Since this is endeavor is one decent in scope, I'll be separating it out into multiple "episodes," each one covering a small section of the entire adventure. Now, I have no idea how well this will work, but I figure why not try it out, yeah? So without further ado...
The Silence of Mothvale: Part 1 -- The Uncanny Silence
The party starts off in the town of Last Rest (point A on figure 1.0), looking for work. Perhaps the party knows each other, or perhaps they're all total strangers. Regardless, they're all in the town hall, just before dawn, awaiting the arrival of the town clerk who arranges the bounties.
The town has a bounty board where odd jobs that need doing around town are posted. These are usually small tasks for regular laborers, like moving furniture or shipments, or maybe building a fence or raising a barn or what have you. Though every once and awhile a job requires an adventurer to say, kill some dire rats that have made a nest in town.
Needless to say, these bounties usually do not pay much, but just yesterday, an ominously vague bounty was posted with just the words: "ADVENTURERS WANTED - REWARD: 2,500 GOLD PIECES." This is an unheard of bounty for a town this size (a population of several dozen, at most), so the party is all eager to get a first crack at this.
The party waits awkwardly in the main hall of the building, introducing themselves if they wish (and assuming they don't already know each other). Before too long though, a dwarf carrying a bundle of scrolls under one arm barges into the hall, strides wordlessly across the room, then puts a key into a door and opens it before continuing through it. Just as he exits the room, without skipping a beat or even acknowledging the presence of the group, he calls out, "Get in here!"
This dwarf is Lineiros Glorygem, the town clerk and bounty officer. He is a gruff aging dwarf with a serious, but nonthreatening demeanor. He manages all of the bounties in the town, including collecting and dispensing the rewards from clients to contractors.
Once the group follows the dwarf, they see him climbing up to an oversized (to him) desk, at which point he puts away his scrolls and surveys the group. After a brief silence, he'll address the group, and lay out their quest:
I assume you're all here for the bounty posted last night? Good. So tell me, have you all heard of Mothvale?
At this point, any character who wishes may make an Intelligence (History) check to see what they know of this obscure little village (point B on figure 1.0):
- Below 10. The character has perhaps heard of the place, but doesn't know anything specific about it.
- 10-14. The character has heard of the village of Mothvale, and they know its general location up in the mountains, but not much else.
- 15-19. The character knows that it is a remote village with a small population, and that it is primarily a logging village.
- 20 and above. The character has perhaps been to Mothvale at least once before, and knows that it is a tiny logging village up in the mountains to the Southeast, and that living up their is rough, but rewarding thanks to the valuable "ironwood" trees they harvest.
Mothvale is a tiny village up in the mountains to the Southeast. They harvest a species of tree called "ironwoods" up there, and for that we rely on them for lumber and commerce.
Well, we normally get a caravan down from there at least once a week or so, and now we haven't heard from them in almost three weeks. What's more, we haven't seen anyone come down from those hills in about as long. We sent a group of scouts and rangers up there last week, to check on what's going on up there and to find out if they needed any help, but now they haven't come back either!
I need you all to go up there together and find out just what the heck is goin' on, and help out in any way you can. Find the mayor of Mothvale, and ask him what help you can give him, then get him to write me a report of the situation, which he'll seal with his signet ring, so I'll know it's genuine, and bring the report back to me. Then you'll get your pay.
Now the group can ask further questions if they wish, or can choose to leave the town hall. The time is still early morning -- just about dawn -- so the party can choose to take time to stock up and buy supplies if they wish. The town is small, so magical items and certain rarer goods will likely not be found here, but basic supplies like adventuring gear and basic potions are readily available.
The journey to Mothvale takes 2-3 days by horse (with which the party may be able to persuade Lineiros to accommodate the group), and while the path starts out on the large and well-traveled Autumn Road to start, after about a day's travel, it then branches off onto a much smaller road. This much smaller dirt trail winds up a fairly steep grade, slowing future progress as the group continues up into the thick, silent forest above them.
The first night of the journey will most likely take place at or near the fork in the path, so resting there should be fairly safe and free of chance creature encounters (depending on your own GM preferences). The second and, if necessary, third nights however are spent in the thick of the alpine woods of the cold hills. If you wish, roll for chance encounters with forest wildlife. The creatures encountered on average will be somewhat hardier and therefore more difficult than those found in lighter forests, as this climate and terrain hardens the creatures who live within it.
I personally will usually increase or decrease the odds of dangerous encounters based on what kind of and how much preparation the party describes when prompted on how they would like to set camp.
As the party persists further and further up the mountain, a thin fog begins to roll out from between the trees. Nothing unusual at first, just a standard fog from the cold, wet hills. However, as the group inches ever closer to Mothvale, the fog gets increasingly thicker -- to the point where, just a few miles outside the village, visibility is cut to about 30 feet. And it is at that point that the party encounters their first sign of something amiss.
The party notices a set of carriage tracks leading off the road here, directly into the forest. Any character who wishes to can make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check on the tracks:
- Below 12. The tracks seemed to be following the road, then for some reason, immediately veered off into the woods.
- 12-16. Just before the tracks veer off, they begin to kick up more dirt, seeming to indicate that the carriage sped up just before heading off the road.
- 17-21. The wheels seem to have turned into the woods at a high rate of speed, indicating they were likely being chased by something.
- 22 and above. The character also notices a number of humanoid tracks along the side of the road around where the wheels picked up speed, indicating there was likely some sort of ambush.
If the party ignores the tracks and follows the road as planned, they reach Mothvale after another couple miles.
If the party follows the tracks into the woods, they find the crashed remains of a carriage just outside the range of view from the road that fog allows. The carriage carries the town crest of Last Rest, indicating that this was most likely the group sent ahead of the party.
Any character that approaches the carriage can make an Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check to examine the wreckage:
- Below 10. The stage coach is wrecked up against a large tree. One of its wheels it broken, and the yoke attaching the horses has snapped, freeing them to run off into the woods. The far door of the stage coach is open, and a fairly obvious blood trail leads out from it.
- 10-14. The upholstery within the stage coach was clearly torn after the wreck, and the blood stains mar the fabric.
- 15-19. The tears in the fabric not only indicate some kind of struggle, but it appears that the tears near the top of the partially upturned coach were made by someone grasping onto the seat, while the ones near the bottom were made by raking claws.
- 20 or above. Underneath the partially torn seat, the character finds a secret stowage compartment containing a sack filled with 3d4 * 10gp, as well as two leather pouches, each containing four sunrods.
ItsADnDMonsternow Presents: ItsADnDItemNow
wondrous item, common
A sunrod is a small metal rod less about 9 inches in length inscribed with the symbol of the sun, and it is an alchemical device used to safely illuminate one's surroundings. By holding a sunrod aloft and using a bonus action to speak its command word, the sunrod activates and sheds light like a torch would for the next 1 hour, at which point it becomes an inert metal rod. An active sunrod generates no excess heat, and covering the rod smothers the light temporarily, until it is uncovered again.
Any characters that follow the trail of blood are led about 30 more feet to a space where the leaves are disturbed, indicating a struggle, and where they find a pile of viscera and broken bones, from which four smaller blood trails lead away. This seems to indicate that whomever was dragged from the coach was apparently torn apart and scattered, though the trail is now long since cold...