The Cave In Crey Wood
A Dungeons&Dragons® v3.5 adventure for 3-5 characters of 1st-2nd level.
© copyright 2006 Grant Williams
When the push of a lumbermill's progress tests the edges of the civilized frontier, local myths of forest monsters can be found true. Whenever monster myths are proven true, brave adventurers are sought to handle what common men cannot....
The Cave In Crey Wood was created using only the three core Dungeons&Dragons® v3.5 rulebooks: the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Players Handbook and the Monster Manual. Any material outside of these three sources will be noted, and all-inclusive. Feel free to modify any details, monsters and treasure to suit your own gaming style, player characters and campaign setting.
The Cave in Crey Wood is a short, encounter-sized adventure that can be used as a quick, stand-alone adventure, or as the introduction to An Adventurer's Beginning.
Summer. Very small farming village (10-15 small farms), with some wooded areas surrounding farmland. Dirt roads lead to the west, south and east out of the village. Several miles to the west of the village high, rolling hills begin. Ten miles down the east road is a larger, more civilized town.
Outside the small farming town of Kulp lies Crey Wood - named after the Crey family who farmed the area outside the wood years ago. Crey Wood is thick with large, leafy trees, and old, tangled underbrush. A relatively new, nearby lumbermill named Spanring Lumber Company has recently received permissions to cut and haul lumber from Crey Wood.
Unfortunately, progress was then immediately haulted. Haulted not by some unforeseen production cost. Haulted not by some over-looked legal discrepency. Haulted by a myth. While contracting local labor Spanring learned of a cave near the thick, tangled heart of Crey Wood. Local legend deeply embedded into the townsfolk tell of a dangerous “monster” that lives within. Consequently the locals (and workers) fear the cave, and refuse to go near.
Anxious to keep up with the season's peak lumber demand (and not wanting to risk squandering their rights to Crey Wood), Spanring knows it is most profitable to hire adventurer mercanaries quickly, and move forward with production.
Spanring approaches the characters, aiming to hire them to rid the woods of this "monster"....
The Adventure Begins
The adventure begins with the characters gathered at Worn's Tavern, right around dusk as they are relaxing in the tavern's main room. You may have them here for any reason you like, or you can presume they have stopped here for rest, traveling in from the south road on their way east to Qwell, in search of adventure.
Worn's Tavern is a shoddy, 1-story wood building squatting at the crossroads near the center of Kulp. It has a main gathering room, with a bar to one side and a kitchen wedged into a cramped room behind that. Seven small, poorly kept rooms sit off of a hallway to the back. The main room and bar are no cleaner than having been brushed off with a dirty towel, and the wooden floors may go weeks without being swept. Most often the air is a bit musty, with the occasional waft of rotting trash floating by.
Outside on the east side of the tavern is a fenced in area containing a tool shed, chicken coop and 8 excited chickens. Outside a rear exit is a very simple 6-stall (empty) stable. An outhouse also sits nearby.
Worn himself is a large(6'1") and aging, heavyset(265 lbs.) man born and raised here in Kulp. Not a particularly jovial man, he generally treats the locals with respect and travelers with hospitable distrust - briefly showing a smile or excitement only when the prospect of making extra gold is involved. He lives in and runs the tavern by himself, sleeping in the tavern's unoccupied rooms at night.
For 1 gold a day Worn will give 1 character a room to stay in, and 3 meals of relatively low quality food. There is no menu, Worn serves whatever he can make, or feels like making. Examples: 2 eggs and a potato for breakfast, bowl of vegetable-bean goulash and bread for lunch, more goulash and bread for dinner. If an adventurer requests something more nourishing (and tasty), Worn will accomodate for 5gp(per character, per meal), tracking down within Kulp and preparing: a roasted chicken, pan fried pork, bacon, ham or beef.
Worn also makes and serves a homemade brew of ale, which is (at best) an "acquired" taste. Relative to anything else it is rather potent and foul tasting, having almost a dirty appearance and taste to it. Any characters drinking it must make a Constitution check (DC 10) after each mug drank - after each failed check a character becomes buzzed, inebriated, fall-down drunk, passed out, in that order; returning to normal after 8 hours of sleep. He charges the locals 1 sp per mug, but charges 5sp to adventurers, and other persons passing through. (Anyone actively observing local patrons can spot this price difference with a successful Spot(DC 15) check - Worn will be somewhat discreet about it.)
During the day from dawn until late afternoon there is only a 10% chance a local is in the tavern, eating and/or drinking. Every hour from late afternoon to bedtime there will be 1d6 locals in the main room socializing, drinking or eating.
TACTICS: Worn is mostly tired and grumpy, only willing to accomodate with the least amount of energy. He may perk up for anything involving earning extra gold (5gp or more). Years of experience have made him very tolerant of strangers (ie: poor attitudes, weird behavior and uncommon races), as he is not too worried about himself or his modest inn, and realizes the rare passer-by can be a profitable customer. If challenged or threatened he stands his ground, raising his voice and presenting his stature as intimidatingly as possible. He will brandish no weapon, demanding offenders to leave if violence is imminent - and try to escape if attacked with anything more than a clenched fist(screaming "You damned crazy outsiders!").
The first evening after the characters arrive and are gathered in Worn's main room read the following:
This is Darrin Winn, a local young man ambitiously trying to work his way up the Spanring Lumber Company. He works now as a slightly overzealous representative of the company, whose current task is to quickly recruit a group of adventurers to rid the company of a small problem. He greets the adventurers excitedly (he feels HE is in luck – with the adventurers arrival being perfect timing for him).
With the right conversation Darrin will reveal the following information:
- Spanring Lumber Company (located southwest of Qwell), harvests lumber in the area for construction and export outside the area.
- A cave in the heart of Crey Wood has a dangerous monster living in it that the locals fear, and leave alone.
- Workers refuse to go to the work area, fearing this monster.
- They have recently acquired rights to harvest some older trees in the heart of Crey Wood.
- In the company’s short, but successful history hiring swords to quickly and cleanly clear away trouble has become common practice.
For any other questions, he simply explains that he is somewhat new to the company (employed 5 months), flashes his quick smile, and asks again if they are interested.
Darrin offers 60gp per character to complete the task. If they negotiate with appropriate role-playing dialogue, make opposing Diplomacy Skill rolls with Darrin and the negotiating character, then consult the table below.
Compare the final results of the Diplomacy checks, and consult the table below. Allow only one Diplomacy roll by the negotiating character. If the characters are not pleased with the results, allow one more character to talk to Darrin, they can make a Diplomacy roll (versus Darrin's orignial roll) with an additional -5 modifier (Darrin is setting his mind), and they can choose to accept these results. No further attempts are successful.
Ultimately, if and when the characters accept the adventure, Darrin says he will arrange for a guide to meet them near Crey Wood behind Worn's Tavern just after dawn the next day. (go to “THE ADVENTURE BEGINS”)
IF THE CHARACTERS DON'T BITE THE HOOK
If the characters do not accept the mercenary quest, to hell with them, Darrin looks surprised, then disappointed, smiles and wishes them luck and turns and leaves the tavern.
If the characters stick around Kulp, they learn that the next day (let's call it "Day 1") Darrin travels to Qwell and quickly finds adventurers that are actually, you know, LOOKING for adventure! On Day 2, this mixed band of 6 BRAVE level 1 adventurers arrives in Kulp, spends the evening at Worn's, and successfully completes the quest on Day 3 (only losing one over-ambitious rogue in the process). The party returns to Worn's and Darrin (who is waiting and enjoying a few ales) thankfully pays them right there in the main room (hopefully in front of the characters). The characters can stay at Worn's for as long as they like, he gladly accomodates as long as the gold is flowing his way. Nothing exciting happens aside from a few passing merchants for the rest of the summer, on into fall, winter and all of the next year.
If the characters leave Kulp to the west, the dirt road eventually fades away, but a relatively clear path continues to lead over hills and through forests for 11 miles. After 3 miles, it becomes very dangerous for young adventurers - roll for a random encounter every mile for the next 8 miles.
If the characters leave Kulp to the south, they can safely head back to where they came from. Six miles to the south is large town of Winarch. If they enter Winarch they may stay and adventure there, Adventures from Winarch (under development) - although the adventures are designed for higher levels - good luck!
If the characters leave Kulp to the east, they can safely travel to Qwell, a short 4 miles travel. For life and adventures here go to Life and Adventures in Qwell (under development).
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Roke Munson, local hermit and guide to the Cave In Crey Wood, strolls from the southwest out of the wood just after dawn the next day. He greets the party and introduces himself, and asks if they "are prepated to embark?".
