- Ambre Mangefer, dwarven fighter and jeweler.
- Elerossë Friedman, half-elven warlock and puppeteer.
- Koyaa Nisqatsi, human paladin.
All are level 3.
The story so far
A couple of sessions ago, the PCs have found out the goblins of the old silver mine had bought slaves from a group of human traders. They are now escorting Lady Bronwyn Daggerford, sister to Duke Pwyll, who is looking for these slavers.
Last session ended with the PCs in a small village where the traders had passed some 8-10 days before, before leaving by the path to the next village north. They had found the trail, but it was getting cold quickly.
Mostly for those of you familiar with Forgotten Realms, I tend to use the setting as a guide rather than as written. The places mentioned here are a couple of days northeast of Daggerford, cross-country. The “next village north” is on an ancient road going west to the trade way some distance north of Daggerford, and east then north along the western edge of the High Forest to Silverymoon.
This road was once built by dwarves and elves in the days of the ancient empires in the north. It has since fallen into disrepair, but some travellers, mostly bold merchants, still use it when travelling between the south and Silverymoon, mostly to avoid paying taxes at Waterdeep, Triboar and Yartar. Most people find it too dangerous (it passes through troll-infested wilderness) and not very practical anyway (it is shorter than the usual route, but there are parts of it carts and even horses can’t travel).
A last attempt
The PCs elected to follow the trail north; it was probably the fastest route to Daggerford anyway, as they would find a road there. Before leaving they managed to buy a somewhat overpriced donkey, who happened to be named Donkey, to carry their gear.
Along the road, they found a dead donkey at the start of what looked like an old dwarven road, some distance from the path they were travelling on. They decided to have a look, but Elerossë rolled a natural 1 on his search check so they went back on the path, absolutely sure there was nothing interesting there.
Late in the afternoon, after a few more hours’ walk, they reached the road and the village where they hoped to find more clues.
The PCs ended up at the local tavern, not having anything better to do with their time. They had a drink before supper time, and talked a bit with the owners, a couple of halflings named Werner and Ida.
They learned that nobody had stopped here nor passed through for some time except these pilgrims, over there in Harace’s barn; they arrived today, a little before the PCs, from the west and were heading east to Silverymoon.
Ida also recognised Bronwyn; she had a talk with Ambre, who told her to keep quiet about it. Nonetheless, the halflings insisted to lend her their bed for the night; the PCs could sleep in the common room of the tavern.
Elerossë proposed to give a puppet show that evening, hoping to gather most of the village and talk with people. The halflings’ kids were overjoyed; they immediately got running and shouting in the street, spreading the news in the village.
Before the show, Koyaa paid a visit to the pilgrims, hoping to find out who they were and what kind of pilgrimage they were on. Brother Jaquin explained that his companions had taken a vow of silence; he was the speaker of the community and the only one authorized to talk to outsiders. He was more than happy to explain that they were itinerant followers of Grumbar, the elemental lord of earth, and that they were hoping to reach Silverymoon before winter, before going on to some holy place in the Spine of the World next spring. When Koyaa suggested that they could travel together, the monk politely but firmly declined. Then they had a religious discussion which turned into an argument, which ended with Brother Jaquin firmly telling Koyaa to mind his own business and let them practice their faith without interferring.
A nice evening
Elerossë gave his show before the whole village, or not far from it. Some people got home just after the show, most stayed around a bit, and the PCs got to talk with a few of them. Bronwyn chatted with Molefer, the miller and kind-of local lordling.
Elerossë went for a walk with Olmie, the local priestess of Chauntea. She quickly introduced the young acolytes of her temple, Kelm and Ferr; Kelm looked like he didn’t like Elerossë hanging around with Olmie. They (well, Elerossë and Olmie, obviously not Kelm) ended up spending the night together, while Ambre and Koyaa slept in the common room of the tavern.
Ambre woke up during the night, quite sure she had heard some noise. A little poking around confirmed someone was moving aroud the halflings’ lodging, which was unexpected at this time of night. She went in to find the halflings soundly asleep, the window open and Bronwyn gone. She just had time to spot someone or someting moving outside before it disappeared between two houses.
Ambre woke Koyaa and both of them went out to have a look. They found an obvious trail leading to a small thicket some distance from the village. They approached as subtly as possible for a dwarf and a paladin with a glowing (Sacred Weapon-enhanced) sword; nonetheless they spotted the werewolf before it could surprise them. The fight was a close thing but they managed to kill it (well, Koyaa did, since Ambre didn’t have any weapon able to hit such a monster). The dead werewolf reverted to its human form, and turned out to be one of the pilgrims.
They had a look around and quickly found Bronwyn, asleep (obviously drugged) but alive. Going back to the inn, they passed Harace’s barn and saw the pilgrims were gone. Koyaa then bursted into Harace’s home, shouting at him and waking the whole village.
There ensued a period of confusion, with Koyaa shouting at Harace, Molefer shouting at Koyaa, Elerossë trying to understand what it was all about, and more or less everybody shouting at everybody else. It was finally decided the PCs would chase the pilgrims while the villagers kept watch in case there was somebody hostile still around.
With a little persuasion the PCs managed to borrow a couple of horses from Molefer; thus it was easy to catch up with the pilgrims, who were on foot with a single donkey between them. Of course, with Koyaa shouting at the top of his lungs, there was really no hope of surprising the pilgrims; they quickly dispersed when they heard the PCs arrive.
The PCs concentrated on Brother Jaquin, who proved to be some kind of cleric or sorcerer. Nonetheless they managed to capture him, killing another monk in the process. It was obvious the PCs wouldn’t be able to catch the others, so they didn’t even try.
They caught the donkey with the pilgrims’ possessions, though; in addition to some mundane stuff, it was carrying a small treasure (200 or 250 gp worth in gold, silver and gems), plus some ceremonial garb and ustensils. The ceremonial garb looked a lot like what the undead priest was wearing two sessions ago.
Back in the village
The PCs brought Brother Jaquin back to the village, where they spent some time questioning him. The main information they got was that he was a servant of Tharizdun, who was indeed the same Dead God the tiefling and the undead priest were following. The monks were headed to an abandoned temple to Tharizdun on the edge of the High Forest.
He also told them he was hoping to gain immortality by following Tharizdun. Bronwyn was to be sacrificed; the choice was apparently random, nothing to do with her being the Duke’s sister. Finally the PCs learned that the pilgrims were independent from the undead priest’s group; the followers of Tharizdun didn’t have any kind of centralized authority, each of the numerous groups acted independently.
Unexpectedly, Olmie was able to supply an additional point of information: she had taken part in the campaign around the Temple of Elemental Evil a few years before, and she recognized the monks’ holy symbol from there. She also knew some trivia about Tharizdun, even though she didn’t know the holy symbol was his.
After that, the PCs decided to go back to chasing the slavers, while Bronwyn would bring Brother Jaquin to Daggerford, escorted by two strong lads from the village.
Before leaving, Elerossë found someone to craft a wooden jewel with one of the stones he got from the monks, as a gift for Olmie. Were things getting serious here?
The dwarven tomb
The PCs then left the village and went back south, hoping to find a clue they might have missed coming north. This time, they managed not to fail their spot check, and they saw the tracks near the place where they had found the dead donkey the day before.
They found some blood traces on the old dwarven road, then, following them, a dead owlbear a little further. Assuming they were on the right trail, they pushed a little further and finally arrived at the end of the dwarven road, in front of the entrance of a tunnel in a small hill. There was obviously something wrong here: there was no vegetation whatsoever on a few meters at the entrance of the tunnel, only naked earth.
The PCs got closer and saw a couple of columns with dwarven runes inside the tunnel, indicating this place was the tomb of a dwarven warrior called Durak. The tunnel ended a few meters further inside a small room with a gisant of a dwarf warrior and piles of bones scattered on the ground. There was an opening on the opposite side of the room, leading into another tunnel, and the walls of the room itself were covered with dwarven runes.
Entering the room, Ambre was attacked by an ochre jelly waiting under the ceiling. She answered with an axe blow which cut the jelly in two, so now the PCs faced two jellies. Koyaa’s Divine Smite-enhanced sword did some actual damage, but it was Elerossë’s Eldritch Blast which finally dispatched the jellies.
We did not actually play the fight to its end; after the first jelly was dispatched, it was obvious Elerossë would be able to finish the second one, as the jelly didn’t have any ranged attacks and was slower than the PCs.
After the fight, the PCs had a look around the place. Among the bones on the floow were one horse and two human or humanoid skeletons, with only the metal parts of their gear left (including a heap of gold pieces). Ambre also had a look at the runes on the wall, which were a biography of Durak.
We called it a night at this point.
What I got from this session
This is more a confirmation than a revelation, but in D&D5, a monster’s CR is not the precise measurement it was in D&D3, it is at best a rough estimate. Two PC’s defeated a CR 3 werewolf quite easily, whereas the CR 2 ochre jelly almost killed Ambre at the beginning of the fight (I think she had 3 hit points left by the end of the second round).
Also, around level/CR 3, monsters start piling up immunities. Ambre was unable to hurt the werewolf herself (she was still able to distract it and give Koyaa the advantage, though). She was also unable to hurt the ochre jelly with her weapon of choice, and here Koyaa was disavantaged as well by his choice of weapon. I guess I will have to start handing out magic weapons; oh, well… The tendency of D&D5 monsters to be able to deal and withstand lots of damage doesn’t help here.
Finally, I didn’t expect the PCs to kill the werewolf and get Bronwyn back so early. I had prepared a dungeon adventure in the ruined temple to Tharizdun. Maybe I will be able to use parts of it in the future; if not, well, too bad but I’m glad the PCs managed it so well.