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Secret Santicorn 2019 - Herber's Expedition


I made an adventure for my OSR Secret Santa...

Get it here...

Background and Overview


The Expedition

The expedition of Captain Herber left Puerto Aragues on the first day of November. They were never seen or heard from again. The expedition’s goal was to assault the small mountain town of Jacare and take control of the lucrative coffee plantation that the locals had created. The company of 40 men, calling themselves Herber’s Harbingers loaded up horse drawn wagons with supplies, including an irresponsible amount of guns, powder, and small canons.

The expedition also brought along Father Santiago, a Catholic priest, in charge of converting the survivors of the assault to Christianity. With manifest destiny and the promise of plunder, Herber’s Harbingers set off through the jungle to reach Jacare.

Captured

Unaware of the Halflings path through the jungle Canopy, the expedition looked for a route to Jacare along the forest floor. The danger of traveling in the darkness was immediately apparent, and so it was decided that Herber and crew would boat up the Garawayon River, despite the warnings they had received about the Eel-talker goblin tribe.  The Eel talkers sunk captain Harber’s boats, and stole all the guns, power, and canons. They took few prisoners, but Father Santiago was able to convince the goblins not to eat him. 

The Goblin Pope

Seeing the goblins mercy as a sign that they were not beyond redemption, the priest converted some of his captors to Christianity. This was a grave mistake. The Eel-Talkers have warped the teachings of Father Santiago into a twisted mockery of his religion. They soon elected their own Pope and cardinals, and erected a cathedral on the site of an abandoned temple. The goblins, now armed with both gunpowder and a new faith, believe it is their destiny to convert the heretical humans of Puerto Aragues; or to see them perish in the name of their Goblin Jesus. 

Goblin Tribes

The Eel-talkers are just one of the goblin tribes of the Garawayon river basin. Roll on the tables below to create goblins.

What does this tribe look like?
  1. Brown with upturned bat-noses & bat ears.
  2. Wide gaping jaw with rows of shark-teeth. Veiny translucent ears.
  3. Pig-nosed and tusked.
  4. Furry with bug-eyes. Can glide like flying squirrels with skin flaps.
  5. Fungal goblins. Symbiotic relationship with tribe-wide mycelium.
  6. Somewhat human looking. Almost cute, but short, green skinned, pointed teeth and long ears.

What does this goblin look Like:
  1. Missing half an ear.
  2. Left eye has a rot grub swimming around in it.
  3. Has a necklace made from their own teeth.
  4. Exceedingly fat; still surprisingly dextrous.
  5. Cataracts & a walking stick.
  6. Covered in red painted lines and wearing wolf pelts.
  7. Scrawny with a runny nose.
  8. Cross-eyed with grey stubble.
  9. An initiation scar on her forehead shaped like a dagger.
  10. Surprisingly handsome and well dressed. 

What they want
  1. That shiny trinket you’re wearing. That specific one. They’ll follow you around the dungeon for it.
  2. To subjugate the other goblins to her will with extreme violence.
  3. To be fed to The Great Volcano Spirit, summoning the rivers of fire upon our enemies.
  4. Fat delicious grubs that grow deep in the earth.
  5. To return to her spawning grounds, and not eat too many of the young.
  6. “Please help me, I’m not really a goblin, I was transformed by Artaraxian the Devil Wizard into this form!”
  7. Ta’ brain ya’
  8. Spread the holy word of the Mucus-Christ, son of the slime Lord.

What are they doing?
  1. Hiding from the players.
  2. Foraging for, or cooking grubs & mushrooms
  3. Wrestling each other after a heated argument.
  4. Running from something more dangerous than the PCs behind them.
  5. Getting drunk on mushroom beer.
  6. Flogging an unbeliever.

Social Actions:
Propose - Goblins will try to negotiate for shiny objects or huge slimy bugs. They will trade based on shininess and sliminess rather than GP value. Gain +1 step on the reaction table when you trade shinies or slimies. Once they have a successful trade, however, goblins will assume you have more where that came from, and may become hostile if they find that you don’t intend to trade more.

