Skull Quest 5

The Fate of the Fifth Master

After the Demon War, Merrik, the fifth master, traveled throughout the northern lands. While in Borrell, he was captured by an "ice dragon" and frozen within a wall of ice in the creature's lair.

The Current Whereabouts of the Fifth Skull

The fifth skull is a part of a relatively intact body. The body of Merrik is frozen within a solid wall of ice in the lair of an ice dragon, beneath a borrellian giant’s stronghold.

The Mission

The characters must travel to the frozen lands of Borrell, find the location of the fifth skull (buried beneath a giant’s stronghold) do battle with the giant and his minions and make off with the skull.

Ragnar’s Stronghold

Deep in the frozen mountains of Borrell, there is a mount called Three Talon Peak named for the three spires of stone that stab heavenward. There is a large cave half way up the northern face of this mountain and here in dwells the giant Ragnar.

Ragnar is an aberrant, specifically a giant of the Borrellian race (If you’re playing AD&D, consider him an extra tough frost giant). He stands 6 meters tall (20 feet) and is solid muscle. He fights with a stone hammer which can crush a man with a single blow. Ragnar has lived in this cave for 5 years.

Ragnar has a miscellany of troops that consists of the following:






Hatraddi (Borrellian shaman - a sort of ice priest with a wide assortment of spells that utilize the elemental of cold: hurled ice bolts, ice storms, control winds, freeze opponents by encasing them in ice and similar feats.)



Borrellian warrior banished from his clan. This huge man fights with a huge double bladed axe forged for solid ice. This weapon was made for him by Eswanar. It does not melt and it almost unbreakable.



Ice Dragon (pet)



Vuriken (Borrellian wolves)



Snow goblins

List of Events

The Journey to Borrell
Having acquired the fourth skull in the city of Arcanum, the characters now face a journey northeast through the DarkWood Forest to the Borrellian city of Ice Gate and the frozen lands beyond. Darkwood is an excellent place for some side adventures and random encounters.

The Darkwood Forest
The ancient forest of Darkwood is a good place for an encounter or two. Feel free to throw a few side adventures at them as they make their way north.

Ice Gate
The city of Ice Gate is little more than an outpost of cabins and tents huddled on the side of a mountain. It lacks the civility and culture of cities to the south. They have little wealth here and it will be difficult to find many items which might be common in other cities. Only the most basic items of survival – food, clothing, firewood, furs, basic metal items – can be found here. Spell components, jewelry, etc. will be almost impossible to find. If the characters ask the locals what might be indicated by the map, they gain no information. Some locals will direct the party toward a trapper named Jaskar the Half Blood who is in town. They will tell the party that Jaskar knows the northlands better than any man alive.

Jaskar the Half Blood
Jaskar is a Half Borrellian and is known simply as "Jaskar the Half Blood". He is an outdoorsman, ranger, woodsman. He earns his living by trapping and selling the pelts and meat of his prey. He comes into Ice Gate about six times a year and spends the rest of the time roaming the outlands of the wild north. He is an excellent warrior and moutain man. He really does know the mountains and valleys of Borrell better than most true blooded Borrellians and is known to many of the clans. He would make an excellent guide. However, he is a loner and prefers the company of wolves to men. It will take more than gold to convince him to escort a group of southerners out into the middle of Borrell. Also, Jaskar does know about the Giant, the stronghold, etc.. If shown the map, Jaskar would figure it out, but is not likely to bother telling the party unless he has a good reason.

Journeying Into the Frozen Wastes
The journey into Borrell will be a harsh one. Even in the summer, Borrell is a harsh climate with frequent storms and record low temperatures. Even with proper gear and clothing, many of the characters will be unprepared for the unslaught of the elements that this region can summon. Knee deep snow, ice covered lakes and snow storms will slow the characters progress. It will take about 10 days to reach the area indicated by the coordinates on the map. If the party has managed to hire Jaskar, then their chances of freezing to death are much less as Jaskar won’t let them die from exposure. (He’s an honorable man and if he has agreed to serve as guide, he’ll take care of them).

The Approach to the Stronghold
Three Talons Peak is not the largest mountain in the region, but certainly a good climb. The peak is some 9,000 feet up and Ragnar’s Stronghold is at 7,000 feet. The characters will be at about 3,000 feet so they’ve got a good 4,000 foot ascent to deal with. This will take them several hours and will likely wear out the weaker members of the party.

If Jaskar is guiding the players, he will only take the party up to the foot of Three Talons Peak. He will tell the players where the giant’s stronghold is, but will not aid them in taking on the giant. If they convince him to, Jaskar will wait for them to return and escort them back to Ice Gate.

The Lower Cave Entrance
The lower cave entrance is visible from some distance away and fires will be seen. Some construction has been done. Entrance is guarded by a group of four snow wolves who will hear or smell the party coming.

Direct approach or if they are discovered – the borrellians and the ice goblins will march out to confront the party. They will declare that the characters are trespassing in the Kingdom of Ragnar and they are to be taxed. Come with them.

Stand before Ragnar, they will be taxed all of their magic items, gold, pretty much everything.

The Upper Cave Entrance
Not visible from below. You have to get further up the slope to see it. (It angles down). This upper cave is a natural cave and home to the ice dragon. This creature is a large, reptilian relative of the dragon with a frost based breath weapon. Not a true dragon.

Freeing the Body from the Ice Wall
The body of Merrik is fully encased in ice up against one wall of the cave. There are other bodies there along with miscellaneous equipment. The ice wall is several feet of solid ice. It will take several hours of chipping away at the ice with an ice pike to free Merrik’s body. A fire based spell might be able to melt away some or all of the ice, depending on the nature of the spell. A normal fire built at the base of the wall will melt enough of the wall away to free the body in about one hour.

The Fifth Skull
It should be noted that the body of Merrik is almost perfectly preserved. Rather than a skull, the players have a fully intact body to deal with. They have several options. They can take the body with them (although it will begin to rot and decay within two days unless precautions are taken). They could go about the gruesome work of severing the head from the body and burning away the flesh to reduce it to a simple skull. A paladin or cleric in the party might have a problem with treating the mortal remains of a war hero in such fashion. Possibly a good opportunity for some role playing.

The Map
Once they have the fifth skull in their possession, the characters will notice (the next time they think to look at it) that the map has changed coordinates again. This time, the glowing lines crisscross on top of the Citadel in Duthelm, indicating the final resting place for the sixth and final skull.

Concluding the Fifth Skull Quest

If Ragnar or any of his minions are aware of what the characters are up to, they will do whatever they can to stop the theft. If the characters escape with the skull, Ragnar will send the ice dragon, the goblins or the winter wolves to pursue. If serious damage has been done to his home (possibly from violent combat spells unleashed by the characters) he will pursue the characters. Ragnar is able to travel very quickly through the snowy mountains compared to the average human.

Once the characters have obtained the fifth skull, the map coordinates change. The sixth skull is located in the Citadel.

FAQ The Anchor Glyphs Prelude Skull

This page last updated Wednesday, December 24, 2008. Copyright 1990-2009 David M. Roomes.

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