Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cysgod Short Adventure and Setting

Cysgod: Only a few miles from Aed’s Dale and the borders of the dunaelf kingdoms, the stronghold of Cysgod is carved into a massive boulder. The Grey call it the Stone Keep. From under it a spring wells up and flows through the fissures in the rock, which then spills over its side as a waterfall, masking its entrance. Outside Cysgod, dozens of houses are built in the treetops. The Grey spend most their time on the group around orbs of light and warm fires telling stories. There are structures in the trees to sleep in at night. In times of danger they retreat to the Stone Keep. The Grey of Cysgod are well known to the nearest dunaelf kingdom and they meet frequently.

The main players:

The Grey: The Cadfael clan nhymors to Cysgod very often. It is their home for more than half the year. It's proximity to the dunaelf kingdom of Krasny makes the clan there rich in traded goods. The Grey are close allies to Krasny and they frequent the kingdom.

House Tadamek: The head of House Tadamek is King Riam ruler of Krasny. House Tadamek is undoubtedly the most powerful dunaelfin house (of Naerod). House Tadamek is aligned with the rival House Vogt (an unlanded house) through marriage. As the ruling family of Krasny, most if not all members reside in the capital, which is home to many unlanded houses. Krasny was the first established dunaelfin state. The southern foothills of Krasny are protected from the worst of the mountain weather. Agriculture, wood, and game are plentiful. House Tadamek claims much of the land in the lowland valleys as well as prominent roads, including the Long Road, which passes through the Grey's kingdom. Trade between Krasny and the Grey is frequent and once a year King Hywel grants passage through Greywood to the Free Realm, much to the benefit of both kingdoms. House Tadamek’s relationship with the Grey ensures the house remains strong. The support of the Grey in the Third Dunaelf War also serves to improve the popularity of House Tadamek throughout Naerod.
Dunaelfs of House Tadamek are typically light of hair and eyes. Their noses are usually quite large and eyes deep set. Dunaelfs from House Tadamek are markedly taller than other dunaelfs, averaging the height of a short man. Their seal is that of a castle with three towers and a crow. 

Order of the Horned Helm: The Order of the Horned Helm is a military order of the Church of Toth dedicated to defending the homeland against the Grey. The order does not volunteer recruits to the southern army, despite the current alliance between Krasny and the Grey. The order mans Örm Castle instead as a solitary bulwark against the hated and feared Grey. The order is not popular, nor powerful within the capital. However, along the southeastern border they are well supported and depended upon. Of all the orders, the Order of the Horned Helm is the only military order to specialize in forest warfare. Their insignia is that of a stag, depicted as if roughly hewn from stone. The current leader of the Order of the Horned Helm is Grandmaster Voloh. Grandmaster Voloh is known for his cunning. He intimidates even the High Bishop. 

Plots in the Background:
1. Maetra has taken castle Bridlic. The Grey and dunaelfs of Krasny are allies. The strength of this alliance is about to be tested. An army of the Grey and Krasny dunaelfs are marching north through Aed's Dale to recapture the fort. On the march to Bridlic the allied army is surprise attacked from the hills. A thousand howls of wolves come from the east and from the western hills, the Knights of the Horned Helm drive into the allies. The battle is quick, but not completely over. The allied army is driven into the forest and the highly disciplined Knights follow in pursuit. Within 2d20 minutes of our adventure, the horns of the retreating allied army sound and soon after groups of dunaelfs and Grey are driven into Cysgod. Soon after that the Horned Helms arrive.

Plots in the Foreground:

Depending on the characters reaction the adventure changes. The armies of the Horned Helm are too great to face as a lone adventure party.

1. If the adventurers flee, some of the clan hides in the Stone Keep. They will eventually be found by the Knights and taken to a prison camp deep in the Dale. Eventually, the prisoners will be removed to Bridlic, where rescue is near impossible. Harrying the march is one possibility, but keep in mind dozens of allied warriors roam the forest. A regrouping effort could prove fruitful, but be quick about it. The camp is only two days march into the Dale, and Bridlic only another three days beyond that.

2. The adventurers stay and fight. This could mean death, but more likely they will be taken alive. The adventurers could also hide in the Stone Keep in which case they will certainly be taken alive. As prisoners, escape the march or wait until nightfall.

The small plots: 

1. The wolves. Alliance members claim the wolves were no mundane creatures. Black and terrible, there were perhaps less than previously thought, but also larger and fiercer. These creatures are fenris and the shadows that follow them. How and why were these creatures there? Perhaps the rumors of a witch in the Dale bear some significance- some witches are known to commune with demons. An alliance of a powerful coven and the Knights of the Horned Helm could prove disastrous for the region, especially if Maetra puts its full weight into the invasion. Alliance members may not have information, but remember there are many creatures of the forest one can ask, particularly the crows.

2. Within 1d6 days of the story, a fleeing gnome wife and husband are fleeing atop stags from a giant black wolf (fenris). Let's hope you cross their paths in time to save them. If saved, these rare creatures have excellent gifts for our adventurers and also news of the darkness enveloping the Dale.

If it interests the adventurers, meeting the gnome can be interesting in other ways as this is Aed and his wife Afon for which the Dale was named.

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