Introduction

Located far off any major roads, Brywood survives due to its position on the Dartonas River. Most of the traffic that enters Brywood does so via the docks. All sorts of people pass through the small town of Brywood — rich aristocrats sailing downriver to the coast, gruff traders looking to sell their goods to towns along the river, and plucky adventurers might all find themselves in Brywood for a night or two of their journey. The adventure presented here is designed for an adventuring party of four 3rd level characters.

History

Long ago, Brywood was nothing more than a small clearing in the woods against the Dartonas River. Journeys along the river were long and exhausting because of the great distance from one town to another. One enterprising woman, Ilsevel Elaphyra, hired a few guards and built the Bard and Nymph Inn to serve people traveling along the Dartonas River.

As traffic to the inn increased, traders and crafters settled down around the inn in an attempt to make a profit off those who would invariably need their services. Before long, a small town had grown up, and with its growth came the chaos of a rough river town. To keep the peace, Ilsevel hired enough guards to regularly patrol the town, and she began asking for tribute from those who settled around her in order to fund her guards. Ilsevel became the Lady of Brywood almost by accident.

When Ilsevel died, her children took over running the Bard and Nymph in her place. The eldest, her son Jerindel, became the Lord of Brywood. He continued his mother’s practices of heavily taxing merchants and crafters that came to Brywood in order to fund the city’s guards. Years passed, with each member of the ruling family continuing to follow the practices of their ancestors. Today, the city is ruled by Lady Athlana Elaphyra.

Culture

In many places, youngsters are taught that crime doesn’t pay. In Brywood, this saying has a different emphasis. Acquiring wealth is a major cultural drive for citizens in Brywood; if something doesn’t offer a chance to accumulate more wealth, then there’s no point in pursuing it. Crime in Brywood is easily managed simply because there is not much open crime and because the guards are very capable of doing their job. Like many other places, the true criminal element in Brywood is not stalking the streets looking for purses to cut. The more common criminal is that of the tax collector or the guard who shakes the merchants down for a bit more than necessary and then keeps the extra for themselves.

When criminals are caught, punishments are either extremely severe or surprisingly lax. Many crimes that don’t result in bodily injury to others only receive a fine if the crime was committed in pursuit of wealth. More severe cases involving locals are punished with exile; travelers are beaten and dropped in the river before being banished. Criminals who receive the most extreme punishment are hanged over the river until they are nearly dead and then dropped into the river.

Even for all its failings, Brywood’s citizens are intensely proud of themselves and of their city. In their minds, Brywood is a shining oasis of civilization in a desert of riverside wilderness. They are not totally wrong. Since Brywood is the only stop along this part of the Dartonas River, most ships stop for resupply and rest at Brywood’s docks. Since those ships might carry anyone from the most regal monarch to the grimiest riverworker, Brywood must be ready for anyone to set foot on shore. Accordingly, Brywood’s inns range from extravagant to cheap.

Locations

The town of Brywood is full of interesting locations that have developed to serve the diverse needs of its visitors. Major businesses have been labeled on the map and given further detail below.

Brywood

  1. The Bard and Nymph Inn. Though the original Bard and Nymph Inn no longer stands, the current iteration of the famous lodging occupies the original site. Over the years, the Elaphyra family has added onto the building until it resembles a small keep more than a simple inn. Of course, the safety and security of such a building brings a high price for those who choose to stay in the inn. The Elaphyra family lives in the upper floors of the inn, which are off-limits to their customers.

  2. Bered’s Fine Clothing. Bered Damek, the half-orc proprietor of Bered’s Fine Clothing, is the sole source of fashionable clothing in Brywood. With the blessing of the Elaphyra family, he took over the two buildings nearest the Bard and Nymph in order to better serve the family’s needs and to offer his services to their clients as well. Bered is friendly in general, though he is quite judgmental of poor fashion choices.

  3. Bered’s Fine Hats. Bered owns this store as well. He considers hats to be a separate art from clothing and refuses to sell the two together. Bered’s apprentice, a human named Maria, is usually in charge of managing Bered’s Fine Hats.

  4. The Crown and Sword. The Crown and Sword is the inn of choice of the majority of people who pass through Brywood. Unlike the Bard and Nymph, the Crown and Sword is actually affordable. Unlike the Eagle’s Flight, the food is tasty and the beds aren’t lumpy. Eindora Gervant, a dwarven woman, runs the Crown and Sword.

