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Jacob originally published this on the old, now-defunct White Wolf forum, and is kind enough to let us reprint it here.
The Adventure of the Three Hags
By Jakob Klunder
This is an Adventure that I made for my group and when I was writing it, I decided to write it out in such a way that it can be used by other gaming groups.
Now, my group has four players, which is why there are three hags. If you have a different number, you might want to change the number of hags.
I am setting this Adventure in 531, so my player knights will have 14-point partial plate, shields and at least three of them are Chivalrous, giving them 3 more points of armor, so 6d6 isn't something that will normally take them down in one fell swoop. You might want to scale down the hags' damage if you're setting it earlier or most of your group aren't chivalrous.
Finally, the Adventure hinges on the player knights taking an interest in the plight of some peasants. I know mine will do that, but you might need to change the way the characters are introduced to the scenario, based on your group.
The purpose if this Adventure is to teach my players two things; the most important is that monofocussing on sword and lance is dangerous - some versatility is sometimes diserable in the enchanted Britain they're now roaming around in. At least two of my player knights have a Sword skill of 20+ and none of them have ever invested anything in learning a backup, but when you look at knights like Lamorak and Gawaine, they have at least a bit of training in other weapons.
The second thing is that DEX is not as much a dump stat as some of the players sometimes thing. Sure, most of the time, they use Horsemanship for Knockdown rolls and so, DEX is almost never used, but I wanted to show them that since they're entering an age of Adventure, rather than constant war, they might want to think about a DEX above 10 for their next character.
On to the Adventure. It's likely to be filled with typos and while I will try to get some kind of formatting in there.
You might want to skip down to the very bottom first and read about the hags to get an idea of what the Adventure is all about.
The characters are in Clarence, just south of the Cotswold Hills. Coming over a small rise, the look down upon a typical manor, with an attached village and fields. Nearby, a man, obviously a peasant, is tied to a tree and is being whipped by a liveried soldier, while a knight on horseback looks on. Another peasant is lying on the ground, his back exposed, raw and bleeding. A little off to the side, two women, two girls around 12-13 and a boy of maybe 10 are standing, guarded by more soldiers. They are also obviously peasants and look very frightened – the women are crying trembling, the girls are crying and the boy is hiding his face.
The players can attempt a Recognize or Heraldry roll, +2, to identify the knight as Sir Merwyn, a pretty standard knight of these parts, with a reputation for valor.
Should the characters decide to ignore this and ride on, have the players roll Merciful. Anyone who succeeds cannot just ride by, without inquiring what is going on.
If anyone who considers something foolish along the lines of an attack, have everyone roll Prudent or Just, +5. Success means they know better than to attack a knight simply for having peasants whipped.
Sir Merwyn greets the characters amicably. Have him roll his Heraldry of 5, plus whatever bonus he gets from the characters’ Glory, to see if he can identify them. He will be awed if they are of high Glory, members of the Round Table, Barons or in some other way of great importance.
If the characters demand the whipping stopped, Sir Merwyn looks perplexed and ask; “Whyever for? These peasants have transgressed against me.” The whipping does not stop, unless the characters start to be threatening, in which case Sir Merwyn calls it off to explain.
Should the characters ask why the peasants are being whipped, Sir Merwyn will explain that they are sheepherders belonging to the village of Rock Hill, which belongs to a nearby monastery. The sheepherders allowed their sheep to wander into Sir Merwyn’s land, where they ate a good deal of the grain in the fields and trampled his sister’s flower garden. Anyone can roll Courtesy +5 or Justice to realize that Sir Merwyn is dealing out fair punishment.
Sir Merwyn is adamant that the second peasant receives a full 50 lashes. If anyone inquires as to the women and children, he will explain that they ought to be punished, but that he cannot bring himself to have them whipped. If they characters offer to pay for the damage to spare the second peasant the rest of his lashes, Sir Merwyn politely says that he has the money needed to take care of it and that these peasants will never learn if not by the lash.
Anyone who threatens violence or starts violence against Sir Merwyn and his soldiers receive a Merciful and Arbitrary check and lose 1 point of Honor for siding with peasants against a fellow knight. Anyone challenging Merwyn to combat in order to stop the flogging earns a Merciful and Arbitrary check and has Sir Merwyn exclaim; “I will not fight a fellow knight over the fate of peasants! This is my land, good sir, and I ask that you remember the rules of hospitality.” Any further provocation or violence now also results in a loss of a point of Hospitality.
Should the characters decide to talk to the peasants, they hear the following tale, no matter who they ask; “Noble sirs, we did not mean to cause grief to this lord. Normally, we graze our sheep in the Stony Hills. However, the Knight’s Bane hags have started killing sheepherders and so we have had to find other places for our sheep to wander and we are not enough to always keep the best eye on them.”
Further inquiries are met with a suggestion to go to the village of Rock Hill, an hour’s ride northwest, and to ask there. The sheepherders have no time to explain further, as they must now round up their sheep or they will be in trouble with the monastery their village belongs to. The characters cannot help them round up the sheep without losing 2 points of Honor for doing peasant work.
The village of Rock Hill is easy to find, nestled against a particularly rocky section of the Cotswold Hills known locally as the Stony Hills. The village is almost empty, since most of the villagers are out tending to their sheep, but the characters can find and old, nearly blind peasant who is the village headman. He can give them a fuller account of the trouble.
“Even since I can remember, the Stony Hills have been the home of four hags called the Knight’s Bane. They killed all knights who ventured into them hills, but they left us common folks and our sheep alone. But then, last year, some young Saxon knight went up there and from what his squire said, before he ran off to the monastery, the knight actually managed to kill one of the hags. Then the rest of them got together and killed him and now, the hags kill anything they can find, sheep, peasant or knight.”
The squire in question was almost mad with fear and the villagers know that he went to the monastery, took a vow of silence and became a wandering friar. They don’t know where he is now.
The villagers have some of the knight’s things, carried down by his squire. They are stored in a cellar and include a rusted set of reinforced chain, a rusted axe, a rusted sword and a heavily tarnished shield. A Heraldry roll, -5, can identify the shield as belonging to Sir Uhtred, one of those young Saxon knights who do not remember Badon Hill but have sword themselves not only to Arthur, but to the old Saxon ideals.
The villagers can explain that the hags often stay in a natural cave up in the hills – it’s about 1½ days walk. If they characters ask how far it is to ride, the peasants look bewildered, as they don’t have horses. If the players ask how far it is to ride, tell them that it is impossible to know, since the rockiness of hills mean they might not be able to ride all that much. The peasants can easily describe the way to the cave.
When the characters set off into the hills, ask if there’s just one of them leading or if they are all looking for the way to peasants described. If only one is leading, his player rolls Survival -3. On a critical success, he knows he is on the right way. On a success, he is sure he is on the right way. On a failure, he is not sure about the way and ends up getting the group lost. On a fumble, he is sure about the way, but gets the group totally lost.
If everyone is looking for landmarks, then everyone rolls Survival -3 and there’s the chance of a lot of arguing over which way to go.
If the characters follow the lead of someone who successfully made their Survival roll, then they arrived at the described location in 1½ days, without any trouble except having to walk their horses a good deal of the way. Should they veer off course, feel free to have them encounter some nasty denizens of the hills – or get caught outside in a rainstorm. Eventually, they will find their way back to the village or, with a critical success on a Hunting rolls, on the right track again.
The cave in question is more like a thick ledge of rock, jutting out over a shallow hollow in the hillside. It lies along a piece of broken path that the character can ride over if they do not gallop. As soon as the characters approach the cave, have each of them make Awareness rolls. Those who make the rolls are not surprised, while those who do not are, and so do not get the cover bonus for their shields.
The hags are not in the cave, but rather above it, on the rock ledge, and they have an arsenal of boulder that they toss down on the knights. They will target the biggest knights, unless one of them clearly carries a weapon other than a sword.
There are two ways up to the ledge, on either side of the cave. These are steep, narrow, scree-filled paths with rock walls on either side, so only one knight at a time can climb up.
If the knights are mounted, have each of them roll Horsemanship. A successful roll means the character dismounts quickly and is ready to climb next round, while a failed roll means the character spends one round to dismount and one round to get to the paths. If there’s a race, have the players contest their characters’ Energetic to see who gets to the paths first. Remember, there are two places to climb.
Climbing the path requires a DEX roll, modified by armor. A success or critical success means the character makes to the top in one round and is ready for battle the next, as well as allowing anyone behind him to get up there in the same round. A failure means the character makes it 1/3rd the way up (so three failures gets someone to the top), while a fumble sends the character tumbling to the bottom, taking anyone behind him along and inflicting 1 point of damage, irrespectively of armor. Being hit by a boulder and suffering knockdown also sends someone down the slope. While climbing, characters cannot use their shields as cover, so the hags do not get -5 to their skill.
The hags will focus their boulders on the lead climbers and/or anyone not armed with a sword. If one or more knights reach the top on one side, while knights are still climbing on the other, then one hag will stay to throw boulders on that side, while the rest rush the knight(s) who made it up there.
Either at the very beginning or later, after trying to climb or even trying to fight the hags, the characters might decide to draw them down off their plateau. This is easily done by drawing out of range of their boulders. Each hag must roll their Hate (Knights) and anyone who makes it then climbs down. If even one hag climbs down, they all do, in order to attack together.
The stretch of path in front of the cave is only broad enough for two horses to be side-by-side (but big enough for four people) and in any case, it is not advisable to try a lance charge there – anyone contemplating it should roll Horsemanship or Prudent, +5, in order to realize that there’s a good chance a charging horse will stumble and break its leg. If a knight insists on charging, have him roll Horsemanship -10 before the power of the hags kick in. If this is failed, his horse falls, throwing him, and it must succeed a Con roll not to be lamed. If the Horsemanship roll is fumbled, then the horse falls and is automatically lame. If the roll succeeds, then the lance charge gets close enough for the hags’ anti-horse power (see below) to kick in.
Not far from the cave, there is a relatively large, relatively flat piece of land, where the knights could mount a full lance charge. If the knights try to pull the hags all the way down there, repeat the Hate (Knights) roll once to see if any of them follow and once again, if just one go, they all go. However, they keep hurling insults of cowardice at the retreating knights for the full three rounds it takes to get down to the flat area. After two rounds of this, all knights must contest their Prudent or Suspicious against their Proud or Honor (whichever is higher). If Proud/Honor wins, they cannot abide these insults and either charge or at least ride up to do battle. They can try a Prudent roll each round to go back to retreating.
If the characters succeed in killing the hags, they can search the cave, where they find piles of rusted old knightly equipment, as well as mounds of bones, human, sheep and horse. In addition to some shields and items with heraldry on them (rings, decorated swords, etc.) that families would probably like returned, each character can find 1d2£ worth of valuables with no clear owner.
Ending the menace of Knight’s Bane nets each character 200 Glory, in addition to whatever combat brings. Bringing back the personal effects found in the cave gives a check to Honor.
It is entirely possible that the characters are not able to defeat the hags, especially if they have never trained any other weapons except sword and lance. This is quite fair and something of an object lesson. They might decide to come back later, once they have learned to use other weapons, or they may give up on the Adventure, in which case it is up to the GM who finally solves it. It could be interesting if it were rivals or enemies of the player knights or possibly a group of young (Saxon?) knight, who can now boast that they could do what the players could not.
The hags and their story
Once, the hags were beautiful, young sisters who lived with their parents in the Stony Hills. Their lives were simple, but joyful. All this came to an end when a band of evil knights came through. These blackguards killed the parents and made sport with the sisters before riding off, laughing. Embittered, the four sisters went to a crevasse so deep that it went all the way to hell. Here, the called for the Devil and offered their souls and their beauty if only they could become “the bane of all knights.” The Devil granted their wish and made them into hags, as well as making them immune to swords (the weapon of knights) and giving them the ability to frighten horses (constant companions of knights). For decades, they have been roaming the Stony Hills, killing all knights whom they came across, but leaving the peasants and their sheep alone.
Last year, a young Saxon knight named Uhtred went to the hills to look for adventure. He encountered one of the hags and since his weapon of choice was an axe, rather than a sword, he was able to kill her. The other three hags felt the loss of their sister and together, they attacked Uhtred, who was killed. Since then, the surviving three hags have not only stayed together instead of roaming separately, they have also started killing everyone and everything they meet, as revenge for the death of their sister.
Stony Hills Hag
Glory Won 200; SIZ 13, DEX 15, STR 20, CON 20, APP 3, Move 6; Armor 6 (leathery skin); Unconscious 8; Major Wound 20; Knockdown 13; Hit Points 33; Damage 6d6 (Two-handed black iron staff, does not break in combat) or 4d6 (hurled boulder)
Combat Skills: Staff 16, Boulder 14, Dagger 6
Passions: Hate (Knights) 16
Skills: Awareness 12, Hunting 12
Equipment: Black iron staff, tattered robes, dagger
Valorous Modifier: -5
Special: All three hags are immune to damage from swords (and two-handed swords). They can be knocked down by them, but they take no damage.
All three hags are frightening to horses. Anyone trying to lance charge them must make a Horsemanship roll, -10, or the horse panics, tosses its rider and tears off away from the hags. Even if the roll is successful, the charge is at -5, negating the +5 bonus normally given to a lance charge against something other than another charge. Anyone trying to fight on horseback against the hags must make a Horsemanship roll -10 to get the horse close to them and then roll Horsemanship -5 each round before attacking. If this roll is failed, the knight spends the entire turn controlling his horse. If it is a critical failure, he is thrown and the horse flees. Also, the skittishness of the horse gives the mounted character a -5 to their combat skill. The hags always attack the horses of mounted enemies.
All three hags gain +5 to their DEX when trying to climb anything in the Stony Hills.