When traveling through the wilderness not every location you come upon is a creature's layer, a forgotten tomb or a crumbling ruin. Nope. Sometimes you meet farmer Bob, milkmaid Mary or in this case, Carl, the guy who likes to build bridges and dig holes.
Carl's Crossing isn't too far from Hounds Head, a couple hours walk. He's one of the many homesteaders located in the Komor Forest. He's ex-military so he can handle himself.
Oh but wait, forget what I just told you. It's all wrong now. It's not Carl.
In Carl's Crossing, he dug too deep, struck a chunk of chaos element and it summoned a batch of critters. Most of them ran into the forest. This provides an explanation of why some of the stranger creatures within the Komor Forest found their way here. Thank Carl. All the creatures ran...except one. The doppelganger took the opportunity to claim Carl's life. While not a motivated creature, it wants to upgrade its situation. If the doppelganger can find a way to take over someone's life who is in a better situation, it has no problem murdering the its target and assuming the role.
I see Carl's Crossing as a place to pass through. The party may pass through it, or by it, a few times without much notice or interaction. Carl doesn't offer much in the way of adventure, services or personality. He's a low-key guy who likes to dig holes.
I know I haven't hit my next goal of GM Advice, but I'm gonna add a little anyway. Why? Because I think Carl's situation is one that needs time to develop. A bit more than open the door and kill what's on the other side situation. Of course it could be that, but this situation has the potential to be so much more.
Carl is a background NPC. His movements go unnoticed. He digs his holes looking for Northmen artifacts to sell. Then one day one of the NPCs changes. Just slightly. For example, Herbert the travelling ale man, comes into Hounds Head, but he's not accompanied by his cat. He's always accompanied by his cat. The doppelganger tossed the body of Herbert in the hole with Carl. Assumed Herbert's life, he likes the extra money and comfort, but that damn cat kept attacking him. So the cat is laying in the forest somewhere.
A GM may have the players find the cat. The GM may also or in addition, mention to the players Carl has not been around for a while. Present the players with the clues and allow them to interpret and investigate. Unraveling a murder mystery. My players appreciate a little mystery woven into the campaign, and it keeps them guessing. Was Carl the only doppelganger? And with the chaos element exposed, it could cause...let me correct myself...it will cause future problems.
That's it for Carl's Crossing. Last month was spectacular and this month has already started out great. I want to thank new patrons Sterling Brucks, Search of Games, Joe England, Brandon Cole and my very first Keeper of Maps, Chris Pearson!
Thanks guys! Your support is much appreciated. Enjoy!