  5. Mother Elwin’s. Mother Elwin appears to be an elderly elven woman who is known for her herbal remedies. No one knows exactly who she is, but everyone trusts her to care for the sick in Brywood. She sells her remedies in the forms of packets of herbs for teas and poultices rather than potions.

  6. Bonfire Pit. The bonfire pit is the place in Brywood where the locals gather to celebrate and to socialize. Unlike many other towns, the taverns in Brywood are almost always full of travelers. To avoid having to deal with them, the locals of Brywood bring their ale to the bonfire pit for conversation and companionship.

  7. The Eagle’s Flight. The Eagle’s Flight, despite its lofty name, is the cheapest inn in Brywood. Its patrons tend to be people with little money or people who don’t want to spend their money. While staying at the Eagle’s Flight won’t kill you, it certainly isn’t a pleasant experience. The stingy gnome Renkert Loknar is the owner of the Eagle’s Flight.

  8. River Market. Most trade happens in the colorful pop-up stalls of the River Market. Traders who stop in Brywood must first rent these stalls from the Bard and Nymph. Once they have their stall, there is fierce competition to claim spaces near the road. Locals from Brywood purchase the things they can’t get, or they barter with things that Brywood produces, such as potions or perfumes.

  9. Potions and Perfumes. Brywood is known for its potions and perfumes that come from the uncreatively named Potions and Perfumes. Nephzire, a tiefling man, runs the business. According to him, the soil near Brywood is perfect for growing the strange plants that he needs to make his potions and perfumes have that extra something that he’s known for.

  10. Firelight Forge. The Firelight Forge is run by Shelara Yinfir, an elf woman, and Thurgram Bromnyl, a dwarf man. The two moved to Brywood over a century ago to start their forge. They are both exquisitely skilled smiths, though they have strong disagreements about everything not related to smithing. They can often be heard arguing over the sounds of hammers striking metal. Everyone in Brywood knows that they are excellent friends, but no one in Brywood understands what holds their friendship together.

  11. Tamolan’s Leather Goods. Tamolan’s Leather Goods is owned by none other than Tamolan, the world’s greatest hunter — at least, according to Tamolan. Tamolan is an ancient halfling whose hair has gone entirely to white. Though he moves spryly about his shop, he claims to be over two hundred years old. He has a full complement of apprentices, journymen, and masters who do most of the work while he works on projects he enjoys or tells people stories about his life.

  12. Private Docks. The rich and famous who stop in Brywood pay handsomely to dock at the private docks behind the Bard and Nymph to avoid having to walk through the river market. The fee is never advertised; interested parties must inquire directly at the Bard and Nymph. Local rumor holds that the fee isn’t the same for everyone, and that the Elaphyras often trade in secrets or favors.

  13. Public Docks. Everyone else must dock at the public docks. These docks are often full of shouts and grunts of dock workers moving goods from ship to shore. The River Market blends seemlessly with the docks, and some cheap captains sell goods directly from their docked ships.

  14. Dern’s Lumbermill and Carpentry. The dragonborn Dern is the only business to have migrated across the bridge from Brywood. Not only does Dern prefer solitude, he also prefers to be closer to the forests that he cuts for lumber and closer to the river that powers his mill.

The Champion

Recently, a new arrival in Brywood has caused a bit of trouble for Lady Athlana and her guards. Sir Ioco the Beast, a knightly servant of the nearby kingdom, arrived in Brywood nearly six months ago. In that time, Sir Ioco has defended the city from threats that the guards refuse to stand against. Nearly single-handedly, Sir Ioco has held off hordes of bandits, an angry tribe of goblins, and even a hydra, forcing it to retreat from Brywood’s shores.

Sir Ioco the Beast

Sir Ioco’s refusal to take any payment more than the smallest amount offends the sensibilities of Lady Athlana and causes her to suspect that he has ulterior motives. She believes that Sir Ioco must be getting something out of his work that she doesn’t know about. To discover his secret, she has several spies attempting to follow the valiant knight.

Sir Ioco claims that he heard about Brywood from some adventurers he met and thought the place sounded truly horrible. In service to his god, he has devoted himself to ensuring that the people of Brywood are safe, regardless of whether they are able to pay the Elaphyra family their protection money or not. The poorer citizens of Brywood have no issues with this arrangement, and the wealthier citizens aren’t sure whether they are offended by his charity work or happy to save money on their taxes.

