The Watcher of the Mists

Raid on Toadstool Goblins
Session 5

Weealday, 7 Rova, 4707 A.R.

The party met Shalelu at the south bridge at dawn as arranged. It was the third rainy day in a row, and the first chill of autum could be felt in the air. Larissa brought along Lorenzo, a trained guard dog she purchased the previous day, and Charrone rode her light riding horse.

Shalelu brought the party along the Tickwood Road, the same road that Aldern had led the party to the ill-fated boar hunt. At about 8 AM, the party passed the place where they had been ambushed a few days earlier. Shalelu took about half an hour scouting the place, and concluded that the goblins had come from the east—toward Mosswood. This meshed with what the goblin prisoner had told them.

The road led along the north bank of the Turandarok River, with Tickwood to the north. Tickwood Road is less a road and more a path, and the going got a bit slow—the rain from the past two days had made the road very muddy. After two miles, the road followed the river and took a sharp turn south for a bit less than a mile, then turned eastward again. The woods thinned out to reveal a jagged hilly terrain, and the vegetation became much more scrubby. By about noon, the land to the south opened up to farmland, and they could see another dense forest ahead: Mosswood.

The road forked, and Shalelu took the group south toward the river, crossing at Ulm’s Ford. The land was mostly barley fields here, and a quarter mile ahead lay the thorpe of Ulmsford. It wasn’t much of a settlement—just six farm houses fairly close together, with three larger outbuildings (a meetinghouse, a granary, and a large animal barn). The elf led the group to one of the farmhouses, and on the way she told the party that they would be meeting Jed Craditt, who was the one that alerted Shalelu to the goblin presence in this area.

Craditt explained that the goblins had been stealing both vegetables (mostly squash) and livestock—primarily chickens, but three of his dairy goats as well. These thefts indicated a serious financial hardship for the Craditt family. He showed the group where he had seen the goblins.

Shalelu and Halfred checked the area for tracks and determined that there were four riders—two on goblin dogs and two on large wolves. “Probably worgs,” said Shalelu, “I hate worgs.” The tracks came from the north and went away to the northeast. The group followed the tracks, which circled back toward Ulm’s Ford. Crossing the ford, Halfred picked up the trail on the north bank of the river, and saw that they led east along the riverbank. They followed.

The tracks led east about half a mile along a game path through the heavy brush along the riverbank. Shalelu noticed that the tracks then veered north along a different game path. The path led into the southern reaches of Mosswood, and they followed the path for about a quarter-mile. The light began to dim as they entered the forest, and the forest floor was dominated by massive tree trunks with a few smaller trees trying to make their way to the light. In the forest proper, there was little underbrush, and the goblin trail was relatively easy to follow. It turned eastward for about another mile, then sharply southward again.

As the party followed the southern track, two flasks were lobbed at them from the trees next to the path. The flasks broke open and burst into flames, catching Shalelu, Ted, and Halfred! Goblins could be seen in the trees, and from a short distance away, the sound of a signal horn blasted through the forest. Larissa and Shalelu shot the visible goblins out of the trees, and the party then hurried down the path.

About two hundred feet later, the path opened out into a large clearing. At the center of the clearing stood the ruins of a white marble open-air shrine or temple. The columns that had held up the triangular stone roof had long since collapsed, and the roof came down in more-or-less one piece, supported now by the broken remains of the columns. A 6-foot tall wooden rail fence surrounded the temple, forming a rough courtyard around the temple, and the smoke from several campfires rose into the drizzle. Two large tree trunks stood on end, each about eight feet tall, the tops of which were carved to form crude parapets. A goblin archer was visible in each of the parapets. A gate stood between these wooden towers, decorated with a human skull. Behind the fence, the party could see at least a dozen goblins.

“Damn,” said Shalelu, “they know we’re here. It looks like a frontal assault is our only option. We’re outnumbered, but I think we can take ‘em! Let’s go!” She took out her longbow.

A this, arrows from two trees within the clearing shot by party members, and Larissa spotted goblin archers. Ted cast enlarge person on Halfred, who grew to ten feet tall. Halfred then charged one of the archers, and cleaved the goblin’s head with his greataxe. More arrows whizzed by the party from the lair, and a few party members were hit. Larissa and Shalelu returned fire, and the party advanced toward the goblin stronghold.

Suddenly, an area of the knee-high grass and vines that surrounded our heroes animated and grasped at the feet and legs of anyone who was in it! McGreggor, Declan, and Shalelu found themselves greatly hampered by the effect, but everyone else was able to break free. Arrows pelted the party like rain, and the gate swung open. Two riders on goblin dogs rode out. Charrone attempted to charge them, but her horse would not cooperate. The goblin riders then charged her: the riders attacked her with their horsechoppers, and their mounts tore at her horse with their oversized incisors. Charrone fought back, striking one rider out of its saddle, but she and her horse were wounded. She unseated the other rider as well, as the goblin dogs took down her mount. McGreggor and Ted blasted two goblins with magic, and Shalelu continued to fire. A magical orb of fire appeared and rolled toward Shalelu, singeing her slightly. Then two more riders, these on worgs, charged the enlarged Halfred, and six goblin warriors on foot followed. Lorenzo the dog lunged at three of the warriors, but got slashed badly. Outnumbered, the party was pressed back toward the area of the entangle.

Then out strode a much taller goblin, which wore an iron helm and wielded a black metal scimitar that was sized for a human. He laughed, and said in broken Common, “Heh! You longshanks cowards! Me Kneecrusher! We beat you! You no fight, we let you live.” He barked some orders in Goblin, and the goblins stopped their attack, but kept their weapons pointed at the party. The party did the same. Larissa tried to call off Lorenzo, but the dog ignored her, and attacked another goblin, as the goblin dogs continued to fight Charrone. A moment later, Lorenzo was slashed and both goblin dogs were dead. Kneecrusher smiled more broadly, and said, “Give us all your gold, and we back off. You go, we no kill.”

Charrone, no longer under attack, said, “You want our gold? OK. Here’s some gold!” she emptied her coin purse into her hand, and threw a handful of gold and silver coins at a group of six goblins. The goblins dropped their weapons to gather up the coins. At this, Shalelu shouted, “That’s our chance! Go!” In a swift motion, she drew her Elven curveblade and slew one of the goblins distracted by the commotion. Most of the other goblins resumed the attack, and Kneecrusher growled in anger and charged Halfred. Halfred sidestepped the blow and brought his greataxe down on Kneecrusher’s head, splitting it open.

At the sight of their leader slain, the goblins lost courage and attempted to flee, but the party didn’t intended to let them go. In the end, two escaped, two were captured, and the rest of the Toadstool goblins were dead.

Charrone’s horse could not be revived, but Lorenzo the dog was still alive. Summoning the power of Sarenrae, Declan healed the party, including Lorenzo, who regained consciousness, and returned to Larissa’s side.

The group gathered the goblin bodies for burning, and also collected the meager treasure on them. Of most interest was Kneecrusher’s black metal scimitar, and three magical potions found on the shaman.

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Grim News from Mosswood
Session 4 (part 3)

Toilday 06 Rova 4707 A.R., 10:00 AM

Shalelu and the party met at Sheriff Hemlock’s office at the appointed time. Mayor Deverin was also there, and introductions were made all around. Hemlock again complimented the party’s work against the goblins, and referred to them alternatively as “unofficial town guardsmen” and “Sandpoint’s latest crop of heroes.” He said that the townsfolk had mostly taken a liking to them, and that he felt that the presence of the party in town was having a calming effect on the populace.

“Thankfully,” he said, “most of the tales of ‘Goblin Day’ I’m hearing now are now leaning toward the comic and are emphasizing the bizarre antics of the little runts, rather than the horror they could have caused. Of course, that’s a good thing, as I’m planning to take three men with me and take a fast ship to Magnimar. I want to ask the Lord Mayor if he can spare a couple of squadrons of the City Watch to help us out here. It would really ease my mind if you people would stick around town at least until I return with more men.”

Shalelu replied, “Hmmm… Actually, I was hoping that I could ask you for a squadron of guardsmen. But we can discuss that in a moment. The five goblin tribes are definitely working together right now, and I believe that a contingent from each of the tribes were involved in Friday’s raid. This is bad. The tribes are usually too busy fighting among themselves to pull off anything like this on their own— some outside force is organizing them. But I’m not sure who or what that is, or why. Regardless, it can’t be good.”

She continued, "As you know, there are five tribes of goblins around here. The smallest and least aggressive tribe is the Birdcruncher goblins. They are located about half a mile from here along the western slopes of the Devil’s Plateau, and they keep to themselves for the most part.

“Next are the Licktoad goblins of the Brinestump Marsh. They tend not to be animal riders, but are excellent swimmers. They are apparently still all afraid of the goblin cannibal Vorka, who reportedly stalks the marsh looking for more goblins to eat and steal their “essence.”

“The Seven Tooth goblins aren’t particularly aggressive either— they tend to be the suppliers of weapons and armor to the other tribes, and they mostly use Sandpoint’s trash to make them.” She turned to the mayor, “I have asked you to stop that half-orc Gorvi from dumping the town’s trash over the cliff, right?” Deverin shrugged. An annoyed look crossed the elf’s face. “Anyway,” she resumed, "they live in Shank’s Wood. From what the Seven Tooth goblins have told me, they haven’t seen their strongest warrior Koruvus in a while— the goblin I questioned said that that Koruvus showed up with a human-sized glowing sword about a year ago, and that he told the chief that he found a secret treasure trove and would be coming back with more magic to become the new chief soon. But he never came back.

“The second-largest tribe is the Thistletop goblins, and all the goblins agree that they have the best hideout. They’re located on a gigantic rock about twenty yards off the Nettlewood coast. They say that this island looks a lot like a giant skull when viewed from the sea. Ripnugget is their leader, and he’s pretty aggressive.

“The largest tribe is the Mosswood goblins. They’re led by a chieftain called Big Gugmurt, who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the goblins. He’s rumored to have a hobgoblin father and a wild boar for a mother— a picture I don’t want to think much about. However, the Mosswood goblins have always been hampered by their size: there are at least four factions within the tribe, and they’re always at each others’ throats to the point that they usually aren’t much of a threat to non-goblins.

“Right now, the Mosswood goblins are in a bit of disarray. For one thing, a lot of them seem to have been beaten up recently— I think these were goblins that survived last Friday’s raid on Sandpoint. They are also saying that the bugbear assassin Bruthazmus was now working with the raiders. I’ve also heard that there was a recent power struggle in Mosswood and that one of their warriors, Kneebreaker didn’t want to attack the town proper, and instead took about two dozen warriors to raid the countryside instead. I guess this It’s this splinter of the Mosswood tribe that I am currently worried about— they’re getting bolder too, and have been raiding near Ulmsford and the nearby thorpe of the same name. I’m afraid that it’s only a matter of time before they stop hunting livestock exclusively and start attacking the farmers themselves. Belor, do you have some men you could spare? I’d like to nip this splinter tribe before they entrench themselves or kill anybody.”

Hemlock said that he didn’t have any men to spare, especially as he was about to go to Magnimar to get more men. Charrone volunteered the party to play whatever role the Mayor thought would be best. Deverin said that the goblins near Ulmsford seemed the most immediate threat, and Charrone volunteered to help Shalelu fight them. The rest of the party followed suit. Hemlock said that he could delay his trip to Magnimar for another couple of days, after this group was dealt with.

After the Mayor Deverin took her leave, Sheriff Hemlock let Shalelu and the party sit in on the interrogation of the goblin prisoner from the previous day. Unfortunately, the goblin had a lot to say, but not much to offer. After about two and a half hours of questioning, the only salient points revealed were:

—“We not Mosswood goblins—we Toadstool goblins!"

—“Gugmurt kick us out of Mosswood when we not want to attack big longshanks village. Kneecrusher our boss now."

—"We take food from small longshanks village. Just take stuff we need. Or is pretty. Or we want”

—“We not have good hunting ground. We wait for travelers on road, fight them and take stuff.”

After the interrogation was over, an exhausted Shalelu said that she had some other business to attend to, and would meet the party at the South Bridge at dawn tomorrow, and would lead the party to Mosswood to deal with this new tribe.

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Enter Shalelu
Session 4 (part 2)

Toilday 06 Rova, 4707 A.R.

The next morning was warm and rainy. While ordering breakfast at the Dragon, Ameiko Kaijitsu (the owner) mentioned to the party that Aldern had left just before dawn, and that he didn’t leave a message for them. During breakfast, a couple of travelers came into the barroom, and told Ameiko that they had seen the elf Shalelu crossing the South Bridge into town. At this, Ameiko brightened, and the group saw her give a bunch of orders to Bethany, her head of staff.

A few minutes later, a tall Elven woman strode into the bar. She was very beautiful in that otherworldly Elven manner: she stood about six feet tall, with very long pointed ears that stuck through her shoulder-length forest-green hair. Her eyes were the deep blue-black of a clear sky an hour past sunset, and like the eyes of all elves, had no whites. She wore hide armor, had a longbow and quiver on her back, and an Elven curveblade at her side. She also wore a headband which sported brightly-colored feathers.

“Ameiko, it looks like you can’t get rid of me just yet,” she declared when she entered the room, a wry smile on her face. She strode over to the bar, and gave Ameiko a brief embrace.

“You know you’re always welcome here, Shalelu, even if we weren’t expecting you back until March.” replied Ameiko, “Bethany is getting your regular room ready as we speak. Ale?”

“Of course. And some eggs and bread if you have any, thanks.” She sat at the bar, looking around the room. Ameiko poured her an ale then stepped into the kitchen. Shalelu raised he glass toward the party then took a long swig.

Declan stood and approached. “Good morning, m’lady! They seem to know you around here, but I don’t believe we’ve met. My name’s Declan.” She shook his hand.

“I am Shalelu of Mierani,” she replied. Declan introduced the rest of the party.

“You are correct that they do know me around here,” Shalelu said, “I’ve made it my business to patrol the nearby woods for the past several years and to help keep the goblins in check. Nasty creatures, but they mostly keep to themselves. I was on my way back to Mierani for the winter when I heard of the attack on this town, so I decided to check on the various tribes to see what the little terrors were up to. I haven’t seen any of you here before— were you here during the attack?”

The group told Shalelu what they saw during the attack on the Swallowtail Festival and their role in repelling it. She seemed impressed. The party asked her about the goblins.

“Well, I’ve been working to keep those goblins away from civilized folk for years. It’s actually not all that hard— goblins are clever, but also stupid and lazy. It’s usually pretty easy to keep them fighting among themselves to the extent that they don’t much bother anyone else. Something has changed recently, though. The five tribes seem to be working together, and they’re stirring up trouble all over the region.

“Ten things you need to know about goblins if you plan to tangle with them:

1. Goblins hate horses. While they ride their disgusting rat-like goblin dogs, and will ride a worg if they can convince it to take a rider, their hatred of horses is matched by their fear of them.

2. They hate dogs even more. It’s about the only creature they hate more than horses, and in this case, the feeling is mutual— dogs seem to hate them right back.

3. Goblins raid junkyards. To goblins, the trash piles of larger and more civilized creatures are a treasure trove of raw materials to make tools, weapons, and armor.

4. Goblins love to sing. The scary part is how catchy their melodies are, although their lyrics are distasteful at best and horrific at worst.

5. Goblins are sneaky. An angry goblin is a noisy menace, chattering away in its guttural tongue, but any goblin can become silent as a mouse and slip away into the shadows at a moment’s notice.

6. Goblins do crazy things. They are extremely clever in coming up with new and interesting ways to be cruel, vicious, and sadistic, but are hard to predict. Goblins seem generally incapable of thinking their actions through to their logical outcomes: like hiding in a lit oven, or stopping to steal valuables (or food) in the middle of a fight.

7. Goblins will eat just about anything, including people, or in a pinch, each other. They are also voracious, and given enough supplies, will eat a dozen full meals a day. Goblin camps rarely have that quantity of supplies on hand, which is one reason they go raiding so often.

8. Goblins like fire. Burning things is one of their favorite forms of entertainment, especially if what they light up is alive and can flail around for a while. Like I said earlier, they’re sadistic little creeps.

9. Goblins are lazy, and prefer to bully other, weaker creatures into doing their dirty work. Unfortunately for the goblins, they are usually the weakest creatures around. This also means that goblins seldom finish what they start.

