Age of Ballads

The Tourney
Every Story Needs A Beginning

Our story begins like any other, with a concert. The annual Adventurer’s Guild Concert and Battle of the Bands Tournament at the Revel Grove in Meargalla is one of the largest gatherings of fighting men outside of a battlefield. Although, to be fair, the tournament has turned into a full-fledged war more than twice.

The Guild is the source of some of the brightest and most far-flung points of light in the greater darkness, as well as, unfortunately, a source of some of the darkness itself. Founded before the true reckoning of man, the Guild has counted among its members some of the greatest heroes, blackest villains, and most nondescript mercenaries the world has ever seen, but much of its early history is spotty at best, missing entirely at worst, and almost certainly falsified somewhere in the middle-range qualities. Terrible record-keeping it was, indeed, until the very first concert.

The tradition began hundreds of years ago when two rival adventuring companies got into an argument about the verity of their exploits. It was decided that an impartial observer would travel with both troupes and accurately record their adventures. The observers were bards, of course, and their stories became the first of the Guild legends, handed down in their songs. The telling of their tales was the first concert, and the resulting brawl was the predecessor of the tournament.

Over the years, the recording of the legends has become far more accurate and precise, and the tournament has now become less about hurting ones opponents and more about pride, though it is still largely about the hurting. Through powerful divining magics, Guild wizards keep an eye on the events surrounding each band of adventurers, and their companion bards record them. The retelling by these bards is a major event, and every company attends to compare stories and participate in the tourney. The concert is of no little importance. While it is true that some adventurers come from a life of privilege others have to rise to positions of power. Successful groups have managed to turn their exploits into fame. Famous former adventurers have become members of legislative bodies and royalty and other troupes have expanded to become law enforcement agencies or even personal armies to royalty.

At the concert which marks the start of our current story there is a newly formed band of unknown adventurers. The aforementioned party of adventurers at the aforementioned concert are members of the aforementioned Guild and have only just been given a heretomentioned Guild commission and Watch Wizard. All day long the tourney flows with ale, sweat, and blood. All night long the concert provides the same in different proportions with an undercurrent of song.

As provisional members of the Guild, the party may not yet participate in the tourney-at-large, but there are a number of unofficial games that they may participate in for a small wager. If none appeal, they can always just wander the fairgrounds and see the sites, browse the stalls, etc.
Let the party participate in one or two minor games. Ex: Drinking Games, Arm Wrestling, Greased Pig, Bear Wrestling, Archery, Magic Ladder, Wizards’ Duel. Will include rules for a few when I find those notes. None take more than a dozen rounds. If wandering the fair, include a table of minor encounters

Soon, the concert begins, and all too soon after that, it ends. Give the party one more chance to fool around by offering a round of pub/drinking games. The next morning, a messenger in Guild livery shows up at the party’s inn, delivers your very first Guild Contract, and holds out his hand meaningfully. Upon breaking the official seal, you read:

“A series of murders and abductions are being done by some sort of monster in the town of Pinehaven in the Aniseed Valley. Report to Lord Alistair at the manor Blue House for the details. Find the monster, kill it, return to me. Aniseed Valley is a source of supplies for Silt Harbor, so don’t screw it up. In return you will receive 200gp and full Guild Membership.

As a Trial Contract, you will be closely observed. Attached is a scroll of Fearful Contact. If you need to use it, your trial will be over, but you will be rescued.”

It is signed:


Guild Warden”

Depending on the size of the tip, the messenger either offers the advice that he knows a farmer who is heading back to Pinehaven soon and will probably give the party a ride in his wagon and gives directions to the inn where the farmer is staying.
If the party decided to drink last night, check hangover table. If more than two party members are more than a little hungover or if they decide to do anything other than find the farmer immediately, they’re too late and miss the farmer.
1. If the party manages to make it to the farmer on time, he gives them a ride in his wagon and tells them some of the history of the village and what’s been happening with the monster recently. They arrive at the town by early-afternoon.
2. If the party misses the farmer, they don’t make it town on time, they near town by nightfall, and find the wagon overturned a mile from town. The farmer is dead and his horses half-eaten. Some sort of skill check gives a clue about the monster.

Pinehaven is a small community comprised of a number of farms. Most of the adults only come to town at most once a week for market and church. The children used to go to the school most days until the monster came. At first the monster started by slaughtering half of the livestock in the area, but recently people started disappearing. Now most families stay huddled on their farms. Need to think of a good myth that people believe is the monster. Assign skill challenge for information.

