This route, commonly called the "High Road" (as opposed to the "Low Road" that runs along the shore of the Velverdyva) stretches approximately 200 miles connecting the towns of Verbobonc in the northwest and Narwell in the southeast.
Eastbound wagons are typically loaded with foodstuffs and cloth goods intended for the inhabitants of the Wild Coast, while westbound wagons are more likely to carry goods imported from across the Azure Sea - superior food and clothing of Aerdy origin (including crates of highly-prized Sundish lilac wine) and even more exotic goods - spices, ivory, and rare wood - from further abroad. Thus, while the former traffic is greater in volume, the latter tends to be more valuable.
The trip takes ten days (including one mid-trip rest day) for a wagon train. Parties on foot or horseback - be they pilgrims, refugees, adventurers, or outlaws - also use this route on occasion, and are able to navigate the hilly terrain more quickly. A party on foot can traverse the route in seven days, and a group on horseback requires only four.
Although the road passes mostly through wild lands, it is fairly well maintained, and the woodsmen, gnomes, and wood elves inhabiting the Gnarley Forest are sufficient to keep the route safe from most bandits, humanoid raiders, and other predatory monsters. Nevertheless, a series of inns and lodges along the route serve as regular stops for the passing traffic. From east to west they are:
- The Chirping Redbreast Inn (Woodsedge village: pop. 750): Night 1 (9) stop for wagon trains, night 1 (6) stop for men travelers on foot. The scenically rustic village of Woodsedge is situated at the verge between the Gnarley Forest to the north and Welkwood to the south and sees traffic from both directions. This inn is pleasant, if largely nondescript. It is generally busy with patrons coming from all directions, who are happy to trade news and gossip of their travels.
- The Grand Timberway Inn: Night 2 (7-8) stop for wagon trains, night 2 (5) stop for travelers on foot, night 1 (3) stop for riders on horseback. This large inn is, effectively, a self-contained fort. It is surrounded by a high palisade with two watchtowers and employs a dozen-person militia among its total staff of fifty. In addition to the inn proper, several outbuildings within the wall provide supplemental services (blacksmithing, candle-making, baking, etc.) to the innkeeper and travelers alike. The accommodations here are expensive, but most travelers consider it worth the price. Woe to those who (through excessive rowdiness, property damage, or inability to pay their bill) end up on the wrong side of the proprietors and find themselves banned from the establishment, forced to make camp outside its walls.
- The Windy Hollow Lodge: Night 3 (6) stop for wagon trains. This small, lonely inn sees little traffic, and even some merchant caravans will choose to make camp along the road rather than stay here. The lodge is a single dilapidated house which may have once been grand but certainly has not been that way for decades, and now smells of mold and dust. The small family who operates the place all seem dreary and listless, which also well describes the quality of the nourishments served here. Most travelers are sure the place is haunted, and those who've stayed here in the past tend to have stories of unexplained footsteps, moaning sounds, and even shadowy visions.
- The Homely House Lodge: Night 4 (5) stop for wagon trains, night 3 (4) stop for travelers on foot. This comfortable lodge is operated by an extended family of gnomes, though in recognition of their clientele the public eating and sleeping areas were all built at human-scale. When they learn that a group of travelers are passing through, gnomish peddlers from the nearby burrow-villages will descend upon the lodge in hopes of trading trinkets and gossip. The cuisine served here is typically gnomish - turnips, carrots, and other root-vegetables - but the gnomes brew their own beer, which is surprisingly good.
- The Cat's Cradle Inn: Night 5 (4) stop for wagon trains, night 2 stop for riders on horseback. This inn is operated by a pair of old widow sisters and their improbably extensive brood of 20+ children and grandchildren who are constantly scurrying back and forth on errands. The place feels underdefended (one son and two grandsons have spears and shortbows and form a feeble militia) but both women are powerful mystics (the elder, Bezequelle, is an Astrologer, the younger, Pegeen, is a Medium) who not only have placed various magical charms and wards about the place, but are also on friendly terms with and watched over by both the woodsmen and elves of the area. Should any trouble arise here one of the urchin granddaughters has been instructed to run into the woods to summon help, which will arrive 4-24 turns later in the form of a patrol of woodsmen (1-2) or wood elves (3-6).
- The Hillsmoor Inn (Imeryds Ford: pop. 200): Night 6 (3) stop for wagon trains, night 4 (3) stop for travelers on foot. The rustic folk of this hamlet keep their heads down and are not typically friendly with travelers during the day. At night, in the common room of the inn after their tongues have been loosened by ale, they are more willing to trade gossip (and slander) about the next village over. A pair of Footpads keep an eye on all traffic passing through (as this is one of only two fords along this stretch of the Imeryds Run) and if they spy anything unusual will report it to their boss (Gremag, in Hommlet), either by seeking to join on with the travelers (and spending the next day in further observation) or - if a group seems particularly interesting or dangerous - secretly departing on horseback during the night in order to make their report before they arrives. The villagers here know that these two (and their half-orc Warrior companion, who keeps a low profile but is available as muscle if needed) are untrustworthy strangers, but are very unlikely to share that with people who are themselves untrustworthy strangers.
- The Welcome Wench Inn (Hommlet: pop. 250): Night 7-8 (2) stop for wagon trains, night 5 (2) stop for travelers on foot, night 3 (1) stop for riders on horseback. Located at the crossroads of the High and Low Roads, this large and prosperous inn is renowned for its good food and excellent drink. The ostler will often attempt to purchase out of the stock of any passing merchant carrying wine or liquors to replenish his extensive cellar. A few miles east of here on the Low Road lie the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil, that cult of demon-worshippers who were the cause of so much mischief around these parts a decade ago.
- The Pig and Barrel Inn (Bywater village: pop. 850): Night 9 (1) stop for wagon trains, night 6 (1) stop for travelers on foot. Nondescript and seedy lodgings in this nondescript and seedy riverside village that always seems to smell vaguely of rotting fish. Travelers along the Low Road also frequent this inn, so despite its mediocre quality it is usually busy and travelers may be forced to sleep in the common room (30%) or barn (10%) even if they are willing to pay for private rooms - though offering to pay double or triple will see some other group consigned in their place.
Encounters on the road: For the first and last days of travel, encounters should be checked normally for the Viscounty of Verbobonc or Wild Coast (respectively, depending upon the direction of travel). For the days in-between, while the road is passing through the wild woods and hills, the following table should be checked three times per day of travel (morning, mid-day, and evening), with an encounter of some sort occurring on 1 in 10. If the party stays in any of the inns above there will be no encounter checks during the night, but if they make camp in the woods instead they will be subject to three more nighttime encounter checks.
Roll (1d8+1d12) Encounter
3 Kobolds (1-4) or xvarts (5-6)
4 Snake: poisonous (1-3), giant constrictor (4-5), or giant poisonous (6)
5 Owl (night) or Raven (day)
6 Giant porcupine (1-3) or skunk (4-6)
8 Bear: black (1-4) or brown (5-6)
9 Men, woodsmen
10 Giant beetle: bombardier (1-2), boring (3-4), stag (5-8), slicer (9), or death watch (0)
11 Wild boar
14 Men, merchants
15 Wood elves
16 Men, bandits
17 Men, other: pilgrims of [St. Cuthbert (1-2), Fharlanghn (3-5), Olidammara (6)] (1-3), Rhennee (Attloi) (4-5), beggars (6), refugees (7), or adventurers (8)
18 Giant tick (1-3) or weasel (4-6)
19 Spider: large (1-3), huge (4-5), or giant (6)
20 Monster (see Sub-table)
Roll (1d8+1d12) Monster Sub-Table
2 Displacer beast
3 Lycanthrope, werebear
4 Giant: hill (1-4) or verbeeg (5-6)
5 Blink dog
12 Owl bear
13 Lycanthrope, werewolf
17 Lycanthrope, wereboar
20 Green dragon