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12 July 2016 @ 12:29 pm
[WotMK: Hexcrawl] Session Ten  
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyarhé.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Elaphe listened carefully to the rumbling, feeling the earth, but while it did grow closer, it then faded away and didn't seem to be deliberately coming toward the party's campsite.

When dawn finally came, the party awoke, ate a hurried breakfast, and then continued following the fiery serpent, only stopping when Elaphe and his mount nearly fell into a hole as the ground crumbled out from under them. It wasn't a gravecup--the inside of the hole looked like dirt, and though the light didn't reach down that far it seemed like it was part of a larger tunnel complex dug out by some creature. After some brief consideration, they decided to skirt around the tunnels, and carefully picked their way overland to avoid the unstable ground.

The next couple days were almost entirely uneventful other than the steadily more wet weather and Bonnie's miserable experience riding--at the end of each day, she'd fling herself off her mount to the ground with a sizeable Fatigue penalty. All they saw were birds and a few signs of animal life until after noon on the second day, when they entered the mushroom forest.

All forests in Agarica have a few mushroom trees mixed in, but they were now in a true mushroom forest. Vast mushroom trees rising to the sky, their trunks occasionally splitting into multiple caps. A carpet of moss and lichen on the forest floor in red and green and violet. Faintly bioluminescent sporebats floating through the trunks on their own path. The fiery serpent pointed straight through the forest, so that's where they went. And it went well for a couple of hours until Elaphe nearly rode straight into an enormous web strung between the trunks.

He pulled at the reins of his claw strider just in time and looked up to see half-a-dozen enormous spiders rushing down the web toward him. He pulled out his bob-omb and hurled it, and while it blew a giant hole in the web and knocked one of the spiders to the ground, the others escaped and continued their advance.

Elaphe's claw strider snapped at the spider on the ground, who managed to pick itself up and scuttle out of the way, while another one leapt down from above and bit Elaphe in the shoulder. He felt a burning and a brief feeling of nausea wash over him, but it quickly passed as the whole group turned their mounts about and ran. The horses were faster than the spiders, but they could match the claw strider until Amos turned in the saddle with his bow and shot a flaming arrow at the spider in the lead. It was a solid hit, and the spider peeled off and ran, with the others soon following it.

With a moment to breathe, the group dismounted and Shining Star took a look at Elaphe's wound. The poison hadn't taken, but it was bleeding freely and looking red and swollen with signs of infection, so she chanted a few words of hedge magic over it to stop the bleeding and help fight disease. When the swelling didn't seem to go down, Elaphe pulled out a poultice smelling of herbs and sandalwood and rubbed it all over the wound, and then for good measure, took out a vial, uncorked it, and drank it as an enormously spicy scent filled the air. Elaphe coughed, pounded his chest a few time, and then shook his head and waited for the hero's recovery potion to take effect.

The made camp that night and in the morning, they consulted their treasure map. It showed a road leading through the mushroom forest and a town in the depths of the forest along the road. Following the fiery serpent would lead them through the deepest part of the forest where the spirits and wild animals were thickest, but it was pointing almost directly at the town. Its fire was also starting to dim a bit and the smoke was venting slightly from its sides, so they needed to make a decision.

They decided to take the road. They went back west, out of the forest, and turned north, reaching the road in midafternoon. After a brief trip east, they saw between the road and the lake a wooden tower, four stories high, with blue-and-white cloud banners flapping in the breeze. It wasn't any heraldry that Shining Star or the Green Knight had ever heard of. They decided not to check it out, but marked it on their map since they'd be passing back that way, and continued on.

They made camp that night near the lake, trusting the road and the lake at their back to keep away predators, and went to bed. On the third watch, when the Green Knight was awaken, he went to a tree near the water and called on the power of the forest spirits to cast Whisper of the Grasses and asked the tree whether it had seen a raptok, a mandragora, and two amanita passing by on the road. The tree replied that many people passed on the road, but that it had not seen the ones the Greek Knight described. When he asked about the walking dead, the tree had seen those, heading west. The party hadn't seen any in the wilderness, though.

As the Green Knight thanked the tree and turned away, a river dragon lunged out of the water, its teeth snapping on the air and just missing the Green Knight by inches!

Elaphe awoke and scrabbled to his feet as the Green Knight moved away, bowing to honor the predator who had almost got him. As the Green Knight grabbed his lance and made to mount his horse, Elaphe hurled a bob-omb, which exploded on the river dragon without doing much apparent damage. The bob-omb's explosion woke the rest of the group, and when Shining Star chanted the words of the Chains of Searing Light and the river dragon barely even slowed down, they decided to just get on the move early. They quickly broke camp, mounted up, and left while the river dragon turned and went back into the water.

PCs ran from not one, but two fights?! Stop the presses!

It was probably a good tactical call. The giant spiders were pretty fragile but had higher dodge and accuracy, which also describes a large chunk of the party, and a couple members of the party were suffering from fatigue penalties from riding in armor. A fight would have been very risky, with the possibility to swing either way on one or two bad rolls, and with no obvious reward from winning. Unless the spiders had a stash of treasure from others they had eaten, but who knows now? The river dragon would have been bragging rights, like the time that the PCs fought an ox-dragon and won in the last Warlords game I ran. Of course, I learned from that experience and modified thunder lizard stats accordingly. I don't think the PCs could have beaten the river dragon except by pulling back and shooting arrows at it from range, and it probably would have ran back into the water before they killed it.

I'm actually really happy. I see a ton of threads online about GMs running hexcrawls who want to let their players know that the encounters aren't scaled anymore and there will be fights they probably can't win, so don't always fight to the death, but can't figure out how to convey the knowledge because of ingrained player habits. I don't have to worry about that. And that's good, because my random encounter tables are not scaled to level.
Current Mood: devious
Current Music: Airship podcast
marianlhmarianlh on July 14th, 2016 03:58 am (UTC)
Sounds like you've got some pretty good players.
dorchadas: Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdomdorchadas on July 15th, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
I'm really happy with how the game is going!