A Netbook for the Ravenloft
and Gothic Earth settings
Edited by the Kargatane:
Joe Bardales Charles Brown John W. Mangrum
Christopher Dale Nichols Barry Trevelyan Stuart Turner
Articles Contributed by:
Matthew “Dead Man Talking” Ball Joe Bardales Bil Boozer Charles Brown
Andrew S. Cermak “Jack the Reaper” Jeremy W. Kiesling “Liederick”
Jarrod Lowe John W. Mangrum Christopher Dale Nichols Marcin Perkowski
Charles Phipps Marco A. Torres Stuart Turner Andrew C. Wyatt
Benjamin “Wolfshadow” Zolberg
Notes from the Kargatane:
All submissions have been edited to use Americanized spelling. This was done simply to give THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN a more coherent
appearance, and should not be meant as a slight against our Anglicized authors. Some articles have been edited for clarity.
THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN Release Date: July 31, 1998.
AD&D®, RAVENLOFT® and MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH® are registered trademarks of TSR, Inc. This book does not represent a challenge to any TSR-held trademarks. TSR is not affiliated with this book in any way. All articles are copyrighted by their respective authors.
This netbook may be reproduced for personal use, but may not be used to generate revenue.
Evan LaMorte (Bussengeist) 4.
by Marco A. Torres
Dunkel Kralle (Crawling Claw) 6.
Adventure: Near at Hand 8.
by John W. Mangrum
Barton DeForet (Ghost) 11.
Adventure: Rebirth 12.
by Stuart Turner
Hungry Lucy (Ghost) 16.
by “Jack the Reaper”
Marcu Vasilis (Human, Altered) 19.
Adventure: The Man Who Lost His Mind 22.
by John W. Mangrum
Anton de Marrisette (Human, Cursed) 27.
by Benjamin “Wolfshadow” Zolberg
Angelique Moliиre (Human, Cursed) 30.
Adventure: Vanity 32.
Marsal Ulok (Human, Diseased) 36.
by Marco A. Torres
Marie Annette (Human, Madman) 38.
by Marco A. Torres
Louis Giroume (Revenant) 40.
by Andrew S. Cermak
Gedhem (Rosh-Peger) 44.
by “Jack the Reaper”
Ishmael abd-Rabbo (Sense Drainer) 46.
by “Jack the Reaper”
The Green Man (Unique) 48.
by Andrew S. Cermak
Night Blossom (Vampire, Oriental) 51.
by Jeremy W. Kiesling
The Kargatane (Secret Society) 53.
Ernst Turagdon 53.
William Gruhman 55.
Holder Crosspen 58.
Jaerdaph Baeloss 59.
Drawden Selrach 61.
Ryven Trylbare 62.
by the Kargatane
MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
Francisco Garcia (Ghost) 63.
by Bil Boozer
Lord Louis Randeen (Human, Cursed) 68.
by Charles Phipps
Mordecai Weddingham (Human, Madman) 71.
by Matthew Ball
Jan Kryniewicki (Lycanthrope, Loup-Garou) 73.
by Marcin Perkowski
Bites-the-Rattlesnake (Mummy, Cave) 78.
by Andrew C. Wyatt
Lord Reynaldo & Lady Gisella Berra (Paka) 82.
Adventure: That People 84.
by Matthew Ball
Leonardo da Vinci (Vampire, Nosferatu) 88.
by Jarrod Lowe
Bras-Coupй (Zombie Lord) 90.
Adventure: The Fog’s Fury 93.
by Bil Boozer
The Parents (Credits) 99.
People are the key to Ravenloft. While other campaign worlds are often focused around vicious new monsters, bizarre new magical items, or powerful new spells, Ravenloft’s heart and soul is in the personalities and histories of the characters of the setting.
No other setting can boast such a proliferation of information about people. From the many detailed Darklords, to the individual creatures of the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium II, to the heroes of Champions of the Mists, to the NPCs of the Children of the Night series, Ravenloft is just bursting with fully-realized, interesting characters. It’s the motivations and desires of these creations that drives everything that happens in the Domains of Dread.
This netbook details more of these characters. They’re not heroes, and they’re not Darklords. Some of them don’t even fit any of Van Richten’s groupings. They are the Forgotten Children.
