"Excuse me sir, could you help right my Wag-ECH!"
- Difficult terrain. Half movement as sucking mud is 4-12" deep all the time.
- Stinks terribly. A lot of Piggery runoff has "fertilized" the waters here. Algae is bright green, and everywhere.
- Knowledge: Geography/Nature - This area is a natural depression. Strangely, there should not be a spring here. Where is the water coming from?
- In middle of swamp, is a tree covered knoll, there is a small amount of smoke steadily rising from it.
- The Cow tether will be passed on the way in. Carved with graffiti (goblin curses)
My thought is to insert a single encounter highlighting why this unnatural swamp has got to go. A swamp based encounter with something nasty. Assassin vine perhaps? We'll come back to that. Eventually, the party will reach dry land in the middle of the swamp. The goblin tribe here has 4 goblins on sentry duty at any given time. If the party is spotted, they will have a tough time negotiating with intimidation.
At the top of the knoll, buried in the trees, is a small outcropping of rocks containing the entrance to a small cave complex. This is the home of the green foot goblins. They get the green feet from walking barefoot on the algae on a daily basis.
This tribe is relatively peaceful. Consider them CN or N when determining their reaction to the party. They are led by Grenk, a cunning old war chief in his late prime of life. (Goblin Fi4, MW Longsword, elite stats). He is upset that the "peace" has been broken by the invasion of their home. He is proud, but not dumb.
Any negotiation will also be overseen by the tribe shaman. Treek (Goblin cleric of maglubiyet 5, Chain shirt, Elite stats). The two have run the tribe for 11 years now. They escaped from enslavement to a pair of exiled drow by killing them both through subterfuge. Most of their equipment has been lost, save an ornate, golden stein. The stein is a decanter of endless water. It has been damaged from one too many drops from it's ceremonial perch. As such, it has opened a minute portal to the elemental plane of water. This "big hose left on" has been the force creating the new mire.
The shaman suspects this, but it is still a valued relic of their escape from slavery. As such, he'll only part with it for something REALLY good.
DM NOTE: Goblins have little appreciation for gold that cannot be spent, or stuff like that. They want something flashy or edible. A Wagon, full to the brim with cheese, wine, and cured pork totalling no less that 500 Gp will be necessary to appease them.
Should the party decide to slay them all, there are 80 goblins living here. 50 of these are female and child noncombatants. Of the remaining, only the chief, shaman, and 5 "hands" (Fi1) are any different than the MM entry. Most of the younger males started acting oddly before several were murdered. This behavior is unacceptable to the leaders. As such, the offenders, and their hangers on were exiled. They were encountered in chapter one.
A good deal of role-playing can be done here, the goblins don't want a fight, but will not be punked by a small group of pinkies. If the Decanter is recovered, the party should be awarded full value for defeating the entire tribe (a CR 6 encounter with traps and terrain) The party will also recieve an award from the mayor of Haranshire, as the mire will begin receding within a fortnight. As long as the party doesn't stop in one place for longer than a month, they will never encounter more than an out of place large puddle.
Chapter 4 - you ain't from around here are you? - Either after leaving the swamp for the first time, or passing the swamp to continue on to Davram's crossing, the party will meet some opposition. An ambush will be set up by the "bandits" in the keep. These should be nasty affairs. Assume the lookouts in Haranshire were able to give detailed descriptions of the players to their leaders. As such, we want to pull a decently tough CR 5-7 encounter. I am looking at using 4 Fi2 archers, and 4 Fi2 Brutes wilding saps and clubs. They will be led by a Ro3 named Orrek.
As the party passes around a gentle wooded curve, they see an upturned wagon on the side of the road. There is a figure laying on the ground near it, several arrows jutting out of his chest. Trying to right the wagon, are five men, farmers by the look. They are dressed in loose fitting homespun work clothes. Another wagon, with a single horse leading it, is resting just down the road.
As they approach, the men give a shout, and run back to the other wagon, arming themselves with pitchforks. Orrek, looking his best steps in front of the Party, and asks them for help. This scenario can go a hundred ways, so we'll keep it to basics. It has the potential to be a very tough fight, with caveats.
- The archers stay hidden till ordered to fire.
- The thugs all start melee with their saps. They are wearing leather under clothes.
- Saps are boiled pigs ears filled with gravel.
- use clubs and longknives (daggers) if sapping is not working.
To give the party a reason why they are being ambushed by farmers, Orrek will yell several times to capture them alive, and cursing any man who hits a spellcaster for lethal damage. He will concentrate exclusively on spellcasters the entire battle. The archers are armed with shortbows, and have 7 arrows each. If they run out, or are engaged in melee, they draw clubs and attack. Orrek will be carrying a plot hook encouraging the party to continue to Redstone, and track down agents there. Another curious clue: Orrek is clammy, ans smells strongly of fish. The rest of the bandits are out of work miners from Redstone.
Chapter V - "such joy ambition finds" (milton) - At last, Davram's crossing. Armed bastion of defense for this proud little frontier barony. The party, and/or the caravan will find a safe haven here. The fort is a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motte-and-bailey style. The outer walls are wooden palisades 20' in height. The walls are banded trunk bundles overlapping with an average depth of 24". The keep itself is a highly functional block and mortar building with a noticeable list to the east. It is a very old structure dating back to the founding of the valley. As such, it was well built, and has been maintained for generations.
The keep is home to the Lord Marshall, Ser Jorrah Davros - Human Arist2/Fi2. After a plot was uncovered in his home country's court. Several low ranking nobles were executed for treason. Ser Davros's father was one of these. Fortunately for him, Ser Davros had several patrons with influence that allowed him to go from landless noble, to Landed noble in exile. It is understood, that as long as the king never sees or hears from him again, all is well.
As such, Ser Davros, has tried to make the best of it. At 35, he is one of the youngest of the keep's occupants. Since his arrival 5 years ago, the militia has gone from a gang of fat old men, to a larger gang of fat old disciplined men. During peaceful times, there is always a garrison of 30 men here. Most of them are veterans and retirees form the kingdom's army. Others are 5th sons and soft headed types that are no use on the farm. A breakdown would look something like this: 15 war1, 5Fi1, 5Fi2, 5Fi3, and the lord marshall. During times of war, the keep can theoretically hold 120 men.
Ser Davros, despite himself, likes it here. There's just enough action (they took out a troll last fall) to keep things lively, and yet nobody is actively seeking his head. He has a RICHLY appointed quarters on the keeps third floor, and being a handsome devil, never has a problem finding "company" in Redstone or Haranshire. Unfortunately, he senses his idyllic existence coming to an end. Pigeons from both Haranshire and Redstone are telling of a large number of troubles occuring at the same time...seldom coincidence.
Controlling the militia coffers, and his personal stash give shim access to 5,000 gp in bounty/reward money. He also has access to the keep armory (all basic gear from PHB, Weapons, armor, 20% chance there will be 1 MW item of any particular variety) and will compensate the party any way he can for their help. Currently, Father Brent of St. Cuthbert is in residence. He is checking on the status of the search for his acolytes, as well as tending to a guardsman wounded by a snakebite.
Possible encounters here: (100 gp per CR "point" is a fair reward or bounty)
- Orc raiders from the keep
- small group of bandits "escorting" a new captive (always a low level spellcaster).
- Various woodland hazards (dire animals, occasional monster)
As for infromation, Ser Davros knows about the strike in Redstone, as well as the teamsters. He also knows there has been activity in and around the keep. His men have found orc and ogre spoor as well, but no actual creatures yet. He is a student of history (knowledge: Local history) and will happily entertain the party (female guests in particular) with stories of The founding of the valley.
DM NOTE: Good place to insert a historical side quest of the "And they never found the baron's flaming sword" variety. Must think on this, otherwise award CR4 experience to any party members who meaningfully interact/tease this story out of him.
Eventually the party/caravan will need to go. It is likely that an empty wagon or two may be sold here as well. The next chapter will be specific to Redstone. As the last chapter, it will also give me a pretty firm set of encounters to stat up, as well as a somewhat close chronology.
The opinions of my readers matter here. Please let me know if you see anything you would "do better". I am always open to advice. Thanks for voting on the polls, it will definitely guide my future posts.