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Army of PCs Against the Giants

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perovskite:
I'm almost two years into an Against the Giants campaign using the 2e Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff module (with 3.5e crunch, and modified geography), and I thought it might be worth posting for all of your amusement/edification/disgust. The idea behind the format for the campaign is that wars involve a lot of people, so the notion of a band of five or six or eight heroes crisscrossing the land doing all the saving seems a tad implausible (also, I like variety). Thus, my one group of players and I are jumping between, let me count...approximately five different parties (they overlap a bit), all of whom are in various parts of Geoff and surrounding countries doing heroic and/or mercenary things.

We run sessions using Google Docs, and so I'll just be copying the transcriptions of what we did, until and unless that becomes cumbersome and offensive. To keep the whole thing organized, I have an all-consuming set of spreadsheets telling me where each party and the major NPCs are on any given day, so that I can avoid continuity errors, and allows for amusing things like one party casually walking past a villain on his way to fight another party two days later. (The fight was played first, so the players knew who this set of PCs was walking past, but their characters had no idea.)

As far as optimization level: for yea, though I am not worthy to sweep the hallways of this hallowed temple of optimization, I am nigh unto a grandmaster compared to everyone else in my group. So it's pretty toned down.

I'll not bore you with a description of every PC in the game just yet, cause there are nearly 30 of them, just the parties.

So, the parties:
The Most Ancient and Original Group- the MAOG was rolled up in the early 90's when we played 1e, and was later updated to 2e and 3.5e. So the characters have existed for 22-24 years or so. The average level is 11, with one being 14 due to a quirk of the 2e to 3e conversion rules. This will be the first time we've used these characters in 3.5e.
Zodhunters- some gangster named Zod (no relation to the Superman villain) stole some stuff from these guys' mom. Average level is 7.
Kat's Krew- Katreana (female elf/Wiz 9/LG) was part of the MAOG, but was at the other end of the continent when the campaign started, so she had to adventure her way to Sterich, and picked up some people while she did. Average level 9.
Dwarven Volunteer Corps- Some of the fluff for this says the various mountain dwarf clans are too busy bickering to bother with all the giants they could ever want to kill, so one character went to recruit some volunteers. Average level 4.
Sephira & Co- Sephira (female halfling/Sor 6/don't remember) worked for Duke Owen of Geoff until she found a book referring to an ancient lammasu, and requested a leave of absence to go see what she can find. (We refluffed the Rainbow Servant prestige class into a Lammasu Servant prestige class for this.) Average level 6. This is presently the active group.
Singletons- There are a couple of PCs not currently in any party at the moment; such characters, or people whose players are not present tend to get used as NPCs. For example, the 14th level guy is effectively an NPC until the rest of his party catches up.

That all I have the battery life for at the moment. We shall see how this goes.

perovskite:
Prologue- Wherein Information Known to the Natives of Gran March, Geoff, Sterich and a few Other Places is Displayed for the Edification of the Player Characters.

A large part of the first section of this post is pulled straight from the Against the Giants fluff information, so copyright WOTC 1999 for that.

This part of the world, the plains east of Geoff, Sterich, and Gran March, has had some trouble with giants for as long as there is recorded history. What had never happened, up until eight years ago, was an organized, coordinated invasion from multiple routes by multiple species of giants, sometimes supported by bombardments of rocks from groups of clouds. (Although that particular detail tends to be included in stories about the invasion with more than a little bit of doubt.) Although the lowlanders fought valiantly, there was simply no way for them to resist the behemoths, who would often kill 20 or 30 humans before being taken down themselves. The giants completely conquered the countries of Geoff and Sterich, and captured a portion of Gran March, but were repelled at the southern end of their advance by the well-organized forces of the Colony of Moffatt.
   Flushed from the amazing success of their attacks, the giants enslaved and survivors they could find and established themselves as the new rulers of Geoff, Sterich, and Gran March. They spend months gorging themselves on crops and livestock, wearing the spoils of defeated lands, and falling into petty disputes. After a few months, what the giants began shipping materiel and the spoils of war back into the mountains, especially silver. The giants’ occupation lasted effectively unchallenged for two years.
   Then, six years ago, the giant-held cities and towns of Sterich began to suffer attacks by forces made up of displaced citizens of Sterich and Geoff, buttressed by mercenaries from Gran March, Moffett, and the Kingdom of Hias. Launched from the Sterichian city of Flen, the vengeful army slowly drove the giants out of the cities of Fitela and Istivin, removing the last holdout in central Sterich four years ago. Using these two cities as a staging ground on the war’s border, the armies were aided by a secondary invasion from Gran March, which pushed the giants and humanoids into the Stark Mounds, and then turned south to join with the forces holding Fitela and Istivin. These combined forces were able to march westward and oust the giants one village at a time, finally freeing the last human settlement in the spring, three years ago.
   Meanwhile, back in Gran March and Geoff, the giants control over that land was bruised five years ago when the soldiers of Gran March and the Knights of the Watch (from Keoland) succeeded in reclaiming the town of Hochoch on Geoff’s extreme eastern border, which had been occupied by orcs, ogres, trolls, and a dozen hill giants. As things stand right now, Hochoch has been “temporarily” annexed by Gran March (along with parts of the Oytwood), and is being used as a base for attacks on giants in Geoff a well as the smuggling of goods into and people out of the Lost Lands. Unfortunately, the allies of Geoff are weary from the fighting in Sterich and in no shape to mount a full offensive. Limited to harassing patrols of humanoids and lightning strikes by small teams of independents, the humans and giants are holding each other in check.
   In the past six months, there have been more sightings of giants in and around the Oytwood and near Hochoch, which has inhibited reconnaissance and raids by the humans somewhat.
   About two months ago, a team of independents new to the area, in coordination with the gnomes of the Stark Mounds, conducted a devastating attack on the fomorians and ogres that lived there, killing or driving them out of the city completely. Unfortunately, no one has the forces to re-occupy Gorna for the time being, so right now the gnomes have set up a number of observation posts in and around the town, and have been rebuilding the outer wall by night.
   There are also rumors that a group of independents conducted a separate raid on one of the hill giant steadings, again killing or driving off a large number of those giants as well, which has severely loosened the giants’ control over the mountains to the west of the Stark Mounds.


Prologue Part Deux
Wherein Information known only to Elves from the Forests of Dimwood is Revealed.

