[Written in 2000 (I think) when I ran Hommlet at GenCon.]
Firstly, know that there was no lack of adventure on the Wild Coast. Though the Common Year calendar marked this as but the 580th month of Planting, and the Wild Coast was not yet as wild as it would become, there was still plenty for aspiring adventurers to do. The great difficulty was in finding work for mercenary adventurers, as so many novices begin as. Herein the lawlessness of the region worked against them, and the lands to the north began to seem more palatable.
It was, in fact, a rumor that the Viscount of Verbobonc was paying a bounty on bandits that caused a small company of novice adventurers to form in the town of Safeton and make plans to reach the Viscounty on the far side of the Gnarly Wood. Little funding for the expedition could be arranged, so much of the provisions and hired porters came from the company’s own pockets. Investigation revealed that, while travel through the Gnarly Wood was routinely dangerous, there was still a trail leading through that was well-traveled by woodsmen, rangers, and less human travelers. A map showed that this trail would hit a major crossroad at a village called Hommlet.
The rumors of danger could not have been more true. Goblins harassed the company and picked off all the porters in the first two days through the Wood. A skirmish with orcs exhausted more than a quiver of arrows and some spare weapons. Night watches had to be especially alert.
By the company’s reckoning, there was no more than two miles left of the Wood to cover, and the forest was visibly thinner already. But night had fallen and it was too dark to cover those two miles safely, so camp was set up one last time. It was during the second watch that the company received a visitor…