Thursday, 24 September 2015

[Actual Play] Cruth Lowlands Campaign: Session 2 - The Debacle at the Riverside

The second session of the Cruth Lowlands Campaign took place earlier today. For a recap of the first session, see here.

  • Jason, playing Mixahâm Straji, a 1st level magic user
  • Patrice, playing Marm Jo'a, a 2nd level cleric
  • Luke, playing Andy, a 2nd level fighter
  • Brian, playing Core, a 1st level dwarf
The PCs began the session back in Riverfork with a considerable amount of cash in their possession and nowhere to put it. For a while they discussed burying it, or taking it back to the caves around the Achelos Fort; all they were sure about was that they didn't want to give it to any bankers. Eventually they bought a wagon and some mules to carry it all around with them, with a rough plan of making it to Luln where they thought there was a merchant's guild who could take care of it. They also kitted themselves out with better armour, and bought long swords for the three river bandits they had recruited, but they decided not to arm their hirelings any better in case there was a revolt. One of the hirelings, Eusebius, seemed to have set himself up as a kind of shop steward to represent the hirelings' interests, and the PCs were keen to keep the hirelings as weak as possible.

Mixahâm went to the Guild of Sages with his killer frog innards and was given a recipe by a sage called Iappas for a magic potion that could be made from the frog's liver. He also agreed to give Mixahâm further recipes in future if he agreed to share any rare animal organs he found. Mixahâm went away and brewed up three potions of something mysterious.

There was some discussion of going back to the tunnels around Achelos Fort, but ultimately the players plumped for going to the Temple of the Elements, where the monk Milos had previously made a job offer. Milos met them and offered to pay them to destroy a newly re-inhabited shrine to the old God, Cronus, which the priests at the temple could "feel" was nearby. After some haggling the PCs were offered 250 gp per person for finding the shrine, plus 3000 gp shared between them if they destroyed it. Milos also said they could rely on the Temple of Elements for healing their ailments in future if they carried out the mission.

The PCs agreed and headed off to the village of Lithakia, which they were informed might have followers of Cronus present. There they discovered the villagers kept a herd of wild boar as guards (which were categorically not for sale) and that there was a small temple to the god Apollo. They also heard tell of a famous hunter called Anacreon, who they found in the forests nearby. They asked Anacreon if he knew anything about Cronus (definitely not) and asked if there were any ancient shrines nearby. He took them to a few caves on a river bank which he said had housed a shrine in days past. The river was 10 yards wide and at the bottom of a rocky cleft or ravine about 10 feet deep; the caves were on the opposite side.

Convinced they had found their goal, the PCs headed back to Lithakia. They were suspicious that the villagers may be Cronus-worshipers, in cahoots with whoever was at the river shrine. Marm, as a cleric, was appointed spokesman and went to talk to the local priest, a man called Spyridon. Marm attempted to bluff Spyridon into giving away information by pretending to be a servant of Cronus himself. He quickly ascertained that the villagers were definitely not Apollo worshipers and that Spyridon was a priest of Cronus in secret. Spyridon said that he would trust Marm if, after dark, he partook in a ritual. This turned out to involve taking a sickle and carving an hourglass shape into his own chest. Marm took the sickle and, instead, cut Spyridon's throat. He then ransacked the village shrine and discovered strange spices, silk, and furs. 

Cleaning up all the blood and covering himself in silk and furs, Marm went back to meet the others and told them that they would have to leave early in the morning, pretty sharpish. He, Core and Mixahâm then decided to try to set light to some of the spices they had found in the temple and breathe in the smoke. This turned out to cause strange hallucinations. Mixahâm successfully saved against magic and Core simply hallucinated that he was a child, but Marm had a hideous vision of being sucked away from his body to meet a coloured snake, who commanded him to kill Sir Iannis, the ruler of Riverfork. This turned out to be a Geas, and Marm would die within d4 weeks if he did not carry out the quest. 

The next day dawned and the PCs headed back to the river shrine with Marm seemingly distracted and morose, and Core gibbering on enthusiastically and childishly. At the river, Andy clambered down with a raft the PCs had bought the previous day from the villagers in an effort to swim across. He was immediately showered with arrows from the caves on the opposite side and fled back to the others with a flesh wound. 

The PCs were now sure they had found the Cronus shrine but had to come up with a plan. After a protracted discussion it was agreed that one group would chop down a tree and use it as a bridge to get to the other side of the river and then abseil down into the caves from above. Another group, the amphibious assault team, would head upstream for a bit and then swim down to attack the caves simultaneously. The river bandits and Marm volunteered for this mission.

Meanwhile Mixahâm did some scouting downstream and drank one of his mystery magic potions. This turned out to be a climbing potion, turning his fingers into sucker pads. [This was entirely through luck: we rolled for the magic effect at the time the potion was created, but I didn't tell him what it would be until he drank it.] He used this to climb, spider-man-like, around the cliffs, and discovered another cave - but this contained a lookout who quickly ran deeper into the tunnels.

Before the tree chopping could really begin, Core heard some commotion coming from the forest behind them. The PCs immediately realised that this would be the villagers of Lithakia, who would by now surely have discovered Spyridon's corpse. Realising they were in serious trouble, they eventually fled behind a vast firestorm they created with flaming oil - but not before Core was almost killed by more arrows after trying to storm the caves one last time.

They regrouped at Riverfork feeling pretty sorry for themselves. At this point Marm decided to tell the others about his vision and the Geas quest to kill Sir Iannis. They knew that Sir Iannis had at least 200 men-at-arms in his keep, plus a dozen knights and at least one magic-user, so they knew this was likely to be a suicide mission. But they reasoned that they may have a week or two in which to plan for this. Asking around, they discovered that in a week's time a tournament was due to be held in the Black Eagle Barony to the South, and thought that this might be an opportunity to get a shot at killing Sir Iannis.

Thus ended the session. Another enjoyable one even if the PCs suffered quite a set-back. They are getting to know more of the local actors, and there was some good role playing too. I'll be interested to see if they can pull off destroying the Cronus shrine, and what will happen with Marm's Geas. Patrice was pretty unlucky with that. As soon as the players made the decision to 'smoke' Spyridon's spices I decided it was an opportunity to use the Yoon-Suin hallcinogen table, and Patrice just rolled really badly on it. But it should prove to be nothing if not an interesting development... 


  1. I can't wait to see how they tackle the assassination of Sir Iannis!

  2. Did you mean LUCKY to roll the geas?! Sure the PC was unlucky but this is awesome for the game out of character. Love it. Also it is a suitably gonzo consequence of the rather amusing but ill-advised decision to get high on the spices. Having a lot of fun reading this and looking forward to starting running something similar when I get home from my travels. Thanks for the inspiration!