Return to Renlen
delivering the goods and news

It took a week to reach Renlen, given the ponderous pace at which the wagons moved on the game trails and the fact that it snowed for two days once the team reached the main road. Three wagons, additional horses, and a group of only four able men plus one teenage girl made for tough work rotations. The broken wheel on one of the wagons on the third day out didn’t help, either.

Once over the Bremervar Hills – a low divide that runs east-west about a day south of Renlen and from the northern slopes of which one can see the distant town on a clear day – the team ran into a few travelers on the road, and passed a few farmsteds that form the southern extent of the greater Renlen area. Exchanging pleasantries and brief news is customary on the road, and one farmer, Murryn Bechtal, recognized Kit and the others and made sure to stop and talk for a bit, sharing the latest from the last few weeks during which the team had been away.

The town was in a state of alarm, and had been for several days, after it was confirmed that two northern farmsteds had been attacked, ravaged, and the families slaughtered. Smoke from the burning buildings, some miles apart, had alerted the town guard, and a combination of Watch members and volunteers found the terrible truth. The only clues were clawed tracks in the snow and several long, rough arrows found in bodies and walls. Scoffers held their tongues now at the stories of the ‘Wolfen’ from the other side of the Sconays, as it seemed the beasts had come south of the mountains in search of more prey.

Upon reaching Renlen and reporting to Dahr Morleigh, the team was relieved of the wagons and supplies, and congratulated by the town’s leader. Again, their deeds would be put into the official chronicle, and Morleigh saw to it that news of what they’d done was made public in order that other residents could offer their thanks and wealthier citizens could reward them, as was the custom. Morleigh was also interested in anything they knew about the Wolfen, as they now seemed an immediate threat, although they’d not attacked anything in the days since their work had been discovered.

The owner of the horses you’ve been using will happily take five of the eight additional ones you have in trade for the four he’d loaned you – his are better animals, and so the imbalance is fair. He’ll then buy the other three from you for a total of 100GP, if you’re interested. Given that it’s winter and business is slow overall, these are fair prices and valuations. The wagons and supplies are turned over to the local government, as is the norm in situations like this. Being entered into the official chronicle is a social honor and can, over time, grease the skids to economic and political favor, as well.

Maerith is a question mark. She’s an interesting girl – a little too glib and wannabee-worldly for her age (16), and a little too much (physically) of a woman than a father would hope her to be. She’s probably gotten herself in trouble for those traits more than once. Your sense is that she really was kidnapped, and then tried to make something of an adventure of it. Two months of doing dishes, scrubbing clothes, and being the camp pump, however, got old really quickly. She’s at something of a crossroad, perhaps, bearing equal measures of shame, a desire for normalcy, and a native wild streak that could either serve her well or be her undoing. What do you do with her?

The revelation about Dahr Anhoffer and his stooges, and the evidence to support it, is another issue. What do you do about this?

The issues of Maerith and Anhoffer are ones that I’d assume you’d discuss and think about as you traveled north to Renlen, and I assume that you’d be subtle about discussing what to do about Maerith if you chose to be that way. The Wolfen attacks, obviously, are news to you upon arrival.

Heading Home
and what of the crooked Dahr?

This picks up right as Morgren is trying to explain away the fact that he drew a dagger on Renli and the group is considering where to go next and what to do. The previous post was getting really long with comments so I decided to start another one. Take it away!

Renli picks up the other helmet and drops it in the fire, too. “There! Anyone want it and you can get blisters for it. Tomorrow when they cool I’ll take them and I’ll see that they’re properly disposed of,” the dwarf growls at everyone and no one.

“That scimitar seems okay – Aiomeadyn gives me no reason to dislike it.”

The End of the River Bottom Boys
...for the most part

After defeating the RBB team in the hills among the game trails, and seeing the ‘Iron Fist’ fly away on a midnight-black steed, the team interrogated Abel and Bihley, getting from them the full admission of the gang’s operations, leadership, base location, and future plans.

Een, their leader, and his two buddies, Riyt and Teriff, claimed to have found some spot to the distant west where they could all start a new, free settlement that would make them all rich. Near a vast lake and in the vicinity of ancient ruins, they said, they’d be free, powerful, and rich beyond their dreams. Banditry, therefore, was only a means to an end: that of collecting enough supplies and support to make the great journey. Een claimed that the Iron Fist had invited them, and the silent thing’s appearance and assistance now and again made Een and his two friends the alphas of the group for sure – the other feared them all, and hoped the promises of a better future were worth all the trouble.

