We began our new campaign with this session, following the total party kill in our Hilltop campaign in our prior session. We are continuing to play our house-ruled version of Basic Fantasy RPG. The Quail Valley is the setting for The Vault of Larin Karr, an excellent little sandbox originally from Necromancer Games and now Frog God Games. This is the setting that we’ll be using for this campaign which will, of course, be changed and combined with who knows what as we go. I’ve started this campaign a number of different times, but for one or another, we’ve never actually gotten very far into it before moving on to something else. Oh, I’ve also renamed most of the locations and NPCs…as I often do (e.g., Presov is Pembrose). Those familiar with the product won’t recognize most of the names but will likely catch on pretty quick.
We were joined by Claudia this session. She’ll be an intermittent player as she is only in town part-time. The player characters include:
- Cailana, an elf ranger played by Muse
- Winkelthorpe (Wink), a human mage played by Forest
- Raspin, a human fighter played by Claudia
- Faelan, a human druid played by RJ
- Serena, a half-elf cleric played by Rachel
This recap is from Rachel and we had a full table with everyone in attendance. As usual, my GM comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. Obviously, there are potential spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr as well as “On a Lonely Road” from The Lost Lands: Adventures in the Borderland Provinces (from Frog God Games) below the break.
Five of us showed up at the Sated Satyr tavern in Bard’s Gate in response to an ad about hiring folks to travel to the Quail Valley. Professor Yetemi introduced himself as a sage and told us there were two different objectives (and payers) for the expedition. The university wanted the professor to lead a group to Quail Valley in search of Elar Arnek, another professor who went to Quail Valley about a year ago to explore the ruins of Származás Keep but has not returned. Arnek was due back three months ago, so the university wants to find out what happened to Arnek and the funds they had provided for his expedition. The students who had been traveling with Arnek returned and said that they had been dismissed by Arnek at Presov, some of them were pretty unhappy about being sent back before completing the expedition. The expedition for this first objective is being funded by the university.
The second objective is personal to Professor Yetemi—he would like us to explore the Forradas, a heavily forested area with ancient ruins. The professor is funding this part of the expedition. He offered us 1 gold piece per day each (though he told the strong and very capable-looking warrior, Raspin, he would get 2 gold pieces per day), and that the five of us would split 10% of the university’s expedition funds. [I think it was more that the 10% which Yetemi got to keep of the spoils recovered would be split.] Travel expenses would be covered. Yetemi’s secondary investigator, a half-elf named Gonela, facilitated our signing the contract/agreement to participate in the expedition. After some discussion, Yetemi seemed agreeable to splitting any treasure found during the Forradas expedition evenly with us, though he implored us to allow him to keep particular artifacts/treasures that would support his theories that have not yet been accepted or respected by his colleagues.
Yetemi offered to put us up for the night at his lodgings since we were not leaving until the next morning. The five of us followed him to his place: Cailana, Wink, Raspin, Faelan, and myself, Serena. The next morning we were joined by four of Yetemi’s students who are coming on the expedition: Maiesse, an athletic woman who gave the professor a very big smile; Sarotta, another young woman with a bright smile for the professor until she saw Gonela and her smile dimmed; Rikard, a sullen guy in a dark cloak; and Demeter, a bearded, somewhat overweight guy.
We had five days of uneventful travel from Bard’s Gate and arrived safely at the Hawk’s Shadow Inn. It looked like a caravan was already there and inside we found the other guests to be mostly humans, though there was also an elf and a Halfling named Willow. Willow took quite a liking to Faelan, sharing her mushrooms with him (and unfortunately a bad trip involving crows pecking at him) and hanging onto his leg for most of the evening. Bernat, the innkeeper, told us that the Birds of Prey [an adventuring group that a couple of the PCs had connections to] came through here last about a year ago and claimed to know how to find the Vault of Larin Karr [I think it was years ago]. Apparently no one has seen them since then. Bernat said Arnek came through with several students about a year ago and that Arnek had not been very nice. The students had come back soon after and were pissed that Arnek had dismissed them.
That night, both Raspin and I had bad dreams, which we shared with the group the next morning. Raspin dreamed that he was in a thick wooded area with the group and had a strong feeling of being watched. When he looked up, he suddenly saw the group below from the vantage point of someone in the trees and felt an intense hatred for the group. I dreamed of short shadowy figures with knives made of white bone and wooden stick figure necklaces. A figure was about to stab me in the chest with a bone knife when I awoke with a start. As I described my dream, Cailana noticed that Marta (Bernat’s daughter) reacted to the description and followed her to the kitchen to ask her about what disturbed her. Marta did not want to talk about it but said the Forradas is evil and that we should not go there.
After breakfast we set out for the Forradas, asking Professor Yetemi to tell us about the Forradas. He says that prototype humans with pale skin (called the “Ancient Ones”) lived in the Forradas and that they used bone knives and had wooden stick figure necklaces. Yetemi does not appear to think they were evil or that we are in any danger heading to the Forradas.
Cailana led us through dense woods toward the Forradas and Raspin confirmed that these woods look like the ones in his dream. As we approached a clearing with some downed trees, a tree suddenly crashed across the path, landing squarely on Sarotta and killing her. We heard a voice call out “Now!” and four bandits jumped out from the trees—two with longswords and two archers who stayed a bit further back. We took out the two with longswords and one of the archers, but the second archer escaped into the thick woods. We inspected the bodies of the three bandits—they appeared to be underfed and not in great shape and did not have much on them except for clothing, leather armor, and their weapons. We took the swords and shortbow from the bodies. Maiesse had come up and wanted to help fight the bandits, so we gave her one of the swords and showed her the basics for using it.
We buried Sarotta in the clearing and were disturbed to see Rikard trailing a finger in her blood. He sidled up to Wink at a later point and said that she had gotten what she deserved. We may need to keep an eye on him to make sure he is not a threat to the rest of the expedition group.
We kept traveling and set up camp along the path as evening fell. The first three watches were uneventful but during the 4th watch, all sounds of wildlife suddenly ceased.
[And that’s where we ended for the night. It was a lot of fun to have someone, Claudia, joining us who had never played before.
Each player was given two rumors or hooks for their character that were related to the Quail Valley in some fashion. I also set a goal for this campaign–not something I usually do. I’d like to run this campaign to its “conclusion” which means until the PCs discover and recover the legendary treasure of Larin Karr.]