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Aphonion Tales: Adventures in the Spice Lands, a tween and teen D&D game (unedited notes, posts Tuesdays, most recent 5/4)

CPaladin

Explorer
The DM who runs the game from the Aphonion Tales story hour is now running games for two groups of kids. I take notes for the groups, and later on I started playing a sort of party NPC with each of them as well. This group is a group of teens and tweens. I'm going to post the notes here as a storyhour of sorts--it's not fully written out, but it should let people follow the story of what's going on with their adventures. All of these games are set in the same world, but they're set in different parts of the world, with only occasional overlaps in plot lines. Because this is a children's game, the stories omit some of the more adult elements that come up in the main Aphonion Tales game. The posts here will be every Tuesday.

Session 1 (3/28/20)

28 Skard, Year of the Wyvern
This was mostly an organizational session.

The city of Cese Mai is the principal city in an area known as the Spice Lands. The Spice Lands are not politically unified, with a variety of petty city-states, independent noble holdings, and minor realms. Shortly before this game began, a major war wracked the whole of the Spice Lands. Cese Mai did not fall, but many of the smaller holdings did; every military force in the Spice Lands took substantial casualties; and much of the invading army disintegrated into banditry and raiding once it was defeated. Our group began in Cese Mai, looking for adventure. Noah is a half-orc barbarian, with damaged memories--he knows he was once part of a noble family, but can't remember anything about his family or even where his homeland is, knowing only that he had a mentor, the man with wolf eyes, and that the wizards who stole his memories had the mark of a raven on them. Atla Rein and Iados Rein are half-brothers--one an aasimar cleric, the other a tiefling rogue. Moonlit Snow is a rakasta druid, while Amber is a rakasta sorceress--many rakasta families live in the Spice Lands. Finally, Elyn is a wood elf ranger with a ferret animal companion named Mitsuke.

Several criers announce opportunities for work. There are merchant caravans in need of guards; the Church of Paranswarm, Lord of Orderly Darkness, wants brave investigators; and the Plar (lord) of Cese Mai needs adventurers to deal with banditry in the area surrounding the city. The adventurers think fighting bandits sounds the most interesting, and they sign up. They head out on patrol, looking for bands of bandits, and stop at a manor for the night.

Session 2 (4/5/20)

29 Skard

They stay the night at a manor house where there are some people who are glad to see the PCs and glad to host them for the night. They’ve been increasingly worried about some of the folk poking around the borders. It’s not a huge plantation—a couple acres of cinnamon trees, and a couple more of cinnamon that’s still growing. The manor is not really fortified—it has some defensibility, but no serious fortifications.

Noah is suspicious, and starts organizing watches overnight.

Some of the residents fought in the war, but they’re mostly regretful about how the war went.

The first watch passes peacefully. Second watch, they see lanterns or something similar quite a ways away. They don’t come near enough to see distinctly—they don’t come into the real property, but stay around the boundaries.

Iados, on 3rd watch, sees some figures approaching into the property, and angling through the cinnamon tree orchard, as if to reach the back of the house.

Some of the PCs start sneaking out to meet them.

Noah bluffs them, pretending to also be a survivor of the army.
They identify themselves as remnants of the 4th Hanalian Regular Infantry division.
Noah bluffs back with a made up unit affiliation.

There are three of them, scouting for a larger group of 20.

Elyn demands that they surrender, and they begin retreating to camp, with Elyn’s ferret following them.

Amber uses disguise self to infiltrate them. He claims to have been with the Seventh. They talk about how the Seventh was hurt really hard by the dragon—who knew there would be a dragon down here?

There’s a very hard looking woman in charge. Captain. I think the Devry’s plantation is not worth trying.

The Captain identifies herself as being from the 3rd Hanalian.

Amber says she was with the 7th.

Ah, you were the group that ended up tangled up with the dragon. Nobody had that in their order of battle. Nobody!

There’s about 20 of them.

Did any of your magi survive? Many, but some lost their lives when the dragon attacked.

Gather your gear. We have some extra bedrolls if you need one.

Amber slips away.
[cont'd]
 
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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 2 (cont'd)

Elyn’s ferret also finds the camp. It’s a fairly standard military camp, in the lee of a hill to conceal it. It’s a fairly standard lay-out. There are some wounded in the camp, so it’s more like 25 total, but no clerics, so the wounded are just recovering with field dressings. They don’t look hungry. But they’re well armed, well disciplined, may not actually have turned bandit so much as trying to make it home.

Noah enters openly. “I’m not here to cause trouble. I’m from another group of bandits.”

