06 Oct

Quail Valley Campaign Session 1…Cut the Mustard

We’re taking a break from 5e for our Saturday night campaign and are going play some Savage Worlds for a bit. In particular, we’re playing a little fantasy campaign using the Vault of Larin Karr (from d20 days). It is something that I’ve always wanted to run and that I’ve used bits and pieces from in prior games. We are pretty much just using the core Savage Worlds rules with the characters starting at Seasoned Rank and with the following setting rules: Blood and Guts (but only for Wild Cards), Heroes Never Die, and Multiple Languages plus a “Bennie Clock” rule where the players get another Benny at specific time intervals because I suck at handing them out otherwise. 😉

Only Rachel and RJ could make this session. Rachel is playing Olivia (a dwarven warrior) and RJ is playing Jak (a religious adept who is a bit touched in the head). The write-up below is from Rachel. There are spoilers for Bad Seeds from Dungeon Magazine #79. As usual, my GM comments are in [brackets and italics].

Will Jak and Olivia cut the mustard as adventurers and heroes?

Jak and I (Olivia) were on the road from Bard’s Gate, headed to Quail Valley along the Quail River. We were traveling as guards with a merchant caravan for Mighty Group Incorporated (a.k.a. MGI). Giles, the head of MGI, was with the group. We stopped at the Hawk’s Shadow Inn, an inn with fortified walls around it, for the night. Jak and I went inside and before the others and were welcomed by Gan Tentoes, the half-folk innkeeper. He apologized for having run out of most of the standard fare but told us he could give us some bread with gravy and ale. We took him up on this offer and found places to sit. Gan told us that a mustard-eating contest was going to start shortly and that the last one standing would win [some money]. It sounded like his mustard is pretty spicy (one of the other contestants, a big barrel-chested guy, had participated in these contests twice before and made it sound like it does not get easier), but I like spicy so I figured I would give it a try. I ended up in second place and won 10 silver pieces! I thought I should try a little more of the mustard on some bread and made it 2/3 of the way through it before passing out briefly.

[Olivia forgot to mention that both she and all of the other contestants were knocked flat and out by the intense spice of the mustard. The winner was the last one standing…a skinny fellow who was a guard for another caravan staying the night.]

That night I had a very strange dream–I was in the woods and a beautiful but sad looking green woman handed me a scroll with a seal of an amber-colored sap. I realized I was in a body and clothing that was not my own, but it did not feel as strange as I would have thought. After the green woman handed me the scroll, I was suddenly somewhere else in the woods, moving through them, and was not sure how much time had past. Suddenly the plants on the forest floor grabbed me and held me in place, not allowing me to move any further. A dwarf in a kilt made of moss with tattoos of vines across his torso and arms appeared in front of me, smiled, and stabbed me in the chest with a spear.

I awoke from this dream in a cold sweat. I could hear it storming outside and I opened the shutters to look out–since it was starting to get light out, I decided to go ahead and head down to breakfast. Upon leaving my room, I noticed that all the other room doors were open on the hallway. It looked like the beds were slept in but no one was in the rooms and I didn’t hear any sounds coming from downstairs. I went around the corner to Jak’s room and knocked on the door since it was still shut. I told Jak about the open rooms and not hearing anyone downstairs. Jak suggested we go ahead and put on our armor, not knowing what was going on and what we might have to deal with and we checked the other hallway of rooms. Many of these doors were open as well. We did find another closed door, it was too a bigger room where Giles and the other caravan guys were sleeping. They appeared to okay and said they would come down in a bit.

Jak and I headed downstairs and were surprised to see the front doors to the inn wide open, letting the rain and wind inside. There were no lanterns or candles lit and no one was in the main room. We checked the rooms on the ground floor and did not find Gan or any of the other guests. We found stairs down to the cellar, which was the kitchen. This room was also dark and uninhabited, though Jak did notice an odd yellowish powder on the cellar floor, forming a ring around the spit. We went back upstairs and outside–the stables were undisturbed and the horses were hungry but otherwise fine. We saw that the front gates to the compound were also wide open, which definitely seemed odd, so we closed them. There were no guards up on the wall.

Jak and I went out the gates and into the woods to see if we could find any sign of Gan and the missing guests. The woods looked just like the ones in my dream and we ended up finding a dead body that had been gnawed on a bit. I recognized the scraps of clothing near the body–I had been wearing this clothing in my dream! Though the body had been disturbed, it looked like there was a spear [wound] in the man’s chest, just as I had dreamed. Jak found a small knapsack near the body and the scroll I dreamt about was in it. I was feeling pretty disturbed by the familiarity of this scene to my dream, so we headed back inside the gates to the compound. We read the scroll–it said something along the lines of “Be alert, I overheard a group of evil spirits who are planning to attack the inn. My friend Wes will give you further instructions on protecting against the malevolent spirits.”

Giles and his men came outside and told us they had found yellow stains on the pillows in the empty rooms and that the folks’ belongings were still in the rooms, including their travel clothing and armor. We suddenly heard drums and a voice calling out from the direction of the woods and looked out–small figures were coming out of the woods, rolling 4 mini-catapults with them. It was about two dozen kobolds. In addition to the catapults, most of them had poison blow darts. One of them called out that no one was supposed to be here, according to the almighty Poison Ghosts.

While Giles stayed inside the walls, his men took positions on the wall and started shooting crossbows at the kobolds. Jak was able to cast some spells and opened and closed the gate so I could slip out and attack the kobolds up close. The catapults flung big baskets of termites, centipedes, and other swarms of bugs at the wall. The termites began making quick inroads into the wooden walls around the inn, while the centipedes and other bugs tried to swarm over us and ultimately tried to work their way through the wall and towards the inn. We took out a number of the kobolds but they took out Giles’ men and injured us in the process. Jak and I retreated into the inn with Giles. We waited for a bit and then there was loud knocking at that front door. We asked who it was but received no response. A minute or two later, we looked out through the upstairs shutters, and were surprised to see no sign of the kobolds or bugs outside the inn or inside the walls. We ended up going outside and a lone kobold came running up to us, calling out that he surrendered. Apparently once we were no longer available for the bugs to munch on, they turned back and went after the kobolds, driving them away.

[Kobolds may be cunning and devious little things but they don’t always think through the implications of some of their tactics and tricks.

The surrendering kobold was named Rurix and he told us the Poison Ghosts are all powerful and are at the Dragon Temple in the woods. Stix is the head Poison Ghost, and it turns out he is the “dwarf” who stabbed me in the chest in my dream. The other Poison Ghosts are named Twigs, Bark, and Branch. Rurix said the Poison Ghosts ordered the kobolds to attack inn and burn it down–they did not like the inn because parts of the forest had been destroyed so the inn could be built. The Poison Ghosts had told the kobolds that the inn would be deserted, so it sounded like they had something to do with Gan and the other guests disappearing. Jak told Rurix about Avandra and Rurix seemed to find it convenient to start worshiping her as well, stating that she told him we should let him go. We told him if he showed us where the green woman lived (he said she was evil), we might let him go. Before we headed out, Jak bargained with Giles to get his three healing potions so we could get as healed up as possible.

[Jak has a bit of a quirk. His goddess, Avandra, talks to him on a pretty regular basis but no one else can hear her voice. Jak has no problem responding to her but he does so out loud so everyone around hears his side of the conversation. Rurix adopted the same “quirk” but his relative lack of intelligence in the area of bluffing was quite apparent. Regardless, he became a somewhat reluctant and annoying–always praising the almighty Poison Ghosts–ally for Jak and Olivia.]

Rurix took us into the woods and took us close to the green woman’s tree but he did not want to go any closer himself. He described what it looked like and Jak and I found it. There were two wolves at the base of the tree, growling menacingly at a small man in the tree. I took them out as swiftly as possible and the gnome climbed down. He said his name is Tyco and he confirmed that this was Essma’s tree. We told him we had heard that the Poison Ghosts had taken Essma, and Tyco said that explained why her tree was starting to wither. [Leaves were turning brown and falling despite it being spring.] He said Essma must still be alive, however, because the tree would be dead if its dryad had died. Tyco was not familiar with the Poison Ghosts but he confirmed that Stix, Twigs, Bark, and Branch were a group called the Enclave of the Twisted Root and were sometimes called the Nightshades.

Tyco was more of a fey gnome than the typical D&D type gnome. He also mentioned that he had seen a strange sight during the night. A fairly large group of humans were traipsing through the woods in the storm in their nightclothes…except for one individual who was completely naked! It turns out that, yes, this group could certainly be heading towards the Nightshades lair. An area of forest that is quite blighted and impossible to miss.]

Tyco told us how to get to where the Nightshades are and that they are nocturnal so it was best for us to approach them during the day.

And that is where we ended for the night. It was a good session, quite a bit of fun, and a nice start to this mini-campaign if a bit quiet at times with only two players at the table. 😉

Beer Log: Here’s what we sampled this session (although I know I’m missing at least one beer we tried), using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.

  • Urban Family Brewing Agronomy: A little funky and earthy but pretty mild. A hit.
  • Ken Schmidt Aloha Brew Chocolate Mint Stout: To be fair, this one got buried in the back of the fridge some time go…possibly two or three years. A fine stout but not a lot of chocolate or mint sadly. A hit.

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