On May 11th, Year 5, still without all the pieces in place to go deal with the dragon near Dargos’ domain where Rovert is training, a band of newer adventurers decide to take another look at the ancient windmill to the South. After several events there, the crumbling stone shell has become rumored as a locus of strange happenings. Vale youth claim to have seen a ghost there and recently it seems a hunter was killed there.
- Caramon (CoB): Level 3 Human Fighter
- Mark (JaH): Level 2 Halfling Thief
- Ragnvaldr (TrS): Level 1 Human Fighter
They arrive near noon and find the usual ashes and food remnants from teenage parties swept out of it. This time, though, Caramon and Mark ascertain that it was swept only the day prior, maybe even during the past night. They search the area around the tower and find no tracks, though, not even in the swept area just outside the door.
They decide to spend the night, in case the sweeper returns. Mark patrols outside in his watch, seeing nothing. Ragnvaldr watches from the top of the windmill, also without event. On Caramon’s watch, however, as he patrols the outside of the tower, a voice speaks to him from the woods, asking if he is from Citadel. He calls for the others, seeming to spook the voice, but once they have all calmed down, it speaks again, telling them it is a Sherga, a Rak from the Green Wood. He has come looking to learn more about his brother’s death, but frustrated with their lack of help settles for having them bring a message to Randall that he is there.
In the morning, they return to Citadel and deliver their message to Randall. While they are leaving Citadel House again, they meet an elf maiden who seems oddly frantic. She says she is looking to buy a gift for Sherman, a wonderful, attractive dwarf living in Kite, and that she thought the adventurers might have something magical fitting this wise, magnanimous specimen. They sense that something is off and convince her to bring them to Sherman to bring gifts themselves.
When they arrive in Kite, near supper, they find the folk there working timbers and moving them to a large manor under construction, to which the elf maiden leads them. Inside, a dwarven lumberjack of no remarkable beauty is surrounded with women massaging his shoulders and head and feet and men looking on in rapt attention to the story he is telling. His voice is grating and his story (about chopping down a tree) is dull, but when he finishes, the people all cheer and the men seem amazed. He is introduced as Sherman.
Ragnvaldr immediately leads the group back out, making an excuse that they need to bring their presents in. Once outside, they don’t stop running until they can see Confluence and press on into the night to Citadel, where they arrive to find Matthias already returned to his home.
In the morning, they inform Matthias of the strange goings on in Kite, and he decides he should go there to speak to Daniel, President of Kite Branch. With the stop to lumber shipments from Kite, he was about to ask adventurers to go check it, but this news explains the lack. They all depart, with Q joining them.
- Q (TrS): Level 4 Human Thief
Matthias and Q go on ahead, with Caramon, Mark, and Ragnvaldr following a few minutes behind. While Matthias and Q make their way into the manor (somewhat more complete than even the evening before), the others hide themselves near the edge of the forest to watch. Matthias speaks frankly with Sherman, who tries to convince him to stay a while and see his medicines, promising that he’ll grow to like him. Matthias agrees he will return, but having learned that Daniel is at the lumber mill, he goes to meet with him and learn what all this is about.
At the lumber mill, it becomes clear that Daniel is also enamored with Sherman. He reveals that Sherman was elected mayor of Kite by a show of hands and that they had all agreed work night and day to finish this house to celebrate Sherman’s magnanimity so they could be back to sending lumber for the temple as soon as possible. Matthias instructs Daniel to gather as many people as he can in the chapel for Matthias to address them, attempting to convince them that this is a matter of the church and that Mayor Sherman needn’t know of it, but when Q proposes a bet that Daniel will tell Sherman, Matthias rejects the odds.
At the chapel, Matthias and Q wait while the people gather, notably mostly men among them. When the chapel starts to fill, Matthias asks Q if he thinks the others in woods will know to go grab Sherman now that they have most of the men corralled. Q assumes they would not and goes to fill them in on the plan.
All four of them go to the manor looking for Sherman and find the dining room empty. They fearfully make their way toward the master bedroom and as they approach they can hear women speaking inside. They are wondering when Sherman will be back, they miss him already. Realizing what has happened, Q and Ragnvaldr rush to the chapel. Mark, meanwhile, starts a fire and Caramon alerts the women to the fire, sending them running the chapel as well.
