Sunday, November 30, 2008

Red Rose Around Green Briar

Late autumn I usually end up listening to a lot of English folk music, so it's been nothing but Waterson:Carthy, June Tabor, Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny all weekend. It's inspired me to put together a folklore inspired hex crawl -- nothing so grandiose as a complete setting, just a small region of dark woods and sunny glades, drowsing maidens, broken-hearted knights, goblins, giants and witches.

Rackabello and his wee doggie: Dense, gnarled forest intercut with wide footpaths. Game is plentiful here, but the giant Rackabello regards the entire region as his hunting ground, and will be hostile to any camping or hunting here. His "wee doggie," an enormous wolfhound called Greyshanks, stands a full eight feet tall at the shoulder. The pair are encountered together half the time; otherwise they wander seperately. If either does battle there is a 1 in 6 chance per round the other will come to aid his friend. If Greyshanks is slain and Rackabello survives the giant will track the killers and seek revenge if at all possible.

The Rose Knight and the Briar Knight: Light forest and park land. A flat field in the northwestern corner of the hex is sectioned off by brambly hedges into a list field. At each end of the field a rose-briar shrub is somehow grown in the shape of a weapons rack, holding lances, swords and axes. By day the Rose Knight, a Lawful Fighting man of 4th level, will be found here. He is a dark-haired young man of fair aspect, his lance garlanded and his charger draped with roses. He will gladly joust with any challengers, but he speaks only a single word: "Margay."

By night the lists are deserted and the Briar Knight roams the region. He drives before him a flock of squealing wild pigs, and himself rides a huge boar. A Chaotic Fighting Man of 6th Level, his armor and gear is wrapped with briar, and the reek of rotten apples surrounds him. He will attack intruders on sight, stampeding his swine before charging with his lance. He will not remove his helmet, but if he is slain and his visor lifted, his features are identical to the Rose Knight, but much older. He does not speak.

If either knight is slain he and all his gear with wilt and crumble into dust, but the Rose Knight will ride again at noon of the next day, and the Briar Knight at midnight.

Three Queens of Soothern: The wreck of the castle Soothern stands on an outcropping over the river bend, covered completely in thorny vines. A band of goblins dwells in the woods nearby. They are a cowardly bunch unlikely to trouble well-guarded travelers, but they are terrified of the castle, and will act to prevent it from being disturbed by any means.

The castle itself is a ruin -- in some places the vines seem to be all that keep the walls standing. The thorn wall enclosing the castle can be hacked through, but it regrows almost as quickly as it is cut. If set afire the vines will animate and attack.

If the thorns are penetrated adventurers will find the castle to be a strange and bleak place, where no truly living soul dwells. The market ground and courtyards are tableaux of bones, skeletons of men, women, children and beasts frozen in scenes of everyday life, as if they had moldered away in the middle of a May morning. The castle towers are haunted by foul undead, and the place is ruled by three sisters, hags in the guise of pretty maidens. They are lovely, but their shadows are hunched, their footprints bloody, and their sorcery wicked.

MP3: June Tabor, Fair Margaret and Sweet William (Compact Disc - Download)

MP3: Waterson:Carthy, Rackabello (Compact Disc - Download)


Sham aka Dave said...

I really like The Rose Knight and the Briar Knight idea. Cool stuff!

noisms said...

I hereby nominate you for a Superior Scribbler Award.