Kobold Press

Your Whispering Homunculus – Nevermore (Part 1)

Your Whispering Homunculus

When the Bough Breaks

“For the final time, come down off your perch and sit.”
“But, master, the cat’s boils . . .”
“. . . Can wait. I want to tell you a story.”

This entry and the next entries for Your Whispering Homunculus are unusual, for this time you’ll see no quirky lists, no strange nonplayer characters, no gazetteer of unusual hats, and no small talk. The next entries contain an adventure called Nevermore.

Nevermore is an unusual, short, 2nd-level Pathfinder adventure in which the players take on the roles of an awakened ravens who nest in a single great tree and who call themselves the Great Unkindness. It can be modified easily for 1st-5th level as required. The eldest raven is beginning to sense that something is going wrong with the world, and the very future of the Great Unkindness is threatened.

The adventure also serves as an aperitif for creatures found within the Pathfinder version of Courts of the Shadow Fey and the Raven’s Call, both available from Open Design. The player characters here are going to face a giant driven mad by the songs of the shadow fey.

You can easily modify the adventure by increasing the level of the PCs and numbers of opponents. As written, taking the adventure up to 5th level should be easy to achieve, although beyond that level the main threat of the adventure becomes something that PCs may try to fight, which in some ways defeats the object of the adventure in pitting a proverbial David against Goliath.

Roleplaying Different Creatures

Part of the fun of roleplaying games is the possibility to take things anywhere. The occasional change of pace and focus can be great fun, and this adventure is intended to allow your players to think a little differently. It should be a fun one-shot adventure, and it could lead into other adventures (some suggestions for which are listed at the end of the adventure). Using this adventure as a runner into others lends it meaning, but you might be happy just to switch pace slightly—use it however you wish.

Don’t worry too much about logistics, but in essence picking things up, writing things down, and other manipulations are not possible for the ravens. They can move and open things through magic, and they can use their beaks to pick at and open objects. Suggested traits for the four PCs are given, but again the idea here is to have fun. Don’t take things too seriously. The PCs do not have equipment, but they may find useful things on the way. Where spells require material components, you can assume that small components listed can be held within the feathers of a raven or are shown on the character sheet; larger components may require you to judge them accordingly.

Assume the ravens can speak Common and also use a speak with animals effect at will.

Introduction

Ask your players to choose a character from the appendix; if no suitable characters are available or you require more, create your own using the raven familiar as a base creature (Pathfinder Bestiary, page 133) and creating a 2nd-level character. When you and your players are ready, read or paraphrase the short introduction.

“You are awakened ravens, and you come from a great unkindness that roosts within the arms of the Eldest Tree, a sycamore of incredible size and age that broods at the edges of a huge forest known to your unkindness as the Great Wood. Many of your kin revert slowly to normal animals as they age, but you are regarded as the present heroes of the tribe—gifted kin who have had many adventures. Although it is only late summer, a chill wind blows through the forest, and already the leaves of the Eldest Tree are turning gold.

The unkindness is ruled by the Elder Witch, a raven of such age that she never leaves her perch in the tree’s most ancient heart.

Today she has summoned you, and as the boughs creak in a gathering storm, you venture deep into the folds of the tree and onto the bough where her nest lies.”

The Elder Witch is so ancient that her feathers have turned white and she can barely see. Her talk is fractured by the crack of her wizened beak, and she huddles in her nest, shivering in the wind. She is a good-hearted creature who has seen many summers, and her young have scattered across the Great Wood and become lost to memory.

The Elder Witch explains that she has been plagued by a dream that always ends the same way: The Great Tree is felled. This dream has been getting clearer and clearer in recent days, and she is terrified that it is an omen. Her sight tells her that something is coming from the north—a capricious wind that may level the Great Wood itself. She asks the PCs, as the greatest living heroes, to go north and stop whatever is coming, or prove an old woman mad in her fretting.

The Elder Witch places a tiny gourd on a thong about the neck of each PC. Each contains a potion of cure light wounds and can be swallowed whole. She ends by telling them to hurry and adds some good advice: A family is better than four individuals. If they help each other, she is sure that the PCs will stop whatever ill wind blows in this direction.

The Great Wood

The PCs may know several things about the Great Wood, and a Knowledge (nature) check or a general Intelligence check identifies the legends and tales below. The PCs can also ask the Elder Witch, but she is very forgetful; she makes one check at +5.

Check What Is Known

5 The Great Wood stretches beyond the horizon, and no raven has ever crossed it totally; its boughs are home to creatures both wicked and cruel, and the animals within have been touched by fey.
10 Some say the animals inside have been courted by Shadow Fey, who make promises to them. These promises eventually lead to madness, and there are some animals within the Great Wood that are not to be trusted.
15 Some of the trees within the wood are alive, and the things that live on them are wicked; ‘when you choose a nest, be sure it is empty first’ is an old raven motto of the Great Wood with more than a grain of truth in it.
20 Stories have reached you of anger in the Great Wood of late—of fires and the cries of ancient trees being slain. Some say a fire is coming, and this fire will burn the wood to ashes.

The Journey Begins

Flying, the PCs can travel 8 miles an hour at speed, and 4 flying steadily. If they try to cover more than 40 miles in a day they must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/4 miles over 40) or be fatigued and need to rest a day.

As the PCs fly into the Great Wood northward, read or paraphrase the following description:

 “The Great Wood broods ahead of you, its boughs disturbed by strange calls. Eyes glint in the dark undergrowth of the forest floor, while briars and holly choke the ancient trees. A chill wind picks up, bringing with it the strangest of smells—the smell of sweet berries, sweat, and rotting meat.”

The adventure Nevermore continues in Part Two–The Gathering Storm.

Appendix: The PCs

C’a’rrrar’kkk the Singer

C’a’rrrar’kkk is the greatest singer the nest has known for many years. She sings of the early days of the Great Tree and tales of fey—particularly evil and crooked fey who steal eggs. She is brave and aspires to the hero-ravens of old.

C’a’rrrar’kkk the Singer
Female awakened raven bard 2
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +6

DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
hp 15 (5d8–5)
Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +5

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +6 (1d3–4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Spells Known (CL 2nd; concentration +4)
1st (3/day)—cause fear, cure light wounds, hideous laughter, sleep
0—ghost sound, know direction, lullaby, open/close, read magic

STATISTICS
Str 2, Dex 17, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 14
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Skill Focus (Perform), Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +7, Fly +7, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (nature +5), Perception +6, Perform (sing) +10, Sense Motive +7, Stealth +11
SQ bardic knowledge, bardic performance, countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire courage +1, versatile performance, well-versed
Gear tiny berry tarts (enough for 3 spells), 6 rose petals, length of wool (enough for 5 spells), tiny brass key and minute prism on thong about neck.

R’rrr ar’kkk, Son of T’r’k

Crooked R’rrr ar’kkk has a face that slopes badly to one side. As a youngster, he was feared and bullied by other ravens, but now his prowess in magic leaves no room for bullying, only awe. He is thoughtful and rarely speaks.

R’rrr ar’kkk, Son of T’r’k
Male awakened raven sorcerer 2
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +3

DEFENSE
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 size)
hp 13 (3d8–3+2d6–2)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +5

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +1 (1d3–4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd)
6/day—touch of destiny (+1)
Spells Known (CL 2nd; concentration +4)
1st (5/day)—color spray, magic missile, shield
0—acid splash, dancing lights, mage hand, mending, ray of frost
Bloodline Destined

STATISTICS
Str 2, Dex 15, Con 9, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 11
Feats Eschew Materials, Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +6, Intimidate +8, Perception +3, Spellcraft +5, Stealth +10
Gear Gourd containing a potion of invisibility on a leather cord about his neck, a dusting of red powder in his tail feathers (enough for 4 spells).

T’rrr’aaa’rrr’k of the Great Tree

Haughty T’rrr’aaa’rrr’k worships the spirits of the Great Wood. Her first clutch of eggs was laid last year and now her young have scattered into the wood. She is a proud mother who does not suffer fools; her awakened state has given her great pride and she behaves like royalty. She enjoys taking control of situations.

T’rrr’aaa’rrr’k of the Great Tree
Female awakened raven druid 2
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +3

DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 size)
hp 17 (5d8–5)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +5

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +7 (1d3–2)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Spells Prepared (CL 2nd; concentration +5)
1st—calm animals[D], charm animal, magic fang, produce flame
0—create water, flare, purify food and drink, stabilize
Nature’s Bond—animal (D—domain spell)

STATISTICS
Str 6, Dex 16, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 17
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Dodge, Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +6, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +3, Spellcraft +4, Stealth +11, Survival +8
SQ Wild empathy, woodland stride
Gear Sprig of holy pricked into feathers.

S’kkk’aaa’rrrk the Shadow

S’kkk’aaa’rrrk is a loner and has been since she was hatched. She follows her own counsel and enjoys operating at the edges of the unkindness, selecting her own path. To her friends, she is fiercely loyal despite her taciturn nature. She broods upon things and is slower to take action than others.

S’kkk’aaa’rrrk the Shadow
Female awakened raven rogue 2
N Tiny animal
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +5

DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
hp 17 (5d8–5)
Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +2

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +7 (1d3–2)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attack flank attack (+1d6)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd)
3/day—ray of frost

STATISTICS
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 7
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Finesse
Skills Appraise +5, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Fly +8, Perception +5, Perform (oratory) +3, Sense Motive +8, Stealth +19
SQ Evasion, trapfinding
Gear Gourd containing a potion of blur on a twine about her neck.

7 Replies to "Your Whispering Homunculus – Nevermore (Part 1)"

Ben.

July 25, 2013 at 5:40am

Fantastic! Between this and Sorrow from Midgard Tales, you could get a full Fae arc going. :D

-Ben.

Nick Zakhar

July 25, 2013 at 8:03am

This is great! I’m looking forward to part 2!

-Nick

Ron Dawson

July 25, 2013 at 1:58pm

The Great Unkindness… I love what I’ve seen so far with this adventure. Really looking forward to part two!

John Bennett

July 25, 2013 at 6:12pm

Already figuring out how to work this into my Kingmaker campaign!

Charles Carrier

July 27, 2013 at 11:32am

Utterly magnificent! Mr. Pett, you are one of the foremost writers I have ever encountered.

Jackdaw

July 27, 2013 at 2:27pm

Marvellous, and a little bit mental. Splendid stuff. Thanks Mr Pett.

rich pett

July 30, 2013 at 9:01am

Huzzah!

I remember a long time ago in Imagine magazine they had a great adventure where the PCs got shrunk and went down a wizard’s sink. Awesome times, hopefully you’ll have fun with this too. Part Two soon…

Rich