The following post contains detailed SPOILERS for Harried in Hillsfar
A free D&D 5e Adventures League module by Shawn Merwin, published by Wizards of the Coast.
A team of Foresite Irregulars was recruited in the Moonsea region a few months ago, and Bosnun called six of them together at the Inn for a consultation with Charles – as usual via a sending stone in the shape of a 6"x 1"x 1" rectangular cube. “Hello agents! I’m afraid there’s something strange happening that I need you to investigate near Hillsfar…”
At the mention of the town’s name, the dwarf cleric interrupts. “Bah, racists.” she spits out.
“The return of the Second Great Law of ‘Humans only’ is most regrettable, Mara, but today you’ll see that not everyone in the region is so narrow minded. Something unexpected happened recently at Farbough farms – I don’t know the details, but I’m sure you’ll find Bea and Ebenz most helpful. Of all the people I’ve met in my travels, I’ve never met ones with bigger hearts.”
“That’s not much to go on, Charlie,” sings Aesteal, the elf wizard.
“I know, so please investigate and report back what you find.”
Bosnun, distributes fire-breathing and healing potions – “You might need these. Fare you well!”
After a short trip to the market, the party approaches the Farbough farmhouse
It’s quite busy, as a man (who turned out to be Ebenz) is unloading a large amount of food and supplies from a cart…
A sturdy dwarf is about to fill some large barrels with water at the well.
And there are LOTS of kids running about playing with animals, each other, and in the farmyard
The party quickly gets to work helping, with the barbarian heading to the well, the druid talking to the kids, the cleric helping at the forge to mend a thrown shoe on the horse, and the others helping to unload the cart.
There is a LOT of talking, yelling, kid-screaming, and clanking noises that escape when Ebenz opens the door…
“You stocking up?” asks Barak, the young fighter. Ebenz scoffs a reply, “Ha ha! This is just to get us through tonight and tomorrow!”
As they enter with supplies, there is not much room to maneuver, nor good places to place supplies
A woman of middle years shouts above the din. In one arm she cradles an infant human, while a tiefling infant rests in a sling at her waist. There are human and non-human kids everywhere.
A pair of them are ordered upstairs to “behave until supper time”.
“That sure is a lot of children…” Barak speaks to the hand-full woman.
She doesn’t answer the man stating the obvious or slow down at all, “I’m Bea and I’ve got no time to talk right now. Welcome. Now pick up that cleaver and get to preparing that chicken if you want to eat.” pointing with her worn leather boot at a hen dodging legs running around the room.
Everyone eventually discovers that this is a makeshift orphanage, housing kids of all races displaced by the Second Law at Hillsfar.
The halfling monk, Coria, climbs the stairs passing various prepared dishes stashed there for space and finds a floor almost exclusively dedicated to clothing and sleeping space…
An old man “grandpa” is hungry and irritated at being relegated to the role of “baby sitting” the kids who were banished here. They were being a bit bratty, until they meet Coria an pepper he with attention. The monk notices something odd about one of the kid’s hands…
Meanwhile, just outside the window: While playing with the children and their cat, Druid Lea notices that several of the human children all look to be about the same age and have similar features.
When she remarks on it the girl responds, “Yes! my 5 brothers and sisters and I all have the same birthday!”
“Wow! That’s rare” Lea responds. Then she notices an even more rare thing – they each have 6 fingers. Otherwise the look completely normal. She’s astonished, “Do you all have 12 fingers?”
The boy responds “Yes! And 12 toes too! That makes…” and he starts counting on all his fingers… "Um… 124 I think… wait… no… 141..142…142.. 144 for all of us. THAT IS A BIG NUMBER, can you count that high?
The cleric learns from the man working the forge that the only “odd” thing happening was the birth of the sextuplets and their odd deformation.
Unaware this discovery, the wizard is curious about the goats in the yard and the children playing there. A kid with six fingers has his head stuck in the barn door…
Wha’ts the matter with Jovee?
There’s a loud bleating, as if an goat was letting out a dying scream and then the boy slams open the door and runs in shouting “Jovee! WHAT’S WRONG! HELP!!”
Aesteal runs into the barn, quickly followed by the Barbarian Trond.
Inside they see a she goat laying on a bed of hay, obviously in labor – but with a horribly distended abdomen. “That looks about four times larger than I think it should be – Trond, call Lea!”
“Jovee. What’s wrong with her? Mom said she could have the kids by herself, but something’s wrong…”
Lea leaps into the barn and immediately examines Jovee and whispers to her friends "… it’s bad … she’s not likely to survive this, whatever it is. Better gather the others, this might be the trouble we’ve been looking for.
Lea takes over the delivery, tapping all of her experience with animals – reaching inside the womb she exclaims “that is a lot of legs… a LOT of legs. What’s your name, son?”
“OK Verner, this is going to be hard, but Jovee needs your help if she’s going to get through this. Can you help me?”
“I don’t know how!”
“Verner, just hold her head and talk to her gently, try to distract her as much as you can. You keep her eyes locked on you, OK? Good job!”
Then she guides the first kid out – but it’s huge! It’s the size of a young adult. It’s fur is blood red, not just from the birth, but fibers are red through and through. But, most odd of all, it has TWO HEADS, completely functional.
Others are beginning to arrive and are whispering amongst themselves… Mora moves toward the goat and draws her holy symbol and cast something. Verner jumps up and tries to interpose himself “NO! It’s not her fault! Don’t hurt her!” – having determined no fiends were about, Mora backs down.
Meanwhile, a second age-accelerated goat is delivered by Lea – still red like the other, but fortunately with only one head.
“There are more coming, many more!”
