D&D 5E Talls S&H adventure



It has been nearly half a century since Ajax murdered King Ormund and took his throne, descending in his flying city fortress into the middle of the kingdom. Ormund's army of stalwart dragonborn were quickly overwhelmed by the multitudes of warbred that the dark fortress spewed out. Once Ormund was dead the armies of warbred marched outward, engaging in a telling war of attrition that ground both sides to broken remnants of their former selves. The warbred armies left to fend for themselves as soon as they had achieved their purpose.

Now with tyranny on the rise bastions of civilization fall while the Wodes* encroach on the land. Towns and cities grow ever more isolated as the roads that link them become unusable. Those that are not in ruin are patrolled by bandits, or worse, the Ajax’s men. Both will rob the shirt off your back, but the bandits are much more likely to let you go free.

The dukes that loyally served King Ormund were ground to nothing. Although Ajax claims that they are all dead, there are rumours, barely whispered about, that some managed to escape. With barely more than the shirts on their back, the Black Dukes form a glimmer of hope in the chaos, something to rally to, should anyone be brave enough to challenge Ajax.

For now Ajax' Hawk Lords descend on the scattered baronies at will and extract brutal taxes, in goods, money and people before flying off into the sky again, leaving the barons to fend for themselves.

Closer to home the Barony of Bedegar has been thrown into chaos as a band of orcs sacked Bedegar keep and murdered the Baron’s family**. If you believe the stories, these are no ordinary orcs, but huge beasts 10 feet tall with tusks that could gore a man from across a river.

The baron’s close friend, Lord Saxton, has declared himself regent and, with no one else to look to for leadership, many of the local lords have sworn fealty. Following the new king’s example, Lord Saxton has begun to close his iron grip on the Barony. Exiling any who may be a threat and placing his own lackeys in positions of power.

The adventure starts in a town on the frontier of civilization – Gravesford. This small town has been in slow decline for years. Under King Ormund it served a nearby Castle. Now lost to the Wode, the castle is little more than a rumour harkening back to the good old days when the east road brought trade from neighbouring kingdoms.

*Dense dark forests. Not the pleasant wooded areas that nobles like to hunt in. The Wode hides orcs, goblins and other fouler things, and seems to actually fight and devour any who venture in.
**I'm not sure yet, but I think this would have happened 6 months to 2 years ago.

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Known Ratcatchers
OOC thread

jmucchille - U'Tempei !Nothen A human eldritch knight from far away lands
shayuri - Arcata Dulat Human Wizard from one of Bedegar's nobles houses, with her retainer Gavien (Troubador-Warrior)
kahlessnestor -Eowyn Rosebud Halfling Dream Druid
JustinCase -Saarthax Dragonborn Paladin Exiled to Bedegar with his father, with his retainer Bernold (Battle Priest)
Herosmith15 -Nightshade Warbred Mastermind

Major NPCs

Lord Saxton: Baron Bedegar's former right hand. Saxton was the first to arrive when Bedegar keep was attacked chasing the orcs off. There were no orc corpses to show for his efforts though. He quickly claimed the castle and, having often acted as Bedegar's Steward, declaired himself regent. Saxton has limited support from his close friends but the other nobles seem ambivalent towards this bid for power. The title "Lord" hasn't quite stuck yet and many still refer to him as Sir Saxton, though commoners are careful not to do this when any of the Knights of the Three Roses are within ear shot.

Sir Peleton, One of the Knights of the Three Roses, Sir Peliton has done well for himself since Saxton has claimed the Barony. Formerly a hired Man at Arms of Saxton's, Sir Peliton has gained a knighthood and a large manor in the Barony, confiscated from one of the few open opponents of Saxton's.

Other NPCs in Gravesford

Carroc: Being by far the wealthiest husbandman* in Gravesford, Carroc feels he should be the village Reeve**. Carroc's holdings are almost as great as the rest of the council combined so he still wields considerable power in the village. He is not very easy to get on with and is particularly unpleasant to outsiders. He makes no secret that he feels above everyone else in the village, especially the unfree peasants.

Osric: Is the elected Reeve and is very popular with the townsfolk. He leads a council of elders, made up of the wealthier husbandmen of the town. He wishes for the town to grow and offers much of his personal wealth to better the town and help the less fortunate.

Jago the Smith:
Gravesford's smith is a huge fan of gossip. This hobby is helped by the fact that many travelers stop at his smithy to have armour and weapons repaired. He'll usually do small repairs while you wait, offering ale as part of his price, encouraging travelers to loosen their tongue. Many of the villagers hang out here in the colder evenings when the forge keeps the room nice and warm.

Giselle and Gowan: Husband and wife who own and run the Reluctant Pig along with their 13 year old daughter, Brecca. Due to the nature of their business they are necessarily more friendly towards strangers than most of the town.

Father Belderone: Runs the church of St. Gaed in Gravesford. He moved to Gravesford many years ago from a big city and still carries himself with the same sophisticated manner associated with larger settlements. He has a number of junior clergymen with him, but he is the only one with divine power granted by St. Gaed.

Tace: Is a traveling Wizard who visits the villages, hamlets and manors of Bedegar and the neighboring areas. He has a string of apprentices on his route and has lifted many a peasant from poverty by offering them a limited education and occasionally outright purchasing their freedom.

Pinna: One of Tace's apprentices, Pinna set up shop in Gravesford a few years ago and quickly became very popular with both children and adults. The teenage hedge wizard is very chatty, but reluctant to reveal anything about her past. She is well known and liked by the woodcutters and charcoal burners as she spends a lot of time the Rend Wood, collecting herbs, fungi and berries for her various potions and spells.

*Husband here means "head of household" rather than "married man" and refers to any commoners who own land
**Reeve refers to an official appointed by the local lord or elected by the village to oversee the day to day running of a town or manor and impose fines on those who do not perform as expected.
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A long day’s travel is almost at an end as you approach the village of Gravesford. The usual sounds of farmers working their fields is absent and you have only your footsteps to break the silence.

As the village comes into sight, the Church and the Inn stand proud from any other building, each far larger than the small collection of wooden shops and houses would suggest a need for. The church boasts a magnificent stained-glass window that harks back to grander days in its past. Famous across Bedegar, it is hard to spend much time in the barony without finding out that this is the Church of St Gaed the Confessor, the former king’s master of spies who outed a fiend at the cost of his own life. Canonised by Caval, he returned and slew the fiend.

Music drifts along the breeze and you work out why there are so few farmers in the fields – market day. The center of town is a hive of activity and noise as famers and townsfolk vie for the best price for their wares.

Many of the stores and casts are nearly empty and a few are already packing up, their owners drifting towards the inn for a well-earned drink and catch up before heading back home. The Reluctant Pig is a large stone building that could easily hold the entire town. The large coach house once served as an important stop between Bedgar Keep and the neighboring barony. Now it sees much less business but the owner has kept it in fairly good repair.

A gaggle of children burst out from an alley, chased by a young woman in a pointy wizards hat. All of the giggle and squeal as she launches sparks that whistle past the children’s heads, causing them to shout with delight. They ran square into an empty stall, knocking it over, causing the merriment to pause briefly as the children all look horrified at the young wizard. “Never mind, I’ll clean it up later.” She says, shooting another burst of sparks that sends the children running. She pulls a piece of string out of a pouch and waves it in the air, leaving the fallen stall to tidy itself up. A sign on the stall reads, “OUT PLAYING, FIND ME. LOOK FOR THE HAT. OTHERWISE VISIT THE SHOP AFTER”

If you have business other than drinking, it would be best to get to it soon, before the farmers and shopkeepers are all in the tap room.


First Post
Orin sighs in relief as he trudges into town, pulling his thick, green cloak tighter around himself. It had been a long journey to Gravesford, and he was looking forward to a drink and a warm bed for the night. Despite his weariness, though, he had a mission, and he intended to conduct it to the best of his ability.

The ratcatcher smirked, inwardly of course, as he felt the eyes of villagers begin to watch him. Warbred were rare, and, while tiring at times, Orin had to admit that stereotypes had their uses. In his business, the more people he could fool into believing something different than the truth, the better.

