Saturday, March 16, 2019

Dolmenwood: The Tumulheights - (Hex 1609)

One-page settings seem to be making the rounds as a concept, and while I'm totally in favor of that sort of framework I'm also really big on the three-hex starter situations as well. So I figured to combine a sense of those both, thwap together a map in a hex, and then place it in a setting near and dear to my heart. This is a hex-as-setting, meant to provide just enough to get the ball rolling. So these are the Tumulheights, a series of hilly barrow mounds located in Hex 1609; which on the Dolmenwood regional map is a few south of Castle Brackenwold and can be located beneath the map key. It is a thematically low level area, a place to learn a little bit about the setting, defeat some lesser villains, and to get away from the woods for a little bit. '

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Hex 1609: The Tumulheights
A patch of rough hills, scrubland and sparse woods to the south of Castle Brackenwold, the Tumulheights are a sacred burial ground or the ancient Emeraude warriors who beat back the Gomans. Man, Goat, and more than a few other stranger things lay buried beneath the mounds. 

From Culderhill, the Lichwards see that the anointed dead stay buried and at peace. But villains out of Pook’s Way know all too well that the Watchers and fouler sorts in High Hankle and Havenland would pay well for the blessed bones. 

Throughout the mounds swine gather in large numbers, trudging through the forest in troupes, snuffling the pungent hilly air for the seductive scent of truffles and other pungent fungal spores. On nights of the full moon, the Black Pig is said to be seen in the woods, and those who gaze upon his baleful magnificence will find themselves forever cursed. The Lichwards, as well as academics of folklore out of Castle Brackenwold, have their own theories as to the origin myth of the Black Pig; but the locals out of Pook's Way claim it to be a wicked fey prince.

All manner of bogun and goblin from the Dolmenwood make their occasional appearance upon the mounds, often as spectators watching the spirits of ancient Emeraude warriors butchering the damned shades of Goman legionnaires upon the blessed earth. When the bones of the fallen are removed from their mounds, these displays change. The Goman begin to win. The spirits, be they man or goat, fall into despair and in time become tortured and wretched wraiths who devoid of their stories, cast forth oblivion.

Mortal man does not tarry upon the mounds at night, lest the pucklemotes swarm them and steal them away to the Dredgemoot; where the Black Pig is said to slumber all other nights of the year in corpulent hateful bliss.

Key Features:

  • Hilly - The grounds of the Tumulheights ebb and flow like waves upon the sea, and under each hill lie countless dead heroes from ancient days.
  • Haunted - If not for the Lichwards out of Culderhill, the actions of the dead would be far more vicious to outsiders. They only appear deep underground, in the Dredgenmoot, or on starry nights.
  • Windswept - Between the hills, the air blows quick and fierce. Smells carry for miles, as does laughter and whispers upon the wind.
  • Wooded - The woods, while sparse, are primarily old pines that have long succumb to the rot and weight of bracket fungus which clings to their trunks.
  • Temperate - It is as temperate here as in the rest of the Dolmenwood, though being just south of the wood proper, winter can be found here in its season--albeit reduced by proximity.
  • Colors - The flora here is like smoke-stained juniper leaves, the browns are of deep earthy slate. The pigs are all black, but not as black as the Black Pig or the Pucklemotes.

Points of Interest:

Culderhill Abbey:
A small, fortified tower of rustic stones hewn in elder days. Two stories, with a large stables which due to a lacking of many horses has been turned into a make-shift training grounds for those who make use of scourges and maces. A large stained glass window depicts St. Signis upon a hill, tending to flowers which grow from the skeleton of a woman whose spirit looks upon the incident fondly. Matron Superior Muccshab is almost always present here, alongside 1d8 acolytes (usually nuns), and 1d4 warriors, generally seeking blessings or knowledge of the undead.

Pook's Way Taphouse: A rickety wattle and daub building built like the long halls of old, with ramshackle gutters and the occasional chicken running wild outside its coop. A burnt wooden sign nailed above the door depicts a large orb-headed fairy of black, pointing a finger towards the door while a lantern sits on its lap. The interior is decrepit and the floor is uneven, with many loose boards and whole sections of dirt floor. The kitchen is well-stocked with sausages and rotgut beverages, and the goatman Tarridan Gresh is often singing a jaunty tune when not being berated by moss dwarf or more thuggish customers.

The Dredgenmoot: A section of the Otherwold, an underground maze where the mycellum of fungal deities once lived. They were consumed by the Black Pig and its predecessors. There are many ways out of the Dredgenmoot, but they require crawling through loose soil, eating hallucinogenic fractal molds, and being subsumed by slime molds that reflect forbidden suns on their shimmering masses. Moss Dwarfs can easily find there way out of here, often leading back to the real world by coming up under a garden of mushrooms. 

Cast of Characters:

Matron Superior Muccshab of St. Signis:
A grizzled woman in her late 60s, allegedly older if the hateful gossip of novice lichwards are to be believed. She bares an unearthly pallor and the chiseled face more befitting a mountain than a mortal; her habit is reinforced with leather tassets and she never leaves her chamber without her blessed jack-of-plates hauberk. A lover of poetry but a long sufferer of the ravages of the undead, she maintains many spells and trains others in the profession of a lichward cleric. She has long enjoyed her time in the Tumulheights, but recent bone thievery has forced her to take a hardline approach to any strangers she or her lackeys come across. She works from Culderhill Abbey.

[AC 9, HD 3 (12hp), Att 1 x scourge (1d6), THAC0 19, MV 90' (30'), SV D11 W12 P14 B16 S15 (CL3), ML 9, AL Lawful, XP 45]
  • Spells: Matron Superior Muccshab can cast three spells from the Cleric list as a Level 3 Cleric, and she can Turn Undead as though she were a Level 5 Cleric.

Tarridan Gresh:
A freshly twenty-year old goatman, child of deserters who fled Lord Malbleat's wrath, and apprentice-turned-propreitor of the Pook's Way taphouse. Easily mislead and with a voice like an angel, Tarridan has fallen under the coercion of Bashwick and his goons, and has long suffered the abuses of moss dwarf truffle hunters even before his former master was devoured by a "fog of shadows." Is overworked but likes the challenge. Has never consumed human flesh and will become an insatiable man-eater should he develop the taste.

[AC 5, HD 1 (4hp), Att 1 × Frying Pan (1d4-1), THAC0 19, MV 120’ (40’), SV D8 W9 P10 B13 S12 (D1), ML 6, AL Neutral, XP 10]

Bashwick of Great Lunden:
A bastard of a Havenlander, he shows signs of ensorcellement to those with the gift to see it. He drinks with hooded men and talks of expeditions into the mounds and the profits he's made selling pagan bones and old Goman scrap to high society folk in Lunden. He knows the Watchers and speaks kindly of their patronage. They plan to kill him once he's unable to fund further mercenary endeavors which might steal the bones and disrupt the joyful entertainment of faerie-folk.

[AC 5, HD 2+1 (14hp), Att 1 x Goman Sword (1d8+1, Masterwork), THAC0 19, MV 120' (40'), SV D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (F2), ML 8, AL Neutral, XP 35]
  • Bashwick is supported by a network of goons, lowlifes, and general thugs from Bellthorp and the Midderlands, all functionally equivalent as low morale henchmen. He has at least 1d4 with him at any time, and 1d12 when out in the field personally appraising or stealing bones.
The Black Pig:
A powerful fey spirit in the form of a repugnant and gargantuan swine the size of a cottage. It belches forth spoors, and breathes deep the sorrows of the damned. While it has a rapacious love of honey wines and stump dryads, it is a known enemy to moss dwarfs. Their scent is often too much for the Black Pig to readily tolerate.

[AC 4, HD 7 (32hp), Att 1 x Gore (2d4), 1 x Trample (1d8+1), or 1 x Spore Belch (3d4, Save vs Breath to halve), THAC0 13, MV 180' (60'), SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (F6), ML 11, AL Chaotic, XP 450] 
  • Spore Belch targets all within a 90' cone in front of the Black Pig's mouth, those struck by it can be tracked with supernatural ease by pigs, pucklemotes, and moss dwarfs until the half-moon. Moss Dwarfs struck by this spore belch are instead healed an equal amount of damage, with any bonus HP over their maximum threshold blossoming into an equal number of random edible mushrooms.
  • The Black Pig becomes enraged in the presence of less than it's HD in Moss Dwarfs, and dazed for 1d6 turns in the presence of more Moss Dwarfs than its HD.

The Pucklemotes: 
Lesser fey spores, sentient bits of black puffballs that chase and harass mortals who walk the mounds at night. They are attracted by candlelight and campfire, but oil lanterns perplex and disturb them. They serve the Black Pig and other faeries who watch the spiritual melee, acting as house servants and bootlicks. If they engulf a mortal, they will transport them into the Dredgenmoot. 

[AC 7, HD 2 (9hp), Att 1 x Swarm (d4) or Engulf, THACO 18, MV 90' (30') flying, SV D14 W15 P16 B17 S18 (NH), ML 9, AL Chaotic, XP 35, NA 1d3]
  • Engulf: Engulfing an enemy requires the swarm to collapse into the area directly around a single enemy and succeed at dealing maximum damage on a Swarm attack. If successful the victim must make a Save vs Spells or find themselves taken to the Dredgenmoot.
  • Size: 20' x 20' area, typically, acting like hooligans and shuffling about as though gravity didn't matter.
  • Swarm Attack: Unlike normal swarms, Pucklemotes will be half biting and nipping and half attempting to cast a spell to pull the victim into the Dredgenmoot. Roll 1d4 to determine damage, and halve any HP loss on those wearing armor (to a minimum of 1).
  • Warding Off: Characters wearing cold iron force a morale check to be attacked by the Pucklemotes.
  • Escaping: Fleeing the Pucklemotes is hard, as they are quick and vicious when finding someone scared of their violence. Characters who serpentine in their movements or throw distracting mushrooms or shiny objects can flee from the inside of the swarm by doing so for 3 rounds.
  • Pursuit: A damaged swarm of Pucklemotes will chase characters until they enter a religious establishment or an area where they must otherwise ask for permission to enter. If a character enters the "home" of another creature like a wolf's den, a bear's cave, or an owl's tree, there is a 50% chance the Pucklemotes will not pursue.
Randomizers for the Tumulheights:
Some specific and specialized randomizers for use in this Hex, or anywhere really. 

What is Tarradin singing? [d6]
  1. O Darling Fangbone - And what a sight was she, with a bone so biting brutal, it stretched from mouth to knee. 
    A jaunty and comedic love song about a man who fell in love with an ogress and sang her a tune while she slowly cooked him, eventually he sings from inside her gullet.

  2. Malbleat's Many Follies - "As boundless as the skies, as foolish as a goblin rump, as pointless as his spies!"
    An insulting tune about the idiocy and wretchedness of Lord Malbleat, mocking his abuses and his foolishness. Popular in Lord Ramius's army.

  3. To Dine Again in Bellthorp - "Crying, Cockerels and taters, and turnips, my boy! Oh bloat me, oh save me, my sweet Bellthorp girl."
    A drunkard's tune about better times and family, sung in Bellthorp and by those who wish to mock the Emeraudish over in the Midderlands.

  4. Blind Eyes Me God - "So I'm sure as a Wolder, with Drunegelt I came, and in my wyrm's greed, I feel now His shame..."
    A lament for shameful actions in the eyes of the One True God, generally based around pride and greed. Can be sung as a comedic tune, as if God is not judging but rather it is all in one's head.

  5. Waulking the Elf-Maid's Tartan - "We washed her great gown, with starlights and lamb's silk; we wash-ed her veil, festooned with pearls..."
    A washing song, generally getting more and more embellished with each verse until someone sings a line of how the elf-maiden is crushed under the weight of her luxury and goblins pick her corpse clean. Gallow's humor tune. 

  6. Lament of the Deorlings - "The Wood King bred me, for nine months and better, he stole me fair heart, and my soul to fetters..."
    A song about the King of the Woods, the deorling, and the loss of station and sense of self; a ballad of ego death. 
Concerning Truffles [d6]
  1. Robust Black Truffle
    The robust black truffles of the Tumulheights grow only near the mounds, and to the common eye they look like either the spoors or eggs of some terrible basilisk. The taste is too rich to be consumed raw, leading to a drunken state if not properly prepared. When cooked it fills the belly as full as any steak or hauk of ham. If prepared into an oil, it is a bit greasy but greatly contributes to the speed of the cooking process and if left to ferment with garlic in it, can create a robust cordial. 

  2. Ivory White Truffle
    A robust truffle that tastes like the richest and most earthy of breads, commonly found by both dogs and swine. When shredded or cut, it compliments most meals and greatly adds to their qualities. The most common sort of truffle to find itself exported both raw, and as an oil. Worth silver in either case.

  3. Grue-apple Truffle
    Cluster truffles that sprout like red fungal caps deep underground, often consumed by woodgrue and lesser fey as they enjoy the taste---something akin to blue berries over a stinky cheese and onion skins. Grue-apple can be used to make exceptional cooking oil which allows flavors to fully reveal themselves; and if coated to flesh this same oil can make poisons all the more powerful. Worth silver raw, worth gold in high amounts or in oils.

  4. Broom Truffle
    A truffle that grows like a bracket fungus underneath the bark of ancient trees, popping through the trunk of a tree like bristles on a broom. Bark must be carefully peeled back to allow for harvesting, which requires the use of specialized awls to fully dig out the fungus. Salty but sweet, like a baked apple left to ferment. Used to make fine cooking oils that peasants can afford. Worth silver.

  5. Scag's Tuber
    A false truffle, but still a favorite of pigs and moss dwarfs alike. Scag's tuber is a fungus that grows in wild onions, tasting much like fermented garlic and robust earth. Worth copper pennies in an open market, silver to someone buying in bulk. Can be used to ferment semi-spoiled food back to satiability. 

  6. Swinefavor Truffle
    A common truffle, most often consumed by boars, devil swine, pig seers, and common farm pigs. Seldom seen in kitchens for this reason. Cheap, worth copper pennies. Tastes salty but savory, almost like caramel. 
  1. Dreadful quality, barely ripe, molded over and maggoty. Worth 1d4 its coinage.
  2. Poor, broken, and poorly harvested. Possibly half-bitten by swine. Worth 1d4x2 its coinage.
  3. Harvested too early, not robust with spoors, or insufficient size and vintage. Worth 1d4x3 its coinage.
  4. Adequate form, good shape, little damage. Worth 1d6x3 its coinage.
  5. Perfect size, good shape, no damage, robust texture, and fine scent. 2d8x3 its coinage.
  6. Huge, powerful, bountiful, possibly sentient. Almost a burden to carry, but too perfect and astounding not to. Worth 3d10*5 its coinage.
Random Encounters (Day)
  1. Huntsmen with Truffle Hogs and Hounds, (1d3+1d8)
    1. Open to conversation. 2. Polite but cagey. 3. Professional and willing to barter. 4. Caustic.
  2. Havenlander and South Emeraude Thugs and Lackeys (2d6)1. Casing a mound. 2. Hunting deer. 3. Arguing with leader (Bashwick, if present), 4. Drinking.
  3. Lichward Friar and Exorcist Disciples (1+2d4)1. Ritual prayers for protection. 2. Contemplating signs of a struggle. 3. Reciting scripture in the field. 4. Contemplating signs of recent excavation.
  4. Deer (2d12)
    1. Bounding over hills. 2. Grazing on grasses. 3. Fleeing wolves. 4. Fleeing hunters.
  5. Swine (2d12)
    1. Consuming truffles. 2. Horrifying noisy sex. 3. Consuming a dead body. 4. Sleeping.
  6. Pilgrims (2d6)
    1. Singing songs as they march. 2. Discussing philosophy. 3. Praying. 4. Foraging foods.
Random Encounters (Night)
  1. Swine (2d12)
    1. Consuming truffles. 2. Horrifying noisy sex. 3. Consuming a dead body. 4. Sleeping.
  2. Havenlander and South Emeraude Thugs and Lackeys (2d6)1. Excavating a mound. 2. Camping. 3. Fleeing from undead, 4. Drinking.
  3. Deer (2d12)
    1. Bounding over hills. 2. Grazing on grasses. 3. Fleeing wolves. 4. Fleeing hunters.
  4. Pilgrims (2d6)1. Camping around a fire. 2. Warding away Pucklemotes to little effect. 3. Praying. 4. Sleeping.
  5. Moss Dwarfs (2d6)
    1. Hunting for truffles. 2. Hunting swine. 3. Tracking the Black Pig. 4. Making truffle oil.
  6. Undead (Ghosts, 1d8 or Ghouls, 1d4)
    1. Fighting Goman Ghosts. 2. Making merry upon the mound. 3. Cavorting with faeries. 4. Seeking justice for bones stolen.
  7. The Black Pig (if Full Moon), Elf Hunters (2d6, if not Full Moon)
    1. Reflecting upon nature's majesty. 2. Gazing upon the moon in strange sadness. 3. Rubbing bone weapons against fungus-infested trees. 4. Digging in the dirt, as if looking for something.
  8. Pook Morels (Wormskin 8, p.35, 2d10)
    1. Speaking ghost stories upon the wind. 2. Mocking the party for their terrible fate. 3. Turning acorns into beetles. 4. Throwing centipedes and roaches at one another.
  9. Pucklemotes (1d3)
    1. Laughing and giggling. 2. Engulfing a pig. 3. Bursting from the ground. 4. Eating truffles.
  10. Lichward Nun (Unique)
    1. Seeking to prove her bravery. 2. Romantically embracing a spirit. 3. Praying above a corpse. 4. Eating bread upon a corpse. 5. Meditating as a ghoul sucks upon her breast, burning. 6. Cavorting with additional Random Encounter.

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

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