Hero's of the Ghost Age
Book 1: The Reaving of Raven Hill
Chapter 1: To Catch a Rat
It was already late September and just a few short weeks away from leiunium Cereris the fasting day honoring the goddess Ceres. Tragedy had fallen the town of Raven Hill. Not only was the town overrun by rats again but someone had stolen the idol of Ceres from her shrine.
There was no doubt among the townspeople as to who was to blame. During the spring Lord Roufus Ravenhill hired the rat catcher Gunther of Fellberg to rid the town of it's rat problem. In an amazingly short period of time Gunther had managed to rid the town of rats but when he went to Lord Ravenhill to receive his fee Lord Ravenhill tossed him a single coin and told him to get out of town. Infuriated by this Gunther vowed that he would have his revenge on the town.
To make matters worse a particularly powerful goblin tribe had been southern farms under the protection of the town. Lord Ravenhill and the town guard had been hard pressed to keep them at bay. Melvin the Magnificent, a wizard who lived just outside the town, suggested that Lord Ravenhill entrust the recovery of the statue to his student and Lord Ravenhill's ward Lady Lydia Lydell and some other individuals from the town. Melvin suggested; Efisio Battiatus a recently arrived paladin of Minerva, Flint Frostbeard the towns dwarven smith, the halfling Petunia Thistledown, and Falkrune a dwarf mercenary. Lord Ravenhill was uncertain about Melvin's suggestions but he didn't have much of a choice.
The meeting was held at the town's keep. The keep had one floor of stone but the remaining levels were constructed of wood. Lord Ravenhill was suppose to complete the keep in stone but never had citing shortfalls of money though the townspeople largely agreed that this was just another example of Lord Ravenhill being a cheapskate.
The individuals Melvin had suggested met with Lord Ravenhill around mid day at the keep. Petunia had brought a pie along for the occasion. Lord Ravenhill, flanked by his two hounds, stood and said "A Tragedy has befallen us. As you know the rat infestation has gotten out of hand. No doubt the work of that no good rat catch Gunther of Fellberg. He has been seen lurking around the town at night. Some say he's been releasing the rats including some monstrously large specimens. That however is not the worst of his crimes. Last night the idol of Ceres was stolen from her shrine and eyewitness accounts point to Gunther as the perpetrator." Lord Raven hill paused for a moment eyeing the assembled group with doubt. He shook his head. "Melvin the Magnificent suggested I gather you lot to deal with this problem. I don't know why but I'm not one to argue with the wizard..... I'd do it myself of course but the town guard and I have been tied up chasing rats and dealing with the goblins who have been raiding the southern farms. I need help and I suppose you will have to do."
Lord Ravenhill got up and moved towards the door calling his hounds to heel. Before exiting though he picked up Petunia's pie inhaling the aroma "Ah still warm" he said with a slight smile. Without another word he left.
Without much else to go on the party decided to visit the shrine of Ceres which was located outside of town in the farm lands. There they found that the idol was indeed missing. Some of the offerings seems to have been disturbed as well. After searching about the structure for a little while Efisio found a set of boot tracks heading off into a field of grain.
The followed the tracks across the field to the edge of the Raven Wood. Just inside the forest the tracks came to a shallow stream but seemed to end abruptly. On the opposite bank a single large rat track could be seen in the mud. It was large enough to be a man's foot print. The rest of the bank was too rocky to pick up the immediate trail. After searching for some time they managed to pick up a trail of man sized foot tracks. Strangely the tracks seemed to have been left by an individual walking on two legs instead of all fours. It was getting late. "This looks like a good place to camp" Flint said. They set up a camp and divided watches. Petunia climbed a large oak tree because she did not feel safe on the ground.
"We're under attack!" shouted Efisio. Three goblins had rushed out of the brush and attacked the paladin of Minerva while he was on guard. Lydia, Flint, and Faulkrune awoke with goblins attacking them. Flint took a nasty hit before he was able to get to his feet.
The battle was hard fought especially since neither Flint nor Faulkrune had their armor on. Efisio battled three of the goblins but he had help from Petunia who fired her short bow from the three she was in. Eventually the goblins were dispatched and the party drug their corpses further from the camp. During Lydia's watch the mage sent her owl familiar Luna to get a better view of the area. What she saw disturbed her. A large two headed dog was dragging a pair of goblin corpses away from the pile the party had made and headed off to the north with them.
The party continued to follow the rat man trail to the north until they came to another stream with a very overgrown bridge. Across the bridge was an overgrown paved road which continued north. Though they couldn't find any more tracks the party continued to follow the road until they came upon some runes.
A man stepped out from a ruined door way. He had a large sack over his shoulder that seemed to be writhing with a dozen or more small creatures. The man spoke "Well I guess that cheap bastard Lord Ravenhill sent his finest to find me. You can tell Lord Tightpants that he can have the statue back from a mere 200 gold coins."
Efisio attempted to parlay with the man "Gunther, what if we could pay you what Lord Ravenhill promised you in the first place. Will you return the statue and remove the rat infestation?". "No deal!" shouted Gunther then he tossed the bag onto the ground. Rats came swarming out of the bag.
The paladin charge through the swarm and pinned Gunther to the ground. The rest of the party came to Efisio's aid and they managed to kill the rats and capture Gunther.
"We're taking you back to face some justice!" Efisio snarled. Gunther just laughed. As they were dragging Gunther back to town suddenly the rope went slack. On the ground was nothing more than a pile of clothing. "What's that!" Flint shouted. A large rat scurried off into the underbrush carrying a small pouch in it's mouth. Gunther had escaped.
Uncertain about what Gunther was and concerned about the two headed dog the party decided to visit the home of Melvin the Magnificent, Lydia's instructor, to see if he could had any knowledge that could help them.
Melvin lived in a small house just outside of town in the Raven wood. Oddly his home seemed larger on the inside that the outside. "I believe you are dealing with a Wererat" Melvin explained. "What's a Wererat?" Falkrune asked. "Well it's rather like a Werewolf but not quite so powerful. A wererat is a human infected by a strain Lycanthropy that turns one into a rat man". "How do we kill it?" Lydia asked. "Well I'm afraid normal weapons will have no effect on such a creature. You must use magic or enchanted weapons" the old wizard explained. "Can't you come with us to help us catch Gunther?" Efisio asked. "Oh no. No, no, no. I'm not much for adventures. They make one late for tea" Melvin chuckled. "Well do you know where we can get some enchanted weapons?" Falkrune asked. "I do know of a tale. There was a Knight named Balin who had a tower no far to the North. He died more than fifty years ago. He as said to have owned several enchanted weapons that he used to drive the undead from Raven Hill. He was also said to have been buried in his tower. It was frequently visited by pilgrims for some time until the undead returned to area. No one has ventured there in some time." the wizard explained.
Melvin turned and rummaged through a chest near the table he was sitting at. " I do have this small dagger. It's enchanted but not terribly powerful". He placed it on the table "You may borrow it". Petunia snatched the dagger off the table quicker that anyone could see. "Oh it's beautiful! Can I have it?" she asked. The mage nodded "Very well". Petunia drew the small blade and raised it above her head triumphantly. "I shall call you Aculeus!" she said with glee.
End Part 1
Notes: This is the first part of my new Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition campaign "Heroes of the Ghost Age" set in my group's home brew setting of Tellus. We've finished the first adventure and the party is almost third level but there were so many images I decided to split the report up into three parts to make it easier. Also the game took three sessions to complete so this is roughly where the first session left off.