Introductory One Shot Adventure to Scarterra Plot in Scarterra | World Anvil

Introductory One Shot Adventure to Scarterra

Set Up


My Intended Purpose

  I have very painstakingly created a detailed fantasy world I called Scarterra and a homebrew RPG system I call "Scarterra D10" from the ground up. All my playtesting has been with friends I have been playing RPGs with for over 20 years and we really loved D&D d20 system and White Wolf d10 system, and in many ways Scarterra is a fusion of both systems.   My intent here is to create a relatively simple adventure to introduce new players who have never played with me before to see if "Scarterra D10" is a viable system for people who don't know me or Scarterra that well.   Links to my RPG rules  
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At it's core, every character trait has a dot rating such and each dot translates into a single d10 die. So a character with Dexterity ●●● and Melee ●● would roll five ten-sided dice to attack. A character with Charisma ●●● and Expression ● would roll roll four ten sided dice to try to persuade people, etc.   All the RPG rules can be found here, and anyone is welcome to read any and all of thesea articles, but the basics a player needs to know for this one-shot is the Golden Rule, Basic Dice Rules, basic combat overview, and Willpower rules.   A game master should probably familarize himself or herself with Simple Combat Intiative, and Cinematic Combat Rounds. The main villain relies on Spirit Magic so reviewing the rules for that magic and Basic Divine Rules would be needed.   I would be happy to answer any and all questions for people who want to try to give this scenario a go.

Adventure Synopsis

  The plot is nice and simple: An evil villain is kidnapping children and the PCs must heroically rescue them.   Act One is investigating for clues, mainly by talking to NPCs for role playing and getting the players used to basic dice rolls.   Act Two is tracking the villains and their victims into the wilderness.   Act Three is fighting the villain and his pet monster before he can feed the children to said pet monster. Heavy combat.   If this is a one shot in three sessions, each act should be it's own session. If this one-shot is to be played in two sessions, then the first session should be Act 1 and Act 2 while the second session is Act 3 and wrap up. If the adventure needs to be squeezed into one session, than Act 2 should be very short and resolved with a couple tracking rolls and that's it.    

What you Need to Play

    You need lots of ten sided dice or "D10"s or a computer program that can simulate rolling d10s that can separate rolls of "1". Ten dice is a good number.   Then you need to pick a character.   This campaign is intended for 3-5 player characters, but I have many characters to choose from. A lot of the characters have overlapping abilities because I don't want any character to be forced to sit out on the sidelines while the other characters are doing stuff.   I have nine player characters to choose from. The first six of them are designed to be as straight forward as possible to accommodate newbies to this game system.   The other three are a bit more complex in that they have supernatural powers (albeit relatively straight forward powers). It is recommended that if someone wants to play one of the latter three, they have some experience playing White Wolf d10 games but they didn't know anything about Scarterra. Also,you would need to read the relevant articles links explaining on how to use your magic abilities.   All these characters were created with Character Creation rules for plucky youths with great promise (with 20 freebie points). Players who would prefer to make their own characters are free to do so with the same rules if they don't want to use a premade character.   All the characters are basically good hearted people that are sort of looking out for themselves. It is assumed that they will accept a hired job for relatively low pay if it's for a good cause.   Simple Characters (mundane abilities only)  
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by Me with Hero Forge
Alsorin, charming expatriate imperial elf swordsmen   Primary skill, sword fighting.   Secondary Skill, talking to people   Tertiary skill, wilderness survival
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Bahlnur Bristlebranch, kind hearted dwarf ranger   Primary skill, wilderness survival.   Secondary skill, archery   Tertiary skill, hitting enemies with an axe
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Fennella, thief and archer with heart of gold   Primary Skill, stealth   Secondary Skill, archery   Tertiary Skill, talking to people
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Geelak the tengku herbalist for those brave enough to play a nerd that can barely hold the right end of a sword   Primary skill, wilderness survival   Secondary Skill, being very perceptive   Tertiary Skill, talking to people
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Luvon the pious satyr warrior   Primary Skill, hitting things so that they fall down   Secondary Skill, archery   Tertiary Skill, general athleticism
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Sontar the former slave turned warrior   Primary Skill, hitting enemies with an axe   Secondary Skill, being very perceptive   Tertiary Skill, wilderness survival
  Advanced Characters (some magical or supernatural ability)  
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by Me with Hero Forge
Bertram the wizard   Primary Skill: Being very perceptive (helped with a bit of magic)   Secondary Skill: Casting Defensive protection for self and allies   Tertiary Skill: Talking to people   If you want to play Bertram you need to at least skim Basic Arcane casting Rules and the descriptions for the spells you have under Divination Spell Descriptions and Abjuration Spell Descriptions though most are relatively self-explanatory.  
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Demid, a good person who's life was changed by being a ghost magnet   Primary Skill, instantly becoming a temporary expert at ANYTHING   Secondary Skill, talking to people   Tertiary Skill, sword fighting   If you want to play Demid, you should read the Spirit Loa Rules. Because a Spirit Loa can sample all abilities but only a limited number of times per day, it is recommended that you look over the Ability Descriptions thoroughly and ask the Game Master for clarification on what abilities do what.
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Lorna, warrior priestess and neophyte spell caster   Primary Skill, magical buff spells for herself and allies   Secondary Skill, wilderness survival   Tertiary Skill, sword fighting   You should read Augmentation ● and ●● descriptions and Crafts ● description. And of course Basic Divine Magic Rules.
    Players completely new to the my game system, should read this article Basic Dice Rules and Willpower rules.   That is all you need to read. I have lots of rules based articles on my Scarterra wiki, but they are mostly intended as a Game Master reference. As game master I feel qualified to guide a new player through the rest to learn by doing though by all means, if someone wants to read up on more rules articles ahead of time, that's great but not required.   If you want to read what your character's stats mean in narrative terms, Attribute Descriptions and Ability Descriptions are highly recommended.    

