Welcome to another Tuesday where I want to explore the events that occur a few days after the party clash with the Laelóng. Now with the beast gone one can expect I’d expect some bigger changes in the village and the Kunagi ranges. However these changes doesn’t always bode well for those who inhabit these cold lands and time is up for some, and payment is due.
But this gives me an opportunity to employ one of the concepts I use in almost all my adventures, NPC permanency. Now, the concept at its core is the understanding that the villain, guard or innkeeper aren’t just sitting around. No for us, the masters of plot and the story, we recognise that nothing should wait for the Party to find them.
This is what I mean by NPC permanency. When the party isn’t in the village, the innkeeper still serves customers at his Inn, and the Villain still moves their pawns to collect payment – the world continues with or without he party being involved. This can drive plot, aid in immersion and enrich the story for all but if incorrectly managed then it can lead to a pretty underwhelming dungeon where the bag guy isn’t there.
So let’s explore NPC permanency when we look back at the village, currently with no name, where Hugh is locking up for the night…
Change of ownership
Hugh pushed the last of the chairs in under the table and sighed when the chair leg caught on some dried mud. Hugh knelt down with a sigh as he fished out a small knife to try and dislodge some of the caked on dirt to make the cleaning of it easier. Calling it quits he stood up to go get a glass of wine and a broom, it had been a quiet day but the visits from the creatures had lessened since the wagon and adventurers had passed through. As he moved about the kitchen he passed by a bottle of wine that he had nearly forgotten about, nearly except for the price it had cost him.
Reaching for the amber coloured glass he used the same knife to uncork the bottle as he did to scrape the dirt off, after a cursory clean on his shirt of course. Pouring himself a bottle of the rich red liquid he stuffed the cork into the bottle to try and savour the wine and sipped from the permanently chilled liquid.
A small bell chimed signalling that the front door had opened. Looking from the kitchen through where the meals were kept he couldn’t see anyone standing in the door immediately so he placed his glass of wine down on the bench and sheathed his knife on his belt. Moving through the kitchen he called out with only the silence to reply to him. Moving to the front door and checking outside the front door he scratched his stubble as he closed the door behind him. “Must have been the spirits tripping the bell.” he said to himself as he locked the door closed as he decided that he should head to bed as the sun was nearly set.
“The spirits don’t care for trickery these days,” a chilling voice said behind him ,”they serve a new purpose now. My purpose”.
Hugh knew who, or what, was behind him saying the gold words before even turning around and as he did he sank to one knee and bowed. “Queen Yukri, I did not expect you” he stuttered, his nerves and survival instincts kicking in with a heartbeat.
“Nor did I expect you to aid my enemies.” she smirked as she floated to stand in front of the man. “I must have misjudged you for a coward but you appear to have fight within you, enough to stand against the blizzard with but a candle.” she snapped, her calm demeanour changing for a moment making the glass on the windows frost over.
“I don’t care that they killed the Laelóng, the creature was arrogant to say the least” Yukri began as she walked into the dining room and moved a chair out from a table and sat down, winning her body to stop floating.
“A Laelóng!” Hugh had heard of these creatures from the woman he followed to Ryokughan, they were cousins of the ancestral dragons that fell from the good graces of the family. He couldn’t believe that those adventurers had bested a creature that was related to the most revered creatures of this land. Gulping he moved into the dining room anxious for the frost maiden to leave his inn. “May I ask what I can help you with?” he stuttered.
“Payment. Payment is due Hugh. I let you and this village keep your lives if you ensured that my army moved through unimpeded and yet I have an army that report that they can’t cross the valley and that the one thing that was keeping the rebellious spirits under control is dead. I heard that you had the opportunity to contain and capture these would be heroes but you let them go.”
Hugh was shaking by this stage, he turned to run but bounced into a mountain of flesh – a man that stood as tall as his doorway. Faster than his eyes could catch cold, frost bitten skin grasped around his neck and pushed him against the wall. “You cant run from a contract Hugh. You bartered for your safety and for peace and yet here we are. A war that you have chosen sides in your inaction and now I will take what I am owed.” Yukri whispered in his ear as she floated just in front of his face.
As the cold lips of the Yuki-onna pressed against his a deep unsettling cold spread through his core. His skin cracked as the excruciating pain began as his life was sucked from his body by the frost maiden. He dropped to the ground like a sack of salted meat and one of his ribs snapped. The shock of a broken bone was nothing to the fatigue and exhaustion that washed over him – but he was alive.
“Thanks for the meal innkeeper. Keep the door unlocked for when I decide to visit again.” Yukri said as the door unlocked and she floated through, the hulking undead man following just behind her. Hugh lay there and shivered, shock and cold radiating through his body. Getting up he slowly crawled towards the desk where he kept a mirror, but everything looked so blurry as if looking through a frosted window. Finding the polished plate he gasped as he saw a shock of white hair had replaced his blonde locks. His eyes had turned older and milky and his face was a maze of wrinkles and rough skin.
Holding his hands in his hair he sobbed.
By having little side stories like this for our notes our game management and storytelling benefits greatly. The impact of this may not be wildly known or felt and the party may never find out about Hugh. But as DMs it does give a feeling of what’s going on outside of the little bubble where the party moves and helps drive the story and plot for us.
Thanks for dropping in to read tonights blog and for joining me on this adventure. Don’t forget to come back for the rest of the week as we wrap up the months content and look to move onto one of the last of 4 monthly updates before we wrap up the year. So don’t forget to look for ways that your story can progress outside of your parties influence and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe