I am working on the messy process of creating two parallel adventures for my Library Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I plan to alternate next week's session between the two parties, and here are my drafts for both adventures.
To recap: The party has discovered an apparent failed summoning ritual in the desecrated temple of Riverton, tracked the dead summoner back to his camp, and located his scroll case of notes. Captain Brevar advised some of the adventurers to take those notes to the wizard Erothar, who lives in a tower about a half-day’s travel north of Riverton; and the rest are asked to check the safety of Brightvale, a town about a day’s travel to the south.
The Fractured Realms Adventure 2a: The Trail of Magic
If they players leave immediately, they should arrive shortly before nightfall. If they do not depart until the next day, they will arrive around noon. In either case, they are ferried across the Stern and walk along a rough road that ascends slowly toward the mountains in the north. These lands are settled and patrolled, so no wild animal or bandit encounters are met along the way.
The party eventually sees a square tower keep on a stone crag rising above the road in the distance. As they approach, they see a smaller square wood and stone building connected to the tower by a drawbridge over a dry moat. The guardhouse is inhabited by members of the Hisbernian Watch, a group of rangers who patrol the land for bandits, wild animals, and worse. Hide tanning racks show evidence of a recent successful hunt.
Three rangers are in the guardhouse. As the party approaches, the one on watch hails them and asks for news from the south. He identifies himself as Endrik if asked. The party is invited inside for a noon or evening meal upon answering his hail. The interior is about forty feet square, and two walls are lined with bunks. In the center is a stone fireplace with a chimney and a broad hearth, surrounded by small tables. The two other rangers, Rosa and Arvon, are repairing armor and equipment. They ask whether any wolves or other wildlife were seen on the road, because there have been new sightings of predators on the rise recently.
Erothar the wizard soon enters from the door to the tower drawbridge as well. He is on good terms with the rangers, and welcomes the party to his home as well. The rangers question the party about the attack in Riverton. They know nothing about the mysterious summoner who died in the Riverton temple, but they invite the party to make use of the spare bunks for the night. Erothar asks to examine the notes after dinner, and invites the party to his tower study. On the way, he points out that the drawbridge is split, and either side can be raised. He comments, “They still don’t entirely trust magic users, even after all these years. This bridge was originally built to keep me in as much as to keep others out, and I fear this news will raise tensions between me and the Watch.”
On seeing the summoner’s notes, a sketch of the circle, or an adequate description of the language and ritual setting used, Erothar explains that it is a indeed a summoning circle, and explains further that it was intended to summon a lesser demon of the Abyss in service to Asmodeus. The subsidence around the temple was a side effect of the ritual that consumed water from the earth, plants, and living beings within the radius of the spell in preparation for opening the fiery portal to the Plane of Baalor where an inhabitant of the Nine Hells could come forth and wreak havoc on the Material Plane. He asks that the players to cast all of the summoner’s notes and their sketches into the fire lest someone else be able to use them for such purposes again.
Erothar then suggests asking for rumors in Newcastle of recent expeditions into lost ruins in the Desert of Amanth and the Plains of Hale. Expeditions often set out from that city, and he suggests that someone may have found something from the Mage War or before on such an expedition.
I plan to then add a combat encounter on the road to Newcastle against wolves and/or dire wolves according to party size.
The Fractured Realms Adventure 2b: The Path of the Guardians
The road to Brightvale leads away from the river and through the farmlands surrounding Riverton for several hours until it reaches wilder land between settlements. The fields, pastures, and farmsteads give way to rolling hills covered in wild grass and brush. There are no forests, but small stands of trees mark the sites of long-abandoned homesteads. Many contain stone foundations crumbled in on themselves, but a few are marked as still including good water wells with signs along the road.
Several merchants may be met along this road as they journey to the Riverton market festival. Farmers who live far from town also travel with carts bearing produce. Some also have bales of woolen and linen cloth. By midafternoon, these travelers have thinned to a few stragglers hurrying on their way to reach town before night.
If the party wishes to converse with these travelers, the gossip they hear is all mundane. There is speculation about winter and comment about harvest quality both good and bad. One mentions in passing that “Old Bert doesn’t seem to have joined the caravan this year.” If asked directly, no rumors of demonic summoning or cult rituals have been heard. A popular campsite is mentioned, though, and the party should reach it by nightfall.
As nightfall approaches, the party sees a low hill with a flat top just west of the road. A well-used trail indicates it is a frequent detour, and it must be the campsite mentioned. If the party did not speak to anyone they met, any with a wilderness background recognizes it as a roadside caravan campsite. There are several stone-ringed fire pits and signs where tents have been pitched in the past. Visibility is good in all directions. New player characters may be encamped here if they wish to join the campaign late. There is also a merchant here with a broken wagon wheel. If the party can assist, such as by using carpentry tools (DC10) or the Mending cantrip (Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook pg. 259), she will reward them with a Potion of Healing (Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide pg. 188) or similar gift as determined by the DM. The following day’s travel to Brightvale is uneventful.
Brightvale, like Riverton, is a small hub for a farming community populated mostly by humans and a few halflings. There is a palisade wall about 6 feet high, and a single gate opens toward the road, facing east. Inside, the road leads straight to the center of town where a community well and the temple sit like the hub of a wheel. This temple is a round wood structure adorned with carved geometric patterns along its eaves. The town’s shops, meeting hall, and tavern sit in a circle facing the temple and well. Behind these are the homes of shopkeepers, narrow streets, and another ring of homes. Closest to the wall, many homes have individual garden plots and chicken coops. A stable near the gate is the only exception to this concentric design. Near the town there are several small farmsteads. A graveyard surrounded by a stone fence is south of the town and on the opposite side of the road.
Lending a Hand
Inquiring at the temple or tavern results in advice to visit the village elders in the meeting hall. A half-dozen wizened men and women there, where an old woman named Raissa seems to be the leader. She demands to know why the party has “barged in on our discussion of town business” as she hastily and clumsily sweeps aside some dice and game tokens from the table.
If the party explains the situation in Riverton, she becomes much more serious and asks them who sent them to Brightwood.
“Brevar? He married a girl from here, you know. Pretty thing. No clue what she saw in him! Heh!”
She then asks them to help the town’s night watchman.
“I ain’t payin’ ya if this is all nonsense though. Find yer bogeyman first, then we’ll talk coin. Brevar was always a worrywart.”
During the night, any players patrolling the town hear strange sounds from the graveyard area. The moon is nearly full, so if they investigate, they see motion in the graveyard. If they sit tight, the gate will be attacked by zombies and skeletons. In either case, assign a number of undead to make a challenging combat. The necromancer uses the undead as a screen to avoid combat, although he will cast firebolt at any convenient targets, and use chill touch if any manage to reach him in melee. He drinks a potion of invisibility and retreats as a reaction the moment he takes any damage, leaving the zombies to fight and cover his escape. If combat is going poorly, the sounds of combat can rouse helpful villagers. The town watchman can also be used as an NPC ally by the DM or assigned to an experienced player.
After defeating the zombies, the players will need to choose between trying to track him at night and waiting for morning. If they wait, the tracks of the necromancer can still be followed in the morning. Raissa can also tell them about an abandoned onyx mine in the hills far to the west of town. "The old-timers when I was a youngster used to say that mine was a source of evil stone. Might be worth a look, just in case!"
Are there any suggestions from other gamers? I want to make this better, so please comment below!