The Forest of Caer

Finders, Keepers
Session 9 - 26/7/17

"We need your brave Kobold warr-"
"HAHAHAHAHA!"    — Salazar and Ab'Arrak

In which (most of) our heroes attempt to recruit the kobolds to their cause; discover that they have come under the control of the young green dragon Ab'Arrak who has formed an agreement with the Hags; fight and slay Ab'Arrak after a desperate battle and return to Latro victorious; Songs buys some rope.


With a few short days remaining before the new moon and the last chance for our heroes to stop the ritual to bind the Ghulthias tree, the time to marshal forces and form plans is rapidly coming to an end. Two issues took priority: the necessity of obtaining some fireproof rope or chains with which to suspend the bowl containing the Bealtaine Fire, allowing it to be carried by one person; and recruiting the kobolds previously encountered to fight against the Hags.

Songs elected to find the rope while the others left to recruit the kobolds. Through careful investigation he found that Ogier-sung rope would serve the purpose adequately; however the Ogier are extremely shy and pacifistic, and were not likely to trade with Songs directly. The centaurs trade with the Ogier regularly, and Songs managed to barter for a length of rope in exchange for the enchanted dagger carried by Randall.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party traveled to the kobold half a day away. They were expecting a hero's welcome, as Salazar had established himself as an envoy of Tiamat last time they met. However, their greeting was much more reserved as a change in leadership had taken place. When our heroes were brought to the kobold tribe leader, he revealed that they had been "blessed" by Tiamat, and that the dragon Ab'Arrak had come to lead them to glory. Before there was a chance for our heroes to react, a loud thud signalled Ab'Arrak's return, and the party ventured out to confront him.

Ab'Arrak was a young green dragon, on the cusp of adulthood: not yet come into his own, but large and dangerous nonetheless. He assumed command of the kobolds only a few days ago, having been given their location by the Hags. Despite this, and his supposed loyalty to the Hags, he was unaware of exactly what they were planning, and attempted to worm out the details of their plans concerning the Ghulthias tree during the conversation with Salazar: particularly, he wanted to know if he could control the tree's power somehow. Unfortunately, when our heroes could provide no sure way that he could benefit from betraying the Hags and the odds seemingly stacked in their favour, he attacked the party.

A long and desperate battle ensued: the dragon's poison breath immediately incapacitated some of our heroes and hindered their attempts to flee: while the tree line was not far away, constant attacks by the dragon and the necessity of healing and reviving wounded party members slowed progress. All-in-all, the battle was ferocious, and hard won – as Salazar and Ron attempted to damage the dragon with spells, they earned his ire and frequently went down under his attacks, forcing Aliah to spend much of the battle running back and forth across the battle field to heal her comrades. After many fortuitous dice rolls in favour of the party (and a mild cardio workout for Barbara, who somehow avoided engaging Ab'Arrak directly) the dragon was finally felled, at a great cost: all of the party members (except Barbara) went down at least once, with several going down multiple times.

With Ab'Arrak dead, the kobolds were easily subdued, shocked and demoralised by the sudden death of their overlord. Many trophies were taken from Ab'Arrak, including fangs, claws, scales and an entire foot, as well as scales for armour. His head was borne back to Latro's Cottage as a trophy. With this new threat neutralised before anyone knew it existed, the party's forces have the advantage of surprise when engaging the Hags, as at least one of their allies will not answer their summons. In the morning, our heroes and Latro will gather their forces and set out for battle to decide the fate of the Forest, and possibly the entire continent…

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Sunny with a Chance of Pain
Session 8 - 19/07/17

"Go on, get the shiny!" — Aliah, on the light of the sun

In which our heroes reunite with Latro and his army of good fey, charm some snakes, borrow a PIECE OF THE FUCKING SUN, and plan the battle ahead.


Salazar rejoins the party as they take a well deserved breakfast in the aftermath of the night, having woken up in a field to the North of the town surrounded by strange ruins scorched into the ground. There is little time to recover, however, as the townsfolk begin evacuating in earnest and the raven sent by Latro to guide them becomes anxious to get underway. Latro's cottage is a few hours away from the town and the journey is uneventful, save for when the raven comes across a homunculus watching them in a tree and the party is ambushed by shrubbery shortly afterwards.

Unfortunately, in their haste to depart the party forgot they were supposed to bring Sam with them for his expertise in destroying vampires, leaving Latro's council to decide the best course of action. The hags had indeed acquired a Ghulthias tree, and the ritual sacrifices served to speed its growth and allow them to exert control over the Blights produced. Furthermore, they have been amassing an army of evil creatures to defend their tree. They plan to sacrifice Caoinín, the spirit of the forest, to the tree during the New Moon, using his power to corrupt the forest and bind it to their will (the forest covers a couple of thousand square miles, so that's bad).

Our heroes strained their wits in a brainstorming session, trying to imagine ways of getting close enough to the tree to be able to destroy it, and methods of destroying it in the first place. Rapsil the Faerie Dragon mentions a nearby barrow which is said to contain the Bealtaine Fire - a sacred flame, given by the Old Gods of the Sun to the people who lived there millennia ago. The flame was said to burn with the light of the sun, and was likely their best chance at destroying the tree for good. However the barrow is guarded by an ancient spirit, and has lain undisturbed for many centuries. The guardian of the barrow is Bessrana, a minor angel Songs recognised from the Bible of Helios.

After a brief discussion our heroes decided to set out for the barrow, guided by Rapsil. The barrow itself has long since been reclaimed by the forest, and all that is left is a concealed opening in the side of a mound, infested with snakes. The snakes do not act aggressive to the newcomers (who aren't afraid of a few highly venomous serpents, right?) and the passage into the mound curled away as it descended. Our heroes passed a series of trials, testing their intentions and valour to prove themselves worthy of the Fire. They succeeded with ease, showing unusual restraint and selflessness, and were granted the Bealtaine Fire and Bessrana's blessing.

Just as they were about to leave, goblins began to invade the barrow from the entrance, although their progress was slowed by the snakes and traps Bessrana had set. Our heroes rushed to a secret exit in the second chamber, bearing the Fire between them, narrowly escaping by charming the first goblins to reach the chamber. The Fire has some drawbacks: it will ferociously devour any evil it comes into contact with, but it will not survive long out of its bowl. In the dark it shines like the sun, but in sunlight it seems to not give off any light at all, simply blending in with the daylight.

On their way back to Latro's cottage the party finally caught up with Sam, who had tracked them out from Caer but failed to discover the hidden entrance to the cottage. Although he was initially enamoured by the Fire, he soon became suspicious of its origin, citing a distrust of heretics and his unwillingness to work with the Old Faith. After a brief discussion on strategy, our heroes finally took a well deserved rest, with the prospect of discussing battle plans in the morning.

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The Siege of Caer
Session 7 - 12/07/17

"…well it's not that they're good, mostly they're indifferent unless there's an imbalance. But sacrificing children is an imbalance! So while they normally don't care, this time they're on your side!" — Ron

In which our heroes discover that the mob is fickle; Barbara makes some friends; the town of Caer prepares for battle; an epic duel is fought; a foe is slain and the goblinoid threat is dealt with.


Our heroes were met with a frosty reception when they arrived into Caer. Not only had the goblin attacks been renewed with greater vigour since the attack on the barrow, but one of the rescued "prisoners" was actually a hag, who caused great trouble in the town before disappearing, leaving the party in a rather unfavourable light. On top of this, another adventuring party had returned victorious from their quest and rescued Randall to boot, earning them high esteem in the now beleaguered citizens of Caer. The townsfolk themselves were making preparations to flee the village as soon as possible, for the most part: Ben Fogarty was the first, leaving after a brief discussion with the party about the fate of the village.

Without leadership and with the dark closing in fast, it was apparent that any attempt to leave before dawn would result in slaughter on the open road: despite this, many of the folk were still trying to leave. Our heroes set about rallying defenses: organising the evacuation, bolstering up the militia and attempting to recruit more, with mixed results. When Latro's reinforcements arrived that evening in the form of 24 heavily armed centaurs, it was time to plan the battle.

It was decided that the courtyard of the inn was the most defensible position large enough to house all those who couldn't or wouldn't fight. Barricades were erected to block up entranceways, including a mobile barricade on a cart. Fire teams were organised, archers were positioned on rooftops and towers and a field of torches was arrayed in front of the walls. As dark fell, a hush grew over the town as the battle loomed before them…

It didn't take long for their foe to make an appearance. A veritable horde of goblins, bugbears and hobgoblins, some 500 strong to Caer's bare 100 capable defenders and 250 refugees. At the head of the column marched a familiar figure… Grazz the Ravager. Grazz stood unusually tall and stocky for a goblin, with signs of Orcish ancestry. He was clothed in crude goblin rags and charms, and covered with warpaint. He approached the gate where Barbara was standing guard with his hobgoblin commanders and demanded a surrender of the town, with all inside being taken as slaves. Needless to say this wasn't taken well, and Barbara challenged him to a duel for the town.

An epic battle ensued, and while Barbara's tenacity and strength was brought to bear on the half-goblin, it was matched and exceeded by the sheer ferocity of Grazz's attacks and he struck her down as he had with so many others. However, all was not yet lost: when it became apparent that Barbara might lose the duel, Ron sent his familiar to signal the centaurs to charge, and Randall with them. They arrived just as Barbara was felled but before Grazz could strike a fatal blow, and Randall launched himself in a burst of flame at Grazz while Aliah attended to Barbara's wounds. In the brief fight that ensued Grazz found himself out numbered and outmatched… and his attendants did nothing as their leader was struck down, his head impaled on Barbara's sword.

The hobgoblins immediately retreated to their army, eager to be the first to fill the power vacuum left by Grazz's demise. in the hours that followed fighting broke out amongst the various factions of goblins within the horde before they broke up and routed entirely in the small hours of the morning, separated into small bands and tribes once more. Dawn came to a town miraculously unscathed, as not a single life was lost in the routing of the vast army. Yet the threat of a greater doom still lies a few days to the west in the forest, and Latro's summons grow more urgent by the hour…

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At the Heart of It All
Session 6 - 5/07/17

"Why would I tell you? You never asked." - Barbara, on her imprisonment and release.

In which there are mysterious comings and goings; the presence of evil weighs heavily upon the Forest; the hags are confronted and our heroes must flee for their lives.


Standing in the midst of carnage after the fight with the dinosaurs, our heroes (and Latro) take a moment to recuperate and notice that Randall has seemingly disappeared, with nothing but a faint "whumph" to announce his departure. This doesn't strike anybody as that odd, however, and the march towards the heart of the Forest continues under the assumption that he can handle himself. As our heroes delve further into the Forest the environment becomes yet more hostile, as trees and brambles begin to crowd the paths and roots and stones attempt to trip any unwary walker. Several times strange shapes and motions are seen in the periphery of vision, resolving themselves into normal foliage if looked at directly. The ground begins to grow boggy and a mist descends.

From out of the mist, two humanoid shapes are seen: Barbara and a new-comer, a mysterious human Warlock named Ron. Barbara had been released from her cell early when a goblin raid came upon Caer in the middle of the night; in the aftermath of the battle it became apparent that Jenny, one of the girls who had been rescued, was in fact a hag in disguise. She had bewitched her "father" to open the gates of the town during the raid, but he was fortunately overcome before he was able to do so. She slipped out of the town unnoticed during the night. Ron had travelled to the town on a mission of his own and, seeing a common cause with Barbara, travelled with her to track down the rest of the party.

Emboldened by the newest additions to the group, our heroes set out once more through the mist and bog. Travelling was slow, and before too long they were ambushed once more: this time tiny streaking shapes struck at them from out of the mist, running in, attacking, and running out in the blink of an eye. With unnatural speed and grace, hitting these creatures with anything was a challenge, although clever use of spells and reactions allowed our heroes to slay three of them before the fourth fled.

Bloodied but undeterred, the party marched on towards the hags, coming to a rise of dry ground in the swamp. Upon the rise sits a large tree and around the base of that tree sprawls a ramshackle cottage. One of the hags was awaiting the arrival of the party and invited them up to "chat". A brief but unpleasant conversation ensued; the hag implied that she had been spying on the party for quite some time. She also revealed how she had been disguised as Jenny from the start and thanked the party for the "fun" involved in her rescue and subsequent antics. The real business, however, was to be conducted with "Auntie Grim", a disfigured and ancient crone. She emerged accompanied by a pack of Yeth hounds, and quickly set down to business: she rebuked any attempts to coerce her to reveal her plans, but instead offered the party a child to bring back to Caer as a "reward" for taking the trouble to see her.

Unfortunately the presence of such evil arrogance pushed Song of the Holy Choir past his limits. Denouncing the heretics, he brought forth a burst of holy light, searing the hags and their hounds, and all hell broke loose. The hounds, expecting such treachery, sent up a dread baying causing all but Aliah and Barbara to flee in mindless terror. Putting up a fight against them proved useless as they overcame both Aliah and Salazar within seconds. Latro attempted to transform into an elephant to stave off the worst of their attack while fleeing with the unconscious on his back. Enraged by the the show of audacity, Grim ripped the heart out of one of the children and threw it at Song, cursing the party as "Ungrateful brats." The hounds broke off the chase once it became apparent that their "guests" were retreating, leaving our heroes to dwell on their misfortune and revive their companions.

It is now apparent that the hags control far more power than anticipated. They also appear to be cultivating a Gulthias Tree, an eldritch creation imbued with the blood of a master vampire. Through the Gulthias Tree they could raise an army of corrupted plants known as Blights. With Caoinín the Hare presumably captured and the new moon just days away, Latro has left to gather the Council of the Wood while entrusting the party to warn the town and pick up Sam for his expertise in dealing with vampires. Things are looking Grim…

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It May Be A Walk In The Woods But It Ain't No Picnic
Session 5 - 28/06/17

"I guess I'll beat the bejesus out of the paralysed guy." — Officer Randall.

In which our heroes learn that the arm of the law is both long and somewhat arbitrary; the mysterious and powerful paladin doesn't do shit; a drugged up hippy is rescued from the dragon guys that took him captive; the plot thickens once more.


Barbara's twin penchants for apples and larceny finally proved to be her undoing as she was accused of stealing apples from a starving family and remanded into a makeshift cell for a few days to allow resentment to simmer down. In the meanwhile, a raven had flown into the Mayor's office and delivered a message with Latro's (the local druid) voice: "Captured by kobolds. Send help." With the aid of a map found while pilfering investigating his cottage, and a somewhat compunctious Sam in tow, the remainder of the party set off to rescue Latro.

Evil was afoot in the forest, however. Just beyond the border of the woods a pair of goblins were spotted having an argument about ambushes. Attempts to sneak up on them went awry, and the party was thrust into a vicious battle where it soon became clear that there was more to these goblins than met the eye: they dodged attacks with uncanny speed and shrugged off blows that would fell most goblins in an instant. Things only got worse as first one, then the other shapeshifted into terrifying beasts. Fortune smiled upon the party however as stray firebolts and scorching rays ignited some dry kindling on the forest floor and Sam finally managed to make his presence felt in battle, causing one of the beasts to flee and slaying the other, respectively.

Reaching the old Dwarven fort where Latro had been captured the next afternoon, our heroes wasted no time in charging in impulsively, with Salazar at the fore having slid down a staircase. This worked to his advantage, as a hastily improvised performance and speech managed to win him the support of the gathered kobolds, exchanging Latro for the promise of help to rid the "North-Eastern Den" of goblins and some "shinies".

Unfortunately, Latro had been drugged while in the custody of the goblins, restricting his ability to cast magic or change shape. However, when captured he was in the middle of a vital mission: tracking a coven of hags, the same hags believed to have been buying the prisoners from the goblins; in his weakened state he needs the party to accompany him to confront the hags. In the day since his rescue he has been slowly recovering his powers, but the forest itself has been growing hostile as the party moves deeper and deeper into its heart…

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Grab the Looty and Rescue the Booty
Session 4 - 21/6/17

"No, I'm good cop, you're bad cop and he's actual cop." — Song of the Holy Choir

In which our valiant heroes make a new, badass friend; kill a whole lot of green people; get loot; return in triumph and receive a just reward for their valiant efforts.


Returning to our adventure in the midst of a dungeon, our heroes suddenly found themselves revitalised with renewed vigour and power. A cautious approach to the next room they encountered revealed that some sort of interrogation was taking place and that they had not been invited. Seeking to remedy this situation with all haste, Barbara kicked in the door to reveal 3 hobgoblins clustered around a monk tied to a chair. A brief battle ensued (to the demise of the hobgoblins) and a subsequent scan of the room revealed plans, maps, letters and notes scattered around the room. Although some of the notes were intelligible, most were written in a crude goblin scrawl and needed to be interpreted later.

Their victory was short lived, however, as their entrance into the barrow had finally been discovered, and a patrol of goblins and bugbears descended upon them, barely giving them time to arrange a hasty (but effective) ambush. With no clue yet as to the final destination of the prisoners, our heroes set out in search of more green things to torture and/or kill.

When they discovered a minotaur skeleton reanimated by the power of a glowing gem in one of the rooms, a clever ploy by Aliah forced it into a corner where Randall quickly proved his worth to the group by punching it into so much bone dust. The garnet disintegrated when the skeleton was destroyed, but a search of the altar the skeleton had been resting upon revealed an enchanted dagger.

Discovering a trio of goblins playing cards in the barracks, Salazar put two to sleep as Randall restrained the third. This one was questioned by the party as Barbara realised she hadn't killed anything since lunchtime and took out her frustration on one of the sleeping goblins. It revealed that Grazz the Ravager was the leader of the goblinoid legion and that their presence in the area was as an outpost. It also revealed that members of a cult had been buying the prisoners and taking them deeper into the forest; always women, although of different races and statures.

With the loot and the captives safely recovered and the apparent head of the goblin operation removed, our heroes set out back to Caer, avoiding the external patrols by ferrying the group across to the far side of the lake. An uneventful trip home lead to a tearful father/daughter reunion, the receipt of lots of money and an intriguing mystery to unravel: the captives are clearly being sacrificed, but by whom and to what end? For good or for ill, the Old Faith is clearly involved somehow, but with Latro the Druid keeping a minimal presence in the town at the best of times tracking down the cultists could prove to be an arduous task… 

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Up a Creek Without a Paddle
Session 3 - 14/6/17

"Child-murder Broadway play?" – Song of the Holy Choir

In which our brave adventurers receive the thanks of the townsfolk, meet a Paladin of Helios, bravely slay some sleeping goblins and explore a spoopy barrow.


After slaying the werewolf the day before, our heroes awoke to a great clamour in the town as Sam Havelock, brave Paladin of Helios, returned to the town from hunting the goblins. The omens were ill, however: he returned alone, and wounded. He was brought to the infirmary for respite, but refused healing from Aliah, claiming that his wounds would serve as a badge of shame for allowing himself to be overcome by his enemies. He instead chose to remain in Caer to protect the town and allow our heroes to finish his quest and save his companion, although not before giving them critical aid: first, he removed the (possible) lycantrophy curse on Aliah; second, he provided a map detailing the geography of the goblin lair and the movements of the patrols. The lair was in an abandoned barrow by the side of a lake, about a day into the forest.

Armed with knowledge and the certainty of not becoming a rabid beast, our heroes cashed in the favour of the Mayor to obtain a pair of rowboats (as well as a potion of climbing from the mayors' stash) in order to hasten their way to the barrow. Employing a novel strategy of stealth and wit they managed to sneak through the reeds on the lake shore and quickly incapacitate the goblins guarding the side entrance to the barrow, putting them in an enchanted sleep and hastily slitting their throats before anyone could see what happened.

Cautiously exploring the inside of the barrow proved to be profitable for the party, as they managed to delve into its heart while meeting minimal resistance. Along the way they discovered the bulk of the loot hoard: a bag of gold, a small purse of gems, a chest of silver and several sacks of copper coins, much of which lack distinguishing marks to identify themselves to their rightful owners (finders keepers right?). They also rescued three young women who were being kept as prisoners by the goblins, fighting a desperate battle with a pair of bugbears in the dark as they came to their aid. Now with the prisoners and loot in tow, our heroes simply need to rescue the monk and execute the leader of the goblins before returning home victorious.

Not too hard, right?

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About Your "Doggy Problem"...
Session 2 - 07/06/17

"Wait a minute. Werewolves like meat." — Salazar (probably)

In which our brave heroes get to know the good citizens of Caer while hunting for a werewolf in their midst; the werewolf is slain in its lair; and the fate of one of our heroes hangs precariously in the balance.


Arriving in Caer somewhat scathed from their battle with the goblins the previous night, the party nevertheless made no delay in proceeding with their quest (with the exception of Barbara, who has retired to the infirmary for some much needed rest) and made enquiries as to the location of Graz the Ravager, the leader of the goblin raids. They discovered that some days previous a paladin and a monk had visited the town and volunteered to do the same job: they had not been seen since, but given the extent of Caer's troubles this was not believed to be a reason for any alarm.

Instead the party was offered a secretive mission by the mayor (Ben Fogarty): discover the identity of a werewolf who had been attacking folks in the town recently and kill them, before the rest of the townsfolk discovered that a monster was in the town itself and begin to panic. All that was known was that the murders started two days ago and that all the victims had been young – the oldest was 23 and the youngest was 4.

A lengthy investigation followed the next day: silver for weapons was obtained from the rector (Jotun), the weapons themselves were prepared by the blacksmith (Reg "Three-shoes"), who also ran the militia and volunteered some runners. A wolfsbane potion was prepared by Craig, the town's herbalist. An inspection of the murder scenes (and a tactful interrogation of two of the victims' mother) revealed clues as to the identity of the werewolf: he had striking blond hair and lived somewhere on the west of the town. Further evidence implied that the werewolf was none other than Jeremy, the town's schoolmaster!

Armed with knowledge (and silver, and wolfsbane) our heroes sought out the beast in its lair, slaying it in a ferocious battle. Unfortunately they are now left with more questions than answers: how did Jeremy become cursed? What strange magic allowed him to change independent of the phase of the moon, seemingly at will? Most importantly, Aliah was bitten: will the curse be passed on?

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Onwards to Glory!
Session 1 - 31/5/17

"I'm not shanking a child!" — Aliah

In which our heroes learn that justice is, well, not that just; that a hike through the countryside can create lasting memories; that you shouldn't trust strange children on ponies; that goblins are real dicks to have on camping trips.


After meeting in a tavern in the rough part of Bryden and promptly being arrested for their "involvement" in a bar brawl, the party was presented with a tough choice by the chief constable of the city: to assist the local town of Caer with their goblin issue, or to spend their sentence in the dungeon. Although there was some agonising over the decision, the party eventually decided unanimously to help Caer.

Taking no delays in leaving the city (except to attend a religious service and steal some apples), our heroes set off Northwards towards fame, fortune and being allowed back into Bryden. Passing through the idyllic countryside of scattered farmsteads and woodland took 4 days, with the evidence of large scale raiding (and indeed an element of occult involvement) increasing as the party drew nearer to Caer.

Notably, they were lured into an ambush by a young girl who claimed to have lost her parents. Short work was made of the bandits, but the true cost of the encounter was discovered later that night, when a large goblin raiding party chanced upon their camp. During a desperate battle in the dark it was discovered that the little buggers are hard to hit and Barbara took a significant beating, going unconscious twice during the battle. Songs of the Holy Choir eventually drove the foes away (although not single handedly) by imitating a pack of wolves and turning the goblins' wolves against them. A map was discovered on the corpse of one of the foes, indicating a meeting point in the forest.

After taking a well-deserved rest, the party encountered a group of militia from Caer the next day and gave them the map to the meeting point. Our heroes arrived into Caer itself that evening, ready to level up and embark on the next phase of their quest.

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