This mini-adventure continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.
The Monastery of St Cuthbert History
The monastery is located in the forests surrounding a sparsely populated countryside. The monks are part of an order devoted to protecting the good folk in their domain by patrolling and watching over the inhabitants of the forest. Being monks of St. Cuthbert, the monks are not averse to using shows of strength and bouts of violence to ensure that lawful goodness prevails.
The walls are built of strong logs, the grounds are well tended and well defended at all times by at least half the monks. The daily tasks of the monks focuses on growing crops and keeping farm animals. The monks use the fruits of these labors to support themselves and to help those in need. Acquiring wealth is forbidden to the monks, but they keep a small stash buried in the woods outside the monastery for emergencies.
This edifice made its appearance in an adventure called “The forgotten King” (not to be confused with the published adventure of the same name. I just liked the name.) It was the opening adventure of a campaign I call “The undead wars” that saw a battle for the material realm between Orcus and Demogorgon, with the heroes (and the world) caught in the crossfire. In the adventure, the good people of King’s Gate were invaded by an undead army while the characters were staying at the inn. They have to escape, then find the clues to bring back the legendary “Forgotten King” who saved the people millenia before, and would return to do it again when most needed.
The Monastery of St Cuthbert was in a forest that the characters needed to explore for clues to the wherabouts of the king. Having stormed an orc hideout, they needed to find a place to rest, and came upon the sanctuary. It so happened that due to cancellations, only a couple players were able to make the next session, and so the monks had a special mission for those characters in attendance.
A gypsy woman was hiding with a half-elven child in the undead-occupied village of Kings Gate. The elven mage and human druid agreed to go on a rescue mission with an elf monk as guide. They entered the village and had to fight two ogres before arriving at the tent. They miraculously slew the ogres but in the process the elf wizard was knocked unconscious and fell into a cart of fish (which saved the characters life.) The woman was gone but they found the child, just as a patrol of skeletons began marching along the street. The elf monk escaped with the child while the druid held off the skeletons in a suicidal sacrifice.
He slew many of the skeletons before being cut down and left to bleed to death in the street. Thus began the most intense survival I have ever witnessed in a game. In 3e, the rules for below zero involve rolling dice and seeing if you lose another hitpoint or stabilize,once per hour. The druid was mortally wounded, and all night long he rolled to see if he slipped closer to death, which he did until he was at -9 hp. -10 hp was death. At that point he somehow stabilized, and dawn was breaking, so I ruled his dog came back, licked his face until he was conscious enough to pull himself up, fish the wizard out of the cart, and limp home to the monastery. Their reward for a successful mission was a hand woven head band that allowed +1 spell memorization per day.
There is an error in the map. If you look closely you will notice that there is no way to use the staircase to go between floors.