Session report: The Cleansing of Cameth Brin (1)
At the weekend my friends and I convened for our first gaming session in six months. I served something I’ve been cooking up for a while: an adventure set in Middle-earth, based on material in one of the old MERP modules from Iron Crown Enterprises, remixed and tweaked for use with Swords & Wizardry Core Rules with classes taken from Mike Davison’s wonderful Drums in the Deep supplement.
The Cleansing of Cameth Brin
It is the fifteenth year of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth.
Elessar, the returned King of Gondor, hopes to commence the rebuilding of Arnor, the ruined Northern Kingdom of the Dúnedain. To make the wild lands safe, Elessar is offering gold or land to those bold folk who will root out the remaining orcs and trolls.
Lately, there have been reports of orcs skulking and scouting in the hills near Talugdaeri, a small fortified town in the Trollshaws that has been destroyed and rebuilt more times than anyone can remember. Local folk suspect the orcs have taken up residence in the old Dúnedain fortress built into Cameth Brin (“Twisted Hill”), a league to the north.
On a chilly April day, three adventurers arrive in Talugdaeri. They are:
Yreorraent, a laconic Dúnedain ranger (effectively a 4th-level cleric)
Pingle Rack, an eccentrically-dressed fighting man of uncertain origin (4th-level fighter)
Finglas, a Grey Elf from the woodland realm of Mirkwood (3rd-level fighter/magic-user)
At the Red Hooves Inn, the only hostelry in town, they hire three local Dunnish men-at-arms, somewhat surly and interchangeable, called Cormac, Fergus and Donald. Yreorraent and Pingle buy several rounds of drinks to loosen tongues, and learn a few things: (1) The valleys around here are reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of long-dead Hillmen. (2) According to legend, a Hillman bandit long ago hid his plundered wealth in a cave somewhere east of Cameth Brin. Some say the cave connects with the lowest levels of the fortress. (3) There is also supposed to be a secret way into Cameth Brin from Tir-barad Tereg, the watchtower atop the Twisted Hill. And finally (4), they hear that a fierce and capable-looking Dunnish warrior (no one caught his name, or if they did they don’t remember it) left town a week ago, heading for Cameth Brin. He has not been seen since.
The next day, the party sets out. Yreorraent uses his tracking skill to find a few footprints almost certainly belonging to the mysterious Dunlending. (He also finds lots of deer tracks, and a few boot-marks that might have been left by men or orcs.) The trail leads to a narrow gap between two hills east of Cameth Brin. Suddenly Donald spots smoke seemingly rising from the hillside. Careful investigation reveals a hidden cave entrance, blocked by a huge boulder 13 feet across. The smoke, which smells of cooked meat, emanates from a narrow cleft a few feet farther up the rugged hillside. Probably a troll hole, our heroes reckon. And possibly the cave mentioned in the legend of the Hillman bandit and his hidden loot.