Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Terrinoth #13 - Moonspike Tower Part I

Campaign Diary

Our tale opened in the taproom of The Leaky Tap, a dingy inn on the south side of Tamalir, where Whisper had made her temporary home. As she came down from her room on the second floor this evening, she heard a small figure wearing a broad-brimmed hat calling to her, or to be exact calling:"Hey, white-hair!".

The wearer of the hat turned out to be Erkiss, the kobold the party had encountered in the Blackwing Swamp a few weeks before, now disguised as a gnome, and sporting a black eye. Against her better judgement, Whisper sat down at Erkiss' table and listened to his tale:

After the events of the last adventure, Erkiss had found a ruined keep in the middle of the swamp where a dragon laired. He offered to lead a tribe of goblins to the dragon and its treasure hoard for a 10% cut. The goblins drove the dragon off, suffering many casualties, but afterwards reneged on the deal and gave him a beating before kicking him out of the keep. Now Erkiss had come to Tamalir to find his 'friends', whom he hoped will drive the goblins away and give him his 10% cut afterwards.

Time, Erkiss explained, was of the essence - the goblins have suffered many casualties, but with the treasure they have found their leader could attract more followers, and very soon their numbers would swell and they would even become a threat to the humans!

Leaving Whisper to pass the message to the others, Erkiss left The Leaky Tap, promising to meet the party at the south gate at dawn the next day.

At dawn the next day, Whisper, Giso and Tom left the city gates as they were opened and found Erkiss waving at them from behind a tree outside. The kobold led the party westward into the swamps, with the party keeping a close eye on him and Giso insulting him every step of the way.

(Click here for PC profile)

Retracing his step by the means of a series of chalk marks made on tree trunks, Erkiss led our heroes deeper and deeper into the swamp. Whisper made marks of her own, but she also found that she could sense the presence of the green cat's-eye gem (which she had gained from the last adventure) that she had left in Tamalir even from this far.

As dusk fell, our party found themselves before an ancient causeway that ran from the south to the north. Here they made camp for the night. During the second watch of the night they were woken by a deep roar in the distance, which was followed by the sound of something approaching the camp site. Giso cast a light spell on a rock and threw it towards the sound, and found a few panicked deer, which fled away.

The next day saw the party make faster progress northwards along the causeway, and by mid-morning they have arrived at their destination: a ruined fort by the side of the causeway. The design of the fort dated it to the days of the Dragon Wars; much of its walls and three of its corner towers were in ruins, but the largest, the east tower, still stood tall. There, Erkiss informed them, was where the treasure of the dragon was held. Two goblins kept watch from the top of the tower, and another two guarded the gate-less gateway.

The party planned a stealthy infiltration of the compound from one of the smaller ruined towers, dragging the reluctant Erkiss with them. One by one our adventurers scaled the tower, moving only when the vision of the goblin sentries were directed elsewhere; everything seemed to be going well, until Tom's foot dislodged a loose rock, sending it to the swamp below and making a loud splash. The time for stealth was over!

Moving to the ground level, the party ambushed the first two goblins sent to investigated, and then cut through the reinforcements, sending them fleeing back to the east tower. The party gave chase, and for a while did not notice that Erkiss had not followed them.

Climbing up the spiral staircase in the east tower, our heroes quickly despatched a couple more goblin archers. The third floor seemed unoccupied, so Whisper stayed as a rearguard while Tom and Giso continued to ascend.

Arriving at the roof of the tower, Tom and Giso found neither goblin nor treasure. Meanwhile, in the floor below, Whisper heard heavy breathing coming from behind a doorway to her right...

Before she could raise the alarm, a two-headed giant burst through the doorway, swinging a huge spiked club at her. At the same time, two goblins rushed out of a doorway on her left - she was surrounded!

Tom and Giso rushed down from the rooftop upon hearing the commotion, evening the odds in the combat, but beset on both sides, Whisper was knocked out and had to be healed by Giso.

After a hard fight, the party slew the goblins and the giant, whom they noticed was already wounded before the fight. Searching the room where the giant had emerged from, they found a chest filled with old silver coins dating from the Dragon Wars.

Our heroes limped out of the tower to find Erkiss waiting for them outside. When questioned about why he did not warn them about the giant, the kobold grinned sheepishly and claimed he had forgotten to.

Any thought of punishing the kobold for his amnesia was forgotten, however, when the shadow of a large winged form moved across the courtyard of the keep. The party ran for the gateway, but the winged form descended before them: it was a large winged reptilian creature, with... two legs and a tail with a stinger on its end - a wyvern!

It was no dragon, and it too bore wounds from an earlier fight, but it was still a formidable adversary and our heroes were still in no shape to take it on. The four scattered in different directions, yelling out an agreement to meet back at their camp site if they made it out alive. The wyvern roared - a sound which the party now recognised from the night before - and swooped at Whisper, clawing at her as it passed. Whisper turned and dodged as best as she could, until Tom and Giso, regaining their courage, halted their flight and turned to her aid. Together, the three pelted the wyvern with missiles and spells, until it decided they were too much trouble and flew away.

Erkiss emerged from his hiding, and together the party hurriedly made their way south on the causeway. When they returned to their camp site, they counted their haul: some eleven hundred silver Gros. True to their word, our heroes gave 10% to Erkiss, and split the rest among themselves. The kobold used his hat as a coin pouch, declined the party's offer to return to Tamalir with them, and disappeared into the swamp. Tired but fearful of the wyvern finding them, our heroes trekked through the night to return to the city.

Prepping and Running the Game

The planned A Team game did not materialise, but fortunately I had a B Team scenario ready, and Whisper's player was once again able to step up at short notice.

The scenario was a mash-up of a few modules and adventure hooks, but I used Moonspike Tower for the title of this session as the module was the inspiration of the main location of the session.

I got the idea of having a goblin be the quest-giver from a module I read, and decided to use Erkiss from the last session as the players seemed to dislike him for no good reason - sure he worked for a witch and taunted an unfortunate man, but he never really did the PCs any harm!

I ran him as Leslie Chow (international criminal!) from the Hangover franchise - to top it off, I told the players OOC after the game that contrary to his claim, Erkiss did not lead the goblins to the wyvern's lair, but merely chanced upon their attack and hatched up the whole plan, and gave himself a black eye to make the story more convincing.

I enjoyed playing Erkiss, and hope to bring him back in future sessions - who knows what he will do with his small fortune in the meantime?

The scenario was pretty straightforward otherwise, with just two small twists to make things a little interesting. The main fun from the session came after the game, when the players started discussing the significance of their discovery of the ruined keep and the causeway.

I had used the causeway and the ruined keep as they were an element from the Moonspike Tower module, and had earlier had some vague idea about criminal organisations using the causeway as a smuggling route, and my players saw the same potential right away.

The players asked me if they knew anyone they could sell the information to, and I pointed to Therion Lakemane, another B Team character. Whisper's player sent a text to Therion's player (in real life), offering to sell that information to him (in-game). While we were waiting for his reply, Whisper's player discussed her plans for a day job for her - there weren't really many career options for an elf in Tamalir, but she was looking for a job that had a lot of outdoor time...

Then Therion's player replied: not only would Therion buy the information, he would employ Whisper to police the smuggling route as his enforcer!

The offer was quickly accepted, and now I find myself having to plan a whole new arc to the campaign. Thankfully, it is close to winter in our game world, so any plans would have to wait a few months before they could be implemented, which leaves me some time to plot while we play through a few winter-time scenarios in the future.

At this point I am glad I have backed Matt Colville's Stronghold and Followers, which will be delivered soon. Hopefully there are enough numbers in there to help me come up with the costs it will take to refurbish the causeway and the keep, and some numbers for the potential revenue their venture will make.

There are many potential complications and therefore adventure hooks that arise from this: what if another criminal organisation wants to muscle in on their business? How will the two priests of Kellos feel about this? Will Erkiss return and try to claim a piece of the pie?

I have no idea, and I can't wait to find out.

1 comment:

SteveHolmes11 said...

A really good tale.
I like the Erkiss character who I regard as a sort of Artful Dodger type character.
A lovable rogue (lovable to some, but probably despised by others).
A type with loose connections to darker underworld characters, who remains alive due to his wits, ability to strike a deal, or to amuse the powerful.

A hidden causeway with integral fortress has future potential.

Perhaps most interesting was the way that modern tech' (in this case, instant messaging) helped to move events along, when a decade earlier the conclusion would be wrapped un in a following week's preliminaries.

I've come across nothign liek that before, through I once saw a D&D party with one player connected in through Skype.