Vicious Venues12/13/2006

The Spinning Mirror

The Spinning Mirror contains an encounter of 5th level
and is suitable for use with any D&D campaign.

A well-built stone cottage stands in a neighborhood of much more humble dwellings. Is this the abode of some wealthy peasant, or does the owner harbor some secret? What does the small mirror hanging from a bracket on the bright yellow front door signify?

Background for the DM

The wizard Perro lives and does business under the sign of the Spinning Mirror. Best described as a hedge wizard, Perro uses his knowledge and intuition to find lost objects, solve petty crimes, and settle disputes. For really tough cases, he uses divination spells. Perro also mends broken implements (using mending spells), reads and writes documents for the illiterate, and sells a few potions, herbal remedies, and healer's kits. Perro chose a mirror as the sign for his business because it is (literally) flashy and because mirrors are widely known as magical scrying devices.

Though Perro isn't really much of a wizard, his rustic neighbors regard him as a man of deep knowledge, analytical thinking, and mysterious power. Perro is well aware that his larger-than-life status exists only in the local imagination, and he doesn't let it go to his head. Perro does his best to discourage his celebrity status, but his reputation isn't entirely undeserved. He spent several years adventuring. During that time, he and his allies excelled at rooting out hidden foes and unraveling tangled skeins of clues to defeat villainous schemes. Unfortunately, Perro's enthusiasm for investigating deep mysteries and foiling dastardly plots brought him considerable excitement and danger, but little profit. After losing several allies to ambushes and assassinations, Perro decided to retire and settle down to a quiet life in the country.

Perro hasn't been completely idle in retirement. In addition to his business, Perro has thoroughly explored the countryside around his settlement and has become familiar with most of its secrets. This knowledge could prove useful to player characters who are sensible enough to ask.

Trivia Time

Q: What's this? An early holiday present of sorts, for folks to try their hand at a bit of trivia, and enter for their chance to win a copy of the D&D Cartoon on DVD!

Here's how it works: each day, we'll ask a new trivia question somewhere on the website (in one of each day's articles or features). Questions will appear by noon PST each day. Answer the question correctly, and you'll be entered in a chance to win a copy of the D&D Cartoon: the Complete Series, on DVD.

5 questions, 5 DVDs to give away. Here's your third chance:

Today’s trivia question is a tale of two bows. In the D&D cartoon, Hank the ranger wields a magic bow that fires a limitless supply of glowing arrows. A similarly styled weapon is wielded by Forgotten Realms novel character Cattie-Brie.

What is the name of Cattie-Brie’s magic bow?

A: Know the answer? Send it in to, with Cartoon Answer #3 in the subject line. One winner for the third DVD we're giving away will be chosen from among all correct answers submitted for this question. Tomorrow there will be a new question, and a new chance to win!

Complete rules can be read here. Good luck!

The Setup

The version of the Spinning Mirror presented here stands in a thorp, hamlet, or village. It's possible however, to find the place in an isolated town or on the outskirts of a frontier city. When Perro retired, he deliberately chose a nondescript location located well off the beaten track. Player characters aren't likely to find the Spinning Mirror unless someone directs them there or they decide to thoroughly explore the neighborhood where the place is located. Perro's local reputation and active past can generate plenty of reasons for a party to seek out the Spinning Mirror:

  • The player characters learn about a dungeon or ruin located in Perro's neighborhood. They might or might not also learn that Perro is a prime source of information about the place.

    Perhaps the PCs might simply gain a map showing the place, or perhaps they hear tales of strange doings there. In any case, they might meet Perro when they try to purchase supplies, or perhaps they encounter Perro during one of his expeditions into the countryside.

  • Someone hires the player characters to deliver a package or letter to Perro. The characters don't receive Perro's exact location and must do some detective work to track him down.

    The PCs' employer might be one of Perro's old adventuring companions trying to reestablish contact, or perhaps this friend wishes Perro to come out of retirement at least briefly.

    On the other hand, perhaps an old foe is trying to locate Perro for a little revenge. In this case, it's a good bet that someone will follow the PCs to get a direct look at Perro's living arrangements.

    It's also possible that both Perro's friends and foes are involved. Someone might be trying to warn Perro of an old foe on the prowl, or perhaps Perro's old group is indeed planning a new venture and old rivals are dogging their steps.

  • The PCs hear a tale of an infamous wizard who amassed a great treasure before vanishing in some magical cataclysm. Clues point to Perro as the infamous wizard's apprentice, heir, or simply the leading authority on the subject.

    The tale of the infamous wizard could be a complete myth or have some basis in fact. In any case, Perro has no connection with the wizard; however, if the wizard had a lair anywhere near Perro's abode, it's a good bet Perro knows about the place.

  • A group of smugglers, bandits, or other criminals moves into Perro's area and sets up operations. Someone hires the PCs to track down the miscreants.

