Aballar’s crunch is nearly done. A couple of further questions. Would you consider letting us take an appropriate regional feat from Player’s Guide to Faerun in lieu of two traits? Also, regarding languages, in 3.5 Realms PCs got their local language for free as well as Common, if I remember correctly. What’s your take for this campaign?
Take as much time as you need. I'll be here when you get back ;>
Apologies again people, and thanks for your understanding. It’s especially difficult to this considering the great effort people have put into developing their PCs for this campaign. However, I hope Bonegrit has the right of it here. From what we’ve learnt of each other, it seems like we’re lifelong gamers. So long as the Internet doesn’t combust, perhaps this campaign can be one of those ones that stops and starts over the years, or even decades. Just not at the moment :-)
Well my friends, I’m afraid to say at this point I cannot see any expected end to my suddenly super busy situation in the coming months. I’ve been given a lot more responsibilities at work (which is kind of fun, but … you know) on top of the extra study I’m doing (which hasn’t even really started yet but is bound to take six or seven hours a week to do it with a hope of passing) Follow the Flood Road is getting squeezed out. One does, after all, need to sleep at times.
Though I certainly don’t want to call time on our adventures (which in so many ways, have only just started), realistically I think I must request a hiatus of at least few months. As you all know, I have an epic scope in thought with this campaign, so I hope we can restart when my life becomes calmer once more.
I’ve got everyone’s email addresses, so I’ll keep all advised for as and when that might be (this includes Alagor and new addition Kyras). In the meantime, my sincerest apologies and thanks for being part the campaign.
DM Tadpole wrote:
Boring real-life s#+& continues to kick butt. Your patience is appreciated.
The above continues to be true. Tomorrow putting the missus on a plane back home for a 10 day visit back to Vietnam. Might have a bit more free time after that. Although I'll suddenly be having to cook for myself!
Pyotr, Zriorinta and Leodegraine
"If all we believe is true, then this time tomorrow Master Ironcoffer will be recovering."
At these words, Zriorinta tears away her veil to reveal a wide smile. She proceeds to gleefully shed, and even shred her mourning wear, revealing tantalizing glimpses of the curving, ivory contours of her body beneath the torn clothing.
It’s in this state that the apothecary inspects Pyotr’s glaive.
"How am I to know when its power has grown too great?"
“It’s a dangerous balance to strike, for as the pitch of its song rises ever higher, the greater calamity it can inflict upon the arms of your foes, or upon your own fragile flesh. When the screech rings within your head and you grind your teeth at the cacophony, then cast the glaive aside.”
"I think it would be best if you rendered him this honor."
Leodegraine blinks in surprise at the offer, and although her eyes immediately film over with tears at the mention of her master, they also register further surprise at the half-orc. There is even a brief smile of thanks as the young girl takes quill and parchment and writes her remembrance.
In Curbril Wood
1d20 ⇒ 8
Bonegrit leads Pellius and Lhairak into the tangled confusion of vegetation beneath the Curbril Wood’s boughs. The dancing flame of Lhairak’s torch casts around, deepening a sinister shadow here, starkly illuminating the claws of a skeletal branch there. Undeterred, Bonegrit presses on into the wood, his keen senses picking out the game trail that previously led them to Banthorl’s hermitage.
In truth, it doesn’t take long for them to get there, though the creepy surroundings stretch the minutes. Although no light comes from the hut, Bonegrit detects the aroma of a cookfire and deduces that Banthorl is home. This is confirmed when Lhairak calls out a greeting and the boar hide covering the front entrance jerks aside for the tall, scruffy man.
However, it’s immediately apparent that all is not well with Banthorl – a wide bruise stains one eye and his left arm is in a sling. Held clumsily in his right is a rusty old bec de corbin.
“Back for more eh?” he snarls out, squinting at the torchlight as he tries to make out the faces of the intruders.
Pellius may recall that Abram Sharpe pressed his visitors as to who had told them about Navareene when they visited the Court of Knives. Could Banthorl’s injuries bear some connection to this? The PCs did not give away their source, but it seemed Abram already suspected the hermit. Either way, a Diplomacy check will probably be required when speaking to Banthorl.
Although I'm posting this mainly for Kyras' benefit, it could be a useful refresher for all.
The Story So Far
In the fortress city of Vigil, Lastwall’s bastion of defence against the orc hordes of the Hold of Belkzen and the insidious threat of Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant, the enterprising merchant Dierik Ironcoffer recruited four adventurers; Bonegrit, a half-orc trail guard, Delkaneth, a Chelaxian fortune hunter, Dunagan, a dwarven forgemaster and Pyotr, another half-orc; a warrior and ward of the Cathedral of Sancta Iomedea. Dierik’s ambitious (some might say foolhardy) plan was to lead his caravan north through the Hold of Belkzen to the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, to make a fortune on the ivory to hunted or traded for in that distant land. The four adventurers were to aid in the defence of his men and wagons, as well as bringing some unconventional skills and attitudes missing from his regular followers.
With Dierik’s help the four men procured fine horses for the journey. Impressed with Bonegrit’s skill at riding, Dierik asked him to ride his own steed, the magnificent Isabellina’s Arrow, in the upcoming Strander Stakes horse race. The adventurers learnt that Dierik had once been a hero of Vigil, but had gained notoriety for his unchivalrousness, eventually leading him to abandon Lastwall altogether. His surprise return to Vigil and unpopular plan to lead a caravan through the heart of enemy territory had set the tongues of gossips wagging across the city.
Bonegrit won the Strander Stakes whilst his companions disrupted an attempt to fix the race with magic. Bonegrit’s was a controversial victory due to his orcish ancestry and Dierik’s sponsorship, but many of the spectators recognised his horsemanship and the quality of his steed.
During the Strander Stakes a fifth adventurer signed on to Dierik’s venture, a Vigilant scout and magus named Pellius Fullona seeking to find his brother, who had been captured by the orcs of Belkzen. After the race Pellius discovered his old friend, a retired halfling jockey called Caleb Varadin had fled Vigil for parts unknown.
Following the Strander Stakes, Dierik’s caravan departed Vigil, following the Esk upriver to the Ghostlight Marshes and the start of the Flood Road. Their first night on the trail was interrupted by an aging Vigilant knight known as Haisnar Rosencroft. Many years ago Haisnar had lost his love to one of Dierik’s cavalier flirtations, and now demanded satisfaction in the form of a joust. Dierik defeated him easily, but Haisnar treacherously ordered his retainers to attack the merchant. The adventurers intervened, and Haisnar was sent back to Vigil in shame, bearing neither armour nor weapons.
Two days out of Vigil, the caravan encountered a column of wounded Lastwall soldiers returning from a great engagement on the border. An unknown force of orcs, one of the largest hordes of recent years had fought a pitched battle against the forces of Lastwall beside the Ghostlight Marshes. Dierik agreed to travel to the site of the battle and bury the slain men left on the field.
Dierik sent the adventurers ahead to scout the area. At the battlefield they discovered an enormous, crudely constructed representation of the battle god Gorum’s holy symbol constructed by the bodies of butchered humans. They also rescued a paladin, one Modoru Redgrave, a paladin from Castle Firrine who had been left for dead after being trapped beneath a fallen hill giant.
Reuniting with the caravan, they decided to construct a cairn to entomb the fallen men. Before the work could be started, a dog that habitually followed the wagons was lured into the Ghostlight Marshes by a will o’ wisp. The adventurers and Modoru followed, but Pellius, Pyotr and Dunagan opted to return to camp after a battle with twig blights. Bonegrit, Delkaneth and Modoru continued alone, encountering an obtuse, insectoid fey known as the Conductor of the Fens who would only communicate with them through song. They finally found the dog, but were ambushed by a ring of will o’ wisps. The will o’ wisps spoke to them cryptically, briefly attacking Modoru and Delkaneth before disappearing.
With the cairn finished but with clear indications large orcish forces were on the move in the area, Dierik abandoned the Flood Road and instead turned the caravan towards the Freedom Town, a nefarious human enclave of exiles, vagabonds and scoundrels on the edge of the Hold of Belkzen.
One night the adventurers snuck out of camp to explore one of the ruins of Harchrist’s Blockade, one of the forgotten borders of Lastwall past. They battled and destroyed a disgusting carrion golem, which disturbingly bore the face of one of Pellius’ former comrades who had been captured by orcs alongside his brother. They also restored the sanctity of a chapel dedicated to Iomedae’s Saint Lymirin, which had been defiled by a cluster of crawling claws – the hands of cowardly Lastwall who had cut off their own hands to sever the marks of justice that bound them to defend the keep to the death.
They returned to the caravan, battered and bruised, only to receive a thorough dessing-down by Dierik the morning after for abandoning their posts.
The caravan arrived at the Freedom Town with both Pellius and Delkaneth feeling sick following their adventure in the keep. Whilst Pellius recovered, Delkaneth’s fever has only increased. After receiving their pay, the adventurers begun exploring the rundown streets of the Freedom Town. Delkaneth fell in with local sage and drunkard Sleer Huddlegrew, learning much despite the exorbitant cost of this scholarship. The others bore witness to an assassination attempt on Dierik in the middle of the town square. They pursued the old mercenary who’d made this blatant attack and defeated him, only to discover the crossbow bolt he’d fired had been envenomed with a rare and deadly poison.
With the help of Khozin and Alagor, a pair of adventurers living in the Freedom Town, they travelled to the nearby Curbril Wood to consult with the hermit that dwelt there. The hermit Banthorl revealed that the cure for the poison afflicting Dierik was a mushroom that could be found in the Hungry Mountains and that the witch Navareene might be able to offer more counsel on exactly where. Careful negotiation with Abram Sharpe, one of the leaders of the Freedom Town, secured an audience with Navareene, who provided them with a guide, a half-orc magic-user named Agtharda.
This group of seven set out towards the Hungry Mountains to secure the antidote for Dierik, but they hadn’t gotten far when they discovered the half-elf Khozin had stolen an expensive ring from Skaraben Sharpe, one of the Freedom Town’s most influential and dangerous scions. No sooner was this discovery made than a group of ruffians under Skaraben’s employ caught up with the adventurers to demand Khozin and the ring be returned. Knowing a grisly fate awaited Khozin for his foolish act, the adventurers reluctantly defended him, slaying some of his attackers and putting the rest to flight. One of the scoundrels proved to be a dim-witted, aspiring squire named Commor, who served Ser Yevender, an exiled Vigilant knight living in the Freedom Town. Pyotr took him under his wing and spent the next few days fruitlessly trying to teach the idiot true chivalry.
Agtharda guided the adventurers to the mountain known as Taxathar’s Bane, where they entered the Garrison of Arith-Zind, an undead captain in the service of Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant. After battling ghouls and other undead, they confronted Arith-Zind himself. The loquacious wight told them the tale of how Alagor’s sword had slain him as a mortal man, before falling once more to the blade of Pyotr.
The adventurers pursued a tomb mote deeper into the Garrison, having realised the creature was festooned with the rotcrown mushrooms they sought. They cornered the mote in the lair of an inert undead behemoth, and their quest completed wisely opted not to explore the Garrison further. Before retreating Agtharda copied the magical symbols decorating the bones of the silent, motionless monster.
On their way back to the Freedom Town the adventurers came across the camp of a dying Knight of Ozem; Ser Vythes Brightbrooke. With his last breath, Vythes transferred stewardship of his squire Leodegraine, to Ser Pyotr the Bellknight. Meanwhile, Alagor and Khozin elected to head towards Vigil rather than facing the vengeance of Skaraben Sharpe.
Returning to the Freedom Town, Delkaneth, Bonegrit, Pyotr and Pellius hope that their cure will save Dierik from death’s door.
The story continues . . .
Glaive of Resonance
Aura Moderate transmutation CL 16th
The polearm has the qualities of an adamantine glaive+1 in addition to the properties outlined below.
When the glaive of resonance strikes metal it chimes like a bell. This sonic ability can be harnessed by the wielder to shatter items of metal, ceramic, stone, glass and other materials of rigid structure (wooden items are not affected). It is an equally dangerous weapon against constructs of similar materials.
To use this ability, the wielder must first make a successful sunder attempt. This has no effect other than to activate the glaive’s primary power: calamitous pitch.
Calamitous pitch lasts for 1d4+2 rounds and is a sonic effect: a rising, reverberating chiming that continues until its duration expires or immediately ends if the wielder is disarmed or voluntarily releases hold of the glaive of resonance. The effects are as follows.
Successful sunder on the 1st round: calamitous pitch triggered.
Successful sunder on the 2nd round: ignore 20 points of hardness and deals +1d6 extra damage to constructs and items.
Successful sunder on the 3rd round: ignore 25 points of hardness and deals +2d6 extra damage to constructs and items. Target is also deafened for two rounds unless a DC 20 Fortitude save is made.
Successful sunder on the 4th round and any subsequent round: ignores 30 points of hardness and deals +3d6 extra damage to constructs and items. However, there is a 1% chance per total damage inflicted that the glaive of resonance itself reaches critical pitch and explodes. The explosion deals 4d6+5 damage to all within a 10-ft. radius (DC 20 Reflex save for half damage, no save for the glaive’s wielder). In addition, all within 10-ft. are automatically deafened for 1d4 rounds (no save).
Delkaneth seeks out Lunt, who greets him with a smile. The drover is engaged in a little ceremony to honour Remembrance Moon, his dirty grey cap removed to reveal his balding pate. With a smile and a toast of the bottle he carries, he declares the names of fallen friends, before taking a sip of wine and pouring a little on the fire before him. Those who are literate observe a similar custom, but instead write the names of the dead on a parchment (often marked with a pressed flower) and cast it into the flames.
Similar ceremonies are taking place about the camp, but the usually sombre air of such ceremonies is gone with burgeoning hope that no ritual need be played out in Dierik’s name. Crinkles is playing his fiddle, the slow, moving air known as Let Blades Sit Sheathed Forever More, though the halfling can’t resist adding playful trills and ornament to this stately piece.
It seems Lunt has a lot of friends to honour, for he is swaying slightly on his seat. He waves the bottle in the Chelaxian’s direction.
“Darned good wine yer minions brought me! Care to share some?”
As Delkaneth takes a place beside Lunt, the drover passes him a small scroll. “Yer minions also brought a message for you.”
The note reads:
I was surprised and heartened to find that the world’s wayward youth are not completely fibreless, with regard of course to the fibre of the moral. You paid your debt, which is better than I expected of you, though to return to the previously referenced topic of morals, some might question the wisdom of dominating simple street thugs to do your bidding. The mark of a young despot in training, I’ll wager. If such ambitions of tyranny are to take root, a better calibre of toady will no doubt be necessary.
Does moral fibre extend into the realm of courtesy? If so, perhaps I should reconsider my earlier praise. Although the agreed upon sum was appreciated, especially to a struggling wordsmith of little means such as myself, this cannot negate the fact that we had also agreed upon an appointment, which was duly cancelled without notice on your part. Considerable preparations were made in readiness for your visit, all put to naught by your failure to arrive at the appointed hour (or at all). Do you also possess the moral fibre to remedy this breach of etiquette?
I remain most interested in studying your condition, especially in light of the eldritch manifestation reported by Messrs. Killoran and Shang. I would consider numerically compensating you if necessary, should the shame instilled by knowledge of the inconvenience caused by your missed engagement not provide sufficient motivation.
“I wouldn’t have ‘em two louts hanging round the camp,” explains Lunt in reference to Shang and Killoran. “However much you have ‘em cowed, they bashed me noggin. But we’ve made an arrangement that one or the other comes down here every midday to see if I’ve got any errand to make ‘em run.”
Delkaneth previously explained his ruse to Lunt, and the drover doesn’t believe Del to truly be of infernal descent.
As Pyotr’s two companions trail him through the camp, the disgraced Commor once again pipes up.
"Let us find you a spot to lay your bedrolls."
“You said I could go back to Ser Yevender,” he complains, casting a longing glance to where the lights of the Freedom Town glow on the rise above, but a couple of bowshots distance from the caravan’s laager.
However, his captor’s attention is elsewhere – on Zriorinta’s strange wagon. Although the apothecary is not visible, one of her cats is lain out on the leading wheel; the one that turns between the draft ponies that pull the carriage.
"I wonder if you might aid me in identifying the properties of this weapon. I have swung it through a few attacks, but aside from its fine craftsmanship, its unusual material, and a few rumors, I know little about it."
When Pyotr announces himself, the cat turns its head lazily towards the carriage, and immediately movement is heard within. The tiny door at the rear of the carriage pops open, and Zriorinta’s pale, tattooed hand emerges and beckons.
As the half-orc walks around, he sees the Varisian sat pensively in her doorway, green-flamed candles flickering eerily inside her wagon, giving wavering hints of outlines of strange and curious objects; potions, elixirs, strangely shaped branches, glittering orbs, grotesque masks, old tomes, lingerie and slumbering felines. Zriorinta herself is dressed in widow’s weeds with a black veil obscuring her face except the eyes.
“Pyotr the Unwelcome. You’ve returned. Was your mission successful?” she asks hopefully.
Also . . .
Zriorinta takes the weapon from Pyotr and holds it in both hands, whispering arcane words as eldritch light seeps softly from between her closed eyelids.
“Προσδιορίσει του, έτσι ώστε ομπορεί κίνδυνος που ισχύει να γνωρίζει ο για όσους καταχρώνται τη η πανίσχυρη ενέργεια συντονισμού στο εσωτερικό, αλλά και αλλά και αλλά και μαγεία του που αποθηκεύεται.”
When she opens her eyes they glow no more, and Zriorinta explains the weapon’s properties.
