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I GM'd my group's first RotRL session today. One of my players maintained a journal, and she allowed me to post it.
Cast of Characters:
Elsbeth Veneficus, spoiled female half-elf sorcerer and long time Sandpoint resident (and journal keeper).
"Mudder" Fokker Goblinkicker, male dwarven ranger and guide.
Melda, mysterious female elven summoner.
Tordag Skullhammer, dutiful male dwarven cleric of Abadar.
It is the 23rd of Rova, 4707. We have gathered in the town square for the Swallowtail Festival for games, food, and the consecration of the new cathedral.
We tooled around Sandpoint for most of the morning. I introduced Melda to several prominent members of the community and Tordag and Mudder hung out with members of the clergy. Mudder tried to drink the hagfish water, and of course, he was sick. I told him so.
In the afternoon, the town was suddenly besieged by goblins. It was my first ever battle, and I was pleased to discover the glowing orbs I’ve been using to startle the gardeners are actually quite effective as weapons. In our battle, we slew mediocre underling goblins and a war chanter, who appeared to be somehow inspiring the goblins by her song.
Shortly afterward, we heard calls for help from the northern edge of town. We approached and found some garish fop named Aldern Foxglove cowering behind some crates and a beautiful hunting dog while a group of goblins threatened him. We dispatched the goblins (I’m afraid I wasn’t terribly helpful. I expended my glowing orbs spells earlier. Humph) and the Dandy offered to host us at the Rusty Dragon. I wasn’t terribly impressed with him, but the ‘RD’ does have some of the best food in town…
When we came back in to town, Ameiko Kaijitsu, the proprietress of the ‘RD’ and a local glassmaker’s daughter, offered us a free week of board at the ‘RD’ and a chance to share stories with her. Naturally, I was pleased to take her up on this offer so that I didn’t have to return home to my parents.
Afterward, we saw Belor Hemlock, our sheriff, with a goblin in tow. Tordag speaks goblin (what a guttural, terrible language), so he interrogated the prisoner. He found out that some “stupid longshanks” wanted to do something at the graveyard. We decided the goblin attack must have been a diversion from the happenings at the cemetery.
Sure enough, when we arrived, Mudder found several sets of footprints: six sets of goblin sized and one set of humanoid prints. We saw the prints led to the crypt of Father Tobyn. Inside, two skeletons were rustling about. The two dwarves quickly disposed of the skeletons, and inside the crypt we found a used Robe of Bones (probably where the skeletons came from) and the remains of Father Tobyn were gone.
After begging our discretion, the sheriff sent us back to the Rusty Dragon to rest for the evening. When we arrived, we were hailed as heroes by the townsfolk. I could get used to this.
Unfortunately, the garish, cowardly fop was there in addition to the townsfolk. If he’s not gay, I suppose he would be acceptable marriage material – after all, he did give the party 50 gold. He also has attendants. I know just what to do with attendants. Unfortunately, he is such a driveling bore in conversation I may have to kill myself before he has a chance to appropriately woo me with fine clothing and jewels. And liquor. A lot more liquor.
Mr. Foxglove invited our party to go on a hunting expedition tomorrow. Both dwarves are thrilled to go, naturally. They really are an uncivilized race. The elf, however, also appears to want to go on this expedition. She seems to like the idea of “adventure”. Ugh. I suppose I should go as well. At least I’ll get a chance to see how Foxglove uses his attendants.
On an additional note, I’ve learned that both the elf and one of the dwarves can also cast spells. Interesting. The elf can actually bring creatures to fight for her. She may be a powerful ally while I am out trying to learn about “humility”.
If I continue on with these dwarves, and the pitiful Mr. Foxglove, I am afraid all I may learn is humiliation.
24 Rova 4707
We awoke early this morning to go on the boar hunt.
After an hour’s worth of conversation with Foxglove, I’m pretty sure I found the bore.
It turns out that Mudder has some remarkable tracking skills. He managed to track down a boar shortly after our trek into the Tickwoods.
Foxglove, as is to be expected, was useless on the hunt. He kept making ridiculous proclamations about how each weak shot was in my honor. After Tordag, Mudder, and Melda did some substantial damage to the poor animal, I finally stepped in and killed the beast with my spear.
I did not declare my shot in his honor. Unbelievably, the simpering fool didn’t appear to be emasculated at all by the experience. In fact, it seems to have further endeared me to him. Perhaps I can get him to buy me a nice fur cloak as proof of his affections.
When we arrived back at the tavern, Amiko began preparations on the boar, and our party did its best to get Foxglove stinking drunk. Tordag was especially effective in these efforts. Every time he congratulated Foxglove on his ability to “sink his spear deeply”, he gave Foxglove a drink.
I think there may have been some innuendo at play here since Mr. Foxglove was more of a distraction than a threat to the boar.
Before we celebrated the hunt with an amazing dinner, Ameiko’s father, Lonjiku Kaijitsu, came storming in and chewed us out. He said it was our fault that there was trouble in the town, and we should have let the town guard do its job. Emboldened by drink, I suggested to him the town guard was at fault because they were not doing their jobs, to which he replied I should shut my poor mouth.
Just as I was about to shoot him with a glowing orb, Ameiko came out of the kitchen and she confronted her father. At the end of their argument, Ameiko banished her father from her tavern, and he disowned her.
The rest of the evening was spent in celebration, and thankfully, Foxglove remained passed out on the table for the remainder of the evening.
It’s probably for the best. All of the gold in the world can’t make that man interesting.
25 Rova 4707
Upon leaving my room, I discovered a bouquet of flowers from Foxglove. He had to depart early. He must have had a splitting headache. :-)
Somehow during the day, Mudder got himself into trouble with Vin Vendor. What ever happened, it affects all of our abilities to shop anywhere in town. Humph. Stupid “Shameless”. Anybody who is anybody knows she’s been whoring around while her sister is gallivanting around with some other man. Unfortunately, none of those people are vendors.
Same townswoman, I remember having seen her before, but I don’t remember her name, approached us about her baby having been attacked. Apparently, she and her husband found bite marks on the baby, and they found a goblin in his bedroom. She left the house with the kids, but we went to go check out the situation with the goblin. When we got there, we found the goblin in the closet and the husband and dog dead. We killed the goblin, cleaned up the best we could, and took the body to the temple. Father Zantus agreed to house the widow and her children at the temple.
We went back to bed, exhausted.
26 Rova 4707
This morning, Shalelu Andosana arrived in town. She’s back earlier than normal – she’s often out for a couple of months and comes back in to catch up and do some shopping. This time, she went directly to see Sheriff Hemlock.
Shortly afterward, the sheriff arrived to ask us to come meet with him at the town hall. We found out from Shalelu that the goblin attack is not isolated to Sandpoint; they’ve been attacking all up and down the coast.
She tells us that all five of the area goblin tribes seem to be working together; this is not good. Big plans mean big bosses.
The sheriff will travel to Magnamar to ask for reinforcements to the town guard. In his absence, he’s asked us to take care of protecting the town. We agreed, and I quietly question everyone’s reasons for doing so. Tordag seems like the do-good type; he would jump to the rescue whenever he had the opportunity. I’m unsure about Mudder. Perhaps he sees Tordag as some sort of leader? He was, after all, merely a guide to Tordag on his way here. I am completely mystified by Melda’s compliance in this arrangement. I can’t figure out her angle. She bears watching. As for me, this seems like a perfect way to show my parents that I really don’t need their support.
Humility. Bah. Notoriety seems to be the best medicine for me!
Later that evening, we met for dinner with Shalelu at the ‘RD’. She told us about the five major goblin tribes, their leaders and some interesting tidbits of information about them. Goblins hate horses and dogs, they love to sing, they find inappropriate places to hide (like ovens) because they’re sneaky, they’re raiding, they have voracious appetites, and they live fire. They’re not very intelligent; hence, they can be very dangerous. They also believe writing steals their soul. Morons.
The five tribes live all around Sandpoint. The Birdcrunchers live southeast of Sandpoint and seem to be the least aggressive of the tribes. The Lick-Toads live in a marsh south of town and are very good swimmers. The Seven Tooth Tribe call the Shankwoods their home and they raid Sandpoint’s garbage dump. The Mosswood tribe is the largest; they are located to the east. Thistletop is the name of the group that owns the most coveted piece of property, their very own island that is hailed by all goblins as the best place to live.
After our dinner with Shalelu, we went to go check out the landfill, but it was much too dark for me to see. We decided to go back to the inn for the night.
26 Rova 4707
We awakened to no breakfast. This is very unusual. The sous chef told us Amiko has gone missing. When she went to Ameiko’s room, she found Ameiko’s bed still made. Bethana, the sous chef, found a note written in Mankai. Bethana translated it into common. It was a letter from Ameiko’s brother, a half-elf (scandal!). Clearly, Lonjiku wasn’t his father. Gossip tells us that Ameiko’s mother never revealed whom was the father. Tsuto was disowned from the family. When Ameiko found out about him, she struck up a relationship with him. They got along well for a while but had a falling out. Tsuto believed Lonjiku pushed their mother off of a cliff.
When Bethana translated the note, she discovered that Tsuto believed that Lonjiku may have had something to do with the goblin attacks. He asked Amiko to meet him at the glassworks. Apparently, she did, and she hasn’t returned.
We left immediately for the glassworks. The doors were locked and the window shades drawn – unusual for this business. Normally at least the showroom is open. Inside, we heard goblins at work. When we broke through the door, the sounds stopped. They knew we had arrived.
We made our way room by room through the glassworks searching for Ameiko. What we found in the first room was appalling. Lonjiku’s body had been covered in molten glass. His flesh under the glass casing was badly burned. From what we can tell, he was still alive when the class was poured on him. This seems like a calculated move; perhaps it was Tsuto.
In addition to Lonjiku’s body, the eight employees have been killed and are on display here as well, though not as artfully. The goblins appear to have been trying to imitate the murder of Lonjiku, unsuccessfully. Also inside this room we found eight goblins. We made quick work of them and were investigating the surrounding rooms when we heard from the first room where we entered, we had set up a noise trap by which we could hear if someone entered the entryway. It worked.
Tsuto had sneaked in behind us. He, like me, was a half elf, but with a decidedly Asian appearance. Hot. Unfortunately, he is also a bad guy. Too bad Mr. Foxglove-the-Dandy hadn’t been built like Mr. Has-Daddy-Issues. We followed him downstairs and fought him until he yielded.
We successfully tied him up, and upon further exploration, we found Ameiko tied and gagged but thankfully still alive. We treated her wounds and discovered that she did not yet know about her father’s murder. Tordag sat her down to tell her about it.
In my compatriot’s search of the premises, they discovered several items they considered to be of use. I can’t imagine the need to pilfer through someone’s belongings. Grody. They did, however, find some very nice earrings that I agreed to hold on to for the time being.
They look nice.
We also found Tsuto’s journal. It’s a good thing he doesn’t believe writing steals your soul. Of course, he may not have had one to steal. He has been in on the plot for the various attacks on towns on the coast. We plan to cart his nefarious ass down to the jail and get some particularly trustworthy guardsmen to watch him.
We also need to ask some guardsmen to watch this tunnel we’ve discovered under the glassworks building. We plan to come back later to check out where this leads.
Tsuto’s journal mentioned a “Nualia”. I was sure she died in the fire with her father.
Think of the Elsbeth character as a spoiled, know-it-all teenager. So, when she saw Foxglove the first time, she was initially interested. But, from the tone of her writing, you can tell how she feels about him now. GENIUS!
Since Elsbeth's player was writing the journal from a mostly first-person perspective, she omitted most of what happened to Mudder when he encountered Shayliss Vinder. He got suckered into the "there's a goblin in my basement" and was trying to stealth around to see things, only to see her charging him! The other players got a kick out of this whole scenario, especially when dad came walking down the stairs. Needless to say, Vin became very verbal with Tordag yelling the things you would expect a father to yell if he walked in such a situation. Tordag's response was something like "well, you raised your daughter..." and just left it at that (ironically, when he rolled the Diplomacy check: EPIC FAIL. It was awesome!). He also rolled poorly to smooth things over with Shayliss, so I'll need to think of a way to have her interact with the group at a later time.
Melda's player was playing her character in a way that she didn't want the world to know that she had an Eidolon, so she never had an opportunity to call it. Though, she was extremely effective with her Summon Monster SLA. She would place them in choke points or flanking positions and was invaluable in preventing much damage from being inflicted upon the party. On the one hand, it might seem that the players "breezed" through each of the encounters. They did take damage, but I don't think they were ever in serious danger of going negative. (Although, I do have to say that the boar, with that ferocity trait, was laying down the ban-hammer. But they pulled through.) I think Melda dropping her SLA was HUGE in protecting the rest of the party.
The fight at the glassworks went well for the party. Once again, the summoner SLA dropped right in the perfect spot. That furnace room is long, but narrow so having that summoned monster dropped right in the middle bottle-necked all the goblins up. One goblin managed to trip Tordag, and then grappled him (a second attempted to grapple but failed) with the intent of dragging him to the fires, but they never made it past the next round. Ultimately, they killed all the goblins. The last goblin, with his dying breath, was able to scream out "THE LONGSHANKS ARE COMING! THE LONGSHANKS ARE COMING!" I had been making periodic Perception rolls for Tsuto throughout the fight, and he FINALLY heard this last round of combat.
Just to back up real quick: the PCs entered the Glassworks through the doors at Area #16. They immediately found the steps leading down, but decided to clear the upper level first. Regarding the door that lead downstairs, I determined that it was a swinging door that opened into the hall with the stairs and that there was no latch. I figured that the workers, carrying stuff in their arms, could just lean against the door and walk through if they needed to take stuff downstairs. This led to a few minutes of RT debate to figure out how to secure that door so they could make sure their rear was covered. Well, I figured that the other side of the door would have a door handle so the workers could open it to come back through. So, the players took a rope, tied it to the door handle and used the rope to pull the door shut and tied it off on the door handle to the exit. They then laid the wheel barrow against the door with the safe on top. The intent, not to hurt or stop someone from coming through, but instead to make noise so they knew someone was coming. When Tsuto heard the warning cry and battle, I figured he wouldn't know that all of his goblin allies had already been killed and he would come up to support. So anyways, the PCs swept through the furnace room and then started moving out the doors opposite from the ones they entered (started investigating Area #1). Tordag and Elsbeth were in the hallway in front of Area #1 and Mudder and Melda were still in Area #17, but getting ready to follow during their next move when they all heard a crashing noise coming from Area #16. So Tordag and Elsbeth moved down the hallway towards #16 while Mudder and Melda moved through Area #17...split party...oh yeah. I was going to mess some stuff up. I figured when Tsuto made the noise, he would hold his ground in #16 to see what came at him - he still had his escape route down the stairs. So Mudder reaches Area #16 first, epicly fails his perception check and doesn't spot Tsuto by a mile and moves right by him. I'm thinking I've got the perfect set-up: split party, they don't see the bad guy, and he's getting an AoO, and I'm going to stun him and cause some serious issues to the group dynamics. I roll a NATURAL 1! *FACEPALM* Well, after a couple of rounds of fighting, they do whittle Tsuto down to 12 HP or so and because it's still above his "run away" threshold, I just have him retreat back down the stairs to be able to quaff a healing potion. Needless to say, he does get cornered and smacked down to 4 hp and surrenders.
While the whole session was awesome, the very moment the group discovered that Nualia could potentially still be alive was a truely a priceless moment for me. Especially considering that they weren't roleplaying their reactions, they had an honest, natural reaction to the news. Tordag's player was reading the journal, and I don't think he really recognized Nualia's name as he was reading it. It was Elsbeth's player who recognized the name. She had this look of shock, her eyes got wide and mouth practically hit the floor and said something like "Oh My God she's still alive?" Awesome.
Unfortunately, due to the players not living conveniently close to one another (my brother and his wife live three hours away) and my inconvenient work schedule, we can only get together once a month, and that is assuming that things work in our favor and something else doesn't pop up to prevent us from getting together. Our next game is tentatively scheduled for November 3rd. Expect the next update shortly after that!
EDIT: spoiler end the GM notes.
Here are some pics from the first session:
Assaulting the glassworks. I've got most of the glassworks covered with post-it notes to hide the unrevealed portions.
This is the revealed map of the Glassworks. Unfortunately, my printer's ink started running out while printing the last five pages.
Definitely good stuff. I like how you have a player report their personal journal, and then you come back with your DMs Notes.
The map for the glass works is fantastic. No doubt that cost some ink.
Thanks for sharing.
@gunslingeraz: yeah, I used the Town Square Flip Mat.
@Mazra: I'll definitely need to be sure to have fresh ink cartridges before I print out the next one. As you can tell, the ink started to wear out when printing the last five pages (15 total pages).
I think for future maps that are large, I will probably cut out the rooms and put them down as the players discover them. As it was, it was kind of a pain to cover the map with sticky notes in a way that didn't give away the layout of the interior, so I had layers and layers of sticky notes. I might also have a box store print them out so my wife doesn't yell at me. ;)
|Landon Winkler Star Voter 2014|
Fun report! Like Mazra, I really enjoyed the journal/notes format.
My group seems to have the opposite opinion of everyone else's regarding Aldern and Tsuto. They love Aldern (I just have to decide if he likes gnomes or guys more) and are terrified of Tsuto (although they haven't had a stand up fight with him yet).
Fun report! Like Mazra, I really enjoyed the journal/notes format.
My group seems to have the opposite opinion of everyone else's regarding Aldern and Tsuto. They love Aldern (I just have to decide if he likes gnomes or guys more) and are terrified of Tsuto (although they haven't had a stand up fight with him yet).
She's been our primary scribe over the last decade whenever we've played. Truth be told, since we are only able to play infrequently, she's been rather invaluable. She decided to go more character-perspective with this adventure (which gives it an interesting flare), but they're always fun to go through and really helpful in getting us back up to speed when it's been 3+ months since we've been able to play.
I think for future maps that are large, I will probably cut out the rooms and put them down as the players discover them.
I used grease pencils on a blank Paizo grid for the Glassworks. So to see the Glassworks to scale printed out with the miniatures was really cool. It looked great. I look forward to more session posting.
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I used the steps in this post. It was actually pretty simple. Once I got to PosteRazor, on page 4, I selected the 100% size setting.
If you have any more questions, let me know!
EDIT: just make sure you have full ink cartridges!
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Note: In the first installment, I accidentally put 26 Rova twice. Obviously, the second one should be 27 Rova, where this journal entry picks up.
Melda, Tordag, and I returned to the surface to get Ameiko back to the Rusty Dragon, Tsuto to the jail, and ourselves over to the mayor to inform her of the nefarious plot. I insisted that she know (and more importantly, know of our role in stopping it).
Mudder remained in the tunnel to check it out and make sure no creepy fellows returned back through. He was ridiculously excited to talk about stonework and dungeons when we met up with him again later. Dwarves are a very strange race. Both Tordag and Mudder keep muttering and chortling about Melda’s and my need for light down here. In my opinion, we shouldn’t trust creatures that can see in the dark.
We adventured down into the tunnel and as we come around a corner, Tordag thought he heard something. The Dwarves proceeded to play some absurd hand game to determine who would go check out the sounds. Apparently, “Boulder, Parchment, Shears” is how Dwarves make big decisions. I wonder if they do that before wedding ceremonies as well. Ugh.
When Mudder, the loser, popped around the corner, he startled some repulsive creature with a terrible cleft palate. None of us had ever seen such a creature before; we still don’t know what it was. All we know is that he fought with his claws and his teeth. We’ll have to ask someone who might know more about it, maybe Brodert Quink. His eccentricities have to be good for something.
Further explorations of the tunnel revealed a statue of a very angry looking woman. Tordag must have done some reading while he was busy living in his giant underground cave, because he recognized her as a Runelord: Alaznist. None of us have a substantial enough grasp on history to remember what Runlords are, other than that they’re antiquated and irrelevant to us today.
Melda recognized a symbol, a seven-pointed star, that the statue carried. Melda confessed to us that she is a summoner, a person who has an eidolon that she calls from another plane to fight for her. She says the eidolon is always with her, but she hasn’t summoned her yet.
Sure, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Mudder and Tordag seem mildly unsettled by the statue. The dwarves say the stonework is thousands of years old and there are traces of very old magic on it. The statue is carrying a weapon, a ranseur, that can be detached. It looks to be worth about 400 gold. Our party was in agreement about leaving the weapon, but we disagreed upon the reason. I don’t want to defile a piece of artwork. Tordag is superstitiously concerned about the old statue, and Melda is worried about the seven-pointed star.
As we traveled deeper and deeper into the tunnels, things got more and more strange. First, we stumbled upon more cleft palate monsters, grossly misshapen skeletons, and a goblin that had suffered some sort of mutilation that caused it to project acid. Upon having discovered his magical sword and after some reflection, we realized that he must have been the missing goblin tribe leader Shalelu told us about when she was instructing us in the local goblin tribes.
There was a spherical chamber with a variety of floating objects: a rod, a bottle of wine, and a dead bird with maggots, just to name a few. This chamber was located near a spiral staircase that led deeper underground.
The final area we explored today was the crowning glory of strangeness. We found an abandoned shrine to Lamashtu, the evil god of monsters. Protecting the temple room was the quasit, the flying demon mentioned in Tsuto’s journal. She was the one summoning the creatures with the bad dental plans. She was also virtually impossible to kill. Not only could she fly, but she also could cast spells, regenerate, and make herself invisible. We finally defeated her when Tordag stole my longspear and Melda cast an enlargement on him. That was incredibly helpful, but really, he should practice better manners in requesting soneone’s weapon. I suppose I shouldn’t expect any better from a dwarf, even an educated one.
We returned to the surface after vanquishing our foe. We made some sales of found equipment, and even though I strongly oppose this, after the last encounter I realize that we simply must have extra money to buy healing potions. And better weapons. Mostly because Tordag, the fool cleric, found himself frightened of the itty bitty demon and ran halfway out of the underground caverns leaving Melda and me with an unconscious Mudder. Imbecile.
The last part of our day was spent in conversation with batty old Mr. Quink. He told us all about the Runelords, how each of the seven represented one of the seven deadly sins. Alaznist, it seems, was the goddess of wrath. (Never could have guessed that from the look on her face.)
Quink told us that what we had likely seen in Lamashtu’s temple was actually a summoning pool for Alaznist. While “wrath” would feed the pool, the opposite would drain it of its power. It’s likely that the events of the goblin attack fed the pool, but somehow, the quasit draind some of it with her summoning. We know there’s still some power left in the pool because it continues to glow.
In our conversation, Quink told us his conspiracy theory about the lighthouse. He does not suspect it’s a lighthouse at all but a weapon of war. Quink believes that Alaznist had a series of towers built up and around from which she could shoot flaming spheres to create a perimeter of defense.
He also knew about the creatures with the bad teeth. He said they were Sinspawn. Apparently, when they attack, they sicken the victim with overwhelming feelings of their particular brand of sin.
Now I’m a little suspicious of Brodert Quink. Why does he know so much about these creatures? Hmm.
After a very late evening, we finally got to rest, but not without much to think about.
28 Rova 4707
Early this morning, we returned to the tunnels. The guards we placed said the night was uneventful. We consecrated Lamashtu’s shrine, but we were undecided about how to handle the summoning pool.
We actually had very little left to explore, and after cleaning out the remaining tunnels and rooms, we brought Quink down to look at the statue (he bought the ranseur from us for his collection) and tell us what he could about the summoning pool. The two dwarves proceeded to cut their hands over the pool to summon more of the sinspawns, and we were able to summon three more before the pool was finally void of power.
Before separating for the day, we looked over Tsuto’s journal again to see what other avenues of investigation we should pursue. The other area Tsuto mentioned was Thistletop Shrine, the place where Nualia burned her father’s ashes.
29 Rova 4707
We awoke this morning and traveled to Thistletop. It didn’t take us long by foot, about two hours. When we arrived, we found something akin to a briar patch maze. The goblin’s land was completely enclosed by thistles.
In our explorations, we found a hole that fell about 80 feet into a watery pit. In it, a bunyip swam. He looked like he’s been very well fed. The finding of that hole was fortunate; we used it later to dispose of a multitude of goblin bodies and useless gear. Unfortunately, we still have the nasty habit of pilfering possessions from the carcasses of our vanquished enemies. As I said, I think the habit of “pillaging” is utterly vile, but I suppose it is necessary if one is ever to earn money in this business. Ugh.
Oh, an interesting item to note: Melda is indeed a summoner. We got to meet her eidolon. She’s a little white dragon Melda calls Ascarthia. She is a good little fighter, but it feels unnatural to be travelling with a creature I know from dragon lore to be evil. I suspect Mudder feels the same way I do; he keeps looking over his shoulder whenever Ascarthia is around. Another unusual piece—Melda’s forehead glows with the Sihedron, the seven-pointed star, whenever she has her eidolon with her.
What a strange group of companions I have fallen in with. What have I gotten myself into? If all of Varisia is filled with such unusual characters and my parents knew about this before they sent me out, they must have been very angry with me indeed.
Well, I’ll show them. I’ll civilize these travelers if it’ll be the death of me. Perhaps I should start with Tordag. So far, he seems the most familiar with books.
But I digress.
We had an incredible battle with Warchief Ripnugget, the leader of the Thistletop tribe of goblins. He was riding a sticky foot, so that made it incredibly difficult to fight him as he was often on the ceiling. I’d like to think my magic played a big part in his defeat today. One thing I will say for found items: scrolls have certainly come in handy.
Aside from the general filth of goblin living, we also found a trapped horse, and while I wasn’t with them at the time, my companions also found a secret door behind the privy. Apparently, it contained a veritable trove of goodies. We’ll plan to use the horse to take it back to town.
2) The fight with Koruvus was a good one. At one point, the cleric got knocked to -1, which was a concern to everyone. He spewed his acid, which kind of freaked everyone out, and got in a number of good whacks with his weapons.
3) The fight with Elyrium was as tedious as everyone else has described in this forum. I stopped keeping track of the rounds, but it went at least 13 rounds. Even though tedious, it was pretty rough on our valiant heroes. The Ranger got knocked unconscious, the Cleric fell prey to a fear spell and ran away, which left the Sorcerer and Summoner left to fight the quasit (the Cleric finally came around and then cast a cure light wounds on the ranger. The summoner had a Celestial Eagle and the Cleric grabbed the Sorcerer's longspear and the Summoner also cast enlarge person on him. These two beat on the quasit quite a bit. The ranger also had some bolas, with which he was able to trip her. She was still a pesky b@+@@, but eventually fell to the onslaught.
4) While the fight with Elyrium was tedious, the fight with Gogmurt was pretty epic. The party stumbled upon the tied-up goblin dogs, which alerted Gogmurt. Tangletooth attacked the party directly, while Gogmurt moved though the briars and attacked them from the rear from the howling hole area. Tangletooth did some hurting on the Eidolon, while Gogmurt was causing trouble with his wand of produce flame and flame blade. The dwarves eventually got to him and attacked him. Gogmurt retreated through the thistles back into his "home" area to heal. Everyone ran the long way around to try to get to him. Gogmurt then ran back through the thistles and ran up to the area where the 10 goblins were hunkering down. The Ranger had a total Han Solo moment when he ran head-long into these goblins - it was pretty sweet. Gogmurt cast entangle, creating a serious choke-point, and there was a pretty good fight and the hope was that Gogmurt would be able to get his animal messenger spell off, unfortunately the players were able to get to him before he could get it off. But, that meant that the fort was unawares of the pending attack.
They were able to detect the trapped bridge and worked across it, but the Cleric (with a -8 Stealth roll), alerted the Goblin Commandos in the tower. Crossbows were able to dispatch them pretty quickly.
They were able to clear through Thistletop with no real trouble. The Ranger was lucky enough to try and disable the chest with the filthy slasher trap and triggered it. The trap rolled a friggin 1 on the attack roll!
The fight with Ripnugget was really fun, especially with him using his ride-by-attack and spirited charge feats. I don't know if it was legal for me to charge ahead and continue up the walls and ceiling, but I did it anyway because it was awesome. Those are pretty good feats as I was able to lay some serious smack-down with Ripnugget.
We played the game yesterday, so some of my notes are a bit brief and fuzzy, and probably not as descriptive as they could be.
I don't know when we're getting together next. Hopefully, it'll be sooner than later.
We adventured down into the tunnel and as we come around a corner, Tordag thought he heard something. The Dwarves proceeded to play some absurd hand game to determine who would go check out the sounds. Apparently, “Boulder, Parchment, Shears” is how Dwarves make big decisions. I wonder if they do that before wedding ceremonies as well. Ugh.
Hilarious. In our Carrion Crown campaign my fighter and the tengu rogue both took WIS as a dump stat, so we're the "Guaranteed Will Save Fail" duo. We've taken to playing rock-paper-scissors to find out which of us has to go in first and suffer the inevitable consequences...
I don't know if it was legal for me to charge ahead and continue up the walls and ceiling, but I did it anyway because it was awesome.
As far as I know, absolutely legal. I had the exact same plan, but a certain bard Greased Ripnugget's saddle before his first action, kind of ruining all his riding feats. (Making a Riding roll = no problem. Making a Reflex save and a Riding roll every round = I think he got one full round; all the rest were spent flailing around uselessly).
It's been a while. Moving into a new house and the holidays certainly wreck the gaming schedule. We still got in a good eight and a half hours of playing before deciding to knock it off. And remember, my players could read this thread, so please spoiler discussion. The session is transcribed from the journal that one of the players is writing using a 1st-person style.
29 Rova 4707 (continued)
We decided to head downstairs after we cleared things up a bit and settled down the horse. When we went down the stairs, our dwarven companions started talking about stone work. It was all quite boring, but I gathered that, to the dwarves, the stonework was relatively new, and compared to what they're accustomed to, not of very good quality (like stonework could be of good quality if it doesn't turn into a gem. Really).
Immediately upon our arrival, we heard a female voice yelling in goblin from behind a door. She sounded exasperated, as though she had been yelling at goblins for quite a while. when we came into the room, she began casting spells at us, but we were able to subdue her and tie her to a chair before she could do much damage to us. We found out later from someone who was probably a love interest of hers that her name was Lyrie, and she was employed as one of four bodyguards for Nualia. Her love interest, Orik, spilled the beans about the whole operation once he had awakened from a sleep that I may have had something to do with. I must reiterate, the scrolls we are finding are quite useful. And there was a lovely silken gown...but I digress.
Anyway, Orik told us he had been in Nualia's employ for nearly two months. he's a simple mercenary, and he seemed terrified or unsettled by most of the goings on here under Thistletop. Foremost, Nualia has some sort of sacrilegious temple below ground. Orik had never been there, but he told us Lyrie had. In addition, he told us of a couple of hellish dogs, hairless and horrifying, whose howls could strike fear into one's core. In another area, we would encounter some fearsome tentacled beast. The most revolting of these underground oddities, however, was the nauseating carnal acts of Ripnugget's harem of wives and a preposterously underdeveloped bugbear. Just thinking about it triggers my gag reflex. I shudder to think what nightmares that repugnant vision will bring tonight. Suddenly, Foxglove the Fop does not seem so unappealing.
Whether or not he can be trusted, Orik's information proved to be reliable. We encountered all that he said we would. The dogs turned out to be Yeth Hounds and they were as terrifying as promised. My dwarven companions were badly wounded, and my spells were so depleted I was forced to chip away at the Yeth Hounds with a wand of magic missiles. Melda and Ascarthia, overcome by panic, fled from the battle, and both finally returned after the dwarves took a severe punishing. Ascarthia must have been embarrassed about running away; she unleashed a barrel of fury on one of the Yeth Hounds, and that was definitely helpful in ending a very long battle.
We have come back here to the living quarters to rest for the night, knowing that Nualia will know something is amiss upstairs. You see, we barricaded the doors to prevent her from returning to this level. We debated, briefly, on hiring Orik to work for us, but we just don't believe he can be trusted. We will probably release him and Lyrie in the morning. For now, we must prepare to meet Nualia.
30 Rova 4707 (very early morning)
She knows we're here.
30 Rova 4707 (actual morning)
We had quite the adventure today. As soon as we had risen from our rest, we descended into Nualia's lair. Immediately, we were beset by ill luck. First, Tordag got himself trapped between two portcullises and two animated statues that wanted to cut his head off. After clearing that obstacle, we were promptly assailed by Nualia herselv. Once again, Melda and Ascarthia fled in terror from Nualia's Yeth Hound, and I am ashamed to admit, I fled with them. I have never known such terror, such absolute bone-shaking fear. I could think of nothing other than safety, and a primal animalistic urge to run drove me away from my companions and headlong through narrow corridors and doorways. My flight away from Nualia and her Yeth Hound was a blur, and a blemish on my reputation. While I no longer begrudge my companions for having abandoned me in previous battles, I cannot forgive myself for this lack of will. I will need to take actions to remedy this in the future.
After having recovered from our mal a propos bout with fear, Melda, her eidolon, and I returned to Nualia's chamber. We found Mudder nearly dead and covered in blood and Tordag doing some odd, celebratory dwarven strut with both of his arms upraised. He kept pointing at his own head with one of his fingers. This was an oddly puffed up gesture from him, however, Mudder explained that Tordag's spell paralyzed Nualia, and because of that spell, they were both still alive.
We spent several hours conducting research in Nualia's chamber, and we learned a great deal about her. She was a very unhappy woman. I had no idea. It's unfortunate she was so far off her rocker. She could have led an incredible life.
After conducting our research, we explored the rest of the lower chambers and were nearly killed by some shadows, a large hermit crab, and a barghest called Malfeshnekor. While we dealt with the shadows and the crab, we ran away from Malfeshnekor. We shall have to leave him bound for another day.
Sadly, during the battle with the hermit crab, Ascarthia was killed. Melda assured us, however, that she can be re-summoned. Remarkable.
We dragged a great deal of "treasure", as my companions call it, out of Thistletop by rigging a sled to that poor horse we found yesterday, and we sent Orik and Lyrie on their way. Hopefully, if we ever run into them again, they will view us favorable for having spared their lives.
It is late now, and I am exhausted. I look forward to my bed here at the Rusty Dragon. We shall have to wait until tomorrow to tell of our adventures.
7 Lamashan 4707
I went into the town common and made some lovely purchases today: a new coutier's outfit, sleeves of many garments, and a wand of enlarge person. I'm very excited about the sleeves. I can envision such lovely garments.
On an interesting note, there was quite the kerfuffle between Banny Harker, a commoner employed at the sawmill, and Titus Scarnetti, the sawmill's owner. There was a bit of a shoving match, but I was too far away to hear what was being said. By happenstance, I met up with Tordag, and we decided to go to talk with Harker to see what was the matter. Harker told us he was looking for a raise. We said we'd meet with Scarnetti to see if we could resolve the matter. While Mr. Scarnetti was polite, I'm not sure how helpful we were. He just told us he'd have something for Harker in the morning. Hopefully this issue can be happily resolved.
8 Lamashan 4707
This has been a truly unnerving day. I'm not even sure where to begin. I suppose I shall just have to begin at the start.
This morning, Baylor Hemlock asked to meet with my companions and me in the Rusty Dragon. He told us of a series of recent murders and likened them to the Late Unpleasantness. In addition, he found a note affixed to one of the bodies...addressed to me. It is horrible, smeared with blood and sighned "Your Lornship," whoever that is. Whoever his lordship is must not know that I have never served any Lord in particular thanks to my philosophical, academic parents. I certainly don't plan to now. Especially not a homicidal maniac.
We traveled to the sawmill--oh, hes, I left that out, didn't I? It seems that the unpleasant business with Banny Harker and Titus Scarnetti did not turn out happily at all. Early this morning--goodness, was it really only this morning? It feels like we've been awake for days--Banny Harker and his paramour Katrine Vinder were found murdered. On our way there, I thought it might be prudent to pick up some beneficial potions, specifically an Elixir of Vision and an Elixir of Truth.
Upon arriving at the sawmill, we found Katrine's body lying in a bloody mess on the floor. It appears as though she fell or was pushed from the 2nd floor through a hole in the floor designed for the log splitter. Banny's body was a completely different story. His body had been impaled to the wall by several hooks, and a Sihedron Rune had been carved deep into his chest. It was likely his cause of death; Tordag believes the etching was made while Mr. Harker was still alive. Furthermore, his face had been scratched off, and his jaw had been removed. Later in the day when we met with Brodert Quink again, he suspected the jaw had been removed to keep someone from speaking with the dead. Mr. Harker's body was also covered with attack wounds, claw marks, to be specific.
Around the hole in the floor on the 2nd level, it was clear there had been a scuffle. Muddy, humanoid footprints intermingled with smears of blood, and the whole place reeked of rotting meat. A hatchet lay with its head buried in the wooden floor, and it was covered in gore. The handle was bloodied, but the more interesting thing was the chunk of rotting flesh on the blade which also stank of decaying meat. We believe, given the size of the fingerprints, that Katrine was the one wielding the hatchet and that she may have injured her attacker, some sort of corporal undead creature.
The footprints, which also stank of rotting flesh, led out the window, down the wal, and across the pier. With the aid of the elixier of vision, Tordag was able to spot a dry patch of ground across the river on which the attacker probably stalked Katrine, Banny, or both. The attacker had a clear view of the sawmill, and only about 150 ft. worth of river to cross before reaching the pier. the attacker must have been a decent swimmer.
After our examination of the sawmill, we questioned Ibor Thorn and Ven Vinder, and we asked some of the town guards to go collect Mr. Scarnetti for us.
After having drank an elixier of truth, Ibor Thorn told us a great deal about his work partner, Banny Harker. Thorn suggested that Harker and Katrine had been seeing each other for nearly a yar, and he would often leave the two of them alone together. He left them this morning around 4 a.m. and returned about an hour later, around sunrise. he shut off the mill equipment and called the town guards without having taken anything from the crime scene. He also said that Harker had been "cooking the books" at the lumber mill for "awhile" and that Mr. Scarnetti was suspicious of Harker. Apparently, Mr. Harker was taking money from the lumbermill, although Mr. Thorn didn't feel that either of them were unfairly paid.
Next, we met with Mr. Vinder, Katrine's father. Because of an indiscretion with Mr. Vinder's other daughter, Mudder elected to stay out of this investigation. Mr. Vinder said he had heard rumors about his daughter and Harker, but he didn't have any definite proof until this morning when he'd heard about what Ibor had said to the Sheriff.
While we met with Mr. Vinder, Mudder spoke with the guards who had found the remains of three con-men in Bradley's barn (by Cougar Creek) three days ago. Those con men, Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe, were mutilated and murdered in much the same way as Harker. A noteable difference was that the three bodies were laid out instead of hung up, and one of the bodies had a note from "Your Lordship" as well. They appear to be written in the same hand., but we are ill equipped to make such determinations. The guardsmen told Mudder that they found the bodies because a raving, frothing lunatic, delirious with fear, attacked them. They were on the trail when he attacked, and they followed his traks back to the barn. He had marks on him like he had been bound. He is currently in Habe's Sanitarium south of town. We will need to visit with him. The barn is along the way.
Finally, Mr. Scarnetti arrived. The story he told us was quite different than that of Mr. Thorn. I wish we had given him an elixir of truth, but I am afraid the mad is such a practiced liar that the serum would have done no good. When asked about Mr. Harker, Scarnetti told us that he believed Harker to be a hard worker. He claimed to know nothing of Harker's embezzelment, nor did he know anything about Miss Vinder because employees were not allowed to "fraternize on duty." When called out about his argument with Mr. Harker and the implied threat of having "something" for Harker in the morning, Scarnetti became defensive. We really got very little from him, other than that we did not believe one of his business competitors would have committed the murders. I think we shall have to try to talk with Mr. Scarnetti again, although we aren't sure it was him. There is something very Thassilonian about these five murders, each tied together by the seven-pointed star.
As I mentioned before, we met again with Brodert Quink, our resident Thassilonian expert, who said it is possible a Thassilonian scholar could have committed the murders (excepting himself, of course). Tomorrow, we shall have to start early. We shall head to the barn and the asylum to meet the crazy man, Grayst Sevilla, in the hopes to find some reasonable answers from that mad man.
- Scarnetti may be a red herring, but he's still guilty of something.
- Maybe the three con men were connected to Harker somehow.
- Katrine was probably collateral damage.
- The "she" on the note may relate to Nualia--maybe Delek Viskanta wrote it?
- Check out the Skinsaw Cult.
The author didn't remember, but the fight with Lyrie did take a bit of effort. She was surprised and so she didn't have her mage armor activated, but she still managed to put up a good fight. She had mirror image cast and she was able to get at them a bit with her own spells. They finally knocked off her images (never once hitting her) and the eidolon finally dropped her to -1 hp. Tordag stabilized her and they bound and gagged her in that room.
The fight with Bruthazmus and the harem was humorous because when describing the situation they walked in on, you could tell their stomachs were turning at the thought of that "activity". What made it even better, was they just came through the "goblin art room" and had been having a dialogue about goblin masturbation, and then BAM--full-facial goblin porn. This fight arose Orik's suspicions and he entered the fray. The author used the scroll of sleep acquired from Lyrie to put Orik out.
The fight with the Yeth Hounds in the temple was brutal and we got REALLY close to a character death--Tordag was dropped into the negatives but was able to stabilize. Melda and her eidolon failed their Will in the surprise round against the hound's baying and had to flee for 5 rounds. The thing that helped this battle is that the group entered the temple from the side door and so the hounds were choked and could only get at the players one at a time. This drew out the battle long enough that Melda and Ascarthia recovered from their fear and returned, but attacked the hounds from the rear.
The fight with the tendriculous was no big deal, but it is a pretty cool creature and it was able to lay some hits on the players.
Needless to say though, after clearing the 1st level of the dungeons, the party was wiped out. The party decided to camp in the dungeon, but they stayed in the room right before the stairs going to the 2nd level (not the sleeping quarters as the author stated). They barricaded the door to the lower level to basically lock Nualia in. I debated how to handle this, and eventually figured that--assuming the players would notice the trap and jump over the offending square--it would still give Nualia a valid reason to be buffed up upon their arrival. I had the Yeth Hound bang against the barricade and howl and make noise so the players knew that "whatever was down there" was aware of their presence. I debated about letting the Yeth Hound harass them all night long, but let it go.
The next morning, upon entering the trapped hallway, I read the description to them, especially making sure to mention the polished portion of the floor. So what do they do? "We keep walking forward to the doors." Really? Are you guys total newbs? Seriously? Ok...so Tordag walks ahead, fails the Reflex save and gets trapped. He get's whacked up pretty good, Sunders one of the weapons prior to the second round of attacks, but still gets hit with one. He passes the Reflex save to avoid dropping into the pit, and makes another Reflex save to avoid stepping on the trapped floor again. Everyone else passes a jump check to get past the trap.
They group hears the chanting of Nualia buffing herself and they open the door to face her. No suprise round and the Yeth Hound goes first, making the summoner, eidolon, and sorcerer to flee, and then immediately moves to block entrance into the room. Now, before going further, I have to say that the Nualia battle was very short, but it was totally epic! One die roll was the difference between success and literal TPK. Anyways, so the Yeth Hound is blocking access to Nualia, so Tordag and Mudder start working on the hound while Nualia did all of her 1st round buffing. 2nd round she casts doom on Mudder, the hound gets another attack in, but finally drops. On round 3, Nualia moves the 10 feet forward and crits her 2-handed bastard sword attack on Mudder dropping him to 2 hp. On Tordag's turn, he casts hold person on her. She fails her Will save by a relatively narrow margin. Mudder coup de gras her on his next turn and she fails the save to live. It was pretty cool, especially the cheers and sighs of relief from the players. If she passed that Will save, at best only two of the four would have died, but it very likely would have been a TPK.
The group got into the fight with the shadows, and once again Tordag took a beating: 11 STR damage and only survived because of the "secret" door was accidentally not blocked off but only showed an open hallway. Tordag stepped into the "secret" hallway and because he was out of the room, the shadows left him alone. Other than Tordag taking a beating, the fight against the shadows was surprisingly uneventful.
The fight with the hermit crab was fairly tough, especially in the group's weakened state. I had the crab fixate on the eidolon for dinner, so it mindlessly ignored many AoOs. It took a while but the crab was finally killed.
I'm glad they decided to run from Malfeshekor because I was absolutely certain, especially in their weakened state, they had zero chance for survival. Tordag decided to step in, and Mal laid down a good whooping on him--didn't kill him, but it was obvious the group couldn't handle him.
I gave them a little over a week of down-time in Sandpoint: to heal, buy/sell gear, interact with the peeps.
I'm really liking how the mystery portion of the first part of chapter 2 is working out. It's really interesting to see their thought process and how they're working through all of the clues.
Again, please spoiler the discussion as I don't want any possibility of their thought process being influenced.
Hopefully we'll be able to pick back up again in the latter part of March.
|Nerak the Numb|
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The day by day account is the smart way to do it.
As a GM I have calendars printed out and mark off each day otherwise I'd be lost. Winter is coming and a few of the players in my group (8 of them) have picked up on that.
Aldern has been one of my favorite parts of Book 1, I played him up as a huge fop and the group just shakes their head and chuckles at his antics. That and good 'ole fashion goblin on bugbear action is always good for a TPS (Total Party Squirm).
I used a wide format printer to output our maps, and did a very similar thing with the glassworks. I cut out all the rooms and addd them as they moved through. Its time consuming to set up but the payoff is pretty cool. I've since reverted to drawing on the 4' by 8' mat I bought from Chessex.
Keep em coming, we are at the exact same part in our campaign.
It has been a while since we last played. Alas, life and proximity having gotten in the way.
9 Lamashan 4707
Sherriff Hemlock provided us with a letter of introduction to Erin Habe, the administrator of The Saintly Haven of Respite, the sanatorium where Grayst Sevilla is being kept. Unfortunately, he was unable to send one of the guardsmen with us to assure that things at the barn were as they left them. You would have thought that at least the letter of introduction would have been helpful, but alas, Mr. Erin Habe was quite the shady fellow. But I am getting ahead of myself.
First, we stopped by Bradley’s Barn to check out the crime scene. While we were there, Mudder put his tracking skills to good use and discovered some bare footprints that faintly smelled of rotting meat. He believes they came from Cougar Creek. Again, this strange connection to water. Mudder also saw boot prints. Perhaps they belonged to Mr. Sevilla? We are altogether puzzled by Mr. Sevilla’s arrival to the barn, and in our meeting with him later in the day, we were unable to learn anything useful. Perhaps he was just an unwelcome bystander, restrained by the three knaves who eventually met their untimely demise at the hands of the rotting creature? Whatever the case may be, he was left alive for a purpose—to deliver a message to me—whereupon the life immediately left his body and he reemerged as some sort of undead abomination. Tordag suspects he was infected with some sort of ghoul fever; between those suspicions and the recent outbreak of ghoulish activity in the region, he may be on to something.
Shortly after Grayst delivered his sinister message and reperished by the hands of my companions, we were forced to attack Habe’s thugs (that is the only way they can be described. Those men had no business being orderlies in a mental institution. Brutes.) and a swarm of zombies. Habe fled upstairs while his partner, a necromancer named Carzailu Zerren, came up from the basement to do battle. Fortunately for all of us, Ascarthia is proving to be quite the little fighter. I did not get to witness the battle as Mudder and I were in pursuit of Habe, but Melda and Tordag were clearly very pleased with her performance in battle, although she is still unfamiliar with the use of her tail as a weapon. I imagine her much like a puppy with feet too large and awkward for her body; her tail may currently be unwieldy, but woe to her enemies when she grows into it!
In our hunt for Habe upstairs, Mudder and I encountered a poor soul named Pidget Tergelson (of course, we didn’t learn of his name until later) who had been trapped in a were rat form for so long he had forgotten he was ever human. I burned him to a crisp with a particularly effective Scorching Ray spell. Poor man. Habe had been keeping him at the sanatorium to study him. He claims to have wanted to “heal” the were rat, but from what we had seen of the “sanatorium”, I seriously doubt that. Apparently, Habe and Zerren had been in a partnership for about five years or so during which time Habe provided the carcasses of deceased patients for Zerren to perform his undead machinations upon. I am much more inclined to believe Zerren’s story of their partnership; he was quite friendly after I cast a Charm Person spell upon him.
Now to Grayst Sevilla’s messsage—the truly puzzling event of the day. Prior to collapsing to the floor in his first death, Grayst Sevilla focused in on me and became completely clear, if a bit compulsive, in his speech: “If you come to his Misgivings, if you join his Pack, he will end his harvest in your honor.”
Now, I know a bit about these Misgivings, and it has a direct tie back to that oafish fop, Aldern Foxglove. I know I had a bad impression of the man, but a murderer?
But it would explain why some missives were “sent” to me directly.
I suppose, if this does come back to Foxglove somehow, then that’s what I get for humoring the man. Does this mean that I am indirectly responsible for these murders? These questions of philosophy are not ones that I am willing to explore alone, especially not here in the Hambley’s abandoned, bloodied farmhouse.
Ah. I should explain how we ended up here.
As soon as we arrived back in Sandpoint, Sherriff Hemlock summoned us which was fortuitous because we wanted to meet with him, too. We exchanged stories, and we learned that Maester Grump, a farmer from south of town, had fled for his life from a farm after he and the neighbors were attacked by scarecrows. While Baylor was dubious, after what we had seen today, we were inclined to believe the pitiful man, and we agreed to go out to the farm to inspect. Besides, these animated scarecrow sightings coincide with the spots on Carzailu Zerren’s ghoul-sightings map.
Before we departed, I pulled Baylor aside to explain the situation at the sanatorium—how there are still a couple of senile old men in cages (essentially) out at the Saintly Haven of Respite, and how there are certainly a couple of old, nurturing types in town who might be up for the challenge of rehabilitating the sanatorium. He said he would talk to the mayor about it.
We arrived out at the area where Mr. Grump had reported the scarecrow attacks, and indeed, we were attacked by the scarecrows—ghouls disguised as scarecrows to be specific. We ended up here at the Hambley farmstead and encountered a particularly interesting creature—a ghast missing one ear. I seem to recall an old man from Sandpoint, Rogors Craesby, who had lost an ear in a bar fight years ago. He had been tending to Foxglove Manor between the tragic deaths of Craele and Trevor Foxglove and the return of their son, Aldern. I wonder if this one-eared ghast is the same man or just a strange coincidence.
It is late, and we are exhausted. I see that Tordag is nearly done with his watch, and it is time to begin mine.
10 Lamashan 4707 (very, very, early morning)
Those clever bastards set the farmhouse on fire. Fortunately, we are more clever, and my dwarven companions make particularly fierce fighters when augmented by an enlarge person spell. Handy wand, that.
We shall repose in the barn, then, for the rest of the morning.
I hate ghouls.
10 Lamashan 4707
Before I recount the events of the day, I forgot—we found another note for me, pinned to poor Mr. Hambley’s desecrated body. It was treated in the same manner as the four murdered people who preceded him: Sihedron, jaw removed, splayed on the floor, note on his person. The late nights have made me callous to these murders. How quickly the macabre becomes rote. I wonder what my philosopher father would have to say about that?
Now to return to the day’s events. In the morning, after everyone was well rested, we sent Hemlock’s guards back to town so that the two that may have contracted Ghoul Fever could be healed and so that Sherriff Hemlock could receive a full report of the previous day’s events.
Owing to our proximity to Foxglove Manor, my compatriots and I decided to head directly there. As we approached, the place was utterly rife with foreboding: the animals looked diseased, trees were barren and leafless, even the sky was clouded and dismal. No wonder it was named “The Misgivings”.
The manor itself was no better, although the windows were pristine—in perfect condition despite being a century old. The rest, as one would expect, was dilapidated and depressed both outside and in, but it was the interior of the manor that gave the true picture of its former inhabitants.
It is clear that the Foxgloves had been a family of true wealth and influence given the sheer number of windows, statues, and art pieces. If Foxglove the Fop hadn’t been a homicidal maniac/ghoul, he may have made a worthy mate. As he is, however, leaves much to be desired, and I do believe the smell of fetid meat that accompanies his presence may have turned me vegetarian for life.
In the myriad of rooms in this formerly great house, my companions and I were truly awakened to the horror and depravity of the Foxglove history. I shudder to recount in detail each ghastly image, but a few images remained burned into my memory, and I fear I shall not sleep unless I put a few down pen to paper. Each time I blink, I recall the bizarre and disagreeable stained glass windows dating back to who knows when and hinting at the family’s long history with the dark arcane arts. Melda was attacked at one point in the downstairs foyer by a large and completely stone statue of a manticore which suddenly came to life and just as quickly returned to normal. Mudder danced with a beautiful Varisian woman who strangled to dust while they danced. Tordag saw himself strangled by Aldern. I cowered in a fireplace certain that my parents were trying to kill each other and then come to kill me. Each of us recounted both voices and horrific images in different rooms of the house, and while we all knew (after a time) that these images were just that—mere impressions—we each felt compelled to act out the dreadful atrocities and but for sheer will (and in Melda’s case with her dagger, brute strength) we’d all be dead by now, I’m certain of it.
When I reflect back up on the day, while I think of Mr. Aldern Foxglove with an undeniable degree of revulsion, I can’t help but feel pity for the man he once was. No wonder in life he was such a fool, a dandy who paraded his finery for all to see. And also no wonder, given his…grandfather? perhaps?...given Vorel’s unfulfilled journey into undead immortality, no wonder he chose such a path for himself. We are, after all, but a product of our upbringing, and while I see all the time people making choices that defy their upbringing (in Vendor’s girls and Nualia both come to mind), I recognize the Hand of Our Histories at play, as well.
I am loathe to admit this, but I think I owe my own parents an apology.
Assuming I make it back home.
During their search of the Hambley Farm, they didn't run across all of the ghoul-crows before finding the house. They decided to hole up in the house and board all the windows and doors. Partly so they wouldn't have an easy night and partly for expediency, I decided to have those ghoul-crows they didn't find break their bindings and ambush them during the night. Since the ghouls are actually smart, instead of just rush the house, I figured they would flush the players out to them. So some of them broke into the cellar and set a fire.
The player on watch smelled the fire and woke everyone up, and said to run up stairs. We all looked at him and wondered what he was thinking. He said that with the bottom doors and windows planked and nailed shut, that it would be easier to get out the upstairs windows. I reminded him that he had a really big f%$+ing axe. Anyways, the 8 remaining ghouls were waiting on the front lawn in a big semi-circle around the house. The battle wasn't overly epic, but the players enjoyed themselves.
*Mental Note* I need to remember to use the "sleeping in armor" rule. Using this would have had some really interesting consequences during this particular fight, and might have actually turned it into a really epic fight. */Mental Note*
I figured at least a couple of the town guardsmen would have been killed, but the group did a pretty good job of keeping them alive. Two did contract ghoul fever; I will need to remember to make additional saves to determine if they succumb or not.
The group seemed to enjoy the haunted house. They did take some damage here or there, and Melda failed her save against the Misogynistic Rage haunt (Elsbeth had higher initiative and cast invisibility, so Melda then resorted to trying to stab herself in which Mutter reacted by sitting on her chest until the things subsided), and Tordag and Elsbeth contracted Vorel's Phage, but other than that, Will saves were successful. That being said, I think the players did enjoy the story-telling aspect of this part of the AP, and I think they were sufficiently creeped out with the music that I played in the background.
They found Iesha fixated on the mirror, and kept bringing things in (scarf, picture, etc) and she kept failing her save so she kept self loathing. Finally, Tordag picked up the scarf, and Iesha passed her save and begain to wail on him. I kept emphasizing that she was completely focused on him, and his only response was "yup". I figured at some point he would have at least dropped the scarf or something, but instead Elsbeth cast invisibility on him. I figured that was enough to break Iesha off, and she bee-lined for Aldern.
