A Ruthless Frontier, Introduction and Adventure Hooks

MATERIALS FOR PLAYERS TO THIS THREAD

A Ruthless Frontier: Background

It is a time of war for Cellinor and Lord Borindin.  An uprising among the giant tribes in the south has begun.  The giants are pushing into the fertile Southern Lands and bringing a host of other creatures with them, they have somehow formed alliances, although exactly what those are is still rather unknown to any in the top brass of Borindin’s Lighted Troops.  What is known is that treaties have been broken, and the so called “ambassadors” of various orc and goblin tribes have not been heard from. Cillandar seems to be taking the threats seriously, finally. Finally, Borindin seems to recognize the need to protect it’s citizenry as a top priority instead of scouring the land looking for links to the past.

Refugees have begun seeking help in different areas, more fortified than in other places.  Farmsteads have been lost. The Southern Valley is central to the survival of Celn lands, and to it’s capitol city Cillandar. The King has tolerated the Frontier skirmishes throughout the years, but now full scale war has been waged.  Rumors of martial law has been declared by those caravanning but none of them have come from calm voices.  It is a time of rumor, of fear of pestilence and ambition. War brings death, but it also brings fortunes to the bold.  To the foolish, war can be hell.

This is the moment you find yourselves in the Southern Lands, near the time of the Fair. A gathering each harvest where adventurers come to congregate, and where those peasants brave enough to risk can bring more to their lives than what planting food crops in fertile soil can.

Consideration for players: Players arrive at the annual Fair in the hopes of earning money that could earn them the required fee to Cillandar or Cellione in a caravan of merchants. However, I will allow any backgrounds that don’t make it too difficult to get the group “together”….

Please read the two event stories below.  Our adventure for this thread will begin on the way to the annual fair. Character creation will occur in game, so you won’t need to bring anything to the first game. Except dice of course.

The Faces of

A Ruthless Frontier

It’s a time of war for Cellinor, the struggling young realm named for the King’s dead bride to be.  Yet, even here in a Land of darkness, heroes arise. Some aspire to wield his majesty’s sword and become Lights in the Southern Campaign or on patrol in her “corona”. Others, make their livelihood, and possibly their Legend, in betwixt these Battles.  Here are some of the many faces of A Ruthless Frontier encountered so far…

THE PARTY

Splendar the Magnificent

A young man from an out of the way hamlet in the Southern Valley, Splendar has an act of “magic” which stuns audiences young and old, sometimes literally. Although he’s done some traveling before, he has a feeling this year’s fair is going to be a real doozy, especially during the War. However, everything for Splendar seems to be changing after his events with the giants.  Who knows what doors will open with the materials he has found on the dead Lighted Magician, and who knows what powers he will discover now that he has “touched the void”…

“Sin”dy, his gorgeous assistant

Little is known of Sindy right now except that her beauty is unparalled, except of course for Splendar’s himself. Wherever she goes she attracts attention, let’s just hope that it’s always the right kind

Buttercup and her Wesley

Buttercup was born far from shops and markets.  Her simple life was fulfilled by the love of her Wesley. But, events conspire sometimes to change us whether we wish them to or not. When Wesley decided to travel to the Fair this season, Buttercup warned against it, hearing of the news of the War to the South.  But then things took a turn for the strange.  Buttercup had always had a sort of premonition since she was younger, but suddenly her dreams and visions were becoming more clear.  A voice, female and powerful, became speaking to her, warning yet urging her to travel to the Fair.  But when the giants attacked, Buttercup realized that at least one of her premonitions was true.  Now if she can just figure out why she is destined to know about these strange fellow travelers and what her dreams mean…

Angeles and Argus, Twin Brothers

Some people have secrets, and then some people have secrets that they aren’t people.  Angeles and Argus fall into the latter category.  Early in life, a tragic and still mysterious attack ruined their childhood.  Now, the two half-vampire twins have decided that their lifestyles are better kept secret by traveling and staying on the go.  Their profile has always been to roam alone, just the two of them, but now their paths have been entwined with this “magician” and the girl with visions. How did she know what they would do? And now, where will their travels take them, in a land where martial law could mean their deaths…

THE NPCS

Fairmaster Lloyd Richardson

His Courtesy, Master Richardson, is a man of noble lineage. Coming during the Lighted Age in the Southern Valley, that’s saying something.  Master Richardson conducts the Fair and liaisons between his Majesty’s forces and the Fair merchants and event coordinators. His otherwise easy job is quite a bit more complicated this year as he must do all this within the confines of the ancient keep known as Outpost 51.

