A Small Sandbox in the Fens, circa Anno Domini 1638 v.0.78

A Small Sandbox in the Fens, Anno Domini 1638

Table of Contents Introduction Regional Description The Sandbox - Hex Details - Littleport - Sandys Manor & Roman Ruin Factions Themes to Pursue Regionally Appropriate Enemies Tables Credits & Resources


This small setting is adapted from "Four Tower Bridge" by Niklas Wistedt and "England Upturn'd" by Barry Blatt. It owes its inspiration and framework to these sources, integrating Blatt's ideas about mashing up Roman and Norse mythology into a 17th-century Fens setting with Wistedt's smaller region and smaller-town-at-a-river-crossing concept. It uses Old School Essentials' adaptation of B/X rules and Carcass Crawler 01's firearms rules.

This is not a historically precise work. It's a patina of English history applied around a gritty Old School Essentials setting. Historical resources are listed in the credits section for further study. This document will be more helpful after you've read some of them. Terrible things happened to real people during the English Civil War and Early Modern period, please do your players the service of discussing frankly and honestly which of those things are OK and which are not at your table.

Regional Description

Littleport and adjacent Sandys Manor are located in the marshes and fens of eastern England in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire is ancient. The region bore witness to Iron Age tribes, the Romans, the worst of the Vikings, and the darkest parts of the Middle Ages. During the setting’s time period, Littleport and its surroundings have approximately 550 residents. Many people uncritically believed in dark magic and ghosts; many did not. Many thought it best not to wander alone at night for reasons as practical as they were superstitious. It would be exceptionally dangerous for a magic user to operate overtly in this setting.

The mid-1600s are a transformative time in the Fens, with wealthy landowners seizing and enclosing land from commoners under dubious legal authority. Tension is building between Royalists and Parliamentarians. Sandys Manor is the recently acquired home of Baronet Miles Sandys, a projector and member of parliament committed to draining the fens. His manor and local holdings contain the area's powder magazine, a lucrative clay pit, and ironworks. Tensions between Sandys and commoners have led to violence and mild riots recently.

The Sandbox


![[Fens_Map.jpg]] Map created by Rob Matthews.

Hex Details

  • 0101 - Witch's Hut: A witch's hut infested by the demon Yaboknosis following a ritual gone wrong. A cleric and 1d6 witch hunters (Veteran) wander the area.

  • 0102 - Standing Stone (Partially Submerged): An ancient, partially submerged standing stone surrounded by angry sentient peat moss and animated reeds. Locals and animals steer clear as people are known to go missing here. A Viking hoard is buried here next to the stone.

  • 0104 - Windmill Pump: A windmill used for pumping water from the drained north side of the road to the southern fen. Destroying this would eventually flood commons north of the causeway.

  • 0201 - Sunken Henge: Remnants of a submerged ancient henge. Green Men traffic their magic here on moonless fortnights, eclipses, and other major astronomical events, though the locals understand them to be a coven.

  • 0202 - Five Barrows: A series of burial mounds with hidden secrets and treasure from the Danelaw. Danish dead are found here, they are awake. The largest mound contains a ship that may row into dreams. The smallest mound is infested with 1d12 utterly furious Valkyries, whom Loki entrapped cruelly some time ago as a sideline to a practical joke.

  • 0301 - Hotpond (Crashed Spaceship): A pond that never freezes. The pond is a crashed spaceship's impact crater. The vessel's reactor and basic systems emit heat that prevents the pond from freezing. A military logistics drone, the vessel is awash in extraordinary technology and valuable base metals. An android of dubious intentions is aboard.

  • 0304 - Littleport: The region’s main village with various amenities and characters. See detailed description.

  • 0401 - Watermen's Camp: A semi-permanent camp for watermen who navigate the Ouse. Ferry across the Ouse available in daylight. Logistical base for Proto-levelers and the Fen Tiger.

  • 0402 - Clay Scrape & Horse Gin: A clay extraction site with a horse gin to pump out water. A Sandys enterprise. A Huguenot service is often found occurring on site.

  • 0403 - Standing Stone (Partially Submerged): Another ancient standing stone, accessible to passers by on the adjacent road, vexed by defacement and graffiti of all kinds. The hodgepodge of runes, Latin, and English crudity causes its magic to go awry. Loitering near it may cause better or worse luck or meet something of substance in a dream.

  • 0404 - Sandys Ironworks: The ironworks operated by Sandys Manor. Glacial erratics to the northwest are rich with iron nodules. Sentient peat moss resents this site. A new dyke and road runs west from this hex into the peat bog.

  • 0503 - Sandys Manor: The fortified manor house of Baronet Miles Sandys. See detailed description.

  • 0504 - Hidden Cache: An oblong erratic’s overhang conceals thick reeds and moss, believed to be a hideout of the Fen Tiger or a smuggler's stash.

  • 0602 - Gallows Rock: A foreboding rock used for executions since Iron Age times. This place is particularly close to death in all forms.

  • 0603 - Roman Villa Ruins: The ruins of a large Roman estate, with frescoes and buried secrets. In Roman times, the villa was the site of a death cult dedicated to the Parcae. Requires excavation to access. See detailed description.

  • 0701 - John Roycamp's Inn: A sturdy coaching inn surrounded by a high wall. The Parcae (the Fates) are present, investigating the sunken stones, to which they're rather attached. Roycamp owns a printing press and reprints many periodicals in the area. The Roycamp Family possesses longstanding arrangements with the Green Men of the Fens. A secret room for consultation with them is hidden in his basement.

  • 0702 - Monastery Ruins: Ruins of a monastery, sacked after the dissolution, with potential for exploration in the undercroft. A Roman-era vampire and several Viking thralls sleep here during the day. Appropriate ecclesiastical treasure is buried here. The Green Men and vampire are aware of each other.

  • 0705 - Fully Submerged Standing Stone: A submerged ancient standing stone. Only the top is visible. Latin graffiti on this Iron Age stone is well preserved.


Littleport's bridge provides safe passage over the River Ouse for travelers on the remnants of the Roman Fen Causeway running from Cambridge and Ely to the Wash. Rebuilt for military purposes during the reign of Henry VIII, the fortification now serves as a toll booth. Cottages constructed around it formed a hamlet and eventually a small village. The area is backwater England and, in some places, resembles wilderness, though people are never far.

Many travelers, officials, and merchants cross the River Ouse at Littleport, taking advantage of the town’s and inn's lodgings and hospitality. The buildings and townspeople resemble a small 17th-century English village. The inn is run by a portly, gossipy publican and his savvy spouse. There is a village tailor, farrier, cooper, and chandler. A few tenant farmers work in the nearby soggy fields. St. George's, a well-kept small stone church with a leaning steeple, overlooks the village.

Peated Eel Inn

A two-story inn with crooked timbers and a thatched roof. Inside, the fireplace oozes black smoke, and the boards creak. Lionel and Prudence run the inn, offering flavorful eel pies and lodging.

Plot Hooks:

  • Prudence is waiting on flour from an overdue merchant. The inn has two days' food supply on hand.
  • Lionel seeks a legendary eel for his pies. He doesn’t realize that he’s looking for a small Wyrm (Basilisk)
  • A drunken guest witnessed something strange late at night. No one believes them.

Farrier & Stables

Hayford looks after horses and wagon teams, maintaining a few draft horses for rent.

Plot Hooks:

  • Hayford's favorite draft horse has been stolen.
  • A merchant needs transport and protection for valuable cargo bound for Sandys Manor.
  • Strange sounds are heard from the stables at night.

Village Well

Provides fresh water, subsidized by bridge tolls.

