The session began with a Kingdom Phase, which the players handled with alacrity. At their monthly council meeting at the end of the month, the party gave a plot of their land over to the use of the Church of Gorum as per their agreement with the church for their funding, as well as ordered the construction of a guildhall for the White Wolves. Some less-than-stellar tax rolls later, and the party was making about as much as they were spending that month. As well, the kingdom’s General, Davik Azazeal, brought to the council’s attention the rumors that were flying around the kingdom now– that trolls were marching through the south! These rumors were given all the more credence after the battle near the sawmill just a few months prior, but Baron Eneko, the Human Bard/Cavalier, helped the citizens of Tolemac remain calm in the face of potential threats, avoiding unrest being added to the kingdom.
Having decided that they had sat on their backs for long enough, the party took off from their capital of Elbat Dnuor the day after their council meeting, ready to explore more of their surroundings! They decided to head north and east, to map out the Shrike River to find where the waterfalls they had been told of were located. It didn’t take them long to find the Shrike Cascade, a tall waterfall that would halt any river-bound trade. The next day brought them alongside the Crooked Falls, a series of smaller waterfalls which also rendered passage further north-east non-viable.
The party’s further exploration took them back west a little ways, ensuring that land closer to their chartered area did not remain unmapped for any longer. From there, they moved back along the river which split from the Shrike at Crooked Falls, going south. It was along here, around mid-day, that the party, riding alongside the river, began hearing an odd caw-shriek noise coming from across the river. Elysia the Half-Elven Ranger and Gavriil the Human Arcanist moved forward a bit and looked across the river, where they saw odd-looking chicken-dragon creatures. Elysia was able to identify these creatures as cockatrices, with several of the territorial beasts nesting on the other side of the river. Though the Ranger wished to take them on, the rest of the party, including Noruas the Human Gunslinger, all voted to avoid them for the time being, sneaking away without them taking notice, but marking the nest on their map.
Further travel south, now into the mountains! Here the party found an old watchtower sitting high on a mountaintop. Noruas and Gavriil ascended, the first by climbing and the second by levitating, to investigate. The tower was old and decrepit, with nothing interesting inside, but they were able to look out over the valley below them, and to the east saw a town sprawling out on the plains past the mountains– the capital city of Varnhold, the nation established by Maegar Varn to the east in the Nomen Heights!
Taking stock of the time they had until they needed to return to their capital, the party decided to forge on, exploring more of the mountains for the next week. Eventually, they came to a place known as Talon Peak– which Noruas recalled, upon seeing an old structure atop a high peak, was home to an enormously large bird known for snatching whole horses off the ground! Taking precautions like wrapping cloth around their weapons and maintaining as much silence as they could, the group decided to shy away from the peak for the moment, needing to hightail it back to Elbat Dnuor to help run their kingdom. Indeed they made breakneck speed back home, and were able to arrive just in time to perform their administrative duties.
After a week of work and a Kingdom turn, in which Tolemac claimed the two Shrike River hexes containing the waterfalls and suppressed more rumors of troll activity to the south, our leaders went out again to explore some more! The first day while traveling, they were almost surprised by a stalking Warg and his wolf pack! Though the party attempted to talk with him, he seemed intent on attack, and was promptly put down with ease. The next day, continuing west from the capital, saw Elysia spying a crag in a nearby hill which appeared to open up into a larger space inside…and so, the party entered the Lonely Barrow!
Tolemac, Year Two, Month Two:
Size: 15 Cities: 1 Control DC: 36
Loyalty: 34 Stability: 32 Economy: 32
Unrest: 0 BP: 29 Consumption: 0
Holidays: 12 per year Promotion: Standard Taxation: None
PLAYERS, DO NOT READ!
Back to exploration! Party-level gameplay, for the majority of the session, for the first time since the kingdom was founded! I was a bit surprised about the party’s direction of exploration at first– preliminary ideas had them telling me that they were interested in revealing the rest of the map that was present from the first book, yet instead it was decided to check out the river and space to the east near Varnhold. Thankfully at the end of the last session, I had planned out and placed borders for where I thought Varnhold had expanded to up to that point, and so they were interested to see the kingdom borders along side many of the hexes they explored. The Varnhold Pass was claimed and named in the kingdom turn directly after the PC’s explored it, giving them their first actual glimpse of another kingdom claiming territory. There is already talk of trying to expand quickly to Talon Peak and the hex where they found the Cockatrice Den in order to keep Varnhold from claiming sources of interesting interestingness.
The Cockatrice den was an old random encounter that I’d prepared weeks ago for the party, when they talked about exploring the river hexes on their way back from Restov before their kingdom was built. Thankfully, all I had to do to level it up to them was add another Cockatrice, but as it turned out most weren’t interested in fighting them (the ranger on the other hand was eager to fight, since they were Magical Beasts, Elysia’s favored enemy!). They did wish to mark the location in case they came back though, which I see as promising– perhaps they will want to come back one day and make pets!
Talon Peak was another interesting location– the party got lucky in that the Roc which is supposed to live there (a CR9 Encounter I believe, and with its ability to fly, it would likely have spelled doom to at least one PC) rolled the percentile chance to not be home, and so they snuck away unfettered. This too they want to come back for– I think they got the idea that the giant bird, though never named as a Roc, was above their abilities at the moment.
For our campaign we use Roll20 as a virtual tabletop and a way to video in to all of our players in various locations. One big bonus of this medium is that I was able to find online a hex map of the entire Stolen Lands, from books one through six, all in a single image. This image was uploaded to Roll20 and placed on-screen for the players to explore, and so they can travel through the entirety of the Stolen Lands at will, as it were, if they so wish! I love that in this adventure path, they are completely able to explore the Nomen Heights while they still know nothing of the area to the south of them– it’s very open-worldy, and I love the player choice and agency involved!
That’s all for now– join us next time as the party enters into the Lonely Barrow to face the undead horrors within!