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Author: Keith Mclachlan
System: AD&D 2nd Edition
This is an AD&D sidetrek adventure made for characters of the levels 1-3 (total of about 6-8 levels). But, because there is almost a good chance that the characters can complete the adventure without sustaining physical harm, any assortment of levels and characters could be run with the DM just tweaking this adventure slightly.
This is an AD&D sidetrek adventure made for characters of the levels 1-3 (total of about 6-8 levels). But, because there is almost a good chance that the characters can complete the adventure without sustaining physical harm, any assortment of levels and characters could be run with the DM just tweaking this adventure slightly. There is one necessity though, the group must contain at least one magical (or silver) weapon to stand a chance against the poltergeist that features in this adventure.
The adventure is set in and around the small town of Blinkensdorpie, which is situated on the windy, wild moors of the highlands. The characters might just be passing through, or, for whatever the reasons, they have to find an inn for the night and so find themselves outside the “Yankste Pony” in the centre of Blinkensdorpie.
The “Yankste Pony” is your typical small inn from around this area. It has steps leading down to a basement where the bar is and steps leading up to accommodation at 5sp per person per night. This is where the townsfolk come to drown their sorrows and by the looks of it the whole town is suffering from a serve depression attack!
It is almost packed with only a seat for the characters next to a glum looking old man. The general atmosphere of this damp, little room is that of glum solitude and bleak despair. Unluckily this is also the only bar (or inn for that matter) in the whole of Blinkensdorpie.
Whether they choose to sit next to him or not, Mr Mockwood (the glum old man) approaches the newcomers and engages them in an almost aggressive conversation. He has been living in the inn for the past two years of his life and he feels that it is his turf; any and all that come here go under his scrutiny. Tonight he decides to have some fun at the character’s expense.
Mr Mockwood begins, after the usual pleasantries, by telling the tale of “da ‘aunted ‘ouse there yonder hill”. He has a terrible Cockney accent that the DM can hilariously act out. You can pick up the accent from watching some British TV programs (e.g. “The Two Fat Ladies” and “Black Adder”) if you can’t already imitate one.
The story that Mr Mockwood relates to the characters goes as like such (without his accent of course): “There, just outside of the comforts of our peaceful town, lies a place of the darkest shadows. A place where only the strongest of will or most foolhardy would dare to tread. This terrible curse laid on Blinkensdorpie is Bludgeoning Heights. The Heights used to be owned by a mean, old woman going by the name of Catherine; though I doubt that was her real name, but no one cared to find out much about the old bag. Except that she stashed away hordes of treasure in that little house, and she didn’t spend a cent of it. Yep. Just horded it all away like some big, rotting dragon. Now I not one to judge, but if you keep a fortune, the likes that she had, all to yourself for long enough it’s sure to attract unhealthy attention. And, even though she never actually openly admitted to the existence her treasure, a group of bandits decided to relieve her of it one night. I don’t know what happened up there that night-no one does, but the old-bag was never seen again after that; my guess: she was had by the bandits when they couldn’t find her treasure.
Anyway, the bandits all left in a hurry that night, and left for good that is. I know all this to be true because I witnessed it all while sitting on my porch that night, puffing my pipe. Ever since that night the Heights have been the domain of a spirit of bitter revenge. Some say that the curse that haunts that house is Catherine’s spirit, but I prefer to think that it’s just Lord Hades himself.
Many have tried to search the house for her legendary treasure, but all leave before even a few minutes have past swearing on their oath that they will never set foot in that cursed house again. Such fools,…cowardly fools. I still believe that a group of brave people would be able to spend a full night there without running out in a panic.”
He ends off his story with a bet that the characters, despite all their bonny equipment, won’t be able to stay one full night in that house without turning tale and fleeing. He puts down 3gp’s for each PC that is able to spend the night there. Each character that even steps outside of the house for a breath of fresh air must pay him a sum of 3gp’s or sure as the sky is blue and the clouds are white he’ll knock ‘em down and wring the gold from their big toes.
Mr Mockwood perches himself just outside of town on his porch, that he built himself under a large gnarled tree, the night that the character decide to spend in the Heights. From his vantagepoint, quietly smoking his moorland-tobaco pipe, he can see the ins and outs of the cottage along with the characters movements on a clear night. Just for the sake of the story say that the night the character decide to venture into the cottage is one such night with a large, eerie full moon sitting up in the sky like a watchful eye.
Now the whole time while this conversation has been going on between Mr Mockwood and the characters a malicious, dark looking man has been eavesdropping on them. He isn’t spotted unless the characters make a special effort find suspicious looking characters in a bar late at night.
He goes by the name of Wheatcliff and was the leader of the bandits that murdered the poor Catherine for her gold and then couldn’t find it. The rest of his band dispersed and none, save him, remain of the outlaws that used to reside in and around this small town, all the rest having moved as far as possible from the groaning spirit of Catherine. He has just been kicked out of his present lodging for not being able to pay rent and is therefore very interested in getting the dead widow’s treasure (if it does exist). He knows that she haunts the cottage, though, after attempting a search for the missing gold one night and having her attack him.
Wheatcliff decides then and there to attempt to waylay the party on the way back from the haunted cottage, hoping that they have found the gold that he feels rightfully belongs to him.
This is a perfect place at which the story can either be toughened (by increasing Wheatcliff’s statistics or giving him tougher bodyguards) or weakened (by decreasing Wheatcliff’s statistics or even eliminating the encounter with him completely).
