1. It is said that though the crown has always been passed through inheritance, no man may rule without the approval of the Archmage and the Guildmaster. (Interpretation I leave to interested parties). ~ Ria Hawk
A Kingdom in Shambles
It has scarely been a decade since the Kingdom of Rynvertiata found itself locked in mortal combat with a nihilistic and power-mad villain and his undead legions. Though Kriegor was slain and his army of zombies and infernal minions scattered, it was at great cost to the kingdom. Several thousand knights, warriors, and men-at-arms were slain, the castle of Ostiata was nothing more than a shattered hulk and the royal family was decimated to the point where the old King’s first cousin, Woren the Unready, was coronated as the interrim regent of the kingdom.
It has been a time of heroes and bandits since the fall of Kriegor as the Knighthood and royal army is no longer sufficient to patrol all of the roads. Adventurers-upon-Return can expect to make good money working as couriers, bodyguards, garrison soldiers and the like as the numbers of brigands and bandits have shot through the rough. The roads are risky at best, the only safe mode of travel is along the Blue Ryn River and portage has since become hard to come by and expensive.
For further information on Rynvertiata please click here.
2. The peasants of the wood use crudely carved symbols to ward off wolves. They think the symbols are emblems of purity and goodness and that keeps the wolves away. The symbols work, but not for the reasons the peasants believe… The symbols are actually arcance evil symbols which the wolves know and fear, but to which the peasants are oblivious. So how gullible are the peasants going to be when a strange horned man displaying the symbols on his shield turns up and asks for their allegiance? ~ ephemeralstability
The Emblem of Novercalis
Here lad, take one of these medallions. Hoglim the Unhappy makes them in the village, they keep the wolves at bay. Anything bigger than a wolf takes a few waves of the medallion and it helps if shout some insults. No I’m not skinning you for a fool, he gives ‘em away. If it works you can give a few groats later.
The Village of Tiarakdel
A basic farming village ruled by a village council, Tiarakdel offers the PCs a chance to restock basic supplies, rest from previous random and not so random encounters. In the area around the villages, bandits and brigands are a problem but not to the extent as they are in areas directly involved in the old war. The real problem around the village, and in most of the hinterlands are the large numbers of wolves, forest bears, and other wildlife that has become more aggressive since the road patrols and regular traffic has vanished. The PCs should have at least one encounter with a pack of bloodthirsty wolves before reaching the village.
For more information on Tiarakdel Click Here.
The Standard Bearer
Shortly after the Adventurers-upon-Return arrive in the village and are settled in for at least the night, a second party arrives, three men riding on black horse. The smell of death cleaves to them and it is apparent that two of the horsemen are Knights Entropic, zombie warriors grafted to their equally undead mounts. The leader of the trio is a beast of a man, sneering at the world through a split helmet and equally split face. While the sight of necromantic warriors is no small cause of alarm, what is more disturbing is that the emblem of Novercalis is emblazoned across their shields and on the black banner fluttering in the wind. The forms are the same, but these are not the warriors of Kriegor, but another necromantic warlord.
Five stone dead beholders encased in bronze are found in nets on the side of the road. ~ CaptainPenguin
Many games draw moral lines in bold colors, where the real world is not so easy to categorize. Suppose that the player characters are faced with an overwhelming foe? Even unsavory allies such as orcish barbarians may be better than no allies at all. More disturbing, these allies may be honestly friendly to the PCs when all is done, overcoming barriers of race and religion. Will the PCs remain friendly with the bloodthirsty humanoid tribesmen when their mutual foes are defeated? Some would expect the tribes to betray them, but after the characters have honestly won their respect, even orcs may not be all bad. ~ Wulfhere
A continent is home to large, leathery flying beasts with a wingspan of over 70ft. Though shy, herbivorous and easily scared, it is possible that an enterprising person could domesticate them. They would be useless in war due to their timidity, but excellent if used for commercial air travel. ~ Iain
Metzelgrim, son of Kriegor
Heh, do you think I shed a single tear when those heroes put Kriegor into the ground? Not a single drop slid from eyes on that day. It was what he wanted really, it just took him a long time getting around to being killed. No, he was an evil man through and through and it is a shame that from my loins he gained an heir. If I could have taken a bitter draught to slay the child inside of me I would have and ended his line. It doesnt matter now, Metzelgrim is the scion of Kriegor and even now commands what remains of his father’s armies. The apple doesnt fall far from the tree, but unlike his father, Metzelgrim wants to conquer, not so destroy. I do not know which is a more grim fate.
Sbaeka of the Gro’a
Additional Ideas (2)
The Kingdom is hovering on the edge of social and economic collapse following the war with Kriegor and the covert battle between the Guildmaster and the Archmage that followed. Neither party could agree on a canditate, so a neutral compromise was chosen in the late King's first cousin Woren the Unready. Woren was so named as the lad is not more that 7 years old and has been raised not as a leader or even warrior but instead as a trainee to join the ranks of the clergy.
Post-war prices have shot through the roof as travel between villages and towns is dangerous, and the only safe mode of travel has been taken over by the nobility. Food is scarce, and with so many young men slain in the war, many fields are being left untended. After fighting the undead, those who did survive the war were left with significant emotional and phyiscal trauma. The main cities of Rynvertiata are choked with crippled veterans, while those who went a little mad became brigands, bandits and outlaws. Most cities and villages have been left to their own means for protection, turning the walled communities into islands in a sea of criminals.
Short Term Projections
The price of food will continue to rise as less and less is produced and more is taken by noble decree or by brigand force. Adventurers-upon-Return can make good, if dangerous, money working for city and village governments as bandit-hunters, guards, and the like. This leads to a large number of hooks to bring a group of PCs into Rynvertiata, the most obvious being a cash strapped region that is willing to pay not just in terms of limited coin but in parcels of land and patents of nobility, if such valorous deeds are performed.
Long Term Projections
The long term for Rynvertiata is grim if a turn-around isnt made within the next 2 to 3 years. With the working population shrinking, a mix between simply leaving the kingdom to put down roots elsewhere, turning outlaw, or simply subsisting off of alms and begging, food shortages will turn into a full-blown famine. Pestilence and plague are quick to follow, turing the fortified cities into prisons of sickness and death. With famine and pestilence, brigandry turning into armed revolt; it is only a matter of time before the monarchy and noble court collapses, unable to sustain itself any longer.
Potential Plans of Action
Shoring up the Walls - Adventurers-upon-Return and mercenaries are contracted by interested parties, most likely various local guilds, and middle tier nobility. While this has the effect of clearing roads and securing some commerce, it is expensive and mercenaries unpaid are quick to turn brigand themselves.
Concerted Action - Thus far, there has been no concerted or coordinated effort to reestablish the economy or security of Rynvertiata. While the Guildmaster works to bring funds in, and the Archmage and his faction work to bring some semblance of peace and order, the two are as often sabotaging each other as working to fix anything. The upper ranking nobles have their hands tied by required political alliances with either side. A noble who works to fix income does so at the risk of offending the magi, while one that works to put things back to order is obviously working against the Guildmaster. The lower ranking nobles, the knights and barons, are busy with their efforts stuck at home defending their villages and towns by their own hands and swords. If the nobles could work together without the interference of the Archmage or Guildmaster, they could clear the roads and put the peasants back in the fields in relatively short if bloody order.
Inconvenient Alliances - Roughly 1/5th of Rynvertiata's population consists of Enyerech nomads. For centuries the Enyerech have been treated as second class citizens, barely better than slaves. But they survived the war with minimal losses, and retain a large part of their fighting forces as well as herds and supplies. An alliance with the Enyerech could bring able-bodied fighting men to clear the bandits and brigands out much cheaper and safer than mercenaries.
Leadership: Village Council
Tiarakdel is one of the better surviving farming communities in Rynvertiata, it didn't suffer any direct damage in the war with Kriegor, though it did loose between 70 and 100 young men and women. Roughly half of these villages did survive the war, but either remained in one of the major cities or unpaid turned bandit. The village primarily produces wheat and barley and the local brewer is the wealthiest man in the village. His Tiarakdel White Wheat Ale is popular around the village as well as being shipped to other smaller villages for feast days and festivals.
Spots of Interest
The Ale and Leaf - the largest building in Tiarakdel, the Ale and Leaf serves double duty, it is both the tavern for the village as well as the town hall. The building is a large two story structure with a stone and mortar foundation and a clapboard facade and second story. The village doesnt get much traffic so the two spare rooms in the back are the only accomodations for travelers who dont wish to sleep in a horse stall. The tavern is owned by the Brewer and his family, and the brewery is located a few hundred feet behind the main building.
A small sundry shop, Hoglim stocks basic things that are difficult to make, and is the main merchant in the village. His shop has a few basic weapons, no armor, and no magic items. Food goods are present, though it is almost exclusively local produced grain, produce and smoked haunches and joints of meat.
Brewer Ardon - Owner of the Ale and Leaf, member of the village council. A jovial man with a large belly and an easy smile. He is seldom seen without a walking stick, one of his many children, or a small bottle of his ale for sampling.
Hoglim the Unhappy - Owner of the village sundry store/trade post, Hoglim is a knotty man, his arm broken and never properly set and his spine bent by carrying heavy loads. Hoglim was not always unhappy, but after the war he was left close to being unable to do any sort of work, lost both of his sons in war, and was denied any sort of pension or restitution. He has taken up carving wooden charms in addition to running his shop and keeping everyone stocked. Hoglim's wife Umista is on the village council and is considered to be a short tempered woman.
Hunter Ealon - While not a member of the village council, Ealon might as well be. Lacking a constable, sherrif or other official of law, Ealon serves as the keeper of the peace and is the head of the small village militia, 20 young men and women armed with a hodge-podge of spears, bows, and long bladed knives. He is a tall man with a thick beard and is a dead-eye with his hunting bow.
Emengald the Witch - A practitioner of warding magic and spaecrafting, Emalgald is a bit of an eccentric and a crone. The locals go to her for bits of magic that they cannot get from Hoglim's trinkets. She has a dark secret however, but this is not readily apparent unless the PCs have a special knowledge involving the War with Kriegor.