Postfest I: The Amethyst Crag Mine
Date: Thu, August 30, 2001
Topic: Adventures & Modules

The Amethyst Crag Mine is situated in a small canyon deep within the Kron Hills and is owned and operated by Baronet Albruce of House Artim. A fine operation to be certain, well run and staffed. But could it be that they have a problem, only "outside" help can solve?

Author: Dargarth

The Amethyst Crag Mine
by: Dargarth (mitchels@MEGSINET.NET)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author. )

The Amethyst Crag Mine is situated in a small canyon deep within the Kron Hills. The canyon sits about 100 miles south of the Forest High Road and can only be reached by following a narrow wagon trail from Castle Hagthar. Surrounding the entrance to the canyon is a seven-foot tall bramble "wall" that creates a palisade effect around the canyon opening. The entrance to the compound is on the south-facing bramble wall and is barely high and wide enough to squeeze wagon and a pair of draft horses through.

The entrance gate is made from bronzewood and is flanked on both sides by two wooden towers about four foot across that stick up three feet past the bramble wall. The wooden surface of the gate shows many scars from both weapons and animal claws and it is obvious that it has been in use for quite some time. The gate is designed to be tilted up and out by the means of two ropes tied to the top on the back. The flanking towers serve as a teeter point for the gate. Two large roanwood crossbars sit within notches carved on the back of the gate at the top and bottom.

The interior canyon stretches about eighty feet in diameter. Situated around the east side of the canyon is a dozen noniz mounds that appear to be exceptionally well designed. This would indicate to a noniz, or anyone with knowledge of noniz, that the mounds were designed for families, not common mine workers.

Along the west wall sits a small-sized two-story house. Though the design of the house is crude, it is clear that the builder attempted to emulate the Aerdy style of expansive columns and stonework. The house has an ornately carved bronzewood door but no windows.

Sitting along side the house are a number of water barrels. The barrels are sitting beneath a complex wooded aqueduct that seems to be directing rain water from the house and surrounding canyon walls into the barrels. There is no other visible well or water source within the canyon.

At the north side of the compound, to the left of the mine entrance, sits a large wooden building with two expansive doors. A large chimney juts from the center of the building and there are two wagons sitting in front of the large eastern door; one appears ready to be back into the building. Once again, there are no windows within the building. A small stable that appears to be able to hold a dozen horses sits to the left of the building. Sitting behind the stable is a small outhouse.

The mine entrance is five feet high and six feet wide. The opening has been shorn-up with bronzewood beams and there are two noniz-sized mine carts just visible within the opening of the mine. The ground outside the mine clearly shows a well-worn trail leading from the mine opening to the western door of the adjacent building.

The Mine Workers: The Amethyst Crag Mine is owned and operated by Baronet Albruce of House Artim under the protection of the Viscount of Verbobonc, through the auspices of Baron Farkaesh of Castle Hagthar. Baronet Albruce is a young, powerful-looking man that appears to be of Flan stock (Human, 24, 6'1", 195#, Black hair, Blue eyes). Baronet Albruce is a friendly and talkative young man who rarely sees other humans this far south. Albruce was given his title and these lands under the condition that he could make the mine profitable within three seasons. This is currently Albruce's second season as the mine's overlord, and thanks to the acquisition of noniz miner instead of human ones, Albruce feels that he will achieve his goal, and secure his title by the end of this season.

There are 11 noniz and their families working at the mine. The noniz are overseen by Yarik HIllsplitter (Dwur, M, 167, 4'3", 215#, Red hair, Amber eyes), a hill dwur from the Lortmil Mountains. Yarik is a friendly, but complaint prone hill dwur. Yarik will always be grumbling about the slowness of his noniz workers or about being forced to live in a mound instead of a true hill-cave or stone house. But no matter what the harshness, Yarik has great affection for his noniz workers and will quickly come to their defense if anyone but he belittles them.

Both Yarik and the Noniz respect Albruce, for he is honest and giving, and they will fight to the death for him. This small group of workers has already fought off an attack from roving Har-jebli as well as an unexpected assault by a crippled griffin with a broken wing. The griffin made good stew.

Albruce will offer travelers food and wine. Albruce has a fondness for wine and makes sure there is plenty within the compound at all times. Water is hard to come by and will not be offered, though a small amount will be made available for any animals that might need it. Albruce will also offer the travelers shelter within the compound, but not within his house, nor his amethyst processing building. The travelers will be allowed to stay within the stable, in or under a wagon, or on the ground. If there is a hill dwur within the party, Yarik will invite him or her to stay with him, and then spend the whole night discussing mining and clans with the unfortunate benefactor.

Building Descriptions:

Baronet Albruce's House: This two-story home is simply laid out and decorated. The bottom floor contains a cooking area on the north side of the home. The tables and food basins are all of lower stature, making it clear that one of the noniz women is taking care of the general cooking and cleaning for the Baronet.

The south side of the home contains a small fireplace and a pair of rocking chairs. The large dining table sits to the center and is covered with mining schematics and other papers. There are half a dozen books scattered around the room, almost all of which are dealing with mining or gem-ore processing. There is a simple sailor's ladder handing on the back wall which leads to the second floor.

The second floor consists of one large sleeping chamber that has been divided into three sections. The first section would be described as Baronet Albruce's dressing chamber. The section consists of a half a dozen different chests, all packed with clothing. It's obvious that the Baronet was a clothes-horse in Verbobonc, but since the chests all seem to be unused, it's also clear that Albruce gets no use out of the clothes here.

The second section is Albruce's sleeping room. There is a fairly large four-post bed sitting along the back wall. Hanging where a headboard would be is a decorative pair of griffin's talons; clearly made by a somewhat skilled artisan from the remains of the griffin that attacked the compound. There is a small vanity containing personal items such as comb and shaving gear, as well as a fairly ornate chamber pot.

The third section has been set aside and contains a baby's crib and changing table. There are also a few dwur made toys placed around the room. The room does not look like it has ever been used. Apparently the Baronet is hope that it will be used eventually.

Sitting beneath Albruce's bed is a small locked chest. This chest contains the Baronet's house fund. Within the chest are several small coin purses. Currently there is a bag of 27 Electrum Tears, one of 43 Silver Tapi, and one of 70 Copper Zetti. There is a forth bag which contains a dozen crude, but flawless amethysts. The chest also contains a dozen drafts from the Treasury of Verbobonc showing that nearly 10,000 Royales have been deposited into the treasury in Baronet Albruce's name.

There is a small cellar below the floor in the cooking area. The cellar is about 20 feet deep and is used primarily for storing of foodstuff such as vegetable and jerked and salted meats. The cellar also contains eight barrels of wine all bearing the label of Korbin Silver. Judging by the size of the barrels and the size of the cellar opening, getting the wine into the room is a complex procedure.

Amethyst Processing Building: This large wooden building was built around a huge stone furnace that takes up most of the space. Sitting within the building are a dozen large barrels of oil, obviously used to stoke the furnace and to clean the amethyst ore.

The ore is dumped from the mine carts onto the floor. There it is sorted and put onto large metal trays. The trays are then placed into the furnace and baked at a low temperature to burn-off the ore residue, leaving nothing but the gemstones. Once done, the trays are put into large cooling racks to the right of the furnace. After cooling, the processed gems are once again sorted and then dipped in oil and wrapped within animal skins to prepare for shipping back to Verbobonc. There are currently seven wrapped packages of raw gemstone getting ready to be shipped.

An observant player will note that there is no wood or coal within the building, only the oil. A careful examination of the furnace will reveal a small bronze box about the size of a human fist at its bottom. The box has a glyph on it that in noniz reads as "fire". When the glyph's name is spoken, the bronze box will begin to generate heat, assuming it is full of oil. The box gives of a faint magic reading if detected for.

Stable: The stable has stalls for eight draft horses. It also has a small, noniz or dwur-sized anvil and blacksmith forge for making shoes or repairs to mining equipment. There are currently 6 draft horses within the stable as well as a third wagon which is sitting propped up with a broken wheel. There appears to be ample straw and hay, but each stall's water trough sits empty and is apparently filled with just enough water for the animal to use each day.

The Noniz Mounds: Eleven of the noniz mounds are used by the mine workers and their families. Eight of the noniz miners are married and four of those have children. The total noniz population of the compound, including females and children is twenty-six. The women either work in the processing plant or in Albruce's home as cooks for the crew. Albruce is protective of the women and children and will not let them work within the mine for fear of a cave in.

The noniz work primarily for a percentage of the ore mined. This value is deposited for each of the workers at the Verbobonc Treasury. Thus, each of the noniz families holds deposit receipts for several hundred Gold Royales.

Most of the noniz mounds are comfortable but simple. Getting any type of luxury this far from Verbobonc is not easy, and quite expensive. Return wagons usually only have enough room for animal feed and wine barrels. The noniz have learned to make due, and once a month are allowed to send a wagon to the Greenway Valley to purchase items the noniz would enjoy from their own kind.

