Conspiracy in the Mists

Joel P. Shempert adapted to fit 1640s and ICE canon modules

Summary

In the bustling Arthedain town of Bree, waypoint at the crossing of the North’s Great Roads, the mood is restless on this misty November night. The rumours tell of a meeting between the remaining Princes of Cardolan and Argeleb II of Arthedain at the ruins of Amon Sul. Tension is high and blood runs hot, for in less than a week emissaries will arrive at Amon Sûl to meet with King Argeleb II of Arthedain to negotiate a peace between the feuding neighbours. And nowhere does the apprehension boil over more than at the King’s Rest Inn, chief inn of Bree and welcome refuge for travellers of all sorts, where patrons now gather in the Common Room to hear the news and air concerns and engage in a grim camaraderie in anticipation of the coming day.

Plot points/Scenes

Scene 1: At the Sign of the Soaring Stallion
Scene 2: Pursuit of Phantoms
Scene 3: Treachery Laid Bare
Scene 4: Flight and Warning

Themes

Mist fog and confusion

Structure

Exposition

Scene 1: At the King’s Rest Inn

It is the year 1647 of the Third Age. The once-proud Northern Realm of Arnor has long since fractured; warring Princes; Angmar and The Great Plague have reduced the Northern Kingdom to an embattled Arthedain and the distant Tharbad. The Western flank of Arthedain is protected in part by the presence of the Elves of Lindon yet is still a wild and unpatrolled land. To the east, the remains of Rhudaur are ruled by Hillman who trace their ancestry to long-forgotten Dunedain nobility. In an attempt to foster support for his realm, Argeleb II has opened up communications with the remaining Princes of Cardolan , the Canotar of Tharbad and the King Lanaigh of Saralainn. However, Rhudaur remains hostile and has exhibited much unrest of late, which is suspected to be in part the work of the Dread Realm of Angmar in the North. Does its mysterious Witch-King stretch forth His icy hand to seize and crush the remnants of Isildur’s realm of old? What is the nature of this dread and shadowy Lord? In the bustling Arthedain town of Bree, waypoint at the crossing of the North’s Great Roads, the mood is restless on this misty November night. Tension is high and blood runs hot, for in less than a week emissaries will arrive at Amon Sûl to meet with King Argeleb II of Arthedain to negotiate support and desperately needed supply lines. And nowhere does the apprehension boil over than at the King’s Rest, chief inn of Bree and welcome refuge for travellers of all sorts, where patrons now gather in the Common Room to hear the news and air concerns and engage in a grim camaraderie in anticipation of the coming day. Of course Ham and Cora Rushy- the current Innkeepers- along with the maids, cooks and grooms are busy keeping up with the increased demand. The ornately carved and vividly painted sign of the King’s Rest depicts the King mounted upon a white charger. Firelight beckons its windows, and within its expansive Common Room a diverse array of folk sit or stand, drinking, smoking, and conversing in groups of three or four. Different folk tend to keep to their kind, and across the room can be seen clumps of tall, proud Arthedain, fair but haggard Cardolani, and even, huddled secretively in a corner, a small cluster of dour, swarthy Rhudaurim, as well as a furtive band of Hobbit-folk and the odd pair of Dwarvish traders. The conversation tends toward the impending future of the realms, and the veneer of amiability throughout the inn is a brittle one. Only one spot in the room seems to emanate an air of mirth: the fireside, where a wandering storyteller weaves a tale with art and aplomb. Attending to him are several workmen of Bree, as well as a tall, burly traveller with a hooded and withdrawn youth in tow. Narrator’s note: This scene is designed to facilitate the meeting of a disparate group of Player Characters, and can be handled with varying degrees of detail. The players can all be simply “placed” in the Common Room to save time, or their individual entrances can be played out, at the Narrator’s discretion. There is room for all races in the scene. Elves will have the hardest time justifying their presence at a rough and rowdy inn, but various stories can be concocted. An emissary or spy from Rivendell would be most likely. The burly traveller and hooded youth are in fact a Royal Guardsman of Arthedain (and sworn protector of the Prince Arveleg II), and young Prince Arvegil himself, respectively. They are traveling incognito. The Prince has journeyed here from Fornost Erain, the Capital, with his Grandfather, King Argeleb II, on their way to Amon Sûl for the conference. The King and his retinue are staying elsewhere, but Arvegil insisted on seeing the gritty, peasant side of life and coerced his Liege Protector to sneak out into the town with him, whereupon they found themselves here. The Prince is delighted and fascinated with the seedier side, but he is experiencing a bit of culture shock and so is withdrawn. The Guard, for his part, is keenly aware of all the doings around him, and grimly concerned for the safety of his charge. Whatever roles the Players have designed for their characters, they all wind up at the King’s Rest Inn on this gloomy evening for whatever reason. Most likely they are all simply travellers seeking refuge, but more specific goals can be crafted by players. The welcome firelight of the Common Room beckons even the most reclusive of travellers. Galboron is telling the tale of coming of Elendil and his sons out of the Wreck of Numenor, and the founding of the Twin Kingdoms in Middle Earth. The Narrator can gloss over this or go into descriptive detail if he/she likes. Several patrons (particularly those who have no taste for the idle debate and gossip of the others) are drawn to Gaboron’s vivid retelling. He appears to be caught up in weaving his tale, but the careful observer (Per -20) may notice that he keeps a keen watch on the Rhudaurim. The rest of the room is embroiled in grim argument kept simmering just below the boiling point by One-Arm Harry’s gruff moderation. (He receives a +15 modifier to his Persuade test against fellow Arthedain, and -15 vs. the Rhudaurim. He doesn’t actually change anyone’s mind, but he does defuse hostilities and encourage fairness in the debate.) There are few who are optimistic about the coming summit, and those few are mostly Arthedain; none of them is Rhudaurim. For the rest, opinions vary, but each nationality generally feels that they will be slighted in the negotiations: Arthedain forced to concede too much power to the ungrateful “Rebel Provinces,” Cardolan’s concerns ignored, Rhudaur further dominated by tyrannical Arthedain, etc. The Rhudaurim are obviously the most bitter, and mostly commiserate amongst themselves, but will occasionally interject angrily at some claim made by another, forcing Harry to step in. The Cardolani are not openly hostile or contentious, just rather pessimistic, and the Arthedain simply can’t understand why the others baulk at the magnanimity of King Argeleb II. As the evening wears on, another Rhudaurim man enters the Common Room and sits down with his fellows. Shortly thereafter, in response to a hotly contested claim by one of the locals, he gets up and stalks back out to the Inn-yard, seemingly in disgust. The others retire soon after to their room and emerge about fifteen minutes later bearing large, soft bundles. This sparks some curiosity, and the Rhudaurim, according to their cover as traders, claim they contain assorted furs and woodworks for sale in the market. Some of the locals in the common room ask to see their wares, but the Rhudaurim respond hotly that they’ll just have to wait until tomorrow in the Market Square and leave abruptly. Galboron, having just finished his tale (and received accolades from those nearby), gathers his travel pack and leaves a few moments later. The Rhudaurim are actually preparing to leave town, and the first one left the inn to prepare their horses, while the rest gathered the uniforms acquired from the Arthedain garrison (this, of course, comprises the contents of their bundles). If any PCs are curious and investigate themselves, they will hear sounds of a struggle coming from the stables. Inside they will find Galboron grappling with the Rhudaurim, holding his own despite their superior numbers. At last a knife flashes, Galboron is cut, then thrown down, and the Rhudaurim mount their ready horses and fly out into the night. The players will probably have to dodge the galloping horses as they barrel out the stable door (Per -30 followed by save roll or 45MBa to avoid being mown down) will reveal a bit of cloth in the colours of Arthedain poking out of one the bundles, where Galboron pulled it open earlier. If no-one investigates when the Rhudaurim leave the common room, the players might notice the sound of horses in flight (Per -30 for the noise in the Inn), but otherwise the first anyone will hear of the fight will be a stable-boy rushing in ten minutes later, claiming there is a wounded man in the stables. Harry and Ham will investigate, along with presumably the players. Belegil will move protectively in front of the boy, but after some whispered cajoling from Arveleg II, he will move cautiously to the door with the prince in tow. He will keep back from the others, however, and advance cautiously on the scene. They will all find Galboron lying stabbed in the straw. “The Men of Rhudaur are schemers and villains,” he gasps. “I have overheard them many times this night alluding to their plot when they thought no ears were near; now I have caught them in the act of departing Bree on their evil errand. We must move swiftly in pursuit to prevent it!” When questioned, Galboron will elaborate that he heard talk of assassination, and relate how he tore open one of their bundles to see the livery of Arthedain inside. He will say that from the sound the Rhudaurim were fleeing North. Belegil and Arveleg II will enter as Galboron is explaining, and at some point, probably on hearing of assassination, Arvegil will forget himself and rush past his protector to Galboron’s side, exclaiming, “What is this plot you speak of? Is this a threat to the Crown of Arthedain? You must tell me!” At this Belegil will be dismayed, and start to concoct some excuse for his charge’s behaviour, but Arvegil stops him. “No, my protector, the time for disguise is passed. This is too great a matter. Good people and subjects,” he says pulling back his hood and standing full and tall in the nobility of bearing already emerging in his fourteenth year, “I am Arveleg , grandson of Argeleb II the King, and Crown Prince of this land. If I understand this man aright, the Crown needs your aid to prevent a great evil.” At this, all present are amazed, save Galboron who has a knowing look in his eyes. Belegil will grudgingly concede the truth of this, but insist that others can pursue the conspirators; Arvegil must get to safety and his Father warned. Araphor will insist that there is no time, Galboron will agree, adding that there is much that is still not known of the plot, and many disasters may be wrought if the Rhudaurim are allowed to escape. He will be cut off as he winces in the pain of his wound, prompting the players (or, failing that, Harry) to rush to him to inspect it. How seriously he is wounded depends on the needs of the Narrator; if Galboron is required to accompany the players and provide guidance and exposition, then it is only a scratch which once bound does not seriously hinder him. If, however, the Narrator feels the players are fine on their own, then it is serious and deep, and requires rest and tending. He will still insist on continuing on, but he is in no condition to move and Harry’s good sense will prevail; he and the stable-boy will carry him to a vacant room at ground level, and have Cora dress his wound. 
 Plans are hurriedly discussed. Harry is a loyal Arthedain patriot and will gladly loan out horses if any players need mounts. Belegil and Galboron have their own; Arvegil will ride with Belegil, at the latter’s insistence. A message can be sent to Arvegil’s father if anyone thinks to do so (or the Narrator can prompt it Arvegil can write and seal it, and Harry will dispatch the stableboy to deliver it. The party should depart as quickly as possible; the longer the delay the greater the head start of their quarry. 

There is no way that the players will overtake the riders within the town. Another group of conspirators has caused a disturbance near the North Gate to draw off the Watch, and there remains only one guard easily overcome (but not killed). The Rhudaurim will have anywhere from a half hour to an hour’s head start once the players reach the gate. The guard, if questioned, will say that after he was flung aside and the gate opened, he saw them gallop off to the northwest. Of course, if the Prince and Guard are player-controlled, the above events may play out very differently, but the result should be very much the same. And with that, the chase spills out into the open country, in a gloomy night under a fell moon.

Conflict

Scene 2: Pursuit of Phantoms

The still night belies the urgency of the lonely band’s errand, and neither the swirling mists clinging to the horses’ flanks nor the full and ominous moon shining in a clear sky bring any cheer or hope to the heroes as they pursue their quarry across the flat and sparsely covered lands. Much speed will be needed to close the gap between them and their enemies before they reach the border of Rhudaur. Once outside the town, the Rhudaurim are subject to a Mist of Speed spell cast by the Dark Mage of Rhudaur from a camp atop the Weather Hills. It should be impossible to overtake them, though the players can easily follow their trail (Track +10), even by night, with a full, ominous moon overhead. The mage has provided 12 hours of such speed, but this should be more than enough to give them a substantial lead. As per the spell, players who can see the Rhudaurim party will see only an impenetrable could of mist, and hear no hoofbeats. Do not call attention to this, however; instead rely on subtlety and flavourful description to thrown off suspicion: call attention to the swirling evening mists which float about the horses’ feet, leaving the Rhudaurim tracks barely visible beneath; describe how the fog persists even in morning, and mention that though the tracks seem fresh, they can see nothing through the mist ahead, and hear no sound of hooves. In fact, there is a natural fog covering the lowlands, and the spell’s mist merely blends in with it. This scene should be relatively uneventful, as the PCs follow the trail in the soft ground and struggle in vain to overtake the Rhudaurim. The path taken runs North-West from Bree, leaving the North Road about five miles out and skirting the Chetwood, then heading straight across open country for the Weather Hills. The rugged rocks reach up beyond the swirling fog, bare and forbidding, about 60 miles from Bree. When within 20 miles or so, the heroes will be able to see the hill of Amon Sûl with its guard tower, standing apart from the rest away to the south. The PCs should be able to reach the Hills late on their second day of riding, assuming they maintain a speed (x2) while still stopping to rest regularly. They can drive the horses harder, but risk slowing the chase down if they tire their mounts. (If Running, make a Weariness Test about four times a day. If a mount reaches the Tired level, the party can only proceed at Trotting pace until they rest enough to recover. If they reach the Weary level, they can only Walk. Below that, they must stop until the horses have recovered at least to Winded. ) Eventually, the tracks lead to a sheltered pass in the Weather Hills. It is hidden by greenery and surrounding rock and is little more than a narrow crack in the rocky hills, a fissure just wide enough to walk two by two. It is located at a gap in the fortifications built into the Hills by Arthedain and thus provides an unobtrusive point for Rhudaurim agents to slip in and out of the country. In their haste, however, these agents have made little effort to conceal their trail, and the pass is easily discovered by the players. In the pass, going is slow; it will probably take a full day to pick their way across it. Of course, this also applies to the Rhudaurim, but they should be well ahead by now. Again, a pretty uneventful trip, but the atmosphere can still be played up, as the mist licks at the craggy edges of the ravine. Upon reaching the end of the pass towards the end of the day, the players will encounter all but one of Rhudaurim conspirators lying in ambush. They are concealed behind rocky outcroppings on either side of the mouth of the pass and will fall upon the heroes as soon as they leave the crevice if they are not detected first (Per -10). There should be enough to provide resistance but easily be overcome. This should just be a warm-up battle, designed to slow the players down while lone remaining Rhudaurim continues on their errand, his horse bearing the bundles of stolen uniforms. If their ambush starts to turn to rout, the remaining Rhudaurim will break and flee. After this battle, the PCs can continue in pursuit of the last conspirator. This is the same Rhudaurim who prepared the horses back at the Inn, and is the mastermind of this particular band, though not of the entire plot. He is still riding in great haste, careless of concealment, and his trail runs along the base of the Weather Hills in a Southerly direction. The fog still persists in the day or so it takes to follow but does not conceal overmuch. When at last the heroes catch up with the villain near the Southern tip of the Weather Hills (a mere handful of miles from the Tower of Amon Sûl), they are confronted with a shocking scene.

Rising Action

Scene 3: Treachery Laid Bare

 Riding slowly over rocky ground through the ever-thickening fog, the pursuing heroes are startled by voices piercing through the veil. The speakers cannot be seen, but their words echo in the still air, and one can be discerned as Mannish, speaking the tongue in the harsh accent of Rhudaur, while the other is the guttural voice of a thing inhuman, and though it also uses the tongue of Westron, it twists and mars the words in its very utterance. The PCs will hear the voices long before they can see the speakers or be seen by them. There is ample cover in the surrounding rocky outcroppings for the PCs to hide and listen; the sound of the mystery voices’ quarrelling is enough to cover the approach of the heroes’ mounts. The Rhudaurim voice declares, “If your kind don’t have the stomach for this kind of work, you’d best slink away to your dirty holes right now, for we’ve no use for you!” The second voice, which PCs with appropriate experience—or Galboron, if present—may recognise as Orcish, replies, “You just shut your filthy gob with that talk, man-rat! A little word or two more, and perhaps you’ll see just what we’ve stomach for. But my Lord Ghashthrak has no will to serve as meat for the slippery plans of treacherous man-folk. How do we know you do not send us to our death that you may pick the bones? Treachery and trickery! Skai!” “Lord?” retorts the Man of Rhudaur. “What is this Ghashthrak but a pillager of towns and a burner of huts, with a straggling band of Goblin-folk that prey on the weak and slow? Your precious Lord would do well to remember that it is to his benefit that we allow you lot your part in this plan.” There is a snarl of rage and the sound of a jagged blade drawing from a rough sheath with a rasping scrape. “Dung-eater! I’ll feed you the tongue that spits those words!” There is another drawing sound, one of bright steel. There is a sword-stroke, and a hideous scream, followed by an instant of awful quiet. The mist begins to thin and the outline can be seen of a tall man standing over a crumpled form. The silence is soon broken as more inhuman voices, a handful or more, howl in anger. “Enough!” bellows the Rhudaurim. “I know your kind and what persuasion they heed—the next to so much as twitch or gibber meets the same fate! Now be still and await your part, and when your Great Ghashthrak arrives with his full band, you shall have it in full: plunder and battle to satisfy all!” This is met by enthusiastic roars. Another Rhudaurim voice interjects and may be recognised (Per 0, if the players managed to hear him speak earlier) as the voice of their quarry. Indeed, his silhouette, as well as that of four or five others, can be seen standing behind the tall man as the mist continues to disperse, and opposite are a half-dozen or more Orcish shapes. The voice speaks thus: “Sir, may I remind you of the prize I’ve brought; it must be secured and put to use or our plot is all for naught, and the lives of my fellows and I risked in vain.” The other turns to him sharply, and snaps, “Yes, yes, did you think I’d forgotten? When the warband of these Orc-folk attack Bree and it’s outlying settlements, it will be simplicity for a handful of men in the livery of Arthedain to attack and slay the arriving emissary from Cardolan. Perhaps then will our rulers rise up and fulfil the destiny of the Eastland, for it’s certain those sleeping fools take no care for our nation now!” This meets with cheers from the assembled Rhudaurim. The leader, however, soon stills them with a gesture and wheels about. “And some who claim to be spies and footpads would also do well to take greater care! We are discovered!” He points out toward the PCs’ place of concealment, as the mist further parts to fully reveal the features of Man and Orc. The leader is a tall and commanding man, dark and unpleasant as many of Rhudaur, yet with an air somewhat of nobility upon his brow. He is not dressed as a soldier of Rhudaur; indeed, all he and his companions are arrayed as common travellers and bear simple arms but no armour of war. The spy from Bree’s horse stands in their midst, his reins in the hand of his rider. The Orcs are a ramshackle band of plunderers, with rough and sawtoothed blades, and cobbled together armour. All present react swiftly to the revelation of the heroes. The Orcs to attack with bloodlust and vigour, and the Rhudaurim to take the horse with its bundles and flee. The Rhudaurim leader may stand his ground under the right circumstances and will turn and fight if overtaken, but for the most part, he will exercise prudence and leave the Orcs to deal with the interlopers. The Orcs should be of a level and number that will provide enough challenge but prevent the PCs from pursuing the Rhudaurim. They will fight ferociously but may flee as the tide turns. The fog has thinned and offers no hindrance to close combat, but may still cause difficulty for ranged combat, at distances of 15 or more (OB -30), shooting becoming impossible at over 30 feet (-50). Soon after the battle is done, with just enough time to assess the wounded and gather themselves but not enough time for any real activity, the mist closes in thick upon the heroes, so that they may see their hands in front of their face and their comrades standing nearby, but little more. The land seems to grow suddenly silent. This time, the mist is the work of a Fog-Raising and Fog-Weaving spell, cast by the mysterious sorcerer high up in a crag upon the Weather Hills (the identity of the mysterious figure should not be discovered). As the players huddle together and attempt to see out into the gloom, a sense of dread descends upon them, shaking their inmost being (RR vs Fear lvl 17). Despair grips their hearts, as of some Sorcery worked unseen. Is it a mere fancy, a product of the night’s gloom? Or is it an agent of Dread Angmar, or the Witch-King himself? Are the rumours of Angmar’s claw grasping the heart of Rhudaur true? All such questions add to the growing fear and despair.

Climax

Scene 4: Flight and Warning

The heroes have not long to brood on such thoughts, as first one, then another, then a score of lupine faces emerge from the enveloping fog—Wargs! From their terrible muzzles issue low snarls, and in the cunning intellect of their eyes broods deep malice. From the centre strides a particularly massive wolf, astride which is an imposing Orc, brawny of frame and cruel of face, and adorned with a necklace of the flame-scorched skulls of man, woman and child. “Ghashthrak,” whispers Belegil, for this fell reaver is long known as a ravager of the North. Flanking him are a handful of Orc warriors, also riding Wargs. The whole host slowly advances, the beasts on the edges circling around to flank the fear-stricken band. It should be obvious to the players at this point that they must flee. Indeed, depending on the outcome of the Fear spell, some of them may be Unmanned and running already (make sure they at least get a good look at the Warg pack, however). The only safety is in nearby Amon Sûl, and this is the only direction left open for retreat. The PCs will have to act quickly to avoid being surrounded. Also, the Watchtower is the best place to bring warning of the Rhudaurim plot. It’s a straight chase scene from here. The Wargs in hot pursuit, the PCs fly for the safety of the border tower, ideally with white knuckles around the gaming table. The unnatural fog quickly dissipates, and the Shadow of Fear itself departs as the Dark Mage goes his way; however, the actual fear shouldn’t leave the PCs’ hearts! Never let it seem like the Wargs are just “there;” keep them an ever-present threat, growling, nipping at heels, sometimes overtaking a steed to run alongside it for space before the horse once more pulls ahead. The war cries (and perhaps a bowshot or two) of the Orcs can help as well. It’s a ten-mile ride to the hill of Amon Sûl; hopefully, the heroes have kept their horses fairly rested. If they run into trouble, several options are available: fudge the rolls, shorten the trip (are the players really counting mileposts anyway?), or bring in the Cavalry—a band of mounted Bow- or Spear-men of Arthedain intercept the chase, and drive away the bulk of the Wargs (and riders). These are a company dispatched by King Argeleb II (one of several) to search for his grandson (this is only if a message was sent earlier; otherwise they will be searching the wrong area). If the Narrator can help it, though, he/she should allow the pursuit to last right up to the very slopes of Amon Sûl. There, archers from the well-defended walls can repel the Wargs as the heroes race along the winding path up to the waiting gate. Realising that their quarry is beyond their reach, the Wargs and riders will break off and make once more for the hills. Riders are dispatched, and some stragglers are overtaken, but Ghashthak himself should escape if possible.  Once safely inside the tower, the PCs enjoy a simple denouement process and can rest from their labours. King Argleb II is extremely grateful to those who aided his grandson (and helped avert a great threat to the Realm). He may convey rewards or special status on PCs. He is overcome with mingled love and exasperation toward Arveleg II, but cannot remain angry with him for long. He holds Belegil blameless in the matter and is indeed grateful for the Guardsman’s able protection of the Prince (this is, of course, assuming he did succeed in protecting him!). As for the plot, with their plans thus discovered and the Orc-band routed, the attack of the Rhudaurim dissidents is aborted, and the still-living conspirators are still at large. The emissaries arrive unmolested and express polite gratitude for the PCs efforts on their behalf, though they are slow to believe the full tale. Indeed, they half suspect some scheme of Arthedain to pacify them without addressing their grievances, and will not be so easily put off. Talks begin, threatening to last many long days without final agreement or compromise. King Argeleb II is disturbed by the penetration of Orcs so far into the lands of Men, and by the whisper of Sorcery arriving with the tidings of the heroes, but those questions are left for another day. re-dispatched and some stragglers are overtaken, but Ghashthak himself should escape if possible.

Resolution

Once safely inside the tower, the PCs enjoy a simple denoument process and can rest from their labours. King Argleb II is extremely grateful to those who aided his grandson (and helped avert a great threat to the Realm). He may convey rewards or special status on PCs. He is overcome with mingled love and exasperation toward Araphor, but cannot remain angry with him for long. He holds Belegil blameless in the matter and is indeed grateful for the Guardsman’s able protection of the Prince (this is, of course, assuming he did succeed in protecting him!). As for the plot, with their plans thus discovered and the Orc-band routed, the attack of the Rhudaurim dissidents is aborted, and the still-living conspirators are still at large. The Rhudaurim emissary arrives unmolested and expresses polite gratitude for the PCs efforts on his behalf, though he is slow to believe the full tale. Indeed, he half suspects some scheme of Arthedain to pacify him without addressing his grievances, and will not be so easily put off. The Cardolani emissaries also arrive and talks begin, threatening to last many long days without final agreement or compromise. King Argeleb II is disturbed by the penetration of Orcs so far into the lands of Men, and by the whisper of Sorcery arriving with the tidings of the heroes, but those questions are left for another day.

Components

Goals

Scene 1: Making friends with the disguised Prince (if Narrator-controlled): 20 Discovering something about the Prince’s true identity: 30 Personally investigating the Rhudaurim’s activity in the stables: 50 Taking the initiative in planning the pursuit: 50 Having the forethought to send a message to Araphor’s father: 30 Questioning the Guard at the North Gate: 20 Scene 2: Maintaining swift pursuit without over-tiring the horses: 30 for all who do so Scene 3: Successfully hiding and hearing of the Rhudaurim plot: 30 each Scene 4: Successfully fleeing without leaving a companion behind: 30 each, bonus 50 for anyone who actually rescues a companion Making it all the way to the gates of Amon Sûl without help

Stakes

Safety of a nation

Relations

Allies

Arveleg (in future the II king of the line of Isildur)

 Description: 14-year-old Dunadan, slight but energetic, black hair and green eyes flashing with enthusiasm and wonder. His noble bearing tends to show through even when he tries to hide it. He is eager to learn and experience new things, but far from sure of himself yet. Arveleg is a young man on whom rests the burden of future kingship, and though he respects that duty, he wants to taste life first and find excitement and adventure. He also lacks confidence and suspects rulership of the struggling realm is beyond his ability. He loves his father and is loved in return, but he also exasperates the King with his impulsive and reckless (but not capricious) rebellion. He is also prone to burst of anger and frustration. In the King’s Rest, he has found his closest brush yet with the darker, poorer side of life (even than neighbourhoods of Fornost that he has explored are relatively aristocratic), and he is quiet and withdrawn but keenly aware, taking it all in with relish. He is particularly fascinated with the storyteller’s animated tale. Arvegil possesses an ornate shortsword, which is stowed in the stables.  

Belegil

Royal Guardsman S. “Mighty Star” Description: 35-year-old Dunadan, broad-shouldered and well-muscled, stoic of face with short-cropped hair. He is taciturn and pensive, liking not the danger that his young charge incurs by mixing with the common folk. His wary eyes continually (though unobtrusively) scan the room alert for anything that might threaten the boy. He wears a simple hooded travelling cloak and rugged wilderness gear, obtained from a local trader for the night’s disguise. Belegil is the scion of a humble but well-off family of the middle class of Fornost. He has excelled in his career as a soldier of Arthedain, though he has seen little combat, as the Northern Lands have enjoyed an uneasy peace for a generation or so. Since the renewed unrest of Rhudaur, he has experienced a handful of border skirmishes, in which he distinguished himself enough to merit his place in the Royal Guard as the sworn protector of the Royal Family, and in particular its Prince. He takes this duty very seriously, though he is somewhat awed by nobility and easily swayed by Araphor’s impetuous will, as evidenced by their presence here tonight. He has great apprehension about these circumstances and knows there is little he can do, unarmed and unaided, to ensure his charge’s safety if things should go awry. He has a sword, but it is stowed with his horse’s gear out at the stables, so as not to attract attention. 

Galboron

S. “Enduring Brightness” Description: 37-year-old Dunadan, tall, fit and vigorous. He is square-jawed and masculine, yet fair of face and his eyes are gentle. Unruly curls of dark hair fall frequently over his eyes, and a finely wrought embroidered cloak drapes over his shoulders, rippling and flourishing as he performs. Galboron is a travelling storyteller and songsmith who roams the countryside of Eriador buying hospitality for a tale or song. He has somewhat of the regal bearing of Numenor and is no doubt of Noble blood, but he himself is unaware of his exact ancestry and enjoys none of the advantages of the Nobility of the land. He prefers it that way and is in no hurry to uncover his heritage, instead of roaming the land freely and answering to no master. He is at home in the wild as much as at Hearthside, and though he serves no one directly, he often keeps watch on the doings of Arthedain’s enemies, doing his part to preserve the peace and safety of its borders. He bears a long hunting-knife and has a short bow and quiver stowed with his horse’s gear.

Neutrals/Bystanders

Cora and Ham Rushy the innkeepers and their staff

Ham bustles around the common room and parlour chatting with the locals and travellers alike. He is short 5’9” with sandy hair and sparkling hazel eyes. He is dressed simply but always clean and well presented. He is most proud of his establishment, especially since Argeleb II stayed in the inn during his tour of the kingdom during 1634. Ham will regale his customers with information about the quality of the food and drink which they consume. He knows each of his suppliers by name collecting much of it with his wife by cart each week. What most strikes you about Ham though is that he is always interested in you. If you are not comfortable, well then Ham will see to it that you are. With care and consideration, he will enquire after your well being and those close to you. Drawing out your origin and destination as a way to provide you with the best support for your onward journey (Public Speaking/Influence +90). This information, of course, means that Ham is always well informed, and of course gives him great gravitas when arguments break out between locals. ‘Ask Ham’ is the usual way the locals settle disputes. A short (5’4”) woman with dark hair and brown eyes stares at the newcomers with a gimlet eye. Satisfied that the latest arrivals look able to pay their debts she returns through the kitchen doors shouting orders. Cora confines herself mostly to the kitchen, scrupulously supervising the preparation of all the foods served. She also handles the finances, seeing to it each traveller pays his bill of fare. She is cautious about who she takes in; if a traveller looks very impecunious, the will tactfully suggest that he spend the night in the common room or not unreasonably demand that he show some proof of his ability to pay. Dwarves, she claims, are the most reliable customers. There are currently three maids and a stable boy employed at the King’s Rest. Normally, there would only be two maids, but with all the extra travellers Cora and Ham have had to employ Holly Heathertoes to keep up with the demand. The result of this has been the regular visitation of Meneldir the Captain of the town guard. 

Harford

Known affectionately as “One-Arm Harry,” is a former soldier of Arthedain, and veteran of many border skirmishes. When one such conflict took his left arm, he retired from service and took over managing the stables from his ailing father. He is known as a gruff but fair man and is loved and respected by all in Bree. His influence may carry even more weight than Bree’s Mayor, though Harry, for the most part, shuns such use of his clout. Despite his wishes, though, he frequently finds himself the unofficial arbiter of town disputes.

Adversaries

Rhudaurim/Dunlendings tradesmen

The conspirators are men of mixed Dunlending and Dunedain blood of Rhudaur. All in their early thirties, relatively dark-complexioned, with shaggy manes of black hair and in some cases black beards to match. Their garb is rough but sturdy, being mostly animal hide. In comparison to their Arthedain and Cardolan neighbours, they’re not quite savages, but they’re definitely a bit uncouth. The blood of Numenor has not entirely departed from these folk, but with the influx of Hillmen over the last century, it has definitely thinned more than in the other two lands. Three or four grim Rhudauran Men sit in a corner booth, keeping mostly to themselves and commiserating over their ales, speaking sceptically of Cardolan’s chances of gaining anything in the coming summit. They talk of the wealth of the hills of Rhudaur and how a wise King would look to make an alliance with the remaining princes of Rhudaur. The other patrons may shoot them an unfriendly look or two, but they are mostly left alone. The Rhudaurans themselves may occasionally offer an incendiary comment in response to the general discussion, but Harry or Ham will then interject with a gruff, conciliatory caveat to de-escalate the situation. These men are actually conspirators in a plot to disrupt the coming summit and further plunge the three Provinces into open war. Ostensibly visiting Bree to trade goods, in truth they are here to secure uniforms of Arthedain from the barracks of the local Guard for use in their scheme. In fact, they have already done so, and are awaiting word from one of their fellows that the coast is clear to depart the town. 

Unknown Leader

Dark hair and blue eyes show far more Dunedain heritage than his more tanned complexion suggests. Who he is can remain a mystery if this is to be a single one-off adventure. Alternatively, this plot can link to the plans of the Tarma house to overthrow the Argeleb II. 

Dark Mage

Only ever seen in the distance as support for conspirators and the plot to disrupt the negotiations. The mage should never be captured but the players should be left with the sense of evil dread. 

