Saturday, February 21, 2015

Campaign Design - The Brigantia March: Duerr's Crossing

Recent History:
Duerr's Crossing is a small settlement in the eastern Brigantia Valley in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains on the shores of Llyn Lluncaws. Several fast moving mountain streams feed the cold, clear lake, while the Gwynant flows out of it to eventually empty into the Sosamere. The town gets its name from an event that took place nearly a hundred years ago during the Imperial Wars of Succession, when the paladin Duerr, accompanied by Aliane, a priest of Füllar, and Veit, a priest of Wünd, along with a small force of warriors made an opposed crossing of the Gwynant to attack the fortress of the insane alvari sorcerer and despot Ansas Zilvinus. Against terrible odds, the trio of priests and their followers overcame the defenses of Cær Zilvinus, and drove the sorcerer away after the fortress was consumed by a magical calamity. In honor of the three priests, three shrines were erected, which became a minor pilgrimage site for the devout.

Recent years have not been kind to Duerr's Crossing. Although this region long had a reputation as a bountiful one, and Llyn Lluncaws was once renowned for its fine fish, ever since the fall of Cær Zilvinus the soil in the area has been poor for farming and only average for raising sheep, and the fish found in the lake are merely adequate. Many locals suspect that Ansas put some sort of magical curse on the area when he was driven away from it, although no one knows exactly what that curse might have been or how to reverse it. During the war against the Dark Temple in 479 HKR this region was overrun by the invading forces that put many of the inhabitants to the sword, including the Ceorl Casimir and, many believed, all of his family. The pillaged most items of value and burned much of the village, although the holy relics were saved by the quick action of the guardians of the three shrines, an act which cost Gunter, the guardian of the shrine of Wünd, his life. After the war, people slowly returned and newcomers such as the Barkley Brothers took up residence, rebuilding what had been destroyed and resuming life in the hills surrounding the mountain lake. The area is mostly populated by fishermen, shepherds, farmers, trappers, and hunters, all of whom eke a living out of the rocky terrain. The three shrines bring a modest amount of travel through the area, and the wooden bridge across the Gwynant is the best place to cross that stream in the area, resulting in a number of merchants making this location part of their regular travels. The shadow of the ancient fortress looms over the town, too foreboding for any but the bravest local resident to explore, and even then their forays have all been cursory at best. About five years ago an ogre took up residence in the nearby Skulltop Hill, just to the northeast of the town, and had been extorting the residents for mutton and alcohol until the adventuring party known as the Five Daves killed him.

Notable Locations:
Barkley Brothers' Brewery: One of the most prominent businesses in Duerr's Crossing, the Barkley Brothers' Brewery was built just over nine years ago, and was one of the first new structures built in the town after the destruction that took place during the war against the Dark Temple. Two halfling brothers own and operate the local brewery. Clay is the master brewer, while his brother Bert supplies the funding. Due to Bert's relentless marketing and Clay's superior brewing skills, the operation has begun to earn a reputation throughout the Brigantia March. In addition to common ale, they also brew a dark stout, pale ale, and occasional odd flavored ales such as pumpkin ale. A popular local brew is fire ale, brewed with spicy hot peppers and guaranteed to cause heartburn, even in dwarves.

The Druid’s Circle: In the middle of Llyn Lluncaws, on a small wooded island named Ynys Digon, are seven massive stone monoliths arranged in a druid’s circle. The stone circle is centuries old, and was once an important site for worship of the y'Grym, but the power that it once held seems to have been exhausted. The circle is still tended by an order of druids that monitors the region represented by a druid named Sheryn-ella who maintains the circle - tending the vegetation, harvesting wild mistletoe, and performing a few blessings.

Kerwin’s Outfitters: Kerwin Krell maintains this busy outfitting and supply shop, providing equipment and rations for passing merchants. Kerwin stocks most of the standard adventuring gear listed in the Player's Handbook that is under 30 shillings in price, not including alchemical items, but including healing herbs, but prices are 25% higher than listed. Kerwin also maintains a limited supply of simple weapons and armor, with a stock that fluctuates, usually depending upon what salvage parties of adventurers have brought to him.

Merriweather Manor: Located on the shores of Llyn Lluncaws across from Cær Zilvinus, Merriweather Manor is the largest and most prosperous farm in or around Duerr’s Crossing. It is owned by Duncan Merriweather, the unofficial ruling authority in the town who is referred to as "Elder” Duncan.