“An interesting weapon, but one to be cautious of. It’s built to shatter the arms and armour of those it’s wielded against; finding a resonance so perfect that the things it strikes are blasted asunder. As its pitch builds, so too does its power, and therein lies the danger. Not many of these glaives, said to have been created by the dwarves of Koldukar, remain. Most have been destroyed, blasting themselves apart along with the men that put them to use when their song distorted into a screech.”
I’ll shortly present a proper write-up of the glaive of resonance in the Discussion thread.
To The Curbril Woods
Their torches flickering in a cold, blustery breeze blowing down from the north, the four riders strike out into the night, led by Bonegrit atop Amiro. Riding carefully in the dark, the ranger unwaveringly finds the way back to the outskirts of the Curbril Woods.
The copse being too thick for the horses, the group dismounts.
“I’ll stay here and watch over the animals,” announces Korvus. “We’re not close enough to the town to discount the threat of an opportunistic wolf making a run at the horses.”
Any particular actions before and during Bonegrit, Pellius and Lhairak’s venture into the wood?
Secret Roll: 1d10 ⇒ 2
Over the last few days I've been working with Thron, who DMs the Rise of the Runelords PbP which Bonegrit and I play in, to create a new PC to join our merry band.
Thron's been working up a Summoner, and whilst we're still a few ways of introducing him to the campaign I've invited him to drop in here and introduce himself.
Working on a campaign update at the minute, in between celebrating my birthday (I hope you all sent me a cake).
"Another fast rider would be plenty."
Bonegrit’s question doesn’t get much in the way of a response from his fatigued companions. The brief, uncomfortable silence is broken by Crooked Callan.
“Looks as though they’ve all ridden themselves out barring yourself. Your endurance does you credit Bonegrit. Perhaps I can offer a couple of my own men to escort you to the Curbril Wood whilst the others get some rest?”
Assuming agreement . . .
“Lhairak, Korvus, go and saddle your horses. You’re riding out with the ranger.” Bonegrit’s previously shared watch duty with this pair, and they also stood guard on the thugs that mugged Lunt. Lhairak often shows affection to the dog Shambles, and is thus well-disposed towards Bonegrit.
The two guards ready themselves quickly. Looking out into the darkness nervously, Lhairak speaks: “I know you see well in the dark, but I ain’t so blessed. Mind if me and Korvus light torches?”
As for the others, some options for the evening:
• It’s not too late for Delkaneth or Pellius to feel guilty and offer to join the three riders.
First thank you all again for your affirmations. It inspires me to keep on keeping on with this.
On the fresh blood front, following Bonegrit’s suggestion I’ve had an expression of interest from DM Thron who runs the Rise of the Runelords campaign we both play in. He's a great DM and a reliable poster. Unless anyone has any protests, I’ll take this further and see what transpires.
The plot compendium will undoubtedly be a momentous task – so don’t expect it to appear immediately. Still, I think I’ll approach in small passages, like reading a bedtime story, and see what turns up.
That’s about it for now :-)
As the men and women of the caravan mill around greeting the returning adventurers, Leodegraine stands uncertainly near Bonegrit. Further away, Commor glowers, casting mournful looks in the direction of the Freedom Town.
If someone’s going to get Banthorl tonight, please step forward, oh weary adventurers.
With the latest post we’ve crawled over another landmark – 2,000 gameplay posts – so it seems like as a good a time as ever to ask for your feedback, especially considering posting has been rather lacklustre these last few weeks.
So I guess my first question – how are people feeling about Follow the Flood Road? It does seem to have turned into the War and Peace of these PbP boards, with each page of the thread probably twice as long as the ‘average’ PbP.
That’s of course my fault, and to some degree I’m unrepentant. This is more or less my first foray into this kind of campaign, and I’ve gone with what feels right to me. However, in retrospect I’ve realised the level of immersive ’ness’ that suits me is probably a little strong by most people’s play styles, and whilst it makes for a deep campaign, it also creates a slow one. Thanks for sticking with me.
‘How am I feeling about Follow the Flood Road?’ I (don’t) hear you ask. Well, I still take great enjoyment updating the campaign and reading your responses, and my Campaigns page remains the first page I turn to whenever I go online. That being said, my available free time has certainly narrowed since I began the campaign last year. The new job, rewarding though it is, is a toughie. Borneo’s such an intoxicating place to live I’m more eager to be out in the jungles than sat at my laptop. The last six months have also seen me re-engage with my first love (playing guitar and writing songs) that had lain dormant for a long time. On top of all this, at the end of August I’m starting a distance learning course which (the blurb tells me) will require six or seven hours of study a week. There’re better ways I’d rather spend my time, my professionally now’s the perfect time to do it, so I’d better man-up.
Because of the above I’ll admit there have been moments I’ve questioned, even resented the amount of time I spend on Follow the Flood Road (and the other two games I’m a player in), but at the end of the day it’s a fun and creative outlet for me.
Still, my own pace of posting may remain slow. How are people feeling? If you’re bored with the campaign, perhaps it’s time to knock it on the head. If you’re still very much on board despite the erratic posting, then I’m game to forge ahead.
As I said before, any and all comments on the campaign are welcome. A few observations from myself:
For Whom The Bell Tolls: I’d like to commend Pyotr for being such a regular and dedicated poster. It does very much seem like he’s the prime protagonist, the ‘leader of the gang’ as it were. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but the campaign does rather respond to whatever is driving it forward. Even if you’re standing on the sidelines, post and tell us what the PC is doing (Delkaneth does this quite nicely) – it might well trigger an idea from me or have some bearing on whatever encounter is taking place (as there’s always things going on ‘behind the scenes’ you might stumble across).
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve PC-driven things in store for all, although sometimes they remain far down the line.
Bait & Switch: Three levels, two thousand posts and over a year of play, and we’ve still not fought any orcs, but have fought quite a lot of undead. I’ve half expected Bonegrit to demand a change in his favoured enemy. Still, although it might appear something of a bait and switch, I still consider orcs to be the main ‘thing’ in this campaign. It’s just the scope of my plotting has been vastly more EPIC than I’d anticipated, and there have been so many curious little diversions to explore en route. If Gorum wills it and everyone keeps posting, they’ll be orc-slaying galore … eventually.
Fresh Blood? We did this before and it didn’t work out very well. Khozin got introduced, his player failed to even complete a character sheet, and we ended up with a plot device to baby-sit. As DM I didn’t really mind, because I’m a DM and love plot devices. Furthermore, despite his email to me Alagor’s player has not returned, which is a great shame because I felt the character fitted in great with the vibe we’d developed. He’s been written out in a manner that should make his reintegration fairly easy should he return.
Still, now back down to four PCs, do we continue on as normal or re-open recruitment? The core-four are doing pretty well, so there remains the same argument as before i.e. “let’s not rock the boat”. On the other hand, the return to the Freedom Town once again provides a good opportunity to pick up a couple of extra PCs if we want to try.
The last recruitment drive went poorly, which may have been the result of simply using the same (overly large) recruitment thread. Starting a new recruitment thread might get more in the way of responses.
Transparent DM? One thing I’ve been considering is whether to be more transparent and unsophisticated about my intentions with the story we’re telling. I’ve tended to keep little things unexplained or thrown out little passing clues to things mentioned way back when in the depths of the thread, but perhaps this novelistic approach doesn’t work so well in a play-by-post. When people are being feed the story piecemeal over months, and skimming over a web-page at work just to see if they need to kill anything quick, the subtleties are probably lost..
Perhaps I should use the OOC text to blatantly explain what I’m hinting at, e.g. You’ll recall back on page 24 of the thread it was revealed that Santrian was in fact the insane Golarion-incarnation of Fistandantilus, which is why he’s currently destroying the caravan with ever-so old-skool Melf’s Minute Meteors.
Equally, maybe I should be more flagrant in the direction of the campaign, e.g. (dramatic voice): Next on Follow the Flood Road . . . Dierik Ironcoffer abandons his plans to reach the Realm of the Mammoth Lords in order to set-up an ice-cream shop in the Freedom Town. Over the next few pages of Gameplay Thread the PC will be fighting off thugs from the rival ‘Sharpe’s Sherberts Emporium’ and heading into the Fangwood Forest on a quest to slay the Cream Caramel Bulette, who exudes pure vanilla extract from his anal gland. .
Thoughts? I must acknowledge that despite my worries you’ve been very obliging at gulping down and following most of the major plot-hooks I’ve placed ahead of you.
Plot Compendium: Related to the above, even I’m getting a little bewildered by all the stuff that’s happened in this campaign. I’ve set myself some homework to read back through the Gameplay thread and make a little plot compendium (something I should have created at the beginning if I had any sense) of what’s gone on. The non-secret part of this compendium I’ll share with everyone.
In the meantime, remember we’ve always got the gameplay index and diary of events on the Campaign tab as a quick refresher.
= = = = =
Enough from me. Over to you guys.
"Kelya and Zriorinta should be able to fashion a cure from these."
Kelya is amongst those gathered to welcome the adventurers home. “We can try our best, though my healing skills are a blessing of Desna’s rather than any knowledge of herbalism. But maybe Zriorinta can guide me.”
