|(Whiterun in Skyrim, but doesnt it look just like Hirot?)|
As always anything written here contains major spoilers of the above adventure so read ahead at your own risk.
A quick note: These were epic sessions, this one in particular went 8 hours until we were all falling asleep, I recorded the entire thing and sorting thru it and everything that went on is extremely time consuming, so expect multiple posts. we have combination of recorded voice, DM notes, and memory, and slightly embellished narrative here, but dont worry this is how it played it for better of worse.
The Village of Hirot -Day 1
Lothar the Butcher, Acolyte of Gorhan
Xavos, Sage and Astrologist.
Brunehilde The Bold, a former Caravan Guard
Taurion the Squire, One of the local armorers.
Agarn, former Soldier.
Reinhart the Archer
Dogface, a freed Slave
Freya, Acolyte of Justicia
Sloan, Thief and Scoundrel
Elazar,- Alchemist,Conjurer, Cultist
The PCs arrive at Hirot mid morning with the rescued Morgan Halverson in tow. The guards sound their horns and the gates are opened. The group is greeted within moments by friendly guards and soon after an estatic Brogan Halverson. Who invites the group is invited to stay at his Inn, The Wolfs Spear, free of charge as reward for rescuing his daughter. Word is spread at both Halverson's insistance that the PCs have slew the Hound and saved Morgan and a great feast should be held in their honor. Drinks are served but the revelry is cut short by the arrival of the Jarl and his men.
at the Wolf's Spear.
Visibly angered by the PCs presence. The Jarl says quite cynically that the Hound has been reported to have been killed before and unless the PCs have its corpse in hand, its not dead and the entire village will all pay for the PCs meddeling this very evening.
Lothar readily admits the hound only seemed to disappear as they all put there weapons to it, and that Reinhart was terribly wounded by the beast but healed by the will of his god Gorhan.
Its here that the PCs learn of the Lottery and there mandatory participation should they stay past the next sunset. Lothar trumps that by boldly declaring no lottery is necessary as they will meet the hound nightly to battle it. Sloan pipes up to her fellow comrades that this doesnt sound like a good idea. But deference is given to a Lothar here. The Jarl calls the PCs fools and that there is deadly difference to the village between fighting the hound off and giving it its blood sacrifice, if they want to sacrfice themselves to hound, please do but futher antagonizing it will only bring all of Hirot doom and misery.
The mood sours the Jarl and his men hastily leave. The PC's spend some time at the Wolf's Spear and learn numerous rumors from the Halversons, the Inns Patrons and the history of the actual Wolf's Spear behind the bar, Bard Llore offers to entertain them, later that evening.
The PC's are of the mind something more than meets the eye here is going on and aim to find out. The group breaks into teams and set out for some information gathering in Hirot.
The players split there characters up based on eachs mission, it works out so at least two players are running each group of characters
The first group is Lothar, Xavos and Taurion, who go to great hall and politely ask to meet with the Jarl and his Sorceror. Lothar is convinced that he can make some kind of agreement / truce with the Jarl as the PC's being from Fenglyn , Hirots immediate neighbor are A) here to help, B) dont want these attacks spreading to Fenglyn. and C) arent interested in meeting the hounds foul demands and want this thing dead., So they share a common interest. The conversation goes nowhere, and the Players are somewhat surprised by his insecurity and the Jarl is hostile to a point. I do make a note that the Jarls , Thegns are respectful of the group, and admire Lothar's and the PC's utter fearlessness of the beast. This gets player Sloan (who is just observing at this point) immediately suggesting perhaps this village is better off with new "Jarl" and I think there are seven better candidates...No, no, the other players say..one thing at a time.
Xavos and the Jarl's Sorceror, Sylle Ru exchange words... Xavos is polite and plays the diplomatic Sage willing share his knowledge, but I play Sylle Ru as very creepy and disdainful of other wizards.. The players of course speculate on the cliche'Theoden/Wormtongue thing going on here
and the False rumor they picked up. about the Jarl's Sorceror being in charge of the beast isnt helping any, is a tasty red herring, Lothar and company leave, thoroughly convinced that the Jarl manipulated by the Sorceror is behind the attacks- but to what end? and the Hound may be some sort of spell created beast. questions in hand -we move to the next group.
Freya, Reinhart, Agarn and Brunehilde. Set out to talk to the locals and generally have some good luck. The immediately meet Father Beacom, preaching doom and gloom. Being a new acolyte of Justicia, the beautiful Freya is welcomed by he and his silent clerics of Justicia They enter the temple and see the stained glass of Justicia battling the Hound and Freya only is shown what claimed to be the very holy relic from the Stained Glass window. (which I have changed to Longsword, in lieu of the number of blunt weapon users in the group and some slight changes I made to Justicia as a god)
Of course giving the PC's the blade at this point isnt an option but its on the PC's minds. More local talk leads them to meet Nothan the younger, Hirots watch commander, some Nightwatchmen, and Gaurds Mocel and Naven. The stern Nothan is friendly with PC's and is curious about their encounter with Hound and asks specific details that make the PC's curious if he's battles the Hound before. Finally continued pursuit of rumors from the Inn, leads the group to the hovel of the mad widow. Things go well with Widow and when questioned about the hound she provides much helpful information include that the hound must be bound to be slain. After several hours of local story telling and some strange "tea" Agarn readily offers to marry her (what the hell, why not? I'm practically an old gimp myself, he says) and she agrees to make them some shackles to bind the hound if they bring her some corpse hair. (Which they dont have, but they correctly figure they wont have to wait to long)
They also question her about the Jarl and his Sorcerors relationship with hound, she truthfully says she doubts it, it a much deeper evil than they are capable of controlling but the PC's still have suspicions and doubts. Concluding the talk with the Widow, the return to the Inn, Agarn even kissing the widow on the cheek for good measure.
Sloan, Elazar and Dogface the head for other side of the village, but not after chatting up some of the Jarls Thegns I have them run into, to see what they do. Never one to miss an opportunity Sloan decides to "get friendly" with one of the Jarl's Thegns who I play as much more approachable then the Jarl or his wizard. We , to this date have never had a discussion about Sloans appearance, with her personality of "12" we all agree she certainly isnt ugly and when evening rolls around we figure she can dress herself up with a decent disguise DC, her check being at +4 , and good roll could make her very attractive. Plan in hand she invites 3 of the Jarls men to meet them for drinks at the Wolfs Spear that evening to swap tales of adventure. Moving along, it is not long before they stumble upon Master Jenks and his gang at the The Three Rats flophouse.
The Initial friendly conversation initiated in Thieves Cant, turns to one less than friendly. When Sloan with her Wizard cohort and the intimidating Dogface. Opt to play "The heavy" to press them for good information. She starts with "I'm the Cutpurse of Fenglyn" survived the clearing of Crosskeep and plucked thousands in gems from the "Twilight Portal", ( highly embellished but I liked it.) She tell them of her "Gang" is here (Elazar, Dogface..none the wiser standing there looking as intimidating as possible as sloan is talking the Thieves language) and "in league" these other adventures ( the rest of the PC's) in a "marriage of convenience" and are looking for new opportunity. While her partner (Grym Half Hand) is back in Fenglyn setting up their own base to operate and they plan on Hirot being part of their "Territory"
I play Jenks, as an experienced thief and no idiot, but he knows his men are no match for the PC's so he plays along with Sloan for the time being, he's not sure if Sloan is good or bad news but doesnt appreciate the strong arm tactics, the other thieves are clearly intimidated and tell Sloan everything they know about the Tomb of Ulfheonar, and their missing members as well as reiteration of a bunch of false rumors when asked about the Hound.
Sloan and company leave the flop house with the lesser thieves in respect, and a disgruntled Master Jenks not sure if teaming up with Sloan is good a bad idea, or even a choice.
