Characters walking cross country? Here are some quiet little options for when they pass a riverbank... because not ever encounter has to be huge!
A father is fishing with his two sons. Their fishing rods and reels are clearly poorly made and patched and repaired. Similarly, their clothes suggest this is a poor family with few luxuries. They hail the party warmly enough but continue fishing.
They indeed are poor and have no possession of value should the party rob them. (I question what type of people you play with if they do this!)
Should the party give them some money then the father proudly rejects the coin saying ‘Thank you me lord/lady but we don’t need charity. I believe in working for what we have and that’s a lesson my boys need to understand.’
Should the party, either following on from the above or independently, offer to pay for the fish that they have already caught, or pay them to catch some fish for the party then the man will accept. He will not protest if he receives overpayment but he will shake hands with the party and make it clear how grateful he is.
A tall couple dressed all in black and hooded are standing looking out over the river. They are arm in arm and both sport parasols that they are holding up against the sun, shading their already hooded heads.
Should they be approached closer than 15ft they raise a hand in the direction of the individual and ask them to come no closer. ‘We appreciate our privacy if you don’t mind. There are plenty of other parts of the riverside. Let us not crowd this point.’ The voice is male, deep and rich with a sombre tone.
Should the person(s) continue to approach then they both turn and face the intruder, showing their faces and smiling –their fangs and bloodred eyes being visible. (Yes, they are vampires.)
If attacked, either after the above or independently, they will defend themselves but strive to escape – turning into one of their alternative forms if this facilitates their egress.
Should a conversation be struck up with them, before they are forced to expose their nature they will talk without turning around, explaining that they are simply appreciating the quiet beauty of the river. They are knowledgeable about the local area and might provide directions if asked. They’d prefer to be left alone and will not talk for long before moving away.
If the conversation takes place after their nature is known they will speak as above, but whilst watching the party intently. They want no trouble but know to expect trouble from adventurers!
Two urchins from the local village are playing a game of catch with a hard leather ball. The tallest of the two nods a guarded greeting at the party but says nothing. The other one ignores the party entirely and continues with their game.
They will speak if spoken to but will bolt at the first sign of trouble and keep a safe distance between themselves and strangers. They know the best fishing spots on the river locally and can direct the party back to town. Other than that, and the fact that the local barmaid is a pretty redhead that the tallest one fancies, they have little information to share.
A large one-eyed minotaur is standing before a large, crude easel with a canvass stretched taut over it. On the canvass is a half-painted depiction of the river although the riverbank beyond appears distorted. As the party get closer, he looks around and nods calming at each one of them before returning to his painting.
The more observant characters will have noticed that the creature didn’t just look at them casually, he noted their weapons and disposition. He also glanced down to his left where a large axe can be seen stuck into the earth, blade down, handle up.
Should the party speak with him he will be short in reply but not directly rude. He appears distracted by his painting. If asked about the distortion of the riverbank in his picture he will laugh at the character who says it and say, whilst tapping the leather eye patch over his left eye ‘Just cause you can’t see it, don’t mean it ain’t there. That bank ain’t all it looks ta be. Dormant fairy portal if ya ask me.’
Should the party try to rob him or attack him he will express frustration that ‘between idiots and the Cabal never get no peace ta paint’ and then he will happily fight to the death. As he goes down under the final blow he gasps ‘Be seein’ ya’ and dies with a smile on his face.
An elderly couple are slowly walking alongside the riverbank. Their basic homespun clothes and tanned faces mark them out as locals. They are walking hand in hand and are chatting quietly.
They are indeed locals and have worked on the local farms their entire lives. They are quite feeble and can offer no resistance to the characters if roughly handled although they will both try to protect the other. Hopefully, the players will treat them decently as they know the best places to stay in the village, which merchant tends to ‘cheat’ their customers and the locations of at least one ancient crypt that they don’t think anyone else has ever successfully explored… They also speak with heavy local accents and can be hard to understand!
Two tall, slender fairy folk, are standing by the riverbank waving their hands and arms around as they look out onto the water. Looking past them, you can see two model boats, apparently made from leaves and twigs, chasing each other across the water.
If treated in a rude or aggressive manner the fairies will perform a swaying, dancing manoeuvre which opens up a fairy portal – this enables them to slip away without hindrance. The party have also earned the enmity of the fairies and might find themselves hopelessly lost the next time they take a walk in the wilds…
The fair folk will happily talk with the party and, if they are treated kindly, will imbue the characters with the temporary ability to control the boats. If the party want to play along, the fairs will suggest the characters race each other and wager on the outcome.
They assure the party that the boats are equally charmed.
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Manipulation: The Grinning Frog team