The Kordovian Adventurers Guild


My gaming group had decided well over a year ago that when the Wing Three campaign (link: Wing Three Story Hour) was finished we'd start up a new one back at 1st level again. I even knew where I wanted to situate it: we'd be using the same campaign world as before (Greyhawk, as modified by my own whims), only we'd fast-forward about 20 years after the end of the Wing Three campaign. And the reason for that was that Jacob's first PC, a half-orc barbarian named Galrich Slayer, ended the previous campaign being crowned the king of the small nation of Kordovia. (Don't look for it on any Greyhawk maps, as it's a small nation from a module I renamed and plunked down west of the Vesve Forest.) I thought it would be interesting if the new batch of PCs were all citizens of Kordovia, tasked by King Galrich to become the small kingdom's first full-time adventuring group. It gave them a simple reason to start the campaign together and it allowed me the opportunity to make some ties to the previous campaign, most blatantly with King Galrich, but also with his personal bodyguard, a dwarven fighter named Aerik Battershield, who would both be fairly important NPCs in this new campaign. Plus, if the mood ever struck, I could have cameos by any of the other previous PCs.

In the Wing Three campaign, the heroes had defeated the forces of an evil nobleman wizard and Galrich had been granted the wizard's castle keep. He in turn promised it to Aerik once he was crowned king. I had built a cardboard castle keep for that adventure and then repurposed it a couple of times in later adventures; I figured Battershield Keep (as it's now known) would make a good base of operations for the new adventuring group.

I also decided that even though we had five players, I'd be adding an NPC to bump the party's numbers up to six. This came about in the form of Aerik's daughter, a freshly-minted cleric of Moradin. The inclusion of Ingebold Battershield served several purposes. First, it gave the party a dedicated healer, so nobody would feel obligated to run a cleric PC. (Dan had originally done just this in the Wing Three campaign, so his cleric PC could help keep Jacob's barbarian PC alive.) Also, whereas most of the players in the Wing Three campaign had two PCs they could swap out at will, in this campaign we'd be enforcing a one-PC-per-player rule, so Ingebold would act as a built-in "spare PC" in the event anybody's character got killed in the course of a given adventure. I purposely made Ingebold female so we'd have a different dynamic from the Wing Three campaign, which inevitably was four males and one female going off to adventure together.

As for the players, I let them decide what type of PCs they wanted to play, with the caveat that we'd be sticking with the three core 3.5 rulebooks. The only inputs I had were that the party would include a female dwarven cleric of Moradin, and suggested they work among themselves to try to come out with a well-rounded party. But my main input was that they would be running only their one PC (rather than switching off between two), so they should make it somebody they'd enjoy running for some time (hopefully all campaign). And if we ended up with a weird party of five rogues and a cleric, I'd find a way to make it work. I also mentioned that at the new campaign's beginning Kordovia will have been plagued by waves of attacks by goblins and orcs from the Vesve Forest for the past decade or so, and that would be the main starting status of the campaign. I also requested that everybody's PC start out with a different letter of the alphabet if at all possible, as that made my life easier when tracking initiative on my PC tracking sheet during game play.

Logan was the first to come up with a character concept. In the Wing Three campaign, his PCs had been a human sorcerer who tried emulating a front-line fighter, a human (then elf, then tiefling, then vampire - it's a long story) paladin, and a human (later half-fire elemental) conjurer. So what did he decide to run as his new PC? Why, a gnome fighter, of course. The Wing Three PCs often picked up magic items at a shop run by Piddilink Dundernoggin, and we had already established that Piddilink had a cousin, Winkidew, who ran a potion shop in Kordovia. (It was Winkidew who set the PCs on the adventure that had determined Galrich would be the next king of Kordovia.) So Logan created Binkadink Dundernoggin, Winkidew's nephew. Binkadink's father had been slain years ago in one of the orc/goblin attacks. Logan also decided Binkadink would try to devise a reach weapon with a "gnomish army knife" at the end, allowing the weapon head to be changed out between battles. He was concerned a bit about the slow movement rate of a gnome, but I told him I had several ideas on how to get around that if it ended up being too much of a drag in game play. He also wanted to be able to talk to burrowing animals as an additional language, because he thought it would be cool to later acquire a dire bunny for Binkadink to ride. I mentally updated the concept from "dire bunny" to "jackalope" - but that won't be for several adventures down the line.

Jacob was the next to come up with an idea for a character, but none of the standard D&D classes fit his concept: he wanted his PC to be able to do parkour maneuvers. I told him that wasn't necessarily a problem; since no "parkour" character class existed, we could probably make one up ourselves. So I took the rogue class (the class he had decided fit his concept the closest), and I removed some stuff he likely wouldn't be interested in if he was devoted to jumping over obstacles and running up walls, and added a bunch of parkour stuff, and we were all set. I showed Jacob the 20-level class I had devised, and he decided that was what he wanted to play. I was stumped for a name for this class for a while, since I didn't want to actually use the term "parkour," until I had a fit of inspiration and came up with the term "bounder" - which had the advantage of being a synonym for "rogue" and still describing his actions "bounding" over obstacles. Jacob decided he'd be running a full elf bounder (his Wing Three PCs included a half-elf ranger/cleric/sorcerer/arcane archer as well as his half-orc barbarian), and came up with the name Castillan Ivenheart.

Dan came up with his PC's name - Gilbert Fung - before deciding what class he'd be. At first, he was set on dual-classing a druid/monk (a "drunk," as he explained it), but he was misinterpreting the rules for multiclassing: he had thought he could start off as a 1st-level druid, and then add the attributes of a 2nd-level monk, and then go back to the druid class and add on the attributes of a 3rd-level druid, and so on. Once we got that straightened out, and after he had seen what some of his other players were coming up with, he decided Gilbert Fung would be a wizard. This would be Dan's first time running an arcane spellcaster in 3.5, as his previous PCs were a human cleric and a human rogue.

Vicki had already decided her new PC would be the half-sister of one of her previous characters, who was a half-elf druid. (Her other PC had been a human wizard, reskinned as a witch.) This new PC would be a full-blooded elf named Finoula Cloudshadow. She had originally thought to run her as a fighter, but got scared off when she found out Logan would be running a fighter. (Logan and Vicki had already run into this problem before, as his conjurer and her witch knew many of the same spells, and were thus very similar to run.) So her backup plan was to have her be a ranger, probably specializing in the longbow. I pointed out that Finoula probably wasn't a big fan of her younger half-sister: since half-elves mature so much faster than elves, Finoula would just be starting off on the path of an adventurer, when 20 years earlier her little half-sister had managed to make it all the way to a 20th-level druid. Vicki was intrigued by the mindset, and I've mentally made note that I should probably have the two meet up again at some point during the campaign.

And that left Joey. He wasn't sure what he wanted to run for the longest time, and it was a while before I realized this was his first-ever character class decision, as when he officially entered our Wing Three campaign we had him make up a fighter since we figured it would be the easiest class to learn at 8th level. He finally decided on a human ranger, then later changed him to half-elf. He also came up with a cool name he liked, wrote it on a piece of paper between our Wing Three game sessions, and then promptly lost the paper and spent months trying to remember his cool name. But he ended up with Darrien and decided he'd be specializing in archery, which immediately prompted Vicki to switch Finoula to specialize in two-weapon fighting.

So that's our initial lineup: a gnomish fighter, elven ranger, half-elven ranger, and elven bounder handling the combat, with a human wizard and a dwarven cleric handling the spellcasting duties.
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


For those interested, here's the bounder class I came up with for Jacob.

The bounder is a specialized type of rogue. In many aspects, bounder levels count as rogue levels when determining a character's class abilities. (For example, bounders count as rogues when it comes to the trapfinding class ability.)

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills: The bounder's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Disable Device (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (8 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: The Bounder

1st.....+0..........+0....+2....+0....Full speed ahead, sneak attack +1d6, ................................ .....trapfinding, wallclimbing
2nd.....+1..........+0....+3....+0....Evasion, dodge bonus
3rd.....+2..........+1....+3....+1....Slow fall 20 ft., sneak attack +2d6
4th.....+3..........+1....+4....+1....Fast movement (+5 ft. speed), uncanny
5th.....+3..........+1....+4....+1....Sneak attack +3d6
6th.....+4..........+2....+5....+2....Slow fall 30 ft., trap sense +1
7th.....+5..........+2....+5....+2....Sneak attack +4d6
8th.....+6/+1.......+2....+6....+2....Improved uncanny dodge
9th.....+6/+1.......+3....+6....+3....Slow fall 40 ft., sneak attack +5d6
10th....+7/+2.......+3....+7....+3....Special ability
11th....+8/+3.......+3....+7....+3....Sneak attack +6d6
12th....+9/+4.......+4....+8....+4....Slow fall 50 ft., trap sense +2
13th....+9/+4.......+4....+8....+4....Sneak attack +7d6, special ability
14th....+10/+5......+4....+9....+4....Fast movement (+10 ft. speed)
15th....+11/+6/+1...+5....+9....+5....Slow fall 60 ft., sneak attack +8d6
16th....+12/+7/+2...+5....+10...+5....Special ability
17th....+12/+7/+2...+5....+10...+5....Sneak attack +9d6
18th....+13/+8/+3...+6....+11...+6....Slow fall 70 ft., trap sense +3
19th....+14/+9/+4...+6....+11...+6....Sneak attack +10d6, special ability
20th....+15/+10/+5..+6....+12...+6....Slow fall any distance

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Bounders are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, sap, shortbow, and short sword. Bounders are proficient with light armor, but not with shields. However, many of the bounder's movement tricks require both hands to be free, so hand crossbows, shortbows, and short swords are seldom used.

Full Speed Ahead: A bounder can move at his normal speed through obstructed terrain (terrain that normally forces a PC to spend two or more squares of movement per square traveled) by making a DC 15 Tumble check. If the Tumble check fails, the bounder moves normally through that terrain for that round, but may make a new check on subsequent rounds.

Sneak Attack: If a bounder can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The bounder's attack deals extra damage any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the bounder flanks his target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 every two bounder levels thereafter. Should the bounder score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, a bounder can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. He cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

A bounder can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies — undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The bounder must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A bounder cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Trapfinding: Rogues (and only rogues, including bounders) can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.

Rogues (and only rogues, including bounders) can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.

A bounder who beats a trap's DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with her party) without disarming it.

Wallclimbing (Ex): A bounder with a running start (at least 5 feet) can climb up vertical walls and similar objects while moving at his full speed. A bounder must have both hands free to wallclimb.

Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level and higher, a bounder can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the bounder is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless bounder does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Dodge Bonus (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, a bounder gains a dodge bonus to AC equal to his Wisdom modifier (if positive). This dodge bonus is only in effect when the bounder is moving at his maximum speed (including when wallclimbing) and stacks with other dodge bonuses.

Slow Fall (Ex): At 3rd level or higher, a bounder within arm's reach of a wall can use it to slow his descent. When first using this ability, he takes damage as if the fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is. The bounder's ability to slow his fall (that is, to reduce the effective distance of the fall when next to a wall) improves with his bounder level until at 20th level he can use a nearby wall to slow his descent and fall any distance without harm.

Trap Sense (Ex): At 6th level, a bounder gains an intuitive sense that alerts him to danger from traps, giving him a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps. These bonuses rise to +2 when the bounder reaches 12th level, and to +3 when he reaches 18th level. Trap sense bonuses gained from multiple classes stack.

Fast Movement (Ex): Over time, a bounder's land speed becomes faster than the norm for his race. This benefit applies only when he is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the bounder's speed because of any load carried or armor worn. In each case, the speed increase noted in the parentheses is applied to the bounder's base speed; it is not cumulative.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a bounder can react to danger before her senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.

If a bounder already has uncanny dodge from a different class he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A bounder of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies another bounder (or rogue) the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more bounder (or rogue, or combination of the two) levels than the target does.

If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum bounder (or rogue) level required to flank the character.

Special Abilities: On attaining 10th level, and at every three levels thereafter (13th, 16th, and 19th), a bounder gains a special ability of his choice from among the following options.

Defensive Roll (Ex): The bounder can roll with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it than he otherwise would. Once per day, when he would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), the bounder can attempt to roll with the damage. To use this ability, the bounder must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC = damage dealt). If the save succeeds, he takes only half damage from the blow; if it fails, he takes full damage. He must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute his defensive roll — if he is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC, he can't use this ability. Since this effect would not normally allow a character to make a Reflex save for half damage, the bounder's evasion ability does not apply to the defensive roll.

Improved Evasion (Ex): This ability works like evasion, except that while the bounder still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks he henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless bounder does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Opportunist (Ex): Once per round, the bounder can make an attack of opportunity against an opponent who has just been struck for damage in melee by another character. This attack counts as the bounder's attack of opportunity for that round. Even a bounder with the Combat Reflexes feat can't use the opportunist ability more than once per round.

Skill Mastery: The bounder becomes so certain in the use of certain skills that he can use them reliably even under adverse conditions. Upon gaining this ability, he selects a number of skills equal to 3 + his Intelligence modifier. When making a skill check with one of these skills, he may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent him from doing so. A bounder may gain this special ability multiple times, selecting additional skills for it to apply to each time.

Water Walking (Ex): A bounder with this ability has learned how to run across still water and similar liquids. He must be traveling at his maximum rate of speed to maintain this ability. This form of water walking is not possible on stormy seas and the like.

Feat: A bounder may gain a bonus feat in place of a special ability.
Last edited:



PC Roster:
Binkadink Dundernoggin, gnome fighter 1
Castillan Ivenheart, elf bounder 1
Darrien, half-elf ranger 1
Finoula Cloudshadow, elf ranger 1
Gilbert Fung, human wizard 1​

NPC Roster:
Ingebold Battershield, dwarven cleric 1 (Moradin)​

Game Session Date: 8 August 2015

For this first game session, we spent a little over an hour building the PCs (most had already been started, at least as far as ability scores and physical attributes go), then jumped straight into this first, introductory adventure. This one was different from anything we'd ever done before, as it involved absolutely no combat but was rather a means to get everyone together as an adventuring party. Of course, as such, this didn't take much time either, so from here we jumped into the second adventure and actually got it finished off as well. But first things first: the story of how the initial members of the Kordovian Adventurers Guild got together.

I started out by handing each of the players a piece of paper with their initial encounter, which I'll reproduce below.

- - -

Logan Handout #1 said:
You are working in your uncle Winkidew's potion shop with his son, your cousin Jinkadoodle, when a young human male enters through the front door. "I seek Binkadink Dundernoggin," he says without preamble.

"I'm Binkadink," you offer, curious about what this might all be about – and then you notice he's wearing the tabard of a castle page.

"You are to report to the castle in one hour's time," the page says. "Bring with you any armor, weapons, and adventuring gear you possess. You have an audience with the King, upon His Majesty's orders." Then, having given you your message, he briskly salutes and leaves.

"An audience with the King?" repeats Winkidew, obviously awestruck at the very thought. "Go, go, lad! Run downstairs and fetch your father's sword, and his armor – you don’t want to keep His Majesty waiting!"

"I wonder why he wants to see you, though, and not me?" queries Jinkadoodle out loud. "I'm obviously the superior gnome for whatever job he might need done. Oh well, Binkadink, go see what King Galrich wants, and try not to embarrass the family name while you're at it! I'd hate for you to, I don’t know, fart obnoxiously in his presence or anything and sully the good name of Dundernoggin. Go on, go on, don't be late! But be sure to tell the king I'm available for whatever needs done – or hey, if you don't think you can handle it, I'll be more than happy to go in your place!"

Vicki Handout #1 said:
"Finoula Cloudshadow?" asks the young human wearing the tabard identifying him as a member of the King's staff.

"Why, goodness, no," replies Feya, smiling at the thought that she could still be mistaken for her young daughter. But then, humans often missed the tiny details denoting an elf's true age. "She's out back."

You are practicing your basic sword maneuvers – blindfolded – when you hear the human's tentative approach. But then, your acute elven hearing had already picked up his conversation with your mother. "Yes, I'm Finoula Cloudshadow," you reply before he can get out a word. You continue with your sword-thrusts, seeing no reason to stop what you're doing.

"You are, uh, you're to report to the castle in one hour's time," the young man says. "Bring with you any armor, weapons, and adventuring gear you possess. You have an audience with the King, upon His Majesty's orders."

At that, you remove the blindfold and look back at him in astonishment, but he's already turned on his heels and gone back the way he came.

Dan Handout #1 said:
You're busy splitting logs at your family's cottage when you see a man approach on a horse. He rides up to within a few paces of where you're at and dismounts. You notice immediately he's wearing a tabard over his clothes identifying him as a member of the castle's staff.

"Are you Gilbert Fung?" he asks. At your silent nod, he replies, "You are to report to the castle in one hour's time. Bring with you any armor, weapons, and adventuring gear you possess. You have an audience with the King, upon His Majesty's orders." Then, having given you your message, he briskly salutes, mounts his horse, and rides away.

While part of you wonders what all of this is about, another part smirks at the thought that your father's going to have to finish chopping the rest of the wood for the fireplace.

Jacob Handout #1 said:
"Castillan Ivenheart?" a voice asks from behind you, as you practice running up the intersection of two walls in a back alley.

"Possibly – who wants to know?" you reply out of habit – and then you spot the tabard the young human is wearing, identifying him as a page working in the castle.

"I was told you'd be the elf running up the walls," he presses. "Are you Castillan Ivenheart?"

"I am," you reply – better not mess with the castle staff until you know what’s going on.

"You are to report to the castle in one hour's time," the page replies. "Bring with you any armor, weapons, and adventuring gear you possess. You have an audience with the King, upon His Majesty's orders." Then, having given you your message, he briskly salutes and leaves.

Holy crap! You think to yourself. I wonder what this is all about?

Joey Handout #1 said:
"You are Darrien, I assume?" asks the young human male wearing a tabard identifying him as a castle page. You put down the squirrel you were skinning for dinner and nod silently at him.

"You are to report to the castle in one hour's time," the page replies. "Bring with you any armor, weapons, and adventuring gear you possess. You have an audience with the King, upon His Majesty's orders." Then, having given you your message, he briskly salutes and leaves.

Giving it a moment's thought, you decide you have time to finish dressing the squirrel before gathering up your gear and heading out to the castle to see what this is all about. You can't even begin to imagine what your mother is going to think about all of this....

- - -

As each of the summoned individuals arrived at the castle, they were sent to wait in a side chamber until King Galrich was ready to see them. Looking amongst the assembled group, they saw a rather eclectic bunch: an armored gnome, a scruffy-looking human in patchwork robes, a half-elf ranger, and two full-blooded elves – a swordswoman and a roguish-looking male.

Finally, the door opened and a dwarven castle guard entered the room. "The king is ready to see you now," he replied, leading the way to the throne room. "Now remember, you call him 'Your Majesty' when you talk to him, only don't speak unless you’re spoken to. Anybody got any questions before we go in?"

"I do," piped up Gilbert. "What all of this about?"

"King Galrich will explain everything to your satisfaction," replied the dwarf. Arriving at a set of double doors flanked by a pair of dwarven guards, the escort opened them wide and ushered the band of five curious individuals inside. "Remember what I said," he muttered quietly to them as they entered the room.

A red carpet bisected the lengthy room, at the end of which sat a pair of thrones. In one sat the unmistakable form of the King of Kordovia, the battle-scarred half-orc Galrich Slayer himself. Standing to the side of his throne was yet another dwarven castle guard.

"Welcome!" boomed King Galrich in a strong voice, beaming down at the group of new recruits from his throne. "I suppose you're all wondering why I brought you here. As you know, we've been suffering from sporadic waves of orc and goblin attacks for the past decade or more. We've been able to hold our own, but we don't have enough manpower to bring the fight to them, and the Vesve Forest is a mighty big place. We're still not sure where they're all coming from, and if we were to divert enough of our forces to try to flush out their main base of operations, we'd be opening the rest of our small kingdom to being overwhelmed by the next wave of attacks. Our neighboring kingdoms are all pretty much in the same boat as we are.

"What we need," continued King Galrich, "is a band of heroes. I'm sure you're all aware that I was an adventurer long before I took the throne of Kordovia. Aerik here" – and here he pointed back at the dwarven guard standing at attention by the side of his throne – "he was an adventurer as well, and he kept me alive long enough to get me to my coronation. Truth is, I still miss those days. But anyway – back to you guys.

"I've decided to pull you five away from your families, away from your normal duties. Effective immediately, you will be the official adventurers of the kingdom of Kordovia. I want you going out into the broader world at large. You'll no doubt find monsters to kill, evil to thwart, and – perhaps the most important at the moment – treasure to loot.

"I don’t need to tell you that Kordovia needs gold. We need gold to pay for the mercenaries helping to keep the orcs and goblins at bay. We need gold to buy weapons and armor for our troops, and for the raw materials for our smiths to craft more of the same. We need gold to keep our kingdom fed, since the blasted goblins don’t seem to want to leave our farmers alone to tend to their crops for very long.

"I can tell you from experience that the life of an adventurer is a dangerous one, but it can be a lucrative one as well. I want you going out, seeking out adventure, learning from your experiences, and gathering up as much treasure as you can to help your battered kingdom. Kordovia needs gold, and I need heroes. You've each been carefully selected as my heroes. Now, let's see who we've got as the first five members of the Kordovian Adventurers Guild." With that, King Galrich stepped down from his throne and approached the five, who had lined up before him. Aerik trailed behind him, seemingly unwilling to leave the king's side, especially since the ruler had insisted these new recruits all show up armed.

Darrien was the first in line. "And who are you?" asked the king.

"My name is Darrien," the half-elf responded, and then quickly added, "...Your Majesty. I'm good with a bow, I should be able to keep us fed out in the wilderness."

"Excellent!" enthused King Galrich. "I adventured with a half-elf ranger, name of Chalkan. Good guy, Chalkan -- he was my 'bink-partner.'" Then, seeing the confused look on the young half-elf's face, he waved a hand in the air and replied, "Never mind. Good to have you on the team, Darrien!" And then he stepped up to the next in line, a little gnome in chain mail sporting a ridiculously-sized - for him, at least - glaive.

"And who are you?" he asked the gnome.

"My name is Binkadink Dundernoggin," Binkadink said, but before he could get a further word out there was the raucous sound of a juicy, wet fart practically being ripped from the very bowels of the little gnome's buttocks: SP-P-P-P-L-L-U-R-R-R-R-R-TCH!

Binkadink's face reddened immediately. The others in line next to him each took an involuntary step away, but despite the high volume there was no accompanying smell. The gnome knew immediately what had happened, recognizing in hindsight that his cousin had cast a magic mouth spell on him immediately after he had received his summons, and swore under his breath, "I'm gonna kill that Jinkadoodle for this!"

But King Galrich wasn't offended - quite the contrary. He burst out laughing, holding his sides as the tears rolled down his cheeks. "'Binkadink?'" he roared. "I'm going to call you 'Farty-Gnome!'" He put a hand on Binkadink's shoulder to steady himself, then moved on to the next in line, still laughing. The gnome just stood there, scowling and make plans of vengeance against his cousin, who had just amped the back-and-forth prank war they'd been waging against each other for years up several notches.

Suddenly, a thought struck the king. "Wait a minute: 'Dundernoggin?'" he asked. "Are you the potion-maker's son?"

"His nephew, Your Majesty," Binkadink replied. King Galrich nodded his head as if agreeing with a decision he'd just made, and focused his attention back to the next person in line.

"And you?" asked King Galrich. "Who are you, and what do you do?"

"My name's Castillan, Your Majesty. I'm skilled at climbing, opening locks, that sort of thing."

"Ah, good, good!" replied King Galrich. "We had a fellow in our adventuring group, Rale, who performed similar services for us. I'm sure your considerable skills will be put to good use as an adventurer."

"Yes, Your Majesty," agreed Castillan.

The king moved on to the next in line: a rather heavyset human in patched robes. "And you are?" he asked.

"My name Gilbert Fung," replied Gilbert Fung - who preferred using both of his names whenever feasible - in his pidgin version of the Common tongue. "My mother want me be druid like father, but I no have green thumb like him. I study magic, learn to cast spells. Someday, I be very powerful wizard!"

"A wizard, good," replied King Galrich, mentally ticking off the roles covered thus far by his adventuring team. Then he stepped to the last member and stopped short. "You look very familiar," the king declared, looking at Finoula, then turning back to address Aerik. "Doesn't she look like Feron Dru?" he asked.

"Feron is my sister, Your Majesty," replied Finoula.

"You're Feron's little sister?" King Galrich gasped, clearly tickled at the idea.

"Her older sister, actually, Your Majesty," Finoula explained. "And she's really my half-sister - we have the same elven mother, but her father was human."

"Well, I'll be," King Galrich said to himself. With Feron's sister on the team, he had high hopes indeed. But then he noticed he was at the end of the line of adventurers. "Wait a minute - is this it?" he asked, turning to Aerik.

"Yes, Your Majesty," replied the dwarf.

"But there's no cleric," King Galrich insisted. "You know how much we always depended on Cal to keep us healthy – and, sometimes, even alive."

"I believe it was decided that the clerics were needed more here, Your Majesty, to tend to our own warriors."

"That's no good," complained the king. "Aerik, your daughter, Ingebold – she's a cleric now, right?"

Aerik’s stoic expression hardly changed. "She...just recently completed her temple training, yes, Your Majesty."

"Fetch her!" commanded King Galrich. "She's on the team! Oh! Hey! And you can house them in your keep! You still have those empty towers up front, right?"

The dwarf paused only a moment before admitting, "...Yes, Your Majesty."

"Great! Then it's settled: Battershield Keep is now the Kordovian Adventurers Guild Headquarters! Page! Page!" A page came scrambling into the room.

"Go to the Temple of Moradin, and send Ingebold Battershield to me at once!" commanded the king, and the page bowed and departed without a further word.

"While we’re waiting, let me tell you a little about what you can expect as an adventurer..." began King Galrich, settling back into his throne.

- - -

After some time had passed, during which King Galrich had reminisced aloud about his adventuring days, a disheveled female dwarf rushed into the throne room, flanked by a castle page. "Ingebold Battershield," announced the page, before bowing and closing the door as he left.

The dwarf wore a confused expression on her face, and was still winded as if she had run the whole way from the dwarven Temple of Moradin. "...You sent for me, me King?" she asked hesitantly, throwing her father a sidelong glance. Aerik didn’t move, remaining at attention, his face seemingly carved from solid stone.

"Indeed I did," bellowed King Galrich. "Ingebold Battershield, meet your new adventuring companions!"

"My-- my what?" she demanded. Ingebold had had absolutely no intentions on becoming an adventurer; rather, she envisioned a life as a temple cleric, tending to the wounded. However, she was her father's daughter, and if her King was telling her to go be an adventurer, then she would do as commanded. Aerik, likewise, was worried sick about his daughter following into his footsteps as an adventurer, but he'd never gainsay his liege.

After introductions were made all around, King Galrich gave Aerik leave to bring the group back to his dwelling and show them around their new "Headquarters." They were provided a small wagon pulled by a pair of sturdy mules, Franco and Tantrum. Aerik was taciturn during the entire trip, with his daughter silent and brooding beside him. Gilbert Fung was enjoying himself, though, as he sat in the back of the wagon, watching the landscape amble on by. "This going to be great fun!" he announced.

Once at Battershield Keep, Ingebold showed her new compatriots-in-arms where they'd be staying. Battershield Keep was rectangular in build, with a three story, 15-foot-square tower in each corner. The two in the back were where her parents slept and the kitchen and storage areas, respectively. The tower at the northwestern corner was unused; the northeastern tower had been all hers. Now she claimed the lower floor for herself, and had her teammates help her move the contents of the two upper floors down into her ground floor room.

"We'll have to get some beds and dressers and such moved in here," announced Aerik. "And ye're all free to bring over whatever ye like from yer own homes."

"And who are all these fine folk?" asked a feminine voice from behind Aerik. Turning, he saw his wife, Helga, and made the introductions, after which he explained, in brief, King Galrich's edicts of the day.

"So, ye're all going to be staying here? Permanently?" asked Helga.

"That looks to be th' way of things, yes," admitted Aerik, mentally readying himself for an extended discussion on how the king's decisions overrode the wishes of good and loyal dwarves. But he needn't have bothered.

"Why, this is WONDERFUL!" exclaimed Helga, reaching forward in an attempt to hug all the new adventurers at once. "I'll need to get baking! Do you like apple pastries? Of course you do - who doesn't like apple pastries? Ingebold - give your mother a hand in the kitchen, will you?"

"Mother, I've got my room to straighten out--" began Ingebold.

"Time for that later!" announced Helga, in a tone that brooked no argument. With a sigh, Ingebold handed her mace to her father, and followed her mother, who was practically dancing her way to the back of the keep in her excitement.

"That's a good lass," muttered Aerik, opening the door to his daughter's room - now cluttered with three rooms' worth of furniture - and tossing her mace onto her bed.

- - -

The next day was spent in moving the adventurers' belongings over to their new rooms in Battershield Keep and putting their affairs in order.

Feya Cloudshadow, an elf with several centuries of life behind her, was proud to see her firstborn following in the footsteps of her youngest daughter, whose half-elf heritage was responsible for her speedier development. Feron had made quite a name for herself, having retired from the adventuring life and become one of the Sisters of Ehlonna. She still came home every year or so for a visit; wouldn't she be surprised to hear that Finoula was beginning the path Feron had first tread all those years ago?

Gilbert Fung's parents were both worried for their son and proud that he had been selected as one of the kingdom's first professional adventurers. "You do us proud," said his father, Verdant Gristwold, with a face devoid of expression, and Gilbert was unsure if that was a statement or a command. But either way, his response was the same: "I be good adventurer, do whole kingdom proud!" His mother, Harriet Fung, fussed nervously over him for a bit, then gave him a kiss and her best wishes for success.

Darrien's human mother was beside herself with pride. "My boy--an adventurer!" she gushed for what must be the tenth time since hearing the news. This was the best possible news she could have heard, for she had secretly longed for the life of an adventurer herself and looked forward to living vicariously through her son for many years to come. "You write as often as you can!" she demanded. "And don't forget your raisins!" She passed her son a tied handkerchief containing a handful of dried raisins.

Binkadink took the small chest containing 28 different potions from his uncle. "Giving 'em away for free," grumbled Winkidew, "on the orders of His Majesty himself. Well, you remember what I said about them healing potions. I put a little mark on the two that I didn't take no shortcuts on - you save them two for yourself. And you take good care of yourself, Binky." Binkadink shook his uncle's hand, and looked around for any signs of his cousin, but Jinkadoodle had wisely stayed well away since his magic mouth prank. That's all right, he thought. He won't make any moves against me until I've paid him back for this last prank. And it'll have to be a good one....

Castillan was estranged from his father, Aroben Ivenheart, and stayed at a variety of inns and taverns throughout the kingdom, using the opportunity to hone his pick-pocketing skills to keep him in spare coinage. But he did take the time to say farewell to his mother, Daerdis, and his younger brother and sisters. Who knows? Perhaps the adventuring life would be just what he was looking for: a way out of the kingdom and into his own fortune, one that had no ties to his father at all. And if he ended up being a hero? Well, there were worse things to become....

- - -

I've decided I'm also going to record one final bit of information about our game sessions. For many years now, I've tried to coordinate the T-shirt I wore to game day with some aspect of the plot of that session's adventure. So, as a final bit of topical information, of interest to me if to nobody else:

T-Shirt Worn: solid gray, with no image. I specifically wore a T-shirt with no image on it, to represent the "clean slate" a brand new campaign provided us.
Last edited:



Game Session Date: 8 August 2015

I don't think it's worth listing the PCs/NPCs unless anything changes, especially since each player only has one PC to run in this campaign. I'll list the roster whenever anything changes.

We played this adventure on the same day as the first one, which had featured absolutely no combat at all. This one had plenty of combat, but it was an interesting experience for all of us to realign ourselves into the realm of 1st-level characters once again, after only a few weeks ago having run PCs at or near 20th level.

- - -

"This looks like it," replied Ingebold, leading the mule-driven wagon to the side of the access road. Just ahead was a weathered farmhouse, complete with a covered porch in front and a personal garden to the side. To the right stood a smaller building, likely a stable. There was also an outhouse and a hand-powered water pump in the general area, and behind the house, the wheat fields. The Vesve Forest, deep and mysterious, loomed off to the east.

Gilbert Fung jumped off the back of the wagon. "I go look in stables," he announced.

Binkadink, Castillan, and Darrien opted to go check out the main house. Peeking through cracks in the shutters of the windows on the front porch, they saw a typical family room, but it seemed abandoned.

Castillan banged loudly on the door. "Mr. and Mrs. Henderson?" he called. "We're from the castle - King Galrich asked us to check in on you." After verifying they were all set to go out into the greater world, the king had asked them to swing by the Henderson farm to check on them, since they hadn't been seen in half a week and the wheat they had been growing should have been harvested and brought to the castle by now.

There was no answer at the door. Castillan tried the knob; the door was unlocked. Opening it, he entered quietly, the other two behind him. Doing a quick check of the house, they found a kitchen, pantry, and bedroom - but no people. The Hendersons' nightclothes were hanging on hooks on the back of their bedroom door; whatever had befallen them had likely happened before nightfall, then.

Finoula rode her pony around to the left side the house, noticing the wheat field was only partially harvested. She returned the way she came, joining up with Ingebold and Gilbert as they were opening the side door to the smaller building. Inside, there was a small stable containing a mule, who snorted and scraped his hooves in irritation. Moving around the corner, Gilbert found a small wagon, apparently capable of being pulled by just the one mule. He called out to the Hendersons, but got no answer. He opened up the two wide doors that allowed the wagon egress from the small building, letting in the sunlight.

"Hey, what's this?" asked Finoula, picking up what looked to be a scrap of cloth in the corner. It had a pattern of scales; belatedly, the ranger realized it was a piece of the shed skin of a rather large reptile. Ingebold looked it over, then shrugged. She turned and exited the building; obviously they weren't here. However, upon exiting, a noise caught her ear. Walking over to behind the stable with Finoula in tow, the buzzing grew louder. As they turned the corner, they found a small pile of bloody bones and a veritable cloud of flies making the best of the sudden meal behind the small building.

Finoula gave a loud whistle to alert the group in the house just as they were exiting, and they headed over to see what was up. Gilbert, Castillan, and Darrien caught up with the women, but Binkadink slowed down as he approached the small garden.

"Do you think that's them?" asked Ingebold. "It looks like there are scraps of clothing in with the bones."

"It does," agreed Finoula. "Do you...want to try to sort them?"

"Sure, you go ahead, then," offered the dwarven cleric.

"I do it!" announced Gilbert, sidling up and stirring the bones around with his staff. Nobody seemed overeager to actually touch the bones, still wet in places with drying blood, but the wizard managed to sort them out into two main piles: it looked like a human and a dog. And a broken pitchfork with another scrap of sloughed-off, reptilian skin on it.

"Those clothes, they cut with blade," pointed out Gilbert. "Look: clean cut, no ripping like with claws."

Darrien was examining the ground, especially several drag-marks in a patch of dirt. "Looks like a giant snake," he offered.

"Hey, there's something over here!" announced Castillan. He pulled up a much larger section of sloughed-off skin, big enough to indicate the snake had what looked to be human-sized arms. The group exchanged looks. "A snake man?" asked Ingebold.

"They called 'yuan-ti,'" replied Gilbert.

"And three of them, I'd say," said Darrien, still examining the tracks on the ground. He could see where a dog had approached the area, and the prints of a man; he saw where the scuffle had taken place; he saw evidence of the snake-men hacking their slain victims to pieces, he could see where the yuan-ti had crawled over to the stable - probably to rest up after their meal - and where they had left again, some hours later. He tried tracking them as they headed back into the forest, but their distinctive traces in the dirt went away when they crossed a large section of stone. "They could have gone anywhere from here," he complained aloud.

"I don't want to be gory," said Finoula, "but if they went into the stables, why didn't they eat the donkey?"

"They probably full!" replied Gilbert. "They already eat grown man and big dog. They want sleep it off and go home!"

Meanwhile, Binkadink had entered the garden and approached a source of movement he had detected: underneath some overhanging foliage huddled a rabbit, munching away at some forbidden vegetables. He could see where the rabbit had dug underneath the small white fence around what he presumed was Mrs. Henderson's garden. Moving slowly, he started speaking the language of burrowing mammals. "Hello. Do not be afraid."

The rabbit eyed him warily, but continued to eat its meal.

"Did you see any bad monsters last night?" the gnome asked. "Big snakes, maybe?"

At that, the rabbit shuddered. Binkadink reached out and started stroking its fur, trying to get it to relax.

"Dog. Bark," the rabbit said.

"A dog, yes," encouraged Binkadink, still stroking it softly. "And then what happened?"

"Snakes. Bad. Snakes. Kill. Snakes. Bad. Bad. Snakes. Man. Fight. Kill. Man. Eat. Man. Hide. Snakes. Snakes. Bad. Bad." The rabbit started shivering again, recalling its fear from the night before, and expressing itself as best it could within the parameters of its limited intelligence.

"Was there a woman?" asked the gnome. "Snakes kill man. Woman escape?"

"Woman," agreed the rabbit. "Run. Fast."


"Away," said the rabbit, which Binkadink took to mean away from the garden - over to the left side of the house, then.

"Thank you," replied Binkadink. "You're safe now. Eat. Eat. Safe."

"Safe," echoed the rabbit, and returned its attention to its illicit meal.

Gathering back together as a group, the adventurers pieced together what had apparently happened. Three yuan-ti approached the Henderson farm from the Vesve Forest. The Henderson's dog started barking and raced over to confront them. Mr. Henderson likely grabbed up a pitchfork and went to investigate, but he and his dog were slain, carved up into pieces, and devoured on the spot. After a post-meal nap in the stables, the three yuan-ti went back to the forest the way they had come.

"So where's Mrs. Henderson?" asked Finoula.

"She went this way," replied Binkadink, leading the others to the far side of the farmhouse.

"How you know this?" demanded Gilbert.

"We had an eyewitness," replied Binkadink mysteriously.

Over on the other side of the farmhouse was a pair of slanted doors of the kind that normally led to a root cellar. Sure enough, there was a thick plank of wood on the ground to the side of the doors, no doubt a bar normally kept in place to keep any critters from getting into the root cellar. Castillan pulled open the doors and called down into the dark cellar, "Mrs. Henderson?" There was no answer.

Traipsing down the stairs, the group saw the typical contents of a farmhouse root cellar: two large barrels stood in the western corners of the room, while shelves in the back held a variety of canned goods, mostly jams, jellies, pickled vegetables, and fruit preserves. "Check the barrels," suggested Darrien.

The barrel in the southwestern corner was suspicious in that it couldn't be moved: it seemed to be bolted to the floor. Lifting off the lid showed the barrel to be empty, but the bottom of the barrel could be pulled up as well, revealing a short tunnel leading down for about five feet. A wooden ladder was propped against one side of the vertical shaft.

"I imagine she went this way," offered Darrien wryly.

"Let's go," replied Binkadink. "Somebody give me a boost up." The barrel was taller than the little gnome, even on tippy-toes.

There was no light in the tunnel beyond, which proved to be only about five feet high and circular in cross-section. It was aimed at more or less true south, and looked to remain on course for as far as the eye could see - even once Castillan activated a sunrod. "You're the shortest, and the slowest," pointed out the bounder to the gnome, handing him the sunrod. "You take lead."

"Very well," replied Binkadink.

The going was smooth, but monotonous. After what felt like a mile or so of heading in the same direction, the group heard scratching sounds from directly ahead, sounding very much like claws on stone. "Get ready," Binkadink warned. "I think we have a monster ahead." He steadied his grip on his glaive - which, longer than the tunnel was tall, had taken some maneuvering to even get into the tunnel and pointed the right way in the first place - and prepared himself for battle. Behind him, Finoula, Darrien, and Castillan all readied their bows. Gilbert and Ingebold were too far back to be able to see much of anything, and just concentrated on keeping up with the rest of the group.

The owner of the scrabbling claws came into view at the edge of the illumination from the sunrod and went scurrying straight at the little gnome. Binkadink tried pulling the glaive over to point it at the beetle, but it was too fast and the weapon skidded off the side of the creature's carapace. Cursing, Binkadink dropped the unwieldy glaive and pulled out his father's sword as the beetle's pincerlike jaws opened wide to bite the gnome in half.

Directly behind the gnome, Finoula shot an arrow at the beetle, the arrow flying over Binkadink's head. "Scoot!" called Darrien from behind Finoula, and she leaned over to the left side so the half-elf ranger could get off a shot as well. Then he in turn leaned over to the left, allowing Castillan to shoot likewise.

"Hey, it's our first fight as a group and we're already working out combat moves!" enthused Finoula.

"What going on?" demanded Gilbert. "I no see nothing from back here!"

But there wasn't much to see. Between three archers and a gnomish swordsman, the giant beetle was handily dispatched. After ensuring it was indeed dead, Binkadink picked up his dropped glaive and headed forward again. Before long, he found a spot where another tunnel ran into the one they had been traversing. A spot on the floor was covered in dirt and small rocks, and Finoula was quick to point out what looked like a woman's shoe print in the unearthed soil. Based on the shoe print, it looked like Mrs. Henderson had continued on south. Binkadink looked down the side tunnel anyway, just in case, and saw it sloped downward at a gentle angle and dead-ended after about 25 feet.

"Let's check it out, just in case," suggested Finoula. Shrugging, Binkadink backed up and maneuvered his glaive around the corner, then headed down the side passage, leading with his unwieldy weapon. The tip of it hit the back wall - and ripped through it, revealing it to be nothing more than a sheet of a canvas-like material.

"Interesting," remarked Darrien. "Let's check it out."

"But Mrs. Henderson's trail leads the other way," argued Ingebold.

"Yeah, but I don't want anything sneaking up behind us as we keep going the way we were going," countered Darrien. That seemed eminently sensible to the group, so they continued on, through a zigzagging passage that eventually led out into a much larger chamber. The sounds of picks hitting stone could be heard echoing from all directions.

But the sounds stopped all at once as the kobold miners saw the distinct glow of the sunrod in their lightless cavern. Moving in, their picks went from mining tools to weapons of potential slaughter - especially once they spotted a hated gnome among the intruders!

Spreading out into the cavern, the group took aim at the kobold miners. There seemed to be only four of them, which was a small enough force that the group was able to handle them without much trouble. But just as they were finishing off the miners, Binkadink called out that reinforcements were approaching from another tunnel leading into the larger cavern.

This pair of kobolds had wicked smiles plastered on their faces, and with good cause: they were armed with spears, and tied by a string dangling from the end of each spear was a little scorpion. Fortunately, Binkadink's glaive was longer than the kobolds' spears, so he was able to keep the closest one at bay long enough for Gilbert to sidle up behind the gnome, lean over, and cast a color spray spell which knocked one of the kobolds and both scorpions into instant unconsciousness.

Finoula called back to the others, asking if they wanted to keep the remaining kobold alive for questioning. Binkadink had just killed the second spear-wielding kobold with his glaive and was standing over the unconscious one, sword in hand.

"What that you say?" asked Gilbert.

"Do we want to leave one alive for questioning?" repeated Finoula.

"Oops - too late," said Binkadink - and then plunged the tip of his father's sword into the throat of the unconscious kobold. As a gnome, he well knew that the only good kobold was a dead one.

Finoula and Gilbert were in the easternmost part of the mine and started exploring in that direction. Seeing an opportunity, Gilbert cast a resistance spell on Finoula, applying it by slapping her on her butt and receiving a well-earned slap in the face in return, just as Ingebold spun around and saw two more spear-and-scorpion kobolds sneaking up from behind down the tunnel they had just come from. She whipped out her mace and prepared to give the full fury of a cleric of Moradin to those who would plunder what the Dwarven All-Father had put into the earth to be mined by dwarves.

However, Castillan had discovered a cage along the southern wall of the mine, inside of which was a wolverine, snarling at the scent of the blood that had been spilled nearby. Intrigued, Binkadink ambled over and introduced himself in the language of burrowing mammals.

"Hello, there. I'm a friend! Would you like out of the cage?"

"Kill!" replied the wolverine.

"Kill? Who do you want to kill? You don't want to kill us, do you? We're your friends!"

"Pole!" snarled the wolverine. "Hate pole! Kill pole!"

Thinking that perhaps "pole" meant the scorpion-spears wielded by the kobolds, the gnome indicated for Castillan to unlock the cage. Whipping out his thieves' tools, the bounder made quick work of the cage's lock. Still, he jumped back as the wolverine practically exploded out of the cage and made a beeline straight for Ingebold. "Incoming!" cried Castillan. Ingebold stepped off to the side, and the wolverine raced past her and leapt up at the kobold she'd been fighting, getting its teeth into its throat and tearing it to shreds. The other kobold, fully eager for combat when it was him and one other sneaking up behind those unaware of their presence, was suddenly no longer quite so eager for battle now that it was him all by himself against a group of adventurers and the wolverine they had kept in a cage until needed as an unwilling weapon. He turned and ran as fast as he could back up the inclined tunnel, the wolverine in fast pursuit. Darrien shot an arrow at the fleeing kobold, but it missed and then the two were gone.

Finoula, in the meantime, had managed to get herself into a fair bit of trouble. Exploring a passageway to the north, she encountered a kobold wearing a tattered robe of indeterminate color and holding a wand. She raced up to him, hoping to skewer him on her sword, but he raised his hands and called off the words to a spell. A sheet of flames fanned out from his fingertips, engulfing the ranger in fire. She screamed in surprise and pain, stepped back, and fell over.

"Cleric!" called out Gilbert, running as fast as he could to Finoula's side and swatting out the flames with a rolled-up sack from his rope belt. "We need cleric here, fast!" Ingebold came running over and cast a healing spell onto the now-unconscious elf. Finoula's eyelids fluttered and she sat up, surprised to be alive.

Binkadink, however, had picked up where Finoula had left off in fighting the kobold adept. Realizing his glaive was too unwieldy in the small antechamber the kobold had come from, he dropped it and raced into the room, sword in hand. There was a carved statue of a large kobold with rubies for eyes in the middle of the room, and behind it a door. There were all sorts of carvings on the stone walls of the chamber, but Binkadink had no chance to appreciate them, for climbing up from the kobold's back was a lithe weasel, which leaped off the kobold's shoulder and onto the gnome, biting and snarling. As Binkadink's attention was rightly focused on the weasel, the adept cast an obscuring mist spell and the room filled with foglike clouds.

"Get off me or I'll kill you!" warned the gnome, again speaking the language of burrowing mammals. The weasel seemed to consider its odds, then, reaching a decision, gave Binkadink's neck a final, quick chew and dropped to the floor, scurrying away to parts unknown. Binkadink, meanwhile, had heard the sound of a door opening and closing and knew exactly where the adept had gone. Kicking in the door behind the crude statue, he skewered the kobold on the blade of his sword. With a bloodthirsty smile, Binkadink considered his new career: had he known becoming an adventurer meant getting to kill kobolds, he'd have signed up long ago! Nasty creatures, kobolds!

Joined by Castillan and Gilbert, Binkadink gave the room beyond a quick search, but it contained merely a cot and a small chest containing a hammer and chisel - the tools, no doubt, with which the kobold adept had carved the runes on the walls in the chamber beyond - and possibly even the crude statue of Kurtulmak, the primary kobold deity, as well. However, closer inspection revealed a slab of stone on the floor underneath the cot that, when lifted away, revealed numerous chunks of silver ore. None of the chunks was too big for the adventurers to carry, but all in all there looked to be about 500 pounds of the stuff. Getting all of this back to the castle was going to take quite some effort!

Finally, the team had time to regroup. Binkadink drank down a healing potion from the small chest he wore like a pack on his back, making sure it was one of the "special" ones his uncle had concocted without taking any shortcuts. He offered a healing potion to Finoula, but she'd already been healed to full strength by Ingebold's spells.

"I take mage armor potion," suggested Gilbert, realizing gaining the effect from a potion instead of one of the few spells he could retain in his mind at one time only made sense while he was just starting his adventuring career; no doubt, as time went on, he'd be able to hold in his mind many more spells at once and casting a mage armor spell on himself would no longer be a luxury. Binkadink searched through the labels on the remaining potions and handed over one marked "mage armor" in Gnomish script. Gilbert unstoppered it and drank it down. His skin immediately started itching, and within mere moments had turned a bright shade of blue.

"What this?" Gilbert demanded. "I look ridiculous!" Binkadink merely shrugged helplessly; he wasn't able to stop his uncle from taking shortcuts, as the ways of magic - and potion-making - were well beyond his ability to comprehend.

"Let's move on," suggested Darrien, offering to scout ahead.

They found another tunnel sloping down, this one at a much steeper angle, but the ceiling had collapsed some time ago and it was blocked by heavy stones. Deeming it impassable, the group retraced their steps and found themselves at the top of a ledge overlooking a fast-moving, subterranean stream. About five feet across but fifteen feet down was a stone ledge, with a set of natural steps behind it leading up into a cave.

"If there are any other kobolds about, they'll be on that side of the stream," advised Darrien.

"Yeah, but shouldn't we be spending our time searching for Mrs. Henderson?" reminded Finoula. "We know she kept on going south at the intersection that led to the mine." After a brief discussion, they decided this area was safe enough for the moment, and retraced their way back to the original tunnel. Now, the dirt and gravel held not only the small footprints of the farmer's wife, but also those of a frightened kobold and an enraged wolverine.

The original tunnel continued on a straight course for some time before finally taking a turn to the left and coming to a circular tunnel surrounding a wide, circular column. There were noises coming from ahead; approaching cautiously, the group saw the wolverine they had released from its cage in rugged pursuit of the sole remaining kobold wielding a scorpion-on-a-spear, the two of them running round and round the circular column. Binkadink stabbed out with his glaive as the kobold ran past, nearly decapitating it. The wolverine ensured the kobold didn't live much longer after that.

Circling around the structure, the group found two things of interest: a pair of tunnels leading away from the stone column in two different directions, each seemingly as straight as the one they had followed from the Henderson farm; and a door on the far side of the column. Testing it, Castillan found it to be locked. On impulse, he knocked on the door and called out, "Mrs. Henderson?"

"Who's there?" asked a terrified voice from inside the column.

"We're friends," said the bounder in his most charming voice. "We were sent by King Galrich to see to your safety."

"Is Jonas there with you?" asked Mrs. Henderson.

"Oh dear," said Finoula, guessing who "Jonas" must be.

There was the sound of a metal bar being removed, and the door swung open. Inside what could be best described as a bunker, Frieda Henderson stood in her peasant's dress and apron, her eyes red from crying and worry. She looked at the assembled group and said, "He's dead, isn't he?"

Finoula stepped forward and took her by the arm, leading her to a bench. "I'm-- I'm afraid so," she replied sadly. Frieda buried her face in her hands and wept. Ingebold stepped forward and put her hand on the woman's shoulder, silently offering the grief-stricken woman her support. They let her cry herself out, then offered to take her back home.

"Is it-- is it safe?" she asked.

"Well, there's a kobold warren that dug into the tunnel leading to your farmhouse," replied Darrien. "We killed off a bunch of them, but there's likely to be more." Turning to the rest of the group, he asked, "What do you think, guys? Should we maybe take out the rest of the kobolds first, just to be safe?"

"That might be for the best," agreed Castillan. "What about you, Mrs. Henderson? Do you want to come with, or stay here until we've dealt with the kobolds?"

"I think I'll just stay here, if it's all the same to you," she said.

"Will ye be all right?" asked Ingebold. "One of us could stay with ye, if ye like."

"No, no, better that you stay together," replied Frieda. "I'll be here when you're finished."

"Okay then," said Finoula, patting her hand. Looking around, she saw that the bunker was stocked with plenty of nonperishable food, and there were warm blankets as well. "This is quite the safe haven," she commented.

"Jonas said the king had this bunker built shortly after the goblin and orcs started attacking the farmers," Frieda explained, sniffing. "There are tunnels leading to the Mastertons and the old Planker farmstead as well."

"Okay, then, we'll be back shortly," promised Binkadink. "Seal yourself back in after we've closed the door."

"I will," promised Mrs. Henderson. The group waited until they heard the sound of the bar being replaced in the door, then called out their farewells and made their way back to the cliffside overlooking the underground stream, encountering no other kobolds along the way. Castillan offered to jump across, but Gilbert tied one end of his silk rope around the bounder's waist first and passed him both a hammer and a piton. Castillan leaped gracefully across the span, landing lightly on his feet. Then he turned and started pounding the piton into the stone of the cavern floor with the hammer. By the time he was finished and had the end of the rope tied to the piton, every remaining kobold in the warren was aware of the adventurers' intrusion into their realm.

"Behind you!" called Finoula, shooting an arrow at a kobold head poking around the corner at the top of the natural stairs leading down to the solid stone "beach" where Castillan stood. The creature ducked back from the attack, but that was enough for Castillan to decide he liked it better with the rest of the group, up at the top of the farther ledge. He started climbing the rope, but in his haste his hand slipped and he plunged into the cold, clear stream below.

Up above, Gilbert's attention was focused on hammering a piton into the wall near the edge of the ledge and securing his end of the rope to it. But Darrien had a rope of his own, and he tossed one end of it down to the careless bounder. Castillan made a grab for it and missed, but he was in luck, for just around a bend the stream widened out and he was able to swim over to the side of a different stone "beach." Pulling himself out of the water, he saw another natural set of steps leading upward, and figured he could possibly flank the remaining kobolds from this direction.

Binkadink and Finoula, meanwhile, had availed themselves of the anchored rope and made it down to the original lower ledge, the gnome doing so by sliding down the rope in one gauntleted hand while holding onto the wolverine under his other arm. Gilbert attempted to follow suit, but lost his grasp and plunged into the cold water. Fortunately, he managed to grab Darrien's rope and used it to pull himself up to the ledge from where Binkadink was now heading up the narrow steps, a few steps behind the wolverine and a few more in front of Finoula. At the top, they were met by a quartet of kobolds holding a wooden battering ram, with dangling belts at the "pounding" end; with a sudden realization, Binkadink recognized the "pole" the wolverine had mentioned - no doubt the poor creature was strapped onto the end of the battering ram and the wicked kobolds went racing toward their enemies with a fear-crazed wolverine attacking everything within reach with its teeth and four sets of claws. The very thought did nothing to endear kobolds to the gnome's heart any further.

And the foursome weren't the only kobolds in sight; three others popped up from a depression in the center of the cavern, and over in the back an eighth kobold struggled with a large sack he wore on a strap that crossed over one shoulder.

Binkadink didn't give it much thought; he stabbed out with his glaive, impaling one of the ram-luggers through the midsection and causing it to flop to the floor, dead, just as the wolverine ripped the throat out of the kobold across the battering ram from the gnome's initial victim. With the front line taken out, the two kobolds in the back had a hard time keeping the front end of the battering ram elevated against their enemies. Finoula, directly behind Binkadink, sent an arrow into one of the kobolds struggling to keep the ram up. Gilbert popped up behind Finoula, blasting the last of the kobold rammers with a ray of frost. With a clatter, the battering ram fell onto the stone floor of the kobold cavern, one of the last two bearers crashing to the floor immediately thereafter. Binkadink took the opportunity to slide past Finoula and head over to the kobold struggling to pull something out of the sack at his waist. The gnome stabbed his glaive through the kobold's neck just as he pulled free a pair of weasels whose tails had been tied together with a section of braided leather rope. The weasels dropped to the floor and tried running in different directions; calling to them in their own language, Binkadink caused his glaive to fall down between them, slicing through the leather and releasing the living "weasel bola" weapon to escape as best they could. That left only two living kobolds in the room, and the three adventurers - and a blood-crazed wolverine - finished them off without much trouble.

The last kobold, however, had ducked off into a side chamber, a natural cave in which grew a wide variety of mushrooms and other fungus. Grabbing up a pole, the little reptile started prodding a large ball of compost towards the far side of the chamber, where his ears told him yet another of these devilish adventurers was even now ascending the natural stone steps leading down to the stream. Castillan got quite a surprise when he was run over by a smelly sphere of decaying matter, causing him to fall backwards back down the steps. He immediately felt significantly weaker from the ordeal; this was no doubt the result of the violet fungus tendrils interwoven into the decomposing mass. But by the time the bounder had returned to his feet, the triumphant kobold had been skewered from behind by one of Castillan's teammates.

A quick exploration around the kobold warren found no other members of the tribe, and nothing of value.

"How'd these guys even get here?" asked Castillan, puzzled.

Binkadink, knowing a bit about the ways of kobolds, explained the collapsed tunnel no doubt led deeper into the Underdark; most likely, the collapse had been on purpose, as a smaller tribe of kobolds split off on their own from a larger, parent tribe. This smaller tribe, in their mining explorations, had accidentally tapped into the underground passage that Mrs. Henderson had taken as she fled from the snake-men attacking her and her husband's farm.

"So that it," remarked Gilbert. "Our first adventure a success!"

"We should go get Mrs. Henderson, and see her to safety," reminded Ingebold. That went without any obstacles, and within the hour the group was back in the Henderson farmhouse. Frieda thanked them all for her rescue, and insisted upon rewarding the group with some canned preserves from her pantry. These were accepted with many thanks, and the group finished their time there at the farmhouse by digging two graves in the back yard, one for Jonas Henderson, and one for his faithful dog, Rufus.

Upon being apprised of the situation, the castle sent over some burly dwarven guards, who had been granted leave from their normal duties to see to the rest of the harvesting of the wheat the Hendersons had grown. While this was an entirely new experience for the guards, their dwarven work ethic saw the job completed in no time flat.

And the Kordovian Adventurers Guild had successfully completed their first mission, even though they had yet to leave the confines of their small kingdom.

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: solid gray, with no image. No surprise there, as it was the same session as the one in which we ran the first adventure. But the solid gray could also be used to represent the solid stone of the Underdark, from where the kobold tribe had come.



Game Session Date: 29 August 2015

This adventure was designed as pretty much one big encounter. I used the "Hill Country" Pathfinder Flip-Mat Logan had given me last Christmas, and placed a small cardboard tower keep I had made for one of the adventures in our previous campaign at the very top of the hill. Along the road at the edges of the map was a cliff with trees below; I explained to the players that we were going to ignore the cliff and assume the trees were at the same level as the road. The trees were part of the Vesve Forest, which marked one of the boundaries of the Kingdom of Kordovia.

- - -

The six members of the Kordovian Adventurers Guild were finally making their initial foray out of the Kingdom of Kordovia, taking one of the roads that led south. The vast and mysterious Vesve Forest stood to their left as they traveled down the winding road, still about a half mile from the edge of their kingdom. Ingebold sat in the front of the wagon, holding the reins of the party's two mules, Franco and Tantrum. Binkadink sat by her side, glad not to be walking - for the little gnome would find it difficult to keep pace with even the relatively slow speed at which they were plodding along. Castillan and Gilbert sat in the back of the wagon, watching the scenery go by. Darrien walked ahead of the wagon, scouting the road ahead, while Finoula rode alongside the wagon on her pony.

Rounding a curve, a stone garrison tower came into view on a small hill just off the road. There was a winding road leading up to it. Finoula waved to the two warriors on duty at the top of the small tower; they smiled down at her and returned her wave. The garrison tower had been built some 11 years ago, about a year after the first wave of orcs and goblins, attacks which had occurred every 6-12 months ever since. The attacks always came at night - no doubt due to the orcs' dislike for bright sunlight - and always from somewhere in the depths of the Vesve Forest. Due to these recurring attacks, the garrison soldiers generally slept during the day, doing their patrolling of the borders of the Vesve Forest during the night. As the last wave of attacks had been a mere three months ago, the general feeling in the kingdom was that there were still several months before they could expect their next attack.

However, Finoula's waving to the guards on duty was a fortuitous event, for she was looking up at them when they both suddenly froze and fell behind the battlements of the tower's rooftop.

"Guys!" she called out to her companions. "The guards are under attack!"

Castillan reacted almost immediately. Leaping off the side of the wagon, he began racing up the hillside road winding its way up to the garrison tower. Darrien, looking up from his position in the lead, turned and bolted back past the wagon, then followed the elven bounder up the hillside.

Ingebold pulled on the reins, bringing the mules to a halt. She had seen the narrow trail leading up the hillside, and there was no way the wagon - small as it was - would make it up there, as the path was carved into the hill, with steep walls on either side. There simply wasn't room for the wagon, so she tied the end of the reins to a projection on the wagon intended for just that purpose. Then she, Binkadink, and Gilbert jumped down from the wagon as well, the wizard following up the path in the wake of Castillan and Darrien.

Finoula gave a sudden cry and almost toppled from her pony. Looking forward, Binkadink saw those responsible: four sneaky goblins who had stepped out from between the trees of the forest and put their slings to good use against the elven ranger. Grabbing up his glaive in both hands, Binkadink charged forward as fast as his little legs would take him.

As he raced forwards, though, the rest of the attack force stepped out from the forest: a fifth goblin riding on the back of a worg and seven orcs. Binkadink swore silently to himself but continued charging forward, slicing through the neck of the nearest goblin with his glaive. The nearest orc raced up to attack the gnome, but Binkadink swung his glaive around and cut him down as well.

Hearing the fighting behind him, Gilbert spun around and started back down the hill, pulling out a potion from his belt and swigging it down as he ran, glad that they had earlier decided it made sense for the adventurers to distribute Winkidew's potions among themselves rather than have Binkadink carry them all in the little chest they had been stored in. The wizard felt the now-familiar itching sensation on his skin, which immediately changed hue to a bright blue. But it also gave him the equivalent of a mage armor spell, so the wizard didn't mind so much. In the meantime, Castillan and Darrien were too far up the hillside to have heard the sounds of combat, and continued up the winding path, each pulling out his bow as he ran.

Finoula forced her pony to race ahead, catching up to Binkadink just as the enemy forces reached the two of them. An orc swung at the little gnome and another threw a javelin at him; he found it easy enough to duck under the thrown weapon but at the expense of being hit by the swung falchion. And then up raced the worg-mounted goblin, who tried spearing the elven ranger with his javelin, wielding it like a spear. But Finoula slid off the other side of her pony, using it as shield - a rather terrified one, at that - between her and the overly large wolf baring its fangs at her.

Binkadink was the first to fall, slipping into unconsciousness after several hits from the stone weapons of various orcs. Ingebold raced up to heal him, while Finoula did her best to keep the others from reaching the unconscious Binkadink or get past her to reach her companions and the mule-cart behind her. A bright blue Gilbert Fung came running up behind Ingebold, beginning the words to a spell but not wanting to finish it until he was in the proper position.

Ingebold staggered back under the power of a thrown javelin, unable to reach Binkadink's prone form from the pressing advance of the orc forces. One particularly savage-looking specimen bent down and picked up the gnome's glaive, raising it over his head in a pumping fist and snarling out words in his own guttural language. Finoula, who had studied the Orcish language, mentally translated his yell as "I claim this steel as mine!" But then another barrage of orc attacks overwhelmed her, and she fell to the ground beside Binkadink.

Fortunately, by this time Castillan and Darrien had reached the top of the hill. The bounder leaped up onto a jutting rock, from which he could see the entire combat field below. He sent an arrow screaming down at the orc that had just reached down to grab Finoula's longsword from her unresistant grip, and the brute staggered under the assault but didn't fall. Darrien followed suit with an arrow of his own, hitting the worg-riding goblin and toppling him from his lupine mount.

The worg snapped out at the pony, who, although terrified beyond belief, was penned in by fighting bodies on all sides and unable to escape. In desperation, it struck out at the hungry worg with its hooves. It didn't connect, but it kept the worg's attention focused on it rather than any of the adventurers. Another bite from the worg and the pony went down, jets of blood pumping from its throat.

Finally getting himself into position, Gilbert cast a color spray, catching three orcs and the worg in its range. One of the orcs resisted its effects completely, but the other two and the worg were blinded and stunned, with the orc who had grabbed up Finoula's longsword as his own crashing down onto his vanquished foe's prone form as he succumbed to spell-induced unconsciousness.

Ingebold finally was able to cast a healing spell amidst all of the melee - but unfortunately, she was forced to cast it upon herself, realizing that if she were to fall the group would lose the majority of its healing abilities. Gilbert reached over to Finoula's belt and grabbed up a potion vial stored there. He unstoppered the top and poured the liquid down the elf's throat. Finoula sputtered but sat up, pushing the unconscious orc off of her and grabbing her sword back up.

Another orc had raced up and pulled Binkadink's sword from its scabbard, and while the longsword was scaled for use by a gnome, the orc didn't seem to mind the size difference - it was a bladed weapon, and it was made of steel; he'd gladly claim it for his own.

Up at the top of the hill, Castillan and Darrien continued their barrage of arrows down at the remaining enemies, but they also saw an unnerving sight: three goblins and an orc were scaling up the side of the hill. In less than half a minute, they'd no longer be the only ones up here on the higher ground.

Ingebold finally was able to heal up Binkdink, and more than a few of the heroes down in the midst of the battle were forced to avail themselves of Winkidew's questionable healing potions. It was then they discovered another of the gnomish potion-master's infamous "shortcuts" - the healing potions were so vile-tasting it took a considerable act of will to swig them down, and those without a suitably iron stomach were forced to spend a few moments immediately after imbibing the liquid upchucking the contents of their stomachs. Ironically, Ingebold and Gilbert both managed to hold down the nasty potions, and it was Binkadink who first started violently puking after being healed. The gnome felt weak from the sudden, violent upheaval and fervently wished it hadn't soaked into his beard; mentally, he upgraded himself from "Farty-Gnome" to "Barfy-Gnome."

Darrien shot the first goblin to make it up the steep side of the hill smack into his ugly face, and the creature toppled back down the hill at a much greater rate of speed than he had managed to ascend it. But the other two goblins climbed up with success, as did the orc. The trio advanced upon the two archers, who up until this point had enjoyed virtual invulnerability by dint of their distant perch. Darrien backed up and managed to drop the nearest goblin, but the others continued advancing. Soon they found themselves in melee combat, trading their bows for swords - longsword for Darrien; short sword for Castillan.

Fortunately, by that time most of the enemy combatants down below had been dealt with. Gilbert and Binkadink started slaying those who were still immobilized by the color spray spell, while Finoula battled feverishly with the wounded worg. The worg, much smarter than the normal wolf, had several wounds by this point, knew it had no chance of winning this fight, and was determined to sneak back into the safety of the forest where it could easily outrun its foes. But as it turned to speed away, the gnome, who had been watching the worg out of the corner of his eye, swung his glaive around and slit open the beast's side, spilling out a loop of intestines in a gush of bodily fluids. It fell and did not rise again.

Darrien and Castillan managed to finish off their own group of foes, and then the adventurers below gathered up their weapons and started up the hill. The group reconnoitered just outside the garrison tower.

"You hear anything?" asked Darrien in a whisper, as Castillan pressed his ear to the wooden door. The half-elf peered through one of the two arrow-slits flanking the door, seeing a darkened room containing what looked like crates of dried foods and barrels of water, with a narrow stairway leading up along the eastern wall. He had already tried opening the door; it was barred from inside.

"Nothing," admitted Castillan. "But we saw those guys at the top fall over, right? I'm going up there. Somebody give me some rope, and I'll drop it down to you once I'm up there."

Darrien passed his silken rope to the bounder, who put one arm and a head through the coils, wearing it diagonally across his torso. The he backed up a couple steps and sprinted at the wall of the tower, leaping up at the last minute and running up its vertical surface, the toes of his boots catching on the smallest irregularities between the stones of the tower's construction.

"That don't look like it even possible," commented Gilbert.

Reaching the top, Castillan crawled over the upper wall and tied off one end of the silk rope around a stone crenelation, then threw the remaining length down to the others.

"I'll go next," offered Finoula, scampering up the rope like she was born to the role.

"I don't think I want to climb that," admitted Binkadink. The tower's 30-foot height was even more impressive-looking when you were only three feet tall.

"Me neither," replied Gilbert. "I go through front door."

"You have a knock spell?" asked Ingebold.

"I no need knock spell," scoffed Gilbert. Then, imitating Castillan's actions of but a moment before, he backed up several paces then raced toward the tower. However, instead of leaping up the wall at the last moment, the heavyset wizard slammed into the door with his shoulder. His cry of pain upon impact was hidden by the sound of wood splintering as the bar on the other side snapped in half and the door itself followed suit, sending the wizard barreling through the remains of the door and through the empty room to slam into the opposite wall. The others followed him in, but at a much slower rate of speed - all but Darrien, who took the opportunity to scan the hillside around him to ensure there were no enemies coming up from behind them.

Up on the roof, a quick examination of the bodies showed Castillan that the two guards had been killed by a sharp implement - probably a javelin - having been thrust up between their legs and deep into their torsos. It was a particularly nasty attack, but one that made sense if you assumed goblin attackers, goblins being no taller than a gnome. As Finoula climbed up onto the roof and announced the others would be coming up from the ground floor, Castillan pulled open the trap door on the floor of the roof and cautiously stepped down the stairs just below. Finoula followed.

From the light spilling in through the open trap door, the two elves were able to see the three bunks stacked along the walls of the upper floor, two being three beds tall and the other holding only two. Each of the eight beds held a slain human warrior, his throat sliced open. Finoula winced at the loss of life, and then the two approached the stairs leading down to the second floor.

Down below, another figure stepped quietly down the stairs, this set leading from the second floor to the ground floor. The goblin rogue, upon reaching the bottom floor, threw his blood-tipped javelin at Ingebold. But Darrien, still outside the tower, saw the motion through the arrow-slit at the side of the broken door, and although the arrow-slits had been designed for those inside to shoot outside, they were equally effective going the other way. The goblin got quite a surprise when Darrien's arrow pierced the back of his head. He dropped where he stood, his stone dagger clattering to the floor.

Binkadink raced up the stairs, carefully maneuvering his lengthy glaive up the narrow stairwell before him. Upon reaching the second floor, he took a strike from a magic missile spell cast by the goblin sorcerer who had masterminded this plan. Gribblestack giggled in pleasure as the gnome staggered under the magical onslaught, but then the little fighter gritted his teeth and swung his glaive at the goblin spellcaster. The blade ripped into Gribblestacks' side, and the goblin's giggles turned to growls of incoherent rage.

At Gribblestack's side, the second of the goblin rogues - and the third of the trio Gribblestack had hand-selected to scale up the back of the garrison tower, invisibly, to slay the guards on duty and then make their way through the sleeping ranks - hurled his javelin at Binkadink. He did this as he raced past the gnome and up the stairs to the upper level, where he was met by Castillan, who had just started down the stairs. The elf swung his sword at the goblin, but the rogue ducked and the blade swung harmlessly over his head.

Down below, Ingebold and Darrien raced up the stairs to join the combat. Gilbert, out of his most powerful spells and armed with only his dagger, opted to stay where he was and try bluffing the goblins upstairs by pretending to deploy imaginary troops. "Ah, there you are, Captain!" he said in an overly-loud voice. "You get here just in time! Have your men surround the tower, so there no place for goblins to escape!"

But this final subterfuge was unnecessary, for the heroes on the floors above cut down Gribblestack and the sole remaining goblin rogue. Then they desperately searched the remaining bunks, hoping to find some survivors of this wicked attack, but they were without luck: the goblins had already slit the throats of every sleeping warrior in the garrison keep. It was with heavy hearts that they dragged the goblins outside, to be thrown into a heap of bodies alongside the orc and the other goblins Castillan and Darrien had slain earlier.

After a quick consultation, Finoula was sent back down the hill to the wagon, with Castillan as an escort. They steered Franco and Tantrum back the way they had come, back to the castle to report the unexpected assault upon the garrison tower and the slaying of the guards stationed there. The others, under Ingebold's direction, carefully carried the bodies of the slain human warriors out of the keep, to be placed carefully in ranks along the ground. The dwarven cleric positioned their arms across their chests and said the last rites over each of them. They had been denied the opportunity to be slain in battle, as befitted warriors of their kingdom, but she was sure Moradin would look down upon them with favor nonetheless.

It was the group's second real adventure, and they still hadn't made it past the outskirts of Kordovia.

- - -

This adventure raised some questions, which the players discussed among themselves after we finished playing. Why the sudden decrease in the span of time between orc and goblin attacks? Why the stone weapons (except for the javelins; they seemed to have been made of fire-hardened roots of some type)? There was speculation that the orcs and goblins might be running short of weapons after a dozen years of constant waves of attacks. There was also counter-speculation that this group of orcs and goblins might be a completely different group than those who had attacked in the past. But despite the speculations, there were no concrete answers.

The PCs down at the bottom of the hill each spent a lot of time being unconscious during this adventure; we got a lot of use of the "roll to see if you stabilize" rules. The PCs went through Winkidew's healing potions at an alarming rate - so much so that if they hadn't had them there would likely have been a PC death or two. Now they're all out of healing potions altogether, and will need to rely upon Ingebold's spells and the 5 charges left in her wand of cure light wounds. But they're also second level, so they each have a bit more hp to lose before dropping into unconsciousness. (Incidentally, we use the variant rule where a PC doesn't die at -10 hp but rather at -[Constitution score] hp. So Binkadink, with his 20 Constitution, had quite a lot of opportunities to stabilize before he was in any real danger of bleeding out.)

This adventure took us about three and a half hours to run, after which the characters had each reached second level. So we did something we've never done before: we upgraded each PC there at the kitchen table. Fortunately, I had made some changes to my adventure preparations for this campaign: now, at the end of each adventure as I write it, I tally up the total XP and the share of XP each PC gets. Since everyone started out at 0 XP and have all adventured together since, I'm able to project ahead how much XP they'll have at the end of the adventure, and whether they'll level up as a result. (This is something I was never able to do in our previous campaign, when most players switched out between two PCs of different levels and I never knew ahead of time which PCs would be going through any given adventure.) So I was able to have updated "Class Abilities and Feats" sheets printed out and ready to be placed into the PC folders. Similarly, I had an updated PC tracking sheet prepared for my own use; I only had to enter everyone's new hp totals before I was ready to go. (Since I had no way of knowing which new spells Gilbert would learn ahead of time, I had to jot down his spell choices so I could print out an updated spell sheet for him between this game session and the next. Incidentally, he chose grease and feather fall.)

But, since we had determined we could game from about noon to 6:00 or 6:30 this session, we went ahead and jumped straight into the next adventure after everyone had leveled up. And I guaranteed everyone that in their fourth adventure, they'd finally make it out of Kordovia. (They'd only make it as far as the next kingdom over, but I didn't tell them that.)

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: I don't have any orc or goblin T-shirts (well, not exclusively: I do have a D&D Silver Anniversary Tour T-shirt with various D&D monsters wearing party hats and carrying birthday presents, and I'm pretty sure there's an orc and a goblin among them), but I do have one with a wolf's head in the center, a US flag in the background, and a pack of wolves at the bottom. So I wore it to represent the sole worg among the goblin forces. It had the advantage of also being thematically appropriate for the next adventure, so it pulled double duty.
Last edited:



PC Roster:
Binkadink Dundernoggin, gnome fighter 2
Castillan Ivenheart, elf bounder 2
Darrien, half-elf ranger 2
Finoula Cloudshadow, elf ranger 2
Gilbert Fung, human wizard 2​

NPC Roster:
Ingebold Battershield, dwarven cleric 2 (Moradin)​

Game Session Date: 29 August 2015

This adventure, like the one before it, was designed as one big encounter. Also, as I'm rapidly running out of the desk calendar sheets that I habitually used to make my battle maps (it's a result of budget cuts at work: we used to have six desk calendars, one for each member of my six-person office, and I'd gather the six used sheets up at the beginning of each month; now, we only get one for the whole office, so I only get one new sheet per month), I've taken to using a new approach. I made an 8-by-10 table in Word with each row exactly one inch tall and each column exactly one inch wide. I print these out in quantity, and when I design my maps I try to stay conscious of the size of the geomorphs I'll need to build. This adventure called for a hunting lodge, which I designed to be able to fit inside the confines of two 8"-by-10" tables set side by side along their smaller ends, with a back patio of slightly smaller dimensions. So, four sheets of paper and I had my map layout. This also has the advantage of being able to fit inside a manila envelope when not in use; the desk calendars I turn into large geomorph battle maps I end up rolling up and sticking inside a toilet paper roll with the adventure's name written on it. I have several dozen such "desk calendar scrolls" stacked up between a filing cabinet and the wall in my "man cave" downstairs, and they're somewhat of a pain to get to when I'm looking to reuse a particular geomorph map.

- - -

The six members of the Kordovian Adventurers Guild all sat in the wagon as Ingebold drove the two-mule team through the streets of the small town of Collinsdale, east of the Velverdyva River in the kingdom to the south of Kordovia. Spirits were relatively high, as the heroes had, for the first time, actually made it outside the confines of their own small kingdom.

A carriage approached them from the other direction, pulled by two strong-looking black stallions. Suddenly, two half-orcs jumped off of the back of the carriage and stood in the street, blocking the progress of Franco and Tantrum. Castillan took immediate notice and prepared himself for combat, not appreciating being accosted by those of orcish blood. Sure, he had long since accepted the fact that King Galrich himself was a half-orc, but he was an exception; the racial hatred between orcs and elves ran deep in the bounder.

Ingebold pulled on the reins and the mules obediently came to a stop. Castillan stopped himself from drawing his sword once he processed the full picture of the two half-orcs standing before him. They were dressed in upper-class finery, with silk shirts and tailored vests - why, they even wore gloves! "What's going on?" the elf demanded, nonetheless.

"Our mistress would like a word with you," responded one of the burly servants. At that, a young lady popped her head out of the carriage window. "Are you actually adventurers?" she asked incredulously.

"Aye, we are," admitted Ingebold cautiously.

"Oh, this is excellent!" squealed the young lady. "I'm Bunnihilde Cavelthorne - my friends call me Bunni - and I'm having my coming-out party tonight! But I ran into a bit of a problem earlier this week with some lowlife, and I'd like to beef up the security at my party, just in case he shows up and causes trouble. What do you say? I'm sure Daddy wouldn't mind hiring you on as extra security."

"Really?" asked Castillan. "For how much, may I ask?"

"For real adventurers? How does 100 gold apiece sound?" That sounded extremely good to the heroes, but first Finoula wanted some more information about this earlier encounter with the "lowlife." If they were being hired as protection, she wanted to know who they'd likely be up against.

"Some gutter rat," replied Bunni. "He dressed in rags, and looked like he hadn't bathed in a lifetime. Anyway, he just sauntered up to me as I was climbing into my carriage, bold as you please, and informed he he had decided I was going to be his mate. Can you imagine? The impertinence!"

"So what did you do?" pressed Finoula.

"Why, I had my two bodyguards thrash the impertinent scum!" sniffed Bunni. "They gave him a sound beating and then threw him into the gutter, along with the rest of the gutter rats. So what do you say? Will you come to the party as extra bodyguards? I'm sure Daddy will agree!"

The heroes looked among themselves, and each saw the same thought on the face of the others: 100 gold pieces - each - for a single night's work?

"We'd love to," announced Castillan, the smoothest-talking of the group. "It would be our deepest honor."

"Excellent!" squealed Bunni, and started giving the group directions on how to get to her father's hunting lodge, out against the edge of the mighty Vesve Forest. "The party starts at 6 bells - it would be best if you were there about two hours early, so Daddy can show you around and you can familiarize yourself with the lodge. Oh! And you'll need costumes - never mind, I can get those for you! Okay then, see you at four bells this afternoon!" And Bunni popped her head back into the carriage window and closed the curtains. The two half-orc bodyguards leaped back onto the back of the carriage, and the driver, with the snap of a whip, sent the two stallions racing off.

"Quite a charming young lady," admired Castillan, to which Finoula only wrinkled her nose in disgust. She supposed Bunni was pretty enough - for a human, that is - but Finoula wasn't particularly thrilled with a full-blooded elf like her bounder companion leering after a human girl, pretty or not. Why, those kinds of thoughts eventually led to the birth of half-elves like her little sister Feron Dru, and there was really no excuse for such dilution of elven blood.

"What kind of name 'Bunni' for daughter of nobleman?" asked Gilbert.

- - -

By four bells that afternoon, Ingebold had driven the mules to the Cavelthorne hunting lodge - Bunni's directions had been easy to follow - and, at the direction of Lord Henry Cavelthorne, parked both the wagon and the mules behind a smaller building off to the side of the lodge. Now the nobleman was showing off his hunting lodge to the assembled adventurers.

"So, adventurers, are you?" asked Lord Cavelthorne. "Excellent, excellent. I've often admired the adventurer's life. Of course, my business pursuits don't allow me the time to follow such a path myself, but I daresay I get much the same experience through my hunting exploits. Come, let me show you my study! I've got a taxidermist on staff, he does quite excellent work. I shot that bear in the Great Hall there myself, with but three shots from a shortbow!" Lord Cavelthorne seemed quite pleased with having a sextet of actual adventurers hired on for the night as additional security, especially after Bunni explained the unpleasantness with the mangy sewer rat. And he didn't even flinch at the thought of paying them each a hundred gold coins for a night's worth. Seeing how easily he agreed to Bunni's quoted price, Castillan was tempted to try to raise their salary but ultimately chickened out at the thought of Lord Cavelthorne balking at the price increase and cancelling their employment altogether. It looked like they had a good thing going here; no sense in allowing greed to ruin it.

Lord Cavelthorne gave the group a quick tour of the lodge, pointing out the various features. It had three guest bedrooms besides the two reserved for Bunni and himself; a large dining room and spacious kitchen; his massive study just off the Great Hall, both filled with the preserved remains of animals he had slain while hunting (and the study sported a bunch of fish he had caught, as well). A vast wooden patio stood behind the lodge, where the majority of the party would be held; just to the side was a raised wooden platform where the musicians would be stationed.

As the adventurers took in the layout of the lodge, all manner of bustling about took place all around them. Extra wait-staff had been couriered in from his mansion in town. These ladies all wore gowns and wings fashioned to make them look like fairies, nymphs, and other fey-folk. The musicians, who trickled into the area in small groups or singly, all wore animal costumes of some type or another: there was a humanoid pig carrying a lute, a fox-headed violinist, several bird-people playing the flute, and so on.

"Oh, you'll need your costumes!" gushed Bunni, who had sauntered up while her Daddy showed the group around. "I didn't have time to have actual costumes crafted for you at such a short notice, but these should do just fine!" She passed out an amulet to each of the heroes. "Put them on!" she said excitedly.

Binkadink put the amulet offered him around his neck. Instantly, his features seemed to twist and blur, reassembling to take on the shape of a goblin. Oh, great, he thought to himself, I'm a goblin.

Castillan put his amulet on, and the effect was much more subdued, for his leather armor changed hardly at all, but his skin darkened to almost pure black as his hair bleached itself white. "You're a drow!" squealed Bunni, shaking her clenched fists in excitement.

Gilbert put on his amulet and took on the shape of a myconid. "Look," he said. "My name Gilbert Fung...gus!" Then, just to be sure, he pulled the amulet back off, ensuring there were no lasting effects. There weren't; the illusion manifested only as long as the amulet was worn. Satisfied, he put the amulet back on and became a phony myconid once again.

Finoula wasn't exactly thrilled to take on the appearance of a medusa, nor Ingebold a harpy, but neither voiced their complaints. After all, a hundred gold pieces bought quite a bit of endurance of silliness. Darrien didn't seem to mind spending the evening appearing to be a mangy gnoll; he knew himself for who he was, and that was all that mattered.

"You guys all look great!" enthused Bunni, clapping her hands (No doubt at her own cleverness, thought Finoula to herself).

"And what will you be wearing?" Finoula asked Bunni.

"Oh, you'll have to find out when I'm presented at the party!" replied Bunni.

"Actually, I think it would be better if we all knew ahead of time what you'll look like during the costume party," replied Finoula. "After all, if we're to protect you, we'll need to know which one is you."

"She's right, Sweety-Bunny," replied Lord Cavelthorne.

"Oh, I suppose," groused Bunni, then brightened at the thought of getting to describe her most excellent costume. "I'm going to be a witch-princess!" she enthused. "With a big, flowing cape, and a shiny wand, and everything!"

"You might want to go get ready," suggested Lord Cavelthorne. At that, Bunni bounded off to her room, a stoic Finoula following in her wake. After all, it was in everyone's best interests if there were a bodyguard with Bunni at all times, and the only two available while she changed clothes were Finoula and Ingebold, and the ranger didn't trust the dwarf not to be too blunt to the nobleman's daughter. Castillan's expression said he wouldn't mind being Bunni's escort while she changed; Finoula's equally wordless expression said to forget it, buddy.

Six bells came too soon, and several dozen guests made their appearances, each wearing an elaborate costume of some type. The adventurers had been dispersed all around the lodge: the two half-orcs (now dressed in full "savage orc tribesmen" garb) were stationed at the front doors, so they could check the guests' invitations; Gilbert stood on guard inside the lodge, ensuring nobody entered the hallway leading to the bedrooms; Binkadink and Finoula were on the patio in back, mingling with the guests; Castillan walked in long arcs along the perimeter; and Darrien had been boosted up onto the roof, where he looked over the excitement on the patio. The first hour went smoothly; the heroes noticed that quite a few of the nobility had brought along their own eligible bachelor sons and nephews; this was, after all, a celebration of Bunni's 18th birthday and her subsequent elevation into the ranks of potential marriage material among the nobility of the kingdom.

Not unexpectedly, Bunni opted not to make her appearance until about 7 bells, to increase the anticipation and make her entrance all that more memorable. She was announced by her proud father, who then took her by the arm and formally introduced her to each of the guests. Bunni was radiant, basking in all of the attention focused her way.

Darrien, up on the roof, was the first to notice the sudden influx of new arrivals. These were rabbits, bounding in from the Vesve Forest in ones and twos, and then in entire family groups, merging together into vast swathes of brown, tan, white, black, and gray fur. "Hey!" he called out from above. "Incoming -- rabbits!"

The guests at the edges of the deck looked and saw the bounding bunnies headed their way and murmured appreciatively, assuming this was all part of the festivities. "Oh, very good show!" one guest called, and "Well done, Cavelthorne! How ever did you do it?" asked another. Lord Cavelthorne turned at the question with an inquisitive stare, not entirely sure what the question was about.

And then the bunnies started biting.

The guests cried out in shock as the rabbits began chomping down on their shins and leaping up to reach higher on the guests' bodies. One noblewoman fell backwards in trying to make her escape and was instantly engulfed, crazed rabbits biting her face, her neck, her arms. She screamed, and those on the deck who hadn't noticed the encroaching rabbits before were all suddenly aware of them now.

Finoula grabbed Lord Cavelthorne by his arm and said, "We need to get you inside, sir." He in turn had Bunni by the arm, and she was absolutely shocked at this violation of her party. "Daddy!" she cried. "Do something!"

Binkadink had approached the nearest swarm of rabbits and spoke to them in their own language. "What are you doing?" he asked them.

"Bite! Kill! Frenzy!" was their only response.

"You must stop!" pleaded the gnome. "You do not want to hurt these people!"

"Kill! Blood! Bite!" they replied.

One particular rabbit hopped over and stabbed at a guest who had fallen to his knees, the spiral horn on the creature's head penetrating the would-be suitor's chest. His heart pierced, he cried out in agony - and then froze in place, his entire body having been turned to stone in an instant. The almiraj leaped away, seeking new prey.

Castillan ran over to join Finoula and Binkadink at the deck, and the three started herding the guests into the lodge via the double doors at the center of the building's back wall. Another door to the east led to the kitchen, but there was a large swarm of rabbits there and nobody was willing to try that entrance. The door to the west was locked, as it led to the residential hall and had been made off-limits to the guests. Some of the musicians, seeing the carnage before them, had stopped playing and had leaped from their wooden platform to the grass behind them. A few started to run around the west side of the lodge, especially now that two dire rabbits had joined the rabbit swarms that had flowed out of the forest. These rabbits were each the size of a small pony, and Binkadink judged the heroes lucky that there were only the two of them.

Gilbert exited from the lodge, fighting his way past the guests streaming in through the same double doors. "This crazy!" he announced, seeing the chaotic scene all around him. He immediately cast a color spray into the mass of fuzzy bodies, incapacitating a clump of frenzied rabbits and one of the dire rabbits. Then he helped push the surviving guests still on the patio into the lodge behind him.

