The harvest season ended only a few short weeks after it begun when a deadly shroud of pure white descended upon the rich fields of the valley. Many of the able bodied folk in the valley have struggled to salvage what can be saved of the now frozen crops and gather fuel to ward off the relentless cold. Others have begun to stock their larders with game. In Haven, the people amassed what wealth they have and sent two expeditions to the lands of the south to purchase sustenance to tide them over the long winter.
A fortnight has passed since the expeditions departed and as yet there has been no word of them. In light of this, five residents of the valley were summoned to meet with the Elders of Haven. As they gathered in an antechamber they took a moment to introduce themselves and exchange some witty banter.
- Edward : A Human Investigator from Haven who sells antivenoms and other concoctions.
- Bridgette: A Human Hunter who divides her time between Lonepine and Springfed.
- Caldus: A Half-Elf Slayer who lives in the forests near Springfed.
- Kendra: A Dwarf Barbarian who has spent the last forty years learning woodworking in Lonepine.
- Spazzlethrop: An elderly Gnome Oracle from Haven who practices Herbalism.
This was soon ushered into the dark chamber where the Elders were gathered around a flickering firepit. The air here was filled with the thick, almost greasy, aroma of incense.
The Elders explained what the group already knew – that the sudden onset of winter had left larders empty and that the valley would face a devastating famine if nothing were done. It was noted that two caravans had been sent to the south to trade for provisions but that this, by their reckoning, was insufficient. They had decided to send one of their number, the Elder Agamemnon, to the mountain at the far north of the valley to beseech Ernhardur, whom the locals considered the deity of the valley, to aid them. The five individuals summoned were quested with accompanying Agamemnon and ensuring that he safely reached Ernhardur’s sanctum (which I, of course, misspelled on the map – oh well).
Many questions followed. It was obvious why Caldus and Bridgette had been selected, less apparent was why the others had been chosen. The more discerning party members deduced that the Elders were selecting the strong and the expendable on this mission. Asked what was in it for them, the group was assured of the goodwill of a grateful valley and amble festivities once the famine was averted.
The group requested supplies for the journey, which they were given, and snow shoes. They were also given a crystalline orb which seemed to contain droplets of liquid that swirl in chaotic patterns – Agamemnon explained that this was the Orb of Rainward and that when a command word was spoken it would shelter the group from the snow. The point was raised that snow and rain are not the same, but Agamemnon simply answered that Orb of Precipitationward didn’t roll off the tongue quite as well. A side effect of the warding is that precipitation falls around the group generating a concealment effect – hard to see in, hard to see out. Agamemnon offered to use a scroll to cast Communal Water Walk – to allow the group to walk effortlessly over the snow – but the group asked him to hold off on that until later (which ended up being a wise move).
The characters with the highest Survival checks – Caldus and Kendra – took the lead to act as pathfinders (hey, I get that reference) while Bridgette with the third highest Survival check took the rear. Bridgette cast Endure Elements on herself – then Spazzlethrop and Edward as they failed hourly fortitude checks against Cold Weather. It was dark and windy when the group set out but Spazzlethrop was prepared with a lantern that’d built himself – the others in the group weren’t sure what all the cogs and gears were for, but it did shed light so…
After about three hours of drudging through the snow Agamemnon started to complain about being hungry and tried to get the group to stop in at one of the farmsteads there were passing for a quick bite to eat….which lead to this exchange…
Agamemnon: They’ll be glad to give food to an elder. It’s a great honor.
Bridgette: You don’t get free food just for being old.
On one of the hourly Survival/Perception checks, Caldus heard a series of eerie howls. They were vaguely lupine but something was off about them. As the group continued on they began to hear the howls more regularly coming from the direction of Springfed. This motivated the group to ignore Agamemnon’s complaints. Bridgette sent her wolf out to scout and it came back “freaked out” due to some strange scents/eerie howls (she cast Speak with Animal). The wolf then paid her many lupine compliments (your fur is looking nice, you smell nice – what did you have for breakfast, etc) and criticized a certain member of the group (apparently someone smells like a grass eater – Bridgette knows who it is).
