Dramatis Personæ

Wherein A Grand Expedition Sets Out From Caithness…

It is spring, 2035, and an expedition to reclaim Castle Defiant has been organized. This expedition will be led by Ser Dane Sardock and must first cross the Great Desert, which is no easy task thanks to both the harsh climate and the presence of many aggressive tribes of lizardmen. His intended plan is to strike out from Bordertown, then cut across the narrowest portion of the Desert as he knows many of the smallfolk who are simply unprepared for the difficulty inherent in a desert crossing. To serve as his war captain, he has enlisted the aid of his close friend, Ser Rodham Malfoy, who will command the seventeen soldiers who are to help protect the smallfolk. He shall also be taking his second son, Finn, while leaving his firstborn and heir to rule over his lands while he is away.

From Wallace, the expedition heads south to Bordertown where they gather and prepare for the arduous journey upon the morrow. To the frustration of the expedition leadership, they do not set out until near midday. The centaur, Zistral, is declared to be the head scout and, along with the archer, Ilanna Hawkeye, he will be setting the route. Based mostly on Zistral’s recommendation, they will move during the day – this he believes poses the least threat, despite the high chance of lizardmen encounter. Strict water rationing is to be put into place but no one expects the smallfolk to really listen, at least on the first day. Upon breaking up this first meeting, Ser Dane takes his son, Finn, to a dinner with the Bordertown mayor; this quickly becomes excruciatingly uncomfortable for poor Finn when the mayor introduces his daughter and then starts hinting at a possible marriage. It does not help that Ser Dane seems to enjoy his son’s discomfort and plays along. Nothing is decided, of course, and Finn remains fairly noncommittal throughout.

Upon the morrow, the expedition sets out from Bordertown after a brief announcement from Ser Rodham to the smallfolk; in this short speech, he announces the strict water rationing and warns them harshly that attempts to replenish their water ahead of schedule will be flatly refused. Their first destination will be the salt mine that serves as the primary source of income for Bordertown; the road to this mine is patrolled fairly frequently and is thus expected to be safe. Unlike the previous day, the expedition mostly sets out on time.

It is very hot and many of the expedition are simply unprepared for just how hot. Finn utilizes a weave that drastically improves his temperature tolerance, but that does not help with regards to water so he begins making mental plans to obtain more water via magic; he makes sure to tease Arn for being able to actually weave his spells in the no mana zone. Arn and Thorondil have been tasked to walk with the water wagons and are forced to turn back several smallfolk during the day who have already finished their water rations for the day. Ser Rodham intervenes briefly when Thorondil is not quite as convincing as he would like and the hulking knight’s simple presence makes the smallfolk glumly back down. Throughout the trip, Haruki also spends time moving through the convoy and does what he can to make the children present smile and laugh despite the difficult trip.

The expedition arrives at the salt mine and discover it to be even more inhospitable than the part of the desert they’ve already travelled through; the terrain appears almost white from all of the salt dust. Ser Dane orders camp to be set up as far from the actual mine as possible as many of the miners are known to be prisoners and he does want to mix the groups. Once camp is set up, the second half of water rations are handed out. Arn and Thorondil note that the married soldiers tend to sneak bits of their water rations to their families, which is against Ser Rodham’s instructions; neither of the men reveal this, though Arn is torn between his sense of honesty and his code of honor. During the water replenishment, Finn gets permission from his father to utilize his spell-weaving to refill at least one of the now empty water barrels; it isn’t much, only about 40 gallons, and it takes an hour to do this, but it is something. That evening, another ‘brain trust’ gathering takes place in which it is debated whether they should instead move during the night as opposed to the day, but it is decided to continue moving during the day because the benefits outweigh the difficulties. Also, late that evening, Thorondil seeks out the salt mine’s water tower to climb.

In the morning, the various characters get up to carry out their assigned tasks. Arn and Thorondil are still on water protection/hand out detail, while Haruki and Yusuf circle amongst the camp, hoping to encourage the smallfolk to pick up the pace. One such family is definitely lagging behind so, while Haruki attempts to talk sense into the irritated and unenthusiastic children, Yusuf bellows an order for the family to pick up the damned pace! The family jump to obey but are not particularly happy with the former gladiator for being singled out as lagging behind. During this, Finn moves through the camp, offering suggestions and recommendations and instructions about how to pick up the pace; demonstrating some clear leadership in this, he draws an approving look from his father but, being a delusional sort, probably misinterprets this.

Into the deeper desert the expedition goes where they find the terrain is even more unforgiving. The heat is unrelenting and there is no longer a road to follow. Ilanna and Zistral are at the vanguard of the convoy as befitting scouts and, around midday, catch sight of a quartet of armed lizardmen atop strange-looking beasts of burden. There is a tense stand-off as the two groups stare at one another, with Zistral side-stepping as appropriate to ensure that the lizardmen never quite have a clear route to the convoy. After some time, the lizardmen clearly grow frustrated with this and instead, begin advancing on the two scouts which Zistral knows is a very bad sign…

Player Notes:

  • Recap by Rigil Kent.
  • Spent a long, long time just trying to iron out Feste’s Fantasy Grounds and TeamSpeak problems. Computers very clearly hate him – I’d be willing to bet that in the sessions he’s played with us, easily 75% or more of them have included him having some sort of technical difficulty.
  • Looking at things objectively, we actually didn’t get a lot done, but that’s almost to be expected when you start a brand new campaign with brand new characters, not to mention doing a long desert crossing.
  • Four of the seven players represent the children of five of the previous Banestorm characters. Not bad for a ‘Next Generation’ thing – could be five of the seven if I (Rigil) can talk the GM into revealing a Secret that Ser Dane is actually Ilanna’s dad. 😛
  • Yes, I know that “Ser” is the wrong way to spell it but that’s how it was done in the Game of Thrones books and I rather liked that affection, so I went with it.
  • Herodian and Melissa are scheduled to be absent next week, which is ironic considering where we left off.