Monday, June 24, 2019

D&D 5e [Princes of the Apocalypse] Session 7: Cloudy with a chance of Sinkholes

Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)

Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.

Evan spent most of the week leading up to this session asking if his wagon survived the sink hole, to which I’d smirkingly reply, ‘Maybe’. Yes, it’s good to be the DM Dad.

I start off this session by telling Jojo, “Did you know that ‘Tempest’ is actually the name of a cleric domain? It’s supposed to be the domain of storm and weather gods. So you are actually a cleric named Tempest, but of the Trickery domain!”

Jojo says, “Really? How was I supposed to know!? Maybe that’s what my dragonborn parents named me because they wanted me to be a cleric of the tempest domain!” We reason that this might be why Tempest got kicked out from her clan when she chose to follow Loki instead.

“Well, kids, if you recall from the last session, there was an earthquake in Red Larch, and a massive sinkhole has opened up in the middle of the street - right under Folax’s new wagon! Everyone is running around shouting and in panic, and someone yells that the children were in the wagon!” When the last of the tremors subside, a large group of townsfolk gather around the house-sized sinkhole, peering into the dark depths.

“Wow, house-sized? I thought it was just as big as the wagon,” says Jojo.

The adventurers join the crowd of onlookers around the sinkhole. I tell the kids, “There seems to be some sort of commotion in front of the crowd. You see Waelvur, the dodgy wagon-dealer, sweat beading on his bald head, hastily telling the crowd, ‘There’s nothing to see here! Go back to your homes! Keep back!’. Next to him is the Stone Quarry Overseer woman who is saying even weirder things with her stern voice, stuff like, ‘Non-Believers are forbidden to enter the Tomb!’ and ‘The Delvers cannot be disturbed!’”

The adventurers make their way to the front to confront the pair. Waelvur is much shorter than Tempest, but he puffs himself up nervously as the dragonborn looms over him. “Um.. nothing to see here?” he squeaks.

Just then, Constable Harburk and his burly sons turn up. “What’s going on here?” asks the Constable. Waelvur looks visibly relieved. “Um, yes Constable, we were just keeping people away from this dangerous sinkhole. In fact, I think everyone should just go home and leave this matter to myself and Melli here.”

The Constable gives him a strange look. “I heard there are children trapped down there! We should rescue them straight away!” to which Waelvur immediately protests.

I tell the kids, “The crowd parts again, and you see Zoey the half-orc caravan guard come through. She’s carrying a coil of rope.”

“Zoey!” greets Jojo happily. After arranging who goes down the sinkhole (Zoey, Tempest and Folax) and who stands above-ground holding the rope (Constable Harburk and his sons, and DEFINITELY NOT Waelvur and Melli the Stone Quarry Overseer), the adventurers descend into the depths of the gaping sinkhole.

I read from the campaign book: “This wide, irregularly shaped cavern has a floor of smooth bedrock. Damp dirt and stone, with tree roots protruding here and there, make up the walls. A five-foot-wide tunnel leads off to the north, and a stone slab - a door with a rusty pull-ring - stands to the east. By the stone door, a couple of well-used cloaks and a waterskin are on the floor.

Of course, the first thing Evan asks is if they can see his wagon. I affirm, “The wagon is right in the middle of this cavern! You can see that although one of the back axles is broken, the main structure of the wagon seems intact!”

Evan nods approvingly. “This is what you get for 100 gold! Thelorn’s quality wagon!” The adventurers peer into the wagon, and they see three children huddled together in tears. From here, it was a simple matter to get the kids hoisted out with the rope. “What about my wagon!?” demands Evan.

I tell him, “Well, it’s too big to be hoisted up using these ropes! You’ll have to figure out another way to get your wagon out!” The adventurers decide to check out the stone-slab door. After inspecting the two cloaks, they decide that Zoey and Folax should wear them, while Tempest casts Disguise Self to make it look like she’s wearing a similar cloak herself.

Proceeding through the stone-slab door, the adventurers find themselves in a long straight corridor heading eastwards. “The walls and floor are perfectly smooth. It definitely looks as if this was chiseled out a long time ago.” They pass two stone sentinels carved into the walls facing each other (not bothering to check if they are hidden doors, which they were) and eventually come to a portion of corridor where the ceiling rises into the darkness above. “Even with darkvision, you can only see a series of floating panels where the ceiling should be. Further on, you can see the corridor ends with another stone-slab door.”

Even my kids can figure this out. “It’s a trap. I wonder what’s up there?” Evan decides to jump to see if he can reach a panel, and rolls an amazing 19 with his acrobatics check. “You manage to grab hold of a panel… and it swings from side to side! You hoist yourself up, and you see iron bars. The panels are actually the undersides of cages suspended with chains from the ceiling!”

Jojo ponders. “Cages. Which fall as soon as we go under them. I… RUN LIKE BLAZES DOWN THE CORRIDOR!” Demonstrating a natural lack of mutual consideration, Tempest sprints down the corridor. Seeing the dragonborn sprint through, Folax drops down and runs as well, followed by Zoey. I get them to roll Dexterity checks, and announce, “Immediately, there is a rattling of chains, and sure enough, the cages fall down from the ceiling! Zoey and Tempest are trapped in cages, but Folax makes it to the stone-slab door at the end of the corridor!”

