DM Notes 1.15 (Blackmoor Supplement)
From D&D Wiki
The Lac Duffort estate occupies three valleys through which rivers drain into a marshy lake on the shores of which is a small castle and partially walled town. The hills are wooded and the valley floor has some farmland principally set aside for cattle and root vegetables. There is also a series of clay pits which support a light industry making roof tiles, large storage jars and pipes. A single river drains from the lake, deep enough to take barges in the winter months that transport the wares to the nearest town.
The castle is a dreary stone affair, damp and dilapidated with extremely out of date construction and no glazed windows. The town itself could be reasonably prosperous with some guidance however in the absence of any strong leadership there has been infighting and cronyism that has stunted growth. In addition to these problems a mysterious sickness has struck in the last month leading to a wasting disease that has rendered many healthy adults to failing invalids.
On the northern side of the town there is a brewery making beer for all of the residents, it is fed from a spring in the hillside and this, long assumed to be pure has been poisoned by mine workings established by a hill dwarf necromancer and his servants. They have gone unnoticed because they have remained underground by day, extending their tunnels from an entrance in the neighbouring valley.
The fact that it is the beer that has been poisoned might be guessed because it is the children of the village that are unaffected, they are mostly drinking cow's milk and spring water (delivered from a piped spring in the other side of the valley. There are two taverns: The Bull and The Milkmaid's Honour, and they both sell the local brew Red Dog Ale, though The Bull also sells a more expensive summer cider that is reaching the last few bottles.
One of the local aldermen, Miller Chevot only drinks the summer cider and is in rude health, complaining of his workers shirking from their duty to any that will listen. The brewer at the Red Dog and all of his staff are laid low with only his two youngest sons working the mashing tuns at the moment. Any alchemist will notice that there is what looks like a horde of silver in the bottom of the pool above the brewery, in fact it is mercury settling beneath the water.
Climbing up to the source reveals a colourful scree of pebbles that have formed below the mouth of a small cave entrance. Too small for a human to enter but in amongst the remains a pipe has washed out revealing the actions of the dwarves within. A dwarf can determine that there are mine workings within and a day spent exploring the hills above will reveal the hidden campsite that marks the opening to the workings within.
The Hill Dwarf clan is named the Kilners and at one time they made a business out of crafting bricks. Now however their dwindling numbers are led by a necromancer who has named himself Chief Harrow. Having relocated the tribe to Lac Duffort he intends to use undead miners to pull silver out of the hills however his knowledge of the refinement process is shaken at best and the secret trade in silver for food with a tribe of lizardfolk downstream is not proving reliable as the Lizardfolk are not well equipped for preserving their fish staple.
The dwarves are failing and Harrow believes that as their numbers decrease he can replace them with more undead miners allowing things to stabilise. Clearly this is not popular with his fellow dwarves but he dealt with the last one to stand up against him with deadly force so it is a stalemate. There are about one hundred and fifty of the miners and about fifty guards who will remain loyal to Harrow - they have burnt too many bridges with their clan to take sides against the chief. Harrow commands about fifty zombies with six wights to defend him in his chambers.
Meeting the Kilners is likely to be a tense affair, they are wary of humans and not that fond of snobbish mountain dwarves. They know that this is not their land and that using undead to work is not likely to make enthusiastic neighbours but they feel that they are out of options. Unless the approach is very clearly not threatening, then the guards are likely to shoot first and ask questions later.
Dwarf Guards: HP: 38, AC: 18, Crossbow: +4 (1d8+2), War Pick: +6 (1d8 + 2), Stout defence: attacks at disadvantage when defending their home.
If a parlay can be agreed then the dwarf captain Clayhand will negotiate whilst the alarm is raised and Harrow makes preparations to defend the mine. Clayhand has been a mercenary and travelled the world, he is a little less parochial and a little more likely to talk however it will be clear after a while that he is just stalling whilst defences are raised. When he thinks that he can hold them no longer he will fall back into the mine and seal the doors.
