🤎 anya.g.rowe 🤎
National Trust Tyntesfield, near Bristol, UK
Bountyhunt: Raven Redd
“While accosting travelers on the road may once have been the province of hooligans and vagrants, It speaks to the moral deprivation of the age that such a scoundrel would not only aspire to dispossess his betters, but dress like them as well. Shall we not have sense and the harsh law of the gallows, or will we allow propriety to slip until the social order is upturned and the footpads wear crowns upon their heads?”
-Political tract by Augistine Flintworth, local magistrate.
The stories are mixed on Raven Redd, the infamous highwayman who seems to feature in every other ballad sung in roadside taverns. Some claim he is a ruthless killer, while others claim he is a champion of the downtrodden, punishing the noble class for their excesses. What all can agree upon is that Redd’s bounty is astronomical, and that any group of adventurers who managed to bring him in would not only be well compensated, but likely in the good favor of several noble houses and possibly even the crown itself.
Tracking Redd is difficult, but a stroke of luck finds the party when a terrified footman comes stumbling into town out of the woods, screaming about a man in a raven mask slaughtering a whole carriageload of nobles and all of their guards. Redd’s MO with such well bred targets is usually to grab a single individual and ride off into the night, but following this trail of carnage might just lead the party to their man.
Confronting the highwayman sees the party facing off against a master duelist, one seemingly unhindered by the forest’s pervasive dark and favors hit and run tactics that negate their superior numbers. Eventually though, the party will face down Redd and strike a decisive blow, Only to have their target dissolve into mist and vanish into the night.
Setup: The Criminal known as Raven Redd is but a dramatis personae worn by a vampire by the name of Florian ValDaata, scion of a noble family thought extinct for nearly two hundred years. Seeking to disguise his feedings and stave off the pursuit of monster hunters, Florian adopted the mantle of a simple roadside criminal, and has used allies to spread his legend as a means of concealing his true nature.
Florian works hard to maintain his guise as a mortal outlaw, engaging thieftakers and caravan guards on their own terms as a way to dissuade attention and keep things “sporting”, sometimes he can’t help but be overwhelmed by his appetite and turn a simple robbery or abduction into a full on massacre.
With their quarry escaped and thoroughly out of their league, the party will need to return to town and think about their next moves carefully. They might not know it, but they’ve torn a hole in Florian’s ruse, meaning the vampire will target them endlessly in hopes of preserving the legend of Raven Redd. If they’re wise enough to realize what they’re dealing with, a trip to find and manufacture silvered weapons may be interrupted by a gang of all to mortal cutthroats acting as Florian’s catspaws.
The ValDaata estates lay abandoned, a decrepit manor house built on foundations of crumbling fortification, given over to the ravages of the wild. A mere curiosity and distraction in the wilderness, unless perhaps an observant party manages to identify the crest crudely carved into something dropped by Raven Redd during their fight. Knowing that someone would eventually come snooping however, the Vampire was smart enough to move his coffin from the premises, leaving behind numerous traps in the crypt to punish those sniffing about his family’s legacy.
Florian’s true lair is a smuggler’s den beneath a seemingly rustic woodsman’s cabin, guarded by some blackhearted individuals that the vampire keeps thoroughly charmed and well paid with what he steals. In the depths of this dugout Florian keeps those he abducts to sup on, playing the genteel host while slowly bleeding his “guests” dry.
Photo study – minecraft + resource pack + a bit of screenshot compositing and color correction (also a photo of the sky I took on a ride home a week ago)
Adventure: The Grimlord’s Gala
Everybody’s dying to get in
Setup: In his nearly nine centuries of undeath, the grimlord Polveiris has seen the rise and fall of empires, brought doom upon kingdoms, and survived or taken part in atleast five supposed apocalypses. Now as his eight-hundred and eighty eighth “death-day” approaches, the withered old wretch has opened the doors of his subterranean lair manor to a who’s who of the realm’s malefactors and malign spirits for a grand celebration that’s sure to wake the dead from their graves.
Far too desiccated and doddering to do any actual villainy himself, the great concern is what Polveiris’s guests will do on his behalf: Seen as a kingmaker among evildoers across the continent, every would-be dark lord or mistress of malice has suddenly fallen into stiff competition to impress their host. While the Grimlord is content to totter about his tomb receiving pleasantries and blasphemous presents, a mounting number of wellwishers have spilled out into the surrounding caverns as they jostle for space and Polveiris’s attention. Since evil is little known for playing nice with its fellows, it’s only a matter of time before something sparks this powerkeg of villainy and the different factions start carving up the nearby landscape in a turfwar.
The party is likely to encounter the Grimlord’s guests long before they ever hear of him, as the old villain has kept his head down in recent centuries specifically to avoid the intrusions by meddlesome do-gooders. such guests are likely looking to collect objects of fel power or collections of profane knowledge to win their senior’s favor.
While many wicked souls spend their entire time at the gala competing who can get their sinister senpai to notice them, plenty of other wicked souls see the event as an excuse to network, ranging from morally unscrupulous nobles to shadowy entities hungry for power to mad mages wanting to show off their new toys. Should the party end up serving one of these heels, they can expect to attend the gala as part of their patron’s entourage, tasked with both defending them for rivals and looking for advantages.
The gala may provide the perfect cover for a heist, provided the party can earn themselves an invitation and sneak past a whole crowd of tyrants, undead, and madmen watching every corner for ambush.
One could suspect the grimlord of being a lich given his necrotic trappings and seeming immortality, but they’d be missing the fact that Polveiris has in truth no magical power whatsoever. Polveiris is part of a far more wicked and damned class of beings: the ultra-wealthy, as even in life his fortunes were enough to buy his way out of the moral coil and fund a ritual to transform him into a “necropolitan”. Though the techniques for this blaspemous practice have mostly been lost to history, Polveiris is known to have kept the blackiron nails that was their focus as the centerpiece of his collection. With the gala ongoing, one might be able to slip inside and heist out these nails, or any of the other fabulous or cursed treasures the plutarch has stockpiled over the millennia.