Everything I've read, plus the mock battle that I ran, indicates that Iesha will own any fight she gets into with Aldern (even if he does have help from the Goblin Ghasts), so I need to figure out how I'm going to deal with that. I might just hand-wave some stuff and let him win, so he still provides a decent opponent for the players.
I also pretty much let the group slide past the rat swarms. By that point we were pretty much all out of time and mental energy. That's ok, they'll still be there on the return trip.
My own group is two encounters shy of the Big Bad. I kept rolling mediocre perception checks for the ghouls so it wasn't 'til the ranger/wizard went into ecstatics over finding a magic weapon just SITTING in poisonous mold (they made their saves and used fire) that I ruled they heard. At which point they bottlenecked the ghouls so only one could attack at a time... and their new Sorceress (Imperious) friend used Ice Slick (Grease with an ice-theme as she's a minor noble from Irrisen (yes, one of Baba Yaga's brood, from one of the older bloodlines)) to turn the fight into one big Yackety Sax routine for the ghouls.
No idea how they'll do against the ghasts, however. Especially as they fought and defeated Iesha already.
I had fallen quite behind on this, even though we play very infrequently due to a thing called "life". We had a game today, so I am catching up on the older journals that I didn't post.
10 Lamashan 4707 (continued)
Tordag tells me that I am gravely ill, perhaps that accounts for my current infatuation with the macabre. While I write from the relative safety of the Rusty Dragon, I wonder if I shall make it through to morning. I am covered in spots (as is Tordag, but I can not see them on him), and I feel generally unwell.
It has been a long day.
But I digress. Let me speak of how I managed to pick up these accursed spots.
After our nightmarish journey through most of the rooms, we came upon an appallingly tragic room filled with portraits. They appeared to depict the deaths of some members of the Foxglove family. Of the eight portraits, only two remain unblighted: Zeeva and Sendeli, Aldern’s sisters. Aldern’s portrait showed us a death by undeath. Cyralie, his mother, had a burnt and broken body. Rumor has it she lept from a window at the Foxglove estate, and our morbid visions confirmed that. Traver, Aldern’s father, died by a self-inflicted cut. Kosanda (Aldern’s grandmother) and Lorey (Aldern’s aunt) both died from some disease. Vorel’s death appeared to have been similar, by disease, however, the lab downstairs showed us another type of death-undeath. Vorel tried to gain everlasting life much in the same manner as his grandson, but something happened to upset the necromantic proceedings.
On the top floor, we found the room in which Craylie defenestrated herself and staind glass windows depicting Erazne, the Harlot Queen, and Succano, the Butcher of Carrigan. We also found a beautiful Varisian ghost (Iesha), who had been strangled to death by Aldern. We don’t know if she was a former lover or a former wife, only that she was fixated upon her death. When we showed her the scarf with which she had been strangled, she attacked us. When we hid it from her, she led us to the basement where Aldern was hiding.
Not only was Aldern a product of his upbringing, he was a pawn in a much bigger game. A part of me feels pity for the man. A greater part of me feels disdain; what manner of man allows fate to forecast his fortunes? At some point, we must become the masters of our own destinies.
I wonder what Tordag would say of this idea? A man who prays every day for guidance from Abadar-whose healing and beneficence even I cannot deny. At some point, I must discuss this with Father.
Again, the digressions. The hour is late and I am burning with fever.
It appears that Aldern Foxglove was working for a greater organization, the Brothers of Seven, to harvest for them. There were legions of ghouls at work for him in the basement, and we believe he was also responsible for the gruesome murders of the thieves, the farmer, and the millworker.
Aldern, prior to his demise, apologized for his misdeeds and said the organization made him do it. The markings on the murder victim’s bodies must have something to do with the master of which “Xanesha” speaks.
Even upon the death (the true death) of Aldern Foxglove, the blight upon The Misgivings did not dissipate. Upon leaving the property, we were set upon by a swarm of carrion eaters. I wonder if the home will ever be habitable, or if it will forever be haunted.
Personally, I think we’d be doing a benefit to society by burning the place down. At least one soul in that misbegotten place was laid to rest today. When Aldern died, we saw Iesha’s body rise and depart from this world. Before she left, she smiled at us. At least someone has gained some peace.
As for myself, I am not in such a rush to find myself a husband. There is clearly more to Varisia than fine clothes and fine dining (although the wine we found in Foxglove’s kitchen most certainly will be put to good use…), and absolutely more to people than meets the eye! I learned that today from my companions, they could have easily allowed me to go in and face Aldern, my stalker, alone. His obsession was, in part, my fault. They didn’t, though, and I am grateful.
I wonder what adventures await us in Magnimar tomorrow. I hope I am well enough to find out.
11 Lamashan 4707
This morning came early. Tordag began the day by attempting to rid us of our diseases. Unfortunately, each of us is still infected with something. I suppose, on the bright side, that we each only have one disease apiece as opposed to two or three.
Before our departure to Magnimar-while my compatriots went about their business in Sandpoint-I delivered two items to my parent’s doorstep: a cameo I found in Aldern Foxglove’s belongings with a beautiful engraving of me in it, and a note.
The smell of cooking meat in the Dragon this morning was utterly unappealing. I shall learn to like granola.
In Magnimar, I took Melda (wearing a Hat of Disguise) into the district my parents and I often visited when we travelled. After introducing her to old family friends and having a generally pleasant afternoon, we were delighted to find what we believe to be Foxglove’s home in town. Tomorrow, after a good night’s rest, we will go exploring.
Tonight over dinner (salad for me), Tordag told us of what he learned at his temple. The mask we found on Aldern’s person was called a Stalker’s Mask. That’s fitting. It’s generally used to impersonate people, which explains how it was used to create my face right before Aldern managed to paralyze me.
That was terrifying, by the way, even though it only lasted about ten seconds. I shall have to study upon how to cast still and silent spells.
Apparently, the mask is used by the cult of Norgorber to carry out evil ceremonies. Fortunately, the temple will destroy the hideous thing.
I believe while we are here we should keep an eye out for Lord-Mayor Grobaras. He is alive and well currently, but he is a greedy man. Greedy men seem to be meeting untimely demises in Varisia.
12 Lamashan 4707
We have decided to settle for the night in the Seven Sawmill, and it appears that we have uncovered a bit of a conspiracy. Aside from one another, we may struggle to find anyone within the City of Magnimar.
Perhaps I should begin at the beginning.
This morning started quite pleasantly. Tordag cured me of my remaining ailment, and even despite my weariness now, I am feeling healthier than I have felt in days. Divine magic is a truly remarkable thing, and I must confess I am more and more inclined to believe that Tordag may have stumbled upon something with this diety Abadar.
I may have to research this.
After our morning of healing, breakfasting (fruit and bread, thank you), and shopping, our little party ventured to Foxglove’s townhome and were met with an unbelievable and horrifying surprise-Aldern and his wife Iesha in the flesh! As you can imagine, poor Mudder and I were nearly struck dumb with fright. (Mudder quite possibly more than nearly. He kept going on about watering the man’s plants). Fortunately, Aldern and Iesha were but illusions-faceless stalkers posing as our former foes. They are quite commonly used as assassins. I suppose I can see why, given that they can impersonate others.
While we were at the Foxglove abode, we explored the premises and found it rather picked over. Places where paintings had once hung on the walls showed faintly from the dust, and I imagine all manner of fine accessories must have been absconded with in the last several weeks.
We were near to giving up our search when we reached the top floor and discovered a tiny keyhole secreted away within the head of a lion flanking the fireplace. Luck was with us as we had the matching key from our misadventure out to Foxglove Manor. Behind the hidden doorway we found two items of note: the deed to the Foxglove manor and the family ledger. The deed shows some sort of contract into which Vorel Foxglove entered with the Brothers of the Seven for the construction of the manor. According to the deed, the Foxgloves had fewer than 20 years left of property ownership.
The ledger also told an interesting story. Apparently, Iesha, despite having been strangled to death by her wayward husband months ago, has been making weekly trips to Absalom since Sarenith. Each trip corresponded with a payment made to the Brothers with a note that said “midnight @ The Seven’s Sawmill”. The final entry in the ledger was for Aldern’s trip to Sandpoint for our Swallowtail Festival. We surmised that if payments had continued on a regular basis to the Brothers, another would have been made just yesterday at midnight.
On an unrelated note, in addition to his penchant for undeath and the reek of rancid meat, Foxglove was a terrible interior decorator. The man had a hideous zebra-skin rug in his bedroom. Zebras. Rediculous. Everybody knows the auroch makes for a finer quality rug that’s much more durable for use on the floor.
But I am straying from the matter at hand.
After our visit to the townhouse, we decided to venture across the city to visit the sawmill. On our way there, we discussed more about what Tordag learned from his temple regarding this diety Norgorber.
This seems to be “Master” (perhaps) to whom Xanesha was referring in her message to Aldern. Norgorber is also known as the Reaper of Reputation, and his existence is mostly kept a secret through nefarious means. The members of his cult often wear masks both to conceal their own identities and also to show their devotion to Norgorber. In addition to madmen, murderers, and maniacs, his followers include politicians and spies (so now we really need to worry about the mayor). The ceremonial colors they wear are black and brown, and they tend to hide their centers of worship inside regular businesses.
The Seven’s Sawmill fit the description perfectly. Within this suspiciously idle sawmill, we encountered thirteen members of this cult, two of whom were Tseuto Kaijitsu and Magnimar’s Chief Justice, Justice Ironbriar. They each had the masks of the cult, but we found 2 dozen ceremonial robes, leaving us to believe that we have missed some of their members. So now we wait, spending the rest of our evening in this hellish sawmill, waiting to see if tomorrow’s change in shift will bring more members of the cult and wondering if we can’t go to Magnimar’s Chief Justice about the presence of the cult, who can we go to?
