North America

Session 003
From Burke to Oxon Hill, and into the swamp

Note 1 – as before – any player in this campaign can edit or add to this.

Note 2 – There is of course no expectation that you read all or any of it. It’s just here to reference if anyone finds it helpful for the future or just fun to read in the present.

Picking up where we left off, the battle for the mill

The party examines the mill-proper after their battle, and Seeker finds more Deecy markings on barrels in the building. It looks like the occupants were grinding bugs into slop and parts using the mill stone, and then placing the grime into the barrels.

Turibel decides to check the outhouse, the last unexamined building in the area. After propping open the door and spying 3 bodies lying in it, she heads inside and is beset by another shadow. A shadow hits her, and she sees two more. This prompts her to fire off a fire bolt at the close one, and misty step out of range.

Velya, realizing that the shadows are hiding out in a dimly-lit space where they are comfortable, lights up the area with faerie fire. Dreaming Oak takes this another step further, and uses his way-of-the-force powers to knock down the building, exposing the shadows. They are now in the bright afternoon sunlight, in faerie fire, and are set upon by Seeker and his radiant sword. After a few seconds of fighting with the shadows, now vulnerable in the bright lights, the battle is over with the party handily defeating them. On the bodies of the last set of bug-hunters, the party found a spell book, 2 silvered daggers, and 1 flask of liquid which glowed when subjected to a detect-magic spell.

Getting paid and rebuilding a town’s livelihood

The crew heads back to the hobbit-town of Burke, and Ceetie confirms to Esmonda that the mill has been cleared of danger. The party had brought back the bodies of Clement, Nora, and Lilly, which the town people began preparing for proper funerals. The villagers may have noticed a few extra holes punctured in Lilly, but didn’t say anything. Esmonda doesn’t know why the Deecy barrels were there, and was surprised to hear that there were more than just bugs terrorizing the mill and store-house.

Over the next couple days, Seeker ingratiated himself to the Halflings with his witty repartee. While they didn’t necessarily like this, they couldn’t help but be impressed with his knowledge of brewing. It wasn’t up to Edwin’s level, but it was certainly good enough to get the operation running again. Parad meanwhile started learning the intracacies of smithing for a smaller target audience as he helped the locals with their normal smithing tasks. The lessons may prove to be of great value. The halflings indicated that they’d be happy to provide food and shelter to the party should they ever stop by again, and paid them the 100 gold they were promised. As a parting gift, they also provided a cask of raspberry sour beer, the village’s specialty.

Heading to Oxon Hill

Running a bit short on time, the crew headed out for Oxon Hill to meet Vludin. Eston the thief had some business to attend to, and took off, but not before letting the party know that he knew some people in Oxon Hill that he trusted, notably Odie (a natrualist) and Juleeyah (a travel guide writer). Setting forth, the party expected to be on the road for about 3 days.

Gettin’ Knittin, and a goat in wolves’ clothing

Whereas the first day was uneventful, on the second day the party passed through Franconia again. They’re starting to be a familiar sight there, having been their 3 times within the past week. Supplies were gathered, including a free spindle which Maude could use to help with her knitting. They proceeded onwards, and on that second night, the party encountered wolves. This made Velya flip her lid.

The short melee was readily handled, in large part to an entanglement cast by Turibel at the beginning which negated the wolves’ fast movement and early attack. The weapon wielders, Maude, Dreaming Oak, Velya, Parad, and Seeker, slashed and crunched through the wolves. At the end, a single wolf’s corpse was left in the brambles of Turibel’s patch of vine, and Velya charged through it to repeatedly stab the dead beast further. Somewhat aghast at the savagery, the other party members asked what was happening, and Velya explained her story of waking up after a terrible night, in a tree, with the bodies of several wolves and her dead mother on the ground. This battle has hardened Velya, but it will take more time before her fear of wolves will be conquered.

While three wolf pelts escaped Velya’s wrath, the one with multiple piercings was cut into pieces and made into traveling clothes for L_rie the war goat.

The rest of the trip to Oxon Hill was uneventful, though when passing through the small city of Alexandria, something really captured the interest of Turibel. She thinks that this may make a good place for a library. She filed that notion away for future reference.

