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OK, it's too quiet around here, so I'm going to ask for some feedback/advice on a quickie 5 Shires adventure I made, adapting WotC's "Diablo II" quickstart game and integrating it with Mystara and elements drawn from the "Five Shires" gazetteer.

First up, an expanding description of the village of Leafkindle and the basic NPCs (since this is a quickie dungeon stomp, I'm actually dragging out the cliché of patron and barmaid, just for fun).


by Beau Yarbrough

Leafkindle, Seashire is a quiet and pleasant village in the heart of the Five Shires. It sits at the meeting point of three roads from Highshire, Seashire and Heartshire and within a grove of shade trees, which in autumn blaze with colour.

Only about 200 hin, along with a few dozen elves and a handful of humans live in the village, and the Belnose, Mouldwalk and Proudstride clans are renowned farmers, producing some of the best farm produce in the Shires.

The grove of trees that surrounds Leafkindle is distinct from the light woods to the south, the Skunkwood, and is separated from it by a mile or so of rolling hills, the centre of which is the vineyard-covered Rose Hill, the clan stronghold of Clan Proudstride. Beyond Rose Hill, in the Skunkwood, is said to be the gathering place of several hin Masters, secretive and powerful guardians of the Shires.

Like much of the Five Shires, this is an area beloved by its visitors and in addition to the native hin and elves, several human wizards have retired to the area, although they tend to stay out of sight.

Although the town boasts an inn and two guesthouses, its lone tavern, the Duskymoot, is located just outside of Leafkindle proper, on the road south to Deepmoss.

The Duskymoot

Leafkindle's lone tavern, the Duskymoot, is set back from the road to Deepmoss, nestled within an obscuring thicket of trees and honeysuckle vines in high summer. The tavern has a thatched roof that gets somewhat green and mossy during the summer. Its inset windows are deeply shaded by the roof and surrounding trees, crickets and cicadas buzz day and night and the whole setting has a great air of intimacy and security. The whole is lightly dusted with pollen from the surrounding trees much of the year, which is where the tavern got its name.

Those inside the tavern are a mix of local farmers, visiting traders and a sprinkling of adventurers here visiting the retired adventurers and hin Masters in the area. Patrons expect privacy and get it, although everyone is expected to join in during the regular singalongs of traditional hin anthems.

The tavern charges average prices for its wares, except for locally produced wines, ciders and brandies, all of which are offered at discount and are pushed heavily by the staff and patrons. Visitors would do well to sample the Proudstride Rose Red or cherry wine, Mouldwalk brandy, or Belnose cider if they don't want to offend the local residents.

Lawful Good female hin bartender

Fern Mouldwalk has worked at the Duskymoot tavern in Leafkindle since she was old enough to carry a tray without spilling the contents. She's an attractive hin, slim with long curly fair hair and twinkling green eyes and typically wears a dark green skirt with a hem embroidered with flowers and a white blouse. She's known for her quick wit (Intelligence 15) and charm (Charisma 14). She is interested in little in life beyond working at the tavern - which her aunt Petunia owns - raising her three children and collecting horrible, corny jokes from travellers, which she inflicts on her customers mercilessly. Fern's something of a flirt, with a particular fondness for elves, but means nothing by it, and is very loyal to her husband, Colin. Although she doesn't gossip maliciously, she still knows about nearly everything that goes on in Leafkindle. In recent years, she's taken to greeting customers and people on the street with knock-knock jokes.

Sample knock-knock jokes:
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Wood who?"
"Wood you like anything to drink?"

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Butcher who?"
"Butcher loving arms around me!"

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Rude interrupting cow."
"Rude interrupting c ..."
Fern, interrupting: "MOOOOO!"

Lawful Good male hin merchant and fighter 3

Baltho Proudstride is a farmer and sometime importer living on the Proudstride clan holdings where was born in Leafkindle, Seashire.

With one major exception, he fits the cliché of what a halfling looks like in the minds of outsiders: He's plump with a double chin, has curly brown hair and sideburns just beginning to get salted with grey hair, wears a large straining embroidered vest with a gold watch chain glittering across his large belly (connected to a gnomish pocket watch that is more of a conversation piece than actually reliable) and is invariably barefoot, with a bush of curly brown hair on his right foot. His left leg below the knee, though, is a wooden peg. He lost the leg in Ethengar when a business deal turned out to be a front for banditry, and he made his way back through the Broken Lands with only a stump. By the time he made it into Darokin, it was too late for even regeneration, if he could have afforded it. He doesn't mind the stump, now, as "it just goes to show there are them that should be fooling about in foreign lands, and them that should stay at home running the shop."

His yallara ending prematurely and traumatically, Baltho threw himself into the family business of watermelons, and gamely tries to make sure the farm produces the biggest and most flavourful melons in the Shires. But his heart still yearns for adventure, against his more practical side (which includes his lower left leg). As a result, he's taken to financing a "little hobby of an import/export business" on the side. The more extreme the objects being imported and exported, the more excited he is about them, with the result that he ends up dealing with very dangerous objects and people more often than he should.

What Baltho doesn't realise is that he's actually the victim of a curse: Having defaced a relic sacred to Alphaks for its gemstone eyes, he's two years through "seven years of sorrows." Invariably, his schemes bring more pain and misery on him and those around him, and it's getting to the point where all his regular employees have been killed off, mutilated or simply scared off.

Never greatly blessed with wisdom (Wisdom 8), Baltho is capable making his schemes seem plausible by dint of his compelling personality (Charisma 17) and thus ends up with plenty of willing agents and the agents he has to hire to get the original agents out of trouble. As a reluctant farmer and an armchair adventurer, Baltho knows far more than he'd like about watermelons and finds escape in his books, having become an accomplished linguist. He understands many of the languages of the Known World - although his ability to read them often outstrips his ability to speak them - including Thyatian, Ylari, Elven, Dengar and Makai.

While Baltho will tell non-hin that he likes them and their company, the truth is that he's much more comfortable with his own people, especially when there's trouble, as hin are more reliable in his experience and he hates the idea of other folk coming to the rescue of "halflings." He tolerates what he sees as the inevitable condescension of other races, grinning along at their pats on the head, but becomes a much more serious businessman and ex-adventurer when he's alone with hin. He employs humans when he has to import something out of Glantri - working through a hired intermediary in Darokin - but otherwise employs hin adventurers and sea captains exclusively when he can manage it.

All this import/export business and his curse means Baltho is well-known to the Sheriffs and Krondar, and there are few major cities in the Known World where he doesn't know someone.

Baltho has become somewhat superstitious about his leg stump: Apparently, earlier in the day before it was severed, his leg had begun to ache, and now, he feels that any pain in his stump is a warning of trouble.