Saturday, 17 April 2021

Helix & the Barrowmoor


See Matt's Barrowmaze Thread
1359 DR 
M10 T3 (25/4/21): Manu the Half-Orc, stablehand at the Brazen Strumpet, and the noble lady Mirabelle Cumin meet at the Brazen Strumpet in Helix. From the Mercenary Guild they recruit the Gnome Rogue Estra Zo and later the Cleric Farnad of St Sollars, making several expeditions to the Barrow Mounds and returning with rich treasures, most of which are sold to Mazzahs the Magnificent. They part ways for a while as Manu trains to increase his fighting skills.
M11 T1 (23/5/2021): Manu Mirabelle & co resume delving into the Barrows; Ulric Iceshadow killed by a Wight & Farned of the Great Church by centipedes.
M11 T2  (20/6/21): Stairs mound discovered. First meeting with Mongrelmen, fighting giant flies.
M11 T3 (4/7/21): Meetings with Mongrelmen, mapping disjunction.
M12 T1 (18/7/21): Enk & Estra Zho killed (by gargoyles & Norse Whisperers), Norse Whisperers defeated but 2 escape; dwarven thrower hammer recovered.
M12 T2 (1/8/21): Krago the Dwarf & Herald Estrange eaten by giant vultures. Spellgard Shield of Old Impiltur recovered; Necromancers of Myrkul encountered and defeated. Men-at-arms recruits Milly & Mathor survive the expedition. The Brazen Strumpet has some refurbishment work done.
M12 T3 (22/8/21): Winter Festival approaching. One snowy night, orcs attack the Brazen Strumpet, but are defeated by the defenders led by Manu, Ripper and a dwarf warrior, Brago of the Oceans. One orc is captured, questioned and released after Brago removes a leg. Ripper gets it on with the night's entertainment, a lusty half-elf Bard named Roxanne Barr. 
Next day, Manu, Ripper, Brago and the men-at-arms Milly & Mathor crew Hendon the miller's flat-bottomed boat out onto the marshes, seeking the lair of the giant vultures who slew Krago & Herald.
They do not return. finis (for now)

Barrowmaze Adventurers


Glendor (Rich) Human Vengeance Paladin 4

Occasional & Retired

Mirabelle Cumin (Jelly) Human female Wizard 3

Kaalih (Silvia), Tiefling female Sorcerer 2

Deceased PCs

Manu (Matt), Half-Orc male Totem Barbarian 4

Ripper (Kermit), Human Knowledge Cleric 4

Brago of the Oceans (Jack), Dwarf Weaponmaster Fighter 3

Herald Estrange (Jack), Tiefling male Infernal Warlock 3

Ulric Iceshadow (Rich) Human male Fighter-1 XP 165/300 AC 19 HP 12 P-PER 11 P-INV 10 P-INS 11


The penniless PCs have slowly migrated, one-by-one, to a backwater village called Helix in the gods-forsaken middle-of-nowhere. You overheard a group of loudmouth adventurers called the Bastards of Bogtown talking about the gold and jewels they recovered from a barrow mound in the swamp. Hey, that sounds like a good idea!

Depending on their backgrounds, PCs may have their own reasons for investigating the Barrowmaze, eg a Wizard PC might be apprentice to the local wizard Mazzahs the Magnificent & seeking to recover lost knowledge of the old Nars. A Cleric or Paladin might be serving the Church of St Sollars (locally headed by Brother Othar) and investigating reports of the dead rising out on the Barrowmoors.

The Barrowmoor

The Barrowmoor

The Brazen Strumpet Inn, Helix

Helix Village
Population: 632
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Demographics: Primarily human, with a few dwarves, elves, half-elves, and halflings.
Political Structure: (Noble Family - Hereditary) Krothos Ironguard, vassal to the Baron Grimstead. 
Industry and Trade: Dried Peat, Livestock (goats), Agriculture (subsistence)
Maximum Spell Level: 3 (Mazzahs the Magnificent, Brother Othar).

