Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Session 1: Dernwald's Demise

A priest, an elf, and a dwarf walk into a bar...

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but thus began the latest Faedun Campaign. Theon, human cleric of Lir; Bvar, an itinerant hearth-lost dwarf warrior, and Jin, a Sylvani mage, strangers to each other, accompanied a caravan north into Callovia's Madrasan Marches - each to seek his fortune or find his doom.

The caravan arrived at the gated palisade of the Flaming Faggot roadhouse, the northernmost extent of the empire on the edge of the Caemric frontier, and no sooner were the gates opened than an orc warband, waiting in ambush, charged into the roadhouse's compound. As the caravan guards spread out to meet the orc's charge, the three strangers attacked with axe, mace, and bolts of arcane energy. The orc attack faltered when many in the vanguard were slain, and the main body of the raiders fled to the safety of the nearby woods.

The three travellers, who had instinctively backed each other up in the fight, decided to band together to find their fortunes in the bandit-infested, spirit-haunted ruins of Llanvirnesse. As reward for helping to fight off the orc raiders, Conal Redjac, the hugely muscled, shaven-headed proprieter of the Flaming Faggot, and agent of the Duke of Madras, helped to launch the trio's adventuring careers by offering them first shot at a fresh bounty, not yet posted. The Duke offered a bounty of 100 gold for the head of the bandit chieftain known as Dernwald the Deadly who had been preying on travellers on the south road to Dro Madras.

After an evening of getting acquainted over mugs of the Faggot's famous Red Dragon Ale, The trio set off south at first light in hopes of finding clues to the whereabouts of Dernwald and his band. By late afternoon, near a ford in the Ildanach River, the three bounty-hunters came upon the smoking ruins of some caravan wagons lying overturned at the side of the road. A quick look around turned up tracks heading east into the marshy land between the river forks. An hour's travel brought the group to a ruined fort, destroyed in the Unseelie War, abandoned for decades and now, apparently, a bandit hideout.

After surviving an attack by a pair of giant frogs, one of whom learned the folly of swallowing a dwarf whole, the trio made their way cautiously into the keep. All manner of dangerous marsh creatures laired within the crumbling ruins - a giant spider lurked within the watch-tower, giant rats infested discarded debris, and a huge venomous serpent nested within the rubble. Finally the group discovered the room where Dernwald and his men were holed up, and took them unawares as they were dicing for possession of a captured Caemric woman who lay bound in the corner. Though the bandits outnumbered the trio by more than two to one, the group had the advantage of surprise and slew several before they could mount an effective offense. The quick dispatch of several of their number caused some bandits to throw down their weapons and surrender, but Dernwald and a couple of his most loyal men fought to the end and were slain to a man.

The woman, Caitlin verch Roadan was freed, and though she was poor, with no coin to reward her rescuers, she was also proud and ashamed to be in any man's debt. With little else of value she offered herself for the pleasure of her rescuers (except the dwarf - even a proud woman has her limits), and Jin immediately took advantage of the offer. Caitlin further aided the group by telling them where the bandits had hidden their loot and that Dernwald frequently went alone into the dungeons below to consult with someone - it appeared that there was some higher authority behind the bandit raids. Caitlin, hoping to escape a life of poverty and privation that awaited her should she return home and marry a sheep-herder, equipped herself with a spear and a badly over-sized chain shirt taken from one of the bandits and offered to accompany the party below and lend her spear to their cause. Her life was at a bright turning point and she hoped to fight alongside her elven lover in a quest for ancient treasure, and become a spear-maiden just like in the Caemric epics the bards recited.

1 comment:

Michael Skinner said...

Great start to a classic D&D adventure.