I found this quote by Amelia Earhart1 on BrainyQuote while trying to come up with a title for this post. It struck me as a perfect summation of what drives so many of us to sit around a table, or log in to a group video chat, on a regular basis. We like adventure for its own sake. Moreover, we like our adventure with a side of monsters and magic. In this installment of The Five Kingdoms campaign diary we will see what sort of adventure our heroes first encountered on their journey into legend.
Since I was a little rusty with the whole DM thing I decided to run a published adventure. With there only being the two of them, however, I didn’t want to throw them at Lost Mine of Phandelver right off. That module is designed for a party of 4 to 5 and has some rather challenging encounters. I needed something relatively soft to get them started. I also didn’t want anything too closely tied to the Forgotten Realms. I wanted to use my Five Kingdoms campaign world instead.
After a little searching around the DM’s Guild site, helpfully provided by the Wizards out West, I found the perfect starting adventure, Haven Cross: The Adventurers Guild. This great little module features a detailed town setting suitable for any campaign world and a quick little adventure. It also came with several maps I could display on a computer screen. Thus prepared I set the scene.
“You two have been travelling North to Haven Cross because you heard about the Adventurers Guild established there by Lord Nathaniel Haven and his two companions, William Wise and John Mercy. With the town being situated near the northern trade road and the presence of the Guild you reasoned that Haven Cross would potentially provide either some information about Tenzen’s lost love or a little income with which to continue the journey. Foraging for food is all well and good, but there are some things that require a little silver now and then.”
They approached the town and in short order were directed to “Old Bill’s Tower” to register with the Guild. Once there they saw a few other people, obviously adventuring types, in the front waiting area and three clerks sitting behind a half-wall that bisected the room. One of the clerks asked, “May I help you?” in a suitably bored and bureaucratic tone. Falconsight and Tenzen stepped up, introduced themselves, and affirmed that “Yes, we are here to join the Adventurers Guild.”
The clerk answered, “Of course you are.” in that same sleepy tone. (I tried to make it sound something like Droopy Dog.) 2 He pulled a large ledger across the counter and asked them to write their names and ages. (Part of the exceptional nature of D&D 5e heroes is that most of them can read and write. In earlier editions having an Intelligence score lower than 8, I think, meant you were illiterate. 5th Ed. did away with that stipulation.) The clerk read the names, commented on Tenzen’s age3, “A little old to be starting out aren’t you, sir?” then shrugged and called out over his shoulder, “Larry! Two more for you!”
At this point another clerkish type emerged from behind a desk and set up a little easel. I think I made these clerks hill dwarfs, but that may be just how I now envision them. In any case, “Larry” set up his easel, affixed a sheet of parchment to it, and pulled out a brush and pallette. He stared at Falconsight for a few heartbeats then began making a series of rapid, furious strokes on the parchment. swish, swish, swish In less than a minute he put his brush down and handed the parchment to Falconsight. It now had a near photographic likeness of the young man painted on it with his name and age rendered in calligraphic script beneath. He repeated the same routine with Tenzen. Larry packed up his easel and the first clerk instructed them to give their scrolls to Samuel Wyrmshadow in the training grounds across the street from the tower. “You’ll recognize him by that bright shiny armor he always wears.”
Thus dismissed, our heroes followed the given instructions and found Samuel in conversation with an officious type scribbling on a portable desk. They presented their scrolls and he smiled and welcomed them to Haven Cross. He then explained that he would now assess their skills so that they could be assigned appropriate quests. He further explained that after their evaluation they should return the scrolls to the tower where they would be assigned their first quest.
Falconsight went first and opted for some sword work. Samuel called out, “Oy! Gus!” And beckoned with his arm. A big meaty looking fellow lumbered over with a pair of practice longswords. In his hand the weapon looked more like a stiletto dagger. (Despite this description I simply used one of the provided stat blocks for the town guards that was a close approximation to Falconsight’s stats.) It was a competition to be the first to score three hits. The dice were against the ranger this time and Gus quickly scored his three.
“That’s alright, son,” Samuel said, “Let’s see what else you can do. You never know what kind of trouble will arise, and the guild can use warriors and diplomats alike.” Seeing the archery targets lined up in the distance, Falconsight drew his bow and deftly sunk three shafts near to dead center. (He rolled really well that time.) There was a smattering of applause from those gathered around the practice field. “That’s more like it. Good with a bow then. Excellent!” exclaimed Samuel while the official with the desk scribbled something on Falconsight’s scroll.
Tenzen went next and opted for a little hand-to-hand melee. Samuel called out again and a lithe young woman put down the staff she had been spinning around herself in increasingly complex patterns and stepped forward. She looked like a coiled spring and moved with easy grace. The two competitors faced one another and bowed. She was obviously trained in the ways of hand and foot. Samuel stood between them said, “This will also be a contest to be the first to strike their opponent three times. No killing blows, and no ki. Understood?” Both combatants nodded and Samuel stepped back. “Begin!”
A small crowd had formed by this time. New member testing was always entertaining. Tenzen and the girl circled each other and traded moves and counter moves, neither seeming able to penetrate the other’s defenses (Neither of us could roll high enough to hit anything for a while.) At last Tenzen was caught out of position and felt a blow to his back that made him grunt. A quick series of moves later and he scored a hit of his own. That was all he got, though. The nimble woman struck him twice more in quick succession.
There was more applause and she took Tenzen’s hand. “Well done.”
“Yes, well done, indeed,” Samuel said. Not too many have lasted so long against her.” The official made a notation on Tenzen’s scroll and handed it to him.
The two friends went back to the tower and presented their scrolls to the clerk they had spoken with before. He read the notations, made some of his own and went to the shelves in the back of the room where several scrolls and folios were stacked. After a few moment he made a selection and brought it forward. “Here we have a rather easy one to get you started. We have a client who needs this package taken to the alchemist who lives just North of here and to bring back the box he will give you in return. It’s about a two day trip out there. Here’s a map to help you find the place.” At which point he handed our heroes a small sealed package and a quickly sketched map.
With the sun already nearing the horizon it was too late to start their assignment; so, our heroes got rooms at the Drunken Horse Inn and settled in for the night. While enjoying quite possibly the most delicious meal either one of them had ever had they met and talked with other guild members. Tenzen asked if any of them had seen a chestnut haired girl with green eyes around. No one had. Eventually Tenzen and Falconsight went to their rooms and slept the night away.
Thus ended the session. Next time we will see if this milk run is really as easy as it seems.
- “Amelia Earhart.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2017. 26 February 2017. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/ameliaearh130007.html ↩
- If you don’t know who that is, go ask your parents. ↩
- Recall that Tenzen was punished with 20 years of isolation for falling in love. This puts him at close to 40 years old, which, in keeping with the medieval-esque setting typical of Fantasy RPG’s, puts him somewhat older than normal for someone just starting their adventuring career. ↩