Introduction Text for Players:
“For the last month, strange things have been happening. You aren’t sure you’re actually seeing them, since most everyone else doesn’t notice. They’re little things, a murder of crows making a series of sharp turns for no reason, a cloud turning storm-black for only a moment. A strange whistle on the wind. You can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong, but you can’t define it. Just about everyone you speak to doesn’t understand what you’re talking about, it’s just an average spring.
Yesterday, on your way about your business you found yourself walking alone. You suddenly smelled garlic on the air, and pine sap. There was a clattering noise nearby, but you didn’t see anything. It ceased quickly. There was nothing around. You haven’t slept well in days.
This morning, once again, you wake hours before dawn; you couldn’t fall asleep last night, but you’re none-the-less wide awake now, well before any of your family or neighbors. Thunder rolls in the distance and the smell of rain wisps through the window. To your confusion, the stars are crystal clear outside, barely a thread of clouds floats on the horizon. No one has any answers, and your frustration is mounting.
The sea is angry, you can hear the surf crashing, but there’s barely a wind. Looking out over the gray crests, you notice a light in the distance. Another few moments and you realize it’s a ship, blinking “distress” with her lanterns. That’s very strange; she’s far out to sea, directly east. Most ships come from the north or south, closer ashore; except for the local fisherman, but they don’t stay out after dark, most of them don’t even have lanterns. Is it another trick of the eye?
You dress and run outside, but you can’t see the flashing anymore…"
Each of the characters is living their own life; whether that means they’re a fisherman from Kardam, or a half-orc hunter from the harsh northern tundras. Whatever their station, fortune, relations, or profession they all begin to have a “feeling”, unexplainable tricks of the eye and gut-feelings that something is going to happen, something bad. No one around them or in their lives seems to share these experiences. They cannot find help explaining them from leaders, mentors, religious figures, even direct prayer. The best any of these authorities might be able to afford is that the characters need to step-back and take a break or, alternatively, follow their instincts. This will largely depend on their cultural backg
round. Obviously, the more superstitious cultures of the Tundra would be inclined to follow these portents, with people around them both fearing and waiting on the next thing the character says.
Alternately, a Kard horsemaster would be more likely to assume the character is under some sort of extreme stress and try to get the character to take a week off, travel, and get their head right.
The characters themselves have been dealing with the insomnia, the seeming hallucinations, the strangeness for weeks. They’re frustrated, on edge, and their performance, personal grooming, or health might be weakening. All things that their companions, family, and workmates would likely be noticing. Again, different cultures will have different responses, as appropriate.
As we begin, the mind-tricks have increased to a level of realism that’s genuinely disturbing. The first morning, they all wake in their usual, perturbed fashion and get out of bed at the sound of rolling thunder. The sky is clear. Once again, they return to their beds, but this time another surprise is waiting.
Their sheets, furs, or the grass under them as they slept, is tousled and matted as it usually is. However, this time the wrinkles and depressions look like a map. As they stare at it, the map becomes clearer. Once they’ve had a minute or two to absorb the information, hundreds of insects (bed-bugs, worms/beetles, spiders, centipedes, etc,) begin errueruptingm beneath the sheets/grass/furs and spreading across the bed/ground. After about a minute, the room/area returns completely to normal, with nothing amiss aside from whatever the character did in response to the bug-eruption.
The map will stick in their mind. Even if they don’t normally remember maps well, they’ll be able to recall it in detail. Until they leave, every time they lay down at night they’ll have ‘creepy crawlies’. When they sit down for meals, they’ll feel ‘creepy crawlies’. When they start to walk down the road in the direction the map seems to lead, the feeling of foreboding will abate somewhat. This could be as simple as the sun coming out, a fresh breeze, or some other portent of good luck. . As soon as they deviate from that path, the foreboding will return
Once they begin traveling along the path set out before them on the map, they will continue to feel better. They’ll be able to sleep through the night for first time in weeks, although they will still wake early. Nothing more will be revealed to them, regardless of how hard they pray or how much they do. It’s worth mentioning that the feeling isn’t a ‘pull’ or a ‘call’. They just feel like something’s wrong if they aren’t moving in the right direction.