At the church, Q finds Sherman speaking from the pulpit, badly. He attempts to creep to the stand to stop him, but someone calls him out and Daniel bars his path, Matthias saying he asked Sherman to speak. Ragnvaldr breaks into plan B, crashing through the doors and up the center aisle. He manages to shrug off the first several rows of worshippers trying to stop him, but is brought down by a few near the front.
With Daniel slowing him down, Q resigns himself to make an escape, but the crowd has already gathered in behind him and he can’t break free. On Sherman’s orders, they grab him as well to keep him nearby until they come to like him. The women arrive, warning of the fire. Everyone not needed to hold Ragnvaldr and Q down rushes out to deal with the manor fire and a second fire in a nearby house.
With the chapel mostly emptied, Caramon and Mark go in looking for their companions. They find Matthias, Daniel, and a few lumberjacks, but no sign of the others. They decide to pretend to be enamored with Sherman like everyone else and wanting to see him. Matthias refuses them, instead instructing them to return to Citadel and get the gnomish map from his safe.
In the office behind the pulpit, Q overhears them talking about the map and questions Sherman about it, learning that some gnomes had supplied him with a potion to make everyone love him, but that they were threatening to cut him off if he didn’t get the map for them.
Meanwhile, Caramon and Mark convince Matthias that before they go they should see Sherman one more time. Matthias agrees and opens the office door to let them go see Sherman. He’s in the office with Q and Ragnvaldr bound and five lumberjacks on guard. Mark approaches to embrace Sherman and successfully hides his dagger, stabbing Sherman in the back. As a brawl breaks out, Caramon closes and locks the door.
Q has cut his bonds secretly and cuts Ragnvaldr free as well. They quickly subdue the unarmed amateurs in the office with them, attempting to imitate Sherman’s voice to alay Matthias’s suspicions with the crashing noise. They bind any open wounds on Sherman and his guards and escape through a window, hurrying to the tree line with Sherman with them. Mark, having become enamored with Sherman, has to be incapacitated as well.
Once in the woods, they interrogate Sherman about a cure to his potion and learn it should wear off, but that the people will experience withdrawal. To prevent more of them falling prey, they move Sherman into the woods away from their camp and leave him bound in a tree.
During the night, sad and sickly people wander the woods looking for Sherman, but return unsuccessful. By morning, Mark is looking pretty bad off, but his love of Sherman is wearing off.
Bringing Sherman his breakfast, Q learns that his potion has worn off and so he returns him to camp. Sherman offers to help them meet his gnomish contact in exchange for his freedom, but Q can’t promise that without speaking to Matthias. They move their camp, making no fire for the day, and by evening Mark has fully recovered from the potion’s effects, but not the withdrawal pain. With no people searching for them during the day, they assume the villagers must be pretty bad off.
Friday morning, Q heads into the village and finds Matthias caring for the others, still weakly pining for Sherman. They agree that Sherman isn’t a threat and that it’s worth keeping him free to try to get the Ar-a-mach agent looking for the map. With Q there, Matthias leaves the village in his care and goes to Citadel to bring help. Q, meanwhile, finds the remaining potion in Sherman’s room. When he has found it, the others come into the village with Sherman in tow. The village folk greet him joyfully and under threat from Q of destroying the potion, he tells them everything is fine.
Soon, Citadel help arrives and people of Kite recover. Sherman, knowing he will be hated in Kite, requests a position at the quarry near Citadel and is allowed it. With the information he gives them, they try to make his drop with a fake map. Mark, disguised as best they can to be a dwarf, goes into the hollow oak to meet Sherman’s supplier. He waits a little and hears a voice from above. It comes from a mouth in the tree accompanied by an ear and an eye. It isn’t convinced and realizes Mark isn’t Sherman. Q stabs through the outside of the tree where he hears the voice calling Mark out. There is a yelp of pain and the mouth, ear, and eye disappear.
This session had a great Social Pacing peak. When Q was arguing with Sherman, telling him he hated everyone, the potion wouldn’t make him like him, I said in Sherman’s nasally voice “oh, you’ll come to like me once you get to know me, everyone does. Make a Will check.” I think calling for social checks in the character’s voice might end up being a tool for Social Pacing I come back to often.
The Haven campaign is a game I play pretty much weekly with some of the teenagers in the area. It’s a Jazz Band, meaning the party changes based on who comes and the adventure they plan to go on. This week, the low level adventurer stumbles across something I’ve been thinking about doing for some time. I’m glad we had to do low levels this week.