Kingmaker in Eberron

Book 2 Chapter 05 - Mary had a Little Lamb

Boudreaux, Marshal for the city of Waterview and country of Valdrik was taken aside by a few of his scouts shortly after returning to town. Something…unexpected happened a few days ago. And the local guards/scouts weren’t quite sure what to do about it.

“Since you were out of town sir we weren’t sure what to do about the situation. But we think there’s been some…murders? We found two bodies. One this morning.Another the previous day. Since we don’t have any kind of coroner’s office or even a proper graveyard we had to settle for what we could find. Folks that could be discreet at least. If you’ll follow us sir we’ll take you to the Scaleri Brothers office.”

A short ways through town led Boudreaux to a small shop with a sign above the door, reading “Scaleri Brothers – Troubleshooters Extraordinaire” with two crossing shovels underneath the writing.

Boudreaux spoke with the brothers, who seemed to be ‘for hire’ specialists willing to take on any job if it paid. A weapons rack against the wall was filled with assorted shovels.

In a small backroom the Marshal was shown two bodies. One of a young boy, not even twelve years old lyind dead on a table, next to the body of a Halfling girl that was maybe in her late teens or early twenties. Both were slightly eviscerated…the markings of a deadly animal attack. The boy was named Beven Inaris, shepherd. He was found in the early morning out in the fields alongside a half dozen dead sheep…but the whole scene was…weird.

The girl was Saki Runthorn, local maid for one of the Inns. She was apparently gathering berries for breakfast after getting off work in the early hours of the morning near the outskirts of town and was attacked on her way home. Boudreaux investigated the bodies and found some…disturbing evidence. There didn’t seem to be anything magical about the attacks but the organs of the two victims…a successful Heal check indicated they were partially transformed into pig organs.
What. The. Hell.

This requires further investigation. Sending word to get the other smarty-pants arcane folks (Alanea, Sidney, and Tarvis) to meet up with him to investigate the bodies Boudreaux went out to investigate the crime scenes. Both scenarios shared some similar characteristics. Vic was alone late at night, attacked suddenly, not given the chance to make a sound. The body dragged into nearby brush and chomped on a bit before the creature left. Other disturbing details revealed that a few of the other ‘sheep’ that were killed now looked like very dead pigs.

The detail that stood out the most however was not the set of paw prints that dragged the body into the nearby brush…it was the bipedal humanoid footsteps that came out of it and were heading back towards town. This was indeed out of the ordinary.

Heading back to the Scaleri Brothers office the others had arrived and were briefed on the situation.

Tarvis, Alanea, and Sidney immediately recognized the two ‘brothers’ as none other than the two surviving bandits from the raid on Oleg’s Trading Post their very first defining moment within The Stolen Lands. Well, they’re not bandits anymore so I guess technically the past is the past…

Ray Scaleri: “Oh god the dwarf isn’t here is he?”
Tarvis: “No, but you’ll have to see him if you want to get reimbursed for your blood stained tables…”
Ray Scaleri: “Ffffffffffff…”

Unknown to most however, the two Scaleri Brothers were totally on Tarvis’ payroll as part of his spy network.

Regardless, Tarvis took another look at the bodies, scanning over them with some detect magic to see if there was anything magical about the attack…and paused as he realized there was an illusion cast over these bodies. There was a faint transmutation aura on these bodies. Whatever had caused their insides to start changing into pig ones was magical in nature.

A heal check by Alanea similarly confirmed that no one had just snagged organs from these two and replaced them with pig ones.

Dox, the Councilor for the nation had the unfortunate duty of letting the families know about the passing of their loved ones. It wouldn’t help anything to start a panic by spreading rumors about what this creature could be before the council could confirm it. The Inaris farming family took the news as well as could be expected after learning their son was killed in an animal attack. Perhaps sadder though was that Saki the maid had no local family. She’d migrated south from Stormreach and gotten a third-shift job at a local inn, working out a deal on a side room for herself. Dead with no one to mourn her loss.

MEANWHILE back at the Scaleri Brothers, Alanea was using her investigative spell Blood Biography to learn more about the deceased. The answer to “how the blood was shed” revealed a few fleeting moments of Saki’s life before it was cut short. The answer wrote itself in Alanea’s notebook “I was walking home from picking berries, and I thought I heard my Great Aunt’s voice. I turned to see where she was but I couldn’t find her. And then I was attacked…”

Alanea paused, going over the facts they had discovered so far…a strange creature most likely a large four legged predator capable of changing its shape. A clever hunter that seeks out those alone and vulnerable. Those signs points to a Lycanthrope of some kind – which is strange in and of itself especially since they’re considered completely extinct back in Khorvaire due to a crusade by the Silver Flame hundreds of years ago at this point. But then again we aren’t in Khorvaire anymore.

But the other bits of information…transforming into pigs…hearing voices of kindly loved ones…it reminded Alanea of fairytale stories. The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood. But those are just stories right? …right?

Regardless we don’t want to alert the members of the Silver Flame congregation that could end…badly. Rather than alert anyone by locating some silver weapons, Sidney cooked up some Weapon Blanche and Silver Sheen for anyone who didn’t already have access to a silver weapon.

A plan was slowly forming to catch this clever predator. Guard duty for the city was doubled. A meeting was held by Ogg, Lucius, Boudreaux, and Septim to go over the plan for the evening. There was a wild animal coming – a clever one. Dangerous and a killer. So we’re increasing guard duty for the entire town and are going to be planning patrols to span out in a net pattern to cover the city. So we’re going to go over a few precautions.

Anyone close to retirement? We’re cancelling it temporarily. Do not say things such as “this job is easy”. “it’s almost morning”, “I’ll be right back” – DO NOT GO OFF ALONE – do not play scary tricks on one another, and various other common sense methods of not being picked off one by one by some terrible beast.

With their net of guards, scouts, and patrols working in tandem for the evening (and a successful Kingdom Check by Valerie to inspire the Loyalty of their troops to work together well) the group of Boudreaux (wildshaped into a fluffy harmless sheep with a pink collar labeled “Fluffermuffin” on it), and Dox who had shifted her form into that of an innocent looking young girl named “Annie”would be playing the part of walking her pet sheep in the wee hours of the morning.

The rest of the plan involved Alanea, Tarvis, Lucius, Eleanor and Aurum hiding in a nearby murder blind that covered their scent as well as their bodies.

Sure enough sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning ‘Annie’ heard a voice call out to her…it was Basilia! She’d received her letter early and had already arrived in town! (Note: Will Savefailed) Not even the protests of the druid in sheep form could prevent the girl from running off so the sheep resigned itself to clinging to ‘Annie’s sock and was pulled along for the ride.

The eager young girl/changeling ran around the nearby corner to meet her idol only to bump into a hairy seven foot tall killing machine bearing a greataxe. And then came the teeth. Flesh-tearing fangs sunk deep into ‘Annie’ and dragged her off her feet. Both Boudreaux and the terrified changeling could easily tell that the creature currently assaulting them was none other than a Werewolf. A werewolf carrying a greataxe!

The rest of the gang quickly leapt out of the murder-blind but couldn’t close the gap to the creature before it let out a howl and brought its greataxe down upon the prone and defenseless girl, nearly cutting her in half.

The fight was brutal. ‘Annie’ spent the majority of the fight slowly crawling away from the werewolf leaving a trail of blood on the ground, but still managing to belt out some Bardic Music to help the rest of the party.
“I am officially declaring the name of this persona to no longer be ‘Annie’…it was so obvious…she is now named ‘Mary’! And ya know what? Mary had…a little lamb…” (Yes, this was her Bardic Music choice)

If not for the timely appearance of some town guards (thanks to Tarvis’ player using the [b]Plot Twist Card: Unwelcome Arrival[/b]) the werewolf probably would have killed ‘Annie/Mary’ with his greataxe. However…

Three guards rounded a corner stumbling upon the situation during their patrol, apparently having gotten lost from the others. Seeing the werewolf attacking a defenseless girl walking her sheep the guards drew crossbows and fired three quick shots at the monster – one even managing to crit! The other two bolts bounced off harmlessly while the third sunk deep into its back, drawing the werewolf’s attention from ‘Annie/Mary’

The werewolf faced the three guards and drew in a deep breath growing almost impossibly large in a distorted body kind of way as it sucked in a great amount of air and finally letting out a massive gust of air from its mouth that sent the guards rolling back and onto the ground and their crossbows going flying away. The gust of air traveled far, finally leaving a large impact in the side of a nearby barn.

What the fuck was that!?

