DGA8.02: The Black Road, part two – Shopping, Shipping, and Setting Out

The Long Roaders for this session

In order of the initiative rolled at end of session:

Vir, level 8 ranger with the Hunter archetype and non-standard features. Vir takes the Sharpshooter feat at level 8 and otherwise leaves his proficiencies as they are. His level 8 Fleet of Foot feature (UA:2016) allow him the Dash action as a bonus action.

Seck, level 8 rogue with the (UA:2017) Scout archetype. Seck takes the Skulker feat at level 8 and switches out Water Transport proficiency, bringing in Deception.

Phoenix, level 8 barbarian with the Totem Warrior archetype, rocking Sea Eagle in both totem and aspect. Phoenix takes the Lucky feat at level 8 and otherwise leaves his proficiencies as they are. Overnight, he de-attunes his Sea Dragon Fangs and attunes his Boots of Jungle Travel.

Cat, level 8 warlock with the Archfey (Titania) Pact of the Tome and fey familiar named Dis with a range of non-standard features that dovetail with his Pact powers. Cat picks up the Skilled feat at level 8 and otherwise leaves his proficiencies as they are.

The Long Roaders are 165xp from level 9

Current mission: Seek out their patron, the paladin Jahia, and aid her against Giantish foes.

Side missions

1. Rescue the sage Brecbry who disappeared near Ingramhurst, and also rescue the Flaming Fist mercs sent to rescue Brecbry. Or return their IDs and remains to Schmitford. Ingramhurst’s knight Sir Fenton Atchard dwells at Atchard’s Keep, above Ingramhurst. The village is a day’s travel up the Black Road on the fringe of the High Forest.
2. Assist the delivery of St Berronar’s armlet to Grimmsgate, and also safeguard Dark, the monk of St Berronar who wishes to ensure its delivery. The village of Grimmsgate lies deep in the High Forest up the Black Road, and is believed to be where Jahia has a forward operating base.

Shopping

Cat, having sent his report with a good tip to the boatman to Stiglehold, decides to research more of Brecbry’s purpose. No doubt both spiritual and mundane hierarchies have their network of spies. On balance he decide to stick with the mundane and bribes his way up to a conversation with Telas, 2-1-c to Count Landis and a chap Cat has briefly seem across a council table in Leischport.

Telas seems really busy and does not see why Willi Sevenleague isn’t dealing with this polite but unwelcome enquirer. Other than getting a better understanding of threats along the Black Road and being granted access to the non-secure part of the Count’s library Cat gets no further with Telas. However, tomorrow is another day.

Out in the rain-drenched city nothing too bad can happen. I ask for a d4 for people roaming, 1 is straightforward, 4 is mildly challenging.

DM

Phoenix has quite a lot of time on his hands and heads out to look for lightweight waterproof gear. He has to drive off urchins trying to cut his purse, but copes with that easily. The Long Roaders are known to be popular with the powers that be and the urchins are warned off.

Speaking with Trader Moorehead Phoenix learns that he can purchase expensive anoraks made out of crocodile gut, very much in the fashion of the old-timers among Phoenix’ people. Or he can head out some miles up the Alshon towards the Hoirq swamp, and buy direct from the lizardfolk. Phoenix happily counts out 4 gold apiece for the Braztex anoraks.

Vir finishes gathering his news of the road, and now with some insight on where to shop easiest, heads out to cover the bulk of adventuring gear and clothing shopping. He meets some delightful ladies who offer to help. As he hesitates, seeking the right formula for politely declining, he finds that a lady is on each arm and that they are helping.

Other than paying quite a lot more silver coins than he was expecting to, Vir finds this is a painless experience and maybe even more fun than just bargaining alone.

He has no great luck sensing or asking for a druid grove. He will need to find a new senior druid by level 9, or else revisit Oleanne over in the Blessed Forest.

The Long Roaders’ equipment dice pool is recharged to 8d6. They all wear the local version of explorer’s clothes, and those needing boots have new ones.

Only three hours remain until dusk by the time Seck has returned from striking his agreement with Dark and Gul, but he decides to push on with securing mounts. The rain persists, and water pools at his feet as he stands at the open doorway to the Fist’s HQ. The smell of char-grilled sausage fills his nostrils and his tummy rumbles! Following his nose he finds Liara and five of her mercs in the first room he entered last time, using the fireplace as a makeshift kitchen.

“Fresh rat?” enquires the first merc that bragged up Seck’s deeds last time; Seck happily accepts. He’s had worse!

Liara makes introductions all round and agrees to get things moving. After a couple of minutes she returns with a Flaming Fist-motif-decorated cape and the pair of them slog out through the rain to what seems to be a makeshift stables and farriery, set among a more general animal-works quarter.

Liara provides advantage to Seck’s CHR check, which he adds his Rep d10 to.

In some cases getting help from other farriers, horse-coper Feinschist trots out half a dozen horses and Seck picks three perfectly sound beasts and a placid fourth for Cat. Then accepts two recommended wise and hard-working mules.

Liara’s Flaming Fist picks up the tab, it’s her privilege to help the Long Roaders in their quest for her men.

Feinschist mentions gate passes. Obviously, they can’t go riding out of Schmitford without them. Liara explains (away from Feinschist) that Willi gave her men wooden county passes.

The Long Roaders catch one another up, and take the opportunity for a

Long Rest, during which spells and skills are swapped

The bribe Cat paid advances the timeframe for Stiglehold’s response by 11 hours. Their sapphire rank guild tags will arrive an hour before midday.

Telas again

Cat makes another attempt to gain information from Telas and, thanks to his previous bribe, gains an early appointment. Telas has more time for Cat, but still hasn’t got a great deal to share. Brecbry is investigating an ancient civilization. He refers Cat to the bard Orlin, who is presently supervising at the KK warehouse.

Telas hands six county passes, all stamped, over with a black mark against Willi for not covering this already. These are the same deliberately-temporary passes the Long Roaders got for their Thane Braden mission.

Mounts

Vir sends animal messengers out. It’s going to be a bit hit-or-miss given the distance.

Then, wearing anoraks, Seck Vir and Phoenix head to the horses with all the gear. There’s a little break in the weather, though Vir and Seck agree there’s another storm coming. Admiring folk point the adventurers out to one another.

Seck makes introductions to Feinschist and heads east to the Green Tankard. Vir and Phoenix handle the horses, introducing themselves to the beasts, and choose their personal mount.

Phoenix will ride Blau.

Vir will ride Schwarze.

That leaves Rott for Seck and the placid one for Cat. They inspect the mules, share some hot ale with the hands, and wait for the others.

An easy incident

Passing a pub named the Four Winds Cat comes upon a crime scene. Body in the alley! It is being energetically looted while onlookers discuss its identity. Cat warns the looters off! Then details a young fit fellow off to fetch the law.

The body is Marc, a young journeyman of the Ropers. Heavily bitten all over, perhaps a small dog or fox? Dis can’t find any tracks, given the rain that’s fallen. She says a brief elegy over the body and returns to her snug under Cat’s hat.

The town watch officer arrives, Cat gains a more exact direction to the KK warehouse, and leaves him to his job.

Dark and Gul are ready!

A cheery boatman delivers Seck safely to the east dock, he walks on past the Inquisition – exchanging a half-salute to a guard there – to the Green Tankard.

The common room’s heat is easier to cope with, now Seck is wearing southern clothing. He accepts another of the best ale and settles in to wait for the dwarves, chatting modestly with locals and turning down more ale.

Gul – laden with parcels and packing his heavy crossbow – and Dark – carrying a few parcels – arrive and Seck heads upstairs with them. They finish their packing while he waits. Gul seems to be the chatty one, and a little eccentric; Dark is a dwarf of few words.

And they head out, to general well wishes.

Shipping in the KK

The KK Warehouse is a small-to-mid size place, much the same volume as the Long Roaders’ own warehouse. It seems to be undergoing renovation or spring cleaning.

Cat follows the sounds of a mellifluous and carrying voice, upstairs. A well-dressed, slightly dandyish man is directing work, cheerily.

Orlin Swift seems to know that Cat is in pact with Titania. He and Cat step away to a private spot.

Orlin sings the praise of Brecbry, chasing is more than half the fun. His information is that she headed up the Black Road with a charming pretty fellow named Larry Ames. She seems to be hunting a lost civilization. Possibly elven, or something darker. Since Larry is heading for Grimmsgate, perhaps that has something to do with Brecbry’s search.

Speaking of Grimmsgate, and the same dragon-cult information Telas already has, Orlin understands that the paladin Jahia is a very fine looking woman for her age? Yes, she has been blessed with a long life, Cat agrees, beginning to dislike the man.

Orlin also met and admired Elke at the time she formed a party with Cale and Luth Starag. In fact Orlin knows both Starags and that Luth is in debt to his cousins. Elke recruited two scouts – or pack-carriers as Orlin puts it – to travel with them. Orlin guesses the party might be named Elke’s Tail…

Cat is part-charmed by Orlin’s easy magnetism and leaves with no serious grudge despite the bard’s too-familiar way of speaking of Jahia and Elke. And when Orlin opines that Cat already occupies Elke’s heart, Cat warms to the dandy.

Marcham’s Keep is in trouble – but we’re off!

Crowds are there to see the Long Roaders off. Halflings among them, including one, dark-cloaked, with unusually pale and sharp-chinned features.

Awww… forgotten already!

Cat meets his mount for the first time:

“And which of these fine steeds is mine?”

“This one here, it’s a steady beast.”

“Did it come with a name or am I to name it?”

“It’s called Bodybag… it came in with a dead man on its back.”

“Oh… good-oh.”

Willi, who now formally hands over their Sapphire-rank tags, bids them farewell as the dwarves mount up their mules Solipsist and Neerdowell. They conjointly politely turn down both a late offer of delay and investment in a winter caravan, and an urgent message brought by halfling courier Treasureby from the South Firth. Sir Marcham is in trouble? OK but we’re not going that way.

How about you dwarves?

“My mission is to Grimmsgate,” Dark states.

“I guess I’m ridin’ herd on him… and I got me own reason for headin’ up ta th’ High Forest,” Gul hints.

Halfway to Ingramhurst

Worked fields and orchards give way to coppiced groves and nut-bearing stands. The land is rolling and rivulets sound loud as they race down towards the Alshon. They tend to cut the road, and in places heap up debris against culverts, then flood or even cut the road.

Party order:

Seck and Vir

Gul and Dark

Cat and Phoenix

Sure enough, the storm hits. Lightning leaps from sky to earth repeatedly. But all three that have amounts of ironware have safely bundled their armor. The horses prove their steadiness as Vir Seck and Phoenix successfully soothe them.

Naturally all riders keep their eyes peeled. There’s ample cover, but not specially close to the road. The only point of note is that tracks of men and a light wagon show that a party joined the road from the right or Alshon side.

On they go into deepening dusk. Their options are camping overnight in the wet, or pushing through the night.

Emerging from the copselands, left of road, race an undisciplined group of raggedy-armored men! There are six afoot, and behind them ride, atop a huge dog or worg each, two more.

Those afoot rush forward, mostly armed only with sidearms. They are 150′ away when they emerge, but Cat is the only traveler that is bothered by the obscuring distance.

Initiatives: Vir, Seck, Phoenix, Cat, Gul, Worgriders, Dark, Footsloggers

And as the session ends the Long Roaders are 160xp from level 9

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