12 May

The Lonely Coast Campaign – Wherever It Is Going Part 1 (Session 15)

When we last left the party, the village of Swallowfeld had been attacked by a force of goblins. The PCs had, with the Warden’s blessing, gone out to fight the goblins. After the battle, in which the forces of “good” had prevailed, the Warden and Bay had spoken. Bay had suggested that the Warden, who was still a bit concerned about the party, could trust to Pounder’s sense of honor and duty and that the paladin would make sure that the adventurers would not bring additional danger to the peoples of the Lonely Coast. Pounder then discussed this with the Warden and agreed. He and Feng had gone off to find Thalimor–for whom the Warden had reserved the vast majority of his concern–to inform the bard of the situation.

This is where we pick up after the break. We had a full table this session with non one missing. By the end of this session, the status of the PCs on the Lonely Coast will have significantly changed and the Warden’s concerns shown to be quite well-founded.

Pounder and Feng were walking with definite purpose through the Keep’s crowded courtyard, making a direct line for the party. Feng approached Thalimor and told the bard that he was to come with them and he could either come willingly or they could force him. It was clear from the half-orc’s smile that he preferred the latter of the two. Thalimor, perhaps because he had nowhere to really run or perhaps because he was curious about what awaited him, went willingly.

He was led to the wall above the gate where the Warden awaited. It was explained that Pounder had taken an oath to protect the Lonely Coast to the best of his abilities and, in particular, that he had full lawful authority to deal with the bard as he saw fit…including the right to execute him. Thalimor didn’t seem that unnerved by this turn of events and the little twinkle in his eye suggested that he simply thought this to be another challenge to his freedom that he would, no doubt, overcome.

With that Thalimor and Pounder were dismissed and headed back down to the courtyard. Thalimor headed off to find Kettle and Saewig, which he did with little difficulty. He explained to them that there had been goblins inside their inn and that the Fellowship Hall had been burned to the ground. The “Magpie” quickly hustled off to spread this news, likely Thalimor’s intent of telling Saewig the information in the first place.

Bay let the others know that in his prior conversation with the Warden that he had volunteered their services in going through the village to hunt down goblins. He had also volunteered Isenthorne’s skill at tracking as well since the Warden’s two trackers had been killed in the ambush at the charcoalers’ huts. Everyone was eager to get on with things and to kill whatever goblins might be found. So when Thalimor returned, they all headed for the gate.

At the gate, however, they were not allowed to leave. The soldiers refused to open the gate for them. When Bay explained that they had orders to go out and hunt down goblins, the soldiers simply said that they had been ordered to keep the gate closed and had heard nothing about the party being granted permission to depart. So the party set off to find the Warden to get that permission granted.

They found the Warden talking to a man and woman, most likely husband and wife. The man bore a remarkable familial resemblance to the Warden. When the Warden turned and walked away, the woman collapsed into the man’s arms, crying heavily. The Warden saw the party and came over to them. Clearly somewhat shaken by his conversation with the couple, he explained that was his brother and his brother’s wife and that two of the children taken by goblins during the night were their children. He went on, with his voice stressed and starting to rise in volume, to explain that as much as he would like to ride out and find his nephews, his duty and his obligations were to the village as a whole and not just what he wanted to do. Something that he wasn’t sure they would understand.

Bay then asked why they couldn’t go out and hunt down the goblins in the village. This proved to be a bit too much for the Warden. His voice rose to a shout, stressing that he would not be sending them out just on their own and that they would go out once his troops were ready to accompany them. His troops would surround whatever building that they were checking and clearing so any goblins could not escape. They could just wait until it was time for the coordinated effort to clear the village.

[I’m not sure quite exactly when it happened but at one point, Kettilwig (who had previously fallen asleep and had been transferred over to Caedden’s care) came up to Pounder. He held her hand but she wanted to be picked up. Pounder said no quite firmly and this clearly upset the young girl. She pulled away and ran off, shouting that he was just like Daegelric (her brother who had been rather cold towards Kettilwig and openly gave Pounder hateful glares.

Caedden also asked about Fellowship Hall having heard a rumor that it had burned down…hmm, I wonder who started that one. And it was confirmed for him.]

The wait for the troops was not long and soon the party was heading out with six of the Warden’s troops accompanying them. It was decided that they would check the Wolf’s Head Inn first as they had seen goblins inside it the prior night AND it was one of the first buildings they came to. The troops went to cover the various exits of the building as Bay used his magical powers to open the door while standing to the side.

