After much personal trial and tribulation of remembering how to do website things, the game blog is back. And to whomstever downloaded my temp files that I stupidly put in a public directory, I mean, have fun reading about our adventures? I GUESS?
As seen at the Urn and Basket:
1000 gp will be paid
For the capture of
~ A Known Lutenist ~
& Singing Minstrel
of Fair Complexion
& Perhaps Concealing a Scar on His Chin
By Order of the Crown
A daring plan is conceived to raid the Overseer camp and find proof of their crimes!
Since Dov can play Ruck better than Ruck can play Ruck, he has Change Self cast on him to resemble the hunchbacked illusionist. Dov-as-Rucksack (“Dovsack”? forgive me) presents himself to the camp in a false panic, yelling “The Pure are here! The Pure are here!”, or words to that effect. Meanwhile the real Ruck, invisible and standing nearby, makes illusory sounds in support of said Pure imminently arriving. The bluff works to a point! Most of the Overseers, mercenaries to the core, see no value in sticking around and ride away on the available horses, preferring to avoid any run-ins with the paladins. But Arch-Overseer Brunus Tostyn herself sees right through Dov’s sham, calls him a betrayer, and attacks him forthwith. It’s a difficult battle that ensues, with Brunus and a couple of her loyalest minions sticking by to fight you off. Debilitating Color Spray saves the day, and though Rucksack takes a major wound and is forced to retreat, he later surprises everyone by coming out of invisibility to blast his blinding ray in support of the take-down.
Brunus and another Overseer are ultimately captured, the camp is searched, and evidence of the halfling massacre is discovered. You offer Rucksack the chance to testify against his ex-compatriots and he agrees, but only if you’ll give him a locked chest you find among Brunus’ things. (Later, you discover the chest is filled with the villagers’ gold.) You turn down his offer and the illusionist turns to hobble away into the wilderness, his fate unknown. Ruck’s name is Muck now; word of his betrayal will likely spread among the Overseers; so perhaps he doesn’t have long to live. Before he goes, he turns back to admit to Daisy one more thing – he was there at Willowdale, dragged along to detect magic. He says he found nothing though. The news is significant to Nim, but baffles Daisy. Why would there be magic in her village?
You drag the two prisoners, plus what you can of any Overseer loot, back to Smidge.
Though feelings may be complicated for everyone, the events of the last couple of days have made you feel more accomplished and capable. (Congrats on leveling up!)
The three of you walk into the Urn & Basket, Smidge’s finest and only drinking establishment, and without warning are immediately greeted by a mug of something sliding off a nearby table on its own and flinging itself straight at wall near Nim, narrowly missing her and smashing into pieces. Everyone in the place now has your full attention. There’s an awkward silence. Daisy seizes the chance to announce that there’s a rampaging army destroying villages and somebody in charge better do something about it!
That ‘someone in charge’ happens to be in the room, as it happens. Mayor Goblicus (it’s a family name, and yes he knows it sounds like ‘goblin’), comes up to introduce himself. He’s a nice enough fellow, but not all that bright in the ol’ brain box. He’s horrified by the news of the halfling village attack and suggests it might be orcs. A band of them attacked Smidge not a few months back, and maybe more of them are about, you know, orcin’ things up. The village itself was saved valiantly by the U.O. – the Underworld Overseers. “They can’t send the Pure, of course,” Goblicus explains. “But this is the next best thing.” The Overseers have set up camp right next to the cave where the orcs exited and have been there ever since, protecting the village from harm. Their commander is Arch-Overseer Brunus Tostyn, the mayor tells you, and he thinks she’s a great lady and that the whole fighting force is doing a great job. A real good job, don’t you know. The mayor is sorry for Daisy’s loss but sees no further cause for alarm.
[[NOTE: Everyone knows that the underworld is a vast network of tunnels and caverns where monsters breed and do their monstrousness. It’s a whole world down there. Its common knowledge that dwarves come from the underworld and live there, somehow, among the monsters. (Meta Note: If you’re familiar with Forgotten Realms, it’s basically the same thing as the Underdark.) And Dov knows about the Overseers themselves; he explains they’re a special mercenary force with a contract from the Crown to protect municipalities from underworld threats. This has become necessary since the King’s Army has been stretched thin fighting the wars in the east against the lizardmen, and the Pure (the famous paladins) have their own important quests and glories to pursue, and there’s too few of them anyway to protect each town and village. Smidge doesn’t have a militia of its own since so many able-bodied humans are pressed into the army. And Daisy’s village has (had?… sad) a militia since halflings aren’t sought after to join the army. Because racism.]]
