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The Treacle Mines of Pendle

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Salve Sodales. Welcome to the first part of the chronicles of Martin Mere. This is a quick adventure using the Ars Magica fifth edition rulebook and should take between two to three hours to run depending on how much fun the characters get upto in the witches cottage. If you’re not running this as a standalone or as part of a Martin Mere chronicle I suggest that you either skip encounters one and two or make Esme and Fixen NPC’s. Encounter one is strictly flavour (for now, dum dum DUUUM!!!) but players may take a long time mucking about. I know one group I ran this adventure with certainly did!

Background:

Treacle mining is an ancient practice around Sabden, whereby the brave men of the village squeeze into the tunnels surrounding the village, naked, mine and collect the black chunks of slag treacle to be processed by the women of the village into a viscous liquid that is used in the baking of cakes and other sweets. 

Often found on the top layer of the treacle seams is a viscous dark brown liquid which is tapped and collected as well. It is fermented and produces a heavily spiced piquant beverage which tastes of ginger.

Finding the treacle can be difficult, it certainly isn’t as easy as squeezing down into any old tunnel. The miners long ago realised that the quickest way to find treacle was to follow the Treacle Eating Boggart’s as they never stray too far from the richest seams of treacle. However this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often heard a boggart is seldom seen and only those with the sharpest of eyes can glance a boggart emerging from its hole at dusk.

Recently the covenant of Martin Mere has been losing their vis sources to the rival covenant at York. The Tytalan mages of York have been challenging the Lancastrian magi to certman over disputed sources of vis. As Martin Mere is a Tremere covenant they really can’t refuse the certman which are being witnessed by the Quaesitor of the Tremere covenant itself. With vis suddenly in such a tight supply they really can’t afford to lose access to the treacle mines.

Setup

The Maga and her Apprentice have gone to collect the vis found within the treacle mines of Sabden. They are joined by two Grogs a young man called Jaysen and a grizzled Treacle miner William of Wiswell. 

Encounter: 1 The standing stone

Half a day’s travel from Sabden the players encounter a megalith twice as tall as a man. On it is a strange runic script which the players can investigate if they wish. There is still a lingering trace amount of magic within it but unless they possess the appropriate language skill the writing is indecipherable. It is a runic dedication to the long dead viking Warlord Jarl, listing his deeds and conquests. Whether the players linger or not at the stone a fierce storm blows up forcing the players to find cover at a nearby cottage.

Encounter: 2

Most of this should be roleplay interaction between the players as this is the cottage of the witch Esme and her familiar (read magical animal companion) Gwynn Fixen. Whilst Esme is suspicious of  Nika because some of her coven have recently been kidnapped by Magi, she’ll volunteer to go with Nika’s party after some coaching by Fixen.

Note: Fixen is a magical creature and not a person turned into a fox, she is not cursed and her visions are of other people’s lives. She can only transform into a human only when she is alone or with a sexually compatible character after dusk and will transform back at dawn. 

Sabden village info and random encounters:

This small village is nestled in the flattish area just south of Pendle hill itself. Whilst in a relatively flat area itself it is still some 150m above sea level with the village sloping upwards towards the hill. The village consists of a church, a public house and a couple dozen cottages. As the players enter the village they are passed by a couple of armed men in padded jackets carrying billhooks and leading a mule drawn cart. There are three barrels on top of the cart and a sweet gingery smell emanates from it.  As they enter the village proper there is a loud crash from one of the cottages and a scream followed by a loud trumpeting.

If the PC’s investigate they find a hysterical middle age lady called Ammij and a sticky golden mess of pottery. She complains loudly that the damn boggarts have been at the honey again. She also refers to them as foul murderous fiends.

Info to be found in village:

Little Guimond has gone missing, his mother (Edoline) put him to bed last night and this morning he’s gone. The boggarts have stolen him is the general consensus around the village.

Odo the local lord came by a few weeks ago and stopped by the public house. There he was served some of the local brew. Since then he has confiscated all of it (at least what he could find) and is demanding on pain of death that more be produced and produced soon, he is also taking a much larger tithe of treacle than is custom. The villagers are worried that without the income from the treacle they won’t be able afford food for the winter.

The treacle mines are closed; Young Willmot (who’s actually very decrepit) was found at the edge of the mine yesterday delirious and feverish. He’s now fallen into a coma, his body is bruised and his right shoulder is green and rotting. The villagers blame the Boggarts saying that the little bastards are attacking good christian folk and Odo won’t do anything about it.

Chirugry: Ease factor 9: his wounds are consistent with being crushed 

Chirugy/Medicine: Ease factor 12 There is a pair of puncture marks on his shoulder

Medicine: 12 He has been poisoned

Medicine: 15 He has also breathed in some noxious fume.

The Uneasy men: This information can be gleaned from a successful Folk Ken roll ease factor 9. The men of the village are a little on edge around the women. If pushed on this with a successful charm roll they’ll reveal that over the last few months there have been a number of encounters with a young red haired woman in the late evening or early morning. She is charming and initiates sexual relations. No one has seen her twice and she certainly isn’t local to the area. If the women are asked about the mens uneasiness they’ll mutter something about a succubus and change the conversation. 

The boggarts are restless: the Boggarts have always been curious creatures and would steal shiny objects or sweet treats. But over the last month they have been a plague, things are constantly going missing and trumpeting can be heard in the village itself night and day. The boggarts are rarely seen normally but they seem always to be around. Also they are not leading the miners to the normal holes in the ground, rather to hollow trees, rabbit warrens and badger sets. It’s like they have decided to leave their caves for some bizarre reason. 

Treacle Eating Boggart

Characteristics: Cun 0, Per +1, Pre -2, Com +3, Str -8, Sta 0, Dex +2, Qik +5

Appearance: A small round bodied creature with a large head. Covered all over in thick brown fur, it has the Ears of a fox, the eyes and beak of an owl. 

Size: -4

Age: 3 (3), Gender: –

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 0 (0)

Confidence: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Might 5 (Terram) [Form: Terram], Magic Animal, Second Sight, Sharp Ears (Hearing: +3), Inoffensive to Animals, Size: -4, Magical Air, Nocturnal (All Rolls: -1 between dawn and midday)

Qualities and Inferiorities: Camouflage (Bonus: +3 to hide without moving), Good Jumper (Bonus: +3 when jumping), Slippery (Bonus: +6 defending Grapple attacks), Lesser Power × 1: 25/25, Timid, Improved Defense × 3 (Dodge: +6)

Personality Traits: Boisterous +1, Inquisitive +2, Timid +3, Loud* (Com) +2

Combat: 

Dodge: Init: +5, Attack –, Defense +16, Damage —

Beak: Init: +5, Attack +6, Defense +9, Damage -8

Soak: 0

Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: -1 (1), -3 (2), -5 (3), Incapacitated (4), Dead (5+)

Abilities: Second Sight 3, Brawl 4 (Dodge), Athletics 3 (jumping), Area Lore: Treacle Mines 2 (geography), Stealth 4 (hiding), Awareness 4 (predators)

Equipment: 

Encumbrance: 0 (0)

Powers:

Wizard’s Sidestep (Lesser: 20), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-4, Form: Imaginem, Range: Per, +0, Duration: Always On, +2, Target: Ind, +0, Level: ReIm10, Design: 10 levels, Base 2, +2 Always On, +1 changing image, +1 moved image matches changes, -2 Might cost

Unseen Arm (Lesser: 5), Points: 1, Initiative: Qik-2, Form: Terram, Range: Voice, +2, Duration: Conc, +1, Target: Ind, +0, Level: ReTe5, Design: 5 levels, Base 2, +2 Voice, +1 Conc

They have no legs with tiny feet that stick out from their body like a penguin. They hop around in long leaps like a rabbit. They are curious creatures known for getting into everything and anything and make quite the pest of themselves stealing small shiny objects and eating anything sweet that they might find. However they avoid human contact  hiding whenever a person gets near. If cornered they will run leap away only attacking if cornered. They are also distinguished by their loud trumpeting which during the Autumn can be heard from miles around during the night.

