Runequest Thursday #201 - Chaos Gang Lair, Loot and More!

Clint Staples

Over the last couple of weeks, I created a Chaos Gang to haunt the Big Rubble using 100 Oddities for a Chaotic Mutation, and then statted the members of the gang up. This week, as promised, I am turning my attention to where the gang of Gargaras, former Lunar File Leader of a squad of elite Moonbleak Mauriaspids, likes to hang their hats, their trophies, and their loot.

As mentioned previously, the gang set themselves up on the edge of the ruins between Griffon Gate and the Huntland. This allowed them easy access to the rich warren of ruins to the north and east, often traversed by adventurers lost or traumatized after seeking, or finding, Balastor’s Barracks. Such easy prey has allowed the gang to stay relatively well-fed (if not necessarily healthy), and acquire a certain amount of loot.

Location of the Lair within the Big Rubble in RED, Image is detail from the map of the Big Rubble, all of which is Copyright - Chaosium.

 

The more open Huntlands to the west allow Scarlet, the lunar panther companion to Gargaras, to bring down jackalope and other prey as well, and Illshadow enjoys riding the grassy flats, sometimes luring wanderers into pursuit of a single rider so obviously out of her depth in the deadly region.

The ruins begin rather abruptly at the edge of the Huntland and quickly become a substantial maze, almost but not quite a barrier to exploration. This offers many places for ambush, or for those in need of a hidey hole. It also makes it easy for Grabby, the dragonsnail who follows Gargaras around to get close enough to cook up some supper.

 

Rumors of the Gargaras Gang:

Around Pavis and the Big Rubble, stories of the Gang’s predations, and their membership, can be found.

  • An “entertainer" calling herself Julala the Wicked (a courtesan, dancer, singer, juggler by turns) is also a seller of information and a supplier of Rubble Maps (of varying quality). She has heard of a tale of a chaos gang infesting a ruined temple to a dead god. She knows that it is in the ruins somewhere between Griffon Gate and the Flintnail Temple.
  • Inquiries at the Flintnail Temple (East of The Quarry) will turn up accounts of a number of cultists being taken by Chaots said to have been led by a huge bull-man, who were tracked well across the Huntland toward Griffon Gate before the trackers were forced back by a huge pack of Jackalope. The Temple is willing to offer 250 Lunars per cultists recovered alive, and 100 Lunars for information on their fate or that could lead to a rescue.
  • If the wyrm, Windwhistler (you will need Pavis and the Big Rubble for details on Windwhistler, but you can use Sundrinker as erroneously named him on the fly because I could not find his write-up when the players encountered him in my campaign), is in the region, he proves an expensive source of information: A bribe of 20 Lunars (or trade of similar value) will elicit sufficient good will that he will admit to having seen Grabby, but was confused as to whether he should destroy the creature, because of the fire pouring from its mouths. He will tell the adventurers that he saw the monster “somewhere near the shipwreck”.  

 

The Lair of the Gargaras Gang is located approximately 400 yards directy west of the Griffon Gate, through heavy ruins for the most part. The lair is on the edge of the Ruins overlooking the Huntland, and with a good view of the ruins surrounding The Quarry and Flintnail Temple (See the map of that section of the map of the Big Rubble, Lair marked in RED).

 

Approaching The Lair from the Huntland:

In working out the details of Gargaras’ Gang’s lair, I decided to make use of an “as yet to be published” 100 Oddities title: 100 Oddities for an Ancient Ruin. When we get a “100 Oddities” title into shape for publication, we clean up the entries, remove duplication and sameness that might creep in during the generation process, etc. Ruin is still “raw”, but you are welcome to use it just as I did – it has a lot of great entries!

I rolled several times for some interesting details to add to the lair or the region nearby. I will point them out as we go, but here is the first one:

75 - The dried-out wreck of a sizable ship, its mast snapped short, part of its cabin collapsed, hulled in a number of places with occasional holes large enough to allow access. There is no evidence that the area around the ship was ever under water.

My first roll makes for a great landmark for the area, which might date from the destruction of Rob-Cradle, hurled from the river centuries ago by irate giants. The hulk is itself enough to garner the attention of adventurers. The wreck was once magical and the mast, even broken, is long enough to project nearly 30 feet into the air. Though marked on few maps of the area, certain knowledgeable folk in Pavis refer to this verge of the Huntland as the Shipwreck or the Shipyard.

Since I drew a map for the lair previously, I decided to place the wreck just to the North of the map edge, on the edge of the Huntland. Before the coming of the Gang to their Lair, the wreck was infested by a pack of Big Rubblerunners, but then Grabby moved in, and the survivors fled. Now, pools of somewhat caustic dragonsnail slime mire the bottom of most hollows within the wreck, as much as 3 feet deep in places, drip from breaches or seams, all hastening the breakup of the nameless vessel. The large exoskeletons of some of the runners may be seen murkily in the depths.

Developments: There is a 40% chance that Grabby is in the Wreck, dozing off a good fry-up. Should the adventurers investigate the site, you are on your own for the details, but Grabby will attack with fireblasts from his twin mouths, setting the decaying vessel ablaze, which does little to discomfit the snail. Before Grabby made the wreck its own, Gargaras and Roan went through it and moved any valuables over to the Lair.   

Beyond the Shipwreck, the Lair is on the outer edge of the ruin, some 300 yards distant from the Shipwreck.  At night, or in poor visibility, it is quite likely that any activity at the Wreck will not be noticed by the inhabitants fo the Lair.

The structures that make up the Lair are clearly visible from the Wreck, but the heroes may not know they have “arrived” because there is nothing to differentiate the Lair from the abundance of ruined structures surrounding it.

 

Approaching the Lair through the Ruins:

If the heroes enter the Rubble through the Griffon Gate, they will move through heavy ruins for some time. If they are fleeing Balastor’s Barracks, they may be driven head deeper into the Rubble by vampires, or instead of having to face passing out the Gate again.

Coming from the east, the heroes will notice a long pile of rubble easily 200 feet by 50 feet and towering over the surrounding ruins by a story or more. This is indicated on the map at the southern edge of the map. It can be traversed with care, but passage is not likely to be quiet, and the hill is called Rubblerunner Hill for a reason.

There is a 50% chance that Illshadow, Tirgas or Scarlet, are hunting in the ruins near to the Lair. If so, roll 1d6: 1 - Illshadow and Tirgas, 2 – Illshadow, 3-4 – Tirgas, 5-6 – Scarlet.

Make Spot and Listen checks for whoever is hunting, opposed to Hide or Move Silently, if the adventurers are employing these skills. Tirgas alone, as well as Scarlet, will fall back to warn their respective masters. Illshadow (overconfident by nature) will snipe with her bow (using Multimissile to give the impression of greater numbers) from hiding and distance. If  she can reduce the heroes sufficiently, she will move in to feed, casting protection upon herself and Tirgas, and Bladesharp on her sword. If forced to retire, she and Tirgas easily pick their way over the rugged terrain to alert the other Gang-sters.  

If the heroes approach the Lair unopposed and unseen, they will see little to distinguish it from the buildings around it.

 

The Lair and the Map:

The Lair occupies a set of several ruined buildings verging on a fallen temple. One square equals one yard (or 5 feet if you prefer). Chosen primarily for its position, it has little to recommend it as a stronghold, but offers a good view of the Huntland to the west, and there is a 30% chance that one or more of the gang-sters are watching for likely folks to waylay.

  • If this roll is successful, that means that, whether the watchers see the heroes approach or not, they are geared up and ready to fight, having been awaiting something to fight anyway.  The heroes provided much needed diversion, and potential calories.
  • Roll 1d6 to see who is on watch: 1 – Gargaras and Scarlet, 2 – Scarlet, 3 – Illshadow and Tirgas, 4 – Roan, 5 – Hrodr, 6 – Roll twice (of one of the successive rolls is also a 6, roll twice more – lots of hungry mouths to feed today). See the individual room descriptions for who might be on watch there and from where.
  • Check Spot Hidden for any on watch to perceive the heroes moving from the Huntland. Because there is little in the way of cover until the ruins themselves, heroes moving toward the Lair from the Huntland are at -20% for any Hide in Cover attempts as they approach. Tactically sensitive characters may note this fact as bothersome on a Tactics success, or INT x3%.

If the heroes are seen, response varies depending on how many gang-sters are ready to fight. As can be seen, Gargaras has instilled some semblance of discipline and tactical thinking, which makes this gang all the more dangerous.

