A month or two ago, I ran a Shadow of the Demon Lord one-shot for some friends. I’d been jonesing to give the game a shot for a while, and it did not disappoint. The system is insanely slick and it almost perfectly recaptures the feeling of the old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I recommend that anyone who enjoyed WFRP back in the day or enjoys OSR games check it out post-haste.
This adventure turned out to be perfect for four or five starting, zero-level characters. Be sure to note down the professions each character has, so that you can provide appropriate information and embellishment. Also, be sure to be liberal with the boons and banes. They’re the meat and potatoes of the system, so don’t skimp. The adventure concludes with a handful of plot hooks to kickstart a campaign. At the end, everyone should gain their first level.
Now, without further ado…
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Beastmen in the Deep
You are riding with a trade caravan on a risky rout deep into the frozen south. Why are you with the caravan? What drove you to brave the danger and the cold? Who or what did you leave behind?
The caravan is moving through a mountain pass. The clouds sit low and the snowfall is heavy. You know that through this pass lies your destination and a not-insignificant reward. It is nearly nightfall when the jotun raiders attack. The first sign is boulders falling from the sky, thrown by frost giants on the mountainside. Then the raiders rush your caravan, their numbers far larger than your meager guard can hope to repel. The situation seems hopeless until you spot a cave entrance a short ways off. What do you do?
There are a large number of jotun (around two dozen, if anyone asks) and a pair of frost giants. They are thoroughly occupied with sacking the caravan. The cave entrance is maybe twenty yards away, but there’s plenty of cover on the way (snow drifts, errant boulders, etc.).
The cave inside is fairly small (no larger than 10 ft. wide and deep) and plain, but there a small passage that heads deeper (~4 ft. diameter, ~20° down). Once the party is assembled inside, unless they do something clever, two jotun raiders follow not long after and attack. If the group lingers, more raiders attack periodically (every few minutes or so).
[The map below is courtesy of the unparalleled Dyson Logos! Cartography is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.]
The passage opens up into the antechamber of some sort of ruins. The stonework is magnificent and well-preserved (canny observers will note that it’s dwarven in origin). There’s a single passage leading deeper into the ruins. Immediately inside the passage is a corpse. Old and desiccated, its been perforated by a dozen or so small, bladed darts. Nearby (perception challenge) there is a broken tripwire. He was a human male in his mid-twenties. He is wearing a still-serviceable suit of hard leather armor. By his right hand is a pistol (discharged) and by his left is a small wooden puzzle box (this minor wonder vibrates slightly when within 100 yards of a troll or giant). He is carrying a belt pouch containing 1 ss, 7 cp, two loads of powder and shot, a healing potion, and an incantation that bears “enhance senses” and “arcane armor”. His sword and lantern are also close at hand.
The ruins are occupied by beastmen (fomor) led by Rhoderic the Cruel, a doomsday cultist (use cultist stats, but he has Power 1 and the following spells: Harm , Arcane Armor , Magic Dart , Unerring Darts ). They are assembled here to use the portal to reach the portal to the Bone Marsh (in the Northern Reach) to attack the coastal city of Derge.
See the map for descriptions of the dungeon. Several rooms are detailed below.
Burial Chamber: The far end of this room is dominated by a large stone coffin. Resting atop it is a jeweled hammer. The coffin is adorned with the likeness of a dwarf in heavy armor and this inscription: “Disturb not the rest of Kurag Trollsbane, lest ye face his wrath.” If the hammer is removed, a Barrow Wight emerges from the coffin and attacks. It will not surrender or retreat.
- (Perception challenge) The door to this room has not been opened in quite some time – at least dozens of years.
- This is the only door in the complex that locks from the inside (i.e. it is safe to sleep with the dead).
“Abandoned” Room: The door to this room is blocked, but the bottom has been smashed away. A small character could crawl through. This room is the home of Snot Spittle, a goblin man who got lost in the tunnels years ago and ended up here. Snot will probably ambush whoever comes through first with a wooden mug, but can easily be subdued or talked down. He’ll agree to give them his life savings (~2 ss in assorted coins) if they help him escape.
Locked Chest: This chest contains a bag of coins (3 ss, 11 cp, 87 bits), a suit of brigandine armor, a ritual blade, and a gold-framed mirror in a black velvet bag. The mirror looks directly into the Void. Looking into it confers 1 insanity. If the viewer succeeds a Will challenge with 1 bane, they learn one secret. This can be a new school of magic or an immediately useful piece of information, the viewer’s choice. It only has this beneficial effect once per character.
Kitchen: The beastmen keep a slave here to cook their food – a large, four-armed clockwork named Ohm. It doesn’t want to stay, but cannot conceive of leaving. A successful Intellect challenge or a reasonably compelling argument will convince it to join the party.
The Letter: Rhoderic, I am pleased to hear that preparations are nearing completion. All is ready here, and your arrival is much anticipated. Altheon and I are confident that Derge shall be ours within the month. Be sure to keep my mirror safe. I long to look upon His face again. -Dannika