We had just finished the battle with the dopplegangers from the magic mirror from the prior session. The green dragon called us out that we’d forever remained trapped in the maze.

He may, in fact, be right.

We shattered the triangle mirror, but we still are in a magical hedge maze that shifts. We decide to use Identify on the glowing orb. It’s part of the network of magic the elves uses to maintain and support the taigh. It has some serious powers against evil and the undead, hitting them as if they got slapped with a 6th level burning hands.

The altar and the statue were both made with evil intent from the get-go. Colin rolls a 1 and disagrees vehemently. “It’s always been dedicated to Mitra!”

We contemplate putting the 6″ (very good) orb into the 6″ (very evil) statue. The prophecy of the statue says

When silver light is darkened, innocent’s blood calls out and wakens power. Sacrifice to the Queen of the Wood and the Night, for she will bless her faithful servants.


Maud puts her hand on the orb, takes it. Looks at Marcus. “It feels good. Is this good?” She walks up and puts it in the bowl when we say it is good. 

There’s a crack, the wall to the north dissipates, and yet another chamber without an exit but with a dragon.

“Oh, no! It’s Avaria!” cries Maud. 


“You have survived,” growls Avaria. “Bow to me as your goddess and you will live!”

Orius bows . . . and touches Marcus, turning him invisible.

The dragon wings towards us, and breathes fire. The bard takes 21 HP, others take 42 HP, and Maud goes down on the ground screaming and burning. Marcus runs in behind the dragon, invisible, and hits twice for 36 HP total, expending two spell slots to do that much damage. Those were his last slots, and his healing magic is depleted from the last game. 

He’s a sub-par fighter now, with two attacks but nothing special beyond that. Hopefully his positioning will allow flanking attacks.

We hit the dragon with the Dissonant Whispers spell, and the dragon naturally saves – so takes half damage. Keyar throws down Hunter’s Mark, Colossus Slayer, AND he has advantage. rolls two hits, one a critical. 24 raw damage, and the bonus dice bring it to 38 HP.

Now it’s the lizard-men’s turn, because the dragon wasn’t enough. They mob Marcus, but that was a dash, so they don’t get to attack. They’ll likely have a hard time hitting even with advantage (AC 24 goes a long way), but there are four of them.

Orius takes aim at some of the lizard men with Burning Hands. They both fail their saving throw, and take 3d6 damage for 8 HP. Alas.

Avaria turns in place and attacks Marcus, biting and missing. She flies away, drawing a bunch of opportunity attacks. Marcus pursues, drawing four opportunity attacks (one hits me for 16 HP). Marcus hits twice for an additional 19 HP. The dragon is looking wounded, but dragons are tough. 

Collin runs up and casts Thunderwave at the clustered lizard men, and rolls descent damage. One succeeds in their CON save, and takes 6 HP, the rest 13 HP, and they get pushed back 10′. And there’s a loud boom, of course. It’s all about the boom. The three lizard men are knocked prone – so any attacks on them have advantage.

Keyar casts Hail of Thorns on the dragon along with the arrow shot – and rolls another critical hit. So 26 HP from the first spell-enhanced arrow, and the second bounces.

The lizard-men attack Collin and Orius; 3 on Collin and one on Orius. Only one hit on Collin for 11 HP. Ouch, says he.

Orius decides that enough is enough, and hits the fire-breathing dragon with a fireball. Which does 8d6. Marcus makes his save, and  . . . yow. 43 points of damage, halved to 21. The dragon takes nothing. Because immune. 

And the breath weapon recharges. So he breathes on Marcus, and he’s at 0 HP and goes down. He makes his first death check.

Marcus is about to develop a very healthy fear of fire. 

Vognur magic missile’s the dragon for 7 HP of damage . . . and she goes down!

Collin casts Thunderwave again, hits two, one saves. 10 HP to two, 5 HP to one. 

The team continues the fight against the lizard men, who are forced to make a morale check. They go running into the briar, save for one that stops next to Orius. 

Orius casts invisibilty on himself, then comes to Marcus and gives him a potion of healing. “I am SO SORRY,” he says. Marcus wakes up, quaffs another potion, and gives Avaria a coup de grace, killing him. 

The only foe left on the board is a very determined lizard man . . . 

The thorn walls fall away, and we see an absolutely huge green dragon bite the remaining lizard-man in half, digesting him in one fell bite.

“IS SHE ALIVE?” we hear shouted in our minds. We figure this 125′ beast is Mori, who’d been imprisoned. The moon orb glows brightly as Maud passes – we grab it and put in her lap. Her skin returns to normal color and heals. 

“Mori! Avaria’s been bad!” 

Mori says “go to sleep, my child.” The dragon looks ill. 

Avaria sought to supplant her, and poisoned her. Mori violated her oath to her god, she asks forgiveness of Keyar the elf.

Marcus prays to Veritas: “Here lies a dragon, oathbreaker. She repents her wrongdoing truly, and seeks forgiveness.”

Marcus prays again: “Forgiveness is yours, from the lords of taigh and glen. Repentance is by deeds, not by words. Rise in true faith as friend to elf, man, and justice, and healing can be yours.”

A white moonbeam blazes, and before us now stands a silver dragon.

“I am willing to serve your cause, until my life is over.”

“Then we share the same oath, dragon friend! To serve light, justice, and hope until our strength of arm fails.”

We start chatting with the dragon, who summons now-silvery lizard-men to serve a fine meal, which gives the benefits of a long rest without having to take one.

The orcs are many and multiplying. There are forces beyond Pan Calderax and Mori’s control at work here. With her son gone, and Avaria betraying her, Maud was her only source of redemption. 

We gently ask who Maud is – she’s but a foundling in the village, but with a special quality. She’s destined for other things Mori cannot yet see.

As for the orcs, they are being welded together by Darkon the Undead Lord, a foul necromancer welding the tribes together. As hard to forge the orcs together from within as without. 

After the downfall of Silverwood, Mori considered herself the queen of Dearthwood. One or two tribes of orcs worshipped her, but that was all. It grew tiresome, so Mori controlled over the one tribe, for centuries. Pan Calderax wanted to stoke the dispute between the factinos of humans, by uniting the orcs to wreak havoc on the humans, while he uses Pan Calderax’s control over the city-state of Warwick, far to the north, to conquer. Pan Calderax also rules an evil nation underneath the Majestic Fastness.  Pan Calderax exerts direct control over the Majestic Fastness’ area, and is in shapeshifted guise on the council of Warwick, and owns 3/4 of the council outright. It’s a – and he says it – wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Dragons do not have true free will. They know their beginning and end, and only through their associations with humans – Maud and Mori, Dracolindes and Alexandros, and Pan Calderax and his minions – do they have choices.

Pan Calderax yearns to be free, at any cost, pay any price. When the Black Lord came, legends lost in history, he was the first human to step forward to the island that guarded the entracnce to the abyss. Every dragon had a choice, to stay, or go with the Black Lord to this land. He believes that this way, here in the Majestic Wilderlands, is the right call. 

Mori now knows serving his original oath is the true path

There are four possibility

  • Use Mori in the local war, to fight along the path of humans
  • Venture to the Majestic Fastness with Mori to challenge Pan Calderax
  • Venture to Warwick, and try and remove it from his yoke.
  • Cleanse Dearthwood and repair the taigh

The cities are full of refugees from Ossary, which fell apart after the kidnapping of the king and the forces of Nomar split the kingdom in two. There are other possibilities.

The repair of the taigh seems intriguing. We’d have to cleanse each taigh center, find a healthy treant to take guardianship, and perform the elvish rites. Once we do that, only a being of the power of Pan Caulderax could breach it.

The dwarves, elves, gnomes, and halflngs were split apart for a moment, and in that moment the orcs brought Dearthwood low.

We discuss, and decide that healing the taigh is the right call, and other dragons are throwing in behind Dracolindes to oppose Pan Caulderax.

Some other conversations, from game chat:

Keyar Nailo (Dan Mc): are there others in Deartwood?
Rob C (GM): She mentioned some mage dwelling in a healed Taig (the one with the yellow dot).
Keyar Nailo (Dan Mc): other dragons?
Rob C (GM): Yes there are other dragon although she feel she is the most powerful.
Keyar Nailo (Dan Mc): I think we should gather the dragons of the Dearthwood and build a mighty force within
Rob C (GM): I will be doing a writeup depending how the party decides
Keyar Nailo (Dan Mc): Isnt “S” an ancient elven fortress?
Rob C (GM): THey ae the ARgent Hall the seat of the Eilven King of Silverwood
Vognur (Chris): Really nasty storm here — if I go dark, that’s why.
Rob C (GM): You feel fear from Mori when she mentions it.

We talk for a while, and start to trend to talking to the mages to the South that healed one of the taigh sites. They’re quite reckless and not terribly friendly. Somehow the taigh’s taken a liking to them, though. They are probably fairly neutral to the elves in general. 
We decide to return to the taigh-site where we threw off the fey lord. We’d bring Maud with us with the Moonstone, because we have a feeling she’s key to things for some reason.
We decide to also try and get the elves from the outpost to help recruit treants for the taigh sites.
We also ask Mori how she can help, and also if there is any loot around. Mori is almost offended that we would doubt that she knows where the loot is. 
***
We end there. Our achievement is balanced by the dragon ally . . .but we still rack up 3,500 XP each. YOW.
For treasure, we harvest Avaria’s body, at Mori’s behest.
1000d dragon blood, 500d dragon teeth, enough scales to make 2 suits of AC 20 dragon armor, and 10 VIZ. That would be dragon scale armor – heavy armor. There’s also a dragon horde that will be detailed later. Woot for loot.
17,000d, 1,800 crowns (worth 576,000 silver pieces!), 6 gems worth 1000d each, horseshoes of a Zephyr, potion of longevity, and potion of supreme healing.

I could be wrong about this one. But I have a slight feeling, playing with the ForgedAnvil character generator, that our old fight against the Sheriff of Tain should have gone a lot worse for us . . . and had things gone a slight bit differently, might have been a TPK.