A hand raises up to rub his scarred face as the children burst into his view. "Great, just what I need, rascals," he mutters to himself before taking note of the mage girl and filing her face into his memory before heading back to the inn.

U'Tempei !Nothan
Marketplace in Gravesford

U'Tempei enters the marketsquare and heads straight toward a man selling fruit. She touches her right index finger to her left temple, then her right temple, then her jaw close to her right ear. "VithSecI Saha. Greetings. How much for the aapple?" She touches two fingers to her left wrist.

The man looks her up and down. She has skin like mahogany with a series of tattoos on the edges of her face, her neck and arms. Ribbons in dark colors (crimson, midnight blue, and dark green) are wrapped around her arms. She wears leather armor, painted in similar colors. A rapier is sheathed on her belt and a small crossbow hangs from her belt. A backpack hangs high on her back.

"One copper each, half dozen for half a silver. Where are you from, my dear?"

"Aa small jungle villaage faar to the south. It is of no consequence." She responds touching her forehead with three fingers. She then hands him a copper and immediately takes an apple and bites into it. She then touches two fingers to the right side of her neck. "Not aas sweet aas the aaples of my villaage. Perhaaps it haas a little consequence." She touches her jaw near her right ear, her right temple, and left temple and says "VithSecI Vula. Good day." She walks about the marketplace eating her apple.

She hears the laughter of children before she sees them crash into the cart followed by a woman. The sight of children makes her sad and she touches two fingers to neck in silence.

(ooc: she tends to stretch the length of long O sounds and her short I sounds more like long E. I'm only doubling her a's to remind the reader there's an accent and avoiding making her dialog impossible to read. :) )


First Post
On seeing the busy market square, Arcata relaxed a little. Finding Gravesford so quiet had given her nightmarish visions of the aftermath of a calamity, an attack maybe, with piles of bodies tucked away out of sight leaving the town virtually empty.

But no, there were no plumes of smoke rising from burning husks of buildings. No blood or scuffing on the ground, nor bodies strewn about like a giant child had tired of its dolls and left them where they'd fallen. No weeping, or screaming, or whimpering. No smell of copper in the air. It was just Gravesford, as it had been when she'd left. Bigger, maybe, a little. Bigger but fundamentally the same.

She was in time. It was a relief, but it also meant the pressure was on. The omens had been clear. A cloud hung over Gravesford. A stormcloud bristling with thunderbolts. The devastation would start slow, but the end would come swiftly once it started.

Well. Clear was a relative thing for divinations and omens. She still had little idea from where the danger would come, or what form it would take.

Until she had a better idea, Arcata felt it best to keep a low profile. She tugged the red velvet hood of her cloak down a bit and shifted her shoulders under it, glad she'd avoided the robe so traditionally associated with a wizard and instead wore a more mundane...if still high quality...dress of fine-spun cotton and silk, the hem low enough to only let the toes of her walking boots show from under the skirt. No staff either, just the dagger at her belt.

She'd go back home presently, but perhaps just look around a bit first...get a sense of goings-on.

The sight of children playing brought a smile to her lips...a smile that turned somewhat confused on seeing the mage joining in. Arcata was sure she didn't recognize the woman, and it was doubtful she'd have forgotten a fellow wizard. It's not like there were a lot near Gravesford. A relative newcomer then. She found herself idly wondering what this wizard-merchant sold, and how big a market she found for it. Perhaps there'd be time to ask soon.

Carefully avoiding the bulk of the marketplace, Arcata moved into Gravesford, hoping to find some hint as to the coming storm...hoping to avoid being recognized as she did so.


the magical equivalent to the number zero

Saarthax sounds equal parts offended and intrigued as his companion, the battle priest Bernold, suggests working as adventurers for the time being. Walking beside the dragonborn's armored warhorse -- Saarthax does not like riding while his friend walks -- the two seem not to notice the quiet surrounding Gravesford, for they know it is market day from some of the farmers they sometimes trade with.

"Hear me out,"
Bernold says quickly, his armor reflecting the last sunlight beneath the simple white hooded mantle. "We number only two now, and that makes us more of a target than a threat. But if we can make a name for ourselves, others will rally to our cause, and adventuring is a fast way to gain a reputation.

