Kingmaker

Session 18
Owlbears and Redheaded Alcoholics

Session 18: Gozran 10, 4711 AR through Desnus 31, 4711 AR
The first week of your return was spent dealing with typical administrative and governing matters. The Orlovsky delegation arrived on 18 Gozran. There were 2 wagons full of trade goods (part of the dowry) and the royal carriage. Sara Orlovsky was close to 30 and rather plain. She was cheap and had a fear of physical contact lest she contract some horrible disease. She was accompanied by her brother Keldon, an unctuous foppish dandy who ran a branch of the family lumber business. Richard was immediately put off by Sara’s age, appearance, and imperious mannerisms. The baron also questioned the mental health of the family as Keldon constantly included an imaginary friend in his conversations. Keldo also did not endear himself to Richard when he tried to cut a side deal in business with Dorian. Overall, it was a long week as the baron and the rest of his inner circle had to put up the Orlovskys.

You all did not have much time to process your meeting with the Sara and her brother before a major crisis broke. A gigantic Owlbear attacked the partially constructed wall on 26 Gozran, killing 2 and wounding 5 militia members. You all tracked the beast back to its lair over the next 6 days, easily defeating a mosquito swarm and a small band of Boggards that you all encountered along the way. The lair was carefully concealed on the banks of the Little Sellen River. After successfully luring the beast out and killing it, you all explored the lair. Inside were a variety of fungal creatures, including a pile of sentient vegetation covered in an immense centipede swarm. Richard and Alinza were seriously injured in this encounter, but the party was saved by some quick thinking by Dorian, who used his wand of burning hands and shocking grasp to disperse the swarm while Vidarr and Alinza brought the plant beast down. Aside from this there were a few spiders, but these were easily handled. In the Owlbear lair, you found evidence that some humans had used a magical ring to coerce the Owlbear into attacking Highpoint before it had turned on them and devoured them. The fact that a magical ring was found that contained a lock of Nymph hair strongly suggested that these humans had been working with your mysterious nymph enemy.

You arrived back in Highpoint on 2 Desnus and spent the next 2 weeks governing and getting ready for the arrival of the Surtova party. The Surtova party outdid the Orlovsky party in every respect. They had 4 wagonloads of goods. The suitor was Nyssa Surtova, a vivacious red-head in her early 20’s. She had a fondness for drink and gossip. Her brother Lambert was a rather vapid noble who was incessantly cheerful and ignored his great wolfhound Charlie. Vidarr, as one would expect, hung out more with the dog and firmly rejected the advances of Nyssa. While the baron and most of his inner circle liked the Surtova’s more than the Orlovskys, most agreed that marrying into the Orlovsky family would be the politically expedient thing to do. Ignoring his council’s advice, however, Richard accepted the Surtova offer. Once his betrothed departed, Richard spent the rest of the month trying to assuage his inner circle and the kingdom’s council.

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Session 17
Interview with a Vampire

Session 17: Pharast 20, 4711 AR through Gozran 9, 4711 AR
Your return to Highpoint coincided with the Vernal Equinox and the festival of Planting Week, which celebrated Erastil and the return of spring. An uneventful week passed as the members of the party took on various administrative tasks. Solden continued to tutor Lily and Tig, while Vidarr took the young man under his wing and gave him a bow. Vidarr also continued to court Ingrit. Alinza continued her duties as a representative of Pharasma as well as hanging out with Kundal, while Richard settled several local disputes, and Dorian worked with Zander to continue developing a regional spy network. Vidarr was pleased when a merchant and his wife, Loy and Laticia Ledford from Daggermark approached Vidarr about refounding the village of Tatzlford. Vidarr was pleased to give his blessing to this venture.

On the 29th, you all set out to explore the last reaches of the Greenbelt. On the 31st, you reached Tatlzford and saw that the first crew of workmen had arrived and begun work on reconstructing the village. On 3 Gozran, the party stumbled upon the mysterious Lostlarn Keep. Local lore held that this mysterious structure was full of treasure, but others say it is haunted by angry spirits and worse. One story claims the tower was the abode of a powerful wizard who died in a spell-battle that split the keep from top to bottom with “flensing fire,” and who may still haunt the area, guarding his yet-hidden magic and hunting for the foe that killed him. Another story insists that the thieves who slew Lostlarn Keep’s owners later stored dragon eggs there, and that a hatchling dragon forcing its way to freedom shattered the tower. A third popular tale says Lostlarn was the stronghold of a robber lord who died horribly, along with all of his men, when some booty they seized turned out to be guarded by a crawling, flesh-eating growth that killed them and turned them into mindless, shambling plant-beasts. It’s generally agreed that, whatever its past, Lostlarn has been an abandoned ruin for around 60 years but is much older that that. The oldest written records in Daggermark call it “Larrhoztarm’s Keep,” so it seems Lostlarn is a corruption of that name, presumably that of its builder or most prominent early occupant. Recent rumors claim Lostlarn is home to a “wall of eyes” and that any who step through it arrive at a strange and wondrous otherwhere, where gems litter the ground, free for the taking. Though it’s not far from a road, few travelers camp there, as those who go to Lostlarn often go missing—forever. The truth was more mundane if no less dangerous. The keep was inhabited by an Elven Vampire calling herself the Dancing Lady and her fey allies, a Quickling and a Svartalfar. A series of fierce battles ensued, with Solden and Richard being seriously injured before their foes could be destroyed. It seemed as if the Dancing Lady was in an alliance with your mysterious Nymph rival.

The next few days were filled with encounters with a Hodag, a pack of Thyalicines, and some Assassin Vines. Finally, with the Greenbelt explored, you all returned to Highpoint on 9 Gozran to begin the expansion of your kingdom in earnest as well as to await the arrival of Richard’s suitors.

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Session 16
Wizards should be careful when they fly!

Session 16: Pharast 7, 4711 AR through Pharast 19, 4711 AR
The party left Highpoint in the rain on Wealday, Pharast 9. By the 10th, you all had reached the region where you had encountered the lizardfolk before. You managed to get a jump on a huge patrol that included an 12 lizardfolk, an Ettin, 2 Owlbears, and 2 Rust Monsters. Solden, Vidarr, and Dorian carried the day, as Richard fell prey to entangling magic from a lizardfolk spellcaster.

Early on the evening of the 11th, you all were able to set up an ambush on the lizardfolk’s eastern outpost. Solden summoned a Hound Archon to open the gate, after which Richard and Alinza charged in. Meanwhile, Vidarr and Dorian provided sniper support and Solden aerial artillery (fireballs and ice storms). Jhod also summoned two dire bats. You all found a few more prisoners, but several were local trappers that could lead the rest back to Highpoint once they were supplied from the gear of the dead lizardfolk. This same pattern was repeated on the southern outpost (Pharast 12) and the western outpost (Pharast 14).

On Pharast 15, you all approached the main village and found that it had been hastily abandoned. Vidarr, with help from Alinza, was able to track the fleeing inhabitants south. After about a day, the group split into two, with the young lizardfolk with a few guardians heading west and the main troupe continuing south. Following information from some of the earlier freed captives that there was actually a main compound further south, you all opted to head there.

On the 17th, you all arrived at the hidden stronghold and scouted it out, preparing for an assault on the evening of the 18th. This time, however, the lizardfolk turned the tables on the party, ambushing your campsite just before dawn on the 18th. In addition to the lizardfolk king, the tribe had the services of a decrepit human wizard who had a terrible wasting condition (his legs below the waist were horribly atrophied). They had an array of local beasts as well, including a dire bear and a pair of blood caimans. Using the spells of Solden, the bow of Vidarr, and the blades of Alinza, Dorian, and Richard, you all made short work of the assault force. The turning point came when the wizard took the air and was feathered by Vidarr’s shafts, while Dorian bested the king in one-on-one combat. You all looted the village and decided to let the young go, returning in triumph to Highpoint on the evening of the 19th.

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Session 15
Perfidious Lizardfolk and Great Old Ones

Session 15: Calistril 9, 4711 AR through Pharast 6, 4711 AR
The party and the town of Highpoint hunkered down to ride out the last of the winter. On Calistril 14, however, you all received a surprise visit from a Lizardfolk delegation from the village you all had stumbled across in your earlier explorations. The delegation leader, an elderly shaman named Shalash, explained that the Lizardfolk of Orthult (as the village was known) had decided that Highpoint would make a suitable neighbor and wanted to open trade relations. Richard suggested an exchange of warriors as a show of good will. Shalash said that he would take this request back to his king. Solden and Zander had some misgivings as they had heard that Orthult dealt in questionable merchandise with questionable groups, such as bandits.

The next day, as the delegation left, the snow began in earnest. That evening, the local tanner, Ronal, showed up and said that his son Tig had gone missing. Tig was last seen at the ford where you all had rescued Narthropple’s caravan from some slurks. Vidarr arranged a search party while Vidarr was able to scry on Tig. The wizard’s magic revealed that Tig had been kidnapped by a group of Lizardfolk and was being taken back to Orthult where he would be given over to the “old man.” The party set out at once through a worsening winter storm, trying to cut the kidnappers off before they disappeared into the depths of the marsh around Orthult. Pushing yourselves mercilessly and ignoring the fatigue, you all had a brief encounter with an enraged grizzly bear, which Vidarr managed to talk down. You all finally caught up with the kidnappers as they were holed up in Merl the hermit’s old tree home while waiting out the storm. A well-planned ambush in the dawn hours of Calistril 17 rescued Tig and killed the five Lizardfolk who had kidnapped him. You took one prisoner and before you executed him, you learned that the Lizardfolk king had ordered the boy captured, but for not the reasons why. The delegation had been a diversion to carry out this plot.

You all delivered Tig to his grateful parents just in time as a full-fledged blizzard hit the region. The party spent the next few days plotting how to handle this act of aggression on the part of the Lizardfolk. It was decided that the party would mount an all-out assault and destroy the village. Before you all left, however, there was an interesting development as it turned out that Tig began exhibiting considerable sorcerous power. Alinza, Vidarr, and Solden took the young boy under their wing and began to teach him how to cope with his newfound power.

On Calistril 24, you all set out into the Narlmarches to get revenge against the Lizardfolk. You reached the outskirts of the camp on the evening of Calistril 27 and launched a devastating assault. Solden bombarded the community with fireballs and ice storms, while Vidarr and Dorian snuck in and Alinza and Richard served as shock troops. The village was destroyed with minimal damage to the party, but you all discovered some prisoners—local trappers, merchants, and farmers. They revealed that what the party had destroyed was one of 4 border outposts that his the actual village deeper in the swamp. You all decided to return the prisoners to Highpoint and plot out your next move.

The journey back was eventful. You all were attacked by several Will-‘o-Wisps, which killed two of the farmers. Also, Solden, Richard, and Alinza noticed the Dorian was acting strangely. When you all arrived back in Highpoint on Pharast 2, you all had Jhod surreptitiously examine Dorian, and the priest informed the party that their Elven companion was under a curse from the dagger recovered on the haunted island. He was being compelled to worship the Old Ones, specifically an abominable being known as Yog-Sothoth. Solden acquired a scroll to remove the curse from his comrade and successfully used it. In fact, Dorian was carrying two cursed items—the dagger from the haunted isle and the Stag Lord’s amulet. When he took off the amulet, an image of a beautiful but depraved nymph appeared and stated that she would never let the party destroy the plans that she had for the Stolen Lands. The amulet then exploded, injuring several of you, but not severely.

The next several days were spent in recovery and planning. Alinza led town in celebrating the Day of Bones on Pharast 5. The bodies of some of the recently deceased townsfolk were paraded through the town and then given a free burial.