Encounter 3: The Treacle Mines

Hopefully the players have persuaded one of the villagers to escort them to the mine or have asked to see where Wilmot was found. The mines themselves are a series of caves that lead into a large cavern. 

On a successful awareness test (12) the players will notice that there is a small tunnel through a treacle vein leading off from the cavern. If explored (only Fixen and Esme are small enough to fit through the tunnel and even then she needs a successful (15 + size) athletics roll with a failure indicating she gets trapped by treacle in the entrance and a botch indicating she gets stuck somewhere it’ll be difficult for the players to get her out) it leads to another cavern in which there are several increasingly large snake skins piles of droppings and the bloody ragged clothes of a child.

Also in the cavern are three golden pieces of treacle (the vis) for the players to collect. However on the way out they will be ambushed by Skouliki.

Skoulíki

Magic Might: 15 (Animal)

Characteristics: Cun 0, Per +2, Pre -2, Com -3, Str +2, Sta +2, Dex +1, Qik +3

Appearance: A large black snake 12 feet long and as thick as a man’s calf.

Size: 0

Season: Spring

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 0 (0)

Confidence: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Magic Animal, Lightning Reflexes (Initiative on Surprise Attack: +9), Piercing Gaze (Intimidation: +3), Ferocity, Greater Immunity (Poison), Puissant Hunt, Magical Air, Blatant Magical Air (Social Actions: -6), Nocturnal (All Rolls: -1 between dawn and midday)

Qualities and Inferiorities: Greater Power × 2: 95/100, Improved Soak × 3 (Soak: +6), Venomous, Ambush Predator (Bonus: Automatic Initiative, +3 Attack 1st round), Loathsome Appearance (Presence: -6 normally, +3 when trying to intimidate), Improved Attack × 3 (Fangs: +6), Improved Damage × 3 (Fangs: +9), Thick Scales

Personality Traits: Lethargic +2, Territorial +2, Cruel +1, Lightning Quick* (Qik) +3

Combat: 

Fangs: Init: +3, Attack +16, Defense +10, Damage +12

Dodge: Init: +3, Attack –, Defense +8, Damage —

Soak: +9

Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), Dead (21+)

Abilities: Brawl 5 (Fangs), Survival 2 (winter), Stealth 5 (stalking prey), Area Lore: Treacle Mines 1 (Hidden places), Hunt 4+2 (prey)

Equipment: Thick Scales (Soak: 9) (Soak: 9; Protection: 1)

Encumbrance: 0 (0)

Powers:

Venom (Greater: 45), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-3, Form: Aquam, Range: Touch, +1, Duration: Sun, +2, Target: Ind, +0, Level: CrAq30, Design: 30 levels, Base 10, +1 Touch, +2 Sun, +1 constant, -3 Might cost: The Skouliki’s fangs drip a venom that causes a Medium Wound (if it penetrates Magic Resistance) unless its victim can make a Stamina roll against an Ease Factor of 9. 

Poisonous Breath (Greater: 35), Points: 4, Initiative: Qik-3, Form: Auram, Range: Touch, +1, Duration: Diam, +1, Target: Group, +2, Level: CrAu35, Design: 35 levels, Base 15, +1 Touch, +1 Diam, +2 Group: The Skouliki can breathe a cloud of black smoke five paces across that coats victims with a contact poison (Ease Factor 9, inflicts a Heavy wound). 

Invisibility of the Standing Wizard (Greater: 15), Points: 2, Initiative: Qik-1, Form: Imaginem, Range: Touch, +1, Duration: Sun, +2, Target: Ind, +0, Level: PeIm15, Design: 15 levels, Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Sun

Vis: Vis: 3 Pawns of Aquam (Fangs); 

Once you were small, now you’re BIG! You’ve lived in the treacle mines for as long as you can remember eating the little fuzzy things that hop around and avoiding the two legs that come in here to gather the sticky black stuff. But things have changed. The little Fuzzys have fled the mine and you’ve grown hungry. So you’ve begun sneaking into the two legs village at night to eat the little two legs. You tried to eat one of the big two legs but it was just too big for you. Soon though they’ll be small enough to eat as well. 

