This session report is going to be a little different. Usually I type up a summary of the session’s activities for the players to be able to refer to afterward, whether for hints on Lore Drops (I need to do a post on that, too…) or to remember the name of an NPC or what have you.
This week we took a little departure from the current activities in the ongoing campaign to introduce some new characters and lean into the 1:1 timekeeping philosophy, where each player has multiple characters spread out across the Campaign Setting.
Players are encouraged to run multiple characters, in different places and times. 1:1 Timekeeping allows for extended travel, level training and other time-consuming activities while play continues, simply moving the focus from one group of characters to another.
This new batch of characters are refugees from a town that has just been razed by a dragon, the first dragon anyone can remember seeing in 500 years! I threw these characters together as guests of a kindly Wise Woman, in her cabin in the foothills of the Iron Mountains. I wanted something a little different from the “you meet in a tavern and decide to go risk your lives together”. This way, they’ve already risked their lives together, fleeing from the devastation of the dragon, and can begin by identifying as a team immediately.
Ideally this type of kick-off would increase the buy-in to the idea of running multiple parties concurrently.
After a brief introductory exposition (written out for the Character Creation phase), the party benefactor sends them on a simple yet vague mission, to go toward the ruined town, as there are people you can help, and can help you!
The party consists of five newly-generated characters and two characters from the original campaign start. The five new characters are traveling from the cabin of Artemisia, the mysterious woman who rescued and cared for them – Linos, a Marvana Salt-dwarf from Lemuria; Rook, a Xythian youth, recently moved to Zan’s Forge from Quann’s Landing; Finian, a Xythian Shepherd of Zan’s Forge; Antipatros, Lemurian protégé of Artemisia; and Pitophanrnakes, Xythian Vepitor of Zan’s Forge.
The others are Roinseach, a Vepitor (monster hunter) and her henchman, a Xythian Shepherd named Goloxir.
The five evacuees made their way down through the hills from Artemisia’s cabin, an uneventful trek of a day and a half, with the second morning being rainy. I rolled for wandering monsters, none appeared.
Upon reaching the hamlet of Hammersong, they could see the gate was closed, but there were no smoking chimneys, or any of the normal sounds associated with human settlements. They did hear some goats, but it sounded like the herd was inside the palisade. They hailed the town from a range of about 50 yards, and a head popped up to respond.
[NPC #1, Viloxun the Shepherd] After polite greetings and a brief parley, Viloxun invited the party to come and help him open the gate. They approached cautiously, but their fears were unfounded and Viloxun pushed on the gate from inside, while they pulled from outside.
Upon entering the hamlet, they could see a good-sized herd of goats milling about on the central street. Viloxun told them all the other inhabitants of Hammersong had fled when they heard the tale of the dragon’s devastation. He told the party they could get some food and a place to stay in the Inn just up the street. He says he brought the goats inside to protect them, as he was the only shepherd left to care for them. He also mentioned that there were a handful of others in town, one crotchety old merchant woman and three strangers. Viloxun tells the PCs the strangers are preparing to leave town and herd the goats up to Sunbridge. [Hook Number One]
At this point, Roinseach and Goloxir ride up to the gate, after watching the others come out of the woods, wondering what they are up to, and why Hammersong seemed so quiet.
During this conversation another person approached, shouting out to the group [NPC #2, Tirgatao the Soldier] and asking what they think they are doing. She is wearing a chain-armor tunic covered with a cream-colored tabard, without blazon or emblem. A pinch-faced Xythian woman, Tirgatao demands to know who the party members are and what they are doing here in Hammersong.
After a brief introduction Tirgatao started barking orders for the party to start participating in the butchery and smoking of several goats in the abandoned bakery. She directs them to find food and water in the Inn and return to help Viloxun in an hour.
The PCs took her at her word and started getting the inn common room ready for an overnight. Antipatros took the initiative of searching the kitchen, clearing out spoiled food and gathering foodstuffs that can travel, such as sausages and cheeses.
After they set up they went out to assist Viloxun in preparing to smoke the goat meat. Roinseach and Rook (Level 1, new PC) decided to go see the merchant. Her shop looks closed, but there is a big ugly dog on the stoop. They hailed the shopkeep and she came out, spent a few minutes talking, mostly haranguing them about the strangers in town, but offering them work guarding her storage barn. [Hook Number Two] The merchant, Shavorunax, told Roinseach and Rook she had a bad feeling about “those strangers”, mainly because she knew they were looting the homes and other shops in Hammersong.
Roinseach and Rook were leery of this, and returned to the yard by the gate to help finish the smoking of the goats.
When they finished, they repaired to the common room of the inn to freshen up and prepare a dinner. They were soon joined by the rest of the “strangers”: Saruki (Xythian Human woman. Saruki has a narrow face, with tangled gray hair and sharp green eyes. She wears travel-stained clothing and a long, dark green cloak) who mentions to one of the PCs that Tirgatao and the others are leaving tomorrow with the goats for Sunbridge, a town to the north, in a valley between the Counties of Laralla and Vorxiya. Saruki says she is leaving too, but not with the goats, she plans to travel fast and light. [Hook Number Three]
Quite a bit of RP went on for a while through dinner-time, with the PCs talking to the strangers and trying to get more information about where the villagers went and what the strangers were planning.
The party has a very low opinion of Tirgatao, and leave her out of their conversations. Tirgatao spends most of the dinner time speaking rather earnestly with Saruki.
One of the strangers, a short male Xythian, named Iodas, speaks to Antipatros while preparing food in the kitchen. Iodas has cropped auburn hair, light amber eyes, and a braided beard. He wears leather armor and wields a long sword and dagger. (the presence of the longsword indicates Iodas is of the nobility and holds the rank of Swordsman) Iodas shows Antipatros a tattoo on his palm of a Sun disc with a dot in the center (Symbol of Pkutbay, god of art, writing and lore) and invites him to join Iodas in an investigation of a “hidden library” beneath the village temple. Antipatros says he might be interested, but he needs to check with the rest of the party. Iodas agrees, but asks Antipatros not to tell Tirgatao. [Hook Number Four]
After the “dinner” there was another long bit of RP and discussion about whether or not to invade the temple. As the party were all still fatigued from their trek, they decided to tell Iodas they would accompany him to the temple, but not until the morning, as they needed rest.
In the morning Iodas came to the inn to lead them to the library under the temple. First they planned to stop off at a barn where Iodas had been “collecting” things, various articles and weapons he’d planned to sell in Sunbridge. Iodas opened the door to the barn and as he entered the session, and the Campaign, took an unexpected turn.