26 Dec

Quail Valley Session 15 (SW)

In our prior session, the PCs continued their explorations of the Underdark…albeit just a small part of it. They ambushed a large party of gnolls, quite successfully, and then encountered some strange cave octopus fisher wall thing that led to the partial collapse of a cavern wall and the near death of Cailana. A short period after that, a couple of trolls attacked from the nearby lake which turned into a series of running battles before the pair were defeated…one burned and another with its head separated from its body. They also “looted” a small cave of some coin.

All of these essentially started as “random encounters” that have quickly evolved into something more to better establish the “Gygaxian Naturalism” of this particular corner of the Underdark.

The group then escaped back to Presov to recover from their wounds only to find the village under attack by another shadow creature of some sort. That is where we pick up below the break.

As usual, my GM comments are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr as well as the Crucible of Freya below the break.

We knock on the locked inn door, hoping to get back to our beds since we are bruised, exhausted and one of us [Wink] has lost an eye. Bruno eventually opens the door, stating that there have been more attacks by a shadowy creature. Just then, another scream rings out, but we cannot determine the direction. We ask Bruno about this new shadow: When did it start? Has anyone been hurt? Can we talk to some of the people that have gotten away? He informs us that it started about an hour after dark, several people have seen this apparition, no one has been hurt, and several who were attacked are in the inn now. We decide to go and look for the source of the scream.

The Captain and five guards holding torches are fanning out in the village square (I assume to search for the scream). The captain spots us and starts making a straight line towards us; Faelan, Raspin, and Wink all say, in unison, “Crap.”

Serena asks where we can be of the most help and the Captain suggests Bard’s Gate. [Bard’s Gate is the large city more than a week’s travel away. Who knew Captain Bernhard had a sense of humor?]

Serena presses the issue and firmly indicates that the group is here to help per their vow to the Baroness. The Captain expresses his already well-established disdain for adventurers and the value of their word. If they were so keen to help, he mused, where had they been…there had already been multiple attacks this night. Serena starts listing off all that they had accomplished that day before noting that they were wasting time with all of this us instead of heading out to stop the attacks. The Captain agreed that it was a waste of time to talk with adventurers before walking away and splitting the guards into three pairs, sending them into different directions.

Pulling out and lighting torches, we head off in a direction, northeast, that the guards had not gone. Wink, given the severity of his wounds, returns to the inn.

Shortly into our patrol, we spot a rather large person approaching, carrying someone. This turns out to be Barta, the village carpenter, who is wearing a night tunic with close cropped hair and is very muscular. Barta explains that she had heard the scream from her neighbor’s house and broke down the door to find Martin, the village furrier, passed out on the floor.

After examining Martin and finding that he has no markings on his head like the priestess had when she was killed, Serena makes introductions. Barta notes that she’s heard of the group and that some think they are heroes and others think the group is trouble. Serena answers, honestly, that they are likely a little of both. Raspin disagrees, claiming that they are heroes…perhaps in the hopes of impressing the woman with whom is was immediately smitten. The carpenter is not impressed by the boast, commenting that Raspin probably isn’t the brightest of the group and likely thinks with his “sword.” The “flirting” (as Raspin sees it) solidifies his smitten status.

Serena attempts to heal the unconscious Martin, but he doesn’t wake. Barta notes that he probably just fainted as Martin isn’t the “stoutest” of heart. Raspin responds, cleverly he hopes, that he likes stouts and asks if Barta likes stouts. Perhaps he could buy her a drink. His advance is rebuffed as Barta picks up Martin and starts for the inn. Raspin, chivalrously he hopes, offers to escort her. His offer seems to offend Barta who interprets it as not thinking a woman can take care of herself. Raspin points out that she is unarmed and the carpenter flexes both biceps and asks what we he would call them. Raspin is hopelessly smitten now.

We head to Martin’s house, following directions provided by Barta. The door is busted open. Inside, it is obvious that this a furrier’s shop. There are animal skins all about. Relatively sparse area, the front room is his shop and work area. There is a back door that leads to a small living space. Nothing looks out of the ordinary.

We decide to look around this part of the village to make sure everyone is okay. Knocking on the doors of a few homes, explaining who we are and that we are checking to make sure people are safe. The responses vary from no answer to a curt “we’re fine” response to one person “grilling” the group on what they are going to do about all of this, what they’ve been doing, and the like. Serena, unable to stop herself from sharing, gets entangled in this conversation until Raspin steps in and puts a stop to it by stating that they need to move on and check on other homes. When the village gives no indication of stopping his questioning badgering of Serena, the warrior steps between the pair and gently places his hand on the man. The villager insists that he not be touched and on knowing Raspin’s name. Raspin quickly apologizes and states that his name is Wink.