Plot Hooks:

  • The well water has become fouled; locals blame projectors and Sandys.
  • Strange runes are found carved on the well's inner wall.
  • A child's treasured doll has fallen into the well and subsequently seen elsewhere at night.

Agnes's General Store, Chandlery, and Tailor

Agnes, widowed by the war in Bavaria, sells supplies with her sons Thomas and William. The family occasionally conceals Catholic priests from the Church of England.

Plot Hooks:

  • Resolve a high-interest debt owed to Sir Sandys.
  • Puritans, suspecting Agnes's sympathies are preaching against the store.
  • Investigate strange noises from the cellar.


Edmund Roper, the local cooper, makes and repairs barrels. Roper is a fire-breathing puritan and sees a Jesuit conspiracy around every corner. He has a sideline in creating reed instruments, though as a devout puritan, he would never play music.

Plot Hooks:

  • Discover who contaminated barrels bound for John Roycamp's Inn.
  • Gather special wood for woodwinds from around Hotpond.
  • Someone smashed Roper’s new barrels and threw them into the river.

Fisherman's Shack

Jonah, a keen fisherman, lives in a humble shack by the river. He is a secret Jesuit priest and French agent monitoring the region’s Huguenots.

Plot Hooks:

  • Thieves are after an antique brooch Jonah claims he fished up. It’s actually a powerful relic.
  • A ghostly but affable sentient catfish haunts Jonah’s shack.
  • Someone saw Jonah taking a strange package up the river at night.

St. George's Church

This humble church has had obvious additions over the centuries. Father Alec, a retired Cambridge Don, preaches here.

Plot Hooks:

  • Cambridge-types occasionally visit. Who are they and what is their dangerous talk?
  • Explore a hidden undercroft entrance. An angry 14th-century monk is immured here, and also, alive.
  • Why are graves being opened on moonless nights? What is causing missing bodies?

The Bridge & Soldier's Quarters

The bridge's midpoint tower is made of timber and stone, with sturdy gates barring passage at night. 2+1d6 older soldiers (Veteran) are generally present. A toll is charged to strangers but not locals. Mallory Barker, a retired sergeant major, runs the operation. The legitimacy of all this is customary but dubious. Sandys often takes issue with Barker.

The King's Road

A well-maintained, formerly Roman, raised road providing safer passage through the Fens between Cambridge and the Wash.

Sandys Manor

Sandys Manor House

Baronet Miles Sandys's home, a two-and-a-half-story fortified house with gardens and an orchard. It is as defensible as it is ready to host elegant gatherings and business meetings. A 12-foot stone wall and is relatively fire resistant. The manor and surrounds are patrolled by Sandys's local captain and 14 guards. The manor is constantly guarded and staffed, though quieter at night.

Plot Hooks:

  • Baronet Sandys is hosting tours and a feast for projectors reviewing their investments’ progress.
  • Rumors of a secret passage to the nearby Roman ruins abound.
  • Whispers of heretical involvement with the Society of Hermetic Wisdom & Vivimancy.

Manorial Surrounds Description

The estate of Baronet Miles Sandys, a testament to 17th-century architecture and social hierarchy. Houses excavators and their families. The village has a communal well, the Sandys family chapel, manorial facilities, a powder magazine, and a watermill.

The manor’s Huguenot community grows rapidly. Following Pomfret and LeCourt, Huguenots moved to the manor and surrounds in quantity and conduct a profitable textile manufacturing business, small ironworks, clay scrape and apply skills learned in Holland to drainage projects.

Plot Hooks:

  • A spherical metallic-obsidian rock is found in the clay pits.
  • Edwina, an elderly Huguenot seamstress, is missing and foul play by the Society is suspected. Edwina has simply gone to Cambridge to embroider dons' robes without much notice.
  • A series of strange lights and sounds at night linked to newcomers from the Society.
  • The powder magazine inventory is light.

