A campaign from 2004.
Tracy Frost : Human Ranger
Jack Truden : Human Assassin
Niko Arcanian : Human Warrior
Khazka StoneBlood : Orcish Warrior (warlord)
Django Reijseger : Human Cleric
Rellig : Human Mage
The dukes of Drannor came together recently to discuss what all their merchant guild leaders were saying: that in recent months, the loss-to-piracy rate of their exports to the south has increased, while the loss-to-piracy rate of imports from the south has decreased. Everyone knows that trade between the north and the south by either sea or land is hazardous, but the sudden shift is suspicious.
1) The mages of Sorcerers Isle are manipulating global commerce for their own unknown purposes. (totally false)
2) The northern merchants are falsely reporting losses in order to convince the Seven Dukes to add tariffs or cut off trade with the south. (totally false)
3) Durkin intends to build up its coffers (and diminish Drannor's) as part of preparations for full-scale invasion. They're coordinating payoffs to both the ocean pirates and the bandit hordes along Gamblers' Reach. A variation on this rumor claims Durkin's sneaky alliances with pirates, or Icelund, or Pendathoway. (totally false)
4)A group of giants has descended from the mountains above Gambler's Reach and have an organized strategy to extort riches from Drannor. (partially true)
Rumor #3 is of particular concern to the Seven Dukes of course and they met at a little known keep in the plains of Hilldebrandt several months ago to discuss it. Their confederacy is loose, but if the entire kingdom of Durkin is seeking to undermine trade relations and preparing for war, systems must be put in place to defend Drannor. First, they must confirm or rule out the rumors, and decide to put together a small team to ascertain the truth. A large force, or any direct confrontation or demands would be counterproductive – if the rumors of impending war are false, they don't want to damage relations with Durkin.
- By providing expensive 'insurance policies' to the merchants of the south, and then ensuring that the goods arrive unharmed. This additionally curries favor with wealthy southern merchants, who consequently defend the interests of the Org.
- By buying out regional merchants and producers of the highest-profit goods destined for the markets of Drannor.
- By an alliance with the clans of sea pirates to buy Northern goods at a guaranteed price, which can subsequently be sold locally at great profit. As such the Org has become (through their whole-owned businesses) the sole source for some Northern goods. Additionally they've provided various articles and equipment of sea warfare to the pirates to help them sink the occasional fortified foe, including devastating seige engine missiles developed in the forges of Zareph (“doom-iron”).
- An Org missionary managed to convert a community of giants in the mountains above Gambler's Reach, who are organizing the bandit hordes to ignore more of the north-traveling caravans, and attack more of the south-traveling.
Aiding each prong of the strategy to great effect has been the unearthing of eyes of charming and rod of rulership which the leader of the Org, Grand Commodore Odwalla Nazarene, possesses at all times. The magic items were discovered by an Org missionary exploring a submerged temple miles off the coast.
The possession of these items are the key to the success of the Org's growth and manipulation of international commerce. In fact, the locals in Lowenport were beginning to grow weary of the Org's pretentious public ceremonies and administrators from Camlin were beginning to consider their forcible removal.
Possible directions for the team:
- Gambler's Reach: Here they might witness raids by either land or sea.
- Talk to and or travel with local merchants/caravan leaders: they'll be subjected to raids as above.
- Open water – look for pirates
- travel to Camlin and snoop around
Land raids will come in the form of giants and orcs working together. It'll be too many to overcome, but if they manage to talk to any of them, an orc could let it slip that they're expecting the 'brown brothers' (Org monks) to bring new slave girls soon, which they'll only receive if they've seized enough goods from the north. (Subquest could be to save some slave girls.)
Sea raids will involve catapults of burning pitch and rubble ahead at the party to throw everything into confusion and kill part of the caravan, followed by an onslaught of pirates in rowboats (with arrow shields). From the pirates they might learn that they're in a rush to meet their buyers to the south. They meet at an island 20 miles offshore.
Products exported from North to South: pitch, wool, beer & spirits, furs, fish, cheese, pickled vegetables, cloth, salt, jewelry, grain.
