee (1d8+3/19-20, +1 longsword) and +10/+5 melee (1d62/19-20, +1 short sword) or +12/+7 ranged (1d8+2/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+2 Str bonus]); SQ animal companion (badger), combat style (two-weapon combat), darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits, favored enemies (giants +2, monstrous humanoids +2), improved combat style (two-weapon combat), wild empathy +6; AL LG; SV Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +6; Str 15, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.

Skills and Feats: Climb +6, Craft (metalworking) +5, Craft (stoneworking) +2, Heal +4, Hide +8, Listen +13, Move Silently +12, Search +9, Sense Motive +4, Spot +10, Survival +10, Use Magic Device +5; Dodge, Endurance, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Mobility, Track, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Focus (short sword).

Animal Companion: Viroduna has a badger named Dologer as her animal companion. She gains the following benefits from it.

Link (Ex): Viroduna can handle Dologer as a free action or push him as a move action, even though she doesn't have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. She gains a +4 bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks regarding him.

Share Spells (Ex): Viroduna may have any spell she casts upon herself also affect Dologer if desired. Dologer must be within 5 feet of her at the time of casting to receive this benefit. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting Dologer if he moves more than 5 feet away and does not affect him again even if he returns before the duration expires. Viroduna may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on Dologer (as a touch range spell) instead of on herself. Viroduna and Dologer can even share spells that do not normally affect creatures of the animal type.

Combat Style: Viroduna has chosen two-weapon combat as her combat style. She gains the benefit of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat as long as she is wearing light armor or no armor.

Dwarf Traits: Viroduna has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, a +4 dodge bonus against giants, and a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft or Profession checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above). She also has stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 feet and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth).

Favored Enemies: Viroduna has selected giants and monstrous humanoids as favored enemies. She gains a +2 bonus on her Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against these types of creatures. She gets the same bonus on weapon damage rolls against creatures of these types.

Improved Combat Style: Viroduna has chosen two-weapon combat as her combat style. She gains the benefit of the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat as long as she is wearing light armor or no armor.

Wild Empathy (Ex): Viroduna can make a check on 1d20 with a bonus of +6 to improve the attitude of an animal just as though making a Diplomacy check to improve the attitude of a person. She and the animal must be within 30 feet of each other and be able to study one another. Using this ability usually takes 1 minute.

Ranger Spells Prepared (2; save DC 11 + spell level): 1st -- longstrider, magic fang.

Possessions:+2 studded leather armor, +1 ring of protection, +1 longsword, +1 short sword, masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2 Str bonus), 20 arrows, +2 gloves of Dexterity, wand of blur (16 charges).

Dologer: Male badger animal companion; CR --; Small animal; HD 3d8+6; hp 19; Init +4; Spd 30 ft., burrow 10 ft.; AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +2; Grp -3; Atk +7 melee (1d2-1, claw); Full Atk +7 melee (1d2-1, 2 claws) and +2 melee (1d3-1, bite); SA rage; SQ bonus tricks (2), evasion, low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +2; Str 9, Dex 18, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6.

Skills and Feats: Escape Artist +8, Hide +8, Listen +4, Spot +4; Dodge, Track, Weapon Finesse.

Rage (Ex): When Dologer takes damage in combat, he flies into a berserk rage on his next turn, clawing and biting madly until either he or his opponent is dead. He cannot end his rage voluntarily. The following changes to his statistics are in effect while he rages: HD 3d8+12; hp 25; AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +2; Grp -1; Atk +7 melee (1d2+1, claw); Full Atk +7 melee (1d2+1, 2 claws) and +2 melee (1d3, bite); SV Fort +7.

Evasion (Ex): If Dologer is subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage if he makes a successful saving throw.

