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Kingmaker: Stolen Land, Session 7, Part 2

December 30, 2013

ThylacineAttack of the extinct carnivorous marsupial! Now that’s a phrase you don’t hear very often.

After spending over a week of R&R in the Sootscales’ cave, the explorers were ready to get back to exploring. And to eat something other than mushrooms and cave lizards. So one fine morning, they hiked south to the nearby Shrike river and then started exploring upstream. This led to an little conundrum for me. On the map, the river runs through the middle of the hex and there’s no crossing. And the party was not interested in trying to swim across. So I ruled that they could only explore the half of the hex that they could reach, and would have to find a crossing and come back to explore the rest. I wanted the crossings to matter to the players, and also to Stolen Land 7bmake their skill choices matter (if, for example, one of them was a strong swimmer). But it occurred to me later that the hex is just an arbitrary space; nothing within the game world requires the PCs to draw their map such that they need to explore both sides of the river. In that sense, it led to some odd metagame decisions (to fully explore the hex and get the XP) that might not have been made by the actual characters.

In any case, they headed upstream and eventually hit the burned out remains of Nettles’ Crossing. All that remained of Nettles’ enterprise was a thick rope that crossed the river, a sign, and a bell. Despite the fact that there was obviously nothing here, the group quickly decided to ring the bell anyway, and to their horror, Nettles’ water-logged corpse dragged itself out of the river. “Vengeance!” croaked the water-logged corpse, as it retrieved its ranseur from the water and started walking over the water itself to reach the group. “Throw the Stag Lord’s body into the river,” it called out, “that I may look upon his death, or join me instead…” As it advanced along the river, it repeated its words, again and again, as the party remained rooted to the spot. Only when Nettles’ body began to drag itself out of the river and onto land did they start to back up… save for Salar, the halfling ranger, who was not afraid! (he did make his Will save for the fear… and the Fort save for the stench as well)

I’m not really sure what Salar’s player was going for – he said something about wanting to show the undead revenant that he was a friend – but Nettles was not interested in anything but vengeance! Soon the plucky little halfling backed off and they all promised to deliver the Stag Lord’s body, which caused Nettles to return to his watery grave.

Stolen Land 7c

After that, they were a bit wary, but eventually Salar and Satampra the rogue decided to shimmy across the river on the rope that Nettles once used to guide his ferry. They made it across without incident, and in the dying light of the day, poked through the remnants of Nettles’ shack, finding the burned bones of his four hounds. Salar and Satampra didn’t want to cross back in the dark, and so the PCs slept in two separate camps on either side of the Shrike river.

Which, naturally, was the perfect time to roll a random encounter! Mestinous the elven wizard was on watch on the west bank when he spotted a four-legged beast sniffing around the edges of their camp. He woke up everyone on his side, and Iofur the druid identified the creature as a thylacine, or a Tasmanian tiger as it was known in our world (before it died out). Iofur tried to calm the marsupial with his wild empathy, only to roll so abysmally that he actually enrages it! (this happens again in the next session – I hope it becomes a running theme) It leapt forward to snap at Iofur, but it is soon distracted by pain as Mestinous pelted it with magic. The thylacine then lunged at Mestinous, getting in a good bite before it realized that it was outnumbered and outmatched. The beast attempted to flee, but was brought down before it could escape.

Stolen Land 7d

The next several days were uneventful, as the split group mapped out both banks of the Shrike. When they reached the point where the Shrike met the Thorn river, they then joined back up and started exploring up the west bank of the Thorn. They made a good bit of progress before they discovered the rickety bridge spanning the river at a point where water rushed through a 20-foot deep gulch. The bridge was fashioned out of rope and wooden planks, but many of the planks were gone, the rope was frayed, and the whole edifice was being blown about by the wind. Nevertheless, Salar crossed safely, and Satampra followed. No one else was enough of a daredevil to try. 

Stolen Land 7eAnd so the human and halfling team once again started exploring on their own. The rest of the group finishes mapping out the west side of the river, while the daredevil duo scouted the east side. That night, the PCs once again made two separate camps, and once again, I rolled a random encounter – a giant whiptail centipede! This same type of creature had nearly caused a TPK down in the mite hive, and now it was up against only two characters – a sword-and-board halfling ranger and a human rogue, neither one a combat machine. I used the regular whiptail write-up instead of the advanced stats from the 6-player conversion, just to give them a fighting chance. I also gave them plenty of space to run away. Salar spotted the creature slithering through the brush while it was still a good distance away, saw that it was heading towards their camp, and quickly woke Satampra. The two tried to sneak away from the creature, but Satampra knocked his tent over as he was trying to exit it quietly. The noise caught the whiptail’s attention, and the race was on!

The whiptail centipede has a speed of 40, so technically they had no chance of escaping it, not unless they could reach a hiding spot within a round or two. And if it did catch either of them, that character would be toast – a possibility that I am open to, but I wanted to give them at least a fighting chance. Their first idea was to run for the river rather than look for a hidey-hole, so I rolled to determine how far away from it their campsite was. Satampra could reach the river in a couple of rounds at a flat-out run, while Salar (with his 20′ speed) would need another round. I let them run (x4 speed), while the centipede double-timed it, reasoning that the hungry creature was hoping to get in a charge if it got close enough. Conveniently, that meant that it was moving at the same speed as Salar and couldn’t actually catch him. But the players didn’t know that! They had an exciting race to the river’s edge and dived into the water. The centipede stayed on them, but didn’t enter the water itself. Instead it slithered along the side of the gulch that the river was running through, still chasing them as the current pulled them downstream. Eventually, the centipede gave up, and they dragged themselves from the water on the opposite side. Wet and weary, they trudged back to the rickety bridge and then hiked back to their campsite. They got there shortly before dawn, exhausted but still alive.

Next: ambush!

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