The uncivilized section of the wandering monster table is a beast and the party had three serious contenders: trolls (3), Frost Giant (1), and owlbears (3).
For outdoor adventures, I give the group a chance to hear the quarry first, giving them a chance to stop. They succeeded two of the three times and were able to hide at first. The trolls miserably failed to scent or notice the group but I did manage to freak the party out since I split the trio of trolls up into a long line, separating the lead troll from the next two by almost 250'.
The giant actually belongs in the area and his presence might be explained and make sense later, right now he was merely offering some food to the K'Morat and moved on. I gave a check for him, rolling a 1, meaning the giant fumbled on even knowing the party was there.
During the night, a skunk came to root around the party's trash and food, eventually chased away but did spray one of the sleeping party members. So when at 4 in the morning I rolled ANOTHER wandering monster and it was owlbears, three - I had them attack and eat the skunks - getting the musk all over them.
This deadened their sense of smell but could still hear the party if they were noisy - and they were - but a poor roll (6 out of 20) had the owlbears not be able to pinpoint on where the group is and they wandered off.
Any one of these three encounters could have chased the party off and/or killed them. And that's why it is INFINITELY better to sleep and camp out in a green slime infested stone building than try to get a night's rest under the stars.
Write up follows:
So it was Firemonth the 7th and we were at some ancient orcish stone house sinking slowly into the shores and surface of a mountain lake about 4 miles from Base Camp where Avulstein’s zombie bobcat had just been eaten by a green slime. It was raining…hard, and the group was discussing whether to stay here, continue on, or head back to Base Camp and try again tomorrow.
The consensus was to stay and if the K’Morat come back, to ambush them. But how to be prepared? There are no windows on the lower floor, and the upper floor had the slime. So someone would have to wait outside, in the rain. We went through options and then Avulstein gave vote to having Centius wait and warn us, his zombie familiar.
However, even after he was outside he couldn’t think of a safe enough place for him to wait and hide, and there are other things besides kobolds out here. So he came back in and the decision was we’d just stay inside and hope for the best. Negan hacked apart the one couch still together on the main floor and once stripped, took out the main crosspiece to act as a locking bar for the main door.
Safely in place, we settled down, talked for a while, ate and then by 6, we all went to sleep, everyone taking a turn on a 2 hour watch. The night passed without much issue and we awoke early the next day, out and on the way by quarter to 6, as the dawn light was filling the world.
Barb took point and we followed the trail to the south and west until around 7, Barb wasn’t sure we were on the K’Morat trail anymore, so we backtracked until she was confident again and we set off, going up one ridge line and leaving the lake and lakehouse behind us. As we were still coming down the heights and making headway, a few of us heard rhythmic grunting and stepping in the woods ahead.
We stopped, hid, and waited. Watching. An 8’ tall green wrinkled sodden looking humanoid with greasy hair and makeshift clothes was stomping along, holding a brace of rabbits and a crude bow. Troll, big and nasty. We didn’t want to tangle with it and waited. It passed by and then two more came out of the woods, a branch with a deer on it, head removed. The two trolls yelled to the front one and they argued in their language before picking up speed and chasing after the leader.
Three trolls. No thanks.
Once they were long passed, we continued down until we were at the foothills and base of the mountain ridge we had come down. We noticed that there was a large meadow of grasses around here and up ahead, a couple of hundred acres or so, broken up by fallen and standing copses of trees. Darius’ keen eyes picked up a flash of blue ahead and we approached with care.
A fox, the size of a small pony, royal blue and white in color, sporting two tails. Mutated animal. It was then we also realized that we hadn’t heard much in the way of nearby game or animals, signs that Hornes had given us as being near a K’Morat Warren. The fox had been killed, dead for a week, smashed along its flank by a number of hurled 6-8# rocks. No maggots or flies meant it was just rotting away.
It was here that we spread out to a long line, running 10 paces between us and we started to look for the Warren. Barb was guiding us, the half-orc barbarian’s keen eye and insight picking up clues in the trees and grasses. There were many signs that kobolds had been in the area and we worked our way south across the meadows, hoping to find some cave in the southern foothills. But as we travelled on, game returned and Barb saw no sign of K’Morat again so we went back to the meadow.
It took almost 2 hours of circling and searching, but Barb discovered a cave entrance under the roots of a fallen Douglas Fir tree in a meadow of 3’ tall bladegrass. The entrance was a mass of earth and stones, and hundreds of bones and splintered pieces. Many animals, some humanoid. The place stunk of scratched copper and dirty cinnamon – classic scents of kobolds.
We didn’t want to enter now, hoping to get a better lay of how many kobolds were within, so we travelled a bit away to another fallen tree, hid behind it and waited. Time passed. And as it grew closer to 6, outside of possibly setting the bladegrass on fire (it was raining on and off and truthfully, a wave of fire on an open meadow was not a good idea – firenado?), we realized that we needed to get away from here and get a camp set up.
So Barb led us south to the foothills and was hoping to take us west when the group heard and felt heavy slow steps, shaking the earth. We stopped and hid, crouching in the dark as the heavy tread grew closer, cracking branches and making some of the not too distant trees shake. And then the air grew colder, dropping 20 degrees swiftly. We heard a ripping sound and Barb’s infravision picked up the hot signs of half a cow flying far overhead and tossed into the field of bladegrass.
Half a cow.
And then, the other half of cow went flying overhead and after a few moments, the heavy tread of a giant was walking away into the night. Giant. Fucking giant. Feeding K’Morat a cow?
We got the hell out of here, travelling more west until Barb assured us we were in the foothills of a ridge and very far away from Giants and K’Morat warrens. Taking Trentis’ advice from our trip out here, we lit no fires, ate a cold meal, and set up watch for the night, as the rains fell making everyone miserable.
A skunk came to investigate the party, smelling our food but on Connal’s watch he hurled some rocks and chased it off. And then later on Barb’s watch the skunk returned and sprayed Negan, but she chased it off. But it was later on Darius’ watch that we heard the “HRROOOO-HAAA!” noise and call of the owlbear who had found a skunk and tore it apart, eating it. Three of them.
We all were up and waiting but the owlbears had skunk on their faces and couldn’t smell the party so they wandered off into the darkness. Darius offered to stay up longer and the group went back to sleep. The next morn we were up at 7 and even though we had slept, Darius and Barb were feeling tired and the rigors of the poor sleep, wet clothes, middle watches, and being on guard was taking a toll on the two of them. They were not going to be at 100% today.
We broke our fast and headed back to the K’Morat warren, arriving in the area around 10. The cow carcass? Gone, only blood smears and chunks of meat. We approached the lair and saw lots of cow bones splintered and gnawed added to the entrance area.
It was time to enter. At the lair, Darius used his silk rope (not poor people rope! That’s hemp and is too scratchy) tied to the roots of the tree and with that aid, Barb descended into the gloomy earth cave. It was just under 5’ wide and was about 6’ tall, but the further she went down the slope and eventually under the ground, the lower the ceiling until it was just over 5’ tall…cramped for most of us.
The reek of feces was strong and she crept along until she came up a residual fading heat source that indicated that K’Morat HAD been here only a few minutes ago and had moved on elsewhere. She returned to the slope, climbed up, and let us know her findings. We were going to go down, Negan at the back, and take care to look about. So one by one, we slid down the slope, the rope helping, until even Negan, making a whole lot of racket joined us and we all gathered together following Barb. A light spell had been cast on the center of Centius’ shield and for now that would illuminate our way, easily covered if Barb needed to use her infravision.
We travelled along until the corridor split into three – straight ahead, right, or left, each running some 20 paces before turning. Barb checked left and right, hearing nothing much, and then returned, and we decided to travel straight instead. So she stepped ahead.
Her booted feet snapped a tripwire and 250# of ceiling deadfalled on top of the half-orc, knocking her to her knees. Connal went to help her us when the two of them noticed amidst the filth were some scores of bugs beetles and almost half a dozen foot long centipedes – slithering under her hair line, neck of her armor, and upon her back. Before they could bite, Negan called to Odin to banish the vermin from the area and the bugs all popped away to ash and dust.
Connal helped Barb up, dusted her off and we decided we would be more careful of traps ahead in the future. Any stealth we might have had was now long gone between the noises entering the cave, the conversations, the falling deadfall trap, and then coughing and sputtering that follows. So it was weapons out and backs squared as we followed Barb’s lead as she took us boldly down the main central corridor.