The Long Roaders for this session
Cat, level 8 warlock, with Dis his familiar, riding Gray Lady the old mare;
Phoenix, level 8 barbarian, walking leading Solipsist and Neerdowell the pack-mules;
Seck, level 8 rogue, walking leading Rott his fine horse
The Long Roaders begin 25xp from level 9 and end on 17
For those who came in late
Adeline the Evangelist asks the Long Roaders to go sort out a growing hobgoblin threat in the Ironwood Gorge area: but before that, to help her old mentor Jahia, who is active in the High Forest area against marauding giants.
The Long Roaders quest their way up the Black Road, righting wrongs that mostly relate to a tangle of hag mischief centered around the hill country east of Mount Mourn. As they link to Jahia at Grimmsgate, the threats become more god-level. Jahia condemns herself to die while saving them all from a deadly banshee.
The Long Roaders win her an extension as they clear Hagsjaw village of an existential threat from beyond the stars. But a new patron, Himmelganger the cloud giant, offers both future help and a time limit. Finish up with the hags around Three Hags Lakes, then get on with his urgent mission. Once-peaceful wood giants have become infected by some demonic presence. Oh and as a side-mission, get rid of Bad Fruul!
Part one – Blizzard battle! Bogdan bottles!
The weather in the change to Ches can be like this, but Seck is not so sure, this blizzard seems unnatural. Visibility is down to about 30′ and that is heavily obscured. The storm seems to be coming from the higher peaks north or north-west.
The trail takes the string of men and mounts roughly east towards Wolf Hamlet, and as far as they can judge given the slow pace, they are nearly there.
Cat peers through his gloved fingers at a lumpy obstacle ahead. A pretty play, and a traditional one at that! A wagon, load partly looted; a lady in danger of being ravished, and a gloating bandit! Well, there’s no point sending Dis out for a scout, the local fey seem to be laying low and the chill might kill her.
Cat has DC20+ on Perception
He calls warning back, and catching that, the bravo reacts and three – no, four – more figures appear from around the wagon. The bravo showily re-ties his trews and swaggers forward:
“Begone! No-one messes with the Hounds of Herlithford and lives to tell the tale!”
Cat resist this Intimidation, including his d10 Rep, and gets to DC29!
“So, what’s happening lads, we could kill you or you could hoof it?”
Inits: Phoenix/Caster, Cat, Seck, all remaining bandits
Round 1: Phoenix drops the mule leads and hustles up to Cat’s side. Seck feels a deep chill, but [DC15] shakes it off. “F*** off little caster!” he yodels, alerting the others. Cat raises his Staff of the Seas and calls:
“Wall of water!”
A 30′ barrier of water rises between he and the bandits. Seck stretches his senses and scans around: DC13 Nature: he picks up big trees left and rising rocky ground that would hide a sniping caster. Leaving Rott ground-hitched he races across the poor ground and scrambles into cover. DC25 Perception, he sees a strange contraption up to his right on the highest point nearest the road. It reminds him of gnomish work with its angles and brass-clasped glass. He readies Maelsauga for a target.
From a copse to Cat’s right a hulking bare-handed man – carrying himself like a seasoned professional and showing no fear – darts at him and slams a flurry of punches into Gray Lady’s neck. Her knees wobble and Cat makes a decent DC14 Acrobatics dismount! His mount covers him from attacks. He’s aware of the other bandits advancing around the wall.
Round 2: Phoenix rages, runs around Gray Lady’s head and to a point where he can cut the monk and quickly get to the nearest bandit, and swings Mocair! The monk parries but not quick enough: he grunts as Mocair slices through his thick winter robes. Phoenix’ carry-through attack misses the other bandit.
Over at the rocky outcrop a pool of mist hazes the terrain near Seck, quickly succumbing to the weather but potentially covering someone’s retreat.
Cat throws up Armor of Agathys as bandits, all armed with big choppy polearms, advance. He slides the Staff down by Gray Lady and draws his Rod ready: details Dis off to watch the Staff.
Seck peers up at the contraption. Getting a handle on its small size, he essays a fling of Maelsauga, part-dislodging it. A good kick would knock it out of its footing. But being cautious Seck squiggles over some rocks further back and Hides.
Gray Lady recovers her footing, though winded. The monk ignores Phoenix who has moved away, and throws a blur of blows at Cat. The warlock is hurled back prone and is stunned with two levels of exhaustion. Ice damage rips into the monk! The halberdiers swing clumsily and only one connects: the man screams and pitches back, frozen dead instantly! But it still hurt. The monk surges, attacks Phoenix, and throws another flurry of blows! The Coaster’s Shield reaction with his brooch avoids much of the damage but he does receive a level of exhaustion. With a chuckle and a word of praise for his goon, the big bandit Phoenix missed cuts him twice and forces him to kick out of a bolas trap, then two bandits chop at Phoenix, one connecting! Phoenix has lost a good deal of wind and is already struggling.
Round 3: Phoenix has plenty of targets and swings at one of the normal bandits, staggering him then cutting him in half with Mocair’s return swing. As a bonus action from this success Phoenix swings at the monk, but Mocair is deflected. Phoenix moves back to flank Cat and takes a reaction cut from a halberd, but luckily for the Coaster the big bandit chief misses.
“We can kill you all day!” Cat boasts, rising and walking forward – taking another heavy cut on his armor from his remaining bandit attacker who promptly falls dead of ice damage – and hurls the last regular bandit back past the wall of water – knocking him prone – and with a second Repelling Blast crit, pushes the monk back.
Over at the dead ground Seck scrambles over the intervening rocks and up to the device, kicks it over and finishes with the Hide action.
A red spot drops between Cat and Phoenix and they hurl themselves away! Cat just makes his DEX SV! The fire burns away the last of his Armor of Agathys: luckily the blizzard immediately puts out any flames. Phoenix scans around and spots a woman hiding by the frozen bodies. He takes his eyes off the monk and chief doing this, but for some reason they don’t take advantage of it.
Round 4: Just in time before he can take on the monk and chief, Phoenix makes his DEX SV and leaps back! There’s a Ward where the illusions of the pair are! Instead he turns and rushes at the woman. At the same time she slams him with a crippling Blight, a banshee-like screech tearing his thick clothing and searing the flesh off his ribs. And she runs for safety away to the cart. Phoenix retreats…
Cat retrieves the Staff:
– he can’t be sure where she is but the whirlpool catches the cart, at least. Seck peers about, spotting Phoenix retreating with clothes and skin hanging in rags. Just at the furthest point of his vision he can catch the Maelstrom shape. He breaks cover, slides down from the rocks, and heads there, taking Ready action to fling Maelsauga. Sure enough, he can see solid objects and bits of timber whirling about in it. But no target. Then a crossbow bolt slams into Cat and the monk (dodging Maelsauga) runs to the mounts. Cat’s Maelstrom disperses.
Round 5: Phoenix bits his own lip to keep rage going, swigs his last potion (minimal results!) and cowers in cover by the rocks.
The caster fails her Death roll.
“Gray Lady is danger my lord,” Dis alerts Cat, who swings about, and hammers the monk back 20′ with two Repelling Blasts including a crit. “Seriously – kill you all day!!” Cat roars. “Shouldn’t take that long,” Seck purrs. He can orient himself toward the monk by the violet blasts thrown out by his comrade, and uses his rogue tricks and the Skirmishers Boots to get right back between the monk and the mounts. But Red Whisper slides past the monk’s parrying stance. In response the monk slams Deck back with three levels of exhaustion and Cat takes another heavy bolt as Crossbow Expert allows the chief to fire again. Luckily Seck’s Uncanny Dodge allows him to stay conscious, though prone. The monk moves up to menace Seck.
Round 6: Phoenix dashes back – but disoriented by the blizard and with a Survival check below DC8, runs the wrong way.
The caster fails her Death roll.
Cat switches to his Rod of Osuz and casts Blight on the monk: he falls with a horrid cry! Seck uses his war and adventurer experience and advances to the likely point of crossbowman cover, the copse. Uses Inspiration to get a decent Perception check. Yep, there’s a man-shaped blob in there. He hurls Maelsauga, it strikes home in the chief. Who works his way around a ward on the ground near Seck and attempts to yank the rogue into it! Seck slides out of his grasp. The chief gouges Seck’s eyes but Uncanny Dodge avoids blinding. Under the furs he’s wearing his head is bald – it’s Bogdan!
Round 7: Phoenix orients himself with a Luck point and races back, again in mostly the wrong direction but it accidentally does bring him back to Cat.
The caster fails her Death roll.
Cat throws Repelling Blast and knocks Bogdan clear of Seck, back to the first branches of the copse. Who yells a warning about the Ward and jinks around, summons Maelsauga back and throws again. Then retreats.
Bogdan yanks Maelsauga out, rams it into a branch and legs it.
Round 8: Phoenix takes direction for where the Ward is and yells “Do we want to chase him?”
“Absolutely! Get him! We can kill him all day!” Cat yells while undertoning: “no, not in this weather,” and Seck signals “no” – but Phoenix hasn’t picked up on Cat’s deception and pauses, then shrugs “no, I guess I’m not keen.”
Investigating the scene the Long Roaders find:
Loot: A reasonably healthy cart-horse; boxes of goods that are waterlogged but can be resold; bracers of defense+1 on the caster’s body; 20 gold coin worth of small-denomination coin on the various bodies; and finally a vaguely gnome-work-like gadget with lenses and folding rods.
Part Two – Wolf Hamlet
Long hammering at the gate of the stockaded Wolf Hamlet at length brings a householder and his son out of shelter. After assurances and some suspicious peering through a judas-gate they unbar and urge the weary and deep-chilled Long Roaders in. The Great Tree looms just off west of the hamlet. Sensible, the draft-horse, seems to know the place, nudging Phoenix in the back as though to urge him in.
Urged to the stables first while the householder alerts the tavern, they waste no time getting under cover. A bare stableyard, between stables and a fair-size tree, allows Seck breath to investigate what he has already briefed the others on: he peers about and quickly finds the acorn of Silvanus and the claw-on-moon of Malar, both deeply carved into the dark old stable beams and with no attempt to disguise.
Two other horses are there in the stable, one a shaggy mountain breed, the other a lady’s palfrey. As the Long Roaders begin unharmessing and currying, two big and unfriendly dogs bound round and it takes Phoenix an effort to calm them!
Flint, of the trader post of the same name, arrives. He welcomes them, explains the basics, and asks if they have an appointment with the chief?
Explanations made, Flint sets off to inform the chief while they finish up and head over to the Fireblaze Tavern.
There, Hasvar Taverner and Grienella Brewster have things well in hand, and mulled ale is presented before a very warm fire. Two day-women help with disrobing and blankets. As the warmth spreads from inside and out, Cat answers the locals’ politely probing questions as honestly as he can.
As far as he can gauge, the locals seek assurance that the newcomers aren’t looking into or against local beliefs. Grienella presents them with more hot ale – warning them it is poison to liars – and asks directly if the Long Roaders are agents of the Inquisition. Is rather cool to Cat, the obvious Teulon. And takes quite a shine to Seck, warning him to keep his hands off her girls. It seems she has heard a paladin is working for the Inquisition. They assuage her fears as best they can.
With two hours’ Short Rest Phoenix rolls ALL the dice! Cat and Seck sit pat, expecting a good night.
A group CHA check (Phoenix and Cat making double figures) makes the locals easy.
The factions as far as they have learnt:
- The locals have Silvanus and Malar and don’t bother with other saints or demons, and don’t even mention The One
- The bandits under Bogdan are not friends, but are too powerful to say no to. The draft horse cart and supplies were all taken from here (the Long Roaders decide to return everything)
- Bad Fruul lives nearby (they don’t say where) and Bogdan has an arrangement there. Until recently, bugbears and hobgoblins strengthened the Bad Fruul faction but they seem to have gone now.
About an hour after the main feed-up – Grienella seems to pride herself on feeding rare newcomers – an imposing druid enters. His robes and furs mark a strong connection to Malar.
Varane, senior druid, is doing due diligence in much the same way the tavern folk have, but with a more strategic level of concern. He’s already tied them in to the rangers hunting one another. He’s OK that Yarami is dead – no loss here. As to Bad Fruul, he has concern that the death of the giant may make things worse. What more he seeks is simply that both factions remain neutral to one another.
The last interruption before bedtime is Nolan, pre-teen handsome son of Var Bowyer. The door slams open and the Long Roaders have, once again, to quench the thirst for adventure of yet another starry-eyed wanna-be.
Nolan blabs a little more than the locals are happy with – something about the ‘others’ and silver – before Grienella distracts him and sends him back home with a sleepy-making draft of ‘the strong.’
Long Rest! The monk-inflicted exhaustion levels disappear, as does general road exhaustion
In a calmer dawn – light but cold winds from the mountains bringing rain – the Long Roaders gently josh one another about romance! Seck admits he is quite interested in Gwen… he keeps quiet about Tastra. Walking from stables to well, they register the small size of the hamlet – no more than 160 paces lengthwise and no more than 100 breadthwise. Then they are called: chief Korva is ready.
The old dark smoke-stained hall is deep-carven with ancient design. Very distant from Teulon sensibilities. Retainers, all armed, stand along the hall. “I can vouch for the quality of the ale,” Phoenix replies to Seck who is cheerfully telling them he feels as fine as he has done for some while. Korva sits on a high-raised chair at top of the room and beside him, on a lower seat, sits lady Ioanna, who must be… his daughter? Korva is blind but seems still able to fight; Ioanna’s age is hard to determine but she carries herself as one who has known bloodshed and adventure.
Cat runs over their intentions in very much the same vein as he has done twice so far. Korva’s concerns are kept close to his scarred chest.
Ioanna asks if rumor be true, and they seek a lost elf city. Cat assures her that’s another person’s concern – she separated from them a while back. He explains a little more and Seck mentions something that [he thought] Varane said.
Korva asks that Varane be called.
While waiting, Ioanna tries Phoenix in the Plains Tribes tongue. Since he has that language thanks to Mocair he answers in the same. She responds:
“In my younger adventuring days, I traveled with your people”
“I hadn’t heard of you as a Coaster?”
“Oh but I spoke to you as from the Plains?”
“I know that language because of Mocair, here.”
Ioanna asks permission to look at the great axe and seems surprised. “This is a weapon of the old people! Father, he could be the one!”
“Oh he’s a one all right” – Seck
Luckily this sally is taken for a well-timed jest.
“The one?” – Cat
Ioanna begins explaining but there is an interruption.
At this point Varane enters, but not the imposing Varane of last night. No, he seems weak, one foot dragging and his speech slurred. At Cat’s agreement Dis checks him out – he does not notice – and reports that he is not evil. Phoenix is not short of an explanation – hags! Varane rests on Ioanna’s chair. The other two druids, barrel-chested Garynn and lanky Ian, are called and seek to aid him.
Cat’s Charlatan background and a nat 20 enables him to spot that Ian is fake-helping, and may actually be trying to nobble the first-aid efforts
There’s a confrontation – Cat wrenches a vial from Ian’s grasp – Ian snarls “He was getting in my way! MAALARRR!” and wolfs out! A hideous howl erupts from his now-shaggy throat! He seizes a spear from a stunned retainer and leaps at the top dais where Korva and Varane sit.
Inits: Phoenix/Cat, Seck, Ian
Phoenix moves to intercept! Two cuts sink into Ian’s flank. Seck uses the time to get round between Ian and Varane and as the druid-werewolf leaps forward, jaws agape, rams Red Whisper home – crit! – and out the back of Ian’s neck!
Silence falls. Then Garynn breaks it: “Now we know it’s poison, I can attend to it.”
Seck heads off to search Ian’s cot, while the other two remain to discuss matters. The Long Roaders appear to have won Ioanna’s favor at least. Cat sells the plan to attempt Bad Fruul. He name-checks Himmelganger and assures Korva that Jahia only expects to die, not sell anyone out to the Inquisition.
Seck returns flourishing tanned human skin with hag writing on it!
Mission approved! Korva agrees to provide directions, and Ioanna places her hands on Phoenix’ hands (nat 20 from Phoenix!) and tells him that when he goes north, she will go with him!
Wow, what a session for nat 20s! Cat made at least 5, Seck and Phoenix rolled them at the best times. Next session, we’ll see how many allies Bad Fruul has left. Stay tuned!
Bandits from Ragged Hollow Nightmare mixed with the basic concept from Secret of Lupo Grace. Most of Wolf Hamlet and its surrounds is from Of Beasts and Men but the hamlet map is from Secret of Lupo Grace, which is quite a tidy little design for a hamlet, and deserves praise since @Bryce (correctly) points out the entire premise isn’t actually an “adventure” so much as a set-piece preface to an adventure and the skeletal outline of a different adventure.
For those interested I’m using a 2d8 weather table. I wrote it for the Sword Coast, add 1 in Spring and Autumn:
|x8 wind||x8 rain|
|5||PREV light||occasionally rainy|