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Subject: Stem the Tide [Prologue - Part 1] rss

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Prologue
Leaving Evereska - Part 1


Next Session: Prologue - Part 2

Game System: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Setting: Forgotten Realms

RPG Items Referenced
Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves
Volo's Guide to the Dalelands
The Grand History of the Realms

Characters
Val'istar Aerenae - Sun Elf (M) | Wizard/Sorcerer 1/1 (Looking to become a Harrower)
Mahat Aerenae - Elf (M) | Wizard 2
- Human | Barbarian/??? 1/1
- Human | Barbarian/??? 1/1

Before I begin, I wanted to state that I was inspired to write these Session Reports based on the work Astinex has done with his Past and Current Session reports. He is currently the GM for my Saturday game, a group that has been together mostly since our high school days. Most of us are now with little ones, but we still find the time to get together and game every other weekend. Astinex is currently running a campaign called Gruumsh's Revenge, where I'm playing Kagan the Destroyer. What we've been doing over the past couple of campaigns now is running them all within the same world. With over 20 years of gaming with this group, this is something we've never done before. In the past, with every new campaign we've reset the world or played in such a dramatically different part of the Realms that campaigns never touch.

PS: I hope he doesn't mind me copying his Session Report format. =)

Gruumsh's Black Heart Tie-In
Dirty Half Dozen - The campaign that started it all, for which I was the GM. A team of Zhentish citizens deal with the razing of Zhentil Keep, and a new threat of an orc horde from Thar. The most pressing matter is the starvation of the people of Zhentil Keep. This is brought on in part by Melvaunt's navy conducting a naval blockade, to prevent the arrival of vital food supplies for the beleaguered people of Zhentil Keep. They are tasked to turn the negative of an orc horde, into a positive. They are to attempt directing the horde into attacking Melvaunt. The mission was a success, and the storyline is on hold while the group plays the following campaign.

Gruumsh's Revenge - In this currently running campaign, the point of view is switched, to where the PCs are scions within the Orc Horde. They are on a religious quest.

Stem the Tide - In this new branch of the campaign world, the good people of the Dales must respond to the growing darkness on their borders. This campaign is being played by an online group I've been in for at least 4 years. Everyone in the group is based in the Netherlands or countries there about. We play using Fantasy Grounds II and Skype.

Character Background
Val'istar Aerenae - An elf that has grown up within the protective caldera that confines Evereska. He has desired adventure in his life, but has found little between the studies that his Great Grandfather, Ardirion Aerenae, has drilled into him. Ardirion is very secretive with the life that he left in Cormanthor. This leaves Val'istar to be an elf from a family with a mysterious and mostly forgotten past.

Mahat Aerenae - A low born elf with sizable desires to become an elven hero and to walk among the nobles as one of their own, Mahat is born for high adventure.

Missing Characters - The other two characters haven't submitted their official backgrounds to me as of yet, but that is alright as the campaign isn't due to begin for another month or so. The group is finishing up the last book for the Second Darkness.

Significant NPCs
Ardirion Aerenae - A hero of the elven people, but at one time the last of his family line. His family murdered by the machinations of the Trio Nefarious, he exacted his revenge in -1200 DR. As one of the High Mages that formed the prison which held the Trio Nefarious, he stepped into its confines as one of its jailers, along which his future life companion Pabes. In 708 DR, the prison was opened, releasing the Trio Nefarious, which then led to the Fall of Myth Drannor. It is unknown what hardships Ardirion had to endure in his life, but something is keeping him tied to this world. Having out lived his wife Pabes, he still holds onto his spirit well past 1000 years of life.

Elven Family Crests
One of the story elements in this session was the Aerenae Family Crest. In my world, Elven families hold their family crests in high regard, as they both identify their family, and can tell a story of their lineage. Once a family crest is established, it can only be altered through the great exploits of the family, as viewed by elven society. When Ardirion and Pabes returned to his people, they were both viewed as heroes of the people. With this status, and their bonding ceremony, it was appropriate for Ardirion to add to the family crest. Most of the items within this session held the markings that used the former Aerenae crest.

Introduction
It is the 1369th year since the construction of the Standing Stone by the elves of Cormanthyr, marking the day that the elves acquiesced to the continued human intrusions into their lands. The Standing Stone marked the day in which an agreement of peace was had between the men of the cleared lands surrounding Cormanthor and the Elves whom dwell within the dark forest. The Dales Compact agreed that the elves would no longer resist the settling of the cleared lands, as long as the men of the Dales take no action to further reduce the woods blessed by Corellon himself. These settled areas became known as the Dales, famous for their rich soil and over time the slow discovery of secrets hidden by the dark forests. These Dales have been settled by those who have learned to live well with their elven neighbors.

On the northern border of this ancient forest is a land settled by a different breed of man. This northern land lying across the River Tesh is the domain of Zhentil Keep. An independent city state ruled by the tyrannical might of the arcane and divine merchants known as the Zhentarim. It is located at the mouth of the River Tesh as it flows into the dark waters of the Moonsea. An inner sea, with its shores dotted with several powerful merchant cities, the Moonsea is an economic powerhouse as it has access to the Sea of the Falling Stars, delivering goods from the northern and Dale regions to several nations to the south. The Zhentish people are an aggressive and rigid folk, priding themselves with their military arm known as the Zhentilar. The Zhentarim have beset the Dales with attacks by their Zhentilar military, gaining control of many towns and cities within the region, some former Dales. They exist as a dark shadow looming over the Dalemen's shoulders for centuries.

During the first thaw of spring, joyful news came down from the north that Zhentil Keep had seen some dark times of their own. A horde of dragons, giants, and humanoids descended from the Dragonspine Mountains and set Zhentil Keep to ruins. All that remains of the city is the southern foreign quarter that resides on the southern shores of the River Tesh. Rumors of starvation occurring among the city's survivors has been welcomed by the Dalesmen, as most believe that such hardships are justice delivered due to past transgressions. Even further, some see this as an opportunity for the Dalesmen to reap a profit with the sale of their hearty grains to the beleaguered city.

Concern that there are darker times ahead has grown as the year progressed. Rumors that an orc horde has formed in the distant lands of Thar, a marsh & steppe land that lies along the northern shores of the Moonsea. While not a serious concern with the men of the Dales, there may be a connection with the secrets hidden within the ancient dark woods of Cormanthyr.

From Pauper to Hero
The following is the origin story that the player of Mahat made for his character.

Quote:
The cave was dark, dusty and the temperature inside was only modestly lower than that of the hot and arid desert outside. It was also littered with treasure of all kinds – gold, jewels, statues made of both the former – but none of it all was particularly helpful to Mahat at that particular moment. The elven youngster had braved the desert for weeks looking for just this exact treasure cave long thought lost. On the way there had lost his horse and had drank all the food and water he had brought with him. As it turned out, riches and treasures beyond imagination did little to quench ones thirst or hunger.

“Well... shit...” he said, being the fearless master of the witty dialogue, as he gloomily looked over the treasure trove before him. He was not about to let something as meager a challenge as starvation and/or dehydration overcome him though; not after he had gotten this far. Surely there would be something to eat or drink down here?

As it happened, amidst all the treasure gathered around him, Mahat did stumble across one particular item that made his heart leap with joy. A teapot. A rather bland looking one at that, fashioned out of simple clay. Odd considering it was buried among gold and jewels just like that, one could at least have expected it to be an ornate teapot? Mahat did not care though, he was thirsty as hell. He grabbed the teapot with both hands, eager to drop its contents straight into his mouth, but the moment he touched the clay thing all hell broke lose.

Smoke, lightning, thunder, fireworks, all that followed by the appearance of a bright golden entity. The most impressive entry Mahat had seen in his life. “ACK!” he cried out, being the fearless master of the witty dialogue. The entity looked upon the elf with fiery eyes and its voice boomed and echoed along the cavern walls. “Mortal! I am the genie of the eternal desert. After three centuries thou hast come and set me free! Three wishes for a reward I shall grant thee!”

Mahat blinked once, blinked twice, but the genie did not go away. Which meant it wasn't merely a byproduct of his food and water starved brain. “Uhm... err... hi!” he said after a few moments, for he was the fearless master of the witty dialogue. “Speak thine wishes mortal!” the genie bellowed. “Any three I shall grant thee!”

“Ah. Well, I was hoping to find some tea actually when I touched your... teapot. Kinda wish I had some tea right now.”

The genie quirked an eyebrow, then snapped his fingers. Lo' and behold, a cup of the freshest, thirst quenchiest mint tea appeared before the elf, who did not forget his manners and worded a polite thank you before taking a couple of hearty sips, his thirst instantly quenched for it was truly a brew fit for a sultan.

“Thine first wish I have granted to thee, mortal. Speak thine second!” the genie bellowed. Mahat, still happily drinking the tea, gazed up again and said: “Hmm... now that I think of it, I am kinda hungry too. Really wish I could have a nice big waffle to eat...” The genie quirked his other eyebrow. “Thou hast been given two more all powerful wishes and thou wouldst use them for... a waffle?” he asked. Mahat considered that for a moment and nodded. “You're right. I could have like... a whole plate of waffles right?!” he asked and gave the genie a hopeful grin. The genie rolled his eyes, let out a heavy sigh and once again snapped his fingers. Lo' and behold, a plate full of the sweetest, syrup coatedtiest waffles appeared in front of the elven youngster, who once again spoke a polite thank you before digging in, his hunger almost instantly sated for these truly were fine waffles fit for a king.

“I have granted thee two wishes mortal, now speak thine third and last wish!” the genie bellowed, adding: “And make it count this time.” under his breath. Mahat looked up to the genie once more and said: “Hrm. Welp. I kinda wish t' get back home. Iffa cld have a camel dat'd be fantashtic.” He was unable to properly pronounce his words, for he had stuffed his face full with delicious waffles, but it did not matter for he was still obviously the fearless master of the witty dialogue.

The genie rolled his eyes once again. “Now look here... you could have anything you ever wanted... surely there must be something else you want besides a mere camel?” The more perceptive readers among you will notice that the genie was indeed so confused by the elf's far too modest wishes that he completely forgot to speak the archaic dialect he was contractually obligated to use in his official capacity as the genie of the eternal desert.

Mahat thought about if for a moment, then shook his head. “I came to find this cave, find myself some treasure and return home wealthy enough to feed my family. All I need for that is a good camel... and maybe some waffles for on the road...”

The genie sighed heavily. “No... look forget the bloody camel alright? I'll throw it in as a freebie. Now think! There must be SOMETHING I could give you. Something you've always wanted. Something you've always dreamed about? Fabulous riches? A beautiful princes?”

Mahat swallowed the last big of his waffle, drank the last of the sweet mint tea and sat still to think for a moment. “Hrm. Well... I guess I always wanted to be a wizard...”

The genie, for the first time, let out a hearthy laugh. “Done mortal! I shall teach thee mine craft!”

Mahat flashed the genie a wide, happy grin and said: “Cool.” For he was the fearless master of the witty dialogue.


To introduce the first bit of Fate, which will be an on going thread within this campaign, I had Mahat's gifted spellbook have the old Aerenae family crest embossed upon its cover. With the wealth he received from the genie he lived the life of a noble within an inn, The Shielded Caldera, near the Academy of Magic. While studying within the inn's dining hall he encountered Vil'istar, and noted that the crest upon the book matched the one Vil'istar wore upon his well worn but rich robes. Mahat and Vil'istar became quick friends. When introduced to his family, they quickly came to love him as one of their own. Led by Ardirion, they offered to adopt him into their family. He quickly accepted and the once friends were now brothers.

As Fate Would Have It
Even though I promised to not start off the campaign in a bar, I did so anyway. Vil'istar and Mahat were looking to enjoy a few drinks on the mid day. Their favored drink, the Sweet Cormanthor Waters, is a sweet mead that is produced in the Cormanthor woods, and shipped to Evereska. They received the sour news that the latest of shipment of the drink had been lost enroute from the Elven Court. The inn needing to conserve their supply, decided to raise the price of the drink by more than double. Though disheartened by the news, they still ordered a couple of the sweet meads.

