Area one : The Caravanserai
The Party will begin the adventure at level three. This will represent a combination of several factors. Mainly, it is to represent the seasoned/Highly trained nature of the PC's crafts. For any number of reasons, all of these adventurer types are going to be travelling with a large and well armed merchant caravan. It is Midsummer, and with the Barony's Mid season Harvest festival coming up, the merchants have timed their trip to coincide with the fattest purses of the year.
The caravan consists of no less than 14 wagons. 12 of them represent merchants of various types. Fabrics, Pots and pans, Exotic foodstuffs, Spices, all sundry items. The last two wagons are unwelcome tagalongs - Gypsies. While disliked and seen as thieves, they ask for nothing, and provide excellent and welcome entertainment during the nightly breaks. As such, they are tolerated, as long as they stay away from the other wagons.
- Undecided, split party into front, middle, and vanguards? Will affect tactical aspect heavily.
- Make "Mamma Scyllia" a low level adept. Fits fortune teller schtick if needed.
- Adorable and persecuted ragamuffin children? or Thieving rats?
- Total warm bodies in caravan: 50
- All mid-sized wooden wagons pulled by oxen or draft horses.
- Players may purchase any sundry item from PHB here for base cost.
The DM may allow a pre-game interlude to allow roleplaying at this point. The actual adventure begins in the next section.
Chapter I - A Quiet evening by the fire - The wagon train will reach the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caravanserai near dusk. Any players riding with the lead wagon, will overhear the boss and his lead talking about the road. They are rather spooked, as there should be traffic on the Baron's road this time of year. So far, there have been no other travellers in two days. This is a bad omen.
DM NOTE: Some fake spot/perception checks would liven up the atmosphere. Anyone who rolls a DC 15+ roll can make out the caravanserai off in the distance.
Once there, the wagons all begin breaking down. As Caravan guards, it is the PC's responsibility to assist with this. The animals must be brushed and fed, a fire started, water found. All in all, there is a lot of work to perform. Due to space, the gypsies will have to stay outside the walls, which they do without complaint.
DM NOTE: Players must assign watches. Roll a d2+1. The attack will happen on that watch (of the 4 possible 2 hour watches.
Unbenownst to the caravan, they have been stalked for the last whole day. A small group of goblins have been following them. A CR appropriate encounter here will depend on the number of players. A party of 4 3rd level players will rate a dozen for a fairly easy fight. My thoughts are two waves of 10.
These wretches are in pretty poor shape. They are All that is left of the group the green foot tribe expelled two weeks ago. Since that time, their numbers have steadily dwindled away.
- They have odd green stained feet
- They are emaciated
- Their gear sucks (even by goblin standards)
- Only one of note, their leader - A fi2 armed with a short sword, wearing hide armor.
DM NOTE: This battle meant to be chaotic. Starving, crazed goblins running everywhere - chasing wagoneers, harassing the settlers (women and children). In short - glorious chaos!
The goblins will attack from all sides in groups of 3. The gypsies will be targeted first, and may well be the only way the rest know they are under attack!
In the aftermath of the fight, the PC's may have a chance to earn some XP by assisting the wounded, or performing other alignment appropriate actions to help mitigate the disaster. In playtesting, I was always able to burn at least three wagons. With a fudge or two I could easily have gotten half of them. Ditto the drivers.
The next day finds the camp still in shambles. The casualties of the night are telling. As such, you are informed that the caravan will break up at Redstone - AKA the group is being given a layoff notice.
Chapter III - Ode to the Piggery - three hours later, the party will begin to smell the fine town of Haranshire. As the beautiful rolling hills of the valley floor gives way, the stench of smoke, Pig offal, and open tanning begins to assault the senses. Calling this town "rustic" would be am understatement. The Baron's road sinks into the muck several hundred feet from the edge of the town. The wagons soon find themselves struggling to make way through the deep, slop-filled ruts. The whole town of 400 souls consists of low, ramshackle thatched huts. The two exceptions are:
- Tiesler's tower: Tiesler, a "hedge" wizard, resides in this unimpressive manse. It consists of a round, single tower that rises to a height of 40 feet. It is 30 feet across, and has only a single steel shod wooden door at the base.
- The Greased Pig: The local watering hole. two story wooden building. Only 4 rooms. Run by "Piggy Jim" a half-orc veteran (Fi3), who also serves as a militia sergeant for Lord Davros.
Upon arrival, the surviving caravans will be mobbed by curious onlookers. They seem...anxious, and several will be noticeably (and vocally) relieved that the roads are still open. This turns quickly to dismay when signs or tales of the attack become known. Jonas Brown (human Exp2) is mayor here. He will be at the head of the "official" procession of landowners that will push it's way through the crowd to greet the boss.
In true traditional style, the wealthy (relatively) will then pick over the goods, and make the first purchases.
- During this time, the mayor will learn of the attack in detail, and is visibly shaken. "Green feet you say? There's a few of them up 'round the new mire with green feet. Quiet lot though, we leave a cow or sheep out there every full moon, and they leave us alone...wish this ghastly swamp was as easy to placate." He will point to his slop covered boots. Further questioning will reveal that the swamp is a new occurrence. Two years ago, it sprang up out behind The Marberry farm. By the end of the season, it was a bog. The house sunk the following spring, and the whole family had to move to Redstone. He can promise a reward only if the problem is solved, as the town is in dire straights currently
- Tiesler always has use of gophers to obtain his spell and research components. He can be used to steer the party to whatever encounter area the DM wishes. He is also the local "magic shop". He scribes scrolls, brews Potions, and CAN craft minor wondrous items. (5th level caster). He also can identify magical items - for a fee. He will always have several scrolls and potions, as well as a magical trinket or two on hand. ANYTHING else must be crafted for a 60% markup. When appropriate, he will offer another job; his apprentice - Julianna has gone missing. He is genuinely concerned as he is her godfather as well. He offers 100 gold pieces and a small collection of potions to the party if they can discern what has happened to her.
- The tavern...oh the tavern. Here, the rumors of the current events have taken on a life of their own. The most prominent and disturbing however relate to the kidnappings as of late.
Seems the local church of St. Cuthbert sent it's acolytes (3) out to make their monthly rounds looking after the small folk, and vanished.
Tiesler's Apprentice disappeared last week - Julianna was well liked, and some suspect foul play. People are scared, and now travel in groups.
Several teamsters have gone missing wagons and all in the last couple of months.
The mine in Redstone has been closed, nobody knows why.
"Ain't seen a buck in weeks, much less a tom or sow". Laments a group of hunters.
- The mayor will pay 1 gold piece to the player who will deliver a written message to the mayor of Redstone and the Lord Marshall at Davram's crossing.
- SOMETHING has been hauling off Old man McGuiness's hogs at night. One a week now for the last three weeks. He's got "something you folk fancy" to offer in exchange for help (a +1 dagger?)