Session 5: Downtime

Five snakes, eleven bandits, some scrolls, gems and ancient coins, and course the magic hammer—that's 3435 XP total, or 687 XP/person. Most of the party gets an adjustment of +5% (the mage, cleric and half-foot) or +10% (the dwarf and elf), but the cleric actually loses -10% for having bad WIS!

Monthly upkeep will be paid this session, a sum equal to 1% of their total XP, or 6–8 GP from each.

Day 4–8, Starforge

Not all that loot goes right to their pockets, however. The gems have to be sold, and no one here will buy scrolls or magic items out of pocket. What follows is an account of how the party's money is gained and lost over the next few days.

Dwarf Warrior, Kurosh of Fortress-Mount Dimish

It's generally agreed that their dwarf companion is the most trustworthy, knows his mineralogy, and is generally an agreeable person, so he's to find a buyer for the jewels that they took from the late Rusk's stash.

It takes several days to find a merchant who deals in these things, mainly a matter of waiting for one to ride in from the east or north. The old fellow peers at the pieces from behind a thick lens, finally resolving to pay approx. 44% of the base price, or 70 GP. Some tense haggling ensues, quibbling over the fire, impurities, possible cuts. In the end they settle on 90 GP for the three pieces, or 18 GP/person.

Medium, Mackenroe

A prestidigitator of little renown, but certainly of real magical faculty, Mackenroe is entrusted with the Locate Object scroll. As the next most personable of the adventurers, it's also become his responsibility to try and find them a locksmith, aboveboard or otherwise. For a town of barely more than five hundred souls, this is no mean task.

By the time he's done buying drinks and meals, overtipping the staff, posting notices and hiring riders to ask at outlying farms, he's down 50 GP. His efforts pay off, however, when a rogueish woman shows up at the bar with a torn-down notice asking after the would-be employer.

Mackenroe is determined to reel her in. They share a mutual dislike for parochial life. At first appraising, then serious, he finally offers her an equal share of the treasure (well above the half-shares guilds tend to negotiate for); she accepts, short of enthusiatically but willing to work. Katsun Upperill is a pig-farmer's daughter who took her old grandpa's tools and struck out on her own with no companion but a pet cricket in a cage.

Author's note: Katsun is a retainer, and thus gains 1/2 XP and is only around for as long as her loyalty checks succeed. Presently, her loyalty is slightly above average (LOY 9) due to Mackenroe's offer and his CHA bonus. She counts against his follower limit. She's a lawful LVL1 Thief with a spear, dressed in leather armour; she has a concealed potion of levitation that she keeps for emergencies.

Half-foot Warrior, Mic Lakt

Mic intends to relax, but Starforge is ill-suited to his temperament. The tavern and boarding house, the "Leaping Devil", is set back off the north road, catering mostly to travellers breaking off east or west or returning north, and it has a large yard that's usually occupied by merchants' tents. A dovecote stands at the edge of the yard.

Inside, the taproom is decorated with quaintly painted plates; a corner is taken up by a small library; and a tall board stands to one side for knife-throwing. The food isn't bad: smoked sausages, a kind of bisque with stewed crayfish and millet, and even a rich drink made with ground almonds and sugar. And yet, Mic Lakt is left wanting.

Leaning against the fence at the end of the yard, he spies a man running with his dog down the main road. A poor specimen, by his appraisal: Mic Lakt fancies himself a keen judge of hounds, and his interest in animal husbandry, especially dogs, has been stirred. Soon, he's wandering the village, sneaking glances at the locals' dogs. Finally, he turns to the crumbling ruin of a castle that overlooks Starforge. It's known that no lord resides there now, but he's been told the castellan, who presides over the village headsmen, still keeps the land worked and even hunts in the woods and hills beyond.

The castellan, Master Podin, receives Mic as a guest, and they're soon engaged in easy conversation about the estate, the village, and of course his hunting dogs. The castellan dislikes hearing about Mic Lakt's companions, though; unlike the townsfolk, Podin seems to have soured pre-emptively on the band of treasure-hunters—save for Mic himself, it seems.

Red God Acolyte, Cynewyn

The party's cleric yearns for a sliver of the divine strength promised to her, now more than ever, but no such revelation has come. It's time to offer sacrifice to the powers of Chaos, and so she buys a fine big cow from the butcher and has it slaughtered. "Feed and grow," says the Red God.

But at the end of the feasting, nothing has changed.

Elf Hero, Luinecel

"Bluethorn", as the villagers know him, is largely idle, but he does buy some choice jewelry and garments from the merchants who stop at the crossroads. While reading and taking his meals at the tavern, he overhears a rumour about "sudden raids". Pressing the issue, he discovers it's in fact wolf attacks on the highway east, much more coordinated than a pack's hunting would be.

Bluethorn's magic hammer also demands some attention. Starforge is named for its crater, where meteoric iron was scavenged, and it hosts a local cult centered on the site. There is a crude wooden shelter built nearby, and inside, a twisted mass of serpents. The snake cult of Starforge feeds it, and its chorus of hisses harmonize to sound like human speech. On certain nights, strange constellations of stars appear; the observances of these are holy days.

Bluethorn ventures out at night to meet it. The entrance to the snake pit is like a mine. Venturing downwards, he sits at the edge of the deep, round pit and carves off slivers of meat to toss in. The villagers say the god of the snakes is wise to the world of beasts as well as to magic; he tosses one sliver of meat in and asks what stirs in the eastern woods. The snakes answer that it's a devilish greatwolf, possessed by wrath. He tosses in another and asks what the nature of the magic hammer is. The snakes answer that it's an instrument that can hew the flesh of giants and topple them, but it would take the strength of one to wield it thusly.