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…
In the Beginning…
Six brave adventurers set off from Dunwitch to investigate the plague that has been spreading throughout Rookroost. The party consisted of two clerics, representing the gods; a half-orc warrior (Faford), a halfing thief (the Grey Mouser), and a wizard.
The party decided to investigate the plague in Rookroost to begin their career as adventurers. Passing into town, they discovered that Tom o' the Seven Sevens has some sort of reputation among the gate guards – after mentioning his name the gate guards asked for various fees. Mentioning the sage’s tower got them into the city without paying for anything more than directions.
After passing through two more gates without incident, the guards escorted the party to the sage’s tower, which seemed abandoned. The outer gates were open – perhaps once functional, but now decorative. The tower itself consists of a squarish lower building within the outer walls and a small tower, perhaps 50' high, with four windows and a collection of metal instruments at the top, possibly magical or astrological in nature.
Food deliveries from The Flaming Iron Skillet (a classy restaurant in the district) were piling up and rotting at the entrance. After being cautioned by the guards about being discreet in obtaining entry into the tower, the party decided to wait for the dark of night. Before leaving, they listened for noises (something like a bat, and something wounded) and checked for smells (a faint scent of rot and death, aside from the stronger smell of rotting food).
Making arrangements with the guards to stay in the barracks overnight, the party waited till dark (noting in the meantime that the guards had had members fall to the plague as well, and had not been entirely thorough about removing the potentially contaminated effects) and returned to the tower.
There they investigated the grounds, searching for secret doors and finding none. The main door was locked; the thief attempted to pick the lock and believes he succeeded, but the door failed to open. Trying to force the door by main strength also failed. It appeared to be magically locked, or at least barred by some mechanism not visible to the party.
The thief climbed to the top of the tower and let down a rope for the party to follow. At the top of the tower, there was a trap door leading to a staircase going downwards. A body dressed as a thief (90sp, thieves tools, dagger and short sword) was on the staircase. The wounds on the body indicated a shattered knee, but those wounds did not appear to be the cause of death. Thirst? Poison? Paralysis? Hints suggesting a trap were found in the wall next to the corpse. The party continued down the stairs, thumping each step with a staff, as well as searching for other traps and ruining any chance at surprise.
At the bottom of the staircase, the party found a door.
The game session ended here.
A meeting was called at the stone circle in Dunwitch, and the recent companions Fafhrd, Gray Mouser and Michael were, for once, glad they attended. They heard about something they had been looking for, a way to make money and get some better opportunities. Michael was hoping to find a crisis to meet with his companions, while Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were hoping to find gold coin and adventure. One opportunity mentioned, sounded like something they could handle without too much risk. A wandering old sage had gone missing among some sick folk and they were too scared to look for him, the poor scared and soft city folk. The party wasn’t scared and would be happy to go have a look, figure it out for them, and collect some sweet coin. They didn’t prepare much, carrying all of what they owned, and so they immediately set out for the city of Rookroost.
Rookroost was not what they remembered from their few and infrequent visits. Inside, the first gate was filled with the sick. The smell attested to much more than could be seen. Although much less, there were even signs of sickness in the inner most part of the city. The companions, along with 3 other volunteers, took an initial look at the wandering sage's tower–looks rich. They then bedded down in a nearby barracks. Mouser talked everyone into some nice new guard cloaks and some food too. That night while others slept, they crept out to investigate the town, wanting to remain discreet so as not to alarm the already scared rich and noble folk.
Mouser unlocked the tower, but still the door wouldn't budge, not even for Fafhrd. The tower was an easy climb though. Soon, all were atop and descending the interior stairs. A dead thief was found, generously donating his last belongings to his fellow thieves and their companions. Traps were found, but no one was injured. At the bottom of the stairs, a door was found, presumably to the locked room at the bottom of the tower. Various signs and omens made us twitchy and we all limbered our weapons in their harnesses and prepared to pass into the unknown.