Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part II)

Pont Valentré

OK gang, the results from last week’s poll are in. Thank you to everyone who contributed! The entries are below. Check them out and let me know in the comments which ones inspire you. Feel free to riff on them. Next week I’ll use your input to finalize these answers and then we’ll move on to the next steps.

There are just a couple of boundaries that I want to place.

First, I want to keep the Ylfarings1See The First People, Middarmark, page 6 mysterious. They could have built the bridge and left it to be discovered by later humans. It could have been destroyed (by giants or otherwise) in a later age. I just don’t want to set anything down about their history. I’ll leave that for you in their games.

Second, when considering who currently inhabits this location, keep in mind that I want this to be a small dungeon. Think Skogenby or even smaller. Maybe it could even be expandable by treating each of the towers independently to create three linked adventures. For now, let’s keep this focused.

Who inhabited the adventure location originally? Who made it? Where was it? What happened to it?

  1. Originally created by the Ylfarings during a period of tension between them and a nearby Dwarven settlement. The Ylfarings antagonized a pair of giant brothers who took vengeance by wrecking the bridge. They smashed one span entirely and left several architectural weak points in what still stands. One brother’s skeleton is still visible in the water and on the shore nearby. The other brother might still be in the area.

  2. The Halflings built the bridge using the solid rock from their tunnels after a defensive “inundation” from a water lagoon. During the ancient times, the principal and route to the Halfling’s settlement was along a narrow corridor of land called “the causeway”.
    Being surrounded by water on both sides and fortified, the bridge was easily defensive in times of attack…Until the gnolls came over them.

  3. If it has fallen into disrepair and no one has needed such a helpful structure then it connected to groups trade that no longer exists maybe, So a generation from a bygone age

  4. During the time of the Lost Ages, the Ylfaring people created the bridge. They built a monument to a Young Lord, who’s name has been forgotten by the skalds. The Saaki found this bridge when they first arrived to the Middarmark and came south from the Endless Ice.
    The Saaki used it as a strategic position for countless generations until the Græling arrived and drove them from the land. Over time, this area and the ruins of the bridge have been forgotten. This particular crossing doesn’t get much use because there are better and safer routes along the Sølvveien proper.

  5. A charismatic veteran lord and their retinue of dwarven laborers, court wizard and vassals. It was custom made by a dwarven clan under the orders of the local lord. Growing rich and powerful after years of taxation the local count maneuvered the court to have the lord trialed and executed. Without a powerful leader the castle was overrun by the hordes of the wild.

  6. Human priests built a bridge for trade, they decided to charge a crossing tax, the greed it generated birthed a troll who burrowed in the structure eating travelers and inhabitants alike. They payed it gold even fed it orphans but finally destroyed the troll by tearing down part of the bridge entombing it and its treasure. Now locals believe it has returned…

  7. Its megalithic foundation was built by giants who used bones of a god they tricked. The tower bridge was built by a noble twins who ruled opposite sides of the bridge. Each side of the bridge is built with different stone, the south is said to be built with broken stone tablets of the giants tombs and the north was built with the remnants of the dead gods ruined temple. On one side the folk worshiped giants on the other side folk worshiped the dead god. The bridge was the only neutral place where they traded. Trade was good and the gold and silver was kept in the tower. but it only lasted a month before the two sides had a war that destroyed parts of the bridge plunging the tower and its treasure into the river and cutting off both sides from each other.
  8. Long ago, a greed-mad dwarf lord had the Six Sovereign Bridge built. It was called that because the lord decreed the crippling tax of one gold sovereign for each span of the bridge on each cart passing over them. The dwarf lord also had his engineers dredge the fords of the High river regularly.
  9. Lancer’s Lake, fed by the High river, became a hive of competing corsairs and escorting mercenaries as merchants sought ways around the toll. Eventually, the price of goods became so inflated that the Graeling lords (who still ruled Gottmark at the time), were forced to come together to denounce the Lord of the Bridge. They demanded the toll be lowered, or the fords left to silt up in the coming spring’s floods. Their emissary was sent back headless. This lead to a short but bloody war, and the destruction of the bridge. The greed-mad dwarf lord was flung, along with his ox-drawn golden “war chariot,” into the river. The High River has been colloquially known as the “Can’t-Breath-Gold” ever since.

What do the characters want to recover at the adventure location? Why would the PCs go there?

  1. The surviving Ylfarings tried to repair the bridge using the dead giant’s teeth as magical anchors in the weakest spots. It worked, but the Ylfarings abandoned the bridge a short time later. PCs have learned that the magic in the giant’s teeth can impart strength in buildings or walls that use them. They’re going to pry the teeth out of the surviving structure to sell them (hopefully without getting trapped in a collapse or two as they do).
  2. The thieves tax or plunder from those “crossing” the bridge and maybe the builders put the wealthy’s tomb into a place of power such as the foundation of the bridge but i think that should be minor
  3. Scefing bandits have raided a nearby village and stolen a precious necklace from a Græling Godi. Perhaps this necklace is connected to his clan’s ættir, and they need it back desperately.
    But, then, the party discovers there are deep secrets and curses to this location. From behind a stacks of barrels, the party finds a stairwell to the depths…
  4. There have always been stories of the hidden horde of the Greed-mad King. A recent drought has dropped the “Can’t-Breath-Gold” river to a trickle, and there is a report of a band of dwarves camped on remains of the bridge at night. They are digging in shifts at the base of one of the footings of the bridge.
  5. The hidden treasury, buried somewhere under the dungeon.
  6. Save lost children, find the trolls hidden treasure- restore the bridge
  7. Reclaim cursed treasure from the fallen tower/ drive out the river goblins/ find the broken stone tablets of the giants to read their secrets/ reclaim the bricks of the dead gods ruined temple to resurrect him

Why has the adventure location not be plundered already?

  1. Ignorance. The PCs have lost/secret knowledge that most don’t.
  2. New group to the area and as for the tomb need of knowledge of stone work and some labourers
  3. The Græling plundered it long ago. The bandits have been filling it back up with loot, unaware of the monsters below.
  4. The vaults of the towers have long ago been looted, the fortifications broken, the walls caved in, disassembled, or bored through by treasure-seekers. But the High River has always been just that – high.
  5. The lower levels are locked, an old armory and the wizard’s laboratory were overlooked by the horde. The clashing between civilization and wilderness made the old castle the failed project of a myriad of lords, always overtaken by beasts.
  6. Fear and superstition
  7. So many died on each side, many thinking the giants and the god cursed the bridge and river. Folk on both sides independently sometimes bring sacrifices to make sure they remain at peace and leave the place as it is.

Who or what inhabits the adventure location now?

  1. Bandits, or some other humanoid menace, who are slowly turning to stone due to the magic in the giant’s teeth. There’s a middle period in the transformation when their skin turns thick, but still flexible enough for movement. They also get stronger. Maybe their Might goes up or they get other stone-related powers. The PCs might also begin to suffer these effects if they hold onto the teeth for too long, requiring someone to lift the curse later.
  2. I like the idea that the bridge isn’t in use so much so now people traffic the river to move goods now that a new powers are in place, a faction of coastal people noticed their profits are diminished by those coming from inland to trade on the coast so a group is now using the bridge as a toll for people passing below it rather than crossing over.
  3. Scefing raiders on Level 1 above ground. In the depths: Brunnmigi, goblins, skeletons and undead.
  4. The treasure-seeking dwarves inhabit the remains of one of the towers, a draughty place, but with a good view of the surrounds. The leader of the expedition is a descendent of the Greed-mad King. Is the secret knowledge handed down from generation to generation accurate? Is the key he bears real? Will his companions turn on him?
    The far tower has collapsed into the river bed and is filled with a dwindling well of foetid water; home to a nixie and her clutch of eggs – could she know something about the vault? Are the dwarves digging under the wrong footing? The nixie is desperate for help, but dangerous and protective of her eggs.
    The middle tower stands free in the centre of the river bed, the arches broken away. It lists crazily, canted towards the nixie’s nest. A malevolent spirit lives inside, hiding during the day, but flying out at night hunting for blood or dreams or love. It would be a hell of a climb, but maybe the thing has something of value? It plagues the dwarves as they sleep.
  5. An orcish bandit clan has set as their headquarters for raiding. They charge a toll and are planning on rebuilding the bridge.
    Two griffons have nested atop one of the towers. The orcs ward them off by feeding then their victims.
    A chimera, the old guardian of the castle created by the court wizard’s still roams the dungeons below
  6. A Troll is entombed within but a goblin hoard who believe its just an old tale are posing as the troll using the ruined bridge as a base to raid nearby villagers.
  7. Both sides of the river is occupied by ancestors of the humans. But a band of river goblins who worship mud spirits have camped out in the bridge to take the gold but haven’t mapped out out how to get at it. They have been doing small raids on both sides to survive.