Act One, The Town Part of the Adventure


Setting Introduction and Exposition

  The Border Baronies Region is a mountainous region that is a metaphysical magnet for the elemental energy of water meaning that despite being so far inland and mountainous, the area has a lot of lakes, rivers, streams, and underground wells and fairly heavy rain and snowfall.   The rough terrain is not conducive to farming except for a few small spots that are very conducive to farming that are veritable islands of civilization. Each of these spots has a small independent nation governing it, and these little nations are collectively called the Border Baronies.  
The player characters are in spot #15 of this map, known as the Barony of Bees.   The Barony of the Bees is home to some localized flowers that grow nowhere else, and as one would guess from the name, the region has a lot of bees. Honey, mead, and beeswax are the main exports, but the region has very fertile cropland and a scattering of rare wild plants that can be turned into reagents for potion ingredients making the region one of the richer Border Baronies. The player characters will start in the small town that serves as the Barony of Bee's center of government, nicknamed "The Hive".
.   About 90% of the non-insect inhabits of the Barony of Bees are humans, about 5% satyrs, and about 5% miscellaneous including gnomes, tengku, dwarves, elves, Half-human hybrids, and maybe a kalazotz or two that are flying in to buy some honey.   It is spring so things here are buzzing here (PUN!), the Beltaine, Spring Fertility Festival is a big deal here and it just came and went. Normally only a small fraction of the Barony's inhabitants live in "the Hive" but due to the Beltaine festival, a lot of farmers from the outlying villages opted to visit. Even a few people from other Border Baronies are here playing tourist, that could easily explain why some/most/all of the PCs happen to be in the area.   A merchant's ten year old daughter, Malvina, disappeared over the event and the merchant wants to find her badly but he's not getting much help from the local government. The local BBBBBaroness of the Barony of the Bees over indulged as did many of her men, so they are nursing hangovers.   Also, some Fair Folk showed up and tried to seduce some locals and/or cause some general mischief so a lot of people are dealing with the fall out of that. It is possible that the Fair Folk took the merchant's daughter, but this is out of character. They don't normally engage in kidnapping outright and they generally prefer to mess with young adults, not children.   The local Baroness and her men promised to go looking for the missing the girl, but they are clearly not making it a priority, so the merchant turned to asking for freelance adventures to help him and offering 200 silver pieces if they can help find her. A relatively small reward when split three or four ways but the player characters are good hearted people that are predisposed to want to find a missing girl. The monetary rewards is just a bit of icing on the cake.  

Investigative Pursuit

  HOW the PCs can get information  
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The player characters can ask around to see if anyone saw anything suspicious. PCs can roll Charisma + Investigation, with a potential bonus if they have the "Scuttlebutt" specialty, difficulty 6. If some reason they players want to ask around but not be obvious about it, PCs can roll Manipulation + Investigation, difficulty 7.     If a PC wants to go physially looking for clues, he or she can roll Perception + Investigation (specialization "searches"), difficulty 8. The difficulty is high because the trail is getting cold.   If a PC thinks several people should go looking, PCs can try to get locals to help physically look for the missing girl. Manipulation + Expression with a potential bonus if they have the "persuasion" specialty, difficulty 6 or Manipulation + Ettiquette with a potential bonus for the "Borderlanders" specialty.     PCs can try to piece together if the Fair Folk or any other local supernatural forces are apt to take children. Roll Intelligence + Hearth Wisdom, difficulty 7.     PCs can try to compare this disappearance to other missing children in the past. Roll Intelligence + History difficulty 7, with a potentail bonus for "Borderlands".     PCs can try to figure out if any criminal or fringe faction might abduct children. Roll Intelligence + Politics with a potential bonus for "Borderlands speciality", difficulty 7.     PCs can try to figure out "Where would I wander off to if I was a little girl" Roll Intelligence + Empathy, difficulty 8.     PCs can try to question the local children for clues to where Malvina went, Charsima + Empathy difficulty 7.     If one of the player characters is Demid the Reluctant Loa Hero, He can roll Charisma + Spirit Loa difficulty 7 to see if any of the local restless dead saw anything. Ghosts are usually invisible and can travel anywhere so they can certainly see things, but many are too self centered to notice or care about abducted children.   Another note for Demid, as a folk hero, he gets -1 difficulty on any rolls asking local living people for help.     If Bertram the wizard is in the party, he might want to use his Detect Magic spell to catch the kidnappers' magical trail. Two problems, first the players are not sure whether or not the kidnappers used magic in their kidnapping or even if they are spell casters at all.   Second, the recent Beltaine festival means that a lot of spells were cast in and around the Hive so there are lots of false magic trails because a lot of magical entertainers were casting illusion and other beign spells in many places. Bertram can roll try to find the kidnappers magical trail after casting Detect Magic and rolling Perception + Investigation difficulty 9 (difficulty 8, if he scored three or more successes with Detect Magic).   Of course the players can come up with their own unique means of looking for clues and a wise game master will reward player intiative. The The Golden Rule of Dramatic Dice Systems applies, when in doubt, pick an attribute + ability combination and a difficulty and then roll it.
  Information the PCs MUST find out  
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The villains took Malvina and the other kidnapped children into the wilderness north of the Barony of Bees. If the PCs don't figure this out, Act 2 cannot happen. Fortunately, there are many ways the PCs can organically come upon this information.   -If the PCs capture Kincaid (mentioned in the sidebar), then Kincaid can turn stool pigeon and tell the PCs Arsenio went north. If the PCs kill Kincaid, they can find a note mentioning going to the cave north of the Barony.   -If the PCs capture one of the hired thugs (mentioned below in the thread), one of the hired thugs could have heard a cave to the north mentioned in passing.   -If the PCs question people, someone can have seen a suspicious hooded man entering and exiting from the northern frontier.   -If the PCs make a successful physical search, they can find clothing fragments or a discarded toy suggesting a trail in a northerly direction. Or they can pick up signs of children being dragged going north, or they can find giant pole cat tracks going north of town.   -If the PCs pick up a magical trail of Arsenio's summoned spirits, they can tell the trail is heading north.   -If the PCs talk to rangers or outdoorsmen or check the wilderness themselves they can either hear about animals fleeing out of the north or see it for themselves.
  Information the PCs SHOULD find out  
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The Fair Folk are a red herring. The locals can tell the PCs that it's uncharacteristic of the local Fair Folk to bother children or do violence as overt as kidnapping against anyone. If the PCs find a fae expert or one of the PCs gets a very good Hearth Wisdom roll, the PCs can know or learn that the Fair Folk literally cannot harm a child on or near Beltaine even if they wanted to because of ancient metaphysical laws that take effect on Beltaine.   Two other children other than Malvina are missing, children of poor people who's parents don't have 200 gold to offer for their safe return. A boy named Carrick and a girl named Gizela. It is not hard to find this out because their parents are out asking around for help or looking for clues themselves.
  Information the PCs MIGHT find out  
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The most likely group responsible for the missing children are the hardcore worshipers of Greymoria, ironically they call themselves the Children of the Dark Morther, or simply the Children. There are other villainous forces out there, but Greymoria's Children followers have a track record for sacrificing actual children.   There have been two odd strangers in town the last week or so, Kincaid and Arsenio, more than a few locals can describe them but few have learned their names. The hired thugs know Kincaid's name at least. If the PCs roll marginally well on their investigations, they find out about Kincaid's existance, if they roll very well, they can find Kincaid himself.   Arsenio is a talented spirit summoner. They might find physical mystical evidence pointing towards this or a local could have glimpsed a raven or polecat of unusual size and coloration. Greymoria's most common animal spirits are ravens and polecats.   The bees seem to have been acting odd and suffering more depradations of spiders. Once a generation, give or take, the area has suffered the depradations of spider monsters. Some fear the surge in normal spiders is a sign of greater spider menace on the horizon, others say it's a baseless old wives' tale. Spiders are loosely associated with Greymoria. This could at least tip off the PCs to except some kind of spider monster.

