More rumors from Portown
I was going through more notes looking for traps and interesting fluff I can put in a dungeon I am putting together, when I found my old rumor table for Portown. Conspicuously absent is anything about the pirates or goods going missing. I think this was inspired by The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and a Hero of our Time by Lermontov (the Taman chapter). I decided that the town benefits enough from the smuggling and the pirates that they will not discuss it with outsiders and those that do are silenced.
1) Lord Arn has gone missing.
I had decided that Lord Arn wanted to keep his daughter’s disappearance a secret. Nevertheless the rumor got out that she was missing. I imagined that Lord Arn does not make many appearances and is suspected to have at least one body double in his employ. He is wary of assassination.
2) New strange man inhabiting the tower near the ruins. This tower is owned by Lord Arn.
The implication here, in conjunction with the first rumor, is that the thaumaturgist killed or kidnapped Lord Arn. In reality I had the thaumaturgist paying rent to Lord Arn. He is in good standing with the town.
3) Zenopus’s ghost possesses bodies to continue his research.
Another rumor designed to make the thaumaturgist seem potentially powerful. I liked it so much I decided that I would make it true down the line somewhere. It never go to that point.
4) Zenopus was actually a beautiful woman.
This rumor may have been true. Its purpose was to reinforce the ghost rumor. The idea that there is doubt about his identity lends credence to the idea that he may somehow be able to take over other people’s bodies.
5) Zenopus became a beautiful woman.
Same deal as above.
6) Someone has been stealing chickens at night. Strange tracks have been found leading to the ruins.
This was the goblin’s doing. I imagined them as pathetic and solitary creatures. They seem so lonely in that room, beset on all sides by villagers, pirates, spiders, and ghouls. Maybe they were in the process of striking a deal with the thaumaturgist, I decided. Negotiations were ongoing.
7) Creatures that come up from below can’t find their way back down.
This was meant to describe the goblins. It is supposed to sound vague and demonic. I just thought that the goblins were somehow able to get up to the 1st level but then whatever path they dug collapsed and they are now stuck. In contrast I wrote a rule elsewhere in my notes that says that the undead can travel freely through the blocked passageways. Spooky.
8) Members of the town head into the woods on a new moon and mate with woodland creatures.
This was meant as a more disturbing possible origin of the goblins. If this rumor were true it is possible that the goblins are in fact discarded half-breed bastard children of villagers and animals left to fend for themselves in the dungeon. Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne was the inspiration for this one; I am pretty sure.