One musician, standing alone on the raised platform, seemed unperturbed by the chaos all around him. While one of his compatriots, a heavyset man in a bird mask, tried climbing underneath the musicians' platform to seek some sort of safety there, the lone performer stood at rapt attention, his entire focus being given to the tune he was even now playing on a set of wooden pipes. Darrien was suspicious, and called out to the others, "Guys! Check out that guy in the bunny costume!"

Looking over at the lone musician, Castillan saw that he was indeed wearing a bunny costume - and a particularly ill-fitting one at that. Pulling out his shortbow, he reached behind him for an arrow from the quiver at his back. While Finoula was herding the last of the guests inside the lodge - those who were still living, as quite a few had been overcome by the bloodthirsty rabbit swarms - and closing the doors, Binkadink saw the latest arrival to the party: a creature the same size, shape, and general build of the two dire rabbits, but this one sporting an impressive rack of antlers growing from his head. He approached the musician as if to attack him, but then turned away at the last moment and sought elsewhere for his prey.

At the same time, there was a cry from underneath the musicians' platform, as the man who had sought safety there was slain. Crawling out from underneath the platform was a strange form: an artificial humanoid made from plants, its head carved from a small gourd. The gourd leshy stalked over toward Castillan, preparing to do some sort of mischief to the bounder, whose attention was focused on the performer in the bunny suit.

Darrien was having none of it. From his perch atop the roof, he let fly with an arrow from his longbow, piercing the gourd leshy through its head. The arrowhead protruded through the creature's chin and it staggered, nearly destroyed with one well-placed shot. Binkadink finished it off with a blow from his gnomish glaive.

Castillan let fly with his own arrow, striking the musician in the bunny suit in the arm, just before the bounder was overcome by a swarm of leaping and biting rabbits.

"Ow!" he cried, dropping to the ground.

"Ow!" echoed the musician in the bunny suit, dropping the pipes from his lips as he grabbed his bleeding arm in his other hand.

As soon as the music stopped, the rabbits (and various rabbitlike creatures) all stopped as well. Those unaffected by Gilbert's spell blinked their eyes in confusion and started loping away in panic, returning back to the relative safety of the forest. The antlered jackalope looked around in puzzlement as if just awakening from a deep sleep. Castillan, no longer being chewed upon by scores of rabbit teeth, staggered to his feet, bleeding from a dozen wounds. He desperately needed a healing potion, but the group had finished all of those off while fighting the orcs and goblins at the garrison tower the previous day. So, wanting to stay away from further melee combat but still wishing to do his part, he scrambled up the side of the lodge to join Darrien on the rooftop.

The musician, mirroring the fleeing rabbits, started fleeing as well, following the rest of the performers who had headed around the west side of the lodge. He still cradled his bleeding arm, but after a few muttered words the wound magically healed up. He said a few other words as he rounded to the front side of the lodge and a timber wolf loped up to him, eager for instructions.

"We're getting the girl," snarled Gunter Mossbriar, opening the front doors and allowing the wolf into the lodge, while Darrien and Castillan rained arrows down at him from the roof.

By this time, Finoula had positioned the guests to safety and flung off her amulet, tired of looking like a medusa. Lord Cavelthorne and his daughter were inside his study, the sole door to which was being guarded by the two half-orc servants. Those guests who had fled inside to safety had been lined up against the two sides of the Great Hall, out of the way. Gilbert had re-entered the Great Hall from the back deck, and stood ready to cast spells as needed.

On the back deck, Binkadink had a sudden inspiration. Approaching the jackalope and speaking softly and reassuringly in the language of burrowing mammals, he asked, "Would you like to help me catch the bad man who made you try to be bad?"

The jackalope thought for a mere moment before giving his assent.

"Can I climb up on your back?" asked the gnome.

"Ha!" laughed the jackalope, amused by the concept, but he allowed the gnome to crawl up onto his back. Then he raced around the corner of the lodge, reaching the front door just after Gunter had entered.

"Give me the girl, and nobody else gets hurt!" announced the druid. He had abandoned the bunny mask of his costume, allowing himself to see much better. After all, the costume hadn't been made for him but rather one of the other musicians - specifically, the one whose body Gunter had stuffed underneath one of the beds in a guest bedroom after having lured him there before the party started, among all of the hustle and bustle of preparation. And then, after Bunni's grand entrance to her own party, he had played the tune on the pipes he had crafted just for this occasion.

Of course, his original plan was to have constructed a pair of pipes of the sewers, with which to summon vast swarms of rats to overcome Bunni's guests and allow him to take her away with him as his unwilling bride. The rats would have been particularly appropriate, Gunter thought, after she had referred to him as a sewer rat while she sicced her half-orc oafs upon him. But constant thoughts of Bunni had swum to the forefront of his mind as he labored on the pipes, and somehow they had been corrupted, summoning bunnies instead of rats when he had first tested it. But he hadn't had time to craft another set of pipes, and bunnies should have done the job as easily as rats, so he carried on with his original plan.

But now these additional members of Cavelthorne's security staff were threatening to ruin his plans altogether.

"You no take girl!" announced Gilbert. In response, Gunter motioned with his finger and the timber wolf raced forward, biting at the nearest target - one of Cavelthorne's half-orc servants. Finoula stepped up and helped him fight off the beast, while Gilbert strode up boldly to the enemy druid. Gunter looked to be on his last legs, bleeding from some arrow-strikes that he hadn't had the healing spells on hand to deal with. Acting on a hunch, Gilbert opted to forego the spell he had planned on using, and instead slammed the back of his dagger into the back of Gunter's head. Gunter went sprawling onto the floor, unconscious, as the wolf Finoula and the half-orcs had been fighting disappeared, being returned from wherever it had come from before getting snagged up in Gunter's summon nature's ally spell.

The danger over, the heroes allowed Lord Cavelthorne and Bunni out of the study. Bunni, furious, positively identified the unconscious druid in the ill-fitting bunny suit as the "sewer rat" who had indecently propositioned her the other day. She gave him a kick in the side of his head for good measure, before her father pulled her away from him and had his servants bind Gunter with sturdy ropes. "He'll pay for the lives lost at the teeth of his...rabbit army...goodness, that sounds rather ridiculous when you say it aloud, doesn't it?" Still, Lord Cavelthorne was impressed with the heroes' efforts in keeping both him and his daughter safe, and in capturing the man responsible for the deaths of the party-goers. There would likely be some fuss about the deaths of some of the guests, but they were all nobility with relatively large doubt, their estates would have them resurrected in no time. Lord Cavelthorne might even have to chip in a bit on the cost, but no matter: his Sweety-Bunny was safe, and that was all that mattered.

As for the heroes: they were all going to get paid, and that was all that mattered to them....

Outside, Binkadink dismounted the jackalope. "It looks like we missed the excitement after all," he said. "By the way, what's your name?"

"My name is 'Obvious,'" replied the jackalope.

"Obvious?" asked the gnome. "Hmm, let me think...'Horny?' 'Antlers?'"

"No, 'Obvious,'" laughed the jackalope, thinking this was a very silly gnome indeed. But the mental light came on in Binkadink's head, and he suddenly got it. "Ah, 'Obvious' is your name," he reasoned. "Why are you called 'Obvious,' if I may ask?"

"When I was little, we played 'hide-and-go-find,' my brothers and sisters and I. I never hid as well as they did. They always found me, easily."

"Makes sense," admitted the gnome. "Well, my name is 'Binkadink.'"

Obvious thought this was a particularly hilarious name. "'Binkadink' doesn't mean anything!" he laughed. "You're funny!" But he agreed to serve the gnome as a riding mount, as long as he was properly fed. Free food, just for carting around a little gnome on his back? That was a pretty good deal.

And Binkadink had been concerned that his size would be a hindrance to the rest of the group, since the elves, human, and half-elf were all nearly twice his size. He'd been giving some thought to maybe getting a riding dog, like the halflings he'd heard of tended to ride around on. But an opportunity for a jackalope mount, one he could actually speak to and have understand?

The choice was Obvious.

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: Since this adventure took place on the same day as the "Garrison Duty" adventure, I was wearing the same wolf T-shirt. And again, I don't have any "bunny" related shirts in any case, so this shirt pulled double duty by also representing the timber wolf that Gunter Mossbriar summoned.
Last edited:



Game Session Date: 19 September 2015

As twilight approached, the temperature dropped and mist started rising up along the ground – it looked like the Kordovian adventurers were in for a cold, damp night. They'd opted to sleep out in the open the night before, after having been paid by Lord Cavelthorne, but the weather then had been much nicer: a clear, warm night filled with bright stars - not like tonight, with no stars visible at all through the overcast skies. They'd made a brief return to the village of Collinsdale to pick up some healing potions and scrolls from a small magic shop, Finoula had purchased a pony which she named Daisy, and then the group continued south on their quest for adventure. It had been an uneventful day, full of pleasant scenery but with little in the way of treasure accumulation.

Ingebold shook the reins, urging the mules to a faster speed, hoping to find a town before visibility dropped to nothing. Fortunately, a faint light became visible just ahead. As they got closer, the heroes could make out a small cluster of buildings, among them a two-story wooden structure with a sign denoting it "The Kettlepot Inn." Just outside the inn were a communal well and a small, stone structure, about waist-high to a human, standing in what looked to be the middle of the small farming village.

"All right!" exclaimed Castillan. "We can sleep inside tonight!"

"We'll see," replied Ingebold, unsure if she were willing to spend the group's accumulated money on mere conveniences when it could be returned to Kordovia, where it was much needed to purchase arms, weapons, and the skills of mercenary fighters to help protect against the orcs and goblins of the Vesve Forest.

"Oh, come on," wheedled Castillan. "We're talking a couple of gold coins, tops. I'll even pay."

The elven bounder's predictions turned out to be correct; years of living in similar inns and taverns in Kordovia had apparently given him a strong foundation of knowledge about such things. The owners of the Kettlepot Inn, a human couple named Trent and Darcy Godfrey, charged 5 pieces of silver per night for a bed. Three more pieces of silver purchased a meal for the evening, a thick lamb stew and fresh cornbread. Even with the price of several mugs of ale apiece, the bill totaled only a bit over 5 gold pieces; Castillan happily tossed over 6 gold coins and refused any change.

There were a few locals in attendance that night, there for the food, the ale, and the company, but none besides the adventurers took any rooms. Once the locals found out the strangers were adventurers, they were filled with all sorts of questions about their exploits. Castillan, the most well-versed in tavern tale-telling, was more than happy oblige with action-packed stories of their scant exploits thus far, coached in such a way as to lead those listening into believing these were just a few of a vast stock of such daring adventures.

The locals had some stories of their own, too. One farmhand told the tale of a one-eyed fish he'd caught in a creek not too long ago; another farmer gave his neighbor a hard time about the black mustang that only seemed to ever show up when there was nobody else around to witness it. And Darcy explained about the stone object out by the well: it was all that was left of their obelisk to Pelor, which some vandals had smashed up about a week ago. The small village's own Dolbry Mason had determined it couldn't be fixed, but was working on a replacement he said should be ready in a couple of days. "In fact," Darcy said, "he's probably down in his shop right now, working on it. It's just down the hill from us a bit."

By about eight bells, the locals - most of them farmers, and used to farmers' hours - finished up their drinks and headed out into the thick mist to return to their own homes. Darcy bid the heroes a good night, leaving her husband Trent to tend to any of their further needs. The four teens that worked at the inn - Tulia and Chelsea, the serving maids, plus hired hands Chebbly and Grant - all retired to their two shared rooms in the residents' wing of the inn, bidding the heroes a good night as well. (Tulia even favored Castillan with a wink and a smile.) But the adventurers, not wanting to keep Trent up too late, finished their drinks and headed up to their rooms. They had rented three rooms, each holding two beds: the ladies had a room to themselves, while Gilbert and Castillan shared another and the third was split by Binkadink and Darrien. As the Kettlepot Inn lacked a stables, the mules and pony had been left with their bridles tied to a hitching post, where they had access to rainwater accumulated in a rough trough. Obvious curled up underneath the wagon, which they had parked next to a clump of trees off to the side of the inn.

Sleep came easily to the group - or at least to those who slept; Castillan and Finoula slipped into their nightly trances, letting their minds wander over their accumulated decades of memories. All was quiet in the Kettlepot Inn and its surrounding environs, the silent mist wrapping the structure in a cocoon of tranquility...for all of about six hours.

Several hours past midnight, a piercing scream broke the silence of the night. Upstairs, four of the heroes snapped to attention, leaping up out of bed and grabbing up weapons, while Ingebold and Gilbert slept on. But their roommates shook them awake.

"What's happening?" asked Ingebold, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"There was a man's scream from downstairs," replied Finoula, grabbing up her matched swords. Next door, Castillan was opening the door to his room and peering out over the railing to the common area below. In the dim light of the glowing embers from the fireplace, the bounder's elven eyes could pick out two shapes in the room below. They seemed to be embracing - at least, until the sound of ripping flesh alerted Castillan to the fact that one of them had just taken a chunk of flesh out of the other's neck. Bleeding profusely, the innkeeper Trent Godfrey - clad only in his nightshirt - fell to the floor. The other figure bent over him, ripping out hunks of his flesh and greedily gobbling them down.

Castillan went to the other bedrooms and ensured his companions were up and ready, as Darrien crept down the hallway and positioned himself for a bowshot at the hunched-over figure. Binkadink tapped into his gnomish heritage and conjured up a set of dancing lights, which he positioned in the air above the common room. The sudden illumination confirmed what those of elven background had been able to see in the dim light: Trent was dead on the floor, while a zombie hunched over him, devouring his rapidly cooling flesh.

Binkadink raced down the stairs as fast as his gnomish legs would carry him, but was still passed by Finoula, her swords in hand. Upstairs in the hallway, Ingebold tried turning the zombie, but her sleep-deprived state likely interfered with her concentration for the effort had no visible effect. Standing next to her, Gilbert cast a grease spell on the floor underneath the zombie's feet. Castillan had leapt over the railing and onto a table near the zombie, but he landed poorly and set a candle and its holder clattering noisily to the floor. The zombie rose up to attack the bounder, but a combination of Darrien's well-placed arrow and Gilbert's spell had the undead thing sprawling to the floor.

Castillan took the opportunity to leap over to the next table, then step down to close the front door, which was wide open and letting in a stream of white mist. He put the thick, wooden bar in place while he was at it, just in case there were any more zombies out there waiting to get in.

On the floor behind Castillan, the zombie rose back up, but Finoula was ready and cut it nearly in twain. It fell to the floor and did not rise again. The ranger noticed that this one was wearing not only a full set of clothes but also a leather apron; this was likely the stonemason, Dolbry.

"It looks like that's it," Finoula said, turning to the others. Gilbert and Ingebold were heading down the stairs, while Darrien remained at his station and gave the whole place a once-over, verifying for himself that there were no more enemies at hand.

It was at that point in time that Trent rose back up to his feet. He managed to steady himself on the still-slippery floor, but that was enough for the group to see that he no longer numbered among the living: his neck had been chewed through to the bone and rivulets of blood still poured from the open wound. But he turned toward Castillan, whose back was turned to the former innkeeper as he secured the front door, gave an inarticulate cry of hunger, and pounced at the unwitting bounder. Fortunately, Trent's feet slipped out from underneath him and he crashed back to the floor.

"Trent?" came a cry from the back of the room, by the door behind the bar.

"Uh, oh," sighed Gilbert. "This not good." He rushed through the common room to prevent Darcy from racing up to her now-undead husband. "You no want to go over there," he cautioned the innkeeper's wife.

But then things took a turn for the even more strange. Trent's undead form managed to regain its feet, the grease spell having run its course - but so did Dolbry Mason's corpse, which mere moments ago had been hacked nearly in twain. Finoula involuntarily took a step back, seeing that her deep sword-cut had partially healed back up, if "healed" was indeed the word for it. Darrien let fire from above with another arrow, wisely selecting Dolbry as his target, not wishing for Darcy to see him seemingly to "murder" her husband. The arrow struck true, piercing through Dolbry's skull and popping partially out the back. Dolbry fell over again, having once again taken enough damage to take him out of action.

But this time, having seen him come back from such seeming destruction before, Castillan sent his short sword crashing through the stonemason's neck, sending his severed head spinning over to land at Gilbert's feet. The creature's head snapped its bloodstained teeth at the portly wizard, trying in vain to bite him.

Binkadink wasn't as concerned about Darcy's feelings as he was about protecting the assembled group; his gnomish glaive came crashing down on the innkeeper's body, slicing a deep groove into its unliving flesh. Darcy gave a cry and fell to her knees, sobbing, but she'd seen the thing her husband had become and welcomed its destruction. Ingebold obliged by bashing his face in with her warhammer.

"I think maybe we don't take any chances," suggested Gilbert, pulling up Dolbry's severed head by his hair and tossing it into the fireplace atop the glowing embers. Immediately, a sizzling sound filled the room as the head caught fire and burned away, its terrible teeth continuing to snap until the muscles and tendons of its jaw burned away.

After confirming that neither zombie was much of a threat anymore - both bodies continued to thrash about, but without viable heads they were unable to mount an effective attack - Gilbert started issuing commands. The warrior types returned to their rooms to don their armor and retrieve all of their weapons, for they had leapt into battle wearing only their nightwear and wielding whichever weapon had been closest at hand. Darcy was sent to round up the teenage workers and lock the five of them safely in the storage room with the crates of foodstuff and the excess spirits. Before seeing them safely locked in, Castillan grabbed up a handful of bottled alcohol - everything immediately at hand that came in a glass bottle. Ripping strips of cloth from the two zombies the heroes had slain (Gilbert was overseeing the still-twitching corpses being cut into chunks and fed to the fireplace), the bounder unstoppered the bottles and filled alcohol-soaked rags into the tops, then passed them off among the heroes.

"Hey, what this?" asked Gilbert suddenly. Inside the stonemason's pocket he had found a wooden disk, upon one side of which had been scratched an impromptu skull of a ram or bighorn sheep. Ingebold was able to advise that such an image was often used as an unholy symbol for Orcus, the Demon Lord of the Undead.

"That little weasel," snarled the wizard. "I bet he behind all this."

"The obelisk!" cried Binkadink suddenly. "Darcy said he'd been working on a replacement obelisk. What do you want to bet the new one's already in place, and devoted to Orcus instead of to Pelor?"

"Let's find out -- is everybody ready?" asked Darrien, eager for battle now that everyone had returned to the common room, fully armed and armored.

"Spells first," advised Gilbert, casting a quick mage armor spell upon himself and appreciating the fact that his skin didn't immediately become blue and itchy. Ingebold cast a protection from evil upon herself, and readied the prayer for a bless spell which she'd cast on her way out the door.

"I'll go first," advised Binkadink, and the others took quiet amusement from the fact that their toughest front-line fighter stood all of about three feet tall. Darrien unbarred the door and swung it open, then the gnome rushed out into the mist-filled night.

He had a torch tied in place on his helmet, allowing both hands free to wield his unwieldy glaive, which was over three times as long as the little gnome was tall. But even with the torchlight, visibility was all of about ten feet, tops. Binkadink oriented himself toward where he believed they'd seen the stump of the previous obelisk and headed boldly in that direction.

About twenty steps later his bold excursion came to an abrupt halt, for another zombie had wandered into his field of vision. This one, however, stood about 10 feet tall - Binkadink recognized it as an ogre. The gnome's exploration for the obelisk was temporarily set aside as he devoted his full attention to destroying this new abomination. Castillan stepped up beside him, and together they brought their bladed weapons to bear, while Darrien shot at the hulking zombie from the inn's doorway.

Finoula, Ingebold, and Gilbert had exited the inn's doorway by this time, but they were distracted by sounds of concern coming from the mules off to the side of the inn. Moving ahead of the others, Finoula nearly bumped into another zombie, this one fortunately human-sized - a woman, in fact, whose garb gave her the appearance of a spellcaster, for she wore what looked to be a typical spell component pouch at her hip and a wand dangled from her belt. As the zombie turned to face the elven ranger, however, Finoula saw a dagger blade sticking out from her chest, and took heart from the fact that there were apparently other heroes out here besides themselves fighting these zombies.

Finoula sliced with both of her swords, cutting deep into the corpse's body but failing to drop it entirely. Gilbert approached and fired off a disrupt undead spell at the thing, causing it to drop lifelessly to the ground. By then, having figured out that these resilient zombies tended not to fare well without intact heads, Ingebold smashed the zombie's face in with her warhammer. Finoula grabbed up the wand and passed it over to the portly wizard, who pocketed it for later examination. But Ingebold noticed something else of potential value on the zombie's body: a necklace of fine metal links around her neck, with whatever was hanging from it tucked inside the top of her dress. Pulling it out from the corpse's bodice, Ingebold was surprised to see it was a metal amulet with the image of a skeletal ram engraved upon one surface.

"So she's a follower of Orcus as well!" the cleric snarled, yanking hard enough to snap the necklace and flinging the unholy symbol away in disgust.

"And check this out," replied Finoula, who had pulled the dagger from the zombie's chest. She held it out to the cleric. Ingebold could clearly see the Orcus symbol engraved in the dagger's hilt.

"So...she killed herself then?" she asked, surprised.

"Seems like it," admitted Finoula.

"This very strange," admitted Gilbert, before looking over to see how the others were faring against their much-larger foe.

By this time, the ogre zombie was alight, having been bombarded by one of Castillan's impromptu fire grenades. It had also been liberally peppered with arrows and had several deep grooves in its thick flesh, courtesy of both Binkadink's gnomish glaive and Castillan's short sword. It dropped to the ground, the damage done to it at least temporarily depriving it of its mobility. Nobody was surprised to see a ram's skull symbol carved into the skin of the ogre's chest.

"I'll take care of its head," offered Binkadink. "You go check out that obelisk."

Castillan needed no further prompting. The obelisk was about where they had guessed it would be, standing in the same hole the previous one - which had been unearthed and tossed aside - had been. Even with his keen elven sight, Castillan couldn't make out the emblems on its upper edges through the thick mist, but he was willing to bet they were no longer those of Pelor.

"Stand back," suggested Castillan as Gilbert ambled up with his own torch. Then he took off running, leaping up the obelisk's side and allowing his momentum to carry him to the top. He gripped the top of the stone obelisk, and was close enough that he could confirm to the others that there were Orcus unholy symbols on each of the four triangular edges along the top.

"There are gems in the eye-holes," called down Castillan. "They look like black opals."

"Are they magic?" called up Gilbert.

"I dunno."

"Well, pry them out with dagger! If they magic, that should stop magic effect!" Hanging onto the obelisk's top with one hand and supporting his weight, Castillan pulled out the kukri from his belt and started prying gems out of the structure. Gilbert paced around the obelisk, looking up at the bounder's work, and nearly bumped into a wagon situated nearby. It looked as if it had been backed up nearly to the obelisk. Walking over to the front of the wagon, Gilbert found the remains of a partially-eaten horse still tethered to the vehicle.

"Ugh!" cried the wizard. "Glad you not a zombie!"

In the meantime, having dealt with the ogre zombie's head, Binkadink called out in the language of burrowing mammals, "Obvious! Come here please!"

The jackalope, which had been sleeping comfortably underneath the wagon during all of the fuss, awakened at the sound of his name and bounded over to see what his little gnome friend wanted. "Can you dig a hole at the base of the obelisk, on this side?" asked the gnome.

That was an easy task for a determined jackalope the size of a pony. By the time Obvious had dug the hole, Castillan had removed all of the eight gems from the four carved ram-skull images at the top of the obelisk and jumped back down. The other heroes attached the mules back to their own wagon and used it and some strong rope to pull the obelisk over onto its side.

"Now maybe zombies stay dead when we kill them!" hoped Gilbert.

The group checked back with Darcy and the staff, alerting them to the fact that there weren't any zombies in the immediate vicinity, and to let them know they were about to go check out Dolbry's stonemason shop down the hill. They were still advised to remain inside the inn with the doors barred until the heroes returned.

Approaching the stonemason's shop, the group was accosted by a vicious, barking dog. It attacked at once, seeming almost feral in its mannerisms. The fact that this was a dog - likely Dolbry's pet - had no bearing on Binkadink's actions: he brought his glaive down onto the creature's skull as it approached the gnome at full speed with fangs bared, killing it almost instantly. Castillan and Finoula were accosted by another staggering zombie, this one just as bloodthirsty as the others they'd encountered this night but much easier to bring down - and, they were all pleased to see, once it had been brought down it stayed down, with no twitching as it became ready to reanimate.

"Looks like taking down obelisk good idea!" piped up Gilbert.

A quick inspection of the stonemason's shop filled in some gaps in the group's knowledge of recent events. Fully half of the one-story structure was a big, open area where the actual stonecarving was performed, and here the heroes found signs of a recent project, for gravel coated the back half of the work space. Darrien found a stable and a garage for a wagon, but neither horse nor vehicle was present. But it was in the mason's bedroom that the biggest clue was unearthed, for in a traveler's backpack filled with a woman's clothes Castillan discovered a pouch of black onyx gems and an old, leather-bound book with the now-familiar ram-skull image of Orcus engraved on its cover. At first unwilling to touch it, Gilbert Fung eventually opened the tome to the front page, where the title Libris Necromanticus Orcusuum was printed - "The Necromantic Book of Orcus." After merely opening the book didn't strike the wizard down, he boldly flipped through it, finding it to be a spellbook containing numerous spells (some of them much more powerful than he was able to wield successfully at this early stage of his adventuring career) and also a few rituals of note. The first was a detailed, step-by-step process of creating a zombie birthstone - the obelisk they had just destroyed. Of further note was a ritual in which the spellcaster sacrifices her own life within a close distance to the zombie birthstone, which sends a flood of negative energy from the unholy obelisk that turns those involved in the ritual into bloodthirsty zombies, with hints that if Orcus were suitably pleased with the results he might elevate the ritual leader into an even higher form of undead. According to the details of the rituals, had the heroes not destroyed the obelisk it would have continued allowing undead within a mile radius or so to reform after their initial destruction.

"I recommend we burn the book," suggested Ingebold.

"No way!" argued Gilbert. "There some good spells in here! Well, not 'good' spells - you know what I mean! I keep this book, learn spells, then maybe we destroy it!"

Ingebold glared her disapproval, but said nothing.

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: Since this adventure featured the PCs fighting bloodthirsty zombies, it seemed only appropriate that I wear my "WWDD?" shirt - that's a black T-shirt with a black-and-white image of Daryl Dixon from "The Walking Dead" wielding his iconic crossbow.

- - -

The players really liked this adventure. I was originally concerned that it only had two different monsters, bloodthirsty zombies (albeit it in two different strengths and sizes) and a guard dog, but that didn't seem to be a problem. The players - especially Dan and Logan, who have the most D&D gaming experience - enjoyed trying to figure out why these zombies were so much tougher than "normal" D&D zombies, even if these were the first zombies these particular PCs had actually ever met up with. And they liked the fact that all of the explanations were right there in the adventure to be discovered, instead of having to be explained by the DM after the adventure was over. Also, the mist was a fun additional factor, as was the fact that the fight in the inn was an impromptu fight after having been awakened in the middle of the night, and thus the PCs weren't at their toughest (no armor, for one, although there was plenty of referencing the Player's Handbook to see how long it took to don various types of armor). All in all, it was a fun adventure to run.



PC Roster:
Binkadink Dundernoggin, gnome fighter 3
Castillan Ivenheart, elf bounder 3
Darrien, half-elf ranger 3
Finoula Cloudshadow, elf ranger 3
Gilbert Fung, human wizard 3​

NPC Roster:
Ingebold Battershield, dwarven cleric 3 (Moradin)​

Game Session Date: 18 October 2015

- - -

"There's been a rash of bandit raids on the caravan route between here and Garonis," said Franz Niedermann. "I'd like to hire you on as additional security. That way, if the bandits show up on this trip, you'll be there to take care of them. Not only that, but I'll pay 100 gold pieces a head if you can bring me back proof that the bandits have been slain."

"Just to be clear," interjected Castillan, "that's 100 gold per bandit head, not 100 gold for each of us, right?"

"That's right." Upon the merchant's acknowledgement, the bounder started envisioning plans of boosting the number of "bandits" encountered with any other sources of evil the group might happen to encounter during the three-day trip from the town of Baranford to Garonis. Niedermann seemed like an honest sort, and there'd be no way for him to know which ones were bandits and which were, say, evil cultists or something.

"I'll pay you each 50 gold pieces as supplemental security forces, guarding my goods and those of the other caravan members. I'll draw up a sealed letter for you to give to your contact in Garonis. His name's Grant Huntley, and he'll pay you once you deliver my goods to him."

"You say we supplemental forces," said Gilbert Fung. "Who we supplementing?"

"The caravan security force is made up of four local boys, led by a fellow named Dirk. He rolled into town a few days ago and volunteered specifically for the next caravan run; his brother Lance was slain by bandits during the last run a few weeks back. I reckon he's looking to give them some payback."

"But you no think he can do the job?" prodded Gilbert.

"Well, I'm not saying that. It's just that the chance to hire on an actual adventuring group - well, I'd be foolish to pass up that opportunity. Come on, I'll introduce you to Dirk and the boys, and then I'll go draft up that letter for you to take to Grant."

Dirk seemed less than pleased to find out Franz had hired on the Kordovian Adventurers Guild as additional security, seeing it as a slight on his own abilities and those of his men. "Okay, fine," he finally conceded, "they can come along, but let's get one thing straight up front: I'm the head of security for this mission. You all answer to me. If you can manage to keep that in mind, and follow my orders without any slacking or quibbling, you'll get along just fine. Step out of line, though, and you'll be bringing on a world of hurt to yourselves." Castillan, the gifted speaker among the adventurers, made a noble effort to bite back the sarcastic retort he held at the tip of his tongue. Seeing that, Finoula stepped forward, placed a hand on the bounder's arm, and spoke on his behalf: "I'm sure we'll all be able to work well together. We are, after all, working toward the same goal."

"We leave at dawn," responded Dirk, walking away from the group. "Be here then, or we leave without you." He punctuated his statement by spitting into the dirt of the street.

"Pleasant fellow," commented Darrien as he watched the arrogant fighter stride away.

- - -

The group spent the rest of the day purchasing supplies and preparing for the next day's adventure. Baranford wasn't an overly large city, but it was big enough to support an armorer, a weaponsmith, and even a small shop doing a fair trade in magic potions. The group talked it over and decided they could afford to use some of the money they'd earned thus far to ensure each member had two potions of cure light wounds at hand - even if some of them still had the questionable-tasting ones brewed up by Binkadink's Uncle Winkidew. But by daybreak they were in place, watching as the caravan merchants gathered up their wares and prepared their own mounts.

The merchants were a varied bunch. Franz Niedermann's man was a burly fellow named Markham Bellenson, whose wagon of medical supplies was pulled by a draft horse named Bellamy. A female halfling named Petra Copperpot sat in her little pony-cart with her pony, Blossom snickering quietly and twitching her ears, eager to get on the road. Petra's wares, as evidenced by her surname, consisted mostly of pots and pans. Another merchant, a human named Cliven Goodbar, also dealt in pots, but his were of the ceramic variety, many of them painted in elaborate designs, and he also sold vases and the like. His was the largest of the wagons, pulled by a heavy draft horse with the unfortunate name of Dogmeat. The elven merchant Snave Silveroak had no cart or wagon, but needed neither; he dealt in rare coins, which he kept in a set of saddlebags on his riding horse, Fleetfoot. Finally, an elven woman named Gondra Serpentis rode upon a draft horse named Elashminiel, who pulled behind him a two-wheeled cart containing fine elven vintages of wines, each carefully packed with straw in wooden crates to avoid damage. Castillan saw her, smiled, and vowed to travel by her side for as much of the trip as possible.

As the merchants made their last-minute adjustments to their loads, Gilbert cast a detect magic spell and wandered around the group, checking to see if anybody was carrying anything with a dweomer. Of the group they'd be traveling with, only Dirk projected any magical auras: one at his belt and one at his head. Gilbert concentrated further, pinning down the aura around Dirk's head as emanating illusion magic and the one at his belt as conjuration in nature. The wizard figured the belt's aura was more than likely caused by a healing potion or two, whereas the illusion magic could be anything from an older man trying to look younger than he really was to a complete impostor. Still, not wanting to confront the young fighter before they even got started, the wizard opted not to call out Dirk on his subterfuge. (Plus, in the back of his mind, Gilbert realized if Dirk were in league with the bandits and Gilbert called his bluff now, the caravan might not ever meet up with the bandits; the wizard wanted to make sure they were able to fight each and every member of the bandit force and get paid for each.)

Gilbert's second preparatory action was to surreptitiously open up the sealed letter Franz Niedermann had given him. He slit the wax seal open with a dagger, cutting through the symbol the merchant had embedded in it with his signet ring. Reading the contents, the wizard was pleased to see it was on the up-and-up, describing each of the Kordovians and instructing Grant Huntley to pay them each 50 gp upon their successful delivery of his medical supplies. Satisfied that their new employer wasn't betraying them, Gilbert folded the letter back up and cast a mending spell on the wax seal, smiling in wizardly pride as it melded back together into the symbol from Niedermann's signet ring.

Dirk looked over the group to see that everyone was ready and, as surly as he'd been the day before, snarled a brusque "Let's go!" to the others. He and his security force of four each rode a war horse; nobody was surprised to see that Dirk's horse was bigger and stronger-looking than those of his deputies. But the four young men accompanying Dirk did not share his surly attitude; they were universally a pleasant bunch, each eager to start off an adventurous life of combat and heroics. Tompin Saddler was a fresh-faced blonde eager to do something else besides work in his father's saddle shop. Fenric Budrys was an eager-for-action hothead who couldn't wait to make a name for himself as a tough fighter. Ruspin Splitnose, whose predominant facial feature was the dagger-scar splicing his left nostril, already looked the part of a rough-and-tumble fighter but he was a pleasant and outgoing fellow despite his hardened appearance. And finally, there was Chad "Chuff" Chuffington, a heavy-set guy in his early twenties, who looked to have spent much more time in a tavern downing tankards of ale than out on the practice field swinging a sword. They were all brash, young, and ready for the glories of combat that no doubt awaited ahead.

The Kordovian adventurers spread themselves out among the caravan's horses and vehicles, Ingebold steering their own cart into line with the others, while Binkadink rode Obvious off to the right of the group and Finoula rode Daisy off to the left. It was an easy pace, for the caravan horses were made more for steady plodding, pulling their loads behind them, than speed. Castillan opted to walk, easily keeping pace alongside Gondra's two-wheeled cart, chatting with her all the while.

The first day was uneventful. They traveled at a steady pace, and there were enough eyes keeping watch for bandits along the roadside to provide plenty of opportunities for conversation along the way. Besides Castillan's incessant flirting with Gondra, a few of Dirk's men got to chatting up Finoula. Tompin was interested in her exploits as a melee combatant, whereas Fenric seemed more interested in impressing her with tales of his strength and fighting prowess. Binkadink and Obvious mostly stayed away from the others, bounding out far ahead to scout about and then waiting for the others to catch up. Dirk's demeanor wasn't improved by this spectacle; bad enough he'd had last-minute additions to his security force foisted upon him, but to have to put up with an antlered bunny rabbit hippity-hopping here and about? It was too much to tolerate.

By evening, the group arranged their wagons and carts into a broad circle in a clearing off the side of the road. The warriors gathered up firewood from the nearby forest and set about building up a campfire in the middle of the circle of carts, while the merchants untethered their mounts from their vehicles and set about grooming and feeding them. The Kordovians set up their tents at random locations around the campsite - all, that is, except for Gilbert Fung, who after some maneuvering managed to set his own tent up in the back of their wagon.

"Are you serious?" asked Darrien.

"It dirty down there," pointed out Gilbert.

A few of the merchants - those with the larger wagons - followed suit, sleeping in the backs of their vehicles. Some of those without room in their carts or wagons for sleeping accommodations set up their bedrolls underneath their vehicles, counting on them for weather protection if nothing else. Dirk and his men set up their bedrolls on the outer edges of the camp, and then Dirk gathered his troops together and decided on the guard schedule for the night.

By then, Gilbert had passed on his suspicions that Dirk wasn't entirely on the up-and-up to his adventuring companions, explaining about the illusion magic somewhere on his head. (Dirk wore a hooded cloak and kept the hood up, apparently believing that made him look more like a mysterious ranger. Darrien and Finoula, both actual rangers, couldn't help but smirk at the thought.) As a result, Binkadink wandered up to the security group and stuck his oversized gnomish nose into the proceedings.

"Don't you worry about it," Dirk sneered. "I think I'll have my own men - men who I know, and who I trust - make up the guard shifts. After you folks have proven your worth, maybe then we'll see about adding you into the rotation." Binkadink just nodded and wandered off, only to make up his own guard rotation among the Kordovian adventurers.

"I don't trust that Dirk character," he admitted. "I think we should have one of us awake at all times, to keep an eye on things." The others agreed, and they decided to split the duty up between Binkadink, Castillan, Darrien, and Finoula - the others, being spellcasters, needed their sleep to be able to prepare spells the next morning.

Fortunately, the night passed as uneventfully as the day had been. But it was during the late morning on the second day's travel that Dirk dropped a bombshell on the group.

"I don't think we're going to stay on the road," he announced. "The bandit attacks on previous caravans have been on this road, so it's most likely they'll try to strike at us here on the road. There's another way, through the Vesve Forest, that we should come to in the next half hour or so. I think it's in our best interests to go that way. Although I'd personally like a chance to kill the bandits plaguing this area, to avenge my brother, as head of security for this mission it's my primary job to ensure that everybody makes it safely to Garonis. It won't extend our trip any; we'll still get into Garonis by late tomorrow afternoon."

Ingebold, alerted to the possibility that Dirk might not be all he seemed, had spent part of the morning praying for a zone of truth spell and cast it quietly while Dirk was addressing the group. He finished his little speech, and then looked over at the dwarf - one of the disadvantages of the spell was it was impossible to cast it such that the intended recipient was unaware of what was going on.

"What's going on?" demanded Dirk. "Are you casting spells?"

"I'm just checking on something," admitted Ingebold - a perfectly true assertion.

"Are you sure we need to go by the forest path?" prompted Darrien, well aware that Dirk was within the radius of Ingebold's spell effect.

Dirk seemed now to be choosing his words very carefully. "The other attacks were presumably on the main road," he reasoned. "Therefore, it would seem the prudent path would be to avoid the areas where the bandits are likely to strike."

"I think we likely enough protection to fight off bandits," countered Gilbert. "We stick to road, like planned."

Dirk glared at the wizard who dared contradict his advice. "You seem pretty determined not to take the safest path. It might cause some to wonder if you weren't maybe in cahoots with the bandits yourselves! I say we should go the forest way, as it's likely to be safer."

"That does seem reasonable," offered up Gondra.

"Given a choice, I'd prefer we don't meet up with any bandits at all," agreed Markham. "But Mr. Niedermann hired these guys on for their adventuring expertise - maybe we ought to listen to what they have to say."

As expected, this response didn't lighten Dirk's mood in the least. "You want to continue on the road?" he asked, looking around at the merchants. They were looking among themselves, and seemed to be taking Markham's advice to heart.

"Remember, you head of security," piped in Gilbert. "That mean you work for them, they not work for you."

"Fine!" snarled Dirk. "We'll continue on the road! But you're all going on report for insubordination! I'll see to it that you never work as caravan guards again, not for Neidermann, not for anybody in Baranford or Garonis! You have crossed the wrong man - you just remember that when you reap your just rewards!" And the caravan started up again, only this time with a sulking Dirk riding in the very back of the group, where - as he put it - he could keep an eye on these untried mutineers. Gilbert sat backwards in the mule-driven cart, facing the glaring fighter and keeping him under constant observation. He was sure to keep an idiotic grin on his face, just to irritate the head of caravan security even further.

"I don't think Dirk likes you guys much," Fenric admitted to Finoula as they rode side by side on their respective mounts.

"I'm sure we'll manage to survive his disapproval," replied the elven ranger.

When they got to the side-road that led into the Vesve Forest, Dirk tried once more to get what he considered "a rational decision" from the group, but by then the merchants had all evinced a willingness to put their trust for their safety in the hands of the Kordovian adventurers. Dirk's expression hardened at their unwillingness to follow his own lead, but he said nothing and the group continued on.

That night, the group made camp in much the same way as they had the previous evening. Again, the adventurers decided they wanted one of their own awake at all times, keeping an eye out not only for the the bandits but also on Dirk's security contingent. Binkadink was determined to be the one on duty when Dirk took his shift, but the security head refused to divulge his shift schedule with any but his own men. Tompin had the first shift, and Finoula offered to likewise take the first shift. Binkadink asked her to wake him if Tompin had Dirk relieve him, and if not to wake someone else but likewise give the gnome fighter the same shift as Dirk. As it turned out, Tompin lasted until about midnight, at which point he woke up Fenric as he'd been instructed. Seeing this, and still feeling wide awake from the excitement, Finoula opted to stay awake for a second shift. But by two in the morning, she knew she was about done and wouldn't make it through another two hours of staying awake. It was with some relief, then, that she saw Fenric wake up Dirk for the third two-hour shift, and she dutifully went to Binkadink's tent to wake the little gnome.

Gilbert, not having expended any spells on this second day of travel, had realized he didn't need to prepare any spells in the morning so had decided he'd stay awake in his tent as an extra surprise - Dirk likely would assume the wizard would be fast asleep. However, he only lasted a bit beyond midnight before the boredom of hiding in his tent and the weariness from a day of traveling overtook him and he fell fast asleep.

Binkadink had noted earlier the standard guard duty consisted of making a wide circuit around the camp. Dirk started doing the same, so the gnome followed suit. Originally planning to mirror Dirk's moves while remaining on the opposite side of the camp from him at all times, he suddenly realized his riding mount was intelligent enough to obey simple orders and instructed Obvious to follow the circuit around camp such that Dirk, Binkadink, and the jackalope were all roughly the same distance from each other. The gnome positioned himself so that he followed immediately behind Dirk, allowing Binkadink to keep an eye on him at all times. Between the starlight, the dying campfire, and the gnome's low-light vision, he figured if the fighter tried anything suspicious, he'd be able to see it and react. In fact, he already had his reaction prepared: a ghost sound to awaken the camp and alert them to the fact they were under attack.

About half an hour into their guard shift, during which time Dirk said not a word to the gnome, ignoring his very presence, Binkadink heard the rustling of leathery wings just ahead. Squinting in the darkness, he made out a bat perched on Dirk's arm. He's a wizard! thought Binkadink, and that's his familiar! The gnome was wrong in his suspicions - by not by much.

With another fluttering of leathery wings, the bat took off into the night, and Dirk immediately changed course, spinning around and rushing over to Binkadink as if he had important news to bring him. Binkadink didn't allow his suspicions to waver; he tightened his grip on his gnomish glaive and readied his ghost sound cantrip. Sure enough, as soon as the fighter got close enough to make out Binkadink's exact location - the gnome realized with sudden understanding that the human's night vision was not as advanced as his own - Dirk raised his crossbow and let fly.

The bolt struck true, penetrating the armor at Binkadink's left shoulder. He hissed in pain, but let loose the ghost sound he'd been preparing. Immediately, a chorus of what sounded like four large men with deep voices started yelling, "DIRK'S A PLANT! DIRK'S A PLANT! DIRK'S A PLANT!" The gnome then stepped forward, stabbing at the fighter with his gnomish glaive.

Inside his tent, Gilbert Fung sat up, surprised that he'd fallen asleep. It took him a moment to parse Binkadink's warning, for the wizard's mind originally conjured up an image of Dirk standing in a pot and being watered in a garden, but as he pulled open the flap to his tent and leaped down from the wagon he realized the gnome's meaning. All around him, the others were likewise emerging from their tents or bedrolls, grabbing up their weapons and foregoing any armor beyond a hastily-grabbed shield or helmet. The rangers Finoula and Darrien had slept in their armor and thus after each grabbing up his or her weapons was fully ready for combat. Castillan and Ingebold were no longer in their armor; the bounder grabbed up his short sword and leaped out into the cool night air wearing only his undergarments and hastily bounded up into the lower branches of a nearby tree to best see the shape of the entire battlefield; Ingebold wore only her night shift but wielded her shield in one hand and her warhammer in the other. As for Dirk's security forces, their inexperience was evident, for they fumbled about for their weapons while peering around to see where the danger might lie.

Unfortunately, the danger lay all about them. Approaching the campsite from the southwest was a gnomish form with incredibly long legs; this was a svirfneblin named Cleodus, whose additional height was due to the pair of gnomish stilt-boots he wore. Cleodus wielded a crossbow and Binkadink was his first target; the little gnome now found himself being shot at from two directions.

From the west came an elf with skin as dark as the night, wielding an unusual longbow made to look like twin spider legs, and with a spider's fanged head covering the outer part of the drow's left hand as he gripped the bow. Xaegar sneered in delight as he sighted down his arrow's shaft at his first potential victim of the night, a dwarven woman in a nightgown, and let fly. Fortunately, Ingebold's darkvision allowed her to spot the attack as if it had come during broad daylight and the arrow struck her shield, not her unarmored body. She sneered right back at the drow and headed in his direction, having found her own first target for the night.

From the north stepped forth a derro sorcerer named Vesparius, whose bat familiar Vildra had coordinated with Dirk that the bandits had caught up to the caravan (after Dirk had failed to lead them to their normal ambush site in the shadows of the Vesve Forest earlier that day) and were ready to attack. The derro wielded a repeating light crossbow and his first target was Tompin, still crawling out of his tent and unsure of the location of the bandits. But Finoula spotted the derro and rushed to attack Tompin's attacker, her swords out and ready.

From the east came the biggest threat yet, a duergar fighter named Skorvak astride a steeder named Boko. The giant spider-mount crawled right over Darrien's tent in its haste to close with the elven ranger, who got off a shot with his bow at the duergar before the deep dwarf's pointed lance struck Darrien in the side. Wounded, he dropped to a knee; immobilized, he was unable to avoid the spider's crushing mandibles as they bit into his torso, piercing the leather of his armor and injecting a strength-sapping venom into his veins. Despite his desire not to give his enemies the satisfaction, he cried out in pain from his wounds.

The battle was furious, and despite being confined to the area around the single campfire in the midst of the circle of wagons and carts, fought in little clumps. It took little time for the merchants to huddle together in the middle of the campsite, hiding behind and occasionally beneath the wagons, as the martial combatants fought in a ring all around them. The lone exception to this was the elven merchant Snave, who leaped up upon his horse - saddlebags still in place - and fled the campsite at the first signs of trouble.

Finoula attacked the derro with her two swords, forcing him to step backwards from the fury of her assault - but not before Tompin's lifeless body fell to the ground, bleeding from several crossbow bolts piercing his skin. But racing up to Finoula's side was Fenric, eager to avenge his friend. Together, the two forced Vesparius back away from the others. The derro lowered his repeating crossbow and held up his other gloved hand, which was empty - until he snapped his fingers and a wand magically appeared in it. With a command word, the derro sent a blast of magic missiles flying into Fenric's body. The young warrior grunted in pain but pressed on, and Finoula was there at his side, her blades flashing and drawing derro blood.

Binkadink was forced to ignore Cleodus, who shot at him with his light crossbow and even tried blinding him with his innate magic abilities, since the gnome had Dirk right there in front of him. Dirk slashed at the gnome with his longsword; Binkadink ducked beneath the blade and stabbed up at the traitorous security head with his glaive. As Dirk staggered back under the onslaught, Binkadink took a step back himself, and leaped up onto the back of his jackalope mount, summoned to his master's side moments before in the secret language of burrowing mammals. From this higher elevation, he was able to look Dirk in the eye as he swung his weapon at the turncoat.

Soon enough Cleodus was forced to turn his attention from Binkadink, for he had troubles of his own to worry about: Gilbert had two nearby archers as targets, and although Xaegar continued shooting at Ingebold with his spidery-looking bow, the fact that she had only the drow attacking her while Binkadink was up against both Dirk and Cleodus made the elevated deep gnome the logical target for the heavyset wizard. A scorching ray took some of the fight out of the svirfneblin, but while he staggered around a bit on his stilt-boots he failed to fall over.

Binkadink suddenly fell over, but not by his own doing: Xaegar, failing to hit his dwarven target, opted instead to help Dirk defeat the gnome on the antlered bunny that was inexplicably giving him such a hard fight. The next arrow shot from the drow's bow went screaming into Binkadink's chest, but by the time it hit the arrow had been magically turned into a strand of spider silk, its other end still attached to the grinning drow's bow. With a tug, Xaegar pulled Binkadink off of Obvious and the gnome gracelessly fell face-first into the dirt. Obvious prevented Dirk from taking advantage of his master's prone form by leaping at the renegade fighter, stabbing at him with his lowered antlers. Dirk was again forced backwards, allowing Binkadink to regain his footing. The little gnome was ready to start a tug-of-war with the drow, but it turned out not to be necessary, for Gilbert's scorching ray spells had by this time taken Xaegar out of the fight.

Over on the other side of the campsite, Darrien still battled the duergar and the spider he rode. Castillan continued to pepper the steeder with arrows from his tree-branch perch, then leaped to the ground and closed with the monstrous arachnid. By this time, Finoula and Fenric had managed to slay the derro sorcerer and were available to help fight the gray dwarf and his spider mount. After seeing to the merchants' safety, Chuff and Ruspin sped around a wagon and ran up to the spider's side, yelling furiously. Chuff was bitten by the spider and dropped to the ground ravaged by pain, but managed to crawl to the relative safety beneath a merchant wagon while Ruspin distracted the hairy, eight-legged beast. Finally, a deep thrust into the creature's abdomen by Castillan took care of the steeder, and Boko's body flopped to the ground, his eight legs twitching spasmodically. Ingebold stepped up to Darrien and Chuff, casting much-needed healing spells that likely kept the two alive.

Binkadink finally got in a good blow with his glaive, piercing Dirk's torso and sending him flopping backwards to the ground, a look of complete astonishment on his face. Cleodus had moved in to attack the gnome, but Obvious was having none of it: he bit deep into the svirfneblin's flesh, raking him with the claws on his front paws and shaking the deep gnome up and down like a dog worrying a play-toy. Cleodus dropped his crossbow and was nearly shaken out of his stilt-boots; when Obvious finally let go of him, he dropped to the ground, bleeding, and didn't get back up.

In the midst of the chaotic combat, Skorvak was unaware that he was the last member of the bandit gang left. To the surprise of the ring of combatants around him when his steeder was killed, the duergar seemed to leap up - and disappear. The young warriors looked all about to see if they could see where he had gotten to, and even the more experienced adventurers darted their eyes about, aware of the existence of the dimension door spell and what a caster could do with such a spell. Spinning around, Finoula looked down into the dirt now in front of her and saw a scuff mark, as if something standing there had been dragged a short distance. Acting almost on instinct, she stabbed out straight ahead of her with both blades, seeming to hit only the empty air - and eliciting a howl of pain as she connected with something that couldn't be seen.

Figuring out what that likely meant, Binkadink leaped back onto Obvious's back and rode his jackalope across the campsite in a series of hippity-hop jumps that nearly bounced him off of his mount, stopping about ten feet away from the place Finoula had just stabbed. Spinning his mount around, the gnome had Obvious start kicking up dirt behind him with his powerful back legs. Clouds of dirt flew away from the jackalope, covering the back of the invisible Skorvak - who had not only faded from visibility but also increased his size twofold, the scuff-marks being made by his feet expanding as he stood in place in the dirt behind Finoula - making a strange shape indeed. Only Skorvak's back half was covered in dirt, meaning from the front and side he looked like the back half of a hollow statue. But that was enough to allow the adventurers to target the duergar, and he soon dropped as well, the last member of the bandit gang composed of individuals from various races exiled from their respective Underdark communities.

One by one, the merchants started crawling out of their hiding places, looking warily around to ensure that combat was indeed over. Chuff and Ruspin bent over Tompin's body, closing his eyes and saying their final goodbyes to their fallen friend, while Fenric walked over to see Dirk's body. "I can't believe he was in league with the bandits," he said.

"I think we see what this all about," remarked Gilbert, pulling back the hood from Dirk's head and removing the narrow headband he wore beneath it. As soon as the magical headband was pulled away, it reformed into a hat, and Dirk's facial features altered slightly, his hair also changing from a sandy-brown to a lighter blond.

"Hey!" exclaimed Fenric. "I know him! That's Lance!" Lance, the security head of the previous caravan, couldn't very well show up alive as the sole survivor of the caravan without raising suspicions, so he put on a hat of disguise and returned to Baranford as his own fictitious brother, Dirk. (Had he survived this latest caravan attack, he'd had in the back of his mind the idea of assuming the role of yet another fictitious brother, Mace, and carrying the ruse even further.) Gilbert pocketed the magical hat, and snatched up the potions hanging from the erstwhile security head's belt.

Darrien decided to check out the drow's longbow and got a big surprise, for as soon as he tried picking it up the bow wriggled and warped, taking on the form of a small monstrous spider. Fortunately, the half-elf ranger wasn't subjected to any further spider venom, and quickly dispatched the poisonous arachnid, which reverted in form back to an arachnoid longbow. Then, upon Gilbert's urging, Darrien again tried to pick it up; this time, there was no resistance upon the part of the Arachnibow.

"It probably keyed to drow as wielder," explained Gilbert. "Now he dead, and you defeat guardian form, you become new legal wielder."

Castillan stripped the gloves off of the derro sorcerer and experimented with them. Sure enough, wearing them allowed him to store a hand-held item into an extradimensional space, which could them be retrieved with the snap of the fingers. The bounder immediately saw the usefulness of such a pair of gloves, especially since so much of his jumping around and climbing up and over obstacles required his hands to be free. It would be a great boon to be able to summon up his weapon to hand with but a snap of his fingers! But the wand of magic missiles Vesparius had stored inside one glove was of no use to Castillan; he passed it over to Gilbert, who was the only member of the Kordovian adventurers able to use it.

Binkadink was the obvious recipient of the gnomish stilt-boots formerly worn by the svirfneblin rogue. They were a pair of hard-soled leather boots that went all the way up to the gnome's knees, with bars of metal along each side. Upon command, the bars extended into dual stilts, raising the little gnome up to the height of a human. Binkadink was pleased to see that there was some stabilizing magic at work as well, for he was able to walk and run at a much faster pace than his little gnomish legs would normally be able to take him.

As the bandits' corpses were stripped of useful items and dragged away over by the still-twitching body of the slain steeder (who was much too big to haul away), Snave rode his horse Fleetfoot back into camp. "I, uh, made sure there were no other bandits in the area," the elven merchant bluffed, dismounting and returning to his tent.

- - -

The next day was uneventful. While the merchants all still slept in, Castillan and Darrien went about removing the bandits' heads and stuffing them into a large canvas sack, which they then passed on to Ingebold so she could use the gentle repose spell to keep them from deteriorating during the time it would take to get back to Baranford to collect Niedermann's reward after first getting the caravan to Garonis. (The same spell was applied to Tompin's corpse, which was then placed respectfully in the back of the group's mule-drawn wagon.) After breaking camp, the last miles to Garonis went by without incident. The merchants were all profoundly thankful for the heroes' protection during the bandit attack. Gilbert presented the sealed letter to Grant Huntley once they rolled into town, and the importer paid them their fees without any hesitation.

As it turned out, there was another caravan heading the other way into Baranford leaving the next day, and the group hired on as extra protection. It only paid 20 gp per adventurer, but as this was basically free money paid to the group to go where they had intended to go in any case, there were no complaints.

The group was actually a bit disappointed when they went the full three-day trek back to Baranford without being attacked. It seemed that adventuring was somewhat addictive!

- - -

The players pegged Dirk as being a suspicious character early on, and I was afraid they'd try confronting him before they even left the town of Baranford, but fortunately Dan didn't have Gilbert Fung press the issue at the time. However, they all put their collective foot down as far as remaining on the main road rather than take Dirk's recommended path through the forest, which meant me moving from Plan A to Plan B. Plan A was having the Underdark bandits ambush the PCs and merchants as the caravan carts and wagons started crossing a bridge across a stream. I was going to use 8 of the Paizo "Ambush Sites" map pack cards from their GameMastery line (another Christmas present from my son Logan) - four making up the bridge across the stream and another four making up the path through the forest - but circumstances led us to Plan B: a blank 18"-by-22" grid of one-inch squares drawn on the back of a sheet of desk calendar paper. This is my "generic" geomorph, which I bring with me to all game sessions just in case we end up needing it.

I was originally going to print off a top view of a tarantula for use as a steeder token, but fortunately with Halloween fast approaching I managed to pick up an appropriately-sized spider decoration at a local craft store for a couple of bucks a few weeks before running this adventure.

We usually have the players take turns running Ingebold as a secondary character each game session. This was Joey's first time running a spellcaster (in either of our two campaigns) and he took to it like a pro. He was the one who pointed out that Ingebold had prepared a zone of truth spell. (And indeed, it was he who had had her prepare it in the first place!) Next level, Darrien (and Finoula) will gain their first ranger spells, so he'll get a little taste of spellcasting each level from that point on.

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: My TSR Silver Anniversary T-shirt again, since it has a line of D&D monsters all headed more or less single-file in the same direction. Although the Tony DiTerlizzi artwork shows them wearing birthday hats and carrying presents, they still make up a sort of "D&D caravan," which is what this adventure was all about.
Last edited:



Game Session Date: 1 November 2015

- - -

"Hey!" called a voice from the ground near the heroes. "Is anybody up there?"

The six adventurers had set up camp for the night among the ruins of several buildings just off the road they'd been traversing all day. Despite the darkening clouds overhead that threatened a downpour of rain within the next hour or so, there was still enough light left to see the adventurers were all alone among the ruins - which made the sudden voice all that much more unnerving.

"Can anybody hear me?" the voice added.

Looking among themselves to see if answering was a good idea, Finoula finally called back, "We can hear you!"

"Hey up there!" the voice responded. By this time, Binkadink had traced the sound as coming from a two-inch-tall slot along the bottom of a stone wall.

"My name's Thomas," the voice continued. "Me and my band was exploring this underground dungeon we found, but we run into a bit of trouble. Fiddrick an' Jonesy, I think they're both dead, an' I got separated from Paulkin, so he might be as well, for all I know. But there's treasure down here, more'n I ever seen all at once before! You come on down here and help me get back out, I'll split it with you, okay? Even-Steven across the board, equal shares, no problems."

The heroes again exchanged looks without saying a word. Castillan's greedy expression clearly said he'd focused in on the bit about a whole lot of treasure, while Gilbert's displayed his suspicion that this might all be just a set-up to lure gullible victims into a trap. But unable to see the heroes' actual expressions, Thomas continued on with his tale.

"There's this obelisk-thing out back, away from the road a pace – at least, that's what Fiddrick called it. He found a way to open it up, and there's stairs inside it, what lead to down here. Only watch out for the biters! They’re pretty nasty!

"At the end of the first long hallway, you’ll see a-—urggh!" Just as abruptly as Thomas's voice had risen up from what Binkadink guessed was an air shaft from an underground dungeon, it suddenly cut off, to be replaced by strangling sounds, and then ominous silence.

"What you think?" Gilbert asked the others. "This a trap?"

"One way to find out!" suggested Castillan, buckling his sword belt back on and grabbing up his shortbow. "Let's go find that obelisk!"

"The pull of treasure's strong in that one," observed Ingebold.

"Wait! We not leave our own treasure unguarded while we go off on fool's mission!" exclaimed Gilbert.

"We can have Obvious guard it," suggested Binkadink. "I mean, it's not like he'll be coming along on a dungeon excursion."

"I think we protect it with more than bunny rabbit," replied the wizard, grabbing up a shovel. "We bury it under wagon, where nobody see it."

"Sounds like a good plan," admitted Darrien, patting Gilbert on the arm. "While you deal with that, we'll go check out that obelisk, see if we can find out how it opens." Then he and the others scrambled off, heading further away from the road, leaving a grumbling Gilbert Fung to do the chore he'd come up with but had been hoping to foist off on somebody else.

Many minutes later, the wizard - now sweaty and in a rather foul mood - wandered back to find the others. They had found the stone obelisk easily enough, but as it stood 25 feet tall with a 10-foot-by-10-foot cross-section, sitting in the back of an overgrown graveyard surrounded by a weed-choked fence, it was somewhat difficult to miss. The entire surface of the obelisk was covered in some sort of runic language unfamiliar to the heroes.

"Well?" demanded Gilbert. "You find way in yet?"

"Kind of," replied Castillan. "We found a hairline crack that looks like there's a door here, on the southern side. But we can't get it open. Now we're trying to figure out what these runes mean. Maybe there's a command word or something."

"The language uses the same runes as the dwarven alphabet," pointed out Ingebold. "But there're additional runes not present in Dwarven."

"Any of them magic?" Gilbert pressed. The others shrugged.

"Pah!" scoffed the wizard in disgust, following up with a detect magic spell. Focusing his concentration he circled the obelisk, looking up and down at each of the four sides. "Nothing!" he concluded. "If there secret way in, it not magical!"

"Then it has to be mechanical," surmised Binkadink. He'd given the bottom four rows or so - all that he could reach, even while wearing his gnomish stilt boots - a thorough examination. Each rune was carved into the stone about an inch deep, offering plenty of hand- and footholds.

"Up you go, Castillan," suggested the gnome.

"Yeah, sure," agreed the elven bounder. In no time at all, he had scampered up the side of the obelisk, as sure-footed as a lizard. "This is easy!" he called back down to the gnome. "I'll bet even you could climb these!" Accepting the challenge, Binkadink lowered himself to his normal height and started climbing the side opposite Castillan. Together, they poked their fingers into every rune they could reach - and then Binkadink cried out in sudden triumph. "How's this?" he called down from 20 feet up, after having found what looked suspiciously like an activation switch hidden inside one of the carved runes and pressing it in.

"That it all right," confirmed Gilbert, peering into the opening of the hollow obelisk through the doorway that had suddenly opened up after Binkadink's manipulations. He lit up a torch and poked his head inside, noting the southwestern corner of the obelisk's interior consisted of a set of stone steps leading down into darkness. After waiting for Castillan and Binkadink to climb back down from the obelisk, passing out light sources to those who needed them, and deciding their party order, the group entered the obelisk in single file and started down the stairs.

"I hope Thomas is okay," noted Finoula.

"Pfff!" scoffed Gilbert from the fifth position in line. "He long dead by now. There nothing we could have done for him." The elven ranger just frowned her disappointment.

At the bottom of the stairs, the passageway made a left turn and continued on in a straight path for as far as the group's illumination reached. "This must be the 'first long hallway' that Thomas referred to," pointed out Finoula. She had both her swords out and trailed immediately behind Binkadink, who had lodged a sunrod into the antlers of his helmet. Because of his small stature - and his need for extra room to wield his gnomish glaive - he was in the front of the party order. And as long as he had his glaive out in front of him he put it to good use, occasionally tapping on the ground to hopefully trigger any pit traps before they fell into them.

"Watch out for biters," called Darrien from the rear position. He had the Arachnibow out with an arrow already in place, should he need it.

"What do you think a 'biter' is?" asked Finoula.

"Probably zombie," suggested Gilbert. He was wrong, as the group found out almost immediately thereafter.

Having waited until the rest of the group passed by, the two jermlaine sentries each tugged on their end of the rope they had placed in a groove across the tunnel the heroes traversed, rising it up just in time to catch Darrien's foot on it. The half-elven ranger went falling forward, and that was the signal the rest of the ambushers had been waiting for. Behind him, two jermlaine popped out from their hidden cavern entrance and hurled their darts at the prone half-elf, while one of their osquips stuck his head out of a low tunnel to bite Darrien's leg. At the same time, another osquip leaped off of his perch high up the southern wall to land on Gilbert's head, and another of the multi-legged rodents went scampering down the tunnel towards Binkadink. And while all this was going on, yet another jermlaine from yet another low tunnel threw a bola at Castillan's ankles, the line wrapping tight around them and sending the bounder sprawling. Then a tug had him being dragged feet-first seemingly through the southern wall.

From his low position on the tunnel's floor, Darrien could see the walls of the long tunnel they'd been traversing didn't always go directly all the way to the ground - in patches, they bent further away from the tunnel, making low entrances into side caverns that the foot-tall, wrinkly-skinned jermlaine had to duck their heads to enter. These entrances were generally hidden from view by the shadows formed by the adventurers' own light sources. But the half-elf had little time for sightseeing; dropping his bow, he grabbed a potion of gaseous form and tried to guzzle it down, thinking that would be an easy way to extract himself from the grip the osquip had on his leg. But that proved to be problematic, for Winkidew's shortcuts had made the potion not so much a liquid as a vapor that needed to be inhaled; as soon as it was unstoppered, it dissipated into the air around Darrien's head and was gone. Cursing, the ranger grabbed up his sword and swung it at the osquip chewing on his leg.

Right beside him, Gilbert managed to flip his own osquip foe off of his face and onto the floor between himself and Darrien, then blasted it with a charge from one of his wands of magic missiles. Ingebold was wedged in the middle of the group and was unable to reach any of the numerous enemies, so she busied herself healing Gilbert's wounds with a quick spell.

Finoula found herself creeped out by these little creatures that seemed to come straight out of the walls; she quickly unstoppered one of the potions of spider climb she wore at her belt. And it was at that precise moment that she learned which particular shortcut Binkadink's Uncle Winkidew had made when crafting this potion, for the liquid not only tasted nasty but had particulate matter floating around in it. With mounting horror, she realized it was bits of spider bodies that hadn't been sufficiently ground up. On the bright side, they still worked and she was able to scamper up the north wall of the tunnel, putting herself temporarily out of harm's way. On the down side, she found herself picking spider legs out from between her teeth and shuddered involuntarily.

Binkadink brought his glaive down upon the head of the osquip racing toward him, bringing it to a screeching halt as he nearly cut it in twain. Behind the six-legged rodent, a jermlaine stepped out seemingly from the wall and threw a dart at the gnome. It hit, to little effect, and Binkadink elevated himself in his magic boots, the better to chase down the little creature.

Behind him, Castillan snapped his fingers and his short sword appeared in his hand. He used it to cut the rope around his ankles, then, finding himself in a section of narrow cave too low for him to even sit up in, started scrambling around on his elbows and heels, backpedaling his way back to the central tunnel. Once there, he flipped onto his stomach and poked his sword into the narrow cavern he'd been being dragged into, skewering the osquip who he now saw had been attached to the other end of the rope around his ankles, and which had been dragging him into a larger cavern beyond.

Binkadink slew the wrinkly-skinned jermlaine in the front at about the same time Darrien killed the osquip that had been biting him and turned his attention to the jermlaine back by the stairs leading back to the surface. Gilbert finished off the osquip he'd been fighting with another blast of magic missiles, and then the remaining forces decided that these particular trespassers were more trouble than they were worth. With a call from the jermlaine that had initially caught Castillan with his bola-cord, the remaining jermlaine and osquips went dashing back into their hidden tunnels.

Looking around, Gilbert called up to Finoula, "It safe to come down now."

"I'm fine where I am," replied the elf from near the ceiling. "Where to next?"

The tunnel continued on for a bit, until it dead-ended in an unusual way. There was an upright cylinder at the end of the tunnel, inside which was a metal pole with four metal spokes sticking out at the 3-foot-high mark. After Castillan examined it closely for traps and finding nothing unusual, the group stepped inside and noted the curved wall of the cylinder interior was also of metal. Experimentation showed that this was a revolving door of sorts, requiring a bit of muscle-power to rotate. Once they had turned the metal cylinder away from the open doorway to the long tunnel they'd just left, Ingebold took the opportunity to cast a few healing spells on those who needed them.

Eventually, the heroes moved the "rotating door opening" from facing west to facing south, which spilled them into another tunnel. This one branched off to the west, offering them two different rooms to explore. The one to the south looked empty, but there were crunching sounds coming from the room to the west. Peeking in, the heroes found the first of the bodies of Thomas's ill-fated party, for a leather-clad corpse lay in the corner of the room and a large, grublike creature was noisily ripping off chunks of flesh from his body and devouring them. It turned at the sound of the group's approach, and the heroes got their first look at a carrion crawler. It whipped its body around, its eight facial tentacles writhing in fury at the thought of scavengers trying to steal its recent kill. It raced across the room at the adventurers, but Darrien got in a good shot at it with the Arachnibow and Binkadink's glaive carved it up before it could get its tentacles within range of being dangerous.

Moving past the slain beast, the group checked out Fiddrick's body - although they had no idea which of Thomas's companions the slain rogue might be. But they did recover his sword, a healing potion from his belt, and even a small pouch of coins. Ingebold bristled a bit at removing the belongings of a slain adventurer, but as Gilbert wisely pointed out, "It not do him any good no more." The group moved on.

They were a bit surprised to see a normal wooden door in the side of the tunnel leading south from the carrion crawler's den. Castillan checked it out, found no traps, and was further surprised to see it wasn't even locked. Opening it, he saw a set of stairs leading down into a pit, inside which two undead forms were bent over yet another recently-slain body - this one completely bald. Upon their sudden arrival, the two human zombies looked up and growled at the heroes. They both lurched to their feet and started shambling towards the heroes, hands held out in front of them as if they wished to grab the adventurers but hadn't the brainpower to determine they were still out of reach. Darrien and Castillan stood on the steps and shot arrows at the shambling zombies, while Ingebold held out her holy symbol of Moradin and channeled positive energy at the creatures. It had an immediate effect, causing the zombies to flinch away and try to flee, hugging the far wall. The two archers continued peppering them with arrows, and Binkadink and Finoula approached cautiously and started carving them up with their blades which proved to be much more effective. In the meantime, Gilbert recognized that he'd be of little use in this particular combat and stayed at the top of the stairs, ensuring nothing else crept up on them. Once the zombies had been destroyed, the group gave the bald corpse a quick pat-down, but any valuable items had apparently already been stripped from him. There was a sloping chute halfway up the northern wall, and Castillan reckoned its top would be right about where the cavern the osquip and jermlaine had tried dragging him into had been located. He quickly surmised the chamber above was likely where the jermlaines' victims were shaved of their hair, stripped of valuables, and then dumped down the chute for the zombies to dispose of. Not wishing to go jermlaine hunting by climbing up the chute, the group returned up the stairs and joined back up with Gilbert.

The only remaining corridor they had yet to explore led to another of those revolving doors, so everybody entered and they pushed it counterclockwise, exposing another corridor leading west. There was a large room at the end of it, and two niches just outside that entrance. Each niche contained a suit of plate mail armor holding a longsword in front of it.

"Bet they come to life if we pass by," predicted Gilbert. "You go try, Binkadink."

"Certainly," agreed the gnome. "I'm not afraid." He walked boldly to the end of the corridor, gnomish glaive held before him, and gave the one on the right a deft tap with his blade. Gilbert was right; the two dread guards animated immediately and began the attack.

Fortunately, one of the advantages of sending the gnome ahead into danger meant the archers had no problem targeting any human-sized enemy he might be fighting, even when they shot their arrows from directly behind him. They fell into their new pattern, shooting an arrow and then sliding over to the left to let those behind them shoot. Gilbert let fly with another blast from his wand of magic missiles and was pleased to see that it seemed to have an effect.

Ingebold didn't have much in the way of ranged attacks and so made do with a bless spell, and while Finoula's preferred weapons were her swords, the fact that Winkidew's potion was still in her system meant she could do something unexpected about getting within range. Tucking the end of her ponytail into the back of her cloak - she didn't want it presenting itself as an easy-to-tug target - she walked up the side of the corridor's wall, stepped onto the ceiling, and crouched down to traverse the length of the corridor. Once at the open doorway right before the larger chamber beyond, she had intended to swing around and attack the second dread guard from behind, but was caught off guard by what she saw.

The chamber beyond had six sides, rather like a rectangle with its closest corners chopped off. It was filled with an acrid-smelling liquid, with a mere inch-wide ledge running along the circumference of the room. On the far wall was a small alcove containing a cross-shaped opening on the far wall. But it wasn't the room that caught her attention so much as the words being thrust directly into her mind.

"Finoula Cloudshadow!" said the voice, a masculine tone sounding like a man at the prime of his health. "It is you, at long last, as the prophecies have foretold! I am Malaterminus – 'Slayer of Evil' – an enchanted longsword placed here by those who would keep me away from you, the elven woman destined to wield me to great effect in the unending battle against evil. I am in the cross-shaped crevice in the far wall. You must retrieve me, but take care, for the pool before you is filled with a deadly, corrosive acid.

"Save me, Finoula!" the sword continued. "Release me from this prison, that we may forge our destinies together, and strike out at the evils that plague our world!" The elf could tell from watching the others that they did not hear any of what she had just heard - apparently the sword could only telepathically talk with her?

"What up with that elf?" griped Gilbert as the first of the dread guards crashed to the ground. "She in this fight or no?"

But Finoula had left the corridor, running along the ceiling above the pool of acid to check out the cruciform shape in the far wall. The alcove was slanted backwards, and once she got close enough she could see the cross-shaped slit in the wall was a good eighteen inches deep. Furthermore, it was too narrow for her to stick her arm into it.

"How am I supposed to get you out of there?" asked Finoula with a sense of frustration.

"I am unsure," replied Malaterminus. "Do you have something you could slide into the opening?" Finoula tried putting her longsword into one of the cross-slits, but couldn't get it underneath Malaterminus's own crosspiece. By this time, it was getting hard to breathe from the acidic fumes, so the elven ranger ran back to the corridor to catch her breath. By then, the others had finished off the second dread guard, and seeing Darrien the solution to her problem came immediately to mind.

"Darrien!" she said. "Can I borrow your bow?"

"Um, no," replied the half-elf. "It's attuned to me, remember? If I give it to you, it'll turn into a giant spider and try to kill you."

"Oh. Yeah. Right," muttered Finoula. "Well then, see that cross-shaped hole? Think you could shoot the inside of it with one of your web-lines?" Darrien squinted at the target, readied his bow, took a deep breath, and let fly. Mentally, he commanded the arrow to transform into a line of spider silk during its flight.

Darrien's shot was true. Running across the ceiling back to the alcove, Finoula carefully pulled Malaterminus out of his prison. "Who put you here in the first place?" she asked aloud.

As usual, his reply was telepathic. "I was created centuries ago by a diviner who studied the future. He saw that one day, long after his death, the fate of the entire world would rest upon your shoulders. To aid you, he created me as a sentient tool to help guide you. But just as there are those who would do what they can to ensure your success in saving the world, there are those who would prevent you from fulfilling your destiny. Fearing I could not be permanently destroyed, these forces thought to hide me away. But as you can see, our destinies are stronger than their machinations. We are united at long last, you and I!"

"She crazy," Gilbert theorized, for the others could only see that Finoula was talking to her sword - not that it was answering her back.

"I heard that," Finoula said, returning to the others with Malaterminus in hand. "And no, I'm not." She then proceeded to fill them in on the history of her new sentient longsword.

"That's quite a story," said Binkadink. "Did it say how soon you'll need to be saving the world?"

"I gather it's a while yet," she replied after conferring with Malaterminus. "He says we'll have time for him to get used to my fighting style, so he can learn to anticipate my swings. In time, he'll be able to guide my hand and help me to strike true. And he was built specifically to fight fiends, so I imagine the threat will come from the Lower Planes."

"Great," muttered Ingebold.

"Let's move on," suggested Castillan. "There may still be more to see in this dungeon." He was secretly hoping there might be yet another cool bit of sentient treasure he could claim for himself. Returning to the cylindrical revolving door, they positioned it directly south and found another passageway. There was a locked wooden door to the east and an open room to the west. After determining the door was locked but not trapped, the group decided to save that way for later and checked out the open room. It was filled with various instruments of torture - racks, an iron maiden, and the like, all rusted and looking like they hadn't seen any recent use.

"This dungeon's becomin' a bit more literal than I'd be likin'," commented Ingebold.

Moving south from the torture chamber down the only other remaining corridor, the group ran into a similar-sized room containing three empty cells along the entire western wall. Yet another corridor led from this room to the east, only to be blocked by a closed wooden door. But before the group had a chance to go very far into the room and investigate the door, the northeastern corner of the room moved, splorching directly into Binkadink's path.

"Whoa!" yelled the gnome, leaping to the south. The patch of wall now occupied the space he had just left, cutting him off from the others. It looked like an ambulatory section of the wall, taking up a five-foot square and brushing against the 10-foot-tall ceiling of the room. The pseudoslab oozed toward the others, completely absorbing Ingebold into its body mass. It would have done the same to Finoula, but unlike the dwarf Finoula had plenty of room to maneuver on the ceiling, and she backed off, standing upside-down directly above Castillan.

"That's somewhat disturbing," commented the elven bounder, readying his shortbow.

Inside the pseudoslab, Ingebold could feel acid starting to eat away at the exposed portions of her skin. The creature's secretion's also had a paralytic effect, but the dwarf was able to shrug off the paralysis and push her way all the way through the stone-mimicking tower of gelatinous protoplasm. Binkadink, hacking away at the side of the pseudoslab, was surprised to see it suddenly bulge toward him and expel Ingebold, covered in slime. Binkadink grabbed her by the hand and helped pull her free, then stepped between the cleric and the pseudoslab in case it had any ideas about trying to engulf her again. This gave Ingebold a chance to heal herself of the acid burns, but the gnome needn't have worried, as the pseudoslab's primitive sensory organs told it a greater mass of potential food stood to the north and it headed that way, forcing the others to back up into the torture chamber again. But concentrated fire, both of the arrow and the spell variety, was enough to destroy the pseudoslab. As it died it lost control of its form, and it slowly leaked into a thick pool of goop that flooded both the torture chamber and the corridor to the south.

"Ick," remarked Finoula, glad she was safely on the ceiling and away from the decaying mass.

"Let's check out the door," suggested Binkadink. It was unlocked, and he whipped it open and stepped back, ready for action. But the chamber beyond was mostly empty, containing only a corpse on the ground before a fireplace. The body had a dark sack or something on his head, or so it looked at first; it was only when a tentacle twitched that Binkadink realized this was some sort of creature with a strangle-hold on what the gnome belatedly realized was Thomas, the poor soul who had called up to them through the chimney shaft. If only he had known his words would awaken the darkmantle resting within the chimney! Binkadink and his glaive made quick work of the darkmantle, and then he and Ingebold rejoined the others in the torture chamber.

By the time they had retraced their steps, Castillan had worked open the locked door just outside the revolving door section. Inside was a treasure chamber, with a large chest against the far wall and a suit of plate mail armor standing over it as if guarding it. The bounder crept closely to the armor, examining it closely, and then the chest, before announcing that both seemed safe. Gilbert cast another detect magic spell and saw that neither radiated any magical auras.

"Here goes!" said Castillan, flipping the lid to the chest open and stepping back. Inside, the chest was close to overflowing with coins - but closer examination showed them all to be copper pieces. The bounder did some quick figures in his head, and determined there was probably only the equivalent of 20 gold pieces in the chest - but 100 times the weight and bulk of 20 gold coins. He swore in Elven; only Finoula and Darrien understood exactly what he said.

"Maybe there's a hidden bottom to it, where they hid the good stuff?" suggested Darrien.

"I doubt it," grumbled Castillan, flipping the lid closed again and lifting up a corner of the chest to look underneath it - and inadvertently exposing the opening in the floor directly beneath the chest. A set of narrow steps led down to a lower level.

"Give me a hand with this!" he ordered the others and they lugged it aside, fully exposing the hidden stairs. "This is more like it!" he enthused, practically leaping into the hole.

The entirety of this lower level was a single room, about half the size as the false treasure room above. This one also had a similarly-sized chest against the far wall, and on the wall above it hung a finely-crafted steel shield. A smaller box sat beside the chest. This chest was both trapped and locked, and while Castillan was unable to bypass the fire trap successfully, he had much better luck with the lock. And the treasure inside the chest was much better than the copper pieces in the previous chest, for this one held gold coins and glittering gems - all to a combined total of about 12,000 gold, after the bounder had time to go through its contents. The box contained four potions - all of them more than likely crafted with a bit more care than Winkidew Dundernoggin typically gave.

"This will buy Kordovia quite a lot of armor and weapons," said Ingebold proudly. "Methinks King Galrich had the right idea about forming up an Adventurers Guild after all." The others all agreed.

Only Gilbert Fung found the downside. "Now we have to lug it back up to surface," he complained. "And past biters and wrinkly-men."

Fortunately, the jermlaine and osquips had taken enough losses from their initial encounter with the Kordovian Adventurers Guild that they stayed far away in their hidden caves while the heroes lugged their hard-fought treasure back up to the surface.

"I think we'd best start back for home in the morning," suggested Darrien as the exhausted group finally finished making their camp among the ruins. They let Obvious take the first guard shift.

- - -

This was a fun adventure for all of us. I usually give the players a generic idea of what the next adventure's going to be about, and "dungeon crawl" was all Dan needed to hear to start champing at the bit. Vicki, while initially suspecting that something bad would happen if she pulled Malaterminus from its crevice (apparently life with Dan has helped his paranoia to rub off on her), was ecstatic to learn she's a "chosen one" who will one day save the world. I reminded her that the divination didn't say that she'd save the world, merely that the fate of the world would one day be on her shoulders. (In other words, success is not guaranteed.) In any case, I explained Malaterminus was currently a +1 fiendbane longsword but would increase in power (and abilities) as Finoula reached higher levels. Right now, Malaterminus has a continuous detect evil ability and the ability to communicate with Finoula telepathically. It can also shield both its alignment and Finoula's so the demons and devils they'll be fighting in the future won't get a heads-up on their good alignments. Vicki's eager to gain levels and see what else Malaterminus can do, and I can't wait for his future abilities to manifest, either. But all in good time.

- - -

T-Shirt Worn: I have a white T-shirt that I made into a very specific D&D shirt many years ago. On the back of it are the nine members of the Monster Hunters Association, the protagonists of a series of "Ecology" articles I wrote back in the AD&D 2nd Edition and D&D 3.X days. But more importantly, on the left side of the shirt's front is a picture of Ozzie the osquip, the familiar of Buntleby of the Western Grove, one of the Monster Hunter wizards. The pictures of Ozzie and the Monster Hunters are taken from various issues of Dragon Magazine, using a scan-onto-an-iron-on sheet system my wife picked up. This shirt seemed like the perfect shirt to wear for this adventure, and I figured I could bluff my way past the players (who have learned that the T-shirt I wear to a game session often contains a clue to that session's adventure) by claiming it was just a "generic D&D shirt" of the type I wear when I don't have anything thematically appropriate to wear. No such luck; Logan's first words upon seeing me in my Monster Hunters shirt was, "We're fighting osquips, aren't we?" Sometimes I'm too clever for my own good.
Last edited:



I thought I'd take a moment to discuss the miniatures we use for our PCs. In our previous campaign, we used a mix of plastic D&D Miniatures and metal miniatures, the latter sometimes being painted and sometimes being just bare metal. (Dan and I each have a small mini collection dating back decades. None of mine are painted; some of Dan's are.) For this campaign, I found a female dwarven shield maiden in the D&D Miniatures line that was perfect for Ingebold, so I picked it up long before we even started up this campaign.

But since we had decided the basic structure of this current campaign over a year before we finished up our previous one, we all had plenty of time to decide what types of PCs the players would run. Dan and I no longer work in the same office but we're both still in the same building, and one of his new co-workers was an exceptional mini painter. Through this co-worker, Dan made us all an offer: find a metal mini we liked for each PC and he'd have this co-worker paint them all for us for a nominal fee.

So we did some searching on-line and Logan came up with a gnome fighter he wanted to use for Binkadink. We sent Dan the make and model of the mini, as well as the color scheme Logan wanted it to be painted. The rest of the players did likewise, and Dan sent all of the info to his friend.

And then we waited. And waited. Finally, we were finishing up the previous campaign and about to start up this one, and the only mini we had on hand was Ingebold, the NPC (and spare PC in case of death). So I put some of the token-building skills I'd amassed over the years to good use and came up with a temporary "Plan B."

One of the things I do for my players is provide them each with a 6-part folder for their characters. The first section holds their character sheet, and the second contains an attack matrix I built that shows their "to hit" chances with each of their weapons. (As they level up, they update the Base Attack Bonus column, which modifies the final "to hit" chances.) The next section is a description of all of their class abilities and feats, and then there's a place for their equipment (mostly descriptions of any magic items and check-boxes for wands and such that have a specific number of slots). Spellcasters get a section listing their spells; those with familiars or animal companions have a section for those stats, and so on.

I have the players provide me a picture of their PC. In Binkadink's case, it was a color photo of a painted miniature of the same make and model Logan had chosen for his gnome fighter. Likewise, Dan selected a painted photo of the miniature he had picked out for Gilbert Fung. Vicki found a painting of a female elven ranger wielding a thorny whip to represent Finoula; Jacob found an elf with a bandanna over his lower face (from a video game, I believe) he chose to represent Castillan, and Joey used a painting of an elven ranger shooting a bow from a Wizards of the Coast book. For the PC folders, I took each image, blew it up, added the PC's name underneath it, and printed it off. It then got attached to the front of the PC folder with a piece of clear Con*Tact paper several inches bigger than the picture.

So, facing the beginning of our campaign without PC minis, I took these same images and shrunk them down to the "one inch equals 5 feet" scale we use for the rest of our miniatures and battle maps. These images got printed off onto large white address labels, cut out, and attached to blue poster board. Each image was placed onto an upright rectangle of poster board of the appropriate size with two triangles on the sides, in such a way as there was a strip of sticker sticking out below the bottom of the rectangle. Then I cut out one-inch squares of the same blue poster board, rounded the edges, and attached the bottom portion of the PC stickers onto these bases. Since I didn't have pictures for the backs of the PCs, I took each PC's image, opened it up in the Paint program, reversed the images, and then colored the whole shapes in black, so I ended up with a reverse-image black silhouette of each PC. These also got printed out onto white stickers, cut out, and placed on the back sides of the stand-up PC tokens I had made.

The end result is a stand-up miniature of each PC (they stand up by bending the two triangles behind the central rectangle) that is recognizable from both front and back, and which has the added advantage of being able to be folded down flat when not in use (or when the character is unconscious). Between sessions, they sit in an old check box labeled "THE PARTY," which also contains such things as the plastic jackalope, two plastic mules, and the simple wagon I built out of scrap cardboard.

In the meantime, Dan got word that his mini-painting friend had gotten behind on his painting schedule, to the extent that he hadn't even purchased our selected miniatures yet (his preferred method is buying everything himself and getting paid in full once he turns in the painted minis), but had just gotten word he was being transferred to another duty location. He volunteered to hang onto our order and get to it when he could as his schedule allowed, but Dan, realizing that this would likely be another half-year delay (or longer), canceled the whole thing. And then he ordered them all on-line himself, thinking we could learn to paint them.

I think they came in right before we went through our fifth adventure in this campaign. The new Castillan, Gilbert, and Darrien were put to use immediately in their unpainted state. Binkadink's scabbard was bent, but we ignored that and pressed on with it. Vicki's new Finoula miniature, however, required some assembly before use, as her two arms had to be glued into their sockets, so she opted to stick with my "upright token" Finoula mini. And even though Dan had picked up a female dwarven cleric for use as Ingebold, we all decided the plastic D&D mini we'd been using for her looked better than the unpainted metal mini Dan had purchased.

In the meantime, Dan did some research and found out that one of our local gaming stores has an informal painting class every Wednesday night. He offered to take Logan and I there so we could all learn to paint minis; Logan readily agreed, but I had to beg off, as I doubt I'd be well-suited to such a hobby. (Plus, as DM, I already use my free time to write up the adventures, crank out the monster stats, print off the tokens and initiative cards, build the geomorphs, and so on.) So last week, Dan and Logan brought their new minis to the painting demo, bought some brushes and a jar of white paint for a base coat, and learned the basics of miniatures painting.

Due to a prior commitment, Dan couldn't make it this past week, but the two of them are planning on hitting the demos from now on. In the meantime, Logan opted not to take on the intricacies of Binkadink as his first painted miniature; instead, we looked through my collection and picked out an old Ral Partha owlbear for him to use as his practice mini, due to its relatively simple color scheme (brown feathers with maybe some white mixed in, yellow beak and talons, black base coat and eyes). Plus, I also have a griffon and a hippogriff (also from Ral Partha) that should be able to be painted using the same color palette, so those should give him plenty of practice before he commits himself to Binkadink's mini.

And in the meantime, we have our "stand-up tokens" to use.

An Advertisement