St. George’s Church, a Temple of Eos

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Photo by Paweł Wojciechowski on Unsplash

 

St. George’s Church sits close by the Dead Pony Inn in the small town of Bree. Its whitewashed stone exterior and cedar shingled roof project a sense of calm and stability in the frontier town. The doors are never locked except in dire circumstances. Stained glass windows fill the church with a spectrum of color in the daylight and votive candles provide a warm glow to the interior during the night.

The interior of the church has a round central room with dark hardwood floors, whitewashed walls, and a lofty ceiling. The central altar is adorned with white linen and a single chalice sits in the middle. Near the door is a small wooden poor box. There’s no lock on it, yet thefts from the church are very rare. Mother Patience welcomes all people that come through the church doors. The sick, hungry, and even the lost can find some comfort within this sanctuary. The Reverend Mother is less a preacher of words and more a practitioner of her faith. She follows the holy path of Eos.

St. George’s Church is a place of worship for many in the town of Bree. The church was destroyed by fire over thirty years ago, but the townsfolk came together to rebuild the church stronger than before. Mother Patience was just a young novitiate at that time. She left her abbey to return to Bree, for Bree had been savagely attacked by gnolls from the north. Heroes gathered repelled the forces of chaos once again. The light was near extinguished in the town of Bree, but Mother Patience brought her light back to the town, inspiring others to stay and rebuild. She let others take up lance and sword.

Mother Patience devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor. Her god, Eos, saw the path this young woman was travelling and shone a holy light upon it. Mother Patience was blessed with powers of healing. She took charge of building the new church of St. George. Being on the borderlands did little for her career in the church hierarchy, but she was never desirous of that. Hers was a life of contemplative prayer and serving her flock.

Mother Patience is very wise and knowledgeable about the people in and around Bree. Almost every person under the age of thirty was midwifed by her. Many others, soldiers, farmers, knights, and knaves, were tended by her healing arts. She never asked for anything but a small offering to the church in coin or service.

Three things about Mother Patience

  1. Her father was a commoner, a simple farmer of Bree and her mother was from a nobleman’s family to the south.
  2. Her mother sent her away to a convent when she was a small girl.
  3. Her grandfather, a nobleman, once hard hearted towards her daughter’s illegitimate child, grew to love her.

[Ok, I lied…I need to add more to this character]

4. Her grandfather, so moved by his grand daughter’s devotion to Eos, made a vow to protect her. Because of this, it has been a tradition for one of the family’s sons or daughters to take up the mantle of Templar of Eos, a holy knight with vows to protect the church…and in this particular case, the Reverend Mother.

[This would be an excellent way for the players to start their player character as a relative for Mother Patience. They could use St. George’s church as their base.]

Other NPCs at St. George’s…

Bennett Hastings is a middle aged man who is devoted to working for the church. He is the gardener and handyman.

Gertrude Hastings, Bennett’s wife, runs the household operations. She cooks and cleans and helps with the orphans.

St. George’s has hospital beds for about a dozen people and a residence for Mother Patience, her staff, and currently three orphaned children.

A young Templar-in-training resides here. He is a noble from Mother Patience’s family. His name is Jules D’armond, young, naive, and reckless. The Reverend Mother has her hands full keeping him out of harm.

Healing herbs are in abundance here. They can be purchased for 5 silver pieces per bunch (dose). The Reverend Mother will advise users of the herbs to brew a tea with it to curb the possible adverse affects. Failing to do so will still heal the user (1 point) but they will need to make a saving throw to avoid sickness.

Healing oils (usable by clerics) can be purchased here for 7 silver pieces and are available 3-in-6 chance.

Healing potions (usable by all) are available in limited quantities 2-in-6 chance and will cost 250 silver pieces per dose. The potions are time consuming and expensive to brew, but effective. One dose heals 1d6+1 hit points. Mother Patience may have one or two potions to give PCs if she feels they are doing a great service to the church.

[Note–my Bree campaign uses the silver standard.]

Cornwall the Odd

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Photo by Pro Image Photography on Unsplash

Sheriff John lit his pipe and pulled out his watch. The heavy gold pocket watch showed half past four. It always showed half past four because it was broken. With a sigh, he held the watch up to his ear and shook it, wound the stem, which was also busted, and put it back in his vest pocket. Citizens of Bree would regularly inquire why the sheriff carried a broken watch and he would reply that a dragon trod on it.

Cornwall was late again. The sheriff wouldn’t admit it to his face, but he liked the old wizard, even though he was annoying, unreliable, and extremely odd. Sheriff John passed the time by setting up the carved stone pieces on the game board. Ents and dragons was his favorite game. He always played ents, never dragons. He remembered his mother’s advice not to play with dragons.

The door burst open and in swept Cornwall the Odd accompanied by a gust of wind and a small pile of leaves.

“If you don’t close that door, I’ll be using this broom on your head instead of the leaves you’ve dragged in!”, Mya Stormcrow yelled at the old man.

