[AP] The Shrouded Lands

Session 1: Lord Zeem’s Name Day

What I decided to do for this first session was to put the PCs in the middle of a bunch of NPCs in conflict. The point of this was to make sure that a bunch of stuff happens without railroading the PCs, giving them a choice of what conflict to get involved in (they ignored the crooked gambler and the orcs for example) and to make the PCs feel badass (they took down a troll!) without putting them in extreme danger since the NPCs generally had bigger fish to fry than the PCs. It also let me roleplay some fun characters like the delightfully creepy troll artist Master Var and his eight-year-old human girl slave/sidekick/servant(?). We didn’t have much time to play since some people came in late and character creation ate up a lot of time but the time that we had was just pure gaming without any distractions (only one Monty Python joke the whole time) and it moved at a really fast pace. I’m going to leave out a lot of details (like information about the dwarves and the albino cow shopping) but I think that the main ideas get through in this report just fine.

Enemies Defeated
-One troll.
-One cow.
-One eight-year-old girl.
-Three creepy dwarves.

Treasure Gained
-A large collection of finely-made silverware, stolen by Grywyn.
-Master Var’s wallet (89 gp),
-A human fingernail ship in a bottle. The bottle and the masts are broken but the hull is intact. Enameled and well-made.
-A silver filigreed bowl made of puppy skulls (somewhat cracked).
-Partly full tub of dead ochre jelly (fire retardant).
-A small bolt of black dog-hair cloth.
-Jar of virgin butter.
-A pink clay statuette of Laera (the girl).
-A chess piece (queen) carved out of some sort of black stone.
-Some snacks and troll jerky.
-Money carried by the two dwarves (20 gp each).
-Enormous gold belt buckle worn by the dwarf with the battle axe.
-Normal knife.
-Silver key (found in the pocket of one of the dwarves).
-Nice dwarven battle axe.
-Dagger surrendered to Grywyn made of red-tinted iron: the pommel looks like an ugly leering humanoid head with the hilt being its torso, the guard being a pair of splayed legs and the blade emerging between them. Possibly magical and the hilt is too short to fit comfortably in human hands.
-Stuff inside the dwarf wagon was confiscated by the half-elves (sorry).

XP Gained
I’m dividing XP for the money three ways and XP for defeated critter three and a half ways (giving Percy a half share). You’ll get XP for the loot when you sell it. Grywyn gets +15% experience (for high wisdom); the other two get +5% since they don’t have a 17 or 18.
Rowlian: 303xp
Rincilus: 303xp
Gyrwyn: 333xp
Percy: 123xp. He is now a first level fighter, so Wade should roll d8-1 for his hit points. I rolled for loyalty and he continues to serve Gyrwyn enthusiastically. He’ll want 25gp/month and a slice of the loot from here on out.

Adventure Recap

Rincilus, Rowlian, Gyrwyn and Percy came in off the underground Welt Road and entered Olmsted Keep some time after sundown, making sure not to walk in the Kingswood during the day. After some banter with the half-elf gate guard Linlaine, the party surrendered (some of) their weapons and entered the grounds of the Keep.

Rather than a market being held, as the party expected, there were celebrations for Lord Zeem Olmsted’s name day and the full moon was high in the sky. The party wagered on the bull fights with Aaron Ostend (the fat guy) and lost because poor Snowball went mad and charged the crowd followed by his weeping owner.

Gyrwyn impressed Torsar (the weapon master dwarf) with his (non-existent) ability to knock out Snowball by waving his cudgel in his face and was taken inside after the fracas to be healed. Meanwhile Rowlian ended up buying camphor instead of playing orcish stickball to get his dagger back.
As the chaos wound down, Rincilus struck up a conversation with Master Var (the troll) and his servant/slave/side-kick (?) Laera (the little girl) and were shown its wares. Rincilus and his friends were perplexed by the virgin butter. The party later joined Master Var inside the keep for the feast where they ate and drank and were given bits of grilled troll meat while Laera cheerfully chatted about how Master Var has gruesomely murdered her parents (true?) and where the troll had gotten all of the human finger nails from (not clippings).

Rowlian, meanwhile, managed to score some of the good wine and noticed that the small throne at the head of the VIP table was empty as was the chair to its left. He got bored and went outside where he investigated the brightly painted wagon he had noticed earlier. Its wheels had been removed (by goblins), there were ugly hairless guard dogs out front and a big lizard to one side. He noted some strange mechanical sounds and a growing pile of dirt behind the wagon.