 

Depending on who is On Watch:

  1. Gargaras is on watch, he quietly summons the others by sending Scarlet to alert them (this takes 1d4 rounds, +1d4 rounds for each respondent to appear). Until then Gargaras will cast Demoralize upon the most likely targets to charge the Lair.
  2. Scarlet alone will wake Gargaras, and the actions of 1 will repeat except that Gargaras also takes 1d4 rounds to ready himself.
  3. If Illshadow is on watch, she mounts Tirgas as the unicorn trumpets to attract attention and warn the gang, then exits west from Room 1, Shooting over her shoulder and leading attackers past her original position to be ambushed.
  4. Roan roars a warning to ally and prey alike, casts Strength and Bladsharp on himself and waits for others to assemble, the prey to charge, or until he gets tired of waiting (1d4 rounds) then casts Fanatacism and charges the first enemy he sees.
  5. Hrodr will remain unseen as long as possible, as far from Roan as possible. He will warn Gargaras (1d3 rounds), then Illshadow (another 1d4 rounds), but will not approach the former Yelornan or her mount, neither of which he trusts. He will not warn Roan (who is 50% likely to be sleeping until the sounds of battle arise).

 

If the heroes are seen and engaged outside of the Lair, Gargaras will hold the lair, only charging if Roan does, Illshadow will shoot until she is out of arrows (14) then charge with lance and sword and tentacle-mouth-arm. Roan will charge at the first opportunity, but can be controlled by Gargaras order, and will cast his protective spells first). Hrodr will work from the shadows if possible, hurling frostbite from concealment, and only attacking in melee if facing a weakened lone foe.

 

The Map in Detail:

Assuming that the heroes make it to the Lair unannounced:

There is considerable rubble in the Rubble, and these ruins are typical. Rocks marked on the map are signs of rough terrain and possibly of obstructed perception, according to the needs of your story. Each Square is 1 yard x 1 yard (or 5 feet if you prefer).

 

1. This once served as the anteroom for the ruined complex that supported the Temple of the Forsaken God. The room is roofless, having fallen in with the collapse of the columns supporting it (one of which has been removed entirely), then rotted to dust. A stone shelf is built into the corner opposite the entry. Now it is covered in ashes, refuse and bits of former meals (roll once for a Found Item).  The fallen column base is a convenient height for sitting, and Scarlet sometimes rubs against its side before settling in the shadows under the shelf (40% chance if not on watch), where she is difficult to see even in good light.  The rubble at the southwest corner might also contain a Found Item.

On Watch: If Roan is on watch, he looms among the cluster of rocks just outside the west doorway, hoof up on a stone, glaring out over the ruins and the Huntland.

 

2. This storeroom, more heavily constructed than the antechamber, survived with much of its flat stone roof intact, if not all of its walls. The roof now cants downward from the bottom west corner height of 12 feet, to a height too low for men to enter unbent near the scattered stones to the northeast. The shadowns beneath smell of blood and death.

Illshadow has claimed this hovel for herself and Tirgas (who lurks in the darkness under the higher part of the roof when not out hunting). Inside, in the southwest corner, there is a makeshift stone ladder that leads to a broken patch of roofing (drawn closed: Spot Hidden to notice). In the northwest corner is a set of simple bedding, moderately well kept, and six small amphorae (three of which are filled with good date-wine from Pavis, worth 9 Lunars each).           

Tirgas, fully given over to his new existence as a creature of chaos, likes to carry pieces of victims to feast on in private, and often wallows in the remains thereafter. Amid the offal, there is a chance for a Found Item. In addition, one of the arms carried off still retains the lanyard for a Praxian riding quirt, somewhat stained, but made of carved and silvered strips of bison horn (25 Lunars).

On Watch: Illshadow often likes to perch on the roof while on watch, getting up and down via the hole and the stone ladder (Climb Check). On the roof, she generally leaves a fine cup carved of Mammoth Ivory, depicting the night sky with a star citrine representing Yelorna’s star prominently displayed. The fitting for the star is now much scratched (reducing the cup’s value to 100 Lunars or so). The citrine alone, however is worth another 400 Lunars). A scatter of amphorae shards litters this corner as well. Leaning against the low corner of the roof are three arrows, as well as a kit and supplies for making arrows, including sufficient supplies for 17 more.

 

NOTE: The Alley behind the lower set of building runs along the base of Rubblerunner Hill, It is slick with slightly-caustic dragonsnail slime, and the Rubblerunners have learned to stay mostly away, encouraged also by the presence of Scarlet, Tirgas, as well as Illshadow’s archery. The entire area, leading to the Latrine (in the corner of the Alley nearest the Temple) is slick and considered difficult terrain.

 

3. Another Oddity (adapted) from 100 Oddities for an Abandoned Ruin: The carved lintel over the main doorway (from 5) to a relatively large and complex building indicating that it is a place known as the "Wolves' Den" (this might be in an ancient or foreign tongue that requires translation by those discovering it). The script dates from the time of Rob-Cradle, during which time this was the “club house” of a group of ne’er-do-wells who called themselves the Wolf Pack in honor of their now mad and nameless god (who reside next door in the shattered and toppled remains of his “Temple” – but that is another scenario!).

