The heroes return

The players now stand tall, they have found out that the Dog Witch is to blame for the horrible attack and that ‘Targus’ the instrument with which she she sowed discord is either dead or in their custody. Having stomped back to Barta they take some much needed rest.  

Continuing the story

Any D&D game involves a bit of give and take with the players. Not only do you as the DM want to balance the game to their expectations but you should also match the mood of the players, pairing your style with the kind of story they want to be apart of. I think it’s important to be flexible so below I’ve provided three ways to move the players on to the next section of the campaign. Collecting the Sword of Talan.  

Greed

Greed is by and far the simplest way to continue character involvement in the story. Have Captain Govlen or perhaps Wislin’s widow come up and offer the players a solid sum of money to continue the hunt for justice.

The problem with this though is it feels very transactional, driving the players to feel like the only thing tying them to the story is money. It also means that if they nearly die then the characters might just up sticks and leave, the money not being enough incentive to stick their necks out. 

In an RP heavy group though this approach might fall a little flat as they expect a more story driven motivation. 

Destiny

Priestess Kinswall can approach the characters and explain that she believes that they have been chosen by a higher power to help bring justice to Barta. Visions and portents point towards them being destined to bring about change.

This is a slightly more character driven path to motivating players to continue the plot path. It has it’s downsides, ‘the chosen one’ is a bit of a tired trope and some players may not be invested enough in the world to care. It’s main advantage though is that it allows you to explain why the world’s characters are relying on the players.

It also has a little bonus of making the players feel special.

Honour

Players know how stories should go, they may need no encouragement to start seeking out the Dog Witch at all. I personally like making sure players feel connected to the world and it’s not just a story. 

In this case ensure that the players feel personally motivated to continue, have the good and just players pay a visit to the Stars & Moon home to meet those who hide there out of the Dog Witch’s influence.

If the players have provided a backstory weave an element into the descriptions of her atrocities. This is the most time intensive method to hook the players but the most rewarding.

A sword needs a scabbard

The players are hunted down by Priestess Kinswall and her Acolyte Jaf who is now much recovered though still a little unsteady on his feet (unless he died of course). 

She asks the players if they could perhaps help her search for another relic that would enable her to locate the sword. She recently met a dwarf named Selka, who is looking to return to her mother’s mine. Kinswall explains Selka’s father, Brimsnir Song Jewel, was the one who brought the Sword of Talan, Taliburn, to Barta, claiming to have found it standing in a stream near his mine. The was always something funny about the story and the Priest at the time noted that things didn’t add up. One aspect of which was that Brimsnir, despite knowing very little of the lore around the Talan or Taliburn seemed to know the exact description of the swords scabbard.

The is a chance that near or in the mine itself is this scabbard which is almost as magical as the sword itself. At the very least legend tells that the Scabbard can guide it’s wearer to Taliburn without fail. If the players can obtain the scabbard then they will have the ability to hunt the sword down as well.

 

Meeting Selka Song Jewel

Sitting in the Dragon’s Bucket is a dwarven woman in fine armour and with braided golden hair. Bright eyed and sharp tongued she sits behind a table in a corner of her bar, drinking out of a metal tankard whose handle is topped with a glowing blue gem. She explains that she wants to employ the heroes to go complete the burial rites of her ancestors down in the mine and retrieve the treasures they were buried with. 

Selka knows little of the Sword of Talan but promises that any relics of that nature will go to the players. Selka needs help with this quest as there are rumours that mine is haunted and it’s so far put off anyone who will help her. She was also born with a limp that stops her from being able to head down there herself.

She will offer a fee to go down there of a flat one hundred gold to each player. Her main goal is her father body but she also knows that Brimsnir was buried with some treasure that is very valuable.

Getting to the Song Quarry

Travelling out to the quarry takes four days of travel by foot or two by horse. This is the groups first time in the deep forest so be sure to emphasise the change from the more controlled areas round Barta.