Remember the situation – a level 15 sheriff pulled from, Rob says, the gladiator template n the Monster Manual or DMG. He had 110-115HP or so, and three attacks. He routinely seemed to hit us for 35-50 HP per turn (10-17 HP per attack) with a sword. He was not wearing his battle armor, but instead only mail.

After a hard-fought battle, we won.

Should we have?


The Level 15 Champion

Now, I’ll admit I started with a good set of 4d6 keep three: 16, 15, 14, 13, 13, 11. But even had I started with the standard array, things would not have gone well. So, let’s see what this guy really has to offer after spending fifteen levels as a Champion.

Stats and basics


With good rolls like that, and being human, it takes three of the stat advances he gets to get to STR 20, the maximum value. liberally spreading the others in a balanced way through CON and DEX (though for a fighter that expects to wear heavy armor, DEX is mostly good for archery and saves, though that’s no small deal in D&D5). He’s a noble and a sheriff, so I hit CHA and WIS with the 13s and my “dump stat” of 11 is INT. He’s a powerful noble with a lot going for him.

And he’s evil. Lawful Evil, but evil.

So:

STR 20 (+5); DEX 16 (+3); CON 18 (+4); INT 12 (+1); WIS 14 (+2); CHA 14 (+2)

HD: 15; Hit Points: 154.  AC 16 (chainmail)

Saving throws:
STR +10; DEX +3; CON +9; INT +1; WIS +2; CHA +2

Three attacks. 1d20+10 with a long sword for 1d8+5 slashing; 1d20+10 with shortsword 1d6+5 piercing. This is important because of Dual-Weapon fighting style.

Initiative: 1d20+6

Key skills:
Athletics (Grappling): +8
Perception +7
Imtimidation +7
Passive Perception: 22 (tough to sneak up on)

Dueling

I gave him Observant and Martial Adept, because the Battle Master abilities and maneuvers are cool.

Special Abilities

This is really where things would go downhill for us. 

  • Two-weapon fighting would have given him four attacks, the fourth with an off-hand weapon
  • Dueling would have given him +2 damage per attack if he chose to give up his off-hand weapon
  • 16-25 extra HP thanks to Second Wind
  • Action and bonus action (one time) thanks to Action Surge. 
  • Crit 15% of the time; 2d8+5 slashing (2d8+7 with +2 magic sword) when that happens.
  • Martial Adept Feat with (say) Riposte (on a miss, make a melee attack, if hit, do 1d8+1d6+7 for 9-21 points, or maybe 10-29 on a critical hit); Disarming attack would average a DC 15 save or we’re punching rather than swinging weapons
Parting Shot – The Battle Master 

This guy is bad, but not that bad. Sure, he’s got more HP than the one we fought (effectively about 175 HP) but honestly, with only AC 16 and Keyar, Vognur, and Marcus all being pretty spry fighty-types, the extra 60 HP, that’s only a few extra rounds.
No, the bad news would have been if Rob made him a Battle Master. Sweeping attack to hit extra foes with damage (and if he could hit Marcus at AC 20, he could hit anyone), and Feinting Attack to add superiority dice to damage. It’s not every time, but that could easily be an extra 5-7d10 – call it 6-60 extra damage, enough “extras” to fell Marcus (at the time, and with good rolls, even now). 6d10 averages 33 HP, which was probably 75% of Marcus’ total at the time. And that’s bonus damage. Not to mention being able to make the two guards and two nobles with him more effective through things like Commander’s Strike and Distracting Strike.
As my fellow journeymen pointed out, we’d gotten a lot of luck that fight. Keyar routinely hit twice, and Hunter’s Mark and Collossus Slayer both add up to significant damage more than once per turn, from range. Marcus was no slouch himself, with a decent-enough AC (though vs. 1d20+10, even AC20 is hit 50% of the time!). Leshar, our Lizard Man, was off fighting other foes, IIRC. 
So we may still have won, and perhaps things would have gone exactly as they did. But then again, perhaps not. 

I’ve been playing in +Rob Conley‘s Majestic Wilderlands game for a while now, and I’ve grown to like my character, Marcus. 

Still, there have been issues with how the game feels to me playing fighter-types (this is true of Swords and Wizardry as well), but looking over a few things, I’ve decided that part of the problem, if not all of it, is me. In short, system mastery has long been part of the D&D experience, and 5e is no exception. Sure, the requirements for mastery are toned down over, say, Pathfinder . . . but they’re still there.

So let’s start. It would appear my errors lie in a poor appreciation for what I can do each turn, and the duration and power of my spellcasting. Still – always good to start with the foundation.

Marcus the Paladin: The Basics


Lets start with the relevant stats:

6th Level (+3 proficiency bonus)
STR 17 (+3); DEX 12 (+1); CON 16 (+3); INT 12 (+1); WIS 14 (+2); CHA 18 (+4)
Max HP: 55 (max possible at this level would be 78)
Oath of Devotion

His equipment is top-notch. Part of a prior adventuring loot haul was a full set of +2 Plate Armor, and a looser hand with magical items than the normal 5e game seems to encourage has left him with a +2 shield and a +2 longsword as well. That makes standing to face him in melee combat look like this:

AC 24
1d20+8 to hit
1d8+5 (6-13) damage; 2d8+5 (7-21) on a critical. 
2 attacks per turn, so net 12-26 damage, 14-42 on two crits.

He also carries a non-magical longbow; that comes in handy from some of the distances we encounter, and at 1d20+4 to hit and 1d8+1 damage, twice per turn, it’s not great but not awful, either.

So in a lone fight, bereft of magical abilities, he’s going to be tough to hit at all (a 1st level fighter with a STR 18 would roll 1d20+6, hitting Marcus only 15% of the time). You’ll need a 1d20+13 to hit him 50% of the time, or probably about 1d20+9 with advantage. Marcus is a tough nut to crack with AC this high.

That being said, he’s got powers.

Passive/Always-on Abilities



By 6th level, there are things that just happen for me. 

Divine Health makes Marcus immune to disease.

Aura of Protection gives me and any friendlies within 10′ of me +4 (thanks to my CHA) to saving throws.


Available Every Turn

One thing I don’t think I fully appreciated is exactly how to get maximum advantage over the things he can do routinely. This is foolish – abilities unused are basically ignoring the benefits of grabbing a niche (a class) to begin with. 

Protection Fighting Style


This is something that doesn’t help me directly, but if a partner of mine – any friendly character – stands within five feet, I can give one attack per turn disadvantage against him by using my reaction. With a wise choice in partner (say, a rogue-type), this will make a usually lower-AC friend a lot harder to hit (non-magical studded leather tops out at AC17 if you have DEX 20).

Available Every Short Rest


A lot of my abilities can run out, but are replenished on a short rest, which means they’ll likely be available nearly every encounter, and multiple times per encounter at that.

Channel Divinity


These are the go-to abilities for each Oath type, with two abilities per Oath.

Sacred Weapon: This one’s pretty cool, and using it allows, for one minute, CHA bonus to be added to attack rolls with one specific weapon (you power-up the weapon, not the user). This does not, I don’t think, apply to damage, so much the pity. You also get 20′ radius light and the weapon counts as magical, so in the case you don’t manage to pick up a magical sword somewhere, you can still harm creatures only affected by magical weapons.

Turn the Unholy: This one has simply not come up yet in the Majestic Wilderlands. Wisdom saving throw for fiends or the undead, or they have to stay more than 30′ away from you and can’t use reactions.

Available Every Long Rest


Obviously the coolest stuff has more limits, and much of my oomph comes from things that require a night’s sleep or the equivalent to refresh. Some of them are limited in multiple ways, to boot (spell slots). Still, it’s a nifty list and bears thinking on.

Divine Sense 

Can be used 5 times in between each long rest (1+CHA modifier) and will tell me if there are celestials, fiends, or undead within 60′. Perhaps even more usefully, if an object has been consecrated or desecrated or otherwise hit with something like the hallow spell. Good for detecting the presence of things that will pose a more-than-physical challenge.

Lay on Hands 

This is the prototypical Paladin ability to heal. I can heal 30 HP per day, equivalent to about 4 healing potions (2d4+2) in Rob’s game. 5 HP worth can also cure one disease or poison. It’s not huge healing, but it’s not bad, either.

Divine Smite 

This is an ability I’ve used a lot, but it’s tied to my spell slots, so is somewhat limited. Expending a 1st level spell slot adds 2d8 to my melee damage, and a 2nd level slot is 3d8, so that’s a nice adder. Fiends or undead take an extra 1d8. So twice per day I can land a single blow that’s 4d8+5, and four times per day it’ll be 3d8+5, with an extra d8 on a crit and another vs. particularly evil creatures. The down side here is that it drains spell slots.

Oath Spells


My oath spells are always prepared, so they don’t count against my usual limit for how many spells I can know. 

Protection from Good and Evil: I have to maintain concentration to keep this one up, but for 10 minutes, a single creature that I touch cannot be charmed, frightened, or possessed by aberrations, fey, celestials, fiends, and undead. Those critters also have disadvantage when attacking that one creature. I suppose I can cast this on me as well, but given that if I’m doing this I can be broken out of my concentration by getting hit, this seems  a bit less useful than I’d like.

Sanctuary: Again, this impacts one creature. With a bonus action, for one minute my chosen target gets a bit of an out when attacked. The creature must make a Wisdom saving throw, and if it fails, he can’t attack my chosen subject with that power or ability or blow – he has to do something else. The down side is that if my chosen creature attacks or casts a harmful spell, the effects stop. So this allows a friend to . . . sit there and take it, assuming the foe continues to fail saving throws. Well, it is only a 1st level spell.


Lesser Restoration (2nd level): This one ends a condition: blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned. That’s a tough use for a 2nd level spell slot, but there you go. When you need it, you need it right then.


Zone of Truth (2nd level):  Pretty much what it sounds like. Wisdom saving throw fails, and creatures within 15′ radius can’t lie. The good news is, if impacted creatures are affected by the spell, you know it. Dodging questions is possible even if you succeed, so this makes a nice interrogation aid without being an auto-win plot-breaker.

