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The Siege of Thresholdby Sean Meaney
FOR THE DUNGEON MASTER
The events that follow occur in the fateful year AC1009 during the Week without Magic but they do not begin there. Instead, they begin a decade earlier when acting on instructions from Baron Ludwig Von Hendriks, the Wizard known as Bargle the Infamous is directed to penetrate the Baron Sherlane’s residence of Tarnskeep and discover the Mint that the Baron Black Eagle suspects to be located there, and retrieve the coin dies without alerting Duke Stephan or Baron Sherlane to the loss.
Presented with an impossible task, Bargle contemplated his prospects of success and concluded that it would take an armed force to penetrate the Keep. Unfortunately Baron Sherlane and his loyal supporters, ever vigilant for those who intrude into the lands around Threshold that even the Duke’s Patrols would be noticed. The prospect of Threshold crushing any attempt at bringing an army of men to the edge of the Barony, even in small enough numbers needed to avoid notice, and billeting them until needed would be absolutely certain. Still Bargle was an intelligent Wizard and he hit upon a plan – and Bargle sought out a suitable mercenary army.
The leader of this Mercenary army was a warrior known as Marshal Khendon previously of the Heldann – accepting payment all lands bounded by Kings road Keep, Castellan Keep, and the City of Kelvin at a point when the ‘dust had settled’ and Von Hendriks was King.
Bargle arranged to bring them as small companies to the very borders of the Barony of Sherlane, almost in sight of Threshold, evading the open roads, into the Black Woods where he employed Massmorph to turn Men and Horse into a Veritable forest. By the end of the year two hundred professional mercenaries and their mounts were secretly billeted in the Black Woods where they would await re-emergence when their Commander would lead them against Threshold.
Bargle, Sensing an Opportunity, has also employed the services of another Warband. Force Commander Phee and his horde have been tucked away in the Mountain pass between Threshold and Armstead – with instructions to ride south and destroy the town.
Now some ten years on, the Machinations of Immortals has damned the world of Mystara to a week without Magic. For the People of Threshold this is a disaster as a small army appears on its fringes, freed from their enchantments.
This morning brought some fresh disaster to Threshold though most would not know it or care. Master Lucius Tarv, a well known Wizard and teacher of young Wizards found himself struck down with some malady that prevented the working of Magic. To the horror of the Wizards of Threshold, it had spread undetected amongst their small population as an epidemic till all were sick with it.
Attempts to heal the afflicted were prevented as Clerics proved unwilling or unable to invoke even the simplest cure. Panic now. Had the Immortals turned its back on them all? Magic Items failed, Wizard and Cleric alike were cut off. Without Wizards and Priests, Threshold was naked with only the sword to compel obedience to the authority of the state.
Hook: The Bull and Bear
Description: The PCs are abducted and taken to the cellars of the Backwash Tavern where they are to be the Guest Fighters in tonight’s Bull and Bear fight.
Hook: Dispatch Riders Needed
The PCs are employed to deliver a message to Verge (and return with a reply) in order to discern whether this loss of Magic and Clerical ability is further spread than Threshold.
A TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Ambyrmont 13, Evening: Twenty mounted horsemen wearing the tabard of the King’s Guard ride out of the darkness of Twilight toward the South Gate intent on beating the closing of the Gate. The Guards wait for them to make it through, realizing only as they are cut down that they have erred. In a quick conflict the Guardsmen at South Gate are killed and the Gates held open as nearly one hundred and fifty more horsemen emerge from the darkness and enter the town of Threshold.
Note: Dispatch Riders meeting this force on the road to Verge will be attacked on sight. The PCs have DC20 chance of a Spot check (though Darkvision or Infravision of Elves and Dwarves will reduce that to DC8).
Ambyrmont 13, Midnight: The Town is ablaze with Horsemen Rampant in the Streets torching anything that isn’t burning and riding down anyone in their way.
Note: The PCs realize something is amiss when the Burning Roof Beam of the Tavern falls through the Cellar Roof into their fight pit. Emerging from the Tavern they find the Town in Chaos.
Ambyrmont 14, Pre-Dawn: With the Chaos of Threshold drawing pretty much every soldier from the Castle of Tarnskeep, Marshal Khendon and fifty soldiers enter the Castle through the Sub Aquatic Lakeside Gate. They are using an A- frame and rope and pulley to lift the Gate.
Note: Castle Tarnskeep consists of a Large Chapel surrounded by a Double Wall with Tower-Keeps at the corners. Between the Walls are long Hallways used to store Supplies during Sieges linking the Various Tower-keeps. Marshal Khendon finds these lower levels empty of all but Servants taking shelter during the crisis.
Ambyrmont 14, Mid-day: Khendon has secured Tarnskeep – capturing the Baron (Aleena has slipped his grasp by leading men into Threshold to fight the invaders).
Ambyrmont 14, Evening: Khendon herds all prisoners into the Chapel and sets fire to the Keep to cover his replacement of the Coin Dies with fakes. Khendon then retreats to the town of Threshold to marshal his forces.
Note: Refugees from this Crisis have been fleeing by boat down river to Kelvin. Baron Kelvin will now be aware that Threshold is under attack. While he can have Crossbowmen there within a day by Riverboat, His two hundred Horsemen will take at least two days to arrive in Threshold.
Ambyrmont 14, Midnight: Drawn to Threshold by the inferno, Force Commander Phee moves south out of the Darkness past the burning Tarnskeep and enters the North Gate of Threshold.
Note: If the Dispatch Riders have done their Job they will have returned with a force of one hundred men from Verge and entered the town via the Southern Gate of Threshold.
Marshal Khendon: Fighter L22; Neutral; 83 hp; S13, I11, W11, D15, C8, Ch11; Equipment: Bastard Sword +5/+10 v. Clerics, Fullplate Armor, Warhorse.
Description: A warrior by way of Heldann, Anyone caught thinking that the reason he looks nothing like his father is because his mother had hairy apes in the royal bed will be quickly killed. Other than that, Khendon is a Warrior and leader of Men with considerable battlefield experience. Although offered a Barony in Payment, he intends to be King.
Force Commander Phee: Fighter L20; Chaotic; 35 hp; S16, I7, W14, D8, C8, Ch13; Plate-mail, Shield, Bastard Sword.
Description: Insane on the best of Days, he is an Unmitigated Arse of a man whom most would consider comparable to the stale rot floating on stagnant seas. Despite these flaws, he is a violent and brutal opponent – Marshal Khendon being his one true enemy in the World.
ENCOUNTERS IN THE BATTLE FOR THRESHOLD
1D12 Encounter 1 Aleena and her men are cornered. PCs could help out. 2 Riders burning Homes. PCs could rescue the victims. 3 Riders comming down street. PCs could do battle. 4 Khendon spotted giving his troops orders. PCs might take a shot with Longbows. 5 Thieves taking advantage of the Anarchy attack the PCs 6 Mistaken Identity. Riders are realy Troops from Verge. 7 Building Collapses. PCs might rescue victims from Burning Rubble. 8 Explosion. A Store of Alcohol Barrels explodes for 20d6 demolishing surrounding buildings. Injuring PCs and NPCs. 9 Phee spots PCs and orders soldiers to Kill them. PCs might take a shot. 10 Battle. Multiple Combatants converge and the PCs are in the middle. 11 Panicked Citizens fleeing agressors/fire trample the PCs. 12 Assassin. Someone with a grudge is shooting at the PCs from a Rooftop. Disappears into back alley.