This session opened with combat, mopping up an extended, multi-sided battle between the party, an enemy group led by one of the sons of a local baron (and the ranger’s personal nemesis), some of his mercenary Greensleeves who switched sides once they learned the ranger was also a Greensleeve, and a displacer beast just lurking for an easy meal. The son/nemesis jumped off a cliff rather than face the displacer beast and the clearly-winning party members. I didn’t want some lucky arrow to take him out, and leaping to an unknown fate would prompt at least some of the PCs to give chase and get the action away from the harpies’ nest we’d been bogged down in for multiple nights now.
My dice were terrible – I don’t think I hit a single PC, but that’s how it goes with d20s sometimes. The displacer beast grabbed a downed half-elf NPC near the edge of the battle and ran away with its meal (taking almost 50 HP in the process between the warlock, wizard, and barbarian). The last enemy shoved the cleric down (my only significant combat success!) and ran for it, only to get shot in the back and fall off the cliff. The falling damage was far less forgiving to her than the Baron’s son.
The ranger found the baron’s son, Jason Hetfield (there are/were three sons, all named for Metallica bassists), near a jungle stream with two broken legs. After I realized he wasn’t going to put up a satisfying “boss fight”, I thought it would be better to have his fate be a choice. Here he was, completely helpless, no hidden weapons. Would the ranger still execute him?
The baron’s son managed to get out a prayer to Kovatch (my setting’s god of justice) before taking an arrow to the face. This at least laid the seeds of having an undead with some purpose return to harass the ranger later.
The two surviving Greensleeves, Gerte and Frederick, explained that they’d been hired by the Hetfields to accompany their men-at-arms into the mutant jungle hell of Bluegarden in search for some oracle or prophet. Shorty the halfling wizard perked up at this – she’d ventured out from her university in search of the same. Gravlaxx the Envenomator, a green dragon and apparently also an art critic, destroyed several prophetic murals and Shorty needed to find out what they had said. It was clear the Hetfields were after the same thing, and at long last I was able to tug the PCs’ backstories into a mostly-coherent whole.
The oracle was waiting for them, being an oracle and all. Mendrack-77 was a wizened polygnome (apologies to the Ultraviolet Grasslands) with a crudely-painted ceramic mask whose features shifted as he moved, like if Picasso had painted Rorshach. He saw the future through art (apologies to Heroes), and only in snippets, so although he knew where to find the party, he didn’t know their names or their entire story.
The Lady and the Garden
On the journey back to Mendrack-77’s treehouse, Orion the gnome warlock was kidnapped briefly, transported through a puddle into the lair of his archfey patron. Lady Thistledown, Princess of Change, had tasked Orion with punishing Baron Hetfield and wanted a status update. The baron had insulted the Lady during some attempt to curry her favor. Insulted archfeys have people killed, but they’re just mortals so they don’t bother to do that themselves.
I had been giving the warlock’s patron short shrift thus far and wanted to ease him into the idea that there was a catch that went along with his spellcasting. It was also fun to contrast Bluegarden, an overgrown deathworld-style jungle, with the Lady Thistledown’s garden (which, if the party ever needs to travel there for adventuring purposes, is totally going to be the Gardens of Ynn).
From the rest of the party’s perspective, the warlock just stumbled through a puddle and kept walking.
The party wanted to know why Gravlaxx wanted Mendrack dead and his oracular murals destroyed. Gravlaxx was a she, and she had a clutch of eggs to protect, eggs that could be taken and used as leverage. In order to find out where the dragon was, however, Mendrack-77 would have to paint, and to paint something specific like this would require a massive amount of drugs.
The party was able to take a long rest in the polygnome’s cluttered but well-appointed hollowed-out treehouse, but I had everyone make CON saves. Va Met the cleric and Orion failed. I had their players swap character sheets, then Rosh the ranger voluntarily failed in order to join in the shenanigans. Shorty the wizard and Gabe the barbarian were unaffected, and poked around (gaining the power to reroll once from looking through various pottery, mosaics, drawings, and paintings of various futures).
Finally Mendrack-77 finished and revealed a painting of Gravlaxx in her swamp lair. The ranger and cleric recognized the mountain pass in the hazy distance and pinpointed the rough location of the dragon’s lair.
Everyone leveled up to 4th, and we agreed that this was a nice place to end the first “season”. The cleric’s player has a Savage Worlds campaign idea brewing and we’re going to play that for a while. It’ll be good for the new players in the group (half of them are new to roleplaying games) to experience different systems and GMs.