In truth, Sir Ioco was born in Brywood, though his mother fled soon after. Sir Ioco’s father was an infamous criminal — a knight who pledged himself to dark forces. Galeran the Betrayer abandoned his oath to serve the forces of good and instead launched an assault on Brywood and its chapel an attempt to claim its treasure, a fabled sword of great power. During Galeran’s attack, the chapel was sealed shut with him inside, and the chapel was abandoned.

Sir Ioco is attempting to enter the chapel to discover what happened to his father and to recover the artifacts of the chapel for his god.

A Father’s Legacy

The arrival of adventurers in Brywood is a common occurrence, and most people take advantage of people who will do dangerous things for money or items.

Getting Started

This adventure revolves around the mysterious Sir Ioco. Lady Athlana wants to know why he is in her town disrupting the order of things. Sir Ioco has his own reasons for being in town; he is both trying to make up for the crimes of his father and restore the chapel of the woods. The adventure begins when the characters seek out a place to eat and sleep for the night.

Evening has fallen when you arrive in the bustling town of Brywood. You heard travelers on the way discussing the inns in Brywood. The largest, the Bard and Nymph Inn, is a solid structure of stone, almost like a miniature castle. The Crown and Sword is the second largest, and the Eagle’s Flight is the smallest. The smell of cooking food rises from the center of the largest cluster of houses, and you can see smoke from a bonfire.

The Knight’s Secrets

Lady Athlana’s spies can easily recognize an adventurer, and the characters are no exception. When the characters find a place to eat, Udreth Losh, a spy, starts a conversation with them, subtly attempting to hire them to spy on Sir Ioco.

As you begin to eat your meal, a half-orc commoner approaches you. He casually asks whether you have met Sir Ioco yet or heard of him. He explains that the knight’s presence in Brywood is a true blessing and a mystery. He says that he’s heard that someone will pay a great deal of money to anyone who can explain what brought the knight to Brywood. He explains that some people — not him — believe that no one would defend Brywood out of the goodness of their hearts alone. He mentions Sir Ioco spends at least one day per week out in the woods alone, and no one has been able to track him. He gives you a knowing look, and tells you that he’s off to the Crown and Sword, where he can be found every night, should you hear anything about Ioco that you want to share.

Restoring the Chapel

If the characters choose to stay at the Crown and Sword, they will meet Sir Ioco himself as he finishes his evening prayers. He exits the tent as they arrive and jovially greets them.

A circular tent is pitched behind the Crown and Sword. It looks much like one that a general might have on a war campaign. The tent is sky blue and accented with strips of gold cloth. A flag fluttering above the tent shows the symbol of a fist clutching a lightning bolt. From within the tent, a loud voice can be heard praying the concluding lines of an evening service. When the service ends, Sir Ioco steps out of his tent. He happily greets you and asks if you were about to eat at the Crown and Sword and if he can join you.

Over dinner, Sir Ioco reveals that he has come to restore his order’s presence to Brywood. He claims that without the presence of his order to defend Brywood, attacks against the city will be become more frequent. He tells the characters that he is trying to reopen the old chapel outside of town, but he confesses that he has not been able to bypass the magic that sealed it so long ago. He offers the characters a small sum of money to aid in reopening the chapel.

Ambushed in the Woods

As the characters travel with Sir Ioco to the chapel, they are ambushed by six thugs. Sir Ioco has not been subtle about his anger towards the bandit gangs that attack smaller ships headed downriver from Brywood. While Sir Ioco states that he alone can do nothing to stop the bandit gangs, he believes that when the chapel is restored, his order will return to Brywood and drive the bandit gangs away. Unfortunately for Sir Ioco, the bandit leaders believe him, and they have cooperated to kill him so that his vision never comes to pass.

The thugs have orders to kill Sir Ioco, so they attack him first. If Sir Ioco falls below 15 hit points, he will call for a retreat. If Sir Ioco falls to 0 hit points, he rolls death saving throws. If Sir Ioco dies, he manages to cry out to the characters to find his journal in the tent, which reveals his true past and his desire to atone for his father’s deeds.

After the bandits are defeated, Sir Ioco explains who the bandits are as he arranges their bodies in a line. He intends to return for them to give them a proper burial later, but for now, he leaves them in case their comrades seek to claim them.

Encounter Summary
Creatures
6 thugs
Loot
Any gear the thugs are carrying, plus 100 sp between the thugs and two potions of healing, and a note ordering the death of Sir Ioco
Tactics
The thugs have pack tactics and orders to kill Sir Ioco. The thugs will attempt to ambush the characters and surprise them, using their heavy crossbows. Once combat begins, most of the thugs will advance while one or two of the thugs stays to use his crossbow. The thugs try to stay in pairs if possible.

The Chapel of the Forest

The woods around Brywood are unpleasant to walk through. They are full of briars and brambles that block easy passage between trees. Sir Ioco never cleared a path to the chapel for the sake of his privacy, and so the characters must follow his lead through the underbrush.

After marching through unnaturally large brambles and briars for nearly four hours, you find yourselves in a clearing deep in the woods. The clearing is raked clean, and old firepits indicate where Sir Ioco has burned leaves and debris. A small chapel sits in the center of the clearing. Its windows are opaque; you can only see darkness within. The roof is made from green shingles, and the walls are made of a dark stone. Mystical sigils are carved into the ground around the chapel; nothing grows around them, and even the leaves that fall from the trees leave them uncovered.

Sir Ioco formally presents the chapel to the characters as “the chapel of the forest, where all may come for peace.” He sighs and mentions that the saying hasn’t been true for nearly two decades. Sir Ioco considers revealing his full knowledge of the chapel, but he hesitates, instead only saying that he has heard rumors that an evil man was sealed in the chapel long ago.

Entering the Chapel

Sir Ioco tells the characters that he has tried to break into the chapel multiple times through smashing in the door, breaking the lock, and through shattering windows. As far as he has tried, no normal method of breaking and entering will be successful. Instead, he suggests that the characters attempt to disable the seal to unlock the door while he stands ready in case something comes out of the chapel. He also warns them that they must hurry once they begin, as he suspects that whatever darkness haunts the chapel will feel their meddling with the runes.

There are five primary runes inscribed in the ground around the chapel. These powerful runes are the source of the magic that seals the chapel. The soil where these runes were inscribed has become solid stone as a result of the magic flowing through it. The stone and its associated rune can be picked up, but moving a rune requires a DC 20 Strength check. Once a rune has been moved more than a foot away, its magic fades. The magic of a rune can also be dispelled by a DC 20 Arcana check. Runes have an AC of 23 and 10 hit points. Failure on the check to disable the rune means that the disabling the rune takes ten minutes rather than a single attempt, and these failures affect the difficulty of later encounters.

When the runes are all disabled, Sir Ioco proclaims that the door can be opened, and he waits for the characters to gather around him. Once they have arrived, he lights a torch and opens the door.

The Betrayer’s Tomb

When Sir Ioco’s order sealed Galeran inside the chapel, he was not alone. They sealed six of his strongest soldiers with him. Galeran and his soldiers resorted to cannibalism in order to survive, eating the weakest among them. When they ran out of meat, they killed the next weakest, and so on, until only Galeran remained. Eventually, he began to feel the pangs of hunger gnawing at him. With no other options, Galeran called out to dark powers to aid him, promising whatever he could if they would keep him from dying. Something heard him and helped him, in a manner of speaking. The evil being that heard Galeran flooded his body with necrotic energy, ending his life and raising him as a free undead. In the time since then, Galeran has experimented with his abilities.

Galeran awakens from dormancy when the first rune is disabled. He begins preparing his forces, summoning the souls of his slain soldiers and reanimating their skeletons to fight with him. The encounters within the chapel depend on how successful the characters were at disarming the runes.

Consequences of Failure

Failures Restless Spirits The Walking Dead
0-1 No change No change
2-3 add one specter add one zombie
3-5 add two specters add one zombie and one skeleton

Restless Spirits

If the characters didn’t take too long to disable the runes, then Galeran only had a small amount of time to summon allies. By default, he was only able to summon a poltergeist and a single specter. Adjust this encounter based on the table above, if necessary. The spirits recoil visibly on seeing Sir Ioco; though he is unaware, he looks almost exactly like his father Galeran, and the spirits are dimly aware of the resemblance. The spirits advance on the characters wearily, as if resigned to being destroyed.

