The Storm

Bill longs for a life of adventure and a chance to leave his family’s farm. When brigands set their eyes on the property, he gets more than he wished for.

The Storm, by Kelly Pawlik, is set loosely around a table top roleplaying game supplement called Tangible Taverns: Gumption, and is available now on DriveThruFiction.

Read an excerpt:

The rope cut into Bill’s wrists.  One of the figures, briefly illuminated by the dim light of the small cook fire, had a hatchet tucked into the belt fastened loosely around his hips, and the hilt of a knife reflected the light from the fire. Bill was downwind of the fire and the smoke created a haze in the air that assaulted his lungs and made his eyes sting.

He blinked repeatedly and tried to cough, but the gag in his mouth made it difficult.  He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping once he opened them, he’d be back on the farm. Bill recalled the fight he and his father had earlier that day. It felt like much longer ago. Bill had been desperate for a chance to leave the farm then. Now he’d give anything to be back there.

Download the full story here.

5e NPC – Burkhart Zykleres

Dire Rugrat Publishing has released 5e NPCs: Nobles & Ne’er Do Wells.  With 20 pages of unique stat blocks, write-ups, and colour art, there’s plenty of NPC goodness. While all of the characters in the book are a noble and/or ne’er do well of some sort, there is plenty of variety; challenges range from 1/4 to 9.

One such NPC is Burkhart  Zykleres, an abusive aristocrat who takes credit for other people’s good ideas and flees a situation he can’t win.

More on House Zykleres can be found in Houses and Heraldry, available on DriveThruRPG.

Burkhart Zykleres

Abusive Aristocrat

You know that was my idea.”

Burkhart is the youngest son of Count Fredrick Zykleres, a lord known for his unpleasant attitude. Along with his father’s sour disposition, Burkhart shares the family’s striking blond hair and blue eyes. Charming as some found young Burkhart, his boyish good looks have long faded. Burkhart has no desire to take over the house as it would require far more time and work than he is prepared to spend. Instead, he is happy to reside in the family home, enjoying the benefits of lordship without any of the responsibility.

Burkhart is a weaselly man who eagerly avoids the consequences of his actions by blaming them on someone else. If faced with a situation he cannot talk his way out of, Burkhart runs away by whatever means necessary. He is not above disguising himself as a servant, or even killing them to take their place, if it means living another day.

Should his older brother Ambrosius have one of his occasionally insightful ideas, Burkhart deftly takes credit for it. He has become such a master at this tactic, Ambrosius often believes the idea was his brother’s. Burkhart employs the same strategy with suggestions from some of his father’s advisors, which has become increasingly frustrating for them. He has a canny knack for twisting only the successful ideas to seem like his own, and any poor ideas always appear to belong to someone else.

Burkhart discovered a young age how easy it was to coerce people to do work on his behalf, and he has long enjoyed the power he holds over servants and staff. Burkhart shows only some respect to his father, brother and their head of staff, which is more than he shows to anyone else.

His mother, Amelia Zykleres, formerly of house Stylark was a gentle woman, and a trusting one. She adored her children, and always took them at their word. Young Burkart quickly realized he could use this to his advantage, and he blamed any of his misdeeds and mishaps on staff that displeased him. His charming plump face, large blue eyes and halo of blond hair were convincing. Pieces of shattered vases were disposed of, and their disappearance was blamed on a sticky-fingered page. A filthy room was the result of a lazy maid. A kennel master who lacked discipline with the dogs was responsible for the mess in the garden. Over and over again staff were forced to take responsibility for young Burkhart’s poor behaviour. No one dared to speak up for fear they would be next. 

Amelia Zykleres died when Burkhart was a boy, and he spent much of his youth with a parade of assorted governesses. If one displeased him, he bullied them into resigning or otherwise staged a scenario that resulted in their employment being terminated. While some noble parents may have realized something was amiss, Count Fredrick Zykleres gave little thought to his children.

The only member of the house who realized what the growing boy was up to was Ximena Diguera, the housekeeper and head of staff. Ximena had long been involved with Fredrick, and had even more power over the house than a housekeeper usually would. Disinterested in anything would upset their way of life, the two developed a mutual understanding to stay out of each other’s business.

Olanna, Burkart’s new step-mother, is not much older than he is, and his only interest in her is trying to bed her. Ximena, for her part, is encouraging his attempts.

 

Burkhart's stat block

 

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 details the contents of such magical bags.

A Footman’s Bag of Holding

This finely made bag opens to a reveal a seemingly endless void. The exterior is crafted of a sturdy fabric and a silken rope fastens the bag shut.

  • Long roll of red carpet
  • A fine cloak trimmed with fur
  • Gold cloak clasp inlaid with pearls
  • Noblemen’s outfit
  • Courtier’s outfit
  • A well-made top hat
  • Vial of perfume
  • Shoe polish and a cloth
  • Flask of brandy
  • A small bag with dried fruit and nuts
  • Grooming kit
  • A book titled Tales from the Dark Woods, which includes frightening stories of lost children and strange woodland creatures
  • 50 cp
  • 100 sp
  • 212 gp

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

 

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. 

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.

Complications

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.

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