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Monday, February 6, 2012

Rereturn to the Keep on the Plaplands

A few months back I posted about a forum rpg I was planning to run (which unfortunately did not get far, but that is the fate of play-by-post gaming more often than not). However, I liked the idea and since there's a shortage of PDQ adventures out on the net I figured I'd go ahead and turn it into a full-fledged adventure write-up. I'll start with the Keep itself and then in a later post I'll do the lands around the keep and finally the dungeons in the area. Once it's all done I'll combine it into a PDF version.

For a recap of the ideas behind the adventure check out the old post here.

The adventure will be written for the PDQ system Questers of the Middle Realms, my personal favorite iteration of the PDQ system. That said it would be almost no trouble to convert this to another version of PDQ, either "generic" or something like Zorcerer of Zo or Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies. The game is meant mostly for starting characters but there's no reason that experienced adventurers couldn't have fun wading through the relatively minor dangers to be found out on the plains.

The Keep

The Keep is a small, unremarkable fort far from civilization. Four hefty walls of mismatched stonework with a squat watchtower on three of it's four corners (they never got the funding to complete the fourth). The walls are causally patrolled by guardsmen in rusty chainmail and sturdy steel helmets. There are two gates on the north and south sides of the keep. Both are kept closed most of the time and those seeking entry to the keep need to provide the gatekeeper with their name and business. None of the guards take their duty very seriously...nothing truly dangerous has shown up in the area for decades. They're mostly here to break up fights between scavengers, deal with petty theft and chase the occasional goblin out of someone's cellar.

A bit over a dozen homes as well as a handful of businesses are nestled within the keep. The scavenger "tribes" mostly wander the plain and stay at the inn when they're in town and the guards make their home in the barracks of the inner keep. Travelers will quickly notice that every single building has a strong, sturdy looking roof. Although the Keep is only on the edge of the plains no-one wants an iron washbasin or nude, armless statue smashing through the ceiling during dinner.

Extra Notes:

-The Guards should usually be treated as Minions (Good [+2] Lazy Soldiers).

-The walls of the keep have a couple of ballistae in dire need of repair (attempts to fire one suffer a downshift but on a successful hit double the number of Damage Ranks inflicted).

The Fallen Fortune

The largest building in the Keep other than the inner fort is this large tavern and inn. The place is run by a burly human, Abe Morley, who keeps the beer flowing and makes sure everyone pays their due. The food is (unfortunately) prepared by Mister Green, an orcish cook. Due to Mister Green's strong sense of taste he prefers to serve particularly bland meals, boiled chicken, unseasoned potatoes and applesauce on white bread are favorites. Green also serves as the bouncer and few people complain more than once about their meal. 

Extra Notes:

-A week's stay at the inn is an Average [0] expense. Food and lodging for one night is merely a Poor [-2] expense. 
The Jeweler:
Tucked away in one corner of the Keep is a small, well-built jewel shop run by Rhes Silverbeard a dwarven merchant and his human wife, Dorothea Silverbeard. She somehow managed to convince Rhes that they had to get married several years in the past. Rhes is still somewhat confused by the situation but he finds it easier to go along with it and be grateful for the extra help around the shop. Rhes will appraise and purchase the more valuable objects that fall out on the plains but he is mostly interested only precious gems or metals. As the wealthiest resident he also serves as an unofficial banker, offering loans and allowing others to keep their valuables stored with him for a small price. 

Extra Notes:

-Rhes employes two mercenary guards far more alert and competent than the standard Keep soldiers (Good [+2] Loyal, Good [+2] Warriors, Good [+2] Perceptive) and during the night his huge guard-dog sleeps in the store to keep an eye out for intruders (Expert [+4] Big Dog, Good [+2] Tough, Expert [+4] Sense of Smell, Poor [-2] Animal Instincts). 

-The dwarf's small vault (with an Expert [TN 11] Lock) contains a Master [+6] Fortune in cash and small gemstones. The vault may also contain valuables stored here by some other travelers or businessman (a good possible plot hook). 

The Temple of Lonuse

The only real holy ground in the Keep is this small church. The place is crammed full of knick-knacks, tattered clothing and cracked tableware. The temple is dedicated to Lonuse, the god of Second-Hand Goods. The place is watched over by the elderly and cheerful Dana Samwell. She is always happy to offer spiritual advice and may grant some miracles to those who purchase some of her junk (although there's always the possibility of something exceptionally valuable hidden among the dross). 

Extra Notes:

-Dana Samwell, human priestess: Good [+2] Cheerful, Good [+2] Ordination: Lonuse, Good [+2] Persuasive, Average [0] Divinations*, Good [+2] Lonuse's Healing Goodwill*, Poor [-2] Bleeding Heart. She has +4 Favor from Lonuse. 

-Donating a good chunk of second-hand equipment or goods is a good way to earn Favor from Lonuse. 

The Smithy

The keep's only blacksmith, a human named Arlie Mill, is generally kept pretty busy shoeing horses, repairing helmets and performing maintenance for travelers and locals. However, in his free time he indulges in his personal hobby: polearms. Arlie collects, restores and constructs polearms of just about any shape, size or description. The walls of the smithy (and Arlie's home) are covered in a truly startling variety of long-hafted weaponry: spears, halberds, ranseurs, glaives, bardiches, guisarmes, glaive-guisarmes, glaive-axe-bec-de-fauchards and other highly experimental weaponry. Attempts to sell Arlie a new or interesting polearm receive an upshift.

Extra Notes:

-Arlie's collection of spears are all Average [0] props (some of the more impractical designs might even be Poor [-2]) but the prize of his collection is a Good [+2] Enchanted Halberd which he keeps above his mantle at home. Convincing him to part with it would be a Master [TN 13] transaction. 

Rivas' General Store

Near the center of town, this store stocks rope, tools, traveling supplies, farming and camping gear and just about any miscellaneous thing you might require. The owner, Rivas, doesn't tend to stock weaponry or other "adventuring" gear but he's got plenty of food and general supplies. Rivas is a human who hails from Arrgarnarr and has the general shifty, unpleasant look of people from that region. Despite this he's managed to settle into life at the keep quite well and his neighbors are open-minded about his cultural background and no-one minds so long as he keeps the ominous chanting down. 

Extra Notes

-Rivas Darkheart human shopkeeper: Average [0] Wicked, Good [+2] Tradesman, Average [0] Dread Occult Lore, Good [+2] Smarmy Charm.

-Rivas and his son live on the second floor of their shop. In the basement is a shrine to Azanut and the other Nether Powers. Anyone investigating the leather-bound books and eldritch sigils can find an Average [TN 7] ritual to summon an Imp from the Nether realms. 
Salazar's Trading Post

Karin Salazar runs a trading post directly across the street from Rivas' General Store and the two have developed a vicious competitive streak. While she also carries a large supply of "general" goods Salazar also buys valuable goods brought in by the scavengers out on the plains so there's always a chance for just about anything to end up here. Salazar also keeps a stock of "grey market" items: lockpicks, mild poisons, unlicensed potions and so on. Her exact inventory is up to the GM but she's unlikely to advertise her under-the-counter goods to outsiders. 

The Inner Keep

The heart of the Keep is a relatively small fortified manor. The inner keep contains barracks for the multinational soldiers who man the keep and the armory where spare weapons and armor are left to molder. Underneath the inner keep is a cobweb-filled dungeon that hasn't been used for years and the meager treasury containing the Keep's yearly budget. The upper floors of the manor are home to the captain of the guard, a knight named Gwynne Tanbound, the keep's administrative staff and the governor of the whole place: Actius Goa.
   Most of the day-to-day tasks are handled by clerks or by Captain Tanbound, a hard-nosed individual far more concerned with fulfilling her duties than Actius is. Governor Actius spends most of his time with research and study, he considers the keep little more than a quite place to store his books and considers a little bit of paperwork a small price to pay. 

Extra Notes:

-Gwynne Tanbound human knight: Expert [+4] Swordplay, Expert [+4] Honorable, Good [+2] Commander, Good [+2] Knight of the Argent Cube, Good [+2] Homeland: Orthedia, Expert [+4] Riding. Gwynne has a Good [+2] Blessed Blade and a suit of Expert [+4] Platemail which she wears on duty. Anyone who deals with the strict and disciplined woman will quickly realize she's far too competent and driven for her post out here in the Plaplands (her superiors felt she was a little too enthusiastic and sent her out here to mellow out for a few years) and she is quite tired of her post herself. 

-Actius Goa human scholar: Expert [+4] Obscure Lore, Good [+2] Magical Theory, Expert [+4] Studious, Good [+2] Perceptive. Actius also owns an Expert [+4] Personal Library. Far more laid-back and casual than his captain of the guard Actius is mostly concerned with keeping things calm and quite and helps to temper Gwynne's eagerness to mount up and sally forth the moment there's any news of monsters or danger. 

-The keep's treasury is well-guarded by two soldiers at all times as well as an Expert [TN 11] Massive Locked Door. Even if would-be thieves manage to break in there's a Good [TN 9] Light-Web enchantment which fills the room with thin beams of reddish light. Touching a beam triggers an alarm spell and causes the room to fill with Expert [+4] Sleeping Gas. The chests in the treasury contain two Expert [+4] Sacks of Money and 10 Good [+2] Silver Bars. 

Keep Plot Hooks

Here are some short, interesting plot-hooks that PCs might stumble upon or assigned due to damage-induced-plot-hooks. 

-When the PCs come into Rivas' General Store they find the counter empty with only a small gong labeled "strike for service". Striking the gong a few times will elicit shouting from downstairs and the sound of stomping up the stairway. Rivas will arrive, out of breath and apologetic and also wearing a large, pentagram covered, headdress of blackened wire and goat-horn. Once he realizes he's still wearing it he'll quickly chuck it under the counter and change the subject. 

-Abe Morely at the Fallen Fortune has heard about other inns and taverns with basements full of rats and rather than driving business away this infestation seems to attract droves of adventurers who eagerly wipe out the rodents for chump change and then turn around and spend that money (and more) at the bar. A bit too eager to get in on this Abe released a few crates of large rodents into the cellar. After a few weeks the squeaking, gnawing damage and rat filth were too much so he decided to get rid of them, releasing a giant spider into the basement to deal with the infestation. Unfortunately the spider had an egg sac and soon his cellar was full of webs and eight-legged horrors. Well, one thing led to another and now there's a bear down there and no-one can get to the booze and he could really use some help. 

-Gwynne Tanbound is extremely eager to cleanse the area around the Keep of any dangers or monsters and will generally offer bounties for the extermination of any such threats. She's also got a mile-wide competitive streak and if any knights or warriors of note show up in town she'll do her best to talk them into "sparring matches" or "friendly jousts". 

-The dungeons of the inner keep are long, long abandoned, mostly because of an extremely annoying haunting that developed a few weeks ago. A headless specter drifts from cell to cell. Attempts to put the ghost to rest have so far been complicated by the fact that the thing can't speak without a head and no-one has any idea what in the world it wants.

EDIT: Here's part 2 and part 3 

1 comment:

  1. A very nice homage to Borderlands! Really shows the strength go the PDQ/QMR rules.