I’m rewriting from memory a huge module I don’t like very much, a la the What on the Borderwhere. This is part 2. The basic principles are:
- Look at the next thing in the adventure for 2 or so minutes.
- Reproduce it from memory.
- Fill in the gaps in memory with imagination.
- Always rename the thing.
- Let misremembrances gain momentum.
- At the end of each post, plan the things to do next.
The Bound Folk
Functional, sturdy clothing. Simple food but good wine. Every one to their place. Not generous, but desire return business. Any heritage or gender, but are likely to hide visible signs of difference behind clothing where they can.
The bound folk are 1. Hunched; 2. Stocky; 3. Wiry; 4. Hale. They speak 1. Tersely; 2. Hushed tones; 3. Husky; 4. Quietly. They wear 1. Warm and layered; 2. Many pockets; 3. Functional; 4. A glimpse of beauty, briefly.
They might say:
- Nothing, to a stranger
- Free folk aren’t welcome here
- The devil herself sent you
- Mother Night’s mercy
- Leave and choke on fog
- A violent outburst
- I shall do it, for the sins of my ancestors
- Always keep the fountain flowing
- Harm a raven, catch the devil’s eye
- Directions to the next location, in hushed and hurried tones
- Morning Lords light
- Directions to another, distant Bound Folk, one they don’t think well of
- Hurry out now, it’s closing time (when it’s clearly not)
- Come back after closing time (if you have earned their trust)
The Free Folk
Colourful tents and wagons. Flavourful food. Itinerant workers. Never pinch a penny. Generous with their gifts. Any heritage or gender, welcoming to all.
The free folk are 1. Lithe; 2. Old but hale; 3. Sparkling eyes; 4. Rotund. They wear 1. Flowing and trailing; 2. Vibrant colours; 3. Fabulous millinery; 4. Ringing jewellery. They speak 1. Confidently; 2. Melodically; 3. As if whispering a secret; 4. With forbidding.
They might say:
- Thank the devil (for our liberty)
- Whatever it takes (to gain intelligence for von Straud)
- Stay on the road! There are terrors in the woods
- A warning for whatever the local danger is
- Directions to anywhere you ask, always with unasked for opinions
- The devil’s gaze on you! (this curse is fruitless, but they do not believe it to be)
- Directions to a fortune teller (charlatan, or not?)
- A song or poem about the history of Sumerkii
- An offering of a meal and a tent to sleep in (expected to be returned)
- An invitation to dance (and perhaps, more?)
- An offer to buy or sell a good or service strange or unusual (that may be true, or not)
- A secret, whispered, in a riddle, with a wink as they twirl away or disappear into shadow
- We do not go into that place, in a hushed tone with a warding sign
- Only we can wayfind through the fog (but avoiding to answer why)
These two sections were presented as a few pages of facts, rumours, and knowledge about the two folk or that they might possess. Too much to read in two minutes, let alone remember (or use!) so I thought squeezing what I remembered into a feels practical lists might be more useful. And again I’m leveraging the suit contents so that this can be an encounter generator. I want to add a “14 secrets a free folk might have” and same for the bound folk, but there’s nothing in the text to support it. Maybe I put it on a to do list if I end up liking the results enough.
Random Encounters in Sumerkii Vale
During the day, draw a minor arcana. At night, draw a minor and a major arcana, taking the major arcana if the value is higher than the minor. Face cards always count as lower than a major arcana. If the cards have equal value, you find sign or trail of the encounter. Suggestions for signs or trails are found in parentheses.
A. Bound folk (10-20), looking for a lost child (a large disorganised party has passed through here)
2. Mountain folk (6-8), laying in wait but unlikely to engage (bones and a well-concealed fire)
3. A grave, makeshift, or ornate, perhaps violated (for commemoration, a candle lit twinkling just out of sight, or a trail of flowers)
4. An angry mob, searching for someone who wronged them, perhaps the party, von Straud, or a local witch (a gathering of torches in the distance or tracks of a large mob)
5. A swarm of ravens flocking to scavenge something that may be valuable (skeletons of various sizes, picked clean by birds)
6. A wolf-pack (6-8), hunting for pray, always lead by a she-wolf of uncanny intelligence who always returns, changed (the howls of a wolf-pack, not far enough away; ravens burst from a nearby tree in shock)
7. Free folk guides (4-6) secretly in league with von Straud, leading their prey to their doom (a subdued free folk campfire, from which cruel laughter floats)
8. A spy for von Straud, perhaps a raven, a bat, a wondering vistani, a lone and calm wolf, watching or trying to take a personal item (a token of von Straud’s favour, perhaps a broach, a mark, or a scar)
9. A scarecrow with knives for claws hunting ravens (a trail of straw leading into the wilderness)
10. A corpse, perhaps a wolf killed by many birds, or spears, a bound folk torn apart by wolves, or a party member whose flesh flakes away if moved (a terrible stench, or circling ravens); P. A wereraven, spying and reporting to their secret society (a wereraven in human form, convinced the party are likely to help after spying on them, wanting to impart a clue)
N. Werewolves in human form (1-6), looking to deceive prospective prey (a body, torn apart by wolves)
Q. An elderly lady and an even more elderly donkey, bringing pastries to market (scattered pastries by the edge of the road, mostly eaten, and the appearance of someone dragged a short distance from the road)
K. Druids of Sumerkii (4-6), hallowing a grove in the name of von Straud, sacrificing something that wishes not to be (chanting and screaming coming from a dense grove just within earshot)
11. Werewolves (1-3), hunting or deceiving (a bundle of folded up clothes hidden in a tree hollow or such)
12. The ghost of a supplicant murdered by von Straud, perhaps murderous themselves, perhaps warning, perhaps desiring a body for vengeance or to succour von Straud again (a freshly murdered body, done delicately or in a rage, with no tracks to or from the site)
13. An unrighteousness swarm of bats obscures the moon, casting all in darkness before it disappears (a mound of guano, beneath a depleted but huge tree)
14. A skeletal rider holding a rusted lantern, searching for a way beyond the fog (a warhorses’ footprints)
15. A lone child, lost in the woods, befriended by ghosts who are protecting her (a lost toy, and a trail of child’s footprints)
16. A flickering light attempts to lure strangers into its haunted tower, perhaps to its zombie family, or it’s violated grave to be righted
17. Hateful plant-creatures, the blighted land awakened, blindly seeking release (uprooted shrubs, trees, or vines, with laboured and dragged trails into the dark)
18. The undead bodies of bound folk (4-8), their souls stripped and reincarnated, shambling in search of souls to claim
19. Wolves the size of grizzly bears (1-4), her hunting hounds on their own time, out to terrorise or feed (huge wolf footprints, always leading back to Castle von Straud)
20. Long-dead bodyguards of von Straud (1-3), animated through foul necromancy, their limbs remaining animate after they are severed, on a mission (a limb, clutching a treasure or letter, haplessly wriggling back to its owner)
21. A long-dead knight of Order of the Great Serpent, slaying von Straud’s minions, or those who thinks are aligned with her (a vampire’s thrall, half-changed werewolf or druid, slain by the sword).
Came up with a new draw here, because it felt like one table can hold all the necessary information. It’s a neat draw: 24 items, 10 that can always occur, 4 and 10 that are binary conditional. Challenges my memory a lot, though!
Mountain folk??!! There’s a third folk??!! If they aren’t detailed elsewhere in this product, it’s second thing I’ll have to add myself (those keeping count, the other was secrets for folk to hold).
Yipes, that took longer than I expected it to, so I’ll post it now and reschedule the valley map, the valley key, and the village (as yet unnamed) until the next post in the series.
23rd July 2022