This session happened several months ago; a late write-up.
The Fearless Rat Catchers met an untimely end in the hills and woods of the Southeast, but Ricardo the Thief was not on that fateful adventure. So when the others (or most of the others) perished, he shouldered his pack and went to the mysterious mountains of the Northeast, following a call for adventurers from the classic plot device of “an old friend”.
The thief Mariana assembled a party made up of
- Frederich the Magic User, with Level 2 the most high-ranking party member,
- Bronislav the Fighter,
- and Aleksandru the Cleric.
She had news of treasure hidden in some ruins of a stronghold called Cascaton that had fallen into disrepair after it had been abandoned. The place was supposedly marked by its only remaining lookout tower. If the story was to be trusted, the tip of that tower peeked out of a patch of forest in a valley, “easy to see”, as the fama would have it. Just straight 24 miles west from here.
Tower or not, we learned that it was a journey of two to three days to get to that area, and we were not at all sure how easily this tower was going to be to find. Luckily, the news came from a crippled veteran adventurer called Morik who had seen the place with his own two eyes.
So once we had all the equipment we needed or felt to need, we went and asked him to lead us.
Morik did not really want to. He had lost too many friends and an arm, so he felt that sitting here telling stories by the fireplace was hard to top. But the adventurers begged him for his help, they promised to protect him and that he would not be required to go underground with them, and he would get half a share for no risk, no risk at all! What if something attacks me, he asked. “Why, we will protect you with our lives!” promised the adventurers.
Finally the veteran relented. “Good, good, I will come and show you the way.”
And so, early next morning, the little expedition set out.
Which was very good, because I am willing to bet that without Morik we would have lost the way, gone in circles or just passed by the place.
Night time thriller
As it stood we travelled a whole day westward and then set up camp in a small wood. During the night, the guard heard something and woke up two others — including Ricardo. We went looking and found a wounded deer, dying. Ricardo assumed some animal predator, and indeed, there were sounds from two directions and we espied a tree-climbing giant lizard between us and the camp … or rather, we were between that lizard and its prey.
This was quite the thriller, because any false move could trigger a fight that would likely kill at least one, more likely several or our intrepid adventurers.
Rather than fight it, Ricardo suggested we slowly and carefully move out sideways, allowing the lizard easy access to the already wounded deer and making it clear that we were not contenders for this meat. He banked on the simple fact that the deer was already wounded and dying, and we were an unknown factor. If the creature was smart it would let us move away and everyone would be happy (except the deer). The advantage of letting us go would be unimpeded access to the prey. Would the lizard be smart enough to see that?
It actually worked. The creature let us walk, its two friends somewhere in the bushes behind us followed the example of lizard one, and we returned to the camp in a relatively wide circle. Once there we quickly woke everyone up and moved our whole campsite farther away from the kill.
We could hear the breaking of bones from a safe distance downwind.
The next day Morik led us the rest of the way to the Caverns of Cascaton. True enough, the tower was peeking out of the foliage of a little patch of wood. If we would have found that without help was anyone’s guess. Half a share well-spent, I say.
Morik waited outside. We went underground quite slowly and checked every step of the way for dangers, especially because the whole wall was covered in weird vines. There was also a portcullis propped up on some stones, a clear sign of the group that was here before us … Morik’s group. We got to that point and a bit beyond that, found a few coins and a good amount of silver.
But then the stress and fear overcame us: The session time ran out, and by the rules of the group that meant we had to leave the adventure site. So our morale broke, we took what we had found and our pitiful little map … pitiful, because we had only expanded the already explored area by a handful of paces.
At least we had found treasure! All good.
We travelled back home, and on the second day ran into a sandstorm. With visibility reduced greatly, we heard thundering sounds as if a great herd was stampeding towards us.
Ricardo yelled for everyone to huddle together. He assumed that if we would all stand separately we would be trampled into the mud. But if we made a big enough pile of bodies at one spot, whatever was coming might recognize us as an obstacle and just veer to the side.
The GM asked the dice, in the case a reaction roll, how this would shake out. And it worked: A huge herd of bisons broke out of the dust storm and opened up to stream past our group.
Safe and sound we returned home and shared our loot. Not a lot of loot, mind you. Just a bit, just above 30 gold each. Enough to call the mission a small success, but not enough to shake the world or even write home about.
Low Level, Low Cost, Low Life
Still Level 1, poor Ricardo, and that as a fast-levelling thief. It has to be said, our shaky morale slows us down.
Well… maybe some other day.
Picture by verdian chua auf Unsplash