A roving warband of vicious orcs has slaughtered the inhabitants of a fortified Manor, and are reaping a harvest of plunder and occupation while they terrorize the surrounding lands.
This encounter area 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.
Breaking from tradition, this adventure idea heralds from the future rather than the past. Experimenting with the incredibly awesome Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (obligatory eternal thanks to Dave for acquiring them) I was trying to combine them with my other game-board building goods to make an ultimate dungeon. Multiple levels was a key element of this design, and it has four elevation changes, which is more than I hoped for when setting out to build this manor house. The map begins in the dungeon, goes to the main floor with surrounding outside area, then the upper floor with attached portico, and finally to the tower.
Zero level adventuring was also on my mind. When the new 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons releases in the fall, our group will most likely wrap up our AD&D romp through the original Dragonlance series of adventures, and start over in a new campaign. A zero level adventure is a great way to start a new campaign, and what better than to be naked and chained to a wall? Last time, during the playtesting phase of the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the players started in the sewers beneath a ghost town, having been captured by orcs.This adventure is a variation of that theme, with the characters captured and chained up in the cellar beneath a pillaged Manor house, and must escape before being tortured, killed, and ultimately eaten by the vile humanoids.
For groups who prefer to have their starting equipment and/or levels, the alternative flips the adventure on its head, as the characters seek to rescue the town princess (or etc.) from the depths of the Manor House before it is too late.
1. Root Cellar/Jail Cell
The room is dark and dank. A pile of moldy sugar beets, overlooked by the orcs, provides sustenance for those trapped behind the locked heavy oaken door, banded in bronze.
Have every player begin with one mundane item, such as a candlestick or iron pick. For added challenge all prisoners are chained, hand and foot, to iron spikes hammered into the stone walls and floor.
2. Furniture Storage/Guard Room
Cupboards, armoires, settees, tables and other antique pieces of furniture are stacked against the walls of this chamber. In the center a large oak table sits covered in food and drink, coins, and blood stained gore.
There are always 1d4 orcs in this room, and 1d4 of them are usually passed out. The coins amount to 1-10 gold piece value in copper and silver coins. 1d4 items of furniture are worth up to 100 gold apiece due to the antique value and craftsmanship, but they are delicate and must be moved carefully to retain their full worth.
3. Subterranean Chapel/Defiled
This chamber reeks of the stench of corruption. What was once an ornately carved chapel with a steeply arched ceiling and marble plinth to a deity unknown, is covered in filth from the wretched sacrifices of the orcs who worship their sick deities through acts of pain, death, and decay.
Hiding behind the lecturn, an orcish witchdoctor is intently carving hateful runes into a golden holy symbol. The orc has a Wand of Purple Lightning Bolt (1d6 damage per charge spent to all within 30 ft line including rebound, 10 charges) and it can summon 1d4 skeletons from the grisly remains in the chamber as an action. The witch doctor can also raise any slain character as a zombie as an action. Two statues in the back of the room are coated in filth. If they are cleaned, they will grant a boon to any who assist. The statue on the left is of Garl Glittergold, god of gnomes, merchants, and beggars and it will grant a permanent +1 specialty bonus to a single tool or weapon the character possesses. The other statue is of The Unknown Majus and will grant a free cantrip to any spellcasters who pay obeisance to the might of the Unknown Majus.(Create Water for divine casters, Create Fire for arcane.)
4. Natural Spring/Cavern Expansion
The sound of picks can be heard. Prisoners break rock and drop them into a natural spring pool. A trio of big black orc brutes, wielding metal studded whips and tridents keep half a dozen slaves toiling until they are dead.
The slaves are villagers from nearby. Their mayor was eaten and they offer vassalage to any who will defend them from further travesty. The orcs are savage, and wear chain or banded armor, and have short swords and daggers in their belts. They each carry 2d6 gold coins.
5. Basement Wine Cellar
The chamber has racks along two walls and a gurgling fountain in the north wall. Rickety wooden stairs ascend to a door at the top.
Nothing of interest here but a few bottles of wine and fresh water from the fountain.
Orc Manor main floor, which includes the storage chamber, the barracks, the guarded entrance, and the front yard.
The upper floors include the pillared treasure chamber, the orc chieftains dining hall, the open air porch, and the un-defiled astrological observatory tower.