During the second session of my Open Table Chat Game, the group was much more cautious and avoided all fights. Instead, they gathered information, socialised and looked for ways to increase their reputation. Accordingly, all of them survived!
There were three player characters:
- Mallon Everis, Wood Elf Cleric (Tempest) of Firun, 20 XP
- Tapio of Gareth, Human Fighter, 20 XP
- Roderick Clearwater, Human Rogue, 20 XP
The three characters started in Lowangen and were informed that they knew three possible employers in Lowangen: Erbert Domian, Captain of the City Militia, Eolan Sustermond, Master of the Grey Staves, and Black Jandora, mistress of a local crime syndicate. Due to all of them having a rather checkered past, they immediately decided to speak with Black Jandora.
This took me completely off guard: After their behaviour and ideas last session, I had expected them to mainly cooperate with the city watch. Luckily, I had taken some notes on criminal contacts for the rogue.
Black Jandora was based in the Black Store, a rather dark store in the city district of Eydal. Tapio noticed that most goods were rather cheap, with a few items of excellent quality cleverly hidden between them. He deduced the store was probably a cover and mainly used to fence stolen goods. It turned out the store was run by Jandora’s son Kulman, and that her criminal network was run from a hidden salon in the courtyard. After exchanging some pleasantries, where Jandora showed that she had heard about all group members, the group asked about possible work.
Jandora told them she was interesting in an addictive honey, which (according to rumours) was produced by bees in an ancient ruin near the village of Ansvell in the Svelltmoor.
The addictive honey is part of the treasure one can find in the ruins of the module Lesserton & Mor.
She warned the group that this was a dangerous mission, and that two other groups of agents never returned. Even though her own agents were rather inexperienced young hotheads, she mentioned that a very experienced patrol of the Grey Staves was also lost in the swamp. The group offered to look for the lost agents and the honey, and Jandora told them they were tatooed with a black spade on their upper arm. She also handed the group some jars (for the honey) and gnat repellent (because she want their agents to concentrate on the task at hand instead of itching gnat bites) before dismissing them.
Afterwards, the group decided to speak with Eolan Sustermond as well, as they assumed his patrol was probably investigating the honey as well and they could kill two birds with one stone if they looked for them. On their way they passed the teamster the characters in session 1 accompanied, without recognizing him (whereas the audience did).
The teamster was included by one of the players, and I enjoyed this description very much.
They found that all servants of the Grey Staves were crippled by some fighting injuries, and assumed Dargoth would like the place. After some waiting, they were granted an audience with Master Eolan. He told them that indeed one of his patrols was chased through the swamp by bullywugs and lost their leader, Agdan Dragenfeld. He would pay handsome for his return: 50 ducats for verified information about his fate, 100 ducats for the corpse, and 200 ducats plus two magic potions if he was returned alived. He gave them a portrait of Agdan and a copy of the patrol’s report, which should allow them to retrace its steps.
The patrol wanted to investigate the Morgendornstrauch, a bush similar to a raspberry, but with leaves the colour of the rising sun. Its poison is rumoured to turn its victims into horrible monsters during dusk or dawn. He knew of no anti-toxin against this poison, but mentioned the swamp hags might know one. They would be on their own: He could not spare any other patrols to search for Agdan, as his forces were stretched thin after recent encounters.
The group happily agreed to look for Agdan, as they assumed both Agdan and the honey would be found in a similar area of the swamp.
After buying some equipment, the group started their journey to Ansvell. On the road, they listened to the other travellers, who complaint about bad weather, bandits, orcs, and taxes. One piece of gossip caught their attention: someone mentioned a rumour about a waggon full of loot, that the orcs lost in the swamp.
They rested in a warm bed a last time before entering the swamp, where gnats, water and other hindrances would make their life miserable.
I decided beforehand that I will use the random tables for the Hellbog swamp from Elfmaids & Octopi. If the random encounter dice will show a 5, I will use an entry from the d100 Hellbog Dressing table, and if it shows a 6, an entry from the d100 Encounters or d100 Hazards tables. I rolled how long the journey will take, 1d4+2 resulted in 3 days of travel and the encounter dice showed 5, 6, and 5.
Their journey started with a horrible thunderstorm, but that only slowed them down. They camped on a stable hill in the swamp, where they noticed some lights flickering in the distance. They shouted, but the only response was a faint giggle, and they decided that it was probably some fairies which should be better avoided.
The next day, they noticed a couple cut reeds growing in the middle of the river. They found this very suspicious and prepared for a fight, but then decided to make a detour instead. After passing some grazing dinosaurs, they returned to the path, losing only about two hours of progress.
One of the player would have prefered to attack, but the other two, who had lost their characters in session 1, prefered to be safe than sorry. There were five bullywug bandits lurking beneath the water, hoping to surprise a traveller who got closer to the river.
This night passed calmly, as did most of the third day. Around late afternoon, they heard a child crying on the river. First, they suspected foul play, but then noticed a small figure hunched on a log floating down the river. They prepared for a fight, but still decided to help, and used a grappling hook to tow the log to the river bank. Luckily, it turned out that there was no enemy on the log, but just a human child with gills on its throat. They managed to calm it, gave it some food and learnt that it was called Mu-Gin and wanted mum and dad who were in that direction.
With the childs direction rather indecisive they decided to continue along the road. Soon after, they heard two voices shouting ‘Murgin? Where are you?’. Since Murgin sounded very much like Mu-Gin, they answered the calls and finally met the searchers who turned out to be the parents. The parents also looked quite odd, the woman had scaley skin on her forehead and dad lacked any visible body hair whatsoever. This did not deter the group whatsoever, and after the lucky reunion they asked the parents about the swamp and their missions.
The parents know a little about the Morgendornstrauch: If you cut yourself on its thorns, you will turn into a horrible monster. The bullywugs that torment the swamp are the result of this mutation, and the swamp hags may be able to cure only those who have been recently inflicted. Luckily, the civilized inhabitants of the swamp do their best to prevent the bush growing near the trail, which thus can only be found deep within the swamp. They had also not seen Agdan or his patrol, but knew about the ruins. There would be plenty of adventurers trying to search the ruins, few would return, but quite some inhabitants of the village would earn some money by leading them to the ruins.
They invited the group to stay in their hut for the night, and promised to introduce the group to the mother’s cousin (also called Murgin), who knew entrances to the ruins. The group gladly accepted and we finished the game here.
One of the players was disappointed that there was no fight, and wanted to storm the ruins with guns blazing. The other two players were very reluctant to approach enemies, though. I worry this disparity might lead to trouble among the players. I am rather hopeful though that the careful players will be more willing to risk a fight if there is something to be gained, and such situations should present itself in Mor.