Kingmaker

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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Kill them all!

Spent (3 months) around Bandit's Rest improving the capital and the kingdom quite a bit.  As an afterthought we slaughtered the rest of the whisps, cleansed the island, and a killed a weird creature the the west.

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Lizards!

We decide to leave the wisps alone for a bit and explore looking for the missing child.  We find him in a lizard camp being tortured by alligator things.  The king tries to kill us but we get him.  A Wisp trying to look like a god of some kind tried to avenge him and we had to slaughter him as well.  We then convinced one of the females to take over as ruler and be our new ally.  Took the boy back to town and handed him back to his parents leveling up to 7.

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Deadly island....

The Whisps on the island were quite shocking and managed to almost kill Jaric with critical lightning touches.  We decide to head back to town and buy a BUNCH of oil to burn off all the nettles.  Also bought a scroll of hallow so the fear affect on the tower goes away.  We didn't manage to clear all the Whisps but we did burn off all the nettles and kill off several of the Whisps.

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The Dancing Lady

We finished exploring the Keep, a couple of traps didn't get us but the dancing lady did.  A Fey that fascinates people by dancing made us all watch while she drained most of Shella's blood.  Claimed the keep then went back to town so she could recover for a few weeks….

Our kingdom is expanding nicely and VERY stable.  We quick pulled in the Dryad and her Satyr so now we have a Grand Diplomat.  We have begun expanding the country again.  

We buy a boat and head off to the island with a keep on it.  Covered in nettles it also has lots of Will O Whips.

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Quest chains

Started off by killing the sythetree for the dryad.  

Manage to convince the Dryad to become our Grand diplomat.  We will bring her tree to life and send her forth!

More hexes explored, Dryad and Nixie are watching our borders.

Killed a Quickling in an old elven fort.  Pain in the neck little guy.  Also a fey assassin guy with a pet assassin vine who got 1-shot by Carl doing 92 dmg at lvl 5.

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It's a Witch!

Sooo, we killed the Witch of the Swamps scarecrow.  Apparently going into her yard was a bad idea.  She is not happy with us.

A provocateur showed up in Bandits Rest.  Although Kriss almost caused problems with a hasty attack it failed.  In an extended debate Gelros shows up the bard and he runs away.

Pulled the wagon of Jubilost Narthropple out of the river.  He is going on an exploration expidition.

Melianse the Nixie was being accosted by lumberjack who wanted to harvest trees by her pool.  We arrange for the lumberjacks to work elsewhere and our High priest to declare her grove a holy site for Erastil.  

 

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We shall rule!

Started ruling our kingdom, players began building major kingdom upgrades.
Explored 3 hexes, cleared a fishing hole from a dangerous snapping turtle (kept the shell).
Got back to town, managed to track down a werewolf but he bit Kriss first….

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