It was a fine afternoon upon which our heroes became acquainted at the Welcome Inn in the town of Mersey, a small and normally sleepy hamlet on the outskirts of the Cairnwood. Danton the Great’s arrival at the inn preceded, as it usually does, a virtuoso performance by the bard upon his antique lute and a bout of shameless and desperate flirting with the Innkeep’s daughter Em. This performance came at the expense of one Gnomish bard, Tip Wondersong, who had already less-than-firmly ensconced himself by the fire in an effort to capture the attention of the larger-than-usual audience that day. Danton cruelly, if dexterously and completely deniably, shamed the tiny bard, who realised swiftly his days in Mersey were numbered and exited quietly through the back door.
Danton’s arrival was followed soon after by that of a cleric, Brynne, whose disheveled appearance and vacant expression detracted only marginally from her statuesque physique and striking appearance. Brynne took a seat at the only table available, that of Danton.
Finally, the afternoon was capped off by the arrival of a surly and pompous Elven rogue Banyan, who immediately courted controversy by declaring the inn stank of dwarves. Banyan’s life was saved by a quick thinking Danton, who broke into the well-known and universally loved (amongst Dwarves) drinking song ‘The Bearded Maiden’. Banyan made his way to the bar, where his unique brand of socialisation uncovered details of a spate of recent disappearances, and the whereabouts of a local mystic who may know more and whose talent for wart removal was evidently questionable at best.
It was about this time when the revelry was interupted by the arrival of an old man in distress alleging his son Samuel had been taken by a dragon overnight. The old man, Danriel, was seen to by the kindly cleric, who escorted him outside to speak more of this matter, trailed by Banyan, whose curiosity was piqued and whose nose was, regardless, overly full of the scent of unwashed dwarf.
Outside, Banyan found himself drawn aside by a stranger who introduced himself mysteriously as… The Stranger… and informed him their mutual friend the Prince of Shadows required his service. The Stranger confirmed the old man’s tale and added the dragon, a White, wore around its neck a red stone of value to the Prince. Banyan was to retrieve the stone and deliver it anon. Banyan sought to bargain with The Stranger who, finally fed up with the intractable Elf’s arguing, stormed off into the inn, where he approached another of the Prince’s supposed agents, Danton. In Danton he found a more agreeable conversationalist, and so threw in a secondary objective – the retrieval of one of the beast’s claws. Outsmarted by the honeyed tongue of the bard however, The Stranger agreed to set up an encounter with the Prince prior to receipt of the claw. Much pleased with himself (a permanent state of being for Danton it appears), the bard swept out of the inn and into the night in search of the old man and his new companions.
Danton and Banyan acquainted themselves while Brynne helped to settle the frzzled nerves of the old farmer. After seeing him home, the party set out to locate the mystic before setting out towards the Cairnwood, allegedly the direction the dragon was last seen travelling.
Arriving at the mystic’s residence as the sun began to dip below the horizon, the party discovered an obvious fraud named Benrath who, it appeared, was seeking to lay blame for the disappearances on a sorceress who lived out by the forest and who, he feared, might eat into his profits. He was singularly otherwise unhelpful and suggested the players may wish to run her off before the townsfolk took matters into their own hands.
The party decided to set out for the sorceress’s hut, hoping to speak to her and explore the possibility she may, in fact, be involved in some conspiracy. The players arrived not long after sunset were they were far from well-met by Saerin, a young sorceress who had made her home by the Cairnwood and who, it was evident, would be happy to watch the entire town burn before offering any aid. Danton happened however to notice an artifact upon a shelf at the rear of the cottage with symbology suggestive of the sorceress’s allegiance to the Diabolist, and sought to engage her as kindred spirits. Whilst this failed to soften her stance on assisting the townsfolk, Saerin offered instead to point the party towards the likely location of the dragon’s lair in exchange for a spellbook carried by a gnomish wizard who passed by not long ago. The players accepted the agreement and Saerin pointed them in the direction of a ruined fort lying not too deep into the forest. banyan warned Saerin that forces within the town were seeking to lay the blame for the disappearances at her feet. Saerin laughed and told Banyan she welcomed their approach.
The party bickered for some time after about the wisdom of camping the night in a forest so close to an active Hellhole, however Banyan’s obstinacy and unwillingness to spend the night in a den of dwarves and humans led the party to set out seeking a nearby clearing in the outskirts of the forest.
And a clearing they found, though it was currently in use by a goblin raiding party, amidts which lay a trussed gnome in torn and bloodied wizard’s robes. Banyan and Danton snuck up on the clearing whilst Brynne in her chainmail stayed back on the road with her donkey, Sam. Communication being one of Banyan’s many areas of performance requiring improvement, he launched an arrow from the scrub at a nearby goblin when the creature made the mistake of urinating in his direction. The arrow flew wide and thudded into the spit upon which the goblins were roasting their dinner. All hell broke loose as the raiding party rose as one and charged for the arrow-launching scrub. Banyan too rose up, his concealment compromised, and fought for his life as Brynne charged through the scrub towards the conflict and Danton considered whether he should let the Elf receive his just desserts. Ultimately deciding the ballad may play better were he involved in the battle, he slipped from the bushes and entered the fray. With Brynne’s arrival tipping the balance, the goblins were quickly dispatched.
The grateful Gnome introduced himself as Fitz Glitterstave, the youngest son of the great wizarding dynasty of Glitterstave. Prior to setting out for Mersey, promising to sing songs of the brave band of adventurers who had defeated a hundred goblins to rescue him, Glitterstave asked them to return his spellbook, lost in the scuffle near a burial mound when he was captured, if they should came upon it. Glitterstave explained it was a family heirloom, passed down for generations by great Glitterstave wizards. The party agreed to keep an eye out for it.
The party spent the night at the camp, awakening to the smell of rotting goblin corpses and the buzz of flies, and then set off further into the woods whilst danton regaled them with exaggerated tales of his daring-do. It was not long before they came upon the burial mound in the dark forest, not far from the road, where they could hear faint chanting. Brynne climbed the mound seeking the source of the sound when suddenly from beneath the earth errupted several corpses which clutched at her and sought to drag her to her doom. Danton circled around the mound to discover a Kobald Grand Wizard casting a spell from a book that looked suspiciously like the one Glitterstave had described to the party the night prior. Danton made short work of the creature before entering the fray with the undead. Meanwhile, Banyan fought off the almost obsessive attentions of a skeletal hound that appeared fixated with tearing his leg off. When the dust settled however, the party emerged victorious, standing amidst a pile of dead… er… again… corpses. Pocketing the spellbook, they party set off for the ruin which, from Saerin’s, should not have been too distant now.
As the players crested a rise, they came upon a deep ravine, at the bottom of which crashed deadly rapids. Across the ravine they could see the ruins in the distance, poking through the canopy. Over the ravine creaked an ancient bridge, held up it appeared by the lack of a strong breeze and dust of ages. Danton set out across the bridge but was held up at the halfway point by a rain of javelins from the edge of the forest across the ravine. Danton retreated the the safety of the other side of the bridge as a couple of kobald warriors came charging out of the forst to cut the ropes holding the bridge aloft. The party launched their counter attack swiftly, peppering the kobalds at the bridge with arrows. One went over the edge, an arrow to the throat, yet his companion, not overly fond of his fellow warrior, sawed through one rope and began on the other. Banyan, his patience at an end, leapt onto the remaining rope and nimbly ran across it, cat like, before catapulting himself over the kobalds head before removing it. Danton and Brynne then raced across the bridge to aid in the fight between Banyan and the kobald archers. The party dispatched all but one, who waggled his tongue at Banyan, gave an ululating cry, and raced off into the forest to ‘warn [his] mistress!’
