So, my first night at the Saturday night social game at GoodGames in Lanyon. There were enough players for three games, which was great. Thye DMs organised things by allowing the players – in character – to chose the game. The setup is: our characters have decided to form a guild of adventurers in some town. The DMs offer games by playing out people with job offers coming to the guild – knocking on the imaginary front door, a bit of “yea verily good sirs” and all that. It worked really well.
Play at the table I chose was great – we kept things moving, which is my main thing. We did bog down a bit with respect to the horses … but that’s actually ok, because it reflects the fact that the decision to bring mounts made things heavier going for our characters: it wasn’t a rules-lawyering marathon at the table.
I generated a LG 2nd-level Dragonborn warlord on the night, as I have not played one before, and I am comfortable in the support caster role. He’ll take up the tale – although there may be the odd wrong bit owing to my not being 100% up on the campaign setting. I wrote this late at night, so pleas keep the snickering to a minimum. I’m not going to rewrite it now.
I, Baharash, write these words, for we are newly formed and although it is perhaps not my place to pen chronicle, who else to do it if I do not? But perhaps I should start at the beginning.
My discharge had arrived, and I took it and my severance gladly. One hundred gold! Wealth indeed, but fairly earned, I think. I could stay another term and study more of war, but these few years have taught me that I prefer small-unit tactics, and the challenges of working with specialists. So off to find a group to join, to win coin and perhaps renown. Soldiering is my trade – with the world so full of danger, there is no shame accepting coin for an honest day’s work at sword.
The Green Crane is just lately formed, so new that there is still discussion about how we shall constitute ourselves. What work would we accept? On what terms? How should loot be divided? At meeting I spoke my piece. Some there are purely mercenaries, and some desire to serve the kingdom. As for me, I hold a middle view: I will not countenance being part of illegal activities; but if my main desire were to serve the kingdom – why – I would still be in the army. For now then, a truce: we are not specifically dedicated to the kingdom, but will seek honourable employment. Even the mercenary ones who I judge would be prepared to step on the wrong side of the law agree that it would be foolish do so so for now.
As for money – we have reached a tentative agreement: of rewards offered to the guild for work, half will go to the guild, half to whom accepts the commission. From this, the guild shall pay rent and board, some expenses (although I fear this was a little vague – resurrection was mentioned), and shall purchase incidental loot if loot is taken for which those who took it have no use. By this device, we shall spare ourselves usury and the greed of merchantmen. One day, our guild will be well stocked with necessities and prepared for any work, able to lend equipment when our members are unable to equip themselves.
It is early days – and who knows how long our agreement will last? But for now, there is accord.
That afternoon, we were offered a commission. The churches of our town wished us to convey an embassy of the church of the Silver Flame from a monastery in the mountains to the town, and thence to show them the manifold wonders of our fair habitation – by which they meant that we should avoid the poor quarter and the brothels. A simple job – but rather more to it than met the eye.
The church of the Silver Flame – to be fully frank – is not as well liked or well regarded as it perhaps might be. It was plain that the good churchmen of our town did not wish to deal with this embassy any more than strictly necessary, forall the idea of coopererative ties between the churches and kingdoms of this region is obviously a good idea. Our task was not merely to convey this embassy in safety, but to take the whole distasteful matter off the hands of our hardworking local clerics.
Four or five of us would suffice for this commision. I volunteered immediately, partly because I leapt at the first chance to make my place among my new comrades, partly because I prefer working with a smaller group, and partly because better I than some of the less couth (though no doubt able) members of our new-formed guild.
And here I must make an admission – my memory for names is appalling beyond telling. And my ability to distinguish between the races of the smooth-skins even worse. We numbered a priest – an obvious necessity for dealing with a church envoy, a warrior of spell and sword, and an axeman. The axeman wears armour of rough hide, but I supposed it was good that one of us was obviously a ready fighter, so I kept my peace. At two hours after dawn we were to present ourselves at the church. During the night, another commission was offered, and also I believe there were issues concerning our building, but I did not concern myself with these – another can chronicle them.