    Perro knows very little about the criminals, but his knowledge of the area could prove invaluable to someone seeking out the criminals. The criminals might know this and kidnap Perro before anyone can tap into his knowledge.

Visiting the Spinning Mirror

The Spinning Mirror takes its name from the sign Perro hangs outside his cottage.

Perro doesn't keep formal hours. He generally times his activities to match his neighbors' daily routines. Since his neighbors are his customers, the arrangement works well. Most days, Perro is awake shortly after dawn (when his agrarian neighbors and clients also are rising). After a quick breakfast, Perro hangs out his sign and prepares to take visitors throughout the day. He takes in his sign at dusk. If Perro decides to take a trip into the countryside, he usually leaves midmorning and returns about two hours before dusk so he can do business for a few hours.

Perro hangs out his sign only when he's ready to see clients, and his neighbors know that. That doesn't keep the locals from occasionally intruding on Perro before he opens or after he closes. Perro usually questions his client for a few minutes and then sends the visitor away until a better hour.

The following text describes the Spinning Mirror on a day in the late spring, summer, or early fall when Perro is open for business.

Several tall, old broadleaf trees surround a tidy cottage. The structure has walls of buttery stone and a roof of dull slates. Some object attached to or standing very near the cottage flashes like a great diamond in the sunlight in spite of the shade from the trees. A well-trodden path covered with crushed stone winds through the trees and into the space beyond.

It takes just a few steps to get beyond the trees and get a clear look at the cottage.

The surrounding trees shade most of the cottage and surrounding yard. There's a fairly big sunny patch, however, outside the front door. A kitchen garden with neat rows of herbs and vegetables thrives in the light. A big birdbath stands amid the garden foliage, and dozens of birds splash around in its clear water.

The door is wooden and painted bright yellow, which makes the garden seem even brighter. A big bay window flanked by yellow shutters overlooks the garden, and a pale orange cat sits in the window, casually watching the birds.

A small mirror hangs from a wrought-iron hook on the door. The mirror has been fitted with a set of copper vanes that makes it twist and spin with every change in the breeze. The mirror flashes in the sunlight, sending beams of light playing over the yard and garden.

Inside, Perro's cottage has four rooms on the ground floor: a kitchen, a workroom, a bedchamber, and a storage room. The workroom is the chamber with the bay window; the workroom doubles as a sitting room and dining room. A trapdoor in the kitchen leads down into a root cellar, and a ladder in the sitting room leads up to a loft.

When working, Perro remains in the workroom. He keeps busy preparing herbs, keeping notes of his activities, and watching for visitors through the window.


Perro shares his cottage with Aldon, his cat familiar, and Saagat, a half-orc and former adventuring companion who acts as a servant and bodyguard.

Perro CR 4
Male human diviner 4
NGMedium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Listen +3, Spot +3
Languages Common, Elven, Goblin, empathic link

AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 armor)
hp 15 (4 HD)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +6

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee quarterstaff +2 (1d6) or
Ranged mwk light crossbow +5 (1d8/19-20)
Base Atk +2; Grp +2
Combat Gear scroll of color spray, scroll of fox's cunning, scroll of displacement
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 4th, opposition school necromancy):
2nd -- charm person (Heightened) (DC 15), locate object (2), Tasha's hideous laughter (DC 15)
1st -- magic missile (2), hypnotism (DC 14), shield, true strike
0 -- acid splash (+4 ranged touch), daze (DC 13), detect magic, message, prestidigitation

Abilities Str 10, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 12

SQ familiar (Aldon the cat), share spells

Feats Alertness[B] (if familiar within 5 ft.), Brew Potion, Heighten Spell, Investigator, Scribe Scroll[B]

Skills Concentration +8, Decipher Script +10, Gather Information +5, Heal +5, Knowledge (arcana) +4, Knowledge (local) +10, Listen +1 (+3 when Aldon is within arm's reach), Move Silently +5, Profession (herbalist) +8, Search +6, Spellcraft +10, Spot +1 (+3 when Aldon is within arm's reach)

Possessions combat gear plus bracers of armor +1, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, 10 bolts, cloak of resistance +1, scroll of clairaudience/clairvoyance, elixir of vision, reading glasses, 7 gp

Spellbook spells prepared plus 0 -- arcane mark, dancing lights, detect poison, flare, ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending; 1st -- comprehend languages, detect secret doors, endure elements, mage armor, magic weapon; 2nd -- detect thoughts, see invisibility

Aldon CR --
NG Tiny magical beast (augmented animal)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Listen +3, Spot +3
Languages empathic link

AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 14
(+2 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 7 (4 HD)
Resist improved evasion
Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee 2 claws +6 (1d2-4) and
bite +1 (1d3-4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk +2; Grp -10
Atk Options deliver touch spells

Abilities Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 7
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Balance +10, Climb +6, Concentration +7, Decipher Script +5, Heal +5, Hide +14, Jump +10, Knowledge (arcana) -1, Knowledge (local) +5, Listen +3, Move Silently +6, Profession (herbalist) +8, Search -1, Spellcraft +5, Spot +3

Perro is fast approaching middle age, and he's starting to feel some unfamiliar aches and pains (which is one reason he decided to retire). He has a head full of strawberry blond curls with a few gray hairs here and there and a face full of dark freckles (souvenirs from his exploratory trips around the countryside). He's of medium height and is getting somewhat thick in the middle, because his admiring neighbors have been more than generous with gifts of food since he moved in. When reading, writing, or doing any close work, Perro wears spectacles.

