12 February 2022

To the Mountains of Mirkwood and the Tower of Black Glass

Adventures 7 and 8 of the Spider Cult of Mirkwood campaign  

The Characters (more information here):

  • Hengil Foros (Dúnedan Warden of Rivendell) 
  • Ulvmund Galmund (Barding Warrior of Dale) 
  • Hartmut Hare-Eye (Beorning Wanderer of the Anduin Vale)

Information on the campaign:

[A portion of Peter Fenlon's amazing map in ICE's Mirkwood]

Adventure 7: To the Mountains of Mirkwood

7.1 From Rhosgobel to the Old Forest Road (mid-April 2947)


The companions, accompanied by Quesse (a raven of Radagast), depart Rhosgobel and travel to Woodmen Town. There they stay (once again) at ‘The Gentle Leaf’ inn. At the inn they meet the dwarves Bofri and Nili (‘the silent’). Hengil convinces Bofri and Nili to join the company’s mission to the tower, explaining that removing the menace posed by the cult is necessary for the dwarves of Erebor to open up the Old Forest Road again for trade.


The companions deliver Radagast’s book to the herbalist Witihis. Upon learning that the party plans to travel to the Mountains of Mirkwood, the herbalist warns them that there are dangerous vines high in the peaks (the ‘Yavin Girith [S. “Shuddering Fruits”]). The vines’ fruit is deadly and should be avoided. The vines also disperse soporific spores, a blue mist that can induce a dreamless sleep. He gives the companions five dried leaves that can revive sleeping people (when crushed and breathed in by those who slumber).


The party then visits the hallowed Hall of Balthi and gains an audience with Althyn Waulfa (the leader of Woodmen Town). Waulfa commands two Woodmen hunters—Evoric and Grimfast—to accompany the party on their mission.

[Central Woodmen Town from ICE's Mirkwood]

From Woodmen Town the company journeys to the entrance to the Old Forest Road. At the entrance is a small Beorning fort, built upon an ancient Dwarven way station. It is commanded by an old acquaintance of Hartmut, Otbert.


7.2 The Old Forest Road (late April 2947)


The party travels along the Old Forest Road. Two days into the forest the company encounters Geirbald and his Brotherhood of Outlaws. Geirbald warns the company of the legendary Werewolf of Mirkwood. The adventurers rest with the Outlaws in their hidden camp.

Two days later the company comes across an ancient statue; it is identified by Bofri to be the likeness of Thráin I (first king of Erebor).


Later in their journey Quesse (the raven) warns the party of an imminent ambush by goblins. Surviving unscathed, they continue for many days deeper into the forest. Two weeks after entering Mirkwood the company camps at another old dwarven way station. Midway through the black night, the group is attacked by six Woodmen cultists, two attercops, and a terrible great spider. Evoric is tangled in webs. Nili and Hartmut are knocked out by the cultists’ sleeping poison. The great spider almost defeats Ulvmund but ultimately is driven away. The other spiders and the cultists are slain. Battered, sickened, and tired, the company deliberates about what to do next.


While the party rests, Hengil has a vision of a lost refuge. The refuge is hidden in the ruins of an ancient Elvish fortified town, abandoned millennia ago, that lies along the old Elf trail to the north.


7.3 Into the Mountains of Mirkwood (late April 2947)


After another day of marching along the Old Forest Road, the party finds the hidden mystical Elf path and begins journeying north into the Mountains of Mirkwood. (This path, which has survived the centuries thanks to Elvish enchantments, was indicated on the party’s map by Haldir back in Rhosgobel.) As the party ascends into the bleak mountains, the oak and beech trees are replaced with dark pine. A sense of despair overwhelms the companions.


At long last, the party reaches the safe hideout in the ancient refuge of the Wood Elves. There the party rests. Hengil has a dream of the black tower, Sarn Goriwing, and apprehends its overall layout. He also sees the pale and beautiful leader of the cult within the tower. To Hengil’s amazement, she looks to be of the Dúnedain! While still dreaming, the mistress of the tower turns her gaze towards Hengil and he awakens in a cold sweat.

[Sarn Goriwing from ICE's Mirkwood]


The party continues their journey upwards into the mountains the next day. While travelling alongside a steep ravine, the woodman Evoric falls over and down into some thick webbing. He is soon slain by a horde of attercops, who then start scurrying towards the companions. Grimfast throws his torch upon the webbing, which rapidly goes up in flames. Unfortunately, Grimast also is slain by an attercop. However, the surviving attercops flee and the diminished party continues its quest.


After another day of travel the party approaches the Black Lake. About 4 miles south of the lake the adventurers depart from the Elf path and head due north towards the lake, which is hidden high in a valley within the mountains. As they approach the black lake between two rough mountains (two miles apart) they come upon hundreds of Yavin Girith (S. ‘Shuddering Fruits’). A faint blue mist emanates from the beautiful vines. These spores cause Ulvmund and Grimfast to fall fast asleep. Fortunately, Hengil remembers the lore regarding the Yavin Girith (told to him by the herbalist Witihis) and crushes the leaves to awaken Ulvmund and Grimfast.