The large dragonborn paladin, his off-white scales shining silvery in this light, the armor in contrast not as spotless or gleaming, opens his draconic jaws but then closes them again as he thinks. Of course he wants people to know that he seeks to end the looming threat and defeat the warbred and the Hawk Lords -- especially the Hawk Lords -- and be a shining example that they can rally behind. But Bernold is right; they are just two, and without the fame his father had, it will be nigh impossible to lead the people into overthrowing the tyranny of Ajax and his minions.

"Well, alright," Saarthax nods, "Adventurers. Rat catchers. But only as a means to an end."

Moving into town, Saarthax does his best to ignore the shocked and angry expressions of those villagers who see this dragonborn as a threat to their safety -- which it is, if the Overlord's forces ever hear of it -- but instead focuses on those who seem happy to see him. Disappointingly few faces seem familiar, and Saarthax exchanges a few pleasantries with these, inquiring about their crops, their families and today's business.

"We will stop by The Reluctant Pig later," Saarthax remarks just a bit louder then necessary, his deep voice hopefully reaching the ears of sympathetic villagers. Moving quickly to the Church, they avoid the busiest parts of town and enter the large building to pray to the good Gods before moving on to the inn.


OOC: @KahlessNestor is unusually quiet and this is still in early introductions he'll easily catch up.

As Saarthax and Bernold enter the church they catch the attention of an old man shuffling up the aisle. “Good evening.” He greets as he eyes the strangers. After a moment he adds, “I am Father Belderone, and I can guess as to who you are. I am sorry to hear of your father. I see you serve Cavall. You are most welcome here, in the church. I wish I could say the same for the town. What can I do for you?"

“Stay out of trouble!” one well-dressed man calls, “We don’t take kindly to ratcatchers here, get your food and get out.” Orin easily finds a table in the mostly empty inn and is quickly served by a young girl – the spitting image of the older woman behind the bar. The inn is surprisingly cool inside, the doors and windows open to allow in the evening light and air, and it’s easy to imagine the large room becoming hot and stuffy with the whole town crowded in. There is a group of four engaged in serious conversation. Snippets of conversation make it through the low noise of the empty taproom. “…cows...”; “…north...fallow…”; “…mending…” After a few minutes you hear them say, “We’d best head over the forge before Carroc arrives.” And they leave the inn one at a time.

U’Tempei notices the glances from many of the townsfolk as she walks around the market. She catches the eye of one of the younger children who points and suddenly U’Tempei finds herself surrounded by children chattering an unending series of questions about her unusual appearance and tattoos. Before U’Tempei gets a chance to even comprehend the questions a young woman, barely older than some of the children, shoos them all away before offering an apology. Her robe and crystal necklace clearly mark her out as a magic user. Her own gaze lingers on U’Tempei’s tattoos, her brow furrowed in thought, before she shakes her head and heads off, “Sorry!” she calls.

Arcata draws some attention but most of it seems to be because of the quality of her attire. Only one man seems to look at Arcata, rather than her clothes. He seems on the verge of talking when something – someone – catches his eye, and he heads off to confront a warbred walking through the town.
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"It is nothing," U'Tempei says, running a finger from her jawbone to her temple.

Several people in the square saw the exchange but none of them say anything. U'Tempei decides to find lodging. She overhears talk about a Reluctant Pig and eventually finds her way to the inn. She enters and the conversation lowers. She places two fingers on her neck as walks up to the bar. "Hello," she says touching her left temple, then her right temple, then her jawbone near her right ear. "May I get a drink, something refreshing?" she says, touching two fingers to her left wrist.


the magical equivalent to the number zero
”Thank you, Father,” Saarthax says earnestly, moved by the priest’s words.

”We just came here to pray and light a candle against the darkness. And see the Church for ourselves, of course!”

After the exchange the two men find a quiet spot and start praying together, facing one another and with closed eyes each reciting various scriptures. Then each lights a candle and say their goodbyes to Father Belderone.

”To the inn?” says Saarthax, and Bernold’s grin is the answer he needs.

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