Friday, October 25, 2019

#30: The Battle for Dagger's Deep

On the day before our departure, Perhegan and Renwal return to Dagger’s Deep, along with their retinue of guards.  Perhegan is quickly brought up to speed on our news: the death of his man, the discovery of the barbarians at the cave, and our plan to investigate the barbarian activity and take the fight to them.  As Zargon states, the only way to answer violence such as this is with violence, and all our preparations are geared towards this goal.  The night before our intended departure, we retreat to our tents with the scent of spring rain on the wind.

In the middle of the night, we are awakened by a loud thunderclap, followed by an immediate feeling that something is wrong.  Looking around, we find that we are lying on open ground near a river where presumably Dagger’s Deep should be—all in our group are accounted for, but the tents, our shrine and citizens of Dagger’s Deep are nowhere to be found. 

As we pull ourselves to our feet, disoriented, we realize that the river keep is there, but rather than looking like it is still under construction, it looks dilapidated, perhaps ravaged by age.  We are cold and damp, and very much confused.  Audric asks if we might have returned to our time when Selben hushes him, and the young mage points to a single light bobbing around near the keep.

Audric sends Lume forth, and we’re able to see that the light illuminates a pair of figures, almost as if one is holding a lantern, and our group follows.  As we get closer, we aren’t able to discern much detail, but we do notice that the man in front holds a bow at the ready, while the man a few steps back is wearing a hooded cloak with the cowl pulled up to obscure his face, holding a staff illuminated with a small arcane light. 

We approach close enough that they should be able to detect our presence, but they appear to be ignorant of our position, perhaps of our existence entirely.  As I make to call out, I feel Audric’s hand on my soldier, and the warrior speaks.

“Tussugar told us that he adventured with three others,” Audric explains, “a warrior and a wizardess who commissioned the tower in Carrock.  They traveled with a deft bowmaster.”  Could it be possible that this is a vision from that time, of Reginald and Ethelenda?

As the bowman steps forward to investigate, we hear the low sounds of speech.  “Audric, Zeb?” the voice mutters.  The man turns towards us and we recognize him as Wyardt when suddenly he turns to Bonie and calls out “Bonie!” as if recognizing her, as if he can see her, and she gasps in reply.  Thunder bursts again with a flash, and we awaken back in Dagger’s Deep, standing in a cluster where we were on the rocky beach in our vision, damp from the rain.

Bonie seems more shaken than the rest of us, and Audric starts talking about various potential identities for the hooded man—could it be Malchor, or AbbĂ© Lira?  If that was indeed the future, what could possibly draw Wyardt out to look for us at the site of Dagger’s Deep?  What could cause him to even look for us in the first place?  If we were transported—momentarily, or in spirit only—why was Zargon with us?  I do my best to console Bonie as our minds race around the possibilities.

Zargon’s own theories also hold merit—what if our actions now, in the past, incite a bardic song or story that potentially leads our former allies to investigate the ruins of Dagger’s Deep?  Further discussion steers towards Kezia—could it be possible that keravela Kezia may have stepped back into the future to alert our former allies?  It is all very fascinating, confusing, and I’m not sure what to make of it all.

Despite the turmoil of the restless night, we awaken to a cool morning.  There is dampness in the air but no sign of the previous storm, cementing the hunch that it was supernatural, perhaps even in our minds or vision alone.  Preparations made, we set aside misgivings and thoughts of the past night, gather our men and gear to head towards the cave, hoping to find a defensible site beyond the midpoint, within the known range of the barbarian’s patrol.

We find a campsite and begin preparations, setting up dummy bedrolls and setting ropes into the branches of several trees, from which Zargon, Bonie, Selben, Audric and two huntsmen will be lying in wait to provide cover while I serve as bait.  As darkness falls and we settle in, I whisper a prayer to Malar that all our preparations have not been in vain.  I rest a hand on Jakke’s shoulder, and the hound lays down to warm himself by the fire.  The night passes without incident.

The next morning, we set watches and rest, planning to sleep into the early afternoon so that we can attempt to survey our surroundings before deciding where to settle in again for the night, for another potential ambush.  We pack up our camp and the woodsmen of Dagger’s Deep guide us through the territory in hopes of discovering signs of our prey.

After some time, we find a few areas with small streams or deer tracks that might serve as bountiful foraging or hunting spots and decide to attempt our ambush again there.  This time, halfway through the night, I am alerted to movement further upstream.  Lume wanders to investigate and returns after several tense minutes, clearly agitated.

I use my powers to set abjurations in place and settle in, lying in wait.  Several long minutes pass with no change, and I stand to make a short circuit around the fire, hoping to draw out whatever threat might exist.  I draw a torch from the bonfire and take one of the mounts to the stream to water the horse, hoping to prove too enticing a target to pass up, but again our stalker stays his hand.

Frustrated, I return to the campsite and stare out into the dark, whispering a curse under my breath.  Throwing caution to the wind, I drop my torch and head into the woods, Jakke at my side, relying upon the supernatural senses gifted to me by Malar.

As I walk forward into the dark woods, perhaps thirty yards from the camp, a hulking form springs out from the brush and I’m provided a mere moment of warning by my magic.  The form is a large man wearing hides, a barbarian, and he jumps out and swings at me with a club, which sails just over my head.  He takes another swing that misses as I turn back to run towards the camp, hastening towards my allies.  I turn and wait for a charge to come, and the forest goes silent once again.

I roar out a guttural challenge into the darkness, bolstering my taunts with arcane power.  A rock sails towards me that would strike me in the face, but I am protected by my magic and it ricochets off.  I roar again, grabbing a burning brand and charge into the forest hoping to draw out the attacker. 

This time, the barbarian leaps forward and swings at me again, nearly knocking me to the ground with a heavy arc of his club.  I fight defensively back to the fire, hoping to draw him into range of my allies.  His heavy club strikes me again, forcing the wind from my ribs, but I persevere against the pain, trusting in the plan.

A flurry of arrows streak through the brush, and one of Bonie’s barbs strikes the barbarian in the chest.  Audric summons a cloud of glittering motes that blind both me and the barbarian, and Zargon fires a shot that causes a geyser of blood to erupt from an arterial strike between the barbarian’s neck and shoulder.  I pause for a tense minute, unable to see, but reach out and call upon Malar to seal the barbarian’s wound while my allies scramble from their perches.

We tie the unconscious barbarian to a tree, gagging him, and remain on high alert for the rest of the night, unsure if the man was traveling alone or if there might be more foes lurking in the darkness.  The remainder of the night passes without incident.

Come morning, we regard our Northman hostage.  As he struggles against the gag and his bonds, we search him for fetishes, religious tokens, anything that might identify a tribal or religious affiliation.  I don’t see any obvious trinkets, but he does have a brand or scar that looks like an animal head with tusks, perhaps a boar.  It’s nothing that I recognize, though I am not well versed in the Uthgardt faiths.

I pull forth my holy symbol, a gnarled claw, and hold it up to his face, asking if he recognizes it.  The barbarian starts uttering guttural noises, an unintelligible language, and we’re unsure if he understands the common speech.  “If you understand me, nod,” I warn, “otherwise I’m going to spill your guts and let the scavengers have you.”  He growls back at me feebly, appearing not to understand or care.  Unwilling to torture our foe though also unwilling to let him live so that he might threaten the town, I slit his throat unceremoniously.  The barbarian has nothing else of value.  Zargon cuts off one of the ears as a token, and I nod to him in approval, as it was Zargon’s arrow that took the mighty warrior down.

Hoping to encounter more barbarians, we rest throughout the day and wait out another uneventful night.  We discuss potentially returning to Dagger’s Deep the next morning, but Audric advises that we stay one night more.  If the barbarian scout was due to return and his absence is noted, it’s possible that another party will be sent to investigate, granting us another opportunity to reduce their numbers.  

The sky is overcast and rain threatens, but the weather holds.  Zargon fortifies our camp with wooden stakes, hoping to slow any charge should our camp be attacked, and we wait out the day.  We set up for one final night, and this time Jakke is alerted much earlier in the evening, only an hour into the dark.

