SB19: From Commandery to Rangerward – Guffinfetch part 1

The characters for this session:

Edgar, L5 wizard. Edgar is of mercantile background, stands 5’9, grey-eyed, auburn-brown hair, and with healthily pale skin. He has good dress sense, and is extremely proud of his expensive quarterstaff.

Barky, L5 barbarian. Bjarki (to give him his correct name) is a southron, and arrived here across the great sea. He stands 5’10 to 5’11 and is strong enough to look stocky. His skin is distinctly darker than Realm folk, and his eyes and hair are very dark. He dresses as a respectable fighting man, in a chain shirt. 

Sir Belmont, L5 paladin of Hieroneous. Belmont’s family are nobility: like many of the upper ranks, his eyes are blue and short-cropped hair is blond. He stands about 6′; he is also visibly good-looking and is agile as well as strong. He dresses “down” in chain but owns a full suit of masterwork plate for those serious occasions.

Brother Thomas, L5 cleric of St. Cuthbert. Thomas at 5’10 and under 150lb is like a taller, thinner, redder-haired version of Edgar, but unlike the fashion-conscious wizard he dresses in no-nonsense clothes of dull hue. His eyes are hazel-grey, his hair close-cropped, and his expression is severe, as befits St. Cuthbert’s follower. Like Belmont he dresses “down” in chain but owns a full suit of masterwork plate.

Oswald, L5 fighter. Oswald, very much like Edgar, comes from the mercantile classes. A strapping 6’2, grey-eyed, with hair-colored hair, the halberdier dresses like a typical respectable man at arms but he too owns a full suit of masterwork plate. He has recently grown a mustache which is darker than his hair. Oswald is a NPC.

Vert, cooshee. Edgar’s faithful companion, this large green elf-dog is now trained in four skills. 

In terms of age Oswald appears to be the oldest, though none of the company is yet 30. Vert is perhaps 12 to 15 months old.

A brief recap of the campaign so far

Rules in use are 3.0/E6. Only core rule-books are in use; and several facets are stripped away from the PHB – such as anything gunpowder-based, or classes that don’t have any natural reason to adventure.

The Realm is an overwhelmingly-human nation, established on the southern coast of a continent. Its capital is Realmsgate, and its fortunes are firmly linked with Hieroneous and Pelor. A successor to a much-greater past, the Realm is at best fragmented. Its main rival is the Duchy of Hextor, which employs slavers, Hobgoblins and so forth. The Commandery, built by the Realm on the lip of the great bay named Slaver Bay, forms a fortress-town against Hextorite incursions. 

Travel is at one’s own risk. A number of tiny stockaded settlements exist along the road that runs parallel with the south coast, though the main means of travel is by ship. Outside of the settlements, there is no law to appeal to for protection. Hextorite slavers working their way around from the north could strike anywhere along the road.

So it proved, last season! Our heroes experienced a slaver attack, and sought revenge in a foray north from Commandery. There, they dared a fortress in a pass into Dragon Range, reached across a wide swamp and broad but shallow lake above a dry river. Foul Hextorite evil held the key to the lake’s control gate: the adventurers wrested control and opened the gate, allowing water to drain naturally for the first time in an age.

Having thrown down the evil in the pass fortress, they returned (on dragon-back) to report on their triumph, and the likely effect on the great swamp. Then, they settled in for a winter at Commandery. When our story resumes, they have all enjoyed a comfortable two months’ rest doing minor jobs that fall naturally to them.

An investor’s meeting at the Reasonable Ogre

Gnome merchant Bertib of the Gnome Trading House (and chairperson of the Wizards Guild) has invited a number of potential investors to learn of the land investment scheme he has been working on. Moreover, he has specifically invited the adventurers, with or without funds – which is why Thomas is present. The devout cleric gave all of his treasure to the church: and has been living at the church’s expense. The largest room available in the Reasonable Ogre Inn is quite crowded.

Bertib waits until all are settled, then delivers a Gnome-powerpoint (complete with smoke!) of the investment scheme.

The area in question encompasses the entire swamp and lake, both of course well on their way to becoming arable. Ambitious! – as Barky and Edgar agree in muttered asides.

It is a two-year minimum and shares cost 250gp each. Bertib places the risk at only 20%, because the up-front cost includes hire of mercenaries to guard the early settlements. The key weakness, in hindsight, may be a scarcity of settlers. But legal title (dating from the ancient days before the Realm lost the land there to swamp) needs to be examined – and therein lies the adventurers’ quest!

[Edgar decides to risk it and buys 8 shares. Trusting to the wizardly brain to understand what the deal is and the risk, Belmont buys 12 shares, Oswald buys 6 shares and Barky 4. Bertib sets aside 4 shares in trust for Thomas.]

Guffinquest: Fetch that Guffin!

Post-meeting, Bertib explains the job. The best man to research title (and confirm that it is defunct) is a sage named Guffin, who lives in the settlement named Safeton (pr. Safe-ton). It lies beyond the great forest named Rangerward. The mission (and threads opened) is:

  1. Travel to Safeton
  2. Contact Guffin, present the letter from the Gnome Trading House (GTH) to him
  3. Escort Guffin to Realmsgate so that his research may be accomplished, and payment made to him through the GTH.
  4. At the party’s discretion, return from Realmsgate

Bertib advances 1000gp to cover set-up and expenses.

Belmont’s new mount and varlet

Fr Gerard of Hieroneous leads Belmont out into the fortress’ muster-yard to meet his barded heavy warhorse, a pure black. There beside it stands a smaller riding horse (a palfrey) and a man.

Belmont approaches the black with some reverence and makes himself known to it. The two seem a perfect match!

“All I need is a lance… oh, and what about that feller?”

“Me sir? I am your groom, Augustus, or you can call me Gussie. Most people do. I’m here to help with tasks sir.”

“What’s that other horse for?”

“Planchet? He’s my mount sir.”

“I’ve got a light warhorse you could ride.”

“Heh, no sir, I’m quite alright on Planchet sir.”

“Righto, OK, always good to have a spare then…”

“Yes, absolutely sir.”

“This eh, looks a good horse.”

“Yes, fine horse sir.”

“Shall we go for a ride then?”

“Of course sir.”

The fine black takes the pace, moving smoothly and powerfully. Belmont begins considering a name befitting its magnificence:

“What have others been calling this feller then?”

“Oh, I call it Dobbin sir.”

“No, I mean this horse.”

“Dobbin. Obviously you can call it what you like sir.”

 

Lawful ambush

Lia, alchemist-wizard and business partner in Waittes’ Pothecary, taps Edgar’s shoulder and explains that he needs to meet someone. Tomorrow, breakfast-time will do: at the Laughing Cavalier.

This proves a horrid ambush for young Edgar, though by good fortune he has both Barky (who generally tags along) and Oswald (who rooms there) within earshot. Part of his treasure from the great adventure was a pair of magical bracers. Strictly according to law, as opposed to the law of the battlefield, these were not his to take. Lia produces their owner-by-inheritance! Watling, the young woman in question, has obviously a prior arrangement and understanding with Lia.

[Watling sounds like she may be a useful contact but given the timing and awkwardness, we do not get to learn much about her]

Caught without time to prepare case and precedent, Edgar [using Profession+2, makes 11 against a DC15] cites only trading-venture precedent. It fails to move her. He is liable for the 2,000 the bracers were valued at, but no further legal duress need be taken if that is paid.

Edgar excuses himself, takes Barky and Oswald aside and borrows 100 each off them, with apologies. This gives him enough to pay the debt off, and leaves 120gp and a couple dozen silvers, for walking-around money.

Lia is well pleased  – her merchant and guild integrity is safe – but Edgar realizes he has been foolishly assuming that a charming personality means a trustworthy personality, and one does not follow the other. It is a major life lesson for the young man.

Preparations and an old friend re-hired

While the ambush and breakfast has taken up half the party, Thomas and Belmont have given thought to transport. They present options to the other three when they get together at the stables and mustering-yard.

Belmont lists the three mounts he will travel with. Oswald can ride, of course, and Barky has at least natural agility.

Thomas, like Edgar, rides like a sack of potatoes, and Guffin is an unknown quantity, so a wagon seems like a good investment. Now it’s time to talk to people that know about this stuff.

By good fortune Hodd the muleteer is still about town. Over a sturdy ale, he regales the party with what they’ll be best using, and the lands they’ll be traveling. He is hired!

Party equipment bought out of expense fund:

Wagon, 2 large drays, 1 heavy warhorse, 1 light warhorse, 2 palfreys, 35 feeds of oats, 120 days people rations, 10 days dog rations, 2 heavy crossbows, various tools and tarp, 60 longbow arrows, 60 regular arrows, 60 bolts.

Other gear, not part of the expenses

Thomas provides a continual flame item “Perpetual Torch,” for Barky and Oswald.

600xp to cover the season finale last season, and the game to this point

 

Alchemical ideas

Edgar visits gruff ‘pothecary Waittes and puts a couple of ideas across the counter. Waittes rummages around and offers Edgar a ‘scent-me-not’ powder of aniseed and catnip. It can be sprinkled across the back-trail to throw wargs or the like off.

“I have some expenses funding – what’s it worth?”

“Take it – see how it goes – let me know” Waittes rasps.

Edgar’s main idea, something that will burn with foul vapors and settle down goblin-holes (based on sulphur/pitch) Waittes will investigate.

Various farewells

Belmont checks in with the dwarf smith to see how his masterwork steel shield is getting along. He placed the order at least a day ago!

Having been corrected as to delivery date Belmont explains the orders to Gussie, who takes them with aplomb. “I’ll make sure the tack is ready sir,” the valet assures him.

“Go talk to Edgar for details,” Belmont waves him off with.

Fr Gerard, Belmont’s superior, wishes him well, and provides him with a blessing.

Thomas explains his job to FrS Spearhavok, who is satisfied with his account and hands him a letter of introduction to Realmsgate Chapter Master, FrS Athelred of the Cells.

“I’ll give him, of course, my full and frank explanation of your character. You are not to read this until you get there.”

“Very good sir.”

“Mind ‘ow ye go,” Spearhavok growls (which is a blessing)

Barky has been working for and with Pelor functionaries, and lets them know he’ll be off. He sees to the detail of the tools and gear for camping, coordinating with Hodd. Once done, he returns to join his Pelorite friends in a celebratory farewell dinner. They bless him.

Oswald settles up at the Laughing Cavalier.

Edgar is surprised by Gussie, and makes his acquaintance. Gussie appears to be as young as any of the party but carries himself as a proper servant or valet. Edgar makes no secret of his delight in learning that Belmont’s mighty warhorse is named Dobbin. But as for preparations for a journey, Edgar leads Gussie by way of a shrine to Fharlaghn (where they both pray and make an offering) to the mustering yard. He introduces Gussie to Hodd as a servant to Hieroneous.

“So do not be smacking the smack out of the revered Hieroneous,” he concludes, leaving the two to it, and making for Wee Jas where he prays devoutly to continue his overarching mission of revenge for the fallen among his own family. Sombre priest Baldyr blesses him.

Well-wishers see them off – Pelor, Hieroneous, Inn staff, Wizard Guild and GTH, indeed the only townsfolk not represented are Olidammara followers!

Timbertown and a new hire

Without meeting any trouble more than the rigors of the road, the wagon and riders pass along the road by way of Trowbridge, Midge Hill, Beck’s Crown, Cracklin’ Rose, and Fairmont. It is a very different experience than their first, in the opposite direction alongside massive ox-sleds and with Hextor slavers lurking.

And now they have reached the Alewater, and Timbertown, the last settlement before the vast Rangerward. To date, the party intention to hire a ranger or the like lies unfulfilled.

Edgar, Hodd, Thomas and Vert remain guarding the camp outside the settlement, while the others walk up and in. They focus on beer! – though Gussie excuses himself and sees to finding provisions.

The Brown Bear is the settlement’s tavern. The barkeep is friendly and the air is close.

“We’re just travelers passing through… looking for something warm, and something we could take back to camp.”

“Might I suggest you start with beer, then we have chops, fresh bread…”

Over the drink and chop the three learn that Bertran the bard has been by recently.

In no time at all they proudly roll a keg down to camp and Gussie has already brought fresh bread and butter, and cheese and mutton. After indulging in some japes about bungstarting with a heavy warhammer, the party settles to a quiet drink with cheese on bread, and setting watch.

The following day, Edgar nods to Barky and the pair head into Timbertown. The friendly barkeep at the Brown Bear agrees (with some silver encouragement) to find a man that knows the trail and may be up for hire.

Arward is a slightly older man than the adventuring pair. He seems straightforward. He signs on to guide the party for five days or the mid-forest stockade, whichever comes first; and if the two sides get on, to rehire on with them to Safeton.

Wagons roll!

Party order: Belmont, full armor, riding. Preferred weapon, magical longsword. Arward walking ahead of or beside him. Arward carries all his own gear, just in case he has to dodge into concealing cover and run away. Preferred weapon, longbow.

Two drays and a wagon, with Hodd driving, Edgar in the back, Thomas perched up on watch (also with heavy armor but no helm) and Vert and Barky on patrol around the wagon or hopping up for a rest. Barky’s preferred weapon is a magical greataxe.

Gussie riding a palfry and with the light warhorse.

Oswald riding drag, also full armor but with kettle helm. Preferred weapon, halberd.

And as the wagon enters the Rangerward the session ends.

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