This almost entirely roofed structure is the best-preserved of the Lair and is the meeting place (when such a thing is required). The area smells of fish. When not engaged or on watch, Gargaras sleeps in the northeast corner, amid a slick pile of bedding that explains the stench in the room. Scarlet also has a place to curl up here, near her master, where she can easily catch rats and vermin attracted by the scent. Behind the bedding, covered by an innocuous pile of rubblestones (Search) is the pick of the band’s wealth, in the safe-keeping of Gargaras and Scarlet (See Picked Loot - below). On the rare occasions that they are not worn, Gargaras’ armor, weapons and shield lean against the wall or are haphazardly strewn on the edges of his corner.

Roan has a simple spot to sit or lay in the southeast corner, marked only by a flat “sitting stone” and a scatter of golden Wheels that he threw at Scarlet in a rage, then never bothered to collect (1d10 Wheels). The minotaur, raised in conditions as bad as these or worse, scorns comforts like bedding, heaping ridicule on those too soft from such finery. He bears a still-healing scar (Archery Skill Success: made by an Arrow) in his spinneret arm bicep from the last time he voiced his contempt in Illshadow’s hearing.

On Watch: Gargaras and Scarlet usually maintain watch from this room, one or the other of them peering out the window in the middle of the north wall. Hrodr now watches from here as well (see Rooms 6 and 7, for why).

 

4. Midden room, which is to say, items looted from raiding caravans and adventurers that do not count as “Picked Loot”, are kept here. The three corners of the room are stacked with sacks and amphorae of tradestuffs, mostly food, much of it gone rotten for lack of interest. Only Hrodr, who has developed a taste for many human delicacies in his decades of disguise among them, raids this larder with any frequency. If any of the gang-sters thought about it, the supplies  could be fed to Grabby, but none care enough to do so.

Amid the squalor there are a few things that might be saved:

  • 3 large sacks of wheat, bearing the emblem of Littlehart Farms, Sun County.
  • An amphorae of date-wine (like those claimed by Illshadow), but poisoned with Potency 14 Systemic poison, doing 1d6+2 CON Damage.
  • A small grey leather purse containing 14 clacks, 7 Lunars, and a small garnet with 40 Lunars.
  • 1d6 standard issue Lunar Scimitars in moldering scabbards, 8 spearheads (snapped off their shafts), one Orlanthi style helmet, dented but with bronze eyebrows and Storm runes, a swordhilt, with a broken blade of Iron (enough to make a dagger if reforged) with a gilded pommel wheel in the shape of a Movement rune.
  • 2 Found Items.

 

5. There is little in this roofless room other than footprints leading between 3 and 6. The southern portion is somewhat slicked with slime from Grabby, but Hrodr’s "training" (his frequent use of Frostbite) has taught the near mindless brute not to come beyond the halfway point.

If Grabby is not encountered elsewhere, it will be here, as close to the middle of its horrible family has it can get. It will attack anything not of its family, but will not cross the Frostbite line into Rooms 3 or 6. It WILL shed fire into those rooms if there are enemy present.

The north wall of 5 has several trophies planted in recesses in the wall. A quiver of dragonewt darts and a klanth, a Praxian buckler, and two moldering human heads stare through white eyes from head height, one a bearded Sartarite, the other a Praxian woman whose nose has been slit. Behind the heads (Search), Hrodr has secreted the following: a small wallet containing 2 Wheels, 50 Lunars. In a handful of dust and gravel in the back of another recess (Another Search) Hrodr has hidden a 2 Point Spell Reinforcing Crystal. Hrodr has done this because he knows that Gargaras has searched his room (room 6) at least once while the ogre was not here.

 

6. Hrodr’s room is surprisingly neat, the ogre having taken up the habits of respectable human society. A once handsome, now somewhat bedraggled, bison skin painted with a scene of Bison Riders defeating Llama Riders in warfare,  hangs across the doorway to the east. He has a bedroll, on a cot he fashioned from spearshafts and other found-wood. He has driven pegs of wood into cracks in the walls, from which hang his belongings, including his death rune marked sword and dagger in their scabbards, when not in use. He also has a small purse with a few treats that he has rescued from the Midden, or from those unfortunate enough to have fallen under his blades: 3 high quality honeycakes wrapped in leaves and cloth, 2 and a half sticks of spearmint-flavored candy cane, and one piece of human and berry pemmican (a magical ogre delicacy that, if not completely consumed, will slowly grow back over the course of a season - currently it is little more than a mouthful).

