Lost Mine of Phandelver
Meet Up 7 (26 Apr 2015)
Upon returning to Phadalin, Taklann was still not to be found. While his absence wasn’t overly surprising, O’Dell and Klang exchanged a glance of worry. That makes two magic casters gone, both seemingly gone without much warning.
At least this time, they had Taklann’s apprentice Kandul…who had been accused of murder. Things just keep getting better and better.
After speaking with Kandul, the party learned that after he had shaken off his madness, he went in search of Taklann. He managed to learn of Taklann’s whereabouts and set out for Phandalin. On the road south of Kryptgarden Forest, he was set upon and knocked out. When he woke, he was dressed in a red shirt with blood splattered across it and some dead humans next to him. When he started to stumble away, he was set upon again, only this time by some human woodsmen who hauled him into Phandalin’s jail. That’s all he remembers.
During his ramblings, the party got the distinct impression he was still not quite right in the head. Surely the knock on the head didn’t help. It would do him good to spend some time in relative safety to collect his thoughts. Perhaps spending time with Taklann will help his recovery. We’d have to talk to many others to shore up Kandul’s story.
After only a few minutes, Harbin Wester (the town master) asked that the party leave – a long visit would invite questions and cast doubt over the party’s impartiality during the investigation. He suggested the party talk to the Sister Garaele as she has familiarity with parts of Kryptgarden Forest and some centaur who live there. He also confirmed that Kandul was found without any money, which didn’t make any sense.
He noted that the red shirt has the town blaming the party for not actually ridding the them of the Redbrands and instead helping them just move to a safer location. O’Dell assured Harbin that the party would get to the bottom of this mystery and deal with any the Redbrands we come across. When Klang asked about potential remuneration, Harbin offered 100 gold for dispatching the remaining Redbrands.
Given Harbin’s questionable ability to govern and our lower status amongst the town folk, O’Dell voiced concern about Kandul not receiving a fair trial and mentioned possibly sending a message to the Lord’s Alliance in Neverwinter for a justicier. Harbin suggested O’Dell talk to Sildar instead.
Finding Sildar at the Stonehill Inn, O’Dell moved off with Sildar for a private discussion while Klang and Valin were left to deal with female gnome bard – Prumorel Smilebeard – who claimed to be a wanderer and was eager to hear our tales so she could craft a song. Outlining the basics, they pointed her to Pip and Carp to fill in the details.
Klang, seeking escape from the bard, moved to sit down with Daran Edermath. Daran made small talk until O’Dell joined them. He then mentioned that he’d heard rumor of a tomb of an elemental conjurer, somewhere between Agatha’s area in the woods and Cragmaw Castle. While certainly nothing urgent, it certainly might be worth a look for successful adventurers like the Goblin Stompers. It seems the party name was starting to catch on, although the tag line “Everything’s an Asset” was not nearly as intimidating yet.
When we mentioned likely having to venture to the Kryptgarden Forest, he also suggested we talk with Sister Garaele (seems to be common knowledge). And it was right about then that the gnome bard started into a very familiar tale, but one that was a lot less positive than we remembered.
Daran quickly noted that the proprietor of the Sleeping Giant Tap House left town, citing her own safety as the primary concern, but certainly the loss she had taken probably was equally motivating. He noted that the new owners ran an edgy outfit, attracting an even worse, if slightly more lawful, crowd.
Valin, also seeking to avoid the gnome bard, had seen Qelline and made for her table. They relished the time spent talking, mostly because there were so few like them in town – those more in-tune with nature – and more than a little mutual attraction. She cautioned Valin that the centaurs in the forest may not be his foes. She worried the dwarves may be a little trigger happy when it comes to such things.
With their bellies once again full and sleeping arrangements made (Valin stayed in Qelline’s barn and the dwarves at the Stonehill Inn), they set out to talk to a few others in town. It was right about then they realized Kevin was missing. Damn slippery human!
Last we saw him was when we left the town master – he must have decided to bow out of trying to save the half-crazed dwarf or perhaps decided to find some solace from his fireball ordeal in the lap of a pretty lass and/or the bottom of a glass. Either way, he’s was missing and we’d need to press on as time was of the essence.
The next morning, O’Dell and Valin headed to the temple of luck while Klang headed to the local blacksmith. Klang would catch up with them at the temple.
Klang met with the blacksmith, Ulfgar Bartreson. He was a bald man with singed beard, and very full of himself despite his short stature as humans go. Klang negotiated for a steel holy symbol of Marthamoor Duin to be fashioned. Strangely, Ulfgar offered many different metals, including mithril?! And boasted that there “was nothing I can’t repair”.
Klang knowing he would not tolerate this fool for long, quickly made the arrangements (half now, half upon delivery) and was out of the man’s presence. Another five minutes of that kind of boasting would have Klang questioning his good alignment.
O’Dell and Valin had a better experience with Sister Garaele, her calming tones and attractive demeanor were a welcome change. She noted that she was acquainted with the centaurs of Kryptgarden Forest, but they were not necessarily friends of the party and offered to broker a conversation between the two. She mentioned needing to talk with the centaurs for other reasons and would appreciate the escort. In exchange, she might call on a favor from the party in the future. That seemed acceptable to avoid unnecessary conflict.
O’Dell asked what she knew about James Stout. She noted that he was a good person to do business with, always upfront with full payment. He was also a patron of the temple. O’Dell, eager to establish ties with local leaders, offered 50 gold as a donation to the temple. Klang gave a less than happy look, but nodded. Sister Garaele accepted the donation readily.
The party suggested departing in a few hours, around noon. Sister Garaele agreed and the party departed to see one James Stout.
The party met him at his modest cabin on the edge of town. Upon entering, it became obvious he was a man of means. The well furnished decor exceeded what the outside of the building suggested. Klang noted to O’Dell that this wealth rivaled an adventuring party’s and suspected something more was afoot.
We explained we were investigating the death of his woodsmen. He noted that he lost 3 good woodsmen, which would devastate his business. James expressed his own doubts about Kandul’s involvement and the circumstances of his lost woodsmen.
Since it was also some of his other woodsmen who were first on the scene, the party was curious what they reported seeing and where they found Kandul. He noted the location on map and that his woodsmen reported seeing a masked horse rider galloping off as they arrived. It was a horse with unusual natural markings (sword shaped color pattern with white stars over it), one he thinks he’s seen at the Miner’s Exchange.
As a result, James believed it was a miner and offered 200 gold if we brought them to justice. After more questioning, James noted it was odd that Kandul had no money, all three of the woodsmen’s horses were missing, as were their axes and the 400 gold they had received as payment.
The location was south of the road that travels along the Kryptgarden Forest, quite some ways away. James explained that most of his business is harvesting specialty lumber and then delivering it to various nearby cities. Only small amount returns to Phandalin as little such lumber is needed here. This particular batch was coming from Red Larch, quite a ride from Phandalin.
O’Dell asked who would know of the timing and destination of their travels? James said the coster, provisioner and those at the miner’s exchange would all know as they are usually the first stop when leaving from and arriving in town.
When pressed for how the woodsmen were killed, James confirmed it was with sword, arrow and ax. So this was not some wild creature or magical attack. As for any relations the slain woodmen had in town, only Corien had made ties with one of the local prostitutes (named Vivian) at the Sleeping Giant Tap House, now under new management.
O’Dell asked that if James thinks of any thing else to inform Sildar, explaining that Sildar would likely preside over the case.
Leaving James and seeking out Pip and Carp, the party offered them 1 gold if they would keep an eye out for the horse with the strange markings and to report back about who rides it and it’s whereabouts.
