The Keep on Yeoldelands – Session 13

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Expeditions 17 and 18a

9 Sep 2021

  • Alfredward (Dwarf 1)
  • Amos (Cleric 1)
  • Dalgarn (Dwarf 1)
  • Rarder Brete (Fighter 3)
  • Rozza (Magic User 1)

Looking to bring back just enough gold to allow Amos to apply for promotion within the Church of the Sacred Locks (i.e. level up and access healing spells), the party set off upriver for a short excursion to Redwood Castle. It became an even shorter excursion when they came across another, smaller boat pulled up onto the bank with a few crew hailing them. A wary approach paid off when Dalgarn recognised some of the Chaotic hand signs being subtly made in the direction of the trees, and an exchanged flurry of arrows saw Artzua winded and two bandits dead. The rest fled into the trees, and the party returned to town.

The late bandit leader had evidently done well for himself for he carried several very valuable gems and, between them and selling the recovered, perfectly river-worthy boat, the party found themselves considerably wealthier.

With Amos having risen up a rank in the church, the group loaded up two mules and set off into Yeoldelands in search of the tower they’d heard about from the statue. Wowed by the party’s tales, the Baron agreed to loan them the helmet they’d previously sold to him and one of his soldiers to act as a guard for the provisions. Upon putting on the helmet, the party found that it allowed the wearer to focus on and hear another’s thoughts.

The eponymous Keep on the Bordlerands in the south east. Redwood (town) is at the mouth of the river. Redwood Castle is where the two smaller rivers converge. The tower in the woods is the location the party came across. Each hex is about 6 hours’ travel. See the house rules for travel mechanics.

Weighed down with gear despite the mules, adventurers followed the river north for two days before braving the woods. Their journey was uninterrupted but for a thin plume of smoke visible from somewhere amongst the trees. Suspecting bandit activity, the party avoided it. It started raining heavily, so the party headed into the woodland where the foliage gave a little more shelter.

They traipsed around the woods for hours, one gnarled tree looking very much the same next. Then Alfredward scraped some moss off some lumps which littered the area, and the party eyed each other warily when they turned out to be remarkably lifelike stone feet and shins. A crack from behind a tree and then a large draconic head peered at them through the branches. They instant turned their backs and dashed away. Whatever it was did not appear to give chase, but they gave the area a wide berth.

As the gloom beneath the trees turned darker with the sinking sun, the dwarves spotted the remnants of an ancient road, mostly obscured and broken up by great, twisting trees. As the party followed it north east, hoping that it would lead to this elven tower, they found a great sinkhole in the way with long-undisturbed piles of stone at the bottom and some circling birds just visible through the foliage above. They camped overnight and roped their way down the sinkhole in the morning. There they found a couple of scrolls beneath the rubble and a little cave entrance in the wall. Venturing in a little way, they noticed the heat signatures of some snakes – they backed out and continued following the road.

Eventually the road did indeed lead to a tower in a clearing, its crisp white walls stark against overgrowth. The adventurers circled around it and pondered how to get through the door. Eventually Rozza stepped forward and before he could do anything the door folded in on itself to reveal the pitch dark inside.

As the party debated their next step, a cry came up from the Baron’s guard at the treeline – he stumbled forward, deathly white, and tipped over onto his face. In the rays of sunlight coming down through the trees, a shadowy figure could be just about be made out, and it launched itself at Hats. He flung himself aside and everyone tried to hack at their assailant, but their blows merely passed through the figure. Only when Amos drew and sliced with the magical sword Conciencia did the attacker reel back in pain and surprise. Rarder and Dalgarn raised their enchanted shields which seemed to allow them to jostle it and, when struck again, its form dispersed into the air.

The Baron’s guard was dead and the party was shaken. What other manner of creature might they find, and were they equipped to deal with it? And what were they going to do with their mules now?

GM Notes

  • A profitable random encounter indeed! After a few sessions of the players’ luck deserting them, it was nice to have things fall in their favour this time. The bandits’ morale broke after the first one dropped and the party kept shooting. The loot roll for the two corpses came to a few silver pieces and two gems which, combined with selling the abandoned boat at half its value, netted the party nearly 3000gp! Comfortably their most efficiently enriching expedition.
  • We’ve veered from the strictly open table policy for this one, finishing a session outside away from a safe home base with the hope of picking up where we left off with the same group of players. They preferred not to make the three-day trek back to Redwood, and we would have run out of time if another encounter showed up. This has been a relatively stable group for a few weeks now, and it does bring things to a more mainstream gameplay structure, but it I remain mindful that I turned to this open table format after scheduling issues with Evils of Illmire. Online gameplay has been a life saver these past 18 months, but as folks start edging back towards old lifestyles it’s usually harder I’m inclined to keep these as rare one-offs, but we’ll see how this shift to continuity play pans out.

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