Dhoesone adventure: Path of the Pilgrim

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Path of the Pilgrim, an adventure in Dhoesone

Location: A travel quest starting in Nolien in Dhoesone and ending in Diemed
Type: Quasi-linear dungeon bash with opportunity for moralising and such-like. Some aspects may appear familiar from the computer game "lemmings". The adventure works well if at least one PC has a tie to Haelyn's Bastion of Truth, i.e. is a priest, paladin, has the bloodline of Anduiras or Masela, or is otherwise noted as holy.


Vordhuine Noel, a minor noble related to House Nolien has died and their heir, Hadrien Noel wishes to put to rest comments on their father's infamous miserliness and heavy-handed treatment of the workers on their farm estates.

Hadrien has sworn fealty to Count Nolien and made clear to the count that unlike his father Vordhuine who gave support grudgingly at best, Hadrien will strongly support Count Nolien and generally be a good vassal. In exchange for Hadrien swearing fealty, paying various overdue debts and such-like Count Nolien has agreed to help Hadrien restore his family's somewhat grim reputation.

In order to restore the family name, Hadrien and his mother have decided to send their father on a final pilgrimage to Diemed's Avelerine Cathedral - the first temple dedicated to Haelyn and the site of the Holy Book itself. Vordhuine's body has been preserved in a barrel of strong spirits and a suitable donation to the Orthodox Imperial Temple found, however the road to Diemed is long and clearly lord Vordhuine cannot walk himself.


The adventure starts in Nolien in Dhoesone and ends in Diemed

[top]People and creatures

As the adventure is a pilgrimage (taking several weeks) through Anuire it has few monsters other than the human sort. The pilgrims are described below, other people involved are posted elsewhere in the wiki and can be reached by following the links.

[top]Starting the adventure

Count Nolien is keen to show Lord Noel that good service in vassalage has rewards, and accordingly wishes to ensure that the pilgrimage is successful. To that end he asks the PCs to assist with the arrangements and travel with the pilgrims to ensure their safe journey. The Count may contact the PCs directly or via an agent.

Haelyn's Bastion of Truth is aware that the Count has an idea of some sort in his head due to the Count's discussions with the priests in his local temple so the church may contact the PCs and ask them to go to the Count and provide guidance (if the PCs have a holy person of some sort amongst them).

Both the count and the church would like the PCs to act as guards - the road is long and unsafe, some strong young PCs would no doubt greatly aid the pilgrims on their journey. The church would also like holy sorts amongst the PCs to offer spiritual guidance and counsel on the pilgrimage - and hopes to judge the PCs spiritual strengths from the results.

[top]Preparing to go

[top]Count Nolien

The Count sponsors the pilgrimage and so provides a pair of old draft horses each with a wagon and various provisions therein - enough to get a reasonable crowd to Diemed. As the horses and wagons are old he suggests donating them to the Orthodox Imperial Temple rather than bringing them all the way back to Dhoesone - particularly as the return trip could be by horse or boat rather than on foot (the pilgrimage is on foot as it denotes the required humility). More importantly one wagon is required to carry the coffin of Lord Vordhuine which weighs over 350 lbs including the preserving spirits. The Lord will be cremated by the Orthodox and his ashes returned for burial in his family graveyard.

[top]Haelyn's Bastion of Truth

The Bastion will be very happy to hear of the planned pilgrimage and knows of many others who would like to journey with the body of Lord Vordhuine. The Bastion can provide Lord Vordhuine with an entourage of mourners and priests to say the necessary prayers along the way to purify the lord's spirit - obviously however such services have a cost, in addition to a donation from Lord Hadrien they would like the PCs to speak to Jan Ceolfrithsson and encourage him to undertake the pilgrimage to qualify him for the Order of the Book - a knightly order which requires its members to be nobles who have undertaken pilgrimage to pray before the Holy Book.

