Welcome to fight night where, not really having much more this week than a mild side quest for the party to go and retrieve something for the priestess (a possible replacement in the form of a budding priestess of Chauntea who is believed to be more powerful) this week is a bit light on in content.
But what this week does bring is the ability to look at something that I believe everyone should experience in their d&d adventures, travel and ‘roadside encounters’. These can take place in a few ways, not all of them are bad, some can be quite good… Some that is. So lets have a look at a handful of potential roadside encounters that could be used on the road to the encampment in the merchant state of Amn.
Roadside Riddles, Ruckus and Roast
The party travel of half a day before the smell of roasting meat greets them from amongst a small copse of trees which has a faint tune rustling from within the trunks and branches. Approaching they find a small halfling with six bags placed in neat circle around a large spit which boasts the largest assortment of roasting meat that the party has seen in quite some time. Upon seeing the party the halfling smiles and begins to change his song to talk about how a lone halfling traveller ran into a party of travellers and invited them to come eat with him around his fire.
DC15 nature or survival check would reveal that something was odd about the cuts of meat – these appear to be too small for large game native to this area and too large for the game that would be there. Characters with high perception (passive or DC14) would notice that the bags strewn around the firepit all look to be well travelled and sized for creatures other than the halfling.
If questioned he replies that he is waiting for his travelling companions to return from a nearby town with supplies before they head off again and that the roast was a feast of good luck and bounty before they head off. An insight check (DC12) would reveal he is lying. Beating by 5 points or more the character would notice a hungry look in the halflings eyes as he looks at the party and become concerned for their wellbeing.
The halfling is actually cannibalistic and lures travellers to his grove where he poisons them with the roast meat (DC12 constitution saving throw or fall unconscious) where upon he leaps upon the unconscious people and starts to stab at them. The halfling has the stats of the spy from the monster manual.
The party have travelled for a number of days down the road after a dense and heavy fog suddenly appeared and it wasn’t the first time that the party had realised they were lost. After backtracking, trying a new direction and other methods when they become frustrated a merry chuckle can be heard from near by. A few moments pass before a small floating humanoid appears who reveals with a joyous squeak of a voice that its name is Barnelby and he has trapped the party in a fog for its own amusement. Threats and attempts at violence only cause the fey-creature to laugh more at the parties growing frustration before he offers them a deal. He will set them free if they can answer a riddle or three! answer two out of three riddles correctly means that they are free!
The riddles here should not be too difficult. The idea here is for a fun encounter rather than something that actually harms the players. I believe the middle riddle should be hardest to set the mood for the party. Best out of three it is so one wrong one and the party is fine. IF the party do lose then the fey creature returns again the following day with the same deal. If the party asks the creature a riddle it is over joyed with delight and will attempt its hardest to answer and if it gets one wrong it will laugh until it falls to the ground. If the answer 2 our of three riddles correctly or they ask a riddle it doesn’t understand then before the party realise that the mist has disappeared and they find themselves in front of their destination with nearly no time lost in the mists. The party will occasionally hear the laugher of the fey creature when the surrounding area is super quiet but it does not appear again.
“What lives in the forest but has no skin, no feathers nor brain but many limbs” – A tree/branch.
“I build castles, yet tear down mountains, make some men blind, and other see. What am I?” – Sand.
And in a sing-song voice “I am green as emeralds when placed below the sky. I do not breath any air but I never ask why. If you try and shelter me, I simply shrink and die. The answer to this riddle is simply who am I?” – A plant.
The party have set up camp in a camping grounds not too far from their destination amongst a slew of other caravans, wagons and tents that have a ready supply of guards and mercenaries mingling with music, food and dancing aplenty. During the night and merriment a dwarf storms over from a nearby wagon and sits down angrily next to the party. A moment later two other dwarves come up and an argument breaks out. The first dwarf swears he will never join their band again and that he now swears allegiance to the party!
The party soon realise that the dwarf, Rubael, is extremely clingy, needy and has not felt valued with his previous group of dwarves, his actual brothers. If the party talk to the dwarves brothers Bubael and John… they find out that he is always getting into trouble, he hates authority and frequently has their goods, possessions and sometimes hard earned coin taken by city guards due to the way he acts. They just want their brother to act like a mighty Bronzebeard (their clan name) and stop giving into his angry nature when working amongst humans and the like. They are worried that without their protection that no amount of bribery of gold, goods or possessions will prevent the guards from going easy on the firecracker next time.
The party have to work out what to do – could be an opportunity to have an ally, who may cause more trouble than he is worth, but he is a strong and dependable fighter if the party can see past his jagged razor like edges.
So many things can happen on the road, these are just examples. Looking at the Faerun map every major city is hundreds of miles apart, so days of travel and to break up that slow dredge or low narrative of moving between starting and end point of the adventure with one of these light hearted (or fatal if you don’t see past the cannibalistic halflings ruse) could help make the travelling aspect of D&D more enjoyable for all.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more content, I am preparing for a Warhammer game on Sunday (in person.. I know!) to help a friend and local community member prepare for a tournament so I will try and post that battle report style writeup on Sunday. Tomorrow I hope to have some more content for you but until then, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe