Vicious Venues
The Coldstream Bloomery
By Skip and Penny Williams

The Coldstream Bloomery includes encounters of EL 6-13, and it is suitable for use with any D&D campaign.

Once a place of bucolic charm, the woodland village of Coldstream now stands at the heart of a virtual wasteland of stunted crops and denuded hills. A pall of acrid smoke hangs over the community, and dusky soot clings to everything. Still Coldstream boasts a hardworking population of cheerful humans and halflings who labor at the local bloomery, or iron works, where they smelt literally tons of pig iron from locally mined ore.

Is Coldstream a hellish canker on the land, or a jewel of industry?

Background for the DM

Some sixty years ago, the site of the Coldstream Bloomery was a waterfall surrounded by pristine woodland. The first human settler in the area was an enterprising woman who called herself Mertaz Forestwalker. Mertaz built herself a simple cabin and made a living hunting and trapping in the forest. A generation later, the village of Coldstream had grown up around the cabin. The village boasted a blacksmith's shop and a mill for grinding grain. Mertaz's heirs kept the village going for years, earning a modest living from the mill and blacksmith's shop, which the family, now calling itself Coldstream, owned. The current head of the Coldstream family, however, has never been content to be a simple country squire. Dagin Coldstream has visions of becoming a wealthy landowner and a true member of the nobility. He ordered an extensive survey of all the property his family owned and additional surveys of the adjacent land. Dagin was overjoyed when his efforts uncovered a sizeable lode of iron ore in the wooded hills near the village. Dagin quickly concluded that he could make much more money smelting iron ore than he could make grinding grain for the villagers.

In the space of a few years, Dagin has gutted the heart of the village, leveling Mertaz's cabin along with the original mill and blacksmith's shop. In their place, Dagin has built a blast furnace two stories high. A quartet of massive bellows powered by a waterwheel supplies forced air to stoke the furnaces, and teams of sweating workers work around the clock to keep the furnace stoked with charcoal and iron ore.

Dagin has not replaced the old grain mill, and the few remaining farmers in the area must grind their grain using small mills powered by oxen or other draft animals. Dagin owns the mills, but the farmers supply the grain and the animal power.

The village, once surrounded by vigorous fields with lush forests beyond, now lies under a pall of smoke from the blast furnace. Some crops still grow in the fields surrounding the village, but the hills beyond have been stripped of trees to provide charcoal for Dagin's blast furnace. The hills have eroded, and that has left the area's streams filled with silt. Likewise, the fields below have dried out and become considerably less fertile than they once were. In the meantime, Dagin is busy buying up even more forested land to satisfy the blast furnace's hunger for charcoal.

A few of the villagers resent the changes Dagin has brought about, but most are fairly pleased with their new lot in life. Many of the villagers now work for the bloomery in some way or another, either by tending the furnace or transporting supplies or finished goods. Dagin has brought in new workers to handle the dirtiest jobs. Locals who once owned wooded land have done very well because Dagin bought the land at prime prices.

About Dagin

Dagin's thirst for material wealth drives all his thoughts and actions. He's not evil, but he does have a hefty dose of impatience and greed. To get money to fund his mine and ironworks, Dagin briefly turned to adventuring, where his honey tongue and guile served him well. A trained orator from an early age, Dagin quickly mastered the way of the bard.

Statistics for Dagin at two different levels follow:

Dagin: Male human aristocrat 4/bard 4; CR 8; Medium humanoid; HD 4d8 plus 4d6; hp 32; Init +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +6; Grp +6; Atk +7 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork longsword); Full Atk +7/+2 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork longsword); SQ bardic knowledge +6, bardic music 4/day (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage +1); AL N; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +10; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 11, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 17.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +9, Bluff +10, Concentration +9, Diplomacy +16, Intimidate +5, Listen +9, Perform (oratory) +14, Profession (miner) +9, Sense Motive +11, Spellcraft +9, Spot +9, Use Magic Device +12; Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative, Negotiator, Spell Focus (enchantment).

Languages:Common, Gnome, Halfling.

Bardic Music: Dagin can use bardic music four times per day. See the bard class features on page 29 of the Player's Handbook.

Countersong (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound.

Fascinate (Sp): Dagin can use music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him.

Inspire Competence (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task.

Inspire Courage (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to bolster his allies against fear and improve their combat abilities.

Bard Spells Known (3/3/1; caster level 4th): 0 -- detect magic, light, mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st -- lesser confusion (DC 15), expeditious retreat, magic weapon; 2nd -- detect thoughts (DC 15), suggestion (DC 16).

Possessions: Mithral chain shirt, ring of protection +1, masterwork longsword, cloak of Charisma +2, scroll of song of discord, wand of dominate person (7 charges), 3 pp, 13 gp, 20 sp.

Dagin: Male human aristocrat 4/bard 8; CR 12; Medium humanoid; HD 4d8 plus 8d6; hp 46; Init +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +9; Grp +9; Atk +10 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork longsword); Full Atk +10/+5 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork longsword); SQ bardic knowledge +10, bardic music 8/day (countersong, fascinate, inspire competence, inspire courage +2, suggestion); AL N; SV Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +12; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 11, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 18.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +9, Bluff +11, Concentration +13, Diplomacy +17, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +10, Intimidate +6, Listen +9, Perform (oratory) +19, Profession (miner) +13, Sense Motive +19, Spellcraft +11, Spot +9, Use Magic Device +13; Combat Expertise, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Heighten Spell, Improved Initiative, Negotiator, Spell Focus (enchantment).

Languages:Common, Gnome, Halfling.

Bardic Music: Dagin can use bardic music eight times per day. See the bard class features on page 29 of the Player's Handbook.

Countersong (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to counter magical effects that depend on sound.

Fascinate (Sp): Dagin can use music or poetics to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him.

Inspire Competence (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to help an ally succeed at a task.

Inspire Courage (Su): Dagin can use music or poetics to bolster his allies against fear and improve their combat abilities.

Suggestion (Sp): Dagin can music or poetics to make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that he has already fascinated.

Bard Spells Known (3/4/4/2; caster level 8th): 0 -- detect magic, light, mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st -- lesser confusion (DC 17), cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, magic weapon; 2nd -- detect thoughts (DC 16), invisibility, sound burst (DC 16), suggestion (DC 18); 3rd -- displacement, glibness, see invisibility.

Possessions: +1 mithral chain shirt,ring of protection +1, masterwork longsword, cloak of Charisma +2, 2 scrolls of dominate person, wand of sound burst (6 charges), 3 pp, 13 gp, 20 sp.

Dagin's chief assistant these days is a halfling, Griscoe Waterside. He is an old family retainer long charged with keeping his eyes and ears open to threats and opportunities for the Coldstream family. Griscoe's ancestors settled in Coldstream not long after Mertaz Forestwalker came there (see the Background section), and his family has allied itself with Mertaz's heirs ever since. Like Dagin, Griscoe is proud of the ironworks and pleased with his growing wealth.

Statistics for Griscoe at two different levels follow:

Griscoe: Male halfling expert 3/rogue 3; CR 6; Small humanoid; HD 6d6+6; hp 27; Init +4; Spd 20 ft.; AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 20; Base Atk +4; Grp -1; Atk or Full Atk +10 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork rapier) or +10 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SA sneak attack +2d6; SQ evasion, trap sense +1, trapfinding; AL N; SV Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +6 (+8 against fear); Str 8, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Balance +5, Climb +0, Decipher Script +5, Diplomacy +5, Disable Device +6, Gather Information +7, Hide +7, Jump -10, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +5, Listen +8, Move Silently +5, Open Lock +9, Perform (sing) +4, Profession (scribe) +5, Search +8, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +8, Spot +6, Tumble +8; Dodge, Investigator, Weapon Finesse.

Languages:Common, Gnome, Halfling.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Griscoe does 2d6 extra points of damage on any successful attack against flat-footed or flanked targets, or against a target that has been denied its Dexterity bonus for any reason. This damage applies to point-blank ranged attacks as well. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernable anatomies, and creatures immune to critical hits are all immune to sneak attacks. Griscoe may choose to deliver nonlethal damage with his sneak attack, but only when using a weapon designed for that purpose, such as a sap (blackjack).

Evasion (Ex): If Griscoe is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trapfinding (Ex): Griscoe can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap's DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.

Possessions:+1 studded leather, +1 buckler, masterwork rapier, masterwork light crossbow with 10 bolts, Heward's handy haversack, 2 potions ofcure moderate wounds, 4 gp, 10 sp.

Griscoe: Male halfling expert 3/rogue 6; CR 9; Small humanoid; HD 9d6+9; hp 40; Init +5; Spd 20 ft.; AC 22, touch 17, flat-footed 22; Base Atk +6; Grp +1; Atk +13 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork rapier) or +13 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +13/+8 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork rapier) or +13 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SA sneak attack +3d6; SQ evasion, trap sense +2, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +12, Will +9 (+11 against fear); Str 8, Dex 21, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 10.

Skills and Feats: Balance +6, Climb +0, Decipher Script +5, Diplomacy +5, Disable Device +6, Escape Artist +9, Gather Information +7, Hide +13, Jump -10, Knowledge (local) +5, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +5, Listen +12, Move Silently +11, Open Lock +10, Perform (sing) +4, Profession (scribe) +5, Search +8, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +9, Spot +10, Tumble +13; Dodge, Investigator, Iron Will, Weapon Finesse.

Languages:Common, Gnome, Halfling.

Sneak Attack (Ex): Griscoe does 2d6 extra points of damage on any successful attack against flat-footed or flanked targets, or against a target that has been denied its Dexterity bonus for any reason. This damage applies to point-blank ranged attacks as well. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernable anatomies, and creatures immune to critical hits are all immune to sneak attacks. Griscoe may choose to deliver nonlethal damage with his sneak attack, but only when using a weapon designed for that purpose, such as a sap (blackjack).

Evasion (Ex): If Griscoe is exposed to any effect that normally allows him to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trapfinding (Ex): Griscoe can find, disarm, or bypass traps with a DC of 20 or higher. He can use the Search skill to find, and the Disable Device skill to disarm, magic traps (DC 25 + the level of the spell used to create it). If his Disable Device result exceeds the trap's DC by 10 or more, he discovers how to bypass the trap without triggering or disarming it.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Griscoe retains his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class even when flat-footed or targeted by an unseen foe (he still loses his Dexterity bonus if paralyzed or otherwise immobile).

Possessions:+1 studded leather, +1 buckler,ring of protection +1, masterwork rapier, masterwork light crossbow, 10 bolts, gloves of Dexterity +2,Heward's handy haversack, 2 potions ofcure moderate wounds,potion ofinvisibility,oil of bless weapon, 4 gp, 10 sp.

The Setup

Thanks to Dagin's efforts, traffic through the village of Coldstream has increased considerably in recent years, and the PCs might have reason to visit or pass through the village on their own business. Otherwise, events in or around the village might draw them to the site:

  • Various woodland creatures have grown disgusted with Dagin's activities and have launched some kind of assault on the village. They might try to blockade the place, destroy the blast furnace, or do something else to stop Dagin. The PCs might find themselves involved on either side, depending on exactly who calls for their aid.

  • Dagin's workers disturb something that is best left alone. They might prod the tarrasque out of hibernation, disturb a dragon's long nap, release an undead creature from confinement, or open a portal to another plane (probably an elemental plane). Someone calls in the PCs to contain what has been released.

  • Dagin becomes embroiled in some kind of trade dispute. Perhaps Dagin's customers believe they're being overcharged, or his workers think they're being underpaid. Or perhaps a nearby colony of dwarves resents the loss of the monopoly they once had on raw iron. Or perhaps someone has decided to press a claim to land Dagin has recently acquired or is trying to acquire. The PCs might have to do some detective work to figure out exactly what's going on.

Visiting the Bloomery (EL 6-13)

These soot-smeared buildings seem like they belong on one of the Lower Planes. Nearby is a massive, trapezoidal stone pile as tall as a castle's curtain wall and at least twice as thick. Four squat chimneys belch forth smoke, sparks, and a nasty stench. On one side, four great bellows, each the size of a peasant hut, puff air into the structure. Together they sound like a flight of dragons, huffing and puffing.