Tarvis, Alanea, and Boudreaux (changing back to his normal self from sheep form) engaged the werewolf in combat while Lucius started lining up deadly shots with his arrows from afar. Eleanor used her impressive speed to swing around the werewolf to setup a flank. The three guards played a quick round of Rock-Paper-Scissors once they realized they would have to engage the slavering killing machine in melee combat. The winner ran off to bring more reinforcements, while the two losers solemnly drew their longswords and stepped into the battle. However, they did realize that they were not quite big enough for this ride but did provide flanking bonuses as well as Aid Another on Eleanor’s AC and To Hit bonuses during the fight.

The strength of the werewolf was incredible. It cleaved through the adventurers carving deadly gashes out of their hides. Missed attacks tore chunks out of the side of the building they were next to. A critical silver-arrow from Lucius (telling one of his family stories as he tends to do when making any attack) and a shocking-grasp spellstrike from Tarvis finally brought the werewolf down. As its breathing slowed and the bulging muscles relaxed, rippled and faded away the unconscious form of a green-skinned half-orc was revealed beneath it all.

Next time on Kingmaker…Crime and Punishment!

Level 5 Reached!
XP Gained – 1000xp each character for Kundal and story resolution.

XP Total and to Next Level

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Book 2 Chapter 04 Extra

Councilor/Director of Public Relations
Over the past few months your liaisons and contacts from Stormreach and beyond have been helping to spread the hopeful messages of Valdrik and its growing potential. The people are generally happy despite the dangers of living in such a dangerous place as Xen’drik though there are concerns about the potential problems of an increasing Warforged or Undead population. While there are no outright opponents to these declarations so far, there is a tension waiting in the air.

In regards to your PR campaign for Valdrik however there is some surprising news. A letter has been placed on your desk the next time you come back to your office.
“To Dox. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I have been asked by my employer Miss Basilia Baxton to inform you of her desire to throw a benefit concert for the people of Valdrik upon the anniversary of the founding of the nation. I look forward to hearing a positive response and continuing correspondence in preparation for the concert.

Respectfully yours, Mr. Raconteur”

Other rumors of interest.
While your connections in Stormreach initially alerted you to the official founding of Valdrik by the Dragonmarked Houses you were currently attending the parade that the rest of the city was celebrating – a heroic capture of a dangerous Remorhaz by the famous adventurer Castruccio Irovetti. A somewhat famous celebrity around Stormreach the parade was also in celebration of his new venture – heading off into the wilds of Xen’drik to bring peace and prosperity to it.

General/Director of the Military
Your country has yet to form a proper military. Or even a proper militia really. While there has yet to be an organized attack a country without trained soldiers is just waiting for disaster. Thankfully the closest organized group seem to be friendly Kobolds, but the training of House Deneith is sorely lacking in this place. There are a few retired soldiers or Deneith house members within the community – Septim Garess you recognize as carrying a greatsword with the mark of Deneith on it though he seems unwilling to talk about his training or connections with the house.

Your reputation within the kingdom so far is one you are all too familiar with – being underestimated due to your vocabulary and looks. But given time and the opportunity to prove yourself this will change.

Grand Diplomat/Director of Foreign Affairs
You are the head of the foreign policy of Valdrik – and you’re not really sure what to do about it. It’s much easier to deal with books and stories than people but you’re learning fast. The Sootscale clan seems genuinely interested in creating a stable relationship, or even becoming a part of Valdrik but there are a few more cultural hoops to jump through it seems. Integration will be challenging due to the power=right to rule nature of the kobold clan. Can they even be ‘civilized’? Should they be? It’s hard to say.

High Priest/Director of Spiritual Matters
There have been a few religious matters that have popped up since you showed up at this strange new ‘clan’ that have decided to settle down in one place in the middle of Xen’drik.
All throughout your youth your mother explained that you have a touch of the divine within you, though it is unclear what that means. You are only beginning to understand the faiths of these new worlders and how some are at war with one another spiritually. Thankfully this has not broken out into open conflict within Valdrik itself though there is unease by the so called “Worshippers of the Silver Flame” and a relatively small group practicing a faith called “The Blood of Vol”. The majority of the people of Valdrik are worshippers of a group called “The Sovereign Host” that conveniently seems to have deities for almost anything you want to worship.

Magister/Director of Magic and Education
The majority of the growth of Valdrik so far has been based on economic expansion it seems. Farms and homes have been added sure but sawmills, taverns, mines and such have been the focus so far. Your task of creating a working bureaucracy for the nation has been challenging considering your collective offices for yourself and your small team has been a small house in a residential area. Thankfully your nation’s stationary has all been engraved with the image and/or name of your precious daughter DeeDee. It’ll be easy to continue coasting on your laurels for the time being, but people will probably start expecting things like…schools or places of continuing education at some point in the near future.

Marshal/Director of Interior Defense
Strange flora and fauna seem to abound in this place, and its missing a level of class that can only be found at a polite family gathering back at the family mansion. But such a level of class cannot be expected in such a barbaric land. You have a few explorers working for you to help keep track of the kingdom’s borders and check out nearby areas.
Recently you’ve received a few requests to make an official inquiry into “something that ain’t right off in the woods west o here Marshal.” From some of the local farmers.

Spymaster/Director of Intelligence
Your spies and scouts within the kingdom and near its borders – as well as the few adventurers you gleam information from have a few bits of information that have caught your ear. Off to the west of your kingdom a place named “Fort Drelev” has been founded. You’re fairly sure it’s just a more concentrated attempt at creating a stable environment in Xen’drik much like Oleg’s Trading Post but you’re not entirely sure.
Here are a few other rumors you’ve picked up from your network.
1. The Stag Lord has risen from the dead! He’s gathering some kind of ghostly army to take his revenge on everyone from an ancient giant crypt to the east!
2. A green dragon lives somewhere in the Narlmarches, eating anyone it comes across.
3. A hag known as the Swamp Witch lives in a marsh on the northwest shore of the Tuskwater. She consorts with demons, steals children, and boils them in her magic cauldron.
4. There’s some kinda ruin off to the west that looks like it has some ancient elven markings on it.
5. There’s an island referred to as “Candlemere” in the middle of a lake that is connected to the Tuskwater. Strange things happen there…as if the walls between this world and the spirit world is thin there.

Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer
Things are going economically well for the kingdom so far. The dragonshard mine has been safely secured and with a little luck the Sootscale kobolds might be willing to start trading their silver for other goods. The means of producing complex goods is slowly increasing and the strength of the kingdom’s gold coin is still recognized by Stormreach and a few random wanderers through the area. Balancing the books and your second job has been keeping you busy lately but the time and effort will all come to fruition once the brewery you’ve started begins making some good old fashioned dwarven ales and possibly even some new local favorites. Overall things are looking good. However in the near future it may become necessary to start seeking a more complicated place to begin placing some of the kingdom’s coin other than a few secure safes – after all the ruling council is currently just living in residential houses. It works for now, but for how long?

Royal Enforcer/Justice of the Peace
There hasn’t been much serious call for services from one such as yourself so far. A fine country boy with a good eye for raisin cattle an the like an you bring your services to bear as the “Justice of the Peace”. There’s been a few criminal acts within the kingdom – what place doesn’t after all – though nothing as serious as murder or late night phonecalls from angry married couples. Most of your time has been spent coordinating with Dox (Councilor/Director of Public Relations) and Boudreaux (Marshal/Director of Interior Defense) to make sure that the general populace feel safe, happy, and protected. Meeting at Dox’s office has been a little awkward what with some of the singin an dancin but he/she seems like a nice fella/lady. Boudreaux travels the borders and organizes patrols more than you do though occasionally you do ride alongs to check on some of the folks a bit further out at the farms or mines.

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Book 2 Chapter 04 - Things tend to be ridiculous
In which our party explores the surrounding area of their capital.

Continuing their adventuring of “We should probably actually explore the surrounding territories on our capital’s border” the group headed southwest from where they encountered the Winter Wolf in the middle of the night. Unfortunately their passage was blocked by a river that was connected to the Tuskwater Lake – the same lake their capital bordered. As it was turning out this body of water was pretty damn big.

While the river had no natural place to cross, that wasn’t going to deter out nature going group of adventurers! Ogg’s warhorse and Lucius’ Dragonhawk companion easily crossed the river while a cut down tree and some ropes were necessary to get everyone else across safely. But at least no one was swept away.

Continuing along the path of the Tuskwater lake they encountered a natural mud bowl close to the shore…the mud filling the place was bubbling softly and seemed to be naturally heated by some sort of geothermal activity. Not to mention the rolling stench that seemed to waft over the party in waves of putrid odors…the place seemed like a natural pit for all manner of fungus and mushrooms as well – some towering out of the mud at over ten feet tall! Cassie and Lucius were the nature experts this time and discovered a rare kind of mushroom growing out of the muck. The Black Rattlecap mushroom was only about 8 inches in height and scattered around the whole mud bowl and was known to be used in various kinds of foods and even some magical properties when used correctly in various rituals or magical spells.

In addition to discovering the Rattlecaps, Cassie (who managed a 32 on her Survival check) realized that the huge moss covered boulder over there was not in fact a boulder at all. It was one of those…giant plant things. A Tendriculos! That’s right. A carnivorous plant with an intellect only slightly higher than an animal, easily over twenty feet tall with long plant tendrils that pop things in its giant maw and expose them to a paralytic poison while slowly digested by acid!
Oh and the more you make noise and move around in its presence the higher the chance it notices you!

…Cassie, how close are we that you can see that thing? Thirty feet? (Hooray for the blind oracle curse coming into play!)…its moving isn’t it? CRAP!

Initiative was rolled as the group squared off against the mighty Tendriculos while standing foot deep in stinking mud. Beaudreaux managed to keep the creature staggered with a shivering cold spell, but it was not enough to stop the creature from snapping up Eleanor paralyzing the poor southern belle dinosaur and popping it into its maw. A timer was now on to rescue Beaudreaux’s beloved dinosaur companion.

Both Lucius and Cassie started lighting up torches, knowing that only a bludgeoning weapon or fire damage could cause a Tendriculos’ unnatural regeneration to stop. If you did not have either of these things when fighting a Tendriculos it ultimately would never die. Ogg and his faithful warhorse’s powerful charge abilities were hampered by the inability to charge through the deep mud but the combined efforts of the group were beginning to wear the creature down…and then it reached out with its tendrils and grabbed both Cassie (who was bearing flame) and Valerie (who was using her warforged arm to deal bludgeoning damage to it) plopping both of them inside its maw. While both girls managed to resist the paralytic poison – they were now inside the creatures stomach alongside poor Eleanor.

Then, Cassie’s player handed over the Plot Twist Card – Gluttony …the poor Tendriculos had bitten off more than it could chew. With Cassie’s torch billowing smoke throughout the creature’s stomach it hurked once, twice, and then vomited Eleanor, Cassie, and Valerie back into the mud while the others looked on in horror. The creature flailed its tendrils and would not stop vomiting! It was everywhere as its maw flailed about covering everyone and everything.

“I will never be clean again…” Valerie
“You think fullplate keep slime out…you be wrong” Ogg, on raising the faceplate on his helmet to scoop Tendriculos ichor off of his face.

A final well placed arrow from Lucius popped a spore laden sac on the plant monster and began deflating it, the creature’s death throes like a sad Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man until finally, completely flat the veggie corpse was spread across the mud bowl.

Ya know, disgusting as this creature was…the naturally heated mud of this place could really come in handy if put into the proper hands… (Mud Bowl counts as a Resource! fanfare)

Off to the west of this area stood a ghostly looking tower off in the distance, on an island in the middle of a small lake. The group had heard about this from Tarvis’ rumor gathering before they left the capital…this must be that ‘haunted place where the lines between worlds are thin…” Candlemere island, on Candlemere Lake.

Beaudreaux was excited to explore the place! But…that requires crossing the lake to get there. We’ll get a boat! ….uh we don’t really have boats. There are some fishermen back in Valdrik we could borrow them from! …but those are only really designed to hold about two people at a time. The most advanced boat at the capital could still only be pushed off of the shore…lack of a proper Pier prevented any advanced boats from being necessary or even possible.

Sidney could make use some Swan Boat feather tokens! …but he’s not here…

MEANWHILE, BACK IN VALDRIK
Sidney: achoo! …huh. That was weird. Welp, back to inventing stuff.

The group descended into complicated discussions of elaborate ways to use Beaudreaux’s flashy spell Campfire Wall (which the group had been using lately when bedding down for the night.)

“We should keep this spell up all the time!” Beaudreaux
“We can carry around a source of flame in a wheelbarrow or something and be surrounded by fire all the time!”
“Imagine showing up on a Swan Boat surrounded by fire…that’s the right way to make a first impression.”

(GMs Note: I had never heard of this spell before tonight but it is apparently in the APG as an evocation spell. It creates a 20 foot radius sphere of FIRE from an open flame source that lasts two hours per level and grants total concealment to anyone on the opposite side of the flame, does fire damage to anyone passing through the fire, and illuminates them with torchlight that makes them plainly visible. So while this does make a giant “HEY WE ARE CAMPING HERE” sign for anyone seeing the fire from afar, it does make a natural deterrent for wild animals. This thing is awesome for traveling parties.)

If they were going to get any kind of boat transportation to check out this Candlemere place and find out if it truly was haunted they were going to have to get back to Valdrik and get themselves some reliable water transportation.

An alternative plan for reaching the island was also discussed – after all Beaudreaux could wild shape into an aquatic animal if need be. But the group still had no idea what kind of dangers if any lived in the Tuskwater. So the southern half-orc from the Shadow Marches did what any druid would do: ask the local wildlife. Using the Druid Spell “Commune with Birds”
Beaudreaux called all of the local birds within a mile radius. The spell allowed the druid to talk to all of the local birds and gain a consensus answer for a single question – “Are there dangerous predators in the Tuskwater Lake?”.
A veritable menagerie of birds answered the call. Beach going birds, tropical birds, flightless six foot tall axe beaked birds, hummingbirds, predatory birds such as falcons and hawks…and since it was a bird and in fact nearby this also counted Lucius’ very own Dragonhawk companion!
For ten minutes Beaudreaux walked among the birds with clucks, ticks and flapping his arms like wings to find out what they knew of the surrounding area.

“Tell me Aurum (the Dragonhawk) what do you know of the local area.”
In a cockney accent the bird responded “I’m new to the area meself you know I don’t know nuffin about no lake. But since I ‘ave your attention you should tell ‘im to feed me treats more often.” (Aundair, the country of origin for Dragonhawks, is practically magical Great Britain after all)

A consensus was finally reached however and the birds confirmed that there were creatures in the lake big enough that they considered them dangerous predators. So aquatic dino-rides would probably not be the best approach.

Crossing between the Tuskwater and Candlemere lakes via a connecting river the party made their way back towards Valdrik while simultaneously exploring the last unexplored border hex. That evening they witnessed the rumored “Candlemere Lights” from the lakeshore…watching mysterious lights bobbing, weaving and dancing around the ruined tower.

As they explored the final hex near their hometown they discovered a mud and thatch hut in the middle of another swampy mud hole. The hut was surrounded by a pleasant wrought iron fence and a cobblestone path leading up to the front door. Assorted rows of vegetables and herbs lined a small garden area that was guarded by a pumpkin-headed scarecrow. A wooden post was planted in front of the wrought iron fence that read in everyone’s native language “No Solicitors. Go away.”

A shiny tempting bronze bell hung next to the front gate of the fence that proved too irresistible for Ogg.

(This group is going to have a running thing with ringing bells I just know it…)

The group had found the source of one of the towns rumors – the “old hag that eats children and consorts with demons!” In truth, as far as the group can tell, the hut is the home of an old elven (drow? They aren’t really sure) woman whose skin has turned green, her hair whispy and thin who is missing most of her teeth and was hard of hearing. Introducing herself as “The Old Beldame” rather than give a proper name the grouchy old woman grudgingly accepted the strangers into her home at dusk and made tea for them all while asking what they were doing out in the middle of Xen’drik. More adventurers I presume?

“Well no miss we’re actually securing the nearby borders of our town, Waterview.”
“A town? You mean there are more of you?” replied the old woman.
“A few thousand actually. We’ve been here for six months..”
“Good heavens I really must get out more…”

The Old Beldame’s small hut was covered wall to wall with tiny bits of clutter here and there. Scrolls hung from the ceilings, mud shelves were formed in the walls and were filled with little knick knacks here and there. Any dishware was mismatched sets that were likely traded with passing adventurers or made from the nearby clay and mud from the marsh she lived in. A strange old broad that liked sassy banter though seemed to honestly take offense at being called “beautiful” by Beaudreaux.

The other notable fixture in her home was a large bookshelf, with a great stand placed in front of it containing a large black book with a rather large lock on it.

Noting that the old woman had a knack for arcane power the group offered her the Black Rattlecap Mushrooms they had managed to save from their battle with the Tendriculos. The Beldame knew what they were and even where they were from…offering to trade them a fair amount of her magical creation services in return for the rare mushrooms. It seemed a good deal all around so a bargain was struck.

Cassie helped to place the Rattlecap Mushrooms in a nearby cabinet in the Beldame’s kitchen while the rest of the group gathered their things, and accidentally knocked a small knick knack out of place while placing the mushrooms in the cabinet. A small figure, barely a few inches in height shaped like some sort of elk skull – but in the form of a helmet. Huh. Weird. Cassie placed the item back in the shelf and bid the old woman good night.

“Before you go…a bit of advice if you’re planning on visiting that Candlemere place…I can see it in your eyes after all. People say it’s haunted but it’s not. Those lights you see? Will O’ Wisps. Dozens of them. They seem drawn to the place for some reason…be careful.”

No one in the party knew precisely what a Will O’ Wisp was aside from old folktales of leading travelers astray in the forest and getting them lost. Malicious evil things.

Without further incident the group of Valerie, Lucius, Cassie, Ogg, and Beaudreaux made their way back to town. Beaudreaux was stopped shortly after the gates by a few of his scouts – Jenkins and Rider. “Sir we’ve been looking for you for days, hoping you would make it back soon. Listen we have a…situation…that needs your attention…”

With an ominous warning by his scouts Beaudreaux excused himself to take care of Marshal business while the others settled back into town.

MEANWHILE
A tired exhausted secretary crawled her way to the desk of her boss, Sidney d’Cannith dropping a humongous stack of papers on his desk. “S…sir…the project is completed. May I go home now?”

“Well let’s see what we have here.” Sidney replied as he began flipping through the stationary. There was nothing official on any pages, but a slow moving image of Sidney’s beloved daughter DeeDee began skipping down a street. She encountered a puddle. She laughed and jumped in it. She bumped noses with a duckling. It was super adorable.

“Three minutes forty five seconds.” Sidney nodded with an impressed grin. “You’re relieved for the day.”

Crawling from the office with her hands like withered husks the poor public servant made her way home for the day.

Trouble is afoot as the Marshall investigates the death of two citizens and the group coordinates plans for the rest of the year…next time, on Kingmaker!

XP Gained
“Howl of the North Wind” Quest Complete. 2000xp
Three Hexes Explored – 600xp
Tendriculos defeated – 2400xp
Black Rattlecap Mushrooms Quest Complete 2000xp
The Old Beldame and her Scarecrow 5600xp
Total XP = 12,600 / 5 = 2520 each

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Book 2 Chapter 03 - Open the door

Tonight’s session ended up being a bit shorter than normal with answering questions about kingdom building as well as finishing up secondary characters.

Since the group was going out exploring again, Septim dropped off two official requests made by the Kingdom.

There were rumors of two wild beasts in the surrounding area – some large creature that local hunters had only referred to as “Howl-of-the-north-wind”. It was a wily beast that had been troubling local hunters for years…and now with this influx of hundreds of civilians it was in the city’s best interest to take it out before it developed a taste for human flesh. (Quest received!)

Secondly there were reported sightings of a large draconic looking creature somewhere in the Narlmarches forest expanse off to the south west. The rumor (which it hopefully is) is that the creature is not in fact a dragon but merely a forest drake. Deal with it in some fashion. (Quest received!)

With this information in hand the group of Beaudreaux (with his classy lady dinosaur companion Eleanor), Ogg (with his war-trained horse), Cassie, Lucius (with his trained Dragonhawk), and Valerie

(I warned my players now…I may be running an Animal Companion only adventure in the near future.)

Things were looking well as the group explored the nearby area to the east of the capital…well…things went well during the day at least. In the middle of the night while Ogg and Valerie were on watch, Ogg realized that the group was being surrounded by creatures hiding in the tall grass, while Valerie was able to spot the beady glowing eyes of the creatures sneaking towards the camp. Ogg decided it would be best to alert everyone to the danger immediately by banging loudly on his own fullplate armor.

The large wolf-like creatures leapt amongst the camp – five in total. The one with the glowing white eyes staying suspiciously hidden amongst the tall grass. (While no one in the party had the relevant knowledge check to figure out what the things were I’ve acknowledged that they were Worgs in the log)

The creatures began biting and dragging our heroes though not without receiving some counter attacks. Ogg’s tactics advice gave a great advantage during the skirmish, granting everyone around him the ability to make use of the Teamwork Feat: Precise Strike (which even included the Dragonhawk and the Dinosaur companion with their higher-than-normal Intelligence scores…)

The tide turned in favor of our heroes though the great ‘leader’ of the pack remained hidden within the nearby tall grass…at least until the most threatening target made itself known. Beaudreaux wild shaped into a vicious dinosaur – leaping into the air to shred a worg into pieces in moments. As if in response a great wolf like beast strode forward from the tall grass leaving flecks of frost on the ground after each step. Breathing deeply a freezing cold blew across Beaudreaux freezing him to the done – but not killing the shivering druid. Ogg’s plan had come to fruition! Bad leader finally appear on battlefield!

Ogg readied his lance and charged into the beast, wounding it terribly. The combined efforts of the rest of the group brought the beast low as well as the rest of the worgs. The attack was ended…

Well, at least these creatures weren’t those grass-covered tree-striding wolves again. But they certainly had good tactics all things considered. A weird encounter all things considered…

Continuing to explore the countryside…next time on Kingmaker!

XP Gained
Worg – 600xp each x5 = 3000xp
Winter Wolf – 1600xp
Hexes Explored: 2 = 400xp
Current XP total = 1000 each

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Book 2 Chapter 02 - We Built This City

GMs Note: Most of this session was spent finishing up secondary characters and making their first few months of Kingdom Building Rolls with some RP in between to reflect on their choices.

(Introduce the new characters on the Ruling Council)

The capital city of Waterview was founded, and after creating a list of names for their fledgling nation, a consensus was reached – they would call their Kingdom “Valdrik”.

With a fiery passion the group organized work schedules with the settlers and began building a new place to call home. Korin led the decision of how their kingdom would expand for now, with the group in agreement that extending their borders to reach the Dragonshard Mine they had found while exploring this area would be highly valuable.

The second month of kingdom building added the Fangberry Bush patch into their territory, as well as building an Inn for their capital as well as a mine in the hills. Unfortunately a rather nasty bit of Xen’drik flora was about to cause trouble for their food stores…a troublesome moss referred to by travelers as “Ration Rot Moss” had a particularly nasty habit of growing quickly and rapidly decomposing all manner of rations. Most of the food stores for Waterview were affected and they faced a shortage for the time being.

The third month of kingdom building continued adding farms to their land especially after the food shortage. Wanting to add some industry to Waterview they also created a Quarry and a Smithy to start being able to produce their own material goods. Later that month, a letter arrived, carrying the official seal of Thrane. A pilgrimage was on its way to their town – a small congregation led by the ordained Paladin of the Silver Flame, Mirasandra ir’ Thavar. The church requested acceptance into their society and the permission to proselytize their faith. In addition, the government of Thrane would foot the bill to build a Shrine to the Silver Flame.
The ruling council accepted, with the understanding that this was not an acceptance of a national religion and the rules of their society would be respected.

The fourth month of kingdom building and the Dragonshard Mine was finally theirs! A mine was quickly built, and additional houses and a brewery were built in Waterview in celebration.
Korin: Money AND booze! My favorite things!
Sidney: Booze! My favorite thing!
In addition to also adding another farm to their kingdom, the druids, rangers, and high priest in the party realized that the bison-looking creatures with rhino like leathery hide seemed to have a supernatural quality to their meat. It did not naturally decompose. Food problems solved!

The fifth month of kingdom building, with the Dragonshard Mine safely added to their kingdom it was probably time to start expanding beyond a single line across the xen’drik countryside. A Sawmill, Fishery, and Tavern were added to the kingdom…
Korin and Sidney: More booze!
Mirasandra approached the ruling council again. Their shrine was serving its needs well and there was little disruption between the citizens of the kingdom and the small flock of Silver Flame faithful…but there was perhaps more to be gained from this relationship. Mirasandra brought an opportunity to the table. The kingdom of Thrane was interested in the continued relationship with the new nation – and wished to offer a show of good faith. Mirasandra hoped for an arrangement. By the end of the year the paladin wished to build a Temple to the Silver Flame rather than have a simple Shrine. The flock of the faithful would be willing to pay for half of the construction if the government of Valdrik paid for the other half. While they would be willing to wait until the end of the year for the construction of the Temple, Mirasandra wanted an official declaration for or against the idea now.

