Sunday, December 12, 2010

[D20cember] J is for Just a Couple of Bugbears

Just a Couple of Bugbears: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Labyrinth Lord adventure set in the Ashford Valley.

Get Ready:
A band of really tough Bugbears is threatening the trade route between Ashford and Tradetown. At least that's the common knowledge. Actually, it's a pair of rather cowardly but ingenious Bugbears that have scared off their victims before even fighting has occurred, then taken the loot.

Get Set:
The PCs are either in Ashford town or Tradetown when they hear that a strong band of Bugbears are wandering the High Bridge Road, robbing caravans and killing people. So far no one has managed to stop them.

If the PCs ask around, they meet several merchants and travelers that were robbed but can find no one that was actually killed except by friend of a friend anecdotes. When pressed, the victims admit that they fled the scene, leaving behind valuables in the hopes the ’bears would be more interested in that then their lives.

The latest victim said that the sound of marching Bugbear feet was heard in the woods to the east of the road as a flight of arrows came from the west. He fled, leaving his cart, before they burst through the bushes and killed him. He even shows the PCs a Bugbear arrow (it is indeed that) that lodged in his horse's saddle.

How the PCs encounter the ’bears is up to the GM. If they want to investigate the scenes of the crime, they find no clues on the road itself but in the bushes along the road they find a set of wheel tracks on each side, staggered along the road.

The Bugbears, Sash and Tash, are weaker than usual ’bears and got sick of being pushed around at the bottom of the heap. Between the two of them, they're pretty mechanically inclined so they build their own tribe of ’bears, complete with Sturm und Drang.

They built two machines, one that makes the sound of many large and heavy (hence ’bear) feet marching and the other uses a spring-board to shoot a sheaf of arrows at the target. These machines are very crude but effective. The boot machine does no damage (unless trapped amidst the boots - 2d4 damage per round) while the spring-board arrow flinger attacks as a Level 5 Fighter with 20 arrows, affecting a 20 by 20 foot area (divide the arrows among the targets and roll to hit, 1d8+1 damage per hit). The arrow machine takes 2 rounds to reload if there is a loaded arrow magazine (the ’bears have one extra) and much, much longer if there isn't.

Sash is in charge of the boot machine and Tash works the arrow machine. When they set up their ambush, they make sure they are not in each others' line of fire. After Tash sets off the arrow machine, he quickly reloads (2 rounds) with the extra arrow magazine and repositions as necessary (1 round) for trouble, firing on any targets that don't flee. Sash, meanwhile, is running the boot machine to scare off their prey.

If the PCs charge the bushes, the two will fight back long enough for Tash to reload and fire, while Sash (a weak Bugbear is still stronger than a normal human) will grab one of his attackers and throw him in the boot machine. Both machines come with a "self-destruct button" in the form of an easily-smashed lantern, which will set both machines instantly ablaze, adding 1d10 damage per round for anyone trapped in the boot machine. (Cruel GMs may require PCs trapped in the boot machine to make two successful ability checks vs. Dexterity in a row to escape the machine.)

Notable NPCs:
Bugbears; No. Encountered: 2; Alignment: Chaotic; Armor Class: 5; Hit Dice: 3d8+1, Hit Points: 9, 9; Attacks: longsword (1d8+1), longbow (1d8+1); Save: F3; Special abilities: craft wonderful machines, boot machine, arrow machine; Morale: 6; 50% chance to surprise enemies.

Whether the Bugbears make good their escape, I leave it to the GM to determine if the PCs have an opportunity to find the plans for these wonderful machines (and the problem with translating Bugbear engineering jargon into Common).

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