Next morning, we presented ourselves. The churchmen gave us tokens of our status as envoys – tabards bearing insignia of the twelve, and I think papers or letters for the priest. We made our preparations – purchasing tents and hiring horses for the week, one each and two extra. I intend that the guild should purchase the tents and reimburse us the hire of the horses Petty, perhaps, but as well to begin as we mean to continue. These horses were to prove a challenge, yet in the end indispensable, for we arrived at our destination in the nick of time – although again I jump ahead of the story.
We traveled without incident to a town in the mountains, from where a path led upwards to the monastery where we were to meet the envoy. Enquiring in the town, we learned worryingly little of this enclave. While once the monks regularly (if infrequently) visited the town to trade, in recent years they had not been seen or heard of at all. But the path into the mountains was plain enough. At first. By all accounts, we should be at the monastery in a day. Or perhaps two.
The path upward was difficult and narrow, a track cut into the side of the mountain, a sheer drop below us and above us. We mostly rode single file, and the drop below us was fearsome – I confess, I am no horseman. But this news – that the monastery had not been heard from for years – concerned us greatly, and so we rode for speed, although our hide-clad axeman proved his worth in spotting a particularly treacherous section through which we led the horses. Thus, towards the end of the day, we rounded a corner and finally met with – nothing! This road that had been cut into the mountain simply stopped dead. The roadwork had come to an end, for no reason we could determine.
What to do? Evening was coming. The nearest safe place to overnight – a wider spot in the path – was a considerable distance back. Between us and there was a rockfall, with possibly some sort of cave behind it, but staying there – though out of the weather (there is still some snow in the mountains) – could be fatally foolish. But – why make the choice now? We would head back, investigate the rockfall and cave as quick as we may, and if we were not perfectly sure it was safe we would continue back to the widening of the path.
Briefly investigating the rockfall, we saw something metallic underneath it. But we were not able to confirm that the place was safe, and whatever was underneath the rocks would wait until morning. So we went back further to the relatively safe place and made camp. Our cleric performed a ritual to summon local nature sprites to build our camp. These little beings of rock an mountain made all secure, more so than we could have done for ourselves. We allocated watch (deeming it wise that our cleric should be fully rested the morrow, better to meet the envoy) and broke camp at daybreak.
And so back to the rockfall, and the mysterious metallic glint. The rockfall lay in front of a cave, and it transpired that an ambush had been set from above – by shifters, no less. The glint of metal proved to be an insignia of the silver flame! But the body was years old, so too the tracks above. We uncovered the body, and all became plain – our swordmage explained the tale. Some years ago, the church of the Silver Flame made holy war on all lycanthropes and shifter kind. This body was undoubtedly the body of St Gareth, or Garran (curse my memory for names!). A hero of the time, but perhaps not so now, for the church no longer seeks eradication of shifter kind, and some memories are best left forgotten. Nevertheless, we recovered an insignia of some kind, and a sword which our swordmage knew to be magical. As our axeman prefers his axes, the booty fell to the swordmage, who meditated over it for a time and swore to it a swordmage’s oaths.
The cleric wished to say the ritual of Gentle Repose over the body, and so we dug it out og the rubble. In the process of uncovering it, we acquired some idea of the cave behind it – a sandstone cave of fair size, easily able to accommodate our horses. But we were left with a dilemma – how to get to this monastery? Wander over the mountains? On an impulse, we elected to investigate the cave further. A little way in, we saw plain signs of stonework, and wagon-ruts in the floor. The mystery of the unfinished road was explained: the road builders had oped to tunnel through the soft sandstone at this point. This was our path. Still though: why had the monks not come to town? Why had they not simply cleared the rockfall as we had done? We decided to tether the horses and follow the cave – scouting out the route.
It was then that we were attacked.
Foul undead flung stones at us from a ledge above, while three others attacked us hand to-to-hand. But my comrades were more than a match for them – our cleric rebuking the animating evil in them and downing more than half their number in a single moment. The rest were swiftly dealt with. It seemed, on investigation, that these were Sir Gareth’s (or St Gareth’s) war party – each bore a sliver flame pin. A wicked fate for devotees of the silver flame, to come back as undead. We had done them a service.
