Lorina Foxxe (Kathy) - Thief Adventurer
Harria of Jeresindal (Angela) - Pacifistic Nature Mage
Jessa Taftin (Ellie) - Mysterious Young Girl
Jayden Frall (Mark) - Warrior Adventurer
Harvis Tolmayne (Pete) - Merchant/Tomb Robber
Japrian 29th, 2556 GA (Galenian Age)
Some two days after their previous adventure, the player characters are sitting in the Inn of the Boar in the small community of Faversham, and decide that the time has come to leave and move on. Several hours later, just after mid-day the player characters meet near the edge of the village, all ready to travel and experience some "new adventures together" (Jayden's words). Lorina Foxxe, Harria of Jeresindal and Jessa Taftin look at the two wilderness oriented characters, Jayden Frall and Harvis Tolmayne, and ask which way they want to head out. Somewhat matter-of-factly (in Harria's opinion), Harvis mentions that he's heard rumours over the year or so he's been looking around this part of Alusia that somewhere in the northern fringes of the Karsharak Forest lies an old set of ruins called Hamakkar. The stories say that it was either an outpost of the southern Five Sisters or possibly the old city of Panjari. Very few who've ventured to it have returned, but those that have came back with a modicum of wealth, though they've spoken of "dark creatures" that inhabit the ruins of Hammakar. Harvis says that he had an old map that purported to show where the ruins lay, but that he only saw it for a brief time. Harria is curious about what happened to the map, given his inconsistent words, but Harvis dismisses her concerns with the fact that this was "several years ago." While Jayden and Jessa are undecided about whether to pursue this course, Lorina is smitten with the idea and sides with Harvis on the matter. "Well, we were seeking some sort of adventure after leaving Faversham," says Jayden eventually, "and these ruins of Hamakkar certainly offer that, do they not?" While Harria opposes the idea, as Harvis seems to be too enticed by the idea, the party of adventurers eventually agree to take the chance and see what's out there and explore. Once Jayden and Harvis orient themselves, the group heads south and west, following the edge of the Karsharak Forest itself.
As the player characters travel out of Faversham and into the Karsharak woods, Harria continues to question the wisdom of the venture, and she and Lorina begin exchanging verbal snipes at one another. The other player characters keep an eye out for danger, while Jayden talks with Harvis about what he remembers about Hamakkar from back then. It is potentially very little, but Jayden admits to him that he's intrigued by this whole venture - and hopes that the individual rewards will be worth it. Harvis says he's more concerned about the dangers they will face, but Jayden says they should be able to deal with whatever they come across. Eventually, Harria becomes more focused on the mysterious woods they find themselves in, pointing out some of the flora and fauna to the others. Jessa comments that the abundance of animal life should make it easier for them to lay some snares to catch small animals when they camp. Harria tells the others that there's a "smell" of magic to the woods, but it's not strong. She seems almost eager to explore now that she's in the woods, something that worries Jayden somewhat.
As the sun begins to set, Jayden and Harvis call a halt to the day's travels, to the relief of both Lorina and Jessa, as he has set a tough pace for them to keep up with in the woods. They locate a small brook with clear, running water and decide to make camp for the night. Jessa says that she will set out some snares in the hopes of catching some small animals, Jayden saying that he'll go with her in case of danger, and Harria says she'll go and gather some fire wood for the evening. That leaves Lorina and Harvis to set up camp for the night. The latter helps the former do so, and answers a few questions she has about the ruins of Hamakkar, though he can tell her little. Harria returns with a good quantity of wood for the fire, but Harvis says that he will gather a bit more just in case. Jessa returns with Jayden, saying she's laid out the snares; the area looks promising for having them full of food in the morning. Harria tells her that she shouldn't be so sure about that; there are plenty of animals in this area it's true, but there are also predators as well. Jayden looks sharply at her, but merely says they'll need an alert watch that night in that case.
The characters settle down for sleep after their evening meal and tidying up a bit. Harria takes the first watch of the night, and the others nod off to sleep amidst the noises of the woods and the rustling of the vegetation. Around one hour after midnight, Lorina wakes up Jayden to tell him that they may have problems. Jayden rises, and spots what appear to be several humanoid creatures with long, rust-coloured fur covering their bodies (except for the chest and belly) that stand almost man height. While Lorina goes to wake up Harvis and the others, Jayden approaches one of the creatures armed with his battle axe. The creature feels threatened by it, but before any hostilities can break out, Harria arrives and tells him that it's a "man-ape" [orang-utang]; they are territorial about their forest areas, but aren't dangerous if not antagonized. The creature and its tribe mates continue to watch and observe the characters for the rest of the night, but do not threaten them, and eventually fade into the woods as the morning light begins.
That morning, while the others start making the morning meal, cleaning up the campsite, and packing their belongings, Jessa and Jayden go out into the woods to check the snares that the former set out. They find all but two of them empty, but Jessa is thrilled to have caught a pair of rabbits. Cleanly killing the two rabbits with her skinning knife, Jessa effectively skins them and prepares them for travel in a small sack. The two talk, and Jessa asks Jayden why he's so enthusiastic about going to the ruins with Harvis. He says it's a matter of boredom; they both need a bit of excitement in their lives, but Jessa says she's content to find somewhere to settle down for a while, and pursue her herbalist aspirations. They head back to the campsite to find that breakfast is ready. Once the morning meal is consumed and the camp area cleaned up, the players continue their travels, Harvis leading the way with the others close behind him. The players characters talk among themselves, getting to know each other a bit more, though they also keep watch on the terrain around them. The day is uneventful, but Harria becomes somewhat concerned when she starts to encounter vegetation that she cannot identify. Jessa is tempted to take some samples of various plants, but Harria warns her off; they don't know what might happen or the consequences of handling the unknown plants. Jessa is annoyed with her, but realizes that the Nature Mage has her best interests at heart. The rest of the day is uneventful, and the player characters eventually make camp near another small brook.
The next couple of days pass uneventfully, the player characters encountering random woodland flora and fauna, but nothing truly dangerous that they can't avoid. Rabbits seem to abound, and the characters manage to carry a good quantity of meat for their consumption that Jessa has caught in her snares. They are all enjoying the woodland setting except for Lorina, who comments she's more at home in an urban setting rather than this "woodsy nightmare." Harvis tells the others that the time is almost upon them to enter the Forest proper, and then make their way to the River Running, which they will have to cross. Jessa and Harria are almost eager to do so, but Jayden has his doubts and Lorina is not happy about this prospect at all. The player characters camp that night in a small copse of trees, and talk about how they will handle matters when they enter the Karsharak Forest proper. That night, both Lorina and Harvis have terrible nightmares that leave them sleep deprived, but they can't remember what their dreams were, though the others inform them the next morning that they both screamed several times in their sleep.
The morning dawns bright, but neither Lorina nor Harvis are in the mood to enjoy what promises to be a pleasant day. Once the player characters are prepared to head out once more, Jayden and Harvis consult on the matter and decide to proceed southwest into the forest. Travelling for several hours, the player characters notice that the animal life in the area seems to be sparser than it was earlier, but Jessa points out that the vegetation is more lush here, and both Jayden and Harvis notice that it's becoming more difficult to make their way through the (dense) woods. Lorina notices that Harria seems to have a distracted air about her, but the Nature Mage tells her and the others that she's somewhat "overwhelmed" by the forest in this area; she can't seem to explain it any better to the others, a fact that concerns both Jessa and Jayden. After Jayden and Harvis talk, they agree to continue on but decide to take a more cautious approach to matters and slow the pace down somewhat. The player characters move deeper into the woods, the woods oriented characters keeping a sharp eye out.
It is Harvis who tells the characters to stop, as he points out several man-made stones in the area. Jayden asks if he knows what they are, but Harvis says he doesn't, though the area seems to be part of a series of ruins covered in vegetation and with a few animals here and there making their own niche in it. When asked, Harvis says that these are not, can't be, the ruins of Hamakkar, as they haven't reached the River Running yet. Harria uses her magic, and senses that the area is magical, but not recently; she tells Jessa and the others that the magic is old, but still present. Harvis and the others spread out a bit, and investigate the the bits and pieces of ruined structures. The player characters determine that the material is definitely old, weathered granite, but that much of the various structures are buried under centuries of vegetation and other material that nature has overgrown the area with. "It's the way of all things," Harria comments, wryly. The group continues to search through the area, but none of the player characters find anything to give them any hints or clues as to the nature or origins of the ruined areas. Lorina and Jessa meet up, and go up to what appears to be a large gnoll of rock and vegetation. As they check it out, moving around it slowly, they come upon an animal. It's a large dog, with yellowish-brown fur and skin with very angular limbs and long, pointed ears. The animal snarls at them, and then seemingly vanishes...but reappears some 10 feet behind them! Jessa yells, and shouts a warning to the others. The two hear the sound of high-pitched barking and yipping sounds, which the animal they're facing answers, and then it attacks them...and the group of characters comes under attack as well.
The six relatively large dogs attack the player characters, using their speed and their ability to teleport and phase out during combat effectively. Lorina gets in a good strike against one of the creatures, but is in turn injured, and realizes that she can't fight it. She looks around for a bit of shelter, and manages to spot what seems to be a ruined structure buried under vegetation and seemingly intact [she rolled a 01 on her Perception check]. Harria manages to hold her own for a short time with her quarterstaff, the large dogs leaving no time for her to cast any spells. She eventually takes a serious injury [a total of 4 EN], and tries to get to Jayden. Jessa is no match for one of the dogs, and manages to evade it with her speed and agility, but knows she can't do so forever. Both Jayden and Harvis get in a couple of solid strikes against their dog antagonists; their leather armour keeps them safe from most of the dogs' bite attacks, though Jayden takes a pair of wounds [5 FT and 4 EN damage] and one of the dogs leaves its bite mark on Harvis's leg [he takes 8 FT damage]. Jayden tries to get to Harria and Jessa, but the dogs prove to be intelligent, and stymie his efforts to do so. Harvis does manage to get to the Nature Mage, but he realizes that they can't hold off the "blinking dogs" for much longer. Lorina shouts that she's found a possible shelter, and that the others need to get to where she is. While continuing to fight the dogs off, the player characters make their way to where Lorina is frantically trying to remove the vegetation from the entrance area. Harvis and Jayden fight a defensive battle to keep the dogs away from them, but it is Harria who uses her magic and convinces the plants near the entrance into the ruined structure not to impede them from getting past. Jayden and Harvis both suffer another set of injuries [6 FT and 8 FT respectively] from the dogs' bites before everyone makes it safely into the ruined structure.
The player characters breathe a deep sigh of relief to have found some sanctuary, but Harvis says they're not out of the woods yet (so to speak). Outside the ruined structure, the sound of the dogs barking and obviously conversing in some [magical] language can be heard.
Last night's game session of the DragonQuest RPG Friday campaign was a pretty pleasant one, and had some very intense moments. From the interaction of the characters and the way there was some opposition to going in search of the ruins, to some of the atmospheric moments in the forest itself, to the fight with the *redacted!* at the end of the session, there was something in it for all the players and their characters. I used one of Peter's character's [Harvis] background elements to establish what the scenario would be about, letting Peter know a bit in advance, and he was thrilled about it all. The players told me that they had a great time of it, some of the petty squabbling being the most enjoyable part of it, and said the fight at the end felt truly frantic as they had to deal with the dogs' capabilities and and trying to get into the ruined structure. Angela said that she's really into the whole mystery of the forest, and can't wait to see what's up with that. They're quite looking forward to the next session of the game to see where things go from here.
Overall, a lovely evening of fantasy gaming with the Friday night group, and I had a pretty enjoyable time of it. I'm looking forward to the next game session in a couple of weeks.