Children of Sorrow

darkbard

Legend
Combat Successfully Completed, Minor Quest Achieved.

Rewards:

XP: Combat:
L4 Brute 175 + L2 Lurker x2 250 + L1 Minion Skirmisher x7 175 = 600 XP. Minor Quest (Toriq) completed 50 XP/PC. 600 + 200 = 800/4 PCs = 200 XP per PC.

Treasure: 2 Potions of Healing and wooden crown intricately carved with woodland scenery (worth 100 gp) (Parcel 1.5)

Write a new Quest, Minor or Major, for Toriq. If any other Quests seem to have emerged from events thus far, go ahead and write those, too.

Take a Short Rest. In your followup post, please make note of Surges spent, current HPs/APs.

Okay, you've discovered that what has been besetting the Dryad, Dryope, is not only the incursion of loggers but an attack from foul enemies, an undead abomination (serving some dark master) and its legion of malevolent plant-creatures. But you've rescued her from that threat, and Dryope is safe ... at least for the moment.

Write a post in which you describe her gift of the above reward to you (water from her brook, ensorcelled by her native powers; and her own handiwork, respectively) and the reunion between her and Toriq. (Keep it clean; there might be kids reading! ;) ) Then segue to what comes next. Will you seek out the source of this foul incursion into The Chestnut Grove? Will Jendi prevail in convincing the others that fair is fair: it's time to investigate The Sunken Vault? Are these two somehow connected?

Or will you decide to return to Ravenswood, to follow up on the drama with Elena and her forced marriage? Or something else? At the very least, whatever you do, you will need to spend one night in the woods, for Dryope's Grove is too far to return to Juniper House or the town before nightfall. Unless, of course, you're willing to brave the forest--and its dangers--at night.
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
At the collapse of their final feral twigling foe, Dryope steps slowly out of the bramble bush where she has most recently sought refuge and makes her way over to Toriq, almost falling into her arms, weeping in nervous exhaustion and gratitude. Toriq, putting hand under her beloved's chin and gently lifting Dryope's face, gives her a kiss on the forehead, both eyelids, then finally on her lips, before folding the dryad back into her comforting embrace.

Interrupting their reunion, Jendi throws out a question about the possible origin of these twigblights and their ringleader. Dryope opens her eyes to look at the young elfling and considers his question. "There are legends of a subterranean structure in this part of the forest, a place where dark magicks once were studied. I suspect that the ghoul ... or perhaps his maker? ... discovered its location and put it back into service.

At this, Jendi's eyes noticeably widen, the sight of which caused Toriq's own to narrow suspiciously. The half-elf meets his sister's stare and simply asks whether or not it would be prudent to find this place and put a stop to its use? "And to line your pockets with any treasure therein?" asks the warden, knowing full well that Jendi's curiosity in this must have something to do with those maps her brother has been studying so steadily.

Jendi gives her stare for stare. "And if there is treasure? Why should I not take it? Just because I speak of prudence does not mean I would not accept providence. After all, would we want someone with nefarious intent to profit instead?"

Toriq knows she can't argue with her brother (and, as Jendi would no doubt retort, why should she), so she asks to see those maps he carries everywhere with him , so that they can come up with a plan some sort. She turns to Mylistra and suggests that once Dryope's immediate safety has been secured, they can all go to see what is to be done for Elena and her situation.




Our intentions are (perhaps obviously) to pursue Jendi's agenda here, before heading back to town to deal with other matters (hopefully Elena and Beppa!).
 
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darkbard

Legend
Dryope's immediate safety has been secured, but you're correct that whatever malevolence has manifested or grown in this part of the forest must be dealt with to put the greater threat it poses to rest permanently. To that end, you will travel to the Sunken Vault, where you hope to discover and destroy the origin of the ghoul and its twig blight servants and whatever fell power is behind them (being rewarded with Leather Armor of Dark Majesty +1; Jendi's research indicates this armor was crafted from the scaly hide of a hellborn beast and worn by a Hellsworn warlock who succumbed to the dark powers he sought and who, according to legend, dissolved into smoke when performing a dangerous ancient rite in the Vault. [These details were provided by the player.]).

We'll handle the travel to the Sunken Vault as a Perilous Journey Skill Challenge, L+2 (to represent the danger of being so deep into the untrammeled forest), Complexity 1 (4 Successes before 3 Failures; Easy/Moderate DCs only 9/13; one Secondary Skill available), with four distinct phases: Bolster Ally (to fortify Dryope before your departure), Navigate (to translate the information on Jendi's maps into discovery of the Vault), Manage Provisions (both nourishment and equipment along the way), and Scout Ahead (to get the drop on any enemies). We'll take these obstacles in the order listed, and you will choose to match one PC to one obstacle (and Primary Skill check; with one ally able to lend a hand via Secondary Skill check once).

