3.5 GREYHAWK CY 576: GREAT LEGENDS RETOLD -- CAMPAIGN THREAD

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
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"What are you going to teach me today, old man?" Nimbar asked, in a rude, gruff tone. "Whatever it is, it had better be good."

Sir Walter smiled at his young apprentice; he knew that Nimbar was joking, but he also never allowed such comments to go unchallenged. "I'm going to teach you how to kiss the floor with your front teeth, you little cuss!" Sir Walter laughed. "It'll ruin that famous smile of yours that the lasses love so much. But it will teach you to respect your elders!"

Nimbar raised his hands, in a mock, boxing stance. "Let's see you try, old fart!" he taunted, making use of his aforementioned smile.

Sir Walter picked up a wand from his desk, and leveled it at his apprentice. Nimbar laughed, raising his hands in surrender. "Hey, no fair using a wand!" he chided.

Sir Walter smiled. "My boy, if there's one piece of advice that I can give you which is more important than any other, it's this: Never bring a knife, or in this case, your fists, to a Wizard's duel."

Nimbar nodded, letting the joke drop. "I hear the Viceroy commissioned a sword from you."

Sir Walter nodded. "Indeed, he did. But I'm going to need a special kind of ore to finish it. The blade will be Dwarven steel, but the cross-guard and pommel need to be made of Rose-Gold Iron Ore. And there's only one place to get it..."

Nimbar's countenance fell, as he realized that he was going to be the gopher on this one. "The Holy Empire of Erypt," he sighed. "Blast it, old man, why so damned far?" he asked.

Sir Walter laughed. "Because you need to get out beyond the gates of this little, rural backwater and see the world, that's why. Besides, it will keep you out of my hair for awhile; these enchantments are going to take several weeks to prepare, and I will need complete solitude for that time, safe from your daily begging and senseless chatter!"

Willip was not small; it was a walled, city-fort, the third-largest settlement in Furyondy. But Nimbar knew better than to challenge Sir Walter on his choice of terminology. Sir Walter had seen many things and visited many places in his lifetime, and if he said Willip was a backwater settlement, then so be it.

But there was one thing standing in the way of the journey: money. Nimbar had a small pool of gold, perhaps a bit more than 200 pieces, set aside for a rainy day, but he had never been the hoarder that his friend Tellerian was. Tellerian had thousands of gold pieces saved up, that he kept in a locked chest in his parent's house. And he was loathe to touch it. Nimbar doubted that Tellerian would loan him the fee for passage, and he knew that his own meager savings would never buy him passage across two oceans.

"How am I going to afford a round-trip ship's passage of that duration?" Nimbar asked.

Sir Walter put his hand into his belt pouch, producing a large, metal medallion on a length of chain. He handed it to Nimbar, and replied, "What do you take me for, boy? A fool? It's going to take you long enough to find the damned ore, without having to endure a 3-month ocean voyage as well. I'm going to send you through a portal. You'll arrive in an instant. That medallion will bring you home, if you speak the command word that's engraved on it. It holds only one charge, so don't you dare activate it before you have the Rose-Gold, do you hear?"

Nimbar stared at the medallion in amazement. He had heard legends of Wizards that could open portals, and travel the world in an instant, but he had never dared to hope that Sir Walter was capable of such a thing. "That's a long way from home, to be traveling alone..." he stammered, giddy with both excitement and uncertainty.

"Take that big lummox with you. He'll be able to keep the sand scarabs off of you during your excursion. I'm sure his parents will be as glad to be rid of him as I am to be rid of you." Sir Walter chuckled. "And yes, before you ask, the medallion has enough power to bring the both of you back; in fact, it will bring you, and any allies of yours within a 30-foot radius back here, to me. So if the two of you manage to acquire some new friends, then all of you can make the trip back, if you like. Ah, I miss my adventuring days. I spent 10 years as a soldier of fortune before joining the army, you know."

Nimbar smiled as he slipped the medallion around his neck, and tucked it underneath his tunic. "Wow, my first trip to a foreign empire," he mused.

"Be careful, boy. They have different customs there. Don't look sideways at, or speak to, any women that you come across. If they're spoken for, their husbands can have you drawn and quartered for your trouble. You'll probably have the best luck mining in the Dragonspine Mountains, in the northwest region of the kingdom."

Nimbar looked quizzically at Sir Walter. "Mining? I thought I was to go somewhere, and purchase the ore?" he asked, his brow furrowing with concern.