Cornwall only shrugged and pushed the door closed gently. He danced a little gig across the floor of the Dead Pony Inn, blew Mya a kiss, and pulled his chair out from the table. With an elaborate flourish of his cap, he dusted the chair off and sat down lightly.

“Don’t you dare insinuate that my chairs are dirty!”, Mya remarked.

Sheriff John chuckled at the banter between the two. Mya had a sharp tongue but a soft spot in her heart for the old man.

He looked at Cornwall and was relieved. The old man stared back with a twinkle in his eyes. Good, thought Sheriff John. His eyes look clear and he’s not as shabby as he was yesterday. This is a good day for the old wizard. The sheriff had known the wizard for over twenty years, ever since he wandered into the town of Bree, a stranger to these parts and lost in his own mind.

Cornwall began his usual ritual by pulling out a long clay pipe and then patting his pockets. The sheriff counted to twenty, chuckling to himself, and then pulled out a pouch of tobacco for his friend.

The wizard smiled, nodding his head, and loaded the pipe. With a quick flick of his fingers, he summoned a small flame from the air. The sheriff watched as it landed in the pipe bowl, amazed at the ease the wizard called forth fire from the ether. Sometimes it was not so easy. On occasions, the old man was either too drunk or cloudy minded that the flame would miss his pipe bowl and land in the wizard’s sagebrush beard.

To say Cornwall the Odd was unkempt would be kind, filthy to be more accurate. On his bad days, he was unpleasant to be near. Food stained robes and stinking of onions and ale, were often his trademark. On days he was clear headed, the old man made some obligatory passes with a washcloth and dragged a comb across his tangle of wild, gray hair.

Mya came round with a tankard of ale for Cornwall and a mug of hard cider for the sheriff.

“Your hut’s been scratching around Agnes Gum’s flower bed again…”

“Really? How do you know it was my hut?”, the wizard replied.

“Well, unless someone else in Bree owns a two story chicken legged hut with a blue door…:

“Ha! It couldn’t have been my hut! My door’s indigo!”

Sheriff John nearly fell off his chair.

The wizard looked at the board with a twinkle in his eye, “Ents and dragons! I think I’ll be the dragons…let’s play.”

It was going to be a good day.


Notes about Cornwall the Odd

Besides his disheveled appearance, Cornwall is quite an interesting and powerful character. But something’s gone wrong with the old wizard. Long ago in addition to acquiring his chicken legged hut from a nasty old witch, he gained a curse.

Cornwall’s ability ebbs and flows in an unpredictable fashion on a daily basis. In game terms, his ability level on any given day is 2d6 levels of magician. On days his level is 7+ he has ‘good’ days. His mind is clear and wits are sharp. On days he is less than 7th level, he becomes progressively more feeble minded and unreliable. His spell points will change according to his current level. The spells he can cast are always quite expansive. He knows all known spells, but on his ‘bad’ days he will need to rummage through the chicken hut searching for his spell books.

The witch’s curse has taken quite a toll on the poor wizard. He tries to remedy his fog shrouded mind with liberal doses of ale or any other liquor available. Cornwall, on a good day, can be a great resource of arcane knowledge and may even offer bits of knowledge to those who ask. Woe to anyone who leaves magic items for him to research. They are often misplaced or cast aside during one of his episodes.

Besides living in a chicken legged hut that has a penchant to scratching around Agnes Gum’s flowerbed, Cornwall has a pet pig. Portus is a 300 lb black and white boar that regularly trots into the Dead Pony Inn to fetch a bucket of ale for his master.

The wizard has few real friends other than the sheriff and Mya Stormcrow. Most townsfolk just think he’s an odd duck and give him space, but they have a fondness for the old magician for he has earned his keep in Bree in the past. Rumors are rampant in the countryside of a powerful magician that protects the small town. The townsfolk only pray that if trouble comes again to Bree, Cornwall the Odd will be having a good day.

Sheriff John Briarfoot

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Sheriff John Briarfoot is a hobbit. A very wise hobbit indeed, for he turned his back on the adventuring path long ago. Now, the sheriff enjoys a life of semi-retirement in the comfortable little town of Bree. There’s just enough action to give the sheriff something to do and plenty of down time to relax. When not chasing scoundrels and locking up drunks, he can be found in the Dead Pony Inn, sipping hard cider, and playing Ents and Dragons with Cornwall the Odd (more about him later).

Three things about Sheriff John

  1. He has a quite a large voice for such a small hobbit.
  2. Dresses in farmer’s clothes, but carries a silver medallion around his neck as symbol of his authority.
  3. Is never seen without his black walnut walking stick, which he gladly use to raise a knot on any deserving prospect’s noggin.

In game terms, the sheriff is a mid level (5 or thereabouts) hill dwarf with a tendency to use non-lethal combat if possible. The sheriff if need be, can fetch some enchanted chain mail and the spell bound rune blade (short sword) from his adventuring days.

The sheriff has two part-time deputies, Mutt Wilton and Geoff Flowers. They are competent enough, but need the sheriff’s leadership to do their best. If any real trouble were to occur in Bree, the sheriff would ask for help from the King’s men (about 6 or so garrisoned in town).

The sheriff’s office is also his dwelling. He lives on the second floor. The office has two jail cells. One of which is littered with bits of lettuce and carrot for his pet tortoise Sir Montague de Flors, “Monty”. A small lamp illuminates the office in a blue green light. Curious thing is that it never needs fuel nor gives off any heat.

 

The Drunken Pony Inn

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Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

 

Carved in regal script in gilded letters, though showing signs of age, hangs the sign of the Drunken Pony Inn. The locals have a chuckle when they look at it, for the pony looks more dead than drunk…maybe he’s just dead drunk. Anyhow, that is why the Drunken Pony Inn is called the Dead Pony by the locals of Bree.

The owner, a dark eyed beauty with temper to match her name is Mya Stormcrow. She runs square house and will not suffer fools gladly. The inn is a prominent feature in the town of Bree. The food is good and the beer is cold.

Cheap meal.......5 cp           Lodgings (common room)....5 cp/night
Standard meal....1 sp           Lodgings (shared room)....1 sp/night
Expensive meal...2 sp           Lodgings (private room)...2 sp/night

Mya has two full time staff….Sara Gumm, niece of Old Agnes Gumm, the town snoop, and Jess Mayweather, a pretty lass, quick witted and not afraid to slap an overbearing patron.

Over the mantle of the bar is a large brass buckle, at least a hand’s width. Mya tells patrons that it is an IOU left by a giant who also left a giant sized tab.

And that’s about it to setting up the “Dead” Drunken Pony Inn. In creating Mya, I also want to add some detail for her backstory. I’ll add three things and leave it at that.

Three things about Mya Stormcrow…

  1. She bears the tattoos on her arms of tribal peoples from the Outlands to the north.
  2. She carries a silver dagger rumored to be a gift from her ex-lover.
  3. It is also believed she killed her lover with the dagger.

Well, that is enough detail for the Inn at the moment. More details will emerge organically as the players interact with Mya and her staff.

Next time I will continue with Sheriff John Briarfoot and a few details of his office.

 

Building the Town, One Block at a Time

I needed a starting point for the adventurers. The Sheriff of Bree has sent out an “Adventurers Wanted” notice, so I had to create a place for this meeting to happen. If you are like me, you’ve spent hours drawing and re-drawing the layout of a town. It struck me that most players don’t care about the town map! They could care less if Lord Farthing’s warehouse is adjacent to the Merchant Guild Hall. I think we, as DMs care much more about this because that is just something we enjoy dithering with.

In making the town map for Bree, I asked myself “what are the major needs that need to be met for the adventurers?” First off, is food and drink, a place to hole up, and a rumor mill. Taverns, both in fantasy and in the real world, fill those needs. Maybe not as a place to “hole up” overnight, but almost all night.

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The map I used was from Wizardawn’s site. Here you will find an incredible treasure trove of useful DM tools. The village geomorph’s come from Joe Wetzel at Inkwell Ideas. I bought the cardstock version of this at GenCon last year. Good stuff!

After finding a couple “blocks” of village, I was ready to add some locations. I picked a building for The Dead Pony Inn…it has a signboard with a pony, all four legs sticking straight up in the air.

The second place I added was Sheriff John Briarfoot’s office/residence. The third location was the church/temple. I didn’t have a name for it just yet. I had to settle on a pantheon of gods before I named it. I knew that it would be a temple of a lawful/good deity.

So, I’ve grown pretty lackadaisical in my old age. I’m not worrying too much about the details for now. In fact, I’ve found that so much of this will write itself when the players get involved. I have to remind myself to let go of the control. If I add too many details, the players will take it off the rails anyhow. So each location is kind of like a sandbox of its own. The PCs actions and dialogue with NPCs found therein will give me more ideas and details for the place. If the players help shape these things, they are more apt to become invested in the whole deal.

There are other places on the map that I need to add. Some type of mercantile, and notable residents. Next time, I will add some details on the tavern.

Adventurers Wanted

My new campaign begins with a town. The town of Bree. Yes, I know there is a town called Bree in the Lord of the Rings novels, but this isn’t the same one. I just like the name.

I’m wanting Bree to be a home base for the PCs as they begin their adventuring careers. Bree is located on the border of the kingdom of Irie. To the north of Bree lies the Wilderlands, untamed and dangerous. To the west are the Five Kings, mountains named after the dwarven kings that mine below them. Southward is the county seat, a larger town called Haversham. Beyond that will be larger cities that I haven’t thought about yet.

The east is unknown territory yet. I do intend on placing the Silverwoods somewhere to the east. The Silverwoods is an ancestral home to the elves.

My main concern is to detail the town of Bree and a few areas for exploration near the town. With that, I began thinking about the town and the Sheriff. He is a hobbit by the name of John Briarfoot. Sheriff John is a retired adventurer who has settled down for a quieter life of semi-retirement. That is until recently, when goblins began lurking around the town and harassing the citizens and merchants. Sheriff John quickly placed a wanted notice and sent it southward to the larger towns and cities.

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