The next read-aloud text is a monologue you can tell the party to get them started on an investigation adventure. As it is written, the person speaking is the captain of the guard in a middle sized town, he knows the PCs and probably has hired them before. The feudal lord in town is called Baron Jodenyk and he is a cruel ruthless man. Feel free to modify or adapt all this information to your own game, if you already have NPC equivalents for a feudal lord and captain guard then it is as simple as replacing the names.
Baron Jodenyk is not a man to cross. Rumor has it he came into his position by betraying and killing his own father. I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t the captain of his guard back then, that guy also died under strange circumstances.
I’m worried I kid you not; but for the moment this is my place and I cannot do much about that. The reason I really wanted to have a word with you is this, we all know winter is around the corner and if last years’ story is not to be repeated, then the grain storages should be full be the end of the week.
Therein lies the problem, two of my men went missing three days ago after their grain collection duty at McFeggan’s farms. Dill McFeggan is a regular farmer, I’ve even met him a few times for a drink or two at the town’s square. He keeps to himself most of the time, but after two mugs of dark ale he is more talkative; last time I saw him he told me and one of my men how he was tired of being a farmer and wanted to see the world and start a… forgive me, I’m getting carried away as usual.
What I meant to say, is that yesterday I sent 4 guards to find out what had happened the day before, and collect the damn grain. Only they did not return again. I dare not go myself, assuming something is really out of the ordinary, I cannot be missed here in town. On the other hand I fear to inform Baron Jodenyk, I bet my winter grain he’d take it personal and go himself with half the town guard. And that never ends right. Did you hear about the massacre at the docks two months ago? It was the Baron, but you certainly did not hear that from me.
I lie not to you, there’s something amiss and it might even be dangerous. But you and your partners have served the town before; I trust you and there will be a reward for you, there will even be a bonus for you if you can keep it quiet so the Baron never learns about this. I just hope the men I sent… Maybe you’ll find them alive, three of their wives are nagging me and I’d hate to be the one who delivers any bad news.
If the PCs take the hook then they will have to travel a day to reach McFeggan’s farms. A single “random” encounter on the way would suffice to make this short travel worth while.
What’s wrong at the farm?
Here are some ideas of what happened at Dill McFeggan’s farms. The ideas account for the 6 missing guards and the other information in the hook above.
- Dill McFeggan has recently become tired of the farmer’s life. One day, searching through his father’s belongings he came a cross an old leather bound book. The book’s content was all about creating a summoning circle with elaborate runes and a blood sacrifice. Dill sacrificed a cow and the ritual was complete. The air parted and something came out from it. It looked human but had spiral horns and goat feet. The Faun Archfey greeted Dill and offered him to be his envoy. After swearing allegiance to the Archfey, Dill was imbued with magical power (he became a warlock). The guards who came to collect the grain fell for Dill’s charm magic. They are in the farm, guarding it. Dill’s plan is to gather more men at arms and not give any grain to the Baron.
- Dill McFeggan and the 6 guards are dead. A week ago, a small band of orcs came across the farm by coincidence. They killed Dill and the guards when they came. Since the farm doesn’t have any close neighbors, no one else has noticed yet.
- Ferdannia is an evil hag that took home at Dill McFeggan’s farm the past moon. Human minds cannot resist the psychic onslaught of the hag. With nothing but a thought, she can render a person harmless. People become her faithful servants, after a time she just eats them, but this time she is getting ready for something important. Humans are too young a race to understand the planar calendars. Ferdannia is aware that a multi-alignment of moons and planes will occur during the next full moon. It will not be repeated during the lifetime of any living being. She plans to sacrifice ten subdued victims during the full moon. In the farm house’s cellar, she has Dill and 4 guards as prisoners. The other two guards resisted her magic so she killed and ate them.
- Dill McFeggan recently decided he is in open rebellion. He holds a big percentage of the county’s grain. Recently, he hired a group of sellswords and decided he can stay out the winter. His sellswords are fierce and as long as they get paid they will hold their ground. Dill’s plan is a very bad one, the Baron is cruel and if he gets informed of this he will march with 50 soldiers and will hang Dill and his sellswords.
- The case is simpler but more arcane than anyone believes. While searching through his father’s belongings, Dill McFeggan found an old engraved wooden box. Inside the box he found a set of dice for gambling games. The dice are enchanted with an Antipathy/Sympathy spell with the Sympathy variant. Dill fell for the enchantment and had no option but to start playing dice games by himself. When the first two guards showed up to collect the grain , Dill invited them to play dice and they could not resist the strong charm. The next day 4 guards showed up. They too joined the game. So far the game has lasted three days straight and they are in danger of starving to death since they cannot leave the game. While this sounds funny, the Antipathy/Sympathy spell is a dangerous affair. As soon the PCs approach the farm house they must roll a Wisdom saving throw (DC 15). In case they all fail the saving throw, they can try again after 24 hours as stated in the spell description.
These are just suggestions, please feel free to take what you want. The illustration features Dill McFeggan’s farm house and surrounding land. Depending on the reason for the collection delay it might well serve as a battlemap.