Scent (Ex): Dologer can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

Phriddoma: Female hill dwarf Cleric 3/Fighter 3; CR 6; Medium humanoid; HD 3d8+6 plus 3d10+6; hp 41; Init +6; Spd 15 ft.; AC 20, touch 10, flat-footed 20; Base Atk +5; Grp +6; Atk +5 melee (1d4+2/19-20, +1 dagger) and +5 melee (1d4, masterwork shield spike) or +8 ranged (1d10+1/19-20, heavy repeating crossbow with poisoned +1 crossbow bolts); SA rebuke undead (2/day); SQ darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits; AL CE; SV Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +7; Str 12, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 9.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +5, Concentration +8, Craft (metalworking) +5, Craft (stoneworking) +2, Diplomacy +1, Intimidate +1, Ride +5; Exotic Weapon Proficiency (repeating crossbow), Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Two-Weapon Fighting.

Dwarf Traits: Phriddoma has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, a +4 dodge bonus to AC against giants, a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed when standing on the ground, and a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above). She also has stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a Search check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 ft. and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth).

Cleric Spells Prepared (4/4/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, resistance; 1st -- command, cure light wounds, disguise self*, random action; 2nd -- death knell, invisibility*, spiritual weapon.

*Domain spell. Deity: Diirinka. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), Trickery (Bluff, Disguise, and Hide are cleric class skills).

Possessions:+1 half plate armor, +1 light steel shield, masterwork shield spike, +1 dagger, heavy repeating crossbow, 20 +1 bolts treated with greenblood oil, scroll of 4 cure light wounds, scroll of 3 cure moderate wounds, scroll of deeper darkness.

Phriddoma: Female hill dwarf Cleric 4/Fighter 4; CR 8; Medium humanoid; HD 4d8+8 plus 4d10+8; hp 56; Init +6; Spd 15 ft.; AC 23, touch 11, flat-footed 23; Base Atk +7; Grp +8; Atk +8 melee (1d4+2/19-20, +1 dagger) or +10 ranged (1d10+1/19-20, heavy repeating crossbow with poisoned +1 crossbow bolts); Full Atk +8/+3 melee (1d4+2/19-20, +1 dagger) and +8 melee (1d4, masterwork shield spike) or +10/+5 ranged (1d10+1/19-20, heavy repeating crossbow with poisoned +1 crossbow bolts); SA rebuke undead (3/day); SQ darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits; AL CE; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +8; Str 12, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +6, Concentration +8, Craft (metalworking) +5, Craft (stoneworking) +2, Diplomacy +2, Disguise +2, Intimidate +2, Ride +5, Swim -9; Exotic Weapon Proficiency (repeating crossbow), Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse.

Dwarf Traits: Phriddoma has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, a +4 dodge bonus to AC against giants, a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed when standing on the ground, and a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above). She also has stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a Search check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 ft. and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth).

Cleric Spells Prepared (5/5/4; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, resistance, virtue; 1st -- command, cure light wounds, disguise self*, divine favor, random action; 2nd -- bull's strength, death knell, invisibility*, spiritual weapon.

*Domain spell. Deity: Diirinka. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), Trickery (Bluff, Disguise, and Hide are cleric class skills).

Possessions:+2 half plate armor, +2 light steel shield, +1 ring of protection, masterwork shield spike, +1 dagger, heavy repeating crossbow, 20 +1 bolts treated with greenblood oil, scroll of 4 cure light wounds, scroll of 3 cure moderate wounds, scroll of deeper darkness,wand of darkness (18 charges).

The Ruined Village of Viroe's Aerie

What is left of the village isn't much to look at.

The twisting mountain road climbs into an open meadow, where it runs fairly straight and level for a space. At least twenty broken foundations lie on either side of the road, mostly hidden in the tall grass. Here and there, the stump of an old chimney is visible. Farther up the road lies a sprawling ruin that must cover an acre or two, and in the middle of that stands a massive stone building with shuttered windows and a great oaken door. Four chimneys, very much intact, stand at the four corners of the edifice, and curls of wood smoke stream steadily from two of them, both to the left of the massive door.

Depending on the actual state of affairs in the village, there may be nothing else to see here.