Jed and Danny Eckert

Jed was the last surviving Light during the battle with the Giants outside the Caravan’s trip to Outpost 51 and the Fair. He has made friends with Angeles and Argus as he believes the brothers have natural potential to be great warriors. Jed’s twin brother is Danny, who appears to have as much honor and potential in the King’s Campaign as his brother.

Rhett Spellsword and his pet, Squatch, the Ogre

Rhett is a gruff little Dwarf. Many rumors exist about where Squatch came from, but one thing is for sure, “Squatch Love Rhett!”  He’d love you too for the right price, but mostly Squatch challenges Fair goers at a game of strength that earns Rhett his livelihood.

“The Teller”

The party was in for a real treat the night The Teller told of the Three and the Ketian Lair.  Normally, these tales are kept to the way of the telling of yore, but this teller went a bit too far. He was subsequently dragged out by Members of the First Order of the Flame. His whereabouts are unknown.

Brunt Redwood

Brunt was  the caravan Leader for your hamlets to the Fair. It appears as though Brunt was not as rough and ready as you imagined. During the giant attack he hid along with his forces. Luckily, the giants were dispatched by the party, and he had opportunity to explain how he was guarding the women and children.

Aunt Floyd and Uncle Honeysuckle

The aunt and uncle of Splendar.  Their stories, I am sure, will be soon to be told in glorious detail.

Henri “Hank the Tank” Merriweather

A dwarven mason, Henri had fallen on hard times.  He had to finish a job and couldn’t arrange for his young daughter to be anywhere else. So, taking her to his jobsite she was trapped beyond the walled structure he was building.  Won’t you help him get her back?

Jarvis, Brewmaster and Proprietor of “The Three Legged Pig,  Home of Cellinor’s Finest “Hobgoblin Ale”

Jarvis was given the grandest cheer you had heard from anyone entering the Fair grounds. Apparently his Hobgoblin brew really is as good as it is cracked up to be.  His mobile brewery, The Three Legged Pig, is placed and set up in only a matter of minutes by his Halfling workers, giving the feel of home to many a weary traveler. 

Bishop Belloran

The Keeper of the Flame himself, Belloran is known to attend the Fair most years in the King’s Honor.  This year, he is rumored to be more than an honorary attendee and it is even said that Belloran may be giving orders during the Southern Spear Campaign into the giant and Lands of Ice to the South.  His religious zeal and divinity is matched only by his ruthless adherence to the strict rule of the Silver Flame, what Belloran calls the “Guiding Light” for all good folk in the land.

Malorus the King’s Mage

Little is known of Malorus. Lately, Malorus has been spending most of his time securing the magical beasts captured for this year’s opening ceremonies during the fair.  His many assistants usually earn a king’s ransom selling, appraising and identifying items during the fair, a moonlighting gig that Malorus is said to greatly encourage.

Jadus, Reverend Sister

No information as of Session 1.

Reverent Mother, Linta

No information as of Session 1.

OTHER TERMS:

Outpost “51”-One of the largest and most well fortified of the ancient sites Borindin personally chose to protect the Southern Valley. Outpost 51 represents a gateway to the Icy Lands to the South and is the rally point for retreat by the Southern Spear should the campaign go badly.

The Fair- The yearly event in the Southern Valley.  Where heroes become heroes and where ordinary folk make their living, or find their fortunes.

