The Shrine of St. Lark

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Laurent Talen pressed his hand against the child’s forehead. She was burning with fever and barely conscious, and St. Alban’s monastery was still a day’s ride to the north. The cold wind cut through his winter cloak.

His granddaughter was Marielle and worth more to the old man than all the silver he’d earned as a craftsman. The monks of St. Alban could help her if time were on his side. But the sun was disappearing beyond the peaks of the Five Kings and the road would be even more dangerous.

Laurent eased down from his horse and gently laid the child at the base of a cherry tree, its branches bare and offering little shelter. Snow had fallen that morning and he brushed it away and placed his cloak down first. Marielle’s eyes fluttered open and she whispered, Papa, can we pick some wildflowers?

No, my love, you need to rest first and then we shall see.

Sing me a song then, she looked up into his eyes.

Laurent Talen sang the simple song that Marielle often heard while the old man worked in his shop. As he did so, he had a vision of St. Lark pulling a warm cloak over his granddaughter.

Laurent’s voice faltered and stopped. Sing, Papa! He looked down and Marielle was smiling back at him. Her eyes were clear and the fever was gone.

He began to sing again. This time with Marielle’s voice joining his. Cherry blossoms fell around them like snow.

[Game Notes for the Shrine of St. Lark]

The Shrine of St. Lark lies along the north road leading out of Bree. The road has grown wild in recent years, but cart tracks still mark the path.

Thirty years ago the north road was heavily traveled by merchants and pilgrims. Merchants were taking the north route through a mountain pass into Ren Cele. The pass led into the Five Kings and the dwarves of Irendall were open to trade at that time. The faithful made pilgrimages to the monastery of St. Alban to show their devotion to Eos.

No one uses this road any more. Warfare between the kingdoms of man weakened the security of the land, allowing orcs and gnoll raiders to sweep through the north kingdoms.

A small roadside shrine marks the site. St. Lark, the patron saint of music, is honored here with a stone statue. The statue is badly damaged and its left arm is nothing more than a stone stump. There is still power here for the wind dies down and birds gather to warble. It is said that the cherry trees surrounding it bloom longer than any others.

The faithful that come to petition St. Lark may (if they appear truly deserving) receive some blessing from Eos.

The DM could roll 2d6 as a secret saving throw for each petitioner. To this roll she could add a modifier of +1 or more to reflect the nature and sincerity of the petitioner. If the save is made, the petitioner is granted one temporary luck point (no time limit to use it). A luck point may be used to alter by one point (+/-) any die roll that affects them.

If the save results in an outstanding success of 12+ the petitioner may be given one of the following blessings in addition to the bonus luck point. (DM may choose or roll)

1. The petitioner gains the insight of Wisdom, gains Wisdom as an ability and also +1 to saves vs magic
2. One weapon upon the petitioner becomes blessed, functions as a +1 magical weapon
3. The petitioner gains blessed protection, adds +1 to their armor class regardless of wearing armor or not
4. All water or wine carried on their person becomes a healing draught restoring full hit points when drunk
5. The petitioner is protected from all disease
6. Every song they sing for others will be so beautiful that they will receive a +2 favorable reaction

Note that all of these blessings will last until the cherry blossoms at St. Lark’s Shrine have all fallen (mid summer).


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Love Poems of Lower Lompoc

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Photo by Sindre Aalberg on Unsplash

Granville Sombers opened his leather backpack and spilled the contents out onto the dusty stone floor. The dried rations and iron spikes weren’t needed any longer. His eyes were on a much bigger prize. The shelf in front of him was filled with cubbyholes and bins. All of which held some moldy looking scrolls and bound parchments.

It didn’t cross Granville’s mind that actually knowing how to read may help him at this moment. He just scooped up as many musty old scrolls as he could fit into his backpack. His partner, Gervais lay propped against the door. His bloody hands holding a heavy crossbow, aiming it down the darkened hallway.

They had killed three giant rats while making their way down into this lower room of the monastery. The ruins were not much more than a jumble of stone, but Granville had found a covered entrance. It was little more than a chimney, but he knew that a great reward could be waiting.

Granville grabs a few more scrolls with colorful red tassels and puts them hurriedly in his bag. This was all they had found. He hoped that the wizard who had hired them would get what he wanted.

Somethings coming! croaks Gervais as he tries to stand. Granville rushes to help him up and they make for the chimney. He pushes the warrior towards the hole. The rope waiting there is the best thing he has seen all day.

Granville climbs the rope like a squirrel and steadies it for the warrior. Gervais drops his crossbow and pulls himself upward, his wound still bleeding freely. Together they struggle get him up the hole. If I tested my blade on that rope, I’d bet that oaf would fall and break both legs, the thought flickers through Granville’s mind. He decides not to pursue that line of reasoning any longer for the large man grabs hold of the edge and pulls himself up and out.

The warrior cuts off a bit of his tunic and pushes it against his side muttering, Let’s get out of these accursed ruins and back to Bree. That drunken wizard will be light in the purse after looking at our newfound library!