At Oxon Hill, meeting the residents

Oxon was a dreary, dank, downtrodden, dusky, dilapidated town. Most of the populace had left for the more exciting world of Deecy, for the city goers, or the western lands such as Franconia, for those with wanderlust. A large central street was the main thoroughfare, and most all of the town overlooked the long stretch of road.

Once at Oxon Hill, the group first sought out Odie and Juleeyah. The pair were renting an abandoned house as their base during their stay in their travels, and the outside was festooned with image-stones of Juleeyah’s making. These were images of locations and flora and fauna of the Southern Lands, etched into the stones with the clarity of a the most realistic painting imaginable. When speaking with Juleeyah and Odie, the party learned that Vludin had taught Juleeyah how to do this using her gift. The party of course wanted an image-stone of themselves prepared, and a stone was prepared, with L_rie the goat taking center-stage in the image.

Maude asked Odie, the naturalist, about ways to dye textiles red. Odie loved talking about such things, and provided a large list of local and remote berries which would produce a high-quality dye. Velya asked him about the wolves, and Odie presented a short lecture on the local canine inhabitants, making clear that wolves were becoming an issue, especially to the east. Finally, the crew learned that a man would come to town every couple weeks looking for laborers to help with some sort of construction project. It was all very hush-hush, but the towns people loved it because it didn’t seem particularly dangerous, but paid excellently.

The group then headed to one of the local inns, the Broken Whistle, where Juleeyah said Vludin would occasionally stop by. At the inn, while Velya attempted (somewhat unsuccessfully) to impress the barkeep with her flute playing, the rest of the party spoke to Tremble, one of the laborers who took part in the bi-weekly construction jobs Juleeyah told the party about. In these jobs, people were instructed to keep silent about the nature of the work, and in return, the foreman said he’d keep coming back to town to pick up workers. Since the people of the town are, as a rule, in desperate need of money, they had a strong incentive to follow this direction, and Tremble gave the party almost no useful information. The workers seem to appreciate the work and pay very much, and are unlikely to give up much info. The party was interested in checking out the work, and discussed how to find out what was happening.

Vludin returns

About then, Vludin appeared, finding the party as promised, and ushered the party to a rented-out house after making sure they paid their bar tab. Vludin wanted a couple things from the party. First, he too was curious about the contract work being done by the townspeople, and wanted the party to investigate. Secondly, he wanted the party to teach him a psionic ability for a change. He wanted to know how to heal others. The crew wanted to know what they could get in return, and Vludin promised two things. First, he would teach them to shield their minds from being probed by other gifted people. Secondly, he promised to tell them more about his organization, and as a bonus, about the world of psionics (a term now creeping into parlance over the heretofore favored “gift”).

The party agreed, and Seeker worked with Vludin to understand the art of Structural Rebalancing. Vludin then showed the party how to detect that their abilities were being probed, and how to shut down the prober’s inquiry. Dreaming Oak proved to be particularly skilled at these.

For more information on these, please see the Detect Psionics and Resisting Psionic Detection sections of the character creation page: Creating Your Character

Finding work

After an hour, a set of large wagons rolled into town. A heavyset bald man, a boy, and a male tiefling rode in the first wagon, and a group of 6 Deecy soldiers rode in the second. The man, Barron Collier (“That’s a name, not a title”) announced that he was looking for workers again this week. Seeing that there were some new people interested in work (the party members), he announced that, as always, anyone with the gift was NOT welcomed – it would make the job more dangerous for everyone.

With the party saying nothing of their abilities, the party volunteered for the job, and was brought onboard. The boy walked through the various workers, and the party noticed that he seemed to be pinging them to find out if they were psionically abled. The group used their newly-developed skill to prevent detection. Satisfied that all was well, Barron Collier announced that they’d leave in about an hour. The party took that time to decide on the finer points (hah!) of attaching metal (possibly poisoned???) tips to horns of L_rie the goat. Deciding that there wasn’t enough time to realize the dream before they were needed on the road, and not wanting to leave the goat behind with a local smith, the crew rode off with Collier, the Tiefling, the 6 soldiers, and about 10 towns-folk laborers on the wagons.

The caravan headed southwards, on the eastern road towards potomac heights. After a few hours, Barron Collier announced that it was time for the hoods to come on. The other town laborers were obviously familiar with this bit, and put bags over their heads, and the party followed suit. Collier also reminded all that no one was to speak of any of the work they were doing. He would never hire workers from Oxon Hill if any word got out that someone talked. Dreaming Oak was able to poke a couple small holes in his hood before donning it.

Into a mysterious tunnel

They traveled another 30 minutes or so, until chanting was heard from the Tiefling up front, and one of the members of the back wagon, and the area was plunged into darkness. After a few seconds, the wagons then headed down a somewhat steep incline, with the party unaware of their visual surroundings due to the hoods and darkness. After another 30 minutes, Barron Collier shouted “hoods off, it’s time to work”, and the other laborers and the party doffed the bags from their heads and found themselves in a damp (but structurally sound, according to Maude) man-made tunnel.

Everyone shuffled up to the open air awaiting at the mouth of the tunnel, and saw that they were in a swamp, and finally understood what the laborers had been building:

Collier reviewed the basics of their pay for the new people. “We need to produced 300 paces of walkway in our week here. You’ll get 10 gold each, a small fortune in these times, if we do. If not, you’ll get less. We’ve never missed our goal. However, for every 100 paces of walkway we build passed 300 in this week, I’ll give each person an extra 10 gold. This is your chance to make some serious money.”

Building a path to nowhere

In the first couple days, three of the crew, Velya, Turibel, and Dreaming Oak, slacked off during the construction to save their energy – they were going to go exploring. The two days’ work went more slowly than Collier expected, and four workers were put out of commission – one by a snake bite, and the other three by swamp fever. When night arrived, the three conspirators silently left the group via invisibility, misty step, Elvian haughtiness, and general sneakiness.

They traveled through the night down the finished portion of the walkway, and came to the tunnel. They traveled through the tunnel, and by about 2AM arrived at the other end, where two large wooden doors shut them in. With a bit of effort, the three of them heaved open the doors and found that they were about 100 feet off of the road in a fairly nondescript location. They took note of their surroundings, placed an innocuous-looking set of stones off the road a bit as a marker, and headed back through the tunnel and into camp, arriving jusr before dawn. Their return wasn’t noticed as being anything out of the ordinary, and morning broke.

Efficient civil engineering

As the party learned that the construction was going too slowly, a couple things happened. Velya and Seeker started healing the sick or injured town-laborers, Parad (quite handy with a hammer) stepped up his game with the general construction, and Turibel showed the power of thunderwave for blasting through vegetation. Collier, the guards, and the other laborers were impressed with the sudden uptick in thr rate of progression. It looked like there was going to be some major extra money earned this trip.

On the third night, Velya did a bit of scouting by going invisible and then hopping into the marshm heading in the direction that the walkway was being built. She found nothing of note ahead of her, but did find a root to help twist her ankle, and a cottonmouth snake, which she put to sleep, then killed. As a playful present for the elf in reverie, she encircled Dreaming Oak with the snake’s corpse.

On the fourth day, the only excitement was the discovery of a walker. Oddly named, the walkers couldn’t walk at all, but were large trees, with branches covering a 100 foot diameter. These walkers could batter anything of their choosing with their massive branches. Collier made the decision, welcomed by all, to build the walkway around it. Velya went scouting once again this night, being more careful, but coming back with no more information than before.

A path to nowhere heads somewhere indeed???

Also of note, around this time Parad noted that they were building the walkway westward, and were probably about half way between Oxon Hill and Potomac Heights. Someone noted that this meant that the walkway was being constructed towards the river, and Maude pointed out that perhaps it was heading to the banks of the river across from Ft. Belvoir?

Bugs, and more bugs. Caught red handed

The fifth day started out as normal, but as the morning and then afternoon wore on, the normal natural sounds of the forest quieted significantly. For the first time, the party started seeing bugs (of the farmhouse variety) off the walkway. They alerted the guards, who shot them with arrows. With the day progressing, more packs of bugs showed themselves, and Turibel took the opportunity to test out a theory that bugs sensed their environment primarily via sound. To do this, she summoned a human arm and tossed it between two packs of bugs. As the bugs converged and began feasting on it, Turibel cast shatter, and the bugs were instantly blow to bits. {editor’s note: I don’t know if this answered the question or not. I would be interested in hearing Turibel’s analysis}.

Collier had become more agitated and seemed worried as more bugs were spotted. He went to discuss the situation with the Tiefling (Chooch), and came back to oversee more work. After Collier left Chooch’s company, Seeker also took this opportunity to discuss the situation with his Tiefling brethren. In a show of great verbal finesse, Seeker was able to gain the information that the only time bug packs in this density had been seen before had happened because someone with the gift had been in the construction crew. The bugs seemed drawn to that person. The Deecy guards with the group had done a fine job so far putting the bugs down with their bows, but the sheer volume of them was worrisome at best.

Buggin’ out

Seeker relayed this information to the group. Realizing that the party was putting the laborers in danger, they convinced Collier to bring everyone back to safety. Collier was reluctant, having made so much headway since the thunderwave plant-excavation had started, but acquiesced and all were marched back to the tunnel and into the carts. The hooding process began again as the party neared the tunnel exit, and they once again emerged into fresh air and the carts took a left, heading northwards.

End of session 003.

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Session 002
Cleaning up the farm, on to Burke

Note 1 – as before – any player in this campaign can edit or add to this.

Note 2 – after a bit of typing, I’m realizing that this is going to be loooong . There is of course no expectation that you read all or any of it. It’s just here to reference if anyone finds it helpful for the future or just fun to read in the present.

Picking up where we left off

While the party milled about the downstairs of the house, Vikna uses the vibrattuned power to pick up any movement from the surrounding area. As it finishes, he reports that there are two large sound sources almost directly above the group, and another source of clattering above them and farther north. At this time three new faces come trundling down the hall. Eston readies his weapons, but Vikna calls out to hold off – he recognizes his half-sister Veyla in the approaching group.

Veyla the bard approaches the party along with a crazed looking barbarian Maude and the powerful Tiefling named Seeker. They tell the party that Vludin has reassessed the danger of this particular location, and has sent two more burlap-clad members to aid in the investigation.

With no further noise or danger apparent from the second floor, the party searches the last few rooms of the ground floor. No danger evident gave them a time for a short rest. Veyla played around with the well-tuned harp in the living room while Maude attempted to light a fire in its fireplace by banging two sticks together. Slow monk Edwin demonstrated the effectiveness of friction for lighting a flame, amazing Maude. The group was able to relax and catch their breath in the room until Seeker, standing guard, hears a flapping sound outside of the house. A couple party members unbar the main entrance to the house for a look, while Edwin slips out the window of the room and does the same.

Nothing out of the ordinary is seen.

Heading upstairs

After the rest, Veyla tests the stairs for traps. While no trap is found, there is a decidedly loud squeak produced in the process. A door upstairs opens (by the sound of it), and a part of the stairway is plunged into darkness. The door is heard shutting, and the darkness ends. The party decides to head upstairs with Maude in front, Veyla behind her, and Eston behind Veyla. As Maude charges up, two burlap-covered bodies get thrown into the narrow incline. Maude nimbly dodges both, with Veyla taking the brunt of one, and Eston deftly dodging the other’s force, while also artfully steering it into a safe stop against the wall.

Maude reaches the top just in time to see the purple fiends (who have so far always been just out of clear visual cover) open a door up top. This plunges the area into darkness again, and when the party hears the door close, light once again prevails. Veyla braces herself against the door with a dagger wedged into the crack as an additional safety measure, and the party investigates the rest of the upstairs.

Behind a locked door to the east, which Maude tries unsuccessfully to knock down, and which Eston easily opens via lock picking, the party finds basic house-wares along with a chest, which Eston also unlocks. The chest is heavy, filled with coins – about 150 gold worth. The door off to the west of the landing is already unlocked, and when opened reveals a bedroom with an open window overlooking the garden and child’s playhouse. There are old, but nice, human-sized clothes hanging in the closet of the room. Edwin fetches a dress to wear as a robe and puts it on.

The group readies itself to burst through the last door leading to the darkness. Turibel thinks about the question of the darkness and how to counter it, and reminds the group not to forget about their powers of echolocation – it won’t last long, but for a little while, they will be able to see with their ears in the darkness. Also, as they plan their entry strategy, a couple of the party notice a bitter smell in the air. Seeker points out that a bitter smell is often associated with poison. Turibel reminds the group on that they have an answer to this, as well, and can probably use their gift to reduce the harmful effects of poison.

The fight is on!

The group busts into the room, activating their echolocative abilities, and most using their resist-elements abilities to blunt the effects of the poisonous atmosphere they know awaits them. They see two of the purple creatures which are now cornered in the room, and a mantis-shaped humanoid towards the back of the room with two beetle bugs attached to its body.