From South to North: spices, alloys, wine & rum, fine leather, dried fruits, nuts, honey, wax, jewelry, olive oil, weapons and armor, grains, art, fine items of wood, musical instruments, ceramics, Elven artisan creations, and all manner of expensive Eastern goods (carpets, glasswork, exotic spices, gems).
Duke of Cuthbert is middle-aged, ragged, curious/inquisitive, antagonistically extroverted, morose, of dreaming intellect, unforgiving, greedy, prone to lying, a bit foolhardy, immoral, and yet pious.
FIXME How it Played out: FIXME
Hamlet of Laufen
Hamlet of Laufen
Party accompanied caravan, pirates came in while party hid in rocks, pirates beached, stormed past, and party stole a boat to attack pirate vessel! Pirates spied the party, and time was of the essence, so......
Kazka was launched (via magic -- kazka was being flown like a kite via Levitate or something?) onto Bog Bob's ship...while the rest of the party was climbing up slowly. Kazka almost died.
Then the party met and convinced Monteblain to turn the catapults against the approaching pirates. Splat!
Kazka disembarked(?) and traced orcs into the mountains....
And Kazka had to enthrall a group... and finally met Slaka, and a a bunch of captive human women, which Kazka claimed.
Kazka was captured in Lowenport after leading an orc army which ewas routed by forces from Camlin.
Rellig cast Grease to help Kazka avoid badguys on the wall.
Copy pasted from my Sept 2004 document:
Encounter #1: drunken bandits
A group of ruffians has taken a wagonload of whiskey barrels (20), and its owner, the battered and terrified and rather fat and mustachio'd merchant Edwin Mulholland. His red and purple eastern silk garb is trashed and he has a black eye and a bloody hand. He's tied up among the barrels.
(The assassin will recognize the name as a producer of middle-grade whiskey out of Nottingham. )
The bandits are quite drunk – aggressive, over confident, and impaired.
Three 2nd-level thieves will try to backstab. Sark, Duane, and Blitz HP: 10 each, AC: 14, AT: 0 leather armor, shortswords, daggers, slings, 3d12 gold each Sark wears an emerald ring that belongs to Edwin worth 450GP.
4th level fighter, Blair, not as drunk, will climb atop the wagon HP: 40, AC: 16, AT: +4 Specialized with his +1 shortbow (2x d6+3) Leather armor, longsword, backpack contains 30' rope, grappling hook, flint & steel, 4d12 gold.
These are common bandits who know nothing useful, but they did hear that business is good in the south and have considered a trek in that direction.
Edwin has lost 10's of thousands in revenue lately, all from shipments headed to Durkin, about triple his “normal” losses from piracy/bandits. His theory is that it's a conspiracy among caravan operators and the pirates. (He has trouble trusting people – his bodyguard fled at the site of the bandits above.)
“If you want to know more, you should talk to my old bodyguard, who just retired this spring to his family farm outside Luxor. His name is Garth of the House of Griswald... (the ranger will recognize this name – a nearby neighbor with whom his family enjoyed cordial relations) he accompanied my shipments to Argyle dozens of times over the years. “
garth griswald: he's 60-something and lost his right hand in battle with pirates this spring, while accompanying Edwin's whiskey south. “The strange thing is there were TWO pirate clans who attacked at the same time (the HandHackers and the RedEyes
orc raiders with giant boss: It'll be too many to overcome, but if they manage to talk to any of them, an orc could let it slip that they're expecting the 'brown brothers' (Org monks) to bring new slave girls soon, which they'll only receive if they've seized enough goods from the north. (Subquest could be to save some slave girls.)
pirates: at sea – they'll attempt to take any large merchant vessel flying northern colors. They might mention their 'buyers' in a hidden inlet north of Lowen Bay.
Wizards: the isle is always cloaked in fog, with illusionary giant water dragons, etc.
=============== session 2 =================
The party captured Blair and convinced him to put them in contact with a fence in St. Norbert named Jimmy the Blade, a red-haired master thief with poisoned throwing knives covering his leather vest. Jimmy advises them to contact 'Big Bob', a 4' pirate down on the docks. Just tell him 'sparrow shit', the instructions say.
Down at the southern end of the docks, Big Bob has docked his black-hulled 'merchant ship'. Machines of war are covered in huge canvas tarps, and the hull is a patchwork of fire damage and missile patches. The cool seawater is a soup of thick beds of algae and human and animal waste buzzing with bluebottle flies. The docks themselves are mostly deserted. A dead dog is being consumed quickly by maggots, flies and rats nearby.
A single 1x20' plank leads up to the deck, while a 50-something, deeply-tanned, deeply-stupid, deeply-scarred barefoot and shirtless brigand sits on a stool on the dock. Flies crawl on his grubby body and he doesn't care. Teeth are mostly gone. His name is Dretch, and he'll require at least a gp to do anything at all. He's a 6th level figher with 35 hps.
Big Bob is actually nearly 5' tall – and nearly that wide. He's built like a tank and wields a flashing katana with catlike grace. His hair is tied up in a topknot and his round face is freshly shaven. Baggy patchwork leather pants cover his feet, and atop his red silk shirt he wears a light chainmail shirt. He's got an 18/00 strength, a +10 combat bonus, and is double-specialized with the katana (2x attacks per round). AC: 17 (+3 chain), HP: 110
'sparrow shit' is basically code for 'here's a possible insignificant worker bee for you – I have no reason to trust or distrust them'.
Big Bob's ship, the Marauder, is mostly empty – his guys are in town getting wasted and starting trouble. Big Bob is consulting with his sidekick, Faruq Faqir, a skinny dark-skinned dark-haired brown-eyed thief from the East, and they'll come out to meet the party if pressed by Dretch.
Big Bob will make a series of threats and rules before allowing the party to join the crew or obtain passage:
On this ship, I am god. You are nothing. Lie to me, I take your tongue. Steal from me, and you'll lose a hand. Betray me, and I'll skin you alive. Cheat me, and I'll smash your manhood with a hammer. Disobey me once, and I'll take a finger. Disobey me again and you'll hang from the boom by a hook. (a large meathook is evident at the end of the boom) Do we have an understanding?
Later in the day the crew returns, one brings a drunk prostitute (Serena), and they load the ship up with supplies.
Some random stuff that might be learned from the crew:
quite a number of them are missing their left pinky finger, one is missing his tongue they all clearly fear and respect Big Bob they'll hear of 'doom-iron', which is some kind of weapon that must be replenished in the south (these are the uber missiles) one catapult near the bow is quite large. A locked crate next to it contains the ship's last 'doom-iron', a winged incendiary missile. The catapult master (Monteblaine) is worshipped. He's 60-ish, one-eyed, peg-legged, with a parrot and a pipe.
Strong and steady winds allow for great time down the coast – but unless anyone has sailing experience, frequent save versus con to maintain lunch. A storm is brewing in the northwest, pushing legions of towering clouds southeast like an armada of warships.
After a few days out of sight of land (during which Serena is thrown overboard by a crewmember to the great amusement of the rest of the crew), Gamblers Reach can be seen.
The next day, a large caravan, 100 wagons, travelling north, is allowed to pass. The following morning, at dawn, Big Bob convenes the crew:
All hands on deck! Look lively maggots! This day, our quarry lies in a poorly defended caravan of 50 wagons filled with wonderous treasure – pelts of beaver, mink, and ermine, casks of the finest spirits, and gold, maggots, gold! And you know what happens when we raid gold! [everyone cheers]
So sharpen yer blades, and load the catapults, boys! 100 gold bonus for all who live through this day! [roaring cheers, and everyone leaps into action]
As they approach, the high rocks of Gamblers Reach can be seen, with the craggy Ozgarns rising up like a wall behind them. The late-morning sun glints off the beach-side surf, but the beach itself, and the caravan, are shadowed by the rocks.
The crew will preload the ship's four catapults with wheelbarrows of rocks from below deck ranging from 2"-8". They'll also sharpen their swords, prepare the rowboats, and slurp some rum as the attack grows near.
