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The Adventure of the Poisoned Lake
Author: Shannon Appel
Requirements: A Pendragon adventure that can be run anytime.
This adventure was originally run as part of the Talgarth campaign, set in Wales in Phase One. In that adventure Llangorse Lake was poisoned and its lady slain. It has been modified so that it can be run anywhere, anytime.
[Copyright 1996, 2000, Shannon Appel]
Setting: The Crimson Lake, a nearby enchanted forest
Problem: A Black Knight has slain a lady and poisoned her lake
Characters: the lady, lake monster, an enchanted beaver
Secrets: a magical fountain contains purifying waters
Solutions: travel to the fountain, defeat the guardian, and purify the lake
Glory: 500 (or 100) for killing the lake monster, 100 for defeating a
magical beaver, 100 for purifying the Crimson Lake
This adventure was originally run as part of the Talgarth campaign,
set in Wales in Phase One. In that adventure Llangorse Lake was
poisoned and its lady slain. It has been modified so that it can be
run anywhere, anytime.
This adventure centers around an enchanted place named The Crimson
The Crimson Lake is a small lake no more than half-a-mile around.
Despite its evocative name, it is usually murky blue-green. However,
on certain nights, when the stars meet in secret conjunctions in the
sky, the water turns crimson in color. This is said to mark an ancient
misdeed. 5d20 Ambient, 4d20 Divination.
An ancient lady has always tended the lake. She has minor prophetic
powers, and has used them wisely, bringing her a position of respect
in the local peasant community.
Introducing the Players
This adventure will have the most impact if it is played in the
player's homeland. Introduce the Crimson Lake as a nearby place of
Alternatively, if you do not have the latitude to introduce this new
location to your player's home domain, it can be placed anywhere in
Britain. Players will encounter the Lake while erranting, and can find
the basic information listed in "Locales" by talking to the peasants.
In either case, the adventure opens for the player knights when Caidd,
the young son of a local farmer breathlessly runs up to them. He'll
explain in quick, short sobs that the Crimson Lake has turned black,
and that the lady of the lake lies near death, and that help is
ENCOUNTER AT THE LAKE
Due to the warning of young Caidd (of some other method, perhaps even
blind luck, if you prefer), the player knights will be drawn to the
Crimson Lake. The scene they come upon is not a pleasant one.
The entire lake has turned a foul brownish-black color. The stench of
rotting corpses hangs over it, like a cloud. Players who fail [Con]
rolls as they approach will feel ill, and will be at -5 to all rolls
until they leave the area of the lake.
Lying perhaps twenty feet from the edge of the Crimson Lake is its
ancient lady. The ground around her is stained red with her blood. At
first, it is not obvious whether she lives or not.
As the players approach the Lady, they will see that she has been
struck a mortal wound with a great sword. Feeble movements show that
the barest spark of life still remains within her, which should amaze
the players, for her wound looks quite deadly. In truth, the lady was
struck down the previous day, and should have died at midnight; she
has kept herself alive mainly by force of will, so that she can give
warning and demand retribution before she dies.
When the players approach near to the Lady, she will move her cracked
lips one final time, offering up a litany of horror and sin:
"Knights. Good knights. I knew you would come. The Other World
calls loudly to me now, but I have held on to this one for a short
time, so that I might give a last testimony of what has occured
"It was a knight, dressed entirely in black who came here. I could
not see his face, for shadows clung to it like familiar lovers.
Within him there was a burning ember of evil, and by that token I
will recognise him ever more.
"The knight came here on a mission of destruction, and when I tried
to interfere, he struck me down as if I were nothing. And then, he
returned to his dark deed, and the lake, the poor lake, it began to
boil with the same vileness that the knight possessed.
"I must ask you one favor before I depart. In the nearby woods, the
woods that have been long ago enchanted by their proximity to my
lake, there is a natural spring. Creudylad's water bubbles up from
it. The water is clean and pure, and said to destroy any poison,
turning it back upon itself. There are guardians over the spring,
powerful protectors, but you can overcome them, I am sure. Promise
to me that you will seek out Creudylad's Water and try to purify my
lake. Swear it!"
