Escort Duty – Arrival

As the party continued their trek to escort their noble employer to his estate, here is the narrative given: This was our most recent game session where we played at all. (There has been a few dinner and visitation nights with no gaming)

The trail you are following turns north about an hour after you left the bridge of Aeirluin. As the weather in this region is prone to do, the stiff coastal breeze has brought in clouds from the horizon and stretched them out over the coastal areas. A slight drizzle has started and you know it to be a three day rain. As the wagon is pulled along the path, you notice the horses starting to struggle as you creep in elevation along the final stretch of coastline leading to the Foxglove Estate, the once easy to negotiate road quickly becoming muddy and slick. Lightning dances across the horizon far out to sea, and you have a feeling there may only an hour or two before the storm clouds make landfall.

 

As the rain continues to intensify, you can make out a large, storm beaten manor house perched precariously upon the cliff face ahead, with the storm tossed surf pounding the shoreline 400’ below. Shore Pine, Cedar, and Azalea trees can be seen, but have grown twisted and sparse in this area. The whole scene lends a very eerie chill beyond that of the now driving rain. A dilapidated four foot cobblestone wall breaks through a covering of Silvergrass and other weeds bisecting the path. The wall is collapsed in areas to the left, and the supports of an old, iron gate form two 9 foot pillars which mark the entry to the estate grounds. A rusted placard hangs ajar on the right column, the word “Foxglove” etched into the surface in an overly-stylized script.

 

The nearest building to you is nothing but a burnt out shell, with blackened foundations covered in more weeds and a couple ash saplings. The path through the gate is blocked by a rickety old black parasol carriage with a single gaunt horse rigged to it. The driver is hard to discern as he is covered in a thick, ashen-gray oiled cloak to block the weather. Just inside the gate stand a pair of gaunt young men and a matronly looking woman dressed in rags and not protected from the weather. As Aldern exits his coach in a flurry of self importance, he plops off the bottom step and whips his cloak around, hands on his hips as if returning to a grand ceremony in his honor; a conquering hero. The servants mumble a welcome home to their lord as the boys begin to take over control of the wagon you have been escorting, the woman holding a torn umbrella over her lord in a vain attempt to provide him shelter as he gets in the once grand carriage.

 

Once seated, Aldern leans out and tosses a coin laden bag on the ground next to the carriage, splashing chunks of mud on the old lady. “The remainder of your pay“, he states in an overly pompous manner, “Minus the cost of mistreating my wagon during the incident with the Manticore. You are free to seek shelter from the storm in the old silo tower we passed a half mile back. Fare well.” At this the boys lead the wagon team up the old path to the manor. The old lady, without a word spoken, closes the gate and secures it with a chain and padlock, as the latch built into the misaligned gate no longer works.

 

Lightning crashes somewhere behind the estate house, lighting it up in a gloomy silhouette before returning it and you to the gloomy darkness of the storm. You are left alone outside the gate as the carriage creaks away, sloshing mud as it goes up the path.

 

This is how we ended our most recent game night. I had half expected them to say something, especially Thorvaldric who had developed a particular distaste for Aldern, but they let him ride away in silence. If they revisit this story line later, I am sure they will find a way to say hello to Aldern. *Insert a knowing smile from DM*

As the game moves forward we are intending to start introducing more of the main or ‘Core’ rules into the game. Among the changes in the pipeline are attacks of opportunity, combat maneuvers, and armor penalties. I do not personally care for these aspects of Pathfinder rules and haven’t since 3.0 and 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons, but Morga is doing more and more flourishes that make this necessary. The one bright side is Morga’s insane AC will drop because of it. It will only drop 1 point but AC19 is much better (for me) than AC 20 especially since my players, although new, have fully embraced the concept of AC and bonuses to it they can get from certain (insert swearing) magic wands and spells. Thankfully their wand has run out of charges. Heh.

Also, with the introduction of the core rules, Morga’s armor check penalty is going to be a massive negative 5 when using the shield. -4 for the armor plus a -2 for the shield, which will be modified to a negative 1 because of its magic for a total of -5. Her total ACP will be -4 when using her axe, which she does almost always unless she is fighting skeletons in which case her mace gets used.

The other side of this coin is Ehla and Thorvaldric. I will focus on our wily rogue. Attacks of Opportunity + a finesse rogue = massive damage fairly often. Even if he is only using a dagger, he applies his Dex to damage for 1d4 + 4 +2d6 as a free attack in addition to his normal two attacks a round which usually hit given the AC of CR appropriate creatures. Alas it is what it is.

Regardless, I cannot wait to play again. Th next session I have titled “The Old Silo”, I have worked up a small custom map, ordered some kick butt special mini’s online and infused a lot of requested backstory for Misgivings into the details. We will have to see how it goes.

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Escort Duty – Part III

Your travels with Aldern have been anything but boring. You have been attacked by a Kraken and waves of Sahuagin at sea, a peaceful ceremony you attend while waiting for your ship to be repaired is attacked by Goblins, you discover a layer of deceit and treachery in the peaceful town of Dawnpoint, you believe you found proof linking an angel to much of it, the strange snake cult ruins, the odd incident earlier on the road, the Cormyrian war patrol, and now you have come to the Farwatch towers and Bridge of Aeirluin.

These ruins were once mighty watchtowers protecting the western fringes of Aeirluin, an elven garden of such beauty as to cause even the most stoic of men to weep upon viewing it. The towers are now little more than piles of stone marking the foundations of the once grand architecture. The magic of ancient Cormanthyr must have been mighty indeed, as evidenced by the roof of the highest tower, the remains of which have stood in place for centuries, despite the fact the tower was destroyed in whatever cataclysm tore this area asunder and turned the gardens of Aeirluin into the vile Brinethorn Marsh. The area has a mystical ambiance to it, but most importantly, this marks the near completion of your journey as Alderns family estate is only a two hour ride away from the bridge.

This night was a short session, so it was restricted to just one event. Wanting ever so much to have a bridge and troll style encounter, I decided to change it to something else at the last moment as I knew I had something special planned for their first encounter with my version of a Troll.

As you begin to cross the expansive bridge, the wind and sites around a wonder to behold, you hear a primal grunt from ahead of you as an Ogre jumps into view ahead of you. Thorvalric, guiding the wagon you look behind you when you hear something, only to see another Ogre step from the shadows behind you.

This is where my little Beginner Box campaign took a turn. Not a bad turn, but one that is sure to be a catalyst for continuing change over the coming sessions. Asking the players what they do, they spurred their warhorses into a charge, mighty Morga leading the way with the elven cleric Ehlahadriel right behind her. Thorvalric was driving the wagon couch with their noble inside, whom they had come to despise by this time. He spurred the wagon forward, the rear ogre in pursuit.

This is where things ‘evolved’. Morga spurs her mighty steed into the lead ogre attacking it with mount and axe. Ok. I can handle this. A few seconds later the ogre is dead with Morga and Ehla barely scathed. Another ogre, the leader, who was sleeping in the ruined base of the nearby tower comes out issuing a roar of challenge. I expected “I hit it with my axe”; but alas.

“Can I throw my rope around his head like a lasso and try to pull him down?”

“Umm… Sure” I say, learning long ago not to say no unless it just cannot be done,  while getting up and getting my ipad to load d20pfsrd real quick and looking up combat maneuvers so I did not have to fumble through the Pathfinder Core book and grabbing my dusty Beastiary from the shelf to look up an Ogres CMD and CMB. You see we play with just the Paizo Pathfinder Beginner Box: A little edited with EdoWars class templates and a heavy tweaking of races by myself to distinguish Elven subcultures and my homebrew “Barbarian as a race” called a Volgen, which Morga plays. This is new because there are no combat maneuvers in the PFBB, which is part of my love for it. There are also no attacks of opportunity or armor check penalties or multiclassing. It is a very nice little trimmed version of a game I mostly enjoy. (I am a die hard fan of Advanced D&D second edition but play PF because I can get modern published material for it)

Of course she rolls insanely well, and snares the orge around the neck, pulling him down with her mighty warhorse and starts dragging it across the road. I forget the exact series of events but they smacked it down fast. Such it goes sometimes. The wagon had been pulled to near the tower and the spoiled noble git was whining in the carriage. Ehla (I think) decided to shut him up by backing her horse( Incredible Ride check) into the carriage causing it to rock suddenly, banging Aldern’s head and dropping him on his ass in the carriage. He shut up real quick.

The ogres dispatched, they decided to search the area and received a nice bit of treasure. Not bad for three level three characters. The bridge successfully crossed, another threat thwarted, they started down the final leg of their trek which started in the city of Westgate being hired by a whiny self-righteous noble that any one of them would enjoy killing now that they have gotten to know him.

What does the final leg hold in store? Find out next update.

Escort Duty – Part II

As read to the group..

As the road comes over a slight rise, you see a defensive, hastily constructed barricade ahead on the road about a hundred yards away. An image begins to materialize near you along with a twinkling of musical notes similar to heavily buckled reins, as a mist swirls slowly into a transparent image of a Cormyrian Warmage.

 

An authoritative voice speaks from the image. “Warnings and Well met travelers. Under order of the Regent Queen of Cormyr and the Cormyrian crown, approach to be questioned. Any aggressive actions will be dealt with harshly.”

 

At this the image fades slightly. You notice your mounts relax visibly with the chiming of the bells, and you have little doubt you would be unable to spur them into anything but a slow gait under this powerful charm. A woman in ornate, yet functional plate mail armor, along with a lancemate and standard bearer are waiting on magnificent steeds in front of the barricade. She has short-cropped, auburn hair, a regal yet seasoned posture, and she sports a lance and shield with the emblem of Cormyr brilliantly detailed upon its battleworn surface. A helm with a purple plume sits on the saddlehorn, and the large pendant banner of the Purple Dragons flutters inspirationally in the wind.

 

A quick count reveals there are twenty-seven seasoned warriors, four scouts, a sturdy war-wagon, a war mage and the captain, Juel Markeen.

As you approach, she calls out to you to halt within easy crossbow range of the armed men behind the barricade. “Well Met travelers. I am Far-Captain Markeen, Sword-Hammer of Helm. In the name of Alusair, Regent Queen of Cormyr, stay your arms and be recognized. My scouts report you have four in your party. Do you wish to wish to challenge this number and for what purpose do you travel along the lost coast road?’

You see a score of crossbows pointed at you and the warwizard from the projected image has a wand leveled to cast a spell if needed.

 

Juel Markeen and her men were searching for anything suspicious after coming upon a ruined and burnt out caravan earlier in the morning just up the road. They counted 17 dead amongst the carnage. The players noted a well armed caravan had left Dawnpoint along this road the day before they departed.

When Aldern identified himself, she greeted him formally and politely but with a wary eye. Since she patrols this area, she knows of the Foxglove estate and that Aldern spends most of his time in Westgate and does not trust him. As they were deemed not a threat, Markeen exchanged information with them and the party was told about the carnage the Purple Dragons found and ultimately allow them to go on their way.

She also mentions Cormyrian charters for adventurers, but since they are escorting a noble, and they only have three members in the party they are not required to carry a charter, but she encourages them to do so anyways if they intend to travel to more civilized areas of Cormyr.

Given the information they had, after a small lunch, they decided to bypass the area of the caravan attack and take a detour into a (small DM chuckle) ‘less dangerous area” which would take them to the ancient elven ruins of Aierluin…

To be continued in Part III

Escort Duty – Part 1

So, it was finally time to escort the noble named Aldern Foxglove home. In typical form, they received a notification late in the day that he intended to start the final trek home early the next morning. The characters ran about town as best they could to secure provisions for the journey. Those who did not have horses purchased them, and they met their employer in the morning along with the wagon driver Gherart, and two others they had seen around town but did not really know; Gyiurn Hars, a local ruffian and sell-sword and Haid Beerbelly, an outlandishly flamboyant Gnome bard with a penchant for pranks and the occasional dour mood swings. (OOC- I had made a comment she was known for her ‘biting wit’ but no one caught it later)

Not long after they left Dawnpoint for the trek along the coast north towards Sembia and the Brinethorn Marsh, their charge started to whine it was taking too long when they had to stop to tend one of the wagon horses. Aldern had decided he wanted to ride through a field of flowers rather than the road and the horse took a mis-step and injured its hoof. As they were back on the road an hour later, he was demanding they slow to soak in the sites, with the wild highlands to the west and the edges of the poisonous Brinethorn Marsh directly east. It was about this time they reached a curve in the road with a shaded copse of trees off to the left and a granite outcropping to the right. Startled birds launched into the sky from the stand of trees, and when they paused to investigate, slipping towards the treeline, Haid showed her true colors in that moment, knocking the driver from the wagon and quickly slitting the throat of the bodyguard Gyiurn. Haid let fall her disguise and revealed herself to be a serpentfolk sorceress just as a Manticore burst from the woodline to attack. Thorvalric the rogue left the beast to Ehlahadriel and Morga as he closed the gap on Haid, who was on top of the wagon hissing threats of revenge. They never found out if the attack was targeted at them, or their noble charge. Through furious battle, they were able to defeat first Haid with a series of timely strikes while avoiding her spells before focusing on the vicious Manticore attacking them with spikes and claws.

During the skirmish, the wagon went uncontrolled for a time before careening onto its side down a slight slope, tossing Aldern around more than a little and damaging his precious ‘carriage’. After righting the wagon they found poor Gherart crushed during the encounter. They agreed to bury the dead driver and bodyguard before continuing the sudden somber ride. The day had started to darken not only because of incidents happening, but the threat of weather changing was starting to begin. To be continued……

This is not one of my normal posts, but I wanted to recap what had happened the last month or so since my last update. There is more to tell, but that will come in parts two and three.

Quote of the week – “Can we gag him?”