Eight short years ago, like the humans, the western forests of the elves were invaded by the giants, and like the humans, the elves couldn’t withstand the sheer power of the giants. Unlike the humans, the elves each had centuries of training and skill in fieldcraft, and so were able to retreat into the deeper woods with comparatively light losses. The elves lost control of the towns of both Hocholve and Delerion, and have not yet sent scouting parties back to see what happened; no survivor of Hocholve knows enough of what happened to believe anything other than that the giants still control it, and after what happened in Delerion, the elves have tacitly agreed that it should be off limits.
   The only information known by the elves in general about Delerion is that during the giant’s attack, some creature of necromancy and shadow appeared and killed most of the giants and elves in the area; this creature still lives in the town.
   Hocholve was simply overwhelmed; those who evacuated did not see the fate of those who served as rear guard, although the lack of survivors is telling enough.
   Soon after the elves began scouting to the south to see how the humans were faring, and continued to conduct harassing attacks on the giant’s northern flank. Once the giants’ advance was stopped, the elves established embassies with the government-in-exile of Geoff, with Gran March, Sterich, and the gnomes of the Stark Mounds. They’re pretty well informed, but don’t have the numbers to do anything but support the humans’ operations with reconnaissance and ambushes outside the Dim Forests.


Prologue Part Theux (? Whatever)
Where in Stuff known to the Gnomes, but not known to non-Gnomes, becomes known, except to non-Gnomes, because the Gnomes know enough to not let non-Gnomes know what they know.

Several months ago, a small band of powerful adventurers appeared in the giant-afflicted regions of Geoff. It was they, so they said, who raided and torched a very large hill giant steading, and they who allied with Kemp Consum’s gnomes to raid and ultimately drive out, the fomorians and ogres from Gorna. After that battle the adventurers headed back into the mountains to the southwest of Geoff and have not been heard from since.
In the aftermath, the gnomes have set up several small observation posts in and around Gorna, as well as started building gnomes sized storehouses and living quarters, as well as reinforcing the outer walls. They have been careful to make it look like the place is still abandoned, but are approaching the point where they need to start making permanent repairs to the outer walls and gates. As that would reveal their presence, Consum wants to get the backing of at least Duke Owen, so there is a token garrison of humans in place as well.

perovskite:
And here we get to the first session, which we played in August of 2016. This group was hijacked by me when the DM could no longer play, which is why it sounds like this starts in the middle. If the blow-by-blow from each session is burdensome or awkward to read, please complain in a reply, and I will switch to summaries of each session. Cyr is a DMPC/NPC; I find it preferable to give suggestions to the party in character.

The Characters (which I, the DM, call the Zodhunters, although they have not named their group in-game)
Yudhisthir- male half-elf ranger 6; Yudhisthir and Arjun are half-brothers
Arjun- male human favored soul 6
Cyr- female human feat rogue 6/chameleon 1; she normally disguises herself as a young man
Phaedra- female aasimar warlock 6
Saluki- male human fighter 2/swashbuckler 3/dervish 2
Thessa- female catfolk bard 6, who doesn't show up for several sessions.

Day 133: The Zod Hunters

(click to show/hide)DM: Yudhisthir, Arjun, Saluki, Phaedra, and Cyr all board the Plot Convenience in Port Kitts, having decided for various reasons that they can’t help with the halfling rescue. The ship sails at dawn the day after they arrived in Port Kitts, and heads north toward the kingdom of Gran March. Yudhisthir and Arjun notice that Cyr boarded the same ship they did.

Yudhisthir also notices Phaedra “Urgh. It’s that shrill woman.”

Arjun looks over at the group. “She’s pretty, though.”

Yudhisthir gives his brother a disgusted look and pointedly turns his back to the rest of the ship, looking out over the waves.

Saluki and Phaedra both notice the pair of guys they saw earlier on Port Kitts on the boat (one of whom has wings), and that they are pointedly looking at them. Mostly Phaeda.

DM: Noticing this, Phaedra stands up, straightens her clothing, and walks over to the two of them. “Greetings, I am Phaedra of Marwal. It seems we will on be on this ship together for a while, so I thought I would introduce myself.” She holds out her hand.

Arjun smiles charmingly and shakes her hand “I am Arjun, and this” he gestures to the shorter winged figure beside him, “is my brother Yudhisthir, both of the Elf Coast.” Yudhisthir ignores them both. “What sends you to Gran March?”

Phaedra smiles. “Age old story, I’m afraid, I’m just looking for adventure and working to make a name for myself outside my father’s shadow. The Elf Coast isn’t too far from Marwal, though we don’t get many elven visitors.”

Phaedra does notice that Yudhisthir is actually a half-elf...with wings!

Arjun: “I don’t think we get many visitors from Marwal either, though I know our merchants send goods there.”

Phaedra - “Do forgive me if this is a rude question, but are there many winged elves in the Elf Coast? Your wings a beautiful, by the way.”

Yudhisthir squeezes the rail tighter and says nothing.

Arjun answers “There are a fair few, though they tend to stay in the mountains. Outside your father’s shadow you say? How long a shadow does he cast?”

DM: While you are chatting the crew has started doing nautical things like keel-hauling the yardarm and hoisting the mizzenmast, or whatever. In any case, the ship begins moving out of port.

Phaedra - “He’s the hero of the town and the surrounding area, as he’s saved them from enemies a number of times. Everyone loves him.” She blushes for a moment. “Not that I don’t! He just suggested that it was time to make my own way in the world, and the area north with the giants seems like a good option. What are you heading north for?”

Arjun “Thief-hunting! And also, our elders decided we weren’t adventurous enough and effectively exiled us until such time as we went and made names for ourselves. Or caught the thieves, whichever comes first.”

Yudhisthir can be heard to growl softly when Arjun says this.

DM- After almost an hour, the ship has left port, pointed the pointy end north (for forecastle?), and begun sailing. Moffat Island lazily passes to the south. The sun is warm,  the breeze is pleasant, and once the crew has calmed down, the Captain starts walking around talking to the passengers.

Saluki has noticed Phaedra chatting, and also who she’s chatting with. He observes for a while, and then sidles up to Yudhisthir, flipping a coin. “Care for a game of cards, Roc-boy?”

DM- Captain Quack- “Greetings, all! Welcome to the Plot Convenience. I’m Captain Quack, commander of this vessel. How are you all?” He shakes any nearby hands.

Yudhisthir gives Saluki a sneer and flips one wing, knocking the coin out of Saluki’s hands. “No.”

DM- Captain Quack, deciding that this is not a sociable group, skips his intros. “Look, it’s dragon turtle mating season right now, so they get extra aggressive. If you’re on deck and you see anything strange, let a member of the crew know. And I’ll not have fighting on my ship, if you want to fight, you can swim.” And he walks off.

Saluki gives Yud significant side eye. Phaedra sighs. “Please excuse my companion, his social graces are sometimes lacking. “ She gets a sparkle in her eye. “I wonder what a dragon turtle looks like? I bet they’re cute!” She starts looking around off the bow, to see if she can spot any.

All Yudhisthir can remember is that dragon turtles are so called cause they’re giant turtles, but they behave kind of like dragons- breathe hot steam, pretty aggressive even outside of mating season, and decently intelligent. But that’s it.

Arjun “Excuse my brother as well. He has manners when he wants.” He nudges Yudhistir.

Yudhisthir sighs slightly and turns around to face Phaedra and Saluki. “Beg pardon.” He doesn’t sound apologetic.  “And they’re not ‘cute’. They’re giant turtles that breathe hot steam and attack for fun.”