With my allies in the trees I call forth my abjurations, then return to the fire and wait.  Our foe is patient, however, never breaking cover to reveal himself, and this time—with the threat of perhaps dozens of barbarians in the night—I stay close to the fire, waiting.  No attack comes, though, and eventually dawn breaks.  As it does, the rain finally falls, so we hastily pack up our camp and return to Dagger’s Deep.  Having not rested well any of these nights, the return trip is exhausting, but we arrive safely to report our relative disappointment of the last couple evenings.

“What are your intentions now?” Perhegan asks, having heard our tale.  I tell him that I believe, were they to attack in force, that the barbarians could potentially overwhelm the town if we’re not here to defend.  We tell him that we intend to rest first, then convene to discuss plans for the coming days, but we assure him that we plan on remaining near Dagger’s Deep. 

We are awoken in the night by a disturbance in the forested hills to the east.  There is a crashing sound in the woods, as of huge branches breaking.  Audric calls out to several of the Dagger’s Deep folk who have also heard the commotion, commanding them to usher the women and children of the town into safety, sensing the coming assault.  We gather our gear immediately and rush to confront the threat, and I thank Malar silently for not making me wait too long for blood.  As we rush forward, a song issues from Zargon singing our praises, bolstering our spirits.

Audric sends Lume out ahead and she returns quickly, indicating a pair of threats that leave the familiar very agitated, and he sends her back to the camp for safety.  As we crest a small hill, we see two hulking ogres crashing through the trees.  They are over ten feet tall and they rush forth to meet us in battle.

I call out a blessing from the Beastlord for me and my allies, and next to me Selben’s eyes turn to opaque white then begin to glow red as he uses his magic to strike fear into the ogres, sapping their will to fight.  A pair of arrows from Zargon and Bonie strike one of the creatures as Audric summons glittering motes to blind them both.  Selben’s eyes pulse and the ogres drop their weapons, overtaken by fits of trembling, as Audric pulls out his wicked axe and clashes into melee.

Behind us, we see a brilliant flash of lightning to the west, and hear a crashing sound emanting from Dagger’s Deep.  I wave Selben off—we have the threat of the ogres handled, but he can potentially save someone from attackers amid the town.

Bonie draws her sword and she and Audric each strike one of the blinded ogres.  They are unable to raise an effective defense as Audric, Zargon and I rain blows down upon them, dropping them both in bloody heaps.  The excitement of the bloodlust and total victory fades quickly, however, as we race to back to the tents and witness a bloodbath. 

There are men, barbarians, bodies strewn about everywhere.  One tent looks blown away, reduced to nothing more than a small crater with scorch marks in a wide radius around where it once stood.  We see the robed and bearded barbarian waving his maul about, wreathed in some kind of magic as if in the midst of casting a spell.  There are nearly as many men fallen as there are alive.  It’s impossible to tell who is winning, as bodies litter the field.

Selben’s eyes flash again as he uses another spell to cause a barbarian to flee in panic.  There is a surge from the warriors and folk of Dagger’s Deep, as they fight desperately to protect their village, and they strike down several barbarians with picks, hammers and improvised weapons, fighting truly heroically.  We witness as Weald, seemingly paralyzed, is decapitated by a barbarian warrior. 

The barbarian shaman swings his maul at one of the townsfolk and crushes his head with the weapon, killing him instantly—between his mighty maul and the spells he has brought to bear against Dagger’s Deep, he is the biggest threat and I roar out a challenge as we rush to join the fray.  I call out my own spell to bind and paralyze him as an arrow of arcane acid spurts past me from Zargon, striking the shaman just as my spell takes effect, his form going rigid.

I race forward, ignoring the acid from Zargon’s spell, and charge the shaman, knocking his paralyzed form to the ground and leaping upon him.  I can see his face under his cowl—he looks middle-aged, muscular, his beard streaked with gray, and a necklace with a pendant bearing a bolt of lightning around his neck.  I can see the recognition of his pending doom in his eyes as, howling like a wolf, I tear out his throat with my teeth.

Audric and Zargon charge into melee with the remaining foes as the tide turns against the invaders.  The men of Dagger’s Deep rally around them, converging on any barbarians that remain, dragging them to the ground and pummeling them until they are dead.

As we survey the aftermath, surrounded by dead and wounded, friend and foe alike, my mind turns to Perhegan and Pol Rallinoth.  Victory or no, without Perhegan’s vision and leadership, Dagger’s Deep might not survive.  Breathing a sigh of relief, we see Perhegan helping some of the townsfolk to their feet, but the militia captain is nowhere to be found.  Not wanting to let anyone die that is within our power to save, Audric and I administer what magical healing we have to those most in need, reviving a few townsfolk who would otherwise have died from their grievous wounds.

As for Pol Rallinoth, we learn that the barbarian shaman commanded bolts of lightning from the storm, and used them to strike him down, incinerating the captain of the Dagger’s Deep guard.  A smoking crater is all that remains of the brave warrior.  Taking toll of the fallen, we count a dozen dead among the barbarians, as well as their shaman leader and the two ogres.  As for Dagger’s Deep, while there are dozens wounded, only six men were lost, including Pol Rallinoth.  We learn with sadness that Laerch, Odesia’s husband, is among those killed in the struggle, leaving Odesia to bear a fatherless child. 

Though the battle for Dagger’s Deep is won, recovery will be long and the town’s survival seems uncertain.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Roster of Dagger's Deep

Following is a list of all inhabitants of Dagger's Deep as of the fifth month (Mirtul), 1255 DR, in the aftermath of the battle with the Stormlord.

EDIT: Updated 3/12/2020

* = Revived from death's door
† = Brought by party from Mirabar (11 total)

Classed or warrior caliber (7):
  1. Perhegan Mercantor - founder and general
  2. Renwal Whitefoot - resident mage
  3. Kallevir - militia captain (newly appointed)
  4. Militia
  5. Militia
  6. Militia*
  7. Abram - cleric of Gond
Laborers (17):
  1. Tarrsh - blacksmith
  2. Ailbeart Stonehand - stonemason*
  3. Cormag Stonehand - stonemason
  4. Greer Stonehand - stonemason
  5. Hunter/trapper
  6. Hunter/trapper
  7. Fisher
  8. Carpenter
  9. Cobbler
  10. Scribe
  11. Teamster
  12. Trader
  13. Male (unskilled, expectant father)
  14. Male (unskilled)*
  15. Fisher†
  16. Male (unskilled)†
  17. Youth (M, age 13, stonemason's apprentice)†
Other residents (23):
  1. Edine - Perhegan's daughter (age 17)
  2. Senga - domestic overseer
  3. Herbalist
  4. Midwife
  5. Seamstress
  6. Female (unskilled, expectant mother)
  7. Female (unskilled)
  8. Female (unskilled)
  9. Female (unskilled)
  10. Female (unskilled)
  11. Youth (M, age 7)
  12. Youth (F, age 11)
  13. Youth (F, age 6)
  14. Youth (F, age 6)
  15. Odesia - visitor from Mirabar
  16. Young Laerch - Odesia's son (M, infant)
  17. Seirsha†
  18. Seamstress
  19. Female (unskilled)
  20. Female (unskilled)
  21. Youth (M, age 8)
  22. Youth (M, age 2)
  23. Youth (F, age 10)
Slain in combat (8):
  1. Pol Rallinoth - militia captain (killed by lightning)
  2. Weald - militia (killed by decapitation)
  3. Hunter/trapper (spiked to tree)
  4. Tanner
  5. Wastrel/gambler
  6. Male (unskilled)
  7. Male (unskilled)
  8. Laerch - visitor from Mirabar
Missing/unaccounted for (1):
  1. Briegs - goblin

Monday, October 21, 2019

Planning under duress

Today, Sean and I talked about how the party's preparations should be managed during the next session. In situations like these, it's easy for the group to deliberate logistics until the night is almost over by the time everyone is ready to act. For tomorrow, I'd like to try something different:

  • I'll start a timer when the session formally begins. Every ten minutes of real time will constitute a full game day of planning.
  • After each ten-minute period, a night will pass in Dagger's Deep, along with any advancements in the surrounds.
  • The timer will pause during any events not initiated by the PCs and other breaks.

