The Drachenheim Saga

Adalbert's Saga
Campaign Background Document

Adalbert Drachenheim was the 7th son of Baron Heinrich von Drachenheim, who was a cunning man both in war and business. Heinrich made his home in the Stein and owned the best maintained docks in the fortress city. With so many older brothers Adalbert knew there was no way he could inherit much of anything from his father but his father was good to him and made sure he attended the best schools and had excellent military prospects, even receiving a dracheneisen breastplate and panzerhand his father had won in battle as his official patrimony. Adalbert left home as a mercenary lieutenant to serve in the army of young King Richard IV of Avalon as he took on the Vaticine Church. While there Adalbert quickly gained renown and came to the attention of an equally young Avalon noblewoman named Stella.

Adalbert and Stella had a brief passionate affair that resulted in disgrace for them both and baby girl they would name Serilda. Adalbert’s unit moved on for several years of fighting in Montainge and Stella retired to county life to have the baby. She hid the baby girl amongst her maid’s children and her father quickly married her off to an Innish nobleman who had come to court in Luthon as part of the Innish embassy. Once married, Stella told her new husband about her young daughter. To her surprise, her husband Cumhal was not bothered at all and even insisted that she be given her rightful place in the family with the surname of Fitzalbert. The new couple soon began having children of their own, including a young son and heir named Finn.

When Adalbert returned in glory from his battles in Montainge he found Stella looking completely unchanged but very different in heart. He was disappointed but accepted the realities of life and was actually welcomed by his former flame’s new husband—even to the point of becoming a frequent houseguest. Adalbert and Cumhal actually became close friends and allies in Avalon’s frequent intrigues. Adalbert was known in the family as “Uncle Bertie” and also acknowledged by everyone as Serilda’s true father. Adalbert knew his life was too dangerous for a little girl, especially one who was growing up so slowly, and was glad to leave his daughter in such good hands. He provided for her and, with the help of his brother back in Eisen, made sure that once she was old enough she could enter the Zeitler Academy and become a “doppler” soldier in Albert’s Company. After many years of faithful service, King Richard gave Adalbert a seaside manor overlooking the channel to Montaigne and Eisen as a reward for his faithful service. He also introduced him to the Castillian ambassador, Humberto de la Herrera, who had a beautiful daughter named Aurelia and whom Adalbert soon married. Aurelia eventually gave her husband an heir, a son they named Gunter.

Back in Eisen the War of the Cross led to devastation. Adalbert’s father and all but one of his brothers were killed in battle. The only survivor was the 6th brother Johan. Johan was an excellent merchant but a poor warrior—the former made him wealthy and the latter kept him alive. He maintained close ties with his last remaining brother and they managed to see each other at least every other year. Johan was even introduced to his Avalon wife by Stella and Serilda. Johan’s only child, a son, was named Jeremy. Jeremy was a good man, with his heart in the right place, but generally a failure in every aspect of life. In a simpler time he might have been successful, but life during the War of the Cross was too much for him and he eventually lost everything he owned including the house lived in and died alone and childless. Jeremy knew the shame he had brought the family and was truly sorry. Being no warrior he sent the panzerhand emblazoned with the Drachenheim family crest that he had inherited to Adalbert to give to his son Gunter so at least the boy would be able to prove one day that he was a Drachenheim, if that could ever again mean something good. Jeremy left money in his will for Serilda and young Gunter to attend the finest schools in the Stein, which had been renamed Freiburg by the time the boy arrived. Unfortunately Jeremy’s mismanagement of the family estate meant that at his death it passed to creditors instead of Adalbert and Gunter. After Jeremy’s passing the Drachenheim estate passed through several hands and fell into obscurity and ridicule. While Adalbert loved his nephew he was forced to change his name in disgust of the shame that was brought to the family. He chose the name Herrmann to prove that no matter what had happened to his patrimony he was indeed a nobleman of Eisen.

Around the same time that Adalbert married Aurelia, another player joined the court triumvirate of Adalbert, Cumhal, and Humberto. This newcomer was an attaché in the entourage of the Montaigne ambassador, named Dagobert the Baronet of Archembeaux. He quickly found himself falling in line with the moderating tendencies of the trio and officially joined their collective family when he married Cumhal’s sister Moira. Together the group was able to moderate tempers and avert war on three separate occasions, and as a result the men were all elevated to ambassador status for their respective nations. They were all still able to gain honor in battle as well against pirates and in the wars leading to the Elaine’s coming to the throne.

All was not wine and roses however. As political tides shifted in Montaigne, Dagobert returned to Montaigne to report to King Leon about the succession in Avalon. His wife’s Innish mannerisms caused quite a stir at court and an arrogant rival, Duc Gui de Beaumaindroit used this gaffe to prove that Dagobert had “gone native” and was not serving the best interests of Montaigne. He advocated for a harsher policy against Avalon as befitting the glory of the Sun King, and basically had Dagobert laughed out of court. Dagobert retreated to his estates and drank himself into oblivion. His wife Una took him back to Cumhal’s lands in Avalon where he could receive treatment in the Sanatorium.

In the recent Montaigne invasion of Castille the Duc de Beuxmandroit continued his rise to fame as he lead a unit that conquered Herrera, the estate of Don Humberto. Humberto raised an army, including Adalbert, Finn, Serilda, and Cumhal, to rescue his people. Humberto was slain in battle and while Finn and Serilda bore his body away from the field, Adalbert slew Gui in single combat. While personally victorious, Adalbert was still forced to quit the field and return to Avalon, leaving Herrera in the hands of the enemy. Upon learning of the death of his friend, Dagobert’s grief and intense shame at being powerless to help drove him deeper into drink and he died shortly afterwards of liver failure. At Dagobert’s funeral a letter from Montaigne arrived addressed to Adalbert from the new Duc de Beaumaindroit. He introduced himself as Claude de Beaumaindroit, son of Gui and grandson of Prince Vincenzo Caligari of Vodacce. He also swore that the feud was not over and he would have revenge for his father’s death. Young Claude went to court immediately to continue supporting his father’s expansionist policies and continue the press against Archembeaux.

A few years passed and the new generation came of age. Serilda and Finn had already been serving in Albert’s Company during the Wars of Succession when Elaine took the throne, and now Humberto’s son Arrias, Dagobert’s son Fabien, and Adalbert’s son Gunter were old enough to attend university and the academy. They were all sent to Freiburg where they attended the Zeitler Academy. Upon their return to Avalon, a grand graduation party was held to celebrate. At the party Fabien’s aunt the Marquesse de Bisset offered the young men a unique present—an opportunity for redemption.

She handed them an ancient map of an island fortress belong to a Count Falisci in the 14th century, and said that an earthquake had taken place at sea and a massive rockslide revealed the hidden fortress on what was just assumed to be an uninhabited rock out in the northern sea. The aftershocks of the quake will make the area unapproachable for about two weeks, but once the tsunami calms down there will be a race for the artifacts said to be hidden in the fortress’ vault. Vito “Angel Eyes” Caligari, the cousin of Claude de Beaumaindroit, has already started an expedition from Vodacce, but the party should be able to beat them since they are much closer. If they will represent the Explorers Society and return any artifacts they find there, she will give them the deed to the Drachenheim Estate that recently came into the possession of the Society. She has arranged for them to gain passage to the island on a ship “The Drake” captained by Lord Conrad Hix. They will leave in two days for stops in Montaigne and Eisen before heading out to the island.

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Black Bird and the Black Cross
1st Adventure in the Saga

While on their way to the ship booked for them by Fabien’s aunt the Marquessa De Bisset, the young heroes were stopped by a man from the shadows who introduced himself as Kirkendahl. He had just slain a man who had been spying on the party and warned of an ambush ahead. He asked the party to allow him to inspect the item before giving it to Madame Bisset, in case the item was to dangerous to fall into the hands of the rather indiscriminate Explorer’s Society. Gunter responded that they would consider his request and Kirkendahl left, but not before revealing the Black Cross that he wore, signifying that he is a member of Die Kreuzritter—The Black Crosses.

With Kirkendahl’s warning the party was able to dispatch the ambushers with relative ease. The day was carried by Arias’ incredible whirling Soldano style and the lone survivor revealed that the group had been hired by a dark haired young empty-headed nobleman from Beaumaindroit. He also revealed that they had been watching the party for two weeks (ever since thee earthquake that had uncovered the ancient fortress) The party then boarded the ship called The Drake and prepared to set sail for a couple of mainland ports before moving on to the island. As the ship slipped out of the harbor on the foggy evening tide young Finn encountered a strange Raven with red eyes.

The bird turned out to be a pixie in disguise sent to harass Finn by his former lover, the Sidhe noblewoman Una. The raven bewitched a pirate captain and led his crew through the fog to the drake. After a titanic battle in which, Arias, Fabien, and Finn were wounded the Drake was lost and young heroes were in dire peril until Serilda’s brute force and tenacity turned the tide and the heroes were able to save the fleeing Captain Hicks. Now together with the Captain, the heroes are on their way to Montaigne to free Lord Hick’s brother from prison and gain a new passage to the rocky island where the Drachenheim destiny awaits.

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The Captain's Launch
Lord Hicks tells of the Blackstone Pirates

Lord Conrad Hicks was extremely grateful for their heroic stand that bought him time to escape. He swears that if the party can help him to free his brother from a Montaigne prison called La Serre, we will make sure they get to the island on time.

“You see I was not always Lord Conrad Hicks. I used to be just plain old Conrad Blackstone, and together with me brother Aaron we were the Blackstone Pirates. We used to each have a vessel, but Aaron lost his in the battle against the Armada and we both got pretty messed up. We did get knighted and everything though. Being Lord Hicks didn’t go so well for me though. I’m not really that good at business. I sold my pirate barque to get the Drake, and she was never very yar. I lost most of my fortune and even my guild license because people didn’t like how I trade. Aaron got caught 3 years ago by the Montaigne for smuggling and is in La Serre. I’ve been paying 50 guilder a month to make sure he’s well treated but now’s just the time to free him. You see we buried most of the treasure we got form the Armada war. We were still Blackstone then and no one would give us a trade account. I have the map and Aaron has the coordinates. If we break him out we can pick up my treasure, buy a new ship, and I’ll get y’all to your island and back safe and sound.”

“I have been thinking of this jailbreak for a while now. La Serre is an island that is only accessible by land during low tide. It really isn’t even accessible by boat at high tide due to the rocks and shoals. I paid one of those fancy boys at Luthon to do some research on how to get in the prison all quiet like, and he finally found one. Apparently some old salt managed to escape La Serre about 50 years ago and write a book about it. It went down with the Drake but it’s all up here.” Conrad says as he taps the side of his head. “We just need to find the back way in through the worst of the tide pools. No one would be expecting this back way in, it is only available at the spring low tide.”

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Betrayal at La Serre
Freeing the prisoners at La Serre

It took three days at sea in the small launch to reach their destination, the village of Estreaux overlooking the island prison of La Serre. Due to their wounds in the battle against the pirates, Fabien and Arias had to rest in the inn while Gunter, Serilda, and Finn went with Lord Hicks to rescue his brother Aaron at the prison.

They waited till the dark of night then went out to sea in the small launch and aproached the prison from the tide pools in the back. Swimming through the bottom of the lowest tide pool they reversed the steps Lord Hicks had found in the book he had found and made their way into the prison through a system of tunnels that were normally full of water but were empty because of the unusually low tide.

At the end of the natural caverns they found disturbing room carved in to the rock. It was marked by blood and had strange symbols on the floor as if it had been used for dark rituals in the past, but it appeared long abandoned.

They entered the prison itself through a fissure in the ceiling of the ritual room which led to a loos tile under the desk of the captain of the guard who was thankfully out of his office. While searching the office they discovered that every guard and militiaman was called up for this weekend as a hundred new prisoners were being brought in from the mainland of Montaigne at dawn that morning. Therefor over 50 prisoners were being executed at dawn to make room for they new batch. Finn attempted a distraction but failed the party had to fight a dozen guardsmen on the first floor of the prison. This occurred just as the new prisoners arrived so the guardsmen waiting outside did not notice.

Unbeknownst to the party, before they arrived the Captain of the Prison Guard had seen the fattest hare he’d ever encountered in his life that night as he was waiting for the new prisoners. He had nothing better to do and followed it as the beast ran around the secret back entrance to the prison that was mentioned in Lord Conrad’s book. The captain found that entrance and had organized a group of men to go blast the rock and seal it off. Lord Hicks knew of this land based entrance, as opposed the tide pool entrance he used with the party but planned on using it to ditch the heroes and leave them stranded on the island, hoping the guard would waste time hunting them allowing he and his brother could escape. Since the captain was busy there was only half the crew needed to organize the new prisoners for the hanging so the commotion kept everyone distracted.

The party proceeded to the second floor of the prison where they encountered an overcame another dozen guardsmen led by another lieutenant. In this battle Serilda shocked and terrified the guardsmen as she cut one of their fellows completely in two with her zweihander as he charged her on the stairs. Her exploits caught the attention of an enormous Eisen prisoner who constantly refered to himself as “the Kire”. “The Kire is impressed!” he bellowed. “Set him free and the Kire will make the guardsmen feel his wrath.” “The Kire misses his panzerhand. . .” Following this battle the party freed all 200 prisoners on the remaining levels and had a brief moment to chat with Aaron Hicks, the Kire and his friend Jacque Renault. In the mass confusion from the freeing of all the prisoners the party and the three noble prisoners escaped back to the fissure under the desk in the Captain’s office.

