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The Lost Shepherd
Author: David Sarkies
System: AD&D 2nd Edition
Requirements: levels 2-4
The adventure is set in spring in a mountainous region and involves the players confronting an obliviax. The local villagers believe that the obliviax is an insane magic user and will extrapolate this tale. The DM should be familiar with the obliviax and the spells that it possesses.
The Lost Shepherd is an AD&D adventure for characters of levels 2-4 (having a total of 8 levels). The adventure is set in spring in a mountainous region and involves the players confronting an obliviax. The local villagers believe that the obliviax is an insane magic user and will extrapolate this tale. The DM should be familiar with the obliviax and the spells that it possesses.
Village of Foppstone is a small village in the Jhanon Peaks. These mountains are famous because they are the only place where the Aphritus Daisy can be found. This flower has magical properties and is very useful in the creation of magical potions, but it only blooms in autumn. During this time, some mages travel to the mountains to collect the flower.
Recently, a young mage journeyed to Foppstone to collect some of the flowers for his master. He traveled into the mountains but never returned. The villagers were not concerned as they assumed that the mage traveled on through the mountains to the lands beyond. The mage was caught in the mountains after dark and he did not want to risk making the journey back to the village without any light source. So finding a cave he decided to sleep there. He did not realise that the cave was also the home of a black bear and an obliviax. The mage did not know about the obliviax and the bear was asleep in the back of the cave. Being tired, the mage did not bother to search the cave; rather he tried to get to sleep as best as he could. During the night the obliviax drained all of the mage's spells. When the bear found him in the morning, the mage could not defend himself without any spells. The bear, angry at having an intruder in his cave, killed the mage.
As is usual for the region, winter quickly set in and the mountain passes were closed due to huge snowdrifts. During this time, the obliviax lay dormant with a small retinue of spells. When spring arrived, the shepherds in the village went up into the mountains to graze their sheep. One shepherd stumbled across the cave when one of his sheep wondered off. When he went to get the sheep from the cave, he discovered the obliviax. Curious at what the moss on the cave wall was, as he had never seen the moss before, he chose to poke at it with his staff. This angered the obliviax who responded by attacking him with a burning hands spell. The shepherd was killed instantly.
After two days the villagers were worried, as the shepherd had not returned; so they decided to send out a search party. The search party soon found the shepherd's sheep grazing in a valley, and then found the cave. As they approached the cave, the obliviax sensed them and succeeded to draining some of their memories. The shepherds panicked when two of their number suddenly forgot what they were doing and believed that one of the mages that came up into the mountains had decided to stay. They ran back to the village and hid in their huts praying to their god that the mage would not come to the village and kill them as he did their fellow shepherd.
Beginning the Adventure
The players arrive at the village two days after the villagers' encounter with the obliviax. The villagers instantly recognise them as adventurers and they all swarm them pleading for help. They are in a complete panic and do not make very much sense. Read or paraphrase the following.
After a long trek through the Jhanon Peaks you are exhausted. Lugging your equipment along narrow mountain paths and climbing slopes you never thought would end has taken its toll on you. All you can think about is a nice soft bed in the next town you come across, but from what you can remember the next town is at least two days away.
Suddenly your heart leaps as you reach the top a rise to look down into a quiet valley. Snuggled in the pine forest you see a small village of mudbrick huts. You look through the village to see that there is a large wooden building and leap for joy when you recognise it as a tavern. With that extra ounce of strength, you make your way down the path and into the village.
As you walk into the village, people suddenly appear from all of the huts and run towards you. They surround you and are all crying out to you for something. From the jumbled cries and pleas you can make out the words "wizard", "evil", and "help". Suddenly the crowd parts as three old men approach. Seeing these men, the villagers become quiet. They are obviously the rulers here.
"We apologise for this welcome," one of the men says, "but as you can see we are in a rather tight situation and we need your help. Unfortunately we are a simple people and cannot offer you much, but we will reward you with whatever we can."
If the PCs agree to help the villagers, read the following:
The men lead you into one of the huts and invite you to sit on the floor. They pour a cup of water for each of you. Once you are comfortable one of them says, "a few days ago a shepherd named Gart did not return home. We were worried about him and after a day a search party went out to look for him. That party returned from the search in an absolute panic. They claimed that they were attacked by a mage and that this mage killed Gart. The shepherds are known to tell tall stories, but a couple of them had forgotten what they were doing out in the mountains and the only explanation as to what happened to their memories is that they were stolen. I am not too sure what they encountered out there, but whatever it was did frighten them incredibly.
The reason we believe them is that mages pass through our village every autumn. Some of them come back through, others continue on to the other side of the mountains. They come looking for some flower that only grows in these mountains. We don't know what is so important about this flower, but mages do seem to be interested in it. Thus the possibility of a mage remaining does exist.
We fear for the safety of our village as we are simple shepherds and have no capacity to fight against magic. Would help us by going into the mountains and finding out what it is that scared them and what happened to Gart?
The patriarchs will help the PCs out as best as they can. As they were not in the party, they do not know exactly what happened. All they can do is piece together what the shepherds saw, and most of these stories conflict with each other. The only fact that does exist is that two shepherds lost their memories for that day.
If the PCs refuse to help the villagers then they will be treated very coldly. The villagers will glare at the PCs and will not help them. The tavern keeper will refuse to serve the PCs any drinks and they will not be able to rent a room for the night. None of the villagers will speak with them and the PCs will get the impression that they are not welcome in the village. After a couple of days, a small group of brave villagers will go to the cave and will not return. The obliviax will have cast some of its spells, but the bear would have killed the villagers. If the PCs decide to go after this, then they will not receive any help to find the cave, nor will they receive a victory party when they return. The patriarchs will simply thank them for what they did and then return to mourning for the loss of their friends.
The Village of Foppstone
Foppstone is a small village of shepherds and has a population of 100. It is in a temperate mountainous region on a small mountain pass. The road through the mountains is not a major one, but the occasional traveler does pass through and sometimes a merchant stops here. The villagers occasionally travel out of the mountains to the local town to sell their livestock.
The village has very few amenities. The buildings are mudbrick huts with thatched roofs, and there are a number of pens where the livestock are kept. The shepherds take their animals out every day to graze, and in the autumn the women go out to collect food for the winter. There is a small tavern in the village where the shepherds go to refresh and socialise, the tavern has a couple of rooms for travelers to stay in. A room costs 2cp a night.
Three shepherds, who are too old to tend sheep, rule Foppstone. These shepherds make the decisions for the village, judge in disputes, and perform marriage ceremonies. They also act as the voice of the village and conduct all transactions with passing travelers who wish to do business.
Asking the villagers will reveal little except that there is a mad mage in the mountains, he killed Gart, and stole the memories of two shepherds. The villagers remember where they were attacked and if asked, one of the villagers will guide them to the spot. The guide is an eager villager named Jark. He is trying to impress a young girl in the village and he believes that if he helps the PCs she will like him a lot more. Jark is a little over eager though, and will constantly pester the PCs to teach him things and to tell them stories of their adventures. He is also a coward, and will run and hide at the first sign of trouble. Jark believes that the wizard is hidden in a big castle with an army of demons, though if the PCs ask him to take them there, he tells them that he does not know where it is.
The mountains are quite rugged, yet enough goat tracks exist to make travel possible for non-mountaineers. Jark knows the mountains quite well and will lead the PCs straight to the cave. The closer he gets to the cave, the more timid he becomes. He will start out at the front of the party and slowly move to the back. When the PCs travel up to the cave, he will remain out of the way, ready to run back to the village if the PCs are defeated.
The cave is half a dayís travel from the village, and Gart's corpse lies at the entrance. The corpse has been severely burnt and his hand holds the charred remains of a crook. A little further in the cave lies the remains of a sheep. This sheep wondered into the cave and was eaten by the bear. The skeleton of another human lies at the rear. The bones have been scattered about the cave, but if searched, a tattered blue robe, a rotting wooden staff, and a backpack will be found. The backpack holds some food, a notebook, and a spellbook. A further search will uncover a sack full of spell components and a dagger +1 in a leather sheaf.
