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The Hellish Hound of the Highlandsby Jesper Andersen
For the past three years, travellers have avoided the highlands and mountains between Ardelphia and Bronsdale in Darokin. Farmers and shepherds reported flocks of cattle or sheep missing and investigating army patrols out of Fort Fletcher have also disappeared with alarming frequency.
Recently, adventurers investigating the menace came across a horrible dog-like monster of incredible size. It killed several members of the party but an extremely shaken girl made it back to the fort and reported the incident. Since then, the army post at Fort Fletcher has announced a sizeable reward of 10,000 gold daro to any man who can bring in the head of the monster!
Talk of the reward has attracted a number of monster hunters and adventurers to Fort Fletcher, who are now preparing to venture out into the highlands in search of the beast.
Most notable among them are:
Warwright is a Karameikan mercenary of the worst sort. Him and his band of cutthroats grew tired of spilling their blood protecting caravans out of Corunglain and left for Fort Fletcher as soon as they heard of the reward money. Warwright has had his men kidnap three children at night in a remote village and intends to use them as bait for the monster. When it arrives to eat them, his men will ambush it with spears and arrows from all sides. He does not care whether the children live or not. He does not intend to bring them back anyway.
Glantrian wizard. Arqueum is the most silent of the hunters. Nobody seems to know anything about him, except that he hails from southern Glantri and is a very accomplished magic-user. Arqueum asks questions about the beast in Fort Fletcher but never shares any of his information. The other hunters don't care very much for him.
Endano Tiaran is a Forester from Thyatis. He was raised and taught by elves and knows the ways of the wild. Endano has scouted in the area before and seen the tracks of the beast they will be hunting. He knows that it is an abomination and is well prepared for it. He is no fool and surrounds himself with a handful of loyal elven followers - all skilled in the Alfheim way of the Great Hunt. Although Endano is very closed-mouthed about his methods, most villagers around the fort bet that his party will be the one to slay the beast - or the most likely to make it back alive!
Vesgar The Mighty
Vesgar is a Soderfjord barbarian with a huge cleaver of a two-handed axe. He is immensely proud of his muscles and likes showing off his body to the ladies. Vesgar has never met a creature he could not kill, and he is extremely confident that the prize shall be his. He surrounds himself with a small group of admiring warriors who thinks he is the greatest thing since doors were installed in the Viking halls in Soderfjord.
Around Fort Fletcher there is a lot of speculation about what the beast really is and where it suddenly came from. Lots of ideas are voice in taverns and general supply stores; some speculate that the monster has somehow swam ashore from Lake Amsorak and is linked to the Curse of Itheldown Island, others maintain that it is actually a young dragon that has settled in the high mountains. Most agree, however, that the monster must originate somewhere to the north in Glantri and be the result of a mad wizard's experiments!
The Hound is indeed a terrifying monster, as tall as a house and as strong as 20 men. It can run down a horse in open terrain and bite an armoured knight in two with a snap of its jaw. As most people suspect, it did originate in Glantri, where it escaped its master some years ago.
Whether it was bred to guard something or it was simply the result of a failed experiment, no one knows. Arqueum seems to know something about its past, but he is not telling. He could want to slay the beast for a number of reasons: to right a wrong, to make up for past errors, to embarrass a political foe or cover up evidence of his own implicitly in these affairs - or he could, quite simply, be after the reward.
The DM is left to flesh out the Hound and decide whether it should have extraplanar, fiendish or even undead traits. It should have a superior sense of smell and probably also some sort of damage reduction versus normal weapons. The DM should also prepare in advance what will happen if some of his PCs try to Charm Monster the beast and succeed!