"A pilgrimage to the Grand Cathedral? Magnificent, if only all were so imbued with grace! We are happy to endorse such a worthy quest - the urge to make pilgrimage burns in many! Lord Vordhuine cannot of course say the prayers himself - mourners must be sent with him to undertake the spiritual duties on his behalf - I trust that Lord Noel understands that such services would however place an unfortunate burden on the church without appropriate donations?"

The Bastion asks the PCs to take Jan because Jan's mother Linna has asked it to do so - Linna thinks that if the initial suggestion comes from strong warriors, Jan is more likely to agree and she hopes that a knighthood will help civilise her "big bear of a boy".

"The pilgrims - and other will no doubt join the pilgrimage once news spreads as ever it does - will need protection along the way, the road is arduous and far from safe, we would ask you to guard the pilgrims on their way."

"We would also ask a favour of you, young Jan Ceolfrithsson is a noble eligible to be a Knight of the Book - an order held in high esteem throughout Anuire - his family is oft considered as near to Rjurik as they are to Anuire and we think that the pilgrimage and knighthood would encourage Jan to see the strength of Anuire."

The Bastion will also ask a holy member of the PCs (a priest, paladin or other PC with spiritual leanings) to not merely protect the bodies of the pilgrims but also their souls by offering spiritual guidance.

"The Bastion has heard tales of your prowess, but such tales inevitably talk more of strength of arm than of soul - we would ask you to provide spiritual counsel to the pilgrims on their quest and discuss such matters with us on your return"

[top]Jan Ceolfrithsson

Jan is currently staying with Count Nolien as his mother Linna wishes him to learn some decorum from Ruormad Nolien. Jan is quite an exuberent sort and dislikes being cooped up in Nolien, particularly as he became seasick the one time he went offshore and there is no hunting to be had on land!

Sample dialogue from Jan.
"A pilgrimage? Haelyn's balls what need have I of such travails? Tell me who dares malign me with taint of some crime and I'll gut the whoreson for his slander!"

"A knighthood? Such would please my mother no doubt though it would mean little to me - but Diemed is a long way away - across the breadth of all Anuire no less - and I am a man of the north, born and bred to guard the hills."

Factors which will encourage Jan to go:

  • The knighthood will please his mother.
  • The knighthood will encourage the rest of Anuire to respect Dhoesone (Jan cares nothing about their potential feelings of him but knows that the southerner's views mean much to the rest of the Dhoesone court).
  • Ruormad Nolien is going as well - the two boys have something of a rivalry and Jan enjoys out-doing the urbane Ruormad.
  • The trip will be something of a jaunt - why who else in Dhoesone can tell tales of the places they will see along the way? Why they will visit the mighty city itself on the route!
  • Doubtless they will meet many folk along the way, and as a noble Jan will be offered lodging at the houses of many nobles - no doubt many with young daughters who will find a doughty man of the north far more attractive than some soft southerner! And his mother need never know for it shall all be far away!

The base DC to persuade Jan to go is 30, each of the above factors if mentioned will reduce the DC by the speakers charisma bonus.

[top]The pilgrims

[top]Ruormad Nolien

Jan Ceolfrithsson (eldest son of Dane Ceolfrithsson) is not the only noble son who could benefit from membership in a Knightly order. Ruormad Nolien considers that the knighthood will provide him with prestige and encourage southern nobles to see nobles of Dhoesone as "proper" nobility rather than as provincial bumpkins. As his parents are sponsoring the quest he joins at the outset as a pilgrim, unlike most pilgrims he is however quite adept at combat and can support the PCs if they require some additional strength, or be conveniently absent visiting some lord in the vicinity if he is not needed.

[top]Brother Parniel

Not every pilgrim is noble in intention; the Bastion sends a lay brother called Parniel on the pilgrimage as they have grown concerned over him. Brother Parniel is not in fact a Haelynite but a Belinite, he prays to Haelyn but his heart simply has no space for foolish sentiments such as weakness and charity and so Belinik truly answers his prayers.

Brother Parniel is deeply concerned by what might happen if he prays before the book and has been praying for guidance, Belinik has responded by sending a Shadow Demon to "guide" the Brother in spiritual matters; in practice the demon intends to guide the brother into openly recognising his true beliefs and casting aside the pilgrimage and Haelyn's creed.

The demon spends most of its time possessing a ring with a fine red agate that hangs around Brother Parniel's neck.

[top]The Knight

The knight competed with his brother for the love of a fair maid, he beat his brother but fell from his horse in the melee; believing himself dying he pleaded with the maid to marry his brother which she gladly did - the knight then recovered and now finds himself growing bitter and jealous. He wishes the pray for forgiveness for his jealousy and receive a quest from the Imperial Otherodox Temple in which he might discover his purpose in life.

[top]The Scribe

The scribe is questing to salve a particularly painful burn that he occured while sinning - specifically while enjoying the affections of a carpenter's wife. The scribe had an affair with the wife which resulted in a rival for the wife's affections thrusting a red-hot poker between the scribe's buttocks (it is a long and very ribald story). The scribe is a strong lusty man who intends to offer three year's service to the Imperial Orthodox Church in exchange for forgiveness for the sin of carnality and for the magical healing of the burn.

[top]The Miller

The Miller frequently stole corn and over-charged for milling and as a result was the victim of revenge by two reevesmen. One reevesman crept into the bed of the Miller's daughter and got her with child, while the other tricked the miller's wife into sleeping with him by moving her babe's cradle from the foot of the miller's bed to the foot of his own bed causing her to mistake his bed for hers in the dark. The daughter and wife have now run off with the reevesmen and the miller considers these acts signs that the gods are punishing him and wishes to make pilgrimage to prove to the gods that he accepts his guilt and has made penance - before they levy further punishment on him.

[top]The Franklin's Wife

The Wife was courted during her husband's absence (on business) by a local lord and made a rash promise to rid herself of the unwanted suitor - she would allow him to ravish her if he "disposed of all the rocks along the coast of Bjondrig" the knight was pleased at this promise for he had tricked the wife into making it - an astrologer had predicted a great tide on the equinox and indeed this occured with all the beaches covered by the high tide. The deed fulfilled, the wife is thus bound to permit the lord to ravish her. She wishes to make pilgrimage in pretense of purifying herself ready for the lord but in practice wishes a law-priest to find some way for her to be released from her vow.

[top]The Cook

The cook is a lecher and drunk and intends to make penance (after enjoying himself "one last time along the way") for his various misdeeds.

[top]The Pilgrimage

[top]The demon ring

The demon ring episode takes place while the pilgrims travel through Brynnor in Mhoried.

The possessed ring is stolen by the cook who needs money to buy booze and companionship while Brother Parnien sleeps. The cook is then plagued by terrible nightmares (he is too sozzled to be possessed by the demon) and casts the ring aside.

Brother Parnien wakes, discovers the ring missing and asks the PCs to help him find it. The demon begins to call to Brother Parniel so that he can recover it but attracts bandits instead, who begin battling to the death over the right to possess it. The cook returns to the camp clearly the worse for drink and in distress babbling about a "nightmare ring".

The Cook's trail is easy to track by anyone with the appropriate skills, but he could also be persuaded to recall that he threw it off while pausing to drink from a stream and wash, there is only one stream nearby and once at it the bandits can be found easily. The bandits seem overcome by battle fury fighting each other without mercy but they turn on the PCs in unison once the PCs make themselves known.

The Knight hears of a kidnapped maiden who has been taken by a knight feuding with his lord; since the lord's immediate family is supposed to be untouched by the laws of righteous feud this incenses the Knight. The Knight requests aid to go to the tower of the vassal and rescue the maiden - and administer a good thrashing to the feuding knight who has broken the laws of righteous war!

The vassal is a knight of very modest means, he holds a tiny watchtower along the river which is charged with collecting fishing duties. The Knight drove off river-bandits while visiting a neighbour a few months ago and was promised a reward by the Count of Brynnor, the reward took the form of a healthy young bullock. While the bullock is quite valuable the Knight felt that it was beneath him and implied (correctly) that he was something of a bullish sort himself. The Knight has accordingly begun a (lawful) war on the Count to win a more appropriate reward.

[top]The wayward path to darkness

The wayward path takes place during the walk beside the Stonebryn river down to Ghieste.

Brother Parniel finds himself fascinated by the wrong doings of the pilgrims and speaking to each about their crimes and offering "guidance" which becomes increasingly Belinite in tone and casts doubt on the actual wrongness of some of the offences. Speaking of such things is part of a pilgrimage however Brother Parniel is excessively interested and his comments are odd for a Haelynite lay brother. Brother Parnien comes to blows with the Miller who is infuriated by Brother Parniel's comments and if the PCs don't intervene it is likely that the Miller will be badly beaten by Brother Parnien.

Each of the Miller and the Brother have different explanations for their blows:

The Miller's claim:
" He asked me if I should not seek to recover my wife and daughter rather than flee my responsibilities, show them my strength and wisdom and so win them back from the coniving youths that stole them away from me - how could my womenfolk respect me as husband and father if I but fled once the contest began? Weak he called me - weak! He claimed that if lacked the courage to fight then I deserved to lose that which I loved! I'd hear no more, no man talks to me like that brother of the church or not!"

Brother Parnien's claim:
"I asked him the crime for which he sought penance and discussed it with him to better aid him to understand his transgression and accept the spiritual growth which is the purpose of pilgrimage - I have spoken so with all the pilgrims and all save the Miller were the better for it!"

If asked about what brother Parnien discussed with them (i.e if the PCs want to check on what Brother PC might actually have said to the Miller) the other pilgrims say:

The Scribe: Brother Parnien asked me what revenge I had taken on the carpenter for the cruel burn he gave me with the poker, I confessed I had done naught but run in shame and he asked me if perhaps I yet suffer my burn because I had not stood my ground and made holy battle, I'd not considered such, but and He himself is of course lord of war - but thinking yet more I am satisfied that my path is right - a fight with the carpenter would not have been righteous and such would not have been held Holy by Him.

The Wife: Brother Parnien asked me if being taken by the lord would be so bad - saying that my long absence on pilgrimage could be worse for my husband than a single night apart - would my husband truly be so shamed - 'tis hardly uncommon for a lord to sow his oats widely after-all. The wife is sure that brother Parnien seeks merely to make her consider whether her decision to go on pilgrimage is righteous.

The Cook: He said I was weak to allow drink and wenching to overcome me so and that I robbed not merely myself of support, but also my fellows for what use was I to them whilst sozzled? He is right in that of course, and truly I must hope that Holy pilgrimage grants me strength to restrain my appetites - once I reach Diemed though eh? Plenty of time yet to repent after-all!

The Knight: He asked whether I was angered by losing my bride - I had won the contest of arms and beaten my brother, she was mine to woo by right - yet believing myself dying had granted right to woo her to him. Now I was recovered did I not desire to claim my prize? I have often thought such, to my shame - for she has chosen him in her heart and there is no doubt of it. He challenged me on whether it was my loss I fled from, or fear of cowardice in refusing to face my brother again - it is right he challenge me for all pilgrims must look within on their journey, but his tone sounded odd for a holy brother.

The Miller hears from some villagers that goblins recently stole corn from the village and thus the people face hardship. Reasoning that the gods may be testing him and that returning the corn is, in any event, a good penance given his crimes the Miller, fortified with much Brecht courage (a common term in Dhoesone for those whose courage is strengthened by alcohol) the Miller creeps away from the other pilgrims on his "quest". The Wife sees the Miller go and after talking to the villagers informs the PCs that she thinks that the Miller has gone to his doom in a foolish attempt to retrieve the harvest.

The Cook is found drinking the brandy in which Lord Vordhuine is pickled. The cook explains that he is weak and without the holy strength of the Orthodox Imperial Temple he cannot contain himself. A sound thrashing or firm moral talk will work wonders on the Cook, but the brandy will need to be topped up before the body begins to putrefy and this will require a trip to a town of some description.

