Over the Edge
Episode Three: Once More Unto the Breach
By Will McDermott
Over the Edge is a short adventure for four 9th-level characters. In the first part of the adventure, the characters were hired to investigate manticore attacks on a trade route through the Lortmil Mountains and fought off bandits attacking a merchant caravan. In Episode Two, they encountered two hill giants guarding a bridge over a chasm -- a chasm with the scraping sound of something now climbing its way out. . . .
An Unexpected Ally
After dispatching Geet and Gern (the hill giant bridge guards), the group hears ominous scratching noises echoing in the chasm. A Listen check (DC 20) identifies the sounds as someone (or something) climbing up the cliff face. A voice calls out, "A little help, please?"
The climber is Finglos, the lone survivor of the previous adventuring party sent into the mountains by the Tringlee merchants. He appears friendly and continues to ask for help or a rope (if the characters have not already helped him), telling them that he's been hiding in the manticore's cave below for two weeks waiting for a chance to escape.
Finglos: Male human Rog9; CR 9; Medium-size humanoid; 42 hp; Init +4; Spd 60 ft.; AC 18 (touch 15, flat-footed 18); Atk +11 melee (1d6+5/18-20/x 2 crit, +1 rapier); SQ Evasion, Uncanny Dodge (Dex bonus to AC, can't be flanked), Sneak Attack +5d6; AL CN; SV Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +2; Str 18, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 9, Cha 11.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +12, Climb +16, Craft (traps) +7, Disable Device +7, Hide +16, Jump +20, Listen +11, Move Silently +11, Open Lock +10, Search +13, Spot +11, Tumble +16; Cleave, Dodge, Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack.
Possessions: +1 rapier, +1 studded leather armor, 2 potions of darkvision, boots of striding and springing, thieves tools, silk rope (100 ft.).
Finglos has actually been a captive of Kardrako for several weeks and is currently under the effects of Kardrako's charm person spell. A Sense Motive check (DC 25) detects the presence of the enchantment, as does a successful detect magic spell cast upon Finglos. Unless the charm person is dispelled, Finglos tells the group that the entrance to the manticore cave is some 200 feet down the cliff face and that with the group's help he can finally avenge the deaths of his comrades. Further, Finglos informs the characters that the manticores are currently out hunting and that he knows of a perfect spot inside the cave to ambush them upon their return. He explains that fighting the manticores in the open would prove suicidal because the beasts stay aloft at great range and fire spikes from their tails.
In reality, Finglos is trying to lure the characters into the cave to face Kardrako. Kardrako's charm person spell lasts only three hours, so Finglos has explicit instructions to return at the end of two hours. Should the heroes hesitate or wish to rest until morning before venturing down the cliff face, Finglos pleads with them: Now is the best opportunity he will get to destroy the creatures that killed his friends. If his entreaties fail, he attempts to climb back down the cliff face, saying that he will face the monsters alone if that's what it takes.
Encounter 3: Cliff Attack!
Unbeknownst to Finglos, once he and the characters begin their descent to the cave, the manticores attack per Kardrakos orders. If Finglos returns alone or doesn't return at all, the manticores wait until the PCs begin their descent (waiting until the next day if necessary).
Once the group gets halfway between the top of the cliff and the cave entrance (100 feet down from the top), four manticores fly out from behind outcroppings to either side of the characters and attack.
Manticores (4): CR 5, 57 hp; see the Monster Manual, page 130.
Tactics: Unless engaged in melee by flying characters, the manticores exhaust their spikes (6 per round each for 4 rounds) before closing to attack with their claws and teeth. If the characters are clinging to a rope, one manticore flies up to the top, lands, and attempts to chew through the rope.
After defeating the manticores, the characters reach the cave entrance without further attacks. Read or paraphrase the following text:
|The cave entrance is nothing more than a large gash cut into the side of the cliff. The narrowness of the chasm prevents the sun's rays from penetrating very far into the opening at any time of day, so the cave becomes pitch black after 20 feet. "There are at least five more manticores," Finglos says. "Come, we must get to the ambush spot quickly." He then quaffs a potion and races off into the darkness.|
About the Author
Before moving to the Online Media department at Wizards of the Coast, Will McDermott was editor in chief of TopDeck magazine and, before that, The Duelist. Will has written strategy guides for both Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon TCGs, and is currently writing a Magic: The Gathering novel.