Not much to report about today, so I’ll take the chance to post the log of last week’s Dungeons & Dragons session, which I finished typing up the other day.
Before that, I’ll mention that my wife and I did our tax returns today, for the 2022-2023 financial year. Last year we didn’t do them until October, so we’re nice and early this year. It’s actually a real breeze now that the Australian Tax Office has streamlined things with their online lodgement system as of two or three years ago.
Now, D&D. This is the first session of a new adventure, which I’m calling The Wyrm of Brandonstead. It follows directly from the last session of Tomb of the Serpent Kings.
Brigette, Drashi, Garamond, Leonardo, Nogge, and Notgandalf had collected enough gold in the last outing to pay for training from their local mentors, so spent a few weeks doing this. During this time, a travelling merchant passed through town, on his way south from the village of Brandonstead. He relayed news about mysterious attacks in livestock taking place there, which rumours put down to either goblin raids or perhaps some sort of monster come down to forage from the northern mountains. The Reeve of Brandonstead has offered a reward to any brave souls who can find out what is happening and put a stop to it.
Brandonstead lies three days travel north along the river that runs through Neensford, nestled near the foothills of the mountains, which mark the end of civilised lands and the beginning of untamed wilderness. Brigette, Leonardo, and Ratter were still busy with training, so Drashi, Garamond, Nogge, and Notgandalf decided to head north to check things out, leaving the others to follow later. They resupplied with provisions, camping supplies, and consumables like torches, oil, and arrows before setting out.
The now seasoned party took with them a group of retainers for help with things such as setting up camp, standing watch, guarding supplies while the heroes venture into dungeons, and perhaps tagging along to hold torches and so on. This group of keen young followers was made up of:
- Tarlan, a male cleric.
- Kenrick, a male fighter.
- Oletha, a female fighter.
- Narelle, a female magic-user.
- Ledwyle, a male thief.
- Gazzuk, a male dwarf.
- Woodlow, a male halfling.
The party agreed to pay Tarlan and Ledwyle 5sp a day, and the others 2sp a day.
The group arrived at Brandonstead after three days of eventless travel north along the river. Brandonstead is a tight cluster of about 50 old stone cottages with thatched roofs, plus two double-storey wood and plaster inns, encircled by an ancient stone wall about the height of a person. The only opening faces the road south. There is no gate, but a scrawny young guardsman leaning on a spear greeted the travellers at the gap. He was excited to meet a band of adventurers and recommended they go to the Clumsy Fox Tavern to find the village Reeve.
As they entered the Clumsy Fox, the proprietor Bentley greeted them, a jovial halfling with eyeglasses and a greying, balding head. The party ordered drinks and inquired after the Reeve. Bentley pointed them at a table where a portly mutton-chopped man was speaking with a statuesque redheaded woman in chainmail armour. They introduced themselves as Eric the village Reeve, and Hilda, captain of the town guard. Eric told them more about the attacks on the livestock.
Several sheep had been brutally killed in the past few weeks, blood and gore scattered around, mostly in the pastures just north of the village, on the edge of the forest. Not only that, but also the last regular supply wagon from Neensford was overdue by about a week. Eric said that some villagers have been whispering that it might be a dragon responsible. Whatever the truth, he offered the party 200gp if they could find who was responsible and put a stop to it, returning either heads of goblin raiders or evidence of slaying whatever monster it turned out to be. He recommended they go talk to George, the boar hunter, as he claims to have seen a beast attacking sheep.
The party went to George’s hut and knocked, but nobody was home. As they were about to leave, an old man with a long grey beard, wearing clerical vestments, came past and asked if they were looking for George. This was Father William, the village priest, who worshipped Boccob, the god of magic. He talked at length in a bit of a rant about all the problems of the village. He related the tale of Sir Brandon, who 200 years ago slew a dragon in these parts. The local king knighted him and his followers, and the village adopted Brandon’s name. Brandon and his associates were buried in a tomb in the forest north of the village.
