Vicious Venues
Phindal's Livery and Courier Service
By Skip and Penny Williams

Thanks to Hal McKinney for inspiration

Phindal's Livery and Courier Service includes encounters of EL 4-10. Suitable for use with any D&D campaign.

In a world where most transportation is of the horse-drawn variety, businesses like Phindal's are part of the landscape. This particular livery stable, however, is a little different than most.

The long, rambling stable has four wings radiating out from a central hub, which causes it to resemble a temple or some other public building rather than a mere horse barn. Stately trees shade the courtyard and stable. The building has a slate roof, bright red walls, and neat white trim.

Background for the DM

Phindal's Livery and Courier Service does exactly what its name suggests. Phindal boards horses and rents wagons and carriages. He also buys, sells, and trades horses, since many travelers find it convenient to ride hard and then trade mounts. This option allows them to travel onward without waiting for their mounts to rest. Besides horses, Phindal also handles other draft and riding animals, such as ponies, riding dogs, mules, and the like. As a sideline, the livery stable also provides a messenger service, that carries letters and small packages around town and to nearby cities.

Phindal's is unusual for its sheer size and also for its proprietor -- Phindal is a centaur.

Phindal's stables lie near a busy intersection, perhaps not far from the gates to a large city, or perhaps in a town or village located on a main road. The stables also could be within the boundaries of very big city, where they form part of a bucolic oasis amid the urban bustle.

The stables are usually home to several dozen horses and other animals placed there by customers who pay for their care and feeding. Phindal has a kennel full of dogs to provide a little security and to keep the place free of rats. He also has at least a dozen draft animals of his own, which he uses to work fields he owns nearby. Phindal raises all the feed and bedding he uses in the stables himself.

Phindal claims to be a widower, but rumors suggest that he is an outcast from his tribe who was expelled after offending the tribal leader. In any case, Phindal runs his business with assistance from his son and daughter, Lester and Lily, who are fraternal twins. Phindal has about a half dozen other centaurs in his employ, most of which are youngsters out to get a taste of the world and learn the ways of humans and other noncentaurs before returning to their tribes. Phindal acts as a sort of unofficial ambassador between the community where he does business and the centaur tribes living in the forests nearby. Some local wags maintain that Phindal's role as a go-between proves that the tales about his outcast status are just silly stories, but others just as enthusiastically maintain that his activities prove that he is a true outcast living between two cultures, but part of none. Phindal shrugs off the controversy and steadfastly maintains that he is just a widowed businessman.

The Setup

Characters who own mounts, as well as those who need to buy or rent them, might find themselves doing business at Phindal's from time to time. However, some incident or rumor also might draw them to the place, as noted below.

  • A con artist (or pair of con artists) loiters in front of the stables without Phindal's knowledge. When potential customers approach the stables, one con artist walks out to meet them, then asks if he can "take" their horses. If the dupes agree, the con artist tells them they can "go around back to pay." When the victims are out of sight, the con artists trot off with the mounts.

    The PC might fall victim to this ruse themselves (see Freely Given, below), or they might be hired, perhaps by Phindal himself, to track down the horse thieves.

  • A member of the nobility or other noteworthy citizen has vanished, and the only clue to the missing person's whereabouts is a diviner's assertion that the victim now wears another guise. This has lead to a thorough inspection of all farms and stables to determine if the vanished person has been transformed into an animal.

    The PC might be asked to conduct the search, or they might be subjected to it. The missing person may even have been turned into a horse or other draft animal (most likely with a polymorph any object spell) and stashed away at Phindal's, or even among the party's draft animals. He or she could also have simply fled and planted this rumor to throw off any pursuit.

  • Riders from near and far are converging on the area for a great endurance race, and Phindal's has been selected to house the equine entrants until the big day.

    The PCs might participate in the race, or Phindal might hire them to provide extra security. The race has a substantial prize, and many people have wagered on the outcome as well. Phindal or someone else may fear that unscrupulous folk might tamper with the horses, either by drugging them, or by performing a last minute switch -- perhaps substituting a look-alike nag for the favorite or an exceptional steed for a long-shot nag.