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Session 14
Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Session 14: Abadius 16, 4711 AR through Calistril 8, 4711 AR
Antau returned from his diplomatic missions to report success. Nyssa Surtova would be arriving shortly after the 1st of Gozren, while Sara Orlovsky would be arriving a few weeks later. Richard would then have a decision to make. Antau was relieved that he was no longer Highpoint’s top diplomat. Oleg and Svetlana approached the council about stepping down and returning the trading post with the purpose of starting a new town that would be attached to your new kingdom. The council accepted their resignation and appointed Lily Teskerton, a local curio shop owner with a fascination for Elven culture, as the treasurer and the Gnome adventurer Jubilost Narthropple as the new chief advisor. The financial strain of helping Oleg start his new settlement drove the party back out into the wilderness to find funds.

Richard remained in town to help the new council members get their feet under them while Alinza, Dorian, Solden, and Vidarr set out on Abadius 23 to explore the southeastern parts of the Greenbelt beyond the Shrike and Little Sellen Rivers. On the way they stopped at the Candlemere island, which was infested with Will-‘o-Wisps. Over several days you all had harrowing encounters with these creatures and Joey and Alinza were severely wounded. In the end, there was nothing on the island but an old shell of a tower that had been dedicated to the Old Ones, especially Yog-Sothoth. Dorian claimed a powerful magical dagger that you all found in the ruins.

Continuing on, the party encountered 5 Thyalicines, 5 Tatzylwyrms, and 6 Whiptail Centipedes, all of which proved no match for you. The centipedes were feasting on the remains of horses from a caravan that had been attacked and looted by bandits from the west. Based upon Tiefling tracks and giant tracks found at the site, you suspected that your old friend Jerrou was leading bandit raids into your territory and had recruited the Hill Giant you all convinced to go to Pitax earlier. You also stumbled across a couple of mercenaries and finally found some of the bodies from the caravan in the lair of a Leucrotta, which used its voice to lure in Alinza and severely wound her. For her troubles, Alinza found a fine Blue Dragonhide breastplate and shield. The armor provided poison protection while the shield provided electricity resistance. The party arrived back in Highpoint on the 8th of Calistril. You all sent workers to collect some loot for the kingdom treasury that you found in the ruins of the caravan.

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Session 13
Murder Most Foul

Session 13: Kuthona 16, 4710 AR through Abadius 15, 4711 AR
A local millworker by the name of Gelbor was found murdered down by the lakefront. His heart had been surgically removed and the symbol of an angry, bloodshot eye had been carved in his forehead. Alinza identified this as the symbol of Gyronna, the Angry Hag. This latter was a minor deity widely venerated throughout the River Kingdoms as the goddess of extortion, hatred, and spite. Most of her worshippers were women who had been spurned by society. Over the next week the party scrambled to stop this insidious cult from taking root. The investigation led to the discovery of a cabal of women under the control of a priestess of Gyronna who had come to town in the guise of a midwife named Goody Niska. She recruited Namira, Gelbor’s adulterous wife, Olga, a new herbalist in town rumored to be a witch, Petra, an aged prostitute, Quaenishia, a Kellid barbarian wilderness guide who was the butt of the other male wilderness guides’ displeasure, Raenalia, a petty seamstress who was being run out of business by her competition, and Saeonid, a recently arrived Varsian harrower. It also seemed that Niska the cult leader had the support of your mysterious bard nemesis Retawniar. After a week of twists and turns and several false leads, Richard, Jhod, and Vidarr finally unmasked the midwife and captured her along with Petra. Namira, Olga, Quanishia, Raenalia, and Saeonid managed to escape with the help of Retawniar. Namira ended up sacrificing her 2 young children (a daughter and son) to the Angry Hag, while Olga murdered several town guards and Saeonid murdered Nils, a local fisherman who had assaulted her during the course of the investigations. Also, Olga murdered her rival Bokken, much to the anger and sadness of the party. Niska and Petra were put on trial. Niska was unrepentant and went to the headsman’s block defiantly, cursing the entire party. Petra had a change of heart and became a convert to the worship or Erastil. Among the more amusing episodes of this otherwise grim turn of events occurred when Solden, Alinza, and Dorian managed to incur the wrath of the pompous new doctor Ivan and were forced to pay him restitution. You all also made several new acquaintances, including the millworkers Joe, Kalob, and Lem, the prostitutes Jillian and Jenny, and the devout new acolyte of Erastil named Jasper.

The year closed, however, on a positive note with the arrival of a caravan from neighboring Varnhold to the east. Cephal Lorentus, the Magister of Varnhold, and Willas Gundarson, the Marshal of Varnhold, led the caravan, which carried a shipment of trade goods from the new kingdom, including its locally famous brew, Cheerful Delver Stout. Your new Varnhold friends stayed until a week after the new year and a tentative trade agreement was struck, with the first deliveries to arrive in early Gozran once the weather cleared up. You all continued to expand your kingdom north towards Oleg’s and within the city Vidarr finally got his barracks and the beginnings of a wall.

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Session 12
Tunnels and Trolls

Session 12: Kuthona 2 through Kuthona 15, 4710 AR
You all decided to explore the last un-mapped bits of the southern Narlmarches as you proceeded back to town. On Kuthona 2, the party stumbled across the lair of an exceptionally large Forest Drake. Richard and Dorian survived its acid cloud attack in the process of dispatching the creature. You all surmised that this was the rumored “green dragon” that had been haunting the area.

