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Shark Den

“Wild ulullations and ecstatic pig snorting fills the air. High above, orcs riding sharks that float through the air are keeping watch while down below the crowd goes mad with the sound of party.”

Themes: orcs, slimes, flying sharks

Orc names: Marashatta, Iraksha, Zarakosh, Tirrash, Boglosh, Lormokto, Jalash, Erdanishat, Adosh

A 200 ft. shaft leads up to the main cave. There are no ropes, no ladders and no handholds. The orcs use their air sharks and have no use for such aids. At the top of the shaft are several guards (see the list of encounters below). Any visitors must answer with the current pass phrase before being allowed to pass.

A list of pass phrases and popular comments by the guards upon hearing them:

Encounters:

  1. at the top of the entry shaft, eight guards (HD 1; AC 6; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 6) stand by big amphoras containing green slime (HD 1; AC –; MV 1; will decompose organic matter and metal and turn it into green slime upon contact (orcs must hit AC 9+Dex bonus), armor will be destroyed but delays skin contact by one round for each point of AC granted (e.g. leather armor delays skin contact by two rounds); cannot be harmed by weapons; torches and the like deal 1d6 damage to both victim and green slime; it deals 1d6 damage per round once armor is bypassed); the guards will pour the green slime on trespassers ignorant of the current pass phrase
  2. a squad of six orcs with their leader (HD 3; AC 6; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 6) and the quartermaster on duty are moving out towards the air shark stables; before mounting the air sharks, the quartermaster will open the big bunker where the amphoras and flasks full of green slime and the smoke grenades are stored; the green slime mother is locked away in the crow cave (see below)
  3. an air shark passes overhead – it’ll ignore the party unless it can smell blood (HD 6; AC 5; Atk 1 bite (2d6); will throw you around on a 20: take 1d6 extra falling damage if you cannot fly)
  4. 2d4 orcs mounted on air sharks swoop in and drop little clay flasks containing green slime; the orcs will avoid landing but will let the air sharks attack flying opponents; without orcs to guide them, air sharks will enter a feeding frenzy attacking the most wounded victim (if any) until it is dead and then carry it away to eat at their leisure; when under attack, the orcs have 4 smoke grenades each which they use to escape unharmed
  5. the orc settlement is built into the walls of the cave such as not to reduce the illuminated grazing area; in all there must be about three hundred able-bodied orcs; any residents met will assume that foreigners know the necessary pass phrases and are here to trade; no further enquiries will be made unless violence breaks out
  6. Vialashta, the one-eyed crow priestess of the orcs (HD 9; AC 8; Atk 1 orcish hammer (1d6); MV 9; curse at will, roll d6: 1. slowed, 2. blind, 3. stupid like an ox, 4. weak as a baby, 5. contract the plague, 6. crippling pain; save vs. spells to avoid) and her four witches (HD 5; AC 8; Atk 1 cudgel (1d6); MV 9; curse 3×/day as above) are bargaining with the hanging tree (HD 15; AC 3; Atk 8 branches and roots (1d6 each); MV 0); the branches of the hanging tree are loaded with twitching corpses: twelve armless ghouls are hanging up there, unable to free themselves (HD 2; AC 9; Atk 1 bite (1d6); MV 12); the crow priestess is trying to develop a ritual to control free roaming ghouls using the tree’s power; treasure: the tree accepts gold offerings and pulls these down into a buried hoard containing 20 000 gold plus fifty jewels and gems worth 1 000 gold each amongst thousands of skulls and a beating troll heart (which will regenerate into a full troll if released from the roots)
  7. there are several pieces of metal fire burning like flood lights on the cave ceilings; here, plants grow and giant goats graze; each flock is guarded by a jealous giant ram (HD 4; AC 8; Atk 1 ram (2d6); MV 12); the 1d4 orcs watching the goats will tell visitors that they got the metal fire from Gar, a filthy dwarven wizard living along the river Styx
  8. the cheese factory houses 24 orcish cooks and a slave curd demon (HD 15; AC –; Atk 1 slam (3d6; swallow whole on a 20; victims must save vs. death every round or suffocate); MV 1); the curd demon is involved in the making of orcish cheese; the orcs will release it when under attack, knowing full well that it will attack anything in its proximity
  9. the shrine of Hecate sits inside a black tent illuminated with a hundred candles; the altar is full of dried pig blood (pigs are sacrificed to placate Hecate’s anger), many curse scrolls and skulls are hanging in the darkness above; here lives Kurmatesha, the orc witch (HD 9; AC 9; Atk 1 staff (1d6); MV 9; spells as per her spellbook below); she has the horn of the mountain cedar which summons twelve tengu once per day: crow-headed, flying swordsmen (HD 5; AC 7; Atk 1 two handed glass swords (2d6); MV 9 fly); if attacked she will polymorph into a shadow wolf (HD 9; AC 7; Atk 1 bite (2d6); MV 12; howl of pain (anybody touching the ground within 60 ft. must save vs. petrification or be stunned for a round and save vs. death or suffer 1d6 damage from bleeding ears)
  10. the cave of the crow god is locked behind a magically sealed door, its surface protected by a magic coating making it resistant to green slime; a flight of stairs leads down into a big cave filled with a lake of green slime; this is where the big amphoras are refilled once a month; the lake is protected by the green avatar of slime (HD 19; AC –; Atk 1 pseudopod (deposits a blob of green slime); MV 1)

