In which our protagonists are searching for clues, and come to rethink their investigating career, (as does the DM)
"Dream a little dream of me..."
SpoilerThe party makes camp, and assign guards. one die roll later the DM smiles and looks at me with a happy grin. Lynn has a nightmare, a strange one- she hangs around in the grove, there is less snow, but it's dark. it's a bit hard to move, like in slow motion. sh enters a village of halflings, like in the mission where she... disobeyed orders. she sees a gnome and a halfling running away from her. desperately she gives chase.
she keeps feeling as if there is some one behind her. while running agonizingly slwoly after the two she sneaks looks around, but whatever it is, it's just outof sight. but she knows it's there. she reaches the two figures, who turn around "why did you fail us?" they say, just before they die.
that something in the dark reaches her, it leaped on Lynn's back, holding on to her strongly. she panics, tries to turn around, to shake it off, when she sees a sharp, long knife slides at her throat...
An odd conversation
SpoilerLynn screams as she wakes up abruptly, coughing a bit of blood. she doesn't feel so well, a bit sick, but she feels as if she should have been sicker (yay successful save). the others wake up too, and she wipes away the blood, but not before Killpi sees it. his eyes widen for a tiny moment, before he proclaims that he'll guard outside. he needs the air.
Lynn understands him, and after getting her furs she gets outside beside the halfling. "shouldn't you... be resting?" he says, carefully stepping from her. "Look, it's nothing, just a strange dream, like something was trying to catch me. i may have bitten my tongue". Killpi studies her, noticing she stands a bit weakly, and that she is quite paler. "i don't think so. you're ill. diseased" he says with cautiousness, with a notion of "keep away". He looks at her coldly "It must be the grove. something in it makes you ill."
Lynn smiled, Is he actually concerned about me, or about the possibility he'll get sick? Am i carrying about him? must be more ill than i thought. "So, you don't think that crashing in the side of the mountain and being unconscious in the snow for who knows how long, or fighting with savage goblins and their defiled sorcerer, or this strange illness in the village, or looking through who knows how many dead bodies in the tomb, or fighting equally savage orcs has any chance to do with it?"
for a moment the halfling seemed surprised, but her retorted in kind "nah. i know a magical voodoo when i see one. it's the grove! check with Ayla.". Lynn woke the healers, but other than obvious signs of great stress, Lynn seemed to be ok. on a spur of the moment Lynn tried to hug Killpi who doubled back yelling "get away from me you contagious b*tch!" at which Lynn laughed, and went back to sleep.
Looking for clues
Spoilerthe Next morning the party discussed their options. they needed more info, which can be either found here, or at the village. Lynn seemed quite better, and they decided to search the grove again, yet found nothing. next they went to the nearby Water bay ruins. the place was the old gold seeker's settlement here, that got translocated later to where Far Reach is now.
they spent a few hours searching the hundred or so ruined buildings, but found nothing except for some odd humanoid(ish) footprints near the bank of the lake, going into and out of it. quite a few footprints.
time was wasting, and we decided to head closer to the village. we went on the road towards the trading bridge, and decided to camp in the patch of wood closest to the road (the edge of Centaur forest). we needed to talk with someone sympathetic in the village, but there were probably still Fist soldiers in the village.
The Sneaky Duo, take 2
SpoilerYes, we didn't learn our lesson. Killpi and Glimji were the only ones that can get in without starting a commotion. they snuck towards the wall, nearest to Mike Wood's place, the hunter. yet again Glimji's stealth was not up to par. one of the village people guards saw him!
... and proceeded to signal him to get away. apparently we stil lhad some sympathizers in the village. both hid just as a couple of Fist guards walked over the wall as well, giving the guard some debrief, and going down into the village. after the guard left, the two reached the wall and clambered up, to see a small procession heading out.
there were about 10 Fist soldiers there, talking to a few important guys and heading out. they seem to be led by a woman who seemed to be born to the army (We assume this is Alex, the Fist' commander here) and beside her was a red head guy with simple clothings, the other respected. Adviser? caster? priest? don't know. some got on horses, and others followed on foot as they left the village. was the place free of Fist influence?
Glimji, pissed off and tired of being chased after wanted to cast a quick message spell at Alex, taunt her, play with her, but Killpi stopped him. "are you insane?" he whispered angrily. "here? now? at the one who most assuredly knows how to find and hunt you?" Glimji relented grumbling.
the duo snuck in (Glimji ready to disguise them with magic as children if need be) but as the evening descended, they made their way easily and unnoticed to Mike's home.