Besides orcs, Goblicus also suggests the possibility that werewolves are to blame for the halfling carnage. The villagers actually caught one not long ago killing cattle and have jailed it up in the Temple of the Protected. Daisy demands action from the mayor, but doesn’t get much traction; he keeps deferring to the Overseers. Furious, she storms out, and with Ambrosius, heads straight to the Temple of the Protected, with Dov and Nim trying to keep up. Protector Nikanor, Cleric of Om-Striom (an evil god) and warden of the werewolf, answers the Temple door, but he is far from helpful; in fact, he’s actively a jerk and refuses to assist, even when Daisy manages to shove past him into the Temple interior and threatens to kick his Big Folk Butt. So the party, with a galloping sheepdog-mounted embodiment of halfling rage in the lead, heads straight to where the Overseer camp is supposed to be. Maybe this fighting force will actually do something.
On the way, you pass a well-kept country estate surrounding a stately mansion, which you assume is Protector Nikanor’s. In the woods before you reach the Overseer camp, you are stopped by a surly helmeted blue-caped human man with a “U.O”-emblazoned sash, and armed with a crossbow and a very heavy frown. Did I mention he was surly? Exceedingly so. He says he’ll pass on news of your concerns to his boss Brunus, but otherwise demands you leave the area at once. The party is no match for his sizable frown of surliness.
Now feeling a bit dejected and frankly exhausted from all the yelling and running about to no constructive end, you all return to Smidge to recoup. Dov suggests things be done a little more nuanced from here on out: he starts to mingle with the villagers, learning what he can about the ins and outs of the place. Meanwhile, Nim wanders the village streets staring up at the stars, trying to get her bearings. Her calculations indicate she’s standing on the opposite side of the world. She wonders what she’s doing in this horrible, horrible place with its horrible, horrible people (Dov and Daisy excluded, of course) so far from home. The skies provide no further meaning that night.
Dov gleans the following, however:
- Trimphid Chrygora, a nobleman wizard hailing from the city of Gridea, has a country estate nearby where he sometimes vacations. He has a pet griffon that he keeps there. People sometimes spot it flying in the skies but it never bothers anyone. And no, since you asked, he does not ride it as far as anyone knows. What a silly thought.
- Protector Nikanor walks around the town once a week, warning of the threatening forces of Chaos swirling all around, and calling out transgressions and foul plays like a referee. The Protected believe his spoken words are a direct link to Om-Striom’s ears.
- People are happy with the UO and relieved they’re there, but they don’t see them much. They’re especially grateful to Trimphid since he probably has a lot to do with UO’s deployment there, being a rich nobleman and all and having a country estate that he probably doesn’t want trampled by underworld monsters.
- People are paranoid their neighbors are hiding a werewolf bite. Any behavior deemed too “wolfish” is quickly scrutinized.
- A nearby abandoned farmhouse is haunted, so say children.
- The village idiot whose name is Pigsy digs up skeletons and talks to his skull collection.
- Trimphid has a servant named Anafrid Pugis who lives in the village. Her family has served the Chrygoras as stewards for centuries.
- Nik’s secretly having an affair with the married miller Wella. Widespread knowledge of this would undermine his religious authority.
This last bit of gossip is especially useful. The next day, you assemble at the Temple door again and are able to effectively blackmail the cleric into providing an audience with the suspected werewolf. Turns out it’s not a werewolf at all, but a poor wretch human druid (who can Wild Shape into a wolf form). His name is Doumen and he was just trying to protect the cattle from bored sadistic Overseers out for sport.
Upon exiting the Temple, the party hears commotion up ahead at the village square. People are screaming and running away. Three orcs (!) are barreling straight into the center of town, directly towards you. You engage them in combat, and Daisy is gravely injured by an orc blade that slices deep into her chest. She falls to the ground, bleeding out her last life. In some ways, it is a grim but fitting final way to go – the same end met by her own family perhaps? But wait, no! – Nim sees through the magic – these orcs are mere illusions; a spell was cast that made them appear real, even their attacks. Daisy shakes off the delusion, her wounds disappear, and the orcs blink out of existence. Nim casts detect magic and locates the source – a nearby darkened alleyway. Someone’s hiding inside. Daisy runs through waving her sword around and manages to reveal the concealed adversary after a muffled, but tell-tale “Ouch!” is heard.
