Monday, August 21, 2017

Mapping the Briars: A Really Big Day

The party has been working really hard to do something never before done in 38 years of the campaign: develop a detailed map of the Briars.
  To explain both why this is a Big Deal and why it has never been done before, the Briars is hilly to very hilly terrain covered in thorns, briars, thickets, and thick copses of locust trees about 500 square miles in area. Between the trees often blocking clear sight of the sun or distant landmarks, the lack of clear trails in 90% of the area, and the short sightline (20 yards at most in the high briars!) parties get lost, on average, in 3 days. Clean water is limited, especially in the high briars, and food is wary and scarce. In Summer the weather is very hot and in Winter it is very cold. Travel is slow regardless. On foot, most parties get lost the first week, run out of water in the second week, and die of hunger, thirst, and exposure before they find the Old Road again.
  Then there are the monsters: kobold raiders, small ogre tribes, trolls, and the hippogriffs and gryphons always watching. On top of the commonplace poisonous spiders and asps the place is littered with corpses.

  The party continued, using their communication helm to stay on track, using magic items for food and water, and using the broom to confirm distant landmarks. Between the Saturday and Sunday sessions they spent 3 game months in the high briars, mapping. Here is what they encountered on Sunday:

  • Another kobold war band, quickly dispatched.
  • A group of 9 trolls (!!). A very dicey encounter that was almost as bad as Ol' One Fang. If hadn't been for their Marble Mastodon Figurine it would have been a TPK! As it was, it was a long fight that no one escaped with more than single digit hits. The party had to rest for a few days after, but they did get a Frostbrand from the nearby troll nest.
  • They saw the famous Red Horseman near Grandmother's hut
  • One night near the mountains the sentry spotted the Red Maiden and her massive owl watching them from about a mile away. He alerted the camp and they prepared for something Very Bad to happen with the two Scouts in full Prepared Ambush mode as the religious brother Byron warned them evil was approaching. A chimera burst from the briars right into the ambush and was quickly slain. During the fight the Red Maiden seemed to vanish so Seeker scouted where she had been - and realized she was merely watching while Invisible! After a time she flew away. He found a candy wrapper from a famous candy maker in Adrian with orange fur and black fur stuck to the toffee remnants. The Chimera reverted back into a kobold in an iron slave collar. Close inspection revealed that the collar and been bent into place by a being of incredible strength whose thumbs were on the 'wrong side'...
   Close to Skull Mountain and considering taking a rest, they realized - they had never scouted the mountain's exterior! They did so and mapped the trails around and over Skull Mountain. Nearby they found a campfire with the bare footprints of a human. They found a steep trail that led to a pass to High Morath and the land approach to the Deep. They also found a boulder with a small "cabin" inside it. A cabin that looked a bit like this:

  They eventually figured out how to activate a scrying device that had three different views. With Tongues and such they realized one was the Lunar News Network (whatever that means) and another was the General Education System. They also saw a brief bit that mentioned a wax that 'made swords immune to rust monsters! Special offer, order now! Just send the proper glyph to the second moon!"

  They returned to the Briars and a few days later found the dead body of Erena the Gorgeous, killed by repeated punches and kicks from a human with bare feet....

  On a whim, Seeker donned the communications helm and, at midnight, looked at the second moon and said,
  "I would like to speak to a sales representative."

  In the morning the Man in Purple had a tent nearby and was sitting at a table with the Man in Green. The party spent a prodigious amount of money to ask some questions. So many they were told they had to wait a year to ask more! They learned:

  1. No one knows what the Lurker is, just that Disintegration and lightning seem to cause it pain.
  2. Skull Mountain was originally ruled (and first dug) 8,000 years previously by the Titan of the Mountain. He vanished long, long ago but his brother, the Titan of the Volcano, still looks for him every Midsummer.
  3. Inside Skull Mountain is something called the Contraption that controls the various natural portals to the many elemental, para-elemental, and quasi-elemental planes natural to the mountain.
  4. The Sleeping Princess at remote station #1 is a Marid in a genie pact who is the centerpiece to making the Montanic lances work.
  5. Ol' Knobby was once an ogre, but he has lived in remote station #1 near a broken ward so he is bathed in intense magic while he lives and sleeps there. It has warped and changed him, making him bigger, stronger, smarter, and stealthier
  6. The Men in Colors trade with the royal family of the elves once a year; only the elvish royalty know about this.
  7. The battle they saw in the sky was mind flayers being driven off by the navy of the Duke of the Third Moon.
  8. Lord Whitehill works for the same person that commands the Red Maiden; the Red Maiden is, in fact, a rakshasa. The mysterious commander of them both wants them to create civil wars in Banath and High Morath.
  9. Rupert is a Claric//Magic-user vampire bound about with Geases, Quests, and curses so he is trapped in parts of Skull Mountain, but he could potentially be freed just by having the right conversations. In fact, he once was contained to one tiny room.
  The party learned that the Man in Green's special introductory offer for non-magical weapon wax was limited to 10 jars of the normal wax or 5 jars of the deluxe wax! Brigid bought 3 jars of the deluxe wax (enough for about 3 years) and is treating Mor Altach with it to protect her sword from rust, lightning, and magnetism.
  The Man in Green gave a few prices for skyships (hideously expensive) and mentioned that if they were to light the beacon at Midsummer a skyship would take them to the Third Moon for a per-person fee. The Man in Green gave Seeker a device that would allow him to place an order at will once. he also mentioned that if they wanted armor, weapons, etc. they would need to talk to the Man in Red.

  We broke for the weekend.

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