Dungeon Situational – 20 Rumours

Information is a valuable commodity to an adventuring party, no matter the setting. Whether the group are seeking information on a quest they’re already involved in, or looking for a job to keep them in gold and hot meals, keeping an ear to the ground in taverns or out in the street can be an excellent source of information, but only once they have separated out all of the misinformation from the truth.

Among the rumours listed below is a mixture of truth, half-truth, and out and out lies, and within that information there are hooks for two quests, the location of a dungeon, and one piece of mundane gossip. It is up to your players how they will learn which is which, and up to you where the truth is.

1 – A pair of guards walk by, and a small group of women scoffing catch your ear. You overhear them discussing criminal activities that the butcher attempted to report, but was dismissed. The words “…clearly up to something, but they’ve got Captain Kressen firmly in pocket…” before they hush their voices again.

2 – A gaggle of kids get dispersed by a cart driver, seeing them rush by you he tells you to check your pockets. Apparently the kids have gotten feral lately, painting marks on the walls, stealing, and otherwise getting up to no good. He blames the parents.

3 – A congregation leaving the church of Mehregan are happily chatting as they disperse. You hear them discussing notable absences, “… five weeks now and no Woodsons.” “And no Lightsails this week either, you don’t think they’ll be the next to…” “… at this rate the place will be half empty by Harvest Tide…”

4 – Sitting at a bar in town, you spot some older looking workers throwing dirty looks at a pair of well dressed men sat in a booth. Depending on which catches your interest, you’ll either hear a jovial conversation about another lucrative deal, or a muttered variations on “… don’t like it one bit…” and “… chuck all their crates in the sea…”

5 – A pair of local women walk down the street, one talking loudly about how lovely it is that young Earla Staghorn has some new man in her life, the other disparaging the young Staghorn daughter for never disclosing the name of her new sweetheart. “It makes her look most suspicious.” Her friend dismisses the remark, accusing her friend of being a gossip.

6 – The wharf is alive with chatter. You engage the crew of a small fishing sloop in conversation while passing a flask around, and they discuss their captain’s reluctance to move into cargo shipping despite the money it could bring in. She gets defensive about the subject, so the crew mostly avoid talking about it directly.

7 – Betta, the ill-tempered barmaid at the inn, grumbles to you in a companionable matter every morning while you wait for breakfast. Most recently she has been bemoaning the lack of oversight by the baron, who seems to be turning a blind eye to the world “since that woman showed up!” She does not disclose more about “that woman”.

8 – The morning traffic of carts from Meadsbridge and Allblossom are openly discussing an event that took place on the roads to a carter named Mund, attacked on the road, barely escaping with his own life, but losing a pair of bodyguards along the way. They’re arguing about where it supposedly took place, north toward the Swallowheart mires. or north-east along the coast.

9 – In the market people speak openly and freely about the concerns of the day. A few of the stall holders are complaining about being undercut by some of the new vendors. Either they’re not paying for their stall pitch or they’re selling stolen goods, either way the guard won’t do a thing about it.

10 – You spend some time perusing the wares at a blacksmiths, but mostly you’re listening to the conversation with a local farmer collecting tools, and complaining about his workers shirking their duties, talking to strange folk over the fences. There’s mention of a young man by the name “Grevol Woodson” caught holding some kind of meeting of the fieldhands.

11 – Chatting with a few folk on the beach, they cast knowing looks as a boat is brought up the sand. They tell you about the suspicious cargo brought in by the Stormwisher family’s paid lackeys, and how the whole guard are on the take.

12 – It only takes a round of drinks to loosen the tongues of a few off-duty guardsmen. They talk about how easy shifts are with Lieutenant Vess in charge, and how stressed the Captain has been in recent months. Security around the Harvest Tide festival will be heavy, as there have been whispers of trouble from local children.

13 – Galt, a local preacher at the shrine of Lor Adanos, talks candidly about Toiler Fermiir of the church of Mehregan losing his congregation. Some of his own loyal following have talked about  how Fermiir has been talking about sacrificing more than just a sheep for Harvest Tide.

14 – Sitting around a monument near the marketplace, passing a pipe between them, a few elderly and heavily bearded gentlemen (you’ve heard described as “The Council”) are happy to tell you about how the woes of the Staghorn family seem to be turning around of late, and how pleased they are to see a local family doing so well.

15 – As the market traders are packing for the day, you catch a few of the later shoppers discussing some of the graffiti that’s been appearing around town. The same symbol appears a lot, an upside-down face that makes the locals nervous.

16 – A tired looking crew of sailors meet the dockhands, the response to the question “What’s new?” is met with questions about what markings are on the cargo they carry, before the conversation becomes hushed and furtive.

17 – An irritable looking band of traders walk into the inn, exchanging empty barrels for full ones, as they work they talk about some grim strangers outside in the fields warning them not to come back before Harvest Tide. Naturally they plan to ignore the warning, but they plan to report the “inconvenience” to the guards.

18 – The herbalist remarks that you haven’t been back for health potions in a while, and in conversation marks in passing how the Stormwisher family seem to have fallen on hard times of late, and how he may have to change his supplier if their situation worsens.

19 – A pair of the Baron’s own House-Guard stop in town for a few drinks with the Lieutenant Vess. They loudly discuss plans for Harvest Tide, but the topic soon turns to the new love in the lives of both the Baron and Vess.

20 – A few days after a fire at one of the local farms, whispers abound about the disappearance of one Lusia Lightsail. Most people say she died in the fire, some say she caused it, a few say both. Those conversations die down after a little while, as word of the festival becomes foremost on most people’s minds.

Next week I’m on holiday, so I shall leave this particular series in the hands of another experienced Dungeon Master, who I approached hoping he would take up the task. Albert has given me his choices for next week’s vote:

A variation on the article My Warlock Pact from a short while ago, this time utilising the warlock pacts from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, the Celestial, and the Hexblade.

Social and confrontational encounters in the City of Doors, Sigil, a hub of portals where powerful beings gather in fragile peace from across all worlds and planes.

And some encounters for the higher levels of play where players obtain near-godly powers, and become increasingly difficult to challenge meaningfully.