Quickly peeking inside, Bay saw at least a couple of lumps on tables and the bar. A longer look showed them to be sleeping goblins! Two were sleeping on tables while a third was asleep on the bar. They had obviously made no effort to hide themselves…rather strange for a goblin. The party streamed inside without making much attempt to remain quiet. The goblins woke up but did not draw their weapons or run. Instead, the one one the bar yelled out, “Barley! Barley!”

Isenthorne responded in Goblin and asked if he meant parley. The goblin seemed shocked that she spoke Goblin but also relieved to talk in his language. He did, in fact, want to talk. Isenthorne and Thalimor had a short conversation with him. The goblin explained that they are from the Fishhead Tribe and not the Blood Moon tribe. The Blood Moon tribe along with a little demon named Lord Aerlium and recently invaded their caves. Their tribe was being forced to do what Aerlium wanted, including attacking the humans. These three goblins had remained behind to talk in the hopes of finding help in fighting against the Blood Moon and Aerlium. He also shared that he could take them to the humans taken by the goblins the prior night. They would only do so, however, if the humans were not hostile to them.

Concerned that the troops would not respond well to the sight of armed goblins exiting the inn, Thalimor suggested that the goblins disarm themselves. This did not sit well with them. They would consider that a hostile action and would not do so. One even indicated that he had known it was a mistake to come and seek the help of humans. Pounder had had enough talk however and moved forward, readying his warhammer. Osric, who was the only other member of the party who could speak Goblin, stepped in his way to stop him.

The half-orc’s obvious hostility was enough for the two goblins on the tables. They hopped down and ran out a door. Isenthorne went after them, followed by Osric, to try and keep them from getting out where they’d run into the soldiers but goblins are quick little things. By the time she reached the back, they were already outside and had killed the soldier covering that exit. The goblins kept running and disappeared around the corner of another building. Isenthorne, Osric, and the remaining troops their shouts summoned gave chase but with no success.

[I kind of screwed up here and did my math wrong. There probably should have been two guards at the back door and not just one. The goblins, being the quick and slippery little menaces that they are, would likely have still escaped but there would probably have been one less dead guard.]

Meanwhile, back inside, Pounder threatened the remaining goblin who responded by jumping down behind the bar. When the paladin rounded the end of the bar, there was no goblin obviously apparent. Looking more closely, he saw a small bit of goblin boot sticking out from a shelf under the bar. He grabbed it and yanked the goblin out. In response, the goblin cast a spell that shot a black light out towards Pounder but it missed. Pounder slammed the goblin against the bar and then squeezed one of its hands so hard that the fingers broke. Flipping the goblin around, he grabbed it by the neck and squeezed hard enough to keep it from talking. Thalimor stepped up and rapped it on the back of the head with his rapier’s pommel, knocking it unconscious. It was tied up and gagged.

Once Isenthorne, Osric, and the troops returned, the goblin was taken to the Keep for questioning by the Warden’s troops. The dead soldier was also taken to the Keep. A search of the rest of the inn turned up no other goblins.

The next five or six hours were spent searching the rest of the village, building by building. No additional goblins were found. A number of buildings other than the Fellowship Hall had been burned, including the blacksmith.

The party returned to Wardseld Keep.

Pounder was summoned to the Warden’s office. The Warden was not happy. His questioning of the goblin had revealed that they had come her to talk and to lead the humans to their caves to fight what the Warden considered a greater enemy and possibly save his nephews. The goblin had explained that the half-orc attacked them while they were talking and now he would share no information and hoped that the Blood Moon and Aerlium kill all of the humans as it had been stupid of him to even try to talk to humans.

The Warden asked if this was how things had happened and Pounder said that it was essentially true. The Warden said that he was done with all of them and that they had to leave the Keep. He also explained that he would come down hard on them for even the smallest infraction from this point forward. As Pounder left, the Warden also “thanked” him for having condemned his nephews and that he would hold the paladin personally responsible for their deaths.

Pounder returned to the others and explained what he had been told and they were escorted to the gate and out of it. As they walked away, Feng yelled after them that if they entered any of the buildings, they would consider that an unlawful entry. Thalimor yelled back for Feng to go tell the Warden to go f%ck himself. Not surprising, except to Thalimor, this led to orders being shouted for them to be arrested.

Thalimor ran off as soldiers came out of the Keep. He didn’t get far, however. Isenthorne shot the bard as he ran. Although it only turned out to be a small flesh wound, it was enough to drop the bard. While the others dropped their weapons and were placed under arrest, a couple of soldiers went and gathered up Thalimor. All were tossed into the stockade again. As they discussed what they might do, Berangar, who was also still locked within, laughed hysterically…something seemed to have snapped in the priest’s mind.

Because of their experience with Berangar looming over Thalimor the prior night, the party set guards this night despite being locked up. Pounder had the last watch and not surprisingly, he focused his attention on the disgraced priest. He was surprised when he heard a curse of surprise from outside the stockade. Looking, he could see that the barred window in the door of their prison was covered in webs. A closer look showed that there were layers and layers of webs that blocked all vision through. Soldiers could be heard outside clearing the webs and soon the door was opened. As they came outside, the party could see that whole stockade had webs covering although not as thickly as the door.

The party was not given a chance to look more closely at the webs as they were escorted through the courtyard to the Keep’s gate. The villagers watched as they passed. Caedden quickly ran up to Pounder and nervously whispered to him that Daegelric was now missing before the priest ran off again. Perhaps he ran off as he was nervous about being seen with Pounder at this moment or perhaps it was the utter lack of compassion in the paladin’s eyes, a compassion that had once given both the priest and Kettilwig such comfort.

Once outside the keep, Feng dropped the great club that he had previously claimed as a prize for his victory over Pounder when the paladin had first “resisted” arrest. He simply said that he wouldn’t sully himself by using a weapon taken from such a dishonorable foe. Pounder ignored this and just kept walking. [It helped that Todd had realized that Pounder actually does more damage with his warhammer when wielded two-handed than he could with the greatclub.] Thalimor, however, thought it wasn’t a good idea to leave a perfectly good weapon behind and that got Osric to pick it up and take it.
The party headed off to the woods in the hopes of following the two goblins that had escaped the day before. They paused to have their morning meal and collect their wits about them [aka a short rest]. As they were resting, they heard a number of individuals coming towards them through the woods from the direction of the village. It sounded like armored troops and they immediately assumed that the soldiers were coming after them.

They turned out to be Teza’s guards and she wasn’t far behind them. She was interested in hearing where they were planning on going now as she might have something they could assist with. Although she didn’t know all of the details, she had heard that they were no longer in the Warden’s good graces. Thalimor suggested that she speak with Saewig about it and the merchant said that was exactly her plan. When they explained that they were going to try to follow the goblins, Teza said that was unfortunate as it appeared that their interests did not align. Magnus asked if she would tell them what she wanted them to do and simply responded that she’d rather not do that and wished them the best before leaving with her guards.

Isenthorne started to track the goblins. Despite the normally rainy clime of the Lonely Coast, the rain had held off since the prior morning. Plus the goblins had been running and had not tried to hide their tracks. [Plus Rachel rolled a natural 20 on her Survival check.] The tracks went through the woods for about a mile or so before cutting across some farmland and heading for the cliffs. They suddenly stopped in a rocky area some fifty or sixty feet from the edge of the cliffs. The party searched about and found a rock that was hiding a short shaft leading down to some crudely carved stairs leading even farther down.

Thalimor cast invisibility on Isenthorne and she headed down the stairs to scout. The stairs led down about a hundred and fifty feet in a small chamber. A single tunnel led away. A short distance down the tunnel, another tunnel bisected it. One arm of this tunnel was completely filled with rubble as though it had been intentionally blocked. The other arm was clear until it was blocked by nets some twenty or thirty feet away. The initially tunnel continued one but it was also blocked by a series of hanging nets feeling nearly all of the passage. Only a short distance at the bottom was not blocked. The nets themselves looked to be held in place along the tunnel walls by spikes of some sort.

Isenthorne started to crawl under the nets and made it about halfway under them (some two to three feet) when she got snagged on something. Bells rang, hidden in the nets above. She could hear movement from the tunnel ahead and so froze in place, still invisible. A couple of goblins peeked under the nets and looked rather puzzled that they could see no one. One suggested that they let the chief know and left. Isenthorne carefully backed her way out under the nets and then hustled up the stairs. Still invisible, she explained to the others what had happened and it was decided that she and Thalimor would go back down with the hopes of dispatching any initial guards and the rest of the party would follow after a couple of minutes.

Isenthorne took the lead with Thalimor hanging back about fifty feet or so. As she got near the bottom, she spotted two goblins standing guard at the base of the stairs. She hustled back and stopped Thalimor before he could be spotted or heard by these guards. Forewarned, he snuck down the stairs until he could peek over their edge and see the goblins. He put them to sleep with his magic. He and Isenthorne then dispatched the sleeping goblins; both were from the Fishhead tribe.

Pressing forward, the pair reached the set of nets from where Isenthorne had previously retreated after setting off the alarm. Thalimor crawled under but he also set off the bells. He could hear goblins in the chamber beyond coming to investigate. When he could see their feet, he cast another spell. Multiple thuds and the sounds of snoring was his reward.

However, he and Isenthorne then heard a goblin voice telling another to get up and then the sound of at least one goblin running away. Hustling under the nets, they found a chamber with two sleeping goblins, another tunnel leading out of it, and a wall of old ship planks from floor to nearly ceiling blocking off part of the chamber. Various chinks in the planks allowed a good view into the room itself as well as likely serving as a means to shoot out arrows or bolts.

The two goblins were dispatched quickly and then Thalimor asked for Isenthorne to give him a boost over the makeshift palisade, holding his foot up for her invisible hands to give him assistance. There were two more sleeping goblins on the other side. He slipped over and slit their throats as well.

At this point, they could hear their companions coming from behind them. Isenthorne peeked down the tunnel leading out and saw that it ended in a t-intersection as short distance ahead. Concerned that the goblin(s) that scampered off would be raising the alarm, they prepared to move ahead quickly.

[As it was nearly quitting time, that’s where we ended the session.

I really don’t know what to say at this point. I have no idea where (or possibly if) this campaign is going to go. And I don’t mean that in a good way. The main premise going into the campaign was that the PCs needed to be the “good guys” and would, in my mind, kind of be the heroes of the Lonely Coast. Instead, they’ve pretty much alienated and turned folks against them. Despite his concerns about doing so, the Warden had put his trust and faith in them and, in particular, Pounder. At the first opportunity after doing so, Pounder showed the Warden that this was a grave mistake by attacking the goblins that were negotiating to help. Not Thalimor but Pounder…the very one who was supposed to be making sure the others “did the right thing” so to speak. Then, to essentially add insult to injury, Thalimor blatantly disrespected the Warden with his cursing as they were kicked out of Wardseld Keep and, by extension, disrespected the Baron himself.

The Warden simply does not trust them, considers them to be dishonorable and disrespectful, and to be responsible for having brought on the attacks by the goblins and for having unleashed the demon that appears to be behind all of this. The villagers in Swallowfeld have already seen that the PCs have been all but declared enemies of the Barony. While there might be some individuals who are going to be willing to do business with the PCs (as Teza had already hinted at), it is very unlikely that the general populace will be willing to do so given their loyalties (willing or unwilling) to the Baron and his representatives. And once word of this spreads outside of Swallowfeld (which you can be certain that it will), the other settlements will be seeing the party in the same light as the folks in Swallowfeld.

If it weren’t for the fact that some of the PCs (and players) aren’t likely going to want to go “rogue” or just become the stereotypical D&D murderhobos, I could see the campaign taking that direction. Since that isn’t likely, I’m not sure if this campaign is going to continue without completely breaking my own sense of verisimilitude of the setting. In fact, the first thoughts that have popped into my mind regarding how the various NPCs would react to all this is just going to put the PCs even deeper into the hole they’ve been digging.

Beer Notes: We started the night with a growler of 5 Rabbits’ Paletas #1 Guava. It was quite well received and I think pretty much everyone liked it (and liked it much better than I did). It is kind of like a watery smoothie to me. Not bad and tasty enough but just not my kind of beer really.

Up next was a can of Surly’s OverRated IPA that Rachel brought back from Iowa with her. Now this is my kind of beer! A nice, well-balanced, West Coast IPA with a bunch of floral/citrus in the taste and aroma. I don’t think the others liked it nearly as much as I did.

This was followed by Epic’s Brainless Raspberries that RJ brought back from a trip out to Utah. It was the lower alcohol Utah version and fell kind of flat for me. It was fine but that’s about it. I’d drink it again but I wouldn’t seek it out with so many other better beers of this style out there.

Last up was Boulevard’s Ginger Lemon Radler that RJ had gotten. Now, I’m pretty much a fan of most everything that I’ve ever had from Boulevard but this one also fell into the kind of meh category for me. The biggest flavor off of it was kind of a fake lemonade with a bit of ginger coming through. So while not a bad beer, it isn’t one that I’d seek out to drink again. I think opinions were a bit mixed on this one amongst the group.]

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