If the party is not there, Roke waits for around an hour, whittling on a piece of wood. After that he will he will stroll down to Worn's, poke his head into the main room. If he sees neither the party nor Darrin, he strolls back to Crey Wood and is not seen again until another rendezvous is arranged. If Roke leaves without meeting the characters, Darrin will seek them out, and explain with an appropriate attitude (chastizing, professional irritation, apologizing, begging; respective to the Diplomacy results table above) that this missed rendezvous has cost him gold, and that he will make identical arrangements for them to meet with Roke the next day.
He then leads party directly to the mound, telling how he is “relieved” to be guiding you here to take care of the menace, and that several months ago 2 of his dogs (that he cherishes) chased something to this mound, and only one of them returned.
Roke refuses to engage the giant lizard, humbly mocking his old, dirty hand axe at his hip as “good against unruly brush” but “not worth much in a fight”. Roke keeps his distance, outside of the clearing, staying close to a non-melee party member.
All of the forested area off of the path, around the clearing and above the cave is nearly impassable. A character wishing to sneak through the vegetation without Cragbrow knowing, for a surprise attack must do the following:
1. Succeed a Survival(DC15) skill check - the character is able to negotiate a path to destination.
2. Win an opposed Move Silently roll vs. Cragrow's Listen roll.
The characters have all the time they need for any preparations. The feared “monster” is an old monitor lizard, and is fully aware of their presence, but waits in his cave, watching. The moment anyone steps foot inside the clearing, he attacks! (be sure to read “THE PLOT TWIST!” below)
The bitter old lizard fights to the death, but only within the clearing, or his cave. He will not pursue anyone beyond these. If reduced to ½ hit points he withdraws to his cave, and fights anyone who enters to the death in the low-light surroundings.
Lizard, Monitor (Medium Animal)
CR: 2; HD: 3d8+9 (27 hp); Init: +2 (Dex); Spd: 30ft; AC: 15 (+2 Dex, +3 natural); Attack: Bite +5 melee; Dmg: Bite 1d8+4; SA:
none; SQ: Low-light vision;
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +2
Abilities: Str 17, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2
Skills: Climb +7, Hide +6 (+8 in forested/overgrown areas), Listen +4, Move Silently +6, Spot +4, Swim +11
Feats: Alertness, Great Fortitude
THE PLOT TWIST!
The second round after the party attacks, Roke shouts “You won’t kill ol’ Cragbrow!” and attacks the nearest, non-melee character with his old, dirty hand axe +1! (He charges into melee if there are no non-melee characters.)
This should sufficiently shake up any battle plans, and create a significantly more difficult encounter for the characters.
As it turns out, Roke discovered “Cragbrow” many years ago and became very familiar with, and close to, him. Over the years he bonded with the retired old monster, and regarded him as he would an old friend (all of which is completely delusional, the friendship is one-way, Cragbrow could not tell the difference between Roke and a gopher patch).
To continue to preserve Cragbrow, Roke hopes to help him defeat the party, and return to Darrin with a horrific story of the defeat of the adventurers by a mysterious monster, and cleverly use that as more proof to Darrin, the town, and the Spanring Lumber Co. that Crey Wood should be left alone for a few more years, if not forever! Roke boasts aloud of any, or all, of his plan as he battles the characters.
Roke Munson, Level 2 Barbarian (Medium Humanoid)
Human Male, Middle Age: 5'8" tall, 187 lbs, 52 years old
CR 2; HD 2d12+6; 32 hp; Init +0; Spd 60ft; AC 15 (+4 hide armor +2, +1 Dex); Att +3 melee (hand axe +1);
Dmg 1d6+3 (hand axe +1); SA –none-; SQ –none-
Fort +4; Refl +1; Will +6
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 8, Cha 14; AL CG
Feats: Toughness, Toughness
Possessions: Roke carries a small sack with 14 sp and 8 cp, his belt buckle is also made of tarnished silver (5 gp), hand axe +1 and hide armor +2.
If the characters are utterly destroyed, Roke returns to Kulp and Darrin with a dramatic and superlative-laden story of how the "monstrous beast obliterated" the adventurers! (Despite Roke himself "risking his own life" to help them defeat the "undefeatable beast!") Adding that it is "hopeless" to try and dispose of "Cragbro- er, the hideous beast", and Spanring would be well-advised to pass on Crey Wood, taking their business elsewhere. Darrin and Spanring Lumber Company indeed believe him, heed his advice, and chalk up the Crey Wood expedition as a loss, moving onward to other, less-formidable woods.