Folax tries to open the stone-slab door, but this one seems bolted from the inside. I tell him, “And then, you suddenly smell… pickles!”

“Pickle-seller guy!” Sure enough, the voice of Grund the half-orc sounds through the stone-slab door. “You not give password!”

Evan says, “A password? Oh, what was that word? ‘Delvers’?”

“Um no. It something you are.”

The kids crack their heads for a while, but eventually give up. I tell them that they can hear Grund moving off. “I go get others now!”

Evan slaps his forehead. “Ah, it’s Zoey! The pickle-seller guy has a crush on Zoey! We should have gotten Zoey to talk to him!”

Ah well, opportunity missed. I ask the kids what they want to do now. After trying again to open the door himself (and using up a series of Magic Missles from his wand to blast the door), I patiently remind him that his companions are still stuck in cages, and perhaps they can help. Eventually, the gunslinger helps Zoey and Tempest to lift and escape their cages, and together, they bust open the stone-slab door.

The room beyond the stone-slab door just has a bench, and a series of levers and chains along the walls, obviously used to activate the cage traps. There are more stone-slab doors to the north and east, and the adventurers proceed eastwards.

Adventure Notes:
The campaign book has a boy pinned under a stone-slab here, apparently the son of one of the Believers who is being punished for some minor infraction. Personally, I thought that the Believers already had enough crimes under their belt without adding child-abuse to the list, so I removed that scene.

“You guys come to another stone room, and this one has a statue of a dwarf warrior here.” I describe the statue, and that it had coins and various gems littered on the ground around it. “There’s also an interesting-looking dagger here!”

Evan hastily diverts his attention from playing with his phone and declares that he’s scooping up the loot on the floor, while Jojo picks up the dagger and asks me to describe it. “It’s a dagger decorated with star motifs! The grip is made from night-blue leather! Dried blood still coats the blade. It hardly whispers a sound when you swing it through the air. And there’s a word ‘Reszur’ inscribed on the pommel!”

Evan declares, “I say, ‘Reszur’!”

Nothing happens. “Probably because you’re not holding the dagger, Tempest is.” I point out.

Somewhat hesitantly, the dragonborn cleric says ‘Reszur’, and the blade gives off a cold glow that lights up the area like a torch. “And that’s what it does,” I finish.

Jojo splutters, “A glow-stick!? Evan gets a cool Wand of Magic Missiles, and I get a stupid glow-stick!? I’ve got darkvision for crying out loud!!”

Oooo... Magic!

Even my consolation of ‘Well, it’s +1!’ doesn’t mollify her. Tempest tosses the glowing dagger over her shoulder in disgust. I tell her that Zoey picks it up and shrugs as she keeps it.

There’s another door to the east, so the adventurers proceed through that one. “You guys are in another short corridor. It ends at another door. Next to this door, a small lantern hangs from a hook. Sitting on a wooden stool by the lantern is a balding, beardless old man in patched and faded work trousers and tunic. He’s idly whittling a stick.”

Evan says, “I point my rifle at his face!” The old man exclaims in terror and immediately begs for his life. The adventurers ask him who he is and what is this place, and the old man gives his name as Baragustus, and that he is one of the Believers. Many years ago, the chamber beyond this door was discovered by miners. They called it the ‘Tomb of Moving Stones’ because there were strange dwarven skeletons entombed in there, and big rocks which seem to change their positions from time to time. The Believers call the dead dwarves Delvers and believe that they move the rocks to communicate and show signs of coming danger. “The Delvers care for the good of Red Larch! And recently, someone named Larrakh came to us. He said he was an earth priest, and he could help us understand the Delvers better!”

“Where’s this earth priest now?” asks Tempest.

The old carpenter nods towards the door. “He’s inside the Tomb.”

Anticipating a boss-fight coming up, the kids continue through the stone door into the Tomb. As they enter, I lift up the campaign book to give the kids some visual:

Jojo exclaims, “That’s exactly like how I imagined it! Me and Evan the midget and everything!”

I tell the kids that there are stone slab beds along the sides of the walls with dwarven skeletons. They go over to inspect these, and find dwarven inscriptions on the walls. Rummaging through their character sheets, the kids are disappointed to find that neither of them speak Dwarf.

“I speak Dwarf!” sounds out S'il-vous-plaît from his scabbard.


“Yup! I once had a dwarf room-mate who could only speak in his own language. So I took night-classes to learn Dwarf so that I could talk to him.” S'il-vous-plaît looks downcast. “Then I found out that he was saying very bad things about me to his friends all this while, so.. yeah.”

Jojo sighs. “Well, can you read what this inscription says?”

S'il-vous-plaît mutters as he picks through the words. “It says… ‘Caution! Heavy equipment in operation! Do not use while drunk or fatigued!’

While the kids ponder on the strange sign, I tell them. “Suddenly, you hear a whining sound, like something powering up! Tempest, you see a very large stone sliding towards you, like it was sliding over ice!” Jojo succeeds her Dexterity check and leaps up on the stone slab bed, scattering dwarven bones everywhere, as the large stone crashes against the bed and bounces away, as if it were a puck on an air-hockey table.

I tell the kids, “In the middle of the chamber, you see a dark robed man sneering at you. ‘You dare interfere with the Black Earth Cult! Your meddling ends here!’ And then, six more figures spring out in front of him, and you hear this…” I search up and play this YouTube video on my phone:

The six figures clad in leather armour strike poses in front of the Black Earth Cult priest. “It’s the Bringers of Woe!”

“Oh no, these butt-triangles again!” groans Evan.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

D&D 5e [Princes of the Apocalypse] Session 6: Lance Rock Larkiness

Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)

Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.

After a Short Rest, the adventurers follow the left exit and come to a large cathedral-like cavern. “There are three flat boulders serving as stone slab tables close to you, bearing corpses in various stages of decomposition. The cavern continues further into the dark. There is a hooded figure here at one of the stone tables, holding a bone needle in one hand. There are baskets of human parts next to the stone slab tables.”

Evan decides to fire at the hooded figure’s hand, and rolls an excellent shot. “The figure’s hand explodes into gore! The figure looks at its missing hand, and then at you guys. It’s another zombie!” S'il-vous-plaît flies forward and attacks. Tempest sets the zombie’s hood on fire with Sacred Flame, while Folax blasts its head right off with a single shot, its head trailing smoke as it bounces away.

Tempest investigates the basket of human parts. I tell her, “There’s just more gore and parts in these. You lift out a severed hand, and it suddenly comes to life and starts clawing you! In fact, you see four other hands crawling out of the baskets!” I tell the kids that this is a Crawling Claw; an undead severed hand of a murderer, and read out some fun facts about Crawling Claws from the Monster Manual. “Dark wizards use these as assistants. And it is actually possible to turn the severed hand of a living person into a Crawling Claw, although that person will go into a coma until the hand is destroyed!”

This fight was entertaining. One of the claws managed to leap onto Folax and the gunslinger spent several frantic rounds trying to get the scrambling thing off. Evan got desperate enough to demand that S'il-vous-plaît try to stab it off! Eventually though, he manages to throw it on the ground and stomp on it, and the rest of the disgusting little creatures are eventually destroyed.

“I almost died because of a stupid undead hand!” grumbles Evan. The gunslinger downs a Cure Light Wounds potion to calm his nerves.

“You’ve been pretty trigger-happy with your rifle,” I tell Evan. “Remember to keep track of your ammo. You’ve got, what, 5 shots left?”

The adventurers proceed further down the large cavern. I tell them that they see a stairway cut into the side of the cavern which leads up to a peep-hole and a depressed lever. “So, who wants to look in first?” I ask cheerfully.

Peep-holes in D&D are the best at freaking out players. After a lot of ‘You look! No, you look! I went first last time!’ Folax looks through and sees the caved-in room with the smashed chests. The kids correctly guess that this is where the ‘Lord of Lance Rock’ must have observed and triggered the cave-in trap.

Going further down the cavern, I tell the kids, “You come to a stone workbench where a man dressed in black is cleaning his cutting tools. Guarding him are four skeletons! The man looks like this.”

“I don’t like him already!” declares Jojo.

The man sees the adventurers and demands, “Bow before the Lord of Lance Rock!! Me!! Behold my dark terrors!” The skeletons clack as they regard the adventurers.

Tempest pulls out her holy symbol. “Turn undead!” I roll d20s for the skeletons’ saving throws: 3, 3, 4 and 1. “To the astonishment of the Lord of Lance Rock, all his skeletons turn and flee! The man is like, ‘What the - guys? Guys!’. He looks a little panicked, but he regains his composure and says, “Well done! You have proven your worth to the Lord of Lance Rock! As your reward, you may now leave in peace!”

Tempest turns to Folax and says, “Shoot him.”

The man clasps his hands together in fright. “Ah! Please don’t kill me!”

Jojo sniggers, “Heh, works every time.”

Tempest asks, “So why are you terrorising Red Larch?”

“Red Larch!? That little insignificant settlement has not even felt the brunt of my undead power! It’s no different from all the other settlements I’ve been chased away from! I bide my time now in my secret hideout, but soon they will all know and fear the might of my undead army!”

“If this is your hideout, why did you put a big sign in front telling everyone that you’re here!?”

He pauses from his rant. “Perhaps that was not such a good idea.” A thought crosses his mind. “Are you two from the Black Earth Cult?”

Tempest says, “Why yes! We’ve been sent to get, um. ‘Another one’?”

The man has no idea what Tempest is requesting. “I know you in the Black Earth Cult have a presence in Red Larch. Perhaps we can reach some sort of agreement between the Black Earth Cult and the Lord of Lance Rock?”

Jojo sighs. “I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. I think you deserve to die right now!”

