Apr 24, 2016

6th Day of Planting, CY 579

Before returning to the moathouse the next day, the party went back to the Temple of St. Cuthbert to check on the human prisoners they had left there to recover. The humans explained that they were merchants from Verbobonc who had hired a ranger named Gareth to escort them south. They were attacked on the road and all three were taken prisoner. The merchants were questioned at length about Gareth, and when they didn't have any useful information to provide, they were turned over to the ogre, who seemed to enjoy torturing them.

Returning to the moathouse later that morning, with Turuko and Kobort, the part was attacked by uniformed men with crossbows waiting behind the moathouse walls, shooting through the arrow slits. Luckily, they were terrible shots, and the party was able to rush inside and finish them off. Each of the men were wearing black cloaks with a "Yellow Eye of Fire" on it. Athan cut out the symbol to try to identify it later.

Inside the moathouse, the group descended to the lower level and began to explore the place. It was clear that this place was being used by more than just bandits and the men they just encountered wanted their presence to remain secret. In a large room, the party was attacked by several well organized bugbears. The party barely survived the fight, but the hired help, Turuko and Kobort were not so lucky (which is probably not a bad thing, since they were going to turn on the party anyway). During the fight, nine gnolls came to check out the noise. They did not join the battle, preferring instead to watch the party take out the bugbears. Athan was able to speak with the gnolls and determine that they did not like the bugbears and considered the party as having done them a favor. He was then able to bribe the gnolls by promising to pay them 20 gold now, and 100 more when they return, if the gnolls would look the other way when the party comes back (because of course they needed to return to Hommlet and rest, because they are low level characters and that's what they do after every fight). The party also convinced the gnolls to point out the location of their master, and to lie to their master, saying that Turuko and Kobort killed the bugbears and that the gnolls, in turn, killed Turuko and Kobort. The gnolls were more than happy to accept the party's money and to earn favor from their master by taking credit for killing the intruders. It was a good day for the gnolls.

The party then returned to Hommlet to rest.

The peaceful village of Hommlet

3rd Day of Planting, CY 579

The moathouse
After resting for a couple of nights in Hommlet, the party returned to the moathouse, better prepared. Pontus would take on the rats while Athan kept his distance with a bow. Sarril and Delvin backed up Pontus while being prepared to heal if necessary. The plan worked, and the group was able to move room by room and clear out the inhabitants, which included a giant lizard (who was befriended by Delvin), a snake and a giant tick (really, a giant tick?). They saved the barred door for last. It took a little time for Pontus to beat down the door, which gave the bandits inside plenty of time to prepare an ambush. As the party rushed in, they found the bandits carefully positioned behind cover, shooting with their crossbows. At the far end of the room was a large sword-bearing man who was obviously the leader. Delvin immediately cast a spell to entangle the leader in roots, keeping him from rushing forward while Pontus closed into him for the attack. With Pontus distracted, Athan cast a sleep spell, which took out most of the remaining bandits despite their cover. After that, the fight was a piece of cake.

After looting the bandits, and discovering a nice chest full of silver, the party decided this was a good place to rest for the evening and recover. They had a door that could be barred, and bedrolls already laid out from the bandits, they just had to dump the bodies in the moat first. The party also realized why the door was barred and there were no footprints or other signs going in or out. Part of the wall of this room was collapsed, opening it to the outside, which must have been how the bandits were coming and going. So of course they didn't have to deal with the rats and other things.

Lubash, the Ogre
While on watch, Athan discovered a secret door that led down a flight of steps to narrow hallway. At either end of the small hallway was a door. Athan opened one of the doors to discover an ogre who rushed toward him. Athan quickly slammed the door closed, realizing the ogre was too large to fit through, then he ran back up the stairs. When the rest of the party was awake, Athan described the ogre he saw, and the party came up with a plan of attack. Given that the ogre could not fit through the door, the party would toss as much flaming oil into the room as possible, light it on fire and shut the door. You know what they say about the best laid plans. . . it is possible it would have worked better if any of party members could actually aim well. So while the room was now full of oil and broken glass, the ogre didn't have any on him, and was now charging the hapless party. But then a miracle happened. The ogre inexplicably turned his back on the party and ran to the corner of the room, swinging wildly at the air. The confused party quickly took advantage of the situation to take another shot at tossing the oil, this time landing several hits. The party then lit the oil, engulfing the entire room, including the ogre, in flames, and shut the door, ran upstairs and waited.

Some time later, the group went back downstairs to check on the aftermath. There was a dead, burnt ogre, along with the ashes of debris from the room. Furs and other valuable items were completely destroyed, though Athan was able to find an Elven Cloak that managed to survive, buried and protected under a mountain of debris. There was also a chest in the opposite corner that managed to avoid most of the damage. While the chest was mostly junk (ogres have a strange sense of what is valuable), there were some coins and a few other items of interest. While searching the room, the party heard muffled voices coming from behind a heavy, barred door. The bar was enormous, and required two party members to lift it off. Behind the door were a gnome and two human prisoners. The humans were severely injured and unable to effectively communicate. The gnome introduced himself and explained that he is a merchant from the Kron Hills who is the last remaining of his party. The ogre, Lubash, was torturing him daily for information about a gnome named Lysander - as if all gnomes automatically know each other. The party escorted the prisoners back to Hommlet and turned them over to Canon Terjon at the Church of St. Cuthbert for healing and care. The gnome gave the party a ring to signify friendship, telling them that anyone from his clan should recognize the ring and treat them favorably.

Recognizing they might be in over their heads, the party spoke to Turuko and Kobort, who accepted an offer of 1/6th of any treasure found for joining them in returning to the moathouse the next day. That night, Athan snuck out of the room and poked around the Inn. He discovered a secret stash of weapons in the basement - enough to arm the entire town, and tunnel from the weapon room that led to a secret door inside the Village Hall. Clearly this quiet village is prepared for the worst.

1st Day of Planting, CY 579

The next morning, the party sat down for nice breakfast prepared by Goodwife Gundergroot. Many other adventurers appeared to be staying in the Inn, as the Village of Hommlet is along a busy route for those travelling to the western parts of the Flanaess and the City of Greyhawk, and must pass between the Lortmils and the Yatil Mountains. At some point in the day, the party met Spugnoir, the mage, Turuko the monk (not that the party knew what a monk was) and his large and silent companion, Kobort, an untrustworthy gambler named Furnok, a fighter named Zert, and several others. Each of these characters had their own reasons for being in Hommlet, but all seemed interested in adventure and wealth if the party was up for joining forces.
Inn of the Welcome Wench

While Sarril went to talk to Canon Terjon at the church, Athan and Pontus stayed behind to talk to the other guests at the Inn. They were able to gather that there was a moathouse a few miles outside of the village that used to be an outpost for the Temple of Elemental Evil before it was brought down after the Battle of Emridy Meadow. The villagers here razed the moathouse, but it appears some bandits have moved into it recently - likely having spread from the thieving slum that calls itself the Town of Nulb in the northeast. Some of the guests wanted to clear out the moathouse and be praised as heroes. Others saw opportunity to see what the bandits were up to, and possibly take part in it if it proved interesting enough. And yet others saw opportunity to kill bad guys and loot them. Athan and Pontus were not interested in joining forces with any of these other men, but Athan did manage to pick most of their pockets, before being caught by the fighter named Zert. Zert would surely have beaten Athan to a pulp, if not killed him outright, if it weren't for Pontus stepping in. The site of the huge barbarian was enough to calm Zert down and make him think twice about initiating any aggressive action.

When Sarril returned, the party decided to go to the trader's shop to buy equipment before going to see Jaroo. The spoke to Rannos Davl and were able to buy most of the basic armor, weapons and gear they might need. Outside of the shop, Athan was approached by Spugnoir, who expressed that he would like to join the party if they were going to check out the moathouse. Athan thanked him for his interest while picking his pocket and relieving him of his spellbook, but told him they were not interested. Spugnoir's travelling book was very light on useful spells, but it was better than the nothing they had before. The party then went back to the grove to see if Jaroo had returned.