Kuthona 4 brought the party to a forest clearing where the sweet stench of decay hung thick in the air. Knotted branches of sickly trees lined the perimeter, creating a thick canopy that blocked most of the sunlight and cloaked the hollow in shadow. Withered vegetation struggled to grow in ragged clumps among the multitude of bones strewn across the forest floor. Vidarr immediately spotted across the clearing a dark brown oak tree, 20 feet tall, with dark, twisted roots, and a few reddish-brown leaves hanging from its gnarled limbs; what looked like a long scar was etched in the center of the tree’s trunk. Even as the ranger warned the party that this was an evil woodland predator known as a Quickwood, roots erupted from the ground, seizing Afdrif and pulling the horse towards the creature. As Vidarr and Alinza struggled to save the horse, Richard and Dorian charged the plant while Solden assaulted it with ice magic. As he got close to the tree, Dorian was horrified when the scar became a gaping maw that swallowed him whole. The roots also crushed poor Yorasai. Dorian called on the arcane energy of his sword and cut his way out the tree, killing the foul creature in the process.

On Kuthona 5, a heavy snowstorm blanketed the region. Towards the end of the day, you all entered into a peaceful forest glade where a small pond lay placidly at the roots of an enormous oak tree with a scattering of leaves floating upon its curiously unfrozen surface. Emerging from behind the tree was a strange, beautiful woman whose flesh seemed made of wood and whose vibrant hair resembled leaves and blossoms. Accompanying her was a handsome, grinning man who had the furry legs of a goat, a set of curling ram horns extending from his temples, and a set of pan pipes. Dorian and Solden identified these creatures as a Dryad and a Satyr. The woman introduced herself as Tiressia and named the Satyr as her consort Falchos. She was overjoyed that the party had rid the woodlands of the Quickwood and in her gratitude offered you all several magical items, including a set of tokens that would magically grow into trees. She offered to ally with your new kingdom and serve as an agent reporting activity in her region of the Narlmarches. She also warned that there was a powerful Nymph who was trying to corrupt the Stolen Lands for unknown purposes. You all accepted Tiressia and Falchos’ offer of hospitality and spent a pleasant evening in festivities with the friendly fey.

The next day (Kuthona 6), the party came to a section of the Skunk River where it makes a sharp bend, widening into a deep pool dotted with lily pads and fringed with waving reeds. Several freshly felled trees lie beside their stumps on the shore of the pool, their crowns dangling in the water among fading tendrils of mist. This serene scene is only broken by the seven angry loggers standing near the felled trees, about 30 feet from the pool. Two more loggers stand facing them, right at the water’s edge. It looks as if a fight could break out at any moment. Floating in the center of the pool with only her head above water, about 20 feet from the shore, is a green-skinned woman with webbed hands and feet. Her hair is the color of green algae and is decorated with lily pads. Vidarr recognized the loggers as locals from Highpoint led by a notorious ruffian by the name of Corax, while the elves identified the woman as a type of fey known as a Nixie. Corax recognized Richard and asked for the baron’s help. He claimed that the Nixie attacked his men unprovoked. He then went off on a diatribe about how hard it is for “a decent man to make a living with all of these damnable fairies in the woods.” The Nixie introduced herself as Melianse and responded that she politely asked the loggers to leave at first but was forced to charm two of them after Corax threatened to hang her from the nearest tree “to drip dry.” She adds that the coachwood trees felled by the loggers had been growing next to the pool for over 200 years and deserved a far better fate than serving as “some grubby peasant’s slop table.” Richard, Vidarr, and Dorian then attempted to defuse the situation. Corax wanted his lumber and demanded that Melianse free his two charmed men freed from her influence, while Melianse wanted the loggers to leave her glade and provide reparation for the trees they’ve already felled. Vidarr recalled that there was an untouched grove of coachwood trees 10 miles to the north, near his old village, which the lumberjacks could freely harvest. Corax was willing to leave this grove alone, but Melianse refused to releases the two charmed loggers until you all replaced the five trees the loggers had cut down. Dorian suggested that you all use five of Tiressia’s feather tokens to regrow the five trees. This was acceptable to all parties involved. Once the trees sprouted, Melianse released the loggers and Corax and his men went on their way. Melianse was so impressed with the way the group handled things that she offered to serve as a liaison between Highpoint and the Nixie community that lived in the Greenbelt’s rivers and lakes. They would keep an eye out for unusual happenings and report them if the kingdom leaders made a public proclamation that there was to me no lumbering near or defilement of the waterways. Richard agreed to this proposal and you all spent a pleasant evening near the cove.

As you all were about a day from the town on Kuthona 7, you all came across a camp of 6 armed men. In the course of your parlay, they demanded that you leave all your gear and mounts and they would let you go. Realizing you all were up against bandits, you attacked and made relatively short work of them, although the leader was more powerful than you would have thought and severely wounded Dorian.

Upon arriving back in town on the afternoon of Kuthona 8, it was apparent that Grigori had not ceased stirring up trouble. You all called a council meeting and determined to publicly confront the bard. Going to the inn, you all displayed the troll heads and the drake head as proof of your effectiveness as town leaders. Solden, Richard, and Vidarr made convincing speeches to the populace and Richard passed a sentence of exile on the bard. As he was escorted out of tow, Dorian stepped in and prevented the guards from assaulting him at the urging of Vidarr. Grigori warned that you all had powerful enemies who would stop at nothing to see your burgeoning kingdom destroyed.

With the threat of the bard, the trolls, and the drake taken care of, you all spent a week dealing with domestic issues. You all learned that Antau had failed in his mission to work out a compromise with the Temple of the Elk in Restov and that this influential temple of Erastil was spreading the word that you all were heretics. Richard proposed that the kingdom attempt to secure relations with other Brevic temples of Erastil, most notably in the city of Silverhall. Given the disappointing results of Antau’s efforts, it was decided to replace him with Ingrit as the kingdom’s chief diplomat. The council was also split over whether to build a mill or a garrison for troops. By a narrow vote, the mill won out and its construction got underway. In addition, you all sent out work crews to begin work on re-opening the old gold mine that you all had found in your explorations. It seemed as if things were finally calming down as you celebrated Alinza’s birthday on Kuthona 10. Richard continued to train as a holy warrior of Erastil and Vidarr and Ingrit grew closer in their relationship as she introduced him to the teachings of Milani, goddess of hope, devotion, and uprisings. Solden spent this time crafting useful magical gear for his comrades and furthering his arcane spells. Finally, Dorian worked with Zander to see if he could track down information on the party’s two recent bardic enemies. On the 15th, however, you all received grim news—there had been a murder in town.

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Session 11
Of Bards, Gnomes, Hermits, and Trolls

Session 11: Neth 15 through Kuthona 1, 4710 AR
Upon arrival in town, you were faced with more immediate concerns than what to do about Retawnair. You noticed that the party was receiving a particularly cold reception from the townsfolk, and you soon learned why. Apparently, a wandering bard hade arrived in town just after you left and had begun stirring up local discontent. You learned that this bard, Grigori by name, had been speaking of your “gross negligence” in abandoning Highpoint to “go gallivanting through the Narlmarches on fool’s errands” and leaving the town exposed to banditry, monster attacks, and worse. He brought up the town’s recent werewolf troubles and even suggested that you all were responsible for the attacks because their wilderness explorations drove the monster into more civilized areas. He also was claiming that you all have acquired much wealth during your adventures, but have used it only to enrich yourselves, not to aid the town or its citizens. He accused you of consorting with the very people who would threaten the town, such as Jerro, Egbert, and Kundal. Finally, he accused you of gross incompetence at best and malevolent evil at worst for your tendency to leave town with popular people and return without them.

After debating back and forth, you had Vidarr and Zander go and fetch Grigori to account for himself before the council. At that meeting he agreed to become a salaried official working to spread positive propaganda about Highpoint’s rulers to its people. Solden, Alinza, and Dorian were still suspicious of Grigori and his motives, so they spied on the bard and found that while he no longer plainly spoke out against the party, he filled his new messages with subtle innuendos. You all developed a strategy to develop a more positive image with the townspeople while at the same time casting aspersions on Grigori. First, you published your arrest warrants for Jerro and Egbert. This was not quite effective. Second, you planned to have Jhod preach about Erastil’s miraculous cure of Kundal and paint his cure as a story of redemption. Finally, you all had Grigori learn about a local Troll threat, which he would then use to sow fear and discord amongst the populace. You then would go and take care of the Troll threat, making Grigori look foolish and elevate yourselves in the eyes of your subjects.

It took you through the 17th to implement these plans and prepare for your next wilderness sojourn. In the meantime, Richard turned more towards formal affiliation with the church of Erastil, the rift between Solden and Vidarr grew, and Vidarr met a woman who perhaps would set him down a more positive path. The woman’s name was Ingirt, and she was a half-elven cleric of Milani, the God of liberty and freedom. She had worked with Zander back in Galt and decided to join him in getting Highpoint started.

The rumors put the Trolls in the Narlmarches south of the Murque River, so on the 18th you set out west along the Skunk River, planning to turn south in a systematic exploration of the region. You came across a group of Gnomes being attacked by a band of Slurks, managing to save the Gnomes, but one of their supply wagons was swept away by the river. The Gnome leader was Jubilost Narthropple, an explorer who was looking for an abandoned Dwarven outpost in the southern Narlmarches. He gave you information about some nearby areas along the Skunk River and warned of an eccentric hermit living just to the southwest. The next day he and his hirelings returned to Highpoint to re-equip while you went on you way.

The 19th brought rain as you found the hermit mentioned by Jubilost. He lived in the hollow of a large oak, claiming to be simple druid who wanted to get away from civilization. Over the course of your conversation, he admitted that he had once assaulted his brother, and from the description you gathered that his brother was none other than Bokken. As Richard pressured the old man about his assault, the hermit attacked. Vidarr was severely damaged as he was ambushed by the hermit’s animal companion, a large puma. During the assault, the old man also babbled that he was working for some mysterious woman to undermine the party and the foundation of Highpoint. After the fight, Dorian revealed that his Black Blade could detect agents of this mysterious woman, who he suspected was a nymph that had been plaguing his dreams. Solden and Richard raised concerns that Dorian might become possessed by his sword, but Dorian assured them otherwise. Amongst the hermit’s belongings, you found a map that indicated the tomb of the barbarian champion in the western Kamelands you all had recently cleansed was a possible portal to the First World. You also found a silver locket that contained a picture of a beautiful young woman that you all thought might belong to Bokken.

The next day was foggy and the forest increasingly turned into a swamp as you approached the Murque River. Vidarr guided you all through the fog, but you all emerged next to a small island. This mound was inhabited by a group of Lizardfolk who were hostile. Solden recalled tales of a mysterious Lizardfolk city that conducted trade with certain communities in the Stolen Lands. The Lizardfolk denied that they were part of this mythical community and insisted that you move on through their territory. After a few more attempts to open a dialogue, you all moved on.

Once you crossed the Murque River, you spent the next week exploring the southern reaches of the Narlmarches. The weather was overall cold, gloomy, and rainy. Finally, Vidarr caught the tracks of about ten trolls. He followed the tracks to some type of abandoned complex built into the side of a hill. There was a watchtower manned by one troll. Vidarr and Dorian took out the sentry and secured entry into the interior of the complex. This was clearly some type of military fortification built by humanoids, but no one in the party recognized the architectural style. Inside, your use of light sources alerted the rest of the Trolls and you all fought a series of running battles against the creatures and their three Trollhound allies. At the rear of the complex you all found that the constructed tunnels gave way to more natural tunnels. Proceeding through these new tunnels, you came to the leader and his retinue—2 Trolls, a Rock Troll, and an Ettin. The leader, who wielded a massive darkwood morningstar, identified himself as Hargulka and boasted that he had been sent to destroy your kingdom by a “faerie woman.” A fierce battle ensued, with Richard and Alinza very narrowly avoiding death, but in the end you all prevailed. Searching the lair you found a map of targets that the Trolls were supposed to raid, and you noted that any areas inhabited by fey were avoided. There were also some valuables as well as resources that would help you build up Highpoint. Bad weather rolled in with severe snowstorms, forcing you all to spend the next four days recuperating and training. It would be the 2nd of Kuthona before you all could begin your return trip back to Highpoint.