On Watch: Hordr used to keep watch from his room, but of late he has taken to watching from the main room (5), because the ghosts have been bothering him.

NOTE: If Hordr has not been seen among the gnag-sters, and the fight seems to be going against them, he is more than willing to turn upon his former "comrades", coming to the aid of the heroes in the guise of a wandering Humakti or a Lhankor Mhyr swordsage explorer. He might also try to masquerade as a prisoner if the heroes have slain all the obviously chaotic members of the gang quickly enough that he was caught unwares. If he succeeds, he may try to circle back to gain any treasure he knows about that the heroes leave or do not find, but he is also happy to play his part and wait for an opportunity to escape or betray them.

 

7. Oddity for an Abandoned Ruin: What remains of a temple wall. Rune engravings on the wall foretell the destruction of the temple and the temples eventual reconstruction by a new prophet and her followers.

The Temple of the Forsaken was, in the time of Rob-Cradle, the Temple to the Great Wolf. In those days, wolves wandered the hills and marshes of the River of Cradles, and the Great Wolf was father to them all. Now, the Great Wolf has fallen far, and is no more than a mad, lonely spirit lord, eager for blood and souls. Hrodr has heard him, and the souls of his equally mad acolytes, whispering in the night, but has not yet ventured into the ruined temple. He has seen the shades of men and wolfmen long dead, buyt has never laid eyes on the engravings that tell of the rebuilding of the Great Wolf’s home and fortunes. If the heroes move within the temple area at night they too will see and hear this Oddity from an Abandoned Ruin: The shades of those who once lived here, silently going about their business as if they were alive. The shades appear not to notice the fallen architecture or ruins surrounding them, moving through fallen debris as if it were not there. The apparitions persist for 2d6 minutes.

What the heroes make of the temple and its inhabitants, as well as what the Great Wolf chooses to do, is another scenario!

 

Picked Loot:

  • Several pouches, purses, and wallets, with a total of 211c, 334 L, and 3 W.
  • A faulty 4 point POW storage crystal that deal 1 point of electrical damage each time it is drawn from.
  • A partial set of playing pieces of Esrolian make, consisting ivory and jet, for an unknown game. Ivory pieces are carved as knights, the jet ones as dragonewts.
  • A hammerhead made from the stone skull of a fossilized small raptor, very hard, and containing the matrices for Bludgeon 2 and Protection 2.
  • A small bag of 6d8 garnet and gold beads (each bead is worth 15 Lunars).

 

Found Items: Whenever a FOund Item Note is included, roll 1d10. On a 5 or less there is a Found Item:  Then roll 1d20 for the item. If an item has already been found, reroll.

  1. Jaw of a Tusker – the mount of a Tusk Rider.
  2. Warclub made from Bison Horns for the striking surfaces, with a reinforced wooden haft and beaded grip and lanyard.
  3. A flat stone carved with the Chaos Rune.
  4. Part of a clay tablet scribed with unknown characters (Dark Tongue), and containing an image of a troll hero (it appears there are two parts).
  5. A POW 2 Storage Crystal on a rotting leather thong.
  6. A gold disk much like a wheel but with shapes and runes entirely dissimilar.
  7. A pile of beetle husks shine like obsidian.
  8. The tooth of a young giant.
  9. A broken (but potentially reparable) mechamagica hand and lower arm, ragged, rotten flesh still attached at the forearm end.  
  10. A pile of non-descript clothing covered in ashes (if investigated by a Lhankor Mhy sage, or a Humakti – the ashes prove to be those of a destroyed vampire).
  11. A dead Rubblerunner, in the mouth of which (Spot Hidden) is a human finger wearing a god ring emblazoned with a random rune.
  12. A small winesack, still half full.
  13. A single shoe (roll 2d6+6 for the SIZ of the Wearer), the heel of which contains a secret compartment with a 1 point POW storage crystal.
  14. The stub of a candle made from the purist giant bee’s wax.
  15. The sort of slouchy hat, of dark purple felt, favored by trolls, from which hangs a gauze thin enough not to hamper trollsense.
  16. A small dead toad that comes to life as you touch it or look on.
  17. A rune-carved sorcerer’s wand, trapped to Befuddle (POW 18) anyone other than the owner who picks it up. The wand, if it can be handled, adds +10 to Sorcery spell checks.
  18. A small cup of black porcelain, pleasing in its simple elegance.
  19. The mummified hand of a baboon.
  20. A fold of leather wrapped around a single branch from the tree of a potent dryad.