They found him there, cleaning up the mess the group had made the previous day. Sarril took the lead in introducing themselves and apologizing on behalf of the party, hoping the recognition of Otto and Alyndra would earn them some credit. Pontus, who had caused the most damage, insisted he would repair the root cellar and make everything right again. Jaroo, being a very calm and even tempered man, simply told Pontus that it is not he who needs the apology, but his companion, Grendel. The large black bear came forward at Jaroo's request, growling at Pontus as he came closer. A nervous
Jaroo's Grove
 Pontus got on his knees before the bear and put forth his best apology. Grendel put his face right up to Pontus' head and let out a deafening roar before turning and walking away. "It may take him some time to forgive you," Jaroo said, "but he'll come around eventually." Athan then handed Jaroo some gems and money, saying "This is what I took from your cellar. It's not all there, because we bought some equipment, but thank you very much as we really needed it." Jaroo responded with "I expect you will pay back the rest" and left it at that.

Now that they were, somewhat, on good terms with Jaroo, they discussed the reason they came here. They told Jaroo about the black shards and the black curse it was spreading in the forests. Jaroo relayed that he heard a similar story from his circle in the Gnarley Forest, and while they did not know what was causing it, they were certain it was evil in nature and such evil was likely affiliated with the Temple of Elemental Evil. Jaroo explained that while everyone else thinks the temple is destroyed, it is actually still intact. The clerics and wizards who first dealt with it could not completely destroy it, so they sealed it up with powerful wards in the hopes of containing the evil. But evil cannot be contained for long, and the strange and wicked things that continue to plague the surrounding lands most certainly are still drawn to the place, even if they cannot enter it. Jaroo offered to help the party in their investigation if they would do something in return, which he would consider to be payment for the damage they caused. He asked them to clear out the bandits in the nearby moathouse, and determine if they were simply brigands sheltering in an abandoned building, or if they were up to something more sinister. To help them on their journey, he introduced them to his apprentice, Delvin, a young initiate in the Old Faith who would help them on their mission. Delvin knew the way to the moathouse and could safely lead them there.

And so, off they went. Athan, Sarril, Pontus and Delvin, party of four, on their first real adventure. All except Pontus rode on horseback. Pontus, who could run nearly as fast, did not understand why people would ride their food. As they approached the moathouse, three giant frogs leapt from moat and the swampy area around it. One of the horses was spooked and ran away. The heroes bravely fought the frogs, though Pontus decided the best way to accomplish that was from the inside of its belly. The barbarian ways are mysterious. After the frog encounter, the party approached the moathouse, where the remaining horse's leg punched through the rotten drawbridge, getting the horse stuck with a broken leg. Pontus declared the party can eat it for dinner. The party was able to enter the courtyard unmolested, but wound up fighting a giant spider inside a broken tower, which was a very close call for Athan. Making their way across the courtyard, they party entered the broken double doors into the ruins of the moathouse. The entire upper levels were collapsed, as were many of the rooms on the first level. Rubble was everywhere. While searching around, the party found one door that appeared to be barred from the inside, and surmised that the bandits might be held up in there. As they continued to snoop around, they encountered rats - 18 of them as best they could count. Once the first one was encountered, they just appeared to be coming out of all of the walls and every crack and crevice that could be found. Athan quickly succumbed to multiple bite wounds, and dropped to the floor, about to be consumed. Pontus immediately sheathed his sword, picked up the dying Athan, and he and Sarril and Delvin ran from the moathouse. Once outside, Pontus was able to apply first-aid while Sarril performed a heal. While Athan was conscious again, the party decided they needed to return to Hommlet to rest and heal before trying again - preferably with a better plan next time.

Apr 10, 2016

28th Day of Coldeven, CY 579

Athan, Pontus and Sarril find themselves together, naked, on the side of the road on the way to Hommlet, having been the victims of some foul magic. The newly formed party soon realized they share a common goal, and it must be fate or the gods that have brought them together. The newly formed party agreed to stay together at least long enough to get to Hommlet.

In a field not far outside the village, the group found the bodies of what looked like adventurers, freshly geared up, carrying a map to a dungeon called White Plume Mountain where adventure, danger and treasure must surely have waited for them. Someone else had other plans, however, as their bodies were peppered with arrows. Most of the valuable items were stripped from them, but the group was able to take their clothes and some basic weapons. Athan's clothes were a little baggy, while Pontus was clearly squeezing into things three sizes too small, but they outfitted themselves as best they could and moved on to Hommlet where they looked out of place, to be sure, but at least not naked.

Knowing they were on a mission, even if they were no longer carrying the mysterious black shards, Pontus and Sarril insisted that Pontus hold off his desire to drink for a few minutes while they look for the druid, Jaroo. Besides, no one had any money. 

They were able to find Jaroo's grove, but it was empty. Athan felt it would be a good idea to enter the druid's hut and make sure he truly wasn't home. While looking around in the hut, they found a mysterious decanter that seemed to remain full of water no matter how much was poured out. Pontus, the barbarian, became enraged at the sight of it and immediately smashed it into pieces, saving the party from whatever terrible fate would have befallen them if they had remained exposed to that accursed thing. Just to be sure they were safe, Pontus searched the entire hut for anything radiating a similar foul aura, but did not find anything. He told his party members they were now safe and did not need to thank him. Athan continued his search nonetheless, pocketing a few potions and other items for safe keeping. Sarril was quite upset about this intrusion into Jaroo's private residence and destruction of his property, but his objections were ignored by the other two.

It was clear that Jaroo was not home, though the part searched around the outside of the hut to be sure. They noticed a black bear in the woods at the edge of the grove, watching them, but no Jaroo. Pontus found an entrance to a root cellar and decided to check it out. Once again sensing the foul presence of magic in the dirt floor, he began to dig until he uncovered a chest. Opening the chest set off a magical fire trap, which destroyed the root cellar and burned Pontus pretty good - with only his barbarian toughness saving him. Inside the chest were several gems, which Athan insisted Jaroo must have wanted them to have as he came into the root cellar and placed them in his pockets.

Returning outside, Pontus noticed the bear again. Not knowing much about druids, he did remember some things his father told him about them being nature worshipers and possessing something similar to divine magic. Pontus decided the bear itself might be a shapeshifted Jaroo. He followed the bear out into a clearing shouting to it "Jaroo!, Jaroo!" When the bear did not respond, he wisely picked up a large rock and hurled it right at the bear, doing a decent amount of damage in the process. "That will get Jaroo's attention" smiled Pontus. The angry bear turned and charged him. Lucky for Pontus, his unarmored AC made him nearly untouchable. He fended off the bear with his recently acquired sword, backing up in the process saying "Jaroo, I don't want to hurt you." The bear got a few swipes in and Pontus realized his life would soon end if he didn't defend himself properly, so he began to slice at the bear with the sword. Just as the bear was near death, Sarril ran in to intervene. Yelling at Pontus to stop, he cast a healing spell and, risking his own life, walked up to the bear and placed it on him. This calmed the bear down long enough for Pontus to clear the area. The bear roared, then walked away.

And thus the newly formed party, on their very first day together, managed to make a mess of the Grove of Jaroo, the druid whose help they would be seeking soon. Much regret began to sink in as they realized this - with the possible exception of Athan, who thought it was really good of Jaroo to give them all of this stuff to help them on their mission.

After the grove, the party had a meal at the Inn of the Welcome Wench and met the proprietor, Ostler Gundergroot. After a great meal, they explored the rest of the village and discovered a few more people and places. 
  • Jack, the Village Elder, who lives with his two sons; 
  • Rannos and Gremag who run the trading post;
  • Rufus (Fighter) and Burne (Mage), local nobles who are building a castle and living in a tower. They have some brigands they have captured over the years and put to work. Some of them have been turned into a militia known as "Burne's Badgers."
  • Calmert and Canon Terjon within the Church of St. Cuthbert. Canon Terjon is new, having been sent from Veluna to replace Canoness Y'Dey, who disappeared mysteriously a couple of months ago.
The party used their newly acquired wealth to purchase a room at the Inn for the night. Thus ended the first group session of this Oldschool Greyhawk Campaign.