Maude swings a hard right into one of the purple creatures and hacks at it with her axe, while Edwin rushes to the back of the room to bust a hole in the wall to the outside world. Chaos ensues. After doing great work whittling down the two fiends, both Eston and Maude are dropped to unconsciousness. Turibel unleashes a crackle of electricity onto one of them and maintains the lightning tether. Veyla works on keeping the party members alive after putting the mantis warrior and its beetle parasites to sleep, and Seeker yells at the devils while attacking them.

After 15 seconds or so of vicious combat, it is over, with all party members stabilized or alive. The poisonous air is mixed with clean outside air from the hole in the wall It is still dark, and precious seconds are left on the party’s echolocation. One bug is wrenched from the mantis’s head, waking it up in the process. The mantis-man shrieks and clatters, and the party’s echolocation subsides. With one final mantis scream, the darkness fades along with the mantis’s life. It has wrenched the beetle off of its abdomen to free itself, or at least put itself out of its agony.

The party is fairly confident that no more threats exist in the area and makes preparations for the night. Edwin notices that there is one intact tail-spike left from a purple creature, and wraps it up for safe-keeping. The group sleeps in the house – the night is uneventful.

Meeting up with Vludin

When morning comes, they hike back to the pre-arranged spot to meet Vludin. He arrives with 4 more people, who he motions to stay, and rides up on horseback to the party. When he sees the mantis the group is carrying, along with the heads of the purple devils, he hurries the group behind a stand of trees and gets as much information as he can about the operation. He is very interested in the devils, the fleshy humanoids, and especially the bug-suctioned-mantis-warrior, but indicates that he is unsurprised by these findings. The group has done great work, and has definitely earned their lesson in the Gift.

As promised, he teaches the group to detect the gift in others. One party member then tries the same with Vludin, and finds that it doesn’t work. Vludin recognizes the attempt – it is not a subtle process – and remarks that, should they agree to perform another task for him, he will next teach them to mask their gift from such attempts. Someone pointed out that the group found money in the place, and someone else in turn kicked him in the shins. Vludin laughed it off, indicating that he had no ownership of the house or its contents – he has little want or need of money – knowledge and freedom are the currencies which matter to him. He tells the group to keep the money to support their actions.

Lastly, he indicates that the next operation he has in mind for them, maybe, would be further east, but that he’s not quite ready for it yet. He wants the group to meet him at Oxon Hill in a week. Don’t worry about finding him, he’ll find you. Eston recognizes Oxon Hill as one of the many places his travels have taken him, and he wonders if his old acquaintances are still there. In any case, Vludin recommends that the group rests and recuperates, and he hopes to see them in a week in Oxon Hill – they did well, and he hopes to work with them again.

Ding!

The party levels to 2! One interesting aspect to leveling is that Veyla picked up the spell identify. She used it to identify the magic ring that Edwin has been carrying. It is a:

Ring of Proper Grammar:
Starting each morning, any time the ring-wearer corrects someone’s unintentional improper grammar, s/he is granted a temporary hit point, up to a maximum of three temporary hit points. Any time a long rest is complete, the temporary hit points disappear. This will stack with false life, but no other source of temporary hit points. It does not heal lost hit points, only grants temporary hit points.

On the Road Again… to Burke

After considering the geography and travel time, the group decides it can spend their “relaxing” week by heading back off towards their initial location, Burke, where there’s a promise of money for a bug-hunt. They could make it there, take care of business, and march back through Franconia to Oxon Hill well within a week. They head out, encountering a couple Ft. Belvoir guards coming the other way, and make camp near dusk on the fine late-spring night. The owls hoot, the wolves howl, and the crickets chirp.

Edwin takes first watch. As it’s coming to an end, he is surprised as a wolf darts out of the darkness towards him, sinks its teeth in, and wrestles him to the ground. The rest of the party is immediately wakened by the commotion, kills some wolves, toasts some of the others, and the pack attempts to retreat back into the woods. Having cleaved the head clean off one of the wolves, Maude hurls it after them in disgust, but it bounces harmlessly off a tree. {correct me if I’m wrong here} Veyla spends her guard-time skinning one of the killed wolves. The night is otherwise uneventful.

A few miles out from Burke, the party notices a burning smell coming from the north side of the path. Veyla and Eston stealth out (somewhat successfully) to investigate. They find a burned out cabin and a pen for animals. There are no humanoids visible, but there are two cows and a goat in the pens. Eston retreats back to the party on the path to tell them what they found while Veyla maintains over watch. Veyla watches as a bug approaches the goat. Veyla watches as the bug latches onto one the goat’s hind legs and sinks its teeth in. As the goat bleats and screams, Veyla decides the goat shouldn’t die this way, and rushes into help it. Seeker hears the screams and rushes towards them as well, but by the time he reaches the pens, the bug is dead by Veyla’s hands and the goat has been healed. What a happy goat! Nothing is found in the cabin but burnt ruins of living quarters. The party decides to lead the goat, and ride the cows, on towards Burke.

Burke – home of Halflings, not Hobbits

When the party arrives in Burke, they find it to be overgrown. This is not the sort of idyllic village they would expect of a well-established Halfling settlement. There are weeds where there should be well-manicured flower beds, and though there is smoke coming from the chimneys, no one is visible outside of their houses. That is, until a door is flung open and a small hobbit Halfling with short brown hair and spectacles rushes towards the group crying "Bessie – you’re ok!” He throws his arms around one of the cows and thanks the group profusely. “Thank you so much for saving my animals – I’m so glad they’re ok!”

The party learns that a couple days ago, representatives from Ft. Belvoir asked Hankhil (the Halfling in question) to show them the deed to his land that he’s using for the cabin. When he admitted he didn’t have one, they simply left. Last night, someone set his cabin afire. He couldn’t say who did it for sure, but based on the visit from the soldiers and the standard-procedure eviction-via-fire, he’s pretty sure it was the Ft. Belvoir soldiers that did it. Hankhil was about to make his way off, beaming with joy to get Bessie, Gloria (the other cow), and Lori (the goat) back, when Veyla persuaded him that perhaps the goat would be better off in the party’s hands, and after all, it was only because of them that he had any of his animals back. Being so convincing, Hankhil couldn’t help but agree, and parted with his Cashmere-supplying Lori. Or Larry. I don’t think dwarves hear too well, but maybe they hear better than Hankhil speaks. Either way, the goat don’t care.

Hankhil points them over to a Halfling home and says that the party will probably want to speak to Esmonda. The home is kept better than most of the rest of the houses and as the party approaches, a slightly-past-middle-aged Halfling steps out to greet the party. She lets them know that based on their looks, she expects that they’re after the bug bounty. The job seems simple, if a bit vague – the mill and storehouse down south a bit got a small bug problem about 4 weeks ago, which quickly got worse. The villagers are scared to go up there themselves anymore, and Clement and Nora (the owners) and their sister Lilly haven’t been heard from for about 3 weeks now. When the town got more even more worried a couple weeks ago, they hired a group of 3 mercenary bug hunters to clean the place up and (hopefully) rescue the three Halflings, but the hired hands never came back. So, the bounty went up even further, and now here’s the party.

About the job and the money

Esmonda tells them that if they come back alive and with the bugs cleared out, they’ll get 100g to split. A couple elements of the party balk at that, and press Esmonda. She says that maybe they can come to an alternate arrangement agreeable to all if the party returns. To make sure that everything gets cleared out and that the bounty is deserved, they are to take Seetie with them to spot and verify. Seetie is a youngish Halfling with tough tan skin, most likely due to a line of ancestors from the far north of Amairikashet. She seems both brave and lithe, a good choice for a spotter. The group travels a half mile southward, finding the mill. They take their companion the war-goat with them.

Investigating the grounds and the storehouse

The store house is about 90 feet long and is two stories with windows on the second floor, but not the first. It connects via covered walk-way to the mill, from which a raven flies away as the party approaches. There are various fleshy bits of deer and possibly other creatures which have been set upon by bugs in the lawn. As the party prepares to enter the storehouse from the east, they notice a bunch of hops vines in a garden, and a nearby large outhouse. They listen, and then Seeker opens the door to the storehouse.

Seeing a row of doors down the length of a single hallway, and a stair case heading up to the second floor, the team decides to handle the downstairs first, and opens each door in turn. While most rooms contained only beer brewing supplies, gardening equipment, corn, or flower, one of the larger rooms was teaming with bugs. As the door was opened, Turibel yelled for the party to “clear!”, and demolished all 12 or so bugs with a single Thunderwave. Looking through the aftermath of this 1-shot, dozen-kill spell, the party finds more deer carcasses, and even a half-elf body. All of these had been stripped almost to the bone by the bugs. After a thorough inspection of the rest of the room and its contents, someone notices that the barrels in the room look like they actually contained bugs at one point, and furthermore, a couple of these barrels have the Deecy logo stenciled on them.

Further down the hall, with some uses of vibrattuned, the party detected clacking and chittering sounds coming from above them. Having cleared the downstairs, they went up the stairs near the entrance to the building. The party immediately went to the area from where the sounds originated, swung open the door, and found another mantis-creature bound up in this room. The party works to quickly untie it, and as soon as it is free, it springs down to the floor below, runs down the hall, and outpaces the members of the party which tried to pursue it as it fled into the woods.

Some observations from the party, as I recall:

  • There was no magical darkness as there was around the last mantis-creature
  • Attempts to communicate with it using various languages that the party knew were ineffective.

There are two other rooms upstairs. Maude tries to barrel down the first door, but bounces off of it. Eston cheerfully and helpfully uses his lock picking tools and skills to open in quickly, and with a gallant flourish, opens the door for Maude to proceed inside. This is a Halfling-sized bedroom, with a bed, dressers, a desk, knitting equipment…. And a lump in the bed. Maude grabs a couple knitting needs and pounces on the shape under the covers, piercing it repeatedly. Feeling lots of blood but no resistance, the party pulls back the covers and sees the corpse of a newly-perforated elderly Halfling woman, presumably Lilly, curled up like a child afraid of something. The group moves on, finding nothing else of interest, though Maude swipes the knitting equipment.

In the last upstairs room, the merry band finds the door unlocked, but with a similarly depressing sight. Two more elderly Halflings, presumably Clement and Nora, sit against the wall holding hands, dead. An examination of all the Halfling bodies shows no real sign of death or physical trauma, except for a couple excessively pale patches around their shoulder and neck areas.

The room is examined, and of primary interest, two ledgers and a chest are found. The locked chest doesn’t respond to a barbarian smashing, but once again opens with relative ease to Eston’s deft hands. Maude doesn’t appear to be overly happy about this recurring theme. There are a lot of coins in this container, maybe 300 – 400 gold pieces worth. The two ledgers are both related to the operations here. One is used for keeping track of the crop cycles and brewing schedules, and the other is used as the basic accounting book for the farm. Maude flips through looking for any hint regarding the arrival of the Deecy-marked barrels, but does not find any such mention. The ledger entries stop about 3 weeks ago.

It’s mill time

The party lines up two-abreast at the south doors of the mill. The stone grinder can be heard turning inside. Go-go-go, the party opens the door and is greeted by a wall of 4 of the same fleshy-humanoid-monsters that made an appearance at the farm house. Additionally, 2 of the tail-spike-flinging infernals are hovering approximately 20 feet off the ground in the mill. There were bow shots, axe cleaves, witchbolts, rafter climbing, and a few events that resulted in near-death experiences – Edwin had 2 death-save failures when he first went down, got healed, got up again, and was knocked cold on top of the spinning grinding stone again within the next couple rounds. Turibel’s success with witchbolt got her on a devil’s naughty list, and a tail spine caught her in the chest knocking her out of commission as well.

Other items of note in the battle – Seeker’s infernal language skills and charismatic delivery of a threat came in handy, sending one of the devils into a round of indecision. Maude and Larry kept taking down fleshy-things, and Veyla elected to claim healer duty. Also, as the fight was starting to wind down in the mill, Seetie starts yelling for help. Seeker rushes outside to see Seetie rounding the corner of the outhouse screaming “they’re after me!” Seeker sees a shadow creature in pursuit despite the bright afternoon, and moves to interfere. The last flying devil is taken down, An arrow ends the existence of the shadow, and we end for the day.

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Session 001
Bugs on the farm

Note – I believe that, per this site’s philosophy – all characters are able to edit this. If you want to throw in some memories of your own, feel free.

Characters start at Franconia and have a somewhat awkwardly-railroaded introduction with each other. They set out towards the halfling village of Burke where there’s a bug-hunting job that looks to pay a lot of money1. Must be a lot of bugs to pay that well.

