Newham Shire Recap: Chapter 1 - Hallomak's School of Agriculture


Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 11 April 2010

My players asked for a bit of a recap of their current adventure. I thought I would share it here in case anyone wants to steal one of my ideas for their own campaign. I have a few notes I want to share, so I'll append them to the end of each item.

  • The crew started off at Brock's Bar and Grill run by Adeliz and Raymond Brock in Barmouth, Newham Shire. A favorite among the sailors in part because just about anything one wants can be obtained there. Barmouth itself is a rather thriving port city and its wealth is causing some tensions between it and the capital, Newham. They find a job posting from one Hallomak Stromm. They travel north of Barmouth to meet him. On their way, they are attacked by some undead outside a temple to Melora.

    [DM Note: Yes, you can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant, excepting Alice. This starting sequence is the beginning of the long list of reasons I hate starting adventures in taverns. But I was brand new and didn't know any better. :-) Hallomak Stromm is a name mentioned in the 11th level Dungeon Delve. We had started that one as a one-shot when my brother was in town and a number of my players were very interested in who the character was. Also, the players found the concept of a temple to Melora strange. The encounter was adapted from the Graveyard Exterior encounter from Keep on the Shadowfell Side Treks in Dungeon 155.]

  • After defeating the undead, they meet Hallomak. His office is full of very old things including a set of books on the History of Arcadia. When they look at the books, they get the feeling that the information in the books is much older than the handwriting and the handwriting in the books change. He also has a globe on his desk that looks a lot like the current world but the names are all different. The halfling, Finnan, sort of recognizes the name of Arcadia, but he knows it as the land of milk and honey. Hallomak asks the group to retrieve a ring from the ancient tomb of a tiefling empress. He fears that a necromancer is searching for the ring right now and that is causing the undead attacks on the local people. They go and retrieve the ring, killing the necromancer in the process.

    [DM Note: I just ran them through the level 5 delve from Dungeon Delves. The players wanted to know what sort of evil ring it was. I decided that it bolstered one's confidence without increasing one's ability. As for the books, I was going for the flavor of how books were copied and preserved before the printing press. In this case, the Stromm family hired scribes who would copy the books over and over again to make sure none of the information was lost. They also tried to make sure no one person copied too much of the books to make it harder for someone to figure where Arcadia was and return before the appointed time. Unfortunately for them, their system did not work. A scribe with the last name Darkmagic was able to gather enough information from the other scribes to determine where Arcadia was and bring a group of humans there to found a town.]

  • Returning with the ring, they talk to Hallomak. He invites them to stay for a while especially since school is not currently in session. He has some business to attend to in Barmouth and leaves his right-hand-woman in charge, Hannah. The adventurers spend some time looking around the dormitory and find a secret door triggered by the book, The Owls of Newham Shire. When the bookshelf moves, they hear rattling from below. After killing the a large rattlesnake, they continue to explore the underground area. Their exploration reveals that the tunnels lead from each dormitory to the main house.

    [DM Note: I created the snake encounter so they could learn about the tunnels to the house, hopefully in a fun and interesting way.]

  • That night, their sleep is interrupted by the sound of someone moving outside. They find people attempting to break into another one of the dormitories. The gnome leaves to warn Hannah in the main house while the rest attempt to take down the robbers and their ravenous attack dog. They are able to knock out the would-be burglars but the dog got away.

    [DM Note: While it made sense story-wise for one player to run off like that, his decision hurt the party quite a bit. I felt a bit stuck on how to make the experience better. My hope had been that the players would think that perhaps the burglars knew about the tunnels as well and would try to head the off down there. I know I made it way to complicated. But the snake and the robbers were the first encounters I ever created on my own.]

  • Some friends of Hallomak's show up. They all decide to try to find the dog lest it harm some of the other locals. Its trail leads them to a hideout in the woods. Upset that anyone would starve a dog, they decide to attack. Eventually, they knock all of the enemies out, including the brutes Hans and Franz, the sorceress/cook, Sabrina, and the leader, Reginald. They interrogate Reginald and find out that he is part of the Free Arcadia Now (FANs). The organization is attempting to overthrow the Darkmagic regime, in part because of the laws restricting access to ironwood in the forests to the north. Currently, ironwood is important to the ship building enterprises of Barmouth and provide a fair bit of income to the loggers in the north. Unfortunately, it is also a source of tension between the humans and the elves, gnomes and other woodland creatures. When they bring the FAN members back to Hallomak's, they find out that Reginald is his son. Upon Hallomak's return, they also find out that according to an ancient accord, Hallomak is the human protector of Arcadia. His son thinks this means that Hallomak should also be the ruler, but Hallomak doesn't see it that way.

    [DM Note: Finnan decided to make the attack dog into a pet and named it Chompers. They have great fun together with the halfling performing acrobatic stunts with the dog from time to time.]

  • With the necromancer dead and the local FANs defeated, there isn't much for the adventurers to do around Hallomak's. Hannah tells them that she is worried about her niece, Margaret, who is expecting her first child. The soon-to-be mother seems sad of late. To cheer her up, Hannah has crocheted a baby blanket made from special wool from the north. The sheep there drink from springs fed by glacial lakes filled with the water left by the magical glaciers that once covered the land. She hopes the blanket will provide comfort and protection to the mother and child. However, Hallomak offers the gnome artificer a chance to stay. Currently, Hallomak is developing an alternative to ironwood and he really could use the gnome's help. Given that the gnome's home was destroyed by loggers because it was made of ironwood, he is more than willing to stay and help out.

    [DM Note: The blanket is a magic item based on the amulet of protection. I created the story line about the ironwood alternative because the group felt a bit uneasy with the gnome. Between the gnome leaving to warn Hannah during the encounter and his attempt to coup de grace one of the robbers after being insulted, there was a lot of tension at the table surrounding the character and it was decided that it might be best to retire the him in a respectful manner.]

  • As a further note, those of you who read my description of the Earthen Guard paladins on the Dungeons & Dragons community blog might notice a resemblance to Hallomak. I based the Earthen Guard on him although he is much more moderate in his outlook and he uses diplomacy in a proactive manner rather than destroying things in reaction.

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