10. Goblins believe that writing steals your soul. Really. They think that writing steals the words out of your head, and that you can’t get them back. While they don’t have a written language, they do draw elaborate narrative pictures of their exploits."

After Shalelu finished the short lecture about goblins, Sheriff Hemlock walked in. “Thanks for coming back, Shalelu. I was hoping that you could tell the mayor and me what you found out. It looks like you found our new town heroes. I came over to ask if you would all please come to a meeting in my office at the garrison in one hour. Would that work for you?”

Everyone agreed, and the sheriff said that he’d see everyone there.

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Monster in the Closet
Session 4 (part 1)

Moonday 05 Rova, 4707 A.R.

The farewell dinner with Aldern had wound down, and out heroes were finishing their second after-dinner drinks, when an obviously upset woman with two children in tow burst into the barroom. She carried one of the children, who was perhaps not-quite two years old, and was leading a boy of about seven years by the arm. The boy’s other arm was loosely wrapped in a bandage and blood was seeping into it. After scanning the room, she quickly noticed the party and rushed over to their table. “Thank the gods I found you! I need your help! Quickly!”

Charrone and Halfred stood up. The woman continued, “Please— my husband… there’s a goblin in our house, and we need you help now! Please follow me!” Charrone replied, “Well, yes, of course!” and gathered her things. The rest of the party, save Aldern, did the same. “Um… why don’t I stay here and take care of the tab…” said Aldern.

The group followed the woman, who identified herself as Emily Barrett, across town to her house, the children still in tow. The trip took less than two minutes. On the way over, she explained:

“Ever since the goblins attacked the Festival, our son Aeric has been haunted by what he’d seen. He said that he saw a goblin grab our neighbor’s friendly tabby cat by the tail, pour oil over him, then light him on fire, laughing as the poor creature ran off while aflame. He said that the goblin then looked right at him, grinned, then came at him, but then our dog Petal ran to Aeric’s side and started barking at the goblin. The goblin then threw his torch at Petal, then ran away. Aeric just hasn’t been the same since.

“Every night since then, Aeric has cried at bedtime, saying that there was a goblin in his closet. Well, children imagine monsters all the time, so Henry, that’s my husband, would bring in a lamp and check under the bed and in the closet. We also let Petal start sleeping in his room, but Petal seemed to be spooked by the goblins too, and barked quite a lot more than usual. This went on for four more nights, and Henry was getting sick of it. He told Aeric to ‘be a man’ and to ‘stop imagining things,’ because he didn’t see any signs of a goblin. Oh, if only we’d listened to Aeric and to Petal!

“Tonight, Aeric made the same complaint, but Henry told him to quiet down and go to bed. Not five minutes later, we hear Aeric shouting, and Petal barking like mad… but then Petal started whimpering and Aeric screamed out in pain. Henry opened the door to find Petal with a knife stuck in her neck and a goblin on Aeric’s bed, trying to chew off his arm! Henry grabed a poker from the fireplace and chased the goblin back into the closet, and I gathered the children and tried to find a guardsman. When I couldn’t find a guard, I found you! And here we are.”

Halfred, Larissa, and Charrone entered the small cottage. A lamp still burned on the kitchen table, but the house was oddly silent. They crept down the short hallway and opened the first door, which Emily had mentioned was Aeric’s room. Inside, the room was in disarray. A small black-and-white dog, obviously Petal, lay motionless in a pool of blood at the foot of the bed. A man, obviously Henry Barrett, lay sprawled face-down on the floor, his arms and head in the closet. Charrone called out, but the man didn’t answer. Halfred examined the closet, and saw that one of the wide floorboards had been removed and that Barrett’s head was partly in the hole left by the missing floorboard. Charrone examine the body, and saw that he was dead, but still warm. Halfred pulled Barrett’s body out of the closet and rolled him over, and they were all shocked and appalled to see that the flesh of Barrett’s face had been removed— seemingly bitten off!

At that moment, a goblin jumped out of the hole in the closet floor, brandishing a kitchen knife. In the surprise of the attack, he managed to slash Halfred, but Halfred recovered and slew the goblin with one swing of his greataxe. Examining the hole beneath the closet revealed a dirt-floored crawlspace barely 18 inched deep, two feet wide, and about eight feet long— barely large enough to conceal a single goblin. Larissa surmised that the goblin must have been hiding there ever since the festival.

The group left the house with the goblin’s body, and told Mrs. Barrett and Aeric that this goblin isn’t going to trouble anyone else again. Mrs. Barrett then asked about her husband, and Charrone broke the news that the goblin had killed him. Mrs. Barrett then became completely distraught, wailing loudly, attracting the attention of both neighbors and guardsmen. Larissa pressed some gold into her hands to help her get along, and two of her neighbors came over to assist. Ted offered to hire somebody to clean up the mess in Aeric’s room, but the neighbors said that they would take care of it. “Really. You’ve done enough hero-ing for one day,” said a neighbor while taking the baby. “If only you could have been a bit quicker with it…”

The group then left the Barrett family to the care of their neighbors and returned to their lodgings. Charrone returned to the Dragon for a chat with Aldern, warning him not to travel by himself. Aldern seemed not terribly concerned for his own safety, but promised to hire a couple of sell-swords for his return trip to Magnimar.

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The Boar Hunt
Session 3

Sunday 04 Rova 4707

Over drinks at the Rusty Dragon late the previous night, Larissa and MacGreggor agreed to meet the following morning to explore the Old Light a bit more. Larissa was intrigued by the story she’d heard of people entering the centuries-old ruins and never being seen again.

Sunday morning, just after sunrise, they met at the edge of the ruins, which are situated on a point overlooking the Varisian Gulf, at the edge of a sheer cliff. The cliff rises about 100 feet from the surface of the gulf. The base of the tower seems to rise out of the gulf itself, and appears to be built into the side of the cliff. The tower rises another 60 feet or so above the top of the cliff face, and is by far the tallest structure in the town of Sandpoint.

Larissa and MacGreggor scrambled over the chunks of worked stone strewn about the tower at street level and approached the tower proper. They found an opening that was about five feet tall and three feet wide, and scrambled through. Once inside, they climbed a path that had been worn into the pile of stone rubble that littered the interior of the tunnel. While dim, there was enough light to see, as they could see the sky through the top of the tower: apparently, the roof and floors of the tower had pancaked over the centuries into the pile of rubble they stood upon. While a few faded runes and weathered carvings were visible on the walls, time had defaced them beyond any translation. One image remained visible: a ceramic mosaic that clearly showed an immense tower with a huge flame atop it.

They then left this part of the ruins and took the stone stairs near Chopper’s Isle down to the beach below to examine the base of the tower. The base of the tower rose out of the water, and waves broke against it. Strangely, while the rocks that jutted out of the breakers were covered with seaweed, mussels, and barnacles, the stone of the tower itself was eerily devoid of attached sealife. It also seemed far less eroded than one would imagine. Looking up at the tower, Larissa spotted a crack in the wall about 80 feet up that might just be wide enough for her to squeeze in. She attempted to free-climb the tower, but the stones were much smoother and were fitted more closely than she had reckoned, and the way up was too difficult. They returned to the street level of the ruins.

They re-entered the tower, and Larissa saw that the interior was much easier to climb than the exterior. She made it to the top of the tower, secured new ropes, and dropped them over the outside wall near the opening she’d seen below. MacGreggor climed up to watch, and she went down the rope and into the opening, pulling the end of the rope in behind her.

The opening was about six feet from a stone ceiling, with a jagged stone floor about 30 feet below her. The air inside was extremely foul. Looking up, she saw several hundred bats hanging upside-down from the ceiling, apparently asleep. Looking down, she saw two human skeletons sprawled directly below the opening, apparently people who had entered but not returned. The floor was strewn with guano-covered rubble. The room appeared to have originally been two different floors, and she surmised that the stone rubble on the floor was what remained of the floor and any interior walls. There were no obvious exits from the room, and Larissa had a bad feeling about the stability of either the floor or the ceiling, so she did not leave her perch in the opening. She did manage to see some Thassilonian inscriptions on the walls, including the passage “Behold the glory of Xin-Bakrakhan” and “Fear the [wrath? righteousness?] of Alaznist and her might.” Larissa took note of these inscriptions and climbed back up. She and MacGreggor then descended the tower and returned to town. It was just before noon by then.

Meanwhile, Declan went to the cathedral to assist with the dawn ritual of Sarenrae and to chat with Father Zantus. Declan asked Zantus if he had any idea as to why the goblins would want to rob the grave of the former priest, but Zantus had no idea. Declan asked if any part of the church had survived the fire, to which Zantus replied, “Nothing. Well, nothing except the standing stones, but they were there before that chapel was built.” He led Declan to a small grassy courtyard, in the center of which was a round stone altar surrounded by seven monoliths. All were made of polished basalt. The altar was unmarked by carvings, and each of the seven monoliths bore a single Thassilonian rune. When asked about the runes, Zantus replied, “I believe those were the Seven Virtues of Thassilon: wealth, fertility, self-assurance, abundance, self-improvement, righteousness, and rest. Obviously, this stone circle is of Thassilonian origin, and the native Varisians who lived here before the founding of Sandpoint used this as a place of worship. They had consecrated it to Desna specifically, and we later consecrated it to all of the deities that Desna counts as allies… including Sarenrae, of course.”

That evening, MacGreggor, Charrone, Larissa, Ted, Halfred, and Declan met at the Rusty Dragon for dinner, and there they met up with Aldern Foxglove. Aldern bought dinner again (albeit a much less-lavish affair than their previous meal together), and confirmed that they would all meet by the North Gate the following morning for the boar hunt.

Moonday 05 Rova 4707 A.R.

The weather didn’t bode particularly well for a hunt: the first cold winds of autumn blew through town on an overcast and muggy day, as drizzle spit from a slate-gray sky. Nevertheless, the group mounted the rented horses and took their boar spears in hand, and followed Aldern along the North Coast Road, eastward along the shore. At a crossroad about half a mile later, they took the much less-traveled Tickwood Road that runs between Tickwood Forest and Turandrok River. Unfortunately, the weather turned out to be an omen of what was to come.

About halfway through Tickwood, before the turnoff for the huntsman’s road that Aldern intended to take, the group was waylaid by a band of gobin raiders. Six goblins positioned in trees alongside the road let loose a volley of arrows, and two goblin spellcasters attempted to ensorcell the party. Halfred dismounted and charged one of the spellcasters, and Charrone charged the other on horseback. Both hit, and neither goblin spellcaster was able to cast a spell off that had any effect. Charonne and Aldern were hit by goblin arrows, but the group managed to take down four of the archers and both spellcasters before the remaining goblins fled. Examining the fallen goblins, Charrone discovered that the shaman was still alive, and announced that she would be taking him back to town as a prisoner: perhaps he would have more information about Friday’s attack on the town. Aldern tried to convince her to continue on the hunt, but was unsuccessful, and he reluctantly declared the hunt over to accompany her back to town, and the rest of the group followed suit.

Back in town, Charonne delivered the goblin to Sheriff Hemlock, who offered to let the party sit in on the interrogation once the goblin regained consciousness. The group then joined Aldern for a farewell dinner, as Aldern said he had business to attend back in Magnimar and would need to leave in the morning.

As dinner was starting to wind down, a local woman burst into the Rusty Dragon, with two young children in tow. Upon seeing the party, she ran up to them and exclaimed, “Thank Desna I’ve found you! We need your help! There’s a goblin in my son’s closet!”

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Local Heroes
Session 2

Fireday, 03 Rova, 4707A.R, sunset

After defeating the goblin riders and their henchmen, Charrone helped the villager hiding under the table to his feet. The young man was very well-dressed, albeit a bit dusty, and introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove, heir to the Foxglove Estate. “Thank you so much for coming to my aid! I believe I owe you a great debt of gratitude.” He then invited the group to join him for dinner at the Rusty Dragon later that evening.

The woman that Declan rescued in the alleyway introduced herself as Katrine Vindler. Katrine appeared to be about 18 years old, and was very attractive. She mentioned that her father owned the General Store. She seemed to be taken with Halfred, who was a bit dumbfounded by the attention she lavished on him. “Nice axe,” she said. “It’s so big, and you sure know how to use it. I hope we’ll be seeing more of each other.”

About that time, a guardsman rode by, stopped, and marveled at the litter of goblin corpses at the group’s feet. “You seem to know your way around a fight. Were you the ones who organized the firefighting brigade on Shell Street? That was fast thinking!” He asked the groups’ names, thanked them, and rode off.

By this time, the tide of he street battle turned, and the goblins remaining in town began a chaotic retreat. By this time, town guardsmen on horseback mopped up remaining pockets of fighting, and streams of goblins fled back toward the gates and bridges. A dozen or so of the goblins, chased by mounted guardsmen, jumped off the 60-foot Sandpoint Cliffs onto the jagged watery rocks below rather than face capture. Townsfolk put out the many small fires set by the little menaces, and assessed the damage. The casualties were: three townsfolk were dead, scores injured, and a large amount of minor property damage.

The group retired to the nearby White Deer Inn for drinks to wind down after the fight. Well-apportioned but a bit cold (and snooty), the inn had a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Varisia, and the sunset was lovely. After a couple of rounds, they checked the North Gate, which was by then well-secured, and then walked across town to the Rusty Dragon to take up Aldern on his invitation.

When the group entered, Aldern stood up and said “And here they are!” in a loud voice. A round of applause went up, and a round of drinks was passed. Aldern had already ordered a small feast: roasted beef, roasted fowl, bread, cheese, and a Tian-spiced vegetable stew. Ameiko Kaijitsu, the proprietor, came over and introduced herself, and Bethany, the head server, brought out more food and drinks.

Aldern was very interested in the party’s stories. Halfred told the tale of his family’s exile from Kalsgaard. Charrone said that she had recently retired from the Chelaxian military due to a difference in philosophy, and she’s still working on what was next. Ted told of his studies with the Cyphermages of Riddleport, and McGreggor compared notes on the ancient Thassilonians. Larissa spoke of her life in Magnimar, and Declan told of his personal tragedy at the hand of goblins. It turned out that Larissa and Halfred had once met in Magnimar, and both had crossed paths with Declan once or twice.

Aldern was a good conversationalist, and seemed to know quite a bit of what was going on in Magnimar and Riddleport, and was at least familiar with the situation in Korvosa. He said that his family estate was located about four miles to the south of Sandpoint, but had been unoccupied for many years and had fallen into disrepair before he inherited it. He said that had spent about half a year renovating his estate, and had been quite pleased with progress, but lost heart when his dear wife was lost at sea a few months ago, and renovations have stopped for the present time.

Mid-way through the meal, Aldern gave each member of the group a pouch with 50 gp, “as a token of my appreciation. Please don’t think it crass.” He then mentioned that he planned to leave Sandpoint on Tuesday, but thought that going on a boar hunt would be great fun, and invited the group to do so on Monday. The group agreed, and Aldern said that he’d make all arrangements.

Aldern also seemed to be very interested in Charrone. “May I ask why a lady of your grace and bearing took up the sword?” he asked once. Later, he said, “You have such a noble heart. Your spirit reminds me of my late wife Iesha, who was lost at sea.” Aldern’s demeanor was rather fawning, and it grew a bit tiresome as the night wore on. Eventually, he retired, as did the rest of the group.

The next day was spent exploring the town. Charrone went to visit Sheriff Hemlock at his office in the garrison. He thanked her for helping out, and said that the goblins they captured didn’t have much information. He mentioned a few things about the raid:

—While the main force attacked the town, a smaller force of goblins sneaked into the graveyard and desecrated the grave and exhumed the body of Father Tobyn, the former town curate who had perished in the Sandpoint Fire of ‘06. He has no idea why, but he asked to keep this bit of info quiet, as he doesn’t want to upset the townsfolk any more than they are.

—Goblins, while a menace, have never tried anything this big before. “Goblins are both notoriously poor planners and inherently lazy, which usually precludes then from doing anything that requires a group effort.” He suspects that something or someone is organizing them.

—One thing he did get out of the goblins was mention of the “the chief and the ‘longshanks.’” He’s not sure what a “longshanks” is, but it’s definitely non-goblin. Hemlock said that he knows a local ranger that usually keeps an eye on the goblins, and that he’d send word to her.

—The actions of the party had been noticed by the townsfolk, and their presence in town seems to be reassuring. Hemlock asked if they could stick around a few days, just to help keep things calm.

Charrone agreed, and thanked the sheriff for his time.

Meanwhile, Katrine approached Halfred over lunch, and asked if he could come back to the store with her to help her get rid of some rats in the cellar. Halfred went with her, and while he saw no rats in the basement, he did see a cot. When he turned to ask Katrine where the rats were, he was pleasantly surprised to see that she had removed her bodice. “I feel distressed. Are you a real hero?” Unfortunately for Halfred, before things with Katrine progressed too far, her father happened to walk into the room. Ven Vindler was not happy to see the new handsome stranger in town engaged in a half-naked embrace with his youngest daughter. “Um…we were hunting… for… rats…” stammered Halfred. “Oh, I’m looking at a big rat right now. GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY DAUGHTER!!!” Before things got ugly, Halfred gathered his clothes and ran out of there.

The rest of the group explored the town. Several shopkeepers handed out free samples or offered discounts to them, and several people that they had never met already knew their names. The rest of the day passed uneventfully.

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The Swallowtail Festival
Session 1

Fireday, 02 Rova, 4707, Absalom Reckoning (AR)

Our story begins in the town of Sandpoint, in the land of Varisia, on the day of the annual Swallowtail Festival. The festival is held the first Fireday of the month of Rova, and it honors the goddess Desna, goddess of dreams and travelers, who is perhaps the most popular deity in the region.

The festival got off to a great start about two hours before noon. Kendra Deverin gave a rousing speech about the progress made in town. Belor Hemlock gave some gruff advice to have fun but stay out of trouble. Cydrak Drokkus, owner of the Sandpoint Theatre and a skilled showman, gave a light-hearted and joke-filled speech during which he shamelessly plugged the opening of a new production of “The Harpy’s Curse.” And Brother Zantus, curate of Sandpoint, thanked everyone in town for their support in construction of the new cathedral building, and invited everyone back at sunset for the consecration ceremony.

Church Square was filled with temporary vendors’ stalls, selling many different things, like pastries and fruit, live animals, herbs, weapons and armor, magical items of dubious quality, and exotic curios from as far away as Tian Xia and Quadira. There were musicians, jugglers, and fortune-tellers. There were games of chance and skill. And the weather was a little on the warm side for September, but otherwise perfect: sunny with a light breeze.

At noon was the Swallowtail Ceremony: a wagon bearing a large covered bell-shaped object was wheeled before the cathedral. Most of the town’s children gathered around it. Father Zantus retold the story of how Desna once fell to earth and was aided by a blind orphaned child, whom she transformed into an immortal butterfly as a reward. At the story’s conclusion. Zantus removed the cover to reveal a huge birdcage filled with hundreds of Blue Swallowtail butterflies, the sacred creature of Desna. With a flourish, he threw open the top of the cage, releasing them, and a spectacular iridescent fluttering cloud spread over the festival, to the delight of young and old.

After the Swallowtail Ceremony, all of the taverns in town provided a free lunch in an unofficial contest. Garridan Vislanki, owner of the White Deer Inn, served up roast venison with onions. One-legged Jargle Quinn of the Hagfish served up seafood chowder and brown bread. Venerable sorceress Risa Magravi held court at her tavern Risa’s Place, as her son Besk and his wife served up her famous spiced potatoes. Cracktooth the half-orc was giving away free rounds of ale at his eponymous tavern. Even Gressel Tenniwar, the shifty half-Sczarni operator of the Fatman’s Feedbag (the roughest bar in town) got into the act with a vat of chicken soup. But the crowd favorite for three years running was Ameiko Kaijitsu, owner of the Rusty Dragon, for her Tian-style curried salmon.

At sunset, acolytes set off three thunderstones to gather the crowd back at Church Square for the dedication ceremony. A hush fell over the crows as Brother Zantus began his speech. However, just as he spoke the opening lines, a woman’s scream of terror cut through the crowd, followed by another, farther off. A dog growled and barked, then yelped in pain, staggered into the square and collapsed with a gurgle, blood gushing from its neck. Small dark shapes darted about, giggling with inhuman glee, and started to sing a strange song in shrill, scratchy voices.

A shout of “Goblins!” went up, and the crowd panicked. Most of the people in Church Square ran for the safety of the cathedral or other nearby buildings. There were few town guardsmen in the square, but six out-of-town strangers stood their ground and attacked. The paladin Charrone Genteur of Kintargo drew her sword, and the Ulfen warrior Halfred Egilson swung his greataxe at the little menaces, separating more than one goblin’s head from its shoulders. Declan Fintane, priest of Sarenrae joined the action, as did the archer Larissa the Swift, up from Magnimar. McGreggor the wizard hurled his enchanted returning quarterstaff at one, and the transmuter Ted Waters cast a spell causing Halfred to grow to nine feet tall. The six heroes made short work of the goblins in the square.

Before they could catch their breath, the heroes saw another group of goblins set two wagons of firewood alight. They ran over to attack them too. This group of goblins included two spellcasters, one of which managed to briefly incapacitate Halfred with a bout of uncontrollable laughter. Still, the goblins were no match. Ted organized townsfolk to put out the fire before any buildings caught.

As they fought the fire, there was chaos in the streets. Goblins ran amok, snatching food and valuables, breaking windows, setting fires, and terrorizing the townsfolk. The sounds of a fight and a barking dog caught the heroes’ attention, and after the fire was under control, they investigated.

Two goblins riding large mangy rat-like dogs were fighting a guard dog, as its owner sought refuge under an oak table. Five other goblins watched, as one of the riders slew the dog. In a nearby alleyway, a young woman struggled with a goblin as well. The heroes managed to dispatch the goblins and rescued both of the villagers.

By then, the tide of battle had turned, and the goblins were streaming back north in an unorganized retreat. The man under the table thanked the party, and introduced himself as Aldern Foxglove.

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The Pre-Game Session
Session 0

We had the first meeting of the Pathfinder-Ravenloft game last night. The session was for character-generation, answering questions, and to test-drive our map server software for our remote players.

Technology: We will be using MapTool as our map server. This is a very slick piece of open-source software that allows everyone, both physically present and connecting remotely, to look at and manipulate counters on the same virtual map. We’ve been using iChat for video conferencing for the last game, but pointing the camera at the battle mat wasn’t a great solution.

I’m setting up a two-laptop solution: I’m running the GM view from my laptop, and a second laptop with external monitor shows the players’ view and the video chat.

The test-drive had some rough patches: the remote players weren’t able to connect to the server due to a router problem which we weren’t able to solve. For that and other reasons, we’re changing the venue next week and moving forward to my house.

Characters: Characters aren’t yet etched in stone, and none are yet named, but here are the outlines so far:

Dan will be playing a male human ranger from the Northlands. He’s specialized in two-handed weapon style.

JP will be playing a human male wizard (transmuter) who has been studying at Cryptic College in Riddleport. He’s in Sandpoint ostensibly to study some ancient Thassalonian ruins, but he may be there mainly for the big party.

Eric will be playing a human cleric of Iomedae or possibly Sarenrae.

Mark has chosen to play a human male wizard (universalist). He has chosen to have a bonded object (staff) rather than a familiar. He is really in town to study the ruins.

Laurie will be a paladin of Iomedae.

Scott will run a human female rogue, and will be taking the sniper alternate rogue build.

For next week: The adventure begins!

I have asked all the players to finalize their characters and to please read the “Players Background” document I wrote.

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The Setting: The Town of Sandpoint

The campaign begins in the sleepy seaside town of Sandpoint, in the land of Varisia.

Sandpoint was founded about 50 years ago by a league of merchants from the city-state of Magnimar, which lies about 70 miles to the southwest. The guild found a perfect natural harbor that was uninhabited by civilized people, and sent a force in to subdue the local humanoids (mostly goblins). Unfortunately, there were a band of Varisians (a human people native to the area) that had settled in the same land, but they were little match for the Guild’s forces. Reluctantly, they allowed the newcomers to take over.

Despite the blood that was shed at its founding, Sandpoint today is a peaceful and close-knit community. Its population currently stands at about 1300, and is growing. It boasts a playhouse, a museum, a school, and a newly-constructed cathedral. The largest attraction is the ruined 200-foot-tall tower called the Sandpoint Light, which has stood for thousands of years. Assumed to be a lighthouse, no one is really sure what purpose it served, but it is one of many massive monuments built by the long-vanished Thassaloninan Empire. One thing that is known about the Sandpoint Light is that it was originally at least twice as tall as it is today.

Not beset by the forces of marauders like a true frontier town, nor the hotbed of intrigue and/or crime of a large city, Sandpoint is one of the few truly peaceful places in the land of Varisia. However, Sandpoint has seen its share of troubles, known to the locals as the Late Unpleasantness. Five years ago, the town was terrorized by a serial murderer known as The Chopper, who killed more than a dozen of people in town over a period of months. The Chopper’s reign of terror finally ended in a melee with the town sheriff, who killed the murderer, but was also mortally wounded in the fight. The Chopper was revealed to be Jervis Stoot, a local eccentric woodcarver of great renown. Not a month after The Chopper was slain, a fire broke out in the temple which spread to engulf a fifth of the town. Thankfully, only a handful died in the Sandpoint Fire, but the dead included the town priest and his daughter.

With the Late Unpleasantness behind them, the townsfolk are looking forward to this year’s Swallowtail Festival (a late summer holiday), which will include the official dedication of the new Sandpoint Cathedral. Among the celebrants gathered for the Swallowtail Festival are a number of new adventurers…

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Welcome to our campaign!

Call me Haladir.

I’m a long-time tabletop role-playing gamer. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1982 with the “Red Book” Basic D&D box set, and I’ve been playing ever since. I’ve been playing third-edition D&D since it hit the market in 2000, and we immediately switched to 3.5 when that hit the shelves in 2003.

My gaming group and I were just not very keen on 4th edition D&D, feeling that it abandoned too much of the original feel of D&D, so we’ve been continuing with 3.5. However, we’ve decided that it’s time to revise the rules again, so we’re moving on to Pathfinder.

As another change of pace, I volunteered to run our game as a fantasy horror game. I’ve always loved the original 1985 Castle Ravenloft 1st-edition module, so we decided to run the expanded 2006 “Expedition to Castle Ravenloft” 3.5 minicampaign.

Converting a 200+ page module into a similar but just-different-enough-to-be-annoying game system is proving to be a bit more daunting than I’d originally planned. I am also placing it in the Pathfinder RPG official campaign world, so there’s that part of the conversion to deal with as well. Nevertheless, I am confident that this will be a fun game when we start. Because we’re all new to Pathfinder RPG, I’ll be starting the characters at first level. To get our feet wet, I am also modifying the first two modules of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Rise of the Runelords to get the campaign started. We are starting with the adventure “Burnt Offerings.”

This blog will serve as the campaign log for my players, but is also open to other gamers who might be interested in what we’re doing. For that reason, I am going to keep the technical aspects of the conversion to a minimum.

So, welcome all! I think this may be a very interesting trip!

(Note: This info was first posted at the original campaign blog: http://thewatcherofthemist.blogspot.com)

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