It’s a hunchbacked human spellcaster wearing the blue cap and sash of the UO! The party knocks him out and ties him up. When he returns to consciousness, Nim sufficiently intimidates him with her fierce half-elven otherness. The culprit whose name is Rucksack reveals he was ordered by Arch-Overseer Brunus Tostyn to sneak into the village and try to scare you away, or at the least, confirm orcs are still at large. You drag the illusionist in front of Mayor Goblicus where he confesses, but this strange person and his wild tale of betrayal are a bit too much for the bewildered village leader. More evidence must be presented to him before he can believe the story and do something about it.
Dov takes Rucksack’s UO uniform (hey, might come in handy), and the illusionist, now desperate to assist you and avoid retribution for the Overseers’ crimes, reveals more items of interest: there is a secret way into the cave that the Overseers are camped in front of, and he can take you there. And most shocking of all: the UO are responsible for the destruction of the halfling village Willowdale, under orders of the wizard Trimphid Chrygora. (!!!!!!!)
Uhh no you diduunt..
You decide it’s time to take action. Onward to the Overseer Camp! For there shall be retribution. And justice. And avengement. And other words, some made-up, having to do with taking out those awful sadistic murderers what killed Daisy’s whole family and burned down all her stuff. Also sheep and cattle.
Daisy and Dovienya search the destroyed halfling village of Willowdale. There are no survivors. Some monstrous entity or entities came in and butchered everyone, did some haphazard ransacking, and set the village ablaze. Dov determines that the bodies were hacked at by blades, but there is no sign of the murderers’ identity nor where they headed next. The two agree they should check out the site of Daisy’s brother’s slaughtered flock for more clues. It’s a half day to travel and happens to be on the way to the nearest town, a human settlement called Smidge, whose human folk trade (traded, sigh) with Daisy’s village. Dov considers taking the road, rather than cutting across the wilderness, as it would be faster and allow him to pray for Brega’s much-needed blessing at a roadstone en route, but it occurs to him there might be people lying in wait for him. So the two unlikely partners, joined by Daisy’s loyal sheepdog steed friend Ambrosius, head out through the forest of willows in pursuit of the villains.
Several hours pass without incident until Ambrosius catches the smell of something odd ahead and runs forward excitedly. He and Daisy come upon what looks like a creature of the woods – like fae from legend – standing in their path: a golden-skinned half-elf with weird ear jewellery, bedecked in exotic robes. She’s clearly not from around here. To everyone’s surprise – even the stranger’s, a tree branch suddenly falls from above and lands directly between her and Daisy, seeming to point its leafy fringes like an accusing finger at the foreigner. After this initial awkwardness, Dov catches up to the group and everyone introduces themselves. The stranger’s name is Nim, and she seems to recognize the symbol on the seal that Daisy is wearing proudly on her chest.
With her unusual accent, she expresses an earnest desire to join them in their efforts. The halfling cavalier agrees to have her accompany them, but feeling self-conscious, tucks the seal back into her clothes. It’s getting late so the group decides to make camp, and Daisy finds a good spot. The new allies are guarded with each other as they chat over a shared supper – Daisy likely still shell-shocked but holding strong, and Dov keeping his cards close to himself. Nim finds significance in the fact that all three just met that day. At one point, Dov and Nim speak Elven to each other out of Daisy’s earshot.
During the night, the campsite is besieged by several starving wolves, but the party is prepared and quickly dispatches them. They find they work well together under pressure. In the morning, they break camp and continue to the nearby site of what remains of Daisy brother Tumn’s sheep. There’s no further sign of Tumn, and any trail that could lead to the sheepkillers has gone cold, but Dov finds footprints of both halfling and bigger humanoid that he thinks are recent. Nim casts a spell to Detect Magic in the area, but can find no sign that a spell was cast recently. However, auras spring up around Daisy herself and she appears to have spells about her from Evocation and Abjuration schools of magic. Nim mentions to the halfling that she’s magical, and Daisy takes that information in. It’s been several days of baffling surprises and unwelcome horrors.
The party continues on to Smidge and find that the town, which looks quaint from afar, is actually dirty and a little rundown. The human townfolk barely look over from their business, their eyes cast down, but those that do are definitely intrigued by Nim’s appearance. The obvious place to go is the inn, called, somewhat uninterestingly, “The Urn and the Basket”, and on its front wall is pasted a Wanted poster, which makes Dov stiffen at the initial sight (Daisy notices his reaction; Nim does not): a fugitive elf bard from the dragon-usurped nation of Sibril named Orifluran is wanted by the crown for reasons unknown. The name means nothing to any of you, and what in the Maiden’s Name is a lutenist? And to Dov and Daisy’s surprise, Nim’s never heard of Sibril. That’s like never having heard of Canada.