The Beast of Haverton
by Mark Fradley (Dain)

A mini-adventure for low-level adventurers

Map of Haverton and surroundings
The Hursh Valley
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The Village of Haverton
The Village of Haverton is the largest of several villages, nestled in the Hursh Valley, The villages of the Valley provide livestock, grains and vegetables. It is fed by a fast-flowing river from the Amber hills far to the north and flows into the Fesh Sea far to the south.
Centuries ago the peaceful Village of Haverton was plagued by a terrifying beast. From what the records show, it brought chaos and destruction to the villages of the Hursh Valley for two years before being destroyed by a group of powerful heroes.
Over the last 3 months animals have been found mutilated in the surrounding fields and forests. Investigations have revealed little; a rogue bear, being the official explanation at this stage.
After the Harrow family were found slaughtered on their outlying farm, villagers now fear that a new Beast has returned. The village has posted a large reward for finding and destroying the creature, whatever it may be.
Plot Background (GM)
The scenario is designed with a low-level party in mind that would struggle against such a powerful beast.  Should they fail to act on the clues the fight should be very tough but not beyond them. You could also have one contract lycanthropy. A group of smugglers, while attempting to make their jobs easier, performed a fake ritual to create fear after dark in order to keep their smuggling secret.  The Hursh Valley is known for its superstitious folk and has many household rituals for good harvest or fertility. The fake ritual was different however, with animal blood splattered across the area and occult symbols scratched into the soil. This was guaranteed to stir up fear and memories of the legend of the Beast.
The ritual site was discovered by local farmers (the Appleby family) whilst travelling from their farm to the home of local “witch” and healer, Yenith.  The ritual site was no great distance from her home which is remotely located away from the main village. The purpose of their visit was to request her help with one of their cows suffering a breach birth, Yenith did all she could but unfortunately both mother and calf were beyond hope.
The bitter Applebys blamed Yenith for their expensive loss and quickly associated her both with the evidence of a dark ritual and the loss of cow and calf at her hand.  Local militia officer, Erin, found no explanation for the ritual but the village rumour mill, with help from the Appleby family, quickly embellished the story. Village hysteria was well primed for the later discovery of the murdered Harrow family.  Erin’s investigations into the murder have uncovered no leads, allowing rumour to fill the gaps. The ancient story of the Beast has now mixed with Yenith’s ritual and suspicion against her is rife, while few now venture out after dark.
The Ritual unknowingly triggered a family curse, awakening a werewolf within one of the smugglers. The smuggler/werewolf now hunts anything it finds on the full moon. Assuming full moon to run over three nights per cycle, attacks will happen in small concentrations with breaks between.
The aim of this adventure is not to lead to a straight-out fight, but to utilise unusual means to fight the beast:
  • silver dust to weaken it (removing invulnerabilities)
  • silver nails in the footprints to slow it
  • wearing an enchanted skin to lure it
For this they will need silver.  Both the Mayor and the Blacksmith have stores, but will not give it up easily. (or even admit they have it.)
Characters (GM Notes)
The Smugglers
The smugglers consist of a small group, Denik, The Harrows, James Flynn and The Garrots
These families were all present at the ritual and James Flynn, the great grandson of the previous beast, had his family curse awoken.
The smugglers report less taxable goods, beers, wines etc to the kings tax collectors than are acquired, and sell off the excess. Additionally, the lands of the Hursh valley are especially good at growing the illegal Hashier weed (a narcotic banned across the kingdom for its highly addictive and hallucinogenic properties) and there are secret patches across the valley ready to be harvested and sold.
The Beast
The beast is created as a result of a curse. Denik's false ritual magically activated the curse in James Flynn’s blood;  it now hunts by full moon, tearing apart all it finds.
James Flynn
James is by all accounts a nice guy. He  runs his farm alone and is a quiet but respected member of the community.
When he found he was infected, James was seduced by the power unlocked within him. In human form he has become quicker, stronger, heals faster and seems to have become slightly younger.
He has laid traps around the farm, knowing, one day his secret will come out and people will come for him. His nature has changed but he hides his new arrogance and cruelty behind his former image.
Denik Butcher - The Village Mayor
Denik is a short man now in his late 50's and much of his former muscle has run to fat. He is an overweight, sweaty man who is feeling the pressure of his position.  A Merchant by trade, Denik all but bought his position and uses his connections in his legal and illegal dealings. It is unknown why he settled in such a quiet backwater; he could be running from those he swindled, hiding from the law or any other reason you can think of.

Denik runs the local smuggling ring, claiming far lower village production of goods, to the kings tax gatherers, and getting very rich by skimming off the top. He is very careful around Erin who is pious and law abiding, giving her no reason to suspect his criminal activities. His currant gang is very small and close-knit.

Denik’s wife Martha is of similar build and sour by nature, she is over proud of her position of power.
Denik will tell the party nothing more than what is generally known, though he may add whatever disinformation he feels will help cover his tracks, but he will direct the party to the village militia.
Father Brown
The local priest. He is knowledgeable about the local history. A small and meticulous man. He can tell the party the location of the heroes' tomb and give access to records.
Yenith - The Witch In The Woods
Yenith is an old woman, who lives alone in the nearby Thorn woods. She is usually shunned until there is a difficult birth, a painful death or disease - then the village comes calling, begging for her aid.
Crooked of back, toothless and walking with a stick. She looks the classic witch, when in fact she is simply a wise woman and superb herbalist. Should the attacks continue the village will blame her first, locking her in her house and burning her alive.
Erin-Militia woman
Erin is a young human woman about twenty five, years old. She looks tired. Erin is honest and trustworthy.  She has a genuine desire to get to the truth and prevent both further attacks and a mob vigilante response.
Erin can reveal that the attacks were all done by the same creature - something big, fast and strong. She can point them in the direction of Yenith, as maybe responsible: ”Everyone knows she's a witch!” The remains of a ritual site were found near her hovel, just before the animal attacks started, but no evidence has been found about who performed the ritual or its purpose. There are many small rituals performed out here by the valley folk to ask for a good harvest or promote good fortune.
Erik Woodsman- The Blacksmith
Erik is the village blacksmith, a greedy bully, his large size and demeanour make him hard to intimidate.
If persuaded to create silver goods. he must be watched or he will substitute some of the silver out. This will reduce or negate the effects on the beast. There may be a fist fight, but if he's beaten he will grudgingly create silver powder and silver coated weapons.
The Average Village folk
The average villager is a farmer of some variety. They tend to be stocky and gruff natured; most people live outside of the village itself on their farms
The Applbys
The Applbys are a sour lot and concerned only with money. Their farm has skinny animals forlornly roaming around it. The Farm looks unkempt and the family unfriendly; if pressed they will make up tales about Yenith, including her making their cattle ill with the Ritual they found and trying to charge them when the cow and calf died.
The Applbys are a unlikeable lot with sneering, spoilt children, sour faced elderly folk and snide, deceitful parents.  The family is mainly concerned with money and will do almost anything for the right price. The Appleby's are convinced that Yenith has a fortune buried in her hovel and once she's gone they can sneak out and find it.
Places (GM Notes)
The Thorn Wood
Despite very little ever actually happening here, the Thorn wood is the subject of many rumours and local legends; a place to scare children. It contains the home of Yenith.
Some years ago a small pack of wolves moved into the Thornwood and evidence of old ruins have been seen there. Some giant spiders are also known to make their home here.
Denik's Home
By far the largest house in the Village, it is moderately furnished as would be expected of a local mayors position.
When PCs Look around, if they use spotting or a similar skill, it reveals things such as picture frames, rugs. etc. have been moved.
The cellar contains several valuable paintings and rugs, and a stash of silver goods and gold coins. hidden away in barrels, crates etc.. these have been stashed away, as the recent murder and strange events may well bring down the Local duke’s men. No sign of wealth beyond his station is on show.
The Ritual site
To an experienced caster this is a complete sham. The faint traces of occult symbols make no sense at all. There is however an underlying aura of magical energy here.
Searching round reveals ancient brickwork under the soil. Should they really dig away, they can find the remains of a summoning chamber - but, it's a full day's work.
The Temple Of The Wild
The temple serves as the heart of the nature faith in Haverton - a circular building with its centre open to the sky. It also keeps the records of the surrounding lands. Here, the players can find out  that the heroes used cunning means to defeat the beast (see plot background), as the heaviest blows did little to harm it.
They can also find, with research, that when the creature was defeated, Jebodiah Graves had also vanished without a trace -  he was the final victim of the beast. (Jebodiah was of course the beast, his cursed blood passed down from generation to generation).
The Graves' line died out, but one branch remained - the Flynn's
The White Hart Inn
The White Hart Inn is the social hub of the village. Here the party can find rumours and unwanted advice. The White Hart is run by the jolly landlord and landlady  - James and Harriet Elmswood. The head of the beast is preserved upon the mantle (this still contains dried blood for revealing the werewolf and can be reactivated by Yenith).
Flynn's Farm
James Flynn has trapped his farm’s land and houses heavily.  Straying off the path is dangerous. If revealed, he will flee here, luring the party into traps and sending any remaining wolves against them.
Initial Actions
Looking over the village
The village is a pleasant place with an old church, a blacksmith, the White Hart Inn and forty or so houses. There is a statue of a group of  adventurers in the square.
An angry mob has gathered here and a young militia woman is trying to calm them, whilst a large sweaty man looks uneasy behind her. The mob want to drag Yenith out here. They are convinced, she is responsible for the animal and human deaths. Erin will eventually get the mob to disperse, though grudgingly.
The mob has been whipped up by the Applebys; they cite not only their own recent grudge against Yenith but bring up other times in the last ten years where her skills were not enough to save animals or family, avoiding mentioning the many times her skills saved a life or limb.  
Denik Butcher - Village Mayor
Denik can tell them little more than what is known, directing them instead to the village militia. His wife Martha is of similar build and sour by nature, she is over proud of her position of power. Their house may reveal clues (see notes) whose significance only becomes apparent later.
Possible Actions
Investigating The Farm House (the murder scene)
The farmhouse door has been torn off its hinges and the house torn apart. The remains of the family have obviously been fed on. (Searching reveals huge claw marks around the house and scratched into surfaces alongside, additionally large paw prints that are not a bear's. It also reveals an empty secret storage with muddy footprints leading out after the attack, a good role finds the footprints to be several hours after.)
After the attack was found out, Denik removed the smuggled goods,  before waking the militia (the Harrows were part of his smuggling ring) - unfortunately the footprints fade out a short distance from the house. (Denik is the smugglers’ ring leader, co-ordinating goods out of the lands and to the Fesh Sea. He moved the goods as he was well aware that, Erin who is not a smuggler, would be examining the scene)
Going to Yenith's hovel
Erin may be there questioning her. (Erin is no fan of Yenith's but leaves, believing her innocent.) Yenith is just a lonely woman, who will chat away and sell them simple alchemical potions. She knows of recent animal deaths, but not the human ones and will be shocked, should she be told. If the party reveal the wolf-like attributes, Yenith will reveal that burning wolfsbane stinks to most animals and will drive them off.
Mentioning the Applbys will make her spit and curse their name; she claims they came begging at her door hours too late. They let their animals suffer for fear of spending money.
Going to the Temple of the Wild
The church is run by Father Brown, a kind and elderly man, willing to help. (see Places - Temple of the Wild)
Night 1
Attack on Yenith
Yenith will soon be faced by a mob. They are convinced she's a witch and despite the help she has given them, the mob is afraid and out for blood. The party can arrive before or after the mob.
Should they arrive before the mob, she is welcoming and chatty (she rarely has visitors), but the mob will gather and try to burn the house down.
Unless the PC's actively try to prevent it, Yenith's house should get burned down. This will make Yenith hostile to the villagers and provide the Applebys the opportunity to be caught going through the ruins, it will also present the problem of what to do with Yenith; she is effectively an outsider with no family here.
Yenith will need some persuading to help her ungrateful neighbours. If they don't arrive before the attack, the party will arrive to find her house on fire and the mob outside.  Either way, if they save Yenith, they have made their fight so much easier
You could add an unearthly howl nearby and Flynn in the back of the crowd saying he saw the beast, pulling the mob away on a wild goose chase.
Day 2
Tomb of the Heroes
The tomb lies within the Thorn wood.  This should be a challenging quest, that results in no great magical items, but the way to destroy the beast
  • An alchemical skin of  prey worn to lure the beast (the skin transforms the wearer, but maintains intelligence and speech
  • Silver dust to remove its protections. (removes any damage resistance)
  • Hammering silver nails into its tracks will slow it.
  • Wolfsbane irritates it, burning the herb drives it away.
  • Blood of a related werewolf (or its own blood) can reveal it, when forced to inhale it.
Encounter Notes
When finished, the party will likely return to the village; it should now be night, unless they waited for dawn. Walking back they get the feeling being watched. Spot checks reveal something large mirroring their march from the trees. It moves far too quickly for them to catch it out.
The idea here is for a small combat, where the beast proves to be formidable. It will stalk them, occasionally sprinting in, slashing one of them and continuing back into the tree line, whilst trying to steer them away from the Village. Let them get some blows in and witness, it starting to heal before their eyes.
Eventually, the party ends up in a patch of wolfsbane and the beast becomes wary (relevant skill identifies the herb).  The beast will roar and several wolves slink into the clearing.  After a series of growls The Beast lopes off into the night.
The wolves will attack the party, fleeing only if taking serious loses  The party now have all the information they need to defeat the beast:
  • The blacksmith can create silver dust, nails and coat weapons.
  • The blood is in the Inn and the skin is easily acquired, but needs Yenith to alchemically treat it.
 Return to Yenith’s Hut
Should the party return to Yenith’s hovel they will find some of the Applebys scouring the ashes for loot, (a possible hanging offence).  The Family will avoid combat if possible, but the party have made an enemy for themselves in the Applebys.
The Applebys could have contacts and extended family or other interests outside of the Valley that will hinder the party in future.
Night 2
Suitably equipped and prepared, the party may hunt The Beast after dark.  Depending on their plan of attack, and how they lure the creature, this may be a single combat or series of encounters leading to Flynn’s Farm for the final combat.
Arising Problems.
  • Yenith is annoyed at the villagers and wants to move in return for helping them.
  • Siding with Yenith may not endear the party to some village folk.
  • The blacksmith is greedy and likely to not produce pure silver goods.
  • The mayor and blacksmith have silver, but don't want to give up their stock.
  • Should the party dither, the werewolf will aim to pick them off.
  • Flynn will flee, if revealed, and return back to his trapped farm.
  • Enmity with the Applebys will follow the party elsewhere.