D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 11

So I apparently missed a really fun D&D Encounters session last week, for which I am eternally sad. The party cleared Phylund Lodge of all the gnolls, and also fought and defeated a human necromancer. I didn’t ask at the time, but I wonder if the human necromancer was controlling the gnolls somehow. In any event, Gavan got a fantastic gift: the necromancer’s spellbook! Yay for more magic spells for Gavan to study. I also heard there was absolutely no effort made towards stealth / reconnaissance. In fact, my understanding is that there was quite an epic battle on the stairs, with the party trying to fight their way upwards, with a near infinite number of gnolls impeding their path with weapons and savagery.

As far as explaining Gavan’s sudden disappearance, the way I imagine it, Gavan took a sip of the water in the cave the party was in, and even though all his high elf teachers taught him to boil the water before drinking from an unknown source, he was thirsty. This turned out to be a mistake, as he came down with a horrible case of dysentery, and retreated back to Daggerford to recover from his illness. Not to mention the pants soiling part…blasted dysentery. Anyways, he met up with the party after they returned from their gnoll extermination, and all was good.

So the big damn heroes for this week include:

  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety (whose healing was very welcome due to persistent near-death experiences)
  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Mave, a Human (I think) Rogue, and the only female in the party (who for some reason sounds like Christian Bale’s Batman when she speaks.)
  • Santal, a Halfing Cleric, as opposed to Sandal, the comic relief dwarf. Enchantment?
  • Malice, a Tiefling Paladin, who desperately wants to be evil, but is not allowed to be as the remainder of the party is basically good, and it is a supreme pain in the butt to play an evil character (though it could also be a fun challenge.) Also, I don’t think an evil character would work well in a casual play program like encounters, though for a private campaign setting, it could be made to work. In any event, the player should understand that if the party decides to kill his character, to save the innocent from his / her evil-doing, he / she should not complain about it.

So in Daggerford, we report our victorious gnoll extermination to Sherlyn, the town sheriff, and get paid 25 gold pieces each for our efforts. I was going to write ‘gnoll genocide,’ but I’m assuming there are many more gnolls living somewhere in the Forgotten Realms.

Then an adventure falls in our lap.

As we’re leaving, a horse comes by, with a rider and a body draped over the creature. Asking for help, Waxon applies magical healing to the body, saving his life We learn that they are caravan-folk that were attacked by Orcs in the area known as the Selpir. They ask for our aid, especially the one that was injured, who asks us to save his pregnant wife. We notice the rider rolling his eyes at this statement, but don’t push the issue.

Before leaving for the area of the Selpir, we also report our findings to Sir Isteval, and ask if there’s been any word on the aid we requested to save the Julkoun villagers in Firehammer Hold, assuming they’re still alive. No word, though we learn a tidbit that I apparently forgot to write down earlier; the Dwarf named Jek apparently went to Firehammer Hold, and has not been heard from. I’m unsure if he was sent, or went for his own reasons, but since he’s not back, I’m fearing the worst.

After an overly long debate over whether we should buy horses or not (we settle on letting the dice decide for us, and opt not to buy horses), we head off towards the Selpir. As it’s on the way, and we had heard of orc activity in this area previously, we end up at the Ruins of Harpshield Castle. Inspecting the ruins, we see quite a bit of carnage: destroyed wagons, broken weapons, dead bodies, and orc tracks leading off towards the direction of the Selpir. Oh, joy!

So as we walk on a path through the forest, we naturally run into orcs. Six orcs, in fact, and they’re tougher than they look. The GM kept rolling everytime we landed a hit, presumably for some special, racial ability that I assume allowed them to soak up damage, as this initial group of orcs, despite being outnumbered, took us some time to dispatch. In fact, Szenden and Santal went down, though they got better.

Before we have a chance to search the dead orc bodies, six more show up, then four more, and four more after that. When it’s all said and done, twenty orc bodies lay dead before us. Searching these bodies yielded 83 gold pieces worth of treasure.

Further down the path, we see tents, a campfire, and a hill, on top of which looks like castle ruins, and a prominent tower approximately forty feet tall. Taking advantage of one of his newfound spells, Gavan casts invisibility on Mave to do some reconnaissance. The camp appears to be empty, presumably where the orcs we slaughtered were staying. He does find a small cask filled with brandy, with a flaming maul symbol carved into it. A cask from Firehammer Hold, anyone?

In a rather unexpected turn of events, Santal decides to drink the entire cask of brandy right then and there. It was rather interesting; an intoxicated halfing healer. I was surprised that there are rules for intoxication in the D&D Next rules. Apparently, Wizards of the Coast think of everything.

So Mave scopes out the ruins, and sees there are patrolling orcs, orc guards, etc. With his boots of spider climbing, Valantis scales a ten foot wall rather easily, and helps the rest of the party up to the top. Half the party jumps down before the orcs notice, and naturally, violence ensues. The violence is made very interesting with the appearance of a giant, female ogre (would that be an ogress?). Noticing that the female ogre has a chain tied around its neck, we take the risk to not only combat orcs, but also try to free the female ogre to see if she’ll join us. Naturally, she doesn’t and we have no choice but to put her down.

On top of the tower is an orc magic-user of some sort (we eventually discover it to be a shaman), who subdues Valantis in one shot with magical lightning. One magical healing later, courtesy of Waxon, and Valantis scales the tower for some kung-fu fighting. Gavan, for his part, exhausts all his spells with magic missiles to the shaman and ogre, and collectively we emerge victorious. One thing that surprises me is that the incredibly intoxicated Santal was actually succeeding in his constitution checks and healing people, though in the end, him and Tassidar were making death saves galore. Maybe that should be Santal’s thing, like drunken monkey kung-fu, he can gain a reputation as a skilled, drunken healer. Still, no one in the party dies in the end, and we all live to fight another day. Barely.

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D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 10

So the big damn heroes of the week include:

  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety (whose healing was very welcome due to persistent near-death experiences)
  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Mave, a Human (I think) Rogue, and the only female in the party

We return from Julkoun to Daggerford, where we report our findings to Sherlyn, who if memory serves me correctly, leads the militia, or at least something that closely resembles that position. Despite not having truly fixed the problem, we’re actually paid 25 gold pieces each for our services. We also ask for aid in rescuing the Julkoun villagers being held at Firehammer Hold, and she’ll forward our request to the Duke of Daggerford, but she also informs us that it’ll probably take at least a couple of days to get a response. We learn that he’s been spending a lot of time with Natasha, whose name seems to pop up in association with a lot of strange things (the missing sculptor, and the guard who tried to provoke a fight and promptly hung himself.) Unfortunately, with no definitive proof, it may all be just coincidence, since she apparently spends a lot of time with many different people. Gavan asks Sherlyn to at least keep a close eye on the situation, and not to take Natasha too lightly. We also learn that Sir Isteval has returned from his exploration into the wilds. Since he is the reason we even came to Daggerford, we make our way to his abode.

Before getting to his place, we make a brief detour and go to the local priest who was friends with the priest at Julkoun to see if the holy symbol we found belonged to his friend. It was, and he was grateful to us for giving it to him, though he would have preferred a body. We actually ended up cremating the dead body, in a fireplace no less, and as we clumsily tried to relate this to the priest, I the player (not Gavan) was cracking up over this for whatever reason. We probably could have handled that situation with a bit more tact and sensitivity, but to be fair, we’re adventurer’s who purposefully seek danger for wealth and glory. One could argue there’s something wrong with our heads anyways.

But I digress…the party goes to Sir Isteval’s home, who is actually acquainted with Waxon from a previous adventure. Something about Ghosts and Dragonspear Castle. We relate our findings at Julkoun to him, and he asks us how much we were paid. He seems rather appalled at our ‘low’ pay and we all get an additional 25 gold pieces each. Quite possibly the easiest payday Gavan has ever had. Speaking of which, he also tells Sir Isteval of the various strangeness around Dagggerford, surrounding Natasha, and worrying about the Duke. This makes Isteval a bit mad, as we find out the Duke had Sir Isteval’s house searched without permission. So it looks like we have a recipe for disaster in the making,  where a local hero and the local lord don’t exactly get along.

So we knew previously that Sir Isteval had went out to explore the gnoll activity firsthand with a fellow named Kelsin Darktretter. Here in the house of Isteval, we meet a Lord Darfin Flosham, an elf and Kelsin’s uncle. and together they share their findings, based on a theory that Kelsin had as to where the gnoll’s are operating out of. In Ardeep Forest near Waterdeep, there are two hunting lodges: Nandar Lodge and Phylund Lodge. Sir Isteval and co. searched Nandar Lodge for gnoll activity, but found nothing, and they unfortunately had no time to search Phylund Lodge, which is where we come in. As of right now, Isteval feels the gnolls plaguing the area are the more immediate priority over rescuing the Julkoun villagers, as their continued harassment threatens peoples lives and homes. For the moment, we agree, and also agree to inspect Phylund Lodge.

In asking for any additional information that may aid us, we find out that generations ago, Phylund Lodge was a hunting lodge, where nobles gathered to hunt “fantastic creatures.” Apparently, either Kelsin or Darfin (I don’t remember who) participated in at least some of these hunts. Historically, there were many strange accidents, and in fact, the lord was infected with lycanthropy and had to be put down. The family having lost their wealth went to Waterdeep to try and reclaim their fortunes, but were never heard from again. We also learn that the best way to get there is a foot path leading off the main road.

So a brief shopping expedition later (Valantis wanted a longbow), and we’re off to see the wizard!

So on the foot path miles away from our destination, we are ambushed by four gnolls. We emerge victorious, but find nothing of value on their persons save for some weaponry. Searching the area however, we find a small clearing with turkey leftovers; five plates worth, which leads to an immediate problem – we only fought four gnolls. Szenden is able to find gnoll tracks leading away. We follow, and end up in battle with eight gnolls, including two archers. We win this fight as well, though Gavan goes from full health (20 hit points) to near death (1 hit point!) Thank the various D&D pantheon of Gods for Waxon, who provides some well needed healing. Magical healing is fantastic!

Like the previous gnolls we fought, they carry nothing of value. We again search for gnoll tracks, which lead us to a cave with a small stream flowing into it. Mave and Szenden hilariously try to stealth the cave for reconnaissance. I say hilarious because while Mave is successful in her stealth check, Szenden is not, so basically she hears “Cling! Clang! Clang! Clunk!” behind her the entire time. Anyways, they don’t find much as the natural light from the outside eventually gives way to darkness. Gavan casts the light cantrip on Valantis’s newly bought quarterstaff and we go in. The cave area is somewhat like a dungeon crawl like last time, so instead of telling every single time we turned left, turned right, etc., I’ll just give a nice bullet-pointed list like last time of interesting stuff.

  • We find a chamber with stick figures carved into the wall. The most interesting of which roughly resembles a humanoid colored red with a hand carved into. Thanks to some religion checks, we find that this is the holy symbol of Malar, God of Beasts. There are also rat bodies laying around…
  • Another chamber 30 feet round with a pool that goes out. In the pool is a bucket with a chain, with a small hole in the ceiling. We’re guessing this is a well, and somewhat hoping that it leads to the lodge. However, it’s more or less impossible for us to fit through the hole in the ceiling. Mave might be able too, but the rest of us, especially our seven-foot Dragonborn, probably won’t be able to.
  • A third chamber, with more wall carvings, this time of 2 hunting beasts. There’s also what is essentially the top of a sphere sticking out of the ground. On the sphere is writing, and after some initial confusion, we figure out that the writing is some ancient form of the common tongue everyone speaks, devotions to Malar. We then remember that the previous lord of the Phylund Lodge was a werewolf. Was he the only one? A fourth chamber is similar to this one, with another sphere with more carvings, but with the added addition of bones of various humanoids. Someone’s lunch or dinner, presumably?
  • We finally get to the first room that is not natural, but man-made. A square room with a carved chanel running throught he middle. Here, there are writings on the wall, poetry of the hunts the Phylund Lodge had. There’s also an old, stone altar with old red stains on it, presumably blood and lots of it. There’s also a door that leads to…
  • …a circular room with inhabited by three undead creatures, who are naturally hostile, one of them wielding a gleaming sword (as opposed to a blazing sword.) At the center of this room is a statue of a warrior with plate mail and a notched battle axe. After dispatching the undead, we find the armor worn by these undead is decades old, though well aged. On the gleaming sword is a crest of some kind, presumably a family crest, and the name Bartos Phylund, whom we know to be the name of one of the hunters. Gavan also is able to sense that this sword is indeed magical. After some brief deliberation, it’s agreed that a frontline fighter would make the most of this weapon, and Szenden will be the one to do so. Finally, the door we entered from seems to have mysteriously vanished, though our rogue Mave is able to find wall switches to reveal (push in three bricks) the door was actually there all along. There another door on the opposite side, just waiting for one of us to enter through…

And that is where this weeks story ends.

So FYI: sadly, for the first time since January, there will be no D&D Encounters blog next week, as I will not be able to attend. I’ll instead be at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco, possibly the last one I’ll attend for quite awhile. In the meantime, I’ll try to blog about the Conference daily, the talks I attended, my thoughts and feelings on them, etc., but no promises. I suppose the best part is that I get to spend time with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins so there’s that. I’m packing King of Tokyo, and hoping to rope them into a few games of that.

D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 9

So the big damn heroes of the week include:

  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elf Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Bruce, Dragonborn Fighter
  • Javert, a Paladin, formerly a Drow but is now a Human for some inexplicable reason
  • Murphy, a Human Bard
  • Korgoth, a Human Barbarian

It’s going to be tough to talk about the adventure this past week, as I had assumed we had actually finished up exploring Julkoun. As it turns out, I was wrong (big surprise!), and this week is essentially a bit of a dungeon crawl. So I think I’ll basically talk about the various encounters and shenanigans the party had instead of a straight up play-by-play.

When last we left off, we had just entered what I’m calling a human-sized hobbit hole, though the innards make up a tavern rather than a home. Though I suppose one could argue that a hobbit’s home is basically a tavern of sorts.

But I digress…we had entered the human-sized hobbit hole, and entered combat with six or so goblins. At this point, we elected to take a long rest; after which, we opened a door leading deeper into the depths, and encountered the following:

  • We entered combat with a hobgoblin chef, decked out in full homemade armor of spoons, fork, and knives. It was hilarious to try and gang up around him, and equally as impressive that for some reason we had a lot of problems hitting him. Not that he was doing a lot of damage to us, but I guess the Iron Chef of hobgoblins is not to be underestimated.
  • In a larger room, we encounter 5 hobgoblins and defeat them fairly easily. We discover an iron key, a chest filled with some treasure, and 3 potions. In a roleplaying moment, since most of us had never encountered a healing potion, Gavan ends up sipping the potions to try and discern what they are. Two of them taste like peach (invigorating), while one tastes rather minty (and gives Gavan a brief moment of Spider-Man like climbing ability). Our dying monk decides to risk it and down one of the peach schnaps, and recovers some hit points, 100% confirming it is indeed a potion of healing.
  • In the next room, our Monk decides to take a peek into what looks like a well. This turns out to be a mistake, as hidden in the darkness of the well is a wyvern, who takes a free swipe at the Monk. When we finally take the wyvern down, it crashes into the ground and turns into the corpse of a cow. We eventually learn that this wyvern is a ‘darkened beast’ created by the Red Wizards of Thay.
  • We eventually discover how this entire area is connected to the outside world. We sadly discover the hung corpse of one of Julkoun’s villagers; on his person is a copper / quartz symbol of Chauntea.
  • A final area we find is essentially a tarnished church. Our Paladin senses something fiendish and desecrated within. Upon entering, we discover vile symbols carved into the pews, walls, and there’s a wolf fur mattress on the altar. Standing at the altar is a goblin. As combat begins and we try to close the distance, poisonous snakes hidden in the pews emerge to give us problems. To top that all off, the goblin is a wizard of sorts, as a flame sphere appears to burn us to cinders. Since we’re rich in fighters, some of them do manage to get to the goblin and hack away. As he takes damage, the goblin’s skin cracks, exposing flames, and when he finally goes down, he explodes in a fireball. We emerge victorious, though we have to apply healing and first aid to the unconcious and slowly dying Szenden, Javert, and Bruce. One of our party is actually able to read the graffiti (I don’t remember what language it’s in), and while most of it is vulgar and insulting, there is a part that is a bit more cohesive, though I could only write part of it down. ‘The Master’s Drum burns in forlorn hills…(missed a huge chunk here)…”the Red Wizard gave it wing of shadow.”

So we find more treasure, including boots of springing & striding. We divide the treasure up, except for a chest we found earlier with 150 gp. With most of the villagers alive at Firehammer Hold, we elect to give it back if we’re able to save them. Also, we’ve now made it to level 3. The way I see it, Gavan’s amnesia has been lifted, and he now remembers how to cast level 3 spells (including is patented flame sphere). For now, we intend to make our way back to Daggerford to report our findings, rest up, and hopefully make our way to save the villagers with some Daggerfordian aid.

D&D Encounters Quest: Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 8

So our big damn heroes for the week are:

  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety, no relation to Wax-off
  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elf Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, also of the Wood Elf variety (newcomer)
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter (newcomer)

I use the term ‘heroes’ loosely, of course. 🙂

When last we left off, we were in a fabric mill having survived a perilous encounter with hobgoblins. There happens to be a second mill in town; in fact, it’s literally right next door to this mill. Szenden tries to sneak over to the 2nd mill for some recon, but is immediately spotted by some wolves, who happen to be ridden by goblins. D’OH! We immediately engage three goblin wolf riders in mortal combat. It’s actually a fairly smooth combat, though the last goblin, before dying, manages to sound a horn. This leads to three bugbears entering the fray. Sadly, they’re not fighting on our side, but we manage to make short work of them as well, and find 20 gold pieces on all the dead bodies.

