Lovesick Caravan is a portable scenario that adds a haunting diversion to the players’ travels into Davokar. A backstory, handful of characters, and series of events present a mystery the players must solve for the sake of the caravan’s safety.
The baying of lambs, lilt of a flute, clomping hooves, the rumble and creak of wagons over uneven ground—use sights and sounds to create a sense of atmosphere as players travel through Bright Davokar. When players realize the journey itself is an adventure, they’ll look for story. Engage players with their fellow travelers to divert attention away from the key element of their environment: the flute’s song. After undead attack the caravan, let players discover the truth of the situation.
Any Other Caravan
This scenario can take place on any caravan. Details provided here suggest a caravan to Karvosti, but with minor modifications, the caravan could easily be traveling to another outpost or from the Titans to Yndaros (following The Promised Land). What’s important is that players join the caravan for their own reasons and don’t suspect anything unusual before events unfold.
Several weeks ago, the summer elf Amlet stole the cursed flute Eternal Serenade and rode into Narugor to find his lost lover, Lahela, who (according to rumor) had died at the hands of a farmer. Amlet found the farmer, Timeron, only to learn Lahela died protecting the Ambrian’s farm from blight beasts.
Timeron attempted to comfort the lovesick elf, but Amlet played Eternal Serenade through the night, obsessed with reviving Lahela. The next morning, Timeron found a befouled, blight-marked elf. Timeron has taken it upon himself to deliver Amlet to Karvosti. He has already questioned the witch Acker to confirm his belief that only a powerful witch at Karvosti—perhaps the Huldra herself—can restore the elf.
The non-player characters detailed below either play a part in the scenario’s events or provide misdirection to engage players while building suspense. The Game Master should feel free to add other non-player characters to the caravan (e.g. merchants, sellswords), whether they play role in a larger campaign or to add depth and color to the adventure. The troubadour Blackhawk also offers opportunities for further storytelling, so that the scenario may take place over the course of a week or more (intermingled with other events) rather than only a few days.
Acker, ambitious witch. Acker abandoned his clan and training as a young witch to seek fortune among the Ambrians. The Odav found Fate unkind, however, his fledgling talents unappreciated in Thistle Hold. Acker returns to Odaiova, convinced that Ambrians will unleash evil into the world if unchecked. In truth, he desires mystical prestige and needs a teacher. Acker avoids Ambrians. If questioned, he threatens, “You don’t want to cross a witch,” but he’ll back down or flee from combat.
Blackhawk, minstrel. Blackhawk accompanies the caravan to entertain fellow travelers. During the day, the flute music may inspire him to song; at night, he’ll goad others into sharing a drink in exchange for cautionary tales or information. Though ostentatious, Blackhawk knows much about Davokar and its legends, and can point players in the right direction if they have trouble solving the mystery: “I’ve heard tales of undead drawn to artifacts—perhaps one in our caravan?” The bard will swing his spiked club only if he need defend himself; if so, use Fortune-Hunter stats (page 215 in the core rulebook).
Crook and Una, unlikely shepherds. The motherly ogre Crook and her solemn goblin companion, Una, act suspiciously around humans, but are “perfectly legitimate employees” of an Ambrian breeder and landowner in Prios Domain, seeking new trade outlets. They’re transporting a dozen lambs by cart, which they let graze when the caravan camps. If called to protect their lambs, use stats for a Plunderer (for Crook) and Fortune-Hunter (for Una).
Rakel, not-so-petty thief. After pulling off her most daring heist—burgling the estate of a prominent count—Rakel fled Thistle Hold. Concealing the valuables in a locked chest, beneath blankets and a horse-drawn wagon, Rakel hopes to lay low in Jakaar until she can find buyers. Rakel masks suspicion behind overt friendliness, to assess the threat of fellow travelers. Use Robber Chief stats if Rakel must fight to defend her loot.
Timeron, widowed farmer. Losing his wife to the Great War, Timeron sold everything to purchase farmland in Ambria. A year ago, blight beasts attacked. A pair of elves came to his rescue, but one sustained lethal injuries despite his attempt to save her. When Amlet came looking for Lahela, Timeron empathized and wanted to repay his debt. With fascination and fear, Timeron lured the despondent elf into a rudimentary cage, which he conceals with a tarp and sacks of root vegetables (the last of his harvest) within a covered wagon. He’ll do what he can to protect the blight-marked elf—“I’m just a humble farmer, honest”—hoping his kindness will somehow pay off.
