Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Obelisk - Caretakers Cottage


3. The Caretaker's Cottage
This building appears to be of ancient ceramic polymer construction and was originally a storage shed for the obelisk's gardeners. It now looks like a pleasantly quaint cottage, with a thatch roof and several glass windows; however, on closer inspection it hasn't been repaired in sometime with dead decorative flowers in the widow boxes, peeling paint and moldy thatch. The cottage is shielded from the entry path by a line of thick trees, but at night a ghostly pinkish light from it's front window can be seen from the obelisk (Area 2).  The undead caretaker haunts the cottage at Bezonaught's command and leads Bezonaught's ghouls. He was killed by the cultists because he refused to run off and instead sniped at them from the trees with his crossbow and spells.

Bezonaught is strong here and he will speak through the undead within the cottage if the PC's actions appear to be helpful to him (they have already killed off several of cultists), otherwise the god will encourage his minions to slay any humanoid nearby, so they will rise as ghouls to help thwart the cultists. Even if Bezonaught decides not to kill the PC's the Caretaker and his minions will remain hostile and a reaction roll is required each time they are encountered.  The ghouls are generally frustrated as while they can easily overcome the cultists, even the whole pack as trouble with only a few zombies who are immune to ghoul paralysis.  Despite their strength and cunning they have been reduced to hit and run attacks, attempting to drag a victim or two off to bolster their numbers.

3a. Living Room
Medical Drawings from Edo period Japan
This room was once the main room of a cozy cottage inhabited by the caretaker, a lonely, learned and morbid hedge-warlock. The Caretaker's solid wood furniture and book collection have mostly been destroyed. Either looted by the cultists or smashed in the ghouls periodic rages. The Caretaker's books are now scattered about the room, many torn or defaced with obscene and enraged charcoal scribblings. The hearth is filled with cracked and burnt human bones, leftover form the Caretaker and his minions' meals.

The boogeyman Caretaker lairs here, and, if not killed elsewhere, will be here brooding, defacing books, and giggling disconcertingly. The Caretaker appears as a newly dead man (the right side of his face is obviously staved in by a club or mace) wearing stained leathers and ragged county-man's clothes. The flesh of his fingers and lower face have receded or been chewed away leaving a rotted black slime and turning his fleshless fingers and gumless mouth into boney weapons. He fights with a rusty hand axe and his paralyzing bite.

Two ghouls, an ex-gravedigger and the former priestess of Bezonaught, also inhabit this room where they shuffle about mimicking domestic tasks. Both are relatively intact as they were raised by Bezonaught, but both suffer from the same black rot on the extremities and jaw that mark the Caretaker. The priestess limps from the mace blow that shattered her pelvis and killed her (Move 20') and she will not leave the Cottage because of this infirmity. Otherwise she is an exceptionally strong ghoul and retains almost as much intelligence as the Caretaker.

The Caretaker is a tactically sophisticated opponent. He will use his special abilities intelligently and while driven by his undead hunger to devour the living and rage to raise new recruits for Bezonaught's cause, he will not stay to fight when clearly over-matched. He will use his spells either to end a fight quickly, as with a sleep spell, or to sow confusion and escape, by casting fear/darkness to cover an escape for him and as many of his minions as possible (preferably with fresh corpses or the incapacitated to eat and raise later as ghouls). The Caretaker will also take advantage of his ability to counter-spell enemy magic-users that present a problem if he is not forced to engage in melee. The ghouls in room 3c chaff at the Caretaker's rule and are likely to pretend not to hear any combat in the Living Room. They will delay coming to the Caretaker's aid for 1D4 rounds. The Caretaker may be counter-spelled , and if he is he will focus his attacks on the counter-spelling magic-user.

Caretaker, AC 4, HD4 [Turn as 5] (hp18), #AT 2, D(1D6/1d3+paralysis), MV ('40) Save MU3, ML9, rusted hand axe, leather armor, 24 sp, scroll of Mirror Image.

Ghouls, AC 6, HD3 [Turn as 4](hp 15, 8), #AT 3, D(1D3+paralysis x3), MV ('40) Save F4, ML9. Gold Holy Symbol of Bezonaught (3,000gp), 12sp, 4cp

In addition to the scroll carried by the caretaker (which he cannot cast from) there are 540 sp and 300gp concealed in a small urn on the mantle.
3b. Equipment Room
The tools and supplies necessary for the upkeep of the memorial grounds are stored in this room, it is dark and the ancient polymer ceramic of the back wall has sagged with age. There are numerous straw packed crates filled with offering jars (sold by the caretaker in better days), a mostly empty tool rack, various supply barrels, wheelbarrow, kiln and small forge filling this room.

Hidden in a cask of apples is a bundle of six +1 silver crossbow bolts of Ghost Slaying (3D6 to non-corporeal undead). Each bolt is marked with a tiny cold iron inlay of a feather.

Log Trap: The ghouls, wary of attack from the side door, have trapped the door here with a swinging log that has old tools hammered into it. The log attacks the first person opening the door as a 4HD monster and does 1D8 damage. It cannot be easily disarmed from the outside, but can be detected normally. If the door is opened and quickly shut, the trap will slam against the door harmlessly. Setting this trap off will alert any ghouls in the cottage, and they will be waiting ready to attack in area 3a two rounds after the trap goes off. A ghoul from 3c will investigate if nothing happens (including the noise of searching) for three turns. He will be ready to rush back into 3a if he meets opposition.

3c. Work Room
The Caretaker spent much of the warm season in this room, keeping records of the grounds, and tinkering on magical and craft projects. A desk with and jewelers tools and writing instruments sits under the three ancient porthole windows in the East wall. The Caretaker's projects are scattered about, including several taxidermy of albino graveyard rats (worthless), eleven strange dolls made of human finger bones, beads and silver wire (10 gp each to a collector of the macabre). The Caretaker's Spellbook rests on the desk open to a page containing a drawing of a maggot and an couplet about decay that fails to rhyme.

The less favored ghoul minions of the caretaker have been exiled to this room and commanded to stay put. They crouch in the far corner waiting to spring on anyone opening the door, ravenous but resenting the caretaker's mastery. The two ghouls here are recent cultist victims of the caretaker and look like fresh corpses, but with much of the flesh of their faces chewed off. Black corruption has melted the flesh from their hands leaving only boney claws. They still wear cult cowls and torn copper scale mail shirts.

Caretaker's Spellbook 
This is a pocket sized journal of 48 thick rag pages.  The book is mostly a handwritten collection of the caretakers musing about death and the memorial grounds with selections of poetry about skeletons, sketches of mourning pilgrims and morbid pseudo-mystical blather. It also contains the caretaker's eclectic dabbler's grimore: Read Magic, Sleep, Floating Disc, Ventriloquism, Dancing Lights, False Gold and Magic Mouth.

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