Draycott is a system-neutral adventure setting consisting of a town, an abandoned noble estate, and a lodge of cute beaverfolk. Does your world feature settings like this? This article is designed to help you flesh it out.
Draycott is a village with stone walls built straddling a river. The stone walls encircle the city completely and iron grates have been pounded into the riverbed, allowing water and fish to pass through but blocking anything much larger.
On the north side of the river, there is an enormous field of wheat. The field is split into many straight sections divided by furrows. A northbound road runs out of Draycott straight through the middle of this field, allowing the travel northwards as well as letting the farmers who live in town easy access to their holdings.
The local temple is dedicated to Akia, the region’s harvest goddess. Festivals in her honor are held in the spring and fall. Father Dezal, a 20-year-old man, currently runs the temple. Its previous priest, Dezal’s father, died in a farming accident the previous fall. Dezal’s mother passed away long ago.
Beneath the temple is the Glass Catacombs. This is a winding tunnel system that has been expanded many times over the years. Shelves have been carved directly into the walls, ranging from small nooks to wide galleries. Glittering orbs called “soul spheres” fill these shelves. These are glass balls infused with the cremains of former Draycott citizens.
Each soul sphere has the decedent’s name carved into it, though they are traditionally placed with the name facing downwards. Some shelves have family names carved into them, but most do not. The shelf labeled “Warcoll” is conspicuously empty.
The Coogan Glassery is a large brick building with three chimneys sticking out of its roof. The glassery produces drinking vessels, art, and reading glasses. Their most important work, however, deals with the dead. The Coogan Glassery is vital to interning the dead of Draycott, incinerating their bodies and mixing the ashes with glass to produce fist-sized crystal spheres.
In the center of town is a two-story stone building on the shore of the river. With a wooden wheel attached to its side, and its bottom edge being pushed by the current. In late summer and fall, a constant grinding sound can be heard from inside as the wheel turns the millstone, turning wheat into flour.
The Flour Sack
Across the road from the mill is a combined brewery and tavern. This wattle and daub building is warm and perpetually smells of yeast. Farmers can often be found here, nursing a brew while their flour is milled. Its sign is, quite literally, an empty flour sack hanging from a metal rod.
A painting above the bar depicts a man with black hair and a widow’s peak, hoisting a tankard with his left hand. This is Henry Warcoll, victoriously returning from a hunt.
Red Dragon Stew: A boiled mix of whatever wasn’t sold yesterday, with a copious helping of hot peppers to mask the taste. 6 copper per bowl.
Spit-Roasted Beef: Turned on a spit by a young scullion, this meat is surprisingly moist and reasonably tasty. 3 silver per chunk.
Draycott Cheese: A locally-produced, creamy cheese that goes well with the tavern’s bread. One silver per wedge.
Bread: The bread in Draycott comes in a wide, squat loaf with two slits running lengthwise along the top. The crust is hard and the bread tastes slightly fruity. Two copper per loaf.
Basilisk Bread: This special bread is made exclusively for travelers. It is dark brown with visible seeds in the slices. This bread is incredibly hard and inedible without water or ale to soak it in, but is relatively light-weight, nutrient-dense, and will not spoil. Each slice, combined with water, counts as a meal. One silver per slice.
Ale: The local ale has a clear, honey-like color and a mildly fruity taste. It comes in a nice glass pitcher with a set of glass goblets, unless the person ordering looks like they’ll start a fight, in which case it comes in a wooden pitcher with wooden goblets. Two silver per pitcher.
Violet Wright, barkeep. Violet is a broad-shouldered woman with braided black hair. She runs The Flour Sack with the help of her children. Violet knows most of the town’s business, and talks to almost every traveler who passes through, so she is an excellent source for information. In her younger days, she was quite friendly with the Warcoll family, but it was strictly platonic.
Honey Maxwell, cat: Honey is a chubby cat with brown fur and a white dorsal stripe. In the afternoons, she can be found laying on the roof of The Flour Sack, sunning herself. She wears a leather collar with a stamped metal tag with her name engraved on it, along with some floral motifs.
Montgomery Dezal, preacher. Father Dezal is a 20-year-old man with short black hair and brown eyes. He wears a pair of spectacles to correct his farsightedness. Dezal is secretly the illegitimate son of one of the Warcolls. His widow’s peak and left-handedness attest to this.
Carl Coogan, glassmaker. Carl is a short man with blond, braided hair. He runs the Coogan Glassery, and is deeply passionate about his work.
Clara Coogan, apprentice. Clara is a teenage girl with long, blonde hair. She can usually be found gathering sand from where the Bough River hits the first grate, and can answer most questions about the area.
Samuel Miller, businessman. Mr. Miller is the richest man in town. As you would guess, his family owns the grain mill in the center of town. His large house, on the west side of town, is full of foreign art.
Francis Guthrie, mayor. Mayor Guthrie is an old, bald man with a crooked grin. He manages the ownership of the nearby wheat fields, ensuring the long-term prosperity of the town. In his younger days, he was a guardsman. He believes he’s still handy with a blade, but does not realize how much the years have worn down his skills.
The Warcoll Family
For centuries, the Warcolls stood at the forefront of the kingdom’s efforts to combat supernatural threats. From lycanthropy outbreaks to demonic incursions, the Warcolls were almost always involved in a commanding role.
Unfortunately, when King Gildas the Third took the throne through treachery and conspiracy, he proceeded to purge any influential groups that would not swear fealty to him. One of these was the Warcolls, who were hunted one by one as they once hunted vampires and trolls.
King Gildas’ forces attempted to breach the Warcoll Estate as well, but after three groups of soldiers failed to return from the estate, the king was convinced to leave the place alone. After all, with the Warcolls all dead, surely the estate itself posed no threat.
The Estate holds many arcane treasures, from blades infused with eldritch power to treatises on ancient languages. Unfortunately, the Warcolls were a paranoid family, and many of the more impressive treasures are locked behind intricate puzzles and riddles. For example, the sword infused with the soul of a demon is held in a case that can only be opened by solving a chess puzzle, and several of the pieces for that puzzle are hidden elsewhere in the estate.
This list is arranged from most well-known to least well-known.
- The Warcolls were a family of skilled monster hunters, who have since disappeared.
- The Warcolls were betrayed by the king twenty years ago, and if any survived, they are in hiding.
- The Warcoll Estate is full of arcane treasures and information on monsters.
- Every member of the Warcoll bloodline is left-handed.
- The Warcoll Estate is protected by traps and creatures that will harm any intruders unless a Warcoll is present.
- Julian Warcoll, a member of the last generation of the family, was often seen with Maribeth Dezal before the purge.
A map in the capital lists this place as Beru’s Wood, but to the locals it is simply referred to as “the forest”, as there is no other nearby. The forest is a wide swath of trees and brush, nibbled on at the edges by civilization’s need for building materials. A dirt road runs through the forest, from Draycott to settlements beyond, curving around the larger hills and deeper dips. The road is sometimes blocked by fallen trees, which have to be moved by travelers.
The Bough River runs through the forest towards Draycott, roughly paralleling the path of the road. Unfortunately, at the section where the two come closest, the water level has risen due to the beaver dam. Here, the road is submersed in a foot of water, making the path muddy and slow going.
Near the center of the forest is a large blackened section, the result of a careless traveler’s campfire the year prior. Fortunately, the grass is already beginning to re-grow and a few pine saplings are poking out of the ash.
The Beaver Dam
The Beaver Dam sits across the Bough River, mostly blocking it and causing a reservoir to form. This reservoir is large enough that it has drowned part of the road through the forest. The beaverfolk that live here are industrious, but isolated from the rest of society. Their houses appear to be floating piles of sticks from the outside, but they are hollow on the inside and have an entrance through the floor. The complex of lodges is home to about 15 beaverfolk.
Sturk, beaverfolk. Sturk is a two-foot-tall beaverman with a limited grasp of the common tongue. His attempts to convey his colony’s problems are not very good.
Hagg, beaverpriest. Hagg is a bright-eyed beaverman with honey-colored fur and a necklace made of knotted bark strips. Hagg is a follower of a power known as The Great Architect, patron of builders, who the beaverfolk see obvious kinship with. Hagg does not understand the common tongue, but he can draw very intricate pictograms in bark or dirt.
Adventure: Night of the Castor-Canis!
One week ago, a beaverman named Crob was bitten by a wolf. After a few days of writhing and a boiling fever, the lycanthropic infection took hold and he began rampaging through the lodges and dams. Two beaverfolk managed to escape and head for Draycott: Sturk and Hagg, as above.
The most likely source of a solution for the lycanthrope problem is the Warcoll Estate, and any townsperson asked is likely to mention this. There are, in fact, two solutions at the estate. One is a weapon designed specifically for killing lycanthropes and the other is a potent but perishable cure that must be applied at very close range.
The Wolfsbane Blade. This strange weapon has a three-foot-long handle with a three-foot-long blade. The handle is oval-shaped and made of black wood with silver bands every foot. The blade has an elaborate silver inlay centered around an exorcism sigil. The entire weapon is designed to kill lycanthropes, thus the name.
The Wolfsbane Blade is secured by a relatively simple puzzle. Two suits of armor flank the door that leads from the foyer into the dining hall. The one on the left holds the Wolfsbane Blade in its left hand with the blade downwards, its point set into a notch in the floor. The suit on the right mirrors the other’s pose, save that it is unarmed and its left hand is open, as is its helmet visor. Inside the neck of the armor is a switch which, when hit, causes the hand to open or close. This setup is mirrored on the armor holding the Wolfsbane Blade.
The inscriptions on the blade make its purpose fairly obvious to anyone versed in the arcane arts, but there’s also a scroll of information on the Wolfsbane Blade hidden in the codpiece of the suit of armor that is holding it.
In the alchemical laboratory beneath the estate, there is a cabinet labeled “WOLF CURE” in runic script. Not a different language, just in Common, written like it were runes. This cabinet has a large, iron padlock on it, which can be opened either by finding the key hanging from a chandelier nearby, by picking it (feel free to do it twice to show it wasn’t a fluke), or by hitting the lock body downwards very hard.
Upon opening the cabinet, mist spills out as the supercooled air meets the humid air of the lab. A sealed bottle sits in the middle of a magical circle whose runes glow a bright blue. The bottle appears to be a repurposed wine bottle. Its label has been torn off and, once the frost has been brushed off of it, reads as follows:
The bottle is painfully cold to the touch, but unless the party finds some way to keep it cold, it will spoil in about six hours. Draycott is about two kilometers away, so roughly a half-hour walk, but the forest is about half a day’s walk from there. The bottle is large enough to cure the entirety of the beaverfolk population, plus a few townsfolk.
For the purpose of this adventure, lycanthropy is an infection carried by wolves. For two out of every eight weeks, it makes infected wolves abnormally aggressive, causing them to bite people and other wolves and spread the infection.
If anything other than a canine becomes infected, it turns into a furred, clawed and fanged beast for the duration of the rampage. This new form varies depending on what the host originally was— An elf will retain the pointed ears and grace, an elephantfolk will retain the tusks and trunk, and so on. Importantly for this article, beaverfolk retain the flat tail and buck teeth.
Timeline of Events
If the players do not attempt to influence events, they will proceed like this:
Day 1, villagers report aggressive buck-toothed wolves in the forest.
Day 2, Sturk and Hagg reach Draycott and attempt to communicate that the beaverfolk settlement has a lycanthropy problem.
Day 3, two merchants are attacked on the road between the forest and Draycott. One, a human man named Thomas Fulk, manages to escape with the goods and a bite wound on his leg, the other is slain.
Day 4, the gates to Draycott are closed and barred. Entry and exit is officially forbidden. Thomas Fulk is wracked by a painful fever.
Day 5, Thomas Fulk’s infection fully takes hold, and he becomes a hairy, fanged monster rampaging through the town. At nightfall, a horde of half-wolf, half-beaver monsters begin attacking the walls and trying to break through the grates in the river. The bell at the temple rings continuously from now until just before midnight on Day 6.
Day 6, general chaos. Fire, death. The villagers hold a brave last stand at the Temple of Akia and eventually fall late in the night. The bells stop ringing.
Day 7, the fires eventually burn themselves out. The lycanthrope rage fades within a few days. The beaverfolk return to their dam, Draycott is abandoned, and the beaverfolk will rampage again in six weeks.
I hope you enjoyed this little farming town and its neighboring settlements. The Warcoll Estate is meant to work as a general information source for any party that passes through this area. Its libraries and basements contain many books on arcane secrets, though the really important things tend to be locked behind some kind of obtuse puzzle.
I read way, way too much about medieval farming practices while working on this article. You do not want to be a medieval farmer, let me tell you.
Special thanks to CatlingGun, who did the label for the werewolf cure.
Finally, Castor-Canis is literally “beaver-wolf,” but it’s got alliteration, which is always nice.
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