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?

Treasures Collected, Taxes Due

The PCs have been hard at working clearing out a dungeon, defeating an evil wizard, or even collecting a series of valuable wolf pelts from a fairly remote area. They are making their way back to a more settled area to enjoy a hot bath, a comfortable bed, and otherwise spend their coin.


The local earl and some of his guards know the adventurers are passing through this area, and the earl suspects they have valuable goods on them. The treasure has been collected on the outskirts of the earl’s land, and he wants his cut. Whether or not it is called taxes, he isn’t interested in letting a group of wanderers steal valuables from his land. The earl sets his share at fifty-percent, less than he charges the local people (for good-will and to show appreciation for the work they did removing the threat). Some negotiation is possible, providing the PCs are diplomatic. Intimidation and threats may work in the short-term, but warrants will be issued and the PCs may be unable to visit the area, or other nearby settlements again.

Note: Ensure there are enough capable guards to give the PCs pause.

If you are looking for lords and their houses to use for the above encounter, pick up Houses and Heraldry for 5e on DriveThruRPG.

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.

House Bierjeron

This week we released a new mini adventure. One of the patrons of the Beached Mermaid is desperate for assistance, and enlists the PCs to approach his beloved. In order to help, they’ll have to infiltrate House Biejeron. As an added bonus to the mini adventure, we included this house write-up. 

House Bierjeron

To Distant Horizons

Lord of the House: Lord Viktor Bierjeron

Spouse: none

Children: none

Household Knights, Retainers, Servants: Sir Elias Dahlström, Oscar Malmgren (butler), Hugo Forsberg (valet), Louise Maegden (head of staff), Lotte Kok (cook)

Bannermen: 636 (300 infantry [300 immediately available]; 100 cavalry [100 immediately available]; 100 archers [100 immediately available]; 36 personal guard, 100 garrison)

Vassal Houses:  none

Hillcrest Manor overlooks a picturesque small town situated on the coast. The area suffers little crime under the watchful eye of Lord Viktor Bierjeron and his men. House Bierjeron has held the estate and the surrounding lands for three generations. The current lord has to have any children, and his only brother perished some years ago. House Bierjeron’s power is said to be waning.

Lord Viktor Bierjeron
The lord of Hillcrest Manor is Viktor Bierjeron. He is currently unwed, though he is betrothed to Annette Cunningsworth, the only daughter of  a now landless lord and lady. Lord Bierjeron keeps to his word to the letter, but not necessarily the intent the other party had in mind. He has mastered the art of false sincerity, and cares little for others.

Lady Annette Cunningsworth
The future lady of the house is Annette, a young woman who is still secretly in love with a man she met several years ago named Yacub. She has been pressured by her family into a marriage with Lord Bierjeron, and is currently staying at Hillcrest Manor with her parents while the details of the union are finalized. She is a spirited woman who loves to sing and laugh. She and her handmaiden, Ariadne, are worried there will be little of either once she is wed to Lord Bierjeron.

Sir Elias Dahlström
Once the squire of the previous lord of Hillcrest Manor, Sir Elias Dahlström serves Lord Viktor Bierjeron only out of a sense of duty. He does not particularly like Lord Bierjeron as he finds him cruel, false, and generally unpleasant. Sir Elias Dahlström gives a portion of his wages to those less fortunate in the lands, assisting them in putting food on their table.

Oscar Malmgren
Oscar has been the butler for House Bierjeron for three decades. While his hair is white and his age is showing, Oscar is still more than capable of his job, and will gladly continue to work until his dying die. His wife Olivia was the former head housekeeper, and when she passed away a decade ago he was left with nothing but his position at Hillcrest Manor. He is a stoic man who pours flawless drinks, and has long perfected overseeing the manor in a fashion pleasing to Lord Bierjeron.

Hugo Forsberg
Lord Viktor Bierjeron’s valet is Hugo Forsberg, an intelligent and astute individual. Hugo knows who should be in the manor, and who should not. He only brings matters to Lord Bierjeron when he is unable to take care of them himself, as he knows his lord prefers not to be disturbed. While Hugo is surprisingly capable of defending himself, he does not hesitate to call the guards to take anyone suspicious into custody.  

