(August 28th, 2016) – Today’s session begins with a wrap-up of characters, particularly in regards to backgrounds, and then transitioned to the first quest the players were to complete: The Trials of Independence. This simple quest would consist of just a handful of encounters to help introduce everyone at the table to the nuances of the 5E rules. The going was often slow as we had to reference various rules and stats along the way, resulting in a the session clocking in at just over five and a half hours of game time.
The campaign opens with the wise elf Darcaryn explaining to the players that they have reached the point in their training when they must undergo the Trial of Independence. Darcaryn, also known as Darcaryn of the Elmarch, has been a mentor to the players and has taught them the skills to become successful adventurers. Daracryn, you see, has made it his life’s work to take in Half-elven outcasts from the nearby city of Neverwinter and raise them in the ways of the
adventurer. He’s not always successful as not all are cut from adventurer’s cloth, but Darcaryn and others in Elmarch see to it that they receive guidance towards other paths in life.
Darcaryn recognized in Florian, Seagold, and Algiz the physical gifts, drive, and temperament to become great champions for good. His tutelage refined their innate abilities and talent, that of Ranger in Seagold and the young Florian, and that of healer and Cleric in Algiz. The time has come for trial by fire as Darcaryn has taken them as far as he can. It is now their destiny to seize outside the safe confines of Elmarch Village.
The player’s quest is to travel to the Cave of Shade and retrieve the Crystal of Everday. This clear crystal is in the shape of a hand-sized sphere whose edges are surrounded by triangular shapes. One could say it looks like a crystal representation of the sun, and they would be correct. Darcaryn tells the players that in order to reach the Cave of Shade, they must travel south from Elmarch until they reach the Merchant’s Fork, then west until the trees have leaves of fall, then north to the cave. Just before they embark, Darcaryn taps Seagold on the shoulder and hands him a piece of parchment with the words “Sunrise” & “Sunset” on it. The players ponder the meaning.
The players depart on foot from Elmarch. Chatting as they go they realize they never asked how far it is that they will need to travel. They hail some passers by on horseback and ask them if they know how far to the Merchant’s Fork. The travelers tell the players that the fork is about 8 hours walk south. They players bid a “Well met” to the Elves on horseback and continue their walk south.
After a peaceful and uneventful walk, the players arrive at the Merchant’s Fork. Three roads meet here, one continuing south to Moorwell, one west into the woods, and one southeast to Kassich. At the intersection sits a small 20′ x 20′ building with a sign above that says “Marge’s”. Two horses are tied up in front. The players approach and knock on the door eliciting a response of “Don’t you know how a door works?!?!” from a female voice inside. The players open the door and see a single room with but a few tables and a small bar. Two men sitting at the bar and an older woman with her hair in a bun briefly look towards them and then return to their conversations. Florian steams towards the small bar inside to order a drink. Aware of his drinking problem Seagold attempts to stop him from reaching the bar. Florain evades Seagold’s attempts to stop him with a flourish causing Seagold to fall face first to the wooden floor (Seagold rolled a 1 and Florian a natural 20). Marge and the two men at the bar have a good laugh at Seagold’s expense.
The players order pints of ale and stew. Seagold flips Marge a gold piece for her troubles. The players engage in a brief conversation at the bar with the patrons, who are merchants passing through, in an attempt to find out more about the surrounding area. They are told that merchants avoid travels west on the fork because of the dangers that supposedly lie in that direction.
With little more info to be found and their bellies full, the player leave Marge’s and head west from the fork.
The players move west as the trail becomes less traveled and more overgrown. The sun is setting low in the sky the players decide to set up camp for the night and get a good night’s rest. The players decide against lighting a campfire and arrange a watch with Florian taking first watch, Algiz second watch, and Seagold taking third. All is quiet during the first 2 watches but some rustling is heard int he woods about 25 feet from camp during Seagold’s watch. The sound isn’t getting closer or further but more so circling. Seagold quietly awakens the rest of the party to make them aware. Florian pulls out his shortbow he calls “Johnson” and nocks and arrow. Seagold draws his short sword. Algiz prepares a Sacred Flame spell.
Seagold sneaks out into the woods to try to get a look at what is circling the camp. Natural 20 on the stealth check! Seagold easily and skillfully sneaks without so much as a whisper of a sound to move into position near the rustling. Using his darkvision, Seagold sees what appears to be a tree move and then stop. Florian calls to the woods “Who goes there?” but garners no response. Seagold holds position for a time and then hears a second rustling noise coming from behind him and further out. Seagold decides to sneak back to the camp and link up with the rest of the party. Once again he performs a stealth check and once again rolls a natural 20! Seagold is awarded an inspiration point for his well performed stealth maneuvers. As Seagold returns to the camp to tell the others what he witnessed, a sudden rush of activity and rustling comes from the forest as if something is hurriedly moving away.
The party accompanies Seagold back to the area he claims to have seen the moving tree. Investigating they find a handful of sharp, 3″ long, pine-like needles. Searching the surrounding area the Rangers are able to pick up a trail of pine needles leading in the direction they heard the rustling move away from camp. Deciding to be cautious and not track whatever is in the woods, especially at night, the group returns to the camp. Seagold completes his watch without any further disturbances.
The sun rises and the group continues its journey to the west.
Moving west down the road for about an hour the players begin to notice a change in their surroundings. The leaves on the trees are beginning to look a little more sparse and their colors are starting to turn to shades of orange. Further down the road the group notices what appear to be six shapes but are unable to determine who or what they are. The shapes appear to be bickering but what they are saying isn’t immediately clear to all the players. Seagold attempts to sneak forward for a better listen but trips over a tree branch creating a ruckus. The bickering coming from further down the road stops.
Florian sneaks further down the left side of the road, opposite of Seagold. Two entities break from the others at the end of the road and begin to move towards the direction of the players. They appear to be searching. Florian moves about 20 feet further off the road and hides while Algiz moves slightly closer on the left. The players are able to tell now that the entities moving down the road are Goblins and that they have their swords drawn. Florian draws steel but remains hidden. The Goblins move cautiously closer but stop suddenly and look in Algiz’s direction when he accidentally draws attention to himself.
Seizing this distraction Seagold fires an arrow striking one of the Goblins in the back causing him to stumble forward and scream out in pain. Startled, the second Goblin turns in the direction of the attack looking for the culprit. Algiz fires his crossbow at him but shoots high and to the left buzzing his ear. The Goblin spins again, turning his attention away from the direction of Seagold. Aware now that something is afoot, two of the Goblins at the end of the road begin to sprint in the direction of their comrades.
Lying in wait, Florian allows the Goblins to run past, then leaps out of hiding for a sneak attack. The surprised Goblin stumbles backward lessening the full effect of the strike. Taking the initiative Florian follows up with a second swing but the Goblin recovers in time to parry with his scimitar. Seagold fires an arrow at the Goblin nearest him but his arrow glances of a tree branch and harmlessly skitters away. Algiz appeals to Pelor and causes a flame-like radiance to descend upon the injured Goblin nearest him burning him to a crisp. The Goblins engaged with Florian gang up for an attack, both landing solid blows on him. The remaining Goblin charges into the brush and swings at Algiz but the blow lands harmlessly on his shield.
Seagold turns his attention to the pair attacking Florian and fires an arrow at the injured Goblin but misses. Algiz cast a spell to heal Florian’s wounds and follows up quickly with a Sacred Flame spell on the nearest Goblin burning him severely. The Goblin swings back with his scimitar but Algiz easily defends it with his shield. The remaining Goblins near Florian, amazed by Algiz’s display of skill, stare in amazement losing their opportunity to attack Florian (I forgot to have them attack, lucky Florian).
Florian once again thrusts with his short sword, this time finding a spot in the armor and running him through. The Goblin collapses to the ground. Seagold fires another arrow the remaining Goblin near Seagold but misses. Algiz swings his mace at the Goblin nearest him but the Goblin takes the blow with his shield. The Goblin strikes back at Algiz and lands a clean hit. The Goblin engaged with Florian swings his scimitar but Florian dodges deftly to the side avoiding the blow.
Florian swings at the remaining Goblin near him but find only air. Seagold charges out of the woods and looses an arrow at the Goblin engaged with Florian and hits but fails to bring him down. Algiz swings his mace at the Goblin nearest him once again but the Goblin deflects the blow away with his shield. The Goblin swings back but misses wildly. The enraged Goblin struck by the arrow turns from Florian and charges at Seagold. Swinging his scimitar the Goblin deals a vicious blow to Seagold.
Florian chases after the Goblin attacking Seagold, swings his short sword once more, and cuts him down. Seagold pivots and fires his bow at the last remaining Goblin. The arrow flies true, striking it in the back of the skull, and killing it instantly.
The party moves cautiously towards the end of the road but finds that the last two shapes they had seen are only a human hunter and his son. They appear to have been the victims of an ambush, killed by the marauding Goblins. The party searches the human bodies and the Goblins finding only a handful of silver pieces but little else of value. The players realize they have reached the end of this trail and are at the t-section. They continue north towards the Cave of Shade.
The trees and bushes turn orange and brown or simply have no leaves at all as the players make their way up the narrow trail. The daylight also seems to grow noticeably more dim. Despite these ominous signs, the players reach the cave entrance after two hours of walking. The cave entrance is covered with vines and is dark inside making it difficult to see into. The players find tracks of a larger sized creature coming and going from the cave entrance. They press forward to get a look inside the cave when Algiz notices four tree-like creatures moving at them from the sides. In a panic he shoves the players forward into the cave as the tree-creatures release clouds of a yellow pollen-like substance into the air with an audible popping noise.