Ghashthrak

Skin as black as midnight and dwarfing his fellow Orcs. This terror of the East has long been feared for his nightmare raids from the Misty Mountains. Around his neck the fire scorched remains of is enemies hang where they rhythmically rattle as he moves. He wears a short chainmail vest and wields a large, heavily notched falchion. His voice sounds like the harsh growl of a wolf and he will not stop before his quarry is mown down and mauled by his wares.

Backdrops

Locations

Bree

Bree stands on the western slopes of Bree Hill surrounded by a dyke topped by a thick hedge. The hill shelters the town, and windows of the houses ordinarily face west and south to catch the afternoon sunlight. There are about one hundred houses in the village, most of them built above the road and set into the side of the hill, with gardens fronting each. Most of the houses are built of honey-coloured stone. These homes are mostly of two stories, look comfortable and solid with their roofs of golden thatch.
Cobbled streets run down to the Great East Road, which cuts across the corner of this small town, linking them to the highway. Beside the road, on the Bree hillside, is the King’s Rest; renowned for its food and hospitality.
 

King’s Rest Inn

The King’s Rest Inn is the largest building in Bree village and is marked by a sign of the king on a rampant white horse. It boasts three stories and sports two wings that slope back from the road. There are twenty very comfortable rooms to accommodate men and two that accommodate visiting hobbits. The inn is built of the same honey-coloured stone as other buildings in Bree. A covered entrance way splits the main front from the eastern wing to allow access to the stables and rear courtyard.
The first floor of the King’s Ret holds the common room. It is spacious and furnished with wooden benches and tables. A huge central fireplace keeps the common room cosy in the winter. The kitchen, two parlours, two bedrooms for Hobbits, and three bedrooms for men are also on the ground floor. Both the upper floors are devoted to guest rooms. The servants sleep in the attic.
 

Chetwood

The woods provide ample foraging for the locals of Bree.land and during this adventure is the escape route for the Rhudaurim.

Wilds of the Weather Hills

 

Ruins of Amon Sul

Feathertop remains a ruin. A few of the tower’s larger foundation stones have stayed in place, peeking through the grassy earth that has filled the inner moat. Small units of Arthedain soldiers are often stationed at the top of Amon Sul in a small fortified camp which has been enlarged for the meeting with the Cardolan Princes.

Encounters

Discovery of the plot and meeting with the Prince
Pursuit of plotters
Combat
Dialogue where PCs discover the aim of the plot
Combat
Moment of menace – Flee you fools protect the Prince!
Flight
Rescue – the Royal patrols or at the margins of Amon Sul.
Meeting with the King and rewards

Past Events

1409 Angmar destroys the tower at Amon Sul 1410 The Petty Wars begin. Angmar not needing to or unable to mount a full-scale strike on Arthedain restricts its attacks to border raids. Perhaps the Witch King is planning a different type of strategy. 1589 Argeleb II crowned King. 1601 Hobbits granted leave to settle the shire. 1635-1636 The Great Plague decimates the population of Arthedain. The King’s Barrows of Tyrn Gorthad begin to be populated by Wights. How or why the dead now rise is unclear. The population of Arthedain lies in tatters and the already thin remnants of the royal houses of Cardolan have become nothing but bones, retreating to their strongholds to the South of the Kingdom. Only five years have passed and the region continues to be rocked by harsh winters. Argeleb II continues the line of Arnor on the throne of Arthedain and the Petty wars continue to threaten the Northern and Eastern borders. To the South, the remaining Princes of Cardolan bicker and attempt outmanoeuvre each other for the title of King of Cardolan. Meanwhile, Tharbad has become more powerful due to its strategic trade links to Gondor and Rohan. Amon Sul the once great fortress is in Ruins but remains fortifiable. Cardolan’s Princes still lay claim to the hill and so the fortress has never been rebuilt. None the less a small garrison of Arthedain is posted on a semi-permanent basis. After the plague, the Royal Burial mounds on Tyrn Gorthad have begun to become the haunt of Wights. The folk of Bree are wary of the Southern Highlands and confine themselves to the Greenway. Beyond the Barrows also lies Taur Iaur (The Old Woods) where the trees are said to walk and mysterious things from the elder times dwell.

For more than 200 years, Arthedain has valiantly resisted Angmar’s periodic and frenzied attacks and Rhudaur’s subversion and treachery. The Great Plague has consumed the already-lean and stretched flesh of Cardolan and all that remains is skin and bones and the memory of what was once a fair and green land. Rhudaur, engulfed by Angmar is another sour memory etched in the sad soul of Arthedain. So Arthedain stands alone, poised in the lull between storms, cut off by distance and attitude from Gondor far to the South. King Argeleb II, who has held the Sceptre of Annuminas for fifty years, is in contact with both Gondor and the remaining Princes of Cardolan. He hopes by forging lines of communication with his Southern cousins he will be able to more readily gain support and supplies for the war in the North.
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