05 August 2007


Well, welcome to Bornhavn! A nice little town on the Stjerneflade...except for all of the skeletons, zombies, ghouls, ghasts, angry mercenaries, overbearing half-orc bodyguards, cowardly guardsmen, plotting merchants, crazed beast-hunters and - of course - vampire spawn hanging around to make the PCs' lives difficult.

And did I mention the chestnuts?

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Bornhavn is a quiet town; indeed, for a place that is supposedly a major route-stop and a growing trading town, things are too quiet.

The Nordvej runs cobbled through the place from south to north, broadening to a village common near the well in the center of town. The high road follows a long ridge that parallels the river. As you look northwards, you see many humble buildings, and even a few that border on the magnificent.
To the left – the West – the ground slopes gently down through bright fields of wheat and rye, towards a great wood of enormous chestnut trees. To the right, the ground slopes downwards more precipitously, through trees and fields, towards the valley of the Stjerneflode.
Even from the road, you can see that the chestnuts are heavy with spiky, unripe fruit, and the apple trees, equally healthy, are too numerous to be counted. Hundreds of sheep dot the fields between the trees, or stand placidly behind fences of wicker and timber. But few of the townsfolk are to be seen; in fact, the only visible human being is a peasant, far off in one of the fields, guiding two oxen pulling a long, low plow. He seems to keep looking back over his shoulder a lot.
As you ride closer to the town, you note that the poorer outlying hovels are of wattle and daub with smoke-holes, while most of the buildings nearer the centre of town are of half-timbered construction, with thatched roofs, and proper chimneys. A few structures stand out. Close by where the road enters the town proper, a small stone building boasting a heavy chimney that belches black smoke to the ringing of metal on metal, likely marking a smithy. A little further north, an ornate shrine of white stone with a domed roof can be seen on the west side of the road; opposite it is an impressive two-storied manor house of an unfamiliar design (featuring a tall, square tower and even a slate roof!). Just before this manor house, a cross-street runs down the hill to a long stone pier, where a number of small fishing boats are tied up, and a large three-masted barque can be seen, standing moored and silent. Beside the pier stands a tall, round stone tower, roofed and machiolocated, with a fire burning at the waterside near its base. Along the river, upstream of the pier, a few women can be seen washing clothes.

North of the manor house, opposite the town’s well (where a vendor is doing absolutely no business at all hawking freshly roasted chestnuts) is a long, broad one-story stone building featuring an especially high, peaked thatched roof, with a covered stable out back. A sign depending from the front of the building features an engraved apple, a stylized smiling face, and a bedroll – which, taken altogether in the vernacular of the road, mean “Food, Drink and Bed”, marking this building as an inn, and one of the more traditional variety rarely seen these days.
Beyond the inn are a few more large buildings, many more farmhouses, and several dozen of the wattle-and-daub hovels. Beyond them, there is nothing but the great road, running northwards out of town.


1. Farmhouse. Farming family (man, woman, 1d4 children), vegetable garden, grain or rye, apples, possibly sheep (60%), possibly pigs (10%), possibly cow (5%), possibly oxen (2%).

2. Blacksmith’s house and shop. Turgo Blain specializes in farm implements, but studied with the dwarves in his youth. He is a Weaponsmith 6 (+4 on Craft check when making axes of dwarven design), Armourer 6. He charges top dollar but does fair work. He does not normally make metal armour, but is capable of repairing it. If met at his shop, he will be turning a pair of mail shirts [for Captain Fellikartus] in a sanding barrel.

3. Brewer’s house and shop. Galdron of Bitterberg is a jovial chap who studied for the priesthood but failed miserably. He remembers his novitiate, though, and turns out excellent cider by the barrel (he charges 40 gp per 55 gallon wooden barrel, each weighing 400 lbs).

4. Trader’s mansion. Clammet File is the wealthiest trader in town. His house is fully timbered, two stories, 12 rooms with a three-story stone tower. It is a square Venetian style with a curtained outer wall, and an inner courtyard and gardens.
File has two daughters, the younger (Mellian) beautiful, the elder (Mergot) hideous. He has 1 poet, 2 musicians, 3 painters and 12 servants headed by a butler on staff, and owns three large ships, including Swiftkeel, and 20 barges. He is worth close to a half-million in gold, but only keeps about 10,000 gp in the house. His bodyguard, Gurm, is a ¼ Ogre Barbarian 7. File is the fellow who is refusing to let Swiftkeel sail without a qualified river pilot.
File's daughter Mergot is engaged to Balagor, a spendthrift minor nobleman of Bitterberg. Balagor disappeared last month, and no one knows where he has gone. Mergot is heartbroken and vengeful, and File is furious, because Balagor made off with a significant part of Mergot’s dowry, a gold and pearl necklace worth a staggering 5,000 gp. File has offered a 500 gp reward for Balagor’s “safe return”; but he’ll be happy with only getting the head back, so long as the necklace is still attached to it.

5. Shrine and manse. Ullet Whitefist is a Lawful Good Cleric 12 of Esu, and is the Fist of the Allfather in Bornhavn (human, 61 years old). Once a valiant warrior of the white, he was badly injured in battle years ago and has never recovered his health or strength (Str 5, Dex 11, Con 2, Int 13, Wis 19, Ch 15, HP 12). His possessions include his +2 chainmail and “Foecrusher”, a silvered MW Heavy Mace.
Whitefist spends his days in prayer, ministering to parishoners, every now and then crafting “Blessing Beads”. These are 10 gp pearls which, if crushed and sprinkled over one's-self, have the effect of “blessing” the recipient for the following hour.
Whitefist's assistant and deacon is Viloriannis, a 4th level female human Chaotic Good cleric, of Esu, 27 years old, 5’8”, 145 lbs. She is a true warrior of the white (S 15, D 12, C 16, I 10, W 16, Ch 15, HD 4d8+12, HP 33), who sees it as a cleric’s duty to give personal battle to evil. She is intolerant of human frailty, and despises cowards. Her possessions include a MW Breastplate, a +1 heavy mace, a MW large steel shield, a Cloak of Resistance +1, and two Potions of Remove Paralysis. If properly approached, Viloriannis may join the party, particularly if a “battle against evil” is in the offing (in case you didn't pick it up from the extent of the detail here, Viloriannis is the second of the major NPCs the Party ran into - after Orkarel Hax).
The Shrine is a large (80’ diameter), circular stone building with a vaulted roof three stories high, supported by internal columns. It is spartan, containing nothing more than decorative hangings and an exquisite marble alter.
The Manse is a large timber and stone building; one wing contains the Rectory (offices, records, vestry and so forth), the other Ullet’s living quarters, a communal kitchen and bathing room, a large communal salon, and bedrooms for four pilgrims. Viloriannis occupies one of these.

6. Reeve’s House. Beal Trite is a retired 7th level CG male human fighter, age 56. Long ago he earned the favour of the Count of Ellohyin, and was given this sinecure when Bornhavn was first established 11 years ago. He loves tales of valour, but has little energy left to deal with mischief. Enjoying his creature comforts, he owes a lot of money to Trader File, and thus will do whatever File tells him – and File has told him to do everything in his power to find Balagor.
Trite does not understand what is happening in his town, and does not know what to do about it. He is afraid, and will welcome any assistance offered him.

7. Guard Tower. Captain Fellikartus, (Human NG Warrior 5) is a brave but unimaginative man. He sees his duty as regulating disorder in the town, not haring off on adventures. He commands a force of 6 archers and 12 footmen, all 1st level warriors. He sees his role as maintaining order, not fighting shadowy monsters; but at the same time, he is jealous of his authority, and won't be too happy if newcomers seem likely to usurp it.

8. “Swiftkeel”. This two-decked, three-masted barque has a crew of 31. Captain Lyrik Allen is staying aboard and, since the disappearance of his pilot, Olem of Barg, has been keeping the crew at action stations. He desperately wants to get underway, but needs a pilot, and desperately needs to keep his job. The crew wears no armour and is armed with a selection of light crossbows, cutlasses, half-pikes, and belaying pins.

9. Bellik’s Rest. Halgor Bellik is the true diplomat of Bornhavn. Once the owner of a fine inn just outside the palace in Aeryn, he moved north a decade ago to make his fortune in the newly-established town. Bellik’s Rest is known up and down the river as providing good food and a clean bed for a fair price.
Bellik welcomes all comers and is congenial, but right now he is worried; traffic on the road is dropping off, and the crew of the Swiftkeel, who normally would be drinking his cider, are standing watch-and-watch. He likes talking and is inclined to do so if approached in a friendly manner.
He has heard tales of disappearances from caravans on the road, and thinks that there is more to the nobleman Balagor’s disappearance than meets the eye. He is still doing well and providing for his family (who live on a small sheep farm just north of the Rest), but he is starting to wonder whether Bornhavn isn’t turning sour on him.
On any given night, there is a 50% chance that Seel Trask is in the bar. The chance for File is 40%; for Captain Fellikartus 30%; for Reeve Trite 20%; for Priest Ullet 15%; for Sharoom Pardo 10%; for Viloriannis 5%. There are no horses in the stables.

