The Grey Borderlands

Session Sixteen - Payoffs and Paybacks

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As daylight begins to fill the eastern sky the party discusses what they should do. Zatha and initially Rhinan seemed to be of an opinion to just “reset” the ambush and keep taking of Ravens but Larzan said he didn’t think that they would send more Ravens down this same trail again for days.

So the decision is made to move off that farming plateau (“The Shelf” as it is known locally) back down onto the Borderlands Road, being the main shipping route into the Young Kingdoms. Larzan takes his leave of the party and says he’ll be in Quarrytown keeping an eye on Rikar.

En route, after heading down the serpentine trail and reaching the road bordering the southern Tanara River Rihnan is surprised by and bitten by a venomous snake! The snake slithers off and Valencio takes a look at the wound but is not skilled enough in first aid to really tell how bad the poison is. Rihnan starts to feel faint and babbles.

:* Well, there were these two friends, tending to the cattle.
One of them goes out into the wilderness to take a leak.
Valencio looks at the snake bite and rubs his chin
Rihnan: He drops his pants, starts doing his business, and a snake bites him right on his pecker.
Big rattler it was.
Valencio: “You know. I have no idea what I’m doing!”
Rihnan: So, his friend runs to the local healer and asks him how to help his friend.
Valencio: Valencio makes a First Aid (Wis) skill check
Roll :98 Skill: 24
Rihnan: The healer tells him that he’ll have to suck the poison out to save his friend.
So the guy rides back out to his friend.
The poisoned man is desperate and asks how it went.
And the other man says “The doctor said you’re going to die.”
Rihnan cackles with glee.
Valencio: LoL, dick snake
Rihnan: Motherfucking yeah!
Rihnan high fives Valencio.
Valencio: “But yeah, you’re probably going to die.”
Rihnan: Oh, well, it was at least a good joke.[/quote]

This is an example of what happens when someone with the Inappropriate Sense of Humour quirk in real life gets on their HM character. :p In the end though the poison is not, in fact, fatal. It does however give Rihnan a -2 penalty to all attack, defence and damage rolls for the next 18 hours.

They continue on further east on the Borderlands Road towards Kar Vesbul and set up another ambush camp just off the road and wait for more Ravens. The fact that they looks suspiciously like a bunch of bandits themselves now not registering to any of them…

Either way, the day is mostly uneventful. Due to the Ravens traffic along the road is light, caravans are travelling in large well armed groups now instead of lone merchants and tinkers as would have been the norm. As they sit in their camp they can hear a noise distant in the woods. It sounds like crashing trees and also sounds like it’s getting closer.

Zatha sneaks into the woods a little bit to get some advance warning and doesn’t get very far before he seeing a huge 9’ tall humanoid smashing its way through the woods heading in a straight line towards their camp! He rushes back and tells them that an ogre is coming!

The party hastily sets up a quick ambush and when the ogre breaks through the tree-line Eddock charges at it with his great sword hitting it for 21 damage while the ogre is startled and fumbles his defence giving the Fhokki warrior another free shot with which he hits again for another 18 damage! 39 Damage in the first 2 seconds but the ogre just looks angry.

Valencio totally whiffs an attack with his mace and then the ogre nails Eddock with a hefty blow for 19 damage, knocking him back! Rihnan manages to dodge aside as Eddock gets blown past him and attacks getting a graze for 7 damage with his polearm.

Zatha comes out of the bush with a surprise dagger backstab but only manages to scratch the creature for 4 damage. Rhinan jabs at it with his spetum but the poison still in his system makes things blurry and he just misses.

Bellowing in rage the ogre swings his club around at Valencio but the cleric of the Eternal Lantern is able to block the blow with his shield which absorbs the damage. Zatha hits a rearward strike for 7 damage which the ogre fumbles giving Zatha a free attack next second. But first! Eddock swings and [i]he[/i] fumbles his attack giving [i]the ogre[/i] a free attack against [i]him[/i] the next second!

The ogre nails the parties fighter for 18 damage while Zatha simultaneously jumps up and stabs it in the back for the final 8 points of damage to kill it. Both the creature and Eddock fall to the ground as the warrior was taken to -1 hp from that blow.

Valencio runs over to look and it is at this point that we discover that he has a First Aid of 24% which is 1% short of actually being able to stabilize an unconscious character. So for the second time this campaign it comes down to making recovery rolls and hoping. Though Eddock has a better Constitution than Massar did. He fails the first but aces the second stabilization roll, succeeding by enough to stop losing hit points. Huzzah!

With Eddock on the brink of death and Rihnan still poisoned the party decides that they will in fact have to head back to the Keep to replenish their resources, spies on the lookout for Zatha be damned. Plus getting bounties. On that note the ogres ears are quickly harvested – but sadly it didn’t appear to have any other treasure.

They make their way back to the Keep and deposit Eddock at the Shrine of the Caregiver. Balan Kasar is quite taken aback by his condition but the rest of the party informs him about the fight with the ogre and Balan declares that he will be treated as a hero. Rihnan donates some funds to the church in the hope of expediting the process.

While Eddock is convalescing the rest head to the Bounty Office to get paid for their service. There is some half-hearted haggling over the ogre ears, but things start to get a bit wild when they dump a backpack full of heads on his desk.

Belan:* One silver for HUMANOID ears. Two for orcs. That’s not an orc, so one you get.

Rihnan: Ogre you sure about that?!!?
Seems a bit light!
<heads>
Kiparus Belan:
“That could be anyone!”
Rihnan: Could be, but isn’t.
We have this holy man here to verify. <pointing>
Listen.
You take these heads and give us our money.
Kiparus Belan: “Okay look, we need to verify this.”
Rihnan: Don’t make a bounty for heads if you’re too squeamish to pay up.
Rihnan butts his spear against the floor of the building in impatience.
Kiparus Belan: “I didn’t make no bounty, it was the Earl what did it”
Rihnan: And you’re the man to collect the heads.
Bam
Six heads.
You’re the head collector.
You want me to mount them on the wall for you?
Kiparus Belan: “Hold on now”
Rihnan: I think this gentleman would look LOVELY over there.
Rihnan chuckles.
Kiparus Belan: “I’m gonna go let them know up in the Upper Bailey that you SAY you got the right heads. They need to look and verify it yah?”
Rihnan: Why don’t you bring me along?
Lock up the shop, leave our good friend the cleric here, and I’ll attend with you.
<they>
Rihnan is frankly a bit relieved to be away from the heads.
Rihnan: Quoth these Ravens, “Nevermore.”
Rihnan chuckles.
Valencio brofists Rihnan
Kiparus Belan: …[/quote]

Meanwhile while Eddock is resting in bed another cleric of the Caregiver enters the shrine and speaks with Balan. Balan hands him the money that Rihnan had given him and sends him off to buy bread for the poor with it.

After the other cleric leaves Eddock wearily asks Balan about him and is told that the other clerics name is Stosh and he often distributes food to the needy in Quarrytown, though he does adventure out in the wilderness on occasion.

Back in the Upper Bailey Zatha, Rihnan, Valencio and Kip meet with Arbitrator Parato Romili who grills them about these heads. He is very serious and seems about to have them detained but he interviews them and examines the heads noting the raven tattoos on the necks so agrees to have Kip pay out the bounty, who seems put out about that fact. They head back to the Middle Bailey and Kip hands them fat stacks of 50sp.

Eddock inquires if he can have a meeting with Stosh, perhaps he would agree to join them in adventures? He also asks if Stosh has trouble with The Ravens. Balan says not really, as the many of the Ravens themselves are also poor downtrodden folk that deserve the Caregivers mercy. But he offers to introduce him to Stosh next time he’s in.

Rihnan and Valencion stop in to visit Eddock and give him his earnings and then head to the Three Leaves to rest and relax. Zatha heads out to the landing to make some more coin with some pickpocketing and then returns to the Keep and gets a private room at the Three Leaves while Valencio and Rihnan opt to just crash in the common room.

Rihnan wakes up in the night. Amidst all the dozing patrons he can hear the distinct sound of someone shuffling towards him. He stands up quickly and loudly addresses the person who stops and looks startled and replies with a “sorry sir, jus’ lookin’ for a spot ta sleep” and turns and heads out of the inn altogether.

The elven mage kicks Valencio sleeping next to him waking him up and drags him up to Zathas room, knocking on the door and waking the halfling up. They tell him about what happened which he replies with “that’s what you get for sleeping in the common room” or something to that effect. They ask if they can sleep in his room but he makes them pay in coin for the privilege.

Valencio decides that he will stand a Nightwatch outside the door and lights and torch and basically remains out in the hall all night (and then passes out in the morning).

The next morning Rihnan is suspicious of what’s going on, thinking maybe the sneaky man in the common room was an assassin sent by the Ravens and perhaps word of them killing their brethren may have gotten out from the bounty master so they plan to surveil the bounty office all day while Eddock is on the mend.

Eddock asks if there are any other clerics aside from Balan and Stosh that can heal but Balan says not really very many in the area to his knowledge aside from the Arbitrator of the True and there was a cleric of Risk in the area but he hasn’t seen him lately.

The stakeout bears some fruit as they watch the daily doing of Kiparus taking a ledger and bag of ears and such to the moneychangers and getting reimbursed and then heading back to the shop. Things are mostly normal but Rhinan does notice a strange visitor at one point – the same man from the common room! He can’t quite make out what they’re saying but the man leaves after a few minutes and doesn’t appear to notice the elf.

Looking for a good reason to be loitering around the Bounty Masters all day Rihnan decides to visit The Magic Box for some spell components and perhaps see if there’s anything else he can get there. Zatha who has been before leads him up the stairs.

gestures him forward.

Zatha: Yoah the one that asked.
Madame Radaama: “Welcome to the Magic Box! Do ye seek to discover your destiny?”
Rihnan: If I had known it included this, perhaps not.
Rihnan smirks to himself.
Rihnan: No, rather, I was led to believe that perhaps here of all places I could find things that may lie slightly more in the realm of the arcane.
Madame Radaama: “The arcane? Of course, the spirits speak to me the secrets of the cosmos. What is that this childe of the fey seeks?”
Madame Radaama cackles to herself
Madame Radaama: “Please, sit down.”
Rihnan: Rihnan makes a Arcane Lore (Int) skill check
Roll :4 Skill: 51
<rhinan><points>
Rihnan: Hmmm. Interesting and rare.
Ah, nevermind that then.
<rihnan>
Madame Radaama: “I’m sure I can teach you a great many things young elf”
<they>
Rihnan: Hah! Keep in mind, it would be I who am robbing the cradle so to speak.
Madame Radaama blushes furiously[/quote]

And with that wonderful mental image is where we left off. :)

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Session Fifteen - The Plan

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Another week, another delayed recap. So much so that I barely remember what happened. :p

The majority of this session was spent in planning, or “plotting” depending on how you look at these things. Much time was spent in Karinar Manor, and the deal between Zatha and Rihnan regarding magical supplies Zatha “may” have had was resolved.

There was much dickering back and forth about what to do (and some stalling – Aceris was going to be late and Bilge was a no show so we didn’t really do too much) but eventually the group decided to just remain in the manor and then head out back to Kar Vesbul to meet with Larzon and find out what he’d learned of the Ravens in the past week.

On their way back to the Waystation they notice a bear in the distance off the road. One that is much larger than the one they were avoiding around the berry bushes back at the manor in fact. Taking a closer look everyone but Eddock is able to see that there is also the mauled carcass of an orc beside the bear, which appears to be sleeping. Curious and lusty for loot Zatha sneaks up beside the ursine and checks the orc corpse, pocketing a few silver from its pouch before returning to the party and sharing the coins.

Arriving at Kar Vesbul the party is served some stew by Old Jaes Mondaly who bemoans the recent upswing in bandit attacks and sadly informs the party that the price for goods has gone up due to scarcity, especially alcohol. Being shy of coin (as the new characters haven’t actually succeeded in a quest yet heh) Eddock offers to chop firewood for his supper which the old man agrees to.

Eventually Larzon arrives and loudly greets the PCs and Jaes and asks for drinks “to go” as he wishes to go and eat and drink out in the midst of nature as the gods intended. He leads the party outside and takes a walk a bit away from the waystation before starting into his stew and quaffing his ale.

Once done eating he tells the group he wanted to make sure that they were away from any extra ears, as their “little stunt” in Quarrytown has made it obvious just how many eyes and ears Rikar has in the area. In fact he mentions that Nepra, the moneychanger stationed in the Keep came into Quarrytown to tell the Ravens about Zathas little trip in to see Dasas. There are bounties out on both Zatha and Massar. At which point he asks where Massar is and is told of the elves fate, but he simply shrugs his shoulders at that, and accepts that a cleric of good would want to see the Ravens removed approves Valencio joining the venture.

Some more discussion is had about what their next move should be happens. Larzon informs them that Rikar has gone on both a recruiting binge and stepped up his attacks on caravans and remarks that he can’t understand how he’s managing to pay all these gangmembers. He also heard that there was another group that had a bit of a dust up with the Ravens recently (though not as extreme as Zathas) and fled northwest into the hills and maybe they could be approached as allies.

Weighing the options the party decides that since the Ravens are sending out more small groups to ambush caravans then perhaps it was time to turn the tables and ambush the Ravens instead. Larzon mentions that there are a few routes that he has seen Ravens take out of Quarrytown, but he hasn’t dared follow them out into the wilderness for fear of being caught. The PlanTM then is that the party is going to hide near one of the back trails that the Ravens use to exit Quarrytown out on the Shelf and Larzon will wait with a campfire looking like a tired traveller, hoping acting as bait.

The long and short of it is that the party enacts this plan to grand success. I mean damn, it’s like the opposite of the orc encounter. Their dice sing and mine did nothing heh. In the initial ambush Eddock charges out and does 27 damage in a single blow and Valencia nails another for 18 damage. Killing one and ToPing another in the first 3 seconds. Rihnan attacks the Raven Lieutenant with his spetum and does 13 damage, making his opponent fail his ToP too!

Rihnan: REMEMBER THE SLICKET!

Rihnan drops his polearms and casts [i]Scorch[/i] doing 10 damage. The first spell damage of the party! Huzzah. Zatha then gets in a most righteous backstab with his dagger doing 24 damage! The Raven Fighter he hit however does not succumb to trauma and spins around with his sword and hits Zatha! But Aceris decides to spend some luck and avoids getting hit afterall.

Zatha, without actually moving at all, just ends up not being hit. For some reason, the Raven, in mid swing, just flinches in pain. Probably from his missing kidney.

Between Eddock getting in another 13 damage from a great sword swing and Rihnan hitting again for 10 with his polearm the Ravens are quite thoroughly trounced and burning.

Rihnan: Anyone else getting hungry?!
Rihnan: I love the smell of nap… I mean cooking flesh in the middle of the night!
Wow, is it hot out here or is it just him? He absolutely looks like he’s burning up!
Eddock: what wrong with you Rihn
Valencio: lol rekt
Rihnan: Me? Nothing, but he looks like he could use some aloe vera!
Zatha: Y’all are fucked up. Let tha poah guy bahn in piece.
Valencio: “We should burn their bodies. So they don’t raise as undead.”

One Raven survived this however and he is tied up and interrogated.

Rihnan whispers to Zatha, “Cause we’re totally not gonna kill you either way for your head.”
Rihnan chuckles.
Zatha grins at Rihnan. “Pooah bastahd.”

Sadly he doesn’t really know too much and is executed and his head removed as proof of bounty. There is some discussion on how they would actually prove these are Ravens and not just poor farmers that they murdered in their sleep… perhaps the cleric of The True must ask them? Who knows. They aren’t actually quite sure how to get back in the Keep to get their bounty yet…

Valencio: We should just pile them all up in the middle of the road
Rihnan: Man, their leader really lost his head. HAH!
We really made out like BANDITS!
Eddock: SHUT-UP
Zatha: Puns? Really?
Rihnan chuckles to himself.
Valencio: What a hot head
Eddock: you too preachy boy, SHUT IT!!

And flush with their success ‘twas where we left off. :)

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Negotiations

This happened on the guild forums over the two weeks between sessions. Essentially the haggling between Zatha and Rihnan over the magical items found here previously:

Rihnan
After an hour or two of reading, I’ll get up and re-approach the halfling. I’ll take some care to make sure that the others aren’t around when I meet up with him.

“I’ve been doing some thinking while I read, and I’m afraid I must rescind my prior offer of even one favor. I do have arcane ambitions, but would be a fool to owe even one honor oath so general to someone I just met.”

Zatha
Zatha stretches before looking at Rihnan. “Suit yahself. Ah’d think ya’d want anythin’ that could help ya. Especially for such a small price as a couple favahs. I mean, how bad could they actually end up bein?”

Zatha narrows his eyes a bit, “Did ya think a’ somethin else ya wanted ta trade with?”

Rihnan
I smirk a bit and try to hide my anticipation of a response of this sort. “Ah, see, that’s my problem here. If I agree to trade anything, it sets a bad precedent. If we continue to work together in the future, you could just pocket things during our travels and attempt to charge or extort me for things that I’m just as entitled to as you.”

I’ll tip my head conciliatorily as a I continue, “Granted, these items were obtained before we met, but at least Massar would likely be alive had you been more forthcoming and willing to come to an arrangement before now. In spite of all this and the attendant negative implications, I am willing to come to an agreement, though nothing so broad that gives you such power over me.”

At this point, I’ll pause for a pointed look and wait for a response.

Zatha
Zatha gapes at Rihnan, “You think…why would I…I gave so much to that elf! Without me, he wouldn’t’ave been able tah get into tha city. I even bought him more presentable clothes! To think, you would try and blame his elfish stupidity on me, who got him outta trouble so many times.” Zatha pauses for a moment and sighs.

“Did you know that I had to save him, along with two othahs from goblins in this vehy house? The idiot decided to pull thah damn dooahbell in the middle ah tha night! He just thought it would be fun tah do. I was the one that got us in tha back. And I was the one that told them all tah rahtreat! And what did the blasted elf do when we had finished all the gobbos? Falls down a damn laddah and almost kill hisself!” Zatha shakes his head side to side while relating this last point, clearly not understanding the stupidity of elves and the actions that they take.

“Now I know yah new in this group, and still a bit wet behind those pointy eahs ah yoahs, so I won’t hold this against ya. I also won’t hold the insult of me pilfahing things against ya, since you’ah a elf, and do not undahstand polite compahny.” Zatha rolls his eyes at this point, clearly frustrated by the elf’s lack of understanding.

“Look. I don’t have the things on me that ya want. Ah’m sayin that I can get’m for ya. But why go out of my way to help a cleahly insulting pointy eah like yahself? Theah has ta be somethin in it fah me! I’m not like that bright eyed priest ovah there that just wants the woald to be bettah.”

Rihnan
I stand there listening to the description of events paying half-hearted attention while really thinking about something else entirely. Eventually the halfling finishes.

“Mmm, yes. Very selfless and noble, as has been demonstrated in our previous two encounters and all conversations. I am not looking for charity, but am proposing more of a partnership. If you were to give me this wand, I would be willing to agree to return it to you should we part ways amicably. Any kind of scrolls or spellbook would also be returned if unused. However, I’m also willing to lend a hand should you want to move beyond petty thievery and go for larger game. My current selection of spells is limited, but soon we could attempt some more profitable ventures. I don’t think our other two companions would approve, but this could prove lucrative for us both. And, of course, my confidentiality is assured.”

Zatha
Zatha narrows his eyes at the elf sensing the change in the game. “With a 75/25 split, I could see such an agreement working.”

Rihnan
“75/25 seems excessive, but I’d be willing to agree to those terms for the first job or two to satisfy your initial investment if desired.”

Zatha
“Aftah which it becomes sixty fahty. Sounds like a faiah deal tah me.”

Rihnan
“After which, we negotiate depending on the job. If you need a minor cantrip or enchantment, my split will be small. But if you need heavy and active spellcasting/planning, it will be more. It will all depend on how much is needed for the job.”

Zatha
“Well, Ah’m not entiahly happy with it, but I guess that means it’s a good deal.” Zatha then spits on his hand and holds it out to the elf.

Rihnan
I’ll eye the halfling’s hand, sigh, and eventually shake it with an odd look of determination. “All great mages start somewhere,” I’ll say under my breath.

I’ll continue aloud, “Good, that is settled. While we’re in town, I’d like to keep a relatively low profile. The fewer people know or suspect my skill set, the more effective I think we’ll be in our endeavors. I’ve only a few things that would be of assistance currently, but I will actively seek out those spells that I think would aid us.”

Zatha

“No wahries theah. I am just the quahtahmastah of this lil group,” Zatha says while winking slyly at the elf.

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Session Fourteen - Hard Lessons

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I’m not sure why I keep waiting until the last minute to write these recaps. I was literally just sitting around doing nothing all week… So again, probably forgetting a lot…

As it gets darker and the sound of thunder grows the party decides to move further into the thicket, perhaps find some shelter from the wind. Massar Silverleaf starts to work on a shelter when the rest of the group wait around and Zatha complains about there being a nice (allegedly) dry guard tower nearby they could have stayed in.

Eventually Massar finishes building an impromptu lean-to and windbreak and they all settle down to have a wet, cold nasty sleep out in the wilderness.

Massar Silverleaf: Welcome to chateau massar
here are the lovely slicket-made walls
Zatha: I’d say his nahmal place is nicah, but that’s a big fuckin lie.

There are a few shift changes through the night, but many hours later after the thunderstorm has moved mostly though and dawn is only a few hours distant Massar is on guard and hears a commotion coming from further in the thicket (which they have turned to referring to as “the slicket” now for whatever reason)

He wakes all of the rest of the party up and they head towards the sound. Sadly, it’s still dark and hard going through the thicket to eventually Eddock lights a torch. They continue moving towards where Massar heard the sound, and then there it is again, an almost guttural chanting noise that only Zatha and Massar hear.

Rihnan superstitiously gives Eddock a look that points out that we’re both the new people and the only ones that can’t hear it.
Massar Silverleaf: We should call ourselves Sons of the Slicket

Moving closer to through the wet and miserable brush suddenly Eddock rounds a corner and sees a horrible scene. A group of four man-sized humanoids are chanting before a hideous totem covered in bones and evil glyphs. As the warriors torch illuminates the area the porcine snouted creatures turn to see the party, and the shaman that was leading the ceremony squeals at them to attack!

Now it’s been two weeks and things are a bit hazy but I’ll see what specifics I can recall. Eddock tosses his torch behind him and charges right in, targeting the orish shaman. Rhinan moves up to support him with his polearm, blocking Massars shot with his bow.

Massar Silverleaf: Do you not see me aiming here?

The elf mage moves aside and Massar gets a good shot in and Eddock crashes into the an orc cultist that moved to intercept him before he could get to the cleric. The Fhokki warrior hits the orc for 18 damage but the orc doesn’t go down, but that was enough damage to trigger Eddocks Hacklust quirk and he just starts a-choppin’ at that orc.

Rhinon gets a few superficial pokes at some orcs with his polearm and meanwhile Zatha has been ever… so… slowly… sneaking… into position. Then something bad happens.

Whilst Eddock had been fighting with the orc the shaman had maneuvered to the side and begun to speak a prayer in its debased tongue which it finished, shoving it unholy symbol towards Eddock upon the completion of the spell. Visions of unnatural, impossible things filled the fighters mind, and even in his Hacklusted state a supernatural fear of a god of chaos and evil is a lot to take in. So even though I gave him a bonus for being frenzied, he failed the check against the Moderate Emotion: Cause Fear spell and felt the need to flee from the cleric for FOUR MINUTES of duration! Damn!

With a single spell the orcs had removed their toughest obstacle. Eddock ran from the battle to hide behind the shrine while the rest of the slow initiative rolling orcs started to move towards the rest of the party. Soon Rhinan and Massar were being double teamed by two orcs each. Zatha gets in and misses.

There’s a bit of give and take but Rhinan is a mage not a warrior, and then Massar gets critted by an orc in the shoulder and taken out! Eddock climbs down the slick and muddy side of the plateau away from the combat and falls the last ten feet or so taking some moderate damage. The elf and halfing know that the jig is up and book it into the thicket. Their ability to easily traverse such woodland environments lets them easily outpace the orcs but they are soon lost in the darkness.

The orcs only follow them for a while, but turn back. The rest of the night is spent along, in the cold wet dark, unsure where the humanoid cultists had gone.

Eventually the sun rises and a new day dawns, with it the rains are over and birds are chirping again. Rhinan and Zatha meet up in the “slicket” and they head down the trail some to find Eddock. They begin to discuss what they should do when the morning patrol heading back up to the tower encounters them. Sergeant Tesipo asked what happened as they all look quite haggard. After informing him that it was orcs the patrol from the Keep declares they’re going to go check it out – and the PCs follow.

The totem is still there in the daylight. Only now they see the ritually sacrificed corpse of Massar Silverleaf sprawled out in front of it as well. Of the orcs there are no sign, and their ranger is dead so following tracks looks to be out of the cards.

Now you see, quite conveniently (ahem) the patrol that headed up this morning was bolstered by a cleric of the Eternal Lantern named Valencio who had recently arrived in Frandor’s Keep and had also heard tales of this evil totem and wanted to investigate. He had asked around and found Sergeant Tesipo at the Broken Hilt and offered his services. Never one to refuse the free services of a cleric the Sergeant invited him along.

Now the cleric looked over the shrine & the script (nobody could read orcish) and wasn’t able to determine was deity it was dedicated to. Either way, there was both a burial for Massar and then the guards (and Zatha) knocked the evil shrine over down the Cliffside where Eddock climbed/fell down and spread the bones and symbols all over – disrupting it yet again.

Dejected the party headed back to the Keep for a quick stay at the Shrine of the Caregiver and then headed to Karinor Manor to plan their next moves. The guards from Falcon Eye Tower were insistent that the party shouldn’t say anything about the orcs – that it might cause a panic, but the party has been discussing taking it to the Keep Prefect. Either way it should be interesting.

Eventually though after Eddock described the things he saw when he was under the effects of the fear spell Valencio (who accompanied the party in their quest to do good ahem) was able to identify the holy symbol of the Riftlord, and thus know that stormy days are their holy days, making a possible ambush a plan for later on.

Rhinan studied the tapestries and books in the manor and theorized the existence of magical tomes or a wand which Zatha may or may not have verified. There is an ongoing dance of IC-OOC bartering to get the wand and spellbook found here in the mages hand where they can be most useful. But a halfing thief with a Greedy quirk can be quite the opponent…

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Session Thirteen - The New Blood
Frandor's Keep

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Okay so it’s been two weeks since the last game session and I haven’t updated the recap at all. I was gone up north to a cottage for 10 days so didn’t really have a chance to do it and then when I got home – well let’s just say I’m lazy :) Either way, time has passed so I will most likely be forgetting a whole lot of what happened.

We left last session with Massar and Zatha fleeing from Quarrytown after the parties disastrous showdown with Rikar and The Ravens. Massar essentially just booked it off into the darkness of the wilderness but Zatha had a bit more trouble. He couldn’t move as fast, and even as skilled as he was there were now lots of people running around looking for him, and he didn’t have his halfing outdoors bonus to rely on.

While he’s looking for a better hiding spot he is discovered by a large gruff man that says he was watching the whole thing and can help him. Lacking many other options Zatha agrees and sneaks up to his rescuers tent which is filled with all manner of furs.

The man introduces himself as Larzon Bayz and says that he’s a bounty hunter that has come here due to the bounty of the Ravens. He continues that he’s been scouting out the Ravens for some time now, watching them for patterns and weaknesses and waiting for his time to strike – but their tragic attack has disrupted everything.

Larzon tells Zatha that he has a few others waiting for word from him at Kar Vesbul before they set their trap to take out Rikar, and asks if the halfing wants in as he can use more fighters. Zatha agrees and mentions that some of the others may have survived so needs some time to find them before heading out. With that an agreement is made – Larzon will smuggle Zatha out of Quarrytown and they will meet in a few days at Kar Vesbul (the closest waystation along the Borderland Road).

After some last minute shopping Zatha travels to Karinar Manor where apparently the group had a standing agreement to meet up in if they became separated (who knew!?) and finds Massar. They bemoan the fate of their fellows (more Barodin than Kythan…) and Zatha tells the half-elf about their chance for vengeance. He at first seems reluctant and offers that they should just leave the area but eventually agrees.

Meanwhile at Kar Vesbul the new characters have been waiting for some time for word from Larzan, growing bored. Eashla has made a new fighter with ridiculous stats and a 2-handed weapon named Eddock and Selphius has made an elven mage named Phoenix, I mean Xynan, I mean Rhinan. Eddock has been helping out around the place while they wait using his Maintenance and Upkeep proficiency must to the delight of Old Jas Mondaly. It’s noted that he often receives bigger portions at dinner.

Larzon arrives at the waystation and tells his two co-conspirators that he’s added at least one more to their ranks and tells them about the botched attack in Quarrytown. The good news is some of the Ravens numbers have been trimmed – the bad news is they are on much more of an alert now.

The next day Zatha and Massar arrive and meet with the new party members.

Zatha sighs and walks over muttering “Mah elves.”
Zatha points his thumb backwards “This is Massah”
Zatha looks at Massar “They’s anothah elf fah ya now!”
Rihnan peers at the halfling. “What language is that?!”
Zatha: Doncha speak common?*
Rihnan: I think so, but I’m not sure that’s what that is.
Zatha: Yah can say it, but yah don’t heah it well eh?

(*being that there is no Common I imagine they’re actually speaking Baparan atm. -10 Immersion points)

Larzan suggests that he will return to Quarrytown to see how the place reacts to the “event” a few days ago and that the rest of them should get to know each other, find something to do and meet back in a week to formulate their plan after getting more intel. He pays for their drinks and departs leaving them to discuss fashion, how Eddock and Rhinan met and let Selphius flex his Inappropriate Sense of Humour quirk…

Zatha: Is that a euphemism?
Rihnan: I’m a bit of a spear fighter myself, but my talents are mostly arcane.*
Eddock: everything with this guy is a euphemism. har har!!
Zatha: Speah fightah I get it!
Rihnan: Spear fighting.
Zatha: That’s how ya know each othah.
Zatha: That’s how elves ah. Sounds nahmal tah me.
Rihnan whispers to Zatha, “It’s true, Elven cities and prison. Same thing.”
Zatha considers how to get Massar back to the town.
Rihnan: I heard a few rumors while I was here.

(*Rihnan is actually proficient in the Spetum)

During their extended stay Eddock and Rihnan heard some rumours that they decide to check up on. Tales of a gold mine still lying un-mined since abandoned lead them to trek into the hills. After Massar and Zatha heal up a bit first.

With that the party heads out along the road towards Falcon’s Eye Tower on the Borderlands Road. As the get close to Frandor’s Keep however they encounter goblins on the road! They actually hear the goblins talking in their ambush location so end up springing the trap on the humanoids!

Notably Eddock hits goblins for 22 damage twice and 32 damage essentially destroying them.

Massar: I have a good feeling about this party!

Eventually they make their way to the rough area the rumour indicated and realize none of them know much about geology or mining but start looking around for an abandoned mine entrance. After many hours of fruitless searching along the banks of the Tanara River they decide to head further up the shelf towards Falcon’s Eye Tower.

Moving up the switchback they still aren’t seeing anything and encounter a patrol from the tower heading back to the keep. The soldiers ask them their business and if they know anything about the strange evil totem that appeared in the area. Eddock actually introduced himself as a Knight (which he isn’t – yet) and exhibits some command qualities so eventually the soldiers defer and decide not to take the party in for questioning.

The sergeant of the patrol, Relimar Tesipor gives them some more info about the totem that’s been found and relates that the rumour of a mine is a story fabricated by Dasas to sell mining equipment to new arrivals. There is however an abandoned mine north of the keep near Vespin Tower.

Relimar asks that if they party finds out anything about the totem to come to him before anyone else. He and his squad are returning to the Keep for the night (the night watch is in the tower now) and they’ll return in the morning. They just want to get along since it feels like it’s going to rain.

The party continues some more vain searching for a mine but doesn’t find anything so continues up the switchback towards the tower coming to the shelf where the shrine was found. It’s overgrown with hedges and vegetation and hard to move through and now it’s dark they can barely see and thunder sounds and rain just starts to patter down.

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No Crying

I just thought it was appropriate :D

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Session Twelve - The Real Revenge of The Ravens
Frandor's Keep

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This session was delayed multiple times due to real-life situations, and again tonight it may have been wiser to delay again since both Aceris (Zatha) and Bilge (Massar Silverleaf) were MIA. But given the circumstances of where we left of I wanted to get it out of the way and find out if we should be prepping for a new game or if they will have made off with mad EPs. The result was somewhat surprising…

As we left of in the opening few seconds of combat, this session was pretty much purely fighting. Inside Rikars command tent Zatha and Kythan were surrounded by Raven Lieutenants, thieves and the head brigand himself. Rikar swung at Zatha but the nimble thief dodged aside seemingly with ease, and one of the Lieutenants attacked Kythan but the cleric scampered back and luckily fell backwards, avoiding being affected by a critical hit! It still did 12 damage which was nothing to laugh at.

Meanwhile outside Massar strikes a Raven Thief with enough damage to ToP him and another thief attempts to hit Barodin but critically fumbles getting blood in his eyes and dropping his weapon while Barodin gets a Perfect Defence but sadly missed with the counter-attack. Even though he missed it must have given the fighter momentum because his next attack on that same thief was a critical severity level 24 hit to his shin which finished him off!

Back inside the tent the brigand lieutenants had surrounded Zatha but he was able to keep dodging away from all their blows somehow. One of the thieves inside heads out and the other stalks Kythan, hitting him with enough damage to ToP him and then proceeds to take the next three seconds to coup de grace him. The favour of Risk only goes so far it seems…

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The warriors on the ledge above the fighting fired another volley of arrows at Massar (Barodin having taken cover behind the thief he was fighting) and hit him with three arrows. His wrap of protection reduced them to mere scratches and he managed to actually intercept one with his buckler! One of the arrows flew errant and struck the Raven they were fighting, ToPing him!

Seeing the futility of his position Zatha decided to get out of Dodge and used a flee action to make for the edge of the tent (and all three opponents beside him missed him!) he then succeeded at a Feat of Agility to roll out of the tent under the flap.

(Earlier I had decided that Rikar had an “escape flap” behind his seat in case things went ugly during this confrontation so he’d be able to escape like a true recurring villain. As such the tent was pegged down all the way right where he was, so a smaller halfling was able to do the same thing a little further away)

The halfing thief sprinted away from the tent and ducked behind a stone at the edge of the ledge above Galborn’s Hostel. Rikar and one of his men worked their way out a bit slower and managed to not see him (naturally these guys don’t have observation at all). Zatha jumps down onto the roof of the Ravens Roost and runs along it trying to stay out of sight.

Rikar begins yelling for his men to find the halfling and the rest of the Lieutenants from inside the tent come out the back. Barodin and Massar having finished off the thieves move around the tent counter-clockwise to intercept the threat there (and get behind cover from the archers) but there’s a few more than anticipated.

Barodin swings his battle axe at the Raven but the brigand dodges and hits him in return for 18 damage! The fighter fails his ToP check and is incapacitated for 10 seconds! Not long enough for a coup de grace from fighters like the remaining Ravens, but two more Lieutenants and Rikar come up to him and between them they finish the cowardly fighter off taking him first to -1 and then another 18 point hit to finish him off!

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As soon as he saw Barodin fall to four armed brigands Massar knew this was pretty much over so he turned and ran as fast as his elvish legs would take him. He decides to take a safer route by jumping down the ledges to the Pit Fighting arena instead of taking a long 15’ drop. This gives the archers another chance to fire a volley at him but most miss, and the only hit is totally absorbed by his armour and wrap of protection.

Massar continues running and leaves Quarrytown into the darkness of the wilderness while Zatha is hiding out, still in the quarry as he knows the humans can easily outpace him. But for now he has slipped away, even though Rikar is left howling for the rest of his Ravens to search the entire place.

So yeah. It was kind of weird. The characters of the two players that were actually present died while the characters for the players that weren’t here actually lived. Zatha only made it due to some extremely jammy defence rolls (like in the 30s).

Now to find out what the rest of the group wants to do. Use their new characters that the all rolled up (I told them the Hackmaster mantra of rolling “a character, an heir and a spare”). Or if they want to add two new characters to Zatha and Massar in the established party.

Either way there will probably be repercussions for this brazen bloodshed in Quarrytown. Will the guards from the Keep do anything? Can they do anything? What will Rikar do now that his gangs numbers have been reduced somewhat? How do the residents of Quarrytown react to his show of power?

Hopefully we’ll find out soon. From some new vantage points.

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Session Eleven - Revenge on the Revenge of the Ravens
Frandor's Keep

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Being super early in the morning the party elects to camp out in the Ravens camp for the remainder of the night. Massar keeps watch while the others use the tents to stay out of the rain. Just before dawn the half-elf notices movement out at the edge of the clearing and wakes the others. Waiting long enough to get armed and armoured they venture out to the location but find nothing but a depression in the wet grass.

Examining it Massar can tell that someone was lying there watching them and that they must have snuck off while the party prepped. Everyone agrees that it would be a good idea to just take off now that dawn is breaking since there’s no telling where the surviving brigands could be.

As they take down the tents and load the cargo into the wagon they realize that none of them have any idea how to actually drive a wagon like this (or even ride a horse at all!). They fumble their way through hooking up the horses and only manage that because Massar is able to use his Animal Empathy to keep the equines calm, and that the horses themselves are used to this.

Their lack of skill however does make the trip take considerably longer than it normally would. A trip like this should only take a few hours but it ends up taking them pretty much the whole day as they need to keep fixing the tack and harness, pushing the wagon out of holes they could have avoided and all variety of mishaps.

During this extended journey back to Frandor’s Keep they come across a group of fellow travellers; a small party of five dwarven miners on their way to the Keep to buy supplies. Kythan offers to give the dwarves a lift in the wagon, and he and Zatha then offer them drinks from Dasas’ remaining brandy kegs for 4 copper each. The dwarves avail themselves of this offer and there seems to be much merriment with Kythan and the dwarves riding in the wagon, Massar attempting to drive it and Barodin and Zatha walking along beside.

Barodin attempts to find out what the dwarves are doing but totally botches a Glean Information roll and one of the dwarves starts talking smack about him in dwarvish, which causes Barodin to intimidate him “You wanna say that to my face little man?” (getting a 141 to the dwarfs 65 Resist Persuasion). The dwarf apologizes and the tension is cut and the remainder of the trip is uneventful.

As usual it’s evening when the party reaches the Outer Bailey of the keep. The dwarves dismount and thank them for the ride and head in ahead of the party.
They pull up the wagon and inform the guards this is Dasas’ shipment and not theirs (so don’t tax us bro!) and the guards send a runner to fetch the merchant.

They take their own personal loot off the wagon (and Barodin “checks” in one of the shields along with his sword with the guards before going in) and after a few minutes Dasas arrives and takes a look at it. He thanks the party and says he’ll square up with them in the morning and he and a scribe head to the warehouse to catalog what he has.

So by now the group is trying to decide what to do about The Ravens. The guards won’t let Massar into the keep without a bribe and Zatha refuses to spend any more coin on the elf. So they remain at the landing in front of the guards and blatantly start discussing the pros and cons of fighting the Ravens versus joining them.

Catching the guards listening to them doing so they move further away back to the stables where Massar has been staying to formulate their plans. Sadly this was pretty much all said over Mumble so there’s no easy transcript to paste but the gist of this was that they’d have to go to Quarrytown and deal with the Ravens. Maybe join Rikar.

Zatha and Kythan seem keen to join the brigand band but Massar is having none of it, not only is robbing people bad but he’s of the opinion that since they just killed a bunch of his men, he won’t be looking to have a nice diplomatic discussion.

The actual quote was: “Wait, isn’t he gonna run that shit right into our butts if we go in and talk to him?” lol

Anyways, to make a long story short the plan is that they are going to head to Quarrytown and offer to join the Ravens. This is all a ruse you see, because they will in fact be infiltrating the Ravens to gather intel to turn into the Earl at a later date and get rid of them. As an impartial observer I listened to them planning and really have no idea how they could possible think this would work haha. But stranger things have happened.

: we are all going to die

So finally after being told about this place ever since getting the Frandor’s the party heads north to visit Quarrytown. It’s almost nightfall and they’re essentially moving with the “commute” as the throngs that hang out in front of the keep but aren’t allowed in mostly live in Quarrytown.

They finally reach it and it is in fact a quarry; the quarry from which most of the stone to build the keep came from. Makeshift buildings and tents have been erected and it seems that there is an open air market when first arriving but everyone seems to be packing up at the this time of day.

Upon reaching the thieves market they note two individuals perched up a ramp watching them. One of them says something and leaves, heading further into Quarrytown while his fellow continues watching the party menacingly.

As they get closer the man asks what they want and Zatha says that they’re here to see “the big guy” and Kythan tries to make everything nice and civil.

The Raven says he’ll take them to see Rikar, and the boss has in fact been waiting for them. As he leads them further and further into Quarrytown he mentions that the boss will let anyone sleep here for only 2 copper, and you can sell anything you want in the market so long as The Ravens get a cut.

They find themselves outside a large merchants tent, flanked by another smaller fancier looking tent. The large one has the other man they spotted waiting and he tells them that Rikar will speak with whoever is their spokesman inside. So pick.

With some discussion of the possibility of it being a trap and some bamboozling Kythan and Zatha convince him to allow both of them in side halflings only count as a half. Barodin and Massar will remain outside. The guard opens the flap and they enter the darker tent interior.

Inside they can see a man with an immaculate goatee across from them who must be Rikar (constantly referred to as Riker by Zatha, sigh), flanked by six other brigands; all holding open weapons. Rikar is equipped with a shield as well.

Rikar informs them that they have negatively impacted his operation and they have one minute to give him a reason to now just have all four of them killed right now. They first tell him their wish to join up, which he is somewhat not buying.

Zatha: First, we didn’t know about yah “organization” when we wah takin thah jab. Just tryin’a make some coin.
Kythan nods.
Zatha: Second, we ah obviously bettah than ya othah boys.
I think that wahants some considahation.
Kythan: It was a shame we had to murder those pathetic excuses for bandits to learn about this, but that is the way of the world.
Kythan: We’re businessmen in the business of making gold.
Rikar: “Gold you say?”
Kythan: Gold, yes. I like the feel of it against my supple skin.
Zatha: You may have heahd of some of oah othah exploits. The gobbos from the manah outside ah town, and savin Vew.
Rikar: Your minute is up. If you are such great businessmen able to make gold then I’ll let you cover my damages from this operation you disrupted and then we can talk. Pay me 10 gold now or it’s your lives.
Kythan scoffs.
Kythan: Hardly. This is more like an investment. A small bit of pain now for a much greater payoff in the future.
We have access to the keep and have made friends in fairly high places.
We can do things none of your “crew” can.
Rikar: “I have agents in the keep already.”
Zatha: Some information that yah boys don’t know, about the eahl. We helped him out of a tight spot.

Meanwhile Massar and Barodin have been trying to chat up the two guards that were left outside the tent but haven’t had any luck. Sadly they both fail in Observation rolls to notice something going on on one of the higher ledges… Barodin attempts to get a peek in the other tent but is stopped.

Back in the tent Rikar has been talking about how adventurer goodie too shoes don’t fit in with The Ravens because they lack the will to do what’s needed.

Zatha: Ah yah really gonna give up some well trained rahcruits ovah some brandy?
Would ya even talk tah us if’n we didn’t show the skills?
Kythan looks as calm and nonplussed as if they were discussing the weather over tea.
Kythan just smiles slightly the whole time.
Kythan: Besides, do you really think we’d come in here like this without some kind of… insurance policy?
Kythan just continues to smile.
Rikar: "It’s my experience that “adventurers” such as you don’t have the stomach for this kind of work."
“Tell you what.”
Kythan: OH
Kythan: Have you seen my ear sculpture work?
It’s really quite exquisite.
Rikar: “You two serious about joining the Ravens?”
Zatha: Yah got a benefits leaflet?
Rikar: “I’ll need some proof of your mettle.”
Zatha: Yah dead men wasn’t enough?
Kythan: We’re obviously better than they are.
Any chumps can jump merchants and guards that don’t expect it.
Rikar: “I think you may be too squeamish to do the job”
Zatha sighs and gestures to Kythan, knowing what will happen
Kythan: Let me show you squeamish on your friend behind me.
He looks particularly ripe.
Rikar: “No. Prove you’re not squeamish by killing one of your friends outside. Preferably the elf.”
Kythan sighs.
Kythan: But I’ve been putting in so much work on him.
((Barodin Blighthwood: he’s like a pet to us))
Kythan winks at Zatha.
Zatha shrugs
Zatha: What’s the point?
He’s part of our gang. Yoah cuttin off oah hand befoah we even staht wahkin.
Kythan: I don’t understand how removing assets is a sound business plan.*
I’m beginning to think this gent isn’t on top of his game.
Rikar: “Then I suppose you’ve made your choice.”
Zatha: You ahen’t vahy fohwahd thinkin.
Rikar makes a signal and one of the men in the tent pulls a string that rings a bell outside the tent

  • They may have been getting close to figuring something out about The Ravens. But, well, we may never know Wink

Meanwhile outside:

: I’m going to mosey on over to the other fancy tent and take a peek in.
Raven Thief to Barodin “Where do you think you’re going?”
Barodin Blighthwood: No where boss
: walk up nice and close to one of the guards just holding my axe. not threatening but still in my hand.
: so how dose the guard take my getting close?
: not well, he says not to come any closer and brandishes his shortsword roughly in your direction
: Laugh at him…“Like that scares me little man.”
Rikar makes a signal and one of the men in the tent pulls a string that rings a bell outside the tent
: I take that as a sign and but my axe in the guards head

And so it begins.

The first thing that happens is a LOT of people manage to roll 0 and 1 for initiative. Except for Barodin with a 12. But since Massar goes first he can shake the fighter.

[/quote] Massar Silverleaf slaps Barodin upside the head, “Get your finger out of your goddamn nose!” [/quote]

Four archers that had moved into position on a higher ledge all let loose at Massar, three of them hitting him but his Wrap of Protection absorbs a good amount of damage.

The two guards outside stab at Barodin with their shortswords, one hitting doing a fair amount of damage. This snaps him to even quicker than Massar shaking him and he retaliates, getting a critical hit in the thiefs shoulder doing 21 damage and knocking him back right through the flap into the tent!

Inside the tent Zatha and Kythan start moving towards Rikar and then thief from outside comes flying in but the other thieves that were blocking the exit from the inside were able to dodge aside. The thief bleeding from his shoulder is ToP’d and writhing around in pain.
Zatha rushes up to Rikar and stabs him with his dagger, attacking before the fighter is ready and getting around his shield and finding a weak spot in his armour. All told however the attack only does a single hit point of damage after armour damage reduction.

Rikar: “You will die for that.”
Zatha: We wah dyin anyway! Might as well fuck yah up some!

And at that point Bilge had to go for the night so that’s where we left off. The beginning of a combat that I’m not sure they can win. It’s going to be a dramatic event either way. And Aceris (Zatha) and Selphius (Kythan) have already met to roll 2nd and 3rd characters “just in case” Wink

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Session Ten - Revenge on The Ravens
Frandor's Keep

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This session Bilge wasn’t present, so I was running Massar as an NPC. I tried to keep him in-character but obviously you know how NPCs become a bit less… spontaneous than PCs. Wink

We start with some minor book-keeping, trying to figure out how much the characters have spent on food and lodgings during the past 2 weeks and a bit while they were healing and then training. Kythan rents a room at the Three Leaves to Wind Inn while Barodin (after spending time at the Shrine of the Caregiver to heal) and Zatha get rooms at The Prancing Pegasus Inn. Massar decides to stay out at the Palisades sleeping in the stables for free, and hunting and foraging for food himself. Perhaps a bit less glamourous, but he is a Ranger afterall.

The two halflings spend most of their downtime at The Broken Hilt, gambling and drinking. Eventually Barodin joins them as well as an ex-soldier he feels fairly at home with all the rough off duty guards. In the evenings when not training (or hell, probably as part of the training) Zatha spends time picking pockets and Kythan spends his time gambling in bar (especially with the easy mark he spotted earlier). They are also taking pains to buy drinks for and befriend as many guards as possible.

In fact as Kythan is known to be a cleric of Risk, even if he isn’t involved in a game players will often come to him and donate a coin or two as offering to Risk. Lamar has even given Kythan the odd free drink here and there since he’s noticed the upswing in gambling going on in the bar and the increase in customers. At this point Kythan essentially has his own chair in the corner.
Kythan spends this excess income on trying to commission a magnificent bejeweled codpiece (or rather “banana-hammock” cough) but seems to be having trouble finding something like that. He talks to the leatherworker who is pretty much about to dismiss it out of hand until Kythan mentions spending 20 silver on it which suddenly gets the shopkeeper attention.

On the morning of Pelsday, the 23rd of Mustering the group is fretting about having breakfast in the Three Leaves and discussing a possible journey back to Karinar Manor to study the frescoes and perform a more thorough search for a deed when the artist Belipar comes in and announces that he has finally finished their portrait that he promised in reward for reclaiming his lead.

Zatha: oh gahd.
Kythan gets a lustful look in his eyes.
Kythan: I MUST SEE IT.
Zatha is still thankful he wasn’t in it
Belipar: Indeed good sir! I have completed my MASTERPIECE
Kythan: We will show it here in the bar – surely it will bring in customers!
Zatha: or in our new HOUSE [meaning Karinar Manor – ED] (in Kythan’s room. in the fireplace)
Barodin Blighthwood: lead the way Mr Artist

Barodin and Kythan head out and follow Belipar back to the apartments. Zatha wants nothing to do with it. As they reach the apartments Kythan asks about the cost and Belipar assures him that if they plan to stay at the Keep for an extended period these apartments are the best choice.

He opens the door and ushers them in where there is a prominently displayed easel with a white sheet over it. With a grand flourish Belipar removes the sheet revealing an oil painting and proud nude Kythan standing, flanked by Barodin and Massar on either side (clothed). Two cherubs fly in the foreground holding aloft a banner covering any impropriety that reads “Risky Business”.

Kythan: BEAUTIFUL.
Did I not say that the nude halfling form, if captured properly, would be an inspiration for generations to come?
Belipar: “Thank you again good sirs, I hope that this fine work of art can portray my deepest appreciations for your aid.”
Barodin Blighthwood: Thank him for the painting and tell him its magnificent
Kythan: This will rouse men to acts of greatness for centuries!
Belipar beams proudly
Barodin Blighthwood: rouse men…..

The pair thank Belipar and are heading back to the tavern when they pass Dasas coming out of his shop who asks if he can see their “Quartermaster” (meaning Zatha) as he potentially has some work for them. They say they’ll get him and head back to the bar, and Kythan stashes the portrait in his room at the Three Leaves and the trio return to Dasas’ Goods.

Dasas explains that brigands calling themselves The Ravens plague the roads around here and even though he hired guards for his most recent caravan he heard from travellers that they were ambushed and his latest shipment stolen. He wants to hire the party to retrieve his goods and he’ll pay them in gear from his shop. There is some back and forth trying to find out more info and better payment but eventually they agree and head out to find Massar.

Of course Massar has been living out in the bush and stables for two weeks so he’s looking pretty scruffy.

Zatha: Massah, ya smell wahse than usual
Massar Silverleaf: “I’ve like, had a lot of time to think out here bros”
Barodin Blighthwood looks at Massar like the kid brother you dont want to bring along but maw made you

They find him and tell him the plan, that bandits have stolen goods (including a lot of brandy!) and need to be brought to justice. And more importantly Dasas gets his goods back.

Massar Silverleaf: “Helping people is good!”
Zatha: he can track for us
Massar Silverleaf sings the song of his people
Massar Silverleaf: “We are getting paid for this right?”
Kythan: Yup!
Barodin Blighthwood: we are
Zatha: In some nicah clothes fah you.
And some soap.
Kythan: You get to associate with us and get back some reputation, and we get goods.
Massar Silverleaf eyes Kythan suspiciously
Kythan looks innocent, as always.
Barodin Blighthwood: and you get to kill Bandits your dreaded enemy.
Zatha: yup

The party travels down the Borderlands roads, slowed down as usual by the halflings to a crawl. Eventually they find the where the ambush took place by noting the impromptu graves that travellers on the road made for the caravan guards.

Massar studies the ground and finds the tracks (is that even the right word?) of the wagon while Kythan ponders with the idea of some grave-robbing; something which for once the entire rest of the party is against doing. Though all for different reasons.

Massar Silverleaf presses his ear to the mud and concentrates
Massar Silverleaf points to the ground “There are hoof-prints, boot prints and a lot of wagon ruts. Though one set of ruts is much deeper than the others.”
Zatha: Probably the one with all tha goods in it.
Massar Silverleaf: “Ayup”
Zatha: Let’s track it!
Screw the graves, it’s gettin dahk.
Massar Silverleaf: “Why disturb these poor fellows? That’s just nasty.”
Zatha: Yah really think bandits didn’t rob’em?
Massar Silverleaf: “They could be zombies!”

The half-elven ranger follows the ruts for a few miles until the trail mysteriously turns off into the thick woods, which obviously no wagon would fit in. It’s also starting to get dark by this time. Some further (negatively affected by the dark) investigation finds two troughs filled with saplings that form a barrier blocking a path into the woods that the wagon took!

Zatha notes that it looks like whoever used this was very careful to cover their tracks, and not make the trail obvious. And then totally botched it by taking this heavy-ass wagon through which could be easily tracked. The party has a brief pow-wow and decides that the odds are good the bandits will be drunk due to the brandy so they want to go in spec-ops style and neck-snap em all while they sleep.

Zatha: Keep goin! We want to find them and ambush them while they sleep!
Zatha mission impossible theme
Massar Silverleaf: “Sure, maybe you guys can actually do something for a change”
Barodin Blighthwood: hahaha

The halfings sneak ahead of the main group and eventually come across a mostly hidden campsite a few miles down this trail. There are piles of rubble and screens set up to hide their campfire but since the duo is actively looking they spot it a fair distance away. It’s slow going since they have no light of their own and it’s fully dark now, but on the other hand it doesn’t alert the Raven guard that was stationed halfway down the path…

Getting closer they can hear the sound of merry-making as indeed the Ravens seem to have gotten into the brandy. They decide to head back to the others and plan to have a brief nap and snack and wait for the early hours of the morning before making their move.

Now, there was a lot of Sneaking checks made, new rules for coup-de-grace from the GMG consulted and issues with the Hackmaster Initiave API for Roll20 so I’ll just give the broad strokes. There were four tents and one bandit standing on watch. Kythan and Zatha snuck into a tent and started coup-de-gracing the sleeping bandits while Massar waited just outside the camp and Barodin was further back ready to rush in if he heard an alarm.

They dispatch the two in the first tent but get spotted by the guard on their way to the second so the jig is up! The Raven yells for alarm and the sleeping thieves start to wake up (though they have negatives due to being drunk). Zatha knocks down the tent beside him, tangling the two in there, Massar runs in and combat is joined!

The theme for this fight is rolling critical hits against Zatha. Even though he spends Luck to avoid the extra effects he can’t make the nat 20 not hit. So he actually takes a fair amount of damage. Sadly, there is nobody to get Barodin on track so his abysmal initiative means he doesn’t show up till 13 seconds have passed but rolls a ton of damage and starts taking fools down.

