Runequest Thursday #210 - Vampires of Blind King's Hill!

Clint Staples

Last session, the Brightwater Company: Ughari Ghosteyes - the Praxian shaman, Wyrmhere Ironhand - the Sartarite Sorcerer, and Zoe Stormblade - the half-Lunar Runelady of Orlanth,  along with a recent addition, Svea - a witch found wandering the Ruins north of Trolltown, wounded and fleeing from a bunch of trolls, camped out at the OldFlintnail Fort, where things happened. Things are still happening (tonight in fact), but I decided to write up something that might also happen in the future. - should the Company explore nearby Blind King's Hill.

Blind King's Hill is a ruin in the Big Rubble, described therein as inhabited by a pack of beastfolk vampires. This is only partially the case, since the Hill, the ruins, and the surrounding wall cover a significant amount of real estate. It is also reported that there are other structures there, possibly some sort of shrine to Sun Dragon or similar. The Blind King might have been a dragonlord himself, a dragonewt, or a failed dragonewt ascendant. There are also tales that speak of the Blind King as a powerful Zorak Zoran heroquester of the Second Age.

The vampires of Blind King's HIll inhabit only a small section of the ruins within the failing partial wall that separates the Hill from nearby Old Flintnail Fort, Huntland and the rest of the Rubble. Here is everthing you need to run the vampires as an encounter, as well as their lair, which might be the location of the encounter, or more or less empty if the vampires are encountered while out on the hunt.

The pack is powerful, and capable of seriously messing up some Player Characters - especially if they vampires are on the hunt, and not caught in their lair, or in daytime. So Game Master's, and players, beware!

The pack is dominated by a manticore vampire whose savagery has grown with his bloodlust. A centaur and a baboon, also vampire Lords of Vivamort, round out the beastfolk portion of the pack. An experienced human Lord of Vivamort has recently joined the others after fleeing from the coven that haunts the Griffon Gate. He has brought with him a lesser vampire leman, and a human servant who hopes one date for the immortality of the night. The map shows their squalid lair, a set of cellars amid the rubble of the Hill, and is detailed in the Legend below. Also provided are the vampire statblocks, motivations and rivalries, and the zombies that haunt the surface of the hill above their lair - undirected now that the Vivamort priest who created them is no more.

 

Cellars of Blood Map Legend

Home to the pack of beastfolk and human vampires (Ghoulbiter, Moonrunner, Redhand, Karstein, Lonlorri) and their lone human initiate (Korengar), the cellars are located under a set of rubble piles that roughly correspond to the cellar map, the highest of which is no more than 10 feet above the surrounding area. There is little of interest above ground, though the zombies that wander the area seem to like to stay close. Raised by the now destroyed Vivamort Priestess, Kalyx, six of the zombies are the remnants of a missing Lunar patrol. The remainder are unfortunate adventurers, seeking their fortune in the Rubble and finding only a mindless undeath.

 

Careful inspection (and successful Spot Hidden checks) of the rubble mounds over rooms 4, 5, and 6, will find narrow passages, no wider than the span of a hand, that wind down through the ceilings of the cellar rooms beneath. These are boltholes for the vampires should they be reduced to mist-form, a practice instituted by the wily and experienced Bloodlord, Karstein, and adopted by most of the other vampires. A mist-form vampire can pass into or out of the cellars easily, and very little can follow.

 

The existences of most vampires does not rely on wealth as it is measured in much of Glorantha, so most of the “treasure” that the victims of the pack might have possessed is scattered haphazardly round the Cellars, or still on or near the remains of the victim who possessed it in life.

 

In addition to the possessions listed with each vampire and those detailed below, there is the equipment of the lunar patrol and adventurers - still retained by the zombies (none of it in very good shape but still serviceable, if cleaned up). Scattered around the Cellars, findable with an hour or two of diligent searching, is 5x1d100 lunars, 3x1d100 clacks, and several handfuls of bolgs. Because the vampires care little for material wealth or cleanliness, there is the possibility of Found Items as listed in each room description. Roll once for each searcher that succeeds with Spot Hidden during a search, up to the stated number of times for that room.

Before you run the Pack, I recommend that you familarize yourself with Vampire abilities and weaknesses. I used the vampire more or less as written in Cults of Terror - one of my favorite game supplements ever!

 

Found Item: Roll 1d20:

  1. A scorpionid tail several feet in length, with the venom gland intact.
  2. A single die from a gaming set, of mammoth ivory, with pips of jet.
  3. A decorative ceiling tile with a pleasing mosaic pattern in white, red, and blue.
  4. A Lunar gold trade bar, worth 100L.
  5. A tattered pinion feather, large enough to have belonged to a griffon, hippogriff, or giant condor.
  6. A bronze brothel token: On the obverse side is the name “Hildy’s Harem” and an attractive woman’s face, on the reverse is the sex act the token is payment for.
  7. 1d6 barbed Iron arrowheads in the Praxian style.
  8. A fine whittling and carving knife, very sharp, in its own sheath.
  9. The shell of a rubble runner, cleaned out and partially converted into a purse.  
  10. A soggy patch of blood-soaked ground.
  11. A glass phial bearing the Death rune, with a hinged cap that can be popped open one handed. A single drop of what appears to be water within.
  12. A partially burned cone of high-quality incense.
  13. An intact but otherwise unremarkable vase, dating back to the time of robcradle.
  14. A blood-stained straight razor with an ivory handle.
  15. A sturdy wooden holy symbol of the Death rune, obviously intentionally covered by other refuse.  
  16. A finely made diptych made of bone, with wax inside the panes, and a matching bone stylus.
  17. A lovely ladies hand-mirror. Though the environment depicted is the one behind the viewer, the mirror only ever “reflects” the same lovely lady’s face, smiling, frowning, mooing, or otherwise posing, by turns.
  18. The Lower jaw of a tusk rider, one elongated tooth capped with silver.
  19. A bottle of cut crystal, now filled with vinegar.
  20. A flute made from the femur of a sun elk – plays with beautifully, haunting tones.

 

Map Legend:

Squeeze Checks: There are a number places in the Cellars that require a Squeeze check. Have characters make a Squeeze check if their SIZ is equal to or greater than the listed number, using the Resistance Table against the Squeeze Number. So a Squeeze 13 would allow anyone SIZ 12 or less to pass. A SIZ 13 individual would have a 50% chance to pass, and for each SIZ over 13, the chance would reduce by 5%. Getting stuck means that the character must make another Squeeze check on a subsequent turn to free oneself. On a Fumble, the character is quite stuck and takes 2d6 rounds of squirming, or outside aid, before another check is allowed. A stuck individual takes a -20% to any fighting related checks, cannot move from that spot, and opponents gain +20% to hit.

 