With that, I get the kids to roll for Initiative. I roll a 11 for the man, but Evan rolls a 12! “The Lord of Lance Rock raises his hands to cast a spell, but Folax does the quick draw; he lifts and fires his rifle one-handed in one fluid motion!” The shot grazes the man’s shoulder, but he completes his spell, and the air shimmers around him like a force field as Mage Armour manifests. S'il-vous-plaît leaps forward to skewer the man, but the sword glances off the unseen armour.

Tempest casts Command which fails to take hold (Jojo really wanted to try ‘DANCE!’ as a command), while Folax does a Rapid Reload (according to Evan, one-handed-style like in Terminator 2) and fires another shot that hits the man right in the chest, showering Mage Armour sparks everywhere, lifting him off his feet and onto his bottom.

Rapid Reload like a Bad-ass!

The Lord of Lance Rock snarls, “CROWN!” and points at Folax. I tell the kids that this is a ‘Crown of Madness’ spell that can cause Folax to go mad and attack someone next to him. Evan rolls his saving throw, and just makes it! “You see iron points of a crown flicker around Folax’s head before vanishing completely!” Tempest flings her ever-reliable Guiding Bolt spell that finally takes the Lord of Lance Rock down to his last hitpoint. “I yield!” he screams in fear as S'il-vous-plaît rests his blade on the man’s throat.

The fight over, the kids ask the man what does he know of the Black Earth Cult. “I thought you were the Black Earth Cult,” whimpers the man. “But if you want to know, I must show you something!” He gets up (S'il-vous-plaît still hovering at his throat) and leads the adventurers to the back of the cavern.

“The back of the cavern looks like a messy study with a messier bed on one side. In the middle, there’s a stand made from humans arms holding a crystal ball! Hovering faintly above the crystal ball is this symbol:”

“It’s the Eye!” intones the Lord of Lance Rock. “Can’t you see it? It sees your every move!”

“It does? Wait, is this like ‘Lord of the Rings’?”

“What? No, I’m the ‘Lord of Lance Rock’! And the Elemental Evil Eye has been here for thousands of years! It waits to consume the world!!” The eye shimmers above the four other symbols, one of which is recognisably the butt-triangle symbol that they have seen before. I tell Jojo that Tempest suddenly recalls where she’s previously seen this symbol - it was on the stone armour which crumbled away into sand when she tried removing it from that dead person they found in those burial mounds.

“I take the crystal ball,” says Evan. As the gunslinger reaches out to take it, the Lord of Lance Rock screams, ‘NO!’ and hurls himself at Folax. “You see his hand glowing with long, red fingernails (GM Note: Vampiric Touch) as he reaches out to claw you!” S'il-vous-plaît gets first attack though (with advantage) and efficiently dismembers the man’s hand. Collapsing on the ground dying, the Lord of Lance Rock utters under his last breath, “The undead... will rule!”

“I loot his body!”

“The man’s body suddenly burns in a black flame, and then vanishes with a plaintive wail!”


The adventurers contend themselves by exploring the grisly study. They loot a cache of gold and gems, chase away the four skeletons hiding under the bed, and find a blue wand on the study table. A few experimental blasts (one which destroys the bed) reveals that this is a Wand of Magic Missiles. We agree that the Lord of Lance Rock has probably hoping to grab this when he brought them in here.

I say, “So, are you guys going to try looking for Savra?”


“Kaylessa’s niece? You know, the person you’re supposed to be looking for? The reason why you came to Lance Rock in the first place!?”

“Oh, her! Yeah!”

A careful inspection of the bodies shows that none of them fit the description of the innkeeper’s niece. “S'il-vous-plaît suggests that you should bury the rest of the dead bodies, just in case someone else comes along to raise them as undead, so you guys pile them in a cave and collapse it. The journey back to Red Larch takes most of the next day and is uneventful.”

Back in Red Larch, the adventurers go to the Swinging Sword and find Kaylessa, “Hey, Kaylessa, we went to Lance Rock, and we didn’t find your niece. There was some crazy evil dude there raising undead though, but we took care of him.”

Kaylessa looks embarrassed, “Oh! That’s great that you cleared out Lance Rock! Um, about my niece…” Just then, a young teenage girl approaches, “Hey, Aunt Kaylessa! I’m heading off now!” Kaylessa sheepishly introduces her ‘lost’ niece to the surprised adventurers.

“Before you guys can tell Kaylessa off, another man approaches. You recognise this man! He’s the hippogriff rider you guys met in session 1!”

The man smiles at everyone. He does not seem to recall Folax or Tempest. He says to Kaylessa, “So you see, there’s nothing to worry about! Savra is safe with us in Feathergale Spire! But, please, feel free to come visit any time!”

Savra adds, “Oh yes! We’ve cleared a path to Feathergale Spire so that wagons or supply caravans can get to it. It’s easier to cart furniture to the Spire now; have you ever tried transporting a four-poster bed with a hippogriff!?” With that, the young girl and the man bid Kaylessa and the adventurers good-bye. They go outside to mount their hippogriffs which were waiting for them in outside the stables. In a powerful beat of wings, the two are off into the sky, flying towards Feathergale Spire.

I tell the kids, “You notice that Kaylessa still looks worried, even though her niece has been found.” Tempest asks Kaylessa about it, and the innkeeper sighs, “Oh, it’s just… I’ve heard strange things about the flying club in Feathergale Spire. About people going there and then deciding to stay. I heard this odd story of a young man from a farm who joined the club against his family’s wishes, and when his older brother went to bring him back, he too joined! Maybe it’s a young person thing. Perhaps they find it more exciting to be part of the flying club, or something.”

Jojo ponders, “Hmm.. Sounds like some sort of brain-washing.”

I tell the kids that there’s some sort of excited commotion outside. The adventurers exit the inn, and see a brand new covered wagon outside. Thelorn’s workers are pushing the wagon along, while Thelorn himself is taking the opportunity to show-off his workers’ handiwork. “The horse should be coming from the farm later,” he tells Folax.

“Oh, yes!” says Evan rubbing his hands gleefully. A large group of onlookers have gathered to admire the wagon. Some kids turn up, and the adventurers recognise the little girl Pell and her older siblings. The kids Oooo! at the sight and Pells asks pleadingly, “Can we go inside and look, pleeeeeease?”

“No,” says Evan firmly.

“Yes!” says Jojo happily.

“YAAYY!!” The kids swarm around the blustering gunslinger and climb into the wagon.

Kaylessa comes out to admire the wagon as well. “Did you know that Market Day had to be stopped halfway through the day? It was all blue skies, and suddenly storm clouds rolled in, and there was a terrible hailstorm! Everyone had to pack away their things and run for cover!”

I tell the kids, “Suddenly, there’s a tremor on the ground! “EARTHQUAKE!” someone shouts, and there are screams all around. Roof tiles fall from above, and people are running panicked everywhere! You see the wagon sag one way, and then sink into the ground as a massive sink hole opens up in the middle of the street!”

Jojo is laughing at her brother’s aghast face. “Folax faints!” he declares.

The wagon disappears from sight as the sinkhole opens up. A woman comes up screaming, “Where are the children!?” Someone shouts that they were in the wagon.

Jojo stops laughing. “Oh NO! I let them into the wagon!”

I close the campaign book. “And that’s to be continued next week!”


Adventure Notes:
Heh, nothing like a good cliff-hanger to end a session! 

Monday, June 3, 2019

D&D 5e [Princes of the Apocalypse] Session 5: We were told there would be Crumblecake

Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)

Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.

I’m making it a habit now to ask the kids three questions before each session; sort of a ‘prep-thing’ to get them into character: What’s your name? What’s your background? What are your abilities? It seems to help them get into the mindset of the characters, especially since we tend to play only once a week.

Jojo starts. “My name is Tempest, I’m a dragonborn cleric who got kicked out of her dragonborn clan for making mischief, and instead of going back to apologize, I had alot of pride issues, so I wandered a lot in the wilderness.” She flips her character sheet over. “I can lightning blast things, burn things, sneak past things, duplicate myself, and cast Thaumaturgy which is-” she goes up a few octaves melodiously. “AWE-SOME!”

Evan goes next. “My name is Folax, I’m a gunslinger, and I point my rifle at things, and they die.”

With that out of the way, we launch into the next session. “A few more days pass. Evan, you’re at Landro’s when he approaches you and asks, ‘Hey-a, Folax.’ He looks a bit worried. ‘I’m meeting with some, uh, visitors tonight, and I’d really appreciate it if you could, uh, be my muscle during the meeting.’”

Folax grunts. “Yeah, okay.”

“Oh, um. It’ll be good if we had more numbers tonight for muscle. Could you, uh, ask your dragon-person friend if she could come along?”

“Draconian,” Folax corrects Landro.

“Dragonborn,” Jojo corrects Evan.

“What do you need her for?” Folax shows off his Belt of Hill Giant Strength. “I’m all the muscle you need! I’m a one-man army right here!”

Landro laughs. “Sometimes Folax, numbers count more than actual strength! I just don’t want any trouble tonight, so it’s best we show up with a good number of people!”

Grumbling under his breath over Landro’s lack of confidence over Folax’s abilities, the gunslinger goes off to find Tempest who is currently finishing up her dinner at the Helm on Highsun. After pocketing another spork from her meal (and earning another ‘Geez, every time!’ exasperated burst from Garl the bartender), the two adventurers make their way back to Landro’s.

“You guys meet Landro in the backroom of the tavern. Not the ‘back-back’ room where his equipment is, but just the normal backroom. Landro is all smiles, but he looks pretty worried. He gestures to one corner, ‘I’ve asked Greenie to be here too, as backup.’ The old shepherd is snoozing in the corner.”

Greenie!? Out of all people, why him!? Why not Ironhead the half-orc!?”

“He was busy. Couldn’t make it.”

Just while Evan is complaining about how he could have done without an old shepherd ‘backing him up’, I tell the kids, “There’s a series of knocks on the backdoor, as if in code. Landro wakes Greenie and gets him to answer the door. Several people enter the room; you recognise some of them - Waelvur the dodgy wagon-dealer, that unfriendly Stone Quarry Overseer Woman who paid you 3 coppers back in session one, and three other guys who are dressed in leather armour. You notice that these guys all have the same emblem on their armour which looks like this.” I draw the symbol for the kids:

“It looks like some sort of butt-triangle!”

