With the release of Complete Championin May, thoughts turn naturally to the heroic, especially the heroic fighter. Talk of heroic fighters usually includes paladins, those exemplars of goodness and law that fight for higher principles and chase evil across the land. This month's hooks involve paladins . . . but not exclusively. Any character can be a champion, so any character should have the chance to partake of heroic adventures. These hooks involve paladins that need the help of other heroic characters.
Imprisoned -- Eberron
Several hundred years ago, a paladin of the Silver Flame named Sojer Ustel single-handedly defended the small town of Banesia, in northwestern Thrane, from a tribe of werewolves that lived in the forest northeast of Daskaran. The group of werewolves preyed on the smaller towns in the region because the people could not defend themselves very well. Eventually, Sojer Ustel came to Banesia and rallied the people to make a stand. In the name of the Silver Flame, he attacked the werewolves when they next came to Banesia and drove them off. That started a war between the paladin and the werewolves that lasted for several months -- a war that the werewolves were losing.
At the end, the paladin disappeared without a trace. The worried people faked his presence when the werewolves next came. The tired werewolves, now reduced to only a few, decided that they'd had enough and left the area. The people rejoiced and gave the credit to Sojer for driving them off. They commissioned a statue of Sojer from descriptions of him. The statue was duly erected in the town square, but no trace of the man himself was ever found. He simply disappeared into history. He has served as an inspiration to generations of paladins ever since, and a legend states that he will return when needed.
Recently, a sage and historian came through trying to piece together the life of Sojer Ustel. In the course of her investigations she came to the conclusion that Sojer didn't just disappear; he was attacked by a demon and his soul was trapped in the statue in the center of Banesia. This sage, named Claristel, wants help finding Sojer's remains and somehow restoring him from the dead.
Here are some suggestions for using this hook in other campaign worlds. Complete Champion can help flesh out the petrified paladin. The AD&DVan Richten's Guide to Werebeasts could help with any werewolves you need.
Forgotten Realms: This adventure could work very well in the Dalelands, where each Dale (and each town) is more or less independent. The werewolves would live in the nearby forest. Daggerdale and Deepingdale offer access to the mountains as well.
A village stalked by werewolves (or were-whatevers -- it doesn't much matter) that is somewhat isolated is all you need.
Greyhawk: Set this adventure in Veluna or Furyondy, on the northern borders with the Vesve Forest and the lands of Iuz. Sojer becomes a paladin of Heironeous.
Modern: In the modern world, Europe seems a good locale for a werewolf-themed adventure. Specifically, set this in northern Scotland, or even central Scotland. Northern England could work, but it is rather populated nowadays. Some places in Wales and Germany might fit the bill too.
Ravenloft: This adventure could be especially well suited to Ravenloft, a land where evil slowly destroys anything good. It would have a tragic ending, of course.
00-45 Claristel really is a historian, but she seeks Sojer's artifact sword rather than the paladin himself.
46-85 Claristel is sincere in what she tells the PCs.
86-00 The descendants of the werewolves that Sojer drove off have returned and seek to stop the PCs from restoring their ancient enemy.
00-45 Sojer is indeed needed now, since the descendants of the werewolves he fought have returned to the area. Led by a nearly indestructible half-fiend werewolf, they cannot be stopped without Sojer's artifact holy sword, and that was lost when he disappeared.
46-70 A descendant of Sojer is in the town, since Sojer had a liaison with a local woman while there. This descendant wants Sojer restored as well so that the descendant can find and claim the holy sword.
71-85 Sojer has been driven mad during his centuries of imprisonment in the statue. If he is restored, he begins a streak of deranged evil acts. He must be stopped so that he can atone for these deeds (and be cured) if anyone is to find the sword.
86-00 Sojer's sword is normal. Sojer has the power within him (or did in his old body) to make any weapon he holds into a bane (shapechangers) weapon. He may or may not realize this. If he does not, then he seeks out his old sword when restored. But he needs his original body.
Atonement -- Greyhawk
The PCs are in Rakervale, in the Theocracy of the Pale, for whatever reason. Perhaps they are on their way to Ratik, or they seek adventure in the Rakers. During the afternoon they witness a female warrior in bent and broken full plate armor limp into the town from the northwest and then collapse in the street. Her name is Saita Oroda, and she is trying to become a paladin of Pholtus. Either when revived right then by the PCs, or later, she can relate this story.
Trolls go anywhere, which is cool because as classic monsters go, they are hard to beat. Give them barbarian or scout levels to make them tougher. You can also use different kinds of trolls from Monster Manual III.
Eberron: Try the Shadow Marches. Xen'drik might be good too, since the captive parents could have been transported by ship or flying ship from Khorvaire.
Forgotten Realms: You could set this adventure near the High Moor. The trolls could live in the Moor or the Misty Forest.
Generic: You need a place where trolls live. Sounds simple, eh?
Modern: In the Modern world, trolls might live anywhere that is not too dry. These trolls could be members of a crime cartel in Japan or Europe. You could also stage them as brutish creatures living in the Everglades.
"When I was younger, I betrayed my family out of hatred, and I sold them into slavery to some trolls that live in the Troll Fens. Now that I have seen the Light of Pholtus and become a paladin, I must atone for my past misdeeds and undo as many of them as possible. So say the priests of the Blinding Light. I tracked the trolls that have my family, and only my younger brother has been killed in all these years. The rest still work for the trolls. I tried to free them, but the trolls are too much for me to defeat on my own. Unless Pholtus sends aid to me, I shall fail and never achieve the blessed state that I seek."
00-60 Saita is sincere in her desire and reasons. She really wants to be a paladin of Pholtus, poor girl.
61-80 Saita is trying to steal a valuable treasure from the trolls, not rescue her family. She wants the treasure either as an offering to the priest of Pholtus or for its power.
81-00 Saita is a shapechanged doppelganger or fiend trying to lure the PCs to their deaths at the troll camp. Perhaps she is a minion of a recurring villain in your campaign.
00-30 The trolls work for a black dragon, and their camp is actually the dragon's lair.
31-50 There are actually very few trolls. The whole troll camp is on top of an entrance to the Underdark, and the trolls are slaves of a group of mind flayers. The trolls did buy people, who have been taken underground for dining or slavery.
51-75 The trolls have a well-fortified camp, and they are planning a war against the nearby Theocracy of the Pale.
76-00 The troll camp is deserted when the PCs arrive, and it looks like it has not been inhabited in a long time. Careful searching reveals the trolls left recently and moved deeper into the Troll Fens, and, as the PCs follow, they find troll corpses littering the trail. Something really nasty is picking off the trolls and the human slaves.
Resting in Peace -- Forgotten Realms
Traveling in the Dragon Coast region, the PCs come across the body of a warrior of good along the roadway between Teziir and Easting. He has just died from multiple sword and spear wounds, and his blood still flows on the ground. Speak with dead reveals that he is Orlon Caraway, a veteran crusader against evil who had just recently heard the call of paladinhood. He had not become a paladin yet when he was slain by several men and women in a vicious attack. He reveals that he is a native of Eversult, and that he would like to be buried there. He does not want to be restored to life; he has had a good campaign against evil and his time has clearly come.
If the PCs take his body to Eversult, the family assumes that they are friends of Orlon's and invite them to attend the funeral. There, the trouble begins. As the body is being carried in state from the church to the plot, a group of men and women (who could be any humanoid race, but humans might work best) attack the funeral guests. These marauders, all in black with face masks on, slaughter the guests, and especially the members of Orlon's family, with gusto. If seriously opposed by the PCs, they flee, but try to take out Orlon's family first.
A lot of human-ish foes are in this adventure, so when you bring it into your campaign world (assuming you don't run it in the Forgotten Realms), make use of Complete Champion, Complete Scoundrel (especially this one), Complete Mage, and Complete anything else you want. Complete Riding Dog could even be useful. If you like yuan-ti, use Serpent Kingdoms.
Eberron: Breland has enough intrigue and wealthy families for this adventure. Ardev is especially good, because the conflict could expand to include Cyran refugees. Hatheril is also suitable. If you run your campaign in Shar, you can fit the adventure there.
Generic: Set this adventure in any city or town where a somewhat wealthy family could have a scion that fights evil and wants to become a paladin (or wants to betray his/her family). A lot of options are available here. If no pirates operate nearby and you like that complication, make them into barge pirates or land-bound smugglers or whatever.
Greyhawk: Ahlissa is a good place for this adventure; Chathold is especially good. The Hold of the Sea Princes, now taken over by the Scarlet Brotherhood, would also work well.
Modern: Try a small city or town in Asia or Australia. Asia may have a better feel, since this seems like a samurai adventure, but Australia could work very well in the frontier regions.
00-35 Any surviving members of Orlon's family would like the PCs to find out who is behind this attack and make sure that another one doesn't happen.
36-65 A remote cousin, who lives in the nearby town of Ilipur, hired a thieves' guild to kill the rest of the family so that he could inherit all the family property.
66-80 Orlon himself is behind the attacks, even though he's dead. He actually does want to be restored to life, but only after the rest of the family is killed off. He hired the thieves and sacrificed his own life to throw off suspicion. In responding to speak with dead spells, he avoids answering about his own involvement.
81-00 Surviving members of the family want the rogues killed (not caught) because the family hired them to kill any competitors in business at the funeral and the rogues turned on them. In this case, Orlon is an innocent pawn that the family could not let fall into "goodness" by becoming a paladin.
00-30 The attackers only appear human (or elven, or whatever). They are actually demonic monsters from the lower planes.
31-50 The attackers come from an offshoot of the Nightmasks, the powerful thieves' guild of Westgate. Crossing them could get the PCs in real trouble.
51-75 An old enemy of the family has been nursing thoughts of vengeance for decades. Recently turned into a vampire, he or she has used newfound powers to dominate some skilled cutthroats to enact revenge.
76-00 The family is allied with some pirates from the Pirate Isles, while the attackers are other pirates. The whole affair is in reality a war between pirate factions, and the PCs are going to have to go to the isles and deal with pirates to get to the truth.
About the Author
Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda and son Owen.