Stuart Turner, Kargatane
by Marco A. Torres
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;
Like yon neglected shrub at random cast,
That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.
The Traveller (1765)
It is possible for evil men to change. Often, however, they do not change until they are about to die, when it is too late too change anything. On rare occasions, though, even the most evil of men are given a second chance. And even more rarely, they use that second chance for good.
Evan appears much as he did in life. He wears the armor of one of Vlad Drakov’s Talons, and is clean-shaven, with short, dark brown hair. He also carries the marking of a hawk on his forehead. According to reported sightings, Evan always appears as a normal man, except for the fact that he appears very depressed and does not speak. Upon gazing at the victim(s) who will share his fate, he wipes away a lone tear and then vanishes.
Bussengeist, Neutral Good
Armor Class N/A Str N/A
Movement 9 Dex N/A
Level/Hit Dice N/A Con N/A
Hit Points N/A Int 13
THAC0 Special Wis 14
Morale 20 Cha 15
No. of Attacks N/A XP 0
Special Attacks Focused Despair
Special Defenses See below
Magic Resistance See below
Evan was born and raised in the domain of Falkovnia. Almost since the moment he was born, his parents had planned to have him become a member of the army, as they were a poor family, and it was known that the military was exempt from taxes. He grew up just like any other Falkovnian boy, with dreams to someday join the Talons, Drakov’s elite group of warriors. At age 18, at the urging of his parents and friends, Evan enlisted into the Falkovnian army. He rose quickly in its ranks, and at age 25, he was asked by Drakov to join the Talons. Overjoyed that Drakov would personally ask him, Evan gladly accepted. However, his joy soon came to an end.
While working inside Drakov’s castle as security, Evan began to learn of the true horrors of his lord. He quickly learned of Drakov’s short temper, and of his obsession with watching prisoners be impaled as he ate dinner. “At least,” Evan thought, “I’m not the one responsible for seeing to the deaths of these men.” That, however, quickly changed.
At age 26, Evan was transferred to prison work, and was in charge of selecting the prisoners to be staked for Drakov’s amusement. At first, Evan was disgusted by this, but did it anyway, knowing he would be the one staked if no one was presented. As time went on, Evan became accustomed to his work, and eventually began to enjoy the spectacle of watching a prisoner slowly descend down a pike. He would even talk to them and mock them as they died. It became one of his favorite pastimes.
One night, however, one of the prisoners managed to slip a poison into Evan’s meal which caused him to sleep. When Drakov was not presented with a staked prisoner, he became very, very angry. He personally descended into the dungeons to see what had happened. When he saw Evan asleep at his post, he became outraged. He beat the young soldier into consciousness, and told him that as punishment, he would be staked in place of a prisoner. As the guards led Evan to the execution site, Evan recalled the numerous times he himself had done this to other prisoners. He then recalled his feelings about executions, his feelings before life in Drakov’s dungeons had changed him. He pleaded for mercy to whatever gods would hear him, for he truly felt sorry for what he had done. The execution proceeded as normal.
Evan felt excruciating pain as the pike dug into his body, but he did not scream. He said nothing as he descended down the pike, slowly dying. A lone tear dropped from his eye, down his cheek. He closed his eyes, asked for forgiveness, and died.
A week later, the first reported sighting occurred. As Drakov’s guests ate dinner and viewed the executions, a young soldier looked around the table and noticed a member of the Talons. As he gazed at this man, the young soldier found himself becoming depressed. As he continued to stare, he noticed the man wipe away a lone tear from his cheek. Suddenly, feelings of sorrow and pity for the prisoner being executed overwhelmed the soldier. He ended up leaving the dinner before it ended, sobbing hysterically.
Due to the nature of bussengeists, Evan is always depressed. However, there is more to him than depression. Evan truly feels guilty for what he did to those prisoners under his charge. He is further tortured by the fact that he must witness these executions every night, and not be able to stop them. He seeks to convince other soldiers of the wrong in the executions, but his attempts usually result in causing more suffering and despair to those who gaze upon him. Evan would give anything to be able to tell one person how he feels, and convince them to help the prisoners.
