|By lundqvist from DeviantArt|
I've had this idea for a while of running an open table at my local gaming store. The idea is that the players start at the Keep on the Borderlands, find a rumour they want to follow up on, explore the land, raid a dungeon and end the session back at the Keep. With that in mind I've been looking up some ideas. Mainly I've been reading the Frog God/Necromancer Games stuff since it fits the feel I'm looking for. Less story, more adventure. Part of the plan is to transform Fairhill from the Crucible of Freya into the Keep. I decided that every NPC needs a secret, something that will lead into an adventure and this is what I came up with for the Captain of the Watch.
Baran One-Hand, Captain of the Watch
The Watch Captain of Fairhill Keep is gruff man, particularly with those claiming to be “adventurers”. He arrived at the Keep a little over ten years ago as a caravan guard. Then the mercenary hired on as part of the watch. Not long after the Keep was attacked by a contingent of orc marauders. During the battle he proved himself to be a great warrior and was promoted to Watch Captain by Duke Arlen himself replacing the previous Captain who had fallen during the battle. Since that time Baran has shown great skill as the leader of the Watch and has garnered the trust and respect of those that live in the Keep including the its temporal leader Duke Arlen and its Spiritual leader Shandril. Despite his honorable and brave exterior Baran hides a dark secret. Baran claims that he lost his hand fighting swamp trolls long ago. While this is partially true, the reality is that those trolls were in the service of Koraashag, then a lowly but ambitious priest of Orcus. Using a vile and obscure necromantic ritual Koraashag hacked off Baran’s right hand with a ceremonial dagger. The ritual cursed Baran and bonded him into the service of the priest. Baran is forever compelled to do Koraashag’s bidding as if he had a geas spell cast on him. The priest tasked him to infiltrate the Keep as his personal spy. The cult knows that Keep holds a strategic location along the trade way and as a defense against further expansion into the area. Baran has allowed the Koraashag’s agent, Tavik and his orc minions to move into Eralion’s abandoned Keep. He is sick with grief at his part in letting evil take hold in the area and his betrayal of Duke Arlen and the priestess Shandril’s trust. He has tried on many occasions to rid himself of the curse but the magic prevents himself from speaking of it or from even killing himself. Baran is able to communicate with Koraashag who is now a high priest in the cult of Orcus and is based out of the Stoneheart Dungeon via his stump. Whenever Koraashag or Baran wishes to communicate the stump transforms into a grotesque and monstrous mouth. This stump-monster speaks with a demonic voice and can make a bite attack with vicious shark-like teeth that ring the mouth. Likewise, Koraashag is able to listen and speak through Baran’s necromantically preserved right hand. Baran is not a bad man. He regrets that he didn’t die in that battle with the trolls all those years ago. The only way to lift the curse is to find Koraashag and destroy the hand on the alter of the new Temple of Orcus (Level 4, room 15) of the Stoneheart Dungeon (See Tomb of Abysthor).