The Mines of Malis
Five years after plagues ravaged the city of Serenton by the sea, killing most of it’s population and laying waste to it’s vast orchards and vineyards, the city thrives. But as is often the case, along with prosperity comes intrigue and struggles for power and wealth. The party will be constructed of individuals in Serenton at the outset of this adventure. Characters need not be from Serenton, but must have a reasonable back-story.
For new players, I want only a story, two sentences to two pages...more than that and you’re going too far. I will build your initial character sheet for you, we’ll chat and tweak to keep it simple at the outset. If you enjoy playing, we can dive deeper into the rules and get more technical.
Characters should have diverse but realistic skill sets. That is if you've been a baker's assistant your whole life, you're probably not an expert rider and swordsman, but you may have high manual dexterity, a good cooking skill, some herb lore, and perhaps be strong from lugging around bags of flour and making deliveries or such. In that example you may also be overweight for gorging on your own tasty sweet specialties.
I expect role-playing in this adventure, not just hack'n slash dice rolling. I will be awarding extra character points for playing your character and for good role-playing.
You are likely all young adventurers or perhaps elder citizens who've never risen to heroics previously. You are not likely complete novices. It is possible you are Serentonian Guards, mage apprentices, devout religious followers, wandering tradespeople or mercenaries. I would like interesting back stories perhaps to use to enhance the campaign. It is also altogether possible you have spent the entirety of your life in Serenton or any other city for that matter, coming into Serenton only recently. It's possible you are not an experienced adventurer, but then it would be unlikely that you have a 15 riding skill and a 18 crossbow skill, for example. Your points might be invested into trade skills or "book learning".
Regardless of your origin and past you have to have some reason to be involved in the campaign. That means you have some reason a highfalutin merchant would hire you to help with some errands. Perhaps you are the niece or nephew of some local dignitary or have ran errands (sometimes adventurous) for him in the past.
Check out this page for some ideas, and maybe some tie-ins to the world.
As there are primarily only humans native around Serenton, if you desire to be another race, the following templates may be implemented:
Elf - -5 pt unusual background
Dwarf - -5 pt unusual background
Half-elf - no cost
Half-orc - -2 pt unusual background
Gnome - -5 pt unusual background
Other race - with DM consultation
Character outlines must be presented to the GM by the 22nd of October in order to be in the outset of the campaign (last weekend in Oct or 1st of Nov).
For those interested in building their own character sheets:
Characters will have 100 points to start with and up to -50 points in disadvantages with an optional additional -10 points to be used specifically for Enemies, Reputation or Debt disadvantages, but these must be a tangible part of your back story and your character during role-play.
Characters will be illiterate by default. Being semi-literate (B p24) in the Common tongue will cost 1 pt, literate 2 pts.
Equipment Characters will start with the TL3 starting wealth of $1000.00 which in Gurth recently has been one-thousand silver pieces. This can be modified by choosing the Wealth advantage or disadvantage accordingly. Clothing, weapons, armor and gear should be purchased at base cost in the Characters book from starting wealth. If you have $1000.00, you have nothing and are naked walking the streets of Gurth. A gold piece is ten silver pieces. Specialized adventure gear and magical items from Dungeon Fantasy - Adventurers are fine. Magic items must be purchased with character points, at a cost of 1 point per $1000 cost.
- You may buy power stone(s) by spending 2 character points per power level, with a maximum of 12 power level total in all stones/items. Spending 20 points gets you a single 10 point powerstone, or two 5-point stones, etc.
Seafaring and Slaughter
The group met with Don Lau in the Gilded Stein for lunch and details. The illustrious Mr. Lau had chosen each member for certain qualities. Tok, the swarthy thick-limbed dark mustachioed Mongolian sell-sword for protection, Doc, for his medical skill and crossbow support, Esme for her cartography and other archaeological acquisition skills, and finally Gradik for his seamanship and ability to transport the team to the destination. Don Lau told the party of a mining operation being run by Lord Skreez Malis about a day’s journey north of Serenton on the coast, in what is rumored to be an ancient dragon’s den. It is rumored that the den was collapsed when the injured dragon rested within and Lau was hiring his team to infiltrate and recover said dragon’s bones. He would pay them each $100 sp upon return with some bones (claws and teeth being choice) and they can otherwise keep whatever other bounty they come across. He supplied them a crude map and asked for verification of Malis using slave labor in this mining operation. After lunch and determining a meeting location, the party split up.
Tok gathered weapons and some supplies before spending his evening bullying around the Guilded Stein and being robbed.
Doc, wandered into the slums in seek of a place to stay for the night. Following a small thin man into a dark alley which ended up in a brief confrontation and Doc short the 1 gold coin Don Lau fronted him. He then went to a free clinic/soup kitchen and inquired about the mine and the large furry fellow who helped the small thin man rob him. He traded some first aid for a bed-roll for the night.
Esme went to the library and researched dragons in the surrounding area, learning of a white serpent that often stole from fishing vessels dozens of years ago outside of Serenton. She then went into the slums and gathered what information she could about the mine from street urchin, where she learned of one boy, Petyr’s older brother Teddie being taken off to the mine, perhaps against his will.
Gradik provisioned his small fishing vessel for the upcoming journey and visited with his contact in the city guard (Sten Oakhearth). Sten told Gradik to be cautious because he’s heard that Malis is an up-and-coming politician who is rumored to use muscle from a tough crowd called the Blood Ghost Syndicate and isn’t afraid of playing dirty. He bid him good luck on his exploration of said mines and asked for a report back. The following morning, Tok searched for the picker of his pockets and tried to rob the proprietor of the Guilded Stein, and Esme purchased some food and sent message to her patrons in Cormire. The next day around lunch, the group all met at the docks and took Gradik’s small boat out to sea to approach the mines from the low-tide cave entrance, rather than the topside of the mining operation. After a brief and brutal mishap in the dark encountering the cliffside, the party found the cave. They rested and ate before rowing in and beaching the boat. An armored man came down from the tunnel above asking their business. Mixed messages about being lost and looking for mine were given. The man retreated back up the tunnel. As the party disembarked and began to follow, the man came back down with an accomplice and they again asked for more info, this time at the point of loaded crossbows. Combat erupted and Tok cleaved through chain-shirt and ribs alike, while Gradik hastily harpooned a man and ripped his guts out. In the aftermath, Tok and Esme looted the bodies while Gradik dealt with the shock of his first kill and the gore.
While the party debated whether to push onward or to fall back to the boat, something approached. Something large.
At the crack of a whip, a chained ogre stepped into the light and roared its rage at the party. Tok distracted the beast while Gradik speared it. Doc shot it’s driver, then chased him up the tunnel while Tok finished off the ogre. After the brief melee, the retreating ogre driver blew a horn up the tunnel and the party retreated to the boat and out to sea to rest and regroup. Doc mended Tok’s wounds, Gradik tried to repair his ogre-bent harpoon and Esme questioned the value and sanity of this task.
Having rested on the boat in the middle of the night, the party decided to row back along the coast to where they could beach the boat and get some rest out of the wind and rocking waves. Under the crescent moon, Gradik arranged the supplies in the boat to better accommodate his slumber as the other three took the torch and marched up the hillside in search of some cave or other shelter and level terrain. Doc, having some experience hunting for rare medicinal herbs and knowing basic land science was able to find a depression in the hillside, where the three were able to sleep in the bowl.
The following morning as the tide came in and lapped at the base of Gradik's boat, he awoke with a start to see another boat approaching. Within minutes he was watching a tan-cloaked man step into the surf and march over, leaving two larger fellows to handle the small ship. William Danfirth introduced himself and inquired as to Gradik's situation. Having been told that Gradik was simply a lone fisherman, waiting for calmer waters and that he was not in need of assistance, Danfirth left him be.
After using his tools and the stability of solid ground to straighten his harpoon, Gradik began scavenging for firewood until the rest of the party came down from the hill-side. Having marked the territory, the group reconvened and discussed a multitude of options before them, ultimately deciding to separate for a while and reconvene later in the day. Esme and Tok went to the top of the hill to see what they could see, while Gradik took the boat out to catch some fish to fill their bellies and Doc looked for fresh water and bathed in the icy pool near a small stream.
They ate or stowed cooked fish and loaded into the boat to go inspect the cave in the early afternoon. Rounding a rock outcropping, the party saw Danfirth's boat anchored about where they expected the cave to be at low tide. The stopped and backed the boat behind the outcropping. In a hasty and ill-sitting plan, the boat pulled in close to the cliff's edge where Esme and Doc were deposited on the rock face to attempt to climb the 180 feet to the top, where they would attempt subterfuge to enter from the topside mining operation, while Gradik and Tok would go in from the cave after the tide moved out.
Esme scampered gingerly up the rock face trailing a rope so Doc could struggle up behind her. Tok and Gradik sailed over to meet Danfirth and his accomplices. Doc having never climbed anything more difficult than a long stairwell was able to make the first half of the cliff without incident, but the fatigue may have been taking its toll as he climbed higher he slipped much more often, resulting in multiple scrapes and bruises and culminating with Doc dangling passed out at the rope's end after cartwheeling down the side of the cliff as the rope about his waist untangled. Esme climbed down a ways and spit on him until he came to, then she assisted him in climbing atop the boulder where the rope was secured. Doc had had enough, he was 3/4 of the way up and was beat. He was done climbing, he was going to rest. And so he did while Esme went to the top and surveyed the nearby cliff's edge.
Meanwhile, Tok and Gradik tried to explain the difference in Gradik's earlier story and eventually told Danfirth that they were with two others, who were back on the beach and that they were hired by a merchant to retrieve some dragon bones from the sea cave and mine within. Danfirth said that he had been employed by Malis, and that he was just arriving at the job site and that if Tok and Gradik still intended to rob his employer, that they had better change their plans and turn back. Tok took this opportunity to try and offer to split the loot to which William smirked and said that Malis would not take such a transgression lightly and would likely have bounty hunters track them down as dragon bones seem quite rare and expensive. Tok then offered to join forces with Danfirth and jumped onto their junk where he met Stephon and Rathos. Gradik attempted to prove his worth, but William said they had no use for a lying fisherman as Rathos pushed his boat away. Tok spent the afternoon and evening finishing off his ale while listening to Stephon's bragging and eventually snoring under the watchful eye of the bugbear with a crossbow. Gradik decided to wait until nightfall fishing, and so he did.
Doc had rested and Esme had come back down the cliff a ways to help him out. Having mended his hand a bit and determined that going down was a longer and possibly harder journey than finishing the climb, Doc rallied and fixed the rope around his waist to follow Esme's lead once again. Not but 20 feet from the summit he again slipped and Esme watched from above and Gradik from the sea far below to see Doc sliding downward and grasping at the rocky stone face only to push himself away from it. when the rope caught, he pivoted at his waist and the last sound Doc made was a sickening crunch as his skull smashed and his neck broke striking the cliff-side. Esme climbed down and pulled him over to confirm his fate, take his medical bag and cut him free. His lifeless body crashed into the sea to be retrieved by Gradik, who was having second thoughts about this adventuring business.
As the sun set, Esme found two armored men, sharing a drink around a campfire near a large tent. Sneaking up to it, she was almost spotted before rolling under the tent's edge and falling into a pitch-black hole some 12-15 feet. The sound of her falling alerted the pissing guard and she is being followed deeper into the dark tunnels.
William Danfirth, Tok, Rathos and Stephon are pulling the junk into the cave as far as it's capable and Gradik is coming around the rock outcropping to follow them in. Character Points
Into the Mines
Tok silently followed William and a guiding mercenary into the mines, followed by the lumbering Rathos. As he was lost meandering upwards into the mountain, he learned of the occupants of the mine and that it was primarily manned by slave labor with a handful of guards and a few ogres.
Esme was able to outdistance and lose her pursuer as she silently delved deeper into the tunnels in the pitch black, eventually coming up to what she believed to be a large cavern with a cool breeze. There she found large ropes to one side of the aperture, hanging from some unknown distance above and down into the darkness below where she could hear the echoes of pickaxes working against stone.
Meanwhile, Gradik silently approached the junk docked at the cave and crept aboard to surprise a sleeping Stephon whom he ushered overboard, trousers untied. After watching Stephon paddle out of sight towards the cave with nothing but a bouy, Gradik went below deck to assess his plunder. Finding a locked oaken and iron chest, he began bashing away with Stephon's mace.
Esme, having back-tracked some into the darkness let her intuition guide her from the pitch black silence back to the mining sounds below. She climbed down the ropes she had earlier found and crept into a tunnel towards the banging and clanging and flickering torchlight.
As William and crew approached a dig site, Theodor saw his opportunity and pitched his lucky deck of cards into the gravel and began shouting that he'd found something. When Danfirth bent to pick up the strange leather pouch, Theodor swung his shovel missing William's head, but hitting him in the shoulder and putting him on his knees.
All hell broke loose. Some slaves rallied and put their picks to their chains, others cowered in fear. Theodor kept at William, then at a guard before his crossbow could be lethal. Tok used the confusion and darkness to turn and attack the bugbear Rathos, driving him back up the tunnel into the darkness. As this occurred, Esme was sneaking up from the opposite side of the tunnel William and Tok came from. Staying out of site, she drew her knife and waited for the commotion to die down.
Theodor and other slaves dashed past Esme in the dark to lower an elevator and lift them out of the mines. Tok chased Rathos into an ogre who batted the black-cloaked bugbear aside and took on the mustachioed Tok, club to axe. Seconds later with a shattered arm, Tok prevailed as William ran to his side recommending the leave at once and asking where Rathos had gone. Tok poorly insinuated that he did not know and that the ogre had attacked unprovoked. William began up the tunnel hoping to find Rathos and the way out as Tok agreed to help a guard go back and put the slaves in line.
As soon as the guard turned his back on Tok, the axe of the ogre-slayer struck the man's head from his neck. Tok then gave pursuit to William, leaving the slaves to their mutiny.
Esme hid hanging from the cliff's edge as the elevator box was lowered above her by the slaves, eager to escape. Two guards had ridden the elevator down and shot two of the slaves who then began to argue about cutting the ropes or needing the elevator to escape. Theodore convinced them they'd find another way and the ropes were cut at as the guards fired again. One of the guards was able to leap from the box into the tunnel as the other fell into the seemingly bottomless chasm past Esme.
Theodor dressed in one of the mercenaries armor, disarmed Robert, the guard who jumped free of the elevator, and threatened him to lead the slaves out or die.
During this time, Gradik finished relieving the locked but broken chest of it's contents and took stock of his new junk.
Tok, having caught up to Rathos and William almost ran into Rathos' loaded crossbow, then approached slowly as William offered money and a diplomatic solution. Tok said nothing and grimly approached bloodied axe in hand. The small bolt from Rathos' crossbow barely reached Tok's flesh through his armor and he rushed them. Danfirth worked his way around behind Tok as he again drove the bugbear before a flurry of axe blows. Having flanked Tok, William was able to stab the berzerker in the side, drawing his attention. Tok promptly removed his head for the interruption. The momentary distraction had however allowed Rathos a moment to rally which he used to hamstring Tok with a poisoned longsword. Tok saw only red and fueled by rage and bloodlust he hacked at the hulking bugbear mercenary until his neck too gave-way.
Near collapse with two crippled limbs, Tok crawled over the fallen bodies of his foes in search of a drink. Finding a flask on William he drank a swig and found it awful to the taste, but it seemed to make his wounds pain him less.
Hearing complaining, cussing, and some light commotion ahead, Theodor paused his party of escapees and crept into the darkness silently to scout. Esme crept behind them out of the reach of their torches illumination.
Theodor met the wounded and angry Tok as he stuffed his pack. Tok nearing his physical limits was still curt and threatening, but Theodor told him of the slaves and the prisoner mercenary who was guiding them out of the tunnels. A tenuous partnership was struck up and solidified when Tok gave Theodor back his lucky deck.
Esme continued to follow unnoticed in the blackness.
After a short discussion it was decided to go down to where William's boat was docked, rather than up to the surface. Reaching the cave, the boat was gone. All sat to rest and discuss options as a feminine voice called from the darkness behind them for Tok.
Hearing commotion and seeing torchlight in the distance, Gradik jumped from the junk, now named Sheila, into his hand-crafted fishing boat and approached the cave.
Esme had heard someone behind her. When Tok and Theodor came up with a torch, they found no pursuers. There were rushed introductions as Theodor complained about all of the sneaking and lurking people popping up out of the darkness of the damned mines.
Gerta, one of the freed slaves was working first aid on Todd, another when they returned. Seeing Tok and Esme, Gradik rowed his boat into the cave from the darkness beyond.
All were loaded into the small boat and taken aboard Sheila, where Gerta used Doc's bag to mend Tok's arm as Gradik prepared Doc for a deep-sea burial. Everyone ate from the boat's stores and rested as best they could until the sun woke them.
Back After the Bones
Having discussed options at length whether to go into the mines after the dragon bones Esme, Gradik and Tok were hired to obtain, or to go back to Serenton, the group decided to do both.
Gradik turned Sheila south and headed back to Serenton with the wind in his favor they made it by evening. Along the way, Tok and Esme were dropped off with the hostage mine guard, Robert at the beach beside the cliffs. They began to make their way to the topside entrance to the mines.
In Serenton the wounded and weary slaves went home while Gradik went to the open market to trade his black pearl. He first tried at a booth with fancy silks and exotic spices, but the sultry woman who introduced herself as Shantel said she could not purchase such an item without consent of her employer. He ended up selling the stone to an overweight sweaty merchant named Sakiir for a sizable number of gold coins. He then proceeded to purchase what he believed were caving, mining and archaeological tools.
Theodor went to Matilde's Bookery and found his brother Petyr. He recounted his recent kidnapping and daring escape. Motivated by the story, the pull of adventure and the prospect of treasure he decided to return the mine despite Petyr's warnings and discouragement.
Just after dark, Esme and Robert approached the campfire and tent where Esme previously encountered guards and fell into the mine as Tok waited out of site. Esme spooked a night watchman as he was relieving himself and he made it to the horses despite Robert throwing Tok's knife into his back. They cleared the tent and agreed that Esme should run back down to the beach to ensure that Gradik was not left unaware when he returned to pick them up.