Designed to be the opening adventure in a campaign, this combat-heavy adventure is aimed at 1st-2nd level characters who are travelling along a trade road through a humanoid-infested forest. The exact location is left open, so a suitable place within your chosen campaign world can be selected.
The introduction gives some background, this particular stretch of road is, while dangerous, not particularly deadly and so experienced adventurers tend to call it 'The Milk Run' while caravan owners view it as a good testing-ground for novice caravan guards or would-be adventurers in general. Anyway, the characters are hired to escort a silk merchant, her wares and her family, along the road from the town of Marbolg to the village of Thornhallow.
Most of the journey will be uneventful, but the silk merchant's family has been targeted by a couple of humans, last remnants of a group of adventurers that fell apart due to in-fighting, who have enlisted the help of goblins and bugbears in running a kidnapping racket. They've set up an ambush - quite a good one, from the tactical point of view, moreover it is described in good detail to enable the DM to run it as planned. If the kidnapping attempt is successful, the silk merchant will hire the characters to get her family back (she doesn't want to pay any ransom!), but hedges her bet by continuing on to Thornhallow to get the money anyway.
Assuming the characters take the job and succeed in tracking the kidnappers through the forest - aptly named Tanglewood - they will have to assault the bandit's lair. The lair is well-described, and again the defenders' tactics are explained clearly - while this scenario is aimed at beginning characters, it might suit a beginning DM as well!
To wind up, various options are provided. If the characters for whatever reason don't attack the lair, they may have a chance as the kidnappers head to the rendezvous where the ransom is due to be paid. If any of the victims are slain, the silk merchant is liable to turn very nasty... on the other hand, if the leader of the kidnappers manages to get away, she will also be out for revenge.
A nice, simple adventure very well presented and easy to run.
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