A shield of wondrous protection
In this, our second instalment, we’ll learn about Quiverbane, a knight’s shield offering no small protection on the battlefield.
Quiverbane was fashioned some six centuries ago by The Esteemed Order of the Protectors of the Northern Havens, a knightly brotherhood pledged to the service of Duke Fregest of Esobran. At that time, Esobran was still one of many duchies within the now dispersed kingdom of Leodwored, and the Order’s charge then, as it is now, was to ward the northern approaches to the Esonian lowlands against incursion from the orc tribes of Leodwored’s northern frontier.
Marhared, Champion and First Sword of the Order, bore both the shield Quiverbane and the blade Greywand, in battle; he used the enchanted armour to great effect by closing with orcish war bands whilst their arrows bounced harmlessly away. For his prowess in combat and the fearsome efficiency of his five score-strong cadre of elite knights, Marhared earned a valiant reputation both for his Duke and, perhaps more significantly, amongst his orc foes.
After nearly a decade of defensive skirmishes and warding manoeuvres, Fregest bade the Order to carry the battle to the orc warrens of the northern frontier, believing that a forceful penetration into orcish territory would deliver a stinging lesson against the folly of violating Esonia’s borders. Obediently, Marhared led the Order through the dismal hills and into the broken pits overlooked by Shagramul, an orcish raiding stronghold where the orc king, ShurkÃºl, held sway.From Shagramul, the orc king hurled humanoid fodder at the knights while Marhared and his brethren slew hundreds of the brutish humanoids without loss. But Marhared’s otherwise brilliant offensive engagements fell short of overtaking the orc king’s position. As dusk fell, the humanoids fell into defensive positions; before midnight, scouts of the Order discerned that the orcs, under cover of darkness, had encircled the knights. Marhared, ever with an eye toward the offensive, planned a break out at first light in an effort to capture Shagramul.
It is little known what happened during those scant hours between midnight and dawn, for by the sun’s rise, Marhared’s force was no more-the only testament to this grim fact was delivered to the Duke by a company of the Order’s scouts, who, acting as a rear guard, happened upon the twisted, burned, and bleeding corpses of the knights on the field early that morning. Most disturbing was that Marhared’s body-stripped and dismembered-had been drawn and quartered, and his remains, piled singularly in a glistening crimson heap on the ruined plain under Shagramul, were without trace of Quiverbane or of his enchanted blade.
Appearance and Powers
Quiverbane is a shield +0, +2 vs. humanoids fashioned of polished steel and adorned with iron studs with worn leather arm straps. A runic inscription appears on the inside and reads, in Auld Leodworian, the command words for the device. When invoked, the command words activate a defence similar to that manifested via the 3rd-level Magical spell Protection from Normal Missiles (RC/49). If only the bearer is protected, Quiverbane’s enchantment lasts for a total of 12 turns. At the bearer’s command, Quiverbane’s protection can extend to additional combatants within ten feet, but for a proportionately lesser duration per individual thus secured (i.e., two combatants for six turns, three individuals for four turns, etc.). Regardless of the number of combatants protected at a time, Quiverbane’s power against normal missiles may be used only once per day.
The shield Quiverbane may spawn any of the following adventures:
- The Kingdom of Esobran (independent after the fall of Leodwored some two hundred years ago) deems Quiverbane to be a national treasure and commissions the party to recover the enchanted shield. The PCs’ logical starting place is the (greatly depleted) orcish kingdom beyond Esobran’s northern border. Shagramul, the southernmost fortress of the orc realm, probably still stands, and is likely to feature a few “dungeon” levels above and below ground. If Quiverbane is not within, clues to its whereabouts may still be found, possibly leading the party deep within orcish territory. Alternately, the commission might come from The Esteemed Order of the Protectors of the Northern Havens, which still exists as Esobran’s elite military guard.
- Knights of the Order have crossed Esobran’s northern border in quest of Quiverbane and have been surrounded by humanoids; a scout hurriedly delivers this dire message to Esobran’s court, where the PCs are conveniently located. If the party, through its exploits, has gained a favourable reputation with the Esonian court, the king of Esobran will naturally entreat the PCs’ aid.
- Leodwored, though factionalised as a solitary power two centuries ago, is a name remembered by political traditionalists who dwell in neighbouring kingdoms that were once part of its grand protectorate. These folk recognise Esobran’s sovereignty but refuse to accept that Quiverbane is Esobran’s sole property. If Esobran commissions the PCs to locate the enchanted shield, factions from other realms that used to be part of Leodwored’s kingdom may work to stop them. Alternately, these other realms might commission the party to recover the shield for their own use (conquest, propaganda, leverage, political gain, etc.).
- Esobran would like nothing more than to overcome the orcs once and for all, but has halted any organised invasion for fear of whatever power ShurkÃºl released all those centuries ago. The king of Esobran wants the PCs to discover what, if any, power protects the orcs and, naturally, to overcome it as a pre-emptive strike against the humanoids. If successful, the party’s mission could very well usher in a rapid Esonian conquest over the orc host.
- ShurkÃºl did indeed summon a fell being to defeat the Order all those years ago. This Power, probably some demon or devil, or perhaps an immortal of Entropy, holds Quiverbane “hostage” in exchange for propitiation from the orcs. The orcs, for their part, have established a religious sect to this Power, believing (correctly) that appeasement prevents Quiverbane from being used against them again. The PCs, on a quest to recover the enchanted shield, must defeat not only orcish worshippers, but also the Power itself.
- The PCs find themselves travelling close to or through the orc borders on the way to some other destination. Along the journey, the party locates a secret, but forgotten, entrance into the orc warrens. Adventuring within the caverns, the party stumbles upon Quiverbane, inexplicably unguarded and apparently free for the taking. Any encounter with orcs reveals the seizure of the shield, bringing down the wrath of the orc community. If the party manages to escape and return to civilisation, it’s likely (certain, in fact, if the party crosses Esobran’s borders) that Quiverbane will be recognised. At best, the party will be pressed to explain how they came across the artefact; at worst, it will be impressed into the king’s service to fight against the orcs who are undoubtedly massing to regain their stolen property.