On a moonlit snowy plain on the fringes of the kingdom of Alathor, a hungry party of adventurers ride a caravan towards the small flickers of light delineating the East Warden’s Post—a small frontier fortification marking the easternmost tip of the kingdom. Within it’s palisade a small grouping of buildings—an inn, a moneylender’s residence, a carpenter’s residence, a warehouse, and an herbalist/pottery maker’s residence—clumps around a central tower—the East Warden’s Tower. By it’s architecture and make-up the powerfully-present and lofty spire clearly remains from a bygone era.
Inside, our party, Team Hammer, expect to find a change of horses, an easy meal, and bed to rest their road-warn bones. The 10-day trip from Haeghorn was tiresome. Each bump on the dilapidated cobblestone road barely makes its presence known in their increasingly numb and aching bodies. They look forward to their well-earned respite, regardless of how humble it surely will be.
Finding the outpost’s guards welcoming, the caravan trundles under the town’s two portcullises and makes way to the inn, where an expectant party meet the establishment’s friendly proprietor, innkeeper Jones. A few pleasantries are exchanged and a dialogue is opened with Jones whereupon the party learns that the horses promised them by Fingus—the caravan rental merchant—are conspicuously missing, leaving the party wondering how their travels are to continue beyond the outpost’s walls and sullying further their already quite sullied moods.
With the day now closing and without recourse on the matter, they enter the inn with some consternation to find a drunken Halfling bard strumming a dulcimer and reciting poetry to the satisfaction of the inn’s sparse and distracted patrons: a group of gamblers, a lone and noticeably silent chess player, a self-satisfied half-elf jester with a flare for ridicule, and a drunken and distraught half-orc—the motley crew one might expect to find in the adventuresome lands of Alathor.
A few silver pieces change hands and in no time Linda, the innkeeper’s wife, brings out flagons of ale and roasted fowl to the famished friends. Some weapons are checked at the bar at the request of Jones; Algor and Habadir, being outside at the time, remain armed. The fellowship soon distributes itself among the inn and it’s patrons: Algor, our copper dragonborn paladin of Kelemvor (the god of life and death) inspects the conspicuous half-orc to find him utterly distraught and uncommunicative, clearly besought by some overcoming memory; Vito Andolini, the human ranger, finds a seat across from ostensibly stoic human chess player and begins to engage the board, one piece at a time; Hiram Abief, our human cleric of Kelemvor exits the inn for some existential rumination, a curious look around, and a sombre prayer; Habadir Gerber, the half-elf warlock, enjoys a pleasant moment alone with his dinner but, alas, is soon joined by a drunken and obnoxious halfling bard who takes every opportunity to make a show of himself, including a dance number on Habadir’s table; while the parties halfling rogue, Fosco Greenbottle casually makes his presence known at the gambling table only to find that his purse is light in comparison to the hefty sum sitting at the table’s centre.
After inspecting the half-orc, Algor, the unintelligent dragonborn decides wisely to leave the sensitive half-orc be, and joins his friend Hiram outside. The Jester now takes the stage and begins to systematically ridicule our party to his own great amusement. At this point, Vito’s board-position improves to the chagrin of chain-mail wearing thug across from him who responds by pulverizing his markedly empty pewter cup in his begauntleted hand in a clear attempt to intimidate Vito. This piques the diminutive Fosco who courageously makes his way to the table and defends his friend with a particularly indecorous flourish of obnoxiousness earning him a fist-sandwich from the thug and a comfy lay prone on the dirty hardwood under the table.
This is where the kaa-kaa hits the proverbial fan and a fist-fight breaks loose. In no time Habadir flings a table into his opponents face, knocking him over, and putting him within striking distance of a waiting Fosco who takes his opportunity under the table and pummels the prone thug in the head with a chess board. The formerly crestfallen and now rage-high orc at the bar quickly leaps into the fray, missing his first wild swing at Habadir, who surely would have been badly injured by the towering half-orcs mammoth fist. From his position on the stage, the Jester attempts to enspell Habadir, only to be resisted by the strong-willed warlock. Hearing the bustle of activity within, Hiram and Algor charge in to intervene, weapons in hand. With an intimidating shout, Algor, displaying his fierce presence for all to see, utterly ceases activity within the bar and puts an end to what could have been a very bloody tavern brawl, earning him a good-hearted laugh from the obviously amused human chess player that—it now becomes clear—gets a sick kick out of just these sorts of things—a sucker for punishment, it seems.
A few silent and tense moments pass when suddenly the building shakes to the sound of an enormous thud outside to the amazement and confusion of all. A brief inspection reveals that an enormous boar is running amok within the palisaded city limits smashing everything in sight including two guards who attempt to intervene only to be utterly killed by the charging beast.
Having held on to his weapons, Algor quickly runs outside to face the beast mono e mono, while the remaining party scramble to regain their weapons from Jones at the bar. Something of a stand-off develops as Vito—who regains his weapons first—draws an arrow at the now-despised chess-thug who has taken the opportunity to offer his mercenary services to save the town at an extortive price. Realising the time is against him, Vito relents and joins Algor outside who’s managed to injure the crazed boar with a javelin, along with Hiram, Habadir, and Fosco.
Finding himself within range, Fosco let’s loose a ranged attack at the bore earning its ire. Seeking vengeance, the bore charges the unprepared Fosco delivering a devastating blow leaving the diminutive halfing unconscious and bleeding in the dirt. Hiram and Habadir retaliate—Habadir, with a fel-bolt energy of some kind channelled from a source foreign and unbeknownst to him and the party at large—an eyebrow raising attack, to be sure. Algor soon closes in and delivers a final piercing critical blow to the bore ending the encounter and earning the admiration of onlookers.
After consoling the bereaved parents of the two fallen guards, an investigation of the bore and the town ensues during the night and the following morning. In the process several things are discovered:
- The bore has been poisoned so as to be driven crazy. It was also dragged into the outpost limits from the forest and under the palisade wall.
- Tracks leading to the forest and within the city limits display the characteristics of a bore, except that they are far too shallow and erratically-spaced to have been made by the beast.
- The central tower is occupied by the maniacal and suspicious wife of the former warden, Renold, who’s been driven to her state by the disappearance of her husband 5 months ago; evidently, he left the city limits at night to never return again.
- Having no official leader and only basic support, the town is self-administered in a somewhat anarchic and lackadaisical manner by its residents.
- A sparsely filled warehouse has been broken into but shows no sign of anything having been stolen.
- The formerly despair-filled orc is named Gnarg; his brother, and mercenary-group member, recently died to be replaced by the jester who’s name is Panfyr. He’s been contracted for the position by Garrick—the chess-playing thug and party leader—because he’s lost his former occupation due to an overly-loose tongue at the King’s Court.
- Nothing seems to be missing from either mercenary band’s belongings.
- The halfling bard was absent during the night’s action.
- A careful investigation in front of the warehouse doors reveals a strange pair of four-fingered hand-prints.
Besides the investigation results, Vito and Habadir unsuccessfully bribe Jones for information regarding the inn-rooms of their mercenary nemesis counterparts only to find that deducing that information would have been trivial had they inspected the second floor and found their only a few guest rooms. It’s at this point that Habadir becomes irritated—finding himself dissatisfied with the facilities—and manages to insult the inn-keeper’s wife who slaps the disrespectful half-elf. In keeping with his generally reckless behaviour, he also finds a seat across a shocked Jones and joins the stout owner in drinking some stiff liquor only to become severely inebriated and, eventually, unconscious. The following morning, a severely hungover Habadir insults Linda again—this time accusing her of lying about breakfast—and again earns himself another slap.
The rest of the party attempt to make headway with the warden’s wife, to no avail, and in the process affront her. They also find the relentless mercenary leader Garrick attempting, yet again, to earn a buck, first from the guards at the portcullis and then from the money-lender at the far end of the village. Inspired by his attempts, they make an attempt of their own, finding a penny-pinching yet accommodating old-man willing to pay the modest sum demanded—much less than was proffered by Garrick—to secure the town—Team Hammer’s first contract!