The Local Hermit
Early in the morning, even before the blanket of mist has lifted from the forest floor, you feel yourself being roused by a gentle hand on your shoulder.
"Pardon the intrusion, but I thought perhaps I could have a word?" Even through the haze of sleep, you recognize that the voice belongs to Jet and you see her kneeling beside you as you open your eyes.
After the PC has a moment to awaken: "I was wondering perhaps if you and the others planned to go out hunting today? Maybe I'm fussing for nothing, but… I'm worried about how long our food is going to last. It might be a long shot, but I know I saw a deer dart off through the trees yesterday – perhaps if you take down one or two… well, it would certain ease up on the strain and put my worries to rest."
Assuming the PCs agree to Jet's request and go out, they are able to forage for about an hour before they come across the encounter. Allow them to make a DC 10 Survival test. This represents the total foraging they'll be able to do for the day, but they also have time to deal with the hermit in that. Meeting the DC will grant them 1 Provision Point, and for every 2 they beat the DC by, award 1 additional provision point.
Make a secret perception check for the characters. Whoever has the highest sees the following:
After you've been exploring and foraging for about an hour, you look up and suddenly notice an oddity nestled almost unnoticeably in the gnarled roots of a tree. A small cottage, with a barely visible plume of smoke is set into the crevice, and now that you look closer you see that it is surrounded by a small, but wild garden.
Approaching: As you draw nearer, it is apparent that this cottage has been here for many years – the weathered roof covered in moss and the stone walls dotted with lichen. The smell of wet earth permeates the structure, as does the smell of something… herbal… cooking within.
The shack is home to Veld, a reclusive wizard. She dislikes intrusions and rebuffs visitors coldly, believing those strong enough to survive will do so.
"Bah! Who goes there!" A wretched, elderly voice squawks from within, the high pitch to it suggesting that it might be a woman. Not a moment passes before a wrinkled, sour looking crone is standing on the treshhold of the home, glowering up at you with dark, beady eyes. "What do you want!"
If a PC succeeds at a DC 20 Diplomacy check, Veld agrees to trade information, supplies, and scrolls.
"Hmm… you're a smooth talker child, but your silver tongue won't save you in here. There's things more ancient than gods in these woods. You want help. I can help… I have knowledge, and I have supplies – but don't think I'll save you! Don't bring your refugees here, or the deal is off. Now… lets talk trade, or else be gone with you."
She can offer details about areas the PCs haven’t visited yet, warn them of dangerous locations, and point floundering PCs back on track. She offers 1 Provision Point worth of food in exchange for a few hours of service chopping wood and the like—tasks exhausting enough to deal 1d6 points of nonlethal damage.
She has a total of 5 Provision Points in supplies. PCs seeking spellcasting services or scrolls, must barter an equal amount of goods or hard coin. Her spellbook contains all 0-, 1st-, and 2nd-level wizard spells from the Core Rulebook except those of the illusion and necromancy schools.
If the PCs establish a friendly relationship with Veld, award them XP as if they had defeated her in combat.
Veld: 150 xp each