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Its late morning when you leave - one of the villagers pushing a reed basket of cooked catfish into Jaru's hands just before he mounts up and your journey back to Lepidstadt is tiring but without incident or event. However you find Gustav Keppel waiting for you at the livery stables, fairly hopping from foot to foot.
Tha...than... thank Pharasma you are b... b... back! I n... need you to do an... an... another interview and quickly! First wh... wha... what did you find?
Lazne is about the same as you left him an hour or so ago and the small village such as it is has come to life with a few people, all dirty and grey complexioned as Lazne is himself sitting outside their huts or fishing, washing clothes in the water and the like. A few children move along the walkways between the huts.
Dint get et by 'gators then? Hows' th boneyard? We's doen us ut' no more.
The 'face' has no magical residue.
In short order both boat and its attached bag is pulled ashore.
The sack is very large (big enough to hold a Medium-sized humanoid in fact) and has blood stains soaked into its fabric. The sack holds some rope, a gag, a rusted lantern, a trio of heavy knives, and a rusted shovel.
Jaru Toth wrote:
I'm not getting the set up. do we have to go into the water to untie the boat? Is the nest under the willow?
Elidal could re-enter the boat with you guys holding it so it doesn't drift away, cut the rope and then exit the boat with you pulling it up the shore... I am happy for this to work without momma gator attacking. I reward smart play and combat is always best avoided
Simeon Plavini wrote:
The gory relic has been prepared in some way, else it would have rotted away. The inside of the skin in not a flensed unprepared mess. It is clear that this was designed to be worn as a mask over someone elses features, though how they'd get the mouth and eyes to move is anyones guess.
The contents of the vial, when opened smell vaguely of carrots. It seems to be some sort of alchemical distillation rather than a potion.
The module as written had a damn manticore. I am not opposed to adding such a creature - it would have been an epic battle but it made little sense, even as written (there is some additional text), because Morast would have been attacked or seen the damn think even if it was a mile away (not that far in real terms)
Elidal knows that there is something on the end of that rope from the weight of it when she started to pull it up.
Off to the side Jaru can see a clutch of baby crocodiles near a wild overhanging tangle of tree branches lying on the bank and weeds. Jaru recognises the rough structure as a possible nesting site.
While searching the southern end of the boneyard come upon the remains of an old camp. Around a small firepit are a waterskin (still half full of wine), the very much aged remnants of some trail rations, and a curious glass vial. The bottom of the vial contains the dried remains of a green substance that smells vaguely of carrots.
Elidal also finds a coracle, a small boat, hidden in the trees and brush along the southwest shore of the island - Dried blood can be noticed in the bottom of the boat. The coracle contains an oar, a moldy leather travel bag with a damp artisan’s outfit (a shirt, breeches, shoes, and a cloth apron) inside, and a vile object—what appears to be a detached human face.
In addition, a length of rope stretches from the boat into the waters below.
Six graves in the boneyard that appear to have been tampered with, sagging into the ground as though they had collapsed from below, and leaving wide depressions in the muddy earth.
The fetishes are a local custom, each a crude depiction of the person that is buried. There are wooden markers with names afixed near the graves. There appears to be common names (no family names) in use here but that is expected in a small community.
I had some deep concerns about how the module wanted to execute things and the DC's required. While it took a few days more I am hoping that Nalun feels he got some good value from using his initiative (and his great roll) and that everyone had some fun with it.
The next part of the module is also undergoing some modifications because the module as written does not make a great deal of sense.
The boat is easily located and you make your journey through the swampy waterways until you come upon a low, wooded isle. You can see some 40 graves, each marked with a simple wooden fetish man, lie on the island. The old village boneyard lies about a mile north of Morast.
You are about to deboard the boat when there is a swish of water near you and you can see large lizard like creature swim by the end of the watercraft to disappear again into the murky water.
Lazne turns to and Simeon.
Theys weren't missin' now - beast just kilt' them - shook 'em like ragdolls an' that were that. They were ded. We buried 'em up at th' boneyard... as fer which shoulder, t'were a year ago but I'm asayin it were th' left un. Yer kin see their names up'n th' grave markers if'n yer go over t' th' boneyard.
He looks at Jaru.
Yer welcome t' look over th' boneyard priest but none said we 'ad to give yer a bed
Its a critter o' pure evil - no one sent it, save it be th' devils of hell
He motions that Nalun is to put the leaves in his mouth.
Be faster ifn' I wus to tell ya straigh' - I'm Lazne.
Lazne claims that at first the Beast only took lone villagers who were outside at night, but soon became bolder and began to attack houses. These attacks only ended when Lazne organized the villagers and set a trap for the Beast. He recalls that night well. The villagers were lying in wait for the Beast, who attacked just after nightfall. Armed with torches, the locals attacked and wounded the creature—a huge, hulking brute about 7 feet tall. The Beast took to the water, but the swampers gave chase in their boats, pursuing it to the village boneyard, where it was attacked by a blood caiman. Lazne grins as he recalls how the Beast yelled oaths and curses that even the worst whore in Lepidstadt would blush to say as the gator attacked it, and describes the deep bite wound the gator made on the Beast’s shoulder as it dragged the Beast under the water. Although the Beast’s blood tainted the villagers’ burial ground, forcing them to abandon it and build another, the swampers thought it a small price to pay for the thing’s death. Hearing that the Beast actually survived was all that Lazne needed to tell his story to the authorities, and he’s looking forward to seeing it burn.
On reaching the town you can see Morast is a miserable collection of 20 or so wattle-and-daub hovels built on stilts above the swamp and connected by soggy wooden boardwalks.
A middle aged man sits on a creaking rocking chair chewing on something.
Y'all furriners? Wat y'all doin' ere? We be 'avin' nort t'do wit' taxes now, he says before spitting some sort of foul juice of the edge of his porch.
Jaru, for the moment cross off 250gp of funds
The Livery stable is active early in the evening when you arrive. The stable master seems skeptical about a night time ride but is able to procure you five horses that don't look like they are about to die but are far from being the race horses they may have been 10 years ago. The fee was set to be higher for danger rates but given that you were renting 5 horses, a very considerable sum in one transaction, the base rate was agreed to.
You set off into the dark night, horses moving at a steady walk and occassional canter - you'd not want to gallop unless your lives depended on it.
In the distance you can hear the mournful bay of a lone wolf that makes the horses skittish but nothing more troubles your journey. The horses need some rest around two in the morning and you stop for a cautious rest, noting that the terrain is changing and becoming marshy.
Simeon and Nalun remember now that Morast is on the edge of a swamp and its people (along with others of similar residence) are called 'Swampers' - they are an insular and clannish lot, having their own customs and mannerisms being isolated from much of Ustalav.
The horses rested but its riders weary you see houses, shacks more than anything else, on the edge of a swamp rise out of the early morning mist - the sun is well up but still with considerable time until noon.
What, no riding through the Ustalav night?
One of my fondest memories is a persistent world for NWN computer game called "Prisoners of the mist" that was Ravenloft. Night time was the time the GMs flexed their creative muscle and also had night time auto spawns of all sorts of "fun" encounters.
If you guys are into persistent world play and have Neverwinter Nights I cant recommend it enough.
Simeon Plavini wrote:
I ne... nev... never considered t...th... that but get a rec... reciept and I see wh... what I can do. I take it... you wa... wan... want to leave before first light th... then?
I..It... may be... use...useful for you to have h... h... horses otherwise you may n... n... not make it that quickly. You can find a l... l... livery stable near here. Deposit may be a b... b... bit steep b... but better to have st... ste... steeds than not
The advise isn't bad - horses will make the journey less demanding on you. Typical fee for an older horse is around 50 gold with most of it (90%) returned when the horse is. Better horses may cost you 75 gold or even 100 gold but they may require a more experienced rider.
After some work with Kendra's butter knives (and a few broken knives) you are able to open it.
Unfortunately the heat of the fire was enough to char most of the papers beyond recognition. Perhaps a linguistics check? The papers are beyond any magic to restore.
DC 20 Linguistics check:
Your effort is enough to decipher the words “Vorkstag and Grine’s Chymic Works,” which appear multiple times in the documents.