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Finally Getting a Chance to Show My Skills!: Session 9
Surviving the Rapids: As the rapids pulled us all down the river, I had a flashback to the time when my dad ‘taught’ me how to swim. He threw me off our boat in the middle of a lake and told me to get back to shore. The lake wasn’t too big, just about 700-800 meters to shore. I flailed about hopelessly until I figured out how to keep afloat. Then it was just a long, grueling crawl back to shore. Of course, my dad wasn’t one to do things like that without a reward, so once I got back, he said the boat was mine. He was an unorthodox teacher to say the least, but I learned a lot from him. Now though, I wasn’t in a calm lake. Still, I mustered up all I had and managed to stay afloat. I was tiring out quickly though. I thought of the others. Tirondel had, no doubt, learned to swim on one of his supposedly great adventures. In fact, I could hear him yelling cheesy lines, so I was sure he was doing fine. Ivan, on the other hand, would be weighed down by all his guns and ammo, and I doubt he knew how to swim. Snowy would probably be panicking. I would be amazed if he had managed to stay afloat up til now. Just as I was running out of strength and ready to just stop moving and let the current take me, the river turned and we were pushed out of the river and onto the shore. I stayed down for a bit, catching my breath. Then I stood up and assessed the situation. Of course, Tirondel was fine. Thomdril and Anssi looked fine too. Snowy had his eyes open, but wasn’t moving. Still, he seemed fine, just shocked. Ivan and Tam were unconscious. We decided to wait for them to wake up before we pressed onwards, and Anssi was still hurt from the fall from earlier, so we decided to give them all time to recover. We rested for the day, waiting for Ivan and Tam to wake up (Ivan was angry because a lot of his gunpowder was ruined by the water) and for Anssi to heal up. When Ivan woke up, I offered him some healing. He was either too tired or too trusting to care, so he said yes. I used my amazing healing techniques that I had picked up, like everything, from my dad, and he seemed to perk up a bit. He told me that it hurt even more, but I assured him that if he just lay down a while (it could take a couple days at most) he would heal up. Then Tirondel told us that as we were in the river, he had seen monsters along the sides, commanded by humanoids in a floating wheelless wagon. We slept and then we set off.
Getting Going Again: We went through the woods on our way to Gromshold (which was between us and King’s Port) and we camped out. Tirondel got us some food, though we were still running low on rations, and I made a makeshift portable camoflaging wall out of leaves and sticks. We got a good night’s sleep with no incident, and woke to find everyone healed and ready to go. We walked for a long time, with Tirondel running ahead for no apparent reason, until we saw Gromshold start to come into view. Tirondel came running back and told us that he had seen nobody in Gromshold, and that he had seen a strange black chitoney substance on a guard tower close to the side of Gromshold that we were heading towards. Not wanting to waste time or seeing a need to figure out what was going on, I started walking towards it. It sounded like we would finally get to fight something, and I couldn’t wait. The others followed me, Snowy igniting his mace with, I assumed, some kind of holy magic and Tirondel, as usual, deciding to be as unhelpful as possible, started dropping back sneakily. He said something and I yelled at him to speak up or come up with us. He did neither, so I put him out of my mind and continued forward.
Fighting Things!: When we got close to the tower, I saw a few creatures at the top of the guard tower, looking out at us. I was just able to register that they didn’t look very human right before one of them jumped off the tower and landed right in front of me. I immediately slashed at it. It was a clean hit, but it didn’t seem to do much damage. Then it swiped at me but I easily brushed it off. In my peripheral vision, I saw another one of the creatures jump over me and land near the others (except for Tirondel), who all teamed up on it. I slashed at mine once more and this time, I got through its tough hide and it went down. I turned around to see a third one that had challenged Thomdril be easily dispatched by his huge axe (not as big as mine though) and Tirondel, true to form, stole the kill on the one that the others had teamed up on. It looked like there were no others, so we decided to relax for a bit, though Tirondel immediately went off to check out the town.
Bad Food: Ivan suggested to me that we try cooking the meat of the creatures that Tirondel identified as scourge, which sounded great. We cooked it up and tried it. It was worse than most things I had had before, and I tried to keep it down to no avail. I threw it up and Ivan, while being able to keep it down, looked like he regretted his decision to eat it. I convinced Snowy to try it too, and Thomdril joined in because everyone else (except for Tam) was. When Tirondel got back, I asked him to try some too. He did and while he was able to keep it down, he also admitted that it was one of the worst things he had eaten in his life, though he said it was better than drake meat at least. We all went off to do our own things, and I took some of the meat and tried to smoke it in the guard tower (under the guise of ‘investigating it’, because Tirondel wanted us to do some work). Unfortunately, it tasted just as bad. Maybe we could poison our enemies by making them eat it! We all met up again at the drawbridge, ready to continue our journey to King’s Port.
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Epic!
The Need for Strategy


The Gay Frogs have acquitted ourselves well, and I am proud of the work we have done. We fulfilled our mission. In the process, we have also brought men who sowed chaos to justice. As a result, our payment was not as promised, but instead, the ownership of the Inn of the Gay Frogs. Ultimately, I’m not clear how or why this happened, but as long as we remain a cohesive group, it would appear that we have a base of operations. On the one hand, it is nice to once again have roots and a place which I may call a home. On the other, we are making rather powerful enemies who may wish reprisal, and we are literally advertising our home location.

If we were at my home in the Monastery of Bian Fu near the FeyWild, I would be comfortable in the power of the Masters to repel any attacks. But the Gay Frogs, though growing more powerful, are still novices, and may not be prepared for possible onslaughts as we disrupt the power structure here in Waterdeep.

As Sensei Bri-an would tell me constantly, “The best offense is a good defense.” Having been together for such a short time, I don’t know that the Gay Frog Alliance have a cohesive sense of strategy. And as the great master Sun Tzu tells us, “Tactics without a strategy is simply the noise before defeat.”

With only the one goal for our inaugural adventure as a group, we didn’t really need to think strategically. But now that it looks as though we are going to continue on the path together, we should consider where that path may lead. Knowing where we may go and having some idea as to what our potential antagonists’ methods may be would certainly help us to prepare working tactics that will serve to keep us alive at the least, and help us to secure the goals of our strategy if all works out well.

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Firelight
There always seems to be a daughter, and a daughter-of-a-daughter, in all of these “Caer” settlements. Blair sits in a dim corner, barely lit by the flicker of communal firelight, and ponders the future, once she has left her body for another realm. She leafs through the pages of her worn poetic journal. Blair has no desire for children, but hopes that somehow this book will survive when she is gone. She imagines a novice picking it up, reading of the brave Winter’s Bane, filled with wonder of the power of Gwydion. Will this future young cleric discover the simple trick, known by many children, of holding the pages near a candle flame to reveal spells scrawled in the margins by a quill dipped in onion juice? She holds the journal to her nose, it does smell faintly of onion, a wonderful familiar odor of home and kitchen and winter soup.

As her fingers stroke the journal in this warm place filled with family, she begins to form a new spell in her mind. She feels sure it will help protect the party encamped in a dangerous landscape. The spell is called “Safe Haven.”

She is a little lightheaded from the ale, which surely affects the wording, and she chuckles to think of finding an onion in the root cellar tomorrow, so that she may scratch the new spell into the pages of her journal.

Encamped out here in open spaces
This spell obscures our fires and faces
You will not see our socks and boots
For here lie only rocks and roots

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Mitch
Posted in Flameweaver
From A Desk
I’m writing all this here to make sense of things, but in spite of that none of it makes any sense.

No one’s been right since that dream. It isn’t showing on everyone unless you know what to look for. Mistmi’s hand hesitates before pressing against the trigger of her weapon. Pearl’s legs and shoulders have adopted a permanent sense of tension, as if she’s ready to bolt any second. Orn moves and looks like he’s carrying an invisible weight as big as that dragon we saw just before the end. For the life of me I don’t know what to do about Roshim.

I don’t know if he’s ever taken the life of another person before now. What do I say to him about that? Don’t do that thing that’s guaranteed to remove bad people from the world? I don’t get to throw that stone. Not now, not ever. The number of dead in my wake is enough to bury me if I ever pull that sanctimonious card, and if I try I deserve to be crushed under them. We’re a mess right now, and with everything that’s happening we can’t afford to be. Too much rides on our decisions.

Do we even have a right to be shaping the power dynamics of an entire race? Do we understand what will happen if we’re wrong? Are there even right choices for this, or is it just a matter of putting the most amenable breeds at the top or hoping for the best? Is there a best? I have to believe for the most part that giants are little more than giant people, and people aren’t so easily lumped together. History has proven that much at least.

Whatever we do and however we choose to go about this won’t be the end of things. Our choices will have, HAVE had consequences. We’re being watched by bigger and bigger players in this game, and there’s not much to be done about that.

I’m not cut out for this. Them? The others? They can do this. It’ll be hard and it will force them to make tough choices along the way, but me? That’s not me. I’m just a con man, here and gone in a day or two with as much coin as I can swindle from people that are better than me.

No. No, no… I think I can fix this.

[At this point the flow of the writing changes, as if the page was left and then returned to.]

Yeah. Yeah, I think I can fix this!

I’ve spent a lot of time watching them, I have notes on how to bring each of them down if I need to… but it works in reverse as well! If I can recognize the signs, look for the tells that indicate problems I can help them to shore up those areas!

Alright, this can work. This HAS to work. No one would be trying to tear us down in our sleep like this if we didn’t stand a chance of success to begin with. I’m going to watch them, without them knowing it if I can manage. For this to be effective it’ll have to be that way. They can be mad at me for prying later, in the meantime I can help them to keep themselves alive.

I’ll record what I can on each person as I discover it, in the meantime I have work to do.
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Law
Posted by the GM
Sunless Lands
Session 4 Notes
PARTY MEMBERS

Samuel - Hu F5 (Jer)
Marikus - Hu F6 (David)
Simon - Hu Nec5 (Dustin)
Liam - Hu Cav7 (Law)

Geoff - Hu Pr4 (NPC)
Halil - Elf Pr6 (NPC)


NOTES

In the morning, during the last watch from the previous day, Geoff encounters a wandering human "scholar." He alerts the rest of the party and a parley ensues. The scholar introduces himself as Simon and states that he happened upon the ruined temple the party was currently clearing of cultists. Though wary of him, the party allows him to join. “Shockingly,” the party soon discovers that the scholar is some flavor of wizard.

Once rested, the heroes make quick work of finishing off the remaining temple cultists. The treasury room is found to be located behind the secret door in the temple’s entryway and in a room adjoining the idol throne room. Its contents include a large amount of coin, healing potions, books, finely crafted jewelery and apparel, and a large ornate tome weighing over 50 lbs. Simon deciphers the name "Hastur" in the tome’s title - believed to be the ancient otherworldly power the cultists venerate. Each time the name is spoken, the evil emanating from the idol seems to grow.

Liam and Samuel make their way back into the idol room. Steeling themselves against the magic of the idol seated upon its throne, magic that tries to keep them at bay, they make their way behind the idol, positioning themselves between it and the wall. Pushing with all of their combined might, the idol topples forward and crumbles under its own weight after impacting the floor below.

From there, the last few rooms are explored. A handful of the evil priesthood remained to be dispatched, as well as two demons serving as the “chef" and his aide in the kitchen.

Treasure for the party, as well as the tome and books retrieved for Kriel, are packed for the return to Bolden. The trek was uneventful. The party finished their business with Kriel and then headed to the local inn for a much needed rest and repast.

Not long was the party into their rest before the head of the local constabulary arrived. He expressed his concern that the treasure found in the temple belonged to those in the area that went missing and should be returned. He stated that 25% of all coin found and any items recognizable as belonging to those who went missing would be a fair share for the families affected by the disappearances. The party agreed and the treasure was divided with the townsfolk.

The following day Liam and the others left for their home city, arriving after 2 weeks of (thankfully) uneventful travel. The first order of business was the settling of contracts made to undertake the quests for the missing nobles and the missing townsfolk. Then treasure was sold for coin and divided. Geoff wished the heroes good fortune and returned to his temple.

With their newly acquired coin, Liam and Samuel had the city's finest armorer fit them each with Heide full plate and field plate respectively. The production of each required daily fittings and 16 month's time. Another two months was required for the construction Heide steel weapons commissioned after approximately 12 months in the city.

During this time, Samuel and Marikus decided to rent rooms in Liam's home. Marikus spent 6 months working for the city's guard and Samuel was paid to protect a local ale house; Simon began performing work for the city's mage guild; all the while, Liam occupied himself with matters concerning his noble station.

Now nearly one and a half years since the party's return to the city, with winter newly setting in, the party was approached separately by the servants of a seemingly powerful patron in the city that was offering the group 1,000 gp just to listen to an offer of employment. All accepted.

In a lavish home of a magical nature, the master of the house struck a deal with the PCs. In exchange for a magic item which each member negotiated for, the party would be sent to a distant land (likely on another plane) to obtain the battle plans from the command tent of one side of two opposing forces. The battle has been ongoing for ages and the numbers of both sides are extremely low from attrition. Reinforcements are not expected for a few months. Magic transport to the land will be provided by the employer. The opposing forces were described as “minor horrors” and the party was warned to neither eat nor drink anything they find there.

The party hastily equipped themselves for the trip. Realizing a healer would be needed, Liam returned to the temple of Lady Anguish and inquired if Geoff would again be available for employment. He was informed that Geoff had undertaken a pilgrimage but another priest, an elven maiden by the name of Halil, was willing to travel with the party if certain considerations could be met. She agreed to provide healing and spell support, including using her divine magic to provide food and water to the group, in exchange for 400 gp and any priestly magic items found. After being informed that another priest may meet up with the party for the quest, she agreed to splitting these items with him (should he show) but would have the first choice of the items found.

Returning to their employer's home, the party was escorted to a magical portal. Passing through it into a thick cottony blackness, they came out on the other side into a gray land devoid of any color. As instructed by their employer, they traveled to the nearby river and took passage on a boat to the site of the battle. Time passed strangely on the river. All experienced its passing at different rates, unsure if it had been hours, days, weeks, or even months, though little food was consumed.

Dropped at their destination, they found a large battle field, its dimensions difficult to judge. Enemy camps had been erected on opposing sides, each located on similar bluffs overlooking the field.

The group moved to inspect the closest of the two camps...
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