PCs begin in Duchy of Grimvall, at Castle Grimvall, early spring
Duke asks PCs to investigate goblin problems at northern border, village of Bretwalda (Thane Bellisson)
Travel encounter (bandits)
Glewston – speak to Thane Bellisson, asks PCs to strike at goblin lair in cave just across the Icefury river. Killing the goblin chief will usually cause the tribe to fight amongst themselves, or even disperse – should buy time for the Duke to send troops.
Travel (approx 2 days), encounter goblin raiders with captives - or their trail
Rescue captives from camp
Send captives back (they get back ok) or accompany back to village and head back to lair
Goblin lair is in ruins of ancient castle – well defended, many dozens of goblins (encourage PCs to find back door)
Infiltrate lair through old tunnels = dungeon crawl
Surprise chief, kill and flee back through tunnels. Chief wields strange organic sword ("chopper" from a Krak'Lek) – misc other loot as well in room of "throne" room...
Return to Glewston, many thanks, Bellisson doesn't know what the chopper is and tells them to report back to the Duke for reward and more info, etc. If needed will pay them to do this, as he's alarmed that a goblin could possess such an oddity.
Head to Grimvall Castle.
Speak with Duke – also doesn't know what chopper is, asks them to bring it to Morganes, who lives in a tower in the ruins of Beloch a' Thaella, about four days away
Travel to Morganes Tower (encounter Dwarven merchant caravan – Oggor, perhaps help him with something – future contact)
Speak to Morganes, who says he can perform certain spells to learn about the item – but in return he wants them PCs to investigate an elven ruin he recently learned about from an old document dating back to the Last War.
Ruin = dungeon crawl, recover a strange magical plant.
... (to be decided)
Return to Grimvall to find the Duke has left the castle at the head of his troops, heading north to deal with reports of a massive goblin invasion some sort of plot by underling to take power? (Note - these are the Orcs, see below)
Session idea: The Bolt-Hole
"Bolt Holes" are human slang for the refuges some elves fled to during the Iron wars. Human rebellions were not unknown even before the Iron Wars, and many elves found it helpful to have a safe refuge they could flee to at short notice, to await rescue. They also proved useful if the political games between the houses turned mean, which occasionally occurred.
The "bolt holes" are often a source of great wealth for those who find and open them, but as they were also often heavily magically trapped, this is dangerous work indeed. And worse, sometimes they will find the original occupants very much still alive and angry at being awoken after so long...
The PCs learn one way or another of a rumored bolt hole located deep in the wooded hills, goblin country – a several day journey just to get to the general area, plus no doubt some time to spend searching.
The bolt-hole itself is very well hidden, required a success at -10 to find, one roll per day of searching.
While searching, local goblins will be a constant threat. A given day of searching will run into goblins on a roll of 9 or less. The number of goblins Roll 1d6 for each PC involved – on a 1-2 add one goblin, 3-4 add two, 5 add three, 6 subctract one. The goblins will be armed typically, and are mainly interested in picking off stragglers, and will often flee if they take a few casualties.
The bolt hole, when finally found is an obviously artificial marking located on a large stone in the hillside. Readers of elven will recognize it as the old elvish rune for "Heron". The rune is about hand sized. At GM's choice it will open at touch, or will require some sort of arcane opening spell, the ancient elvish word for "Heron" (the elves assuming human rebels wouldn't know such a thing), etc.
Once activated, a crack outline of a door will appear, and slowly sink into the ground, exposing a two yard wide by two yard high passage way. Depending on how the door was opened, the passages beyond will either be dimly lit by a series of enchanted stones in the ceiling, or will be dark if the enchantment was forced.
Need traps -some traps work but are ineffective due to age – i.e. Hidden crossbows. of magical and mundane traps – look online Also need guards – awoken by door being forced or traps – golems or elementals?
The will be two possible sets of loot – one for if the bolt-hole is currently occupied – either by a live or dead elf, or one if it's empty. Presumable the occupants would bring many valuable items with them. If empty, they would still likely hide some goodies there so they'd be sure to have some wealth if forced to flee without time to pack.
All items, with the exception of the gems, are recognizably elvish in nature, which makes them impossible to sell just anywhere, or even to have appraised. If the PCs approach a random merchant to sell the items, he will likely react extremely negatively, perhaps even alerting the guards. They will need to find a collector for such items...
If Empty - ideas of loot to be found - scale based on traps/guards to overcome...
- Small bag of gold coins and gems – hidden in the main living area, -2 to find. Includes seventeen elvish coins and three small gems. Full value is $3,000 – but they'll be difficult to sell, not many people can afford such things, and the coins will be considered cursed by the less knowledgeable. Perhaps they are...
- Set of elvish ironwood split armor, enchanted (+2 DR, 25% lighter)
- Two elvish bows (ST 12 compound bows, enchanted +1 accuracy)
- Four quivers of elvish arrows (enchanted?)
- Two small (20 lb) barrels of elvish wine – enchanted for freshness
- 120 days of elvish rations – enchanted for freshness
- 3d6 elvish books. On a roll of twelve or less, the book is of poetry or fiction, and worth $100x1d6 to a collector. One a roll of 13-16, the book is magic, and worth 2d6 * $300 to a collector. On a 17 the book contains extremely rare magic, and is worth $20k or more. On an 18, the book contains rare black magic – and may be fatal to the handler...
If Occupied – in addition to the above:
- 1d6 additional small bags of gold and gems, each worth approximately 2d6 * $100.
- 2d6 random potions
- an additional 1d6 books – but with these ranges (
- The equipment of the occupants.
If the bolt hole is actually occupied, the elves will either be magically asleep, or will be long dead. If asleep, they will be awoken by the "front door" being forced, or if any of the various traps are set off. When awakened, they will be unable to act for 2d6 rounds, and will be disoriented for another minute or so afterwards (HT check starting at 30 seconds to come out of).
The will be at least one elf, plus one for every two PCs (GM can adjust up or down depending on how much challenge he wants to give the PCs). They lay upon ornately carved wooden couches in the center of the main living area, fully armed and armored. For stats, use the Elven Battle Mage template for the leader, and then Elven Warrior for the remaining elves.
They will fight to the death – unless presented with an opportunity to escape and the battle seems to be going poorly, in which case they will flee into the hills and try to make their way south to the coast or to another bolt hole they may know of.
Plot Development: The Orcs
The orcs are a new power on the continent, having arisen far in the goblin-infested northern lands, where dwarves and humans rarely enter. They have lived there for a long time indeed, but until recently were consumed with internal fighting. They were unified however, for the first time, several years before the beginning of the campaign – and now the leader must find an outlet for their violent urges before they fall back into civil war (i.e. Mongols). Over the past few years he has waged war on the surrounding goblin clans, pushing them far back. Now he needs new conquests, and has turned his attention south to the dwarven and human lands.
The average orc is approximately the same size as a human, but generally of heavier build. They generally dress in furs. They use crude iron weapons and armor (quality level of "cheap" ) and when "on the war path" wear a wide variety of armor. They ride Wargs (huge wolves) and follow the basic Tolkien archetype.
The Great Orc War
These events occur during the campaign:
March 12th – the Orc war horde sets forth, heading south in search of new plunder.
March 27th – Dwarvish goblin hunters chasing a band of goblins encounter Orc scouts in the Rushwillow Valley – in the ensuing battle, both sides take heavy losses, and the Dwarves retreat during the night, bringing word of what they at first think are just a new kind of goblin. The Orcs, sensing rich new foes press on.
April 15th – The Battle of the Red Valley – A dwarvish army, made up of contingents from the Raven and Hammer clans make a stand against the much larger Orc army. After two days of hard fighting the dwarves retreat, each contingent heading for their respective home areas. Losses were very heavy, and it's becoming obvious that Orcs are more than just big goblins, and are a real threat.
April 20th – Boulderfist Mountain – A small dwarf community in Boulderfist are besieged for nearly a month by the Orcs, who eventually break in through two openings and destroy the community.
May 12th – A rare Clan Moot is called for June 1st – representatives from all the clans are requested to come and discuss options. Meanwhile a new army gathers and sets forth, with instructions to delay the orcs as long as possible
June 9th - The Moot ends with a decision to seek help from the humans – certainly a demeaning option of last resort. Oggor the merchant is asked to see what help he can come up with. The Orcs continue to push the Dwarvish "(need an army name)" back slowly.
PC inclusion – depends on how famous/powerful they are – could be trusted guards accompanying Oggor, or sent by one of the human kingdoms to evaluate the situation.
Oggor is an experienced dwarven merchant who trades along an established route that takes him through various human villages throughout the kingdom of Nordvald. Oggor has been doing this for as long as any humans can recall, and is an eagerly expected guest at each village on hos route.
The caravan is a great way to get the PCs out and interacting with the world, expose them to other plot hooks, etc.
ST 14, DX 13, IQ 11, HT 13
Combat Reflexes, Attack/Block 16, Tactics 13
Mail hauberk, pot helm, mail sleeves, heavy leather leggings, heavy boots.
Fine Axe, Fine Crossbow (ST14), Fine Large Knife
Oggor begins each trading season in the late winter when he rides with his guards down from their home in in the Ironwall mountains to the first village on their route, where they employ their drivers. Their wagons and oxen are kept in the village over the winter. Oggor pays well for his human teamsters and guards, and each year men make the trek to the village to try to get a job. For the last 22 years Oggor's first hire has been Fraetan, an experienced human teamster who helps manage the wagons and humans.
As the caravan wends its way though Nordvald, Oggor hires and fires humans as needs require – some stretches require more guards than others, and occasionally teamsters need to be replaced for infractions, injury, etc. He begins with mostly empty wagons, carrying only a variety of dwarf-made weapons and tools for trading. At the end of the season (early fall) he returns home with wagons full of human goods – mainly mead, beer, wine, hams, and other food items that dwarves have come to love and can't make themselves. The goods are unloaded and the wagons/drivers/oxen head back to the village for the winter. Oggor himself spends the off-season minding his shop and purchasing goods for the next season.