The villains fight back...sort of

  At some point the PCs are close enough to learning to what is going on that the bad guys are apt to become concerned. Kincaid, the villain's sidekick, eventually becomes aware of them and is going to try to stop the PCs (without risking his own neck of course). It is pretty easy to hire lowlife goons in the Borderlands, but it is not easy to hire competant lowlife goons.   Either the thugs attack just as the PCs are about to head north out of town, the thugs attack the PCs halfway through their investigations, or if the PCs are closing in on Kincaid very fast, they find Kincaid with the thugs he just hired and he yells them "kill them all!" in response.   The combat encounter is intended to be pretty easy, the whole point is to get the players familar with the combat mechanics in a low risk environment, so when they have the big fight later, it won't be so daunting. The number of goons should be X+2, where X = the number of player characters.   The hired thugs do not want to fight to death and they will surrender or attempt to flee if and when it becomes obvious that they are outmatched.   If captured, they can give the PCs additional clues if a PCs rolls well on Charisma + Intimidation or comes with an unorthodox way to trick them though the villain made sure not to tell them too much though the thugs are happy to sell out Kincaid and if the PCs catch Kincaid, he will sell out his master   Lowlife Thugs: Four dice combat pools, four dice Dex + Stealth pools, three dice Perception + Alertness pools   light armor (3 soak dice), armed with clubs (5 dice of damage difficulty 6) with daggers as back up weapons (4 dice of damage difficulty 6 attack, 7 parry).   The PCs might be able to find Kincaid and kill or capture him and they might be able to interrogate him for clues, or loot his corpse and find clues. That said, the story can progress whether or not the PCs ever meet Kincaid (see sidebar for details). If the PCs start on the main villain's trail in Act Two and Kincaid is not eliminated, Kincaid is too much of a coward to go after them in the wilderness and he has no realistic means to pass a message on to his master.  

Act Two: Trekking through the Wilderness

  The PCs have to track down the bad guys before they can sacrifice the children. This lets the more wilderness oriented characters a chance to shine.   Most of the Player Characters probably own a riding horse, but for simplicity I am saying that the terrain is too rough for horses forcing the characters to go on foot for this part of the adventure (this saves the hassle of a bunch of riding checks to not have a horse get spooked or break a leg in the wilderness).   Maybe the bad guys have traps or minions to waylay the PCs. Maybe the PCs have to deal with some natural hazards.   Also, it's a one shot and time constraints are an issue. Is this a one-shot being played in one session? Then Act Two should be made fairly short. If this is a one-shot played in two sessions than Act Two can be elongated a bit.   If the PCs got through Act 1 very fast, than the game master can add more obstacles here. If Act 1 took longer than expected, than Act 2 should have relatively few obstacles.   Ultimately the meat and potates is using Perception + Survival rolls (specialty "mountains" or "tracking"). If one character takes on the task, he or she can roll against difficulty 6. If everyone wants to work together, there is a risk of "too many cooks in the kitchen" pushing the difficulty to 7 but letting all the successes be pooled.   If the roll is a fail, the story has to go on. The PCs pick up the right trail eventually, but the villain catches wind of what they are doing and sets some traps. The PCs still find the bad guys but have to disarm or just power through some traps or alternatively stages an attack on their camp at night (they left a watch right?).   If the PCs roll mediocre, they find the bad guys. Roll Intiative and let Phase Three begin.   If the PCs roll very well, they can not only find the bad guys, but catch them by surprise, getting at least one surprise round or letting one of the PCs sneak the kids out of harm's way completely before swords and axes come out.   Of course a few dry dice rolls to see how well the PCs track their quarry is a little dull by itself, so unless your RPG session is short on time, the GM can and probably should one or more complications into tracking effort. You don't want to use all of them though, that would be excessive and probably annoy the players.   If one of the player characters sort of felt left out in Act 1, I highly recommend choosing Act 2 obstacles that that play to that character's area of expertise, so they can have a chance to shine.   The PCs (and the players) should always feel like they are on the clock. They don't know the spider is not in a hurry or that its waking up from hibernation but even then, they don't have infinite time. The PCs are trying to save three kids, but if they are too slow in their tracking and pursuit they might end up rescuing two kids...or one.  

Tiny animals

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The monster that the villain is trying to wake up is a giant spider. Smaller spiders are also becoming more aggressive and more hungry in the area. The most prevailent insect in this region of course is bees. Perceptive PCs schooled in Hearth Wisdom and/or Animal Ken noticing a lot of spiders and bees fighting along their trail, and this can foreshadow their own upcoming battle.   The Borderlands doesn't have many small spiders capable of harming a human but with the bees in a state of agitation, they far more likely to sting the PCs. The PCs need to roll Wits + Animal Ken difficulty 6 to avoid getting stung repeatedly. Getting stung once or twice won't really matter. Failure on the Animal Ken roll means the character needs to make a difficulty 7 Stamina save to avoid swelling up or otherwise be impaired by bee venom, enough to get a one-die penalty on all actions for hours.   Another PC can try to create and administer a salve to greatly expedite healing the bee stings of a companion with a Intelligence + Hearth Wisdom, difficulty 7 or Intelligence + Medicine, difficulty 6 roll. +1 difficulty if the healer is trying to treat his or her own stings.

Larger Animals

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Magical beasts in Scarterra sometimes blend in seamlessly with the mundane beasts of the area, but this is not one of those times, the awakening of a giant spider is disruptive.   Animals are going to flee the spider's vicinity and these panicky spooked animals may or may not get in the PCs way or even try to bite and kick them. Even if the animals don't directly get in the PCs way, but they will certainly be noticed, at least by outdoorsy characters who have a baseline for what normal animal behavior looks like.   First they are likely to see small birds, hares, and other small panicky animals fleeing from the monster's direction. Then they will start noticing deer and mountain goats trying to get away, and finally predators.   If you need stats for anything, check out the link "Common Beasts of the Borderlands Region".   If you really want to make the PCs lives' difficult, you can have them face a Swarm of some sort.

Feral Elemental

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  Repeated magic use in a single area or pooling of random magic surges will spawn temporary elementals. Given that the PCs are chasing a spell caster fond of summoning, he might accidentally leave one or more rogue elementals in his wake. Most feral elementals are not malevolent but they are curious and playful and their idea of "play" is often rather rough on mortals.   The PCs can disperse the water elemental by hitting it with weapons repeatedly. Or they can take advantage of a water elementals low attention span and distract it and simple evade it. The elemental is not likely to pursue the PCs far from the river banks.   River crossings often make tracking difficult, but it can be more difficult with a feral water elemental because a water elemental is sloshing over some of the tracks, requiring the tracker and/or tracker(s) to make a second roll to re-locate the trail.   Alternatively, if Bertram the wizard is in the party, he can use his Detect Magic spell to trace the residual magic trail left by the villain that accidentally conjured the water elemental in the first place. As good as a sign post.   Feral Water Elemental RPG Stats   Willpower 4, Lethal Soak 5   Dexterity 5, Strength 4, Stamina 5, Appearance 1, Charisma 1, Manipulation 1, Intelligence 1, Perception 3, Wits 3   Abilities: Alertness 1, Athletics 3, Brawl 2, Dodge 4, Intimidation 2, Stealth 2   -Water elementals a -3 difficulty break on stealth when hiding in bodies of water. They get a -1 difficulty break hiding in wet areas on land such as muddy holes.   -A target grappled by a water elemental begins to drown.   -All water elementals inflict lethal damage with their brawling attacks.   Health Levels: OK, OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -1, -3, -3 Destroyed

Wide River Crossing

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Oregon Trail Screenshot by You have died of dysentary
  A wide river crossing isn't going to threaten the PCs lives or limbs (unless the Game Master is being evil and combines this obstacle with the feral elemental encounter listed above), but it could cause delays if not handled well and a delay could result in the kids they are trying to rescue being eaten.   If the characters want to cross the river with all their gear, they are probably going to have take multiple trips. Otherwise, a raft can let them all the people and gear across in one go but takes time to construct.   Swimming across takes a Strength + Athletics roll. The difficulty varies on what the character is carrying.   Difficulty 4 if the character is just wearing enough clothes to not be naked.   Difficulty 5 if the character is wearing normal clothes and carrying a few light things like a coil of rope and/or a hand axe.   Difficulty 6 if the PC is carrying about half of their normal kit.   Difficulty 7 if they are carrying their normal full kit.   Difficulty 8 if they are carrying more than normal kit (or they are carrying another person).   Wearing Light armor adds +1 difficulty to the swimming roll, and wearing medium armor adds +2 difficulty to the roll. Most seasoned adventurers will remove their armor and either stow it in their pack or carry it above their heads while crossing the river.   The villain made a simple raft and put the kids on it. The PCs can swim across and grab his raft. Arsensio crudely damaged his raft as a precaution against pursuers but it would be easier to repair his raft than build a new raft from scratch.   Building a new raft requires 20 success on an Intelligence + Survival roll, difficulty 6 for the PC acting project leader and difficulty 7 for any other PCs helping pool successes. Each roll takes about 20 minutes of effort. Repairing the old raft requires 10 successes, assuming the repair team swims to the other side and is carrying some basic tools.   It is a coin flip whether building a raft will be faster than swimming across. Swimming across takes between ten and thirty minutes depending on how well the character rolled with their swimming.   Characters can try to rig a zipline. Only one character needs to swim across in this case carrying a rope. Ziplines can move both people and gear   Whichever character is swimming across can roll Intelligence + Survival difficulty 8 (and this assumes the other characters are providing some minor assistance sans dice rolling). This is potentially much quicker way to get across with all the characters gear but if something goes wrong, gear can be dropped and lost in the river or someone can fall and become injured which will either slow down further pursuit or force the group to expend a healing potion before the big fight.

Spanning a Chasm

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At some point, the PCs need to deal with a chasm in their path. There are many options to deal with this obstacle.   Go around   They can go the long way around (Intelligence + Survival, difficulty 5 to find a good route). This is safe but it will add many hours to their effort and risk losing the trail (roll Perception + Survival to recapture the trail).   jumping   Characters can jump the chasm. It is about 12 feet at the narrowest point. To jump across, a character roll Strength + Athletics difficulty 4, you need three successes on the roll or you fall, taking 5 levels of lethal damage, amor soak value is halved. Not enough to kill an adventurer, but enough to slow him or her down a lot or force someone to drink a hard to replace healing potion.   The difficulty 4 assumes the character is carrying minimal gear while jumping and is either throwing their gear across or using a rope system...speaking of which.   Zipline or other rope system across the chasm   If you want to use rope to span the chasm, only one person needs to physically jump the chasm. Assuming that person makes the jump carrying a length of rope, they need to roll Intelligence + Survival difficulty 6 to properly secure their end (and someone on the otherside needs to secure their end unless the jumper ties the rope and then jumps across with it).   Climbing across the rope with minimal gear is Strength + Athletics difficulty 5. A failure means there is a delay (though it's still probably quicker than climbing down and up the ravine), a botch means the person falls.   Or, instead of climbing, the characters can try to rig a zipline or pulley system to move people and gear across with less muscle power. If there is a basic rope across the chasm, one character needs to roll Intelligence + Survival difficulty 7 to rig something up. A failure probably results in dropped equipment while a botch probably results in a person falling.   Climbing   A character can climb down one side of the chasm, walk across the gap and climb up the other side. This is much faster than going around and moderately safer than trying to jump the chasm.   Climbing down is Strength + Athletics difficulty 3 with a secured rope, difficulty 5 with no rope. Climbing up is difficulty 5 with a secured rope, difficulty 7 without it. Assuming a light gear load.   Add +1 or +2 to the difficulty if the character is carrying a fairly heavy load of gear and/or climbs while wearing medium armor.   Mix and Match   Not everyone has to use the same method to cross the chasm. The best way to combine speed and safety is probably to have the group's best athlete jump the chasm while carrying a coil of rope and secure a line to let the other party members climb up relatively easily.


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Arsensio, the main villain knows a little bit about setting mantraps...not great traps but adequate traps. The base story assumption is that Arsensio is focused on speed on stealth, but at the Game Master's discretion, he could have set some traps for would-be pursuers.   In this case, if the PCs are traveling single file, whoever is on point (presumably the person with the best tracking dice pool) needs to periodically needs to roll Perception + Alertness 6 or trigger some kind of trap. At the Game Master's discretion, occasionally due to dumb luck, a trap will hit the second or third person and not the point person.   The traps are not lethal, but they can easily slow down the PCs and/or cause them to eat through their healing potions early.   If Fennella is in the party, she can detect traps with Perception + Alertness difficulty 5, and she can disarm these simple traps with Intelligence + Disable Device rolls, difficulty 4.   Spike with Feces Smeared on it   3 dice of lethal damage, plus a difficulty 7 Stamina save to avoid taking a point of Attribute Damage, difficulty 5 save if a healer addresses and cleans the wound immediately (Wits + Medicine difficulty 6, or Wits + Hearth Wisdom, difficulty 7). +1 difficulty if the healer is administer his/her own wounds.   Rocks falling   Unless the group is widely spaced apart, everyone needs to roll Wits + Dodge, difficulty 7 roll and score a success, or take six dice of bashing damage, soakable normally.   Pitfall   Arsensio is not good at traps to make hidden traps that can send a PC down a lethal chasm, but he can make traps that send PCs tumbling down a rocky slope painfully.   Triggering person needs to roll Wits + Athletics difficulty 8 and score a success or suffer six dice of bashing damage (soakable normally), and then likely have to climb back up to get back on the trail (Strength + Athletics difficulty 6, difficulty 4 if the PCs allies rig a rope harness or something similar (Dexterity + Survival difficulty 6).

