A grieving artificer whose family was slain by a vicious werebeast has created the perfect anti-werebeast defense system: a silver golem.
This encounter is set at night in a wilderness town in your setting, preferably one in a pastoral area. This is the kind of town where monsters really do stalk the woods at night, and the townsfolk are likely to take rumors of werewolf activity seriously. A powerful and aging artificer (referred to here as the Grieving Artificer, name suggestions: Vorpos/Vorpa Stillsong) has arrived in town with his silver golem in tow. The golem is a menacing creature of stillness and sudden motion, a quiet thing built for brutal hunting in the dark. When the full moon rises above the town, the golem attacks.
The Grieving Artificer has arrived in your wilderness town in search of a werewolf said to prowl the area. For the past four full moons, dozens of livestock have been slaughtered, and two months ago, a local shepherd was slain in the hills. No one asked the Grieving Artificer to come (though the town may have requested other help, it either hasn’t arrived or hasn’t been effective), but they arrived anyway, with a small party of monster-hunting disciples in tow. The Grieving Artificer has accused a prominent local merchant of being the werewolf.
This is a simple conflict with just two sides:
- The Grieving Artificer believes the local merchant to be a werewolf and wants the silver golem to kill him. The golem follows orders from the GA perfectly, and do everything in its power to slay the target. The GA’s ultimate goal is to destroy every single werebeast.
- The local merchant wants to survive the silver golem’s attack, as a general rule. Depending on your game, they might also want to keep their werewolf identity a secret or prove they aren’t the werewolf.
What do your player characters want? What are their best and worst qualities? What goals are they pursuing? Read through a few of the examples below, then choose the encounter that best suits your situation.
- If you have a player who is a werewolf or other werebeast, run Encounter A. If you have a player who dislikes werebeasts or who was personally wronged by one, or if they oppose werebeasts for religious reasons, run Encounter B.
- If your party likes to take advantage of a situation for personal gain, run Encounter C. If your party likes to come to the aid of those in need, also run Encounter C.
- If your party is seeking a powerful weapon to use against a foe, run Encounter A. If you party is seeking a powerful ally with local connections, run Encounter B.
- If you have player characters who want to gain favor with a religious faction, run Encounter B. If you have player characters who want to gain favor with a military or government faction, run Encounter A.
- If your party wants to secure a trade deal or trade route, run Encounter A. If they want to destabilize a market or disrupt an economic competitor, run Encounter B.
As the sun sets, the Grieving Artificer leads a small mob to the house of a local merchant and publicly accuses them of being a werewolf. Behind him, the silver golem prepares for battle.
Setting up this Encounter
This encounter involves a notable local merchant, someone important in the wilderness town in your setting. It’s best if this is someone who already matters to the party. If the party is trying to secure a trade deal or trade route, make the notable merchant their point of contact for that transaction.
This encounter also features the silver golem, which can identify transformed (hybrid or beast form) on sight and will act without instruction to slay them. If your party contains a werebeast, telegraph this ability of the golem very early on (for example, in a speech the GA gives, or as an intuition the character has) so the werebeast character is aware of it.
The silver golem only takes orders from the Grieving Artificer, and does not seem to act without instruction. If your party is seeking a powerful weapon or to gain favor with a military or government faction, make the golem’s need for instructions from the GA clear by describing how the golem is perfectly motionless and only acts when the GA commands—except when it sees a transformed werebeast. The silver golem may be a powerful asset for the party if they gain control of it, but without the Grieving Artificer, it is of only limited usefulness.
As the sun sets in your wilderness town, the characters hear the sounds of a mob going by. The mob is small, only a dozen or so people, but they are all armed with torches, and some of them carry weapons that gleam with silver edges. At the front of the pack walks the Grieving Artificer: a gaunt figure in tattered arcane robes, followed closely by a silver golem. Describe the fear and hatred of the people in the mob. If your party has been in town for more than a day or two and has heard about the recent werewolf attacks, have one of the people who told them about the attacks be part of the mob.
