Sunday, September 16, 2012

OpenQuest Fantasy Adventure #2

OpenQuest #2 Garenguard

Starting Location; The Foul Sand, a low drinking house in Garenguard, a coastal city of Tellerand overlooking the Sea of Worship.

An alluring sailor approaches your table of commiserating sots.    

“An easy journey into the country,” she says leaning into her second tankard of ale. “You all will still be within the borders of the Duchy. The toughest danger you’ll face are drunken farm boys and their cow faced whores.” 

“I look to retrieve some items from my ancestral home before looters and bandits scavenge the last bits.” She continues, her voice beginning to be drowned out by the evening crowd.
The Foul Sand is anything but a quiet place at the best of times. Now the full evening crowd is just starting to pour into the shabby gambling den calling for wine. 

“It has been abandoned by my ancestors long before my birth. Long before the Empire ever existed, if the tales are to be believed. There may be some treasures forgotten within its cold stone walls still. I wouldn’t count on it. You are all entitled to what you can find; except for the items I seek. 

What I can guarantee you is steady pay. I will pay henchman gold rate per man per day to see me to my home. If you can stomach a return trip back you can pick up day rate to escort me back here to this insufferable city so as I can return to sea.” The sales pitch complete Servesa finishes her drink and sits back against the tavern wall waiting your response…

The collection of six pre-generated characters provides players with full fleshed out adventurers who have some limited reasons to connect, and open ended beginning play opportunities. These play opportunities can lead directly into leaving Garenguard and exploring the greater world. There also is ample opportunity to get embroiled in the dark urban environs of the city of Garenguard as well.

Here are some of the built in linkages found within the pre generated characters;

Cashiered Ranger; your area map has markings you can’t decipher. Perhaps there is someone in the city who could read them? How would you know they were right?

Hunted Magician; straight out of Pulp Fiction, you know you will run into trouble going to your storefront to retrieve your spell book and potions. You will want one of the sword wielding experts coming with you. Once you have what you need you are more than ready to leave town!

Retired Gladiator; local slavers may be interested in your skills, or criminals in need of fresh muscle, or a noble who lost a lot of money betting you to lose. Drinking here in the Foul Sand, seeing the poor wretches and slaves filter in after their day of back breaking labor, all you can see in this city is exploitation. You would be willing to support an adventure out of the city to get away from all the filth.

Disturbed Wizard; Any one following you into the city will be taken on an adventure into the macabre and the chilling. Grave robbers, dream weaver dens, secretive alchemists, and shadows in the dark. All these you converse with in your nightly journeys. You are a user and keeper of secrets. The more horrible and compromising the more attractive. You prefer to gather such pieces of information to be used to your advantage later.

Disgraced Warrior; You are a blank slate which you should feel free to take in any direction. A barbarian far from home, you are anxious to head out into the wild and away from the city. You do retain your campaigning knowledge which can be summed up in the following maxims; 

1. Adjust your ends to your means.
2. Exploit the line of least resistance.
3. Do not renew an attack after it has once failed.

Searching Sailor; You are on shore in search of your family’s lost “luck”. An heirloom stolen from your great grandfather. Your family is said to have fallen into tragedy and ruin since its theft. You are hoping to find the answers to this long unsolved mystery in the old ruins of the once proud family manor. You desperately need to find a group of adventurers to overcome any dangers to be faced. The ranger’s map has markings near the location of the old manor’s grounds. So what if the runes are impervious to your reading skills. No one else knows what it says!

If gangs, cultists, and/or the house guard get up in any of the player’s activities several play sessions could be had before they leave the confines of the city.

Notes on Garenguard

A city of seventy five thousand people, the city is ostensibly ruled by a council, at whose head is the Commissar, a representative of the Kingdom of Tellerand. The other main council members are Kirian Ylestos, the Prince of the Church of St. Cuthbert, and the Mother Superior of the Sisterhood of Silence (see below). Other City Council members (with less influence) include guild masters, the heads of the noble houses, and a few wealthy merchants. People of the town often refer to this body as the “Council of Coin,” because money is a powerful and influential force among its members. The church and guild members are united in their hostility to magic, while the king maintains a University of Wizardry here in Garenguard.

The city teems with guilds. Every type of artisan, smith, or other professional belongs to a guild of similarly trained and employed individuals. These guilds enjoy a strong voice in the City Council. They are particularly supportive of the church and the Commissar. They are more than willing to denounce sorcerers to the church and traitors to the crown to the Commissar. Merchants practicing without guild membership are subject to fines and arrest.

To police the streets, the Commissar of the city commands a force of more than eighteen hundred troops and City Watch guards, including a few dozen elite individuals.

Like every city, Garenguard has a dark side. Here, criminal lords command veritable armies of rogues and assassins, and war amongst each other as well as against the law. These criminals deal in extortion, smuggling, gambling, usury, and prostitution. Chief among these criminals are Menon Balacazar, leader of the oldest criminal syndicate in the city, and the newcomer Kevris Killraven. They are bitter enemies. Depraved assassins called the Vai hunt victims for money, or worse.

OpenQuest #2 Night in Honlaudt

The game master will use the material from TSR’s “The Village of Hommlet” and the ruined moat house as the inevitable wilderness dungeon location. This will come about directly or after any adventures within Garenguard. Rename the village "Honlaudt", increase the paranoia, add ghouls, werewolves, dark spirits, etc. and let the macabre horror begin! What won’t be changed from the TSR source material is the presence of evil cultists attempting to reoccupy the moat house and corrupt the nearby village.

The village dynamics are one of paranoia and fear. During the night evil spirits are believed to roam about spreading disease, and ill-luck. Town folk whisper stories of lurking horrors abroad which kill livestock and kidnapping those abroad at night. Demonic possession, victim of mad cultists, fell beast which feast on blood; all are said to be stirring in the dark forest again.

The Wizard and the Priest wish to keep such hysteria tamped out, and will be relentless in their attempt to hide the truth from the citizens. The Druids wish to protect the people, but risk the repression of the church. The Repellent Coterie of Evil is bent on taking down the whole countryside into black chaos and humanoid ascendency.

 At the Welcome Wench the players will find they are the subject of  polite, but regular questions. One of Rufus' guards named Zert frequents the bar, and pesters any and all from the party with more pointed inquiries. His Most Worshipful Mage of Honlaudt provides the hireling with copper for information of the travelers which pass through the village.

“Traveling the King’s Road are we?” Zert will inquire. “None ever have business in Honlaudt. Unless you are selling iron. Cold iron for the Cold God says St. Cuthbart, and he is one for his cold iron here in Honlaudt.”

The barkeep will tell the drunk guard to shut it. Before the insulted soldier can get any more out of hand Rufus enters the tavern. He is there to take Zert out of the Welcome Wench and bring him to Burne, the village mage

"Take the King's Road out of town I would if I was you", he sneers before being roughly steered out into the towns main track by the large captain.

If they take up lodging at the Welcome Wench they can expect a visit from Rufus who will see them off in the morning. He hopes they found their stay pleasant and would they be moving on. Gathering supplies is fine. It gives the locals commerce before the travelers head along the King’s Road, or the seldom traveled East Road. But there has been trouble, and the townfolk don't trust strangers. 

Rufus is aware of “bandits” operating in the area and while he would never betray Burne, he will warn players of dangers on the East Road. But only if they are decently behaved. If they are douche bags he will gladly send them off to appease the mad cultists.

Burne, Rufus, and Terjon are in denial when it comes to facing the danger which lurks in the woods. They believe if enough eastbound traffic is sacrificed their village, and their riches, will be preserved. Soon the High Priest of the Coterie will arrive and demand the village as blood sacrifice, tribute worthy enough to the great god of death Toruk. Toruk comes in the form of an abominable spider slavering for blood.

Any time spent in town will give the Repellent Coterie of Evil and its agents an opportunity to discern what the party is up to. The spies in the village plot against the village’s inhabitants, and are continuously interested in the town’s strength. (4) Repellent Coterie agents will eventually set out to follow the party into the woods when they head out on the east road. The undercover cultists will try and ambush the party at night when they make camp. If the PC’s detect the assassins they will attack immediately.

Regardless of the outcome of the attack it will be noticed some workmen have now gone missing. By the second day Rufus will reluctantly head into the woods looking for signs of them. He will report whatever he finds back to Burne. Burne will not want to involve the Canon of St. Cuthbert as he never stops about the corruption of evil throughout the village. Talk of cultists at the moat house will have him calling for the club to be laid hard on the inhabitants of the village to uncover the source of the corruption. 
Once the party reaches the ruined castle they will have to decide how to proceed. Any attempt to enter the grounds during the day will be met with attacks from the insane cult guards. Not all of the guards will be capable of defending themselves. Roll for each regular’s sanity at the beginning of combat. Each has a 20% of being in a catatonic state due to the unrelenting terror of living with the undead. This does not apply to the leader. While visibly incoherent, he attacks vigorously, all the while weeping inconsolably. 
Trying to infiltrate the moat house during the night will call down the giant frogs which lurk in dank marsh, and undead crawling up from underneath the moat house.  Not only will the players have to cut their way into the moat house grounds, they will have to defend against wandering undead. If the players manage to defeat the hordes of frogs, zombies, and ghouls there is the giant lizard, giant spider, and/or giant snake which hide amongst the upper pile. If the players continue into the ruins they will encounter some of these beasts at their most active time! Be warned, a nighttime assault will be very dangerous. 
The amount of ghouls and zombies which issue forth will be key in establishing lethality of the overall encounter.

