Monday, September 25, 2023

Campaign Journal: On the Road Again, II

Back at it. A bit delayed with a work conference, taking care of outside things, as well as rejuvenating a couple of stalled project and tryin to wake the muse. Things in the works soon...

So, back to the party:

  • Jax
  • Frederick
  • Slick
  • Rondel
  • Orzu
  • and the Miscellaneous Others

The party, after vanquishing hobgoblins and other nuisances, set up camp for the night, being cautious to protect their horses, for some reason... ahem... 

Second watch was disturbed as Orzu spotted movement in the treeline, and Goober barked a warning. Everyone blearily scrambled to their feet as Orz kept a watch on the intruders. They appeared disciplined and cautious, spreading out and keeping low. The party did likewise, taking cover. Frederick took a potshot at one in the dark, one-shotting the foe. Another arrow went wide. Rondel said, "Sleep." Snoozefest. The intruders turned out to be a hobgoblin patrol, perhaps returning to meet their compatriots at the ruined fort. Slick offed them and went through their pockets.

In the morning, the party debated riding cross-country, or returning to the trade road in their search for the next node location. Jax suggested that the road, followed by some dead reckoning off the found map might be the best option. The party rode back to Karnione, stopping to drop some coin with the furrier and ale-wife in thanks for their aid. 

The trip northward was uneventful, with only locals encountered on the road. The next town north was Rewick, a walled village of approximately 550. The party split up to make inquiries of odd goings-on and other local intelligence. Jax and Rondel, always the faces of the group (CHA 10 and 5) talked up the halfling tavern keeper. At least that was an easy get. Anyway, the village was not pledging to either of the duchies at this point, relying on thier wall, small militia, and citizenry to protect themselves. At this point, they had had few incursions, as compared to other settlements along the road. Frederick popped into the local jeweler, asking her about anyone inquiring into purchasing rubies. She confirmed that she had sold a small pouch of raw rubies to a stranger accompanied by several guards or companions. Frederick made a purchase in thanks, noting that the jeweler's guard was keeping him under close watch.

The party chose to behave themselves otherwise. 

Continuing north, the party had a similarly uneventful trip along the road. Damn dice.

The next town north, Axwold, had a population of about 450. They were unwalled, but had a more substantial militia presence. More making nice with the locals. After some chatting, the party found that the local leadership also intended to maintain independence, and was bringing up a force of mercenaries from the Akkubian Confederation, far to the south. The Akkubian city-states are well-regarded as traders and mercenaries.

Frederick discovered the local jeweler, and asked again on rubies. The jeweler dismissively reported that yes, he did have the same stranger ask, but no, he didn't deal in raw gems. Slick bought a nice pendant, also noting that the jeweler's guard was keeping him under close watch.

Orzu and others chatted the town's tanner, as someone familiar with hunters and their wanderings. The tanner confirmed that the hunters had seen misshapen creatures, and a few settlements or farmsteads vacant of their people, their occupants seemingly carried away. The party discussed these findings, and offered the tanner, Remy, to provide a news of other such incursions. This was proposed as the beginning of a watch network between towns to better track the movements of the mysterious forces.

With that, we paused for the night.

DM Notes:

Another somewhat unplanned session. I had some plans for the night, but the party zagged instead of zigging. That happens. I also have plans for when I don't have plans. Like a list of towns that might be found along a trade road. And some NPCs in those towns. And some plentiful armwaving.

That said, Jax was bored. No "adventuring" makes a sad barbarian.

Most of the conversations were led by Orzu, Rondel, and Frederick, as they tend to be the talkers and planners in the group. Jax gets a bit left out in these sessions. It happens, but all the same, I wasn't focusing on working around the table during play. Certainly RP isn't as well-defined as something like combat, but I also get focussed or engaged with the talkers, and not as diligent about doing my check-ins around the table. 

So, I took some time to write down all the characters' strengths and even a few notes on thier development and arcs through the play. This campaign may not be typical, in that all the PCs originally showed up as one-shot players, with several of the PCs grabbed from the slushpile. However, as I discussed before, they kept showing up, and, on my side of the table, I started weaving everything from a base town. And connecting a bunch of random adventures through a common thread. Oops. Campaign.

Back to the PCs. I took the time to list out what each PC brings to the party, and what their preferences or goals may be. I can always ask my players to expand on this, as well, as they have ideas that I havne't observed. Perhaps next session. Regardless, I now have a bit of a cheat sheet to consider as we wander through the world. While it doesn't always happen, it's nice for everyone at the table to have a moment, no matter how minor. 

Always improving.

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