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Author Topic: [4E] The Unquiet Grove  (Read 577 times)

Abyssal Maw

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[4E] The Unquiet Grove
« on: July 09, 2008, 08:57:02 AM »
A few weeks ago it was Free RPG day and I showed up to support my local gamestore (and promote the upcoming Living Realms) by volunteering to run the free adventure (Treasure of Talon Pass).

I ran it over two sessions (that week and the next), and ran it as an open "first come, first served" kinda deal, and I found by the second week people were waiting to play, and I eventually had a core group of all new friends. So when the adventure ended they asked if we could still run something.

It just so happens that I wrote two rejected adventures for Living Realms, that I was thinking about tightening up and resubmitting, so I said "sure". And since everyone had kinda gotten attached to their characters at this point, I let them keep their second level characters (they had leveled to 3rd over the course of Treasure of Talon Pass).

So here's The Unquiet Grove, which was rejected back in November/December.

As we left off of Talon Pass, I had segued the group into an improvised scene where they were meeting with the local baron who had sent them into Talon Pass in the first place, and them bringing the Jade Chalice back, as well as proof of Hareel Vaar's demise. (Thats the mage at the end of Talon Pass). The Chalice itself had been planned for some kind of dark ritual/doomsday device, and the baron was glad to see it put into safekeeping.

We also introduced one new player who had not played through Talon Pass. So the group was:

Markol (half-elf Warlord): the leader (played by Steppen)
Samantha (human Wizard): (And Markol's player's RL girlfriend, Denise)  
Travok (Dwarf Fighter): (Samantha's 12 year old son, Sully, and a great kid)
Anthony (Tiefling Warlock): Kevin. gleefully playing the "not quite a good guy"

And the new guy:
Arden (Elven rogue) (real name: Matt)

The adventure concerned a group of human-hating elves known as the Eldreth Veluuthra, who had been making attacks on caravans that pass through the Hullack Woods. I had the baron introduce Arden as a representative of the nearby elven tribe and go over some of the evidence from the attacks including the elven arrows gathered from the wreckage of the burning caravan. Arden confirmed that the arrows were elven but could not explain their use. The baron offers a pouch of gems for the cessation of the eldreth raids, however it can be managed.

The players decided to accompany a fake caravan through the same area as "bait" to try and investigate, and sure enough the caravan was attacked.

Note: For the Eldreth, I had bumped up a pair of standard elven archers into elites with the rogue template from the DMG. and tossed in three more scouts. This made a pretty good standard "level 3" encounter. The caravan was attacked on a forest road, which had a ditch on either side, and trees.. the archers started in the trees.

So.. a very cool running battle takes place when the players throw off their cloaks and come bursting out of the backs of the wagons. What started as an ambush turned into a full skirmish as Markol and Arden went for the archers, and Travok singlehandedly wore down the scouts who had struck from the rear of the caravan. Samantha and Anthony stayed in the center and used their magic to good effect.

In the end, they had killed 3, with two Eldreth escapees. A third escapee nearly escaped into the woods (going so far as going off the map), but Travok pursued anyhow, and I improvised the detail of Travok finding the elf in a ditch just beyond the edge of the map, dead from a mysterious elven arrow.  Both Arden and Markol knew (from history checks and elven background) who they were dealing with at last. They also noted that these Eldreth wore strange golden feathers on their black leather outfits, which Samantha would later identify as "Harpy feathers".  Plus there was the minor mystery of "who killed that one elf?"

Everyone agreed that this small raiding party was not the end of the attacks.

After the battle, they gathered their group and headed into Masoner's Bridge (where the caravan had originally meant to stop). Arden had especially gotten beaten up in this battle, taking two critical hits, so there was some healing and planning to do, and perhaps investigating where the Eldreth were coming from, or where their camp was located.

After doing some asking around town, they ended up at the local tavern (The Bully Toad) where they were approached by a retired consultant to the Cormyrian War-Wizards, a freelance arcanist known as Travalon. Travalon knew about the Hullack woods, and he also knew about the Eldreth Veluuthra. After hearing that the group was in town asking about such things, he arrived to offer them a task: He knew the general location of the Eldreth amp because he had nearly stumbled into it when investigating an ancient teleportation circle that he had hoped to reactivate. The teleportation circle once linked a place in Cormyr with a remote location in Sembia, and it would be highly useful to have such a thing operational in the evnt of hostilities. Tavalorn also mentions his former adventuring partner (and "guide"), a ranger named Deonda, who went with him into to the woods originally but refused to help beyond a certain point. He also mentioned being attacked by the Eldreth on one of his expeditions into the Hullack.

Tavalorn offers the party lots of gold for a copy of the full inscription of the teleportaion circle stelae. It has to be translated, decoded and then reactivated to make it work. After a bit of prying they get to the fact that Tavalorn knows half of the inscription already--and has been there, but refuses to give too many details. They got a rough map of the location of the circle, with the assurance that the Eldreth are somewhere near there.

The party thanked Tavalorn and moves on, gathering more rumors and information. They learned that Deonda lived in a treehouse at the crook of a pair of streams that coursed through the woods (Arden was multiclassed into Ranger and felt confident he could find the guy). They also heard rumors about strange ghosts spotted drifting through the woods, and weird singing sounds from the woods as well.

So, after spending the night in Masoner's Bridge they head back into the Hullack, looking for Deonda the ranger. They found the first creek pretty quickly, and followed that up, looking for the second one. I did wandering monster checks in here at some point, but no. And finally, we had the encounter- they were walking through and started to note some strange mounds, and finally one especially large mound. Upon investigation.. they discovered that they had walked into the middle of a Kruthik hive!

Kruthiks came boiling out of the hive mounds in all directions.. hatchlings, young and even an adult. The group found themselves embattled and surrounded, but did their best to fight them off. Once again, Arden managed to get critted, even taking a poison spike from the adult Kruthik. Samantha also got chomped on pretty badly. Kruthiks have an interestin geffect, that if you end your turn next to one fo them, you take a little bit of extra damage no matter what.

So that was kind of cool. They eventually fought them off, and were surprised to see the mysterious ranger Deonda sitting in a tree watching them impassively.

The conversation went something like this:

"Are you Deonda the ranger?"
"I am."
"We've been looking for you.. we have some questions about...(long explanation)"
Deonda (nods). "Your'e standing in the middle of a Kruthik hive."

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Abyssal Maw

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[4E] The Unquiet Grove
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2008, 10:06:25 AM »
... (continued)

So long story short, Deonda brings the party back to his treehouse and they talk about the attacks, about why Tavalorn can't be trusted, and they put together enough clues  (the harpy feathers are handed over) that Deonda reveals that the Eldreth tribe have been taken over by a Harpy bandit known as Maggie Goldeneyes, who he has tangled with on several occasions.

He explains:

There is an ancient elven burial grove, that also just happens to be the location of Tavalorns teleportation circle. On the far side of the grove is where the Eldreth Veluuthra camp is.

Deonda knows two ways to go in: they can go directly towards the camp, which is well guarded, and fight their way across a rope bridge. Or they can try the back way, which is through the grove. However, he warns them.

"Tavalorn tricked me into showing him the grove, then used a ritual to partially empower the circle- which unfortunately caused a magical aftershock that unsealed the largest oak tree. This made the elven spirits (who have been sealed up into the trees) restless and angry. We barely escaped with our lives, and Tavalorn knows better than to come here himself. I don't know what he offered you, but if your real goal is to deal with the Eldreth Veluuthra, you have a good chance of just moving through the grove quickly, dealing with the harpy, and perhaps driving the Eldreth Veluuthra off."

The players agreed then to try that, and Deonda gave them his token, a cluster of oak leaves bound by copper and silver wire. He explained that after Tavalorn's betrayal, he had the grove sealed off. "You'll need this"

The group set off with directions to the grove (more wandering checks.. nothing). When the path dead-ended at a sheer wall of briars they presented the token.. and the wall parted for...

A Treant! Known as Strongbranch. So we had a fun little roleplaying scene with the Treant asking them what business they had in the grove, and learning some of the history of the place, as well as warnings of how the grove had become corrupted and dangerous. The treant gave them advice on re-sealing the broken tree, or they could pass quickly through to the far side and sneak into the Veluuthra camp.

They entered the grove.

They made their way through, and were unsure of what they would choose, but soon spotted the massive oak tree in the center of the grove surrounded by stone benches and the stone stelae that would have powered up the teleportation circle. It was sputtering rainbow-colored sparks and flickering with black light- the results of the corruption, and the tree itself was partially split open.

Samantha the wizard decided then and there that she would try and reseal it, using her arcana skill. So after a quick discussion they approached the massive oak, and began working on it.. when the ghosts struck: 4 phantom warriors and the specter of Queen Faenril herself emerged from the tree angrily, to fight the "intruders".  The party (comitted at this point) began fighting them off as best they could so that the tree could be resealed. At one point, Anthony (the warlock) actually intimidated a pair of the phantom warriors back into the tree for a couple of rounds with a power he had. Queen Faenril would attack, go invisible, scoot around behind one of the party members, and then reappear to attack with her deadly kiss.

But they eventually defeated all of the phantom warriors and the specter was dispersed. It slowly began to reform within the tree.

Samantha at that point entered an extended skill challenge to reverse the corruption in the tree and reseal it. We determined that 8 successes or 4 failures would be enough to decide:   and the other characters who had arcana were able to roll their assist rolls. Each failure would have called forth a fresh phantom warrior from the tree, and a final failure would have left the tree unfixable.

But miraculously, she made every roll, and soon the tree was fixed up.

Arden made an impassioned speech about how they should reseal the grove and report back that the teleportation circle had been ruined, and everyone agreed.

So this is where the session ended.

Next session: Another meeting with Strongbranch, and (surprise guest appearance) the spirit of Queen Faenril in a less angry form. And the assault on the Eldreth Veluuthra camp!
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)