Restarting a farm, or a small gothic story

If you want to play in this one-shot, let me know and also tell which characters you would like to or are willing to play.

Meta

A game of family drama, maybe culminating in a murder, while others are trying to get a farm up and running. A farm with giant spiders.

  • 2nd August, 12:00 Central European summer time.
  • Estimated playing time is 4 hours.
  • Up to five players, but four would be better and two the minimum.
  • Rules system is Burning wheel. A bunch of pregenerated characters, but also some you can create yourself. Feel free to suggest another custom character.
  • Prior knowledge of the rules system is a benefit, but not a requirement. Rules complexity is adjusted according to player experience.
  • One-shot or maybe two sessions, but I run extended campaigns and plan to run further one-shots in the same game world and maybe even the same village, so further play is possible. Rules systems that have been in use: homebrew OSR, Burning wheel, D&D 5, homebrew, Pathfinder 1.
  • Voice via Discord, other gameplay via Roll20. It has character sheets which handle some of the fiddlyness of advancement and rolling.
  • There might be a threat of violence, or worse, against a child, especially if Mia is in play. This is up to the explicit permission of the players; scenario works fine without, which is the default. But if all the players are fine with this, it might come to be.

The one-shot builds on the following adventure modules by Stuart Marshall on the Dragonsfoot website, as well as on the developments and events in my campaign play and a previous one-shot, of course. People who do not intend to play in my D&D games need not worry about spoilers; Burning wheel works well without secrets.

  • The spider farm: Read this for more information on the farm and the Reyn family. Essentially spoiler-free. In particular, there is a description of the farm and the farm buildings with some of their functionality included.
  • Melford murder: Reading the character descriptions in this blog post or the adventure module will spoil the murder mystery, which has not yet happened in my campaign world, and might or might not happen. Your choice. For this and other Burning wheel games spoilers are not a problem. You are expected to keep player and character knowledge separate. Some of the characters are described in the adventure module.
  • Shrine of the Oracle: Reading the shrine part is safe, but will only provide some peripheral context for this game, so not of much use. Note that of the sibyls only Mishpat is still alive in my campaign. The dungeon part is not relevant for this scenario.

Situation

Near the village of Melford there was a farm, where Ulayah Reyn kept giant spiders and gathered their silk. Some cultists captured him and many of the workers. The rescue attempt failed and Ulayah is presumed dead or worse.

Ulayah’s daughter, Heri Reyn, is trying to restart the farm, but she has her own problems, too. Deborah Snaid, who was almost married to Ulayah, is helping her. They need the spiders back in the pit, workers to run and fix the entire place, plus some protection against possible goblin attacks.

Meanwhile, brother and sister Wyke, who run the local inn, do not have everything okay between them. Lena would like to get her share of the profits of the farm, if possible, and is getting tired of staying in her brother Gerrit’s shadow. They also have a dim-witted and mis-shapen brother, Mipp, that they keep hidden elsewhere, and who has been associating with forces of darkness. Mipp has taken a poor child, Mia, into his protection, unbeknowst of Lena and Gerrit. Mia used to work at the spider farm and has recently discovered that she can speak with spiders.

A dragon’s hoard worth of treasure was just excavated and brought into the town, bringing with it some suddenly rich locals and a few foreigners.

Characters

The characters are divided into key, involved and peripheral. Key characters are excellent player characters. Involved characters are good players characters, too, but not quite as central, so they require a bit more work to make important. Peripheral characters are unlikely to play a large role, but might make an appearance, and a dedicated player might drag one into focus.

There is a simple relationship map available at https://kumu.io/tbrander/mernua

Good player characters are marked blue, green characters might be important, yellow ones are unlikely to matter much, and gray characters are dead. Characters are linked if one of them has a mechanical relationship to the other, one of them has a belief about the other, or if they are family.

Key characters

(reserved) Heri Reyn, 24, is a depressed woman suffering from crippling social anxiety. In her youth she lived with her father, the deceased Ulayah, who protected her from the outside world, maybe even too much. She tries to cope with all this while setting up the farm.

  • This might not be the emotionally easiest character to play.
  • Problem: Crippling social anxiety and no self-esteem.
  • Some skill in literacy and spider farming.
  • Where to find the workers and the capital for the farm?

(reserved) Lena Wyke, 27 years, is an ambitious innkeeper, who co-owns the inn with her brother Gerrit. They have a deformed idiot brother Mipp they keep hidden in a broken farmhouse, but visit every now and then.

Lena is quite bitter about Gerrit getting all the honour and spoils of their inn-keeping, while she does all the work. She has been talking with her friend, Magdalene Colerre the beekeeper, about the matter, and even murder has been discussed. She also wants wealth and power in general, with the newly rich providing fine possibilities.

  • Out to improve her lot in life, maybe at a cost to others, maybe helping others in the process. A potential fiend.
  • Strong social skills, reasonable professional skills.
  • Magdalene is a scary, if unreliable, ally.

(reserved) Mia, 8 years, grew up as a common child of the spider farm community. After its destruction she wandered from farm to farm, helped and begged. One night she seeked shelter in an abandoned farm, found an intact cellar, and climbed down. She stumbled in the darkness, found webs, was swarmed with spiders and bitten.

She awoke up in the farm, with a dreadful, deformed man-like creature tending her. He turned out to be Mipp who lives down there; but nobody is allowed down, and she must stay hidden if others come here. She was sick and delirious for some time, seeing strange visions of deformed, colourful  spiders eating at her, and indeed there were some visitors in the building (she will recognize Gerrit and Lena Wyke when she sees them).

It turned out that Mipp, in spite of the dreadful appearance, evident dumbness and lacking social skills, is very good to Mia. She visits him every now and then. And she can speak to and understand spiders.

  • Wants to help Mipp and Heri.
  • Little in way of skills or abilities due to age, but can speak to spiders.
  • Has a gothic friend of some potential and huge weakness.

Involved characters

Deborah Snaid, 51, is an accomplished seamstress and tailor. She was born and lived much of her life in the city of Heatherleigh, where her daughter Sanya still lives. She considers herself to be better than the locals.

  • Issue: To get over the sadness or not?
  • How to help Heri, as she promised to do?
  • Professional skills, social skills.
  • Sympathic towards Heri.

A former works(wo)man at the spider farm, whom you can create as a new character. Mostly or only peasant and villager lifepaths, nothing magical. Tie the character to others via relationships and BITs.

The spiders at the farm are big. If someone wants to play one, they are also intelligent.

  • You can make the spider by yourself or ask me to do so.
  • Issue: Freedom or imprisonment?

Gerrit Wyke, an inn-keeper, the brother of Lena and Mipp. You can generate the character by yourself or ask me to do so. May get killed.

Mipp Wyke, 25 years, a mentally and physically deformed sibling of Lena and Gerrit. He has walked down some very dark paths, but has now discovered light in Mia.

  • Low stats and very few skills, but some magical powers and treasures.
  • Would be challenging as a player character.

Herluin, a knight, the youngest of his family, who came to Melford seeking a better future. Some dungeoncrawling later he has two and a half thousand gold pieces, and a desire to protect and help the locals.

  • Low stats, at least martial skills.
  • Lots of cash and equipped for war.
  • Not from around here. Knows little and few.
  • Smells magic.

Magdalene Colerre, a beekeeper, and also an arcane monster. Lusts for power and death.

A goblin or a spider from the woods, who would like the spider farm to not operate, but would also like to avoid outright war with the big and scary humans. A character to make for oneself. These goblins are fey-like mischievous trouble-makes but also assassins and maybe sorcerers, rather than of the violent orcish army.

Peripheral characters

Brad Jennings, 43 years, grew up in and near the village of Rashtan, and has done much: trapping and farming before moving back to the village, after which he acted as a barber, before finally becoming a shopkeeper in Melford. He enjoys the genial interaction with customers without all the blood, but keeps his old tools and skills ready for emergencies.

Brad is in love with Deborah and intends to do something about it any day now, when he gathers his courage.

  • Issue: Deborah said no to him. Does he accept this or try harder? Stay honest or try to force the issue by financial or social means?
  • Medicinal skills, observation and rumours, plus a healthy mix of various other stuff.

Marieka, a woman constable (as the village guards are called) who had a tryst with the travelling dragonborn noble Charirastrix, and does not want to believe she is in early pregnancy. Wants Melford to be a safe place; making the goblins angry would not help in that.

  • Mechanically strange due to conversion from modern D&D.
  • Only hostile social skills, but some wilderness and broad, if shallow, combat skills and strange languages.
  • The general representative of the village constabulary.

Felona Vedane, 29 years, a cosmeticist married to Tom Vedane, but who plans seducing Brad Jennings. The current marriage is not a happy one.

Tom Vedane, 31 years, a jeweller married to Felona.

Reiner Vogg, 37 years, a livestock keeper with orcish blood. Attracted to Marieka. Misses his daughter Savula Vogg.

Irene Yar, a local smith with connections, but also more than that.

Warmann, a young local constable with more than a thousand gold pieces in cash. A kind of an overconfident asshole with no perspective. Likes Mia.

A newly rich peasant or villager with more than a thousand gold pieces in cash.

Distant characters

Savula Vogg, 14 years, a new sibyl (priestess) of the Oracle, a minor local deity, not terribly far from Melford.

Mishpat, the elder sibyl of the Oracle, famous for her great beauty.

Sanye Snaid, the daughter of Deborah Snaid at Heatherleigh, and priestess of Mother earth.

Charirastrix, the noble dragonborn sorcerer who has traveled away.

Ulayah Reyn, dead.

Harold the hedge mage in the village of Rashtan occasionally bought spider venom for alchemical use or as an ingredient in magical inks.

Restarting a farm, or a small gothic story

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