Dead Orcs Society Solo Adventures – Zurgas


September 22, 2011 by deadorcs

Continuing my series on solo adventures, this week, we take a look at the solo adventure our groups Paladin went through.

Zurgas is a Tiefling Paladin of Pelor. He was originally being trained as an assassin, but after he witnessed the brutal slaying of a child, he had an epiphany and a nearly 180º turn around in philosophy. Confessing his sins, Zurgas pleaded with the local church to allow him to train as a Paladin for Pelor. After some close scrutiny, they decided to put Zurgas through a series of tests to prove his worth. The adventure that follows was one of those tests.

As a reminder, each adventure follows a simple (but easily adaptable) formula:

Encounter one uses minions and sets the hero on the path.

Encounter two utilizes a simple skill challenge.

Encounter three uses both minions and a level appropriate “boss” figure roughly equal to the hero’s strength. The difficulty of this encounter is based on how well the hero does during the skill challenge just prior. If the hero fails the skill challenge, this challenge will likely include several minions as well as the “boss” figure.

Here’s what the encounter looks like (encounter created in Masterplan 11.1). Please note that when writing adventures for myself, I often leave out the minor details of certain things so that I have room to ad-lib with the player. If the notes from the adventure below do not seem polished, this is why.

You’ll also note that I while Masterplan assigns XP to the various encounters, I did not track this. These adventures were designed as flashbacks. Skip to the bottom to see the followup.


An adventure for 1 character of level 1.
By Randall Walker


A Ghoulish Task

It seems like an ordinary day. The sun is out, there are a few clouds, and the bustling populace of Fallcrest can be heard below. Ahead of you, parishioners file into a run-down church, the looks on their faces sad and fearful. As the last one slips inside, a single scrap of paper slips from its grasp and lodges into a bush near the entrance. Now, as you stand just inside the gate of the “Church of The Everlasting Light”, you have a feeling that you are being watched.

In an effort to prove his worth to Pelor, Zurgas must sanctify an abandoned church in Pelor’s name. Even before he can get to the building proper, however, ghouls from the graveyard outside the church move to thwart him.


Encounter 75 XP
Level 1
Opponents 3
Ghouish Defiler x3
Moderately bright light (shaded daylight).
Features of the Area:
The various gravestones within the cemetery provide partial cover to anyone ducking down behind them.

The hero begins at the gates of the cemetery surrounding the church. The ghoulish defilers begin at randomly selected gravestones.

The ghoulish defilers are brutal in their determination to stop the hero from entering the church, hoping their bites will slow their enemy. The creatures will attack until destroyed.


Scrap Of Paper
The hero will note a small scrap of paper that flutters from a parishioner’s prayer book and lodges in a nearby bush. On the paper are printed the words, Orcus protect us. Orcus save us from the light to be embraced in your eternal darkness. 

Just below that is scrawled in barely legible common, Someone save us!

Ghoulish Defiler 
Medium natural humanoid (undead)
Level 1 Minion Soldier 
25 XP
HP 1 Initiative +2
AC 15; Fort 14; Ref 16; Will 13 Perception +0
Speed 8, climb 4
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic; Vulnerable 5 radiant
Standard Actions
Ghoulish Bite ♦ At-Will
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
4 damage and the target is slowed (save ends).
Skills Stealth +11
Str: 14 (+2) 
Con: 15 (+2)
Dex: 19 (+4) 
Int: 10 (+0)
Wis: 11 (+0) 
Cha: 12 (+1)
Alignment Chaotic evil
Languages Common


Sanctify the Congregation

Slamming open the door, you hear a low murmuring – dark prayers to the demon Orcus. Amazingly, the priest at the head of the congregation looks up only briefly. Seeing you, he returns to his prayers, chanting louder this time.

Confronted with a congregation filled with recently converted Thralls of Orcus, Zurgas must use his holy ability to exercise members of the congregation.

Sanctify the Congregation 200 XP
Level 1 
Complexity 2 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills
Heal (DC 12): Using a healing touch, the hero proves the power of his faith. The hero can use this skill any number of times to complete the challenge.
Success: The thrall is converted and sees the light of Pelor, his faith spreads to two adjacent thralls. The hero gains 1 success.
Failure: The thrall is not converted. The hero gains 1 failure and an armed parishioner appears at the pulpit next to the preacher.
Religion (DC 8): Using the power of his faith, the hero’s words convert a thrall once again to a faithful of Pelor. The hero may use this ability once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall to a member of the faithful of Pelor. The hero gain 2 successes, and two adjacent parishioners convert as well.
Failure: The hero fails to convert a thrall and gains 1 failure. An armed parishioner appears next to the priest at the head of the congregation.
Other Skills
Any Radiant Power (DC 12): The hero uses any power with the Radiant keyword, but does no damage. This ability can be used once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts an thrall effected by the power instead of doing damage. The hero also gains 2 successes and removes 1 armed parishioner from the stage next to the priest.
Failure: Another armed parishioner is summoned to the side of the priest at the head of the congregation.
Diplomacy (DC 19): The hero attempts to convince a thrall to convert. The hero can use this ability only once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall into a faithful of Pelor. The hero gains 1 success.
Failure: The hero fails to convince the thrall to convert. The hero gains 1 failure and an armed parishioner appears next to the priest at the head of the congregation.
Endurance (DC 12): Tapping his reserves of faith, the hero pushes ahead with converting the congregation. The hero may use this ability once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero gains a +2 on his next Heal or Religion check when converting a member of the congregation.
Failure: No effect.
Lay On Hands (DC 12): The hero uses a Lay On Hands power to prove his faith to a member of the congregation. This ability can only be used twice during this skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall, and two adjacent thralls. The hero also gains 2 successes.
Failure: No effect.
If the hero succeeds in the skill challenge, the thralls all begin to shake off their condition and begin praying loudly to Pelor, sanctifying the church. They begin to leave, shuffling out of the church, leaving only the priest and one or two armed parishioners.
The few converted thralls flee, but the rest remain, spreading out in a circle. The priest and several armed parishioners move forward to attack. The church remains defiled.

Secrets Revealed

As the priest and his minions move to confront you, you realize something shocking. You KNOW this man!

In this final confrontation, Zurgas must face an old foe, in the guise of a priest of Orcus!

Encounter 175 XP
Level 4
Opponents 4
Bludgeon, Human Assassin/Priest
Armed Parishioner x3

Moderate bright light (indoors at daylight).

Features of the Area

The long benches (or pews) are difficult terrain. Crawling over them is easy, but the movement is treated as moving over difficult terrain. Ducking down behind a pew grants partial cover. 

For this encounter, it’s possible that some parishioners loyal to Orcus might be standing around watching the outcome of the fight. These parishioners do not attack, but can be moved through as difficult terrain. Standing behind a parishioner grants partial cover.

The hero begins somewhere on the floor of the sanctuary, based on the result of the skill challenge just prior to this encounter. 

Bludgeon and his faithful start at the edge of the stage at the far end of the sanctuary.

A hero attempting to convert followers back to Pelor will attract a great deal of attention. Bludgeon will send his minions to attack. If that fails to thwart the hero, Bludgeon will use his ranged attack until the hero closes the distance. At that point, Bludgeon will use his mace in melee combat. Bludgeon fights to the death, for he knows the Assassin’s guild will kill him if he is thwarted. 

Remaining unconverted followers, will drift out of the church, dejected. Many will be greeted by brethren in an attempt to continue the work the hero started.

Items Of Note:
Hidden behind the pulpit are Peloran Bands These armbands provide a boon to followers of Pelor that don them.
Bludgeon, Human Assassin/Priest 
Medium natural humanoid
Level 1 Controller
100 XP
HP 28; Bloodied 14 Initiative -1
AC 15; Fort 14; Ref 13; Will 12 Perception +0
Speed 6
Standard Actions
Mace Of Conversion (necrotic) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
1d8+4 necrotic damage.
Mace of Corruption (necrotic) ♦ At-Will
Range: Ranged 10
Attack: +4 vs Fortitude
1d6+3 necrotic damage and ongoing 1 necrotic damage (save ends).
Skills Acrobatics +6, Intimidate +5
Str: 16 (+3) 
Con: 12 (+1)
Dex: 12 (+1) 
Int: 10 (+0)
Wis: 10 (+0) 
Cha: 10 (+0)
Alignment Evil
Languages Common
Armed Parishoner 
Medium natural humanoid
Level 1 Minion 
25 XP
HP 1 Initiative +0
AC 14; Fort 12; Ref 10; Will 10 Perception +0
Speed 6
Standard Actions
Club (Weapon) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
4 damage.
Str: 14 (+2) 
Con: 12 (+1)
Dex: 10 (+0) 
Int: 9 (-1)
Wis: 10 (+0) 
Cha: 11 (+0)
Alignment Unaligned
Languages Common
Equipment club
Treasure Parcels
Peloran Bands
These bracers shed light in a 2 square radius, granting limited vulnerability to radiant damage to undead creatures.

In addition, the bands provide a daily power that allows the wearer to regain the use of one healing surge.


The Feedback:
I’ve been playing with Alex for over 10 years. He’s a solid gamer, but even today is a little shy about how to work out the role-playing aspects of his characters. Given some direction, though, he can lock down on something and role-play the shit out of it. Yesterday, before the adventure, I got to sit down with Alex and discuss themes (remember, I’m introducing themes) and also asked him if his Paladin, Zurgas had any quirks. He wasn’t sure, but he liked the idea. I love character development so it was hard not to just throw a bucket load of ideas at him. One thing we did know, was that a pivotal moment in his youth, he witnessed a fellow member of the local assassin’s guild kill a child. From that point on, he has been very protective of children. I suggested a quirk that had to do with children. Maybe he likes to make toys or candy (he’s an alchemist) for the children when he comes to visit. I’m not certain what he’ll decide on yet, but he was digging the direction. The nice thing about these quirks is that they have no real mechanical game impact. Giving a toy to village orphan is not going to give him a +1 to anything. It’s just a quirk that brings his character to life.
As we played through the adventure, I challenged Alex on the different ways skills & powers can be used in order to further role-playing goals. When it was all over, I think I feel safe in saying that he has a new appreciation for his character. I look forward to seeing some really cool moments from Zurgas from here on.
SIDE NOTE:  I have updated the notes on the previous solo adventure for Akumahn.  You can find that in a previous post.
Feel free to steal any or all the elements of the brief encounters listed above. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback regarding solo adventures, skill challenges, or anything else for that matter. In among other posts, you’ll see the remaining adventures as my players schedule time with me to play.
Until next time…
Game excellently with one another.

2 thoughts on “Dead Orcs Society Solo Adventures – Zurgas

  1. R.M. Walker says:

    @dnddad – I'm glad you're getting something out of the articles. I'm hoping that what DMs will realize, is that you can use a similar format for an adventure (in this case, solo adventures) and re-skin that adventure, tailoring it to the specific player character. Look for 3 more of these as the rest of my players get their turn. Thanks for coming by!

  2. dnddad says:

    Thanks for a really inspirational blog I have to say I just love your theme ideas. I haven't been a DM quite as long as your good self so it was great to learn a tip or two from a more experienced Dungeon Master.

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