Transformation of Crestwold (Campaign Arc)

Campaign Overview

The Transformation of Crestwold takes a sleepy baronial fief from obscurity to prominence. It is comprised of adventures, encounters, and scenes that build on a main plot line, involve multiple subplots and consistent non-player characters. The main plots are: a trade dispute between two interests; a weak and sickly baron, unsupportive of his Lord’s (the Earl of Bar-Innis) attempt to stabilize and improve the area; and a resurgence of perils with a recently uncovered ancient ruins. A series of events has conspired to place the locals of the barony square in the sites of turmoil and violence.

Within this, several sub plots provide many opportunities for glory and treasure. The affable merchant and smuggler Lucky Red Scarf is expanding his influence. Meddling by the League of the White Lily trying to change the culture of the larger earldom the barony is in. Arrayed against them is the whispered-about Twin Rivers Shadow Council. Other creatures and characters, drawn in by the magic of an ancient enclave, have come to carve out their own fortunes.

Steel Realms - Dunstrand Rising (A Living World Campaign)This materials is part of a Living World campaign setting. The Dunstrand Rising campaign takes multiple sets of characters through a multi-generational journey of political change which grows progressively until the world of the Steel Realms is transformed. This campaign arc is a set of adventures, side treks, and scenes that are part of that larger story arc.

Location: Crestwold is a barony in the Earldom of Bar-Innis, part of the Duchy of Dunstrand in the Steel Realms.
Premise: News reaches the players of danger, they travel to Crestwold to seek out new opportunities for fortune and glory.
Story and Progress: A series of events plays out where the players decide which allies to back in trade and politics, fight against mercenaries and monsters in order to bring stability and peace to the barony.
Challenges: Mostly other humanoids, political perils, trade disagreements, the backdrop of war with outside forces nearby, rumors and ruins attracting other adventurers like the PCs. Deception, traps, and monsters of all kinds.
Rewards: The immediate rewards of goods and treasure to improve their status. The PCs should have a stake in ongoing prosperity of the region – possible land and titles.


Using the Scenario Content


Read through the entire adventure and familiarize yourself with the entire scenario and encounter set. If its too much to track, break the game session and milestones into what you can manage - generally it is better to end early with a good experience than fumble through a poor one. Materials are presented here in groupings of the most likely order the players will experience them in. If they go off-script, you must be ready to adjust and improvise.

Maximize Online Materials

The optimal experience for using these materials is as online content. This material contains links to material outside the text - familiarize yourself with this content as well. Follow the links, and print out or have loaded on a device ahead of time all materials needed to effectively run this adventure. Print friendly PDF or ePub versions also maintain the links in most cases.

  • All linked materials were publicly available at the time of original publication.
  • Linked materials usually contain more information about creatures and places, though some are to assist the Game Master's running of the adventure.
  • The stats for creatures are not presented. It is assumed GMs have access to system source books or materials for them. Where possible, creatures are linked to online resources.

Prompts and Formatting

This adventure contains text that is formatted in a certain way to enable easy narration and play. Familiarize yourself with these to make the pace of the adventure and flow of each encounter is smooth.
This is primary text for you to read aloud to the Players - it is what their characters will perceive upon interacting with the encounter.
This is supplemental text that can be read aloud after the related primary text.
This is a dialogue option you can read aloud.
This is information which can be gained with a noted skill/knowledge [check].
[GM]> This is a note to the GM for options and preparation ahead of time.
Online Reference: This is a Character or Creature in an encounter (# appearing if more than 1)

Tactics to be used by the creature appearing above.

party# This is the number of characters in the players party; you will find suggestions on scaling the number of creatures in an encounter based on this.
NARRATION > This is a tip on how to read to or interact with the Players.


Events leading up to the point the characters enter the picture.

What the Characters Know: Common knowledge and Uncommon [what checks are required?].

Hidden Knowledge: What is completely unknown to the players (and perhaps to the NPC’s!).


Part of “Living World“: Dunstrand Rising (Steel Realms Campaign) When: season

  1. Characters enter the picture…


Local reputation will affect the opportunities presented to the characters. Low reputation will draw the ire of the commoners, nobility, and make the party a target for the other mercenary groups and adventurers in the area.

Level Option
-4 Any lone or pair of PCs may be jumped by by criminals or opportunists without fear of reprisal from the authorities. Scene: Theft in the Night
-2 The character will not be able to borrow any money or goods. Any mercenary bands in the area consider the group acceptable prey. Scene: A Bracing Brawl
-1 The character may borrow up to 50 silver per point of reputation.
1 The character may borrow up to 200 silver per point of reputation.
2 The character may borrow up to 500 silver per point of reputation. With Deputy Status/Scene: The Merchant from Mev
3 The character may borrow up to 750 silver per point of reputation. Side Trek:
4 The character may borrow up to 1000 silver per point of reputation. Side Trek: The Swooning Mathilda

Starting the Campaign

The party will be outsiders starting at the ground level, or begin with a hand up through association or as an existing bannermen (to the Duke or Earl) or equivalent. When they begin, they will have come to a remote and poor fief of Dunstrand to investigate some disturbances.

Proceed to the Side Trek: Coming to Crestwold

Torrelsons Ford

News Items in Crestwold

  1. Growing: Population is one the rise all around as the area recovers from a civil war several years back. Not as fast as other areas – local Baron is not on Earl’s list of people to trust. The Moorswood south of the capital is being used as a source for lumber with the Barons permission.
  2. Bad drugs in Umbak: Umbak: Shieldcap Mushroom overdose caused one of the Umbakian merchant boats to be dashed on the Loamwold coast… rumors persists of bad drugs coming up from the south.
  3. More storms: In the last few years, there are more storms (almost double). Most folks feel its the Gwinnish’s patron sending them and chalk it up to the war.
  4. Barons daughter is sick: For the last few months, the barons daughter Esmirelda has been sick, and she no longer attends events. Rumors persist that all manner of affliction is upon her and the family.
  5. More wrecks: In the last couple years, there have been more wrecks than normal. Folk say sirens have lead men astray. They have tried to replace the boats lost, to increase trade but once they get established, they have an accident within a few months. Only those with experience plying the local waters seem to be able to consistently beat the storms.
  6. Expanded military: New Garrison and Port Expansion is almost finished. A frigate, 2 sloops, barracks, docks, storage, and 30 extra personnel.
  7. Ancient ruins: [Recent] Ancient ruins have revealed themselves at the tip of Calibans Slurry. Adventurers, priests, wizards and all sorts have come through. Mercenaries have gathered. Its credible enough where House Malor is rumored to have agents in the area.
  8. Bad drugs in Loamwold: [Recent] Shieldcap Mushrooms in Loamwold – several deaths as halflings imbibed too heavily… or they were bad!?

Mercenary Bands (at Torrelsons Ford)

  1. The Jalesmen > They will appear only if the party turned down the champion of Crestwold’s offer at the beginning.

    Background: They are from wherever the party was. They will have the same number in their party as party# and be half the party’s average level (add a level if the party is really powerful). They will have normal goods and the items from the dead last champion Krillian.

    Killing Them = REPUTATION -1
  2. Troll Hunters of Sweetwater > A seasoned band of freebooters

    Background: From Sweetwater in Loamwald – Dwarves, half elves and halflings a – a dozen. Down to 3! They are more an adventuring band, not mercenary. Been around for 14 years together (a couple almost double that time before merging with larger group), seen a few come and go, very successful, ready to retire.

    Expertise: way above average /favored tactics: ambush /origins: Adventurers – Loamwold malcontents, not mercenaries /allies: none /enemies: everywhere they go – but not welcome in Loamwold ever again apparently /leaders: keeps this secret mostly, present multiple faces
  3. Morgan Barflys >
  4. Ditch Witches >
  5. Bellvins Brace >
  6. Georges >
  7. Banks End Pipers >

Mercenary Bands (at Torrelsons Ford)

Buying Equipment: Normal cost +20% for arms and armor (too many mercenaries taking all supplies)
>> Living World – Dunstrand Rising (Steel Realms Campaign) >> Tarmysia is still occupied by Gwinn. With the constant war, that makes military supplies hard to come by – replacement arms, armor, etc.

Key Characters/Operators

Mercenary Bands (at Torrelsons Ford)

Lucky Red Scarf

Lucky Red Scarf (“LRS”), a halfling merchant sailing out of Scar Flow on the Red Pony.

