Saturday, May 10, 2014

Basic Fantasy RPG: Dragonlance - Below Vulture Point

Below Vulture Point
by Jeff Fairbourne
First featured in Dungeon Magazine, Issue #39, Jan/Feb 1992

Characters:

  • Craig as Lenny the Human Magic-User
  • Dylan as Frodoganji the Human Fighter
  • Melinda as Tris the Elf Fighter/Magic-User
  • Brian as Ralf Redarm the Dwarf Fighter
  • Carrie as Nicole Slawbottom the Kender Thief
  • Frank as Merric the Human Cleric

Game Master's Note:  

Dungeon Magazine holds a special place in my heart, especially the issues that were released in the early 1990's.  I first started playing D&D in 1991 and it only took a few months before I picked up the necessary books to run my own games.  Although I started with a used Red Box and Blue Box for Basic D&D, I soon found myself at Toys R Us and my Mom bought me an AD&D 2nd Ed. Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide.  At first I didn't have a Monstrous Compendium, but I did have a few Dungeon Magazines in my possession, used of course, that had stats for monsters.  Over the years I collected quite a few Dungeon Magazines, and even had a brief subscription for a time.  I loved the adventures that I found every two months, and one of my favorites for entry level characters was Below Vulture Point by Jeff Fairbourne.  Here I've taken that awesome quest and plopped it down in my favorite D&D generic setting, Dragonlance for a one-shot romp with four friends and two of our children!

Adventure Summary:

The road from Haven to New Ports is perilous and fraught with danger.  Bandits, robbers, and monstrous humanoids plague the route that directly connects Haven to the New Sea, and in recent months the salt fish trade has completely stopped.  But while these threats are the bane of merchants, for adventurers this simply means more opportunity!  Seeing a posting at a local tavern in Haven, the elven mercenary-for-hire Tris and her expert team of five cutthroat adventurers gathered together and prepared themselves.  This particular posting spoke of the mysteries of Vulture Point, a monolithic tower shaped by time, wind, and weather giving it the appearance of a great bird's head.  Rumor had it that the great bird head, hundreds of feet high, was the source of all evil plaguing the road from Haven to New Ports.  Evil giant bird head?  Perfect quest for a group of newbie adventurers!

Tris looked into the eyes of her team, pounded her fist on the table and exclaimed: "Dudes, whole bunch of cash if you come with me!"  That's all it took to motivate her squad of death-dealers, and so the party set off fort for New Ports, hoping to be assaulted by whatever infested the road, and bring glory to their names.

The first part of the party's trek was a lesson in how not to make your way across Abanasinia.  Only a few miles outside of Haven the six adventurers came across a poor beggar on the side of the road.  Asking for anything that the characters could spare Merric, a cleric of Paladine, approached the poor man and handed him a silver.  Overjoyed the beggar threw himself on the cleric, thanking him profusely.  About a half an hour away from the scene Merric reached his hand down and realized that the street-rat must've robbed him, as there were ten gold pieces missing from his belt pouch.  Served him right for doing something good and just!  As the party neared a point where the light forest opened up to a coastal ridge of hills, another day down the trail, Tris felt a cold feeling run down her spine.  Taking a look around, Tris lead Lenny and Frodoganji to the left of the path while Ralf Redarm and Nicole Slawbottom moved to the right.  Merric stayed in the center of the road solemnly in prayer.  Ralf and Nicole made first contact with the kobolds that were preparing to ambush the party.  Ralf was able to block the initial attack, and backed up by Nicole's sharp aim with a hoopak, the pair was able to dispatch their humanoids with ease.  Tris, Frodoganji, and Lenny had a bit of a more difficult time.  While Frodoganji's arrow took down one of their attackers, the last remaining kobold ran deeper into the woods causing Tris to make chase.  But only a few hundred yards down the path the elven fighter/magic-user fell into one of the kobold traps, a pair of poison sacks that clacked together causing a horrific cloud of throat-choking agony.  Tris collapsed in a heap and was just barely brought back to the world by one of Merric's potions.

The pain would continue when the party found themselves in the rolling hills just outside of the giant monolith.  Vulture Point was a massive rock formation that jutted out of the ground nearly nearly two-hundred feet.  Aside from the fact that Vulture Point resembled the beak and head of it's namesake creature, dozens of the carrion birds made their home in the mouth of the monstrous form.  Trying to figure out a way to approach, Frodogenji picked up one of the kobold bodies collected during their last encounter, and held it out in front of his own body.  The human fighter hoped that the body would mask his appearance, but given his lack of math skills, didn't realize that the three foot tall kobold couldn't cover his six foot frame.  So ten vultures descended upon both the dead kobold and Frodogenji as well, nearly killing the poor fighter.  Lenny was able to use a Flare spell to scare most of the creatures off, while Tris' arrows did the rest of the work.  Merric shook his head as he had to heal yet another member of the team.

Ascending the head of the monolithic rock formation was relatively easy until the halfway point where Nicole came across a tripwire.  Another danged kobold trap!  Although she tried disarming the device, she was unsuccessful, and so she just hopped over the string with ease.  Lenny wasn't so nimble.  The human wizard tripped the wire causing a rock slide to cover his body.  Knocked out, Lenny had to wait for the party cleric Merric to bring him back to the world.  The rest of the trek up to the mouth of Vulture Point was rather simple, but at the top of the walk, right in the mouth were flocks of vultures, all looking for a meal.  Nicole tried sneaking into the area with a torch and tinderbox to burn the birds out but was nowhere near sneaky enough to get through undetected.  While the bird started to peck at the kender's arms and legs Lenny managed to cast a sleep spell on the rest of the vultures, putting them all to sleep.

There were two paths ahead, both leading into the caves below.  The party chose the tunnel that led directly to the lair of the kobolds, who were commanded by a diminutive, yet deadly urd!  As soon as the party entered the lair, ten kobolds attacked with daggers, while the urd threw a burning stone bomb right at Lenny, knocking the magic-user out of combat for the rest of the encounter.  Earlier in the quest, Ralf found a potion of cold dragon's breath on one of the kobolds, and used it to freeze half of the kobolds in their tracks.  The urd summoned a giant vulture to appear directly behind Merric, forcing the otherwise pacifistic priest to pull his mace and shield and start defending himself.  While Tris and Frodoganji fired arrows at the remaining kobolds, and even managed to knock a couple out, both would fall to the brutal attacks of the little dog-headed humanoids.  Merric was able to tackle his vulture problem with relative ease, turned his mace on the rest of the kobold crew.  Once the urd was defeated it wasn't long before the other kobolds fell.  Tris, Lenny, and Frodoganji all needed significant healing… a cleric's work is never done!  After getting the party back to a somewhat healthy condition, Merric gave Frodoganji the okay to go back to work, and the human fighter went about working with Ralf to grab as much loot as possible.