Cliffhangers Adventures

The Proper Count
Episode Three: Clues
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).

Adventure Background

In the previous installments, 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. After defeating the creatures, the PCs entered Perri's home, a lighthouse that emits a strange dispelling ray. There they battled an ochre jelly and discovered a clue to Perri's whereabouts. In this episode, the PCs continue to explore the lighthouse, hoping to rescue Perri from whatever it is that threatens him.

Area 10

Tables piled high with stacks of ledgers dominate this room. Hugging the outer wall are curved bookcases filled to capacity with books and ledgers.

This is Perri's record room, where he conducts the official fish counts for the annual judging. Any villagers who have come here with the PCs are very interested in finding this year's ledger. A successful Search check (DC 15) is required to locate the correct book.

The ledger reveals that the count is not yet complete, and that the two villages were roughly equivalent in fish production at the point where Perri left off. If members of both villages are present, they immediately begin arguing about which village is winning. If the PCs leave them alone here, the dispute escalates from words to blows. The DM should determine randomly which villager is victorious in a fistfight, should the PCs fail to intervene.

Area 9

Perri keeps the trident trophy here, in an unlocked glass cabinet trimmed with fine wood. The trident is 2 feet long and made of silver, with ornamentation that resembles waves. It is worth 5,000 gp on the open market, though its reputation and significance would make selling it in this area extremely difficult.

The room also contains the records of all previous competitions and the fish counts for each. Any character wishing to examine the records carefully may attempt a Search check (DC 15) to discover two interesting facts. One is that Hurmstown has won the trident more often than Rolling Rocks; the other is that the overall catches in both villages have been decreasing over the past few years. (The DM is free to decide the reason for the decline in fish population and use it as a hook for future adventures.)

Area 8

One of Perri's hobbies is carpentry, and he has built most of the furniture in the lighthouse himself. This room is his workshop, where he stores his woodworking tools and supplies as well as his unfinished projects, which include tables, chairs, cabinets, and curved bookshelves. All of these items are small enough to be used effectively by a gnome. A successful Craft (carpentry) skill check (DC 10) reveals that Perri works only in very expensive woods and has masterwork tools. The items he's built are likewise of high quality.

A successful Search check (DC 15) reveals a book under a pile of discarded wood scraps. This volume is a treatise on building wooden siege engines. A quick perusal of the notes Perri has scribbled in the margins reveals that he must have been trying to figure out a method of defending his lighthouse from siege engines. This is a curious notion, since no siege engine the PCs have ever heard of has enough range to threaten the lighthouse from the shore, and no one knows of a siege engine that can be mounted on a boat.

A second successful Search check (DC 20) reveals a hand crossbow, apparently discarded, in the northeast corner of the room. It is loaded with a bolt tipped with poison -- the result of one of Perri's early experiments as an alchemist. The mixture is functionally equivalent to sassone leaf residue (contact poison DC 16, initial damage 2d12 hp, secondary damage 1d6 Con). Though this weapon is an unusual one for a gnome to own, Perri purchased it with the intention of using it as part of an elaborate trap for this room. Eventually, however, he decided against that and forgot about the whole idea. The hand crossbow is the only actual weapon in the lighthouse, but Perri didn't have time to get to it before the events that resulted in his disappearance.

Area 7

On a small table in the center of this room stands a wooden scale model of Perri's lighthouse, complete with the small bit of land upon which it rests. A tiny longboat is tied to the dock outside it. Around the model are a dozen or so maps, all spread out.

The maps depict the Duchy of Urnst. In addition to major geographic features, they detail the locations of the duchy's various natural resources and the wildlife, including monsters, near each resource. The notes that Perri has scribbled on the maps indicate that he was planning a trip to secure all manner of woods and ores from the duchy. The documents are not dated, so there is no indication of whether this was a trip he was planning to take in the future, or one that he took years ago. A successful Knowledge (local) check (DC 20) shows that some of the maps are quite old and incorrect in spots, while others are brand new and very accurate.

Area 6

This room is another of Perri's libraries, complete with curved wooden shelves along the outer wall. The books here cover many topics, but one common theme among them is the history of the land that is now called the Duchy of Urnst. These volumes contain considerable detail about the area's history, and some even advance theories on how it was first settled by intelligent beings thousands of years ago.

The room's other furnishings consist of a single chair and a table stacked with books and notes about political figures of the kingdom.

The Cliffhanger

A successful Search check (DC 20) of the books and notes on the table reveals that Perri was very interested in a sorcerer named Silas Enger -- a human who served as a war mage during some of the duchy's many battles. Detailed perusal of Perri's notes makes it clear that the gnome was trying not only to trace the origins of this Silas, but also to determine his ultimate fate. Not one of the books or documents here makes any mention of his death. . . .

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.


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