Start the discussion at

Historical Comment Archive

10 thoughts on “Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part II)

  1. I really like the idea that the ruined bridge is used to toll RIVER traffic, otherwise the bridge would be in use.

    • That’s a fair point. An other alternative is that the settlements on one side of the river have failed, been overrun or just out and out disappeared.

  2. Hey Thor I really thought this was a good idea, I’m interested to see how you edit this. So many good ideas!

  3. Here are my votes:

    *Who originally inhabited?*
    #1, #3, and #4 all focused on ancient civilizations – perhaps the Ylfaring tribe.

    *What to recover?*
    I like #3 ættir necklace or #6 hidden treasury.

    If #2 was “plunder” that seems like it would work better than a “tax.” If bandits were charging tolls or taxes then it might be a job for a huscarl.

    *Why has it not been plundered?*
    #3 and #4 are similar in that it has already been plundered. I’d like this if the bridge is in ruins and a shadow of what it once was.

    *Who inhabits it now?*
    #1, #3, and #5 have bandits or raiders – orc or human.

  4. I’m really into this giant teeth scenario. Really the only downside I’m seeing is that it’s probably a fairly high level encounter if there’s another giant around and magic stone-bandits. So I’ll go…

    “Who inhabited the adventure location originally?”
    #1. Gimme that giant skeleton. At first I thought this was just so so but then I read further down with the TEETH OF PETRIFICATION AURA and I’m way into it.

    “What do the characters want to recover at the adventure location?”
    Magic. Giant. Teeth. That’s all I need to hear.

    “Why has the adventure location not be plundered already?”
    I like #4 the most. Before now, the river’s course had changed so that the bridge was almost entirely submerged, but now the water level is dropping. This would give the GM some great opportunities to describe the slimy, formerly flooded interior. Also could be fish monsters.

    “Who or what inhabits the adventure location now?”

  5. It’ll take some editing work to make it all work together, but here are the answers that most appealed to me:

    “Who inhabited the location originally?”
    #4: I like the history behind the location, but also that it’s fallen out of disuse and largely forgotten about.

    “What do the PCs want to recover at the location?”
    #3: The bandits and the necklace provide an instant hook, and one that can be tackled in a fairly straightforward manner, but the inclusion of the hidden stairwell provides some extra flesh to the whole adventure, and helps spread things over a few more sessions than it would warrant otherwise.

    “Why has the location not been plundered already?”
    #5: The laboratory and armory provide more interest to me than just monsters and catacombs, and I think would provide some additional hooks in the form of spells and/or hooks for the characters to explore.

    “Who inhabits the location now?”
    #3: Perhaps the wizard who occupied the laboratory previously was a necromancer? Or carried out bizarre experiments?

  6. I really like the bridge as established to toll river traffic to now lost outposts who’s locations could be an award for the PCs.

    I love the giant teeth idea. What about nixies or other river spirits occupying the bridge after it fell to disuse. Maybe the last “civilized” occupants where driven out by a bunch of powerful river sprites who are pissed that they haven’t been able to destroy the bridge (likely d/t the giants teeth reinforcements).

  7. Pingback: Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part III) | Torchbearer

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