Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Favorites of Selune - Gardmore Abbey - Session 6

In the previous session the Favorites of Selune had arrived at the Fountain of Oghma in the Feygrove part of Gardmore Abbey. They had met the eladrin noble Berrian Velfarren, and informed him of the death of his sister. This session starts with good news: The players have gained a level, are now level 7, and can choose a new encounter power. For that they have to do a long rest at the fountain with the elves.

Now Berrian wants the heroes to do a task for him: Recovering some documents from the cottage of the groundskeeper. Berrian thinks the documents will show the part of the eladrin in planting the Feygrove, and give him a rightful claim to this part of Gardmore Abbey. But the cottage is currently inhabited by two owlbears, and the eladrin don't want to kill them. Now during the conversation the players notice the familiar pull of their cards of the Deck of Many Things, indicating that Berrian has found a card as well. Asked about the card he replies that this is just a small magical trinket he found around here, and offers it as reward for recovering the documents. Having learned that owlbears fear displacer beasts, the group returns before nightfall at the bell tower where they killed two displacer beasts in the previous session, and recover the skins and olfactory glands, planning to use them the next day to scare the owlbears away.

In the evening the players enjoy the hospitality of the eladrin, who treat them to a meal accompanied by feywine. When the full moon comes up, the eladrin tell them that the Fountain of Oghma grants a vision of the past in the form of a dream to anybody drinking from it at full moon. Everybody decides to do so, and they all dream of various scenes of Gardmore Abbey in the past: How it was built, daily life, and how it fell to a combined assault of orcs from outside and undead from inside.

The next day they set off for the groundskeeper's cottage. The warrior and rogue approach the cottage draped in displacer beast skin, and smeared with the smell of the beasts. The wizard contributes a magically enhanced displacer beast roar. With a combination of playing that out and various skill checks the adventurers manage to scare the owlbears away, and recover the documents without a fight. The documents do in fact show that Berrians father helped plant the Feygrove.

Back with the eladrin the group learns that Berrian has gone to the nymphs (as they suggested to him earlier) to ask the nymphs about the secret of his father's whereabouts. The nymphs confirm that his father was here up to the fall of the abbey, and reveal that he was last seen at the watchtower during that battle, and never since. While Berrian is grateful for the contribution of the Favorites of Selune to his search, he is at a loss about what to do next, stating that he already explored the watchtower and couldn't even find an entrance to it. As the group is here to forge an alliance between the eladrin and Lord Padraig, Berrian suggests the players negotiate his claim to the Feygrove with the found documents as condition for the alliance. The adventures return to Winterhaven, where they stay for a day of rest and recuperation, and get a signed document from Lord Padraig recognizing Berrian's claim, and concluding the alliance. Lord Padraig is also interested in the watchtower, as a starting point for driving out the orcs from the abbey.

The Favorites of Selune then return to the Feygrove, and receive the Knight card of the Deck of Many Things from Berrian as reward. With both Lord Padraig and Berrian having an interest in the watchtower, which is close to the eladrin camp, the group heads there next. At first, from a distance, it is hard to understand where Berrian's problem with the watchtower was: The entrance is clearly visible, and the tower looks rather normal, even in better shape than the rest of the abbey. But on trying to enter the tower, it turns out that nothing is as it seems. Although from a higher vantage points one can even see a guardsman from the Templar in the tower, nobody in the tower reacts to anything the players do. And instead of feeling a wooden door and a stone wall, it is as if the tower was encased in a layer of hard glass, not allowing entry by by door or window.

At this point the dwarven warrior decides to use a traditional dwarven method to open the door: Hitting it with his axe. But the result is somewhat unexpected: The tower starts bleeding a black ooze, which forms into 15 black pudding spawn, which attach the players. Due to a good initiative roll, the spawn does some serious damage before getting killed quickly (they are all just 1 hit point minions). The tower isn't visibly damaged by the attempt, so force doesn't appear to be the right solution.

At this point we run into one typical problem of sandbox adventures: If there are lots of different things to do, without a prescribed order of doing things, players have a tendency to give up on the first sign of difficulty. "Don't know how to access the watchtower? Why bother, we just do something else!". Of course that is a valid option, but for the overall sense of adventure and progress of the story it isn't really a good one. You end up with a long list of stuff you started but never finished, and basically do the tour of the adventure twice. So we end the session here, with the opportunity for the players to think more about possible ways to enter the watchtower during the holiday break, and a suggestion to use a Hand of Fate ritual to get some guidance from Selune.

I hope those were actually scent glands from the displacer beasts. Olfactory glands will produce mucus at best!
I think that was a case of the nature skills of the characters being higher than the actual knowledge of biology of the players controlling the characters, and the DM. :)
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