Next stop was the Lionshield Coster to sell off the weapons and armor found while clearing the mine. Speaking with Linene Graywind, the party received the same description of James Stout – regular customer, pays up front, good business partner. She questioned the party about possibly escorting one of her shipments to a keep northwest of Phandalin. It is due to ship out in the next few weeks and wants to make sure it arrives safely. O’Dell gladly accepted the opportunity, although there was no discussion about renumeration. The party left one of its two wagons and horses with the coster as they would be traveling light and possibly into the Kryptgarden Forest.
When asked about the Elmer Barthan, she said she really liked Elmer. His business complimented hers and she always felt he traded fairly with her. However, Halia Thornton was a little more aggressive in her business dealings and her aspirations. Halia wanted to run the town and, while adhering to the law, she always tilted her business dealings in her favor.
As they left the coster, Valin commented that Qelline has a guest who is looking for safe passage to Port Llast, which is also northwest of Phadalin. It might make sense to kill two birds with one stone. The dwarves agreed. Stretching our legs a bit after all this local intrigue would help clear our minds. Valin described the guest as a human named Pate “Patchy” Nighthill, the brother of Port Llast’s leader.
Then it was onto Barthan’s Provisions where Elmer gave us the same description of James Stout. The party gave the list of provisions needed to Elmer and that we’d need them in a few hours.
Both Linene and Elmer reported that business has certainly picked up with the Redbrands driven out of town. At least until the recent woodsmen incident, which has the town a little on edge.
That just left the last person of interest, this Vivian at the Sleeping Giant Tap House. Only slightly disappointed that the previous proprietor had left (mostly because she was a dwarf), the party made their way to the newly remodeled dive bar.
Upon entering, it was obvious that while the interior had been dramatically renovated, it remained a gutter for the locals. When greeted by the new elven proprietor named Delphine, the dwarves left the talking to Valin.
They learned of Esburn, the halfing who ran the gambling pit, and Aludian, the human “manager” of the prostitutes. A half-orc served as the bouncer. O’Dell knew this was no place for a paladin and said he’d wait outside.
Valin spoke with Aludian and inquired about Vivian. There were two girls available – Vivian Ward and Plucky Pinchbottom. After some negotiation about what services were being requested, Valin finally gave him a gold piece for some time with Vivian.
Vivian Ward was a lass from a few miles outside of Phandalin. It was a hard life and she saw no future in it for herself. Since moving to Phandalin, she has been plying her services to the towns folk, but found that sex services paid better.
She saw Corien as her escape from this life into one of ease. Corien had a head for numbers and an eye for specialty woods, and was paid handsomely. He would have been a good provider, if only he hadn’t been killed by that damn dwarf!
Valin’s conversation with Vivian went downhill from there and he learned little else worthy of note.
Klang had moved wandered over to a dwarf passed out at a table. Lifting his head and dropping it, he received no response. The half-orc said to leave “Emory” alone as he needed the sleep.
So Klang sallied up to the bar where a gnome was working on something. He learned that the gnome – named Herder – was injured in a rock fall and broke his leg. He’s been holed up here for the past few weeks recovering. He was working on a time keeping device and makes gadgets for a living.
Their conversation was interrupted by a halfling bard named Sven who was singing about how the Goblin Smashers were tight with their coin. In an effort to improve the party’s reputation, Klang donated a silver piece to the bard and then walked out with Valin before the patrons found any more ways to relieve the party of their coin. When did all these bards roll into town anyway?
While standing outside, O’Dell was staring at his ax and had an idea, perhaps divinely inspired, that he kept to himself when Valin and Klang joined him. They discussed what Valin had learned from Vivian. They were curious who was acquiring such specialty wood and had such coin to pay for it. These buyers would know of the woodsmens’ whereabouts and that they carried substantial coin, making them prime suspects. So back to James Stout’s cabin they went.
