Monday, May 3, 2010

Dwimmermount, Session 38

Having fled from the druidic temple, the characters found themselves in an unknown stretch of wilderness which they believed was somewhere to the southwest of the city-state of Adamas. Before they left, Dordagdonar had surveyed the surrounding countryside from atop the spire of the temple, which I ruled enabled him to see 15 miles (or three hexes) in all directions. This was the starting point for their travels. In the west, there was evidence of a river flowing roughly to the northeast. Since Adamas is situated on a river and was located in that general direction, they decided to move toward it, intending to use it as a guide for their journey. Dordagdonar also noticed what appeared to be ruins in the general vicinity of the river, which also merited investigation.

As they got closer to the ruins, the party detected signs of previous movement through the area -- tracks, felled trees, etc. -- which Dordagdonar assumed meant human beings, as, in his opinion, elves leave not noticeable tracks and humanoid monsters are even more destructive to the forests. He and Gaztea, employing rings of invisibility, scouted ahead to test his theory, which proved to be correct. Some distance ahead they came across a four male humans where a mishmash of gear and weapons. Three of them were engaged in drinking and conversation, mostly about how they hated the forest and wish they could move on, while the fourth was keeping a lookout.

Returning to the rest of the party, the consensus was that Gaztea and Dordagdonar had come across outriders of a bandit encampment. As the party was still low on spells after not having rested in over 24 hours, they broke camp in a hollow away from the outriders and established watches. Other than ordinary forest sights and sounds, nothing unusual happened during the watches. Before moving on, though, the characters had to decide what to do with Tzoth, the Termaxian magic-user Dordagdonar charmed in Dwimmermount. Fearing he'd break the enchantment and attempt to harm them, Brother Candor suggested leaving him behind, blindfolded and tied to a tree. Dordagdonar proposed killing him, but the other demurred. This baffled the elf, who felt leaving Tzoth alive was potentially dangerous. However, Brother Candor won out and they abandoned their prisoner rather than killing him.

Making their way toward the river, the characters encountered a troop of carnivorous apes, who ambushed them near its banks. Though tougher opponents than expected, they proved no match for the party, who slew or incapacitated most of them, causing the others to break morale and flee into the forest. The PCs then marches alongside the river, hoping to see evidence of where they might be in relation to Adamas. After some time, they saw that the waters teemed with giant catfish about the size of a Man (or larger) and suspected that there might be worse denizens within. This ended all discussion of building a raft or canoe, despite Dordagdonar's insistence that he was very "woodcrafty" and more than up to the job.

After several more uneventful days of travel, shortly before their rations would run out (precipitating the necessity for eating the "ape jerky" they'd made days before), the party caught sight of a riverboat and managed to secure passage on board. The captain explained that they were still several days southwest of Adamas but that Yethlyreom was not far away. They could, if they wished, stay in the city of the necromancers for a short time and hire a boat to take them back to Adamas from there. As it turns out, no one dared enter Yethlyreom's gray walls, preferring instead to rest in the outlying foreign quarter, where the rules of the city did not apply. As you may recall, anyone who dies within the walls of Yethlyreom becomes property of the necromancers, to be raised as an undead minion to serve the city. Worrying that this law might somehow come into effect, the party stayed outside rather than risk it. Furthermore, clerics are poorly received in Yethlyreom and no temples exist within its walls. Consequently, Brother Candor felt safer outside. The PCs did, however, catch sight of one of the fabled necromancers, with his black staff and broad-brimmed hat (looking, ironically, a bit like this image of Solomon Kane).

Back in Adamas, the party conferred with Morna of Tyche and Saidon of Typhon, informing them of their activities and alerting them to the existence of the druidic temple, about which Saidon seemed very much aware, although he provided no additional information to them about it. They then made the three-day journey to Muntburg, with the goal of re-entering Dwimmermount and reclaiming the body of Cormac, which they'd left behind before they teleported across the countryside. Brother Candor was quite insistent that Cormac's remains not be left within Dwimmermount and given a proper burial. This they did before settling down to some much-needed rest in preparation for the next phase of their explorations.

All in all, a very good session, albeit one without much combat or "action." In the end, I winged a great deal of it, using a variety of random resources to stitch together the party's journey through the wilderness. It all worked surprisingly well. The only thing I'd really planned beforehand (aside from the map, which I found myself modifying on the fly based on what made sense) was the bandit encampment. Naturally, the players had their characters totally avoid it, thus depriving themselves a chance to interact with one of my trademark eccentric NPCs (and potentially become immersed in yet more schemes). But those are the breaks in sandbox games; as a referee, you just have to accept that many of the things you create won't ever see the light of day or, if they do, they won't do so as you'd expected they would. Fortunately, I like surprises and have discovered that the best aspects of this campaign are those that arose through happenstance rather than planning. I see no reason to change that now.


  1. Rats. I would have liked to see them enter Yethlyreom, if only to see how you'd present your own version of Zul-Bha-Sair.

  2. I'm curious about the "encounter" with the necromancer. How did you handle it? Was it simply, "You see a figure with a black staff and a broad-brimmed hat" or was there more to it?

    What I'm getting at is that you seem to drop a lot of hints/hooks into the game, and I'm wondering what your process is for this.

  3. Nice recap. It's good to have a session where things meander along. Usually nuggets that flow by can be used again in the future as plot or encounters.

  4. I found it quite funny that the apes attacked the party in the hopes of making a meal out of them ended up becoming just that--rations. LoL!

  5. Entertaining as always. And now that you have established that there are bandits operating near the druidic temple, if the players return there, they may have other opportunities to interact with them. I have often found that preparations I make as GM do pay off, just not when I expected them to.

    And I cannot resist my geekish need to correct things: "...they broke camp in a hollow..." - I propose you meant "...made camp..." :)

  6. Paul,

    The necromancer encounter went something like this:

    Player: I'll bet the necromancers get carried around on palanquins and stuff, huh?

    Me: No, actually, they're strangely down to earth guys, who mostly walk everywhere. In fact, you see one of them now -- he's got a big, broad-brimmed hat, and a long coat, and a black staff.

    And that was about the size of it. The characters weren't interested in entering the city, so they only saw the necromancer from a distance, but, now that they have, they'll recognize one if they ever see one again, perhaps visiting Adamas ...

  7. Rafial,

    Can you tell that I am not much of an outdoorsman in real life? :)

  8. James,
    A reading pleasure as always. Thanks for the time & effort.

  9. That's funny, I never considered using the cool old school beasties Carniverous Apes anywhere but in a jungle setting (of which there are none in the main part of my game world - usually a long sea journey away).

    TWO rings of inviso? As Tracy Morgan might say "Daaaaammmmnnnnn....wotupwitdat?"

    James, you gotta be feeling guilty about that. Only days ago you posted about magic items needing to be unique. Two inviso rings. I think I have one come along in my game world about every 9-12 years...

  10. You know, there's a lot of diseases that humans can catch from eating primates.

    I hate to think what you'd catch from eating magical mutant carnivorous primates....

    (Hope they cured that jerky well.)

  11. I you think about it it's almost second generation cannibalism ( apeman eats human, then humans eats apeman)

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  13. Brunomac,

    Don't forget about those tasty little tidbits in the description of Hobgoblins in the MM:

    If the lair is underground, there is a 60% chance that there will be from 2-12 carnivorous apes as guards.

    Most hobgoblins speak goblin, orcish and the rudimentary tongue of carnivorous apes...

    Where there be hobgoblins, there be carnivorous apes and very possibly vice versa...

  14. Carnivorous Ape
    Habitat: Anywhere you could find a Conan

  15. FrDave: Jeez, don't remember seeing that. Nice. I'm going to have to rethink things the next time I have a goblin lair encounter!

  16. I was a little disappointed that the journey back to Adamas wasn't a little longer and arduous. It seemed to me that they were teleported and then back in Adamas that afternoon.

    Great write up though.

  17. I was a little disappointed that the journey back to Adamas wasn't a little longer and arduous. It seemed to me that they were teleported and then back in Adamas that afternoon.

    I was about six days travel from the druidic temple to Yethlyreom FWIW. Since the players were clearly intent on heading back to civilization, I didn't lengthen the journey any more than necessary. If they'd been keen to keep wandering around the wilderness, I'd have found ways to keep them out there for several sessions.

  18. That party I darn lucky to get back to civilization in six days without major complications!
    When I'm playing...I FEAR the wilderness...Owlbear Storms...Angry Rhinos...Elephants...10d10 Orcs...

  19. That party I darn lucky to get back to civilization in six days without major complications!

    As I said, I got the sense that the players weren't really into the whole wilderness exploration thing, so I didn't press the issue. As it was, it served a useful purpose of revealing some areas beyond those they've visited to date, so I won't complain.