A delicate matter. This affected foreign relations, and religious matters. In the end, Dox/Yalandria the changeling Councilor met with the paladin over the delicate matter. The charismatic bard and diva managed to diffuse the situation – in addition to signing some autographs for the paladin’s acolytes. The option to build a Silver Flame temple would still be on the table but they would revisit the option after the one year anniversary of the founding of Valdrik.

Meanwhile! Alanea the official Grand Diplomat had been visiting the Sootscale tribe in between her trips back and forth to Stormreach – checking in and making sure everything was okay with the kobold clan. Eventually the party hoped to have the Kobolds join their kingdom, but diplomatic relations would have to come first. You can’t rush these things…well, when you’re trying not to just crush another society and make them your vassal anyways. And the kobolds were friends.
The Chief, as well as Mikmek and Nakpik were always happy to see Alanea and informed her they would be celebrating a birthing ceremony soon for the new generation of kobolds. Chief Sootscale would be happy to discuss a more official treaty between the two lands – but not right now. And you should bring all of the liberators of the Sootscale clan to the meeting.

Diplomatic relations were on the horizon…but things are looking manageable for now. However there was an unmistakeable itch to start getting out the door a bit…explore more of the local area.

XP Gained for All Characters
Kingdom Building Achievements Unlocked!
Founding a Kingdom – 600xp each
Establishing a Capital City – 300xp each
Reaching a Kingdom Size of 5 – 400xp each.

Total XP Gained for ALL characters so far = 1300xp.

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Book 2 Chapter 01 - The Founding of Waterview

The group had just received their new charter from The Twelve. They would be given time, money, resources, and a small group of hopeful settlers to travel with them back to the Stolen Land to found a new Kingdom. Now they found themselves in a quiet meeting room on a privately rented Lyrandar boat slowly traveling up and down the waterways of Stormreach.

The silence was deafening. Seconds ticked by, no one seemed to want to begin the discussion of just how to tackle the monster of creating an entirely new kingdom. They had been traveling, adventuring, fighting and protecting one another for months in the harsh wilderness…but how much did they really know about each other?

Tarvis and Korin quickly began planning what buildings to start building and how to create a successfully growing nation…while at the same time Alanea, Sidney, and Valerie were discussing who could take on leadership roles. Sidney was somewhat distracted by the idea that he wouldn’t be able to see his family for another year while the kingdom was being setup…

Valerie: “That’d be fine by me.” Valerie has awkward relationships with her family.
Alanea: “Why should it matter if you can see them or not?” Perhaps having different, but equally awkward relationships with her own family.
Tarvis: “You don’t want to see your family?”
Alanea: “They don’t really try to see me.”
Tarvis: “I feel kinda bad for you now…”

This was a perfect opportunity for Sidney to pull out his wallet which unfolded onto the ground with multiple pictures. “My adorable little girl, isn’t she just the most precious thing ever!?”

Sidney had a daughter? But he wasn’t married? Scandalous! That’s…hmm…that’s weird.

Right so then positions within this new government…well before we decide on that lets all set some ground rules.

(OOG note – while the Kingdom is still run in a standard ‘monarchy’ with some slight changes the names of the positions are changed slightly)

Name Changes
Ruler – Chief Executive Officer (Valerie d’Lyrandar)
Councilor – Director of Public Relations (not introduced yet)
Grand Diplomat – Director of Foreign Affairs (Alanea Shercroft)
High Priest – Director of Spiritual Matters (Cassie – not introduced yet)
General – Director of the Military (Hroth)
Marshal – Director of Interior Defense (Boudreaux d’Tharashk)
Spymaster – Director of Intelligence (Tarvis d’Lyrandar)
Treasurer – Chief Financial Officer (Korin d’Kundarak)
Warden – Chief Constable (Septim Garess)
Magister – Director of Magic and Education (Sidney d’Cannith)
Royal Enforcer – Justice of the Peace (Lucius d’Vadalis)

Laws of the Kingdom (so far)
1. The Ruler of the Kingdom does not have a hereditary succession. The CEO may be removed from office by a vote of at least 80% of the other high ranking members of the kingdom.
2. Citizens of the Kingdom have the right to own property, which shall not be infringed without proper recompense.
3. All people accused of a crime have the right to be brought before the Warden/Marshal or an appointed official before punishment.
4. A Record of all crimes will be kept by an appointed official.
5. Citizens have the right to personal safety.
6. Slavery is illegal.
7. Indentured Servitude contracts shall be reviewed by the Marshal or Warden for approval.
8. A member of the Board of Directors may step down and appoint an heir to the position, though this may be vetoed with a majority vote.
9. If the position is vacant due to death, crime, or sickness the board can make a majority vote to appoint a new person to the position.
10. The Director of the Military can conscript any able bodied adult for a militia in times of deress. (This is to ensure the kingdom is capable of defending itself until a standing army is formed.)
11. No religion shall be outlawed and free worship is allowed as long as it does not break any other laws.
12. If a detect thoughts reveals a creature to be self aware it is defined as a “Person” and is allowed to be a citizen of the Kingdom – this extends to intelligent undead as well as all Warforged. Final issues of self-awareness shall be left to the CEO with a veto made possible by a vote of at least 80% of the rest of the board members.

All religions would be respected. Even intelligent undead could live here as long as they don’t kill other citizens.

Valerie paused…she had something to reveal to the rest of the party. If they really thought she would do well as the ruler of this new kingdom…then it should be known at least to the other people she had bonded with over the past months. Finally removing the scarf around her neck a glimmering tattoo was revealed. Alanea immediately recognized it for what it was – an Aberrant Mark…in fact it looked like a slightly different Mark of Storm from House Lyrandar…as if two dragonmarks had been smushed together or growing off one another like a strange cancer. From the right angle her tattoo looked like it had a similar pattern to the Mark of Making from House Cannith.

Valerie: “My dad is a human!?”
Tarvis: “Does that make you a quarter elf?”

Somewhat surprisingly, while the acceptance of intelligent undead and full rights for warforged were settled without blinking an eye the fact that their ruler may be an Aberrant caused quite a debate. Korin was all for it – she had at least a good seven years or so before she would go crazy from it. Alanea had no problem with Valerie as long as she had the chance to study her extensively. Sidney offered to begin researching any history relating to Aberrant Marks to see if the whole “people who develop aberrant marks are dangerous, go crazy, and need to be put down” was true or not.

Tarvis, ever the practical one, simply suggested that since they had received their resources from the Twelve they should keep the fact that Valerie has an Aberrant Mark a secret, for now at least. Though he did bring up a point… “Dragonmarks get bigger when they become stronger…if yours grows Valerie, won’t it show up on your face?”

A couple extra days were spent settling affairs in Stormreach…and then they headed back out into the Stolen Lands.

The first order of business was to establish a capital city – and the perfect place to do so was The Stag Lord’s Fort. Within a month the city of Waterview was founded, a number of Houses Built a Farm Started and a Mill built by the waterside of the lake…all just in time to be threatened by a Typhoon! However thanks to the quick thinking of the members of House Lyrandar the buildings were secured just in time and nothing was blown away…

Alanea: “A Typhoon!? Here!? How!?”
Sidney: “Xen’drik.”
Alanea: “Oh…right…”

Next Time on Kingmaker – A Year of Kingdom Building!

Kingdom Advancements -

XP Gained -

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Chapter 11 - The Dawn of a New Age

The Fort of the Stag Lord was (mostly) conquered and locked down by our group of adventurers. Deciding to err on the side of caution before determining what threat, if any, existed in the basement they bunked down for the night with the rest of the bandits safely unconscious and tied up.

(4th level reached upon resting! Yay!)

The rest of the bandits awoke to find themselves both tied up and with a hangover…and were given the same offer the adventurers had given the others “Give up your life of banditry or face the rope.” The already repentant bandits Topper Red and ‘Silent’ (who really was more of a captive anyways) were set free but chose to hang around anyways. Jex ‘the Snitch’ the gnome, Celthric “Handsome” Kilburn the human, ‘Father’ Avery Tossino the dwarf, Falgrim Sneeg the human, and the hobgoblin soldier Markard Ironmark all opted to give up their lives of banditry…unfortunately the group decided to rescind that offer to Falgrim since they still had a Wanted Poster for him…

“I thought you said you’d forgive my banditry and let me go?”
“We did, we never said we would forgive any other crimes you’ve committed.” Alanea/Korin

Leaving Akiros to watch over the captive bandits the group finally descended into the cellar of the bandit fort to figure out just what exactly this “creepy old man” was. After some misdirection by some scuttling dire rats the creepy old man made himself known by slipping out of the stone wall with a blade of flame in his hand after summoning some Earth Elementals to try and kill the trespassers in his ‘home’. A combination of the elementals and a critical strike from the flame blade nearly killed Valerie but thanks to Sidney stepping up to protect her as well as the rest of the group disposing of their own elementals and rats the old creepy man was finally struck down by a combination of Tarvis’ shocking staff and Korin’s deadly greataxe.

