Months 3, 4, and 5
The party decided to build a small-ish caravan to take advantage of what is probably a safer-than-usual highway between Orléans and Atanung, a city about which they know very little, but which is part of the Greuthungi kingdom and therefore may have a high demand for silk, coffee, and iron goods.
They aim for silk, and Chlodomer persuades two merchants to sell them 28 loads of silk for 39,200 gold. Then they commission five wagons and ten heavy draft horses, and end up paying the first merchant for the use of his warehouse to store the silk he just sold them.
Wagons and horses acquired, they hire ten longbowmen and twenty slingers, an armorer, stablehands, and drivers. Galswintha ups the cost by insisting on decent quality rations for everyone.
Along the way, they get pretty lucky on random encounters, and the ogre village was the only real threat I’d mapped there. Of some interest, a dozen pegasi were spotted in the air, heading toward a distant mountain … and Galswintha took notes. We’ll see if she remembers her obsession in the future.
They have a rough time selling the silk in Atanung, even though demand is high, but they finally manage to sell the last load. Even after mercenary costs, up-front investments, tolls, stabling fees, and so on, they managed 42,000 gold in profit from the deal!
However, only those already close to leveling, levelled.
Knowing their home market better, they haunted the market for a while until they could acquire 50 loads of porcelain for 35,000 gold, and then set off for the return trip.
Month 6, Days 1 and 2
… and on the first day, six giant scorpions boil up out of a hole in the ground and attack, enraged by the ground vibrations of the caravan. The slingers fall back, demoralized; Grimoald dies of poison in the first round; and the front wagon comes to a stop when a horse dies.
Scorpions are tough, especially in a rout, but the party finally puts them down, and marches back to Atanung to restore life for Grimoald.
Grimoald regains life, but loses his sight in the bargain, and decides to retire, passing his dwarven quarter-moon shield (still party property per agreements) over to Chlodomer. Galswintha arranges an address with Grimoald to deliver his Grim Fist ring when it is completed.
Rufismund le Ruge, fanatically loyal to the man who restored his sight, and a bit less interested in mad adventures, stays on with Grimoald as a retainer and life assistant (this has nothing, nothing at all, to do with the fact that Grimoald is still loaded with wealth). Alaric du Châtel, shaking his head, leaves and takes the safer route back home, via the north and Paris.
The temple that Grimoald is healed at has a young cleric, Shadagrunde d’Atanung, who wishes to see the world and approaches the party to see if they will let him join. They do!
And so the party goes on.
Month 6, Weeks 1 and 2
The way back is harrowing. The party fights off two bat swarms and brigands, a pack of hellhounds (the Grim Fist unanimously decide to not explore the fissure from which the hellhounds erupted), and a phase tiger.
A giant hawk is also spotted veering off, and a grizzly bear is “talked” to by Veneranda before wandering off.
And then the worst: three basilisks, a mere day away from civilization.
The petrified giant owl is a good hint, and the party takes it - everyone (mercenaries, drivers, everyone) switches to one-handed weapons or tasks, and covers their eyes with the other hand (keeping a small glimpse downward to watch where they are going), slowing the caravan to a crawl; those who have mirrors, use them.
The basilisks (all three) get surprise, but fail to catch anyone’s eyes. One bites Vulfelind, who makes the coin-flip save, and the other two try to bite Chlodomer, but fail to get purchase on his armor.
Shadagrunde casts bane. And then things get messy and violent.
Vulfelind and Chlodomer both withdraw, clearing the field for archers and slingers to blindly fling their missiles all over the place; and then Lanthechilde attempts sheer insanity - she jumps a basilisk, wrestles it, and then asks if she can use a second wrestle attempt to force an eye open in front of her mirror.
Natural 20, and the basilisk’s save is a 2. And its petrification save is a 5. Bam.
And then one of the other basilisks bites Lanthechilde, and she turns to stone, too.
Eventually, the party triumphs.
They find the nest just off the road, collect the one human statue in the nest along with their own statues (and end up dumping some porcelain), and continue on to Orléans.
Month 6, Day 15
They sell the porcelain almost immediately, for 67,200 gold - and spend 13,500 gold on stone to flesh, and a bit more on bonuses to mercenaries.
Restoring the human statue they found has a benefit, however. She turns out to be the daughter of the local thieves’ guild leader, and as a reward, the party is given four amethyst cylinder seals, each depicting a different ancient and powerful elemental granting wisdom to the famous sage Elwinoald the Wise, and a chunk of untraceable gold (metagame: just enough to bring their wealth baseline back into sync with their XP numbers).
