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Aphonion Tales: Ravenskrag and the Shadowline, a preteen D&D game (unedited notes, updates Thursdays, updated 4/15/21)

CPaladin

Villager
This is the storyhour for a children's D&D game. It's set in the same world as the Archducal Council storyhour and the Spice Lands storyhour, but both of those take place on the continent of Drucien, while this game is set on the continent of Zestqua. This is in the same general area as the old Journals of a Licensed Diabolist storyhour, if anyone remembers that. The players in this game are all pre-teen children, so it doesn't have any adult content or themes, unlike some of the Archducal Council and Journal of a Licensed Diabolist entries. These are basically unedited notes that I take as the game goes along--I provide some organizational support to the DM and play a sort of party NPC.

Session 1 (3/28/20)
(Mostly an organizational session 0 type of thing)

28 Skard

This group started in Ravenskrag on Zestqua. Ravenskrag is a heavily fortified city in a pass through the mountains between the border kingdoms (Tarkenia, etc.) to the east and the merchant cities and freeholds to the West. Trade passes through Ravenskrag regularly as does whatever tribute can be extracted from the merchant cities to fund the continuous war effort by the border kingdoms to restrain the avarice of the demon worshipers in the Shadowlands. Ravenskrag is not only heavily fortified, but very rowdy. There is constant intrigue - and agents of the enemy are deeply insinuated into the city structure.

Possible hooks might be: Contracted agents for the Holy Inquisition of Paranswarm: Lord of Orderly Darkness, such agents are used to ferret out enemies of the Temple and are considered expendable, but paid well; caravan guards guarding a caravan traveling either West to the merchant cities (safer) or east to the border (less safe); or private agents hired by a particular cabal or noble house (such as they are in Ravenskrag - closer to the Cosa Nostra or the Borgias) to investigate any of a myriad of local difficulties, humanoids, and monsters. Note: Ravenskrag does not really have an established faith - both major human temples have bishops here. Other temples are tolerated. Further everyone knows there are demon worshipers here as well, and other than the Temple of Paranswarm, no one seems to care unless they get in the way of something... so.... Oh and the Doge of the City State has also been in flux for several years now, with no single house able to hold onto control for longer than a few months - so there is also that.

Our heroes are Ulgorio, a rakasta bard; Runor, a dwarf cleric of Glordiadel, the Lord of Light; and Bartix, a half-orc ranger. They hear the opportunities, and decide that they want to sign on as caravan guards. The caravans heading towards the Shadowline pay much better than the safer caravan runs to the merchant cities, so they promptly sign up with a small caravan heading towards Tarkenia, one of the Border Kingdoms along the Shadowline. They head out, and make camp after an uneventful day of travel across the desert.

End Session 1
 

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CPaladin

Villager
Since the first post was so short, here's an extra long one to compensate.

Session 2 (4/11/2020)

One day out from Ravenskrag, camped over night. 5 more days to Tarkenia.

Skard 29

Next day travel is uneventful.

The following night, it sounds like a human child yowling, maybe 300 meters out in the desert. Bartix is on watch, and he reports the sound to one of the older mercenaries. He says it might be a child, in which case you’d want to bring it in. Or it might be a mountain lion, trying to draw attention. And three of you could handle a great cat together. Bartix wakes the others and they head out towards it.

Ulgorio sees blinky eyes watching them out of some low scrub. It’s not where the howling is—it’s off to the right, while the howling is still ahead of them.

They find, laid on the ground, not very well kept, a baby. It’s kinda marked up, with a little scratching—it definitely didn’t make it here on its own.

Two humanoids, about 4’ tall, covered in patchy fur, charge at them with spears.

Runor makes a violent gesture at them with his mace. They jump back, stopping 10 feet back. Bartix swings his sword at them. And hacks one of them to pieces. The other one throws down his spear and flings himself down on his belly.

Runor interrogates the survivor.

“We crossed the border and found the baby to bait you. We did not know you were such mighty warriors. How can we serve, great lord?” He looks over at his buddy. “How can I serve?”

“Can you show a route that you never threaten?”

“We were scouting. We crossed over in an attack. We don’t know much about this land, except that there is much food here.” This sounds crazy in the desert. Runor scares it off.

The senior mercenary is surprised to here of eum this far from the border, but is glad that it was handled.

The next day goes uneventfully. There are some farms in the desert, irrigating from springs or oases.

The night passes peacefully as well.

The following day and night pass peacefully until the third watch. There’s grit in the wind. The more experienced mercenary tells them that it’s a sandstorm. They collapse the tents, put headdresses around the animals, and weighted blankets over the tents and people. The horses struggle—they really don’t like it, but the handlers prevent them from running off. It lasts 2-3 hours. In the morning, they dig themselves out. None of the drovers die. Everyone is apparently okay. It takes several hours to get the caravan on its way, but they succeed.

The next day and night are peaceful.

The next day, they start passing through more villages, doing some strange farming—trying to enrich the soil, perhaps. At the edge of their vision, they can see a tall walled city. Runor spots the fellow that they scared off about a quarter of a mile or third of a mile away, tracking the caravan. Runor casts sacred flame—not reaching him, but enough to scare him off. And he runs away.

They arrive in Tarkenia. The whole city is like a military fortification. The walls are pristine, 40 feet tall and thick as three carts wide; the gates are steel, but banded in a strange black metal. And the guards are careful and well disciplined, physically fit. They review the papers of the caravan carefully, before a priest of Glordiadel stamps them with a sun seal, and they give crisp salutes. It’s dramatically different from Ravenscrag. The caravan master thanks them, pays them the promised silver (8 sp/day * 6 days=48 silver each), and mentions that they had a difficult crossing a couple weeks ago, fighting a large band of eums. Offers them a place when they head back in a week or so, but no hard feelings if they don’t take it.

Several of them head to an inn; the Gryphon’s Golden Hind is the biggest, the Bespoke Dragon less so, and then there are some dives. They go straight to the Gryphon’s Golden Hind, looking for a medium priced inn. There is a stuffed Gryphon’s head on the wall, with a plaque that says in memory of my arm. They get a comfortable room with three beds and a private bath, for 3 sp/night.

Bartix hears offers of several types of work: caravan missions going west, paying 5 silver per day; caravan missions through the border kingdoms; guarding a colony against the border; hunting missions working for the Viceroy, paying 9 silver per day (hunting creatures that have crossed the border); there is mention of cross-border missions, but they are viewed as not ready for it.

Initially, they’re evenly divided—one wants guard duty, one wants caravan duty, and one wants hunting shadow creatures. Runor persuades the others by saying that pays the best. In the morning, they go to the viceroy’s office.

“It’s a fairly simple situation. The territory nearest the border, we use a reclaiming technique to restore the soil as best as we can. This was not always desert—the Shadowwar has made it what it is. Some Shadow creatures cross the border, and hunt the settlers. It’s not as dangerous as in Caldefor, but still always an issue. We pay 10 silver a day, plus a bonus of 5 silver per head for any of red or above among the eum, or any goblyn shamans. You can collect the bounty at any border fortress, and the daily fee after a tour of at least 10 days.”

They buy some mounts in the market—one horse, two camels. They exit through the eastern gate, having entered through the west. Both gates are equally well fortified and defended. Outside the east gate, there are merchants in tents offering large water skins, animal feed, and the like. They buy some emergency water skins, planning on mostly using Runor’s ability to create water.

They get a little ways from the city gates, beyond the merchants, and pass a group of beggars. One of them gives them a silver—very generous.

The next night, there’s a long, drawn out hoot—definitely not normal for the desert. It ululates again, staying out of the fire light. Bartix heads out of the camp towards the noise, as the other two wake up. Runor casts a light spell. It illuminates Bartix, but also a not terribly large creature, that looks like a small, feathered bear. It’s been injured. Something took a hunk out of its right flank—possibly a bite. Bartix leads it back to camp. Runor heals the wound as Ulgorio casts Speak with Animals and talks with it. That means that somewhere near here is the thing that killed its mother. It said “they were large and trying to eat it and its mother, with big bellies.”

Pet baby owlbear
Small, 1d8+5 hps, Beak attack 1d6, claws 1d4 each, Str 10, Dex 15, Con 12, Feats: Multiattack. It will be a baby for a long time, 10 years to grow up.
[End Session 2]
 

CPaladin

Villager
Session 3 (4/25/20)

4 Tar-Skard

They have entered the lands of House Vilra. Two additional adventurers join their patrol-Ashaltir, a wood elf paladin of the First Daughter (one of the major elven deities), and Merreep, an elven ranger. [I think Merreep is also a wood elf, but I'm not sure off-hand.]

The present Sultan is Barash Abin, of House Jard.

Day passes uneventfully. During the middle of the night, Ulgorio is on watch and there’s a howling. It sounds kinda like people howling, in a varied pitch going up and down the scale. They’re getting closer.

Ulgorio wakes the rest. The horses and camels are also uncomfortable. There are 4 distinct tones, so probably 4 people.

Runor casts light, and cresting a dune about 25 feet away, they see 4 thin, emaciated looking people, dirty, howling, and spinning.

Runor zaps one lightly with a sacred flame, while Ulgorio and Bartix both run.

Ashaltir stabs one with a longsword, while Merreep shoots one in the back with a bow.

The one in the back hurls a handful of ichorous, green-looking substance at Marreep, missing entirely, and it sizzles as it hits the ground.

Ashaltir attacks again, taking down one.

Ulgorio hides, while the owlbear keeps attacking and bites down another one.

Bartix shoots one with a long bow.

Merreep drops the second to last one, and then Runor strikes the last one with a sacred flame, and it collapses, burning slightly.

Runor examines the bodies. It is very obvious that they have not been eating properly for at least weeks. The one who threw the handful of green stuff has a pouch at his side with at least 3 more handfuls. All of them look like commons, but all have something twisted about them, and the one who threw the handful has a strange symbol. Runor recognizes it as a hand-made symbol of Orlodu, the Worm that Bores Beneath, one of the minion deities of Borsh’tro. They get a grand total of 12 sp from the 4 bodies, and 4 shoddy longswords.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

They travel on southwards towards Circle Perilous, in their second full day out. They reach the Circle uneventfully. There’s a 60’ tower, made out of some form of glittering crystal, and its top glows. A thin line of energy extends out in either direction from the Circle. And on the far side is the Shadowlands, where there is no sunlight, and it’s a depressing gray everywhere.

A handful of soldiers in glittering silver and crystal armor supervise regular humans, and there is a full legion of troops there.

Runor walks up and hails the soldiers.

“There have been more small border crossings. We can certainly use aid in taking care of the detritus that crosses. We have reports of goblyns, and also of some undead being raised this side of the line, towards House Nin. The viceroy made the standard offer, 10 silver per day for 10 days, plus a bonus for any appropriate skulls you bring back. Take care if you see any eums—we’ve heard no reports of eums on this side of the border, but you’re a little green to take on eums.”

They offer them rations and clean water to supply for the patrol.

He updates their papers to indicate that two more have joined the group.

They overnighted at the Circle.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Villager
Session 3 [cont'd]

They head towards House Nin’s lands, looking for goblyns, undead, or other things. There are more humans watching from the other side of the Shadowline. They make no efforts to cross, but they are following their progress.

They travel most of a day out from the Circle on the 6th of Tar-Skard, walking together in a clump.

Bartix spots tracks in the sand, heading away from the border. They’re not animal tracks, but not exactly human.

They follow the tracks, staying together in a clump. The tracks are new, no more than a day old, and approximately 5 humanoid figures with 4 toed feet. The rangers suspect that these are goblyn tracks.

The goblyn watcher sees them coming.

All of a sudden, the tracks stop. They must be concealing their tracks—they know that they’re being followed.

Bartix keeps following the concealed tracks—it’s hard, but they can still manage it. As night is falling, they crest a dune and see a cold camp in the hollow beneath them. There are short humanoids, with bulging bellies, light armor, clubs and spears, and a sheep—probably stolen. They do not seem to have noticed our heroes cresting the dunes.

Ashaltir detects evil—one is distinctly evil, the rest are not.

Runor tries to sneak down the dune, planning on attacking the evil one, and he trips over his own feet and rolls down the dune, around 21 feet to the edge of the camp.

Ashaltir charges past him on her horse, and smites the evil one hard, but doesn’t drop him. Merreep shoots one.

Bartix charges another and cuts him down.

Ulgorio misses with his rapier.

The chieftain, who also is a shaman, touches Ashaltir and inflicts light wounds.

One of the goblyn tries to club Runor with his club, and hits him for 3.

The last uninjured one, grabs the sheep, tucks it under his arm, and runs off.

Merreep shoots her target again, dropping it.

Ashaltir gallops up to the goblyn carrying the sheep, and cuts him down.

Bartix finishes off the chieftain with his bow.

Ulgorio stabs one with his rapier, and Runor finishes him off with a sacred flame, dropping the last one.

Runor heals himself and Ashaltir fully.

They get the goblyn shaman as a trophy (which will get a bonus); 2 sp; a skin of very potent alcohol; and a sheep.

[End session 3]
 

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