Saturday, December 18, 2010

[D20cember] O is for Open Fire!

Open Fire!: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Labyrinth Lord adventure set in the Ashford Valley.

Get Ready:
Faced with an increasingly hard winter, the poorest of the poor in the Ashford Valley look to a little poaching to supplement their meager diet. But the local knight, Sir Maurice, takes a dim view of that.

Get Set:
The PCs are somewhere in the Ashford Valley, probably closer to Sooton or Tradetown than Ashford town, in a small and exceedingly poor community called Mykal's Rest. The land may be simply bad for growing crops or there may have been a blight in the summer crops yielding a bad harvest. When a local lad gets "caught" poaching a deer on the knight's land, it could lead to a peasants revolt!

Mykal's Rest is a poor hamlet and the PCs have trouble finding rooms for shelter out of the snow. Most likely, they'll be in someone's barn for the night. A tavern of sorts, in the basement of the largest house, serves watered beer and little else but is warm and snug.

While the PCs are in the "tavern," a servant from the knight's manor comes with news. Albert, the mayor's son, has been caught poaching. He's set to be tried in the morning and if guilty (which is the way it looks), promptly hung.

This is surprising because, of all the villagers, Albert is the most honest of the lot, kind and charitable as well as handsome and pious. He'd never break the law, especially poaching - at least not for a very good reason. It's also worrisome because, of all the villagers, he's close to Sir Maurice's son, Scott.

The news spreads quickly and before long, a group of men, armed with longbows, have gathered, with talk of "going up to the manor and sorting this out, once and for all." The PCs are eyed suspiciously all throughout this before the largest man, a big brute of a man named Harry, approaches them aggressively and demands to know who they are and why they're here - all but accusing them of being in the pay of Sir Maurice and "those folks that tax us to death and leave us to starve."

Violence is not a way out, in this case, or at least not one that the PCs should follow. The villagers will bluster, especially Harry, but they won't draw steel or arrow unless the party does first. If the PCs instead offer to come with (or go in the place of) the villagers, and are reasonably persuasive (an ability check vs. Charisma could go a long way to convince them), then they'll accept the help (although Harry will watch them suspiciously).

Since it's already dark, the group heads towards the manor. If any of the players have any indication that this is a bad idea (armed men, with torches, approaching a knight's manor under cover of darkness), that should add to the tension. (If none of them catch a hint, a cruel GM could have the villagers increasingly become belligerent and request an ability check vs. Intelligence to figure out that this could go wrong in so many ways.)

At the manor, the knight, his son and his men-at-arms await the villagers (warned by a snitch). They are all armed and the soldiers are more than willing to defend their lord and themselves from this peasant rabble. Sir Maurice calls for the PCs and the villagers to disperse and return to their homes or be declared rebels. And the yelling on both sides will be fierce, with men on both sides fingering their weapons nervously. (A cruel GM could have one of the more nervous villagers or armsmen accidentally shoot one of the PCs to see if a rumble ensues amidst the calls of "Cease fire!" from Sir Maurice and the more calm villagers.)

If the PCs interject, as outsiders, and politely request to Sir Maurice that they interview Albert and see the evidence against him, he'll relent if the villagers agree to disperse. Harry gives them a dark look as they walk away.

Talking to Albert, he tells the PCs that he was in his barn all day but no one saw him and he knew nothing about this until Sergeant FitzWarin came to arrest him.

Then the PCs are shown the evidence, which consist of a dead deer with an arrow in it (which both Scott and Albert have confirmed was Albert's arrow). An elf or a fighter will notice that the arrow wasn't shot from a bow, but pushed into the body at a weird angle. Further instigation shows that the deer was dead from a broken neck.

If the PCs point these things out to Sir Maurice, he'll be surprised and tell the PCs that there is a witness: Sergeant FitzWarin saw Albert shoot the deer and then ran off when the armsman gave chase.

When summoned to Sir Maurice, Sergeant FitzWarin defends himself but it's obvious that he's lying. FitzWarin, knowing he'll be arrested, grabs either Scott or Albert by swordpoint and tries to bargain his way out - a brace of horses or he kills! The two man-at-arms join him!

All the while, FitzWarin will cackle his evil plan - first Albert had to be hung, which would have driven Scott into a "suicidal" depression (FitzWarin had a plan for that, too). Then one day, Sir Maurice would have an "accident." FitzWarin would seize the lands and become a knight and be rich and have beautiful women, like he deserves!

The PCs have a choice, take him and the traitorous men-at-arms down and (possibly) lose the hostage or promise him the horses and spring a trap. They should know that if they give him the horses, the hostage will never be seen alive again.

If the outcome is good, the hostage is safe (even if wounded), and FitzWarin and the men-at-arms are either killed or captured, Sir Maurice and the villagers of Mykal's Rest will welcome the PCs back any time (and probably have more troubles for them to solve).

Notable NPCs:
Albert (1 Normal Man); Alignment: Lawful; Armor Class: 7 (leather armor); Hit Dice: 1d8, Hit Points: 7; Attacks: longbow (1d8), dagger (1d4); Save: NM; Morale: 9.

Harry (1 Normal Man); Alignment: Neutral; Armor Class: 4 (-3 Dex, leather armor); Hit Dice: 1d8, Hit Points: 11; Attacks: longbow (+3 to hit, 1d8+3), rusty longsword (+3 to hit, 1d8+3); Save: NM; Special abilities: Strength 18, Constitution 18, Dexterity 18; Morale: 9.

Farmers (14 Normal Men); Alignment: Neutral Armor Class: 7 (leather armor); Hit Dice: 1d8, Hit Points: 8, 7, 6, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3; Attacks: longbow (1d8), dagger (1d4); Save: NM; Morale: 7.

Sir Maurice; Human, Fighter, Level 3; Alignment: Lawful; Abilities: Strength 12, Dexterity 11,Constitution 12, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, Charisma 10; Armor Class: 4 (chain & shield); Hit Dice: 3d8, Hit Points: 14; Attacks: longsword (1d8); Save: F3; Morale: 8.

Scott (1 Normal Man); Alignment: Lawful; Armor Class: 4 (chain & shield); Hit Dice: 1d8, Hit Points: 6; Attacks: longsword (1d8); Save: NM; Morale: 8.

Sergeant FitzWarin; Human, Fighter, Level 3; Alignment: Chaotic; Abilities: Strength 17, Dexterity 17, Constitution 12, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 8, Charisma 13; Armor Class: 2 (-2 Dex, chain & shield); Hit Dice: 3d8, Hit Points: 21; Attacks: longsword (+2 to hit, 1d8+2); Save: F3; Morale: 8.

Men-at-arms (2 Normal Men); Alignment: Chaotic; Armor Class: 6 (leather armor); Hit Dice: 1d8, Hit Points: 4, 3; Attacks: crossbow (1d8) and dagger (1d4) or halberd (1d10); Save: NM; Morale: 5.

If Sergeant FitzWarin and the men-at-arms escape, they'll come back again in the PCs lives, either working with the Necromancer or possibly joining up with one of the other enemies of the PCs.

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