Three: Dangerous Waters
By Duane Maxwell
Water is a short Forgotten Realms adventure for four 12th-level
characters. The party may consist of any mix of classes. The adventure
is a reasonable challenge for 10th- to 12th-level characters and may be
set in any campaign world. In the Forgotten Realms setting, the
adventure takes place on the western edge of the Marsh of Chelimber, but
any marshy area with a small farming village nearby serves well as an
first and second episode, the party met the inhabitants of Eckersley Manor,
a small town on the edge of a marsh. Talking to the villagers, the party
learned that recent raids on the village might be the work of some swamp
predator. Hearing conflicting reports about what sort of predator might
be lurking in the swamps, the PCs continue their short investigation in
this third episode and then head into the swamp.
Really Going On
The hunters who
invaded the sod house (see Episode 2) encountered its owner: an ogre
named Krain. The ogre tore two of them to pieces, injured the third,
and let him crawl back to where he came from as a message for the other
villagers. Krain was angry, and he meant to make them pay for violating
his home and trying to steal from him. Unfortunately for the villagers
on the western edge of the Marsh, Krain is no ordinary ogre. He is the
spawn of an ogre and some fiendish creature of the lower planes. He
chose to make his home in the Marsh mostly to be left alone. He is a
mercenary who has made numerous enemies over the years. Jis home in
the Marsh serves as a refuge where he can find a bit of peace. He lives
near enough a secondary trade route that he can maintain contact from
time to time with various agents. Every so often, he is gone for months
at a time, serving in some army somewhere. Although his outlook and
ways are evil, he is willing to live in relative peace here in the Marsh.
After making an example of a few lizardfolk intruders a few years ago,
other creatures in the Marsh have not bothered him. The villagers at
the edge of the Marsh didn't disturb him much either after he scared
a few of them off.
With the invasion
of his home, however, his patience has come to an end. He is aware of
the enmity between the two villages, so he set about getting them to
kill one another off. He began raiding outlying farms, capturing or
killing livestock, destroying equipment, and so on. In each attack,
he was careful to leave some evidence of other people's involvement.
He doesn't know very many details about either of the two villages,
so he made most of these signs simple: tracks leading back to one of
the two villages, one community's livestock found in the possession
of the other community, and so on. As he himself leaves no tracks, it
was easy to hide his involvement.
someone discovered him. On a moonless night, he raided the farm of Goodman
Flint. Flint's boy woke up and shouted out a warning before Krain could
slip away. If the villagers thought there was some sort of creature
stirring up trouble for them, they'd arm themselves for a hunt or try
to convince some other authority to bring in professional bounty hunters.
He didn't want to have to deal with those who would eventually come,
so he made a split-second decision to silence the family. He killed
all three within the space of a few heartbeats, and made it look like
the villagers of Hunter's Landing butchered them.
The reaction of
the folk of Eckersley Manor meant that his ruse succeeded. With the
happenstance arrival of the heroes, however, that may change. Krain
is only aware that the heroes have arrived later in the night that they
arrive. He comes to see if Eckersley Manor has attacked Hunter's Landing
yet, and he spots the heroes' horses in the corral. He retreats to the
Marsh to prepare a few defenses should they be bounty hunters or others
who might come after him. Then he waits, choosing to fight on his ground
rather than theirs.
The Marsh of Chelimber
is a low area fed by the runoff of surrounding mountains. It is the
site of a small kingdom from around the time of Waterdeep's early days,
but since then has been home mostly to lizardfolk and other reptilian
creatures. Most of it is water, although there are many islands dotting
the Marsh. Willows and other water-loving trees abound in the area,
and there is abundant undergrowth, mostly vines, creepers, and so on.
Along the edges of the Marsh there are trails through the undergrowth,
but to navigate them successfully requires a local guide. The swamp
trails have many dead ends and switchbacks, and it is easy to get lost
in the maze of vegetation. Most people traveling through the Marsh do
so by flat-bottomed boat.
The Marsh teems
with life. There are all sorts of creatures native to such terrain,
as well as some unnatural creatures. A few of the central and eastern
islands contain ruins of the all-but-forgotten kingdom of ages past,
but most of the Marsh has remained unchanged over the centuries. Most
of the animals in the Marsh avoid contact with humans and other intruders.
Other creatures, however, are aggressively territorial. Dungeon Masters
who wish to use this adventure as a springboard for further exploration
in the Marsh should consult the Dungeon Master's Guide
and Monster Manual for ideas on what other interesting encounters
the heroes might experience in the area.
Krain is especially
adept at crafting natural traps, and he has built some in the general
area of his home. Many of these are for trapping animals for food; others
are for killing his enemies. The DM should place several of these in
the heroes' way as they close in on Krain.
The Dungeon Master
should consult the following list to determine what sort of traps the
heroes might encounter (see page 115 of the Dungeon Master's
Guide for descriptions):
- Spear Trap (blade
could be rusty or coated in filth, possibly inflicting disease on
the victim, at the DM's option)
- Deadfall Trap
(use Falling Block Trap)
- Swinging Log
Trap (use Crushing Wall Trap)
- Scything Blade
Trap (blade could be rusty or coated in filth, possibly inflicting
disease on the victim, at the DM's option)
- Large Net Trap
(Krain will attempt to lure the heroes into this one and then strike
once the trap has captured one or more of them.)
The DM need not
use all of these, and she might choose to use one more than once. The
problem for the heroes is that they need to keep up with Krain, but
they're on his ground. He lures them into these traps as many times
as they fall for it, trying always to remain one step ahead of them.
Because of the terrain,
there is only one pit trap: a 10-foot-deep pit with about three feet
of water in it. When a hero triggers the trap, he falls down a slippery
short incline that dumps him feet-first into the pit. Beneath the water
are sharpened stakes that are designed to momentarily slow the victim.
Treat these as caltrops (see the description of these on page 107 of
the Player's Handbook). Also in the water are two water snakes
(Snake, Medium-Size Viper; see pages 200 and 202 of the Monster Manual
for information). Startled by the victim's fall into the pit, they attack
repeatedly. They are unable to get out of the pit, so they bite out
of fear. The sides of the pit are slick, muddy clay. Climbing out requires
a Climb check (DC 20: adequate handholds, slippery). If the victim avoided
damage from the sharpened stakes, he may climb at half his normal movement
rate as a full-round action, enabling him to get out of the pit in a
single round (see the description of the Climb skill on pages 64-65
of the Player's Handbook). If the caltrops hidden in the water
injured the victim, his base movement rate is halved. Of course, other
heroes can assist the victim's escape by lowering a rope, for example.
Trap: CR 2; Reflex save (DC 20) avoids; 10 ft. deep (1d6, fall),
+0 melee (1d2 caltrops for 1 point of damage each and slowing effect);
Search (DC 20); Disable Device (20).
Once the PCs get
past the pit trap, they can see the small, slumping hut that they've
come to find. A Spot check (DC 20) reveals something moving inside.