The adventurers travel away from the vines. Dusk falls and the party makes camp.


Adventure 8: The Tower of Black Glass  


8.1 Sarn Goriwing


The party scouts the Black Lake. It is roughly one mile in diameter. The shores of the lake are rocky, but there are many dark pine trees. The lake itself looks like a smooth mirror of jet glass. At the north edge of the lake the adventurers spy the black spire rising above the spray of the waterfall. The waters of the lake are fed by a variety of mountain streams; the lake water flows around the tower, and down a waterfall. The resulting river is the tainted infamous Gûlduin—the river that induces sleep in all who drink from its waters.


On the western side of the lake are some stone plinths. The party spies two rafts tied to the plinths. Hartmut is true to his moniker “Hare-eye” as he spots two patrols of spiders circling the lake, and some human guards near the rafts.  


The party ambushes one of the patrols. Two spiders are slain. The third makes a deal with the party. In return for an oath to let it flee safely, the spider tells the party the password for the tower: “Web of Blackness” (spoken in the tongue of the Woodmen, followed by some spider clicks). The spider then scuttles away.


The party ambushes the other patrol and the guards near the rafts – all are slain quickly and quietly by the crafty heroes. A raft then is used to reach the tower. Using the password, the adventurers fool the Woodmen cultist guards into thinking that they are friendly forces.


[Woodman cultist (image from C7's Rhovanion Region Guide)]


The tower then is explored. Many important tomes and items are procured. Another eldritch black stone is found. At its base is written: “Submit to the Glory of the Unlight!” (written in a corrupt form of Quenya). Sensing its malevolent nature, the adventurers carefully claim it.


To his enormous relief and delight, Hengil finally recovers the lost artefact of the House of Foros: the great mithril horn “Fuinavar” (‘gloom-refuser’)!


Heading up the black spire further, the adventurers finally reach the laboratory and library of the tower’s Númenórean sorceress, Ungurth Móré (‘Blackheart Deathspider’), and her mighty Woodman guardian Urlik. Urlik is accompanied by a terrible hunter spider. They are not pleased by the party’s appearance.


An alarm resounds throughout the tower. Woodmen cultists from below charge up the stairs to aid their dark lady in her hour of need. They are slain. Ungurth Móré, Urlik, and the spider flee to the top of the tower. They are pursued by the party. A great mêlée ensues. Hengil blasts Fuinavar to rally his companions. Urlik and the spider are killed while Ungurth Móré leaps over the edge of the tower. She lands on a giant bat that starts to fly away to the north.


Determined not to let the sorceress escape justice, Hartmut readies his longbow (the reward given to him by the merchant Thal Eolsen, many moons ago). He releases the string and his arrow pierces the back of Ungurth Móré, causing her to tumble from her vile mount to her death.


The party is victorious!


8.2 The journey to Lake Town (late April – early May 2947)


Triumphant but badly battered, the party leaves the tower and returns to the Old Forest Road. They travel east to Iach Celduin. Amidst the ruins of the town, they find a recently rebuilt inn and fort. The former is run by dwarves from Erebor; the latter is an outpost of Esgaroth. Bofri and Nili, drained by their recent travails, decide to stay with their kin at the inn for a while. They wish Hartmut, Ulvmund, and Hengil well, and assure them of a generous welcome should they ever visit Erebor in the future.


The party then travels from Iach Celduin along the old road to Lake Town.  


[Lake Town by J.R.R. Tolkien]


8.3 Plans for the future (May 2947)


While resting in Esgaroth, the companions make some plans for the future. They agree to take the black stone that they discovered in Sarn Goriwing to Radagast for safekeeping.


Helmut then plans to settle for a while near the Carrock. He hopes for some time of peace and reflection now that the cult has been destroyed. Ulvmund intends to return to Dale and request King Bard’s assistance in re-establishing the Galmund fiefdom. He smiles at his mind’s vision of a rebuilt tower of Bar-en-Dindol. And he hopes to find a suitable lady of Dale to ensure that his family line does not end with him. Hengil plans eventually to return to Rivendell with Fuinavar but is considering first visiting the beautiful elven sage Luinwen.


Now that the shadow of the spider cult has been extinguished, the future looks bright for the three accomplished companions!

[The characters ended the campaign at level 6. Perhaps future adventures await them?]

[Your humble GM managing the climatic battle atop Sarn Goriwing]


  1. Excellent! It's good to see more of this campaign.

    1. Thanks! This is actually the concluding adventure log.
      (Of course, we may start a new campaign with these characters again someday...)


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).