Whether they emerge victorious with gold under their arms in the morning, or they coming running out in a blind panic; Wheatcliff is waiting for them that night with a couple of hired local brigades. His men and him lie in the high grass around the side of the road and jump out giving the characters a –4 on their surprise roll. He first demands the gold and then, with or without the gold, he attacks intent on bodily harm.
Wheatcliff (1): INT average; AL LE; AC 8 (leather armour); MV 12; F2; hp 13; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg by weapon (he uses a bastard sword one-handed); ML 10; XP 75; he appears in black leather armour and has his hair matted into short, spiky braids. One of the PC’s might recognise him from that night at the inn, otherwise he is a complete stranger.
Brigades (2-6): INT low; AL LE; AC 10; MV 12; 0-level human with the club proficiency; hp 5 each; THAC0 20; #AT 1; Dmg by weapon (they each carry a club and a crudely made dagger); ML 9; XP 20; the brigades are the local “no goods” who are every now-and-then picked up by Wheatcliff to aid him in certain ways. Because they are lazy, slow and in fact rather cowardly they make a break for the hills as soon the fight looks like it might be turning against them.
BLUDGEONING HEIGHTS & MISS CATHERINE
Blugeoning Heights is situated on a small hill mound about twenty minute’s walk outside of Blinkensdorp. The area surrounding it has a dark and foreboding atmosphere to it and the DM could have it start to drizzle when they reach this area.
The actual cottage itself is somewhat unimpressive and is in terrible repair after being neglected by Catherine even before she died. Time has eaten through most of the wood on the door, which bangs around noisily in the constant wind of the moors and creates haunting, spooky sounds swinging on its old, rusted hinges. The crudely laid stone walls have moss and various poisonous grasses growing on, in and around it. The roof, being made out of hardened tar and grass, is somewhat resistant to time and has lasted fairly well for the builders’ efforts.
Once inside it is almost pitch black with only the faintest of light creeping in through the single small window of the whole house in the main room giving a small degree of sight to those who don’t have access to infrovision.
The minute all of the characters are securely inside the little cottage Catherine begins her haunting…
At first small, every day incidences occur like for instance the door on the hinges bangs when there is a break in the wind, chilly winds blow from nowhere, or characters trip and fall on unseen obstacles. But then after about twenty minute’s (or when the characters discover Catherine’s gold in her bedroom) Catherine, the poltergeist, makes herself known!
She throws up a storm, hurling every available item (broken chairs, knives, sticks and stones and rusted kitchen utensils) at the characters while making frightful wailing sounds.
Note that she is invisible to the characters and they get –4 to any attack roll in order to hit her. She is also retains some intelligence of her former life and so doesn’t stay in a single place for to long and the characters should have her attacks coming from all different angles as she moves herself around them.
Catherine (1): INT low; AL LE; AC 10; MV 6; HD ½; hp 4; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg Nil; SA Fear; SD Invisibility, silver or magical weapon to hit; MR Nil; SZ M(6’ tall); ML 10; XP 120; MM/296; any character who is “hit” by one of Catherine’s attacks in reality suffers a close shave when a knife (or whatever) thrown by Catherine barely misses them by inches. They then have to make a saving throw vs. spell or run away in a blind panic for 2d12 rounds. This run will naturally take out of the cottage to where Mr Mockwood will see them and smugly demand his money.
Note that any PC who makes his saving throw vs. spell against the poltergeist’s attack is thereafter immune to any further attack by the same poltergeist’s attack.
The cottage is a plain dwelling, common to these parts of the world. It is a two-room house with a small room at the back used for sleeping and other personal activities that would not be proper to do in the “public area” of the house. The second room takes up about two thirds of the house and is where all the activities; eating, cooking, entertaining guests, washing, work and so on, take place.
The front entrance leads into the large room there is nothing much except rotted furniture and broken kitchen utensils, rusted knives and forks etc. The door to the sleeping-room has not rotted away as badly as the front door, but it’s well on its way. The large room is also the single room in the house to have a small opening for a window in the front wall, which sheds dim moonlight over the rubble inside.
The second room is where Catherine used to sleep. The straw mattress has long since rotted away, but Catherine’s bones can be found in a shallow grave in the far corner of this room. There is nothing of value on them, but digging them up should provoke a direct attack by the enraged poltergeist form of Catherine now present here.
There is a false brick in the furthest wall which, when pulled out, reveals a small pocket in the wall in which Catherine kept her small “fortune”. The treasure adds up 25gp and one small jewel of indiscernible value (DM’s choice). Remember that if the characters get this far without Catherine attacking them yet, she does so the instant that the character discover her secret treasure.
If the characters manage to cleanse the cottage of the spirit and spend a full night in the cottage Mr Mockwood begrudgingly pays them the money owing to them and stalks away sulkily. The village folk soon learn of the character’s courage and they are view them in new light giving them specials on food, lodging and equipment if not just plain being friendly to them.
If the characters didn’t spend a full night in the cottage (or at least one of them ran away due to fear) Mr Mockwood comes up to the cowards and smugly demands his money. If the PC/s responsible refuse to pay him, the cowardly Mr Mockwood stalks away after threatening them severely. He may or may not live up to his oath of revenge (that can be decided by the DM), but what is sure is that the characters are now shunned by the village folk for being liars and cheaters as well as cowards.
If Wheatcliff and his bandits are killed or, more likely, they manage to escape after a good beating; they all leave town in a great hurry swearing revenge on the PC’s at a later date. The town’s general feeling towards them leaving is definitely not one of deep regret and the PC’s are regarded in the town’s cold spirit as small-time heroes and they are treated accordingly.