In our first session of our new Basic Fantasy RPG campaign, the PCs were hired by Professor Yetemi, a sage at the local university, to accompany him and his group on an expedition to the Quail Valley. The expedition had two goals: to discover what had happened to another professor, Elár Arnek, who had not returned from a prior expedition; 2) to explore an area called the Forradás that is just south of Quail Valley. The first is being funded by the university while the other is funded by Professor Yetemi to help prove some of his theories about a pre-human civilization. The expedition’s members were the Professor, his assistant Gonela, and four graduate students: Demeter, Maiessa, Rikard, Sarotta. The group reached an inn just south of Quail Valley, gained a new companion (Willow), had some bad dreams, learned that the Forradás is not a place to travel, headed there anyways, fought some bandits, lost a student (Sarotta) to the bandit ambush, and then all natural noises fell silent while camping one night. That is where we pick up after the break.
We were joined by two new players: Hannah and Teresa. Hanna is playing a half-elf thief named Siobhan and Teresa is playing an elven thief named Thorn. It was Teresa’s first time ever playing a tabletop RPG!
This recap is from Muse and we had all regular six players in attendance…Claudia, a part-time player when visiting Tallahassee, was missing and RJ played Raspin. 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.
As the sounds of the animals fall silent, Cailana finds Serena and Willow goes and wakes Faelin and Winklethorpe. [Cailana and Willow were on watch at the time.]
Leaving Willow and the men to wake the others and keep an eye on the camp, Serena and Cailana scout out 50 feet in each direction looking for any sign of incoming attack, or signs someone or something was nearby. Unbeknownst to anyone, Thorn also slips away to look for the cause of the sudden silence.
Nothing is found by either of the search parties and the decision is made to pack up and head out since everyone is now awake.
As the party sets out, rain sets in, and stays for several hours, leaving the party wet and miserable. As the rains finally draw to an end, fog takes it’s place. Raspin notices a shadowy figure in the fog, moving away from us, it appears to be animal in shape.
The professor is not very helpful in ensuring we are on the right path, indicating only that we are looking for a creek. He can offer no map or other assistance except to mention after traveling a ways, that we should be heading in a more southerly direction [after consulting some notes of his]. Cailana gets the party turned in the (hopefully) right direction, and a short distance later, we do find a creek.
Excited, the professor asks everyone to look around. Siobhan finds a small obelisk that is covered in moss. As the students begin to clean it, the party stands watch. The professor finds a carving in the side of the obelisk, and takes a rubbing of it. Winklethorpe, observing the carving, begins to feel a sense of dread. The carving appears to be figures standing around an altar, with something upon it. [Some of the figures were taller while others were shorter. Yetemi hypothesized that the smaller figures were children of the taller ones.]
After a discussion, the professor indicates that they should camp here for the night and in the morning, look for other things of interest. The evening passes uneventfully and the party once again sets out, with Cailana stating that they will not take the obelisk with them. [Professor Yetemi was quite keen on doing so…collecting such artifacts of the prior civilization was exactly why the expedition is here!] She fibs and tells the professor it would be much smarter to retrieve it on their journey back, though she has no intention of keeping that promise. [The Professor agreed as it was rather sound logic after all.]
As they travel, Demeter notices some blood in the brush and Thorn finds a dagger with dried blood upon it. Cailana searches the area for any sort of tracks or signs, but there are none. She takes the dagger and tucks it in her pack and the party heads out once again.
As the party heads forward again, Winklethorpe realizes that Rikard is missing.
Turning back, they search for him and find him slumped against a tree. Rikard claims to have no idea how he got there, and in fact seems very disorientated. The party searches the area for clues but find nothing suspicious and Winklethorpe vows to keep a closer eye on the sullen youth. [Rikard’s attitude and prior fascination with Sarotta’s death and blood had done nothing to endear him to the group.]
The party spends another uneventful night of rest before pressing on. As midday approaches, the party all begin to notice crude wooden fetishes hanging from the trees all around them.
Serena scouts ahead 100ft to see if she can find how far they extend, but they are still all around. As she searches, Winklethorpe notices something small and pale amongst the leafy underbrush. Investigating the object, he finds it to be a small bone knife. He wraps it in a cloth and then quietly shows it to Serena to see if it is what she saw in her dreams. Serena states it is similar, but much cruder. Cailana studies the knife and guesses that as near as she can tell, the bone is human. She asks Winklethorpe to show her where he found it and after investigating the area, she finds a small patch of earth that has been disturbed and some blood spatter on the nearby tree.
Winklethorpe asks Maiesse to dig around the disturbed area, but they find nothing.
The party presses on with each of the adventurers starting to feel uncomfortable with everything they are finding, but the professor has no such concerns, and is eager to keep pressing forward.
Another uneventful evening passes, but as the party is breaking camp, Rikard confronts Winklethorpe, accusing him of stealing something [from his pack] and demanding that he return it. Winklethorpe is stunned and tries to find out what is missing and what is going on, but Rikard just keeps demanding the return of his missing unnamed item. [Rikard did later share…as things got a bit creepier…that he had soaked up some of Sarotta’s blood with a rag and that was what had gone missing.]
The party begins it’s new day of travel, pressing further into the woods when suddenly Demeter turns and runs back along the route we had just traveled. The party chases and when they catch the student, he says he saw blood…blood everywhere! [The group had taken to spreading out a bit in their hunt for artifacts or other things of interest.]
Cailana, Serena, Winklethorpe, and Siobhan approach the area where Demeter was seen before he took off running. We find a small clearing with a much larger obelisk, and the whole area looks like an abattoir. Gore is everywhere. Bodies and parts of bodies are strewn all around the obelisk. There are pools of blood, and more disturbed areas of dirt. Cailana looks for any tracks as she makes her way to the obelisk. Serena investigates the disturbed patches of earth looking for clues, while Siobhan checks the bodies for loot [sadly finding none]. Winklethorpe goes to gather the professor and the students.
Cailana studies the carving on the obelisk. It is much clearer than the one on the smaller marker discovered earlier. The carving clearly shows a scene of figures, some tall, some short, standing around an altar. The taller figures appear to be humanoid, and the smaller appear to be some sort of hunched creature with elongated snouts. The altar appears to bear the figure of an elf, and looming above it all, a figure of a creature with the wings of a bat.
Winklethorpe and the others arrive and the professor looks absolutely horrified. Rikard however looks completely enraptured at the gore. [The Professor also had a brief look of recognition as he looked at the monolith and then the horror took hold.]
Having seen enough and fearing for their safety, Cailana insists to the professor that they leave….NOW…the professor, bless his heart, actually agrees with the elf. She makes it clear to him that they will NOT be stopping to gather any fetishes, and they most certainly will not be stopping to get the smaller obelisk. The professor looks like he wants to argue, but she coldly asks him if he wants to be the next body in the gory pile of horrors behind them. He says of course not, and Cailana immediately gets the party headed back in the direction they just came, with Winklethorpe having to all but strong arm Rickard into joining us. Cailana knows they have just a few hours of travel before nightfall and if they make haste, they should get a few miles away before needing to camp.
That night, as the camp sleeps and Faelin and Winklethorpe are on watch, Maiessa approaches Winklethorpe. She shares that she believes the professor is hiding things from us. She snuck a look at his notes and saw mentions of the “exiled ones” and of demons or devils, rituals, and that they [the exiled ones] commingled with the humans in the area.
Winklethorpe tells her to tell no one, and the rest of the evening once again passes uneventfully.
That morning however, they find that Demeter has gone missing. While searching his tent, Siobhan lifts his bedroll and discovers that the earth has been disturbed [similar to the disturbances found at previous points] and is bloody. Cailana can find no tracks or signs of a struggle.
The party quickly breaks camp and sets out, sad for the loss of another member but not willing to risk lingering to look for someone who is most likely dead.
Not fifteen minutes into our travels, we come upon a row of thirteen fetishes hanging across our path, some stained with blood.
It is about this time that Cailana realizes that something else is very wrong. Where she had expected them to be at the location of the smaller obelisk, the terrain is completely different and foreign to her. And even though she kept true to their path, they are no longer on the path they had traveled these past few days.
With nothing familiar to guide her, she makes the decision to head in the direction she feels that were they on the same path, they would have taken.
Another hour of travel passes, and this time the party finds thirteen skulls [hanging from trees] blocking our path. Some appear to be decades or even centuries old. The party refuses to cross the path of the skulls and chooses to try and circumvent them and still stick with the general direction from whence they had came.
[I hadn’t really given much thought to either the number of fetishes or skulls and so randomly rolled how many. Both times the result was the unlucky thirteen…I wonder if my dice know something about what is going to happen that I don’t. 😀 ]
After a long day of travel, we must once again camp. Cailana advises that due to the circumstances of Demeter’s demise, it would be best if no one slept on the ground and to convert their tents into hammocks. The party agrees and settle themselves into the trees, while Winklethorpe suggests a large bonfire for further safety.
While on the last watch, both Cailana and Thorn feel a vibration under their feet, and Thorn notices a small creature, 2-3 feet in height, with an elongated snout, and a somewhat mushroom shaped head, burst up from the ground between our two pack mules. The creature immediately begins to try and sever the rope holding the mule in place. Several more creatures pop up from underground around the campsite.
Cailana yells, “We are being attacked!” and fires a shot at one of the creatures as even more appear.
Thorn yells for the camp to wake up as he too attacks one of the creatures, and soon all the adventurers, are fighting the creatures, with even Maiessa trying to help. The party manages to kill all but 3 of the creatures, who disappear back underground.
[Wink tried to enchant one with a charm person spell which failed. The reason for this became clear as the creatures were fought. They did not bleed from attacks and cutting them was literally like slicing through a giant mushroom. The creatures were clearly nothing like humans or even flesh and blood.]
Alas, Rikard was killed by one of the creatures as he lay in his hammock refusing to wake up and help fight and no one seems particularly grieved to see the sulky and creepy student gone. In fact, as Siobhan searches through his belongings, it appears the lack of grieving is justified as the student had apparently become quite obsessed with blood and gore during his time with the party, even more than any of the party realized. [He had something of a journal that first seemed focused on the expedition but then transitioned to more grisly entries after Sarotta’s death.]
As the party begins to check on each other and secure the camp, it is discovered that both Professor Yetemi and Gonela are missing! They must have been taken sometime during the fight. There is a large depression of disturbed earth beneath their hammocks which had been close together [and to one side of the camp…a side opposite from where the creatures had attacked]. The hammocks are all that remain; their belongings, including all of the professor’s notes, are gone!
[And that is where we ended the session.
Things got kind of confusing during the session with where the party was, what day different things were happening, how many times they saw bunches of fethishes, and the like. This was actually kind of appropriate. The confusion was the players feeling what the characters must have felt in their travels through the woods and especially the crashing realization that they were not where they should have been.
Three students dead, professor and assistant missing and presumed taken, one graduate student left, and the group utterly lost…and clearly not in a natural sort of way of having just lost their way. Maybe Marta (at the Hawk Shadow’s Inn) was right…the Forradás is a deadly and dangerous place and no one returns from it.
Beer Log: Back to posting the beers shared during the session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Tree House Julius: Thanks to Forest. What isn’t there to like about a delicious citrusy IPA? Solid, solid hit close to max damage!
- Toppling Goliath Xhops Teal: Thanks to RJ. Another yummy IPA! Nice fruity and piney flavor…another solid hit!
- Mershon’s Artisan Cider: Also thanks to RJ. Okay…a nice apple flavor that rates a hit but only for average damage. Then again, I’m not really a big fan of ciders.