[Start of Day 33. Boggards and Trogs.]
[This game uses the Pathfinder 1E roleplaying game. Game sessions happen once a week. This session happened January 25, 2021.]
[SPOILERS! If you are likely to adventure through the Shattered Star Adventure Path from Paizo, this campaign will be spoilers all the way down.]
Zitch Grimreaper – male ratfolk 5th level Witch with a donkey rat (capybara) familiar
Roscuro – male ratfolk 5th level Monk
Swamprover – female grippli 4th level Wizard
Marativy – female ratfolk 5th level Ninja
Winston – male ratfolk 5th level Gunslinger
Not Appearing in this Session
Templeton von Trapp – male ratfolk 5th level Summoner (Synthesist)
Auto – a clockwork servant fixated on Winston [whom we totally forgot about until Session 6]
Gridik Stormstride – male blue kobold 1st level Wizard (Invoker)
Mel Sharples – male halfling Cook (Expert of unknown level)
Alice Hyatt – female halfling Bodyguard (Warrior of unknown level)
Flo’ Castleberry – female gnome Bodyguard (Warrior of unknown level)
Day 33, Expedition Day 3
Having failed to locate an entrance to the areas below the Lady’s Light lighthouse in the vicinity of the lighthouse itself, the Ratpack decided it might be worthwhile to search further afield. Additionally, they were still bound to make contact with any local tribes and set up a meeting with agents of Sabriyya Kalmeralm. As a result the group decided to go speak with the boggards Malroux indicated lived to the south of the Ratpack campsite. The boggards might also know of an entrance to the dungeon the ratfolk sought.
The Ratpack walked south from the campsite. As they passed the place the giant frogs lived, they noticed the frogs noticing the group, but the frogs made no moves and so the group walked past them. [This part technically happened at the end of the previous game session prior to us calling it a night, but it fits better here narrative-wise.]
Once the Ratpack got near the boggard camp, they could see the wooden shacks of a village. The Ratpack approached openly [except Marativy who chose to stealth up separate from the group], doing their best to not appear threatening nor as potential victims. The ground is first wet then has a foot of water on it. As this is nearly chest high for Swamprover [the grippli is only 1 foot, 9 inches tall], Roscuro allowed her to stand on his shoulders. Winston stepped into a snare trap as the group approached the village and had to be cut down. Oddly, the boggards did not approach or even come out of their shacks while this was happening.
[Note: the color text describes there being a foot of water covering the ground over the entire village but the actual map of the village shows dry ground. We asked the Other GM to verify the water was supposed to be there and he confirmed the text said there was water. This is another time where the text and the map of a location do not match up in this adventure path.]
Reaching the edge of the village and still seeing no one, Roscuro asked Swamprover to call out a hello in the Boggard tongue. Three boggard guards stepped out of some of the shacks and told the group to go away, no outsiders were allowed. The Ratpack asked a few questions to find out how they might get to talk with someone, but the guards refused to talk any more and summoned additional guards. The Ratpack diplomatically accepted this and walked away, except Marativy who stayed and observed what happened next from a concealed location.
After a short time, Marativy caught up with the rest of the group and reported on what she had seen. The boggard leader came out of the largest hut and other boggards also appeared. The leader talked emphatically at the other boggards before going back inside. Marativy drew an excellent likeness of the boggard's leader. Roscuro assumed the boggards would shadow the group for a while and he hoped doing so would convince the boggards that maybe talking to the ratfolk would be OK.
After a short discussion, the group decided to investigate a “cave with a monster in it” that Maroux had told Swamprover about. The group followed the Slug River east. Along the way a fording spot was found and marked on the map but not used. A little further the group arrived at the point where they wanted to cross. The river was 30 feet across there and it looked possible to swim. Roscuro instead decided a raft would be better and so the group gathered wood to make a raft. [Roscuro also estimated he could jump across the entire river by using a ki point, but that would put him on the far side of a river from his friends in potentially hostile territory and that did not sound wise.]
Raft constructed [thanks to Winston’s solid Survival skill check], the group moved across the river. Another thirty minutes and they found the cave they were looking for. Winston identified tracks on the ground as belonging to a hydra. Scorch marks around the cave suggested that it was likely a pyrohydra! After some quiet discussion, Marativy snuck into the cave to see what was actually there. Inside the cave she found the hydra’s lair. It appeared to be sleeping but had seven heads! She quietly retreated and reported her findings.
The group discussed options. Roscuro felt that the pyrohydra was just inside the group’s capabilities, but the group decided that they did not want to try it right now. [This was because there were other places to look still and that Templeton’s player was not at the game, meaning Templeton was not available for the combat. As he is one of our primary combatants, that put us at a disadvantage.] The group returned to the river and crossed back across to the north side of it, where they hid the raft for later use.
As the group headed north from there, they found the source of the awful smell they originally noticed on the way in. It was not the suspected troglodyte camp, but the site of a big battle between the boggards and the troglodytes. The battle happened nearly a week previous and both sides had left their dead where they fell to rot.
Winston put his survival skills to use to read the battlefield and work out what happened. Some of the troglodytes had wounds from steel weapons but boggards were known to fight with wood and stone, not steel. It appeared the troglodytes took heavy casualties early in the fight but gradually turned the tide against the boggards. A trail of boggard dead showed the boggard retreat path, indicating that the troglodytes won the battle. Examination of the weapons left behind showed that the boggard arrows had a primitive kind of poison on their tips that would cause filth fever in any survivors on the troglodyte side. Use of poisoned weapons was very unlike the boggards. Roscuro’s theory was that the humans from Corvosa were aiding the boggards against the troglodytes, teaching the boggards new tactics. It was possible the humans had abandoned the boggards part way through the fight, which is why the troglodytes won.
The Ratpack left the battlefield and walked north, searching for another hour before finding the troglodyte cave. There was a rudimentary wooden barricade across the entrance. The barricade was not solid - it appeared to be for restricting the number able to enter the cave, not keeping everyone out.
Marativy used stealth to approach the barricade unseen while the rest of the Ratpack stayed back. When Marativy got close to the barricade, she noticed it was doused in oil. She carefully and silently stepped partially through one of the gaps near the cave wall and looked into the cave beyond it. She saw five troglodytes, two had lit torches and three had javelins. It was clear they would light the barricade once attackers were passing through it and then kill the few inside the cave while the fire burned the rest. Marativy withdrew back to the rest of the Ratpack and reported what she had seen.
The Ratpack discussed their options, including lighting the barricade pre-emptively. It was decided to attempt negotiations first, then light the barricade. Swamprover called out a greeting in Draconic [the language the troglodytes speak] to silence. She then called out an offer to heal their sick. This got a response of “Our gods will save us.” At this point Roscuro was done with the trogs [the group had history with troglodytes and not liking them] and ordered the barricade lit. Swamprover used Burning Hands to light it and it burned for five minutes before being reduced to ash.
After the fire burned out, Marativy advanced silently [she has a huge skill bonus to her Stealth roll so this was safe for her to do] and peeked into the cave. She now only saw four troglodytes, all armed with javelins. She returned and reported. Winston walked up the the still hot remains of the barricade and made a final offer to heal their sick. The troglodytes responded by throwing their javelins, on of which nicked Winston [for 2 points of damage].
The fight was on.
End of Session
[Yeah, we don’t like troglodytes at all after our first encounters with them in the siege castle. This was going to end up a fight no matter what happened, but we felt obliged to offer assistance first. Attacking a whole village/camp carried its own dangers and if we could safely gain access to the dungeon we would accept it. But we really didn’t try very hard.]
[While this session we resumed face-to-face play with only some of our players remote, one of those players was remote because she caught Covid at work. We were also down Templeton’s player for work-related reasons and it modified our decision making in regards to the pyrohydra. I think we could have taken it as a group, but not without Templeton present. Not everyone shares my confidence, so we went to see the trogs and fight them instead.]