There was a time when I ran almost exclusively town adventures. There is a city in my sandbox called Darkwaters, and the local chatter across the known kingdom is "Adventure oftentimes begins and ends in Darkwaters." Its a big, sprawling, huge, megalopolis with interfaction fighting and intrigue and multiple levels of whatever from top to bottom. Its the type of city where you can go to visit and if you are not careful, wind up down some tenement row of housing with a knife in your ear and someone rummaging around your pouch.
This group is not like that. There is a decided split in the group's interest - ranging between intrigue and story versus going out and whacking stuff with weapons and spells. So some of my nights I find that we cater to some members at the table, and other nights to the others. Since we had spent some 10 plus sessions dungeon crawling, I wanted the party to have some down time, train, sell off some loot, and have some domestic interests capture their attention.
It went over like a lead balloon. Chuckle. Karis and Sheriff Phozarn have learned to despise one another and regardless of what my initial plan was for the party, they have taken control of their destiny and for that I am happy - letting the world be organic around them and their actions. Some little clues I do give (such as the disinterested kobold Ilva and her late night trips out and long delays in returning - only Zoltan noted it, the rest of the party let it go by the wayside), and others I bring up a few times (bugbears constantly around the town, peaceful trading, and their singular immeasurable aid to the greengrocer coalition), and others I just spring out when the mood hits me.
I know that half my party had a lot of fun this night - and when you have 5 or 6 distinct people and personalities around the table, a smart DM realizes that you can't please all of the people all of the time.
Write up follows:
The group rested that night, safe at home but noting the absence of their missing and fallen companions. During the next day, there was a noticeable shift in the guards’ attitude to Karis since we had been here almost a month earlier. They were still a bit standoffish, but had definitely warmed up to him. Except for the Sheriff Phozarn. There was still bad blood between the two of them and it seemed that unless something changed, it would remain as such for some time.
We spent many days going through the dwarven equipment we had taken from the city: jewelry and items of interest. Selling much of it to whoever we could in town. From that, we split up the funds as well as accorded a 10% portion to Sir Walter for the Adventuring Guild. There were two pieces of jewelry that we could not sell in town and Coruth’tae offered to take it with him to Cymbarton to sell there while he was training at the Tower Arcane, bringing the funds home with him at that time.
We had Coruth’tae sign the adventuring charter, and also gave him permission to recruit anyone with either dungeoneering or magical skill while in the city, and then send them back to Orihalcus.
Meanwhile, Detheron and Gwyn spent time training under Solkissa and Marzen Copperworks respectively, achieving 6th level for each of them – bringing our compliment and party to: 1) Karis, half Ogre 4th level Cavalier/2nd level priest to Tyr, 2) Detheron, human 6th level Druid to Frey, 3) Gwynhwyfar, dwarven 6th level Fighter, and 4) Coruth’tae, Grey Elven 4th level Illusionist.
The weather grew colder and the last weeks of autumn were upon us, winter already beginning to grip the land. Karis, being the one individual with some free time, afforded himself and his skills to Sir Walter, burning away more time of his bondsmanship. There was only some work to be done, most of it having already come to a close. So Karis was given to work down at the copper mines, where the slag and dross from the caverns was taken out and then needed to be graded smooth and away from the city’s base. It was hard and menial labor, but it only ate up about 6 hours of his day and his great strength and efforts were appreciated.
After a few weeks, the half-ogre was approached by Sheriff Phozarn who asked for Karis to come with him. Sir Walter had suggested the xenophobic Sheriff approach Karis to help him to smooth over a potential hot spot of activity taking place at the city’s base near the Greengrocer’s Coalition. It seems that the Drywood Bugbear Clan that had been trading peacefully with Orihalcus is looking to winter in some of the Coalition’s dwellings close to the city – and Frau Gail has given them her permission.
Sir Walter thinks it is a good idea but the Sheriff does not, and Karis was asked to come as a representative to help make sure that Altern Lamatous understands the limitations this close to the city and that there would be no issues or bad blood.
The meeting was difficult at best, Sheriff Phozarn openly rude to Karis and disparaging to the bugbear leader. There were many words back and forth and Altern Lamatous was understanding of the rules regarding the city, but mostly he wanted his people to be safe and warm and he and Frau Gail have been engaging in an affair with one another. Admittedly it was a bombshell to hear, and the Altern didn’t seem to grasp the idea of keeping that sort of thing a secret as bugbears are rather open about such issues, but the Sheriff was incensed – and when he approached (or had his men do it) Frau Gail, he was rebuffed and told to mind his own business.
Altern Lamatous did mention that there was another reason – K’Tharkian kobolds had been seen in the area. The Sheriff discounted it, saying that none of his people had seen any such thing, but the bugbear was adamant that there were kobolds out there and that the Sheriff’s men were probably not up to the task of finding them.
Then it was over and Karis and Phozarn went back to the lift where Karis told the Sheriff he was a piece of crap and if you don’t like me, kill me, or leave me alone. Phozarn and the half-ogre squared off but nothing happened and Karis eventually went to Sir Walter and told him what had happened. Slaine and Adeptus Bjorn were having some sort of small party and Karis was told to leave and come back tomorrow.
He arrived home where he was greeted to the kobold women in some sort of confrontation on the floor of the living room, Ilva being sat upon by the other two, hysterically sobbing and her clothes a mess. They all jumped up fast and Ilva ran into her room, slamming the door closed.
While Karis was getting the news from the other two, Detheron and Gwyn came home and the three of them were treated to a load of miserable news.
Ilva was pregnant.
2 months pregnant, the baby due in 3 more. She had apparently met some kobold out in the fields while she was working for the Coalition and he seduced her and she met him half a dozen times and got pregnant. But she remained loyal to the Sundered Chains and when pressed to give up information about Orihalcus or the people or the party, Ilva refused and the other kobold has not come back for 4-5 weeks.
The group decided that this information had to be told to Sir Walter and soon – but the timing of it could not be any worse. Hiding the problem was not an option either, neither was ignoring it. This would be very bad. Kobolds nearby. Phozarn and his men are proven wrong. The kobold women were the party’s responsibility, and one of them was pregnant. What did she tell them? Anything? What?
At this point, the gnome adventurer that Coruth’tae hired in Cymbarton arrived in town and came to present himself to the Sundered Chains. The party was just spot on with being unable to treat a new recruit with respect and in the space of 10 minutes, Fabambus left to go back to the Blue and Dancing Minepick Inn to contemplate the 5 day slow journey he took coming here and the strange group of people he had just met.
The next morning the party went to Sir Walter’s Manorhouse where they went to the befuddled lord. He was obviously in his cups and informed the group that he had just met with Frau Gail, and Sheriff Phozarn, and with Karis’ own report from yesterday, had a good idea on what happened. He liked the party and the bugbears, but the strain of the rule and the expanding city and growing responsibilities was taking its tolls on him. He had a naked blade in his hand and spun it slowly while the party told him about the kobolds and the pregnancy and ALL sorts of wonderful news.
Sir Slaine was adamant that the kobold women were to be removed from the city, immediately. He was contemplating dissolving the party’s bondsmanship and declaring them outlaws as well. He accepted the party “donating” a large pile of coins (300 crowns) to help set up a fund for the bounty that Sir Slaine was going to enact the following day – 10 silver nobles for each pair of kobold ears. The way he explained it, every bounty hunter, ranger, manjake, bushbeater, and bullyblade from here to Seneshia would make their way to Orihalcus bringing trade, coin, and skills to hunt down and root out what K’Tharkian kobolds might be in the area, local or distant.
Our own kobold women would be given one of the party’s carts and a horse, and sent to Ponyboro with a letter from them and Sir Walter – where Lord Artis Daernhorse would find them a place to stay and gainful employment there – safely away from Orihalcus, any bounty hunter, any kobolds in the area, and mostly any temptation to seek them out.
This discussion took some time and Sir Walter asked Gwyn honestly what he thought of his decision, and the pragmatic dwarf replied after eyeing the nobleman’s sword, “To be honest with you Sir, if it was me, I’d have probably killed Karis outright for bringing me this news. No offense Karis.” Chuckle.
We left to make what arrangements were necessary to get the kobold women out of town and when Karis asked Detheron who was going to go right to Solkissa for more training if he wanted to say goodbye to them, the druid sneered and said, “I don’t give a shit. Fuck them.” You can tell he was real torn up over the entire affair (sarcasm).
And we ended it here. It’s Spirit month the 26th and we are going to get the kobold women geared up and safely away, meet with Fabambus properly and talk to the gnome about the group and where we were going to go next (There was talk of back to Fengarth’s Tower as well as Dargan’s Folley), possibly recruit in town people to come back to Dargan’s Folley to help us clear it better, and see what we can do about getting geared up for the excursion. Coruth’tae is due back in 2-3 days and he should have sold the two pieces of jewelry in Cymbarton, which would net the party some much needed funds.