Once they got the ritual room however, the Captain and his guardsmen were waiting for them. The Captain challenged the party to produce a swordsman to challenge him and Serilda accepted. Although he was a competent Valroux swordsman he fell to Serilda’s versatile Drexel style and her dreaded Zweihander. The remaining guardsmen then charged in an a large melee ensued. In the confusion Lord Hicks and his brother slipped away and abandoned the party. The Kire and Jacque remained behind to assist the party but it cost Jacque his life. Gunter had been wounded and Jacque came to his rescue taking on 7 men and his own but fell to a deadly lunge form a guardsmen who was an excellent Tout-a-Pres swordsman. Gunter then slew the guardmen and the Kire’s berserker fury at the death of his friend carried the day. At the close of the battle, with the Kire loudly mourning the loss of his “ruken” or brother in arms, there was a loud explosion. Lord Conrad and his brother had used the explosives the Captain had brought to seal the party in the tunnels.

With no other escape available below, the party returned to the prison above and did a quick search of other offices. They found a similar loose tile in the warden’s office but it revealed a safe that when opened contained a letter of marque for 20000 guilders and many travel and identification papers. While overjoyed for their new wealth the party was also surrounded by guards and militia as the prison break came to halt inside the fortified courtyard.

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The Battle of La Serre
The prison break becomes a full scale battle.

With no other avenues of escape but one and only gate, the party collected their thoughts and formulated a plan. The escaped prisoners had armed themselves and stormed out of the prison but had been stopped on the land-bridge between the prison and the village by the guardsmen and the county militia. With their only means of escape cut off, Finn gave a stirring soliloquy to rally the troops and Gunter lead them to take the bridge and escape.

At first the battle went poorly as the ill trained and equipped prisoners were not fast enough to react to the guardsmen & militia’s organized assault. But as the troops were falling back Serilda and The Kire, fighting back to back, held the line and rallied the fleeing prisoners. Finn picked up the fallen banner and led the reserve unit of reluctant prisoners-warriors into battle and helped to turn the tide. Gunter led his main unit into the center of the enemy line and met the Warden of La Serre in single combat. In the end Gunter was victorious and the corrupt Warden lay dead on the field. The county militia tried one last push to keep the prisoners in but it failed as Serilda and her zweihander eviscerated the militia captain and scattered his forces. By the end of the hour Gunter and his prisoner army had won the field and militia retreated to town.

Many of the prisoners who were freed were Avalonian privateers who were captured by the Montaigne Navy and not been allowed their knightly status and opportunity for ransom as gentleman sailors due to Montaigne’s hatred of Queen Elaine’s “privateers.” Once freed these prisoners confiscated the local militia barque and took the party back to Avalon. Once there the party cashed in the Warden’s letter of Marque (that he had acquired from years of taking bribes from the families of prisoners) and purchased a sloop for their now loyal crew of freed privateers. The Kire volunteered to captain the vessel and look after their investment on the condition that they name it after his fallen friend Jacque Renault. They and the crew agreed but gave the name an Avalonian twist dubbing the vessel the Jack Fox. The party used their connections in the Court of Avalon to secure a letter of Marque and Reprisal for the Kire and crew as “official” privateers.

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The Jack Fox and the Nightingale
Arias, Fabien, and the Kire face the Blackstone Pirates on the High Seas

With Gunter, Serilda, and Finn all wounded at the battle of LaSerre the Kire took Arias and Fabien, who having missed the battle were now recovered, and went looking for the double-crossing Lord Conrad Hicks and his brother Aaron. They looked for them on them on the Eisen coast and after 4 days finally found them. They had apparently recovered their lost treasure, because they had a new ship and they seemed to have given up being Lord Hicks as they were flying their old flag they used when they were the “Blackstone Pirates.” The brothers and their ship the Nightingale, engaged the Jack Fox in a game of cat and mouse for an entire day until they finally met off the coast of Montaigne. There they engaged in a battle and had even boarded each other when in the midst of the melee a flotilla of three Montaigne Naval vessels appeared looking for both of them.

Fabien and Arias were locked in a duel with Aaron and Conrad as the Montaigne forces arrived. The Hicks (who have now returned to their given name of Blackstone) took the opportunity to escape leaving the Jack Fox to face the approaching flotilla. In pitched battle the Jack Fox emerged victorious and the remaining flotilla ships pursued the Blackstones. The Jack Fox returned to port in Avalon for repairs and was ready just in time for the party to leave for the newly discovered island and their mission for the Marquessa de Bisset and the Explorer’s Society.

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