The level 10 heroes for this session
Our heroes begin with 4805xp plus 30% story bonus, and gain 4560xp plus 5% story bonus.
The story so far
Beginning with an instruction to investigate Hobgoblin forces in Ironwood Gorge, the Long Roaders join local Inquisitor Ulric von Kessel in a quest to defeat the Hobgoblin Warlord! As the nearest town under threat, Drellin’s Ferry becomes their first base.
The Drellin’s Ferry captain Sorannah believes the next great threat will come from the Witchwood, a thick band of forest lying north-east of the town. Local noble and Speaker Norro Wiston urges them west, to investigate the thorn wastes behind Murder Cliffs.
The case for a delay
Before they make final plans though, Cat asks that he be given time to speak to senior mage Sertieren the Wise:
“Now that I’ve got him safe here with his plentiful supply of buns, I want to ask him to Scry for me. I have to find this ‘tower'” – here he refers to the Dark Tower his lady love is supposedly immured in – “and I’ve been met with round-shouldered shrugs all round. I need to find out if he can, at the very least.”
“If you’re asking about your lady I’m gonna have a chat with Luskar, he said he has something to tell me about my lady,” Phoenix rumbles.
“You have a lady?”
“You mean that cleric or whatever at Mooregate?”
“I mean Uili, remember, I paid for her to be raised from the dead.”
“Maybe your mage could have a scry over Ironwood Gorge? Every time I run into these bl***y hobgoblins they have hellhounds, and it’s stepping all over my schtick,” Seck wonders.
“I could walk around and speak to the guards, check if they know aught of the Witchwood,” Ulric mentions.
Five quick conversations
Phoenix: finds Luskar at leisure in the Old Bridge Inn. Waving Phoenix to a seat and the bar staff to bring a further jack of ale, Luskar is ready to answer Phoenix:
“Yah Vili, der priest at Schmitford spoke to Vili’s spirit, und she said she duss not vant to return – she got the death in battle she alvays vanted.”
Then seeing Phoenix’ hurt look, Luskar hastily adlibs:
“Und I was about to say, ‘priest! no! Phoenix really vants Vili’ but then he left.”
“He seemed nice… so, Phoenix mine vriend” – here Luskar changes the subject – “you are offf on a mission to der Vitchvood? Going to scout out der enemy are you?! Dat’s der vay!”
A couple of shady types leave the bar at this stage…
Seck: finds Bax the crossbow expert at leisure judiciously inspecting crossbow bolts. He only has one quick question, and it’s about the aristocrat that – back in the rescue in goblin valley – led her fist.
Bax, with just her average number of cusswords, explains that their handler Liora – currently based in Brindol – got him promoted sideways.
“That’s for the best.”
“Yep, else he woulda wore a )*(&(*&(*& hole in the back of his (*&(* head. By the way, I hear you’re headed to the Witchwood?”
Ulric: tours a number of outposts, talks up morale, learns no-one goes into the Witchwood if they can help it, and that it’s common gossip that he is traveling into it with his party.
Cat: finds Sertieren rather busy (those cream buns aren’t going to stay fresh much longer) but yes, once he is permitted back into his manor, the diminutive mage can work the Scry ritual. And by the way, he hears Cat is heading into the Witchwood with his party?
Vir: is approached by an urchin, who respectfully doffs his hat. On closer inspection the urchin has horns, red skin, and yellow eyes. Introduces himself as Will, and avows he has a favor to repay. A follower of the Old Ones tells Will that there may be a magical bow to be found in the ruins of Rhest. Which, guarded by dark elves, lies beyond the Witchwood: whence, so Will hears, the Long Roaders are bound. Will takes his leave, and as he dons his hat, appears a normal urchin once more.
A cunning feint seems warranted
Cat cannot but sound a mite upset as the team regathers.
“Of course there are spies in town, the hobgoblins aren’t going to attack blind. Now they know we are here and where we are going.”
“We could fool them and go west to the Murder Cliffs after all.”
This sounds attractive but Sorannah’s reason for making the Witchwood a priority seemed genuine.
“Well we could head towards the west then fool everyone by doubling back.”
“Except the only way to double back is to take the ferry here in town.”
“We could say we are travelling the north bank to find out where the hobgoblins are crossing.”
Seck is caught by this idea, because he’s always disbelieved lady Elis von Klarch’s tale that Arcenaur the druid helps them.
Talk of Arcenaur occupies the team for some minutes.
Cat brings the talk back to the time issue. The longer they delay the more time the hobgoblins have to prepare something nasty. The best policy is to use their mounts to just get to the Witchwood right now!
Time for a vote! 3 people agree with Cat. Seck prepares to say “I told you so.”
Bestellen takes the reins
After a swift ride into the dusk, they dismount on the fringes of the Witchwood.
I go with a CON SV rather than Riding based skill check. Everyone is fine, though Cat has a slim margin between ‘fine’ and ‘one level short-rest exhaustion.’ Vir, with Seck helping, makes a check for signs of the old trail the druid Avarthel spoke of.
As Vir has warned, it’s no country for good horses. Ulric ensures everyone has tidied their reins up and hands over to Bestellen. The war steed rounds up the remuda and leads it back towards Drellin’s Ferry.
The adventurers shake out into marching order.
Party order and in-hands:
Seck, Red Whisper and Maelsauga;
Vir, Ulruf and shield
The construction project found at the river
Cat is not in synch with Dis tonight. She has let him know that there is some interference upon the forest. Probably malevolent. But definitely not hags.
Seck returns from inspecting something Phoenix hears, reports a stone bridge, probably hobgoblins guarding, probably a hellhound too. Would he like to send his little friend forward? No he would not. Instead Cat Levitates behind the closest treetop to the river and uses his Fey Sight himself.
He can confirm that on the first bridge pier, two squads of four hobgoblins stand guard. Beyond that only his normal eyes pick up twinkles of light from forest work gangs on the far side. Planks that make up the deck are being reinforced with more heavy planks.
The party agrees that this must be Dwarf work, and in better repair than Drellin’s Ferry, which is only piers. This bridge still has stone balusters and guardrails.
They pull back and think laterally. Laterally upstream they’ll be closer to the main trail. Laterally downstream, Vir speaks to a raccoon who reports that further on down the river broadens into mud, and there are lizardfolk there. But they have been talking to other bigfolk, lately.
Deciding the order of attack takes some minutes longer. Vir will open the attack, casting silence on the further pier. That will delay reinforcement. Meanwhile Cat will use one of his top tier spells on the first pier. Phoenix and Seck are to work together. Vir to support with bow, Cat with spells. Ulric will work at his own pace.
Round 0: A perfect start! Vir creeps forward to the nearest baluster and casts. The silence prevents pier two from erupting into panic as Synaptic Static takes out all eight on pier one!
Round 1: Slight realization that they could have coordinated better. Ulric is still well back in the forest. However! A Dire Wolf from pier two bounds forward toward Vir, he puts two shafts deep into it. Reluctantly Cat moves up and uses a second Synaptic Static. Four hobgoblins fall!
Round 2: With another shaft from Vir and a good hit from Maelsauga the Dire Wolf is down before it can leap on the ranger. It forms a good barrier on the deck. Phoenix advances to it. The hobgoblin survivors have formed up and moved forward, and the far bank guard is alert and rallying forest work gangs.
Round 3: Cat’s Repelling Blasts begin to stagger the hobgoblins, and Maelsauga manages to zip past a shield. One down. But there’s a shape in the water…
Round 4: Ulric arrives just in time to battle a six-headed hydra! Vir’s attention is also demanded by the thing. Phoenix and Seck pick apart the hobgoblin formation. Two more down, the last grins fiercely as he realizes he is Horatio.
Round 5: As more hydra heads swell up, Cat creates a Bonfire. Meanwhile the far guard come in sight and forest work gangs form up. Phoenix finishes Horatio and rushes back to help.
Round 6: Hydra heads! Phoenix leaps off the nearside rail onto the creature. The Bonfire begins the vital job of preventing more heads growing. The far hobgoblins reach the second pier.
Round 7: Finally with one head remaining the Hydra tries to flee. Phoenix plunges Mocair deep: water explodes out as Mocair delivers a weird energy burst into it. The hobgoblins reach the first pier.
Round 8: The hydra plunges deep, Phoenix makes a fine CON SV as he is dragged down with it, and the session ends.
In order to accommodate Elsir Vale, there are a couple of changes to geography. The Witchwood doesn’t have quite the same relation to Drellin’s Ferry as the original. On the opposite compass-point, Ironwood Gorge, Murder Cliffs and the Thorn Wastes mingle.