This guy is in so much trouble its not even funny. Will o whisps are very unforgiving. Time to roll up a new PC.
Footprints 22 | Masthead by Zhu
The Grove of Ghost-lights by Markus Holzum
"Dolgrim’s tower was recently damaged, however, in an incident that occurred three weeks before the player characters’ presence in the surrounding mountains. During that terrible event Dolgrim mysteriously disappeared, and his tower suddenly slumped and shifted, killing Aeric, his lone apprentice. Even more devastating, after days spent searching for their master and attempting to recover the apprentice’s body from its resting place, Dolgrim’s dozen retainers and servants were set upon by an army of goblins and svartlings that had been scouting the area. Seeing that Dolgrim’s tower was in distress, and already preparing for their springtime raids, the humanoids immediately shifted their objective and attacked 'Blacktop Vale'. Thus, only four days after the mysterious incident Blacktop Vale was sacked by a humanoid army that killed the valley’s remaining inhabitants and razed all of its wooden structures. Presently, a small contingent of goblins resides in the tower, and the bulk of the raiders have moved on to their seasonal raiding."
Basically I'm looking at 'Black Top Vale' as an introduction for a party within the Keltic regions of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg Dolgrim was a descendant of the Hyperboreans land holders who once worked their human serfers in the area. Dolgrim is the heir to the Hyperborean ancient sorcerous knowledge which he used in the service to the Dwarven clans in the area. These disgusting creatures where tolerated by the locals because they held back the forces of Chaos. Dolgrim's tower held back those forces! But the forces of chaos have been enboldened because of the destruction of the tower. These Dwarven clans may actually be Dwergaz which are the former humanoid slaves of the children of Ymir. They bare the clear maker marks of their former masters who still toil away beneath the moss covered rocks. 'Blacktop Vale' is such a center of political interest that it marks a point of occult power within the land here;
"The domain of Dolgrim the Warlock is a high mountain valley nestled below Blacktop Peak, an 11,000 foot mountain capped by a massive, granitic dome. Small streams course around the mountain’s eastern and western slopes and then converge just south of its base. Nearly dry in autumn and winter, the resulting brook cuts down the center of Blacktop Vale before meandering through the surrounding mountains and becoming a tributary of a major river system. Water is plentiful in the warlock’s valley, and a dozen cattle and a herd of goats are afforded sufficient grazing on its pastures. Coming across the treeless, lightning-blasted mountain a dozen years earlier, Dolgrim identified the place as an energy nexus and endeavored to erect a small tower below it. From such a base the magic-user could study the power unleashed by thunderstorms and learn how to siphon away some of the electricity that frequently hammers the mountain. The warlock parlayed with Ordovar, the dwarf lord who held dominion over Blacktop Vale, and eventually gained permission to construct a tower there. With Ordovar’s thanes helping in its construction, Dolgrim’s tower was erected in less than a year’s time"
The PC's are going to be called in because the Keltic clan lords are beyond nervous & they want to know what's happened to Dolgrim the Warlock. This isn't simply another treasure raid & dungeon run. The tribal elders themselves are nervous & the proto Greco Roman feel of 'Black Top Vale' gives this adventure some real Celtic or Arthurian mythological character too it.
Merlin, The Enchanter vu par Louis Rhead dans Sir James Knowles's King Arthur and His Knights, 1923
I can see rune gravers, scouts, bards, & especially druids being incredibly useful here but I can't stress the importance of fighters & knights being at the center of any party. But a wizard or some variant is needed. A cleric or two might help with the adventure's events.
I can totally see linking 'Black Top Vale' for OSRIC with T1 The Village of Hommlet as the humanoid forces of chaos begin to swarm the peninsula to the "west" of Khromarium which would be ideal for setting this up.
T1 The Village of Hommlet leads into of course B2 Keep on the Borderlands both of which adventures have a far different meaning because of the incredibly harsh Hyperborean winters. These winters could be fueling the cults of chaos's rise as the humanoids are raiding & pillaging for human meat for the long coming Winter. This in turn fuels the elemental religion of chaos that the 'Caves of Chaos' temple has been using to grow its humanoid army.
This proto Greco Roman feel to the Keltic legacy of this region of Hyperborea has some solid roots in Celtic mythology that the dungeon master can take full advantage of. This is especially true injecting in the Fiend Folio's Xvarts into the campaign mix. This gives a regional feel to the events of 'Black Top Vale'.
With the humanoids on the move the obvious choice here would be to go with the classic T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax & Frank Mentzer. But let's take a different tactic here & hook the humanoid raiding into"The Rats in The Walls & Other Perils"adventure anthology “The Lamia’s Heart". In
“The Lamia’s Heart”: Your party are contracted by the nascent master of an unsanctioned thieves’ guild. To earn his favour, you must steal a singular gem from the mansion of a prominent merchant. Purloining this gem, however, may raise the ire of the city’s official thieves’ guild; notwithstanding, the reward is significant." But that merchant has ties to Dolgrim the Warlock thus bringing the regional troubles back into the heart of the Hyperborean capital.
Anyhow the growing military issue of the humanoid army is coming to haunt the PC's but the rising of the Elemental Evil religion is whole other blog entry. For the moment keep em rolling.
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