Friday, 24 May 2013

NPC: Aleister Crowley

S: 11
I: 19
W: 14
Cn: 13
D: 10
Ch: 18

Class: 0-level
Hp: 4

Magic Resistance: 200%
Psionics: Immune to all psionic effects.
Alignment: CG

Crowley controls those around him by sheer force of will and lives to baffle the Lawful and to lead the ignorant into illumination, or at least into the better pubs.

Crowley's favourite tactic is lying. His charisma is such that many people never realise how rarely he speaks the truth and a wildly diverse impression of him is left behind in his many haunts. He controls a vast network of acolytes who he regards as fools of the highest order; only those that see through his fa├žade and laugh at the grand titles he assumes earn his respect.

Crowley owns a Deck of Many Things of his own devising (which has no effect on him, of course), which may be the subject of a future post.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Monster: The Rat King


See? Must be true - it's a photograph
No one knows how it starts, but every so often two rats become joined at the tail and take on special powers and abilities. Using these, they attract more special rats to join them, increasing their power, and hordes of normal rats to do their bidding. Tales abound of villages and even towns being completely taken over by the multi-bodied super being that results, and of greedy mayors who will offer much to rid themselves of this curse but withhold payment, only to pay a much greater price...

The Start
The first two rats combine to make the smallest Rat King. They can still move about somewhat, at about 6" movement, but the new King will generally prioritise finding a place to hole up in, as by the time the fourth body is added the King will be functionally immobile, barely capable of moving ten yards in a morning.

Each rat body contributes 1hp, but the King lives or dies as a unit. A remove curse will split a King but against this, or similar, magic the king has 5% magic resistance per body. So a king with 12 bodies would have 60% magic resistance, in addition to any applicable saving throw, against any magic which would split the bodies - even a wish. Bodies may be cut off, however, by normal blades.

So long as the bodies are connected and the king as a whole has 1 or more hit points, the king regenerates 1hp per turn and may even feed off itself in times of famine.

The two-body king has a psychic ability of just 10, and psionic defense mode F (Mind Blank). It has the minor psionic discipline of animal telepathy at second level.

The basic Int of a rat king is 1 plus one per body, and a wisdom score one less. Alignment begins as neutral - the king's actions are always to aid ratkind; who or what they harm is of no interest. As Int increases, kings tend towards Neutral Evil, but never very strongly.


Sometimes they take "expansion"
Growth
Assuming that the king is in a locale where more rats are not hard to come by, a new rat will be added to it every week if a roll of 3d6 exceeds the number of bodies currently in the mass, and always on an 18. The maximum number of bodies is two dozen.

Each new body increases psychic ability by 10 (5 attack and 5 defence), adds one attack or defense mode (randomly) and increases the level of performance of psionic disciplines by 1.

New disciplines are gained at the following numbers of bodies:
2: Animal Telepathy
3: Precognition
6: Empathy
8: Domination
10: Clairaudience
12: Clairvoyance
14: Telepathy
16: Hypnosis
18: ESP
20: Suspended Animation (1-5) or expansion (6)
22: Teleportation
24: Shape Alteration (human/humanoid/demihuman, rat, giant rat, or monstrous rat)

Apotheosis
Once 24th level is reached, the Rat King is effectively free to roam the world bringing weal to ratkind and woe to its enemies and is known as the Rat Emperor. If encountered in human form, the Emperor will fight with weapons as a 4th level fighter. In other forms it will fight as a 5HD monster (it will only have 24hp, don't forget) whether it appears to be a rat, a "normal" giant rat, or a monstrous rat the size of a grizzly bear. Damage per hit in these latter forms are 1pt, 1d4, or 2d6.

In humanoid form the Emperor has a Dex of 21 (+4 reaction, -5 defensive) and in other forms it will have an AC of 4. It may wear any armour in humanoid form but will favour magical leather or studded leather.

Also, as humanoid, the Emperor has the following thieving abilities: PP 80%, OL 77%, F/R 70%, MS 81%, HS 90%, HN 80%, CW 120%, RL 20%.

Any rat or ratkin within sight of the Emperor will follow its telepathic commands without expenditure of psionic points. The only exception is if two Emperors meet (see below), in which case each must depend on their own loyalists; all other rats will remain hidden for the duration of the combat.

Followers
Each body attracts a score of normal rats, and every 50 rats brings 1d4 giant rats, so that an 8-body King will have 160 normal rats and 3d4 giant rats which will obey its telepathic commands.

One reaching 14 bodies, it will attract 1d3 were-rats, and another 1d4 at 20 bodies.

Normal rats which are killed will be replaced at a rate of ten per week, assuming that there is some supply, and giant rats at a rate of one per month. Wererat losses will only be replaced by creation of new wererats, or active recruitment by the king, should he be mobile.

Normal and giant rat losses will not normally be replaced during winter months.

Enemies
Both Moondogs and The Cat Lord hate rat kings with a passion and will do whatever is needed to kill one and its followers if found.

Rat kings are unpopular with normal people, of course, as they aim to divert the human food supply to themselves and their followers, but also with adventurers as the controlled rats and their king have no real interest in treasure and do not collect it even in the way that a normal rat might, so any treasure must come in the form of rewards or perhaps some odds and ends scattered about from victims.

However, the greatest enemy of a rat king is another rat king. No two kings will tolerate another within the same general area - village, town, city quarter. Basically, each king claims a territory with a radius of 10 yards per body in the king and disputes caused by overlapping claims must be settled with the death of one or other king.

This reaches its ultimate end point in the Emperor. There can only be one Rat Emperor in the world, and if there are two then they will seek each other out, magically knowing the general direction of the nearest rival.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Targal's Dragoons, or, Seven Black Swords*

*Number of Swords May Vary

Introduction

What is it? Wilderness brigand encounter.

Possible Start Points

Village 

The party is travelling through an area of wilderness, well beyond normal patrols, when they encounter a village. If they enter the village they are met with great celebration and warm welcome as if they were expected.

Background: The village was raided by a small group of men a few weeks ago and in the process five of the bandits were killed, more or less by a fluke. A survivor fled, warning that he would return with the rest of an infamous gang of brigands. The villagers, who had assumed the attackers were just a small party of thugs, panicked and pooled what resources they had and sent their most trusted member off to look for help from "civilized parts". He is currently drunk in a brothel somewhere, having decided that certain debauchery was preferable to the probable death if he ever returned to what he assumes is a smoking ruin of a village by now. Apart from a few houris, so far no one has heard anything about the village.

With the arrival of the party, the assumption is that they are the hired defenders they've been waiting for. Which is just in the nick of time, as the brigands have been seen nearby and a showdown is close.

Isolated Farm

If the party avoids the village or talk enough to the villagers to discover where the gang has been seen, then the road leads onto an isolated farm about three miles further up the road where an advance group of brigands have stopped for the night. This group is on their way to recover a magic sword which was in the possession of one of the leaders killed a week or so ago.

The intent of this group is to find where the sword is and then burn the village to the ground as punishment.

This farm is a complex of stone buildings from an older time than the village, before this area became wilderness. This may be the start point for the encounter if the players avoid the village. Should they avoid an encounter here too, then the encounter will move on to the keep (if they get past that without being seen then there is no further encounter). When the party first come in sight of the farm, roll for surprise. If the party is surprised then they have been spotted by the guard; otherwise they may opt to simply avoid if they wish.

Mishal, Rory, and Shema (see below) are in the main house along with a few men. The others are in the barn with the horses or on guard. The bodies of the six family members and their few servants are heaped outside the house or left where they fell, marked by red dots on the map.

A pig is being roasted on a spit in the kitchen area of the main house. The two-story house itself is a shambles of broken furniture and blood which tells the tale of the murdered family and its farmworkers, cut down by arrows and swords.

A guard is posted on the roof of the barn, and at the yard gates. The walls are 12' tall and stone, the gates are heavy wood and not easy to break down once closed. The walls' render is old and the underlying stone shows in many places making them pretty easy to climb, however.

The plan is to ride into the village in the early hours of the morning, take several hostages and gather the population into the open area in front of the church where Rory will demand the return of "the sword". Naturally, the villagers will deny any knowledge of a sword (since they have no idea it was buried with its owner in area marked as the "old pit" on the village map. After some of the hostages are killed without any change in the villagers' story, the brigands will finally believe them and work out that the sword must be with the body. More hostages will be taken and others set about to dig up the dead brigands. Once the sword is secured, the village will be torched and the men folk executed.

That, is, if the players don't intervene...

Of course, if so inclined, the party may decide to join (or infiltrate) the brigands who are always on the look-out for new members, in particular an evil cleric to provide healing magic. The current leadership will expect newcomers to "know their place" and will require some sort of proof of intent which will almost certainly revolve around the destruction of the village. Before that, however, they'll need at least a positive reaction roll from Targal. Protecting the villagers will be almost impossible if the party want to infiltrate the gang, however, and leaving them to their fate would not be a Good action for a party capable of an alternative plan.

Ruined Keep

The main brigand camp is at an old keep on a rocky outcrop in the woods. Only a part of the old outer wall remains along with a few bits of the guard towers. However, the large round keep tower is in relatively good condition for a ruin and still has three floors which are in some degree usable and even a small (three-room) dungeon which Targal is using to keep prisoners in. Most of the south side of the keep has collapsed in- or out-wards but the brigands have cleared away the rubble so that they can enter and leave the exposed rooms, and have constructed ladders for access to the two upper floors. The floors have been assigned on the basis of seniority in the gang, with Targal and Ritain taking the top floor.

