Cliffhangers Adventures

The Horror of Lannock Hill
Episode 4: Warts and All
by Tom Kristensen

The Horror of Lannock Hill is a short adventure for four 10th-level characters. The party may consist of any mix of classes, although at least one member of the party should be capable of handling a difficult melee combat. The adventure is pretty straightforward, and it should provide a good challenge for characters from 8th to 10th level. It can be set in any campaign world.

Adventure Background

In the previous installments, the party members encountered a wounded monk and went to the monastery to see if they could determine what might have happened there. Arriving at the compound, they were treated to a scene of massive carnage and attacked by some scavenging carrion crawlers. Dispatching the crawlers, the party attempted to enter the upper level, but was met by the ferocious attack of a pair of blue slaadi that came hurtling down the stairs and crashed headlong into the group. A furious melee ensued, with the characters emerging triumphant, if a bit bruised and bloodied.

Frogs -- I Hate Frogs!

Z’xor, the gray slaad who led the destruction of the monastery, stands in the back of the room in humanoid form, hiding in the shadows of the bookcases and overturned desks. If the slaadi heard the characters fighting the carrion crawlers in episode two, Z'xor has cast invisibility on himself and moved to the back of the room. Even if the characters can see invisible objects, detecting the stealthy slaad requires a Spot check opposed by Z'xor's Hide check.

Z'xor is aware of the character's arrival if they have already fought the blue slaadi. If a character sneaks into the room, Z'xor must make a Spot check opposed by the character's Hide check to see the intruder. Once Z’xor sees the characters, he casts power word, blind on as many characters as he can target at the top of the stairs. He then casts deeper darkness and plots his next move from the relative safety of darkness. Z'xor's preferred tactic is to remain hidden or invisible and cast animate objects on the furniture in the room.

He uses his spell-like abilities to attack the party from a distance. If pressed into melee by an obviously formidable group, Z'xor uses his +2 longsword defensively and tries to escape; he attempts to flee out one of the shattered windows by means of his fly ability. If escape is not possible, he will attempt to summon some red or blue slaadi allies and make his exit from the scene once the party is engaged with the newcomers.

If Z’xor escapes, he could always pop up in a future adventure -- every party needs some nasty antagonist to reappear from time to time, keeping them from becoming bored or complacent.

Once the characters have either defeated or driven off Z’xor, and taken the time to search the place, they will find little of value (aside from Z’xor’s belongings) in the ruins of the monastery. Of course, sages and lore experts would find the collection of books, tomes, and scrolls to be of great interest, but it would require quite a few wagons to haul them away. And of course the local lord could always make an appearance and discourage the looting of the monastery if need be.

A DC 20 Search check reveals the one book useful to the party (and to the injured monk from episode one). It is titled Creatures of Limbo, a rather thorough treatise on the slaad race. A section under the blue slaadi chapter makes note of a transforming disease via the bite attack. This text provides a +2 circumstance bonus to Heal checks made to fight the disease's effects and alerts those who read it to the possibility of contracting the disease from the blue slaad.

Z'xor: gray slaad; CR 10; Medium-size outsider; HD 10d8+30; hp 75; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 22 (touch 11, flat-footed 21); Atk +14 melee (2d4+4, 2 claws), +12 melee (2d8+2, bite); or +16/ +11 melee (1d8+8/19–20/x2, +2 longsword); SA Alternate Form, spell-like abilities, Summon slaad; SQ outsider traits; AL N; SV Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +11; Str 19, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14.

Skills and Feats: Climb +15, Hide +14, Jump +17, Knowledge (arcana) +13, Listen +15, Move Silently +14, Search +15, Spot +15; Multiattack, Craft Wondrous Item, Craft Arms & Armor.

Possessions: +2 longsword, cloak of resistance +2, dusty rose ioun stone, chime of opening (50 charges), potion of bull's strength, potion of endurance, potion of cure serious wounds, gold necklace worth 450 gp.

Alternate Form (Su): A gray slaad can shift between its natural and any humanoind form at will as a standard action. A gray slaad remains in humanoid form indefinitely. The ability is otherwise similar to polymorph self cast by a 10th-level sorcerer.

Spell-like Abilities (Sp): (At will -- animate objects, chaos hammer, deeper darkness, detect magic, dispel law, fly, identiy, invisibility, lightning bolt, magic circle against law, see invisibility, shatter, power word blind. These abilites are as the spells cast by a 15th-level sorcerer.)

Summon Slaad (Sp): Twice per day a gray slaad can attempt to summon 1-2 red slaadi or 1 blue slaad with a 40% chance of success or 1 green slaad with a 20% chance of success.

Outsider Traits: Darkvision 60 ft.; cannot be raised or resurrected (though a wish or miracle spell can restore life).

The Cliffhanger

With the slaadi vanquished or driven off, the characters can return to town to clean up and wash the stench of death away in a nice, hot bath - compliments of the house. If the party members have found and read the book Creatures of Limbo then they will know to cast remove disease or to treat the monk and others bitten by the blue slaadi, lest they turn into a red slaad and begin the carnage anew.

About the Author

Tom Kristensen is an editor on the D&D Worlds team at Wizards of the Coast. He lives on the east side of Lake Washington with his wife, daughter, and three cats. He has played D&D for more than 20 years with the same group of guys, and he has an embarrassingly large collection of unpainted miniatures that he keeps promising his fellow gamers he'll paint -- one of these days.


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