Ruins at Gelch Pond (Incursion to Torrelsons Ford)

Open Details About the Scenario

As if the threat of constant warfare was not enough, townsfolk are now going missing. Not even those important to the war effort – just ordinary folk. Everyone is scared to walk anywhere alone, and the town is nearly empty at night. With all its resources going to the war effort, can you help the local magistrate find out what happened before the rumors spread and someone gets hurt!?

TYPE: Designed as an Incarna™ ASIDE scenario set in Crestwold Barony of Dunstrand (set in the larger Dunstrand Duchy of the Steel Realms) of the [Fantasy] Steel Realms Setting, and integrated into the Living World story within Dunstrand Rising Living World

Rule Set: This adventure is compatible with the ©D20 System under ©DnD 5th Edition™. Additionally, it has mechanics and content which use the Essential D20 System Modifications/Variant for Incarna.

Challenge: Designed as a Solo scenario for a 3rd – 4th level character. One or two minor NPCs (as town members) may accompany the character.

ADVENTURE PRINCIPAL Do not let strict campaign or challenge level dictate your use of adventures. Story and play should be able to be modified to support most measures of Player Character capability. A good Game Master can generally use a system & tools to support them in telling a story with whatever characters and circumstances the Players have.

GM Details About the Scenario

Source: An Incarna original adventure by Kelly Berger + Adapted from ©AAW Adventure-A-Week – Abandoned Shrine

Combat / Story:

Specific Challenges: A few traps, ambush, creatures (leader: rogue 4th/half-ork; pirates, half-ork thugs with heavy weapons, skeletons), magic (fear, glyphs), hallowed ground (evil)

Physical:
> Suggested Skills/Traits:
Mental:
> Suggested Skills/Traits: Intelligence ( Religion | History)

Horror/Sanity Checks: Few; If the GM feels like the horrors presented have already been seen or an equivalent experience, they may adjust or ignore the checks.

Social:
> Suggested Skills/Traits: Charisma ( Intimidate)
Divine: The fallen temple is having an effect on the creatures of darkness and evil which have come there – it will work directly against the PC(s). The status of Rite of Dedication (Dedicated Follower) would aid the PCs.
Kinetic:
Occult:
Psychic:

Using the Scenario Materials

FULL ATTRIBUTION

Idea: Kelly Berger 2020
Writing: Kelly Berger 2020
Design: Kelly Berger 2020
Published: December 20th, 2020 (via Incarna website)
Edits:
Testing: Arabus Grenier
(Testers and Test Resources)

CREATIVE RIGHTS

Incursion at Torrelsons Ford by Kelly Berger is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Using the Scenario Content

Familiarize

Read through the entire adventure and familiarize yourself with the entire scenario and encounter set. If its too much to track, break the game session and milestones into what you can manage - generally it is better to end early with a good experience than fumble through a poor one. Materials are presented here in groupings of the most likely order the players will experience them in. If they go off-script, you must be ready to adjust and improvise.

Maximize Online Materials

The optimal experience for using these materials is as online content. This material contains links to material outside the text - familiarize yourself with this content as well. Follow the links, and print out or have loaded on a device ahead of time all materials needed to effectively run this adventure. Print friendly PDF or ePub versions also maintain the links in most cases.

  • All linked materials were publicly available at the time of original publication.
  • Linked materials usually contain more information about creatures and places, though some are to assist the Game Master's running of the adventure.
  • The stats for creatures are not presented. It is assumed GMs have access to system source books or materials for them. Where possible, creatures are linked to online resources.

Prompts and Formatting

This adventure contains text that is formatted in a certain way to enable easy narration and play. Familiarize yourself with these to make the pace of the adventure and flow of each encounter is smooth.
This is primary text for you to read aloud to the Players - it is what their characters will perceive upon interacting with the encounter.
This is supplemental text that can be read aloud after the related primary text.
This is a dialogue option you can read aloud.
This is information which can be gained with a noted skill/knowledge [check].
[GM]> This is a note to the GM for options and preparation ahead of time.
Online Reference: This is a Character or Creature in an encounter (# appearing if more than 1)

Tactics to be used by the creature appearing above.

party# This is the number of characters in the players party; you will find suggestions on scaling the number of creatures in an encounter based on this.
NARRATION > This is a tip on how to read to or interact with the Players.

SPOILER
Do not read beyond this point if you intend to participate in this scenario as a PLAYER!

Background Information

Hendrahk, a half ork scout raised in the north and is part of a half ork band recruited by Gwinn. He is sent into the area near Torrelsons Ford to spy and create fear. He dragged a sled across the mud for days, searching for a suitable base of operations. He stumbles on an old ruin a half mile out of town, along the western approach. He could swear he heard Orrish voices, and was drawn to it. While exploring it and following the voices, he falls through the floor, uncovering another set of ruins. After a cursory examination, he realizes that the older, buried ruins are a sacked temple of darkness from the wars around the time of the Moorswood Blight. The next day, he feels more powerful, as if the fallen temple is enhancing his essence somehow. Using the only gull messenger he has, he sends word to his superiors. A strike force of the rest of his band and Brotherhood of the Black Tear (to pilot a sloop) are quickly sent to support the effort to leverage the find and spread terror. His original mission was 2 months, and working solo… now, Gwinn wishes the temple to be explored and the terror increased over the next 6 months.

Who: Forces of Imperial Gwinn at war with the Duchy of Dunstrand
What: Townsfolk are being taken for sacrifice and food
Where: Ruins a half mile west of Torrelsons Ford in the Barony of Crestwold
When: CY 9170
Prerequisites: [War has gripped the area, sapping its resources.]

Extra Resources for the PC

Soloing an adventure is difficult. Allow a solo PC to make appropriate attempts to recruit a shield man, or use the magistrate or other connection to find a one of the town or harbor master’s militia to assist the character.

Using Connexion > If the character is a follower of a faith, and truly dedicated, allow them to use their Conviction and Religion skill to gain insights or to call on minor forces to oppose the power of the gods of darkness. As a last resort, the area is prone to slight collapses from the shifting water table and these could cause a cave-in to block pursuers, stones to fall on enemies or trip them, etc. It could even bury the PC allowing them to be rescued later.

What the Characters Know

What might the characters know about the background, if anything?

DC 15 Intelligence (History [of Dunstrand])
DC 12 intelligence (Religion using Connexion)


You seek out a quiet place to say your prayers and seek divine solace. You are granted a vision of black clouds over the town, a worried looking magistrate, and a vague sense of unease. >> Evil forces are at work, perhaps one of the dark gods may oppose your efforts! Call upon your connection to your deity to strengthen your resolve against such things.

Timeline of Scenario Events

  • 20 days ago – Hendor sent to prey upon stragglers in a operation to cause terror
  • 16 days ago – discovers old temple of darkness by falling through its roof

    > Send word to superiors
  • 10 days ago; Victim 1 – Keith the baker attacked and taken
  • 8 days ago; Victim 2 – Corwin the cooper attacked and taken
  • 3 days ago; backup arrives from Gwinnish forces to scout out fallen temple
  • 2 days ago; Victim 3,4 – Edna and Michael (brother and sister); they went to take an offering to Millers Pond and were not seen again (guards at the pond thought they were lovers seeking a tryst)

Setup/Introduction

The magistrate of Torrelsons Ford has put out a word that they are looking to hire people to investigate what might have happened to a couple townsfolk who disappeared and so you seek them out for more information. The magistrate says that in fact, over the last 10 days, 4 people have gone missing. It was originally thought that it was due to an accident with the first two, but now that 4 have gone missing, it seems obvious that it is purposeful. The local authorities are tapped out with the war going on – it’s been a constant state of barely being able to keep bailiffs and barristers because the money is tight. But, he stakes his reputation he will go to the baron himself if he has to.
What say you!?
The magistrate tells you what he knows… Ten days ago Keith the bakers assistant vanished on his way home. It was originally thought he fell in the river after a bout of drinking and drowned. Then a couple days later Corwin, a local cooper, vanished. The magistrate found a place that looks like he was attacked and saw drag marks going south. He searched for Keith and found his ambush spot – same telltale signs of dragging the body then the tracks obscured. The last two to vanish were only teenagers. From his investigation, he knows they were taking an offering out to the old Gelch Pond (also called Millers Pond) to the west . It’s an old ruin a half mile away over overgrown and muddy difficult terrain – and just on the tip of an arm of the Pranin Moorswood that stretches toward Torrelsons Ford. It was once an old sacred site, so the rumors go, but there’s almost nothing left, and a few people have broken bones climbing on its crumbling walls so it’s well avoided. Folk are weary of war though… and so the practice of dropping offerings in the pond has returned since the local church of the Lightbringers and Briarwood have been attacked or vandalized. This practice seems to have cost two more lives – but at least its provided a clue where to search. The magistrate wants you to set off at first light.

Preparing for the Journey to the Pond

Any mundane equipment other than weapons and armor can be supplied.

Assistance

Hire Spearman: The magistrate will deputize a local or harbor militia to assist for 5sp per day.
Human, Male, Weapons: Dagger, staff; Armor: leather + Dex = AC 13; HP = 8

Bella: She will be able to provide a Potion of Nourishment or two – perfected by now. she will have a moss poultice that she wants the party to try: DC 12 Constitution check and stops bleeding automatically, heals d4+2 in 8 hours or burns for 1 Level of Exhaustion; expires in 5 days.

Historian/Sage: History of [the] Millers Pond: 5sp / 25sp for a map of the area; halves travel time.
Originally founded on a clean local spring, there was a shrine to Gaia named Gelch Pond. Then the striking point of the Orrish was built nearby, and when that was sacked when the Orrish retreated, a temple was built to Gaia on the site, with a mill wheel and the community was allowed to ground their own grain without cost. Over the years, a strange overgrowth happened. The trees and vegetation were stunted, and they grew through and destroyed the temple to Gaia and mill. Folk stop taking offerings and the Briarwood next to Torrelsons Ford became the place for that.

Leaving Torrelsons Ford

There is a random chance either the Agent among the Troglodytes or a local thug/criminal might see the group leave and shadow them. If the group is avoiding notice, use Stealth vs. Perception.

This is up to the Game Master what repercussions it may have.

Getting to Gelch Pond

Travel is 2 hours away during the day, mostly off and on an old path that ran from town. At night, it may take 5 to 6 hours as the path is overgrown, impossible to see in the dark at points, and covered in debris and crossed with creepers and roots.

Encounters at Gelch Pond

Arrival at Gelch Pond

The last couple hundred meters have been covered with vegetation that is slightly putrid – as if the ground and was soaked and the plants all rotted. The closer you get, the more sodden the ground becomes. Your feet squish in the mud, and the roots grow unevenly everywhere. Carefully, you have made your way forward. You stand before an old ruin. There is little left of the walls or buildings, but the massive flagstones of the 120’ x 80’ floor are still visible despite being covered in debris and overgrowth. It is surrounded by the typical stunted trees and ground cover for the area – though it seems more abundant here. East of the temple grounds is a raised building ruins connected to a broken pool, and a slide area that has formed a natural pond – Millers Pond. The sound of stream water is barely audible, and the foundation of the old mill channels the small stream into the stone basin and down into the pond. The typical sounds of insects and birds cover the area – nothing seems to be amiss.

Reconnoiter the Area Around it

Stealth DC 12 or insects/birds go quiet.

The Mill Ruins

The Pond Area

The Spring

There is nothing really sacred about the spring itself, other than its a source of refreshing, pure water. At one point, the flow and head was greater, but some of the collapsing in the old underground Darkhollow has weakened it, drawing away some of the water table. The area around the mill, other than the approach from the old temple floor area is saturated. On a 1 on d6 the ground will grab the character; this is only useful for ambush or removing boots.

The Pond

Connexion with Green Church/Wyld Faith > A crisp, clear scent of water and clean vegetation fills your senses. The overwhelming sense of a healthy, verdant and lush environment fills your senses and mind with peace and sublime tranquility. You breathe deeply in, and feel your body suffused with a natural resistance to toxins.

> Poison and Disease Resistance for 48 hours. This can only be granted once per character.

The Temple Grounds

Arriving at XYZ, you do 123 and go see ABC.

Some notes about the place and people in it.

Tomb of Arak’ar

Light Sources: The Darklight candle sconces in the hallways are sacred to Everdark (taken from the offering room), and will not be doused by the darkness effects in the ruins. There are dozens in store of temple items. Non Darklight sources of light last only 1 minute if the source or origin [caster] moves 30′ away.

If Trinity Rune is Desecrated

If the unholy Trinity Rune from area 6 is desecrated/ruined, a slow process of time catching up will begin,

  • Long Rest/Week 1: The wooden and cloth accouterments begin to fade and rot. The paint on the walls fades.
  • Long Rest/Week 2: All the passages are difficult terrain do to ceiling and wall debris falling into them. Easily cleared as the ruins are moved through.
  • Long Rest/Week 3: All the passages are difficult terrain do to ceiling and wall debris falling into them. It is constant and cannot be cleared for more than a couple rounds. A 1 on a d6 may trigger a d6 collapse each time they move through a corridor or room.
  • Long Rest/Week 4: All the passages are difficult terrain do to ceiling and wall debris falling into them. It cannot be cleared. A 1 on a d6 may trigger a 2d6 collapse each time they move through a corridor or room.

The

Encounters in the Gelch Darkhollow

Encounters in the Decanter Caverns

[1] Foyer

[2] Servants (Barracks now)

[3] Receiving (Kitchen now)

[4] Shadow Creche

[5] Temple Supplies (Leader Quarters now)

[6] Temple

Doorway to the Catacombs of Honor

The entrance is hidden behind a false façade of the offering room. It is protected by a Glyph of Warding (DC 14 Constitution save or 4d6/14 Necrotic damage in a 10′ radius. The glyph renews each time the sun goes down.

The short hallway ends in a portcullis (DC 15 Strength), with the words “The cold comfort of death holds those honored by Arak’ar beyond this place” written above it in Orrish. The other side of the portcullis is flanked by a stone statue of an Ork holding a maul above their heads on each side as it opens into a large vaulted chamber beyond.

Portcullis

DC 16 Religion check to know the words honoring the dead of the unholy trio; otherwise each statue is a trap and pivots and swings at the character coming through (the words will work for 3 rounds to counter the sound trap) doing 2d6/7 and 2d6/7 unless the character makes a DC 11 Dexterity save, and a DC 15 Dexterity save for the second. After the first target, the others will know its coming and gain Advantage on all saves.

[7] Catacombs of Honor

LIGHT: Puts out light sources: douses all non-magical.

Proclamation: Phantasm – Orrish priest of Everdark rears up in a purple mist; wail in the dark for d4/2 psychic in 20’ cone 10’ wide and fear save (DC 10 Sanity) or afraid – save each round until gone. “You bring dishonor to the stillness of the dark! The weary dead will rest no more until their honor is restored!” You hear the grating of stone and strange whispers. The whisper turns to a war chant through dead, raspy throats as skeletal ranks form before you to block your passage.

[8] Hall of Red Honor

It begins as a small beat, but with each fall of your foot it grows. You stop briefly, but the pounding gets louder. the sound of a war drum, beating a march fills your ears. You are disoriented… you see in your mind’s eye a massive drum set, stretched with the skin of men and others, a bloody femur pounding on it, held by a dark skinned evil Ork – naked but for an obsidian dagger and a harness of “leather”. The smell, a hundred Orks, a thousand goblins. In their forefront is an Ork, slightly smaller than average, howling as he raises a bloodied axe in his hand, illuminated in the light of a full moon. The howls of the tortured nearly drown it out, hauled on mantlets before the horde. You can smell the blood in the air.

In the dark, your vision gets tinged with a strange red film. Looking down the hall, on both sides, there are depictions of violent, bloody fights with an Ork and human and elven foes. Each battle scene glistens with what appears to be real blood.

[9] Black Resting Place of Arak’ar

The altar is covered in black, dried fluid (blood). The massive sarcophagus is the base for the altar. A brazier with a purple faintly growing rune is built into the lid. The entire thing is raised several inches off the floor at both ends, allowing for the black chains to wrap around it.

Fresh blood will light the brazier: A drop lasts a minute. The chains rattle slightly as the room fills with vile violet-purplish light.

Notable Characters & Creatures

Hendrahken

[!> This is a variant of a D20 Monster with custom powers and stats as noted.]

Gang Leader; half orc, 6’6″/200 lbs.; Speak + Literate; Orrish, Gladnorian
Rogue 4; HP 38; Dex 15/AC 14; Stealth, Perception, Athletics / Sneak Attack (+3 d6)
2 scimitars + Dual Wielder Feat

+]> MOTIVATIONS > Unlocking the secrets of the temple for himself, and absconding with the loot.
-]> AVERSIONS >
!> STATS:
!> IMAGES: [[Link to image or google search for a related image.]]

TACTICS:

!> Harder to Kill / More Lethal >
!> Easier to Kill / Less Lethal >

>b>History:

Outcomes

Success

Conditions for success.

]> REWARD >

Failure

Conditions for failure.

]> REWARD >

Followup


References

New Materials Created

  1. Brotherhood of the Black Tear
  2. Ruins of Gelch Pond/Millers Pond

Additional Scenario Matl.