The two smaller towers with white interiors on the map have intact, or semi-intact, floors allowing the guards there to see and fire their bows in any direction, over buildings, tents, and shrubs. Similarly, the bowmen in the groups marked by "B" can fire at any target which is on a lower level than they are (the peach colour is higher than the green of the grassland, and darker colours are higher than lighter). The roof of the central keep is not safely accessible to the inhabitants.

The majority of the brigands are camped in tents; the larger holding 2d6 individuals and the smaller 1d4. The large circular tent is the travelling brothel that follows the gang on its travels and is generally referred to as "The Big Top".

The area around the keep was once cleared of vegetation, of course, but is being reclaimed by birch and gorse which have established some quite substantial areas of potential cover for both defender or attacker.

Because of the remains of the walls, Targal has only ordered regular mounted patrols on the south side of the camp, which increases the chance of anyone approaching from that direction of being surprised by 1.

Note that those not on guard do not walk around in their armour all day and night, and this includes the leaders. Which is one reason that newcomers will find it hard to move into anything like the inner circle at first.

The Brigands:

57 brigands have taken over a ruined keep about 12 miles from the central village area. The leaders have decided to make the area their new base of operations, raiding out in various directions for a few months before moving on to a new hunting ground. So, the keep they have taken over has their horde of stolen cash as well as 31 followers and slaves, and 2 prisoners.

The chief is Targal, an 8th level fighter who rules with the aid of Ritain his 7th level lieutenant, Sir Richard (6th level), Bradox (5th), Sed (4th), and Rory and Shema (3rd level incestuous brother and sister sadists). These constitute the core of the gang and with the exception of Rory and Shema are henchmen of Targal for the purposes of morale/loyalty. All of these NPCs are CE, except Sir Richard who is NE and Sed who is LE.

Additionally, Targal has 5 second level guards that he assigns to important duties. These 5 are fanatics from a desert land who have, for some reason, sworn loyalty to Sir Richard unto death (+50% to loyalty), and in fact one of the original 6 was killed in the village. They may speak only after sundown. Their leader is called Mishal and his brother is called Tawbah; they are all lawful evil.

All of these are in addition to the 57 normal brigands who are a rag-tag collection of men who would never cut it in a military unit and are not men-at-arms; they fight at level zero but they have only 1-6 hit points. They are all either neutral-evil or chaotic evil; non-evil characters do not last long with Targal's Dragoons.

5 of the brigands are medium horse, with chain, shield, and longsword. Another 6 are light horse with leather, shield and spear. The remainder dismount to fight on foot, with most being armed with leather armour, shield and longsword.

Regardless of the ability to fight on horseback, all the brigands except Sed are mounted on a wide variety of stolen horses and as a group they can travel a good 36 miles in a day (including Sed, although he is on foot), with some able to break away and cover 50 without excessive fatigue.

They have been scouting the area around their new base for likely victims with light-horse mounted troops in groups of half a dozen or so, usually led by one of the fanatics simply because they are organized enough to bother. One of these squadrons encountered a village and the chaotic 0-level brigands simply broke ranks and attacked, leaving Babak (the "leader" of the party) no choice but to go with them. The group thundered into the village, leaping a low hedge only to discover a large ditch on the other side. Several of the normal men were killed immediately in the fall, while the injured Babak was finished off by a frightened villager with a pick. One brigand's horse refused to jump the hedge and he escaped to tell the tale.

Targal's only real concern was the loss of Babak's sword, so he was happy to let Mishal take Rory, Shema, and a dozen men out to retrieve the weapon. And burn the village, of course. He is not interested in the village itself as he assumes its wealth will be insignificant and it's clear from the survivor's story that the deaths were the fault of the attackers rather than some clever ruse of the villagers.

This group has arrived at a nearby isolated farm about three miles from the village centre and is resting up before riding into the village in the morning.

The base morale for brigands generally is at +5% to the norm, so the gang's normal morale is 55%. If a leader is with a group and within a radius equal to their charisma score (in inches/hexes) then the group's morale will be boosted by 10% plus the leader's CHA loyalty modifier (use the best if there are multiple leaders in range).

Group Treasure: 2000cp, 2000sp, 6000gp.

Targal's treasure: Shortsword "Gicel" +3, frost brand, +6 Vs fire using/dwelling creatures. Intelligence 12, Ego 10 (Personality strength 22), CE, detects invisible within 1", empathic link.

Longbow, +1

Ritain's treasure: 8 +1 sling bullets Potion of clairvoyance.

Sir Ricard's treasure: Longsword "Disenchantment", +1, +2 Vs magic-using/enchanted creatures.

Bradox's treasure: Potion of treasure finding.

Rory's treasure: Shortsword "Viper" (+2) of quickness (always strikes first). Shema's treasure: Longsword "Peg-cutter", +2 giant slayer.

+3 small shield.