Honestly, it’s a good thing these are always prepared, because otherwise they’re kinda lame. Protection from good/evil would be rather more interesting if it were a radius spell.

Memorized Spells


Each day I can prepare 7 spells total (4 for CHA, 3 for half my Paladin level), and cast 4 1st level spells and 2 second level. Other than the four spells I have always prepared due to my paladin-ness, I would have to choose among 13 1st level spells, and six 2nd level spells.

Even though these are available every long rest (and are thus properly part of the prior section), I’m going to treat them differently. Each day, I have to pick about 35% of the possible list to memorize, and what I choose to do will depend on what threats and challenges I expect to find in a given day. Good luck guessing, but sometimes you can choose well.

1st Level Options


The following spells are basically buffs.

  • Bless: Add +1d4 to any attack roll or saving throw for 10 rounds. Three targets.
  • Divine Favor: +1d4 damage per hit for 10 rounds. Self.
  • Heroism: One creature cannot be frightened and gains 4 temporary HP per turn for 10 rounds.

These are protection and healing.

  • Cure Wounds: 1d8+4. +1d8 for each extra level of spell slot.
  • Detect Evil and Good: 10 minutes. Detects creatures (aberrations, fey, undead, etc.) within 30′.
  • Detect Magic: 10 minutes. Detects critters or magical items within 30′. 
  • Detect Poison and Disease: 10 minutes. 30′. Does the obvious.
  • Purify Food and Drink: Does the obvious within 5′ sphere.

And these are for laying down the Holy Smack on thine enemies.

  • Command: Resisted by saving throw (Wisdom). Can’t be directly harmful to target. But Drop, Flee, Grovel, Halt, and Yield all work. More creatures at higher level.
  • Compelled Duel: This is surprisingly useful. Disadvantage on attack rolls against everyone but me so long as the target is and stays within 30′. Even if they save, the disadvantage holds, and if they don’t, they have to move to me. The disadvantage even if they save is something I missed here.
  • Searing Smite: +1d6 fire damage for the first blow, and the creature stays lit, taking 1d6 more fire damage per turn on a failed saving throw. This is for one creature, and it ends if someone puts out the flames.
  • Shield of Faith: +2 to AC for 10 minutes.
  • Thunderous Smite: On the first hit, does 2d6 thunder damage. Failed STR save means he’s knocked 10′ and prone.
  • Wrathful Smite: One hit gives 1d6 psychic damage, and on a failed Wis save is frightened.
These combat spells run a bit of a distance second to Hunter’s Mark, which is 1d6 for an hour on every blow. So these mostly take backseat to the damage-dealing capability of Divine Smite at 2d8 per hit using the same 1st level spell slots.

2nd Level Options


Buffs

  • Aid: Three targets get 5 HP and +5 HP max for 8 hours.
  • Find Steed: This summons a paladin’s mount – a celestial warhorse. It’s affected by buffing spells in addition to me at the same level. Telepathic communication, and a warhorse is kinda badass.
  • Magic Weapon: Makes a mundane weapon +1 for an hour.

Protection and Healing

  • Locate Object: Does what it says if the object was seen in close quarters (within 30′) and is currently within 1,000′ of the caster. Lasts 10 minutes.
  • Protection from Poison: For an hour, a targeted creature is cured of poison, has advantage on saving throws vs. poison, and is resistant to poison damage.

Smackdown

  • Branding Smite: 2d6 radiant damage, one time. The target is made visible if it’s invisible, and glows with subtle light.

Again, this is compared to 3d8 for the same spell slot for Divine Smite.

Parting Shot

Hrm. Well. 

I’d thought I’d been misinterpreting the spell options, but no, they’re pretty weak sauce on offense compared to Divine Smite. Given these options and seven slots (and that Rob provided me with a paladin’s mount without the spell), the 2nd level options are all lame (or highly specialized).

So, looks like mostly I’d be picking seven buffing or protection/healing spells. Mostly go-to would be

  • Bless – three allies with better chances to hit? That’s good.
  • Divine Favor – an average of 50 HP extra damage in a 10-round fight. That’s worth it.
  • Command – not always effective, but a chance to get a foe to yield without a fight is sometimes a good thing.
  • Compelled Duel – I didn’t realize that the disadvantage applies regardless. 
  • Detect Evil – always a nice ability
  • Heroism – an extra 40 HP in a long fight makes for quite a boost; if there were another fighter in the party that would be a powerful buff.
  • Searing Smite is kinda nice, in that you get repeated instances of the fire damage.
  • Shield of Faith – not for me at AC 24, but for others. At only +2 AC, this is last priority.
With a little extra prep some of the other combat spells would be good, but only if the victim/foe is known and known to be vulnerable to a particular damage type.
So I need to use Sacred Weapon more often, and also Divine Favor for long fights. Beyond that, my use of spell slots for extra damage is the right call. 
Making Spells Worth It

Some of the spells really could be cool, but probably only if they were potentially effective more than once, or slightly higher damage. Some of the effects are OK if creatures are vulnerable to it, but 2d8 is 2d8, and even double damage from (say) Wrathful Smite is less. 
None of these compare well to the extra 1d8 per turn for Collossus Slayer, plus Hunter’s Mark for 1d6 per attack. Or the extra 3d6 per turn for a rogue’s sneak attack as long as another combatant is attacking the target and within five feet. Or 8d6 for a fireball spell, though of course that is limited to spell slots – but a 6th level Sorcerer or Wizard can cast three of these, so those slots are good for a minimum of 12d6 damage (assuming a save) and 24d6 if they don’t.
Toe to toe with a melee expert should be a bad idea

This is really what I’m getting at here, and something +Peter V. Dell’Orto has remarked on before. Going face-to-face with Sir Cuisinart should really be scary. Granted, with plate and a shield, AC 20 (more with magic) is nothing to sneeze at, so they’re harder to hit. But the per-turn damage ability of fighters is really second to a lot of characters that are second-rankers.
I was thinking that it might be interesting to allow something like a fighter to spend his own actual Hit Points for more damage. Say, 2d4 to a blow for every 5 HP you spend. You probably don’t have to limit it other than not being able to spend below 10 HP plus your CON bonus times your level – those are mostly physical toughness, not skill or grit or honed combat instinct. So Marcus could exchange HP for extra damage dice as long as he’s above 28 HP (3 for CON x 6th level + 10 HP). 
If you did want to limit it, perhaps you can only do it a number of times equal to, say, half your level plus some attribute score. Not STR, because that double-dips. CON might work, but that seems odd since those are physical HP, and this bonus damage is from skill. DEX might be fun, since honestly for heavy fighters there’s not much reason to do DEX. Well, unless you’re an archer. WIS might be a good one, as it’s the ability to notice an opening (tied to Perception). CHA makes no sense, nor does INT. Half level plus WIS? That would allow Marcus to do this five times, trading 25 HP for 10d4 damage to his foes.
I’d make you select whether or not to spend HP before you roll to hit, because I would double these damage dice on a critical hit (if you miss you don’t lose the HP, I’d think?). So Marcus might announce that he’s spending 5 HP. On a hit he would do 1d8+2d4 + 5 (8-21 HP), but on a critical hit the dice would double: 2d8+4d4+5, for 11-37 HP range. 
This would leverage a fighter’s higher HP for something other than a damage sink and pincushion, and make it quite risky to stand face-to-face with a fighter type. For that reason (and since Hunter’s Mark and Colossus Slayer stack already for archers, and give plenty of extra damage from a distance where the archer can’t get hit back) I’d make it melee only. 
Hrm. That might be a good Feat, actually. Or even a Fighting Style? Class feature for combatives, and Feat for those that might want it. 
Anyway, this is just me being an inveterate rules tinkerer. But it allows the fighter-type to make the choice of using his hit points to be a wall between his enemies and his friends (this is how it plays now), or to menace his foes, but be not that much harder to kill than the softer-skinned second-rank types. It would also give fighters a much-needed (in my experience, which doesn’t hold for everyone) damage boost.

When last we left our heroes, we’d just played a fey game, and since we weren’t dead or asleep for 1,000 years, we considered ourselves victors.

Journeying to the forest, and headed across a ridgeline, we discover 8 orcs (that we can see) trying to lay an ambush for us. They are about 120-140′ from us – ideal bow range for those of us with longbows.

Keyar does what rangers do, and hits once for 11 piercing, and also inflicts his hunter’s mark for 6 HP more, which gives us a dead orc to start off the volley. Colin lets loose with some Vicious Mockery (“You call this an ambush? This is the worse excuse for tactics I’ve ever seen!” “RRRAAAAHHHG”)

Marcus closes the distance and wastes two arrows firing ineffectually, while Carmina runs towards a group of orcs.

The orcs themselves close the distance, one drawing an attack of opportunity (6 HP) from Marcus as he runs by, trying to get to the vile insulter, Colin McDaw.

Orius lets fly with some magic missiles – Mr Orcy McAngrypants is the ony target in range, and hits for 14 HP total for three missiles. He’s magically dead.

Keyar fells another, shooting and then falling back to gain the advantage of distance. Colin closes the distance, and uses his bonus action to Stealth. 22 HP later, Marcus kills another; these guys aren’t worth spending spell slots on. Carmina dashes forward trying to gain access to the fight (she’s got to move it move it).

All of a sudden, a tentacle wraps around a downed orc, and drags him into the trees, much like the trash compactor scene in Star Wars.

“Tentacles! Tentacles!” cries Orius. He casts Mage Armor on himself, always a wise move for a mage. The tentacled thing seems to have a taste for orcish meat, and eats another one. Because you can’t eat just one.

Colin chants: “There is trouble in the forest there is unrest among the trees.. for the maples want more sunlight, and the oaks ignore their pleas…” and engages another orc, staggering him but not killing him, while Marcus kills another with two solid blows. Carmina is finally in melee range, and delivers a warhammer to the face, which breaks open his face like a ripe melon.

