The gentleness of Snow
(c) gif by riverwindphotography, February 2024
// Spent some time by the river, to forget all my sorrow
Adventure: A visit to Dawdlewall Fortress
Well there goes the neighbourhood... won't be too hard to catch it though....
Meet Clover, She's a primordial spirit of the land, and a very polite one at that. She embodies the place where the ancient mountains meets the lush green of valleys and lakes below, and her name is derived from an ancient elven poetic composition about her that refers to her mowing through the canopy like it was clover in a lawn.
In times of yore, a great hero awoke her to save their home from an invading army, simultaneously breaking the cliff-face free an undauntable defender. In the usual course of things a spirit like clover would have been unsummoned as soon as the crisis had passed, but the hero and all of their neighbours were just so taken with the gentle giant that they decided to let her stay.
Generations later, Clover has become a beloved local icon, gently grazing the surrounding forests while the fortress on her back serves as the region's seat of power. While most rulers of Dawdlewall have tried to live up to the hero's example the most recent; Gottfried Scarlett, Earl of Eastcress has turned out to be a bit of a bastard. Having ascended to rule Dawdlewall through a convoluted inheritance scheme, he intends to use his authority to wring the region dry of riches, backing up his power grab with kaiju sized threats.
The party can run into the earl's forces in a number of ways, having set up impromptu toll roads, shaking down local guilds, strong arming tavern staff for free service, ubiquitous "assholes throwing their weight around" type of behaviour. Things inevitably come to a head when the party delve a local dungeon and end up running face to face into the earl's "tax collectors" insisting that they need to pay a "delving fee". A brawl ensues, and the party either find themselves carted off to the Dawdlewall dungeons or on the run with a bounty on their head.
In attempting to fill his treasury as much as possible, Earl Gottfried has ironically made himself tremendously easy to rob. Wagons full of extorted gold make their way across the marshy roads towards the fortress snail. Though well guarded, these trusted troops are overworked and prone to error. Start planning your robinhood ambushes now.
As one of the many privileges granted to him by his new noble title, the Earl has seized control of the ancient hero's staff, which is the only means of communicating with Clover. He's already steered the oblivious primordial to crush a tiny logging hamlet that refused his unjust enchroachment , allowing the denizens to evacuate as a show of his magnanimity (also because it's hard for a giant earth-churning snail to sneak up on anyone). Seizing this staff is the key to kicking Gottfried to the curb (or off the edge of the Fortress, if the party is feeling particularly dramatic) but suddenly puts the heroes in a difficult position. Who can they trust with Clover's titanic power? Do they keep the staff for themselves or use it as a bargaining chip in the power vacuum left by their enemy's departure?
Meet Pando, not a forest but a single tree. Every trunk of the Quaking Aspen is genetically identical & connected by a single 80,000 year old root system, making it one of the largest and oldest living entities on Earth!