Forests can offer challenges and rewards for PCs of all levels from hunting for food to escorting nobility to tracking down a local thieves guild. Let’s start to look at sandboxing The Hunting Grounds for low to mid-level heroes.
Groundbreaking welcomes you back! Let’s just dive right in.
The northern forest, known as The Hunting Grounds, is an expanse of raw nature. The Huntsmen are a collective of rangers that work with local hunters and trappers on behalf of the local druids, ensuring that the land is respected and cared for. They issue any and all permits to live and work in the forest between the rivers, and act as judge, jury, and executioner to those that go against them. While they are compared to a town guard or local law enforcement due to constant disputes over boundary and contract disputes, they perform many other functions such as search and rescue, trail maintenance, or (more recently) tour guide to the wealthy.
The four lead rangers, known as the Masters of the Forest, that have been selected from the ranks of The Huntsmen by the druids. Three to watch over the lodges (one each) and surrounding areas while the fourth roams the forest at large. They meet twice each year, during the solstices, at a hidden druidic circle deep in the forest. After the summer meeting, the Master Rangers travel the forest together for one month as a form of team building. While the rank and file perform day to day operations, it is the duty of the masters to ensure they are properly trained and equipped as well as abiding by the tenants of the job. The current Masters are Alice at the East Lodge (a human accompanied by a dire showshoe hare), Fancy roaming (an awakened dire wolf accompanied a pair of wolves), Hippnee at North Lodge (a halfling accompanied by a lynx), and Zebb at the West Lodge (an orc accompanied by his hobgoblin mate and their 3 adult children).
Each of the lodges has a postings board for the huntsmen to keep track of any activities or missions that are ongoing. This can range from listing berry patches that are currently ripe to notices of criminal activity to mysteries sightings or missing creatures. While intended to be for the huntsmen, anybody in good standing with the organization or looking to join them is welcome speak with the sergeant of arms about receiving special permission to partake.
The North Lodge has the following postings:
- Chris (locals named an owlbear Chris) sighted near popular berry patch
- dead bats found laid in a circle after past two full moons
- 10 gp reward for lost snakeskin hat; see Count Reginald (posted by tourist)
- truffle season!
The West Lodge has the following postings:
- help wanted to assist loggers until replacements arrive
- kobolds seem agitated about something lately
- 50 gp prize for finding a darkwood tree ready for harvest
- 93 days without a bulette sighting
The East Lodge has the following postings:
- Melvin and his cousin Kevin (local trappers) are a week overdue to return home
- Strange smells coming from ponds fed by river runoff
- Deer acting strange near forest edge
- Supply of whistle arrows on Wicket’s Trail empty
Next time we will look a little deeper into some of the drama and tension that can be found within The Huntsmen that might lead to some fun plots, encounters, and quests! As always, please continue to join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj.