On Monday, February 24th, Year 4, Matthias has heard reports from Bill and Agon of an orc war camp near the Gnomish refining facility and desires to send a diplomatic representative to them before they depart. With only two adventures to accompany his chosen spokesman, Thomas, he also asks the commander of the regional police, Michael, to join them. The party is:
- Verdis the Prickly (HuS): Level 7 Human Fighter
- Pet Rock Phineas
- Agon (HuS): Level 2 Elf Magic-user
- Michael (NPC): Level 5 Human Paladin
- Thomas (NPC): Level 5 Human Cleric
With weather seeming fair, they depart on the morning and going through Confluence quickly entering the woods, following the rough path known to Verdis and Agon from previous trips with the gnomes.
Shortly after lunch, 8.5 miles from Confluence, they come upon an orc hunting party and Agon hails them. It soon becomes clear that they don’t speak elvish. With both sides growing frustrated, the apparent orc leader kneels and mutters for a moment before suddenly collapsing face down to the ground. The other orc becomes alarmed, drawing his sword and yelling. They act quickly to heal the leader before it comes to violence and with tensions dropped, Agon remembers his book of knowledge that first guided him to Haven and the Vale. Opening it and reading its glowing runes, he feels knowledge flow over him, including suddenly recognizing some of the words the orcs had spoken.
With his newfound and temporary knowledge of orcish, he communicates there mission. Being just a hunting party, the orcs recommend they continue North toward the camp until they come upon a patrol with a translator in it.
As they continue, they come upon a pair of bile drakes which Verdis slays, the first with a pair of arrows and the second with his axe after it spits upon Thomas, Thomas misses it, and Agon misses with a powerful bolt of icey death.
They discuss harvesting the acid organs of the drakes, but with no knowledge of where they are found or means of transporting them, they abandon the idea and continue another hour or so.
They are about to make camp when they come upon a large orc patrol pitching tents and starting a fire near their path. Agon approaches there camp and greets them in elvish. One of the orcs responds, dressed a little more formally than other orcs he’s met and marked with purple paint.
The orc consents to them camping nearby, and to journey with them to the main camp in the morning if the patrol commander agrees. They start to set up camp and Verdis observes the orc encampment, counting 10 among them, including a smaller creature, also in purple paint. Before turning in, the translator orc visits their camp, informing them that they will happily divert from their patrol to escort them to the main encampment. They keep a watch parallel that of the nearby orcs and after an uneventful night set out together with them.
On the way, the orcs slay a small group of bile drakes with similar efficiency to Verdis (they take the drake bodies with them) and eventually come to the Great Road. By 2 in the afternoon the 25th, the orc camp comes into sight. As they approach, a great creature the orcs call a manticore arrives flying down the great road (1%) and is shot down by the orc siege engines, which they learn the orcs are training with for eventual war against the Dragon Empire; the manticore was the ideal form of the targets they await at the mouth of the mountains.
Once in the camp, they are presented to the leading council of the war exercise camp, who hear their assurances that they come looking for peace and friendship, but if they are attacked they will fight, and when inevitably wiped out, that there are heroes among them that will continue to plague the orcs to their eventual downfall.
The orcs seem impressed with this, but express that they have no authority to form alliances. They will deliberate, and while they do, ask the party to wait within the camp. They wait an hour or so before their familiar orc translator, Sigrik of Schek Degrik, visits them again, relaying the council’s decision that his patrol should escort them back to where they leave the road and see them off back toward the Vale. He also gives them what he describes as a Writ of Immunity that will allow a diplomatic mission to arrive at the capital of the Union of Schek unmolested. When asked, he tells them that the people of the Vale will be allowed to move within Union territories as long as they abide by the Union laws and depart them when so ordered. By those same laws, they cannot be compelled while outside the Schek lands.
They stay at the camp that night, and in the morning, the 26th, they leave with Sigrik’s patrol, who asks if they know the satyrs and suggests they might help him build a relationship with them, since he is the foremost orc diplomat trained to deal with satyrs. They continue South, meeting some hunting parties and arriving back in the Vale the 27th in the afternoon.
Diplomacy is fun, I love scenarios that require talking through both sides’ motivation. You might find some investigative and diplomatic fun in my one-shot adventure: Cult of the Sleeping God.