Monday, May 28, 2018

Overview: DM's Report on the Briars Mapping Expedition and the Seaward Campaign and Pathfinder

  It has been a lot of gaming recently, and my new 45 hour a week contract plus launching my own company (that does stuff other than sell service contracts, see earlier) and my oldest son (who is working for my start-up) landing a sale and being the process of 2 more sales, all in one week....
  Exhilarating, and exhausting, and no time to blog.

Anyway.

Pathfinder
Sam, the 17 year old, fired up a Pathfinder campaign. I play a Diviner, Jack is playing a cleric of Friendship (we call him the CareBear Cleric), and Nick is playing a murdermachi..., uh, fighter.
Great scenario (take the recipe for a cure for a disease from a sage to an alchemist/cleric wife/husband team to make enough for the village being afflicted); good reason for the characters to meet, and dealing with goblins is a great first fight.
I'd never played Pathfinder before; reminded me of Runequest for some unguessable reason, but play was snappy and fun. We're putting it into what we call the 'rainy day rotation'.

Back to the Briars
Team Thief returned to the Briars. After Ol' One Fang, Ol' Knobby, meeting Grandmother, the goblin tribes, the troll tribe, and about 100 spider encounters, they thought it would calm down.
Nope.
They found the Tower and the Pool, a walled compound with a tower, ornamental garden with reflecting pool, and topiaries. At first appearing new and well-tended they eventually saw through the illusion to the ruined, decrepit facility. They could not enter do to some magical effect but sent a fox - who was teleported to what they recognized as the Garden in Skull Mountain! Seeker flew high over the place a dropped a tortoise into the pool, only to see it teleported to the lake on the third moon! That night a strange sight met them - an odd device, about 5' long and 1' wide with a saddle in the middle, and a light in the front, rose out of the pool with a man riding it like a horse or broom of flying. He used the light to search the grounds of the walled compound before flying back into the pool.

Days later the party encountered a group of druids and learned that the grove for the local Druid was hidden within a massive spinney. The party spoke with the lower-ranking druids at length and learned that they were opposed by the Wizard of the Tower. The party had already heard of him and that he lives in the western lower Briars and that it is a title held by many over the years. The Druids believe that the WotT works with the cultists and fear he maintains some sort of curse that keeps the Briars overgrown with thorns.

Later they went to the cottage where the very first adventure they had in Seaward rests on the edge of the Briars - and met an ogre. The ogre was a servant of the WotT and was receiving slaves from cultists in return for support from the Wizard. Notes indicate that the cultists work with/for the WotT, or something, and the WotT was working with the Eldar to get support to Ol' Knobby and the Goblins.

At this point Nick announced,
"My character is now officially a conspiracy theorist. It's all connected, man!"

The party killed the ogre and sent the captive to safety. Confirming the druids' beliefs the party kept on.

The ravens and the observers from the mountain warned them that someone was following them just in time; a strangely dressed man and his three servants entered an ambush. The servants were Sons of Kyuss! Byron turned the Sons and the man easily survived the arrows of the scouts. A fierce battle was angaged but, in the end, the party defeated Musr al-Sahaab, the necromancer brother of the Jann Alchemist they had killed in the Counties 2 (game) years prior. Captured, they were unsure what to do, so they asked Clarence to send his messenger genie to the Caliph of the Jenha (overlord of all good genies on this plane) for his advice. 3 days later a Djinn arrived and took Musr to face justice for his evil ways and betrayal of his sheik.

Later they encountered a platoon of brigands. Being Team Thief they worked hard to eliminate the watch and infiltrate silently only to have the commanding lieutenant charge out of his tent in full panoply for war! Brigid went berserk and the fight was on. The lieutenant was winning (!) handily (!!) when Byron succeeded with a Hold Person. Since the rest of the party was fighting the other 40 brigands Seeker gave him a coup de grace. The henchmen really shone in the large pitched battle.

A later ambush on the party by a band of ogres led by a half-ogre cleric was defeated, then tracked back and the party spent two days whittling down a full ogre tribe. In the end they were able to kill all 31 ogres (that includes women and children, who all fought to the bitter end, refusing quarter). The Party eventually made it all the way back to the Gate (the beginning of the Old Road through the Briars) then went to Skull Mountain to rest, resupply, and catch up.

Along the way they encountered a merchant trying to take 4 pony carts to Skull Mountain. The henchmen were doing their best to follow orders to stay out of sight, but an earlier merchant had been able to trade with some of the hirelings who slipped out to purchase tobacco, ale, and taffy. The party bought his gear and such and sent him back with his 4 surviving guards. They learned that 7 or 8 other merchants had already tried to get to Skull Mountain but only 1 had returned. It seems that the Company spending gold, topazes, and rubies to ship hundreds of pounds of food to Skull Mountain was never very secret....

Seeker spent his time searching the perimeter of Skull Mountain's plateau;
The plateau is about a mile across, is paved with stone where native rock is not the norm, and is surrounded by a stone-lined ditch.
He found a concealed chimney akin to the one from the Kitchen in Skull Mountain's Guardrooms of level 1. A stout metal grate prevented him from entering, but smoke and the smell of distant cooking was very evident.

Other Information
Going through their notes from past discussions, legends, folktales, the books they found at the Ogre's Cottage, notes from the Library of level 3 of Skull Mountain, etc. and asking some questions of the Druids,  the party reached some tentative conclusions:

1) The space battles seen previously appear to be between unknown forces and the navy of the Duke of the Moon.
2) The Duke of the Moon is probably human and good-aligned.
3) The Grand Druid may live on one of the moons.
4) The Eldar cannot lie about any topic but themselves.
5) The Eldar seem to work for/be servants to some other person or group who seems to be evil.
6) Elves are from space.
7) No one is sure why (at least) PC elves don't know elves are from space.
8) A space-faring elven empire meets with the king of the local elves at least once a year.
9) Prophecy says that the High King of Eiru will come from one of the moons
10) The combination of the Control Room, Remote Station #1, Remote Station #2, the Sleeping Princess, and the Montanic Lances seem to be a weapon system capable of firing at spelljammers, perhaps even at the moons.
11) More underground caverns, almost certainly connected to the Cavern of Herds, stretch at least another 1.5 miles east from Skull Mountain.
12) There are caverns/tunnels/levels about a mile to a mile and a half west of Skull Mountain

More to come!