A small Mistmarch adventure site for Freebooters:
THE HUNGRY HILL
A giant once began to lose himself to his hunger. To free himself of it, he scooped out his digestive system and buried it. Even removed, though, his innards still live, and they’re still hungry.
The hill has a mouth, a tongue, teeth and a stomach. Occasionally it grabs travellers with its improbably elastic tongue, and drags them back to be devoured and digested.
A pair of extortioners, Maurice Manhunter and Cleeve of the Oaks, have set up camp nearby to loot pickings from the hill’s victims.
– A gorsey hillside, treacherous underfoot
– A cave, halfway up, its mouth sprouting with a triple row of flat, crooked stones
– At the foot of the hill, on the other side from the cave, a grove of reeking rowan-trees surround a meagre shack.
– On the crown of the hill, a rough well made by Cleeve and Maurice, opening into the cave (they use this to look down on the Hill’s victims, and offer them rescue for a price)
Maurice and Cleeve dwell here. It’s not much. A firepit, two piles of bracken to sleep on, a frame holding two wildcat carcasses for curing. A stream runs nearby.
– The old-soap stink of rowan
– A firepit, still warm
– Two piles of bracken for beds
– A rough wooden frame, on which hang the curing carcasses of two wildcats (2 rations)
– A lidded clay pot, containing an ungent of rowan. (Anyone coated in it will not be seized by the Tongue, or digested by the hill)
Hidden under the packed earth floor is the extorters’ stash: 200sp in assorted silver and gold coins. Observant characters may see the disturbed earth under Cleeve’s bedding.
Maurice Mancatcher and Cleeve of the Oaks
Maurice and Cleeve were criminals driven into the Mistmarch, who formed a pact to extort a living from the Hill’s victims. Marauce was captured by the Hill, Cleeve rescued him and learned the Hill hates rowan, and Maurice proposed an alliance. Sometimes they offer to save people from the Hill’s grasp in exchange for valuables or information; other times they poison the Hill with Rowan and make it vomit up valuables.
Maurice has lank grey hair, and mottled skin (from his exposure to the Hill’s acids). He wears leathers and wields a noose-and-stick. He is canny, bitter, apparently affable.
Cleeve has short, shorn hair and hard grey eyes. She wields a cleaver and buckler and wears an ill-fitting mail shirt, secured with belts. She rarely speaks, and is wary and grim
– Intelligent, Organised
– Noose-and-Rod (d3 damage + snare and strangle, piercing)
– 6 hp, 1 armour
Cleeve of the Oaks
– Intelligent, Organised
– Cleaver (d6 damage)
– 5 hp, 3 armour (chain + buckler)
– Maurice snares someone and uses them as a hostage
– Cleeve bashes a weapon from a foe’s hand
– One defends the other
Within the Hill
The Hill may either be awake or asleep. When it’s awake, it’s hungry. After it eats, it sleeps — sometimes for weeks. Halfway up the hill is a cave, which is the Hill’s mouth. The gorse and grass leading to the cave may be crushed and sodden if the tongue has been stretching out recently.
The important parts of the Hill are the Tongue, the Teeth and the Stomach Chamber.
The Hill’s tongue is improbably elastic, able to stretch for up to a mile (by which distance it’s only a foot in diameter). It is able to taste living creatures on the air, like a snake, and roves the area around the Hill (especially along the Queen’s Road) looking for prey.
– Red, bumpy, slick, serpentine
– Glistening with glutinous liquid (saliva)
– Solitary, stealthy, large
– Bulk (1d4+grab when extended; 1d8 when retracted in the mouth)
– 32 hp, 0 armour
– Vulnerability: The tongue recoils from the taste of rowan.
– Retreat: If it loses half its hit points, it abandons its hunt and retracts.
– Seize a victim and drag it back to the Hill
– Thrash wildly to keep foes at bay
– Crush man intruder against the roof or floor of its mouth
If awake, the Hill will try to keep people from rescuing creature’s it is devouring by gnashing its teeth. Getting past them is Defying Danger. They deal 1d10 damage, or crush equipment.
Inside the mouth it is:
– Humid as a greenhouse
– Slick and dripping with clear, glutinous slime
– Air is caustic and reeks of bile
– The tongue carpets the floor, undulating and restless
– Behind it, a sphincter-like hole leads down
– A narrow shaft above, reaching to the sky
Here, the tongue is a great, sluglike crimson mass. It will attempt to crush anyone entering the mouth, and slide them down its throat.
The throat leads, via a short, slippery tunnel (which is very hard to climb back up) to
– a large, ovoid stomach chamber with spongy ochre walls
– flooded to knee-height with simmering yellow bile
– littered with bones and small islands of sliding, half-digested matter
– a tunnel out, just above the acids, barely big enough to crawl along
When you are exposed to the stomach acids they will eat through clothes and leathers quickly, but only corrode metal. If they come into contact with skin, they burn a point of DEX (or 1d4 points, if immersed) as you suffer blisters and sores.
The tunnel out leads to the intestines, which are infested by gut-beetles. If the hill is awake, the beetles will emerge to drag anything in the stomach into the acid. If the hill is asleep, the beetles will only emerge if the intestine-tunnel is disturbed.
The intestine-tunnel knots and ultimately becomes impassable. It is full of gut-beetles.
– Horde, Small
– Mandibles (d6)
– 3hp, 3 armour
– Instinct: to drag creatures into the digestive acids
– Swarm across walls and ceiling
– Drag someone down
Assorted treasures totalling 250sp can be found in the stomach chamber with a thorough and risky search, mostly coins and simple jewellery.