The village of Helix is located between the northern edge of the Barrowmoor and south of the Blackened Forest. Humans established the village two centuries ago atop the ruins of a much older settlement. The location affords good access to water, wood from the forest, and fuel supply in the form of harvested peat moss from the bog. 
The people of Helix are a mixed group. The remote location of the village, on the western edge of Damara and far removed from civilized society, means the townspeople are either hardy frontiersmen who make the village their home or scoundrels and knaves seeking refuge in the distant corners of the realm. The time of year also influences the village population. Helix appears relatively quiet during the rainy season in the fall and winter months. During this time, only the foolish would attempt to cross the marsh (even highly skilled rangers and druids would think twice). The water level rises during the
rainy season and it makes traversing the ground a perilous undertaking. Instead, most wait until the late spring or early summer to navigate the Barrowmoor.
Many folk tales and legends are told in Helix. Of these stories the undead are the most persistent. Village elders agree that the sightings of strange human-like figures shuffling through the fog are a growing threat to their communities. Some locals in Helix blame adventurers for these disturbances and say the barrow mounds must be left alone and that the dead must not be disturbed.
Each fall, the people of Helix celebrate the harvest by constructing a large effigy of Green Man (Silvanus) or Herne in the village square made of dried peat, reeds, and hay. The villagers, wearing masks symbolizing the animals of the swamp and forest, surround the effigy with sacrifices, conduct prayers, and then light it aflame on the night of the Autumnal Equinox. This is followed by a celebration of drinking, singing, and dancing. The church of St. Sollars discourages this longstanding practice.

Places of Note: Village Map of Helix

1. Village Square (central meeting place and marketplace) 
This is the central meeting and marketplace in the village. The village crier makes announcements each day at noon from a dais in the center of the square. These announcements normally gather a large crowd and provide an excellent opportunity to learn news or attempt to find hirelings or henchmen, beyond those available in the Mercenary Guild. There is also a pillory in the square that serves as a deterrent for criminals and thieves.

2. Turgen’s Trade Goods 
Billworth Turgen, a merchant, has provided basic equipment and trade goods to the villagers of Helix for decades. He also serves as the local agent for the Silver Standard Caravan Company.

3. The Axe and Anvil 
Karg Barrelgut is the lead hammer at The Axe and Anvil smithy. Barrelgut is a fine craftsman and serves the village in the varied roles of blacksmith, armourer, and weaponsmith, as needed. His young cousin, Gern, works as his apprentice.  One can purchase a broadsword here (same stats as longsword, but one-handed only) from the Axe and Anvil for only 8gp. The broadsword is the favoured weapon of many warriors in the region. Karg can provide all standard weapons (except bows and arrows), and standard armor types other than plate (breast, half or full). Given enough time he can even craft rune-marked weapons (magic +1 melee weapons) with a preference for axes, hammers and swords.

4. Mercenary Guild
This building serves as the home of the mercenary guild in Helix. Osen, the Guildmaster, created a
business for himself recruiting men-at-arms, classed henchmen, porters, torch-bearers, and guides to serve adventurers and expeditions into the Barrowmoor and the surrounding region.

5. The Silver Standard Merchant Caravan Company 
This building serves as the supply depot for the Silver Standard Merchant Caravan Company in Helix. Trade goods are both delivered and loaded at this location. Billworth Turgen oversees each shipment personally and normally has a small crew of men to load and unload the caravans.

6. The Shrine of St. Sollars is a small church in the center of the village. Most villagers in Helix pray to both the ancient gods and the new. The Shrine of St. Sollars, in particular, has been successful in establishing a small religious following. Brother Othar (Priest/level 5 caster) and his under-clerics Cella and Gamdar Half-Orc (both Cleric 2) oversee the shrine and tend to the needs of the villagers regardless of their faith.

7. The Rosy Quartz Jeweler and Money Lender
This is the shop of Harnold Huwen Reginald (or H.H.R) Huffnpuff, the primary jeweler and money lender in the village. Huffnpuff can provide several services for adventurers. These include the appraisal of gemstones and precious treasures, exchange of these items into gold pieces, and banking services. HHR is very short, rumoured to be part Halfling.

8. The Brazen Strumpet (Tavern/Inn)
The Brazen Strumpet is the heart and soul of the village. Bollo the Barkeep owns the tavern and employs three barmaids Taycee, Urgritte, and Merda. The tavern is usually quiet in the mornings and early afternoons. Patrons normally start arriving in the late afternoon and the music and merriment continues until Bollo closes the bar in the wee hours of the morning.

The Brazen Strumpet, Roxanne Bard performing on a cold winter's night. The Foul Pheasant lies to the right.

9. The Foul Pheasant
Pernicious “Perni” Ticklebottom owns and operates the only gambling house in Helix. Although she attempts to pass her business off as a simple, seedy tavern to the locals, Perni’s primary business is gambling and, to a lesser degree, prostitution.

10. Wizard’s Spire
This decaying spire is the home of Mazzahs the Magnificent (Wizard 6). The spire itself is impressive especially the observatory. However, the structure is in disrepair and the sides are covered in green moss. A sign on the door reads “Do not disturb!” Mazzahs is said to be quirky and grouchy. He prefers to be left alone to work on his experiments, read arcane lore, and study the cosmos through his makeshift observatory at the top of the spire. He can sometimes be persuaded to craft magic items, for a sizable markup.

Mazzahs come downstairs and (several minutes later) opens the door, having disarmed the wards. He looks up at Nathia as he hands over a pouch of 50gp for the scroll. "Oh, always interested in magics of all sorts, I am! I have quite a research specialisation in the old Narish stuff out of Barrowmaze.  Jergalite Era, prior to the Rise of Tharlgaun Crell. The Old Nars had a rich and fascinating culture, y'know."

Mazzahs eyes Mac. "I know of the ancient Narish legends, yes. They say Jergal, God of the Underworld, received a vision. He knew his three sons, Orcus, Myrkul and Set, desired his throne and wanted to depose him as Lord of the Underworld. Jergal commanded his followers to take his most powerful unholy relic, The Tablet of Chaos, and entomb it in a hidden place, behind many wards and traps. In time, Jergal’s vision came to pass and his sons overthrew him... but they never gained the Tablet, and without that their rule could never be complete. Why do you ask?"
"Of course, this is only a legend. It likely transposes the rise of Tharlgaun Crell, son of Orcus, to the metaphysical realm. Set of course is a version of the serpent god of Mulhorand, while Myrkul features in the similar Netherese legend of the Dread Three, where Jergal willingly gave over his lordship to Myrkul, Bane and Bhaal."

Mazzahs cocks an eye at Mac. "Hmm? Most interesting! Qorgeth... the Serpent is not so far from the Worm - it had occurred to me that 'Set' might be a mistranslation from the Old Narish! You think the third brother is in fact the demon Qorgeth? Yes, that certainly makes sense..." Mazzahs produces a stylus and wax pad, hurriedly scribbling some notes. "Yes, so... once the Serpent - the Worm - devours the Heart - the Tablet of Chaos - that will be the coming of the End Times! Indeed! Yes, it all makes sense now!!" Mazzahs gives an excited little hop.

11. Bowyer/Fletcher
This is the home of Valeron the elf. Valeron is a bowyer and fletcher. One can purchase short/longbows and arrows from him at standard prices; Valeron is said to be the finest bowyer in the region. He can even craft enchanted elven bows, using the finest yew. Valeron also possesses the knowledge and skill to weave giant spider silk from the Blackened Forest into enchanted elven garments, cloaks, robes, or rope.

12. Grain Mill
Hendon the miller, his wife Vina, teenage son Tamson, and boy Yusef, live here. Hendon is a capable man (a retired Ranger) and occasionally walks the moor in defense of the village.

13. The Barrowmoor 
Within the marsh, an obscuring fog hangs heavily on the landscape and easily disorients travelers. At dusk the fog is nearly impenetrable and the moon casts an eerie glow across the moor. The air feels thick and hard to breath. The marsh smells of rot and decay. The ground of the Barrowmoor is soft and footprints quickly fill with dark peat-coloured water. The bog is difficult to navigate due to the tangled and near impenetrable mass of decaying trees, weeds that stand seven feet high, knotted vines, and deep pools of black swamp water. The moor is an unnervingly silent place. Occasionally the deep croak of a bullfrog can be heard before it plops into the water, or perhaps the distant caw of a raven, but otherwise the moor is strangely quiet. For much of the year the Barrowmoor is near impenetrable. During late autumn, winter, and early spring the marshland is simply too soggy and water-covered to traverse on foot, and flat bottomed boats or rafts become the only means of ingress.

14. Statue of Herne 
Surrounded by a ring of stones, a statue of Herne the Hunter stands in a secluded grove by the river three miles west of Helix. The statue serves as a shrine and those who worship him travel to the grove with offerings and animal sacrifices.

