The campaign started with the party being filled in on their recent happenings. They had been contracted by a longtime employer named Vespian the Black to deliver a package to the port city of Bowerstone. The job paid not a great deal (500gp) but the party was looking to relocate after burning some bridges in the area that they had been operating in as of late. Greedy mercenary types tend to do that. The party was aboard a merchant ship called the Holy Diver, captained by Thelonius Seasworn, and as they approached the city I gave them some background on the region.
Glee has some ranks in Knowledge (Local) and it has been established that he and Romulus have done some traveling in their careers as mercenaries, so he was the vehicle through which I imparted some background on Bowerstone and the entire island. They knew that the island had been ruled by the same ruling family for some time, the DuChamps. It was also a region that has a lot of racial diversity, just about all of the major humanoids are represented. It was also established that at some point in the past orcs were a slave class, though now many have been integrated into the mainstream. The party is aware that there are two other major cities on the island; Ocrist and Thundra. Ocrist has served as the seat of power for the DuChamps for quite some time. Glee and Romulus had gotten mixed up in their preferred line of work some time ago, but they had no specific contacts or allies in the area.
Some of the notable geographical features also became obvious to the PC’s as the boat entered into the bay in which Bowerstone was. The island was ringed by mountains, making Bowerstone one of the few places that a port could be established on the entire island. They also passed a jutting peninsula of fiery volcanic activity that occupied part of the northwest area of the island.
As the boat pulled into the port they were flanked by two sleek sailing vessels piloted by the local guards. Captain Miles boarded the boat and began to inspect the cargo and passengers, eventually questioning the PC’s. He wanted names and reasons for visiting Bowerstone. Immediately Romulus was asking me how many guards were around and how well armed they were, which I was not at all surprised at. The first interaction they have as their characters and they are already looking to slaughter everyone that they can. Excellent. The more social ones, Lela and Henri, eventually smoothed things over but not before Miles promised to keep an eye on them. Mgabwe apparently greets people but shaking the rattle on the end of his scythe at them. I can’t imagine how that could possibly go wrong. Captain Miles is not well liked by the PC’s, so I’ll be sure to have him around.
After a little bit of asking around they were able to locate the opulent residence of Lord Montgomery Cliff, the man that they were to deliver the package to. Bowerstone has an unusually large contingent of wealthy nobles for an isolated island town. Many of them live in rich stone houses, one of which belongs to Cliff. Eventually they were let inside and brought to a very nicely decorated greeting room, Lord Monty entered shortly after they did. Of course the crew was attempting to size up everything in the place that was not nailed down, including the fancy jewelry worn by Lord Monty. Unfazed by their obvious leering, he excitedly opened the box they had delivered and produced a wicked looking dagger that was the parcel the PC’s had delivered. He informed the PC’s that the dagger was for home protection because the region had become somewhat unstable. He filled them in. The Duke had died within the last year, passing the rulership down the familial line to his next of kin, however a faction in the south refused to recognize this and the entire island had been thrown into some sort of war. The upstarts, the Coleridge Clan, have been battling the DuChamps ever since. Though strangely Bowerstone has been able to maintain neutrality during the event.
Obviously, this party gives off a certain vibe which the nobleman was aware of. He inquired if they were interested in a job, one which would involve killing and perhaps some other unsavory actions. He would not give them any details until they accepted, other than to say that he would pay them 1200gp. After a brief discussion and some party bickering they agreed. He told them that during a recent battle between the two warring factions a captain on the Coleridge side was taken hostage and brought to a prison in the area called The Cage. Afraid that he would give up some valuable information the Coleridge Clan wanted him dead. The PC’s were to infiltrate this prison, locate the imprisoned Captain Arnold, kill him, and bring back proof of his death to Monty. I was a little surprised to see that no one in the party really tried to bargain for a better monetary reward for the job, they seemed content to take the money that was offered. Perhaps it is the killing that really motivates them.
I could tell by this point that the group definitely wanted to get into combat and try out their new characters, so I wasn’t sure if they would head out right away for The Cage (which they had a general idea of the location of) or if they would try to gether some intel and perhaps see what the town had to offer. They chose the latter and headed into Bowerstone to check out what was happening. The first stop was The Lighthouse, which was one of the finest inns in the entire town. It has sort of a nautical theme and is known for it’s fresh seafood and fine wine selection. At midday the place was not very crowded but they went in, had a meal, asked some questions. In one of my favorite interactions of the session Henri ordered the finest bottle of wine that the place had. It was brought to him and he found out, after drinking some, that it cost almost 500gp (the party did not have a ton of cash, though they could afford that. However the looks that he got from everyone else when the wine arrived seemed to make him nervous). He had no interest in paying so he spit it out, said it tasted like it had gone bad, and Intimidated (got around a 25) the young waitress into taking the bottle back. Good roleplaying from Henri. The talented Lela decide to impress the people in The Lighthouse by whistling and she did so quite well (she has a +22 in Perform Whistle) in hopes of getting a gig at the place. The waitress told her that for the next several nights the stage was going to be occupied by The Dockside Boys, a popular do-wop group led by The Swooner Simon Schooner. She blushed when she said his name. However, she did say that the owner Tuck was always interested in new acts so she should check back with him at some point.
The next place on their agenda was the Bandit Mask, a somewhat sloppier and lower class establishment on the other side of town. It was early evening by the time they arrived and the place was starting to fill up with laborers looking to drink away the rest of their day. The staff of the bar all wear Zorro style masks, which none of them seem too happy about. At this point Lela decided to use her impressive Gather Information skills to find out about the area in general and any information that she could about the Cage. She wound up with a 38 (!) so I wanted to reward her with some good stuff. They wound up talking to a local named Phineas Portland who, for a couple of drinks, was happy to share what he knew with such a pretty lady. He told them that the reason that Bowerstone has managed to stay out of the current war was because the mayor, Lazarus Longbeard, was an old wizard and sort of kept the area safe. On a similar note Portland also said that Bowerstone was almost like a retirement home for former adventurers. The way he looked at it was that all these adventurer types probably make a lot of enemeies over the course of their lives and when it is time to settle down it’s hard for them to do so, since so many people are probably looking for them. In Bowerstone they all sort of look after each other, which also explains why there does not seem to be much of a police presence in the town. As far as the prison was concerned they found out that it has a very tough reputation, apparently no one who enters into it ever comes out. It is located to the north of Bowerstone, deep in the mountains. There is also a rumor that the natives of the mountains entered into a pact with the DuChamps many years ago. No one knows what the natives got, but they now guard the area against all intruders. Again, Lela impressed the patrons of the bar with her whistling and this time she also got herself a job in one weeks time performing on the bar soaked stage of the Bandit Mask.
At this point they decided to head out and begin their journey to The Cage, which they had heard would take about two days, maybe a bit longer. They followed the main road east out of town, but quickly broke from it for the sake of stealth and cover. Al’landia led the way, scouting ahead and finding paths for them to travel on. While doing so she heard some voices in the distance and some investigation showed several camp fires with armed figures hanging around. The party wasted no time in slaughtering the soldiers they had found. Using stealth, invisibility, and ranged attacks they shredded a group of seven soldiers in two rounds, leaving a pile of carnage in their wake. Mgabwe was impressive with his damage dealing capability, though he failed to confirm a critical he expressed his potential to deal over a 100 damage with a single melee attack. They searched the camp and found little of value, though Glee did recognize the crossed roses on the shield of one of them as the symbol of the DuChamp family. Tracks were found heading north, which was the direction the party was going. It was late so they decided to make camp in the area. Before doing so Henri cast Fly on himself and tried to scout out the region, he saw little but found that in several miles the terrain shifted from forest to plains, with the mountains rising up beyond.
On their feet the next day they entered onto the plains and came across a recent battlefield. The groans of the dying and the stench of death filled the air as they approached. Wandering the field was a gaunt faced old man accompanied by two armed warrior types. The two groups spotted one another and conversed (after numerous attempts by Romulus to sneak up on the old man, all unsuccessful due to the complete lack of cover), the man introduced himself as Ichabod, a servant of the Scarlet Lady and reveler in death. During the conversation he frequently paused and listened, asking the PC’s if they heard it too? The whisper of death? He explained that the lady told him who was to live and who was to die, following her orders he has his men end the life of some of the soldiers, others were allowed to live. He also said that the smell of death was heavy with both Glee and Mgabwe, which delighted him. Eventually they parted ways with the old man, though he assured them that they would cross paths agin.
As they continued to move north the foothills gave way to mountains and the party found themselves being funneled into a valley that cut through the mountains. They split into two goups; Mgabwe, Romulus, and Al’landia scouted ahead while Lela, Glee, and Henri hung about 100 feet behind. A trap was laying in wait for them which they had every opportunity to sniff out, however no one in the front group got higher than a 19 on a Spot check and they walked right into it. Four archers emerged from rocky ledges along the cliff face and began pelting the front three with arrows. The archers were female humanoids in hooded cloaks, whatever flesh was visible was wrapped in bandages. During the character creation process it jumped out at me that ranged combat was probably going to not be strength for this group so I was curious to see what they were going to do when they couldn’t just sneak up on or charge their opponent. The archers got a surprise round and then initiative and did a pretty good job of making the PC’s into pin cushions. Al’landia took some damage and fled to the back, Romulus went into negative hit points by the second round, and Mgabwe tried to climb up to the archers but was unable to get there (which may have worked in his benefit). The crew in the back resorted to ranged combat and mainly due to the lightning bolts of Henri were able to take out the archers. When one was killed the body fell from the cliff and landed in the valley, revealing that they were medusa (with levels of Ranger, though that was not so obvious from their appearance). This was not that hard of an encounter, yet the PC’s got cut up pretty good. Why? Well, it seems like they still need to learn what they are capable of, and the poor Spot rolls did not help. One in particular who could have done much better was Lela. As a bard she should really be supporting her allies in combat, yet she reached for her bow right away. Inspire Courage would have been a good option, but even better would have been to move up and use her Ironskin Chant to give damage reduction to Mgabwe or Romulus. It would have been extra useful in this case because the damage was coming as a result of quantity (each archer was good for three shots a rounds) and it could have kept Romulus fighting for another two rounds or so. Al’landia was smart to get out of there, considering how bad the party is at healing it was in her best interest to not get into negatives. After the battle they healed up a little and looked around. The medusa did not have much other than their bows, however there did appear to be cave openings behind them.
All together I thought it went very well for the first adventure in a campaign. Everyone sort of jumped right into their characters in the role playing sense, I got the impression that these characters had been around for a while and sort of knew who they were. It was good. The two fight encounters were sort of designed for me to test what they were capable of, and in that sense I think they were very helpful for me. I’m really looking forward to next week.