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Tower on the Ithfell

The_Warlock

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Tower on the Ithfell

This is playtest campaign using a D20 variant system combining rules from a number of 3rd party systems (Most prominently True20, Omni, and Pathfinder) as well as all new rules. Since it was decided that a thorough 1st level and up campaign was needed to find the remaining kinks after several rounds of edits, and character creation flushes, thus was born “Tower on the Ithfell.”

I'm using a large number of pre-made adventure modules from multiple different editions, as well as interjecting home made plots and adventures...well, if they go in a direction that matches up, but in the end, a little bit of this and that. The biggest challenge is that I'm doing no conversions ahead of play sessions. I am merely taking pre-made creatures and NPCs and converting them on the fly to the generic advancement numbers in the system framework we are testing.

Attached is the rough map of northeastern Impiltur where the adventures will take place.


Characters:

Hogan, a half-orc from one of the mountain tribes of men and half-orcs. The tribes herd and hunt in the southern Earthfasts, trading with coastal cities of Impiltur.

Berk and Bendix, elven siblings from the Gray Forest. Berk learned a love for the breezes and winds in the tree cities in the forests fastness, while Bendix took after their other parent and lived in the hidden hill villages of the forest border, learning to heal and hunt.

Thoven, a young man from one of the smaller valley settlements that can trace it's founding to before the Fiend Wars. With inventive and unorthodox fighting skills, Thoven seems to prefer to trust his fresh face and natural nimbleness to get him out of the trouble he often finds himself in.

Ghorash, dark haired and paranoid exile from Rashemen far to the east. It's said that the Witches who rule there allow no man to wield magic, going so far as to hunt them down and make them disappear.


Setting:

The newly re-unified Impiltur, circa 1109 DaleReckoning in the Forgotten Realms. Imphras the Great has mobilized the Warsword of Impiltur to aid Thesk across the Easting reach against an incursion by an army sent by the Red Wizards. The city of Phent is under seige, and packs of gnoll harriers from the army roam the plains of Thesk.

Having only just in recent history defeated the Hobgoblin Kingdom of Herrekhatur and scattered it's warriors, the army of Impiltur is one of seasoned veterans, but not nearly as numerous as Imphras or his advisors would like. While taking the majority of the standing army to assist their trade ally, Thesk, seems the right thing to do, the vast majority of the upland country of Impiltur is a barely explored frontier. Something needed to be done.

Enter the Royal Borderlands Contract. As the Warsword musters, King Imphras' heralds let it be known that any freeborn man or woman with skills in herding, hunting, farming, mining, crafts of value in a hinterland, or skill with blade, bow or magic may apply for a royal grant of 100 pieces of gold, and the expenses of caravan travel, if they take binding oath to relocate to the uplands around one of the three recently constructed fortresses in the frontier. Indentured citizens may apply, so long as the value of their debt does not exceed the royal grant. Farmers and herders who bring seed and stock also gain rights to a plot of land within site of the fortress they choose to call home.

While tales of humanoids and beasts in the rocky uplands and mountain valleys scares many a merchant, the chance to make one's own destiny away from the competition of the bustling cities, with a solid foundation of coin, draws many to the offer. Those unable to expand farm or business, and restless youths with training in the arts of war and survival, all flock to Filur to sign the contract.


Tarsakh 1-10, 1109 DR
With the warm spring winds from the southern Inner Sea warming the coast of the Easting Reach, preparations are in order for the Warsword to ship to Thesk, as hundreds of citizens and newly arrived foreigners take the Royal Borderlands Contract, and gather in the caravan yards of Dilpur to begin their treks northward.

Having met in the lines to sign the contract and discussed their plans, Hogan, Berk, Bendix, and Thoven decide that their skills compliment each other well and they will journey together. Spending some time gathering the tales of merchants and road guards, they come to the decision that they shall make toward the Tower Ithfell, the northeastern most of the three frontier forts.

A defensible keep built on a small plateau near the Vastar and Demon's Tongue passes, it seems to also have the greatest opportunity for those with a mercenary's skill – known tribes of lesser humanoids in the woods and valleys, lost caves and holds of the orcs and dwarves that long fought in the Earthspurs, and odd ruins from the old days before even the Old Kingdom of Impiltur.

