Monday, September 17, 2012

RealmsToowoomba Recap # 7 [RPG]

Session # 7 Recap

[10 Tarsakh 1372]

 During his watch in the early hours of morning, Nakor hears a suspicious sound. When he goes to investigate, he sees a small figure climbing a tree outside of the group's camp. Nakor rouses the others and together they move to confront the potentially hostile intruder. However, conversation with what turns out to be a female gnome reveals no danger. Instead, the gnome claims to have followed a set of tracks to where the party was camping. She says that the caravan she was guarding was mysteriously attacked while she was away hunting, and on her return a dying merchant could utter only the word "Grim" before passing away. To everyone's surprise, the dwarf Fargrim bristles at the word: he knows that Grim is the masked leader of a murderous gang of bandits and outlaws. The group invites their gnomish visitor to join them on the trip to Mirabar with a promise to Fargrim to keep a close eye out for any signs of Grim.

After a few hours of rest, the group gets ready to continue travelling off-road and cross-country towards Mirabar. Before they leave, Mellia, Markus, and Cain decide to see if they can discern anything else about the source of magickal emanations inside the steel box chained to Cain's wrist. They are able to learn that it involves an aura of abjuration magic, but nothing more. The rest of the day's travel passes uneventfully, but the group covers little ground as it moves cautiously to avoid being spotted by Luskan patrols.

 [11 Tarsakh 1372]

With rations running low, the group decides to split up and hunt for fresh game while they walk. Busy pursuing a fleeing deer, Nakor and Fargrim don't realize they're heading straight towards a Luskanite campsite until it's too late! The two soldiers tending the campfire leap up and begin to advance, but their steps turn tentative when they see Fargrim's frightening expression and masterwork longsword. Nakor pretends to call back to unseen allies, and it's all too much for the two Luskanites as they flee for reinforcements. Fargrim and Nakor are able to make it back to the others safely, but it's clear the Luskanites haven't given up chasing the group for being supposed murderers.

[12 Tarsakh 1372]

 The group again travels east cautiously towards Mirabar. A long debate ensues as to whether they should try to open the three mysterious steel boxes, but no conclusion is reached.

 [13 Tarsakh 1372]

 In the middle of the afternoon, the group reaches the banks of the Black Raven River, flowing from the Spine of the World south to join the River Mirar. Large chunks of ice slowly float down its course, and for a brief moment the group considers the idea of jumping from block to block to cross. The idea is discarded, however, in favour of sending the gnome south to where a bridge crosses the Black Raven. It is dark when she arrives, but a guard of four Luskan soldiers can easily be seen lit by torchlight on the western side of the bridge staring down two dwarves on the eastern side. The gnome manages to slink off without being seen and apprises the group of the situation. They decide on a plan where the gnome, who is not being sought by the soldiers, will create a distraction to draw them south while the rest of the group approaches the bridge from the north and sprints across.

The first part of the plan comes off well: the gnome summons mysterious floating lights and magically creates the sound of several people talking, and then rides towards the soldiers quickly on horseback shouting that a group is trying to cross the river to the south. Two of the Luskan soldiers rush off to investigate, leaving just two behind. The rest of the group approaches from the north, but there the plan breaks down: instead of sprinting across, the group gets drawn into a fight against the determined soldiers. Cain takes a vicious blow to the head but somehow continues standing. After several seconds of furious combat, the members of the group manage to extricate themselves from the fighting and make it across the halfway point of the bridge, where the dwarves, responding to Fargrim's hail, stand firm against the three surviving Luskanites.

The leader of the Luskanite patrol is relucant to start a war by attacking the dwarves from Mirabar, but he threatens to hunt the party down to the very ends of Faerun if they don't turn themselves over for justice and a trial in Luskan. He accuses them of having murdered and decapitated the Third High Captain. He points to the fact that Cain, Nakor, and Fargrim still wear the tabards of the Third High Captain's house as proof that they infiltrated his home as servants in order to murder him in his bed. The trio hotly deny the accusation. As proof of their innocence, Nakor offers to let the Luskanites search the boxes they are carrying. With some mighty blows from their weapons, the Luskanites snap off the lock on the box that Nakor is carrying, and out tumbles the decomposing head of the Third High Captain!

The Luskanites hurl themselves at the group, heedless of the consequences. A difficult fight ensues in the middle of the bridge. With the aid of the two stout dwarves from Mirabar, the group manages to hold the line, however. Fargrim dishes out pain with his sword, while Marcus manages to skilfully disarm and demoralize two of the Luskanites. Cain stays to the back but effectively heals his allies, while the gnome and Nakor fire arrows (largely ineffectively) from a distance. Out of spells, Mellia resorts to clever tricks to try to distract the Luskanites and aid her companions. Before long, the Luskanites are defeated, albeit with one having managed to escape.

 The group emerges victorious, but the plot has thickened: why have they been framed for the murder of the Third High Captain, and what's in the other two steel boxes? Will they manage to track down the cruel bandit Grim? And what of the nightmares three of the group have been cursed with—-what do they mean, and will they recur?

Director's Commentary (June 25, 2013)

There's repeated mention of a gnome in this session, but a name is never given.  Why?  Well, in something I've never seen before, that gnome was a new PC whose player couldn't decide on a name for three sessions! The player eventually settled on Ellywick after I pointed out a list of sample names in the PHB because it was getting downright weird to keep referring to "the gnome" when all the other players had such detailed backgrounds for their PCs.  Ellywick actually appears off and on for a long time in the campaign, but because of spotty attendance and little investment in the character, the player was never able to make Ellywick more than a fringe addition to the group.

The second altercation on the bridge is memorable to me because the PCs were effectively in the clear: the Luskanites were quite suspicious, but felt they didn't have enough to go on to risk a war with Mirabar over it.  Nakor's volunteering to open the boxes, however, proved disastrous!  It's funny to remember how low level the PCs are for this, as I haven't seen Mellia run out of spells in a long, long time!  Markus, the replacement character for the player who ran Rolen until he got bored with him, was crafted very specifically to be awesome at disarming and it showed in this session.

At the point in the campaign where I'm writing this (around Session # 44), the PCs have not conclusively solved the mystery of why they were framed and have never returned to Luskan.  As a bonus XP exercise, I did solicit the players to provide their best reasoned answers and received some very good explanations (the accuracy of which, of course, I neither confirmed nor denied).

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