Today I thought I would outline another 1st level adventure and a bit of a cliche of “Go get the cure”. The villains are Ghouls and seeing as Rolemaster undead are not like DnD undead it is not a bad introduction. I have introduced a bit of wilderness travel to increase the variety of encounters and to teach the players that you don’t have to kill everything. There is also opportunities for developing the unique aspects of the setting, I have presumed it is Shadow World.
Opening Scene: The Offer of Employment
In this starting adventure the characters start out in the employ of a the mayor of a small market town. The mayors wife was attacked by the most disgusting of beggars the other night and has been feeling quite unwell ever since. At first the mayor thought it was just her nerves but it is now quite apparent she is quite unwell. They are given a simple enough task. There is a reclusive hermit that is extremely wise in the treatment of disease. He lives a few days journey away. All they need do is take one of the mayors riding horses with them, go to the hermit and ask him to accompany them back to the town. The mayor has provided the horse for the hermits use as he is quite elderly and somewhat frail by all accounts.
This is a private arrangement between the mayor and the characters, they are not employed by the town. The mayor is not going to provide them with any additional resources or equipment, he is employing them as the professionals. They are expected to leave pretty much at once as the mayor is extremely worried about his wife.
Scene Two: The Journey
In this scene we can introduce some of the elements of the caravan guard, such as giving them an idea of the game setting. Essence storms on the horizon, skyships overhead and so on. We can present the characters with a couple of encounters such as when the characters reach a rise in the road and they get a chance to see a potentially dangerous foe camped up ahead, maybe some orcs or goblins who have been sleeping the day through and just waking up as the characters are looking for a camp. Either way the characters have the advantage of being aware. They then have the choice of avoiding the fight, trying to use there advantage to swing the odds further in their favour or charging foolishly into battle. The encounters should be indicative of the setting and region.
Another encounter could be a non-monster encounter such as a washed away bridge that creates a challenge of getting them and a horse over a fast running river.
The point of these challenges are to give each profession a chance to shine. The ranger/druid may be able to lead the party to a different safe crossing, the thief/magent may be able to scout out the possible foes and learn their strength of numbers.
Eventually they will reach the hermit but he is unable to accompany the characters. He is extremely old and tells them that his time is at an end. He will allow them to rest and recover. He is capable of healing magic so can heal them of any wounds. That evening he dreams of the mayors wife and discerns her disease. He then sets about creating a curative with some urgency. He then impresses upon the characters that they must return to the town as fast as possible as the entire town is in danger. The mayors wife was not attacked by any sort of beggar, she was attacked by a ghoul and not only is it still at large around the town but the wife is infected with ghoul rot. If she is not treated soon she too will become a ghoul and an epidemic could spread.
The characters now have a race against time to get back to the town. Ghoul Rot takes a week to turn a healthy person into a Ghoul. The wife, who we will call Dolly, was attacked three nights before the characters were engaged, their journey was two days and they rested over night to this is the third day since they left town. Dolly will be undead by tomorrow or a day before the characters return. Depending on their lore knowledge they may not know this. The curative they are carrying is a mix of healing herbs and holy water and they have instructions that any wounds inflicted by the Ghoul must be washed clean with this mix. They have sufficient to treat 20 such wounds.
We can now throw a few more encounters at the characters which they will hopefully choose to avoid in their haste to get back to the town.
Hi Honey, I’m Home!
The characters are too late to save Dolly. She and the original Ghoul have gone on a killing spree, killing the mayor and their servants before attacking the local tavern. Here they were driven off by the towns folk and they disappeared into the night. There were of course a dozen wounded in the fight.
That night the ghouls return. The original ghoul had not been idle in the week that has passed and has raised more ghouls. That night a force of ghouls attack the town. We can vary the number to provide a suitable challenge for the characters with NPC townsfolk playing an active role. As each character dispatches a ghoul we give them a perception roll and they a chance to see town folk in need of saving. This is a chance to use some classic set scenes such as a child corned by a ghoul where a character gets to attack from behind or flank and save the child. Non-combatant PCs such as 1st level mages or illusionists can fight with burning torches which I would treat as a club but with a secondary A heat critical. Any ghoul that is not finally burnt will of course regenerate a 1hit/minute and rejoin the fight or dawn is approaching slip away into the night.
This then leaves the problem of wounded characters and towns folk. The characters have the healing salve but possibly not enough to wash every wound. This is a great role playing opportunity if they have to make choices over how will get the cure and who doesn’t.
The second level open channeling spell Disease Purification should be sufficient to cure an individual. This is possibly castable by the characters. A lesser Ghoul is only 1st level so it does not seem unreasonable to use a second level spell to purge its disease.
So this is the third outline of a starting adventure and the first use of the undead. Including the one I am writing right now that is four starting adventures that will be available for completely new GMs. The big question mark is the starting level which we will not know until A&CL is actually released.
Anyone have any good additions to this one?
3 thoughts on “Ghoulish Behaviour”
Peter, I think I’m going to stat the next adventure challenge for RMU. Can we do that?
I don’t think we can. Firstly, we agreed to a NDA so we should not share any details. Secondly, CrL is in a terrible state so you couldn’t really use it if you wanted to. In all previous editions the monster stats have been identical so I have made the assumption that a) the monsters will exist in the final version if it is in the beta pdf and b) it will be relatively the same strength as the previous versions of the same monsters.
Using those two presumptions I am prepared to stat and balance encounters.
In this one I have referenced a particular spell list and spell with its level. Not sure I should have done that but I honestly believe that a single reference like that will bring down the financial future of ICE.
By statting the adventures for RMC and/or RMFRP they are useable today for the current players. It will be really easy to revise and republish once we have the final versions of the books. To be honest the real bugbear is NPCs. Characters are radically different, the skill system is different, Body Development is different, DB is very different even stats are different. I am really reticent to publish an RMU NPC. If you wanted to use RMU NPCs then download JDales randomiser and just keep randomising NPCs until you get someone that fits your needs. That way you can at least say you are using a tool publically released by the developers and did not use the RMU books to create the NPC. JDale has pierced the NDA by creating an abstraction for NPCs.
So technically we cannot but I think you could get away with it. Do it and see what happens.
ha ha – just played a very similar low-level entry with the same ghoul theme from The Shire sourcebook for MERP. There are some good starter ideas in the “You are the shirriff” section. Including, warring families after a wedding and the chicken that is turning villagers to stone; both of which I’m planning on playing with the family soon.