To start with, I guess I should mention the player characters and who they are, for those not up-to-date on my Friday night Desolation campaign. First up is Kathy, who is playing Kiarra Foxten, a human thief turned innkeeper in the small After community of Wilkerson Dale. SteveB is playing Devron Sharpis, an ex-Legionnaire of the Empire who has recently fallen for Kiarra, and the feeling is quite mutual. Nick is playing Barm Vaks, a Mongrel hunter and guide who has made his services to the folks of Wilkerson Dale invaluable. Tom is playing Torvu Peng, a Rover merchant and trader whose knowledge of the area surrounding the Dale has been invaluable as has his knowledge of haggling and bartering. There is also Joanne, who is playing Teela Goran, a Primalist spell caster (dealing with Nature through her Totem spirit). While Primalists are only found among Mongrels and Oruskans, she's a human, and there's an interesting backstory there. Finally, my goddaughter Ellie is playing Asper Kalvi, a young girl that they met up with in the ruins of Margand, who seems to wish them ill will. The group is currently being accompanied by Keana, Kiarra's long-lost sister, and she is being played by Ellie, as Asper Kalvi is back in the village of Wilkerson Dale.
Got it? Good. :)
It has been about a week since the player characters finally departed the community of Bissanty, and have resumed their travels towards their home, Wilkerson Dale. The characters are all in fine fettle, their wounds healed, their bellies full, and have gained a few trade items from the Bissanty villagers to take back with them to Wilkerson Dale. Much against the will of Teela Goran and Barm Vaks, Kiarra Foxten has taken her sister, Keana, under her wing, and she is travelling with the group. Devron Sharpis and Torvu Peng are still suspicious of the girl, and this is causing some friction between Kiarra and Devron, who seem very much in love with one another when they're not exchanging barbs and witty sarcasm. It's starting to get on the nerves of the rest of the player characters.
The player characters find themselves travelling along the edge of a rather large forest, and having decided to skirt around it rather than try to go through it, have found the trip to be relatively uneventful. Up ahead, Barm Vaks spots what appears to be ruined/wrecked farmhouse of some sort. As the player characters get closer, they realise that it must have been transported from elsewhere during the Night of Fire, as the place looks as if someone or something had slammed it into the ground. The place appears to be lifeless, and the characters decide to search it quicky, in the hopes that someone survived. While Keana is excited about the ruined farmhouse, Kiarra holds her back, and decides that she and Teela Goran will take a quick scout around.
Devron tells Kiarra to be careful, and the others feign nausea at the sight of the two lovers, and Kiarra and Teela move off. The two sneak off for the ruined building, Kiarra using her natural abilities, and Teela using a spell to mimic her totem's silent ways. Reaching the ruined farmhouse, they discover several bodies scattered around the place, and agree that these are the bodies of the farmer, his wife, two children, and several farmhands. Before they have a chance to look around any more, they are approached by two gaunt and wizened humans. It takes the two of them a moment to realise these two people are more agile and acrobatic than they first appear, and have gaping eye sockets. The two hoarghasts attack them, and Kiarra and Teela defend themselves. Kiarra's screams attract the attention of the rest of the party, and leads the charge towards the house by Devron and the others. Kiarra and Teela try to lead the hoarghasts a merry chase, but they are just too swift for the two characters; they avoid the deadly touch through their sheer speed, but it is fortunate that the rest of the party arrives shortly. They dispatch the two hoarghasts with alacrity, although they take several wounds (but not the creatures' withering attack). Torvu tells them that he has heard of these things, and that they are created by Necromantic magics. The party is concerned that there may be some Necromantic force in the area.
They decide not to search the ruins of the farmhouse at all, and to continue their travels. Following the edge of the forest, the party comes upon a large river, and they decide to stop and take stock. Seeing some fish in the river, Barm decides to try his hand at a bit of fishing, and is remarkably successful. While catching a rather large blue-speckled fish, he slips and plunges into the river, but is able to swim to shore safely. The others have a good laugh over this, but are chastened when he threatens not to share the fish for dinner. They wait until he prepares the fish for dinner, and enjoy a good meal, constantly on the look-out for predators.
Setting out once more in the afternoon, the player characters are forced to follow the river, as there is no shallow point at which they can all cross. Keana wants to know why they can't swim across, but Barm tells her the current is very strong, and the rest of the group are likely not strong swimmers. The characters follow the river for several miles as it slowly bends away from the forest, and they fear that they are no longer heading for the general area of Wilkerson Dale, but Barm reassures them that he knows exactly in which direction they are heading.
The characters come to a relatively shallow part of the river, and find a series of stepping stones. Crossing the river at this point, they only have a few close calls crossing via the stones. On the other side, they see what appears to be a copse of trees in the direction they are heading, and Barm suggests that they stop there potentially and see if he can do a bit of hunting or foraging.
As the player characters approach the copse of trees, they notice something that is not right about them... they appear to be trees that are made of vines wrapped around the bark of possible trees underneath! The characters cautiously enter the copse, and immediately feel some sort of mental influence. They feel somewhat relaxed and at ease, and Devron Sharpis becomes alarmed at the sight of several corpses. He manages to shake off the vine trees' influence, and gets the others to resist as well. The characters, with Devron's guiding hands, beat a hasty retreat from the copse. The disappointed Barm Vaks says it's a shame they won't be able to hunt in there.
Travelling on after such a close call, the player characters discuss some of the plant life they have seen during their recent journeys. Teela observes that that the Weave-influenced plants they have encountered have all been readily dangerous. The party travels on, and comes upon a small body of water, possibly a lake, just as the sun is starting to set. The characters decided to establish their camp for the evening, although Barm points out that it could be dangerous, this near the body of water that various predators might seek out for sustenance. They decide to set a very careful watch for the night.
The characters are awoken by Teela Goran around two hours after moonrise, and she tells them that there are a group of skorons, the scavenging squirrel-like beasties, nearby. Sure enough the skorons attack. The party is prepared for them, and after a short but decisive battle that drives off five or so after leaving six skorons dead, Barm Vaks is pleased, as the characters have a good source of nutrition for the morning stewpot. "It's just a bunch of squirrels, they can't really harm us" came back to haunt Keana, as she suffered a nasty bite from a skoron, and needed some medical treatment. The rest of the night passes uneventfully, but the player characters suddenly wake to find themselves underwater...
The players were somewhat shocked and perturbed at the final bit, but I reassured them that they'd find out what had happened when we started the next session of the game. hehe The Friday nighters all agreed that they had a wonderful time playing Desolation again, and had forgotten how easy the game system was and how intriguing and atypical of fantasy worlds the setting is. Overall, I thought I did a good job with the game, given that I haven't run the campaign for almost half a year or so, and looking forward to getting back into the "swing" of it properly.