Wednesday is here and with it brings a day of blue skies, crispy sunlight and the promise of change on the breeze. Today we are looking at the twists and turns that could alter or impact the little mining town of Newtbranch and how that can enrich the adventure for our players or completely shake it up. So let’s roll into it.
Trained in the dark arts
Whispers in the dark
Ash on one of the the many long lonely days in his mine shaft was chipping away at a wall, they had all started to look the same to him but he was employing what he had learnt from the dwarven brothers that had sold him the cursed mine. Following a vein of quarts deep through the muddy walls laden with basalt and when mining deeper in the mine, granite, Ash had had very little luck – picking up just enough gold to pay for his supplies and his tab at the tavern. As he struck again with his pickaxe the stone cracked and a section of the wall gave way revealing a small hollow pocket amongst the stone and dirt. The light from his lamp danced through the settling dust and stumbling rocks and in front of him lay a vein of gold set into the wall that would pay for the purchase of the mine, supplies for a year and then hiring help. Blinded by glee he pushed through the muddy wall and didn’t notice as the basalt boulder that was above the hole he made begin to give way.
As he broke through the wall the boulder fell, pushing him forward, his lamp tumbling out of his hands to lay on its side at the base of the wall – the basalt rock pinning his leg to the floor as dirt and smaller rocks assaulted him. As the dust cleared and his leg, although not broken as by some cursed good luck the fall of boulder had pinned his leg next to the rocks he had pushed through, he was left unable to move and his axe, torch and the gold a mere few feet out of reach.
As the lamp flickered and threatened to go out Ash cursed his luck, cursed the world that bore his misery and pleaded with the dark. And the dark answered. A shadow leapt upon the wall from his overturned lamp and whispered in his ear.
“I can free you, for a price. Give you what you so desire but for a favour. Give you power and fame for just the cost of a scribble on a parchment.” The shadow whispered to him.
Sorrow, greed and surprising to even him, Hate, welled inside him. He had suffered and gone without for too long. He nodded his head as the lamp stuttered threatening to go out and a quill was placed in his hand. In the terminal light he could see where he was intended to sign his name and he did with just a moment of hesitation. No one would look upon him now with pity and barely contained contempt any more. He would rule them all.
“good, first things first, let’s free you,” the shadow said as the pressure from the boulder was lifted from his leg, “and second let’s set you right.” and after a moment there was a rumble in the mine. Turning around support beams, light and new safe tunnels had been set up throughout the area he was in. He would be able to mine safely, in peace and in near luxury now.
“And lastly,” the shadow whispered, inhumanly large fingers on unnaturally broad arms gentle clasped his shoulders as the presence whispered in his ear. “I can give you power, but you first must go and help some friends of mine. You can find them in the cemetery. You will know what to do” the shadow said as power and understanding rushed through Ash’s strong and powerful body.
A daughters drive
The act of transmutation was relatively simple. For Henry it was like keeping a balanced ledger – all she had to do was make sure that the matter transforming from the original substance to the new substance would balance out. Turning Rock or mud to gold required a lot of mud. Changing bones to gold, also required a lot of bones as they are nearly worthless so what she could access in the marsh was not going to cut it.
She looked upon the dust covered shelves, despite cleaning them this morning the trudge of miners in and out of her store for pick axes, rope, lantern fuel, rations and the like meant that there was a constant stream of dirt being brought in. But Henry didn’t mind. With a flick of her wrist a incorporeal hand was summoned and the dusting began again. Sighing and looking over her book in front of her she was doing ok, she was making profits daily but she needed something more to really push her to where she wanted to be. It wasn’t that hard to make a profit here as all the older miners knew she was honest and her wares were second to none in this town. But that kind of reputation wasn’t seeing her earn enough to buy back her fathers shop.
Closing the ledger before her and placing it back in the lockbox she opened the door with the same cantrip and a gust of wind took the dust out the door. Being able to handle a few different cantrips at once was Childs-play for Henry but she wanted to make sure that she had the shop ready to go for the next day as tonight she was meeting a merchant at the Tavern.
A giddy energy swelled in Henry as she closed the shop, putting the lockbox away where it wouldn’t be found easily and locking the front door she almost skipped to Jolly Fandangles. Upon entering she saw that the merchant was at the bar eating a plate of what one would hope was rabbit and drinking from what seemed to be a bottomless tankard of ale. Giving a polite smile and greeting to Sally as she walked in she went straight up to the bulky man in a tattered coat.
“Corben, good to see you again. How was the road in?” Henry chirped as she ordered a glass of mulberry wine.
“Good Henry, except for the damn marsh, the flies and the mud. Almost got bogged a few times on the way in.” Corben replied as he chewed on what definitely wasn’t Rabbit.
“Did you bring the book?” Henry asked as she absentmindedly stared at the lustrous red liquid in the glass as she swirled it.
“Yeah, hard to find this one but I take it our ledger is even now?,” Corben said as he reached a bear like paw into his coat and pulled out a paper wrapped book, “the guy I bought it from gave some pretty weird instructions on what I could and couldn’t do with that book. You sure you know what you are getting into Henry?”
“The future Corben, the future.” Henry said as she could practically feel the tendrils of energy resonating within what she knew to be a book bound with the skin of the sacrificed.
It’s just business
It was just another night at the tavern. Ash was neck deep into his third tankard of hard ale, his last based on the amount of gold he had given Sally.
The familiar jingle of the bell strung above the door alerted Sally to a new arrival, turning her head to spot who came in she noticed the tall, broad imposing figures of her fathers men.
“Jess, I’m going to mingle for a bit. Mind the bar” she called out as her assistant Jess came from out back with a platter of rabbit-surprise stew.
“No worries boss” Jess said as she placed one of the two plates of food in front of James and another in front of Ash.
“Ash, that’s your last round until you bring in more gold. Let’s not get too deep into your tab today hey” Sally said more-so to Jess than Ash. Jess had a soft spot for the downtrodden, Sally had a soft spot for gold.
“Matt, Jaeden, what can I do for ye?” Sally said placing a tankard of ale in front of each of the men, one of them definitely had more than a little ogre or something in him.
“Sally, boss says that he has a specialist coming in to help ye. Be ‘ere on dusk tomorrow I reckon’,” said the half-ogre (or something),
“Jae, tell your boss I got it covered. He can shove off with his meddling. Look what happened to those nice dwarf boys. They drank more than the rest of these townsfolk combined and paid fairly for what they got,” Sally half-spat as she swiped a tankard from Jess as she moved on past to serve other patrons, ” I don’t need the help, all is going to be right and set soon, you wait and see.”
“The boss ain’ waiting no more Sal,” Matt spoke this time. Matt was like an uncle to Sally, one of her fathers longest ’employees’ and definitely someone you want to have on side, “Once the hired help comes in, you will know when it’s time to wrap up your affairs and come home.”
As Sally swigged the last of the ale from her tankard a feeling of dread welled up in her gut. She wasn’t done yet, she had more to do, more plans to see through and more gold to get.
“Well lads, Jae, Matt, good to see you both. I guess I better take care of loose ends.” Sally said as she stood up, chewing her bottom hip.
Matts hand shot out like a bolt from a cross bow. “Sal, don’t be thinking what you are. It won’t do you no good. You’ve been down that road before and we both know that its not best for ya’,” Matt said, genuine concern on his face.
“Oh, me. I was thinking of ordering some more Rabbit for the rabbit-surprise stew. You boys should get some before it’s all gone. I promise I won’t do anything I won’t regret”
Sally sauntered off from the table, talking to a few of the patrons as she went back behind the bar. Tapping Ash on the back to let him know his time and gold was up.
She couldn’t go against her father, she couldn’t not go against him. What she needed was a hero, or a few of them, for what ever scheme her father had cooked up this time.
Well that was a bunch of fun to write up. Please do let me know if you prefer the written up story approach to adventure components as I am considering moving more towards them in the future.
With any of the above there could be slight tweaks, or leave them as they are, to have either or both of the plot hooks from Mondays write up (The Marsh of Masks…) come to life. Either turning one, two or all three of the NPCs into key components of the story through the twists we weave can make it feel more alive, give a depth and a greater glimmer of character to the stories we lay before the players to tell.
Well that’s it for this Wednesday, if you like what you have read don’t hesitate and let us know. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Maps (Not going to lie – this is the day I dread the most as it takes the most time (and I work full time and have two kids..) but there is some special about maps, terrain and the like that I just can’t shy away from.
And as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe
I like the story approach