In part 1, the players find themselves kidnapped by orcs searching for someone with a special mark. Realising it is one of the players, they must make their escape.
In part 2, they travel through a desolate valley blighted by a winter blizzard, pursued by orcs. Here they meet a druid who helps them escape the valley.
In Part 3, the heroes journey under the mountains to exit the valley, through the haunted halls of Elrin Keep and there discover an ancient unfulfilled legacy of one of the players.
In part 4, they make the journey home from the borderlands (this part is yet to be fleshed out).
One of the players is in fact unknowingly the last living descendant of a legendary hero who fought a powerful necromancer centuries ago, a battle that ended cursing both bloodlines.
The descendant of the necromancer is now seeking to kill the player to end the curse, but instead leads him to the path to discover his own legacy and recover the magical sword that is at the heart of this ancient blood feud.
Expanding the scenario
Part 1: Escape from the Keep on the Borderlands
players wake up in a cell in the northern mountains of Alderan in the winter after having been attacked by orcish raids.
The players, along with a lady, Lise, and a child, Aegy, are kidnapped by an orc tribe searching for someone with a special mark.
How they got there:
1 was a hired bodyguard of the lady
1 was a local
1 (or 2) was a traveller
1 was a guard on one of the caravans attacked
The others captured in the raids are already dead. Apparently, the orcs are searching for someone with a particular mark whom they want alive. This isn’t the first batch kidnapped on orc raids either.
Before the players have time to plan anything, one of the players are taken away by the orcs. They are too many for the players to overpower. This player actually carries the mark they’ve been searching for. He is brought to the chambers of the wizard Borus.
The woman, a noble lady from Inta (the southern capital of the kingdom) dies in the cell, swearing them to protect her child Aegy and bring him back to safety, for which her family will no doubt reward them.
The orcs are lead by a low level wizard, Borus. They will need to get to his chambers to liberate the player there. Borus is exhilarated that he has finally found the one he is looking for and has already sent a courier off to deliver the news to his master, so that he might leave these forsaken borderlands as soon as possible.
The players start out unarmed against a horde of orcs and a wizard, without much chance really of escaping. Aid comes from an unlikely place though in the guise of the Orc Gru’ull. Gru’ull is something as rare as an orc with dreams of refinery and luxury. He overheard Lise’s dying words and lured by the promise of the riches offered for Aegy’s return and figures that he can help the players return Aegy to his family in return for his share of the reward. He is willing to turn on his brethren to help the players get free. He can give them directions for the escape, and help them with basic equipment for the escape. He helps the player sneak as unnoticedly as possible to Borus’ chambers where the captured player is.
(Gru’ull will accompany the heroes all the way to Inta if he survives. Over the course of the journey, he will begin to discover new sides of himself as he befriends the players. Though he remains essentially dullwitted and selfcentered, he also shows himself remarkably loyal to his new friends over the course of the journey.)
Should they defeat Borus, in his chambers are notes describing the one searched for, matching the mark on the character freed. They learn the orcs are hired by a wizard named Alander, who has sent his apprentice to oversee the project. (There is also Borus’ spellbook, allowing the starting wizard character to equip himself with some spells not already memorized as he has no spellbook following the raid).
Alander is searching for the person here because his divinations have revealed that the one bearing the mark resides in these mountains. In his letters, the player can learn he is apparently deeply unsatisfied with how Borus has managed the task and is sending another apprentice to take over.
The players need to escape alive from the keep with the child Aegy, hopefully having learned one of the player is sought by a powerful wizard.
Fleeing the keep and orcs, who discovers their escape soon enough (knowing one of them bears the mark they will hunt the zealously) the players only escape route is through a desolate valley ravaged by a blizzard.
Part 2: Through the Winter Valley
The players are fleeing the orc of the keep and find themselves fleeing in the midst of a winter blizzard through a desolate valley. Though the blizzard makes travel hazardous it likewise makes it harder for their pursuers to track them.
The players should spend a few days in the valley, perhaps battling some wandering monsters and trying to dodge the orc tracking parties, before they come upon a druid stalked by a large orc band searching for the players.
