Cliffhangers Adventures

The Proper Count
Episode Four: Final Reflections
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. On their way to the lighthouse, they encountered the "sea serpent" the villagers had seen, 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. Further investigation revealed that Perri was researching a powerful mage, though the reason remained a mystery. In this installment, the PCs find Perri and discover whether the ancient war mage Silas Enger is actually dead.

Area 5

A terrible smell greets you as you open the door to this area. Only alchemy could generate such foul odors, and the array of glass tubes, containers, and small, controlled fires in the chamber attests that this alchemical lab is quite active.

This is Perri's alchemical lab. In this room he concocts his elixers and identifies potions for passing adventurers. A successful Search check (DC 15) reveals five magic potions: fire breath, heroism, lesser restoration, reduce and sneaking. Any character whose Search check result is 20 or better also finds a broken beaker labeled "Danger! Ooze! Do Not Break!"

Even to those skilled in alchemy or the magic arts, it is unclear what Perri was working on when he last left the lab.

Area 4

Whatever was in this room has been smashed beyond recognition. Bits of wood, glass, and stone are scattered throughout the chamber.

A successful Search check (DC 20) reveals footprints through the rubble. A character with the Track feat can follow these prints with a successful Wilderness Lore check (DC 22). They lead to Area 3.

Area 3

Six large iron chests hug the curved outer wall of this chamber. A seventh chest stands in the center of the room. Hunched over it, manipulating the lock, is a hooded man with leathery, white wings protruding from tailored holes in a large gray cloak. He has smooth, cream-colored skin, bare feet, and a strange, almost peachlike odor about him. At your intrusion, he stops what he was doing and turns to face you.

The man is the lost sorcerer Silas Enger, now dreadfully transformed into a half-fiend/half-medusa. Years ago, as an up-and-coming power in the Duchy of Urnst, the young human decided to make a bid for rulership. Deciding that he needed extra personal might to pull it off, he made a secret pact with a devil for support. But he was betrayed, and the devil took his due, laying upon Silas a dreadful curse that transformed him into his current form and stripped him of his sorcerer abilities. Upon learning of Perri's investigations, he came to the lighthouse to find out why the gnome was so interested in him and whether, as an exceptionally talented alchemist, he might be able to help Silas regain his sorcerer abilities.

Perri saw Silas flying toward the lighthouse and, having no means to escape, cast dispel magic into the light room, hoping to deter or delay the monster's approach. Then he hid in one of the chests in this chamber.

Silas had tracked Perri here and was about to open the chest when the PCs arrived. Not wanting to let anything jeopardize his capture of Perri, Silas attacked them immediately.

Silas Enger, Half-Fiend/Half-Medusa: CR 10; Medium-size Outsider; HD 7d8+14; hp 50; Init +4; Spd 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (average); AC 18 (touch 14, flat-footed 14); Atk +9 melee (1d4+2, 2 claws) and +4 melee (1d6+1, bite) and +6 melee (1d4+1 and poison, snakes); or +11/+6 ranged (1d6/x3, shortbow); SA petrifying gaze, poison, spell-like abilities; SQ darkvision 60 ft., acid, cold, electricity, and fire resistance 20, poison immunity; AL LE; SV Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +6; Str 14, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 17.

Skills: Bluff +13, Diplomacy +11, Disguise +13, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (local) +8, Listen +6, Move Silently +13, Sense Motive +6, Spot +11. Feats: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse (snakes).

SA -- Petrifying gaze (Su): turn to stone permanently, 30 feet, Fortitude save (DC 16).

SA -- Poison (Ex): from snakes, Fortitude save (DC 15), initial damage 1d6 temporary Strength, secondary damage 2d6 temporary Strength.

SA -- Spell-like Abilities: 3/day -- darkness, poison, 1/day -- desecrate, unholy blight (both as 7th-level cleric).

Possessions: Cloak of minor displacement (specially fitted to allow wing function), ring of counterspells (hold monster), ring of evasion, shortbow, 10 arrows.

Tactics: Silas tries to turn as many PCs as he can to stone before joining melee, and he uses his gaze attack during battle as well. If he fails to turn half the PCs into stone and sustains more than 35 points of damage, he attempts to flee.

The Chests: The chest that Silas was trying to open is the one that contains Perri. The other six chests contain coins and gems worth 30,000 gp collectively. Each is locked with a sturdy iron lock (pick DC 20; hardness 15, 25 hp).

Area 2

The main feature of this area is a stairway leading up to the mirrors of the lighthouse (Area 1).

Area 1

Atop the lighthouse is a fantastic array of mirrors and large crystal lenses. A 2-foot-diameter silver mirror with a continual flame torch at its center dominates the array. Another magical aura visibly crisscrosses the array and is reflected in seemingly random directions as the assembly slowly turns. This aura becomes invisible outside the glass case of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse uses a magical silver mirror to project its continual flame light, as well as the dispel magic ray that affected the PCs on their way to the lighthouse. Using his alchemical expertise, Perri has coated the mirrors with a material capable of catching, reflecting, and projecting specific magical energy -- in this case, dispel magic and light effects. He has made the development of this material his life's work, but thus far, light and dispel magic are the only two spells for which Perri has perfected a coating.

The Proper Count

Once Perri is safe, he dismantles his light room assembly and uses the silver mirror he has packed away (in Area 15) instead, believing that the magical array was what attracted Silas in the first place. Then he completes the count and awards the trident to the appropriate village (DM's choice). Regardless of which one wins, both villages treat the PCs as honored guests from now on. The two mayors invite the characters to return for next year's competition, which promises to be as every bit as exciting as this year's.

Continuing the Adventure

There are a number of areas the DM can exploit for future adventures.

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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