Minotaar's GWJ Overwatch D&D Campaign

Greetings!

As some might be following bhchrist's documentation of his D&D campaign (of which I take part) I'd been noticably absent with the documentation of my own campaign. We'd decided to both begin with running The Sunless Citadel, and after it concludes, to branch off into our own homemade campaigns. Bh has crafted a lovely world that we're taking part in, and I've tremendously enjoyed his recaps. Since I'm not about to recollect everything we've done for the past 2 months, I'll briefly sum up what happened through the Citadel in broad strokes, and then endeavor to continue onward in more detail than the famished summary that follows.

But first, our players -
Apple (halfling monk) : bhchrist
Arlin Elmwood (elven druid) : Amoebic
Azarek (gith wizard) : ErikTheRed
Esh the Bagmaster (half elven fighter/bard) : Skraut
Hector the Well-Endowed (halfling bard) : Chartes
Valka (human barbarian) : 3or4monsters/marshlights

The Sunless Citadel

Our adventurers gathered in Oakhurst. Some wanted to gain gold and glory, some following portents, and some to attend the 41st Annual Oakhurst Music Festival and Jamboree. After meeting at the Ol’ Boar Inn and speaking with Garon, they were sent to Lady Hucrele. Kerowyn Hucrele is the mayor of Oakhurst and also runs the general store. She beseeches them to investigate the Sunless Citadel and find her two lost adventurer children, Talgren and Sharwyn. Her children set off a month prior to the citadel to investigate along with two companions and hadn’t been seen since. She fears the worst, and asks only for proof of their remains in the form of their signet rings with their names engraved on them.

Our party sets off in the morning to the Sunless Citadel – a former temple to an ancient dragon cult that sunk into a chasm in the ground. Crude stairs led them down to a stone structure devoid of light. They met a timid kobold beast master, Meepo, who’d lost his dragon and cowered before them. He encouraged the party to meet Yusdrayl, his queen. Yusdrayl says that the goblin tribe the kobolds warred with in the citadel stole their dragon and they want it back. So the adventurers set off, slaying goblins, finding a white dragon wyrmling, and returning it to the kobolds. In exchange, Yusdrayl gave them a key to a door – a magically sealed door. While intrigued, they pressed on further in search of the Hucrele children instead of being swayed by treasure. They found a gnome named Erky Timbers who was captured by the goblins, and set him free. He explained that he’d seen the people they seek, and Belak the Outcast took them down below to the Twilight Grove. Erky followed them for a short time, but was slain as the party was ambushed. They pressed on, finding a small village of goblins living in the citadel – many fled, many stayed to fight, and were led by Durnn, a hobgoblin war chief who bore Talgren’s armor and signet ring. Durnn pled for his life before the party delivered him to Yusdrayl in exchange for a bounty. Then they made it down the very deep pit to the grove below.

Greeted by skeletons who were tending to a bioluminescent fungi ecosystem, they fought their way through goblins and blighted tree creatures, encountering arboretums designed to engender this odd fungus and even use it as sustenance. When finding the Twilight Grove they saw a large, blackened tree. Belak the Outcast was there with two people with skin of bark and eyes of pitch, one was the paladin the Hucreles adventured with, the other was Sharwyn Hucrele. Belak explained the that this was the Gulthias Tree, which grew from a wooden stake that took root after it killed a vampire ages ago. He now offers supplicants to the tree, like Sharwyn. After the boss battle which saw one Halfling swallowed by a giant frog and the wizard almost killed instantly, they torched the Gulthias Tree and found Sharwyn as a lifeless piece of brittle wood shaped like a person. They sought to bring her back to her mother regardless, so they brought her back up. Belak was being held down by the barbarian and pleaded with them to not destroy the Gulthias Tree, and when the flames burned on, Belak shifted into the shape of a mouse and escaped through the Twilight Grove’s bramble and bush.

They finally got to using their magical key for the dragon door, and after solving an enigmatic musical trap that had their monk and archer continually running away from the room at the sound of the magical globe, they pressed to the tomb of the Dragonpriest – a high ranking elf in this former cult of dragon worship who’d somehow been turned into a troll and kept in a sarcophagus all these years, magically sealed away. The troll was an absolute test of everything our fair adventurers had learned, but eventually they poked, slashed, and finally burned the creature to put it down.