13 Lamashan 4707
Early this morning, Mudder had a conversation with ravens.
I have never seen anything so strange in my life as a fully grown dwarf gesticulating with his hands and his head as though he were a bird.
The ravens at the Mill told him they take messages to the “snake lady”. Then we watched one of them fly to a clocktower. We promptly left to find an inn where we could work on deciphering an encrypted journal we found in what appeared to be Ironbriar’s office in the mill.
For the remainder of the day, Tordag and I have been working to decode the message while Mudder and Melda have spent the day shopping.
This seems unjust.
14 Lamashan 4707
Still decoding. My eyes are fuzzy.
I have not yet been shopping.
Melda bought a beautiful new longsword.
I have had visions of braiding Tordag’s beard. I need to get out of this room.
15 Lamashan 4707
We did it!
The message clearly implicates Ironbriar in the cult dealings here in Magnimar. It also refers to Vorel’s legacy-the noxious mold growing in the basement of Foxglove Manor. Aldern had apparently been harvesting the mold to send it to Justice Ironbriar.
As it is just evening, I shall wait to complete this entry until after our visit to the Shadow Clock, the place where we believe Xanesha to be hiding. Perhaps this will give us enough evidence to present to the mayor to clear us of any wrongdoing in the business of the Mill.
It is curious that no one is talking about it…
Dear me, this entry very nearly didn’t get completed!
This evening, we went to the Shadow Clock and met the “snake lady” the ravens told Mudder about. Tordag suspects she was a lamia matriarch. She was a formidable foe, indeed. We are finding that the enlarge person wand I bought is an invaluable purchase. I wonder if there is a way for me to learn this spell? I know I cannot do so in the same way those bookish wizards do, but there is something about it that feels intuitive, inherent.
Fortunately, our foray into the treacherous Clock paid off for us in information. We were correct to be concerned about the Lord-Mayor of Magnimar, as his name was on a list of Sihedron sacrifices, and he was mentioned specifically in a letter from Xanesha’s brother to her. (The letter was crumpled in a ball. I wonder if she was offended because he was so condescending to her in the missive).
15 Lamashan 4707 (continued)
We went to Tordag’s temple to receive aid in restoring Tordag’s wisdom drain and disposing of some items we believe were only to be used for nefarious purposes. Tordag is absolutely adamant about disposing of them even when they would make exquisite focal points in the right room. That reaper’s mask was truly a conversation piece; it allowed the wearer to see arteries and veins of a potential target. Fascinating.
Afterward, we went to the Lord-Mayor’s house, and after meeting with both his assistant (Valanni Krimst) and the Lord-Mayor himself, we finally were able to convince him that his life was in danger.
Naturally, his reaction was to invite us to a dinner party.
Now it is well past daybreak, and despite being exhausted, all I can think about is the guest list. Will it be a who’s who of murderers? Victims? The social elite? Or some combination thereof?
16 Lamashan 4707
Melda and I met Valanni at the Pediment Building and received the guest list from him. So far, no one appears to be either a villain or a victim, so now I must brush up on my local gossip so as to engage the bourgeois with my charm in intellect.
After all, one never knows when one might be able to gather a critical piece of information from an unsuspecting dinner party lush.
And…one of them may be young and attractive. Goodness knows I need to interact with men who aren’t dwarves.
17 Lamashan 4707
I spent the day today digging up interesting tidbits of information about each of the guests at the party and briefing my companions about what they need to know to be “in the know”.
Mudder has decided to pose as a guard for Tordag. I believe that is wise, just in case.
18 Lamashan 4707
The dinner party was this evening, and it was fairly uneventful. I had a delightful time socializing with the guests, even though my companions were extraordinarily uncomfortable.
At the end of the evening, the Lord-Mayor invited us in to his study to ask if we would investigate some loss of communication between Fort Rannick and Turtleback Ferry. Because of the letter we retrieved from Xanesha’s stronghold, we have a strong inkling about why that may be.
19 Lamashan 4707
Today, Mudder received a communication from Shalelu Andosana, the ranger we met back in Sandpoint.Mudder reported that a bird brought this message to him: Shalelu wants to meet up with us on our journey to Turtleback Ferry. How on earth did she know we were travelling? My, word travels fast.
20 Lamashan 4707
We have decided to travel by boat. This will be exciting!
I was wrong. I need to be back on land. Sea-sick-green is not my color.
27 Lamashan 4707
Although it was dreary and drizzly when we disembarked, I very nearly kissed the ground when we finally got back on stable ground. You can imagine my dismay when I found we were literally to sail on turtle back to get to the town itself. I may have to take up residence here if this is the only means by which we can leave.
Today we met with the mayor and discussed the absence of the Black Arrows, but he couldn’t really tell us much. We also met with an interesting local who had been encouraged to tattoo the sihedron onto his arm by the proprietress of the Paradise Barge, a local gambling establishment much beloved by the local men and begrudged by the local business owners and wives of the men who would frequent said establishment.
By comparing our stories, we learned of strange happenings in and around the swamp and forest. Additionally, it seems the gambling barge and its occupants all sank to the bottom of the lake after a fire two or three weeks ago-right about the same time the rangers stopped their communication and the unusual rain in the territory started.
Tomorrow, we set out for the fort.
I really cannot repeat enough how pleased I am to be on land!
28 Lamashan 4707
Early this morning, we set out for Fort Rannick but were sidetracked almost immediately by our two rangers who heard a cat yowling in the woods and thought it would be a good idea to trapse into the woods and see what the commotion was all about. Apparently, someone’s animal companion got himself caught in a trap that was set by some bumbling giant half-breed.
Naturally, after we saved the cat from the trap, we decided to follow the thing because I guess that’s what we do now. We talk to and get directions from animals.
The kitty led us about five miles into the woods (off the path of the fort, of course) to a sickly-looking cornfield where we were set upon by an equally sickly-looking giant half-breed thing. This one was different from the one before, but they were both deformed.
Mudder suspects that we stumbled upon an ogrekin clan: the cross product between an ogre and human mating (usually unwillingly) and several generations of inbreeding. It really was an unfortunate and gruesome encounter.
I still think Tordag is troubled by having slain children. While I understand his unease, I believe he has done them (and the world) a service. They were condemned to a lifetime of molestation, violence, and isolation. Their neighbors were constantly in danger of being eaten. While I certainly understand the plight of the half-breed, that…that is no way to live.
The farmhouse in which the ogrekin lived was a veritable house of horrors. Between the insects, the offal, and the human remains, half of our party was sickened immediately upon entry. Still, for Mudder and me, Foxglove Manor may have been worse.
We battled with several ogrekin, the Grand Dame of the house, and some horrible plant creature called a tendriculus and decided afterward that we should just call the whole thing a wash and burn the house to the ground.
Unfortunately, amid the rubbish in the house, our companion Shalelu recognized her step-father’s longbow. He was second-in-command of the Black Arrows.
"NobodysHome's Silver Tseuto Award" goes to Mammy Graul. While the fight was honorably and rightly won by the players using sound tactics and two very well placed spells, Mammy didn't make it very interesting because she rolled a natural "1" for her concentration check to cast defensively...two rounds in a row. *facepalm* Ironically, the GM (i.e. Me) was wearing this shirt during the course of the day's gaming session.
I did get revenge later on in the basement during the fight with Hucker Graul and the Donkey Rats. Mudder, the party's ranger and "pseudo-tank" stepped into the room to attack, very confident of his 50-and-change hitpoints, to attack a Donkey Rat with his Lucern Hammer. A raging, power attacking, charging Hucker went straight ahead against Mudder. Mudder's character very smugly announced he was making his AoO and hit Hucker for 20 hp. Hucker laughed. Hucker critted Mudder to -14 hp. A well timed stabilize spell from Tordag saved Mudder's life.
We had to stop playing before they had a chance to go through the barn. Elsbeth's player (the journal author) has a very real real-world dislike of spiders. Even in-game spiders give her the creeps. The encounter with Biggin' is going to be fun.
The characters leveled up to 8th level, though they won't have access to the new spells until the get a chance to rest (after they clear out the barn).
I was thinking, "Wow! How did I miss HangarFlying's campaign? Why am I not reading it?"
Then I looked at the last post date.
And people complain about MY rate of posting!
Yeah, unfortunately, due to my schedule, my brother and his wife living over two hours away, as well as their being very active in their local theater community, we don't get nearly as many chances to play as we would like.
The two previous posts had gotten so delayed, I was almost ready to give up on the whole thing. Though, having thoroughly enjoyed reading your journal, I felt I had to continue what had been started, even if it was only going to be infrequently updated.
Yes, I know how much life can interfere with gaming! That two-month hiatus of mine while we moved forced my thread into the dreaded wasteland known as "Campaign Journals". And my CotCT game has been on hiatus for well over a year now.
Glad to see you back to posting! Good luck on having it continue!
You could always try using VTT. It's allowed me to reconnect with some gaming friends all over the country (Atlanta, Delaware, Milwaukee, and CA), and get a game up and running. Shoot me a message if you want any suggestions/help with that.
I've got Fantasy Grounds. The problem is, that with this group of people, VTT won't even work for a regular game-our schedules are just that crazy. I'm trying to get a CotCT game started on FG with my brother, his wife, and their friends that live out there with them, and we can't get it started.