Of Ghosts and Goblins ist ein kleines Abenteuer für die erste Edition von The One Ring. Es hat einen eher humorigen Ton und war für eine Runde mit Jugendlichen gedacht. Wie das Geschwisterabenteuer Blood in the Waters wurde es im Other Minds Magazine (Ausgabe 24) veröffentlicht.
Inzwischen wurde die 2. Edition von The One Ring veröffentlicht, aber es sollte problemlos möglich sein, die Abenteuer zu konvertieren. Wer sich für The One Ring interessiert, wird auf YouTube fündig: Entweder unsere Kampagne Song of the Second Age oder das im offiziellen Setting angesiedelte Not All Who Wander.
Of Ghosts (and Goblins)
This a short one-off with a light-hearted background. It can be inserted into any chronicle as a side-mission.
A few tips for Loremasters beforehand:
- Of Ghosts (and Goblins) contains a tomb of the Wainriders of old, terrible Men of Shadow from the East, who waged war against Gondor and nearly laid that great kingdom low. They were a confederation of tribes that first struck the West in 1851 TA and were a threat for almost a century before finally being defeated in 1944 TA. They occupied most of Rhovannion during that time.
- All the descriptions about the Wainriders are vague by design, to allow the Loremaster to fit them into the campaign. Remember that their heyday is more than a millennium past and that they have faded into history for most, with only the learned knowing more than legends, and only the Wise more than that.
- The area is not detailed as the adventure is meant to be modular. The Loremaster can insert it into the campaign almost anywhere, possibly using known Loremaster characters to alert the player-heroes of the fake ghost and ask for help. For example, it can easily be used after playing Blood in the Waters, using the Grey Mountains around Grenedun as the setting for the adventure and Theustal as the Loremaster character that bids the company for help.
- When: Any time during or after the year 2946.
- Where: The adventure can be set anywhere in Wilderland.
- What: The company explores rumours of a ghost in ancients tombs.
- Why: Nearby folk is alarmed by the appearances of the ghost and ask for help.
- Who: Two Goblins, Rignark and Dignark, pose as the ghost and use fear for their own ends.
What happened before
While searching for refuge during a severe storm, the two Goblin brothers Rignark and Dignark found the entrance of an old tomb. Unable to open the burial chamber, they explored the other chambers and found ancient armours and weapons. The tomb is of the Wainriders, belonging to one of their heathen kings of old. The Goblins were about to take the valuables and leave when Dignark had an idea: he leapt onto his brother’s back, and they clad themselves in the armour and began terrorizing the human settlements nearby, using the panic they created to rob and steal as much as they could. Their ruse has been most successful, as the people living nearby are a superstitious lot and fear the so-called ghost of old.
Part One – A plea for help and a terrifying tale: The company hear of a ghost that is haunting the locals. No one seems able to stand up to the terrible spectre.
Part Two – Searching for ghosts: The company set out to find the ghost and drive it away or destroy it.
Part Three – Two Voices as One: Finding an ancient tomb, the company come to realize that the ghost is not real. They reveal it to be a charade by two crafty Goblins.
Epilogue – Treasure fit for a King: Defeating the Goblins, the company are free to search the tomb. They come to realize that it is of Wainrider-origin and centuries old. Despite having been the retreat of thieving goblins, it still contains some of the old treasure.
Part One – A Plea for Help and a terrifying Tale
While staying in a settlement of Man, the player-heroes come across a disturbing tale: for a fortnight, an ancient ghost has haunted the area. It is a warrior of old, terribly tall and encased in ancient armour of an unknown make. It howls like a thousand wolves (the Goblins use an old horn of the Wainriders) and talks with a voice screaming like lightning and thunder (the Goblins both shout and talk at the same time, creating a disturbing effect). Several farm animals have disappeared, and the ghost often demands sacrifices, promising wrathful vengeance of his undead minions if denied.