I tell Jojo “Roll for Insight!” and she rolls poorly. “You think you’ve seen this symbol before, but you can’t place it right now. You’re sure it’ll come to you later.”

Waelvur looks at Folax, Tempest and Greenie critically, and whispers to Landro, “Landro, are you sure it’s safe to talk in front of.. non-Believers?”

Jojo says, “We can hear you from here, you know.”

Landro answers, “I can vouch for them. Believers or not, they know how to keep things under wraps.”

“Huh,” says Waelvur doubtfully. He pauses a bit before saying, “The Delvers are asking for... another one.”

Landro sighs. “We’ve been listening to the Delvers for what, years now? Don’t you find it weird that they’re suddenly asking for stuff like this recently?” He gestures to the guys in leather armour. “Especially since these guys came along?”

The Stone Quarry Overseer Woman answers sternly, “We cannot question the wisdom of the Delvers! The Delvers care for the good of Red Larch!”

While Landro and the other two argue amongst themselves, one of the leather armour guys looks Tempest over and snorts, “So you guys are the ‘muscle’ that Landro brought in!?”

Jojo says, “I stare at him and say, ‘You’ve got a problem, buddy?’”

The leather armour guy laughs, “Oh, you wouldn’t want to mess with us, sister! Have you not heard of us?”

Folax and Tempest exchange a look and shrug. “Uh, no?”

I tell the kids, “Immediately, the guys gather themselves up, and say in unison, ‘We are... the Bringers of Woe!’. In fact,” I say, getting inspired. “They start a whole motto routine, similar to Team Rocket from Pokemon!”

Team Rocket blasts Off at the speed of light!

The kids decide that their characters just stare blankly, unimpressed. I tell them that Folax and Tempest do just that, while Greenie bursts out laughing behind them.

Meanwhile, things seem to have reached a conclusion between Landro and the other two. The Stone Overseer Quarry Woman sternly tells Landro, “Your job is to find another one, and let us know where and when. We will handle the rest.” With that, she and Waelvur leave the tavern, with the ‘Bringers of Woe’ following them.

Jojo says, “Okay, Landro. You’re going to have to clue us in here. Another what?”

Landro shrugs. “Look, I can’t say much, but just know that there’s a number of us in town who act for the good of Red Larch. Things have been getting a little intense lately, especially since those ‘butt-triangle guys’ showed up. That’s all I can say. Thanks for helping me out here, it was very much appreciated.” With that, he ushers everyone out of the backroom. Folax goes back to his lounge couch in the tavern, while Tempest goes back to her room at the Swinging Sword.

I tell Jojo, “The next morning, you are woken up by a knocking on your room door at the inn. You open the door, and you see Zoey the caravan guard half-orc!” Tempest greets her half-orc friend enthusiastically, and Zoey tells Tempest, “You haven’t been here long enough to go to Market Day, have you?”

The dragonborn cleric shakes her head, and Zoey declares, “Then we must go to Market Day together! If there’s anything you must do in Red Larch, it’s to go to Market Day and find the thing that makes Red Larch truly famous in the region!” She leans closer and says fervently, “Crumblecake!”

I tell the kids that crumblecake is a Red Larch speciality, and read out the description from the campaign book. “It sounds like a sort of shepherd’s pie with chickpea mash on top.”

“That sounds amazing!” says Tempest, “I’m getting hungry just listening to it! Let’s go!”

The two of them go outside and I tell Jojo, “Although it’s quite early in the morning, you’re surprised to see that the main street is pretty busy with wagons and farming folk coming in from all over! You even spot a few other adventurers roaming around! Everyone seems to be heading towards the open fairgrounds to the south east of town.”

I ask Evan if Folax wakes up due to all the traffic noise outside Landro’s tavern, but the gunslinger just turns over with a “Neeaggh” and goes back to sleep.

The Red Larch fairgrounds is already almost packed with market stalls and wagons and people. There are stalls selling farm produce, fresh vegetables, farming implements, and freshly cooked food which smells amazing. “This is mainly a farmers’ market,” I tell Jojo. “You do spot a few stalls selling magical trinkets, but these are just simple things that glow by themselves.”

As Zoey and Tempest wander through the crowd, they are suddenly confronted by a small girl. “It’s Pell, the little girl who told you she touched the tomb door on a dare!”

“Oh, um, hi?” says Jojo. The last time she saw Pell, she had cast Disguise Self to make herself look like a human.

The little girl squints at her and points, “You’re the same lady, aren’t you? I recognise your clothes!”

“Um, she’s pretty perceptive for a kid, isn’t she?”

“I like your scales!” declares Pell.

Jojo relaxes. “Aww! She likes me!”

The little girl admires the dragonborn’s blue scales. “Have you tried my mother’s crumblecake? It’s the BEST in the world!”

Zoey looms over Pell. “Human girl-child, you will bring us to this crumblecake of your mother’s, otherwise I will-”

“What she means to say is,” cuts in Jojo hurriedly. “We’d love to come try some of your mother’s crumblecake!”