  1. The entrance shows signs of recent excavation, the handiwork of Ghoulbiter and Redhand, at the manticore’s insistence. Because he is more beast than man he finds transforming to mist difficult if not forced to it. This way he can lair in 2 without the need to do so. Karstein, only too happy to expose the manticore to greater risk, lairs deeper, and more securely. The rubble scree leading into the cellar is lose and subject to tumbling under foot (-20% to Stealth checks). Redhand sometimes spies from the entrance, scouting from the shadows, even slipping into the ruins during the day to reconnoiter further afield, secure in his stealth and toughness. Korengar has a sleeping pad along the east wall, and stays here when ordered to by Ghoulbiter – as a first, and readily replaceable line of defense in day time. There is a 40% chance that Korengar is here at any given time. If so, he is armored and watch all day, and 50% of the time at night. Korengar often slips away to 4, where he is secure.
  2. This cellar has a vaulted ceiling nearly 7 feet in height in much the room, another reason why Ghoulbiter likes it here. It reeks of putrifaction and and older stench of  cat. There is a body to the west of the entrance, drained of blood – most of which must have left when the manticore ripped open the body cavity. A search check turns up 15L, 3c, and fine magnifying glass in a special beltpouch. The Lankhor Mhy cultist to whom it belongs has joined his god. Ghoulbiter’s grave earth and sleeping area is in the deepest portion of 2, and has little to recommend it. A successful search of the grave earth, bones and other refuse reveals a pair of small bottles of blue glass, one broken, the other intact. Within the whole bottle is a liquid (Heal 4 potion). The passage to 3 is a Squeeze (SIZ 15) at the narrowest point. The passage to 5 requires a Squeeze 11. Searchers may roll up to twice on the Found Item table.
  3. Redhand and Moonrunner lair here, each of whom are more comfortable with mist-form than Ghoulbiter. Their grave earth piles are along the west wall. In the pocked and lowering ceiling, low enough in many places that Moonrunner must bend almost flat at the waist, there is a hole that leads to the surface, through which a mist-form vampire, but not much else, could pass. If the room is searched, there is a 50% chance of a single Found Item.
  4. Korengar resides, and sleeps, here when allowed, or when he slips beneath Ghoulbiter’s notice. The wiry human can easily pass the Squeeze 12 between 3 and 4, and has a small stash of wealth that the vampires felt was beneath their notice. North of his sleeping pad, there is a pair of sacks filled with the following:  5 Wheels, 165L, A pair of garnet pins set in silver (30L each), a fine silver and garnet-cloisonne hilted sickle dagger, embossed with the runes for Fertility Death and the Moon.  A small satchel of Luunar military rations, well past their “best before” date, lies nearby, surrounded by the cast off wrappers. Korengar serves Karstein, in hopes of being made vampire, and has little belief that Ghoulbiter will, or even can, make him one. But the manticore is powerful, and quick to anger. In the southwest corner, there is a latrine pot. The long passage to 6 requires a squeeze 7 at its narrowest point, just before the entrance to 6. Korengar sometimes comes this way to peep at the depravity that Karstein gets up to with Lonlorri. The vampires are entirely aware of his presence.
  5. This room is the “cleanest” in the Cellars, primarily because it is rarely used. In the relatively simple mind of Ghoulbiter, this is his redoubt, to which he can flee in mist-form if hard pressed. The There is a small passage to the surface here in a crack in the ceiling. Unbeknownst to Ghoulbiter, Karstein has managed to block it with a number of human body parts, mashed together to seal the way out of the manticore’s hidey hole. Ghoulbiter, in a rare moment of avarice, secreted a little leather purse in a scatter of rubble and sand. Contents: 4 small yellow sapphires in a little drawstring bag, each worth 500L, a pale blue cabochon gem about the size of a child’s thumb – unbeknownst to Ghoulbiter, a unique magic crystal: Power Conversion Crystal 3: Each day, this stone may be touched to instantly transform up to three POW to another Attribute on oneself or another creature touched. If this affects a drained or damaged Attributes (STR, CON, SIZ, DEX, INT, POW, CHA), that number of reduced points are restored instead. There are up to three found items here.  
  6. This is the private lair of Karstein, and often of Lonlorri. It is just as awful as the others, but has soiled and bloody bedding in addition to the coffin detailed below, as well that which follows:
  • Coffin of Karstein – this simple coffin is nothing special in itself. It does contain a scattering of both Karstein and Lonlorri’s grave earth, which may be despoiled to ruin it as a resting place for the vampires. Under the grave earth, there is a loose board in the bottom of the coffin, through which a mist-form vampire could escape. Affixed to the underside of the coffin, next to this opening, is another sword-biter, a match to the fine longsword and sword-biter that Karstein normally carries.
  • A crown composed of a band of blackened iron studded with plaques containing the runes for Disorder, Beast and Death. The brow of the crown is the snarling visage of a four-eyed, tusked, lion-like demon. A success on Praxian Lore or similar will reveal that this is in fact the Iron Visage of the Tusk Riders, a crown that is sacred to the foul cult. The vampire Nosferal, lord of the black tower in the southern River of Cradles, had paid Karstein in bloofd and thralls for it to be retrieved and brought to him, so that he might raise a horde of Tusk Riders. Karstein decided not to follow through, and the Iron Visage lay here forgotten for two years. The Visage grants protection 4 whenever worn by a rune level member of the cult of the Bloody Tusk. It is also said to grant communication with the demon patron of the Tusk Riders – Dagor, though why one might want to do so is anyone’s guess.
  • A pair of cups crafted from human skulls. Their craftsmanship is beautiful, if grisly, with gilded bowls, bejewelled rims, and gems set into the eye sockets. Dried blood stains the interior, because these are often used during the bloody orgies of Karstein, Lonlorri, and Korengar. Each is worth 2000L for the precious materials. If someone were found who prized them for their other merits, they would be worth half again as much each as part of a set.
  • A small chest filled with Kralorelan tea leaves.
  • There is one Found Item in this room.

 

Next Time: More Blind King's Hill (and maybe more maps)!