A stripped-back core D&D 3.0/E6 campaign begins here!
Rain. Rain on the pelts, rain on the cages, rain on the tents, rain on the hunters
over from the Rangerward. Rain on the sailors up from Alewater. Rain on the loggers down from Timbertown. Rain on Stockade Road that runs south of Pelt Camp all the way west to the Commandery.
The weak-voiced bard is drowned by the sound of rain on the big pavilion where the small beer and sly stew that is our fare seem both… full of rainwater. Not that I have the luxury of complaining! My fare aboard ship has left me with a very small store of coin. Were it not for the friendship and shelter extended by fellow-wizard and trader Celric the Cautious I would more than like be down to silver and copper.
I glance past Celric’s southron – at my left, Oswald the halberdier is at right – over to where Celric is negotiating with a hunt captain. I have the impression there are a number of hunter crews, or bands, or packs here at Pelt Camp.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Edgar, and my family is a mercantile house in Blackstone, though I sign my name Blaxton. I grew up safe among my several older siblings and a growing number of nephews and nieces; our house is not of the first rank but life was comfortable and our house is well-liked for its charity.
But this life in the Realm is fraught with danger for those that make their living by travel: I cannot recall a time when the ashen dirk of the Stern Lady did not figure large in my life. Three of my own siblings and three cousins beside have been so memorialised.
I broke with my studies of commerce ledger and journal, and I fear shamed my good name for on taking up the arcane staff my chances of ever becoming available to my betrothed become slim. But someone must needs act against the sickness growing in Slaver Bay.
And then my thoughts are interrupted – as this adventure begins!
Dear reader, know that that is the end of the above serious fanfic style. I find D&D as played by my group best suits a light, slightly tongue in cheek style in the third person, so having introduced my own character, that’s what I now adopt.
As Edgar has noted the beer-tent, or pavilion, has a typical temporary bar – boards over barrels – and maybe three smallish tables. Celric’s bodyguards: a southron with a two-hand axe, and a normal soldier with a halberd; as well as Edgar, are seated at one; and a couple of fighting types are seated at the opposite table.
Suddenly the pavilion’s canvas tears, and a huge blasphemy against nature bursts in, making straight for Celric’s table! One swipe sends the hunt captain bowling! Before Celric can react it has him in a bear-hug and rends at him with its weird beak-like jaws!
Initiatives: Owlbear, Thomas, Barky, Oswald, Belmont/Edgar
Round 1: Owlbear finishes Celric off and ploughs on through the table (the hunt captain having dived to one side then under the bar) and on a number of yards, to end a few feet past the large central tent-pole.
“All right, who fucked that thing off” – Thomas Turnbuckle, priest of Cuthbert
Thomas wields his god’s disapproval but the doom fails: he sallies out from behind his table and heads for the danger!
Barky bounds nimbly away from Edgar’s table, to a point behind the beast, but his axe is ill-swung and merely bounces off the things’s fur.
Oswald lifts his halberd and heads for the trouble but Edgar warns “wait – stand on the defensive!” and he hesitates.
Belmont decides to move more prudently than the barbarian and merely hurries to the creature’s flank and slams his sword down on the massy skull. But the creature barely registers the cut.
Edgar snaps off a flare [DC12] in front of its eyes and uses the distraction to move back behind its peripheral vision!
Round 2: The owlbear is slightly put off by the flare and attacks the tentpole and misses the men around it. Tom casts protection from chaos on Belmont and stays near the fight but with enough tentpole between he and the danger to not be easily hit. Barky rages! But his swing is still less than amazing. Oswald thrusts his halberd between the owlbear’s legs and [rolls a 19] flukishly trips it, then slams the point into it. Belmont has advantage from both flank and prone for his attack but his stab is less than he hoped. Edgar is safe behind the bar, readying a pinch of wool, but is pretty sure there’s not much else to be done.
Round 3: As the owlbear stands it is hit a couple of times. But it shrugs off the damage and rakes a claw across Barky’s chest! [11 dmge] Tom steps to Barky and casts Cure Light. [4pts] Barky keeps fighting but without success. Oswald proves his first effort was no fluke (yes, it was) and again trips the creature. Belmont thunders down with his sword and does some good damage!
Round 4: The owlbear stands again – and is hit so hard and so many times it staggers a few steps and falls dead.
Shocked, the five men hurry over to Celric but as they thought, he is past help.
“Someone will have to compensate his family for this!” – Edgar
Edgar thoughtfully removes his mentor’s bracers, purse, nice dagger and wand. Tucking the former two under his coat and the latter two in his belt he looks to the torn pavilion side. Beyond, an obviously-burst shows where the creature hailed from, if the hunt captain were not there to explain that.
The innkeeper protests at just leaving the corpse there – and offers shovels – but a canvas shroud will have to do for now. As Edgar Oswald and Barky head down to Celric’s tent Thomas pauses at the sundered cage. The evidence of his own eyes does not add to a satisfactory picture. On the one hand the lock has not been fastened properly. On the other the cage itself is warped, presumably by main strength. But on a third hand – if Cuthbert allowed that sort of multi-armed wickedness – there’s a thick beam nearby and gouges to show it has been pushed away.
“Huh. Suspicious” – Belmont Lawson, paladin of Hieroneous
“I don’t get it. But yes suspicious. Let’s look about for the others… which way did they go?” – Thomas
“Uhhh…” – Belmont
“Maybe the huntsman knows. Let’s duck back in.”
Inside the tent again the pair find that already, component-hunters are chopping claws and beak off and rummaging in the innards for spleen or suchlike. The bard, now swigging a restorative, knows roughly where Celric’s tent lies.
They head downhill and soon see a halberd. Inside that tent the three men that seemingly knew or worked for Celric are standing glumly around a burst-open chest, empty. Edgar, a wizard apparently, is finishing fastening bracers under his fashionable coat-sleeves.
“Some other bastard beat us to it huh” – Thomas
The five introduce themselves to one another:
- Thomas Turnbuckle, L1 cleric, Cuthbert
- Edgar Blaxton, L1 wizard, Boccob-ish
- Bjarke or Barky, L1 southern barbarian, possibly Kord?
- Belmont Lawson, L1 paladin, Hieroneous
- [and Oswald, an NPC, L1 fighter, probably Pelor]
Excursus: Cultures involved
The Realm has a veneer of not-French nobility and a mass of not-Saxon regular folk. Thomas, Edgar and Oswald all have very typical regular names and may be from any station from villein upward. Their clothes will tell people a lot about this. For example Edgar wears fashionable clothes and hat, and Oswald wears the simple dress of a freeman. Belmont is of a higher-class family and probably has some fine cloth or silk and fur trim here and there. Leaving aside rival powers, the Realm does a fair amount of trade with the south and dark-skinned southern barbarians (southrons) are to be found in service or seeking their fortune here.
“Are you two willing to back me if I make a fuss about this terrible crime?” – Edgar
“Once, twice, three times…” – Belmont
“A crime has been committed, justice is called for” – Thomas
Edgar excitedly runs about trying to muster a sense of the wrongdoing among the crews and denizens, but it’s not until Belmont adds his cultured accents (and threats of punishment) that people really pay attention [Edgar 6 on convince, Belmont 12].
With more people willing to give it some through Edgar attempts to get them to recall who was near the tent, and who might have carried a heavy beam to the cage. [Much better roll, makes 17 on converse]
There seems to be two possible avenues for a wrongdoer to leave unmarked. There are ships’ crews, down south past the road, and those ships might be away soon; and there’s a bullock-wagon train waiting for the morrow. But before those leads are followed…
The body of Celric is brought up to Boot Hill. Edgar puts silver on his eyes and one under his tongue. Given the wet, it’s an easy dig. At least a couple of hours of daylight remain.
The five – since Oswald and Barky are willing to tag along to see if they get back-pay – trail down to the ships but after a very good piece of combined diplomacy and questioning, rule the ships’ crews out.
So it’s back to the bullock-train, and hire on!
- The trail captain: Edensor: serious, wise, straightforward
- His guard-captain: McLeish: strict, bold, hairy