Saturday, July 19, 2014

WH1 Trouble on the Great River

Today we started our regular D&D 5e campaign in my home brew campaign setting. We are usually playing on Saturdays, and the players are drawn from a pool. Usually, the first four players that have time do get to play in a session. The pool contains about a dozen players, some have more time on their hands than others, so they and their player characters will be appearing more often. The actual play posts will appear at the date of the game session. That way it's easier for me to track things.

Note: This session was played using D&D Basic and monsters from The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

Cast of Characters:

  • Grandor, male dwarf cleric (acolyte)
  • Khelben, male human wizard (soldier)
  • Milo, male halfling rogue (spy)
  • Valrian Liadon, male wood elf fighter (spy)

Play is taking place in the Weathered Heath, a border region of the kingdom of Thoran. The kingdom is ruled by a half-elven nobility that was founded over 1,200 years ago by the marriage between a human tribal chief and the elven queen who sought to preserve the elven heritage beyond the time of elves on the continent. Her court followed her into the human lands where she stayed for the better part of a century to oversee the establishment of a strong dynasty. Her heirs still rule the land. She and her court returned to elven woods, where she still rules today.

The past decade has been troublesome for the kingdom. In the south, a new aggressive power has arisen. A theocracy based on the lawful teachings of the chief deity Celos. In Walyra, law is emphasized above good, and the theocracy is aggressively acquiring territory. A standing army of Paladins turns them into a formidable opponent. Thoran has lost it's southern most duchy to the theocracy in a bitterly fought war five years ago. Tensions remain high and the half-elven kingdom is wary about renewed aggression.

Khelben, a captain in the Order of the Dragon, is sent by his superiors on a mission to spy on Walyra. He is placed in command of Milo and Valrian, two spies who are to insinuate themselves into the Walyran border town of Karollyn. In order to appear inconspicuous, they travel with a barge of lightfoot halflings from the northern river port of Aescford to their destination along the Njangdal river. Apart from them, a dancing devil (a species of Tieflings who can only procreate with human females) called Malzurban and his two concubine-slaves travel with the halflings, as well as a dwarven cleric of Nangaloss called Grandor. Nangaloss is a northern deity of craftsmanship, smithing, dwarves and dragons. He is brother to the two moon gods Elissar and Nitarro. Grandor is telling legends of his god to the halfling children during the day.

At nightfall, the barge stops and a camp is raised on the Thoran bank of the Njangdal. The halflings start dancing and celebrating. Milo joins in the celebration, when a comely halfling lass asks him to dance with her. Khelben keeps to himself, Grandor is eventually persuaded to dance, and Valrian keeps watch above the valley. That was a good idea as it turns out. A group of goblins led by hobgoblins attacks the barge folk. The heroes are victorious in repelling them, but a some halflings are kidnapped.

Khelben promises to free them, and Milo, Valrian and Grandor tag along. After a short rest, they pursue the goblins across the Weathered Heath until they arrive at a small cave. The goblins enter the cave and shortly thereafter leave without the captives. Our heroes stay behind and investigate the cave. It turns out that it is guarded by giant spiders. But apparently, they let the goblins pass. The heroes attack the spiders and in harrowed battle enter the cave. There, they discover that the captives have been placed on altar dedicated to the dark goddess Sardyna. The eight-armed goddess is a deity of death and disease, more feared than worshipped, except by the most dark-hearted folk.

The pitched battle with the giant spiders nearly turns out to be a complete disaster. First, Milo daringly attacks a spider and injures her gravely. Valrian is knocked unconscious (the player had to leave early). Then Grandor goes down and Milo is killed. Captain Khelben saves the day. The wizard lures the surviving spider out into the open and then destroys her with fire. He saves the halflings who help him to return the unconscious Grandor and the dead Milo to the barge. Valrian is gone, when Khelben returns to the cave.

Milo is given a touching funeral on the Njangdal in the style of his people. His body is placed on a small raft with twigs and tinder. Then pushed out on the river while the halflings shoot burning arrows at the craft.

The halflings travel onwards. Khelben's mission is basically ruined as one of his spies is dead and the other has vanished. Therefore he decides to travel back to headquarters to get new orders. Grandor decides to join him. They do not disembark at Karollyn, but instead go on to the ducal capital of Mirena.

But someone does disembark at Karollyn: the dancing devil Malzurban and his two concubine-slaves. After they are gone, the halfling lass that Milo was dancing and flirting with, goes to Khelben and reveals that she stole a letter from Malzurban written in dwarvish script. Grandor cannot read it, so it seems to be some other language that is using dwarvish script. Khelben decides to show that letter to his superiors.

To be continued...

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