The simple folk of the area are clearly out of their depths. Even their warriors are full of superstition and will not go near the ghost. Intrepid heroes are sorely needed …
Part Two – Searching for Ghosts
Finding the fake ghost is not easy. The ancient tomb lay hidden for many centuries, buried below a kurgan that people just regarded as a natural hill. But a few clues lead to it – and may even alert the player-heroes that not all is as it seems:
- Stories about the ghost differ wildly. In some of the accounts, the creature is said to be a true ghost, translucent like mist, in others it is a walking corpse. This is due to the panic the fake ghosts usually incites; the farmers are not reliable witnesses at all. An Insight roll will grant a deeper understanding of this fact.
- The haunting occurs in a roughly circular area, emanating from some low hills. A Lore roll will help the player-heroes realize this.
- There are tracks of the ghost, but the Goblins are quite adept at concealing them. Finding them requires a hard Hunting roll (TN 16). The tracks lead towards the hills, but are lost on rocky terrain. Something about the tracks is odd, they are of great, nailed boots, but the heels dig in much deeper than the toes (this is because Rignarks feet do not fill the large boots).
- At a lonely farm, the Goblins lost a dagger of Wainrider make. The farmer is more than glad to present this weapon to the company as he believes it to be cursed. While the blade is indeed ancient, it has obviously been sharpened by quite mortal means in the recent past. A Battle roll will reveal this.
- The ghost seems weirdly interested in mortal things – food, coins, wine. A Lore roll will raise suspicions about such worldly ghosts.
The company will probably realize that the ghost has to be from the low hills and begin searching the area. Hunting and Explore rolls will finally lead them to the kurgan.
Part Three – Two Voices as One
Sooner or later, the company will find the tomb. From the outside, it seems to be a simple, natural hill, but it is actually a kurgan, an artificial hill raised over the grave of a great chieftain of the Wainriders. The entrance is hidden in the depths of a cave that has been opened by a fierce storm.
The whole tomb consists of stone slabs that have been erected to form crude walls and ceilings. The latter hang quite low, making it uncomfortable for anybody larger than a Hobbit – or a Goblin. Trying to sneak into the tomb is very difficult for Non-Hobbits, making the Stealth roll daunting (TN 20).
The main corridor leads directly to the Burial Chamber, but there was a collapse and the way into the actual chamber is blocked. Throughout the tomb, rocks and pebbles have fallen from the ceiling, creating treacherous ground.
All the walls are inscribed with strange and foreign markings, some of them being pictures of Men, but not of a kind the company has ever seen. Describe the eerie symbols and carvings as utterly alien and disturbing. The whole tomb should be shown as a place of dark worship and blasphemous ritual of Men of the Shadow, with a sinister and daunting atmosphere.
Entrance and Corridor
The corridor leads down in a few roughly hewn steps. The ceiling is even lower right at the entrance, forcing anyone larger than a Hobbit on its hands and knees. The air is cold and damp, with a draught giving it a chilly feel – as if ghostly fingers are touching the player-heroes. The corridor runs straight to the Burial Chamber. There are two other openings, one to each side.
Antechamber and Shrine
This was once the place where the Wainriders brought sacrifices to please their dark god and ease the passage of their chieftain. The Goblins put the remains of the dead guards (see below) here in a big pile of bones, but were unable to open the stone door that leads to the shrine. The strange images carved into the stone above the door make them feel uneasy, so they seldom go there.
The stone door can only be opened by force, as its old mechanism has long since corroded. The shrine itself is a dark place. A huge altar sits across the door, flanked by two statues of strange winged creatures with tails of lizards, wicked claws and long tongues sticking out of fanged maws. There are still remains of the sacrifices to be found, mummified for centuries, and the player-heroes will notice that they look somewhat familiar, as if they were of human origin …
Anyone spending some time, like searching for treasure or desecrating the shrine, will have to roll a Corruption test.