Banyan, incensed by the creature’s escape and perceived mockery, charged off towards the ruin, Danton and Brynne trailing in his wake. The bridge collapsing behind them, the party raced off and soon arrived in a clearing, in the centre of which rested the old ruins of a keep. From within the players could hear the gutteral mutterings of kobalds and the sound of breaking bones as something large feasted. Banyan climbed one of the trees nearby to gain a vantage point over the ruin and saw, below, the kobald who had escaped from. His good sense departing him, Banyan launched an arrow at the creature [GM Comment: Banyan rolled a 1!]. The arrow was snatched out of the air before it could crest the ruin as the white dragon exploded into the air, launching itself at Banyan. Kobald skykclaws came leaping over the ruins, igniting their alchemical packs and flying in ragged formation towards the players. On the ground, a lone kobald hero came charging towards Danton and Brynne, a fine short sword of ancient magic-forged steel in its claws.
Banyan launched a volley of arrows at the dragon, wounding and enraging it. The dragon in turn launched a withering attack against the party, its cold breath almost laying Danton and Brynne low whilst it clawed and bit at Banyan, trying to drag him from the tree down which he was quickly scampering.
Below, Brynne and Danton fought off the attacks of the skyclaws, assisted by the shaky landing and subsequent explosion of one of the fool creatures.
And then Danton stepped forward and in a voice clear as crystal sang out a line of an ancient ballad, into which he wove his own name, roaring ‘DANTON!’ and issuing forth a mighty soundwave that caught the dragon mid-flight and threw him hard against the walls of the ruin, dead.
Seeing his mistress so quickly dismissed, the kobald hero turned and fled before being shot down by the party. Banyan retrieved the magic blade and cut free the red stone which the players found attached to the dragon’s neck by a gold chain. Danton set to removing one of the beast’s claws and its head. As the party prepared to set off for Mersey, they heard a plaintive cry from a cage dangling from one of the ruined walls of the fort. Inside they spied a young boy – the young boy they had set out to rescue and subsequently forgot. Brynne released the boy and saw to his wounds before departing the ruin for town.
Returning to town two days later, having to find another way over the ravine, the party found a makeshift bonfire had been erected in the centre of town, upon which Saerin awaited her fate, spitting venemous verbal barbs at all who would listen. Whilst the boy, Samuel, was reunited with his father, Danton caught the attention of the townsfolk and spun a tale of a brave bard who, with his supporting cast of characters that included a surly Elf and a hapless Cleric, had brought low a dragon and saved the life of an innocent sorceress. Brynne cut Saerin down as the town cheered and celebrated the heroics of the brave Danton the Dragonslayer, his woman and his Elf.
As the town slipped into a night of celebration, the party was approached by both Saerin and then Glitterstave. Saerin was disappointed to learn that the party had not retrieved the spellbook as agreed, particularly given Danton and Banyan’s most obvious surprise at Brynne’s decision not to part with the book. As a gesture of gratitude for saving her life, Saerin let the matter slide. The book was then returned to a grateful Glitterstave, who promised to tell the party’s tale to all who would listen.
The Stranger subsequently approached Danton and Banyan and retrieved the red stone for the Prince of Shadows. Danton, mincing words, told The Stranger he would receive the claw once the meeting with the Prince was arranged. The Stranger departed, advising the party to make their way to Shadow Port, there to be met by the Prince of Shadows….
And so ended Chapter 1, in which the players defeated a dragon, saved a town, levelled up and taught a GM to increase the difficulty of encounters….
We made Icon Relationship rolls at the end of the game for the next (because I struggled to effectively impliment these after rolling at the beginning of the session), with the following results:
Banyan – An advantage (Prince of Shadows) / A complicated advantage (Lich King)
Brynne – A complicated advantage (Great Gold Wyrm)
Danton – An advantage (Diabolist)