Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Silver Marches Sandbox 10 - Riding the River Rauvin, Part 1

I think this post might be a bit more sandbox-like than my past three or so posts.

Looking at the map, and reading 3E's Silver Marches, reveals that the River Rauvin plays an important role in relation to trade in the Silver Marches. Goods being sent from Sundabar to Nesmé, for example, would be better sent by barge as barges typically have greater capacity than horse-drawn wagons and, if you're travelling in the same direction of the current, you're not worried about animals needing food or rest so you should, in theory, be making much better time.

Nesmé is known for being nearly constantly threatened by troll attacks. Let's assume that trolls are, like most creatures, fairly lazy in winter and they wait until it is spring before they start posing a menace to Nesmé. Let's further assume that the campaign begins with winter just ending and spring just beginning and that Nesmé needs more weapons in preparation for this year's troll attacks.

A basic conceit of most fantasy worlds is that dwarves produce the best weapons and armour so let's make another assumption that the good folk of Nesmé prefer to buy arms from Sundabar for that genuine dwarven quality. With winter ending and the River Rauvin flowing super-fast because of meltwater, barges are now being sent from Sundabar to Nesmé with new arms and armour. 

While river travel is typically safer than land travel, there are still risks and barge captains hire guards to travel on the barges. I make another assumption here: the PCs are in Silverymoon and a barge-captain from Sundabar is hiring new guards as the guards that came with him from Sundabar will only travel as far as Silverymoon. There is nothing sinister in this. As the PCs will soon discover, the speed of the river means that any return journey from Nesmé by barge will be delayed by about a month until the river slows down because otherwise towing the barges is too difficult for the tow-animals. The guards from Sundabar don't want to sit around doing nothing in Nesmé for a month... nor do they want to risk travelling around the Evermoors with the trolls becoming active with the arrival of spring.

Assuming the PCs accept the commission, they find themselves on a fairly fast journey to Nesmé that is interrupted by a few fairly dangerous encounters including a young rock-throwing hill giant, river pirates and maybe a couple of freshwater scrags. Essentially, it's a three-encounter dungeon delve set on the water which might make an interesting and effective single night introduction to the combat side of RPGs (although it is missing some meaningful decision points and needs some interaction and exploration but that's easily fixed).
As already noted, barges won't return upriver for another month or so when the river slows down so that leaves the PCs hanging around in Nesmé, returning to Silverymoon by land or looking at the map and noticing the Dungeon of the Ruins nearby....

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