“We’re not bandits. We just want to get back to Hanal.”

“Regardless. I am not here to offer you help murdering the Devry. I’m here to offer you a couple good horses and protection to get to the north.”

“I think we might reach an agreement. We want to go home. You want us to avoid attacking anyone. You represent the city, don’t you?”

“I suppose the secret is out.”

Elyn deliberately gets herself captured. She looks around the camp for treasure or money, but none of them have very much.

The camp isn’t fortified. They have a pretty good sentry system.

Amber returns, and “takes charge” of Elyn as a prisoner, but also asks where the armory is. She gets a nicely made, masterwork, steel and iron longsword.

Noah agrees to get horses from Cese Mai. They go back to the city, get a cart and four (not very good) horses, and bring them back. It takes 2 days for the round trip.

Atla heals the infected wounded soldiers. The Captain is now in his debt, and will remember this because she’s honor-bound. Captain Theona Bildar.
[End Session 2]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 3 (4/19/20)

2 Tar-Skard

They travel northwest uneventfully for a day until they come upon a nutmeg plantation. The manor house appears to have been fired.

Noah hails the manor house and approaches. He trips over a body.

Elyn examines the body—he was a middle aged human, unarmed, shot in the back, and she can smell smoke.

Elyn fires into the brush, relying on her infravision to see the presumed raiders. She hits one with an arrow. She drops one. Three more orcs rise up and charge.

They kill two more, taking some wounds, and they take a prisoner. He resisted for a while, fearing his chieftain more than them, but finally surrendered. They implied that they were the lead element of a larger force.

“We not from this area. We came with the horde. When the great ones passed, we left.”

“Are you seeking to go to your homes, to the north?”

“No. Chief says there’s no going back. We must take territory here. To West, Seachen too strong. Beyond the great lake, the hand of the Archduchy can be seen. South, other territories.”

Noah lets him go, and he scampers off.

After he’s out of earshot, Noah suggests that Elyn track him.

Elyn sends Matsuki, her ferret, after him.

They loot the corpses. 2 sp, and a bottle of wine, 1 sp and 1 cp.

Noah burns the corpses.

They then camp in the ruined manor.

The night is completely peaceful.

The trees are fine, but the manor is burned and the outbuildings are basically wrecked.

Matsuki comes back the following night. Elyn gets an image of a large mostly cold camp—with hundreds-strong orcs in the camp. Might be overcounting, might be under. Approximately a day northwest.
[End Session 3]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 4 (5/3/20)
3 Tar-Skard

They plan a complex three-part raid on the orc encampment.

They spend most of a day traveling to the orc encampment. They enter an area that has been completely ravaged. The farms are burnt out. Elyn insists on looting the burned out Hanalian campaign vehicles. She gets some decent quality weapons and a large supply of arrows—9 dozen.

They reach the area of the camp at dusk.

They wait for the morning.

4 Tar-Skard:

Elyn and Moonlit Snow approach the camp. There are probably between 3 and 5 hundred orcs. They have very limited campfires under an overhang. They have tents. They have sentries. They are clearly the remnants of a bigger tribe, but still substantial.

Elyn sends Matsuki back in, and it sneaks around, until she finds a large tent at the back of the camp. She climbs a tree, and peaks into the tent. There are bigger figures in there—three of them. They’re easily ten feet tall. They are armed, and obviously free to go where they want in the camp.

Matsuki searches for loot—some have purses, but there’s no obvious treasury. Some of the orcs do have crossbows.

Noah challenges their chieftain to fight. The shaman asked if he was a servant of Morgrath, and he said he was. So the shaman gave him a powder to eat. He did, and then started convulsing.

Atla and Iados Rein start trying to loot interesting things. They find a tent with fetishes outside it, and look inside. They find some red powder, that’s clearly poison for humans. There are also several potions of cure light wounds, and some unidentifiable green liquid. Atla takes them all.

Iados travels to the back of the camp and looks into the big tent. He tries to sneak up, but he trips and sprawls directly into the tent in front of three ten-foot tall creatures. He springs up and starts running like mad to try to get away.

Moonlit Snow sneaks over to where Noah is convulsing.

Iados tosses ball bearings behind him. All three of the large figures collapse in a heap. Iados keeps running and takes cover.

Elyn gathered herbs to try to heal Noah. She gets a natural 20 on her survival check.

Noah throws up violently after Elyn stuffs herbs in his mouth. He throws up everything and becomes conscious. He’s at a temporary -1d6 strength, and gets a 1. He’ll regain that in one night’s rest.

Elyn yells really loudly, but not that loudly, for eating the powder stuff.

He responds, “look, I did what I thought we had to.”

“You could have died. Next time I’m not helping you.”

[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 4 cont'd]
Moonlit Snow sees various hunting parties returning with deer. The three tall things are agitated and moving around the camp. She sees the shaman moving around the camp.

Atla examines the red powder. It’s definitely dried blood. It has an overwhelming aura of evil and death. It is heavily aligned to Morgrath. The shaman also definitely had more of that. Atla isn’t sure what the green liquid is.

They come up with a plan: run horses into the camp to distract everyone, and then try to kidnap the shaman while people are distracted.

They drive three horses into the camp. At the same time as the horses go in, Elyn and Iados sneak in from the other direction. The horses become orc dinner.

Elyn and Iados sneak up on the shaman’s tent right as he’s emerging to see what’s going on. They threaten him, and escort him out of the camp at arrow point and knife point. They lead him out of the camp.

The shaman says, “You live!” at Noah.

Noah responds. “I do. I am impressed. You have created a powerful toxin.”

“Any priest of the Lord of Death can do the same.”

“I suppose. But I want to say something. I see no reason you have to die. My companions have made it very clear that they are enthusiastic to kill you.”

“I see that. And that they also do not serve the Lord of Death.”

“This is my question for you. I am willing to help you leave this place. But in return, I want information.”

“We have little left that we can call our information. I’m willing to bargain with what information we have.”

“I have been told you allied yourself with larger forces.”

“We were mercenaries. We were paid by servants of the Lord of Cats to fight here.”

“Lord of Cats?”

“That is what he called himself.”

“The Abomination of Shurr?”

“Yes. He paid well.”

“What I would be interested in asking you—it seems you are determined to create a new foundation here.”

“Sadly, yes.”

“I assume this is because of a lack of ability to return home.”

“We lost too many spears. As long as we are gone, the other tribes will not disturb our women and children. If we return, and they see how weak we have become—they will kill us, and kill our children, and take our women. So we must stay here, and call our women and children to join us here.”

“Say you succeed here. What do you think will come of it, when Cese Mai, the Seachen, one of the greater powers discover it?”

“The Seachen will care nothing of it. While I command and the chief commands in matters of war, our shes command in all other matters. And Cese Mai… if we do not encroach on their plantations, why should they care?”

“What I am willing to offer is this. Establish yourself as your own small entity. We will make sure no harm comes to you because of the blood that flows in your veins and the God that you worship. If you do this… there are other ways to achieve glory in the ways of Morgrath than other raids. Stay here, grow your forces, but attack no other lands.”

“We did not in the north. We should not have taken this mercenary work. But the army was so large, who could imagine that it would be defeated.”

Noah offers to not tell Cese Mai as long as they promise to not raid the local plantations.

Elyn says that if she sees signs of violence from them, she will kill them all.

The chieftain agrees. He also mentions that they have three orogs with them, remnants of the larger army, but that there are other orogs around. Without someone controlling them, the orogs are wild and dangerous. They release him, and Matsuki follows him back. He basically repeated that they’ve reached an agreement with the local people.

So now there is a small orc nation forming in this area. And they’re far enough away, that they probably won’t interact significantly with Cese Mai.
[End Session 4]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 5 (5/17/20)
6 Tar-Skard

They decide to head back to Cese Mai, returning along the way they came.

It should be fairly well cleared, but there are more bandits out there. The first day passes uneventfully, as does the night.

7 Tar-Skard
Also passes uneventfully at first. Later in the day, a small band of folks are heading along the road towards them.

They’re terrified refugees; they think that the PCs are bandits. And when the PCs describe themselves as mercenaries, they become even more afraid. But they manage to calm them, and head onwards.

By nightfall, they’re entering the gates of Cese Mai.

The guards check them in.

Iados investigates inns. The Exclusive Lamb is mentioned frequently, with a good curry; the Golden Butterfly is also mentioned. They are both off the palace square, near the Plar’s palace. The Golden Butterfly is extremely large. It has a uniformed guard at the front door. The Exclusive Lamb has a strong smell of curry—its restaurant is clearly better, which probably means the bar is as well, but the rooms look less elegant. They head over to the Exclusive Lamb, figuring food is more important than room quality.

They rent a large suite. They enjoy the lamb curry.

Noah: Who’s up for a game of Three Dragon Ante?
Elyn: I’d rather kill people, but it’ll do.

In the morning, Jebediah Cinnamontree pounds on their door, asks for help taking his land back. They ask how much, he says for the land back and the trees intact, he can scrape together 100 silver.

(They do some gambling, end up a little ahead.)

8 Tar Skard
Jebediah is waiting for them in the morning. He has a hand-drawn map. Go north, then take the third fork. That leads down to a group of small spice farms—not plantations, just small farms. “I tried to bargain with the bandits, offered them money, but they were too smart—they knew that it would not take long for the bark to be ready to sell, and that would be worth more.” They don’t bring Jebediah with them—he seems to have no useful skills.

They head north. Iados is scouting ahead, and he gets grabbed around the neck and pulled off backwards. Noah sees it, from some 150 feet away. A harsh voice whispers, “Be quiet! Nothing bad will happen to you much. Now hush—we want your companions to run up here.”

Elyn fires blind into the bushes, and manages to miss Iados and hit the other person holding him, who curses loudly. Iados tries to break free and fails badly.

The guy who grappled Iados tries to throw him to the ground. Iados is thrown to the ground. They shoot back at Elyn, doing 15 points of damage.

Noah charges one of the archers, raging and recklessly attacking. He gets a critical hit for 27 points of damage, cutting the archer in half. The man has twigs and leaves and branches tied to him all over.

Elyn runs off into the woods and spends her round finding healing herbs.

Iados stabs his assailant, injuring both himself and his opponent.

His opponent misses him.

Noah smashes the other archer really hard.

Iados tries to compel the survivor, who surrendered, into joining them. He agrees.
[End Session 5]

Some notes about gameworld consequences of the war:
50,000 dead in the war

Seachen lost 2 heavy field armies

Hanal lost 2 light field armies and most chivalry

43 major plantations; 26 wiped out; almost all minor plantations north of the city wiped out

The year before the war, 430.8 million silver of trade external from the Spice Lands; Canberry’s experts estimate that the entire Spicelands, including Seachen, will only do a third as much, with about a decade to regrow; and Seachen has totally closed their borders. Many of those spices are also used in preserving, and there will be shortages for years.
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Housekeeping note: I realized that I was posting notes at basically the same pace that they're being generated. That seems less fun than catching up to the present state of the campaign, so I'm switching to posting a whole session each week. That should let us catch up in a little over six months.]
Session 6 (6/7/20)

9 Tar-Skard
They are approaching Jebediah’s spice farm.

They begin by interrogating the bandit.

Elyn plays bad cop. “What are you doing here? Why did you decide to come here, tell me now or else?”

“Well, this area is a complete shambles, with lots of destroyed towns or villages, and there are some good pickings around here. So we wanted to get in on the pickings.”

Noah swoops in, offering some water in a mug.

“Look… there’s almost no order left for two weeks north of here, once you get out of Cese Mai. We weren’t always bandits, but once they burn your village what choice do you have?”

At Iados’s suggestion, Noah throws Iados into a tree to scout. Iados catches the branches, and hauls himself up. He can see a small stone farmhouse building. There are also a small group of men loading material in bags into a carriage. There’s a smaller wooden barn behind the house. The house is surrounded by a small orchard of cinnamon trees.

Iados drops some branches down into an arrow, pointing into the field. They estimate that there are 10 bandits around the house.

Noah decides to rush in and start raging.

Elyn also rushes the cart planning on taking cinnamon hostage.

Iados runs forward and tries to claim that this is their cinnamon.

Noah cleaves one of the bandits entirely in half. Some of the other thieves flee.

Moonlit Snow hits one with a poison spray. He falls back and collapses.

The leader runs over to Noah and inflicts wounds.

Noah threatens him in response, and whacks him with his axe. Iados also stabs him with a dagger. Elyn shoots him with an arrow.

The leader tries to inflict wounds again, but misses.

Noah smacks him again, dropping the leader.

One of them got away—the one that fled immediately got away. The other four are bleeding on the ground.

The priest is wearing ratty black robes over scale armor.

Iados goes back to the city and informs Jebidiah about their success.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group loots and buries the dead, and then camps for the night. Loot: 1 suit scale mail, 13 sp, 2 potions of cure light wounds

Moonlit Snow takes first watch and hears prowling out in the direction where they buried the bodies. There are some sort of dog things, with red eyes, low to the ground, trying to paw at the graves. There are four of them, with fox-like faces. They’re bigger than foxes, but smaller than a big dog, obviously wild.

The rest of the night basically passes uneventfully.

In the morning, the farmers return with Iados.

10 Tar-Skard
They get thanked, and paid 100 silver. They are invited to stop by anytime. They have successfully saved the spice farm. Eventually, there will be enough security in the area that they’ll keep the spice farm.

[End Session 6]
 

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