A pack of dire foxes burst out of the undergrowth and spook the horses which gallop off wildly at top speed away from the foxes.
The foxes are just messing with the horses and getting their own back for their smaller brethren being hunted on horseback for centuries. They will not pursue or attack the horses but the horses don’t know that. How you resolve the fortunes of the mounted characters on a wildly galloping horse we leave to you!
A heavily armoured figure, riding a griffon, flies past brandishing a large warhammer and shouting to the heavens ‘Call yourself an all-knowing, all-wise God? If you’d wanted the ritual stopped, you should have told me when I was there yesterday.’ He then spurs on his mount to greater speeds and disappears up into the cloud line.
Should the characters find a way to speak with him then his only response is to shout back and say ‘Gods – they have no sense of timing!’
A male figure wearing all worn black leather, wearing a mask and with a tri-cornered hat rides out of the bushes directly in front of the party. A loaded crossbow is held loosely in his hands. His body language speaks of confident menace until he seems to take stock of the party’s composition properly at which point, he looks startled and slightly embarrassed – lowering the crossbow to his side and smiling sheepishly as his horse neighs loudly.
Should the party pause, deliberately do nothing or ignore him, the figure leans forward and speaks quietly (although the characters closest to him can overhear him) to the horse ‘I know Bessie, I know. I was distracted and only saw the first two.’. He then attempts to back his horse into the bushes. (Which is harder than it sounds.)
Should the party attack or directly threaten him he will drop the crossbow and put his hands up claiming the whole thing was a misunderstanding and he thought they were friends of his he was going to give a fright to.
Should the party search him they discoverer a range of items that clearly don’t belong to him including personal letters, multiple wallets and assorted nick-nacks. He is, in fact, a local highwayman but frankly not very good and out of his league going up against the party!
A young female half-orc, riding bare-backed, gallops up to the party and challenges them to a riding contest. She will wager her servitude as a general servant for a week vs. a bag of money. The challenge is to be the first to ride through Thistle Woods, up to Tor Mount and then back again along the cattle trail.
This is an opportunity to teach the players a life lesson – never accept a local challenge from a local person! She might be young but she was practically born in the saddle and she will easily outride any non-fey riders. An elf character, with a high proficiency with horse riding, might be able to hold their own but in the final leg down the cattle trails knowing the route will mean the girl wins by a nose. And thus, the lesson will be taught – if not learnt!
Incidentally, if your party happens to include any murder hobo's then feel free to have this girl be the daughter of the local orc chieftain…
As the party rides along they see in the distance, and then catch up and with an ogre walking alongside a small grey donkey. They are oblivious to the party as it approaches as they appear to be having a heated debate about onions.
Once aware of the party, assuming they are treated well, they will greet them and offer to help them navigate their way to their next location. The two will offer contradictory advice on the directions, however!
Should they be treated unkindly then they will exchange a look before the donkey clicks his heels and they are magically whisked away. The party has made an unnecessary enemy of two well-connected people…
A well-dressed woman rides up to the party from the opposite direction. She does not appear to have any weapons but approaches them with calm authority. She asks their business and where they are heading.
If attacked she magically shields herself before speaking to someone who isn’t there regarding ‘danger’ and melting away into thin air.
If answered truthfully, she will greet them and tell them that they are welcome to travel through the lands but to please respect the people. She also warns them against taking bets against any of the locals (they like to make money from outsiders).
If lied to, she will greet them well enough and explains that the locals are very trusting and they like honest folks like them.
If ignored, she will repeat her question more firmly until one of the above happens.
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Manipulation: The Grinning Frog team