The inside of the chapel is dark, even though light should be streaming through the windows. Rotten moldy tapesties decorate the walls, and the air is chilly and damp. Most of the pews have been destroyed. The floor is scorched in several places, as if someone lit a fire there. When you enter, you hear a thud as the door slams shut behind you.

Once the spirits have been defeated, the characters are free to explore the chapel. Sir Ioco runs his hands over most surfaces as he passes by, seeming to be in awe of the dilapidated building. At the altar, he kneels, one fist to the floor, and mutters a prayer under his breath. When he rises, he tells the characters that Galeran will be down the stairs behind the altar.

Creatures
1 poltergeist, 1 specter
Loot
None
Tactics
The specter must advance to melee range in order to fight the characters. While the specter distracts the characters, the poltergeist attempts to hurl characters into the ceiling or away from the specter. The poltergeist only advances to melee range after its Telekinetic Thrust ability is resisted three times. The spirits prefer to stay inside the chapel, but they were given orders to kill the intruders at all costs. They will follow the characters outside if necessary, but they prefer to pass through the walls of the chapel to attack and retreat the same way if they have the movement available.

The Walking Dead

By default, the next encounter involves Galeron the Betrayer, a zombie, and a skeleton. Galeron looks almost exactly like Sir Ioco, and characters with a Passive Perception of 12 or higher notice the resemblance.

In the crypt below the chapel, recessed nooks hold the skeletal remains of former knights and their families and priests who served the chapel. Near the back, Galeran waits with what forces he had time to summon. When Sir Ioco sees Galeron, he says, “Hello, Father. I’ve come to destroy you and restore this chapel.” Galeron only laughs and says, “We’ll see.” You feel an icy chill emanating from the undead knight as he laughs.

When Galeron dies, the curse on the chapel is lifted, and sunlight can be seen illuminating the stairs that lead up to the nave. Galeron’s body crumbles to dust, as do the bodies of his reanimated soldiers. Sir Ioco offers the characters their choice of loot from the temple. The loot all belonged to Galeron and his evil soldiers, and Sir Ioco has no desire to reopen the chapel with their blood money. Sir Ioco also explains that his real motive in cleansing the temple and defending Brywood is to make up for the sins of his father.

Creatures
Galeran the Betrayer, 1 skeleton, 1 zombie
Loot
1 mithral chain shirt (on the body of Galeron’s soldier); 1 Sword of Vengeance (on Galeron)
Tactics
The skeletons stay at range, allowing Galeron and the zombies to hold off the characters. They remain mobile in order to force the characters to engage, ducking behind the pillars of the crypt to avoid being attacked with arrows or spells. The zombies advance on the nearest enemy together, attempting to overwhelm a single character. Galeron himself engages Sir Ioco. Using his multiattack, he directs one of his attacks at Sir Ioco and the other at a character.

Return to Brywood

Sir Ioco tells the characters that they can return to Brywood if they wish, and that he will be a while longer at the chapel neatening up the inside. If the characters choose to stay with him, they help him perform menial chores, like sorting through wall hangings to see which can be repaired and which must be destroyed or hauling the broken pews to the burn piles outside.

Udreth is watching for the characters to return after seeing them enter the forest earlier that day. When the characters are alone again, Udreth approaches them and inquires about their day and whether they learned anything or not. If the characters choose to describe what happened and what they learned about Sir Ioco, Udreth gives them 3 gp each for their information and tells them that they are allowed a night’s stay at the Bard and Nymph Inn, free of charge. He tells them with a wink that the Bard and Nymph often has a lottery system running, and that by chance, they seem to have won today’s drawing. As the characters are moving from their former lodging to the Bard and Nymph, they see guards moving in on Sir Ioco’s tent. Fortunately, Sir Ioco heard their approach and disappeared through the back of the tent into the woods. Lady Athlana announces his banishment from Brywood later that night and offers a reward for his capture. Oddly enough, no one is willing to search the woods for a trained woodsman devoted to defending their city from monsters.

If the characters don’t report their day’s activity, they receive a formal notice the next day informing them of their banishment from Brywood. The notice tells them that if they aren’t gone by sunset, then they will be arrested, beaten, and dropped in the river. Sir Ioco catches up to the characters after hearing the announcment and offers them sanctuary in the chapel any time they need it and thanks them again for their help.