The group heads to the home where they received no answer, having learned from others that this was the home of a drunk. Raspin lifts his leg to kick open the door but thinks of Barta’s comments regarding his intelligence (and possibly the idea that the cost of the repair would come from their 40% of the treasure they find). Instead, he tries the door, finding it unlocked. Inside is a man lying on the floor with several bottles lying around him. He appears passed out. When Serena attempts to rouse him, he mumbles a drunken sexual advance. We decide to leave him here and head back to the inn.

At the inn, we question those who have seen this shadow. There have been six sightings so far and, so far, no one has been hurt. Each person questioned shares a more or less similar story. The shadow approaches aggressively, hesitates just before it attacks, and then flees. Each “attack” has been about an hour apart and spread about the village. We try to find a pattern to the location of the attacks and determine where we think the next attack may occur. After Raspin turns down an offer to be the now conscious furrier’s bodyguard, we head out to this area of the village.

A couple of hours later, as we are patrolling around some fishermen homes, we hear a scream. A man comes running out of his home and something is chasing him. We go chasing after him and the monster. With their elven blood, Serena and Cailana can best see what is happening. As the shadow gets close to the man, it stops, hesitates, starts forward to attack to only stop again. It then goes straight up in the air. The man shares his story of being asleep when he was woken by a coldness to find the shadow in front of him. He screamed and fled with the thing chasing after him. We escort him to the inn…after he gets some clothes from his home.

Back at the inn, the Captain is talking with Barta. He then comes and asks us as to Wink’s whereabouts since he has received a report that Wink assaulted a villager. We protest that that is impossible as Wink has been in his room resting because of his wounds and that Bruno can confirm this. The Captain is not happy and starts to challenge the competence of our group and pointing out how much of a mess we’ve made in such a short time. One of the victims of the shadow’s “attacks” was a guard. Serena asks questions about this attack but gets no new information that might help.

During this conversation, Willow approaches Faelan and offers hims some pipeweed. The pair start smoking. A combination of exhaustion and the relaxing effect of the pipeweed makes Faalan a little loopy. He finds it incredibly amusing that the shadow stopped attacking the guard “in the name of the law” and is unable to keep his mirth to himself. Sharing with Willow leads to the pair to make a scene with their raucous laughter. Serena yells that they are not helping things and to go outside. For once, the Captain and Serena see eye-to-eye as he orders his guards to escort the pair out.

Serena apologizes to the Captain for the pair’s behavior, but he is not in a forgiving mood. He goes on a rant about how these shadow things are solely our fault. Serena again notes that we are trying to help. Someone in the now completely still inn shouts out an agreement that our group is only trying to help. This sets the Captain off even more. He lists off that we are responsible for the death of the village priestess, for agitating hobgoblins and goblins, and for who knows what else in just the last day of “adventuring.”

We get into an argument with the Captain about all that we’ve done. We note all the foes we’ve defeated and the Captain counters with how many we’ve let live. Raspin points out that we did travel to the Forradás and return alive. The Captain responds that he doesn’t believe even half of our stories about that. Serena, perhaps somewhat discouraged, points out yet again that we are doing our best and that we gave our word to both the Baroness and Farkas that we’d lay down our lives to protect the village. The Captain’s response is to simply say that Farkas is a fool and walk out of the inn.

Serena responds we have taken care of a lot of the hobgoblins and the captain responds “but you have left some go.” Raspin starts muttering but the captain calls him out and asks “Do you have something to say?” Raspin tells him no. The captain goes on about us bumbling along with our month of adventuring and Raspin responds “We did survive the Floridas didn’t we?” He says “Not sure I believe half of what you say.” Serena responds “We are going to do the best we can to help. We gave our word to Fargas and the Baroness.” He looks at her and says “your a fool.” He turns and walks out.

Outside, the Captain finds Faelan and Willow lying on the ground, laughing about guards telling a shadow to stop in the name of the law. The Captain looms over them and expresses his earnest hope that the Baroness will soon come to her senses and that he looks forward to the day when he can hang all of us. Irrepressible as always, Willow blurts out to Faelan that then he’d be Hanging Willow. The weed-addled pair bust out laughing at that. The Captain is furious and his hand reaches for his sword, but he turns and walks away.

Inside the inn, the crowd is taking sides. Some are agreeing with the Captain, but many are siding with us. Raspin offers to buy Barta a drink, but she declines and again notes that he really isn’t her type. We decide to head out and patrol for the last couple of hours before dawn and Willow decides to tag along.

While on the patrol, Willow and Faelan chat. She asks what are we looking for and he goes on to explain we are looking for a shadow. Willow points out her shadow, but Faelan explains it is a scary shadow. She nods and tells him that she and Betony have been “rutting like rabbits” while he’s been gone, going so far as to point out that they used his bed at least couple of times. Willow laments that it won’t be happening anymore because Betony is leaving. She would too if she had stolen the stuff that he had. Faelan asks what had been stolen and Willow says it was a huge gem, adding that they even “did it” in a closet of the house where it was stolen.

Overhearing all of this, Serena starts to question Willow about the theft. Willow gets defensive and Faelan realizes, despite his loopy state, that things are going downhill. Serena picks up Willow, throwing the proffered pipeweed to the ground, and starts heading for the village square. Faelan asks, worriedly, about where Serena is taking Willow. Serena indicates that they are going to the Captain so Willow can explain what was stolen and where it was stolen from. Cailana supports this course of action.

Willow explains that it wasn’t really stealing…something most of gotten lost in the translation. She was only talking hypothetically. Her comments fall on deaf ears as Serena and Cailana continue their purposeful march. Willow offers to erase Faelan’s pipeweed and mushroom debt if he can stop this. Faelan explains that the Captain might not see it just as Betony doing the stealing but blame us as well. Serena points out yet again that we have sworn to protect this town and this falls under that. Willow desperately offers to get the gem back and return it…hopefully before anyone even reports it missing. Faelan points out that his friend clearly was thinking with her heart and not her head…which Willow corrects as thinking with her loins.

After a good deal of discussion and pleading, Serena and Cailana agree to this plan. Willow will steal it back and return it. She has until just after sunrise to complete this or we’d all be going to the Captain with the matter. Willow agrees and goes running off into the darkness.

As the sun starts to rise, we head back to the inn. While everyone else heads up to their rooms for a long overdue rest, Faelan stays in the common room to wait for Willow or for an alarm to be raised about a theft. By midday, there is no sign of Willow and no alarm or the like so Faelan heads to his room. Willow is asleep in the bed. As he climbs in, Faelan asks if she accomplished her task. She responds that he needs to get some sleep and he instantly falls asleep.

We all wake around dinner time and head down to the common room. A guard comes over to tell us that Farkus would like to see us. We head out to the Baroness’ manor and are escorted inside to the advisor’s office.

It is very sparsely furnished. Farkus informs the group that he expects a full report and a full accounting of their activities and finds. Raspin dumps the coins found in their latest foray onto the desk. Farkus is less than impressed. After we provide him our report, he reminds us that any “restitution” for deaths or damages will come from our forty-percent. He also shares that he and his associates are expecting much more out of us. Faelan asks, “Associates?” The advisor points out that he is in contact with his counterparts who serve various other nobles and whether we succeed or not will heavily influence any advice they might provide their lords on the merits (or lack thereof) of “hiring” adventurers. Looting the Vault of Larin Karr would, of course, go a long way to that advice being favorable.

Farkus takes all of the coins, pointing out the matter of the weregild for Sandra [adding that she was his oldest and closest friend. He also notes the loss of the staff, a valuable magical item, despite, as all pointed out, its evil nature.] He does provide us a small advance so Serena can purchase a new pair of pants [as she was still wearing the pair that was missing a leg due to the encounter with the “pool” at Származás Keep.] He dismisses us with a reminder that we are to act professionally…looking pointedly at Raspin.

We leave and have a tough decision to make…do we help the village or go look for the Vault? We decide that the former is more important and that we’ll patrol again tonight. We head back to the inn and discuss how we are going take on this shadow. A lot of the townsfolk are coming to the inn as it gets dark. We decide that it is time to head out. Outside, we see a guard rushing from the temple yelling for the Captain and that the shadow is in the temple. We all start running for the temple but many are hampered by their wounds.

Raspin reaches the temple, throws open the door, and rushes in. As the rest of the party and the captain approach, Raspin is backing out of the temple with the shadow attached to him. It hands are inserted into his head and he is struggling to get it off of him.

Serena knows that we need something magical to hurt the monster and since her light hurt the other one, she asks her god to grant her a boon and Faelan glows with light. [Serena’s boost trait power has a light trapping on a Raise.] Serena then runs past him and into the temple to get some holy water as our weapons will not hurt the thing. Raspin falls and the monster turns towards Faelan. Cailana shoots and arrow at it but has no effect. The captain after attacking and realizing that his weapon is having no effect orders his men to stay away [but he stays engaged himself].

Despite it weakening from the glow from Faelan, it continues to attack him. He, in turn, calls up the very essence of life [Faelan’s healing power has a trapping that damages undead] to hurt the shadow. The shadow gets its hands in Faelin’s head and he starts to moan [as his life force is being drained away]. With possibly his final prayer to Metsä, Faelan casts again and destroys the shadow.

[Everyone near the shadow sensed something from it as it “died”…a sense of relief. The shadow was from the priestess, Sandra Papnő, after she had been slain by the prior shadow. She had retained enough of her goodness to restrain from attacking the prior night despite her great hunger…thus the aborted attacks through the night. Now, however, her hunger overwhelmed her and she attacked. A tiny part of her was still within and so she continued to attack Faelan despite the light damaging her. She wanted to die and was able to manipulate the hunger to go for a target it normally would not.]

In the aftermath, the Captain has his sword at the unconscious Raspin’s throat. Serena asks if she can heal Raspin and the Captain wants to know why he shouldn’t just kill Raspin in case he might be “infected.” Serena offers to help if Raspin is, indeed, infected. Removing his helmet, he has the same bruise marks as Sandra, but he is still alive and breathing. We head back to the inn for some rest and recuperation.

In the morning, Raspin seems fine. Cailana and Wink, however, are in no shape to head out. It will likely be days before they’ve recovered from their wounds enough. So Serena, Raspin, and Faelin check out the tunnels and caverns under the bar again, remembering that there was a a tunnel that we did not explore. [At least no fully. This particular tunnel was cut off by a twenty to twenty-five foot chasm and the party had turned back from exploring beyond (or within) this chasm previously.]

We go and get some mental spikes from the blacksmith and head down. Not much has changed since we were last down here. The cockroaches seem to be increasing, nothing too big but there appear to be plenty of them. The way station is still the same and head to the tunnel with the ravine in it.

[Both the cockroach nest in the orc burial site just under the inn and the nest outside of the Birds of Prey “bolthole” were being repaired. Only normal sized cockroaches were spotted…no giant ones.]

It is only about fifteen feet [actually 20-25 feet] to the other side, so the plan is to all put metal spikes in the wall and have Raspin climb over. Serena calls on Utazás to aid him and he glows with light to see his way [and an extra two dice to his Athletics]. As Raspin is hammering [and making lots of noise] to create a way across, three large cockroaches come out of the ravine and attack. Raspin climbs back and we defeat the insects.

We eventually get across and there are more tunnels to explore, we come to another tunnel leading left and right, we go right and then into some more areas. Some are blocked, and we back up and take another route.

We come to a series of tunnels where we hear [and feel] a rumbling sound. Serena listens to the wall and hears the sound. We back up and go into one of the side tunnels and back up slowly. Nothing happens and Serena goes back up to the wall and listens. The sound is still there we decide to head back down the tunnel.

We come back and head to the left and come to a chamber with piles of bones. Serena moves closer to investigate and the rest of us follow. The piles of bones are organized by the type of bones (leg bones, hip bones, arm bones, etc). Raspin moves to one of the piles and starts to move some of them to see if there is anything in them. When he places his hand on the bones, a voice shrieks, “No! They are mine!” A spirit like thing materializes in the chamber.

[And that is where we stopped for the night.

A few new NPCs were introduced. Raspin became smitten and made for some fun interactions. The party is getting the sense that while not everyone in Presov sees them in a favorable light, many do. Some have even started to look to the PCs instead of the Captain to protect them. I’m sure that is going over quite well with the Captain.

The players are also seeing the consequence of wounds and not healing them in the Golden Hour in Savage Worlds. Both Cailana and Wink wound up with three wounds that went past the Golden Hour because both Faelan and Serena suffered backlash while their players were out of Bennies…so no spellcasting until after four hours of prayer. Since we were down to just two players this session due to the holidays, it kind of worked out having Wink and then Cailana stay behind to rest and recover.

Beer Log: Beers shared this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.

  • Westbrook Two Claw: A fine rye IPA. To be fair, it had been sitting in the fridge a bit too long AND we were eating really spicy Indian food and so this got downed really fast. Still a hit.
  • New Glarus Bubbler: It is always nice to have New Glarus. A solid hefeweizen…just not my style. Still a hit.
  • Grimm Blueberry Pop!: I’m liking the Pops from Grimm. We had the Blackberry Orange Pop! previously. I think I like this one better…nice tart, fizzy, and fruit. A hit.]

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