First, I’m using a published adventure for this leg of the campaign, but he group doesn’t know what that adventure is. Please don’t tell them if you recognize it.
Second, because this is a published adventure, my accounts are going to have spoilers in them. If you start to recognize this as the adventure you’re playing – or going to play – you may want to avoid reading on.
This past Sunday saw our return to the Storm Point campaign, after a hiatus of five months, when I ran the Gammatoba mini-campaign. I was gratified to have a full house for this first session back, and was very pleased to get back to the game.
Anyway, the gang is almost tenth level, so I want to move them out and away from Storm Point, into the wider world and beyond. To that end, I decreed that a year and a half had gone by in the downtime, and started the session with a description of how things had changed in the area: the town of Storm Point prospering, the dwarven city of Silverfalls being resettled now that the heroes had cleansed it, and a little village growing up around the hospital the players had constructed. I emphasized the way things were pretty tame in the neighbourhood, now, and that, prosperous as the town was becoming, it still couldn’t match a larger city for the purposes of selling loot or buying stuff.
With that done, the party was primed and ready when a dwarven merchant asked them to look into missing caravans between Silverfalls and the city-state of Belys, on the far side of the Bitter Mountains. They haggled with the merchant, getting him to make them shareholders in his company and providing them with letters of introduction to merchants in Belys in return for their assistance. Then they tried to get him to give them the carts, horses, and provisions they would need to create a fake caravan to try and trap whoever was responsible, but he wasn’t having that – he was paying them to do a job, they were responsible for getting the job done.
Our heroes took that in stride, however, and outfitted their own one-wagon caravan, and set off through the mountains. The trip took them about a week to get through the pass, and then they reached the Gloaming Wood, a crescent-shaped wood that circled about half the plains that surrounded Belys. A couple of days traveling through that wood, and they could tell that the Feywild was very close. Galvanys had heard tales of the Gloaming Court, one of the minor factions of the eladrin, that he thought held sway here, but didn’t remember too much else.
About a day away from leaving the wood, they spotted some suspicious piles of leaves in a clearing by the side of the road – suspicious in that one had a bloodied arm sticking out of it. They stopped the wagon, got out, and Ssudai crept up on the piles stealthily, while the rest of the group advanced more openly. That’s when they spotted the harpies in the trees, and Thrun decided to try and scare them off.
At this point, the corpses in the piles of leaves revealed themselves as dryads, we rolled initiative. The fight had some interesting movement in it, with things being swept back and forth across the battlefield, and some tree climbing by Ssudai. It took a pretty long time to get through, though, mainly because everyone was trying to remember how to play their characters during the Gammatoba hiatus. Things got a little tense, but really there wasn’t that much danger overall.
The point at which they decided they might really be in trouble was when they killed the first dryad. Her eyes rolled back, she convulsed, her bark and wood turned grey, and mist started to rise from her eyes, mouth, and fingertips. She only stuck around for another round, getting in one more attack before crumbling to rotted wood, but the rest of the monsters followed the same pattern, which weirded the party out a bit – as it was supposed to.
After the fight, the group examined the bones and wood of their opponents and found runes carved on them, still leaking the grey mist. Milo analyzed the markings, and determined that they were necromantic sigils meant to drain off and channel the life energy of whatever the creatures killed, and Faran determined that they called on the power of old, dead gods.
At this point, it was getting a little late in the evening, andÂ wanted to move things on to a specific stopping point, so instead of making it a big puzzle to figure out where these fey creatures had come from, I let the party follow the grey mist rising off the remains of their foes. It led them into a glade where the trees were dark and twisted, and in the midst of it all, two ancient, half-dead oak trees had grown into a portal to the Feywild, and the next stage of the adventure.
There was a brief moment of panic on my part, as the party started talking about how they could just close the portal, and how stupid they’d have to be to pass through it. My initial response was to force them through somehow, but then I just calmed down and decided that, if they didn’t go through this one, I could get them to the party some other way, and let them decide what they were going to do. In the end, they decided to go through the portal after all, so I needn’t have worried.
And that was the point I stopped things.
It was good to get back to Storm Point after the hiatus, but the hiatus was nice. It let me recharge my enthusiasm for the game, and to think about what’s working and what’s not. In general, I’m happy with the game, but I want to bring in more variety of play – make it less of a fight-of-the-week game. To do that, I’m looking at ways to encourage other types of adventure, more exploration, and more interaction. I’m also trying to make the fights move more quickly, but that’s an uphill battle with this group’s attention span. I’ve got some ideas in that area, though.
Still, it’s good to be back.