What followed was an accountants dream of counting the piles and piles of stolen (ahem “Acquired” goods – Korin) goods that the bandits had accumulated over their time in the stolen lands.

Heading back upstairs the group was somewhat surprised to find that Jex the Snitch and Clethric Kilburn were dead on the ground. “You said to keep the competent ones around that could be trusted. They were shady.” Said Akiros.

Well…hell. Alright. Since they were ultimately only interested in keeping Falgrim around they offered to let the others go under the promise that they would leave the area of at least 100 miles from this part of Xen’drik and give up their life of banditry. Silent and Topper Red wanted to accompany the group back to Oleg’s at least…Topper agreeing to head all the way back to Stormreach eventually. This was enough excitement as a bandit to last a lifetime. The Warforged Auchs seemed to have attached himself to Alanea, following her around when given the opportunity.

The group made a quick pitstop on their way back to Oleg’s to drop the body (minus the head) of the Stag Lord into the river that flowed past Nettles’ Crossing – the watery-body of the ghost dragging the body into the depths as a burbling “Thank youuuu….” Flowed across the waves of the river bank, the impressive looking Ranseur that the old bridge keeper kept washing up on the bank as a ‘gift’ of sorts for sorting out that whole ghost-revenge business.

Both Sidney and Valerie worked on Auchs’ body over the course of their time heading back to Oleg’s managing to repair him physically though there was still some brain damage left that they would need to work on.

A letter was waiting for them upon arrival back at Oleg’s Trading Post – a request from The Twelve itself that the group should return to Stormreach upon their successful mission of toppling the Stag Lord and finishing their exploration of their chartered space of the Stolen Lands of Xen’drik. Coincidentally since they had just finished that they sent an RSVP back before beginning their own journey back to Stormreach… (stopping off at Bokken’s hut to return his fangberries to him as well as giving Falgrim Sneeg to Septim Garress and fulfilling the Wanted Poster as well.)

What awaited them back at the port city was as grand a meeting as one could expect from the mercantile houses of the Dragonmarked. Strangely though there seemed to be more of a buzz about town – a parade of some kind. Even in the distance the successful explorers could see a large iron cage being dragged through the town containing a humongous blue creature with multiple limbs being shown off as if some prized catch.

“I think someone is upstaging us…” Tarvis

But no time for checking that out, there was hob-nobbing to do!

A reward of 5,000 gp and a new charter was handed to the party, granting them the “Right to Rule” the area of Xen’drik they had finished exploring.

“Be it so known that the bearers of this charter, having delivered the northern reaches of the Greengelt from the scourge of banditry, having provided detailed maps of the lay of the land, and having done no small amount of work in the exploration of said land and the culling of hostile monsters and indigenous hazards are hereby granted the right to rule. The nature and laws of rule are theirs to define, and the wellbeing of this new nation is theirs to protect. In accordance for providing a stable land to the south of Stormreach, let there be a generous stipend of funds, support and advice provided to this fledgling nation as a token of the Dragonmarked Houses goodwill, such that future relations between organizations may be mutually beneficial. So witnessed under the watchful eye of the Patriarchs of the Dragonmarked Houses.”

“We will be keeping an eye on your progress, though you are left to your own devices. Within one years’ time we will…check in on you, as well as allow any family or friends to visit you at that time.”

“Please don’t.” – Valerie ;_;

Our pages come to a close on this book, but fear not children for this is not the end of the story. It has only just begun. Come now, join me once again as we learn the continuing fate of these strangers in a strange land…where surely Rivers Run Red.

XP Gained
4270 / 5 = 854 each

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Chapter 10 - The Empty Bottle

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Shouted one of the bandits. Everyone had followed Korin and Tarvis inside at their declaration that Korin could touch the captured owlbear on the nose before it could take his hand off. Korin paused. Dovan egged him on.

“I was just trying to get a closer look, to see if it reminded me of your mom.” Replied the surly dwarf.

“I never really knew my mother actually.” Countered the S&M fan/bandit. Before Korin could try to draw the sicko into a battle of fisticuffs however, Dovan pressed a hidden switch that suddenly released the bars keeping the owlbear in its cage. Apparently insulting the lieutenant bandit was unacceptable to the sadist! The battle was on!

The owlbear quickly latched onto Korin though it only managed to lay into him once, but it did begin to lovingly almost creepily grapple him. (Korin’s player warned he might play the Plot Twist Card – Lust which prompted a particular song to play…)

Akiros Ismort stood off to one side to watch how this scene would unfold. A gesture of humility and minor punishment might appease Dovan but that didn’t seem like the style of these newcomers that had already professed their desire to kill the Stag Lord. But he would wait for them to make the first move.

Dovan stepped forward and tried to throw a dagger into Korin’s side but after it harmlessly bounced off his armor…hmm…this might actually get dangerous. Korin wrestled with the Owlbear while calling on the bandits to help him defeat this monster before it gets loose! Unfortunately the combination of the creature being liked by the Stag Lord, and that it seemed the owlbear most likely killed bandits at some point in the past…help seemed unlikely…but that was the signal Akiros was waiting for.

“That’s enough Dovan! Is this what you want!? Killing more of our men due to your sadistic whims? It’s madness! Well fine…you wanna get crazy? LETS GET CRAZY!” drawing his longsword the normally calm Akiros gained a crazy look in his eyes as he began stabbing the hell out of the owlbear. That declaration was the match that started the fire! The remaining bandits quickly took sides with the young boy “Silent” and Topper Red drawing their shortswords on the side of Akiros while Jex the Snitch and Ayles Megeros were determined to help Dovan kill the outsiders.

What followed was a brawl that lasted the rest of the session!

‘Kressle’ managed a sucker punch on Dovan with her metallic arm though it revealed that she was in fact not kressle at all. Ayles and Dovan tried to bring down the ‘witch’ that laid the curse on their bandits despite Valerie’s protests and honest lamentation about Ayles’ brother dying of the plague…she’s a strange girl that one…

Auchs the warforged guard of Dovan turned to Alanea who had moved next to him. “Auchs, kill the outsiders!” yelled Dovan, and a large club was suddenly bonking the poor librarian on the head. (Alanea’s player countered the heavy blow – of which she would unlikely survive a second one – with the Plot Twist Card – Warm Fuzzy) Alanea remembered that Auchs apparently loved collecting little toys, and so she offered one to the warforged while declaring she didn’t wish any harm on Dovan or Auchs and in fact wanted to be friends. Enraptured by the kind offering the warforged nodded and accepted the toy, placing it carefully in an empty compartment in his breastplate. “Auchs, you should help stop the owlbear, it might hurt Dovan!” Alanea was quickly discovering a talent at manipulation as the warforged lumbered over to the magical abomination and clocked it over the head, crushing its skull.

Sidney, despite being hammered, began drawing multiple scrolls and using infusions to help turn the tide of battle. Dovan attempted to flee elsewhere in the fortress to take a moment to recover and perform some hit and run tactics…(but all that was for naught thanks to Tarvis’ player using the Plot Twist Card – Unseen Obstacle to make all terrain difficult terrain for 1 round) only to run into a misplaced rake around the corner of the fortress that halted him in his tracks.

Dovan fell victim to a heat metal on his own armor (which proceeded to roast his corpse after being brought down later) while Ayles was clubbed by Tarvis’ quarterstaff. Akiros and Auchs traded blows for a while before Auchs wandered outside to find out where Dovan went (and discovering his corpse)

After multiple rounds of harrowing battle including going out of their way to save the lives of some of the friendly bandits they had encountered (including the young boy “Silent” who had already had his tongue cut out by Dovan and was run through by the same sadist this fight) the noise finally brought out the inebriated Stag Lord who, upon seeing Akiros and the dead bodies of the other bandits shot an arrow through the soldier’s chest before turning and leaping out the nearby window to get a better idea of what the hell was going on in his own fortress.

Akiros luckily managed to stabilize thanks to Valerie’s player using the Plot Twist Card – Cliffhanger though he was down for the count for the rest of the fight.

The Stag Lord dodged and weaved through the constant strikes of Korin, Tarvis, Valerie and even Auchs after Alanea convinced the warforged that Dovan was killed by the bandit leader. But nothing seemed to land a solid blow (aside from magic missiles) but slowly eventually the bandit lord was being beaten down. Finally deciding a strategic retreat was necessary the Stag Lord swiftly climbed over the palisade to take cover outside the fortress and recover some strength. That was short lived unfortunately as Korin burst through thick wooden logs of the palisade wall that was not nearly as reinforced as they seemed (this was accomplished through the Plot Twist Card – Path Least Traveled)

The final downfall of the Stag Lord came from a clever bit of inebriated thinking from Sidney, who used a scroll of Warp Wood to transform the bandit’s prized bow into a simple club. With the hunter’s skills greatly reduced it became an all-or-nothing desperate struggle as the bandit decided to stop running and beat his foes to death with his club. Alas the crazed look of hatred on the Stag Lords face was ended by Valerie’s rapier and Tarvis’ magic missile.

With the party sorely beaten but victorious…they decided to secure themselves in the fortress with their other captives and rest for the night before heading down to the basement to take care of this ‘slimy person’ in the basement. Removing the Stag Lord’s famous helmet revealed a face deeply scarred and deformed. Similar scars and old wounds marked the entirety of the dead bandit’s body…who was this man truly? And how did he become…this?

A quick look at the Stag Lords room by Alanea and his personal affects gave hint to some greater history that perhaps the group will never know…a small collection of leather hoods littered the room alongside a group of precious looking jewels that Alanea recognized as being set in a pattern to gain the attention of some kind of Fae just like the kinds they had been leaving out for their own pranksters Tyg-Titter-Tut and Perlivash.

Whether through manipulation or genuine empathy Alanea convinced Auchs to let them strip and bury the corpse of Dovan while Korin offered to let the warforged choose a different kind of life – to which Auchs could only respond with a blank stare. (Sidney’s player then added the Plot Twist Card – Quick Wits to the mix to help Auchs inadvertently as the genius inventor recognized a large dent in the skull of the warforged…it might be fixable given some time to work on it…)

The creepy thing in the basement and the founding of a nation…next time on Kingmaker Book Two – Rivers Run Red!

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Chapter 09 - Liquid Paradise
After finishing gathering the fangberries for Bokken the group finally tracks down the Stag Lords fort! Infiltration begins...

Liquid Paradise

With their packs fresh with fangberries for Bokken and cleaned up with some prestidigitation the group spied a fort of some kind off in the distance. Aren’t many forts around here…so why not take a closer look? No harm in that. And if it happens to be the Stag Lord’s home base then even better!

Traveling to the next area and getting close to the fort – but staying close to the treeline – Valerie decided to take a closer look by sneaking closer. Approaching from the side of the fort to get a closer look things were looking well…none of the guards seemed to be paying much attention to the sides of the fort. Well, the reason why they didn’t seem to be keeping a careful out became apparent as suddenly zombies burst from the ground and began shambling for Valerie’s blood!

In a panicked response Valerie opened her mouth and one of the zombies became dazed (GM Note here) but that didn’t stop the other from bashing Val’s shoulder. Making a strategic withdrawal before the zombies could surround her, the rest of the group either stayed hidden or gave off a few pot shots with arrows to varying affect (with some magic missiles as well). One of the guards at the fort thought this apparent turn of events was hilarious pausing to laugh at Val’s misfortune (to which Tarvis’ player offered Val’s player petty player revenge on the chump – by playing the Plot Twist Card: Sickness, infecting the guard with The Freakin Bubonic Plague)

Once Valerie got back to the tree line however the zombies stopped, paused, and then sunk back into the earth.

Korin: “I don’t think this was relevant information that we were told about.” Referring to the field of the dead and the lack of its mention by the bandits they had captured.
Tarvis: “I do believe you’re right, we may have to have a talk about that.”

After discussing their options and deciding it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to suddenly show up as “Kressle” and a band of new recruits a few hours after some stranger was trying to scout out the Stag Lord’s fort…so in the meantime they decided to head West for a little bit and explore a couple other areas while solidifying their ideas for infiltration and any Plan B stuff. What if they made a fake head that looked like Valerie’s to help get some cred..? Yeah that might work…

Further into the forest the group came across some kind of pit trap that had a few leaves placed over it, hearing some yelps and growls coming from it. Korin, Valerie, and Alanea headed over to take a look to find out what was inside…and suddenly found themselves slipping into the pit! All three managed to land on their feet though but they found themselves staring at a horse-sized cougar with a dog-shaped head, pointed ears, and a blood red fur coat that seemed to…ripple…as it moved. The creature (called a “Blood Cougar” by the group) was emaciated and obviously starving and immediately leapt for Alanea…only to be crushed by Valerie who landed a split second after the others! (Valerie in this case played the “Plot Card: Where’d That Come From?” to land on the Blood Cougar before it had a chance to claw Alanea, damaging it from her fall and negating its turn)

Korin, Alanea and Valerie defended themselves as Sidney crawled to the edge of the hole like a fiddler crab to prevent himself from slipping on the sand and falling in, while Tarvis climbed a nearby tree to get a better view without having to actually get to the edge of the hole to see down it…thankfully though Korin managed to deliver a killing blow. The body was hauled up, analyzed, and skinned. Not much meat was had though predators tend to be stringy anyway.

Spending another day exploring the forest they decided to finally head back to the fort…it was time to infiltrate. Valerie prepared her Kressle disguise becoming a near perfect imitation of the female bandit (Sidney’s player adding the Plot Card: Familiar Face into the mix to further ensure her disguise) while Sidney and Tarvis helped make a fake disembodied Valerie head to bring to the fort. With Donkeyxote getting a pep talk from Korin about staying the course of the mission, the group hooked up the cart of booze they stole from the Thorn River camp so many weeks ago and made their way up the path.

Seeing the booze and Kressle approaching (albeit a bit beat up with some extra bandages added to her outfit) they were promptly let inside.

After giving their password “By the bloody bones of St. Gilmorg who wants to know?” (which Valerie remembered perfectly thanks to Alanea’s player using the Plot Twist Card: Earworm)the group was informed that while the password was out of date they would just have to pay additional ‘taxes’ to the Stag Lord. Successful plan!

Akiros Ismort, one of the three lieutenants of the Stag Lord and current second-in-command approached to see what the commotion was and upon noticing Kressle welcomed her back in his dead-pan “I don’t really give a crap” way. Akiros stood out from the rest of the bandits present. He carried himself much more professionally with actual clean armor and a fancy looking longsword at his side.

The Stag Lord himself upon hearing that Kressle had finally arrived with his precious booze made his appearance, an intimidating muscular man – bare chested with a longbow and of course the skull of a stag made into a helmet. “Reward these men for their fine job Akiros. Let the men party tonight, and give them an extra 20 gold for their trouble.” grunted the bandit leader before ripping off the edges of the wooden cart and dragging the entire thing back to his lair…

Sidney: “Was that normal? Cause I don’t think that’s normal…”

Korin: “We get money for this? I wonder what else the bandits need…”

Korin wasn’t one to let an opportunity go to waste and quickly arranged for the group to be alone with Akiros near the owlbear cage while he retrieved their 20 gold reward. “You seem like a professional, what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”

“Needed to disappear from the world. This is about as far off the map as you can ever get, apart from being in the ground. So this is where I wound up.” Said Akiros.

Through their not-so-subtle negotiations Korin and Tarvis revealed that they were in fact from a group trying to civilize the area and that if they could count on Akiros’ support they would grant him a full pardon and welcome his addition to whatever they created here in Xen’drik. While it was still a mystery as to what Akiros thought of their offer he agreed that if they made a move against the Stag Lord that he would help.

“Good to know! So what do you think would happen if the Stag Lord is removed?”

“Dovan and Auchs would likely try to fill the power vacuum. It’s a split otherwise whether the bandits would run or fight. That is, assuming you actually could kill the Stag Lord.”

After trading some information Akiros retired to his room for a while, and the rest of the group explored the area and met a number of the other bandits…

Sidney sat down to a card game with a dwarf in ‘priestly’ robes over his leather armor named “Father” Avery Tessino, a hobgoblin soldier named Markard Ironmark “The Stitcher”, a human missing a number of teeth and a near permanently dented in face named Celthric “Handsome” Kilburn and an unnervingly calm man in his 30s named Falgrim Sneeg (which the group recognized as the bandit sought after by Septim Garess). Sidney quickly managed to charm his way into the good graces of the group and convinced them to make their card game more interesting by adding a lot more alcohol to the table…

Korin, Tarvis, and Alanea searched the grounds running into a couple other bandits, some of which seemed genuinely unhappy here and some of which were simply terrible people.

