The Midnight Rooster

One little side project is an inn generator for Middle Earth (it’s not a tricky job but I’m not hitting it hard at the moment) so that I can just add colour to stops on journeys. One in created for the Shire Campaign is the Midnight Rooster which has become the base of the characters. Hence, it received a little more than the usual brief description. I have used the “Remarkable Inns” ratings system (well worth getting a copy here).

Midnight Rooster 

Wibblesham, The Shire

Wealth/Prices




***
Prices
$ $ $
Security
&&&
Authority
~~ 
Patrons Hobbits and Eriadorians
Disposition Friendly to all Free Peoples
Rooms One common room and two single rooms
Services Stabling

Description

The Midnight Rooster sits at the foot of the hill on the bank of the River Fayn in Wibblesham. Sarsen sandstone blocks have been used to build this tavern, each block telling its own story through the weathering on its surface.  The original building has been enlarged by burrowing into the hillside to create a small smial for the owners that faces into the stable yard at the rear of the inn. The area in front of the inn is churned with mud due to the proximity to the river. To allow patrons to enter and leave without tramping through the mud wooden planks have been added to create a veranda and entrance route. Round to the side, within view of the entrance, a patch of ground is used for regular games of toss the horseshoe.

Inside the main common room is furnished with simple pine tables and benches scrubbed with with regular use of soap and water. In each corner of the room a hanging brazier smoulders casting a musty fragrance into the room.  In the winter, the table closest to the fire is occupied by the Gaffa and Sam; anyone who tries to occupy these seats, should they be empty, will receive disapproving stares and if they still don’t take the hint then Theo will come and have a quiet word. The inn has three lodging rooms – one common room and two single rooms. Should the inn become overfull then Theo will seek alternative space in local houses of the village although the costs will rise.

Owners

The inn keepers are Theodulf and Primrose Sandy who manage most of the day to day affairs. Theodulf is well known within the village, often consulted by Mayor Gresham Shaper on matters outside of a moot. The capable pair are supported by a stable boy Benji Heathertoes  and Molly Bracegirdle the kitchen assistant. 

Theodulf

A portly, bustling Harfoot of average height whose nut-brown round face is always ready with a friendly greeting for both local and visiting traveller. As the Inn is never packed with travellers, being on a less travelled routes, Theo can take the time to get to know his customers and is very knowledgeable about the travelling conditions for the local region. He will be able to inform travellers of the state to the toll at Axbridge by Cluad and the presence of Amlin’s blue-scarfed Road Wardens.

Primrose

Cheery and with a ready laugh, Primrose is most often found in the kitchen of the Midnight Rooster preparing the food for the evening or around the village collecting ingredients for the meal. In addition, she can be found clearing the sleeping accommodation and doing the laundry. As she often says, “a woman’s work is never done” as she tucks a stray strand of light brown hair back into her cap. The poor woman should be given more recognitions for when her husband is out with his cart collecting a delivery of ale or goods from further afield she is also serving drinks and attending to the customers.

Specialities

Ales and Drinks

Golden fields A light ale with the smell of caramel and herbs and a light fresh taste.
Girdley A dark chocolate porter ale kept for winter
Acorn coffee A rather bitter brew drunk as a restorative with morning breakfast

Food

Roasted wild mushrooms
Rabbit stew with Rosemary
Lamb hot pot with neaps and tatties
Honey cakes

Prices

Goods Price Notes
Golden Ale 3 tp pint
Girdley 5tp pint
Small Ale 2tp pint
Acorn coffee 1tp pint in a pot
Main meal 1cp dish of the day
Breakfast 5tp sausage, bacon, egg and slabs of bread
Luncheon 5tp Bread and cheese
Common room lodging 1tp Shared room of eight guests with straw pallets
Single room lodging 22tp Individual beds with fresh linen
Stabling 2tp Enough space for ten horses with feed included

Entertainment

Cribbage, Nine-man Morris, Horseshoe rings, singing led by Ed

 Patrons of note 

GRESHAM SHAPER

Short-haired and lean in the face for a Hobbit, Gresham has a quietly handsome visage often marked by an expression of mild puzzlement. Some think he spends too much time on reflection and philosophy. Gresham is not only the Mayor of Wibblesham but also a respected sculptor who is called upon for commissions from Fornost to Tharbad. He lives behind the Inn and has a studio in the wood on the far side of the hill.

Lvl 13 Bard Hits: 95 Melee OB: 80ss Missile OB: 105sb AT: None DB:25  MovM: 30.
Languages Westron, Sindarin, Quenya, Adunaic, Dunael
Skills Diplomacy 65, Public Speaking 35, Arnorian History 45, Art and Architecture 70, Hobbit History 65, Perception 85, Read Runes 70, Use Items 55.
Spells (78 pp): Detections(IS), Delving(15), Item Lore(IO), Lore(IO), Solid Manipulation(IO)
Items of note Ring of Shaping: Allows wearer to sculpt quickly and exactly according to his feeling.x3 PP multiplier. Short Sword: Avar kynac (long knife), blood-drawing. +15OB; does a secondary slash critical. Shield: Missile warding. +10 DB; +20 DB versus missile attacks. Braces: Suspenders, protection against bleeding wounds. Reduces bleeding hits per round to the body and neck by half.

Mally Nation 

Unusually for Hobbit Shirriffs, the Shirriff of the Valley Rovers division of the Southfarthing is a rosy-cheeked and sandy-haired female Fallowhide. Born with an adventurous spirit Mally was always to be found climbing trees with her elder brothers or boating and swimming in the river Fay. With a natural sense of justice she became a natural choice for Chief Shirriff. She can be found in the Rooster chatting to locals and catching up on the gossip and rumour with a smile and a ready laugh.  

Lvl 4 Scout Hits: 50 Melee OB: 60ss Missile OB: 75sb AT: RL DB:10 MovM: 15
Languages Westron, Dunael
Skills Diplomacy 36, Perception 40, Stalk&Hide 32, Tracking 24, Region Lore (Fayn Valley) 43
Spells
Items of note

Ivar Sornsen 

Towering over the usual patrons of the inn, the blonde-haired, craggy featured Riverman is a well known visitor to the Rooster during the summer trading season as he makes trips up the Fayn to Axbridge and Sackville with goods for trade. In general, he keeps to himself sitting in the corner of the common room to drink and eat before retiring to his camp and boat at the end of the evening. However, if a game of cribbage is on offer he may stay later, particularly if there is a chance of playing for money. Those seeking local knowledge of the area surrounding the Branduin would do well to ask over a game of chance rather than directly.

Lvl 4 Scout Hits: 56 Melee OB: 45ha Missile OB: 25ha AT: SL DB: 5 MovM: 0
Languages Westron, Dunael, Riverman dialect, Adunaic
Skills Trading 30, Gambling 25, Boat handling 45, River Lore 45, Region lore (Fayn & Branduin) 38, Navigation 30
Spells
Items of note Superior steel handaxe +5OB

Regulars

Gaffa Chubb

A grey-haired Harfoot of many summers can be found, pint and pipe in hand, either enjoying the warm sun on the veranda in the summer or occupying the prime spot near the fire in winter holding forth on the local news and business of the day. He doesn’t much like the refugees from Cardolan who he thinks are stirring up trouble by not fitting in with the live-and-let-live philosophy of Wibblesham. 

Sam Proudfoot

Intense chocolate brown eyes peering out from under white bushy eyebrows, Sam is Gaffa’s companion in arms. Sam remembers the great migration and the fearful days up in the Ettenmoors and the stories of his elders of the days when Hobbits lived by the Anduin. He provides a counterbalance to Gaffa over the refugees, reminding him that they are all refugees and of the worries of settling into a new land. He is however, quick with advice on how things should be run in Wibblesham, whilst being supportive of Gresham as Mayor.

Bill Midtoe

Stout, even for a Hobbit, and with traces of flour in his hair and clothing, Bill is the local baker. He pops in to the Rooster at the end of the day for liquid refreshment and the dish of the day after a hard day in the bakery, leaving the lad to stoke the fires before the next night’s bake. A widower, he and his sons bake the finest bread between Michel Delving and the Branduin. Bill is very knowledgeable about local matters as his sons who travel delivering bread to the local farms gather rumour and gossip.

Ed(dan) Crossly

With a ready smile, this ruddy cheeked farmer will happily launch into song and fill the common room with bawdy songs of love and life. The rest of the locals are well-versed in the songs and join in readily with choruses and responses. Ed is the local most likely to welcome travelling strangers with a strong gripped handshake and an earnest greeting. Soon the visitor will find that they have bought him a pint and revealed the reasons for their journey and, if not careful, minor details that should not be revealed. Ed is a good judge of character and if concerned about the traveller will send a message to Shirriff Mally or Mayor Gresham.

Creg

Dark hair tied in a top knot and with a permanent scowl of his face would lead most to think of Creg as at the least unfriendly,  if not hostile. However, a blow to the head when younger has left this simple farmer with a permanent twist if features. Creg can often be found in the Rooster on market days amiably chatting with fellow Wibbleshamites over a pint or two of Golden Ale. He is a very trusting soul and generous to a fault and the locals will protect him from those who may take advantage of his simple nature.

Benji Heathertoes

The stable boy is a twenty-five year-old  Eriadorian of average height and chestnut brown hair. Mostly, Benji tends to his  own small holding of a few sheep and goats on the edge of the village. However, when he notes that visitors are arriving by road he will pop down to stable the horses. He is a likeable chap who has a reassuring way with livestock and especially horses. He keeps the stables clear and the grain hoppers for the horses are always filled.  Any conversation will inevitably turn to either the horses at hand or the fine animals he has tended at some point in the past.

Molly Bracegirdle

Hair falling in dark curls and dark red pouting lips would make most grown hobbit boys melt on the spot and they do. Molly is without a doubt the most popular girl in the village and currently is helping her aunt in the kitchen of the Rooster to keep her away from obvious trouble. Thankfully she is a diligent girl with a sensible head on her shoulders. Her father is only too keen for her to find a suitable husband, if only to reduce the number of idle hobbit youths he regularly has to scare out of his flowerbeds.

Herebehrt Bracegirdle

Commonly known as Herbert is the long suffering father of Molly, who he adores. Herbert has a small farm on the hills outside of Wibblesham and has sent Molly to work with his sister Primrose at the Rooster where he hopes she will be kept away from the local hobbit boys. Primrose should keep her safe enough during the day. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally check up on the girl and then it would be rude not to have a pint and a chat while he was at.

Layout

1 Common room

Inside the main common room is furnished with simple pine tables and benches scrubbed with with regular use of soap and water. In each corner of the room a hanging brazier smoulders casting a musty fragrance into the room.  In the winter, the table closest to the fire is occupied by the Gaffa and Sam; anyone who tries to occupy these seats, should they be empty, will receive disapproving stares and if they still don’t take the hint then Theo will come and have a quiet word.

2 Kitchen

Primrose and Molly are usually busy in here preparing food or washing bedding. The kitchen is large with scrubbed preparation tables from which cooking utensils hang. A couple of large kettles and pots sit by the fireplace where a fire is always burning. Near the door three laundry tubs can be found.

3 Hay loft

Originally a storage space for a cart this area now is where bedding and oats for the stabled horse is kept.

4 Stables

Each stable has room for two horses in close quarters if needed but in general only one horse is stable in each double doored stall which allows comfortable movement for the beast.

5 Store rooms

A passage from the original building has been built to connect the inn to the hill behind. A door which is not often locked (PL light) leads down to the store rooms and the entrance to the Sandy’s Smial. The storerooms contain about a week’s worth of provisions for the inn.

6 Living room

Entrance to the Sandy’s smial is through a locked door (PL Med). It is a cosy dry space with a small fireplace on the inner walls flanked by two comfortable armchairs. Rose patterned curtains hand over the round windows that look out onto the inn’s courtyard. In front of the windows is a small dining table with three stools. Currently in one corner is a small camp bed for Molly if she is staying at the inn overnight.

7 Bedroom

The bedroom is relatively large for a hobbit smial and contains a generous double bed, a large wardrobe that occupies one wall and a dressing table in front of the windows.

8 Single guest room

The larger of the two guest rooms is clean and has storage for items in a lockable trunk (PL Med). The door to the room can secured with a key rented from the inn for 5tp per day (PL Med).

9 Single guest room

The smaller of the two guest rooms is clean and has storage for items in a lockable trunk (PL light). The door to the room can secured with a key rented from the inn for 5tp per day (PL Med).

10 Common sleeping dormitory

The dormitory is regularly swept and the pallets are beaten and aired every week making sleeping comfortable if basic. There is plenty of light provided by a number of small windows around the room. Paying guest will need to provide their own bedding, although it is possible to hire sheets and a blanket for 2tp per night. Theo is proud of the safety of his inn and travelling kit can be left safely in this room.

11 Well

In the courtyard a simple well which draws its water from the Fayn.

Wedding day blues

Our plucky deputies having discharged their duties with admirable aplomb are retained by Mally Nation as deputy shirriffs (it has been pointed out that they should officially be called Bounders, but I suspect that in the early days of the Shire this formal arrangement has not been organised). Taking their rest in the Midnight Rooster in Wibbleham they are interrupted by a young Dunlending lad seeking sherriffs to come quickly to a hold nearby where members of the family are engaged in a deadly stand-off. Duly prompted the deputies set off to discharge their duty.

At the clan hold, they find a family at war over who poisoned the clan lord’s favoured hunting hound. Family rivalries have risen to the surfaced and been amplified by other family quarrels as the extended family have been invited for a wedding the previous day. So it is that Brega, Alvi and Aelfric walk into a silent hold with three large houses full to bursting of drink-fuelled warriors barely held in check by the desire not to be the first seriously injured in any scuffle.

Having made sure that everyone is aware that the law-keepers have arrived, the party set about interviewing the quarrelling family members. The discover the clan lord Arthfael, in a sombre mood, mourning his dead hound. The chieftan is unwilling to take any decisions and has, in essence, abdicated control of his hold and lands. His new wife Blejan informs the party of how two of the daughters, Nuallan and Fedelmid virtually ruined her wedding party with their constant harping. She accuses both of being evil scheming witches who are just the sort of women to poison the hound in order that their husband could seize control. The youngest daughter, Maella, appears almost as heartbroken as her father and agrees that both sisters could be responsible but admits in private that Blejan has never liked her new husband’s love of hunting.

None the wiser as to the cause of the dog’s poisoner, save that it must have happened during the wedding feast, the investigators move onto question the occupants of Aedan and Nuallan’s house. Aelfric, deciding that a forceful police presence is required muscles his way into the house almost causing the occupying warriors to divert their pent up aggression on himself and his fellow lawmen. Aelfric discovers from Aedan that Brennus, the husband of Fedelmid, the middle daughter, was seen sneaking out with a plate of meat during the wedding banquet. Alvi and Brega question Nuallan and are also led to believe that the fault may lie with this couple. At this point a shout goes up and Aelfric is forced to intervene between two warriors about to attack a goat-herder out to care for his flock. Returning the goat-herder to safety Aelfric discovers that both of the two elder daughters and their husbands could have been stirring up trouble at the wedding.

The tyro detectives move on to the third house where Brennus and Fedelmid along with relatives who have taken their side in the argument have barricaded themselves. Brennus makes no bones to Aelfric about how Aedan throws his weight about the hold as if he were lord. When questioned about the meat he explains that he has a soft spot for his dogs and often feeds them tidbits from the table. Under questioning from Brega, Fedelmid waspishly complains about her treatment at her elder sister’s hands and how the new wife, Blejan, is an arch manipulator who surely should be considered as the culprit.

During this time, a small altercation breaks out when some of the younger members of the family break out into the square. With much bravado, both sides face each other off, more bravado than intent until one strikes out at an opponent and in error strikes another. The Shirriffs are quickly on the scene. Alvi charming the main protagonist to sleep with her sweet music and Aelfric and Brega separating the remaining foes. Alvi again employs her smooth tongue to convince the warring youths to return back to their halls.

Faced with a range of opinions but very little evidence the three shirriffs examine the kennel where the hound was kept. Discovery of a poisonous blue flower amongst the straw bedding leads the three to question the master of the hounds. He reveals that he is the one who collects the bedding for the dogs and that he changed the bedding in the kennel. Further careful investigation reveals that the servant did not understand the nature of the flowers and that this was all a terrible mistake.

Gathering the reluctant principals back in the main hall the deputy shirriffs explain their findings and forcefully point out that any misdemeanours between family members will be dealt with severely. Satisfied that the situation is resolved Alvi, Aelfric and Brega return to Wibblesham

Food

In the cool autumn air, Brega walked towards the Midnight Rooster, the only lodgings in the small town of Wibblesham. Her dark robe was muddy from six months of wandering. Weighed down by her pack and pans, she leaned on her intricately carved staff and paused taking in the mix of overground houses and round doors set into the hillside.

As she neared the inn, her thoughtful hazel eyes noticed a familiar figure stood with an unknown companion on the wooden boards that kept customer’s feet dry when entering the Midnight Rooster. Hailing Aelfric, whom she had grown up in the same village with before they had both been forced on the road half a year ago, she quickened her pace to the door. Soon Aelfric had introduced Brega to his companion who he had travelled with from Tharbad. Alvi, a red-headed bard, was one of those women who made a room light up when she entered. So it was not long before the three sat with a the remains of a supper before them; Brega and Alvi swapping stories; Alvi playing a quiet tune to entertain the tavern’s other patrons.

Come the morning, the three are sat breaking fast together when they are approached by a hobbit wearing a blue goose feather in her hat. She introduces herself as Shirriff Mally Nation. She has been granted leave by the village moot to recruit additional shirriffs to help with shepherding of refugees to safe areas. The village of Wibbleham is not rich but can cover the cost of board and food while they are shirriffs. Seeing a chance to save coin and have a place to rest for a while they work, the adventurers agree.

