The prefix in front of the title is to help differentiate between Southern Reaches adventure logs, Verden adventure logs, and me just rambling. In this case it means "Southern Reaches, session 21". Verden adventure log titles will still start "Verden:". From this point forward, if it doesn't have a prefix, it's just me talking about something.
This session happened Friday, September 24, 2010, and was the only session I ran this past weekend.
Su Bel (human cleric)
Mog the Doomed (half-orc barbarian)
Tycho von Helmont (elf alchemist)
Agnes Sunbeard (dwarf rogue)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorcerer)
Note: the list of player characters is in player sitting order, from my left and then clockwise around the table.
Autumn has arrived along with the great herds of aurochs. The Woodcutter's Camp has been abandoned again and the farms surrounding the Iron Keep have slowly emptied as the farmer families have moved in behind the solid walls of the town. It's not the herds that drive the people back inside the walls, but the auroch herders – the gnolls. Gnolls follow and guide the herds and consider any land the herds move across as theirs.
The available adventurers made some last minute purchases of gear (Tycho bought 10 bear traps and Thorngrim located a ring of sustenance) and then headed out. Being short on funds, the group had decided that they wanted treasure. Narrowing down preferred adventure locales to either the Terrace of Fallen Horses or Santa Fe, they opted for Santa Fe due to the lack of undead.
As they passed Jericho's Cairn on the Gravemarker Road, Tycho noticed that the cairn had been disturbed. When Agnes checked the disturbance, she discovered that someone had buried a holy symbol of Pharasma in the cairn. This was unusual and the group took the holy symbol for later investigation. Later in the day the group arrived at Drop-off Tower and camped for the night.
The next day the adventurers followed the Old Road through the Three Peaks Hills to the edge of the Sea of Grass. Instead of unending vistas of tall prarie grass, they found immense herds of aurochs slowly moving north. Where the herds went, only shorn grass and turned and packed earth remained. Additionally, there were large groups of dog-headed gnolls following/guiding the herds. The adventurers carefully made their way along the remains of the Grass Road, Thorngrim marking the trail with the wizard mark spell. As they made their way across the Sea of Grass, they killed a giant scorpion laying in wait for a lone auroch and avoided a prowling dire lion. When the sun set, they were still in the Sea of Grass and had to make camp. Luckily, the only predators that bothered them were a pair of cheetahs that Mog scared off.
The next day, dark clouds started filling the sky and the sound of thunder grew close. Barely an hour into the day's march, the adventurers were overrun by an auroch stampede! In the ensuing chaos, the adventurers became separated. After killing with one swing of his axe the first auroch attempting to trample him, Mog grabbed Su Bel and ran, Mog trying to move fast enough to keep up yet avoid getting trampled. He was marginally successful, getting he and Su Bel to a large rock outcropping in the Sea of Grass that the aurochs had to flow around, but he was greatly battered and bruised as a result of his efforts. Tycho was able to quaff a potion of expeditious retreat and eventually make his way out of the stampede and to the nearest part of the Pueblo Hills. Agnes, not able to keep up with stampeding aurochs, acrobatically leaped up onto one and rode it with the stampede, guiding her "mount" when she could. It ran for the better part of an hour, depositing her somewhere in the Pueblo Hills, lost. Thorngrim, rather than run from the aurochs, hunkered down behind the corpse of the auroch Mog had killed and used a ghost sound of a roaring dire lion to convinced the aurochs to run around him, not over him.
When the stampede finally passed, the sky opened up and rain poured down and kept pouring. The adventurers gradually found their way to Santa Fe. Agnes was able to use the arrow of direction found in a previous expedition to guide her way through the hills, arriving first. She scaled the cliff to the entrance of Santa Fe, made a fire to dry off with, and waited for her companions to arrive. Tycho and Thorngrim arrived a couple hours later, having met up on the Sea of Grass. Mog and Su Bel arrived last, after getting lost several times in the hill. The group camped for the night, sheltered from the continuing rain.
When dawn broke, so to did the rains. After consulting their maps of Santa Fe, the group decided to climb a set of spiral stairs they had not checked out on previous trips. The spiral stairwell led up to a set of rooms behind the upper shelf in the overhang Santa Fe was built into. The stairs opened on a hallway that led to the upper shelf and some defensive works. There were two doors in the hall, each on an opposite wall. After Agnes checked both, she announced one was dangerously trapped, the other only locked. The group decided to explore the locked door.
Behind the door was an octagonal room, in the center of which was an immobile statue that Thorngrim and Tycho identified as a clay golem. After a brief huddle and some preparation, the adventurers attacked the golem, an enlarged Mog and enlarged Agnes advancing to flank and strike the golem. The golem, unmoving and long unused to people took time to get back up to speed, a fatally long time. Thorngrim used grease to drop the golem prone while Mog and Agnes continued to press their attacks, eventually destroying the golem, but not before it gave Mog a wound the adventurers were not able to heal.
There were two doors providing exit from the octagon room. Agnes checked both doors, pronouncing one locked and trapped, the other only locked. She unlocked the second door and had Mog open it. He pulled the door open, triggering a trap Agnes had missed. Stone slabs dropped into place, sealing the exits to the octagon room and water started pouring into the room [from the recently refilled cisterns]. Su Bell and Thorngrim were still in the hallway, but Mog, Agnes, and Tycho were trapped in the rapidly flooding room. Mog started attacking the slab blocking the way back and Agnes moved to help him. With increasing desperation as the waters rose, Mog and Agnes attempted to shatter the slab. Just as the water reached over Agnes's shoulders, they cracked the slab into pieces, allowing the water to flow out.
Once the water drained away, the two rooms beyond the doors were explored, each a treasure room! The first room contained three large urns, the first filled with copper coins, the second with a fine oil, and the third with wine that had gone bad and was now vinegar. The second room contained an urn of silver coins, and urn of gold coins, and an odd ivory tusk with a map carved into it.
With literally more treasure than they could carry, the group decided to return to the Iron Keep. After camping for the night, they headed out. They had to avoid another dire lion prowling for food and reroute around a large mire caused by the torrential rains, but two days later they were back at Drop-off Tower. They camped at the Tower and stashed the ivory tusk with the map (after taking rubbings of the map). Tycho, having gained some insight during the expedition, was able to finally heal some of the damage Mog took from the clay golem. The next day the adventurers returned to the Iron Keep. Su Bel now had enough money to pay for two restoration spells to be cast upon Mog, finally erasing the last aftereffects from his being raised from the dead. This was a loan, not a gift, and so she required he give her half of his current monies so she would not be without funds. Mog readily agreed.
[During the between session time, Tycho is finally able to heal Mog of all the damage from the clay golem. Mog will be out of action next session as he waits to get both restorations cast upon him. This period of cleansing and meditation is a condition of the temple. Out of game, Mog's player will be out, so this is not an issue, but would be necessary even if he was going to be here next week. This means that either the group would let two weeks pass in-game or Mog would have started a second character.]