Intimidate - Goblins respond to wanton violence. Killing a goblin during a negotiation as a show of force can grant you +1 step on the reaction table.

Question - Goblins don’t answer questions in a straightforward way, and may not answer truthfully. They tend turn the conversation toward whatever they are currently obsessing about; usually revenge, food, or shiny things.

The Jungle

The Garawayon River

A wide, slow moving river that winds its way through the jungle and spreads to an enormous delta at its mouth. The river has never been safely navigated more than 48 miles inland from the sea. 

Giant Eels

The Garawayon river is home to eels the size of dragons that live in the muck at the bottom of the river. These terrifying beasts feed on any large creatures that come near the water to drink, including gorillas, humans, and giant sloths.

Eel Talker Goblins

The Eel talkers have domesticated the giant eels to some extent, and they use them for transport up and down the river. The goblins lash ropes around the eels, and put reeds in their mouths to breath. They attack boats that deliver goods up and down the river.

Ghost Leeches

Anyone who wades in the river may end up with one or more ghost leeches; horrible pink/white leeches that sap your spirit, rather than just your blood. Ghost leeches deal 1d4 damage to charisma, wisdom, or intelligence per turn. Removing one deals 1d6 damage.

The Canopy

It was once said that a man could climb a tree, and travel through the branches from one sea to the next without touching the ground. Logging has started to fell some of the more valuable large trees of the jungle, so the adage is still true, but your path through the canopy will just be more circuitous. 

An adventurer can get up into the canopy with nothing more than a length of rope, and some boot spikes. Once there, the branches are so thick and twisted around one another, that you can walk at a reasonable walking speed from tree to tree as long as you keep your hands free to hold onto the vines and other foliage for balance.

Travel through the canopy takes two times longer than it does on the ground, but its the best way to avoid the Apex Mushrooms who hunt on the Jungle floor.

Slime zombies 

A strange slime-mold grows in the jungle. It implants itself into the brains of sentient creatures, and controls their minds for a time in an effort to reproduce. Slimy budding eye-stalk looking fruit grows from the eye sockets of victims. At the end of their life cycle, they will climb to the highest point on the canopy and they victim’s head will crack open, releasing spores. The body of the victim becomes desiccated and petrified as the rest of the fruiting slime dehydrates the flesh of its victim. Traveller through the canopy are used to seeing the dried husks of bodies stuck to high tree limbs.

The Sloth Riders

Halflings ride on the bellies of dangling giant sloths, who swing effortlessly through the Jungle canopy. Halflings use the beasts of burden to transport rare spices and fruits they gather from high up in the canopy; most notably the coffee they transport from Jacare, to Purto Aragues. Riders will avoid direct contact with other travelers, preferring to put some distance or a gap in the canopy between. At any sign of danger the sloths will climb higher while the riders fire bows or muskets at the interlopers.

Riding Sloths

Huge creatures who can carry 8 halflings or 4 full sized men on their belly as they climb through the limbs of the canopy. Riding sloths generally carry passengers and precious smaller cargo on their under-sides, which are adorned with riding blankets. Ropes are attached to them for carrying canons or baskets full of goods below them. Riding sloths are surprisingly fast, and incredibly powerful beasts of burden.

Gargantuan Bark Boa


The Gargantuan Bark Boa’s skin never fully sheds, and allows the boa to appear indistinguishable from a large branch. Travelers through the canopy have reported walking along the body of these giant snakes, thinking they are a safe and stable branch before being attacked.  These boas are the natural predators of Riding Sloths, but will eat pretty much any creature it can fit in its jaws, and It can fit most creatures in its jaws. 

The Jungle Floor

Even during the day, the Jungle floor is almost devoid of light. The canopy above shuts out almost all the light. This place is still teeming with life of all kinds. Some of which have developed bioluminescence or infra vision in order to survive. 

Creatures of Jungle Floor


Ant Farmers

Small tribes of bipedal ant-eaters have learned how to cultivate and grow giant ant colonies near their subterranean homes. The ants they grow are domesticated, and the queen produces feeder ants for the ant-eaters in return for their husbandry. Ant-eaters have a combined sign-language with rhythmic clicks that is difficult for humanoids to speak. They often welcome humanoids into their homes, but expect them to partake in their culinary inventions using mostly fungi and feeder ants.

Apex Mushroom

The fruiting body of a predatory mushroom. Most jungle mushrooms wait for dead matter to litter forest floor before breaking it down into nutrients and feeding on it . They are the passive cleanup crew of the forest. The Apex Mushroom, however, takes a more proactive approach. The Apex mushroom sprouts mobile quadrupedal hunter mushrooms that will kill fleshy humanoids in order to feed the subterranean mycelium. Apex hunter mushrooms are the bane of traveller through the Jungle. They are fast and deadly creatures and force most traveller to travel through either the canopy or along the river.

A. Puerto Aragues 

Rumors

  1. Strange Aescetics live in the canopy north of town.
  2. Strange oily blobs have been washing down the river and up on the beaches nearby.
  3. Don’t travel under the canopy without fire.
  4. Goblin attacks have died down lately. I wonder what they are up to?
  5. The halflings are hording gold up in Jacare

B. Cave of the 3 Sages

Three wise sages live in seclusion here in a jungle treehouse in the canopy of the forest. They travel to Puerto Aragues infrequently.

  • Gaspar - Alchemist - Can make various herbal tinctures and brews, as well as more esoteric potions.
  • Manichor - Astronomer - Can do some divination for the players, and answer questions about the future.
  • Borithem - Ascentic/Spiritualist - Can heal Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma drain.

The three wise sages have divined that the slime-christ has been born in the jungle. They are interested in any information the players can give them about the location of the reborn slime christ. Secretly, they wish to use a portion of the slime christ to raise the pudding lords and become their thralls. If the players deceive them into thinking they wish to help with this mission, the Sages will tell them how to raise the Slime Lords (Place the baby slime-christ in the bowl in the temple of the pudding lords).

C. Jacare

I ran out of time to flesh out Jacare, but the idea is…
  • Coffee processing plantation.
  • Cozy tree-dwelling Halfling shit.
  • Sloth Farm.
  • A huge cache of gold, worthy of a player heist if they’re feeling villanous.
D. The Abandoned Temple

Map by Dyson Logos!

Getting into the Temple.

There are 3 entrances to the temple. The first is #1; heavily guarded with goblins who are armed with muskets and canons. The second is at #15 and requires that the players slither through the flooded catacombs. The last is in the thick jungle on top of the cliff, a hole in the earth above #14. 

Locations


1. The Temple Entrance

A cliff along the river has an ancient river temple, currently occupied by the Eel-talker clan. They are armed to the teeth, and violent entry through the front is nearly impossible.

  • Number of Players x 4 goblins outside of the temple.
    • Half the Goblin congregation is armed with muskets.
  • 2 small canons on top of the cliff. 2 small canons flanking the main door.
    • Needs 2 goblin operators for each. They are nearby, but not paying attention.
  • Defaced statues to long forgotten nature gods
    • Crude goblin grafitti - “BOW BEFORE BIG HAT”
2. Tribune

These are storage rooms for supplies. A walkway connects them above the Nave
  • Rotten draperies, canon balls, spent torches.
  • Players hear echoing goblin yelling throughout the church.
3. Transept

In each of these rooms…
  • 12 goblins, wearing dirty choir robes
    • All are singing at the tops of their lungs. Not singing any particular song.
  • The doors are flung open, and their voices are ringing out throughout the aisles