In the end two of the Ravens are able to escape into the darkness and flee since nobody can catch up to them (as they have no armour on). But the party manages to take the leader captive, Kythan actually finding a use for Aggravate Injury since it keeps him ToP’d long enough for them to tie him up. How lucky!

Time to question the Lieutenant once he’s awake and Barodin finally gets to stretch that Intimidate skill of 66% that he has. Mind you, he doesn’t have Interrogation so that needs to be RP’d out.

Kythan: Can I sober this guy up so we can stab him?
Zatha: So what do we get if we turn you back to this guy instead of the town guard?
Kythan: But he’s not helping us at all. If he doesn’t help us, I just want to kill him.
Raven Lieutenant thinks and then looks worried
Kythan: I’ve been working on my technique.
I think all the practice cutting off ears has really given me some inspiration.
His head isn’t so different from a goblin or a kobold.
Raven Lieutenant: “Look, let me go and I’ll ya where to find Rikar and the rest. We’re just the ones that were out here this week.”
Kythan: And it’s certainly easier to work with than a leechman.
Oh, see? Now he’s being helpful. Does this mean no stabbing and cutting?
Zatha: Not sure how we can expect him to tell us the truth if we’re just going to let us go. Plus, then he’d just warn Rikar.
Barodin Blighthwood: “How do I know you will tall the truth.”
Kythan: See? All arguments for my way.
Ohhhhhh yes.
Lucky, lucky man. I get to practice on you maybe!
Raven Lieutenant: “Naw look man, I’ll head east to Vew get out of the Borderlands altogether. You can find the Ravens out in Quarrytown.”
Kythan sniffs his forehead.
Kythan: Do we let him live?
We could flip a coin.
Raven Lieutenant: “Rikar runs Quarrytown. Everything there goes through him!”
Zatha: Alright, how do we find him?
Raven Lieutenant: “He’s got a tent there, right up in the middle. We, I mean his men monitor everyone coming in and out. And in and out of the Keep too.”
Zatha: So you know who we are already.
Raven Lieutenant: “I dunno, some adventurers. None o’ my business”
Zatha: Alright, I’m fine.
Kythan: Let’s gamble, good sir. If you’re lucky, you live. If you’re not, you die.
How do you feel about those odds?
: Chop him in the head.
: make an attack roll
Raven Lieutenant: “I…”
Barodin Blighthwood: Barodin Blighthwood attacks with axe! 16
Raven Lieutenant Defends!
Defense 5 Damage Reduction 3
Barodin Blighthwood: Barodin Blighthwood hits for 18 damage!
Kythan looks at the corpse.
Kythan: He should have taken me up on my offer.
Zatha: Stone. Cold.
Kythan laughs and pats Barodin on the back.
Massar Silverleaf: "What happened!?’
Kythan: Good one. I knew there was a reason I liked you so much.
Barodin Blighthwood: “he resisted”
Massar Silverleaf narrows his eyes at Barodin, then looks at Kythan
Kythan nods in agreement.
Zatha shrugs, uncaring.

And with that heroic action we left of.

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Session Nine - The Ransom (Part Five)
Frandor's Keep

frandor.jpg

We go from three games of pretty much straight combat to a session with no combat at all. Smile

Now I introduced two I suppose “house rules” you could say into this session. The first was that going RAW they basically wouldn’t have gotten any experience for actually completing the quest or anything since they all got to 400 EPs last session purely by combat. And it seems a bit punishing to penalize them for successfully managing to complete an adventure meant for 2nd level at 1st level, just at the wrong time. So I let them stock up on EPs even though they still had to train. Special circumstances and all.

The other thing was that since the only enemies left were goblin breeder and giant rats and we’d been doing so much combat I offered the players the chance to just hand-wave it and say that they manage to kill them all without any problems. But if they do that they won’t get any EPs for them. Otherwise we’ll need to fight it out (and they ended the last session just about to initiate combat on the breeders). They agreed to go with the quick resolution and I was relieved because I really didn’t want to spend more time of “weenie” fights. Wink

So the first half of the session is primarily checking out the manor for treasure. Goblins are looted, bookshelves are inspected and strange writing that none of them can read is copied down from under the frescoes of the wizard doing fire-related things in the main hall. They try to decipher it as Massar claims the long black scarf the goblin witchdoctor was wearing, and Zatha takes the “stick”.

Zatha: Hey! Cleahic! What’s dis say?
Massar Silverleaf: It probably says “would look better on a half-elf”.
Massar Silverleaf does a flourish with the scarf.
Kythan scratches his head and squints at the writing

Barodin takes Alimira outside while the looting heads to the basement. They scatter the rats and Kythan and Zatha go down, the wooden ladder creaking and groaning. There is a lot of foodstuff but some of it is obviously spoiled or tainted by rat-droppings. None of them have the Cooking chops to tell what’s good (recall Kythan had to go get the Widow to cook him porridge!) so they decide to pretty much leave it. They do find a chest with 10 wool blankets and inside a roll of moist linen bandages. Kythan proclaims this to be decent swag (he has Appraisal: Textiles) and they start to think of how to get it all out of here.

They decide to tie a rope to the chest and drag it up the ladder, since none of the halflings would be able to carry it themselves. Of course none of them can tie rope (Zatha has it marked off as the first thing to learn upon level-up) so they call Massar down to the basement to tie it. Sadly, with all his gear the half-elf weighs more than Kythan and its finally enough to cause the rotted wood to break and the ladder shatters and he comes tumbling down taking an impressive 7 damage off of the d6p-3! Mind you, after the combat with the goblins this takes Massar down to -3 hp!

Kythan: Maybe I should have Induced Sobriety before he came down.
Massar Silverleaf bleeds everywhere.
Barodin Blighthwood: its in the hands of the Gods now
Kythan blinks.
Kythan: Did… that just happen?

Now it of course comes down to the point where Massar was the only one with First Aid, so nobody can help him. The two halflings are essentially just watching him twitch and bleed. Massar needs to succeed a stabilization check by 10 to stop taking damage but he has an equal roll as the d10+11 what with the negative for being Dishonorable. Plus now that his Honor is blown he can’t add to it or re-roll really…

Kythan muses, “Maybe I should take off his pants.”
Kythan: Always helps when the times are tough.
Barodin Blighthwood: whats taking those guys so long???
Alimira: You don’t think something happened to them?
Barodin Blighthwood: it’s not like there stuck in a hole…. it’s a house, what could happen?
Alimira: That manor is cursed. Goblin filth. Sad

Things looked bleak for our half-elven friend until I was reminded that he had put on the black scarf the goblin witchdoctor was wearing which is actually a Wrap of Protection and I had neglected to roll the absorption from it for the falling damage! So I retroactively did and he took less damage but it was still enough to knock him out. BUT it meant that he actually succeeded his stabilization check by the exact amount he needed! Huzzah! He comes to after a while, stranded in the basement with the halflings…

Kythan: I’ve never seen a pointy-ears with less grace.
Massar Silverleaf: SmileSmileSmileSmile this place, I want out.
Barodin Blighthwood: that’s just sad
Massar Silverleaf: If some fatass didn’t break the stairs before I went down there.
Massar Silverleaf glares at Kythan.
Kythan: Just bad luck sometimes.
You know.
Massar Silverleaf throws his sharpened coin at Kythan.
Massar Silverleaf: Your luck can get bent.
Kythan: You’ll notice the devout are uninjured.
Kythan picks up the coin.
Kythan: Well, should I get any healing, just know that you’ll receive less of it.
Risk is capricious.
: Risk is extremely petty and vengeful on those that turn their back on him actually Wink
: EXCELLENT.
Zatha: Guess wat! Massah can’t walk down staihs!
Kythan: Maybe he should lay off the pies!
BAHAHAHAHAHA
More for me!
Massar Silverleaf gnashes his teeth and grumbles.
Massar Silverleaf: Worthless….sub-humanoids
Kythan: Yes, yes, now just do that the next time it’s rations time and perhaps next time you won’t be to heavy!
Zatha: Yah just mad cause yah fell down like a child.
Kythan: I’ll be happy to take them off your hands.
Kythan nods at Zatha.
Alimira: Are we going to leave this horrible place?
Kythan nods at Alimira.
Massar Silverleaf: Dear Gods yes.
Kythan: I dare say so.
Alimira averts her gaze from Massar
Massar Silverleaf turns and makes a rude gesture at the building/
Zatha: Yah dun want to make a summah home?
Massar Silverleaf: I think burning it would be great.
Kythan makes a point of picking back up his sharpened coin.
Massar Silverleaf: Maybe we can put the halflings inside before we light it.

There is a discussion on whether they can maybe ask the Earl to give them the manner, and wonder about finding a deed. None of them are super familiar with the law but Alimara believes that while technically they would need a deed with their names on it, out here in the Borderlands things are often “fast and loose” and mere possession of the deed is often enough. Assuming the mage Karinar never came back anyway…

The party manages to get back to Frandor’s Keep without any great difficulty and arrive at the gates in the early evening.

Arriving at the Lower Bailey gates the guards question the party and are set to let them all in until they get a look at Massar who is now cruising around with an Honor of 2. They say that he can’t come in, and he looks like trouble. Massar is quite flummoxed by this and tries to bill himself as an impressive hero but the guards aren’t really buying it. They suggest however that perhaps for a silver coin “processing fee” they can let him in. Kythan and Barodin (and Alimira) scoot past during this leaving only Zatha with him to donate for the cause, after spinning a tale that they were to bring this elf in as a favour for his old dying mother or something… I can’t really remember what the BS he was saying was now but I think it may have started a trope in keep now…

Massar Silverleaf blinks.
Massar Silverleaf: We’re the saviors of towns.
Vouch for me here, boys.
Guard: The Prefect is quite clear about keeping Quarrytown riff-raff from the keep
However, for a slight fee perhaps your friend may be able to prove he is a “man” of worth.
(From Barodin Blighthwood): just take the princess past the guards while this is all happeneing. acting like i don’t know these people
Kythan laughs uproariously in the background.
Kythan giggles with glee.
Zatha takes out a coin for the guard
Guard: surely you mean each? (indicated that there are 2 guards)
Zatha glares at Massar
Guard: or we may need to also enforce the helmet tax
Zatha: I undahstand fellahs. Gotta wet ya whistle, but I do as well. Let all yah friends know of mah genahrosity.
Massar Silverleaf nudges Zatha. “Cmon, im dying here.”
Zatha slides them a silver each
Guard: Much obliged little Master, and may your poor ol mum be feeling better
Zatha: I shall send hah yah rahgards. Make suah yah toast me when yah out tonight.

Kythan and Zatha make for the Upper Bailey to report to the Earl while the others hit the tavern to lay low. Sadly, Kythans nemesis the guard Anoz is at the gate and he doesn’t look happy to see the troublesome halfling!

Anoz Ganesh: “Where you think you’re going peck?”
Kythan: On official business.
Anoz Ganesh: Sorry, pecks.
First bell has rung, the gate is closed.
Unless you have a letter from the Earl you lot aren’t getting in. Now scram before I arrest you for being ugly
Kythan: Well, I’ll be sure to express the problems we had here in our official report.
Aceris: ((the earl is totally gonna skim us on the reward))
Kythan: Well, I’d show you my impression of your nose, but truthfully, that’s an insult to my pecker.
This…
Kythan pulls out pants and looks down.
Kythan: Is a thing of beauty.
THIS!
Is magnificent.
Anoz Ganesh: “That’s it”
Anoz Ganesh cracks his knuckles and walks up to Kythan
Zatha puts his hands up and backs away
Zatha: Ahm not paht of that.
Kythan: Eh, I’ll give you one shot.
You’ll miss so badly you’ll end up eating your ass for a week.
Kythan waits with mock suspense.
Anoz Ganesh goes to kick Kythan in the gnads
Anoz Ganesh: rolling d20-6+6
(6)-6+6= 6
\m/
Kythan: Kythan defends 15
Anoz Ganesh: “Fuck off!”
Kythan: Oh, want to get a feel of it, do you?
Kythan winks and turns to leave.
Anoz Ganesh goes back to the other guards and boasts about running the half-man away

Failing to secure passage into the Upper Bailey this evening they head to the Shrine of the Caregiver for some sweet sweet healing. Balan is surprised to see how wounded they are and bandages their wounds more fully and gives a few healing spells. He’s sorry he can’t fully heal them right away, but he’s already used some spells today. But he says they can stay with him as long as they wish, but notes that if they devoted themselves to the Lord of Silver Linings they would heal quicker.

The next morning Kythan struts out and heads up to the Upper Bailey once more. Luckily Anoz is not there this time, just two other guards he doesn’t know.

Kythan: Hello, friends!
Guard squints at Kythan “Uh oh, Anoz told us about you.”
Kythan: Uhg, that ass.
How do you gents tolerate him?
He was trying so hard to get his meaty hands on my pecker last night.
Finally, I just had to give him the slip.
Did you actually have to talk to him? Do you need me to buy you a drink?
The two guards look at each other
Kythan winks.
Kythan: It’s alright chaps.

At this point a large procession of soldiers comes through out of the Upper Bailey and heads down through Fallow Gate to the Lower Bailey. They seem to be marching prisoners through. Kythan watches and asks about it but the guards don’t say anything aside that the Prefect was leading it.

Anyway gents, may I pass?
I’ve done a few small jobs for the earl.
Breaking in shoes, and the like.
Guard: Nice for you
Kythan: He needed to see me after I finished my last task.
Guard: Do you have any proof of this?
Kythan shows the pass that the steward gave them, rightfully guessing that these guards probably couldn’t read.
Kythan: Thank you kindly, sirs.
Don’t let that Anoz get you down. Next time you’re on guard with him, let me know and I’ll bring you a round.

One of the guards escorts Kythan up to the Earls Manor and knocks on the door. The Steward opens and asks Kythan if it’s done and Kythan nods. The Steward says they’ll meet at the same place after lunch and dismisses them. Kythan convinces the guard to let him visit the jewelers to sell some stuff on the way back and then meets up with the rest of the party at the Shrine and tells them the news. They muck about for a while and then all go the the Cobblers again and meet with the Earl and the Steward.

Alimira and the Earl are tearfully re-united and the steward pays the party their 50 silver coins each and reminds them that secrecy is important and they may use them for more tasks in the future. They tell the steward about the manor infested with goblins but he isn’t familiar with Karinar himself, but suggests if they found a deed they could use it. Assuming Karinar is dead whoever he is. Afterwards the party returns to the Shrine to continue healing, but the patients and acolytes are all abuzz with what just happened in the Lower Bailey while they were meeting with the Earl.

After you return you find that most of the people staying in the shrine are gossiping about what happened down at the Lower Bailey
Zatha listens in to the gossip
Barodin Blighthwood: ask what the hell happened
It seems that Vespin Tower had been overrun with goblins and the guards that were stationed there killed
But this was found very late since their relief patrol had instead ditched and went to Vew for extra furlough instead of re-leaving the (dead) garrison
The tower has been taken back now, but the men that were in the patrol that ditched here given 10 lashes each and will each spend a week on the pillory
The patrol leader was executed by the Prefect

Barodin and Massar are basically stuck in the Shrine for a few days healing so the halflings are freed up to cause trouble. Mainly this involves selling off the loot the scored from the manor.

Kythan: We are also procurers of goods.
Kythan: Should you need something special, you should let us know.
Kythan: You were lucky to have met us. We can obtain things that are far too risky for others.
Dasas: I occasionally need people to guard my caravans. Perhaps I shall have work for you in the future
Kythan: Do you have a gold threaded and bejeweled codpiece perchance?
Dasas: Sadly that is the one item I am lacking

They take the strange writing to the Adept Scribes and try to get a translation but nobody there can read it. They suggest it looks like magical glyphs and perhaps they should go ask the crazy lady fortune-teller. The halflings inquire about commissioning the “writing of a deed” but the Scribes say again that would be a legal document needing a seal and they can’t just make one. Though one of the scribes begins winking furiously at them at that.

Seemingly striking out at the scribes, Kythan and Massar head to the Magic Box to speak to Madame Radaama in case she knows anything about the magical script. When they enter she says that she had a vision that they would come and that the have questions and the spirits would answer if they could. Massar asked about the scarf he got and she told him that the spirits requires a sacrifice of coin. After much fretting he pulled out a single trade coin. Insulted by this low donation she basically told him to SmileSmileSmileSmile off. He called her a quack and stormed out.

After a minute of both her and Kythan beating around the bush she dropped the pretences and said she knew who and what we was. It’s becoming more and more obvious that almost everyone in the Keep knows about the Challenger of Fate in their midst. In fact all of the guards have been warned about him. Due to Radaamas carny nature however she sees a kindred soul in some way in him, and wishes to stay on the good side of Risk since it directly applies to what she does every day. She looks at the notes and says that they’re indeed magical shorthand and she can translate for 5sp, the same price the Scribes would charge. Kythan pays and she translates a set of word. He thanks her and passes her the annointed sharpened coin that Massar had thrown away earlier as a tip with a wink.

Coming out Kythan tells Zatha that he had the words translated and Zatha says they should get her to look at the wand. The two halflings return to The Magic Box but this time Kythan totally plays along with her act as she intones that the spirits can see that Zatha has a troubling need to know things, etc etc… and basically draws it out of him.

Zatha: Whatevah lady. I just want to know what the stick is.
Zatha rolls his eyes
Zatha mutters bullshittin a bullshittah
Zatha puts a silver in the bowl

She looks it over and tells him it’s a wand of Fire and Flame and can do various fire-related things from starting a campfire to creating great walls of flame. However each effect would require a command word to use, plus only a trained mage can wield it. And of course there is no way to know how many charges it has left… So being the only (known) mage in the area she says she doesn’t really want it, but hears that some Kobars and other training academies will take magical items in trade for tuition. Aside from that it’s very difficult to sell such items (had to give the players the “No Magic Shops in Hackmaster” talk).

Meanwhile Barodin heads over to Anari’s Arms in the hopes of buying some new armour but in a tragedy of low availability rolling they are out of everything! Yeesh! He talks to the armorsmith about the possibility of commissioning some ringmail and is told it will take a while. He also peruses some of the fancier weapons for sale but since they’re all swords and he’s a battle-axe kinda guy he doesn’t buy anything. He heads to the Leather shop and finds some ringmail there instead however. Huzzah!

So most of the little details have now been taken care of it’s time for a training montage! Dun dun dun! The characters all go to level 2 and there’s not much special to mention: Barodin specialized in Mace in case of “god dam skeletons”, Zatha learns rope-use (he rolled it previously) so he doesn’t have to rely on Massar anymore, Massars Sneaking skill went up a significant amount and Kythan now has more spells – so maybe he’ll get something useful now!

And now we wait 2 weeks both out and in-game till the next session. Smile

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