The Dark Forest
A short solo Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure for a single 1st level dwarven fighter
played by somebody new at tabletop roleplaying games.
by Stelios V. Perdios
The adventure begins in the character's hometown (decide on the name during character creation). The player is presumably new to the hobby, so make sure he or she understands his or her character sheet. Keep in mind that the dwarven +1 bonus to hit against orcs and -4 "bonus" to AC against ogres will come to play later in this adventure. Get the player to roleplay a little. Emphasize that this is a pseudo-medieval society without modern conveniences (no maps, few well-maintained roads, lots of serfs, etc.)
When all is ready, explain to the player:
--There's little adventuring to be had here. The town is boring.
--The exciting world outside your home village awaits.
--You hear (via rumors or somebody posting a note in the town market place) that the village of Dukna is hiring mercenaries to deal with the monster raids from the Dark Forest.
--Dukna is located about two day's journey on foot to the North.
--There is a trail, but it is seldom traveled in these dark times.
The Journey to Dukna
--Great weather for traveling. A warm wind blows from the south.
--This is your first adventure, you against the world.
--Meet a merchant on the road, selling lucky trinkets. The merchant says the character will need some good luck. Creatures stalk the road at night. His lucky charms are non-magical, but range from 10 silver pieces to 2 gold piece in price.
Afternoon and evening:
--The good whether continues. No other travelers.
--That evening the wind shifts, blowing cold air from the north.
--Making camp? Making a fire? (Fire can keep animals away, but can attract monsters--you may want to tell this to the player).
--Ask if the character is sleeping.
--If the character has made a fire, two kobolds try to sneak up on the character around midnight (Thac0 20; AC 7; MV 6"; hp 2 each; DMG: 1d4 (daggers); XP 7 each; treasure: 12 cp each). Describe the clouds covering up the moon, the feeling of being watched. Does the character go to sleep? or pretend to go to sleep? Don't tell the player what a kobold is. Don't mention the word "kobold." Just describe the small humanoids with scaly skin and let the player's imagination do the rest.
--What does the character do with the bodies after combat?
The Next Day:
--It's colder. Grey clouds have covered the sky.
--No travelers on the trail.
--The character reaches Dukna on the southern edge of the Dark Forest just before nightfall.
--The village has only a crude stockage surrounding it--gaps.
--If the character states to the guards at the gate that he's looking for employment, they will take him to the village burgomeister (make up the burgomeister's name).
--Explains that pig-faced humanoids, lead by a monstrous giant brute,
--Offers the following terms, payment of 3 silver pieces a day if the character scouts the forest, trying to find the source of the monster raids
--If the character mentions he has experience fighting such creatures (as evidenced by the bonus on his sheet), the Burgomeister raises the price to 5 silver pieces a day
--The character is expected to begin duty in the morning.
--There are many trails in the Dark Forest, but no guide can be found since the forest has become too dangerous.
--There are no maps of the Dark Forest.
--Healing can be had at the local temple, if a suitable donation (10 gp per hit point) is made.
--The Inn costs 2 sp per night.
--If the player-character dawdles around for a day or two, have another monster raid strike at night while the character is sleeping. In the morning the Burgomeister may summon the character and ask why he isn't doing his duty
The Dark Forest
The first expedition:
The character is traveling along (making a map of the trails?) when he encounters 4 orcs on the trail up ahead (Thac0 19; AC 6; HD 1; hp 3 each; Dmg 1d6 various weapons; XP 12 each; treasure: 2d6 cp, 1d6 sp).
--Let the character surprise the orcs, emphasizing stealth and surprise against a superior enemy. Ambush.
The second expedition:
--Same as the first. But not only does he encounter 4 orcs, but also an Ogre (Thac0 15; AC 4; HD 4+1, hp 15; Dmg 1d10; XP 165; Treasure: 1d6 gp, 2d6 sp, 3d6 cp.)
--This is meant to be a tough encounter. Does the character run away? Or confront the ogre? It should teach you, the DM, how the player might handle future encounters--his or her style of play.
--The player might believe that the ogre was the leader of the monsters, since it was the biggest and strongest.
--Burgomeister isn't so sure. The player is supposed to find the source of the monsters. There must be a lair out there somewhere.
--The Burgomeister insists the character do more investigating.
Where the orcs and ogres came from, and what possible masters they serve, is up to you, the Referee, to flesh out.
Hopefully, the player enjoyed the adventure, and will be hooked on Dungeons & Dragons as I have, since the day my brother ran me through the above scenario, almost 25 years ago...