Kingmaker – a new hope

Farewell, Switch. You are now an NPC, if Dave decides that family Verdant wants to dabble in the Dark Arts. Rather than the usual monument, Jope has named the forest to the NE of Fort Tuskwater “Verdant Wood”, or wilderness, or something. I regret mainly that I never got to level 12, never got to roll 27d6+30 on a scorching ray (3 touch attacks 4d6, 5d6 sneak attack each, 2 points per sneak attack die from the sniper goggles. Second level spell :O ), never got to drop a 5th level spell. She would have rocked. I can empty my dice-bag of d6s – won’t need them now.

I have built my new character. 20 point buy, rather than 25 – a penalty of dying. Cramps my style a little. But there you go – it’s all game. Bard with the Archaeologist option. Chrarisma/Dex build. Actually a better rogue than a rogue, but without sneak attack. Seriously useless in a fight, except as a buffing caster. But that’s what the party needs, so cool. The “take 20 twice a day” knowledge check make it easy for the DM to do exposition. And he has a decent UMD.

I have tricked him out with AC boosting magic items. Bards can use light armour and sheilds with no spell failure chance, so +3 shield and +3 mithril chain. Amulet of natural armour, ring ‘o deflection, dodge feat. His AC is 33.

A halfling. I imagine him as a half-sized Harrison Ford. His name, his name is Zack Jackson.

Perhaps I should let him tell his own story. I’m sorry that the quality of his writing is not really up to academic standards. But hey – it’s fantasy. These are field notes that he’ll polish later.

My name is Zack Jackson. Explorer. Adventurer. It was I who recovered the lost writings of the Xeth from the barrows of Artemis. I who first saw, for the first time in a mortal age, the ruins of Agrippa. I have also loved several women, but this is not that kind of memoir.

And it is I, Zack Jackson, who am currently looking for a patron and hopefully tenure. Somewhere with a decent library and a relaxed attitude to mud on the carpet. And so, Freedonia.

Freedonia! The very name! They have reclaimed the so-called “stolen lands”, made peace with the Nomen centaurs, conquered vast stretches of territory. Formerly inaccessible mountains are now a stone’s throw away, the fabled “Lake Silverstep” is (perhaps a little sadly) a tourist resort. The possibilities for academic research are endless. And this lord, Duke Jope – they say that after defeating the Stag Lord, the first thing he built was a castle, and the second a library. He recovered the cyclopean tablets from the lich tombs – invaluable artifacts which will keep academia busy for decades.

My kind of place.

His Grace is not the sort to finance purely archeological expeditions, but it hardly matters. He is engaged in extending his lands, and cannot help but encounter things of interest as he does. He seems pleased to have along someone with a bit of historical and geographic knowledge, and so I have finagled an invitation to his various military and acquisitional excursions.

It should be productive. I will almost certainly be fun. And there’s definitely a paper or two in it.

12-14-11. Field Notes. Lake Hooktongue.

While His Grace attended to affairs of state, certain of us organised an expedition to clear lands around Lake Hooktongue for purposes of integrating Fort Drellev more closely into the duchy. Our expedition was myself, General Rainor – an outdoorsman and archer, and Klael – a fighter of one of the local religious orders.

We commenced west of Tatselford, northwest and counter-clockwise about the lake. The terrain was boggy and difficult.

At the northern extremity of the lake, we were subect to an abortive ambush by Boggards. Boggards are frog-like humanoids, well suited to wetlands environments. Little is known of boggard society, other than that it appears to be tribal and small-scale. Little also is known of their biology: whether they are frogs that have become humanoid, or humanoids that have become froglike.

They were organised enough to set up an ambush. They had put a snag (logs, branches) across one of the major streams draining into the Hooktongue, arranging matters to make the snag look like a viable causeway. They also attempted to use the terrain, aware that we would likely find the going difficult in a swamp. However, Klael’s mount is fitted with Horseshoes of the Zephyr, and our Archer does not require mobility.

Examination of the barrier demonstrated evidence of tool use, not to mention the fact that they were swinging clubs and flinging spears. Overall, they demonstrated a level of sophistication usual for savage humanoid tribes.

TODO: secure physical samples, particularly of the heart. Amphibian hearts have three chambers, mammalian and humanoid hearts have four, so that should settle the question – there’s a monograph right there. Also secure skulls. Of little real interest, but it gives the taxidermists something to do and they look cool in a display case. Also the measurements pad out a paper nicely. Send wax casts to Dr Maskin – I owe him a favour, and he’s a keen phrenologist. He’ll want a cast of the inside of the skulls. Male and female, juvenile and adult. Not entirely sure how to sex. Cloacæ, or something more mammalian?

12-14-11. Field Notes. Lake Hooktongue.

We continued around the shore of the lake to Fort Drellev. On the western shore, we encountered an extremely odd creature, or group of creatures, which snared their prey by imitating sounds. Our religious fighter was completely taken in and ran off while on watch to deal with them. We were roused by the woodsman’s wolf companion. I moved us to the site of the battle, but by the time we arrived the creatures were killed.

Dimension door. Two castings buys you a quarter mile of movement in the space of two rounds. Nice of Klael to run off and leave everyone undefended. Grr.

I forget what the things actually were. And I’m drunk. So you will have to pretend that Zack Jackson said something faux scholarly about them.

After this, we were joined by His Grace and continued on to Fort Drellev.

Reprovisioned, we explored the southern border of the Hooktongue. At the southernmost extent of the lake we discovered a set of crude piers, a small wharf which had been camouflaged. We were not able to uncover who built them, or why they were hidden.

On the following day, we encountered an oddity. An organised party of boggards were heading towards a depression in the ground. I and the woodsman investigated.

Rolled a 20 for stealth. +10, for being invisible and moving. Plus dex, skills, and size bonus came to 52.

A few of the boggards – I believe the younger warriors – proceeded into the bowl of the depression, which seemed to be a small hot mud caldera. The mud formed itself into semiformed figures which then attacked. I am guessing some sort of earth elemental.

The boggards were not faring well against the elementals. I decided at this stage to attempt to make peaceful contact with the more senior of the troupe, who had not entered the caldera. I used haste in the warriors, reasoning that this would a) demonstrate our bona fides and b) even up the fight so that there would be fewer of each should we be forced to attack.

I approached the chief, hands raised, but he elected to initiate hostilities. I attempted a Share Language on him, but he fought off the effect of the enchantment. At about this time the noisier members of our party, who had circled around the back, made their appearance. As the attempt to parley with the chief had come to nothing, His Grace elected to skewer him. He, the knight, and the woodsman made short work of the other boggards, and somewhat less short – but still successful – work of the elementals.

I believe we may take our earlier questions – who built the pier and why was it camouflaged – as answered. The boggards appear to have built it, and it was camouflaged as an eminently sensible precaution against the civilised races. Then again – why would boggards, who are aquatic, need a pier?

With respect to the caldera, if it is not in the habit of spawning elementals on a regular basis (that is, if those present were “left over” from a previous event), then His Grace may choose to make a health spa of it, something of a sister to Silverstep spa. “Hooktongue mud springs and wetlands eco-tours”, perhaps. Any name would do, provided the word “swamp” is avoided. The traffic would advantage the nearest large settlement – Fort Drellev – considerably.

As to the Boggards, our woodsman believes that the troupe came from the north, from the shores of the hooktongue (we were somewhat inland). His Grace has decided that we proceed there, and either make peaceful contact or eliminate them as a possible military threat.

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