MOTIVATIONS: Take out the remainder of the old crew loyal to the smuggler he defeated years ago; Expand his influence, make some money.

Mithrow the Southerner

He is Captain of the Baron’s Guard; He is an outsider from the Doolun Emirates in the far south. He was hired to deal with all the interfacing with soldiers and such – the baron does not like to have to deal with other houses and people he might have to see in court (this is a well known fact). He has been employed for a couple years, and is about 40 years old, though he looks younger. His exotic look and skin have made him popular at parties and with the ladies. He is tall, dusky skinned, strong and handsome. He has back problems from an old wound (and hates to ride or be in the saddle more than a day). He is never far from his glaive – which he uses as a walking stick and weapon. He was challenged a few times when first hired and killed his first 2 challengers, before he fought and killed four “thugs” on his way back from a party – drunk and in the dark. No one’s bothered him since. His primary duties includes managing the dispatches to the watch commanders in each of the 4 major towns on the barony, maintaining the stockade and barracks, managing the barons personal guard of a dozen, an elite guard of 4, and managing the militia of Torrelsons Ford (about 40 at any given time). He also manages coordinating the army, including the knights of the barony, if it is in the field.

Fighter 9; Great Weapon style, Polearm Master, Great Weapon Master, Battle Master path + Inspiring Leader

MOTIVATIONS: To use his position to meet allies, invest, and retire in 5 years.

Tal Beckam

She runs the shop of Diamond Curios and Antiques at Torrelsons Ford.

Wizard 4th (Divination); House Malor chain of ___

His shop is not really disguised well and most people know who she works for: HOUSE MALOR. She is from the Riverdans (accent is thick), is now about 50, was once freshly beautiful, and now her and her dog keep watch over an aging shop. Her dog is not a familiar, but it is assumed to be. Her crow, which is, stays out of sight, but runs the roost of a crows roost on the top of her shop. It talks to the other crows so that they stay loyal and send/retrieve messages and spy for food and shelter. She is happy to see strangers for many reasons, and can be used as the sign on her shop says – “A sounding board for things spooky and magical.”

MOTIVATION: To make sure practitioners of magic are observed and registered if they are more than passing through. To observe the events in the Barony and report to House Malor.

Coran Maerkle

The husband of the sister of the Mayor of Torrelson’s Ford.

Josey Warrin

She is a representative of Morbon Bros Casters and Haulers (her uncle is a senior merchant of the company in Lily Glen) – was staying at Wilkens bed and breakfast. She is now lodging at the Mills’ family loft – moving around because she thinks she is marked by her enemies.

Rols (David Crollman)

Hunter/Tracker/Duelist for hire.

Mayor Byron Scorven

Mayor of Torrelsons Ford

Bill Slawe – Herald of the Mayor

Scribe and self-styled “herald” of the mayor of Torrelsons Ford (fancy way of saying gopher).

Key Character Template

Who they are…. and their role in it all.

Motivations: What does the character hope to achieve?

> Aversion(s) > What do they hope to avoid or will not do?

Game Designer Notes

Why Crestwold? Crestwold is the only passenger port in Dunstrand, outside the Tarmysian Peninsula. The treacherous Scar Flow and Dwindor Swamp limit boat movement to only those who know the swamp well and have precious cargo. Every boat north of the barony on the coast is more of a barge or skiff. Crestwold’s port is up one tributary of a river that spills out into Scar Flow, where there is enough solid land to maintain a breakwater and docks. Its small trade port bring in goods from Tarmysia, Umbak, and Loamwold mostly. Since the war, few open sea merchant vessels have come this far – and there is only room for a single large ship in the port besides. For all of its out-of-the-way flavor and limits, Crestwold is uniquely positioned to be a focal point. In better times, the population was double, goods flowed, and the barony enjoyed a unique relationship with its halfling neighbors. Since the civil war, and Berithors (the previous Earl of Bar-Innis) decrees, trade with the halflings dropped off, goods barely moved, and folk left in great numbers after the war. Such was the price of neutrality in the civil war of the Earldom. It is at its lowest civil ebb in decades. It is ready to come out of its shell.