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I'm wanting to run a little campaign in Falcon's Hollow using modified versions of the modules Hollow's Last Hope through to Revenge of the Kobold King with various little side-quests on the way. I'm also going for a grimmer and darker world within these modules. And one of the ways to do this occurred to me while at work tonight; not to have a big epic monster or cackling madman as the big bad of the campaign, but have the big bad be human, mortal and very cruel.
Let me break down what I came up with as a general idea. Thuldrin Kreed is a man desperate to be more than his heritage and abilities allow him to be. In a region ruled by Barons of the freeholds they control, he pictures himself as a self-styled "Lumber Baron" but deep down he knows that isn't true. He is the puppet of the Lumber Consortium, and is barely more than a face than a true partner in the venture.
When one of his surveyors brings back word of a potential jackpot in the hills, something which was missed during the lack-lustre "gold rush" of years past that led to the construction of the Dwarven Monastery and underdeveloped mines, something in his brain clicks. He sends out lumberjacks to check it out, but also with his private guards (one of which is Pay Day) to make sure they don't make it back alive.
With the knowledge of a true mother lode in the hills, he goes about setting himself in a position of complete control of HIS town (as he sees it), first by bringing in a drug to get the girls at the brothel hooked and most of his lumberjacks. He may even have had something to do with the poisoning of the well (is this too much? I'm still brainstorming as I write this). Either way, he makes himself indispensable to the town, a hand in everything.
Once in a true position of power, he invites his partners in the consortium to the town for a get-together. He dines with them, bows to their whims but each and every one of them meets a horrible accident on their way from his soiree.
As the sole partner of the consortium, his first action is to bring a mercenary company as his private guard (I'm thinking hobgoblins). Once they are settled, he announces to all his employees that they are fired, crippling the town's economy. Within just the right amount of time, he announces his new operation, a brand-new mine that he has opened, with positions vacant for a pittance of what he was paying his lumberjacks.
And there he sits, with an entire town his slaves, half of them hooked on a drug he brings in, half of them so desperate for work they succumb to the mines and all of them in fear of the brutal security force in place...at least until the PCs up and take him down.
So, what do people think? It still needs fleshing out and some definite polish but I think it is sound. Of course, most of this will be happening behind the scenes while the PCs try to cope with saving the town from everything else that is happening to it.
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I also made Kreed a bit more evil.
In D0 one of the encounters is about a fox caught in a trap. My group saved the fox an cared for him, so that he got healthy again.
During the campaign, the fox showed up again and again, and the group realized, that the fox wanted to show them something. The fox lead them to Kreeds manor again and again. So they finally decided to break and enter, to show what's inside the manor.
I had a huge complex beneath Kreed manor (old, even before Falcons Hollow was built), were Kreed held Ulizmilla as a prisoner. I decided to keep Ulizmilla alive, and made her an important person for the fey of Darkmoon Wood. The fox I made her companion (made her a witch).
Ulizmilla's guard has been a Devil, and documents, which the group found in a secret room downstairs, showed, that Kreed and Baron Vendikon (from the module Tower fo the Last Baron), were planning to get the wood to Cheliax, rather than Andoran. They both were in the planning stages on how to accomplish that.
The devil was a "present" of Baron Vendikon, so that Kreed could keep Ulizmilla imprisoned, in order to blackmail the fey of the woods to not interfere with logging.