This will be the first quest in my campaign – the only quest I’ve envisaged occurring at a pre-planned point. The assumption is that the party will have dealt with bandits or such on the journey to town; that’s not a requirement.
A job to do:
On arrival into town (and probably after protecting the caravan from bandits), the PCs will be approached by Inga Shalebreaker. Inga is a Dwarf, head of the Engineers’ Guild, and thankful for the PCs assistance in safeguarding her cargo. She will ask if the group would care for a little more work; Inga’s a friend of the Bryants, and can probably square a few days board at The Angry Hag (inn) as a way of thanks.
The town’s water harvester needs maintenance, but nobody is willing go down there to do it! After various reports of strange noises and odd glimpses of light, one of the Engineers has gone missing. With the recent surge in crime, the town guard don’t have time to look into ‘dancing lights’. Inga needs brave hands to investigate.
It has occurred to me that one probably wouldn’t trust a bunch of strangers with a town’s main supply of fresh water. Hey-ho.
Inga leads the PCs through the town, down the main street, past the market square, and to a high-walled compound furnished with guards. The large courtyard that lays beyond holds the main guardhouse, and a huge wooden wheel. Buckets bound to thick rope ascend and descend a vertical shaft, pouring water into a network of channels.
Aside the grand wheel is a small stone building with an iron gate, and it is to here that Inga delivers the party. Opening the gate and telling them to speak to the guards when done, she heads off on town business. Inga will speak to the Bryants to secure their room and board.
Descent into the unknown:
The gate leads to a long run of winding carved stone steps, which encircle the creaking mass of buckets and rope. Water trickles down from above, while a large waterwheel turns slowly in the fast-flowing river below. The steps end at a cavern, with the harvester on one side, and several tunnels on the other. A man sits against the wall, slumped over with his toolbox open and spanner still in hand.
The engineer laying against the wall is in a magic-induced slumber, which can be identified through whatever arcane/heal skills are available.
Child-like laughter and giggles echo throughout the cavern, while green lights flit across the water surface and down tunnels. Four or five diminutive winged humanoids (Forest Sprites) drift in and slowly circle the party. One will briefly flash orange and pirouette, tossing a stone at the nearest PC (ranged attack). I will call for initiative, but hopefully the PCs will opt for dialogue over sprite-slaughter.
The pen or the sword:
Should conversation be attempted, the sprites will respond with telepathic imagery of an abandoned town – rotting wooden structures, open graves, forest canopy, and a prostrate sign reading ‘Gressfall‘. The sprites have been displaced, but how obvious or specific their answers might be is up to the GM. I plan to keep it vague.
The Faery folk’s light will switch to red should combat be initiated; spinning pebble-lobbing flavours the ranged attacks, whilst melee is with needle-like short-swords. Colour Spray/Dazed is prismatic dust blown from palms into faces. Five sprites with Colour Spray have a good change of taking out the whole party, so if this happens, they will awake later in the day.
Talking with locals will inform them that Gressfall is an old lumber and mining village in Oakmist Woods, long-since abandoned after a plague outbreak.
I use condensed quest and mob statistic cards, which I print off and set aside.