“But I see your quest has not been without harm.” she continues “Delkaneth, Pyotr, Bonegrit, gather close to me and receive the healing light of Desna.” As the three warriors comply, Kelya whispers a prayer and a surge of white healing light flashing about their wounds.
Delkaneth channel energy: 2d6 ⇒ (3, 3) = 6
"What is the state of things here?"
"How's Dierik? Any trouble from the Sharpes?"
Dierik’s state remains much as it was,” explains Santrian as he leads the adventurers to their paymaster’s tent. “No worse yet no better.”
“Skaraben Sharpe was here, in the company of Marshall Oswald. He took back his ring, and Pellius’ promise of Khozin in chains. I see he is not among you. What befell the thieving half-elf?”
As they trail Santrian wearily through the laager, things in camp remain much as remembered, except the formerly despondent wagonhands are transformed by their heroes’ successful return, uttering cheers and applause on all sides. Shambles trots over to Bonegrit and licks his hand in greeting.
Tharkon remains a prisoner, though given a little more comfort – rather than bound spread-eagled across a wagon wheel he is tethered by a short length of chain to one of the heavy sixbulls. A plate and pitcher show he has at least been fed in the days since the adventurers left. His expression is neutral and guarded as he regards the return of the party.
Bonegrit rounds up the loaned horses and sees them back to the care of First Master Deramil, who is waiting for the return of his charges. After a careful assessment of the three horses, including a pause and a raised white eyebrow as he notices the faint, now-healed scar on the foreleg of the horse Alagor rode and lamed, he turns to the half-orc, smiles, nods, claps Bonegrit on the shoulder and leads the mounts away.
Options: Banthorl Whittles, the hermit of the Curbril Wood, claimed to know how to concoct the cure for Dierik from the black twincap mushrooms, and offered to do so (for a price) when the PCs had returned from the Hungry Mountains. If the PCs go to fetch him, will they do so now (at night), or wait until the morning?
Otherwise, Kelya and Zriorinta can try to concoct the cure alone, but there’s a small chance they might fail and ruin the ingredients. You may recall Zriorinta was convinced that there was no cure for the poison affecting Dierik.
Khozin smiles to all of them, slips elegantly from the saddle of Deramil’s horse, walks across to Tarkh’s mount, puts a foot in the stirrup, and vaunts himself astride the stallion. As he turns the beast southwards, another voice halts him.
“Just a moment.” Alagor raises his hand, his face troubled. He sighs. “There’s no doubt Khozin caused a lot of trouble for all of us, and stealing from Skaraben Sharpe is about the dumbest thing he’s done on a long list of foolishness. But he’s also been a good friend to me as I’ve tried to get by here in the Freedom Town. He’s made a powerful enemy within those walls, and I’d at least make sure he gets a safe distance away from here before he strikes out alone.”
Alagor also dismounts, far more awkwardly than the half-elf, and goes to join Khozin, climbing into the saddle behind him.
“You’d best ride,” he instructs Khozin, before turning once more to look at those with whom he’s formed a bond of blood. “I hope those mushrooms do the trick, and Dierik recovers swiftly. Don’t be surprised if I reappear in your camp a few days hence, but if the caravan is ready to depart don’t wait on me.”
Alagor raises an arm in salute, his greatclub and twin greatswords dancing in their harnesses as Khozin kicks the tired horse into a canter along the trail leading towards Lastwall.
The party continues on towards the Freedom Town and Dierik’s encampment. As they get within walking distance of the Vigilgate, it’s Agtharda’s turn to rein in her horse.
"You have my thanks for taking part in this expedition. We have one last duty to perform. Let us deliver these twincaps to Kelya. I have no doubt Dierik Ironcoffer will wish to extend his thanks to you, when he is made hale and whole."
Agtharda nods in return to Pyotr’s smile, her own ugly features hidden in the depths of her cowl. She reaches into her sack and retrieves the three mushrooms claimed in the Garrison of Arith-Zind, which she places carefully in Pyotr’s waiting hands. Then the half-orc dismounts, handing her reins to Leodegraine, and begins to walk up the gently sloping hill towards the Vigilgate.
With that, Pyotr, Delkaneth, Bonegrit, Pellius, Leodegraine and Commor ride back into the caravan’s encampment just as real darkness is beginning to shroud the land.
One of the guards spots their approach, and his cry quickly rouses the camp. Second Master Santrian is at the forefront of those running out to meet the party. “Were you successful?” he asks earnestly.
For those who’re understandably struggling to recall the state of play when you set out for the Hungry Mountains back in January (real time).