    People of the Estate

  • Baronet Miles Sandys: A wealthy, sharp-minded noble involved with the Society of Hermetic Wisdom & Vivimancy. A dabbler in the occult.

  • Lady Eleanor Sandys: The true power behind Sandys Manor with a keen interest in the occult. An exceptional witch.
  • Captain Henri Lecourt: Responsible for the manor's safety, wary of the Society. Huguenot. Extremely French.
  • Herveau de Pomfret: The manor’s accountant and butler. Huguenot, principally responsible for recruiting a number of Huguenots from the Netherlands to work in fen improvement projects.
  • Cornelius Jansorius: A Dutch engineer and projector. Jansorius is responsible for planning drainage in the areas near Sandys Manor. He is a target of the Fen Tiger and requires protection to work.

Manor Events:

  1. A grand feast in honor of the Sandys legacy.
  2. A dispute between Huguenot clay-diggers and Baronet Miles.
  3. Lady Eleanor hosts a séance in secret.
  4. A local bard tells tales of Roman heroes.
  5. A mysterious package arrives from London.
  6. A suspicious fire breaks out in a storehouse.
  7. Lady Eleanor urgently seeks chalk and salt, in quantity.
  8. Captain Henri organizes a snap muster and magazine inspection; a bell tolls, and 2d12 soldiers appear armed at the manor gate within ten minutes.
  9. A delegation from the king inspects Fen drainage progress. They're staying at the manor.
  10. Plague is rife in Cambridge and may have traveled to the manor with recent guests.
  11. Dispute over bridge tolls with the veterans on the bridge.
  12. 1d6 Huguenot families arrive. #### Roman Manor

Roman Ruin: Nearby Sandys Manor are the remnants of an extraordinary Roman villa, partially buried and believed to be haunted. Claudius Lindimus, a wealthy salt merchant, built the site. Lindimus secretly led a death cult dedicated to the Parcae. Lady Sandys and the Society are aware of this, but others are not.

Plot Hooks:

  • Society of Hermetic Wisdom & Vivimancy conducts ineffectual rituals.
  • A ghostly Roman woman weeping by the ruins.
  • Baronet Sandys desires a map of the tunnels and basements beneath the ruins.


  • Church of England: Led by Father Alec, a firm Laudian who ornaments the church excessively.
  • Local Puritans: Led by Edmund Roper, gaining support among commoners. Roper preaches at a simple table and despises Laudians. Tensions between all parties and the Huguenots abound.
  • Projectors and Enclosure: Baronet Miles Sandys encloses lands, displacing tenants. Sandys and associates also drain Fens. This is a source of significant and not-infrequently violent confrontation with commoners.
  • Commoners: Resent Sandys's enclosures and drainage, occasionally violently resisting them. Admire and enable the Fen Tiger outlaw.
  • Catholic Loyalists: Secretly practice old Catholic rites, orchestrated by Jonah, a secret Jesuit.
  • Fen Tiger and His Band: Outlaw group raiding nobles, seen as folk heroes. Proto-Levellers, violent and uncompromising.
  • Society of Hermetic Wisdom & Vivimancy: Study esoteric texts and conduct arcane experiments. Lady Sandys manipulates this group. London and Cambridge types. Capable but dabbling, perhaps more dangerous through incompetence than malice.

Themes to Pursue

  • Royal Authority: Weak and distant in this remote region. People settle things without justices of the peace or constables.
  • Religious Turmoil: Divisions between Anglicans, Puritans, Huguenots, and Catholics.
  • Parliamentary Sympathizers: Division of loyalties before the English Civil Wars.
  • Fen Tiger: Outlaw hero raiding the wealthy. A harbinger of the Leveller movement.
  • Enclosures and Projectors: Land seizures displacing commoners' traditional rights and ways of life.
  • Borderlands Vibes: Smuggling, lawlessness, and dubious characters. French infiltration.
  • Superstition: Folk beliefs, hedge magic, and fears of witchcraft. Not unwarranted.
  • Old Gods and Green Men: Norse and Roman mythical creatures and ghosts. Green Men in the swamps. Why can Roycamp treat with them?

Regional Enemies in the Fenlands

  • Ghostly Lights: Will-o'-the-wisps leading travelers astray.
  • Black Shuck: Sinister spectral hounds.
  • Bog Bodies: Preserved cadavers cursing those who disturb them.
  • Society Members: Rituals and occult practices.
  • Boggarts: Mischief-making sprites.
  • Barrow Wights and Draugr: Restless spirits guarding buried treasures.
  • Elves (Green Men): Ethereal beings displeased with drainage operations.
  • Sentient Peat Moss - The fen is alive, and it's hungry.
  • Iron Age, Roman, and Viking Spirits: Leftover beings from long ago.

Encounter and Plot Hook Tables

Off Road Encounters Table

  1. Will-o-wisp
  2. Giant frog
  3. Devil snake
  4. Angry Peat Moss
  5. Marsh troll
  6. Lost merchant/pilgrim
  7. Pixies
  8. 1d10 Sandys Household Soldiers
  9. Society Member (NPC MU + Party)
  10. 1d6 Hunters or Fishermen
  11. Abandoned cart
  12. Corpse with thematic hook
  13. Lost and/or stranded horse with tack but without a rider.
  14. Hallucinogenic mist
  15. Green Men (Elf Party) or Society (ritual sacrifice) (OSE High-Level MU Party)
  16. Supernatural omen (Ball lightning, twin comet, etc.)
  17. Ghostly light
  18. Black dog
  19. Fen Tiger & Band
  20. Small Barrow

Common and Road Encounters

  1. John Roycamp returning to his inn with supplies.
  2. Merchant cart lost in a sudden fog, seeking directions or supplies.
  3. A lone highwayman demands a "road toll" at a makeshift roadblock or culvert. Highwayman is Loki, who is bored…
  4. Itinerant Puritan preacher rails against the evils of fen enclosures.
  5. Royalist spy disguised as a beggar, seeking information.
  6. 2d4 wolves. (Wolf)
  7. 1d4 smugglers unloading illicit goods from a hidden boat or cart. (Brigand)
  8. Hidden Catholic mass held in a secluded copse of trees.
  9. 3d6 angry people looking for projectors or their engineers.
  10. Dutch engineers and 1d6 guards surveying the land, wary of locals. (Veteran)
  11. 2d20 Panicked cattle, spooked by something on the common stampede.
  12. Exhausted peat diggers with a strangely preserved body. (Zombie)
  13. Dense fog obscures landmarks and paths (Save vs. spell or displace players to a random adjacent hex).
  14. 1d6 boar driven from its territory, charging at intruders. (Boar)
  15. Plague cart rolls by.
  16. A band of 1d3 poachers cornered by 1d6 gamekeepers, seeking a distraction. (Bandits)
  17. Sounds of a woman singing far off. If players pursue they find a trail of lifelike statues ending at a stunning cloaked woman surrounded by scores of petty snakes (Medusa).
  18. Eerie lights dance over the marsh, leading to an ominous abandoned cottage (Spectre).
  19. A group of 2d6 Puritans (Normal Human) discussing radical ideas in hushed tones along the road.
  20. The Fen Tiger, a notorious outlaw, and 1d6 compatriots cross into the party's sight. (Bandits)
  21. Unicorn
  22. Enchanting music, save vs. spell (highest group save) or be led into Fens to small basilisk that sings popular tunes.