Cyrus Ahnoffer, the Dahr of Indoschan, was for whatever reason complicit in the banditry, giving information now and again to the gang, in trade for them doing business with him in the form of the stolen goods. His magistrate and the owner of the local supply store were part of the con, as well, and Een had kept good enough records to blow the lid off the whole thing – if those papers got into the right hands.

The team let the two bandits go, per their agreement, and truly hoped to never see them again. Heading north to the actual camp, they found the sentry, as they’d been told, and started the fight they expected to have. The Boys rode out of the hideout and engaged the team, and a pitched battle, with serious damage done to Morgren, ended with the deaths of all six of the remaining River Bottom Boys, including Een, who’d been paralyzed by one of Renli’s spells, and then torn apart by Kit’s spirit bear.

Maerith, the kidnapped ginger, seemed both surprised and somewhat relieved to have been rescued, but the depth of her honesty was debatable. Who knew…gingers are all nuts, anyway, so it was entirely possible that she didn’t even know.

Along with three heavy wagons and enough draft horses to pull them, the team also found several barrels of food supplies, furs, a number of tools, some basic building materials, and other supplies for the sort of expedition that they’d been told the Boys had been planning. Additionally, the three pieces of magic were recovered:

  • +1 scimitar, with the ability to force a target upon a successful hit to make a DEX save vs. DC12 or be knocked prone, 2/day. The blade is gun-metal grey and dull in color
  • 2 +1 helmets that also grant the wearer Darkvision to 60’ – these are both of an odd design that looks slightly pig-like, with lower tusks attached.

In addition to the wagons, horses, supplies, and equipment and weapons collected, a total of 650GP worth of various coin was recovered, and 500GP worth of various gems. How much of the coin and gems were stolen is unknown. All the coin is in Realm currency.

The cave and camp were well-hidden and would make for a good base of operations for this area, halfway between Renlen and Indoschan.

Where next, and why? And remember that you’re all 4th level now.

The Great Black of Thomlyn Swamp
in Shinjan colony

The news came in a short burst initially, and then in the weeks afterward more details were added, corrections made, and what was generally accepted as the actual account was weaved into the fabric of the colonies. A Realms Special Detail, led by the Elven War Wizard Calathes, was sent into the great southern swamp to investigate a strange, persistent fog and the disappearances of several locals, and deep within the tangled bogs and cloying mists they found several threats, the greatest of which was a black dragon making its new home.

The black had likely come from the west, as its arrival went unseen and was certainly recent. It had felled a number of trees to make a relatively secure nest for itself, and was, either intentionally or not, attracting serpentine followers: both natural snakes and lizards in vast quantities had descended on the swamp, and a pair of snake-headed men, never before seen, were caught and killed by the Realmsmen. Several trolls were also encountered and destroyed, and the team found evidence of other trolls in the area as they returned from the swamp. One member of the team, a dwarven Hehlen, was killed when the dragon fell on him after he struck the killing blow.

The swamp has been declared off-limits to private exploration and all settlement due to the dangers that clearly exist within. There is some grumbling about this among the populace of Shinjan and some traders who were factors for various plants and other materials brought from the massive expanse, but the Realm has set aside the area for future exploration and pacification by Realm efforts only.

We ran three combat encounters: 2 PCs vs. 3 monsters; 2 other PCs vs. 2 monsters; and all 4 PCs vs. one dragon. Each encounter went well, felt different, and the mechanics of 12th level were smooth and easy, keeping the pace up.

As for any story fluff you might pick up on, the norm in such matters is that the elf is in charge and the rest of the group is hand-waved away as just “Hehle” (that is, plural of Hehlen, the non-elven service). It’s not that they don’t rate; rather, it’s that the Elf does, and it’s therefore the elf that matters.

Meanwhile, in Shinjan
rough stuff in the swamp

The news was troubling and only served to add to the general sense of unrest among the scattered villages and hamlets. The mist the shrouded the great swamp had grown again, edging slowly eastward. The few farmsteds that had been enveloped over the last few weeks hadn’t been heard from, and those that were close to the eastern edge of the cloak of grey were deserted, the residents’ whereabouts unknown.

The warm, clammy mist grew suddenly, overnight, claiming another hundred yards of trees and grass beyond the edge of the swamp. Noises echoed strangely from within, and most animals had fled the area entirely.

Most animals that is, aside from snakes, which seemed drawn to the mist and the boggy lands it seemed to seek to blanket.

Note: Shinjan in the southernmost of the colonies in Ahris, roughly akin in terrain and climate to South Carolina or Georgia.

You’re the Big Damn Heroes, and it’s your job, as the highest-level PCs in the quadrant, to solve this problem. You’ll start off with one PC each, we’ll play an encounter, then you’ll switch to another PC, and play another encounter. Then we’ll pick up with you having 2 PCs each – with which you’ll be familiar – for the big awesome boss fight.

Deeper into the Forest
in search of trouble

The cold, dry morning dawned and brought with it welcomed sunlight and some warmth, albeit filtered through the snow-covered canopy of trees. The four men continued following the game trail through the woods, into increasingly hilly territory, and over a few frozen brooks and streams. After a few hours of travel and the terrain going generally into higher hills, the trees break and the group finds a small valley, hidden among the may hills and low ridges.

After skirting the upper edge of the valley in search of a good, open trail to move through it the team descends into the valley, wherein sits a large copse of trees and what looks to be a small lake within. When the party is partway down the shallow slope, a glint of metal reflects off the mid-morning sun from the woods to the west in the valley, and immediately thereafter comes a shout.

“Oi! Aye there! I see you’re in our valley!” comes a gravely voice from the woods. As the shout’s echoes die, there comes an deliberate shuffling sound to the rear-left, where movement among a heap of boulders and brush can be seen.

“You either outran our scouts or you killed’em, so you’re a presenting a problem for us…what are we to do with you?” the same voice challenges.

You’re on a shallow slope, in the open by a hundred-some feet in every direction, with woods to the front (west), a jumble of boulders to your left (south), the hill down which you’re riding to the rear (east), and light brush, a few trees, and a frozen stream to your right (north).

Two Dances with the River Bottom Boys

The ambush had been well-planned and would have worked against less prepared and skilled travelers. The constable and store manager were happy enough about the deaths of some of the bandits and capture of what seemed to be a more senior member of the group. They were also understandably relieved that the River Bottom Boys had decided to leave the town mostly alone of late.

The banker, having lost his niece to kidnapping by the gang a few months ago, held out little hope and in retrospect seemed to be the happiest to see the adventurers and hear their offer of help. Still, aside from his blessings and goodwill, he could offer nothing but the promise of the reward, should they find and return his Kaitlynn alive.

Kit’s skill in the wilds enabled them to find the game trails that it seemed the bandits had used the day before to move unseen alongside the roads, and between the two major highways in the area. The team’s night in the woods was interrupted by bandit watchers who’d either stumbled upon them by coincidence, became alerted to them when the adventurers strayed into their territory, or perhaps even followed them from earlier in the day. It seemed that the bandits had no initially intended to engage and had only done so when Ezra and one of them had locked eyes in the moonlight, giving up their positions.

The three bandits had leather armor of decent quality, plus their weapons, all of average quality. As with the group from the day before, they carried little coin or other wealth, which made sense if they were operating from some fixed (or relatively fixed) position or base somewhere.

Dark, cold, and now silent: the four men stood among the trees alongside a well-traveled game trail, certain that they were truly alone this time. Where to go next?

Heading South
in search of trouble

The journey to Indoschan will take about 3 days on horseback if the weather stays as it’s been – cold and generally clearly. The town is about half the size of Renlen, and offers stores and other services through which you could resupply, so you’ll need to decide if you’re going to take enough food for your entire excursion or just enough to get to Indoschan.

The terrain around the town is hillier than around Renlen, which on a relatively flat plain that leads to the foothills of the Sconays. Indoschan, on the other hand, is much farther from the large mountains and in a somewhat rugged area of forests, streams, and a few gorges, but no actual mountains.

The town is run by Dahr Ahnoffer, a human member of the Hehlen who was posted to the town less than a year ago after the death of the previous Dahr. None of you know much about him other than what could be expected: he’s a career bureaucrat working for the elves. To some that’s a mark of pride; to others it’s proof of his status as an opportunistic stooge – with the latter view being in the minority overall, but more prominent west of the river.

Sketch out your plan for supplies, goals, and methods for your journey south so that when we meet we can jump right into things. And remember: you’re all 3rd level now. This will be the last AL post before the next session.

The first month of winter
baby, it's cold outside

Use this post to formalize a month’s worth of downtime activities, with what’s listed below as the starting point.

  • You’re sheltering in Lieux’s House of Wares, and it’s not costing much because you’re trading some work around the place for the lodging. Food costs, of course, and I’ll figure out how much and will post it as a comment here.
  • Ezra has contracted with the local blacksmith, Tewey, to restore the gladius found in the tomb, and make a nice breastplate for him, too. The sword will cost 5gp to restore, and the breastplate will cost 400GP. He offers to make a chain shirt, which will only cost 50gp, but he’ll take the job for 400gp if you’ve got the money. As for some training, he’s cagey about this, as he isn’t fond of apprentices, and anyway, they work for their wage, which is learning. He’ll take money, thank you.
  • Kit spends a few days here and there exploring areas SE of Renlen in search of bandit activity.
  • I assume that both Ezra and Morgren would spend time practicing martial skills, and probably sparring with each other.
  • Renli is in high demand in the church, and attendance at services is up, along with donations to its coffers.
Riding the Storm Out
a harsh winter storm slams the region

The day after the caravan’s return to town a short ceremony is held to mark the work and sacrifices of those who were involved. Dahr Morleigh gives a short speech, eulogizes the dead, and formally adds the names and deeds of the crew to Renlen’s official ledger. For the leaders of the expedition a reception and feast are held that night at his personal residence, and prominent citizens shower the men in thanks, praise, and in some cases gifts. All are put up at the Last Bastion, the nicest inn in town, for the night, and given good food and all the fine treatment and services available there.

The next day dawns slowly, with heavy clouds obscuring the sun for most of the day, and bringing with them a steady snow, which lasts for three days. By the time it abates the town is blanketed in a solid coat of white and the Sconay Peaks are covered entirely in heavy snow. On the fifth day the sun shines through clearly for the first time over the winter landscape, giving only slight warmth through the crisp, dry winter air. The temperature is about 20 degrees lower than it had been only two weeks before, and it’s obvious to everyone that winter has set in.

Based on conversations at the ceremony and reception, and general knowledge of the town and region, the following issues are known:

  • There is concern over the ‘Frost Men’ and what threat they might present, and this is more pressing than the Wolfen, as it is likely that the snows will keep them away until Spring. Given the lack of knowledge of the ways of the Frost Men, it’s unknown as to whether or not they’ll come down into the lower elevations, where some farms and a mill sit, because of the snows. No one knows, although there are plenty of old rumors now given life by proof of their existence. How this will be handled – passively or actively – is also up for debate, with some arguing for further, strong reconnaissance of the mountains to varying degrees to test their plans and resolve. And while most people accept the Frost Men as a real threat or at least a challenge, there is definitely some skepticism – expressed respectfully – over their magical left eye snow blast. C’mon…maybe it was just a some trick, right? Surely. The yeti they can accept more easily than a magical eye blaster.
  • The Wolfen threat is virtually unknowable at this point, since all that is clear is that Amaschat has been burned, and that they are violent and at least somewhat intelligent. And, they are hopefully stuck on the other side of the mountains for Winter. But what if they decide to come over the pass? What if their mounts and motivation carry them south? Some people are more concerned about this boogie man than the more concrete Frost Men.
  • News from the east of the river – that is, from the more developed side of Lineon – is varied and provokes different responses. First, word is that Moizhian Ethrey, the colony’s leader, is back from the Old Realm after being there for several months. She recently presided over a large ceremony confirming the Realm’s victory in its long war and with that great achievement a ‘New Age of colonial development,’ soon to commence. She is generally respected by the socio-political establishment, and known for her firm, dispassionate leadership – very Elven. One thing definite that was announced is an upcoming tour of her chief lieutenants throughout Lineon, meeting with the various Dahrs here and there – sounds like an inspection tour to some, or a chance to show off for the locals to the higher-ups. Word is that the tour will start next Spring, as things slow down a lot during Winter.
  • A few land owners who control a number of farms outside of town complain about bandit activity, attributed to the ‘River Bottom Boys,’ a group of highwaymen who have hit travelers and remote homes and farms for the last year or so. They’ve also created similar problems for the (smaller) towns of Indoschan (south) and Derryn (east).

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