In our last session, the party–which, I suppose, needs a name of some sort–decided to strike out from Presov and explore more of Quail Valley. They set the northern village of Borsod as their travel goal. The four day trip included an attack by wolves, which left Willow badly wounded (but then healed) and having lost her normal cheery edge, and a nighttime attack by a trio of ogres that the group handled easily. They arrived in Borsod and discovered that at least some who reside here might not be the most respecting of law and order, including the law. They also met the local priestess who warmed to them once it was clear that they worked for Baroness Varga and asked for their help with a local problem…which is where we pick up after the break.
As usual, my GM comments are in [brackets and italics]. There are potential spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr below the break.
We had just arrived at Gazda Farm with Priestess Jolana, Nandor Gazda and his family came over to greet us. We asked about the troll and where the stolen livestock had been. Nandor said the troll was big, green, and thin. He showed us the pens from which the animals had been taken. Cailana was able to find tracks—they were barefoot and included a set of large, non-human tracks and small tracks (possibly belonging to a child, half-folk, or a goblin?). Cailana could not determine exactly how many sets of small tracks there were.
We decided to follow the tracks to see where the troll came from—Cailana led us, following the tracks into the woods. We almost lost them where they crossed a small stream but Cailana spied them again. The tracks led through the woods to a clearing with a hill and cave underneath on the other side. The clearing was covered with dry leaves, which we feared would warn those in the cave of our approach, so Wink magically moved some of the leaves. We saw that bones (some new and some older) were scattered underneath the leaves, which would also be difficult to cross without making noise and alerting those inside the cave. We decided to lie in wait in the woods, so Wink covered the bones with the leaves again.
[Pretty savvy for a troll, a creature that is not renowned for its intelligence. Could that be a hint about this particular “encounter?” Damn right it was. 😉]
Cailana stood on watch in the woods near the clearing while the rest of us moved into the woods on either side of the track/trail about 50 feet from the clearing. We dug a shallow recess in the track, put spikes in it (pointed up), and tried to cover it with leaves. We stretched a rope across the track on the cave side of the recess. We waited through the night—it started raining and got a bit heavier as we waited. Around 4am, Cailana saw a large figure emerge from the cave and move into the clearing. Cailana moved back to the group as quietly as she could to let us know that it appeared the troll was coming.
A couple minutes later, the troll approached and fell over the rope, grunting as it fell on the spikes. Cailana saw three small figures coming behind the troll but could not make out what they were before they scattered into the woods when we attached the troll. We took the troll out, cut off its head and burned the head in the cave.
The cave had several natural pillars in it. There were four makeshift bedrolls—one large and three small, so it looks as though it was just the troll and the three small figures who were here. There was a pile of rocks up against a wall [at the rear of the cave], about four feet high, which we decided we would come back to explore later. There was a chest with a lock on it up against one of the pillars. We were not able to open the lock, so Raspin hacked the chest open with a hand axe. There were [approximately] 1000 silver lords in it and a live snake, which slithered out of the chest. Raspin made short work of the snake by smashing it with the chest. We took the silver with us and headed back towards Gazda Farm, stopping to bury the silver [off in the woods] and cover it up along the way.
It was around 7am when we arrived at the farm. We let Nandor and his family know that we took care of the troll but that there were three smaller folks with him that ran off. Cailana mentioned that the small footprints had been seen with the troll tracks coming up to the farm, but Nandor said they had only seen the troll. The Gazdas offered us breakfast and lodging in the barn since we were soaked and had been up all night. The daughter asked if we had found her pig Charlotte—we tried to gently break it to her that we did not see the animals who were taken and that they would not be able to come back to the farm.
Raspin asked for a drink with breakfast. Nandor was very accommodating and offered Raspin the bottle of wine he was saving for his 15-year old son’s wedding, saying that the boy may not be marrying anytime soon anyway. It sounded like Nandor has encouraged his son to marry the daughter of one of the two neighboring farm families. Based on Raspin’s recommendation that the young man marry a big, strong woman, the boy told his father who he wanted to marry. After Raspin’s discussing the appeal of big strong women, Nandor began teasing his wife about being too thin and needing to eat a sandwich.
[What can I say? I like giving the NPCs a little more depth and I think most of the players enjoy the interactions. 😉
The son, who Nandor had only called “the Boy” so far and no one had asked his name, seemed to take on a bit of hero worship with Raspin. Talking to Raspin later in the day, he asked if Raspin could talk to Trinu, Borsod’s local witch, and see if he could get a love potion from her. He shared where Trinu’s home was, but the PCs never did make it there this session at least.]
We rested that day and night in the barn, awaking the morning of the 13th of Traveler. Cailana and Wink took stock of their lingering injuries and realized they were finally feeling back to normal.
We returned to the cave—it did not look like anyone had been there since we left it the previous morning. We moved the pile of rocks, Serena shared the Explorer’s Edge with Cailana (increasing her vigor and surrounding her with an almost daylight glow), and Cailana led us into the tunnel. It was not large so we had to crawl. There were spider webs and it did not look like anyone had used this tunnel in a long time. After about an hour in the tunnel, it suddenly sloped down sharply. Using three ropes, with Raspin holding one and a spike holding another, Cailana went down the slope about 100 feet, then came back up to report that the tunnel keeps going with no end in sight. We decided to exit the tunnel and piled the rocks back up before heading back to the farm and then to the inn.
At the inn, Rumble tells us that our mule is gone and that he is not responsible or liable for it, grinning the whole time. He also tells us that Willow was arrested for accusing the mayor and constable of stealing the mule. We briefly asked Rumble what he thought might have happened to the mule, he suggested that maybe Arno and Ardo had taken it as they had also left.
We went to the mayor’s house and the constable opened the door when we knocked. Faelan asked to see Willow and whether we needed to pay a fine to have her released. The constable says we would have to speak to the mayor but that the mayor is busy before slamming the door on us. Faelan said we would wait and attempted knocking on the door a couple more times, getting the same response from the constable the second time with the addition of the constable saying that waiting on the mayor’s porch constitutes trespassing. Raspin stayed with Faelan while Cailana, Serena, and Wink headed to the temple to ask Priestess Jolana for her advice on how to get Willow released.
Raspin warns Faelan that Tamás is trying to bait him into attacking him. The third time Faelan knocks, the constable continues to insist that the mayor is busy but does lean over and tell Faelan that Willow squeals so nicely. This was too much for Faelan, who started to draw his sword. The constable quickly told him he was under arrest and whether he would come quietly. Faelan said he would and started down the hall with his back to the constable. Though he was going as the constable directed, Tamás slammed the hilt of his sword into the back of Faelan’s head. Faelan turned to defend himself and ended up scuffling with Tamás, trying to entangle him, with the mayor looking on part of the time. The constable attacked Faelan again and Faelan yelled, prompting Raspin to break the front door open. Raspin is arrested as well and he and Faelan are beaten and thrown into a cell with Willow, who is not in good shape.
While all this was happening, the rest of our group was speaking with Jolana at the Sun Temple. She was glad to hear that we had taken care of the troll and said she had heard of Willow’s arrest and the mayor’s and Tamás’ assertion that Willow had physically attacked them (which Jolana did not believe). She said she would talk to the mayor to see about our getting Willow released but suggested we stay out of trouble in the meantime. Upon getting to the mayor’s, Jolana quickly found out that it was too late for that. The mayor told her that they will be hanging Willow, Faelan, and Raspin in the morning. Miklós said that Raspin and Faelan broke down his door and came in and attacked him, unprovoked. He was apparently sporting a recent black eye.
[Not apparently…he had a black eye.]
We discussed our options with Jolana—she felt Miklós would be likely to accept a bribe of 500 lords to release the three and said she would go to the mayor on our behalf to discuss it. We waited at the temple for her return, and she lets us know that he will accept 500 lords along with a public apology from us the next morning. Miklós wants us to state that we came to Borsod on behalf of the baroness and that some of our group had attacked him. After some discussion, we agreed that Wink and Serena would give the apology. Jolana wrote a communication to the baroness and put her seal on it for us to take back with us.
[The group initially asked if Miklós would accept 100 Lords each (300 total). Jolana thought that wouldn’t be enough but thought 500 would be.]
We retrieved some of the silver lords, giving 50 to Jolana for the temple (she was a bit surprised by the amount of the donation) and taking 500 with us the next morning. There were some townsfolk and the mayor’s house staff were there as well (Jolana had told us that the mayor had claimed to have witnesses of Faelan’s and Raspin’s attack on him, though she did not believe his story). In not so many words, the mayor stated that we had come to an arrangement so there would be no hanging, due to his magnanimity and forgiving nature, and that some of group had attacked him due to a misunderstanding. We said that we had come to Borsod while working for the baroness and we apologized for the misunderstanding leading some of us to attack him.
After giving the mayor the money, we headed out of town with Tamás following us part of the way. We spent the next four days traveling back to Presov, mostly uneventfully. On the second day, a barge passed us, also heading in the direction of Presov, carrying Ardo and Arno (twirling their mustaches, as usual) [and smiling as the went by]. We did not see our mule on the barge. On the third day, an arrow comes at Faelan from the woods but thankfully does not injure him. The arrow looks like Graylock’s, so we spent a little time checking the woods but found no sign of him.
[That Graylock is a tricksy one.]
When we arrive back in Presov on the 17th of Traveler, we immediately went to the baroness’ manor and are taken into her dining/meeting room. The baroness is sitting with a blank look on her face, flanked by a smiling captain and a frowning Farkas. The baroness tells us to sit.
[And that is where we ended the session. Not your typical cliffhanger, but still, the players aren’t really sure what reception they might get from the Baroness.
Looks like Borsod might be a bit corrupt…okay, a lot corrupt. I think that the pertinent question isn’t why are the mayor and others corrupt but rather what was their motivation for baiting Faelan? Did they also bait Willow? If so, why? What are they up to?
This is a “sandboxy” campaign. Various locales are established and various “encounter areas” are established. These locales and encounter areas exist independent of the PCs. As time passes, they evolve and change regardless of whether or not the PCs’ action have a direct impact on them. The setting is in motion rather than “frozen” and waiting for the PCs to interact with it before going in motion. This is also true of NPCs. They exist independent of the PCs, they have their own motivations, and they pursue their own goals and take actions regardless of whether or not the PCs’ actions have a direct impact on them. So again I ask, just what might Miklós and Tamás be up to?
Beer Log: Beers shared this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Backpocket Brewing Hazy Forecast: I have one other beer from this Iowa brewery and it was pretty good. Sadly, this one wasn’t as good. It was billed as a New England IPA but wasn’t. Pretty standard IPA at best. I have to call this one a miss. 🙁
- Brouwerji West Picnic Lightning: This was a New England IPA and a solid one. A hit.
- Terrapin Moo-tella: I’ll be upfront and say I’m not a fan of nutella. Regardless, this was a well made beer and the players enjoyed it. Cocoa, hazelnut, roasty, and malty. A hit.]