Well Met on the Road
Do your PCs assume that everyone they meet on the open road is an enemy ready to attack them, kill them, or rob them? Perhaps that’s because most people they meet on the road do just that. But the roads of a prosperous nation should be filled with innocent travelers who are more likely to shy away from your band of weathered adventurers or travel with them for added protection. Here are some groups of travelers ready to hit the roads but not hit your PCs. Use them to add colorful details to your world or to kick off your next adventure. Use NPC tables in chapter 4 of the DUNGEON MASTER’S GUIDE flesh them out further.
Aeryx Linnar is a half-elf designer and seller of fashionable shirts and robes (expert 5; Appraise +8, Craft (sewing) +10). He is short, even for a half-elf, with curly dark hair, a tiny mouth, and the shadow of a mustache. He wears ornate, loose-fitting clothing and lots of jewelry. Aeryx is traveling to a nearby village to marry his human bride, Krista Ghael. Most of his family and a few prominent people from the human town where Aeryz grew up are traveling with him. Right beside him are his elven father, who looks like an older version of Aeryx, and his mother, who is also short but has blonde hair, deep-set eyes, and a rounded nose. Aeryz has made sure that everyone in the group is well attired. The entire bridal party sings and jests as it walks along, offering warm comments and drinks to strangers.
A group of rural ranchers are taking four cattle to the butcher in the city. The leader is Ludenth (male human commoner 5), an older, wizened man who has been to the city many times before. He is accompanied by two young, naive relatives, Blod and Bron (both commoner 2), both visiting the city for the first time. The group started with five animals but had to give one up as а toll to a band of highway robbers, so they are very wary of armed strangers.
DEAD BODY AND ESCORT
А covered horse-drawn cart moves slowly along the road, carrying the dead body of Rostan Gateblade, an old warrior from the local city guard. The cart and horse are covered with black cloth and tassels. They are followed by the man’s aging widow, Kiy (female fighter 2), who is dressed in studded leather armor from her own days in the guard. Following her are a few friends and Toran Banat (male human cleric 4), a gray-haired, tight-lipped priest of Kord from the city’s House of the Dead.
The procession is very solemn, and any questions from the PCs will be answered in short whispers.
Cyftan is a healer (expert 6; Heal +11) who specializes in ailments of the mouth and making wooden teeth. He travels from town to town, setting up shop in the open markets or outside the gates. He walks along his route, but carries his supplies and personal belongings on a donkey. Cyftan has short black hair, large bushy eyebrows, and perfect teeth. He is always jovial, even when his patients are in pain. Cyftan welcomes company and conversation and cant help staring at the PC’s teeth while they talk.
Drilath (female human ranger 3) is a rider for a private courier service. She is in a hurry to make her delivery and can only spare a few minutes to talk. She and her impressive horse wear white livery marked with a rolled-up scroll tied with a gold ribbon. Her leather pouch contains a letter from a local goldsmith to the head priest of the temple of St. Cuthbert. She has not read the letter and will not allow the PCs to do so.
Most of the household servants of Count Jalhat Lemmund a local noble, are on their way to prepare his seasonal home before he arrives. The group consists of eight servants, two hired guards (male human warrior 5) and a train of three mule-drawn wagons piled high with furniture, bedding, and provisions. The leader is the count’s chief steward, Dustin (male elf bard 4). He has written
a song to remember everything they have to do when they arrive and he sings it softly to himself and counts off tasks on his fingers as he walks along.
PRISONER AND GUARDS
Helek Higharm (male halforc fighter 4) and two young soldiers (human warrior 1) guard a dangerous prisoner on his way to be sentenced in the city. The prisoner is Ildray (male human rogue 4; Escape Artist +5), a hired killer who attempted to kill a prosperous merchant. His hands are tied tightly behind his back (Escape Artist DC 20) and his legs are tied together on a short lead so he cant run. Helek rides on horseback while the other soldiers and ldray travel on foot.
A dwarf, a man, and a gnome walk beside a cart drawn by a donkey. The cart is well-covered and contains picks, shovels, tents, scales, buckets, and other mining supplies. Bingmos (male dwarf expert 4; Bluff -1,Profession (miner) +8) has what he believes is a map to an abandoned silver mine. He has convinced his two companions, Perunt (male human commoner 1) and Ardybel Droomber-vor (female gnome bard 3), to accompany him. Bingmos has warned his friends that they must keep silent about their plans, or someone may jump their claims, but he is the most talkative of the bunch.
ROAD CONSTRUCTION GANG
Three men with crossbows (male human warrior 1) watch over a band of six prisoners working on a section of the road. Two of the workers haul rocks from a wagon while the other four break the rocks into gravel with large hammers. Two of the prisoners are deserters from the army, and four are from a debtor’s prison. Ightad, the leader of the guards and the only one on horseback, orders the prisoners to stop hammering as the PCs pass.
SOLDIER ON LEAVE
Denrilo Abaxi (human fighter 3) is a career soldier heading back to his hometown on a month’s leave. He goes on foot with all his gear in a heavy backpack. He wears his longsword and boiled leather armor under his robes. Denrilo is looking for companions to travel with, because walking alone gives him too much time to think about whether he really wants to reenlist.
SURVEYOR AND CENSUS TAKER
Itori Cerat (female elf ranger 4) is a surveyor and mapmaker sent by the local ruler to measure his lands. She has long white hair, and а long, sharp face. Quarisi (male halfelf expert 3) is a master of numbers charged with completing a census of the land’s inhabitants and their possessions. His looks favor his human side, with a round, dimpled face and a toothy smile. Both believe they must complete their tasks so the local ruler can tax his people fairly and efficiently.
Choldra Urnold (half-elf aristocrat 6; Intimidate +11) travels from town to town collecting taxes due to his master, a local noble. He is very thin, with tired eyes, a long red beard, and a long curled mustache. He wears ornate blue robes and a blue stocking cap and rides a well-bred light horse. He travels with Nowulu (male human barbarian 5), a large, bald, bronze-skinned man who rides a warhorse. Nowulu helps collect taxes from unwilling clients and is charged with guarding the coffer of collected taxes. Choldra greets the PCs warmly and is happy to travel with them, but he can see that they are more well-off than the typical traveler and is curious about where they live. Nowulu remains quiet and untrusting.
WEALTHY ADOLESCENT AND GUARD
Luilt Cuyos (male human aristocrat 1) is a young noble out to see the world for the first time. He is spoiled and insufferably proud. His parents tasked the unfortunate knight, Sir Therat Reigh (male human paladin 5), with keeping the boy safe in his travels. Both ride horses and travel very light. They buy what they need in each town, though the trip may be cut short due to Luilt’s liberal spending habits. Sir Therat is noticeably worn by the boy’s constant prattle and welcomes conversation and companionship with anyone else.
BY RUSSELL BROWN
BY JEFF CARLISLE