Winter’s bite crept into every crevice, haunted every corner, when the ancient tinker Nickol Nacker came to the village. Wandering from door-to-door, offering to mend their pots and kettles, the jovial man was full of energy. While others were huddled for warmth around the meager fires the villagers could afford, he seemed impervious to the frigid winter winds.
The village children ran out into the frozen streets to see the eccentric man. When they tugged on his threadbare coat of bright green, he’d pretend not to see them until they were filled with laughter at the funny man. Then, pulling his patched and tattered satchel from his shoulder, he’d dig around in it until he’d found small presents for each of the children. These gifts were humble, but well crafted. The little boys might receive wooden toy swords or penknives, the girls would perhaps receive dolls of calico cloth or jumping ropes.
When the man headed on his way, the village was filled with smiles.
Sometimes, travelers pass Nickol the tinker as the humble man sits by his campfire in the wild, carefully whittling at toys for future visits to the villages. Smiling as always, he even tosses simple gifts to some of the passers by. These might be simple, such as a wooden spoon or a calico pincushion, but they always come in handy later. Apparently, the simple tinker has a knack for knowing what will be needed.
Not every visit of the Tinker’s is so jolly, however. Many villagers have no use for the Tinker folk and rudely send them off. Nickol has been known to stop where these ungracious folk dwell and ostentatiously shake the snow from his boots at the edge of their village. Frequently, ill fortune has befallen that village soon after.
1.) Nickol is the incarnation of a Saint, sent by heaven to teach kindness and compassion to the village folk. The humble gifts he gives are predictors of the future; where he gives weapons to little boys, the land will someday need defenders; where he gives baskets of fruit, famine waits to haunt the people. Those who have learned by his subtle signs are sheltered from what ills may come.
2.) The elderly Tinker is actually a simulacrum, the artificial creation of a powerful mage; he travels the land to ensure that village folk are content with their lot. When he finds a village where the folk are not content, he investigates to find out why. The ones responsible for spreading discord will be brought to justice, whether they be peasant or churchmen, knight or rogue.
3.) No, Virginia, there is no tinker. One of the local lords sends a band of men out every winter, all chosen from the eldest of his knights. Disguised as tinkers, these men wander through neighboring provinces, assessing their military readiness. They have found that disguising themselves in this way wins the affection of the local peasants.
This is an experiment in designing adventures in a format similar to that of the short “Tales of Terror” plots that have been used in horror-themed games. In this format, a short adventure setup is followed by three different explanations, each leading in a different direction. If enough of these are collected, a
Tales of Adventure
Codex will be assembled.
Those interested in seeing the original “Tales of Terror” using this format may wish to go to Steve Hatherley’s website: http://www.talesofterror.net