An adventure for Maelstrom, or other fantasy/historical games, featuring the supernatural. The following represents an overview only and requires some work by the Gamemaster to flesh out characters, expand plot threads and map out locations. While currently very linear in plotting, the Gamemaster should attempt to be as flexible as possible in supporting the characters’ investigation of the situation.
The blacksmith in the village has lost his anvil.
Well, not so much lost it, as someone has seen fit to steal it. The blacksmith can’t account for how this might have happened, given the weight of the thing. He invites the characters to find the anvil, in return for which he will shoe their horses, make repairs to their metal goods and offer them a favourable discount on any purchases they care to make.
Searching the smithy reveals the foundation stone on which the anvil stood, the spot a silhouette of cleanliness amidst metallic globules and dark charring. The ground around the anvil shows no signs of extreme disturbance, just the prints from feet – like those of the ‘smith or his apprentice – from before the disappearance of the anvil. Moving the anvil would require a hoist of some kind and a cart, for certain – but no evidence exists of either. A cart laden with an anvil would definitely leave tracks.
The blacksmith (good strength and persuasion, keen perception) indicates he has received no threats nor unwanted attentions from local thieves. He owes no money nor harbours any vice likely to leave him indebted to anyone.
Questioning the villagers, the characters discover the ‘smith to be a god-fearing man of considerable faith. He supports the local church and contributes to the alms for the local poor. He aspires to greater things, hoping to gain an appointment in one of the larger towns or in the service of nobility.
More thorough discussions with the older members of the village, combined with copious bribes of the local brew, reveals that the ‘smith took over the forge 5 years ago after the death of the previous incumbant. The old ‘smith lived in the village for his whole life and followed the ways of the old religions, believing more in the powers of nature than the Christian way. The village pastor tolerated the ‘smith because he did such a good job. The villagers appreciated him because he claimed to bring them good fortune because of his anvil, forged from faerie metals, so he claimed. Indeed, the old villager questioned will confide that during the time of the old ‘smith no harvest failed and no plague befouled the settlement.
Talking to the pastor (good local knowledge, fair willpower), the characters can discover a little more about the old ‘smith. The Church certainly would frown on his ways, but tolerance mattered a great deal in Christian faith. The ‘smith brought no harm and seemed to imbue the villagers with considerable strength of purpose and confidence. He might have claimed supernatural intervention, but the pastor saw him as a charismatic leader with considerable influence. Unfortunately, after the death of his wife, he seemed to struggle, old already, and his decline followed rapidly. The new ‘smith bought into the forge as a going concern, including the old ‘smiths apprentice, and has continued the good work of the old ‘smith – at least professionally. He does what he can for the community, but he lacks the same character and guiding will.
The apprentice (good willpower, weak constitution) can be found in the tavern in the evening, though he doesn’t stay late and never drinks more than a mug or two of weak ale. By day, he spends all his time at the forge assisting the ‘smith. He will not speak with the characters by day, but might be convinced to do so in the tavern, especially if cajoled by good humour, a pretty lady, or a request for assistance on some matter pertaining to the art of smithing.
He will not speak ill of the current ‘smith, but has grave concerns for his own future and the livelihood of his family now that the anvil has gone. With coaxing, he will talk of the old ‘smith with guarded hush in his tones and furtive looks at the other villagers. The old ‘smith, he explains, has many friends in the village still and he owes him considerably. The anvil, he says, came into the possession of the old ‘smith before the apprentice was born; but, he has heard tales of supernatural origins and the old ‘smith certainly supported that notion with his own stories. The ‘smith spent time, each week, in the local woods at ‘the ring’; but, the apprentice never went there nor asked about it. The old ‘smith took his devotions there, so he said, and respected it has a place of natural power.
Asking for the location of ‘the ring’ from the villagers will get no response, or may draw warning to stay clear. No amount of coaxing or alcohol will draw the location from their lips. Searching the woods in person could take days (D6+1). If a woodsman or hunter of some form figures amongst the characters, they might attempt to use tracking, but will still take days (D3+1). The character’s might seek out local poachers or beggars, in which case some persuasion and bribery could reveal a little used track into the woodlands, leading to a clearing once used by sturdy men as a hideout. From there, a further track – spotted by the perceptive – leads to the ring.
The characters will find the location in ruin. Most of the stones have been uprooted and tipped over, the earth churned up around them. Anyone entering the ring will find a slight depression in the spongy and torn earth, approximately rectangular in shape – suggesting whoever took the anvil brought it here. Again, no evidence of dragging or heavy cart tracks exist.
After spending only a short time in the clearing, the characters will feel an intense sensation of cold. Anyone trying to leave the clearing at this point finds the location surrounded by a wall of faintly whistling wind. The wind rapidly picks up leaves, branches, stones and dirt. If attempted immediately, passing through the wall requires a considerable act of willpower, but nothing more. Later, willpower alone with not suffice, as the wind threatens to knock the escaping character to the floor and batters them with flying debris. A Sqitch (excellent speed, keen perception) has appeared and summoned the wall of force – a supernatural sprite with a body like a satyr, the wings of a raven, and the face of a bat. Like many creatures of the supernatural, the Sqitch has a taste for blood and an intolerance for the ignorance of humanity.
The local faeries have taken the destruction of the ring very badly, as it has considerably inhibited there access to the material world. The characters might attempt to have a conversation with the Sqitch, but they’ll do so while fighting. The creature has sharp claws and teeth, and the ability to manipulate the air. It will seek to cause characters to slip and fall, with sharp gusts, distract them with clouds of dust, swipe them with wildly swaying branches, and jab them with punches of debris-filled air from the surrounding wall. The Sqitch will reveal a man came here destroyed the ring a few nights ago. While the creature doesn’t know names and considers all mankind to basically look alike, questioning may lead to identification of the new ‘smith.
The ‘smith had heard tales of the forge from the old ‘smith himself and plying him with drink discovered the pact, of sorts, he held with local sprites. After the old ‘smiths wife died, the new ‘smith offered support with food and company, trying to discover more of the old man’s secrets. In the end, having extracted all the detail he could – little as it was – he poisoned the old man and took over the forge soon after. However, his understanding of the supernatural agreement proved flawed and he failed to keep to the weekly ceremonies, despite this detail being amongst those passed on by the old ‘smith. After years of struggling, and gaining some small benefit from the magic of the anvil, he finally snapped, went to the ring and desecrated the site in a rage.
Unless someone reseats the stones and sacrifices blood to the ring, or the Sqitch, the prosperity of the village, and the forge, will not return. Restoring the ring, or defeating the Sqitch, will drop the wall of air. The characters may return and the confront the ‘smith about his actions, or they may accuse the wrong person if the questioning of the Sqitch did not reveal enough clues. Whatever happens, the ‘smith will have actually left already, taking his tools and knocking his apprentice unconscious in a rage. The characters should discover his departure – and have the option to go after him. If they don’t the anvil will never be restored and the village will go into decline. If they do, they must get him to go to the stone ring and sacrifice drops of his blood to the ‘old religion.’ The characters might also work out the need for his blood, but not for his presence – cutting him, perhaps. Restoring the ring, the anvil will return and a Sqitch will appear to the apprentice, telling him to take care of it. The ‘smith will not be allowed to use it again and will feel nausea and revulsion whenever in sight of it.