The characters began in Avonhill. They were at an inn when a dwarven merchant attempted to hire them to recover his stolen goods. His wagons were waylaid by goblins in the mountain pass between Avonhill and Astoria when he escaped. His hirelings were killed or captured, and his goods were taken. He wanted his goods returned, especially a locked, ivory scroll case. The PCs volunteered to travel to the pass to recover the goods and rescue the hirelings.
Experience: Each PC earned 50 XP.
Avonhill is a small town with wooden walls protecting three sides and the fourth side facing the Avonmere River. It has a couple of inns, some shops, a smithy, garrison, watch tower, and Lord Murray’s manor. The remains of a ruined foundry are a reminder of a time when Avonhill smelted ore from mines, when it was under Astorian rule. There is a permanent militia presence that patrols the countryside, as well as 50 Redcloaks who use the tower as their base. A few miles downstream is River Hollow, a community of halflings who primarily fish, farm, and ply trade down the river in barges.
Lord Murray, the liege lord, is a strict ruler who places the defense of the region as his priority. The region is home to farms that take advantage of the Avonmere’s fertile valley, woodsmen and trappers who live on the outskirts of the Deepwood Forest—called Farodh na Holig in Brellish—and fishermen.
Historically, Avonhill was a center of the resistance to Astoria during its decades-long occupation of Rallas until 15 years ago. It has always had a fierce streak of independence, even for Rallasians, and was punished for its defiance. The Astorians built a wall around Avonhill to protect its garrison there but eventually moved to Corbald because of the constant raids from the Deepwood and the Ridgeback Mountains. Lord Murray was the last resistance leader and was granted rulership of Avonhill by Baron Armin Strath following Astoria’s withdrawal.
The PCs begin at the primary inn, the Boar’s Haunch, which serves the best food in town. The inn specializes in pork and serves a decent but stout porter and ale. The owner, Dagin, is an older, barrel-chested man with a burgeoning belly, mutton chops, and a healthy sense of humor. His young daughter, Mara, is an enthusiastic beauty who keeps the inn spotless and has a soft spot for animals. Mara is attractive, with dark, curly hair and dimples. Dagin keeps a cleaver under the bar that he will handle in open view when anyone gets too acclimated with his daughter. The inn is usually bustling with an assortment of locals, off duty watchmen and Redcloaks, traveling merchants, and mercenaries. Dagin keeps several cooks and has hired two more women—the raven haired, sly Reeva, who wants to be a traveling performer, and the slightly plump, but beamingly smiling Girda who gets excited about everything.
Amongst the usual crowd are also a couple of unusual patrons, such as the hulking brute in the bronze breastplate with a bone-handled greatsword slung over a beefy shoulder, his face scarred by 3 claw marks, or the hooded man cloaked in black feeding a hawk.
The Players described their characters and roleplayed their activities in the inn. Grimbull played cards with some mercenaries while Savina and Talon drank at the bar. Dane sat at a table by himself and tried not to attract attention, as did Ki. Nicholai sat at the bar and was sized up by Talon to see how wealthy he looked.
A balding dwarf with a braided, graying beard, curled mustache, and a wide mouth and nose pushed his way to the bar. He wore an assortment of gold and silver rings and is dressed in fine, burgundy doublet, stout boots, and a beige cloak with burgundy embroidery. An ornate short sword that looked more for show than function hangs sheathed from a silver-studded belt. He looked around at the noisy cacophony and then reached into a concealed money pouch and slammed several gold coins and three brightly colored blue gems on the bar. Most of the common room gradually grew silent as he looked expectantly upon the room’s occupants.
“There! Now I can hear myself think,” he exclaimed, keeping an arm guardedly over his small treasure while beckoning across the room with his right. “I offer a reward, 50 gold each (his face soured a little as he said this) who can reclaim my goods lost to goblins outside of town!’ ‘Oh, and rescue my hirelings, too, of course!’ The room was quiet. Toral, an older trapper of wide girth, snow white hair and beard, and beady green eyes, yelled, “Where outside o’ town are we talkin’?” “A day’s walk, closer than six or seven leagues, I swear upon my beard, in Taloncross Path!” Several people groaned in the room, and one-by-one, people turned their attention back to their drinks, meals, and companions, predominantly in that order. After waiting expectantly, the dwarf sighed and began picking up the coins and gems.
At this point, Dane expressed his interest, as did Savina and Talon, Nicholai and Ki were not far behind. Savina talked the dwarf, Meledor Goldchase, into adding two more of those pretty blue stones for her if she helped.
Meledor explained that he had two carts of goods drawn by donkeys, along with a driver and two guards. He thinks one of the guards was killed. The carts had assorted goods, including fabrics (linen and cloth), fruit, wheat, leather, copper ingots, and a bit of wine (“I know, what kind o’ dwarf carries wine? I’ll tell ya what kind, one with the sense to leave taste to the customer an’ gold in his pocket!”)
“My caravan was attacked by a dozen goblins but we cut most o’ them down" (he is exaggerating the losses). “At least one mercenary was killed, and I must o’ been knocked out because I didn’t see anything after that” (he fled). "Most importantly, I need a scroll case…made o’ ivory. You’ll know it when you see it. Bring that back and I’ll add a bonus!”
Meledor’s gnome companion, Pug (“no, my name is Pelivorian Greenwhisper!”), wanted to accompany the PCs on their ‘field expedition’ but Meledor said he was too important to risk and needed him here. Pug was about 3 feet tall, with platinum colored hair and sideburns, blue eyes, tanned skin, and scholarly robes. At that point, Pug fetched Grimbull who announced he was going with the other PCs, and Greenwhisper would be going with them. Meledor insisted Pug remain behind. When Grimbull asked Meledor if he had “the map,” Meledor stalled before admitting it was taken by the goblins. Grimbull ranted that he would get the map back for Meledor and reminded Meledor how valuable it was.
First Day of Travel
The PCs planned to leave at sunrise and turned in early for sleep, aside from Talon and Savina. Talon played cards and won some money, and Savina drank 8-9 mugs of ale and fell into a drunken stupor.
Dane funded breakfast in the morning for the party, and they got to know a little about each other. Talon and Savina joined late, with Savina nursing a fierce headache. Talon bought her an ale, and Dane kindly bought her a shot of spirits. Dane also learned from seeing Savina’s holy symbol, a wooden pin with a crashing wave, that she was a devotee to Tal’afar, the Imperial goddess of the sea.
Grimbull, with Talon’s haggling expertise, obtained two donkeys, and the party left for Talondeep Pass. The day was overcast with light rains and mist. The first 10 miles were along a hard dirt road through fertile grassland, with the Avonmere (Broadbank) flowing languidly along, and many farms and settlements. From there, the mountains loomed ahead, the settlements became more rare, and the road started to ascend into the mountains. This counted as difficult terrain for the purposes of overland movement.
The PCs made camp that first night after traveling 17 miles. They set their watches, and after midnight, Ki heard a noise away from the camp. He woke Grimbull, whose rantings awakened the rest of the party.
The group was attacked by two worgs, each ridden by a goblin. Dane immediately headed the first one off, scoring a hit with his longsword and avoiding damage with his chainmail and shield. Grimbull charged in and almost beheaded the worg with one swing. Ki took the fleeing worg down with magic missiles.
The second worg took Talon down but Savina held her ground and healed Talon to bring him back into the fight. Nicholai took the goblin out with magic missiles, and the group took the second worg down as it attempted to run away.