Oakknoll Wainwright contains a 9th-level encounters
Wagons and wagon wheels are vital implements in most D&D game worlds, even if the majority of adventurers don't have much use for them. Nearly everyone else, from the lowliest farmer to the richest merchant, has a wagon or carriage for hauling freight or just for getting around. Oakknoll Wainwright is, at least at first glance, simply a place where these important, though mundane conveyances are made and repaired. Some wagons -- and some wainwrights -- hold secrets worth knowing, however.
Background for the DM
Naibrar Meliasae, the elf owner and chief wheel and wainwright at Oakknoll Wainwright, is at a stage in life that most elves reach sooner or later. He has an urge to see the world, meet its people, and perfect an art. Naibrar's path to self-actualization, however, has taken an unusual turn. After several years of successful adventures as a conjurer, Naibrar discovered he had a knack for making things (after he had occasion to craft or repair a few wagon wheels for stranded travelers). Sometime thereafter, Naibrar obtained the deed to a hill thickly covered with a mixed forest of oaks and other hardwoods. Naibrar then realized that by going into business for a short while (perhaps a century or so), he could both hone his creative skills and meet an endless parade of different people.
Today, Naibrar and a team of workers (mostly humans and tallfellow halflings) harvest trees from Naibrar's wooded hill and use the lumber to make carts and wagons of all types. Naibrar also does repairs and makes wheels for sale to other wagon makers. Though Naibrar's wheels are standardized, all his carts and wagons are custom work, designed and built especially for each customer.
Naibrar likes a challenge and will take on nearly any sort of commission for a special wagon. He has built many halfling house wagons and a large assortment of specialty wagons -- including many fitted with false bottoms and secret compartments. Naibrar suspects the latter were intended for smuggling, but decided to accept the task of making them anyway, just to see if he could do it.
Naibrar does most of the work himself, except for preparing raw lumber and any really heavy work. As a consequence, he works around the clock. Before dawn each day he's busy at his forge, making iron or steel wheel rims and other fittings for whatever projects he currently has in progress. Throughout the morning he works at cutting and shaping wooden parts. He takes a break around noon for a light meal and spends a few hours handling paperwork, billing, orders for supplies, and other sit-down tasks. In the afternoons, he test-fits what he has created that morning and spends the remainder of the afternoon and evening assembling his wares. Each evening, he spends a few hours in trance before arising to plan the next day's activities and start the whole cycle again. Naibrar's assistants find his boundless energy a source of wonder and amusement.
Though he fills his days with work, Naibrar doesn't keep a rigid schedule. He occasionally declares a personal holiday, which he usually spends roaming the countryside and enjoying nature. He sometimes takes longer trips to visit friends or family (he has a son living with older relatives about two days' ride away).
Even on workdays, Naibrar adjusts his schedule to best serve his goals for the day. For example, on days when his assistants cut and stack lumber, Naibrar usually drops his other tasks to supervise the operation. No matter what he's doing at the time, Naibrar always takes at least a few minutes to talk with any customers who drop in.
As noted earlier, Naibrar's business is located at the foot of the wooded hill he owns. The site is located on a fairly well-traveled road on the outskirts of a small town or village in a heavily forested area. It's possible, however, that Oakknoll Wainwright is located in a more urban area. In that case, Naibrar's hill might be the only wooded land for miles around. In any case, Naibrar lives in an area where there is an elf colony or where elves make up a substantial percentage of the population.
Player characters might pass by Oakknoll Wainwright several times without noticing the place. They might stop there to purchase a vehicle, to have a vehicle repaired, or perhaps to sell one. It's also possible that something else will draw a group to the place:
Visiting the Oakknoll Wainwright (EL 9)
Naibrar's business occupies a small complex of buildings that house all phases of wagon construction, from cutting and curing lumber to forging metal parts to final assembly and painting.
Visitors can walk right onto the property anytime. Naibrar doesn't feel the need to keep regular business hours because customers can find him at work just about anytime. When the PCs visit, he assumes they're customers. He's accustomed to adventurers, so he reacts with equanimity to whatever they say. Read or paraphrase the following when they arrive.
Naibrar usually conducts business in the main shop (see below). The major buildings on the site include the following:
The Main Shop: This is the building described above. The ground floor is given over to a spacious workshop where Naibrar does most of his work. A floor-to-ceiling tool rack fills the back wall. Workbenches fill the wall on the right side. The left wall has a desk and staircase leading to the second floor. The center of the floor usually contains Naibrar's current project.
The upper floor contains Naibrar's living quarters and an archive of plans and specifications for past projects.
Stable: A simple wooden building behind the main shop has stalls for three draft horses. A loft above holds grain and fodder.
The Smithy: A small brick building just uphill from the main shop houses a forge, metalworking tools, and a supply of charcoal.
Lumber Drying Sheds: Two long, low wooden buildings upslope from the smithy and main shop are filled with racks where Naibrar stores and cures freshly cut lumber.
Creatures: Naibrar has one to three workmen to assist him most days; use the statistics for 1st-level rogues from the Dungeon Master's Guide. These employees go home before dark each day and return just after dawn. During the workday, one usually accompanies Naibrar, and the others (if present) are at work elsewhere on the property.
Naibrar also has acquired a pair of hammerers to assist with security and heavy labor. Unless he has the automatons working on a special task, Naibrar usually keeps them out of sight but fairly close at hand, in case he needs their help.
Hammerers (2): hp 27 each; MM II 27.
Naibrar Meliasae CR 8
Once he can bring the automatons into play, he uses them as bodyguards and casts Evard's black tentacles at any characters he finds physically threatening. If necessary, he uses shield, protection from arrows, or displacement (or possibly all three) for personal defense. He uses ice storm and fireball whenever he can aim them to deal damage to the majority of his foes, and uses shatter (aimed at a weapon) against anyone who closes to melee range. If he finds himself running out of spells, he uses arrows or Melf's acid arrow spells from his wand (+6 ranged touch) to keep up the pressure on the foe.
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, PolyhedronNewszine 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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