Sunday, June 24, 2018

Rise of the Runelords Recap # 48 [RPG]

[19 Kuthona 4707 continued]

Holy Symbol of Erastil
Having routed a small army of ogres at the gates of Fort Rannick, the adventurers decide to retreat to Turtleback Ferry.  The journey back is uneventful, though the unceasing rain swells the Skull River and leads to speculation that it may soon flood its banks.  Early evening brings the travellers within sight of the lights of the town.  They head first for the local inn (The Turtle’s Parlor), but Cesten Orlandi is still angry from the group’s last visit and, despite a complete lack of other guests, says that there’s no vacancy.  The adventurers, bloody and battered from their ordeal, decide to see if Father Shreed could put them up for night.  At the temple, they find the goodly priest of Erastil hosting a meal for members of the community who have fallen on hard times.  Father Shreed welcomes the adventurers in for a hot meal, a place to sleep, and even some magical healing.

Over dinner, Kang announces to the others that he’s perfected a brilliant new alchemical formula, the fruits of which he promises to display in the morning.  A conversation by some of the other guests catches Artemis’ ears, and he hears gossip about a “pleasure barge” named Paradise that mysteriously sank one night in Claybottom Lake, killing all aboard, even its owner, a foreigner named Lucrecia.  Sir Roderick chimes in that he remembers hearing about its popularity with drinkers and gamblers, but that he never partook.  Later, Artemis asks the locals if they know anything the seven-pointed star tattoo he’s seen on a couple of residents in town.  His question is met with silence or denials.  Later that night, as they get ready to turn in for the night (using bedrolls spread over pews), the adventurers are treated to an entertaining series of misadventures as Sir Roderick attempts to try out his new ring of feather falling.  When it doesn’t seem to work, he concludes from the badger etched into it that it may in fact be a ring of burrowing.

[20 Kuthona 4707]

In the morning, Kang leads everyone outside the temple to show them his new discovery.  Injecting himself with a viscous green goo, amazing dragon-fly wings suddenly spout from the tiefling’s back and he launches himself into the air!  Sir Roderick, in particular, is amazed, so much so that his initial reluctance to allow Kang to use his home to perform alchemical experiments is overcome.  Everyone goes about various errands, with Sir Roderick crafting ammunition for his musket, Kang concocting various alchemical items, Artemis buying arrows and a map of the Hook Mountain region, Goragar drinking, and Kozen familiarising himself with the town.  At Artemis’ request, Kozen puts his quiet likability to good use by asking around for more information on the location of the sunken Paradise.  A bereft cobbler whose son was on board tells Kozen that the barge apparently sank about eight miles south of Turtleback Ferry in about 40’ of water.  Apparently an investigator from Ilsurian was hired to conduct an inquiry, but the fellow seemed in a hurry to return south and didn’t provide any conclusive explanation for the disaster.  Artemis, who was initially enthusiastic about exploring the wreckage, decides against it given its distance from Turtleback Ferry.

[21 Kuthona 4707]

As the adventurers prepare for a return visit to the Valley of Broken Trees and Fort Rannick, they witness Father Shreed coordinating anti-flooding preparations.  The town has occasionally suffered minor flooding before, and, given the constant rain, Father Shreed says it’s only prudent to be cautious despite the presence of a dam dating to ancient times regulating the flow of water from Storval Deep to the north.  Artemis unrolls his new map and realizes that the dam is barely ten miles from Fort Rannick, and expresses alarm that Fort Rannick could be a staging area for an ogre attack on the dam!  The adventurers set out, collecting Shalelu from her campsite on the outskirts of the village.  She seems reluctant to go, citing the fact that the Black Arrows are clearly all dead, but Goragar persuades her that they should be avenged. 

