Interlude 1: The Mines
is an optional event that you can include in the adventure. It has no
influence whatsoever on the course of The Courier’s Oath. It is
included here for two purposes:
· Your characters have been hearing about the mines and might decide to take a look at them. (If you have a dwarf character in your party who came to Clearspring specifically to see the mines where supposedly gadnú has been found, the character will surely be pushing to go here.) There should be something happening at the mines, something for the party to do, for which we provide a few ideas here.
The Mines are an important part of Clearspring and
therefore need to be introduced. If you will base your campaign in this
town, there’s a good chance some future adventures will be set here. So
we’re giving you some basic information for those adventures, and at
least one decent story hook.
If you don’t include any of this chapter in your adventure, maybe you’ll be using it at a later time. Then you will probably have to enhance the information herein a lot, so that there is an ample playing field for your party.
And please note that there is none of the sacred dwarven gadnú in these mines. We’re not saying that none has been found in the mines, but the characters will not find any proof or any actual gadnú. This could be an integral part in a future story, so we would like to reserve any decision on this for ourselves. (If we make a final ruling on this, you will find a note on our website or in a sourcebook on Clearspring.)
It’s fairly simple: The party travels to the mines, takes a look around and tries to figure out where the story continues. (It doesn’t but since the party has come here in the first place, they probably think there’s something to be found nonetheless.)
And then… something shakes the ground! A landslide! One of the mineshafts collapses, and the party is closest to it. Someone is trapped inside whom the party has to rescue.
If they succeed, they’ll have one very grateful miner, and thus one assured friend in Clearspring who’s indebted to them. The other miners will also have a good opinion of the party because they immediately (let’s hope they do so immediately) tried to rescue the trapped miner.
Of course if they fail, the poor miner is dead, but at least the party will have tried.
At any rate, that is all which happens at the mines, and afterwards your party had better head for Trebonshire Forest and the way to Hoordan’s Crossing so they can resume the adventure.
Clearspring lies at the southern foot of a medium-sized mountain called the Eagle-Eye (because of its height), with a couple of hills flanking the mountain. The latter are called the Eaglewings, even though there are five noteworthy hills rather than the two one would expect from the name.
Mountains are unusual in this area, the Eagle-Eye is the only one for some fifty to sixty miles around; hills of the size of the Eaglewings are more common.
A local legend claims that many eons ago the gods celebrated a feast in the heavens above Clearspring, and one of the gods dropped his mug of wine which shattered right here. One of the shards became the Eagle-Eye, the others the Eaglewings. And the divine wine gave rise to the river which flows down from the Eagle-Eye, the Whitestream. (The legend, of course, claims that it had been a white wine in the divine mug, hence the name.)
There are several claims staked out across the Eaglewings which are held by small groups of miners, some four to eight to a group. They wish to try their own luck in the hills, hoping to strike a rich lode of ore that could make the hard work pay off – without having to regard a larger company in their backs.
These stakes consist usually of the shack (or shacks) where the miners live, and a variety of tunnels dug into the ground to look for ore. Some extend for several hundred yards, whenever there has been some luck (i.e. precious metals like gold or silver); others end after a few feet, commonly when the miners have struck solid rock that would be too expensive to remove.
The small-time stakes – as a rule – don’t appear very firmly placed; they always seem to be either deserted already or about to be. The main problem is that there isn’t a real market for any ores they might unearth, there are no traderoutes to deliver the goods (safely) out of Clearspring. Therefore the miners have to sell their finds in Clearspring or the nearby villages; the sheer volume of metals available has driven down prices for the raw materials quite a bit.
That same problem also affects the city-owned mining company which runs all the operations on (or rather in) the Eagle-Eye. Funded by Clearspring’s town coffers (and the fervent hopes of Mayor Bearrun), there is a large mine on the southeastern flank of the mountain, along with a number of exploratory shafts drilled into the western side. Two quarries are located at the foot of the Eagle-Eye; one in the west, wedged between two of the Eaglewings; the other about three hundred yards from the entrance of the mine. This quarry and the mine share the same worker camps and facilities (field kitchen, mess tent, latrine, and so on).
A dirt road leads straight from Clearspring to the mine, cutting across several farms. Deep grooves have been carved into the road from heavily loaded carts rolling over it several times a day. The distance is about 1 ½ miles.
An office building (made from wood) is the first visible sign of the operations (the noise travels quite a bit further). This is where the manager and clerks work, unless they are out to supervise the mine and quarry.
Anyone wanting to visit the mine will have to stop at the office building. For one thing, one of the clerks will know where a specific person is – for another, four guards are permanently posted on the road as protection. Their standing orders are to only let unarmed persons pass; any weapons are stored at the office until the owners leave when they can pick up the weapons. (This is quite safe; Mayor Bearrun has taken much care to select the guards.) It needs be noted that the guards don’t pat the visitors down for hidden weapons – unless they look rather unsavory -, and they allow small weapons like knives or daggers.
Behind the office building, the processing houses are arrayed where the ore is separated from the rock. There’s a constant rustle and bustle, smoke is rising from the chimneys. Wafts of heat exit from windows and doors.
Dirt paths lead off to the shacks of the workers who live on the premises. While the majority have homes in Clearspring, some choose to make their home at the mine. They are given free shelter in exchange for serving as additional (and unpaid) guards at night. Originally, the shacks weren’t much to look at, but some of the miners have been living there for years and have enhanced them into decent places to live.