If the characters return to Kulp without defeating Cragbrow, Darrin(and Spanring Lumber Co.) have little to do with them, believeing they were not up to the task. Darrin gives them his trademark smile, apologizes for any of their losses, and curtly explains it is all "just business" and leaves. If the characters think to, they can return to the cave and attempt to defeat Cragbrow again. Roke (if alive) will not be there, and is not seen around town for months. If they succeed in defeating Cragbrow, and return with the indisputable (and grisly) proof of the monster's head, Spanring honors their end of the agreement (see below).
*** Side Adventure ***
Characters seeking revenge on Roke (if alive) can hunt him down by doing the following things:
- good role-playing with the townsfolk,
- 2 successful Gather Information (DC 10) skill checks by the characters(any character with the skill may make 2 rolls),
- and finally, a successful Survival (DC 10) skill check by any character(he is easy to find with the gathered information).
They encounter Roke at a clearing somewhere inside Crey Wood, he is bare-chested and hauling 2 huge buckets of water tied to the ends of a 10' wooden pole balanced over his shoulders. Upon hearing of Cragbrow's demise Roke immediately presses the wooden pole over his head and slams it to the ground, then attacks the characters in a mindless rage with his handaxe +1 (consider him fully healed, and without his armor). If particulary ruthless characters happened to have presented to Roke the head of Cragbrow (or if they intentionally taunt Roke with details of Cragbrow's grisly death), reward them by having Roke to go into his Barbarian Rage!
*** Side Adventure ***
If the characters are victorious, and when they have the time to catch their breath and look around, read the following:
Searching the refuse within the cave reveals many animal bones, and the scattered equipment and remains of several past adventurers (human). Items and treasure include:
- 2 leather backpacks, several small leather sacks, all torn and ruined
- many blood-soaked shreds of cloth and leather
- hooded lantern (broken)
- 50' rope, chewed into 2 pieces (20' and 30')
- coins scattered throughout the refuse: 111cp, 78sp, 20gp and 4pp
- small sack containing 255sp
- small sack containing 33gp and two amber agates(200gp each)
- a longspear, dagger, light steel shield
- chain shirt
- light wooden shield
The light wooden shield is actually a light wooden shield +1. (It has an additional magical property: when used by a character at the moment they achieve character level 3 from character level 2, the shield permanently becomes a Shield +2.)
Description: round, 2' in diameter, remarkably well-made with 3 immaculately fitted, 2"-thick oak boards bound by 3 iron slats bolted onto the front, an iron rim is formed perfectly around its edge. Though dirty, there are no discernible signs of wear or damage. Artfully inscribed on the inside of the iron rim is the word "Harn".
Darrin patiently awaits the characters' return at Worn's Tavern. He excitedly greets them when they arrive and tells Worn to give them a hot meal and a round of ale, and he will take care of the cost! Darrin offers a small sack of gold (amount meticulously counted to whatever was agreed to) whenever the characters have had a chance to settle in, or if they ask for it.
Seemingly to be unable to withold his curiosity, Darrin asks how the adventure went! Asking if the monster was truly hideous, and formidable?! If anyone is missing from the party, he will ask about them - fearing the worst.
If the character's ask Darrin or Worn about "Harn" they recall a boy from Kulp by the name Harn Pendren.. Gather Information checks lead to the family house in Qwell and An Adventurer's Beginning.
Otherwise the characters can stay in Kulp, head east, south or west. (See the end of The Adventure Begins).
If they stay, have adventure hooks randomly cross their path - whether the adventure is for their level or not. For instance: A mysterious mage in faded purple robery enters Worn's, and probes the characters for interest in aiding him on his quest. He needs to retrieve something from Mash Tun Barrow (adventure under development), a gravemound north of Kulp. He says he will meet them there, after he finishes some business in Qwell. When the adventurer's agree, they soon find they are in over their heads and get chased back to Kulp.
Regardless of what they do, if Roke Munson is still alive word of Cragbrow's demise, though, eventually reaches his ears, and a crafty DM should easily work into any campaign at a later date, a revenge-fueled surprise amubush by a blood-thirsty Roke who madly fights to the death.
Cragbrow visciously snaps at Grant the Fearless!
(Apparently aiming for his crotch.)
But luckily Grant the Fearless is formidably armed with... a ball attached to a stick,
and armored with some kind of sequin shirt, denim jeans and ...
yes, those look like sandals... and a sort of felt hat thingy....