With the current situation regarding Covid-19, Sian’s ongoing ill health, and Ouro having family issues, we have been finding it hard to keep to our regular gaming sessions. However, we were able to make up the time with a super-session on Saturday, where we managed to play from 3 pm to 10 pm. This 7-hour session meant that were were not only able to complete an entire adventure, but also get an introductory tour of the town of Haven.
Tour of the Town
The introductory tour featured me pointing out the features of the town, and the services and people to be found within. This allowed the players to put some context to where they were getting their training, and where they we able to get supplies. It also meant that they could see where they were staying, and gave them a little more investment into the town. Whilst it was very quick and light on roleplaying, it was fun by all to put some names to places when we were prepping between adventures.
Once we had finished up with the town, we moved on to the next adventure – the Mystery of Undertown. The adventure started with the Captain of the Watch, Falgur Ironstone, explaining the situation to the party. The Watchtower had been breached from below, and two of the guards had been found dead. The party were to explore the tunnels below the tower and find out what happened, and to deal with any threat found in the depths. Elanna, Michifer, Niles, and Thaddeus – all now second level characters – took up the challenge and descended the ladder leading below the town.
Into the Depths
At the bottom of the ladder, the party found evidence that something had been camping beneath the tower, as not only were there several piles of goods stacked up in an alcove, but a burnt-out fire-pit and several slept-in bedrolls were on the flow by the ladder. Hidden among the goods, the party found 10 gold pieces in a belt pouch, which had been embroidered with the letter H. Elanna suggested that they keep hold of the pouch, and see if they can return it at some point in the future, as it possibly belonged to one of the guards.
Once they were satisfied, the party headed to what they assumed to be east, through some tunnels. The tunnels were rough, with small stalactites on the ceiling. These seemed innocuous enough, until Niles led the party into a dead end. Looking to explore the end of the passage for secrets, Niles failed to spot the two piercers hanging from the ceiling. The first dropped on Niles, but missed, and as the party approached to finish it off, the second also dropped on the party, but missed it’s target. Resolving to be more careful around stalactites in future, the party returned to a branching tunnel after finishing off the now vulnerable piercers.
The tunnel seemed unstable, as there were no stalactites here, but a small trickle of dust fell from the ceiling as frequent intervals. Niles warned the party to be careful and picked his way though the tunnel. Elanna and Michifer followed. Thaddeus brought up the rear. Unfortunately, the dust was too much for Thaddeus, and after a severe bought of coughing, the mage lent upon the wall to catch his breath. Seconds later, the dust falling from the ceiling got worse and the front of the tunnel collapsed, engulfing Elanna, Michifer, and Thaddeus in a massive cloud of debris and dust, and covering the ground with debris that partially blocked the tunnel. Busting themselves off, the party pressed on through the tunnel, assuming that they were over the worst. However, this conclusion was in error, as Elanna accidentally brushed against the wall near the end of the tunnel, triggering yet another collapse and cloud of debris, this time engulfing Elanna, Michifer, and Niles.
Beyond the tunnel, the party discovered yet more branching tunnels, and Niles led the way to a dead end. Remembering the piercers from the previous dead end, the halfling no longer trusted the stalagmites and decided to shoot a number of arrows at the suspicious tunnel roof. At first, it seemed like the halfling was wasting his time, as several arrows clattered off of solid rock, but his caution proved wise when a arrow struck a piercer hanging from the roof. Striking true, the arrow killed the creature and caused it to fall to the ground were it quickly dissolved into the primitive ooze it was.
Friend or Foe?
Niles, emboldened by the fact that he’d found a piercer, continued firing arrows at the stalactites, looking for others. Unfortunately for the party, the noise had drawn the attention of a group of small blue creatures which were later identified as being xvarts. Caught off-guard, with weapons drawn and Niles firing at the ceiling, a combat seemed inevitable, but Thaddeus moved forwards and cast a spell that would change the course of the encounter and have lasting ramifications for the adventure, and the campaign – charm person.
Thaddeus’ spell worked on the leader of the group, who instantly become much more friendly. The small blue creature asked the party to accompany them to their lair and see their leader – King Teg. Thaddeus accepted, urging the others to sheave their weapons, and the rest of the party wisely agreed.
Welcome to Undertown
The patrol led the party to the xvarts’ lair, a large cavern that had been barricaded by wooden fences. The leader explained that the party were “friends” coming to see King Teg, and the barricade was moved to allow entry. Beyond, almost 30 of the small blue creatures and six giant rats were to be found among a number of camp fires and dirty bedding.
In the centre of the cavern, by the biggest campfire, stood the mighty King Teg, a blue creature almost as diminutive as the others, distinguished only by the fact that he wore a rather battered headdress marking his status within the tribe. The leader of the patrol, still charmed by Thaddeus’ spell declared their arrival as “friends” of the tribe. King Teg looked skeptically at the armed party, but Michifer stepped forward and presented King Teg with a gift of peace and friendship – a small blue emerald.
King Teg eagerly accepted the shiny blue gemstone with obvious glee, and instantly warmed up to Michifer and the party, declaring them “best friends” of the tribe. King Teg explained that they had been living in these tunnels for generations, happy to keep themselves to themselves. When Michifer mentioned the death of the guards from the town above, King Teg responded that the Xvarts were not responsible. They didn’t want any trouble with the “big leggers” up above.
King Teg suggested that it might have been bugbears, bigger creatures that had recently invaded these tunnels, which was why the cavern had been barricaded. King Teg explained that a number of tribe members had been kidnapped by the bugbears for some reason, and begged their new “best friends” to help rescue them. King Teg stated that he had no reward for them, besides a shiny blue emerald, but that the party would be safe within the cavern of the Xvarts.
Michifer stated that the party would rescue the prisoners and defeat the invading bugbears, and that no reward was necessary. A grateful King Teg personally led the party to a large barricade on the west side of the cavern, which he stated would lead them to the bugbears. Venturing beyond the barricade, the party continued exploring the tunnels beneath Haven. These tunnels were short, connecting larger caverns that appeared to have been recently dug out and expanded.
Blundering into Bugbears
Rounding one corner into a sizable cavern, the party came across a ladder leading up out of the cavern. Daylight shone dimly from the hole, but before the party could react, two bugbears came climbing down the ladder. The bugbears weren’t expecting opposition, but their martial training quickly kicked in, and the creatures bellowed loudly into the darkness about invaders as they defended themselves. Unfortunately for them, it seemed as if there would be no reinforcements to aid them, as soon enough the creatures fell to the party.
Pressing on, the party came to another large chamber, where there were a number of small blue creatures roped together to the walls. They were some of the kidnapped Xvarts, now slaves to the bugbears and forced to dig out and expand the cavern, including a new tunnel to the surface. These small creatures were watched by two more bugbears, who yelled more warnings and then engaged the party. The combat was swift, and the bugbears quickly defeated, allowing the party to free the Xvarts.
Before the small creatures fled back to their lair, they revealed what they knew of their captors’ plans. The bugbears had invaded the caverns through a tunnel under town, similar to the one the Xvarts used generations ago found their lair. These bugbears were an advance party, kidnapping the Xvarts and using them to prepare the caverns under the town, and dig out tunnels to the surface. All this was in preparation for an attack on Haven by the army of the bugbear king, that was due to arrive and attack later during the night, hoping to slaughter the inhabitants of the town in their sleep.
The Bugbear Camp
The party knew that things were much more serious than a simple murder of the guards, and that then needed to find whomever was leading this advanced party and find a way to prevent the arrival of the bugbear king and his army. They didn’t have to look far, for in the next cavern they came across another two bugbears guarding what seemed to a hastily constructed tunnel. The party prepared to engage the foes, but were interrupted by a menacing voice from the darkness and a scraping sound as two skeletons stepped out from some crates in an nearby alcove.
The voice belonged to a bugbear that appeared to be some kind of shaman, and the party attempted to take him down quickly. Unfortunately, they were not quick enough, as the bugbears and skeletons engaged the party, and the party’s suspicions were confirmed when the bugbear created a small ball of light in his hand, and then used it to repair his wounds.
Shaman of Fear
Hard pressed, the party took a further blow when, soon after, the shaman cast a spell on Elanna. The fighter saw that the shaman covered himself in black fire, before reaching up and tearing his flesh from his face, to reveal the grinning head of a demon, and felling that the situation was helpless, was compelled to flee from the hideous monster towards the safety of the Xvart barricades.
With their main fighter now out of the fight, the combat looked lost, but the rest of the party remained resolved to fight till their last breath for their home town. Niles continued to harass the shaman with ranged fire, even as he was attacked by a glowing black warhammer of pure shadow created by the shaman. Realising their tactics weren’t working, Niles threw lit flasks of oil at the shaman, hoping to draw him out from the alcove that protected him, even if he couldn’t hit him. This seemed to work, and soon the shaman was dead.
Regrouping with Fire
With the shaman dead, the spell on Elanna dissipated, and she rallied, quickly rushing back to the combat. Sounds from the nearby tunnels alerted Thaddeus that a number of bugbears, drawn by the sounds of fighting, we approaching the party from behind. Niles, was quick off the mark and threw oil into the tunnel that the bugbears were approaching from, backed up by Thaddeus. Several bugbears were set ablaze, but more importantly, the mob of bugbears had been split up, and the tunnel was blocked by flames. This forced the bugbears to detour around through another unexplored cavern, giving Elanna time to reach the party and help defend against the bugbears approaching from the rear.
The party had managed to finally regroup, and they held their ground against the bugbears that were busy trying to reach them and defend their precious tunnel, whittling down their numbers one by one. As the last bugbear fell, the party heard a cheer from beyond the flaming tunnel – more Xvart slaves had been forced to work on another exit to the surface. As the party let the flames burn out, Niles realised that he could easily collapse the tunnel the bugbears had entered by, and soon the darkness was replaced by a wall of solid rock debris.
Welcome to the Alliance
Once the flames had died down, the party freed the Xvart slaves, who led them to another hole in the ceiling that led up to the surface, as well as pointing out several pit traps that the bugbears had set up to defend their own camp. The xvarts helped the party move and destroy the ladders to the surface, and escorted the blue creatures back to their cavern, where a surprisingly grateful King Teg welcomed his “best friends” enthusiastically.
King Teg was happy that the party had defeated the bugbears and rescued the kidnapped tribe members. King Teg once again offered his reward of the shiny blue emerald to the party, but Michifer once again said that wasn’t neccessary. Instead, Michifer suggested that if King Teg was truly happy, and wanted to keep out of trouble with the “big leggers” up on the surface, that the Xvart tribe sould agree to an alliance with Haven, protecting these caverns and sealing all the entrances to the town above. King Teg accepted, and between them, they quickly agreed to leave the entrance to the Watchtower open, with the rule that if the Xvarts wanted to communicate with the “big leggers” above, the would leave a pouch with a latter in it in the basement of the Watchtower.
Having completed their adventure above and beyond what they were told to do, and the elders of Haven, including Falgur Ironstone and the Patrician, all agreed that the party had done well to broker a mutual alliance with the Xvarts below. The party were rewarded handsomely for their efforts, and left to retire to the Willow Inn for a refreshing pint and to store their new found loot.
Elanna took the time to ask Ironstone about the pouch that they had found. The dwarf revealed that the embroidered H was the symbol of Haven, and that all guards were given a pouch as part of enrolling. The party decided to return the pouch to Ironstone, and because they were unable to identify which guard the 10 gold pieces within belonged to, to instead donate it to start a widows and orphans fund for the guard, to be managed by Ironstone.
After the Session
All in all, it was a really good session, and even though we spent a good hour just talking about the town and preparing the characters for their next adventure, it was good to see the party become invested with Haven, and it’s inhabitants. This was rewarded by the players electing to take roleplaying actions they might not otherwise consider to benefit the town, and the campaign.
Haven itself is no longer just some bland town in a poor valley, but no had valuable Xvart allies beneath it, and the guard have a Widows and Orphans fund of which the party are patrons and sponsors. Hopefully, this will continue, and there will be much more roleplaying like this in the future…