Sometimes the party will take the adventure down a path you as the Dm didn't plan for. It happens. In fact, a good group of players should do that fairly regularly if they are trying to play in the game and make some (ANY!) mark on the world they are in. I'm not advocating being a chaotic or destructive force, but instead having a presence that goes beyond clearing a room of monsters and taking their treasure.
Our resident half-ogre, knight in training, had allowed his temper and quick judgement to get the better of him. And this time I wasn't going to go easy on him. This unknightly attitude and the given fact that he IS playing a half-ogre, was going to weigh heavily against him not only now, but for many many sessions to follow afterwards.
And it was going to nudge my campaign slightly off the track I had planned ahead for it into a darker and less friendly path more in line with the situations our goodman Karis (Dan) was taking the group in.
Write up follows:
We awoke the following day, Earthmonth the 9th, to the sound of the Hrundi, the kobold cook, and Coruth'tae making breakfast. The party talked for a while about what was to be done today, some of us still suffering wounds and aches from the fight at Fengarth's Tower. Karis gave the group a seriously shortened and less than full accounting of what happened the night before, letting them know that he needed to visit with Sir Walter Slaine to set things straight.
Hrundi, Bara, and Ilva (the 3 kobold women) then told the group about the need of some sort of house fund – since if they (the party) weren't going to be here and be gone for weeks on end – the little coin they do earn isn't enough to upkeep the home. Karis established a fund of 7 crowns, 18 nobles and the women were more than satisfied.
At this point most of the group (less Karis) went to Malcath's Traders to do some purchasing while Karis put on his finery and made his way to visit Sir Walter. The meeting did not go well. At all.
Karis was "read the riot act" by Sir Walter and told that as of now, this is the 2nd (and last) time that the genial nobleman was going to stick up for the tempestuous half-ogre and try to right the wrongs that had been laid out. Karis was told that he HAS to go. And go now. In fact- tomorrow. He was going to be sent on a special trip to Cymbarton (3 days by horseback/wagon) to pick up something of value from Baron Sehan Umbaria and his seneschal Ulof. And then it would be an immediate return trip to Orihalcus. If he does ALL of it in 8 days (be back in Orihalcus before the EOD on the 17h), Sir Walter would allow the party 3 weeks to go and do whatever the hell it is they want – as LONG as they get out of Orihalcus. They could then come back, and still beat the snows.
This was not a suggestion – more of an order. There is a serious clamoring for the expulsion of "monstrous humanoids" by those who have hated and feared them before. And Karis was already on trial once before for his engagement with Clothier Dellia.
Karis was informed that Sir Walter would NOT go to the half-ogre's defense a 3rd time. The bondsmanship would most likely be dissolved and Karis (and perhaps depending on their involvement, the rest of the party) would be arrested, tried, and then punished accordingly for his actions. Adventurers – even those who currently have the local lord's favor (not by much though anymore thanks to a certain half-ogre) are NOT above the law. And for a knight in training, Karis is also risking his affiliation with the knightly order and the Priests of Tyr (the god and followers of justice and war don't take kindly to frightening innocent halfling seamstresses or dangling guardsmen over the city walls).
The half ogre left humbled but we are not sure if entirely penitent.
The party meanwhile geared up at Malcath's, the trader enjoying the greater number of trade goods, customers, and caravans that have been coming to the copper mining town. Oil (as usual), clothing, cold weather gear, chests, boots, and various other sundry supplies were purchased. The group then split up briefly with Detheron going to see One-Earred Quint to speak to the priest about healing potions and other matters, Zoltan paying a visit to Keohn at the Rusty Bucket and get some info on Cymbarton, and Coruth'tae stopping in at Yrrg's Skiens and getting some better fitting clothing for the cold months ahead. Everywhere the party went, they heard about Karis’ exploits with a gossipy tongue behind it and learned that the consensus from the populace wasn't too favorable towards the Sundered Chain's favorite half-ogre.
Karis informed the group of what was going on and got a thick layer of scowls and grunts. There was some talk about finding a place for Coruth'tae and Gwyn to hole up and train but we let that issue linger and drop for now – waiting to see what would happen after our trip to Cymbarton. What would we do next? What would we do there?
We spoke at length about things to do and what were our plans. We knew we were leaving on the 10th and went through things at our disposal and places we HAD and have (and want) to visit in Cymbarton. Our list was/is:
Ø Visit Baron Sehan Umbaria's man Ulof, give him the packet from Sir Walter Slaine, and get the cargo we were to bring back (which Karis found out was going to be 10 crates of pigeons and some spell scrolls to enchant the animals to learn and memorize the journey from the two towns so that after long last, Orihalcus would have an aviary at its disposal and not have to only rely on carrier post).
Ø Investigate to see if the Mulholland family (and maybe Cyric himself – the writer of the Dargan Folly books) still lived on Bower lane and get a copy of the 3rd and/or 4th volume if available.
Ø Amal wanted to visit a potter.
Ø Go to the library and research wraiths, forest trolls, and Dargan.
Ø Actually visit the Antiquinarian and Adventuring Guild
Ø The Cymbarton Freelancers (thieves guild – actually one of three) has a member named Barack Thelestra there – is also a member of the Phantom Blades. Maybe have Zoltan investigate it.
