An Educational Summer Camp for Teens set in Spencer, MA
Ellie Smith wakes up just after the sun starts coming in through the windows of her cabin. She stretches, smiles, and heads to the bathroom to get ready for the day and become the character she designed for herself when she arrived at camp: Laurel. Ellie worked with the camp staff to design an identity and background for the character that she’ll be role-playing in what amounts to a live-action improv game for the next few weeks. Laurel is more of a diplomat and healer than a fighter, but the tunic and cloak she wears are accented by chainmail bracers she made herself earlier in the week at camp. She carries a satchel with a water bottle, a half-filled journal and a small magical statuette that she earned by solving a riddle posed by a sphinx earlier in the week. Finally she drapes a sash over her shoulder that bears half a dozen badges and emblems that she has earned by studying philosophy, mediating disputes, healing the sick, and fighting off monsters. The color marks her as a Master Sage, one of the premiere diplomats of Haven. She - like all the campers here - is referred to as a Scion. The Scions of Haven carry on the traditions that the village of Dragon’s Haven was founded on - Communication, Critical Thinking, and Compassion. Ellie finishes taking on the role of Laurel by strapping a foam-rubber coated sword to her hip. She made the sword at camp with the help of the counselors, and it’s the same kind of thing any potential enemies will be attacking her with. The padding makes sure no one gets hurt, but if she takes more than a few hits from an opponent’s weapon her character will be incapacitated until she gets healed.
Laurel eats breakfast with her fellow Scions, all middle or high school aged students. They speculate on what today might bring and share theories about some giant clawed tracks that were found outside of one of the cabins this morning. Just as breakfast is concluding, a worn and weary woman stumbles into the great hall. She explains that she was leading a trading caravan to Haven, but that they were ambushed by bandits. Some of her people made it to town, but others scattered into the woods. The leader needs people to help treat her wounded companions, another group to try to track down the bandits, one more to sweep the forest for survivors, and a final one to bring the caravan’s supplies back to town.
Scions quickly divide into groups, each led by a more experienced adventurer (played by a counselor). While some of Laurel’s friends go to help search the forest, she goes with some other young heroes to help treat the wounded. The Master Healer helps the group identify signs of different kinds of injuries, then assists them in making a splint for one traveler’s leg, and treating another for shock. Laurel notices that the traveler being treated for shock has some symptoms that don’t line up with that diagnosis. Upon further analysis she determines that this traveler has been poisoned!
Laurel gets the attention of the Master Healer and asks him what they can do. The healer explains that this is beyond his abilities. If they want to save this traveler they’re going to have to figure out how to create an antidote. There’s a chance that one of the forest spirits may be able to help them, but it will be a dangerous trip - Laurel will need to gather some friends to help her. One of her ranger friends learned about forest spirits earlier, and he says that one supposedly lives in a grove between a trio of maple trees with rabbit prints in the center. He has a compass bearing to get to the grove and can help Laurel get there.
Laurel talks to several of her fellow Scions and gathers a group to seek out this forest spirit. She recruits several knights to protect them, another ranger to help them find the grove and identify the right kinds of trees and tracks, a trio of mystics to help them summon the spirit, and a counselor to guide them past the protective wards and out into the forest.
The trip out to the grove is tense. The Scions know that somewhere nearby is a large group of bandits, and the forest can be dangerous enough even without them. Halfway to the grove a group of bandits ambushes them. The Scions fight back with foam swords and arrows and manage to drive the bandits off, recovering an odd ciphered note from one of the fallen bandits.
Once they reach the grove, the rangers use their woodland skills to identify the right spot to summon the spirit. The mystics then draw some Celtic symbols they learned earlier in the dirt and sit down to help guide the group in meditation. They’ve found that tree spirits value stillness and contemplation, and will only come to them when the group has quieted their thoughts. After a few moments of guided meditation, a green-skinned humanoid figure appears out of the forest and steps into the grove. The figure is covered in moss and bark with the horns of stag growing out of its head and its eyes glow a menacing red. The spirit is angry because some other humans in the area have been disrespectful of the forest, and it is in no mood to help them. Laurel and her companions have to calm the spirit, and with patience and diplomacy they end up convincing it to help them. The spirit tells them that the antidote they’re looking for can be made from some fairly common ingredients, rubus pensilvanicus, daucus carota, and pueraria montana - the spirit only knows them by their formal latin names. The group thanks the spirit and returns to Haven to find out more about the plants they need.
While the alchemist goes to check the town library and the rangers go back to talk to their leader, Laurel checks back with the wounded traveler. She’s also hoping to see if anyone knows anything about the ciphered note she acquired from the bandits. Other Scions have been treating the traveler for heat exhaustion and it seems to be helping, though the poison is still a lingering issue. The traveler is lucid enough now that he can explain a bit of what happened. His testimony combined with the findings from the groups that tracked down the bandits and caravan supplies make it clear that this is more than an isolated incident.
Several of the sages call the town together and help to facilitate a discussion about what the town knows and what it should do. Laurel’s ciphered note matches a code used by a group that has threatened the town before: the Disciples of the Burning Wing. One of the knights who went to hunt down the bandits found a partially decoded note that Laurel and her friends hope can help them break the code in the note they found earlier.
While that work begins the group breaks for lunch, and some of the new friends Laurel made on her quest to talk to the forest spirit urgently come by her table to tell her about a discovery they’ve made. They’ve worked out what some of the herbs they need to make the antidote are and where they can find them, but one of the other survivors of the trade caravan thinks that someone may have betrayed the caravan to the bandits. Now it’s more important than ever that Laurel and her friends find out what’s in the note they found, and they redouble their efforts to decipher it. If they’re unable to identify the traitor it’s only a matter of time before they strike again.
When they manage to decipher the note it turns out that the poisoned survivor they’ve been treating was in contact with the bandits all along. Laurel and her friends confront him and he says that one of bandits apparently slipped some poison into his food a week ago, and left him a note afterwards telling him that the only way they’d give him the cure was if he let them know the caravan’s travel route. The Scions now have a tough decision to make. The other surviving members of the caravan want the traitor punished, but he was clearly coerced into making a bad decision. It’s going to be up to Laurel and the rest of the Scions to figure out a just solution to a complicated moral dilemma...