Deldund was stumbling through the Algranor foothills in his search for Gardal Hammerfell, the traitorous dwarf who helped massacre his clan and flood Mountain’s Gate Hold with dwarven blood. As he walks the tradeways, blind but for the permanent gift of detect alignment bestowed by Moradin upon him, Deldun feels greet winds bending the trees to reach down to him. He boards a ferry, and is nearly drowned when a wave of water descends the river, carrying him downstream on the spinning raft, smashing him against the rocks. He manages to pull himself ashore and find a travelling merchant. The merchant has a map, and casting trueseeing allows the dwarf to “see” the map’s lines. While the merchant is explaining where they are, albeit dubious that the crazy-looking dwarf can actually see the map, a bee lands on the parchment and begins to stab its stinger furiously into a southern port. Desperate for any sign from Moradin as to where he should go, the dwarven cleric seizes upon the message…
Luke was riding guard for a caravan of pilgrims from Eere Dal. The highland winds blew grasses strongly south, but only he appeared to notice. After awaking to see the strange blinking out to sea over the sea cliffs, he noticed the map in the grass as explained above…
Hobbes was taking his business partners and wagon along the roads from Sandwatch into southern Osil when a butterfly landed upon his map, in a precise location. His gnomish proding could not budge the bug, it insisted on the spot before flying southeast. The next day he parted ways with his company, desperate to appease whatever nagging premonition consumed his subconscious…
Neema was stalking her jungle home in solitude, as is her way. She shot a monkey from a tree for her evening meal, and upon finding it, noticed its blood running across the ground in rivulets that formed a map. A rhinocerous beetle ambled its way to a stone, a place on the blood-map, and began to turn about in circles. When she told her Shaman of the incident, seeking guidance from the ancestors, Neema was told to follow the signs of such obvious direction. And so she did, braving to leave the murderous shelter and shadow of the Jungle for a cold, unfamiliar world that bore a very different kind of hositility toward her…
The following are unedited campaign notes, copied from my shorthand, in-game Excel ledger up to this point in the game. Starting with this week’s session, the adventure log will be properly presented in full-english, albeit still in brief summary
All of them arrive in the hamlet of Wyndor, part of Theynehold in the central Kard coast. The community is excited for visitors, and opens their homes; though they are completely unware of what brought these newcommers here.
Neema last to arrive in Wyndor; distrusting of everyone, she hides in a massive tree on the cliff’s edge, where her inner “compass” had drawn her. Hobbes spots her, attempts to reveal subtly w/ mage hand. Fails. Surprises her, she shoots him as readied action from hiding. Luke and Deldund calm situation, all discover they share the strange feelings/nightmares/visions.
Night of the storm at Wyndor, Shipwrecking Nimseo Borlin. Sinkhole “window” through the cliff near their tree “shows” PCs Nimseo’s drifting body. Neema immediately climbs down, swims out. Luke & Hobbes get rope/wake Deldund. Neema struggles, is beaten in surf. Others throw rope from cliff top to her, eventually pulling her up along with Nimseo, unconscious. PCs bring Nimseo to temple.
Nimseo awakes, confused & demanding they help him rescue his crewmates, also concerned about the ‘cask’. The party helps him get out to sea (Neema leads to fishing boats), and they go to the shipwreck. The PCs see a strange taint in the water, looks like blood, in a wake heading north. No one else on the fishing boats sees it, but when they spot a sail in the distance, weaving through the stone pillars, the crewmen confirm it. At around the same time, Nimseo spots the wreck. With potential survivors in the water, they all decide to go to the wreck. The distant ship is too far for them to catch it. They go to the wreck, retrieve survivors, and search for Nimseo’s lost cask and his friend Lought. Finding neither, they all return to the fishermen’s landing; along the way learning from survivors that pirates attacked the ship and captured the captain and some other survivors.
The party assists the people of Wyndor in caring for the wounded sailors (Hobbes: tinctures, Deldund: healing, Neema & Luke: general aid). After dinner, Neema goes out to Tree while Hobbes entertains, Luke & Deldund speak with townsfolk. Neema spots strange web in chute made day before, notices same pattern in the web as was on a recent page in the journal found on Nimseo that Hobbes mended. Pattern disappears quickly, another figment. She searches for spiders in the area, finding none. Deldund goes out toward tree, Neema tells him of web, he sees a whispy pattern, with faintest of evil traces. Fetching Luke, they investigate further. Luke goes down into chute, seeing pattern in web before it disappears again, and tries touching web. He is attacked by abyssal spider, and falls from cliff, breaking a rib. Neema helps him kill spider, quickly climbing down. Hobbes hears the scream of Luke falling, and comes out to help, Neema fetches Priest of Gelnor to assist, Luke is patched up, but rib still hurts. They burn the spider’s corpse, identifying it only as evil & extraplanar. Nimseo, when they return from cliffs, speaks to them about Bajan the pirate, and asks them to help find him and rescue Lought & the cask, which has a box inside with the pattern they’ve seen in the web on the top. He’s heading to Theynehold, and asks them to join him. They agree.
PCs join Nimseo and a handful of riders from Wyndor in traveling to Theynehold. They arrive that evening, on the eve of Festival, a major Kard holiday. Nimseo splits off, apparently speaking to townsfolk. Hobbes goes to marketplace to set-up wagon, then assists Luke in shopping. Neema window-shops, curious and disturbed by northern commerce. Deldund speaks with locals, unintentionally with Bloodmasters (breeders for the King’s Stables). He learns details of Bajan & hideout, and of Pogarn, a Ridge Rider who can help them find the caves. That night, with trouble sleeping, all PCs (at different times) wake and go outside finding a column of rats scurrying by with tails erect. Hobbes, Neema, and Luke follow, Deldund goes back to bed. Hobbes & Luke were up first, and follow rat column to alley by bakery. Neema winds up there, too. Rats run under crates of grain, they investigate crates and find a Scope, Snorkel, & Grappling hook inside. Nightwatch stumbles across them vandalising crates and when PCs try to explain, the items found have turned into sticks & flash. Neema hides quickly, but Hobbes & Luke are arrested. In jail. To Luke’s dismay, Hobbes escapes cell, rearranges watch offices, and returns to cell. Hobbes also messes with unconcious prisoners, one of which catches him, punches him, chases him and begins swinging at Luke. Luke knocks him out.
Neema tells Deldund that Hobbes & Luke arrested. They go to get them released, fine is 50 karn(gp) or they can work in the stables for the day. Hobbes charms watchman, reducing fine to 35 karn. Fine is paid. Neema & Hobbes investigate the bakery and storehouse (which turns out to be a mill as well), and find nothing out of the ordinary (but they are occupied buildings and they can’t search them). Festival Parade and events are watched, Deldund speaks with Bloodmasters again about meeting Pogarn later that evening, they arrange it. Nimseo is absent, trying to speak with the Horselord Ashon Theyne.
Depart Theynehold w/ Pogarn + 4 Ridge Riders in search of Bajan’s hidden bay. Kards cannot attack without due cause, cannot invade Bajan’s hideout due to political complexities of Theyne’s court.
Lukas stumbles upon the inlet, Party makes camp several miles away to avoid discovery. Neema & Hobbes scout after dark. Lookout is alerted, Neema attempts to leap across inlet to silence him, fails and falls to water below. Hobbes attempts to silence lookout himself, fails, and lookout leaps off cliff into water below with Neema. Neema subdues him, and swims with him to lifts at end of inlet. Climbs lift ropes, pursued by rest of pirate watch. Cuts ropes at top, destroying lift. Takes prisoner back to camp
Prisoner pirate interrogated. Tells of secret entrance to inlet in exchange for freedom. Luke alters deal to not turning him in for piracy, but for hooliganism. He can’t just go free. 1 ridgerider brings him to Theynehold. Party searches for and finds secret entrance. Progressing down it, battle with a Shadow. Nimseo uses Swan Boat token at bottom to escape, Hobbes sets off firetrap at bottom. Party approaches pirate hideout. Nimseo and Hobbes negotiated with Pirate Lieutenant about Lought’s ransom, while Deldund & Luke, severely weakned by shadow battle, remain in boat. A price is agreed (4000 gp) and party leaves, boat disappears. They have 4 days to bring payment to ceremony grounds.
Nimseo returns from Theynehold trip w/ Lought’s ransom. Pogarn, Nimseo, Deldund, & Luke depart for ceremony ground for exchange. Hobbes & Neema return to hideout, intending to free prisoners in exchange for Neema, or foment uprising in camp. Bring Ridgeriders along in event prisoners can tell them that they are being held against their will as slaves, which arguably allows RRs to identify Bajan as a threat to the hold and assist. The exchange goes smoothly until Lought is woken, rages and attacks pirates. Panicked, pirates attack Deldund, Nimseo, and Luke. There are only five or six, and Party fraction kills 4, captures lieutenant. Meanwhile, Hobbes and Neema enter hideout, attempt to trade prisoners of Neema, but fail. Decide to attack and foment prisoner revolt. Attempt fails, Neema is nearly killed and Hobbes is captured by pirates. Neema returns to camp, Hobbes is chained w/ prisoners. Paladins & Nimseo return w/ prisoner, who they then send along to Theynehold. With Hobbes now captured, mission turns more imediate.
Over night, Hobbes frees self, and fellow prisoners. Hatches plan for 1/2 to break for it w/ the wounded, and 1/2 to take the Sea Serpent. He assists with taking of Sea Serpent, but is forced to flee into water after losing fight with pirates in camp. 1/2 escape w/ wounded prisoners up the secret entrance. Other half is killed or recaptured, failing heist as Hobbes hides on the anchor chain of the ship until dawn. Midday, he hallucinates summoning a celestial hawk to attack watch captain, then has to change hiding place to below stern, in the water. At dawn, RRs and party search for alternate point to access water line, as pirates must have used some way other than lift to get to the exchange site. They find a small beach cove w/ switchback path about five miles north of the inlet, they return to camp, as this doesn’t offer them a good way of getting at the camp unseen or in any condition to battle their way in if necessary. Midday, escaped prisoner makes it to PC camp, explains events. Captain is near dead, Deldund temporarily stabalizes him, Nimseo volunteers to ride him to Theynehold for critical further treatment. Other wounded are treated, and plan to rescue Hobbes and other survivors is hasitly made. Party + Lought approaches inlet. Neema remains on cliff to take-out lookouts while Lought, Deldund, and Luke jump off cliff into water to assault Sea Serpent and burnt pirate camp. Neema is forced to swim to rescue as Palladins nearly drown, Hobbes is able to swim to relative safety of the secret entrance. Lought makes it onto Sea Serpent, after setting it alight w/ Hobbes’s grease. Luke & Deldund make it ashore in camp and begin fighting. Lought is beset by pirates after they extinguish the deck fires. Pirates swarm to repell assault. RR’s standby a mile or so from the inlet. Bajan is killed, pirates retreat in Sea Serpent out to sea. Bajan’s chamber looted, Hobbes dyed with itching-powder by a trap. They find the Kenoran Box, a creepy dagger of Veccna, and other valuable art pieces and weapons; along with a lot of coin.
Later, Lought takes Kenoran box, becomes somehow enchanted, and runs for it after throwing down thunderstone and deafening Neema. Party pursues, Neema kills him. Much confusion, Pogarn & RR’s didn’t see whole incident.
Right & Wrong
Nimseo returns to party from taking injured captain to Theynehold. Goes nuts upon hearing of Lought’s demise. Blames Neema entirely. Demands his property. Party convinces Pogarn to let them talk Neema into cooperating with trial rather than forcible arrest.
Return to Theynehold, Neema placed in jail, trial set for two days. Party gathers intel on advisors and how legal system works. Nims refuses to associate with them.
Trial begins, arguments made by Hobbes, Luke, & Deldund; box discussed, Horselord decides to encase in Lead, dump in blue water. Process begins. 1 of Horselord’s advisors wants to keep box for bargaining with whatever dark power may come for it.
Overnight, Neema makes a deal with a “voice”: a favor, to be determined, for her guaranteed freedom. The verdict comes down: exile and branding. It’s carried out quickly.
As lead block cools, Deldund & Hobbes guard it. Nims approaches, enraged, and demands his property. He storms off, convincing Horselord to let him escort box to port town of Dalda nearby for disposal. Party nips that in the bud by stealing away in the night with the lead block. Head south towards Neema’s home and South Landing in search of answers (and old friends).
Overnight, they’re ambushed by theives. Two killed, three captured. Major justice debate ensues, Luke wins and takes two back. One (Quarl Whipsman) makes a deal under duress with Hobbes to serve him for at most a year or two..
Party, having travelled south, encounters Kard military patrols as they approach the border. They claim to be searching for rare alchemical reagents, with Lucas as leader. They are allowed to pass, even Neema (their ‘guide’), but warned that Southlanders don’t ask questions first.
