Friday, September 7, 2007

An (Alternate) Opening to a Blackmoor Campaign

It is unusual for any of you to be riding in a wagon train, but the circumstances of this trip are most singular. Each of you was recently in trouble with the law in either the Town of Blackmoor or the Town of Vestfold. For your particular crime, you faced anything from a few days of imprisonment to death by execution. But, before you could see a magistrate, you were each interviewed by the man you now share a wagon with.
“The Fetch,” as he called himself, was a sharp-featured man with a long, pointed nose, a dark, straight brow, and black hair. He offered each of you a choice – face your judgments, or come do him a favor. Nothing further was explained – until now.
“I chose each of you because you have unusual abilities, a low profile, and a willingness to take risks. There is something…amiss in the Village of Gomchut. I am sure that, if I sent my people, they would not find anything. I need a wild card to play, something that will stir things up in Gomchut without chasing anything away. Your job is to stay in Gomchut and find out what is amiss there. Until such time as you do, you are exiled from the Towns of Vestfold and Blackmoor and not to return to either on penalty of death. You can report to Bram von Cartlandt, the head enchanter at Gomchut Keep, with any progress you make. But do not expect help from him. In a moment, you will be on your own.”
With that, The Fetch taps the shoulder of the wagon driver and the driver calls for a halt. He reins in his draft horses as the drivers of the wagons in front of and behind yours do likewise. You rode alone with the Fetch and his driver, but the other two wagons held heavily-armed guards just in case your compliance had to be forced. Now the Fetch is asking you to climb off the wagon. “You’ll walk from here, to draw less attention to yourselves than…well, I am sure you will draw enough attention on your own,” he ends with a smile.

Fletcher “The Fetch” Willems, master thief: AC T 10.
8 heavy cavalrymen.
1 driver/theurgist.
1 driver/curate.

Q & A with the Fletch:
Q: “Who do you work for?”
A: “That is no secret. I am in the employ of Arch-Duke Bestmo. I …fetch people for him.”
Q: “Does this mean we work for the Arch-Duke now?”
A: “No it does not. You work for me, and even then unofficially.”

Stretching from the Town of Vestfold to the Town of Lake Gloomy south and west of it, the Hemplas Road is dry sanctuary from the marshlands that surround it along much of its length. The road itself is atop a raised earthen mound about 40 ft. wide and 5 to 10 ft. higher than the marshes below. There are milestones, but many are missing and you usually pass a milestone only once ever 3-4 miles. Tall, skinny trees grow in rows on either side of the mound. Scattered trees and shrubs dot the marshes. The marshlands had been gently rolling down to the south and east where they feed into Noord Wiet Lake, but up ahead the land flattens and rises to a level, grassy plain. This grassy plain is more like a pass, though, as you are passing through the 4-mile stretch between Noorden Lake to the north and Zuidelik Lake to the south. Noorden Lake is the closer, coming as close as a mile away from the road. Zuidelik Lake is slightly lower in elevation that Noorden, and the Zuidelik is fed by several streams flowing south from the Noorden. Where the streams cross the road, the road continues over them via wooden bridges. By each bridge is a wooden watchtower which typically houses 1-4 lightly armed and armored sentries. Such light security seems remarkable, considering that horrible island, the Egg of Coot, is less than 70 miles north of here.

ENCOUNTERS ON THE ROAD #1: Four miles from Gomchut, the PCs intercept, by chance, 5 kobolds crossing over the road from north to south. The kobolds have abandoned the Caves of Chaos and are looking for work elsewhere, but it will be very difficult for the PCs to learn this, as the kobolds most likely know none of the party’s dialects.
5 kobolds: AC 12 (hvy hide); MV 20’; HD 1+2; hp 9, 8, 7, 6 (x2); #At 1 pick; Dmg 1d10; SA magic stone 1/hour; STR 13, INT 8, DEX 10, CON 14; AL NE; XP 30 each; 3 1/2’ tall spirit-folk with red eyes, flat, broad black noses, slimy skin, scaly tails, and double-jointed arms. Treasure: 10 cp, 18 sp between them.
ENCOUNTERS ON THE ROAD #2: Two miles from Gomchut, the PCs see a man riding a pony toward them. He introduces himself as Arjan the Sentry, Patroller of the Hemplas Road. He acts not at all surprised to learn of monsters crossing the road this close to Gomchut, but volunteers to accompany the PCs back to Gomchut to help keep them safe. Along the way, he quizzes the PCs about their capabilities. Arjan is actually the leader of a small group of roadside thieves lurking just a mile outside Gomchut.
Arjan the Sentry, bully: AC 16 (b&g, helm, padded, shield, DEX); MV 30’; T 2; hp 8; #At 1 spear or 1 hand axe; Dmg 1d6; SA thief skills – after removing armor; STR 13, INT 11, WIS 10, DEX 14, CON 12, CHA 13; AL CN; XP 30; 5’9” tall human with sandy blonde hair, crooked nose, and clean-shaven. Treasure: 1 gp, 5 ep, 9 sp, 8 cp.
ENCOUNTERS ON THE ROAD #3: Arjan’s bandits are hiding in the ditch to either side of the road just a mile outside Gomchut. They wait for a signal from Arjan to attack. They have a 4 in 6 chance to surprise.
Arjan’s 5 bandits: AC 15 (hide, shield); MV 30’; F 1; hp 8, 7 (x2), 6 (x2); #At 1 club or 1 hand axe; Dmg 1-6; STR 13, INT 8, DEX 12, CON 11; AL CN; XP 20 each. Treasure: 7 sp, 15 cp between them.

No comments: