It takes them another hour to reach the Keep during which it began to rain. Towards the northern end of the village stands the Keep. Its 12 foot stone walls and 20 foot central tower providing a place of safety and a good watch area. A small village has grown at its feet. A score of commoners huts and a few larger building are clustered around the approach to the Keep. In the middle of the village there is a small square and a tavern named The Salty Tusk.
Wet and miserable they enter the tavern. The drizzle of the cold rain is replaced by the cozy interior. They are greeted by the warmth of a large log fire, the laughter of locals enjoying the brew and flavoursome food. Shaking the water from their cloaks, the acolytes warm themselves by the fire.
Wiping his hands on his waste coat Eldred Hester, the rotund owner and bar keep of the Salty Tusk approaches the Azazel. “Whatcha ya have then?”. Smiling, Azazel orders food, beverages and lodging whilst striking up a conversation with Eldred. Over the course of the conversation he finds that the Castellan, Markis Greylock will pay a bounty of 10gp for every set of monster ears, that to find the caves simply follow the road to the east and the north east for one mile then turn off into the woods towards the north west for a few hundred yards, that recently a merchant has been imprisoned in the caves and will reward his rescuers, there are some lizard men in the marshes and big dog men live very high in the caverns.
By the corner of the tavern 5 mercenaries are enjoying a feast of ale and lamb. Mallory their leader lurches over to Azazel, “Hey priest, we heard that you were asking questions about the caves. We’ll join ya for a gold piece a man a day”.
Smiling to himself Azazel sees an opportunity. “I’ll pay your 2 gold pieces a man a day upon our return but I’ll not pay for cowards that don’t come back”.
“How do we know that you’ll pay priest?” asks Mallory.
“Because I’m a priest of Azazel and we are always true to our contracts” and spitting into his hand he extends it to Mallory. They shake and the contract is sealed…….
Well there you go. I didn’t figure that I’d be getting any help beyond my acolytes but now we’ve got 5 men in arms in tow thanks to the random encounters table for the tavern. I figured that each of the men at arms would be a level 1 fighter with Low Fantasy or 10 attribute points. Stats as follows: Str 13, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 10, Chr 8, HP 11, AC 14 (leather armour +2 and large shield +2), Spear (+2 to hit, 1d6+2). Their leader would be Mallory and he would be followed by Ada, Renard, Walt and Harti.
Some several years ago I built a 28mm castle and this had inspired me, the last time that I DM’ed the Keep on the Borderlands, to reimagine the Keep and its inhabitants. In the B2 module the Keep is an all but impregnatable fortress and I decided that it would be more interesting to make it a lot less imposing and to have the Castellan a shell of a former once great warrior, who was now finding it difficult to maintain the law in his surrounding lands. This had led to an increase in humanoid tribes residing in the local lands, the Caves of Chaos being re-inhabited and raids being undertaken against trading caravans and local villages.
To this end the Castellan, Markis Greylock, had called for adventurers and mercenaries to clear his lands in return for payment and possible title. Markis’s own forces have dwindled over the years and now consist of:
- Castellan Markis Greylock (Fighter Lvl 6), Plate, Shield, Long Sword, War Horse
- Captain Garin (F4), Plate, Shield, Long Sword, War Horse
- Sergeant Orlin (F3), Chain, Shield, 2 Handed Axe, Long Sword, Riding Horse
- Corporal Einhardt (F2), Chain, Shield, Long Sword, Riding Horse
- 8 x Men at Arms (F1), Chain Mail, Shield, Long Sword, Long Spear, Riding Horse
- 8 x Men at Arms (F1), Chain, Cross Bow, Long Sword
- 12 x Men at Arms (F0), Leather, Shield, Spear
- 8 x Men at Arms (F0), Bow, Dagger
The fighter level 1 men at arms are fighter character class, professional soldiers in the pay of their master and the F0 are local levy serving their lord in return for land rights, similar to the European feudal system.
Collectively there isn’t a lot of mobility with only 12 horses between the force and this is barely enough to provide a mobile ability to counter incursions and raids against Markis’s lands, hence why he needs the help of adventurers.