After missing one week’s game due to a holiday, and a second week’s game due to unwanted weather conditions, we finally came back to playing Kingmaker. When we last left off, the party had finished dealing with the bandits threatening Oleg’s trading post, and were preparing to leave for exploration of their chartered area. Before leaving, Elysia the Half-Elf Ranger took some time to speak to Oleg about her suspicions regarding the silver stag amulet recovered from the corpse of Happs Bydon, he who led the bandits against Oleg’s trading post that morning. Elysia believed it might possibly be the sign of the Stag Lord, man who was rumored to have taken command of the bandits in this area of the Stolen Lands. Oleg could neither confirm or deny these thoughts, but did say that he had heard rumors of this Stag Lord from the various traders and trappers who had passed through. Elysia also got some other information from Oleg, such as knowledge of some of the surrounding terrain and a large wild boar roaming the Narlmarshes which may be profitable to hunt down and kill.
The party set off for exploration (but not before deciding to offer a minor bit of healing magic to Oleg), now equipped with a wagon, a horse for each of them, and enough rations to travel for at least six days if not more. They spent the rest of the day exploring, revealing the rest of the hex containing Oleg’s Trading Post, and decided to return to the outpost for the night to rest safely. Upon the morning, Gavriil the Human Arcanist offered up another healing spell to Oleg, who was feeling much better and more thankful towards the party as a whole. Svetlana too was a bit more amicable to the party, and even asked Gavriil if he might bring back any moon radishes that they found during their travels so she could make Oleg’s favorite soup. As the group left the trading post, they encountered Kesten Garess, sent from Brevoy to Oleg’s Trading Post in order to ward off bandits. Eneko the Human Bard took a few moments to chat him up before the group continued onwards with their exploration.
The next day the party headed south-east to explore more of the plains, camping in the grasslands that night. Upon the morning, they broke camp and discovered a lonely hut in the middle of nowhere. Elysia quietly snuck up to the hut and peaked inside, spotting an old man looking quite disheveled and dirty. The inside was sparsely furnished, but there was what looked like potion making supplies laying about. Elysia reported back to the party what she saw, and the knowledge triggered a memory in Gavriil– he clearly recalled hearing of an old hermit living out in the Stolen Lands selling potions to any passersby. “Old Bokken!” he exclaimed, and rushed towards the hut! Bokken came out to greet the party, and invited them inside when Gavriil showed great interest in his potions. Noruas the Human Gunslinger opted to stay outside with the wagon and horses, as opposed to continuing inside to talk.
Conversing for a bit, Old Bokken told many a rambling tale to his captive audience, speaking mainly to Eneko and Gavriil. The two were able to hear more about the surrounding area, as well as Bokken’s claims of having once fought a dragon, having lost one of his fingers to his crazed brother, and having been a great adventurer back in his day. As the Arcanist attempted to bargain down Bokken’s prices, the old hermit let them know that if they were able to bring him some Fangberries, his special potion-making ingredient, he might be able to offer them a discount on any of the potions he had for sale. As the party left, he also informed them that he’d be more than happy to brew them any potions that they’d like, if they but give him enough time.
Upon the eve of their fourth day of adventure, Elysia was on night watch duty when she caught the unmistakable sound of something moving through the woods. Cautiously she woke the rest of the party, and it was then revealed to them that a large grizzly bear was lumbering its way towards the campsite. Noruas immediately went to calm and secure the horses, while Eneko and Gavriil attempted to come up with a plan. Elysia snuck away from the fire into a flanking position out of sight of the bear, just in case, while Gavriil decided to toss some of his food over to the creature. This seemed to please the bear, as he turned to look at the Arcanist and yowl for more. Gavriil continued to throw his food towards the bear to keep it happy, long enough for Eneko to move out of the bear’s way and use his Bardic magic to make a noise something like a female bear coming from a direction opposite the party. This seemed enough to distract the bear long enough for the group to move cautiously away, then hike two and a half miles away to make a second camp for the night.
More excitement was not to be seen for another two days, at which point the adventurers came across a field littered with piles of animal bones. Gavriil, after examining some of the bones, concluded that the bite marks on them might possibly have been caused by rats, creatures which he is deathly afraid of. Gavriil decided then to allow the rest of his friends to continue investigating as he remained well outside the multiple piles of debris.
As Eneko, Noruas, and Elysia continued into the bone-littered field, Elysia was taken by complete surprise as a large brown spider darted out of a hidden flap in the ground to bite her on the leg! Pretty badly wounded, she recovered quickly and was even able to shake off the poison that the spider tried to pump through her. The group reacted in surprise, with the majority of them retreating to better positions further away from this new threat. When next the spider came out, Elysia was able to kick its reaching fangs away, and even cut off a leg as it retreated towards the safety of its trapdoor. It never reached that safety however, as a musket shot from Noruas splattered the spider all over the immediate area. The threat, for the moment, had passed. Before they left the group searched the area for loot, finding a small amount of gold and a map tucked into a half-devoured bandit’s boot that appeared to point towards the roots of a lone claw-shaped tree on a small hill. Tucking this information away for later, the adventurers decided to finish their exploration of the area for the rest of the day.
Night on this sixth day was met with another encounter. Early in the morning hours, before the sun arose, it was Gavriil on watch who was able to spot several dark shadows making their way towards the campsite, and he moved quickly to quietly wake the others. Noruas, Eneko, and Gavriil all gathered at the wagon, with the Arcanist and the Bard hiding underneath and the Gunslinger remaining inside. Elysia readied her bow for a strike, and the party waited for the opportune moment…
Gavriil opened up when he saw the shadowy figures draw close enough. He let loose with a Sleep spell, which sent two of what had by then resolved into six bandits into a deep slumber. The remaining bandits, realizing that they did not in fact have surprise on their side, decided to abandon all attempts at subtlety and shout the attack. This attack was short-lived as arrows from Eneko and Elysia skewered one man, Gavriil Dazed a second bandit, and a musketball tore through the third who appeared to be the leader of the group. The remaining bandit left standing attempted to run away, but Eneko lept upon his horse and decided to chase him down, eventually felling him with a combination of spells and arrows.
Back at the campsite, Gavriil and Elysia took to the interrogation of the two bandits who the Arcanist had Slept, tying them up and asking them questions while Noruas looted the corpses of their companions. The first bandit seemed rather unhelpful, and was eventually silenced with threats while the second did his best to convince the party that he was sorry and would never thieve again. Unfortunately this man, Gregor, was not the sharpest tool in the shed, and though he seemed to be genuine in his wish to help the party to prove his worth, he was overall rather unhelpful in informing the group where his camp was, how many men were there, or who the Stag Lord was. Fortunately for him, his pleas for mercy were at least partially answered as he pledged that if they took him to Oleg’s trading post, he would remain there to cobble shoes like his father before him, in an honest profession that involved no lying, cheating, stealing, or banditry. Gregor’s companion was not so fortunate, as his refusal to answer any questions resulted in Eneko swiftly executing him with one of Elysia’s swords.
The session came to a close with the group deciding to travel back to Oleg’s Trading Post in order to deposit the possibly reformed bandit, though whether this would be for a new start for Gregor or to submit him to Oleg’s judgement was not clear to me.
GM Comments Section (Players, don’t read this!)
This session was pretty fun. I was a bit nervous about the exploration of the world, as I wasn’t quite sure how random encounters would fit into the story and was worried about not being adequately prepared for the group to go to a location I wasn’t 100% familiar with on the map. About an hour before the session started, I decided to take a look through the book at each of the hex encounters nearby and read up on them, so that I could have the best memory of what would happen there before the players would stumble upon it. To that end, I had some weeks ago during my planning for the campaign made maps on Roll20 for most of the major encounters presented in the book, but this doesn’t cover all of the fights and definitely doesn’t cover random encounters. I quickly threw together a few backgrounds and copied in the players’ tokens to each map so that, if they rolled a random encounter, they would have only minimal wait time for me to prepare before the action could continue.
With this small collection of backgrounds matching the different terrain types that my party would be adventuring through, I went ahead before the session and rolled three results for each of the map terrain types I had made, giving me a total of nine possible random encounters which I could quickly set up. In this way, I continued to have the party roll their percentile dice as they entered and slept in hexes every day, and the two times they hit the correct percentage I simply chose one of the appropriate terrain encounters I had previously rolled up and prepared. It was in this way that the four first-level characters came into contact with a CR4 grizzly bear, which I had decided would be satisfied with eating a majority of the party’s rations instead of fighting. During the encounter, Gavriil was 100% behind continuing to feed the bear his rations, and among all of the party he happened to have the most available. Eneko didn’t like the plan of throwing away all the food however, and in desperation to not fight the bear yet not waste resources, came up with the idea to use Ghost Sound to lure the creature away, which I thought was a good alternative to feeding it into oblivion. Even so it still took out a decent chunk of their food before the Bard enacted his plan, and thus I feel the encounter satisfied multiple goals without being deadly.
The bandits, on the other hand…did not go anything like I expected. The encounter called for 1d6 bandits, for which I had rolled the maximum of six. The idea I had behind it was that these six bandits were a party sent out from Kressle’s bandit camp to perform general acts of banditry, and the way the timeline played out these men had left just before word of the party’s defense of the trading post had reached Kressle. As such, they found the group’s camp in the early hours of the day and, not knowing how dangerous their prey might be, prepared to sneak up on them and rob them. A poor stealth roll and a really high perception roll later, and surprise was out the door. Two failed Will saves after that, and numbers weren’t even on the bandit’s side. These bandits weren’t able to get off a single attack before they either died or ran away, which means that during the entire campaign thus far enemy NPC’s have made a total of three attacks, only two of which have hit.
Our Gunslinger has been a major source of damage for the party so far, each of her shots that connect having some devastating damage– thus far it’s almost always been in double-digits, pretty impressive for a first level character. It seems that this comes from a combination of my own homebrew rules being a little unbalanced (I included a way for the characters to gain certain specific feats through skill point expenditure instead of needing a feat), and a misunderstanding on both my and Noruas’ players’ parts about how reloading and rapid shot works with a musket, the rules for which I only looked up after yesterday’s session. Looks like I may be stepping up some of the encounters that the party comes across in the future, depending upon how things go after the rapid shot and reloading misunderstandings are corrected.
Other than all of that…I am excited! The party is returning to Oleg’s at the beginning of the next session, and that means that they’ll meet Jhod, follower of Erastil and quester for the Temple of the Elk! I’m thinking that during the six days the party spent away from the Trading Post, Kressle would have reacted to the group’s interference and possibly retaliated; Kesten Garess’s arrival to defend the post means that I can simply have the NPC’s report to the players that anything from a small skirmish to a large assault was repelled, depending on what I feel might have been the most appropriate response. The group has managed to come about a third of the way to level one so far, and I suspect that after the next session they will have completed at least one of the quests given to them, as well as explored several more hexes and possibly stumble upon Kressle’s bandit camp or the Mite lair, which could either repulse them or get them most of the way to level two. I’m looking forward to what comes next!