The tentacle creature comes rushing towards us . . . and the entire party feels ravenously hungry, as if standing next to a buffet. Some sort of telepathic communication. Orius makes an Arcana roll, and pegs it as an otyugh. He hits it with a fireball, and the hunger feelings turn to pain.

Keyar pegs and kills the orc from a distance with one shot, and then goes after the Otyugh with Collossus Slayer, hitting for 18 HP.

Yummy Tauntaun

Vognur hits him with a thunderwave, and Marcus rides up and hits him twice (and expends a 2nd level spell slot) to hit for a total of 36 HP. Carmina hits it with Sacred Flame (WIS save or d8 radiant damage) for 2 HP.

We continue to pummel it bit by bit, and it misses us with its grasping tentacles. Colin gets in a sneak attack, and Marcus puts it down. It dies messily, and Marcus says “I thought they smelled bad . . . on the outside.” Thus earning him 50 XP for “tauntaun points.”

Looting the orcs we find 200d. Keyar takes the orc ears and wears them on a string. The way elves do?


With much magical and bardic encouragement, the party follows the tracks back to the Otyugh’s lair . . . and there’s lots of stuff there. Stinky stuff, but stuff. Marcus hangs back (this is off mission), but doesn’t interfere (he’s Chaotic Good, not Chaotic Priss). They loot up 1,000d, 3 crowns, Silk Hunter’s Cap trimmed with Ermine (250d), Feathered Bracers (250d) Heward’s Handy Haversack, Potion of Clairvoyance. Any weapons in the stash are corroded.

During conversation, we’re reminded we still have the Bag of Holding (holds 500 lbs).

It’s an hour before sundown, so we find a good campsite (it’s good to have an Elven Ranger in the group), and we take a long rest. We realize no one was damaged at all in the prior encounter. Including Maud, the dragon’s daughter. “Bad octopus was stinky!”

As we journey forth the next morning, a stag bursts out from the forest, his side is torn and rent, but between its antlers is a glowing blue orb of light. Out of the sky, a green dragon swoops down and lands on it, killing it.

Maud says “Oh, no . . . it’s Avaria.”

Avaria says “I am Avaria . . . who are the interlopers into my forest?! I am the queen of Dearthwood, and I forbid you to leave!” She flies off with the stag in her talons . . . and brambles begin to grow around us.

Keyar shoots at the dragon, and misses.

We find ourselves in a narrow path, and we proceed forward as we can – the sun is blotted out, there are no visible exits, and opposite from us is a corpse, impaled on the thorns.

Maud says “We’re in the entrance, This is where Mori puts people she doesn’t like, but she wouldn’t put me here. There must be something wrong with Mori!” Avaria is Mori’s daughter. This can’t be good.

The corpse is a woman, dressed in the tattered clothing of an Elder of Mitra. She is Elder Tara, a priestess known for adventuring in the Dearthwood. She’s carrying  225d,  a Potion of Greater Healing, Scroll of Remove Curse. She was apparently last in her class in the Wisdom checks.

As we check the wall of thorns, they lash out and hit Colin for 4 HP. Then a passage appears, and we decide to follow the opened piece. Not much we can do here but follow. And we come to a locked door, an actual wooden door, set into the bramble.

Marcus asks Maud to ask the door to open . . . and it does.

There’s a pool of water, glowing with a pale, sickly green light. The stag leaps out of the wall from the right, gash still wide open, and it runs, leaps over the pool, and runs down the corridor to the east. Keyar looks at the wall of thorns where the deer came out of, pokes it with a burning torch. It’s real.

Marcus approaches the evil, about to dip a torch in it. Avaria appears in it, and says “Kneel before me, and you will live!”

Marcus replies “Yeah. I don’t think so.”

“You defy me?!”

“That’s my job. We’re coming for you.”

Four vines streak out, but only one bangs ineffectually off of Marcus’ shield (AC 24, baby). After that, nine plant creatures come forward, shambling out of the wall. We start to shoot arrows and other ranged attacks at the critters, which die pretty easily.

Some of the critter types we’ve not yet shot at shoot a spray of needles at Orius, and he casts Shield, causing the attacks to ricochet off his magical force field. Arcane Ward. Nice.

We continue to make short work of these guys – they only take 10 or so HP to drop. Carmina fires Sacred Flame at green dot tree (the Holy Laser Pointer). Tentacles leap out of the pool, and miss Marcus, but hit Colin. It’s a spell (Thorn Whips), and when it hits Colin, it does 2 HP and drags him to the pool.

Keyar kills the creature in front of him, and Colin runs to the final foe, and hits twice for 12 HP, dropping it. We hand Marcus a bludgeoning weapon, they cast a bunch of spells on me, and shatter the well wall. The sickly green glow goes away.

We continue west, following the path of the stag as best we can. We come to another 60′ circular room, filled with stick men, and roll some truly terrible initiative. I mean, wow.

We decide to pull back, and they dogpile Marcus. Most miss, but one critical hit hits for 18 HP.

I suggest to +Tim Shorts to hit the entire group with a fireball, since they’ve obligingly all grouped up. I can almost certainly take the hit.

Collin hits with Hail of Thorns, and can hit five creatures for 2d10 with a held action, and Marcus backs off to a safe place. Orius hits the center of the group with a fireball, and immolates them all at once. The fireball burns away the pile as well, neutralizing the room. With great power comes great flammability.

We continue, but quickly realize we’ve been here before – we must have hit a teleporter. We detour back and head to a new room, this one with an old obelisk in it, with two skeletons dressed in mouldy armor on them. They have 468d in silver, and a +1 Shield. Orius can read the runes, too.

They are perverted elven rituals, originally performed at the phases of the moon. There is no ritual for the full moon, but there is a blood sacrifice involved. There is but one face unmarked. The dragon Mori altered the sacrifice to include blood instead of fruit.

Marcus senses this is profound evil. No surprise there.

* * * * * 

We end there.

XP is awarded, and we get 1,320 XP. Nice. I’ve only got 7,475 to go. Heh.

As we are about to leave, I realize that almost certainly Maud is the blood sacrifice required to complete the obelisk. Having said that out loud, I’m sure the GM now has options. Hell, I’d take that idea.






We start the game in combat, at a distance of no less than 200′ from the foes, which are two clawed scarecrow like things.

The first event is screaming children and two scarecrows – of a likely six total, plus a theorized hag – and the scarecrows hit the older elf guy, knocking him to the earth.

Marcus dashes up on his new warhorse (covers 120′) and still gets two sword blows in (or that’s how we did it) and hits twice for 18 HP; Marcus, in turn, gets clawed for 12 HP, down to 34HP. The other scarecrow claws ineffectively at Marcus’ horse.

As the rest of the party closes, Keyar fires two fire arrows at the scarecrow Marcus just hit – double damage puts him down hard. Next turn, Marcus hits him with a bit of divine smite, my sword erupts in holy flame, and the second local scarecrow goes down.

The paladin jumps down, lays on hands to the fallen “grandfather,” and he feels almost like he is both there and not there, at the same time.

He thanks Marcus in the name of Veritas . . . but he complains of orcs. And we hear orcsong in the distance. Orc-hestral music, as it were.

Vognur says that he saw someone with silver hair holding a horn duck into the trees to the North. Hmm. Someone’s setting us up, but he’s 550′ away – 180 yds.


The children note that they were hungry, eating peaches. They’re lost, please help us. The orcs will be attacking . . .

Colin reminds us that there was a heroic last stand in the easter part of the forest that occurred because they were trying to save some children – this feels right to Marcus, who solidly suspects that we’re interacting with a figment or a remnant.

We decide to light up the scarecrows with flame arrows and kill ’em with swords, just to be sure. Keyar proceeds to light ’em up with flame arrows, taking out two in two rounds. Two regular arrows from Marcus are probably an annoyance more than anything else. Marcus will enter the villa, and see if there’s a big bad somewhere in the center, while the rest of the party close in on the scarecrows.

The rest of these guys are running and closing in.

This is the longest-range D&D combat I’ve ever been involved in.

Marcus rides into the middle of town, and detects evil strongly. This was what we suspected – a hag. She magic missile’s me, and rolls 3 1’s for damage. We shall call this hag . . . Tim ( +Tim Shorts, roller of quantum 1’s).

We hear real orc screams to the North. Life is interesting.

Marcus has cleverly drawn all the scarecrows and the hag to himself. His target will be the thick of combat, of course, and hopefully his compatriots will deal with the scarecrows. My plan is to burn as many spell slots as needed to defeat the hag in short order. We shall see.

Marcus lays about him, two hits, two 2nd level spell slots, 52 HP total damage. She looks hurt, which is good, since that was a crit and more, plus the invocation of sacred weapon.

A portal opens up in front of her, she becomes infinitely flat, and she disappears. I still sense evil where she was, but it it muted, as if through a veil.

The rest of the scarecrows crowd around me, attacking and missing me, rather than my horse, which is good.

Keyar continues to feather scarecrows effectively, killing one and wounding another.

Marcus hears, whispered evilly: “We are not done, minion of the High Lord!”

Marcus kills a visible scarecrow; he then senses the evil, and follows it north. He calls forth his paladin’s light, and sees a shadow on the ground, but no hag – she’s ethereal.

Keyar feathers the last of the scarecrows, and the orcs continue to close from the North.

I taunt the hag, and she says “you have no idea what you’re dealing with, High Lord’s lackey!” and she completely disappears from my senses.

Orius casts fireball at the charging orcs, catching five in the spell’s range with a DC 16 save. Four take full damage, one takes half, He rolls 28 HP of damage . . . and none drop. Yow. Tough orcs.

Colin flings a sleep spell, hits the middle 5 orcs (of 8) – and rolls 5d8 for 21 HP. Since the spell hits those with the lowest current HP, all five in the zone of effect drop for 10 rounds (one minute).

We all turn to engage the orcs, of which there are three effectives left. Orius whips out the Wand of Magic Missiles and targets one of the orcs that is not hurt. We continue to whittle away at them, magic missile for some, Crown of Madness for the leader; alas. He makes his save.