Mishal's treasure: Longsword "Disillusion", +1, +2 Vs magic-using/enchanted creatures. Int 15, Ego 9 (Personality strength 24), detect good/magic/shifting rooms, 1" radius. Detect precious metals, kind, and amount 2" radius, LE, speaks lawful-evil, lizardman, and the language of guardian nagas. Refers to Sir Richard's sword as "my prototype"; the swords are similar enough that those not familiar with them can not tell them apart, although only one will cause 9 points of damage to non-LE characters who grasp its hilt! 

Tawbah's treasure: Longsword "Turncoat", +1, +3 Vs lycanthropes and shapechangers. Village treasure: Broadsword "Defier", +4 defender, Int 16 Ego 9 (Personality strength 25), detect large traps/magic, 1"; locate object 12" radius. LN. Speaks LN and dwarfish. Currently buried in a pit with its master.

Character Notes

Should the players experience longer periods of interaction with the brgands, as spies, allies, or prisoners, these notes are intended to be a guide as well as some hints about how the group operate.

Targal cares for nothing and nobody other than himself. Although a tendency to sadism is a general hallmark of evil, Targal indulges it only when bored, when he generally either tortures some prisoners or invents new jokes to play on Sir Richard. A deeply committed coward, he will abandon anyone in the group without a second thought should the tide of combat turn against them "if they don't get out alive then they don't deserve to get out alive" is his maxim. Once the gang have settled into a new stronghold he expends a minimum of interest on organisational issues, spending most of his time raping or whoring, as resources and prisoner-mix permit, or planning the next raid on some trade route, church, or larger village.

Ritain is Targal's longest-lasting companion and the one lease likely to take prisoners, whom he views as more of a burden than the source of ransom income that Targal usually claims. The prisoners the dragoons take are mostly rural types or low-status merchant assistants who have little chance of raising any decent ransom and, at any rate, after a few weeks of Targal's handling female prisoners usually find a way to kill themselves and male ones are either dead or fight back, in which case Targal usually wrestles them to the ground, cripples them in some way and then hands them over to Sir Richard with a call of "New dolly!". Sir Richard's dollies have an average live expectancy measured in hours.

Thus, Ritain will not take prisoners unless Targal is around and will argue against keeping those that are brought in. He will also be most suspicious of new members and, since Targal is exceptionally lazy in all matters, it is Ritain who will need to be convinced by recruits.

Ritain is the dragoon's second-line scout after Sed. He views everyone through a two-box filter: they're either making life easier for him, or they're a waste of food.  "Sir Richard" is a large man with a thin scar which forms a half circle around the left side of his bald head. The blow which caused this was healed but the brain damage was not. He is unable to speak and has the personality of a sadistic toddler trapped in an adult's body; he drools when not actively engaged in combat.

No one else knows his real name nor what happened to him or why the six desert fanatics came to be his allies. "Sir Richard" is simply the name that Targal gave him in mockery of his filthy and uncouth appearance and it stuck. Sir Richard doesn't understand the joke and doesn't care anyway as long as he can pass the days taking things apart (preferably living things) with his disturbingly nimble fingers. He can not dress himself in complicated armour or learn to use weapons but he can fire a crossbow if someone else loads it for him. He goes into combat with a dirty tabard showing the arms of the Knights of Furrundy/Templar/Solamnia or some similar campaign-specific order of Good-aligned knights taken by Targal from the body of a dead foe.

Note that any of the intelligent swords can completely control Sir Richard should they fall into his beefy hands.

Sir Richard's relationship with Targal could be characterised as that between a badly disciplined attack dog and the cruel master that it is inexplicably devoted to. Mishal has generally succeeded in keeping Targal from abusing this relationship to the point where Sir Richard could be killed by the "tricks" that Targal plays on him or makes him do.

Bradox is just a typical "tin can" fighter in his plate-mail. He likes to fight and he likes to win; the quality of the opponent means nothing to him and he counts punching a teenaged milkmaid to death as equally enjoyable as duelling with any knight. If a village is burnt down, it is almost certainly Bradox who lit the first thatch.

Sed seems to be a normal elderly peasant man, thin, greying, and balding. His study of martial arts in some distant country, however, means that he is a superb scout/mole for the dragoons. Many a merchant or village elder has been found with their heads pointing the wrong way after sitting down for tea with Sed. 

Sed does his "bread and butter" work alone, scouting out places simply by not having any outward sign of being anything other than an old with a staff and cloak and generally walking through the front door/gate. He is actually 58 but can convincingly pull off up to 15 years more than that. He usually carries six throwing daggers concealed about his person unless he thinks he might be searched (in which case he's probably more likely to climb over the wall), and various shiny things to entice children away from their homes for "a treat". He views the dragoons somewhat as a suit of armour over his increasingly old bones.

Rory and Shema are tall, blonde and very disturbed and disturbing. The family resemblance is strong and their openly sexual banter and inappropriate touching have led to more than one bar-room brawl with outraged locals.

Shema is the only woman in the whole group other than various prostitutes, pimps, and laundrywomen in the "baggage" and she prefers to keep it that way. Women get an automatic reaction penalty equal to their COM score (if not using comeliness, use INT instead).

The pair killed their parents when they found out about the relationship and threatened to turn them over to the Church.

Rory is stunningly handsome and enjoys picking up women in towns, having sex with them and then bringing them back to camp. This enrages Shema who usually kills the unfortunate girl, which provides Rory with endless amusement.

The Fanatics are devoted to Sir Richard and their alignment of Lawful Evil causes no problems with the gang as they are very much viewed as a separate unit, and a useful one at that. Four of the dragoon's magic swords came with the fanatics and that dramatically boosted the group's ability to fend off would-be avengers. Targal knows that Sir Richard will do what he tells him to do and that the fanatics' will go with Sir Richard. He also knows that they're not very happy about it.

Communication between the fanatics is mostly in the form of a sign language only known by them, although they have managed to teach Sir Richard a very small number of words such as "enemy", "strong", "weak", and "strike now".

Mishal leads them and believes that being part of even such a rabble as the dragoons greatly increases their ability to survive and thrive. He dreams of some day taking over the dragoons but he has seen Targal and Ritain fight and knows that he is no match, even if he somehow was able to turn Sir Richard against his master.

Tawbah's face (and entire body, in fact) is scar tissue. The cause is in some way connected to Sir Richard's mental condition and to the six companions' dedication to him. Many people assume that he is a half-toll, so disfigured is he. Since all of the six tend to keep their faces covered it is not a constant problem, but even the other dragoons avoid looking at him when he lowers his scarf to eat or drink.

Detect Evil will spot both Targal and Sed, both counting as "overwhelming". Otherwise the spell/power will only pick up the intelligent swords.

Protection from Evil will grant a boost of 2 to AC against all of the dragoons, including the fanatics and all the 0-level members, and a +2 to saves against applicable attacks from the dragoons. Sir Richard will be hedged out, as will Mishal's sword "Disillusion", to its fury.

The Prisoners

Targal currently has two prisoners: Frida (female, 39, Com 7, N, CL -3, 2hp) and Dashwood (male, 17, Ch 13, NE, CL -2, 4hp).

Dashwood is simply a would-be brigand who is actually a shepherd. His attempt to join the gang was met with laughter and he was clapped in irons immediately.

Frida was the wife of a now dead prisoner who had been mistaken for a merchant (he was in fact an actor in costume).

Targals plan for the two is to give Frida a dagger and make her fight the unarmed Dashwood to the death. If Dashwood survives, he will be allowed to join the gang. If Frida survives she'll be sent to the "Big Top" to work.

The Village

The village consists of about 100 men, women, and children living in long houses containing 2 to 12 people of the same family. The houses are wooden with thatched rooves and are mostly divided into two rooms - a day room and a night room. The night room has an upper floor reached by ladders, leaving space underneath for livestock to sleep in the winter, as well as ploughs and other equipment. The day room usually has some bed spaces around its walls too, mostly for adults who snore too loudly to be tolerated in the (much warmer) night room. Other than this, the day room is used for preparing and eating food, including grinding of corn for bread and butchery of small animals. The three barns are more or less slightly larger versions of the long houses with two upper decks separated by a central gap where the large doors open into the barn.

There are three exceptions to this general architectural theme: the round house of the "wise woman", the stone mill with its communal bread oven, and the stone church. The wise woman's house is a single round room used for everything while the stone walls and wooden shingles of the other two buildings make them favoured shelters for women and children in times of trouble.

Currently there is no trained priest and one of the village elders leads the services.

The houses are set in plots of land which are cultivated for items such as strawberries, cucumbers, squashes and so forth in small amounts for the use of the occupants of the houses. These cultivated areas, with their poles, ruts, anti-bird nets, windbreaks and so forth will slow foot travel by a third all year round and by half in winter. Horses are unaffected. Crop land is treated as plain open ground during spring and early summer. In winter it halves all movement, and in autumn it halves foot movement up until harvest, at which point it goes back to being plain.

The Hedge The village's main defence against the outside world is a 5' thick brair hedge which runs around three sides of it, which combines with the stream that powers the water mill to form a barrier of considerable tactical use if the local men are led by anyone with the brains to use it (currently, there is no such person in the village). The village-side of the stream has a 4' high fence which makes even the narrow parts of the stream a difficult barrier for a jumping horse and most will refuse to even try. In fact, for the dragoons, only the horses of the leaders will attempt the jump and a roll under the rider's level on 1d10 to succeed; a lower score indicting that the rider has been thrown and is in the stream.

The hedge itself is about 8' high in most places and of a similar difficulty to leap. A small character may be able to find a way through on foot, but it will take 2d6 minutes to find a suitable space and crawl through. Animals smaller than a fox will have no trouble.

Unfortunately, the villagers have neglected the hedge for several years and in the north it has become straggly and lower than it should be. Specifically, the area marked as "old pit" is easily jumpable by any experienced horserider and this is where the original attackers entered the village. The pit itself was being opened as a midden/rubbish pit. The villagers have closed it up again, covering the bodies of the dead brigands, and opened their new pit about 100' to the west. In addition, they have heaped the spoil from the new pit onto the top of the old pit and in the progress made entry through the weak spot even easier.

Additionally, the hurdles and barricades which had been used in days gone by to block up the three gaps where roads cut through the hedge have not been maintained and the villagers can only block up either the two smaller gaps or the larger gap in the northeast.

Despite these unusual defenses, what has really preserved the village for many years is simply the fact that there's nothing there worth taking.

Optional Wise Woman The wise woman is just some older woman with a high wisdom score, but she could be played as a limited form of sage, with two major areas and no special categories; the two major areas being flora and fauna.

S: 10, I: 16, W: 18, D: 5, Cn: 10, Ch: 6. Combat: -3, AC 12, hp 21.

Spell-like powers (druid): Faerie fire, Feign death (in the form of 1d4 potions), protection from fire (as 1d3 applications of oinment - maximum duration of 1hr), Plant door (as single use wand), Commune with nature (as a potion). All effects at 9th level. Preparing further uses of these items, other than faerie fire, will require a lot of time collecting needed components, mixing and preparing ingredients - at least a month per item.

Design Notes

Human encounters as presented in the MM are always a total pain in the arse for the DM due to the difficulty of generating all those leader NPCs when needed, and so I thought I'd post up an example of an almost by-the-book random group of brigands with leaders and so on. One thing led to another, which is the beauty of randomly generated material in my opinion, and in particular a series of incredibly fluky random rolls for magic swords inspired quite a characterful bunch of bastards.

The dragoons are intended to be an evil encounter in the wilderness which can be dealt with head on by a strong party or carefully by a weaker one. They can be an on-going menace or a one-off, as the DM sees fit. It's certainly possible for the players to join the dragoons, but I'd be worried about any party that felt at home with them. The leaders' personalities are all based on real people - some of whom I've personally met - and they really are not intended as pantomime evil. They are brutal and unforgiving although some, such as Sed (think "Jimmy Saville"), are capable of presenting themselves in very disingenuous ways to earn the trust of their victims.

The brigands' weakness is certainly their lack of magic, and in particular the lack of a cleric will potentially make them vulnerable to hit and run tactics from a medium level party as they have no way to regain hit points quickly. In addition, of course, their alignment makes it unlikely that they will form a really effective fighting force when faced with troops under a united and well organised leadership.

Another possible use for the material is as the basis of a "wanted, dead or alive" or posse scenario rather than a random encounter. This would entail a substantial reward for most of the leaders (say 100gp per level per leader) and double that for Targal on top of the gang's treasure. Obviously, the player characters will not be the only ones interested in this reward and there would be potential for PC/NPC rivalry and cooperation.

Maps

The two big maps are intended to be printed at A3, the smaller one at A4 and each hex is ten yards. If you print them at A1, then the hexes should actually be 1 inch across and so you could simply use a ruler and use the ranges and areas given in the books without any conversion at all (and, nice printer, by the way!).

The dark green is wood, mid green is cultivated land with various obstacles as mentioned elsewhere, and light green is open grass/moss areas. Yellow is crop land which also has seasonal movement effects as mentioned in the relevant sections. Rocky areas are in shades of orange, with darker being higher. These areas are not simply bare rock but are areas of shallow soil with patches of visible rock increasing in frequency with height, somewhat like Dartmoor.

On the farm map, the dark area is a muddy area which slows all movement, including horses, by half except in hot weather.

PDFs of the tactical maps can be downloaded from these links:

Stat-blocks

Print this section out for use at the table.

The Brigand Leaders

Targal: F8; STR 18/01, CHA 17 (loy +30); base CL 9, short sword 3/2, SF 3, CL 12 (15 Vs frost) d6+6/d8+6 (+9 Vs frost), longbow CL 10, 2/rnd, d6+4. AC 2 (P+S), move 6" afoot; light warhorse (mv 24", AC 7 9hp); morale 70%; hp 29.

Ritain: F7; STR 15, DEX 17; base CL 7, broadsword 3/2, SF 5, CL 7, 2d4/1d6+1, 8 x sling CL 10 1d4+2/1d6+2, sling CL 9 1d4+1/1d6+1. AC 4 (leather+shield+dex; armour type 8+4) move 12" afoot; light warhorse (Mv 24", AC 7 4hp); +2 to initiative with sling. hp 35. 

Sir Richard: F6; STR 17, INT 4, DEX 15, CHA 7 (loy -10); base CL 7, longsword, SF 5, CL 8 (9 Vs magical), d8+2/d12+2 (+3 Vs magical), Lt crossbow CL 6, 1d4/1d4, stones CL 6, 1d3+1/1d2+1 (range and armour adjustments as thrown club). AC 3 (C+S, AT 5+2) move 9" afoot; normal horse (treat as "wild", Mv 24", AC7  13hp). hp 29.

Bradox: F5; STR 17, CON 16, CHA 7 (lot -10); base CL 6, broadsword, SF 5, CL 6, 2d4+1; spear CL 6, d6+1/d8+1; AC 2 (P+S, AT 3+1) move 6" afoot; medium warhorse (MV 18", AC 7 16hp). hp 38.

Sed: Monk 4; STR 15, INT 7, WIS 17, DEX 15; base CL 3, Staff SF 4, CL 3, 1d6+2; dagger CL 3 d4/d3+2; Open Hand 5/4 CL 3, d6; speak with animals, 70% immune to ESP, OL 37%, FT 35% MS 43%, HS 30%, HN 15%, CW 98%, stun on 5 over to-hit, kill%=tgt AC. Move  18" afoot. AC 7 (AT 10+3) save against missiles, hp 9.

Rory: F3; STR 15, DEX 18, COM 18; base CL 3, shortsword SF 3, CL 5, d6+2, and dagger CL 2, d4/d3, move 12" afoot normal horse (mv 24", AC7 8hp) s.sword always strikes first in round. AC 4 (L, AT 8+4)  hp 22.

Shema: F3; INT 16, WIS 16, DEX 16; base CL 3, longsword SF 5, CL 5, d8/d12+2 (d12+3 Vs giant-types, x2 damage to true giants) if unarmoured will have longbow CL 4 2/rnd d6; move 6" afoot normal horse (mv 12", AC7 12hp), AC 0 (P+S, AT 3+3), hp 18

Mishal: F2; STR 15, WIS 17; base CL 2, longsword SF 5, CL 3 (4 vs magical), d8/d12+1 (+2 vs magical); move 9" afoot light war horse (24", AC7, 10hp); lance SF 6, CL 2, d6/d8; AC 4 (C+S, AT 5+1), hp 7

Tawbah: F2; STR 17, CON 15, COM 3; base CL 3, longsword SF 5, CL 4 (6 vs shape-changers) d8/d12+2 (+4 vs shape-changers); move 9" afoot, light war horse (24", AC7, 9hp); lance SF 6, CL 2, d6/d8 +1; AC 4 (C+S, AT 5+2), hp 10

Fanatic 3: F2;  STR 16, WIS 17, CHA 6 (loy -15); base CL 2, voulge SF 10, CL 2, 2d4+1; move 9" afoot, light war horse (24", AC7, 11hp); lance SF 6, CL 2, d6/d8 +1; AC 5 (Chain), hp 11

Fanatic 4: F2; WIS 17, CON 16; base CL 2, scimitar SF 4, CL 2, d8; move 12" afoot, light war horse (24", AC7, 14hp); lance SF 6, CL 2, d6/d8; AC 8 (Leather), hp 12

Fanatic 5: F2; STR 17, INT 15, WIS 16, DEX 7; base CL 3, bardice CL 3, 2d4+1/3d4+1; move 9" afoot, light war horse (24", AC7, 12hp); lance SF 6, CL 3, d6+1/d8+1; AC 5 (Chain), hp 16

Fanatic 6 (deceased): F2 STR 17, INT 14, WIS 6, CHA 15 (loy +15); base CL 3, broadsword (defender) SF 5, CL 3-7, 2d4+1-5/2d8+1-5; move 12" afoot, light war horse (24", AC 7, 13hp); lance SF 6, CL 3, d6+1/d8+1; AC 4-8 (leather + defender, AT 8+1-4), hp 10

The Brigands, Short Version

All brigands carry at least a dagger in addition to their main weapons, the crossbowmen carry shortswords.

Cavalry

These are the only brigands capable of fighting from their mounts (other than the leaders). All have a maximum move of 6" penalty on foot because of their large shields (except the crossbowmen).

4 Medium Horse: F0; Base CL0; Mov 6" afoot (9" sans shield), medium warhorse (18", AC 7, hp: 18, 16, 11, 8); AC 4 (Chain+large shield), broadsword 2d4/1d6+1; hp: 8, 8, 5, 5

Medium horse may attack in the second round of melee in addition to their rider's attack:

Medium horse: AC7, 2+2HD (CL 5), 1d6/1d6/1d4 (hoof/hoof/bite).

6 Light Horse+spear: F0 Base CL0; Mov 6" afoot (12" sans shield), light warhorse (24",AC 7, hp: 9, 4, 15, 8, 10, 15); AC 7 (L+S), spear 1d6/1d8; hp: 8, 7, 6, 6, 4, 4

2 Light Horse+crossbow: F0 Base CL0; Mov 12" afoot, light warhorse (24",AC 7, hp: 9, 6) shortsword 1d6/1d8, Lt crossbow range: 6/12/18 1d4/1d4; hp: 4, 4.

The light warhorse may also attack in the second round of melee, but the crossbowmen may not fire their weapons in the same round as their horses attack.

Light horse: AC7, 2HD (CL 5), 1d4/1d4 (hooves).