Later that night in the cramped and swaying chicken hut of Cornwall the Odd, the two dungeon rats stand before the old wizard. Granville looks about the room, wondering what treasures might be stuffed away in the myriad of cupboards and crannies. Gervais just stands there growing nauseous at the swaying of the bird legged hut.

The wizard cocks an eye at each scroll, holding them up to better see. A glowing orb of green light floats over his head, summoned up by him moments before.

Hmmm…well, well…looks like most of this is rubbish…see how the writing has been stained…’damp dungeons destroy delicate documents’…my master taught that to me when I was a boy…I can’t remember his name, but I do recall he had extremely small eyes and not a tooth in his head. Oh, well…too bad…but wait, there’s one more here...The Love Poems of Lower Lompoc…

Granville’s heart sunk. No treasure here, not one copper piece in the whole pile, he thought sullenly. That drunken wizard might even turn us into goats for wasting his time.

The wizard looks up at the two men, beaming…Excellent work! I haven’t seen a copy of the Lompoc poems in a decade! You’ve done a fine job, boys! Here’s your payment…he throws them a small sack of coins.

As the two men hurry to leave, Granville can’t help but say to the wizard, I thought you’d be wanting some spells or such?

Cornwall the Odd, already deep into reading the scroll scoffs, Why would I need more spell scrolls? I’m a wizard!

At that Granville exits the hut, actually is more like ejected from the doorway as the chicken hut shifts abruptly to scratch one leg against the other.

Notes on miscellaneous books and scrolls

The wise adventurer should never judge a book by its cover, that is…if he can read it at all. Here are a few titles that may be valuable to the discerning collector.

Migratory Routes of the Green-backed Stirge
Garden Gnomes–Friend or Foe?
Weather Patterns of Lower Lompoc
Customs of the Common Orc
Bridge Building for Fun and Profit or Why Witches Don’t Make Good Bridges
The Crotian Hierarchy
101 Ways to Cook Hedgehog
Secrets of the Dwarven Forge
A Treatise on Bottled Lightning
Three Years Underground
The Sights and Smells of Lower Lompoc
How to Marry a Maiden with Huge Tracts of Land
Stranded in the Fingerlakes
Three Days in Lumpoc~a Tale of Woe

 

The Templar

 

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Photo by Lennart Tange

Jules D’armond paced the grounds of St. George. The Reverend Mother had retreated to her room for prayer and truth be known, to seek solace from the young templar-in-training. Some young men and women take holy orders to become leaders in the church. Others take up arms to protect it. Jules was a D’armond. His family had a tradition of taking up the mace for Eos. He was also a cousin to the Reverend Mother.

Jules wanted to do more than his current assigned duties. Transporting elderly townsfolk to church, carting the orphans to the river to fish, and occasionally shooing away Cornwall’s chicken hut was not quite the adventure Jules had wanted. He knew that he was only a novice, but he still pressed Mother Patience for more important duties.

Jules wanted to travel the north road, protecting pilgrims as they made their way to St. Alban’s monastery. Trouble is, no one seemed to want to go north. The road was wild now and pilgrims were staying home. Recently, goblins have been roaming the area and Sheriff Briarfoot had made a call for adventurers to help. Jules was chomping at the bit to travel with a group to explore Fort Halberd, but his obedience to Mother Patience was part of his training and kept him in check. He had heard tell of a shrine to a long dead saint and was begging the Reverend Mother to tell him more about this site. She had balked at Jules’ insistence to travel the north road and find the shrine. All things in their own time, Jules. she would tell him until it became almost a mantra.

Jules thought about what she’d said. When his temper cooled and he cleared his mind, he knew it made sense. He hardly had the equipment to begin his training…a used set of chain mail, a battered but carefully repaired shield with the symbol of Eos painted on it, and a worn mace. No horse, no pilgrims–just a strong-willed reverend mother and a plow horse and cart for giving rides to parishioners on muddy days.

Mother Patience sat at her desk, thinking about her young cousin. She had no doubt that he would grow into a stalwart defender of the church, but he was too headstrong. She smiled at that notion. He is too much like me, the D’armond blood runs strong. She knew that one day soon, he would be traveling into the wild.

Some game notes on Jules D’armond

  1. He is a templar-in-training. In Pits & Perils terms, he is a 1st level cleric. Jules has strong faith in Eos and was granted powers per the cleric rules.
  2. As a cleric of Eos, Jules has taken holy orders. The vows require him to live a life of simplicity, a vow of poverty (having no material goods beyond what is needed to perform his duty), and to remain chaste. Templars are not forbidden to wed, but his vow of chastity prevented him from intimacy until wed. Jules, like other templars, must shed no blood. Sharp weapons of any kind are not permitted. Also, violence must be measured in proportion to the situation. The path of Eos is always paramount.
  3. As a templar-in-training he is under the direct orders of the Knight-Commander of the Templars. This unfortunately this was his uncle, Corin D’armond. Jules was chosen to serve Mother Patience as the D’armond family tradition continues.

 

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.