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A Winter Storm In Amn
Author: Erik Thornton
System: D&D Forgotten Realms
Requirements: 3rd Level Characters
During a heavy winter season in the Cloud Peaks, a tribe of orcs and hobgoblins called the Sfararak Guk have been raiding caravans struggling to cross Fang Pass. Adventurers must find their stronghold inside a cave, once a tomb for an ancient orc king, and end the raids so that trade into Amn can return to normal. A short 3rd Edition D&D adventure set in the Forgotten Realms.
Graphic: Sfararak Guk Cave
"A Winter Storm in Amn" is a 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure
set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. This adventure is best suited for about four 3rd level characters but can
be modified to suit most low to mid level characters by altering the encounter levels or tactics.
For this adventure, the following materials should be obtained: The Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, the Monster Manual, and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. It's important to read through this entire adventure prior to actually playing,
making note of the events, encounters and situations that may be affected by the players' actions.
Amn, the land of great wealth and splendor far to the south of glorious Waterdeep, is no stranger to the hand of corruption.
Many rumors flourish and have flourished in these lands about the deeds of its inhabitants. Some tell of great heroic adventurers who have wandered the open
lands and cleansed it of dangerous and unwanted denizens. Others of the horrific and terrifying tyrants who have slaughtered the innocent or invoked evil
magicks. All of these tales have come and gone, over the years since Amn's birth as a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Yet, tales that are frequently heard among the patrons of inns and taverns often involve the heavily traveled Fang Pass to the north. The Trade Way crosses
through the Cloud Peaks, the midsized range that is usually regarded as Amn's northern border. Along this route, one must travel between the two steep crags
simply called the Fangs (thus Fang Pass) and southward into Amn proper. Most merchants travelling south to Amn are inclined to take this route as it is the
fastest and arguably the safest, when the weather permits. Even so, the occasional impatient trader or foolhardy caravan decides to take this path in the dead of winter, becoming lost in the mountains
and found dead in their tracks the next spring by a wandering ranger. The winter storms often bring heavy rains in the lower elevations and dense snowfall in the higher
(at about 7000 feet) often trapping the unaware travelers and forcing them to make camp or attempt to continue on foot in search of shelter. This is usually the fate of those
unlucky people reported missing during these months. In fact, a small band of brave hunters, rangers and mountaineers have gathered together as a full time rescue crew in
Nashkel because of these occasional emergencies.
In recent times, the rumors have spread and grown as rumors do, yet the tales of the Fang Pass have become more and more frequent among the citizens of Amn.
Most tend to ignore these tales regarding them either as exaggerations or as unfortunate coincidences, but a few have become rather suspicious and suspect something far more sinister is in the works.
It's sometime in late Uktar (November - the seasons are as follows starting with the equivalent of January: Hammer, Alturiak, Ches, Tarsakh,
Mirtul, Kythorn, Flamerule, Eleasias, Eleint, Marpenoth, Uktar, and Nightal). The weather has been very wet and rainy as the
yearly winter storms come in from the coast. The temperature has been rather chilly (equivalent highs at about 65 degrees) but no major freezes have been
reported elsewhere in Amn, other than in the mountains. The PCs begin just outside the large caravan city of Crimmor.
The Fangs loom over Crimmor's north side, currently covered in snow and shrouded behind clouds. Behind the Fangs, a glimpse of the Cloud Peaks are occasionally seen on clearer days. To the south lie the rolling fertile flatlands that provide much of the Western Forgotten Realms with grains such as wheat, rye and barley as well as numerous other crops. The Alandor
River that flows along the north side of the city and eventually empties into the ocean at Athkatla, is swift and full. The heavy Winter precipitation periodically causes the River to flow over its banks, flooding part of the city, but so far this year the Alandor has remained relatively safe.
Immediately, those who are new to town notice a high number of caravans looking to hire just about anyone who can help them cross the Cloud Peaks. They learn this as they talk to the merchants
or visit the taverns. In fact, posted in just about every public area (i.e. taverns, inns, etc.) are dozens of signs displaying different caravan companies who are looking to hire able bodied people to help get through Fang Pass. Amidst these postings is the occasional "going out of business" sale, no doubt a result of the recent lack of business for the small-time merchants.
Basically, when asked about the general state of trade in town, most will simply say that it has been very slow and very difficult. The reason being that as of late Marpenoth or early Uktar, heavy snows in the mountains have all but completely blocked off Fang Pass, thus keeping most of the traffic there from getting through. Some of the few travelers that have successfully crossed into Amn say that Nashkel, the small trade town north of the Cloud Peaks, has hundreds of caravans and traders camped just outside the town. All are waiting for the to pass clear up or for more guides and supplies.
Another problem with trade has come from the shipping industry. Recently, the heavy storms have caused a few trade vessels to disappear at sea or wind up hundreds of miles from their destinations. All of these incidences occurred with ships that were headed north to Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, or even as far away as Neverwinter.
Yet, not only has the weather been affecting the seafaring trade, pirate activity from the south has caused many ships to return to lands such as Calimshan. Some of the trade ships and their cargo have even been seized by them and sold at ports such as Zazesspur, Velen and Memnon.
The Council of Six has been rather quiet lately concerning the trade problems. Some people even suspect the Council as having some sort of role in the current predicament because of their inactivity. Others proclaim that it is the result of an age old trade war between Waterdeep and Athkatla over the relocation of the thieves' guild called The Shadow Thieves, though most of this is simply rumor and hearsay. A few insist on the involvement of some of the main notorious groups in town such as the previously mentioned Shadow Thieves and the Knights of the Shield.
No one seems to know for a fact that anything other than sheer coincidence and poor weather is to blame for the lack of caravans able to enter from the north, but the tension and frustration builds for each day that goes by without answers.
- The PCs have been hired to guard a caravan from elsewhere in Amn. Tired and hungry, they arrive in Crimmor and look for an inn or tavern to rest for a while.
- Word quickly spreads throughout Amn of work opportunities, mainly in Athkatla, Crimmor and along the other cities of the Trade Way. Almost all of these are simply caravan's looking to hire just about any able body to help in crossing Fang Pass. The PCs arrive seeking to assist the traders and perhaps make a good sum of gold in the process.
- A close friend or relative of one of the PCs has been reported missing after trying to cross Fang Pass in the recent weeks. They were last seen departing from Crimmor with a caravan.
- The reports of missing travelers in Fang Pass has reached an all time high this winter and the PCs have offered to help in a search and rescue.
Ultimately, the PCs should discover the real source of the trade problem: the Sfararak Guk, a tribe of orcs, hobgoblins and even a couple ogres that have been attacking the few struggling caravans trying to cross Fang Pass, killing all the occupants and looting all their goods. The tribe then retreats to a nearby cave sending out scouts to watch for more unlucky victims. They believe the cave is an ancient tomb for a long forgotten orc king who once led an unsuccessful campaign against groups of elves living in Shantel Othreier.
A few days after arriving in Crimmor, the PCs find a small tavern called the Swinging Sickle where they rest a while, share a few drinks and eat a meal.
The Swinging Sickle is an old wooden building that lies on the outskirts of the city, near the overcrowded caravan camps. It seems to be a rather quiet hole-in-the-wall during the daytimes, but as evening draws near, large groups of travelers and lower class merchants begin shuffling in. Quickly, the bar becomes crowded and teeming with conversation, mostly related to the business of the day or the recent bad weather.
The Swinging Sickle is run by Daworn Narlman (male human Com4), a former rancher who likes to serve travelers so he can keep up with the latest news from elsewhere in Faerun. Even though competition in Crimmor is fierce, Daworn's keeps his prices average even though the quality is good. He willingly serves the city guard who frequent his establishment, sometimes offering free drinks to keep the peace. Occasionally, though, certain drunken off-duty guards who come to take advantage of the free drink policy, try to harass his other customers but he usually manages to settle things down.
Later that evening, a small group of city guardsmen (3 total) stop in for a drink or five when they notice a skinny, spectacle wearing, young easterner named Tegira Sho sitting in the corner glaring over a book and sipping some hot tea. The guards eventually start to jeer at the studious man,
who simply ignores their yelling until one of them becomes a little too rough and grabs him, threatening to use him as a target for crossbow practice, or worse, take him in for interrogations. At this point, PCs of good alignment may feel obligated to step
in and stop the guards from hurting Tegira, which immediately causes the drunken guards to drop what they were doing and direct hostile attention toward the intervening PC. Careful roleplaying allows the PCs to get out of the situation without too much of a hassle, but otherwise
a fight breaks out. If any of the PCs pull out weapons, one of the guards will try to escape and alert other guards about the situation (10 Human Ftr1 and 1 Human Ftr3). If the PCs are victorious with the fight and no one escapes to alert other guards, the barkeep will inform them that they better get out of town soon to avoid being arrested. If they lose the fight,
the guards take them in for interrogation at one of the city guard posts. Either way, Tegira will try and avoid having any violent confrontations with the guards
and urges the PCs to leave if things start to get heated.
If the situation with the guards is completely ignored (for instance, no PCs step in to counter the actions of the guards), then they observe Tegira take a few punches in the stomach until he falls to the ground. At this point, the guards leave without offering the barkeep a single danter for their drinks
and the young man finally grabs his book and leaves.
