A small note to my players: These session reports contain information that is spoilers for your current characters who are staying with the Hightide Fen clan. Feel free to read, but remember, anything you read cannot affect your decision making process when deciding where to go next week. (The session Fourteen post is here. It was saved and was posted in-line.)
Again, we had several players not show up for Session Fifteen; and after some uncertainty, we had them not show up again for session Sixteen.
I've talked to may players, and this isn't directed at them. This is a general question to the people who aren't in my game. How many sessions can a player miss (consecutively, or erratically) until you free up their seat to add a new person? (And if they only tell you they aren't going to make it hours before the game *Shakes fist*)
During session Fifteen, the reduced group spent some time within the Agarbonu, the Boarman city. Initially they arrived and Spiritspyre immediately went off to talk to his high priest who's name translates as Leafblower, while they stayed in the outer miles of uninhabited city. A few random rolls later, and I found out the personality of his priest was bigoted. Suddenly Spiritspyre's constant refrain of "You're gods don't live here! Go Home!" made much more sense. He immediately rounded up a dozen guards and set off to arrest the player characters.
Arriving, and announcing his intention to arrest them and throw them in Jail, Null, Zeltara's silver drake, breathed his paralyzing gas upon the Boarmen, and they tied them all up. They coerced a cure from Zeltara's deafness from the Leafblower (who was a cleric of no meek level).
They then headed off to visit the 'non-boarman' section of the city. There, they found many Ape-men of various tribes, and Gnolls of various tribes. They also saw a strange people with broad jaws, and sharp teeth wearing strange clothes known as the Shi'ar, and several times caught a glimpse of some people who looked suspiciously human. While drunk Zeltara was pretty sure he saw a talking giant spider wearing clothes, but nobody paid him much mind. They attempted to talk to one of the Ape-men of the Chokwe Tribe named Marduk, but he was restless and made the party nervous.
At that point there was some discussion of leaving town (!), and I sort of fell down from my earlier resolve to be 'impartial' and 'not-involved'. I asked why they would leave after just having met two people, in a city of 3000. I pointed out that this was a town with many sages and libraries, in addition to more resources then they have had to date. Upon reflection, I really should not have said anything. There is a line between communicating clearly and insuring the players understand the situation, versus leading them by the nose to where you want them to go. We had a bit of discussion during the next session where my players reminded me they were raised on newer, more linear, versions of the game, and it's hard to remember that sometimes.
After the discussion, they headed towards the civic center, met the trusting Boarman, Hornsong. They reported the attempt of the arrest, and Hornsong shook his head, familar with the racist rabble rousing that Leafblower often engages in. He said he would take care of it, and sent some troops to where Spiritspyre and Leafblower and his men were tied up. They paid the numerous fees and taxes the city requested, and did some much needed training. They made regular foray's out into the woods to check on the valley, and the town, and soon discovered that where once Trenton, the town they had been banished from had stood, was now destroyed. They contacted a sage and with much frustration, parted with their hard earned gold. The sage told them it would be many days before they would receive their answer.
They decided to spend the rest of the gaming night, seeking adventure and treasure. While preparing, healing and shopping in town, they again ran across Spiritspyre in a prison cage. After he informed them he had changed to a different god, he somehow talked them into letting him back into the party. They headed back to the Zunel complex, killing several Wild Boars on the way. Once inside, they descended to new territory, setting off a trap blocking them from heading back the way they entered. They explored a small chamber and fought several Shadows, which were turned in short order. They found a small horde of valuables, discovered a stairway up which they were able to locate on the fully mapped first floor, and we ended for the night there.
I've combined these two sessions for several reasons. First, the same group of players canceled on each session. Second, session sixteen was a comedy of errors.
Still waiting for the sage's research, they left seeking more treasure. Their first plan was to head out to the Mabden Treasure Cache, but after leaving they headed straight for the ancient Gorm Dungeon beneath the petrified tree. On the way they fought and handily killed several Poisonous Toads. It was late in the day when they reached the petrified tree, and they decided to camp. They bedded down for the night, and in the early morning, had an encounter. With 19 Ghouls. Woken up, instead of fleeing, they began attacking, some without armor. They fought desperately. It seemed as if things might turn their way, but disaster struck and Spiritspyre became paralyzed. Lacking the ability to turn the Ghouls, the battle quickly went bad.
Lost, and considering the situation only in terms of what they could do on the mat, I again walked that line of discussing options with the players. I pointed out that they should check their coupons, perhaps something might be useful there. Also, I informed them that they could always request Divine Intervention. After the fight we had a small discussion during dinner and I mentioned that I was dissapointed in myself for telling them what to do. They accurately pointed out to me that they had no idea they could even request divine intervention. Spiritspyre, requesting divine intervention (base 1%) being on a mission for his god (+25%), being a 4th level (+4%) cleric (+3%), and never having asked for intervention before (+5%), was granted reprieve (Rolled a 17%). Out of the darkness, several forest warriors appeared, looking shockingly human on this strange alien continent, standing six to seven feet tall, with dark hair, heavy brows, and large noses, wearing leathers and hides. They killed the Ghouls, thick arrow shafts piercing their chests, a squad cutting them apart with hand axes, before fading back off into the night. Only one stood to cast a troubled look towards the party before loping off into the distance.
After this fight, a small discussion was had, the same one I've mentioned earlier. I also shared this nugget of old school thinking. One of the reasons this battle went south, was they forgot their purpose! They were heading to the Mabden Cache. Stopping to face large numbers of undead or any wandering monster is dangerous and could lead them off the track. If a battle isn't necessary avoid it. Encounters range from all different types, there is no level appropriate encounter. Focus on your goal. This advice would prove to be prophetic.
Damaged, and with a henchmen dead they headed for town. Healing up, they headed out one last time to again, explore a nearby place. Soon they came across a trail of ants, Giant Ants. Sixteen were found. Ignoring their goal, they engaged the ants. It seemed to be going well, many ants were falling. They would pinch on, and stab with their stingers, the poison seeming not particularly strong. In a few minutes the ants were vanquished, leaving only Zeltara, Null, and Niles poisoned. Simple enough they thought. As each minute went by, they got sicker and sicker. Over an hour away from town, Spritspyre's substantial healing abilities were quickly drained, and they continued to pale, and become ill.