Visiting the Stable

The stable lies near a busy road or city street, and the PCs can get a good look as they approach. The text below is suitable for almost any locale or time of year. The gate stands open during daylight, but it is closed after dusk. The text assumes daylight. Characters easily can see through the gate or over the wall, however, so even a night viewing won't require much change.

A bright red stable with neat, white trim stands at the roadside. A low, stone wall forms a courtyard around the building. An iron gate stands open, showing a spotless, cobblestone-paved courtyard shaded by ancient trees.

The building itself features a pentagonal central hub with wings radiating from four sides. The remaining side has a pair of doors that are tall and wide enough to admit a coach. A smaller portal (about human-sized) is set into one side of these doors. Long rows of similar doors line the wings. The doors along the wings have no doors cut into them, but the upper and lower halves are hinged separately. No other portals or entrances are visible except for a row of windows and hatches located just below the eaves, perhaps a dozen feet off the ground.

A watering trough and hitching rail wide enough for at least a dozen horses stand in front of the central portal. A brass bell with a trailing pull rope stands on a pole next to the trough.

The large doors in the central hub are for the staff; the smaller door has been placed there for the customers' use. The split doors along the wings allow the top halves to be opened for light and ventilation in warm weather, while keeping the barn animals shut in. The windows and hatches above serve much the same purpose.

The usual order of business at Phindal's has the customer bringing a mount or vehicle to the hitching rail and ringing the bell for service. Regulars often don't even bother to wait until a staff member comes to take charge of the mount or vehicle; they just tie the animal to the rail and leave.

The courtyard usually stands empty unless the staff is busy cleaning leaves and droppings off the cobblestones (a task performed whenever an animal leaves or enters the place), or when it is time to clean the stalls, exercise the animals, or move supplies. In the spring and fall, the courtyard sees considerable activity, but during the winter and summer it can stand empty for hours.

Inside

The central hub is more than 50 feet wide and contains an office, a waiting area for customers, and quarters for Phindal, his family, and his staff. The waiting area has doors that lead to each of the stable's four wings.

Each wing consists of a long row of box stalls on the side closest to the road and a storage area for grain, hay, and vehicles on the other side. An aisle about 15 feet wide separates the stalls from the storage areas. The stalls have exits leading directly outside and additional exits that open onto the aisle. In addition, a door at about every 30 feet leads outside from the storage area.

The stable is of half-timber construction, with stone laid between massive wooden beams. The stone is painted red, and the beams are white. The roof is black slate. All the doors are wooden.

The courtyard has two additional gates: one behind the stable and one side gate near the end of one of the wings.

Behind the Stable

A small complex of stone outbuildings lies behind the stable: There is a smithy, a well house, a kennel, and additional storage for grain.

Creatures (EL 9-10)

As noted earlier, Phindal has a staff of centaurs to help him run the place, along with his two children and many dogs. The entire staff is almost never present at one time, except at night when most of them are asleep. Lester and Lilly, Phindal's children, usually are away most of the day, serving as couriers and running errands for Phindal. This usually leaves Phindal to work the stable with just a few centaurs to see to the animals. The rest of the staff is either off duty (and away from the site) or busy in Phindal's fields, which are some distance away.

Sometimes, however, business takes Phindal away from the stable, and in that case one or both of his children stand in for him. No matter who is on duty, a few dogs mill around as well.

Here are stats for Phindal at two different levels.

Phindal: Male centaur ranger 3; CR 6; Large monstrous humanoid; HD 7d8+21; hp 52; Init +3; Spd 50 ft.; AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +7; Grp +16; Atk +12 melee (3d6+8/19-20, +1 greatsword) or +10 ranged (2d6+6/x3, +1 composite longbow [+5 Str bonus]); Full Atk +12/+7 melee (3d6+8/19-20, +1 greatsword) and +7 melee (1d6+2, 2 hooves) or +10/+5 ranged (2d6+6/x3, +1 composite longbow [+5 Str bonus]); Space/Reach 10 ft./5 ft.; SQ darkvision 60 ft., favored enemy giants +2, wild empathy +5 (+1 magical beasts); AL NG; SV Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +7; Str 20, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Handle Animal +6, Heal +8, Hide -1, Jump +19, Listen +6, Move Silently +6, Ride +5, Spot +6, Survival +5; Dodge, Endurance[B], Rapid Shot[B], Track[B], Weapon Focus (hoof).

Favored Enemy (Ex): Phindal gains a +2 bonus on his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against giants. He gains the same bonus on weapon damage.

Possessions:Bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, +1 greatsword, +1 composite longbow (+5 Str bonus) with 20 arrows, potion of displacement, potion of cure moderate wounds, 2 potions of cure light wounds.

Phindal: Male centaur ranger 3/druid 3; CR 9; Large monstrous humanoid; HD 10d8+30; hp 75; Init +3; Spd 50 ft.; AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +9; Grp +18; Atk +14 melee (3d6+8/19-20, +1 greatsword) or +12 ranged (2d6+6/x3, +1 composite longbow [+5 Str bonus]); Full Atk +14/+9 melee (3d6+8/19-20, +1 greatsword) and +9 melee (1d6+2, 2 hooves) or +12/+7 ranged (2d6+6/x3, +1 composite longbow [+5 Str bonus]); Space/Reach 10 ft./5 ft.; SQ animal companion (riding dog, link, share spells), darkvision 60 ft., favored enemy giants +2, nature sense, trackless step, wild empathy +8 (+3 magical beasts), woodland stride; AL NG; SV Fort +12, Ref +15, Will +12; Str 20, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +6, Diplomacy +3, Handle Animal +6, Heal +8, Hide -1, Jump +19, Knowledge (nature) +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +6, Ride +5, Spot +6, Survival +10; Dodge, Endurance[B], Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Rapid Shot[B], Track[B], Weapon Focus (hoof).

Animal Companion (Ex): The companion's abilities and characteristics are summarized below. Phindal and Fang enjoy the link and share spells special qualities.

Link (Ex): Phindal can handle Fang as a free action. He also gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding Fang.

Share Spells (Ex): Phindal may have any spell he casts on himself also affect his animal companion if the latter is within 5 feet at the time. Phindal may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on Fang.

Fang: Female riding dog companion; CR --; Medium animal; HD 4d8+8; hp 26; Init +3; Spd 40 ft.; AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +3; Grp +6; Atk or Full Atk +6 melee (1d6+4, bite); SQ evasion, low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2; Str 16, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6.

Skills and Feats: Jump +11, Listen +5, Spot +5, Survival +3, Swim +4; Alertness, Track[B].

Evasion (Ex): If Fang is exposed to any effect that normally allows her to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, she takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Favored Enemy (Ex): Phindal gains a +2 bonus on his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against giants. He gains the same bonus on weapon damage.

Trackless Step (Ex): Phindal leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.

Woodland Stride (Ex): Phindal may move through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain at his normal speed and without damage or other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are magically manipulated to impede motion still affect him.

Druid Spells Prepared (caster level 3rd): 0 -- cure minor wounds, guidance, mending, resistance; 1st -- cure light wounds, magic fang, speak with animals; 2nd -- barkskin, summon swarm.

Possessions:Bracers of armor +2, ring of protection +2, +1 greatsword, +1 composite longbow (+5 Str bonus) with 20 arrows, cloak of resistance +2, potion of displacement, potion of cure moderate wounds, 2 potions of cure light wounds.

Tactics: Phindal would rather negotiate than fight, but he doesn't take well to threats or abuse. In battle, Phindal usually calls his dogs to keep the foe busy while he hangs back and uses his bow. The stable and surrounding courtyard offer plenty of space for Phindal to make ranged attacks, and he usually can use his speed to stay out of melee. If cornered, Phindal can deal considerable damage with his greatsword. (He's not afraid of melee combat, but he's acutely aware of his lack of Armor Class compared with his offensive capabilities.) If he thinks his opponents might be getting tired of the fight, he may try to grapple the most belligerent among them just to take that foe out of the battle while he tries to reopen negotiations.

Phindal and the Adventure Hooks: If the PCs should come to the stables looking for a polymorphed person, Phindal is willing to let them look over his stock (and the animals left in his charge). Phindal is as surprised as anyone if there turns out to be a polymorphed person in his care.

