Kingmaker

Observations

Unknown Entry

Observations.

      Menace continues to advance.  Has cleared the village of the interlopers, likely paving the way for more filthy savages to  come and live there.

Sent servant to deal with the one we learned of, servant has failed.   New servants will have to be found.

Observed Menace as it continued to explore the land.  Menace has removed the Bulletes from existence, truly a pity.   We were looking forward to those.   They also killed a nest of spiders and then spent an inordinate amount of time gathering spider silk for some reason.   Watched as they bungled through an ambush set up by the Ettercaps.  I guess when you pit a group of fools against another group of fools, you get what you paid for.

Observations will continue.

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Still In the Dark
Six adventurers walk into an inn...

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 9

The third day of the exploration of the ruins of Varynhold

The search is growing tedious. We should have left the granary alone. It turned out to be full of nothing but rotting grain, rats, and rat carcasses. Moreover, Narzeth, Raven and myself were all bitten by the rats as we drove them off, and all of us feel some horrid disease coming on. I almost burned the place down just to cleanse the town of the filth, but in the end Jaric talked me out of it, somehow. I can't recall why.

We subsequently searched a house, where we found a well-kept loom and a half-starved calico cat. I convinced her to come with us; perhaps she will be useful. If nothing else, she deserves more than a subsistence on diseased rats, which appears to be what she has been eating.

Another house yielded a hidden chamber with a studry wooden box containing an artisan dinnerware set. Looks… attractice, if fragile and mostly useless for practical eating, but Gelros assures me it is valuable. There is also a note that the set was intended for King Noleski Suratova's eldest daughter, so whoever owned this home must have either been well-connected or aspired to be.

A third house was the home of a tailor… but I am rambling. From this and several other dwellings, we recovered nothing of note.

Toward mid-afternoon we found the town blacksmith, which sits near livestock pens previously filled with horses. When we arrived, however, there was nothing alive but a swarm of carrion fowl. These we were forced to fight off as well, and, like the rats, it was unpleasant. Raven and Gelros both sustained injuries to their eyes and are temporarily blind. Raven looks miserable.

The blacksmith itself is undamaged and will make valuable salvage, but we are no closer to uncovering what really happened here. It is now nearing dusk and we've retired to our campsite for the night. Gelros has fortified Shella with some type of magic that will allow her to stay awake while she sleeps, so we will be ready. (Don't ask me how that works; some kind of trace maybe.) I'll write more tomororow. Here's to a peaceful evening.

The fourth day of the exploration of the ruins of Varynhold

​​​​​​​

Well. I hope we can finally put that soul-eater thing behind us. It arrived again, toward midnight, and went straight for Gelros despite our fire barrier. As I mentioned, we were prepared, but even so everything happened so fast that we almost lost Gelros. The… thing arrived and struck Gelros twice with it's claws; from his reaction it was clearly dealing more than just physical damage. Jaric awoke but was too far away to cast his protective spells before the creature attacked again. (Mental note: next time make sure the priest beds down next to the known target he wished to protect.)

At the end, a number of things happened almost at once. The soul eater attacked again, knocking Gelros to the ground. Jaric stood and began scrambling over. The creature reared back and seemed poised to attempt some type of coup-de-grace, but Shella (mostly) and Kris (a bit) at that exact moment rent it into shreds. In a matter of seconds, the unnatural screams had died down, the shadows had dispersed, and it was over.

We were quite shaken, as you might imagine. Gelros was staring blankly, unresponsive. Jaric examined Gelros and accounced he had a wound to his psyche which was beyond his power to heal until he prepared special magic. We did what we could to make him comfortable, and then rested fitfully until morning. Fortunately, by mid-morning, Jaric had restored Gelros to his usual commanding self. He also healed Raven of her blindness. We all still feel ill, though, having yet to shake off the effects of the rat-borne diseases.

Of the rest of the exploration, there is only a little to report. I spoke with the calico cat (don't look at me like that; can't everyone speak with cats?) and she told us her "feeders went away at red sun time" (dawn? dusk?) with the "bird song" and she knows nothing else. She does seem to be a good mouser; I'm taking her back to the farm. Also, she likes fish. We searched the local church of Erastil and found several quite powerful magical scrolls that Jaric can make use of. 

The most intriguing find to date was the Inn. The Inn showed signs of struggle, in addition to the normal signs of benign abandonment: a dead spriggen was in the corner, and the front door is scratched with the single word "Nomen," which is apparently the name of that Centaur tribe to the east. Of greater interest is that we appear to have found the notes and belongings of Gelros' old professor, Maestro Ervil Pendrod, who we have been looking for. From his journal, it seems he was invited to research the jade bracelet that Gunderson discovereed. There are several sketches and notes; it appears this artifact has something to do with pre-historic centaur migrations?

Frankly, I was more interested in Pendrod's geography books. Of note, one volume was dog-eared at a passage about an island named Vordakai's Island with riches and some kind of guardian; a marginal note mentioned it might be a centaur God? Intriguing. Still, none of this has explained what became of the town's inhabitants.

I fear we will leave without a satisfactory explanation, and I hestitate to recommend that we claim the town for Arboria until we know what happened and can prevent it in the future. Ah well. For now, to rest and prepare for the journey home.

Game Mechanics

  • Killed Rat Swarm (5400 XP)
  • Killed Mass Murder of Crows (4800 XP)
  • Killed Soul Eater (4800 XP)
  • Found…

    • 37 gp, 52 sp, 114 cp
    • The professor's books (worth 500 GP to his academy)
    • A viola, with case (by a master craftsman, worth 2,000 GP)
    • Cure Serious Wounds (x3), Remove Paralysis (x3), Restoration (x1), Break Enchantment (x1), Raise Dead (x1), Breath of Life (x1)
  • The map counts as exploring hexes w/in 2 squares of Varynhold

    • (3,11) is plains (150 XP), infested w/ spiders
    • (4,11) is hills (150 XP)
    • (4,12) is plains (150 XP), infested w/ bulettes
    • (5,10) is mountains + river (150 XP)
    • (5,11) is plains (150 XP)
    • (6,11) is hills (150 XP)
    • (6,10) is mountains (150 XP)
    • (6,9) is hills + lake (150 XP), vast fields of mineral-enriched mud
       
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The Phantom of the... Garrison?
Or, "Things that don't go bump in the night but you wish they did"

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 9

The second day of the exploration of the ruins of Varynhold

In the end, it was a near thing. The gnomebarians had spread oil on the rooftop and were about it light it aflame when Shella and I dispatched the last two. As they collapsed, the oil lit. Shella began fighting it with her magical water creation, and Raven appeared out of nowhere with a bucket. I… I'd like to say I helped, but mostly I fumbled down a rope and nearly lit myself on fire. In the end it was Narzeth, who had the foresight to fill his haversack with water, who doused the fire and saved the day.

The combat was not without a toll. Once the battle finished, Shella looked as if she was pretty well spent. Kris has poisoned spike wounds in his feet, although he seems to be holding up ok. Raven, of course, is more dour than ever, and Narzeth is in a sour mood along with her. Still, the mood has cheered considerably as we've, ah, salvaged the useful items from this garrison. We've found considerable spoils from the fight, including several magical weapons. Perhaps more valuable is a torn but still decipherable map of the holdings of Varynhold that will make exploration to the south significantly easier.

Unfortunately, most of the durable goods have either been burned (in the case of the furniture), eaten (in the case of the homing pigeons), or broken (in the case of, well, everything else). Despite the filth ande destruction, we did find a storeroom filled with useable supplies.

In any case, it is now late and we are about to retire to the relative safety of the stockade tower. Kris and I are wary of whatever it is that has been watching us these past few nights.

The third day of the exploration of the ruins of Varynhold

Horrors! It is, by my estimate, five of the morning, and the sky is finally lightening to the east. I write by candlelight to keep myself awake. The adversary we're standing watch against makes yesterday's assault on the gnomebarians look like a pleasure hike. Daylight will be welcome respite.

Shortly after my watch ended and Kris's began, we were surprised by a phantom, or a shadow… something not natural. Gelros calls it a soul eater (cheery name, yes?) and claims it is not of this plane of existence. I can believe it. The creature seeps through walls as if they were merely sheets of water or mist. It attacked us in our bunkroom and dealt Gelros some horrid internal wound with it's ethereal claws. Gelros awoke screaming, and that is what woke the rest of us.

Conventional weaponry was of little use unless enchanted; my falchion did nothing. Fortunately, Jaric was able to place a sort of ward upon most of the party; his ward prevented the creature from attacking further, while Narzeth and Raven drove it off with their arcane magic.

Temporarily only. The creature was back again within a few minutes, and again sought out Gelros. This time we were ready with our best weapons, and we drove it off again. It proved impossible to track; it simply disappeared into the night. None of us have slept since then, although the creature hasn't made a third appearance.

The sky is lightening, and I am so tired. I spoke with the others, and we plan to sleep until afternoon to recover some strength and give Gelros a chance to heal. Tonight we'll be ready.

Later that same day

The day has been uneventful. We woke in the late afternoon and searched several more buildings, including what appears to have been a gemcutter's house (ransacked and torn down to the frame) and a wizard's hamlet. We found a small box that Narzeth claims is a "folding boat" (sounds fantastical; I'll believe it when I see it) and the mangled journal of one Wiless Gunderson, ranger of Varynhold, with some interesting tidbits of information:

  • There is a tribe of centaurs to the east who have been troublesome
  • Apparently Gunderson found a "bracelet by the river" but the rest of the page was missing
  • One torn out page contained only a single symbol, which Gelros identified as a rune to ward off bad luck

This night I prepared a campfire wall. It is a trick I learned the mechanics of long ago from my adoptive Elven family, but I had never been able to execute it properly until tonight. It requires careful preparation of the circle with thorn ash and linking with a campfire in the center, and I still don't really know why it works. Nevertheless, we are now protected within a sphere of crackling flame. If the phantom tries to reach us tonight it will find us a harder target.

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A Slow Assault
In retrospect, it would have been quicker to let Narzeth burn the building down

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 9

Following Shella's dramatic entry into the fray, things settled into the somewhat more familiar routine of assaulting a well-manned tower, except with less precision and organization that I am used to.

We cleared the courtyard first. Shella, Kris, and Narzeth dispatched the remaining wolves and gnomebarians (can I call them gnomebarians? They're sort of gnomes, but mostly barbarians) in between us and the tower. Raven lost her raven to a mighty club blow, which left her distraught and ineffective. Gelros, as inspiring as ever, led the battle in song and chant and threw a well-placed spell occasionally. Jaric, in his slow, lumbering way, kept us all standing upright and put in some swings of his own.

The tower itself was more of a challenge. The builders of the stockade had thought the design through thoroughly. The tower boasted overlapping fields of fire on the 1st and 2nd level, as well as murder holes and a labyrinthine interior that made progress difficult. In the end, I believe my return fire through the arrow slits is what allowed us to gain the entryway. In the end, we sent Kris in through the front door (after he conveniently found another pit trap and fell into it for us so we'd all know where it was) and Shella in through the roof with a well-placed rope and grappling hook.The rest was a slog, and eventually a mop-up. Kris broke down two doors, after which he and Jaric were able to fight their way through the ground level. Meanwhile, Shella entered one of her battle trances (rages? frenzies?), tore through the thatch, and cleared the second floor. I could follow her progress through the arrow slits by the blood and screams. Eventually, I too climbed to the roof and followed Shella in. All resistance broke soon after, but  then there was the matter of the fire to deal with. [To be continued…]

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Kabourophobia
In Soviet Arboria, crab eats you!

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 9

Between border patrols and searching for a suitable sawmill site to resolve some kind of feud between two large and powerful Arborian families who apparently can't figure out how to share some trees and saws, I have been busy these past three months. A few weeks ago, the others (minus Shella; who knows what mischief she was getting into) set off to scout the path to Varynhold. Recently, Gelros sent for Shella and I to join them in visiting Restov. Which we did, of course.

Restov! It has been a long time. In retrospect, that's probably just as well; cities were never really my thing. In between the pomp and circumstance, I found a few moments to slip away to visit some old friends… and potentially recruit them. Fingers crossed. There isn't much else to say about the visit, except that the magic shops are quite well provisioned compared to back home in Bandit's Rest.

Departing Restov, we continued on to Varynhold. It was a short trip; it seems we consumed most of the time debating the relative merits of various forms of river transporation. I believe in the end Gelros decided to comission some magic feather boat tokens or some such? Whatever; swimming is often easier. Anyhow, we reached the outskirts of Varyhold without event.

Now at Varynhold, we are preparing for exploration. The night prior, I swear we were being watched, though I spotted nothing. I would have written it off as paranoia except that Kris felt the same. We will keep closer watch tonight.

Later that morning…

As we explore, I am keeping notes of what we have found. So far:

  • Several homes have been abandoned seemingly in the middle of daily activities. No sign of struggle or hurried packing either. Strange.
  • Kris got in a fight with a pair of dire boars. Kris won. I guess we'll have boar meat for dinner. The hides are ruined, though.
  • Centaur hides at the tannery! Unsettling.
  • We found a brewery. The beer may or may not still be good (I'm sure Shella will test it for us soon), but we did find a recipe as well.

Another entry later in the day, written in a decidedly shakier hand

I must say, being very nearly consumed by a giant nightmarish crab really puts a dent in one's self-confidence. It appeared out of the river shallows (involuntary shudder), grabbed me, paralyzed me with its mouth tentacles (how am I even writing this? I'm breaking out in a cold sweat all over again!), and prepared to devour me. In the nick of time, Gelros, who was behind me (I was leading the way across the ford) regained his composure and scared it into dropping me with some kind of magical effect. Good thing for me he did too: drop me it did (Bessie too, which it had also nabbed), and I sunk into the river (still unable to move). As I understand it, the others dispatched it quickly as I was sinking, with Jaric putting in the finishing blows.

With the help of the others and some rope, Kris pulled me out within a few seconds, and a few seconds later I found myself able to move again. I was pretty badly shaken, but Bessie was worse; she had run off in a panic. Jaric kindly restored us to health.

As luck would have it, there was one good thing about sinking involuntarily to the bottom of a muddy river after being nearly eaten by a crustacean from hell: I spotted a tunnel, obviously of crafted origin. Kris tried to swim it, as did I, but in the end it was Shella, with her superior lungs, who made it all the way through. It turned out to link the river to the well within the stockade to the South. The original purpose of the tunnel is unclear, but it helped us determine that (a) the stockade was occupied, and (b) Shella had an entry point.

Unsure of the stockade's inhabitants or their purpose, we decided first to approach directly and hail them. Plan B was the usual: pop out Shella to murder everyone in reach while Narzeth knocks out everyone else. And so we approached the tower on the road through the south end of Varynhold (still empty, more notes on that later), disabling several pit traps as we went. Shella, meanwhile, returned to the well to await insertion if things went to, well, let's say to the crabs.

As we approached the stockade, we found it guarded by helmets propped upon sticks. With the gate wide open. Ha! No one replied to Gelros when he called out, so we walked in. Turns out that was the easy part.

What a fight! Still shaky from being half-crushed to death by a murderous arthropod, I let the others lead. Chaos ensued. Literally. We encountered a strange, barbaric humanoid and four dire wolves. More of the creatures started to appear, while Narzeth cast some spell that threw the wolves into confusion such that they turned on each other. Meanwhile, Gelros did something that created a terrible racket in a language I've only ever heard once, in a combat with a devil. I'm not sure quite what else it did, but given that Shella suddenly appeared in the midst of the stockade in a puff of purple smoke with a flaming sword, I'm going to say it summoned Shella. And that's when the crossbow bolts began flying. [To be continued…]

Game Mechanics

  • Explored a couple of hexes
  • Visited Restov and found many magic items available for sale
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Behold the Duke!
He who controls the spice controls the universe.

Kingdom of Arboria Year 2 Month 8
We have received a rather unusual request. A few days ago we were approached by one Airiel Avaularas, an Elven member of the Pathfinder Society. She has requested permission to found a Pathfinder Lodge in Bandits Rest. Since any lodge would provide an influx of talented people willing to go scary places and solve odd problems we have accepted the offer. Indeed we will grant them access to the new town hall building to be their lodge and become official patrons.

Kingdom of Arboria Year 2 Month 9
Apparently the size and scope of Arboria has impressed the royal court back in Brevoy. I recieved today a new patent of nobility, granting me rank equivalent to a Duke within the peerage of Brevory.

It seems that the people of our kingdom have an excess of… enthusiasm. A rather large group decided to head into the some of the unclaimed northern reaches and set up on their own financial endeavor. It seems to have gone well for them and there is a thriving lumber camp up there. However the people involved (two families called the Hatfields and Mccoys apparently) have descended into a warlike feud over who owns the camp. Normally this wouldn't be something that needs our attention but the families are very well connected locally and their conflict has spilled over into the other parts of the kingdom. Something will have to be done but I haven't decided what yet.

Gelros Zhevons Travel Log

  • Entered the Varyn Heights (southern border of Brevoy). Found an abandoned border fort. Looks like a well organized withdrawl.
  • Found the town of Nivakt's Crossing. There is a surpisingly large selection of magical items here for the size. The mayor seems nice enough.
  • Now traveling south on a newly constructed road through a legitimate mountain range. Found the body of Tomin Hanvaki, a local aristocrat. Kris spotted buzzards circling over the body. I will have to tell his brother Edrist the news.
  • Have reached the outskirts of Varyn's Hold. It appears abbandoned but we feel it would be better to come back when fully prepared.

Game Mechanics
Kingdom Size 26 – 1 New Settlements, 5 New Buildings (+ housing), 5 Terrain Improvements, 3 Hex Claims
Kingdom Size 30 – Brevoy recognizes larger nations status
Event – There is a hatfield/mccoys style feud over a newly created sawmill created in hex to north. Until we build another sawmill to separate the feuding familites the kingdom will suffer (-1 Loyality, Stability, Economy).

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Manifest Destiny
Build me a cathedral! No! Sudo build me a cathedral?

The 2nd Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

Much has happened in the past several weeks, but I have had little time to write about it. I'm stealing a quiet moment now as I travel to survey the northern plains, which Gelros has decided to claim as the next frontier to add to the growing Kingdom of Arboria.

But let me back up. Following the purging of the troll lair and the reclamation of its bounty, we returned to Bandit's Rest to deal with the devastation wrought by the mad owlbear. We sent a small party of laborers guarded by warriors of the Hand of Gorum to retrieve the remaining useful goods that we could not carry back ourselves. They have not yet returned. In the meantime, there is much work to be done.

Gelros is personally directing the rebuilding of the castle. Meanwhile, he and the others have commissioned me as the Marshall of Arboria. At first I was surprised, but then I realized that Gelros is desperately in need of qualified individuals to feel crucial leadership positions. Making me the Marshall frees Jaric to take the Warden's position and turn his attention to the city. I think this is wise. However, my new responsibilities as the guardian of the frontier leave little time for leisure.

At home (how quickly Arboria has become home!), the citizens have been demanding a cathedral. Sometimes I do not comprehend the masses: the lose homes, shops, libraries, and taverns, but what do they want? A religious establishment so they can be beguiled into giving up their precious money to the various churches!

-Nith

The 3rd Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

The caravan to the troll lair has returned. They were attacked en route by a forest drake and lost 7 good foot soldiers. I have a note to track it down so we can dispatch it.

-Nith

The 5th Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

We have been busy! The rebuilding of Bandit's Rest continues at a steady pace, but Gelros has been conserving resources to construct a cathedral. The unrest over our lack of religious facilities continues to threaten stability, but it has not proven difficult to deal with… yet. The other lords also had to deal with a nascent cult of, what did they call them, gnomercists perhaps? Apparently there are those who think that gnomes are inferior and should be purged from among us. Gelros will have none of that attitude here; ours is a merit-based society.

Progress continues on the northern frontier: roads and farms springing up everywhere. I'm trying to promote responsible development practices so that the land can continue to support wildlife for hunting, fishing, and the like. It's too early to tell whether anyone is listening. In any case, the north plains are rapidly becoming the breadbasket of Arboria and I have spent much of my time recently coordinating patrols to ensure their safety.

In other news, some famous scholar or another made several important discoveries while helping to rebuild and reorganize the castle libraries. It has increased Arboria's standing among other small kingdoms quite a bit.

-Nith

The 6th Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

​​​​​​​At last, the cathedral is built! In the ensuing revelry, the peasantry got drunk and lit several homes and businesses on fire. One house burned to the ground. Typical.

The borders have been quiet, and Arboria continues to prosper. I am fully settled into my new role and working to establish an official post and survey service for the kingdom, rather than simply the haphazard local yeoman patrols I have been working with up until now. (In fact, I have a request out to an old friend to see if he will join me.) Still, we've managed to completely explore the surrounding lands and continue to add more land to the kingdom.

We did finally track down and destroy that pesky forest drake. It was almost not worth the trip for the whole party: I placed only a single arrow in it before Narzeth simply blew it out of the air with a fiery ball. Shella seemed disappointed. Kris seemed bored.

With the cathedral finally built, we are turning our attention toward an expedition to Varynhold, which has been at the back of my mind for a while now. Word of our impending journey has leaked out, and there is much interest in it. We've received requests to bring back all manner of strange items, from fresh eels and a roc egg to someone's sister. I look forward to departing soon; I need some fresh adventure.

-Nith

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A Wall of Corpses
Do you know what smells surprisingly better than troll? Burnt troll!

The 1st Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

I write this having momentarily stepped outside the ancient dwarven fortress for some fresh air. Years of combat experience prepares you for the stench of caves inhabited by barbaric halfwits, but that doesn't make it pleasant.

Let me explain. Following the unsuccessful scrying attempt a few days ago, Gelros decided to turn our attention to a more mundane matter: tracking down and eliminating a nuisance band of trolls that has recently been terrorizing the southern borders of the realm. He enlisted my aid in finding them, and with a little searching we tracked them to a stone tower in the far southwest of the land surrounding Arboria.

Despite being a ruin, the position was easily defensible. Nevertheless, after some discussion, the party decided upon a frontal daylight assault. Against a conventional military, this would have been a disaster. Trolls, on the other hand, are not that bright. The lookout had apparently fallen asleep, so, to my amazement, we succeeded in surprising the troll band at the entrance to the tower.

What followed was a long, protracted combat through the tower's lower rooms and the series of crudely dug caves behind them. We slaughtered perhaps fifteen trolls, if memory serves, and maybe a dozen dog-like beasts that shared a surprising number of qualities with their masters. ("Slaughter" really is the best word here, I think. The lady Shella was in some kind of battle trance, and at one chokepoint we piled the trolls five deep. Blood was everywhere. My new boots will never be the same.)

The Lords of Arboria have a chaotic but, somehow, nevertheless effective battle style. It follows no military doctrine that I am aware of. The… slayer, apparently they call him, Kris, his cat, and the lady Shella traded positions on the front lines for the most part. Oddly, Gelros himself and even Narzeth also led the charge at points. Neither wear significant armor. This therefore led to unnecessary and what looked like painful injuries. Despite his armor, Jaric was often catching up rather than standing at the front. This is most likely because his attention was occupied closing wounds that troll claws and teeth had opened in the other party members' flesh, which slowed him down. Meanwhile, I followed military discipline and kept up a sustained fire of arrows from the back ranks. No troll or hound came within 15' of me.

The wanton abandon with which Shella and, to a lesser extent, Kris throw themselves into battle is undoubtedly effective. When a massive, deranged, two-headed beast of a troll appeared, Shella and the others dropped it (on top of herself and Jaric, I might add) before I could loose a single arrow. Later, the party churned through an inner chamber where they slaughtered at least two larger and more powerful troll specimens. I had poor visibility, but I did see flashes of fire. It appears at least one of our opponents was either an alchemist or a trained spellcaster? Speaking of fire, it proved valuable: apparently burning the trolls defeats their unnatural ability to heal quickly. Narzeth and Raven both used fire spells, while Jaric and Shella employed flaming weapons.

Despite our ability to murder anything in our path, the poor battle tactics did ultimately take a toll:  Gelros and Raven were hurt badly, while both Kris and his cat both nearly died (on separate occasions no less). I believe only I was unscathed.

One thing I did witness was a particularly disturbing display with the final troll hound. Shella did… something hideous to it and the hound began to spout, no, fountain blood everywhere. Shella then cupped the raining blood in her hands and forced it into the mouth of the unconscious Kris… who immediately sat up and regained some strength. I have never seen the like. In fact, I wish I could unsee it. Combat is one thing, but that type of sorcery sears the memory in a different way. Useful or not, it's repulsive.

I believe we were all somewhat shaken by the fight. It is now  several minutes later; we are taking a brief rest to recover before conducting a thorough search. A cursory search has already uncovered a mysterious amulet, a hefty sack of gold and silver pieces, a necklace of shiny orange beads (Narzeth tells me they are enchanted and will explode into fireballs when thrown), and a storeroom filled with now blood-soaked supplies. We should have a more thorough accounting in an hour or two.

-Nith

P.S. Gelros is a font of knowledge about seemingly everything. And apparently able to keep his wits and sense of humor in the heat of battle: when Shella called out "This troll is covered in rocks," Gelros immediately replied "That's because it's a rock troll!" …as if that explained everything.

Game Mechanics

  • Explored hex (9,1) – forest hex
  • Explored hex (9,0) – forest hex with ancient dwarf fortress, previously occupied by trolls
  • Gelros recalls that there is a gnome who will pay $$ for knowledge of this fortress
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A Tale of Somewhere Between Two and Ten Owlbears
The journal of Nithlara Treadlight

The 1st Month of the 2nd Year of the Kingdom of Arboria

It has been years since I recorded anything in this journal, but the last few weeks have been so strange that perhaps it is time to take up the habit again. Upon my return from Varynhold (a story in itself, but for another day), I found the city of Bandit's Rest in flames. The citizenry's panicked description was a 30' tall beast, part owl, part bear, which had savaged the city guard and destroyed many of the buildings. Being unemployed, I volunteered my services to the city's leadership. As it seemed rather unwise to track the beast solo, I first set out to find the Lords of Arboria, inform them of their realm's plight, and relay the request for aid from the city.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the path of the beast and the Lords of Arboria was intermingled for many miles, but eventually diverged. Shortly after, I found the Lords of Arboria at the entrance to a cave—a lair of some kind, although I only made it to the entrance—in which they had clearly fought a pitched battle. Scorched spiders and centipedes crunched underfoot, and nearby were the remnants of some extraordinarily large mushrooms and what appeared to be… a tree perhaps? Strange. I couldn't see much further into the gloom, but the Lords had clearly explored further. One was carrying what was unmistakably a baby owlbear (for what purpose, I don't know; but it seems unwise). Another had a bundle of looted treasure. The Baron Gelros held what looked suspiciously like a head in a sack, but it's not my place to ask questions.

Having delivered my message, I again volunteered my services to track down "Papa" owlbear, as he was apparently now affectionately known amongst the Lords. (It seems likely to me that the cave was Papa's lair, but why the Lords were there in the first place they didn't say.) After some six hours, we found it… rampaging through the forest and behaving quite un-owlbear-like, in my opinion. The Lords of Arboria engaged and killed it, with some minor assistance on my part. Annihalted, more like; it was impressive. I thought I was skilled at hunting such creatures, but the level of pain produced by the Iron Lady and the ranger with his cat… I'd not cross them if I were you.

The Lords of Arboria themselves are a exceedingly informal lot. They don't use titles amongst themselves; Gelros even went out of his way to request that I not call him "Lord." Perhaps it is a sign of leadership that values wits and skills over rank and station? That would be a welcome change from the lands to the North. Gelros himself is a compelling leader and appears quite capable as a ruler. Iron Lady Shella is hard as nails and, frankly, frightening. Apparently she believes combat is worship of her deity or some such; whatever it is she is certainly effective. I understand her to be the military leader of the realm. Kris, the ranger? druid?, is hard to read, and it isn't clear what his role is. Jaric Yongostich, the war priest, was somewhat dour, but that may have been on account of his near-death experience in the cave? He strikes me as a man of civilization; I would think his talents would be better spent closer to the city than in his current role of Marshall leading patrols of the borders. Which brings me to the magician Narzeth and his consort Raven. Narzeth himself seems personable and highly knowledgeable, if a little off. The lady Raven, on the other hand, scares me for reasons I can't put my finger on. There is no question that both of them have a powerful grasp of the arcane, as demonstrated in battle.

But where was I? We returned to Bandit's Rest to find extensive devastation and significant unrest. I can't blame the townsfolk for being unhappy about the aftermath of the owlbear's unnatural rampage, even if Shella did parade its head through the streets in a show of force, and even though Gelros had two fallen local leaders raised from the dead. (Deep pockets! I don't believe one just casually raises the dead.)

As the leadership dispersed to deal with the situation, I found a spare moment to inform Gelros of the strange situation in Varynhold. At this point, he put me on retainer and requested that I stick close. (Interestingly, I have even been privy to several council meetings, as nobody told me to leave. I suppose either my reputation for trustworthiness precedes me or else they are too foolish to keep my ears away?)

Gelros invested significant effort in investigating the cause of the owlbear's rampage. Apparently they had found a ring of uncut gems bound together with hair back in the owlbear's lair that appears to have been used against the owlbear and somehow influenced the situation. Gelros consulted some type of water spirit living to the west of the city as to its origins. (Interesting acquaintance there; I wonder how he made that particular alliance?) who informed us that the magic was beyond what she knew to be available in the area. After examining the ring, Narzeth informed us with confidence that it was a ring of bestial friendship, which allows the charming of magical beasts, but that it was cursed. He claims to have very specific knowledge of the curse as well: the curse would enrage the charmed beast and cause it to seek out civilization and attack. (How one gets all of this out of a mere ring, I don't know, but the others appear to trust Narzeth's judgment and it certainly isn't my place to question it.) But stranger yet was when Narzeth attempted some type of magical ritual in his tower in order to discern information about the ring's creator: the ring exploded in his hands in an electrical storm! (I was there at the time, dutifully awaiting an assignment from Lord Gelros, I mean just Gelros. And I don't know what was worse, the electric shock or the strong smell of burnt hair that came with it when the ring blew apart…) Whether this is a normal outcome of magical rituals I am not sure, but I plan to keep my distance next time.

We are not much closer to solving the mystery of the owlbear rampage. Plus, there is the disappearance of every soul in Varynhold to worry about. Coincidence? Perhaps… but suspicious. This River Kingdoms move has proved far more interesting than I thought it would be. Now to see if I can peddle this short-term contract for Gelros into a permanent position. After all, it appears Varynhold won't be needing a head scout just now, so I am still unemployed.

-Nithlara Treadlight

P.S. What did the lady Shella do with that owlbear cub anyway? When it grows up it will be quite interesting to see if she can truly keep it under control. 

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Exploration

This was a time of exploring and expanding our knowledge of the kingdom.  We didn't do a kingdom phase but got allot of territory covered.  A monster that specializes in luring party members away and killing them attacked the party and got driven off.  We were glad we didn't kill it at the camp site as it's lair had allot of loot in it.  Session ended with us getting surrounded by spiders, mushrooms, and a shambling mound in a cave.

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