15. Ancient Ruins
An ancient white marble ruin can be found in the Blackened Forest about five miles north of Helix. The ruins have long been reclaimed by the black trees and growth of forest. The ruins are covered in giant spider webs that dominate the wood. Some say they occasionally see torches near the old temple that correspond to the cycle of the moons.

16. Ironguard Tor, the fortified manor house of Krothos Ironguard, lies on the stream 1/2 mile east of Helix. It is surrounded by farmland, and protected by a squad of well armoured men-at-arms.

The Blackened Forest
The Blackened Forest is a dark swampy woodland beginning 2-3 miles north of Helix. Some say the trees have turned black from the peat of the Barrowmoor and others say that a greater evil has poisoned the forest. The wood is said to harbor all manner of monstrous creatures including goblins, froglings, bugbears, trolls, and giant spiders. During the spring and summer months the villagers of Helix, accompanied by men-at-arms from Ironguard Tor, attempt to harvest the extremely valuable giant spider silk from the forest. Only a couple villagers (including Valeron the Elf, and Vina the miller’s wife) possess the skill to weave giant spider silk. Some say the clothing made from the silk possesses unique properties. The majority of the silk harvest is transported by the Silver Standard Merchant Caravan Company to Ravensburg. In addition, a white marble ruin—perhaps an ancient temple—is said to exist in the forest north of Helix.

The Moonfog Hills
6+ miles to the west. Silver and Mithril are mined here despite the dangers of these enchanted hills, and brought through Helix by the Silver Standard merchant coster.

Personalities of Helix

1. Mazzahs the Magnificent is a strange mage who makes his home in Helix. Mazzahs gives a poor first impression. His left eye is slightly larger than the right, giving him a bug-eyed appearance. His wizard cap is bent and his robes are decorated with small charms and knick-knacks that jingle together as he walks.

2. Bollo, Owner and Barkeep of The Brazen Strumpet, was a stout warrior in his youth. The barrel-chested Bollo retired from adventuring to open the Brazen Strumpet after he took an arrow to the knee. Bollo is known as an honest and fair-dealing man. He has a loud and ready laugh. He feeds Alaster the village idiot for free, prays to Herne & Silvanus, and supports the local shrine. He normally wears a worn leather apron, and his old warhammer and shield hang behind the bar. It's said that Bollo has heard every Barrowmaze story, and is a wealth of information on the dungeon.

3. Taycee the Barmaid seems the archetype of the feminine, buxom, red-headed barmaid. She is pretty but sarcastic, with a droll sense of humor. She has worked for Bollo for years, and has heard most of the rumors regarding Barrowmaze. 

4. Urgritte the Barmaid  is strong and tall, and yet possesses a feminine build. She has long, pleated, golden blonde hair. Urgritte appears of Narish stock, and has a strong Soravian accent. She has worked at the Brazen Strumpet for a few months.

5. Merda the Barmaid is beautiful, but shorter and with a more slender build than the other barmaids due to her half-elven heritage. She is short-tempered, and is always late serving tables. She seemingly cares little for most folk. Friendly with Mac.

6. Karg Barrelgut the Blacksmith hails from Dwarfstead. He serves as the blacksmith, weaponsmith, and armorer for the village of Helix. Karg possesses a dark sense of humor, and is quick to develop humorous nick-names for his patrons. Karg is well known within Helix.  Karg speaks broken common and prefers to conduct business in Dwarven, if possible. He has a young dwarf, Gern, a nephew who serves as his apprentice.

7. Father Othar of St. Sollars  is well-groomed and makes an excellent first impression. He seems devoted to establishing St. Sollars as the primary deity in Helix and the surrounding area.

8. Cella the Devotee; rescued as an orphan and raised by Othar, Cella is a devout follower of St. Sollars. She has short black hair and piercing pale blue eyes. She is quiet and reserved.

9. Gamdar the Acolyte  recently joined the faith of St. Sollars in Helix. His mixed blood gives him a strange appearance. He has two small tusks that jut from either side of his mouth, this makes his speech difficult to understand.

10. Krothos Ironguard is the epitome of impetuous youth. Unlike his late father Sir Kell, he looks down on the villagers of Helix and treats the people with disinterest. He is brash, a braggart, and has accomplished little in his life. Krothos is always accompanied by two burly bodyguards (Baddock and Kantin). They typically wear chainmail (with the tabards of House Ironguard) and carry longswords. Krothos has delved into Barrowmaze once. He brags often about the experience. Krothos can often be found in the Foul Pheasant gambling and whoring. In his effort to exert more power and influence Krothos hired a new advisor, Ollis Blackfell.

