Episode Two: Boiling Over
By Eric Haddock
The Proper Count is a short adventure for four 7th-level characters. The party may consist of any mix of classes, but since the events here are sequential with no built-in breaks for recuperation, a cleric may be very useful. This scenario should prove a reasonable challenge for characters from 6th to 8th level. The adventure is set on the eastern coast of the Greyhawk campaign setting, but you could place it in almost any area where coastal fishing villages abound. Print out the map from the January Map-A-Week archive (the "Lighthouse" map).
In the previous installment, the PCs learned about the mysterious disappearance of Perri, a reclusive gnome who lives in a lighthouse. The local villagers feared that the sea serpent they had seen lately in the waters near the shore might have eaten him. On their way to the lighthouse, the PCs encountered this "sea serpent," which turned out to be a pair of tojanidas in pursuit of their favorite food. With that threat neutralized, the PCs are now in a position to investigate the lighthouse and find out why a dispel magic ray issues from its giant mirror.
The lighthouse is well maintained and looks like it even has a fresh coat of paint. (In fact it does, as Perri paints it just prior to the celebration every year.) The structure consists of four levels connected by a central spiral staircase. The exterior walls are stone, but the interior walls, floors, and ceilings (all 7 feet high) are made of wood. Unless otherwise noted, the doors within the lighthouse are made of stout wood (hardness 5, 20hp, DC 23 to break open). The lighthouse is lit throughout with continual flame torches.
Entering the Lighthouse
Once they reach the island, the PCs can tie up their boat at the spindly dock and clamber up the narrow path through the rocks to the entrance -- a door that opens onto Area 13. Since the map numbers the rooms from the top down, but the PCs are likely to explore the lighthouse from the bottom up, the descriptions of the rooms are presented in reverse order.
Perri uses this room to store both food and supplies for maintaining the lighthouse. Several buckets lined with dried white paint are stacked along one wall -- more evidence that he has recently painted the exterior of the building. The most valuable item in this chamber is a 2-foot-diameter concave mirror made of highly polished silver, which is worth 10,000 gp. This item is securely packed in a small, unlabeled shipping crate. Any PC who makes a successful Search check (DC 20) discovers the crate containing the mirror.
This chamber is where Perri stores his all-weather gear, including the jacket and boots he always puts on before setting out in his boat. All of his gear is still here, implying that Perri either has not left his lighthouse, or has done so without putting on the proper clothes.
This room is a well appointed waiting area furnished with plush chairs and nice wooden tables, as well as an ornate coal stove for heat. The room is quite cold, as the stove is not lit. On one of the tables are various unused smoking tools, including cigar cutters and the like.
Perri receives all his visitors in this chamber. Either or both of the village mayors, if present, inform the PCs that this is where Perri accepts the silver trident each year prior to beginning the count. As the gnome has always been reclusive and somewhat mysterious, he has never invited villagers into any other room in the lighthouse.
In this small dining room stands a cabinet filled with fine china, plus four chairs and a small, but very nice table.
In one of the drawers of the china cabinet is a set of silverware worth 15 gp. This silver is an heirloom passed down through Perri's family for generations. If Perri survives the adventure and discovers any of it missing, he assumes that the PCs have taken it and refuses to have any future dealings with them unless they can prove otherwise. Returning the silver after the fact does not alter his attitude.
Two ovens dominate this large room, which is obviously the kitchen. Over a firepit in the center of the room hangs a large iron kettle supported by a wrought-iron tripod. Though there is no fire in the pit now, something dark and yellow apparently boiled over from the kettle recently, because a mass of thick goo hangs over the kettle's lip. After a moment, you realize that despite the lack of a fire, the boilover is still going on -- the yellow goo is pouring out of the cold kettle and onto the floor.
The "boilover" is actually an ochre jelly that is oozing out of the kettle it now calls home to attack the party.
Ochre jelly: hp 66; see Monster Manual page 145.
Once the PCs defeat the ochre jelly, they can examine the chamber. At the bottom of the kettle is a signet ring that any villager present recognizes as Perri's. Any character who specifically looks in the kettle finds it automatically; otherwise it can be found with a successful Search check (DC 10) of the area.
The ring is a valued personal possession of Perri's, and as such it grants a +8 bonus on Scry checks for anyone who attempts to find the gnome with a scrying spell. On a successful attempt, the sensor reveals only pitch darkness and the sound of breathing. If the caster also employs darkvision, he or she can see that Perri is alive and unharmed, but confined in a very close, dark space. A few additional minutes of scrying reveal that he's hiding in what seems to be a large trunk and looks very afraid. He doesn't have any weapons with him and the trunk is otherwise empty.
About the Author
Eric Haddock is a former Assistant Editor for Dragon magazine. Through his various campaigns, he has developed a loyal following of players and an exceptional talent for surprise endings.