Within the fort there are threats from more guards, from miners and from the undead commanded by Harrow. The miners will have little heart for a fight however and will ask for quarter if they take light losses.
The undead miners are all zombies, mostly lizardfolk or humans - Harrow has some dwarves that he has secretly raised but they will only be revealed in his desperate defence and this will loose him the confidence of all the miners. The miners will not fight alongside the undead, either fleeing or surrendering if it comes to that.
Harrow is holed up in a separate part of the mine defended by his dwarf zombies and in the company of the wights that he has conjured and his wraith mentor. many years ago, Harrow came across an ancient corpse in a long abandoned mine and from it he took and now wears the Ring of Funin a ring of mind shielding occupied by the soul of a dwarven necromancer named Funin. This is where he learned all of the magical secrets and also why he took his tribe down such a dark path.
The Ring of Funin
The dwarven magician Funin was a notable necromancer, ultimately discovered and chased from the clan to die a lonely death stumbling through ancient mines miles from his kin. On his death his soul passed into the the ring of mind shielding that had for so long helped him to keep his activities hidden. The magician’s spirit fears passing before his gods for judgement and so it watches and waits from within the ring. Funin speaks in a deathly monotone through most of the wearers hours starving them of sleep and offering insights into necromancy.
Deep in the mines, Harrow’s influence has attracted a banshee that has recruited and now commands a small group of his lost dwarven zombies. The banshee will use her wail when the zombies are engaged hoping that any unconscious enemies can be killed by the zombies before they can be helped.
The banshee was attracted to Harrow’s stash which the zombies had been guarding - a couple of old iron trunks in which his precious papers and treasures were stored. They are both trapped with an acidic poison gas cloud trap, which is detectable on a search DC Int 15 and disarmable DC Dex 15. Otherwise it is a Dex save DC 15 to take half of 4d6 acid and a Con save DC 13 to take half of 4d6 poison. Within the chests there are several trinkets of moderate value, many documents that would substantially improve an arcane library including three scrolls (Animate dead, Feign Death and Vampiric Touch) and a recipe for crafting Dust of Disappearance along with two packets of the wondrous substance.
The dwarves have prepared a few traps within the guarded areas principally hidden pits concealing iron spikes and rocks falling from the roof. They are not too hard to spot if searched for (Int DC 12) and not too hard to dodge when triggered (Dex DC 14) but they will cause considerable damage if the players are caught in them (6d6 for the rockfall, and for the pit, 3d6 + Con DC 12 with advantage for a monk, or half speed until long rest).
Preventing a Massacre
The miners can be forced into a grudging parlay through defeat but in the fallout this will lead to sour relations and no help. If the party enter into the situation intending to parlay, and continually seek a peaceful resolution then they will have the opportunity to make a persuasive case. The head of the civilians is Glaze a female who has spent many weeks trying to subtly build consensus amongst the wives to make a stand. If she senses an opportunity to free themselves of Harrow then she will step forwards and seize it. This will permit the players to seek refuge at some point and take a short rest.
If the party overcome the miners by subdual then they will agree to fall back to their living quarters and shut the doors to Harrow and his troops. There they will wait out the storm and see what happens. It is likely that if the party is subsequently victorious the Kilner clan will vote to leave this place and find a new home.
The lizardfolk have not enjoyed their relationship with the miners, trading fish for silver has proved less useful than they hoped as they have had little luck spending their newfound wealth. Their scouts have reported that something is happening at the mines and they have mobilised a war party of about forty warriors to see if they can seize advantage. Now, as the party emerges, if they sense weakness then they will attack, on the other hand if they appear to be in good order, they will wait until they have left and then probe the dwarves to see if they can be rooted out.
If spotted by a healthy victorious party, the leader might be intimidated or charmed into falling back - this might prove useful at a later point when dealing with the troublesome neighbours.