There was nothing more in the tunnel. The far end was blocked, but it was not difficult to unblock it. And so to the monastery, our journey near its end. Or halfway point, at least – there was the trip back to consider. No abandoned keep, this – the fields around well-kept. But no sign of keepers. Where were the monks? We sighted the temple – in flames! Silver flames! It was being assaulted by at least three small bands of shifters, the flames being a divine defence mounted against the attack. We spent precious moments to secure our horses (not wishing to burden our guild with the expense of replacing them – this was, after all, merely a job) and were spotted by the band of shifters at the front of the building.
We joined battle. Our axeman prefers to charge into battle, making cunning use of momentum – his charges are no mere show or ill-conceived indiscipline, but calculated tactics. Seeing the swordmage at battle was an education also, for I have not fought with one before. He works best on groups and tight knots of enemies – his power spitting fire at them. From behind, our cleric called down holy fire on the enemy, his power also restoring and sustaining us.
Neverthless, our foe were no near-mindless undead. One bore a shield and protected his companions, one led and rallied them, one was a ranged attacker who stood off away and harried us, and that fourth was a dangerous hand-to-hand opponent. Nevertheless, we prevailed. But what of the temple? It was wreathed in silver flame – some sort of protective enchantment. To the left down the side of the building I saw a skirmish group of shifters breach this enchantment and enter. I reasoned that if they could pass the flames at that point then we also might, and so – carried away in the heat of battle – I blundered. I cried “follow me!” and ran at them.
The test of a leader, of course, is to look behind you and see who is following. It seems I am no leader. I arrived at the breach alone. The shifters had smeared something on the walls at that point, somehow holding back the silver fire, but that does not really matter. I had run ahead of my comrades, out of sheer carelessness and foolish bravado. My life was forfeit.
But the platinum one is forgiving. The interior of the building – a church, after all – was one large space. My comrades came through the front door, having passed the flame somehow, and engaged the enemy. We fought, and prevailed, but we all were about done. Dire as things were, nevertheless we caught our breath for a few minutes, risking all to the chance that the skirmish group on the right of the building would take a few moments longer. I say risk – the truth is that we had no choice. Our cleric tended us, we caught our breath. We could not have gone on.
With a sound like a sword being quenched by the blacksmith, the third skirmish group – the one at the right of the building – entered the main part of the church. We engaged them, and fought. Curse me a thousand times for a fool – two of them ran down a corridor while we fought another three and their leader. I should have seen – but was so engaged in the combat right before me that I did not – that the envoy whom we had been sent to fetch fought for her life against those two. Almost too late, our cleric saw them, and her. We ran past the shifters who – so obviously now – were merely delaying us while their brothers carried out the real mission. Our sword-mage teleported – teleported! – in to defend her, our axeman charged, and soon all the enemy were slain saving only their leader. He abandoned all defense and with a last effort charged down the short corridor. We struck him as he passed, but failed to down him, and he with one last effort he swung his axe at the envoy and …
Did not quite manage to slay her. In a few moments we had killed him, and all was suddenly quiet.
I have written enough. I will not detail how we hitched our two extra horse to her odd little chariot and brought her at last into town, or how shabbily she was treated by our local godmen when she arrived. We took care to mention the name of our guild a time or two – perhaps that seed will bear fruit. She rewarded us with a silver flame potion each, whose power is like the prayer of light curation. She took Sir Garrick’s pendant from us, but left the sword with our swordmage – charging only that he efface the silver flame insignia on it, as the sword is a memory of an unhappy time. Our axeman keeps the axe of the fallen shifter leader, and I expect he will put it to good use.
It transpired that one of those who accepted another commission was slain, and so by our agreement we would pay for his resurrection. There was some grumbling, and I confess the unworthy thought occurred to me, that it seemed unfair that the money I had just earned should be spent so. A humbling moment, to see that I so soon would consider tossing aside my solemn oaths of comradeship, for money. I must temper my judgment of others who have their own moment of weakness and ingenerosity.
One thing only remains to tell – for the envoy charged us that those insignia which we retrieved from St Geralds’s war party not be sold. I have mine here before me as I write this. Perhaps it might not be the best notion to keep such insignia, considering how here the church of the silver flame is regarded. Nevertheless I will treasure my memento of this, my first sally for the guild of the Green Crane.