11. Valeron the Elf stays in the village and plies his trade as a bowyer and fletcher. Valeron is a handsome and lithe Wood Elf of the Rawlinwood. He has sharp features, and long jet black hair. He greets most non-elves with an aloof disapproving gaze, but regardless of his first impression no one can question the quality of his work. Valeron is the finest bowyer and fletcher in the region.

12. Guildmaster Osen, a retired former adventurer and mercenary with grey receding hair, Osen's leg was crippled by an arrow at the disastrous Battle of First Goliad, M6 1357 DR. He came to Helix last summer (1358 DR) when he heard of the discovery of a great field of Barrow Mounds in the Barrowmoor. Although his warrior days are now behind him, Osen created a mercenary guild to represent and organize local labour. The recent rumours of gold and treasure in Barrowmaze ensure Osen has a steady stream of desperate (and greedy) ne’er-do-wells hoping to make a quick gold piece.

13. Billworth Turgen owns Turgen’s Trade Goods in Helix, and also serves as the local agent for the larger Silver Standard Merchant Coster (Caravan Company). He is very friendly with a bald head and a short round body. His appearance belies his nature as a shrewd businessman.

14. Alaster the Village Idiot is a terrible sight to behold. He wears old dirty clothes and smells like ale, vomit, and feces. His hair is a tangled mess matted with mud. He tends to lie about in front of the Brazen Strumpet. T3/M12/1359: Alaster killed an Orc raider in the larder of the Brazen Strumpet with only a broken bottle.

15. Madam Pernicious “Perni” Ticklebottom  is a halfling who once tried her hand at adventuring, but decided she was better suited to a life of comfort. She appears cherub-faced and is always overdone with makeup. Perni is excellent at reading people and can play shy or aggressive, as the situation or client demands. She established The Foul Pheasant tavern and gambling house largely due to the post-war influx of mercenaries in Spring 1359 DR. Friendly with Mac.

16. Harnold Huwen Reginald (or H.H.R) Huffnpuff plies his trade as a jeweler and money lender in the village of Helix. He has a head of curly brown hair and a broad smile that seems to extend almost from ear to ear. He always introduces himself to new clients in grand fashion saying, “H.H.R Huffnpuff, jeweler, money lender, and purveyor of ancient antiquities. How may I be of service?” Huffnpuff comes from a long line of jewelers. He has a keen eye for appraisal and a shrewd mind for business. He will happily exchange treasures for gold pieces.

17. Hendon the Miller is emblematic of the tough, hardy villagers that make Helix their home. Prior to raising a family, Hendon served as a Ranger in protection of the village. He is viewed as a local hero of sorts, and villagers still tell stories of his bravery in defending the village against a host of Bullywugs that attacked Helix decades ago. Hendon is a proud and capable man. His sons Tamson and Yusef want to learn to walk the moors like their father.



HHR Huffnpuff


Krothos Ironguard




Father Othar



Rules Stuff
Note: The PHB Feat & Multiclass rules modules are not used in this campaign.
Permitted Player Sources: Player's Handbook, Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Dungeon Master's Guide Variant Rules in Effect
1 Week Long Rest - Page 267. Overnight rest restores 1 hp/level & 1 Exhaustion level.
Training to Level - DMG Page 131 (10 days & 20gp at levels 1-4).

Major Changes to PHB Rules
Standing from prone provokes Opportunity Attack. 
Picking up an object from the ground counts as standing from prone - half move & provokes opp att.
Berserker Barbarian may recover 1 level of Rage exhaustion with a Short Rest.
Eldritch Knight Fighter may Attune to a magic Bonded weapon, and use it as their Spell Focus.
Beastmaster Ranger: a Beast Companion may roll initiative and act on its own turn. It may also use its Reaction to follow orders given by the Beastmaster on his/her turn. It does not always stay and fight - if feeling outmatched it might Disengage and flee, or even Dash away.
Maximum AC & Save DC is 30. Skill DCs are not capped (but DC 30 is 'nearly impossible').

22/8/21: Orc raiders penetrate the Brazen Strumpet.

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