Spring 1491 DR: Six years ago, in M4 1485, the great Heroes of Loudwater finally defeated Orcus, Demon Lord of Undeath, bringing the light of hope back to the world.
For six years the lands of western Faerun have flourished. For six years Queen Lirael I has ruled the Shining Vale, aided by her loving consort Sir Jorah Blackthorn, her trusty dwarven Steward the mighty Sir Dunstan Ironforge, and Dunstan's wife the fair Lady Serka. From the Tower of the Green Regent Halvath, the power of Life pours into the world with renewed vigour as the scourge of Undeath recedes like an ebbing tide.
But evil still lurks beyond the Shining Vale. To the northwest, in the rugged Dessarin river valley north of Goldenfields Abbey, where the influence of urbane Waterdeep gives way to untamed wilds, long-slumbering forces now stir in darkness. A dwarven caravan heading from Mirabar to Waterdeep has vanished, seemingly without trace. The weather grows strange and wild. Sages and wise-women speak of dark portents.
The Shining Queen, and others of good will, have now dispatched agents to the region to see what might be amiss...
PCs start at 1st level. Use Point Buy/Default Array. PCs may use all options from the PHB (no multiclassing) plus the PoTA Player's Companion - new races and spells. PCs may begin as members of a Faction:
Major Factions of the Heartlands
Harpers – A scattered network of spellcasters and spies who advocate equality and covertly oppose the abuse of power. The organization is benevolent, knowledgeable, and secretive.
Order of the Gauntlet – Composed of faithful and vigilant seekers of justice who protect others from the depredations of evildoers. The organization is honorable, vigilant, and zealous.
Emerald Enclave – A widespread group of wilderness survivalists who preserve the natural order while rooting out unnatural threats. The organization is decentralized, hardy, and reclusive.
Lord’s Alliance – A loose coalition of established political powers concerned with mutual security and prosperity. The organization is aggressive, militant, and political.
Zhentarim – An unscrupulous shadow network that seeks to expand its influence and power throughout Faerûn. The organization is ambitious, opportunistic, and meritocratic.
Advancement is by milestone, typically requiring around 5 encounters/achievements at levels 1 & 2, 10 at levels 3+. Training to Advance takes place during a Long Rest and normally costs 10gp per current level.
Level Cost to Advance Achievement/Quest Awards Needed
1>2 10gp 5
2>3 20gp 5
3>4 30gp 10
4>5 40gp 10
5>6 50gp 10
Replacement PCs begin at Party Level.
Level 1-4 PCs begin with standard gear.
Level 5-10 PCs may begin with 1 Uncommon magic item (or any suit of armour), plus standard gear plus 100gp.
Level 11+ PCs may begin with 1 Rare magic item and 1 Uncommon magic item (or any suit of armour), plus standard gear plus 500gp.
PCs may spend starting gold on Common magic items, at 100gp per permanent item (eg a Cloak of Billowing or Moonblade) or 50gp per consumable (eg Potion of Healing).
Time in the Heartlands is measured in Tendays, at three Tendays per thirty-day Month. A Long Rest takes 1 week (about 7 days out of a Tenday), and normally occurs at the end of a game session. It may be combined with the Downtime activities listed below.
A Short Rest takes 1 hour. Characters may Short Rest up to 3 times per day.
Death and Resurrection
Death is common enough, but to return from death is remarkable, and few in these times can accomplish such a feat. The Green Regent Halvath in the Shining Vale can Raise those followers of Mielikki brought to him under the influence of a Gentle Repose spell, or dead less than one day.
In Waterdeep town the High Priestess Amathea of Selune and her sister-priests can Raise those goodly folk devoted to the Moon Goddess by means of a Ritual requiring a Star Diamond of no less than 500gp value. Most supplicants are also expected to donate a like amount (so 1000gp total).
PCs Character Level: 1
The master of Ten Ryu Ji (Heavenly Dragon Monastery) was a ruthless sensei; but saw in his newest, most stubborn, pupil, much untapped talent and resolve. Slowly, he forced out the self-pity in Kasumi and replaced it with a burning resilience, as befitted a school that had once been the resting place of a holy, red, dragon.
When raiders wielding powerful fire magics sacked the monastery, Kasumi saw a powerful Tiefling leading the Fire Raiders - the Master of Ten Ryu Ji recognised the Tiefling, and called her 'Vanifer' as he engaged the raiders. Kasumi saw Vanifer slay her Master in a flaming inferno, right before she herself was knocked unconscious into a water trough - she awoke hours later, to find herself the only survivor amidst the fiery ruins. Filled with a burning desire for revenge, she tracked the raiders south as far as the Sumber Hills, before losing the trail. She has recently arrived in the small town of Red Larch on the edge of the Sumber Hills, looking for clues...
|The Tiefling Vanifer, leader of the Fire Raiders|
|Northern Sword Coast ca 1491 DR|
Red Larch and the Dessarin Valley
The Dessarin Valley is a lightly
settled region of caravan towns,
isolated homesteads, and uninhabited
wilderness just a week’s journey from
Waterdeep. Residents in places such as
Red Larch or Triboar boast that their
humble settlements are “the Gateway
to the North.” Through these lands pass hundreds of
caravans and keelboats each year, linking the great
ports of Waterdeep and Neverwinter with places such
as Everlund, Mirabar, or Silverymoon. The steady
caravan traffic breathes life into the towns of this area,
supporting businesses in the settlements along the
Long Road. Inns cater to travelers anxious to sleep
safely within sturdy walls and enjoy good food by a
warm fire instead of camping by the side of the road.
Minor issues are nothing unusual in the Dessarin
Valley, from bands of savage humanoids from the Sword
Mountains or the Evermoors, to bandits gathering in the
lonelier parts of the vale to waylay caravans traveling
the Long Road or the Kheldell Path. But six months
ago, an insidious new threat began to grow in the area,
unsuspected by the locals or any passing adventurers...
|Town of Red Larch|
Red Larch has been an important stop on the Long Road for two centuries now. Named for a distinctive stand of red larch trees that were cut down when the hamlet was founded, Red Larch is a prosperous community facing dark times. The heart of the Sumber Hills has become far more dangerous, with monsters lurking seemingly everywhere. Banditry is on the rise, and the weather seems to be getting more severe and more unpredictable. The townsfolk fear that dangerous times are at hand, but no one seems to know what to do about it...
1. Allfaiths Shrine
The Allfaiths Shrine is a wayside shrine used by many
faiths and owned by none. Priests shuttle out from
Waterdeep in pairs for month-long stays. The most
frequent combinations are Sune and Selûne, Tymora
and Lathander, and Tempus and Oghma.
2. The Swinging Sword
This inn is a three-story stone structure, crowned by a
steep slate roof that bristles with many chimneys. An
inn yard with stables and outbuildings lies behind the
building. While the Helm at Highsun is the place to hear
Red Larchers unwind, the Swinging Sword is the polite
social hub and neutral meeting ground of Red Larch.
3. The Helm at Highsun
Rusty metal grills cover the dirty windows of this
ramshackle two-story tavern. Inside is a large, dimly lit,
wood-paneled taproom where locals relax, gossip, flirt,
and tell the stories of their working days. It’s not a place
for refined dining.
4. Mother Yalantha’s
This three-story, dilapidated boarding house has a
cheerful—though generally noisy—atmosphere.
5. Thelorn’s Safe Journeys
The foremost wagonmaker in this region, Thelorn’s is
a busy, always-bustling place. The quality of Thelorn’s
wagons is well known.
6. Chansyrl Fine Harness
The pungent smell of tanned and oiled leather fills this
crowded workshop, whose walls display leather saddles
and harnesses, as well as stylish leather jackets, caps,
boots, leggings, and armor.
