D&D 5E Rhenny's "Harried in Hillsfar" Mini-Campaign

Rhenny

Adventurer
Session 0 and Kickstart of the Mini-Campaign "Harried in Hillsfar"

We decided to start this mini-campaign on odd days when we could not get 3 or more players for our entire Princes of the Apocalypse campaign, so I will be running this Expedition adventure arc for only 2 or 3 players (depending on who is around on game nights).

We started with a session 0 to create characters. I let them make 40 point PCs knowing that they would be only 2 or 3 in the party. 16 the highest possible starting attribute 12 points for that. A standard array for that would be something like 16, 16, 14, 14, 10, 10. I think both players chose to take 16, 16, 16, 12, 10, 8 though.

Once I read them the adventure background about Hillsfar and how the regime had become xenophobic and had cast out non-humans, using non-humans as slaves to fight in an arena, the players immediately decided to make 2 Dwarves.

Aedd Felspard is a fledgling Hill Dwarven wizard who had been chased out of Hillsfar just a few days ago. He has a book that he believes others are trying to steal from him. As a sage, he unearthed a text that he feels is filled with dark secrets that should not fall into the hands of others. He is prepared to guard it with his life. (He is planning to become an abjurer).

Clean Baldy is a Hill Dwarven monk who will eventually follow the Way of the Sun Soul. He values his freedom and is a Far Traveler who has made his way from his clan on a pilgrimage into the Upper Underdark and back to Hillsfar, only to be persecuted by the humans in Hillsfar.

Both PCs are lawful good and have a natural feeling of kindred, but they didn’t begin the adventure together.

The adventure began one morning when Aedd woke up in the bushes where he was hiding outside of the walls of Hillsfar. He peed and stretched as the sun warmed him. Then he looked back to the west and saw a robed Dwarf running toward him coming from the walls of Hillsfar. The robed Dwarf was being chased by three Red Plumes (the guards of the city). Just as it looked as if the robed Dwarf would be caught, he exhibited an unnatural burst of speed and was able to make it within 10’ of Aedd, who had already called out to him.

As the guards were still about 60’ away, Aedd used his magical energy to pick up a rock and catapult it toward one of the guards. Unfortunately, for Aedd, the guard swerved and the rock flew harmlessly past him. As the guards closed, they shouted out to the Dwarves. “Hey…you are now aiding and abetting a criminal. Stand down!” That didn’t stop Aedd or the robed Dwarf who told Aedd his name was Clean Baldy. The two Dwarves tried to hold their ground against the guards, but each of them took a spear to the body. Still up, Clean Baldy tried to smack one of the guards upside the head with his quarterstaff. He hit the guard, but the guard did not go down. A second spear jabbed at Clean Baldy, and nearly took him down. Then, Aedd tried to conjure some frostbite on the injured guard, but to no avail. That’s when one of the other guards turned his spear upside down and swung it at Clean Baldy, trying to knock the monk out so that he could be taken back to Hillsfar as a slave. Aedd, fearing for his own life, conjured a bladeward and tried to run. Unfortunately, one of the guards swung his spear, knocking the wizard unconscious as well.

The guards tied up the two Dwarves and hauled them back to a prison in Hillsfar to await their fate.


Comments

Ohh boy…2 PCs will have a tough time, but we are up for the challenge. I didn’t have much time to read the adventure yet and the players wanted to make characters and start so I just improvised an opening scene. At first I was sad that the Dwarves couldn’t get away, but now I really like how this has begun. First, it will give me a chance to do some pre-adventure with them. Second, it has shown them how dangerous even 3 Red Plume guards can be (which will be important for later).

I have since read the first 2 parts of the adventure, and I like it a lot. It is strange and creepy, and a good prelude to Out of the Abyss. I have not been involved with D&D Expeditions so I did not really know what to expect. It is also nice that I could buy this for Fantasy Grounds for just a $1 dollar donation.

Since we started so quickly after making up PCs, we didn’t get the PCs right for the short session. The monk forgot to add wisdom bonus to ac, so he fought at AC 13 rather than AC 16, and the wizard only had 4 spells in his book (and he thought he had to memorize/prepare just 2 for the day – like in earlier editions of D&D). That’s probably why he didn’t have an AoE spell ready to go.

But, my players don’t care. They are good sports and they like how they’ll now have to find a way to escape the prison dungeon in Hillsfar. I also had a number of inspirational ideas to work out next session.

We spent about 30 minutes during character creation and talk about the setting/background and about 20 minutes of roleplaying and combat.

Until next time…
 

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Rhenny

Adventurer
Session 1 (1 hour and 15 minutes)

Before we began, Aedd’s player wanted to change Aedd to a Barbarian at first level instead of a Wizard. He wanted to be from a clan of Dwarf that shunned magic, but since he found a strange tome that he is now guarding with his life, he’s been trying to read from it and cast magic. Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite mastered the art of magic yet. I let him change.

So, now Aedd Felspard is a Hill Dwarf Barbarian.

That didn’t change their current situation. The two Dwarves, Aedd and Clean Baldy awoke in a prison cell in a dank and stinky dungeon. They saw two guards about 15’ from the cage they were in. The guards were rolling dice, gambling and cursing each other out. In a cage next to them they saw another Dwarf. All of the prisoners had their armor, weapons and other possessions taken from them. Fortunately, they could see a huge pile of their stuff on a rectangular table outside the cell area near where the guards were seated.

Aedd and Clean Baldy started to make some racket, so the guard told them to pipe down. He told them to get some rest so that they could fight better in the arena. Then, Aedd and Clean Baldy, looked over at the Dwarf in the next cell and that Dwarf put his finger to his lips, motioning for the others to keep quiet. Then he gave them a wink and opened his closed hand to reveal a palmed holy symbol of Moradin as he whispered that his name was Rawth. This heartened both Aedd and Clean Baldy.

Eventually, one guard exited the jail room. Then a few hours later he returned pushing an old man who was raving about “the new master” “Farbough Farms” “Beats at Goodroot’s” The Spring of Blessed Life” and other things. He seemed crazed and out of control. He was clutching a parchment that the guard took from him and threw on the table with all the other equipment. Then the guard locked the man into another cell. In a few minutes, the crazy man went dead quite. The others could see that he stopped ranting and stopped moving entirely. That’s when the Dwarf in the next cell told the others that he thought the old man had just died.

In another few hours, after the Dwarves healed a bit, the guard opened their jail door a crack. Clean Baldy sprinted straight at it and knocked the door back into the guards head surprising him with his quickness. Then Clean Baldy smacked the guard 3 times with his lightning fast fists, knocking him to the ground, unconscious. Meanwhile, Aedd was able to run out of the cell to find his rapier, then he held it to the other guard and told him that he should not make him use this blade. Both Clean Baldy and Aedd intimidated the guard and told him that they’d kill him if he drew his scimitar against them. After a tense second, the guard stood down and allowed Clean Baldy to knock him out. With that they let Rawth out of the other cell and they all collected their equipment. Then Clean Baldy went over to inspect the old crazy dead guy. He saw that the man had horrible purple, black welts on his skin, kind of like pustules. He could not tell what type of wounds they were so he asked the cleric to take a look. Rawth could tell that this was some type of disease or curse, or a combination of the two, but little else. Fearing contagion everyone stepped away from the body. Then Rawth told the others that he knew a way to get into the sewer system, which might help them escape this prison. Before they left, they also took the parchment that the old crazy guy had and they looked it over. It seemed to be some kind of list of prophecies or ideas in not so random order. The first part said, “there is a message from the land’s new master, but it is hidden five-fold.” Then the second part said, “The first is at the place where dandelions rise above and cover people. The virile and the virulent can be one and the same. The hell-tinged one is lost, and then several are found. – Farbough Farms. It must be!” There were 4 more sections written on the parchment, but the group didn’t waste any more time.

The others followed Rawth and after sneaking down a few corridors, they came to grate in the ground. Aedd tried to pull up the grate, but alone, he could not do it so Rawth helped. Unfortunately they both needed a little more help, so Clean Baldy stepped in. The grate was heavy and as they strained to lift it, the Dwarves heard two voices from around the corner. Before they knew it, two more guards turned the corner and saw them at the grate. Clean Baldy melded into the shadows, but the other two were right there in the middle of the corridor. As the guards drew crossbows, Aedd went into a rage and charged one of them with his rapier, skewering him with one blow. Clean Baldy tried to tell the other to drop his weapon and live, but that guy was too scared so he tried to fight back, dropping his crossbow, drawing his scimitar and slashing Clean Baldy on the right arm. Soon after, the Dwarves dropped the guard, lifted the grate, and climbed down into a 20’ wide sewer system.