Louise Maegden
The head house keeper of Hillcrest Manor is Louise Maegden. She knows, and personally vetted every staff member in the manor. She is a canny woman with an eye for detail. Under her supervision, Hillcrest Manor is kept immaculately clean.

Purchase the mini adventure now.

Not so long ago we shared Lord Alvin Cyris’ house. The house detailed in that blog, and this one, are much like the houses in Houses and Heraldry. Each house is laid out on one page; the top half contains the house name, its motto, a representation of their heraldic device as it would appear on a shield, and an information block detailing important personages, numbers of troops, and vassal houses. The lower portion provides enough detail about the interesting characters of the house to get your imagination going, but leaves plenty of room for you to add your own details.

These house write-ups are great for campaigns with a lot of nobility, particularity systems like Sword Chronicle and Song of Ice and Fire. The stat blocks in the appendix make them easy to use in your D&D campaign, but most of the content is system neutral. 

Purchase Houses and Heraldry

Nel, Temptress of the Tarn

“Come, traveller. You must be thirsty.”

This soft-faced fey creature watches over a large, clean lake. She smiles innocently at those who approach her domain. Nel has no desire to directly harm mortals. She instead encourages them to drink and bathe in the lake, where they might be transported to her mistress in the Green Realm.

fey creature in a pond

Nel once spent her days serving her mistress, an aspiring lesser fey lady. She was well regarded and respected among her kind, and one of her mistress’ favorites. Nel spent much of her time being doted on by lesser fey than herself.

Several decades ago, Nel’s rival Shara intentionally committed a grievous act against their mistress, framing Nel. The once favorite servitor could find no evidence to prove her innocence, and Nel knew better than to argue with her superior. She threw herself upon her mistress’ mercy and asked for a chance to prove her devotion. Shara had anticipated Nel’s destruction, but instead the mistress sent her favorite pet from her sight, banishing her to a lake in the mortal realm.

Before her banishment Nel had been on good terms with many creatures in the Green Realm. Her pleasant disposition made her easy to get along with, and she had used her position with her mistress to assist more than a few petitioners. During her time in prison in the Material Plane, Nel has been able to get word back to the Green Realm. She has called in a few favors and a one-way portal to her mistress’ court now exists at the bottom of the lake.

Nel spends her time on the mortal plane luring travellers who will appease her mistress into the lake, and pushing them through the portal. She is eager to return to her mistress and seek revenge against Shara, but dares not pass through the portal herself until she has sent 263 worthy mortals through first.

Nel does not risk endangering travel to the area by preying upon all who visit, and has let several satisfactory offerings go when the risk of exposure was too great. Nel uses whatever means necessary to draw her prey beneath the surface.

While Nel is homesick for a great many things, she misses the music more than anything else. Even when travelling alone, mortals who are able to entertain Nel for a time are not sacrificed to her mistress.

Pick up Nel (plus her sturgeon and snakeshead) and more NPCs like her, in 5e NPCs: Woodfolk and Wanderers, available now on DTRPG.

Pearls of Life (Magic Item)

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

You may use one of the pearls from this necklace to have advantage on a single death saving throw. If you have already failed two death saving throws, you can instead use five pearls to automatically stabilize yourself. The string starts with 49 pearls in total; each pearl is a luminescent off-white until it is used, at which point its color darkens to a glossy black. When all of the pearls have been used, the string becomes a mundane necklace of black pearls worth 150 gp.

If a pearl is removed from the string, it turns black and no longer has any magical properties. If the string is broken, all remaining pearls turn black and cease to retain any magic benefit.

What’s in the Bag? (Wealthy Artisan)

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 details the contents of such magical bags.

A Wealthy Artisan’s Bag of Holding

This plain, sturdy bag opens to reveal a seemingly endless pit. It is well crafted, but made of common materials.

  • 6 beautifully crafted paint brushes
  • 2 rolls of unused canvas
  • A roll of canvas featuring an exquisitely painted landscape
  • 4 gp
  • 20 sp
  • A flask full of brandy
  • Painting easel
  • Assorted jars of paint
  • Painting smock
  • One noble outfit, including jewellery
  • A coil of cured sausages
  • Sturdy wooden chair
  • Wooden stool
  • Palette knife
  • Bar of soap