If the PCs are involved in the big race somehow, they find that Phindal is as nervous as a cat and very worried about security. He takes a dim view of any attempts to tamper with the horses in his care.

If the PCs should lose their mounts outside Phindal's business, the centaur is outraged; see Freely Given, below.

Lester and Lily: Male and female centaur warrior 1/expert 2; CR 6; Medium monstrous humanoid; HD 5d8+10 plus 2d6+4; hp 43; Init +3; Spd 50 ft.; AC 20, touch 13, flat-footed 17; Base Atk +6; Grp +10; Atk +11 melee (3d6+6/19-20, masterwork greatsword) or +10 ranged (2d6+4/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+4 Str bonus]); Full Atk +11/+6 melee (3d6+6/19-20, masterwork greatsword) and +6 melee (1d6+2, 2 hooves) or +10/+5 ranged (2d6+4/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+4 Str bonus]); Space/Reach 10 ft./5 ft.; SQ darkvision 60 ft.; AL NG; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +9; Str 18, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 11.

Skills and Feats: Craft (metalworking) +5, Handle Animal +7, Heal +8, Jump +12, Listen +9, Move Silently +9, Ride +5, Sense Motive +4, Spot +9, Survival +5; Dodge, Self-Sufficient, Weapon Focus (hoof).

Possessions:+1 studded leather armor, masterwork greatsword, masterwork composite longbow (+4 Str bonus) with 20 arrows, potion of aid, potion of cure moderate wounds, 2 potions of cure light wounds.

Tactics: Lester and Lily like to press the attack. They're capable archers, but they prefer to move in for melee attacks. They can call the stable dogs for help, and they do so at the first opportunity. They're aware of their superior speed, and once the dogs get into the fray, Lester and Lily break off to fire a few arrows, then close in again, usually in flanking positions.

Centaur Stablehands (2-8): hp 26 each, see Monster Manual, page 32.

Riding Dogs(4-12): hp 13 each, see Monster Manual, page 272.

Tactics: The stablehands and dogs take their lead from the person in charge of the stable at the time. Usually, a pair of dogs stays near the office, and they attack the nearest foe when a fight breaks out. If the centaur in charge calls for help, at least two more dogs join the fight after 1 or 2 rounds. At least two stablehands join in 1 or 2 rounds after that. The dogs simply attack the closest foes, but the centaurs try to match their leaders' tactics.

Freely Given

As noted in the Setup section, the PCs might encounter a con artist or two. If they don't pay attention, they could lose their mounts.

Brock, a halfling rogue, is the lead con artist. The halfling disguises himself as a human boy who runs to meet the PCs as they enter the courtyard.

"Mornin', good folk," says a cheerful-looking, towheaded boy. "Welcome to Phindal's, the best livery stable in the county. Can I take your horses?"

If the PCs agree, Brock gathers up the mounts' reins and leads them to the far end of the barn. He listens carefully to any instructions they give regarding the animals' care, but makes no specific promises, saying only "We aim to please."

"You can go on around the back to pay," calls the boy over his shoulder as he leads the mounts around the side of the barn. "The boss is back there taking care of a horse that threw a shoe."

The moment he's out of sight, Brock climbs aboard a mount and leads the string of animals out the side gate.

If the PCs walk around the back, they're confronted by a quartet of wildly barking dogs. Eventually, the PCs meet a mildly annoyed staff member who wonders what they are doing poking around the back lot.

The stable has no human staff members, so the centaurs are pretty quick to realize that the PCs have been had, but they become irritated if they're accused of complicity in the theft. Phindal might offer to take a dog or two and attempt to track the thief, but he won't agree to pay for the PCs' loss.

Creatures (EL 4-9): Brock may work alone or in league with Runnild, a dwarf cleric of Olidammara. Here are stats for Brock and Runnild at two different levels.

Brock: Male halfling rogue 4; CR 4; Small humanoid; HD 4d6; hp 14; Init +8; Spd 20 ft.; AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 20; Base Atk +3; Grp -2; Atk or Full Atk +4 melee (1d6-1/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +6 ranged (1d6-1, sling with masterwork bullet); SA sneak attack +2d6; SQ evasion, halfling traits, trap sense +1, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL CN; SV Fort +2, Ref +9, Will +2; Str 8, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 12.

Skills and Feats: Balance +6, Bluff +8, Climb +1, Diplomacy +3, Disguise +8, Escape Artist +11, Hide +15, Intimidate +3, Jump -3, Listen +9, Move Silently +13, Open Lock +11, Perform (oratory) +8, Sleight of Hand +13, Tumble +11; Dodge, Improved Initiative.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Brock deals 2d6 extra points of damage on any successful attack against flat-footed or flanked targets, or against a target that has been denied its Dexterity bonus for any reason. This damage also applies to ranged attacks against targets up to 30 feet away. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernible anatomies, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are all immune to sneak attacks. Brock may choose to deliver nonlethal damage with his sneak attack, but only when using a weapon designed for that purpose, such as a sap (blackjack).

Evasion (Ex): If Brock is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trapfinding (Ex): Brock can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap's DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Brock retains his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class even when flat-footed or targeted by an unseen foe (he still loses his Dexterity bonus if paralyzed or otherwise immobile).

Possessions:+1 studded leather armor, ring of protection +1, masterwork short sword, sling with 50 masterwork bullets.

Brock: Male halfling rogue 7; CR 7; Small humanoid; HD 7d6; hp 24; Init +8; Spd 20 ft.; AC 21, touch 16, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +5; Grp +0; Atk or Full Atk +6 melee (1d6-1/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +8 ranged (1d6-1, sling with masterwork sling bullet); SA sneak attack +4d6; SQ evasion, halfling traits, trap sense +2, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL CN; SV Fort +3, Ref +10, Will +3; Str 8, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 12.

Skills and Feats: Balance +8, Bluff +11, Climb +1, Diplomacy +3, Disguise +11, Escape Artist +16, Hide +18, Intimidate +3, Jump -3, Listen +12, Move Silently +16, Open Lock +14, Perform +11, Sleight of Hand +16, Tumble +14; Agile, Dodge, Improved Initiative.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Brock deals 4d6 extra points of damage on any successful attack against flat-footed or flanked targets, or against a target that has been denied its Dexterity bonus for any reason. This damage also applies to ranged attacks against targets up to 30 feet away. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernible anatomies, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are all immune to sneak attacks. Brock may choose to deliver nonlethal damage with his sneak attack, but only when using a weapon designed for that purpose, such as a sap (blackjack).

Evasion (Ex): If Brock is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trapfinding (Ex): Brock can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap's DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Brock retains his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class even when flat-footed or targeted by an unseen foe (he still loses his Dexterity bonus if paralyzed or otherwise immobile).

Possessions:+1 studded leather armor,amulet of natural armor +1,ring of protection +1, masterwork short sword, sling with 50 masterwork bullets.

Runnild: Female dwarf cleric 4; CR 4; Medium humanoid; HD 4d8+8; hp 26; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +3; Grp +3; Atk or Full Atk +4 melee (1d8, masterwork morningstar) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SA turn undead 3/day (+0, 2d6+1, 4th); SQ dwarf traits; AL CN; SV Fort +6* (+8* against poison), Ref +2*, Will +7*; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +3, Concentration +7, Diplomacy +3, Disguise +3, Hide +10, Jump -6, Move Silently +3; Spell Focus (enchantment), Stealthy.

Dwarf Traits: Runnild has stonecunning, which grants her a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework. If she merely comes within 10 feet of it, she can make a Search check as if actively searching. When standing on the ground, she is exceptionally stable and has a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped. She has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids and a +4 racial bonus to Armor Class against giants. Her race also gives her a +2 bonus on Appraise or Craft checks that are related to stone or metal items. *Runnild has a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.

Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 4th): 0 -- create water, detect magic, guidance, mending, resistance; 1st -- command (2, DC 15), disguise self*, divine favor, shield of faith; 2nd -- enthrall (DC 16), hold person (DC 16), invisibility*, silence (DC 15).

* Domain spell. Deity: Olidammara. Domains: Luck (reroll one die roll 1/day), Trickery (Bluff, Disguise, Hide are class skills).

