SC1.04: From Stonehill Inn to the Dwarf Excavation

The characters for this session

In alphabetic order

Dakeyras, level 1 wood elf rogue;
Garth, level 1 mountain dwarf fighter;
Grandor, level 1 mountain dwarf bard;
Hurey, level 1 human cleric;
Mathienne, level 1 human wizard;
Thorin, level 1 mountain dwarf cleric

The level ones begin on 36xp from level 2 and end on 32

New arrivals! And one too many…

As the five adventurers examine the jobs board, trying to pick between the two on offer, two newcomers arrive, coming up the same road as the original five. These two are a woman robed all in red and bearing a staff; and a sturdy dwarf clad in mail decorated with Clangeddin Silverbeard’s symbol.

In the background, townsfolk keep an eye on the group. Except for the pair of women laboring at the shrine under construction. Travok’s eye is drawn there. As the two newcomers introduce themselves as Mathienne (call me Mathie) – interested in demon-lore – and Thorin, speaker for Silverbeard – the massive-shouldered Travok drifts away toward that construction site.

General explanations are forthcoming, and a basic discussion of tackling the dragon, and the group tends to a consensus that the Dwarf Excavation courier job is the one to go for.

“I feel this… Harbin Wester… should be able to tell us more,” Garth decides. “I’m going to knock him up…”

A minor distraction: ’tis the season

There’s a sudden shout from the northeast. A cry of alarm! Garth, Mathie, Thorin and Hurey race toward that.

But standing off further away from the board Dakeyras has heard the cry more clearly: “Boar! Boar coming in from the north-east! No! It’s the north-west! North-west!” And accordingly he races in that direction.

Villagers, depending on whether they are reacting to the cry or to the direction, grab utensils or makeshift weaponry and hasten in one of two direction.

Left alone, Grandor relaxes in the thin late afternoon sun. He taps his drum thoughtfully. Over at the construction site Travok has fallen into conversation with the two women.

As it turns out, the disturbance is a wild boar making free of one of the village sows. Nothing to see here, Dakeyras decides. And as the less-fleet-footed villagers arrive with banging pans and so forth the boar flees the scene. But the incident does bring forth gossip about a beast named Gorthok Thunder-Boar, who is supposedly much larger than your average ridgeback.

XP: lvl2-35

The cowardly Townmaster

Garth, returning to the village square, nods to Grandor and says, “I think we were deciding on the Dwarf excavation? So, I need to speak to this Harbin Wester.” Grandor nods but in passing: he can see the others heading into the inn, the two newcomers swinging up their packs and going in as well. Some entertainment may beckon…

Garth walks round the jobs board into an east-west lane, and finds a south-facing door to the Townmaster’s well-built house. His knock yields a very solid sound. The door has been nailed shut?!?

Addie Gwynn, the gray-haired woman, bids him good evening, and after some door-kicking bids Garth shoulder it in. He does!

Garth makes a DC15 STR: Athletics check

There’s a protest from within. Harbin, the pallid fat scared Townmaster, falls to arguing fiercely with Addie. Meanwhile Hartley Haema – the red-head with Addie – exchanges greetings with Garth then heads in. Confident that Harbin will run down at some point Garth waits. And that is what happens.

Garth gets reasonable word-of-mouth on the courier job, and asks about Gorthok. Harbin has little to add on the latter, seeming to see it as wild yarns. Harbin’s reason for nailing the door shut is that dragons can masquerade as humans, and he seems to think he is the most likely victim. Having assured the Townmaster that he is not a dragin, and gotten some vague “you just keep going south-west” kind of trail advice – it seems unlikely Harbin has traveled there himself – Garth bids good night and heads back to the inn. Behind him, he hears the door being nailed shut.

XP: lvl2-34

Light entertainment in the Stonehill

In the inn, Tobe greets the two newcomers and arranges their lodging, while the others – Grandor, Dakeyras, Hurey – note that a youngish man is tuning a three-stringed instrument in the corner while Mayberry seated on his table watches; and another villager slumbers on the hearth.

Travok, the broad-shouldered dwarf from earlier, follows in line from Mathie and Thorin, and bargains with Tobe.

Mathie heads up to claim first bath, Thorin to stow gear, Dakeyras heads for his bunk and falls into a resting dream. Hurey heads up after Mathie, but she shuts the bath door firmly in his face, so he heads down to the musical corner where Grandor has struck up an awkward conversation with Galandro, a shy young southerner explains that he fiddles on an evening for lodging-fare. Thorin organizes his bunk and brings spare gear down for Tobe to mind, then seats ready for an evening meal.

Galandro comes out of his shell enough to explain that the sleeping chap is Talon, a not-very-successful panner of gold. He outlines what he knows of the life, referring them to the Exchange for more information.

The pair of musos, Grandor and Galandro, chat about life in a band and the upcoming festival and the former learns that the latter expects to be “volunteered” into help with setting up the festival. Grandor gives him free advice on coming out of his shell and pulling girls, and this gratuitous advice is received as such usually is.

By this time Shalla is calling Mayberry to wait tables, and Thorin has to choose between hot food or warmish bath. He opts for the bath first.

By the time Thorin is back at table, Garth has arrived and beckons him over. During the meal, having learned that they are likely to be off south-west the following day, Tobe collects money due from all there.

Dak already paid for his wine, and Mathie chose the local, so everyone is only down the basic 1 gold coin. Grandor is a room upgrade thanks to his being available for the Festival and evenings.

There’s an amusing interlude as Mathie wonders if dwarf kind has some kind of “find other dwarves” inbuilt sense. She is soon corrected (in amicable fashion) and just as amiably apologizes.

Your trusty guide, I’ll be

Following the evening meal and upstairs settling in, all of the adventurers are now as up with the latest information as word of mouth can provide. All they lack now is really intimate knowledge of the lie of the land. Garth heads back downstairs to find Tobe.

Tobe describes the first few miles reasonably clearly and thinks sure, Talon there (still sleeping) probably traveled out that way…

Galandro and Talon

Stirred to wakefulness, Talon yawns and gets his bearings. Now Garth can see him, Talon is quite young, or youngish: dressed in fur-lined gear ideal for freezing river panning, with a coonskin cap.

He tries to bargain, but Garth is too many for him. The price drops rapidly from five to one gold coin. Then Garth undoes all his good work by advancing half the fee. Talon immediately heads to the bar with six strong beer’s worth of silver…

“Be ready to wake up early,” Garth reminds him as he heads back upstairs. “Early, sure sure,” Talon says reassuringly.

Plow horses aren’t disposable

The following dawn the party shakes out. Hmmm, water, backpack, armor… if we want to get there today then we need either a pack horse or to travel light.

Garth heads round back and finds Bensen the tall bearded farrier-ostler starting the day’s work. Over at the small forge the two lads are pumping bellows and tossing in combustibles.

Bensen, Vox and Pop

Yes, the village plow-horse could be hired… but it’s the only in-common beast, so you’ll have to cover full costs in advance. The asking hire is 25 gold coins, out of reach of anything but a pooled fund among all of the party. So Garth declines.

O’er hill and dale

Travelling light, they head downhill, cross the stepping-stones where already women are washing and younger girls fetching fresh buckets of water, and begin the south-west trek. The last few peaks of the Sword mountains are a fine landmark. Many paths, some more like game trails but others used by pack beasts, allow travel that way.

Towards the end of the day, Grandor asks, “come to think of it, didn’t we have a guide?”

By that time Dak, who by and large is lead scout with Hurey backing him up, is signaling that caution may be needed.

Once again the scouts make one good and one bad check, in this case INT: Nature. They follow this up with mixed WIS: Survival checks as well.

Other than noting signs of other travelers and that a rainstorm would make the canyons ahead perilous, there’s nothing to be learnt. The pair wave the others on and descend from where they have scrambled.

Norb and Dazza are at home to guests

The notch visible from beyond leads deeper between foothills and becomes a full canyon. By the time Hurey (forward) and Dak (rear) finish clambering down, the party is in sight of ancient, part-ruinous blackstone walls, broken gates allowing entrance to deep dark beyond.

Perception checks for relevant party positions to listen fore and aft

Mathie lights a torch and the party pushes onward. Hurey throws Light on this or that rock face as they all advance. A dueling grumble of voices beyond the visible walls of a ruined settlement suggest that the dwarves they expect to find are in residence.

Sneak, or yell? They decide to holler ahead.

The right choice! Dazlyn “Dazza” Grayshard and Norbus “Norb” Ironrune are grumbling at one another like an old married couple by their campsite fire. Guests are welcome! Away from that but close enough for the fire to provide some comfort a donkey or small mule stands. Provisions, pottery trove, and assaying gear litter the camp area, which seems to be the outer, west gate of a temple complex cut into the bowels of the mountains.

Norb carefully mixes some makeshift ink and signs the chit to show that the message – dragon on the wing in the region – has been received. Then Dazza says casual-like:

“Say, if you are interested in rewards, and staying on the night, there is a thing you could do while you’re here…”

“Does it involve demons?” Mathie asks immediately.

Dazza up-sells his basic pitch on the fly to make it all seem – possibly – the work of demons! The job is killing slimes, which apparently are all over the inner chambers and making life difficult for prospectors/tomb robbers.

XP: lvl2-33, with more to come if they get the chit back to Harbin or Tobe

Hooch and a handshake

Norb and Dazza are interested in Grandor’s drum. A bit of an impromptu jam session begins. Norbus improves the moment, fishing out a stash of prison-block hooch: he passes it round and time passes.

The party does need money… and since they are not tired out from traveling light, it sounds like a basic agreement. Grandor, who is the party’s best negotiator, steps back to finalize terms. Hurey throws guidance on this.

Result! Dazza and Grandor shake on two Sending Stones, and five gold nuggets.

The party begins sorting out gear that will be most helpful inside the temple, and set bedrolls out around the fire.

XP: lvl2-32

Epilogue

Later that night, Dakeyras, having had his elven rest, steps forward and scans the temple entrance. Hewn from the canyon’s back wall, a thirty-foot-high temple facade features steps rising to a stone platform. Cut into this facade is a ten-foot-high open doorway flanked by crumbling, life-sized granite statues of cloaked dwarves. Evil grins can be seen on their weatherworn faces. The wood elf doesn’t recognize the odd-shaped sword symbol beneath the carven dwarf hands. But Thorin has already seen it, and knows it from his seminary’s lessons. It is the symbol of Abbathor, known in Thorin’s liturgy as the Great Master of Greed.

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