Hello and welcome to this, the first in a new series of gaming articles in which I, the Shortymonster give you the basics of an adventure to either kick start a plot or slot into a pre-existing campaign. All entries will be strictly system neutral, but will have a recommended genre at the top. Other than that, everything you need will be laid out in broad strokes, allowing for a large degree of freedom on the part of the GM with regards to how they integrate the seed into their own plot. This first time out, I’ll be giving you a little bit of low fantasy. It would also more likely suit a low level party at the beginnings of their adventuring career, but as with so many things, I leave the details to you…
The war was a long way off, and for two years now the village had heard nothing of its ongoing conflict. All that remained of its population were the old and infirm, and those too young to get called up last time the enlisters visited. Toiling in the fields is no way for the young and carefree to live, and as the young become teenagers they talk in the Flammenden Esel of the lives they could be living.
Two days before harvest a group of men entered the village, at their head a man in military uniform, the rest being troopers, all well healed and nearing the end of their campaigning years.
We start in a morning when the players are working in the fields, All should be of a young age and probably freshly created at the most basic level. As they watch, the half dozen soldiers stride into the village square and start vigourously ringing the bell put there to give warnings of bandits or foul weather. As the villagers get closer the larger and better equipped soldier begins to speak.
Good people of …hell’s bells, where are we… this fine village! The time has come once more for you to take pride in your station as a free village of the realm, and offer up your brave fighting men and women to aid in the continuing civil war. With that said, I want anyone of fighting age front and centre within the hour, and there’ll be a bloody hell to pay if I don’t get at least a half dozen fresh soldiers join my brothers in arms!
The speaker is Sergeant Grethod of the imperial light infantry, and like his escort, looks like his finest days are behind him. His armour is in good repair though, and the hand and a half sword at his belt has a well worn grip from years of service. He and his men are not to be trifled with, and the elders of the village will push anyone of fighting age into the square and hold them there until the allotted time if the players show even a hint of cowardice. They will have rusty swords pushed into their grips, half broken shields strapped over their shoulders, and if they’re lucky, maybe even a scrap of armour.
Over two hours later, Grethod walks out of the tavern with a tankard still in hand, slightly merry and in fine spirits. He walks the line of new recruits taking in the shoddy equipment, and demands that one of his underlings breaks out a large bundle of leather wrapped in steel which contains half a dozen swords of various patterns. Handing them to the player characters he does his best to butter them up, telling them of the riches they will gain by fighting for the Emperor and destroying his enemies, and what a fine body of soldiery they are. Old and twinkly he may appear, but impress on the young characters how genuine he seems in singing their praises.
Before sending them off however, he has news to pass on to another recruiting party working its way down the next valley. He would love to take the message himself, but he and his men are subject to a higher calling. He presents the tallest of the player characters – or which ever random criteria you decide upon – with a wax sealed scroll and the instructions to put it into the hands of no one but Sergeant Manthus who should be no more than a day’s march away over the ridge and down into the next valley. Grethod and his men then retire to the Esel for the rest of the day, giving the players plenty of time for their goodbyes and to grab some food and drink for the next couple of days.
Of course, the scene they find in the bottom of the next valley is not what they expect, with the neighboring village in question deserted but for the carrion birds feeding on what few corpses litter the square. Obvious boot prints came into town from one direction and left another, but mixed among them are bipedal prints a little different from human…
Possible future encounters:
- Manthus and his men, dead on the road with their armour stripped and credentials taken, with the tracks of a slaver’s wagon joining those of the boot prints outside of the village.
- A pack of Kobolds (or other creatures) who have ransacked the village and dragged prisoners back their warren for some other purpose.
- A turncoat Manthus who has been sowing discord against the Emperor and killing such settlements who threaten to rally against him.
Any of these should be fairly simple for low level characters to plan an attack against and come out victorious, if a little bloodied.