Evan is a bussengeist, and therefore, cannot engage in physical combat. However, he is capable of an “attack.” Evan has been granted the ability to focus his feelings of despair, depression, and guilt upon others. Upon his wiping away the lone tear, anyone looking directly at Evan becomes overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, depression, and pity. Characters suffering from this attack must make a save against Paralyzation or begin to sob hysterically, causing them to suffer a -4 penalty to all attack and damage rolls, saving throws, and proficiency checks. Victims of this attack must also make a Wisdom check. If it fails, they also become overwhelmed with Evan’s memories and are knocked unconscious.
Evan can not be harmed by physical weapons, nor can he be turned by a cleric. The a wizard or cleric casting control undead, holy word, limited wish, dismissal, and forbiddance can temporarily drive Evan away for 2d6 hours. However, Evan will thereafter be immune to that specific spell if cast by that specific caster. Nothing short of a wish or dispel evil can truly end Evan’s haunting.
By John W. Mangrum
Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth ~
When the Requiem unleashed a wave of negative energy across Darkon, its corruption wiped out every living soul in the city of Il Aluk, animating them as the accursed undead. Even after that disastrous night, the curtain of death hanging over the doomed city had unusual repercussions…
Before his brush with the zone of death surrounding Il Aluk, Dunkel Kralle was a capable member of the Corvian militia, and had the solid, muscular build to prove it. After the negative energy coursed through his body, the dwarf’s health has declines precipitously. He is now withered and frail, his skin pale and clammy, his beard unkempt. He plainly appears, and in fact is, seriously ill.
To add to Kralle’s woes, his left arm ends in a scarred stump; the hand has been amputated. His missing hand, if seen, is nearly black with rot and carries the stench of wet leather.
Crawling Claw, Chaotic Evil
3rd-level Dwarf Fighter, Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 7 / 10* Str 18 / 8
Movement 9 / 6 Dex 16 / 10
Level/Hit Dice 5 / 3 Con — / 8
Hit Points 15 / 20 Int ? / 10
THAC0 16 / 18 Wis ? / 9
Morale 19 / 12 Chr — / 8
No. of Attacks 1 XP 420
Damage/Attack 1d4 or 1d6; see below
Special Attacks Surprise, Strangulation
Special Defenses See below
Special Vulnerabilities Cold-based spells
Magic Resistance Nil
* Scores before the slash represent the Hand. Those after represent Dunkel.
In the days which followed the catastrophic conclusion of the Grim Harvest, the other cities of Necropolis realized that all trade with Il Aluk has suddenly stopped. Fearing the worst, they sent out parties to investigate the source of the wave of fearsome energy, which had seemed to come directly from the heart of that great city. One such group of militiamen was sent out from Corvia, under the command of Sergeant Dunkel Kralle.
When his group neared the doomed city, they came upon an eerie sight; a clear border between life and death. Outside this border, the winter-thinned grass struggled to keep its grasp on life; all the grass within the border was brown and dead, presumably killed by the blast which has been felt by everyone in Darkon. Yet, visible in the distance, they could see the buildings of Il Aluk. Not only were they still intact, but trails of chimney smoke could be seen, and they occasionally even caught a glimpse of movement. Clearly, the city still held life.
Kralle’s group fearfully discussed this phenomenon among themselves, trying to deduce its nature. After a few hours of investigation, they determined that the clearly-marked border of death extended all the way around the city; if they were to reach Il Aluk, they would have to brave the border. Ill-versed in matters sorcerous, they guessed that, perhaps, the city had been surrounded by some sort of invisible barrier, explaining why no one was leaving.
Kralle tested this theory, fetching a dead branch and using it to tentatively probe the unseen barrier. He found no resistance. His men were increasingly unnerved, but agreed that they could not return to Corvia without answers.
Perhaps out of frustration, one of Kralle’s men, Drangen by name, shrugged his shoulders and declared that someone would just have to brave the border themselves. As this impatient guardsman strode forward, Kralle skin tightened. Overcome by a wave of dread, he rushed forward to stop the man from continuing. Kralle reached Drangen just as the latter stepped across the border. Kralle clamped his hand on the man’s shoulder just as Drangen suddenly stiffened in pain, instantly dropping dead.
In that moment, Kralle’s left hand entered the field of death. His hand erupted in searing pain, and a wretched cold surged through his body, threatening to freeze the very blood in his veins. Crying out in agony, he fell back, away from the barrier, even as his dead companion fell forward deeper into it.