AN UNWELCOME AUDIENCE
After a day’s travel toward Jakaar (then onto Karvosti), the caravan sets up camp for the night. Unknown to the players, Amlet’s flute playing has attracted the attention of undead creatures that descend upon the camp after nightfall. The Game Master should choose a number and type of undead that pose a moderate challenge for the players.
More undead will besiege the caravan every day and night until players suspect something’s amiss. Other unusual encounters occur over next few days:
- While Blackhawk sings a ballad, a less engaged player character or an overlooked NPC notices a lone figure trailing the caravan. The figure neither hides nor hurries, but follows until the players investigate or it catches up to a camped caravan. The figure, a well-armed dragoul, only fights if attacked or in search of the flute, if it stops playing.
- A subsequent night, a spirit possesses an NPC and attempts to relive a past love, viewing one or more player characters as lovers or rival suitors. The possessed asks the object of their affection, “Won’t you play me a song?” and becomes violent if spurned.
Amlet only plays while the caravan is traveling; at night, he passes out from exhaustion. Mention the flute music during the scenario’s introduction and again each new day. If players too quickly suspect the flute as culprit, make it difficult to determine the music’s source—“It echoes through the trees, as if from above and all around you.”
- If asked, other travelers don’t know who’s playing the flute.
- Acker: “I have no idea.”
- Blackhawk: “I too have wondered who plays such lovely music.”
- Crook nervously suggests, “Una plays flute” (but neither have an instrument).
- Rakel: “That’s Amlet”—but she only knows a name because Acker told her. If pressed, Acker shares that Timeron told him, but he doesn’t know who Amlet is, nor does he care.
- Timeron will pretend not to know, and will lie or redirect if confronted, “Maybe I did tell Acker. But I heard the name from someone else. I can’t remember who.”
- If befriended, Acker may reveal that Timeron asked him if witches can cure blight.
- If Timeron overhears others suggest an artifact attracts the undead, or if questioned about the music, he will take the flute from Amlet during the next camp—but not without a struggle. The player characters may hear the struggle or notice Timeron’s freshly claw-marked arms the following morning.
Sooner or later, the players will determine the farmer is hiding an elf devolving into an abomination. Amlet will become violent if threatened or denied Eternal Serenade, leaving his fate—and a potentially dangerous artifact—in the players’ hands.
THE FLUTE, ETERNAL SERENADE
Delicately carved from rosewood and originally enchanted to restore the life of a lost lover, Eternal Serenade has been corrupted after repeated misuse. Cold to touch, the flute’s curse becomes apparent when held to one’s lips—it sucks the breath from its handler to play a heartbreaking melody; anyone attempting to play the flute must make a [Resolute – permanent Corruption] test to resist bonding with it. Once bound, the flute’s music has one of two affects:
Undead Attraction: The flute attracts any undead creature that can hear the faintest whisper of its song. Unless driven by another strong sense of purpose—or if threatened or their path blocked—the undead will not attack while listening to the music, lulled into a stupor.
Corruption: 1D4 (once per scene)
Awaken the Spirit: With a successful roll against Resolute, one can use the flute’s song to call an undead spirit from its resting place. The spirit will attempt to re-experience strong emotions of a past relationship, possessing the living to do so.
Amlet, blight-marked summer elf
Manner Forlorn, vengeful if provoked
Race Elf (summer elf)
Traits Long-lived. As kotka: Armored (I), Natural Weapon (II), Robust (I)
Accurate 12 (-2), Cunning 10 (0), Discreet 8 (+2), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 15 (-5), Resolute 9 (+1), Strong 11 (-1), Vigilant 10 (0)
Abilities Acrobatics (I), Natural Warrior (II), Shapeshift (I)
Weapons Claws 7, two attacks at the same target
Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 4
Shadow Rose petal red, withered black with rot (corruption: 6)
Tactics: If cornered, Amlet takes a kotka’s shape to take down the greatest threat, then will retreat and stalk his prey.
Timeron, widowed farmer
Manner Amicable, avoidant gaze
Race Human (Ambrian)
Traits Contacts (merchants)
Accurate 9 (-1), Cunning 11 (-1), Discreet 10 (0), Persuasive 6 (+4), Quick 10 (0), Resolute 12 (-2), Strong 14 (-4), Vigilant 8 (+2)
Abilities Medicus (I), Polearm Mastery (I), Steadfast (I)
Weapons Staff 4 (Long)
Armor Leather armor 2 (Impeding)
Toughness 14 Pain Threshold 7
Shadow Pale gold, as grain before harvest (corruption: 0)
Tactics: Timeron will avoid a fight but preemptively strike with his staff before fleeing melee combat.