Second round of coffee
SpoilerThe hunter was surprised as he opened the door to their knocking, his dog jumping excitedly. "what are you doing here? get in, quickly!" once inside they all exchanged smiles. "quite a commotion you got started! so this is the second one who defied the Fist? interesting..." once again he brought coffee and Killpi the smokes, and they sat to talk.
First of all they confronted Mike about him being the "mystery ally" that the Swansons (Eric parents that hired the group) talked about. he was indeed the one.
Apparently the Fist arrived in force at the village and interrogated quite a few of the people. though this did piss off some people, most quite liked the duo's shenanigans. it's not every day someone tries to embarrass the Fist. "you got a bit of reputation here. not with all, but with some" said Mike.
At first Glimji wanted to be cautious with the info they give, but Killpi decided they need all the help they can get, and shared everything- about the Green Gem, Kate, the orcs ("oh, there are orcs in the mountains. nothing that special unfortunately") and so on.
"well, if you're still interested in helping Eric, there are a few more ways that i can help you." he produced a map of the fort, as well as some of the new "improvements" that the Fist made. did we feel like dumb asses at this point! The Fort was basically a big wall with some buildings inside, that might be access either through it's gate, or from the cliff above it . the place has one central well. also, he might take us in hidden tunnels quite close to the fort itself!
now this opened a bit of a discussion in the group. it was understood the Killpi and Glimji will make the decisions, but we suggested thoughts. the main idea was to start rumors we were seen some other place (either the centaur forest or between the grove and the lake side ruins) which will cause the Fist to send some of their forces to search, in which time Mark we'll lead us secretly to the fort.
only that we still assumed the fort forces are going to be considerable. we needed more information. They asked Mike to call for Judith, the healer.
Running out of leads
SpoilerAs Judith came she was surprised as well, but she assmued we tried to help Eric, and so decided to help us as she can. Killpi demanded to know the full story about Eric (which she partially hid from us) and she told us that he said he had some dreams of slain orcs that he's seen somewhere, but that he had a strange recurring dream, of someone following him, out of sight, and then on his back...
... um, yeah
he some the withered hand of a woman, claw like, knife like. he was taken then. Killpi who heard of Lynn's dream and suspected this asked for her help, but she said that she is not an expert of the occult, and that they should speak with someone who might know.
And Mike seemed to have known such a person- the leader of the centaurs in centaur woods (there are actually centaurs in that wood? ) a centaur called Tall Mane.
that seemed like a plan. Killpi used his "business acquired" fortune to but us quite a few more bandages for a healing kit, and even acquired a few more... laxatives, on the promise he'll use them for good. (the idea is to poison the Fist's well perhaps...) Mike will meet them tomorrow morning at the trading bridge and lead them towards the centaurs.
the duo thanked them, and snuck off the village, on their way back.
moving the game along
SpoilerI think we messed things up here a bit. and got seriously stuck. my guess is that when the DM saw that we were just messing about desperately and grasping at straws, he provided a few more clues to lead us along.
some think the party should not be helped, and that satisfaction comes from finding things alone. some thinks that looking everywhere and at everything is a waste of time and no fun. the truth lies somewhere in the middle for each group. i think it was done at the right time though- our gaming time is quite precious and infrequent, and so we should make the best of it. i think it was indeed the time to move on.
SpoilerKillpi was grinning ear to ear. "i good some good news and some bad news". "good news first"- he told us of the new lead. "bad news Lynn, that is a killer dream, you're going to either die or go insane!"
L: "you're wrong, i'm feeling fine".
K: "it was good to have known you. not!"
L: "you little scum bag of a man! you had anything to do with this?"
K: "So, Glimji, think she has any worthwhile loot?"
L: "Chrone, if i have failed you i'm sorry, is there anything i can do?"
A: "it doesn't have to be this way, there may be a way to solve this"
L: "leave me go Ayla! anything went wrong since i boarded that ship. everything so wrong! and now death?"
K: "Hey, don't be a kill joy! no fun if you're all wailing and such!"
L: "you're right, if Chrone wants me to die i shall die. i shall do my best in the meantime."
SpoilerThis was done as a humerous joke and ode to the five stages of grief in the simpsons. we do love that show and it just seemed, natural. we didn't play all of it out, but enough to matter.
Going to the horse people
Spoilerthe night passed quietly. ("no nightmares?", "no special ones, just the normal ones"). We might Mike at early morning, and he starts leading us deeper into the forest. the village trade with the centaurs, mostly small game for manufactured goods. their leader is a powerful spiritual centaur. "treat him with respect" mumbled Mike.
we meet a Centaur called "Long Run", who greets Mike and leads up to their settlement, as Mike returns to the village. at night we reach a big clearing, with huge primitive huts. the various centaurs watch us curiously, but from afar. we are a bit of an attraction, especially the small folks. we are led to a small building, and enter a great hall, with many spears, spears and more on the walls. there we see a magnificent majestic Centaur- Tall mane. he looks at us curious, and declares himself, after which he asks us to declare ourselves.
Lynn: "I am nothing special to declare. just a warrior of my kind that got thrown into the valley."
Tall Mane: "a warrior of your kind says quite a lot about you, it is enough".
Ayla: "I am a priestess of my goddess Kendra, our group found itself in this valley and seek to help cure it's ails."
Tall Mane: "are you one with power?"
Ayla: "only that which the goddess bestow upon me"
Tall Mane (impressed): "all with power are greeted here, even though we know little and worship not your goddess of love".
Tall Mane: "and you half human half tough one?"
Teal'c: (disinterested) "i came here by chance, fell from the sky, trying to find a way out".
Killpi: "I am an honorable business man who happened to fall on bad times. but i, Trivian Killpi, will travel the world, help many villages, and become the Hero of Far Reach!" (hero's pose)
Glimji: "i am one used to travel, used to sail. i'm touched by the arcane but i wish no harm, i wish to get to safety".
yeah, what a bunch of heroes we make.
Info and a quest!
Spoilerthough Tall Mane doesn't seem impressed, he listens to our story. though we try to keep some... less impressive things hidden Killpi once more shares most of our tale. Tall Mane is heard to read though, stoic and respectful all the time. Killpi even tries to bluff him by telling him the Fist have been planting traps in the valley (and produces his traps) we especially focus on Lynn and Eric's dreams, the feeling of someone from behind. Tall Mane asks us to sleep, and that he'll think about it.
we pass one more night without any special dreams, which both worries and reassures Lynn. Tall Mane meets them at the morning. "I have an answer for you. This creature you seek is evil indeed. it hunts and kills through dreams, and is called by the creatures of this realm a Night Hag. (those of us more knowledgeable of D&D gave groans. though the DM changed quite a few creatures in his setting)
"It is a hellish creature, not normally of this world, and if you say it is here, then these are bad news. it must be found and killed. usually it lies in the dream world, but it can reach the real world, where it fights with cunning, sharp teeth and terrible claws."
"how do we find it? how can we fight it in dreams?". "the nighthag can only get to dreams using a special stone- her Heart Stone". ("The Green Gem" we whispered) "if it has it, it can move to the dreams of all mortals it knows, but if not, then it must act in this world only."
"So Mark found it's gem somehow" (we'll need to find out how it got here in the first place) and gave it to Kate, which was then killed by the hag personally, and later she has been killing (feeding?) of the village people." we all mumbled consent, so this was the threat to face, the horror behind the plague. "but how do we find it? this is a big valley!"
Tall Mane nodded. "there is a way, you can communicate with the spirit of the valley itself. it know all that happens in the valley. it might be able to locate the hag. the spirit dwells under Red Smoke mountain, in a cave underneath it. it's a creature of stone, rock and elemental nature powers."
looking at the map (look yourself) that is quit a little journey to make (i assume 2-3 days through the rough terrain) none of us were happy about this. Glimji asks for some escorts on the way, Ayla asks for some... note of confidence, letter of confidence so that the spirit of the valley will know they mean well.
Lynn however asks about her dreams. "am i destined to die unless we succeed?". "no, your spirit is strong, you withstood the nighthag's assault, it cannot touch you again". as the other planned he added "but they had not yet been tested...".
Decision and leveling up
Spoilerso we basically had two choices: either go to Red Smoke Mountain and try and locate the hag. or we could try and find a way past the Fist, using Mike the hunter's help. we decided on the former.
and we just leveled up! 3rd level now. Teal'c is becoming a hit point sponge (good, since he gets hit a lot) and both him and me took dodge as our 3rd level feat (in our rules dodge gives you a flat +1 AC. we really need it, we're getting hit ALL the time).
Ayla took Precise shot, Killpi hasn't decided yet, and neither has Glimji (who also needs an illusion/ enchantment spell to add to his list) suggestions are welcomed.
for the curious, here is Lynn's char sheet, level 3. it's not optimized, but it fits how i imagine her.
aaaand, that's it for now. i assume we have 1-2 meetings left (though i may be wrong?) 1 to reach to the spirit, and one to find the hag and deal with whatever brought her and the Fist.
i'm very curious as to what are the mechanics and implications of dealing with the night hag in dreams, a bit sorry i made the save. (that looked interesting). i also wonder what our journey to the mountain would entail.
swamp of lost souls?
the dead forest?
undead much? (which none of our group are quite ready to face).
hope you liked it, comments, questions and encouragements are welcome!