Act Three

  The PCs confront the villain and the villain's pet monster and hopefully save the children. The monster is the sort to sleep a long, but whether the PCs take one day or several days to find the villains, the monster is just now waking up when the PCs get there because, you know, plot.   If the PCs navigated the obstacles well up to this point and/or gathered a lot of information, they could catch the villain by surprise. If they kind of blundered through, the villain might attack the PCs enroute, attacking at night when the PCs are bunkered down for the night (they did set a night watch schedule right?).   Unless Arsenio somehow manages to turn the table on the PCs, assume the PCs catch up to him in a small forest clearing with the children tied to some trees with ropes and the spider monster sleeping in a small cave nearby.   If the PCs get the children away and evade the bad guys, that is a qualified victory.   If the PCs kill the monster and the villain while saving the children, that is a decisive victory.   The PCs don't have to kill the villain and the monster to win, they just need to save the children. Though I suppose the PCs can kill the villains and fail to save the children. That's a phyric victory.   If the PCs are clever with and manage to get the children to safety and annoy the spider monster, they might be able to goad the monster into eating the Arsenio in retribution for wasting his time. That's a moral victory.  
by Me using Hero Forge
  Arsenio the villain is going to keep his distance and rely on summoned fighting spirits. He will keep summoning spirits until he hits his summon limit (his Wits score) or he runs out of mana. He prefers to summon spirit ravens for their mobility, but if enemies are charging him in melee, he will summon spirit polecats to be his meat shields. Stats for his ravens and polecats are found in the side bar of Common Fighting Spirits.   Note, Arsenio is lazy and often summons spirits to perform manual labor tasks he can do himself. If the Game Master wants to make the encounter a little easier, he could have Arsenio start out with 5 to 10 fewer points of Mana at the start of the fight. This will make a Rope-A-Dope tactic viable for the PCs though in my experience very few players like opt to try this.   If the spider monster is killed or driven off, Arsenio will try to flee if he is still alive.   If one or more of the PCs is attacking him specifically, he will send his minions to attack those PCs. If no one is threatening him directly, he will prioritize eliminating the enemy archers. Even if charged, he will fight defensively parrying as much as he can while prioritizing his summoning.   If he's knocked unconscious or killed, his spirit minions will disappear quickly.   The spider monster will prioritize attacking the PCs that are attacking it. If no PC is clearly the immediate threat, the monster will prioritize attacking spellcasters or those carrying a battle axe. Due to it's large size (slightly bigger than a Clydesdale horse with extra legs), melee and ranged attacks against the spider monster are -1 difficulty to hit.   If one or more PCs engages the spider monster, the spider monster is large enough that an archer can take shots at the spider with minimal chance of hitting an ally (just don't botch). In this case, the -1 difficulty modifier to hit the spider cancels out with the +1 difficulty modifier for shooting into melee.   The spider monster can weave decent webbing but not fast enough or in large enough quantities to weaponize its webbing in combat.   The spider monster can talk, and is fluent in many languages including Common, Draconic, Grauen, and Elven. The thing is, he's not very chatty normally, though he might issue a taunt or two if it looks like he is winning the battle. The spider has no illusions about being given quarter if the battle turns against him and he is too proud to grovel or beg.   The spider monster will flee if it becomes obvious it is losing. It may try to grab a kid and then flee if it still has at least half of its health levels, otherwise it will just try to flee. The spider monster is indifferent to whether Arsenio lives or dies.   I adjusted the stats of the monster and villain based on how many PCs there are.   Easy Mode Fight (recommended for 3 PCs)  
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Arsenio Stats   Willpower 5 24 max mana points Dexterity 3, Strength 2, Stamina 3, Appearance 2, Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3     Abilities: Alertness 2, Animal Ken 2, Archery 2, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Commerce 1, Crafts 0, Dodge 2, Empathy 0, Enigmas 3, Etiquette 1, Expression 0, Hearth Wisdom 2, History 0, Intimidation 2, Investigation 1, Leadership 1, Legerdemain 1, Medicine 1, Melee 2, Performance 0, Politics 0, Ride 1, Sailing 0, Seneschal 0, Stealth 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 3, Theology 1   Merits: Divine Spellcaster   Divine Spheres: Spirit Magic 3, six dice casting pool   He has a five dice attack pool for melee, brawling, and ranged.   He wears light armor (3 dice soak), fights with a arming sword 5 dice base damage, back up dagger 4 dice base damage, 5 dice damage pool, and a light crossbow 5 dice base   He has one Healing 3 scroll.   Health: OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated   Spider Monster Stats   Willpower 5, 6 dice soak pool (H class)   Dexterity 4, Strength 5, Stamina 5, Appearance ("Inverse Appearance" 3, Charisma 1, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3   Abilities: Alertness 3, Animal Ken 3, Athletics 3, Brawl 3, Dodge 2, Intimidation 3, Investigation 1, Stealth 3, Subterfuge 1, Survival 4   Defensively it can try to dodge with 6 dice or parry with 7 dice.   It attacks with it's bite, which inflicts 7 dice of base damage. If any damage is unsoaked, the target than takes 7 dice of bashing damage, ignoring armor but not Stamina soak to represent it's poison.   Health: OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated
  Medium Mode Fight (recommended for 4 PCs)  
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Arsenio Stats   Willpower 5 27 max mana points Dexterity 3, Strength 2, Stamina 3, Appearance 2, Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3 Abilities: Alertness 2, Animal Ken 2, Archery 2, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Commerce 1, Crafts 0, Dodge 2, Empathy 0, Enigmas 3, Etiquette 1, Expression 0, Hearth Wisdom 2, History 0, Intimidation 2, Investigation 1, Leadership 1, Legerdemain 1, Medicine 1, Melee 2, Performance 0, Politics 0, Ride 1, Sailing 0, Seneschal 0, Stealth 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 3, Theology 1   Merits: Divine Spellcaster   Divine Spheres: Spirit Magic 4, six dice casting pool   He has a five dice attack pool for melee, brawling, and ranged.   He wears light armor (3 dice soak), fights with a arming sword 5 dice base damage, back up dagger 4 dice base damage, 5 dice damage pool, and a light crossbow 5 dice base   He has two Healing 3 scrolls.   Health: OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated   Spider Monster Stats   Willpower 5, 6 dice soak pool (H class)   Dexterity 4, Strength 5, Stamina 5, Appearance ("Inverse Appearance" 3, Charisma 1, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3   Abilities: Alertness 3, Animal Ken 3, Athletics 3, Brawl 3, Dodge 2, Intimidation 3, Investigation 1, Stealth 3, Subterfuge 1, Survival 4   Defensively it can try to dodge with 6 dice or parry with 7 dice.   It attacks with it's bite, which inflicts 7 dice of base damage. If any damage is unsoaked, the target than takes 7 dice of bashing damage, ignoring armor but not Stamina soak to represent it's poison.   Health: OK, OK, OK, OK, OK,-1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated
  Hard Mode Fight Stats (recommended for 5 PCs)  
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Arsenio Stats   Willpower 6 30 max mana points Dexterity 3, Strength 2, Stamina 3, Appearance 2, Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 4 Abilities: Alertness 2, Animal Ken 2, Archery 2, Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Commerce 1, Crafts 0, Dodge 2, Empathy 0, Enigmas 3, Etiquette 1, Expression 0, Hearth Wisdom 2, History 0, Intimidation 2, Investigation 1, Leadership 1, Legerdemain 1, Medicine 1, Melee 2, Performance 0, Politics 0, Ride 1, Sailing 0, Seneschal 0, Stealth 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 3, Theology 1   Merits: Divine Spellcaster   Divine Spheres: Spirit Magic 4, six dice casting pool   He has a five dice attack pool for melee, brawling, and ranged.   He wears light armor (3 dice soak), fights with a arming sword 5 dice base damage, back up dagger 4 dice base damage, 5 dice damage pool, and a light crossbow 5 dice base   He has three Healing 3 scrolls.   Health: OK, OK, OK, -1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated   Spider Monster Stats   Willpower 5, 7 dice soak pool (H class)   Dexterity 4, Strength 5, Stamina 5, Appearance ("Inverse Appearance" 3, Charisma 1, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3   Abilities: Alertness 3, Animal Ken 3, Athletics 3, Brawl 3, Dodge 2, Intimidation 3, Investigation 1, Stealth 3, Subterfuge 1, Survival 4   Defensively it can try to dodge with 6 dice or parry with 7 dice.   It attacks with it's bite, which inflicts 7 dice of base damage. If any damage is unsoaked, the target than takes 7 dice of bashing damage, ignoring armor but not Stamina soak to represent it's poison.   Health: OK, OK, OK, OK, OK,-1, -1, -2, -2, -3, -5, Incapacitated

