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Author: Ryan Cooper
System: AD&D 2nd Edition
Requirements: 3-6 PCs of levels 2-4
The adventure takes place as the PCs are travelling (for whatever reason) along a temperate forest trail in a relatively uncivilized area. The adventure is adaptable to any generic fantasy setting.
Graphic: Ettercap Lair
"Kaeliron's Dilemma" is a short AD&D adventure
for 3-6 PCs of levels 2-4 (about 12 total levels). The party must
contain at least one mage, and a few fighters would be very helpful.
Since the adventure includes some moral decision-making on the
PCs' part, they should be good-aligned.
The adventure takes place as the PCs are travelling (for whatever
reason) along a temperate forest trail in a relatively uncivilized
area. The adventure is adaptable to any generic fantasy setting.
A party of NPC adventurers were recently ambushed by a pair
of ettercaps as they travelled along the forest trail which the
PCs now follow. The party was defeated by the ettercaps and dragged
back to the ettercaps' lair, unconscious, to be eaten later. One
of the adventurers, a mage named Kaeliron, escaped. Unfortunately,
most of his equipment, including his spellbook, had been carried
by one of the other party members and was taken back to the ettercaps'
as well. However, he did possess a spider wand (see sidebar)
that he had tucked away inside his robes. Kaeliron attempted to
rescue his friends by using the wand to summon giant spiders and
commanding them to attack the ettercaps. To his surprise and horror,
the spiders did not do as they were commanded (due to their natural
affiliation to the ettercaps). Instead, they waited quietly as
the ettercaps advanced upon their "master". Needless
to say, the wizard then fled.
Sidebar: Spider Wand
Kaeliron possesses one magic item: a magical wand which
has the following abilities (each use expends one charge):
1. Summon 1 huge spider*
2. Summon 1d4 large spiders*
3. Summon 2d4 hairy spiders*
4. Spider Climb
* Summoned creatures need not check morale and fight to the
death, at which time they disappear. If not slain, the spiders
disappear after 1d6 + 5 rounds. The spiders will obey the summoner's
verbal commands as long as they are simple ("attack",
"move", "defend me", etc.). However, the summoned
spiders will not attack other spiders of spider-like creatures
or creatures associated with spiders. For example, summoned spiders
would not attack ettercaps, driders, or drow priestesses of the
The wand is of black steel, about 12" long, and ends in
a small obsidian carving of a spider. The wand has 6 charges left
at the beginning of the adventure.
Kaeliron is now waiting in the nearby forest, keeping an eye
on the trail. He is hoping for an adventuring band including a
fellow mage to pass by. As it happens, the PCs are just reaching
this part of the forest. Kaeliron is rather reserved and suspicious
by nature, so instead of petitioning for the PCs help, he plans
to summon several giant spiders to distract the party and then
steal the mage's spellbook(s). Before the PCs reach Kaeliron's
waiting place, they will come across the ettercaps' usual ambush
Part I: The Trap
The ettercaps' trap (the same one used to help capture Kaeliron's
party) consists of a deep pit, about 8' wide, 12' long, and 10'
deep, right on the trail. The pit is covered by the ettercaps'
"webs", which are in turn covered by soil from the trail.
Ranger and druid characters travelling along the trail have a
10%/level chance of noticing the discrepancy between the other
parts of the trail and the area covering the pit. Other characters
have only a 2%/level chance of noticing the difference. Any character
stopping to closely inspect the area will find the trap.
The web is quite strong, and will not collapse until at least
300 lbs. of pressure are put on them. Do not forget to include
the weight of PC mounts (if present) and equipment when determining
when the web will collapse.
Sharpened wooden spikes protrude upward from the bottom of
the pit, caked with the dried blood of previous victims of the
trap. Anyone falling into the pit suffers 1d3 "attacks"
from these spikes at THAC0 15, in addition to the falling damage.
Each successful hit causes 1d6-2 points of damage.
Fortunately for the PCs, the ettercaps are no longer waiting
in their usual ambush positions in the trees on either side of
the pit. Since they have captured the NPC party, they are content
to relax in their lair until they once again run out of food.
If you are not sure whether or not the PCs are powerful enough
for this adventure, you may wish to assume that the ettercaps
were too lazy to "re-set" the trap after capturing their
most recent victims, and that the pit is now uncovered.
Part II: Kaeliron
Kaeliron will wait until the PCs have made camp for the night
before proceeding with his plan. About two hours after the PCs
bed down, he summons 2d4 hairy spiders with his spider wand
(he will not summon huge or large spiders because these types
have lethal poisons. Kaeliron merely wishes to distract the party,
not to seriously injure them). The mage then quietly commands
the spiders to advance upon the camp.
If a PC is keeping watch, he may detect noise (at +10%)
to hear the mage uttering the command word the wand and ordering
the spiders to attack (non-thieves are considered to have a base
detect noise of 15%). However, even if the PC hears the
noises, he will not have time to react, as the spiders arrive
in the camp within one round.
If no PCs are keeping watch, they will be rudely awakened by
the attacking spiders. Because of the spiders' small size, they
will not trigger an alarm spell.
Hairy Spiders (2d4): INT 5; AL N; AC 8; MV 12, Wb 9;
HD 1-1; hp 3 each; THAC0 20; # AT 1; Dmg 1; SA poison; MR nil;
SZ T; ML special; XP 65; MM/326. The spiders are magically summoned,
so do not require morale checks.
Kaeliron will spend the first round after he has summoned the
spiders circling around the camp. On the second round, he sneaks
into the camp from the rear (hoping no one will notice him), and
quickly searches for the party wizard's (or wizards') spellbook(s).
It takes him two rounds to search a backpack.
PCs hanging back from the heart of the battle may make a wisdom
check to spot the wizard. If PCs are actively keeping an eye out
for other intruders, Kaeliron will send another batch of spiders
into the camp. He will not enter if anyone is on the lookout.
If an alarm spell has been cast upon the camp, Kaeliron
will trigger it upon entering the camp.
Kaeliron: AL N; AC 10; MV 12; W4; hp 11 (max 16); THAC0
20; # AT 1; Dmg 1d6; S 11, D 12, C 16, I 17, W 9, Ch 8; ML 7;
staff, spider wand; spells memorized: shield, read magic.
Kaeliron is about 25 and in good physical shape. He sports
a beard and wears his raven hair in a ponytail. His robes are
dark purple. He carries a staff and tucks the spider wand out
of sight when it is not in use.
If noticed, Kaeliron will not fight. Instead, he will call
off the spiders and apologize for his actions. He will keep well
away from the PCs (if possible) and will cast web to hinder
PCs who become aggressive. He will apologize sincerely for his
rash decision, explain his party's predicament, and implores the
PCs to help him rescue his friends:
The ragged-looking wizard in soiled and tattered robes raises
his hands in a sign of peace and surrender. He begins to stammer,
then takes a deep breath and begins to speak and hopefully explain
"I must apologize. I realize now I have acted rashly but
please, hear me out. I meant only to borrow your spellbooks. I
was planning on returning them upon the morn. I would never deprive
a fellow mage of his spellbooks for longer than absolutely necessary
but as you can see, I no longer have my own spellbook, or hardly
any other equipment for that matter.
I am in a rather dire predicament, and could not risk merely
asking to borrow your spellbook. Too many adventurers these days
are little more than glorified bandits.
"You see, my adventuring companions and I had been following
this very trail, when we were set upon by two horrid creatures:
giant hairy monstrosities, like humanoid spiders, with long claws
and sharp fangs. We were taken by surprise, and the creatures
employ some sort of poison. I escaped, but my friends were soon
captured. I believe the poison was not a lethal one, for after
Delmar, a dwarven warrior in my party, collapsed, he began to
snore. I hope the others are alive as well.
"I followed them as they dragged my friends to their lair.
Before they entered the cave, I attempted to rescue my companions.
I used a wand to summon several giant spiders, which I ordered
to attack my adversaries. For some reason, however, they didn't
move! They have never acted that was before. I could not save
my friends but promised myself I return and rescue them.
"I have been waiting since for a party such as yours to
pass by. I was unsure of your honour, and had no way of knowing
if you would merely kill or ignore me were I to plead for your
assistance. After all, until my friends are rescued and I retrieve
my equipment, I have little to offer in the way of a reward. Please
forgive my suspicions. I'm sure that the spiders were no real
threat to such a powerful group such as yours, anyway. If you
are truly honourable folk, please accompany me to save my friends
from certain death!"
Here is a good opportunity for role-playing. Allow the PCs
(and their players) to debate amongst themselves whether or not
to help Kaeliron. If it seems like they are swaying towards a
decision not to help him, Kaeliron will remind them that the monsters
will doubtlessly have at least some amount of treasure, and that
he and his friends will be happy to reward the party once they
have regained their equipment. If they still decide not to help
Kaeliron, he will leave, casting web to cover his exit
if PCs try to chase him. However, if they play their alignments
right (and they are good-aligned), they should agree to help him.
Kaeliron suggests they wait until the next morning before setting
out to the ettercaps' lair. He will ask permission to use a PC
wizard's spellbook. If allowed, he will memorize the most offensive
If Kaeliron is not noticed during the battle with the hairy
spiders, he steals any spellbooks which are not extremely well
hidden. He will then retreat into the forest until about a mile
from the PCs' camp and go to sleep.
After the battle, PCs will notice that their equipment has
been roughly searched. A quick inspection will reveal that the
spellbooks are missing. If the PCs search for Kaeliron's trail,
it will not be hard to find. Characters using the tracking proficiency
gain a +9 modifier to their proficiency checks due to the soft
ground, thick underbrush, and occasional signs of passage left
by Kaeliron's rather cumbersome robes.
When Kaeliron is found, he is still asleep and will be easy
to capture. He will not resist if found. Instead he will explain
his situation (see above) and request the PCs' assistance.
If Kaeliron is not found, the next morning he memorizes the
most offensive spells available to him. He then makes his way
back to the trail (beyond the PCs' current position) and leaves
the spellbooks there. A single word will be scratched into the
dirt next to the books: "Thanks". If the PCs continue
along their way the next morning, they will find the spellbooks
about a half hour after breaking camp.
If the PCs do not meet Kaeliron and agreed to help him, they
have no more part in the adventure. Kaeliron will attempt to rescue
his friends on his own, and the PCs will continue on their way.
If the PCs meet Kaeliron but refuse to help him, he attempts
to lure the ettercaps out of their lair and to the PCs' camp in
the middle of the night. He hopes the ettercaps will then attack
the PCs (which they will), so he can return to their lair in their
absence and rescue his friends. The statistics for the two ettercaps
can be found below.
If the ettercaps attack the PCs camp, the PCs will have time
to awaken before the ettercaps arrive. The ettercaps will charge
recklessly into camp, making for a simple, straightforward combat.
If seriously injured, the ettercaps will retreat into the forest.
Part III: The Ettercap Lair
The ettercap lair is about a mile away from where the PCs made
camp. It will take only a short while to find it with Kaeliron's
The cave's entrance is between the huge, gnarled roots of an
ancient oak. The earthen tunnel slopes downward at a 45 degree
angle for about 10' before levelling off. The floor is still bumpy
and slopes slightly at various points, but there are no more extreme
slopes. The tunnels are generally about 5' tall and chambers are
6'-7' tall. The ceiling, like the floor, is uneven. Also, the
ends of roots protrude from the ceiling, hanging down about a
foot and obscuring vision of tall PCs.
The pair of ettercaps who live here are rather unusual; their
poison is not of the deadly variety. Instead it acts as a sedative.
Victims of a bite from one of these ettercaps must make a saving
throw vs. poison or immediately fall unconscious for 1d8 hours.
The ettercaps do not see this as a disadvantage, however. They
prefer fresh meat, and their unique poison allows them to save
their "food" for later consumption. Live victims are
kept in area 5.
1. Entrance Chamber
The uneven ceiling and the many hanging roots conceal an alcove
in the ceiling in the centre of this room. Waiting in the alcove
is a watch spider, one of the ettercaps' pets. It will pounce
down on the first PC to pass under the alcove. Due to the nature
of the attack, the PCs suffer a -6 penalty to their surprise rolls.
Watch Spider (spider, huge): INT 1; AL N; AC 6; MV 18;
HD 2 + 2; hp 13; THAC0 19; # AT 1; Dmg 1d6; SA poison (paralyzing);
MR nil; SZ M; ML 8; XP 270; MM/326.
Each round, there is a 30% chance that the noise of combat
will awaken the ettercap in area 2 (unless a silence,
15' radius or similar spell has been cast). If so, it will
arrive here 1d3 rounds later, ready to join in the battle.
2. Sleeping Chamber
A pot-bellied ettercap slumbers here amongst scattered human
and demi-human bones and bits of torn, bloodied clothing (unless
it has already been awakened by sounds of battle). Unless the
PCs are being especially stealthy and are not carrying a bright
light source, the ettercap will sleepily come to its senses during
the first round the PCs are in the chamber. It will spend the
next round getting to its feet, but afterwards will fight fiercely.
If the creature's chances of defeating the PCs look bad, it will
attempt to withdraw to area 3 to be assisted by the giant
Ettercap: INT 5; AL NE; AC 6; MV 12; HD 5; hp 23; THAC0
15; #AT 3; Dmg 1-3/1-3/1-8; SA poison (sedative); MR nil; SZ M;
ML 13; XP 650; MM/114.
After the battle, Kaeliron will inspect the bones and clothing
and find that some of them belong to one of his adventuring companions,
a dwarven warrior named Delmar. He is understandably distraught
by this realization, but is to worried about the other two members
of his party (who are still alive) to grieve now.
3. Spider Lair
This room is the home of the ettercaps' pet large spiders.
The room is congested with criss-crossing webs, making movement
(for the PCs and ettercaps) nearly impossible except in a "corridor"
leading from the western entrance to the northern entrance. The
ettercaps keep this area clear of webs so they may pass freely
through this room to areas 4 and 5. Scattered throughout
the webs are the belongings of the ettercaps' victims, which the
ettercaps bring here to entertain their pets. The equipment belonging
to Kaeliron and his friends can also be found here.
The spiders, however, are very protective of their nest and
will fight intruders fiercely (hence the increased morale).
Large Spiders (6): INT 1; AL N; AC 8; MV 6, Wb 15; HD
1 + 1; hp 4 each; THAC0 19, #AT 1; Dmg 1; SA poison; MR nil; SZ
s; MR 12; XP 175; MM/326.
If a fight occurs here, there is a 50% chance per round that
the ettercap from area 4 will come to investigate. In addition,
if the PCs have not encountered the ettercap from area 2
yet, there is a 30% chance per round that the noise will awaken
it. If this occurs, it will arrive 1d3 rounds later, joining the
battle against the PCs.
If a thorough search of this room is made (taking 2d6 turns),
the following items will be found (all are in rather shoddy condition):
a small beltpouch containing 100 sp, a small shield, three waterskins,
an empty backpack, two rusted daggers, an empty scabbard, seven
weeks (spoiled) rations, a silver brooch (10 gp value), a lantern,
three flasks of lamp oil, a flask of fire oil, flint and steel,
seven torches, 20' of hemp rope, a broken shortbow, two spears,
a shortsword, a battle axe, a suit of chain mail, and a quiver
containing seven flight arrows +1.
The equipment of Kaeliron and his friends can also be found
here. It consists of a suit of plate mail, a longsword, a medium
shield, a set of thieves' picks, leather armour, four daggers,
a shortsword, a dwarf-sized suit of splint mail, a footman's mace,
a small shield, a small iron helmet, three backpacks filled with
normal adventuring gear (bedrolls, rations, waterskins, torches,
etc.), one of which contains Kaeliron's spellbook and other equipment(a
potion of healing and various herbs), several beltpouches
(containing a total of 171 gp, 321 sp, and 216 cp). Kaeliron's
spellbook contains the following spells: detect magic, read
magic, magic missile, shield, shocking grasp, wall of fog; detect
invisibility, blur, knock, continual light.
If Kaeliron is still alive and conscious at this point, he
insists that the PCs do not take any of his party's gear. He doesn't
care if the PCs take any of the other equipment found here.
4. Guard Post
The other ettercap is here, keeping guard over the prisoners,
unless the PCs have already encountered it in area 3. The
creature is watching the prisoners in area 5 so it is possible
for a thief moving silently to sneak up on it and use the
Ettercap: INT 6; AL NE; AC 6; MV 12; HD 5; hp 30; THAC0
15; #AT 3; Dmg 1-3/1-3/1-8; SA poison (sedative); MR nil; SZ M:
ML 13; XP 650; MM/114.
If the ettercap fails morale, it will attempt to leave the
lair, fleeing into the forest.
This room is lit by a golden coin which continual light
has been cast upon. The coin belonged to Kaeliron's party; when
they were captured, the ettercaps took the coin and embedded it
in the ceiling here to provide light. Because of the glowing coin,
light from PCs' light sources will not give them away.
Upon entering this room, the PCs will notice two ragged human
males peering out from beyond the webs entrapping them in area
5. They cannot break the webs, however, so cannot assist
the PCs in fighting the ettercap unless a PC frees them by burning
the webs or dealing more than 10 points of damage to them with
an edged weapon (consider the webs AC 10). They will still be
reluctant to help defeat the ettercap unless supplied with weapons.
The statistics for the humans (Kaeliron's adventuring friends)
can be found in the area 5 description.
5. The Larder
This room is where the ettercaps "store" victims
before eating them. The entrance to the room is blocked by strong
webs. See area 4 description for ways to break through
One member of Kaeliron's party, a dwarven fighter named Delmaer,
has already been eaten by the ettercaps, but the other two are
Galdros: AL NG; AC 10; MV 12; F2; hp 14 (now 5); THAC0
19; #AT 1; Dmg by weapon type +1; S 16, D 12, C 12, I 8, W 9,
Ch 11; ML 9; no equipment.
Galdros is a human fighter. He is tall and lanky, but of exceptional
strength. He is currently wearing a plain but quite dirty tunic
and breeches. He sports a long beard.
Velrek: AL CG; AC 8; MV 12; T3; hp 13 (now 4); THAC0
19; #AT 1; Dmg by weapon type; S 12, D 16, C 9, I 12, W 7, Ch
8; ML 9; no equipment.
Velrek is a human thief. He is quite short (5' 3") and
thin. He is 57, old for an adventurer, and partially bald. He
has a small, hooked nose, and shifty eyes, making him look rather
suspicious and untrustworthy. He wears tight-fitting black clothes
Both men are rather dishevelled and obviously injured. They
are very glad to be rescued and to see Kaeliron again.
Concluding the Adventure
Once the ettercaps and spiders have been defeated, and Kaeliron's
friends have been rescued, the NPCs will retrieve their equipment
from area 3 (assuming the spiders there have been slain).
Once the NPC party has been re-equipped, Kaeliron will offer the
PCs the spider wand as a reward for their help. In addition, grant
each PC a story award of 250 XP for rescuing the two prisoners
and for helping Kaeliron. An extra 100 XP may be granted, at the
DM's discretion, to good-aligned PCs who role-played well by arguing
on Kaeliron's behalf.
After being freed and recovering their equipment, the NPC party
will offer their profound thanks and part ways with the PCs, continuing
towards their original destination. Perhaps someday, when things
look grim for the PCs, Kaeliron, Galdros, and Velrek will be there