Adventurers of Sharn
Kyber's Harvest - Encounter 2
Encounter Level 2 ( 650 XP )
2 orc wardens (O)
2 cultist eyeblades (E)
Four champions of Belashyrra guard the entrance to the cult’s subterranean shrine.
As the PCs approach the area, read:
The clues you have gathered lead eventually to a weathered path. The foliage around you is dense and tough, with bloodvines winding around and between the darkwood trees, but the path you’re on is cleared and well worn. As you approach a sloping hill, you see a clearing open up around the mouth of a cave.
If the PCs were successful in the previous skill challenge, the burly orc wardens block the mouth of the cavern while the cultist eyeblades hide among the trees (Perception DC 19 to spot them). If the PCs failed the skill challenge, all four guards have been warned of their possible approach and are out of sight in the trees. They cannot be spotted by the PCs, and they attack with surprise when the first party member passes close enough.
If the PCs can see the orc wardens, read:
Two villagers stand watch by the mouth of the cave—heavyset orc woodcutters, their axes at the ready.
Whether they succeeded or failed at the skill challenge, the PCs can attempt to approach using stealth, but the guards are keeping a sharp watch. The wardens have passive Perception checks of 18, while the eyeblades have passive Perception checks of 19.
The cult likes to keep a low profile, and if the party succeeded in the initial skill challenge, the wardens are not automatically hostile. When the PCs are within speaking range, the wardens call out to tell them the cave is being used for a private religious ceremony. If questioned at a distance, they say that they know nothing about any cult or missing villagers, then firmly ask the PCs to leave. They attack when the first PC approaches within 5 squares.
BLUFFING THE GUARDS
If the PCs found the holy symbol in Encounter 1, they can attempt to pass themselves off as foreign cultists who have come for the Harvest. This requires an improvised skill challenge. If they are aware of the presence of a changeling in the town, a password (Belashyrra) is established to keep out intruders.
Complexity: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Bluff, Intimidate, Religion.
All checks are DC 15; a PC cannot make an Intimidate check until the party has made a successful Religion check to establish their fake identity.
Success: The characters are allowed to enter the cave unopposed. They gain XP as if they’d defeated the guards in combat.
Failure: The guards see through the PCs’ ruse and attack.
Once battle is joined, the orc wardens close quickly. They use Belashyrra’s eye to keep foes from engaging the eyeblades, laying into the closest PCs with greataxe attacks. The eyeblades engage the PCs from range for as long as they can, targeting marked PCs for combat advantage. When challenged, they flank with short sword attacks for combat advantage.
One of the orc wardens possesses a tongueworm (see page 19) that he uses when bloodied. This cord of muscle lashes out from his mouth to strike an opponent. This should catch the PCs by surprise, as they realize the guards are not the simple farmers they appear to be.
At first glance, the orc wardens appear to be village militia— potentially dangerous, but not obviously connected to the Cults of the Dragon Below. (Their holy symbols are tucked beneath their lizard-hide armor.)
The human eyeblades are a different matter. They are dressed in loose black clothing and their daggers are chipped from glittering volcanic glass—the same material the holy symbols are made from. Each eyeblade has a leather cord wrapped around its wrist, threaded through a number of mummified eyes—trophies claimed from previous victims.
If the PCs search the bodies of their defeated foes, each cultist possesses at least one additional eye somewhere on his body (Perception DC 17).
A character knows the following information about the cult with a successful skill check.
Religion DC 20: The Cults of the Dragon Below are splintered into dozens of sects, each following a different dark power. The theme of eyes found on these cultists suggests that this sect serves the daelkyr Belashyrra—called the Lord of Eyes, and said to have created the beholders.
Additionally, if the cultists in this or any later encounter are taken alive and interrogated, they reveal the story of the Harvest. Paraphrase the information given in the “Background” section (page 1). Within hours, Doria Veledaar and a number of other villagers taken for the rites will be claimed by the Lord of Eyes.
Features of the Area
Illumination: Bright light if the PCs approach by day. At night, two smoky torches at the cave mouth provide bright light in a 5-square radius.
Foliage: The area shown is a clearing. Beyond the edges of the map, thick foliage and protruding roots create difficult terrain.
Treasure: One of the orc wardens possesses a tongueworm symbiont (see page 19) that the PCs can claim. Between them, the cultists are carrying 60 gp. Each of the cultists wears a holy symbol like the one in the Veledaar cottage. Note whether anyone takes these symbols and what they do with them. A character who wears a symbol openly is protected from threats in Encounters 4 and 5, but wearing a symbol under clothing or carrying it in a belt pouch or pack provides no benefit.