Ten o'clock in the evening, the 1st of Vor, 1331 Avard.
Dolon slipped off the Dellistar not long after Rishmund the thug was hauled off by Captain Nallya and a crewman. Not long after, though, Captain Nallya returned to the Dellistar visibly frustrated; armed thugs with crossbows had taken Rishmund from her. Rather than put up a fight and get killed for nothing, the captain of the Dellistar had to let her captive go. After the debacle with the guard during the capture of Rishmund, she had no desire to go to the guard for help.
The watch was doubled, on the off-chance trouble would follow the captain back to her ship. Nallya also got a chance to meet Hadarai Jelenneth – a wizard assigned to Horbe's Dellistar team.
Hadarai Jelenneth had arrived late for his appointment, as per the letter missive from Horbe. Though late, Horbe had agreed he could join the group sailing out on the morning tide, or wait with the ranger Cameron and the fighter Alex for the rest of the next group Horbe would send out, on the ship called the Kambringer. Hadarai had opted to leave as soon as possible, rather than wait, and had thus arrived at the docks, and the Dellistar.
Hadarai's keen Eladrin eyes managed to spot observers in an alleyway near the docks – as well as an observer on a rooftop nearby. The group went to heightened alert, knowing they were being watched.
Dolon returned not long afterwards, explaining that he had retrieved documents he had left with Horbe by accident – as well as speaking more with Eglin. Eglin Bandylegs had left to speak personally with Count Stonegrudge, the head of the guard in Teras, about possibly meeting with Xennith in the abandoned building near the Red Flagon.
As the crew and the group watched, the guards' bells began to ring. The militia was called up. And then a fire caught at a building near the Red Flagon tavern. The fire was quickly put out, with all the guard about, and then the guard began wandering the back streets with lanterns out. They stumbled upon the two observers in the alleyway, and as a chase broke out, the group became involved.
Hadarai fired off a warning shot of a maged bolt, but the fleeing observer refused to heed the warning, and Hadarai's next bolt killed the man dead. The other observer on the streets was nearly caught by Dolon and Draelien together, but the guard mistakenly called on them to stop, nearly arresting them. The situation nearly spiraled out of control as the leader of that watch, a mere corporal, abused his station considerably.
Captain Nallya and Hadarai's status as a mage helped contain the situation, though the idiot corporal dutifully wrote down the name Nallya gave: Ragnarok, Captain of the brigantine Eashit Undi.
After that, the group watched and listened, but nothing else happened – other than roving guards. At dawn, Hadarai went out into the town to buy a horse. The others found a town crier who told them the news that 'there had been a fire in an abandoned building, but the militia was called out to put the fire out, and they prevented it's spread'. Disgusted, they returned to the ship.
The Dellistar left with the ten o'the morning tide, sailing south and slightly west, following Horbe's maps to find the Sholin city of Immedhya, and perhaps the dagger that Horbe's benefactor wanted.
The two weeks at sea were miserable for Cephus, who became violently sea-sick, and stayed that way. First Hadarai, then Garet, and then Draelien, all began to work for Captain Nallya as crewmen and as fair. One of the crew had fallen out of the rigging and broken his leg, and Draelien and Dolon together had responded to the injury remarkably quickly and with excellent skills.
In addition to the captain and her cook playing and singing, Hadarai performed prestidigitations to entertain the crew in the evenings. Dolon spent much of his time copying maps from the first mate, Corbit, and giving the first mate new maps, in return. Despite Hadarai's enthusiastic calisthenics each morning, only Officer Guel ever bothered to join him.
On the 16th of Vor, they sighted land, and established contact with the locals thereafter. The people of Immedhya were quite open and friendly, especially after several offerings of good steel were made to the locals and their chief, a man by the name of Iyakehwali. The shaman of the village, Yeyekoheyo, was but a novice, but accepted the group with limited reservations. Much trading was done, mainly steel for pearls, and then a large feast was done in the evening light.
One mule was brought ashore from the ship, and Captain Nallya and some of her officers joined the festivities with Dolon serving as negotiator. Hadarai spent much of the feast in contemplation, studying a large stone obelisk in the center of the village.
The obelisk had one face written in the Karatikan tongue, and the other three in pictographs. The pictographs matched with a tale the locals told, of Kame A'tur, who rescued them from a storm at sea and taught them to live on land, and gave them fruits and grains and more so that they could live in peace with the shore, and not die upon it. The date on the monolith was 450, and written by 'Kambator, studentia o Sarendin'.
The rest of the group partied into the night, drinking flaming beverages from pottery containers, and eating well. In the morning, many of them woke up next to local village girls.
The group set out at dawn, following the shore. During the evening's festivities, they had figured out where they might search for the dagger, from the villagers. There was a nearby mountain from which none returned; otherwise, there were no clues as to where the dagger might be. The mountain, though, was said to be the home of Kame A'tur in ancient times.
For two days, they traveled along the beach, and on the morning of the third day, they were set upon by sahuagin that had been shadowing them in the water. As the tide was just going out, the sahuagin attacked in a ragged ambush line. The creatures put up a vicious fight, but the moment their leader went down, the rest soon followed in quick succession. The group left the sahuagin skulls on sticks, for the birds and ants to clean up.
From there, they traveled inland through the jungle, and then up out of the jungle onto broken terrain. Catching a glimpse of light at sunset, as they made camp near the mountain, they marked where on the mountain they might search. The glint of light came from an area of lush green, on a rocky mountain slope that too dry for many plants, despite its nearness to the coast.
In the morning, they continued their journey to the mountain the villagers had called Kamatory. The going was tough, and there were places where even the sturdy mule balked. By sunset, though, they had made it to the lush green area on the mountain, not too far from where the glint of sunlight had caught their attention the day before.
There was a calming pool, into which a small waterfall dropped. Around the pool, the woods were relatively quiet, and there was a ancient stone bench still standing watch over the pool. Otherwise, the forest was quiet – too quiet, save for the wind in the trees.
They camped there that night, away from the pool, and cautious. On the morn, when they had fresh light, they began to move single-file through the thick woods in the direction of the glint of light.
Garet nearly stumbled onto an open area – what had once been a courtyard for carriages and wagons to turn around in. The edges of the courtyard were magically sealed against plants, and there were random stones in the cobbled courtyard that continued the warding against plants. Around the courtyard were pillars, some of them fallen.
On the other side of the courtyard was a large building of stone, overgrown with vines. Cautious exploration revealed that the building had once been both servants' quarters and stables on either side of the main thoroughfare. Most of the wood within had long since fallen either to sawdust from termites, or had rotted from fungus.
There was another building not too far away, through the main thoroughfare. A large bush of poison ivy moved, and began to attack Garet. Cephus and Hadarai quickly blasted the bush into pieces. The two mages felt that a great magic was in the area – similar in feel to whatever had crafted the stone obelisk of the Immedhya Sholin tribe.
They moved cautiously. On either side of the alley between the two large buildings, they could hear the wind in the trees – though there was no wind to be felt. Dolon explored one side of the alley, and was met with a puff of terrorizing powder by an orchid of rare beauty. Hadarai moved to help the linguist, and destroyed the orchid with fire.
Just then, a wooden creature something like a man burst out of the inner building, and attack Garet and Draelien. Hadarai's fire did a great deal of damage to it, as did Garet's axes and Draelien's polearm, but Garet was gravely wounded. They forced the wooden creature back into the inner building, and then withdrew to the servants' quarters and stables.
Tired, shocked, and dismayed, the group has holed up to bind its wounds.
Nine o'clock in the morning, the 20th of Vor, 1331 Avard.
There were 1227 experience points awarded to the group as a whole, and that averaged out to 245 experience points apiece.
We met again at Todd's house, this time joined by Fred Feeley, bringing our number of players up to five. Fred brought in a wizard, so our party consisted of a warlord leading two rogues, a warlock, and a wizard.
I made several beginner's mistakes as a DM. One of them was looking solely at the monsters' experience points and not at their levels. The levels were too high, and the players had a great deal of difficulty in getting at those high Armor Classes and saves, no matter what they tried. I know that was very frustrating for them, and I see now (thanks to Todd) exactly what was happening. I'll be sure to watch the encounter level, from here in, so that it matches or is around the party level as well.
Another mistake I made was in keeping track of the damage. In 3rd Edition, I often did not tell the players how many Hit Points they were at unless they specifically asked me – relying on descriptors to let them know how badly hurt they were. In 4th Edition, the players have 'second wind' abilities, and need to know when to use them, as well as when to use their healing surges, if able. So, I'm going to stop keeping track of player damage on my side of the DM screen, and let the players deal with that. Hopefully it'll be one less headache for me, math-wise, and also let them know how good or how badly their doing.
I hope the players will forgive me my mistakes, and also help me make the game better for them overall. I like to think I'm open to criticism, and want us All to have a good time at the table. I just hope they can bear with me as I 're' learn 4th Edition. I'm realizing that I've paid a lot of attention to the story, but not nearly enough attention to the game mechanics.
The potential for a great campaign exists here, we just need to get past the initial problems of playing with a new system. I think a very innocent mistake of thinking that that 4E would be in many ways like 3E was made here. I thought that when I first read through the books, but the deeper you dig the more changes you find.
More important than anything in the Player's Handbook are the chapters in the Dungeon Master's Guide that deal with running a 4E game. The sections of tweaking monsters, or creating NPCs are extremely useful.
The story presented is interesting and appears to have some real depth.
I think my only major complaint is that we “real-time” roleplayed parts that could have easily been presented with a few skill checks and descriptive text.
Other than that, I like it where it's going. Our party is interesting, but I do think not having a front-line fighter is going to cause issues down the line. Unless we can get Draelin (the Warlord) more heavily armored and able to withstand damage, we are going to have to really play a mobile hit and run group.