- Louis (FM 3)
- Osan (Elf F/MU 3/1)
- Omes (Half FM 3)
- Arro (MU 1)
- Habru (Cleric 3)
- Habru’s war dog, named Dog
- Horace – Habru’s retainer – Cleric 1
- Bunco – Omes’s retainer – Knave 1
- Samtik – Habru’s porter
- Durdoon – Arro’s mercenary
It’s a straightforward adventure and reads as a bit of a railroad, but I thought the river setting might make a welcome change from the dungeon, and the players seemed to agree. In any case, as is normal for when I use modules, I use them as a loose framework and add or change things as play progresses.
Mayor Caius Rusticus of Larm enlisted the aid of the party in accompanying his daughter Claudia on a river voyage to Dolmvay. She was to meet her fiancé there and needed protection on the 10-day journey. There were rumors of trouble along the road to Dolmvay, so the river Dolm was thought to be safer, but in any case the Mayor wanted to ensure his daughter’s safety. They were each offered a hefty payment, half now and half on safe arrival at the Dolmvay docks, where they were to meet the Harbormaster.
They loaded up on supplies and met the captain of the barge Dragonfly, Captain Sook, the next morning at dawn. Claudia was present as well, with a pile of belongings, including a large mirror. She bid the captain to place her supplies in the quarters next to hers (taking up both passenger cabins on the small barge) and climbed aboard. She scarcely gave the party notice, even as Osan tried his best to be nice. Not looking forward to the next 10 days with their charge, the party boarded and they were soon floating downstream.
The first day was uneventful and the weather pleasant. That night, the party was forced to sleep on the deck with both passenger cabins occupied. Osan, always the chivalrous Elf, slept on the roof of Claudia’s cabin. Claudia gave no hint of concern about the party being inconvenienced.
On day two, things changed. The quiet voyage was interrupted by the splash of a large rock which landed close to the hull. It was thrown by a giant who had waded into the river and was now demanding gold for safe passage. While the party consulted with Captain Sook, another rock hit the hull and they realized they had to act quickly. Omes, Osan and Durdoon fired bows, striking the giant. Arro fired off a magic missile, then threw a water barrel downstream into the river, telling the giant it was full of gold. As the giant moved towards the barrel warily, Habru cast a light spell into the giant’s eyes, and that was enough for it to break morale. The now-blind giant fled to shore and stumbled away into the woods.
Captain Sook thanked the party, and after sailing downstream a ways, stopped for a few hours to repair the hull. He swore that nothing like this had ever happened to him before, and he had made the trip to Dolmvay many times. The rest of the day was quiet, and the barge made good progress after the repairs. They did not hear or see any more of the giant.
Day three dawned with more decent weather. The river widened and became more shallow, with swampland on either bank. Navigation was slow in the shallow water, and made harder by having to avoid clumps of weeds and small islands with gnarled, tiny trees on them. Captain Sook seemed to be unfazed, however, as accustomed to the river as he was. All was quiet until ahead, the party could see a rope of braided vines strung across the river between two small islands. There was no avoiding it, so Captain Sook ordered the barge to anchor and as he did so, six frog-men with spears leaped aboard the barge and attacked! Omes was wounded in the ensuing battle, but the party killed the frog-men in short order and unceremoniously dumped them overboard. Again Captain Sook swore to the party that this was unusual and that no, he had never been attacked by frog-men before today. The party considered this, but had no explanation for their string of bad luck – two encounters in three days.
To be continued…
I mentioned above that this module is a bit of a railroad. It also stretches believability by having all sorts of deadly encounters on a supposedly safe river trade route. I had an idea for this, which was made clear to the players a bit later, but for now I handled it by letting the party know that yes, it was a bit unbelievable, even to the experienced ship captain. I think that helped and made the players wonder just what was going on.
I was impressed by how the party handled the stone giant, which could have ended much worse. The module portrays the giant as somewhat of a coward, which was why I ruled he would flee after being blinded. It was clever to both distract him with a fake barrel of gold, and to cast light in his eyes.
The module describes Claudia as a vain and spoiled teen who spends hours in front of her mirror, and I played her this way. This led to some amusing situations, starting with her taking up all of the passenger space and forcing the party to sleep on deck. The player who played Osan (a lawful Elf), did a good job of role-playing a frustrated guardian.