After much prepping and stressing and chasing down players, my Kingmaker campaign has begun! Since the first thing every good campaign needs is some characters, let’s meet the merry band of participants who’ll be following local noble Andrik Nesti into the Stolen Lands:
- Mira Donato, neutral good half-elf cleric of Desna. Mira’s a rough-and-tumble former brigand who found religion after realizing a life of banditry wasn’t what she wanted, joining the expedition to the Stolen Lands because her mentor encouraged her to find her own adventure instead of living his.
- Elena Ferraro, neutral good aasimar (musetouched) bard. Elena’s a bookish type who has big dreams of joining the Cavalier’s Order of the Dragon. She’ll be working towards Battle Herald, and joined the expedition because Nesti thought it would bring the favour of Celestial beings.
- Djedefre, neutral serpentine-blooded dhampir sorcerer who’s travelled all the way from Katapesh. Djedefre has a silver tongue and charming personality, and the magic to back him up when they’re not enough. He joined the expedition because his town found out about his vampiric heritage, and a sympathetic guard captain would have rather seen him forge a name for himself than end up lynched.
- Banith, neutral good elf ranger. Banith has a burning hatred of dragons, due to an attempted diplomatic encounter with one that went awry years ago. He’s an expert marksman, and knows how to survive in the wilderness far better than any of these city-dwellers.
- Jo, lawful neutral human tetori monk. Jo is an atheist, believing the gods unworthy of his worship, and seeks to perfect himself through his own work. He follows the Way of the Open Palm, seeking to subdue his foes peacefully, offering them a second chance to regret their actions, and is joining the expedition as an undesirable type the guard wants to be rid of.
- Eddard Calderon, neutral good human fighter. Eddard’s a smith by trade, with a strong interest in Dwarven culture and architecture. Amusingly, he also has the highest Intelligence score out of the group.
The party met in a drawing room in the hall of Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius, arriving one by one. Elena was first to arrive, whereupon she thanked the staff for their hospitality and busied herself with a history book.
Mira was next to enter, introducing herself to the stranger – as an aasimar, Elena is blond, and therefore stands out a bit in a nation where the main ethnicity is Taldan. Elena immediately responded, “Oh, I already know who you are,” as she’s seen Mira in several of the local taverns, and often wished she could be as strong and carefree as her.
“… you do?”
“Yes. I’ve… seen you around.”
“… was I drunk?”
“You were sometimes.”
Thankfully, Mira was saved from having to explain why she drew her weapon on a total stranger by the arrival of Djedefre, who immediately made himself at home on a sofa and refused to take off his hat, citing a skin condition.
After a few more minutes of awkwardness, the door to Sellemius’ office opened, and the three PCs were introduced to Maegar Varn, who greeted them all with a warm smile. He was confused upon learning the PCs had no idea why they were there, and tried to explain what was going on as best he could – he was able to tell the PCs about the other groups, repeating this information to the others – Banith, Jo, and Eddard, who arrived one by one.
Jo was able to explain that he had been called here as an “undesirable”, and assumed the others were as well, to which Djedefre quipped, “Oh, I’m very desirable”. Before the conversation could collapse into immaturity, a member of staff informed the group of misfits that Lord-Mayor Ioseph Sellemius was ready to see them.
The Lord-Mayor explained to the group what the River Kingdoms were – a hostile place, constantly shifting in power, with various territories ruled by whichever bandit was calling himself “king” that week. The task the PCs faced, he explained, was to fix the bandit problem in the area called the Stolen Lands, specifically the Greenbelt, and to explore and chart as much of that region as possible. They would be accompanied by Andrik Nesti, a man who claimed a tangential relation to House Lebeda, and who was hoping to become a fully-recognized member of the noble house.
This done, the party retreated to a local tavern – spare Mira, who wandered off to find her mentor, Gus, an aging cleric of Desna. She asked him why she’d been chosen for this expedition – he explained that he’d initially been asked, but that he felt he was too old for such a dangerous journey. Mira, however, was younger, more able-bodied, and had already shown great understanding of divine magic and the teachings of Desna – not to mention, she knew how to think like a bandit, and was thus uniquely suited to the task. Mira accepted this, thanked Gus for the opportunity, and spent a while star-gazing with him before heading to the tavern.
Meanwhile, at the tavern, Jo had picked out the most rowdy table – a group of men gambling with cards – and positioned himself nearby, keeping an eye out for trouble. Banith took advantage of his free drinks, getting absolutely hammered and attaching himself to a bard, singing along with his lute – rolling very badly on an untrained perform check, and noticing that the bard was rather annoyed but seemingly too polite to say anything. Noticing this, he dragged Eddard in to sing as well, who reluctantly agreed, singing only slightly better than Banith.
Djedefre looked around for the most physically-attractive person in the room, who turned out to be a young man playing a dice game with some friends at another table. He slipped into the game, buying drinks for the gamblers, and failing an intelligence check to pick up the rules of the game (but rolling a good bluff check to act like he knew what he was doing).
Elena sat alone at the bar, nursing a drink and watching the general revelry.
Just as Mira was approaching the tavern, a man stumbled from the bar, spilling his drinks over the card-players. He immediately accused Banith of tripping him, getting into a rather heated argument with the ranger, who was too drunk to realize he’d tripped the man, even accidentally. In an attempt to apologize, however, the drink caught up with him, and he vomited on the man’s feet.
The man threw a punch at Banith, just as one of the card-players took a swing at him (which unfortunately missed and hit the poor bard). The brawl erupted suddenly. Djedefre found the dice-table flipped – he quickly picked up his coins, and retreated to the stairs to watch.
Banith kept attempting to apologize to the man he’d tripped, but a punch to the guts left him vomiting again. The guy grabbed him by the shirt-front, grabbing at Eddard with his other hand when he attempted to intervene. With some quick manoeuvring, Eddard grabbed the man instead, pinning his arms behind his back. Banith took the opportunity to grab the sash off of the poor, suffering bard, using it to clean his vomit off the man’s face, and unceremoniously puking on the floor again.
A young man jumped the bar, grabbing at the change the barkeep kept there, and made a break for the door. Two more grabbed him along the way, taking him to the ground, but stealing the coin and attempting to run for it themselves. At this point, Mira walked in, standing in the doorway, and managed to block their retreat with her shield. Elena, stunned ‘til now, grabbed a bar stool and clocked one of them across the face, dropping him.
From across the room, an empty beer mug came hurtling towards Eddard, when Jo leapt in front of the missile, knocking it away with his Deflect Arrows feat. The man who’d thrown it ducked behind a table. At this point, Eddard managed to choke the man he was holding into unconsciousness, leaving him to lie in the foul puddle on the floor – but making sure to roll him onto his side so he didn’t choke.
In the commotion, Mira felt a sharp tap on her shoulder, and was ordered to move aside, by order of the watch. She attempted to bull-rush the thief in front of her out of the way, but failed, and ended up falling on top of him, pinning him with her shield.
The watch managed to break up the brawl easily, issuing several stern warnings and taking the thieves away for questioning. The sergeant-at-arms stayed behind, having noticed Djedefre was involved, lamenting his involvement. Djedefre promised he’d been trying to stay out of it. The sergeant – Bartolomeo – also complimented Elena on her quick thinking and resourcefulness – Elena noticed the crest of the Cavalier’s Order of the Dragon on his shoulder, and immediately asked if he’d read her application letters.
“Ah, so that’s you is it? Yes, I’ve read all fifteen of them. You’re certainly eager.”
“Sixteen,” Elena corrected, blushing. “You haven’t gotten the last one yet.”
At this, Bartolomeo mentioned that there was a kobold problem in the Stolen Lands, and that if she could take care of it – through bloodshed or peace – he’d see what he could do about accepting her into the order. Elena eagerly agreed.
At this, the party disbanded for the night – Bartolomeo made sure Banith got to a different inn safely, due to his highly inebriated condition.
The next morning, the party met up with Andrik Nesti, who they immediately despised due to the fact that he was on horseback, yet hadn’t provided mounts for the rest of them. Mira managed to convince him to leave the horse behind, unless he was going to give everyone a mount, as it made him a target to the bandits they knew were about. After much arguing, he eventually agreed, and the party set off for Oleg’s Outpost on foot.
The journey took them just under a week. Upon reaching the outpost, they were greeted by the surly Oleg Leveton, who immediately took a dislike to Andrik, the “stuffed-shirt noble type”, choosing to instead direct his questions at the party, much to their employer’s distress. He seemed glad that the guards from Restov had finally arrived – this was a source of confusion to the party, who had heard of no such thing.
Distressed, Oleg called for his wife, Svetlana, who explained the situation – that bandits had been arriving on the first day of every month, taking their trade goods, and threatening violence and arson if they didn’t comply. She mentioned their leaders – a cloaked man with a bow, and a woman with two axes. She also pointed out that the woman hadn’t come back after their first visit, leaving the cloaked man leading an ever-diminishing number of bandits.
The group decided to spend the night preparing, while Andrik stormed inside in a huff. Mira borrowed some javelins from Oleg’s stores, and the men of the party dug crude spike-pits to the sides of the outpost gates, without putting much effort into hiding them – their intention being more to force the bandits to head straight in for the gate, as opposed to riding in close to the wall where Banith and Elena wouldn’t be able to fire upon them clearly.
The night passed without event, and the party was up an hour before dawn, allowing Mira time to pray to Desna and prepare her spells. That done, they moved into position – Banith, Mira, and Elena on the palisade; Djedefre and Eddard inside the gate; and Jo outside, by the spike pits, waiting to greet the bandits.
Thus ended the first session. Next week: the ‘ambush’!