Travels in “Uncharted” Lands

So often we think of adventurers wandering vast swathes of unclaimed lands. They find somewhere to set their bedrolls, maybe a tent, and set watches for the night. If they are reasonable survivalists they might forage for berries or root vegetables, perhaps hunt some game or set snares.

Only, how much land is truly unclaimed?

Has the land long been home to a tribe of nomadic ogres? Is there a hill giant homestead? Is there a village some miles away where the local earl may not appreciate people poaching on the land? Perhaps the patch of berries the adventurer’s found is a food source a local farmer relies on to feed his family.

This blog series provides encounters for your PCs, and an opportunity for them to consider is uncharted land really uncharted?

Still Waters Run Deep

The PCs have been travelling through a remote area for a time. The trees are tall and the underbrush is thick. Seemingly out of nowhere the flora clears to reveal a lake. The water is crisp and clear. Lush plants grow at its banks. The lake doesn’t appear on any maps, and none of the locals have mentioned it.

Those who taste it find the water cool and refreshing. Any who have fishing supplies on hand find the lake plentiful.

Complications

The lake is home to a territorial sturgeon. Those who venture too close to the water’s edge, especially to fish, are at risk of being attacked.

 

Not interested in a prehistoric fish? Switch it out for Nel, the Temptress of the Tarn. This fey creature is available in 5e NPCs: Woodfolk & Wanderers

 

Kale Frumpus (A Micro Short)

This piece of microfiction is a follow up to Secret Santa.


Trefor’s face blanched. It was just as he feared: another shiny red present with a fluffy green bow. This was the third one. He looked up and down the hall, but there was no one there.

Trefor picked it up, and held it as far away from his body as he could, and carried it down the stairs and around the back of the building to the dumpster. He looked around again, lifted the lid of the dumpster and tossed the perfectly wrapped present into the bin.

He made it to work on time. He’d hated the job when he started there eighteen months ago. His boss at the time was a penny pincher, a real scrooge. But he’d showed her. He’d showed them all.

It was Christmas Eve, and it seemed everyone was out of groceries. The shift should have passed quickly, but Trefor was on edge. Everyone looked sinister.

After several hours, he clocked out and got on his bike. He breathed a sigh of relief as his apartment complex came into view. Only a few hours left. He’d almost done it.

He secured his bike in the rack outside and made his way to the elevator. The hall was empty. Trefor pressed the button and waited. He heard something down the hall and turned to look. The elevator pinged and the doors opened. His eyes focused on the strange shadow that rounded the corner, and Trefor stepped backward into the elevator. The doors closed.

Trefor realized he wasn’t alone. A tall figure peeled himself from the shadows in the corner of the elevator.

“Hello my little elf. You haven’t been accepting my gifts.”

The voice sent a chill down Trefor’s spine. He punched the elevator buttons, desperate for it to open.

The figure produced a box and held it out to Trefor.

When the elevator doors opened on the third floor the only thing inside was an empty red box and a green ribbon.

Secret Santa (A Short Story)

A vehicle pulled into the driveway. It was another SUV with roof racks and tinted windows. This one was white, and it was spotless. Not an easy feat in the current weather. He supposed she must have taken it through a car wash today.

He watched as the driver climbed out. She was a curvy woman in her thirties. She put the strap of her leather purse over her shoulder and made her way to the rear hatch. He watched, tucked behind some bushes on the property two doors down, as she picked up several paper bags and closed the hatch. The bags all had different store names on them. As he’d suspected, she’d been busy shopping.

This was the fourth house he’d done this week. There were three last week as well. He had more packages to deliver before Christmas, but he liked to watch as the recipients found them.

The woman walked up to her door and noticed the small package. It was wrapped in shiny red paper and had a wide band of green ribbon tied around it. The ends of the ribbon formed a big fluffy bow. Presentation made all the difference, and he was proud of his new-found wrapping skills.

She grinned and bent over the box. From behind the bush, he smiled.

She read the tag.

Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps

The woman looked around. Her eyes scanned over the bushes. He knew she hadn’t seen him. She unlocked the door and opened it, and then bent down. The handles of the paper bags slipped down her arm, but she scooped up the box and went inside.

He waited a moment, then slipped out from the behind the bush and started walking down the street. He could get one more delivery in today. The convenience store owner. It had been tricky to figure out where he lived. But he knew now.

He would have loved to see them open the gifts as well, but this would have to do. He could imagine the look on their faces Christmas morning.

The next few days were busy. He stole moments where he could and stayed up late to put together as many more as possible. By the time Christmas Eve arrived he had managed to visit everyone on his list.

Trefor lay his head on his pillow and smiled. He’d gotten rid of the last of the materials today. Just before bed he’d placed what remained of the roll of green ribbon at his mother’s wrapping station.

The last delivery had been close. His former gym teacher had almost seen him. The man had spent last year telling him all the ways he could improve his form.  It was ironic that he moved fast enough to avoid him now.

It had been worth it. No matter what came next, it would be worth it.

*                                             *                                                       *

“Christmas Morning Disappearances: A Dozen Missing ” read the headline on December 27th.

There were no leads. All evidence suggested they vanished. One man said he’d gone to refill his cup of coffee in the kitchen and when he returned his wife was just gone.

Each of the missing people left behind several gifts, both wrapped and unwrapped. At each home a shiny red box lay empty on the floor, its long wide green ribbon nearby. Don’t open until Christmas. Happy holidays. From Kale Frumps read the tag.


Read the follow up Kale Frumpus.

What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts detail the contents of such magical bags.


A Minion’s Bag of Holding

This worn, brown sack is about four feet deep. Its exterior is stained with dirt, and possibly drool. It has a faint musty odour to it.

  • A sheathed and finely crafted dagger with an intricate motif at the hilt, worth 12 gp to the right buyer
  • Crumpled up sheets of parchment with lists of assorted items, many of which appear to be spell components
  • A bedroll
  • Lantern with extra oil
  • 50 yards of rope
  • Set of manacles, without a matching key
  • An old, bent copper piece 
  • Vial of pixie dust
  • 2 vials of bat guano
  • 5 small sacks, large enough to fit over a person’s head
  • Thieves’ tools
  • Crowbar
  • Flask of cheap whiskey
  • 5 rations
  • Portable ram

Silent Night (A Micro Short)

He knew he must keep very still. Footsteps moved down the hall toward him. He sucked in his breath and held it, hoping he was hidden by the shadow of the plush couch. The figure moved into the room carrying an oversized bag. They paused briefly and he wondered if they knew he was there. The figure moved toward the tree, which was still illuminated with tiny white lights. Slowly, they reached into the bag and pulled several boxes. Each one was placed gingerly around the tree. He took a small breath in through his nose and watched as the figure turned and walked back out of the room, padding softly in their slippers. He’d discovered the true magic behind Christmas.

Everfull Basket (Magic Item)

Have you ever looked at your laundry pile and wondered why it’s taking so long to get through? With three rugrats, we certainly have. 

Everfull Basket

Wondrous item, common

This wicker laundry basket is well-crafted with a handle on each side to allow for easy carrying.

Cursed. The amount of laundry contained inside the basket is double what it appears to be. Washing, pressing, folding, or sorting the laundry takes twice the anticipated time. To properly see to the clothing or linens inside the basket, you must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, you give up for the day with the intention to return to the task the following day.