Yarik's mound is the largest, but also the sparsest. Yarik has a simple table with two chairs and a small sleeping cot. Yarik's blanket is made from the griffin's hide, as it was Yarik's axe blow that killed the beast. Hanging over the entrance is Yarik's battle-axe. It is a finely crafted dwur axe with a broad blade on one end and a stabbing pick at the other. The weapon gleams and careful analysis will allow a character with metal knowledge to realize the axe is made from Mithril. The weapon gives off no magic radiance, but if finely crafted and honed.

The Mine: The mine is short and squat. It was designed to be worked by noniz or dwur. A human would have a difficult time traversing the tunnels, and would be forced to do it squatted over. The mine is lined with lanterns, which is unusual as oil is far more expensive than wooden torches. About every fifty feet there is a small cask of oil to fill the lanterns should they grow dim. The mine burrows in about two-hundred feet and then splits into a three-way corridor. Above each of the corridors are signs written in noniz. The first says: Grade 1. The second says: Grade 2. The third says: Suicide Row. It's obvious from the footprints that most miners travel down the Grade 1 corridor.

Both the Grade 1 and Grade 2 tunnels travel a couple of hundred feet or so, ending when the mine has yet to expand. If asked about the Suicide Row corridor, the noniz will say that they avoid that tunnel to do frequent cave ins. The miners lost a worker to the cave in a few months ago, and they consider it to be a burial chamber of sorts.

Adventure Ideas

The Mine Fiend: In this scenario, the mine has been plagued by strange occurrences and attacks over the last few months. Personal items of the noniz have turned up missing from their homes during the night. These thefts caused a lot of accusations and hard feeling between the workers and families as everyone was blaming someone else for the thefts. After a few weeks attacks began to occur while the noniz slept. None of these attacks were fatal and no sign of anything strange could be found.

When the players arrive they will hear about these occurrences and find the mine workers at a near mutiny. The players will be asked by Baronet Albruce to assist in the problem, assuming they have some type of reputation, or a member of the party is a paladin, ranger or good cleric. A reward of raw amethyst stone will be given. The value of the stone should be determined by the GM so as to not destroy the continuity of their campaign.

What's basically going on is that the spirit of the dead noniz from the latest mine cave in has returned to seek vengeance on his comrades. The players will encounter the spirit during the night, possibly while they are sleeping. Any dwur or noniz party member will be attacked by the spirit when they are asleep or isolated and alone. The attack will not be fatal, but it will be brutal.

The type of evil spirit is up to the GM to determine based on the power level of the party involved. If the party cannot physically combat the spirit, they will be able to put it to rest by digging out the remains of the trapped noniz and giving him a proper burial. All the items stolen from the workers will be found lying next to the noniz corpse.

The horror aspects of the scenario should be played up. The GM should have an overcast night where only a sliver of light from Celene can be seen. Use the scenario to build ambiance. Don't just consider the spirit to be another monster, after all, it is the angry soul of a departed friend for mine workers.

New Owners: In this scenario, the party has been hired by Baron Farkaesh to find out why communication with the mine has been cut off. The Baron is use to seeing a wagon load of stones coming through Hagthar on its way to Verbobonc every month. There has been no wagons or purchasing of supplies for the mine in two months.

The players should set out for the mine. During the 100 mile trip, they should have a few random encounters with humanoid creatures. There should also be signs that humanoids are about. Such things as monster carcasses that have been partially cooked and eaten add some flavor without there being any real need to have encounters. Perhaps the players just keep having the feeling that they are being watched or followed. Anything to set the mood that all is not well.

When the player's arrive at the mine, they will find that it is being occupied by some type of humanoid. The type should be determined based on the power level of the party. A low level party might encounter kobolds. A higher level party might encounter hill giants. A scouting party will determine that many of the hostages still alive, they are just being held and used as food. The humanoid invaders consider the canyon to be a fantastic camp, and a perfect place to build a tribal village. The humanoids have no real interest in the mine, as the crude stones don't really look that appealing when not cut or polished.

The goal of the players is to rescue the hostages and somehow remove the humanoid threat from the mine. Once again, the danger level of the creatures should be determined by the GM, as should the final payment for the services rendered. The mine, along with Baronet Albruce, can make for a good contact for the characters sometime in the future. You never know when a petty noble can come in handy.

This article comes from Canonfire!

The URL for this story is: