Ahh Thursday is here and as predicted I had little time to fully draw a map. But I had time to sketch what I thought part of the town of Newtbranch would look like. This is enough, in my view, for a DM/GM to orientate themselves and use that to describe what the players see, to give enough detail to temp players to explore and explore and look at the town through their theatre of the mind.
So exploring more on that story telling aspect let’s give that a shot whilst looking through the eyes of a NPC Corben, the merchant that occasions visits the town, and his run in with Alza.
Corben entered the outskirts of Newtbranch just before dusk, the cold autumn light causing the fallen leaves to glow like embers at the base of the ancient swamp trees.
Nodding to the men and women he knew were hidden in the leaf covered branches mid way up one of these massive evergreen trees it took a few tense moments before he heard the telltale crank of a massive dwarven leaver hidden out of sight.
Corben being a regular merchant to Newtbranch tied his single ox light cart to a nearby stump, worn with the use of rope over many years, and unsheathed his scimitar and a small buckler was taken from the tack and harness from his beast of burden.
A few minutes passed and a large platform was lowered to past the treeline. It was large enough for a few carts and the beasts that pulled them but only a fool would assume it safe to bring that much cargo on these roads with that amount of livestock carrying it into this Marsh.
As the platform touched the loamy ground a few fitful shrieks rang forth as mud and leaf covered goblins rushed towards their ticket into the hidden tree town.
Corben, without hesitation, strode forward to meet the handful of goblins and separated one unwary curr from its body as it rushed past the large man. Several other goblins rushed past him but were met by the flashing blades of eleven Guardsman that were defending the platform as Corben’s ox, Rugfurt, was coaxed onto the platform. Corben, noting the dead Goblins and one or two who fled back into the shrub, turned and walked back towards the platform. He was an old hand at this. The Goblins never make it to the platform. As he took a third step towards the hardwood and rope bound lift he noticed a sudden shift in the guards, turning and raising a shield he caught the bite or a large goblinoid creature as the launched itself through the air, gliding on leathery membranes towards him.
Pushed onto his back he felt the mud and ooze instantly penetrate his cloak and fur vest. Pushing back with his strength he realised he was quickly losing the contest of might as a blast of inky smoke struck the beast in the side. A high pitched yelping burst forth from the beast as it whirled towards its attacker, bristly fur located along the.. ridge?.. of its arm standing on end as it launched itself skyward beating small green tinged leathering wings gaining vertical feet with every heartbeat. The sane inky smoke struck it again, this time the tails of smoke wove back to the ground as the magical force wrapped and engulfed the goblinoid-thing and pulled it into the muck. The cracking of bone and wheezing of air could be heard from where Corben lay as the mass seemed to heave and shudder as it shrank. As it shrank the tendrils of dark energy slithered into the mud revealing a goblin with leathery membranes receding into its arms and the remnants of fur and hair falling off over its body revealing green skin.
“A were-bat if I am not misstaken” a voice akin to a snake stated next to him, a hand outstretched belonging to a man in a long dark coat, “Alza, pleased to meet you. Buy me an ale and we will call the bat even” the tall slender man said as he helped Corben up.
“got yerself a deal. Thanks for the assist” Corben replied, checking himself quickly for any bites or scratches that would need investigation.
After giving himself a quick once over himself, his cart and the newcomer, Alza, jumped onto the platform and it was slowly winched through the tree canopy and into Newtbranch.
The platform was gradually winched adjacent to the trunk of the tree where little blue tree newts, the town’s namesake, chased flies and midges across the bark. As the platform came to rest Corben took in the sight of tree trunks cut short to form anchor points for walkways that weaved from tree to tree where buildings were built into the tree or surrounding the living behemoths of the forest.
As his Ox was taken into a hollow in the tree which managed as stables for the very limited amount of large livestock that was allowed in the town Corben led his cart and a few willing townsfolk up a gradual sloping ramp that would take him and his wares to the town hub.
Taking a moment to admire the Autumn colours among the trees he looked across the town in true. To the left against two trees that were wider than he was tall was two houses. People were walking along the rope bridges between the trunk he was standing on and the two houses that were at the end. Across and ahead of him was his destination, Henry’s emporium, where he was to deliver some wares. The building was propped up by several branches that had grown outwards from the wooden beams that formed a platform for the general store. The tree continued up through the natural roof of the building and he could see Henry absent mindedly cleaning dirt and grime from the shop. Opposite it was the Jolly Fandangle. The largest and newest building in the town. This building was a masterwork. Rumour was that Sally had bought wizards and Dwarven and Elven builders in to ensure the Tavern would last for many generations and would be able to support and maintain the towns people within.
At the other end of the rope bridges and walkways was the largest tree in this part of the forest. A large set of stairs wrapped around this tree and houses are built onto the branches all the way up the tree. Some rope lifts were bringing down men and women of the town, most of whom were moving towards the tavern to celebrate, or commiserate a long day in the mines.
Smiling as his cart was taken to Henry’s Emporium he clasped Alza on the shoulder.
“How bout’ that Ale?” Corben asked as he started leading the tall man across a rope bridge
“Yess, what can you tell me about this town..?” Alza said.
“Well.. the people aren’t where the riches are. That lies beneath. The town…” Corben started, opening the door to Jolly Fandangles; he didn’t see the blood chilling grin that the newcomer had on his face as he walked towards a booth, casting glances at Sally from behind the collar of his coat.
Well that’s it for the night. Do come back for some stat blocks for what we know of already and some in others that we should keep in mind just in case the party explore the marshes and get lost.
Thanks for those who have been reading for the past 9 weeks and to those joining recently I have many more adventures to come so keep coming back if you like what I’m putting out there.
If you like anything you see feel free to use it but do let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear stories from my readers!
And as always don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe