A ruined monument to folly and ego, Ironwolf Keep stands atop an isolated bluff deep in a mist-wreathed forest. Sacked by marauding goblins decades ago the place was thought abandoned, but shadows now creep among the forest’s great boles and footprints have appeared on the single, overgrown track leading to the keep. Travellers have begun to disappear with alarming regularity from the nearby road and the local folk fear some slumbering evil has claimed the ruin as its own.
- DC 10 Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (history): Originally named Ironwolf Keep, the abandoned fortress is now known as the Shadowed Keep or Valentin’s Folly.
- DC 15 Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (history): Valentin was a skilled warrior-adventurer who built the place forty years ago. Valentin’s enemies – the goblins and orcs of the surrounding woodlands – slew him and his retainers at the culmination of a long and savage conflict.
- DC 20 Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (history): Valentin was a famous adventurer and was rumoured to have hidden a great treasure somewhere I n the keep.
Ironwolf Keep is a small, simple fortification. Construction was never completed and so it lacks some of the features of a more sophisticated, grander and better financed fortress. It lacks a stout gatehouse and the donjon never gained crenulations or much of an upper floor. Although the keep is a ramshackle ruin, much of its structure remains relatively intact.
Forty years ago, the famed adventurer Valentin Ironwolf sought a place to make his home and chose a wooded bluff overlooking a steep-sided valley as the site for his keep. As his builders laboured to construct his home, he — along with his retainers — sought to clear the surrounding woodlands of humanoid infestation. During his campaigning, he destroyed the Kobolds of the Ebon Scales, but before he could exterminate the Orcs of the Severed Hand and the Goblins of the Blood Moon he ran out of money and many of his retainers abandoned his cause.
One moonless night — while he sat deep in his cups with this few remaining servants — his enemies scaled the keep’s walls and slew all within in an orgy of slaughter and death.
The Shadowed Keep has been all but abandoned for decades. In the last six months or so an increase in raids on those using the nearby woodland trails has begun to affect trade between the nearby villages. Folk mutter that something terrible has claimed the ruins while others blame bandits. Whatever the truth of the matter, the locals demand action.
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Want to Learn More?
Ironwolf Keep originally appeared in Raging Swan Press’s Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands, which has garnered ten five-star reviews over the last few years. An adventure written for 1st-level characters it’s my homage to the Moathouse from T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil which is surely one of the greatest adventures ever written.
Additionally, I discuss designing the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands in the following posts: