Help with ideas for my adventure in Ledopolus

First of all, I don’t think any of my players visit this forum, but to be sure: Bea, Javi, Jose, Sebas, Hawk… ¡dejad de leer!

I want to have my players tangled with some big factions secret war to destroy the Ledopolus brige before is completed.

The idea is to have the PCs recruited at Altaruk by an NPC to transport some kind of cargo to Ledopolus. Then, after the delivery, the cargo is opened and some kind of disease or plague is released, which can cause the destruction of the bridge.

  • The NPC would appear to be an agent of Lord Aris or House Wavir, but in reality would be a spy for another faction.
  • People of Ledopolus would think that the plague was caused by House Wavir and would block the trade between Altaruk and Balic as retaliation. They would also send bounty hunters after the PCs.

I would appreciate some ideas regarding the following plotholes:

  • Which faction is behind the Altaruk NPC and how does it benefit from blocking the commerce? I thought it could be the Oba, to harm Tyr. Or, if all commerce is blocked, Nibenay to harm Gulg.
  • Which kind of plague could end with the big stone bridge destroyed? I can only come up with ideas that cause the death of the dwarfs (leaving a lot of banshees around, btw).

Note: we play on FY11, after the PP events and having Balic divided between the three factions.

I’d personally go with House Tsalaxa. They’re especially aggressive and i usually see them rivaling Stel for the most outright belligerent/ evil merchant house.

Also, they operate Ablath, a trade village just north of Alaruk on the trade road. Eliminating Altaruk & Ledopolus could divert a lot of traffic their way.

Another option would be Houses Rees or Tomblador. Both are partners with Wavir in owning/ operating Altaruk, so eliminating Ledopolus increases their profits and lessening Wavir’s power/influence in Altaruk means increasing their’s.

What if instead of a disease (or a side-effect of the disease, if you’re super excited about a disease), the cargo summons & enrages the Gaints - like evil catnip for Giants. Then the Giants finally destroy the bridge and the villains keep their hands clean.

A disease might even affect different races differently (maybe based on their Con score, i.e., how their body withstands the infection) - Humans become lethargic, Dwarves become manic/bi-polar (uber focus alternating with EXTREME grumpyness), Giants fly into a rampage.

Anyway, thoughts… :grinning:


I like your ideas, especially regarding the different trading houses.

The thing is, I’m looking for someone who can benefit not only from the Ledopolus bridge to be destroyed/damaged, but also from a dwarf retaliation over Altaruk.

I don’t mind to use an alternative to the disease and/or the giants. However, I need some way to make the PCs the principal suspects.

I had a whole Ledopolus hook in my play by post. Lemme see where it picks up and I’ll drop a link.

This link is when they were exploring under South Ledopolus. There was a lot leading up to it and some on a different forum. I had House Tsalaxa involved as well. My NPCs are here:
Just search the trading house and mine if you wish.


Do a standard trope: the PCs could move a crate from somewhere else to Ledopolus for Wavir (but secretly for the bad guys). When it is opened, and $hit goes down, they look culpable.

As for the Dwarves assaulting Altaruk, standard financial shenanigans: Houses R/T maneuver their assets out of town (stock is low, their caravans arrive the day after the attack) and contrive their guards off duty or whatever. That way, Wavir takes the brunt of the losses, and R/T swoop in after to reap the rewards.

If W’s people and assets are lost, then R/T would HAVE to step up. :grin:


That’s the best with Flame Trap. Makes the PCs look like assassins, but have no clue that they were set up.


@Otello Let us know how it turns out?

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Oh, I will, for sure. But it will take time, as my players are still solving some problems for a small village near Fort Skonz and they will have a couple of adventures first, until they arrive at Altaruk.

However, I’ll share how it’s going the plot for this adventure. It’s not finished yet, but I hope you like it.


  • House Tsalaxa wants to expand on the south part of the Tyr Region, however, House Wavir is too strong there to make overt movements withouth big retaliations. They are waiting for the finalization of the Ledopolus bridge to improve their positiosn, thanks to the control of F. Kalvis, on the Ledopolus-Gulg route. They are also negotiating with the dwarfs to establish a new office on North Ledopolus.
  • Despite their alliance, House Tomblador has lost a lot of power to House Wavir pn the past decades. They want it back.
  • House Stel also wants to expand on the south, but their position is even weaker than the Tsalaxa one.
  • House Stel proposed a deal to House Tomblador, in order to increase both positions and frame House Tsalaxa.

The Plot

  • Tomblador agents in Altaruk will psionically dominate the Tsalaxa agent in the city, which they have recently discovered.
  • The Tsalaxa agent will bribe Lord Aris steward so he hires some adventurers to move a crate of animals to South Ledopolus (the players, obviously).
  • The animals are infected with a disease developed specially for House Stel. The disease can infect and incapacitate anyone, but will be deadly for dwarfs, muls and giants (which share similar genetics in my campaign).
  • Dwarfs will get infected and die in great numbers. And a lot of them will transform into banshees due to their focus on building the bridge. Ledo’s giants will also get infected.
  • House Tsalaxa, fearing the possibility of loosing the bridge and the Gulg-Ledopolus route, will send troops to fight the banshees and gain control of North Ledopolus.
  • Lord Aris steward will be found dead, apparently suicided. However, he sends before a confession letter to his master, incriminating the Tsalaxa agent, which killed him and faked the suicide. The letter is fake and both killing are staged by Tomblador agents.
  • News of the complot of House Tsalaxa will spread and Houses Wavir, Tomblador and Rees will send troops to fight House Tsalaxa. House Tomblador will delay their troops as much as they can.
  • The allied houses will defeat House Tsalaxa, which will be banned on future business with Ledopolus. House Wavir will support major casualties, which will allow House Tomblador to gain control of Altaruk and establish a permanent office on South Ledopolus.
  • House Stel will then move their troops from F. Iron to the depleted F. Kalvis, and take it. At that moment, they can control part of the Gulg-Ledopolus route. Next step, Ablath.
  • A bounty is placed over the player’s characters heads for their participation.

There are things that I don’t really like, as having House Tsalaxa so outmaneuvered, being them the “scheming experts”. But I have some time to refine it.

And a lot of them will transform into banshees due to their focus on building the bridge.

For the record, those Dwarfs usually WOULDN"T become banshees, if they were working towards their Focus goal when they died. Unless you change how Dwarven Foci work in your game, they’ll need to abandon their focus before becoming infected (defending the town and workers allows for the work to continue, so they’re in furtherance of that Focus goal).

Maybe if the disease drove then to some other behavior first, before making them super sick, that’d better match canon lore on Dwarven Foci.

Such as:
Stage 1 - Become gluttonous: drinking, eating , whoring compulsively.
Stage 2 - Become desperately ill/weak or go on murderous rampage on each other.
Stage 3 - Those not violently killed die anyway; vast majority come back as Banshees, for having become distracted from their Foci immediately before their death.

Tsalaxa responding aggressively might make their having been made the fools easier for everyone else to handle. They could ALSO send their own assassins after the PCs. And covertly send raiders after the assets and caravans of all the houses that benefited from their scandal, to let them know “You don’t EFF with Tsalaxa!”

PS: Of course it’ll be a while, no worries. Sounds like cool adventure.

Even if it makes more sense if the dwarven focus would work like you said, it’s not what the rules say. At least for what I understand. This is the description of the Revised CS (the original one says something similar, but I have it only in Spanish):

The concept of the focus is integral to a dwarf’s makeup and is even tied to his physiology-so much so that those dwarves who die before completing their foci become undead banshees who wander the wastes haunting their unfinished works.

And the dwarven banshee entry on the MM:

Dwarves who die before completing a major focus are often condemned to live out their afterlives as banshees. In unlife they haunt their unfinished work or quest, unable to bear the fact that someone else may complete what they could not. Day or night, the pupils of their eyes flicker red as if a flame burns them from within.

The main point on those descripctions is on completing the task, not on working on it.

Regarding the Tsalaxa response, I think you are right: it can be a bloodbath. And it would be nice for what I’ve planned for the area :grin:

Don’t forget the Giants. This bridge was often destroyed before its completion BECAUSE of giants raids.

The giants could be bribed to the belligerent to especially do the job at some particular moment and/or the PCs could NEED to do some diplomacy with them to stop it from happening (this could be added to your plot).

Yeah, that’s what they SAY. But that would mean that 99.8% of all dwarves become banshees, which is just not the case. Every dwarf that ever died working on the bridge would be a banshee, unless they picked much smaller Foci (which is usually frowned upon, in my understanding). It’d have to be very carefully worded, as every dwarf has a focus and everyone dies.

From the original boxed set: “The task to which a dwarf is presently committed is referred to as his focus. A dwarf’s focus must be a feat requiring at least one week to complete. Shorter
term goals cannot be considered a focus.”

I agree that those are the words on paper, but it just isn’t supported by the setting. Dwarf gladiators don’t haunt the arenas where they die, the roads aren’t littered with banshees from fallen guards, and dwarven ruins aren’t overflowing with thousands of banshees.

It’s not just me, it’s fairly common understand amongst DS fans.

Not to say that any one particular dwarf can’t come back as a banshee, just that if EVERY dwarf that died with an active focus (as opposed to during the 1-2 days between foci) turned into a banshee, then Athas would be literally 10ft deep in undead dwarves.

