Well a weekend write up is due and oh boy do I have a big day ahead of me. I enjoyed writing up the encounters and could see the logical flow and, more importantly, the valid reasons for all of them to be around the town of Newtbranch.
So I have tried to write up this week in the same approach as the week prior – it’s not quite as story driven as the other days buy by using all the days of the week to expand the narrative of the day
The town of Newtbranch is built amongst the branches of massive marsh trees. The entrance of the cities is an engineering gem, designed by the first caretakers of the Town. The Elves who could sing to the trees to mould them to a shape more fitting or suitable. Many of the oldest buildings in the town are elven in design being built within the living trees to grow and change as nature does. The Gnomes who tinkered and brought artifice to the Town designed the large winch that lifts a platform into the trees as a way of creating a secure method of entering the town. The dwarves built under the roots of the trees and with the help of the elves they reinforced the roots of the trees. Bringing in rock and soil from the mines that litter the marsh they were able to ensure that the roots of the trees could run deem and secure and guarantee the tree town was secure.
The marsh that the town is located in is riddled with history. A civilisation that disappeared long ago has left its traces. Sunken temples litter the marsh, tempting would-be treasure seekers into their dank, wet walls – many of whom do not return.
The other thing that the marsh holds is gold and precious materials. Mines have been sunk all through the marsh, the land itself is either owned by families who have been around or the rich who have come to Newtbranch at the promises of riches, or an escape from a complex life in the large cities.
As of late however the quiet town of Newtbranch has been seeing masked figures skittering across the rope-bridges or sneaking under window sills. As soon as the alarm is called, whether silently or loudly no trace of these masked figures can be found.
The party has received a non-marked call for aid. The letter is as follows. On the back of the scroll is a map and the advice on how to enter the town (where to call out to enter the town)
The entrance to the town
As the party approaches the town, known only by the location marked at the end of a road on a map. They call out to the guardsmen hidden in the branches “We seek entrance into the town of Newtbranch”. A few moments later they hear a rustling in the branches above them and a large platform, 20 ft long by 10 feet wide descends slowly from the branches.
The keen-sensed party members (DC13) would notice rustling in the bushes nearby. If they are successful in noticing the rustling they avoid being surprised as 5 goblins rush forward and try to storm the platform. If the party gets in the way they attack with a savagery that is strange to anyone who knows the nature of goblins. On the second round of combat a Were-bat will leap on the closest party member and will fight to the death.
After the fight the party are welcomed into the village where they meet ‘Squeak’ a halfling boy of 9 years of age. Squeak offers the party to show them around the town and explain some things that are overlooked by newcomers, but he requests a gold coin. If they do take up his offer then he would take them around the town and would note where the party could stay – mentioning facts or rumours about the townsfolk and showing them where to keep their animals (which they would have passed if they entered the town), showing them Henry’s Emporium – noting that he thinks Henrietta is a witch because he has seen her casting spells and a ghostly hand moving stuff around in the shop. He also mentions that the best miners only buy from Henrietta – she has the best stuff.
He also points out the home tree – a great tree that has a winding staircase that looks like homes that look like they were built in the tree, noting that a few homes are vacant due to people mining late into the afternoon/night. He then finishes up in front of Jolly Fandangles. He mentions that Sal, the owner also owns most if not all of the land below the trees and that they sell miners permits to mine their land, most people can’t afford the permits so Sal takes a share of what they mine from the land.
If the party paid Squeak more than the asked price (1gp) then he would also thank them profusely and offer the advice, don’t get on the wrong side of Sal – rumour has it she is backed by some very powerful people from the outside. Those who go against Sal have bad luck or simply disappear – but she isn’t a bad person – she just owns the town.
Squeak then turns to run off as a dirt covered man stumbles in and bumps into the party, mumbling an apology (that doesn’t make it to his eyes) he stumbles into the Jolly Fandangles. ‘That’s Ash,’ Squeak says, ‘looks like he had another bad day in the mine, well, a bad few years. He really needs to give up and go home.’
The Jolly Fandangle
The Jolly fandangle is a largish tavern that has a large tree trunk that the tavern is supported by and built around going through the middle of the tavern. The tavern is warm, despite there being no obvious fire or hearth and there is a band playing a merry jig in the corner. An amazingly beautiful young woman commands the bar, and she gives off a presence of authority but not in a cold way.
There are a handful of meals available to purchase. A “Rabbit Surprise stew”, Roasted vegetable bowl and “Miners Platter” which is an assortment of cold cured meat, bread, cheese and berries.
The woman is Sally, the owner of Jolly Fandangles, she has an assistant, Jess, that spends a lot of time in the back of the kitchen but she seems to be an energetic young woman who watches everything Sally does in the way of a student watching a teacher.
If asked Sally explains that some of the villagers have seen strange figures are night that appear to have white masks, or skulls like the undead, but they have not been seen in the city.
She also explains that there have been sightings of dark figures in the marsh – but can’t give out a name for who has seen them, only that they have been seen.
The party find themselves seated at a table next to a man dressed in layers of black cloth, he talkative, asking about the party and their business here, the party is cut off in their answer by Sally who places food in front of them loudly and offers them a round of beers on the house.
If the party goes exploring the marsh they will find a set of tracks heading towards a worked stone outcrop.
Those who are good with stonework (Dwarves for example) would be able to identify ancient stone carvings, almost like legs of a dying insect jutting from the solid ground (after walking through a bog for the past hour or so), the work is incredible yet aged but the crafters race is unable to be deduced.
Following the footprints they find Esmereld who had fallen into the ruins of a sunken temple through a 3ft hole in the roof where the stone had given way when she walked on top of it. She says she was searching for her friend – Ash, who had left the Tavern late at night but had not been seen since.
In the temple any movement near the walls will trigger the guardians to attack silently – triggering another surprise encounter.
The room is 40ft long by 20ft wide, the only light is from the hole in the roof which grants bright light 10ft under the hole, then dim light for a further 5ft, after that it’s darkness.
The animated armor will not pursue the party out of the temple as they just want to keep invaders out.
Upon returning, if Esmereld survives, she will offer them to stay at her place free of charge.
Back the the Treetop Town
By the time they get back it is dark. No goblins attack this time. That night if the party stays with Esmereld they are woken up by Ash knocking on the door – he comes in hurriedly saying that on his way back into the Town he saw masked figures climbing the tree trunks near Henry’s shop.
If the party went to investigate they would notice 7 hulking figures jumping from a tree trunk. Two have long feathered bows (longbows), 5 have wicked looking swords and axes (Long sword or battleaxe).
If they stay in the Tavern one (Dm Picks) of the party is woken by the sound of a bottle rolling along the walkway outside the room they were staying in. If they investigate they see a brief glimpse of a white mask (looks like a skull of some large animal) and muddied skin.
If the party went to investigate they would notice 5 hulking figures moving silently along the ramps and rope bridges in the town. Two have long feathered bows (longbows), 3 have wicked looking swords and axes (Long sword or battleaxe).
After the battle the party finds one of the orks, an archer still alive – as it dies it curses the party for aligning with the dark one that stalks the land and hopes that the party’s dark master will use their corpses in his army of the dead. (if the party can question it further – see Speak with dead)
One of the guardsmen then comes forward to discard the bodies, saying he doesn’t want to leave the bodies around to scare or cause panic in the townsfolk. **A perception check, passive perception 15 or DC13) would note that the guardsman has his uniform over a few layers of dark cloth, and the first foot of cloth, under his guards boots are covered in mud.**
The party returns back to where they were staying and starts drifting off to sleep. An hour into their rest they are woken up to the town’s alarm bell ringing.
As they rush out to find out what’s going on they are led to a few weight balanced ropes and platforms of wood they were advised that several of the guard were already fighting off a large zombie horde, and rumors’ of a dark wizard hidden in the mists were coming through from the guardsmen that made it back to the town – but they were missing a unit of men and women who went into the strange mists.
As they descend to the base of the tree they find themselves surrounded by the dead, zombies were in states of breaking apart, their magic spent, and several more were walking at the base of the trees – pulling and clawing at the wood, as if trying to bring the town down from the roots. Given enough time and not opposition they would be successful.
After fighting the 8 zombies at the base of the trees they notice that another 4 number of zombies (the dead orcs that they killed before – all of them are still wearing the white skull-masks) approaching them from behind the wall of mist, which parts momentarily thanks to Henrietta casting a spell (gust) to reveal a figure in the mists.
The party has about a minute to do whatever they want before the zombies are revealed as all the zombies are revealed, Henrietta appears and casts a gust spell – the mists briefly parts revealing the black cloaked stranger raising another zombie from the body of a guarsemen.
The necromancer keeps the zombie guardsman in front of him at all times, using him as a human shield (reaction to pull the body in the way) the other orc zombies will attack the party.
After the battle the necromancer will have a letter – saying to attack the town but to leave Sally alive.
Concluding the adventure
If the party confront Sally (by herself) and don’t show the note to anyone else she will reveal that her father runs a cartel and is trying to bring her away from the town so he can have free access to the mine. She is sick of being a part of the family and wants out.
If they do reveal it to others they dismiss it as a blackmail attempt upon Sal – and Sally won’t open up.
Sal will also reveal that she wrote the letter to the party – and that she had written several – they were the only heroes to arrive to save the town that she had come to care about. She will give them a bag of gold that would be worth 2000gp if sold to the right people. She also would provide the party with a map showing the known locations of the sunken temples in the area (plot hook for a future adventure) as a way of saying thanks.
Thanks for joining me today to look at the conclusion to this weeks adventure. I hope you enjoyed the different formatting this week (I think its a lot cleaner and perhaps a bit easier to follow..) and I also hope you liked the narrative approach I used for some of these writeups. I think I will keep doing this in the future so that these micro stories could inspire you, my awesome readers, to write your own stories or better yet, have a go at dungeon mastering your very own TTRPG session,
Don’t forget to to tune in for next week, where I reveal my method to the madness of writing multiple hooks, NPCS, encounters ETC, and hopefully it works! As I mentioned very early on I am experimenting with writing down and noting down what normally takes me a few hours (to completion, a few minutes to conception) and I hope it pays off.
Oh, and don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe