The Sceptre and the Blade

The scenario begins, as so many others, with the PCs in a tavern or inn. If they have played through Blight Night, or have crossed their paths at some point in the past, they already know Minster Blackhawk. That would explain why he picks them among the crowd. In the worst case, the amount of alcohol in Blackhawk’s veins makes he think he recognises the PCs from past encounters.

The minstrel approaches the PCs showing them an elongated and elaborated piece of metal, around 30 cm long. “So, this is the sceptre of the Roara people, from the Odaiova clan. I was accompanying a party of theirs to Thistle Hold and those porter goblins began to flee and left us alone in front of those aboars. Prios damn them! We fought until the last man, I myself bravely -says he while clumsily pretends to wield a sword that is no more than his tankard- but to no avail. They fell onto us like a rain of stones. We wanted to present Balandor, the chieftain’s son as the new ambassador, to Suria, at the Legation. But Balandor also fell. Now, friends, if you take this sceptre back to his father with the news I am sure he’ll reward you dearly. Bad news is always better than no news. I would do it myself but other pressing matters require my attention at the time -declares solemnly as a lady of negotiable morals pulls from his jacket-. Tell him I send you! And that I am sorry! -shouts the bard while being dragged away-. Bright Davokar, follow the river, to the standing stone, then the path with the yellow birches!”

Any PC knowledgeable of the area is confident they can find the place with those indications. Alternatively, some good use of Persuasive will gather all necessary indications from the locals.

On the Road

A success in Vigilant allows the PCs to advance at good pace. A failure means a delay of 1d4 hours. On a 4, delay the group for 3 hours but add an encounter with a pack of mare cats (PCs+1). A delay of more than two hours here means they will reach the bridge (see below) by dusk.

They finally arrive at the standing stone, a massive pillar decorated with engravings from an older era. A crossroads lies at its base. But then, from the three pathways ahead, two are flanked by yellowing birches. The markings on the stone are of no help here, and there is no “man”-made indication about the destination of any of the roads. There are two things that may help though. They can think of using the sceptre, in case it is somehow magically bound to the tribe. A character with Witchsight that successes in a Resolute roll while holding the sceptre over their head will notice how it radiates a faint glow in the direction of the left path. Alternatively, scouting both roads, 500 meters into the left one they see evidence of a fight, blood on the trees and stones, broken arrows, and one dead aboar. As Blackhawk described they had been attacked by these, this should be the road.

Fight or Flight (Flight!)

Following the road is an easy walk. In any case, as they are slowly getting closer to the darker Davokar, do not waste the opportunity to describe how the trees look more twisted, contorted faces seeming to form from among the markings of the bark. The canopies are denser, creating unnerving shadowed areas around the party. And the sounds of wildlife seem muffled by the distance.

After an hour they reach a point where a sinkhole covers the full width of the road. They can see the remains of an improvised rope bridge, or maybe a long wooden ladder that someone placed between the ends to cross the hole. It would have allowed people (read goblins and maybe even lightly packed ogres) to cross the hole, but definitely no horses, mules or wagons. Whatever it was is now gone. The sides of the road are tall rock walls. The PCs could undo a couple hundred meters and try to follow the path in parallel through the woods, to re-enter it again afterwards, or they can try to clinch to the walls and use their climbing skills to cover the 8 or 10 meters the sinkhole is wide. If they pick the first option they just need to have one person in the party succeeding in a Vigilant roll. (A failure is just time lost, remember that the dusk is approaching, but they will end in an unexpected place anyway – see below.) Trying to “climb” the wall requires three successful Quick rolls in a row. One failure means the PC does not find a safe place to clinch to (they don’t advance). Two failures in a row mean an almost-fall. The PC clings to the rock with one hand. Determine randomly what piece of their equipment is lost forever to the depths of the hole. Other characters can help by succeeding in one extra roll or with a good plan (passing a rope, reaching for a branch… reward their creativity).

Regardless of how they sort the sinkhole issue out (or if you feel evil: WHILE they are doing that), a Fray Spider appears as if from nowhere and attacks the party (if one of the PCs has failed two climbing rolls in a row, definitely, the spider has to appear at that precise moment, please!). Run the combat until it is clear the PCs are going to win. Then add two more spiders. Or as needed. In fact, the purpose of this encounter is to make the PCs flee, so they can end at the bridge, where the “sceptre” may become more interesting.

The Bridge

Eventually they should flee through the unknown wood. You may want to use the Flight & Hunt rules [APG] to handle the chase (but then, you may need to fudge some of the rolls, as we want them to reach the bridge anyway… at least, most of them… at least, the one carrying the sceptre…). Ask for two consecutive Quick rolls per player. Any failure means their PC slips while running for 4 damage (minus Armour roll).

When things begin to feel safe, the party can stop to regain their breath. They are in front of a stream’s dried bed, evident due to the shallow depression of the ground, and because it is crossed by a mossy stone bridge. Ask the character carrying the sceptre for a Resolute roll. A success means they perceive the object as if pulsing or vibrating. Then, as soon as any PC puts their foot on the bridge they are blinded by a flash of light, the forest sounds seems suddenly muffled and they all hear a metallic sound they can easily recognise as armour clinking while the wearer walks. A tall elvish figure in a dark and ornate armour approaches the bridge from behind the characters. Ignore any reaction from the party (they are just seeing something that happened many years ago). The warrior enters the bridge and hits the air in front of him (her?) with his sword. All PCs to roll Vigilant here. Any success (or the best roll if they are totally out of luck) makes a character notice that the hilt of the sword is suspiciously similar to the sceptre. So suspiciously that it is in fact the same object! The air the warrior is slashing is not air but a kind of magic cobweb that shines in bright purple every time it is hit. And it holds, until a glowing giant spider enters crawling by one of the sides and jumps towards the warrior. The elf steps back and falls to the ground, reacting with a last failed slash that hits the stones of the bridge with such a strength that breaks the sword. Hilt there, blade falling among the grass and fallen leaves below. One last shimmer of the blade indicates where it fell exactly. Then the vision ends.

The characters can easily locate the blade just by removing some leaves and dirt. This is for sure a valuable ancient artefact from the Symbaroum times. By describing the place and the figure’s armour to any local historian the PCs can very likely find a legend the artefact relates to. So, what now? Will they stick to the original plan and take the sceptre to the chieftain, and maybe try to sell the blade (which would obviously be much much cheaper if sold without the hilt)? Will they try to re-forge the weapon and sell it to a historian, collector or scholar? Will they present both pieces to the tribe? Will they re-forge the weapon and use it as part of their own arsenal? That is for them to decide. Right now, darkness is coming and they are still inside the not-so-bright-anymore Davokar.


Mare Cats and Aboars appear in the Core Book (pages 220 and 221).

Fray Spider (Monster Codex, page 146)

Brownish-gray and covered with thick, short hairs, these large spider monsters lack the ability to spin webs. Instead, they catch their prey like most four-legged predators: with speed, strength, and cunning.

Race: Spider (beast)
Resistance: Challenging
Traits: Armored (III), Natural Weapon (II), Poisonous (II)

Accurate 15 (−5), Cunning 7 (+3), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 5 (+5), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 10 (0), Strong 11 (−1), Vigilant 10 (0)

Abilities: Acrobatics (novice), Natural Warrior (master)
Boons/Burdens: Fleet-footed [APG, page 53, ignore if you do not own the book]
Weapons (Accurate): Bite 8, two attacks at the same target and poison 3 for 3 turns
Defense: -3
Toughness: 11 
Pain Threshold: 6
Shadow: Dark brown with streaks of gray, like a speckled mountain wall (corruption: 1)

Tactics: Against stronger prey well-suited for melee combat, the fray spider will begin with a quick poison attack and then keep its distance while the poison weakens the victim. Against weaker enemies, and those with ranged weapons, it relies on its powerful bite and thick shell.