Banished

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Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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Day 1
4 days in

The adventure begins with the characters enjoying a carriage ride in a carriage with no windows or portholes. Quara and Lia are bound and not fully conscious along with a handful of other commoners. Conversation is slim mostly getting names and why they were here. The ride ends after a few hours and the carriage doors open to two armed guards ordering the passengers out, at this same moment those that were bound seemed to fully recover though still bound.

Over forty citizens of the empire are lined up in a small clearing facing a line of four carriages. Each carriage having a magically enhanced repeating ballista manned and pointed at the citizens. One of the guards stand on top of one of the carriages, produces a scroll and reads its contents. Once he’s finished reading the scroll ignites and burns to ash in a brief few seconds, only Quara has the state of mind to realize a spell was just cast upon them. The guards immediately drop their guard and begin securing the carriages for travel; the bonds upon several citizens also fall off and crumble to dust at the same time.

As the guards left, the group turned and spotted two wagons left for them. Lia not one to be shaken by such sudden turns of events nimbly jumped up onto one ready to go. The carts where not empty as she had thought, one was filled with tools, books and a few weapons the other held food and water. A map had also been left showing little more of the valley than what could be seen from where they now stood.

An estimation of the rations and a count of the people was made and this found that in three to four days the supplies ran out. And the first order of business was organizing teams, Varric quickly found and tested five candidates for a hunting party, Quara selected five to gather food as the carts moved, Lia got two to drive the carts and those left where given lookout duty. A discussion took place as to a destination, they decided to head east along the mountain towards the forest.

Varric and the hunting party headed out at a hustle to hunt, and the carts moved toward the first agreed waypoint. This day proved to be a huge success of both the hunters and the gatherers and they easily collected more than enough food to feed everyone. But as they neared the waypoint Lia and several lookouts spotted an ambush ahead and called a holt. This caused the bandits to step forward and demand that they hand over the carts, this caused Lia to leapt forward conjuring fire into her hands demanding their equipment. A brief but fierce battle ensued.

Itchy on the trigger the bandits fired the first volley, Erky too busy working away crafting didn’t see the bolt until it was in his chest. The hunting party had quickly lined up with Gepav and Varric but when Erky and one of them fell before they had even drawn an arrow, defeat was in their eyes. Lia staggered by bolts that had struck her would have none of that. She rushed over to the fallen hunter after casually throwing her conjured fire at the bandits. Natural magic flowed like water as she pulled the bolt free and the wound on the hunter closed behind it. With the command voice expected of a first mate she order the hunter to his feet. Steeled by this the hunters and Varric notched and loosed, Quara bent magic to her command and a stream of fire shot from her finger.

Near half the bandits fell to this onslaught, of those remaining only two managed to reload their crossbows the others broke or jammed due to poor quality, they instead drew sword and formed up to charge. The crossbows fired in a panic and missed. A second volley of magic and arrows dropped the remaining crossbow men, Gepav stepped forward spinning his flail and calling a challenge. Two Bandits beaten lost their morale and tried to run only to be brought down by arrow and magic. The last charged at Gepav only to shatter his sword on his armor, only having a brief moment to stare at is ruined sword before Gepav crushed his skull.

Little was learned about these bandits, except they were poorly equiped and working for someone’s approval. Many of their weapons had broken in the fight but Erky announced that he could repair them and so all was collected. Several of the hunters after the morale boost of the victorious fight felt they could work independently and thus increase the chances of a good catch, Varric agreed. Gepav felt it necessary to train the commoners to fight and began training them with the newly acquired weapons.

The night moved uneventfully, and in the early moving a ford was easily found in the river and the party moved off, this time the hunting party broke up and only one remained with Varric. Hunting this day was very slim, perhaps the smell of the half dozen dead bandits had scared the prey off. Lia and the lookouts spotted a person following them several times throughout the day, but too far to the north to successfully rush. When Varric returned his trainee was finally confident enough to head out of his own, so Varric decided that after tomorrows hunt he would try circling around to get at this follower. The other hunters came back feeling very triumphant, as they had brought down a buffalo, though impressive there was less useful meat on it than the smaller deer Varric had brought in. Lia was approached that night by a wood elf commoner who had felt the flow of her magic and wanted to know more of such things, Lia thought it would be a good idea to have an apprentice and agreed to teach the elf.

The next day proceeded in much the same manner, another buffalo was found but as the hunter couldn’t find any support he felt it better to not try alone and returned empty handed. Varric after a successful hunt slipped away from the group and circled around behind their follower who was spotted once again toward the mountain. Varric caught the scout off guard and brought him down before he even knew what was happening. Returning to the convoy with the scout over his shoulders quickly stripped and tied he was revived and interrogated viciously. The scout was openly defiant at first but one broken leg later, courtesy of the former pirate Lia, he sang like a bird.

He spoke of a the Bandit city in the mountains lead by a person called Skull Crunch, based out of an ancient dwarf outpost. These bandits survived by raiding the goblin clans that lived in the hills to the west, they avoid the forests for fear of the elves and the far southwest where ogres had been sighted. He also told of how they sent new recruits out to raid new arrivals like them. His final piece of information was about how in the middle of summer centaurs entered the valley from the southeast and hunted for a month before returning south.

A brief discussion was taken as what to do with this man, Lia having dealt with scum much of her life saw that this man would slip out into the night and slit a few throats on his was out if they allowed him to stay and heal. And so without much thought she slit his throat and left him behind.

The fourth day began with new hope, peace with the elves and shelter near their forest. The hunting parties fanned out and the carts started out, but very early in the days travel Lia and the lookouts once more spotted someone following them. This time there was two, one was an animal, a wolf, and the other one Lia felt was elven. Hope for a peaceful encounter Lia called out in elvish a sign of peace and a request for contact. Hope briefly fell and an arrow whistled through the air but it fell very short and was clearly a signal arrow with a note attached.

The note was written in elegant and flowing elvish simply read “Only you.” Lia approached unarmed to find she was correct as she met with the female wood elf scout Mira. Mira gave them praise for the defeat of the bandits, and warned them off seeking the elves, as they would see them as only more bandits and without even a word they would all be killed. She suggested that they move to a place a little away from the forest and be conservative of the number of trees they felled; proved by their action that they are different from the bandits. She then offered to go keep an eye on the bandits for them for they will certainly miss their men before long, but since none had lived she guessed about a week before they were even missed. Lia offered Mira a place to stay if she even needs it. Mira smiled and said she would take up on that sometime.

The new path chosen the hunters had little difficulty tracking down the new waypoint spot and learned of the information that had changed the path. Now entering into a forest Varric knew he could lead a path so they were not slowed, if it had not been for the carts. He still knew he could move them through without any chance of damage or bogging though it meant two days until reaching Mira’s suggested location. With the promise of only a week before the bandits start looking for them and the approaching winter, time was short but gifts were still to be had. That night Lia drilled her apprentice hard and brought results, the magic flow from the elf, Lia thought “A Natural.”

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Bear Hill Village
A new Home

The adventure continues with a routine start, with a waypoint selected, the hunting party heads out, carts are loaded and the party moves out. As they were entering the woods the ranger, Varric, was full of confidence about finding a clear path the night before. Fate it seems has a sense of humour, Varric was barely able to open his eyes let alone lead the carts. An unknown illness had downed the ranger. With little other choice Lia put her natural instincts for nature to work and lead the party through.

During the trip as instructed any animal corpses found where collected and then purified by Lia and her apprentice, Acula. But today there was an excessive amount prompting an investigation as to how they died. Each had claw marks but none had died from them, all had died from some illness that had spread from the scratches. Searching the ground the party found tracks of small bipedal-clawed creatures numbering at least six.

As the hunters returned with a poor catch, a plan for a more fortified camp was put into place. The hunters head out once again to find a suitable place to camp, after about two hours a location was selected and the carts and an additional log were rolled into place. Being very cautious the night watch’s where doubled in size from the normal two to four.

Aside from the extra watch’s the evening was routine with training and testing to find those that held skill or potential. Several of the commoners were showing ability in various areas, some showed proficiency and others need more work. Sleep came uneasy as the woods fell silent and a feeling of being watched surrounded the party.

It was near midnight when the watch spotted movement and called a warning, Soul was on this watch and knew the moment she saw them what they were. Manes, the lower form of demon kind. This knowledge brought many disturbing thoughts but for now there was enemies to deal with. The manes moved from cover and charged from all directions.

Well prepared and ready the party fire arrows and magic dropping many, several that remain impaled themselves on crude wood stakes place around the camp, two quickly fell to the Soul’s dancing blade. But still two made it past the defensive line, pouncing on one of the commoners before he had been able to rise to his feet he crumbled and quickly fell unconscious. The second attacked one of the cart horses the creature, not trained for battle of conflict, would have bolted but for the ropes that tied it to a log.

Fast as the fight had begun it was over, the two remaining fiends where overrun and destroyed before anyone else was injured. This was fortunate as the scratches on the commoner and horse where already spreading and inflicting more damage. Lia and Acula worked frantically to save the victims, glad that not more had been affected. After several minutes the disease had stopped spreading and the wounds could be clean and treated.

Soul came to explain her thoughts on the fiends. Manes as the lowest form of demon neither had the power nor generally the desire to enter the mortal plane, they where always minions of higher powered beings. Their presence here meant such a being was here or had been here recently. She did not blatantly say that such a being was probably far beyond their ability to even flee from let alone fight.

The rest of the night was uneventful but Lia and Acula had to keep a close eye on the two injured. Morning came and a routine start to the day began. This day proceeded as the most routine, Hunter when out, a safe path was found for the carts, even when it came time to ford the last river it was found quickly and with ease. But once across the river a discussion had to be made, where to setup and start their new home.
Based on information gathered from Mira and their own experiences they felt the need to select a defensive position. This prompted a search for the tallest hill, which was about six hours travel southeast away from the river and very close to the Elves forest. For these two reasons it was rejected, the river was the only good source of water and the Elves wouldn’t like such closeness.

Lia recalled seeing a navigation kit in the tools cart, this had a small spyglass allowing a better view at the distant terrain. Looking up and down the river for the most suitable location Lia spotted one up stream. After showing the others a site was chosen, only three hours travel and probably the same from the Elves forest.

Once at the hill several plans began spinning out from everyone about how to develop this hill, Gepav and Rupert put their skills in organising people to work to unload the carts and place them on the very top on the hill. Tents and beds being set on a lower and longer part, even a crude platform was built in a tree on the top for a watch post. A few ropes and a piece of wood put to use as a swing that the kids where delighted to play with. A routine even ended a routine day.

Four people were on the watches this night, probably the new routine. But this proved a good change as only one heard the approach of a large bear. The lookout heard the bear and after spotting it went to Lia to get advice as to the next course of action. Lia told him to awake everyone, the bear was territorial and they were in his territory, it was either they kill him or he would continuously inconvenience them.

The bear was still unaware of its peril when it was set upon, it barely got the chance to roar before it fell to the onslaught of magic and arrows. As the party set about harvesting their latest kill a decision was made that had been bouncing around all evening. What to name this hill and thus the village, and so “Bear Hill Village” was established on “Bear Hill”.

The first morning on the hill had the first feel of routine, hunters and gathers heading out, lookouts taking up positions. But many plans where being made, the coming of winter put off plans for individual houses and so a single large building was envisioned. Nearby was a large supply of trees, with the remaining commoners and the now empty carts a logging party headed out to get the needed wood. Gepav curious about the bear set out to track down its home.

Gepav found that the bear had been living in a cave a little further up stream, and thought it was a perfect place to get stones to help with the building. He quickly headed back and gathered some strong workers and tools before returning to the cave to start carving stone blocks. His natural knowledge and military training made it quick and easy to show these commoners how it was done. When they finished they were all tired and decided not to take the stone back but wait until tomorrow when the carts would be available.

Aside from simple resource gathering a small amount of action came to Lia, who found a lone bison and thought she could take it alone. She attacked the creature with arrows and harpoon, trying to save her magic, but this didn’t end well and the bison trampled her into unconsciousness. It might have been the end for her had not Acula been out with her.

He heard the fight and had reached the top of a small rise just as Lia fell. A quick flick of the wrist and conjured fire brought down the injured beast. Acula having exhausted his magic quickly tended Lia’s wounds and carried her back, where he gave the location of the bison for other to go collect. Lia awoke shortly after being returned, feeling foolish and embarrassed she used magic to resource herself and get back to work.

The day preceded without further incident, and ended with the new routine, training and four guards on each watch. The morning also begin with routine, but also most everyone noticed the clouds on the horizon. Lia studied the clouds carefully and concluded they had only this one day before it hit and it was probably the signal storm that would start a drastic change of weather. Many plans had to be modified to this new threat.

Erky who had been leading the logging and building teams had a four day plan for the structure, day one gathered wood complete, day two build walls, days three and four building roof. With this storm hitting tonight and the possibility of it not stopping for days he instead pulled more workers and went for a third of walls and roof using the tents to cover the hole left.

With the new deadline many others headed out for a final few things, six piglet’s, two bee hives, more logs, also after searching the remaining vegetables a few carrots and potatoes where put aside to using in farming when winter ended. Surviving the winter with what food remained was not possible, only three days worth was left but Lia and Acula were capable of using magic to feed most with good berries. Hardly ideal but it would suffice in keeping people alive and increase current food reserves to last twenty days.

The storm rolled in late evening bringing a swift drop in temperature and the general mood. The cramped quarters, limited food, freezing winds and sleet made spirits low. Lia had seen no end to the storm before it had hit and had given no say as to when it might end. In an attempt to distract people from the dismal environment intensive training was started.

Dawn brought little end to the storm, but the limited light that pierced the clouds allowed for train to continue. Forcing people to move was key as there was no room for a fire and only by doing something could people remain warm. Lia tested and drilled many in the nature and flow of her magic but few showed any talent, natural magic was not a common gift only one showed signs of progress but not as Lia might have thought.

A human namedWinter Sleet had a command of magic that Lia didn’t known, but Lia and Acula intended to instruct her until they had results. Gepav not one for sitting still and frustrated over his failed artistry attempts was the first to brave the storm. He only went to the side of the hill and decided to dig a tunnel. After quickly building a crude shelter he began to make head way despite the cold and wet, and soon found he had help from others that wanted to escape the cramped building and move more freely. With the day quickly blurring into night the storm continued to rage, but Lia felt confident that it was breaking bringing hope back to all eyes.

That night with a fevered determination Winter practiced and called until magic flowed. Hard work not talent brought magic to her, though there as something else there something beyond the natural magic Lia channeled so freely. Winter had favour not with nature but from a power beyond this world, Lia was not devoted to any one god but as a former sailor knew of many chants and blessings but never had she felt more than a mere fleeting presence of magic in them. This time she knew it was there, Winter had called and a god had answered.

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Bison Hunt
Cloudy with a chance of bandits

With the storm over a renewed fire burned in the party, though the villagers were disheartened the party pressed on organizing and ordering routine tasks to resume and the greater plans for the village to begin. Erky and Gepav lay out their plans for the construction of the lodge. Gepav planned to dig into the hill and support an upper area of the lodge while creating a sizable storage area. Erky had designed a watchtower, sleeping quarters, dinning and cooking areas. The outsides had plans for stables, animal pens, even a small moat and defensive wall were in his mind.

Lia, Rupert, the newly recovered Varric and Lia’s apprentices headed out with the hunters not to kill but to gather livestock. Varric in his element quickly and easily track down a brood of wild chickens, with help from the others gathered them up and bagged them. This trip finished far faster than expected, they were back before mid-morning, and so after giving Erky a new task of building a coop they headed out again, this time looking for useful plants. The hunt for plants was not so easy and took the rest of the day, but was very fruitful as almost all of the desired planets were found in useful quantities.

Returning to the lodge Rupert could see that the villagers where lacking enthusiasm, with help from the others he laid out the plans and goal to try to inspire the villagers. This along with the magic users displays for entertainment, a warm fire and room to move their morale seemed to rise if just a little. The hope in everyone’s eyes failed to mask the apprehension over many trials that they knew where yet to come. However, after hard work and a fruitful day, sleep came easily and everyone had an uneventful night.

Much like the last morning the party jumped to work with the villagers slightly more enthusiastic following behind. Erky seeing that finishing the lodge might boost morale and that there was a large supply of logs, pulled workers from the logging teams to finish the lodge today. Varric had a plan to gather a small herd of bison before they all disappeared into the Elves forest; he gathered the others to help him. Erky refused, as he wanted to make sure today the lodge was finished. Gepav seeing that the store area was well on its way and that Erky was still there to supervise felt he needed to vent so he decided to go. Soul simply dismissed the idea as she finally got Erky to build her a table and chair, as she wanted to work on ‘paperwork’. The others accepted readily, itchy for action.

Varric took the lead and headed south trying to find a trail to follow, he found one early morning but it was hours old and with a brief look at Gepav he knew the beasts would certainly be in the Elves forest by the time they caught them. He moved on confident there would be others, near midday he is rewarded discovering a trail only minutes old. Using care and cunning the party spent some time to encircle the herd before they attacked.

Less than half an hour from the Elves forest they did not want the herd to scare and run, even the fleet footed Elves would not be able to keep up. The plan began with Lia revealing herself to the front of the herd and unleashed a magically enhanced roar as she shape changed into a bear. The herd unnerved by these sights and sounds turned away from the forest and ran straight into a trap held by Gepav, Acule and Winter. Needing to remove all but one male bison Lia, Rupert and Varric attacked before the first bison reached the trap. Lia charged forward as arrows flew over her head from Rupert and Varric.

The bison did not go down easy, thick hides and large bodies they took the hits before turning to attack to escape the trap. Gepav, Acule and Winter stood shoulder to shoulder as the herd tried to trample them but a hastily built mount with spikes slowed the normally unstoppable herd giving them the chance to throw their strength in to halt the herd. However successful, Gepav ended up under a cow and Winter was badly gored by a bull.

Quara observed the fight and carefully selected a weakened bull, bending magic to her command she assaulted the bulls mind and just barely succeeded in forcing it to sleep. Stepping forward to further confuse the cows to prevent them running, she knew that they needed to weaken the cows for her to put them down and she took the party so.

Gepav and Acule had little time to hear this as Winter lay bleeding near them. Gepav threw off the cow and jumped on the bull that had gored Winter while Acule pulled her back while flowing magic in to close her wound. Gepav having successfully pulled the bulls attention was gored himself, but he was a trained fighter he was not going down as easily as he twirled his flail and stood his ground.

Half of the cows saw an opening and broke free of the trap, Acula tried to chase them down but quickly found himself out paced. Lia and Gepav stood face to face with a bull as they got support fromRupert’s and Varric’s arrows, Winter and Quara used area effect magic to weaken the cows. Gepav having taken multiple hits fell unconscious as Lia finished the bull she had been fighting, and the archer support changed targets dropping the last bull. These created another opening and the remaining cow charge through it. Now weakened enough, Quara was able to drop three into magical slumber before they got away.

Winter treated Gepav’s wounds enough to recover his consciousness, and they stopped to see their work. Three cows and a bull alive and two dead bulls, a good take they thought. Quickly they tied the animals to prevent escape and harvested the meat and skins. Lia and her apprentices guided the animal towards the bear cave now being used as a quarry. Varric and the others headed back to the village to inform Erky of another project, a gate for the cave then pens for later.

Erky took this, as always, ‘Challenge accepted’, the gate was half done by the time Lia arrived. The lodge now complete and the successful capture of the bison raised the villagers’ moral, small victories but it was enough. The villagers took to evening routine with joy, one even stepping forward demanding a forge. She announced that she was the daughter of a blacksmith and felt she could take up such duties for this village. Erky’s mind instantly began planning where and how to build and run the forge, as Inge Smith spoke of her abilities and her father’s teachings.

Contrary to the previous night, the morning brought impending doom. The morning watch on the north side was startled as an arrow flew across the river and thudded into the wall beside him. He sounded an alarm but never saw the attacker or any more arrows. The arrow held a message written in elegant and flowing elvish which Lia recognised as Mira’s writing. It simply said, “Five scouts have been deployed.”

This early morning wakeup call was a reminder that the wilderness and weather was not the greatest threat in this valley. The bandits knew they were in the valley and they had probably guessed that their first attackers where all dead. The party began making plans hoping to use winters bad weather as a shield to buy more time before a large scale assault could be launched they made plans to either distract the scouts or eliminate them.

Erky and Quara released their familiars to the skies to find the scouts. Varric crossed the river and headed north west to try intercepting at least one scout. Lia had a more elaborate plan to head south to the coast to set a large fire and attract the scouts away from their position. To make it to the coast before the scouts she needed a boat or raft, Erky grabbed his best workers and began building. Lia’s plan was to head down river first as fast as possible then sail up river and there burn the raft in a large smoky fire. Then moving in the surf and using shape changed form to head back to river mouth where her apprentices should be with another boat to be used to return up stream.

At midday the familiars returned with the report of the scouts, three had been found one was at one of the three know destroyed villages, the second scout was heading for another such village, but the third was heading straight for Bear Hill Village. Erky quickly deduced that he was likely to be following Mira’s trail and that if Mira was heading straight back she was on a collision course with that scout.

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Skirmishes
Magic items and magic traps

Using the familiars to deliver messages to Varric, he changed his direction to intercept the scout heading for the camp and Mira. Back at the lodge Soul finish her current project of paper work and leaped at the chance for action, so she took off north meeting up with Varric later that night. Gepav, Quara and Rupert headed out north west to capture a scout for information. Erky began building a watch tower and generally fortifying the lodge for the inevitable fight.

That evening the villagers had little to celebrate, all but one of the main fighters had left. Erky’s presence held them together, he kept them motivated and focused. The evening report from the familiars confirmed the parties assumptions. Routine continued as normal except for the few that had build a simple sail raft so that Acula could follow after Lia and get her back up river quickly.

The morning report held no change, and Erky got the villagers to start a routine day, even sending workers to do logging and Quarrying. He assigned his builders to fortifying and improving the lodge, adding bunk beds and creating more personal space. But as normal and routine as this day began he knew something had gone wrong when he hear a piercing sound and saw a red light trailing up into the air from the north.

Varric and Soul had set out early and cautiously, remaining close to each out but finding their own path north. Near mid day Soul was attacked without warning, collapsing as two arrows struck her. Varric was successfully hidden from the scout who was now approaching his fallen comrade. Carefully he planned his attack and mere moments after his arrow took flight he had move and hidden again.

The scout was surprised and staggered by the impact of Varric’s arrow but still standing. Not seeing the Varric he withdrew and dropped two small statues. The two gold lion statues grew larger and morphed into real live lions. Varric saw the lions and knew his hiding was over, he quickly scrambled up a tree and took aim at the scout hoping that without him the magic of lions might fade. His arrow flew straight and true taking the scout in the chest. The scout fell but now the lions turned their hungry eyes on Varric.

Varric out number, out match in speed and with Soul bleeding out thought it might have been a mistake to attack with so few. But then the bushes beside one of the lions parted and a wolf darted out and attack the lion. The wolf was wearing armour and bags, Mira had also appeared pouring a potion down Soul’s throat while pulling out the arrows. Varric was relieved for the support, when the other lion jumped up the tree and clawed at him nearly making him fall. Soul rose to her feet gathering up Skewer her custom weapon and joined the fight.

The lions though tough had no tactics without their masters commands, quick fell to their opponents. As they would have died if alive they changed back into small golden statues, which Varric picked up. With the fight of Soul stood over the unconscious scout was without a word finished the man. As the blessing of her dark pact washed over her she was disturbed as the amulet on the scouts chest exploded with light.

This light then shot up into the sky releasing a loud piercing sound and trailing red light. Gepav, Quara, Rupert and even Lia far to the south, could see and hear this signal. Each having mixed thoughts and feeling as to what this meant but with the familiars running between the groups carrying messages they expected a report around mid day.

Mira explained to Varric in elvish that the top scouts always had at least two magic items, the amulet and a combat aid. The amulet was just as it appeared a signal that a scout had died or had his amulet removed, but they were simple devices anyone with arcane knowledge and basic magical control could attune to the device and remove it. This didn’t please Varric as their whole plan was to draw the bandits attention away from this area.

As Varric contemplated how to fix this problem, Mira suggested that they just make it look like he had been killed by the Elves. It was uncommon for them to leave the deep forest but it did happen. Mira help Varric and Soul strip the corpse and she let them take all they wanted and put the rest in the bags on her wolf. She said she would setup the rest, clear tracks and setup a trail to the deep forest, Varric and Soul thanked her and headed south. Erky‘s familiar found them shortly after they left the scene, Soul ever prepared with pen and paper already had a detailed report prepared. Erky’s familiar was a hawk and easily took the scroll and flew south ahead of them.

That evening the familiars really got a work out as messages were taken back and forth collecting data and relating the altered plans. Lia was left out so far to the south, only the next day when the new plan was finalise and Varric and Soul had returned was a familiar sent south to inform her of the altered plan.

The familiar had brought Lia a small bag in which sat two golden lion statues and a message. The message told her what the lions where, loyal servants of the one who summoned them, and that she was now to head to the south most ruins and intercept the scout there. She was not to kill him instead use the lions and her wild shape to intimidate and chase him off. Gepav, Quara and Rupert now figured that their target was going to be moving towards that signal and so changed their direction to compensate but otherwise little had changed other then Quara needing to remove the amulet.

The ambush of Gepav, Quara and Rupert was so perfectly handled it was over in the blink of an eye. Quara true understood the simplicity of the magical amulet, she had only ever know magic items made by gnome master artisans and this one in comparison was a six year old painting quality. With the amulet removed, the scout stripped of weapons and tied up it was time for an interrogation.

Once the scout was awake Rupert got his attention by slicing of a toe and saying, “Now that I have your attention, I have some questions to ask.” The information gained related mostly to location, entrances of the bandits camp and to the numbers there in. Housed up the mountain side the bandits had a ancient dwarf fort, long abandoned but still standing strong. Only one entrance was known the front gate, a second may have existed in the past as a tunnel leading into the mountain. This had either collapsed over time or been collapsed by the dwarf before they left. Gepav didn’t like this either the dwarf were incompetent, unlikely he thought, or there was something in the mountain that drove the dwarfs out.

The scout spoke of their numbers say that forty four remained in the fort, with thirty horses that were used when they raided the goblins or groups like theirs that survived long enough to get setup. The bandit lead by Skull Crunch and his four lieutenants, Mara Starag a female human wizard, Hama Jassan a female human rogue, Blath Windriver a male human dark pal, Barakas Art a male Tiefling Barbarian.

Rupert asked about what kind of response they should expect from the bandit should they not return or if they did with a location. The scout said a raiding party would be sent in either case, about twenty five strong and on horses, being lead by two or three lieutenants. Rupert made a little count thinking each lieutenant probably lead eight to ten people with a few scouts. To have any chance against such odds they needed to have a fort of their own and better trained fighters.

The short of it all was they needed time, winter storms would force the bandits to stay bunkered in but the storms might be several days or a few weeks away. Hopefully their plans would work and buy them this time. Rupert changed his line of questioning and began asking about the type of society they lived under. Turns out it was food and merit based, those who worked guard duty, joined raids, or performed a service for the leaders got food and equipment. Since only enough food for one person was given there were no children as they didn’t work hard enough and where generally thrown out to die. Those few that had tried working to feed their kid starved themselves and performed poorly getting themself thrown out with their children.

Feeling that they had learned enough and with no questions coming from his companions Rupert swiftly slit the scouts throat and recovered the rope binding him. A report of the information was sent back to the lodge and they head off home.

This information caused Erky to redesign once again, he decided to expand the lodge to twice the side and add arrow slits more outside walls, ditches and spikes. He also finalized his design and placement of the forge, but this was put at back of the list in favour for the fortifications. He also wanted to use the heat from the forge as a under floor heating for the lodge and he need tunnels dug for such. Though his plans and builds were presiding nicely the villagers were losing heart and even Erky’s best efforts made little difference, hopefully when the others returned the spirits would rise.

The weather turned bad that day driving a chill into Gepav, Quara and Rupert slowing their return, but Lia soldier on. Lia now on land was pushing the limits of her wild shape and endurance to make it to the ruins before he scout heading there left. Arriving late evening Lia had time to rest and recover before she entered battle the next morning. She was easily able to find the scout as he move quickly about the ruins looking for signs of disruption.

Lia let out a roar using magic to get the scouts attention, once he turn she released the lion statues and changed shape herself. The scout was thoroughly intimidated and as Lia expected he grabbed an object from his pouch and threw it at the ground. But she didn’t expect it to summon a such a gargantuan creature, as a roc formed before her eyes. Lia felt completely out match until the scout climbed onto its back and order it to fly home.

Lia knew her plan was to intimidated and let him go but if he was flying he was unlikely to not see the lodge from the air. This aerial advantage had been theirs alone until now, she quickly changed form and gave chase as she launched an arrow after the escaping scout. This struck home but the scout still clung to the roc, the roc was fast and Lia was at a disadvantage as she fired her next shot this one struck too but still the scout held on.

Lia drew another arrow and what she knew was her last chance before the roc and scout were completely out of range. Feeling the wind on her face, studying the movement of the roc, she breathed carefully and focused on the scouts back. She released a shot that would make Varric jealous, she heard sound thud as the arrow near when through the scout and into the roc. A few moments later the scout was tumbling from the roc’s back and falling towards the ground. With another thud the scout hit the ground and the amulet broke and activated it’s signal.

When the second signal when up many thought Lia had been careless but the Roc was so big it too could be seen beside the streaming red light. It continued on its ordered journey and flew across the valley towards the north east mountains to the bandits fort. The roc flew straight over Gepav, Quara and Rupert, giving them pause as to how they were going to it and even if Lia had survived. But the Roc pasted over without so much as a downward glance.

The rest of the day was filled with hurried travel, the true power of the bandits had been revealed and the distractions had been laid. Now they needed to get cover as a storm rolled in slowing Gepav, Quara and Rupert but putting wind into Lia‘s and Acula’s sail as they had met at the coast and where now heading up stream.

They all arrived the late next day, Glad to see that Lia had survived but also that the feather tokens that had summon the roc made the creature nearly useless in a fight. The limited magic was designed for intimidation and transport only, Erky explained as he examined the two tokens Lia had pull off the corpse. Erky was asked if he knew how to make such items, he responded with a yes though like all other times he tried to recall the exact methods his mind shifts to another subject.

Erky had been studying, trying to research and recall his training from the gnome academy but like this time it always shifts away. Erky finally realises that there must be a magical block within his mind preventing him from recalling. With everyone back and thing looking good on the distractions he turned his focus inward seeking the cracks and loose threads within his mind. Late that night he found one, with a tug and a punch the cracks shatter and the strings unravelled. His mind began unlocking like a clockwork safe, but at the same time a trap build into the magic activated.

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Games of thought
A life time in a moment

Sleep has always been a hazardous, especially for adventurers, but when there’s a door into your head sleeping might well be like charging the gates of hell. Erky found sleep easy as he hadn’t remembered about the open door yet, and late that night his mind asleep his body was commandeered. Erky moved to his work area and using his own resources draw a symbol onto the floor before sitting in the middle and activating the linking signal.

A trail barely a thought wide lead a stream of magic from far to the north that build a proper link that dragged Erky’s mind and soul from his body then delivered it to the home he had escaped. A few hours later at the changing of the watch he’s absence from the sleeping quarters was noticed. Though with the lodges size he was found fast and since he was sitting in a pulsing magical circle with more power than Quara had ever seen she ordered that no one enter the circle. Her knowledge of such circles only gave her that is was a trap, she didn’t know what it did or how to undo it. So she instead read through all their books on magic to find more information.

She learn little but a few key points, it was a marker used to link two points of planer travel. It seemed that unlike the ones she read about this one didn’t move the target body and soul, and was likely to be reversible. Armed and ready for a fight Gepav, Lia, Quara, Rupert and Varric stepped into the circle.

A sudden lightness and freedom came over the party as they watched their bodies disappear beneath them. Pulled on a immense and unseen force they quickly accelerated toward the north mountains and clouds became a blur but then slowed and refocused as they approach a city they had all seen before. It was the very city they had all last seen before their journey south began.

Their flight took them where none of them had even been straight into the Gnome Quarter. Their lightness and freedom ended and they found themselves standing in an identical magical circle as the one in the lodge. Even with Erky sitting in the middle but unlike the static motionless body in the lodge here Erky was very animation as he struggled against chains that bound him.

The party only clearly saw each other and the chains that bound Erky everything else was a blur and difficult to make out any details. But they all released that there was two gnome with magical chain linking to Erky, Quara knew this magic, it was mind control and likely a second attempt as they Erky was able to resist it. Still not knowing the nature of the magic that brought them here she told the other to remain within the circle but to take out the gnomes.

The gnomes where so focused on their assault on Erky that they had failed to notice the party until they were attacked. Heavily drained from attacking Erky they didn’t put up much of a fight, magic and projectiles flew but when they were defeated instead of falling their form simply dispersed like they had been made of smoke. Before one had been defeated he was able to pull a rope leading to a guard room alarm above. In the brief pause before the guards arrived Erky said that they could and would need to leave the magic circle. The chains that bound him were dependant on the statues holding them.

Rupert attempted to break one but only scratched it, Gepav snored and made a quick inspection of the stone statue before carefully placing a piton hit it once with his hammer. The statue crumbled under its weakness, releasing Erky right side. Erky then pointed to a part of the wall, which was actually a black curtain surrounding the whole room, and said that there was the entrance that two guard would soon be entering.

The party readied for the new threat and as a gnome in full plate wasn’t silent they knew when to strike he stepped through the curtain only to have magic throw him back through. Gepav leaped after him thinking another quick and easy victory was at hand. But even prone the plated gnome was hard to hit cleanly and once the gnome regained his feet his sword flew fast and true into the side of Gepav’s head. The attack held more power than the gnome himself was capable, divine magic of a paladins deity had enhanced the attack and Gepav fell.

As Gepav fell unconscious he realized he wasn’t unconscious and thought how, what was going on, then he remember his body wasn’t here so he only thought he was hit and hurt. The damage he had suffered closed and the weapons he had used returned, he restored to when he had first arrived on plane. The paladin didn’t notice this restoration and stepped over the fallen dwarf to attack the rest of the party.

A shadow moved in behind the paladin and remained unknown behind the curtain. An assassin stalked the party as they focused on the paladin. Seen only as a movement in the curtain they moved away from the walls forcing the assassin out but even still his attacks were precise and hitting vital locations with ease, the party was glad that their real bodies weren’t here. The assassin and paladin were hard to hit in their own ways but they fell quickly as those that fell stood quickly feeling invincible in this plane of thought.

With the fight over Erky free and immanent threats resolved Erky explained the situation. This was the manor when he had learned magic and all his knowledge. The gnomes had attacked him through a small statue that was here in the manor and if not destroyed they would continue to attack him, and possibly even attack them. The gate way that had brought them here was controlled by their own thoughts, simple wishing to return would allow them to do so.

Erky directed the party up the stairs to the first floor basement where the guards had been stationed, the room now empty Erky quickly informed the rest of the party that no objects could be taken back when they left. With nothing but servant quarters and storage on this floor they continued up to the ground floor.

The stair lead straight into another guard room Rupert and Varric snuck up to see the two guards playing cards. Though they were curious as to why they hadn’t responded to the fighting they had been doing down stairs or the alarm, another issue drew their attention. This floor held windows that looked out into a void of nothing, this was an absolute nothing and Rupert almost totally flipped out at the sight. He managed to slip back down stairs undetected before curling up in a corner, Erky having been in this plane before and was so use to the sight that he had forgotten that most new comers had such reactions to the void.

A few minutes of convincing and positive help from his party Rupert shrugged off the strange fear, drowned mostly in sham that he had to be treated like a scared child afraid of the dark. Now recovered Erky told they that sound didn’t carry in this plane, in fact only a focused mind might notice something was even there. This mean they could probably all get in the guard room before the guards even knew they were there.

The battle with the two guards ended fast the party barely caring about hits as they thought themselves invincible. Erky knew better but didn’t know how much to tell them, if they knew too much they would become targets for the gnomes and unlike with himself they were likely to just be killed and have their souls enslaved. This in mind as he remember that that the war room and office were just off this guard room, these held more information about Sylta.

As the party got use to the sight outside the window he moved into the war room to see if he could gather information, he having never been in the war room himself warned the party not to look at too much or learn anything just in case. From his search he learned that the mountain to the north west of Sylta was home a an ancient red dragon “Grim Dark”, most likely not his real name. It was him that had stopped the empire from expanding into the south, a map showed that he had claim a large area as his own which included almost all of Sylta.

