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Further Exploring the Nentir Vale
Steal This Hook
by Robert Wiese

The new edition is here, and with it comes a new adventure setting: the Nentir Vale. Described in the Dungeon Master's Guide and the first three adventures coming out this summer, the Nentir Vale is a frontier area with sparse population and lots of monstrous threats. That makes it perfect for adventuring. Last month, we offered three potential dangers to the Vale; this month, we return once more to better introduce your players to Fallcrest and the surrounding lands!

Hired Muscle

Local bandits have joined forces with a tribe of bugbears.

"I'm almost out of business, and I need help," the woman sitting before you says. "When my husband died in the wilderness, I carried on his trading business, and I use different wagoneers to carry my goods from Fallcrest down to Harkenwold, and north to Winterhaven, and even south to the more civilized lands. The bandits have been especially hard on my business in the past few months, and my last goods were sent with a wagon train south to Harkenwold two weeks ago. I have not received word that the goods arrived, and I am worried. If I lose this load, I'm finished. I don't have much money left, but I want to use what I have to hire you to go south and see if my wagon arrived in Harkenwold. If it did not, please find out what happened to it. Can you help me?"

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-40: The wagon did not arrive—however it was delayed. One of the other wagons in the train needed repairs (see also the next hook; you can make this a two-fer). When the PCs catch up to it, though, a group of bugbears led by two humans attack it.

41-55: The bugbears hail from the Dawnforge Mountains, and they have allied with a group of human bandits for mutual financial gain. In brief, the bugbears are dirt poor and find it difficult to move around in the human-settled lands. They need the humans to help them move around undiscovered so that they can make successful raids.

56-65: The bugbears and bandits are based in southern Nentir Vale in the vicinity of Harkenwold, but very little trade passes that way. The main reason they chose that area as a base is that its remoteness makes it easier for the bugbears to hide and move around undetected.

66-75: The bugbears and bandits don't just raid caravans. They hire themselves out to the highest bidder (or any bidder) and thus they sometimes work for one merchant against a competitor or rival.

76-85: The dead husband of the woman who hires the PCs was slain by bandits working for one of his rivals. The bugbear group now works for that same rival, who is based in Fallcrest. The rival has several reasons to put the woman out of business -- at your discretion, the main one could be that he wants to put her in a desperate economic situation so that she marries him.

86-00: The bugbears and bandits are not actually working together. The two human bandits know about and follow the bugbear raiders/thugs around the area. They "join in" the raids, steal some things during the fight between the bugbears and traders, and then they slip off into the woods before the fight ends.

A Surge in Wagon Repairs

The road from Fallcrest toward Hammerfast sees few, if any, events of interest. Little trade passes this way, and few travelers make the journey. That very day, in fact, has been relatively quiet. Birds sing in the distance, and some animals occasionally come into view, then leave again. In the distance, you see what looks like a squat wagon. Sounds of an angry person come from that direction. As you get closer, you see that it is a wagon, but its wheels lie broken on the ground. The traces are empty, so where the horses are is anybody's guess. A man looks at the wreckage, and then off to the south, and then back at the wagon, muttering angry words all the while.

If approached, the man says that he was carrying cargo from Fallcrest toward Hammerfast when his wheels splintered and then fell apart. In the resultant crash, the horses panicked, broke their traces, and ran off toward the south. The man's two brothers went off after the horses while the man remained to assess whether the wagon's wheels can be repaired.

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-45: The man is Niroon Skelan, and he is a trader. He works with his two brothers Velok and Serris Skelan. They have been traders for years, with many successful runs between Fallcrest and Hammerfast. They have even traded along the Old King's Road to Harkenwold. They have never had a problem like this before, and they thought that their wagon was in excellent shape.

46-60: The wagon was sabotaged by someone working for the merchant where the Skelan brothers got their goods (on the lower quays). This person is working for the Raven Roost bandits, and he or she makes it easy for the bandits to swoop down on the disabled wagons and rob them. Bandits do in fact attack poor Niroon Skelan and the PCs while they are alone at the wagon.

61-70: The wagon saboteur is in league with orcs from the Old Hills and the nearby woods instead of bandits. Orcs attack the PCs at the wagon site.

71-85: The wagon saboteur had a personal grudge against the Skelan family and is not connected to bandits. However, bandits in the vicinity see the running horses and find the disabled wagon anyway, creating an apparent connection between the saboteur and the bandits. Sorting that confusion out proves difficult because of the coincidental nature of the connection.

86-00: The saboteur is actually in the wagon. It is not a person or creature, but it is a magic item that rotted the wood of the wheels (and the whole wagon, which PCs can see once they closely examine it). This magic item was not supposed to be in the wagon, and the Skelans know nothing about it. But someone does, since it was put in the wagon by an agent in Fallcrest. The receiving party is supposed to attack the wagon near Hammerfast and recover the item. By this means, no one would have known it was being transported at all.

I Want My Ancestral Land

The Blue Moon Alehouse is the best inn in Fallcrest, and you've stopped by to try out the fine ales and beers. Your experience with Fallcrest also suggests that you can find adventure and glory here rather than at the cheap and rough Lucky Gnome. You are sitting and listening to a young singer tell of the later days of the great empire of Nerath when a man across the room stands up. He sways a little on his feet as he says, "Now that was a great time indeed! Those times should be restored!" Then he takes a deep breath, steadies himself, and says, "And I have come to do just that! With a little help, the greatest manor in this Vale can be great, and bring greatness with it. I need some heroes and can pay well for success. I'll post a notice tomorrow, but if there are heroes who laugh at danger here in this very room, come talk to me. I'll buy." And with that, he half-falls back into his chair and drains a mug.

d100 Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-35: The man introduces himself as Vencat Kalton, last of the Kalton family. He has come to restore Kalton Manor to greatness. To accomplish this, he needs to clear the denizens of the Witchlight Fens and the Harken Forest to a distance of about 10 miles from the manor itself, post his boundary, and hire people to keep the evil creatures out.

36-45: Vencat Kalton is the last of his family because he killed the rest off so that he could claim this frontier estate. He had never seen it and did not know what happened to Lord Arrol Kalton when he hatched this scheme. He is pretty motivated to clear it out and claim it because he really did not like killing off his family as much as he thought he would. Their deaths should mean something, he believes -- even though they died at his hands.

46-65: Kalton is finding the task of claiming his estate to be overwhelming because just about anything evil and nasty could be living in the Fens or the Harken Forest. In fact, a lot of nasty things do live there and any "heroes" who sign on with him have their work cut out for them.

66-75: The speaker is a very human-looking half-elf named Beroal Stalkan, a con artist and small-time criminal. He met and slew the real Vencat Kalton and is trying to claim the manor in his name.

76-85: On the other hand, there might be no Kalton family left in the world anywhere, and Stalkan is making it all up to that he can get in and loot the manor while the "heroes" are off slaying monsters in his name.

86-95: Goblins living in the Harken Forest are not going to take kindly to being evicted, though they could be hired to act as guards later if the PCs and Kalton/Stalkan can make the right deal.

96-00: "Kalton" could be just a drunk man in the tavern, with no connection to Kalton Manor of any kind. But if pressed, he could describe stories he has heard of the size of the treasure supposedly buried in or under the ruins of the manor.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.
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