[2 Lamashan 4707 continued]
As the adventurers cross the short distance between Chopper’s Isle and Junk Beach, they discuss what transpired in the basement of Jervas Stoot’s home and whether they should return. Bey is keen to return in the morning, but Nedrin says the ghost of the Chopper will kill them! Felix whispers to Bey that perhaps Nedrin isn’t right in the head, as no one else saw a ghost. Bey confirms, however, that she did hear the ghostly sobbing of a child, and if they can find the ghost’s mortal link to the material realm, perhaps they can lay its spirit to rest. The consensus is that the group should return to Chopper’s Isle, but that they’ll avoid the area with the book and prepare by asking Father Zantus specific questions.
The return to Sandpoint is uneventful except for the adventurers’ failure to anticipate that a load of junk would be dumped down the side of Junker’s Edge while they were trying to climb up! Nedrin takes a hard fall, but survives. Once in Sandpoint, the adventurers head straight for the Cathedral. There, they see Father Zantus finishing a homily about Desna to a small crowd of worshippers. Once the ceremony is over, he sees the adventurers lurking at the edge of the audience and greets them with a wry observation about their frequent visits despite their observable lack of interest in religious matters. Felix relates what happened on Chopper’s Isle. Father Zantus explains the difference between ghosts, complex manifestations of the dead that may be intelligent and mobile throughout the material realm, and haunts, spectral phenomena that convey the memory of a traumatic experience but that are bound to specific areas or objects. When asked about the wooden statue, Father Zantus says that it sounds like a representation of Pazuzu, Demon Lord of Avians. Finally, conversation turns to the tracks and bones found atop the foreboding island. Father Zantus is dismissive about the suggestion that they could belong to the legendary Sandpoint Devil, stating that reports of a mythical, winged, fire-breathing horse-like creature that devours animals and brings curses upon anyone who sees it are unfounded and uncorroborated. He notes that his friend, Ilsoari Gandethus, is quite interested in the folklore surrounding the Sandpoint Devil.
The adventurers walk across town to Turandarok Academy in order to speak to Ilsoari, headmaster of Sandpoint’s school and orphanage. They’re reluctantly escorted in by prim House Mother Dorienne Vilch. In his study full of exotic souvenirs from his adventuring days, the normally reserved Ilsoari is quite interested in the group’s tale that they may have found signs of the Sandpoint Devil. Ilsoari explains that he politely disagrees with Abstalar Zantus about the veracity of sightings of the creature. He admits that few who claim to have seen it can offer concrete descriptions, for it always appears at night or under the cover of fog; some describe it as a strange horse, others as an enormous bat, and still others as a saurian behemoth. Ilsoari goes on to say that the signs the Sandpoint Devil leaves behind are more common than actual sightings: deep, hooflike prints carved or even burned in places no hoof prints should be found, like the tops of high roofs or on the side of cliffs; missing or partially burned livestock; strange illnesses; and more. Ilsoari says that although no one knows for sure where the Sandpoint Devil has its lair, some believe it lies in the nearby rocky plateau known as Devil’s Platter. Ilsoari gets more and more excited as he continues his stories, and eventually talks the group into letting him come along on the next morning’s planned expedition to Chopper’s Isle.
The adventurers find accommodation for the night, with all but Bey staying at the White Deer. Apart from a heated argument between dwarf carpenter Aesrick Battlehorn and a lanky wheelright named Bilivar Wheen (which is settled by the timely intervention of Lartie Viskalai), the evening at the White Deer passes quietly. Bey stays at the Rusty Dragon and starts an enjoyable game of blindfolded, backwards darts (losing to Ameiko in the process). She also converses with a farmer named Maester Grump; he and some other farmers hint at a reward if the adventurers can stop the Sandpoint Devil from devouring their livestock.
Late that night, the adventurers are awakened by messengers sent from the Sandpoint Garrison, with those at the White Deer receiving a visit from Bosk Hartigan and Bey encountering one of the new recruits, a nervous lad named Benmo. Each messenger says that an emergency meeting is being held by Sheriff Hemlock, and that the adventurers’ presence is requested. The adventurers get dressed hurriedly, apart from Oliver who inexplicably goes in his bathrobe. Once inside the garrison’s war room, the adventurers see that Sheriff Hemlock has been joined by limping elven scout Shalelu Andosana. Shalelu hefts a large sack onto the conference table, unties it, and turns it over; a small goblin spills out, bound and gagged! Shalelu explains that this goblin, whose name is Grizzlenik, has something important to say. She holds a knife to his throat until he explains that he’s a member of the Thistletop tribe who was sent by Warchief Ripnugget to tell the other goblin tribes in the region to get ready for a big attack on Sandpoint in a few weeks’ time. Grizzlenik goes on to say that he was instructed to say that any day now an invincible ally will be set free to aid in the attack, and that this time Sandpoint will be razed to the ground! Nedrin interrogates the goblin about the defences of Thistletop and learns that it consists of a wooden stockade atop a small island, with a rope bridge leading from the mainland. Access to the bridge is guarded by a goblin named Gogmurt and his pet cougar. When the goblin has finished revealing what he knows, Shalelu tosses him back in the bag and into a corner.
Everyone assembled discusses what to do next. After raising and discarding some initial proposals, the group accedes to Bey’s suggestion that a small strike force could raid Thistletop and at least discover what the goblins are doing there. Bey tells Sheriff Hemlock that she and her allies will undertake the dangerous mission, but only if the town supports them by making weapons, adventuring gear, and even healing potions available. Recognising the extreme risk the adventurers are taking, Sheriff Hemlock agrees. Shalelu says she would like to accompany the adventurers, but that she’s limping from an arrow fired by her bitter rival, the bugbear Bruthazmus. She says that as soon as she’s healed, she’ll be back in the field. The adventurers settle on a plan to explore Chopper’s Isle first thing in the morning, and then travel the six miles to Thistletop at sunset, with a plan to camp overnight and attack at dawn when the goblins will be asleep and unable to make full use of their advantage in being able to see in the dark. Nedrin surprises the group by stating that Grizzlenik could be very useful, and receives permission from Sheriff Hemlock to oversee the prisoner for the duration of the raid.
After the excitement of the late-night meeting, the adventurers return to their rooms to rest. Bey has a strange dream of being entangled in sharp-thorned vines.
[3 Lamashan 4707]
|The Spiritual Remnant of Simon Korvut|
The adventurers assemble at Junker’s Edge at seven bells (with Nedrin carrying Grizzlenik in a sack), and see Ilsoari Gandethus waiting for them. Felix and Oliver had difficulty getting back to sleep, and each is dragging as the group make their way back to Chopper’s Isle. Once they arrive, Oliver makes the surprising decision to curl up for a nap, while Ilsoari investigates the nest of bones and the other adventurers return to the burned-out cottage. Nedrin, Bey, Felix, and Gizzlenik carefully lower themselves into the basement and take the tunnel opposite the room where Nedrin believes he encountered the ghost of the Chopper. They reach a small circular chamber littered with tiny bone carvings of horrific winged creatures and leathery papers. In the center of the room is a small hole in the floor, along with a bucket tied with a rope to a metal ring. Bey lowers her bardiche to disturb a small pile of clothing at the bottom of the hole and uncovers a child sized skeleton. Immediately, she feels something trying to push her into the hole! She resists, however, and the adventurers act quickly to lower Grizzlenik into the hole to recover the bones. They then make a run for it, with Felix growing progressively more and more tired from the chilling touch of a ghostly figure that looks like a sad little boy. The adventurers reach the surface and hurry away from the remnants of the Stoot house. The tragic story of what must have happened to Simon Korvut is all too clear.
The adventurers make their way back to Sandpoint, leaving Ilsoari behind at his own request to further investigate what he believes are signs of the Sandpoint Devil. Once back in town, Oliver and Felix spend the afternoon resting. Bey and Nedrin (with Grizzlenik in a sack “for his own safety”) take the skeletal remains to the cathedral. There, Sister Giulia says she will arrange for a suitable disposition of the body once Das Korvut arrives. The adventurers shoulder the burden of informing the blacksmith of what they found on Chopper’s Isle. Das is overwrought and rushes to the cathedral to say a final farewell to his son.
Late that afternoon, the adventurers assemble at Savah’s Armory. Sheriff Hemlock, true to his word, has arranged for the town to cover the cost of weapons and armor needed for the planned expedition to Thistletop. Felix arms himself with a bola, while Nedrin is thanked profusely by Grizzlenik for the gift of armor and a dogslicer. The grateful, but gullible, goblin is even happy to wear a dog-collar (with attachable leash) purchased from Rovanky Tannery “to protect his neck.” The adventurers purchase additional supplies from Nisk Tander, half-elf proprietor of an alchemical supply store named Bottled Solutions. With the day’s shadows lengthening, the adventurers make final preparations for the coming journey.
Having solved the mystery of Chopper’s Isle, the adventurers now ready themselves for a very different adventure: a raid on the most fortified goblin tribe in the region!
Director's Commentary (9/04/2017)
This was an enjoyable session, as the PCs finished off a side-quest and got ready to venture into the last section in Chapter 1 of the adventure path.
Sometimes a little information can be a dangerous thing, as the player running Nedrin was convinced that the spectral apparition initially encountered on Chopper's Isle was a ghost (and thus extremely hard to kill at low levels). In fact, it was a haunt and not nearly as dangerous.
I played up Ilsoari's interest in the Sandpoint Devil, and, although I have to be careful about what I say since the campaign is still on-going, I'm happy with his portrayal as someone with a keen interest in local legends and superstitions.
In the adventure path, Shalelu's arrival to talk about Thistletop is done as more traditional exposition. I tried to add some colour to it with the idea of the captured goblin, Grizzlenik, but little did I know that Nedrin's player would seize on the opportunity to take a veritable slave. It was a fun twist, so I rolled with it.