The orcs charge at us, up the hill, and a ghostly spear appears before them and accelerates up the hill to us.

“How come these orcs are cooler then we are?” says I.“Because they were summoned by the fey,” says another.“That’s a good answer.”

Colin tries Crown of Madness on the leader again, and Rob rolls 21 for his save. He’s also Hold Person’d. Marcus (with advantage from being on a horse on the top of a hill) hits an orc for 10 HP, while everyone else who’s out of range tries to get in range.

Some orcs try and hit Marcus, but AC 24 is tough to beat. A phantom spear attacks Tim, rolls a crit (!) and hits for 11 HP; Vognur and his AC 21 is narrowly missed by another spear.

We’re on round 5 of the sleep spell, and Keyar gains the top of the hill; an AC 16 target is hit for 19 HP plus two hunters’s marks, for 23 HP total (hit rolls of 26 and 28).

We continue to fight – Marcus fells an orc, and he and his ghostly weapon both disappear. The orc chief breaks his Hold Person, more spears attack our buff wizard Orius, and Keyar hits a disengaging orc once, hunter’s mark, inspiration, and whatever. He goes down.

Vognur tags the orc chief for 8 HP of slashing; Marcus throws in a few more on the orc chief, and we continue to whittle down the opposition, taking minor blows (thus far) in return. The attritive nature of D&D combat is a bit on full display here.

The orc chief attacks Vognur, but Marcus uses his defensive fighting style to force disadvantage; three attacks all miss.

Another magic missile from Orius hit home for 14HP; Colin McDaw hits twice for 17 HP, and the chief finally goes down. The war chief looks utterly surprised as he falls.

We defeat the sleeping orcs, putting them out of their fey misery.

* * * * *

Out of combat, Marcus heads back to the villa, and tries praying like crazy to Veritas to cleanse this villa and lay the spirits to rest.

We also rack up major treasure: 6000d, 90 gold crowns (28,800d), 2 x Coral (100d), 2 x Garnet (100d), 3 x Jade (100d), Jet (100d), 4 x Pearl (100d), 2 x Spinel (100d), Quaal’s Feather Token (anchor), Periapt of Health, Potion of Diminuition, Scroll of Protection (fey)
5 viz and 1,000d in ritual components

* * * * *

In the distance, we hear an orc horn again. Sounds like 3 miles away or so. Marcus finds standing stones with Runes of Protection; Keyar activates the powerful stones, motes of light streak away from the villa and the locale, as the children turn into pixies and fly away.

As the spirits flee, we see a ghostly face, who asks us if we want to continue the story, and play out the remainder of the tale. It ended as it shouldn’t have, and he is upset. He drifts away on the wind.

The taigh has not been revitalized, but we at least drove out the evil influence that had taken root here.

* * * * *

We end there. We had a very, very good evening. We thwarted a greater sidhe lord via activating the standing stones, killed a bunch of scarecrows and orcs, and drove off a hag. Plus the treasure.

Everyone gets 1,500 XP for the night – that’s quite a bit for one of Rob’s adventures, and it pushes Marcus to 6th level. The big bonus there is Aura or Protection – good for everyone else, not so much me. 6 HP extra. No extra spells, proficiency bonus, or powers that I can tell.

We started the game with +Tim Shorts talking about a new character – a High-Elf Wizard with CON 18 and CHA 6. 

“I’m not going to play him mean; I’m going to play him ugly.”

He also rolled HP and true to form, rolled a 5 and a 6 on 4d6 for extra HP . . . dang it! He took the average instead. 

We started with a not-so-brief digression on the strengths and weaknesses of various systems. I won’t repeat that here.

* * * * *

We get started reminding ourselves what we’re doing. M is the demesne of Mori the dragon. The E is the elven land of Loshain, and the H is the halfling land of the Limerick Shire. We ask Maud if Mori lives near the river; she says it’s dangerous to go down there due to . . . dragon turtles? The river plan is modified to accommodate not getting eaten.

Ugly Wizard: “Greetings, gentlemen. I heard you were looking to travel downriver!”
Marcus: “So much for operational security.”
Keyar: “You look trustworthy! Please join us.”
Ugly Wizard: “And I know the location of convenient outposts that makes me inherently valuable to your quests!”
All of Us: “Welcome aboard!”


Oh, and he was scarred by a dragon, thus the CHA 6. Back when Pan Caulderax was a younger dragon, he took issue with some questions he asked. But he’s made a lifelong study of dragons – he gestures to a table piled high with books.

Huh. Guess you’ll need a horse. No, I’ve got a cart that I wheel behind me, called the Gurpscart in my language.

So we pick up a 5th level wizard that knows a crap ton about dragons and the local environment. We gain knowledge of outposts and “taighs,” (similar to the Taig from Moon’s Paksenarrion series).

The Taigh

The Taigh (tay-guh) is a magical construct created by the Elves to protect their sylvan realms. The heart of a taigh is a permanently rooted Treant (12 HD). The boundary of the taigh can be miles in diameter and consists of a hedge several hundred yards in depth.

The hedge boundary acts as a entangle spell against any intruder. Saving throws are at +5 difficulty. Failed saves result in the target being entangled and unable to move. If the saving throw is made the target can move at one-quarter speed. 

The Taigh can sense the location of anybody within its bounds and can communicate telepathically with them. It can also read minds and intent. In addition to elves, a taigh’s inhabitants include many other sylvan creatures such as treants, centaurs, satyrs, nymphs, and dryads. A typical taigh grows 1 mile in diameter for every century of age. 

The taigh abilities disappear if the central treant is killed. In the case of severe injury the taigh will put itself in a deep slumber until it fully heals many centuries later, its protective powers limited to a few hundred yards around the central treant.

The first taighs were created as sanctuaries for refugees fleeing the demons during the Uttermost War 

Each hex can normally be crossed in an hour or so, so each big hex can be crossed at a rate of three hexes in four hours. We figure five days out, five days back, and a buffer for survival. Two weeks rations and whatnot are needed; we can probably stretch that by hunting, 5d per day for trail rations; 20d for dried rations. Per person. So 420 silver for two weeks for a party of six. Sold; they should keep for a month.

We also note that we have a Staff of Defense and a Wand of Magic Missiles kickin’ around in the party loot kitty, which would make rather nice add-ons for our new mage. We decide to present them to him after a day’s travel or something like that

As we’re waiting, there’s a commotion and a curse. Some huge horse – a true warhorse – is standing around looking indignant. He’s decked out in the colors of Veritas, and he’s looking pissed off that I haven’t found him yet. Since a fully-trained warhorse is like having an Audi R8 show up at the door, we decide that it’s better than Find Steed.

It’s a warhorse from the Basic Rules DM Guide (available for free):

Warhorse
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 11; Hit Points 33
Speed 60 ft.
STR 18 (+4);  DEX 12 (+1)  CON 13 (+1) INT 2 (−4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA7 (−2)

Senses passive Perception 11

Trampling Charge. If the horse moves at least 20 feet straight toward a creature and then hits it with a hooves attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the horse can make another attack with its hooves against it as a bonus action.

Actions
Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 2d6 + 4 bludgeoning damage.

We find a ship headed south, but we’re only going 15 miles; he wants 100sp to take us the 15 miles, which is reasonable. We mount up and head out. We reach the outpost by noon. It’s got a waterfall, it’s nestled into a cliff, and they drop us off at a beach.

Orius, our new mage, leads us on. He goes around a rocky outcropping, and there are hidden stone steps, guarded by three elven archers staring down at us. They are properly snooty, and we exchange banter about the relative worth (or lack thereof) of half-elves and whether such are properly faithful when called to the High Lord. I engage in some very non-Paladin-like insult-trading with our non-host, since we’re blindfolded, mistrusted, and insulted along the way.

We travel through the woods from outpost to Taigh, and the GM calls for Perception checks all around; even the new warhorse makes one.

We see two black panther-like creatures with tentacles sprouting from their bodies appear out of nowhere.

The displacer beasts attack Carmina and Colin; Carmina’s hit once for 5 HP bludgeoning, and 6 HP of piercing. Colin is missed twice; the tentacle swings around and hits himself in the face.

Orius casts True Strike on Marcus; Carmina uses his Action to disengage and move. Colin casts Speak with Animals, and challenges the displacer beasts and warns them away. They reply that they’re hungry, and we’re their meal.The illusions that the displacer beasts cast give us disadvantage.

Keyar rolls a 24 for initiative, and he goes first, missing.

The displacer beasts attack Colin and Marcus; they miss. Marcus disengages from his target (two attacks of opportunity miss), and charges over 100′ to hit the second beast twice for 21 points of damage. The beast seems annoyed, but hitting it means that the disadvantage caused by the displacer effect is negated.

Orius flings a fireball at the displacer beast; the thing makes it’s check vs DC 16, and blinks out of the blast, taking no damage. Colin says to the beast “It’s a pity you have chosen a predator for prey!” and attacks. Vognur hits the near kitty with a magic missile, and moves between the creature and Carmina.

Keyar hits the recently-wounded beast with both Hunter’s Mark and Collossus Slayer, he hits twice, despite disadvantage, for a total of 37 HP of damage. He flees, and triggers two opportunity attacks, one each from Marcus and Colin, for 20 HP more. Still not incapacitated!

Vognur takes a hit, but not bad – 15 HP; Carmina heals him up with a Cure Light Wounds. Marcus wheels his horse and strikes with his lance for a few HP; nothing much, but enough to neutralize the displacer’s disadvantage-inflicting illusion.

Orius hits Marcus with another True Strike cantrip, granting advantage next turn on his first attack.

Colin hits the displacer with Viscous Mockery (yes, that’s a real spell) for 3 HP of psychic damage. Vognur uses his magical sword on the local target, hitting for 20 HP.

Keyar fells the fleeing beast with a critical hit, then hits the other. Marcus and the rest of the team kill the second one, but Marcus has to expend a spell slot to do it.

Two displacer hides worth 200d each can be harvested, plus one viz off of each one; the pelt can be made, perhaps, into a displacer cloak. The viz substitutes for a 1st level spell slot, or 100d (or so) towards creating a magical item.