The rest of Kralle’s men rushed forward to their fallen leader; fortunately they were wise enough not to run to Drangen’s side. They found Kralle still alive, but wracked with chills, his body weakened from its momentary encounter with the shroud of negative energy hanging over Il Aluk. Even more worrisome, his left hand has been paralyzed, numb and unresponsive.
Unbelievably, as they tended to Kralle, Drangen, though apparently slain, slowly rose to his feet again. For the moment, the guardsmen were overjoyed; but then they realized Drangen was not himself. As they called out to their friend in increasing desperation, Drangen slowly slogged off into the city, never even bothering to turn and give his allies a moment’s glance.
With that, the group decided they’d had more than enough of Il Aluk, and retreated from the border of death, helping their ailing sergeant stay on his feet.
Sadly, this was just the beginning of Kralle’s woes.
Within the hour, his numbed hand began to twitch and flex of its own accord. Soon after, the pain set in. At first, the hand seemed to be suffering from normal, albeit painful muscle cramps, but by the time Kralle’s group returned to Corvia the pain had become nearly unbearable, spreading throughout the affected hand. The pain was sharpest near the wrist, at the line between Dunkel’s normal flesh and the hand’s clammy, senseless skin.
Over the next few weeks, the situation continued to deteriorate. Kralle’s stamina had been permanently damaged by the pall of death, and his health—but physical and mental—began to fade. Dunkel developed a deepening fear of his affected hand, as well he should have, for the hand seemed to obey its own, malign intelligence. After the morning Dunkel was found half-dead, nearly choked to death by his own left hand, the offending limb had to be securely strapped to his headboard while he slept.
Even as the hand’s freakish intelligence seemed to grow, its flesh decomposed. It started slowly, with discolored patches of bruised skin, but progressed to greenish-black blotches, and started spreading up Dunkel’s forearm. When the hand started to reek of rotten meat, the chiurgeon was called for, despite Dunkel’s urgent, desperate pleas against it. The chiurgeon immediately declared Kralle’s hand to be gangrenous, and pronounced that it must be amputated at once. Kralle went into a panic, pitifully pleading for them not to remove his hand. Obviously in a feverish delirium, Kralle insisted that, so long as the hand was anchored at the end of his arm, he could keep it under control. The healer ignored his ranting, calmly warning Kralle that, if the hand was not removed, it would surely drag him into the grave with it.
After the hand was amputated, Kralle made just one, feeble request before he passed out.
“Bury it deep.”
After the amputation, and after the hand had been buried in a small, unmarked grave, Kralle began to recover somewhat. With the noisome flesh gone, he no longer suffered with unending pain, but his overall health did not much improve. It was though the unseen shroud hanging over Il Aluk had literally drained the life from him.
And put it in the Hand. Not long after its burial, the Hand—granted the mockery of life by the negative energy which has flooded its veins—started to slowly crawl its way free of the grave…
Dunkel Kralle, his health shattered by the negative energy, is a mere shadow of the man he once was. These days, he usually just huddles under a thick blanket, trying to stay warm, and trying not to think about his missing hand.
The Hand is somewhat more active. It possesses some of Dunkel’s memories, a remnant of his life-force as it flowed through the hand and out of his body at Il Aluk. It too feels the pain of separation, and wants nothing else but to rejoin Dunkel, and lead him into a new life in the grip of Death. Towards this goal, it is utterly ruthless, killing anyone who stands between it and Kralle.
Of course, since the Hand has no means to communicate, understanding its thoughts may be next to impossible.
Despite its small size, the Hand is a challenging opponent. The negative energy which animates it has also enhanced its agility and strength; the Hand can leap up to 15’ to make or avoid an attack.
When the Hand does attack its victims, it does so in one of two ways. If the victim is unarmored, or wearing armor no heavier than leather, the Hand clamps down on the victim, inflicting 1d6 points of damage with its crushing grip. Against more heavily armored foes, the Hand strikes with a powerful blow, causing 1d4 points of damage. If the Hand makes a successful attack with a natural 18 or better on its attack roll, it gets a firm grip around its victim’s throat and begins to strangle its foes. This strangulation automatically causes 1d6 points of damage each round until the victim is dead or the Hand otherwise lets go. A victim can only escape this death grip by making a successful Bend Bars roll. An ally can try to free the victim as well, but due to the Hand’s small size, no more than one character can try to wrench the Hand loose in any given round.
Edged weapons only inflict half damage in the Hand’s shriveled, leathery flesh, and as an undead creature, the Hand is immune to charm, sleep, hold, or death magic. It is also unaffected by raise dead, turning, or holy water. Cold-based spells make the Hand brittle, causing all damage rolls inflicted on it to be increased by one point per die for 1d6 rounds.
Although such magic is well beyond the limits of heroes likely to encounter the Hand, a resurrection spell renders the Hand immobile for a number of turns equal to the level of the caster.
NEAR AT HAND
This introductory adventure is designed for four to six heroes of levels 1-3. The adventure can take place anytime the heroes are traveling across Necropolis, and staying in a roadside inn. Since this adventure emphasizes mystery over combat, it is recommended that the Dungeon Master offer an appropriate XP bonus for roleplaying during these events.
Months have passed since Dunkel Kralle’s necrotic hand was amputated, but his health still has not returned. Still concerned for their ally, two of Dunkel’s friends (and fellow members of the Corvia militia) have decided to take him to the mudbaths in Nevuchar Springs, famed for their therapeutic value. Their hope is that this treatment will put Dunkel back on the road to physical and spiritual health.
In this time, the Hand has crawled from its unmarked grave, and is slowly closing in on its former owner. Thus, this adventure can take place virtually anywhere in central or eastern Necropolis, as the dwarven guardsmen travel from Corvia into the Mistlands. On the night the heroes cross paths with these travelers, the Hand catches up as well.
The Adventure Begins
The adventure begins one stormy night, in a roadside inn known as the Horseman’s Rest. The innkeeper is Pugh Horas, a middle-aged, balding man who runs the inn with his widowed mother, Mabli. While Pugh tends to the customers, his ancient mother sits near the warm hearth, knitting.
The Horseman’s Rest is a large, fairly typical rural inn, with a spacious common room, comfortable guest rooms on the second floor, and an attached stable outside. Every guest room has its own small fireplace, and the door can be barred from the inside. The Horas’ quarters are on the first floor, off the kitchen.
Perhaps due to the stormy weather, not many people seem to be traveling tonight. Other than the heroes, the only other guests are a group of three dwarves, two of whom are obviously militia of some sort. This trio consists of Kralle and the two Corvian guardsmen taking him to Nevuchar Springs, Eisen and Stahl. Eisen has numerous braids woven into his beard, while Stahl can be distinguished by his gray mustache, and the heavy crossbow he keeps slung on his back. In his weakened state, Dunkel stands out the strongest against his companions, shivering and wrapped in thick blankets. He acts nervous and frail, and looks like he was just fished out of a lake.
The dwarven guardsmen aren’t interested in chatting with strangers; if the heroes persist, Stahl will calmly but sternly insist that their friend is quite ill, and shouldn’t be disturbed. Under all his blankets, Dunkel’s amputated limb is not readily apparent.
About an hour after sunset, Pugh bars the front door, a guard against unwanted night visitors. The heroes can leave the inn if they want, but Pugh warns them we will not let them in again until daybreak. The evening should pass quietly, with Dunkel’s companions helping him up to his room after their meal. After the heroes retire to their rooms for the evening, continue with the next scene.
Eisen, dm F2: AC 7 (studded leather); MV 6;
hp 19; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d8 (battle axe); SZ M (4’); ML steady (12); AL LN.
S 13 D 9 C 16 I 11 W 13 C 10
Personality: obedient, quiet
Stahl, dm F3: AC 7 (ring mail); MV 6; hp 29; THAC0 18; #AT 1; Dmg 1d4+1 or 1d8 (heavy crossbow or battle axe); SZ M (4’3”); ML elite (14); AL LN.
S 15 D 13 C 17 I 11 W 9 C 8
Personality: stern, brusque
The Late Arrival
In the wee hours of the night, well after all the guests have turned in, Pugh is awakened by the sound of breaking glass in the nearby common room. This noise is too quiet to be heard in the upstairs rooms, but if one of the heroes is on watch in the upstairs hall, they can hear the sound with a successful Intelligence check.
Pugh goes to investigate, and finds a small pane of glass in the inn’s front window smashed, as if someone outside had tossed in a stone.
He’s still pondering whether to wake the Corvian guards and ask them to look into this when the Hand attacks. Springing at him from the shadows under a nearby table, the Hand clamps down on his throat. The Hand’s iron grip keeps Pugh from screaming, but his brief, flailing attempts to tear the murderous creature from his throat create enough of a crashing noise to wake the whole inn.
If a hero was on watch upstairs, they arrive just as Pugh collapses, dead. Otherwise, the heroes arrive at the same time as Eisen and Stahl, just moments after Pugh has choked out his last breath. Unnoticed in the darkness, the spidery Hand skitters away, slipping into the kitchen when Mabli comes in to investigate.
Upon finding her son dead, Mabli shrieks in horror; if the heroes do not take a few minutes to try to calm her down, Eisen will. Meanwhile, Stahl’s suspicion falls upon the heroes.
A quick examination of the room reveals two clues; the doors are still barred from the inside; unless the killer was capable of leaving through the rat-sized hole in the front window, he’s still in the building—and has probably been here all night.
Second, the killer strangled Pugh with such force that angry red bruises are already forming on his crushed throat. In fact, with a successful Intelligence check, heroes can tell that the bruises are in the shape of a left hand.
If the heroes turn their suspicions towards Dunkel, or otherwise decide to examine everyone, perhaps trying to learn if anyone present could be the responsible party, Eisen and Stahl will resist the idea that their friend should be disturbed. If the heroes press on the subject, the dwarves will begrudgingly allow them to see Kralle. Kralle, still dangerously ill, remains in bed in his room. As soon as the guardsmen accompany the heroes to Dunkel’s room, they’ll tell their ailing ally to show the snooping heroes his left hand. With some hesitation, Dunkel does so, revealing that his maimed left limb ends in a scarred stump below the elbow!
Satisfied that this clears Dunkel from suspicion, Stahl insists that the heroes now leave his companion in peace. If the heroes linger for even a moment, Dunkel locks feverish eyes with one of the heroes and, with a desperate strain in his voice, hisses, “I told them… I told them!” With that, Stahl loses his meager patience and forcibly issues the heroes out of the room.
Although the dwarves have no legal power outside Corvia, Stahl warns the heroes that they are suspects in this crime, and that they are not to leave the inn. At daybreak, one of the guardsmen will hurry to the nearest town and summon aid—until then, he recommends everyone lock themselves in their rooms. Mabli does just that, and the guardsmen start taking shifts; while one patrols the inn, the other stays in Dunkel’s room to keep a protective eye on him.
If the heroes also want to keep a watch, the dwarves don’t stand in their way. All the same, Stahl’s attitude makes it obvious that he considers the heroes prime suspects.
Like Looking for a Needle
About an hour after everything settles down again, the inn is shaken by Mabli’s piercing screech. Eisen and Stahl immediately bolt for her quarters, in such a hurry that Stahl leaves his crossbow behind in Dunkel’s room. However, longer-legged heroes should easily be able to be the first one’s at Mabli’s door.
Mabli has locked her door from the inside, but a simple Open Doors roll can force it open. Read the following to the first hero through the door:
You find the innkeeper’s wizened mother sprawled at the side of her bed, tangled up in the sheets. Nearby, her knitting materials have been scattered across the floor. She clutches a quivering hand to her heart, and is white with fear.
“The spider,” she whispers. “The spider…”
Mabli has nearly been frightened to death, so it will take considerable comfort on the part of the heroes to calm her down enough to talk. If they do settle her down, all she can tell them is that she was woken by the feeling of something creeping up the length her body. In the darkness, she saw a “horrible black spider” crawling up the sheets, and when it suddenly leapt at her face… that’s the last thing she remembers.
In the darkness and through her terror, Mabli’s account is a bit confused. Her “spider” was of course the Hand, which scuttled in here after killing Pugh. Also, it wasn’t lunging at her, but rather at her knitting materials.
As soon as Stahl realizes Mabli is still alive, he orders Eisen to keep an eye on her, and he goes back upstairs to keep watch over Dunkel.
If the heroes examine Mabli’s scattered knitting gear, they discover that one of her two long knitting needles is missing. Soon after this discovery, they make another:
The face of the dwarven guardsman, Eisen, clouds over in confusion as he points toward the cold hearth.
“What… is that?”
Looking where he’s pointing, you immediately see that he’s simply pointing at a small ball of yarn lying near the fireplace.
But wait—the ball twitches a bit. And again. Suddenly, you realize that it’s being tugged at, slowly being unraveled. Your eyes following the coarse thread, you discover that, in erratic jerks, something is slowly unspooling the yarn into the fireplace… and up a flue surely no wider than your arm!
If a hero grabs onto the yarn, something strong tugs at the far end for just an instant before the thread snaps and goes slack in the hero’s hands.
Eisen starts to slip into stammering shock, muttering, “No… it can’t be… Stahl said it was impossible…” If the heroes press the frightened dwarf, he’ll finally blurt out all of Dunkel Kralle’s demented claims that his amputated hand was coming to find him. With increasing terror in his voice, Eisen can give provide all of the information in Dunkel’s background section. As soon as he wraps up with the revelation that Dunkel’s hand must still be “alive,” a loud crash can be heard from upstairs. With successful Intelligence checks -2, heroes may even be able to hear the sound of Stahl’s crossbow firing in the instant before the crash. When the heroes run upstairs to investigate, continue with the next scene.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping
As soon as the first of the heroes comes in sight of the door to Dunkel’s room, read or paraphrase the following:
As you rush upstairs, you discover the door to Kralle’s room is slightly ajar. Before you can close the distance, however, a bloody left hand juts out of the gap. The hand clutches onto the door, pulling it farther open, and the owner of the hand, the guardsman Stahl, staggers out into the hall. His face and neck are wet and crimson, and as he twists to look at you with drowning eyes, you see why: a crossbow bolt, apparently fired from directly below him, just out of his neck, having been driven deeply into his jaw.
Stahl makes one feeble attempt to gurgle something out, and collapses lifeless on the floor.
The Dungeon Master should call for horror checks on the part of the heroes, then continue with the following.
Moments after Stahl crumples to the floorboard, Dunkel Kralle appears in the doorway, his face a mask of fear and madness, Stahl’s battle axe in hand.
“I told them,” he screams at you, before slamming the door shut. In the next moment, you hear a bar being slid into place.
The heroes can break into the room with a successful Open Doors rolls (vs. a barred door), or by inflicting 20 points of damage to the door. The entire time the heroes spend breaking in, they can hear Dunkel inside, continuing to shriek “I told them!” again and again. When the heroes do finally break in, read the following:
You burst into the room, instantly spotting Dunkel perched on the edge of his bed, his back to you.
“I told them,” he shrieks one more time, turning to face you. “I warned them, but would they listen? No!”
As he turns, you see his maimed limb. What previously ended in a scarred stump now ends in a shriveled, blackened hand that writhes and twitches like some horrid insect. With his good hand, Dunkel feverishly works a knitting needle, using it and a length of the heavy course thread to anchor the monstrous Hand to his ruined wrist.
“I told them to bury it deep!”
Dunkel, finally driven completely mad by his prodigal limb, makes a desperate attempt to fight his way past the heroes and out into the night. Dunkel wields Stahl’s battle axe in his right hand, while the Hand can make separate attacks. The Hand’s only limitation, now that it has been refastened to Kralle’s arm, is that it can no longer leap at its victims. Damage done to Kralle does not affect the hand, and vice versa.
Working together, the heroes should be able to stop Dunkel, and may even try to keep him alive in the process. If the Hand is destroyed, Eisen will try to complete the journey to Nevuchar Spring with him. Sadly, Dunkel is now so lost in his madness that he must be restrained; Maykle might be a more fitting destination.
If the Hand is not removed from Dunkel’s wrist, the negative energy flowing throw it finally overcomes the last of Kralle’s strength, and he dies before dawn.
If Dunkel is killed while the Hand is still attached to his wrist, or if the Hand is not otherwise removed by dawn, Dunkel Kralle will not lie easy in his grave. Thanks to negative energy seeping from the Hand into his body, he will rise again after three nights as a half-strength wight. Eventually, this new wight will feel drawn towards the dead city of Il Aluk, but perhaps not before hunting down the heroes who hastened his journey to the grave…
by Stuart Turner
She longs to fold to her maternal breast
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