En route, they see a sign advertising that the militia at Ft. Belvoir is looking for more recruits1. It states that the pay is great, danger is guaranteed, and, most interestingly, training is offered for recruits with the gift (if they show promise).

While reading the sign, a man (Vludin) rides up on a horse and immediately starts bad-mouthing the council and its “goldthirsty lackeys” at Ft. Belvoir. He states that they shouldn’t be selling land – It is not their land to sell any more than the air is theirs to sell. After some conversation, and indicating that he can tell that all of the party has the gift, he lets them know that they could do some work for him instead of the Ft. Belvoir goons. He’d provide them a small amount of pay, and additional training of the gift – he will teach them how to tell if another being has the gift.

He has a couple conditions – keep chatter to a minimum, and wear burlap cloaks/tunics over their gear. He doesn’t want the party to be so easily recognizable to strangers.

The party is amenable to his offer, and backtracks around Franconia, and onwards towards Alexandria. About halfway between the two towns, Vludin leads the party north on a small trail. He tells the party that he’s testing them out – he has his own concepts of danger, and the energy he feels from the bugs in this area is both intense and different from what he’s seen before. While he manages other affairs, he wants the team to find the source of the new/strange energy so that he can investigate. They should meet him back at their rendezvous point at high-noon the next day with all evidence and knowledge possible of the strange energy’s source. If the party does not meet him there at that time, or does return then but doesn’t bring back any useful evidence of the source of the new power, he will assume they have either fled, were killed, or aren’t the investigating-types that he needs. He would then find others to tackle this particular problem.

So the party investigates the place – an old farmhouse and surrounding buildings. A few (hopefully) memorable parts:

  • In the very first structure examined, a home-made children’s play-house, Vikna the ranger finds a ring that is determined to have a faint but definite magic aura. Unknown properties, so he let Slow Monk put it on. He isn’t dead yet.
  • There were giant spiders in the smoke house, which turned out to be both pretty stealthy and pretty dangerous.
  • The party discovered the wonder of the free circle of healing, per the psionic ability. Since each person can heal up to 3 points of health to someone else without taking any damage themselves (the 4th starts incurring damage to the caster), we had a big ring-around-the-rosy with 3 hp being handed out like candy. We also had at least one person use the “heal up a hit-die in a short rest”, the first time I think I’ve seen that rule invoked. Neat! People should remember though that both of those healing mechanisms only reset on a long rest.
  • When watching the main structure itself, and old farmhouse, a couple things were noted. On the second floor windows facing south, there was a flash of dark in the window. Very similar to a flash of light, but the opposite.
  • In the farmhouse:
    • There have been several bugs, some of which have gotten ready to use their sonic wail ability, but none have so far lasted past one round for it to be effective. I bet the party is pretty downtrodden that they haven’t been able to see this wonder of nature yet.
    • There were a couple fleshy humanoids hiding in the indoor-privy that splashed to the floor and boiled off when defeated.
    • A couple bug-devoured corpses of other Vludin-sent adventurers, assumedly, based on the fact that they’re wearing the same burlap covers the party is now wearing. But there are only 2 such bodies found.
    • In several rooms, there have been poofs of dirt that drop down from the ceiling in rhythmic pattern, much like a person walking would cause. But dirt…? Why so much dirt?
    • The party is currently on the bottom floor of the house, having almost completely cleared it out, and the session ended as a party member decided to use his Vibrattuned ability to get a sense of what is going on above.

One last note, mechanically speaking – I don’t have logs of casts of abilities. I know we had a burning hands and a Vibrattuned, and a lot of Structural Rebalancing healing, but don’t remember the rest (ki points? other spells?). As the farm house was intended to be a single encounter, I’m hoping people have some idea of what they’ve already used. Not a huge deal if we have a couple extra spell slots retroactively granted due to us not remembering, but this place was built with a one-long rest time limit in mind (since you’re meeting Vludin the next day at noon). So, in the interest of not out-resting everything that comes your way, please do be mindful of that.

1 Indicates explicit alternate branches of plot hooks so far
We can certainly go other directions, but I haven’t built up anything beyond these three (Vludin, Ft. Belvoir, Burke Village), and a couple reserves, so far. I was wondering which of those three you all would choose at the start. Vludin is pleased with you, da!

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