Possessions: Masterwork studded leather armor, masterwork buckler, ring of protection +1, masterwork morningstar, masterwork light crossbow with 10 bolts, potion of fly, potion of haste, potion of misdirection, scroll of obscure object,wand ofcure light wounds (27 charges), 8 gp, 1 carnelian (50 gp).

Runnild: Female dwarf cleric 7; CR 7; Medium humanoid; HD 7d8+14; hp 45; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +5; Grp +5; Atk or Full Atk +6 melee (1d8, masterwork morningstar) or +7 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SA turn undead 3/day (+0, 2d6+4, 7th); SQ dwarf traits; AL CN; SV Fort +8* (+10* against poison), Ref +4*, Will +9*; Str 10, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +5, Concentration +8, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +5, Hide +13, Intimidate +2, Jump -6, Move Silently +3; Heighten Spell, Spell Focus (enchantment), Stealthy.

Dwarf Traits: Runnild has stonecunning, which grants her a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework. If she merely comes within 10 feet of it, she can make a Search check as if actively searching. When standing on the ground, she is exceptionally stable and has a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped. She has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids and a +4 racial bonus to Armor Class against giants. Her race also gives her a +2 bonus on Appraise or Craft checks that are related to stone or metal items. *Runnild has a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.

Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 7th): 0 -- create water, cure minor wounds, detect magic, guidance, mending, resistance; 1st -- bless, disguise self*, entropic shield, magic weapon, sanctuary (DC 12), shield of faith; 2nd -- enthrall (DC 16), hold person (DC 16), invisibility*, silence (DC 15), sound burst (DC 15); 3rd -- dispel magic, heightened command (2, DC 17), nondetection*; 4th -- confusion* (DC 18), divine power.

* Domain spell. Deity: Olidammara. Domains: Luck (reroll one die roll 1/day), Trickery (Bluff, Disguise, Hide are class skills).

Possessions:+1 studded leather armor, masterwork buckler, ring of protection +1, masterwork morningstar, masterwork light crossbow with 10 bolts, cloak of resistance +1,potion of fly, potion of haste, potion of misdirection, scroll of obscure object,wand of cure light wounds (33 charges), 3 pp, 16 gp, 1 jasper (50 gp), 1 deep green spinel (100 gp).

Tactics: Brock has been working his away across the country, conning people out of their mounts outside inns and livery stables, mostly for his own amusement, but also for the money. If found out, he is likely to spar with the party for a while; he uses his Tumble skill to move around and attack in unexpected places. If he has Runnild to help him, he looks for chances to get into flanking positions so he can make sneak attacks (though he might manage some on his own by feinting in combat).

If Runnild is present, she initially poses as a fellow traveler. She gladly hands over her mount (a stolen light warhorse) and wanders toward the back of the stable, where she casts an invisibility spell, then rejoins Brock.

In a fight, Runnild does her best help Brock set up sneak attacks. She uses her command spells to discomfort the party. She uses silence to break up enemy spellcasting, and hold person against the most physically imposing PC.

If the characters catch up with Brock and Runnild after their horses have been stolen, the two protest their innocence to any and all who happen to be nearby. Since they frequent towns and cities more than the wilderness, any confrontation is likely to occur in front of dozens of witnesses.

"These fine folks gave us these horses of their own free will," insists the boy loudly. "I asked for them straight up, no fooling, and they said I could take 'em. Those were the exact words, I swear! Now they come after me claimin' we cheated 'em. They're probably members of some rustling ring, giving horses away for free just to seed herds so they can claim the whole lot later on. Either that or they're plain stupid."

Most listeners are inclined to agree with the latter sentiment and let the PCs bear the results of their own lack of judgment. Should the characters become violent, Brock calls for the constabulary and tries to have them arrested. If possible, he slips away before any trial; otherwise, he sticks to his story that the horses were freely given to him.

Whatever the results of the PCs' efforts to reclaim their mounts, Phindal posts a picture of Brock drawn from the PCs' descriptions with a "horse thief" caption to warn future patrons of the halfling's duplicity.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and has just completed an 18-year run as the Sage for Dragon Magazine. 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 (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends).

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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