Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dangerous Encounter: And Not A Drop To Drink

This encounter should be placed in an arid, desert location in the middle of The Badlands, miles from any fresh water source. Very little plantlife grows under the harsh unforgiving sun, and few animals call this area home. The PCs may need to cut across this desert to reach another location they're trying to find, or perhaps  they stumble into the area by accident. When it appears all is lost and they're about to run out of water and hope, they should come across a shanty village built in the middle of nowhere -- in fact, the village is named "Nowhere."

This small mining town has a population of 22 humans and mutants who scratch out a living mining for various minerals and ores. When the PCs arrive, the village is glad to share what little food and water they have in exchange for the PCs' help. When the village was first settled, the only water available came from a poisonous spring contaminated with parasites, toxins, and a thousand different contaminants. (Treat as Poison Class 8 if any PC is foolish enough to take a drink.) But the town's founders had brought several Quench with them (MF rules, page 90), which act as a natural water purifier. Since that day, the village has always had a small stockade of 20 Quench near the water supply, which is enough to provide everyone with fresh water.

Quench (20) (AL N, MV 60' (20'), AC 8, HD 2, #AT 1 (bite or claw), DM 1d2/1d4, SV L1, ML 4, mutations: none)

However, during the night 2 days ago, something made off with the village's Quench herd. Although the tracks leading from the pens appear animal-like in nature, there doesn't seem to be any blood or fur in the corral, meaning the thieves took the Quench herd alive. The remaining water supply is about to run dry unless the PCs can help. (Without water, the trek out of the desert is a death sentence anyway.) The miners can point out the direction that the tracks lead which seems to be straight into the flat, featureless Badlands. They can also provide one canteen of fresh water for the PCs to share on their journey.

If anyone has any tracking skills or ability to investigate the trail, the tracks seem to be made by several canine-like creatures. There are also a set of wheel tracks, perhaps from a cart or wagon that was pulled by the thieves. As they trudge deeper into the desert, unless they are on full alert, the PCs will be surprised by an attack from a hidden nest of Giant Scorpions near the edge of the trail (MF rules, page 93). Each Giant Scorpion has enough poison in their stingers for one venom attack. Anyone stung will die unless a save versus poison is made A successful save means the victim only takes 1d6 hit points of damage from the Class 12 poison.

Giant Scorpions (4) (AL C, MV 150' (50'), AC 2, HD 4, #AT 3 (2 claws/sting), DM 1d10/1d10/1d4/poison, SV L2, ML 11, mutations: gigantism, toxic weapon)

Shortly past the Giant Scorpion nest, the PCs will discover that the trail winds into a large gully in the desert floor. This crevasse in the earth is impossible to see from a distance and explains how the thieves can remain hidden from sight in spite of no apparent cover above ground. Cautiously following the trail into the small valley reveals an encampment of Encephalized Coyotes who have been living here. (MF rules, page 68)

Encephalized Coyotes (9) (AL C, MV 150' (50'), AC 6, HD 3, #AT 1 (bite or weapon), DM 1d6 or weapon, SV L3, ML 9, mutations: aberrant form, teleport)

The Encephalized Coyotes have just recently arrived in the area and have been spying on Nowhere. They had initially planned to attack the village, but realized the villagers easily had them outnumbered. They then came up with their plan to weaken the village by removing their source of fresh water. They could have simply slaughtered the Quench (which are now being kept in a corral in the Encephalized Coyotes' encampment), but they see the use these creatures have in purifying their own water source. They decided to keep them alive for now while they wait for the village to whither from thirst.

The PCs will need to deal with the Encephalized Coyotes without allowing the Quench to come to harm. (At least a dozen Quench are needed to keep Nowhere properly hydrated.) The Coyotes are all armed with Bygone Gauss Pistols (2d6 damage) they scavenged from a Bygone army bunker years ago, plus their ability to teleport makes them a "wily" foe. If the PCs are able to deal with the Coyotes, they will discover 450 gp the Coyotes had horded. They can also take the Gauss Pistols for their own. Using the same cart the Coyotes used, the PCs can then return the Quench to the village of Nowhere. The villagers will thank the PCs and will reward them with a satchel of iron and lead ores that will be worth 1,200 gp to nearly any trader they later encounter. The miners will also give each PC a Quench of his very own to use as a makeshift "waterskin" for their trip out of the desert as well as for future travels.

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