When asked about who was buying these goods, James explained that his men sold them at market in Red Larch to many buyers. They were purchased for furnishing temples, boxes for fruit (certain woods discouraged mold growth and insects), ship making (rot resistant woods), smaller diameter woods for medicinal purposes, and yet others that resist lightning strikes. James commented that there have been strange things happening in Red Larch, but did not elaborate.
He did further detail the team of woodsmen who were killed – one was a good archer, another was athletic and good with an ax, while the third (Corien) was good at numbers and could keep a good accounting of what they harvested and sold.
Noticing it was nearing noon, it was time to meet up with Sister Garaele and the party hastily departed. They stopped at Barthan’s Provisions to pick up their traveling supplies and then headed out of town with Sister Garaele.
Valin suggested to the dwarves that he do the talking as he could speak Sylvan, the native language of the centaurs. As a ranger, he also had a certain affinity with the creatures that might result in a more positive outcome. Klang shrugged and looked at O’Dell. O’Dell laughed and patted Klang on the shoulder, saying that Valin had more than earned the dwarves’ trust and that this was surely a good plan. Valin was relieved – there’s nothing more precarious than smelly dwarves talking smack with woodland creatures.
After only an hour or so of travel, she asked that they stop and stay here while she ventured into the forest saying she would bring the centaurs to us. Only a few minutes passed and she emerged with a few centaurs. The centaurs were obviously glad to see Sister Garaele, but were more wary of the party casting a jaundice eye towards the dwarves.
As they approached the wagon, a few more centaurs appeared near the forest’s edge. O’Dell counted at least 10 and was thankful the Sister had offered to help. The Sister introduced Delpious, leader of the centaur pride, who was more than happy to talk with Valin in Sylvan. And so the whimsical chatter began, lilting voice back and forth.
Klang’s eyes started to glaze over and almost nodded off. O’Dell elbowed him, suggesting he get the water skin from the back of the wagon to keep from falling asleep. Not one to let a well deserved slight go unrewarded, Klang made sure to spill a little of the water down O’Dell’s neck and under his armor on his way back. O’Dell grabbed the water skin from Klang and told him to stay in the back of the wagon…you know, to keep an eye on things. O’Dell was just hoping Klang wouldn’t completely embarrass the both of them, bumbling cleric.
As suddenly as it had started, the talking ended with Valin make a gesture to the smiling Delphious. Things must have gone well, or so O’Dell hoped. Sister Garaele continued talking with Delphious as they walked to the forest, then she returned as the centaurs disappeared into the forest.
Valin was explaining what he learned. It seems the centaurs knew of the Redbrand’s camp, its location, and their approximate number (30 humans). O’Dell questioned how they came by this information? Valin relayed that centaur often speak with their fellow fey in the forest, and bad news travels fast.
Digesting this information, the party decided there was no better time to investigate this Redbrand camp. O’Dell thanked Sister Garaele and explained that we would not be returning to town. She had traveled this way many times and said she could manage. O’Dell lent her a healing potion just in case.
And so they parted ways, the party to the Redbrand camp and Sister Garaele on foot back to Phandalin. There was still many hours of daylight left and no time to waste if they were to clear Kandul’s and the party’s reputations.
When they reached the point where they had to enter the forest, they parked the wagon and horse just inside the trees for cover with enough feed to keep the horse from wandering off. Valin scouted ahead while the dwarves slowly made their way forward only when Valin signaled it was safe to do so. As they neared a fork in the road, Valin flashed a signal to stop and disappeared into the woods.
When he reappeared, he was much closer and whispered that there were at least three Redbrands to one side of the road, and likely others on the other – an ambush. A hastily crafted plan had Klang and O’Dell positioned by two trees. Valin was to draw them out and between the two trees, essentially ambushing the Redcloaks.
It worked on the first few, but then it quickly dissolved when more came out of the woods further down for a total of ten. Valin used his ranged attacks while O’Dell and Klang kept the front lines tied up in melee. When their numbers began to dwindle and some made a run for it, Klang used the wand of magic missiles to keep them from escaping.
The party managed to take two prisoners, from whom they learned that Halia Thornton was their leader, informing them when high value shipments would be passing through. They confirmed there were another 20 human Redbrands in camp just down the road. Halia had warned them that the party would be coming and to set an ambush for them.
They also confessed to capturing Kandul and framing him for the woodsmen murders. Halia was present to make sure they didn’t screw it up and she put the knife to one of the woodsmen herself. She made sure the dwarf was covered in their blood and that we were quickly gone from the scene. They confirmed the horse with the unusual natural markings was the horse she rode to and from the scene.
O’Dell pressed them into agreeing to confess the same to the authorities in Phandalin. It was only a few hours back to Phandalin with the humans bound and gagged, but the party skirted the town and quietly approached James Stout’s cabin at dusk. The party explained that his suspicions had been corroborated and that he should quietly gather a posse to catch Halia unawares so she doesn’t escape.
James paid the party 100 gold for taking out half the Redbrands.
The party then headed back to the outskirts of town to let events unfold as they brought the two Redbrands to Harbin Wester so they could be incarcerated. A brief discussion with Sildar and the two captives was all that was needed to ensure Halia would be cooling her heels for awhile.
The dwarves found rest at the Stonehill Inn, quite tired from a long day of talking. Valin spent his night at Qellin’s barn, with Patch cooking their dinner. The night was thankfully restful as it was back to the Redbrand camp to finish them off before they might leave.
Knowing the odds were against them, the party made good use of their area of affect spells. Klang managed to get to web all those around a camp fire, dealing a good deal of damage when the webs ignited. Valin used his spike growth magic to create a vicious area for creatures who try to pass through it. As Klang came running back around the spike growth, he had a many more in tow.
Valin and O’Dell were drawing their bows and dealing damage with arrows while occasionally shouting obscenities at the foolish humans who tried crossing the spike growth. Those that tried to skirt it felt Klang’s wrath.
When at last the remaining five tried to flee, Valin simply moved the spike growth to surround them. The battle quickly ended with all twenty dispatched. Not a bright bunch, that’s for sure.
The loot haul included 20 short swords, 30 sets of studded leather armor, 20 riding horses, 18 gold, 10 silver, 10 copper, and food rations for 15 days for 20 people that still appeared fresh. When the party rolled into Phandalin around midday, it was an impressive sight to see – two dwarves and an elf trying to herd 20 horses and also steer a wagon overflowing with armor, weapons, and food. Pip and Carp were laughing with merriment while they helped.
And so it was that Phadalin had no shortage of horses for months, exports of used armor and weapons were booming, and the miners were in search of a replacement to lead the miner’s exchange. Gundren Rockseeker stepped up, filling the post and solidifying his leadership role in town…at least among the local miners.
The party took a day or two to settle their trades in town before setting off to the north and east – escorting a shipment for Linene Graywind (of the Lionshield coster) to a keep outside Leilon and then to safely deliver Patch to his brother’s city of Port Llast far north of Neverwinter. What an adventure!
The trip to the keep was uneventful. The road up to the keep was rocky and the keep itself was well fortified with catapults and ballistas. The guards on duty seemed alert, suggesting they were expecting something. When the party approached, the guards questioned their business at the keep. Klang explained the Goblin Stompers had a shipment from the Lionshield coster, here for delivery.
The party was promptly allowed to enter. The guards thanked us for being hospitable as they often see the other sort. Leilon is out of control. That tower of magic items has drawn warring factions (Welcomers, Cult of the Dragon, Red Wizards of Thay, and even the Order of the Gauntlet) and it’s nothing but chaos. Often they see orcs on the roads, so shipments have been less frequent. O’Dell thanked the guards and suggested they meet later for a drink. A professionally muted cheer went up for that.