The Merry Trio Inn: One of Duerr’s Crossing’s largest buildings, the Merry Trio Inn is a welcome sight to tired travelers. The inn is owned by Barliman, a halfling who settled in the village years ago when his fragile health made life on the road unfeasible. Though the inn was destroyed during the war against the Dark Temple, Barliman returned shortly thereafter and was one of the first to rebuild. The inn boasts a massive common room with full food-service, and eight guest chambers, including three sized for smaller guests. A trio of attractive sisters, Darly, Dayla, and Dayl, act as serving maids. Dayl was recently kidnapped by the ogre of Duerr's Crossing, but was rescued by the adventuring party known as the Five Daves.

Nerenþos’ Tower: Located to the northeast of town is a single stone tower owned by the reclusive wizard Nereneþos, who lives there with his apprentice Anya. Nerenþos came to Duerr's Crossing so long ago that even the oldest residents of the town don't recall a time before he lived there. During the war against the Dark Temple, raiders destroyed almost every structure in the town, but left Nerenþos' tower alone, leading many to suspect that he made a deal with the invaders. The wizard is often away traveling and while he is gone he locks it by both magical and mundane means, so not even his apprentice can get inside.

Shrine of Forseti: The shrine of Forseti is the most prominent and well-maintained of the three shrines in Duerr's Crossing because Duerr himself is an important figure for the Church of Forseti in the Brigantia Valley. His crossing of the Gwynant was not the most important act attributed to this legendary paladin, but it is one of the most memorable ones. The shrine's most holy relic is a golden censer, allegedly used by Duerr himself when he communed with Forseti for guidance. Œric is the keeper of this shrine, and in addition to collecting donations from pilgrims, he sells holy water and heals those who come to him for aid.

Shrine of Füllar: The shrine of Füllar is located on the edge of Duerr's Crossing, mostly so it could be located on a small hill, the better to observe the stars. The shrine is maintained by an elderly gnome named Wini who also works as an alchemist. The shrine's most prized relic is a prayer rug, supposedly used by Aliane when he read the stars the provide counsel to Duerr as to the most opportune time to attack Cær Zilvinus.

Shrine of Wünd: This shrine had fallen into disuse, as there had been no one to look after it for many years following the invasion of 458 as the previous keeper was killed by the evil army and no one took his place. This changed about two years ago when Horst, a dwarf from Hartzstadt settled in Duerr’s Crossing and began caring for the shrine. The shrine doesn’t much look like a religious building, as Horst has built a smithy and clockworks next to the site, and has taken up the role of local blacksmith as well as his religious duties. The most prized relic of the shrine is a stone idol carved into a likeness of Wünd that is reputed to have been Veit’s own holy symbol.

Village Watch: Although Duerr’s Crossing is small, and maintains no significant military presence, it does have two dedicated officers - Sergeant Cale and Corporal Owen - who lead the local militia when it is called upon, maintain the small stock of military equipment possessed by the village, and generally try to keep law and order, mostly involving dealing with travelers who have had just a little too much Barkley Brothers ale. Though they are competent, they are not heroes, and they are well aware of the limitations of their citizen militia.

Notable People in Duerr's Crossing:
Barliman: Barliman is a very fat halfling who speaks with a slight wheeze, but is extremely gregarious and affable. He owns and runs the Merry Trio Inn, serving a selection of ales, mostly brewed by the Barkley Brothers, and a plain but hearty menu heavy on mutton and fish.

Bert Barkley: While Clay is happy so long as he can brew beer, Bert is the face and wallet behind the business. A friendly and engaging halfling, Bert has made friends with most of the merchants and innkeepers in the Brigantia Valley, convincing them to purchase regular shipments of the brothers' brew. Bert originally made the fortune that allowed him to finance his brother's dream working as a master locksmith, a profession he has mostly given up, although he does still sometimes undertake commissions.

Clay Barkley: Clay is the master brewer of Berkley Brothers' Brewery. He is an unassuming halfling with a deep and abiding love for beer. Unlike his brother, Clay is a relatively private individual, content to be left alone to perfect his ales. By most accounts Clay is somewhat dull unless one enjoys talking about beer, talking about brewing beer, or talking about drinking beer.

Corporal Owen: Owen is relatively slightly built for a warrior, but she is a deadly shot with a longbow and a veteran of the war against the Dark Temple. Although not particularly outspoken, Owen is a loyal and hardworking soldier, serving as a capable second to Sergeant Cale.

Duncan Merriweather: "Elder" Merriweather is in his mid-forties, but looks much older. During the war in 479, he and many of the other residents in the town were forced to flee into the hills for safety with nothing better than cold, damp caves for shelter. During his time as a refugee, Duncan became deathly ill, and although he recovered, his health was permanently damaged. Merriweather is one of the wealthiest men in Duerr’s Crossing, owning and running a large farm that raises cattle, sheep, hogs, wheat, and barley. His farm is also the primary source of hops for the Barkley Brothers Brewery. Because of his physical frailty and the relative youth of his two sons, Duncan employs several villagers as farm hands to help run the manor. Despite his illness, Duncan is charismatic, persuasive, and as a result he is well-liked in the village. He is also remarkably well-informed, making it his business to know everyone who passes through and everything that goes on in Duerr’s Crossing.

Horst: Horst is a relatively young dwarf who is somewhat lead-footed and grumpy, but has a reputation as being honest and fair-minded. He came to Duerr’s Crossing about two years ago and set up shop, going to work crafting horseshoes and clockwork creations. He is somewhat dour, but the villagers have come to respect his talents as a blacksmith and are mostly bemused by the various clockwork toys he assembles. Horst spends much of his time shoeing horses, mending broken tools, and doing the various other mundane tasks that a village blacksmith does. He has cleaned up the shrine, and does what is necessary to maintain it.

Kerwin Krell: Kerwin is a short, aging human with salt-and-pepper hair and a bad comb over who runs Kerwin's Outfitters. He wears simple clothes, and always greets customers with a forced smile. He is closed mouthed and stand-offish, but has a reputation as a sharp trader and shrewd negotiator.

Keþos: A tall, thin, cadaverous man with a bald head, Keþos is a priest from the distant land of Kastille who moved into Duerr's Crossing just over a year ago. He is dedicated to the faith of Arrioism, which has some unorthodox ideas such as paying homage to the an entity called "the Founder" instead of any specific deity, or even the y'Grym – pointing to the less than bountiful nature of the lake and the lands surrounding it as an indication that the people are not properly honoring the divine in the way they should. Keþos further claims that the somewhat recent depredations of the Dark Temple were divine judgment. Keþos has not been popular, and most people in Duerr's Crossing still worship the gods of their fathers and neighbors. He has erected a small shrine on the edge of town, but it is rarely visited. The adventuring party known as the Five Daves found evidence implicating Keþos in a plot to steal the relics of the three shrines in Duerr's Crossing and the druid's circle on Ynys Digon, and the priest fled for parts unknown.

Nerenþos: Nerenþos is a wizard who has lived in Duerr's Crossing for several decades. He travels often, telling no one where he is going, and often not telling anyone when he will return, bot even his apprentice Anya. Many rumors circulate concerning Nerenþos, but the truth is, almost no one knows anything about him. He is somewhat paranoid, to the point that when he does travel he locks even his own apprentice out of his tower, arranging for her to stay at the Merry Trio Inn for the duration of his absence.

Œric: Œric is the keeper of the Shrine of Forseti. He is a large, somewhat portly middle-aged man with a bald head and a full brown beard that is salted with gray, he is friendly and happy to tell anyone about the significance of the shrine and Duerr's actions in the area, embellishing the tales with a practiced flair. He is something of a history buff, steeped in the lore of his faith and the historical events of the region.

Sergeant Cale: Cale earned his position during the war against the Dark Temple when he was instrumental in helping most of the citizenry survive the raid by leading them into the hills surrounding the town. Cale is regarded as a good judge of character, and many locals regard those who he disapproved of with disdain.

Sheryn-ella: Sheryn-ella is a khülen druid who maintains the druid circle on Ynys Digon, pruning the vegetation and collecting mistletoe during the full moon. She is a lithe figure, barely five feet tall, with long auburn hair and large green eyes. She speaks in a soft, soothing tone, and often hums to herself while working. As one of the religious leaders of the community, she is respected, but due to her somewhat isolated location on Ynys Digon and somewhat reclusive nature, little is known about her.

Tarik: Tarik is a grouchy retired adventurer who has seen sixty winters. Years ago, he lost his right arm when he foolishly confronted the local ogre shortly after it settled in the nearby cave. Although the single club swipe destroyed his arm, Tarik managed to wound the creature enough to send it retreating to its lair. Meanwhile, Tarik amputated his own arm and bound his wounds. He settled down to become a woodsman, fisherman, and woodcarver. Most villagers fear him but he seems like a mostly harmless old man full of tall tales and all kinds of advice.

Wini: Wini is a relatively old gnome and advanced age has made him somewhat frail, although his gnomish nature makes him still tough and reasonably agile. He maintains the shrine of Füllar in Duerr's Crossing, and has done so for decades, with only the interruption of the war against the Dark Temple interfering with his watch. As a devotee of Füllar (and a gnome), he is keenly interested in arcane knowledge, but he makes his living by making and selling alchemical items of all kinds, usually healing salves and other restorative concoctions.

Other People in Duerr's Crossing:
Note: Although most of these individuals are not considered to be very important in the community, they are available if a player wants to play a character who is a local or can serve as a cohort if someone chooses to take the Leadership feat.