Price Schedule for Bellik’s Rest :
Piggin of cider: 5 cp
Tenpenny Ordinary (full meal)*: 1 sp
Mug of Apple Brandy: 2 sp
Stabling for one night (per horse): 2 cp
Single room w/board: 2 gp
Double room w/board: 1 gp
Bunkroom w/board: 5 sp
Head on a board (sleep in attic): 5 cp

*The Tenpenny Ordinary consists of Rye bread, mutton, gravy, root vegetables, apple dessert, and a piggin of cider. Breakfast is white bread, wheat porridge, aeblegrod (stewed apples) and mug of cider.

10. Haberdashery. Sharoom Pardo is an elderly expert Half-Elven tanner and leather-worker. He is unmarried and taciturn, but willing to sell his wares to polite visitors. He turns out excellent quality Padded (7 gp), Leather (15 gp) and Studded Leather (35 gp) armour at slightly above normal price, but guarantees his work, and will repair it free of charge. He has a medium-sized suit of MW Studded Leather available, and will part with it for the price of 325 gp. More than 60 years ago, he had brief but intense relationship with the High Elven warrior/mage Orkarel Hax. She drops in to see him from time to time, but their relationship is now more akin to that between favourite grand-daughter and indulgent grandfather.

11. Trader’s home. Hargon Blast is nowhere near as wealthy as his competitor File, but this is because Blast is honest. He coordinates the chestnut picking and packing, and owns two small, single-masted trading ships that ply the river. He currently sells to File, but is trying to develop separate trading contacts both up and down the river. His wife, Juliana, makes excellent pemmican-like hard rations out of pounded mutton, chestnuts and berries; 7 days’ rations cost 7 gp, and weigh only ½ pound per day.

12. The Bard. Seel Trask lives in a small thatched cottage, nursing a drinking problem and memories of a glorious past. A retired NG male human Bard 8, aged 53, Trask once served as Second Chanter to the Grand Duke in Aeryn (the present Duke’s father). Rumours abound concerning how his dismissal came about, but he was actually fired for becoming too friendly with the Grand Duke’s daughter, sister of the present Duke. The present Duke’s nephew, incidentally, plays a pretty mean lute.
Trask knows everything there is to know about Aeryn’s history, culture, nobility and geography (Knowledge 10 in all areas). More importantly, as a one-time adventurer, he has considerable experience fighting Undead creatures, and suspects that this may be what is afflicting the town. His possessions include +2 leather armour, a +1 rapier, and “Mistweaver”, a Lyre of Fascination (+4 on all Perform and Bardic Music checks.) Trask won’t accompany the party, however; he is packing to leave town.

13. The Stone Cairns. There are more than 40 large stone mounds set in a jumbled, haphazard fashion under the chestnuts against the forest wall; a large marble stone in their midst has been flattened on one side, and has the names of all the passed townsfolk engraved on it. It is a quiet, peaceful place under the eaves of the wood. Except in one place, where one of the cairns appears to have fallen apart.
[SEARCH DC 14: the cairn is empty]
[SPOT DC 16: it is one of the more recent cairns, e.g. built only a few months ago]
[SEARCH DC 20: according to the flat stone, it is the cairn of Lobell Hand, a farmer who died in a fall from an apple tree two months ago.]
[SPOT DC 22: it appears to have been knocked apart from the inside]

14. The Storskov. The Great Forest is made up of 25% chestnut trees, 65% conifers, and 10% apple trees. It is bright, sunny and clean, with little undergrowth, and is inhabited by happy squirrels and singing chipmunks (10% bear in daytime, 10% wolf at night). But if the wind is from the west (20%), anyone coming near the forest can smell a foul odour of decay and rotting vegetation...and something else that smells even worse. The forest runs longer than the town, and is about a mile wide at the town’s center. Beyond the forest the trees thin out and get more stunted for another mile – and then the great swamp begins.

15. The Great Swamp. The swamp behind the forest is barren, with bracken, stunted trees, and standing pools of oily, filthy, sour water. The smell of decay and rot is all-pervasive – not just vegetation but also, it seems, flesh. In daytime it is depressing and gloomy; at night, misty and terrifying. Small copses of brush and juniper dot the landscape. Various tracks can be seen here and there, some of them familiar, some not.
No animals will be encountered here in daytime. At night, roll d20: 1-10 nothing, 11-14 1d6 skeletons, 15-17 1d6 zombies, 18-19 1d4 ghouls, 20 a ghast.

[Search DC 25: one of the copses is perched on what appears to be a small mound with a low cave entrance in the west side]
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So much for Bornhavn! Over the coming posts, I'll let you know how the Party fared with its many and varied denizens.