Combat: The Skouliki will attack either the smallest character or will attack anybody that separates from the group (such as foxes or mice that go down its holes). The first attack will inevitably be a bite on his chosen target with the follow up being a breath attack on the main concentration of players. 

Encounter 4

After exiting the cave the players are confronted by the Odo and five goons who fight as a trained group. Odo wants the treacle for himself and the players need to either persuade him or confront him. Remember the code.

Odo

Characteristics: Int 0, Per 0, Pre +1, Com +1, Str +1, Sta +1, Dex +2, Qik +2

Appearance: A dark haired man of middling years. He has a number of small cuts on his face and several days of stubble.

Size: 0

Age: 35 (35), Height: 168 cm, Weight: 72 kg, Gender: Male

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 0 (0)

Confidence: 1 (3)

Virtues and Flaws: Landed Noble, Wealthy, Improved Characteristics, Puissant Single Weapon, Proud, Enemies, Infamous, Overconfident

Personality Traits: Brave +3, Proud +3, Arrogant +3

Reputations: Cruel overlord 4

Combat: 

Sword, Long & Shield, Heater (mounted): Init: +2, Attack +17, Defense +17, Damage +7

Sword, Long & Shield, Heater: Init: +2, Attack +14, Defense +14, Damage +7

Sword, Great (mounted): Init: +2, Attack +16, Defense +13, Damage +10

Sword, Great: Init: +2, Attack +13, Defense +10, Damage +10

Dodge: Init: +0, Attack –, Defense +4, Damage —

Fist: Init: +0, Attack +5, Defense +5, Damage +1

Kick: Init: -1, Attack +4, Defense +3, Damage +4

Soak: +10

Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), Dead (21+)

Abilities: Animal Handling 2 (falconry), Area Lore: Area 4 (nobles), Athletics 2 (running), Awareness 3 (battle), Brawl 2 (Fist), Chirurgy 1 (sword wounds), Etiquette 3 (noble), Great Weapon 5 (Sword, Great), Hunt 4 (deer), Modern Language 3, Intrigue 5 (noble courts), Leadership 4 (soldiers), Music 1 (singing), Norman French 5 (giving orders), English 3, Bows 2, Ride 5 (in combat), Single Weapon 5+2 (Shield, Heater), Survival 1 (Forests)

Equipment: Full Chain Mail (Soak: 10) (Soak: 10; Protection: 9); Shield, Heater (Init: 0; Atk: 0; Dfn: +3; Str: 0; Cost: Standard)

Encumbrance: 3 (4)

Odo’s goons

Characteristics: Int -1, Per 0, Pre 0, Com 0, Str +1, Sta +1, Dex +2, Qik +2

Size: 0

Age: 25 (25), Height: 168 cm, Weight: 72 kg, Gender: Male

Decrepitude: 0

Warping Score: 0 (0)

Virtues and Flaws: Covenfolk, Warrior (50/50), Weakness (Weakness)

Personality Traits: Brave +3, Loyal +2, Garrulous +1

Combat: 

Pole Arm: Init: +4, Attack +10, Defense +7, Damage +9

Fist: Init: +1, Attack +7, Defense +7, Damage +1

Dodge: Init: +1, Attack –, Defense +6, Damage —

Kick: Init: +0, Attack +6, Defense +5, Damage +4

Soak: +2

Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious

Wound Penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), Dead (21+)

Abilities: Area Lore: Ribble Valley 3 (taverns), Athletics 3 (running), Awareness 3 (in combat), Bows 4 (Bow, Short), Brawl 4 (Fist), Carouse 3 (drinking), Charm 2 (opposite sex), Etiquette 2 (magi), Great Weapon 4 (pole axe), Guile 2 (avoiding duties), English 5 (rude words), Single Weapon 5 (Shield, Heater), Survival 1 (for a short period)

Equipment: Pack; Quilted Armor (Soak: 2) (Soak: 2; Protection: 1)

Encumbrance: 1 (2)

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this adventure and the little fuzzys didn’t cause too much mischief. Next time we’ll look at the canonical player characters.

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