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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 9, Part 2

September 11, 2014

Room 101

spiderman-stegronWhile most of the party whiled away idle days in the forest, Travaris the cleric and Salar the halfling ranger spent their time being tortured by the lizardfolk for the pleasure of Stisshak, an advanced will-o-wisp posing as an ancestor spirit. The two captives drifted in and out of consciousness, only dimly perceiving all of the activity going on in the village outside. Each day, Sratok the druid would come into their hut and pray for the ancestor to appear, and I rolled percentile to see if the wisp was present or not. It was present for the first few days, obviously pleased to have so much fear to feed on. When the wisp would reveal itself as a floating glowing skull, the lizardfolk would rouse the prisoners by force-feeding them goodberries (taken from Salar’s possessions) and then whip them with canes until they were bloody and broken.

Early on, Travaris tried to use channel energy to heal himself and the halfling, but either the wisp or a guard would notice and zap or beat him unconscious again.

My plan for the session involved Salar probably wiggling free from his bonds, and either engineering an escape now, or waiting until the others attacked before throwing off his ropes. However, Salar’s player was absent for the first half of the session. This was a bit of a shame, as Salar has the Freedom Fighter trait, and he has been trying to use that trait bonus for the entire campaign now, with no luck. So I had to find something for Travaris’ player to do, instead, while the others camped out and planed their spell selections.

What I came up with was having Sratok, the lizarfolk druid, talk to him (via Salar’s translations). I thought this would be a good way to let the players know a little bit about the bigger picture. Sratok came to Travaris the day she sent off her animal messenger, and told him that the party’s attack had prompted them to accept an alliance with one “Hargulka.” Travaris took note of that, and floated the idea of paying a ransom for his & Salar’s release. But Sratok wasn’t interested. After all, mammals can’t be trusted. The two also debated their perceptions of just what had happened to start the battle; Travaris felt they were unjustly attacked, while the druid said that they were trespassing and were warned to leave.

The next day, Sratok mentioned that the “river witch” was coming. Travaris repeatedly pleaded for peace between the two communities, but Sratok dismissed the idea. The humans had invaded their territory and killed her tribefolk. They were mammals, and could not be trusted. Her people just wanted to be left alone, but if there was to be war, they would not shrink from it.

The following day, Stisshak was absent and so there was no torture. Later that same day, Mamuna the river witch arrived, and paid a visit to the prisoners. She was man-sized, with warty bluish-green skin, long scraggly grey-green hair, and wore a soggy black veil that hid her face. This was to protect the lizardfolk, as the visage of a river hag is so horrifying that it does Strength damage. She cackled when she spied the naked & bound captives. “So, these are the brave rulers of Caerelia! I can’t say I’m impressed!” She thanked Travaris and Salar for attacking the lizardfolk, and thus pushing them into accepting an alliance. She also said that she would have the king execute them, for they were too dangerous to live.

I Am Altering the Deal…

Mamuna cackled some more and left to treat with King Vesket. Sratok lingered for a moment, perhaps wondering what she had gotten the tribe into. They were not supposed to kill the humans – they had been gifts to Stisshak, and to take them away from the ancestor would be wrong. Travaris sensed the opening and called out (to be echoed by Salar in draconic), “This won’t end well! You know this is a mistake!”

Sratok marched right up to the bound humans and demanded that they explain. Travaris once again made the case for peace: release the two of them, take all of their equipment as a ransom payment, and the humans would leave them alone. The druid wondered if the cleric was writing checks that his desperate butt could not cash, but he assured her that his word was good. Sratok wavered… and I had Travaris roll a Diplomacy check. And he rolled a suitably high number.

What’s sort of interesting about all of this, to me anyway, is that Sratok started off as a nameless lizardfolk druid 5 that I added to the village so that there would be enough XP in the adventure for 6 PCs. During the battle, I used a female yuan-ti figure for her to mark her as different than the other lizardfolk, and so she gained a gender. After writing up the previous session, she gained a name. And over the course of her little talks with Travaris, she gained a personality. She had entered her tribe into an alliance with the trolls and hags for survival, but she did not like it. And so she decided to free the captives herself, before Mamuna could take the decision of their fate out of her hands. Hopefully Stisshak would forgive her for the act.

She dismissed the lizardfolk guard and untied the prisoners. Travaris immediately channeled energy to heal them. Sratok told them where the wall was, right outside of the spirit hut, and then summoned a fog cloud to cover their escape. Once they were climbing the wall in the fog, she called out that the village was under attack. But no humans were coming into the village – there was just the two that were leaving. Well, one half-elf and one halfling, really.

By this point, the rest of the group was near the northern shore readying their assault. They heard the cry go up, saw the fog cloud appear, heard the splash of people diving into the water, and saw the duo swim out of the cloud with lizardfolk in cold-blooded pursuit. Iofur the druid quickly cast touch of the sea on Boliden the barbarian and Satampra the rogue. While Boliden waited on Mestinous the elven wizard to enlarge him (Mestinous was busy buffing himself, first), Satampra bravely jumped into the water and swam out to save his companions. He held off the lizardfolk while the cleric and the ranger made their way to the river bank. Once they were safely on land, Satampra retreated, and the lizardfolk guards declined to pursue when they saw that the entire group of humans was waiting for them. The adventurers quickly mounted up and rode off into the Narlmarches.

Travaris filled them in on what had transpired during their captivity, including his conversations with Sratok and Mamuna. The rest wanted to go back and fight the lizardfolk anyway, but the cleric forbade it. He gave his word, and anyway, there was no reason to be in conflict with them. They just wanted to be left alone. The party reluctantly agreed, although they vowed to come back some day and totally wipe out the village. This is what happens, I guess, when D&D players lose a fight.

I gave them XP for the druid, along with some quest XP. It seems likely that the “rescue Tig” quest will not come into play, unless they antagonize the lizardfolk again, so I didn’t want them to lose out on that XP. Although I could just move Tig elsewhere…

Next: thylacines!

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