This works best with a party that contains a thief. The party is in the capital city of Gunthenor for the first time. It is usually appropriate for thieves to visit or register with the local guild. Alternately, a member of the guild may seek them out, make friends and then later try to steer them with a tip if the party is looking for an adventure or work.
The guild master (or new friend), Nelbin, should eventually meet up with the party. He isn't someone to be totally trusted, although this has to be discovered over time. He isn't evil, just has his own agenda. He is or has been a thief at some point in his life. He doesn't relate all he knows and tries to paint a picture of a ruthless baron practically kidnapping his friend. He doesn't want to tell the party too much, because if captured they won't know anything. He is concerned that the baron might become proactive if he finds out that someone is trying to check up on him.
Nelbin relates the following:
Up in the remote Northlands the local baron has unjustly imprisoned a friend [maybe]. I ask you to rescue a personal friend [true] who did no wrong other than travelling through the area with too many gems in his possession [partial truth]. I have tried to rescue him myself, but failed [lie]. I was captured, and let go with a stern warning [lie]. I do not believe I would be so lucky if my face was seen again [true].
(What's your friends name?)
Leafloc, an elf and a good archer. [a good thief too]
(Where exactly is it?)
An associate of mine, Prelenna, can act as a guide. She is a good guide, but not much of a fighter. She will take you to the keep, but will not enter.
This tale is full of half-truths. The baron worries the guild and Nelbin in particularly. The baron has risen to power in a remote area, the wild woods of the Northlands. Information and intelligence on him is limited. Nelbin knows he likes to stay secluded, but has allies within the governmental hierarchy. He has shun any contact with the guild. Attempts to contact him have gone unanswered, sometimes the messenger doesn't return. The baron has a strong hold on his territory and works both sides of the legal fence. He conducts raids on some towns or trade routes, while others are protected. No one is aware of any of this.
Nelbin first met the baron [he thinks] face to face after he was captured after infiltrating the barons main [he thinks] fortress. He was sneaking around inside the fortress when something landed at his feet. Whatever it was caused the immediate area to go completely silent. He turned and saw a man with bright yellow eyes at the end of the hallway staring at him. Then he heard strange words in his mind that he recognised as some kind of spell, soon after he fell fast asleep. When he awoke he was imprisoned.
Nelbin is a Good thief and was finally able to escape. Over time he was able to collect enough pieces of scrap metal to create a crude pick. He then slunk in the shadows of night until he reached a small store room. There he was able to create a secret/false hole in one wall and make his escape.
Unbeknownst to Nelbin is that the baron is of a strange race called the Senders [ see below ]. Nelbin also doesn't realise that his run in was with the barons only son.
The stronghold is in the wilderness of the north. This particular stronghold is not the barons main quarters, but merely one of several outposts. The baron is known to maintain patrols over a large area. What is not known is that the baron maintains odd alliances. The fortress is currently being guarded by a band of goblins. In other areas the baron has employed humans, mercenaries, orcs, and even an ogre or two. He tries to keep racial skirmishes to a minimum by separating races where he can. As far as the baron knows, his prisoner is a poor thief he caught investigating. The Sender at this particular outpost turns out not to be the baron, but the barons only son. The guards at his outposts are well fed and organised. Usually reporting to a human captain.
The structure is a 2 story keep, two guard towers in the front with a battlement that runs across the front and halfway down the east/west sides. There are few windows. The front battlement covers a small courtyard that doubles as a small stable area. Oil holes and an arrow slit over the centre aid in the defence of larger scale assaults. If they have hot oil prepared is up to you. Tree cover makes it reasonably easy to approach.
Size of the structure and the number of guards is dependent on how strong the party is and how difficult the rescue is intended to be. The storage room is located in a back corner, there is some shrubbery and undergrowth in front of the hole.
The stairs in the middle of the structure give an idea of where the stairs leading down to the jail area are. Obviously the inside needs to be detailed. If a full lower level is desired it can also be detailed.
+----( )-------( )----| |----( )------( )------+ | | | | | tower | battlement area | tower | |__________| _ _ _ _ _|_ _ _|_ _ _ _ _ |___________| | | | | | | | | | b. a. b. a. | | | | | ^ ^ v | | v | | | _ _ _ _ _| | _ _ _ _ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | |_| | | |_| | |___ |-| | | | |-| | |SR| | | | | +x---( )----------------------------------( )------+
If the party is able to make the break out and escape, but does not kill the Sender, they hear as they are making their break:
"My father the baron will be greatly angered by this...."
A race of humans that have the gift of limited telepathy. They can speak to humans and most intelligent humanoids using their mind. The recipient can hear the Senders thoughts as if they were clearly spoken in their native language. The Senders can not read a persons thoughts, just place their thoughts as if spoken. Senders have a minimum of Good intelligence. It is unknown if the Senders are a separate race, or a human mutation. The Senders ten to have been either leaders of men or persecuted by the fearful.