Successful communication with the slime avatar using ESP will reveal that there is an “elder brother” in the area, a free manifestation of slime power, an Ooze Lord at the center of the big ring. To reach him, a petitioner has to be fully covered in slime and wade past the three teeth of rana. Kurmatesha’s protection from slime spell may come in handy.

Things to do:

The orcs are interested in adopting humanoids into their tribe. Whosoever saves an orc’s life is eligible for blood brotherhood and marriage into the tribe.

There is no religious conflict between the crow god Odin and the queen of witches, Hecate. Both of them are required. What tension remains is entirely due to the personalities of Vialashta and Kurmatesha.

Vialashta says Kurmatesha says
Odin is the god of crows and he taught us how to read Hecate is the goddess of witches and taught us how to cast spells
the crow god’s hanging tree gives us power over the undead the witch grants us power over the beasts
the crows are spying for us the air sharks fight for us
our temple has been turned into the lair of a slime avatar the fertility powers of Hecate makes our tribe strong

Kurmatesha would love the party to sink one of the mind eater panzer ships (see Bone Crusher). She is willing to trade spells.

Kurmatesha’s Spellbook
1st level 2nd level 3rd level 4th level
the charming gaze of a witcharcane locking of doors and portalsbarriers against all sorts of aerial missilesutter transformation of the self
detection of causal anomalies and arcane effectsriding a broomprotective coating against slimes and oozes
the languages of men and animals

Vialashta would love the party to help her seed the underworld with hanging trees. She knows of several rituals that she might teach students of the crow god.

  1. the making of a crow cloak requires the student spend seven days under a hanging tree with at least one corpse on it, sitting by a fire burning with myrrh and chanting the names of six hundred lesser bird demons; every day a hundred crows will come and eat of the corpse, dropping a single feather; the student must collect these feathers and stitch them to a black cloak made using the hide of a black horse
  2. the hallowing of a hill requires the student to bury forty dead bodies under a hill; each body needs their eyes to be gouged and their toungues to be cut; their mouth must be filled with crow feathers and crow student must wear a crow cloak while performing the deed while singing the praise of Odin with a hoarse voice
  3. the gallow runes of power requires the student to obtain a twig of a black oak, a pound of silver dust and twenty one pigs; a small ditch is dug around a hallowed hill with five lines forming a pentagram inside this circle; the ditch is filled with silver dust and then all the pigs are slaughtered on the hill, their blood filling the ditch; the student must do all this stark naked and smear their entire body with blood; at the end, the student must plant the twig at the top of the hill and water is with their own blood and tears; the hanging tree will draw demonic power from the ground and grow within the next night
  4. the eye of wisdom requires the student to carefully hang themselves from a hanging tree and scream Odin’s name until their foaming lips turn black (this usually takes about an hour); the student then needs to gouge their right eye with a glass knife and offer it to the dark god of crows; doing this will allow the student to turn into a crow once per day, speak to crows at will and to see through any crow’s eyes within a one mile radius
  5. mastery of the shapeless form requires the student to raise two wolves; when howling together with these two wolves, all jellies, oozes, slimes, puddings and other such amorphous monsters must recoil; this is how the slime avatar and the curd demon are kept confined to their respective basins