BlueKINGDOM is a project near and dear to my heart which dedicates the Kingdom of Ostvick among the Warholds of the Northmen, into a fully fleshed out adventure area written for the fantastic Blueholmes rules. I began playing D&D in 1978 when I was 13 years old. My boys are 13 and I am creating adventures for them using the same Blueholmes inspired rules that I started out with forty years ago.
Warholds of the Northmen - Introduction
The BlueKINGDOM campaign takes place in the far NW corner of my Kingdoms Chimerical world map. The full map is found on the home page of this site. You are welcome to download it. It is in a high enough resolution that it can be printed. Also you can easily zoom into the map so that details and location names are easy to read and use during play. The scale of the map is 1 hex = 20 miles.
In the same way that the Kingdoms of Daria and Kyrene have been detailed using the Swords and Wizardry White Box rules by Matt Finch (Thanks Matt!), the Warholds of the Northmen will be written up using the wonderful BlueHolme rules by Michael Thomas (Thanks Mike!). All of the OSR rules used for campaigning in the various areas of Kingdoms Chimerical are inspired by Basic OD&D by Gary Gygax (Thanks Gary!).
Just to be clear. This is a not for profit, fan website dedicated to the love of OSR style campaigning which I have enjoyed since 1978 - so about 40 years now.
Kingdom of Ostvick
The Kingdom of Ostvick is where the adventures begin. Specifically this campaign launches near the Frost March road which leads North and NW from the capital of Ostvick to the border of the Kingdom of Morgwen to the NE.
The old fort of Balder's Rest is found just along the Frost March about five miles SW of the border between Ostvick and Morgwen.
The Year is 1056
It is the year 1056. The Nightshade War, which so permanently changed the politics and opinions surrounding arcane magic among the "civilized" lands of the South has been over for two hundred years. The dark stronghold of Oubliette has crouched brooding at the edge of the white wasteland of the Wintersmark for three and a half centuries. It was five centuries ago that the Northman hero Frordrin confronted the angry goddess Aglaeca and defeated her in combat, hauling her body, bound to a gigantic sled with chains of mithril silver up to the yawning mouth of the volcano Vrarskar and throwing her in. There the goddess would remain sealed in darkness, her terrible curse of the Trollborn working its way into the population of the noble born in the North, plotting her escape and revenge.
The Current Situation - Big Picture
Ostvick is one of nine petty Kingdoms called the Warholds of the Northmen. A King in these remote lands is a local warlord strong enough to gather a following of a hundred or more skilled warriors to his banner. Rule of the nine Kingdoms changes with some regularity. Feuding and raids between the Kingdoms is common place. All in all the region is bitter and dangerous with centuries of its own regional magic, lore, gods and powers. Life in the North is often difficult, bloody and short.
The Kingdom of Ostvick
Ostvick is currently ruled by King Gudbrand the Cruel. Gudbrand came to power when he defeated his Uncle Hamrfulk the Black in a personal duel which cost his Uncle his life and cost Gudbrand his left eye. King Gudbrand has adopted the habit of going about with his wound clearly visible, empty eye socket staring sightless out into the world. As a sign of his wrath, King Gudbrand has issued a decree where any person arrested for stealing in his lands will have their left eye removed. Any person who is caught a second time stealing within the Kingdom who is missing their left eye is hanged.
Gudbrand has ruled in Ostvick for eight years. He has roughly three hundred warriors following his banner. At least for now his rule over the land is considered stable and fair by Northern standards. Gudbrand keeps the bandits out of Ostvick for the most part and the few muddy roads which cross the country are usually safe and well guarded.
King Gudbrand the Cruel portrait by the incredibly talented Marcin S.
The Kingdom of Morgwen
The Kingdom of Morgwen borders Ostvick to the NE. As it is with all of the Warholds, the Kingdoms of Ostvick and Morgwen have been on and off again rivals, enemies and sometimes allies through hundreds of years of brawling, blood feuds and the attacks of monsters and beasts. Currently the Kingdom of Morgwen views Ostvick with a standoffish neutrality, neither friendly nor particularly hostile, suspicion perhaps is the best description for the mood between the two neighbors.
The Kingdom of Morgwen is ruled by King Halfdan the Old who captured the land from the previous line of Chieftains who held it for the previous four hundred and fifty years. The old Chieftains were viewed as corrupt at best and black hearted villains at worst. Halfdan came to the land leading a following of outcasts gathered in the Highlands of Vuxor far to the Northeast. Halfdan is the son of the Northman hero Ringerik and the daughter of the Sea King of the Black City, Vorger Iceheart.
Halfdan captured control of Morgwen forty years ago and since his claim of power his neighbors have viewed the change as a very good thing for all involved. Halfdan the Old is now in his sixties and headed towards his seventies. He commands a loyal following of one hundred and fifty warriors. Another two hundred warriors beyond this were sworn to his banner at the defeat of the old King of the previous line of Chieftains who was named Angantyr the Berserker. Angantyr was prone to breaking agreements and raiding across the borders into the lands of his neighbors. No one in Ostvick was saddened to hear the news of Angantyr's head sitting on a spike outside of the gate of Morgwen's fortress.
Morgwen is a place of power for the Druids of the Henge and also a powerful coven of witches called The Crones of Felthick. Dark powers linger in the shadows of the forests of Morgwen and several times have tried to rise up to eliminate Halfdan. King Halfdan has survived no fewer than nine attempts to assassinate him over the last forty years. Privately those closest to him call him Halfdan the Lucky because he has come through so many attempts to bring him harm largely unscathed.
King Halfdan maintains cautious but open trade relations with The Black City of Oubliette, a strange and some believe wicked place far beyond where the forests give way to the endless ice fields of the Wintersmark. There are folk in Ostvick who point out that Halfdan is the son of the daughter of The Undying King of Oubliette - Vorger Iceheart and that nothing good can come from a branch of that evil bloodline.
The Kingdom of Skyerga (SK-EE-r-gah) is ruled by Queen Geirrid, a middle aged woman, tall, strong with fine and noble features and long raven hair mostly taken over by stripes of white. Geirrid has a reputation for her wisdom as a ruler. She is surrounded by one of the very last active groves of Ragged Cloak Druids in all of the Warholds and these nine Druids both advice and protect her. Geirrid is rumored to hold some valued place within the prophesies of the Druids and that she has a gift for divination and prophecy.
The Kingdom of Ostvick and Skyerga share a limited border only about twenty miles wide which is marked by the waters of the Wartooth River. The Wartooth River runs all along the Eastern border of the Kingdom of Ostvick and has been used for hundreds of years to mark the border between Ostvick and the Kingdoms of Morgwyn and Skyerga on the Eastern borderlands.
Queen Geirrid commands a force of one hundred and twenty warriors but can call up another hundred and fifty from the farms scattered around her Kingdom. Geirrid and Gudbrand have a blood alliance forged in the old ways at an ancient shrine to the ghost of Bokstorn. They are sworn to unite their forces against any Warhold or outside threat which attacks either Kingdom. This alliance is considered to be unbreakable for a betrayal might mean the direct intervention of the ghost of Bokstorn against the Kingdom which broke the agreement.
Queen Geirrid keeps a small force to watch the river on the West side of her Kingdom, mostly to keep an eye out for bandits which might be crossing the river to avoid the justice of King Gudbrand the Cruel. Often this force is under the command of one of her nine Druids who enhances border security through his communications and control over the forest creatures living near the border. Most of Queen Geirrid's forces are divided between the primary garrison located at the city of Skyerga and in a force maintaining border security between the Kingdom of Skyerga and the Kingdom of Morgwen. Relations between King Halfdan and Queen Geirrid are strained and formal at the best of times. While King Halfdan has made overtures to improve relations between the two neighbors, Queen Geirrid seems uninterested in extending to Halfdan any measure of trust whatsoever.
The Kingdom of Hraedier
The Kingdom of Hraedier crouches on the Western border of the Kingdom of Ostvick like a hungry wolf. It is a violent Kingdom rules by the young and aggressive King Sigurd Snake In The Eye. Sigurd was born with a mark in his left eye which is said to resemble the ancient god of the world serpent biting its own tail. Sigurd is a fiery personality and attracts a good number of young, hot blooded Northmen warriors to his banner. While he is only twenty four he has already engaged in probing attacks against every neighbor on his borders with the exception of the powerful Kingdom of Svordheim. To celebrate his twentieth birthday he led a force of a hundred warriors into the Kingdom of Ostvick to raid farms, take captives and dare the older King Gudbrand to march out and face him. Gudbrand did march out and at the battle of Alkreg Forest conducted a clever ambush and defeated Sigurd, sending him packing back to Hraedier lucky to escape with his life.
Currently Sigurd has begun to expand his territory into the borders of the Whistling Death Forest to the Southeast of his lands. It is slow going and Sigurd has managed to anger the wild Orcs of the Four Talons into a full blown conflict. For now this war keeps Sigurd from conducting any serious aggression against Ostvick or his other neighbors.
Two years ago Sigurd led a sea invasion of the island population of Ornstock to the West of his Kingdom. His men defeated the weak defenses of Ornstock without much difficulty and so Sigurd Snake In The Eye currently claims the grand title of King of Hraedier and Ornstock. Sigurd's aggressive personality and limited successes in expansion has drawn four hundred warriors to his banner. At the present time roughly a hundred of his warriors guard his Kingdom's capital, the city of Hraedier, fifty are engaged in the occupation of the population of Ornstock island to the West, a hundred are divided into garrisons which patrol his borders and the final hundred and fifty warriors are tied up with the current war against the Orcs of the Four Talons.
Sigurd Snake In Eye
The Northern Whistling Death Forest
The Whistling Death is a vast forest, one tremendous connected net of life divided by the Goblinspite Mountains. Few humans dwell within the forest. It is a home for monstrous humanoids, Orcs, Gnolls, Ogres, Forest Trolls and worse, far worse. The only significant human presence in the Whistling Death are the wild berserker tribes of the Picts who dwell in the forest South of the mountains. The Picts do not dwell in the forest North of the Goblinspite Mountains. The Northern Whistling Death is considered to be even more dangerous and terrifying than the Southern forest.
All areas within the borders of the Northern Whistling Death have their own encounter tables which are written to be a full level harder than any other area of light forest or deep forest in the region.
The Goblinspite Mountains
The Goblinspite Mountains were once the homeland of the Dwarves. The ruins of the cities, strongholds, roads and lookout towers of the Lost Kingdoms of Mithril are still scattered everywhere through these mountains. The few Dwarves encountered here are scavengers, sneaking into hostile goblin territory and picking over the ruins of their grandfathers in search of whatever objects of value that they can find. The Dwarves no longer keep settlements in the Goblinspite mountains. Any sort of permanent settlement which caught the attention of the goblins would be quickly attacked and destroyed.
Traveling in the Goblinspite Mountains is incredibly dangerous. The mountains are home to the strongholds of the goblin and hobgoblin kingdoms, the forgotten bastions of giants and the lairs of dragons. The entire Goblinspite Mountain range has its own encounter tables which range from level 4 encounters in the lonely mountain passes and dark mountain valleys to encounter tables of level 5 and 6 for the high slopes, glaciers, snow covered wastes and ruins of the Lost Kingdoms of Mithril.
Adventurers below level five should not attempt to travel through the Goblinspite Mountains if they expect to have any chance of survival.
The Dragon's Reach
The Dragon's Reach is so named because it sits within the hunting range of three tremendous dragons dwelling on the lonely islands North of the Warholds. The three terrifying dragons of the North sea are named Fafnir, Nidhogg and Tzmok.
Fafnir in particular is so large that he is known to grasp up entire long ships to carry off to his island where he gobbles down entire crews of Northmen. His cave on the island is said to be surrounded by a frozen marsh filled with heaps of broken dragon ships.
The Sea of Bergs
The Sea of Bergs is the most Northern sea in the world. As its name describes it is a dark, cold sea filled with floating icebergs and miles of snow swept ice flows. A successful voyage through the Sea of Bergs is a right of passage for Northmen warriors coming of age within the mighty Warhold of Svordheim.
Two Beards Delving
Two Beards Delving is the only Dwarven city North of the Goblinspite Mountains. In point of fact it is one of the only three Dwarven cities anywhere in the world. For the most part Dwarves wander in nomadic family groups called free companies. Each free company has its own name, usually something inspired by the family history of life before the fall of the Lost Kingdoms of Mithril. Examples include, The Free Company of the Sunrise Hall, The Free Company of Blistering Rock, The Free Company of the Shadow Throne and so forth.
Two Beards Delving sits on a bluff or mesa of exposed rock outside of the borders of the Warholds of the Northmen about halfway to the barbaric country known as the Highlands of Vuxor. It is a walled city of moderate size with significant walls and fortifications. Humans and other races can come to trade at "The Delving" as it is known, but only Dwarves can remain inside of the walls between the hours of sundown and sunrise the next day. Approximately one thousand Dwarves live within the walls of the city.
King Burabarzen is the current ruler of Two Beards Delving. He is a middle aged ruler considered to be fair and even tempered by his people. King Barubarzen avoids entanglements with the affairs of the Warholds of the Northmen and also resists getting tangled in the off and on again disputes of the barbarians living in the Highlands of Vuxor. He sometimes trades metal goods for gold and gems from the Sea King of the Black City and this may be the only activity which draws any criticism from his folk or his neighbors. Occasionally the Dwarven King will dispatch a Free Company into the Goblinspite Mountains to scavenge artifacts, lore and items of value from the old Dwarven ruins which can be found everywhere there.
The Highlands of Vuxor
The Highlands of Vuxor were once home to a remote Kingdom of the Elves but now only a very few ruins remain which stand as testament to the state of the lands in those ancient times. The Southwestern half of the Highlands of Vuxor have much in common with the green covered hill country around the Isle of Skye in Scotland. From the middle point of the Highlands and traveling further to the Northeast the landscape becomes more rugged and rocky, trapped in glaciers and blankets of snow most of the year. The Northeastern half of the Highlands of Vuxor looks more like the terrain around Cairngorms National Park in Scotland.
Outcasts and Chaos worshiping wild men inhabit Vuxor today. There are entire small settlements inhabited by tattoo covered berserker folk. The Druids of the Henge have been the primary religious authority in Vuxor for hundreds of years. The great stone complex of the Henge is found somewhere in Northern Vuxor. It is here that a descendant of the ruling households of the Warholds is sacrificed to insure the return of the warmer months of the new year.
The Wintersmark is a white wasteland of ice and snow which marks the beginning of the arctic region of the far North. Very few settlements of humans exist in the Wintersmark. There are a handful of ruins and a few old citadels and shrines occupied by reclusive orders of religious hermits. Giants sometimes make pilgrimages into the Wintersmark, traveling North from their homes in the Goblinspite Mountains to make offerings to the titanic walking ghost of Bokstorn. No one can predict the course or timing of the appearance of the spectral titan but he makes his appearances most often within the ice and snow blown wastelands of the Wintersmark.
The Black City of Oubliette and Obsidian Bay
The Black City of Oubliette is constructed atop the dormant volcano where the goddess Aglaeca was imprisoned, bound tight in the mithril chains of the Dwarves. The city was first constructed by the Sea Kings of old, Northmen descendants of the chieftains of the Warholds, cursed with Trollborn features and forced into exile. The Sea Kings gathered around themselves followers, brigands and raiders, pirates and Chaos worshiping wild men from Vuxor. They constructed their city as they answered the siren call of trapped Aglaeca and in their unsuccessful attempts to release her slowly went mad.
Vorger Iceheart was the ninth Sea King to rule the Black City but he was a cut apart from his predecessors. Vorger Iceheart was both a Trollborn and grew to become a powerful Cleric of Chaos. It was he who managed to protect most of his mind from the ravages of the Mother of All Monsters. It was he who found some means to tap into her power and thus leach off part of her immortality to secure his own. Vorger Iceheart has ruled the Black City for three hundred and thirty years. He dabbles seldom in the affairs of the Warholds of the Northmen but when he does his machinations are evil and serious, all part of some greater scheme clear only to the last Sea King of Oubliette.
Player Character Races
Elves are extremely rare in Ostvick, perhaps a half dozen might exist within the borders of the Kingdom at any given time and these usually keep their identities concealed. Dwarves are less rare but are often considered to be vagabonds and outcasts. The only true community of the Dwarves where they rule over their own in this region is called Two Beards Delving and it is to the NE outside of the Warholds in the direction of the ice covered Highlands of Vuxor.
Gnomes are more common in the Kingdom. They act as traveling entertainers in their brightly colored wagons, traveling in troupes from place to place. Because they are kindly, folk and good entertainers they are welcome in most of these Northern holds.
Lizard folk are almost as rare as elves in these lands. They know no homeland this far North and most cross over the Goblinspite mountains to get here. Those few Lizard-men who can be encountered in the Kingdom are almost always mercenaries, bounty killers or something of that sort. The Northmen typically treat Lizard folk with a measure of respect because they are good fighters.
Humans born with the Trollborn mutation in the Warholds are not tolerated like they are in the Kingdoms of the South. Many of the Trollborn flee the Warholds to dwell South of the Goblinspite Mountains because here they are considered to be the cursed and hopelessly twisted and evil servants of the goddess Aglaeca, the Mother of All Monsters. Trollborn work to conceal their mutations and for the most part live in the wilderness far from forts or villages or the cities of the Northmen. In many cases Trollborn who are identified by the community will find themselves hunted down like a beast.
The Kingdom of Svordheim
The Kingdom of Svordheim is the largest and the oldest and the most powerful of all of the Warholds of the Northmen. It could be easily argued that Svordheim is the capital of the Warholds and that King Raum Dogslayer is High King over all of the Northmen. Traditionally this may be true. Raum Dogslayer likes to call himself the High King and in the traditions of old the King of Svordheim has the authority to summon all other Northman Kings to his banner to defend the land against any great invasion, monster or threat which rises against the Northmen as a whole.
King Raum Dogslayer is fat and middle aged with lengths of oily black hair left without braid or crown. He has a scar from the axe of an ogre which has mangled his nose and given him a partially cleft upper lip. Because of his wound King Raum speaks with some difficulty and dislikes engaging in complex negotiations or discussions. While Raum is overweight and ugly he is still incredibly, disturbingly strong and resilient.
King Raum's wife, Queen Astrid of Svordheim has not been seen in public life in many years. There are rumors that she died of some disease or perhaps even an assassination. In truth Queen Astrid fled the royal fortress in the dead of the night ten years ago. Nobody living seems to know the reasons behind the Queen's vanishing and King Raum never speaks of her.
King Raum has only one child and that is his daughter, Truda. Princess Truda of Svordheim is sixteen years old. She has flaxen yellow hair like her mother and while she stands on the short side for a Northern woman, only about five feet and eight inches tall, she is the rival of most young men in her strength, speed and endurance. Truda's Father has thrown most of his influence into raising his only daughter as his heir. Her teachers are the best fighters, the best trackers and the best war leaders in Svordheim, making Truda a shield maiden to be reckoned with. Truda is loyal, keen eyed, intelligent and totally loyal to her Father, the King.
King Raum has a thousand warriors sworn to his banner. At least two hundred and fifty of these he has invested at any time in the defense of the main city and the coastal fortress which serves both as his palace and home. Another two hundred and fifty of his warriors he keeps posted in forts and way stations guarding the borders of his own kingdom. Finally, five hundred of his warriors, fully half of his entire host, he has divided into groups of fifty and garrisoned these within the borders of all of the other Warholds of the North. These fifty warriors are called, The Ransomed Men. The Ransomed Men are warriors given on loan by the High King to each of the other Kings as reserves to their own troops in case of an attack by an outside host such as orcs, goblins or giants. They cannot be used against the human warriors of a rival Northern King and will sit in garrison should fighting break out between two rival Warholds. Should a great threat break out which requires the High King to call up all of the Kingdoms for the defense of the entire land these Ransomed Men are supposed to return to Svordheim and to bring with them, willingly or unwillingly, the Kings of the other Warholds.
This accounts for four hundred and fifty of The Ransomed Men. The last group of Ransomed Men are not accounted for because they are not spoke about. These are the fifty ghost warriors of the Warholds of the Northmen. The ghost warriors have their own stronghold somewhere within the shadows of the Whistling Death Forest. The ghost warriors are hand picked by the King out of the strongest and toughest and best warriors that he can find and they are sent to dwell in difficult circumstances meant to harden them even further. The ghost warriors are the unspoken enforcers of the will of the High King. If one of the other Kings really crosses a line, breaks some important oath or tradition and really pisses High King Raum Dogslayer off, he can dispatch the ghost warriors to deal with the problem, quickly, quietly and probably in a very permanent and bloody fashion.
King Raum commands the largest city and the largest and richest port city in the North. Because of this his court has the greatest contact with the Kingdoms of the South. After the Nightshade War in the lands of the South the magic-user cabal known as the Pentagarchy rose in power and influence in those Kingdoms, teaching that undisciplined and uncontrolled or unsanctioned magical knowledge was a danger to all people, everywhere and must be stopped. The Pentagarchy has sent envoys to Svordheim over the years in an attempt to convince the Northern Kings to allow the Pentagarchy to establish their own magical order in the far lands of the North and to put a stop to rampant heretical arcane magic which could spell doom not only to the Northern Kingdoms but to the whole world.
King Raum believes that it is in the best interest of his Kingdom to support the cause of the Pentagarchy and so he has allowed them to build a great Chapter House within the city of Svordheim. Raum does not have the authority to impress his will into the lands of the other Kings of the Warholds but he has used his influence to get the Pentagarchy introductions into some of those lands. In the mean time the Blood Riders of the Pentagarchy Inquisition thunder forth out of Svordheim and cross the borders into the other Warholds, tracking down those heretic magic-users that they can identify and corner. Those they capture are brought back to the dungeons beneath the Chapter House in Svordheim for questioning and are ultimately burned at the stake in the great square in front of the Chapter House as an example to other heretics.
Heilung is an amazing musical group. I listen to a whole collection of their performances as inspiration when I am writing material for my Warholds of the Northmen adventures.
Be sure to check out all of their performances on youtube. Wonderful and incredible.
The adventures begin at the isolated fort of Balder's Rest on the Northern border of the small Northman Warhold of Ostvick.
The characters are young novice adventurers who seek to follow in the footsteps of an adventuring parent or relative. This relative was once the adventuring companion of Olaf, a cleric who serves at the ancient shrine of the god Balder located atop a hill overlooking the rest of the Fort.
Balder's Rest Key
Three Finger's Smithy
Uncle Olaf's House
Balder's Rest Shrine
Description: Balder's Rest is a hilltop fort with a strong but simple wall of hewn timber. At regular intervals along the wall there are wooden towers, some with lookout spots open to the elements or covered by a simple tarp made of sewn together animal hides or roofed with a steeply pitched wooden rooftop. The wall surrounds the entire village constructed atop of the hill over the years and the walls are to long to defend with catwalks on the interior. The defenders depend upon warriors stationed in nearby towers to discourage attacks and by positioning defenders within the wall near where a breach might occur to cut down whatever manages to get inside.
The fort is found along the North Eastern running road leading from the only city of any size, Ostvick into the lands of the neighboring Kingdom of Morgwyn. The fort is surrounded by a low rolling hill country with occasional deep ravines and rocky gullies about five miles away from the NE border with Morgwyn.
Common Lore: Roll 1d20 versus Intelligence subtract 5 from the roll if the character possesses an appropriate skill gained from one of their character career(s). Rolling below the target number indicates success.
The Common Lore Almost Everyone Knows (Rolled exactly or made the roll by five or less.)
The fort of Balder's Rest was constructed 125 years ago during the life of King Augvald. Augvald became King of Ostvick after he and his men conquered and established a series of settlements among the islands found off the Northern coast of Ostvick in the icy waters of the Dragonsreach. In those days King Augvald was engaged in an off and on again rivalry with Ferking, King of Morgwyn, an evil King of olden times believed to have been a Trollborn.
There have been no raids or wars between Ostvick and Morgwyn for about fifty years and so the fort is rarely fully manned. Most of the time the barracks is only half filled with warriors, about twenty to twenty five warriors are billeted here by King Gudbrand, a handful more during the winter months when the border becomes more dangerous. The barracks is large enough to comfortably house fifty to sixty warriors in times of war.
The fort was named after an ancient stone statue of the Northern god Balder which leans to the side partially toppled by the passage of century upon century. The shrine of Balder's Rest has existed at the top of the hill from time out of mind, from an age long before the construction of the fort.
Less Common Lore - Some People Know (Made a successful roll by more than five but less than ten.)
King Augvald led a famous band of a hundred warriors. Often at his side where his twin daughters Arndis (Eagle Spirit) and Ingemar (Of the Sea) who fought as skilled shield maidens. It is said that he kept a sacred cow from which he gained extra power and strength by drinking its sacred milk. During the war with Ferking the sacred cow was sheltered here within the cave beneath Balder's Rest. Ferking engaged a foreign wizard named Varingal who came to the North on a black ship sailed from the strange cities of Xian. Varingal engineered a treachery in which the sacred cow was stolen.
Later King Augvald and his personal bodyguard were ambushed in the hills to the East of the fort. They were slaughtered and their heads were sent by Ferking to Augvald's daughters. Augvalds daughters were so grieved by his death that they jumped from the tall gray cliffs along the coast and drowned themselves.
Clerics of Balder have watched over the shrine at the top of the hill and the caves at the base of the hill for hundreds of years. The caves are used as a place of shelter but also as burial chambers for those that die in the defense of the fort or in the service of the Kings of Ostvick. Sometimes visitors to the fort who pass away from illness or the attack of a beast or monster are laid to rest within the caves as well. The caverns beneath Balder's Rest are called Hero's Ending.
Common Lore which is known by very few. (Successful roll made by 11 or more.)
The large statue at the top of Balder's Rest was constructed roughly four hundred and seventy years ago by the Ragged Cloak Druids. The statue was placed there as a monument to the ancient Northman hero Frordrin who was responsible for defeating the evil giantess and goddess Aglaeca and binding her into imprisonment deep in the shadows beneath the ground. Frordrin rose to become the first King of the Kingdom of Ostvick. In those days the caves beneath the hill were well known and served as a holy place for the Ragged Cloak Druids. The body of Frordrin was brought to the hill and placed into a secure vault deep down in the labrinth of caves beneath the hill. Later the shrine was constructed to Balder at the summit of the lonely hill and some years later the heroic statue of the god Balder added as a monument to one of the Northern kingdom's greatest heroes of legend. Over the years the shrine and the caves were handed over to the Clerics of Balder as his worship ascended in the region and the worship of the Druid gods of the season Gerda and Freyr, Gymir and Gullveig began to decline.
Religious Lore: Lore everyone knows. (Made a 1d20 roll under Wisdom exactly or by five, bonus if the character has religious knowledge or training associated with one of their character's careers)
Balder's Rest is a shrine found on the top of the hill where the fort bearing the same name is built. The shrine and the sacred caverns beneath the hill have been attended by a chosen Cleric of the Northern God Balder for generations.
Persons of good or neutral alignments who make small offerings (at least 10 gold in value) during the seventh day of each week will receive a blessing from Balder. This blessing makes the character slightly more resistant to evil influences and evil spells and slightly stronger in battle. (+1 to saving throws for one week and +1 to melee damage). The blessing lasts until the morning of the next seventh day of the week.
Because of the important power of the holy site the Kings of Ostvick have kept the hill protected and garrisoned with a force of warriors for many years.
Religious Lore: Less common lore that only some people know. ( A successful roll made by more than five but no more than ten.)
The caves beneath the hill are considered to be sacred to the clerics of Balder. For generations there have been no instances of undead appearing in any of the burials attended by the clerics of Balder within the caverns. The appearance of any undead within the hill would signal a great imbalance for the future security of the shrine on top of the hill and would almost certainly indicate an outside evil influence attempting to defile the holy site.
While the shrine has been maintained for generations, if it were to be successfully defiled by an evil enemy, necromancer or the priests of some evil cult it is unknown whether the shrine's special powers of blessing would ever be fully recovered.
Religious Lore: Esoteric and Rare Lore known only to a very few. (Successful roll by 11 or greater.)
One of the main reasons why the shrine on the hill has received the special blessing of the God Balder for all these generations is that the caverns below contain the sanctified burial chambers of Frordrin, the first King of Ostvick and one of the main heroes responsible for the defeat of the evil Goddess Aglaeca, the Mother of all Monsters.
In fact, this very hill and the caverns beneath were the caves where the Goddess Aglaeca was said to have fled after she was tricked into turning her own father into stone. The Goddess Aglaeca dwelt hidden beneath the hill where an underground lake can be found, creating strange beings as her companions until a group of Northmen heroes unwittingly stumbled into her lair and triggered her wrath. Aglaeca killed all of the heroes which invaded her caverns and then strode out of the hill in the form of a horrifying, naked giantess who turned all of the lands surround this hill and all of the lands to the East as far as the Highlands of Vuxor into a wilderness, empty of men.
Aglaeca was defeated by Frordrin and a force of Northmen after the passage of a century or more and bound in chains of Mithril silver crafted by the Dwarves. Frordrin and his men hauled the giant goddess over the snow and ice on a giant sled to the mouth of a volcano where the City of Oubliette now sits and dumped her into the mouth of the volcano, never to be seen again.
Arcane Lore: Lore a Magic-User would know. (Roll 1d20 under Intelligence exactly or by no more than five.) *Arcane Lore is a special type of Lore that only a Magic-User or Arcane caster has any chance of knowing. Other character classes do not even get the opportunity to roll for this knowledge.*
A Wizard named TenZar constructed a stone tower in the center of the fort when the place was first being built almost a hundred and twenty five years ago. TenZar the Endless was a human magic-user with a thirst for any strange knowledge or power which could extend his life. He refused to follow the dark path which led to becoming an undead. TenZar was a very powerful magic-user and he seemed convinced that somewhere below the hill was something which could make him truly immortal.
No one has seen TenZar the Endless in a hundred years. The local folk believe someone or something still inhabits his tower but no one has been seen coming or going from the tower in a century. The local folk fear the tower and avoid climbing the steps which wind upwards to the tower's single door.
DM's Note: Lore rolls are all or nothing. Either the character has the knowledge in their mind from previous experience or study or they do not. An automatic common level of knowledge can be gained from a week of study with another character that has the knowledge or with a sage or wise person in a village or town at a cost of 100 gold. Gaining more advanced levels of knowledge after an initial failed roll requires access to a library, the tutelage of a sage or high level wizard or cleric, at a cost of 100 gold pieces per week of study. After a month of study and spending the required 400 gold pieces the character can add the next highest level of knowledge to what they know. It is nearly impossible for a character to be trained by someone in the most rare and esoteric lore. If they miss out on this on their initial character roll they have to wait until they or the party discovers an actual book or scroll the DM has marked as "Rare Lore - Balder's Rest - Religion" as an example. After studying the rare book the character can then add that most rare of knowledge to what their character knows.
The Ostvick Barracks is a two story building with a stone first floor and a wood second story. The roof is made of rust colored overlapping clay tiles. Most of the second floor is divided into small rooms each with a bunk, chest, armor rack, weapon rack and a small desk with chair. There are eight of these rooms on the second floor with a single long hallway connecting all of them and ending in a modest office where the company sergeant is billeted and keeps his desk. The company office contains a metal strong box mounted to the floor by heavy bolts. Within this locked box is the company payroll. At any time about one hundred silver and thirty gold pieces can be found secured in this strong box.
The first floor is divided between a common hall with a large fireplace and four more small barracks quarters each with bunks for sleeping two comfortably. A narrow stone stair case leads down into a dry stone cellar which takes up only about half of the full space below the barracks. The cellar has food storage and barrels of ale along with several large barrels of fresh water. There is also a rough wooden table with stools and a bench outside of a pair of stone cells with iron bars and a swinging door in each for holding prisoners.
The Garrison and the fort as a whole is under the command of Captain Godred Redbeard. Godred resides in an upstairs loft within the Mead Hall. The Mead Hall acts as a civic center and has housing for the King and some retainers should his travels bring him to the fort. Under Godred is his second in command, Quartermaster Harald Boldfist who operates the company supply and trading post attached to the South wing of the Barracks. Under Harald is the company Sergeant of Arms, Ivar Borurson. Ivar leads the company in most tasks and would be in command of any scouting detachment sent forth from the Fort into the surrounding countryside. In general Captain Godred rarely leaves the fort except on the most urgent affairs or under the direct orders of the King. Quartermaster Harald is also unlikely to leave the fort because of his personal interest in running the trading post and amassing sufficient wealth so that he can retire altogether from soldiering.
NPC Sergeant Ivar Borurson
Human, Male, Northman, Strength 14, Dexterity 12, Constitution 11, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 13, Charisma 13, Level 3 Fighter, HP 18, AC 4 Mail Armor and Shield, Sword, Dagger and Spear.
Alignment Lawful Good - Ivar is a dependable leader for the garrison with five years of experience. He is thirty years of age, having spent his early twenties as a farmer before a number of poor harvests found him in debt and forced to sell his land. He has black hair and a long mustache and braided beard. Ivar is a practical leader. He does not consider himself to be above his soldiers. His men tend to be a little on the rough side without much spit and polish but when it comes to the practical matter of killing bandits or orcs they are dependable. Ivar currently has a garrison of sixteen soldiers living in the barracks and under his direct command. Four of these live in the downstairs quarters and the other twelve live upstairs with him.
NPC Common Soldier
Human, Fighter, Northmen, Level 1, HP 7, AC 6 Leather and Shield, Axe or Sword, Dagger and either a Spear or Bow and 16 Arrows.
Names: Agathor, Gremlik, Charten, Krag, Feluk, Narsak, Gurum, Bruvar, Osek, Gifren
Treasure: At any given point one of the common soldiers has 2d6 silver pieces on his person in a pouch.
Wiford's Folly is a large but somewhat ramshackle Inn located on a slight rise on the East side of the Fort. It was constructed about sixty years ago by a semi retired adventurer, a fighter named Wiford Yellowshield. Despite the somewhat run down appearance of the Inn it has been the only tavern and lodging for visitors and for the warriors stationed at the fort for two generations.