Perro has a natural curiosity and a genial nature, which helps to explain his excellent local reputation. Perro usually is happy to chat a while with any visitors who drop by. His business is information, however, and he expects at least a modest fee if he can give any useful advice. If he gets involved in a major venture, Perro expects a cut of the proceeds. He also can scribe scrolls of any spells he knows and can make oil of magic weapon and potions ofendure elements and mage armor. He doesn't keep these items in stock, but he'll make them to order if someone asks for them.

Perro sleeps in the bedchamber on the ground floor.

Aldon is a striking tomcat with a pale orange coat and big coppery eyes. He keeps his distance from people he doesn't know well but appreciates praise for his excellent feline qualities. Aldon spends his days with Perro, wherever he happens to be. When Perro busies himself in the workroom, Aldon likes to sit in the window and watch the garden. Aldon always accompanies Perro on his walks in the country, usually walking casually a few paces behind the wizard, as though he and Perro just happen to be going the same way.

When the PCs approach Perro's cottage, he emerges from his workroom to greet them. Read or paraphrase the following.

"Well met, travelers!" says a pleasant voice. "What can I help you find today?" The middle-aged gentleman's merry eyes twinkle above his green pince-nez. "Come, come -- everyone is searching for something! A lost amulet? A lost love? A lost fortune? Whatever it is, I can help you find it. Or maybe it's something you don't yet have at all -- like the key to a door not yet opened? The map to a treasure hoard? The secret to a neighbor's wealth? I don't guarantee that you'll get what you desire, but I can point you in the right direction, at least. Or perhaps you just need some potions or scrolls to keep the edge in your battles? Speak up, now. What can Perro do for you today?"

Saagat CR 2
Male half-orc barbarian 2
CG Medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Common, Orc

AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 17; uncanny dodge
(+2 Dex, +5 armor)
hp 20 (2 HD)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1

Speed 30 ft. in breastplate(6 squares), base speed 40 ft.
Melee mwk greatsword +6 (2d6+4/19-20) or
Ranged mwk composite shortbow +5 (1d6+2/x3)
Base Atk +2; Grp +5
Atk Options Power Attack, rage 1/day (6 rounds)
Combat Gearpotion of blur, 2 potions of cure light wounds, potion of cure moderate wounds, flask of alchemist's fire

Abilities Str 17, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 6
Feats Power Attack
Skills Climb +4, Jump +4, Survival +5, Swim +0
Possessions combat gear plus masterwork breastplate, masterwork greatsword, masterwork short composite bow (+2), 20 arrows, antitoxin, 4 gp
When raging, Saagat has the following changed statistics:
AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15
hp 24 (2 HD)
Fort +6, Will +3
Melee mwk greatsword +8 (2d6+6/19-20)
Grp +7
Abilities Str 21, Con 17
Skills Climb +6, Jump +6, Swim +2

Saagat looks decidedly orcish. He has bright red hair, grayish skin, and vestigial tusks. He also has massive arms and a savage expression. He's devoted to Perro and jumps to the wizard's defense at the slightest provocation. Saagat sleeps in the loft above the workroom.

When Perro is at home, Saagat keeps busy weeding the garden, chopping wood, or doing other household chores. When Perro goes out, Saagat tries to walk a few paces ahead, always alert for danger.

Tactics: Perro prefers negotiation, but he can hold his own in a fight. If he has time to prepare for a battle, he uses his scrolls of displacement and fox's cunning; he also casts shield, which he shares with Aldon. He must make a DC 6 caster level check to trigger the displacement spell. The fox's cunning spell increases the save DC for all Perro's spells by +2. The shield spell gives Perro an Armor Class of 17 (touch 13, flat-footed 15) and Aldon an Armor Class of 20 (touch 14, flat-footed 18).

Once a battle begins, Perro tries to knock out physically dangerous foes with charm person or Tasha's hideous laughter. He uses magic missile and his crossbow on other spellcasters.

Saagat does his best to keep himself between Perro and the foe. If he or Perro suffer any damage, Saagat flies into a rage and attacks whatever foe is within reach.

Aldon sticks close to Perro and attacks anyone who gets within melee range of him.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, PolyhedronNewszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.

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