Oakheart Lodge contains an encounter of level 6-8
Oakheart Lodge appears to be nothing more than a charming hunting lodge, newly built and ready to host a weary traveler or a party of fun-seeking nobility. Still the lodge has a reputation for being a perilous house to visit. Perhaps it is a place best avoided, or perhaps its secrets are well worth plumbing.
Background for the DM
The lodge appeared in its clearing almost overnight, like a mushroom in the fall. A young nobleman, Enikki du Orinwood, had the place built. Enikki is a half-elf and a member of a minor noble family that is well entangled in the human politics in the region where Enikki lives. He is the product of a diplomatic marriage that helped cement ties between the du Orinwoods and the local elven nobility. Enikki spent most of his early years being groomed for life in both human and elven courts, but he always had a yearning to return to nature. Upon the death of his human parent (the DM is free to decide whether that was his mother or his father), Enikki received a modest inheritance, which he promptly spent on the lodge.
Oakheart Lodge is Enikki's retreat from court life, and the young nobleman has settled in for a long stay -- a vacation of sorts.
Oakheart Lodge was built for hunting, so DMs can place it anywhere wild game can be found. Most likely, it's in a deep forest, but it also could be located in a hilly or mountainous region, or perhaps on a riverbank or in an area of badlands. In any case, tall trees surround the lodge's site.
The lodge has been deliberately built off the beaten track, though it is most likely within a day's ride of a human town or an elven settlement with a population of 2,000 or less. (The town should be big enough to provide basic supplies, but not so big that the surrounding area is overrun with people.) Unless the PCs are hunting or searching for something else in the vicinity, they aren't likely to stumble on the lodge by accident (but it's possible, especially if the PCs become lost while traveling in the wilderness).
More likely, some task or rumor will draw the PCs to the lodge's neighborhood. Here are some possibilities:
This is nothing but a wild rumor spurred by the lodge's rapid construction -- and Enikki's bad habit of shooting at anything that moves (see below). If the PCs ask around, they can find some local workers who helped build the lodge. The workers most likely encourage the PCs to pay "the young lord" a visit, but perhaps they don't warn them about Enikki's overzealous hunting.
This one could be true, or it could just be a wild rumor. In the former case, Enikki is happy to hunt undead; he's also more than happy to help the PCs delve beneath the lodge and destroy the undead or put them to rest again.
Visiting the Lodge (EL 6-8)
The lodge is a picture of bucolic elegance -- at least until Enikki begins shooting.
The clearing is 200 yards across, with the lodge roughly in the middle. The grass provides partial concealment (20% miss chance) if the viewer must look through 10 to 20 feet of grass, and total concealment beyond 20 feet.
Enikki maintains blinds in four trees around the lodge. Creatures moving through the grass have a partial concealment (20% miss chance) at best when viewed from a blind, and no concealment at all when within 50 feet of one.
The blinds have walls made from wooden slats spaced to let Enikki shoot out. The blind gives anyone in it total concealment (50% miss chance) as well as cover (+4 AC bonus), against anyone outside the blind. A character in the blind can be seen as a dim outline from outside the blind, so the character isn't exactly invisible, but the viewer cannot clearly see the character, hence the miss chance.
It's possible to hide in the blind. The character inside makes a normal Hide check and anyone viewing the blind makes a Spot check (with appropriate penalties for distance) to notice the hidden character. A successful Spot check reveals the hidden character's outline, but does not really see the character noted above.
Blind Walls: 2 in. thick; hardness 5; hp 20; break DC 16.
Creatures: Enikki spends most of his time within one of the blinds, watching for game to shoot. At any given time, up to five servants (all 1st-level elf warriors) may be in the lodge, or it may have no servants at all.
Elven warriors (0-5): hp 4 each; see Monster Manual page 102.
Tactics: As noted earlier, Enikki spends most of his time in one of the tree blinds, hiding and waiting for prey. Unfortunately, Enikki is an overeager hunter, and he often doesn't wait to be sure what he's shooting at. (He has injured several servants already -- a fact that explains why the lodge occasionally has problems with help.) If Enikki has difficulty hitting, he uses his arrows of true aim. Should a foe yell or shoot back, the young half-elf breaks off the attack and apologizes profusely. Should a foe counterattack, Enikki fights back as well as he can. He prefers his bow, so he tends to shoot at spellcasters and foes with ranged weapons before shooting at others.
Once Enikki begins firing at what he thinks is a target (namely, anything that disturbs the vegetation even slightly or makes a noise), he continues until a shout or attack warns him that he's not shooting at an animal. In that case, he stops immediately and attempts to apologize to the injured character.
Enikki truly intends to go back to the lodge and get supplies to see to the injured character, but he gets distracted along the way and begins shooting at some other real or imagined creature unless someone goes with him. If not, he forgets about the incident and is surprised (and pleased) to see the PCs if they track him down or visit the lodge.
Weapon of True Aim
The true aim property can be applied to any ammunition or ranged weapon. A true aim weapon literally homes in on its target.
Description: True aim weapons look much like their normal counterparts, though they may sport some kind of telltale decoration. For example, true aim ammunition often has feathers from giant eagles or giant owls, and a true aim bow or crossbow might feature a pair of eyes.
Activation: The true aim property is activated when you fire the weapon.
Effect: When a character firing a true aim weapon misses because of concealment, the weapon allows the shooter to reroll the percentile dice one time to determine whether the shot actually hits. A true aim weapon also grants an additional +1 enhancement bonus (over and above whatever the weapon's basic enhancement happens to be) on attack rolls whenever the target has cover. A target with total cover remains impossible to hit, however.
Aura/Caster Level: Moderate divination, CL 7th.
About the Authors
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. 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) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.
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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