Farmer will tell that Lord Alistair’s family has been in charge of the area for generations and that something like this happened during his grandfather’s lifetime, when Alistair’s father was the lord, but it ended after the first person disappeared. Now the monster is back.


Just outside the village center is a larger building than most. A wall surrounds a white manor house with blue-tiled roof and a couple of smaller outbuildings stands in front of a mountain. Standing at the gate of the wall is a sort of guard in the form of a burly teenager wearing ill-fitting leather armor and holding a club. “Whaddya want?” he asks lazily.

Pretty much no matter the players’ response, the youth is unimpressed. The youth picks his nose and tells you to go on through. Inside the gate a man in livery takes you across a courtyard and inside the manor proper.

Once inside the manor they lead you through a corridor where an elderly manservant in the same livery studiously ignores you. Then they turn through a labyrinthine series of crooked passageways to a large hall where a large fireplace has a roaring fire. Near the fire is a large hound. In front of the hound is a chaise. On the chaise is a tall man who gazes at you appraisingly. “So,” he says, “you would be the Adventurers?”

After the conversation. Alistair tells the nearby servant to show you the way. The servant grabs a candelabra and leads the party through passageways and down stairs past an astounding collection of wine cellars to darker, older passages filled with the sound of dripping water, the scent of wet earth. The candlelight casts eerie shadows against the walls, revealing only further branching pathways and the occasional rat. “Last week,” says the servant, “one of the butlers came down to one of the wine cellar and caught a glimpse of something in the dark. He followed it down and this is as far as he dared go. Further passages lead to catacombs and the family crypt. No one has been farther than here since my grandfather’s day. We don’t know what the monster is, where it comes from, or what it wants, but we do think it went down here and so far has only killed after nightfall. Which is in about an hour, I think. Anyway, good luck.” He says, and heads back towards the newer passages and the manner proper, almost scurrying to get back to sunlight. He moves too quickly to respond to any comments or questions.

Down the corridor, at the bottom of a set of stairs, the party enters a dark crypt, lit only by the torches they carry with them. Stone walls and low ceilings lends an oppressive atmosphere which makes everyone but any Dwarves uncomfortable. You can see three stone sarcophagi, and those with Low-Light- or Darkvision can see heavy wooden doors on two of the walls.

If anyone tries to open them (Strength DC 20), one is empty, one contains a random silvered weapon, one of the bodies has an amulet. Whoever opens the lid contracts Filth Fever (unknown until they take damage or sleep). If they take the amulet:

As someone takes the amulet, a wind starts to blow and the torches start to flicker. Suddenly they all go out, and a small blue light can be seen, little more than a glow, from the amulet. It detaches from the amulet and grows larger, it’s dimensions changing from a small ball of light to a figure of a man. The face forms, and the party finds itself facing a scowling ghost. “WHO DARES DISTURB MY SLUMBER?” it bellows as it floats before you.


Ghost warns that that the curse of the house is dangerous. TURN BACK YOU FOOLS, ONLY THOSE OF MY LINE CAN SURVIVE THE CURSE OF THIS HOUSE.

Bring back two doors. Make the first one opened filled with rats.

The “empty” sarcophagus contains the dried and dusty remains of a humanoid dressed in scraps of once fine cloth.

(Randomized silver weapon is a dagger, according to a quick roll.) Inside of the sarcophagus is skeleton clad in a rusty breastplate with a tarnished dagger clasped in its hands. Perception Check 12 (+ 5 for each square away) to see the dagger is silver and serviceable under the filth.

If the ghost gets to utter his warning, the door opens easily, instead of the Strength Check.

Perception Check to hear scurrying behind door. DC 25.

Strength Check to open Door. DC 24

Failure: As you attempt to open the door.nothing happens. It appears to be stuck. Closer inspection reveals that the hinges are rusted.

Success: The heavy door opens with a blood-curdling shriek. The room beyond is pitch dark with the light of the torches spilling only a few feet beyond the doorway. The only thing visible in the room besides the stone floor is the flash of hundreds of beady eyes. Rats! Hundreds of them, and they look hungry. They stare at you for a moment before the entire swarm surges at you. (2 swarms and 2 giant rats, 1 dire)

If Perception check is failed, the rats get a surprise round

Rat corpses litter the floor. With a moment to look around, you can see that the next room is a section of catacombs. Once a dignified resting place, it has now become a rat warren. The floor is covered in rat droppings and the corners are nests full of fur and scraps of cloth. Perception DC 10 to see human remains (from the tombs). DC 25 to see 2d100+50 worth of copper (convert to silver and gold).

The other door opens onto a hallway. At the end is what appears to be a stairway. Halfway down the hallway is yet another door.


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