What Do I Know About My Campaign? Tales From the Old Margreve Campaign Journal #10

 

Goodness, we’re already closing in on another session of my Tales of the Old Margreve game, and as such, I should probably look towards getting my most recent summary of our last session written up. If you happen to be following these and have any questions, please let me know. I would be happy to talk about these summaries in more detail.If you want to check in on the previous installments, you can click on this link for the previous entries:

 

Tales of the Old Margreve Campaign Journals

First, We Prep

The bare minimum I’m doing for the next adventure is to read through the adventure again, and write out an outline that summarizes the progression of events so that I don’t have to flip through the book as often. There is a relatively small dungeon this time around, but unlike the hive from The Honey Queen, this one has multiple levels, so I’m not going to summarize the dungeon in my notes.

I am, however, going to write down the key in my notes to what room connects to what other room on the other floors, because I know from experience that sometimes I lose track of what stairs go where, and just seeing stairs on a map can be confusing when it comes to exactly where those stairs come out.

Unlike a few of the other adventures, when I look through the monsters in this one, I don’t have any that impetus to swap them around. Normally, I look for more “Midgard” versions of standard monsters of the same CR, but this time around, where there aren’t suitable “Midgard” monsters to swap out, the monster in question makes sense for the encounter.

Since I’m used to how I have been tracking initiative, I do draw some grids for initiative tracking in my RocketBook so they are ready to go before the session starts. I doubt that I will use all of them in one night, but I draw about six grids, just to be safe.

The beginning of this adventure, unlike some of the others, states a specific time of year where the adventure begins, noting that the adventure starts in early Spring. While it’s going to make for a lot of downtime, it doesn’t feel too far “off” to have the PCs inactive from the middle of Fall to early Spring, but it does mean I want to do two things. I want to make sure to note all of the holidays that come in between that time, to help with the progression of the year, and I want to advance some campaign developments that exist outside of the loose structure of the adventure anthology.

In general terms, we need to address the following:

  • Chairo, the girl with part of the Margreve’s magic within her, and the fact that Baba Yaga is interested in her
  • The other children in town that are on the older end of the scale, and how they relate to the player characters as guardians and mentors
  • Gurralt’s relationship with Elsee and Obiah
  • Any fallout from Scarlett’s dealings with Baba Yaga
  • The fallout from Gahl’s failure to be the “Champion of Civilization” for the Moonlit King

I want to make sure to keep the archfey involved, but I don’t think we really need more Bear King intervention quite yet. He seems content to put something in motion and sit back for a while.

Downtime

Gahl’s player can make this session, and I already decided the Moonlit King was going to have a talk to him. Thankfully, having a talk with an archfey means it’s really easy to fudge with time and have Gahl reappear whenever his player is free again, so that works into what I was already thinking about the two of them having a chat.

Because Isobel and Hrothgardt are especially protective of children, I thought we should try to see where Scarlett’s head was at regarding delivering Chairo to Baba Yaga. I also didn’t want to put her in tootight a spot. I knew having Baba Yaga as a patron might be tricky in this adventure, but the other PCs also made characters that are super protective of children, so this came to a head a little faster than I anticipated.Scarlett is grateful to Baba Yaga for training her, and taking her in when undead killed her family, but she is worried about what Baba Yaga has planned for Chairo. Since she is already concerned about how this will go, I give her a partial out–Berchta, the archfey of fate and protector of mothers and children, shows up with an offer to yank the piece of Baba Yaga’s soul out of Chairo, so that Berchta can use it to bargain with Baba Yaga.

There is a lot of discussion, and Scarlett doesn’t want her companions to be upset with her, so she brings in the bears for the negotiation. There is a bit of back and forth, but eventually, Berchta decides she can use her own agent in the Margreve, and offers to trade the soul fragment back to Baba Yaga in exchange for a change of patronage for Scarlett, and freedom for Chairo. Berchta becomes Scarlett’s patron, and Chairo is safe. I’m sure Baba Yaga won’t come up any more in these adventures and Scarlett won’t have to deal with any fallout from this chain of events.

I also asked Gurralt’s player if he was thinking of having a family with Elsee, given their romantic connection. He said yes, so we decided Elsee has a cub on the way, and they have an informal marriage. Hrothgardt slaps Gurralt with a fish during the ceremony, and since the people of Levoca see the bearfolk as their own protective nature spirits, fish slapping is now a part of wedding ceremonies in the town.

I determined that since much of the downtime takes place in winter, we would add extra time to any downtime activity where the PCs would normally rely on Hugo or Shandor, since they wouldn’t be traveling in the snow. Hrothgardt, Isobel, and Scarlett tacked on some extra downtime days and traveled to Zobeck to do some pit fighting, gambling, and to hire a Collegium wizard to make a magic item (Scarlett picked up an implement for her spellcasting).

This gave me the excuse to use the Silk Scabbard again, and Hrothgardt had to learn about the other part of the business beyond the fighting and gambling. Hrothgardt is more worldly now.

Hrothgardt also learned how to brew, and spent a good amount of time making mead. He mentioned that he wouldn’t mind if someone had heard of his new brewing ability and might be interested in him, so we may soon have our second bearfolk settling down.

Gurralt also traveled to Pilzfanger to retrieve Obiah, who was wandering the trails in the Margreve, which is both natural for bearfolk cubs, and kind of dangerous. Obiah was spending time with Svetla, the mutated wise woman in town, and ran into Yidji, the former Void Cultist, out in the woods. I identified a few of the children in town that are older, and asked of the PCs wanted to take them on as apprentices. I let them use the “training time” rules in the downtime rules in the DMG to train them using the Sidekick rules, and now Chairo and Rhosyn are both spellcasters, and Obiah and Karda are warriors. Since time is progressing in the campaign at a good rate, I pointed out that if anyone dies in an adventure, it would be easy to “graduate” one of the apprentice children to a full PC, but no one wanted to put them in danger at the moment by having them adventure yet.

The Griffon Hatching Heist

We spent a lot of the session on downtime, but we also had a lot of campaign-specific developments to deal with. Eventually, though, it was time to start the next adventure in the anthology.

The PCs had a lot of fun dealing with the talking cat that was a griffon, and I had fun interjecting fully feline behaviors into the discourse. Because there were eggs (i.e. children) involved, the PCs didn’t take much prompting to accept the job, but the griffon/cat still offered the PCs whatever treasure the bandits leave behind once everything is cleared out.

The griffon/cat tells them there was a sorcerer present, but he left for Zobeck, and that there are “some bandits” at the tower, but she knows a secret way in. She also tells them it is very, very important not to let the griffons imprint on them. Isobel immediately wants one of them to imprint on her, because baby griffons.

Using the handy shadow roads to get the PCs from Levoca to over by the ruined town near the Great Northern Road, when the PCs and the griffon/cat left the shadow road, I had her point out that there is an “army” of bugbears outside of the town, which they pointed out is more than “some bandits.” She then excuses herself to find a fey friend of hers that can remove her curse (I just used the term curse from the start, since I think polymorph is leftover terminology from the Pathfinder version of the adventure, and the PCs pointed out that “too bad it’s not just a polymorph, or else we could just hit you really hard until you turn back.”).

On the way to the secret back entrance to the tower, the group ran into a Firegeist, which I rolled from one of the Margreve encounter tables. I wanted to take a moment to say that I really appreciate that the encounter tables often give a motivation or at least something that the creatures encountered are doing. In this case, the Firegeist is setting fire to the Margreve, and the PCs taking time to stop it let them pick up some extra Status with the Forest.

The group made it to the pond behind the tower, where they fought the Razorleaf guardian, then went for a swim under the tower, and came up through the well, inside the tower.

In general, I had fun running both the Firegeist and the Razorleaf. Some of the converted monsters IN the adventures don’t always feel quite as tuned in to their CR, but the Kobold Press monsters in general usually have a lot of fun widgets to play with.

Inside the well room felt like a good place to stop for the night. If Gahl’s player can make next session, it will be easy enough to have the Moonlit King drop him off in the middle of the action.

Takeaways

  1. Downtime is still a great story driver
  2. With more downtime, I’ve been asking for a single roll multiplied over a wider range of days, to reduce tedium from multiple rolls
  3. I’m really glad the PCs are putting down roots
  4. Having the archfey patrons gives me a lot of tools to deal with potential plot elements in the game
  5. I need to keep an eye open for the occasional Pathfinder artifact that might cause a slight hiccup in how the story plays out. Some of the DCs in the last adventure seemed higher than 5e standard (but not at any critical chokepoint), and polymorph differences came up in this one

Let me know if you have any questions about how the campaign is going, the adventures, or anything I may have mentioned in the campaign summaries. Thanks for your time, and we’ll see you next time in the Margreve!

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