Wrap Up

  Assuming they lived and the villain and monster are dead, it will not be hard to get the children safely back to their parents.   If the PCs rescue the children without slaying the monster, the spider monster will probably not pursue if the PCs scored a couple solid hits on it. The spider monster will seek out some animals to draw sustenance from and heal it's wounds, and seek living his best Monster Life somewhere far from the Barony of the Bees.   If the merchant gets his daughter back, he will pay the 200 silver coins he promised. If his daughter dies but the PCs save the other two children and/or kill Arsenio and the spider monster, he will give them 100 silver.   If the PCs capture Arsenio alive and bring him to the Barony of Bees to justice, the Baroness of the Bees will quickly sentence Arsenio to death, and publicly give the PCs a 50 silver each as a reward for "exemplary service to the Barony of Bees." Otherwise, if the PCs simply return the three children to their families, the Baroness' seneschal will give the PCs a pittance of 10 silver each but make a big show of it all the same.   Arsenio is carrying 193 silver pieces, 41 copper pieces on him, and 150 drams of reagents (market value 150 silver). Beyond this, he has a tent, bedroll, a bit of food, rope, a change of clothes, normal overland travel stuff.   Kincaid is only carrying 33 silver and 52 copper on him. If the PCs haven't already killed or captured him in Act One, the three rescued children can accurately describe him, and make it easy for the PCs and/or the Barony of Bees soldiers to apprehend him.


    My love of telling rich stories leads me to pad my stories with details, but an experienced game master knows that the time of a session is limited. Sometimes a session's end looms so a Game Master has to expedite parts of an RPG story.   Sometimes the PCs overcome a section of a story unusually quickly and a Game Master needs to pad things.   It is likely the Act Three final battle will take at least an hour to roll out with newbie players. Worst case scenario, Act Three would take two hours if you had newbie players and a first time Game Master.   Act One and Two are highly variable and need to be adjusted so there is plenty of time to run Act Three (but not too much time).   My favorite convention for this RPG is to roll the dice then try to gear the player and game master role playing to the dice roll. If the player rolled well, I'll give the player more time to carefully construct words and make the NPC more agreeable. If the player rolls poorly, it's fun to improv something stupid or rude the character blurts out. Not players like this sort of roleplaying, some live for it and others just want to get to the action.   Act One can be padded out by roleplaying and talking out conversations with the locals of the Hive. Act One can be expedited by hand waving all the roleplaying with a couple simple dice rolls. How fast this goes depends on how much time is available and how much the players enjoy this sort of roleplaying.   Act Two is more in the Game Master's hands for how fast it runs. Travel in the wilderness in the Borderland hill region is never guaranteed to be safe and easy, but a lot of player characters are wilderness experts, so it remains a question whether this will go smoothly or not. Just because all the local wildlife is acting zany because of the spider monster does not mean the local wildlife is going to attack the PCs just for walking by. The various optional complications can be toned down from "true obstacles" to "minor setting details that foreshadow the main fight" and you don't actually have to use the obstacles at all if you don't want to.   Act Two can be completed very quickly with a couple dice rolls or it can be padded out with multiple encounters and obstacles, depending on what sort of game the GM and players want and how much time is available.   Act Three is basically set in stone, though it can be sped up a bit by using the Easy Mode stats and making Willpower expenditures on the villains' parts rare.  

