Naze Valley Rangers

A Favor for Majid
The Rangers Scout the Gnoll Territories

This adventure completed in May after two sessions of play, one in April and one in May. Much was learned about the goings-on in the Gnoll Territories, very little of which was comforting to anyone else.

I’m behind in my write-ups for this campaign, but will catch up by the end of July. My apologies for the delay.

UPDATE: OK, so it’s now September and I haven’t made the update yet. Mea culpa. We didn’t have a session in June, but did in July, August, and September. I’m writing up the September adventure log now and will go back and backfill the July and August sessions.

What’s keeping me busy? Read here: Bugbears for Breakfast

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Inter-Mission 3
The Election and Aftermath.

This session happened March 27th, 2010, and is reported might late. Sorry about that.

Dramatis Personae:

Events:

A week after the election petition was confirmed, on the first day of the Harvest Festival, the election for the new mayor of New Applegrove was held. Per tradition, festivities could not start until the election was completed. This motivated the townsfolk to vote early and properly. Voting was done by handing each voter (once certified and signed in) three clay marbles – one black, one white, and one gray. The black marble represented Isen Cowhunter (the previous mayor), the white one (Malkion the Bold, the dragon), and the gray one Bogdashka of Presnensk (the drunken owned of the town’s eponymous apple grove and brewer of Scrumple). The voter dropped the marble of their candidate into the voting urn and the other two into the discard urn. Once the town scribe confirmed that everyone had voted, the marbles in the voting urn were counted and the total number of marbles was compared to the number of voters to verify they were the same and no one had dropped in more than one marble. (If there were more marbles than voters then the entire process had to be repeated and the drinking put off longer. Not surprisingly, this rarely happened.)

Once the total number of votes was verified, the actual count took place inside the town government building. Then the candidates (or in the case of Malkion, his representative) were called in and told the results. Isen Cowhunter’s exclamation of “What?!” was clearly heard in the street, indicating to those waiting that he had not won the election. Money changed hands amongst those betting on the outcome of the election.

Sheriff Oakshield and the candidates (and representative) stepped out onto the front steps and the sheriff announced that Bogdashka had one the election and was the new mayor. The crowd roared its approval and turned to start the festival. More money changed hands amongst those betting, netting a few new fortunes. Ex-mayor Cowhunter was heard to say “This is not the last you’ve heard from me on this,” before stalking away.

While the townsfolk started the business of the celebrating the Harvest Festival, the sheriff called in the Rangers and suggested they escort Malkion’s representative to Rheged’s Tower to break the bad news to the dragon. Clem agreed and sent Katan to round up the wizard for the magical support he had promised the Rangers in exchange for the return of his spell book. Cranky as even, Rheged reluctantly agreed, hoping to get his tower back as well. Clem assigned Dav and Thar to stay at the town in case things went bad at the tower. The group then made the 30 minute walk to the tower.

Leaving the dragon’s assistant on the first floor, the Rangers and Rheged broke the bad news to Malkion that he had lost the election. Both sides verbally danced around starting any violence, but as Malkion tried to leave for a flight to “work out his disappointment”, Rheged had finally had enough and cast a lightning bolt at the dragon. The spell fizzled out against the dragon’s spell resistance and only elicited the statement, “Oh. So it’s going to be like that, is it.” With that the fight started.

The combat against the dragon was hard fought. Owen had to jump out the window to avoid being killed by Malkion (luckily, Dav’s rope was still hanging there). Katan and Clem were both seriously injured in the fight and would have been killed if Rheged’s last spell had not finally penetrated the dragon’s spell resistance. Rheged voiced Malkion’s doom, cursing him to die in this tower. The pall of his immanent doom gave Malkion pause, allowing the Rangers to finish him off before he finished them.

Many healing spells and potions were then used by the Rangers. The dragon’s carcass was then pushed out of the tower and Rheged used Tenser’s floating disk to haul it back to town, announcing the Rangers as dragon-slayers to get the crowd out of the way. It worked. (It also publicly shifted any possible blame away from Rheged to the Rangers.)

After meeting with the sheriff to satisfy legal matters, the carcass was hauled to a butcher and leather-worker for processing. Dragon steaks were given away freely and enough hide was saved to make dragon scale boots for Ranger Team Rollins, Rheged, and Count Adrik. The Harvest Festival continued on without incident.

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Inter-Mission 2
The Dragon Runs for Mayor. Seriously.

This session happened February 27.

Dramatis Personae:

Events:

After the rather tense delivery of the mortal remains of Rheged’s deceased apprentice to the Staffthrasher Clan, Sheriff Ed Oakshield, Rheged the Wizard, and Ranger-Sergeant Clem Rollins were returning to the Rat’s Bastard Sword Inn in New Applegrove, where the rest of Ranger Team Rollins awaited. While the three of them were on the street, just outside the Inn, a large green dragon landed on the roof of the Temple of Amangpara across the street and bellowed that it now claimed dominion over the village and surrounding area.

The sheriff and Clem, as the duly appointed representatives of the count, verbally disagreed and the dragon breathed a caustic cloud of acid on them to makes its point as to who was now in control. This dropped the sheriff to his knees, but Clem and Rheged avoided the worst of it, though the wizard nearly died anyways.

Ranger Team Rollins rolled out of the inn and to the attack. While Clem pulled the unconscious sheriff out of the line of fire, the rest of the team flanked the dragon (which had landed to kill Oralon after a near miss with a lightning ball spell), Dav Moonbow acrobatically leaping onto the dragon’s back to attack. Clem then stepped out into the street and bellowed in a voice of unimpeachable authority that the dragon was to surrender immediately or leave town.

Facing an unexpectedly stiff resistance to its attempt at dominion and feeling the righteous waves of anger from the still steaming paladin, the dragon blinked and chose to flee. It immediately flew off, nearly taking Dav with it – she acrobatically dismounted with a practiced leap to the roof of an adjacent building. This left Clem (rather pleasantly surprised to still be alive) and the astounded citizenry of New Applegrove watching it leave.

After providing the sheriff with enough healing to stabilized his wounds, the team immediately made for the Fane of the Just, the local temple to Murthdrya Natea, for healing, carrying the sheriff with them. Dav stayed behind on the roof and watched to see where the dragon flew off to and observed it landing on and taking possession of Rheged’s wizard tower on the outskirts of the towns dominion.

After getting healed up at the Fane, the sheriff and Ranger Team Rollins went to talk with the mayor (Isen Cowhunter) to see if the team could acquire something to protect against the acid. This was the first time the team had met the mayor. In fact, they were somewhat surprised there was a mayor – they thought the sheriff ran the town. As it turned out, the mayor is a career administrator and the rangers were not impressed with him at all. After some verbal sparring, the Mayor led the team across the street to the Temple of Amangna and browbeat a goodly number of potions out of the young and frightened acolyte there (“the dragon landed on the roof!”).

With a small number of potions of acid resistance and cure light wounds, the team planned their assault of the wizard’s tower. Rheged was convinced by Dav to provide a hand-drawn map of his tower, showing where the rooms were and a short description of the rooms. As Rheged was expecting to talk to grieving relatives today and not fight a dragon, he had no combat spells ready and all of his books were in his tower. With the dragon. This meant that the map was all the support he was able to supply.

The team put together a plan and headed out early the next morning to attack the tower. Along the way, they started discussing an alternate strategy – convincing the dragon to run for mayor. At first this was just a jest, but as they discussed it, they found that it actually might work. At the very least it would delay the need to fight the dragon until the rangers could get more assistance from the count.

Arranging themselves for a fight, the team entered the tower and opened a parley with the dragon. They learned the dragon’s name (Malkion the Bold) and made their pitch about the dragon running for mayor. Owen Sands waxed elegant on the subject, pointing out the many benefits of being mayor and the recognized authority for the surrounding area. The dragon was still keen on its initial plan (kill anyone that opposed it), but was talked around to at least consider the possibility. Malkion gave them two days to provide evidence that he could, indeed, run for mayor.

Back in the village, the current mayor was appalled by the plan, to say the least. He deferred answering any questions on elections for a day and had the rangers (politely) kicked out of his office. The sheriff was amused at the idea, especially at how ruffled it made the mayor’s feathers. He led the rangers over to the town’s de facto scribe, Nai’ianhal, an elven naturalist and part-time scribe.

(NOTE: this is the first full-blooded elf all but Dav have ever seen, making this a rare situation for the PCs.)

After consulting over the town charter and the various county laws, it was determined that there was no law specifically prohibiting a dragon from running for mayor. The wording that allowed humans, dwarves, halfings, half-orcs, and orcs to hold positions of authority also allowed the dragon to run, or at the very least the wording did not proscribe it.

Clem thanked Nai’ianhal for his time and a copy of the town charter (and relevant electoral laws) and the team left. Clem dispatched Dav to the county seat of Old Sandy-on-Naze to warn Count Adrik what was happening and why and asking for instructions. Clem, Owen, Thar, and Katan headed back to the tower to present proof that it was possible for the dragon to run for mayor and what steps needed to happen first (mostly get a third of the populace to sign a petition that an election was necessary). After reading the material, the dragon concurred and filled out the paperwork to get the petitions posted.

This left Clem and the rangers in a bit of a quandary. They were fairly certain that having Malkion as mayor was not necessarily a good thing, but could not, in good conscience just attack the dragon after advocating the non-violent solution (at least Clem could not, and she was in charge). The sheriff pointed out that the dragon had damaged the inn, attacked county officials (himself and Clem), and unlawfully seized another’s property (Rheged’s tower) and he, the sheriff, had the authority to levy fines. If the dragon refused to pay the fines…

Clem decided to wait for a reply from the count, expecting clear guidance in his reply.

Elsewhere

Dav and her red deer mount made the four day ride to Old Sandy-on-Naze in three days. There she put in Clem’s report and a requisition for magical support for attacking a green dragon. After waiting several hours for the report to percolate up through the chain of command, she met with Theothan Balboshin, Advisor to the Count, to confirm the details of the report. After a 30 minute discussion, he left to report directly to the Count, asking Dav to stay available at the Ranger Headquarters and keep quiet about this.

Several hours later Dav met again with Theothan Balboshin and he delivered to her a set of scroll tubes containing the Count Adrik’s instructions. Theothan instructed Dav to leave in the morning and make all haste back to New Applegrove. He explained that Count Adrik was now assembling the County Militia and County Guard in preparation of marching against the dragon if “things went wrong”. He also warned that Ranger Team Rollins and its leader had put the count in an awkward position and he was not happy. It would be best if they resolved the situation soonest.

Dav set out early the next morning.

End Elsewhere

Dav returned to New Applegrove to find that the dragon had collected enough signatures to force an election. It had done this by visiting the various farms and announcing it had a petition for the residents to sign and that it would wait there until they signed it. The farmers asked themselves, “Who would decline a dragon?” and signed the petition. “After all,” they thought, “it’s not like we are actually voting for the dragon – its just a petition.”

Clem read the count’s instructions and was not comforted by them. The public part simply stated that if the election happened and was run legally, he would honor it. It included specific instructions to the winner, including the requirement of a very strong oath of loyalty to the count. The private part of the message stated that if things went bad, the count was holding Clem solely responsible for suggesting this course of action to the dragon.

Clem met a final time with the dragon, explaining the stringent conditions the count was placing on any new mayor. The dragon read them over and stated it could work within that framework. Clem then delivered the sheriff’s list of charges and fines for crimes the dragon had committed. The dragon read them and consulted the town charter and the copy of the laws it had acquired.

It then paid the fines, asking for a receipt of payment.

Clem’s last hope of getting the dragon to balk was gone. She no longer had any legal pretext to go after the dragon or stop the election from happening.

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Inter-mission
Taking Care of Business

This session happened January 16. There was no December session due to the holidays and my needing to read through the final release of the Pathfinder RPG.

Dramatis Personae:

Events:

Ranger Team Rollins spent a month patrolling around the slowly growing Three Circles Fort and discretely converting the “finders fee” that they were able to squirrel away from the Dominion tomb they uncovered. A team bag of holding was purchased to ease the packing of supplies. Oralon was able to have a second restoration cast on himself in New Crosswalshire, finally removing the last of the after effects from the raise dead spell.

Owen Sands hired Edric Greenaxe to travel to Dwarven Shogunate, purchase enough mithral for some medium armor, and then bring it back. Owen gave Edric 1000 Gold Marks for travel expenses, fee, and front money with a promise to pay the balance when Edric returns with the mithral. Allowing for 3 months travel time each way and a month in the Shogunate for purchases and research, Edric should return in seven months, during the week of Ash 8, 151 NC (roughly March the following year).

Finally, the entire team had various items enchanted or constructed or both.

After this month had passed (Vine 15, 150 NC), Clem was called in by Ranger-Captain Brogan Cedargold. The Ranger-Captain had received a request for assistance from Edlin Oakshield, sheriff of New Applegrove. As Clem’s team was available (and to his eye starting to look a little out of practice), he was sending them to New Applegrove to assist the sheriff. Clem gathered the team and they rode to New Applegrove.

In New Applegrove they met Kolenka of the Watch again at the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office. Kolenka went and got “Ed”, who explained the situation. Rheged the Wizard, a wizard who lives in a tower near the village, reported some sort of plant creature came out of the forest and killed his apprentice, who was working in the garden. As the apprentice was a Staffthrasher, Ed needs a quick resolution on this to avoid any politics. As the village is nearly filled up with migrant workers for the harvest that is about to start, Ed’s people are spread thin. Kolenka would take the rangers out to Rheged’s tower.

Kolenka walked the rangers over to Rheged’s tower and made the introductions. Rheged is a bit abrupt and gives off the air of one who is not completely answering your questions. After questioning Rheged, the ranger team went to look at his garden while Rheged locked himself back in his tower. After seeing the knocked down wall and the disturbed crops in the vegetable garden, the team decided they were likely facing a shambling mound that had wandered in from the deep forest in the east.

Clem tracked the shambling mound for an hour and seemed to lose the trail at that point when it attacked from ambush! After a short, intense fight, the rangers defeated the shambling mound. Using shovels, they are able to pull it apart and rescue some of the remains of the dead apprentice to return to Rheged. In a sack.

After reporting back to Kolenka at the sheriff’s office what they found and how they resolved it, the team walked across the street to Rat’s Bastard Sword Inn for drinks and rooms to sleep. Tomorrow it’s back to the fort.

End of session.

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Pungent Spices - Session 2
Conclusion

This session happened November 21, 2009, but was not documented until later.

Dramatis personae:
  • Sergeant-Ranger Clementine “Clem” Rollins (Ranger/Paladin)
  • Ranger Owen Sands (Rogue)
  • Ranger Oralon Skycaller (Sorcerer)
  • Ranger Sereah (Cleric)
  • Ranger Dav Moonbow (Monk)
  • Ranger Thar (Barbarian)
  • Ranger Lily (Wizard)

Events:

Returning from New Crosswalshire, Ranger Team Rollin checked in at Three Circles Fort, before resuming their search of the forest for the goblin raiders. They were presented with Oralon’s replacement, a wizard named Lily. Apparently, the Ranger-Captain (Brogan Cedargold) was not optimistic about the team’s ability to get Oralon raised and brought in a replacement. Not having anything else to do with her, the Ranger-Captain still assigned Lily to Clem’s team. Clem, willing to take on another spellcaster, graciously accepted.

Retrieving Grubnuz, the team headed east, back into the forest. After three relatively eventless days, Grubnuz indicated that the home of the Dead Stones tribe was over the next hill. Owen and Dav scouted ahead while the rest stayed back. At the crest of the hill, Owen and Dav spotted smoke from the goblin camp but could not see the camp itself. They climbed trees for a better view and could see that the tribe lived in some sort of large depression or depressions in the floor of a valley between two hills, with the ruins of a very old shrine of some sort between the depressions. They also saw some goblins and an ogre! After a quick consultation, it was agreed that Dav would return and report while Owen kept an eye on the camp.

After listening to the report and questioning Grubnuz some more, the team realized that when Grubnuz had been saying “Big Bones” he meant all three ogres and not just one thing named Big Bones. Taking a clue from some of Grubnuz’s off-hand comments, Clem negotiated with Grubnuz for the help of the goblin tribe against the ogres. Clem agreed to back Grubnuz as chieftain if the tribe would help take down the ogres (or at least not interfere). The agreed attack time was just after sunset, when the goblins would sound out their drums, indicating the rangers should attack. With that agreement, Grubnuz was let free and he went to the goblin camp.

In the meantime, Clem moved the rangers to a new spot near the crest of the hill they were hiding behind, in case Grubnuz turned against them (voluntarily or not) and to keep the goblin camp under scrutiny. Time passed, until the goblins started gathering a lot of wood and other activities could be heard from inside the depressions. Owen and Dav moved in closer to determine what was going on. They were able to get close enough to hear various goblin shouts and determined that the goblins were preparing for some sort of festival. They also got a much better look at the goblin “camp”.

The two depressions the camp was in were not natural. They appeared to be the lower levels of the shrine in the center, now heavily overgrown with vines and plants. The very worn carvings Dav could see reminded her of figures she had seen in some of her history books back at the monastery. They were carvings from the time of the Dominion! After a short conversation via hand signals, Owen and Dav agreed that Dav should return back to the rangers and report. She did so. The news that this was an old Dominion site, possibly a tomb received mixed reactions from the team. Tombs mean treasure, but Dominion tombs could contain things best not set free. Clem decided to concentrate on the ogres first.

As the sun set, the rangers moved in closer to the goblin camp and made preparations. They could hear a large number of goblins assembling, plus the three ogres, but it was all below ground level and out of their sight. When the sun finally set, large fires were lit (the rangers could see the glow from them) and an aged goblin started to speak, telling a story of the tribe. The rangers waited. Eventually, the story started approaching its climax and several big drums started beating. It was the signal!

The rangers crept across the final distance to the edge of the camp and could finally see down inside. The structure was indeed artificial, with the stone floor 20 ft below the surface of the ground. The elder goblin, a shaman of some sort, was at one end, telling the story to the goblin tribe, sitting in front of him, behind which sat the three ogres. From their position, the rangers were nearly right over the ogres, a perfect place to attack from. On the stage with the shaman was Grubnuz, surreptitiously looking around, apparently waiting for the rangers to attack. The rangers did not disappoint.

According to plan, Lily made the first move, casting a fireball directly on the center ogre, but high enough to avoid hitting the goblins in front of them. This was followed quickly by bow and crossbow shots from the rest of the rangers and lightning rays from Oralon. In almost more time than it takes to tell, all three ogres were dead. The goblins were awed by the rangers attack and Grubnuz looked clearly proud of himself for making such strong allies.

Just before anyone got to do more than take stock of the fact that the ogres were dead, one of the stone walls fell over, exposing a previously hidden tunnel. Out poured seven figures wrapped in bandages from head to toe, each wearing golden amulets and jewelry. Dominion tomb guardians! The mummies also carried ancient bronze swords which they proceeded to use, immediately attacking anyone they could get to, including Thar (who had charged down to get into hand-to-hand combat with the ogres and failed, because the ogres died too quick). Nearly a dozen goblins were killed before the rest panicked and fled, scrambling away and up the vines to ground level.

The rangers moved to support Thar and cover for the goblin escape, shooting down at the mummies with bows, crossbows, and spells. The mummies were unusually resistant to fire attacks and most bow attacks, forcing the rangers to cluster around the stairwell up, bottling up the mummies and concentrating the team’s attacks on each one. After a hard fight, the rangers gradually destroyed each mummy in turn, but using up some of their healing magic to keep Thar alive.

Once the mummies were destroyed, Grubnuz returned to the rangers, explaining that this spot was too dangerous for the Dead Stones to stay. He was leading his tribe away towards “sun-comes-up” to find a better place. The rangers said their good byes and then (once the goblins had all left) got to the serious business of investigating the tomb.

The tomb had filled up with silt from flooding in the past. Some time more recently, the mummies had been awakened and started digging their way out. The rangers found piles of dirt and narrow channels for them to walk through. They found where the mummies had rested and another chamber where other mummies had been destroyed by water and rotting. The rangers found an altar made out of a solid piece of jade, heavily stained with past sacrifices. Beyond the altar was the actual tomb, which comprised of two chambers. One chamber was full of grave goods made of gold and precious gems. The other chamber contains a huge stone sarcophagus, still sealed against the ages. Not wanting to awaken anything, the rangers (wisely) left the sarcophagus alone.

Dav and Thar were sent back to Three Circles Fort to report the finding to the Ranger-Captain and organize a retrieval of the grave goods, while the rest took the time to cleanse the jade altar and then break it apart, hoping to forestall awakening whatever was in the sarcophagus. Back at the fort, the Ranger-Captain pointed out that the Count would be claiming the entire find, as was his right, so Clem should put together an inventory of everything that was being turned over. Dav and Thar noticed he had not said “everything found” just “everything turned over” and reported this back to Clem when they returned with supplies and a donkey-drawn cart. Clem, understanding what he meant, made certain to set aside something for her uncle and chose not to notice that the other rangers secreting some “trade goods” for later use, which had been unofficially authorized.

End of Session.

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Pungent Spices - Session 1, Part 2
Plot hooks away!

These events are Part 2 of the October 24 session, after the death of Oralon Skycaller. It provides an excellent example of how a player character death can be used to seed the game with plot hooks.

Each carrying part of the remains of Oralon, Clem, Owen, and Thar made their way back to Three Circles Fort with Grubnuz the goblin in tow. Clem felt obliged to do something for Oralon as she was the one who pressed him into service in the County Rangers. Clem reported what had happened to Ranger-Captain Brogan Cedargold and asked if there was anything at the construction site that could be done to return Oralon to the living.

Sadly, the answer was “no”.

The best the Ranger-Captain could do was allow Team Rollins leave to go to New Crosswalshire and seek help at the Pantheon Temple there. He also offered some discretionary funds to assist, to the tune of 2000 Gold Marks. If nothing else, it would be enough to see that Oralon received a proper burial and (small) memorial statue. Dav Moonbow had returned from the Moon Mountain Ruins and rejoined the team at this point.

Team Rollins headed out on horseback, knowing time was of the essence. They left Grubnuz at the fort to avoid unnecessary complications in New Crosswalshire. After two days of hard riding, they arrived in New Crosswalshire and made their way to the Pantheon Temple. There they met with Fadeyka Sarskia, priestess of the Ninaha Kudu and high priestess of the Pantheon Temple. After a quick consultation, Ranger Team Rollins learned two things: they did not have enough coinage to make the necessary donation to the temple and that no one in New Crosswalshire was capable of casting raise dead on Oralon, even if they had the coinage. But, Fadeyka knew there was a Druid of the Old Faith in Greenvasser who could, if he would consent to traveling to New Crosswalshire. Sympathetic to the Ranger’s cause, she agreed to perform a sending to inquire if the old Druid would agree to the ritual. A positive answer was quickly obtained by a return sending. The Team turned over Oralon’s remains to Temple initiates for ritual preparation while they looked for enough coinage for the temple offering.

Clem and Dav went to talk with Majid of the Three Rings. The few things the team had to sell needed to be sold to maximum result to raise funds and they hoped Majid could point them in the right direction. After listening to Clem’s explanation, Majid offered a counter-proposal: he would loan the Rangers 3000 gold in exchange for repayment, a token item of value to the Rangers as a promissory token, and the promise that they would enter the Gnoll Territories in the next year to gather information on a new gnoll relic Majid had heard rumors of. After further discussion as to what exactly Majid wanted (he wanted an accurate description of the relic, a statue, in order to determine its potential source), Clem agreed to his terms, committing Ranger Team Rollins to enter the Gnoll Territories. Dav Moonbow handed over her holy symbol, one of two gifts from her human father she had been allowed to keep by her elven family, as the promissory token.

Two days later, a small party of Druids arrived from Greenvasser. As the maximum limit of time allowed between a death and a casting of raise dead was approaching, the ritual was performed immediately, along with a single casting of restoration. The next day, a whole and mostly restored Oralon rejoined the team. He was suitably chastened by the debts incurred by the team in his name and promised to never again remain allow an enemy or dangerous animal to get that close to him. Fadeyka also informed Clem that the old Druid had required a favor of Fadeyka in exchange for the ritual, obliging Ranger Team Rollins to owe Fadeyka yet another favor in the future. Clem accepted this with good grace.

Ranger Team Rollins left New Crosswalshire, owing many people many things, but with all members once again accounted for and alive.

End Session.

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Pungent Spices - Session 1, Part 1
Bears. Why did it have to be bears?

This session happened October 24. This is Part one of the Adventure Log, detailing the death of Oralon.

Ranger Team Rollins has returned to where Three Circles Fort is being constructed after spending a very active time in New Crosswalshire, including celebrating the Summer Festival there (a holy week between the months of Oak and Holly celebrating the midpoint of the year and the midpoint of summer). They found construction on the fort proceeding well, with the land leveled and the outer stone wall being constructed. A small wooden fort sits to the side of the site, where the workers sleep and the building supplies are kept.

Reporting in to Ranger-Captain Cedargold, Ranger-Sergeant Clem Rollins learned that Ranger Team Faranson (the second team of rangers assigned to the fort) was now scouting the area north, keeping an eye on the gnoll fort nearing completion at Gnoll’s Crossing. The Captain had also decided to station Katan Valofor at the Moon Mountain Ruins for as long as the Redbird Expedition was there digging – there had been some minor gnoll raids on the site that Katan had been essential to stopping. Clem would need to send some of her team to pass on his official orders.

Additionally, construction on Three Circles Fort was keeping up with its schedule, but some small metal items have started disappearing from the construction stores. If it keeps up, the fort will run over budget and completion might be delayed while waiting on replacement pieces. Further, three guard dogs were placed around the supply building, but one was killed two nights ago as part of the theft. Ranger-Captain Cedargold assigned Ranger Team Rollins to determine who or what was stealing supplies and put a stop to it.

Clem assigned Dav Moonbow and Sareah to go to the Moon Mountain Ruins to deliver Katan his new orders. She then took Thar, Oralon, and Owen to investigate the stolen supplies. They found a trail of some sort of humanoid with small feet and loose section of the wooden outer wall of the temporary fort.

After getting a carpenter to fix the outer wall, the team followed the trail east, into the deeper portions of the forest. After a couple hours of travel, they came upon an owlbear, which attacked (after Oralon cast web on it). It quickly went down to their attacks. Owlbears are not normally known to be in the central portion of Naze Valley, so finding one this close was unusual. As it was Noon, Clem field dressed the owlbear and the team had owlbear steaks for lunch.

After breaking camp (and properly putting out the fire), the team followed the small tracks further east until Clem was certain she had lost them. Backtracking a bit, Clem picked up the trail of the owlbear and decided to follow that for a while. It seemed to head more directly east than the small humanoid tracks, which tended to wander quite a bit. At a small stream, the team both found the makers of the small humanoid tracks and were ambushed by them!

Nearly 20 balna sprang from ambush, unleashing a mighty war cry and brandishing their weapons. Team Rollins was not impressed and sprang into action. Owen charged to the left, engaging a group of six balna there. Oralon cast web on the central group, catching many of them in the sticky strands, while Thar stepped forward to receive the charge of the balna on the right. Clem calmly prepared a bottle of alchemist’s fire and threw it into the webs, where it quickly started to burn. The balna trapped in the webs were now highly motivated to get escape.

In the ensuing fight, the balna leader charged Clem, riding on his balna dog. Oralon blasted apart one of the balna with his lightning ray and then turned to point at the balna leader, shouting out, “You’re next!” Clem promptly placed two crossbow bolts into the balna leader, one in each eye, bringing Oralon’s prophecy quickly true. This caused the remaining balna to turn and flee the battle (except those still trapped in the web as the flames quickly burned their way to them).

After catching her breath a bit (and letting a few more balna burn alive in the flaming webs), Clem called out to the lone balna not yet burned, “Surrender or die!” Not liking the “or die” option, the balna immediately surrendered. Oralon dispelled the webs, instantly extinguishing the fire. The balna then asked for food.

Clem and Owen questioned the balna while Thar and Oralon searched the bodies for items missing from the fort construction site. They found several, confirming that the balna were the thieves. Clem learned that the balna were raiding this far west because someone or something it referred to as “Big Bones” had taken over its tribe and sent the balna to raid for “good stuff”. “Big Bones” had come from the “sun comes up,” indicating that something was going on out to the east. The team continued east with Grubnuz the balna showing them the way (on a leash).

After several more hours of moving through the thick forest, Grubnuz suddenly went silent and then hid in a bush. When asked why, all Grubnuz would say was “big bad coming this way.” After minimal preparation, the “big bad” appeared – a dire bear! The ensuing fight was harsh and desperate. Oralon earned the dire bears ire early and it went after him. Rather than moving well out of its way, he stopped to cast shield. It was a fatal mistake. The dire bear was able to attack with all of its natural weapons, first killing, then shredding Oralon to bloody bits. The team was shaken and for a moment had trouble effectively bringing their weapons to bear (no pun intended).

Owen and Thar bracketed the dire bear while it continued to savage the corpse of Oralon, dealing enough damage to convince the beast it was time to leave. Before leaving though, it gave Owen a taste of its full anger and all but killed him in one full-on attack. If it had not immediately left after that, Clem would not have been able to use her lay on hands ability to keep him from immediately bleeding out. Thar, fully gripped by his own rage, ran the beast down and killed it with his meteor hammer before it could escape.

Clem poured all the healing available into Owen to get him up and moving again and then the team made camp. While Clem field dressed the bear, Thar took the time to gather Oralon’s remains and store them into three medium bags. Feeding themselves and a sense of revenge on dire bear steaks, the team discussed what to do next. They decided to return to Three Circles Fort in the morning and look into the possibility of having Oralon raised. They were not optimistic.

End Part 1

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Forgotten Roots - Session 3
The Forgotten Session

This session happened September 26. I neglected to update the adventure log immediately, so this is mostly from memory over a month later. This was also a short session.

While catching their breath after killing off many derro, Ranger Team Rollins spent some time investigating the three rooms they just cleared.

The first (at the end of the hall) was a sleeping area for the majority of the derro. There was very little of value and much that smelled bad. There was more bedding than dead derro, which implied there might be more derro in the tunnels.

Next, they searched the room on the left, which turned out to be the sleeping quarters for the derro spellcasters and the place all the derro valuables were stored. After taking a great deal of time to bypass the high quality locks the derro had installed on some very beat up chests, Owen was able to access the contents. This included a magic shield, some gems and jewelry, and a pile of Amber Commonwealths (old style silver pieces). There was also clearly bedding for three derro spellcasters and the Team had only killed two, so the Team started getting a bit more cautious in their searching and posted a guard to watch their backs.

The third room was a set of eight prison cells, mostly empty. The two closest to the door had nothing but old skeletons in them, while two cells further back held some of the missing Guardsmen. After some discussion (and the sharing of some healing magic), the team learned that the derro were using the Guardsmen as slave labor, digging out tunnels choked with debris and there was a work party out at “the diggings” right now.

Ranger Team Rollins escorted the freed guardsmen and Edric Greenaxe back to the Never-Empty Flagon Inn and updated the Guard command post there. Runners were sent out to get some needed supplies and Ranger Team Rollins took a break to eat some dinner. The Inn was very lively as it was early evening and the Guardsmen in the place were happy to see (most) of their friends returned.

With the minor resupply complete, Ranger Team Rollins and some of the freed Guardsmen (now fully healed thanks to some healing potions from the Castle) returned to the tunnels. The Team went right at the sinkhole (needing to circumnavigate around the room clockwise to do so) and cautiously made their way.

The next chamber they found had a vaulted ceiling and four doors, only one of which was closed and that one bulged out into the room slightly. Oralon moved his dancing lights into the room and Clem followed, hoping to get a good look down the other hallways. Instead, she got a VERY good look at another derro ambush, quickly becoming pin-cushioned with multiple crossbow bolts. (The derro achieved surprise and rolled highest imitative, getting two rounds of attacks on Clem.)

In the ensuing fight, the one of the Guardsman with the Team was pivotal in the Team’s survival, throwing himself into the fight with gusto and rage. The Team fought hard in a tough battle before the tide turned in their favor. They killed all the derro, keeping any from escaping. After a quick headcount of the dead derro, they confirmed that they had killed them all. Sadly, not before the derro had killed the last two enslaved Guardsmen.

Ranger Team Rollins and the surviving Guardsmen carried the bodies of their brethren back to the surface for proper honors. After Clem said many good things about [Name], the Guard lieutenant said, “Glad you like him so much – he’s now yours. Here’s his paperwork.” Apparently, [Name] had “anger management issues” and was not really suited to being part of the Guard, but would fit in well as a Ranger.

Session End.

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Forgotten Roots - Session 2
First and Second Battle of the Sinkhole

This session happened August 29. The July session did not happen as not enough players could make the scheduled day for a variety of reasons.

Dramatis Personae:

Events:

Having walked into an ambush, Ranger Team Rollins was taking heavy crossbow fire from two groups of derro, quickly followed by a swarm of spiders. Oralon’s earlier casting of protection from normal missiles proved critical to the team’s survival. Sareah used levitation to allow Owen and herself to escape back across the gap in the floor. With the two of them safely back with the team, Clem ordered a fighting retreat.

The team fell back, pursued by the spider swarm. Oralon used lightning hands twice (burning hands with lightning instead of fire) to finally destroy the pursuing swarm. The team fell back to the sub-sub-basement of the Never-Empty Flagon with the only kill against the derro a final shot by Dav knocking a derro into the sinkhole. The team spiked the secret door shut behind them. The first Battle of the Sinkhole ended with the derro the clear winners.

Still early in the morning and with both spellcasters in the team out of spells, Clem decided some rest for Oralon and resupply for the rest of the team was in order. Clem reported what the team had found to a lieutenant of the Guard, who had set up a command post in the Never-Empty Flagon’s common room. She requested a squad of the Guard be stationed in the sub-sub-basement, the lieutenant thought two would be better and had them sent down with orders to prevent any incursions by the derro. Satisfied that the derro would not be able to attack out of the tunnels, Clem and her team went looking for antitoxin (to protect against another spider swarm), a defense against the derro’s darkness powers, and anyone who might know more about derro than themselves.

The team went to the Temple of the Pantheon to speak with the high priestess. They met with Fadeyka Sarskaia, Priestess of Ninaha Kudu and high priestess of the Temple. Sareah and Owen had continual flame cast on two items (Sareah’s holy symbol and one of Owen’s silver coins) in exchange for a later favor from each of them. They were also able to secure some potions of lesser restoration and some potions of bull’s strength in exchange for donations to the Temple.

Next they sought out an expert on derro, assuming there was one as derro were virtually myths. Stopping in at the home of Majid of the Three Rings, Clem talked with Shurik, Majid’s apprentice. Clem learned that Majid was still asleep and would likely remain so until Noon. Shurik recommended Edric Greenaxe, a human sage specializing in the dwarven Shogunate. He warned Clem that Edric was slightly…eccentric.

The team quickly found Edric’s home and found him both in and, as warned, eccentric. (Edric is a short human who dresses and acts like a dwarf.) He was quickly interested in the team’s story and had some insight into derro. He had more insight into the tunnels under the city.

The tunnels were once part of the defenses of Crosswalshire, but all connections to them were lost when the Balasir Incursion wiped out the old city. New Crosswalshire was built on the ruins of Crosswalshire and the Never-Empty Flagon was built in one of the few still standing buildings from Crosswalshire. Edric offered the opinion that the derro had found another entrance to the tunnels before finding a way into the Never-Empty Flagon. When asked if he was interested in following the Rangers back down into the tunnels, Edric quickly stated he was. Clem told him to be ready in two hours, when the Rangers would return after running a different errand.

After leaving Edric’s, the ranger team went looking for an alchemist. They incidentally discovered that the street they were on was part of the Crosswalshire College when a bell rung and many students flooded the street, heading to their next classes. Stopping a student to ask directions, the ranger team was directed to Alchemist Street, which was only two blocks away. They also received a warning to decline any offers for product demonstrations. This was not the first time they had received this warning.

On Alchemist Street they found a shop that had antitoxins and, after some negotiations, purchased enough antitoxin for each member of the team plus Edric. The alchemist seemed somewhat sketchy, but that was a Guard problem, not a Ranger problem, so the team left well-enough alone.

After collecting Edric (who was wearing some odd looking armor, reminiscent of that worn in the Shogunate, and carrying a green-handled, single-bladed battle axe), the team returned to the Never-Empty Flagon to finish prepping and getting a bit of rest. At dusk, after Oralon finished sleeping (in an odd room with red velvet walls) and rememorizing a new complement of spells and Sareah finished meditated on the truths of Aphra Cygne, the ranger team returned to the sub-sub-basement, ready to face the derro once again.

This time, they seemed to catch the derro somewhat by surprise. The derro were all down the southern passageway, but some appeared to have been sleeping in a side room and joined in late, still pulling on their armor. In this battle, the derro spellcasters pulled out a new weapon against the rangers: web! Filling most of the passageway with sticky strands of webbing, the derro were only able to slow down the rangers, not trap them. In increasingly desperate fighting, the derro started going down to the ranger assault. Concentrated crossbow fire from the derro did bring down the protection from normal missiles spells Oralon had cast on most of the team, but it was too little, too late.

The two derro spellcasters retreated into a room at the end of the hallway and started audibly spiking the door shut. Taking a short breather, the team used an Alchemist’s Fire to start burning away the webs that blocked their exit before returning to their pursuit of the derro spellcasters. In a coordinated effort, the team smashed down the door with brute strength and shot the wounded derro spellcasters dead before they could get off any defensive spells. Ranger Team Rollins had won the second Battle of the Sinkhole and was now in control of this portion of the tunnels.

Session end.

Next month, Ranger Team Rollins finds out what else is down here with them. The September game happens on the 26th with a write-up to follow shortly thereafter. See you then!

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Forgotten Roots - Session 1
Some Shopping and Some Delving

This session happened June 27, 2009, and is the first session in the Forgotten Roots adventure.

Dramatis Personae:

  • Ranger-Sergeant Clementine “Clem” Rollins (Ranger-Paladin)
  • Ranger Owen Sands (Rogue)
  • Ranger Oralon Skycaller (Sorcerer)
  • Ranger Sareah (Cleric)

Events:

Having put an end to the gnoll and ghast threat to the Moon Mountain Ruins, Ranger Team Rollins headed southwest to New Crosswalshire for resupply. With a month to complete their resupply and travel only requiring two weeks to get to New Crosswalshire and then back to Three Circles Fort, Ranger-Sergeant Clem Rollins could see her team had been unofficially given two weeks leave. She and her team planned to make the most of it.

Arriving from the east, the rangers had a short conversation with the County Guardsmen manning the Eastbridge Gate. The rangers were given directions to Crosswalshire Castle so they could report in and were advised that the Never-Empty Flagon Inn was a good place for cheap drinks and lots of it.

The rangers crossed the Eastbridge, over the Green River, and entered New Crosswalshire proper. They turned right at the main market square and walked north up Castle Road. They were in no danger of getting lost as Crosswalshire Castle dominated the northern end of the city.

At the gate to the castle, they chatted a bit further with the Guardsmen there to find out where they had to go to report in. The Sergeant on duty very awkwardly flirted with Clem and Sareah, but Clem did offer to meet him for drinks at the Never-Empty Flagon Inn. She just neglected to say when.

In the castle the team reported to the Day Duty Officer, Lieutenant Tolenka the Greater. Clem discussed the city and what rules and regulations the rangers needed to observe. The rangers were warned that the Never-Empty Flagon Inn was a Guardsmen bar and it tended to be rowdy. Most rangers that came in from Fort Sparrowmouth (nearby to the northwest) tended to spend time at the Worn Talisman Inn, a quieter locale.

After arranging quarters for the team in the castle (there were plenty), the team made its way to the Worn Talisman Inn to see if there were any other rangers in the city. They noticed that the Workers Quarter (where the Worn Talisman is located) has unpaved streets and wooden planking for sidewalks as opposed to the Trade Quarter where most of the streets were paved.

At the Worn Talisman Inn, the team found people hungry for news and willing to pay in drink for a good story. Clem kept most of the team in drinks and food for lunch by retelling stories of defending the Moon Mountain Ruins and exploring the Ghoul Caves. While she was doing this, Sareah slipped away to confer with the only other ranger in the common room. He turned out to be from Fort Sparrowmouth and they talked shop for a while. As a result of this, he stated he would be heading back to Fort Sparrowsmouth sooner than he had planned to get word that the gnolls were up to things on the Naze Valley side of the border.

About mid-afternoon the team was finally able to leave the Worn Talisman Inn and start tracking down better equipment than what they could get from the Guard Armory. They traded with Vassi the Black (a blacksmith who also handled armor and some weapons) and Nerian the Arrowsmith (a highly skilled bowyer and fletcher). After getting equipment upgrades and putting in requests for the two smiths to keep an eye out for some specialty gear (read: magic weapons), the team decided to find a sage to sell off the loot from the Ghoul Caves.

The team was eventually directed to Majid of the Three Rings, a sage from the far south, specializing in gnolls. Clem brought out the moonstone figure of Kilwa Masoko the rangers had taken off the gnolls after the catapult fight (see Little Hungers, Part 2). This was enough to get a meeting with Majid, but he was only slightly interested. However, as Clem brought out material from the ghoul caves, in particular a game set the ghast cleric had, Majid became very interested. So interested that he bought everything the rangers had and had dinner cooked for them all so they would stay longer while he asked them questions. Clem and Majid spent several hours sharing gnoll lore between the two of them while the rest enjoyed the meal and the drink.

Eventually Sareah pointed out how late it was and that they really needed to be going. Clem and Majid both realized that it was near midnight now and agreed to wrap up their conversation. An hour later, the rangers were finally able to leave. The rangers made it back to their bunks in Crosswalshire Castle and went to sleep.


Just before dawn, Clem was awakened by a summons from the Night Duty Officer. Something dangerous had been discovered in the sub-sub-basement of the Never-Empty Flagon Inn. Five Guardsmen had gone down to find out what was going on and only one managed to return – mostly sober and seriously wounded.

The Guardsman reported that the lights had gone out and webs had appeared and they fought against an unseen foe or foes. He had been near the stairs and fled to get reinforcements. Since then the County Guard had emptied the building and blocked off the streets. Then the rangers were sent for.

Clem gathered the team and they entered the basements of the Never-Empty Flagon Inn. As they made their way down, they were able to determine that the storage inventory was short – something had been stealing goods, notably food items, particularly meat. In the sub-sub-basement they discovered what – Derro!

In a short fight that ended when the crates in the rooms were lit on fire by the rangers, most of the derro were killed. One managed to escape by pushing past a companion (and pushing him into the fire) and slipping through a secret door that was no longer secret. After putting out the fire, the rangers gave pursuit.

Behind the secret door was a very old passage was that had been recently cleared. The rangers cautiously made their way around a blockage and found an intersection whose floor had fallen into a sinkhole. There was a gap between the end of the passage the rangers entered and the passage to the left. After some whispered planning, Sareah used her divine-granted ability to teleport to get across the gap, where the rest planned to throw a rope to her so they could safely get across. Unfortunately, a larger group of derro had planned to use this area as an ambush and shot her several times with their crossbows. The battle for the sinkhole commenced!

To be continued…

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