The Searching Sailor will want to explore the upper level ruins. There she believes can be found the artifacts of her long lost family.

The diary with her father’s last journey is indeed within the pile, and will be found after a random encounter with one of the three monsterous beasts; 1-2 Giant Lizard, 3-4 Giant Spider, or 5-6 Giant Snake.
Below the surface the players will encounter the villains bent on destroying Honlaudt. They are the instruments of evil attempting to establish the Repellent Coterie of Evil in Tellerand.
The hired men at arms do not go out at night. They are there to guard the undead lords during the day. When the sun goes down the evil henchmen barricade themselves in to protect themselves from roaming undead. Listening to the shambling nighttime hordes have made the men quite insane. The maddened men begin every morning going out the ruined wall, and spearing giant frogs so they can go crap in the marsh. They then return to the interior of the moat house where the lower dungeon squad sends up their days food. Usually game mixed in with human slave. The kitchen is down in the dungeon off of room #12.
The snake obviously needs to be removed from this location. Replace with captured local villagers and travelers. These kidnapped people have been used up in hard labor and are now destined for the stew pot.
The morning feeding crew includes some fighters in the case of an inadvertent attack by the traumatized guards.
The lower levels will find servants of the High Priest maintaining the kitchen and the slaves. The lower level guards are found in the living areas of #10 as well as protecting the High Priest in #16. There will also be a contingent of soldiers out on the East Road looking for victims. They return only when called for or have some prisoners to bring in. 
The High Priest is controlling the ghouls which inhabit the subterranean tunnels throughout the marsh. He has the undead creatures burrowing towards the village. Soon they will be able to come out underneath the village itself and devour the inhabitants.
The High Priest controls the ghouls through sacrifice and magic. If either of these two inducements are cut, the ghouls will begin to attack indiscriminately.

The party will either have returned successful or not. They will either be healthy or not. They will either make themselves easily found or not. But sooner or later Burne will get to ask them questions. 

The conclusion of the meeting should lead to Burne realizing he needs to send an armed party out to the moat house and flush out whatever evil lurks. He will send Rufus and the militia out to the moat house. He will make the players go as well as prisoners of the Kingdom of Tellerand and under the warrant of the church of St. Cuthbert. Either assist in the eviction of brigands and cultists from the moat house, or Burne will send the party to languish in the church’s dungeons. These are the options the powerful wizard offers. 
The party will not be bound for the march, but their weapons and possessions will be confiscated. These will be kept in the wizard’s tower and only returned if the players demonstrate they are men of honor. Rufus will use his judgment out in the field on whether or not to arm the players in face of danger. If his men look like they will be overwhelmed he will most likely arm the players. He will quiz the players about the defenses of the ruins before he makes his approach. He will want to enter through the courtyard, but the rotten drawbridge worries him. The entrance across the stream and through the tower . He will face an attack by frogs and guards during the day. Frogs and ghouls will assault the party during the night. 
The militia should eventually be mauled and driven back to the village. 

You may not want to let the forces of Honlaudt get this far. 

During the night of the players forced return to the village the town will be attacked by ghouls emerging from their underground diggings. The High Priest’s grisly assault has begun!
This will be throughout the village and will give everyone a chance to respond. The players are most likely being interrogated by Burne and Rufus in the church.
Rufus will go for his tower. The rest of the militia men will be heading to defend their families. Rufus will attempt to organize a strike force to go and battle the swarming ghouls. Burne will be devastated at the news of the undead attack. His willful denial of the horror which lurked beneath his feet comes crashing down. He feels as if he has consigned the people of Honlaudt to their doom. He will want to lock the door and not venture out until morning. Rufus turns to the players and asks for their aid…
The conclusion of the adventure should leave the characters in the good graces of Honlaudt and returning to Garenguard with some treasure.