12 Ashlarian Whispers & Rumours

My Adventures in Shadow campaign will soon be re-starting. I can’t get back into the action. After all, Gloamhold represents–essentially–my perfect campaign: Conan vas. Cthulhu in a Megadungeon!



As I posted a few weeks ago, I want the campaign to be much more a sandbox game than my recent campaigns. This means the players are much more in control of the action in regards to where they go and what adventures they experience than in a normal game. To facilitate that, I need rumours!

Behold 12 rumours currently circulating in Ashlar’s taprooms and marketplaces:

  1. The first duke discovered something so horrible deep inside Gloamhold none of his family have ever set foot in the place ever again.
  2. Strange folk have been seen hanging around Languard’s docks at night, of late. They wear voluminous cloaks and flee if approached. They could be smugglers or they could be something else entirely.
  3. The storms this winter will be even harsher than normal. Some say, low-lying parts of Languard could even be flooded. The sea will be unusually rough and Gloamhold will probably be cut off until the spring. Woe betide anyone trapped in its halls!
  4. Bandit activity is on the rise around Dulwich. The bandits are probably hiding somewhere in the woods in one of the many ruins said to lie therein. Someone needs to do something about it.
  5. The lizard men of the Salt Mire are getting increasingly aggressive toward travellers. No-one knows what’s got them riled up.
  6. The dismal coastal village of Coldwater is a hive of smuggling activity. Most of the villagers are hideously ugly, and rumours of an evil cult based in the village are commonly thought to be true.
  7. A small clan of dwarves lives in a secret subterranean hold on the shore of a shadow-wreathed lake below the village of Wellswood.
  8. A strange crimson-sailed ship has been seen anchored off the Shoalstone. No doubt someone seeks to unlock the maddening secrets of the Cave of Forbidden Dreams. But for what purpose?
  9. The Sunken Pyramid lies in the deep waters off White Moon Cove. The sinister structure features in many mariners’ tales. Sharks gather in the area in surprising numbers.
  10. Gloamhold is a dangerous place. Beyond its many foul denizens and cunning traps, the place itself is said to warp those who spend too long in its depths. Such folk are said to have the Gloamhold Look.
  11. Dark clouds have been seen hanging over Black Tower, no matter how strong the wind. What are those wizards up to?
  12. Plague has ravaged Ashford. Almost everyone is dead. Could a plague so virulent be natural?

I look upon the rumours above as more than mere rumours–they are adventure seeds and it will be fascinating to see which one(s) the players pick. (And who knows which ones are true and which ones are false?)


Related Post: Why Your Campaign Needs More Rumours


Got a good rumour (true or false) for my players? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll add it to my campaign list!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

5 thoughts on “12 Ashlarian Whispers & Rumours”

  1. I hear the roads between the villages south of the Salt Mire are swarming with brigands. I expect the Duke would be kindly disposed to anyone who solved that particular problem. And who knows? Might even be a fief in it for the right man. More than a few old holds in the woods with family lines that have died out and no claimants willing to take the risks inherent in rebuilding…

  2. Sat near a bunch of old coots last night, them all telling and retelling that tired old tale of the ___ family’s gold from back in my grandfather’s day. Everyone knows they lost a wagon in a mudslide from ___ Hill down to the Mire, but gold? Pfft. More likely grain. Or maybe furs. Only a fool’d chase after that legend, and likely right into the clutches of those ___-worshipping lizards!

    (My Ashlar materials are elsewhere, hence the blanks.)

  3. I don’t have a rumor to add, but I once ran a sandbox game just like this. At Session 0, I gave each player an index card with 3-5 rumors on it. Some overlapped the same hook but different info. At the end of the session, I asked what they wanted to follow up on.

    I would hand out new rumors as needed. At the end of each session, I would once again ask what they wanted to do. Sometimes I would spring something else on them.

    Overall it was a great campaign. I look forward to hearing about yours.

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