Rawth pointed to the east, down hill, following the running water, and the Dwarves trotted down the sewere system. At one point, they came to some alcoves and giant rats surprised all but Clean Baldy. Baldy moved fast and smashed two of the four rats with his quarterstaff, killing them each with two separate blows. The other two rats jumped on Rawth and one bit him pretty badly. Before more harm could be done, the Dwarves took down the two remaining rats and continued down the sewer.

At one point after about 20 minutes, they saw a lump in the middle of the sewer way with two giant centipedes gnawing upon it. Clean Baldy moved quietly toward the insects and readied his staff. One of the centipedes heard him and attacked, but before it could bite, Clean Baldy smacked it with his staff. The creature did not die. Instead, the insect bit Clean Baldy for some horrible damage, taking the monk down. Quickly, Rawth dragged his fallen friend back and used a prayer to stabilize him. Aedd jumped up and skewered the injured centipede while Rawth created sacred flames to incinerate the other creature. With that, Aedd and Rawth dragged Clean Baldy down the sewer system for another 20 minutes until they saw sunlight streaming through a large opening that led to a small hill outside the city of Hillsfar. The Dwarves continued for into the fields toward the forest for another 2 hours and finally found a copse of trees that seemed a little protected. There they set up camp even though it was 1 pm in the afternoon. At this point, Clean Baldy regained consciousness and the group rested.

Comments

The players rolled much better during this session and all their plans seemed to work. The danger of 1st level was mitigated a bit now that we had worked out the proper AC for the PCs, and since Aedd was a barbarian, he had many more hit points, which came in handy.

Since the party is small, I gave them enough xp to level up to 2nd level so that when they start their exploration and the real adventure of “Harried in Hillsfar” they will be a bit more prepared to face the dangers that await. Aedd has now learned some magic use and Clean Baldy has become a more proficient monk (still deciding what path he will eventually follow) while Rawth continued to pray to Moradin to help him become a war cleric.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Session 2

Aedd, Clean Baldy and Rawth tried to get a short rest in the copse of trees, but in just 15 minutes, they heard some commotion on a lightly traveled road just outside the copse of trees about 25’ from them. Clean Baldy could hear the sounds of a man telling others to keep moving, followed by low cries or moans. He seemed to be driving others toward Hillsfar. Aedd decided to sneak through the brush to get a look, successfully hiding behind some trees at the edge of the copse. He saw a wagon drawn by one horse with a noble sort of fellow and a burly tough up on the wagon. Tied to the back of the wagon was line of 3 halflings chained together by the hands. They were being pushed along by two other humans with scimitars and leather armor. It seemed as if this was a slave merchant bringing some captives back towards Hillsfar.

Aedd tried to call forth frostbite to affect the burly wagon driver, but his spell fizzled. He was still learning the arcane arts. Clean Baldy burst from the copse and quickly smashed the driver of the cart with his quarter staff and then tried to kick him down, but did not connect. Rawth was able to run up to the driver and smash his warhammer brutally into the driver’s midsection, toppling him off the wagon into a dying heap. The noble started to bark out orders to the other thugs and they attacked with crossbow and scimitar, but did not do any harm. Eventually, without taking any damage, the Dwarves took down the other thugs. The noble did offer 30…then 40 gold for the Dwarves to let him go, but when he said something about non-humans being scum, the Dwarves knocked him out and tied him up. After quickly searching the body, the party found that there was a small chest with 60 gp in it and the fine robes that the noble wore covering a battered breastplate. They also found the keys to the chains and they released the halflings who told them that they were captured near Elventree to the East. They asked the party if they would want to accompany them in that direction to get away from Hillsfar toward the country and farmland. When the halflings mentioned Farbough farm only 5 miles to the East, the adventurers were reminded of the crazy man’s rantings and the parchment that he was carrying that mentioned Farbough farm.

The Dwarves and the halflings traveled for an hour or so and made it to the farm at about 4 or 5 ish. On the way, they were able to tend to their wounds and have a short rest. Approaching the farm, they saw a young Half-Orc girl and a young Dwarven girl carrying buckets of water from a stream toward a farmhouse. The Dwarves asked if they had seen any weird old guys here over the past few days, and the Dwarven girl, recognizing that the party were Dwarven, said that they’d have to ask “ma and pa.” With that, the Dwarves went to the farmhouse and heard some racket within. There were about 20 inside, 10 non-human children and 6 infant humans tended by a human woman and man. The woman was carrying two of the human infants when the Dwarves asked the woman if she had seen a crazy old man a while back. Well, she was really busy and told the Dwarves that they should make themselves useful around there if they wanted a meal and a place to rest. She didn’t really respond to the question she was asked. Then she told the Dwarves to get some potatoes so she could make em, and then she asked them to go out and get some chickens and tend to Jovee, their pregnant goat in the barn. She also mentioned that they could also talk to the two girls outside to find out where Pynroth ran off to (another child that the humans were raising). Aedd told the halfings to get them some chickens so they did while the Dwarves went with a halfling child named Verner to the barn to tend to Jovee.

At the barn, they saw a hugely bloated goat. Jovee looked unnaturally large for a pregnant goat, and Verner was genuinely worried. Aedd and Clean Baldy didn’t really want to deal with the pregnant goat so they sent Rawth up to take a look. Rawth could tell that she was about to give birth so, at Verner’s urging, he tended to Jovee. Aedd used mage hand to lend a hand, and in a few minutes Jovee gave birth to a two headed red goat. Then 6 other one headed red goats. It was a very unusual sight. At that point, it was pretty clear that Jovee was dying. Verner cried and asked Rawth to save her. He used his medicine skills to stabilize the goat and keep her alive. Aedd had a bad feeling about the two headed goat especially, so he began a detect magic ritual. 10 minutes later, he could tell that these red goats were somehow infused with unholy essence. Not sure what to do, the Dwarves went back to the farmhouse to tell Bea (the woman of the farm who told them to tend to Jovee). The Dwarves had a tough time explaining what they experienced, but Verner verified that there was a two-headed goat. As they were talking, Clean Baldy noticed that the infants that the woman was carrying had 6 toes on each feet. That was weird. In a few more minutes, the Dwarves led Bea and Verner back to the barn and when they got there, they saw some of the red goats had grown in size. Two of them charged out, and eventually they attacked Clean Baldy and Aedd. The group faced 4 of the little goats when a really large two-headed goat emerged and charged and Clean Baldy. The force of it’s head butt was tremendous almost knocking Clean Baldy down, but after Aedd shot fire from his hands to burn 3 of the small goats, killing 2 of them, and Rawth smashed another with his warhammer, taking it down. The group stood toe to toe with the two-headed goat. Clean Baldy’s dodging and quick movements saved him, as the group fell this strange abomination.

Verner immediately wanted to check if Jovee was ok, but as he ran toward the barn, Clean Baldy caught him and held him. Then they walked in together to see Jovee, alive, nuzzled by two of the other red goats. It seemed as if those two goats just wanted to stay with their mother. Weirded out by this experience, the Dwarves stepped out of the barn when Bea asked if anyone had found Pynroth. Verner said that he thought that Pynroth had wandered over to the far field, that place where Bea and Ebnez told the little Tiefling boy not to go. Bea asked the Dwarves if they would go to the far pasture to search for Pynroth while she took Verner back to the farmhouse and took care of all of the children.
 
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Rhenny

Adventurer
Session 3

The three Dwarves (Aedd, Clean Baldy and Rawth) checked the barn once more and tried to determine if the two remaining red goats were tainted by evil. Aedd could not sense any magic and Rawth thought that they seemed pretty normal. Clean Baldy thought they were acting like normal goat kids, so he did not bring his quarterstaff down upon their little heads. Then, following the directions that Bea had given them, they set out for the far fields, as the sun was setting.