The first task is to escort a group of refugees to a safe ravine because Shirriff Mally believes that there is a risk of Corn-skin fever, a deadly disease, amongst the refugees. Guiding the emaciated refugees along the road to the new campsite, the party notice one particularly healthy Dunlending. He protests vociferously about the treatment of his people and they are being prevented from moving on. However, Alvi talks eloquently to the unhappy, hungry and weary people about how they are going to be looked after if they follow to the camp and without fuss they refugees move to the prepared quarantine campsite in a narrow ravine.

The adventurers are tasked with guarding the refugees and bringing food to the camp. Brega uses her skill in cooking to create warm hearty food for the refugees and earns favour with the refugees. Still, there is the odd attempt by one or two refugees to escape and find extra food or perhaps somewhere else to live in peace. None get far and Aelfric proves himself to be a capable athlete in chasing down the errant refugees.

Whilst resting in the Midnight Rooster the adventurers hear of talk from some of the local farmers of the theft of livestock. Mally not having spare shirriffs to dispatch to investigate sends Alvi, Brega and Aelfric. At each farm, the tale is the same: they believe that the refugees have taken the lamb or calf that has been stolen. Yet at one farm a clue is discovered, young Semmi Midtoe looks uncomfortable when his family are questioned about the missing lamb. Alvi and Aelfric eventually manage to win his trust and he reveals that it was his pet lamb that was stolen by Betwin Proudfoot. Which is strange because Betwin was buried yesterday.

Confused but unconvinced by the youngster’s description of the deceased hobbit stealing a lamb, the party return to the Midnight Rooster for the night. During the evening, an irate hobbit, Marco Chubb, interrupts their rest demanding that the shirriffs investigate the cruel practical joke that had been played on his daughter Daisy. He tells of how some cruel prankster, pretended to be the recently departed uncle Clarfew and leered through the window at poor young Daisy, quite distressing the hobbitling. Initially, the recently conscripted shirriffs are unwilling to investigate immediately yet after much pleading they eventually agree.

At the Chubb farm, Aelfric finds signs of an intruder but the party are unable to track the intruder. However, they discover that Grandmother Minna has also seen her son playing with the family cat that day. She is most distressed that no-one had told her of Clarfew’s death. This and the presence of the remains of said family cat cause the shirriffs to question the Chubb family further. In doing so they discover that Uncle Clarfew had in fact been secretly trading with the refugee camp and had also contracted corn skin fever. Faced with two recently departed hobbits, the shirriffs soon discover that two more “associates” of Clarfew had recently died and been buried quickly in the village graveyard. With this new information, the deputy shirriffs set off for the graveyard.

In the dark it proves hard to find more than four graves with recently disturbed earth; returning at first light the investigators find a trail leading from the graves into the wood. In the depths of the woods in a small dell Brega, Alvi, Alefric and Mally discover the source of the livestock losses in the form of four hobbit ghouls. Trapping them in the hidden lair it is only a matter of time before Aelfric Smithson with the aid of Alvi Craigsdottir have dispatched the evil but ineffectual undead. Thinking about the refugee camp it becomes clear to Brega that Firdok, the rather healthy and vocal refugee, may also be infected with the corn skin sickness. She explains this to her companions and they plan to capture Firdok without causing risk to the remain refugees.

With a cauldron of stew, the shirriffs return to the camp and without causing alarm to manage to convince Firdok through Alvi’s clever words to come with them to see the new site of the refugees’ village. Before Firdok has time to realise the deception, Aelfric strikes him from behind stuns him to the floor. Fearing that Firdok may recover quickly, Alvi plays her flute and causes Firdok to fall into a deep sleep. Soon Firdok is bound and secured in the village gaol. The town mayor and Shirriff Mally are extremely grateful to the adventurers and promise to hold a trial to determine what to do with Firdok, who is clearly a ghoul but equally has continued to try and support his family and tribe of refugees.

Just a postscript on this adventurer log. This was the first game my family had chosen to play and that in itself was a strange experience given that previously they had shown no desire to play when invited. The start was rather awkward as it often is with new players trying to get over the self-consciousness of playing for the first time. However, I also had to deal with the scepticism of “this won’t be fun and will be weird” and it also being my wife and kids at the table, who it must be said found it tricky to deal with the change in roles and dynamics (as did I). Eventually, once we had got past the embarrassment and also the realisation that it was up to them as players to direct the story, it turned into quite a good game. I am not sure how often they will play or if they will join the main campaign, but at least they enjoyed it and we didn’t end up with one big argument.