Phaedra - “Giant, eh?” She doesn’t seem bothered by his surliness. “I wonder if they’re big enough to ride!” She also notes Saluki seems to be contemplating Yud in a way the screams “trouble” so she steps over, grabs his arm and points outward. “Ooh, is that one? Perhaps it’s just a rock…” She also kicks his shin and glares disapprovingly at him. He gives her an innocent look.

Arjun and Yudhisthir both turn to the rail to watch for turtles.

Phaedra continues her chat with Arjun after releasing Saluki. Saluki grumps around a bit before heading below deck.

DM- And the sun sets; you can just barely make out the tops of mountains (or possibly dragon turtles) on the horizon.

Arjun makes his excuses to Phaedra and the boys go below decks. Arjun finds a free hammock, and goes to sleep. Yudhisthir sits on the floor nearby and keeps watch. He’ll wake Arjun at midnight to take over.

Yudh notices a couple other people doing similar such things, but they don’t look too interested in idle chitchat. And the sun rises!

When Saluki starts asking the other passengers for birdseed, all he gets is chuckles, funny looks, and “No.”

Arjun and Yudhisthir are up on deck at sunrise, keeping out of the way of sailors and doing calisthenics.

When Phaedra climbs up on deck, she looks to the east and notices the enormous red cliffs. They’re at least 1500 feet high, overtopped by the rising sun. Several other passengers are standing, watching them go by.

She overhears one passenger tell another that they’re called the Red Cliffs on account of the orange-red stone they’re made of, and on the back side is the town of Port Chessie, the capital of the Wilderness of Gunnoe.

DM: After the Red Cliffs, the ship turns slightly westward and sails farther away from Moffat Island toward the mainland.

Arjun and Yudhisthir again go below decks at sunset, but this time Arjun takes first watch.

DM: Pretty soon there’s nothing left but ocean on all side, but otherwise the day passes uneventfully.

Day 3, midday:

Phaedra will see if she can borrow the spyglass that the pilot probably has to look around for animals.

DM: Pilot, because a pretty woman has walked up to him- “Uhhhh, sure! Here’s how you use it, bla bla bla…” he continues to give advice long after you’ve figured it out (like 5 seconds), and totes hangs around for way too long.

Phaedra sees, off to port, what appears to be a pair of rocks, which start moving and biting each other! Then she sees a blast of steam erupt from the water. “Wow, they are big enough to ride! Cool!” She watches them for a bit longer before ...

Pilot- “What? Give me the spyglass!” He grabs it and points it where you were looking. “Captain! Dragon turtles, 200 yards port!”

DM: Captain Quack jumps up. “Hard to starboard!  Raise the sails!” He runs up to the pilot house and looks over at the dragon turtles. “Ha! They’re too busy fighting to notice us. Two lookouts to stern for one hour!”

“Aye Captain!”

DM: The rest of the day passes uneventfully, as does the next. The ship arrives in the Port of Shiboleth at dusk on day four, and nautical things happen quickly; the passengers are corralled belowdecks temporarily.

Saluki hasn’t found nearly enough card games to cheat at this trip, and so is bored waiting to disembark.

DM: Eventually some random crew member tells you you can debark, by which time it’s fully night, although there are plenty of torches, etc, around to light your path.

Yudhisthir says to Arjun: “Let’s find an inn. I’m too tired to ask after Zod tonight.”

Arjun shrugs “Alright.”

Phaedra asks one of the crew for a recommendation on an inn for the night.

DM: Sailor- “Here they’re all pretty much the same, the big difference is that if you go to the Giant’s Skull you’ll meet a bunch of people waiting to go west to the war.”

Pheadra thanks him for the information. ‘Well, I suppose that’s as good a place to start as any!”

She heads that direction, Saluki trailing behind, looking around. If they pass by Arjun and Yudhisthir she’ll mention the info to them, to see if they’d like to join.

DM: You do run into each other at the back of the crowd of passengers, who have bunched up at the base of the wharf. There is, apparently, someone at the front shouting about something. You all see that the wharf doesn’t just open to the port, there is a stone archway and gate with several soldiers standing around. Hanging above the gate is a tapestry that appears to depict a male face of some species, probably human.

Phaedra adds, “If it’s people from all over, someone might have heard of your thief.”

Arjun agrees to accompany them to the inn. Yudhisthir keeps his opinion to himself, as he is trying to listen to the shouting.

DM: A large man shouts to the crowd: “Welcome to Gran March! All Visitors must register with Royal Border Guard, and pay the entry tariff! We are also looking for volunteers and mercenaries in our war with the giants on our western border! If you are interested in dangerous work for lavish pay, speak to this dwarf right here!”

DM: Foghorn Leghorn gestures to a dwarf you can’t see, cause you’re at the back, and he’s short.

DM: Unseen Dwarf- “Uhhh….yes! The Commandant Vrianian <the dwarf pauses, and you guess he’s gesturing at the tapestry> has seen fit to offer pay and bounties to anyone willing to support the liberation and reconquest of the Lost Lands of Gran March, Sterich, and Geoff! Interested parties can speak to me here or later at many of the fine eating establishments in the town of Shiboleth!”

DM: You hear a couple of the more mercenary-type people saying they’re interested.

perovskite:
Day 137: The Zod Hunters

(click to show/hide)DM- The crowd in front of you begins to file forward, and as you approach the arch, you pass by the dwarf, who is talking to a couple of mercenary-looking types about hiring on to fight giants.

Arjun and Yudhisthir stop briefly to ask the dwarf if anyone going by the name of Zod signed up.

Dwarf- “Can you describe him?”

Arjun “Medium height human, dark hair, left-handed. May be in the company of four others.Would have come from the south, one of his companions has a magical sword that glows red”

DM- Everyone but Saluki notice that Cyr, who had been his normally talkative and gregarious self with the other passengers the entire voyage, seems rather subdued.

Dwarf- “The sword guy I do remember. No, they didn’t sign up. But look, if you’re just after them, you might as well head for the Giant’s Skull. It’s the largest bar in the port, and they probably would have stopped there for a drink. Are you interested in signing up to fight giants?”

Arjun: “Not until we talk to Zod, but thanks for the information.” He tips the guy a silver and he and Yudhisthir step aside, to wait for the others.

Phaedra says, “Sir, if we do sign up, does it require joining a military unit, or are some groups more independent?”

DM- The dwarf pockets the silver piece. “You all strike me as the more independent type, and yes we do hire independent groups, depending on need. But those are short term contracts, not regular work.”

Phaedra -”Hmm, thank you for the information, we will have to consider what the best course for our group is, and will find you later.” She smiles charmingly and moves to join Arjun and Yud. Along the way she’ll pat Cyr on the shoulder and say, “feeling alright, Cyr?”

Cyr, who seems to not have been paying attention- “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.”

