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System: AD&D 2nd Edition
Requirements: lower level adventures traveling in a rich mining region
The Good Hills area is civilized, and despite recent troubles it is mostly safe from major humanoid raids and similar threats. Still, there are some ancient burial grounds of unknown origin in the area. The Keoish would rather "let sleeping evils lie" and generally have the good sense to leave such things alone, but adventurers are another matter.
Some days earlier, Lord Agar, a minor noble of the region, led
a group of adventurers into these rich hills with the intention
of raiding some of the ancient barrows there. In one such tomb,
the adventurers awakened a powerful guardian. The creature proved
far too mighty for the party, and only Agar escaped with his life
- or so he thought.
Actually, Agar's doom was the most horrible of all. Only hours
after his escape, Agar's body erupted into painful, puss-filled
boils. By the time he reached the hamlet of Logan, Agar knew he
was not long for this world, and would never reach home alive.
The dying man thus sealed a bargain with the folk of Logan: in
return for all his remaining wealth (six alexandrite stones worth
100 gold pieces each), the citizens would bury him near the chapel
on ground concentrated to Beory, whose worship Agar had left in
his younger days.
Following Agar's death, however, the citizens reneged on the deal.
Fearing the strange, magical illness which slew the luckless fellow,
they buried the body instead in the hills near the dorf. That
night at midnight, however, Agar's corpse climbed from its shallow
grave and shambled into Logan, seeking to claim its rightful resting
place. The revenant was halted by the wall surrounding the chapel,
so it stood clawing at the gate for two hours before returning
to its grave. The creature has been repeating these actions every
On that first night, the old priest tending the local chapel to
Ulaa died on its steps, suffering a heart attack as he rushed
out to investigate the sound at the gates. In the following week,
three of the dorf's 12 families have abandoned their homes and
moved elsewhere. The remaining citizens are reluctant to leave
the mines which have provided them with comfortable livings and
seeking an uncertain fate elsewhere, but this resistance is rapidly
vanishing. These people are not Evil, simply greedy, and most
feel rather guilty about denying Lord Agar his promised burial.
They feel especially guilty about the death of Father Solenko
on the chapel steps, as he was unaware of their duplicity and
would never have condoned it. They will not speak to outsiders
of these things, however; their shame is too great.
Your party has come upon a small dorf just as sunlight is fading.
In the center of the settlement, you see a small chapel surrounded
by an eight foot high wall. Facing the chapel is a two story hostel,
and placed here and there about the chapel are a dozen or so homes
with a single outhouse behind each. Behind the hostel are two
outhouses and stables. A sign identifies the small community as
Logan, and given its location and the scars on the nearby hillsides,
the people who dwell here clearly earn their living mining these
When the party draws close, they will be able to identify the
sign of Beory upon the chapel. A closer look will also reveal
the claw marks covering the locked gate. Peering over the eight
feet high wall reveals a small, peaceful cemetery. When the party
enters the hostel, however, they will be greeted by screams and
dropped dishes. Every one of Logan's 60 or so remaining inhabitants
are crowded into the hostel's large common room. Several of the
men are carrying mining tools, obviously for use as weapons. Everyone
is wide-eyed and clearly frightened. The following morning, after
some debate, about half the men will head for their mines, and
the remainder will stay with their families. No children will
be allowed outside.
The party will be offered the use of one of the large unoccupied
rooms upstairs. No payment is requested, Just leave 'em as you
found 'em. Should the party attempt to talk with the folk of the
dorf, however, they will find the adults unresponsive, and any
friendly children will quickly be hushed by their parents.
Unless they take to the streets in the middle of the night for
some reason and stumble across the haunt, the adventurers will
not learn Agar's story without detailed investigative work. Even
encountering and 'destroying' the haunt will prove ineffectual,
as the PCs will be asked to remain behind for one more night 'just
to be sure.' Of course, the next night the cycle will start all
over again. The haunt will not possess characters, as it demands
that the burial site be dug by the townspeople, as agreed. Outsiders
who attack the creature will only enrage it further, however,
and they will be attacked with intent to kill.