With that, the little girl happily takes Tempest by the hand and leads them through the market crowd. I tell Jojo, “Pell brings you to a market stall, and she doesn’t look like she’s kidding about her mother’s crumblecake, because there’s a long queue of customers at the stall! However, Pell leads you both to the back of the stall where an elderly lady is baking with a makeshift oven while two older kids handle the customers.”

“Whoo! Backstage pass!”

Pell introduces the elderly lady as her mom, who tells them to call her Minny. “You make such interesting friends, Pell,” says Minny. Pell shrugs and commandeers two freshly baked crumblecakes for Tempest and Zoey.

“Oooo.. this tastes A-MA-ZING! Like a hot chicken pie with lightly baked mash on top!” Zoey is in crumblecake heaven, while Minny says to Tempest, “I know what you’re thinking. I’m rather old to be Pell’s mother. Well, the truth is that Pell’s parents died in a raider attack, and I took her in. The other kids are all orphans too, and they all call me their ‘mother’. They help me run the poultry where we rear chickens.”

They chat about the recent unusual weather. Tempest asks Minny about the going-ons in Red Larch, and whether she knows anything about Waelvur the wagon-dealer. Minny shakes her head, “Sad to say, every town has a seedy side, and Waelvur along with a few others seems to be Red Larch’s seedy side. They are pretty close-knit, and they always say that they do things ‘for the good of Red Larch’. Personally, I keep out of politics, and stick to what I know best, which is baking crumblecake!” She hands another two cakes to Tempest and Zoey who accept them gratefully.

Meanwhile, Evan’s gunslinger has finally decided to get out of bed, and he wanders into the busy street. I ask him, “So, do you want to head off to the fairgrounds to meet Tempest and Zoey?”

“Naah,” he says. “I want to check out that other wagon place. Not Waelvur’s. The good one.”

The gunslinger makes his way to the other wagon place. I tell Evan, “‘Thelorn’s Fine Harness’ is famous for making the best quality wagons in the region. The place is busy with carpenters, people with hammers. There are three sheds, one with workers, another with wagon parts, while the last is a sort of wagon showroom displaying at least a dozen finished wagons. Thelorn’s favourite saying is, ‘A dozen spare wagons in stock, ready to go!”

Nodding appreciatively, Folax wanders around the wagon showroom, checking out the fine wagons. There is a polite cough behind him, and Thelorn the owner greets Folax and asks if he’s interested in purchasing a wagon. When Thelorn reveals the prices of the wagons (most of them about 100 gold with horse), the gunslinger is disheartened. That was more money that he had in currency.

I tell Evan, “As you leave Thelorn’s, your ears perk up to the sound of arguing! Across the street, you see Kaylessa the innkeeper arguing with Constable Harburk!” The innkeeper waves her hands angrily, “My niece Savra should have been here by now! Her family in Waterdeep has written to me about her, and the letter is already here, but she isn’t! I’m telling you, she’s missing because of the evil at Lance Rock!” When the constable mutters something about all the troubles he’s had to deal with in town lately, Kaylessa throws up her hands, “I’ve given up on the police authorities in this town! If you won’t send someone to Lance Rock, then I will!”

Then, in a much calmer voice, she starts ordering some haunches of meat from the constable. Constable Harburk notes these down in his book, “Yup, uh huh, some really nice sides of ham came in this morning, do you want some those? Yes?”

Evan says, “I come up to them and say, ‘I’m here to do whatever mission you have - for money!!’” Yes, this should be every adventurer’s motto.

Kaylessa and Constable Harburk regard the gunslinger for a few moments before the constable says, “You know, he might just be your best bet, Kaylessa.” The innkeeper nods and says to Folax, “Okay then, you go to Lance Rock and look for my niece Savra, I’ll pay you for it!” She heads off to her inn.

Evan suddenly remembers, “Wait a minute! Don’t we have some other loot from the previous session!? It says here that we picked up a golden locket with a half-elf lady picture inside! I wonder how much that’s worth!?” With that, the gunslinger heads back into Thelorn’s, who inspects the locket. The wagon-dealer says, “Yup, this should cover a new wagon and a horse! Perhaps even some customisations!” The gunslinger orders some walls and a roof, a bunk on one side, and a small cabinet. “I’m getting out of Landro’s,” he says. “This is going to be my caravan!” Thelorn says that they work night-shifts in his shop, so this should be ready latest by the day after tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Tempest and Zoey are wandering around the fairgrounds when Zoey says, “I think there’s someone following us!”

Tempest looks, and sees another half-orc clumsily following them as discreetly as he can, ducking in and out of market stalls. Jojo says, “How many half-orcs are there in this town!? I approach him and say, ‘Who are you and why are you following us!?’”

I tell them, “Half-orcs aren’t common in human towns, there’s probably about half-a-dozen in a town of over a hundred people, but they do tend to stick out. They usually have a grayish skin-tone due to their orc heritage. This one’s skin-tone seems to be turning into a bright shade of pink though!” The half-orc stammers, “Uh hi, um. My name Grund. Um.” He seems too shy to make eye-contact, but he keeps looking at Zoey.

