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Interlude 1: The Mines


This chapter 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.)


Plot Guideline

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.



The Mountains

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.)


The Mines

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).


GM Information

The quarry is the cause of the landslide. Explosives have not been developed, but the Clearspring workers have come up with an alternative method of loosening large slabs of rock (for easier processing on the ground).

A slab is marked by holes drilled into the rock in even intervals so that a series of the cavities outlines the slab (all around). Then water is pumped into the cavities (through an aqueduct that deviates the Whitestream to the quarry). When pressure builds up, the natural force of water tears cracks into the rock from hole to hole, and in short order, the entire slab comes free.

This method has indeed been employed historically. (I may be wrong on the details and the physics of how this works. If you have more detailed information, please send it to marc@gushemal.com; I would be happy to include a correct description here.)

At any rate, the workers of the quarry have been a bit negligent with how they are working the mountain. Being so close to the mine, they have managed to loosen the rock in its vicinity. Now there has been a minor rainstorm the day before, and unbeknownst to the workers, the rock is about to smack down into them.


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.

GM Tips

If one of the characters in your party has a skill related to mountains (like mountaineering) or is a dwarf, you might give him hints that the rock looks somewhat unstable. Be sure to have mentioned the rainstorm the previous night.


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.)


The landslide

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…


Flavor text

Suddenly you hear something rumble. Very loud – and very close! The workers at the card table interrupt their game and stare at the mountainside in terror.

You follow their stares – and see a shiver run through the rock. Small stones tumble down, followed by larger ones. And then it seems as if the entire mountain was falling over – straight towards you!


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…


Damage to the party

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.


The party to the rescue

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.


GM Tips

If you aren’t that lucky, and your players prefer to stay on the sidelines and watch the other miners rush to help their colleague, remind them that these men probably won’t take too kindly to that. And there are dozens of them on hand. And your players left their weapons at the office building.


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:

  1d10 Result Modifier Calculate  
  1 - 3 3 / 10 (30%) MW * 3 / 10  
  4 - 6 5 / 10 (50%) MW * 5 / 10  
  7 - 10 8 / 10 (80%) MW * 8 / 10  

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.



In case of failure

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.


If Daig gets out

… 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.


GM Tips

Since you know what the adventure ahead demands, you might deem that your party hasn’t bought every kind of equipment they might need. (Especially if they want to head out for the supposed Darawk temple… even though they know that nothing is there.) In that case, you can have the miners offer the party a few items out of gratitude.

Make sure that none of these items is expensive. These folks don’t have much money – and if the players figure out that there is a treasure trove waiting for them at the mines, they’re sure to come here and take the drive out of the adventure itself.

Keep the value of the items offered below 1 gp altogether.

If you think that a comparatively expensive (above 1 gp) item is needed by the party – absolutely vital -, then one of the miners offers it to the party at a very low price (3/4 of the regular price list in the Player’s Handbook). It’s not for free. Again, this isn’t supposed to be a free-for-all; the miners have to cling to their possessions.



The hook

(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:


Flavor text

A bracelet gleams in his hands. The golden glitter sparkles in the torchlights, a ruby catches your eyes, big and shiny. Markings snake across the bracelets course, odd symbols that are a little reminiscent of the Tonomai writing.

“I’ve had it for a year or so,” Daig says slowly. “Don’t know what it is… Sure, it’s gotta be worth something, but… You know, I found it inside the mountain, embedded into the rock…” He shakes his head frustratedly. “How did it get there? I mean, within the rock? There wasn’t a cavity or something where it was placed, it looked pretty much like it was fused into the stone. It took me two months to clean it, polish it and…”

He stops, sighs, hands it to one of the characters. “I haven’t been able to find out how it got there. Maybe you’ll get lucky… Or you’ll sell it, whatever. Worth my life.” With that, he sighs again, casts a final glance at the bracelet, then he leaves the feast.


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?)


GM Tips

We haven’t included a further description of the bracelet since it should serve as the hook of your adventure. So any more details you have to come up with yourself.

Just take note that the bracelet should not have any offensive powers. That would change the dynamic of the following adventure (and might be too much to handle for future adventures as well.) Preferably the characters can’t figure out any magical spells hidden in the bracelet at first – if you wish to include any.

Keep in mind that your party is a beginners’ troop, and as such they shouldn’t have any deus ex machina device with them that can sweep all obstacles aside. (Save this for a couple of years down the road, when they’ll be fighting the gods to take over the Heavens. – Whoa, that was a joke! Can’t I make a joke now and then?!)


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