The level one heroes for this session
Brog Firebeard, cleric of Chauntea. Brog is a folk hero, raised in Triel learning from his adoptive parents there is “no such thing as a dwarf” and assumes his broad chest, short stature and heavy beard are just outliers on the human spectrum. Brog stands 4’7 and is aged around 50. His byname comes from his fiery red beard.
Kalinar, fighter. Kalinar is a folk hero, raised in a small out of the way village. When still a lad, his father was slain, by what is thought to be a drake (judging by its prints). Kalinar trained hard and when danger once more threatened, he leapt in and saved the village. Kalinar, a variant human, is a mere 19 but stands 6’2.
Lapis, rogue and Greenest Watch member. Greenest took Lapis in when his family was slaughtered by orcs. He repaid this debt by becoming an investigator with the watch. What few in Greenest know is that he also went outside the law to take vengeance on any that threatened his beloved village. Lapis is a typically slim wood elf, 5’2, and is aged around 80.
Worm, monk and ex-urchin. A monk of the Harpers organization named Leosin Erlanthar rescued the urchin scruff and gave him over to a monastery outside Berdusk for training. Worm owes Leosin a great deal. Worm is a variant human aged 20ish, standing at a wiry 5’10.
Zebedee Mousebender, wizard of blades. Though a gnome, Zebedee’s upbringing near a mixed wood elf and high elf community allowed him to learn the secrets of Blade-Singing and earn the disdain of the high elves. He has decided to follow in the footsteps of his childhood friend the half-elf Talis. Zebedee towers at 4′ and is aged around 40.
By Durlag’s Tower: an urgent message arrives
During the season, veteran adventurers travel south of the Wood of Sharp Teeth to dare the heights or depths of Durlag’s Tower. Naturally, a decent size seasonal camp is built hard by the tower. This is where traders, grifters, pleasure-sellers and junior adventurers can be found, all hoping to make a living on whatever the higher-tier adventurers gain.
On an overcast day where High Sun gives way to The Fading, a messenger riding a lathered horse rides up from the south. Raiders have been seen along the Uldoon Way! The most likely suspects are members of the Cult of the Dragon! He bears a number of particular messages for some living here.
The mere mention of “Cult of the Dragon” has some adventurers looking about them to pack up and secure some safe means of travel. Kalinar for example has made a study of what forces may employ drakes… and in any case it’s what his mentor Ontharr Frume would want.
Brog, meanwhile, has had a number of visions sent him, each one more clear than the last. He is certain that Chauntea wants him east, in Greenest.
Zebedee has investigated this area as much as he can, and is only wanting a group to head east: his last word of Talis is that she was headed to Greenest.
Worm receives a private letter from the messenger. By it, Leosin bids him to Greenest, to help investigate cult activity.
Lapis may have hesitated but as speculation and gossip place Greenest as one of the spots in danger from the cult, he delays no further, but joins the growing group.
In Tower Market, bargaining and buffets
In all, about a dozen adventurers decide to head south, then take the Uldoon Trail east. That will tip the odds in favor of safe travel. Now is there any other way to make things easier? Transport for example?
As the five we have just met begin buying fresh food (much more appetizing than horrid trail rations) or ale, or just looking about for any bargain spell-scroll, they enter a corner of the market where another of their number, a pretty woman named Ella, seems to be having an altercation of some kind, with a merchant.
Lapis and Worm take this challenge. Ella (who seems not to speak Common fluently) has been asked to carry some vine grafts to Qheldin’s Mask, on the Chionthar. The merchant has no wish to travel along a road rife with bandits, and apparently she is going that far. The man is so keen to get his task fulfilled that he is willing to throw a donkey and cart into the bargain.
Ella (once they explain a little) is happy to agree, except she wants guards. Will they sign on with her? Yes they are, at least to Greenest.
Both Lapis and Worm make good or great Persuasion checks to help Ella.
The merchant hands over money, and earthenware growing-boxes with a half-dozen sprouts poking up. Worm buys a tarp to cover them in the cart should it rain.
Loot: On safe arrival at Greenest, 1 gold each per day of travel elapsed.
Meanwhile Kal has gotten himself into trouble. Maybe walking about with that halberd makes him look like a bad-ass? Whatever the case, a graybeard wearing a swordsman’s rig mocks him and challenges him to a bout outside the camp.
Though Zeb and Brog follow along to see there is no underhand ploy, Kal wrests the initiative by grabbing a couple of quarterstaffs and tossing one to the challenger, Lirias the Unlucky.
As Lirias gets the feel of the stick, Kal delivers a hefty blow below the man’s guard, causing him to leap back, coughing and nursing a rib! But with a laugh he delivers a blistering series of moves that opens Kal’s guard right up and lays him out silly.
Laughing, Lirias declares Kal the sort of reckless youngster he’s been looking for, and gives him his wagon and ox. It seems Lirias has the Gauntlet order looking for him: Kal will be drawing them away off Lirias’ trail!
Zeb inspects the wagon and sure enough, it has a special mark, a stylized candle-flame motif. By this time the other two have caught up with events and Ella holds out what appears to be a druid’s staff and concentrates, but nothing visible happens.
“What’s that about” – Kal
“Magic” – Ella
“How do you know? What kind?” – Kal, curiously
“I sense it” – Ella, uninformatively
All PCs have picked up Inspiration with these gains to travel
Mob characters make up the shifts
Before the day is over the whole party has finished buying last-minute extras and has hit the trail south. There are 11: The five heroes, plus Ella, then five other mob characters besides Ella: womenfolk Bella and Della, and menfolk Feller, Geller and Heller.
Comparing notes they decide on these duties and shifts:
Worm takes the job of guarding the cart’s front, and first night watch with one mob character;
Two mob characters take the second night watch, and swap this duty for stock-care duty with two other mob characters;
Zeb rides in the wagon, and with Lapis takes graveyard shift (or third watch);
Lapis takes the job of guarding the cart’s rear armed with his shortswords, and after a trance during the front half of the night, takes third or graveyard shift with the final mob character;
Kalanar drives the wagon while Brog is riding shotgun with crossbow; and they take the breakfast shift.
In case you are wondering, the mob character are there to take the place of dead PCs!
These shifts work well, at least for the fairly easy travel between hamlets or villages along the Uldoon Trail. The only real night alarm is a small pack of jackals looking to stampede the livestock.
And the horse he rode in on
On reaching the Uldoon trail, and marching two days’ east, the farthest-west, garrisoned fort of Elturgard’s realm looms. Nearby, just a short run away, is a hamlet. Two large buildings are visible, but all are decently constructed.
Inhabitants are in hiding: three brigands are hoorawing the place! One is galloping up and down, two are loosing missiles at anyone that tries to intervene. Leaving the wagon and cart where they can’t easily be seen, the heroes move into the hamlet.
Kal and Brog (team clank) march left to cover, and to ask what the strength of the bandits is. Zeb follows them, assuming they will get into trouble and need his covering fire.
Worm and Lapis (team sneak) sidle left to circle round and peer into the street. The galloping man reins in about 40′ from them: he looks like he can handle the big warhorse, but it definitely isn’t his.
Worm demonstrates his speed and athleticism by rushing the man, dive-tackling him out of the saddle, and finishing him off with a deep knee to belly!
Though startled the other two loose then flee, and one scores a crit on Worm, who is very nearly one-shotted! The other hurls a less-deadly dart, wounding Lapis.
Zeb steps round the corner of a building and (spending Inspiration) sends a Fire Bolt into bandit A, near-killing him. The other two adventurers now advance and in an exchange of missiles bandit B is also wounded, the two fleeing east.
With the warhorse in hand, they are free to rest up amid grateful villagers and find out what happened up at the fort.
Young and bed-ridden paladin Orace is the last armed man there. His fellows have all ridden far to the east where bandits are said to be raiding around the great city Berdusk. Orace is grateful for the return of Dwayne, his warhorse.
Greenest in flames, a dragon over the keep
The weather stays as pleasant as the season offers and travel continues at the same pace. Sundown is approaching when they top a rise and see the town of Greenest just a few short miles away. But instead of the pleasant, welcoming town expected, columns of black smoke rise from burning buildings, running figures – little more than dots at this distance – are visible. And more ominous still, a dark, winged shape wheeling low over the keep that rises above the center of the town. Greenest is being attacked by a dragon!
The heroes once again leave the wagon and cart back and spread out. Where the mob characters go is not certain, perhaps around south. The heroes move along the main road. It is now so dark that Kal and Worm can only see outlines, though range can still be estimated.
Suddenly five human-shape folk dash out from between two buildings ahead and left of the road. Lapis can see that one is limping: a man, trying to herd three young children across the street. The fifth is a woman carrying a round shield and a broken spear: she turns and faces back in the direction from which they came. Eight small, snouted, bipedal, tailed creatures stream out on the family’s heels and fan out around the woman, who looks determined to delay the creatures!
Zeb casts Grease: their tails give them some advantage, but one falls. Worm immediately races forward and with two brutal kicks, snaps the little creature’s neck! With a yipe and yip the other creatures react: but then Lapis also runs around the Grease and cuts a second down! As Worm falls back, he takes a painful slice across his thigh. Kal rushes forward and chops the offending creature in half with one sweep of his halberd! That is enough for the other five, and as Brog walks forward and Heals Worm, they flee, leaving the woman, Linan, to recognize Lapis and explain what is going on.
The five heroes help Linan and her injured husband get their kids to the keep. Linan says many townsfolk are making their way there as best they can, and that Governor Tarbaw Nighthill will be able to explain – as long as the dragon has not killed him!
By good fortune the deepening night seems to be the signal for the dragon to leave. And as the session ends, the journey up to the keep is completed amongst a rushing stream of refuges, all seeking the safety (?) of its walls!