Oggor generally employs eight dwarven guards in addition to humans that he hires along the way. These are headed by his guard captain Gromblo, a veteran warrior. Gromblo rides with Oggor at the head of the caravan, with one dwarven guard per wagon, and usually one trailing. Human guards are likewise distributed, and on dangerous parts of the route Oggor hires extra guards to go ahead of the caravan and watch for ambushes, etc. Human guards are paid around $200/week plus free board, considered a very good wage. Guards are paid 50% weekly, and the remaining 50% owed at the end if their service. Teamsters are paid $150/week plus board, with similar terms. Both may receive bonuses if appropriate – and Oggor has been known to pay family members of guards killed defending the caravan.
Each dwarven guard carries a one or two-hand axe (fine) and crossbow (ST 14, fine), and wears a mail hauberk, mail sleeves, heavy leather leggings, leather gauntlets, pot helm, med. shield. They ride war rams. Human guards aren't usually mounted (the wagons move slowly that they can walk) and vary widely in armaments – usually leather armor, shield and spear/sword/bow. Each teamster is lightly armed (crossbow, axe/club) and armored (fur/leather).
The wagons themselves are mostly wooden, strengthened to carry a load of up to one ton, although they usually carry only half this weight – it's only at the end of the season that they're heavily loaded. Heavy tarps protect the goods – the better goods are stored in locked chests built into the wagons. There's room for two riders at the front of the wagon, although usually only the teamster rides there. Raised sides/back offer from protection to riders, and the teamsters are expected to fight from the wagons using their crossbows.
NPC: Oggor the Dwarf
Sense of Duty - to his guards
Wealth - comfortable
Reputation +2 in Nordvald
Area Knowledge (Nordvald): IQ+2
First Aid: IQ+1
Nav. Land: IQ+1
I never assigned him equipment, but would certainly be carrying a wheelock blunderbuss, axe and wearing fine mail.
NPC: Fraetan the Teamster
Made using Gurps Character Assistant - file here
ST 11 
DX 11 
IQ 11 
HP 12 
Basic Lift 24
Basic Speed 5.25
Basic Move 5
Ground Move 5
Water Move 1
Honesty (12 or less) [-10]
Odious Personal Habit (Picks nose) (-1) [-5]
_Unused Quirk 1 [-1]
_Unused Quirk 2 [-1]
_Unused Quirk 3 [-1]
_Unused Quirk 4 [-1]
Animal Handling (Oxen) IQ/A - IQ+3 14 
Area Knowledge (local) IQ/E - IQ+1 12 
Axe/Mace DX/A - DX+1 12 
Brawling DX/E - DX+1 12 
Carousing HT/E - HT+0 10 
Crossbow DX/E - DX+1 12 
First Aid/TL3 (Human) IQ/E - IQ+0 11 
Packing IQ/A - IQ+2 13 
Savoir-Faire (Dwarves) IQ/E - IQ+1 12 
Teamster (Oxen) IQ/A - IQ+2 13 
Whip DX/A - DX+1 12 
Stats  Ads  Disads [-20] Quirks [-5] Skills  = Total 
1 Axe LC:4 $50 Wgt:4
Dam:1d+3 cut Reach:1 Parry:0U ST:11 Skill:Axe/Mace, DX-5, Flail-4, Two-Handed Axe/Mace-3
1 Large Knife LC:4 $40 Wgt:1
swing Dam:1d-1 cut Reach:C,1 Parry:-1 ST:6 Skill:Sword!, Knife, DX-4, Force Sword-3, Maine-Gauche-3, Shortsword-3
thrust Dam:1d-1 imp Reach:C Parry:-1 ST:6 Skill:Sword!, Knife, DX-4, Force Sword-3, Maine-Gauche-3, Shortsword-3 Notes:
1 Whip (3-yard) LC:4 $60 Wgt:6
Dam:1d-1 (0.5) cr Reach:1-3* Parry:-2U ST:8 Skill:Whip, DX-5, Kusari-3, Monowore Whip-3 Notes:
1 Crossbow (ST 11) LC:4 Dam:1d+3 imp Acc:4 Range:220 / 275
RoF:1 Shots:1(4) ST:7† Bulk:-6 Rcl: $150 Wgt:6 Notes:
1 Large Knife LC:4 Dam:1d-1 imp Acc:0 Range:8.8 / 16.5
RoF:1 Shots:T(1) ST:6 Bulk:-2 Rcl: $40 Wgt:1
Armor & Possessions
1 Backpack, Small $60 Wgt:3 Location:
1 Blanket $20 Wgt:4 Location:
20 Crossbow Bolt $40 Wgt:1.2 Location:
1 Fishhooks & Line $50 Wgt:0 Location:
1 Fur Tunic $25 Wgt:2 Location:torso
1 Group Basics $50 Wgt:20 Location:
1 Lantern $20 Wgt:2 Location:
1 Leather Cap $32 Wgt:0 Location:skull
2 Oil (per pint) $4 Wgt:2 Location:
1 Personal Basics $5 Wgt:1 Location:
2 Wineskin $20 Wgt:.5 Location: