There are strangely few customers sitting in the common room of the Red Tankard inn, as late afternoon makes way to evening. A couple whispers quietly to themselves in a corner, while a group of four men laugh raucously at a table to the side. One man sits alone, near the bar, reading what appears to be some sort of local gazette.
Seated at your table are:
Duran Halmar, who won the Ashwood village archery contest for the first time at age fourteen and has won every year since;
Oloc Argrim, the ward of a witch, whose guardian was killed by a hazing gone wrong at the hands of some narrow-minded locals, and who only very luckily escaped their clutches himself;
Varros Blackwater, who, after an affair with the daughter of his former mentor, was attacked, on orders of his teacher, by three fellow students, managing to kill one and barely escaping the region with his life;
Gaven Bonecrusher, who was "called by the Light" one stormy day near North Stagwood to defend his friends against a group of skeletons, earning the surname "Bonecrusher" which he now bears.
Also at your table, though far less invested in your conversation, are two hired hands – Stan, a mercenary soldier, and Ollie, a torchbearer and porter – both content to let you four do the thinking and planning.
The four of you have shown, through talent, or adversity, or both, that there is something about you that makes you more than an average villager or townsman. Leaving home behind, you struck out into the larger world, coming to Fairbrook, in search of glory and fortune. In short order, you made the acquaintance of those now seated with you at this ring-stained table on the inn's first floor.
As the summer sun sets outside, several lamps illuminate the room with a warm glow, casting shadows into the corners, and you discuss plans for your newly adopted career path as adventurers.
Lodged for some days now at the Red Tankard, you have already heard rumors of potentially heroic and lucrative opportunities that might make a fine start to your new profession:
1. There was quite the ruckus two days ago, as a woman burst into the Mayor's office, screaming hysterically that her teenage daughter had disappeared the evening before, and that none of the King's men had been able to do anything about it. It's said there might be a reward for the daughter's safe return.
2. Bandits have been harassing folk on the Ham's Fork Road, and the King's men patrolling there have been unsuccessful in quelling their activity. The bandits no doubt have a tidy amount of coin built up, just there for the taking by anyone who might have the courage and skill to put an end to their marauding.
3. There is a ruin, called Blackwell, a short way north of town on the Woodfield Road. No one knows its origin. Legend says it has deep dungeons filled with danger and treasure. Enough adventurers have gone in and come back with sufficient loot to substantiate the rumors of wealth to be found. But tales of their struggles and scars seem to keep too many others from following in their footsteps.
As you discuss your intentions, a cooling evening breeze wafts in from the open windows of the inn's first floor, bringing with it the occasional sound of footsteps hurrying home for the evening meal, or the wheels of a cart on the cobblestones, punctuated by a horse's hooves.
Big Sadie, the tall, plump proprietress of the Red Tankard, brings dinner to your table. "You lads seem awfully serious tonight." She wipes her hands on her apron and shakes her head back at the kitchen. "My husband Sal reckons you'll soon be leaving on some grand adventure. If so, you'd better eat hearty while you can – nothing gives a man courage like a full stomach!"