During the journey Spazzlethrop offered several times to hold the Orb of Rainward and even fashioned a makeshift holder for it on his staff, but Edward stubbornly refused to give it to the gnome.
Arriving at the frozen lake, Edward noticed a mound in the distance half covered in snow and Bridgette sent her wolf to investigate. The wolf returned with a full belly and it’s muzzle covered in blood, but the group did not look into the matter further. (Hmm. Why would I note this in the campaign log? I didn’t note that the wolf stole a chicken from one of the farmsteads the group passed – much to Agamemnon’s ire).
The group had a long debate on whether to cross the frozen lake or add several hours to their journey going around it. Kendra had a deep resistance to crossing the lake but… Once the group remembered that they had a scroll of Communal Water Walking everyone else decided that this was the safest and quickest path forward. After all, going around the lake had it’s own risks. Kendra begrudgingly followed behind the group as they crossed the frozen lake…until about halfway through at which point she took the lead.
The group kept the Orb of Rainward active as they were crossing the lake – this kept them hidden from view under the veil of falling snow but also meant that they had to rely on their own direction sense. Reaching the edge of the lake they found that they had gone off cross, arriving not at the Docks of Lonepine but on the other side of the creek. Kendra was familiar with this area of farmland so she took the lead – then rolled a Natural 1 on her Survival which resulted in leading the group into a corn crib. Opps. Noting a farmstead nearby, Agamemnon ran off to ask for warm food and shelter from the cold while the party members noted that the farmstead was silent and cold. Investigating, they found no signs of people or animals…until Bridegette stumbled across a desiccated corpse. Kendra identified it as belonging to Farm Patrick. The group pried Agamemnon away from the fire he had started in the fireplace and they made their own towards Lonepine at double speed.
As they neared the town an arrow was fired at them through their snow veil from a nearby farmstead. Kendra went to investigate while the rest of the group continued onward – she found a local elf named Sarthas standing guard there. On learning that the swirling orb of snow was the work of an Elder of Haven Sarthas directed Kendra to hurry across the bridge to Lonepine as there were dark things afoot. Kendra rejoined the group and they did just that.
Arriving at Lonepine the group found that the town was on high alert. Villagers were armed with torches and hunters with fire arrows (nonmagical – just wrapped in oil soaked cloth and lit in a torch’s fire). They were told that strange creatures had been attacking the outlying settlements – these beings were not harmed by weapons, only fire harmed there. Agamonon hurried off to meet the Council of Lonepine (and to request some hot food and even a hot bath). The group were less relaxed and took up guard alongside the villagers.
Soon afterwards the village was attacked by four eerie spectral creatures… As warned weapons merely passed through the creature but fire harmed them. So the group took up torches and fire arrows (again, nonmagical) to protect Lonepine.
One of the farmers fell defending his pig from the spectral attackers. Kendra and Spazzlethrop ensured that the pig survived. The spectral attackers used hit & run tactics… Edward and Caldus deduced that they were aiming to fell as many villagers as possible. But why? Edward theorized that they were feeding on life energy.
Spazzlethrop went to help Kendra fight one of the attackers…but it immediately turned from fighting her to attack him. Kendra fell the attacker and it imploded in a burst of negative energy and cold – knocking out Spazzlethrop. Kendra carried him to safely.
Agamemnon and a human Bard named Erilyn joined the battle. The Elder used the magic missile to great effect – showing that other forms of attack harmed the beasts – while the Bard inspired the village’s defenders.
The four spectral beasts were slain after a great effort but seven villagers were slain. The Elder Agamemnon – in a departure from his previous attitude – voiced a desire to leave for the sanctum immediately given the dire circumstances. The group agreed to leave after restocking supplies and, for those from Lonepine, checking in with their loved ones.
There were many hilarious moments and notable quotables from the sitting – if you’re a player, please share your favorites in the comments.