• Tharkon was captured, his gear sold, with the promise to turn him over to Marshall Oswald should he survive whatever punishment the caravan exacted upon him.
Looks like we're finally shot of Khozin and richer 300 gp then. With no word from Alagor's player, the big swordsman will probably be going with him, for later reintegration if he reappears.
That beings said, I've got a busy night ahead of me, so probably won't be getting another post up for at least 24 hours.
By email Alagor said he'd be rejoining the campaign last weekend. I'm hoping he'll post over this weekend, but if he doesn't, I'll have him accompany Khozin, looking after his friend for (at least) some of his journey. In which case, if Alagor does return to us later on, he can slot back in easily enough by returning to camp.
Quibbles: @ Delkaneth: the ring has already been returned to the caravan, so Del can’t really glance at it.
"Ride? That's optimistic of you, isn't it? Im sure you could talk to Deramil about buying that horse. But Im also sure he wouldn't accept stolen Sharpe coin to pay for it."
“A fair point. But like I said before, the belt pouch you took from me was not coin stolen from Skaraben.”
He points to the spare steed, the warhorse once ridden by the mighty Tarkh (one of the warriors slain by the PCs in the band that came after Khozin). “Were you really planning to return that horse to the Sharpes? There’s three hundred in gold in that pouch. It’s yours for the horse. You likely won’t get a deal that good back in town.”
Pyotr has the purse, and it does indeed contain the amount claimed by Khozin. However, the half-elf earlier admitted most of the money was stolen from ‘deserving’ inhabitants of the Freedom Town (but not the Sharpes).
Watching Delkaneth move to block him, Khozin holds up his hands.
“But it’s not worth getting upset over. I can walk just as well as the next man.”
"I'm sure they'd be willin' to take ya on formal-like if it strikes yer fancy. Never know when a deft pair o' hands might come in handy in Belkzen, yeah?"
Khozin smiles warmly, seemingly genuine surprised and touched by the half-orc’s offer. “It’s good to know this trip hasn’t solely been about making enemies. But as a key and a lock, I think we’re a stiff fit. Good luck to you, but as far as I’m concerned, Belkzen’s a door barred shut.”
Unaware of their distant audience, the adventurers ride on, pressing their horses to make up for lost time. Leaving the treacherous foothills of the Hungry Mountains behind them, their pace increases as they cross the flat moorlands east of the Freedom Town.
The day is almost done when the Freedom Town’s low walls of sharpened stakes make an appearance on the horizon. It is here that Khozin Ryovaldii reins in his own mount. The beast snorts as he pulls it up short.
“Well my fellows, it’s time for us to part ways. It’s been a fun little escapade, this expedition into the Hungry Mountains, and Alseta certainly approves our opening of those fanggates and exploring the Garrison of Arith-Zind. And do I regret the trouble I caused you all after we set out, and the bloodshed that ensued.”
He turns to Alagor, his companion from the Freedom Town. “I’m riding south for Lastwall. Care to join me, or do your fortunes lie within the dangers of the Hold of Belkzen?”
Of course, the horse Khozin sits upon is not his but rather one of caravan’s, a fact the half-elf is no doubt aware of though he does not mention it.
Although Commor breaks away from Leodegraine, the imposing bulk of Torshen’s Hammer swiftly halts any further flight. Commor stamps in frustration then folds his arms, staring at the ground.
“I just wanna go back to the Freedom Town.” he moans.
Thanks to Khozin’s healing, the horses are once again ready to ride, and the company mounts up quickly, hoping they can still make the palisades of the Freedom Town before nightfall. Commor plonks himself on his steed, silently acquiescing to Pellius as the magus ties a lead rope to Signior. Bonegrit does the same for Alagor, the big swordsman shrugging helplessly at his earlier tumble.
The adventurers set off once more.
Perception DC 15:
On a rise beneath where the carrion birds circle, a distant mounted figure can be seen.
Perception DC 20:
On a rise beneath where the carrion birds circle, a distant mounted figure can be seen. The slouching, sloping figure of both steed and rider suggest orc and wolf over man and horse. The distance is far too great to be sure, but the rider appears to be regarding the company.
Leodegraine's AoO grapple check: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Leodegraine is regarding Commor’s antics with some disgust, but also a little charity. Still, she does not hesitate when Pyotr orders her after the man into whose boots she appears to have stepped.
Unfortunately though, her compassion seems to get the best of her. Commor, like a very big child having a tantrum, shrugs off the slighter Leodegraine’s attempts to contain him with an incoherent shout. He continues his stumbling run away from the party.
And is now 30-feet away.