During their drinks they discuss the boredom that is their life within the protective guard of Evereska. Mahat's telling of the genie story can only be told so many times, even with each time the story becoming for fantastical. Their thoughts of adventure again, led to no decisions.

Not wanting to spend their entire allowance, they cut their drinking short and headed to their family's estate to have tea with their great grandfather, Ardirion, to discuss the arcane arts as they frequently do.

While returning to the family estate, the characters came upon an elven merchant engaged in a heated discussion with a female elven commoner. Try as the merchant could, his efforts were unsuccessful in calming the maiden's temper. It wasn't this exchange that caught Val'istar's eye, it was the male elf in the back of the merchant's wagon. This elf attempting to hide within the shadows of the wagon, was unlocking chests in search of soon to be ill gotten goods, which he was quickly pocketing within a purse.

Val'istar pointed to the interesting scenario that was playing out before them, and decided to act. They quickly captured the male rogue, and explained to the stunned merchant, Melimborn Mithtanas, what they had observed. He was pleased with the assistance. He recovered the stolen goods, which included a pair of tarnished silverware. When explaining what had occurred to the city's guard, Val'istar notices that at the top of their handles was the a copy of the older design of their family's crest!

Questioning the merchant in front of the guards, they find that the merchant is from the Elven Court. He and his business partner do a service to the elven people. As they pass through a human community called Mistledale, they scour the shops of any recently sold elven goods that had been looted from the nearby elven woods of Cormanthyr. During this last trip, he had recovered an incomplete set of lost silverware. Showing them the recovered case of silver, it too had their older family crest upon its lid. He explained that he was unable to locate the family to which the crest belonged, so he was intending to return with them to the Elven Court. There he would employ the help of a friend to research the crest. Since they clearly are of the family and for their assistance, he gifted the entire set to them as a reward. They also learn that this was the merchant that had the misfortune of loosing his load of Sweet Cormanthor Water when running from some raiding goblins.

The PCs continued on to meet with their Great Grandfather for tea, loaded with questions and an undeniable prop!! In spite of their probing of Ardirion with questions about the silverware, they do not gleam from him any information on his time in Cormanthor. As things tend to go between children and their elders, they lacked the conviction to press him. Their respect for their elder is great. The conversation quickly turns to matters of the Arcane. During the lengthy discussion they notice a rolled up letter sitting upon their grandfather's end table.

After a time their grandfather falls asleep during their talks on the higher aspects of the arcane. Val'istar nervously takes a glance at the inviting scroll, filling himself with the guilt of prying into his grandfather's private dealings.



With this stunning news, they conspired as to what to do next, for the taste of adventure was so inviting! They considered further pushing their grandfather, and inform him that they were deciding to go to Cormanthor, but that thought was dashed by Mahat. He knew that if they were to ask their grandfather for permission, it would be denied, and denied with fervor.

Instead they decided that it would be best to ask for forgiveness, than to ask for permission. They then approached their more supportive father, and informed him of their desires. He agreed to provide cover for their departure. He confesses to them that he also desired to depart for Cormanthor in his younger years, but Ardirion denied any such foolishness. Their father was proud of them and their displayed courage.

Since we were running short on time, I sped the pair through their exchange with Melimborn and provide a summary description of the trip from Evereska to the inviting woods of Cormanthor. I will be looking into giving them a better rundown of their trip, though uneventful, would have been eye opening.

Character Development

Val'istar - The guilt he felt for sneaking a peek at the parchment and further not telling their grandfather of their departure was a serious concern for Val'istar. I'm hoping that this level of moral judgement continues through the sessions. It should make for some great roleplaying sessions.

Mahat - Desiring to be something of a story teller, he appears to be looking to fill the role of the life of the party. His desire for adventure is stronger than Val'istar. I look forward to seeing these two play off of each other.


The next concern I have is how to work the two barbarian characters into the middle of the story, and avoid them being just side characters. Well I have a month to work that out, and will push for their backgrounds. Should be fun!

So I hope you enjoyed the reading of this session as much as I did running and retelling it!

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results!
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Re: Stem the Tide [Prologue]
Interesting session report! I can't wait to hear of the eventual exploits of your group.

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