Having explored all they could in the Sunless Citadel they finally saw daylight as they climbed back up the chasm. They were approached by a mage on a floating disk who warned them to get away from the rift as soon as possible, as he was there to simply ensure the destruction of the citadel. From the sky began to fall a swarm of giant flaming stones from the sky – no time for conversation as the mage bid them farewell and teleported away. The Sunless Citadel was annihilated with a resounding boom, heard for miles. Without recourse, they made their way toward Oakhurst, but stopped near a stream to have an actual proper bit of sleep for the night in a forest with some fresh air.

Thanks for documenting this, it has been a blast to play so far and the fun is just getting started. The sessions are definitely the highlight of each week

Before the adventurers got to camp, Hector the bard saw fit that this was time to part ways with the party. He jingle his coin purse now that he'd been paid his share, as he set out to collect an imagined debt from Apple. Little did he know that he'd had the majority of his coin relieved of its purse while he'd been temporarily frozen by a cold spell that struck the party whilst still in the citadel. Apple had left him scant few pieces of coin and supplemented it with pebbles. Poor Hector.

As the party camped out 'neath the stars, Esh took final watch. From a rustling in the nearby brush emerged a trio of goblins, fleeing furiously from furred foes. Esh saw the greenskins running not toward their camp, but rather running upstream from hungry wolves. He chose to not alert this new foray to his presence and not shout a warning - so he sent a psychic assault of vicious mockery directed at Apple, the elderly halfling monk who emerged from her tent, looking only as the gods saw fit, clanging on pots and pans to rouse the rest of the party.

Across the stream wandered an elf in his pre-dawn walk to collect herbs and berries. He heard the commotion and saw goblins running directly toward him - and noticed they were children running for their lives. Arlin is a compassionate soul and seeks to aid wherever he's able, but knows he needs to defend those unable to do so themselves. Best practice? Flame sword. Arlin conjures up a mighty beacon in the pre-dawn forest and slashes at the larger wolf, with a white streaked ridgeback, while telling the child to get behind him in his native language. The other two children were beset by the wolves and struggled to break free from their toothy grip, so our drowsy adventurers went to their aid and ran off the wolves.

After the wolves retreated, tending to the children's wounds were paramount to Arlin. Arlin was eventually introduced to Apple, Valka, Esh and Azarek, who turned their attention and suspicion to the goblin children. Tisa, Folix, and Kivi tell them they're on their way to Oakhurst to trade for supplies that their mother needs to make things. The party is untrusting of the goblins and their story (this trend will continue), and regardless of their mistrust they lead the children back to Oakhurst. However, once they tried to lift the petrified remains of Sharwyn, her husk splintered into unsalvageable tinder.

Kerowyn Hucrele is the party's first stop. They deliver the awful news that her children would not be returning. She mourns, though for a moment, as her attention was directed toward the terrifying explosion they heard the day before. When recounting the tale of the Sunless Citadel, Lady Hucrele shared her fear that with the Darbuluk tribe of goblins destroyed, the goblin warband the Darbuluks reported to would go one the march in that direction, leading them to Oakhurst. She implores the heroes to head to Blackford Crossing, and muster 50 able soldiers to bring and defend her town, offering handsome reward to do so. They agreed to leave in the morning.

Before their rest, Arlin headed to the local temple of Pelor, as he'd been accustomed to helping a community with their maladies and ailments in exchange for quarters and provisions. Esh went to find Arlin and request his help in the defense of Oakhurst. He recounts a heartfelt tale of the loss of his father and wandering around looking for his home as he'd not seen it since he was a boy. Arlin quickly agreed to help, as he is want to do, especially when Esh exclaimed he's been in search of his elven mother all this time as well. They agreed to meet at the town center at dawn.

Esh headed back to the tavern to join in the revelry but spotted the goblin kids speaking with someone and darting off into the shadows. His suspicions still raised, he confronts the children and they explain they still need a piece of fur from the butcher's dog. Esh escorts them straight there, where they head to the back of the shop and are greeted by Belva the Butcher, who tells them her dog ran away. She posted a note about in on the town notice board that she'd pay well if someone found her dog and brought it back. She asked Esh what he's doing helping Iza's children - Esh told her their story from the woods. They all parted ways, Esh to go to the tavern and find half of his adventuring troupe in their cups before they headed off to bed.

During Arlin's elven trance to recuperate his energy, he was roused by Tisa, Folix, and Kivi who had exasperated looks on their faces and explained the town was to be under attack in mere moments. They led him back to the town square and just as Arlin was figuring out the scope of what was happening he heard the town crier yell out that a raid was imminent.

Bells rang and woke the tavern-laden party from their brief and, in some cases, inebriated sleep. The town guards were being quickly overrun by a scouting party of the goblin warband! Large, ferocious goblins led by worg-riding goblin bosses were setting buildings of the village on fire as they sowed discord and violence upon the village. Our heroes set upon them quickly in their restless state, with axes, arrows, and quick thinking plots from the githzerai wizard to slow them down. Arlin was running to the town square just in time to notice a second band of goblins coming from the north, having slaughtered the guards already. In the chaos of battle the villagers tried to start putting out the fires, and were met by sword and bow from the goblins. But our brave heroes cracked skulls, put arrows in their backs, and even used simultaneous thunder magic to send worgs and goblins screaming to their doom…all as the village began to burn.

The heroes did not slay them all as a goblin escaped surely to tell his tribe that a meager defense exists in Oakhurst. But after the fires were put out and the madness of battle subsided the heroes finally got their deserved rest, only to surely set out in the morning...

It's a late morning in Oakhurst as our heroes catch the must needed rest they deserved. They meet with Lady Hucrele who gives them a wax-sealed missive to be delivered to Blackford Crossing requesting aid for Oakhurst, by way of 50 able soldiers. She provides them with two horses (on loan - to be returned to the village as they are farming draft horses) to expedite their journey and sells them the provisions they need to make way. Our fair wizard finally is able to summon Hootley, his charming owl familiar now that he has the proper material components to do so (The druid and barbarian are visibly pleased at Hootley's return).

Kerowyn explains that she fears the goblins will return with their horde in a week's time - our heroes have a fierce time limit for their 60 mile journey. They set off, taking turns riding, walking, and keeping a steady pace northwest between the foothills and the woods. The halfling monk takes a well deserved rest in one horse's saddlebag. The first day and night go by without incident, but shortly into the trip on the second morning Hootley detects a pair of griffons is swooping in! Esh the Bagmaster sees these creatures and runs away screaming. Unbeknownst to the rest of his companions, Esh's father was killed by a griffon when he was just a boy, and the sight of these sent him into a flighted panic.

The griffons have eyes for the horses and attempt to steal them away. One succeeds, and begins to take not only the horse, but Apple, sleeping in the saddlebag, as well! Valka the barbarian reacts immediately and in a fit of raging heroism, scrambles up some rocks and leaps onto the horse the griffon is attempting to steal, slashing at the griffon. It releases the horse and Valka with it, who drop 20 feet to the ground. The horse, with claw marks on its side and broken bones from a fall lets out a horrible whinny. Arlin the druid becomes desperate to help her animal friend and makes a furious effort to dash to the horse and heal it as soon as she's able (perhaps at the expense of her humanoid compatriots who were hurt as well).

This left Azarek the wizard alone in the middle of the road facing down the other griffon. He is beset by the avian beast and is nearly taken down in a single assault - but he manages to cast a mental mind spike that dizzies the griffon. Esh has been cowering behind a rock this entire combat, passively plucking yew at the griffons, but then saw his companion in need. He summons the Dissonant Whispers, recalling the sadness and fury he felt from his father's passing, and sends the griffon that was attacking the wizard flying off in fear.

The other griffon comes back to his dropped horse, but is immediately beset by slashes and stabs as the ever stalwart Valka carves the griffon to its demise defending her wounded friend (the halfling monk had a horse fall on her - and she went from asleep to unconscious - yes, that's correct). With the griffons defeated, they turn to Esh to find out the miserable tale of his father, heal the wounded, and get back on the road after a quick rest. Their injured horse, while Arlin did heal it, is definitely a bit slower from the trauma. Yet the persisted.

Later on in the day they encounter a well decorated wagon on the side of the road with a broken wheel. They introduce themselves to Ridaldo the Regal - a wine merchant of some renown in a fine tailcoat and turban who requests they help his driver fix his wagons' broken wheel in exchange for the chance to buy his finery at a steep discount. They attempt to replace their horse with one of his, but Ridaldo is a journeying man and needs his healthy steeds. Valka is immediately interested in this fine man's alcohol, but the rest of the party is looking for...more exquisite items. Ridaldo offers to sell them a potion of healing - but more interestingly a mysterious key. They take the deal and buy the magical items for a song - and more importantly, a repaired wheel thanks to the druid's mending magics.

As they set toward their destination they find that Apple, who's been sleeping the entire trip so far, has literally been sleeping the entire trip so far. Attempts to rouse her fail, and Azarek determines she's been affected by some kind of transmutation magic but they can't seem to undo what's been done to her. It's late on their second day in and now must not only deliver a missive but find a fix for their fragile friend. The bridge-town of Blackford Crossing hopefully will be able to give them answers...

I'm going to dump in some photos from our games. They aren't too exciting, but I figured I'd share.

Reaching the bottom of the well at the Sunless Citadel and being beset by skeletons and twig blights
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952968258416210234/033B6F91A91A6583C15A34FCFE5DDE34DB2AE770/)

Our final encounter in the Sunless Citadel where the party faces off against the mad druid Belak and his thralls
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952968258416210580/25412220FB6D3A6E5FBEA86D0D36E8A52982589B/)

Meeting the goblin children after defending them from a pack of wolves
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952968258416210834/16FAFB997D9755B082DBF2D4C95306C9F813A3D4/)

Defending the town of Oakhurt from a goblin raid
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952968258416211070/B39151844DDBADDF46ECA6D585747875FB13ACB1/)

After the griffon encounter on the road to Blackford Crossing
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952968258416211267/77DD9152FCEB13B6A545570F286EA3BB82A5F6D9/)

What is the software that you guys are using for your battlemaps?

No software specifically. I get maps online and then let Tabletop Simulator project a grid on top of them. Occasionally the maps have grids on them already, but I tend to stick with TTS grids because then I can control the size and perspective.

Also, to be clear, TTS has a mod called Drewgo's RPG Simulator which shows the table, the dice rollers and most everything else. Just get maps and minis (many of which are also found as mods to TTS) and you're rolling!

Arrival at Blackford Crossing

Blackford Crossing is town that cropped up around a bridge over the River Mirar. Most of the population grew around the barracks and towers put in place to defend the bridge. Our heroes arrived at the dead of night - cold, tired, and weary.

They found a pair of guards who informed them they can find lodging at the Rusty Lance Tavern, which is across from the barracks by the bridge, and that the town is run by the captain of the guard (who best not be disturbed until morning). Azarek asked if the town has any magical shops or if any of the troops were mages, but the guards replied that there wasn’t. One of the guards, a gregarious half-orc, shooed the other guard away and asked about what they needed. He loved that they were professional adventurers. He recommended they talk to Selma who he saw at the Rusty Lance, since he knew she was “one of those magic types.” And to tell her Ort sent them.

At the Rusty Lance, poor Esh decided to take a room and ensure that he was headed to bed straightaway. The Apple Problem still presented itself as the Halfling was very much asleep in a saddlebag with no means of waking. Selma was easy enough to spot in the back of the barroom. Long flowing colorful robes adorned a jovial woman who was playing dice with the locals in the earliest of morning hours. Arlin, Azarek, and Valka spoke with her and asked her to look at their unconscious friend, but Selma claimed she was no healer – though some call her the Stormbringer. She did know that her compatriots Harrik and Yorda were out running an errand for some noble south of town. She mentioned that this trio called themselves the Coffin Cheaters – but Selma made it very clear it was her day off. She mentioned that they ought to seek out Harrik and Yorda, as they could likely help their friend.
Selma Stormbringer
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ziOgTpG.jpg)

With that, they took their rest, rose and set across the road to the barracks where they met Captain Gedrick, a military man through and through. They delivered the missive from Lady Hucrele, but the captain could not deliver on her request. Blackford Crossing is a part of the city state of Luskan, which is directly west down the river. Blackford’s troops are Luskanian, and are set on a rotation. The most recent replacements are delayed, so it’d be weeks before he has any troops to spare. He suggests they look into mercenaries, though he’s not certain they’d want to be paid in food. Lady Hucrele’s letter had promised their bumper crop to Blackford Crossing as means to pay for their defense. The party asked the captain about the noble south of town, he says she’s the Countess Emarque and gives simple directions to get there.

At the Estate Emarque they see the fanciest manor home they’d ever seen – though they were barred from entry by a gate. A snooty servant at the gate informed them that Harrik and Yorda went to the nearby warrens – they were tasked with clearing them of whatever vermin had been stealing the Countess’ servants. He told them where to go and shooed them off.

After a quick walk guided by the watchful eye of the druid, they made their way to the warrens’ entrance. At the bottom of a rocky slope was a large cave mouth where a dwarf and a human were taking a short break from the slaughter of hyenas that were littered about, bloodied and defeated. Harrik the Harried is a dwarf with graying hair, a close cropped beard, an eye patch, and well used heavy armor and battleaxe. Yorda was adorned in robes of red, burned and tattered along the edges but wearing a shimmering breastplate with the twining red flame sigil of Kossuth.
Harrik the Harried
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/B9lGptk.jpg)

Our adventurers explained to Harrik and Yorda the plight of their soon-to-be-besieged village and said they're looking to hire them - oh yeah, hey, and also we have this here sleeping Halfling and your friend Selma said you could fix her. After some negotiations Harrik takes a sum of money to keep him as a retainer, and he swears he'll be able to find more warriors for their cause. Yorda examines Apple, does a quick prayer, and lifts whatever ailed the woman - she swears there was something in a drink that she took with her from Oakhurst, but she can't quite remember who made it.
Yorda the Unclean
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/n3Ejjj0.jpg)

Part of the deal meant helping Harrik and Yorda clear the warrens of gnolls - large dog-like creatures that infested the cave and were likely the cause of the servants disappearance. Our brave heroes took up the challenge mightily - and after some quick maneuvering in the dark with alarm traps and scrambling up some sheer rock faces, the party is confronted by gnolls. Like, a lot of gnolls. A concerning number of gnolls.

After an opening salvo of arrows to and fro, Harrik quickly dives into the middle of the fracas with his axe and shield. He is beset by hunters, flesh gnawers, and a Pack Lord directing the gnolls to attack harder. A trio of gnolls come over a rockalanche and encounter our party head on, Apple, Arlin, and Valka defending themselves while Azarek, Esh and Yorda defend the other side from even more. Sometime in the battle a humanoid and very robed figure steps toward the ledge and unleashes a fireball devastating the morale, humidity, and general levels of levity the party was previously enjoying.

Arlin saw his moment and called forth an ancestral spirit healer, and a mighty bear totem appeared that healed anyone nearby it. Yorda, desperate for respite all her own retreated to Arlin's bear spirit and cast her own healing spell that brought their bowpiper Esh back to his feet.

The warlock then unleashed a wicked spell that changed brave Harrik into a rat, though that was quickly nullified by an arrow from Esh, disrupting the mage's concentration on the spell. Azarek saw the trouble Harrik was having from a multitude of gnolls around him and cast an entangling growth beneath their feet - but due to the wizards' clever portents, he knew Harrik would be unburdened by the plants.

With their strength reinvigorated they pressed forward, felled many gnolls (quite a concerning number of gnolls) and cornered the warlock and giving no quarter. Arrows, axes, javelins and spears were thrown at the retreating mage, leaving him oh so very very deceased. They found his ritual chamber, where he was eviscerating the hearts of the servants in some bloody sacrifice to the gnolls demon god Yeenoghu, and while there were several servants deceased already, there were a few still locked in cages that were incredibly grateful to be rescued. The party came across the warlocks hoard of magical items, including scrolls, potions, magical horseshoes and a...jug of water?

'Til next time...

Here are some screenshots from our last session.

Hootley scouts ahead (and is promptly turned into a pincushion).
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952969063437358848/CD9EEF03D89D8B246FE65B88F1B5A2ECA1DCA71A/)

Azarek wisely stays out of fireball range.
IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/952969063437359334/40F405AF58491A8B8A2E284C3ED0F68D64416B93/)

The Flourish of Salt and Shade: A Wayward Equestrian Tale

With the gnolls and warlock defeated, our heroes split the treasure with Harrik and Yorda, giving them the magical horseshoes in exchange for the Decanter of Endless Water. A supply of water now always at hand, they venture back to the estate of Countess Emarque, once again greeted with disdain by her head servant, who takes his time in retrieving Harrik's pay for the service of clearing out the warrens. In their travels, Harrik asks the name of the town again, and asserts that his nephew lives there as a smith. He wants to head back into town and gather up Selma.

Taking the newly named pack horses Elmer and Buddy back to Blackford Crossing, the party splits to tackle the tasks in town. Azarek takes a private moment to re-summon his familiar, Hootley. Esh and Apple go to two different shops, The Golden Pick and The Plucked Yew, the former a smithy and the latter a leather and woodworker. They exchange coin for a brace of javelins for Valka and a rapier for Esh. The sales-elf at The Plucked Yew offered to sell them magical arrows, but their coin was insufficient. Apple showed the merchant the agate-made statue of the elven god Corellon Larethian that the merchant was enchanted with and bartered a deal for the arrows in exchange for the statue and a bit of coin.

Arlin and Valka headed to The Rusty Lance Tavern with Harrik and Yorda, and came across Selma, the colorfully adorned sorceress still at the tavern having exchanged her dicing for cards, and looked like she'd not yet slept. Harrik asserted that they'd need to gather up the remainder of the Coffin Cheaters in Luskan. This would not fit into the estimated timeline, as Luskan is in the opposite direction of Oakhurst and Lady Hucrele had estimated seven days time for the warband of goblins to arrive. Yorda reminds the sloshed Selma that she can teleport people to and fro, thus the plan is to have Selma go with the party to Oakhurst, while the Coffin Cheaters head east to go round out their numbers.

Conversation on the road gets swept in talk of magic, the nature of it, brewing, and drink composition. Apple tried to encourage Arlin to assist them with creating a new drink based on Goodberry juice. The intent was to create something that doesn't leave one with the after-effects of alcohol consumption. Arlin informs them that Goodberries have a short magical life, after which they're just berries. So they workshop ideas and come up with nothing short of brilliance - a glass of fine beer or spirits that then has a small additive of fresh Goodberry juice that gets you feeling good with an explosion of flavor, like some kind of...Druid Cart Bomb.

Hootley spies a horse well off the road, hitched to a tree. The party investigates and finds the horse all alone - bootprints lead away from the horse for a short while and then vanish without a trace. The saddle on the horse is exquisite, bejeweled and with a horn of ivory, the finest leathers for the seat. It shows an engraving - IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/zVdgHsUt.png) - of a symbol they do not know. Arlin speaks with the horse, calming it and finding out what happened. Horses don't speak, but with her magic she can discern that it's been here for some time, and it's rider just...disappeared. It knows it's name, but since it cannot speak it's tough to describe...something with flair, and panache...it sounds like "Piz'Az." The group decides to get an early rest just as the sun sets so they might be able to wait for Piz'Az's rider and sleep the night through, though no one shows. So as to not let the horse wander without care, they take Piz'Az and Arlin decides to take first ride, though Selma definitely wants a turn.

Time goes by on the road back to Oakhurst but the adventurers are halted by an overturned wagon ahead of them. Azarek's winged companion sees the cart broken, beset by tree trunks and boulders, and a pair of fallen commoners ahead of the wagon. Out of the back of the broken cart came a nasty pair, a human in a red overcoat and a brace of daggers and a goblin who looked up and saw Hootley. Eyes locked from the bandits to the party, and the bandits announced that they're collecting a toll from the road. Not ones to fork over gold (or let murderers go unpunished) the fight ensued.

The goblin came forth with an attempt at mental magics on Arlin, trying to get him to relinquish their valuables, but innocent as he is, his mind is still quite sharp. The bandit captain summoned more bandits from the east, and a large ogre bearing the trunks of trees as thrown ammunition. Azarek teamed up with Selma with a devastating magic combination - he ensnared their footsteps to ensure the could not escape from a storm of ice that hailed upon the bandit reinforcements heads, smiting them all. Valka took straight to the ogre, slicing and dicing even while getting punched in the face from one of those gigantic fists. Esh fired at the bandit captain, and eventually put him unconscious with magical sleep. Arlin came at the goblin with his spear, but when he did the goblin transformed into a vicious canine fiend!
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/dP9vceym.jpg)

The fiend clawed and scratched at Arlin who retreated to tend to his wounds. Apple had attempted to assist Valka with the ogre but came back when the creature transformed. The ogre saw his bandit friends dispatched, and being assailed by many he chose to hurl one last tree trunk and flee, and was struck down by Valka. That tree trunk impacted poor Apple square in the back, incapacitating her. Arlin and Esh were quick with those healing words, keeping the party on their feet, as Selma - astride Piz'Az, no less - charges the creature, running it down with the horse and firing lightning blasts at it ceaselessly. She warns the heroes it's a barghest, and to strike it with magical weapons! Sure enough our adventurers rally themselves and coordinate the defeat of the remaining bandit captain who was swarthy enough to cut and slash his way toward the group before he was eventually felled, and the barghest not long behind.

When we return they will no doubt investigate the cart and make their way back to Oakhurst, bringing only a sorceress and a promise...

The Return to Oakhurst - Part I

After looting the looters and finding gems and fancy magical boots of false tracks, the adventurers press on into the night and arrive at Oakhurst. Exhausted, they opt to rest for the night in comfortable beds and see the mayor in the morning.

Lady Hucrele greets them the next morning with enthusiasm when they arrive in her shop, though she is immediately distressed that the troops from Blackford Crossing did not arrive. When she hears that the mercenaries the adventurers hired could be counted on less than one hand, she asked for other ideas to defend their home.

Valka opted to take people to get lumber and create fortifications and barricades. Azarek scouted to the east with Hootley and poured over his historical texts to get a better mind for where to prepare defenses and when best to strike. Arlin went to the temple of Pelor and met with Corkie the priest to create a triage station within the temple grounds and set up medical services. Esh met with Rurik the blacksmith to see about creating more weapons for the people to defend themselves with.

Apple talked to Garon at the Ol' Boar Inn, and between figuring out what works best as a flammable solution for the battle to come, she pried Garon accusingly about whatever it was that she drank that knocked her out for two straight days. Garon remembered that Belva the Butcher brought a homemade brew the night of the festivities, of which Apple took for the trip and then made her slumber. Apple got caught up before she could seek Belva, however, as Esh recruited her to go hunt boar in the Neverwinter Wood. Apple knew that boar fat was to be a primary ingredient in creating those flammables she'd just been discussing.

A few villagers armed with bows came along with Esh and Apple, but as they'd entered the woods they found a very large and foreboding blood trail. At the sight of glowing red canine eyes in the brush, the villagers turned tail and ran for safety - Apple and Esh did not do the same. Theirs was a tactical retreat.

Having rounded up the rest of the party (save Selma, who was busying herself with making the teleportation circles she'd need once Yorda magically messaged her that they were ready), our heroes went back into the woods, as night began to close in. They followed that same blood trail for quite some ways, and it led to an alcove where they saw a very large wolf standing guard over a few other wounded wolves.

Arlin used her druidic beast speech to communicated with the wolf, and to his surprise, it spoke back in clear words and phrases, rather than the signs and emotions she normally hears from wild animals. The wolf warned her of the impending charge as a group of angry boar looking to finish off the wolves that had been hunting them came crashing through the trees!

Arlin and Apple made it very clear that they'd assist the wolf, in a hope that it'd help them in the future. The fight began and the wolf breathed a wild frost breath that froze one of the boar immediately. Azarek entangled the charging boar, slowing their approach, as Apple bravely positioned herself before the boar's charge and in front of the wolf, knocking the poor halfling down in the process. Esh piped out arrows and bardic combat inspiration and Arlin saw to Apple's wounds. Azarek showed off Hootley's new trick, bestowing him with a magical breath weapon that, just like the wolf, blasted the boar with magical cold, freezing more of their numbers. Apple and Valka finished the assault on the last giant boar as it attempted to flee, but Valka's quick reflexes would not let it escape.

The wolf turned to Arlin, asking why they helped her. Arlin explained that she came from a town and was hoping the wolf would help in its defense since he healed the wolf's fellow packmates and helped defeat the boar. After a bout of convincing (and relinqueshing the majority of the boar) the wolf agreed that she and her pack would scout out for the impending goblins, in exchange for taking them north to the mountains.

Accepting the wolf's deal, they crafted a makeshift litter to haul their giant boar back to town on the heels of their shape-changing druid (who took on the image of Buddy the Horse).

Only two days remain until the horde arrives...