Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Campaign Journal: Which Way is Up on the Snake?

Back to the game, and further explorations along an abandoned road within the western forests.

Last night's heroes:

  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Jax
  • Mareth
  • Rondel
  • Henry See (NPC cleric)
The party, exhausted from their battle with the gnolls, crashed out at the ruined manor, securing themselves within the secret crypt that formerly held the undead knight. Noises were heard in the night, and the indomitable Goober growled at the door, but as none of the intruders appeared to be investigating the party's hidey-hole, they laid low. In the morning, a few of the gnoll corpses were found to have been dragged away. 

In the morning, the rescued merchants and their guards bid the party adieu, hoping to return to the trade road and better fortunes.

As the party made breakfast, they heard conversation outside the building and met a pair of fellows who introduced themselves as Divos and Albus - hunters and foresters patrolling this part of the forest. The pair had been tracking the gnolls, and were aware that the miscreants had been waylaying travelers for some purpose. Relieved that the party had intercepted the gnolls, the foresters noted that a larger camp was in the area, and that they had also found a few deformed or mutated animals in the region. 

As the party had previously fought baddies exhibiting deformities, this tracked with the malevolent forces that seemed to be lurking in the forests. Sensing that the two were honorable chaps, Mareth brought out his rubbing of a symbolic map that the party believes to represent locations of "The Barrier" that they have begun to actively search out.

Handout generously provided by the DM

After determining which way was up on the map, the foresters made a few educated guesses as to what the symbols represented, but were unsure of the scale of the snake (pun not really intended)... One feature was theorized to be "Cobalt Lake" located around 100 miles to the south, but it was just a guess. The party thanked them for their help, and the two vanished into the woods. 

Of course, the party then spent about 15 minutes armwaving and debating exploring north or south from their current location, and whether a found tower represented one of the diamonds on the snake's back. And if so, which one?

Voting to move north, the party followed the fading abandoned road until encountering a river. With some difficulty, they crossed the channel, and headed west/upstream. Random rolls ran them into skeletons (shooed away by the cleric) and a patrol of deformed beast-men. The party slayed them, except for one poor lout who had been webbed. Some pointed interrogation, and the fellow revealed that a larger patrol was camped further upriver. 

The party continued west, finding the invader camp. Frederick donned his "scarf of 10 minutes invisibility" and scouted into the encampment. Several more mutated beast-men were seen, as well as a couple of Bad Guys (tm), denoted by their black pointy armor.

Always a good sign

With this, we closed for the evening, as the party considered their plan of attack...

DM Notes:

As always, one doesn't know where a clue provided by an NPC will lead the evening's session. Divos and Albus were intended to provide information of one sort for the party to pursue, if they so chose. But at that point, everyone was focused on the "snake map" handout and trying to orient it with known features. So that became a point of investigation for the two foresters, who seemed to have a good bit of knowledge of the area.

The map discussion did get quite animated. Whether their interpretations play out remains to be seen.

The beast-men were created, in part, using the "Mutoid" class from Carcass Crawler #3. The party was adequately squidged out by their first appearance. I'm also utilizing Comes Chaos by J. Becker for inspiration and mechanics. More to be revealed as the adventure continues.

Also, I had assumed that the party was exploring generally southward, but they were actually working their way north. Doh. So I needed to mentally re-scale some locations on the fly. Fortunately, we are in a pretty open area, hex-wise, and features are a bit malleable at this point. 

In the meantime, there is a growing list of potential encounters, both malevolent and benign, to be found, as well as a stack of locations to be explored. Things could get interesting...

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