Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their thoughts on the submissions for the Robber’s Bridge adventure. Everyone contributed some great stuff! I would encourage everyone to recycle some of those ideas for your own adventures.
I’ve taken everyone’s feedback, incorporated some of my own editorial discretion, and brought it all together. There’s still time to change things, of course, so please share any feedback or ideas inspired by the content below. Let’s take the next steps in pulling this adventure together!
If you need to catch up:
Who Inhabited the adventure location originally? Who made it? Where was it? What happened to it?
The Jotnar Bridge is a marvel of a lost age, made by a forgotten people with knowledge of engineering far in excess of any humans in the north today. Some scholars who consider themselves experts in such things say it was created by the Ylfarings1See The First People, Middarmark, page 6. Others say it was the work of bergrisar2Mountain giants; see Of Trolls and Men, Middarmark, page 84 hailing from the Nidfjoll Mountains3See The Nidfjoll, Middarmark, page 19 to the west. The stony bones of a giant lay half in the icy waters of the Vimur River and half on the northern bank, the crown of its skull forming an island in the river beneath the bridge.
The graceful stone bridge once spanned the Vimur River, connecting the land of Vanskrdal with Vargstrond4See Vanskrdal and Vargstrond, Middarmark, page 23 and enabling trade between the two jarldoms. That ended 19 years ago, when Jarl Grima of Vargstrond, great uncle of the present jarl, Una the Cat5See Una the Cat, Jarl of Vargstrond, Middarmark, page 23, paid a band of mercenary dwarven sappers to slight the central span rather than allow the Gott Host to spill into Vargstrond. Survivors of the conquest of Vanskrdal still speak bitterly of the bridge’s destruction, which trapped many of the newly conquered people on the northern side of the river where they were forced into serfdom by the conquering Gotts.
What do the characters want to recover at the adventure location? Why would the PCs go there?
Bandits have occupied the northern tower of the slighted bridge and have been raiding the Gottmark (formerly Vanskrdal). They recently attacked the nearby Gott village of Saxatoft while its lord was away. They plundered and burned the manor and stole a precious gold buckle that is part of the Saxaling Clan’s regalia. The theft has damaged the Saxaling ættir, and the clan is desperate to get the artifact back.
Why has the adventure location not been plundered already?
Anything of value was taken when the bridge was slighted, or by looters who came along later. But the bandits have recently been filling the vault with their stolen treasure. The original builders created a hidden chamber below the waterline that serves as a prison for a murderous water spirit but holds a fortune in semi-precious stone.
Who or what inhabits the adventure location now?
Ostensibly the current occupants are Bjorning raiders. In fact, they are ‘gestir,’ agents sent by Jarl Una the Cat to harry her enemies north of the river and provide information about the Gotts’ preparation for war. The gestir consist of a handful of Bjorning warriors, a cleric from Jernkloster and possibly even a Bjorning magician.
Unknown to all, there is a secret passage beneath the waterline of the tower that leads to a hidden chamber within the giant’s skull. The bridge’s original builders trapped a nykr6A shape shifting water spirit within. The spirit once lured those who sought to cross the river to their deaths by drowning. The magic of the giant skull chamber has turned the spirit to stone in the form of an exquisite, life-sized lapis lazuli stallion. Anyone that enters the chamber will slowly begin to calcify into lapis lazuli themselves. Removing the stallion from its pedestal will break the enchantment upon the spirit.
It’s possible that the nykr can employ some of its enchanting music, even trapped in stone as it is.
Feel free to suggest changes or build upon what I’ve described above. But it’s also time to move forward. If anyone wants to take a stab at sketching a map of the northern tower, be my guest!
In the meantime, I have a couple of new questions for you.
How have the inhabitants altered the location to serve their needs?
Have the bandits made any changes? Have they dug new tunnels or installed hidden doors? Have they implemented any new defenses or a way of escaping to the southern side of the river if they are assaulted in force?
What traps or terrain features make navigating the adventure location difficult?
I’ve suggested a secret passage below the waterline that leads to a secret chamber in the giant skull. Is that passage flooded? Is there some other challenge to that passage? Have the bandits installed traps? Is there some trick to approaching the tower?
Please jump in with your thoughts. Start thinking about other problems and obstacles this adventure might present.