Born to the Noble Umbaraton family over two decades ago, Vaelgar was always meant to rule. His family had been the lords of their lands for over a century, and he can trace his lineage back to the kings of yore. But when his ancestral lands were assimilated into the Kingdom of Azonia and his family was made into servants of the new lord of the land, things seemed dire for our hero. But he was never one to lay down and die. He packed his belongings, grabbed what meager wealth he could get his hands on, and took off in the night to become an adventurer.
|Art by David Lewis Johnson|
Vaelgar has no worries about his family, whilst no longer lords, their posts at court provided them a livable income, and so they weren’t hurting. He wanted lands of his own, but he knew he had to make a name for himself first, he also knew that he couldn’t carve out his own barony from Azonian lands, else his family would be put in danger. And so he rode hard, and rode far. He travelled for weeks until he reached the “Borderlands” land that had been untamed for centuries. Empires of old had conquered and once tried to settle these territories, meeting with varying success. While the land holds valuable minerals and the soil is good for planting, the whole region is rife with Chaos, and only the brave, or foolish, attempt to lord over these lands.
The people of the Borderlands live in near constant fear. Fear of starvation, invasion, desecration, or damnation. Chaos has a tight grip on the land, and while people can eke our a living, they continue to live in constant fear. Most settlements are isolated and independent, bearing no allegiance to anyone not of their own town. There are some lordships which try to impose law and order in their domains, but these are few and far between. While there are many chaotic lords who simply extort the people of their realm for money, slaves, and sacrifices.
|Art by Joyce Maureira|
Vaelgar found himself wandering into the village of Hardbreak, which bore no allegiance to any lord. The village was of a decent size, sporting a population just shy of 500, and made its living on farming. More than a few washed up adventurers made their lives. Here as guards for the town or mercenaries when the farmers needed some goblins run off or some highwaymen made to disappear. But there was one job no mercenary would take. Years ago, out on the edge of town villager Bob had discovered there was a small cavern under his house which contained some goblins. A passing adventurer had made himself some good money clearing out that cavern, closing up the exit, and making off with the goblin’s ill-gotten gains.
|Art by Windfall Design|
But then Bob had no idea what to do with the place, he had used some of it for storage, but it was too damp to store most things without them rotting as a result. So he had thought about living down there, with all that room. But again the dampness made that hard for him. He didn’t know what to do with until, one day, a fellow came along asking to buy the cave from him. Bob could keep the cottage atop the entrance, the man only wanted the cave. The money was good, so Bob happily agreed. Once in a while, a few servants of the man in the cave would come up through Bob’s house, but supplies, and go back down. This all quickly became normal.
All was well, until recently, when instead of a servant, it was a zombie who came crawling out of the cellar door into the house of Bob and his sleeping wife and daughter. Needless to say, things didn’t end well for Bob or his wife. But his daughter, Marie, made it out alive. The next day, a few mercenaries made their way into Bob’s house to find out what had happened. They were never heard from again. The house was boarded up and a guard was stationed to patrol that area at all times. It had been two years since that incident, young Marie began working at the local Tavern, and began saving her money. Every adventurer who passed into town she tried to hire to find out what happened to that house. Those who took the job never came back from the endeavor, and so people began to warn adventurers to stay away from Marie and the job she offered.
But Vaelgar never was one for following orders, and so he took the job, and made his way to the house. Within the front door was a gruesome sight, dried blood plastered the walls and a few bones were strewn across the cottage. As he made his way into the cellar, he saw all around him the remnants of the other adventurers who had entered the cottage and cave. When he finally made it into the dungeon, he found a dungeon much larger than the small cave that had been described to him. And he found it teeming with undead. Zombies and skeletons alike. He waded his way through dozens of the undead, discovering the laboratory of a mad wizard as he went. When finally he reached the chamber of the wizard himself, he discovered a man driven mad by the passage of time. The wizard was immediately hostile, and refused to be reasoned with. After a terrible duel, Vaelgar defeated him and looted his secret treasure room, making off with a haul worth almost a thousand gold pieces.
|Art by David Lewis Johnson|
Vaelgar returned to Marie and told her what he discovered. She was disappointed that it provided so few answers, but was glad to know that the man who killed her parents was gone. She offered him his reward, but he bade she keep it, and build herself a new life with it. With that, Vaelgar has started on the way to making his name in the world. With some much money on hand, he wanted to do something good with it, but wasn’t sure what. That is, until he heard word of the ancient fortress a week’s travel from Hardbreak, inhabited by petty bandits, ripe for the taking by some enterprising soul...
Thanks for reading! This adventure was built entirely by solo play between me, myself, and I. I used a module which I plan to soon publish as part of a larger adventure arc and rulership system. If you have questions about the story, feel free to ask!
|Art by Luigi Castellani|