Anya: Anya is a young, red-headed woman who is also Nerenþos' apprentice. While he is reclusive, Anya loves to talk, to anyone, about anything. She prefers to talk about magic, and just how great a wizard she plans on becoming someday. If nobody will listen to her, she’ll even talk to herself, just to break the silence. She will, however, refuse to answer herself. That’s where she draws the line. She has been Nerenþos’ apprentice for nearly two years now. Nerenþos hasn’t taught her much yet, but any day now she’ll be wielding mighty incantations. She hopes. Actually, she spends most of her time cooking meals, sweeping the tower, and washing laboratory glassware.

Bowen: The son of a herdsman, Bowen is from the hills outside of Duerr's Crossing. Since it is the closest settlement to his family's land, he calls it home – and is willing to die to protect it. Although Bowen still assists with tending his family's sheep herds, he makes his living as a woodman, trapper, and wilderness guide. He is adept at setting a snare for the most cunning boar, and know the region around Duerr's Crossing like the back of his calloused hand. Bowen is a quiet individual and speaks in a low monotone voice. He is awkward in town and around other people; preferring to sleep under the stars in the company of animals. This gruff attitude tends to rub people the wrong way, but he means them no harm or disrespect.

Bec: Bec's full name is Becarus Delaurentis Corbin, but everyone calls him Bec. He is a simple fisherman's son in a six-foot-six-inch, 250 pound frame. Bec isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and he lacks basic social skills and etiquette. What he lacks, Bec makes up for in brute strength and endurance. If there is heavy labor or a menial task to be done, he is the man. Tasks that require finesse and dexterity, on the other hand, are not his forte: He often breaks tools with his gnarled, powerful hands. Such duties are best left to others. Bec’s father once asked him to scale some fish, and the mangled remains were completely unusable. Ever since, he shied away from such delicate work. Shortly after his eighteenth birthday, Bec joined the local militia. He enjoys taking orders, and has no desire to climb the ranks of leadership. Although not very comfortable with most weapons, he makes up for a lack of formal training with the strength of a bull. The militia taught Bec the basics of wearing and caring for armor, but he disdains most, as they are always tight in the chest and arms and downright uncomfortable. Bec is boisterous, but prefers to use short sentences and simple words. Other folks often confuse him with fancy words and such. Often he feigns understanding, and they tend to leave him be. He is naive and trusting, and quite shy around pretty women.

Ser Tewdric Casmir: "Ser" Tewdric recently returned to town. The last surviving son of Ceorl Cerdric Casmir, the ruler of these lands many years ago who was killed by the forces of the Dark Temple in the Winter War a decade ago, Tewdric has returned to assert his claim to his family manor and prove himself worthy to follow in his father's footsteps and gain lordship over this region. Though Tewdric uses the honorific "Ser", he isn't technically a ceorl, but he figures that if his father was one, he should be treated as one as well. He is bold and confident, in his opinion he is a born leader, and someone needs to lead the villagers. Having grown used to managing their own affairs for the last decade, the inhabitants of Duerr's Crossing are mostly sympathetic to Tewdric for his lost family, but not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of being ruled by an appointed lord.

Newt: Newt's father was a locksmith, and he insisted that Newt follow in his footsteps. But Newt found locksmithing boring, and he left home to travel and discover what he wanted to do with his life. During that time, Newt has had many jobs including jester, manure shoveler, and short order cook, to name a few. Newt finally discovered that he enjoyed alchemy. It is dangerous, profitable, and yields fascinating items that make life easier. He also knows the innards of most locks. Newt speaks very fast and has a habit of rubbing his hands together. He is fascinated by magic and those who wield it, but believes that alchemy can achieve similar results. Newt craves riches, hoping to someday invest in a lab and hire an assistant who would free Newt up to pursue research and development. Newt has many alchemical ideas he wishes to explore, and carries a small notebook with him in case inspiration strikes while he is on the road.

Mischa: Mischa is a khülen priestess of Syfa called the Witch of the Wood by some ignorant folk in Duerr's Crossing. Many villagers clearly fear her divine connection with nature, which suits Mischa fine. She is introverted and prefers to be left alone to obtain an inner peace with nature. She is mysterious and aloof, if not downright haughty at times. Years of self-imposed exile have given her a dour, pessimistic view of most situations. In addition to wielding spells to aid nature's children, she is also quite adept at wilderness lore, able to track a fox through a rainstorm and mix herbs to make healing poultices and salves. She usually expects nothing in return for her aid, as money is mostly useless to her. Acceptance for who she is and a return of the natural balance is all she needs to be content.

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