Your Whispering Homunculus—Nevermore (Part 3)
“Our tale is almost at an end, huskface.”
“But how does the tale end, master? Do the good ravens win or lose?”
“Maybe a little of both, ratkin. Maybe a little of both.”
The characters have been charged by their elder to seek out and stop something that is coming from the north—something that threatens the Eldest Tree. Here the PCs were raised, and it is a tree their parents, and their parent’s parents, spoke of as home. Will they be the last generation of ravens to do so?
In Part Two of the adventure, the PCs had a chance to learn a safer way toward their goal. If they choose to ignore this or are ignorant of the facts, they pass through the Satyr Grove. If they choose the safer way run the Weeping Wood section.
The Satyr Grove (CR 6)
The forest thins here, and it is tamer, more managed, although the trees are still vast since they have been encouraged to grow—as anyone making a Knowledge (nature) check (DC 15) is aware.
Creatures: This grove is hunted by satyrs, who greatly fear the giant nearby but have not yet tested their prowess against him. There are three in their band, and each loves the other as a brother. As the PCs fly through this area, the hunters are likely to spot them. Oppose the satyr’s Perception checks against the PCs’ Stealth (if they are moving cautiously), or give the satyrs a DC 25 check to see the PCs in the air. The satyrs, meanwhile, are hunting very cautiously, so oppose the PCs’ Perception against their Stealth. If they can, the satyrs wait until the PCs are directly above them before firing their short bows. One satyr then uses summon nature’s ally III to call up a dire bat to give chase. The other two follow the characters, firing as much as they can. Remember the PCs can fly vertically away from this encounter or combine distance and height. The satyrs can only run, of course.
The bat makes opposed Fly checks against the PC it pursues; for every point of difference in the check, it gains or looses 1 foot.
Satyr, 3 CR 4
XP 1,200 each
hp 44 each (Pathfinder Bestiary, page 241)
Dire bat CR 2
hp 22 (Pathfinder Bestiary, page 30)
Development: If the PCs escape the bat and satyr, award them a CR 4 encounter.
The Weeping Wood
The Weeping Wood laments it age. Its boughs crack and groan, its trees drown in beards of lichen and moss, and behind this is a noise—a gently lulling weeping of age. The PCs’ journey through or above the wood is without incident, save for the constant sorrowful call of the trees, many of which are rotting as they die.
The Grove of Fallen Limbs
Eventually, the PCs reach an area of felled forest. When they do, read or paraphrase the following:
“So here is the decimated heart of the forest—a vast space of felled trees of incredible age that were all left to rot in the devastation ahead. At the heart of this clearing, which is almost a mile wide, is a rickety thatched cottage of great size.”
Creature: The Verderer is out every day to fell trees. Sometimes he fells several from his dawn to dusk work, and sometimes it takes him all day to fell a single great tree. He doesn’t care. He simply toils at his work. The Verderer, a hill giant, is easily seen and heard across the clearing. Once a guardian of the forest and a simple hunter, he has been driven mad by the calls of the Moonlit King, whose song echoes from a barrow, which lies 100 feet from the cottage detailed below. The giant has specialized in great axe.
Giant, Hill CR 7
hp 45 (Pathfinder Bestiary, page 150)
Melee great axe +14/+9 (3d6+10/x3)
Development: If he spots something suspicious, he grabs a hefty bough, breaks it from a tree, and hurls it as a rock. He thus throws such missiles only once every other round. As he works, the giant sings a song of the Moonlit King—he speaks the words clumsily, as though struggling to find the right way to say them. The song is in Common, but an Intelligence check (DC 12) is required to understand it and its meaning. The song is a lament to the Moonlit King and the Shadow Fey, and it lasts a full minute. The last line in particular stands out: “…from his hollow barrow the song of the Moonlit King maddens me.” The giant is otherwise a brute combatant—remember it is large in size and can leap quite high (even though it makes such checks at –1). He leaps 1 foot for every 4 he checks, so add his 10-foot reach, and he can theoretically leap up and attack a bird 24 ft. above him. (He’s 10-ft. high, has a 10-ft. reach, and can leap 4 ft. on a check of 16+).
The Verderer’s Barrow and Cottage
The cottage has a heavy thatched roof with a chimney. The windows and door are shuttered by the giant at night since he’s a heavy sleeper and doesn’t want to be disturbed. Each night, the giant lights a fire to keep the chill winds at bay.
Within, the house is plain and roughly a 20-ft. cube, with a bed, a table, and chairs made from a ship, and the big fireplace. On the table is the giant’s huge silver drinking horn worth 500 gp, as well as a dozen barrels of beer.
The barrow lies 100 ft. north of the cottage and is on a low hill of felled trees perhaps a hundred yards across. At its south side is an opening with a dolmen leaning above. Characters making a Perception check (DC 20) perceive a distant lamenting song; the song of the Moonlit King. Characters coming within 30 ft. of the opening and hearing the song must make a Will save (DC 14) or be struck as though by a confusion spell for as long as they remain within 30 ft. of the opening. If the saving throw made is a natural 1, the effects are permanent unless a dispel magic spell is cast on the victim.
The opening leads to a 120-ft. deep shaft, which has steep walls (DC 20 Climb). The dolmen rests upright adjacent to the opening. If pressed strongly enough (say, by a mage hand spell), the dolmen falls back into place over the opening, requiring a Strength check (DC 25) to move again. Characters trying to lift the stone from below must make a Climb check each time they try a Strength check.
The characters can lure the giant into the well in several ways: using the dryad’s glitterdust shawl and combining that with an Intimidate or Bluff check (DC 10) to get him to follow them. They could also use other spells to make the well seem covered through magic, or use other methods, although pushing the 1,200 pound giant is unlikely.
The PCs could also use the giant’s heavy sleep and the fire to suffocate him. To drag enough twigs and branches without the aid of magic requires three PCs to succeed on a Dex check (DC 15). They get one check a night, and, if the giant sees the twigs, the day after (on a DC 20 Perception check), he tears the twigs down.
Closing up the well in itself does not stop the giant. He failed his check initially and is now permanently mad, his confusion manifesting itself in his attacks upon the forest.
There are bound to be other, more imaginative solutions; remember that the giant is fat and clumsy and stupid, the PCs are small and agile and smart—this makes alternative plans quite feasible.
Concluding the Adventure
If the PCs stop the giant permanently, award them his CR, they have effectively ended this adventure and can return home as even greater heroes than when they left. The unkindness is safe, for now.
If the PCs fail, the giant continues to fell tress until a month after the PCs started the adventure, which is when he takes down the Eldest Tree.
Continuing This Adventure
For the ravens, the adventure is over, but for the Moonlit King it is just beginning. Perhaps the well is uncovered, and the ravens are called upon again. Maybe the Moonlit King sends some twisted fey to the PCs’ forest as punishment, or to try to capture the ravens that bested a giant. Such adventures are yours to design if you wish. You might also like to have this adventure lead the player’s main characters into a connected adventure, or you could use other adventures from Open Design. Maybe the PCs get to meet the ravens in another adventure, as they come to warn humans about the crooked songs of the Moonlit King.