The back is finished, and we're just awaiting the front now.
But for now, let's talk about Exploring Cairnvarthi. "Campaigns in Cairnvarthi" will contain not only the mini-campaign "Adventures in Rollingvale" that will take new characters from first level to fifth, but will also contain the setting material a GM would need to run a sandbox style game in the realm of Cairnvarthi. Here's a teaser of what you can expect in the campaign world guide section of the book.
Now, of course one of the fun parts of playing in a sandbox is that you can react to what your players want to do, and build the story directly around their actions on the fly, using cues from the setting material. In that vein I tried to give enough description in CiC so that a GM can do just that without bogging them down with too much detail, which can stifle folks' creativity when they're trying to make a game world their own. However, as my group explores the realm, the people and places and things they encounter would technically become canon in the "official" version of Cairnvarthi, and I want to start documenting that here so that GMs who play in my world have more detail if they want. Some of this lore will of course shape future adventures and supplements, but if a group has taken Cairnvarthi and made it their own, and something my group and I add contradicts, then that group should feel free to disregard it all if they need to.
So, let's get to exploring Cairnvarthi, shall we?
First, let me introduce you to the characters (who you'll be seeing on the back cover). Our heroes are Glarnack the human barbarian, Robin the half-elf bard, Jor-El the halfling rogue, Peren the elf ranger, Riardon the elf druid, Flint the dwarf cleric, and Finn, the half-elf Paladin. After finishing their exploration of the dungeons beneath Drachas Brachterr's tower, the party had come up with two quests of their own. Riardon seeks to find just where his brother disappeared to (see "The Haunted Tower," level 2, room 26), and Jor-El has heard tales of a set of magical thieves' tools owned by Gustav the Cat, the leader of the Blue Lotus Gang in Karak. Riardon learned about Die Zauberschule in Karak, and believes that would be a good place to start his research, so the party decided to head for the land of Mithgarthr and its kingdom of Karak.
On their way north to Caer Dathyl, where they hope to find passage on a ship to Mithgarthr, they stopped at a small village to help with a goblin infestation. The party cleared the dwarven ruin that the green skins were inhabiting. Once they were out, they camped in the magic hut until the next morning. When they made it back to the small village, they found it completely razed. Dead villagers were scattered about, some of them half eaten, some of them dead from poison. Stuck to the door of the one building that wasn't completely destroyed with a dagger, a note was left from Kolmurg thanking you for the tasty villagers. This is the leader of the Tribe of Stinger, an orc bandit gang that they had tangled with a few days prior who had escaped during the fray. Continuing onward towards Caer Dathyl, they met two different travelling merchants. One was named Wino, and the other was a hobbit named Rengi. Rengi had a few magical items for sale and the party bought three: two potions of healing and a magic fan that can blow a strong gust of wind. The party also encountered a patrol of royal guards. Both merchants, and some of the guards, all asked the same question when the characters told them that they had found a ruined village, "Oh no, that wasn't the village that Droburn was from, was it?" It turns out Droburn was a beekeeper, famous throughout the Kingdom of Dawn for the mead made from his honey.
The party made one final stop before reaching Caer Dathyl, at a road house pub named "Bishop's Lance," which is named after Sir Bishop Handde who slew a dragon with a magic lance. The lance is on display in the royal trophy room in Caer Dathyl.
Once they made it to Caer Dathyl, they visited a tavern known as The Crimson Harpy, which is a favorite of the royal guards. All of them seemed to be mourning the loss of Droburn (or rather, his mead) once the party delivered the news to them.
Although Robin tried his damnedest to get the group all arrested by arguing with the wrong folks, they eventually had a wonderful night's sleep at an inn known as The Dancing Unicorn, which is by far the most fancy inn in the whole city. The innkeep of the Unicorn was a giggling mess who was a cross between Bill Hader's "Stefon" character on SNL and with HedonismBot from Futurama. I pictured him in my head like this blonde guy:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYHO7FRsQAA
Riardon met an alchemist named Vito who is a walking Jersey stereotype. With each potion recipe that the druid inquired about, Vito would say something like, "Oh my gahd, let me tell you a story about my cousin Sal. This guy, right, he tried to brew a potion of fire giant strength, but the knucklehead gets it wrong. Drinks it anyways. So latah that night he's got a hot date with this chick Laura. Oh gahd the stories I could tell you about her ass... Yeah so Sal takes girl out, they get to foolin' around, and holy shit, you'll never guess where that potion made him shoot fire. Poor girl..."
Jor-El found that he could buy a month's supply of very fine pipeweed for 12gp.
Finally, the group decided that they should head to the docks to secure passage to the land of Mithgarthr. Riardon of course wants to explore Die Zauberschule in Karak and Bokthrek in Nordriki, which are two of the largest centers of learning in the entire world. Jor-El is interested in scoping out the Blue Lotus Gang in Karak, after hearing that its leader, Gustav the Cat, is in possession of a magical set of thief tools.
The docks in Caer Dathyl were a wild sight to behold. A large 100' diameter area with a 10' wall surrounding it is where the party was were directed to. Once they were let in the gate, they saw a massive circular portal, glowing a shimmering blue. Stepping through it, the party found themselves at the actual docks which are about 300' down from the bluff that Caer Dathyl is situated on. They easily found passage on a ship and headed off towards Mithgarthr where they were to land in a large city called Middenheim.
About twenty miles out to sea, with Middenheim in sight on the the horizon, their peaceful voyage was rudely interrupted by their ship being cracked in half by the peak of a mountain. They were sailing directly over an island that rose out of the sea. After things settled and they got their bearings about them, the party set off to check out a cave opening they could see in the distance. It turned out to be the entrance to an ancient dwarven ruin.
The first chamber had two doors made of mithril, and some sort of keyhole on the wall between them. Only one of the doors opened, and inside they found the following inscribed on the wall: JURFON, THE DEMON LOVER, WAS LAID TO REST WHERE THE SHADOWS BEGIN THEIR JOURNEY.
After making their way back out of the ruined dwarven temple, the group gathered enough bits of the ship to create a bonfire in hopes of signalling help. In the morning, a small ship came ashore, and they met Oblib Nobeard, and his two guards, Cassa and Fraga.
After some good back-and-forth, the party made their way to Middenheim, and all set out to explore the city.
Peren went looking for a magical bow, and was told to travel to Riverton and inquire about them there.
Glarnack attempted to find fine armor, and learned of a master gnomish craftsman named Ibuth who resides in a city called Krossvegr, in the kingdom of Nordriki.
Robin bought himself a magical flute known as "Flüther's Föte" from a merchant named Amen. When he played it, it produced amazing music that released his pent up emotions and let those who heard it experience them with the same feeling as Robin.
Oblib told the party a tale about a dwarf named Shaminl, who took the name Jurfon when he succumbed to the worship of Chaos. He directed the group to speak with an old dwarf named Ganlin Silvermane, located in Barak Tûr. Oblib believes that Ganlin will have more information about Jurfon, and the location of his barrow.
Stay tuned for more, as we game tomorrow night!