Because my son and wife had already played a few sessions, and their adventure was already underway, I wanted to have a backstory for why the other players would be joining. The old ‘You just happen to meet on the road and you instantly like each other and decide to go off and adventure together’ wouldn’t cut it for me.
I decided to give [force] some shared background with the characters and ended up doing 2 prequel sessions and a bit of leading-by-the-nose to get everyone involved in the same adventure.
For character history, please jump over to the Characters page.. no need to repeat it here.
But chronologically, the game starts when Dilbert the Red is hired by Baron Greggor to translate a mysterious obelisk recently discovered in Grimsoak marsh. The Baron would to pay Dilbert 100gp (50 now, 50 upon return and successful translation). He provisioned the Captain of his Guard, Sir Alben Kincade, and his constable, Jerret Davies, along with 6 of the city guard to travel there and back. Dilbert, always happy to be paid in both beer and gold, was happy to take the commission.
As the Barons men were provisioning, word reached Oliver and Keely about the planned expedition. Always ready to stop the Baron’s plans from harming the locals, they decided to follow the guards and assess if there was any threat to the peaceful residents of Cymric.
Meanwhile, a few weeks before the Baron learned of this strange obelisk in the marsh, Roth of Blackburn, received a coded message from his master, the head of the assassin’s guild of Baldur’s Gate. He was to make his way south to Murann, and meet a contact that would know him. He was to apprentice to this person and pass any test put before him.
Roth hired on as a caravan guard the next day. While most trade is done via ship on the Sword Coast, some merchants still ply their trade over land along the sleep towns and hamlets between the two large port cities, and having no experience as a sailor nor able to buy his passage, Roth’s secret was safe.
After many days of travel, his group was attacked. Roth had been napping in the back of a heavily ladened cart. To his surprise, as the shouts of battle woke him, he only had time to hold on as best he could because the two-horse team spooked and ran. Roth had no ability to slow or control the beasts and they ran until exhaustion into the marsh ground surrounding Grimsoak Marsh. Roth, completely lost, surrounded by reeds as tall as him, and no idea how to drive the team back to solid ground, sat in the cart as evening turned to night.
Little did Roth know that he was actually being followed all the way from Baldur’s Gate. Roth had peaked the interest of Valanthe who hoped to write a story about the dashing rogue. You see, one day while playing her banjo and harmonica in a tavern, she happened to see Roth fiddling with a small whistle made of a type of gold colored wood. She had seen similar whistles while learning her bardic skills from the wood elves of her homeland. They were usually given to master bards as a token of high praise or in recognition of a daring feat. Seeking a new master or to at least learn from one who carried the Shoowatha Tai (pronounced show-AH-tha TAI) would be a great honor for her. But one never approaches someone that carries such a token as it is seen as rude, so she traveled with him trying to gain his notice until their caravan was attacked by a horde of Bugbears, Orcs, and an Ettin. She tried to fight but was knocked unconscious. When she awoke, the merchants were dead, the wagons looted, and she was lucky to have fallen into a shallow thicket of snagthorn bushes that hid her during the battle.
With Roth nowhere to be found, she made her way to the next town and took up a job playing in the Mother’s Milk tavern.
… Back in the marsh, Oliver and Keely had made their way deep into the reeds following the Baron’s men, who were making camp for the night, when they heard the sounds of horses ahead. Since it was strange to hear horses this deep in the marsh, they investigated and found Roth, still sitting atop his wagon, with the exhausted horses standing in ankle deep, fetid water. Startled by the appearance of a young man in the marsh, Roth was not quick to trust Oliver, but with Keely’s subtle prompting (at the end of an knocked arrow) he became inclined.
Meanwhile, Dilbert the Red and the Baron’s men made camp along one of the few dry raised areas. As the men went about their provisions for the night, Dilbert sensed something was wrong.
He heard a strange splash and yell. Soon it was apparent that his guardians were under attack.
Oliver, Keely, and Roth heard shouts from the Baron’s men and recognized the sounds of battle. They set off to find out what was happening.
But Roth had other ideas and decided to sneak off into the reeds. He came to a opening in the wall of green and discovered a clan of lizardmen readying to attack. The lizardmen set off towards the camp of guards, leaving just one to defend their path. In a feat of acrobatic excellence, Roth flipped over the lizardman and killed him cleanly. Knowing more were near, he bolted back to his wagon.
Or at least he THOUGHT it was towards his wagon.
Oliver and Keely burst out of the reeds just as Dilbert was knocking a frantic guard out. Putting aside their differences, Keely and Oliver decided to help the guardsmen and fight off the Lizardmen attack.
Soon the battle was in full and most of the Baron’s men had fallen. The Capt survived as well as all of the adventurers, but not without taking many morally threatening blows.
The newly formed group bargained with the Captain for more gold to continue to the Obelisk the next day. Upon reaching the standing stone, Dilbert the Red was able to make a rubbing and copy of the runes covering the ancient rock. And having no further need to be in the marsh, they returned to Cymric.
Roth explained that he was a traveling noble who was lost during an attack. And he had plenty of gold from the wagon to back up his story. The Baron accepted him at face value and over the next month or so, found that he liked having Roth as part of his court.
Keely and Oliver snuck away from the group before entering the town, not believing the Captain would keep his word to forgive their previous crimes.
And Dilbert the Red spent the next few weeks translating the runes from his rubbings. He recognized the dire prophesy and decided to change key parts of the translation that he gave to the Baron. None-the-wiser, the Baron paid him in full and Dilbert has been drunk ever since.
A few months later, Oliver was in the Mother’s Milk when a strikingly tall merchant entered and made his way directly to Mother. He spoke with her as if they were old friends but Oliver had never laid eyes upon this man before. The merchant’s muscles were easily seen through his traveling clothes and he carried an ornate sword at his hip.
While Oliver was inspecting the man, he noticed two people drawing daggers and stalking towards the bar where Mother and the stranger stood. Always one to defend people, Oliver attacked the men and was stabbed grievously for the effort.
But it was just the time the merchant needed to draw his sword and speak a magic ‘command’ word, causing his sword to be sheathed in golden flames. The tall man quickly dispatched the rogues in short order, and handed Oliver a healing potion.
The merchant’s name was Cameron, and he was traveling to Baldur’s Gate. He offered Oliver some gold to join him on the way and teach him about how to handle a sword.
Oliver jumped at the chance, forgetting to even tell Keely or his other contacts where he was going. They left that morning on the road north.
Several days into the journey, Oliver, Cameron, and his other traveling companions, Burglecut the dwarf, Shaz the Elvin wizard, and Geld, Sir Cameron’s squire, found a half elvin girl, covered in blood, wandering along the path. With her was an enormous pink wolf that had flowers woven into his fur.
The girl, who was actually a young woman, was Ilya and her companion, Muffy. Ilya explained that her Druid Circle was attacked and she has been wandering for days.
Sir Cameron seemed familiar with Ilya’s druid home, and proclaimed that he and his companions would investigate.
A day’s travel later, they came to the forest path that led to Ilya’s home. Sir Cameron told Oliver, Ilya, and Geld to remain with the wagons while the more seasoned of the party traveled the 1/2 day to the druid circle.
The others had been gone almost a day when a band of goblins attacked. Ilya, Muffy, and Oliver defended the group well.
That night, they saw lights as if a massive forest fire coming from where Ilya believed her druid circle to be. They decided to set off at first light to find out what happened to Sir Cameron and his friends. Geld remained with the wagons.
Ilya, Oliver, and Muffy made it to the druid circle as dusk fell and were attacked by an Imp. After dispatching it, they discovered devilish runes and sigils marked all over the druid home. There was also evidence of a Gate spell and they believed that Sir Cameron and his friends must have teleported to another plane to fight whatever attacked them the previous night.
Knowing they could not face this threat alone, Oliver and Ilya decided to return to Cymric and gather help.
Back in Cymric, Keely and Leofrick were both wondering the same thing – where had Oliver gotten off to? He had been gone a fortnight and that wasn’t like him. Independently, they decided to go to Mother’s Milk and look for any news of him.
The tavern was busy due to the new bard, Valenthe, playing her unusual instruments that were unfamiliar to the Mother’s Milk locals. Everyone wanted to listen and enjoy the music. Additionally, word that Oliver was back in town, and with a druid and her wolf, had set the tavern clamoring with excited conversation.
Oliver returned and explained that Ilya’s home was attacked, and that there were strange runes much like those found on the Obelisk were written everywhere. Everyone decided to help Oliver and Ilya see if any clues could be discovered back at the druid circle. They set off the next morning and rode hard for many days.
Upon entering the forest near the druid home, they were set upon by Bullywugs. The adventurers were able to fend them off but Ilya was almost killed during the battle.
And now the scene is set as two more characters join the group… and the adventure begins anew!!!