The party made the delivery while Patchy secured rooms for the night. The keep was very orderly and laws were enforced. Folks were not afraid to be on the streets and trade was steady. There were lots of guards who seemed busy all the time. Making their way to a tavern for some solid food instead of the usual half-baked provisions, the party found themselves relaxing for the first time in days.
The food was good and the helpings generous in size. Based on the size of the keep and the structures within, there could be no more than a few hundred people in the entire keep. O’Dell confirmed it was being run by a man in the Lord’s Alliance. Where else would you find such leadership!
While chatting up the locals, we got differing stories about a dangerous nearby cave. A wander named Leeland thought a magic user is there that wants to kill people. The barkeep heard a merchant went there to retrieve a magic wand and was imprisoned. A guard thought a fair maiden was taken there, but that’s probably bunk.
We also heard of an elf who was lost when crossing the marsh. Lizard men?
When Red Larch came up, one person mentioned elemental cultists. There are four elemental cults who sometimes work together and sometimes not. That may explain the strangeness described by James Stout.
Another reported bullywogs and lizardmen making pacts in the Meerland swamp. That sounded like bunk too. We know of the Mere of Dead Men (which adjoins Leilon) and of Lizard Marsh, but Meerland swamp did not sound familiar.
Another suggested that alters are dangerous and that there’s an “eater of men”. Oh come on now. This is getting weirder by the minute. Someone even shouted that “bree yark” means “we surrender”…that’s the oldest one in the book. It means “Hey Rube”, a signal for any nearby goblins to come join in the attack.
The captain of the guard explained that the bandits have learned quickly to not attack the keep. The main problem is accidentally letting in the riff raff to the keep. There have been a few incidents where a ne’er do well got in and started raising trouble. Generally, they have no issues with the regulars who live in the keep.
Assume we circled back with James Stout for the other 100 gold he offered and the same with Harbin Wester for the 100 gold he offered.
Assume blacksmith Bartreson finished the steel holy symbol of Marthamoor Duin and that Klang paid for and obtained it.
Assume we sold everything obtained from the Redbrands and exchanged for the lightest coin available.
Assume O’Dell retrieved the unused healing potion from Sister Garaele and the ax Hew from James Stout.
Total party experience = 3434.
Total party coin = 6385 gold, 9 silver.
O’Dell’s Trip on the Wild Side Ends with a Bear Hug
O’Dell excused himself from the company of Klang and the off-duty soldiers. He smiled a weak smile and told Klang to treat the soldiers to a good time – “Take it outta my share if need be.” He stood, stretched, shook the road’s dust off of his traveling cloak and headed out with the now on-duty soldiers.
The soldiers took positions on the wall and parapets of the fort, standing at attention and vigilantly watching the skies and fields around the fort. O’Dell found a spot along one of the walls and struck up a conversation with one of the human soldiers.
“Dwarf, I appreciate you taking care of my friends at the bar, but I’m on duty now. I suggest you find a warm bed and take a rest.”
O’Dell grunted and headed off toward the front gate. “Well met, O’Dell. Heading out for the night? We have a curfew and the gate locks after sundown.”
“Thanks friend. I’ll just be a few minutes.”
O’Dell saddled his mule and headed out into the quiet dusk. The steady, rhythmic clip-clopping of the mule helped focus O’Dell’s mind. He reflected on Phandalin, the drow in the mines, his fellow traveling companions – his friends. Klang is a strong willed, hard working dwarf – easy to trust. Taklann is difficult to understand. He derives his power from a source unknown to me, but seems to uphold dwarven honor and loyalty. Valin, even though he’s an elf, has proven a capable warrior. If only he’d drop the dwarf jokes. Kevin is a drunk human who calls himself a warrior but hides behind the lines – with the elf. He seems hot headed and reckless – like most humans. At that thought, O’Dell’s stomach dropped and his nose detected the faint smell of Orc blood in the air. The hackles on the back of his neck stood on end and instinctively his axe was in his hand.
The low hum of thick, poorly made orc arrows struck the mule in the hear and lung and it dropped to the ground wheezing. O’Dell tried to roll away but found himself pinned under the dying mule. His axe hand was free but he was not able to pull his shield in time. The smell of orc on the wind became stronger as more arrows struck the mule and O’Dell’s legs.
In his thoughts, O’Dell saw he was farther from the keep’s walls than he anticipated. As the sun set and darkness gripped the land, the sounds of orc boots charging from the nearby forest filled him with rage.
O’Dell’s gauntlets flared to life as he mustered his strength to lift the mule off of him, but it was already too late. The stench of Orc was overwhelming and, as his vision switched to his cave sight, he saw dozens of Orc raiders surround him.
“Filthy bastards all of you – cowering like rats in the dark. I’ll…” A thick boot struck O’Dells head and he saw stars. The rest of the beating was a blur.
O’Dell awoke face down, hands tied to a rope being dragged by a horse. His armor was stripped from his body and the rocks and dust clouded his vision. He rolled onto his back, but kept his eyes closed. He slowly started to pull him self closer to the horses’ beating hooves. But as soon as hw got close enough to launch his counter-attack an axe…his axe… swung down from one of the horses and cut the rope.
A deep guttural voice called something out in Orc and the raiding party all stopped.
“Vras Vok.” O’Dell knew the term. Vras is kill and Vok is dwarf.
A hulking Orc with half of his face burned away lifted O’Dell up off the ground by the rope and threw him over a tree limb. O’Dell hung like a pinata by his hands just a few feet off the ground. In the background he could see his axe and gear. The other orcs were taking advantage of the distraction to go through his pack and steal goods.
The Burned Orc held the rope with one hand while his friends threw punches and kicks at the hanging O’Dell. The others laughed as blood flowed from O’Dell’s wounds. A few punches landed sending cheers among the crowd, but a swift kick by O’Dell to an overzealous orc’s head sent riots of laughter through the group of orcs.
An orc in the back, stealing O’Dell’s possessions, held a thick steel chain up and the glint of light caught O’Dell’s eye. A chain bearing an amulet – a pair of crossed axes – spun slowly in front of the fascinated orc’s face. By Clangeddin Codpiece! This is a test. O’Dell said a silent prayer to his mighty deity and kicked his legs forward.
O’Dell started to swing back and forth and the orcs howled with enjoyment and they kicked at the swinging target. O’Dell could hear the rope rubbing against the rough bark of the tree and strands of hemp snapping. One more good swing and he’d be free.
Then the rope went slack and he fell indignantly to the ground. “Nice try Vok – I will not be fooled.”
The wind knocked out of him, O’Dell stared up into the face of the Burned Orc. The orc’s breath smelled of blood and bile, his teeth cracked and rotten. O’Dell spat a juicy dwarven loogie into the Burned Or’s face. The Orc smiled, wiped his face with his hand.
“Now Vok – games are over. I’ll wear your beard as my loinclo…”
Time seemed to slow. A deep earthy scent filled O’Dell’s mind. It reminded him of the mountain, the rocks, the dust from the forge – the things he lost. The things he had to leave behind. A force coalesced behind the Burned Orc.
Something struck the Burned Orc from behind, sending him flying into the distance. The creature swung a mighty paw toward another orc, crushing it’s skull. A deep, feral growl nearly shook the ground where O’Dell lay. The beast thundered off toward a group of Orcs sending them scattering into the woods.
O’Dell rolled over and stood. He ran to where his axe and gear were dropped and rammed the nearest orc with his head. He could hear shouts and screams from the far side of the came where the beast had charged. O’Dell picked up his axe and swung at the nearest, stunned orc but missed instead hitting a large tree. O’Dell braced for the impact but instead sliced clean through the old maple. The treetop started to quiver and then fall. O’Dell rolled out of the way as the tree crushed and trapped the group of looters.