After a whirlwind spree of purchases in the well stocked shops of Dilpur, they join the latest Borderland Caravan on the 10th of Tarsakh and head toward glory.
 

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The_Warlock

First Post
The Tower (Keep) on the Ithfell (Borderlands)

Tarsakh 27, 1109 DR
Some 17 days later, thanks to slow livestock and a muddy Prince's Road (thanks to the mists and frequent short spring rains that fly south from the retreating glacier far to the north), they have left nearly two thirds of the caravan behind at the Fortress of Mal, one of the other border keeps, and hove into view of the Tower Ithfell.

Something of a misnomer, the “Tower” is a small two bailey fort, with a keep on it's northeastern edge, with a single high tower rising above the keep proper, a second smaller tower standing amidst the outer bailey.

A long wait is had on the sloped trail that winds up one side of the Tower's plateau, as guards check contracts, and direct newcomers to the businesses already set up within the outer bailey, or send those farmers and herders to deal with the bailiff to receive their plot of land.

Finally the four companions arrive at the gatekeep where they are waved over to one of 4 pairs of guards all checking contracts.

“From the looks, you here ta be skirmishers?”

Nods all around.

“Alright, lets see your contracts.”

As Hogan hands over his contract, the Sergeant looks at him with raised eyebrows, then scans the contract. “JUSTICAR!” he shouts over his shoulder.

Several nearby caravan folk look up at the shout, but without understanding, though the group notices that the other guards are keeping an eye on Hogan. Unused to such suspicion thanks to the tolerance of the merchant cities of the coast, Hogan eyes them back.
Out from one of the gatekeep doors comes an older man in dark blue robes and chain mail with a steel skullcap, and bearing the symbol of Tyr, god of Justice. He looks to the guard, take the contract, noticing the nod at Hogan and stares at the Half-orc warrior.

“I am Justicar Arkhus, head of the Temple of the Triad here. Name.”

“Hogan.”

“Where are you from?”

“Valley of the White Spear Tribe, late of Hlammach this winter in search of mercenary work.”

“You speak truth. I apologize, but we must be certain. A band of orcs and half-bloods have come across from the Vastar side of the Spurs, and have struck several of the more outlying farm and free holds. The butchered and raped bodies have been found by some of the woodsman. We've yet to be able to find a solid track to where they are holed up. The settlers who've been here for some time are worried about orc blood, and the castellan is concerned there may be an informer in the surrounds.”

“Oh. I understand.”

“Is there any god who sings to your heart?”

“Uh, Tymora and Tempus hear my prayers.”

“I highly suggest you stop at the trader's shop. Blackwold should have several symbols on hand, and a prominently displayed icon of a god of light will ease your dealing with those who have set their keep farther from the walls of Ithfell.

“And excellent suggestion, thank you.”

With that the Justicar nods to the Sergeant and walks back to the gatekeep door, stepping in when the Sergeant, returned to looking over the rest of the group's contracts, slumps his shoulders and calls out... “Justicar!”

The door bangs open, and the Justicar comes back, “What now?”

Looking at the contract the Sergeant holds up, the Arkhus looks at the clean shaven, athletic Thoven, and say, “You are not, by any chance Thoven the Meatgrinder?”

“Me? No, just Thoven. Um, the 'Meatgrinder?'”

“Luckily, I have several descriptions of Thoven the Meatgrinder, and they all generally agree that he is a head taller than you, hairy as a bear, and wears armor of poorly treated furs. He is a brute, a bandit, and tales suggest, a murderer, though no proof has been brought to bear. He dwells near the Bluefang Water, and is said to trade his hunts in at the black pit there known as Baytown. There is a reward for his capture at the Fortress of Mal. While I would not condone lying, more easterly freeholds will likely know the name, but not necessarily the appearance. If you have a surname or nickname, it may be in your interest to use it.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you!”

“Let them in.”

“Yes Justicar. You all, the stable is right in the main gate, and if you need to store things, the merchants here keep a warehouse you can rent space in in the same building. We've got most of the basics, a blacksmith who works with the armorer and weaponsmith, the south street's got Little Blackwold's Big Trade, he's got most of the general goods you'll ever need. If you have Keep business or break any of the laws here, the Bailiff's Tower is right there. Don't do the second. Past Blackwold's is Fountain Square, where you can find The Traveller's Inn, and our tavern, the Hobgoblet.”

“The Hobgoblet,” questions Hogan. “Cute.”

“I didn't name it. There's a number of other merchants who serve the mining trade up in Laviguer, and we've got a jeweler here as well, and a number of finesmiths. If you have any questions, feel free to ask a guardsmen, we'd rather you ask than do something we have to put you in the Tower for.”

With that, the four men, and their two dogs, Hogan's war dog, Bull, and Bendix's hunting dog, Spike, head in, pausing only to stable the battle trained pony that carries their extra gear.

There's a bustle akin to a small city almost in the cobble and dirt paths between the outer bailey's buildings with all the new arrivals making contacts, finalizing land arrangements, and buying last minute supplies forgotten or lost during the caravan ride.

They wander down the southeastern passage past the Bailiff's Tower and find themselves in front of busy open door with a sign showing four small hands exchanging a large crate, and in the common trade script, Little Blackwold's Big Trade.

“Back in a minute,” says Hogan who gently shoulders his way into the crowd. A couple of the clientele give him a wary look, but most are too focused on the haggling at hand. Looking for someone in a shopkeeper's apron, he finds himself in front of a dark haired hin with a bit of belly, but otherwise dressed as if he were in a shop in Hlammach.

“Greetings, greetings. How can I help you today here at the Big Trade?”

“I take it you are Blackwold?”

“That I am. And what can I provide for a warrior of your stature? Ammunition? I've got some basic armors and weapons in stock, but fittings and custom work are Mellok's purview around the corner. Tents? Survival gear? What do you need?”

“Actually, just a holy symbol.”

“AH! A man with the wisdom the praise the powers. What specifically are you looking for then?”

“A symbol of Tymora, if you have one.”

“Indeed I'm sure I do. She's a fine one, and has the good sense to have a straightforward symbol. I've got polished birchwood or metal?”

“Wood'll do.”

Climbing a ladder and pushing off from a small catch bar, Blackwold rides the wheel hooked ladder to a midpoint in the wall shelving, digs through a latched wooden case, pulls out a small object, and slides back down.

“Here we are. I'm afraid the merchants running the mine caravans have been charging a premium for stock that isn't their damnable ore, so I'm going to have to charge you 15 silver for that beauty.”

“No problem.”

Meanwhile, outside, the other three companions watch the crowd, while listening to the barks of drovers, haggling merchants, and children playing and shouting in the distance.

Except Bendix notes the change in tone in pitch from play to fear, as screams, running feat and a faitly heard cackling come from down the street and around the corner in Fountain Square.

Bendix and Spike begin moving, and Thoven acts without thinking to follow. Berk looks up from his contemplation of the breezes moving down the street, turns toward the open door to Blackwold's and shouts, “HOGAN! We've got trouble.” And then begins dashing after his companions.

Hogan turns at the shout, looks back at Blackwold, “Pardon me, someone's playing my song.” Sliding his two-handed maul off his back, he looks right at the crowd between him and the door.

“MAKE A HOLE!!”

Faced with a half-orc armed with a great maul, a symbol of Tymora hanging off his shoulder, and a fire in his eyes, the crowd does the only smart thing, and breaks like the sea commanded by a water witch.

Hogan begins thundering down the street with a quick whistle calling Bull to his side.

--

Bendix and Thoven skid to a halt to take in the scene.

A half dozen children, not even pre-teens are running straight toward them. Behind them, an equal number of short, grey-green knobby skinned humanoids with serrated knives and cleavers follow them. Two are mounted on what seem to be hairless crosses between a dog and giant rat.

Another ten or so of the creatures mill around a marble fountain depicting the Triad, with Tyr and Torm standing tall, scales and sword outstretched respectively, with Ilmater below, pouring water from a simple jug into the fountain's pool. Two goblins chop at the body of a man with is face down in the fountain, the water around him turning frothy pink. The doors to the Hobgoblet and the Traveller's Inn slam closed on the heels of the last person to flee the square while the goblins jeer and prance.

A large block near the fountain's base has been pushed out, and another creature can dimly be seen to be crawling out.

Seeing the loping dograts with their riders, Bendix take bead with his bow and lands two deadly accurate shots, driving his arrows through the charging creature's paws, pinning them for a split second, just enough for them to be slaves to momentum, flinging their riders against the hard-packed dirt & cobble with sickening squelches.

Surprised by the sudden assault, and the terrible deaths of their comrades, they do what goblins do naturally: they point and cackle at their former fellows' horrible demises. Thoven moves to put himself between some of the retreating children and one of the cackling goblins, drawing his rapier as he approaches, and quickly shivs another of the psychotic little brutes.

Berk is just a few steps behind, and seeing the situation, calls on the winds to form a wall blasting into the goblins faces. Unable to focus after the quick run, his attempt to check them with wind force fails, but the wide mouthed laughing goblins are treating to a sudden burst of dust, sticks, and detritus from their dead companions straight to their faces, temporarily blinding them.

At that point, the last goblin finally crawls out of the fountain hole: a female goblin, in black and red stained robes, and carrying what appears to be a harp made of hand and arm bones, bird skulls, and tendons. And begins shouting orders in goblin.

Hogan barrels around the corner at that point, and and along with Bull, takes the chance to run past the blinded and distracted goblins, skidding to a halt next to gobliness in the fountain.

Having gotten something like orders, the goblins without sand in their eyes focus on Thoven, close, skinny, and not armed with a keg on a stick...and in short order Thoven is dancing between hook-tipped cleavers. One goblin, desperate to get in on the fun leaps up on a barrel next to the in entrance and a old stool. Unfortunately, it fails to note the sign in the barrel, “Pickles, 2 copper”, and finding no lid, is lost in the brine.

Bendix drops another pair of coughing goblins, while Berk tries to call stronger wind, but insteads rocks back on his heels, winded for the effort, and the wind wall dissipates, allowing the last chokers to clear their eyes. Thoven, unable to escape the ring of goblins, is able to skewer one, while another simply rolls with the ripping of it's crude leathers.

“Time to say good-bye!”, shouts Hogan and with an overhand heft, drives the gobliness underwater like a spike into a sand pit. Some of the goblins turn from looking at Berk and Bendix and rush Hogan and Bull, meanwhile, Thoven catches a goblin cleaver in the thigh while he is busy twirling over another vicious swipe, and finds himself surrounded by manic goblins, bloody and stunned.

At that moment, the door to the HobGoblet crashes open, and a large man in leather with a maul that equally matches Hogan's, charges out crying “TEMPUS!”, charging the knot of goblins around Thoven, right into a puddle of fountain water and pickle brine.

WHUMP! And he's on his arse. Beside him is a thinner man with a pair of daggers, who shivs one of the goblins. From the door, “Heads DOWN!”, and another man with a bow tags another goblin with an arrow through the eye.

The nearest wall guards, alerted by the sounds of battle, take bead, and crossbow bolts fly into the fray.

Bendix sends Spike to retrieve the gobliness in the fountain, and pins another goblin to the ground with an arrow to bleed out. Berk shakes his head and stays out of the crossfire while the last of the children pass out of the square.

Hogan, a path cleared for him by Bendix and the wall guards, runs across the square and with a surge of adrenaline cleaves through four goblins with two mighty swings, while Bull rips the throat out of a fifth.

Thoven, still stunned from the massive gash in his leg, blinks ineffectively, while the other maul swinging warrior stands up, tries to crush another goblin and loses his footing again, landing in pile of curses and pickle brine. Two more arrows scream in from the door to the HobGoblet, dropping another pair of goblins.

The dagger warrior cocks his head to the side, pulls back and drives one of his daggers into the pickle barrel. There is a strangeld gasp of, “Gurrr...kinn...” and the last goblin dies. A horn sounds from one of the wall towers.

The archer from the tavern slowly walks forward, while Bendix moves to Thoven, and focuses his arcane training on knitting the deep gash. Thoven shakes his head clear as he stands...”Thanks.”

Meanwhile, the other warrior with the maul stands, muttering, “That was embarrasing. I need to drink less with lunch.” Seeing Hogan with his maul, both men nod and clang hammers.

“Hogan.”

“Cham of Tempus. My friends, Selkirk, and Zenik.” Nodding first at the man desperately trying to pull his stuck dagger out of the pickled goblin skull, then the wary archer.

In the distance, the sound of a half dozen pairs of booted feet can be heard running from the bailey center to fountain square.
 

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