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Comments: 9
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.9167
Condition: Normal
ID: 4071


February 11, 2015, 8:40 am

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The Toll Station


When armed men barricade the road and demand money, be careful how you respond.
They just might have a legal right to do so.

Plot Description

A barrier, crudely constructed out of tree branches, blocks the road. This presents no real obstacle to travel and the PCs can easily bypass it they so wish.

Beside the barrier is a four-man tent of the kind commonly used by the Kings Army and a small handcart on which is a wooden cage containing several homing pigeons. Setting in front of the tent are three scruffy looking soldiers playing cards and drinking tea. The soldiers uniforms are frayed and dirty but their weapons (crossbows / muskets / swords / spears / whatever) are in good repair.

As the PCs approach the barrier the sergeant greets then and demands, in the name of the King, that they pay a toll to travel the Kings’ Road. Note that the amount demanded should not too excessive, roughly what would be expected for a road toll.

If the PCs pay the toll the soldiers will drag their makeshift barrier clear and allow them to pass, if not they will release one of their homing pigeons but will take no other action unless attacked.

Possible Explanations

1. Genuine Toll Booth

The soldiers are exactly what they claim to be.

If the PCs refuse to pay the toll they will be arrested as soon as they enter the next town and held until the local magistrate is holding court (in about 3-4 days). The magistrate will then order that they pay a heavy fine for refusal to pay the Kings’ taxes. He will accept neither excuses nor protestations of innocence nor pleas of poverty.

2. Highway Robbery

The soldiers are actually highway bandits running a simple, but highly effective, scam.

By posing as toll collectors their victims normally hand over the loot without a fight, as long as they don’t get greedy of course. Also, they are unlikely to be reported since the victims do not even realise they have been duped.

The pigeons are just wild birds captured to compete the disguise (genuine toll stations always have messenger pigeons).

3. A Test of Honesty

The station is set up by the local authorities (lord / town council / whatever) to test the honesty of approaching adventuring parties (like the PCs).

Those parties who pay the toll (and thereby demonstrate their honesty) will be welcome in the next town, those who do not will find the town gate barred to them.

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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Scrasamax
July 3, 2007, 5:55
Concise and to the point, I like it Dragon Lord, plus it it quite authentic. PCs could get to know some of the guards who do the tolls, and might be suspicious when it is a new group, or the toll station is moved...or there is more than one. Thumbs up!
Voted valadaar
July 3, 2007, 8:24
Well crafted minor encounter!
Voted manfred
July 3, 2007, 14:30
What they said; compact and very much usable.

(You might also want to link it to road encounters.)
July 3, 2007, 15:13
I added it to the Tales of the Road codex, where it fits perfectly.
July 3, 2007, 15:30
*pats head* How right you are! A good Codex that should not be forgotten.
Voted Drackler
July 4, 2007, 14:59
A truly commendable sub.
Voted Murometz
July 6, 2007, 20:24
Nice plot for the appropriate codex!
December 29, 2008, 3:08
I like it. What I think would be a good idea would be an option wherein intelligent players skeptical of the toll booth's authenticity can then use insane logic to prove to themselves and maybe even the "soldiers" that they are bandits, in which case they attempt to loot the party for all they're worth and are killed. Thus when they reach the next town, the man who did that will either be hugged when the town greets them as liberators from the gang, or be smacked upside the head for being an idiot on general principles when it turns out those were ACTUAL SOLDIERS, and the town bars the gates (or even hunts after them for revenge!).
Voted Strolen
April 20, 2015, 19:59
Great quick encounter with a decision to be made that could affect the rest of the adventure. I like it!

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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Michael Jotne Slayer

The nations of the Kolm surpasses all other barbarians in their wilderness of life. Thoug they do just bear the likeness of men, of a very ugly pattern, they are so little advanced in civilization that they make no use of fire, nor any kind of relish, in the preparation of their food, but feed upon the roots which they find in the fields, and the half-raw flesh of any sort of animal. I say half-raw, because they give it a kind of cooking by placing it between their own thighs and the back of their horses. They fight in no regular order of battle but by being extremely swift and sudden in their movements, they disperse, and hen rapidly come toghether in loose array. They spread havoc over the vast plains and flying over the ramparts, they pillage the camp of their enemy almost before he has become aware of their approach. They are the most terrible warriors for when in close combat with swords and flails they fight without regard to their own safety, and while their enemy is intent upon parrying the thrust of the swords, they will entangle him with their chains so that he loses all power of walking or riding.

Excerpt from "The peoples of the world" By Taklamarian court-scholar Guliman Amon.

Ideas  ( Society/ Organization ) | February 15, 2011 | View | UpVote 3xp

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