O’Dell regained his balance and raced to the clearing, intent on making sure the Burned Orc was dead. As he stepped back into the clearing he saw a cave bear, standing on it’s hind legs come crashing down onto a fallen orc. The bear’s massive 2 front paws crushing the rib cage of the downed orc. The cave bear turned her gaze toward O’Dell and snuffed the air before charging off into the woods after another orc.
With that the orcs scattered to the winds. Just at the edge of his darkvision, O’Dell saw the bloodied and burned face of his captor spit onto the ground and say – what O’Dell can only guess – was a curse on O’Dell.
Ears still ringing from his beating, O’Dell collected his belongings and started to find his bearings. He figured it was going to be a long walk home. From the forest wandered the great bear whom had come. O’Dell figured it was a blessing from Clangeddin and started to walk toward the beast, but she stood menacingly on his hind legs as O’Dell approached. He stopped.
From the tree behind him two cubs descended from their hiding spot . One was older maybe 2-3, the other just a pup. O’Dell backed away slowly, smart enough not to get between mama bear and her cubs. Mama sank to all fours and the cubs hopped over to happily greet their mom.
O’Dell’s heart swelled. Clangeddin (or maybe Tymora) smiled on him today. Mama saved his life and her cubs were safe. He slowly backed away from the reunited family and started to dress for the road.
Mama bear turned and started to walk away and both cubs followed. But mama bear stopped shortly. She turned to her older daughter and barked/growled. The young bear looked at O’Dell and then back to mama. She continued to follow, but mama once again stopped and more forcefully growled. The elder cub turned toward O’Dell and started walking toward him.
O’Dell froze. Mama and cub disappeared into the forest but the elder daughter stood, staring at him. Her fur was a deep red or brown and she had many of the characteristics of her mom. A deep muscled jaw and frame, huge paws and very inquisitive nature. O’Dell approached her with care but she showed no aggressive or defensive posture. He reached his hand out to touch her nose. Her eyes lit up and she pushed past him and dug her snout into his backpack and pulled out some smoked fish he had brought from the tavern and sat down – almost people like – and happily ate it.
“Well friend, if you’re coming with me I think you need a name.”
The bear nodded and playfully leaned her full weight onto O’Dell knocking him over. The breath crushed out of him, O’Dell laughed and gasped…“Ok, Hugs it is!”
Juvenile as brown bear, independent cohort/mount
Large Beast, Unaligned
Armor Class: 11 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points: 34 (4d10+12)
Speed: 40ft, climb 30ft
Str 19 (4)
Dex 10 (0)
Con 16 (3)
Int 2 (-4) Intelligence is 6 as per mount
Wis 13 (1)
Cha 7 (-2)
Skills: Perception 3
Senses: passive Perception 13
Challenge: 1 (200xp)
Keen Smell: The bear has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Multiattack: The bear makes two attacks, one with its bite and one with its claws.
Bite – Melee Weapon Attack:
+5 to hit, reach 5 ft, One Target.
Hit: 8 (1d84) piercing damage.
Claw – Melee Weapon Attack:
5 to hit, reach 5 ft, One Target.
Hit: 11 (2d64) slashing damage.
Grows/Matures to Cave Bear as we level up (no stats available at this time)
“Hugs” is very curious and playful. She is not controlled by O’Dell but is a loyal companion and mount. She is unaware of her great size and weight and seems to think/act like she’s a person – often to the point of crushing people playfully.
She talks through grunts and barks and bear sign language. She is very food driven/distracted especially smoked fish. She is not aggressive but has a strong mothering/protective instinct. She will protect O’Dell and fight with him but sometimes confuses playful sparring with aggression. She is still young but fiercely independent often leaving to forage on her own when the DM sees her being a liability but returning at more appropriate times. :)
O’Dell and Hugs are still working on the whole “mount” thing and may have to contact Taklann to make a proper saddle/harness set up. Hugs isn’t crazy about the whole wearing a saddle and armor thing yet. But we’re working on it.