With that, having expended her last bit of strength, the Lady will
slump to the ground. If one of the players swears an oath within the
next minute, she will die with a smile on her face (give that player a
[Generous] or [Merciful] check, as appropriate). If no promises are
made, she departs for her eternal rest wearning a sad frown.
It is likely that at some point, either before or after speaking with
the Lady, one of the players will aproach within ten feet of the lake.
At this point, the tentacles of a horrific monster burst forth. It is
the vileness of the lake personified, and it will fight to the death.
Evil Lake Monster
A monstrous octopoid creature, intent solely upon death and
SIZ 40 Move 2 Major Wound 80
DEX 10 Dam * Unconscious 0
STR 40 Heal ** Knock Down 40
CON 40 HP 80 Armor 4
* The Evil Lake Monster has three different forms of attack (see below).
** The Evil Lake Monster heals all of its HP at midnight.
Each round, the Evil Lake Monster gets 1D6+2 attacks (minus one per
person it is currently suffocating), split randomly among the
RANDOM ATTACK (D6)
1-2: Grapple 10, oppose DEX:DEX to drag player into water when
attacked; oppose DEX:DEX each round to break free. Starting with
the round after the initial attack, the victim is suffocating (see
Pendragon pg. 185)
3-4: Pummel 10, Damage 8D6
5-6: Spash Noxious Water 10, [Con] or be -10 to fighting for 1D6
Other Skills: Hide in Brownish-Black Lakes 39
Modifier to Valorous: -5
Glory to Kill: 500 (in combat) / 100 (by cleansing lake)
If the player knights manage to avoid the Evil Lake Monster on their
initial visit to the Lake, they will surely encounter it when trying
to purify the lake (see RETURN TO THE LAKE, below).
At this point player knights will probably be preparing to sojourn
into the nearby enchanted woods to search out Credylad's
Spring. However, they could go searching for the black knight, or
embark upon some other mission. Depending on their precise decision,
checks in [Honor], [Pious], [Forgiving] or [Vengeful] may be
THE QUEST FOR CREUDYLAD'S SPRING
The Lady's information concerning Creudylad's Spring was not very
explicit. However, knights learned in the ways of Fay may know more
[Faerie Lore. Success = The character has heard of the spring, and
has a vague idea of where it is (Hunting roll is at -5). Critical =
The character has heard of the spring, and has a very good idea of
where it is (normal Hunting roll). He also has heard some tales of
the Maiden Creudylad, an ancient Pagan Goddess. See Pendragon pg.
If the players are not learned in Faerie Lore, they will need to seek
out someone who is. This may require an adventure in itself.
Once the players have managed to get a general indication of the
spring's location, they will need go forth into the enchanted woods,
and Hunt for it.
Into the Enchanted Woods
The players must decide who will [Hunt] for their group.
[Hunting (-5). Success = After a hard day's hunt, you come upon the
Spring. Failure = You spend a day fruitlessly searching.]
Alternatively, the players may decide to stumble wildly into the
woods, hoping to find the spring by luck. They are dark and dense, but
after 2D6 days, the players will be succesful.
For each full day the players search for the magical spring, roll once
on the Enchanted Woods Encounter Table.
ENCHANTED WOODS ENCOUNTER TABLE
1-5 No encounter.
6-10 Cross trail of game, Pendragon pg. 339-341 (Roll 1d6.
1: Bear, 2: Boar, 3: Bull, 4: Red Deer, 5: Fallow Deer, 6:
11 Mischievous creature from the Other Side steals a random item
from a random knight.
12 Boar of unnatural intelligence (Pendragon pg. 339-340) tries
to stalk players, and seeks to draw away stragglers.
13 Panther (Pendragon pg. 342) observes players. [Awareness] to
spot it. It only is aggressive if attacked.
14 Random knight's horse becomes dendrophobic (afraid of trees)
due to a maleovolent faerie's curse.
15 Yale (Pendragon pg. 343).
16 Scared peasant from a nearby land is lost in the woods, and
seeks aid [Trusting/Suspicious].
17 Traitorous peasant from a nearby land pretends to be lost
in the woods, and asks for aid [Trusting/Suspicious]. If given
the chance, he may kill knights, or make off with loot
(use Bandit, Pendragon pg. 330).
18 1-4 Wakened Trees attack players:
Armor 10 HP 30*
Combat Skills: Limb Thrash (x2) 10, Damage 4d6**
* Not susceptible to major wounds; fights until 0 HP.
** Can not Critical.
19 A horse tainted by the faerie magic of the woods approaches the
players peacefully, but then tries to eat one (Use Charger
stats, page 339, but add the attack "Bite with Sharp Teeth 15,
20 Demonic Dog searches for prey (use Lion stats, Pendragon pg.
342 -- it is a coal black dog, with burning red eyes). [Religion
(Christianity). Success = this dog was clearly born in Hell.]
Glory: varies by encounter
The Glade of the Spring
Eventually, after a bit of searching, players will come upon the Glade
of the Spring. No matter what the season beyond the glade, inside
everything is always blooming with new life. As the player knights
enter the glade, perhaps looking warily about, they will be greeted by
a low squeaky voice:
"Excuse me! Excuse me! You aren't supposed to be here. No sir.
Sorry, no visitors allowed. Away! Away!"
The possessor of this voice is (quite amazingly) a beaver. To be
precise, it is a small (2' tall) bipedal beaver, dressed in velvet
The beaver, a nameless fellow, is the guardian of the glade. He will
explain quite clearly and concisely that no one is allowed in the
Glade of the Spring except for the priests of Creudylad (which the PCs
clearly aren't; none have been seen in years) and that they'll have to
leave. If they don't, he threatens that there will be a "terrible
gnashing of teeth"
During this initial dialogue, you should do your best to make the
players fear the cute Beaver. Play up his two most dangerous
attributes. First, he moves lightning quick, so fast that the eye
can't even follow him. Whenever a player blinks, the nameless Beaver
is elsewhere. Second, his teeth are quite deadly. Have him demonstrate
by chopping a big limb off a tree with one bite, and point out that
could have been an arm or leg.
The Beaver really doesn't like hurting people, and thus he'll try and
convince the players to leave. If pressed, he'll sigh and say that a
player can win proper admittance to the grove by passing the Three
Tests: Wit, Whim, and Will.
If at any time a player forces the Beaver to gnash his teeth, either
by trying to get the water of the spring unbidden or by failing one of
the three tests, the Beaver will launch a blindingly-fast attack,
leaving the players no room for reaction. The poor victim instantly
takes a Major Wound, and doubtless falls to the ground.
The Tests of Wit, Whim, Will
Only one knight may attempt the Tests of Wit, Whim and Will at a time,
and the beaver will brook absolutely no interference from others. If
the contestant fails, there will be a "terrible gnashing of teeth".
But, if the players insist, the Beaver will reluctantly move forward.
The Test of Wit is simply a Riddle. If the player answers correctly,
he wins. Otherwise, teeth gnash.
RANDOM RIDDLE TABLE
1. When young, I am sweet in the sun.
When middle-aged, I make you gay.
When old, I am valued more than ever. [wine]
2. If you break me
I do not stop working,
If you touch me
I may be snared,
If you lose me
Nothing will matter. [heart]
3. My life can be measured in hours,
I serve by being devoured.
Thin, I am quick
Fat, I am slow
Wind is my foe. [candle]
4. Half-way up the hill, I see thee at last
Lying beneath me with thy sounds and sights --
A city in the twilight, dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights.
5. I am, in truth, a yellow fork
From tables in the sky
By inadvertent fingers dropped
The awful cutlery.
Of mansions never quite disclosed
And never quite concealed
The apparatus of the dark
To ignorance revealed. [lightning]
6. I drive men mad
For love of me,
Never free. [gold]
The Test of Whim is exactly that, a test of the Beaver's whim. He
states it as such: "Give me a proper name". The Beaver will accept any
proper Cymric name, but if he is offered something else (eg, a Roman
Name, a Christian name, etc): gnash, gnash.
The final Test, of Will, is both the simplest and the hardest. The
"You have Wit! You understand Whim! You may take the water if you
Will! But, but, but, be warned! If you take the water, there will
come a day when your first-born son is called upon to pay a very
heavy price! Choose! Will or Won't!"
