The Haven real-time campaign involves a lot of messaging and weekly document updates that aren’t necessarily reflected in the play reports. For example, you might have been confused recently to learn that Verdis was campaigning to be elected Governor of the Vale, while the players and I have been discussing the issues and how the election should be run since I told them it was coming in mid-October from a labor recovery room. You, dear reader, are not privy to these discussion or weekly updates away from the table. Posts like this serve to both catch you up on what’s happening behind the scenes and to help the players remember the highlights and connect the dots.
Where to begin?
Randall’s grove has seen significant changes in the last six months. His grove grants him the ability to awaken non-sentient creatures and while he usually uses it on tree to keep vigil in the demesne, he has also awakened an ogre who calls himself Gerald and now researches alchemy beside Randall at the grove and sometimes accompanies him on journeys. A band of wild ponies joined him in the grove, considering him with nearly godlike regard. He has awakened one of these to be a leader of the ponies in battle.
Randall has also added a fiery phoenix flying about the grove by risking himself to free it from a gnomish helmet to which it has been bound for thousands of years. The phoenix Logi isn’t the only new flyer in the grove, as he has also added wings to his fox companion, Oliver.
The Verge of War
Not far from Randall’s Grove and within the lands he watches over, the Union of Schek (orcs and goblins) and the West Hill March nearly went to war. While Randall made efforts to pacify the forces on both sides, insisting that his land was one of peace, both sides only wished to use him to their advantage. He did however convince certain kobolds who were using the absence of soldiers sent to the front to revolt that rather than doomed revolution, they should escape the West Hill March and join the Wandering Steppe kobolds (more on them later) in Rilindje.
Verdis was more successful at ending the war. Contacting both sides, he learned that Ellizari would withdraw if the orcs did, but that Dragon Empire forces were in her garrison, being held to keep them from sending a message back to the Dragon Empire itself to bring more forces (she doesn’t like being meddled with, even by the Dragon Emperor). She couldn’t release them or draw down her forces without the pretense that she had triumphed over the Union of Schek at the wall they had built across the road.
Verdis had already been talking with the Union of Schek commander about not harassing his kobold charges in Rilindje, and so he returned with his forces to the wall and convinced the commander to let him take up the defenses with his forces (more on them later), explaining that Ellizari had agreed to stand if he did. The orcs withdrew, willing to let Verdis bear the attack if it came. After Verdis’ kobold soldiers rushed and apparently captured the defenses (his human and dwarf forces playing the defense), the Dragon Empire garrison was satisfied that Ellizari had the situation in hand and the forces could be drawn down safely.
What’s Rovert Been Up To?
Rovert and his diplomats from both sides of the war were helpful in opening communication channels for Verdis to avoid the war, but in most ways he has separated from the Vale, though his magical communication mirrors to connect him to Verdis and Matthias (more on them later, should I have done this chronologically?).
Away in his tower, he has been conducting research, now aided by a skilled alchemist he recruited at the tourney. He has also been trying to learn to ride his nightmare (more on it later) and has been collecting undead dragons, which he finds to be useful transport in the meantime.
He has upgraded his tower almost fully with the dedicated efforts of one of the Vale construction crews and recently hired another to begin work on a school of magic he hopes will provide income to fund still larger projects.
And That Jacob Pharoe Guy?
Jacob Pharoe and his adventurers have established a Guild Hall up river from Iron Fields. They are making leaps and bounds taming that land with roads, towers, and toll bridges. They sell their services, including to Rovert to map his vast and wild demesne.
Alright, I Guess We Can Get Around to the Wandering Steppe
The dedicated reader, if they exist, may recall when the Wandering Steppe was captured. It was an elven flying estate inhabited by kobolds who worshiped the generations-old dragon, Pogromii, on whom their ancestors had arrived at the flying island. Finally getting the chance to fly up to the island and capture it was a huge development, not only because it has been haunting them for years as they saw it in the distance and it sometimes passed nearby, but because of what would come next.
Verdis allowed the kobolds living on the island to stay at his keep in Confluence while they harvested their crop on the island, and when they were done, 20 joined Verdis’ garrison as Pogromii’s Folly and Pogromii’s Shame, adding themselves to Verdis’ Prickly Bois and Teran’s Foe-Hunters. Most of the others formed the village Rilindje to the north of Confluence, so some few departed for the West Hill March to be with their own people.
Verdis then hired Bill (an archaeologist) to learn how to navigate the flying island. Just getting it parked at Prickly Keep was an ordeal, but several test flights later, he was prepared to come get them at Odsev Mirror Factory to help them transport the significant booty obtained in that place (including both valuable raw materials and a whole bunch of magic mirrors that have changed communication in the Vale).
More on Odsev
Of course, Odsev deserves at least a short section. While there, they signed a blood contract that their souls were forfeit if they broke a soul mirror. Verdis and Rovert went on to break four such mirrors, not knowing what they were. After all had been transported back the Vale and the grace period on the contract was apparently up, someone (horned and of evil demeanor) appeared in Prickly Keep where they were dividing the loot to inform them they had been sent to debt collection and if they were not going to allow them to come collect in the morning, then they would do so by force.
Needless to say, Verdis and Rovert resisted. The Battle and Prickly Keep was the first test of Verdis’ soldiers and though they suffered no losses, Verdis was sick that his actions had brought danger to the Vale. This battle is where Rovert obtained his nightmare, and Dohasan has been working to get it suited to accepting Rovert ever since.
And What About Ghost Keep?
While we have mentioned Verdis’ growing forces (the Prickly Bois continue to grow) he has still another significant body of soldiers garrisoned at Ghost Keep. Satyr converts had built a village around Ghost Keep in March, but Verdis started its restoration in July. By the time the restoration finished, he had attracted a Nekolyn monk retainer, a satyr enchanter, a score of dwarven warriors, and three score satyr skirmishers to his cause.
Calls for Matthias to step down (mostly by those sympathetic to Hope) led to the Vale’s first gubernatorial election. Matthias ended up stepping down and endorsing Verdis, who would go on to win convincingly, despite the Rilindje kobolds only being counted for half a vote each (because they had lived in the Vale for the harvest but not for the planting of this year). It certainly could have been closer, but between stopping the war and the high coming off of the tournament, Verdis was well positioned to win it. His election attracted a gnomish sage to counsel him in establishing his government and his foreign relations.
Stephen has been largely focused on trying to find a place for the ratfolk in Wraecliff’s demesne, who are feeling pressure as West Hill March, Rovert, and Wraecliff all press in on them. His one contact has become more scarce and he hasn’t been able to find a safe place for them.
He also investigated the death of Xander in his bed in Citadel House, but the case has gone cold with no other murders since.
It feels as though I must be missing quite a lot. It has been a long time, but I think this covers the big stuff. In about a month, we will probably be performing a 5 year skip in the timeline to let some macro stuff happen, so this is a good time to sweep the cutting floor in preparation for that.