Creatures (EL varies): If Viroduna has indeed reopened the inn, the PCs might see a shepherd or two tending a flock in the distance. The shepherd could be a human, a mountain dwarf, or even a stone giant. The shepherds have returned to the area with the reopening of the inn, but they use the area only as a summer pasture for their flocks. They live in crude huts some distance from the village ruins. The shepherds consider the ruins an unlucky place, and they avoid it when possible, though none of them are above slipping off to the inn for a drink or a hot meal once in awhile.

The shepherds can relate most of the history of the inn and village, (see the background section), and they have a fairly high opinion of Viroduna. They scoff at any tales of hidden treasure beneath the village ruins (even if you decide that such rumors are true). The shepherds assure the PCs that the frost giant raiders carried off everything of value.

If Phriddoma is using the inn as a headquarters, the area around the village is truly deserted, except for a few wild sheep. Phriddoma might post a guard in the ruined village. If so, the guard is a stone giant posing as a shepherd. The giant plays the role as best he can and can give the PCs much the same information as the genuine shepherds do. The guard also attempts to convince the PCs to visit the inn, even going so far as to invite them in for a drink if necessary. If the PCs mention any treasure hidden under the ruins, the guard is all ears and becomes even more insistent that the PCs visit the inn.

It is possible that Phriddoma and her bandits are lurking in the area at the same time Viroduna tries to reopen the inn. If so, Phriddoma and her bandits are never far from the village, and the PCs may meet them before coming to the ruins. The bandits first pose as simple shepherds, just to get a chance to size up the PCs. They warn the party to watch their backs when they visit the inn and hint that not every guest who goes in comes out again. They also warn the party to beware of false friends.

Closer to the inn, the shepherds in the area crowd their flocks into the ruins. They don't like the place, but they feel safer near the inn, where Viroduna and her stone giant customers are at hand. The shepherds assure the PCs they are safe near the inn but warn them to beware of dangerous giants and bandits farther afield.

Stone Giants (1-4): hp 119 each; see Monster Manual, page 124.

Tactics: The stone giants are neutral good if Viroduna is in residence at the inn or neutral evil if she is not. Good giants are content to chat with the PCs before going back to tending their sheep. Evil giants may attempt to lead the PCs into an ambush or attack if the PCs become suspicious.

Shepherds (5-8): hp 3-9 each; the shepherds are human or mountain dwarf commoners, levels 1 to 3. They are unarmored (AC 10) and armed only with knives and quarterstaffs.

Tactics: If attacked, the shepherds let their dogs do the fighting while they flee with their flocks.

Riding dogs (5-8): hp 13 each.

Tactics: The shepherds use these big dogs to control and protect their flocks. If the shepherds or their sheep are threatened, they attack as a pack, surrounding and flanking opponents when they can.

Viroe's Aerie Up Close

If Viroduna is in residence, the inn is battered, but still intact.

The stone building looks like a war-scarred veteran that was scrubbed clean and dressed up for a holiday. Beds of wildflowers vividly line the foundation. The building itself is constructed from huge blocks of dressed stone. Old pockmarks, some as a big as a human's fist, others bigger than a human's head, dot the walls. The shutters and door look new. They're built from oak planks planed smooth and freshly shellacked. Their wrought iron fittings don't have a speck of rust and look as black as coal. Most of the shutters stand open, but the windows are more than 10 feet above the ground, so you can't see inside. You can hear the buzz of conversation and the occasional burst of hearty laughter inside.

The door seems unusual. It's big enough to admit a loaded haywain, and it has a smaller portal, roughly human sized, set within.

If Phriddoma is in charge, things look somewhat less tidy.

The stone building has seen better days, but seems as strong as any castle. The walls are constructed from huge blocks of dressed stone that are now grimy with age. Old pockmarks, some as a big as a human's fist, others bigger than a human's head, dot the walls. The closed shutters and door seem deeply weathered, but have been patched with newer planks. Rust has bitten deep into their wrought-iron fittings, turning them from black to muddy red. The door seems unusual. It's big enough to admit a loaded haywain, and it has a smaller portal, roughly human sized, set within.

Entering the Inn

If Viroduna is in charge, the inn has an inviting interior.

