Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Now Published! Hunters & Highwaymen: 30 NPCs + Story Hooks for Taverns, Highways, and the Deep, Dark Woods

I'm pleased to announce the publication of a new GM's resource from Gundobad Games: Hunters & Highwaymen: 30 NPCs + Story Hooks for Taverns, Highways, and the Deep, Dark Woods

This product significantly expands the NPCs + story hooks project I've been discussing this winter here on the blog (especially here). Thank you to all who expressed interest in these vignettes! 

You can grab it for a few bucks on DriveThruRPG.com, right here (affiliate link). 

But what is it?

HUNTERS & HIGHWAYMEN is a system-agnostic collection of 30 characters (NPCs) you might meet along a lonely highway through a dark forest, or in the warm firelight of a country tavern along just such a road. These motley folk are suitable for any RPG settings that evoke late medieval or early modern European society. Each character encounter will add color and flavor to such a setting – enlivening the places that usually just lead to the adventure sites – but many of these encounters offer adventure story hooks in their own right.

Here's one example (see the DTRPG product preview, or the earlier list of 12 samples on my blog, for many more!):

1.6. SCHOLAR: this roughly 30-year-old natural philosopher has come to this district to find a Dragon Rose, which blooms briefly, only once each century, atop arcane ruins. He has been crisscrossing the region’s roads and woods for several weeks.

On the highway: this agitated young man has just found and harvested a Dragon Rose in full bloom an hour’s hike off the main road. He knows he has only five days of bloom left to get the flower to a Stasis Glass at the Royal Academy – seven days’ journey away. His entire career hangs in the balance! The scholar will accost any competent-looking party, offering to pay them 1,000 gp each if they will help him hijack a fast coach and get him home on time (back home, he is easily good for the money).

At a Tavern: if encountered indoors, the scholar has not yet been so lucky. Weary, obviously bored with tavern society, and low on traveling-funds, the scholar will approach any party of obvious adventurers and offer to sell the location of remote ruins he has found within a day’s journey into the woods.

The product is a 16-page .pdf (full-color cover, front matter, 1-page ad, and 11 pages of gaming content).

Although I initially planned to craft a small micro-setting to go with these entries, I thought hard about it and decided H&H would probably be useful to more people if I kept it generic enough to fit different settings. Nonetheless, the entries do reveal an implied social setting that could frame many sessions of adventurous play. The introduction page in H&H briefly describes that setting; it offers one illustration of the kind of 'late feudal' society I described in my 2019 post on the the logic of feudalism, plus more than a spoonful of a Brothers Grimm-esque creepy fairy tale vibe. If there's actually a clamor of demand, I can certainly flesh out this setting in more detail, but for now, know that these story hooks should fit well in any late medieval or early modern setting for D&D, WFRP, or similar games. 

Please have a look, let me know if you have any questions, and happy gaming!


  1. So I just bought the book and honestly see a lot of potentials for short stories for a campaign.

    And I can definitely see a micro-setting coming from the possible events.

    The vengeful mother event is honestly my favorite out of what I scanned.

    1. Thanks so much!

      The vengeful mother is actually inspired by a rather obscure but true episode in Chinese history!

    2. I really need to read more Chinese history; a broader well of inspiration for stories and the like.

  2. I've really tried to swear off new content since I've got so many pdfs that I haven't read or used. But your take on applying feudalism to D&D settings is so close to mine that I'll be checking out your pub.

  3. I've been really enjoying this series of posts on the road-warden micro-setting. So thank you!

    I've bought the PDF, but not yet had a chance to read it. Looking forward to that :)

    However, I did get as far as reading the "Logic of Feudalism" post and really enjoyed it. I love history that approaches things from a "why?" perspective - partly just because that's how my brain works, and partly because it, as you point out, allows you to do world-building with greater verisimilitude. Once you know why things were as they were in our world, you can ask "what if...?"

    Can you recommend any of your other posts that focus on explaining history in that way? And, departing the shores of roleplaying, any books of popular history that similarly focus on the forces at work shaping societies?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi! Thanks very much for buying H&H!
      I tend to go back and forth between posts about gaming systems or strategies, product reviews, etc., and then every now and then I drop in another post reflecting history and archaeology. Below are some of my 'classic' older historical posts, if I can use such a word for a 2-year old blog...







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