"The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

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Terisonen
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Terisonen » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:35 pm

Oops my frenchy way of english has betrayed me.

I would say this kind of nasty persons are likely to be approached by shadow agents... :mrgreen:
Last edited by Terisonen on Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by gsecaur » Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:58 pm

Terisonen, I knew from your previous posts that English is not your first language, but like Otaku I could not figure out what that meant.

Makes a lot more sense now! Merci de votre opinion!

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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Otaku-sempai » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:30 am

Terisonen wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:35 pm
Oops my frenchy way of english has betrayed me.

I would say this kind of nasty persons are likely to be appraoched by shadow agents... :mrgreen:
Thanks for the clarification. I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable by asking about it.
DR. MANHATTAN: I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated.
OZYMANDIAS: But you'd regained interest in human life...
DR. MANHATTAN: Yes, I have. I think perhaps I'll create some. Goodbye, Adrian.

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Terisonen
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Terisonen » Thu Aug 03, 2017 10:39 am

Absolutly no problem. It make my english better. So thank you very much :P
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gsecaur
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by gsecaur » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:24 pm

Here's the second session of our campaign. Again, this is the write-up I emailed to the players so it recaps everything in detail, and may be too long for some readers' tastes. Naturally, it also includes spoilers, this time for Rich Harrison's "To Journey's End & the Eagles' Eyrie".

Session 2: To Journey's End (part one) (March 28, T.A. 2946)

The characters:
Caranthir, an Elf of Mirkwood, Slayer
Gerold, a Man of Woodmen-town, Warden
Gylfir, a Man of the Beornings, Warden
Nali, a Dwarf of Erebor, Wanderer
Will, a Hobbit of Buckland, Wanderer

Two weeks following the party's return from their escort of the merchant Baldor and little Belgo to King Thranduil's Halls, they have been reunited with another old friend, Willhald "Will" Hayward (of the Newbury Haywards). Will had first left the Shire -- inspired by the example of his maternal aunt's nephew, Bilbo Baggins -- working as the cook for a group of traveling Dwarves which included Nali, and he had later made the acquaintance of Gylfir while passing through Beorning territory. He is a stout wee fellow, with a bright and merry spirit.

Gylfir, meanwhile, has a mission to complete for Beorn: to meet with and assess the quality of the new Master of Lake-town, Omund, son of Lomund. The old Master was a venal man who'd absconded with much of Esgaroth's treasury, after King Bard transferred a great deal of Smaug's hoard to the people of Lake-town in order to help pay for rebuilding the city. They'd managed to rebuild after all, but the Master had vanished into the wilderness with wealth that was not intended for him. Beorn would only begin trading with Lake-town if the new Master proved to be a better, more trustworthy man. Gylfir has brought a gift from Beorn, a wooden pot of sweet honey, carved around the outside with an image of the flowing Anduin and people living along its banks.

Master Omund is quite friendly to Gylfir, and they chat about the fortunes of the new town, and the fact that Dale has become the new center of trading in the North, leaving Esgaroth struggling to reestablish its importance. This seems to trouble the Master. They also talk about the presence of Easterlings in the city -- Gylfir has observed that the people of Lake-town seem not to trust these foreigners, but to tolerate them nonetheless, as a town eager for trade cannot turn away willing partners. This is interpreted as a mixed sign for Beorn's interests -- if Esgaroth is desperate for custom, perhaps better terms can be negotiated for the Beornings, but their desperation could also lead to the Lake-men trading with more wicked partners.

Ultimately, although Gylfir struggles with polite conversation and finds himself unsure how to relate to city folk, he doesn't do or say anything disastrous and manages to make an acceptable impression on Master Omund. He determines that the new Master is sincere in his desire to do good for the people of Esgaroth, but that there is something else driving him, something which Gylfir can not put his finger on. He believes that Master Omund would be an honest trading partner, and that his self-interest does not override his sense of public service. (This was handled as a full Encounter between Gylfir and the Master, capped off by an Insight roll, on which the player produced a Great Success. Had he gotten an Extraordinary Success, I would have allowed him to figure out the Master's "secret" motivation, which isn't as sinister as that sounds.)

The Master is pleased enough to present a gift for Beorn, a small, intricate carving of a wooden boat, trimmed with gold and bearing little wooden men sitting at the oars (worth 5 Treasure). He also presents a small gift to Gylfir, a silver pin (worth 1 Treasure).

As Gylfir is leaving, the Master mentioned that if Gylfir is returning to Beorn, there is a job to be done that the Master thinks the party might handle. He tells him to report to a certain address in the prosperous quarter of town, tomorrow morning with the rest of his fellowship.

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The next day, the company arrives at a townhouse where a Dwarf shows them into a receiving room and tells them to wait on comfortable couches. Soon, a small door opens and an older Dwarf in expensive white clothing enters. He introduces himself as Gloin, son of Groin, and a member of Thorin's Company. He now acts as ambassador from Erebor to Esgaroth, and he is considering hiring the company as escorts for a dignitary on an important journey. However, he wants to hear about their adventures, to ensure that they will have the martial prowess and strength of character to complete the job.

Nali reasons that as Gloin's kinsman, he should attempt to act as spokesman for the group, expressing his admiration for Gloin and Thorin's Company, but making a complete hash of his words. (He has a ranking of one in Courtesy, and he rolled an Eye!) Will jumps in to try to salvage the interaction, introducing all the company members and mentioning his kinship to Bilbo. Gloin visibly softens at the mention of his friend, and declares that Will is certainly the second-best Hobbit he's met. (Gloin has met precisely two Hobbits.) (The player rolled very well for this skill check, and he has the Fair-spoken trait.) Caranthir wisely stays out of the conversation, given that Gloin is plainly irritated by the Elf's presence. Both Gerold and Gylfir are able to contribute to the conversation and ultimately the company wins over the Dwarf.

He explains that they will accompany his cousin, Balin, son of Fundin, on a long, arduous journey through very treacherous lands. They will go south along the Running River, through the Long Marshes, until they reach the Old Forest Road. From there, they will turn west across the width of Mirkwood, as Balin assesses the state of the road and determines whether it would be feasible to restore the road now that Erebor has been reestablished. From the western gate of the Old Forest Road, it will be a gentler trip across Beorning lands, crossing the Anduin, and heading up into the Misty Mountains to the Eyrie of the Lord of Eagles, Gwaihir. There, Balin will present a letter from King Dain and King Bard, inviting the Eagles to attend the Gathering of Five Armies, to be held at Dale this coming November, on the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Five Armies. This will be the conclusion of their contract.

The PCs accept the job and sign a legally-binding agreement. They are instructed to meet Balin at a warehouse in two days, to begin the journey. As Balin is currently preparing the provisions, Nali decides to find him sooner and offer to help with the preparations. (Nali is a Wanderer with the Trader and Wilful traits, so this feels like something he would do.)

Balin is significantly older than Gloin, but still hale and strong. He is also very friendly, welcoming Nali's help. (His two companions, Barrack and Torrun, are less so.) Nali notices that Balin's itinerary calls for making the entire southward trip on foot, including through the Long Marshes. Nali thinks that a more practical approach would be to rent boats -- this might not reduce the travel time necessary, but it would certainly make for an easier and more comfortable voyage. Again, however, Nali struggles to make a cogent argument for his position, and simply makes things worse. He tries again, and convinces Balin to at least consider it. Lest he do more damage, Nali gets out of there quickly. (The first roll was a minor disaster -- I think the player rolled his second Eye of the evening! -- so I allowed him to try again in order to mitigate the catastrophe. On the second attempt, I think he had a Great Success, thanks to spending Hope to add an Attribute, so I allowed the GS to cancel the Eye and leave him in a kind of neutral position again.)

On the day of departure, the team meets Balin and the Dwarves and Caranthir finds that Balin is much friendlier to his folk than many Dwarves are. He feels emboldened to offer his own expertise and successfully promotes Nali's plan. Caranthir has a great deal of boating experience, so Balin relents. The party sets out in two small boats, one steered by Caranthir and one by Gerold. (Caranthir has a high Athletics skill and the Boating trait, so he's something of an expert in this area. They decided to split the party, though, for reasons I didn't understand. Worked fine by me, though, as this presented twice the chance for entertaining failures. Balin and his Dwarves and Gerold's hound, Roderic, were in Gerold's boat, and the other PCs were in Caranthir's.)

It is some 15 miles south down the length of Long Lake, to where a waterfall drops away to the Running River below. The company loads their boats onto small carts to be lowered down the paved path known as the Stair of Girion, and they join a small camp of Lake-men who act as porters. Here they spend the night, singing and telling stories of their travels. Most of the porters are just boys, easily impressed by adventurers. When Balin draws his pipe, Will does the same and offers him some Old Toby. Balin is delighted, remarking that he hasn't smoked real Shire-weed since Bilbo returned home years ago. In the meantime, he's had to make do with marsh-weed cultivated near Long Lake. (Both Will and Balin share the Smoking trait, so this was a good bonding experience for them. Also, establishing that there's no good pipe-weed in Rhovanion sets up a future storyline for Will, in which Dodinas Brandybuck will ask for Will's help in developing a hybrid pipe-weed that can grow at the Easterly Inn, making them the best source of weed in Wilderland. Will grew up on a farm, with the Gardener trait, so he's capable of doing this and I think it'll be fun for the player to get to name a new strain. This will require a trip to the Shire at some point, to gather starter plants, then the investment of several Fellowship Undertakings to develop the hybrid weed.)

An old man, Nerulf, approaches from out of the darkness, and the boys scoot over to make room for him at the fire. Nerulf seems to be only half-aware of where he is and in whose company, as he continually mutters a phrase, "If you go south in the marshes take heed. Tread lightly and fear the gallows-weed." The company recognises this as a rhyme of lore, a mnemonic often used by to recall folk wisdom. In fact, Gerold is familiar with gallows-weed, a vine which hangs from branches and instinctively tightens around the neck when a person passes too close. Balin takes note, remarking that it brings to mind a poem that Bilbo shared with Thorin's Company, called "The Mewlips". Will also knows this poem, and while Balin recites it Will takes out a small stringed instrument and accompanies him.

(Here I played the recording of someone -- allegedly Tolkien -- reciting the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7pULUvCFjw. This worked well for representing Balin's voice performing the poem, and was nicely atmospheric.)

A hush settles over the campsite as everyone digests this tale. Will has always regarded it as a mere fairy tale, but there are some striking similarities between the text and the details of their journey. "Merlock Mountains" could easily be a misremembrance of the Mirkwood Mountains, and there are references to an old road, right where the Old Forest Road would be. Further, the description of the grey forest and the marshy river correspond. The party determines they will be careful and remember the old man's rhyme.

----------

The next morning they load up the boats and continue south. Soon the river reaches the lower marshes and the boats threaten to entangle in low-hanging vines or weird, knobby roots and branches that protrude up beneath the water. Although Caranthir is the more experienced boatman, he struggles a bit and at one point his passengers have to climb out into the chilly water and lift the boat around an obstacle, leaving them all wet to the bone and exhausted by cold and effort. Gerold, who grew up along the Dusky River but has less practical boating experience, excels at maneuvering in the marsh and gently teases his friend about it. (I told Caranthir's player that he didn't have to roll his Athletics skill check to pilot the boat, due to his Boating trait, but he insisted that he wanted the AP. He would almost certainly have made the check because his Athletics is very high, but for the Eye that he rolled! Gerold's player, on the other hand, rolled a Great Success.)

The river is fast at this time of year, all the melt-water coming down out of the mountains to add to the flow, and Caranthir and Gerold decide to dare some rapids in the interest of picking up speed and reducing their travel time. For a few hours, the piloting is more challenging, but both succeed admirably and they estimate that they have saved an entire day of rowing.

They are nearing the end of this leg of the journey, and stop for the final night on a dry spit of land. Nearby, Will spots a cluster of flickering lights some twenty yards distant, which he recognises as corpse candles and vows to avoid. However, Gerold knows a great deal of herb-lore, and recalls that where there are corpse candles one might find hagweed, from which he can brew a draught that bolsters the spirit for travel through blighted lands. He decides to see if he can harvest some, and Will decides to go with him in case of trouble.

Indeed there is a bed of hagweed, a thick carpet of small green leaves floating atop a pool of foul-smelling water. Gerold knows that hagweed grows near corpse candles because the plant is fed by the rotting bodies within the water. In a moment they realize why there are dead bodies here, as the carpet of hagweed ripples and then a shaggy arm reaches up out of the muck. It is a marsh-ogre!

Both Gerold and Will are alert enough to avoid being ambushed, and they go on the attack. The rest of the band comes running seconds later, and soon the ogre realizes it has bitten off more than it can handle. It is wounded deeply by a thrust from Caranthir's spear, then by a rending chop by Gerold which opens up its rib cage, and the marsh-ogre falls back into the water.

Will remembers Bilbo's tale of meeting the three trolls, and their cave of stolen goods, so the group searches the waters for any loot left behind by the ogre's previous victims. They find bones in the bottom of the pond, some with soft flesh still attached, and a small trove of treasure. (I deemed this to be 10* Treasure, since this is our first hoard and I wanted to try out the treasure rules. Both Caranthir and Gerold found Precious Objects. For Caranthir, this was an adamant ring which catches the slightest light, sized for a Dwarvish finger. He gave it to Nali, as Caranthir is not interested in wealth. It is worth 30 Treasure, but is corrupted by Shadow. Caranthir succeeded at a Corruption test, so did not gain a Shadow point, and I forgot to have Nali roll for the same when he accepted it from Caranthir. For Gerold, it was a necklace with five emeralds, in a setting of old Dalish design. It is worth 20 Treasure.) The rest of the group divides the coin, and Balin decrees that he and the brothers will take no share as the escorts earned it.

They spend the rest of the night sleeping fitfully, as the Shadow looms over this place. (Gerold gained a point of Shadow from a failed Corruption test.) They are eager to move on in the morning, and soon they are well into the forest. Will realizes that something is following them along the river bank, and a few hours later catches a glimpse of long-limbed Elves skulking through the trees. He calls out and the Elves freeze in place, then one steps forward. Caranthir immediately recognises him as Galion, the erstwhile butler of Thranduil's Halls, who was exiled after allowing himself to fall asleep in the wine cellars, thereby permitting a certain troupe of Dwarves (and one Hobbit) to escape from imprisonment.

Neither Galion nor Balin recognise each other, as neither ever saw the other's face, but when Caranthir carefully avoids naming Balin, Balin doesn't understand why so he declares himself by name. He intends this to smooth the interaction, as it usually does, but Galion knows the names of the Dwarves who cost him his position! He coldly identifies himself and orders the group to leave Mirkwood immediately. Someone makes the mistake of pointing out that it wasn't the Dwarves who caused his exile, but his own lack of discipline, and things become even more tense!

It is clear that Galion wants badly to murder the entire troupe, but he has no legal right to mete justice so far from the Woodland Realm, and the Elves serving under him would not permit it. Also, he can't very well kill Caranthir, who is one of his own folk. Instead, he demands that they climb out of their boats onto the eastern shore of the Celduin, that the Elves will confiscate their rented boats, and that the party will walk due east until they are clear of the forest.

They do not accept these terms, reasoning correctly that he cannot enforce this edict. As this stretch of Mirkwood is not controlled by Elves or Men or Dwarves, all have freedom to travel here. They say so, fairly persuasively, and Galion's warriors start to get uneasy with this encounter. He relents, saying that they may continue as far as the Old Forest Road, and that his men will track them the entire way. When they reach the road, they may travel it or move south of the road, but they are not to set foot on the north side of the road, which he still deems to be the Elvenking's domain. The party agrees to this compromise, and Galion turns away, not to be seen again.

As they boat the last remaining miles to the road, Will begins singing an Elvish-style song which Caranthir composed during the last Fellowship Phase, "The Lay of Mannish Years", which tells a tale of a Man wandering along the Elf-path who encounters the Enchanted Stream -- the same stream in which Bombur famously fell during the Quest of Erebor -- and, not knowing of its magical effects, drinks deeply of its waters. He drinks so deeply, in fact, that he falls asleep for many, many years, and when we wakes he finds that he has slept an entire lifetime of Men, and that everyone he knows is dead. It is a deeply tragic, melancholy song, and Will sings it perfectly. (Literally, he sings it perfectly. He has Song 3, and he rolled a Gandalf and three sixes!) The Elves who are tracking the party are deeply moved by the song and thank Will for sharing it, before they turn and melt back into the trees.

Where the Old Forest Road reaches the bank of the Running River, the party draws their boats ashore and unloads them. The road is in poor condition, but would be far worse had it not been built with the masterful masonry of the Dwarves and wound-about with spells of the Elves. The ruins of an old bridge once crossed the river, and the road once continued onward toward the Iron Hills, but now that bridge is gone and the road overgrown. A ruined town of Men once stood here, too, a trading outpost for the Dwarves that traveled the road and the Men that peopled the plains of Rhovanion. The town is now forgotten, as are the Men who once dwelt there.

[End session]

----------

Loremaster notes: I mishandled the Treasure rules a bit, allowing the players to make second rolls (based on the quality of the hoard) to see if they find anything notable. Reviewing the treasure rules in Rivendell, it is clear that the re-rolls are possible only on the second Feat die with Success dice equal to XP wagered, the one that determines whether a found object is merely Precious, or a Wondrous Artefact, etc. I explained this misstep to the players and we will correct the rules next time.

I wanted to reward Caranthir's player for surrendering his treasure, as I think it was nicely in-character. I gave him an extra Advancement Point, with the caveat that I won't do so every single time he forgoes treasure or payment.

I also wanted to reward Will for that stunning Song roll. Word will get back to the Woodland Realm of the Hobbit with the voice of a Valar, and something good will come of it at some point.

I decided to swap out the Stone-troll in Rich's scenario for the Marsh-ogre, as I would prefer to use an indigenous threat in the marshes. I don't know when we'll get back to the Long Marshes, so let's use that nice bestiary from the Lake-town sourcebook.


Greg

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Majestic
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Re: "The Shadow over Wilderland" campaign AP -- SPOILERS

Post by Majestic » Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:49 pm

Excellent recap, Greg! :)
Adventure Summaries of our campaign, currently playing through The Darkening of Mirkwood

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