Optional Complication

  Bounty Hunters  
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Sontar is a former slave of Kahdisteria and his hands bear the tattoo of a slave. While no one is hunting him specifically, the dark elves will pay a bounty for people or corpses with those tattoos.   Fennella has a Kantoca crime lord posting a bounty on her head. She is not that far from Kantoc, so it is not implausible bounty hunters can track her to the Barony of Bees.   Bertram the wizard has a price on his head by the Kingdom of Uskala. He is geographically far removed from Uskala, but the price on his head is big enough that it's not impossible a bounty hunter could be after him. Also, if he lets slip he's a rogue Uskalan wizard, a well educated lowlife would know that all rogue Uskalan wizards have a big fat price on their head even without knowing his name.   If one of the characters is in the campaign and they are sloppy and reveal themselves, they might attract bounty hunters. Alternatively, if time is permitting and the game master wants to make things harder, a bounty hunter team can be sent is as a random encounter, either in Act One or Act Two (but doing in so in Act Three would needlessly complicated and unfair to the players).   Most Scarterran Bounty Hunters act in pairs.   In this case, a nice generic pair of bounty hunters can have on fight with arming sword (6 dice damage) and shield to occupy the target and another with a falchion (9 dice soft armor, 7 dice hard armor) to flank and go for the kill. Both are wearing medium armor, five soak dice.   Sample Bounty Hunter Pair Stats: Six dice combat pools, five dice Perception + Alertness pools, five dice Dexterity + Stealth pools.   If Kincaid can contact the bounty hunters, the bounty hunters can be swapped in for the "hired thugs" part making the encounter more difficult.

The Villains



by Me using Hero Forge
  Arsenio's backstory is not that different from many of the goddess' Greymoria. He felt alienated as a youth, with no real friends and rejected by all the girls he was interested in. He fell in with the wrong crowd and now seeks to use Greymoria's dogma and power as justification for striking back at a society that wronged him.   It doesn't help that he grew up in the Dragon Springs Barony with very harsh and strict parents that followed a militant and harsh version of Mera worship. Since Greymoria is Mera's chief rival, it seemed a natural fit for Arsenio to use Greymoria as a means of rebellion.   Arsenio is not strong enough to get away with causing trouble in Dragon Springs (where the soldiers are both competant and disciplined). He is hoping to amass power in the boonies and to befriend Greymoria affiliated monsters to join his spiteful crusade. That's when his research led him to a sleeping spider monster who offered to help him if Arsensio brought him some children to eat.   Arsenio's RPG stats are in the Act Three fight description.    


  Kincaid is another young man who fell into hardcore Greymoria worship as a result of feeling disinfrancised. The difference between Kincaid and Arsenio is that Kincaid is more pathetic and more cowardly, with a dash of perversion thrown in. Kincaid has little ambition beyond toadying to more forceful personalities that can promise him a taste of power and revenge.  
by Me with Hero Forge
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Willpower 5   Dexterity 2, Strength 2, Stamina 2, Appearance 1, Charisma 2, Manipulation 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Wits 3   Abilities: Alertness 2, Animal Ken 1, Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Commerce 1, Dodge 2, Empathy 2, Etiquette 1, Enigmas 3, Expression 1, Hearth Wisdom 1, Investigation 2, Legerdemain 2, Medicine 1, Melee 1, Politics 1, Seneschal 1, Stealth 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 1   Divine Magic: Hexing 1   Kincaid acted as a spy and spotter for the main villain to enable the kidnappings earlier. Kincaid is going to stay behind in "the Hive" to run interference and throw obstacles in the PCs path.   If the PCs roll well with their investigations, they can find Kincaid and corner him. If the PCs roll poorly, they will probably never realize Kincaid is there. The Game Master can even have him captured in the post-adventure epilogue if the PCs rescue the kids and one of them reports on the "creepy green guy" who kidnapped him.   Kincaid is no match for the PCs by himself. If he has a band of thugs with him when confronted, he could be a mild threat if he threw hexes at them while the thugs did most of the real fighting.   If the PCs confront him, he will probably try to flee. He is a coward and will probably turn stool pigeon pretty easy if captured and applied even a little pressure.   The main story will still proceed whether or not the PCs ever confront Kincaid. If game time is limited, the Game Master can just never have the PCs run into him or, if they do roll well, the PCs can catch and break him without rolling dice narratively with something along the lines of "It turns out the man who hired the thugs and was acting as a spotter for the kidnapper was a newcomer from another Border Barony named Kincaid, you were able to corner him in a tavern and capture him pretty easily."   Alternatively, if time is available and the players are big on the roleplaying aspect of RPGs, you can milk the interrogation for all it's worth with lots of in character dialogue and rolls of Intimidation, Subterfuge and Empathy tossed around to get results.   Note the local leaders and law enforcement are a bit lazy, but they are not souless or corrupt. If the PCs deliver this creep to them subdued and tied up, they will process him and bring him to justice.


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Jun 8, 2023 07:12 by Janet Forbes

Really cool one-shot! If I can give a tiny piece of feedback, I'd recommend linking your system at the top where you mention it (or adding a mouse over/variable/tooltip) that explains the elevator pitch of the system. But I LOVE what you've done with containers/spoilers! <3

  • Janet Forbes (Founder of World Anvil, fantasy author and RPG designer)
  • Grab your hammer and GO WORLDBUILD!
    Jun 10, 2023 01:45

    Thank you for your feedback!   Per your suggestion, I added a spoiler tab to my introductory paragraph with a basic overview of my system and hyperlinks to the relevant RPG rules for this scenario.   If you have another event similar to Play May in the future, I would be delighted to run a demo of some kind if there was any demand for it.

    Jun 9, 2023 23:52 by Verita Raizel

    This storyline is interesting. I like the investigative emphasis. Your settings and monsters are cool too. I think It'd be fun to play Bertram the wizard. He can cast his protective spells over the kids and protect them from collateral damage and sabotage. That would place more of a burden on him and the other characters but it'd help fulfill the quest parameters.

    Apr 6, 2024 23:11

    I actually ran this a couple weeks ago for three totally new players. It went quite well.   There was relatively little interest in playing pre-made characters. Two of the players wanted to make their own characters and the third played Geelak but wanted to shift a few points around to personalize the character. I had no problem with that.