DGA1.09: Yazol’s revenge, part one

The characters for this session:

Vir Onden, half-elf ranger

Seck Rustrau, L2 rogue

Cat W, warlock

Phoenix Pilandaros, Tlinget barbarian

ably(?) assisted by Kestrel Blueleaf, elven ranger

and featuring Layton Wheattail, NPC L2 fighter

Goblin fever sweeps the Alshon region and Vir Onden the half-elf ranger is sent north to recruit Kestrel Blueleaf, a friendly rival/lover whose knowledge of the Azurewood will make sourcing medicines much easier. She will not leave her village, Biddypoint, where Something is Going On.

Biddypoint

The shadows are long when the five adventurers reach a fork in the trail. In the direction of march – nor-nor-east – the trail appears unused; signs of light cart, sled, and horse apples lead north or a point or two east of it.

There is a debate. Memories of what Todger, Schalk’s informant in Tallywood, had to say are fading. At length they choose the traveled path.

Evening is drawing on apace when they catch sight of what is clearly a walled village. The palisade could be vaulted by a team effort; there are no watchtowers.

Cat reads a great deal into his lack of information about this village but Seck points out this is probably no more than what it seems, and they approach the gates, which are closed.

The rattling from the equipment they are carrying is enough to alert someone, and a old grizzled face looks over the palisade:

“Who am I talking to?” – Frida Greatheart, constable of Biddypoint

“I’m Seck, this is Cat, Vir… we’re looking for a lady named Kestrel” – Seck

“Haw!” – derisive snort from Frida at the word ‘lady’

“Would a shiny silver be enough to persuade you to reopen?” – Cat, politely

“It’s true we are low on funds… well hold it up, sonny”

Cat locates a silver piece, extends it, and she whips it out of his grasp. There’s a pause as she clambers down and undoes things, and one gate grudgingly opens just enough for laden men to ease through.

 

Hard hit

Biddypoint is a small village and unusual having a solid palisade. The one dominant building, a single-story affair, stands right on the dry dusty square, and stables or the like must lie behind it.

“So… ye haven’t really stated yer business aside from saying ye’re after a lady… heh… an’ that’s not really business” – Frida

“I think you’ll find it is” – Seck

“Kestrel’s been helping us here… houses are locked up for the night, I suggest ye go to the inn an’ wait fer morning”

“And your precautions… is there quite a bit of activity from the forest at night?” – Vir

“We’re wary o’ strangers, with good reason… we fear ter let more sick people into th’ village… I should have asked… ye look healthy enough… the village is hard stricken, but we don’t it ter get any worse”

“How many families are… any fatalities” – Cat

“Perhaps ten families… an’ yes.”

 

We all want one room together

The inn has eight shuttered windows facing the dusty square and a classic picture of a weary knight slumped against an arbor hangs over the door. Cat interprets the archaic script: <Erschoepfter Ritter>

“The Weary Knight”

The welcome smell of cooked food seeps out, promising cheer and company. They walk in and look about. The smell of a good stew competes with a vinegar odor. The small common room is crowded with perhaps twenty people across half a dozen tables.  A wiry elder, working behind the servery counter, scowls and raises his voice sharply:

“Close th’ door! Ill humors are about!” – Seth Grimhill

A second glance convinces the adventurers that these are local men, some of them hunters or the like. Normal villagers all.

Seth introduces himself and they purchase a one-room arrangement –  2sp, push the pallets together and five can sleep comfortably – and stow their gear. Phoenix’s roll is slender. He rests his greataxe on it so it doesn’t blow away.

“I’m going to just take an extra, that constable gave me an off feeling” – Seck, sliding a second dagger down his fine new boot

 

Local knowledge

They rejoin the company for dinner – ale 5cp the mug, stew 1sp the serving – and are introduced to some of the more senior types: Flint the dwarf smith, Brynn the carpenter, Dain the hunter, and Thorn the trapper. There are also greybeards, and plenty of lesser yokels. The chief concerns are the goblin fever and traders not coming through. Over the stew and ale they elucidate:

  • A new tribe of goblins moved into the area about 3 months ago
  • Since then, they have attacked at least half a dozen caravans, preferring those that are weakly guarded
  • Survivors report that the tribe is led by an especially vicious goblin chief
  • A hunter named Kestrel Blueleaf claims to know where the goblin hideout is

 

Frida’s view

Around about this time the Constable, Frida Greatheart, enters and the talk takes a more negative tinge. She checks with Seth, and she turns to the adventurers:

“Oh come on! Ye said ye were seeking Kestrel! This talk – you’re not coming here to stir up the goblins!”

They protest.

“Weell… if ye did take Kestrel away it might be fer the best. We can’t risk the goblins geing roused, things are hard enough with so many ill.”

There’s a general wiseacre nodding as the common folk follow Frida’s lead.

“Look um… do you know where she might be?” – Cat

A villager immediately volunteers that Kestrel lives with the Butchers. There’s a general discontented murmur and Frida reacts:

“It’s not her fault the family’s fallen so hard with the fever!”

“So she’s tending them?” – Cat

“Well who knows… she’s an elf” – Frida

 

To bed then

Again they are reminded not to go knocking folk up at night, so settle for more good cheer and a good long rest. Except Seck, who leaves early and decides to sleep with one eye open, because there’s no door and he still has a grue off the constable. He respects authority and he can’t just say “you’re creeping me out” to her face. [rolls nat 20 on CON to avoid exhaustion]

In their care to speak to one another without being overheard, the other adventurers manage to leave Layton happily keeping company in the common room. They slip out to the jakes and look about, have a quiet word to one another, then back to their room where they finish muttering theories so Seck and Layton, who’s packed up for the night too, can overhear them.

I’m short-changing some players in this abridged introduction to Biddypoint and its atmosphere: everyone has some useful thoughts at different stages, they just don’t lead anywhere as other players counter-theorize just as quickly.

 

Layton is stricken

Dawn, and Layton is shivering with the fever. [Vir also misses his CON SV at this point; Seck’s earlier nat 20 covers this] They try to recall where Layton might have been infected by goblins, but fail.

“I might be sitting this one out,” Layton croaks, asking that his water bottle be refilled.

Seth the innkeeper is alarmed that a guest has come down with the fever, and has Layton turfed out as soon as possible, and sees to vinegaring the room. They carry Layton on his pallet to the sick-house, a normal house given over to the many sick of the village. Frida watches as Layton is brought over. They find it crowded, but find a space and lay him down. Some of the villagers are on the road to recovery, some are declining.

 

Kestrel

Vir knocks up the Butchers. A voice answers from within, and he asks for Kestrel, being a friend of his.

The door rips open, (Vir ducks aside!) Kestrel bursts out, grabs him by the lapels, and uses her strength to wrench him round against the wall. Her clothes and hair even messier then normal;  smelling of the sickroom as well as her normal old unwashed forest smell; looking crazy.

“What are you doing here!?!”

“We were coming to find you… what’s going on?”

“You fucked up last time but this time are you in it with me…”

“What?”

Kestrel drops her voice to a whisper:

“She’s around here somewhere… the hag, Yazol!”

Yazol is a green hag that Kestrel has been hunting for longer than Vir has been in the region. He helped rescue Orlin Swift, bard and friend to Pais Ullman, from her den. Yazol had fled the scene already, barely pausing to rig a clumsy trap.

 

Are you listening? Yazol+goblins!

Kestrel’s best guess is that Yazol is leading the goblins. It’s clear that she won’t simply leave with them so Vir signs on to hunt through the goblin cavern and end Yazol.

The others now meet Kestrel for the first time. She seems a bit crazy.

Showing no signs of fear Kestrel checks Layton and confirms he has goblin fever.

They step outside the village and Kestrel re-explains, trying not to sound too crazy. Cat recalls that green hags delight in misery, so this set-up is suited to such. Kestrel estimates the goblins at around a dozen and that Yazol is leading the goblins.

“Anyway let’s save these stupid villagers from themselves…” – Kestrel

 

Into the woods to meet Wuzig

They excuse their departure with the story they are leaving with Kestrel to collect medicinal herbs, collect their gear and leave directly. Frida looks as though she doesn’t believe them but does not stop them.

The adventurers break their fast on the trail, updating Kestrel on gossip and rumor in the big towns. Two miles westward travel finds them at a decayed village on what was once the main road. Nothing really remains of Melton – as was the name of this place – though the elders have a different name for it.

From Melton, the five are venturing through light forest regrowth. This is a superb area for game, boasting a variety of terrain and some all-year water. They push on into thicker second growth. Visibility declines to 30-50′. The trail is found – seemingly no more than a game trail. The pace stays rapid, with two rangers. [DC10 CON with advantage to avoid exhaustion] Kestrel, obviously tired, explains nothing. She leads them along it and at mid-afternoon they reach a point where a ravine cuts it. Vir and Seck can see that once, an actual bridge, with stone pillars, spanned it. Now, a fallen tree serves the same purpose. As Kestrel leaps lightly on it and walks the first few yards there is a sudden roar from the far side:

“That is Wuzig’s bridge! You can’t use it!”

A large bugbear crashes out from the wood, a club in his hand and a nasty snarl on his face.

The combat is brief, but Phoenix demonstrates his fighting style as he throws off his rubbish leather breastplate and fights bare-chested. The adventurers choose not to search the ravine for Wuzig’s lair, so after a cursory look pass on leaving Wuzig’s corpse behind them.

 

A wary night watch

Nightfall finds them at a low rocky hill that rises above the surrounding trees. A large natural cave is plainly visible near the base. As they creep closer to the entrance, a set of stairs just inside the entrance can be identified, hewn from the rock and descending into the earth.

Prudently, they vote not to just head on in: they retreat to the decayed village of Sasshrin (not that they know its name, nor its original name) find stone-walled ruins not completely buried or overgrown. After a cursory search, Seck sets his alarms around their cold camp and they settle for a good rest, taking turns at watch. Kestrel warns them that she fears Yazol will be too clever for them, and that she will wait outside to trap the hag as she flees.

Noises of humanoids creeping about the forest keep each night watch tense but no goblin-kind stumbles on them.

 

Vir is stricken

Dawn, and as they breakfast, Vir is sweating with fever.

Kestrel, who has had more rest than for the last ten days put together, searches around and finds a bitter root for him to chew.

“It’ll keep you going for a while. Good luck.”

[First level of exhaustion for Vir but in effect the herb acts as added hp, negating the hp loss Vir would otherwise suffer. See notes on goblin fever as applied in this campaign.]

Packs are left under the tree she picks, and Vir, who is shaky, decides a longbow will make too much noise. Seck keeps his, and one quiver. And they softly creep into the cavern and down.

 

Excursus: Goblin fever

The Dimgaard campaign’s first major arc features a new disease known in-campaign as goblin fever. As far as I can calculate, using RAW, all of common humanity will be wiped out, save for a tiny proportion who would gain immunity. That will leave a small proportion of the tougher types such as adventurers and barbarians to roam at will. Note that the setting explicitly states that everyone will eventually be exposed and infected – there are no ‘safe zones’ nor secure quarantines because the region’s healers do not know enough about the disease.

Therefore, and bearing in mind the intended consequence of goblin fever, these are the modified rules for goblin fever: A human catches goblin fever when exposed to an existing vector such as an infected person and she misses a DC CON SV. The soldier background gives advantage on the SV.

Rules: no re-try for 24 hours then each 24 succeeding. During the course of the fever:

Initial loss of d6hp and 1 level of exhaustion.

Then:

Each 24 hours, lose d6 hp provided hp are positive. hp do not reduce below zero.

If reduced to zero hp, no immediate consequence. ie no death roll. However the normal physical rules of zero hp apply – the unconscious victim cannot care for themselves. Even if they are rid of the disease, but unattended, lack of water will result in death.

Re-try on DC12 CON SV: Fail=1 further level of exhaustion except: double-1 counts as two levels. Succeed= disease is shaken off, but no other effect; except double-20 resets to 1hp and restores 1 level as well as shaking off the disease.

And this re-try procedure continues until exhaustion levels result in death or one of the means of recovery are effected.

Attended with medical proficiency means no disadvantage on SV on the 24-hour CON SV re-try. A 1 still means two levels of exhaustion, and a 20 still restores one hp and level.

So the best hope is to stay alive for 24 hours and while attended make a CON SV. Adventurers with good CON and hp, and the various ranks of nobility and soldiery, have much less to fear than commoners. An unattended commoner simply immediately drops to 0hp, since the standard effect is 4dmg and their hp are 4. Day 2 onwards, their DC12 CON SV is with disadvantage, meaning a small but reasonable chance of shaking off the disease.

.

 

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