The caravan will of course see the ship coming, and do their best to take cover. Monteblaine will silently gaze towards his target, occasionally muttering commands to assistants.
The catapults are fired just after the rowboats depart, ripping apart wagons and killing and injuring horses and some men whose cover was inadequate. After two volleys from each catapult, the caravan is quite immobilized, at which time the rowboats are nearly to shore. Then comes the storming of the beach, with howling pirates running from rock to rock avoiding arrows from the remaining caravan defenders.
Losses on the pirates' side will be moderate, while the caravan guards will be decimated. Cargo will be loaded back to the ship, wagons and bodies stacked and burned, horses butchered, salted, and stored as meat.
========================== session 3 ================
For various adventures in the stinking city of Saint Norbert, 500 xps each.
For a successful overland trek and meeting with the Duke in Luxor, 500 xps each.
For butchering the owlbears, 850 xps each.
For successful integration in the caravan, 500 xps each.
For a nicely executed theft of a pirate vessel, 2000 xps each.
For butchery on the deck of the Marauder, the half-orc gets 1 xp bonus.
For his role in strategy formation, Tracy gets 2 xps bonuses.
For his roleplaying and spellcasting, the new wizard gets 1 xp bonus.
For his prowess at the helm of the Marauder, James gets 1 xp bonus.
Well alrighty then, the party managed to STEAL the pirate ship last time. Their intention now is to go ashore and assassinate Big Bob (why I'm not sure). They've met Monteblaine, who has accepted James as the new captain of the vessel, and they've heard about DoomIron, and about the inlet north of Lowenport where goods are traded with men in brown robes.
Big Bob rallied the crew to try to take the ship back, but James & co managed to get the sails up and turned about. The rowboats went back ashore, and the crew (upon seeing the Marauder has turned about again and is heading towards them) have scrambled up the 200' boulder-strewn bluff into the pines.
Big Bob's plan is to fashion masts, rudders, and sails (from caravan materials and garments of the dead) for the remaining 10 boats, and sail south to get a new ship with which to re-take the Marauder.
Two pirates have been ordered to remain in the rocks above the caravan wreckage, watching for threats & opportunities.
Up in the pines, they've encountered a tribe of orcs with whom they've worked before, overseen by four brown brothers. So this night, they'll feast on elk & bear flesh and spirits salvaged from the caravan. A giant fat orc named Junta is the 'chef' for the 35 orcs and 90 pirates, with a huge bonfire, flickers of which can even be seen from the ship.
During the feast, Big Bob and Faruq Faqir will consult with the Brown Brothers, expressing their outrage.
========= next session -==============================
The party has assassinated the boat guards and are approaching the caravan guards after midnight.
It's slow going across the rocks and tidal pools in the dark, but they can get within 40' or so easily, whereupon the nearby (but in the darkness) 20 horses will smell them and one will whinny. (If investigated, all party horses except the ranger's are here (he's 300 yards down the coast, keeping an eye on the ship)).
Six pirates are here, around a flickering campfire made from a demolished wagon. They've made beds of rolls of wollen fabric, and three are lying down. The other three are still up, drinking brandy and telling jokes. A pile of long and shortswords and handaxes are nearby (collected from the dead).
One is Antonio DeGorma, a5th-level fighter with a chain shirt, gloves of thievery, and (specialized) cutlass(SHORTSWORD) OF QUICKNESS +2 (ALWAYS GETS INITIATIVE). AC: 17 HIT: +8 (counts everything) HP: 45 D: d6+4 AT: 3/2. He loves fighting and will taunt throughout like Antonio Banderas. He'll send one of the others up the hill shortly after start of combat. The others are low morale 2nd level fighters. (AC: 10, HP 18, D: d6)
If one of them slips away, he'll get a safe distance and then start hollering "INTRUDERS, THEY ATTACK US! THE BEACH, ASSASSINS!"
This will let loose an avalanche of orcs down the hill, who are much betetr on the rocks than the pirates, who won't be far behind.
Otherwise, the revelry on the bluffs and the crash of the surf will mask the sounds of combat below.
Other caravan goods: chests of gold pieces, hard cheeses, barrels, sacks of grain, hard salamis, woolen fabrics, salted fish, brandy and rum, mink and other fine furs. A document indicating the merchant acting as distributor for these goods – Brenden LeMonde of Argyle. (He is innocent of wrongdoing, but is aware that The Org has been reasonably reliable at selling him Northern goods for distribution – more reliable than the northern merchants themselves.)
If the party manages to accompany the brothers, they will travel overland through the Dark Hills, mazes of crumbling black volcanic rocks not far from Khazga's homeland, and encounter:
- 3 hill giants, who will be told their service is appreciated
an angry wearboar – which is immune to non-magical/non-silver weapons, so the monks are unable to attack it effectively. % chance to contract lycanthropy is 1/hp damage.
Some quotes from the brothers:
Xenu filled the world with demons... A recent secondary engram is a restimulation of clusters with earlier mutual incidents. The body as perceived by a thetan is transparent. ...Purification programs... The orcs seem restless – we will need to bring them more sacrifices. (human females) If asked about destination, the brothers will say, "enlightenment, the next step on the bridge." Actual destination is Argyle, for a "session" with Grand Commodore Odwalla Nazarene. This will be a gathering of thousands, and the Commodore will spew all sorts of weird cosmic gibberish about becoming Clear, and crossing the bridge, the power of choice, self-determinism, have you lived before this life, is this life yours, relief from the hostilities and frustrations of life, excorcism, and the demons in all of us...(all culminating in large donations by the masses) ELSE: If the party returns with the Big Bob, another week at sea, and they'll pull in to a narrow inlet just north of Lowen Bay. A camp is set up here, filled with a few dozen Brothers, ready to load cargo into covered wagons and negotiate payment to the pirates. The pirates will also load up more 'doom iron', long range incendiary metal catapult missiles.
Prior to getting too close to the Org, the party will be interviewed by a Brother secretly wearing a Medallion of ESP, and subsequently attacked (attempted capture).
NEXT SESSION – IN ARGYLE
xps: 1000 xps each for roleplaying and general adventuring success
assassin – 2 xps bonuses for wandering within the camps of Big Bob and the orcs and emerging alive and well.
Assassin – 1 xp bonus for using your charm and wit and leadership with your crew and local beaurocrats of Argyle.
Ranger and half-orc: 3000 xps each for hillgiant slaying
assassin – 2000 xps (plus one bonus) for assassinating the kindly old wizard
mage – 1 xp bonus for runing 'interference' for the assassin.
Party is in line waiting for the show.
Grand Commodore Odwalla Nazarene is wearing a military-like uniform with tight-fitting pants, high black boots, and a ceremonial jacket with tails. He holds a 3' ornate silver rod, and wears large thick spectacles which make his eyes look like huge black orbs.
He will begin his presentation with a loud voice that carries over the silent crowd:
My Children of the Universe, whom I shall lead across the bridge to Clarity for the next thousand thousand thousand years, you who acknowledge the demons within you, you who strive to become Clear, you who recognize your self-determined fate, you beings of this universe everlasting, welcome. [cheers] Today, I come before you to acquire your allegiance. To become Clear, to banish the demons, to determine your fate, to master your weaknesses, to mend what is broken within you, to salvage your reality from Darkness, to leave the path of lies and follow the path of truth, you must obey me. You will obey me. [stunned silence] [then, gesturing to a few hundred right in front of him]
You here, move out to the sides, allow the thetans behind you to come before Me.
[with perfect obedience, the crowd begins cycling in silence as He looks each person over carefully (hence meeting their gaze). Rod: int 15 gets save vs spells. Eyes: all get -2 save]
Do you want to oriented in the present time in the universe? Do you want to know you can become better? Do you want to recognize the source of your problems – and make them VANISH? Do you want to release yourself from the suffering and hostilities of life?
[ gradually people are murmering, then saying, then shouting YES!]
Are you striving for personal revival? Do you want to be freed of the chains, the slavery of material existence? Do you know the ORG is the way? And that I am your MASTER?
[yes yes yes!!! ]
The Brown Brothers [ who are moving throughout the crowd] are my tools, are my hands, are my eyes among you. Trust them as you trust me. Obey them as you obey me. Pay your tithes to them as you pay your tithes to me. Cast out infidel defilers, bringers of darkness, before they devour your will and cast you off the bridge to Clarity.
Go now, My Children, master your reality, purge your spirit of demons, and spread the word of -- the Org!
[ cheeeers ]
At this point the Brothers will begin herding people like cows, organizing people into groups, giving them group numbers, giving addresses and dates for future meetings, and collecting money.
Party might go to a group, or might go to Lowenport (Shark Bait Cove).
Deep in Thornwood, some of the Brown Brothers are helping to organize and train a small army of Formorian Giants, Broken Ones, Ogres, and Mongrelmen.
The influence of the Org has spread to Serenton and is starting to show up in Camlin and Cormire. The king in Camlin is nervous about their rate of growth and has some 'spies' within.
============ NEXT SESSION =======================
only: Halforc, ranger, and mage:
All: 1000xps for general adventuringsuccess
1000 xps each for averting disaster in the grand hotel.
1000 xps each for delivering word to Brenden LeMonde of Argyle.
2000xps to Kazka for beating Antonio DeGorma, the pirate with the black bandana.
4k each for the defeat of the brown brothers.
300 each for defeat of the orcs
The party is at the northrn edges of gamblers reach on a rainy fall day. The southern reaches of drannor look like home, and the trees are just begiining to change color.
A days ride from st germaine, Come up behiond a family and their wagon. A brown brother accompanies them. The Leathermans romanticize Drannor, the wintery wilderness, the great plains of nimlith, the frozen fogbound cliffs to the north. Saddled with debt, Garn and Nedaya jumped at the chance to work for the Org in St Germaine.
Brown brother Niles' task is to convince the family to willingly give up their beautiful golden-haired daughter in return for a sizable loan and traveling expenses to Drannor. Brother niles has convinced the parents. Ordelia herself, though, is not so sure.
She's a strong hearted lass, clear eyed and athletic, with some talent throwing daggers.
Niles has instructions to 'seal the deal' prior to arriving in the city.
If he can leave, he is headed into the ozgarns (with the girl), or onwards to his masters setting up in st germaine.
THE ORG IN ST GERMAINE
they're renting barns, making soup kitchens in the poorest parts of town.
A rumor in the slums: a local thief tried to steal from these brown monks, and they beat him so badly he'll never get out of bed again!
A rumor in the nicer bars: the org brother have bene seen in the merchants district, in the streets where the deals are done.
The Duke of St germaine recently received a huge crate of gifts from the org delegation: an incredible slightly glowing golden silken robe wth ornate black velvet trim, 400 yr old wines, and an intricate wooden mirror frame carved by elves depicting a zillion vines, leaves, flowers, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and snakes. He'll make a big display of his new luxuries, and mention the Org early in the conversation. He knows nothing of their politics and does not care (he's thoroughly corrupt). He simply will not believe they're a threat.
Capt Crunchy, Monteblaine, and a ragtag skeleton crew of 30 witless meatheads docked in St Germaine to re-supply, and then left for St Cuthbert the following day, hoping to find Jack Truden's 'company' to establish a trade route (and a catapult academy!).
BIG BOB AND COMPANY:
Big Bob and his men arrived in St Germaine only to discover that the Marauder had just left en route to St Cuthbert to meet with an new aristocrat-merchant to establish a trade route with the south! While only his core followers have been retained, he currently gallops north with 20 men to reclaim his vessel.
The gray weather continues. The leaves are changing here.
They'll find bandits, the ones they saw flee through the forest weeks ago, now unconcious, dehydrated, cold, beaten up so badly they can't walk and have been out cold for 36 hours.
Thornton, Valter, and Derby are run-of-the-mill bandits who made the mistake of attacking 4 brown brothers en route to Luxor. They rode a covered wagon with 2 horses, and at a lunch stop, the bandits were able to see crates in the back including a luxury perfume (from the East) they know to be extremely expensive – in the thousands of gps per small bottle. So, they could not resist.
The Duke has heard nothing. The Org has not been sighted here, but the assistant deputy lord of official correspondence reports that he has a meeting the following day with a pilgrim requesting a permit to establish a religous center.
The Org has recent;y arrived and set up shop in a modest apartment where they've begun to befriend their neighbors.Fancy gifts are stacked up in the apartment.
A rumor: in the high country southeast of Ravenwood, a man with a shaved head and brown robes is healing the sick, the lame, the blind. (true: he's a guest of a non-org monastery Mirror Lake now..)
WHY DOES THE ORG NEED THE COOPERATION OF ALL THESE ORCS?
In the short term, help with raids and other smaller dirty work.
Longer term, accumlatng their allegiance with money, weapons, training, and flesh for a future war aginst any who try to stpo them.
The Grand Commodore will not be content to merely control trade – he wants to eventually declare himself emperor of all of Kara-Tur (Drannor + Durkin).
Orc tribes: Slaka is the chief of the Handhackers.
========== next session ==================
All: 1000 xps for saving young Ordelia Leatherman and her family from the clutches of the Org.
All: 2000xps for successfully reporting back to the dukes of St Germaine and Luxor.
All: 2000 xps for infiltrating the Org's advance recruiting mission.
Assassin: 1000 xps for a successful (if ill-advised) assassination of a Brown Brother.
After days of travel in a light cold rain, the weather gets clear and cold – 20s at night, high 40s day, frost every morning.
The lower slopes of the Ozgarns are dotted with tiny hamlets and sheep farms
The tiny village of Laufen in the foothills is pristine, all the trees are in full color, the houses are all snow white with bright blue shutters and high-pitched roofs. They know of no problems, or monks, or orcs, but might express concern for old man Bergen who recently left for the sheep farms of the highlands...
an old merchant from a town in the foothills is coming back down the rutted wagon trail with his team of 2 donkeys and a wagon full of grains, spices, and tools intended for the people of highlands. Old man Bergen says the first three family farms – the Dresdens, the Binghams, the Torrances – hastily abandoned. That's when he turned around, despite not having collected his monthly load of sheep milk cheeses, afraid for his life and livlihood (since he'll have no cheese to sell!)
Ater raids in the highlands, word got out and the people of the area have congregated in the ancient monastery at Mirror Lake, home to the Brotherhood of the Rose, a lawful good sect of monk and cleric scholars who study mathematics and science, believing that knowledge is the key to enlightenment. They're creating a thermometer and barometer, woo hoo!
The monastery is at 'the end of the road' – only footpaths ascend the rocky crags of the Ozgarns beyond this point. Mirror Lake is a mile-long oval of perfection, shielded from the prevailing winds to often be crystal clear, aquamarine, glass-smooth, populated by hardy mountain fish, and providing a dramatic reflection of the snowcapped peaks of the upper elevations. Snowbanks in the shade everywhere, all conifers.
Brother Cameron will show that the monastery has eight interior buildings (two bunkhouses, warehouse, library, kitchen/messhall, stables, chapel, brewery), and 10' thick 20' granite walls. Recent snow has been shovelled into large mounds. Three hundred local people are within, in addition to 50 monks and clerics. Elk roast on newly constructed spits. The monks are doing a good job at keeping people occupied with reading and math lessons, but are privately concerned that their considerably foodstores will not last the winter, especially if other families move in.
The orcs launched a single assault with 50 warriors a month ago, were easily repelled by the sling and bow-wielding monks on the walls, and since turned to raid the lower farms in packs of 10 for plunder – and human females, of which it is estimated five have been carried into the mountains, according to families of the abducted. Apparently they carry large neck rings that they hammer tightly around their victims' necks and drag them away on a leash. (All five are alive in the orc camp but will be devoured eventually).
These 80 orcs have been sent from a much larger force deeper in the Ozgarns currently receiving training and forging weapons with the help of the Org.