702 The Merry Women – Lv2 Shadowdark Adventure

Whenever you hear a child ask: Why does the sun come and go? Do not hesitate to respond: Because there can be no light without darkness.

Old Saying

Many people believe things can be easily divided or categorized into two main domains: good and evil. But life is way more complicated than that. There is always a bit of selfishness in an otherwise kindhearted paladin’s goals. The actions of criminal guild leaders or criminal masterminds often have traces of the strongest determination and courage. Even if their goals seem evil to many, it is just because the one judging has a different worldview.

The Merry Women

In the peaceful town of Edwinstowe, there was a group called “The Merry Women”. These brave gals have the main objective to help the poor. However, their idea of justice is communal in nature. They believe the rich have too much and the poor too little. In their minds, they bring balance to the world by stealing from those who have more and distributing it among those in need.

Most of the people on the receiving end of things agree with the radical group’s philosophy. And some of the wealthy are so filthy rich that they could not care less if their coffers lose some gold. It is nothing but crumbs for them, and these things often come with the status. But of course, Edwinstowe’s authorities are not happy. They have received countless complaints and reports about the women brigands. To make matters worse, the Merry Women’s actions have caused enmity between the social classes. For instance, some of the poor stopped working. They now wait for the women heroes to gift them gold. On the other hand, the rich who lost their patience hired mercenaries to recover their goods from the brigands.

Hard Choices

The characters are presented with a complicated situation in Edwinstowe. The Merry Women’s actions are good for many but bring negative consequences for others. There is no perfect method or way to play this adventure. The heroes must decide if they should stop the Merry Women’s operation, help them, or find a different solution. Because of all the things involved, it is very unlikely to have a happy ending for everyone.

Adventure Hooks

  • Edwinstowe’s Agents (30 gp, 3 XP). Constable Ryno hires the characters. Their orders are to find the wom­en’s hideout in the woods and arrest them all. However, the city shall understand if lethal force must be used.
  • Negotiators. The characters are aware of the town’s situation and wish to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. They believe they may find a solution and persuade the Merry Women’s leader, Robin, to stop her operations. Or perhaps they can convince the brigand to move their ille­gal affairs elsewhere. The characters travel to the woods to negotiate or talk with the Merry Women.

Level 2 Adventure

  • Danger. Unsafe. Check for a Random Event every 3 crawling rounds and after loud noises (4-in-6 chance).
  • Light. The woods are dark at night. The characters must bring torches or lamps to light their way. The Mer­ry Women cannot see in the dark but know this forest by heart. The monsters in the woods are dark-adapted.
1 The characters find a clear series of footprints. There is a silver ring (50 sp) forgotten in the mud (DC 11 WIS check).
2 A hive of wasps hides by the foliage. A random character’s head or a torch (if any) bumps with it if they fail to spot it (DC 11 WIS check). If this happens, all the characters take 1 damage unless they get out of the wasps’ way quickly (DC 12 DEX check).
3 An unnatural current of air traverses the entire forest. All braziers are put down. All areas become dark.
4 A squad of three soldiers stumbles with the characters. They were sent by Constable Ryno. If the characters do not know the constable’s name, the soldiers assume they are sided with the Merry Women. If Ryno hired them, the soldiers join the party.
5 Two thugs were hired by rich people to recover valuables. They ignore the characters if they ignore them.
6 The characters see a group of five boar piglets. If they interact with them in any way, their mother (boar) attacks relentlessly.

1. Forest Entrance

The characters must find their way through the woods (DC 12 WIS). On a fail, they stumble upon 2d3 wolves. The heroes may surrender 10 pounds of food to be left alone. Otherwise, they must fight. They reach this area if they succeed or after their encounter with the wolves.

2. South Clearing

If the characters fail their check by 5 or more (see above), they approach this area after their encounter with the wolves. A thief hides in the foliage (DC 15 WIS). He fol­lows the heroes and waits for a chance to act.