Ø Detheron needs to visit Isoti the Sage to find out how to find the slain unicorn.
Ø And Coruth'tae wants to visit Tower Arcane
We left the next morning ready and able – wagon and team of 4 horses and Karis and Zoltan's steed as well. Some traffic, especially between Ironmine and Orihalcus, but beyond that, the road was sort of empty. The horses were getting spooked not much further past and Detheron “spoke” with them to learn that they thought something was nearby that wanted to eat them. Couldn't get any more details but Fodder told him that there was some sort of lizard smell nearby – two different types. Used a Locate Animal spell and at 5-600' up the mountain slope was able to sense some sort of lizard. 11 of them. In good health. And larger than normal. That was it.
Group decided it wasn't bothering us, move on. One of the horses needed to have a shoe fixed as the hoof was a bit cracked (not much road walking – only field) but Detheron proved himself to be capable and fixed the animal's shoe in under an hour and we moved on. We had lost a bit of time, but we pressed on in the night until we arrived at the caravan rest area – where we saw a man was already there with a herd of 20 sheep.
Identified himself as Heimund and he was on his way to Orihalcus to have his wares shorn there. He could do it at the Silverbough's where he normally does it – but he is hoping to triple his profit by going to Orihalcus. We bedded down with him (he hobbled his sheep together) and after trading stories with the shepherd, we rested well. The next morning he was going on into the hills and we warned him about the lizard scent and wished him well.
Arrived in Ponyboro at 1:30 or so and decided we were going to spend no more than 2 hours here. The group split up. Zoltan buried a box (of his treasures) in an oilskin canvas wrap outside of town where only he hopes he could find it, spoke with Lord Artis Daernhorse and showed him the locket we had found by the Circle of Thorns (the name on it “Grath” refers to his cousin who runs the family land in Cymbarton, Isola is his wife who was a bard who disappeared 6 years ago), and picked up his hydra boots from Ikthandar's. Karis went to visit Sjordar the gemsmith and learned that the ring seemed in real good condition but a ruby to replace the one "lost" would be about 750 crowns. Yikes. And Deth and Coruth'tae went to the Gunnerson Demesne to do some horse shopping for the grey elf who selected a 2 year old gelding of gentle nature as his riding animal.
After we were done with our wares and visits, we loaded up on food and feed and rode out – pushing to make Cymbarton in time. We camped again by the side of the road and the next day passed by some men in Umbarian livery who had caught two wolves and were skinning them. One of the wheels was getting weak and two of the spokes were broken – so we hasty repaired the wagon with Gwyn's iron bars and leather wrapping – it should last us till we get to the city.
As we grew closer and closer to Cymbarton we talked in earnest about Amal who would need to remain under cloak and hood as orcs were most likely not wanted in town. The land was worked and we passed many, many farms and orchards until we arrived at Cymbarton – the capital city of the Barony AND the county. Description read as:
Cymbarton sits as grand and sprawling as you have come to expect it to. The great walls surround the outer perimeter of the city for miles; the numerous homes, shops, parks, temples, and manor homes and castles well protected behind the 30' stone escarpments. Great gates with fortified keeps flanking the mighty portcullises stand open and inviting; a queue of hundreds of citizens and visitors both coming in and out of the wondrous city.
The natural rise of the land crests well within Cymbarton's heart as you can see towers, shops, and other structures along the side of the rises – wide and inviting thoroughfares leading the way throughout the metropolis. Even within the walls, there are large areas of growth as small copses of trees and parks dot the ordered cityscape.
The entire northern border of Cymbarton is flush against the wide sloped channel of the empty Copper Bottom Riverbed – the naked one time waterway close to 250' wide. A stone expanse arches over the sandy, weed choked bottom – the length of the bridge filled with milling people even at this distance.
How many people live here? Many, many tens of thousands. In fact, if you were to take the entirety of Orihalcus and Ponyboro you would barely cover a 10th of the city. And it is into the grand city, the shining jewel and heart of Sedaria, that your feet are taking you.
We waited on line to get in and once there we were given some rules as visitors (no bows or crossbows allowed to be strung, no duels, no spellduels, etc..) and we opted to buy maps to the city. All 10 districts. Shelling out much coinage for the maps, we wandered around town – taking 45 minutes to get to the center of the city and Baron Sehan Umbaria's Demesne. We waited to speak with Ulof (it was about 8ish at night) and the seneschal gave us the bill of lading and told us to come back on the night of the 14th or morning of the 15th to get the cargo. We would be getting seed and water for the birds and he checked that we had a skilled animal handler with us (Detheron) as we would need one to make sure the animals would be in good health and repair on the trip back home.
He then suggested that we go to Old City and visit the Adventurer's Guild at some point and stay at the Yawning Portal Hotel there. We stabled our horses at East Cymbarton Stablery and told the stablehands there to bring our wagon to the local wheelwright (Rolling Monk Wheelwright) to get the broken wheel repaired. We then huffed it up Hillside Street until we arrived at the Yawning Portal (incidentally – right across the street was a house of ill-repute called the Ladies of Dawn). Once inside we identified ourselves as adventurers and showed our charter – which netted us a 50% discount (plus) for the rooms. Some of us got deluxe accommodations, other didn't. But it was about quarter to 9 on Earthmonth the 12th when we ended it here.