Episode Three: The Sting
by Jeff Quick
Bridge Work is a short adventure for four 7th-level characters. The adventure takes place mainly on an enormous stone bridge built across an archipelago. Dungeon Masters can modify the adventure to accommodate higher-level characters by giving humanoid foes more class levels and increasing the HD and/or age category of other opponents.
The Dungeon Master should keep the following points in mind as the players decide what their PCs should do throughout the "Bridge Work" Cliffhanger series.
Traveling by Foot (EL varies)
Two 50-foot-high dwarf statues and a few glyph of warding spells flank the entrance to the bridge. Safely dismissing the glyphs requires a password AND a golden sigil. Both the archaeologist dwarves and the oath dwarves have the golden sigil necessary to disarm the glyph protecting the bridge. However, only the archaeologist dwarves have the password written down on papers among their personal effects. Learning the password from the oath dwarves can be done only from speaking with their corpses.
Anyone who tries to step onto the bridge without the proper password and sigil triggers the glyph. Several applications of the glyph of warding spell delineate five 50-square-foot areas starting at the head of the bridge. The glyph does 5d8 points of fire damage to anyone who breaks it and all within 5 feet of the glyph breaker.
Glyph of Warding: CR 4; 5-ft. fire blast (5d8); Reflex save halves damage (DC 14); Search (DC 28); Disable Device (DC 28).
To cross any one section of the area requires one disarming action. This means that after someone passes the first glyph, he or she must pass a second glyph 50 feet later. Of course, anyone may fly past the area of the glyph and walk harmlessly on the bridge.
Traveling by Air (EL 7)
If a flier attempts to fly more than 200 feet onto the length of bridge at a height of more than 20 feet, that person attracts the attention of the adult arrowhawks circling the vault island, three miles away. (The arrowhawks do not care who walks on the bridge. They care only about those who attempt to fly above the bridge.)
Juvenile Arrowhawks (4): 16 hp each; see Monster Manual page 19.
Traveling by Water (EL 7)
Should the PCs attempt to swim to the island, they encounter tojanidas quite quickly.
Juvenile Tojanidas (4): 19 hp each; see Monster Manual page 177.
Loot and Other Important Matters
While adventuring along this bridge, the PCs find little in the way of extraneous loot around. In fact, they find only what is listed in the possessions of each creature they vanquish. However, the final encounter and the treasure hoard at the end should more than make up for the expedition. As always, Dungeon Masters should feel free to adjust the treasure to their campaign levels.
The PCs travel the mile over the next arc, down to where the kobolds have built their staircase to the second island. They continue to receive distrustful stares from a thin stream of kobolds along the way, but they won't get attacked unless the PCs do something provocative.
About halfway up the third arc of the bridge, a successful Spot check (DC 10) allows the PCs to see that a large portion of the bridge has fallen out. From this angle it is difficult to tell how large the gap is. The party is less than a mile from the vault island now, and flying at a distance of greater than 10 feet from the bridge in any direction is enough to bring 1d4 arrowhawks around for a closer inspection.
Once they are within range to estimate, the PCs can see that the entire gap is 40 feet wide. Any character who steps on the edge and whose total weight is heaver than 200 pounds will crumble the stones of the square the character is in and the two squares on either side.
The Sting (EL 8)
When they come within 60 feet of the gap, PCs hear a loud buzzing. A successful Listen check (DC 15) allows them to pinpoint the source of the buzzing: it emanates from beneath the bridge, just under the lip of the gap ahead.
If the PCs talked with the kobolds, they might have learned of the bee hive underneath the bridge ahead (though the kobolds would have given that information reluctantly). The bees collect pollen from plants on the various nearby islands and turn it into honey, which kobolds harvest under the direction of their beekeeper, Tirestra.
Giant Bees (12): 13 hp; see the Monster Manual page 206.
The bees do not notice or attack the PCs until they come to the edge of the gap. But once they do, the bees become enraged. The bees come over the front and sides of the bridge and attack anyone nearby.
Tirestra watches the PCs anxiously from behind throughout their battle with the bees, creeping closer to the fight every round. If things seem to go badly for the bees, he rushes toward the PCs in his beekeeper gear and begins stabbing the most hurt one with his half-spear. Note that this might put him within range to be attacked by a bee.
Tirestra: Male kobold Exp5; CR 4; Small humanoid (reptilian); HD 5d6; hp 17; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (touch 13, flat-footed 14); Atk +3 melee (1d6-1/x3, halfspear); SQ Darkvision 60, light sensitivity -1; AL LE; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Animal Empathy +8, Craft (trapmaking) +2, Handle Animal +8, Hide +5, Listen +9, Move Silently +4, Profession (beekeeper) +11, Ride (pony) +3, Search +10, Spot +9, Swim +0; Alertness, Skill Focus (Profession [beekeeper]).
Darkvision: Tirestra can see in the dark as though in normal daylight.
Light Sensitivity (Ex): Tirestra is sensitive to light and gets a -1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
Possessions: Beekeeper's gear (which incorporates leather armor), halfspear.
Once the bees and Tirestra are defeated, crossing the gap in the bridge is mostly a matter of ingenuity and organization. Crossing might require appropriate Strength checks, Use Rope checks, and spells. If the PCs talked their way through the encounter somehow, Tirestra doesn't provide anything more useful in the way of information. However, as with the other kobolds, he knows that there are dwarves guarding the treasure trove.
Past the gap, the end is in sight. The PCs can see the final island below them, and the entrance to the treasure vaults. The end of the bridge is only about half a mile away, with no obstacles in sight. Nothing could go wrong now!