Evan says, “Oh, I think he’s got a crush!”

I tell Jojo, “You smell the distinct odour of pickles on this half-orc.”

Jojo sighs, “You’re the pickle-seller, aren’t you? From the covered wagon in the fairgrounds.”

Grund perks up. “You want pickles!? Grund have plenty of pickles!”

“Um, no. Look, just go away and leave us alone.”

The half-orc looks crestfallen as he slinks away. Tempest goes back to Zoey who says, “Geez, he’s just so weird!” They wander around the fairgrounds a bit more before they say goodbye and part ways. Tempest goes off to find Folax, and is alarmed to hear that he’d traded in the golden locket for a wagon. “Jojo, it’s a good deal! Look, we BOTH can share the wagon!”

Just then, Kaylessa turns up. “Folax! Thank goodness you’ve not left yet! Here, take these before you go.” She hands Folax and Tempest two Cure Light Wounds Potions each. Tempest takes these courteously, and looks at Folax, “Okay, what else have you gone and done without me!?”

It takes the rest of the day for the adventurers to travel to Lance Rock. Night is falling by the time they arrive at the rocky monolith. I tell the kids, “Lance Rock is visible from miles around - it’s a single rock tower slanting at a 60 degree angle. Legends say that it was dropped here hundreds of years ago by a dragon. On top of another dragon.”

The adventurers explore the base of the rock tower, and find a trail leading into the brush which comes to a cave. “There’s a sign next to the trail, which says, ‘Come no closer, lest you catch the disfiguring plague that afflicts me! - The Lord of the Lance Rock’” Shrugging, the adventurers enter the cave.

“It’s dark, but Tempest sees well enough with her darkvision. About 60 feet in, you see a human corpse stripped down to its breeches lying on the ground.” The adventurers decide to carefully step over the corpse and continue their way. They eventually come to a round, high-ceilinged cave with exits to the right and left. “You hear shuffling sounds above you! It seems to be coming from a ledge about 10 feet up!”

The kids discuss their options. “If only we could fly up!” says Jojo. I tell her, “One of you can, you know.” The kids look at me blankly before I say, “S'il-vous-plaît? You know, that specter sword you have that flies around?”

“OHHH!” We imagine that the adventurers are musing out loud, “If only one of us could fly!” while S'il-vous-plaît is hovering impatiently in the air next to them.

S'il-vous-plaît goes up to the ledge, and then the kids hear him shout, “LOOK OUT!” and a cascade of rocks and stones fall from above! The kids fail their Dexterity saving throws, and both Tempest and Folax are battered for 2d6 damage. “Then, there are two squelchy flops as two zombies land face-first from above in front of you! They start to rise!”

Tempest immediately snaps out her holy symbol and turns undead, causing one of the two zombies to flee, stumbling away into the right exit. The other one claws ineffectively on Folax’s armour before the gunslinger’s war pick bashes its brains out.

S'il-vous-plaît hovers back down. “They were shuffling around up there holding a crate full of those rocks! They tipped the crate over before jumping down themselves! This doesn’t seem like dumb zombie behaviour!”

“Hmm.. I was just thinking the same thing,” ponders Jojo.

The adventurers decide not to follow the other fleeing zombie down the right exit, and take the left exit instead. “Eventually, you guys come to a another cavern with two more exits, right and left. There are three zombies shambling around here; one dressed in a bear suit, another in a woman’s dress and a wig, while the last one is in a jester’s costume.”

Wait, where have I seen you guys before!?

The scene causes a considerable pause. “What if they are intelligent zombies!?” wonders Jojo. In the end, the kids decide that Tempest should pretend to be a zombie and lurch out to them.

“Tempest puts on her best zombie impression and lurches out to the three zombies. She goes, ‘Urrrrrgggh!’. The three zombies look at Tempest, then at each other, and then stagger towards Tempest, their arms out clawing. ‘URRRGGHHH!!’”

It’s a short fight. Folax wades into the zombies with his war pick, while Tempest does another ‘Turn undead’ which causes the bear costume zombie and the jester zombie to flee down the right exit. The zombie in a dress gets a few claw attacks in before Folax manages to take its head off with his war pick.

“Why are they always fleeing to the right!?” This time, the adventurers take the right exit and come to a small square room with no other exits. “There are two iron chests in this room, and you can see the two zombies in here cowering in the corner!” Evan decides to open the chest, and I announce, “Suddenly, you hear a voice booming, ‘YOU DARE PIT YOURSELVES AGAINST THE LORD OF LANCE ROCK! DEATH IS YOUR REWARD!’ The ceiling of the room caves in!”

Evan succeeds in his Dexterity saving throw, while Jojo rolls a natural 20. “Springing to one side to avoid a crashing rock, and then backwards to avoid another one, the dragonborn cleric leaps out of the room! Folax dive rolls out!” Once the dust clears, the adventurers can see that the two zombies have been completely squished, and the rubble has smashed the iron chests, revealing them to be completely empty.

“Gah! Now I’m really getting annoyed with this Lord of Lance Rock,” mutters Evan vengefully.

Adventure Notes:
The adventure continues! After dinner...