(SPOILER ALERT! Anyone playing in my campaign shouldn't read further- this post is intended for my curious readers, not my curious players...)
Pleasure Garden of Eurymele.
Adventurers scrambling up the vine-tangled slope from the northeast will, at any time other than the deep morning hours after midnight*, hear wild flute music piping from the overgrown thicket above. Ancient oak, yew and juniper trees compete for space around the central pool. The beds of peonies and violets are now overgrown with blackberry thickets and stands of thistle in any areas of dappled light.
Six satyrs, Xandides, Elpenor, Tireus, Astyclus, Pistyclus and Giomedes (Hp: 24, 29, 28,20, 26, 22) loiter in the garden, mourning the departure of the nymph Eurymele from her pool in the eery central glade. They will quite likely present significant difficulties to inexperienced groups attempting to gain access to the the castle via this route.
Eurymele was an idle curiosity for the Mad Archmage, kept as an amusement for his "pleasure garden". It suited his sense of whimsy that visitors enroute to his castle might hear from a distance a fragment of her wistful song, or perhaps catch a glimpse of her silhouette through the trees, but might never approach the pool. A confounding spell prevented any intrusion upon the privacy of the lovely Eurymele. The Archmage himself, a lustless fellow, had no particular desire to disport with the nymph- he simply enjoyed the befuddlement of arriving guests.
Over the years, the magic worked upon the Pleasure Garden faded away, but despite the disappearance of the Archmage, Eurymele remained. In the years after the failure of the spell, quite a number of hapless interlopers fell foul of a glimpse of Eurymele in her winsome, idle moments by the pool. Whole bands of adventurers, once blinded by her supernatural beauty, broke their necks on the scramble back down from the hill, or suffered a horrible fate at the hands of normally trivial denizens. Some were struck dead by a glimpse of the nymph at her bath- their bones litter the weeds beneath the aged tree limbs. One survivor is Zadle the hermit, who squats disconsolately in his cave to the east, living on roots and insects, no longer able to read from the pages of his spellbook.
In recent years, a band of satyrs out upon a debauch in these parts, stumbled upon the garden. First Tireus, then Astyclus, and finally Giomedes, were blinded through repeated stolen glimpses of Eurymele. The nymph, feeling intense distaste but also a kind of pity for the helpless lust of the satyrs, abandoned her glade lest the sylvan creatures be destroyed by their own lasciviousness.
Xandides, Elpenor and Pistyclus, goaded by the boasts of their companions, feel cheated. And so the satyrs lurk in the garden, awaiting the return of Eurymele. In the meantime, they employ the services of various charmed local humanoids, including kobolds and orcs, as well as Dilfun, a dwarf, and several other individuals. These minions range the nearby hills in quest of any sign of Eurymele.
The satyrs pass the idle hours in song: Tireus, in his blindness, has only increased his sublime ability at the pipes (-2 on saves vs magic). Still, they are bored, frustrated, and looking for fun. Woe-betide bands of incautious adventurers who approach the Pleasure Gardens heedless to signs of danger.
Adventurers proffering good wine, or succeeding in amusing the creatures, will fare somewhat better.
In the area around the pool, the satyrs have made their camp. Here they have cleared an area of canopy, and tenderly raised some grapevines. The vines have not yet borne fruit suitable for the making of wine. From the branches of nearby trees, goatskins hang, their contents the prized possessions of the group. These include:
A group of gems: four 10gp Malachites, four 50gp Citrines, one 500gp Amethyst, one 500gp Alexandrite, one 500gp Pearl, and one 1000gp Oriental Emerald. Also, a Potion of Sweetwater, and an empty Iron Flask.
Footnote: PCs are likely to encounter odd mixed groups of kobolds and orcs in the wilds hereabouts, who will approach the party, earnestly seeking information about Eurymele. Such encounters should serve to warn the players that all is not well.
* unless, of course, it is a full moon...
It should be noted that this is an encounter written up in a style that reflects my emerging thoughts about my own game- if I were ever to present something for publishing I might well be less verbose and historically detailed, in recognition of the desires of other DMs to think their own details into being...
Also, I might not progress too far by Monday if I proceed suchwise. It's likely, though, that if we do play it will be a rather brief adventuring session this week, considering that the first part of the meeting will be introductions, discussion about whose game we want to play, then character generation.
The other thing is, if need be, it shouldn't be too difficult to make other hooks look more lucrative for now anyway. This could be a VERY dangerous encounter for a fresh-faced level 1 party to stumble upon whilst en-route to Castle Greyhawk. It all remains to be seen...