I've played in games where travel from one place to another is just a few sentences and I've played in games where the entire night is a slog fest where the DM is rolling rolling rolling behind his screen to check for what type of birds are keeping us up at night and the quantity of the horse droppings on the road.
I like a mix - brush past the generic junk and slow down on the interesting parts. I have gone back and forth over the last 3 decades over weather in my games - and sometimes I had a tendency to forget about it.
In this game I was reminded early on (especially with a druid in the group) to reflect it in the game and have been pretty true on checking. Simple roll: 1-3 Sunny, 4-6 cloudy, 7-9 precipitation, 10 Special weather. And I also do a temp check: Winter is 30, spring/fall is 55, summer is 80 - modified by a roll on the D6: 1 is -15, 2 is -10, 3-4 is within 5 of normal, 5 is +10, 6 is +15 degrees. Its short, sweet, and simple and I can play or modify the results as needed.
During the game I had rolled swiftly during the party's trek (which is normally 3 days by cart/wagon/caravan) and immediately rolled a 10. It's winter. So I went with Blizzard. A short roll on a couple of d10's had 19" of snow due to fall. And every day's weather check (5 more days!) after that was either sunny and bitterly cold, or more damned snow!
Except for the day the temp rose to about 35 and it was sleet and freezing rain - on 2 plus feet of accumulated snow.
Sometimes the weather witch (inside joke) affects the gaming group as much as it affects the real world.
Write up follows:
On the morning of the 5th of Deathmonth the party was gathered at the common room of the Adventurer's Guild, discussing not only the upcoming assault against T'Nagrath the Forest Troll at Fengarth's Tower, but also our return to Dargan's Folley and the dangers we would be facing there.
Fabambus grew quite animated at the table, questioning the group's acumen and paucity concerning the cheap way we resolved to take care of the Forest Troll. Foregoing a Lightning Bolt spell in favor of a Shocking Grasp just seemed ludicrous. The gnome just did not feel it was safe or prudent and suggested that we go to the local sage and discuss the matter with him. Coruth'tae was loathe to shell out the sage's fee (since we had talked to him over a month earlier) and opted instead to go to the library in order to find some information there – and Detheron was going to join him, but to instead learn about gnolls and their skills and weaknesses since we would be encountering them again soon.
Hours passed and the party spent much time talking and reading and checking – but it was Fabambus who ended up discovering the same crucial bit of information that the party had already learned before but had forgotten – although Forest Trolls are weak against electrical discharges, even falling fatal to them – it would take a concentrated electrical current aimed at the beast's heart to slay it.
A single electrical blast of some magnitude.
Most likely beyond that of a single Shocking Grasp spell.
So now the group had to think, what to do next? We could buy one, but it would cost 1,000 crowns and the party began piling their monies together – having just enough to pay for a scroll. After that there were some small issues to wrap up but it was already after 3 so leaving town today was frowned upon and we made plans to leave tomorrow on the 6th.
We slept well but the sky was grey and clouds low and the snow we expected began to fall after we left Cymbarton. As we traveled on it grew worse and there was talk of turning back to wait it out – but we instead sheltered at some trees for a spell. When enough time had passed and the accumulating snow showed no sign of letting up, we opted to press on to Ponyboro. Normally Ponyboro is a day and a half from Cymbarton by caravan/wagon and we anticipated some delay.
The storm grew worse and we rested after the sun had set, eating what food we had and stoking a fire to keep us and our mounts warm. The night passed and the following day there was now 2 feet of snow on the ground. Happy that we had the skis on the wagon, we pressed on – fighting through the drifts through muscle and straining effort. Endurance spells were doled out to help stave off the worst of the cold. Another inch of flurries fell but we stayed the course. We rested that night (the 8th) already past the point when we should be at Ponyboro. Some strange calls and screeches were heard in the night sky but nothing came of it.
The next morning met us with biting cold and 15 degree temperatures, and wind gusts up to 30 mph that blew the snow into large 3 and 4' drifts. Endurance spells were renewed and the mounts were treated carefully as we made our way southwest. It was a miserable trip and the sun was beginning to set when we came over the low hills and saw Ponyboro at long last. We made sure our horses were stabled and Fabambus was impressed with the Rampant Griffon – suggesting strongly that we stay there. Chuckle.
Rooms were gotten along with hot meals and strong drink. And while the group was bedding down, Karis wanted to go to the Silverbough Demesne to talk to the lord about getting back our cart and two mountain ponies that had gone with the kobold women Ilva, Hrundi, and Bara when they came here. Some of the party told him to let it go, but the templar wanted to get them back. Coruth'tae offered to go with him and they went off to the Silverbough's.
They met with Lord Healy and his adjunct Steward Thanis – the two of them willing to entertain the half-ogre and grey elf. The Sundered Chains were spoken of highly and looked on with some thanks for their efforts in exposing the Lycos Suns and stopping the theft of the children some months ago. Plus the appearance of the kobold women, the letters from Sir Walter and the respect shown by Lord Daernhorse all paved the way for a smooth meeting.
It went well enough but the half elven lord and the steward informed the group that the ponies and cart had been gifted to the Silverbough Demesne by Lord Daernhorse to help pay for the family in housing the kobolds and employing them – especially since they lost willing tenants who refused to live and work near them. So there was going to be no return of the ponies or cart – the group didn't own them. Coruth'tae and Karis tried a bit harder but the Silverbough's weren't really inclined to budge and suggested that they could take it up with Lord Daernhorse if they wanted to. Figuring out the truth of it, they got the hint and left after thanking them and went back to the Rampant Griffin to sleep.
The next day was the 9th and it was 30 degrees and had low clouds – grey and heavy. More snow coming. Do they stay in Ponyboro or take their chances? The party went back and forth on it (Fabambus and Detheron opting to stay, Karis and Coruth'tae opting to go, Gwyn willing to stay if Karis paid his bar bill) but decided to chance the road.
We went on but with the large drifts and difficult travels lost the road a few times, Detheron doing all he could to keep us heading on. Endurance spells were given out again and we rode on – until MORE snow fell! Miserable and cold and surly, there was little conversation that night over the cold rations. In fact as far as firewood was concerned, they found little of it – Detheron asking Frey for the ability to stretch out the life and longevity of the burning fire.
The next day was just cold. Biting and 10 degrees. The Dusty Mountains rose on our right and the foothills dropped to our left as we moved on slowly. Our food stores were getting low and it only served to aggravate the party more. There was a passing shadow and we beheld a draconic figure fly overhead, 40' wing span and long waving tail. Wyvern. It gave the group a single look and then flew off. Lovely.
There was no firewood to be found that night and the party was treated to a falling rain. Cold sleeting rain. It soaked into our clothes and our bedrolls and made the road for the next day a disgusting mess. Coruth'tae and one of the horses were growing ill on the next day and after some time Detheron removed disease on both of them. We were so tired. And so cold. And so wet. And we just wanted to get home. And it was the 3rd day of travel and almost twice as long as needed to get home. The wyvern came back, dipping lower, and giving the group two passes before flying off.
We grew desperate and we grew sloppy. As we were riding in the fading dusk and pressing on, Detheron lost sight of the road and control of the team. They began to slide off the road to the left, a 50 degree slope over 200' down. The party jumped off but the druid stayed, hands wrapped around the reins as he ached to turn the horses back from the sliding slope. Karis tried to cut him free but couldn't get a grip and the 4 horses, wagon, and Detheron rode over the side of the cliff.
The two lead horses were twisted and over run, legs breaking and whinnying screams filling the air. The wagon picked up speed and the traces snapped, the driving yoke spearing another horse as the entire wagon lifted and ran over the tumbling steeds. Detheron tried to ride the sleigh down the hill but as it lost control and began to flip wildly, he jumped free. The buckboard slammed into his neck and back and he cart wheeled down the rest of the hill, his belongings flying wildly free until he came to a pain filled stop amidst the wreckage.
The sun was setting and the group did not have enough rope to get down and help. Light was fading fast and was there a wyvern nearby? Detheron could not climb back up the hill and there were horses dead and dying halfway down.
It was decided at long last that Karis would take his and Gwyn's mining pick, sit on his shield, and ride it down to the horse, stopping there to put the animals out of their misery if it was obvious that he couldn't save or heal them. He did so, ending the animals' pain until continuing the slide to the bottom. Once there he helped Detheron get himself healed and the two of them went through the wreckage of the wagon, salvaging what they could. Then it was a climb up the hill to Detheron's spilled backpack where they looked for all he had carried – finding most of it, a few items lost forever in the snow.
With no light and sleeting rain still falling, it was time to finish the climb back to the other party members. Karis hacked his way up the icy slop with the two picks, Detheron used a Spider Climb spell to facilitate it. Once together we slogged on slow and cold and hungry to the gates of Orihalcus.
We checked in and went to our home where we saw the repairs had been done. We changed out of our cold and wet clothes and had nothing to eat in the house – opting to go to the Blue and Dancing Minepick where we would sit with Fabambus and talk. But the gnome was very dissatisfied with the party. He felt they were foolish and reckless, not enough sense to take care of themselves. Anyone who would be with them would be at risk and most likely not come back. And he did not want to have anything to do with them or their adventure or anything. He took his brandy and went up to his room and the party was stunned.
Gwyn and Detheron understood the gnome's frustration and there was talk – we had lost our way, our edge, since we had taken down the Lycos Suns. Something about our party was no longer as tight and capable as it used to be. And the gnome could see this. Karis and Coruth'tae offered to go talk to Fabambus and try to convince him to come with them tomorrow.
They were less than diplomatic in their conversation and the gnome was unmoved and wanted nothing to do with them. They left disgusted and went back home telling the druid and the dwarf that they would do it without the gnome. Meanwhile Sheriff Phozarn had shown up and the party had agreed that they would be leaving on the morning after tomorrow.
Plans were changed to leave on the morrow and not bring the Sheriff who Karis felt would try to attack him while outside the jurisdiction of the city. We slept and the next day Detheron spoke more about Fabambus and what the knight and illusionist had said to him – unhappy with their efforts. Not once did they apologize. They were arrogant and unyielding. He offered to go talk, taking Gwyn with him.
Fabambus was willing to listen and was moved by the conversation and the heartfelt apology. They spoke at length and the gnome agreed to go with the party on two caveats: 1) the party would have to listen to his ideas instead of just brushing them off (he had been an adventuring party leader for 2 years without a single death or mishap) and 2) he would get first dibs on any magical item they found while at the tower. Anything. Detheron and Gwyn agreed and the gnome got his stuff ready.
Upon explaining their efforts to the other two, there was much anger – from Coruth'tae. Expecting to find the Staff of Power at some point, he didn't want the gnome to come. There was much talking and eventually Fabambus showed up and the deal was unchangeable – take it or leave it. We needed him more than he needed us – and we agreed.
And that's where we left it. It is Deathmonth the 12th about 10:00 and we had snowshoes and were on our way to the lift to start the trek to Fengarth's Tower (4 hours overland normally).