The trees should loom and the mists should be thick each morning. The deep woods are no friend to travellers and players might wake up to find their belonging covered in moss or watch their fire be consumed by a sink hole as the forest actively resists the incursion of the civilisation. 

 It’s up to you on how you handle random encounters for this journey though I’m not personally a fan of utterly random encounters as it can get in the way of the plot. I do have one encounter I recommend which is optional and listed below if you want that wandering monster feel.

Role playing Selka

Motivation: Selka want’s to see her family given the respect it deserves and she feel that by completing her quest to the mine she can achieve that. 

Personality: She is a business woman who wants to reach a deal that helps her and buys others loyalty, she is realistic about what to expect from employing wandering heroes and is prepared to loose much of the loot.

Past: Her father left to run the mine when she was very young. she pushed her brother to go to the mine and complete this task but he never returned and partly blames herself. 

When offering the deal Selka also has some other information she can provide. Selka is secretly looking for a song jewel that was buried with her father, it holds the exact words to cast a lost spell from the Hollow Empire and is worth more than anything else in the mine.

  • (WV) Her brother, Gorrick, already attempted this journey but failed, showing the mine offers at least some danger.
  • (WV) The mine is home to song jewels, magical remnants that speak sounds into the head of anyone who holds them. (She can demonstrate using the glowing jewel in her tankard)
  • (P-DC15) The players are welcome to half the value of the loot but Selka gets first pick. This excludes the scabbard though one item of Selka’s choosing though she will not say what. 
  • (WV) The key goal is to bring up Selka’s father’s remains so it can be ceremonially burnt as part of dwarven custom.
  • (ASR) She knows nothing of the sword but does know that song jewels generally form near powerful magics.
  • (P-DC15) The mine had a schism, her father and his second in command got in a fight that left many dead. She doesn’t know the exact details but it’s connected to a dwarven civil war that ended many decades ago.  

Pipes and song (optional)

The players start to hear the sound of beautiful music playing though the trees. The sound of pan pipes and singing. When they hear this have everyone role a wisdom saving throw (DC13), those who fail are compelled to head towards the music and full speed. No matter how the party arrives they discover a clearing where four Satyr are playing music together. One is on watch and has advantage on perception checks to spot the party. Passive perception of the Satyr group is 12. If any of the players arrive enchanted they just stand on the edge of the clearing listening and tapping their feet.

The four Satyrs confront the party over the fight they had with the satyr in the tent. This allows for the either combat or diplomacy. If the Satyr escaped he may be part of this group and isn’t necessarily hostile to the party unless they gave him reason to be. See my thinking like a fey post for role playing tips. The satyrs want apologies and reparations from the party for the hurting of their friend. A few ideas of what this might be are below.

  • The players dance for them.
  • They get to hit the Satyr as hard as they want then he gets to hit them as hard as he wants.
  • The need to give up something of personal value.

Should the party not want to apologise or just go directly to combat the spell affecting the players is broken and they act normally. Here’s a link to a recommended map by another great content producer Neutral Party. 

 

The approach

A sandstone wall stands crumbling. The gate has a scraps of wood clinging to the hinges, the doors long since fallen.

The first sign that you’re approaching the mine is the small signs of old dwellings dotted about. Shacks overgrown to the point of collapse, with farming tools still leaning against them. Even dilapidated the low rooves show they would never have been used by humans.  Pushing up towards the hill a sand coloured wall can be seen.

Pitched on a small rise the broken fortification is all but consumed by creepers and is only about ten foot tall but would’ve offered some protection from those who might wish the mine ill. In the wall a single wide gate lies open, scraps of rotten doors still clinging to the hinges. Something is wrong though.

Perception DC10 spots that the is blood smeared on the trail as if something bloody has been dragged this way. A Survival check DC15 spots that the are cart tracks, pushed by something with paws like a wolf but that walks upright like a man.

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