Algiz unleashes a Scared Flame spell on the nearest tree-creature but it uncannily dodges the strike. Florian looses an arrow striking one of the creatures and drops it where it stands. One of the tree-creatures swings its limbs and lets loose s shower of sharp pine-like needles striking Florian. Another throws needles at Algiz who gets his shield up just in time. The last creature swings a large branchy arm striking Seagold and knocking him unconscious.
Seeing Seagold fall, Algiz places a hand on him, and casts Cure Wounds. Seagold’s eyes snap open as he is brought back from the brink. Florian fires another arrow but misses his target. Two of the creatures throw needles but Florian and Algiz avoid them with ease. Florian is not as lucky as the third creature catches him with a blast of needles. Florian slumps to the ground unconscious. Seagold, reinvigorated, fires his bow and buries an arrow into the midsection of a nearby creature.
Algiz swings his mace at the nearest creature and sends splinters of twigs and branches flying everywhere, but the creature remains upright. Staggered it swings an arm at Algiz but he ducks under. The second creature unleashes needles on Seagold, but he dodges the shards. Timing Florian’s dodge, the third creature lands a looping strike with its branchy arm. Seagold fires another arrow at the creature he hit previously, and this one brings it down.
Algiz unleashes an overhand mace strike smashing into the nearest creature. It is staggered, but does not fall. The two remaining creatures swipe at the players with their arms but find only air. Seagold fires an arrow at the creature in front of Algiz. The arrow sinks into its head and the creature falls.
Algiz casts a Sacred Flame at the remaining creature but it somehow manages to avoid the strike. Florian awakens from unconsciousness. The last creature unleashes a barrage of needles striking Algiz like a pincushion. Algiz doubles over in pain and falls to his side, unconscious. Seagold fires another arrow, critically striking the remaining creature. It collapses dead to the forest floor.
Seagold frantically works to stabilize the unconscious Algiz and is successful binding his wounds. As they continue to tend to their injured comrade they hear a low growl emanate from deeper within the cave. Seagold hears the sound of footsteps approaching. The players are unsure if they can drag their injured comrade from the cave quickly enough so they decide instead to pour their only healing potion down his throat. As Algiz regains his wits, a Bugbear emerges from around the corner of the cave. He bangs his large mace twice on the wall and lets out a wicked growl at the players.
Seagold fires an arrow striking the Bugbear in the torso. The Bugbear’s eyes widen in pain. Seagold retreats from the cave. Florian takes a swing with his short sword but finds only air as the Bugbear dodges his swipe. Florian then follows Seagold’s lead and retreats from the cave. Algiz unleashes a Sacred Flame singeing the fur of the Bugbear, and then he too retreats from the cave. The Bugbear lets out an enraged roar and chases after the group but they remain just outside the range of his mace.
Seagold fires another arrow but this time the Bugbear is ready and catches it on his shield. Seagold retreats further from the Bugbear. Florian draws his bow and fires an arrow. This time he fires true and catches the Bugbear deep in the shoulder. Florian retreats further. Algiz pulls his crossbow and fires but shoots high. Algiz retreats further as well. The Bugbear, now seriously injured and wise to the tactics of the group, begins to retreat back into the cave.
Seagold fires another arrow at the retreating Bugbear. The Bugbear tries to swat it aside with his mace but fails. The arrow strikes the Bugbear in the chest and he falls backwards to the cave floor.
Seagold sneaks back into the cave and peeks around the passage corner. Inside he sees a large cavern with various items within such as a table and chairs, bed, trash, a small chest. In the middle of the room a broken stalagmite sits with a clear crystal sitting on top. The party moves into the cavern and begins searching. Florian opens the small chest and finds a small amount of gold and a potion full of red liquid. A further examination of the cave walls turns up a loose stone. Behind the stone is a small blue gem wrapped in fabric.
The players decide to camp out in the cave overnight before heading back to Elmarch. The night goes peacefully and the players get some much needed rest. When they awake they begin to examine and experiment with the crystal on the stalagmite. Eventually they determine that saying the command word “Sunrise” causes the gem to give off light equivalent of a Light spell, and using the command word “Sunset” causes the light to fade out. The players wrap the gem in cloth and place the gem into Seagold’s backpack.
Darcaryn welcomes the players back to Elmarch and congratulates them on succeeding in recovering the Crystal of Everday. He pronounces that they have successfully completed the Trials of Independence. He identifies the potion as a Potion of Healing and instructs the players on the use and attributes of the Crystal of Everday. The players must now rest and recuperate before continuing their adventures.
Standard gaming fare this time as we chowed down on pizza & wings from Bella Pizzeria. Beer eventually gave way to a pot of coffee as a sure sign of surrender to middle-age.
With the campaign now in full swing, what will be the destiny of our three heroes? Greatness or Orc Pudding? We’ll continue to answer that question on September 10th.