Party reaches South Landing, the first major city of the South Lands after the Dagger Coast, and thus the most bustling in world culture and trade. They search for signs of Hammerfel, reagents, and likely ways to take the box into the jungle forever. Hammerfell was here, about a month ago, and took a large group of mercenaries with him into the deep jungle, he hasn’t returned and no one is quite sure where he went. He was apparently pretty good at keeping that hidden (a difficult task given the city is filled with treasure hunters, and treasure thieves).
The party purchases several capybaras to transport the box (now removed from lead) and their supplies through the dense jungle, while stabbling the horses and wagon with the livestock vendor. They’re going to leave Quarl with the wagon (he’s been poisoned by Hobbes’s long-term toxin, which requires regular doses of his antidote. Hobbes believes this will keep him in line). Deldund asks around about Hammerfel, turns up little other than he was here & left a month ago. Luke heals sick in missionary, Neema stays near Hobbes to avoid arrest. At end of day, Luke finds mystery note, they meet Cocolongo at turtle pits, agree to his offer, get him drunk enough to tell truth about his brother Jajey. O/N in town.
Welcome to My Home
Party starts off towards Cathar village, 50 mi away @ 10mi/day through jungle. End of day 1, attacked by Giant Frilled Lizard, scare it off, but not before significant harm to Luke. Rest of night uneventful aside from large animal noises below them.
pre-dawn, swarm of big mosquitos attacks Luke, drawn by the bloodscent.
Transit jungle, pass through territories of Raybolt, Chi-gar, Ahkigot, and Green Claw without incident, bypassed Moon Eater zone, although something whisked through the trees of their camp one night. Noticed a Shadow Monkey (the smoke monkey) observing them, tried to get a reaction out of it (Hobbes tossed stones and spokein tongues) but it did nothing but stare. Almost attacked by a sweet corpseflower plant, but Hobbes scared it off with a fire bomb.
Arrive Cathar village. Chieftain Kesh is visibly displeased, but allows them in on insistance from the shamans. Shamans already knew they were coming, begin ritual immediately to determine a solution to the “voice” and the deal it struck with Neema. They determine that the voice is a Gigi, an imposter spirit that make themselves seem like ancestors. They cannot defeat them, but they believe a powerful ancestor spirit could. They invoke the summoning, using Neema the Weapon as a vessel for the spirit. The ancestor appears (female cathar, tiger skull, warpaint, bone-covered spear) and she flashes a powerful aura before being sucked into the open wounds on Neema’s palms. The aura disappears inside of Neema’s, which Deldund finds disturbing. Next they discuss the kenoran box, which they can tell nothing more about. The veccna blade is determined to have a draconic activation phrase, it requires blood to be spilt upon the blade to read it. Hobbes just so happens to have a couple of jarred giant mosquitos, he bursts one and spreads the bloodmeal on the blade. then He reads the draconic inscription, an idiom for peering beyond the veil of death. The blade glows a dull crimson, and the small skull begins to whisper on it the hilt. He can just barely make out the voice of Bajan, who’se ghost has been manifesting in the hut with Hobbes. The shamans and Deldund/Luke determine that the blade can be used to speak with the soul of a dead victim who has not yet had final rites performed. Deldund is disturbed by this. The shamans are insistant that this weapon found the Weapon, and that Neema should keep the dagger. They view it as a gift fromt the ancestors to their tribe. They want Neema to go out and continue to follow the ancestors guidance, and to find a way to defeat this Gigi, as tribal honor demands.
Hobbes attempts to steal gold necklace from one the old cathar…which goes predictably. They chase him out of the village. This is a blow to Neema’s reputation, she is angry. She knows her tribe expects her to kill the gnome now. As the party leaves the village in uneasy silence, they start southward, following Cocolongo’s amulet toward Jajey, and, hopefully, Hammerfel. A ways into the trip, Hobbes rejoins them. Neema, very angry, yells at him. The tension between them bubbles over into a violent fight, throwing bombs and arrows. Luke and Delldund break it up, are now equally pissed. Cocolongo wonders what the hell he got himself into…so do they capybaras, who’ve been getting picked-off one by one by night predators throughout trip.
Party moves into Green Claw Kobold territory and begin stumbling into traps. Hobbes is caught in a few, at one point party needs to lift huge log off of him. Party is attacked by a Giant Stick Bug, they scare it off before it eats the gnome. Bugs pester mercilessly. Jungle seems to be fighting over which part gets to eat the party. Their prayers go unanswered lately….Morale is low and getting lower.