A third. By now, many of the Irregulars have reached the barn. A fourth “It’s getting crowded, we should lead these out to pasture…”
A fifth, and finally a sixth. “Hand me a healing potion and let Verner and I see if we can save the mother…”
Soon they are all in the yard – exploring the world for the first time.
Lea succeeds in sparing Jovee and leave to clean up in the watering trough, while Mara attempts “Speak with Animals” to communicate with the two headed goat.
Two distinct voices ring hear head “PAIN!” “uuunnngg” “When will it end.”
Mara quickly intuits continued changes by yelling “This one’s going to explode.”
She’s still connected to the goat-spirits “She knows!” “We are revealed, complete the transformation now!”
With the horrid sounds of skin stretching, bones popping, and horns growing at a unbelievable pace, the first born transform into a giant two headed goat demon!
And it charges off to attack, by goring Lea near the trough, but takes a lot of damage along the way. When it falls, it’s demon spirit jumps into another of the red goats (and it orders the other 4 goats to attack as well – and two of them critically injure the farm shepherd.)
This seals the fate of the litter, and soon the demon goat is alone in combat.
After some amazing Demon Goat Parkour by Coria – the goat is defeated.
The heal the shepherd and all go in to rest while sharing an evening meal with the largest family they’ve ever met. "This is what Charlie meant by having ‘the largest heart’ he’d ever met.
Reporting back after dinner they hear “Agents! This is most disturbing news. If this is the work of the two-headed demon Demogorgon. I am afraid that he will try to make use of the nearby cemetery at Church of Waukeen. I know you’d rather rest, but now that the demon knows we’re on to him, time may be of the essence, so head out within the hour! Waiting to morning may be too late!”
After collecting a few gifts (a silver scythe and a potion or two) the head out in the direction of the abandoned church in the dead of night.
(ignore the lights, please.)
From a ways off, it becomes apparent that something is happening in the graveyard next to the church
Among the Tombstones
Lea transforms into a rat and scouts ahead, moving deftly between the headstones to get a good look.
There are grave robber cultists loading a cart with bodies. The cart is pulled by a Rothé Zombie.
They’re mumbling about the “Dark Prince” being happy about more bodies.
Lea then investigates the church itself, squeezing under the front door
She transforming back to a human in order to block the Crypt hatch from the outside using a broken old pew.
Then back into the shape of a Rat to escape and head back to the group, reporting what she saw.
Prepared for battle, they returned to the graveyard.
Though they were detected by the cultists, the Irregulars were able to get off some useful spells before the Rothé Zombie was able to do much damage. First was Faerie Fire!
…and then it was driven off by Mara’s effective use of Turn Undead.
The combat went quickly, with one cultist disengaging when his companion fell – running directly for the church. Where he paused as if to intentionally draw the party that direction.
He was captured on the steps. “The Dark Prince will have you now!” – but not
providing any other information than to point at the doors…
The commotion outside had triggered some sort of noise response inside. So rather than be subtle, the group decided to bust the doors in. There was no doubt whatever was inside knew they were coming.
Coria and Lea had gone to the back door, and found it much easier to open.
Inside they found the pew cast aside, and the doors to the crypt locked.
More pounding. More wood splintering, revealing the stairs down…
The Crypts of Waukeen
Rushing down to face their foes…
…reveals a not-so-well-hidden exit in the form of the standing casket.
This crypt is much larger, and well lit by braziers.
As they approach they can see that the local priest (Mara knows him) is awaiting them. He is not alone as there are shadowy figures moving about deeper in the crypt. Mara says “This isn’t right. Be wary.”
Erve, the priest of Jergal, speaks in a weak, panicked voice: “Mara? Run!” and then quickly the voice changes to something more sinister and threatening: “More fleshy bodies for my master’s army!” and the voice shouts “Protect the braziers!”
Trond works himself into a barbarian rage and charges into the room, and immediately takes a half-dozen arrows from cultists – somehow surviving this barrage.
“Avoid hitting the priest!” goes out the shout from Mara as the rest of the group enters. “Disable the braziers instead.”
A combination of a Thunderwave from Lea and a Sleep from Aesteal drop three cultists quickly, but leaves Lea vulnerable. She goes down, and is weakened by the Shadow possessing Erve.
The battle is a blur, with Irregulars spreading throughout the crypt, killing cultists and kicking over the braziers.
Upon the last stand being destroyed, the Shadow leaves the priests body.
“I will still have THIS one!” and the dark form reaches for Erve’s heart.
“NO!” and Mara throws a holy Guiding Bolt at the creature – it is usually powerful and the Shadow is vaporized.
[So ends our time together. Has it really been four hours already?]
I’d like to thank everyone at @BigBadCon for accommodating my at the last moment, especially @seannitter who personally made it happen.
Of course, my players made the story what it was, and took nearly ALL of these photos – so thanks to them both for making my first convention GM session a blast, and for cooperating in taking more than 100 pictures.
I’d also like to thank @shawnmerwin for writing Harried in Hillsfar, and the great feature of it having five independent segments – which I was easily able to adapt to my time available.
And, in an unusual twist, I’m posting a picture of the DM (myself) here, for those who may have dropped by while we were playing and were wondering what they’d miss. Yup, if you weren’t at our table, you missed something. But at least I got pictures, so it happened!
If you are interested in seeing more papercraft terrain in action, start at oldschooldm.com If you want to learn about building paper terrain, props and minis, please checkout out (and join) the community I hang with Cardboard Warriors I also post notices at @oldschooldm
There were a LOT of other props mixed in with this game, please see RPGNow for a complete listing of available paper terrain products.