The adventurers came to a turn in the path that led through some briars and other growth, and in the middle of the field about 100’ from them, they saw a Half-Elven man with a silver sickle guarding a Tiefling boy from a pack of wild dogs. The Dwarves rushed up to the scene, realizing that the boy was Pynroth. The Half-Elven man was relieved to receive help as he told the Dwarves that these dogs were acting unnaturally; he would not have been able to hold them at bay for very much longer. Clean Baldy was first to down one of the dogs. Then Rawth moved in and called upon Moradin to guide his warhammer, which connected, smashing another dog to the ground. Rawth also used his holy power to restore Clean Baldy’s health. After Aedd hit one of the dogs with frostbite, he flew into a rage. That’s when a huge alpha dog pounced on Rawth from the brush nearly 30’ away. The alpha dog knocked Rawth prone, and took a bite from him. Now the party had to fight that much harder.

Aedd, Clean Baldy and Rawth took down the alpha dog and then finished off the remaining dogs. The Half-Elf thanked them for their help and told them that he had been sent to investigate strange reports of unnatural animals, disfigured and dangerous. He introduced himself as Beralt, of the Emerald Enclave, and after the party told him about the two headed goat and the red goat spawn, he realized that the rumors were true. He gave the party a vial of alchemist fire, a healing potion and his silver sickle. Then he asked them to show him the two headed goat before he left to report back to the Emerald Enclave in the village of Elventree. The party saw Beralt off, and mentioned that he would put in a good word about them to the Enclave if any of them ever wanted to join. With Pynroth safe, the Dwarves made it back to Bea’s farmhouse and were able to share dinner and some stories. They shared the mad man’s prophecy with Bea, and found that the Goodroot farm was only a few miles to the east, so they planned to go there in the morning.

With the three halflings that they had rescued a few days ago, they made their way to Goodroot Farm. As they approached, they saw four Red Plume Guards on the steps of the Goodroot Farmhouse speaking with a young Half-Elven teen. When they got close enough, they heard the leader of the Red Plumes say that the Goodroots had to produce 8 barrels of dye tomorrow or under the law, they would take control of the farm. Then the guards left, but before they did, Aedd made some off color joke about beets and dye. The leader of the guards warned Aedd and the other Dwarves not to get involved. He was stern and had no sense of humor. However, Aedd and the others did see one of the Red Plumes crack a smile and chuckle a little as the Red Plumes left the farmhouse and headed down the road.

The group spoke with the Half-Elven teen, Constance Goodroot and found that she was very worried that the Red Plumes would take the farm. At first she said her parents were away, but then she broke down and cried and showed them into a large cellar. When she pointed at two long wooden boxes, the group realized that this was another part of the mad man’s prophecy. Constance showed the Dwarves her dead mother and father inside these boxes. They also had the strange purple welts that the mad man had. Rawth knew it was some disease, yet he could not figure out what it was. She told the group that they had returned from negotiating a contract and then they died of this strange disease. She also told them that there was more.

By this time, Aedd was worried that the girl would not have enough beets to make the dye that the Red Plumes would be back for, so he went out into fields with the other workers and he started to pull up beets. He raged and turned himself into a savage beet picker.

Meanwhile, back in the cellar, Constance showed Clean Baldy and Rawth another room. Inside there was a sick, nearly dead, Drow. She told the Dwarves that this Drow was with her parents when they returned. Clean Baldy, speaking Undercommon, found that this Drow was a merchant who came from the Underdark to deal with the Goodroots. He also seemed to be suffering from the same disease that the others had, and he did not seem like he would live much longer. Rawth checked him over, but still could not determine what the ailment was nor how he could help the Drow recover. Just then, the lantern that Constance was holding fell to the ground and shattered. The room went dark, but luckily the Dwarves could still see.

Clean Baldy could tell that there was shuffling noises one near Constance and another about 10’ from her, but he could not see anyone or anything. Rawth tried to glean what was happening, but he could only rely on the monk’s description. Then, a voice came from the room telling the Dwarves to step aside and surrender the Drow. Clean Baldy spoke with the voice a bit, and he smashed a barrel of water so that the water spilled out onto the cellar floor, hoping to use that to hear or see any creatures that walked into the room. Rawth stepped toward the sound of the voice and swung his warhammer wildly at the air in front of him. Then he retreated behind a pillar.

The Dwarves heard the sound of footsteps in water as Rawth was grazed by a war pick. A large Duergar stood in his face grinning with dark glee as the voice said that they would have to take the Drow the hard way. Another Duergar become visible right in front of Clean Baldy, and its pick dug deeply into the Dwarven Monk’s shoulder. It was a vicious blow. As the two Dwarves battled the enlarged Duergar, Constance ran from the room and shouted for help. Rawth managed to duck a few blows from a Duergar, but Clean Baldy was not as lucky, even with his ability to dodge more gracefully. Rawth managed to heal Clean Baldy a few times, and even try to help him with Shield of Faith, but the monk did not fare so well.

After hearing Constance’s cry for help, Aedd ran into the cellar to help, but soon after, Clean Baldy took another deep pick wound and went down. Aedd attacked one of the Gray Dwarves with rage as Rawth attacked with the guidance of Moradin. The Duergar were tough. One dealt a super deadly attack upon Aedd (Crit with enlarged war pick). Since Aedd was raging, he didn’t feel as much pain as he could have so he managed to stay on his feet. Then, one of the Duergar went for the Drow, scooped him up, and carried him in an attempt to escape while the other fought the Dwarves. As the Drow carrying Duergar fled, both Aedd and Rawth saw an opening and attacked, crumpling the Gray Dwarf to the ground, dead. When the other Duergar had the chance, he also ran to the Drow and tried to escape carrying the Dark Elf. Aedd finished him off as Rawth called upon divine power to stabilize Clean Baldy.

The Dwarves found 200 gp on the Duergar and a wanted poster. When Clean Baldy awoke in an hour, he was able to read the poster since it was written in undercommon. It was a reward offering for Arrizz the Drow. It seemed as if Arrizz had left a Drow family without permission and these Duergar were bounty hunters trying to bring Arrizz back. On Arrizz they found documents that confirmed his purchase of beets and dyes, and his contract with the Goodroot Farm. All this time, Constance was becoming more and more worried. She asked the Dwarves if they could help her so that the Red Plumes would not have cause to take over her farm. She needed to do something with the bodies of her parents and the Drow so that nobody would know that her parents were dead for she was not yet old enough to inherit the farm. If the Red Plumes found out, they would certainly seize the farm.

Aedd began digging a hole in the cellar so that they could bury the bodies, and the others helped Constance make more dye. If they worked through the night, they would be able to supplement the dye supply and perhaps make 8 barrels so that they could pay off the contract with Hillsfar and keep the Red Plume’s happy at least one more day.

Working through the night, the Dwarves and Constance made the dye and buried the dead bodies. They were exhausted and bleary eyed when the sun rose. Then, they heard a knock on the door. It was an old woman who said she had been following the Dwarves. She had not seen the Red Plumes but she offered to help the group, join up. Then she offered to cook them some grub and told them how she too had no love of what’s happening in Hillsfar. The party took her in, and later learned that this was just a disguise for a Half-Elven Warlock named David Smith. After eating, the group waited for the Red Plume’s to return. Clean Baldy, even offered to stay with Constance to make sure that she would be safe for the few months before her 16th birthday, when she would be legally old enough to inherit the farm from her parents.

Comments

We played for 2 hours.

Duergar are tough, especially when they are invisible and enlarged and make their first attack from invisibility. (I thought that I would TPK the group, especially since Aedd had left the cellar to work in the fields before the Duergar showed up…but luckily, Constance was able to call for help and Aedd heard her…he rolled an 11 for a DC 10 perception check).

In the combat with the Duergar, nearly every attack against Rawth missed while nearly every attack against Clean Baldy hit, even when Rawth guarded him with Shield of Faith. Yes, the dice are fickle.

This was a fun session. We had a player who had not played in a while pop in mid game to control Rawth, while Aedd made pun after pun after pun about beets and dyeing, etc. This made the others roll their eyes a bit, but it was entertaining.

It seems as if Clean Baldy’s player will be switching bodies and playing the new Warlock. Perhaps he can help the group deal with the Red Plumes when they return to make life more difficult for Constance.

So far, two items in the mad man’s prophecy seemed to come true. What’s next?
 
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