While the above might seem heavy-handed, it should definitely keep the pace of the game moving. It's also worth considering that, during the course of an actual day in the game world, there likely are many matters to which the PCs must attend. Even locating and arranging a simple conversation with a specific third party (Pol Rallinoth, for example) may take the better part of an hour, if not more. At any point in the day, Audric may be tending the Mystran/Malaran shrine while Zeb is ensuring the safety of a departing hunter while Zargon is searching for damsels to impregnate. In short, that ten minutes of three players talking at the game table may take their actual characters substantially longer in the campaign world.

The above approach should put pressure on the party to make decisions quickly without forcing a hard stop. The players still retain agency to continue refining their plans as long as desired, albeit with heightened tension that something may interrupt them before they're ready.

In any case, I'd like to go ahead and try this out for a night. We can always reevaluate if a similar situation arises in the future. Anyone have thoughts or concerns?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

#29: Home Sweet Home

Despite the turmoil of the last few nights, as we watch the keravela camp come to life in the morning we experience an almost surreal sense of calm.  The village awakens on a chill spring morning, and we gather around our bonfire to share our thoughts on the reading, on our current situation, and on our path for the future.

Now that my course no longer feels compelled by any reading from Kezia, we are presented with a rare choice among several paths, all worthy in one way or the other.  The keravela seem like they could certainly benefit from our aid, given the increased activity of the river creatures, but given our feelings regarding the reading, it doesn’t seem like the best fit.  Audric had expressed a desire at one point to choose a direction, likely south, and abandon the North and all its problems to pursue a new, unknown future.  That too, however, lacks appeal as we have developed relationships in Dagger’s Deep.

For now, it seems like Dagger’s Deep is the most reasonable course of action, and from there we can reassess our options.  Audric seems more serene than ever, having also been freed of the burden of the ring, and is looking forward to pursuing a new legacy.

Odesia and Laerch are content with our decision, especially as no love seems lost between Odesia and the keravela tribes.  Before we can plan any further, however, our camp is approached by Danior.  His manner is gruff and direct, as is his nature, and he asks where Kezia is, explaining that she was not in her tents this morning.  He sniffs the air, an animal gesture, and narrows his eyes, then stalks back to the village.

In a moment of quiet, Audric approaches and inquires about Danior.  Knowing that I have entertained thoughts of giving into the more savage parts of my nature, and also knowing my history with Carcerus, Audric has made assumptions about what kind of creature Danior might be and the appeal that might hold for me.

It is, admittedly, an appealing path and one that I have given more than a little thought to, but the winter at Dagger’s Deep did much to change my perspective, cemented by the recent conversation around the bonfire with Audric, Bonie and Selben.  Giving in to that temptation would almost certainly mean staying in the valley among the tribes longer and would jeopardize the relationships built with Selben and Bonie, and perhaps even my bond with Audric.  It is not a risk that I am willing to take.

Having to pass through the village by necessity to start along our return to Dagger’s Deep, we stumble into the old witch Masilda and Danior, who are sharing words in their native, unintelligible tongue.   “You must follow her,” Masilda commands in the common tongue, looking at us, though before we can react, she turns her head, redirecting the words to Danior.  The hairy man grunts impatiently and stalks off again.

Steadfast in our decision to head back towards Dagger’s Deep, we approach Masilda.  “We’ll keep an eye out for her on the north bank as we return downriver,” I tell her, as Danior disappears towards the bank.  Masilda’s face is unreadable, though before she can pass any judgment on our intention, he returns.

“One of the boats is gone,” he says to Masilda.  “You remember what happened last time.  She almost didn’t return.”  She makes no response, her face expressionless.

“She will return,” Masilda says quietly after a long period of silence, “but they will not.”  Those words, foreboding, are for us.  Having spoken our piece to Masilda and possessed of no meaningful words for anyone else in the keravela camp, we turn our backs on their plight and depart, planning for the journey ahead.

