Session 5 had our heroes headed out of Fort Frostfell, leaving the wight undisturbed and the place unsearched. And the first thing our druid says as they walk out? “I look for basilisk tracks.”
Okay. Well. The monk left the suits of animated armor, which was pretty unexpected, and she really wants that basilisk . . . so there they go.
On the way home, they’re intercepted by Bazig, whom Chillwyrn had fetched at their request. Bazig, it turns out, is not a traitor from Tomar’s Crossing but a bandit leader . . . half . . . ogre? Putting aside heredity questions, the party quickly ascertained that Bazig was ready to deal. Especially once they impressed him by volunteering that a) they’d pretty much emptied the fort and b) they did not loot Chillwyrm’s lair.
He offered to take them where they were headed and get them in, if they’d help him take over the Black Skull Bandits. Once he was in charge, they could take the prisoners and go, and he’d get his group well away from Ralakai’s conspiracy.
That sounded good to all of them and they choose not to stop at Tomar’s Crossing, but send the rescued prisoners and supplies, along with both wagons and their horses home.
Bazig dispensed with his bandit accompaniment (who were loyal to his boss) and they found tracks indicating that the basilisk had found some humans to hunt. Going that way they ran straight into a cult meeting.
Long story short, after stopping the basilisk from eating even more cultists than it had (Bazig and Aang bonded over a bet about how many it would get before it was stopped), the druid convinced the cultists that they needed to find some things from a ‘holy list’ before offering any more sacrifices. They freed 2 people, one of whom was the Villagemaster’s niece Alleria, and continued their journey with a new entourage.
There was some contention over whether these people (who had murdered their families before beginning their journey in search of more sacrifices) were mad, driven mad by their clay tablets, or just plain evil.
Bazig got them inside Gardong Marhold as new recruits (they left the cultists outside for a bit) and sent them to see his boss. Here, I made a second mistake. Instead of having Therrath Shortcloak give them the job of cleaning up the upstairs to prove themselves, I had her ask them to kill Bazig. They asked for time and left to discuss the situation, and I think, because they wanted Bazig’s help. He was firm about having his hands full with the rest of the bandits so they went back in there to face Therrath on their own, after being sure she was alone.
Therrath was a handful, with a parry reaction that lifted her AC and 3 attacks and per turn. She took the druid down to 1 HP with her first attack and the druid morphed into an owl and took flight. (Things would have been different had a realized that 2nd level druids couldn’t morph into creatures with a fly speed . . . but I didn’t).
Therrath went after another target, but before she could hurt them too bad, the Druid in (illegal) Giant Owl form picked her up and dropped her again. I gave her saves, which she failed, so the falling damage took her down far enough that she offered to surrender for her life. The cleric lept all over that and they found out where Ralakai is holed up. Bazig came in and immediately tried to kill their captive but Ren was determined that he wouldn’t. Bazig, ever out for the best deal, (and the GM, ever out to go back to the story she’s abandoned) told them they could have Therrath’s life if they cleaned up the upstairs.
Rin agreed. Keziah refused. And there, on the brink of a split party, we adjourned.
Session 6 had the cleric’s character back down so that there was no split party . . . after I’d prepped for a split party . . . They gave Therrath to Bazig to kill after all. I fretted about how to feed them the info that upstairs was supposed to give them, the treasure that I’d hunted down stats and pictures for, and the cool encounteres.
While I was fretting, I ran part of what I’d planned for Keziah– they woke up to a murdered cultist and a comatose cultist (the one that had been caught in the comet dust storm and had been having bad dreams since). They fed the basilisk and had a discussion that enabled me to use Bazig to tell them some history about the cult they were dealing with, then took the prisoners they’d rescued, the rest of the cultists and headed back to Tomar’s Crossing. No looting, and Bazig didn’t offer to share . . .
The druid encounter I’d planned for Keziah seemed less fun with all three involved so mysteriously murdered a couple more cultists and Keziah became certain that the coma-guy was doing it. They made it back to town in time to see Ren’s mother being bullied aby a couple of refugee priests. They stepped in with diplomacy and saved the day.
They put the cultists in the Temple and took the rescued prisoners to the refugee camp where Keziah noticed a fight between a large commoner and a small noble. She discreetly interfered, tripping the noble while no one saw, so that he lost the fight but she made no enemies. She found out that the nobles from Safeharbor were throwing their weight around and filling out their servant ranks.
She brought back someone who could read the cultists’ clay tablets in the sanctuary of the Temple, but he told them it was a bunch of gibberish– albeit violent gibberish. In the meantime, Rin’s mother found a history book that shed more light on the ancient danger the cult represented.
Aang went and caught up with Jorney and Someth and collected the funds the Villagemaster owed them. He heard of a refugee noble who’d been making some noise– Cadicca LeBlorne.
The next morning, Brinner asked Keziah to be her new apprentice, since her old one disappeared. Keziah immediately decided there was cult activity in town.
Kadra Tormaline showed up to gift Rin with a jewel of brightness and news. She also tried to hide the fact that something has her very worried. Her friend didn’t pry, however.
As the group came back together Paumine Sandalwood approached with a request that they bring back some zombie rats for her on their next foray. Keziah pitched some social reforms to her and an alliance seems to be in place.
After this session, Keziah’s player noted that there was just too much for her to keep up with. She’s a new mother and I deem that concessions should be made . . . so I created a wiki of sorts that they can add to.
I decided that if they didn’t want to engage with certain parts of the narrative, I wasn’t going to bang my head up against the wall trying to be sure that they didn’t miss anything. I did my best to fill in informational gaps and I’m going to let the encounters and treasures of Gardong Marhold stay untouched (unless I give the treasure to Bazig)
I was also confused about leveling. They should level at the end of Gardong Marhold . . . even if they missed half of it? Is the level for surviving long enough to leave? Not sure. I’ll let them level after next session and call it a day.