But, as always, do what you wanna/gotta do. Yuck vs. Yum and all that.

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Yeah, the idea behind having the giants also infected it’s to have them mad against the non-giants (they would not care about factions), and starting to destroy the bridge again after the efforts taken to negotiate a peace.

Regarding the players, I’m not even sure if they would be involved after delivering the infected animals. I usually plan my adventures without thinking on them and just see how things evolve.

Of course, each DM does what he likes on their campaigns. But just for the fun of debating…

Well, I understand why you think like that, but I’m not sure is something as extended as you say.

However, the problem you raise regarding the lack of hundreds of dwarven banshees roaming athas wildernes, is a good one. I always thought that the main explanation is that a dwarf doesn’t need to have an active focus. Or lacks one only for 1-2 days, as you say. I think they can go for weeks, months or even years without one.

The second part of the explanation comes from the MM entry:

Dwarves who die before completing a major focus are often condemned to live out their afterlives as banshees.

A major focus is not something you choose any other day. I don’t think that a carpenter working on a cart for one week can be considered to be working on a major focus and would become a banshee if a falling log breaks his skull. But working on the bridge between both Ledopolus? yes, it is. At least for a lot of them. But even in that case, not for all, of course.

Yeah, i usually try andnadd anYuck/Yum statement to avoid sounding like a canon-nazi sometimes.

I didn’t say it was accepted by everyone, just that’s a common assumption - not even that its a view held by a majority of fans.

Text from Terrors Beyond Tyr, Dwarf (bolding is mine):
“Habitat/Society: The saying that a dwarf’s first love is hard work is true. No dwarf iS more content than while working toward the resolution of some cause, be it labor or combat. This task, called a focus, is approached with singleminded direction for the dwarf’s entire life, if need be, though most foci require considerably less time. The only time constraint for a focus is that it must take more than a week to complete, anything less is nothing more than a simple task. A dwarf does not ignore such short activities, but he derives no satisfaction from their completion. At all times, the dwarf must be progressing toward the completion of the focus, changing direction for no more than a few days at most. It is possible for a dwarf to have more than one focus, providing both are somehow related. For example, a dwarf whose focus is to construct a new village for his clan to adopt may also have a short-term focus to locate the best builders in all of Athas for this village. A dwarf who performs tasks related to the completion of his foci receives a +1 bonus to all saving throws and a +2 bonus to his proficiency rolls. A dwarf who dies while resolving a focus is doomed to spend the remainder of its existence as a banshee, forever wandering the wastelands in vain attempts to finish his work.”

Its just a logical hole in the setting (certainly not the worst one). RAW definitely clashes with basic logic.

But this is with and active focus. Once you start to work on something, you get focused and you gain some benefits. If you want to maintain the benefits you can’t stop for more than a couple days. And for me that makes sense.

It also says that a focused dwarf is a happy dwarf. Well, that means that you can have unfocused unhappy dwarves!

But let it go and let’s go back to the major focus point: banshees are not created by unfulfilled foci. They are created by unfulfilled major foci. That’s how is written, and it also makes sense. So I don’t see the need to change how foci works.

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How do you account for most dwarves not becoming banshees? I’m trying to follow what you are saying, which I happily concede are the rules as written, but it does clash with the reality of the setting. There are plenty of major foci that cannot be neatly completed. I’ve written about this before.

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The answer comes by negating the premise: I don’t think there are a lot of major foci that can’t be completed. I will use your own words to explain it, from the thread you linked:

A dwarf only ever has a focus that is within his capabilities

And I completely agree with that affirmation. A focus needs to be something feasible, so it doesn’t make sense that something that can’t be achieved in a lifetime can be considered a focus. This kind of bigger tasks should be divided into smaller tasks, that then can be considered foci.

Following the Ledopolus bridge as an example, one dwarf can focus on building a pillar for a couple months. Probably he will work with other dwarves that share the same focus. When finished the task, they would switch to work on another pillar, focusing on it for some more months.

This doesn’t mean that some dwarf can’t choose a bigger and unatainable task to focus, like filling the Silt Sea with water. He can, but will probably be considered either a foul or a hero by other dwarves. And he will become a banshee when he dies.

And now, let’s go back to major foci part… I see major foci as something really remarkable, something that requires not only the usual effort to achieve, but something that requires real willpower.

I would not consider building a pillar for the bridge a major focus. But let’s imagine that, having the bridge half built, one singular dwarf decides that he’s life effort will be to build the last pillar between South Ledopolus and the Ledo island. That’s something that can be achieved, even if probably would not. That’s for me a major focus.

EDIT: I’m reading now the full post and I see I’m repeating some arguments already explained by other people (and with similar examples!). I’ll check now the full post and will come back to add a comment if they make me change my mind.