Twenty three years ago Wiford Yellowshield, now a man of advanced years mounted his horse Joturn and road out of the gate of Balder's Rest to find two of his adventuring companions and embark on one last adventure. Wiford never returned and so the Inn passed into the hands of a young woman he employed as his bartender and business manager, Kelda.
Kelda was young, strong and very beautiful when Wiford left the fort. She was only twenty years old and was known for her piles of thick raven hair. Today Kelda is a thin lipped, tough tavern keeper in her mid forties. Her thick raven hair is streaked with lines of white. Her full lips are thin and stained brown at one corner from the long clay pipe that she almost always seems to be smoking. Beauty can still be glimpsed in Kelda but she is thin, tough and a little worn out from the long isolated winters that come to the fort.
Wiford's Folley Inn
WIP - Cutaway which will include two levels of basement beneath the Inn + link to Inn key.
Strength 13, Constitution 12, Dexterity 14, Intelligence 15, Wisdom 8, Charisma 12
Human, Thief, 4th Level, HP 6+15=21, AC: Leather Armor 7, Saves BW 16, WT 12, GZ 14, RP 11, SS 15
Climb 95%, Hear Noise 55%, Hide in Shadow 25%, Move Silently 35%, Open Lock 35%, Pick Pocket 35%
Read Language 55%, Read Scroll 30%, Remove Trap 30%, Use Wand 20% Backstab Attack Damage x2
While Kelda is a thief she is patient and cautious. She is more likely to welcome adventurers to her Inn and treat them as honored guests while she waits patiently for them to get themselves killed like Wiford did when he went off on his fools journey. When guests die Kelda is free to rummage through their belongings and keep what she feels is valuable. If she is pressed into a corner she may resort to spying on characters or picking a pocket but only when the circumstances are very much in her favor. She will try to get a character very drunk to gain a large bonus to her attempt before trying to take something from a pocket. Kelda has been a successful thief in the fort for many years and she still has both of her green eyes. She is not about to get sloppy now. Kelda will not offer to assist a group of adventurers unless they make her an amazingly huge offer. Hundreds of gold must be on the table and at least of this paid up front for Kelda to step forward as an adventuring class character with some useful thief skills the party could use in a dungeon.
Kelda has her own room but it is hidden away in the first level of her stone basement. The basement beneath the Inn is extensive, two full levels of stone - an invention and creation of Wiford as insurance against an attack by some sort of truly horrible Northern monster like a giant or an actual dragon.
The basement is reached by a wooden stair found in the storage room locked behind a door at the back of the bar.
Kelda's room is cozy. It has its own small fireplace with a vent connecting it artfully to the main chimney of the Inn. The floor is thickly covered with warm furs as is her large bed. She has a small book case with a few worn out books and a journal, a small table and three chairs, a lantern, a wooden box containing a dozen ready to light torches and a cloth wrapped around six thick white wax candles.
Beneath Kelda's bed and wrapped in a deer hide is a strong iron bound oak box about the size of a bread box or small chest. The box is locked with a brass key of some complexity (-10 penalty to pick lock attempts) which Kelda always keeps on a metal chain around her neck with the key secreted down between her breasts. The box contains a spring activated dart trap which launches a dart at anyone in front of the lock when the lid is opened. The dart inflicts 1d2 points of damage, save versus poison or die. The chest contains a pound of 40 gold, 55 silver and 30 copper. It also contains a velvet pound containing a gem worth 30 gold, a gem worth 40 gold and a silver necklace with red stones worth 100 gold pieces. Finally the chest contains a potion of cure poison in a small black vial and a potion with two more doses of "kill you dead" poison +5 to saving throw versus poison if drunk accidentally but a failed save still means death. The chest also contains a scroll with the spell gaseous form, a rare and very valuable arcane spell worth hundreds of gold at least.
Gudrod the Hunter
Gudrod spends a fair amount of time at the Inn. On any given day and at any given hour there is a 75% chance that Gudrod will be present either helping Kelda with her work, fixing some bit of furniture or fletching more arrows in a large comfortable chair near the hearth.
Gudrod is never without his hounds, Cnut and Cnath. These are wolf hounds which stand no less than four and a half feet tall standing on all fours. Reared on their back legs they are taller than a man. These enormous beasts protect Gudrod and Kelda at all times.
Gudrod is younger than Kelda, he has only seen thirty four winters but he fell deeply in love with the woman five years ago when he was badly wounded by a bear while out hunting and he spent months in a bed provided by Kelda in the tavern healing from his injuries. Kelda likes him but she feels that he is to young and innocent for the relationship to last or end well. For now they keep their affair private and have no plans to change anything.
Strength 14, Constitution 9, Dexterity 17, Intelligence 11, Wisdom 10, Charisma 9
Human Fighter, 3rd Level, HP 18, Damage Bonus +1 (Blessing of Balder), AC Mail Armor 5
Weapons: Long Bow, Quiver with 20 Arrows, Sword and Dagger (1d6 Damage)
Saving Throws BW 15, WT 13, GZ 14, RP 12, SS 16 (Gudrod enjoys a +1 bonus to all of his saving throws because he is a dedicated follower of the god Balder and prays and makes offerings at the shrine at least once a week)
Treat Cnut and Cnath as Wolves under the control of Gudrod. These beasts are totally loyal to him and 90% immune to any magical attempt to control them or create magical fear in them which would make them abandon or turn on their master.
Cnut and Cnath - Wolf Hounds
AC 8, HP 9,8, Move 40, XP Value 20 each (Magic Resistance Bonus), Alignment Neutral, Intelligence Beast, Attacks 1 (Bite), Damage 1d4. If Cnut or Cnath hit a target with their bite attack the target must make a saving throw versus Gaze or be pulled off their feet by the enormous hound. The hounds are trained to drag an enemy prone to make it easier for Gudrod to dispatch. Gudrod enjoys a +2 bonus to attack a prone enemy being gnawed on by one of his hounds.
Gudrod has his own hunter's cottage about three miles away from the fort at the edge of an area of hills and light woods. He does not spend much time there but the bulk of his personal treasure is hidden there, buried beneath a flat stone under the burned logs in his fireplace. This hole is three feet deep and far enough down into the cool earth to protect the coins kept in it from the heat of the fireplace when it is lit. A metal box at the bottom of the hole contains 39 gold pieces, 58 silver pieces and 142 copper pieces. On his person Gudrod usually carries a small belt pouch containing 2d6 gold and 4d6 silver coins.
Quartermaster Harald runs the Trading Post which is attached to the barracks proper via the South wing. This two story building was originally used for the storage of additional supplies but over the years has been turned by Harald into his personal business venture. Harald trades common goods and items in exchange for animal pelts and furs brought in by local hunters or occasionally by the patrols of soldiers sent out to keep the roads free of bandits. Harald splits some of his profits with the Captain and a little with the rest of the garrison to keep the whole venture quiet.
Harald has on hand the items listed below for sale at one hundred and fifty percent of the standard price listed in the rules. Harald very nearly has a monopoly on the local market when it comes to these items and he takes advantage of the situation.
Leather Armor (2), Shield (3), Axe (2), Sword (4), Dagger (4), Spear (3), Halberd (2), Bow (1), Arrows (30), Crossbow (1), Bolts (30), Torches (12), Tinderbox (2), Lantern (1), Oil Lamp (4), Oil Flask (5), Small Barrel of Weedle, Small Barrel of Ale, Small Barrel of Beer, Rations (12), Boots (4), Cloaks (5), 50' Rope (3), Iron Spikes (15), Hammer, Crowbar, Backpack (4), Large Sacks (10), Small Sacks (4)
This is a complete list of what Harald has on hand which is useful for adventuring characters. He has other goods as well but these have mostly to do with cooking, farming, or trapping. His trading post also has piles of fur from different sorts of animals. His pelts are mostly deer, wolves, raccoon, fox and beaver.
Three Fingers the Half Orc operates the only smithy at the fort. His Father, Eroyn Yrol was the original smith who moved to the fort and set up the shop almost fifty years ago. Eroyn returned from an expedition outside of the fort about thirty years ago with a bundled infant he claimed to have saved from beasts. To the surprise of everyone the infant grew into a young Half-Orc which Eroyn adopted as his son, teaching him everything he knew about the forging of metal. Eroyn named his adopted son Vask after his grandfather and for much of his youth, Vask was something of an outsider despite growing up in the fort most of his life.
When he turned twenty, Vask helped defend a breach in the palisade wall against an attack by Gnolls from the Whistling Death Forest. During the fight, Vask lost two of the fingers on his left hand. Ever since that day, Vask has been called Three Fingers by the denizens of the fort and he has been accepted as one of the most trusted individuals living there.
Three Fingers primarily makes an income repairing tools, making nails and horseshoes and other common items. He does repair metal weapons and he has the skills to forge basic spear heads, arrow heads, crossbow bolts, axe heads and blades. His weapon crafting skills are basic but functional. Three Fingers can construct basic mail armor but creating a single suit takes him a considerable amount of time, at least a month to complete.
Three Fingers the Half Orc
Strength 18 Dexterity 12 Constitution 15 Intelligence 12 Wisdom 12 Charisma 11
Fighter Level 4 Hit Points 26 Armor Class Mail AC 6 Great Sword and Hand Axe, Crossbow and 12 Bolts.
Farms 1 - 5
Five farms work the land within the broad enclosure of the wooden palisade of the fort. These farms grow crops and raise livestock useful for the supply of the small garrison but also for the other residents of the community.
Farm One Svort's Place
Svort is a towering, hulking example of a Northman. He stands six feet and eight inches tall and weighs roughly three hundred and fifty pounds, all of which is muscle. Svort raises a field of Northern barley and has an enclosed yard with wooden structure where he keeps about thirty hogs. Svort is married to Heda, a pretty if stern looking woman with long braided red hair. Svort and Heda both act as if they are not willing to speak to outsiders. Their farm is a little run down looking and Svort's clothing is usually somewhat worn out and covered in mud. He can sometimes be see walking from his house to the house of the Moneylenders where he might stay for some hours. Sometimes his wife accompanies him.
DM's Note: Svort and Heda are under the influence of Old Man Witherspoon. They are both charmed and believe him to be the wise priest of a secret cult which will bring them both protection and riches if they follow him. They have carved on the door post of their house and on their pig building the open eye symbol of the Cult of Etherius. Both of them wear silver pendants of the cult symbol under their clothing at all times. Svort and Heda are Chaotic Good in alignment but they will defend Witherspoon and the cult to the death if necessary as long as they are under his magical influence.
Svort - Human Fighter 2nd Level, AC 6 Leather and Shield, Axe, Spear and Dagger, HP's 12, +1 to all damage rolls because of his tremendous strength.
Heda - Human AC 7, Leather Armor, HP's 6, Dagger, Bow and 12 Arrows. If they are together Heda will prefer to stay back and fire her arrows while her man wades in to melee. Her first target will always be any obvious spell caster.
FARM 2 - Tyborn and Fauna's Farm
Tyborn and Fauna are a married Northman couple with three children. Their children are Otto, who is 12 years old, Varna who is 10 and Sasha who is 9. They used to be close friends with their neighbors at Farm 1, Svort and Heda but they are wary of Witherspoon and suspicious of his strong influence over their old friends. Tyborn is a tall, strong farmer who tends to keep to himself. He keeps his family and especially his children away from Old Man Witherspoon's house and dislikes them playing on the property of his former friends. He will not openly discuss his suspicions that Witherspoon is in league with dark forces. Fauna on the other hand is fed up with Witherspoon and the wide eye'd devotion given to him by her old friends. She will openly complain about the strange goings on in the village, especially over the last six months. People coming and going from Witherspoon's house in groups at all hours. Neglecting their farms to be off running errands for the old man. He has an unnatural sway over many of the people in the village and she doesn't like it.
Tyborn is a third level fighter. Hit points 23. Armor is Studded Leather and Shield. He wears his wedding ring on his left hand and a shiny golden ring bearing runes on his right hand (+1 ring of protection). AC is 5. Tyborn keeps a battle axe close at hand and works about his farm most days wearing most of his armor, with his shield within reach. He wears a pair of hand axes on his hips and a dagger in his boot.
Fauna is a striking blond Northern woman with piercing green eyes. She is as tall as her husband. She is quick with a Dexterity of 17. She keeps a hand axe on her belt and a dagger. There is a long bow and a quiver of arrows just inside of the door of their home. It takes her one combat round to string it but will then enter combat behind her husband using the bow with a bonus to her attack rolls and firing at range while her husband engages any threat.
The children are taught to hide in the crawl space beneath the house but Otto will arm himself with a hand axe and will watch from under the porch. If things look bad he will rush to his Father and Mother's aid. The younger children will be to frightened to do much beyond wail and scream if their parents are wounded. Otto has 4 hit points. He has an AC of 8 due to his quickness and small size. He strikes for 1d3 damage with the hand axe.
Farm 3 - Nogren and Gord's Farm
Nogren and Gord are brothers. They migrated to the Northern realms from the Kingdom of Daria about ten years ago. The brothers are in their late thirties. In Daria they have a criminal past and would probably wind up in prison or executed for their crimes if they returned. They are shorter and more tan of skin than their neighbors with unkept manes of black hair. Norgren has a fierce scar and a patch over his left eye.
The brothers run a farm which is part crops and part pens for raising hogs. They usually have three dozen hogs on hand at any given time. Most of their business comes from the barracks and the local Inn. The farm is somewhat run down having become neglected over the last year. Nogren and Gord are both under the magical influence of Old Man Witherspoon. They leave the farm completely empty to work on excavations in his basement or do other work for the cult at all hours. Usually one of them is on hand at Witherspoon's home to act as a retainer and guard.
The brothers keep three dogs on their property. These are well trained to stay up by the house when the brothers are gone. Anyone entering the property will be greeted by barking hounds. The dogs will keep near the house but they will attack anyone who gets within ten feet of the house or the pens where the pigs are kept.
Gord makes extra money by supplying a group of bandits near the town. These bandits depend on the brothers for news as well as for food when pickings are slim in the area. They will gladly send five of their brothers, mounted on bedraggled horses to aid the brothers with any significant threats within the town.
Nogren, Human, Thief Level 3, Hit Points 16, Studded Leather Armor AC 8, Long Sword 1d6 +1 damage for strength. Two large skinning knives on either hip 1d6. Nogren will carry a spear when he expects trouble. Alignment - Chaos.
Gord, Human, Thief Level 3, Hit Points 17, Leather Armor and Shields AC 7, Short Sword and Dagger 1d6. Carries a short bow and 12 arrows in a quiver when he expects trouble.
Given the opportunity, Gord and Nogren will send the party outside of town on a wild goose chase and arrange an ambush with their bandit allies.
Farm 4 - Mrs. Hibb's Farm
Mrs. Hibbs is a widow whose husband died fighting off an attack of beasts and whose children are now grown and moved off to more interesting places. Hibbs is wrinkled, white haired and tough. She moves with a limp but has no problem taking care of her farm and cows by herself. She keeps a pair of large dogs to provide her with extra protection. Hibbs is to strong of will to fall under the spell of Witherspoon. When she isn't busy working around her farm or cottage she sits on her porch smoking a pipe and keeping an eye on the sneaky old bastards house. Hibbs is suspicious that Witherspoon is up to no good the same as some of her neighbors.
Mrs. Hibbs is suspicious of outsiders and will demand that strangers leave her be. If the characters find some charitable thing to do for her around her farm, repairing a neglected section of fence or helping with the crops she will become more friendly and will offer her place as a safe home base. Hibb's farm house has a loft with two large beds and three small bedrooms downstairs. Hibbs sleeps in one of the smaller rooms but keeps the rest of the place neat a tidy. She is an excellent cook and has a good working knowledge of herbs and the stitching of wounds, treating of infections and common illness.
Mrs. Hibbs is a friend of Uncle Olaf, the village priest. She will warm to the characters immediately if they use Uncle Olaf as a reference.
Mrs. Hibbs - Human Fighter - 2nd Level. Hit Points 14. Armor Class 9 (Leather Jerkin). Spear and dagger. Mrs. Hibbs keeps a crossbow under her bed and a case of 12 bolts.
Tanner and Porter - These are the two dogs belonging to Mrs. Hibbs. Both dogs are AC 7. They bite for 1d3 damage. They are fast and have a movement of 100 feet. Following a bite the character who is bitten must make a successful 1d20 roll under their Dexterity score or be pulled off their feet and onto the ground. While prone the character is easier to hit. Attackers enjoy a +2 bonus to attack rolls against them.
Farm 5 - Ysolde's Farm
Farm 5 is located NW of Three Fingers Smithy between the Smithy and the wall. Ysolde is the only elf living in the village. She was found as a child almost fifty years ago and raised by the old farm couple who used to live in the same farm house. Since that time she has matured to adulthood and they have passed on.
Ysolde has no real knowledge about her own people. The humans in the town are friendly to her but distant. As an Elf, Ysolde has natural magic talents which interest her. She keeps her spell casting abilities to herself. Ysolde dislikes Witherspoon. She is resistant to his charm magics and so he also avoids her whenever possible.
Ysolde is friends with Uncle Olaf and is available as a possible henchman should the characters need some assistance.
Ysolde is a 2nd Level Elf. Strength 13 Dexterity 14 Constitution 11 Intelligence 15 Wisdom 11 Charisma 16. She has 13 hit points. Ysolde carries a short bow and a quiver with 12 arrows. She has a dagger on her hip. Ysolde does not own armor. She would certainly put on leather armor if it was provided for her. Her starting AC is a mere 10. She is cautious and keeps to the back of any adventuring party making use of her bow and spells.
Uncle Olaf's House
Uncle Olaf's is a large stone cottage on the West side of the village square with its carved front door facing the crumbling Seer's Tower standing at the center of town. His home has a thick thatched roof and a large chimney built on the North side of the home. Clumps of gathered herbs hang from a trellis both at the front and the back of the house. On the home's West side there is a smaller rear entrance next to a wooden work bench upon which hangs and rests a variety of tools.
Inside the cottage is one large room with a half loft on the South reached by climbing a ladder. The main floor is dedicated to cooking and stores of food, tables and benches along with a pair of comfortable beds. Sometimes a local villager or soldier is resting on one of these beds after Olaf has attended to their wounds.
Up in the loft Olaf has his own bed, a dresser, chest and a desk with a comfortable chair and a shelf stacked with scrolls, maps and journals.
Olaf is a priest of the Northern god Balder. He is the priest assigned to tending to Balder's shrine atop the nearby hill, holding religious worship and festivals for the town and taking care of the burial chambers beneath the hill. This is a fair amount of work and Olaf has friends in the town who give him a hand from time to time. The recent troubles in the caves beneath the hill have proven more than he can deal with on his own and thus he has sent out messages to the adventurers asking for help.
Uncle Olaf is a 5th level Cleric of Balder. He is human, male, somewhat portly in appearance. He usually wears normal clothing but has robes for special holidays in his chest along with a suit of mail armor. A viking round shield hangs on the wall above his bed. Uncle Olaf usually has a hammer hanging from his belt.
Olaf is visited once a year by more senior members of his religion. They usually bring him a supply of useful potions and scrolls to assist him in taking care of the shrine. He usually does not go through all of these and so there is an accumulation of useful scrolls and potions on his book shelf in the loft. A character must be a Cleric to make use of the clerical spells.
Scroll of Cure Disease x 2, Scroll of Cure Poison x 4, Scroll of Remove Curse x 1, Scroll of Protection from Evil x2, Scroll of Restoration x 1. Potion of Healing 1d8+5 (4), Potion of Improved Healing 2d8+5 (3), Potion of Cure Poison (2), Potion of Cure Lycanthrope (1), Potion of Speed (1).
Uncle Olaf is one of the most important figures to the town. Attacking or stealing from him will insure the wrath of most of the townsfolk. The only persons who might be pleased by the removal of Uncle Olaf is Old Man Witherspoon and his cultists.
Balder's Rest Shrine
On the top of the hill where the village was built there stands a large stone statue of the Northern god Balder, god of Wisdom and Leadership. A winding gravel path ascends to the statue from the yard behind Olaf's cottage.
A grove of beautiful trees surrounds the statue and the broad stone altar where Olaf holds important religious ceremonies.
The statue of Balder has stood in this spot for hundreds of years. Long before the village was built the shrine of Balder was located on this spot. Indeed it is one of the oldest shrines in the Warholds.
Hero's Ending is the upper level of cave and crypts level one indicated on the side view map below. These caves are attended by the resident cleric of Balder and are used as burials for residents of the village as well as resting places for all of the attending clerics who have served at the site, going back for generations.
Uncle Olaf is sworn to maintain the sacred burials in these caverns. He has a secondary duty to monitor the ancient tomb located deeper within the caverns beneath the crypts.
Recently storms and the activities of the cult have caused a variety of creatures who usually keep to the lower caverns in this location to move closer to the surface. This has caused a chain reaction of displacement which has caused dangerous giant rats and other creatures to push into the crypts of Hero's Ending. Uncle Olaf has called for assistance from the characters to clear out the crypts and investigate what is at the bottom of these recent troubles. He hopes the adventurers will be strong enough to put a stop to whatever unnatural circumstances are unfolding deeper within the caves.
This large open hall is constructed in a classic Northman fashion with eight tremendous pillars made from massive Lord's Oak trees supporting the walls and roof. The hall has one long table fixed in the center which is elaborately carved with images and events involving the denizens of the town. There is a raised platform constructed of broad slabs of white stone on the South end of the hall and upon this platform is the carved wooden seat of the clan chieftain, in this case it serves as the seat for the garrison commander, Captain Godred Redbeard. Behind this seat of authority a ceremonial round shield hangs on the wall bearing the symbol of the town, a yellow stencil of the Northman god Balder on a blue field.
On the West side of the hall there is a medium sized ante chamber which serves as a kitchen and food storage for community or garrison events and feasts. This chamber has its own large fireplace with a space large enough to roast a whole boar or dressed deer on a spit. The fireplace includes two ovens for baking bread.
On the East side of the hall there is an indoor workshop and secondary armory with racks of axes, blades, spears and a half dozen bows and sundry hanging quivers filled with arrows fletched with their feathers dyed a deep blue. There are sufficient weapons in this small armor to arm two dozen individuals.
The hall is constructed with a very tall vaulted roof, high enough to accommodate an open loft. This loft has beds for the Captain and his wife along with a communal assembly of six loyal bodyguards and their families. The Captain and his bodyguards all keep dogs, there are at least eight living in the Mead Hall at any given time. All are trained war dogs. Between the business of the hall, several servants, the dogs, children running about and bustling of guards and soldiers the Mead Hall is a loud and active place from dawn until late into the evening.
Hugard Mossgrove is a halfling from the town of Kettlebee in the Dragonsmarch region. Hugard has a typical halfling build, somewhat pudgy and only about four feet in height. He has a thick pile of sandy brown hair with long shaggy sideburns. Hugard dresses in a tan shirt beneath a dark green vest with calve length pants of a rich brown. Hugard is in his 30's making him a little on the young side for a halfling living alone, so far from home.
Hugard's cottage is of normal size on the exterior, constructed of stones with a thick thatch roof. On the interior he has sub divided the rooms by adding a second floor at just over four feet in height from the ground floor. This leaves an upstairs area with a peaked roof where the lowest sections are still just over four feet making a cozy and comfortable drive living space for someone of his stature.
Hugard keeps five sturdy ponies, a pair of mules trained to pull a wagon and a half dozen riding horses. All of his horses are of at least average quality. He takes very good care of any animals in his care and has a knack for healing animals in need of care.
Besides being a savy business halfling, Hugard is a second level thief. He prefers the notion of expert treasure hunter over being an actual criminal. Hugard is good friends with Uncle Olaf and is available as a NPC resource for a party of adventurers in need of a thief to add to their group.
The Seer's Tower
This sullen gray tower rises up from the center of the town square. At the base of the tower is an arch and the rusted hinges upon which once hung the ground level door. That door is long rotted away and only the empty opening remains. Just inside this opening a stone spiral stair which is quite narrow, only five feet in width rises up inside of the tower wall from that portal all the way to a landing right at the top floor of the keep.
At the top of that dingy gray landing a few crenelations allow a view of the surrounding countryside out to as far as a mile away, on a clear day. Interlopers are then confronted with a solid and sturdy looking door of aged Axe Wood. The surface of this door glows softly with arcane inscriptions. The surface of the door and all of the stone work within the tower is quite resistant to any and all attempts to damage the construction and force an entry. The magic here is subtle but of such power that nothing short of a "wish" will remove the wards protecting and securing the tower without the knowledge and permission of TenZar himself.
The well has stood at the center of the village square since the first decade of its existence. It is nearing two hundred years in age and the stones and conical roof top have been repaired many times over the passage of the years.
The well lowers a bucket approximately fifty feet down to the cold clean waters of the underground lake, far below the suface of the hill. Approximately 50 years ago the old Captain of the guard ordered that a heavy iron grate with thick bars be installed within the well, with only a square large enough for the bucket to lower through. The grate has helped to keep vermin and other monstrous problems from climbing up out of the well to harass the town.
Thirty feet down the shaft of the well there is an arched, five foot wide passage which leads from the shaft into the stone chambers which serve as the primary quarters, workshops and living quarters of the mage TenZar.
Moneylender's House (Old Man Witherspoon)
The heavy oak door which allows access into this comfortable living area is often secured with a wizard lock spell. The door can be bypassed with a knock spell or it can be hacked open using an axe or similar weapon after inflicting 20 points of damage (AC of 10). Hacking down the door creates a very loud amount of noise which will alert Witherspoon and any servants or guards present inside of the house.
The windows to this room and indeed all of the windows on the first floor are constructed of dark stained glass protected with iron bars. The walls of the first floor are made of stone. One of the windows has iron bars secured with a built in lock mechanism and hinges. This feature allows Witherspoon to use the window for ventilation and the creation of a cooling cross draft during the hottest of the summer months. The lock is present on the inside of the bars facing away from any would be rogue standing outside creating a 05% penalty to any attempt to pick the lock.
The iron bars can be defeated using a sledge hammer and crowbar. AC 10. 30 points of damage to defeat. The stone walls are well constructed and thick. AC 10. 40 points of damage to open a hole sufficient to climb through.
The floor of the first floor is thick slabs of polished slate with a roof of heavy dark oak beams and thick posts of eight by eight inches positioned throughout. In the entry room there is a small stone fireplace sufficient to make the chamber warm and cheery. The wooden mantel has a trio of cleverly carved wooden figurines, one of an owl, one of a bear and one of a serpent. Each has small gems for eyes. These are not magical but each is worth 50 gold pieces. There is a polished silver metal box on the mantel which has a mirror built into the lid which can be used when the box is opened. The box contains thick wooden matches, forty of these which are absolutely reliable and quick for lighting a fire so long as they are kept from getting soaking wet. Above the mantel there hangs the head of a black wolf whose features have been worked into a very realistic looking snarl.
In front of the fire place there are two comfortable looking padded chairs as well as a padded bench. A warm comforter is folded atop the end of the bench. On the floor before these chairs is a thick rug made of bear skin.
Across from the front door on the opposite wall there is a large polished desks upon which are several closed ledgers, an ink well and several quills along with a small knife for sharpening them. The desk has four drawers, two on either side, all of which are locked. Witherspoon keeps the small brass key for these drawers secured on a chain inside of his waistcoat pocket. There is a comfortable leather chair behind the desk with two sturdy wooden chairs facing from the other side. It seems obvious that much of Witherspoon's business meetings with merchants and tradesmen are conducted at this desk. In the corner near the desk there is an angular cabinet with frosted glass doors. Within this cabinet there are a dozen bottles of various liquors all of which are imported from far off. Each of these bottles is worth 10 gold. Along with the bottles the cabinet contains a silver serving tray and a rack with a dozen small glasses.
In the corner opposite the cabinet there is a wooden rack which holds a suit of armor such as is usually only found in the distant lands of the South. This armor is human sized scale armor complete with a closed helm of steel, gauntlets and leg coverings. The armor is complete. It provides a human wearer with an AC of 5 and is worth 200 gold pieces. Witherspoon is unlikely to sell the armor if asked as it is a supposed heirloom of his family. In truth it is a trophy removed from an enemy long ago and Witherspoon keeps it here to give to one of his magically charmed followers in the event he should need to deal with any serious problems in the village or at home.
Also within the room there is a ornate interior door painted a deep green color which leads further into the house. This door is kept closed most of the time but it is not locked. In the event of an emergency Witherspoon might instruct his guards to barricade the door using some of the furniture in the room beyond. In this case the barricaded door will not budge unless it is bashed down. The door has an AC of 10 and 15 hit points.
2. Kitchen and Servant's Quarters
Beyond the green door is another living quarters which is decorated in a more rustic and practical fashion. To the left of the door is a wooden work table with herbs and pots, pans and cooking utensils hanging off of pegs. Above the table is a shelf lined with jars and pots containing spices, floor and ingredients for cooking. Some of these spices are fairly difficult to come by in the North. There are ten jars in particular worth 2d6 gold each due to their rarity.
To the right of the door is a simple palette of straw along with blankets and a chest which contains common clothing items neatly folded and washed. This is the sleeping area and belongings of Mrs. Tarpot, Witherspoon's long time, evil aligned cook and housekeeper. At the bottom of her chest of clothes Mrs. Tarpot has a small pouch containing 30 gold, 42 silver and 20 copper pieces, her current savings. Also buried deep in the chest is a leather bound slim journal of sorts along with a piece of charcoal used for writing. This is Mrs. Tarpot's private journal where she pines her unnoticed love for Witherspoon and undying devotion. Mrs. Tarpot is not under the influence of Witherspoon's magic, she is genuinely in love with him in her own twisted and evil fashion.
Directly across from Mrs. Tarpot's corner is a wooden stair rising up to the second floor. Beneath the stair is a narrow wooden door opening into a narrow closet space turned into a private room for Mister Graves, who is Witherspoon's creepy and usually silent butler. The space merely contains a long cot and a few clean and pressed changes of clothing belonging to Graves. Graves has no other belongings or treasures as he is more of a construct than an actual living and breathing person.
Mrs. Tarpot was once a great beauty, living in one of the cities in the South, poor but kept from starvation through a career as a whore and a thief and a spy. Witherspoon met Mrs. Tarpot when he was younger, less gray and more successful as a wizard. He pulled her out of the gutter and poor quarter where she was forced to survive since she entered the world as an orphan. He has kept her in his service ever since. Mrs. Tarpot considers herself to be almost Witherspoon's equal and co-conspirator in his various schemes.
Witherspoon has spent a career stealing secrets and power from other, more hard working and successful wizards. Mr. Graves was the masterpiece of a rival. A seven foot tall gaunt and grim faced flesh golem barely distinguishable from a living man, at least from visual inspection. The flaw of this creation is that it is controlled by whoever wears the magic ring created by the original wizard who made this creature. A carefully laid trap involving Mrs. Tarpot and a poisoned bottle of rare and expensive wine allowed Witherspoon to acquire the magic ring and Mr. Graves has been in the service of "The Master" ever since.
Up the stairs one enters a comfortable library with built in book cases covering most of the walls. The wooden floor is kept polished and is blanketed with a large expensive rug from the Eastern region of Xian. The rich wood of the book shelves is carved with decorative flutes and lines with corners embossed with a half closed eye symbol. There is a round table at the center of the room and surrounding this are three comfortable looking office chairs. The banister of the stair continues upwards and the polished redwood stairs continue up, ascending to the third floor of the main house. At the top of the stairs however there is a heavy wooden trap door of dark oak. This trap door is secured with a large steel padlock and is kept closed and locked at all times.
A blue painted door stands between book cases on one side of this room and that door is also kept closed (but is usually not locked). A second Xian rug, this one a rich patterned carpet of purple and red extends into and through the narrow stone archway / hall which connects this main wing of the estate with the smaller wing on the West side of the property.
4. The Guest Bedroom
This is the guest bedroom which Witherspoon will direct Mr. Graves to take guests which he feels are so troublesome that they need to be disposed of in quick fashion OR to be kept under observation so he can decide if they should be disposed of. Should Witherspoon receive guests which turn out NOT to be merchants or traders looking to do some sort of business transaction and especially if they begin asking all sorts of questions, Witherspoon will feign exhaustion but insist that his guests enjoy taking their ease at his home rather than at the drafty, run down tavern in the village.
The guest bedroom has one set of bunk beds, a double bed and a cot which can be placed if there is a need. It has its own small fireplace attached to the fireplace in the kitchen below by a narrow branch of the chimney. There is a large round rug of purple and silver at the center of the chamber upon which is woven a large half open eye symbol. There is a small narrow window of dark stained glass with the same half open eye symbol worked into the design. It is impossible to look through the glass and the window is permanently fixed in the closed position. Outside bars cover this window.
There is a tall dresser in this room which contains a few extra folded blankets but is otherwise empty other than a row of hooks for hanging gear or clothing. There is a bowl of dates on a small wooden night stand near the double bed. There is a small desk with four empty drawers. On top of the desk is a silver candle holder with a single candle and two matches.
The walls of this chamber are papered in a lighter green and white than the painting on the door. The pattern on the wall paper turns out to be a stylized repeating pattern of the half closed eye. It is impossible to sit in this room and not have the feeling that you are being watched. Indeed the characters may be as there are two different eyes in the pattern of the wallpaper up in the corner near the ceiling where a plug can be removed and either Witherspoon or Mrs. Tarpot might spy on the characters.
In addition within the flu of the fireplace there is a metal cone and pipe which leads up to a larger cone within Witherspoon's private chambers. Witherspoon can sit in his room and easily listen in on conversations taking place within the room, even quiet conversations. Whispers he may not be able to make out (20%).
The green door which provides entry into this chamber is constructed with the same half closed eye image worked into the upper paneling of the door. There is a knob in the center of this door (but only on the outside). The interior of this door has no knob, no access to the door's lock or locking mechanism. It may take the characters a moment to realize this, possibly not until they decide to leave in which case they must knock on the door and call out for assistance. In certain cases Witherspoon may place a wizard lock spell on the door to make it even more difficult to leave.
5. The Guard Room
Above the library is the primary guard quarters for the house. There are two beds in this chamber. Each bed has its own chest for storing personal items. There is a round table in this room and three wooden stools. This chamber has a shield and two iron swords decorating one of the walls. This room is where the downstairs steps from the library ascend to. One of the walls has a torch sconce and there is always a torch flickering in this location.
The guard room is occupied by two members of the town militia which have been listed as missing for the last three to six months. Both are fairly unwashed with long unruly beards and scraggly wild looking hair. Their eyes are always wide and rarely blink. Their faces are void of expressions. These two human Northmen are heavily under the control of Witherspoon. He provides them with sufficient food and exercise working in the depths below the cult temple to keep them fit and ready for action. During any visit by outsiders both guards are recalled to this location for extra security. Witherspoon can summon them to his assistance with a thought.
Guard #1 Abor Grayhand - Human - Northman Strength 16, Dexterity 12, Constitution 14, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 10, Charisma 10. Fighter. Level 2. Hit Points 14 AC 5 Mail and Shields Battle Axe and Dagger.
Guard #2 Kestra Welhome - Human - Northman Strength 14, Dexterity 15, Constitution 15, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, Charisma 12. Fighter. Level 2. Hit Points 15 AC 7 Leather and Shield. Spear and Hand Axe.
6. Witherspoon's personal bed chamber
The door to this room is painted purple and features a wide staring eye carving at the top. The door is always secured with three strong locks. It has an AC of 10 and is reinforced with 30 hit points. Witherspoon keeps the key to his room secured on a chain around his neck and under his clothing, he entrusts no one with his key, not even his loyal cook. If the house is under attack and the attackers seem formidable, Witherspoon will retreat immediately to this room leaving Mr. Graves to deal with any invaders. If he has a chance he will take Mrs. Tarpot with him but no one else. In that case Witherspoon will secure the door with a Wizard Lock spell.
Inside the room is impressive with rich polished furniture, a four poster bed covered in purple sheets of silk and warm blankets all adorned with the eye symbol.
There is a promising looking book shelf in this chamber with books and scrolls but these are books on cartography, history and on how to learn and translate a variety of languages.
Within this room is a narrow wooden door painted red with the wide open eye symbol at its center. This door leads into the narrow workshop where Witherspoon conducts most of his private magical experiments, the room he calls the Astroloterium.
7. The Astroloterium
During an emergency Witherspoon will retreat into this chamber where he will attempt to summon a demon to slaughter his enemies. Witherspoon will remain inside of the summoning circle with Mrs. Tarpot where he will be protected from the demon. If the demon is successful he will need to pay it with an appropriate sacrifice in which case he will either give up one of his magical items or if Mrs. Tarpot is present push her out of the protective circle so that the demon can consume her. If the demon is banished or destroyed Witherspoon will be left to deal with his enemies personally. The summoning of the Type I demon takes Witherspoon 20 combat rounds. He will retreat here and begin the preparations for casting the spell but will not complete it until he actually hears someone bashing down the door to his bedroom. This is, of course, the worst case situation possible for the heroes. More likely Witherspoon will be suddenly confronted and attacked before he has time to prepare in which case he will have to depend on his items and personal spells.
Witherspoon is a formidable wizard, to be sure, but he is nothing without his servants and nowhere near the power of TenZar the Endless in the caverns beneath the town.
The "Arch of Accomplishments"
The arch is a stone construct which connects the main house to the West wing. It has polished rosewood floor panels with a rich purple and silver carpet spanning the full length. Tall arched windows flank either side of this hall. The windows are thick stained leaded glass and they are mortared right into the stone walls. The windows are quite sturdy. AC 10 and 14 hit points to break through. The windows here are probably the weakest point of entry into the house.
The walls on either side of this hall are furnished with carved dark oak book shelves and decorative pillars. Instead of books these shelves are filled with a museum like display of objects and carved marble busts. The busts are of a half dozen different men whose names are difficult to place. An arcane knowledge check with a success roll of 10 or higher will inform the player character that these busts are all wizards, all relatively famous from different Kingdoms in the South and all deceased.
There is a tremendous mural of Witherspoon as a younger man dressed in an expensive fashion of silks and dark fabrics from some exotic land smirking down upon everything displayed or passing through this hallway.
The shelves contain several dozen mundane objects, carefully arranged and polished. There are four daggers of various designs, what appears to be a broken and burned wand, a cracked crystal ball on a custom base of black wood resting on a red silk cloth, a somewhat tattered turban with a sad looking burned bit of ostrich feather still attached to the front. There are also a half dozen closed wooden boxes constructed of expensive looking woods. The boxes are locked. Note - the key to these boxes is kept in Witherspoon's desk. Each box contains between two and four sets of polished finger and knuckle bones fashioned into runic scrying tools.
The West Wing
8. The Study and Storage Room
The hall leads into this quiet study. The ceiling is plastered and painted with a evening sky at dusk. The walls are paneled in dark oak. There is a small hearth and fireplace here with a large painting of a young and haughty looking Witherspoon smirking down into the chamber. In the center of the room is a round table with a hole cut in the center within which is a dark blue globe painted with the constellations of the night sky and a surrounding ring for marking the passage of the months and weeks. Around this table are three comfortable chairs, wide enough for lounging. There is a liquor cabinet against one wall. To the right of the hall entry is a black painted oak door with the usual half open eye symbol carved into the center. The door is always locked but Mrs. Tarpot and Graves both carry a key to this door, a heavy iron key which they keep in their pockets.
The liquor cabinet contains a dozen bottles of quality wine, each is worth 3 gold pieces. Within the drawers of the cabinet is a soft blue pouch of coin which contains 20 gold, 25 silver and 20 copper.
9. Secondary Guard Room and The Vault
The black oak door opens to a five foot wide room with a descending stone stair at the far end. The interior wall of this room is fitted with shelves for holding sacks of flour, wedges of cheese, bags of apples and other overflow food goods destined for the kitchen. Within the sacks of flour is one sack which contains a small black vial. This vial contains deadly poison of a type used for poisoning food or drink but which cannot be placed with any real effect on a weapon. The poison takes about a half of an hour to take hold. At that point a saving throw is required or the character will suffer 1d6 points of poison damage every minute for the next 3d6 minutes. A successful saving throw means that the character will feel cramps and ill, unable to move more than at half the usual rate until the poison wears off.
The stairs lead down to the stone secondary guard room below the study. This chamber holds three cots and a shelf. There is a small table and three chairs. On the table is a lantern which is filled with oil. There are three wooden matches tucked into the lantern. The floor is covered in one corner with a purple and silver rug upon which is the half sleeping eye symbol.
This secondary guard room is occupied by some of the local farmers under the control of Witherspoon in times when he feels that the house and cult needs additional muscle for protection. At other times this room is left empty. The rug conceals a wooden trap door which is usually left unsecured. There is room for an iron padlock which can be added during periods when Witherspoon feels the house is at risk. The trap door opens on to a narrow, five foot wide stone stair that leads down into the basement below the house. The stair leads straight down for several feet, then reaches a landing where the stair turns and descends down another ten feet into the basement.
TRAP - From one corner of the landing to the other there is a thin trip wire. This trip wire is attached to a crossbow concealed in a nitch behind the bricks of the wall. The crossbow is rigged to fire a bolt if the trip wire is activated. The trap inflicts 1d6 damage on anyone that triggers the trap.
Basement Area - Cellar and Storage
10. This five foot wide hallway is constructed with stone and masonry. The hall is approximately forty feet long and five feet wide. There are three sets of stone steps leading further down into the ground. The basement is constructed deep beneath the surface of the ground and well away from the main buildings. Remember the trap at the corner BUT the trap is only armed when the cult is taking time away from the temple and tunnels. It is a protective feature against monsters coming up from the caves below the house.
11. The cellar is used to store goods received in payment or trade from merchants or traders involved in business dealings with Witherspoon. There are two large barrels, one currently filled with ale and the other filled with mead. There are cloth sacks containing flour, corn meal, beans and barley. There are smaller barrels containing dried fruit. There are shelves containing jars of preserved vegetables and berries.
There are two wooden crates containing a variety of pelts and animal skins either folded or rolled for storage. Witherspoon will send down Mr. Graves or Mrs. Tarpot to retrieve goods he decides to use for trading or barter with the player characters.
Two shelves are rigged to move. The are slightly elevated and a search might detect the sets of metal wheels they are mounted on. Each is controlled by a lever disguised to look like a torch in a sconce.
If the characters pick up the pest control adventure through the notice posted within Inn, they will be escorted by Mrs. Tarpot to the top of the steps. In this case there are six giant rats in the basement have a go at the food. There is a small hole burrowed through the base of the North book shelf.
North Secret Door to Area 12
When you pull on the torch you realize it is some form of concealed lever. You hear the clack of gears and the rattle of a chain as the North storage shelf rumbles to the side. Beyond is a dark ten foot wide and ten foot deep chamber with a plain wooden door on the opposite side of the wall from the secret door. Securing this door is a fist sized metal padlock. NOTE: This is a low quality padlock. Attempts to pick the lock using tools enjoy a +15% chance of success.
12. Tool Storage
This is a rough stone chamber which is thirty feet wide and twenty feet long. There is another wooden door on the opposite wall which is secured with a simple four by four length of timber dropped in place as a bar. The door is secured from this side.
The chamber has a chair and a table covered in tools. You see three shovels and four picks. There are also crates here, standing open. The crates contain candles and simple tin candle holders. Scattered around the chamber are a dozen muddy metal buckets.
13. Temple Entry
Beyond the Western secret door there is a ten by ten foot finished stone chamber. There is a black polished wooded door on the opposite wall. In the center of this door is a shining bronze symbol of a large staring eye, similar to the half open eye sigil but this one has changed to where it is wide open and staring. The door is secured with a simple concealed latch system. Pressing the round pupil in the middle of the eye unlocks the door. AC 10 Hit Points 15.
The chamber beyond is guarded by two caravan guards under the control of Witherspoon. They are each dressed in mail armor and carry round shields painted black with the wide open eye symbol featured on the center in orange paint. Each guard wears a leather hood over his head. The brow of the hood is decorated with the same orange wide open eye symbol. The guards carry swords. Treat them as 2nd level fighters with full hit points.
14. Cult Leader Office
On the South side of this chamber there is a thirty foot long, ten foot wide hall with pegs for hanging clothing. On each of two dozen pegs are hanging black robes with the same orange eye symbol on the back. There are two doors on the South wall. One door is black and decorated with the orange eye symbol. This is Witherspoon's office where he gives orders privately to followers or strengthens any weakening charm magics on his followers. The room has a simple desk and chair and another regular door leading into a closet where Witherspoon stores his elaborate cult leader robes, a non magical staff with a brass eye symbol on the top and shelves with a variety of mundane street magic items, smoke powder, flash bang powder, various types of incense, mechanical noise making devices, tools for hiding objects in his clothing which he can suddenly reveal with a flourish, that sort of thing.
The other door on the South side of this chamber is made of reinforced wood but is unsecured, it provides access to a simple privy.
On the North side of this chamber there is a large and impressive set of double doors. These doors are carved and painted a polished black each with the orange wide open eye symbol set into the surface in brass. The doors are heavy but are never locked. They provide access into the main temple area of the Cult of Etherium beyond, in area 15.
15. Temple of Etherium
This forty by forty foot stone chamber is the main temple for the Cult of Etherium. There are six pews with seating for thirty persons. On either side of the chamber are niches for lanterns. At the front is a raised dais upon which is a black pulpit of polished wood. Behind the pulpit is a large round stained glass window. During the day light streaming down out of the well chamber behind the window lights the chamber in violets, reds and purple hues.
