I’m making an effort to write up recaps of our D&D group’s adventures every week. This is also a good place for folks to talk about anything D&D or other tabletop RPG-related stuff.
For those that are interested, here’s what went down in our game last weekend.
We’re still finishing up the Lost Mines adventure, exploring the very large Wave Echo Cave. At the beginning of this week’s session, we decided to look for a defensible place to rest before attempting to fight any of the known groups of undead enemies around us. Unfortunately, those undead were between us and any known safe rooms. So we pushed into the unknown and immediately came up against a door, barricaded from the inside. We heard some voices on the other side speaking in Goblin, and decided to try a little trickery to get them to unbar and open the door. The Bard, Colfax, cast a minor illusion spell to make whoever was behind the door think the boss was outside and angry.
We were expecting a couple of goblins–what we actually got was 5 bugbears in their barracks. Battle naturally ensued, but we handled them pretty easily and decided to use the barracks as our own resting place, too. In the barracks, we also found some scraps of paper with the name of the old Forge Supervisor, Glorin Underpeak, written on them. After a brief discussion, we decided to try to impersonate the long-dead Underpeak and convince the guardian of the Forge of Spells (a seemingly automated Spectator–think the EMH doctor from Star Trek Voyager mixed with a robotic customer service telephone line, only capable of killing the whole party) that we could use the Forge to enchant our gear. Since Underpeak was evidently a dwarf, it made sense that my character, Guyryn, should be the one to do the talking. With some help from Smilla and a bit of inspiration from Colfax, we entered negotiations. At first it didn’t seem to be going our way, since Mr. Underpeak had apparently missed the last 74,000 days of work, which the guradian took offense to. But we eventually stumbled across the magic words, “I officially relieve you of duty,” and the guardian vanished. We all got to add +1 enchantments to our weapons and armor in Forge (though it’s only temporary), and Smilla also found a permanently enchanted mace and breastplate, with bonuses against undead and dragons, respectively.
An Account of the Formation and Undertaking of the Expedition to Barovia
Meeting of the British-European Railways Company Planning Commission
September 3rd, 1885
“We’ll blast here, here and here,” the dwarf said, his enormous beard brushing the map as he leaned forward, “and we should have the initial tunnels completed within—well before the turn of the century, I should think.”
“The turn of the—now, just a minute, Smith,” the human objected, shaking her head. “That’s outrageous. There must be an alternate route.”
“Yup,” said the elf, running her slender fingers around the thick arc of the mountain range. “If we run a line ’round the northern foothills, we can have it finished up within—”
“Bosh!” Smith grumbled. “Short-sighted thinking, Saguaro. That will add days to the trip. We need a direct line to Bucharest if we’re to get enough business to be profitable.”
“I agree,” the human said. “But not one that takes decades to build. What we need is a straight line that doesn’t require tunneling.”
Smith put on a look of exaggerated patience. “Well, Annie, if you can think of a way to move this mountain range out of the way, I’m all ears, but as you can see on the map, our choices are to go around it, or go straight through it.”
Anne bit her tongue to stop herself from snapping back at him. That was the problem with working with the longer-lived races; she was nearly fifty, and they still saw her as Annie, the office girl, who needed things explained to her. And why shouldn’t they? They’d been with the company since before she was born.
Instead, she pointed down at the map. “What about here?”
Smith and Saguaro leaned in.
“It looks like a pass,” Anne continued. “DRWR-11, can I get a close-up of this area? Fifty by fifty miles, please.”
The ancient warforged pressed its fountain pen to a fresh sheet of parchment and began inking. Topographic lines appeared, starting with the peaks and spreading out like puddles. In less than a minute, the machine produced a precise and perfect map.
“Looks perfectly clear to me,” Anne said, dropping the parchment on the table and giving it a tap. “We’ll run the line through this valley.”
Saguaro sighed. “Oh, Annie. That’s Barovia.”
“I know that,” Anne said, frantically searching her mind. Barovia? For once she felt lucky when Smith ignored her and launched into an explanation anyway.
“Tiny little country in the Carpathians. Backwards sort of place, you know,” Smith said. “Practically medieval. Run by a count.”
“Not a nice modern country, with a heriditary queen runnin’ the show?” Saguaro said, one corner of her thin lips turning up in a smirk.
“Hmmph,” Smith grumbled. “Americans.”
“Since I was three!” Saguaro agreed cheerfully.
“Anyway, my point is,” the dwarf explained, “Barovia is completely isolated. It has no dealings with the outside world. No, shall we say, presence on the world stage, and as far as anyone knows, no desire to change matters by running a great bloody railroad through.”
“’As far as anyone knows,’” Anne repeated. “Has anyone bothered to check?”
“Well—no,” Smith admitted. “They’re a very secretive people. But—”
“Then I propose an expedition,” Anne stated. “Let’s at least know what we’re dealing with before we write it off as a bad job.”
“She’s got ya there,” Saguaro pointed out, grinning as she slicked back her white-gold hair and long ears. “Admit it. You just want those explosions, don’tcha?”
Smith frowned. Anne spoke up hastily, “Of course, you can feel free to continue investigating other routes.”
“And if Barovia’s a bust, we can hash it out between ourselves,” Saguaro said. “Sounds fair. Don’t it, Smith?”
“Very well,” the dwarf said. “I still think the direct route—”
“One track mind,” Saguaro said. “We know. Well, all right, Annie. Go ahead and form your expedition.”
Her face took on a more serious expression.
“Just a word of advice. It’s…different, in the East.” Her voice lowered. “I wouldn’t send along anyone you’re overly partial to, if you take my meaning. Just in case.”
The Diary of Ada Rudge, Porter/Freelance Urchin
September 26 – Well here I am in on the Continent, which doesn’t stink so bad as London, at least so far. Good thing that Pa taught me how to read and write so that I could get this job keeping track of whose luggage goes where. If they just wanted someone to carry the bags I expect they never woulda picked a runt like me, but they all have such funny luggage, and some of it has to be handled in special ways, so they needed someone who could read instructions. Lucky me! It’s not just readin’, though. I still have to haul it all around. ‘Cause luck only gets you so far.
They are a very odd lot, the people I’m working for. There’s a holy man. There’s one of those magic-fingers types. There’s a halfling with a funny sort of accent I’ve never heard, and bein’ in London your hear everything. There’s a nervous boffin who seems decent enough, only I heard him havin’ a terrible argument with someone in his room, and then he came out, and there was no sign of the someone! And there’s even one of those living machines! I used to see ’em working on the docks sometimes, but I was always scared of ’em. Only this one made me a little windup man that really marches and hardly ever falls down, so I expect it’s all right. I think there’s at least one more person, ’cause I carried on their luggage and it was so heavy I think there must be a whole suit of armor in there! I ain’t met ’em yet, though.
I asked why we were goin’ all the way to Borogrovia and I guess it has something to do with buildin’ more railroads, but if you asked me I would’ve thought they were startin’ a zoo.
September 27 – This job is pretty easy so far except when we have to change trains, which we only had to do once in Munich. I got to try a sausage and the sausage man said it was genuine owlbear, which I have never had before because they are extinct in England. I wanted to see if it’d taste more like owl or bear and it wasn’t ’til I was eatin’ it I realized I ain’t ever eaten those either.
September 29 –We changed trains again in Budapest. The new one’s a lot worse. The track’s gettin’ a bit on the old side, too. I asked someone and I got told that’s cause they ain’t built the modern line out this far, and that’s the whole reason we’re goin’ out to Bronovia in the first place.
The weather’s getting bad and it rains all the time now. I like to watch it hittin’ the windows. I just about jumped out of my skin a few minutes when I looked out and saw someone standin’ in the rain, just standin’ there still as a statue in the middle of a thunderstorm!
Only the rain cleared up, and I saw one of those machine-people just standin’ on the embarkment, all rusted up to hell and still holdin’ a pick. A lot of ’em got used out here to build the first rails, and they worked and worked until they just stopped workin’. I see ’em out the window all the time now. One went by right as I was writin’ this. I expect that’s what I saw the first time, too.
October 2 – Awful busy. We got to a place where there ain’t no more rails, and now we’re goin’ on by carts, which is slower, and a lot more work. The horses ain’t half skittish. You’d think we were drivin’ em straight into a den of wolves, the way they’re acting. The big one just about kicked my head clean off. Plus the storm is coming up again.
October 6 – Stormed straight through for four days! I couldn’t write a word or this whole diary woulda blown away. I just about blew away myself. Not too much to see anyway, just rain and dark. We are finally in Barovia (I found out this the right way to spell it) not that you would know, because as soon as the storm stopped an awful mist rose up. I can tell there’s lot of pine trees though on account of I’ve walked into about half of ’em.
There’s lights up ahead which means we’re gettin’ close to a village, so I better stop now.
PS I wonder if it means anythin’ if you dream about a wolf chasin’ you?