The notebook contains a list of spell components with some of the crossed out. One of these components in the book is the Aphritis flower. The spellbook contains the following spells: Burning Hands, Charm Person, Colour Spray, Detect Magic, Erase, Feather Fall, Magic Missile, Spider Climb, Wall of Fog; ESP, Flaming Sphere, Invisibility, Stinking Cloud, Web; Fireball, Haste, Monster Summoning I, Wraithform; Monster Summoning II, Dig.
The cave itself has two chambers. The black bear sleeps in the inner chamber and the obliviax is on the walls of the outer chamber. The bear is asleep at the back of the cave and will awaken if there is any disturbance. The obliviax is on the walls at the entrance to the cave. The obliviax should be played down as it just looks like ordinary moss.
Being able to detect sentient beings, the obliviax knows when the PCs approach, and also knows who is a spellcaster and who isnít. When the spellcasters come within range, the obliviax will steal their spells and add them to his collection. If the PCs attack the obliviax, and simply picking the moss off the wall of the cave will be considered an attack, the obliviax will reveal itself. The obliviax will also attack if the PCs attack the bear. The obliviax likes the bear being in the cave because the bear unconsciously protects it. Most intruders focus on the bear and ignore the obliviax.
In combat, the Obliviax will first cast a monster summoning II spell, and the next round a monster summoning I. The first round, 4 Troglodytes will storm out from the back of the cave and attack the PCs, and the next round, 3 fire beetles will come out and attack. While the monsters occupy the PCs, the obliviax will attack with its spells. It will attempt to keep the PCs away from it, and will neutralise those that it considers a threat, such as spellcasters and those with missile weapons. Any sounds of combat will bring the bear out, which will also attack.
If the PCs are fighting the bear, then the obliviax will not use its monster summoning spells so as not to confuse the bear. Instead it will target individuals with spells so as not to harm the bear.
Bear, Black: INT Semi- (3); AL N; AC 7; MV 12; HD 3+3; hp 22; THAC0 17; #AT 3; Dmg 1d3/1d3/1d6; SA Hug; SZ M; ML 9; XP 175; MM/17
Beetle, Fire (3): INT Non- (0); AL N; AC 4; MV 12; HD 1+2; hp 9, 7, 6; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 2d4; SZ S; ML 12; XP 35; MM/18.
Obliviax: INT Ave (8); AL NE; AC 10; MV 0; HD -; hp 2; THAC0 20; #AT 0; Dmg 0; SA Memory Drain, Spell use; SD Spell use; SZ T; ML 9; XP 35; MM/293.
Spells: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Feather Fall; Flaming Sphere, Stinking Cloud, Web; Wraithform, Monster Summoning I; Monster Summoning II
Troglodyte (4): INT low (5); AL CE; AC 5; MV 12; HD 2; hp 14, 12 (x2), 11; THAC0 19; #AT 3 or 1; Dmg 1d2/1d2/1d4+1 or weapon; SA Debilitating Stench; SD Chameleon Power; SZ M; ML 11; XP 120; MM/348.
Concluding the Adventure
The villagers will be very grateful when the PCs return. They will bury both the shepherd and the mage, making comments that mountains can be quite treacherous to the inexperienced. They had never heard of the moss before and will take note of what the PCs tell them about it (if the PCs actually know what they are talking about). Jark will get his girl and he, as well as the PCs, will become heroes of the village.
The villagers do not have much, but will throw a big party for them. They will also give them 6 sheep and allow them to stay in the village as long as they like. Anything found on the dead mage they will allow the PCs to keep.
Further adventures could involve the PCs finding out whom the mage worked for and informing the mage's master of the mage's fate. The PCs might be required to collect the items on the list for what could be a powerful item. The PCs themselves might even want to return to collect some flowers and sell them in the market for a profit.