The front of the pulpit has an impressive golden eye symbol which has a palm sized sparkling green gem at the center. The gem is "The Eye of Etherium" which allows Witherspoon to exercise long term charm and suggestion effects on anyone forced to look into it when it is activated. The Eye is controlled by a magical golden pendant with a similar green gem of smaller size that Witherspoon wears around his neck and usually concealed beneath his clothing at all times. The Eye is yet another major magical item which Witherspoon managed to secure for himself after arranging the betrayal and murder of the previous owner.
The Eye of Etherium
Any intelligent humanoid looking at this large green magical gem must make a saving throw versus spell or become charmed by the operator of the gem for 1d10 plus 3 days. If the operator uses another charge of the eye he can implant suggestions into the mind of anyone present currently under the charmed influence of the eye. When the subject of the charm awakens they will have no memory of anything which has transpired during the period of their charm for 1d6 hours. The subject may have no notion of how much time has past while they were charmed by the eye. The eye contains 10 charges. It can be recharged by draining the mind of a subject completely into the gem. This requires the subject to be forced to stare into the gem when the drain effect is activated. The subject gains a saving throw. Should they make the saving throw they temporarily lose 1d6 points of Intellgence and pass into a coma which lasts for 2d6 hours. This level of drain returns a single charge to the Eye. If they fail their saving throw their mind is completely emptied into the gem causing all points of Intelligence to be lost. Each point of Intelligence lost restores one charge to the gem to a maximum of ten charges. When the subject is fully drained they become a mindless, drooling vegetable and they will die within 1d4 days unless a remove curse or restore spell is cast upon them.
The Eye of Etherium is an evil magic item but it is not specifically intelligent. Over time it will exert a subtle influence over the operator of the gem to cause them to organize another branch of the "Cult of Etherium".
16. Well Chamber
Beneath the well is a twenty by twenty finished stone room. The room has a shallow round pool at the center. The chamber has walls which are twenty feet tall and the position of the well insures that during the day the light filtering into this chamber lights the stained glass window in the temple. There are four sconces for torches along the North wall of this chamber. At night these can be lit to provide back lighting for the stained glass of the temple during night ceremonies.
The well above is constructed with a heavy iron grate built in so that no one can easily climb down into this area behind the temple without using tools to open a hole in this grate. AC 10 Hit Points 20. Using tools to pry a way through the grate makes considerable noise and may attract the attention of temple guards, occupants or persons active inside of the nearby house.
17. Stone Tunnel
Witherspoon's goal all along has been to tunnel his way with the aid of charmed servants into the caverns below the town. He hopes to investigate the status of the Mage TenZar and steal from him any items or magical knowledge of power. At the crossroads of these two tunnels there are six large metal bins fixed with wheels. Mud is usually dumped into this bins and then wheeled through the complex into the chamber beneath the well. From there it is raised up to the surface via the well and dumped into a cart or wagon to be disposed of in one of the farmer's fields. Much of the ground beneath the hill is solid strata of stone. Witherspoon is of sufficiently high level that he can cast the spell rock to mud. He uses this spell to turn areas of the underground to mud which can be carted away, allowing him to work with his charmed followers to build tunnels and the temple complex beneath the ground.
17a. This five foot wide cavern like tunnel moves North and ends in the lowest level of the cellar beneath the Inn of Wiford's Folly.
17b. This five foot wide cavern moves to the West and descends at a regular angle. After a ten minute walk the tunnel ends at a breach in the outer walls of the Wizard TenZar's home vaults.
This is a dwarven forge build I made for the Moneylender's house. Note that the smaller wing on the right has no ground floor door access and all windows are covered in bars. The only way to get to this part of the house is to snake your way through several rooms in the main house and cross the enclosed archway. Entry into the cellar beneath the house is only available through stone stairs on the ground floor of the isolated wing.
Here are the figures I selected for the main npc characters living at the house. In the center is Old Man Witherspoon with his usual bowl full of wine and walking stick. To the right is Mrs. Tarpot, his cook and house keeper and on the left is Mr. Graves, his butler and porter. It should be noted that Mr. Graves stands seven feet tall and looks a bit like "The Tall Man" from the old Phantasm movies.
Side View of Balder's Rest Adventure
The Denizens of the Fort
The people living in the fort, which are not aligned with one of the three factions below, are largely neutral with a few good aligned character scattered among them. Most of these people want the fort to remain a safe place for their homes and businesses. Even the few evil leaning individuals are not evil just for the sake of being evil, they are more selfish than anything or they nurse an unhealthy grudge.
Almost everyone living inside the fort views Uncle Olaf as a benevolent cleric who is worth helping. For this reason as long as the player characters are engaged in helping out Uncle Olaf, most of the people living inside of the fort will see them as on the side of good and helping the fort.
The Cleric of Balder - Olaf and the Ragged Druids
Uncle Olaf wants things to return to normal in the caverns and crypts, especially in level one and two where he has work to do. Olaf suspects that a wizard or something magic is living in the old tower at the center of town but as long as it keeps to itself and doesn't harm the fort or the people living in the fort (as it has for many years) then he doesn't have any real interesting in sticking his nose into its affairs. Olaf understands that something has been driving the creatures living deeper in the caves up towards the surface. He doesn't really understand the specific details about why this is happening.
Olaf knows that at the bottom of the third cavern level that there is a sealed portal which requires some form of key or special enchantment to open. He knows that the portal secures the next level of caverns down below where there is an ancient tomb, probably the tomb of a very important chieftain or king from the past. Olaf knows that the Ragged Druids used to be caretakers of the hill and the caves below and the ancient tomb but that they passed the duty over to the clerics of Balder generations ago. Olaf does not have a key for the sealed portal but he believes that the Ragged Druids might. Olaf knows the location of one of the old groves of the Ragged Druids who are still active in the Kingdom of Ostvick.
The Ragged Druids have the key to the sealed portal. They won't hand it over to just anyone. Only someone worthy can be given the key. The slaying of a particular dangerous monster will probably be involved in earning the key.
There are few of the Ragged Druids left anywhere in this day and age. They used to be a powerful force in the Warholds but their numbers and influence have declined steadily for the last five hundred years. Many regular folk view the Ragged Druids with a measure of suspicion.
TenZar the Endless
TenZar the Endless came to the hill over a century ago when the fort was just being built. He used his wealth and magic to build the tower at the center of town. He came to the hill looking for a forgotten cavern deep below ground. He had heard of a strange underground lake where strange slime creatures and oozes spawned. TenZar was fascinated with such creatures and believed they contained secrets which could lead to a person becoming immortal. TenZar has bent all of his considerable magic to attempt to achieve immortality while at the same time refusing to become a lich. TenZar has spent the last century and more living in the caverns below the hill experimenting with the different slimes and oozes. He has managed to extend his life to a great degree but he is still not immortal.
Living in solitude all of these decades and his single minded pursuit of eternal life has driven TenZar a bit mad. Also his experiments have changed him so that he is no longer altogether human.
Old Man Witherspoon and The Cult of Etherium
Witherspoon the Wonder Wizard was an act worth spending a silver coin to see in the City States of Carthusia, forty years ago. Witherspoon was a young man in those days with slicked back black hair and a carefully curled mustache. Witherspoon was a bonafide wizard but he was never inclined to get his hands dirty as an "adventuring magic-user", instead Witherspoon added to the spell that he knew sleight of hand tricks and fakery and the fine out of the con-artist. By the age of forty Witherspoon had to pack his few belongings and board a merchant ship sailing far away from the enemies he had made in Carthusia. He found himself in the Warholds of the Northmen and a few years later won at a card game a small collection of stolen books, among them a small hand written journal belonging to a younger and more sane version of the wizard TenZar.
Witherspoon recognized the writings of a true mage and a true magical genius right away. He made it his quest and passion to track TenZar down and see if he could convinced the fellow to teach him, or at the very least to see if he could find where TenZar was buried so he could steal any magic books or magical items buried with him.
Witherspoon came to the fort about ten years ago having tracked TenZar here and knowing that TenZar was being the construction of the mysterious tower in the center of town. Once at the fort, Tenzar established himself as the town moneylender and undertaker. Witherspoon began to make use of "the eye pendant" he found. The eye pendant allows Witherspoon to cast the spell charm person or the spell hypnosis once per day as if it had been cast by a tenth level magic-user. Witherspoon has been using the pendant to recruit "followers" from some of the neighboring farmsteads.
To the left is the first level of the dungeon for the Balder's Rest location. It is a PDF document which includes the first level map and key.
I will place additional dungeon and encounter area levels below as they are finished.
The Frost March Road
The Frost March road is a muddy, gravely track which runs from the fortified town of Ostvick, Northeast to the small hamlet of Soddenford on the East side of The Wartooth River. It is sometimes patrolled by a force of a dozen or so mounted warriors riding forth from the garrison at Balder's rest or a larger force riding East out of Ostvick. The punishment for banditry has grown severe enough that local encampments of human bandits have for the most part pushed out of the borders of Ostvick. Low land groups of Pig Faced Orcs or lesser goblins pushed down out of the Goblinspite Mountains are a different problem all together.
This is a cluster of ten farms, grouped together in five, one mile sections of land. The farms here are large and each farm has its owner and perhaps three to five tenant families which share in the work of the land in return for a percentage of the harvest and animals. Each farm has its buildings constructed close together and within a barricade of stone walls and wooden defensible fences. Each of the five farms has its own primary defensible building, often a fortified tower constructed at the center of the farm compound.
The farms produce the majority of food and goods available for the garrison and residents at the fort. They bargain as a collective exchanging an annual tribute of food, goods and some of their sons to serve a term in the fort garrison in exchange for a certain amount of independence. The farmers are tough and most are hunters and rugged Northern warriors in their own right making the individual farm compounds a difficult target for opportunistic raids by orcs and other creatures.
Ragnar was a hero of old and the site of this bridge is said to be close to one of the places where he performed great deeds defeating a hill giant who was harassing the farms in the area. The bridge crosses a place where the Wartooth river cuts deeper and runs narrower. The bridge is built of stone and includes its own three story stone watch tower on the Ostvick side. This tower is usually manned by the Master of the Bridge and six Ostvick warriors. In times of trouble the garrison can be increased to a dozen or even twenty.
Taking supplies to Ragnar's bridge is a regular chore and starting characters might receive this as a first task or mini adventure to complete.
The Murkendraw Forest
There was a time when the worst things you might run into beneath the branches of the Murkendraw were Pig Face Orcs or bandits. Over the last several decades the Murkendraw has become darker and more dangerous. The mysterious Druids of the Henge are abroad in the Murkendraw and some believe that it is their magics which have drawn gigantic horrible spiders, Ogres, Trolls and worse beings down out of the mountains and into the forest.
King Halfdan has promised to put an end to the evil growing in the Murkendraw. To further his aim he has hired Black Brand Mercenaries from the city of Oubliette to strengthen the numbers of his soldiers patrolling the roads and protecting the people in the towns.
The Black Stone Hills
Almost a dozen miles to the Southwest of Balder's Rest rise the jagged cliffs and spires of the Black Stone Hills. This area is known to be home to a small settlement of Dwarves, the Dwarves of the Black Hills, to be precise. The Dwarves are a secretive lot and seem to be somewhat nomadic setting up a mine in one place and working at it for a year or so before moving on to some other spot. They sometimes trade ore or coal with the men of the human towns in exchange for whatever supplies they need to replenish.
Very few other people live in the Black Stone Hills. It is a dangerous region, wild and unpredictable.
The Shifters Woodlands
Black Shield Bottoms
The Wartooth River