Three sessions in and the party had made it to the town of Presov in Quail Valley after surviving their travels (and travails) in the Forradás. The group had received an “invitation” to meet with the Baroness. They were surprised to find that the Baroness was a young girl, perhaps eight or nine years of age. As she was introduced by, presumably, a servant, we ended the prior session and that is where we pick up after the break below.
This recap is from RJ and we had all six regular players in attendance…RJ again played Raspin on Claudia’s behalf. As usual, my GM comments 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.
We are greeted by the Baroness, who asks us to sit down and we do. She offers us wine and Raspin starts to drink. Willow speaks up and asks the Baroness if she is a halfling or a little girl. She responds that she is girl and Willow seems disappointed. She asks for introductions and we introduce ourselves to her. She introduces herself as Baroness Andrea Varga.
The Baroness asks what brings our group to Quail Valley.
Meanwhile, Wink, Faelin, and Willow are having a whispered discussion about various things includeing watching out for Willow, not talking to Narc Willow, who is low Willow, etc. The whispered conversation gets louder and all conversation stops until the three notice everybody is looking at them and stop their conversation. Willow tells them to go on and not mind them. Serena explains that we are here with Professor Tanar Yetemi who Willow states “is all messed up and he likes mushrooms.” Professor Yetemi hired us for a university expedition to find a Professor Elar Arnek, who went missing about a year ago. Just then an older man walks in and stands a few paces behind the baroness. The baroness looks back at him and the older gentleman agrees that it was about a year ago.
Willow asks Faelin to join her under the table, they go under the table and there is [halfling pipeweed] smoke and some coughing coming from under the table. The one-armed guard who escorted the party here moves around the table where Willow and Faelin are. Serena bends down and whispers to them to outside to smoke. Willow debates for a second or two when the one-armed man offers to escort them out to the grounds. Willow and Faelin go with him. [I believe that two other guards ended up taking them outside.]
Wink goes on to tell the baroness that the university wants us to find the professor, that he came here and then released his students and has been missing since. The Baroness stated that he passed thru and no one was aware where he had left for and she is unsure of which way he went.
The question comes up about the baroness being a gracious host and if she is to greets all new people that come to the valley with a grand feast? [Grand feast is a bit of an overstatement. It was good food and plentiful, along with fine wine, but not really a grand feast.] She responds that it is polite to be a good host and that there are extraordinary circumstances that surround our arrival. She states that it had been brought to here attention that the group had traveled to the Forradás and back.
We tell her about bandits that attacked us, near the Forradás, and how we stopped them. The one-armed guard is worried they will now move on to the Quail Valley. The Baroness is very interested and wants us to tell her the story. So, we continue and let her know about the creatures we fought, the evil lair, and the potential sacrifice and how we stopped it. She looks back to the old man and asks him to look in to it and he nods his head and leaves. She asks how we got out of there and we go on to explain that we had help from Faelin’s goddess, in the form of a white raven, who led us out of the Forradás.
Thorn asks about how she became the baroness so young. The Baroness responded her father died a couple of years ago in battle with some hobgoblins and her mother had died giving birth to her. She has cousins that help her look after her holdings. [One each who oversee the settlements of Borsod and Kettôs on her behalf.]
The Baroness goes on to say that she was visited by an elven emissary recently and asks Thorn or Siobhan [both elves] if they know of him or anything about it. She reported that his name is Rylan and he was looking for a statue, a male and female elf, and that it has special importance to them. The Baroness told the emissary that she doesn’t have it and doesn’t know anything about it. She goes on to say that he was very upset that she didn’t have it and knew nothing of it. Thorn or Siobhan both say they do not anything about it or this Rylan. She says that the emissary stated he was going to find the statue [in no uncertain terms].
The Baroness asks if we like the wine, Raspin says he does as he pours himself another glass. The lady goes on to say that it is one of the valley’s biggest exports. The one-armed guard says that it is very expensive wine and the Baroness encourages Raspin to enjoy it and that there isn’t much point to having wealth if you don’t spend it. Raspin gets himself another glass.
We ask about adventurers coming through and the one-armed guard states that they get their share. When we ask about the Birds of Prey, he starts to growl. The Baroness looks back at him and he quiets down. She shares that she believes the Birds of Prey had last been spotted in the valley two years ago and had claimed that they had found the Vault of Larin Karr.
The conversation shifts to the Professor and how the trip to the Forradás had affected him. The Baroness asks if he is a danger to himself [or to others]. We explain that he is not and that we had taken him to the [Talu] Temple [in town] and met the priestess, who explained the Professor would need more expertise healing in a city like Bard’s Gate. The Baroness asks if we plan on returning to Bard’s Gate with him. We explain that we may later or that we may send him back with a caravan. She offers to bring Professor Yetemi and Maiesse back to her manor [and that she’ll look after him.] We thank her for her kindness and agree.
We share that the missing Professor Arnek was going to explore the ruins of Származás [Keep]. The Baroness explains that it is about a day away and that she can provide directions. She goes on to say that it is one of her holdings. She doubts that the missing professor would still be there and asks why he would have gone there. We tell her we didn’t know but that Professor Yetemi might. We agree to report to her anything we find and to try to not to stir up any trouble. The one-armed guard starts to growl again [at the mention of stirring up trouble] and Siobhan asks if she needs some honey for his sore throat. He just glares at her as the Baroness thanks us. As she rises to leave, the Baroness suggests that we stay and enjoy dinner and that her guards will escort us back to the inn. [The Baroness had to go and study history before her bedtime.]
We finish eating. As Raspin goes to pour himself another glass, the one-armed guard informs him that the wine costs 25gp per bottle. Raspin looks at the bottle in his hand, looks at the glaring one-arm guard, and pours himself one more glass. Raspin also grabs a some food off of the table stating that it is for Faelin and Willow. The one-arm guard leads the party out.
When they get out to the grounds, Willow and Faelin are laying on the ground looking up at the sky. They stand up and when the captain tells them to get up. We reclaim our weapons on our way out the gates and some guards escort us back to the inn.
When we enter the inn, all the conversation stops. Some of the patrons get up and leave [making gestures to ward off evil]. Wink apologizes to the innkeeper for driving away some of his business. Wink also explains that we will be heading out in the morning and asks about provisions. The innkeeper says this isn’t a store. Wink ask if there is a store and where it was. The innkeeper says it is out the door and to the left. [The innkeeper and the patrons didn’t seem to happy to have folks that had traveled to the Forradás and had come back. Apparently, word was spreading around the town.]
We go upstairs to the room in which we had settled Maiesse and the Professor to her know that Baroness Varga has offered to take in the Professor and look after him. Maiesse is grateful for any help [and wants to stay with the Professor]. We let her know that the Baroness should be sending someone in the morning to get him and we head to our rooms for the night.
In the morning, we get some breakfast. The waitress is an older woman and apologizes for last night saying that people here are rather superstitious. She also bluntly states that she doesn’t believe that the group had gone to the Forradás anyway. No one ever comes back from it so the con wasn’t going to work and there was no way they’d get free drinks or anything. [Locals would shun the group instead.] We insist that we hadn’t known anything about the Forradás before going there. Willow proclaims that we really did go and starts to tell her about the trip but Cailana stops her from sharing as it wasn’t appropriate breakfast conversation. Willow got up and went outside for some pipeweed and the waitress went back to the kitchen. [The irrepressibly irresponsible halfling had been told a number of times that others had to ask her to share…whatever it was that she wanted to share.]
Shortly later, the waitress came back out and intently questioned us about the Forradás, asking about mushroom men and the white raven. She explained, to sighs from around the table, that Willow had come into the kitchen and told her all about it. Their halfling friend was now outside talking with another halfling, Betony.
We ask about Betony and the waitress, Brita, says he has been here for a couple of weeks, that he is looking for business opportunities, and that he is enjoying life and the ale. She also shared that he seems to have a lot of money.
Willow comes back in and sits down with a big grin on her face. Wink asks if she made a new friend; she says yes, a halfling named Betony. We tell Willow that we know she snuck into the kitchen and told the waitress the story about their trip. Willow tells the waitress that she wasn’t supposed to tell. Brita says it just slipped out and leaves.
We get up and head out and head to the store. Willow pulls Faelin to the side and whispers to him that all the pipeweed and other things she had shared with him were not free. His tab was now around 375 gold as the stuff is expensive. Instead of outright paying, Willow suggests that maybe he could just buy her some stuff. She cautioned him to not try and back out of his debt as her brothers would come and break his legs. Smiling, she said she was just kidding as she didn’t have any brothers. Instead, her sisters would come and would do worse to you. Cheerily smiling, she asked if he was ready to go shopping! As the pair catch up with the rest of the group, Faelin looks a bit pale.
We head into the general store and an old woman around four feet tall is near the counter. We talk to her about provisions and she says she can get us some torches and some wheels of cheese. Willow is looking around, taps Faelin’s knee, points and whispers, that she wants that. She is pointing at a plow, she says she wants to start a farm. Faelin tells her that it is not the right time to get it and that maybe later. When asked, she says that she doesn’t have weapons and that while there is a blacksmith in town, he isn’t a weaponsmith. She says she can order things but it takes some time for them to arrive. There is, she shares, a fletcher in Borsod, several days away. [A number of characters were looking to buy bows and arrows]. She also mentions that the Vadőr brothers, who maintain the Travel Towers throughout the valley on the Baroness’ behalf, may sell some of their arrows. They come to Presov every so often. We make a list and give it to her.
[No list was ever provided. Instead of taking the time then, I suggested we end a little early and folks could put the list together then. When we did end early, some folks wanted to go and suggested that we just do it online on the forums…but no one ever posted anything. If you all want to order stuff form the store, I kind of need to have a list of what you want ordered.
Siobhan did, however, put in an order for the blacksmith to make a grappling hook for her.]
After leaving the store, we spot the innkeeper. He looks around to make sure no one is looking and then asks Wink if he can have a word with him. Wink nods and the pair go around back to enter through the kitchen backdoor. Once inside, the innkeep nervously asks if we had really gone to the Forradás. When told that we had, he inquires if that means that we can handles ourselves in dangerous situations. Wink says that we can. Introducing himself as Bruno Kõrts, the innkeep explains that he had recently moved some shelves in his cellar and discovered a door…barred from this side. When he listened at it, he could hear something scratching at it. If Wink and the others could go and explore and take care of whatever might be beyond this door, Bruno would give the group free room and board for a year and all the beer recipes.
[He never said he’d give the party the beer recipes. That was part of the discussion about his having bought the inn and brewery rather cheaply, including getting the beer recipes.]
Bruno explains that he had bought the inn from a man named Tamás, who sold it rather cheap. Wink says he wants to get the rest of us and we gather in the kitchen. The innkeeper leaves to give us space to discuss. Wink tells us what he is offering and we discuss the options. We decide to take on the door. We let Bruno know and he is very excited. Shaking Winks’ hand, he is relieved as he was afraid that he might lose his inn because of all this.
Bruno leads us down to the cellar. There are crates, shelves, and some barrels along with a stone door that is barred on this side. Bruno shares that it’ll be free drinks tonight if we return, then correcting himself to say when we return. We arrange for a coded knock, three times quick, a pause, and the two times quick, so he’ll know it is us on the other side of the door. Looking at the door, we can see that it was previously plastered over but had been cleared sometime relatively recently. [A couple of years? Months? Maybe weeks?] Bruno agrees to leave this stone door unbarred while we are exploring but he insists on locking the cellar door. As he closes the cellar door, Bruno sheepishly admits that he had lied. He hadn’t found the door when moving shelves but rather that he had found it a couple of weeks ago when he had come down in the morning. Shelves had been moved and the door was wide open!
Everyone looks at Wink, blaming him for not getting the whole story. Raspin takes charge, walks up to the door, throws off the bar, and pulls the door open, shouting “come on rats.” [The group was pretty convinced that what ever scratching that Bruno had heard was giant rats. He he he…that turned out to be not quite the case.] This took the rest of the party by surprise but they recovered quickly. Lighting torches, we all move through the door. There is rough cave that goes to the left and the right. We look down the left and after about 40 feet, there is a cave in that blocks the way. We head back towards the left. Thorn says she hears some kind of skittering noises and decides that she’d prefer to provide a rearguard and keep the retreat safe, returning to the cellar.
[Willow had come down to the cellar with the group but sat up on the cellar stairs next to the now locked cellar door.]
We head down this tunnel. After a short distance, there is a drop off into a larger chamber. Raspin calls for the elves to come take a look and retreats with the torch so their ability to see in the dark won’t be interfered with. They look and see a wide chamber and the drop of is only ten feet down. We head climb down, and hear some skittering noises. The cavern is pretty wide and we see stone mounds [cairns], with banners stuck in them, and we believe that this an orc burial ground [based on the look of the old banners].
We go around to the left, trying not to disturb the burial grounds, and then a giant cockroach drops down on Serena. It bites her. As we move to help her, two more drop down. We battle the three cockroaches and eventually defeat them. During the battle Raspin did knock one of the cairns over and some bones spill out.
We see a wooden door to the left, Siobhan listens and hears some sort of scratching sound. She tells us what she hears. As she does, there are more skittering sounds coming from the darkness. We decide the door is the best option and Siobhan opens it.
There is a short hallway beyond that turns. Around the corner is a room with a sarcophagus and an animated skeleton! The skeleton shuffles towards Siobhan and she shouts out a warning. The rest of the party starts to come in the room. As they do so, more giant cockroaches come flying in and attack the party at the rear. The party splits and half (Cailana, Serena, and Siobhan) deal with the skeleton and the others (Faelin, Raspin, Thorn, and Wink) deal with the cockroaches.
While fighting the giant cockroaches outside in the larger chamber, a loud skittering noise is heard. A huge cockroach comes straight out of the darkness at Raspin. The monster’s bite is quite damaging but Raspin isn’t out of the fight.
In the smaller chamber, the battle is difficult as most are using swords and daggers that slip right through the bones of the skeleton. All three attack it with Siobhan jumping up the sarcophagus to be able to reach it. After a brief fight, it goes down and they turn to go out of the room to help the others. Siobhan delayed slightly to take a quick look at the skeleton to see if it had anything of value on it (it didn’t).
The huge cockroach keeps biting at Raspin and he collapses from the wounds. Four of us try to flip the damm thing over to get at its softer underbelly, but most of us can’t get a good grip. Everybody keeps hacking away and eventually we put down the “queen” cockroach.
Faelin heals Raspin and he gets up. As he is getting himself together, he feels a bump on the back of his armor. He turns and sees a skeleton behind him. The party attacks and put it down. Getting a better look at the skeleton in the light of our torches, we realize it probably was an orc and it is crimson in color. We also realize it was the same one that had just been defeated earlier. We cut off its head and legs this time.
We go back into the smaller chamber and start searching the sarcophagus. There is nothing in it but it does look like the lid was opened within the last few months. We flip over the sarcophagus but find nothing under it.
Heading back out into the main chamber, the skeleton is whole again and starts to attack! We defeat it again and decide to put it back in the sarcophagus, after flipping it back over. As the skeleton is being placed within, it starts moving again until Serena puts it down again. We close the lid and wait. We start to hear sounds again and decide to get some stones and put them on top of the sarcophagus.
We leave the room and continue on into the cavern. We see a pile of dirt, rotted wood, and bones it looks like a nest. There are normal cockroaches scurrying around. Raspin starts searching thru the nest, cockroaches start to crawl over him and he brushes them off. He finds something solid and pulls out an arrow that is in perfect condition. It looks to be of elven manufacture.
As Raspin searches the nest, the rest of party decides to search the remainder of the cavern. Two more doors are spotted. One has a scratching sound coming from it like the last one and the other doesn’t have any noise.
We decide to open the one with the sound and around the corner is another skeleton. We deal with it easily. Searching the sarcophagus, nothing is found. The skeleton is put inside and the lid closed with more stones placed on top. Small hand prints were noticed in the dust on the lid of the sarcophagus. Someone may have opened it from the outside, someone with small hands. Serena spotted a vial in the corner of the room. It is empty but smells of tar and pitch.
Beyond the third door is a similar chamber but the skeleton is standing in a corner [facing the corner]. Siobhan sneaks up on it and delivers a blow, but it doesn’t go down. The rest come over and attack it and put it down. It goes into the sarcophagus like the prior two skeletons.
[All three skeletons were crimson in color.]
Meanwhile, Raspin has found a Garnet Ring, another elven arrow, and a iron tube [perhaps a scroll case?]. He also found several giant eggs and destroyed them as he went. A pretty thorough search of the nest turned up 335 silver pieces in addition to these other items.
Raspin hands the iron tube to Wink. Wink opens it and sees that there is a paper within. He pulls it out and starts to read. It is a message from the Birds of Prey: “Rajmund, Please wait at the Drake. Matters to attend to in the South. PS: Sorry to use the map, but Myonga has a copy anyway.” On the back of the note is a map, as we look at the map there are no reference points for us to start from but it could be useful since it looks like there is reference to LK is on it.
[The reference is LK: 3 “keys.” Also, there is no indication of who wrote the note just to whom it was written. The group is assuming that it is from one member of the Birds of Prey to another.]
After some discussion and given that we are kind of beat up, we decide to head back up to the inn. We decide that we’ll tell Bruno that it’s going to take longer than we thought. We also decide to get some holy water to see if that will take care of the crimson skeletons.
When we get back to the basement, Willow is waiting for us and tells us that we smell. She is drinking some wine [it was ale] and eating some cheese. We do the knock and the waitress, Brita, lets us in. She locks the door behind us. Unfortunately, Willow is still down there. The door is unlocked and Faelin calls for Willow to come up.
We start to ask Bruno questions about the door. Was Betony in town when the door was opened? The answer is no. Betony arrived later that week. Bruno says there were several caravans passing through town around then. Bruno asks what is beyond the door. We tell him there is both good news and bad news. We tell him about the cockroaches and he starts to worry about losing the inn. He asks for the good news. We explain that we took care of the cockroaches but there are three animated skeletons still down there. We explain that we will be taking care of them but we’ll need to get some holy water first.
Bruno asks us not to mention what we found to anyone for fear of losing his inn and to not tell the priestess the real reason why we are getting holy water. We agree. He seems relieved and asks if we can complete all this late that night, including clearing out the skeletons, orc and crimson. Bruno will have a wagon and he’ll haul them to dump in the river. He states no free drinks tonight but that there will be free drinks for the next two nights. Bruno then arranges for baths for the group.
We go upstairs, clean up, and then eat lunch. It is an excellent meal. Serena goes to the temple and purchases some holy water without any issues.
As we eat, Willow whispers to Faelin that Betony is in the inn but not to tell Narc Willow. At the bar is a well-dressed halfling eating lunch. Wink asks Willow to introduce us to her new friend but she responds that she isn’t a narc. When Faelin asks, she cheerfully agrees to do so.
Willow introduces Faelin to Betony and Faelin invites him to our table for lunch. Betony asks if Faelin is buying and he agrees to do so.
Betony joins the whole group at the table and introduces himself. We introduce ourselves to him as well. He is dressed in a silk shirt and it looks like his feet are well groom. Willow whispers to Faelin that Betony is really cute. The dapper halfling says that he likes to travel a lot having traveled to the valley from Freeport and is looking for business opportunities as he does so. He asks if we know of any opportunities. We tell him that we don’t right now but if we did we would let him now. He goes on to mention that a wizard named Kristo lives in Kettôs, but that the wizard doesn’t enjoy having visitors.
Betony also says he was hoping to meet with the Baroness. He hasn’t gotten an invitation as of yet and hints that maybe we can help him get one. We don’t take the bait. We ask him about the other towns he has visited in the Quail valley, he says that Borsod is a bore but there is an elf who sings and is the one saving grace for Borsod. He says he will be around for about a week and if we think of any business opportunities to let him know. With that he gets up and says to take care and to especially take care of Willow before walking away.
[That’s pretty much where we ended the session. A good bit of information was learned and some initial explorations of the valley’s “underdark” were made.
I don’t think it ruins anything to mention this even though the players aren’t aware of this but Brita is the one responsible for Bruno approaching them. Bruno has been stressing about the door since he discovered it. Brita is aware of all this. So when Willow shared the stories of the group’s adventures in the Forradás, she convinced Bruno to approach the party. If they could survive the things Willow had described, they should be able to handle something like this.
A note to the Birds of Prey, specifically mentioning two of them by name. Plus a map! While there are no references on the map known to the group, that could change at some point in the future.
Free room and board to be awarded at the Lonesome Drake. Hmm…I wonder if that is intended to give a “base of operations” for the group. 😉
Numerous players got the willies from the whole cockroach thing. That was fun, of course. Although I have to admit that lots of cockroaches–and giant cockroaches–just make a lot of sense to me to be in these underground environments. I wouldn’t be surprised if the group encounters more of them in the very near future. Hint: They did in the next session.
Beer Log: Beers shared this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Cascade Blueberry: Another beer that kind of got lost in the crowd of beer that fills our place. This had been sitting on a shelf for almost two years now. Some of the blueberry had faded and it had something of a vinegar tone to it but it still wasn’t bad. Not as good as prior bottles of Cascade’s Blueberry. A hit but not with much to spare. 😉
- The Bruery/Funky Buddha ¡Guava Libre!: Thanks to Forest! The Bruery pretty much is always good; Funky Buddha can be hit or miss for me. This was good but not quite up to many Bruery beers but it also didn’t have that weird aftertaste that a lot of Funky Buddha beers have. A hit.
- Westbrook Mexican Cake: Thanks to RJ who had brought this over months ago and it got buried behind other beers. Still tasty and had the nice cocoa and chile flaver. Hit!