Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Terrinoth #8.1 - Lair of the White Wyvern

Gio, Entana, and Orglath investigate an overturned cart.

Campaign Diary - Part I

Returning to the village of Narmen in the late afternoon, our party learned that two Knights of the Citadel sent by the Baron had arrived earlier in the day. The party told their tale to the knights , and were invited to return to Skydown Castle with them the following day.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Skydown Castle was the baronial seat, and a much grander structure than Fort Rodric. The castle grounds were surrounded by a hexagonal wall, within which stood the barracks of the soldiers, while the castle itself was built on a promontory of rock.

Baron Trevalyan received our heroes in his audience hall, where he listened to their story with much delight. Our four adventurers were given a reward in silver and a new quest, which they quickly accepted.

After dinner, our party were led to the barracks, where they were given beds for the night. Wandering in the compound, Gio came across a shrine to Fortuna, the Lady of Luck and Trickery, outside a gambling tent. He placed a few coins in the offering bowl and closed his eye to pray. While he was doing so he felt someone bump into him; instinctively he turned around and felt for his coin pouch, but he saw no one, and his coin pouch was still on his belt. He opened his pouch and found a gold coin which was not previously there: upon the coin was the likeness and name of Fortuna. When he looked at the offering bowl, he found that the silver coin he had offered had disappeared. Strigoi, hearing the tale, decided to do the same, casting a few copper pieces into the bowl, but was rewarded only by bird droppings on his head.

The next morning our party was told their quest: the village of Arnhild, two days' journey from Skydown, had reported a mysterious illness what had struck down many villagers and resulted in the death of a few. Suspecting that there was more to this than a simple disease, the baron asked them to travel to Arnhild and investigate.

As our party was passing through the castle gate, their mule in tow, a gruff voice called out Strigoi's name. A party of four orcs, led by Shaglot a former member of Strigoi's old company, had just arrived at Skydown, hoping to find employment with the baron. As they had parted on bad terms, Shaglot wasted no time in taunting Strigoi and his association with a dragon hybrid. Strigoi defended Orglath, and just as tempers became heated, Orglath dropped an insult so scathing on the orcs that Shaglot's face blanched and the passing tradesmen roared in laughter. The four orcs turned and walked away, their heads lowered.

On the afternoon of the second day, the heroes came upon an upturned cart in the middle of the track they were traveling upon. Pinned under the cart was the body of a man. Noting the absence of a draught animal or goods, Strigoi suspected an ambush and called for caution, Orglath, Entana, and Gio went up to the cart and lifted it, wanting to free the body. As they did so, the ground beneath their feet gave way - they were standing on a hinged plank that was held in place by the weight of the cart. Orglath and Entana fell into the 10-foot deep pit. Immediately, six goblins rushed out of their hiding place and started attacking the party. Gio bravely held off the goblins, while Orglath helped Entana out of the pit, and Strigoi in turned hoisted Orglath out. Against all four party members, the goblins stood no chance - four were quickly cut down, and the remaining two turned to flee but were shot down too.

Arriving at the small village of Arnhild, our heroes knocked on the door of the first house they came to, and were surprised to see that the occupant was a dragon hybrid named Uth'rul. Uth'rul led the party to the vogt, who told them that that three villagers, all of them children, have died, and ten more, both adults and children, remained ill. Investigations around the village quickly pointed to the water supply being the source of the problem (and uncovered a wife-beater). As the sun was setting, the party decided to travel upstream to further investigate the next morning.

The next day, just as the party was ready to leave, they heard a commotion coming from outside Uth'rul's home - another child had died that morning, and as news of the death got around, emotions ran high, and soon accusations of unspecified wrongdoing were made against Uth'rul and his family, who were unaffected by the mysterious illness, a fact that to the villagers' minds was reason enough to prove that they were responsible for what befell them. A mob had gathered outside Uth'rul's home, baying for blood. The heroes' attempt at defusing the tension failed, and things came to blows, and it was only the arrival of the vogt that caused the crowd to disperse. Uth'rul and his family were taken into the home of the vogt, and the party hurried into the hills, following the course of the stream.


Prepping and Running the Game

The basis of this week's session was Ice Kingdoms: Lair of the White Wyvern, by Mad Martian Games. The core of the story is the same: a village struck by a mysterious illness that is actually caused by the deliberate poisoning of its water supply by the venom of a monster. The players had asked to go on a monster hunt, and this module offered a bit of a twist instead of a straightforward "track monster to lair and have a big fight" scenario. I switched a manticore for the wyvern because the manticore was specifically mentioned as a monster that lived in the Mountains of Despair in the Realms of Terrinoth supplement, and I had a model painted just for the campaign. But more of that in Part II of this session's report.

With three games under our belts, I decided to start introducing elements from the PCs' character arcs into the narrative with this session.

Gio's players' choice of the Arcane Trickster archetype presented a bit of problem for me narrative-wise. As the Arcane Trickster could only take spells from the Enchantment and Illusion schools, I needed to find a way of awarding Gio either more runebound shards which corresponded to those schools - something which I find forced - or else give him a different sort of spell focus. I turned to the supplement book for inspiration, and the description of the goddess of Luck and Trickery gave me the idea of granting an arcane focus that was not a runebound shard. The vignette of an offered coin disappearing gave me the means of introducing the focus in-game.

Strigoi's brush with his ex-colleague was a reminder of his history of violence against the dragon hybrids. His friendship with Orglath is a chance at redemption for him.

The goblin encounter served a few purposes. I wanted to introduce the fact that the roads close to the mountains were dangerous. It also established that goblins were a presence in the area, giving the players a hint that they may be involved in what was happening at the village, and making their appearance in the final "reveal" less contrived. It was also a chance for both the players and myself to "calibrate" the PCs against the goblins, which will allow me to reduce or increase the number of goblins in the final fight accordingly.

The episode with the dragon hybrid family was from the original module, but involving dwarven brewers in the village instead. I used dragon hybrids in this game because Orglath's player's goal in this campaign is to one day see his race accepted as equals in Terrinoth, just as orcs, who were once on the side of the Uthuk during the First Darkness, are now accepted as a "civilised" race. When my players choose to play a non-human race in a game, I tend to want to play up the racism that is in the game world, rather than just let race be about stats.

I broke this session's report into two parts as the final fight of the session took a long time and would make the whole post too long to read at one sitting. Stay tuned for part II tomorrow!

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