Checks in [Loyalty (Lord)] (if the Crimson Lake is within the lands of
the PC's lord) or [Honor] (if the PC swore to try and purify the lake)
may be appropriate if the PC takes the water anyways. A check in [Love
(Family)] may be appropriate if the water is left behind. The Beaver
will not gnash if a player knight turns back at the Test of Will but
he will announce that the PC has lost the contests, and must step
Multiple players may try these tests, one at a time. A random riddle
should be used for each Tests of Wit. The Beaver will require a new
name for each Test of Whim.
Eventually, the PCs will either win the spring's water, or be forced
to return home and heal.
Glory: 100 for winning the Test of Wit, Whim and Will. 20 each for
just winning some of the Tests.
Not Out of the Woods Yet
After leaving the Spring, the player knights will be ready to leave
the woods. Unfortunately, the dark woods are a confusing place.
[Hunting. Success = You make it out of the woods. Failure = You are
lost for the day.]
Continue rolling on the Enchanted Woods Encounter Table each day
the players are lost.
RETURN TO THE LAKE
Once at the lake, it is simplicity itself to pour the magical spring
water into the lake. A miraculous transformation will occur, and the
lake will be purified in a matter of moments.
However, if the Lake Monster has not yet been slain, it will have to
be dealt with. The water can not be poured into the lake while the
Monster lives unless a player is willing to take grave chances. Warn
that it is nearly suicidal to run straight into the monster's grasp,
but allow the player the option if he wishes. A player rushing towards
the lake must oppose his [Dex] to any and all Lake Monster attacks
that round. If he achieves a Partial Success or less, he is hit; if he
achieves a Total Success, he avoids that attack.
Of course, the player may not be too offended if he is dragged into
the lake. No doubt, the purifying spring water will disperse as the
Once the spring water hits the lake, the Lake Monster will
automatically begin taking 10 points of Damage a round, no armor.
Glory: 100 for each player who helped purify the lake.
FUTURE STORY IDEAS
Further adventures may come out of this one.
* The Black Knight - The question still remains: who was the black
knight, and why did he poison the lake? This plot can be best dealt
with if it is left to linger in the background of other adventures:
the black knight may become responsible for many of the woes of
Britain in the weeks to come. Finally, when the players catch up
with him, they will face a deadly battle. The black knight is a
former lord who has been possessed by the evil of a demonic sword.
Not only will the players have to face the moral quandry of striking
down a peer of the land, but if they decide to they shall have to face
his demonic power.
* The Beaver's Promise - 15 to 30 years down the road, the first-born
son of the player who won the Test of Will will be called upon to
fulfill his father's promise. The last priest of Creudylad will
request he discover an ancient artifact of the goddess, to help
revitalize her nearly dead religion. Not only will the quest be a
very dangerous one, but if this first-born son is a Christian, he
will have to weigh his [Honor] against his [Pious].
Although this adventure has been made generic, so it can be run
anywhere in Britain, it was originally part of the Talgarth
campaign. Several other adventures from this campaign have been
* The Talgarth Campaign - A description of a land in Wales, used as
the basis of a campaign set in 495. The original location for this
* The Adventure of Uther's Burial - Talgarth warriors go to London to
pay their last respects to Uther. Set in the year 495. Available at
* The Adventure of the Worshiping Picts - Talgarth warriors defend a
magician as he travels to a circle of stones. Set in the year
496. Available at this site.
* The Adventure of the Deceitful Faerie - Talgarth warriors help
Brychan resolve a peculiar problem near the magical lake of Llyn Cwm
Llwch. Expanded and reprinted without the Talgarth context in _Tales
of Magic and Miracles_ by Green Knight Publications. The original version of this
adventure can be found at the Chaosium Digest archive.
* The Adventure of the Golden Rose - Talgarth warriors seek in the
Forest of Dean for an artifact of romance. Expanded and reprinted
without the Talgarth context in _Tales of Chivalry and Romance_ by
Green Knight Publications. The original version of this
adventure can be found at the Chaosium Digest archive.