DM- The dwarf is not charmed by your smile. “Look, I’ll be at the Giant’s Skull later anyway, that’s where all the new hires stay before we head out.” He turns his attention to the more regular mercenary types.”

Yudhisthir leads the way away from the docks, heading toward the Giants Skull.

DM- At the end of the pier, at the archway, in a booth, sits a tired and bored looking functionary, who gives each character a thick paper card, on which he writes their name, date of entry, and city of entry, and occupation.

“Keep this with you at all times, otherwise you may be drafted into the war effort.”

Arjun and Yudhisthir tuck their cards into secure locations.

Phaedra puts hers in a leather fold that she keeps all her papers in (she’s very organized), while Saluki shoves his in his pack somewhere.

Yudhisthir and Phaedra, who happen to be adjacent to Cyr as they pass through the booth, hear him give his name as “Griswold of Hiasport, Journeyman locksmith.” Yudhisthir doesn’t care. Phaedra mentally tucks this info away for later.

DM- After you pass through the gate, you find that there is a wide selection of dive bars and houses of ill repute right along the waters edge. Franco’s Nine Tails, the Dragon Turtle, the Giant’s Skull (complete with what appears to be an actual giant’s skull hanging in front) are all bars, and there are several buildings with frosted windows, through which the silhouette of an attractive woman can be seen.

Yudhisthir heads straight for the Giant’s Skull, Arjun trailing in his wake. Phaedra follows, Saluki as well, but he seems like he’s scoping out the other establishments as well.

DM- As promised, the Giant’s Skull is indeed the largest bar/inn/dining hall, with attached stable and various other amenities. The noise can be heard quite a ways off, but aside from being loud and full of scummy villains, it seems no worse than any other place you’ve ever been.

Arjun muses “Not quite a wretched hive, but it should do…” He scans the crowd looking for the group of thieves. Yudhisthir, meanwhile, looks for someone who works there to ask if men or a group fitting the description has come through.

Yudh happens to talk to someone who seems to have a personal vendetta against Zod. “Zod? That bastard? Half the men in here would kill him on sight. If he passed through the great city of Shiboleth, in which you sit, it was in disguise, under an assumed name, and he’s gone already.”

Yudhisthir: “Well, damn. His companions too you think? Even the one with the magical sword that glows red? The recruitment dwarf said he at least passed through here.”

V for Vendetta considers for a moment. “I don’t know of anyone he travels with who has a red sword, so if Yurval saw him, the sword is probably new.”

Yudhisthir: “Where might he have gone from here?”

V for Vendetta takes a swig of his ale, after listening to Yudh stumble over his words for a minute. “The man is a well known con artist throughout Gran March, wanted for all manner of crimes, including, they say, in the slave trade that goes on in Moffat. So if he is back in Gran March, he’s likely headed to Hochoch, on the border of the Lost Lands. It’s due west of here six days.”

Yudhisthir: “Thanks. I’m grateful for your help. Have another ale or two, on me.” He slides a gold coin next to the guy’s mug.

V- “Thank you, lad. When you meet him, you greet him with a dagger in the gut, from everyone in Gran March, you hear?”

Yudhisthir laughs “Gladly!” and goes to rejoin Arjun.

He pokes Arjun in the ribs and relays the information that V gave him.

Arjun: “Excellent! We have our next destination then.”

Phaedra - “You are heading out then?” She pauses. “Would you like assistance? Since he is supposed to be traveling with so many companions, just the two of you seems a bit dangerous.”

Arjun smiles “We’ll rest here for the night, but I’d welcome the help if you have nothing more pressing to do. We didn’t exactly fare well last time we tangled with them.”

Yudhisthir is not saying anything, but he doesn’t look displeased.

Pheadra - “We’d love to join, and it gives us a chance to scope out the situation here better. I’m just not sure at the moment what the way we can best help is, so gathering more information about the full situation seems prudent. What about you, Cyr? Want to get out of this city and head to Hochoch?”

Cyr looks a little uncomfortable, but says, after a pause “Yeah, I’ll go with you guys.” He sighs. “I don’t normally tell people this, but I’m kinda from this region, so if you have any questions about it, ask.”

Phaedra smiles. ‘Delightful! We have our own local guide.”

Cyr- “Yeah, I’ll give you some history about the area…” and he then relates essentially what is in the Knowledge for the Locals Prologue.

Phaedra - “So it sounds like Hochoch is an area still in dispute, we’ll have to careful when going there. “ At this moment, Saluki returns from his game of cards with one of the other tables. “We’re going where now?”

Phaedra - “Hochoch. If you paid more attention, you’d already know these things.” She glowers.

At this point you hear someone calling for quiet from one end of the dining hall, where there is a small stage. “Ladies and Gentlemen! I am Yurval, a recruiter for the Grand Army of Gran March!”

Random Heckler- “Shut up Yurval, if we were going to sign up we would have!”

Yurval ignores him. “For those of you who have signed up to fight the giants, we will be leaving town tomorrow morning at 9 of the clock! Be outside on Faring Street, that side <he points at a side that is not the front> of the inn!”

Phaedra - “I wonder if it would be worthwhile to see if he has any jobs for independent groups in Hochoch? Two birds, one stone, and all that.”

Arjun: “We could ask.”

Yudhisthir: “I’m not helping with anything that takes away from the primary mission.”

Arjun “Easy, brother. If we’re going out that was anyway, we may as well get paid for it.”

Yudhisthir mutters sullenly.

Phaedra - “Why don’t Arjun and I go talk to Yurval, and you three can hold down the table?”

Saluki - “Fine with me. Care for a game of cards? Bird boy? Stick kid?” He starts shuffling.

Yudhisthir sneers “If you’re that determined to lose…”

Cyr shrugs. “Sure, I’ll play.”

Saluki starts dealing.

Phaedra and Arjun approach Yurval!

Phaedra - “Mr. Yurval, do you have a moment?”

Yurval- “Oh, you guys again! Yes, have you decided you want a job?”

Phaedra - “We have decided to travel to the town of Hochoch, and so were wondering if you had any jobs that required heading in that direction.”

Yurval- “Ha! All of them. What are you looking for? Guard duty? Messenger? Cook? Drover?”

Phaerdra starts “ Well--”

Arjun breaks in “What pays best? We have experience with herd animals, and we can all fight. Or we could do a combination of things, if the messages aren’t too urgent.”

Yurval motions for you to lean in, and lowers his voice. “The real jobs, the ones that really pay, I can’t talk about here, but I can in Hochoch.” He straightens up, and talks at a normal volume. “Well, not herding cows, I can tell you that! Why don’t you march with us to Hochoch, and I’ll be able to show you what’s available there.”

Arjun “Deal. See you tomorrow!”

They head back to the table.

Cyr looks up from his cards. “Well?”

Saluki appears to be slightly ahead in the game of Stoneport Hold Em. Yudhisthir is very behind.

Phaedra fills them in, including the ominous offer of jobs that “really pay.” Quietly, of course.

Arjun: “I have a good feeling about this though.”

Yudhisthir glares “Great. Kord again? A chance for great feats of heroism no doubt?”

Arjun grins but doesn’t reply.

You all can get rooms from Cedric without trouble, and get to sleep fine. BUT, at dawn, you’re all thundered out of bed by the sound of trumpets going off all over town!

Yudhisthir “Well that’s one way to wake up…”

The group convenes to find out what’s going on.

DM- When you get down to the dining hall, you notice that no one seems particularly concerned about the trumpets. Cedric’s younger brother, who also works at the inn, sees you and says, “Newcomers, I take it? Don’t worry, the trumpets for an attack are much different, and last longer. That’s just to wake everyone up. Would you like breakfast?”

Saluki’s grip on his scimitar loosens. Slightly.

Arjun, looking utterly unconcerned “Sure, Breakfast would be great, thanks.”

After eating, they get ready and go out to meet Yurval’s group.

Yurval is shouting at some people who are getting three wagons organized. He’s pretty distracted, and so the most you get out of him is, “Great, you’re here, just follow the wagons when they leave, should be about an hour.” It looks like there’s about 100 other people who are going with him.

Phaedra - “Huh, they have more people than I would have thought. I suppose this place must attract adventurers.”

Cyr- “Yeah, some, but most will only stick around for a year or so before they get tired of it and leave. The ones that survive, at least. The war’s been in kind of a stalemate for three years now.”

Eventually Yurval gets the wagons shouted into shape, and all three of them are loaded down with food. At that point he gets on the last one and yells, “Right, if you’re headed to Hochoch, follow me!” And the wagons start moving. Everyone but Yurval and the wagon drovers walks.

Phaedra - “Tally-ho, I suppose!”

Cue overland travel music!

DM- Nothing significant happens the first four days. The caravan passes through farmland, through a rather dark forest (called the Dim Forest), and a couple of small towns (three, in order from east to west: Beadnell, Audley, and Orlane), each more fortified than the last. The last two, the caravan passes what appears to be a different caravan, but one that has had a bunch of large (100-150 lb) rocks dropped on it, several dozen of them. Various crushed horse skeletons, broken siege engines, and wagon parts can be seen.

At each town, everyone’s entry document is checked, and anyone without is pulled aside for questioning, while the rest continue west. 1-2 people get pulled aside each time. Saluki has somehow managed to not lose his papers, despite appearances.

Arjun notices that Cyr had been talking to the people who got pulled aside, a day or so prior. He finds this curious and asks Yudhisthir if he’d noticed people protesting that they’d had papers. Yudhisthir hadn’t, because he doesn’t care, but resolves to keep an eye on Cyr from now on.

DM- After passing through the town of Orlane, you’re about a day’s march away from Hochoch. The smashed caravan was located between Orlane and Hochoch. On the evening of the sixth day of travel, the wagons, which have been at the front the whole time, slow, and Yurval stands on the back once again.

Once you crest the rise, you can clearly see a large town on the far side of the river, and can easily see that it has been through several battles, even from here.

Yurval- “Look hard at this! That is the city of Hochoch, the only foothold in the Lost Lands! Everything across that river, and outside the city walls, is the territory of the giants!”

The group continues heading toward the tent city that has sprung up on the near side of the river, and soon after you can smell the packed mass of humanity. Even in the early evening, it’s full of activity, although a lot of that seems to be drinking and card games.

Everyone’s card gets checked at the ramparts to the tent city (and once again, someone is pulled aside). Yurval shouts at most of the group to head this way or that, but only says to wait when he sees the party. Eventually everyone else is disposed of, and he talks to you.

Yurval- “Okay, from here I have some stuff to keep me busy with for a day or so, so take the ferry across the river, have a look around, and I’ll meet you at the Nymph’s Arms the morning day after tomorrow.” And he rushes off to do whatever it is he does.

Arjun “Alright! Ferry it is.” He starts walking. Phaedra follows, Saluki is again scoping out good gambling opportunities.

There are probably half a dozen card or dice game within 100 feet of you, all patronised by soldier-looking people. He’ll keep that in mind for later.

The dock for the ferry is right next to what used to be a bridge across the river. The ferryman says it’s one gold eagle per person.

Arjun holds out a gold coin “Is this the correct amount?”

Ferryman eyes it for 1/10 of a microsecond and then snatches it from Arjun’s hand. “Close enough.” Yudhisthir pays. Phaedra and Saluki also pay. Cyr pays as well, and doesn’t appear to swindle anything from anyone.

The ride across the river takes about ten minutes, and on the far side you again see a pretty standard assortment of shallow-water port facilities, bars, etc, and several streets leading uphill. A ways away on your right you can see the somewhat smashed remnants of a fort, which is on a bluff overlooking a bend in the river.

Phaedra - “To the Nymph’s Arms, I suppose!”

A nearby dockworker hears this, does a double take, and gives you all a funny look. “Are you sure you can afford it? Ha!”

Arjun stops “It’s an expensive inn, then?”

A different funny look, implying that you’re kind of dumb. “Yes, mostly nobles stay there, and I think they would not like your sort tracking mud into the carpets! But that’s none of my business.”

Yudhisthir “Hn. It’s not as though we have to stay there. We just have to meet there. Let’s go.”

Phaedra self-consciously brushes some dirt off her clothes. “Nobles, huh.” She pauses. “Wait, why are there nobles in a war zone?”

Arjun “Duty, honor, and glory?”

Yudhisthir “Money, and the desire to have land over which to be nobles?”

Cyr- “I heard most of them ran for Shiboleth when Hochoch was taken by the giants. So maybe the hotel is just keeping up appearances.”

Saluki - “May as well check out the place so we know where it is, we can always pick somewhere else to stay if they look like they’ll kick us out!”

DM- So you wander around town for a while, and if you ask people for directions, they give you funny looks, but do point you toward the Nymphs Arms. As you walk, you can take stock of the damage the town has received. Most of the fighting was in the larger streets, some of which are clear, and some of which aren’t. You also see the occasional large rock lying in the road or embedded in a wall.

Finally, you arrive at the Nymph’s Arms, which looks like it was, before, thoroughly glamorous, and is now partly hidden behind ramparts and barricades. Even from the street you can see the place took a beating and burning at least twice. There are a few guards standing around in front of a break in the barricades.

perovskite:
Day 144: The Zod Hunters

(click to show/hide)You’re still loitering in the street in front of the Nymphs Arms. The guards are eyeballing you. Fluttering at the top of the hotel you can see a coat of arms (presumably for Geoff): a shield divided in half lengthwise, black on the left, white on the right, with a griffon rampant facing left, colored the opposite of the background. There’s a specific heraldry-esque way of explaining this, but you don’t know what it is.

Yudhisthir: “Alright, we found it. Now let’s find somewhere cheap to sleep.”

Arjun: “That’s awfully hasty. We should at least check out the inside.”

Cyr- “Yeah, we should. You never know what you’ll find.”

