|In which the quest to find fabled Tsojcanth is begun...|
Cast of Characters
Mordecai, a Cleric-7: Adam
Forlorn, an Elf-5: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-6: Mike
Shy, a Fighter-6: JR
Leonidas the Paladin-5: Nogal
Digit, the Elf Thief-7: Z
Konstantine, Magic User-5: Smitty
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-5
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-5
Ireena, a Fighter - 5
Vlad the Inhaler, Magic User-1
*Italicized characters are back in Barovia
Yes! Last week, we officially started AD&D Module S4, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. (I say it "Zoy-Kanth", although as a kid I pronounced it "Zodge-Kanth"). The groundwork has been laid for a while in the campaign background; the players have crossed paths with many powerful, supernatural entities in their short career: an ancient vampire lord from antiquity, a Satanic witch, a vile master wizard, a lady of the Fairy Otherworld. Now that word has leaked out regarding the lost location of the Demonomicon, these factions (and other, yet unrevealed, players) have plunged into the Crystalmist mountains seeking to find the Lost Caverns and be the first to claim the Demonomicom. Last week, the players launched their own expedition to find the book
The players are following a gypsy map that shows many of the valleys and passes in and around Barovia, and they've headed into the mountains with weeks of rations, animal feed, horses and mules, wending their way through the high passes. Their first objective is to find something they're calling the Gnome Vale; from Strahd's journal and library notes, it should be within about 50 miles from Barovia, and one written account indicated it wasn't far from the Horn of Iggwilv, an important landmark for finding the Lost Caverns.
Work is kicking me in the head right now, otherwise I'd have made some e-versions of the new maps we're using, and post them on the blog; it's also making it impossible to work on the Black City. It's good stuff though - in the midst of a job change, initiating a few large projects, completing some carryover projects. I'll get some Tsojcanth related maps up in a few weeks - I've adjusted them slightly for local geography.
In fact - I should be getting back to some work-related reading this afternoon, so I'm only going to briefly narrate what happened. Boris had used Druid mojo to gain an animal companion, a hawk, and he's trained it to return. Each day in the mountains, he's using Speak with Animals to send it out searching, and then using a second Speak with Animals later in the day when it returns to learn if it's seen anything important. In this way, the players quickly found the location of the Gnome Valley, but they don't yet know how to reach it - the hawk was able to fly over impassable ridges. The initial goal has shifted from finding the hidden vale, to finding a pass that will lend egress to it.
The party fought an entire army of goblins (if you count nearly a hundred goblins as "an army") and demonstrated how awesome a party of 6th level guys can be when they unleash a ton of magic; they Slowed a large section of goblin infantry, Hasted their front-line fighters, blasted the back ranks with Fireballs, sniped sergeants and leaders with barrages of Magic Missiles. It was over before the goblins knew what hit them. We all know there are monsters out there that will beat the snot out of adventurers, but as the players remarked amongst themselves, they felt like Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn single-handedly taking out a horde of orcs. Even I was impressed.
Some other points that may come up in future games: familiars, the dream of Leonidas, and the charter. Familiars: both Mister Moore and Forlorn used their downtime in Barovia to summon familiars; Forlorn now has a weasel companion, and Mister Moore, the very picture of Lawfulness and Goodness, attracted a Brownie. I've never seen a player roll that 5% chance to get a special familiar, so that was quite remarkable. His name is "Packer", and I suppose I'll need to learn a wee Irish accent when I need to take on the role of Packer the Brownie.
Leonidas had a visionary dream which he claims came straight from Zeus, his patron deity, in which he saw a golden eagle circle an amazing glowing sword (he thinks it's a holy sword) stuck in a rock, Excalibur-style, at a stone tomb edifice in the gnome vale.
Finally, the group amended the BK Charter, their corporate adventuring papers, to include that they have the right to call all 1st level henchman "Meatshield" until such time as the henchman earns level 2, and will be given a proper adventuring nickname. Except for Vlad the Inhaler, whose party-given name is too good to lose. I think Bo is taking a stab at formally writing the BK Inc Charter as a mock legal document. The charter was first introduced way back here: The Player Charter, and has been a mainstay of the group's treasure strategy ever since.
Does your group have a Charter? They should. Charters are fun, and fun is good.
*Image is by the incomparable Erol Otus, from the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth cover.