13 Oct

Q. V. C. Session 3…Where’s the Beanstalk?

In our second session of the Quail Valley Campaign (using the Vault of Larin Karr from Necromancer Games), the good guys (now four strong) had prevailed! The group had defeated the Nightshades (aka Poison Ghosts aka Enclave of the Twisted Root) and rescued everyone, including Essma the dryad, and had made it back to the Hawk’s Shadow Inn and started cleaning up from the prior battle there. We pick up with later that evening after the break.

Muse joined us this session for the first time for this campaign. She is playing a Half-Folk Thief named Fingers. This recap is from RJ and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are spoilers for Bad Seeds from Dungeon Magazine #79 and possibly some for The Vault of Larin Karr.

After Giles looks over Ash and Otto, he says to Otto “you I can see hiring, but your friend here I don’t”. We try to explain what Ash can do but Giles is having none of it and heads to his room. As we are having dinner a half folk gentleman walks in. Olivia waves to him and calls out “Fingers! Over here!” The Half folk walks to the table and gives Olivia a hug. Olivia introduces Fingers to us and tells us that he is an old friend of hers. Fingers sits down and offers us some cheese. We politely decline and Fingers just shrugs and starts talking to Olivia.

A couple of minutes later, the door opens again, and a beautiful lady walks in. The whole inn stops and stares at her. She is very beautiful and is green. Her name is Essma and she is a Dryad. She looks around the inn and spots us and walks to our table. She says that “I am in debt to you.” As she looks at Olivia and myself (Jak). I explain that we weren’t the only ones to help her, I mention Avandra helping, and point to the other companions at my table (Otto and Ash). She looks at them in turn and returns her gaze to Olivia and myself, she holds up her hand and leans in to give Oliva and myself something. When I take it, it looks like a ball of sap. Essma tells us “It will give you life back. My debt is paid.” She goes around the table and kisses Otto and Ash on the fore head and heads out the door. The rest of the people in the inn our staring at us. We decide to head to our room and get some sleep.

[That’s actually not how things went. As Muse was joining us for the first time, Fingers needed to be introduced and so he had just arrived at the Hawk’s Shadow Inn at the end of the day. As Fingers opened the door to the inn, everyone within stopped talking and stared at him. The jaws on some dropped. It took a moment but Fingers realized that someone was standing behind him. It was the dryad Essma and that’s who everyone was staring at. Essma did speak with Olivia and Jak and as they saved her from the brink of death, she had to give a gift of the same value in return. Handing them the balls of sap, she stated these would help bring them back from the brink of death.

Jak certainly did point out that both Ash and Otto had assisted in the overall rescue of Essma and the folks from the inn. It, of course, also came across as looking to get more of a reward…like one ball of sap for each of them. Silly mortals…that’s not how the fey work. They offer a gift of commensurate value. They brought her back from the brink of life…one life. She gave them two and they willingly accepted. I suppose I’ve said too much already. 😉 ]

The next day we eat some breakfast and since Giles wasn’t leaving yet, offer to help Gan on repairing the palisade and the inn. When it gets dark, we go back into the inn and get some dinner and get some sleep.

When we get up we get breakfast and head back to work on the palisade. About mid-morning, we hear a horn blow and one of the guards starts yelling “giants!” I climb up one of the broken walls, as I get to the top there is a loud crash against the wall. I turn and look and see a boulder just smashed against the palisade. I look out and there are four giants [two giants and two ogres] and three wolves moving towards the inn. I yell to close the gate but it was too late and the wolves reach the gate first. They were met by Otto and Olivia and some of the guards who stopped them. But the giants have gotten closer and have knocked down some of the walls of the palisade as well as some of the caravan guards. Otto and two of the caravan guards rush out to draw some of the monsters away and Olivia follows. One of the giants that was throwing boulders gets to the gate around the same time Ash does. Ash lets loose with three magical bolts that shoot out of his hands, and they take the monster down. Another one moves towards Ash and swings his club at him. Ash gets hit but is not out, amazing. Just then a guard jumps off the wall onto giant and distracts him from the killing blow to Ash. Ash moves out of the way and then Fingers, on top of the wall, throws his dagger at the giant and hits him in the eye. The monster screams and the guard hoping to finish the job reaches for the dagger but falls off the giant and is slammed into the ground. The giant steps on him a couple of times until there is nothing left but a gory mess. Ash, shocked into action again, fires three [magical] bolts at the beast and it falls back on the ground. Otto, Olivia, and Ash take out the remaining monsters.

[During the battle, the giants kept muttering about thieves.]

After the battle, we give one of the ball saps to Ash and several of his wounds go away. Ash and I healed who we could and we start clearing bodies and continue working on the palisade. Giles comes running out of the Inn and straight to Ash, “You’re hired! I’ll pay double for you to be one of my guards.”

As we are eating dinner in the common room, Fingers decides to try Gan’s mustard. After one bite he falls over and is out for several minutes. He stated that the mustard was very good and would go great with some cheese he has. We also start to hear several rumors from the merchants and guardsmen about the road ahead [actually this was all heard over the course of a few days at the inn]:

  • The summer storm season has begun and the storm elementals are getting quite active. The most dangerous storms, those accompanied by such elementals, happen at night. Travelers caught out, unsheltered, often do not survive these violent storms. Travelers stay at inns in villages or, if travel takes more than a day between settlements, at one of the storm towers that were built a century or so ago.
  • “Lannet? He’s a Half-Folk and a thief…as if there was a difference. I couldn’t prove that he stole that cask of ale but I know he did it.”
  • “I heard merchants talking. They said someone had destroyed one of the Storm Towers on the road between Pembrose and Bostwick. The Duke’s men will have to do something about that or the merchants won’t be able to get here from Bard’s Gate.”
  • “The Forradás is not a place you want to go. It is a deep rift in the Gaskar hills and a poisonous forest, where nothing grows but gnarled and half-rotted trees and mounds of fetid mushrooms, lies at its bottom.”
  • Wolves from the Gaskar Hills are attacking livestock of late, taking off with several sheep.
  • The fairy folk are more frequently seen of late. They’ve even been sighted in town on occasion, breaking into homes and stalking people.
  • “The road from Bard’s Gate is getting downright dangerous. I’ve heard tales of orc attacks. And someone has burnt down a storm tower between Pembrose and Bostwick. Now you have to be mad to travel between the two during storm season.”
  • “Adventurers! Hah! You’ll probably end up like that lot that went into the South Hawks a while back looking for treasure. Haven’t heard from them since. Good riddance, I say. The wizard that was with them was an arrogant fool!”
  • “We were attacked by a group of gnolls on the road between Pembrose and Bostwick. Seems they’ve taken up residence in that ruined storm tower. We left with our lives but not our purses. And they took three of our horses!”
  • The Quail Valley is home to hordes of unclaimed treasures.
  • A mighty dragon has recently been seen circling above the Forest of Nin
  • A powerful Wizard lives in the Valley, but refuses to talk to strangers.
  • An unspeakably horrible undead creature haunts the graveyard near Bostwick.
  • A red dragon lives in the Gaskar Hills.
  • There is an old village in the forest outside Twain.
  • There is a great treasure hidden deep beneath the valley.
  • The ghost of a drow wizard haunts the valley.
  • A great adventuring party lost their lives exploring beneath the valley.
  • Orcs, goblins and other goblinoids have begun returning to the valley recently.
  • You can travel from Pembrose to Bostwick without every seeing the light of day. The valley has a honeycomb of underground tunnels.
  • There is a mighty sword hidden somewhere in the Gaskar Hills.
  • There is a family of hill giants living in the Gaskar Hills.

[Various plot hooks set.]

The next day, we head out with the merchant Giles and his wagon to Pembrose. Ash is sitting next to the merchant as Giles insisted. The rest of us follow alongside the wagon. Eventually we see a tower from the road and we head towards it. We eventually reach what we assume is a storm tower. It has two levels, the first level is largely a stable. Stairs lead to the second floor which has a fireplace and some blankets and bedding as well as a ladder leading to a trap door to the top of the tower where someone can keep watch. We unhitch the horses, bring them and the supplies into the tower. Start a fire and set watch. I and Oliva go out and gather some more wood to replace the wood we are using. No problems that night and we wake up, pack the gear, hitch the horses and leave the tower as we found it.

[As heard as part of much of the merchant talk over the past few days, it can be dangerous to stay out in the open during the storm season and storm towers are located at intervals for travelers to stay. As Giles explained, it is customary for merchants and other travelers to leave supplies in the towers to keep them stocked, especially if they use any supplies. The towers are fairly defensible…made of stone, stout wooden door, no windows on the first floor, and narrow windows–arrow slits–on the second floor. These are based on the travel towers from the Hellfrost campaign setting.]

About a day later we see another tower but this time there is smoke coming from the chimney. We decided to keep our pace, but send Fingers ahead and see who is in the tower. When he gets there she walks up to the tower and opens the door, there is no one there. He calls out “hello? Do you like cheese?” He hears a response from the second floor “Yes, come on up.” Fingers responds excitedly, “I will be right back.” He heads out of the tower, and finds us on the road. He tells us that there is someone there and they like cheese.

We reach the tower and have Giles and Ash stay with the wagon. Fingers walks ahead of us and opens the door. Three Orcs are inside waiting and they each swing at Fingers, incapacitating him. Arrows then come out of the second floor windows and hit Jak and Otto. We rush towards the tower, get in, and start to fight the orcs. There are actually four of them, the fourth steps out of the shadows and swings at Otto but misses. One of the other orcs knocks me (Jak) out. Ash seeing the arrows and hearing the battle rushes towards the tower, gets hit by an arrow and is hurt but reaches the tower. He blasts away at the Orcs on the ground as well as the orcs with bows coming down the stairs from the second floor. Eventually, Olivia, Otto, and Ash defeat the orcs but not without taking some damage themselves.

[That’s where the session ended. The party defeated the orcs but still needed to police the battle.

Much of the session was taken up with the big fight with the giants and a smaller fight with the orcs. The party had heard that giants lived in the hills surrounding the valley as well as orcs (and other humanoids) being more active in the area. This, however, did not explain why giants attacked the inn. The players had a brief period of difficulty in determining why the giants attacked and called them thieves given that they could up with nothing they had taken from the Nightshades (see the prior session) would have belonged to the giants. Then they realized that it was probably in reference to all the people they had saved! The giants had come to claim the patrons et al from the inn! And yes, that’s exactly what it was about.

The orcs on the other hand, well, I’m not mentioning their motivation for setting an ambush in a travel tower. 😉

Beer Log: Here’s what we sampled this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.

  • To Ol Likeweisse Director’s Cut: To Ol has been a recent favorite around here, particularly some of their dry-hopped sours. This largely followed in being well liked. A hit.
  • Crooked Stave St. Bretta Autumn Batch #4: This get lost in the back of the fridge and has held up very well. Nice funk with a hint of citrus. A definite hit.
  • Orpheus Transmigration of Souls: Thanks to RJ! Probably an older can as it was definitely maltier than it has been in the past. Not quite as good (in my opinion) as prior cans that RJ has shared but still a hit.
  • Funky Buddha Last Snow: In a bottle this week (growler last week) and back to its full tastiness with the cocoa, vanilla, and coconut…a liquid almond joy without the almonds! A crit!

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