So, my group at the gaming store decided to meet at our usual Tuesday time, which meant Valentine’s Day this week. The other two tables who usually run at the same time as us canceled for the evening, which meant we pretty much had the store to ourselves. I don’t know what it is about not having other people around, but it seems to send my tables particularly off the rails. I guess it’s just the freedom of not worrying if others around you are overhearing or listening in – not that there’s anything that would particularly shock anyone used to how RPGs tend to go.
The Red Rocks Isles, off the coast of Waterdeep
Ironslag, in the Ice Spire mountains
The Sword Coast of Faerun
The Story So Far:
After managing to escape the frost giant lair at Svardborg, the party regrouped aboard their airship. Having recovered a treasure map from the dragon’s hoard, they determined that they needed a bit of a break from giants, and they would pursue the map. The location marked on the parchment indicated a spot on the Red Rocks Isles, just a few days’ travel from Waterdeep. The group would stop there to do some shopping, stock up on supplies, catch up on any news, and proceed on their way.
While Hugheorn got in touch with some of his contacts in the Zhentarim, the rest of the group made their way around the marketplaces, picking up whatever items they needed (including a brief detour for Wade and Roshi to steal a Bag of Devouring from someone passing it off as a Bag of Holding). Hugheorn’s contacts had indeed heard of the pirate named by this treasure map – one Captain Silbarr Snake-Eyes, a halfling pirate who terrorized these coasts many years ago. With its legitimacy at least somewhat established, the group decided to get the hell out of dodge and make their way to the Red Rocks.
The riddle on the map told them to wait for low tide and the moon would reveal the location of the treasure. When they did so, a broken mast from a shipwreck was angled perfectly to point at one specific cave out of an entire isle of them. Ulmo cast Water Breathing on the whole group and they decided to swim into the cave in order to be stealthy – they had a decent idea of what might be living in that cave, after all. Poking their heads out of the water, their suspicions were confirmed – two harpies had made a nest in the cave, full of molted feathers and humanoid bones.
Rather than fight the harpies, who didn’t seem to be causing an inordinate amount of damage here, they came up with an alternate plan. Ulmo used Polymorph to turn Roshi into a harpy and Roshi used his rare male harpy form to, uh, persuade the two harpies to come into another cave with him for a time, while the rest of the group searched the nest. Being surprisingly successful with his charismatic abilities for once, the harpies went along with him, and the rest of the group got to work. Before long, they found a rotted old wooden chest, marked with a black serpent in the shape of an S. Finding it free of traps, Wade promptly opened the chest.
Within it was a mace of smiting, as well as three rare potions – well worth the side trip (especially for Roshi). The mace was given to Relaris, and the potions were distributed among the rest of the group, and they made a quick exit before the harpies returned (or before Roshi was transformed back into his normal human shape). Back on the airship, they had to make plans for what was their next step. The dragon cultists were very much pushing for them to go see the ancient red dragon Klauth, to receive his gift for killing the giant lords. However, it was decided that they would go to the lair of the fire giants and see if they couldn’t get rid of Duke Zalto as well.
Along the way, Heskan composed several messages for Hugheorn to Send. “Greetings, Duke Zalto – it is with great anticipation that we report the demise of Jarl Storvald. He shattered like brittle glass. More to come soon,” read the first. “Greetings Duke Zalto – it is our enviable duty to report the impending doom of the Fire Lord, Duke Zalto. Make your peace. We are coming,” read the second. “Greetings Duchess Brimskarda – it is our solemn duty to report the demise of Duke Zalto. We look forward to the impending succession ceremony. Good luck,” read the third. Ulmo scried upon the Duke and Duchess, discovering the existence of their two teenage children, Cinderhild and Zaltember. He saw the Duke surveying a drilling army, and disciplining his rebellious teenage daughter.
He also got a decent look at the entrance to the mines and forges that comprised the fire giant home. It lay under a plateau occupied by a tribe of yakfolk, or yikaria. With any luck, they would be able to make nice with the yakfolk, and then talk their way in to see the fire giants. From their airship, they would’ve had no problem simply landing atop the plateau, but Roshi and Hugheorn decided to take the “Twelve Thousand Steps” up to the top, mostly to see if there was anything interesting along the way. And indeed, there was – they discovered a chimera nest within a cave about two-thirds of the way up.
Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, they chose to return to the chimera cave later, if needed (but not until after they tried and failed to throw several creatures from the bag of tricks into the cave, resulting in the tragic early demise of a completely innocent boar). When they made their way into the village, the chief greeted them, and when he learned that they had knowledge of magic (copious knowledge of magic, in fact), he invited them to stay for a dinner in their honor, so that they might share their magical knowledge with the yakfolk. His two wives – and three slaves – sat next to and behind him during the meal.
While the food was served, Hugheorn decided to try and read the mind of the chief. He discerned that the yakfolk were indeed only trying to lull the group into complacency so that they could be disarmed and enslaved themselves. Without warning, Hugheorn called down a Guiding Bolt onto the chief, shocking even his allies. He quickly shouted out what he’d read in the yakfolk’s mind and the rest of the party immediately got on board with this course of action. Roshi and Wade attacked two of the wives, while Heskan and Madeline attacked the chief himself. The wives, who were priestesses of the yikaria, cast Hold Person on Wade and Roshi, but only managed to temporarily hold Wade. The group made quick and dirty work of the yakfolk, doing their best to keep combat away from the cowering elven slaves in the corner. Perhaps it would not be so easy to talk their way into the fire giant home after all.