In addition to any additional fallout created through the fiction for microfailures, your success level will impact the ensuing combat encounter outside the Vault: 0 failures = +2 initiative + your choice of starting squares for each PC + Encounter Budget of Level +1; 1 failure = Encounter Budget of Level +2; 2 failures = Encounter Budget of Level +3; 3 failures = Encounter Budget of Level +3 + enemies get a Surprise Round (1 Standard Action) against you once initiative is rolled.

Perilous Journey to the Sunken Vault L3, C1 SC; DCs 9/13; 0 Successes/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill available.

Though passionate and true, Toriq and Dryope's relationship has always been like this: emphemeral moments stolen from the divergent logic of two very separate worlds, that of the Dryad bound to her grove, who counts seasons as days across her centuries-long life, and that of the roving forester, warden to a vast expanse of wilderness, never settling in one place for very long.

You know Dryope is safe from any immediate threat, but when two such existential assaults upon her life and grove manifested in the span of a few days, Dryope cannot help but see a radical, sustained attack upon the grove she is sworn to protect ... and her very life. So she wipes the sap that runs from her eyes like tears and puts on a smile to appease your emotions. She gifts you with a wooden crown carved in incredible detail by her own hands, woodland scenes of whimsy and delight unmatched by the craftmanship possible with human hands, and two vessels containing water collected from the nearby brook that borders her grove, imbued with healing power by her connection to the regenerative powers of earth.

But she still exhibits unease in the beautiful eladrin face she wears, unable to keep her fear for her grove from you.


What do you do to Bolster Dryope's spirits before you depart?
 

Nephis

Adventurer
Here are the values for the company's APs/Surges/Current HPs:
  • Jendi: 0 APs; Surges: 6/8; HPs: 24/26
  • Mylistra: 0 APs; Surges: 5/8; HPs: full (24)
  • Nemo: 1 AP; Surges: 4/7; HPs: full (24)
  • Toriq: 1 AP; Surges: 7/10; HPs: full (30)
Toriq's new quest: rid Dryope's grove and area around it of the malevolence behind the origin of the foul ghoul and its twig blight servants.





As Jendi and Toriq pore over the young elfling's maps and charts, MYLISTRA listens vaguely to their discussion, but she is more closely focused on observing Dryope's anxious face. "I know you're worried, dear, but this is something Toriq can do. I've seen her do so numerous times. She cares for your grove almost as much as you do (though not with the depth of your care, of course: that comes with time none of us young folk have). But our friendly warden holds a strength of love for these forested lands that spans time: she fights and nurtures and strengthens it however she can.

"And young Jendi, while perhaps a bit foolhardy in some of his choices, is powerful. We will - all of us - help him focus his magicks to succeed in making your wonderful and sacred grove safe from harm. You can trust us."

The sincerity and belief in the stygian elf's voice and her insightful words speak deeply into the dryad's heart, soothing her fears. Eyes gleaming with unshed sap, Dryope's trembling lips make a small but grateful smile.




* Mylistra makes a Primary Skill Insight check to intuit what are Dryope's greatest concerns and how best to alleviate them: r4 + 9 = 13 vs. 13 Moderate DC/Success
 
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darkbard

Legend
SC Progress: 1 Success/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill available

Dryope's spirits bolstered by Mylistra's insightful words, the quartet sets out from The Chestnut Grove and begins trailblazing through the dense forest. Though there are many chestnuts and oaks, plenty of lofty pines and spruces fill the air with their resinous scent. Dry leaves crinkle beneath your feet, and the sun is high above the canopy now, filtering light here and there down onto the forest floor.

You follow a streambed that features rather prominently on several of Jendi's maps, but these maps are old. Or perhaps were made during vernal periods of abundant water flow. Whatever the case, the streambed dried up almost a quarter-mile back and has not re-emerged.


What do you do to Navigate this impass?
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
JENDI recognizes that his sister will take some convincing to continue following his navigation using his maps, but she has only made study of the land aboveground: his studies have included what lies below. The basic shapes of the riverbeds, he believes, remain - mostly - the same as are depicted on those maps, except for here, at this point.

The halfelf looks forward along the almost path, then turns back to survey the direction from which they came, then back again. Then, Jendi bends down and looks at the soil in the dried streambed, picks some up, and tastes it. Toriq, who has knelt down beside him, looks at him quizzically, head cocked to the side. She does not say a word, just studies him silently. Jendi puts his hand back into the silt and allows the dried sediment to flow through his fingers. Closely examining the stones, pebbles and soil which make up the sediment, he asks his sister, "does this look like the usual stones of the bottom of riverbeds in this forest? Aren't these pieces here stones generally found underground?"

After dropping some of the sediment into her hands for her to study, Jendi stands back up and surveys some of the geological features around where they have stopped. He hears a murmur of agreement from Toriq, as his brain knits together what he has been studying in his charts and maps, with the strange sediment they have found, and finally with what he can see at this moment. He retrieves one of the several maps in his satchel, kneels once more next to his sister, and indicates a point on the map. Meeting her questioning eyes, Jendi - holding his finger to that point - gestures with his chin to a small rock formation.

"You would know better than I, Riqqi, does that rock over there resemble this?" he asks of Toriq, who compares the formation with the map's drawing. She slowly answers a laconic, "could be." Her brief answer would inspire confidence in no one except her overly confident brother, who goes on: "and wasn't that once an iron mine? And this sediment tastes of iron!"

Toriq stares up at her brother for a long moment, then briefly at the sediment in her hand - tasting it herself, and then finally she looks back at the old iron mine. Then she nods.





* Toriq is making a Secondary Skill Nature check to fact-check Jendi's assumptions about the natural world to give a +2 bonus to

* Jendi's Primary Skill History check to read the map and compare features on it with features in the natural world: r16 + 8 + 2 SS = 26 vs 13 Moderate DC/Success
 
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darkbard

Legend
SC Progress: 2 Successes/0 Failures/0 Secondary Skills available

Iron-flavored sediment may be well and good for identifying terrain features that correspond to locales on an ancient map, but it hardly fills the belly. As your group continues on its way to what you hope is the Sunken Vault, bellies growl and energy begins to flag. The day's exertions--two deadly combats and a grueling test of wits against the loggers--mean you're running on empty.

You can deplete your trail rations completely (your hunger is mighty!) for an Autosuccess here. Or you can pursue some other avenue via Skill check to sate your ravenous appetites.
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
The second time TORIQ hears the halfling's stomach growl - how can such a small body make such a prodigious sound? - she turns to the others and suggests they hunker down for a moment for a bit of sustenance. As they check in their satchels for a portion of the rations that Juniper has provided for them (can it truly only have been this morning?), the warden urges them to try limiting themselves to one piece of hardtack, and - if they feel able! - to even wait until she returns with further tasties to add flavor to their succor.

She searches carefully in the area nearby, finding some mushrooms around the foot of a nearby tree and in the tree itself some persimmons that have had a chance to ripen and soften, along with some nuts in a hazelnut shrub. Back with the others, Toriq takes a wooden mortar and pestle out of her satchel and - putting her harvest into the mortar - makes a tasty paste to spread on pieces of the hardtack. Nemo's eyes light up, for he is always eager to try new flavors (or mixtures of flavors!): the hesitancy of the others is soon overcome by its delightful flavor.






* Toriq makes a Primary Skill Nature check to forage for tasty edibles in the forest around them: r14 + 9 = 23 vs. 13 Moderate DC/Success.
 

darkbard

Legend
SC Progress: 3 Successess/0 Failures/0 Secondary Skills available

Stomachs sated, energy restored, and aching muscles rested, you resume your journey of discovery. Before much longer, the trees thin somewhat, as if this land has been cleared in generations past, and a faint trail is visible leading to a few crumbling stone walls that are the sole remains of some great catastrophe. Surely, this must be the spot, for even from this distant vantage, it is clear that whatever befell this place resulted in a collapsing inward, towards a central courtyard.

All that is left is to Scout Ahead to determine what dangers you face. What do you do?
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
As they stand at the edge of the woods, gazing at the scene before them, NEMO lifts up a hand and closes it (a sign familiar to everyone, to be still and quiet). Then, pointing a finger to himself and then to the barely visible trail ahead, the young halfling stealthily creeps forward as quietly as possible.

The three remaining behind lose sight of him for a bit of time, then Toriq gestures to a tiny figure at one of the crumbling walls. After a few tense minutes of their watching him watching, they see him turn around to return, disappearing once more before arriving back at their side.

Then he relates what he observed ahead.





Nemo makes a Primary Skill Stealth check to silently scout ahead, hopefully seeing any dangers before any dangers see/hear him: r4 + 10 = 14 vs. 13 Moderate DC/Success
 

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