We also get 20 man-days of rations through careful butchery. You have disadvantage while trying to eat them, though. Usually displacer beast meat, as a predator, is not terribly savory or palatable, but Keyar knows how to butcher them up just right, so it’s not bad. It’s not good either, but no worse than the rations we have, and we effectively just picked up three days of extra food.

We keep going, and an hour before sundown, we see a copse of trees on a hill in the woods. There are remnants of an orchard and a vinyard. Scouting ahead, Keyar sees perhaps 20 children and an elder, crowded around a cooking fire. We also see six fresh scarecrows in the field. The children all look pretty gaunt; they’ve not had much to eat. The grandfather-type looks to be a very, very old elf. The kids look human.

We start hypothesizing that these guys are eating corrupted food from the Taigh, when evil creatures move in, the land no longer is vital. The scarecrows usually indicate a hag; the children take on a visage of innocence, but they may well be minions of a hag. Marcus uses Detect Evil, and oh, yeah. There’s evil up there.

If we could clear this out, the elves would look upon this favorably, and be able to bring this back.

Marcus decides to clear this clutch of evil out. We give Orius the Staff of Defense and the Wand of Magic Missiles as a “welcome to the team” present.

Colin remembers. A long time ago, there was a last stand in this forest to protect some children. We believe it was unsuccessful. But the faeries are emotions incarnate; the children may well be faeries that are the remnants of the slain. The elf may have gathered to him the members of the unseelie court that may cause problems, like the restless spirits of the children. We also suspect there’s a hag in the middle of the clearing.

We move forward, trying to effectively draw fire and detect evil by moving closer to the cluster of fae/elves.

We hear a screech and scream, and all the children are suddenly running oout of the woods liek they’re fleeing in terror. The grandfather elf is being attacked by two of the scarecrows, which are now ambulatory.

We totally saw that coming.

We end there, since it’s getting on to night time.

* * * * *
We got 500 XP each. Not too much treasure, but a lot of movement (both literally and plot-wise).

When last we left our heroes, we were being relentlessly pursued by an angry flesh golem (and really, is there any other kind?), which was currently tearing apart the secret door we’d closed behind us. We decide that the equivalent of a short rest has passed.

We shoot a few arrows at it, and it withdraws . . . only to bash through the door using another door as a battering ram. Curses . . . animated mound of flesh is a SMART animated round of flesh.

We toss a torch on a quickly-erected pile of wood, and the thing again withdraws screaming. We also withdraw, so as not to choke to death in the smoke.

Stalemate.

The fire collapses the basement, which also collapses the house above it – but that was the bad guy’s house, so we’re not that concerned. We decide to split up, take watches, and read up on Osral’s notes:

  • Dragon Killer on the loose? Investigate connection between the death of Smarlgon and the death of Garatalz. Samrlgon is one of Pan Caulderax’s lieutenants in the Majestic Fastness and was killed several weeks ago in a fight with a adventuring party. Garatalz was one of Duke Divolic’s Blue Dragons and was killed in the failed uprising in City-State. Could not care what happens to a Blue Dragon except two dragons in a matter of months are killed.
  • Goods smuggled to and from Warwick via a secret port on the River Severn over the Troll Mountains. Goods are then taken overland to contacts on the River Stillring and sent to Byrny via smugglers on boats. The Dwarves have a blind spot when it comes to river bourne traffic and rely mostly on their human subject which are easily bribed. 
  • Rocknut tribe of Trolls causing issues. May have to use the allied tribe of the Splatterskulls to eliminate them or to subjugate them. 
  • The Silverlode Mining Company of Adventures are a direct route of smuggling goods from the Majestic Fastness and into Byrny. Ardan Morcor is the leader a noted fighter. 
  • Only one reliable contact in Thunderhold. Rigsmal the Innkeeper of the Jewel Thief’s Pub. The Dwarven vigilance make it difficult for him to do anything beyond offering temporary lodging to passerbys.
  • Primary task is too facilitate shipment and smuggling operation to and from the City-State along the Rorystone Road. Most recent job is to send a messeger to Master Ordal, a master merchant, to help to rescue a daughter of a City-State Knight, Sir Marius of Clan Alarain. The Knight in the pay of Pan Caulderax.
  • Another order is to Keep Maud safe as leverage over the Dragon Mori. We will need her service in order to escalate the situation with the warring factions of City-State.
Hmm. Some good leads here.
Maud, on the other hand, wants to know if we’re taking her back to Mori, the green dragon. We know he lives in Dearthwood, but we have only a vague location.
And we also have to raise Colin McDaw, the PC that croaked it last time due to a bad roll on a death check. Turning him from a meat popsicle back to a real boy will run us only 1,000silver. 
We all get a long rest (including Dead Colin . . . Colin McDead? “Having been recently dead, I can tell you it’s not that bad. The environment turns black, except for a red X over you . . . “

A bit about dragons in Majestic Wilderlands

The god Set created the dragons as elite shock forces against the Demons during the Uttermost War. After the war the Demons were imprisoned in the Abyss. A ward was placed around the entrance to bar them from returning to the Wilderlands. The ward was comprised of crystals placed in several towers around the entranceway. The Dragons were charged to act as guardians and to protect them against any outsiders. 

After a thousand years some Dragons began to become bored of this duty and yearned for the freedom of the Wilderlands. When the Black Lord arrived seeking aid in the Crystal Wars those dragons eagerly agreed to join him. For betraying their duty these dragon became known as the Black Dragons. After arriving in the Wilderlands some of the Black Dragons chafed at aiding the Black Lord. They instead left to make their own way. These Dragons became known as the Copper Dragons.  

The remaining dragons resolved that the Black Dragons betrayal shall not go unpunished. They sent out a small contingent of loyal Dragons to aid the Black Lord’s foes and to bring the Black Dragon to justice. They adopted silver as their color. When the Crystal Wars ended with the destruction of the Black Lord, the Black Dragons scattered. Some of the loyal Dragons were changed by the war. They became obsessed, believing that any means was acceptable in hunting down the Black Dragons. These Dragons changed their color to Blue. 

The dragons that remained behind to guard the towers adopted Gold as their color and still await the return of their brethren.  

Dragons are reptilian with four limbs, tails, and wings folded into their front limbs. Their hide is made of scales and is one of the toughest substances known in the Wilderlands.

A Dragon sense of time/sense is very different than that of the races. They know how they end as well as their past. They perceive time as one moment. This ability doesn’t extend to the mortal races, including Elves, only to themselves. It is for this reason that Dragons will actively involve mortals in their plans. It is only through mortal action that a Dragon’s fate can be altered. 

A Dragon is extremely confident of himself and his position in the world. They believe that they are the highest creatures of creation and view other races as children or with contempt. A few dragons, notably the Silver Dragons, have come to understand the ability of mortal races to alter their fate and actively involve themselves with mortals. 

We ask Maud if she knows Mori’s son, the green dragon in Thundertree – he’s been a bad boy and should come home to his mommy. Maud says he gives her the creeps; Mori told her that if anything would ever to happen to Maud, she should not go there. 
We’re all very much getting the feel that Maud is actually Mori’s biological daughter via shapeshifting . . . and we also have the token of Pan Caulderax. When we interrogated Pardan we also knew that Mori had ordered her son to return home.
We pause to shop – the Majestic Wilderlands is much more lavish with magic than the default assumptions in D&D5. So we pick up
  • (Marcus): A +2 Shield for Marcus (1500)
  • (Group) 13 Potions of Healing (2600)
  • (Group) 3 Potions of Extra Healing (2400)
  • (Marcus): Trades in his +1 longsword for a +2 longsword (1575)
  • (Vognur): +1 Shield (500)
  • (Colin): +1 Rapier and +1 Studded Leather Armor (1600)
  • (Keyar): +1 longbow and 10 +1 arrows (1200)
 We contribute back into the community pot as well, zilching out some of us (Marcus and Keyar zeroed out their personal funds, for example), and leaving 3,857s for the community pot. Socialism in action, to each according to their need, etc.

That was a pretty effective shopping trip. The monsters will probably level up too.

We go catch a boat. The Sheriff introduces us to Captain Vargan Larador, who will take us to Modron. He asks if we’re expecting trouble – I tell him that based on my current run of luck, we should expect to be harassed by monsters, assaulted by pirates, and probably a random storm or two.
It takes us two days to reach Modron, and we are not assaulted in any way, but it is a heavy rain as we arrive. Modron is a major walled city. We should have done our shopping here for the big magical stuff. Alas. We know where the main temple of Mitra is, in the center of the map, and the palace of the Prince is next door. We decide not to pay our respects to the prince, because that doesn’t end well.
Carmina and Marcus go to pay respects to the Bishop and the rest of the party get lodgings at a reasonable inn, something “Rated G” since we have a little girl with us. We check out the Lamb and Spirits, a high-end inn servicing merchant types, wealthy craftsmen, and other professionals. Even a knight or two. The Innkeeper sees Keyar: “it’s not often the Fair Folk visit our humble abode. Are you of the leaf or fountain?”
“Ummm . .. leaf, I think. I’d love to reserve a room.” It’ll be 50sp, and that will cover everyone. Nice. Good thing we kept some money in the party pool.
Over at the temple, Carmina is greeted as the elder she is by Bishop Dentus. Introductions are made. We report that things are not going well in City-State. As far as we can tell, the rebellion was short-lived, premature, and messy. It may have even been instigated by forces seeking chaos in the city, instigated by Pan Calderax. She did complete her mission to turn over funds from Tain, once we’d liberated Tain. We wound up, um, killing the Sheriff, burning the keep, and rescuing the Bishop. 
Um. What? 
Yeah . . . we try and explain, but it doesn’t go well (nor should it, as it was not our best day). We do note that the Settites had been driven out, the adventuring party was left in temporal power, and the church was restored to power. But many other bad things – Highgarden and Norcross – were stirring, and calmness and order weren’t in the cards. That’s our story and we’re stickin’ to it, etc.
The sitrep for the Prince of Modron is to urge calm. An expeditionary force will try and retake Tain from the towns to the Northwest – perhaps the Prince could give reasons to not expand the civil war to the lords of City-State. 
We also note to the Bishop that we’re trying to split off a faction of black dragons from Pan Calderax, so that might help guide the Prince to tell them that they’re being used as pawns to Pan Calderax. 
The Bishop “officially” partners Carmina with Marcus to stop Pan Calderax. We do a pretty massive paper dump – a scribe is summoned to copy the documents. Quarterly reports are requested. Carmina requests a letter of introduction from the Modron’s office instructing the Faithful to give what aid they can. They give us a voucher for 7 days stay at the Lamb and Spirit, and they bequeath the 2,000sp that Carmina has in her possession to her as an expense account.
Back at the Inn, they play music (collecting 180sp in the process!), and collect rumors. The Viking king of Ossary fell – the kingdom is split between the forces of Prince Artos of Nomar and Duvalic.
Details on the rumors to follow, and we end it there. 
*****
So, again, no combat this game except in the beginning, but a lot of roleplaying and we are tracing down what feels like key leads. We collect 600xp, including “defeating” the Flesh Golem by sealing it into the basement with no other exits.

We walk by Orsal’s house, flying casual. A mercenary is standing outside the house like he’s waiting for someone, and two nobles are there talking.

“Is The Man here?” Yes. “The man has a nice house.” OK.

We fail insight and history rolls. Not being thiefy, we decide to pass, and head to the Sheriff’s place. We brief him extensively on our theories, and he acts as if he’d not be surprised to find that Orsal was dirty. He’s been profiteering quite well off of the war between Dracolindes and Carvolik.

The Sheriff has the highest respect for Carmina and the servant of the Battle Maiden. We have his total support. He gives us five men and his Steward – if we say he’s evil, he’s evil.

Heady stuff.

We send Colin ahead to get an advance look at the place. Five guards, the steward, and Carmina and Marcus follow very shortly thereafter. Colin McSneakypants rolls 27 on his Stealth check, rockin’ it.

There are three doors and five windows. While Colin’s watching he sees a mercenary type and a woman, laughing and talking and carrying bundles.

We get 10 fighters from the Sheriff, and surround the place. We knock on the door and demand entrance. Inside are at least one noble, Orsal, and many others. We note that we have the rights to search the place.

We ask Orsal to call his people into the great hall, which he does. There are 8 servants, plus a thuggish looking guy that looks to be in charge of the laborers, plus Captain Parvis, three men-at-arms, the noble, and Orsal himself.

Colin the Bard engages them in disarming conversation, and tries to trap them verbally or observe something to tie them to Pan Calderax. This org doesn’t use secret signs; they rely on magic. They also appear to be using the guilds to move people, information, and trouble along.

He tries to use his deception skills to make Orsal think he’s maybe on the same side, in deep cover, or something. We do a quick check of the trap door . . . and find some darn nice construction down there. Weapon racks and a training area.

We have a major issue here. Carmina is still upstairs minding the store.

We are having so many distractions – kids, phone calls, all kinds of stuff – that we might as well not be playing at all some of the time. No one has been immune, but it’s making a chaotic situation worse.

We try an organize the guys, and we see a noble whispering to Orsal as a serving woman squeezes by someone else . . . and before things go horrible, Carmina casts sleep. It’s like a truly-harmless Taser.

A few sleep, and the rest roll initiative, and we have a bunch of low rolls for us, and not-as-low-as-us for the bad guys.

The noble says “The singer should learn to leave well-enough alone,” and stabs one of the dwarven guards . . . and it bounces off his armor. His second attack (!) hits and does 10 HP, and he goes down.

Orsal looks at Carmina, and freakin’ breathes fire on him for 5 HP.

The dwarves are not amused. They attack. The steward backs out of the combat.

Carmina and Marcus hear the ruckus, and rush up the trap door. The noble attacks Colin: “The singer should not involve himself,” said dispassinately as he hits for 14 HP (ouch! ouch!)

Another fire attack, but the sergeant’s armor protects him completely; he emerges unscathed. More of our team attacks, hitting the mercenary captain for 4 HP. On the soldiers’ turn, they hit but do not take out a few dwarves. The mercenary captain, however, fells two of our allies, using an Action Surge plus his natural level to strike four times.

Colin gets to use his rogue abilities, and hits the noble for 17 HP. He soaks it.

The thug comes after Colin, but misses a lot, only doing 3 HP. Carmina moves into the room, and hits the green noble with Sacred Flame; a DEX save with DC 15. So he takes 2d8 for 12 HP radiant damage . . . and naturally the guy breathes in, out, and hits him back with a Hellish Rebuke. Carmina makes his saving throw thanks to the d6 from Inspiration, and only takes 1 HP.

A guy in red breaks for the door, but is met by Marcus, who has dodged out of the building to try and take the fighters by surprise. Two hits with a magical sword later, and he drops.

Orsal pulls out some gum arabic, and disappears. All the mercenaries have fallen or fled, but more dwarves go down. Colin the bard casts Thunderwave . . .

Marcus comes in behind the captain and expends a spell slot, hitting for 31 HP total. Impressively dead. We hear someone running up some stairs on a higher floor.

Colin disengages from the thuggish leader, and climbs up the outside wall to the third floor balcony. He’s 2/3 of the way up . . .

The thug is just that stupid, and he attacks the paladin; his blade clangs off Marcus’ shiny new magical plate. Marcus drops him with two hard blows.

By the way, Roll20 requires the weapon table to be completely filled out, otherwise there’s an error, including “Critical Damage.” Safety tip.

Colin climbs up the wall, hides on a balcony, and will hit the door with a thunderwave as it opens. If the round ends, he’s quaffing a potion. As Marcus and Carmina rush up the stairs (Marcus activating Sacred Weapon, to hit CHA bonuses to hit). The door opens, and Colin hits him with Thunderwave as a second-level spell . . . 5 HP and hopefully breaking concentration.

“I’m sorry . . . did I break your concentration?”

He naturally grows dragon wings, and slams into Colin (rolls 17 on the athletics check), and Colin rolls 18, stopping him – they get tangled up. He flies backwards, provoking an attack of opportunity from Colin, which hits for 11 HP. He loses his concentration . . . and his wings.

Colin: “You are beaten. Yield.”

Osral: “Never.”

All of that was a held action for Colin, so it’s his turn again (!). He goes with the stabbity stabbity, hitting for 7 HP.  Carmina hits him with Hold Person, which doesn’t hold, and I knock him prone. He gets back up.

He says “your friends will die,” and despite Marcus’ spending a reaction to give that attack disadvantage, he gets hit for 11 HP, taking him out. No worries – Paladin here.

Carmina hits him for 8 HP, he goes down.

Colin gets healed up by Marcus using Lay on Hands. The dwarves are tending their wounded; Colin medicines the guy to not die. The dwarves will eventually be OK.

We tie Orsal up, and do a quick search of the house. Nothing doing.

We head immediately downstairs. Theres’s a little girl to rescue. We head out, taking the first pathway out of the training area. We go down the hall, quietly pick a lock, and surprise a guy covered in draconic symbols, with a bruised girl cowering in the corner.

The three dads playing decide to roll initiative to see who gets to kill this motherf**ker first. One does not kidnap little girls in this group.

Marcus wins, hitting him twice in the back and expending a 2nd level spell slot for 3d8 more damage. He goes down. We strip him naked, tie him up, gag him, and then stabilize him.

We find a Book of Shadows and Book of Ancient Secrets on Orsal. We find huge notes on Pan Caulderax in the cell.

We continue, since we hear chanting and stuff in the next room. Colin and Marcus rush onwards, unwilling to let evil stand, while Carmina takes the little girl out to safety.

We shoot arrows and go all stabbity at the lead cultist, wounding him badly. The lead cultist casts Hold Person on Colin, and he is held. Two cultists attack and hit, doing 6 HP total. Marcus runs up and drops the two cultists attacking Colin, dropping both (with the help of a spell slot; I’m down to 3 1st level slots left, and I basically save them for damage dealing).

Colin frees himself from the spell. The leader flees. and Marcus drops him with a lucky (and low-damage) 2 HP arrow shot.

More cultists appear from the south. One tries to hit me with Sacred Flame, and my save means I take no damage. I hit the spellcaster with an arrow for 7 HP. Colin runs up, using bonus action to close the distance with the spellcaster, and hits for 7 HP.

Spellcultist attacks back, missing with a glowing fiery hand. Bad touch!

We hear “help, we’re being invaded!” Marcus acknowledges this with two arrows, killing him. There are still more guys in the room, though. Colin tries to make it one less, hitting twice for 6 HP on our caster friend.

A cultist with a scimitar attacks and misses; the spellcaster tries to touch Colin (success) and does 22 HP of damage (4d10!). The bard goes down. Marcus gets hit for 11 HP as well, despite AC 22.

Marcus runs up and hits the spellcaster, hitting for 20 HP expending a spell slot. Colin fails a death check. The bad guys make morale checks . . . and one goes running. Four are left. Two hit me (glad I’m wearing plate), and . . .

Colin rolls a 1 on his death check . . . and dies. Our first true character death.

I hear terrible roaring from ahead. I pick up Colin’s body over my shoulder, and exercise the better part of valor. An 8-foot tall stitched-together thing is chasing me.

We escape from the cellar . . .but the golem ogre thing is chasing us. (Turns out it’s a flesh golem)

 . . . and we end there.

***

We’ll see how many reinforcements arrive next timeIt’s going to cost 12,500sp to raise Colin.

Overall, Marcus acted like an actual first-line combatant this game. What he hit tended to go down, and judicious use of extra 3d8 and 2d8 spell slots made for an effective boost to ensure foes stay down. Switching from a longbow to a sword at will makes for a nice ranged/melee pairing. The AC 22 didn’t help me as much as it should have, since the GM kept rolling really high numbers this time.

Not sure how nasty a flesh golem is. I’ve got maybe 2 spell slots left at 1st level for extra damage. But we also should have a crap-ton of help coming, all with crossbows. We should be able to pincushion this guy pretty hard.

We picked up after a lot of time off. The last time I played, it was about five minutes and “oh, by the way, your friends managed to salvage the +2 Plate Armor,” so yay!

We are apparently saddled with a young lady and her mother as a result of some action with some mercenaries.

After Fosco and Lesharr dropped off the armor. It is the first fall month, 13 days into it. Fosco, it seems, never came back.

***

We wake up. This is a good start. However, I’m at an utter loss as to what to do next. A vast silence occurs as we realize that we have not a flipping clue what to do.

We review where we left off:

We had sort of tried to get out of being involved with the revolution and civil war business, and back into the realm of resisting Pan Calderax. We were trying to weaken his plans and erode his power base while trying to figure out his ultimate goals.

So Josh’s mission is taken care of, so we have some leads to look at.

The Druid Reidoth seemed a good lead. The Ranger station for the church was related. We could also head over to City-State and see if we could dig up any dirt on Herone’s folks. The dragon in Thunderstruck was a baby dragon; maybe something we could take. Hony of the Twillight Company was ‘in bed’ with the bad guys. We were looking to create a rift between Hony and the Company. Mori is a green dragon, and Pan Calderax is using Maud as leverage.

We decide to head over to chat with the Druid, since he’s local. We head over to the charcoaler, and ask to speak with him. Who sent him, we’re asked. Keyar the Ranger. Ah, yes, come, come! Reidoth has arrived.

We see a Druid eating breakfast along with a bard and the charcoal. The Druid declaims in some sort of accent, and asks us what out quest is. To defeat Pan Calderax. Yes, he’s out of our league. Can he help us in any other way? We show him our notes from Herone.

Maud’s son is back at Thundertree causing a bit of ruckus. If we could get him out of there, it’d be a good help, and we could tell him to tell his mother . . .

So, our plan is to rescue a dragon in distress and take him back to a damsel, to influence Mori . . . no, we’re rescuing a damsel in distress to bring back to a dragon. OK. Sold.

So we will head to Bryny and spend a weekend there rescuing damsels.

As we head out, we come across six men at arms from City-State. our new friend the Bard goes forward and is challenged by the knight. Colin McDaw is out in front, the paladin 50 yards back. Colin explains he was traveling through Tain, and we explain that that whole rebellion thing is a bad business all around (true!). They’re heading out to deal with the rebels in Tain.

We don’t kill them, and they don’t try and kill us. Progress.

As we go, we come to Norcross, led by a Therian Baron. Not sure of his name.

We see a large military camp with about 50 people in it. We arrive at a clearing, seeing a deer, which is naturally then riddled with arrows. We hear a voice saying “OK, here’s a knife; go put it out of its misery.”

We hang back (and Rob decides my magical plate does not give disadvantage on Stealth). The noble’s son (of course) shouts out “DAD! They’re rebels!”

Marcus nudges his horse into the clearing, slowly walking forward with his weapon hand empty. Carmina sits as well, hands visible, not making any hostile gestures. Colin takes two trots forward and says “that was a clean shot young man; we hated to interrupt you.” A winning smile and a Persuasion of 9. Alas.

A knight on horseback challenges us: “Who are you and what are you doing on my land?!”

Colin notes that we were bypassing a camp of armed men, who looked like they were serious warriors, and we weren’t looking for serious war. Carmina and Marcus both roll 21 and 23. May the blessings of Veritas be upon you, say we, and actually cast Bless. We once again part amicably.

We camp for the night, and head on the next day, reaching Ulfgard. We don’t see an armed encampment, but we do see a half-dozen yeomen patrolling the town. We decide to eat, catch some rumors, and depart town without having to break any heads.

“You guys seem to worry a lot about getting into fights. Is this a thing with you?”
“The last noble we met? That was the first one that didn’t attack us on sight.”

We drop in to The Stumbling Orc, for a meal. There’s a lot of noise about the fall of Tain (correct) to Dracolindes (no). The Sheriff of the Northern Marches has called a general muster in a week’s time, and they’re planning on marching to retake Tain. We neither confirm nor deny how Tain fell, which is probably smart.

We continue on, and get halfway to the Rorystone Road. Off to the south in the woods, we hear 2-4 men approaching the road from 100-200yards away. They appear to be a bunch of foresters seeking poachers. No worries; they miss us completely, explaining the local poaching problem rather well.

We make camp, munching on trail rations; we hear some soft clanking, and we hear “don’t be disturbed, may I approach your camp?”

Marcus calls light. The guy freaks out. He’s a peddler with a cart. “Spare me, spare me! Please, I give my donations to, um, Mitra! Spare me!”

“I thought I had happened upon a divine visitation. I get those, you know. I’m heading to Axeguard as part of my rounds. My name is Thomas. Thomas the peddler.”

The Vile Lords are rebelling against the one true king, Dracolindes! The City-State is under control of the Evil Duke Devolic!

He froths at the mouth a bit. Marcus subtly casts Detect Evil and Zone of Truth. The guy has a few screws loose. A green doll catches my eye.

It’s a rag doll, dressed in green clothes . . . looking like scales. “This is interesting craftsmanship for a child’s doll.”

He found it by the road by Trollslore. Hmmm. Carmina uses his Mend cantrip to fix all the broken stuff.

“Ah! I know the perfect thing you’d never expect! The finest rock candy in all of the North!”

He’s right. It tastes of blueberry and a lot of sugar. Two silvers and it’s ours.

“Could I camp over here?” He wheels his cart over to an alcove.

Carmina takes first watch, Marcus has nightwatch. Thomas heads off to Axeguard, we head off to the Rorystone road.

This is a paved, roman-style road heading north.

The Hungry Spoon Tavern is the Inn we arrive at, shortly after we hit Trollslore. We find the spot where he described he found the doll. Lots of traffic. Lots of dwarves, maybe one in five people.
The big news is the fall of Tain; some dirty looks from some tavern patrons, quelled by an equally dirty look from the innkeeper.

“Sorry, ma’am. The Sheriff of the North has all he can do to keep the peace, what with the rebellion and all.”

We travel fast on the road, and reach Bryny. We discuss whether to go subtle, and decide to wander in like Tony Stark says: “You’re tiptoeing, big man. You need to strut.”

Bymy is a southern most hold of the Thunderhold and appears to be comprised largely of dwarves with a collection of humans and other races. Other than the keep, there is a Hall of The High Lord of the Forest, a couple of taverns The Standing Bear and the Amber Inn. The Standing Bear is a reputable establishment with fine food and drink, cheerful patronage. About the only thing that could be said negatively would be that the Prices are Large and the Rooms of Small. The Amber Inn is more of a local hangout, with a bar maiden of good cheer and exceptional service.

The dwarves at the gate ask if we want directions to the High Lord’s Temple, or the lord of the castle. The lord is a Dwarf, with two others and a human, talking about something. He sees us. “I am Lord Hazmin, how can I be of service to a servant of the High Lord?”

We tell him we’re merely paying our respects, and will kindly accept his invitation to lunch after Marcus pays his own respects to the High Lord at the temple.

Colin goes off to try and get some information about Orsal, who was the person that Maud, our quarry, was dropped off with. The bad guy. He who we must perforate. Etc.

Carmina and I hang out at the temple for a bit, praying to our respective deities in the Santuary: Veritas and the Dwarven version of Mitra.

As I pray, I feel a presence beside me, and see a priest of the High Lord next to me. “How goes the quest,” he asks. I feel the solidity of the mountains from him.

Marcus tells of tumult and distraction, of a quest delayed by distraction, but now back on the trail. Pan Calderax has been a blight on the land, but we are on the pathway to disrupting his plans.

Carmina is interrupted by an awkard dwarf with a clatter. There’s a lot of vague dialog, and I’m absolutely convinced that “Stubby” is Mitra in disguise. “It’s a good thing you’re here fighting Pan Calderax, I think.”

Uh, huh.

The bard at the inn looks around for Orsal, and is rapidly offered a job by Captain Parvas as a caravan guard. Because he looks like he can handle himself. And Master Orsal could use some guards. He’s running a shipment of grain down there, as well as some weapons-grade steel. The pay is 30 pieces of silver.

That’s just awesome.

The caravan will be shipping out in a few days, headed down the Rorystone.

Colin goes back to the food and ale. Having been offered a job, he tries to find out more about it, Orsal (a bit of a temper vs. ‘slackers’), and whatnot. But he’s a local merchant, has a building here in town, about halfway between the better inn and the temple. (I on the map).

Colin walks past Orsal’s place, and oddly enough it looks oddly exactly like Herone’s place. “A very similar bulding plan,” the GM notes wryly.

As Marcus is done meditating and praying, Master Varas, the elder of the hall of the High Lord.

Ummm . . . I thought I was just talking to the Elder.

Oh, hell. Looks like we both may have had divine nudges.

We go aside. And tell the Elder what’s going on. Herone. Orsal. Maud. Mori. Pan Calderax.

There are those without honor among both humans and dwarves, and Orsal seems to have a lower reputation. If there’s something you need, go to the Amber Inn, and Parvas (captain to Orsal) will get it for you.

Lord Harzin has nothing to bring before the King for justice.

We discuss a bit more, and decide the next step is to talk to Lord Harzin.

***

We end there. A rough session at the beginning, but it led to some excellent roleplaying. Not a sword was swung, but good fun was had, and the bard was an interesting addition, and a good fit for this side-quest.

+Rob Conley +Joshua Macy +Tim Shorts +Ken H +Rhandom A +Daniel McEntee +Chris C.

The game was slow today to get responses, and it wound up being just two players. That wasn’t enough, so we decided to call it.

But not before Rob told me that Leshar and probably our halfling, or maybe Keyar, had snuck into the ruins of Caer Tain and looted a suit of +2 Plate Armor – which needs 500sp worth of work with straps and buckles, but is otherwise perfectly sound.

Boom. Done. So now Marcus is AC 22, after five minutes of play.