7. Helvur Tarnlar, Clothier
Tarnlar’s is the only place to buy quality clothing for
a hundred miles around. The clothing, boots, and
accessories sold here are all fine, warm, and sturdy.
8. Lorren’s Bakery
This aromatic, tidy bakery always has fresh round
loaves and buns for sale. Its specialty is cheese-topped
buns with melted mushroom cheese from outlying
9. Tantur Smithy
The din of forge hammers rings out late into most nights
from this soot-stained building, whose skilled smiths
can make or repair almost anything that requires no
specialized alloys or treatments.
10. Drouth Fine Poultry
This largest of the two Red Larch poultry shops is everbustling thanks to thriving local farms and the endless
appetite of communities along the Long Road.
11. Jalessa Ornra, Butcher
These four identical single-story stone buildings are
the workplace, shop, and home of Jalessa Ornra (female
Illuskan human commoner). Her husband Harburk
Tuthmarillar (male Tethyrian human veteran) is Red
Red Larch doesn’t have a jail or court, so Harburk
employs four of Jalessa’s laborers as assistant
constables (human guards). Harburk knows there are
evil and secretive groups in the Sumber Hills, but he
isn’t sure just what is out there. Adventurers who could
go investigating where he dares not would be a godsend.
12. Dornen Finestone
This plain, dusty building is the business office of
the busy Dornen quarry, run by Elak Dornen (male
Tethyrian human noble). Dornen is a hard master
to some twenty workers, and he insists on keeping
13. Ironhead Arms
Run by former sellsword and caravan guard Ironhead
(male half-orc veteran), this shop deals in arms and
armor, both new and used.
14. Mhandyvver’s Poultry
Mhandyvver’s is the less impressive of the two local
poulterers, but is a favorite with Red Larchers.
Originally from Amn, Haeleeya Hanadroum (female
human Tethyrian commoner) operates a bathhouse and
dress shop in her large, well-appointed home.
16. Waelvur’s Wagonworks
Ilmeth Waelvur (male Tethyrian human bandit)
operates a cheaper alternative to Thelorn’s Safe
Journeys, making and selling replacement wheels and
axles for wagons. Ilmeth is a town elder and a Believer
(see “The Tomb of Moving Stones”).
This seedy wooden building serves as Red Larch’s
used tools and goods shop, its barber, and an unofficial
second tavern for locals. In addition to providing
grooming, Marlandro Gaelkur (male Tethyrian human
commoner) deals in used (and sometimes shady) items
with no questions asked.
18. Mellikho Stoneworks
A quarry pit begins just behind this small house, which
serves as the business office and the home of the quarry
owner, Albaeri Mellikho (female Tethyrian human
19. Luruth’s Tannery
This former warehouse reeks with an eye-watering,
throat-closing stench that obliterates all other smells
within a bowshot of the place. Ulhro Luruth (male
Chondathan human commoner) is the tannery’s owner
20. Bethendur’s Storage
Four identical, well-built warehouses stand here in
ground covered in raked gravel and cinders.
21. The Market
This muddy, well-used field is ringed with outhouses
and rings of stones that have obviously been used as
cook-fires or trash burn sites. Once a tenday, farmers
drive in from homesteads miles away to sell all manner
of in-season produce, cheese, cider and cider vinegar,
and last year’s pickled beets in jugs.
On the other nine days of the tenday, Grund (male
half-orc thug) ekes out a living by making pickles in vats
at the end of the field. Grund is a happy, dim-witted sort.
22. Vallivoe’s Sundries
Endrith Vallivoe (male Tethyrian human commoner)
is a retired caravan merchant who sells new and
used goods from his home. Almost anything might be
available to buy here, buried under heaps of other stuff.
PCs may recruit PC-Class Retainers/Henchmen, to a maximum of 1+CHA bonus.
PC Level Initial Retainer Level
Retainers who adventure gain levels at half the PC rate, typically 1 level per 2 PC levels. At higher level they are generally best used attending to the PC's holdings and matters beneath the direct interest of a high level PC. Retainers who become PCs are increased to Party Level.
Example: a 3rd level PC recruits a 1st level Retainer. The Retainer adventures alongside the PC and advances as follows:
PC Level Retainer Level
At this point the PC establishes a stronghold and appoints the Retainer as Steward. They remain at 5th level.
BETWEEN SESSIONS - NOTES ADAPTED FROM PLAYER'S BASIC RULES
|Aristocratic||100 gp minimum|
Between adventures, you can tell the DM what your character is doing during his or her downtime. Periods of downtime are normally measured in Tendays, at three Tendays per game month. Usually no more than 7-8 days are actually spent in the listed activity, allowing time for adventuring and the occasional day off.
Each downtime activity requires a certain number of days to complete before you gain any benefit, and at least 8 hours of each day must be spent on the downtime activity for the day to count. The days do not need to be consecutive. If you have more than the minimum amount of days to spend, you can keep doing the same thing for a longer period of time, or switch to a new downtime activity.
Downtime activities other than the ones presented below are possible. If you want your character to spend his or her downtime performing an activity not covered here, discuss it with your DM.
You can craft nonmagical objects, including adventuring equipment and works of art. You must be proficient with tools related to the object you are trying to create (typically artisan’s tools). You might also need access to special materials or locations necessary to create it. For example, someone proficient with smith’s tools needs a forge in order to craft a sword or suit of armor.
For every Tenday of downtime you spend crafting, you can craft one or more items with a total market value not exceeding 50 gp, and you must expend raw materials worth half the total market value. If something you want to craft has a market value greater than 50 gp, you make progress every Tenday in 50 gp increments until you reach the market value of the item. For example, a suit of plate armor (market value 1,500 gp) takes 300 days to craft by yourself.
Multiple characters can combine their efforts toward the crafting of a single item, provided that the characters all have proficiency with the requisite tools and are working together in the same place. Each character contributes 50 gp worth of effort for every Tenday spent helping to craft the item. For example, three characters with the requisite tool proficiency and the proper facilities can craft a suit of plate armor in 100 days, at a total cost of 750 gp.
While crafting, you can maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 10 gp per Tenday, or a comfortable lifestyle at half the normal cost.
PRACTICING A PROFESSION
You can work between adventures, allowing you to maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 10 gp per Tenday (see chapter 5 for more information on lifestyle expenses). This benefit lasts as long you continue to practice your profession.
If you are a member of an organization that can provide gainful employment, such as a temple or a thieves’ guild, you earn enough to support a comfortable lifestyle instead.
If you have proficiency in the Performance skill and put your performance skill to use during your downtime, you earn enough to support a wealthy lifestyle instead.
You can use downtime between adventures to recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison.
After three days of downtime spent recuperating, you can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, you can choose one of the following results:
- End one effect on you that prevents you from regaining hit points.
- For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving throws against one disease or poison currently affecting you.
The time between adventures is a great chance to perform research, gaining insight into mysteries that have unfurled over the course of the campaign. Research can include poring over dusty tomes and crumbling scrolls in a library or buying drinks for the locals to pry rumors and gossip from their lips.
When you begin your research, the DM determines whether the information is available, how many days of downtime it will take to find it, and whether there are any restrictions on your research (such as needing to seek out a specific individual, tome, or location). The DM might also require you to make one or more ability checks, such as an Intelligence (Investigation) check to find clues pointing toward the information you seek, or a Charisma (Persuasion) check to secure someone’s aid. Once those conditions are met, you learn the information if it is available.
For each Tenday of research, you must spend 10 gp to cover your expenses. This cost is in addition to your normal lifestyle expenses (as discussed in chapter 5).
You can spend time between adventures learning a new language or training with a set of tools. Your DM might allow additional training options.
First, you must find an instructor willing to teach you. The DM determines how long it takes, and whether one or more ability checks are required.