Session #4: April 20th, 5:15 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Adam began the session by announcing that Aleric would no longer be a regular member of the party. He found it too difficult to be both a PC and a GM during combat without metagaming, and felt that we had proven capable and intelligent enough to survive without the ranger’s aid. In spite of some concerns about a sudden difficulty spike in upcoming encounters, the group understood his decision. Adam also announced that he would be controlling Ezzy until Brittany got home from work, and allowed me to set the stage by reading the last entry of the adventure log.
The party awoke from an uneventful night’s sleep in Fort Horizon, where they had stayed after rescuing the captured militiamen from the orcs. Peter used his personal finances and a small gift from Albricht to purchase a masterwork rapier, and the party discussed their available leads and the possibility of saving their gold to buy property or a plot of land near Westengard. As though they had voiced their desires to a genie, one of the militiamen told the party that the watch captain had a message for them. When they went to see him, he presented them with a sealed letter that had been delivered by a messenger from Westengard. The letter, which was signed with an M, advised the party to come to The Rat Hole if they were interested in a money-making opportunity.
Before the party left Fort Horizon, Aleric informed them that he would be staying behind to monitor orcish activity in the area and help the militiamen hold the fort. He graciously turned his gold over to his friends and bade them a fond farewell as they set off. They passed other rangers on the way to Westengard, which they noticed had a stronger militia presence than it did when they left. They were already starting to see the fruits of their labor.
Upon finding The Rat Hole, Himani and Peter knew that it wasn’t the sort of place where a paladin would find his welcome. Albricht and Ezzy waited outside while the two rogues entered the tavern, which was full of seedy-looking clientele. They didn’t see a bartender, so they sat down at an empty table and were approached by a friendly halfling who identified himself as Faralon and offered them drinks. The rogues, however, were thirstier for information, and Faralon was willing to slake that thirst once Peter showed him the letter from M. He led them into the cellar of The Rat Hole, where a cloaked man at a desk introduced himself as M. He greeted the visitors warmly, saying that the stories of their accomplishments had convinced him that they would be valuable allies. He wanted to help them prosper by sharing information about a plot of land, which he offered to sell them for 500 gold pieces – an investment that he assured them would pay for itself many times over.
Himani and Peter excused themselves to confer with Albricht and Ezzy. The four companions discussed M’s motives, their leverage to bargain, their need for a base of operations, and the tightness of their pursestrings before coming to a conclusion. They decided to accept M’s offer on three conditions, which Albricht summarized as “autonomy, legality, [and] frugality.” They did not want to find themselves roped into service for a man whose intentions were unclear, nor did they want to acquire their land at the cost of innocent lives or the ire of the lord governor. They also wanted to obtain the information at a discount if possible, so they met with M together to negotiate their terms. Albricht convinced him to accept 75% payment up front and the other 25% after they saw the land, which M assured them they could claim legally. 375 gold pieces bought the party a map to Cragwatch, an abandoned fortress located past Fort Horizon and the Sun’s Cradle. M invited them to explore the fortress, then return to pay the rest of his fee. He said that they could keep or sell anything they found inside except for one item: a book from the fortress’s armory. He mentioned that it was locked and bound in black and offered a substantial reward for its recovery, but would not divulge any information about its contents. Finally, M informed the party that smoke had been seen rising from the fortress, so they might have to deal with some squatters before claiming it as their own. After the meeting, Albricht visited the local Eldenari church to ask a priest about Cragwatch, but was unable to uncover any useful information. The party set out for the fortress shortly thereafter, stopping at Fort Horizon to rest for the evening.
Brittany was exhausted after getting home from work, and Adam felt ill-prepared for the party to explore Cragwatch, so we ended the session prematurely and set May 12th as the date for the next session. By away of apology for the short session, Adam invited us to send him encounter ideas to incorporate into the sessions to come. I look forward to seeing whether the players or the GM prove to be more insidious.