The cold, wet weather has grown as monotonous as it is constant, and Kozen continues to have trouble enduring it.  But there’s one major difference from their last visit to Fort Rannick: there’s not a trace of fog.  When the adventurers approach in the middle of the afternoon, they’re easily spotted by an ogre sentry in a watchtower who rings a large bell to alert the entire fortress!  Artemis and Sir Roderick put their amazing marksmanship to good use and kill the ogre.  Kang tells the others that he’ll scout ahead and once again sprouts dragonfly wings!  He flies over the walls and sees that the courtyard is empty but that the doors to the inner keep have been reinforced.  Noticing strange flashes of lights coming from the cliff-face far above the fort, Kang hovers for a moment until he’s able to decipher a coded message:  “Danger.  I’m here.”

Kang reports back to the others and they decide to advance while he investigates the message further.  Shalelu, sensing a trap, says she’ll stay on the bridge over the moat and watch their backs.  At the front gates, Goragar is forced to literally cut a path through ogre bodies which have been stacked like cordwood in the entryway to create an obstacle.  And, even more cunningly, spears and other jagged pieces of metal have been hidden amongst the carnage to stab the unwary!  With some effort, however, he and the others reach the doors to the central keep and discuss what to do.

Fillias Lahs, Last of the Black Arrows?
Far above, Kang flies along a steep, narrow, and twisting path carved into the cliff until he finds the source of the messages: a man is hidden on the trail, using a mirror to reflect the sun’s rays!  The fellow, a young man in his late teens, is clearly the worse for wear, shivering and emaciated, but he has enough strength to call out to Kang.  He gives his name as Fillias Lahs and says he’s the last survivor of the Order of the Black Arrows!  Grateful for rescue, he explains, in a somewhat rambling fashion, that he’s one of the newest members of the Order and had been assigned to tend to a nest of giant eagles further up the trail when the ogres attacked.  He says the ogres picked the perfect time, as part of the Order hadn’t yet returned from a long-range patrol and the fort’s commander, Lamatar Bayden, was on one of his monthly “communing with nature” walks.  The ogres seemed to know exactly how and where to strike too, he says, and quickly breached the walls—a slaughter ensued!  Fillias says he’s been holed up on the trail for weeks (drinking rainwater and eating eagle eggs), unable to sneak away because the ogres blocked the bottom of the trail with rocks.  Now that help’s arrived, he tells Kang everything he’s witnessed and overheard about the ogres—including, crucially, that he saw the ogres’ massive leader, Jaagrath, talking with a witch about a plan to ambush any other force that tried to attack the keep!

Kang flies Fillias down to the ground and leaves him with Shalelu for safekeeping.  When Kang explains to the others what he’s learned, Goragar, Sir Roderick, and Kozen are keen to charge forward and dispatch the remaining ogres.  Artemis and Kang appear to have success in persuading them to wait while they infiltrate the keep to discover the nature of the ambush.  With Artemis climbing and Kang flying, the two scale the central tower and enter the keep from a trapdoor on top that they find near the body of the recently-slain ogre.  But, on the ground below, the others have decided against remaining still: Kozen suggests creating a “distraction” by breaking through the front doors of the keep.  Goragar nods and prepares to charge.

A second battle between the ogres occupying Fort Rannick and the adventurers hired by Magnimar to oust them has begun.  This time, the ogres know the adventurers are coming.  By splitting into two groups, have the intrepid heroes doomed themselves to failure?
Director's Commentary (June 24, 2018)

The story threads about the sunken pleasure ship and the townsfolk marked with Sihedron-runes was  not really picked up on by the PC, which is unfortunate because they help provide a much fuller picture of what was happening in Turtleback Ferry.

A lot more foreshadowing of the coming flood, something that will come around in a major way a few sessions from now.

Fillias Lahs was the Contact (an optional mechanic from Ultimate Campaigns) for Artemis.  He worked well to fill in some background to what happened to Fort Rannick, but was curiously ignored by the party when it came to other role-playing.  I really like the *idea* of the Contact mechanic, but for whatever reason it just hasn't worked out well with my players.

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