Charmed townspeople might talk, though any fellow townspeopleseeing
this would immediately attack the 'evil enchanter' responsible.
Persistent questions about the fate of the chapel priest and
the reasons behind the mysterious visits might also work by raising
the townspeople's guilt level until someone breaks. This latter
tactic is especially effective if used on someone who is attempting
to drown their sorrows in alcohol, and the combination of heightened
bathos and lowered inhibitions will almost certainly cause the
unfortunate to break down if pressed. Award players a role-playing
bonus if they carry this off successfully, and play up the emotionalism
and pathos of the resulting scene.
If all else fails and no solution is in sight, the GM still has
some options. A logical consequence of this impasse is that people
will begin to talk seriously about leaving. One of the first to
actually follow through will be a young man who had always wished
to see the big city, and in exchange for some gold (he'll ask
for 150, but settle for 10 if bargained hard) and the promise
of an escort, he will agree to tell the PCs what he knows. This
method is to be avoided if possible, however, as it is unsatisfying
and smacks of DM interference. You may even wish to 'award' an
experiencepoint penalty to the party for having to use it.
Regardless of how the story is revealed, however, the citizens
will offer three of Agar's stones as a reward for ridding them
of the haunt once the secret is known. Unbeknownst to them, however,
the revenant cannot be quieted without placing it in it rightful
grave. Otherwise, it will reform the next night as noted above
and again return to chapel gates. If it is allowed within the
gates, it will simply go the cemetery and stand atop its promised
grave, glaring balefully at all and sundry. Characters who check
this area may find this unusual, as the earth in the area is obviously
undisturbed and it has obviously not been used as a burial site
for quite some time, if ever.
If the proper preparations are made and Agar's body interred,
the haunt will appear but once more - this time, to thank the
party and give them directions to the cairn in which his fellows
met their end.
Completing their task this way earns the party a story award of
5,000 experience points. An extra 500 experience points each is
tacked on if the party is thorough enough to remain at the graveside
for one more night to ensure that all is well, and thus encounters
Lord Agar's shade one final time. 'Slaying' the haunt, regardless
of how often it is done, earns NO experience. This is primarily
a role-playing adventure, and experience bonuses should be calculated
on this basis.
With respect to individual experience awards, this storyline is
also an excellent opportunity for the party priest to shine, and
special bonuses should be awarded to priest characters who take
advantage of it. Thinking of an imaginative atonement and penance
for the citizens as a condition of their rescue is particularly
praiseworthy, though the resulting award can be as low as 100
XP (if such actions are not within the priest's sphere of focus
or the penance is trivial) to 1,000 XP or more for something really
imaginative (like requiring them to always help strangers in need
thereafter - see Dragon #162: 'A Prayer for the Dead').
If Lord Agar is not permanently laid to rest within a week of
the party's departure, however, Logan will become a ghost town
as the citizens leave to find new, less haunted homes. Naturally,
the adventurers who failed them will not be kindly thought of,
and the party may later find themselves with a poor reputation
in some parts of the land as a result of this failure.
The final farewell from Lord Agar is explicitly left vague in
order to enable lead to future adventures: for those of you who
possess the From the Ashes boxed set, either 'Beckoner
in the Dark' or even 'Brainstorm' could apply; the undiscovered
cairn from the Free City of Greyhawk boxed set may also come in
handy. Other possibilities include fiends, either in
the cairn still or on the loose; the recent Dungeon Magazine
#49 adventure 'The Dark Place' is an example of what can be done
with this idea. Regardless of the format used, however, the GM
is encouraged to make this a difficult and dangerous encounter.
The introduction to 'Agar's Payment' indicates its suitability
for characters of all levels, including very low-level parties.
This is true. Given that the creature decimated Agar's party with
ease, however, the cairn adventure may not be a suitable follow-up
for such groups. Players should be wise enough to realize this,
and PCs who listen and judge this adventure beyond them should
(if correct) receive experience points for swiftly notifying local
authorities, preferably at Castle Goldencrest. This will be greatly
appreciated by the knights, who will think well of the characters
in the future and may decide to offer the party a more appropriate