So when planning those sessions I decided to do a slight change of pace. The past sessions were mostly dungeon crawling and overland adventure oriented. A lot of fights with very few short NPC interactions. So that's when I decided that the head honcho of Lone Tree, the Smuggler's Guild underboss One-Eye is gone. MIA, presumed dead. So when the party came back to their home base they didn't find a safe haven, they found an aftermath of a coup d'etat. The kidnapping of One-Eye was of course a political inside job orchestrated by spies from another guild so the game got really political and talky, with stuff like "who can we trust?", "how do we investigate who's behind this?", "how do we prove it?" and stuff like that.
I'm proud of my players because they navigated the landscape like pros, they played the NPCs against each other, managed to go from "nobody trusts us" to "we got an assignment down south so we can investigate the last place One-Eye was seen" and they did that mostly not through rolling dice but by clever lies, half-truths and other machinations. Very cool.
Session #6 and they go down the south road, escorting a cart of dwarven steel ingots. They are accompanied by two sellswords - one is a white elf (our wizard is one-quarter white elf and knows the language so she tried to get some information off him, but he knew nothing, was only interested in flirting) the other an ardver (which is like a dour warhammer dwarf from the Frozen Peaks). Our cleric is an isdver (which is a merry celtic faerie dwarf) but the two talked politely about dwarf things and most importantly about the details of how the cooperation of northern dwarves and Smuggler's Guild works. And then I rolled a random encounter and the party got attacked by three bogwitches.
|Bogwitch by Jason Sholtis of They Stalk the Underworld and Dungeon Dozen|
Seriously, people. Hubris is amazing. But anyway – bogwitches managed to straight up murder the elven sellsword, almost kill the dwarven one and seriously wound our thief and... some other PC. Can't remember. Anyway. The party killed one bogwitch, seriously wounded the other, witches failed their morale check and ran (swam) away. Cleric decided to use up party's only antidote potion and one of their very few healing potions on the dwarf and save his life. So I decided that the sellsword is now very grateful and loyal to the party. That loyalty was tested later in the game.
Party reached a place where they had to go off the road into the swamp. So Eno the Thief and Norväk the Cleric left the cart under the protection of Sapphire the Fighter and Misty the Wizard (also known among her friends as Misty the Four Hitpoints) and together with the dwarven sellsword went looking for the battleground where One-Eye was last seen. So the next encounter I stole almost verbatim from the Under Illefarn module. Players know that One-Eye vanished during a skirmish with the lizardfolk of the Blue Feather tribe. And when traveling through the swamp they are ambushed by lizardfolk of the Stone God tribe. Players immediately recognized that those particular lizard persons don't have any blue feathers on them whatsoever. See. I have smart players.
In the meantime Misty's alarm spell goes off in the middle of the night. There are noises, footsteps and evil laughter coming from the darkness. Goblins are preparing to attack and loot the cart. There are dozens of them! And they are Zak's backwards-speaking goblins because they are funny and confusing. So after a some confusing taunts ("Don't give up! You outnumber us!") Sapphire and Misty decide to make their last stand and protect the cart to the death. Goblins charge. And the moment they are about to hurl bombs at the cart they are swept by a sudden attack of lizardfolk dinosaur cavalry.
|Dinosaur cavalry by Paizo|
Misty and Sapphire are shocked, but mostly because among the lizardpeople they see Eno and Norväk riding raptors. Goblins retreat in panic. Eno and Norväk explain to the rest of the party that they will be escorting the cart to the lizardfolk's scout camp and will explain what happened on the way. That happens.
So the thief and cleric made a pact with Red-Eye, shaman of the Stone God tribe. Stone God lizardfolk will reveal the location of of Blue Feather tribe's war camp where One-Eye is being held (the eye-names are confusing, I know, I know, ok?!) and will also assist with any plan to free him. In exchange the party will assassinate Sharp Tooth, Chief of Blue Feather and if everything goes smoothly they also promise to convince the Smuggler's Guild in Lone Tree to sell iron weapons to Stone God tribe in exchange for rare herbs, mushrooms, feathers and other stuff that lizardfolk can procure. Dwarven sellsword is horrified by all this, but keeps it to himself. Those madmen (and women) recently saved his life, so what can he do? He's honor bound.
So the end of the session was mostly planning on how to approach the mission. Blue Feather's war party outnumbers Stone God's scouts greatly, so open attack is out of the question. What this means for me is that next session I will have a stealth mission on my hands. Stealth mission that if shit hits a fan (and you know it often does) sits atop a possible medium sized battle. With dinosaurs. Now that's gonna be a doozy.