Ralkin, Katanya, and Flindle are again quite fortunate, making it out of the Evermoors and into Silverymoon without incident.
[13 Kythorn 1372]
The group continues slowly heading east through the lightly-forested land between the Evermoors to the south and the River Rauvin to the north. Slowly rotting trees in the area show that the Evermoor's foul miasma is starting to spread. During the voyage, Cammy notices an almost invisible magical sensor floating in the air and realizes the group is being scryed. Despite having this brought to their attention, the others are unable to see it. To entertain the scryer, however, Cammy and Tunak sing while Markus dances.
Over lunch, conversation turns to the most harrowing experience each adventurer has gone through. Markus tells of his recent, near-fatal incident with a brain-sucking worm. Mellia brings up the recent attack by the frost giant and white dragon. Markus is eager to hear more about the latter. Cain says for him it was the late-night attack by shambling mounds: "grass that doesn't burn is a problem!" Fargrim is reluctant at first, but then brings up shipwrecking on the shores of that mysterious island that houses a temple to Myrkul. Fargrim says it was the first time he realized he had been trying to run away from his past. For hir part, Cammy tells a funny story about being attacked and hung upside down by a Yeti. Tunak concludes the round of story-telling by saying that after growing up as part of Mammoth Clan, he fell through the precarious ice on a river and lost consciousness, washing up somewhere far downstream in the warm tent of a strange figure.
While the others converse, Mellia draws Markus and Cain aside. She shares her concerns over Fargrim, stating that Eve detected the dwarf to be evil and noting his somewhat different personality recently. The trio suspect Grim's mask, which the dwarf carries tucked into his belt, may be part of it. They decide to put a plan in place for later that day.
Meanwhile, Fargrim decides a ceremonial burial is appropriate for the bodies of Aloysius and Terreck that were left behind. With Cain's help, he gathers stones and makes a symbolic cairn for each of them. Using the incredibly tough end of a minotaur horn, Cain etches the deceased' names on their tombstones. Everyone gathers to say a few words. Fargrim begins the eulogy, stating that Aloysius died in loyal defence of the party and that Terreck will be missed.
As night starts to fall, Tunak demonstrates the impressive capabilities of his carriage: on each side, a large tent unfolds to provide shelter for the horses and anyone else. Before turning in for the night, Markus tries to detect magic and Cain tries to detect evil on Fargrim's mask; both spells return answers to the negative. When queried about their behaviour, Mellia and Cain concoct a story that they're trying to uncover the source of strange dreams Markus is supposed to be having.
[14 Kythorn 1372]
The group continues to head east. Mellia lets Cammy in on the ruse to uncover what is happening with Fargrim, and the lascivious half-elf agrees not to interfere. To put their plan into motion, Mellia performs the incantation to read the surface thoughts of those in the area, telling Fargrim she plans to use this ability on Markus; in fact, however, she is using it on Fargrim while trying to elicit thoughts and memories of Grim. Simultaneously, Cain has channeled divine magicks to allow him to detect lies. However, neither investigator gets anything conclusive for their effort. Fargrim does have some suspicious trouble remembering certain details of his past.
Before turning in, Cain tells the others that he senses the winds will be quite strong upon the morrow.
[15 Kythorn 1372]
During the night, Fargrim faces an inner psychic battle for control of his soul! As part of the Horned Harbinger's curse, Fargrim's resistance to the spirits of the dead had been weakened, allowing Grim's essence to slowly alter the dwarf's psyche. This night, however, Fargrim finally throws off the shackles of Grim's soul and becomes himself again. When he awakens, he explains to the others that he knows he hasn't been himself lately, and states he has some difficulty remembering recent events.
When the memory of Bearos' loss in the vortex to the astral plane returns, the sudden shock leaves Fargrim stunned. The dwarf staggers away from the others, out of sight, and grieves. Mellia joins him, and delicately explains that there is still hope for Bearos; travel to the astral plane is not impossible, and Eve, despite her perceived faults, would likely protect him. A despondent Fargrim says that the only he time he was a real leader was when he was urged to do so by Grim's spirit, but Mellia disagrees, reminding him of his impressive combat prowess at the front line of almost every battle the group has had. Fargrim nods, and heads north to the fast-flowing river. He places a small wooden trinket carved by Bearos on the waves and watches it disappear.
When the party moves on, they decide to follow the river more closely. Incredibly strong winds make travel slow, and as night begins to fall the adventurers see the dim lights of a small village across the river--the village of High Hold. On the near side, four carriages are parked, and each is painted garishly and is adorned with a name: "Carnivale Intrepid" says the first, "Nik Nak Nok's Daring Feats of Derring-Do" says the second, "Ulugu the Far-Seeing" says the third, and the fourth, and largest, says "Imanagerie". The carriages are buttoned up tight due to the strong winds, and the adventurers decide staying inside is the wisest course of action as well.
Director's Commentary (April 22, 2016)
|Here's Fargrim, Dwarf Barbarian!|
No encounters or action in this session. To me that wasn't necessarily a problem, as long as the role-playing was good. I always had a random encounter chance (depending on the area the PCs were moving through and whether they were moving openly or cautiously, etc.) and a lot of sessions it just didn't happen. I currently play in a group where the GM ensures at least one encounter every session, and that definitely has its advantages too (especially for an action-oriented game like D&D). I'm not sure which style is best.
The scene at the beginning where each character tells the story of his "most harrowing experience" as an adventurer was something I should have done more of. I simply picked a topic and told the players that it came up during a routine period (a meal, or while camping, etc.) and to role-play their characters accordingly. It's a great way to get the characters talking about things beyond the obstacles directly in their path and to get to know them a little better.
In this session, it's obvious that Fargrim has been having more and more problems from the curse placed upon him by the dying priest of Myrkul after the first story arc in the campaign, to the point where he was being possessed by the soul of a dead nemesis (Grim). But in this session, he rolled a natural 20 on his daily check and broke free completely! I have to give credit to Fargrim's player here: he has real role-playing talent and was able to bring greater emotional depth to his character than anyone else. RP this good probably shouldn't be wasted on D&D!
The encounter with the carnival at the very end will be discussed in the next post, but I will drop that it ties back into my very first ever time playing D&D way back when I was 17 . . .