Dovan, one of the other bandit lieutenants made his grand appearance followed by the child-like warforged Auchs as the sun went down and the moons rose in the sky over eberron. Making a grand call to celebrate the arrival of their “flower” back to the group more alcohol was opened and roasted pig given all around.

‘Kressle’: “Yeah and my thorns might stab your eyes out!” staying completely in character.

As the celebration went on into the early hours of the morning Sidney managed to drink his challengers under the table but was completely tanked himself.

The time was now…under the guise of a bet between Korin and Tarvis to see if Korin could touch Beaky the Owlbear’s nose before losing his hand the group headed back inside the fort…a few drunk stragglers followed after though so they would have a little bit of an audience.

Korin approached the cage of the owlbear…the time was now…

Next time! The shit hits the fan in the Stag Lord’s fort!

XP Earned
Zombie x1 – 200xp
Hexes explored – 2 = 400xp
Blood Cougar – 800xp

1400xp total – 280xp each

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Chapter 08 - The birth of Donkeyxote
With Jhod Kavken staying at the Temple of the Elk for now, the group continues their mapping of the Stolen Lands coming ever closer to their confrontation with the Stag Lord

The Donkey of La Mancha

Heading South-West from the Temple of the Elk the group explored the nearby forest hex, coming across a portion of the forest that had sunk into a swampy mire. Two dilapidated stone buildings that had partially sunken into the bog had apparently been turned into the home of a single Boggard named Garuum (who had a mangled hand) and his pet Slurks.

Croaking out the words “Truce! Truce!” upon seeing the approach of the strangers the party attempted the diplomatic approach. Unfortunately this turned out to be the first intelligent creature they had encountered whose language they did not know. “Boggard” was apparently a relatively new, or at least very rarely encountered, race of frog-people that spoke their own language. Valerie and Alanea made a note to look up any information of Xen’drik explorers encountering this species so they could attempt to learn the language.

With Garuum barely knowing any words in common things were going nowhere fast until Valerie’s player passed along the Moment of Clarity Plot Twist Card, allowing Garuum to understand and speak a language perfectly for 10 minutes. Suddenly concentrating hard as if remembering long forgotten lessons about this “common” language, Garuum opened negotiations.

The solitary Boggard mentioned that he lived here by himself, didn’t want to hurt nobody and didn’t want anybody to pester him and his slurks. Live and let live was his creed, especially after mentioning that his hand was mangled after “challenging the king”.

The group of course had no issue with this Live and let Live ideal and offered to even bring him items to trade in the hopes of forging a better working relationship. Garuum didn’t have much to barter with, but he did have information to trade with…so Alanea left him some rope, a crowbar, and a shovel to help make his swampy home slightly less crappy and in return Garuum mentioned that he knew of a big statue of a man with an Elk Head off to the west.

And in return for future tools Garuum also mentioned that there were “big lizards” living at a ford in the river to the south west.

With this new information gained the group decided to check on these “big lizards” figuring they were likely these Tatzlwyrms that Frank was offering a reward for…as it turns out they were right!

The river wasn’t very deep at the location they found with a number of sandy fords dotted across the water would allow for an easy passage to the other side of the river. And sunning itself lazily on a warm rock in the middle of the river was a Tatzlwyrm! Apparently it was unaware of the intruders on its territory as Valerie snuck up on it carefully and delivered a coup de grace that instantly slayed the creature…and the wyrms death cry summoned up the other two creatures that had been hiding amongst the rubbish and flotsam that had gathered into a sort of natural dam on the river!

Despite their renowned ferocity the quick thinking and tactics of the group made quick work of the other two Tatzlwyrms with a shocking grasp strike from Tarvis and some combined strikes from Alanea and Korin. Sidney continued his random streak of firing arrows that may or may not hit anything.

With the Tatzlwyrms dealt with and some creative uses of Make Whole by Sidney the group had three intact heads to bring back to Frank. Not only that but they found some treasure buried in the flotsam/rubbish that the wyrms had made their home in. Some magical Scale Mail, a nice masterwork cold iron longsword, and some coins and other trinkets.

(it was at this point I reminded my group of how low-level magic items work in Eberron – in my interpretation at least. Due to the abilities of the Dragonmark Houses and the different levels of technology and wealth assumed by the setting, obtaining magical weapons and armor of a +1 or +2 bonus can usually be found in any decent city. What you are actually buying in this case is a Dragonshard that has the magical enhancement within it. When a weapon or armor is made “masterwork” the actual cost is in creating a series of runes and inlaid design connecting the item to a dragonshard slot, effectively a Materia slot. So a +1 or +2 Dragonshard attuned to armor can be switched back and forth between suits of armor that have been made in the modern day. Magical items of higher quality or enhancement are considerably more rare and are often the source of explorations discovering ancient magical items of historical and cultural significance)

That said the skeleton was an explorer, likely from Stormreach, that had been mapping his way down the river until he got “Tatzled” as Tarvis put it. His magical enhancement on his Scale Mail was given to Valerie since she wound up in melee a lot.

Not wanting the heads to start decomposing the group headed back to Oleg’s and made some trades.

Frank gladly bought the supplies from the group and informed them their light warhorses and magebred donkey would likely be arriving in two to three days.

The true treasure they found from the skeleton however was the map the poor soul had been working on. With his rough sketches of a nice triangular area of the north west area of the Greenbelt, the group headed west after realizing they could likely explore this area at nearly twice the time it would normally take to create a working map. Not only would it help explore areas faster, but it also mentioned encountering a “group of frogs” at the base of a river.

At first the group encountered a series of bear traps that had been filling an entire area of their map…recklessly posted and without any survival markings to warn fellow hunters or trappers that there were deadly traps setup nearby. Tarvis suffered an attack by one of the bear traps but afterwards Valerie was able to quickly disable all the traps they found.

Korin: “Fantastic! We have bear traps to sell to hunters now!”
Tarvis: “You do realize these already belong to a hunter right?”
Korin: “And we’ll have plenty of traps to sell to him now.”

Whoever the trapper was that set these reckless death traps up, some poor fool suffered an untimely demise as they found a dead trapper that had his legs crushed under a falling log in a nearby hex, his outstretched hand desperately trying to reach his hand axe that was just barely out of reach. Valerie noticed that apparently the rope that had been holding up the logs were prematurely cut…by something very tiny…and they knew that their fae friends Perlivash and Tyg-Titter-Tut lived very close to here…hmmm…

His ID papers read “Breeg Orlivanch” and the party gave him a cairn burial. This may very well have been the douchebag that setup all those bear traps, but even a douchebag deserves better than being left to the wild elements of Xen’drik.

Deciding next to check on this “group of frogs” indicated by the map they found they traveled to the base of the river and discovered a huge natural hot spring that three giant frogs had made their home.

Alanea: “We should probably take care of these things. They kinda eat everything that can fit in their stomach.”
Korin: “Guests, children, paying customers. Nope, can’t have that.”

Despite their gigantic maws three large frogs proved no match for the ranged attacks of a determined group of adventurers, but not before Alanea was momentarily swallowed by one. It had been weeks since the party had a proper bath and they all relaxed in the hot springs that night.

Refreshed the group headed back to Oleg’s once more for additional supplies and picked up their newly arrived horses and magebred donkey with an absurdly strong ability to carry and drag weight.

Tarvis: “What should we name it?”
Korin: “Donkeyxote.”
AND THUS A LEGEND WAS BORN

Frank also mentioned a couple Kobold came by about a day ago. They didn’t consider them hostile since the group mentioned members of the Sootscale might be coming by…they inquired as to whether or not the “scaleless friends” had determined a symbol to represent their clan or not yet.

The group discussed it for a while and settled upon a prototype symbol…an open scroll with a crossed quill and sword underneath it.

The group headed south out of Oleg’s, finally encountering the Fangberry Thicket that Bokken had been looking for and discovering the reason for its name. The berry thicket was also covered in a thick layer of wispy spider webs.

Tarvis sent an Unseen Servant into the thicket to try and gather the berries which quickly attracted the attention of the Fang Spiders that lived inside the thicker – spiders the size of a mans thumb with twin serrated fangs. Unfortunately for the spiders they could not damage the Unseen Servant – so while Tarvis kept the spiders busy Korin snuck around to another side of the thicket and took his time gathering the berries despite occasionally being cut by the thorned bushes.

With the berries gathered, we will pick up here next time!

XP Earned
8400xp divided by 5 = 1,680xp Each

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