They decide to keep the scrolls for now, rather than reap the XP rewards of selling them in a market where they are potentially “hot.”
There was another round of hench hiring …
This was a long session - almost seven hours - but everyone wanted to see the venture through to the end. Next time, I’ll remember to break it off at the mid-point, before more wares are bought :-).
As a side note, it has gotten really hard to permanently kill anyone with a Class II market nearby.
XP: I have been divvying up XP incorrectly. After discussion with the players, and because I wanted something quick, I decided to just increase everyone to a flat starting point (with the usual XP +%), and we’ll track it correctly from here. I adjusted the henches proportionally.
Henches: I don’t have any players with less than a 13 CHA (+1). The party, including henches, is now 34 strong (26 humanoids, 3 dogs, 2 familiars, 2 tigers, and a dire wolf in a pear tree). My initiative list looks like a who’s who of Old Frankish, and I’ve started inventing names out of spite.
Mercantile Ventures: In all, I think this worked out reasonably well. The PCs really did their homework on picking what goods to take to Atanung, and combined with some lucky rolls, did quite well. The fact that the whole trip took 5.5 months and netted only a little XP (relatively speaking) was also a good thing, in my mind.
The PCs have definitely grown. Chlodomer is holding up the fighter end of things; the shield and sword have made him darn near invincible (AC 11, attack 2+, 1d6+8 damage!). Vulfelind has proven adept at managing henches in battle - we’ve been calling her the top pokemon trainer - even where Chlodomer might have slightly better hench quality. Lanthechilde is rocking the thief side of things. (Shadagrunde has only been around for one session, but “the cleric brigade” promises fun times).
Galswintha has been falling behind; I’ve suggested taking a few weeks off to study new spells - she doesn’t actually have any third-level spells in her repertoire right now. She’s been more interested in managing party finances, but a fireball or similar would have helped a lot in some of their sticky situations.
Chlodomer d'Antioch - Lawful Fighter-6, 18, Command, Diplomacy, Fighting Style (Weapon and Shield), Leadership, Military Strategy. STR +2, CHA +3. Sword +3, Shield +3. XP 35,200; 28,400 gold.
Grizzba - Lawful Goblin Thief-5, 16, Caving, Mapping, Riding (Wolf), Weapon Finesse. STR -1, DEX +2, INT +1, CHA -1. XP 17,600; 4,460 gold. Morale +11.
Grace d'Antioch - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Scribe) x3. STR +1, INT +1, CHA +1. A convention-defying young woman fresh out of university, with a strong arm, a ready mind, and a smile like sunshine. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale -2.
Galagunde d'Orléans - Lawful Illusionist-4, 25, Familiar (Tarantula), Animal Husbandry x3. DEX -1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,510 gold. Morale +8.
Eldremer the Bold - Lawful Tarantula Familiar, 3, Illusion Resistance, Healing x2, Mimicry. Move 120 ft. (40 climb). Bite 1d2 (mild poison, 1d6 damage, save for none).
Agalinda d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 19, Navigation, Tracking. STR -1, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +2, WIS -1. A studious young lady who wants to be an illusionist, and is apprenticing herself to Galagunde. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1.
Amarante le Certaine - Lawful Mage-3, 32, Familiar (Pygmy Marmoset), Knowledge (Astronomy) x3 (Sage), Theology. CON +2, INT +3, CHA +2. A quiet, short, and stout woman dressed in the somber blacks of the Minor Clergy of Stars. XP 5,000; 0 gold. Morale +5.
Leoncito - Lawful Marmoset Familiar, 8, Healing x3, Magical Engineering, Navigation. Move 150 ft. (90 ft. climb). Can pick locks as a thief.
Haramer d'Orléans - Lawful Fighter-3, 22, Command, Fighting Style (Pole Weapons), Leadership. STR +1, CHA +2. A grizzled but charismatic sergeant. XP 4,000; 0 gold. Morale +5 (CHA +3, Command +2, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
Galswintha d'Antioch - Lawful Mage-5, 30, Elven Bloodline, Engineering x4. DEX +1, CON +2, INT +2, WIS -1, CHA +1. XP 35,200; 18,700 gold.
Gurund d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 30, Alchemy x3, Knowledge (Natural Philosphy). STR -2, CON -1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 17,600; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
Geofferic d'Orléans - Lawful Heavy Infantry, 22, Profession (Bodyguard). STR +1, CON +2, WIS +1. A mutton-chopped side of beef dressed in plate and built for taking hits. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +3 (CHA +1, fanatical +2, levels +0, calamities +0)
Deuteria du Châtel - Neutral Mage-4, 24, Loremastery, Mapping, Navigation, Seafaring. STR +1, INT +2, WIS +1, CHA +1. XP 13,200; 3,500 gold. Morale +1.
Merovia d'Orléans - Lawful Mage-4, 51, Elven Bloodline, Alchemy x3. STR -1, DEX -2, CON +1, INT +1, CHA +1. An adult of recent vintage with pointed ears, short-cropped raven hair, and dark blue eyes. XP 10,000; 0 gold. Morale +0.
Vulfelind de Saubruic - Neutral Thief-6, 16, Swashbuckling, Tracking x2, Weapon Finesse. DEX +3, INT -1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. Has some long-term scarring which is stiff (-1 initiative). XP 35,200; 25,400 gold.
Thorismund du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 22, Animal Husbandry, Command, Fighting Style (Two-Handed). STR +2, INT -2, WIS +1, CHA +2. XP 17,600; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
Ingunde du Châtel - Neutral Fighter-5, 18, Animal Husbandry x2, Command, Weapon Finesse. STR -2, DEX +1, CON -1, INT +1, CHA +2. XP 16,000; 4,420 gold. Morale +7.
Louis d'Orléans - Lawful Human, 17, Profession (Accountant) x3. CON +2, INT +1. A neat, tidy man who does neat, tidy work. Now the house accountant for Ingunde and Thorismund. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +2.
Veneranda le Vulin - Neutral Cleric-5, 16, Elven Bloodline, Animal Husbandry, Animal Training (Dogs), Beast Friendship, Divine Blessing. STR +0*, DEX +1, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +2*, CHA +1. * +1 with adulthood. XP 13,200; 3,560 gold. Morale +7.
Shadow - War Dog, HD 3+3. XP 6,000. Morale +6.
Silver - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
Sable - War Dog, HD 2+2. XP 3,000. Morale +6.
Baldaswind de Calais - Neutral Weretiger-5, 23, Beast Friendship, Running, Swashbuckling, Tracking. STR +1, DEX +3, CHA +2. Tiger form Move 180, attacks 2d6/1d6/1d6. XP 66,000; 1,550 gold. Morale +2.
Garal - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
Salha - Tiger, HD 6. XP 33,000. Morale +5.
Almalinda d'Orléans - Neutral Human, 15, Animal Husbandry x3, Animal Training (Horses). STR -2, INT +1*, CHA +2. * +1 with adulthood. A very excitable brunette who loves nothing quite so much as horses. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +4.
Lanthechilde d'Antioch - Neutral Thief-6, 20, Healing x3, Intimidation, Sniping. STR +1, DEX +2, CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1, CHA +2. Short sword +1. XP 35,200; 26,900 gold.
Harberic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-5, 22, Alertness, Art (Sculpture) x3, Swashbuckling. CON +1, INT +1, WIS +1. XP 12,000; 3,300 gold. Morale +4.
Medonic d'Orléans - Neutral Thief-2, 20, Trapping, Trap Finding. STR -2, DEX +1, WIS -1, CHA +1. A nervous little man with very proper attire. Finds Harberic unnerving. XP 1,250; 0 gold. Morale +2.
Shadagrunde d'Atanung - Lawful Cleric-5, 20, Command, Engineering x2, Leadership, Military Strategy. DEX +2, INT +1, WIS +3, CHA +1. An extremely cheerful convert of the Lady, with a driving desire to see the world. XP 17,200; 9,200 gold.
Merideth le Chocolat - Lawful Cleric-1, 22, Healing x2. WIS +3, CHA +3. A small, dark-skinned woman with ankle-length platinum hair and a constant, ready grin. XP 0; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
Grimaric d'Orléans - Lawful Cleric-2, 35, Labor (Farmer), Healing. STR -1, CON +1, WIS +1, CHA +1. A grim-faced, pot-bellied older man with farm-worked sinew. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)
Aggulita the Goblin - Lawful Cleric-2, 14, Animal Training (Wolf), Animal Training (Dire Wolf), Beast Friendship, Riding (Wolf). INT +2, WIS +1. Dire Wolf mount (AC 3, HD 4+1, Move 150, bite 2d4). Short, even for a goblin, an obvious runt who found the Lady early in life and fled his origins. XP 1,500; 0 gold. Morale +1 (CHA +1, loyal +0, levels +0, calamities +0)