As they save him, he informs them he is the protector of the valley. He tells them that while he can keep hidden from the orcs now that he knows of them, there are no exits from the valley for the players and it is likely only a matter of time before the orcs find them here.
The only passes not closed by the snow are the eastward ones guarded by the orcs. However, he knows of one other passage at the west end of the valley - *under the mountains*, although he has not explored it himself, the rodents living there have told him it goes all the way through and that nothing lives there but the rodents and their prey.
Part 3: The Haunted Halls of Elrin Keep
These are the underground passageways of the ruins of Elrin Keep, an old abandoned citadel sitting on the westside of the mountain on the other side of the valley.
Elrin Keep is haunted though and the players will have to battle the undead to get through. In the library in the keep, they can learn of the legacy of the Elrin family, going back to Rogard Elrin, a legendary Champion who lived some 1000 years ago. He achieved fame for defeating a powerful necromancer, Gallasien, in the north who had enslaved the region.
Rogard Elrin was aided by a powerful sorcerer to defeat the necromancer. He made him a magical sword, Nibar (meaning
Bloodslayer) that once it struck Gallasien would curse him so that ‘as long as the blood of Elrin persisted, his blood would remain cursed. The sword however carried an additional pledge/curse. When Rogard accepted the sword he, he agreed that the Elrin’s blood would use it to undyingly seek to defeat Gallisien’s blood (note: make some verse describing this and a more elaborate description of the finelywrought sword as well as the history of the keep). Many years later, he moved to this region, appointed lord of the region by the emperor.
Rogard never died because of the curse and lives on as a undead knight. Aghast at what he had become, he chased all others from the keep and sought to hide himself and his shame forever in the haunted halls. Over the centuries, his will has animated other dead people in the abandoned keep to guard it. He can only be freed by passing on the sword to a descendant.
Though he believed himself to be fatherless and therefore forced to endure the curse forever, he did indeed sire a child, only the mother never told him as she would not journey with him when he went to this region (note: elaborate the storytelling of this romantic tragedy).
When the players find him in the main hall and he discovers the marks of the Elrin line on one of the players, he informs them how, despite his shame, he has in futile desperation whispered to the winds for his blood for centuries and only now has the call been answered. If the player digs into his family line, he will learn he is the first in the family to travel in this region for many centuries. He will pass on the sword to the player in question, who will receive a cursed but magically potent heirloom )if the player doesn’t break the curse in his lifetime or pass the sword on to one of his descendants, he will also become undead).
It could be used later on to claim noble heritage as a possible plot hook. He will guide them to the exit before finally passing on. (note: The players can return later to claim the keep as their own if they wish, perhaps as part of a small military campaign to free the area from orcs).
Part 4: The journey home
Having escaped the orcs, the heroes are now pledged to return the child to its family in Inta, a rich noble family who will reward the players handsomely. If Gru’ull is still with them, he will use his share to set up an inn somewhere in the southern lands. There will also be sent out an army to deal with the orcs once they report the raids.
To get there however, they will need to travel with a merchant caravan journeying to the capital (insert devious caravan travel plot).
Plots for later on: The reason Rogard couldn’t die was that Gallasien had fathered a child in the local village, those many centuries ago. The bloodline has survived all the way to the present, where they number in the hundreds in a valley to the north, all of them cursed. The player is the last descendant of Elrin. The curses can only be broken by breaking the one of the bloodlines. This is where Alander enters the picture. A skilled diviner, he learned the cause of the curse of the valley’s people and seeks to break it by killing the last heir of the Elrin line. His divinations only told him that the Elrin line lived in these mountains and thus enlisted the orcs to find it, not knowing it was actually Rogard himself dwelling in the mountains.
He will try to kill the player later on and the sword will in turn inform the player of its mission to destroy the necromancer’s blood (the players don’t know he is actually doing it to save his people - the killings in the mountains were because of the apprentice and Alander sent a replacement as soon as he learned this, though the player won’t know this and likely assume he is evil as he was willing to slaughter dozens to find this one person), reviving the ancient bloodfeud.
Later on, they could learn the real reason for him stalking them and ally themselves to him to break the curse together. The ancient sorcerer who made the curses had a tower in the north wherein lies the secrets of the curses and how to dispel them from there.