Guards War1 (EL 2) (3): CR 1/2; Medium-size humanoid (human); HD 1d8+1; hp 6, 8, 5; Init +1; Spd 20 ft; AC 15 (touch 11, flat-footed 14); Atk +3 melee (1d6+2/19-20, shortsword) or +2 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); AL LN; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will -1; Str 14, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 11.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +2, Handle Animal +2, Gather Information +2, Intimidate +2, Jump +4, Ride +3.; Street Smart, Endurance.
Possessions: Scale mail, shortsword, crossbow, 20 crossbow bolts, 2d4 gp.
NPC Tegira Sho: Male Human Div3; CR 3; Medium Size Humanoid (human); HD 3d4+3; hp 14; Init +2; Spd 30ft; AC 12 (touch 12, flat footed 10); Atk +1 melee (1d4-1/19-20, masterwork dagger) or +3 ranged touch (by spell); AL NG; SV Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +4; Str 9, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 10.
Languages: Common, Chondathan, Dwarven, Draconic, Shaaran.
Skills and Feats: (36 total ranks) Alchemy +9, Concentration +5, Craft (calligraphy) +4, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (Amn) +5, Knowledge (Western Heartlands) +5, Knowledge (geography) +6, Profession (scribe) +4, Scry +5, Spellcraft +9; Skill Focus (knowledge arcana), Spell Focus (divination), Silent Spell.
Wizard Spells prepared: (5/4/3. Base DC = 13 + spell level, 15 + spell level for divination spells): 0-detect magic*(2), mage hand, resistance, open/close; 1st-mage armor, burning hands(2), comprehend languages*; 2nd-detect thoughts*, locate object*, knock.
Spellbook: 0-resistance, ray of frost, detect poison*, daze, flare, light, dancing lights, ghost sound, mage hand, mending, open/close, arcane mark, detect magic*, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st-hold portal, protection from chaos, mage armor, comprehend languages*, identify*, true strike*, burning hands, erase, expeditious retreat, feather fall, message; 2nd-arcane lock, obscure object, detect thoughts*, locate object*, see invisibility*, knock.
*These spells belong to the school of Divination, the characterís specialty. Prohibited Schools: Necromancy.
Possessions: scrolls (2x identify, detect magic, knock); potion of cure light wounds, potion of catís grace, masterwork dagger, 38 gp.
Tegira Sho was born in Amn, the son of traders from the distant East. He barely remembers anything about his parents other than that they were part of a large caravan that carried rare and expensive spices. Throughout his youth, Tegira was taught to be a scribe and apprentice for an old, reclusive wizard who had adopted the lad at a young age. By the time he was in his late teenage years, the old wizard had passed away and Tegira had inherited a small bookstore in Athkatla. Recently, after falling on hard times, Tegira was forced to sell the store and is now trying to leave Amn and perhaps travel north. He has also recently promised his old
friend Yeshif that he would accompany him next time they try to cross Fang Pass in order to make up for a prior debt. Noticing that the PCs look like the adventuring type, he may inform them of his friend's caravan and that they are seeking to hire anyone who can help them cross Fang Pass.
Shortly following the bar incident, assuming the PCs are not in any kind of trouble, a merchant named Yeshif approaches them with a proposition. His caravan is desperately trying to get North to reach Berdusk, and needs the assistance of some adventurers to help in crossing the Pass. He offers a payment of 15 gp a day as well as three daily meals to each person. If the PCs choose to barter with him, he will only pay as much 20 gp/day (all the caravan company can afford). If the PCs agree, he will inform them to meet at the Northeast section of town, at the gate the next day at dawn. Yeshif estimates that it could take a tenday to cross the pass, depending on the weather and amount of snowfall. If the PCs choose to seek out other employment from other caravan companies, they only receive similar offers for their work.
NPC Yeshif: Male human Rog3; CR 3; Medium Size Humanoid (human); HD 3d6; hp 13; Init +6; Spd 30 ft; AC 16 (touch 12, flat footed 14); Atk +5 melee (1d6+2/18-20, +1 rapier), +5 ranged (1d6/x3, masterwork shortbow); SA Sneak attack +2d6; SQ Evasion, Uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC); AL CG; SV Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +2; Str 12, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 14.
Languages: Common, Chondathan.
Skills and Feats: (46 total ranks) Appraise +8, Bluff +10, Craft (carpentry) +2, Diplomacy +6, Forgery +6, Innuendo +3, Intuit Direction +5, Knowledge (Amn) +2, Listen +6, Profession (driver) +5, Sense Motive +4; Improved Initiative, Silver Palm, Weapon Focus (rapier).
Possessions: masterwork chain shirt, +1 rapier, masterwork shortbow, 40 arrows, 128 gp.
Traders Exp1 (6): CR 1/2; Medium Size Humanoid (human); HD 1d6; hp 5, 6, 6, 3, 4, 3; Init +1; Spd 30 ft; AC 11 (touch 11, flat footed 10); Atk +0 melee (1d8/x3, shortspear), +1 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); AL NG; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +4; Str 11, Dex 13, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: (36 total ranks) Appraise +8, Bluff +5, Craft (cobbling, gemcutting, leatherworking, or blacksmithing) +6, Diplomacy +5, Handle Animal +5, Knowledge (Amn) +4, Profession (driver) +4, Ride +5, Sense Motive +4, Spot +2; Skill Focus (appraise), Iron Will.
Possessions: leather armor, shortspear, light crossbow, 20 bolts, 2d10 gp.
The caravan carries a variety of goods: approximately 15 barrels of rye, 1 large crate filled with clothing (latest Amn fashions), 18 bottles of expensive wine (worth 15 gp each, this is the most important merchandise Yeshif carries), and about 420 gp in a hidden stash on his main wagon.
Three wagons are being led by draft horses, with two traders driving each wagon.
Heavy Horses (8): CR 1; Large Animal; HD 3d8+6; hp 14, 16, 20, 14, 10, 18, 11, 19; Init +1; Spd 50 ft; AC 13 (touch 11, flat footed 12); Atk +3 melee (1d6+2, 2 hooves); AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6.
Skills and Feats: Listen +6, Spot +6; Scent.
As the early morning mist rolls in from the coast, the group sets out along the Trade Way. To the north the snow capped peaks of the mountains are barely visible behind a blanket of greyish cloud cover. The two crags commonly known as the "Fangs" can also be seen just along the horizon, with their peaks covered in snow.
The trip from Crimmor to Nashkel is approximately 100 miles, about two thirds of which passes through heavy mountainous terrain. It takes one full day before the group reaches the Fangs, marking the entrance to the Pass. After this point they head up along switchbacks and a well trodden yet very rugged road. The mountain road passes between steep rocky cliffs with numerous pine and fir trees. The following encounters should be used while in this terrain.
Encounters along Fang Pass
After the PCs enter Fang Pass, roll or select from the following encounters once per day. Keep in mind that the PCs should, at some point, become aware of the Sfararak Guk and their stronghold.
||The Sfararuk Guk Stronghold: Strange howls and grunts are heard in the distance. If the group follows the source of the sound, they find a large group of Orcs guarding the entrance to a small cave. This cave is the hideout of the Sfararak Guk. See Part 2.
||Wolves (1d4): MM 204. The wolves tend to avoid large groups but may see a solitary pack animal as prey.
||Abandoned Caravan: Several wagons and carriages are found overturned, destroyed, and covered in snow. Inspection of these remnants will reveal half a dozen dead, frozen bodies of human traders all struck with crude, broken arrows. Further inspection will also show that the caravan was plundered of all goods.
||Wolverines (1d2): MM 204. If approached or confronted, the wolverines will attack to defend their territory.
||Sfararak Guk Orc Patrol (3d4): MM 146. The patrol is wandering along the pass in search of caravans or other travelers to plunder. Once they see the group, they will attack. If secretly followed, they will eventually lead the PCs to the Sfararak Guk Stronghold as they report back. See Part 2.
||Lost Draft Horse (1d2): MM 197. These heavy draft horses were most likely part of another caravan and were either abandoned or ran away. The horses are now starving and possibly panicked.
||Sfararak Guk Hobgoblin Trackers (1d4): MM 119. These hobgoblins are out tracking down anything worth looting. There is a good chance that the hobgoblins are already trailing the PCs. Once they see anyone or anything of value, they will size up the target and report back for reinforcements. If secretly followed, they will eventually return to the Sfararak Guk Stronghold.
||Black Bear (1): MM 193. The black bear is very evasive and will avoid the party altogether. It will only attack if cornered.
||Sfararak Guk Ogre (1): MM 144. The ogre has wandered away from the cave and is most likely looking for something to eat. The PCs will make an excellent dinner if they are spotted. If secretly followed, the Ogre will eventually return to the Sfararak Guk Stronghold. See Part 2.
||Lost Merchants (1d4 Com1): After their caravan was attacked and plundered by a band of orcs, these merchants managed to escape by running into the woods. They desperately seek help from anyone who will offer it. If questioned, the merchants explain that they saw a large group of orcs standing near the entrance to a cave a few days ago.
||Deserted Goods: A pile of crates containing several soiled bags of spices, grains, or other foods was left behind by a previous caravan in order to unload the weight.
In about a day of uninterrupted travel, travelers will reach approximately 5000 feet, where they begin to notice a fair amount of snowfall on the ground. By 6000 feet, the snow is about 3 feet deep, slowing the pace significantly. On the north side, the terrain begins to level a bit and finally descends. The snowfall on this side of the pass is very deep in some areas (as much as 6 feet) and snowshoes are a significant advantage if they are available. Once the PCs get through the pass and descend back to about 3000 feet, there will be fewer and fewer pine and fir trees with more scrubland trees such as oaks. This area is mostly gently rolling hills for about 20 or 30 miles, until they reach Nashkel. North of Nashkel, the terrain is relatively flat, rolling scrubland.
Weather and Climate of Fang Pass
Winter temperatures tend to vary somewhat in the Amn region. The main determination of temperature is based primarily on elevation, although the northernmost portions tend to have slightly lower temperatures than similar areas to the south. The average daytime temperature along the Pass is about 30 degrees F with nighttime lows at about 15 degrees F. Table 3-19 on page 89 in the DMG (under Cold Climate) should be used to determine the random weather conditions in the Cloud Peaks. This should be done once per day.
Entrance: (EL 4)
Peering from behind a large, granite boulder and past the dense pines, several figures can be seen standing around a large opening in the side of rocky cliff. The opening appears to be about 20 feet wide and 5 feet high. The cliff rises to a ridge about 30 feet up.
Anyone who makes a successful Listen check (DC 10) hears several grunting sounds coming from the figures standing near the opening. After watching the entrance for more than a few rounds, the PCs might notice the entrance is only lightly guarded most of the time (8 orcs). The rest of the Sfararak Guk are out hunting down caravans or some other unwary folk.
Orc Guards War1 (8): CR 1/2; Medium-size humanoid (Orc); HD 1d8; hp 5, 2, 2, 4, 3, 8, 6, 3; Init +0; Spd 20 ft; AC 14 (touch 10, flat-footed 14); Atk +3 melee (1d6, club) or +1 ranged (1d6, javelin); SQ Darkvision 60 ft, light sensitivity; AL CE; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -1; Str 15, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 8.
Skills and Feats: Climb +4, Jump +4, Listen +1, Spot +1; Alertness.
Possessions: Hide armor, small wooden shield, club, javelin.
Tactics: If enemies are seen, the orcs initially attack by throwing javelins then form a semi-circle around the entrance waiting for the intruders to approach. If ranged weapons are used against them, the orcs charge forward with their clubs and fight to the death.
A Knowledge (geology) skill check (DC 20) might reveal that the cave was formed by a lava flow, but has later been hollowed out and eroded by melting snows that formed an ancient underground river. The PCs might notice (Spot check DC 10) that the entrance to the cave shows heavy foot traffic, going in and out.
From the entrance of the cave, this area slopes down about 10 feet. The ceiling stays at roughly 5 feet high then it rises to about 10 feet. About 80 feet inside the cave, a stream flows from underneath a large rock on one wall and flows along a down slope until falling beneath another crevice in the opposite wall. On the other side of the stream, a few large cave pillars and stalagmites are visible in the darkness. The floor is a smooth, damp stone and the walls are typical unworked cavern walls, covered with dark crevices. A cold, damp air fills the cavern and has a faint mildew smell.
Once inside, torches or other light sources are needed for those who do not have darkvision. The ground still shows heavy signs of foot traffic but the floor of the cave is not muddy. The stream flows in a narrow, 2 foot deep gully that is very slippery. Anyone attempting to cross the stream on foot must make a Balance check (DC 15) to keep from slipping.
The foot prints left near the entrance are not as prevalent on the other side of the stream. If the PCs make any loud noises, there is a chance that this will alert the ogre in area 3.
A few large stalagmites, cave pillars and other cavern features can be found here. The ceiling ranges from 10 to 20 feet high while the ground is strewn with several small crevices and drop-offs making movement difficult and slow. Leaning on one of the large columns are a couple wooden wagon wheels and along the far wall are several old, rotting barrels.
This area gradually slopes upwards from the stream found in area 1. There are only a few tracks here, leading toward area 4 and area 3. Upon inspection, the wheels are found to have all the metal parts stripped off. On the southern wall are about 8 barrels full of month old wheat and some of these have been used as latrines by the Sfararak Guk. Loud noises still have a chance of alerting the ogre in area 3.
Treasure: A careful Search (DC 15) inside the putrid smelling barrels will reveal one thing the orcs didn't find: A small pouch with 2 small rubies (worth 100 gp each), 18 gp, 15 sp and 8 cp.
3: (EL 2)
The floor here is much rockier than the other parts of the cave. The ceiling slopes down a foot or so, to about 8 ft. On the far wall the area is covered with different types of cave formations that have been tampered with and broken and the rock is black with soot. Lying in the room is a pile of rubbish including pieces of barrels, harnesses and a few scattered bones of animals that were probably horses.
Leaning against one of the large columns and busy gnawing on an animal femur is a large, hunching humanoid creature.
The large creature is an ogre affectionately called "Snot Flower", at least by the Sfararak Guk. Unlike other ogres, Snot Flower has almost no hair and speaks common, although awkwardly. His thick skin is a sickeningly pale color and is covered with numerous growths, scars and crude tattoos.
Snot Flower: CR 2; Large Giant; HD 4d8+12; hp 34; Init -1; Spd 30 ft; AC 16 (touch 8, flat footed 16); Atk +8 melee (2d8+6/x3, huge warhammer); AL LE; SV Fort +7, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 23, Dex 9, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 8.
Skills and Feats: Climb +9, Listen +2, Spot +2; Power Attack.
Possessions: Huge warhammer, large sack containing 3 human skulls, 1 horse skull, 1 rusty door handle (with several teeth marks), 4 gp, a small pouch full of dead insects, three rusty daggers, a useless broken shield, and a +1 short sword.
Tactics: If Snotflower sees any intruders inside the cavern, he usually questions them first while deciding if he can crush them easily or not. If so, he attacks weaker unarmored opponents first and tries to block off the only cave exit. Otherwise, if he thinks the intruders are more powerful, Snot Flower tries to escape toward area 6 and alert the other Sfararak Guk.
4: (EL 1)
The ceiling in this area rises to a peak which is about 18 feet up, substantially higher than other areas of the cavern. After passing two or three very large rock columns and stalagmite structures, the floor begins to smooth out and has fewer dips or crevices. The air reveals a faint smell of smoke mixed with strong, putrid odors, such as from a dirty latrine. On one of the walls, a natural alcove seems to open into a very small passage and the passage continues onward. A few dim lights are seen ahead.
On a successful Listen check (DC 8), the sound of pounding metal can be heard echoing from somewhere in the cavern. If the Listen check is 12 or better, a faint snoring sound is heard as well. If the "pounding metal" sound is followed, it leads ultimately to area 7. There are two possible ways of passing here: the cavern continues eastward into area 6 and a very small opening in the rock can be found heading south into area 5. The only tracks found here lead east and require someone with the Track feat and a successful Wilderness Lore check of 20 or better to be found. The opening to the south is a tight squeeze, at about 10 inches wide at the narrowest point. Typical elves, halflings, gnomes and some half elves might be capable of fitting through the crevice without any armor but a determined PC can try to widen the passage if certain characters cannot get through. Hanging out behind a rock outcropping, right before entering area 6 are two drunk, half asleep Hobgoblin Guards, the source of the snoring sound. Any loud noises created by the PCs, including the typical sounds of combat, could alert the Sfararak Guk in area 6.
Drunk Hobgoblin Guards War1 (2): CR 1/2; Medium-size humanoid (Goblinoid); HD 1d8+1; hp 6, 8; Init +1; Spd 20 ft; AC 14 (touch 11, flat-footed 13); Atk +3 melee (1d8+1/x3, shortspear) or +2 melee (1d6+1, club); SQ Darkvision 60 ft; AL LE; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 13, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 9.
Skills and Feats: Handle Animal +2, Intimidate +1; Weapon Focus (shortspear).
Possessions: Shortspear, hide armor, club, small empty barrel (formerly filled with cheap ale).
Tactics: The two hobgoblins are drunk from the ale found in the barrels of area 6 and as a result, receive a -4 to all attack rolls, skill checks and saving throws. If alerted to any intruders, the two guards quickly run into area 6 to warn the other Sfararak Guk.
XP Adjustment: Because of the disadvantages the hobgoblins receive as a result of their drunken state, XP rewards should be divided in half for this encounter.
The most noticeable thing about this area is the dry, stale air. This part of the cave seems to receive little ventilation at all and breathing is difficult. The floor is relatively flat and everything is covered in heavy sand and dust. Hanging from one wall, a very brittle, old rope is found leading to a ledge about 20 feet off the ground. The temperature here also seems much cooler than elsewhere in the cave.
Because of the slight lack of air in here, open flames (such as from torches) will diminish significantly. Thus, light sources provided by an open flame only provide half their normal light radius (ex. torch light extends in a 10 ft radius instead of the normal 20 ft). Upon inspection, no tracks will be found anywhere. A successful Search (DC 15) of the area will reveal two things. First, hidden underneath a thick pile of dust on the far east wall is a carved rock inscribed with ancient Hulgorkyn writing. See FRCS page 85. Anyone who can successfully decipher them discover that they say the following: "King Leyinegh rests here after falling to elves of Shantel Othreier." The second thing found by someone inspecting the room will be a small hole on the south wall. The hole was once an opening into another chamber in the cave but has long since collapsed. The rope is far too old to use and falls apart if anyone touches it. Climbing the ledge is extremely difficult requiring a successful Climb check (DC 25). Anyone who makes a Listen check (DC 20) hears a slight, echoed mumbling sound coming from the ledge.
Treasure: Anyone reaching far inside the hole will find a small, crude statue of what appears to be an orc. Chipping away some of the outer layers of encrusted dirt and rock will reveal a more ornate golden statue of an orc king (worth 400 gp).
6: (EL 4)
The ceiling here rises to nearly 20 feet to a total of about 40 feet. A few medium and large pillars can be found here as well as a particularly large rock. There are also several makeshift beds, a few old tables with chairs, and crude weapons and equipment lying around. Loud hammering sounds can be heard echoing from behind the large rock and two natural alcoves can be seen against one wall of the cavern. On an adjacent wall that has a much flatter surface are several crude wall paintings. The largest painting appears to be a depiction of an orc-like creature impaling a figure riding on horseback. The image is extremely faded and difficult to see completely and the other paintings are far too eroded to make out any image.
The large rock separates this area from area 7.
Treasure: Lying about the room are 18 javelins, 4 great axes, 7 spears, 4 clubs and 3 short swords. In the two large alcoves are the following items: 8 barrels of poor quality ale, 4 barrels of old, stale rye flour, 17 cases of fashionable clothing (each case worth 112 gp), 3 wooden chests filled with silk thread (each chest worth 45 gp), 10 bottles of very expensive wine (each worth 30 gp), 2 crates filled with broken pottery and hay, and a chest containing 109 gp, 54 sp, 107 cp, 5 +1 crossbow bolts and a scarab of golembane (clay).
Orcs (6): hp 6, 6, 2, 5, 5, 4; See Monster Manual page 147.
Hobgoblins (2): hp 6, 8; See Monster Manual page 119.
Tactics: If the Sfararak Guk in the area are alerted to the presence of the PCs, the orcs form a line near the entrance and use their javelins to attack at range. The hobgoblins stand in the rear, also using their javelins to attack and sounding a war cry to summon Ulgogth from area 7. Ulgogth arrives with his lieutenants after 2 rounds of combat has started. If they are unaware of the intruders, the orcs and hobgoblins are found resting, preparing weapons, or gambling over loot.
7: (EL 5)
The walls here are covered with heavy black soot no doubt from the large forge found against the far wall. The soot covered ceiling rises about 25 feet and the floor is smooth, packed dirt. Several weapons are seen leaning against a large column near the center of the room and a few buckets of water lie on the ground next to them.
The hammering sound heard in other areas originates in this area. An orc named Ulgogth and two other hobgoblins are busy hammering some newly forged axes on a crude anvil. Ulgogth is the leader of the Sfararak Guk and the other two are his lieutenants. He wears very elaborate looking black studded leather armor and is covered with complicated tattoos and scars. On the north side of the room, a crude, orcish made furnace heats the metal used by Ulgogth to make weapons. The heat in this room nears 110 degrees F because of the furnace.
Treasure: There are 4 great axes, 3 spears and 4 short swords leaning against the column as well as several shafts usable for making spears. A successful Search check (DC 20) reveals some crevices hiding Ulgogth's personal stash: 161 gp, 84 sp, 2239 cp, a potion of enlarge, a +1 small wooden shield of bashing and 3 gems (1 deep blue spinel worth 500 gp, 1 bloodstone worth 50 gp, and 1 deep green spinel worth 100 gp).
Ulgogth Ftr1/Sor2/Bbn1: CR 4; Medium-size humanoid (orc); HD 1d10+1 plus 2d4+2 plus 1d12+1; hp 29; Init -1; Spd 40 ft; AC 13 (touch 9, flat footed 14); Atk +7 melee (1d6+4/x4, +1 heavy pick); SQ Darkvision 60 ft, light sensitivity, Rage 1/day; AL LE; SV Fort +5, Ref -1, Will +4; Str 19, Dex 9, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 14.
Skills and Feats: (16 total ranks) Craft (weaponsmithing) +9, Knowledge (orc history) +4.5, Intimidate +4, Wilderness Lore +3, Spellcraft +2; Skill Focus (Knowledge orc history), Combat Casting, Skill Focus (Craft weaponsmithing).
Spells Known (6/5; base DC = 12 + spell level; 15% arcane spell failure): 0-arcane mark, daze, detect magic, flare, ray of frost; 1st-comprehend languages, ray of enfeeblement.
Possessions: +1 heavy pick, +1 studded leather armor of shadow.
Several years ago, Ulgogth heard a story about an ancient battle that took place between a tribe of orcs and elves from a forest region called Shantel Othreier. An elven warband had invaded and destroyed several of the orcish territories in the Cloud Peaks in an attempt to decrease the raids into nearby elven communities. As a result of the invasion, the desperate orcs of one village had run low on food sometime during a harsh winter season. Eventually, the elves descended upon the village in a bloody slaughter that left two thirds of the orcs dead. The few survivors retreated into a nearby cave, becoming trapped there due to the heavy winter snows and slowly began to starve after a few days had passed. It is even said that some had resorted to cannibalism before the entire community perished. Later that year, an orc scouting party from another tribe called the Sfararak Guk came upon the grisly remains and vowed to get revenge. An orcish king arose named Leyinegh who united what was left of the orcs in the Cloud Peaks and attacked several elven communities in Shantel Othreier. The campaign ended when reinforcements from Evereska met with the orcs, crushing the orc forces and killing King Leyinegh.
Ulgogth found what he believes is the cave-tomb of King Leyinegh and decided to finish what had started so long ago. He gathered several hobgoblins and orcs together and reformed a band he called the Sfararak Guk, after the tribe in the tale. Since the onset of winter, the Sfararak Guk have been busy raiding the pass to gather resources and power. Ulgogth believes that he is possessed by the spirit of King Leyinegh and is searching for his actual resting place, which was actually destroyed in a cave collapse years ago.
Hobgoblin Lieutenants War2 (2): CR 1; Medium-size humanoid (goblinoid); HD 2d8+6; hp 18, 15; Init +6; Spd 30 ft; AC 12 (touch 12, flat footed 10); Atk +5 melee (1d8+2/x3, masterwork shortspear), +4 ranged (1d6, javelin); SQ Darkvision 60 ft; AL LE; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will -1; Str 14, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 9.
Skills and Feats: Climb +6, Intimidate +3, Jump +4; Improved Initiative.
Possessions: masterwork shortspear, 2 javelins, hide armor, 4d10 gp.
Tactics: If aware of any intruders other than in this area, Ulgogth and his lieutenants join the Sfararak Guk in area 6, which takes 2 rounds. Otherwise, Ulgogth sends his lieutenants to charge while he casts spells from behind if intruders enter this area. If Ulgogth feels he is outmatched (i.e. his lieutenants are slain, he is intimidated, etc.), he attempts to bargain with the PCs for his freedom, offering gold.
8: (EL 3)
This area has a very low ceiling, about 4 ft high, and is only accessible by climbing up a sheer 20 ft high cavern wall. In the far corner of this area, a stone sarcophagus lies partially open and a very brittle human skeleton lies on the ground beside the sarcophagus.
Inside the sarcophagus is nothing but a thick layer of dust. Any remains that would have been inside have been completely disentegrated or already looted. This area is also haunted by an Allip. The allip is the spirit of the man whose skeleton lies on the ground near the sarcophagus. He was a part of an adventuring party from long ago that somehow collapsed part of the cave. See area 5. His companions were killed in the collapse and he couldn't exit the cave, so he eventually decided to kill himself, becoming the tormented spirit of an allip.
Treasure: If the area is Searched (DC 15), a gold ring worth 50 gp will be found on one of the finger bones.
Allip (1): hp 19; See Monster Manual page 16.
Tactics: Anyone entering the area must immediately make a Will save (DC 16) against the Allip's Babble.
Either killing or capturing Ulgogth, the leader of the Sfararak Guk, will cause the orcish band to eventually retreat to other parts of the mountains where they will no longer threaten the trade route through Fang Pass. Successfully navigating a caravan through the pass to Nashkel will gain the party a moderate amount of respect as mountain guides. But, if the Sfararak Guk are not stopped, the band will grow larger in number eventually making the pass way too dangerous for anyone to cross. If the PCs fail to discover the Sfararak Guk cave during their first attempt through the pass, the DM is advised to automatically use the Sfararak Guk Stronghold encounter specified on the "Encounters Along Fang Pass" chart during the second attempt. Keeping in mind that this encounter should be used after the second or third day along the pass to help ensure that the appropriate environment is in the higher elevations. Otherwise, news of the Sfararak Guk and their defeated leader will come as a surprise to most of the residents of Nashkel but also as a dire warning that there may be an even more dangerous foe involved.