Yudhisthir rolls his eyes heavenward. “Whatever.” He starts walking to the entrance, followed closely by his brother.

The guard on the left eyeballs you harder. “Papers, please.” He’s not friendly.

Yudhisthir and Arjun show their papers

Arjun “Afternoon, sir! We’re supposed to meet Yurval here in the morning the day after tomorrow. We thought we’d see what the place is like. We’ve heard a lot about it since arriving in town.”

The guard’s expression warms up a bit once you name drop Yurval. “Hmm, fine. I doubt the hotel will let you stay here, cause you don’t look like their kind of people, but go on in.”

Arjun: “Many thanks, man!’

He checks everyone’s papers as you file through. Cyr is last, and you hear the guard say something like, “Huh, you don’t really dress like a monk, Brother Swift.”

Phaedra - “Well, that went all right, I suppose.”

Yudhisthir mutters to Arjun “You talk too much, and that Cyr is really starting to make me suspicious.”

Arjun smiles serenely “You say that, but it got us in, didn’t it?”

Right behind the ramparts are some marble steps, and beyond those is what used to be a really nice inn. The larger holes have been patched, badly. The inside is the same, a high-class establishment with a couple of 400-lb rocks sitting in divots in the marble. One is conveniently located right in front of the reception desk, with a mostly patched skylight above it.

Cedric’s Snooty Cousin looks down his nose at you as you walk in. There are a couple of guards toward the corners, and one or two people who look like government functionaries of some kind, but it’s mostly pretty deserted. One guy in particular has a peg leg, but he ignores you as he hobbles by.

Arjun waves at CSC “Good evening, sir! We are supposed to meet Yurval here the morning after tomorrow, and we were wondering about you lodging rates?”

Saluki starts wandering around, seeing if the government functionaries are doing anything interesting without getting too close.

CSC- “...indeed. Formerly we charged 30 gold griffons per day, but in our reduced circumstances the remittance from you would be 50.”

The functionaries appear to be mostly following up on earlier conversations and calling it a night.

Phaedra - “Well, it sounds like everything is pretty straightforward as far as the meeting goes, why don’t we look around elsewhere for a bit more, I suppose?”

CSC looks displeased that you’re still around, but doesn’t tell you to leave. There is some kind of bar restaurant thingy to the left of the grand staircase, and a hall off to the right.

Arjun: “Agreed! We wouldn’t want to drive away the other customers.” He waves to CSC again and ambles out into the street.

You notice that most places either extinguish all their lights, or have heavy shutters. It’s nearly as dark as the countryside.

Phaedra - “I suppose the lack of light gives the giants fewer targets.”

Arjun hums affirmatively and goes over the guard they talked to on their way in. “Question for you, my man  - are there any inns here that might let us stay?

Guard- “Yeah, head that way” he points down the street “two blocks, turn left, and you’ll find a couple inns. They’ll have a candle in front if they’re in business.”

Arjun: “You’re a life-saver, man” He hands the guard a silver and calls to the others.

The coin disappears instantly.

The group heads down the way the guard indicated.

This street is by far the liveliest you’ve seen, in that there are people around at all. You do see a couple of establishments with a single candle lit in front of closed and shuttered doors and windows, but most of the inns have either a greasy looking man or a rather scantily clad woman standing in front. They all eyeball you as you walk by.

Saluki - “Welp, one candle is as good as another!” He chooses a random candle inn and opens the door.

It’s livelier inside, although still pretty subdued. There are a few people sitting around chatting (pretty mercenary looking types), and Cedric looks at you levelly as you walk in. There is also a scantily clad dwarf woman sitting at the bar, chatting with him.

Yudhisthir strides to the bar and, ignoring the dwarf, addresses Cedric. “We’re in need of lodging for tonight and tomorrow. Do you have any rooms available?”

Cedric- “Ha! Only all of them. Do you also want dinner? That’s a gold griffon for two meals a day, and the room is a gold griffon each night.”

Yudhisthir. “That’s fine.” He pulls out a couple gold coins. “Are these the right amount? I know they’re not local currency.”

Cedric shrugs. “These days, who cares?” He takes the money.

Phaedra and Saluki will also purchase rooms for themselves and two meals. Arjun as well.

Cyr pays also. Most of the party finds a table to sit at.

Saluki also orders a beer, if such things exist here, and seats himself next to the dwarf woman. “Saluki of the Mountain Wolves, at your service. And you are…?”

The dwarf smirks, chuckles, and checks him out. “Honey, I’m Kratha, proprietor of this establishment and most of the others on this street. You’re new in town?”

Saluki - “We are indeed, just rolled in with the most recent caravan of new recruits. Though I think my compatriots and I are looking for more specialized work than the average good soldier.”

Her eyes narrow a bit. “You all do look like more than the average soldier. What kind of work are you looking for?”

Saluki - “Well, we’re open to different opportunities… messengers, spies, covert strike team, who knows? We have a meeting later with Yurval about it, he seems pretty famous around here. You know of him?”

Kratha- “Ha, he’s just a recruiter for the Duke, not really important, but yes, he’s very well known.”

Saluki - “Is the Duke in charge of this town?”

Kratha- “He wants to be. Gran March, the country across the river, wants to annex this area as payment for helping the Duke fight off the giants, so he moved here a couple weeks ago to prevent that.”

Saluki - “I can’t imagine those of you that have been in this town a while appreciate him moving in like that.”

Kratha- “Who cares? He doesn’t interfere with me, and before he came back, the giants and orcs had the run of the place. I was stuck in Orlane until Hochoch was retaken, and believe me, honey, that was no picnic.”

Saluki smiles. “Well, I’m glad it was retaken too then! You must be pretty important yourself if you own this whole street.”

Kratha smirks again. “Depends on who you ask. Cedric, can you ask around and see if anyone has any employment for this fine man and his friends? I’m sure we can come up with something.”

Cedric- “Certainly, ma’am.”

Saluki - “Delightful! We’d be happy to help the citizens of Hochoch however it is needed.” He hems a bit. “I should run any particulars by my group first, of course.”

Kratha extends her hand. “It was pleasant to meet you, Saluki. I’m going to be the boss for a few hours, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing you later.” She winks, downs her drink, and heads out.

Saluki grins. “Absolutely, madam.” He rejoins the others at whatever table they’ve acquired.

The others are well into their meals.

Saluki - “Looks like Yurval isn’t the only game in town, Kratha there owns this whole street and says she’ll keep us in mind for jobs as well.”

Arjun: “Well that’s good to know!”

Yudhisthir finished his meal and goes the bar to talk to Cedric.

Cedric- “Good evening again. What can I do for you?”

Yudhisthir: “My Brother and I are looking for a man who goes by the name of Zod.” He describes Zod and his companions again.

Cedric- “Hmmmm...Zod is a pretty notorious criminal, but I would have to ask around for some specifics....which can get pretty expensive. I do know that he is back in the region, or at least is said to be.”

Yudhisthir slides two gold across the bar. “We have some questions to ask him, so anything you can find would be appreciated.”

Cedric takes the coins. “Around here, information isn’t cheap.”

Yudhisthir slides two more gold across the bar “I see that.”

Cedric takes the third and fourth coins. “I’ll see what I can do. Are you and your friends mostly settled for the night?”

Yudhisthir “I expect so. We’ll be around town tomorrow and probably back here that night.”

Cedric- “Delightful. Then I’m sure I’ll see you in the morning.”

Yudhisthir “You have my thanks.” he returns to the table.

Arjun: “Well?”

Yudhisthir: “He knows of him. But like everything else here, information is at a premium.”


Arjun shrugs: “So be it. We have plenty.”

Cyr looks pretty interested in going to bed. It’s been a long day.

<Cue nighttime sleeping music!>

Next Morning!

The boys come down for breakfast.

There is a youthful looking man behind the counter who is NOT CEDRIC. HAS THE WORLD COME TO AN END?

Man- “You guys want breakfast?”

Cyr also comes down at this point.

Arjun; “If you please! Eh… somehow I expected Cedric to be manning the bar…”

Man- “He said he had some errands to run today, so it I’m filling in. Name’s Herzog.”

Arjun: “Huh. Nice to meet you!”

Saluki also comes down, chipper as ever. He only looks surprised for a minimum of moments before ordering breakfast.

Eventually Phaedra emerges as well. She looks put together, but also glares at the morning sun a bit.

You sit down and get some food. Herzog brings it over to you, and only nearly trips and drops everything a couple of times (but manages not to). While you’re eating, you see Yurval walk in. He looks around.

Arjun calls out; “Yurval! Good morning!”

Yurval- “Oh! There you are. My boss is ready to meet with you as soon as you’re done with breakfast, over at the Nymph’s Arms.

Arjun: “Already? Alright.”

Yurval- “Yeah, apparently they have something specific they want to interview you for. Anyway. Just go to the front desk and ask to see Vincent.”
Phaedra - “We’ll be there soon, I suppose!”

Herzog- “Man, you guys are working for Vincent? Wow.”

Yudhisthir: “You know him?”

Herzog- “I know OF him. He’s the Duke’s right hand man. You can’t miss him, he’s only got one leg. I think he lost it fighting the giants during the invasion.”

Yudhisthir: “What kind of man do people say he is? Fair? Hard? Honest?”

Yurval is long gone by this point.

Herzog- “All three, I guess.”

Yudhisthir: “Anything else?”

Herzog- “Not really. He does work for the Duke, so whatever you do, don’t screw it up.”

Arjun: “Thanks for the advice!” He leaves a gold on the table as he gets up to leave.

Everybody heads over to the Nymph’s Arms! As you leave the inn, you note that it’s called the Flying Castle.

Phaedra - “Didn’t a guy with a peg leg walk past us in the Arms yesterday?”

Cyr- “Yup.”

Phaedra - “I wonder if he called us over early because he saw us and thought we were….” She glances over the group, “ah…. Perfect for the job?”

Yudhisthir mutters “Expendable.”

At the barricade, it’s the same guards as last night, looking really tired. They recognise you though, and let you through after glancing at your paperwork again.

Cedric’s Snooty Cousin sighs in dismay when you walk in. You can hear this from 30 feet away.

Arjun: “Morning, sir! We’re here at Vincent’s bidding to meet with him”

CSC- “...certainly you are.” He summons a bellhop, who runs off, presumably to find Vincent. After a few minutes the bellhop returns and says “Please follow me, lady and gentlemen.”

The group follows the bellhop.

He takes you to what was probably a private dining hall at one point, but has been converted into some kind of command center. It’s fairly busy, with various unifomed types heading in and out, and the old, kinda crusty, peg legged guy sitting at the end of the table. He stands as you walk in.

Vincent- “Are you the mercenaries Yurval sent here?”

Phaedra  - “Yes sir, that is us.”

Vincent- “Good, have a seat and get some coffee. What brings you to this part of the world?”

There’s a coffee service on a table next to the wall.

Arjun: “My brother” He gestures to Yudhisthir ”and I are seeking a thief and his companions. These others seek adventure and have agreed to help us with ours.”

Vincent- “Huh. What do you think of Gran March?”

<crickets>

Vincent squints. “No opinion, then? What thief are you chasing?”

Arjun: “One by the name of Zod, who, last we saw traveled with four other men, one of whom wields a red-glowing sword.”

Vincent- “Huh, that bastard. He’s small potatoes compared to what we’re dealing with here, but he is a nuisance, and no mistake. He’s wrapped up in a slave trading ring, runs some other stuff too. Well, if you accept this job, your pursuit for him will be your hobby, not your job.”

Phaedra - “We’re waiting on information about him currently anyway, so we’re free. And it sounds like he’s well known here, so I’m sure there will be plenty of time to find him once your job is finished, I suppose. What type of job is it you’d like us to undertake?”

Vincent squints more, and hobbles over to a map. He points at Hochoch. “This is us. See this town, called Midwood? It was attacked eight years ago, like every other town west of here. But the reports since then all say it’s peaceful and prosperous. All you have to do is go there, find out the truth of this, and report back. That’s all.”

Phaedra - “A scouting mission, then. And according to the map, it seems like it’s only a day or two’s journey away, I suppose.”

Vincent- “The cartographer placed the town wrong. It’s on that river to the west, so it’s around 35 miles away if you travel by road, which you shouldn’t do if you want to survive. This mission is your job interview. Do well, and I’ll have other work for you.”

Phaedra - “Seems reasonable. Pay for this job would be upon our return as well, then?”

Vincent- “The pay for this job is whatever you can take off any orcs or giants you can kill, plus the prospect of future employment.”

Phaedra smiles thinly. “Well, as long as the future employment pays a bit better, I suppose this is acceptable….?” She looks around at the others.

Arjun: “That’ll work for now.”

Yudhisthir sneers but says nothing.

Cyr- “Yeah, that’s fine.”

Vincent snaps his head around when Cyr talks. “From Sterich, I hear? Hmm, we’ll see how this goes. I’ll not have an infiltrator working for us.”

Cyr goes pale. “I haven’t lived in Sterich for years, I’m, uhh, as mercenary as everyone else here, you don’t need to worry about me.”

Phaedra - “He travelled with us all the way from Moffat, I can confirm he hasn’t been here recently.” She looks a little concerned at Vincent’s reaction.

Vincent glares for a minute. “Get you going, we have other things riding on the information you bring back.”

The party leaves.

Once they’re outside, Yudhisthir speaks. “I need to go back to our inn before we leave.” He walks off in that direction without waiting to see if anyone else follows. Arjun follows him ,but more slowly.

Phaedra turns to Cyr. “I suppose this country must have some disagreement with Sterich?”

Cyr sighs. “Yeah, look, Sterich is the next country south, and Geoff’s old capitol, Gorna, is near the old border. The giants took it and most of Sterich, but that’s all been recaptured. Sterich is probably just trying to carve their piece out of Geoff, just like Gran March is.”

Phaedra - “His ire seemed rather more than simply that, I wonder if something else has happened since you were last here. We’ll have to be careful.”

Cyr- “I have no idea.”
---------------------
Back at the Flying Castle, Cedric is once again behind the bar. He greets Yudh as he walks in.

Yudhisthir: “I don’t suppose you’ve any news of Zod?” He orders a drink.

Cedric- “For the amount you paid, all I could learn is that one of Zod’s slaving routes starts inside the Lost Lands, and allegedly runs near here. That’s all.”

Yudhisthir counts out 10 gold. “Alright. We’re leaving presently, but should be back at some point.”

Cedric- “This’ll help for next time. Stay safe.”

Yudhisthir “Thanks.” He finishes his drink and leaves to rejoin the others.

It doesn’t take you long to find the main gate, which looks like it’s been smashed down and repaired more than once. The guards look pretty incredulous when you ask to head out, but open the gate a crack regardless.

Except for a few insects, it is dead silent outside the walls.

Arjun: “Well, off the road then.” The group sets out due west, sticking to cover as much as possible.

You see the occasional old moldered residue of battles from years past (but not that many years past), but for the whole morning you don’t encounter anything but plants (non-carnivorous).

Phaedra and Saluki hear something, Arjun sees something, and Yudh does both. The something is a pair of orcs, walking along with weapons drawn.

Arjun and Yudhisthir both pull out their ranged weapons and get behind the nearest concealment.

Yudhisthir points out the orcs to Phaedra and Saluki.

Phaedra nods, mutters something quietly, and then climbs the nearest tree. Saluki draws a scimitar.

Cyr also saw them, and drew his crossbow, which he’s loading. Cyr steps on a really dry branch, which snaps loudly.

The orcs look in that direction and see at least one of you. They stop, and one turns and shouts something behind him in orcish.

Cyr fires his crossbow really quick, nailing one orc in the throat and dropping it.

Yudhisthir slings a stone at him. The last orc stumbles but doesn’t fall; you bounced the rock off his head (a non-vital organ).

The remaining orc drops his sword and pulls out a javelin to throw at you, while still yelling. He throws a javelin, and misses handily. You can definitely hear more orcs (or at least more shouting).

Phaedra fires an eldritch blast from her perch!

The orc dodges it, but just barely. He has a really weird look on his face. Something between awe and horror.

Saluki looks back at Phaedra, confused, as he’s never seen that kind of magic before. He then shrugs and moves to the front of the group, to take on any orcs that approach.

Arjun grabs the orc’s javelin and tests its heft. Seems like a pretty normal javelin to you.

A bunch more orcs (you count six initially) arrive huffing from the woods. A slightly larger one is shouting at them in orcish; they all have javelins out, except for the leader, who has a scimitar.

Cyr picks a random minion and fires again, but misses.

Yudh targets the same orc as he hit earlier, but his stone goes wide. He drops his sling and draws his swords.

The orc sneers at you and promptly throws his javelin into the ground about 15 feet ahead of him.

Saluki runs to the orc Yudh injured and strikes it with his sword. He was pretty woozy from the sling stone, so Saluki cuts his throat pretty easily, and he drops.

Phaedra blasts the orc to the left of Saluki. He is slightly singed. Looks like it took a bit out of him, though.

Arjun throws the orc’s javelin back in its general direction. And misses. Yudhisthir shouts at him “Stop goofing off!”

Saluki - “Don’t give the weapon’s back! This isn’t dodge ball!”

Cyr loads and fires at the singed orc. And misses. “Dammit!”

Three orcs throw their javelins at Saluki, cause he’s convenient. One has to take a 5’ step. Only one of them hits, though.

Yudhisthir runs toward the nearest orc and slashes at him. He connects at the neck, nearly decapitating the orc, who dies immediately.

Saluki sidesteps to the right, and hit the orc there. You hit him hard enough that he passes out, but he’s still breathing.

Since another orc has moved just inside Phaedra’s range, she’ll fire at him! She hits! He’s still up, but doesn’t look happy about it.

Arjun, since he’s out of range of just about everybody, will move closer and throw a javelin at the guy to the left of the party. The orc drops, but doesn’t sound dead.

Cyr doesn’t have a clear shot, so he moves over to his left, but far enough that that’s all he’s doing.

Yudhisthir advances and attack the nearest orc (ruining Cyr’s sightlines undoubtedly). You slash the orc soundly, but all he does is draw his sword and swing back. Or tries to, he drops the sword while drawing it, leaving him unarmed. Yudhisthir takes advantage and strikes with his longsword, killing the orc.

The only remaining orc on the front line turns to run away! Two of the others throw javelins at Saluki, while the leader steps toward Yudh. One misses, but the nearer one hits pretty hard. Yudhisthir takes a hard hit from the orcs’ leader.

Phaedra climbs down from her tree and advances, moving around the large one to a place she can hit the others from.

Saluki moves into flank the big guy! He swings and hits, but the orc doesn’t drop.

Phaedra fires at javelin guy! He falls over, gently cooked.

Arjun draws his sword and move (so slow) to assist Yudhisthir.

Yudhisthir is stunned from his injury and can’t get his swords to work right. He misses his attempts at the orc leader.

Cyr loads and fires yet again, planting a crossbow bolt in the orc’s face. He dies.

The orc leader swings back…but misses.

Phaedra and Cyr can hear the running orc shouting at someone.

 Saluki stabs the orc in the back and he collapses all gurgly and stuff.

Arjun runs for Yudhisthir and lays hands on him, healing most of his injury.

Phaedra - “We should go, I suppose, more are coming.”

Cyr- “Start running north?”

Phaedra - “That’s the direction he ran, across the river first is better!”

Saluki and Yudh both notice that the lead orc’s scimitar is extremely high quality, as are four of the javelins laying nearby.

Saluki will grab it, saying, “Ooh, I’ve been looking for second one of these!”

Yudhisthir grabs the javelins, shoves them at Arjun and goes to look for his sling, which he finds immediately.

Cyr is quickly rifling through the nearest orcs pockets. And then shoots him in the face, cause he was still alive.

Phaedra will do a quick rifle herself, since she’s near a bunch. And will fry the one near her that’s still alive. The only thing she finds is a kind of crumpled note.

Arjun “Let’s go! We should set up an ambush!”

Phaedra - “I don’t see a good spot for it, if we cross the river they shouldn’t be able to follow very easily.”

Cyr- “Unless whoever he’s running to is still on the other side.”

Arjun notices that Saluki is injured and grabs him for a quick heal

Everyone runs to the river.

By the time you get there, you can see three orcs, plus two other people, who look like they’re chained up, splashing onto the opposite bank.

Phaedra urgently signals everyone to turn around until they’re not quite so obviously in sight.

Arjun “There’s only three of them. Let’s get them!”

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