3. North Clearing

Tina and Dana (bandits) belong to the Merry Wom­en. They smoke, laugh, and chat and may not hear the characters if they are stealthy. The lovers are jumpy and doubt the newcomers’ intentions (Reaction). If things go sour, Dana risks her life to protect Tina’s retreat.

4. Narrow Path

The central rock formation has a strange opening. There is a secret passageway concealed by black cloth at the far end (DC 12 WIS). It leads to area 9. To find it, howev­er, one must squeeze through the dark, cold stone.

5. Southwest Clearing

If the characters fail their check to traverse the forest by 7 or more (see area 1), they begin their journey through this area after their encounter with the wolves.

  • Sir Richard. A man in shiny armor meditates while sitting on a rock, his blade rests beside him. The ar­mored man introduces himself and says he pledged loy­alty to Robin, the leader of the Merry Women. If allowed to explain, he says it is thanks to them that he could re­cover his lands, wealth, and reputation. He shall stop and fight all who oppose her and her friends (Reaction).

6. Pile of Bones

Most of the ossuary remains belong to beasts and ani­mals. A few of them are human (DC 10 WIS). A pack of wolves corners or drags their prey here to eat.

The Merry Women have been in these woods for a long time; they have given so much food to the several wolf packs that the canines are neutral if not friendly to the brigands. But when the characters pass through here it is not the same story. Four wolves surround the charac­ters when they approach the bones. The heroes may of­fer food to distract them but this trick is futile if they used violence to deal with the wolves before area 1 because the wolves smell the blood of their brethren.

7. Hideout Entrance

The characters reach the hideout’s entrance. The voice of a woman singing popular folk songs breaks the silent night. The Merry Women are aware of the characters’ presence if they do nothing to conceal it. This does not stop the singing, it is all part of the brigands’ ruse.

8. The Hideout

The Merry Women are eight-heads strong. Five women in leather armor (bandits) stand beside Robin (thief), their leader. Consider the following for this encounter:

  • Law Enforcers. The characters come to arrest them. Robin is in no mood to parley or negotiate. If the Merry Women are aware of the characters’ arrival, Robin hides between the bed sheets, and her friends stall the intrud­ers to buy her time to either attack or escape.
  • The characters wish to find a solution that satisfies both or all parties. This is hard but not im­possible. Robin is too headstrong and she does not want to stop. But perhaps there is a better, healthier place for her Merry Women to operate and bring balance to the world. However, there are no guarantees (Reaction).
  • Tina and Dana. If the characters do not meet them in area 3, the two bandits arrive to help their leader if a battle starts. In the case the heroes fought and harmed them, this breaks all possible negotiations with Robin. The Merry Women shall fight to avenge their friends.
  • Sir Richard. If the heroes do not meet the knight, he joins the Merry Women in area 8 a little after the charac­ters arrive. He shall defend his friends with his life and allow Robin to escape if the need presents itself.
  • Treasure (3 XP). The bandits’ belongings and small valuables are collectively worth 20 gp. The characters can only take this if they arrest or defeat all the Merry Women and get rid of Sir Richard. The same goes for the knight’s sword, armor, and 10 gp he carries with him.

9. Robin’s Quarters

The leader’s room has a bed, a desk, and a small chest. The papers and documents are stolen diaries, books, and a series of Robin’s notes about politicians, mer­chants, and other prospective future targets.

  • Notes. Constable Ryno’s name is here. With it, a pair of documents that prove the constable’s involvement in obscure dealings and corrupt operations to wash money, transport stolen goods, and take advantage of the town’s resources for all these purposes. This may cause the characters to ask themselves: “Are we the baddies?
  • Treasure (1 XP). Inside the wooden chest, Robin keeps a leather bag with 100 sp and a couple of clothes, simple traveling gear, a spare leather backpack, and her diary which describes the Merry Women’s exploits.

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