Chamber of Guards and Statue Chamber
Several of the chieftain’s bodyguard were slain when he died and entombed in the antechamber to guard their king even in death. They lay in silent watch for centuries, until the Goblins stripped their remains of everything valuable und unceremoniously dropped them in the Antechamber.
A short corridor leads downward from the Chamber of Guards to the Statue Chamber. The room is small and dominated by the statue of the chieftain himself, clad in Wainrider armour and wielding sword and shield.
These are the main living quarters of the two Goblins. The Goblins receive a Perception (TN 14) roll versus the player-heroes’ Stealth (TN 20) rolls. It is very difficult to surprise them in their den …
If they hear the player-heroes, the Goblins hastily don their disguise and wait in the darkness of the Statue Chamber. As soon as someone enters, they will blow the horn of the Wainriders, which emits a dark, haunting sound, and begin to curse the player-heroes for defiling the resting place of a righteous king. The two voices crying in unison sound truly unearthly, and the player-heroes will have to make a Fear test. Those who fail will back up and may even flee the scene.
The Goblins are not keen to fight armed heroes, so they try to scare them away. If the company do not attack but try to talk, the Goblins will craft cunning lies and try to ensnare them with words. An Insight roll will reveal the ghost to be really strange and sow suspicions about his motives. With an Awareness roll, the player-heroes notice the comically short arms of the ghost, which do not fit the armour at all. If the company ask for a way to lay the ghost to rest, the Goblins will make up errands that need to be done. In theory, if the player-heroes are actually fooled, this could lead to some rather nonsensical quests …
But the most likely outcome is that the company finally realizes that the ghost is not undead at all. If they attack the ghost, the Goblins will split up and fight. Still, a fight against the two Goblins might prove surprisingly difficult:
- The low ceiling and cramped chambers prevent normal fighting from anyone larger than Hobbit or Goblin; add 2 to any attack roll made. Only one player-hero can engage each Goblin in melee due to the confined space. The rest can attack with ranged weapons from the rearward stance.
- The Goblins use the buried equipment, which is significantly better than weapons and armour of orcish make. Raise their Parry to six and their Armour to 4d; Their weapons are axes (Damage: 5; Edge: A;Injury: 18).
Adversaries: 2 Snaga Trackers
Getting into the main Burial Chamber will take some effort, as the ceiling of the entrance collapsed. Have the player-heroes roll Lore and Craft to determine the best way to open the blocked passage, using Athletics and Craft to do the actual work. They need to achieve 5 successes before they fail five rolls, or the rest of the ceiling caves in, too, burying the chamber for all time.
A sarcophagus sits directly across the entrance. It is large, measuring almost twelve feet by three feet. Its lid depicts the man that can be seen on the statue, laying on his back, covered with his shield and sword. If the player-heroes try to open the sarcophagus, have them roll Athletics (TN 18). Depending on their motivations, this can incur a Corruption check. If they manage to open it, they find the sarcophagus almost empty: a small urn contains the ashes of the chieftain, who has been burned in the fashion of his people and then interred in the tomb. His shield is split and his sword broken, both obviously by purpose.
Falling rocks have crushed most of the grave goods. A small pile of ancient coins is in one corner, obviously once stored in clay vases that have been shattered. The pictures are mostly of kings long forgotten, but there are some old coins minted by Gondor, too. A few scrolls and even books of vellum survived; unfortunately, they are written in the tongue of the Wainriders which is all but forgotten.
All in all, the coins and other grave goods are worth 3 Treasure Points per player-character.
The company basically has two options: telling the truth or acting as if they really encountered a ghost. The latter enforces the fears of the populace and might be worth a point of Shadow or two, depending on how they do it. If they tell the truth, most people are relieved, except for a few who refuse to believe that Goblins fooled them. The player-heroes are awarded respect for their courage and deeds, regardless of what tale they spin, and are always welcome in the ex-haunted lands.
Because the adventure is just a short side-trek, there should be no need for a prolonged Fellowship Phase.
© Markus Weber