Voyages in Auvergny – The Guyourne Byway

While crumbling in places, the thick cobblestone of the Guyourne Byway runs through lush farmland and the occasional copse of trees, a monument to a previous civilization’s now-lost engineering prowess. Less-traveled than in the recent past, it remains the main trade artery for the surrounding farmland and villages to reach the markets at Rocourt—as such, it is a prime target for banditry. Vigilant patrols offer a modicum of defense against the region’s dangers.

With the region’s instability, some local folk have taken to brigandry in outright rebellion against the government, having seen their food shipped off for the city-folk to consume while they lie starving in the rugged outlands; while this influx of armed humans has driven roving monsters further from the Byway, it leaves travelers in danger of the many human threats lurking just out of sight.

Bruce-Pennington-The-Shadow-of-the-Torturer

Random Encounters

Check for encounters just before dawn, mid-morning (9 am), noon, dusk, early in the night (9 pm), and midnight. If an encounter is indicated, roll 1d10 and consult the table below. The following cumulative modifiers apply: +2 if more than one mile off the main merchant road; +2 if the encounter occurs at night.

  • 1-3 Foot Patrol
  • 4-5 Merchant Caravan
  • 6-7 Cavalry Patrol
  • 8 Wandering Preacher
  • 9-10 Brigand Scouting Party
  • 11-12 Outlaw Band
  • 13 Wolf Pack
  • 14 Isengeld the Greedy

Descriptions:

Merchant Caravan: A trio of ox-drawn carts approach, led by wary farmers with their eldest sons and daughters (numbering in total, 3-8). With the rising lawlessness in the region, they have taken to traveling in armed groups during their trips to market. While their pitchforks and crude clubs are not imposing, they hope that strength in numbers is enough to ward off local thugs and bandits. Tactics: If met with a pleasant word and no aggression, they will offer to sell their wares at a reasonable price: primarily local foodstuffs supplemented with a few pieces of furniture, pottery, woven rugs or garments, and other rudimentary trade valuables.

Foot Patrol: A weary and miserable-looking group trudge forward along the Byway: 2-6 low-level footmen led by a mounted sheriff (usually a Paladin). They halt, sternly asking the characters to identify themselves. They are hunting bandits in the region, and may ask for assistance in their duties. Tactics: If the players’ answers are satisfactory, the patrol continues on their way and allow the players to progress unimpeded. These patrols are on edge from long days patrolling against rebels and anarchists, and any act of aggression on the players’ behalf will see the troops attempt to put them in chains for the local judge. In battle, they aim to disable their adversaries, but will kill if blood is shed. Gear: The footmen each carry a spear, wear studded leather or chain, and carry a shield and either longsword or battleaxe; the sheriffs wear chain and are armed with either a glaive or greatsword. There is a 33% chance the sheriff is an experienced veteran, though most are green recruits fresh out of the academy with little more tactical acumen or training than the footmen.

Wandering Preacher: A ragged preacher appears, openly wearing a large silver holy symbol against his black cloak and black hat, nicked with sword-cuts and with several spots of dried blood. This grim visage belies a humble attitude; the preacher has been wandering between the isolated farms and cottages along the Byway, spreading the good word amongst the faithful. Tactics: The preacher—a mid-level cleric or paladin armed with a silver shortsword— will defend against any threats, and has already fended off some brigands who felt the holy symbol would fetch a good price at the local market. If the characters make the offer, the preacher is more than willing to partake of food in exchange for his spells, or even just some hours of companionship—especially so at night, though the preacher will head off sometime in the early hours of the morn. Well versed in local goings-on, the preacher can provide the local gossip: roll 0-3 random rumors from Page XX, with a 50% chance each that the rumor is false (unknown to the reverend, who merely passes along misinformation as told by others).

Cavalry Patrol: A tired group of cavalrymen patrol the Byway: 2-6 low-level riders led by 1-2 mounted sheriffs (usually a Paladin). They halt, sternly asking the characters to identify themselves. They are hunting bandits in the region, and may ask for assistance in their duties. Tactics: Same as with the Foot Patrol, only on horseback; if assaulted, the cavalry disengage at full speed, only to come charging in at full speed to attack the party from the flank or sides. Gear: The riders each carry a longspear and wear studded leather, and carry a shield and either longsword or battleaxe; the sheriffs are armed with glaives and wear chainmail. There is a 33% chance for each sheriff to be an experienced veteran, though most are green recruits the same level as the riders.

Outlaw Band: Out of the foliage rushes a band of 2-5 emaciated peasants, demanding you hand over food and supplies in exchange for your lives. They accept no parlay and will attack on their next action if their demands are not met with haste. Tactics: Their equipment is crude and in disarray, and the group does not fight in tactical unison, instead rushing at the closest character. When two of their number drop, the rest of the outlaws attempt to disengage and flee back into the woods; they will fight if cornered, but attempt to split up and use stealth to evade their pursuers. If the players manage to track them back to their hideout, they find a ruined cottage with another 1-3 injured outlaws. Their meager ill-gotten gains include two empty crates, a bushel of rotting apples, a few bolts of fabric, 3 gold coins, 10 silver coins, 17 copper pieces. Gear: The outlaws are armed with peasant weapons: pitchforks, clubs, and shortbows, with a 33% chance of having a battleaxe, longbow, or short sword taken from one of their previous victims.

Brigand Scouting Party: Lurking just behind the treeline are 1-3 emaciated peasants, either common criminals or peasants instigated into open revolt against the government. Tactics: These scouts watch the byway for travelers and merchants; they use their best discretion to determine whether to set up an ambush, attempt to parlay, attempt to steal supplies at an opportune time (such as under cover of darkness, or when their target is under attack), or summon additional reinforcements (coming in the form of one Outlaw Band). These scouting parties consist of the best foresters and rangers from within an outlaw band, and spotting them requires Perception 16+ (either Passive or active check). Gear: Same as Outlaw Band above.

Wolf Pack: With hearty growls and snapping jaws, a pack of 4-6 wolves bursts out of the undergrowth. Tactics: Drawn by food left by those traveling along the Byway, many wolves lurk just beyond the treeline. This group is led by an alpha more brazen than most, one that sees the players’ group as an easy way to get fresh food. They attempt to split the group, driving weaker-looking targets away from the main mob, strafing the main group to keep its members corralled away from their target.

Isengeld the Greedy: Isengeld is a juvenile green drakeling a mere 226 years old, now known as the terror of the byway. For years, the military’s patrols—supplemented by tribute from some of the local farms and hamlets—kept Isengeld’s fury in check. However, now the drakeling has grown in size to that of a small horse, his lust for gold has increased, and with the area thrust into chaos and anarchy there is little to keep the tyrant’s reign in check. Isengeld is smart enough to know that most of the peasants can, at best, offer him minor fare like vegetables, linens, or pottery, and instead focuses on larger caravans or groups of armed men These, he has found, tend to carry the prizes he seeks: gold, gems, arms and armor, and other fine devices of human and dwarven make.

  • Tactics: Until the party is of sufficient level, the GM is advised to use Isengeld’s first encounters as foreshadowing, with the drake flying overhead en route somewhere else, spotting him just taking flight with a horse in its talons, or finding the aftermath of his attack on a helpless caravan. If the characters draw his wrath, he attacks with fury, first strafing the group from the air with his breath attack, then landing to finish off the survivors. Isengeld is cocky and prideful, having yet to face any group capable of driving him back or defeating him, and will press his advantage until the end. Should he escape from a near-death situation, he will fly to his cave to heal and plot revenge. The best chance to defeat Isengeld is for an experienced party to trap him in his lair, cutting off his avenues of escape and negating the mobility his flight gives him, while remaining scattered enough so that he cannot use his breath attack to its full advantage.
  • Gear: Isengeld’s trove does not yet contain magical items, but it includes a sizable amount of silver, copper, some jewelry and other trinkets, and a pittance of gold. Also included are several charred sets of non-magical arms and armor, including the battered remains of two sets of horse barding.

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