Beyond the strange door, you find a cool, lofty chamber. A low fire at one end and sunlight streaming through the open windows make for a cheery atmosphere. All the furniture in here looks battered and rickety, as though it has been forced to endure too many fights. The bar is a sight, though. It's a split-level affair. To the left, the bar is about waist-high to a human, and a few humans and dwarves are seated there on battle-scarred stools. To the right, the bar stands considerably higher, with stools to match. A pair of muscular giants, gray-skinned and bald-headed, are seated there, drinking from tankards the size of barrels.

"Welcome to Viroe's Aerie," says a stout dwarven woman behind the bar, smiling broadly. "What can I get you?"

The place doesn't seem so pleasant if Phriddoma is in charge.

Beyond the strange door, you find a dark, cavernlike chamber lit only by a low fire. The place seems rather damp and cold. All the furniture in here seems battered and rickety, as though it has been forced to endure too many fights. The bar is a sight, though. It's a split-level affair. To the left, the bar is about waist high to a human, and a few humans and dwarves are seated there on battle-scarred stools. To the right, the bar stands considerably higher, with stools to match. A pair of muscular giants, gray-skinned and bald-headed, are seated there, drinking from tankards the size of barrels.

"Welcome to Viroe's Aerie," says a stout dwarven woman behind the bar with a brief smile. "What can I get you?"

Creatures (EL 10 to 15): If Viroduna has reopened the inn, she is here most of the time, along with a few human and mountain dwarf employees. As noted earlier, a few shepherds are always in here, and usually a stone giant or two are present. The staff and patrons welcome travelers, and the inn serves decent food and drink. Clean sleeping rooms are always available.

If the PCs start asking questions of the patrons, they get the same information the shepherds outside can provide. Viroduna is better informed. If you have decided that the rumor about the mine and its treasure are true, she can provide the following information in response to the right questions.

  • "Yeah, I know where the mine entrance is. But I ain't never heard of any treasure there."
  • "If there is any loot in there, it's gotta be pretty well hid. Otherwise them frost giants woulda found it long before now. Filthy beasts!"

If Viroduna recognizes the PCs as adventurers, she offers them a deal after chatting with them a bit.

The mountain dwarf woman pours herself an ale and comes to join you. "Mind if I sit down?" she says, seating herself at your table. "I got a deal for you. When I escaped from the frost giants, I had to leave some friends -- other dwarves, that is -- behind. But I want to go back for 'em, 'cause I never abandon friends. I'm looking to organize an expedition against the frost giants so's I can free those captives. But there ain't much talent in this place, so recruiting's been tough. You game to join me? The frost giants have plenty of loot to go around, and we'll all take even shares. Heck, I'll even lead you to that mine entrance afterward if you still wanna go there. How 'bout it?"

The situation is simpler if Phriddoma is at the inn. She planted the rumors the PCs have heard about the mine and about the frost giants' captives (unless you decide these rumors are true). Phriddoma's sole purpose in meeting the PCs is to determine the best time to attack them. Most likely she'll try to induce the PCs to take sleeping rooms, then attack during the night. She affirms any wild rumors the PCs have heard, telling them whatever she thinks will make them stay at the inn for the night.

Stone Giants (2): hp 119 each; see Monster Manual, page 124.

Tactics: The stone giants are neutral good if Viroduna is in charge, and they act much like their counterparts outside do. If Phriddoma is in charge, these creatures are neutral evil and part of Phriddoma's bandit group. They'll gladly attack the PCs, but they wait until Phriddoma gives the signal before they do.

Patrons (3-5): See the shepherds' statistics in the previous section.

Tactics: The patrons are present only if Viroduna has reopened the inn. They flee at the first sign of trouble.

Derro fighters (3-5): hp 38 each, use the statistics for 4th-level NPC fighters from the Dungeon Master's Guide, adjusted for race. Their arrows are treated with greenblood oil.

Tactics: The derro fighters claim to be traveling merchants who've just stopped in. They're bandits, and they attack the moment Phriddoma gives the nod.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and has been the Sage of Dragon Magazine since 1986. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (his borscht get rave reviews).

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, PolyhedronNewszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.


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