The main road leads on to the actual mine, two shafts leading into the mountain, supported by wooden beams. Above the Eagle-Eye looms as safe as any might like.
The area in front of the shaft openings is always busy with carts carrying out loads of stone which will be brought to the processing center down the road by horse carts. The operations are supervised by two (or more) overseers.
Off to the side of this place, leading towards the quarry, are the kitchen and mess tent. (The latrine is on the opposite side.) Every shift busy in the mine has one assigned break per day when they are provided with their lunch. It works out so that the mess tent is occupied almost all the time, and the kitchen is cranking out meals (of admittedly dubious quality).
Between the kitchen and the mountain is a clear space that is freely available to the workers in their little spare time. Now and then they play a game of ball (note that we have yet to specify such games; you might think of backyard soccer or basketball games), or just stand together and talk until they have to return to the shafts. Thirty feet from the mountain side, three metal posts have been rammed into the ground, with a metal roof. (Let’s assume this stand has something to do with the workers’ favorite ball game.)
Lead your party into that free space by the kitchen. Four workers have gathered near the kitchen (100 feet from the rockface) and are playing cards. Standing under the roof of the game stand is a familiar figure, Cravit Daig, a NPC we have already met in The Drunken Badger. In fact, some of your characters should have intimate knowledge of the man’s fists from the brawl. They probably gave him some sweet memories as well. So there might be a bit of trepidation to talk to that man.
Give the characters a moment or two to consider whether to do anything about Daig – or to realize that there isn’t anything to do. Then…
Tons of rock slide down into that conveniently free space – and they bury Cravit Daig. But he was standing under that roofed stand, so there is a slight chance he has survived. But he will die if he cannot be dug out quickly…
The party does not have to take damage; it depends entirely on where they are standing when the landslide occurs.
The area where damages can occur begins at the rockface. Unfortunately, the first 50 feet are a death zone: Everybody in there is killed by the landslide.
Since it is you who controls events, you need to time it so that none of the characters is within that area. (Daig is well within this zone, but he has some protection.) So if the party decides to investigate the mountain, either cause the landslide right away or wait until they have exhausted themselves. After all, if they want to get themselves killed, they can do it in the actual adventure, right?
At 50 to 100 feet distance from the rockface, require the players to roll a percentage check against their agility + (Distance – 50). For instance, if a character is standing 60 feet away from the mountain, she has to add (60 – 50 =) 10 to her agility value. Let’s say that value is 45, so she has to roll against (45 + 10 =) 55. If she rolls less than that number, she manages to jump out of the way of the falling boulders.
Each character who fails the agility check takes 2d10 damage.
Let’s hope you have a noble and courageous bunch of players who immediately jump to the task of excavating Daig from his death trap.
There is a time limit: Daig was lucky enough that none of the large boulders smashed the metal roof, and now he is caught right under it, with just enough air to survive for three rounds, i.e. some 90 minutes. (I don’t think it should take any longer than that; your players might get itchy for some real action.)
In that time limit, a certain amount of rock will have to be removed. This is a feat that requires raw strength more than anything else – but every hand helps, even if it’s the weakling fingers of a wiry wizard.
Each player who takes part in the rescue attempt rolls 1d10 and multiplies the result with his strength attribute. The character removes that many pounds of rubble per round.
The four miners who were playing cards also join in the effort; for them you have to roll the dice. (First you need to roll for their strength attributes, you should do so in your preparation before the game session.)
So, there remains just one big question: Under how much rock is Daig buried?
The answer is: As much as the party has a chance to get out of the way.
Let’s get down to the details and do the math. (Aren’t you happy that we told you a pocket calculator is “optional but advisable”?) You know the strength values of each of the characters in your party, sum them up along with the strength values of the four miner NPCs.
Multiply the sum by 3, for the three rounds of the time limit.
That is the maximum weight (MW) of rubble, and it would clearly be pretty mean to use this value. After all, everyone involved would have to roll straight 10s to get Daig out from there. So we’ll need to reduce the weight.
Roll a 1d10. You get the modifier and the required calculation from the table below:
So, the weight on top of the poor Cravit Daig is the [modifier] percentage of the maximum weight. And your players have a decent chance to get him out of there safe and sound.
Well, if you don’t make it, there won’t be any repercussions by the miners. At least your party tried their best to get Daig out of there, so now they’ll have to live with the fact that they failed to save him.
… there’s rejoicing all around! Everybody is clapping each other on the shoulders (except for those smart enough to take care of Daig), there’s cheers going around, and the thin smile on Daig’s face is quite a bit of reward.
No, it won’t stay the only reward. Your players would be quite upset if they didn’t get anything more substantial out of this event.
The miners invite the party to a small feast at their mess tent (which is a mess after the landslide), and fortunately the cooks put together a decent meal. This is a good opportunity for the party to shore up their supplies for the journey ahead of them: The cooks will be happy to put together a couple of rations for them.
(This supposes that Daig has gotten out alive.)
During the feast, Daig – still weak from his brush with death – comes up to the party and offers his personal thanks. “I’d be dead if it weren’t for you,” he says, clearly uncomfortable with the idea of thanking someone he’s been brawling with only a few hours ago. Then he proceeds to pull out an item from his cloak:
And there you have the hook for another future adventure. Daig already mentioned the salient points in the flavor text. Think up a storyline surrounding the bracelet and how it got inside the rock. Magic is the obvious solution, but it’s likely to take quite some explanation. (How long has it been there, anyway?)