Cliffhangers Adventures

Episode Three: Pack Attack
By Owen K.C. Stephens

"Hindsight" is a short adventure for four 15th-level characters that takes place in a lightly inhabited, mountainous region. The adventure has connections to the drow and an underground network of caves, making it particularly appropriate for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, but is easily placed on almost any D&D world.

Adventure Background: Looking into the "Evil Eye"

In the first two episodes, the characters witnessed an attack by two purple worms on a small caravan, and learned that the local area around the town of Havenfast is rife with dire beasts and other monsters. The PCs then spoke with the sorcerer Zareph, who asked them to look into rumors of a creature locals call the "Evil Eye." This monster, whatever it is, seems to be driving every living creature off the nearby mountain. The characters had to deal with a mob of townsfolk who didn't appreciate their presence, and someone slipped one of the PCs a note claiming to know where the "Evil Eye" can be found. The note instructs the heroes to be at the north gate of Havenfast at midnight to learn more.

The Informant

The note was slipped to one of the characters by Seirenn, a 10th-level half-elf rogue (use the generic NPC from Chapter 2: Characters of the Dungeon Master's Guide) who the previous band of adventurers had hired to gather information on the local situation for them. Seirenn dwells in Havenfast, and has found the current problems bad for business -- she only steals from merchants who come through town, never locals, and with the troubles fewer outsiders are coming through. She considers it to be in her own best interest to help the characters put a stop to whatever is happening on the mountain.

Seirenn hides by the north gate one hour before midnight (Hide skill +15) and waits for the characters to show up. She takes 10 on the check, so a Spot check (DC 25) must be succeeded to locate the rogue if she doesn't want to be seen. Seirenn is a punctual woman, and will hide from any PCs that try to scout the rendezvous point ahead of time.

Once the PCs arrive, she reveals herself and explains her association with the earlier band of adventurers. When asking around for them, she has discovered that many decades ago a beholder was spotted on the mountain, though some local heroes went to confront it and couldn't find it. She told this to the adventurers that went up more recently, and they were convinced that the creature was a beholder mage of some sort. After they came back from "defeating" it they were even more convinced, and claimed the monster was capable of becoming invisible and traveling to other planes.

Two weeks after they left, Seirenn began hearing the rumors surrounding the creature the locals called the "evil eye," a vaguely described creature that was occasionally visible up on the mountainside at night.

Seirenn knows where the earlier party faced their "beholder mage," and it is very near where the "Evil Eye" has been spotted. Seirenn doesn't know if the "Evil Eye" is a second beholder come to see what happened to the first, or if the first creature somehow survived, but she can direct them to a path that leads to the cave where the first beholder mage faced Seirenn's former employers.

The Pack

On the way up the mountain path to the cave of the "Evil Eye," the characters are jumped by a group of 5 dire wolves in hiding (Hide +11, Move Silently +11). These are the last dire wolves left on the mountain, and are far tougher than typical members of the species (they have advanced to the maximum 18 hit dice possible for dire wolves). They have been harassed by the "Evil Eye" to the point that they attack anything that enters their territory, which of course includes the PCs.

Dire Wolves (5): CR 8; Large animal; HD 18d8+54; hp 135; Init +2; Spd 50 ft.; AC 14 (touch 11, flat-footed 12); Atk +19 melee (1d8+10, bite); Face/Reach 5 ft. by 10 ft./5 ft.; SA Trip; SQ low-light vision, scent; AL N; SV Fort +14, Ref +13, Will +7; Str 25, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Hide +6, Listen +4, Move Silently +7, Spot +4, Wilderness Lore +2*

Special Qualities: Trip (Ex) -- A dire wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent as a free action (see Trip in Chapter 8: Combat of the Player's Handbook) without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the dire wolf.

Low-Light Vision -- The creature can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar low-light conditions.

Scent (Ex) -- The creature can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.

Skill bonuses -- A dire wolf receives a +1 racial bonus to Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks and a +2 racial bonus to Hide checks. *It also receives a +4 racial bonus to Wilderness Lore when tracking by Scent.

The Cliffhanger

Once the dire wolves have been dispatched, the heroes spy a dark cave opening at the end of the path. The corpse of a dire bear lies just outside the opening. Flies circle it, but from the PCs vantage point, there is no clear injury to indicate how the bear died. Once the heroes pass the corpse and approach the cave, they can see that the entire belly of the beast is gone (disintegrated by the beholder after it killed the bear with a finger of death).


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