Sir Walter chuckled. "No, no, no, no, my boy. You won't get a fair price in the markets, and I also doubt that you'll find sufficient quantities for sale, even if the price WAS reasonable. But there's one saving grace to it all; the Kobolds that dwell in the Dragonspine Mountains are known to mine it extensively. They use it to make all of their tools, armor, and weaponry. If you can find a tribe of Dragonspine Kobolds, you can bet there will be Rose-Gold Iron Ore nearby. Since their refinement methods are crude, I would think bringing back 4 or 5 swords, or 5 or 6 spear heads would be enough for my purposes, or perhaps two big shields. But beware, unlike the Kobolds in this part of the world, Dragonspine Kobolds are vicious, and formidable. That's another reason you'll want that oaf, Tellerian, along. It will take a fair amount of muscle to trounce them. That's right up his alley."

Nimbar laughed. "He did say that he wanted to start adventuring, and that we should form a team, and earn our fortunes together. This will probably excite him. He wants to call our adventuring-group-to-be 'The Brothers of War and Justice'; I think that I shall endeavor to talk him out of that, though. It doesn't flow easily off the tongue. We need to think of a catchier name. What was the name of the adventuring group that you used to belong to?"

Sir Walter replied, "The Firebrands. That group still exists, you know. When I was with them, the leader was a Wizard named Morgan Kvar. Nowadays, his youngest son, Kelvin, who is also a Wizard, leads the group. It's become something of a 'family business,' so-to-speak."

Nimbar nodded. "Now that's a catchy name. It has a lot of style. That's the kind of name we need to have."

Sir Walter nodded in agreement, as Nimbar continued his thought, "Ok, old man, a promise is a promise. I will bring you the Rose-Gold. Give me a day to sober up the big ox and to pack my things."

Nimbar was indeed correct; Tellerian was very accepting of the idea, and anxious to embark on an adventure of such magnitude. The idea of being a world traveler appealed to the big warrior; Tellerian did indeed need sobering up, but once that was done, both of them were packed and ready within the space of an hour. Sir Walter was pleased that they made it to his tower before sunset.

"Nimbar, Tellerian, I'm glad that neither of you tarried long. I am sending you to a fortress, which lies in the Northwestern region of Erypt, by the name of Caitu-Alam, which is the rough equivalent of 'Castellan' in our tongue. It literally means 'Keep of the Governor.' The keep sits at the edge of the Dragonspine Mountains, and will make an excellent base camp for your excursions against the Kobolds. Are you ready then? Let's be about it."

Sir Walter walked to the corner of the room, and pulled the cloth cover off of a large, full-length dressing mirror. Without saying a word, he closed his eyes in concentration, and tilted his head slightly backward, as he waved his right hand in front of it. The image of a road, winding through a sparsely-vegetated plains area appeared in its surface, and in the distance, a walled keep could be seen, and far beyond it, the foot of what could only be the Dragonspine Mountains.

"You have but to step through the mirror, my boys, and you will arrive on the road to the keep. I have chosen a time of day when the road is sparsely traveled, to avoid alarming the local populace. Despite the presence of green vegetation, the place you are going is very arid, and dry, because of its proximity to the desert. What little greenery there is, exists because of the annual flooding of a nearby river. I guess my point is that you should take precautions to prevent being baked in the sun. And here, buy a couple of camels from the keep's inner corral. You'll need them."

Sir Walter hands a bag of coins to Nimbar, and without further ceremony, shoos the both of them through the mirror's portal. Nimbar and Tellerian instantly find themselves standing in the middle of the road, looking toward the keep. The pair nod knowingly at each other, and begin walking, coming to a stop outside the gate, where a line has formed to petition for entry.

Two gate guards, wearing white robes and turbans, and holding long spears, collect a gate fee from all who enter. The fee seems to be a single silver piece per person. Tellerian retrieves two silver coins from his belt pouch, and hands them to Nimbar, who is ahead of him in line.

In front of Nimbar, Tellerian notices a tall youth, leading a camel, apparently traveling alone, which is somewhat strange, considering the keep's proximity to tribes of hostile humanoids. The thought occurs to him that perhaps the boy is an adventurer, like he and Nimbar.

Tellerian whispers to Nimbar, "I wonder what set of circumstances led to this boy traveling alone?"

Nimbar frowns at Tellerian's rudeness, "Who taught you how to whisper? Mind your own business, I'm sure he's fine."

"But he's not even armed..." Tellerian notes.

Nimbar rolls his eyes, wondering when the boy will turn around and tell his loudmouth friend to shut his trap.
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
No More the Spectral Lynx

In front of Nimbar, Tellerian notices a tall youth, leading a camel, apparently traveling alone, which is somewhat strange, considering the keep's proximity to tribes of hostile humanoids. The thought occurs to him that perhaps the boy is an adventurer, like he and Nimbar.

Tellerian whispers to Nimbar, "I wonder what set of circumstances led to this boy traveling alone?"


Nimbar frowns at Tellerian's rudeness, "Who taught you how to whisper? Mind your own business, I'm sure he's fine."

"But he's not even armed..." Tellerian notes.

Nimbar rolls his eyes, wondering when the boy will turn around and tell his loudmouth friend to shut his trap.
The young man could not fail to hear the words of the two behind him. The fact that the tops of his ears had long ago been cropped had no effect on his hearing. It did, however, give further credence to the enigma of his existence, could his features have been seen under the desert garment.

The young man was dressed in the full over-robe common to the caravaners who traveled across the open sands of the driest desert. It was fully white and billowy, blowing with the slightest of breezes. His head and face were completely covered with a like-made, white abaya. His stature and movement betrayed him as a young man. He reached up with a right hand to calm the camel at his side. The hand was alabaster white marred at the wrist by a reddish-purple abrasion, indicating that this young soul had recently been a slave, a practice not uncommon in this land, yet only really promulgated by the Scarlet Brotherhood to the East. Had he been a thief, the hand, itself, would have been missing from the end of the wrist.

The wide sleeves of the cooling garment allowed for the young man to easily reach inside to the more closely fitting and functional clothing, underneath. A breeze clipped the garment around his legs, showing that he wore the loose white pantaloons of the desert people tied above the tops of a pair of fairly well-made dark leather boots. The knee-high boots were laced in such a manner to indicate that they were a bit large for their wearer.

He thought back over the past few days. Two days across the burning desert, he had allowed the camel to have its own head and this where it had lead him. Most people do not give camels enough credit for their memory of where they had been watered. Chained to the sleeping camel with a shackle about his right wrist, the necromancer who had held him captive for five years, the man who had cropped his ears, had no idea of the lad's affinity with animals. He had been chained by both wrists or chained to physical objects until the pion tomb raider had no such secure object by which to chain him. He figured the large heavy camel would be secure enough.

It only took the one mistake. The camel looked at him as the picked shackle fell loose. The young man did not even need to speak a single word. He made no sound at all. He placed his left hand upon the sitting animal and it laid its head back down to sleep. The long dagger was hidden on the other side of the mount. The petty wizard had no chance as the silent lad stabbed it straight through his throat while he slept. The fool should have set some magical deterrence. The lad had to wait until first light to strip the man and confiscate his belongings. He left the body, naked, in the desert for the vultures. There was no telling how many corpses had found there final destination in that barren waste.

The young man spoke to the the gate guards in the tongue of an Eryptian. The inflection and accent were right, but the voice, though masculine, was a bit too melodic and smooth. An acute student of linguistics would have wagered it to be an Elven voice, another enigma. He spoke through the cloth covering his face, refusing to use gesture or use body language as he conveyed his thoughts. He was explaining to the guards that his people had been captured by a tribe of the horsemen who preyed upon the less armed tribes to sell them for slaves. He, alone, had managed to escape and was hoping to sell some the wares to gain passage to the Keep in order to purchase food and refreshment.

With the typical lack of concern born to gate guards who hated their jobs, and often their lives, the guards motioned for him to step aside, to make way for paying customers; he then switched to the common trade tongue in a deliberate use to have others waiting in line to hear him. "I have recently escaped capture of slavers. I do not have the gate fee. I need to trade for it or sell some wares to enter. I am one man looking for food and drink. I have had enough trouble and do not wish for more."

d20+5 = 12 + 5 = 17
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Getting Through The Gate

Sphynx:
The gate guards, unsympathetic to your plight, look directly past you, as if you weren't even there. Their arrogance is stifling.

Tellerian hands Nimbar a third silver coin. Nimbar smiles, and says to the guards, in the Common trade tongue, loud enough for Sphynx to hear, "Here is his fee, and ours as well. Has the mercy of Re-Horakhty diminished so much in my father's lifetime, that persons of privilege, such as yourselves, would turn away a young man with such ready disdain, without allowing him to prove the truth of his words?"

The guards frown at Nimbar, but noticing Tellerian's stern gaze, decide not to make an issue of it. They mumble something in Eryptian as they motion all three of you through the gate.

Guard 1: "Stinking foreigners."
Guard 2: "We'll place them on the watch list."
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Sphynx Greets his new Friends

Sphynx nods to the men and smiles behind the cloth covering his face. He accompanies them through the gate, leading his camel. Once inside the Keep, he removes the billowy cloak, folds it, and places it in a pouch upon the camel.

He is still dressed in a loose fitting white garments, common to desert nomads. It can now be seen that the top of his white, cotton pantaloons and the bottom of his white, cotton tunic are fastened about his waist by a wide, very well-made, black, leather belt. The belt contains many pouches and looks to be decorated with metal bars and feathers. Those, however, are not decoration. They are evenly spaced darts. The large darts, ten to be exact, are long enough to kill a small animal when thrown and could cause harm to a man as well. The pommel of a long dagger sticks from the top of his right boot. Underneath the loose, long, sleeves of his tunic, his forearms are bound with leather bracers. The bracers do not quite hide the obvious abrasion on his right wrist.

He unfurls the abaya from his face, though leaving his head covered and faces the two men, who can now affirm that he is indeed a lad. He reaches into a pouch upon his belt and pulls forth a silver coin, handing it to Nimbar. He speaks in the common tongue. "I am called Sphynx. I had the gate fee, of course, but why pay the asking price without an attempt at negotiation? Perhaps I can buy you fellows a drink as recompense for your kindness."

It is a rhetorical question. He switches to Eryptian. "Hal tatahadath al'Eryptian?"

He looks at their faces. "No matter. The guards are petty and racists as would be expected. They called you names and criticized your deed. They plan to keep an eye on you while you are here. I was explaining to them that I have escaped slavers. The exact details, I fabricated. I will now re-cover my face as my appearance tends to prick superstition in rudimentary peoples."
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
THE KEEP AND ITS ENVIRONS

GM: This is a technical post, so that the players will have a reference for the keep and the surrounding areas.


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GM:

The Gisham River Valley
is an area of abundant vegetation, supporting a small forest of cedars; despite the annual flooding of the river, the environs are arid enough to ensure that only hardy trees like cedars and tamaracks have any chance of survival. Nevertheless, this region is still far more green and hospitable than the desert region to the north.


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GM:
MAP OF ERYPT


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Major Settlements:

01 = Fortress of Caitu-Alam (The Keep on the Borderlands) (Pop: ~200)
02 = Oasis Trading Post of Qasa (Pop: ~600)
03 = Port City of Mara-Khop (Pop: ~7,000)
04 = River Port of Suwa (Pop: ~900)
05 = (Capitol) Port City of Safghada-Meroe (Pop: ~12,500)
06 = River Port of Duni-Katam (Pop: ~3,500)
07 = Oasis Trading Post of Uswan (Pop:~500)
08 = River Port of Dahkwi (Pop: ~2,000)
09 = Port City of Motu-Saram (Pop: ~8,500)
10 = Known Thri-Kreen Territory (Entire region around center point)
11 = Camp Town of Kutra-Alam (Pop: ~150) (Subject to occasional Thri-Kreen
incursions)
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Inside The Keep

Hawke and Nimbar introduce themselves, saying that they have traveled a great distance on an errand of business.

Tellerian says, "Nimbar and I were scouts in the Royal Army of Furyondy, only recently finished our tour of duty. Now we are adventure-seekers, and if need-be, mercenaries, as long as the cause is just. I won't take part in any endeavor in which the weak are preyed upon."

Nimbar interrupts Tellerian's soap box moment, as the party steps through the gate into the entry yard (#3) "Ok, there's the stable and the warehouse," he says, indicating buildings #4 and #5, respectively. "Take note, Tellerian, we could probably obtain caravan passage there."

As the party rounds the corner, they see many nice, private apartments (#7), some of which have "for rent" signs on them, written in many languages, including the Common trade tongue. You also notice a shop (#8) with a multi-language sign that reads, "Fine Weapons, Reliable Armor, Horses Shoed & Saddled. We Don't Rent Pigs."

Buildings #9 and #10 are shops, both of which have the look of upscale provisioners, similar to what one would find in a General Store back home. Building #10 also has a sign in the window, written in the Common trade tongue, which reads, "We buy furs of all kinds. Inquire within."

Building #11 has a strange sign on it. It is written in Eryptian only. The sign depicts a hand, grasping a bag, and another hand above it, grasping what appears to be a piece of paper.

Bank & Loan

Lastly, the party notices a huge fountain near the end of the concourse (#13) and around it has gathered a small farmer's market, where vegetables, fruits, bread, and other consumable commodities may be purchased. The people here are all apparently haggling, wheeling, and dealing, each trying to come out on top of his or her particular transaction. The party even sees a few textiles sprinkled in, taking note of one or two vendors who are offering boots, pants, and tunics.

Sphynx: What do you do?
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Hawke and Nimbar introduce themselves, saying that they have traveled a great distance on an errand of business.

Tellerian says, "Nimbar and I were scouts in the Royal Army of Furyondy..."
Sphynx nods amiable. He keeps his hands still in front of him as he speaks. The posture does not appear to be forced. He has no difficulty in refraining from gesture as he speaks the Common tongue. "I am unfamiliar with the area of which you speak..."

He goes on to give a brief identification of his place of origin and his direction of travel over the past decade or so.

DM said:
Nimbar interrupts...(#3)[/b] "Ok, there's the stable and the warehouse," he says, indicating buildings #4 and #5, respectively. "Take note, Tellerian, we could probably obtain caravan passage there."
"I have traveled this desert for quite some years now. I know nothing of required writ of passage. Yes, I am scripted, by the way."

As Sphynx continues to accompany Tellerian and Nimbar while they note the places of interests within the Keep, he interjects a thought, "Are you two in need of a guide familiar with the area or some accompaniment on your particular mission? You seem a bit out of sorts."
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
The Party Is Formed

Sphynx said:
Sphynx nods amiably. He keeps his hands still in front of him as he speaks. The posture does not appear to be forced. He has no difficulty in refraining from gesture as he speaks the Common tongue. "I am unfamiliar with the area of which you speak..."
Tellerian explains that the Central Flanaess is on the same continent as Erypt, albeit almost 3000 miles to the east. He also says that their mission is to obtain Rose Gold Iron Ore, by any means necessary, whether they have to mine it themselves, or procure it from the Kobolds in this region (who are known to mine it and use it for the manufacture of their weaponry.) Tellerian says that the Kobolds of this particular region (Dragonspine Kobolds) are known for their fierceness and hostility. He says that if they encounter Kobolds, the method of "procurement" will likely be battle, rather than a commercial transaction.

Tellerian says, "The man who sent us is named Sir Walter. He says that if it comes to a battle with the Kobolds, that there should be enough Rose Gold Ore in 4-5 swords, or 5-6 spear heads, for his purposes. Although it's dangerous, collecting a few Kobold weapons would be much more expedient than actually mining for it. And more exciting, as well."

Nimbar frowns at Tellerian's impetuousness, but says nothing.

Tellerian takes note of Nimbar's scowl, "Sir Walter thought so as well; it was obvious. He told us that this keep would make an excellent base camp for our excursions against the Kobolds. He apparently knew our mindset before we did."

Nimbar retorts, "YOUR mindset. You're the charger. I'm the planner, remember? Has it ever occurred to you that discretion is the better part of valor?"

Sphynx said:
As Sphynx continues to accompany Tellerian and Nimbar while they note the places of interests within the Keep, he interjects a thought, "Are you two in need of a guide familiar with the area or some accompaniment on your particular mission? You seem a bit out of sorts."
Nimbar says, "We'd love to have you along, especially if you know anything about Kobolds. But I must warn you that our work is hazardous. Especially given my ox-like friend's propensity for recklessness. Do you think you're up to it? Have you ever been in a scrape?"

Tellerian corrects Nimbar, "Fight. Not scrape."

Nimbar's eyes narrow into a frown, "A fight is accomplished with fists. A scrape is an encounter wherein one may encounter knives, swords, bows, and other weapons which tend to scar the skin and draw blood. Hence the term, scrape. Stick to what you know, and leave the terminology to me."

Tellerian scoffs, and smiles at his friend, "You know you love me like a brother. Quit being a grump."

Sphynx: What do you do?
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Sphynx cocks his head oddly at the banter of the two friends. "You are a strange pair. I do not know kobolds, but I am familiar with the traveling peoples of the sands, which can often prevent unnecessary and unproductive combat. Do not let the fact that I have previously been enslaved deter your willingness to perceive my ability to protect myself or engage an enemy. I killed my captor."

He continues in a jovial tone, like some penny-hire, camel jockey."It seems the services of my camel will be beneficial as well. If you budget so demands, we can have him carry your necessary supplies while we travel, afoot. This is common among smaller, less affluent, bands and would draw no suspicion. For payment, I should think that half upon departure and half upon return will be acceptable."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Agreed

Tellerian scoffs, and says to Sphynx: "Well, my new friend, what is the fee for your camel? If it's not unreasonable, we'd probably just give you the whole fee up front; after all, one of us, or perhaps even both us, might catch an arrow in the eye, and never get around to giving you the other half. As for our overall purpose, I am not sure what sort of compensation we could offer you, since we ourselves don't know. You see, this one here," he points to Nimbar with his thumb, "didn't even ask Sir Walter what the compensation was going to be. Sir Walter is an honest and fair man, but he's done so many favors for Nimbar and I in the past, that it might be that he expects this acquisition to be done on a gratis basis. We shall see. We'd love to have you along, since we could use all the help we can get, but you might not exactly become rich off of this venture, if you catch my meaning. What say you? If you are with us, I think we should find a room, stow our gear, have a good meal, and then provision ourselves before the shops close for the day. Then we can make a fresh start tomorrow, just before the dawn. No sense traveling during the heat of the day, if we can avoid it."
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Tellerian scoffs, and says to Sphynx: "Well, my new friend, what is the fee for your camel? If it's not unreasonable, we'd probably just give you the whole fee up front...
"Tell you what, big fella. I'd spend my compensation anyway and coins can become a burden to carry. You two buy my evening meal and night's lodging and that will cover the up front fee. You buy your own supplies and I will load them effectively on the camel."

Tellerian Hawke said:
"We'd love to have you along, since we could use all the help we can get, but you might not exactly become rich off of this venture, if you catch my meaning. What say you?"
"I have no concept of rich, no comparator even though I know the word."

Tellerian Hawke said:
"If you are with us, I think we should find a room, stow our gear, have a good meal, and then provision ourselves before the shops close for the day. Then we can make a fresh start tomorrow, just before the dawn. No sense traveling during the heat of the day, if we can avoid it."
"Sounds good. Having been in the desert for quite some years, I can tell you that the heat of the day is not so hard as the cold of night. The best times to travel are an hour or so after first light until mid morning and then to wait until late afternoon and travel until almost mid night. This avoids travel during the hottest and coldest times. The coyotes, and possible more dangerous warm things, travel during the coldest part of the night. It is good to be guarded then. Reptiles travel during the hottest part of the day, and, again, it is good to be guarded then."

"Let's eat. I'm starved."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Having a meal at the Green Scorpion tavern.

GM:
Speeding Things Along: The party follows Sphynx back to building #4 (the stable) and are pleased to find that basic stable services are free; the stable boy explains that animals are fed, watered, and have their waste collected on a daily basis, free of charge. He says that if we want the camel groomed, a fee of 2 silver will be assessed. He also says that saddles and saddle bags, and other gear that is left on the camel, will be stored in a guarded building next door (#5, the warehouse) but he advises that only mundane equipment be stored there, and that we take any valuables and/or money with us. Lastly, he says that the stable also has camels and burros for sale, should the party wish to buy additional animals.

The party thanks the stable boy, and Nimbar gives him a 1sp tip. Sphynx's camel is left in the stable, and the party goes back to the concourse, passing through area #13 (the fountain and the farmer's market) to arrive at the Green Scorpion Tavern. (Which is building #15.)

Once inside, the party is seated, and orders drinks and a meal. (You can state what you order, and what-not, as part of your next post; but such considerations are of secondary importance at the moment.)


During the course of the meal, the tavern is alive with laughter and loud conversation. This being a hub of foreign trade, many people are speaking the Common trade tongue, rather than Eryptian. The topic which dominates most of the conversations is the nearby cave complex, which some people have taken to calling "The Caves of Chaos." The party members manage to overhear several tidbits of talk that prove to be interesting:

Man #1: (Overheard by Tellerian, who shares what he heard) "...That Elf---what was his name? Jalal?---hasn't been seen in nearly two weeks. He left that one day, saying that he was going to take a shortcut to the Southeast, off the main road. Said he'd be back in four days. That was the last time anyone spoke to him. I doubt he's still alive..."

Woman #1: (Speaking a dialect of Ancient Baklunish, overheard by Nimbar, who shares what he heard) "...Ahmed, my son, I beg you not to go. None of those men seem trustworthy to me, and the Caves are known to be dangerous. Remember what Khalif said about the tunnels? The Eater of Men lives there, Ahmed, and he is evil and cruel. Stay home my son, I do not want you to die!"

Man #2: (Talking loudly at the bar, overheard by everyone) "...Kobolds? They're the least of your worries, my boy. There are Hobgoblins and Bugbears in there, to be sure. I even hear tell of an Ogre, although I must admit, the guy I heard it from was drunk. He kept mumbling about an Ogre who protected his "little brothers," which made no sense to me, whatsoever..."

[sblock=What Sphynx overheard (up to you whether or not you share this information.)]
Adventurer #1 "I hear tell that Bree-Yark is Goblin language for 'We Surrender.' ..."

Sphynx: You also overheard the woman's warning to her son (the one Nimbar overheard) and it was similar to Eryptian, but not similar enough for you to decipher without hearing Nimbar's recital of it. You suspect that whatever ancient language it is that Nimbar knows was perhaps a root language, from which Eryptian grew and evolved. You make a mental note to talk to him about it later.
[/sblock]

Serving Maid, Directly to the Party Members: "You fellows look like a stout lot, but stay away from the Hermit in the Northlands, you hear? He's stark-raving mad, living up there with a Mountain Lion! Can you believe it? Only a lunatic would keep a big cat like that as a pet!"

The meal is actually quite good, since it is prepared by a skilled cook, from fresh ingredients, with high-quality spices. Such culinary delights are uncommon in an outpost like this, therefore, the party is very appreciative, and leaves nothing on their plates, which in this region, is considered a high compliment.
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
GM: ... the stable boy explains that animals are fed, watered, and have their waste collected on a daily basis, free of charge. He says that if we want the camel groomed, a fee of 2 silver will be assessed. He also says that saddles and saddle bags, and other gear that is left on the camel, will be stored in a guarded building next door (#5, the warehouse) but he advises that only mundane equipment be stored there...
GM:
Sphynx removes all personal belongings from the camel, as well as anything of value.


DM said:
... Man #1: (Overheard by Tellerian, who shares what he heard) "...That Elf---what was his name? Jalal?---hasn't been seen in nearly two weeks. He left that one day, saying that he was going to take a shortcut to the Southeast, off the main road..."
Sphynx snorts. "There are no shortcuts through the desert."

DM said:
Woman #1: (Speaking a dialect of Ancient Baklunish, overheard by Nimbar, who shares what he heard) "...Ahmed, my son, I beg you not to go..."
"Hmm. I am not familiar with that language. Sounds like she needs to cut those apron strings."

Sphynx switches to Elven and speaks quietly. "This one over here may have done some traveling. He claims that 'Bree-Yark' is Goblin language for 'We Surrender.'" If that is not understood he will repeat it in the Common tongue.

Serving Maid said:
"You fellows look like a stout lot, but stay away from the Hermit in the Northlands, you hear? He's stark-raving mad, living up there with a Mountain Lion! Can you believe it? Only a lunatic would keep a big cat like that as a pet!"
Sphynx jerks his thumb in Hawke's direction, "Well, he looks stout. We other two... not so much, if at all."

Once the maid has departed he adds, "Sounds like a druid to me but may be a lunatic as well. I see no reason to bother someone who wants to be left alone."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Plans are being made!

Both Tellerian and Nimbar nod when Sphynx speaks in the Elven tongue, indicating their understanding. There is no need to switch to the Common tongue.

Tellerian scoffs, "Who the hell knows for sure? The language of Goblins is an awful, muddy, conglomeration of gibberish. Goblins speak like they fight; that is to say, very poorly."

In reference to the 'stout' comment, Nimbar says, "Yes, he's the stout one, I'm in pretty good shape, but I'm not the brute that he is. As for you, my boy, give it time. You're young yet."

Tellerian says, "According to the map I saw back at Sir Walter's, Southeast would put him in the fens. Nevertheless, you are correct. There are no shortcuts here, in a harsh region such as this, desert or no. Every direction is fraught with hardship and danger. He should have stuck to the road."

Nimbar nods, "Agreed. I also agree that we should forget about the hermit. Crazy or not, people that live in the wilds, and keep company with beasts, do so because they desire their privacy."

Nimbar pauses, and reaches into his belt pouch, to retrieve a small piece of paper.

Nimbar continues, "Sir Walter wouldn't let me take his fine, expensive map out of his tower, so I sketched a rough version of it on this parchment. It's not even close to being the correct scale, and it shows much less detail, but the general layout is sound, and the major landmarks are all correctly positioned. We are less than a half-day's march from these so-called 'Caves of Chaos,' so I say we cut to the chase, and head straight there to find the little cretins."

Tellerian chuckles, "So I guess this means that you're not afraid of the Eater of Men? Sounds pretty scary to me."

The sarcasm is readily evident in Tellerian's tone.

Nimbar retorts, "I've got a rapier he can chew on. I'll ram it down his bloody throat."

Tellerian nods, "So it's settled then? When should we leave? First light tomorrow?"
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Tellerian nods, "So it's settled then? When should we leave? First light tomorrow?"
Sphynx places both hands on the table and rotates his wrists so that both palms show momentarily. He is unsure of where he learned the gesture, but he is sure of its meaning. "Sounds fine to me. I have had quite a bit a walking of late. I would like to turn in at an early watch." (Watch is an archaic term for time at night, while hour refers to time during the day.)
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
DM Prep Notes

GM:
If you look back at the wilderness map, you can reach the area of the caves simply by taking the main road, for a distance of 48 squares. Then you will have to march 2.5 squares to the west, before reaching the caves. According to the module, 3 squares an hour is the normal walking rate, 2 squares per hour in the forest, or 1 square per hour in the fens. If the party is mounted, these rates can be doubled. That will mean buying two more animals, either camels or ponies. Otherwise, walking that distance will take 16 hours on the road, and then another 1.5 hours through the forest. So if the party walks, and starts at 5 am, they will reach the caves at 10:30 pm. That's without taking any breaks. If the party is mounted, they could spend 8 hours on the road, then walk their animals through the forest, for a total of 9.5 hours, which puts the party at the caves at about 2:30 pm. Given that most Humanoids are nocturnal, being mounted would provide the party a significant advantage, because of their daytime arrival, as opposed to walking, which would result in a night-time arrival.

You are unlikely to have any encounters on the road, until you get very close to the caves. (Within 10 squares.) Once in the forest, the chance for encounters increases significantly.


Tellerian and Nimbar also choose to turn in early. After the meal, the only further delay is a quick trip to the two provisioning shops, and back to the stables to inquire as to the prices of camels and ponies. Tellerian and Nimbar decide to go ahead and buy two camels, along with a few additional items of equipment.

GM:
2 Camels @ 75 gp. each = 150 gp. (Paid by Nimbar)
2 Bits / Bridles / Exotic Saddles: 64 gp.
4 saddle bags (2 for each camel): 16 gp.
Various provisions (listed on Tellerian's sheet) = 70 gp.
9 Days of Trail Rations (Dried Fruit, Nuts, Jerky, and Bread) 3 days per person = 5 gp.
Total Paid By Hawke: 64+16+70 = 155 gp.
Rations are stored in the saddle bags for each camel; each person's camel has 3 days worth of food.
3 full waterskins (1 for each camel) = figured in with cost of Various Provisions (above.)
Amounts have been deducted from both sheets.
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
You have arrived!

GM:
The road, being elevated, clear, and heavily patrolled, offers no encounters of note for most of the day's travel. The party reaches the point where a visible trail, obviously cut by previous exploration, leads off to the west. The party dismounts, and begins to walk their mounts through the forest, following the narrow trail.


GM:
After about 90 minutes of slow travel along the narrow, winding path, the trail ends suddenly in a large clearing; you step out of the thicket into a ravine-like area. The walls rise rather steeply to either side to a height of a hundred feet or so -- dark streaked rock mingled with earth. Clumps of trees grow here and there, both on the floor of the ravine, and up the sloping walls of the canyon. The opening you stand in is about 200' wide. The ravine runs at least 400' west, to where the western end rises in a steep slope. Here and there, at varying heights on all sides of the ravine, you can see the black mouths of cave-like openings in the rock walls. The sunlight is dim, the air dank. There is an oppressive feeling here -- as if something evil is watching, and waiting to pounce upon you. There are bare, dead trees here and there, and upon one, a vulture perches and gazes hungrily at you. A flock of ravens rise croaking from the ground, the beat of their wings and their cries magnified by the terrain to sound loud and horrible. Amongst the litter of rubble, boulders, and deadwood scattered about on the ravine floor, you can see bits of gleaming ivory and white -- closer inspection reveals that these are bones and skulls of men, animals, and other things... You know that you have definitely discovered the Caves of Chaos!


Cave openings are numbered in red. Lowest caves (1, 4, 5, & 7) are all at 25 ft. elevation. There are a series of switchback ledges that lead up to the various caves, which look narrow and treacherous, and which would become quickly crowded in a melee situation.

8E7E5157-EAAA-40E3-822A-229467521326.jpeg

Tellerian says, "It looks quiet. I don't see anyone moving around near any of the caves, although some of them are hard to see clearly with all the foiliage. We do need to keep in mind, that just because most of these creatures are nocturnal, doesn't mean that they don't do things during the day. In the same way that we have night watches, they probably have guards set for daytime hours. Also, depending on what they're up to, they might be awake regardless. We shouldn't make any assumptions. We should enter the caves ready for ANYTHING, at ANY TIME. We also lack a healer, unless you know something of the art," indicating Sphynx with a forward nod.

Nimbar nods in agreement,
"Aye. We need to be careful, then. Which cave do you think we should start with?"

SPHYNX: What do you do?
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Tellerian says, "...We also lack a healer, unless you know something of the art," indicating Sphynx with a forward nod.
Sphynx smiles, makes a taught gesture of engagement with his left hand, and responds. "I do, in fact, have some talent in that regard. It is due to my natural attuning for nature rather than any formal medical background. I have found that my holistic approach fares as well as the traditional."

GM said:
Nimbar nods in agreement, "Aye. We need to be careful, then. Which cave do you think we should start with?"
"I think we should be systematic about it. Like the big man, there, I get the creepy feeling that we are being watched. I would like to skirt the edge of this hidden ravine moving either left to right or right to left. When we enter one of these caves, we will necessarily have to leave our camels outside. Sadly, we may be walking back on our own."

He scans the area looking for specific hidden dangers or sentries.[sblock=d20]= 16[/sblock]
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
GM:
Spot check = 16+8 = 24. Success!


Sphynx, while the party is still at the edge of the thicket (and effectively hidden) you carefully scan the ravine, and you happen to catch something. Out of cave entrance number four, you see a line of urine splattering onto the outer ledge of the switchback. Although you can't see the creature making it, you can guess by the relative height of the stream in relation to the ground that something perhaps Goblin- or Kobold-sized is making it. Clearly, this is a humanoid guard relieving himself while trying to remain hidden. If you had not been so still, and so keen of eye, you'd have missed it. Nevertheless, your discovery is that Cave #4 is definitely guarded by at least one creature.
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Sphynx nudges Hawke and makes a gesture of quiet, then points. He very quietly conveys, "Looks like our first direction is chosen for us. I saw a sentry relieving himself, while trying to remain hidden, by the entrance of that cave there to our left, short sentry. I am thinking goblin or kobold."
 

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