The mob stops in front of the house of your local merchant—either while the party is meeting with them or soon after, while the party is still very close by—and the Grieving Artificer steps forward. He loudly accuses the merchant of being the werewolf responsible for the attacks. He says if the merchant doesn’t turn himself in before the sun sets, the golem will slay him. Local authorities are either part of the mob or close by, ready to subdue the werewolf when he turns himself in.
After this accusation is made, set a timer for your table (we recommend five minutes, but you can go less if you want them to feel the pressure). When time is up, the sun sets and the full moon rises, forcing a transformation for the werewolf merchant (if they are a werewolf in your game) and possibly for a werebeast in your party (if you have one).
If the merchant turns himself in, the local authorities bind him with silvered chains. When the full moon rises, if the merchant truly is a werewolf, the silver golem attacks anyway (since the GA’s goal is to destroy the beast, they’re pretending to go along with the authorities at first—waiting for sunset is just a way to force the beast’s hand). If the merchant doesn’t turn himself in, or tries to flee, the GA commands the silver golem to attack the merchant. Even if the merchant doesn’t seem to really be a werewolf, this attack happens—the GA is convinced and is fanatical about their goal.
The only thing that might distract the silver golem from a kill command is the appearance of another werebeast that looks like a larger threat, or perhaps the command of the GA.
Resolving this Encounter
However this encounter plays out, the Grieving Artificer will not be turned away from their goal. They can be reasoned with, and may agree to help a party seeking a weapon or a to gain favor with a military or government faction, if they help pursue the ultimate goal of exterminating the curse of lycanthropy. The GA will be very hard to coerce, as desperate people with nothing to lose often are.
If the party helps the local merchant, werewolf or not, escape death, the merchant should reward them handsomely. Their goal of establishing a trade deal or trade route should either be complete or gain a great deal of progress. Either way, the merchant rewards them with 30 gold pieces per party member, a ring of mind shielding, and a favorable letter of introduction to any (reasonable) local faction.
When the Grieving Artificer publicly declares the identity of the werewolf that’s been attacking livestock, a mob forms to go deal with the beast.
Setting up this Encounter
In this encounter, the Grieving Artificer will publicly accuse a powerful local merchant of being a werewolf. If your party is looking for a powerful local ally, make the accused werewolf the potential ally. If they instead want to destabilize a market or disrupt an economic competitor, have the werewolf be the NPC in town they’d need to target.
This encounter includes a rousing call to action from the Grieving Artificer. If your party contains characters that dislike werewolves for personal or religious reasons, have the Grieving Artificer invoke the gods and emphasize the innocence of the people killed by the beast. Have them remind the gathering crowd that the gods look with favor on those who defend the weak, and have the crowd react with righteous agreement at this statement. If your party wants to gain favor with a religious faction, have a priest or official of that faction present in the mob, representing their faction’s goals (which may be to slay the beast, or may be to urge caution, etc).
Half an hour before sunset in your wilderness town, the Grieving Artificer stands on a crate in the town square and addresses a gathering crowd. Behind him, the silver golem stands motionless and menacing. The GA shouts out that he has identified the werewolf that has been killing livestock and who last month killed a citizen. He says the clues all point to someone that the town authorities didn’t want him to pursue, but that he is publicly naming anyway.
The Grieving Artificer wants to gather a mob of justice-minded townsfolk and accuse the local merchant in their home. He has two pieces of evidence to support his claim: an eyewitness account of a local shepherd who found the merchant naked in the woods two months ago, after a full moon; and a coat of the merchants stolen from the local tailor, which has traces of blood on the sleeves. The GA is fanatical in his goal, and tries to turn the mob against anyone who doubts his conclusion. If physically threatened, he will turn the silver golem on whoever threatens him with no warning.
If the GA is unchallenged, the mob forms and marches on the merchant’s house. Run Encounter A. If the GA is challenged by the party, roll social checks as appropriate (see the Grieving Artificer stat block for details). Whenever the GA wins an opposed check, add two commoners to the mob. When the mob is at least a dozen strong, the GA gives the order to march on the merchant’s house (run Encounter A). If the situation is defused, the GA goes alone to the merchant’s house
Resolving this Encounter
For players looking to gain the favor of a religious faction, narrate how the representative of that faction in the mob notices their efforts. If the representative is swayed to the party’s side, have them report the party’s actions to the faction (with whatever favor that entails).
If the party has a non-personal interest in the werewolf, either because they need a powerful local ally or because they want to destabilize a market or disrupt an economic competitor, make sure to narrate how other merchants and local leaders know of the party’s involvement and act accordingly. Depending on how the party handled the mob, this might mean a willingness to work with them or a desire to avoid them.
If the party managed to stop the mob from attacking the accused, a personal reward is in order: 30 gold pieces per party member, a ring of mind shielding, and a favorable letter of introduction to any (reasonable) local faction.
The country roads are dangerous at night, and merchants stuck out on the road may be the target for something that hunts under a full moon.
Setting up this Encounter
This encounter is most suitable as a one-off, just an interesting fight that doesn’t interact with the other plot threads of your campaign. It’s great if you want to use the silver golem, but don’t have room in your game to fit one of the more elaborate encounters above. You may choose to use it as a random travel encounter. This encounter is more effective if the party has heard rumors of werewolf attacks in town already.
Decide on a common trade good that might be shipped to your wilderness town. You can select one based on a trade faction linked to your town (see the “Resolving This Encounter” section below for ideas). In this encounter, a group of merchants transporting that trade good will stop for the night just a few hours outside of town. Have your characters that are traveling the countryside stop with them, or nearby, so they are present when a werewolf (the prominent local merchant from our introduction) attacks them and attempts to destroy their goods before turning on the merchants.
The werewolf merchant is trying to manipulate the market for that good in town by destroying the competition. Whether your players are looking to take advantage of a situation for personal gain or to aid those in need, the attack on the merchant wagons will present them with an opportunity.
In the countryside near your wilderness town, it’s not safe to go off the roads at night. Travelers often stick together, “sharing the road”, and resting in numbers at night is safest. Your party comes across a pair of merchants (use the noble stat block) and their wagon-loaded trade goods and a few guards, sitting by their campfire and eating a simple meal. Seeing the party is well-armed, they offer the warmth of their fire and some food, and suggest the two groups keep an eye out for each other for the night.
Just past midnight, when the full moon is highest in the sky, the werewolf attacks. Unbeknownst to everyone, the werewolf’s true identity is a merchant from your wilderness town, and they seek to destroy these trade goods as part of their plan to corner the market. Their first priority is to kill the posted guards, then to destroy what’s in the wagon. After that, they’ll eliminate whoever is left, going as far as tracking any who flee.
On the second round of combat, the characters feel the thudding footsteps of something large approaching in the dark. On the third round of combat, the silver golem appears and engages the werewolf. After the werewolf is slain, the Grieving Artificer gives a verbal command from a hiding place nearby: “slay the infected!”. The silver golem then turns on anyone who was bitten by the werewolf’s bite attack, if that bite is reasonably visible. It doesn’t matter if the combatant is actually infected or not—the GA isn’t taking any chances.
Resolving this Encounter
The characters should be rewarded by any surviving merchants, probably from their purses and not in raw goods: 30 gold pieces per party member, a ring of mind shielding, and a favorable letter of introduction to any (reasonable) local faction. If the merchant’s don’t make it, any surviving valuables are the party’s for the taking—the GA doesn’t care. If for some reason only the party and the werewolf survive, they’ll have to split the loot between them.
The wagons are carrying goods for trade. They can vary based on what you may be able to link to factions of your campaign:
- Around 300 gold pieces in precious cut gemstones.
- Numerous useful ores, such as coal, iron, and limestone.
- Magical components—eyes of newt, chunks of amber, branches of holly, and similar items. These act collectively as around 12 component pouches.
- Useful materials for magic items: pre-inscribed runes without an arcane charge, oak staffs, blank scrolls, and similar items.
- A massive amount of the finest lumber.
- 30 axes (functionally battleaxes).
- The head of a wanted criminal worth 200 gold to the right people, kept sealed in an iron strongbox.
- Various weapons of war, mostly hammers and crossbows.