Wagons Circled (EL 6)

Wagons Circled (EL 6)

Winter clings to the land. The roads are barely visible and deep snow drifts fill every depression. The clouds are grey and heavy with the threat of yet more snow. Late in the day the PCs come across a group of brigands preying on a merchant caravan.

You crest a hill overlooking the great Wildfire River to your left and snow shrouded hills to your right. The great river meanders through this broad valley and the Great Trade Road to the Free City continues north east. The sound of battle rises from a circle of merchant wagons near a copse of snow laden trees. Brigands are attacking the caravan from horseback and foot. Most are human but you see some tall brutish gnolls amongst them.

Creatures: 3 Mounted Brigands, 10 Human Bandits, 4 Gnoll Hunters, 2 Panicked horses.

Eighteen merchants and guards are still alive and fighting on the inside of the wagon circle. More than twenty dead brigands lie in the snow, mostly from arrow and spear wounds. The combat has deteriorated into a hand to hand brawl and two of the ten wagons are on fire.

Tactics: The wagons are 200 feet (40 squares) away and it will take several rounds for the PCs to join the fray. Left to their own defence the merchants will be overrun and killed in ten rounds. Rather than roll every brigand and merchant attack use the following timeline for the fight:

Round 1: The mounted brigands throw lit torches which ignite two wagons.

Round 2: Another brigand falls from his horse shot by an arrow.

Round 3: One of the wagons on fire explodes spreading fire to a third wagon and exposing a gaping hole in the merchant’s defences.

Round 4: The brigands rush to exploit the hole in the wagon circle – immediately cutting down a guard.

The mounted brigands will ignore the advancing PCs until they are 100 feet (20 squares) away, then they wheel their horses and charge with a trample and mace attack. Then they switch to lassoes and try the drag PCs around the wagon circle.

Morale: The gnolls fight to the death. The brigands will turn and run in the direction of the hills when 7 of their number have fallen.

Features of the Area:

Trees: The trees along the frozen lake edge are large enough to provide cover.

Panicked Horses: Two of the brigands have been felled from their horses which are now panicking. Each turn these horses take a move action and move in a random direction (roll a d10 with each result corresponding to a square around their current position, on a 10 they remain in that square). Characters starting their turn in a square adjacent to a panicking horse are subject to an opportunity action: +4 vs. AC; 1d6 + 4 damage. Characters can attempt to bring a horse under control by succeeding a Diplomacy, Insight, or Nature check (DC Moderate). Each time a character fails a check, the horse makes an additional kick attack.

Wagons: Each wagon is a large vehicle and has AC 3, Fortitude 10, Reflex 3, and 100 hit points. Entering the wagon’s space costs 2 extra squares of movement. Each square in the wagon’s space counts as difficult terrain.

A creature can climb inside the wagon’s enclosed interior by entering the wagon’s space and succeeding on a DC 10 Acrobatics check. A failure means the creature falls prone in the wagon’s square, while a failure by 5 or more means the creature falls prone in an unoccupied square adjacent to the wagon.

Wagons on fire deal 5 fire damage to adjacent targets and 2d6 fire damage to targets within the wagon’s space. The wagons are filled with a variety of goods ranging from barrels of fish oil to furs and ropes.

Treasure: The brigands have a combined total of 62gp, 128sp and 54cp on them. Their weapons are of serviceable quality if carried to a town for sale.

Development: The merchants hail the party as heroes for their timely arrival. They are led by a red-faced merchant name Timlon who thought that the brigands would have not dared attacks this close to the Free City. By pushing his caravan this little bit further he hoped to gain an advantage on less adventurous competitors who choose to wait until the weather cleared. He now deeply regrets his decision.

Timlon offers food and supplies in payment for the PCs aid and tells them he intends to travel south, trading in the cities and towns along the way, and will not return until these brigands are taken care of.

His guards and trail-hands think he is crazy and should have turned back yesterday. This is more than they signed on for!