We enter the 2nd mill, quickly finding it to be a grain mill. There are no monsters about; the upstairs is empty living quarters. We are able to find a trap door where the river runs underneath; it’s essentially a well.

Exiting the grain mill, I get the idea to look for footprints of any sort, distinguishable from goblin-folk hopefully. We find blood stains, and humanoid footprints 10 days old, but nothing trackable. D’OH!

So we make our way to the front gate, the gate one would enter Julkoun from the road. There are 2 guard towers on either side, and as it turns out, we find out the hard way that they’re manned by the enemy, as two arrows go flying towards Gavan, one of them finding its mark. Thankfully, ‘tis but a flesh wound.

Instead of trying to force the issue, we go to another gated area of town, a ramp that leads to a huge door, behind it another area of town. The ramp happens to be blood-stained, and part of the door looks like it’s been hacked and put back together. Like the front gate, there are two guard towers, presumably manned by more enemies. Valantis attempts to make his way up the ramp to climb up, but receives an arrow for his efforts, reducing him to a single hit point. Valantis is able to take a peek over the wall, and sees a large warehouse with no goblinoids in sight, as well as a large door into the hill; we assume this door leads to the underground inn we’ve been looking for. Valantis retreats, limping back to us to relay the news. Waxon manages to heal him, but that’s the last of his healing for the day. Quickly realizing this predicament, and with the general health of the party being on the low side, we opt for a long rest in the grain mill, barring the doors, setting up a guard schedule, etc. While we make it through the night with no encounters, at least one enemy tried to get in through one of the barred doors. Assuming they’re waiting for us, we actually make use of the trap door we found earlier, swimming upriver to avoid the enemy.

We make our way back to the ramp, trying to think of a way past. Farther down the wall it gives way to a cliff that we could climb, so our strong Half-Orc, Tassidar, builds us a makeshift bridge to cross the moat, then climb up the cliff. In a shocking display of athleticism that has thus far been absent in his adventures, Gavan successfully climbs the cliff face with no repercussions. On the other side, right next to the door in the wall, is a building called the Jester’s Pride Inn; if this is the inn we were seeking, it’s not as underground as we thought; perhaps they’re connected indoors?

So we enter the Jester’s Pride Inn, searching the various rooms. In one room, we find a bath occupied by of all things, a Bugbear. A Bugbear bathing…you learn something new everyday! So we gang up on the Bugbear, dispatching him in his hot tub. Actually everyone else gangs up; as it’s too cramped to use magic effectively (or even shoot an arrow effectively), Gavan is busy in the back cheering when he’s suddenly hacked do unconscious by two other Bugbears that snuck up on him successfully. This is simply not Gavan’s day.

The party dispatches of the Bugbears, and heals Gavan. The dead Bugbears are relieved of their 19 gold pieces. There’s nothing of value in the remaining rooms, so we enter the double door built into the hill; like a human-sized hobbit hole, I imagine. There’s also a stained glass windows surrounding the doors, and up-close, we see that the right door is slightly ajar. Peeking through, we see a fireplace inside that’s lit, and a dim figure cooking over that fireplace. Szenden attempts subterfuge, being fluent in Goblin, but fails horribly. Aware of this fact, we end up kicking the door down and enter battle with six goblins. We manage to kill five, and capture one for immediate interrogation. We discover that much of the townfolk have been killed. However, some hobgoblins took some of the Julkoun villagers to Firehammer Hold. We leave off here, though we were discussing, looking at our map of the area, that it may be too much of a trek to get to Fire Hammer Hold; we would either need to make our way over the Forlorn Hills (what looks like a hilly / mountainous region), or stick to the roads; we could sail upriver to Secomber, then travel by road to the hold. Then again, it may be smarter to return to Daggerford to not only regroup, but to report our findings and perhaps gain some aid in rescuing the villagers, assuming it’s not too late.

By the way, I scanned a map of the area, so here you go:

Yay for maps! Unfortunately, GPS is rather spotty here in the Forgotten Realms.

Yay for maps! Unfortunately, GPS is rather spotty here in the Forgotten Realms.