Father William then went on a rant about Ingrid, the village alchemist, who he accused of being a witch, in league with a coven lurking in the forest, He was sure that these witches had something to do with cursing the village and killing the sheep. He also ranted about the “faeries” who lived in the forest, probably consorting with the witches. Nogge quietly suggested the “faeries” were probably just village teenagers having romantic trysts.
The Golden Egg Tavern
The party decided to check out the other inn in town, the Golden Egg Tavern. Here they met Quinn, the owner. He was a thin man with a white beard, very friendly, but suspicious of Bentley. He claimed that Bentley was stealing his best liquor from the cellar at night. He showed them his earth-walled cellar. Notgandalf cast Detect Magic to search for any magical entrances or hiding places, but found none. Quinn offered them 20gp if they could catch Bentley red-handed.
Quinn also mentioned a group of three dwarf brothers who came into town occasionally for supplies and to trade metals from their mine up north at the foothills of the mountains. But they haven’t been to town for over a week now, which is unusual.
Being mid-afternoon, the party decided to visit Ingrid the alchemist first. Ingrid turned out to be a scrawny and shy young woman who offered to sell them wolfsbane. “Good for repelling wolves!”
The party asked about Father William’s assertion of a witch coven in the woods. Ingrid laughed and said there is indeed a “witch” in the woods, but Vivian is just a harmless old lady whom she visits occasionally for afternoon tea and to make sure she’s doing okay. Ingrid also says that Vivian has lived her for decades and might have some useful information about fighting the dragon.
The party travelled a mile or so east into the forest and found Vivian’s clearing. It was full of intricately detailed topiary shrubs, pruned into the shapes of people and woodland animals. Approaching the hut in the middle, they passed by a pond. A group of nixies poked their heads out of the water and demanded they toss their weapons into the water, “otherwise the witch will turn you into shrubberies!” Notgandalf tossed in a spare dagger to appease them, and then Vivian emerged from her hut and shooed the nixies away, inviting the adventurers in for some tea.
Vivian looked like a witch, with frizzy grey hair and bulging eye, dressed in an old-fashioned frilly dress. She served tea in her kitchen-lounge, which was decorated with overstuffed, quilted furniture and had a rack of gardening tools on the wall. She talked enthusiastically about her topiaries and told them not to mind the nixies.
Asked about the monster attacks and any other strange goings on, Vivian said it was unusual the dwarves hadn’t been to town for a while. She said she likes the oldest brother, Grimni, and the other brothers are named Brol and Kedri. She thought the attacks could be a dragon, and that the heroes might be able to use the sap of a grove of unusual trees in the western woods across the river, which had a powerful soporific effect. But the trees were guarded by fae fauns and the party should be wary of them.
As they left, Vivian asked if they’d lost anything to the nixies. She called them off and Notgandalf waded into the pond to retrieve his dagger, and also found a plain sword in a jewelled scabbard, which Vivian let him keep.
George the hunter
Returning to the village, the party revisited George’s house, where he was at home. George had wild red hair and beard, and was missing his left arm. He said he was out hunting wild boar. A few days ago he was returning to the village when he spotted the dragon attacking some sheep. A scaly black monster the size of a couple of horses, squat to the ground on splayed legs, drooling horrible spittle everywhere. He intervened and the dragon turned on him, He shoved his arm down its throat to avoid it taking his head, and it bit off his arm. He said the caustic spittle somehow stopped it bleeding, and Ingrid helped him with some healing herbs. He tried hitting the beast but his weapons bounced off tough scales on its back and it slithered away back into the northern forest. He suspects it must have a lair up near the mountains.
The Golden Egg, part 2
With the sun going down, the party returned to the Golden Egg. With Quinn’s permission, they decided to stake out the cellar, taking turns to keep watch, with the retainers standing guard on the ground floor above. In the middle of the night, during Garamond’s watch, the cellar door at the top of the stairs clicked open and soft footsteps moved down. Garamond could not see anything in the dark with infravision, and roused Drashi, who also didn’t see anything. They both saw a flask of liquor lifting up into the air and tipping over, with a sound of drinking. Drashi decided to launch a tackle at the invisible thief. He crashed into and grabbed the thief, who became visible, a leprechaun!
The leprechaun begged to be freed, and said his name was Naggeneen. He offered his pot of gold for his freedom. The party had the retainers roused Quinn to come down, who was surprised to see the booze thief was a leprechaun and not his rival innkeeper Bentley. Quinn negotiated with Naggeneen, saying he’d free the leprechaun if he could have the pot of gold and Naggeneen agreed to go steal liquir from Bentley’s inn instead. Naggeneen agreed, then laughed when Drashi let him go, saying his pot of gold was hidden in the ruined castle a few miles north of Brandonstead, and the castle was now overrun with goblins! He said, “Good luck!” and vanished.
Quinn agreed to pay the heroes the 20gp he had offered them to solve his problem. He also said that if they happened to visit the ruined castle, he would gladly give them a tenth of anything in what was now his pot of gold.
Sir Brandon’s Tomb
The next morning, they sought Father William at the church of Boccob, to get directions to Sir Brandon’s Tomb. A statue of Sir Brandon stood behind the small church building. Father William mentioned that Brandon had been buried with his magical dragon-slaying sword, and that he had sent his initiate, Brother Dirk, to the tomb yesterday to see if he could retrieve the sword, but Dirk had not returned.
Armed with directions to Sir Brandon’s Tomb, the party followed the east bank of the river north towards the mountains before cutting inland after about three miles towards a visible hillock among the trees. Here they found Brandon’s tomb, accessed by a white stone slab set into the hillside as a door. A faded mural was painted on the door, showing a conquering knight. The earth around the door was disturbed, showing recent passage of someone through it. The party decided to offer the cleric Tarlan hazard pay to accompany them inside, while the other retainers stood guard outside.
The five of them opened the door and entered a chamber decorated with wall mosaics. The first depicted Brandon and three other figures: a shaggy giant of a man with a greatsword, a wizened old priest, and a wild-eyed man with an axe. The second mural showed Brandon skewering a great black dragon with his sword through its mouth and up into its head. The third showed Brandon and his men being knighted by a queen.
Footprints in the earthen floor revealed a trail leading to a passage in the west, then back towards another opening in the east, from where the party could hear sounds clattering and hushed voices. Tarlan said he recognised goblin language, and it sounded like they were arguing. The group sneaked to the eastern opening with torches held back. They spotted four goblins squabbling and poking around in various crypt alcoves around the room. Notgandalf used the element of surprise to cast a Magic Missile at one, knocking it dead! Garamond loosed a brace of arrows, but both missed their targets. Reacting, the goblins immediately surrendered and begged for their lives. The party called the attack off.
With Tarlan interpreting, the goblins said they had been looking for a new hideout, but a number of them had been lost downstairs, and now they were just looking for loot before fleeing. The goblins warned the party not to move a heavy stone which they had used to block one of the crypt alcoves, saying there was a slimy monster behind it. They also wanted to accompany the party until they could get out safely.
The party, with Tarlan and the goblins, took a northward passage out of the crypt room. Stairs led down and turned west, opening into a long corridor decorated with carvings of trees and woodland animals. At the foot of the stairs were the bodies of three goblins, torn to shreds and splattered all over the floor and lower walls. The goblins shrieked in fear.
A chittering noise could be heard form the long corridor to the west. The party decided to explore a passage to the south first, finding a room with a circular dais supporting a 3-foot tall nude clay statue of a may with antlers and two offering bowls, in which coins glinted. Making a circle on the floor around the dais were ten equispaced black stones. Another passageway led west.
The party considered their options…
20 gold coins – from Quinn for catching his booze thief.
Game trivia: Only 5 die rolls in 4 hours of play!
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