[top]Might is right

While looking for somewhere private to relieve himself, Brother Parnien comes across some bandits. Feeling an abrupt need to "let off some steam" Brother Parnien challenges the men and thrashes them soundly. The bandits run off and quickly return to their band - who are very unhappy at the tale and come looking for bloody revenge on Brother Parnien.

The bandits comes across the Cook while he is seeking to similarly empty his bladder and the cook comes charging back into the pilgrims' camp, bereft of his breeches, and hotly pursued by the bandits. Two of the bandits are notably bruised and clearly had recently been on the losing side of a knuckle fight, if brother Parnien is inspected his sleeves still show the bloodstains. If asked he admits to beating the pair, but claims that they attacked him - what else should he have done?

The scribe and the cook come to blows over attempts to bed the wife. The two men counsel her that since she is to be bedded by the lord when she returns, she is inevitably guilty of cuckolding her husband and accordingly she might as well sleep with them as well; they claim that having roused them by her presence and womanly ways she is duty bound to satisfy their lust.

The scribe is very persistent, considering that since the Imperials will likely impose a duty of chastity as penance for his many adulterous transgressions the pilgrimage itself is his last chance for "some fun". The scribe can be persuaded to restrain himself only with a DC 30 diplomacy check, but any PC counseling him to see the pilgrimage itself as part of his spiritual purification reduces the DC by 5 to their check and those recommending restraint to win favour with the imperials likewise reduce the DC by 5.

[top]In the embrace of Shadow

The embrace of Shadow occurs shortly after leaving the City of Endier.

Brother Parnien accepts Belinik as his patron and becomes far less obvious in his spiritual turmoil, he also however becomes interested in the idea of aiding the Shadow Fiend to possess the dead body of Lord Vordhuine Noel, a man who clearly understood that strength is to be held tightly to oneself - not squandered aiding the weak!

Brother Parnien hires a number of ne'er-do-wells while he is in Endier and arranges for one group of them to steal the corpse so that he can perform a ritual in private, the other group will distract the pilgrims (and particularly the PCs) so that they can't interfere. The ritual will merge the Shadow Demon with the remains of Lord Noel's spirit to create a Bodak - a damned soul cursed to walk the mortal world who will test the strength of the weak Anuirean nobles properly!

Note: Until an epiphany while in the City of Endier Brother Parnien considers himself a lay brother of Haelyn, just one with an increasing impatience with weakness and keen appreciation of strength. His holy symbol is that of Haelyn until Endier where he replaced it with a holy symbol of Belinik.

The wife persuades a wanton wench she meets in the city of Endier to undertake pilgrimage with them so that she may return to her fifth husband (like the others, a wealthy old merchant) a more modest and dutiful wife. The merchant however wishes his wife to remain with him, well aware that his heart cannot endure his wife's lusts he is content to die "as long as I may lay within her while I do!" The PCs may convince the wench to return to her husband and satisfy his dying wishes, convince the husband to permit her to undertake pilgrimage, or even undertake pilgrimage with her himself.


If the PCs allow Brother Parnien to create the Bodak the brother finds he cannot control it at all, it forces him to flee before heading out into Anuire to wreak havoc on the weak. Lord Hadrien Neol will be horrified that his father's corpse was stolen - double so if he learns that it was possessed by a demon. Count Nolien will also be aghast at the PCs ineptitude as will Haelyn's Bastion of Truth who will immediately rouse "poper" knights to set out to hunt down the Bodak.

If the PCs defeat brother Parnien and keep it quiet then Haelyn's Bastion will be privately aghast at brother Parnein's deception, but very grateful to the PCs both for stopping him and for keeping it quiet.

If the PCs stop Brother Parnien but the attempted corruption becomes publicly known Haelyn's Bastion is embarrassed (though publicly grateful), Lord Hadrien Noel and Count Nolien are suitably grateful.

If the PCs did well on the side-treks (i.e. arguing the philosophy of Haelyn, Cuiraecen or Nesirie to solve the moral conundrums and put the pilgrims on the path to salvation) then they win much respect from Haelyn's Bastion of Truth.

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