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Session 10
Creepy sycophants, lupine redemption, and nasty undead with a sword

Session 10: Lamashtan 21 through Neth 15, 4710 AR
Richard has some news from the kingdom while the rest of you had been away. He had received two marriage proposals—one from House Surtova and one from House Orlovsky. House Surtova held the current kingship and was decidedly more Issian. House Orlovsky so far has refused to acknowledge Noleski Surtova as king, holding out for the possible return of a Rogarvian claimant. Rumors are swirling in Brevoy that Orlovsky, Garess, and Medyved are contemplating an alliance and declaring an open rebellion. If this were to occur, the Swordlords of Restov would surely throw their support behind the anti-Surtova faction. Neither of the young ladies offered to Richard has a sterling reputation—Sara Orlovsky is a prim and proper noblewoman who is known to be cheap with a fear of physical contact with others lest she contract a horrid disease, while Nyssa Surtova is an infamous gossip and wit as well as a notorious alcoholic. Richard and the rest of the party were not impressed with either choice. The rest of the ruling council was split, with Kesten advocating most strongly for marriage ties to Orlovsky, while Antau suggested that your new kingdom attach its fortune to the Surtova’s. In the end, you all agreed to send Antau to both parties asking for a formal meeting with these women, but the general feeling finally was to ally yourselves with Orlovsky. To make matters more interesting, the long-rumored marriage between Richard’s cousin Elanna (daughter of the Lebeda matriarch) and King Noleski has been announced, with nuptials to be held next summer.

In addition, Richard had received a delegation from the Temple of the Sacred Elk in Restov; the priesthood declared the new community heretics as long as you all allowed Jhod to establish his own temple to Erastil in Highpoint. Antau was to make a stop in Restov on his way to the Orlovsky and Surtova houses and see if he could smooth over this religious rift as well.

Meanwhile, Vidarr picked up a potential follower. Upon his return from your latest foray he was visited by a young man named Retawnair Lezart, who claimed to be a distant relation to one of Vidarr’s childhood friends from his home village. Retawnair had been raised as a bastard in Pitax, and when he found out the origins of his father, he sought out Tatzelford only to find the village destroyed. He did hear of the sole survivor, Vidarr, and tracked him down, wishing to enter Vidarr’s service as a squire in remembrance of his father. He raised the hackles of many in the party, however, by being too sycophantic and fawning. Dorian in particular took an immediate dislike to the young man. You all had Zander look into Retawnair’s story, and it checked out as far he could tell.

On the morning of the 22nd, Solden was approached by Tristan Miegerson, a local dairy farmer, who claimed that his whole herd of cows had been slaughtered by some type of mysterious beast on the previous night. Bidding the farmer to stay safely in town, Solden rounded up the rest of the party and went to investigate. At the farm, amidst the slaughter of Miegerson’s herd inside of a barn, Vidarr found the tracks of what appeared to be a worg or wolf, Alinza also determined that the cows had not only been killed, but partially eaten. The tracks led to a grove of trees where they disappeared, but Vidarr found a set of human footprints that led back to town.

Convinced that you all had a werewolf on the prowl, you all sought out the advice of Jhod, but he was of no help as he was shaken by the parallels that had led to his own exile. Vidarr left to organize patrols while Richard went to the Timely Traveler inn to see if there were rumors of any strangers in town. Sure enough, the inn’s owner Tessa Oldwyne revealed that a strange, quiet Kellid tribesman has come to town recently, and that he’d been spending much of his time drinking or sleeping in his room at the inn and not coming down until late in the day. Even as they spoke, Tessa pointed out the man who as he entered the common area. Richard went over and struck up a conversation. The man’s name was Kundal and he had arrived in the region recently looking for work as a sellsword. He did indicate that for the past few months he had been plagued by dreams of blood and fury and has been drinking himself into oblivion each night to stop the dreams.

Convinced that Kundal was the werewolf, Richard summoned Alinza to distract him with her feminine wiles while he consulted with Vidarr, Solden, and Dorian on what to do. Vidarr suggested that you all take the barbarian to Jhod for a cure, but upon visiting Jhod you all found that he was not nearly powerful enough to remove such a curse. The other alternative according to Vidarr was to feed Kundal a brew containing the poisonous plant wolfsbane. Vidarr spent a few hours in the countryside and tracked down some of this plant while the others brought barbarian to Jhod. You all told Kundal the truth of his condition and he agreed to undergo the cure. The poison almost killed him, but also cured him. He then pledged his axe to Richard as a personal bodyguard and was also quite smitten with Alinza.

As the month turned to Neth, you all spent your kingdom’s growing resources on securing more territory up the Thorn River, where the rudiments of a bridge were already in place. There were no major disturbances, and with the kingdom seemingly well in hand, you all set out on the 8th to continue your exploration of the southern Greenbelt with Retawnair in tow.

The 9th found you at the far eastern end of your territory between the Shrike and Gudrin Rivers. There you found an isolated barrow mound that was not easily distinguished from the other grassy knolls dotting the landscape; where the earth near the mound subsided, a crack had opened in the side of the barrow. You all dismounted and decided to investigate. After going back 10 feet into a man-made tunnel, you came out an octagonal chamber whose walls were decorated with crude mosaics of simple village life: hunting, fishing, and farming. A thick carpet of guano crawling with insects covered the floor and the sharp tang of ammonia hung in the air. A cobweb-filled tunnel to the east led deeper underground. Vidarr was alerted to the fact that there were probably a couple of bat swarms lurking in this chamber and suggested waiting until night when they cleared out before exploring further.

Heeding his advice, you all resumed your exploration once the swarms had emerged to hunt. The eastern tunnel debouched into a room, one of four exits from another circular chamber, each at one of the four the cardinal directions. Four large monstrous faces, carved from stone, leered and grimace from each of the walls between the tunnel entrances. A skeleton sprawled facedown in the middle of the room. As Richard and Alinza moved into the room to scout, the four faces seemed to inhale deeply, then breathed out black tendrils of mist that sap the strength of the two scouts. Alinza was only slightly fatigued, but Richard was thoroughly exhausted. At the same time, you all heard movement coming from each of the tunnels, and shortly a skeletal army emerged. Six skeletons clad in chain mail with wooden shields and long swords emerged from each of the northern and southern tunnels, while their leader appeared from the eastern tunnel. The leader wore chain mail and wooden shield but wielded a finely-crafted bastard sword. Green energy crackled from the eye sockets of the leader as well as his sword. After a fierce fight, you all emerged victorious, but not before Dorian was brought to the brink of death by the foul skeletal warrior. In addition, the creature seemed to drain some of Dorian’s life essence with a strike from the sword, leaving him weakened. Also during the battle, Retawnair displayed some talent as a bard, with his martial beat infusing Alinza, Solden, and Richard with its power. Dorian and Vidarr were still suspicious, however, and refused to be influenced by the music. Searching the complex once the enemies were defeated, you all found only a magical ring that would sustain a person without food or water.

Solden’s knowledge of history supplied the following legend to possibly account for the barrow and its place here in the western Kamelands. There was an ancient barbarian warlord, his name long lost to history, who was interred in a crypt somewhere in the Stolen Lands. Although the warlord was laid to rest in an impressive tomb along with his loyal guardsmen, the greedy brother who succeeded him claimed his fallen kin’s magic weapon as his own, neglecting to bury the warlord with his trusty weapon. Angered at this blasphemy and the desecration of its remains, the warlord’s spirit arose as an undead menace not long after. He sought out the treacherous brother, killed him, and then returned to his cairn with the reclaimed weapon. Supposedly the sword bears a terrible curse for anyone who should ever wrest it from the barbarian warlord’s eternal grasp.

Over the next few days you all continued your exploration, encountering a band of kobolds on the 10th. This fight was not as easy as it should have been as the kobolds’ used magic and alchemical weapons to harass the party. You captured one of these creatures, and under interrogation it revealed that fighting between the Tiger Lord Barbarians and the new Brevic colony at Drelev Keep in the Hooktongue Slough was driving many local creatures to flee that area.

Increasingly, the party became convinced that something was off about Retawnair. Alinza detected a moderate evil coming from the young bard while he slept and on the 11th you all confronted him. Before you could get any satisfactory answers, however, Dorian attacked him. The blow that the Magus delivered with his sword should have killed most beings, but the bard somehow survived, then using magic became invisible and escaped. A determined party tracked him north to Nettle’s Crossing on the Shrike River, where you lost the trail. Richard and Vidarr were appalled at Dorian’s rash action, while Solden and Dorian insisted that the mere fact that he was evil justified an attack.

The bickering party headed back to Highpoint, still undecided what to do. As you all passed the barrow mound on the 13th, a horde of Mites burst forth but you all quickly dispatched them. Early on the afternoon of the 15th, the weary and beset party finally arrived back in Highpoint.

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Session 9
Worgs, Carnivorous Plants, Drunken Giants, and Failed Diplomacy

Session 9: Rova 1 through Lamashtan 20, 4710 AR
The month of Rova was busy for the party. The leadership of Restov provided you all with 200,000 Gp worth of start-up funds. This first month of the new kingdom saw you all build a two block complex for the administration of Highpoint’s government and administration as well a housing complex on the east central border of the community. You all also had to decide on leadership roles for the kingdom. Richard was named King, Solden took on the role of Magister, Vidarr agreed to become Marshal, Alinza chose Warden, and Dorian decided to become the Royal Enforcer. Oleg then approached you all with a proposal to ultimately annex his trading post as part of your kingdom. In return, he offered his services as Treasurer and Sevetlana agreed to join the court as the kingdom’s Councilor. There was heated debate over the establishment of a religion in town. Vidarr didn’t care, Richard advocated for Erastil, Alinza and Dorian favored Pharasma but were open to any of the local religions, while Solden wanted an open faith society. You all discussed several options and in the end acknowledged that you needed one official kingdom religion to promote stability and that the religion that would draw the most settlers to a new frontier kingdom would be Erastil. Solden did, however, win out on his point that other religions were to be allowed to establish temples in the kingdom as well. The candidates for the High Priest position came down to Jhod and Trudarr Belthame, an ambitious young priest sent from the Temple of the Sacred Stag in Restov. Vidarr and Dorian were immediately put off by Trudarr’s brash personality, but it was also clear that Jhod was hiding something. Upon questioning, you all learned that Jhod had been excommunicated from his temple in Galt because he disobeyed orders and killed an innocent man. There had been a series of killings that looked to be the work of wolf-like creatures in his home town and Jhod was convinced that a local malcontent was a werewolf. His elders were not convinced and ordered Jhod to wait until they had more proof, but the headstrong cleric disobeyed them, rounded up a mob and murdered the man. The next day, local hunters returned with the bodies of a pack of worgs that had been responsible for the killings. Jhod was sent into exile and had since been wandering the River Kingdoms seeking for a place to start a new temple as atonement for his pride. He claimed that Erastil’s visions had driven him to the Stolen Lands and he was convinced that your new kingdom was the answer to his dilemma. The party reluctantly sided with Jhod and Trudarr returned to Restov very unhappy. In the eyes of the established Erastil clergy, you all have sided with a heretic. The final three slots of the council were filled by Kesten Garess as general, Antau as Grand Diplomat (on a provisional basis), and a mercenary from Galt named Zander (on a provisional basis). By the end of the Highpoint had swelled to 750 people and the council provided funds to begin construction of an inn and expand your territory to the river crossing where the Thorn River flowed into the Shrike. You all also began working on installing farms and roads in the immediate vicinity of Highpoint while keeping taxes at reasonable levels.

By Lamashtan 8, you all were convinced that things were running smoothly enough that you could continue your exploration of the southern Greenbelt. Richard agreed to stay behind just in case. Your initial foray was to secure the lands around the Tuskwater and Candlemere. You all immediately came across a huge Worg, a notorious predator known as Howl-of-the-North, leading a pack of three dire wolves. The fight was fierce in the driving rain. Dorian, Alinza, and George were seriously wounded, but you all won.

On the 9th you all encountered the legendary giant snapping turtle known as Old Crackjaw. This beast was something of a legend to fishermen and boaters of the Tuskwater—a seemingly indestructible reptile that had supposedly attacked and killed dozens of fisherman and even caused no less than five boats to sink or flounder. You dispatched the beast with little effort.

Lamashtan 10 saw you all traversing the southern edge of the Tuskwater where you found an expansive area of geothermal activity that created a mud mire. In the middle of this mire you all encountered a horrible plant that was 20 feet tall with a thick trunk capped by a crown of wide leaves, whipping vines, mushrooms, and a ravenous purple maw. Fortunately for you all, you had the high ground and plenty of ranged fire attacks that allowed you to take it out before you felt its vicious attacks. Vidarr discovered some rare and valuable mushrooms known as Black Rattlecaps.

The 11th greeted you all with a dense fog as you came to the Shrike River and the southeastern shore of Candlemere. At about midday, booming from the fog was a voice singing in guttural giant about love lost and good whiskey. Vidarr identified this creature as a Hill Giant. The party had heard tales of a brutish hill giant wandering the southern Kamelands. Vidarr parlayed with the creature, who called himself Munguk. This miserable wretch had been in the company of some trolls, who drive him out. He had been wandering since then and was frustrated by not being able to find a female and the fact that he was running out of wolfberry whiskey. Vidarr convinced Munguk to head west towards Pitax where there fine Hill Giant women and plenty of whiskey.

Continuing your journey on the 12th, you all came to the shores of Candlemere. Leaves from the Narlmarches collect year round within the clear depths of this lake. In spring and summer, the lake reflects the colors trapped below in vibrant greens and rainbow bursts of flowering hues. By autumn, fiery reds, oranges, and yellows blaze through the water. In winter, the oft-frozen surface hides depthless blacks that make the lake appear as unfathomable as the night sky. Legends say that drinking from the Candlemere can, depending on the season, grant long life, cut a life short, intoxicate, or invigorate. In the middle of the lake lies a hilly island covered in mysterious willows, surrounding the ruins of an ancient, crumbling tower. This lake is notorious in the Stolen Lands for being haunted. Stories from fishermen, explorers, bandits, and tradesmen alike support these legends with eerie tales of strange lights dancing upon the waters, blood-curdling cries from what could be lost souls, and mysterious sightings of shapes rippling in the lake’s dark waters. You all did not notice anything out the ordinary in your initial survey of the area, but it is almost certain that you would need to clear the island should you wish to claim this territory eventually.

The 13th brought you back around to the western shores of the Tuskwater and to a dilapidated mud-brick hut squatting atop a small hummock in the middle of a fetid marsh, a thin tendril of bluish smoke trickling through a gaping hole in its moss-covered roof. A wooden fence surrounding the perimeter of the mound was festooned with crude fetishes crafted out of sticks, feathers, and animal bones. A lone crow cawed noisily from the top of a nearby cypress tree and a scarecrow was propped up midway between the gate and the door to the hut. The region around the hut was an 80 foot diameter area of solid ground, thick with bog grass and dotted with small cattail-clogged pools. This solid region was surrounded by a waist-high wooden fence, in which a single gate hung askew. A fist-sized rusted iron bell extended from a hairy length of rope tied to a crooked post next to the gate. Local rumor speaks of a hag called the Swamp Witch who lives along this section the Tuskwater. She supposedly consorts with demons and steals children, boiling them in her magic cauldron according to some, while others hold that the Swamp Witch is friendly enough if you call out to her before you enter her yard, with those foolish enough to trespass end up working for her as scarecrows or worse! While Alinza and Vidarr stayed back in the swamp, Solden and Dorian rang the bell and called out. An aged human woman with greenish skin, pointed ears, and tangled filthy hair bearing a staff appeared at the door of the hut and demanded to know why you were trespassing. Dorian’s sword immediately identified her as fey-touched and potentially dangerous. Solden attempted to open a friendly dialogue, but the old woman snapped and accused the two elves of work for some mysterious woman. She claimed that the woman had sent the elves as assassins. When Solden failed to calm her down, she retreated inside the hut and her scarecrow lurched to life and attacked Dorian. The supernatural power of the scarecrow had Dorian cowering in fear, but Vidarr’s arrows and Solden’s magic defeated the unnatural construct. Freed from his magical enchantment, a furious Dorian charged the old woman’s hut, intent on killing her. He was aided by Alinza, who called upon the power of Pharasma to show the old crone her future doom. In the melee, the hut caught of fire from a magical wand of flames use by the witch, but you all were able to salvage some loot from the witch’s body and her hut, including a scroll with a powerful spell that allowed wizards of sorcerers to find obscure legends and lore about the distant past.

Bedraggled and weary, you all returned to Highpoint and spent the next week recovering, training, and administering the city. Solden began work on some magical items for Dorian, while townsfolk rewarded you for your efforts in eliminating local menaces. Arven Silverscales, head of the local fishermen’s guild, presented Vidarr with a magical ring that slowed down a person’s fall as a reward for killing Old Crackjaw. Furthermore, the local farmers presented you all with 1200 gold pieces for ridding the region of Howl-of-the-North’s depredations. As you head towards the end of the month, the city is thriving and headed towards a population of 1,000.

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