Dragoons

None of these figures are trained in mounted combat and suffer -2 to-hit if they try and those with polearms simply can not attack while mounted. Their horse hit points are not given, but count them as 2HD non-combatant horses who will only attack if attacked themselves (treat as light), throwing any rider on 1-3 on d6.

2 Bill Hooks (as guisarme): F0 (CL0); Mv 12"; bill 2d4/1d8; AC 8 (L), hp 4, 4

Halberdeer: F0 (CL0); Mv 12"; halberd 1d10/2d6; AC 8 (L), hp 8

Bardiche: F0 (CL0); Mv 12"; bardiche 2d4+1/3d4+1; AC 8 (L), hp 7

4 Crossbowmen: F0 (CL 0); Mv 12"; shortsword 1d6/1d8, Lt crossbow range: 6/12/18 1d4/1d4; hp: 7, 5, 5, 4

10 Shortbowmen: F0 (CL0); Mv 12"; short bow 5/10/15 1d6; AC 8 (L), hp 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5

29 Broadswordmen: F0 (CL0); Mv 12"; broadsword 2d8/1d6+1; AC 7 (L+S), hp 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Dogs

The gang has four wardogs which are as ill disciplined as the humans. They are strictly speaking Targal's and he does sometimes amuse himself with some training but by and large they can be found hanging around the tents looking for scraps when not actually taken out on guard duty or for hunting (hunting humans; they can not be trusted with game).

4 Wardogs: 2+2HD (CL 5); Mv12"; bite 2d4; AC 6 (AT SL+1), hp 14, 11, 8, 5

Keep Key

  • A Two shortbowmen (1-4) or crossbowmen (5-6).
  • B Three broadsword men AC 7
  • D Wardog
  • Patrol Anyone crossing the open area to the south is 90% likely to be seen by a patrol (night varies by moon from 10% to 60%) which will be 2-24" away.

    A patrol will consist of one medium horse and two light. About 1 in 4 patrols include one of Targal, Ritain, Bradox, or Sed (on foot). Note that Sed is ultra-cautious and will not charge in but attempt to use his monk abilities to their best advantage, or simply race off with the alarm if the party look formidable.

The Villagers

These are the bare stats for the fifty adults in the village, should that be useful. "CL" is combat level as usual, so -2 means to roll on the 0-level fighter matrix but grant 2 points of extra armour to the target.
Name, align, sex, ageNotesCL
Adoniram, N Male, 25 CL: -24
Alastair, NG Male, 29 CL: 02
Allvar, NG Male, 16 CL: 05
Amschel, LG Male, 30 Ch: 8 CL: -23
Arthur, NG Male, 17 CL: -24
August, NG Male, 21 CL: -21
Ayame, N Female, 35 CL: -31
Earnest, N Male, 21 CL: 04
Ebba, N Female, 45 CL: -13
Emata, N Female, 37 Ch: 8CL: -32
Fial, LN Female, 16 Ch: 14 CL: -12
Frederic, CN Male, 27 CL: 05
Fredrik, N Male, 39 CL: -21
Geffrey, N Male, 29 CL: 05
Goldwin, CG Male, 25 CL: 02
Goldwin, N Male, 35 Ch: 13 CL: 05
Grinling, NE Male, 36 CL: -22
Hardwicke, N Male, 45 CL: -24
Hulda, NG Female, 22 CL: -33
Iona, N Female, 16 CL: -31
Ione, N Female, 41 Ch: 13 CL: -14
Irina, N Female, 47 CL: -32
Jascett, NG Male, 37 CL: 05
Jenkin, NG Male, 32 CL: 07
Kendall, N Male, 28 I: 7 CL: 05
Liptrot, N Male, 89 CL: -22
Lynard, N Male, 37 CL: -23
Medart, N Male, 43 CL: 02
Morrigan, N Female, 65 CL: -32
Nathalie, N Female, 36 CL: -31
Orah, N Female, 47 CL: -32
Othilia, N Female, 17 W: 7 Ch: 13 CL: -11
Patrik, N Male, 58 CL: 05
Peleg, N Male, 34 Ch: 8 CL: 04
Phadus, CN Male, 34 CL: 04
Phanuel, N Male, 18 W: 7 Cm: 15 CL: -21
Ranjan, LG Male, 26 Ch: 15 CL: -23
Serita, NE Female, 48 CL: 02
Sionan, LN Female, 28 CL: 04
Sionan, N Female, 23 CL: -12
Teller, CN Male, 44 CL: -23
Tessa, LN Female, 46 CL: -13
Thorunn, N Female, 43 CL: -11
Urania, CN Female, 30 I: 7 CL: -12
Verna, CN Female, 20 CL: -13
Xenia, LN Female, 64 Ch: 6 CL: -31
Yeuan, NE Male, 54 CL: 04
Zahra, N Female, 34 CL: 04
Zara, N Female, 18 CL: -11