The Southern Valley- The large valley of exceptional soil where the major food crops of Cellinors citizens are grown.  The Southern Valley represents the bread basket without which, Cillandar, Cellione and the Lighted Realm itself would fall back into darkness. 

The SOUTHERN SPEAR-The King’s campaign to finally put an offensive into Giant Lands.  Little is known of the extent to which the Southern Spear has had success.  However, since the garrisons left, there have only been few attacks on the many Outposts on the Southern Valley’s Frontier. 

Lord Borindin-The King of Cellinor and Servant of the Light himself.  His story is told in your ALIND notebook.

Cellinor, Cillandar and Cellione- Cillandar and Cellione are the Sister Cities of Cellinor, the Lighted Realm.  Lands outside the realm’s border are either known as the Inner Wilds if inhabited by more civilized races like elves, dwarves of Halflings, or as OUTER WILDS if they represent unexplored areas.  Much rumor exists behind the borders of Cellinor.

KET and the INPENETRABLE PEAKS- A land of frost, death and much superstition, especially to those who live in view of it’s terrible peaks.  The stories of KET, of the THE THREE, and of the End Days are so intertwined, that one can barely speak of them without inciting panic among those listening.

Cellinor’s Martial Law-During the play of the Shielded Mothers, Bishop Belloran, announced the need to enact Martial Law.  All patrons, merchants or servants of the Fair are subject to search or seizure if they carry contraband deemed harmful to his majesty’s subjects. Furthermore, spies of the Ketian Leadership, or those deemed spies by either action or witness of action, may be hung, or burned until dead after a proper trial from a Member of the First Order of the Flame. As Belloran likes to say, “Those who walk within the Light, have no fear of the Darkness”.

KET, LAIR of the DAMNED

“Gather ‘round, gather round. Be you brave….Eh?  It’s time to tell the tale of KET, and of their Devil’s Lair.  The land of fire and ice,

….where your souls are taken and

….consumed to heat their furnaces.

…where the dead walk among the living,

…where the Light has no hold, where the Flame cannot cast it’s warm glow!

Know ye, of Ket? Know ye of the Land of the Damned?

Where man is nothing more than a slave, a pawn at the will of creatures who feed in the Dark, who wait, patiently to take back our lands, if we aren’t wary?

A silence occupies the room now, so constant it is that the storyteller waits a bit longer, as if he knew it would be this quiet, perhaps to give an air of melodrama to his introduction you think. Many ways is the intro given, but this one you think is fairly good.  The Storyteller is an elder human, he’s obviously come with a group headed to the Fair.  Waiting for the embers in the fire to die down, the ambience in the room is perfect.  Even the barkeeper, Jarvis, looks like he’s interested. His stage presence is good, perhaps he is from Cellione, or even Carr Perrin. 

There’s a good audience tonight and if the story is told well, The Teller will not make less than a handful of his Majesty’s coppers to buy his drink the next few nights. He might even earn one from you; coppers have a way of flying out of ones coin purse after the type of adventure you just returned from.

Seats settle in, drinks are set atop the bar, and bodies rotate to face the Storyteller, as the famous tale of Ket is told, as it appears, in the old style, the style of Gallinor’s early period.

Few forget their first telling.  You surely remember yours, heard perhaps before you should have. Even to this day, you can feel the fear in your belly, the trembling at sounds from under blankets in your bed on cold wintry nights in the Valleys.  You aren’t longing to hear it again, but the story has that effect on people. The tale is cautionary, it begs to be heard of it’s own accord. And so you listen, once more…

“Few have ever cared to consider where Ket is? Have you? Eh, have you, lad? (The teller points an elongated finger at a young wannabe adventurer dressed in his father’s leathers in the front.)  Clearly overpowered by the presence of so many eyes on him, the youth simply shakes his head.

Well, let me tell you the rumors I’ve heard in my travels….(the teller begins to drop his voice again, and uses hand gestures to illustrate)…some say that Ket lies far to the South, past the Frozen Mountains, the Impenetrable Mountains we call them here in the Valley, no?” Several heads nod… A cruel frozen land it is, devoid of life, except of course for that which does not need warmth to sustain it…(a log from the fire moves slightly, as a gnome in one of the tables closest to the hearth spills a bit of his ale.  Several of the tougher members of the audience make an attempt to tease him, but no one seems to laugh).

Others believe that Ket lies past the east, past the Sea of Sands. The tombs of our ancient lands make good sleeping quarters for the dark souls that return to bed in them during the Light of Day. Some have said, that Ket lies below us.  In deep, and dangerous tunnels and caves.  Those that explore the portals breaking the surface, are strangled, gripped by dark claws and dragged below only to scream for help in places where screams cannot be heard but by slithering, and creeping things.

Many, especially those among the elves and dwarves in the Inner Wilds to the North would have us believe that Ket is nowhere, that is, not a physical location.  One must be wary then, for if one’s actions are of evil intent, a doorway, a portal to Ket, is but a wrong moment away, as is a most foul, and ruthless death.

And we tell the children to behave in our lands, ‘or else the Ketians will get yooouuu!’ At this point, the teller mimics the sounds of a mother warning her child, perhaps from taking another bite of sugar cake or something.  A slight sound of laughter erupts at the teller’s joke, but only briefly.

And of course, how do the Ketians “get them”? Surprisingly, the teller looks around here in earnest. It appears as if he wants an audience member to actually answer this rhetorical question.

A dwarf sitting next to the gnome in the front, swallows his latest pull, and yells out “Because we didn’t do what our mamas told us, now did we lads!!?” Several smiles around, and the dwarf chuckles, but the storyteller never flinches.  Good, you think, yes, he is good.

“Sure, sure….but we all know that isn’t entirely true now don’t we? We all know of the Three…”

Silence.

“Of the betrayal…” 

Again, the speaker has gained nearly every last eye in the place. Even a cook from the back has come out to the bar.

“Well, well….then we have heard of the Three in this hamlet, haven’t we?  But, we do not speak of them, do we? (looks around) Yes, we do not. 

And we do not speak of them for the very fear of our own self-preservation.

Of the END TIME.

Of the END DAYS WAR, of our greatest betrayal.

The betrayal of man by the Gods!!

This time, there is not a single movement in the room.  Well, well, you think. This teller has some serious guts.  It isn’t every day a teller of any kind brings up The Three, and certainly not on a cold night, wintry and dark like this one.

And to call out the Gods, when any Flamist of the First Order could order a public hanging just for the mention of them!

This man either has a death wish, has smoked too much of the King’s Leaf, or perhaps needs more money than his apparel is showing. Either way, he’s got even your full attention now…

To be continued…

NEWS FROM CILLANDAR

“War!”

The word as well as the frozen wind blew in to the main hall in the outpost’s only tavern, The Broken Blacksmith.  Jarvis couldn’t contain himself any longer, it had been a long night, and few in the pub were behaving themselves.

“Close the Darkened door you fool!  I’ve got the last of my dry timber on the fire, and I plan on keeping the Flame going tonight, just like I’ve done with Rory’s wife these fine many years while he’s on caravan.” A hearty laugh and bellow or two from the regulars hunched over their brews, except of course from Rory himself, who appears to not have heard it at all.

“Borindin’s Beard! You lot just can’t open a door without letting the whole Ketian Night in with you!”

“Now quit it Jarvis! Don’t go scaring the young lads here t’night again.  There’s still a babe or two not done with Mama’s teet that’s a scared of that tale. Didn’t you see how Rory cried last night during the telling!” Murcuddy “The Ear” then gave his best bar cackle and slapped his meaty palms on the bar. Receiving tankard taps from his local buddies, he went quickly back to his small talk and drinking.  Jarvis leaned over the bar, slapped Murcuddy on the palm joyfully, and gave a yank of his “joke bell”. A light cheer went up, mostly from the cooks in the back.

A small gangly youth had come in from the cold, as his cloak came down, he looked around, his eyes wild. For a moment, your hand moves to your belt and hilt. You’ve seen these looks before, all in the Frontier have, many times. Gallinor’s borders were only expanded by the brave and wary.  But this time, your grasp loosened, the boy’s eyes turned from hysteria to joy.

“Didn’t you hear me Jarvis?!” cried the lad, “DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME, ALL OF YOU!?” This time, the boy stood, climbing atop a pub chair as Jarvis for all his might reached desperately to slap him down, his belly and the bar counter the only obstacles between throwing the boy back down.

“The CILLANDAR’s  caravan has arrived early for the Fair. His Majesty’s Page has just announced in the streets. It’s to be war with the giants and those blasted creatures of the southern lands.  They’re sending whole battalions here soon  to fight for us…with us!  Borindin has finally had enough with the raids from the South. We’ll have our revenge for a decade of murder!”

“IT’S TO BE WAR!!!!!!!!!!!”

A roar of cheering erupts in the Blacksmith’s hall.  There’s a brief pause while all seem to look to the brewmaster.  “Allright, allright!!!”  Jarvis smiles, “A round for the house! ON THE HOUSE!” Another cheer, and bellowing.  A drunken dwarf in the back actually pulled out his axe and attacked a table with it as if it were an enemy before falling over the hilt.  You didn’t miss the wry smile on Jarvis’s lips.  War was good for business. The last one moved him from destitute to bar owner. This one, might just give him his wish, a move to Cillandar, with his brewery business in tow. Judging by the immediate conversations springing up around the  Broken Blacksmith, others had plans in the works for sometime too.

As the tumultuous crowd around you escalates, you see the faces of young men, a few old, and it’s hard to find a one that isn’t cheering, throwing their tankard back in celebration, clapping the shoulders of their friends in pretend inspection of their sword arm. Declaring the number of orcs that will die upon their sword when they’ve been Lighted for battle themselves!  Coins were already being counted. Lord Borindin paid a handsome price for those who fought, and lived, in the last great Frontier War. It wasn’t hard to believe it would be the same with this one.  And perhaps, there might actually be a real victory this time. Perhaps, the Southern Valley might just find it’s peace to match it’s beauty.

As you are about to drain your glass, you look over and see Thule, the old man, sitting near the fire. His one leg resting itself on the hearth, as close as the fire would allow.  His other, rumored to have been taken by the club of an ogre in the ruthless lands in the lower hillocks, on a raid to secure the farmsteads in the valley that brought Cillandar it’s largest food crops.

Thule takes a puff of his pipe, his eyes look to be cast down, but you know from many nights of watching him drink, that he is still scanning the bar, always aware that Thule is. Many nights you’ve wondered, just what he would have been like in battle, just what he saw on those battles he must have fought in, down South, in the cold bitter hills where nothing’s green. Never once have you heard him brag, as the other old “veterans” of the Frontier Wars did.

A warm cheer erupts, slow at first, but then steady. A repetitive chant. “War. ..War……WAR…WAAAARRRRR!”

For a brief moment you join in, enthused helplessly by the commotion and inspiration of the crowd.  For a split second your eyes meet Thule’s.  His smile you decide isn’t one at all, but rather grimace.  His hand rests upon the stub of a leg long missing, and he begins to rub it methodically, as if searching for it.

Mouthing a few words, he turned back to the fire. As your stew arrives, you take just a moment to consider what he said. The words whispered aloud, meant for no one were somehow taken in by you nonetheless.  Old fool, it’s those ancient superstitutions that kept the outskirt valleys of Gallinor from truly establishing great cities like Cellione, or Carr Perrin.  Blind superstitution still babbling about the End Days coming once more.  Besides why would he even think such a thing, just your mind playing tricks on you from the stories told on cold nights like this, Thule must have been too sober during the Telling of the Ketian’s Lair last night. Light knows it scared everyone else half to death..

As your stew begins to warm you, and the celebration of the night continues, you know it was just your imagination that brought on the fear in Thule’s eyes.  Just childish fears…

 

 

 

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