4. The Aisle
  • Number of players x 10 goblins sitting in pews, wearing their Sunday best.
    • Their Sunday best is mostly uncured animal hides and fish skin. It reeks in here.
  • At the northernmost area (the Aspe), a goblin stands in front of a lectern, yelling loudly and angrily in the Goblin language. He is wearing an impressively large hat. This is the Goblin Pope.
    • Stands on a podium, in front of a lecturn, reciting the 10 commandments.
      • Get Shineys
      • Get Meat
      • All follow biggest hat.
      • Baptise yourself in the body of Slime-Jesus.
      • Can’t remember the rest.
    • Holds a golden censor, worth 150GP if you can clean the burnt rat out of it.
    • Behind him, an altar with a gold inlaid drapery, stained with chicken grease.
  • A 10’ x 10’ area in front of the lectern is actually a pit trap controlled by a lever on the lectern. If the players step near it, the Goblin Pope will throw the switch and drop the players down to area 20 to be eaten by the great Eel, Ekyless.
  • There was once tile mosaics of nature deities in here, now defaced to show images of goblin saints. Each mosaic above a stone coffin.
    • Saint Featherpuller, the saint of sad, dead birds.
      • In the coffin beneath her mosaic, 3 arrows made from the goblins bones in a reliquary studded with green jewels worth 50gp. The arrows give +3 against flying creatures and immediately cause the creature to crash to the earth.
    • Saint Sharkknife, the saint of human scalps.
      • In the coffin beneath his mosaic, a dagger +1 vs humans, inlaid with the saints bones. The dagger is intelligent and will try to convince users about the evils of civilization.
    • Saint Greasewilt, the saint of hitting very very hard.
      • In the coffin beneath his mosaic, a huge femur bone inlaid with gold. As a +1 Club. Can break down doors on 4 in 6.
    • Saint Flerg the Quick, the saint of retreat.
      • In the coffin beneath her mosaic, a necklace made of feet bones that reduces the morale of the creature wearing it, and grants +15’ movement speed when fleeing in fear.
5. The Chapel

The private chapel for a priest of the long forgotten nature gods. Now mainly used as storage of the goblins booty. This is where the loot taken from Herber’s Harbingers is being stowed.
  • 20 Muskets & Shot
  • 20 small barrels of powder.
  • 3 small canons.
  • 15 bloody pieces of chainmail.
  • The Journal of Captain Herber, detailing their journey into the forest, down the river, and the purpose of their journey. To kill all the halflings of Jacare, and appropriate their coffee plantation.
6. Toilets

Goblins are mostly uncivilized… mostly. They do try to keep their waste in one area. There is a carrion crawler in here keeping it tidy. There are holes in the floor that empty into the river.

7. The Flooded Solar
  • Water up to the players knees
  • A 4 post bed, rotted with time
    • Mattress is holy, moldy and rotten
    • Filled with rabid rats.
  • Door in the south end of the room is difficult to push open.

8. The Catacombs

Once a burial chamber for the clergy and congregation of the gods who built this temple, now a flooded mess. 
  • Walls piled up with tightly packed skulls.
  • Water up to the PCs chests
  • Oil slicks on the surface of the water are dangerous slimes.
  • Blind cave-fish.

9. The Lair of Slime Jesus

The goblins bring converts here to baptise them in the giant slime (treat as a colony of grey ooze). It is a huge, wispy thing floating in the water like a vinegar mother. Goblins are laid in it. Some are absorbed and die, some are merely scarred or injured, the occasional blessed ones are mutated into 4HD goblin hulks.

10. Burial Chamber of the Thralls
  • The Goblins have not ventured into this part of the temple. 
    • They consider it a forbidden holy place. 
  • 5 Stone Crypts
    • Buried here are the deceased thralls of the pudding lords. In each crypt, there are skeletons wearing black armor. 
    • In the eye sockets are spheres of quivering black pudding. Each eye has 1 hp. It will try to escape to the 
  • 1 Destroyed Stone Crypt
    • The In the one crypt that is connected to the catacombs, there are destroyed bones and rotten fibers. 
    • Slime from this thrall’s eyeball has escaped down into the catacombs to feed. This is what the Goblins call ‘Slime Jesus’.

12. The Decrepit Guardian

A corroded Iron Golem tries to keep creatures from entering the chambers. It is so rusted and disintegrated from black pudding that it has few hit points left. It still has a couple of devastating attacks left in it though.

13. Resting Place of the Pudding Lords
  • 6 Standing stone sarcophagi
    • Each depicting a different human face.
    • All carved with strange concentric circles on their bodies.
    • There is a stone seam along the edge of each, but it is magically sealed.
    • If the players are able to open it with magical means, there is only dry human skeletons inside.
  • A dais, with an altar. On the altar, a stone bowl.
    • In the bowl, a small hole that goes down into the ground.
    • Filling the bowl with a part of the slime Jesus from #9: The slime disappears down the hole. The slime then follows a series of tubes into the stone sarcophagi.
    • After a putrid smell and strange bubbling sounds, the sarcophagi open. Ooze wizards emerge. Treat them each as an intelligent black pudding, stuffed with a skeleton and in a humanoid shape, with spells as 6th level wizards. The Pudding Lords have returned.
    • The pudding lords will offer the players life everlasting and riches beyond their wildest dreams. Their idea of life and riches is fairly perverse. They will feed the players a drop of pudding, players eyes turn completely black and they gain powers of a black pudding (DM to decide what that means). Save vs poison or the PC becomes an NPC thrall of the pudding lords.
    • If all PC’s become thralls, your campaign just got real weird.

14. The Pudding Mutation Chamber
  • 4 alcoves on the wall with various animal parts collected on shelves.
    • Cougar pelts, Spider spinnerets, Sloth Bones, crocodile teeth, etc.
  • 3 Amphora of inert black slime.
    • Placing animal parts in the black slime will cause it to bubble and boil. The slime will crawl out of the amphora and form into the shape of the creature placed in the amphora.
    • After a short time, the black slime takes on color and forms a perfect looking replica of the creature.
15. The Acrid Pool

A Stinking liquid leaks out of a small looking hole in the side of the cliff. Further inspection reveals that it is an entrance to larger flooded catacombs.

16. Underwater Cave-in

This entire room is under water. There is a little space to stand and breath air on the north side of the room. The catacomb walls are covered in skulls of long dead 

17. Algae Covered Room
  • Everything in this room is covered in a slick algae. 
    • Standing up straight takes constant diligence.
  • The room is littered with broken amphora. 
    • 3 are still in tact.
      • Wine that has turned to vinegar.
      • Flammable Oil
      • Dust of dryness
  • The door to the north is hidden by the algae, but can be found easily by digging around with your fingers.

18. The Confessional

Father Santiago is locked in this confessional booth. He begs the PC’s to help him escape, and offers them a large reward from the Basilica of Puerto Aragues. The Father is mentally rattled from listening to the many sins of the goblins who frequent his confessional. They tell him of atrocities unheard of in order to absolve themselves of their sins. The PC’s can free Father Santiago from the confessional with little effort.

Santiago knows that the Goblins aren’t just imagining their new savior, a giant slime living in the catacombs beneath the temple. He knows they are actually worshipping something that has some kind of supernatural powers. He is aware of the Goblin Brute mutations, and some of the Goblins in confession have admitted their sin of sneaking into the holy sepulture beyond the slime cavern.

Outside the confessional are stairs leading down into the catacombs where Ekylees the giant eel is kept. The Goblins throw food into the water from here. 

19. Cave In
  • The door to this room is nailed shut. 
  • This room is ruined from a cave in long ago, but the room is still unstable. 
    • Disturbing this room will cause the ceiling to collapse on the players.
  • Goblin corpses rotting under some of the debris.

20. The Lair of Ekylees

Ekyless the giant eel has blindsight for all creatures in the water. As soon as any players enter the water in this whole underwater chamber, he detects them and can surprise on 3 in 6. There are signs of movement in the water if the players are looking, which can reduce surprise to 1 in 6. Ekylees grapples players in his mouth, drags them underwater and drowns them.

You should hide a really good magic item in one of the crypts in here.

21. Sarcophagi of Minor Saints.
  • There are two major shrines here to other Goblin Saints.
    • Saint Stinkmuir the Brown, Goblin Saint of Flatulence.
  • There are 10 alcoves filled with trash and treasures the goblins have stashed. Bones, furs, hair, broken weapons. Put small bags of gold and gems in here as needed.
  • 2 Goblin Brutes stand guard at the easternmost end of this aisle.

E. Additional Adventure Site

I didn’t have time to add an additional adventure site here, but it’s a good spot for adding a module you want to run along with this one.

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