We spend the morning in travel along the south bank of the river, and a light rain sets in, punctuating the general sense of miserableness.  Miserableness with a purpose, but miserable nonetheless.  Odesia seems particularly discomforted, the strain of her late-term pregnancy combined with the rough trails is wearing on her.  Our going is slow.

Our intention is to bypass Odesia’s village, not wanting to force another confrontation with those who clearly have no desire to speak with her.  When Laerch expresses concern over keeping her safe and warm, I share a minor blessing to soothe her discomfort and provide some defense against the chill. 

Knowing that starting a fire will be difficult given the constant rain, Audric, Selben and I decide to make a quick patrol of the woods around the camp in hopes of finding some dry timber.  Though we don’t find a cave or anything that would provide shelter, Selben stumbles upon a small stockpile of dry wood, enough to start a small fire and build it into something more substantial.  The night passes uneventfully, and morning comes.

Odesia knows the land around her village well, and we plan to make a wide circuit around it to avoid any potential encounter.  She seems excited about the prospect of resting in the boat as opposed to walking, and we have a slight bounce to our step as we approach where we left the vessel in cover.

Audric recognizes the markings he made with his axe, and we find the brush patch that hides our overturned boat.  The sun climbing, we approach within 50 feet or so when Jakke begins to growl, fur standing up and teeth bared.  As I’m the best protection for Odesia, Audric and Bonie begin to approach the brush patch.  There are no evident signs of disturbance.  Audric whispers a prayer to Mystra to discern any magical presence and, finding none, steps forward to approach with Bonie providing cover.

Audric begins pulling the brush aside and hoists the boat up to turn it right.  Though heavy, Audric’s might proves sufficient, and it tips over with a heavy crash.  Underneath the boat is a corpse, and we recognize it as Vadoma, the keravela that met with Odesia our first night outside their village.  A dirk is buried in her chest.

Audric hails me and I approach, taking in the scene.  “Get the boat into the water,” I tell Audric and Bonie, then I return to Odesia, Laerch and Daegahr, sending Selben over to assist with the vessel.  To answer their confusion, I tell them, “Someone left us a message, we are not welcome here.  We need to go.  Now.”  They ask again, but I make it apparent that my words are an order, not a request, and that everyone’s safety is at stake.

They are obviously curious and concerned but follow my directions.  With some struggle, Selben, Bonie and Audric get the boat into the water, and I redirect Laerch, Odesia and Daegahr towards the water, hoping to avoid having Odesia spot Vadoma.  Everyone piles into the riverboat, and we put as much distance as we can between us and the village before telling Odesia what happened.

As expected, Odesia erupts into hysterics.  Laerch and Daegahr seem to respect my decision, knowing that it was for the best.  My hope is that we can row as well as benefit from the current, so that we may reach Dagger’s Deep as quickly as possible, to the extent that Daegahr thinks it safe.  Odesia spends the day quiet, in a state of shock.  Bonie does what she can to comfort her but to little effect, while we alternate manning the oars and watching the banks of the river for threats. 

We row into the darkness of night before finally seeing the fires of Dagger’s Deep, and we push forward with haste.  Calls acknowledge our approach and we run the boat onto the beach, Audric and Daegahr jumping out to pull the craft aground. 

A party approaches with torches lit, and our hearts sink for a moment as we fear it to be a group of Mirabarran guards led by Rale Cotchen, but it’s only a trick of the torchlight and instead Pol Rallinoth, the captain of Dagger’s Deep’s guard, appears and we are welcomed as friends.

We make immediate arrangements for Odesia’s care, a warm meal and comfortable tent, before seeing to our own needs.  Pol Rallinoth states that he has news but that it can wait until the morning, so I respond that we have stories of our own and that he might want to add an extra guard or two to the watch.

We rise late, having been completely exhausted from the previous day’s exertions.  Dagger’s Deep is already alive with activity, and it appears that not much has changed in the last week.  More than anything, though, I feel a sense of relief at being someplace that feels like home, as opposed to spending nights in the rough mud along the riverbank.

We share an abridged version of our tale, not wanting to divulge too many secrets without good reason, and I warn Pol Rallinoth, “If by some means a large, hairy, angry-looking man shows up looking for us, do not get in his way.” 

He informs us that Perhegan and Renwal have not yet returned, but that he expects their return soon.  He also shares that he has dire news, something that unfolded within the last two days.  One of their men, Naered, was found dead—pinned to a giant oak tree with iron spikes.  His description immediately calls forth memories of the body we found while patrolling outside Xantharl’s Keep of the future.  It sounds similar enough that it might not be coincidence.  Pol Rallinoth has never heard of such a grisly method of torture, but also knows that the Lurkwood is full of creatures—and men—capable of such violence.

A group was dispatched to investigate as far as the ogre’s cave, and they are expected back today.  I ask if we might be able to meet them halfway and speed their return, but Pol explains that the encounter would be unlikely, and that we’re better off adding to the town’s defense.  We assent, and he is thankful for the extra hands.

Asking after Odesia, Bonie explains that she is not doing well—more the betrayal of her family and village, the murder of her friend more than any physical wounds or discomfort, which is completely understandable.  The shock and grief over the death of Vadoma combined with superstition and the physical toll of the journey is a powerful combination.  I ask Laerch of his plans, and if there is anything that we can do—he doesn’t think it’s safe to move her, so it seems as if they may be spending at least a few days in Dagger’s Deep.  I settle his concerns, making sure he understands that they can stay indefinitely, and that I will cover any expense.

We spend the day busying ourselves around the keep, and as the sun sets and light wanes, a call goes up heralding the return of four men from their excursion into the Lurkwood.  We hang about waiting for news, and our eavesdropping reveals that they took a wide patrol, wider than those used by the hunters, to return to the ogre cave.  They did not find ogres, but they did discover a gathering of savage men bearing crude weapons and axes, covered in gruesome scars and tattered hides. 

Barbarians are not uncommon, but what struck the men was that the barbarians were seemingly being led by a man wearing a black robe, with thick, graying beard, who spoke with a booming voice in a foreign tongue.  The man wielded an extremely large hooked maul.

Imaginations run wild
“How many?” I ask.  Though the men didn’t linger and risk discovery, they report at least a dozen, perhaps as many as twenty.  No women or children were among them, at least none that could be seen.  Having spent many winters among the beast cults in Icewind Dale, my heart begins to race, an excitement or bloodlust that I haven’t felt for some time, along with a new sense of purpose.  Such a large band of barbarians is a major threat to a settlement like Dagger’s Deep, a threat to my friends—a threat that must be dealt with. 

As I imagine myself cutting down the barbarian leader, I’m reminded of Korvich, and of the taste of the man’s blood as it sprayed my face while I cut out his tongue.  Savagery must be met with savagery, and I being to ready myself mentally for the coming Hunt.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

XP awards for sessions 24-28

At this point we've gone five sessions without XP, and the most recent comments position the group such that the keravela camp can be considered a safe haven for the time being. As such, here's what the party has attained since the mine at Xantharl's Keep:

  • Chasing off the wyvern near Minstrel's Glade - 700
  • Felling three ogres in the northern Lurkwood - 810
  • Spoils from the ogre cave (potions, gems, and coins) - 1,000
  • Story award for diffusing the situation with Captain Rale at Dagger's Deep (Audric and Zeb only) - 1,000
  • Defeating the fish creatures along the riverbank - 2,000
  • Succeeding Kezia's tarokka test (second try) - 1,000
  • Story award for protecting the lives of Odesia, Laerch, and Daegahr on the journey upriver - 5,000
Having a larger party is an adjustment in many ways, and also affects experience shares. The above 10,010 points are divided four ways, with one share each awarded to Audric, Zeb, and Zargon, and a half-share each to Bonie and Selben. Audric and Zeb also receive 500 XP each for the session that Zargon missed (and during which the NPCs were largely irrelevant). After all bonuses and additions, the party totals stand as follows.
  • Audric - 10,403
  • Zeb - 3,000/32,698
  • Zargon - 7,503 
  • Selben (h) - 6,851
No new levels are gained, so no consideration needs to be given to training at this time.