This new was disturbing but the information suggested that he was mostly inactive as he was given tribute by sailors at a coastal city on the west side of his mountain and no villages were build in his territory. There were listings of past villages that he had burned, three had been in Sylta. Little else was know about Sylta only rough notes about the inhabitants nothing the party didn’t already know.

Erky then moved to the office but found that it wasn’t empty. As they entered the Gnome at the desk was clearly writing a scroll and all his attention was focused into doing that. Erky laughed and told them to ignore him, but not to get directly in his line of sight or touch him. The plane of thought enhanced your focus at the expense of awareness.

This room held information on the trades that when south along the Sylta coast, trading furs and magic item components from the centaurs there for mostly food. Erky also found the records on the expeditions that had sent them to the south in the first place, he discovered the count, supplies and date of the next ones heading south. To this he and Rupert created a convincing forgery on the documents and added a copper still to the supplies.

Satisfied with this they moved to leave but the gnome writing the scroll suddenly cursed and the scroll in his hands exploded. The gnome and his writing equipment and the fragments of the scroll vanished in black smoke. Erky laughed as this made returning the forged document was so much easier now, the gnome mistake in crafting had aided them. Though Erky also felt that he probably failed because they where there, an unconscious itch that distracted him.

With new information and resources set to arrive the party decided to hurry out to avoid any further contact as each meant exposure and becoming targets for the gnomes. They quickly and quietly headed up to the attic to find Erky’s statue, encountering no one else on their way up. Once they reached the attic they saw a crack in the plane that pulsed with magical power, this was the source of the gnomes power. Fortunately they didn’t have time to study this ultimate secret as the guardian detected intruders and activated.

The guardian didn’t look like a gnome but more an animated suit of armour, the party was quicker getting a few hits in before it fully activated. Thinking another easy fight was about to happen Erky ignored the guardian and searched for his statue instead. He spotted it in one of the side chambers, these room had clear walls that one might have thought where glass. The doors to each had a panel that required a code to enter, Erky knew these codes and hoped that hadn’t been changed since he left.

The guardian now fully activated drew two battle axes and closed on Gepav nearly dropping him in one series of attacks. It was fast and hit hard, it also resisted the bulk of the damage that the party threw at it. Erky realised this was no push over he gave a warning the party that taking too much damage a once could really kill them. This helped little as Gepav was cut down his form blurred and flickered as he suffered in the thoughts that had he been in his body he would have died from that hit.

Erky saw the party falling and figure that if he could destroy the statue they could instantly leave with a thought instead of fight the guardian. He entered the code and to his relief the door opened, he knew that the if the statue was destroyed by magic in the right way the gnomes would think he had died and stop pursuing him. He called up his remaining magic hit the statue, but it only cracked he didn’t have magic left to destroy it correctly.

Erky returned to the door and called Quara to help and noticed that only Varric now stood against the guardian in melee. Lia and Gepav lay on the ground blurred and flickering, they could leave but they would take the thoughts of their damage with them and most likely die from stock. If the treat was remove he knew their mind could relax and recover easier and the guardian was heavily damaged and failing. He moved to cover and Started to at support to Varric and Rupert to bring the Guardian down.

Quara approached the statue and studied the cracks to find the right place as she hit it with magic. Her well placed hit caused the statue to crumble and fall just as Erky had describe it need to. Satisfied she returned to the door to help them defeat the guardian, as she reached the door Varric was cut down too. Her attack caught the guardians attention and no one standing to fight in melee she closed the door between herself and the guardian.

Almost as insult the guardian walked up to the door and entered the code. Eyes wide with fear Quara said “There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home.” and vanished in a puff of black smoke. At this point Gepav was able to recover his mind and stood once more to attack the guardian, Lia and Varric quickly followed but even as heavily damaged as it was the guardian still beat Gepav and Lia down again. Varric, who had remain out of melee this time, drew a final arrow thinking “Just die already.” to his relief the guardian obliged his request and it changed into black smoke.

His relief was short lived as the smoke didn’t dissipated like the others had but instead moved to a panel and started to reform. At this point Gepav and Lia had recovered again and they all thought “Home please.” and vanished in black smoke. All except Erky who had slipped downstairs and made his way to the library, this was likely to be the last chance to get near one he had intentions not to waste this opportunity. Armed with Quara’s and his own magic write inks he was able to spend four hours researching spells and coping down notes to make learning them easier.

Once the inks ran dry he closed his spell book satisfied and returned with a thought. Soul who had decided not to go was still turning away as the party returned. Only a few seconds has pasted in all that time Erky was stationary for half a minute longer than the others. Within the plane of thought time moved differently, one sec outside was one thousand inside. Triumphant about the massive success of their little trip ended abruptly as the side effects of entering the plane of thought hit.

Massive waves of exhaustion cause most of the party to fall helplessly to the floor, even Erky who was use to enter the plane fell, never had he been in for so long. Several hours of real world time had passed since he had been taken, to him several days of thought had passed. Also he had been under attack almost continually during that time too. Rest would be easy for a few days.

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Daily routine
Grinding dem goblins

Exhaustion having dropped most of the party, some even coming close to death, full day rest is used to fully recover as fast as possible. It was at moment when the party began to see that the villagers where getting into the full swing of things being able to run almost everything without direct supervision. Acula and Winter taking up roles for motivation, entertainment and general leadership. Inge taking over as foreman and quartermaster keeping constructs and supplies in working order. Souls squire taking the master at arms drilling and training the villagers to defend themselves.

Though having been such a sudden change they weren’t quite ready to take over completely, still coming for the party for advice. But this did put an idea and starting a plan for getting a missing resource, metals. With the information given by Mira they knew that the goblins had mines, giving them access to metals. But the banding raided them during the warmer times of the year in large numbers. This meant that if they were to get metals for weapons and tools they needed to raid the goblins in winter, when the bandits where secured in their fort.

This rest period end uneventfully but as they recovered Erky‘s and Quara’s familiars reported that the bandit scouts had returned to their fort. This was in the evening so any expected response should happen until the morning. And just as expect over two dozen armed bandits left the fort on horses the very next morning, thankfully they were headed for the southern ruins and not for the village.

At midday a quick estimate as to their speed and destination put them at near three days from their fort to the ruins. Given that they would spend a little time search for signs of settlement and then spend time to travel back, it meant that as long as the village wasn’t spotted it was unlikely that the bandits would move again until after winter. Despite a few complications the plan to distract the bandits had been successful.

While keeping a close familiar eye on the bandits, the party focused on training a small selection of villagers over this time Acula, Inge, Winter and Souls squire where being prepared to lead so that the party could raid the goblins for metals. At the same time warm and water resistance clothing was being made to survive the harsh weather that was coming.

The bandits acted just as hoped and six days after that had left their fort they where back and the very next morning the party grabbed their gear and headed out. They used caution and moved slowly stopping often to warm and dry themselves to not lose their strength to the weather. A trip that probably could have been done in two days took them five, but as the weather got worse they were happy, the worse the weather the saver the village was. Making camp across the river from the goblin territory the smells and sounds of the goblins could easily be smelt and heard drifting on the wind.

There was an enormous number of fires, huts and encampments all across the hills. Keeping safe from this number of goblins was a matter of stealth and cunning, brute strength here would get the party kill under an avalanche of goblins. That night they hear that goblin moving, they clashed and hooted in small skirmishes but clearly these where just muscle flecking actions. Even still groups numbering over a hundred where based just an hour or two from where the party camped.

The goblins showed no signs of crossing the river and had no one even watching the river side of their camps. Routine with the bandits raiding them had probably created this habit, but it now work to the favour of the party. Striking out early the party used familiars to scout out a safe target and path to them.

The goblins seems to be mostly inactive during the day, but still they would be easy to disturb as lazy guards moved around all the camps. The party found a small camp with a little over two dozen, probably the same number as the bandit group that had just been riding around the valley. They circled around to the north side of their camp to get cover from a small rise and a few trees.

Rupert and Varric snuck up close just behind a the rise, as the others prepared an ambush in the trees. Half the guards fell before that alarm was raised and the goblins sprang into action. The party was surprised by the organised and skilled way the goblins reacted to this sudden assault. Seams they were expecting and use to this sort of attack, their only surprise was who their enemy was.

Rupert was spotted before he could retreat and hit with multiple arrows knocking him unconscious and forcing a change of plans the ambush now not meaningful the Erky dropped two golden lion statues to the ground and sent the summoned lions into the goblins. With Lia running magical healing around they quickly reduced the goblin numbers down.

Though the goblins had managed to bring down the lions only six remained and they were now outnumbered and outmatched. They ran for it, the party didn’t want them escaping as only a few hills away was a clan of about one hundred goblins. The remaining goblins didn’t even get outside their camp before they were brought down magic and arrows from the advancing party finished them off.

This small camp held very little beyond what the goblins carried on themselves, but several chunks of iron were found in a box this added to the weapons and armour taken from the bodies wasn’t a treasure horde but a good start. Though they had bought themselves time with stopping the fleeing goblins their little skirmish hadn’t gone unnoticed and the party found themselves fleeing as over fifty goblins came raging out of a nearby camp. This pursuit only lasted about two hours before the goblins gave up but this put the party away from the river and now surrounded on by goblin camps.

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Mining for metals
Carrying capacity and limiting factors

The party having been chased away from the river found themselves surrounded and outnumbered but not directly noticed by the goblins. Fortunately the goblins really do not like moving much and were not the best of guards. A few carefully retracted steppes and the party escaped to the east side of the river. The river was more than a physical border, it appeared that the goblin were not even putting watches to guard from attackers that might cross it.

This gave the party more hope that keeping to the east of the river was a wise move, though their camp was easily visible from the other side they were not in danger from the goblins. The weather on the other hand was a danger and crossing the river had a strange effect on it. On the west side it was warmer with less winds and snow, but the east side was still getting colder and hasher.

After the success of their first day the party became more aggressive though starting with a smaller group they cleared the camp fast and thought a larger target would be doable. The larger camp was a little more difficult but still successful. Once more raising a few alarms but the goblins quickly gave up as the party fled too close to another large goblin camp.

As the party was collecting weapons, armour and ores they felt that they were getting to the limit of what they could carry. The leather armour being the heavy and bulky was the biggest burden, it was decided that they wouldn’t take any more and focus more on the weapons and ores.

The third day raiding and the party was finally getting into the swing of things, perhaps luck had played a part giving they a excellent advantage of terrain but tactics learn over the last two days certainly helps as the fought another large group and slaughtered them with barely a scratch. This fight drew the attention of the nearby main camp and gave the party little time to loot. But with the task of striping the armour off they didn’t need much time and minus the armour still collected everything and escaped. Using their animals they quickly left the goblins behind, a few goblins had gotten close enough to fire shots but they hit nothing.

A estimate of the items gained from this last fight meant the they could do two more of similar size before they hit their carrying limits. Time would tell if they had learnt a successful pattern of attack or if the party had merely been lucky in that last fight.

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Winter, Wolfs and Winter Wolfs
Home sweet home

As the party got ready for their new day raiding, keen and vigilant eyes spotted distant movement. A winter wolf cautiously searching the area, most likely looking for them. Thinking first that such a creature would never work for creatures as weak as goblins, but that the goblins answered to ogres and If this was one of their scouts it needed to be removed.

With great skill and luck the party managed to get in the wolfs path to lay an ambush, despite the wolfs super natural abilities the fight ended fast. The wolf had formidable powers over ice and a freezing breath that made it’s bites highly dangerous. Even with an ability to create an ice clone outnumbered and out ranged the wolf had little chance to survive. It did however let out a howl before it died, perhaps a signal perhaps part of its powers the party didn’t know.

With the wolf deal with the party decided to move their camp before heading out to fight the goblins. Varric found a perfect replacement camp far more defendable and so hidden he almost missed it. It was a small cave hidden behind some bushes, with a tiny hole in the roof and back entrance that would require all but Erky to crawl through.

This move only took a few hours leaving still most of the day so the party moved on to the goblin camps, this day their familiar scout reported significant changes to the larger groups. New goblins better equip and with wolf mounts were seen in the nearest major camp. The satellite camps were also larger, were before camps as small as four had been seen now the smallest held twenty two. Given their new level of knowledge and conference the party still moved in.

Two small camps beside each other were their targets the twenty two and a thirty two count camp. Both fell with barely a scratch to show, the party had gotten even better at fighting these goblins. Luck was with them on the first camp and no alarm was sounded on the major camp nearby, but after the second their presence was known.

Thanks to their familiar scout they knew not only had the alarm been raised but that they had very little time to loot. This major camp held a combination of technology and magic, the goblins had created giant kites capable of carrying five goblins and they had a shaman capable of summoning wind enough to lift and steer the kites. These kites moved faster than the party could their only hope was to keep ahead of them long enough for their magic to run out.

Grabbing the most important items from the camp the party ran at top speed, the goblins were slowly gaining on the party but once the party crossed the river the goblins gave up their pursuit. the boundary of the river both baffled and comforted the party. The sudden change in weather by simply cross the river was clearly unnatural, even with the knowledge of a ancient red dragon and its ability to alter the terrain around its lair. This was several miles from the bottom of the mountain were the dragon resided at the top, the dragons influence shouldn’t reach even half way down mountain.

Now clear of the altered environment Lia noticed a change was coming, using magic to confirm her suspicions realised. A storm was coming, and was likely to last well into tomorrow. They moved back to their new camp and settled down to weather the storm. As they rested Erky had a sudden moment of clarity, the winter wolfs body as a supernatural creature could be used to create magical items.

Varric volunteered to go retrieve the corpse, and at first light he headed out. The storm had whipped up to a blizzard, Varric was rugged up and moving carefully. If he got lost he would last long out here and with visibility down to about ten feet he couldn’t afford to lose his way. His memory and tracking served him well he found the corpse within a few hours. He wasn’t the first to find it but he knew nothing of this as he gathered it up and started back.

As he got close to the camp Varric realized he was being followed, not that he had seen more than a shadow in the storm, a sound of crunching snow out of step with his own foot falls and pure instinct. He felt that it was at least two and he guessed that it was more winter wolfs, he had little choice but to continue on. He could fight one alone and even if he did his path to the camp would certainly be lost if he got in a fight.

As he got back to the camp alerted the rest of the party to the presence of the winter wolfs and they prepared for a fight. Erky sent his familiar out through the small hole in the roof to scout, he learned that there was in fact three winter wolfs and that they were now circling the cave. Winter wolf discovered the back entrance but failed to find the hole in the roof. Though they had found the back entrance it was unlikely they would use it, nearly twice the size of a normal wolf they probably could squeeze through the gap but this would leave them completely venerable to attack.

The party had plenty of time to prepare a defensive line before Erky announced that there was now six targets. Three ice clones entered through the front, straight through the layered magical defences, two made in over the first layer an area of grease tripping one. The second line was overlapping webs and spikes that caused damage but failed to slow the creatures. Readied for this attack the party was able to strike first, but the ice clones had great resistance and they couldn’t focus their fire.

The fight was brutal and hard won, several severe injuries were taken. With Soul suffered painful internal injuries making it near impossible to act. Despite these injuries and the loss of magic potency the winter wolfs remained outside. Instead of continuing the attack they use their powers to create walls of ice over the two entrances trapping the party in the cave. Thanks to their scout the party learned that one of the wolfs had taken off and the remaining two were standing watch over the entrances.

Seams the wolfs wanted either to trap them and freeze them or bring reinforcements. Grateful for the break and knowledge that they could take it, the party decide to recover and plan a little. They had no intention on waiting for the third wolf to return with help. Their breakout plan involved engaging both wolf but focusing on one. The ice walls were venerable to fire and bludgeoning damage so easy to bring down. Erky also felt that he could squeeze out the tiny hole in the roof and get the drop on the wolfs.

Erky was lifted out and out the hole and once he was set he spotted the wolf at the rear entrance and initiated the attack. The ice walls at the entrances were blown open, with magic and arrows flying out and into the winter wolfs. The winter wolfs were far less resistant then the ice clones and even their attempts to reseal the entrances wasn’t going to help as Erky fired from the unknown exit.

The winter wolfs released they weren’t going to stop the party and run for it disappearing into the storm. But Erky knew one was weak and sent his familiar after it, using the familiars telepathic link to guide his shot at the unseen target he successfully finished the wolf before it escaped. The final one was gone but at least it was unlikely to return any time soon.

The storm lasted a two days in this time Erky was able to extract and contain the magic from within the winter wolfs corpses into residuum. This raw magical component was rarely know outside of the Gnomes inner circle but was not restricted knowledge, though some of the ways to a gather residuum were restricted. Soul on the other hand was recovering very slowly, even with magical Lia and Varric weren’t able to hasten her recovery.

It was decided that it once the storm had broke they would head home to recover and resupply. With the weapons and armour they had acquired they could equip everyone with swords, bows and armour. Though the armour would need to be resized, there was time before any attack might threaten the village. The storm broken late evening and Lia felt there would be several days of mostly clear weather, so the party made ready to leave the next morning.

That morning was perfectly still and the sky perfectly clear, almost unnaturally calm but it was a good start for the trip home. With the clear and still day it was even possible to spot the winter wolf that was following them. Well out of range it looked ready to follow them home, not something they wanted just yet. The party came up with a cunning plan to ambush the winter wolf.

Varric and Rupert felt that they could sneak over to the wolfs position as it moved to follow the rest of the party. Lia and Erky had an idea to get Lia over too, Lia could shape change into a rabbit and have Erkys familiar fly over carrying her. Quara suggested that Erky and herself then also put invisibility on the familiar and Lia, just to make certain that the winter wolf didn’t get spooked.

Lia swooped down on the wolf and transformed to her normal form and used her magic to created a spike trap. This was the signal to Varric and Rupert to attack having successfully approached the winter wolf from behind. Lia then deployed the golden lion statues and wild shaped into a bear. The wolf fell quickly to the arrows and claws, and Erky had another corpse to extract residuum.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful except for Souls complaints of pain. Quara had been collecting and testing different plants looking for uses beyond food. A few had a small magical nature and Erky was able to produce some residuum from them, but one moss was hallucinogen and analgesic. But it was also highly addictive and even with small carefully applied doses Soul started wanting more even after the pain had stopped.

Fortunately they made in home before any major side effects showed. To their surprise they were greeted by Mira, as her waved at them from the watch tower. She had taken them up on their offer for shelter, at least during winter. This had been a very profitable few days, but winter had only just started.

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Goblin leaders and dark caves
Promise of a fate so grim

Stories of adventure and excitement fill the lodge, Mira talks of how she skilfully avoided the bandits and observed their fort until the stairs had fully iced over, and the party spoke of their experiences with the goblins and the winter wolfs. Mira added what she knew of the two, that the winter wolfs hunted in packs much like normal wolfs and that there was likely to be another three to six winter wolfs. Her knowledge wasn’t first hand though as she usually returned to the forest during winter and so have not personally encountered winter wolfs. On the goblins she did say that they responded organically, attacking a single area and you attract more powerful forces. Their reaction times can vary but always the shift is done during the day.

The party planning a renewed attack decided to move to a new location based on this information. Heading further north then before, near to one of the ruined towns. They decided against using the town itself as it would have no natural shelter or defenses. They would have to finds another cave when they got there.

Erky spend a day modifying one of the carts to have detachable sledges so that they could carry more stuff, he also made it so two horses could pull and thus further increasing how much they could carry. As a final addition he used some tents to create a canopy for the cart to ease the travel out.

The next day they set out and it was a near perfect day, a good start, but late that night a storm rolled in and lasted until late the next day. Wisely the party felt they should stay put and wait it out, they were in no rush. The next day was better light wind and some clouds, the familiar scout was successful in spotting a winter wolf stalking the plains. At the pace the party was moving it was three days away at least. There was a brief discussion on whether they would split up and try to rush the creature but since it hadn’t location them yet and it was in the path they were taking they thought to leave it until they got closer.

For two day they approached as the wolf patrolled around but only change to be north of their path. On the third day the familiar reported that the wolf had spotted it and had been watch it instead of patrolling. By midday the winter wolf had also spotted the party and disappeared now that it was actively trying to hide from the familiar. It was spotted every now and then but it was remaining at least a day ahead of the party, clearly it had no intention of attacking.

Now approaching their destination the party send the familiar out to find nearby caves, it reported four possible and the one chosen was under the hill the ruined village was on, next to the river and directly across from the goblins. When they arrived they found it was easily defensive and large enough for them to use. There was also a tunnel in the back that appeared to have collapsed, Gepav had a quick look and declared that it had now collapsed the rocks blocking it had been placed there. There where gaps around the rocks that a tiny creature could squeeze through but otherwise it was blocked, Lia used her wild shape ability to shape change and slowly worked her way through the rocks to find a long tunnel leading to a cavern with five more tunnels. She returned and suggested that they sent one of a familiar in to explore more.

Erky did this late that night, but before they lost the sun light they setup fortifications, having prepared many spikes back to the lodge they created a defensive row of spike and an angled path to enter the cave. The familiar returned in the morning as they were leaving, it reported a system of caves but all ended quickly. Only one tunnel had not been explored as it was full of water.

The party headed out to scout the goblin camps and found the here where some much larger camps, but with their conference and experiences from before they felt they could take such odds. And indeed as they attack a camp with over sixty goblins it seemed another easy victory. But one goblin with a red bandana took charge and began giving orders, organising and saving many goblin that would have otherwise been slaughtered.

The party had to disrupt this leader so a fog cloud was magically created around him but he orders and already created a greater defence then the party had expected. The party was winning but they were using more resources and taking more damage than they had expected. When the magically summon fog lifted from the goblin leader he saw that situation was hopeless and used another goblin to escape the spike trap around it. This cased a panic in the remaining goblin who all fled, most killing themselves on the spike trap not having the same mind as their leader to escape safely.

Those that remained where shot down before getting very far, none escaped. Fortunately the second camp they raided was far fewer with only twenty goblins and they didn’t put up much of a fight. The party then returned with a little more knowledge, the larger the group the more likely there would be another leader type goblin. As they return to the cave Erky remembered the images of the caves that he had seen through is familiar and had a feeling something was missing.

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