Day 1, Evening
Back at the Wolf Spear the group convenes over dinner and some attempt is made to start putting rumors together I have some general revelry take place, Llore the bard performs in the manner of putting most of the remaining rumors about the hound on the Table so at this point the PC's have almost every rumor available to sort thru. I have just two of the three invited Thegns of the Jarl show up to consort with PC's. Sloan puts on her best looks she rolls well enough on her disguise self check (a 12 or 14, IIRC) but with her +4 modifiers we say she certainly looks good enough to rival Freya and she put her femine wiles to good use..She seduces the Thegn "Orioc" and leaves with him.
I also for fun have the other Thegn (Clohn the Blad) attempting to get romantic with Brunehilde (who we've imagined in appearance as A Game of Thrones masculine "Breine of Tarth" and some good laughs are had.
Meanwhile in the Sunken Fens, I am having one angry demonic Hound of Hirot reconstitute itself and rise from the blackness with serious chip on its shoulder. I abruptly interrupt my players OOC conversation about their PC's liasons by ringing an annoying bell I have. To alert them about with noise and Chaos coming from outside, I set a standard kitchen timer on 5 mins for effect and drop it dead table center and say, what do you do?..The PC's rush to gather their weapons and run outside. I have them roll imitative and then a DC to see how quickly the PC can suit up in Armor from the drunken revelry to get outside in any type of combat condition, I want to create am alarming situation they need to react fast too, it works. Reinhart and Lothar and Xavos are out the door in a turn but the rest several turns away. They emerge on the street to see villagers running past, screaming, I have thick white fog roll over the street but say its clearly mixed with Black smoke from a burning structure near the gate. I make it clear to first PC's out of the Wolf's Spear that they have a clear image of the hound in the smoke and see its searing red eyes peering at them before its bolts into the night.
As the screaming and commotion die down..the smoke begins to clear and 7 villagers lie dead, including the two guards at the gate, Mocel and Naven. A farmer and his family at the house near the gate and the blacksmith's teenage son who was working the forge outside. When he was attacked his dying struggle causing the fire, burning down the most of the smithy.Reinhart slyly slips away into the night in order to try to complete the gruesome task of getting some corpse hair. The rest of the PC's retreat to the Wolf's Spear when I have the Jarl, his Sorceror and 5 of his Thegns show up.
Outraged with swords drawn, they pull their two drunken colleagues from the Inn and clutches of our female PC and haul them away. The Jarl chastises the PC's in front of numerous villagers at the Wolfs Spear for the damnation they brought upon them. He ask that the townspeople seek financial compensation from the PC's for their losses and grief and storms off, The evening ends with the PC's sober and somewhat defeated having little support from the townsfolk at the Inn other than the Halversons.
The next morning is somber and cleaning up is going on, by Noon however two events occur, One, The Jarl shows up in the Village Square and convenes "the lottery" where the next villager is chosen to meet the Hound on the sacrificial altar. The blind folded Jarl draws a name and reads it. The villagers gasp as its the wife of Watch commander "Nothan the younger" ( who was one of locals friendly with PC's the day before) who is chosen for the sacrificial block that very evening. The lottery is then followed by a public flogging of both of Jarls Thegns, Orioc and Clohn the Bald for consorting with PC's, both are accused of being disloyal to village. The PC's watch this with the Halversons. Clohn hangs his head in shame and never looks up and takes his punishment but Orioc is defiant giving Sloan a sly wink and asking for an Ale, during his flogging. The PC's are thankful that they think, they at least might have an inside man within the Jarl's men.
Things have gone to quite the ugly mess and a whole lot of back and forth out of character talk is going on with the players. Suspicion of Jarl is unanimous, (due the fact I am playing him as such a Jackass, perhaps too much, but its done.) With this exercise in the Village Square, the animosity with the Jarl is at the point where over-throwing him becomes more of a focus than fighting the Hound.
The players seem to think that getting rid of the Jarl and Sylle Ru might be an easier route to stop the Hound, then taking the fight directly to it. Lothar asks Brogan Halverson if there somewhere they can meet all in private, Halverson obliges, allowing them to meet in his familys quarters. Present are the PC's (minus Agarn who is chatting up his bride to be "The mad widow", having her spin the shackles that will bind the hound, with the hair of gates guards that Reinhart collected)
Both the Halversons, Nothan the younger and Master Jenks who Sloan invites and she has promised his a key role in her phantom "thieves guild" if he'll help them (I am playing Jenks going along with things, for now..if selling the PC's out to the Jarl is in his best interest he'll do it.)
Lothar and Xavos (same player) formulate a plan which involves the PC splitting up into three groups, at which point I immediately say "isnt that always the "classic" bad idea??" The urgency the PC's are feeling is somewhat self imposed..however due to the way things started it seemed natural for me to escalate the Hounds attacks instead of waiting three days. The fear of the Hound coming every night is putting a good spin on things so I am rolling with it . The players plan breaks down like this.:
Save Nothan's wife. The Lottery is rigged (Everyone already thinks the Lottery is scam, so breaking into the Lottery box to confirm it isn't brought up as a point of business, yet)
I have Nothan be very thankful of the PC's and he impressed this is Lothars first order of business.
I have him them divulges his suspicions of the Jarl and his Sorceror and the lottery that he has kept to himself until this point . Nothans tells how he also fought the hound until it disappeared or in his case turned to black mist, He's believed the PCs and their intent all along. They have gained Nothan as a useful ally.
Lothar asks Nothan if he can secure a horse and a trusted man, Nothan says he can, the Village mob ashould be allowed to bring his wife to Standing Stones this evening. Nothan should accompany the Jarl and those from the Village that attend, while they are gone some of PC will follow and plan to attempt to ambush the Hound again, but they will free his wife before The Hound arrives and have Nothans man ride her to Fenglyn to meet Grym Half Hand (the 11th member of the butchers dozen sitting this adventure out) at the PC's safehouse.
Nothan says he must be on duty tonight so he will have to return with Jarl and villagers. Lothar says he and a few PCs should stay in Hirot tonight vigilant against an attack from the Hound. Since the hound could appear at either location, (the Standing Stones or Hirot) It's decided that Lothar, Xavos, Taurion will remain in Hirot to guard against the Hound.
at the Standing Stones
Agarn, Brunehilde, Freya, Reinhart are going to free Nothans wife thentry to Ambush the hound at the Standing Stones use the Shackles Agarn got from the Mad Widow to kill it.
The Tomb at the Serpent Mound
It's clear some other tools are needed to help defeat the Hound, and that they and some other secrets are to be found there, The PC's are told from what Halverson and Jenks say the tomb is haunted and is not supposedly very large, Sloan, Elazar, and Dogface are to recruit some Hirelings, go there and recover what they can today and try to meet up with PC's this evening at the Standing Stones. Morgan Halverson volunteers to lead them to the Tomb of Ulfheonar, (her father protests but realizing the situation and that his daughter is indebted to PC's, he goes along. I roll up some pretty decent stats for 0 level Morgan Halverson (13 17 7 13 10 10 (augur: guardian angel). She sounds like a thief to me if she can get her luck up.) Master Jenks is still playing along, seeing a good potential score for the Three Rats mob, while also seeing if Sloan is worth her salt and her talk..Jenks says he'll bring along two of his Bravos to the tomb, after all he's missing Three men there, and wants to see what happened.
So the Tomb Raiding Party as its first layed out is- Sloan, Elazar, Dogface,Morgan Halverson, Master Jenks, Wee Tocs ,Wolf (Jenks men)
We have some talk about the 3 groups , Group 3 is the weakest. Not alot of fighting power, and no Cleric for turning undead, or any healing, its a tomb after all, They agree group 3 is rounding out to a suicide mission. Since Turning the hound, according to the rumors doesnt seem to be an option. Freya and Dogface positions are switched, Its also suggested that Reinhart double back from the Standing Stones and help support at the Tomb if neccessary while the others will break back for Hirot after the encounter the hound or kill it. and to be able to do so in any kind of managable time frame they're going to need to get him a horse so I make party come up with 75 gp which is close to end of the groups pooled coin, to afford the Horse and Tack for Reinhart. they'll have to start selling things to raise any significant money after this.
With plans in hand each group starts to put them into action, but as you know plans never go like they are supposed to, especially in my games. To be continued..........
(this was about "half" of this particular session, no direct combat, but that soon changes.)