Encounter 2.1.4: The Road to Spirit Lake

This Encounter describes an occurrence that may happen during the first adventure in the "Stop the Poaching" adventure arc. If the party journeys to their destination using the roads through the Feywood, and they stay on the roads to Dryad Falls, they will need to follow the road from there to Spirit Lake. This encounter occurs on that road.


The party has chosen to travel to Spirit Lake using established roads. They've most likely already stopped at Feybridge Crossing and are currently in Dryad Falls. This encounter covers the last leg of their trip to Spirit Lake on the westbound road out of Dryad Falls.

On the Road

You set out from Dryad Falls toward Spirit Lake, expecting this last leg of your journey to take approximately four days. This road is a bit more heavily traveled than the road in front of the Bugbear's Head Inn, and now, because of the festival in Dryad Falls, traffic is even heavier than normal. Since the festival is wrapping up, most of this traffic is headed in the same direction as you - toward Spirit Lake. This does not mean the road is necessarily crowded, but from time to time during the day, you are overtaken by a farmer driving a wagon, or perhaps one or two folk traveling on horseback. And then there's the daily coach that travels from Dryad Falls to Spirit Lake.

As is common on these roads, there are "regular" stopping points where travelers can make camp for the night after a typical day's journey. On this road, there are small inns at two of these stops; the other two are currently little more than roadside areas that have become more or less permanent campsites.

Your first three days on the road are uneventful. Nights two and three are spent in small inns that have been erected to serve travelers on this road. Food and accommodations were not the greatest, but were adequate.

If you're keeping track of rations and travel costs, each party member would consume 2 days rations over these three days, assuming they take meals in the inns. Inn costs for each night are 3cp for a common area bed, or 1 sp for a private room. Full evening meals are 3cp; light meal of bread & cheese is 1cp; ales are 1cp; cheap wine is 2cp; decent wine is 4cp. Additional rations for the road can be purchased for 7cp/day or 4sp/week.

On the evening of the fourth day, you reach an overnight camp areas -- no inn tonight. There are already people here, though. A wagon - it appears to be a merchant's wagon - is pulled in off the road, and five horses are tied to its side. Three saddles and blankets are visible under the wagon. A small pavilion tent has been erected. Four individuals are sitting around one of the campfire rings: three humans and a half-orc. The half-orc and two of the humans are wearing studded leather armor, and have the look of trained fighters or mercenaries; the remaining human does not look to be in "fighting shape" - he is wearing traveler's clothes and does not appear to be armored. Your guess is that this is the occupant of the pavilion tent, which does not appear to be large enough for all four to comfortably sleep in.

As the three armored folk glare at you, the fourth - you presume the owner of the wagon - bellows a happy greeting and invites you to share the campfire.

See what the party wants to do. There is plenty of room for them to set up sleeping areas for themselves. If they choose to decline the merchant's offer, there are even some other firepits set up in the area - they could just set up their own little enclave.

If they Join the Merchant's Fire
You put down your gear, marking out your sleeping places, and join the merchant and - you presume - his sellswords by the fire. The merchant wastes no time in striking up conversation...

"Are you headed to Spirit Lake? Or are you traveling beyond to Karnstown?"

"Forgive me, but you certainly don't look like traders. In fact, you don't look like the typical group of travelers on this road... Have you got business in Spirit Lake? Or are you just out to see the world?"

"Beautiful country, this, isn't it?!"

The merchant will continue on with small talk about his travels - not just within the Feywood, but between the forest and the city of Endmere far to the north as well. If asked, he will explain that he brings some household ironware goods to Spirit Lake and purchases some of the local craft products - woven and quilted blankets, for example, back to the north where there's a market for "quaint goods produced on the frontier". Anything else he can buy or sell along the way is fair game as well, of course! He'll add that in Spirit Lake, he sells to the owner of the General Store

If they Keep Separate from the Merchant
As night falls, you can hear the merchant's group talking among themselves, though you can't really make out what they're saying. The merchant is doing most of the talking; the others just do a lot of nodding and grunting of assent, and shake their heads in the negative.

Allow Perception DC20 (base) checks to overhear bits of the conversation. If a party member can stealthily get closer to better listen in, provide a +2 circumstance bonus to the check.
Critical Failure - You can't make out what they're talking about.
Failure - The merchant notices you attempting to eavesdrop. He stifles a frown quickly, then mumbles something to his companions. Their conversation is quieter and more guarded from now on.
Success - You hear a reference to "picking up the goods and getting out of this backwater town".
Critical Success - hear a reference to "picking up the livestock and getting out of this backwater town".

If the Party Checks out the Merchant's Wagon
The party may decide to "inspect" the merchant's wagon at some point during the evening. The first time anyone asks about the wagon...

The merchant's wagon is nothing special. It's a four-wheeler, a bit larger - longer than many of the farm wagons you've seen on the road, with high wooden sides formed of open-spaced slats of wood. There are some ironware frying pands of various sizes hung securely from hooks on the outsides of the wagon's sides. The bed of the truck is piled fairly high with something, but you can't tell what as there is a canvas cover pulled over everything.

For each person looking at the wagon, roll a secret Perception, DC16. Optionally, have the most perceptive person do the roll on behalf of the entire party. On a success, add the following:

One cover of the canvas isn't pulled down all the way - some of the contents underneath can be seen. There are a few iron cauldrons or soup pots, but it also appears the merchant is carrying number of small wooden cages - about 1 foot on a side. The cages are empty, and if you had to guess based on the shape of the pile covered by the canvas, there could be as many as 12 to 20 of these empty cages in the wagon.

If the party decides at some point to ask about the cages, he will respond that he really doesn't know why the general store wanted them, but he asked for them the last time the trader came through the town. Something about cages for pet blink mice - whatever they were. Ask for another Perception, DC18 check - or better yet, roll in secret. A success indicates awareness that the merchant seems a bit nervous about answering this question, and is almost certainly lying with his answer.

Arriving in Spirit Lake / Ending the Encounter

In the morning, after the party performs its morning preparatory functions and breaks camp, they can set out on the road for their final day of walking before reaching Spirit Lake. The merchant will be packing up as well, but will be taking a lot longer to do so than the party. If the party has not already inspected the wagon, they get another chance in the morning.

Try to discourage the party from traveling with the merchant all the way into the town. But if they insist, the merchant will spend most of the day talking about his family... singing (in an awful voice)... and generally avoiding any conversation about his trading activity. The mercenaries will not be talking about much of anything. (The mercenaries are mounted; the merchant drives the two-horse team from the wagon.)

Once the party arrives in Spirit Lake, ask them where they plan on staying, etc. There is an inn in town, of course. The session should end with them checking into wherever they will be staying - the next adventure will deal with their efforts to obtain information about the smuggling operation.  


NPCs/Statblocks Needed
Note: These NPCs will be used in the third adventure of this arc as well.
  • Merchant
  • Mercenary 1 (Human)
  • Mercenary 2 (Human)
  • Mercenary 3 (Half-orc)

Maps Needed
  • Regional map to show travel progress
  • Optional: Encounter map of the camping area (useful if party attempts stealth info gathering

Plot type

Unarmed Actions:
1 Action
Requirements: You are Trained in Athletics. You have at least one hand free. The target can’t be more than one size larger than you.
You try to knock something out of an opponent’s grasp. Attempt an Athletics check against the opponent’s Reflex DC.
Critical Success: You knock the item out of the opponent’s grasp. It falls to the ground in the opponent’s space.
Success: You weaken your opponent’s grasp on the item. Until the start of that creature’s turn, attempts to Disarm the opponent of that item gain a +2 circumstance bonus, and the target takes a –2 circumstance penalty to attacks with the item or other checks requiring a firm grasp on the item.
Failure: Nothing happens.
Critical Failure: You lose your balance and become Flat-footed until the start of your next turn.
1 Action
Requirements: You have at least one free hand. Your target cannot be more than one size larger than you.
You attempt to grab an opponent with your free hand. Attempt an Athletics check against their Fortitude DC. You can also Grapple to keep your hold on a creature you already grabbed.
Critical Success: Your opponent is restrained until the end of your next turn unless you move or your opponent Escapes.
Success: Your opponent is grabbed until the end of your next turn unless you move or your opponent Escapes.
Failure: You fail to grab your opponent. If you already had the opponent grabbed or restrained using a Grapple, those conditions on that creature end.
Critical Failure: If you already had the opponent grabbed or restrained, it breaks free. Your target can either grab you, as if it succeeded at using the Grapple action against you, or force you to fall and land prone.
1 Action
Requirements: You have at least one hand free. The target can’t be more than one size larger than you.
You push an opponent away from you. Attempt an Athletics check against your opponent’s Fortitude DC.
Critical Success: You push your opponent up to 10 feet away from you. You can Stride after it, but you must move the same distance and in the same direction.
Success: You push your opponent back 5 feet. You can Stride after it, but you must move the same distance and in the same direction.
Failure: Nothing happens.
Critical Failure: You lose your balance, fall, and land Prone.
1 Action
Requirements: You have at least one hand free. The target can’t be more than one size larger than you.
You try to knock an opponent to the ground. Attempt an Athletics check against your opponent’s Reflex DC.
Critical Success: The target falls and lands Prone, and takes 1d6 Bludgeoning damage.
Success: The target falls and lands Prone.
Failure: Nothing happens.
Critical Failure: You lose your balance, fall, and land Prone.

Flat-Footed Condition
You’re distracted or otherwise unable to focus your full attention on defense. You take a –2 circumstance penalty to AC. Some effects give you the flat-footed condition only to certain creatures or against certain attacks. Others - especially conditions — can make you universally flat-footed against everything. If a rule doesn’t specify that the condition applies only to certain circumstances, it applies to all of them; for example, many effects simply say “The target is flat-footed.”
Grabbed Condition
You’re held in place by another creature, giving you the Flat-footed and Immobilized conditions. If you attempt a manipulate action while grabbed, you must succeed at a DC 5 flat check or it is lost; roll the check after spending the action, but before any effects are applied.
Immobilized Condition
You can’t use any action with the move trait. If you’re immobilized by something holding you in place and an external force would move you out of your space, the force must succeed at a check against either the DC of the effect holding you in place or the relevant defense (usually Fortitude DC) of the monster holding you in place.
Prone Condition
You’re lying on the ground. You are Flat-footed and take a –2 circumstance penalty to attack rolls. The only move actions you can use while you’re prone are Crawl and Stand. Standing up ends the prone condition. You can Take Cover while prone to hunker down and gain cover against ranged attacks, even if you don’t have an object to get behind, gaining a +4 circumstance bonus to AC against ranged attacks (but you remain flat-footed).
If you would be knocked prone while you’re Climbing or Flying, you fall. You can’t be knocked prone when Swimming.
Restrained Condition
You’re tied up and can barely move, or a creature has you pinned. You have the Flat-footed and Immobilized conditions, and you can’t use any actions with the attack or manipulate traits except to attempt to Escape or Force Open your bonds. Restrained overrides Grabbed.

Inn Prices


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Cover image: The Inn from the Bridge over Daphinia's Stream by RPGDinosaurBob (with Flowscape)


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