Barrow Downs Campaign… – Session #1

Sounds kind of like a Tolkien-esque game, but really I just think it’s a nice riff off of the first module I’m running the group through, Scourge of the Howling Horde, where the little village is named “Barrow’s Edge” and I have a handful of beginner modules that would fit in pretty well I think.

Plus, of all the things that I can do quickly and easily, whipping up random tombs and barrows to loot is pretty damn easy. My biggest problem is that I long ago determined that in a world that had actual undead, who in the hell would actually bury them? The standard cultural custom for humans is to actually burn them – though I did end up positing a couple of millennia “barring” of undead in “the Heartlands” so perhaps this custom died out at some point as being un-needed.

Kind of makes a nice adventure point if “the old ways” are now so abhorrent that it would be a horrific sin of some sort to burn your dead… Hmmm… I’ll have to keep this in mind for the eventual character death…

So the group consists of six PCs and two NPCs:

Mikis (CN Human Thief) – From “the City”, he’s here because “he needed a vacation” – fast. The reasons for his much-needed vacation have been left for future development. He’s a bit mercenary, and a bit self-centered, but he is well aware that having a group around like this is good for staying alive.

Smor Bjornssen, son of Bjorn Tharlssen, son of Tharl Svenssen, son of Sven Arekssen (LN Human Barbarian) – From the Northern Marches, he’s the son of a Jarl and he and his brothers have been sent off to learn how to lead men by following leaders! Honorable to perhaps a fault, he’s quite suspicious of anything that smacks of magic, like the Fey…

Jezebel (NG Half-Elf Ranger/Druid) – Somewhat local, Jezebel could be described a supermodel not just with hips and tits, but a winning personality as well. She’s kind of socially clueless, buts wants to be helpful, and really wants minions, errr… companions! She has never forgiven her mother for not just sleeping with a human, but then giving her to humans to be raised. She travels with her two animal companions (via an Animal Friendship spell), a pair of hawks named Muerte and Vita.

Halass’n’tiernen aka “Tier” (NG Grey Elf Fighter/Mage) – The son of the heads of the Burning Blade mercenary company, Tier has been sent out to make his way before (hopefully) returning someday to take over. Grey Elves are semi-outcasts of elvish society, living primarily in the Mortal Realms, and are reputed to have lost much of their inherent faerie magic.

Frater Nikolai (LG Human Cleric + Fighter) – A nobleman’s son who originally trained as a warrior, Frater Nikolai is a Lightbringer, one of the priests of the Society of Light, a religion based on working with and for angels to the greater good of everyone. Devout and devoted to the Society, he’s travels with two other members of the Society, though somewhat unusual ones…

Novice Illya (LG High Man Monk/Psionicist) – One of the fabled Warrior-Monks of Endorn Monastery, Illya has left the monastery on an unknown mission and has joined with this small community of the Light in order to protect them and work towards the greater good. One of the legendary scions of Ryl Shantor, Illya has been trained in the psychic arts as well as the skills and talents of a warrior-monk, making him a formidable foe indeed.

Brother Kyril (NG High Man Healer/Psionicist + Thief) – A devout pacifist and member of the Universal Brotherhood of Life, an ancient fellowship that was among the founders of the Society of Light. Brother Kyril is also a scion of Ryl Shantor and a healer of no small skill. What is surprising is that he has forgotten little of his origins in the lowest of classes and his life on the street as a pickpocket in the City.

“Astrin” (?? Grey Elf Fighter?/Mage?/Rogue) – Also known as “the Elf Bitch” by Jazabel who is quite jealous of her significantly greater beauty. Astrin is a bit of mystery, she seems to a friend of Tier’s, though they met rather recently, and Mikis and Brother Kyril have confirmed that she’s “a friend of the Family” but she also seems to have been a rather recent arrival to the City before the campagn started and she has a bit of a foreign accent. She has the bearing of a noble, and seems quite accustomed to her creature comforts, though for anyone could guess it’s an act designed merely to get under the skin of Jezabel.

The group made thier way to the small town of Barrow’s Edge, where there was word that adventurers were needed. Rescuing a gnomish merchant by the name of Stenna Silvercoin from a group of eleven goblins that had attacked her wagons, she offered them credit at her store if they would accompany her safely to the very town that they were headed towards. Upon arriving they were offered (and accepted) the princely sum of 500 “coins of the realm”(1) if they could ensure that the local goblins stopping attacking and bother the small town of 100 souls.

After wandering the town for a bit, the group has decided to leave the next morning to go back to the site of the goblin attack and try to track the goblins back to their lair…



(1) Yeah, I started this game trying to run with AD&D’s GP standard, and I’ve already decided after a short perusal of the crazy pricing of things that I’m going to go with the silver standard price list I’ve been using for years now. Since a mercenary makes 30 silver a month using that standard, 500 silver is still pretty good – better than 500 GP the original module offered… When staying at the inn for a week costs the same as a longsword (~15gp) assuming that they aren’t drinking any alcohol, you know something is wrong with the local economy…

Categories: Campaign, Campaign Development, Game Play | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Barrow Downs Campaign… – Session #1

  1. The whole chestnut of ‘why the hell don’t they burn the damn things’ has cropped up for me as well. I think I have a couple of reasonable ideas (cribbed, in some cases, from other places).

    1) A tended graveyard bounded by statues dedicated to Law/Life/Good (etc) doesn’t result in undead. The only place undead spring up ‘naturally’ is in places that have fallen to decay and been desecrated. Holy ground is important because the dead don’t (can’t) come back or even (possibly) be forced into coming back (so a necromancer would need to move bodies away from holy ground).

    2) Corporeal undead are easier to deal with than incorporeal undead. Most random, free forming undead are of the lesser variety (skeletons, zombies, maybe a wight). You burn their body? Maybe nothing comes back. But if it does, it’s going to be worse…a Shadow or a Wraith. Nobody wants that! Just bury ’em in a really strong grave barrow and keep paying the priests.

    • There are a couple of things. First, in 1E, the Ceremony spell can be used to prevent a body from returning as Undead, so that is one thing that easily plays into the argument. Also, I have a very long period of time in my game world where Undead were essentially barred from existing and these barrows could easily date from that time period.

      And I always liked it when players had the same realization as you did, “What a second! This means that when undead do show up they are more likely to be really nasty!”

      I’ve actually been running this game world for pretty close to twenty years now (and parts date back to the very first games that I ran), and players have been played in all sorts of areas over the span of about three thousand years. So I have a nice rich history to draw upon if and when I need it – even if I’ve gone through a couple of major “revisions” as I’ve struggled to make sense of it all.


      • Oh that’s really cool about your world. I’ve been doing the same with my own world for the same length of time, including jumping around into different time periods with different groups. I’ve started detailing that stuff on my blog as well.

        Looking forward to reading the rest of your campaign logs. 🙂

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