Echo Wood: Intro to Thornkeep

Last night we started a new thing. It can be hard to let go of an old thing, but really if you’re not having fun any more it isn’t worth hanging on to. Have you met anyone recently who is still really into U2? If you have, you can tell they aren’t enjoying it, they’re just hanging on because they think they owe it to themselves to maintain a love for something that long ago stop being any sort of fun at all. Better to bite the bullet and start something that will be fun. It was good while it lasted, then it wasn’t.
 
And what fun new characters are! Last night we were introduced to: 
Cyrus Green, Cleric of Erastil and budding village wise man. (Rolland)
Bam, Ifrit Alchemist and ticking dirty bomb. (Sean, like you had to guess)
Verne Luc Passpartou, Fetchling Ninja and gloryseeker. (Mike)
 
(We also got a peek at other characters that we rolled up as back-ups, including an unbelievably familiar Half-Orc fighter, an unbelievably wealthy Orc, Les Likely P.I., Rizzo the Rogue, a Druid and a Magus. *See the note at the bottom for Character Creation stuff).
 
These three had made their way to the Echo Wood, a wild area of the generally-fairly-wild anyway River Kingdoms, determined to delve into the mysterious ruin called the Emerald Spire. Cyrus was driven to end the threat to the fledgling communities that the weird presence of the Emerald Spire represents and to prove his worthiness to lead his village into the future. Verne was there for the oldest reason – fame and fortune. Bam was there for similar reasons, but also to reap the hidden arcana that must be held within the Spire. 
 
Hand drawn hex map. That's how you know this shit is serious.

Hand drawn hex map. That’s how you know this shit is serious.

 

The Emerald Spire lay in the Spire Glen, somewhere in the western Echo Wood. This area was claimed by no king and each settlement made its own laws – or didn’t, as the case may be. Of the three centers of habitation in the area Fort Riverwatch and Fort Inevitable were claimed as bases by knightly orders; the Knights of Iomedae and the Hellknights, respectively. These two stations guarded the Crusader Road, the main south to north route of men and materiel to the ongoing war against the demons of the Worldwound far to the north. It was also the main north to south route of coffins and cripples, for the same reason. Preying on this route and its travellers were – allegedly – many of the inhabitants of the third settlement, Thornkeep, about four or five miles into the Echo Wood. Reputed as a lawless and dangerous town, it lay fairly close to the Spire Glen within the Echo Wood.
 
Having passed by the busy muster at Fort Riverwatch earlier in the day, the three aspirants decided to take the road to Thornkeep and as they walked down the Dagger Road that led through the Echo Wood they were caught in a downpour that lasted the rest of the daylight hours. Churning the road to mud, the going was slow and miserable but shortly before sundown they came in sight of Brokenhelm Hill, upon which the castle of Thornkeep sat. Around the bramble-wrapped hill huddled the town of Thornkeep. They made their way along the road, past a few buildings and into a town green – a large open area with muddy patches and some bedraggled grass around which many stores and merchants were situated, although those all seemed to be closing for the evening. The town’s green wasn’t unoccupied either. Among the posts and troughs for horses slumped a man in stocks, who catching their eye, beckoned them over. He immediately asked them to free him as, he explained those who were due to free him had all fled indoors at the start of the afternoon’s deluge. Cyrus was cautious, keen not to step into a new town’s problems before he knew what was going on, but the cleric of Old Deadeye saw no sign of duplicity on the man’s handsome face. Still, it didn’t hurt to find out more. The man’s name was Edders and he was in stocks for starting a brawl, although truth be told he didn’t start it… his girlfriend did. He was practically a bystander. Anyway, he was due to be let out a while ago, but since he hadn’t been he was going to be late for his shift at the Greenforest Inn (he pointed to a nicely built fieldstone and timber building on the other side of the green). Cyrus, Verne and Baam still weren’t about to meddle like that, so they said they’d let someone at the Greenforest know. Edders seemed satisfied as it was a bit much to expect strangers to come to one’s aid in a town like Thornkeep.
 
Thornkeep_map-1
 
They made their way to the Greenforest Inn, Verne making a meal of the entry into the Inn and summoning the Innkeeper who bustled over to them. It seemed like a nice enough establishment and if the crowd inside was a bit rough around a couple of its edges, at least everyone there looked like they were there to drink and chat. The Innkeeper introduced himself as Shandar, proprietor, and when he heard of Edders’ plight cursed the barman but sent his other barman, Vess, out to get him. Meanwhile, they talked about accomodation – he had a three cot room upstairs which was all theirs for a gold piece a night, hot dinner and cooked breakfast thrown in. To the deal, not their room.
 
They agreed and took up a spot by a roaring wide fireplace, the better to dry their sodden clothes. They settled in besides a pair of amiable old duffers who – after sizing up the party of travellers as neither too threatening nor too enticing a target – turned out to be rather fabulous gossips. Bodlin and Rasgar held forth on a range of subjects, from the peculiarities of the town (everyone pays protection money to some power or another and you just have to get used to it, there are a community of goblins within the town’s walls and you just have to get used to that too) to the fate of various adventuring parties (it usually doesn’t end well and they’d have done it better, if only they were younger), to the possibility of a resurgence of the great Goblin Empire of Zog should several magical items of the era be reunited (which they agreed was an undesirable yet deeply unlikely prospect).
 
Cyrus ordered up a glass of apple cider and received a truly excellent local cider while the others ordered ales and were sufficiently pleased.  Edders put in an appearance after he had dried off and brought them another round of drinks while the Shandar wasn’t looking.
 
Your usual fantasy tavern thing.

Your usual fantasy tavern thing.

 
The aspiring dungeon raiders made enquiries of the two old fellows as to the major powers in town, once the subject of protection had come up. Baron Blackshield, current ruler of the town, is obviously a figure of of stature, but there was also The Three Daggers, a criminal enterprise that seemed to have the town sewn up; The Goldenfire Order, a fraternity of magic users headquartered in the town and the Blue Basilisks, a mercenary company likewise based in town.
 
These last two they thought may also be useful to aspiring adventurers – For a start, the Blue Basilisks typically posted jobs they couldn’t or wouldn’t take on a bulletin board out in front of their headquarters, just on the other side of the green. The Goldenfire Order, the two old gossips knew, were in a bit of a bind: the Order had been trying to get into the Halls Under The Hill for years now and the wizard who had the promising lead on how to get through the Door of Seven Stars had gone and disappeared into the Emerald Spire.
 
Hey! No spoilers, asshole.

Hey! No spoilers, asshole.

 
This mention of the Halls Under The Hill pricked the party’s ears and the two codgers were sort of suspecting it was why three obvious adventurers had come to town; our dungeon is every bit as good as the Emerald Spire, they sniffed. It’s an apparently a fairly famous ruin beneath Brokenhelm Hill. It’s been plundered this way and that for years now, but there’s a door that no-one has ever passed – the Door of the Seven Stars. There were two adventuring parties in town at this moment plundering the Halls Under The Hill – Garahal Silvercrown’s crew, from one of the neighbouring River Kingdoms and Rozimus of Tymon’s party. Bodlin had run into Rozimus the other day and he hadn’t looked like adventuring was agreeing with him at all. Beyond that, local idiots occasionally tried their hand and they suspected the disappearance of Adelind Fraston may also have something to do with the Halls, although Rasgar thought it more likely that she had run off with a local boy. The Frastons owned the orchard and press from whence Cyrus’s excellent cider had come.
 
They had a good chat while they spooned down their supper, but when they were done Verne suggested they go check out the Bulletin Board at the Blue Basilisk HQ. The rain had eased off and a fine mist now clung to the town as the sky darkened. But lengthening shadows aren’t much of a hindrance to a Fetchling. Actually, “do you want to see a lengthening shadow?” is pretty common pickup line among Fetchlings. Outside the mercenary HQ there was large wooden board, covered by a small roof, bearing several curled and faded paper notices. One newer notice, however, offered a 500gp reward for the safe return (or proof of death) of Garahal Silvercrown, son of Lord Silvercrown of Mivon. Nothing was mentioned about his companions, but maybe they weren’t lucky enough to have a nob as a father. From Rasgar and Bodlin’s account, Silvercrown’s crew had disappeared into the Halls Under The Hill recently and so were either making stellar progress or were dead.
 
Specifically they want the signet ring back, preferably attached to a live Garahal Silvercrown.

Specifically they want the signet ring back, preferably attached to a live Garahal Silvercrown.

 
Returning to the Greenforest, the two old gossips had finished their amiable drinking for the night and tottered off home, as had all of the locals, leaving only the inn’s guests in the taproom; a bunch of merchants acting cagey and nervous as though every other guest was plotting a raid on their wagons, which they may well have been. The three dried off again and went off to their room for a comfortable night’s sleep; intending to look into the missing Fraston girl and the Halls Under The Hill the following day…
 
Trivia:
Verne is a Fetchling – the first anyone has ever played: descendent of a human born on the plane of Shadow. They call themselves Kayal, they are slender, lithe people with dark hair and grey skin. Unusually, Verne has lambent blue eyes, while most have yellow eyes. However, Fetchlings can magically disguise themselves to look like any humanoid, although the process is taxing.
Bam is an Ifrit  – again the first anyone has ever played: the descendent of humans and the beings who inhabit the plane of Fire. It’s getting pretty Planescapey up in here. Ifrits are typically headstrong and independent, but their affinity with fire isn’t popular with the flammable races of the world. They have pointed ears, little horns and hair that mimics fire, by waving gently and flickering like flame. Oh and free Burning Hands once a day.
Cyrus is a Cleric of Erastil, which again, nobody has played before. Old Deadeye, a stag headed archer in one of his manifestations, is the God of the Hunt, the farmer, the family and barter. He is the patron of rural villages and pioneers, of those who rely on the land for their livelihood and of settlements cut into the great wilds of Golarion and as such is one of the oldest gods.
 
*Note on Character Creation: You get to roll 4d6 (drop the lowest die roll) seven times, also dropping the lowest overall score, to arrive at your six stats. Any Core or Base class is fine. Any of the Core races or Featured races are fine, except Drow. C’mon. Nobody gets the standard 1st level feat (Human bonus feat and fighter feat aren’t 1st level feats.) Instead you get two traits chosen from the pdf I have at my house or you get to roll three from the pdf. Either way, don’t take that first level feat. I would share the pdf if I could, but I can’t find it and I’m about ready to throw the internet out a window, so I’m done.

2 Comments on “Echo Wood: Intro to Thornkeep

  1. I just finished up my new character Quotzl, not to be confused with Kwaatzuul the Kinless. Sure, both are half-orcs. Sure, both are fighters. But the new Quotzl is the unlikely spawn of a fancy human lord and one confused Orc “lady.” He’s not as gigantic as Mr. the Kinless, and he uses a shield. A shield he can throw like Captain America! What? He’s also a spoiled, chaotic good worshipper of Caiden Cailean with a penchant for gambling and calligraphy. What?

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