Here are some adventure ideas based on last week’s post about windmills on medieval maps.
1. Murder Mystery – The town has suffered a rash of thefts and vandalism; Windows have been broken including the stained glass of the church. Jewelry taken from bedrooms while their occupants slept. Small mirrors vanishing. Silver and gold pieces plucked from counter tops when nobody is looking. The incidents seem random and no suspects have been identified.
The old windmill on the outskirts of town has been abandoned for many years. Stories tell of the miller going mad and murdering his workers, whose souls are said to still haunt the place. Two nights ago a watchman noticed flashes of light glinting from the mill as the sun set, its blades glittering in many colors. Investigators approaching the windmill will see that the tattered cloth sails of the blades have been replaced with a thick mass of black feathers with all manner of shiny objects, including broken glass and the stolen items, woven into the bizarre tapestry.
Stranger still is the enormous flock of crows gathered around the windmill, silently watching the investigators. As the setting sun’s rays begin to glint off the illicitly adorned windmill’s blades the entire flock begins to beat its wings, creating an unnatural wind. The sails begin to turn, causing a hypnotic glare to be thrown across the town.
2. Drawing Conclusions – The court magician was well known to be a bit off, but he served the king well and his knowledge of unearthly beasts saved the city against the forces of chaos. So when he asked to move from his tower into the city’s great windmill, the king was happy to grant the request.
In the years of peace that followed the magician became more and more absorbed in his studies. He has sent out adventurers to retrieve all manner of arcane objects for him, including strange inks and feathers from increasingly exotic and powerful winged beings. Other magic users speculate that he is researching spells related to the wind, possibly looking to tap into the Elemental Plane of Air itself.
The magician has also begun drawing strange figures on the sails of the windmill, having several more blades installed to accommodate his designs. One of the adventurers or a local bard may remember having seen devices meant to entertain children that have figures drawn on a wheel. When the wheel is spun it gives the illusion of movement to the figures. The magician may be planning something similar on a much larger scale, but to what end? And the figures he is drawing don’t appear to be any creature you’d find in the sane world.
3. Fe Fi Fo Fum – The town has suffered a rash of grave robberies and a reward has been posted for anyone who can solve the case. Investigations of local magicians and surgeons have turned up nothing. A warren of ghoul tunnels may be discovered, but the ghouls within have already been destroyed. Recently by the looks of it.
A new miller has been producing fine flour, which the baker has been turning into a most excellent bread. The bread is so good that it has become the talk of the barony and demand among the nobles has made the miller and baker quite wealthy.
Years ago the miller and baker were clerics in the cannibalistic Cult of Vaprak. The cult was crushed by the baron’s forces and the other clerics tortured and executed for their crimes. The two survivors swore revenge.
The clerics are behind the grave robberies. They are grinding the bones in the mill and using it as flour for the fine bread. The Feast of Vaprak approaches and on that day they will unleash a curse that will cause all who have eaten the consecrated bread to transform into ogres.
4. Winds of Change – The sea walls of the port city are lined with a battery of unusual windmills. These windmills are capable of generating gales powerful enough to swamp ships and through their magic the city has resisted all invaders. The mills also create gentler winds, capable of speeding allied ships on their way. This has lead to peace and prosperity for many generations.
Recently there have been accidents; a ship blown off course, a storm drawn in instead of repelled. Most recently a group of fishing boats were overturned when the mills’ winds unexpectedly surged with power.
The secret of the windmills is that the wizards’ guild summoned and enslaved Air Elementals to power them. Over the decades the wards have begun to weaken as the guild became complacent. There are few remaining who have the skill and power to restore the wards. To do so will also require rare ingredients and adventurers to retrieve them.
If they fail the Air Elementals will break their bonds and wreak vengeance on the city. A vengeance that some would consider justified. Guild spies are ready to eliminate anyone who discovers the secret of the windmills, especially among the adventurers in the guild’s employ.
5. When the Wind Blows – A great mountain towers over the city and at its peak is the opening of a mighty cavern. Smoke has begun to emerge from the cavern’s mouth.
This heralds the awakening of Ashterath, an ancient red dragon of terrible power. Long ago Ashterath’s fire destroyed entire cities and the plunder of kings was taken for his bed. Armies fell before the dragon’s might.
The reign of terror was finally ended when the Goddess of Night Breezes sent four artifacts down to her faithful clerics. These artifacts were large whistles, cast from mithril and adorned with diamonds. The whistles were attached to the sails of a windmill standing in the shadows of Ashterath’s mountain and as the blades turned the whistles generated soothing music that lulled the dragon into an enchanted sleep.
The whistles of the goddess have been kept safe within the vaults of her temple, or so everyone thought. When the vault was opened the reliquary was empty except for a silver ring engraved with the symbol of Dirk Tongue-Lasher, the legendary Thief of the North.
Have you ever used a windmill in your game? Do you have any more adventure seeds? I’d love to hear them.
If you’re looking for inspiration, I recommend checking out the 1937 cartoon short, The Old Mill. It’s a classic piece of Disney animation. I would expect Mouse Guard players in particular could get some mileage out of it.
Plus it has bats! I’m kind of partial to bats.