The Troll Caves at Gohl Dhag'ron
An adventure originally conceived by Jim Magnusson, translated and completed by Jim Magnusson with help from Anders Bohlin and Jonas Håkansson.
This adventure should be possible to fit into most underground dwarven societies, or just about anywhere where you could place a trollridden grotto. This is an introductory adventure to “dvärgatid”, a free swedish dwarf mini RPG (driven by any system of your choice and is by no means necessary in any way) and it's free for any mountainleader (GM/ML/SL) to edit and add howsoever he or she feel like it. Its been translated and completed for “Erik Tenkars Free Fanzine” which seem to have been delayed for a while. (see Tenkars Tavern)
The story so far: A few years ago there was a cave-in that caused a lot of damage and a few casualties in the old parts of the dwarven fortress. Many dwarves moved out of the area to new and safer habitats. Some old owls however remained. This story begins with just such an owl; more accurately an old dwarf called Haugert Whiteeyes of clan Farthumlin.
In his youth Haugert was a great blacksmith and warrior, known for his large war hammer Quogranbaal (“Stormslayer”). Time passed and eventually Farthumlin retired and put his hammer on the shelf in his treasury which is believed to be a magnificent place. He had over the years served the kingdom bravely and his merchandise had alwayes been considered to be of the finest quality.
Then came the cave-in and Haugert lived in the middle of the affected area. His home is now in ruins, but he refuses to move and is now a very bitter old dwarf even by Dwarvish eyes, which says a lot. To add to this the tunnel down to his treasury has collapsed and Haugert is too old and his sight is too poor for him to attempt the difficult task of digging up the goodies.
Now it just so happens that there's a back door but Haugert is well aware that goblins have moved into the area which therfore has been classified as a prohibited area. It is considered too dangerous and unnecessary to clear them out.
Usually the cliche of stating an adventure with the characers sitting in an inn should be avoided. But dwarves beeing dwarves and as a dwarf drinking mead could not be cosidered out of place let’s start the adventure in an inn.
The group is approached by a young man (dwarf of course) that presents himself as Groth. He says that he comes with word from an old dwarf named Haugert, that wants to meet with them. He tells them that Haugert who lives in the old quarters of the dwarven settlement is prepared to offer a few gold coins if they just are to hear his story.
Groth: Is a young dwarf who is a child of one of Haugerts old comrades. Groth usually delivers food and supplies to the old dwarf and it was on one of these occasions that Haugert asked him to contact the group.
The characters must travel through a dilapidated part of the fortress to reach Haugerts house. It's quite run down but you can see that it was once a beautiful house that stood three floors high against a rock wall in the cave block. Wooden double doors with copper decorations can be seen at the top of the stout stairs.
If the characters knock on his door it's Haugert himself who opens. He is very sullen and suspicious but his mood brightens a bit when he hears who the visitors are. He tells the story of the treasury and his lost relics and how he will pay well to have them returned to him. To reach the treasury they have to go to a place called the troll caves at Gohl Dhag'ron, a couple of caves beyond an old bridge where goblins moved in since a while back.
The Key: He also gives the characters a great and magnificent key made from beautiful metal.
The journey to the caves
One must trudge a bit to get to the caves. It can be quite dangerous if you happen to bump into something bigger down there, but the road there would otherwise be considered to be quite safe compared to the dangerous areas that are also hidden there in the mountain.
Roll 1D8; on a roll of 1-2 the party encounter something that has found its way up through the caves at the fort.
- Giant Spiders "You notice how the cave corridor in front of you is covered by some sort of web." If the characters approach the web the spiders will try to encircle the group before they attack. They climb in the shadows on the ceiling to get into position. With a successful Perception check you can see the spiders up there but a player should should ask about it first. 1D4 +2 Giant Spiders .HD: 1:special: A weak Poison
- Goblins 1D6 Goblins
- Taerth the Feral Many years ago so Taerth lost his way and came to the troll caves and fell down the precipice and hurt himself badly. He has lived a long time in the dark, eating what he could find and is now completely insane and wild. Taerth is dressed in rags and armed with knives he’s made out of goblin bones. Taerth HD: 4 (Taerth doesn’t want to fight to the death, instead he’ll try to escape if he feels that things are going badly)
- Romdrath (A nasty Dragon Worm)
- giant rats 1D8 rats are out hunting for food. Roll 1D6: 1-3 The rats will flee if confronted with torches. 4-6 The rats are rabid from hunger and will fight to the last drop of blood.
- Zombies! A few stray zombies from some unholy place have finally found the scent of brain and are going up towards the fortress to spread their horrible infection! Zombie Number: 2D4 HD: 2
Arriving at the Troll Caves
The Troll Caves of Gohl Dhag’ron are a few caves in two levels beyond a large crevice. It is infested with a couple of trolls and a small band of goblins. One or another spider, rat and bat of various sizes at times try to make a home for itself but mostly they end up as snacks for the trollls.
1. First ledge The cave leads down to a large gorge, roughly 15 meters across. A large wooden bridge extends over to the other side. It is at least 50 meters down to the bed of craggy rocks down below. Two sturdy wooden poles have been raised on both sides of the bridge. A couple of heavy hemp ropes are wrapped around the these poles and tied in a similiar manner to a pair of poles on the ledge on the other side. A closer look at the bridge reveals it's some kind of hybrid construction, a blend between suspension bridge and regular bridge. One might conclude that cutting the ropes would make the bridge able to withstand much less weight rather than making it collapse right away.
There is a strong wind current in this large cave.
Roll 1D6 1-3 There is a lit fire in room 4. A huge crouching form can be seen in front of the fireplace. 4-6 The fire in room 4 is not lit.
2. The Bridge across Sure it's a creaking old bridge but it seems stable enough to allow a group of adventurers to pass (after all the trolls and goblins have managed to walk on it).
- From the bridge one could spot the shamanistic fetishes further ahead (see 3)
3. Second ledge. You can clearly see the ledge extending about 10 meters to the right and the same to the left beyond the bridge. Directly in front of the bridge and the ledge is the large cave opening into room 4. If the earlier roll indicated that the fire was lit (see 1) a mountain troll sits on a large tree trunk in front of a big fire.
- On the second ledge in the area of the cave entrance a shaman has erected some "fetishes" - which in this case is a bunch of sticks, skulls and bones (both animal and humanoid) tied to a pole on both sides of the entrance. Maybe to protect against bad omens and scare away trespassers.
1D6; 1-2. The fetishes are useless 3-4. If they touch the fetishes the goblin shaman will sense the trespassers. 1D6 goblins are sent to investigate. 5-6. If they touch the fetishes a troll shaman will sense the trespassers. 1D2 trolls will investigate.
4. The Dining Room This is where the trolls gather to eat. They normally sit on the two large logs (they’re Silver oak to be precise) and between them they have a big fire with a skewer they thrust any poor victim that they come across onto. The last thing to be roasted on the skewer was a giant rat.
- If anyone takes a closer look the room is full of gnawed bones of all sizes from all sorts of wild animals that have crossed paths with the hungry trolls. One or another poor adventurer surely has some parts of his or her skeleton mixed with the carcasses from spiders, rats, snakes and pigs. The trolls really don’t seem too picky about what they eat.
- If the trolls aren’t here they may be found in rooms 5 or 7 or wandering the halls.
- A bag is leaning against one of the logs among the bones and dirt. An adventurer had it with him before he met his fate.The trolls havn’t given it any attention, it has just been thrown in the trash. The bag is in leather and drab from dust and the passage of time. A decorative rose adorns the front. Roll 1D6; 1. it contains a decorative dagger! It must be worth a small fortune (compared to most other daggers at least). 2. two potions of healing! 3. A bag of coins! 4. A couple of rotten apples. 5. A map showing the way to some fabulous place. 6. A comb, a scarf and a make-up kit.
- Mountain Troll; These hulking monster are very hard to defeat. Maybe it’d be better for smart players to avoid them? HD: 6
5. The trolls’ sleeping chamber The trolls sleep here while they are not out hunting or eating. Along the walls, they’ve strewn brushwood, rags and hay to make it really cozy.
- A huge clay jug is half buried in the straw. It’s filled with a disgusting filth of an alcoholic beverage the trolls have brewed in collaboration with the goblins. It tastes like it smells, and will probably kill anyone who doesn’t have the stomach for it.
6. The troll hoard The trolls usually only care about eating, sleeping and drinking and they have carried all the loot and rubbish they have collected over time to this room. The goblins have taken the most shiny and useful stuff and most parts left are either damaged or useless.
7. The Goblin chambers
A small tribe of goblins make their home here. They make an easy living and they do not really care for decorating. There should be at least 1D8 goblins in this room at any time. There is a small chance that a troll is here visiting too - roll 1D4-2 to see if there is any trolls present (on a result of minus or zero there is no troll).
- A large lattice of thick sturdy wood is placed over a hole in the middle of the room. The goblins themselves can’t move this lattice becauseof it’s weight. They usually ask the trolls for help when they want to move it.
- The hole leads to 7b, the prison cell. The goblins love to have some prisoners around, be it for fresh food or entertainment. They should even be smart enough to know that a prisoner is perfect to have for leverage in negotiations and any other contact with the surrounding folks, be it dwarf or human.
- The prisoner of the day is 1. Lucilda. A young woman from a farm in the surrounding area. 2. Gnort. A tinkering man of the moles. A great expert on fungus. 3. Mark. A human ranger. 4. Hulgmild. A dwarven brewerer caught by the goblins while he was traveling with his big barrels of mead to the mines. 5. Rariiria. An elven teacher. 6. Frachash. A goblin warrior from a rival tribe, all smeared in clay.
8. Prisoner Corridor
The goblins use this corridor while fetching prisoners from room 7b. They usually hang around the western part of the room, guarding the prisoners.
- In the northwestern part of this area there is a wooden door leading to the prison room. (See7b)
- In the southwest of the room is a short hallway and a winding staircase up to room 5
- In the south-eastern part of the room, there is a ledge that extends up to a wider corridor that goes to room 5. The ledge is about five feet tall.
9. Backdoor Here's the back door to the treasury. This room, that is more like a small cavity in the end of the cave leading here, has a minor stairway leading up to a small platform. Two pillars with dwarven faces ingraved on them stand on each side of the door on the platform. The door seem to be very durable and has some scratches. A few splinters have been hacked off during the futile attempts to open it by force.
- The key that the characters previously got fits into the lock which opens the sturdy and highly durable door leading into the treasure chamber. On more than one occasion the trolls and goblins have attempted to open the door, but they soon grew weary and tired of trying.
- The actual keyhole is not on the door itself. A dwarf would not want to make it easy to get in through the back door to his treasury. The key hole can be found in the mouth of one of the ingravings on the left pillar.
10. Treasury Here's the treasury containing among other things the legendary Quogranbaal. This old weapon will feel great in any hands and it will be a shame to give it back to that old dwarf. There is at least 1D4 other things of note here.
1. Some heavy bars of pure silver 2. Pieces of armor of great quality fitting any dwarf of the right size. 3. Weapons of great dwarven quality (1-6 axes, 1-6 hammers) 4. some even heavier bars of gold! 5. Haugerts complete suit of dwarven armor. Decorative and superb! 6. A chest containing a small fortune.
A small area of two squares has been left open on purpose for a secret passage on the north wall. This door could lead to any kind of future adventure. But then again if you are satisfied with how it is you just let that wall be a wall and nothing else.