Hello students, Crunch here with an article from Faculty Member Ryan Porta. In this article, he introduces us to the city of Redfern, describes what makes it unique, and provides some plot hooks to use. The intention of this article is not only to demonstrate how to generate home-brew content, but also to give you some pre-made content for your home games. Use these details as you with, or simply let them inspire your own creations.
Town of Redfern
Anyone that has lived in the region long enough has probably heard of the town of Redfern. But that is as far as it goes. You won’t find it on a map. Only a few people can point you in the right direction. Fewer still have proven to be correct. Most wandering adventurers that come to the region in search of Redfern are simply laughed at, and told to push on. But for those few that won’t be turned away, if they get lost in the right mountain valley, it can be found.
The town of Redfern appears to be nothing more than a small hamlet as you make your way down from the mountain side. The worn dirt path begins about 30 paces from the short stone wall that rings the settlement. Most of the stones are worn smooth, untouched by disaster or siege for ages.
The simple stonework continues on in the building of the houses and buildings. The walls of nearly all the houses and buildings are made of grey rock that must have come from the mountain side. They are patched together with a light brown muddy mixture. Roofs are covered by layered straw thatching. The town appears in great condition for such basic architecture.
Beyond the simply constructed homes of the residents, and the half dozen wooden booths that a few use for trading goods, there is one major landmark to take note of. In the center of town, there is a short, circular wall. This wall consists of just 2 layers of stacked stones in a circle, about 25 feet in diameter. There is one break in the ‘wall’, on the east side of the circle. A dirt patch spans the entry way about 5 feet to either side. Inside this circle of stones, grows a single type of knee high bush. Anyone viewing it for the first time understands how the town gets its name. The bush has a dozen or so deep red veins sprouting from the center stalk. Those are covered in bright green finger-long leaves, the red veins continuing to the tips. The ground is soft, moist, and should support any other seed that drifts into the soil. However, underneath the stems show no other type of plant growing in the soil.
The inhabitants of Redfern are evenly split between humans and gnomes. A most unlikely split for sure, but all the people seem to get along in perfect harmony. Small children run and play while the adults and young people carry on with their chores and daily activities. You notice almost no elderly moving about in the town.
The majority of the human townsfolk are farmers. A pair of homes is surrounded by livestock fences. A few goats, pigs, and chickens are seen walking around.
The skilled labors are run by the gnomes. These include the blacksmith, tanner, chief builder, and quartermaster. Despite the size of the town, each keeps busy with their tasks at hand.
The small town also has a longhouse, a storehouse, and large poultice shop. The longhouse lacks a door and benches can be seen within. The storehouse is one large building, but several entrances, to separate its contents. The only identifying symbol on the poultice shop is the sign over the door. No letter or name is carved into it. There is only the picture of a pestle and mortar.
BENEATH THE SURFACE (For the DM to know, and the players to discover)
The residents of Redfern are protective of the healing effects of the strange plant in the center of town. This is due to a medicinal paste made from its leaves. When the paste is applied to the skin, it can heal most wounds (but it does not regrow limbs) and diseases in 24 hours or less. Continued use slows the effects of aging. However, there is a downside in the form of various addictive properties. The physical addiction is as strong as the mental addiction, and once hooked, the paste must be used at least once in a tenday. The vast majority of the gnomes and about 1/3 of the humans in the town of Redfern are addicted to this drug. They will do anything to keep the plant and drug for themselves. Those that aren’t addicted probably have a loved one who is. They do not leave because they are not yet allowed, and the knowledge of the plant must be kept as secret as possible.
The town’s leader is an old gnome, Spec Fakisshmer. He is one of the few elderly residents of the town. Despite his apparent age, and use of a cane, he looks to be in very good health. Outwardly, he is friendly and accommodating, quickly asking any travelers to the poultice shop if they need aid or rest. If travelers stay longer than they need to, or show any interest beyond curiosity toward the redfern plant, he becomes very distrustful and suspicious. If the travelers continue to stay, he is likely to become offensive and gruff, and the other gnomes in the town follow his lead.
While he is addicted to the paste made from the redfern plant, he has developed a desire to produce and sell the paste, making himself and the town very rich by doing so. While most of the gnomes are on board with his idea, he has had hard time convincing all of the humans. The humans see this drug as a wonderful curse. Their lifespans are still short even with the drug, and the wish its addiction on no-one else.
The correct mixing formula for the paste has been kept secret as long as anyone in the town can remember. The keeper of the formula is currently Marian Silva. She and her daughter reside and operate the poultice shop. If they were to mix the paste incorrectly, the effects have a toxic effect, and causes internal organs to shut down, killing users within days.
Residents of the town of Redfern appear simple and poor to anyone outside of the town. In truth, they are very rich when compared to any other town in the continent. Hidden from visitors, the wealth and valuable equipment from past raiders and greedy adventurers has been equally divided amongst the townspeople. There are no gravestones for the deceased adventurers, or of the townspeople. Corpses are placed under the leaves of the redfern bushes. The plants consume the bodies within several days, even nullifying the rotting smell. The townsfolk believe this is where the red in the leaf veins come from.
If any adventurers come into town with the notion to steal or sell the plants for wealth, Spec becomes very defensive and will do what he can to turn them away. However, given the right motivation or skill check, he might be willing to enter into a plot with the adventurers. He might hire them to steal the formula from the poultice shop (and later betray them), so he no longer needs Marian Silva and her daughter, Mary.
Mary hates the idea of being trapped in the town any longer. She does not want to take over for her mother. Marian is old, ill, and at the end of her life. She refuses to use the redfern paste to extend her life. Given the chance, Mary may ask the adventurers to take her away from the town, begging them to make sure it is as soon as they can. She doesn’t wish to hurt her mother and asks that she not be told of her plan. (She will do the best she can to leave a message for her mother if a deal is reached.)
A greedy or sneaky thief may find a cache of hidden valuables among one of the townsfolks’ belongings. Without a source, and not a lot of travel, this should raise a lot of questions regarding its origins. A successful Investigation or perception check may reveal possible inscriptions or recognizable markings confirming it is not from the town.
If the DM wishes, the party could enter the village while a fresh corpse is beneath the redferns. The NPCs should be reluctant to answer the adventurers’, and avoid doing so if they can. Spec should enter as soon as possible, and try to change the subject. The evasiveness of the inhabitants should be enough to get the adventurer’s suspicions raised.
Should any traveler arrive in Redfern, claiming to just pass through, they will find no exit road out of Redfern. This is because the townsfolk do not allow people to learn about the town and then leave. Initially, Spec and the rest of the townspeople are friendly, doing all they can to make the newcomers feel welcome. Once any of the adventurers mention leaving, they become concerned and block their exit. Asking Marian or Mary for information on leaving is first met with avoidance. Pressing the issue and/or the correct skill checks may clue the party in on the towns “no escape” policy.
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