Tavern Rumors

  1. The Roycamp family has saucy new political work from Cambridge patrons on their printing press. (True)
  2. A cache of Roman treasure lies buried under the old ruin. (True)
  3. The Sandys' tax collector is skimming off the top. (False, the tax collector is an imposter)
  4. A coven meets at the henge every moonless fortnight. (Partially true, the coven are Green Men and they meet at a number of events of importance)
  5. The miller and pump operator is secretly a warlock and he overcharges. (Partially true, not a warlock, does overcharge)
  6. The cobbler's wife is having an affair with Captain LeCourt. (False, this is simple commerce. LeCourt is methodically reequipping his men and wants three pairs of boots for every soldier)
  7. A murderer is hiding at the watermen's camp. (False)
  8. Lady Sandys is not what she seems. (True, she’s a witch of substance and in effective control of the dabbling Society)
  9. There are tunnels beneath Baronet Miles Sandys's manor house. (Partially true, there is a buried Roman sewer on the manor property leading to an open room within the buried Roman Villa)
  10. Strange rituals are happening in the clay pits. (False, these are just Huguenots doing geometry for a pump)
  11. The Cambridge constable's son has turned to devil worship and is hiding somewhere southeast of Littleport. (Partially true, the young man, a dabbler, found himself temporarily possessed by Yaboknosis and is now on the run from witch hunters in the sandbox's NW)
  12. The alms box was stolen from St. George's church. (True, it was one of Agnes’s sons looking for funds to pay off Sandys)
  13. A diseased boar is terrorizing farmers in the drained common. (Partially true, it’s a Cockatrice)
  14. A fugitive has escaped Sandys estate. (True, a member of the Fen Tiger’s band is on the run)
  15. Ominous black dogs have been sighted. (True, play these as Warp Beasts or Hellhounds)
  16. The area’s largest barrow contains a boat that can sail into dreams. (True, but good luck figuring out how it works, if they do, send them to Zyan or Sag River Extreme Cold Research Facility (in reverse)
  17. A merchant is selling fresh out-of-season fruits and exquisite Parmesan. (True, the Parmesan Man has a greenhouse and dairy beyond space and time)
  18. Hotpond steamed persistently, even in the coldest years. (True, it remained unfrozen through the entire Grindlewald Fluctuation)
  19. There’s a buried standing stone to the southeast. Three women at John Roycamp’s Inn are willing to pay for excavators. (Partially true, the women are the Parcae)
  20. Cambridge scholars require a strange object transported to Cambridge from the clay pits. They'll pay handsomely. (True, it's the obsidian sphere)


Seasonal Weather Table

Weather has a one-in-four chance of changing daily.

  • Spring:

    • 1-3: Mild and sunny, 10°C (50°F)
    • 4-5: Overcast
    • 6: Heavy rain, 6°C (43°F)
    • 7: Foggy mornings
    • 8: Occasional wind gusts, 10°C (50°F)
    • 9-10: Cool and cloudy, 7°C (45°F)
    • Summer:

    • 1-3: Warm and sunny, 20°C (68°F)

    • 4: Overcast
    • 5: Thunderstorm, 19°C (66°F)
    • 6: Mild with a light breeze, 18°C (64°F)
    • 7: Hot and sunny, 25°C (77°F)
    • 8-10: Warm with clouds, 21°C (70°F)
    • Autumn:

    • 1-2: Mild and sunny, 15°C (59°F)

    • 3-4: Overcast
    • 5: Heavy rain and wind, 11°C (52°F)
    • 6: Foggy mornings
    • 7: Windy with scattered leaves, 14°C (57°F)
    • 8-10: Cool and cloudy, 10°C (50°F)
    • Winter:

    • 1: Cold and clear, 3°C (37°F)

    • 2-3: Overcast
    • 4: Heavy snowfall, -2°C (28°F)
    • 5: Foggy mornings
    • 6: Windy with snow, 2°C (36°F)
    • 7: Frosty morning, -1°C (30°F)
    • 8-10: Cold with occasional sun, 4°C (39°F)

Other Useful Tables for Undescribed Hexes and Life

Credits and Resources

Tabletop Inspirations and Resources

Helpful Books

Historical Resources - Maps, Region & Miscellanea