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After a routine trip to Rookroost, Tom o' the Seven Sevens puts out the word to all residents of Dunwitch. Trouble is afoot, he says. The realm needs those of strong arm, quick mind, dextrous fingers. More than that, the realm needs men of good heart and a thirst for adventure.
("What about ale?" "Aye, that too, but adventure first!")
All men and women nearing adulthood but not yet settled in their lives, or yearning for something more, and especially anyone who is feeling the call of destiny or who has ever been the subject of a prophecy, are requested to gather in the tavern for an announcement that will have a profound impact on their lives, the lives of all their friends, and even the lives of their livestock and pets.
As the appointed hour approaches, a large half-orc thumps the head of his axe on the bar several times for attention. You think it's probably Grog, but from a distance, it could be Juliet. "Hear ye! Hear ye!", he roars, his speech understandable despite the large tusks protruding from his jaw.
Per-su-ant to um... Ex-ec-u-tive Order of our Overlord "The General" Perneti, and item number... um, I can't count that high on the Misunderstood and Benevolent Overlord List, all potential heros, protagonists, plucky kids who might make good, and their cute puppies or other animal companions are hereby offered the following distr-err, important quests-to improve the realm.
He looks up from the paper he is reading for a moment, hands it to one of the other guards, and there is a brief discussion. A more human-looking, less-tusky guard takes over the reading.
First, there are reports of a plague among the downtrodden, oppress--err, hard-working lower classes within the poorer districts of Rookroost. As we value their labor and wish it to continue, adventurers may seek a treatment or cure for this plague. As many of you country folk have no means to enforce a quarantine, it is in your own best interests to seek a cure as soon as possible. The General had previously hired a sage to investigate the plague and seek to create a cure, but has not heard from that individual in some time. The sage has a small tower within the walls of Rookroost, and that tower is the logical starting point for investigations into the plague. I can provide more details for anyone interested. (The sage's tower in Rookroost is 1 day's travel away)
Second, there have been persistent reports of unexplained lights, sounds, and mysterious disturbances at a manor house within a nearby swamp. In the benevolent wisdom of The General, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Also, "Dunmarsh" is a good name for a small town. So, find the source of the lights, sounds, disturbances, and so on and so forth, and be done with them. The future town of Dunmarsh is a few days travel on the other side of the city. Anyone wishing to pursue this quest will need to pass through the city walls, so we encourage them to investigate the sage's tower on their way. (3-4 days of travel)
Third, The General wishes to continue expanding the walls of Rookroost. In order to do so, he requires stone from a nearby quarry called Darkshelf. Disturbing rumors have reached the ears of The General, questioning whether the overseer of those mines is actually loyal. These rumors must be investigated. If proven true, it may be necessary to replace the overseer. (1 week travel)
Fourth, the famed wizard Herzog Akitrom the Merely Worried has invited adventurers and other assorted do-gooders to settle the lands near his soon-to-be-famous castle and help him clear out some pesky lower levels of his dungeons. The rumors accompanying this invitation are especially bizarre and, as this castle is located not far outside the borders of Rookroost, The General would appreciate anyone willing to volunteer their aid (and send back regular reports on what the hell is actually going on). (1-2 weeks travel)
Finally, there is an unclaimed ruined keep some distance away. It is within the borders of our realm -- barely. It is rumored to possess both creatures and treasure in amounts exceeding even the usual consequences of an economy based on coin shaving and inflation. Volunteers are welcome to clear the monsters from this keep at a substantial discount on the adventurer's tax (if they survive). The General wishes this keep restored and occupied to protect the borders of his realm, and you can be an important part of that! In fact, you can get in on the ground floor... literally, as there are no other floors intact. (1 week travel)
As all of you here have responded to an advertisement for adventure, glory, treasure, rescuing cats from trees, or opportunities for do-gooding, we are happy to accept your desire to improve our realm for the betterment of everyone, especially "The General". We remind you all that happiness is mandatory.
Ah, yes, there at the back. The new group of volunteers! Everyone please welcome them with a round of applause!
Please, each of you stand up and introduce yourselves.
Since you are new at this, you may wish to make an arrangement with Adventure Capitalists Incorporated. They have a brochure at the bar. If you don't I won't be responsible for the consequences! Not that I would be anyway, of course.
As Tom winds up his prepared speech, Grog the half-orc tugs aggressively on his sleeve, almost knocking the guard down. "Tom! Tom!" the half-orc whispers urgently, "I gots de splotches! I think I gots the plague!"
"Quiet, fool!" Tom shouts, but it's too late, and the tavern is suddenly full of aggressive whispers.
In the confusion, a small group of 6 friends quietly leave the gathering...