Forest of Sorrows

Can't villains ever die easily?
October 23rd (2010): Session 5


This is here solely so I can come back and write it later, and in the meantime, give you your EXP and character questions. This week is going to be busy for me – between doing all my mapping and writing for Friday, potentially helping Geoffrey with his computer, homework, whatever else – but I will certainly try to fit the writing of this log entry in the meantime.

Otherwise, it will get done on Halloween weekend, while everyone else is undoubtedly having fun and going to parties, and I am at home with little else to do but write nonsense for you people to play through.

That said. Enjoy my not-so-witty-but-fitting title for the time being.

Here’s your stuff.
200 EXP for session, 150 for questions:

1) What is your character’s greatest fear in heading to Keep Pelegaid?

2) How about greatest hope (beside replenishing Uredo’s transparent hand)? Any hopes at all?

3) Spend a moment to think about what might be in a pre-Blight military establishment like Keep Pelegaid; soldiers’ gear, for instance, among other things. Recall the scarcity of simple materials like iron and steel, and the rarity of good-quality equipment in general that existed in your hometown of Strahl. (Or, for the ranger, Balloc – which should be even more extreme.) How would such findings be significant to your character?

Explosive Anger
October 16th (2010): Session 4

Explosive Anger

We rejoined our heroes in the middle of the Night Watch.

After one battle, Uredo fell to the ground and the party, as a whole, was quite ‘roughed up.’ Alain arrived to relieve them of their posts, and he sent them to Tobin’s house to rest, to avoid their death on the battlefield. The party was grateful for this solace.

They retired to bed almost immediately. Locrian and Uredo awoke sicker than they had been the previous day due to their poisonous wounds.

Each party member awoke to see three books on their bedstand. These books were found to pre-date the Great Blight in Strahl, and actually be about Strahl. This new information baffled the party members and led them to question Tobin about how these books came into his possession.

Alain provided Uredo and Locrian with antivenom for their ailments, but it would not take effect until their next extended rest.

It was found that the books had all been given to Toby by Braenor on his various trips to Balloc, as gifts for Toby’s hospitality. Braenor had instructed Toby never to show the books to the inhabitants of Balloc, but if others from Strahl were to show up and gain Toby’s trust, they would probably find the books very interesting. Toby, taking this to heart, had made a leap of faith to trust the party with the knowledge of these books.

After much extended discussion about the nature of Toby’s literature and Braenor, Alain knocked on the door and called the party to stand before Denthus and Karthor, cautioning the party not to make enemies of Karthor – he was already quite unhappy with them.

It began with Denthus questioning the players about their use of magic. Uredo fabricated a brilliant lie (which made Locrian very uncomfortable, but he suppressed this): he and Locrian were bards. This upset Karthor greatly. Uredo managed to lead the conversation exactly where he wanted it to go, and with great success; Denthus, eventually, accepted it. He targeted Tiffiany next, questioning how she could light her blade on fire; Uredo claimed it was a magical sword, and she said she was bound to it. Karthor insisted upon testing this, and, with an Arcana check, found the claim of it being a magical blade false. With this, he denounced the party as liars, calmly awaiting the judgment of his superior to remove the party from their presence.

Locrian stood and questioned Karthor’s status as a wizard. With this, his accompanying Diplomacy roll was a natural 1.

So it began: Karthor became enraged, directing a fireball at Locrian from only fifteen feet away; the growing jet of flame engulfed Locrian (natural 20) and left him for little more than a corpse, severely burnt, unconscious, and dying on the ground.

In the chaos of this new development, both Alain and Denthus stood to aid Locrian, and the rest of the party armed themselves accordingly.

Uredo immediately committed himself to Locrian’s aid, offering a healing spell to bring him off the ground and close up his burns. With a new surge of life, Locrian re-entered the battle.

Spells, arrows, and swords flashed across the great hall, many of which were deflected by a protective barrier of magic around Karthor. Locrian casted the greatest spell he could manage, burning a hole through the roof of the log cabin and scorching the floor, much to the great surprise of both Denthus and Alain. Karthor was relatively unaffected, however.

After defending himself against the onslaught of hostiles, Karthor turned his attention to the traitorous Denthus, taking his life with a volley of fire spells. Denthus was turned to a smoldering husk on the ground.

Karthor’s spells would fill the entire hall with flames, time after time. Uredo and Tiffiany both fell to the inferno before Locrian broke the wizard’s mind with a final assault, a bolt of chaos that slipped past his mental defenses.

The two burnt and dying party members were revived by Rond’s heal checks.

After confirming Karthor’s death (he had no pulse), Locrian reached for Karthor’s wand – when he was only a moment from grabbing the utensil, the room was filled with brilliant, blinding white light, and a loud crack (think flashbang, but without making you deaf). When the party members gained their vision back, Karthor’s body and wand were both nowhere to be found.

Rond began packing away Karthor’s spellbooks at Locrian’s request.

Locrian left the bookcase and approaches Alain, facing him directly. “I am sorry,” he said, and cast his gaze downward.

Alain, in turn, looked up to the ceiling. “You made a hole in the roof, you know.”

“Your wizard nearly made a hole in you,” he retorted.

Alain smiled faintly, accepting Locrian’s misunderstanding, and continued, “The entire town will be waiting outside for us.” At this, Locrian’s jaw clenched, as he realized the implications of his grand spell.

Locrian spent a few moments contemplating this and surveying the scene before replying, “I suppose this will look like our fault, then.”

“It may. I will do my best to maintain your innocence in the matter,” he said, following Locrian’s gaze. Alain’s eyes lit up.

“We have a chance. Karthor, the villain, is absent… He escaped.”

Locrian looked minorly confused by this. “He is dead,” he corrected Alain.

To this, Alain, replied calmly, “There are none but us who know this.” This caused Locrian to pause, and nod.

Alain addressed each living person in the room for a moment with his eyes, and finally nodded, looking altogether very calm. “Karthor escaped, and we survived.”

And that was the end of our session.

Everyone receives 350 EXP. And here are your questions, for an additional 150:

1) How would your character have felt/reacted if the Bard met his death during the encounter?
1) For the Bard; how does your character feel about his very close brush with death?

2) You could be considered indirectly responsible for Denthus’ death. How does your character feel about participating in the death of Balloc’s leadership, even if it wasn’t your fault?

3) The books you received all pre-dated the Great Blight in Strahl, and depicted a history that was not thought to exist – before the Blight, before the encroaching shadows, a world far more “normal” (although you wouldn’t know it as normal) than the one you all exist within now. What was your character’s internal reaction at seeing so many instances of pre-Blight literature about your home?

2-3 sentences should suffice, but given that these are more complex questions, you are welcome to answer them with more than that.

Thanks for the good session! E-mail your documents my way.

We left Strahl for this?
October 9th (2010): Session 3

We left Strahl for this?

We left off with the party just entering a forest clearing, inhabited by a small village – presumably that of which Raul and Entain had informed them. After the town bell had been run, people turned out in droves to stare at these strange newcomers – stranger yet for their attire (well, beside the Bard).

The captain of the Watch – introduced as Alain – ran forth to meet these travelers and guide them around Balloc’s hidden pit traps. Having brought the party to “safety,” he drew a bucket of water out of the nearest well for them and requested some introductions.

The bard notably introduced himself as Oaru, contrary to the name he gave the party, Uredo.

Locrian, though clearly desperate for the respite of water, asked that they talk somewhere safer, away from the eyes and ears of the townspeople. Alain agreed, and began to lead them to Balloc’s leader, Denthus.

Denthus’ hall was unimpressive, at best. One half-full bookshelf, lines of spider legs and wooden slates used for writing were its only adornments, beside the head villager’s desk and stools. Using this as an opportunity to burn off some excess anger, Locrian made a very unkind remark about Denthus’ hall being a lovely campsite. Uredo (or, Oaru) managed to deflect most of the man’s wrath, and the party was seated. Karthor, introduced as Denthus’ assistant, was clearly not happy with the group. On the other hand, Alain seemed to be on their side.

After much lukewarm discussion, the exchange became heated at the suggestion that the people of Balloc could not trust these newcomers from Strahl, cryptically citing the misdeeds of a man by the name of Braenor to come from Strahl before them. Karthor drew a wand and stood, but was flagged down by Denthus. Braenor’s name was not recognized by the party.

To gain the trust of Balloc, it was decided that these strange travelers would man a section of the northern front for that night’s watch. Alain would be watching so they could be assessed. In the meantime, Alain directed the group to the farmhouse of Tobin, Balloc’s farmer. Introducing himself as Toby, he was more than eager to take these strange-looking people into his home.

Through Toby’s kindness, the players were given baths, new clothes, and beds for the evening. They talked at great length about many things, after Uredo (or, Oaru) was finished with his own performance and storytelling – both of which, Toby truly enjoyed. Braenor and Karthor were both topics of discussion. It was revealed that Karthor was, in fact, a wizard – the village’s only, prior to the arrival of the party. Braenor’s physical description fit that of Andor Machrow, a city council member whom Locrian and Tiffiany both recognized as the man who was taken to jail just before the explosion that resulted in their escape with Rond in the first session.

No one felt quite safe in this new environment, but a mutual consensus was reached that whatever situation they were in was safer than being in the forest. After this agreement, the party took to their beds. Locrian’s robe was washed very thoroughly, and looked quite pristine when it was all done.

Toby awoke the party two hours before their report time. They spent this time exploring the village and trading for a few services – they met Alrik, the town’s Dwarven craftsman (calling himself a “craftsdwarf”) who readily offered to sharpen their blades for a temporary +1 enhancement bonus, and Aeric, the town’s tailor, who was happy to exchange hastily prepared spidersilk gear (leather AC value) for Uredo’s coins from Strahl, to be used in Balloc’s local gambling ring. With their new equipment, the party took on the night watch.

During the subsequent encounters, Locrian was gravely injured. We ended session after two battles with waves of the angry, venomous spiders.

Questions, questions, questions…

The session EXP has been revised to be 400. The Bard should only gain 50 of this 400. Everyone else gets 100 more than they previously thought.

Just warning everyone now, the EXP train will tone down eventually – but enjoy it while it lasts. Doing the math on your encounters, you scored just over 300 EXP as they were designed, and you did a good 3 hours of roleplay prior to the encounters. I felt that 400EXP + Questions would be good. You’ll be level 3 before you’ve even had the chance to properly enjoy level 2…

Questions are 150 EXP as follows:

1. This is a question for the player: How did you feel about last session? How do you feel about the campaign in general? Give me your overall opinion, pick out one thing you like(d) and one think you dislike(d), and explain why. This might take a little longer than the average question, but it’s good for all of us.

2. A terrible crime has been committed, and evidence points to your character’s guilt. (S)he didn’t commit the crime, but (s)he doesn’t have an immediate way to prove it. What does (s)he do?

3. What’s the worst nightmare your character remembers ever having?

Journey to Nowhere
October 2nd (2010): Session 2

This post will follow a less narrative style than the previous, for the sake of making it manageable to write in one sitting. You guys covered something like ten days in one session. I may come back at a later time and fill it in to have some more flavor. Or, if someone else wants to write it for me – by all means. I don’t mind throwing in some player-written narratives.

So, it begins, boring though it might be:

Journey to Nowhere

Where we left off in our last session placed our party of three (Rond, Tiffiany, and Locrian) in a messy situation – they had escaped the city, and were faced with a choice: the manner of their escape.

It was decided, then, that the party would make their way into the nearest colony and find refuge in a barn. They did exactly that – although Rond stumbled along the way, the party successfully “broke into” an unlocked barn in the hour of sunset.

Locrian awkwardly offered a handful of grain to Tiffiany, for the purposes of making a poultice to soothe her wounds. Some discussion was to be had about their next course of action. Despite the displeased groaning of Locrian, it was agreed that the party should sleep in shifts, so that the last watch would be able to wake up the rest of the party so they would be able to leave before the farmers awoke. Tiffiany was spared her shift on account of her injuries.

Locrian took first watch, and Rond took second. During Rond’s watch, a bard (who introduced himself as Uredo Nex, much to the confusion of Tiffiany and Locrian) entered the barn for unexplained reasons, and insisted upon helping the party through whatever hardship they were experiencing. Reluctant to trust the newcomer, but desperate for aid, the trio accepted Uredo without much argument.

Making their escape with the help of two cows (Rond sent them trampling through the field of grain) the four of them vanished into the cover of the trees, making their way through rough terrain and tangled woodlands for no more than an hour before they were attacked by a vicious group of spiders. Rond was incapacitated, and Locrian severely wounded by a particularly venomous bite to the leg. Injured, Rond developed a limp after being revived by his fellows.

Locrian pointed the way westward for the party to find water. It was their hope that this would, eventually, lead to civilization. Another hour of travel and they found themselves at a river, travelling south. Taking some time to clean their wounds and various appendages, they rested here, seemingly safe for the time being.

A short time passed before they got on their feet again, making their way downstream along the river bank. Uredo played his lute and sung an off-key tune, hoping to raise the party’s spirits as they traveled through the threatening wilderness. Before long, however, they realized they were not alone – two men’s voices met their ears, coming from downstream.

Most of the party decided to hide, but Locrian stayed in the open, meeting these newcomers – introduced as Raul and Entain, Raul claimed they came from the town of Balloc, a week’s travel downstream.

Raul explained that he and Entain were sent from Balloc in search of other settlements – their town would send out a pair every month, but none had returned. One was found dead, having been sent back as a corpse on the river. Upon the introduction of Strahl, Raul was both fascinated and frightened. He was clearly reluctant to take these newfound travelers back downstream with him to Balloc, but agreed to do so.

So the party, now of six, went downstream. Battling spiders, fatigue and starvation, the going was not easy. Rond healed his limp after a few days, and the pace quickened, but not greatly. Seven days passed along the river, and Raul estimated another three before reaching Balloc, at their pace.

Entain fell ill, presumably having ingested spider poison from an ill-prepared meal of spider meat. The party could not continue for a day. On that night, their campsite was attacked by a horde of spiders – three very large spiders came out of the forest to the north and descended upon them. The party of four (Locrian, Tiffiany, Rond, Uredo) ran from the grotesque scene after failing the attempt to convince Raul to run with them. Raul was injected with poison and wrapped in spider webbing, Entain was simply wrapped up, being immobilized by his illness.

Reduced again to its old number, the party raced from the scene and set up a fire for a new campsite as soon as they found a suitable location. It seemed safe, and they slept for the night.

Three days of uneventful travel passed after that. Following a smoke trail in the air, the party crossed through what was left of their path through the forest, finding themselves in a clearing with a small village and farm in the middle. They were met with the curious stares of bowmen, standing behind lines of sharpened stakes to ward off intruders.

And that is where we leave off.

Session EXP: 350
Questions EXP: 150

Everyone but the Bard should be level 2.

I apologize for the boring narration! These adventure logs are mostly for when A) a player can’t make it or B) the party needs a recap. I believe this serves both purposes – but fear not, I will throw in an exciting narration when it seems appropriate. And anyone is welcome to raise their hand and volunteer to write a narration for these logs where I do little more than recount what you already know.

That said, it needed to be done, so I could give you your questions:

1. What is your character’s favorite weather? Least favorite? Why?

2. Someone asks your character to describe his/her family. How does (s)he answer?

3. Does your character have any phobias? What are they and how intense are they? How have they
impacted his/her life?

2-3 sentences should suffice, as always, and you are welcome to go beyond that if you so choose. I’ve read answers that take up a few paragraphs before, so it’s unlikely that you’ll scare me.

E-mail: Write your answers in the e-mail or send in document attachment form.

The Escape
September 25th (2010): Session 1

The Escape

The sun sat high in the sky at approximately 10AM, when city council member Andor Machrow was paraded through the city as a traitor to the people of Strahl.

“I am no Snake, damn you! I have been framed! This is all a mistake! I am not a criminal, unhand me! You will pay for this!”

He certainly did not go quietly.

A crowd had gathered along his final path to the jailhouse – among this crowd was Tiffiany Briar, headed eastward to her job at the library. She was stopped short, however, by the throng.

“Stop this nonsense immediately! Someone, help me! I have been framed!”

Andor reached the jailhouse with his guard escort. The wall of people began to dissipate, milling about in their normal fashion. Tiffiany shook her head and moved on, making her way eastward.

Andor Machrow could be heard shouting from within the jailhouse, quite muffled. Tiffiany stopped a few moments beside the building, listening to the heated altercation inside. She could make out no words, but Machrow was certainly in a rage. Being processed into a dungeon couldn’t be fun for a noble.

She shook her head as the noise died down. “Serves him right,” she thought to herself. “I’m glad to see the city guard finally doing something about our corrupt government,” she said aloud.

Tiffiany resumed her walk with a wry smile.

It is common knowledge that the jail’s dungeon was underground, positioned just feet from the rear (or east) end of the jailhouse. At night, when inmates felt like causing a ruckus, their screaming and groaning could be heard from above the cobblestone. Muffled though it was, it made for some eerie experiences in the dead of night, for certain fellows who might forget where they were.

And as Tiffiany passed by it, the dungeon blew its top – with a resounding explosion of force, the ceiling of the dungeon was blasted upward in the form of cobblestone-filled debris. Dust and dirt filled the air. Tiffiany was knocked prone by the blast, but returned to her senses quickly. Her surroundings were frightening, at best.

Upon brief inspection, the inside of the dungeon could be described as “demolished.” The iron bars and cell walls were all severely damaged or destroyed, some bars ripped from their sockets, or bent so wide open that anyone could fit through them. It was a disaster. Several prisoners seemed to be knocked unconscious (presumably by the explosion) but others yet could be seen climbing out of their cells, onto the damaged cobblestone above.

Among these climbing prisoners was Locrian Noire, a young man of previously impressive social standing, with whom Tiffiany had minor acquaintance a year past. She raced to meet him, on the other side of the cell block, while he surveyed the situation, oblivious to her.

What Locrian’s eyes saw was despair. Guards swarmed into the area, attempting to stave off the spread of escaped prisoners – but they were met with formidable enemies. The Silver Snakes had taken an interest in the situation and poured out of the alleyways and from the nearby rooftops. Many guards, caught by surprise while running, found a dagger lodged in their jugular before they would have time to fight back.

“The situation already looks bleak, and I’ve only just escaped,” he thought with disgust.

As Tiffiany began to run in his direction, a man dressed in prison sackcloth with ragged, dark hair passed her by, and grappled a guard to the ground beside her. She had no time nor a weapon, so she had to continue past the situation. On her way to Locrian, she passed a cloaked Snake dueling with a bloody guard, and realized that she was heading deeper into a conflict which she may not escape. But it was too late to turn back.

Locrian noticed her with great confusion, but there was no time for an explanation. Her eyes betrayed her bewilderment at his attire – no prison sackcloth for him, no. He instead wore a lovely green robe! At least, it once was lovely, before whatever event occurred that covered it in the scent of stale urine and crude drawings of genitalia.

“Get them! Escaped prisoners!” Two guards called from their south – Locrian and Tiffiany both turned their heads to the sound, and saw two armed guards headed in their direction.

“Shit – run!” Locrian instinctively turned to the north, and Tiffiany willingly followed. His eyes found Rond – a man in his mid-30’s with dark hair turned ragged by months spent in prison, facial hair unshaven. He carried a bloodied longsword.

Rond met the gaze, running into the pair as they came to an alley on their right. “Go – I’ll handle the guards!” He immediately pushed past them, as Locrian offered him a thankful, if unsure, glance.

Tiffiany quickly surveyed the area, and in a moment of tactician’s inspiration, she found their only out. “Into the alley, let’s go!”

They stopped short, impeded by a well sitting at the corner of the alley. To their right came a Silver Snake, sprinting up the alleyway, and to their left, two Snakes and a guard were locked in heated battle. The Snake would reach them before they could make it to the other end. Locrian dashed forward, noticing a guard headed into the alley from the east, and retreated.

“We have no choice – we have to go through the Snake!” he shouted at Tiffiany.

“With what?!” she retorted.

At that moment, Rond ran around the bend, a second sword in hand. He threw this at Tiffiany. “Hope you can use it!”

Then, the Snake engaged.

The trio were locked in conflict. Tiffiany suffered wounds on the Snake’s daggers, and the three moved northward. Rond pinned one of the rogues down in the northern alley, and urged for his companions to rush past him. He threw the Snake in his hands back at the pursuers, and the three of them raced north, and then west.

“We need to make for the gate – we can’t stay in the city!” Rond called after them, holding the rear.

And so they did. The trio sprinted back, past the crater that was once a jail dungeon, and down the courtyard in front of the gate. The gate was closed. They each shared the same thought – the town alarm must have been raised in all of the chaos, and none of them heard it. Rond took the lead, bursting into the guardhouse, sword first – it was empty. He nodded his partners the affirmative, and took to the pulley, opening the gate inch by inch.

The sound of the gate opening could not go unnoticed. From the jailhouse emerged the jailor, staring incredulously at the situation unfolding at the gate. He was unarmed, and could do nothing to stop them. The three made their way out of the city, battered, but alive… And free.

Players present gain 350 EXP.

Homework questions for 150 EXP – to be written in a text file or in an e-mail and sent to me.

1. A very large centipede runs across your character’s leg. What does (s)he do?

2. A stranger makes a crude comment to your character. How does (s)he react?

3. What does your character wish (s)he could do that (s)he can’t? How badly does (s)he want it and what would (s)he do to get it?

“Homework questions” will follow this format most of the time. Three questions with (usually) fairly short or clear answers, if you give the personality of your character some thought. The purpose of this “homework” is to keep you all thinking about your character in ways that give your character depth. As the campaign goes on, the questions will become more focused by design, so that I may use your answers in further development of the campaign. For now, this is mostly just to get you thinking.

Next session on Oct. 2nd. Exact time TBA. Thinking about starting as early as 4PM, and then going until 10PM. Thoughts on this are welcome.

Until next time!


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