These mini-scenarios were written for an Open Call offered by the D&D Adventurer’s League. The first one is a social-interaction scene and the second is a combat scene, all stand-alone. At the time, no OGL was available, so these seeds focus mostly on the fictional content and you may easily fit them into your d20/OSR campaign.
The Voice that Left Us
When prince Lyan Sudryl left his home to see the world beyond the Elven Kingdoms, he expected to travel for no more than a dozen years. Now, many
decades have past and much has changed since. Lyan was first struck with wanderlust, but then settled for a reclusive life in the old mountains. He
lives alone in the ruins of a small temple overtaken by nature. The prince has no knowledge that, while he was gone, the Elven Court fell to a vicious war amongst its families and that, year after year, each ancient lineage was lost. Lyan spends most of his days either singing or in deep meditation, drinking and eating very little. A very simple life for an elven noble.
Presently, the Elven Kingdoms are no more and their lands are being carved up and taken by several factions which can be represented by the adventurers. After the civil war that broke the elves apart, taking over their territory was easy, but there is the matter of prince Lyan Sudryl who has
become known as the last pure elven noble, the one that was not corrupted by power. Seen as a hermit and a pacifist, he is not perceived as a military
threat, but he may be a strong political icon, one that can be used to validate the claims of any faction within these newly-conquered lands.
The Ruined Temple
You can place this location as part of any adventure that may involve some reclusive place in the mountains. Lyan lives in the ruins of an old temple
dedicated to an elven deity (ex: Corellon Larethian). The few walls that are still standing follow a circular architecture around a fountain that now accumulates rainwater under a broken ceiling. Occasionally, there are animals that come to drink from the fountain, birds, hares and even wolves,
but this place is cold and damp. Ivy and moss have grown for ages, hiding the temple within the landscape, so it’s possible that the adventurers find
it only through following the sound of Lyan singing in the morning.
Any faction that is part of your adventure may have ties to what is happening in the recent conquest of the lost Elven Kingdoms. Each
adventurer related to each faction may have been told to approach Lyan Sudryl with a specific agenda. In general, this is a matter of convincing
the prince to join their side, leave the temple and come with the adventurer to meet with an agent of that faction.
Lawful factions may believe that the return of Sudryl may help to stabilize the region if they are able to guide and protect him. Chaotic factions
may want to use him as a surprise factor against other interested parties. Good factions value what role the prince may still want to play in the best
interests of the elven race. Evil factions may want to befriend Sudryl so they can later have the opportunity of killing him and blaming some other
faction for the murder. Truly neutral factions may think it’s best to hide the prince forever.
Lyan Sudryl welcomes all strangers and reacts favourably to the prospect of being escorted back to his homeland. He is not particularly attached to his life as a hermit (nor is he a very good singer), but he has become enamoured with many philosophical questions and is still somewhat naive. News about the death of his family may affect him considerably and leave him suggestible to anyone who treats the matter with respect and appears helpful. Lyan, as he likes to be called, has zero political ambitions but still feels he has a duty to represent his people, specially after a crisis where they lost so much.
Convincing the prince and even manipulating him is relatively easy. He will only spot really obvious lies and will shy away from any conflict. The real challenge is in the interaction between adventurers related to different factions and in how far they may want to reveal and compromise their agendas. In parallel to this discussion, Lyan may ask open questions related to how the adventurers see their place in the world and how do they feel about what they may have done in the past.
To the Pit of Greed
Years ago, a misunderstanding between two merchant guilds who seek to control the caravans traveling on the old King’s Road escalated to open
war. Dozens of mercenaries were bought and two small armies were gathered, supplied with the very best equipment they could find. One of the guilds devised an ambush and digged up a large hidden spiked pit next to the Road. At dusk, they attacked the other army by surprise and the battle turned into a massacre. Cutting off their escape, the attackers pushed their enemy into that deep pit and showered them with poisoned arrows. The plan went so well that they decided to keep the pit covered up in case they needed to use it again. However, war between merchants was bad for business, an agreement was reached and the mercenaries were paid off, vowing to keep this skirmish a secret.
Recently, a roving band of orcs have captured a manticore that has given them some precious information in exchange for human meat. It has seen, flying from above, the skirmish and the pit and the dead that still there lie with their shiny weapons and armor. The orcs are running to this location, hoping to find good loot for their warring efforts. The manticore follows them hoping for another free meal.
Meanwhile, the adventurers have also learned about what happened from a tavern somewhere. Following what could be just a rumor, they have come to a spot near the King’s Road, found the pit and are now preparing to make
their descent and see what decent equipment they can find.
Given the many violent deaths that took place in this pit, enough necromantic energy was stirred to animate some of the fallen mercenaries. As the adventurers come to the bottom of the pit, three skeletons attack them driven by hatred for the living. One of them is still stuck on the spike
through which he fell, but will stab with a spear anyone who comes near him. The pit has already been pillaged by mercenaries, but there are still weapons and armor here worth 500 gold pieces.
Arriving just after the adventurers, five orcs will take the opportunity to attack them at a disadvantage. If possible, they will wait until the adventurers have climbed down and they will take a moment to see if the skeletons have any chance of hurting them before they engage (when there is only one skeleton left). If not all of the adventurers go down to the bottom of the pit, the orcs do not wait and simply attack.
After having been captured, the manticore is at 34 Hit Points, for it is still a bit hungry and tired. Much like the orcs wait to see how the adventurers
fare against the skeletons, the manticore watching from above will let the orcs fight before it risks entering the fray. Because of its size, the monster
cannot land on the bottom of the pit and take the fresh kill that it wants. So, when there are only two orcs still fighting, the manticore will taunt the
adventurers by throwing its tail spikes at them and demanding that they climb out of the pit.