On the side opposite the bellows lies a structure that looks like a stone shed or cattle barn with a lean-to roof. Arched openings in the shed's sides give a view of the interior, which contains heaps of black charcoal and lumps of rust-red rock.

At one end of the main mass lies a sandy area where heaps of glasslike slag lie. A network of shallow channels winds around the slag piles.

Rows of sooty cottages and other buildings line the crooked streets around the furnace complex. Fields of stunted crops surround the village, and eroded hills line the horizon beyond them.

Once every few hours, laborers working in the "shed" load the furnace with raw iron ore and charcoal. The bellows keep the fire going at volcanic intensity. When a load of refined ore is ready, impurities rise to the top in the form of molten slag, which the workers can draw off by knocking stone plugs out of one end of furnace. The slag flows out into the channels. When it cools, workers rake it aside, then release molten iron into the same channels. When the iron cools, it forms "blooms" that give the Coldstream Bloomery its name. The solidified blooms are then carted off to a warehouse and eventually sold.

Raw ore comes from the nearby mine. A steady stream of wagons brings in charcoal from increasingly far away.

Dagin is proud of his operation, and visitors to the village can get a tour of the premises almost any time. Either Dagin or Griscoe shows visitors around. Use the following text if PCs approach in a nonthreatening manner. Dagin tends to call everyone who isn't intimately familiar with the bloomery a "kid," regardless of age or race.

"Well well, visitors!" says the individual apparently in charge. "You kids have come to see the operation in action, eh? We're always busy here, but we're also very proud of our bloomery, so there's always time to show newcomers around. I've gotten a lot of loyal employees that way, not to mention customers!"

If the PCs indicate that Dagin's bloomery may be creating any sort of environmental problems, he becomes more guarded.

"You can't stand in the way of progress, kids. People need iron, and we need an efficient way to make it. Trees and meadows are nice, but we don't live like savages anymore, hunting for all our food. Human needs are different now, and we have to keep up or get left behind. I don't notice many of you adventurers going around in hide armor and beating up your enemies with clubs. No, you wear steel armor and carry fancy weapons. You think you can make those things without cutting down a few trees? You think you can support a city without good, pure iron? Well, you can't. Maybe elves like to live in the trees sometimes, but most people don't. What we make here is needed, or there wouldn't be such a market for it. The world is changing, and we have to change with it."

Creatures: About 15-20 workers (human and halfling, commoner, expert, or commoner/expert 1-3) are busy around the furnace just about any hour of the day. The workers aren't armed and will flee when faced with danger.

During daylight hours, Dagin and Griscoe look in at the furnace from time to time.

A group of wereboars provides security for the ironworks, and they're on duty at all hours. Dagin and Griscoe encountered the lycanthropes while prospecting for their iron mine. Dagin was quick to persuade the wereboars to join him.

Wereboars (2-8): hp 34 each, see Monster Manual, page 172.

Tactics: The wereboars spend most of their time in human form. If trouble arises, they assume hybrid form and move in to attack. If Dagin or Griscoe (or both) are on hand when a fight occurs, Dagin uses his spells to disrupt the foes, beginning with lesser confusion or dominate person on the most physically dangerous foes. Griscoe sticks close to Dagin, but he doesn't pass up chances to use his sneak attacks, and might even use his Tumble skill to get into position.

Dealing with Dagin

Characters who object to Dagin's ruthless exploitation of the land around the village of Coldstream have several options for dealing with the problem. Simply killing Dagin is most likely the worst choice, because Dagin is fairly popular with his workers and with his customers. Anyone who kills him will become an outlaw and wanted for murder.

Dagin is too proud and stubborn to be driven out of Coldstream or intimidated into stopping his operations. However, someone could help Dagin adopt practices that aren't so hard on the land. For example, characters might put Dagin in touch with someone who can harvest trees for charcoal without clear-cutting whole forests. In any case, Dagin won't object to efforts to restore the land around Coldstream to something like its former beauty. A party with a green thumb (and perhaps a few plant growth spells) could work wonders.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, Polyhedron Newszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.


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