Previously, on Shadows of Keron… Gutz, Nessime and The Warforged have decided to rescue Princess Karmella from her kidnappers, which entails meeting them at the Anvil, a lakeside site sacred to the cult of Hulian, and at least pretending to exchange her for Ulesir Shah, or in this case, Gutz, who bears an uncanny resemblance to him…
Fortunately, Nessime was paying attention to her lessons on the relevant day in paladin school, and knew where the Anvil was, so they were able to go directly there, where they met Philosopher Jimpah, a Jademan monk sent to observe the now indefinitely postponed wedding; he wished to rescue the princess too, so they agreed to join forces. They then spent a happy hour or so setting up traps to cover the approaches from the mountains, intending to ambush the kidnappers when they turned up to make the exchange. (You’ve seen Predator, right? It was a lot like Arnie’s Boy Scout alien traps.) It didn’t occur to them that the Bad Guys might come across the lake in a boat. However, this did allow me to remove a variety of items from the huge pile of stuff they’re lugging around with them, mostly the Amazon spears which have spent the last few game months lashed to their pack animal, and were used to make a big, spikey deadfall.
Seeing a hooded woman in the boat, The Warforged leapt to the conclusion that she was an imposter, not the real Karmella, and blew up the boat with a Blast spell. Illustrating the difference between their characters, Gutz dropped behind the Anvil’s rocks seeking cover, while Nessime stood up and ran forward to save the girl, getting shot by archers for her pains. This irritated her, and using her recently acquired Beast Friend on a convenient nest of hornets, she persuaded the insects to attack her foes. (I let her get away with quite a lot regarding Beast Friend, because I like to see the crazy schemes they come up with to use it.) By this point, the entire boat crew were Shaken or worse, and the girl was dead, so when the hornets attacked, they killed all the survivors.
GM: Congratulations. You have now killed everyone who could have told you what is going on. What’s your next move?
It took a while, but by astute questioning of Philosopher Jimpah, going back over the clues from earlier sessions, and not a little luck in tracking around the lakeside, they eventually worked out which way to go to retrace the kidnappers’ steps. (Interestingly, although the players often lament the absence of Athienne and her Tracking skill, so far it hasn’t occurred to any of them that they could use an advance to learn it themselves.)
When they encountered sentinels left to guard the kidnappers’ yaks, The Warforged used Puppet to send them jumping off a cliff. Using Stealth and items found on the yaks, the party disguised themselves as locals and used Beast Friend to persuade the yaks to take them to the kidnappers’ village. On arrival, they ignored the village entirely and climbed the sheer rock face to the Monastery of Shadows (three dramatic chords). After a number of adventures inside the Monastery, during which by dint of improbably good Persuasion rolls they convinced a group of novice monks that they were a party of tourists visiting the historic site, and learned the Monastery’s secret soup recipe by befriending the chef, they found the princess and disposed of her guards.
I had forgotten that they had the Stone of Recall, a magic item which they’ve had lying around for ages, which can teleport the wielder and anyone in physical contact to a preset waypoint. They hadn’t, nor had they forgotten to specify resetting the waypoint to Ulesir Shah’s palace. So, they teleported back to the patron and delivered the bride-to-be, bypassing the boss fight at the end of the scenario and leaving the Monastery largely intact, where no doubt its evil plots will continue to fester. This kind of thing happens in a sandbox game; because we were pushed for time, and Nick (The Warforged) hasn’t been very enthusiastic about this particular scenario, I let it ride rather than inventing a dark sorcery antimagic field to stop them.
Despite being well-paid for their efforts, the thing they were most pleased about was getting the secret soup recipe, a throw-away detail I made up on the spot while they were talking to the chef. Nessime and Jimpah have passed on the Monastery’s location to their respective religious organisations, so I anticipate a pitched battle offscreen as the three cults kick the stuffing out of each other, followed by dark monks bent on revenge coming for the party.
Where next for Our Heroes? A bunch of single-session scenarios on their journey back to the Independent Kingdoms, I think, followed by a grand finale in which Gutz and The Warforged finally work out that between them they know where The Warforged’s missing memory core is hidden, somewhere in the Fallen Realm of Keron, and the band set off on an epic dungeon crawl to recover it.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to speculate what Kumal the Smiling has been up to while all this was going on. I think he might be tempted to sell information about them to the Kyrosian Army, in which he previously served with them, and which has put a price on their heads.
Next time, on Shadows of Keron… The chickens start coming home to roost, as the Kyrosian Army attempts to arrest the group for desertion and murder.