Adventure Prompt: Part 2 of The Crystal Dust Road – The Disappearing Caravans

I’ve written this adventure prompt to continue the adventure I started in this post. I am using the Dungeon World system, but you could adapt this for any system.


Your party has traveled to a well-known trade stop on the Crystal Dust Road, Stone Fort,  where the merchant’s guild is offering a big reward for solving the mystery of disappearing caravans. Have your party introduce themselves. Then ask why each party member wants to solve the mystery (or just win the reward), how (or if) they know the other party members and why they are working together.

Suggested Bonds:

_________ and I have collected many a bounty together before, but I still don’t trust them.

I’ve heard rumor of _________’s investigative skills, I hope to learn from them.

_______ is just in it for the money, I will show them there is more to life.

_________ seems like a greenhorn, they better not get in my way.

Once you’ve settled all that, read the following outloud:

Wagons heavily laden with valuable crystal dust rumble along the cobbled streets. Now and then a small puff of dust escapes, contributing to the build-up of dust which gives the whole town a  faint glimmer. The wagon drivers shout at pedestrians to get out of the way, who in turn shout back to get out of their way. Merchants hawk their goods from wooden stands, their buckets brimming with all magical necessities such as siren feathers, newt eyes, and mermaid scales. In stone buildings painted in dizzying patterns, richly-robed merchant sell the more valuable items the discerning wizard requires. 

A Reward poster lies on the small café table in front of you.  Even though you’ve been sitting for only a few minutes, the crystal dust is already scratching your throat and eyes. The poster reads:

“REWARD: Ten Wagons of Crystal Dust or its Equivalent in Coin to Whomever Can Solve the Problem of the Disappearing Caravans. Inquire with the Merchant’s Guild for More Information.”

The next section includes some light descriptions of the town and the people the PCs might encounter. Let your PCs explore, and don’t be afraid to  let them go ‘off-script’

Around the Town of Stone Fort

Population: 15,000

Geographical size: Roughly 3 mile square

Economy: Trade Center

This a mid-sized to large town. Any common items can be bought, and a few rarer items.

People to Encounter:

The outdoor stands: The merchants at this level do not belong to the guild and hence do not know much beyond the fact caravans have been disappearing and there is an award.

Suggested Names: Gligee Potionbrewer, Pan Hawker, Selma Hexenhammer

The wagons: Most wagon drivers are too busy to talk to the PCs and will ignore them. However, there is one caravan in town which is getting ready to leave and will allow the PCs to travel with them.

Suggested Names: Gruf Oxmaster, Ruby Whip

NPC: Kari Undergem, the wagon master. While she is not a merchant, and therefore not in a guild, a guild member has  hired her caravan. She has heard rumors that the caravans are not lost, but taken, their occupants murdered or enslaved. She is nervous about the trip, and willing to let the PCs accompany her caravan.

The indoor shops: Almost all indoor merchants are part of the guild and can give the PCs a bit more detail on the caravans. They know disappearance started happening  6 months ago, and are almost always along a one mile stretch of road. The Guild sent scouts to the area, but so far whenever scouts watch, no caravans are attacked. The scouts also searched the surrounding area, but found no signs of activity.

Suggested Names: Hittie Gold, Clavyo Richmound, Xan Coinbags

Any other townsperson: For the most part, anyone else the PCs talk to knows very little information. Multiple rumors abound about what is happening to the caravans.

Suggested Names: Timur Drop, Gamzee Brave, Rosewater Smiles

The Merchant’s Guild: This location is easily found by asking any towns person or by walking into the biggest, shiniest building with the engraved sign “The Merchant’s Guild.” If the PCs enter this building read the following out load:

The words “Merchant’s Guild” are chiseled above an immense open doorway. A mosaic caravan scene surrounds the doors. As you walk in, the caravan imagery continues, bringing wares to a mosaic marketplace which covers the entire back wall. The masterpiece dwarfs a simple wood desk where a gnome sits cleaning out his ears with a stick.

NPC: Rydarcargemurlite (Rydar for short): A male gnome with the tendency to forget what he’s talking about. He knows the following about the missing caravans, but besides being forgetful, he’s tired of explaining it to every kid who thinks they can win the reward:

  • The caravans are often found intact, but the caravan members gone.
  • Bodies are rarely recovered, when found, they are brutally torn apart and partially eaten.
  • Large caravans are never attacked, but small trinkets are often missing.
  • Caves riddle the cliffs where the caravan has disappeared.
  • There is a massive and ancient graveyard near to where the caravans disappear.

Continue the story in Part 3

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