The Adventuring Company
- Ash - Woodmen of Wilderland
- Bell - Hobbit of the Shire
- Mozart - Ash's hound of Mirkwood
- Toefur - Dwarf of the Lonely Mountain
GM Note: These characters were pregenerated characters that I had previously used in a convention game run at AcadeCon. These are experienced characters with approximately 120 advancement points and 25 XP each. Each of these characters had special "power" cards which summarized character abilities. Since some of the players were new to this game, I found these cards very helpful in ensuring players did not stall out hunting their character sheet for things to do.
While in the House of Beorn, the company met with Gandalf the Grey and was ask to deliver a letter to Radagast the Brown in Rhosgobel, a settlement on the edge of Mirkwood. When the company arrived at Rhosgobel, they found the normally open and welcoming gates mostly shut. Once inside the walls of the settlement, they found the Woodmen around were uneasy or anxious. They discussed this with Radagast in his dwelling and learned that currently that the Men of Tyrant's Hill have sent an envoy here to discuss an alliance and that the envoy's arrival coincided with the disappearances of a number of the Woodmen and their hounds. The people of Rhosgobel are currently distrustful of the envoy, and blame them for the disappearances.
GM Note: When the discussion with Radagast occurred, the subject leaned heavily on the hounds. The players did not know people were also missing until about 3/4 of the way through this discussion. This was intentional, as I've found that most of the players will have an emotional response to saving an animal over people.
The letter the company delivered from Gandalf to Radagast recommended that the company could help solve any issues that may currently be plaguing Rhosgobel. With that, Radagast recommends the company act as a third party scout to search for clues about the missings' whereabouts, as any run-ins between the Woodmen and the Men of Tyrant's Hill could boil over with the current tensions. Level heads must prevail.
Investigation around the town uncovered that three Woodmen and six hounds had gone missing over the course of three weeks. The Ash decided to visit the residence of the most recent person to have gone missing, Brennan, and try to find a scent to track. Brennan's home was currently occupied by his 16 year old daughter, Morrow, who obliged the Bell's request allow them to sniff around the house for a trail to follow. During this time, Toefur met with the Tyrant's Hill envoy, Torrel. Torrel explained their presence and position regarding the proposed alliance stating that, as a force from the South grows stronger, his people can not keep up the fight and protection they've been providing without support.
GM Note: The plot of this adventure will be to investigate the disappearances of the men and hounds while also trying to discern the motives of the Men of Tyrant's Hill.
The next day the company set out with Mozart tracking the scent of Brennan and his two hounds, Rose and Thorn. On day 10 they discovered a spot in the woods where a struggle seemed to appear and trace amounts of blood was discovered. They followed this for a further 3 days and discovered a small camp. Believed to be made by the Men of Tyrant's Hill, the camp was in disarray as if a fight had taken place there. Items of note discovered included symbols or tools that matched those of the Tyrant's Hill envoy, a set of leads tied to a tree which had been snapped or torn apart, and a note in a locked box presuemably written by someone named Mogdred. The note found instructed the reader to continue their duties to stop any orc they find moving North, but if negotiations turn sour, that protecting the Woodmen should no longer be a priority. Also discovered was what appeared to be drag marks heading out of the ruined campsite.
The company followed the drag marks for a few hours. As they did, the forest around them began to become filled with spider webs. This continued until they came upon a large spider's web with several wrapped bundles clinging to it, one of which was moving. If Toefur's less than graceful trek through the previous spider webs didn't draw any unwanted attention, the Ash's attempt to climb the web certainly did. Soon a series of spiders descended upon the company. The battle was short and sweet, until the great spider arrived with her horrible shrieking and corrupting bites. Though, she too was soon dispatched.
GM Note: I wanted this fight to be more difficult than it was, especially since the characters are fairly experienced. I originally chose spiders from the Heart of the Wild book, but completely forgot that I wanted to use them until after the fight.
After the fight, the company took the time to lower the bundles from the spider web and discovered that the wiggling bundle was one of the missing hounds, Thorn. While Thorn was being treated for being malnourished and poisoned, Ash also discovered that she had bandaged wound along with the spider bite. The other bundles contained the bodies of the three Woodmen, four of their hounds, four Men of Tyrant's Hill, and three other hounds (later identified by Radagast as hounds of Tyrant's Hill). As Toefur attempted to relocate the bodies to a better place, he noticed that the three Woodmen all had stab wounds in their backs along with the spider bites. Ash noted that the weapons used to cause this damage were probably crude and of orc make.
With Thorn in poor but improving shape, the company traveled back to Rhosgobel to inform Radagast of their findings. While he seemed concerned about the note found at the campsite, the concern wasn't what everyone else was thinking about. He informed the group that the letter they received was a powerful thing before saying goodbye.
Afterwards, the company returned to Morrow to inform her of their findings and return Thorn home. After being offered a place to stay from her, Toefur decided to visit Torrel again and discuss their findings. When informed of the fate of his kinsmen, Torrel formed a hypothesis of what happened, indicating that his people were waylaid by spiders, which caused orcs to slip through, who murdered the Woodmen and their hounds who were subsequently found by the same spiders. When presented with the note, he made no attempt to deny its contents. He confided in Toefur that the Men of Tyrant's Hill cannot keep what evil grows in the South at bay if they cannot find support from those whom they protect. He reminded Toefur that the letter he holds is a powerful item.
From there, the party decided that they should have a word with the Woodmen and discuss what else may be happening behind the scenes.
GM Note: This is where the first adventure ended and we proceeded to a short fellowship phase.