The PCs are attempting to locate a floating kaer they believe to be unopened since the end of the Scourge. The trail has implicated the Company of the Bright Blade as having the knowledge of the location of the kaer. Unfortunately, most of the Company of the Bright Blade are now Horror constructs apparently working against the PCs in a bid to open the kaer for their master. One member of the Company still remains alive, a tískrang wizard named Magus Elloran. Magus now works for the Throalic Expeditionary Force, opening sealed kaers deep in the Servos Jungle. The PCs must journey to the Servos and find Magus and use his valuable information regarding the location of the floating kaer and the Horror that opposes them.
Travelling from Throal the PCs must journey to Kaer Leithe in the northern reaches of the Servos, the last kaer that Magus was sent to open by the Throalic Expeditonary Force, now over a year ago. From this start the PCs must deal with a local tribe of primitive tískrang to assist them searching this vast, uncharted region. Having convinced the tískrang that they are not Theran slavers, the PCs must not only retrace the wizardís trail using the tískrangsí help but also contend with the lizardmenís own agenda and their against a local Cathan tribe. Several potential sites must be visited before Magusís trial can be recovered. During this time the PCís must not only save themselves from the carnivorous fauna and flora of the jungle but their guides, without whom the PCs will surely perish in the trackless and inhospitable wilderness.
Following the trail, the PCs eventually locate Magus Elloran, and what remains of the company of the Throalic Expeditionary Force, outside Kaer Gellington. Unfortunately, Magus may have escaped the fate of the rest of the Company of the Bright Blade but is in fact Horror-marked, quite insane and intent on destroyed those still trapped within Kaer Gellington.
The PCs leave Throal heading due south for the northern reaches on the Servos Jungle and general location of Kaer Leithe. The journey should only take 9 days by foot (given the rocky terrain within the Throalic Mountains), however, if the PCs do not have exact directions it may take a little longer (have the PCs make 3 successful exploration tests with a target number of 12). Exact directions to Kaer Leithe can be obtained from the Office of the Royal Throalic Guild of Cartographers annex to the Throalic Library and adjunct to the Throalic Expeditionary Force (TEF) for a small finders fee of 3 sps.
With directions, the journey is uneventful:
"The plains that separate the blasted majesty of the Throalic Mountains from the living sprawl of the Servos Jungle are rugged and empty. The land supports but a sprinkling of weedy grass interspersed with a few richer pockets of trees between the swathes of barren earth that dominate the landscape. Only occasional paths of trampled earth reveal signs of the passage of plains animals or Ork Scorcher patrols."
If the PCs have navigated successfully for the 9 days of travel they reach the limits of the Servos Jungle and, shortly afterward, Kaer Leithe:
"Even though you have only reached the outer reaches of the Servos Jungle its teaming life is a tonic to the blasted plains you leave behind. Huge trees dominate the horizon as far as the eye can see, a larger reservoir of life cannot be found in all of Barsaive. Within the hot and humid atmosphere of the jungle itself, the massive trees tower hundreds of feet above you and are decorated with an amazing array of vines and creepers. Beneath the canopy the ground flora is dense and forbidding but often covered in dazzling displays of flowers. The air is alive with the humming of insects, bird song and the calls of monkeys."
The PCs can soon pick up a track leading to Kaer Leithe and, after little more than an hourís walk, reach their destination.
"Cleared forest and worked fields are the first indication that you have found the survivors of Kaer Leithe. Evidently the community has moved away from the Kaer itself and constructed a stilted village that stands above the flooded paddy fields and seasonal swamps. Corrals keep goats and other domesticated animals on the higher ground and protects them from jungle predators. The folk of Kaer Leithe work busily in their fields but soon stop at the sight of well armed Adepts entering the village."
The villagers treat the PCs with some trepidation and only after they have been confronted and astrally examined by the village's nethermancer, the gnarly t'skrang Dandrock Blackeyes, and confirmed not to be Horrors are they truly welcomed.
Kallaban Noir (ork), Chief Elder, throws a feast for the PCs where they can tell their tales and fish for information regarding the last known movements of Magus Elloran. The village elder will swap a story with the PCs, telling of the mysterious sky-tree river that flows over the Servos (see Legends of Earthdawn: Book of Exploration).
Additionally, the following lead can be garnered from the village folk:
Before leaving Kaer Leithe midway through 1506, Elloran became increasingly testy and impatient, anxious to move on. He made a few forays into the surrounding jungle looking for clues to Kaer Gellington before moving on with the TEF heading for a primitive tískrang village some 2 - 3 days travel into the jungle interior called, Tillana.
The village can provide guides to Tillana but are not happy about it and may take some persuading as they consider the jungle tískrang to be cannibals and potentially Horror-marked having spent the Scourge without the benefit of a kaer or citadel.
The PCs can also pick-up a few rumours regarding a Theran slaving party that has, allegedly, been seen in the area. The party are rumoured to led by members of the Cathan tribe who can track anyone through the jungle, better than Scout adepts, and are ruthless in locating and taking Name-givers.
Kallaban Noir will allow 2 of the younger hunters of the community to guide the PCs to Tillana. Both of the guides speak a little of the tískrang dialect but can only really allow the time to introduce the PCs to the tískrang - it will be up to them to negotiate further assistance from the lizardmen. The two hunters are Bombar Noir (a male ork) and Mara Yethendar (a human female), their stats are given later.
The trip through the dense jungle is hot, humid and uncomfortable. The pace through the thick vegetation is painfully slow made worse by the huntersí apparent over-cautiousness. However, an early encounter with a Giant Flytrap plant should convince the PCs that caution is definitely the best way in the Servos Jungle.
The huge leaves of a Giant Flytrap plant are more than adequate to envelop a passing name-giver scout. The lead (N)PC will be detected by the sensitive hairs that cover the leaf as it lies hidden beneath the leaf litter on the forest floor and spring, much like a trap. The leaf is very difficult to detect (PER test vs. 13 or 10 if anyone has wilderness survival or botany or similar skill), even a successful test will only spot the occasional large animal bones lying around the area and only on an "good" result or better will the actual leaf be spotted.
Detection Difficulty: 8
Trigger Condition: Touch
Trap Initiative: 10
Trap Effect: Target is enveloped by the leaf, whereupon they are slowly suffocated by the leaf. Each round a victim is trapped by the skin-tight cocoon of the leaf, make a spellcasting test vs. the (N)PCís spell defence using step 8; if successful the victim takes step 10 damage. The leaves are very tough, to breach the tough membrane of the plant a wound must be inflicted on the plant; attacks are made against a physical defence of 7, the leaf has 13 physical armour points, 5 mystic armour points and a wound threshold of 15. The trapped victim may only use natural weapons or weapons of size 2 or less to try and cut their way out. Moreover, because of the confined space any action taken within the leaf to escape is at -3 steps.
A giant inshalata (giant preying mantis) selects a random PC to be its dinner. During the ensuing combat the inshalata will attempt to knock a single PC out and then flee with the body to consume at its leisure. Additionally, the inshalata will flee if reduced to 50% of its hits.
Event 4 - Tillana
In this encounter the PCs are ambushed by a small contingent of Tilliana tískrang before they reach the village. Although expert jungle hunters the tískrang should be no match for the PCs in open conflict. The presence of a tískrang Archer adept should keep the PCs from being complacent. Additionally, it should be obvious to the PCs that they should anything but hostile to these tískrang who may be the only ones who can help them find Elloran:
The drums begin at dawn. Jungle drums echoing without resonance through the dense jungle. The sound made denser by the pervading humidity that hangs beneath the canopy. At first the beating drums make an interesting change to the cries of birds and shrieks of monkeys. Their rhythm is deep and complex, there must be at least 2 or 3 drummers. The sound is difficult to pinpoint but it appears to be coming from in front you. As the hours pass, however, the thumping of the drums becomes increasingly disturbing. An ominous noise that reverberated through your bones putting you on edge.
Your guides say that the drums are those of the primitive tískrang Ė you must be nearing Tilliana. Irritatingly, they do not know what the drums are saying, claiming that the drums have never sounding in their previous visits to Tilliana. You eye them suspiciously realising how easy an ambush would be to mount in the midst of this impenetrable jungle.
However, you can be sure that the tískrang know where you are. You squint into the dark foliage but see nothing except more greenery. Sweat, suddenly turned cold, runs down your back, and you begin to wonder if all those tales of the primitive tískrang indulging in cannibalism are true? And whether the rumours that their Shaman can summon terrible monsters from the depths of Astral Space are also true? A confrontation with Name-givers who survived the Scourge without the Rites of Passage suddenly seems a very frightening concept.
As the PCs approach the village they are ambushed by a number of tískrang. Make a secret PER test for each character vs. a target number of 12.
Without warning they are upon you. Suddenly, the air is filled with the buzzing of spears and arrows. As you struggle through the heat and vegetation to take cover you catch glimpses of your attackers, tall bi-pedal creatures with monstrous heads, flashes of gaudy colour, feathers, misshapen eyes and mouths, slab like teeth and sinuous tails. They carry long, cruel looking spears and make no sound as they bear down on you from all sides of the jungle.
The tískrang are dressed for battle in their war-masks, believing the PCs to be Theran slavers. In this event the PCs are ambushed by a small contingent (about 12) of Tillana tískrang. Although expert hunters the tískrang should be no match for the PCs in open conflict. Fortunately, the presence of an Archer amongst the tískrang should keep the PCs on their toes. Additionally, it is in the PCs interest to try and talk to the tískrang, who believe them to be Theran slavers, as trying to get the villageís aid once they have battered a few of their warriors would make life very difficult in the future. Although unwilling to talk at first, if the PCs maintain control over themselves and remain defensive for 2 rounds without retaliation, the tískrang will stop fighting and are willing to talk. However, the tískrang will only accept the PCís surrender and allow themselves to be taken to their Shaman so that the truth of their words may be discerned.
Unless they take decisive or unusual action the tískrang will continue to attack until they take 50% hits or the PCs kill more than two warriors. Whereupon, the tískrang flee and return to their village for a final showdown.
The village itself is no more than another half-mile from the ambush site. Once reaching the village, the PCs will be confronted by a number of warriors and their Shaman, Drumkrick, remaining tískrang are in evidence in cover with bows and spears. Unless the PCs attack immediately, Drumkrick engages them in conversation. The PCs action during the ambush will determine how hard it is to convince the tískrang that they are not slavers and need assistance from the village.
Once entering the village to get the tískrangsí help their actions previous will determine the Shamanís attitude towards the PCs:
NB. Primitive tískrang such as these eat the flesh of their fallen warriors, should any captured PCs view this, they will be Intimidated (Step 7) and, thereby, more easily convinced to do the Shamanís bidding
Should the PCs allow themselves to be captured, the tískrang make a great show of them and hold a feast, implying that the PCs are the main course. Any tískrang killed by the PCs are eaten by their brethren.
Eventually, the PCs should convince the tískrang that they are not slavers and, consequently, the village will help them, so long as the PCs help the village.
This marks the end of the first section of the adventure.
In part 2 of the adventure the PCs unwittingly do the t'skrang some favours. In Earthdawn, there's no such thing as a free lunch (unless you're a dragon).