His suspicions roused, Rowlian investigated the wagon and then decided to burn it down to smoke out whatever trouble it contained. Meanwhile, back inside, Master Var sniffed the air, excused himself, greased himself down with dead ochre, tore two goblins sitting a few spots down the bench to pieces and then charged towards the door while Laera ducked under the table. The party noticed that the goblins had no tongues when they screamed in silent agony as they died.

Due to there being an angry troll on the loose, the common folk at the low tables panicked and ran deeper into the keep, which made it hard for the people at the VIP table to elbow through the crowds to deal with the problem.
In the chaos, Rowlian, Grywyn and Percy decided to rescue/kidnap(?) Laera. This angered Master Var and there was a scuffle but he ran off in an (even greater) rage when he saw that the wagon was on fire. Three dwarves in black robes and iron masks emerged from the wagon, set their dogs on the charging troll and tried to make a break for it on their lizard. Soon afterwards the burning wagon collapsed with a mostly-burned troll emerging from the wreckage. After driving off the dogs, Master Var began carrying the burned troll up outer wall of the Keep.

At this point a (very angry) older half-elf emerged from the Keep and she screamed at the (very confused and somewhat drunk) guards to “kill them all!” which they failed to do (as did Torsar, despite all his acrobatics). Rowlian however, with expert shooting, managed to send so many arrows into the burned troll that it stopped moving, but Master Var was still able to haul it over the wall and get out.

Meanwhile, suspicious of the robed dwarves, Gyrwyn and Percy held the gate against them. Rowlian picked one off with an arrow, Gyrwyn and Percy defeated another and the last surrendered to Gyrwyn before the cleric took its dagger and allowed it to run off. In the midst of the chaos, Rincilus ran off with Laera and managed to out-wrestle the wily eight-year-old.

What will the party do next session? Some options:

-The burned bit of paper (that blew over the wall when the dwarf wagon collapsed) says (in elfish): “his affliction Lord Olmsted has paid a price and a princely price it is. From his lips have tumbled words that have never crossed that gate before and that now exist nowhere else but within our white orbs and on this paper.
Strange that such a man would sell his own brother’s bones, the very bones that lie beneath the great birch a mere six miles south of Olmsted Keep. Of course much silver…needed to navigate the barrow’s perils…of doing so may be…It is said that…enough to…within their… inevitable…the…hot”
-Figure out what to do with Laera.
-The party is now fairly popular with the inhabitants of Olmsted Keep and some of them might have quests.
-Geffry (Snowball the bull’s owner) likes the party as well, you could go back to Blackhorn Hall with him. It’s rich and has the biggest albino cow herds in the lands.
-One of the dwarves is locked in the Keep’s basement with a hideous arrow wound (the other was brained to death by Gyrwyn and the third ran off). He might know something interesting.
-Go exploring/hunting in the forest. Lots of weird shit there and Rowlian knows it well.
-Signing on as guards with some of the random merchants at the Keep or maybe buy enough stuff to make your own small caravan.
-Challenging the orcs to orcish stickball.
-Whatever else the party feels like doing.

Wow. That session write-up was like Tarantino meets ACKS. Trying to parse together the cause and effect. You needn't answer as I'm sure you don't want to reveal campaign secrets but:

1) What was the troll artist doing in the keep in the first place?

2) Who actually set fire to the wagon?

3) If the dwarves owned the wagon, why did the troll care about it?

4) Why were the dwarves wearing iron masks?! (Because it's awesome?!)


Yeah those bits were unclear since I left out a lot of clarifying details (since I didn’t want to spend a year writing up the recap):

  1. He was there to sell his wares to the half-elf middle men who’d then sell them to the dwarves. All of the weird stuff in the party loot list (the puppy skull bowl etc.) are his trade goods.

  2. Rowlian.

  3. He smelled troll meat on the breath of the two goblins and he knew that the tongueless goblins were dwarf slaves so set out to rescue the troll, the dwarves had been keeping it and carving slices off of it to sell it as meat. The half-elves really didn’t like being sold troll meat so they weren’t happy either.

  4. They’re Deep Dwarves, ultra-traditionalist dwarves who never let the light of the sun fall on their skin. They wear robes and iron masks when going aboveground and dig trenches to sleep in.

Aaaak, don’t see a way to edit.

“1. He was there to sell his wares to the half-elf middle men who’d then sell them to the dwarves. All of the weird stuff in the party loot list (the puppy skull bowl etc.) are his trade goods.”

Should be:
“1. He was there to sell his wares to the half-elf middle men who’d then sell them to the ELVES. All of the weird stuff in the party loot list (the puppy skull bowl etc.) are his trade goods.”

The half elves the only outsides that the elves buy and sell stuff from.

Thanks! That's really neat.

I LOVE the Deep Dwarves concept. Amazing.