It’s been a good long time since I ran a game, and I’ve been staring at the Kindgoms of Kalamar campaign setting book for a long while with the overwhelming urge to play it. So finally, last night, I managed to get my chance. Despite the weather and lack of air conditioning, I think everybody had a good time, even though we were converting half the group from third and fourth edition to AD&D again.
There were seven of us, with an eighth promised for the next session. I do not have the exact particulars of the party at the moment as the character sheets have all gone home with the players for final touchups, but in broad strokes, the party consists of Tam, a half-elf mage who makes excellent use of a charm person spell; a dwarven fighter; Bedowyr, a Brandobian Paladin of the Eternal Lantern; not one, but TWO priests of The Mule, one LE and one LN which made for some fascinating debates on opposing philosophies and tactics; a gnomish thief/”cleric” of Beer (not The Bear, but the divine Beer the beverage); and finally a human fighter of indeterminate background and skills yet.
Having heard that an alliance of the Halls of the Valiant and the Assembly of Light, with some support from other sympathetic churches/deities, have taken it upon themselves to build a new stronghold in the heartland of Kalamar, rife with banditry and on the brink of anarchy, has put out a call for help in the form of soldiers, priests, and “freelance explorers and mercenaries,” our group of heroes has decided to investigate the call and determine the nature of the work being offered.
About an hour after midday, approaching the outskirts of a tiny village named Arun’Kid, the travelers discover three bodies on the ground, and the remnants of wagons that have suffered some fire damage. There are broken arrows littering the ground all around. Quick investigation revealed that two of the bodies, an older man and woman, were corpses, while a third, younger, body of a young woman had survived, barely. A bit of magical healing from the paladin stopped the bleeding and saved the girl’s life, but it seems the two clerics were hesitant to utilize their own divine powers to restore her to consciousness.
Deciding that the best thing for it was to toss the girl over a shoulder like a sack of rice and drag the other two bodies into town, the party did just that, tramping into town with three bodies in tow. They immediately took note of the temple of the Bear and how, despite the remaining winter seer of the surrounding countryside, it bloomed as if in high summer, but decided instead to take the girl to the local tavern.
Tuveri arrived and introduced himself as the de facto leader of the village until a new elder was to be decided upon and demanded to know what had happened. A long conversation sorted out the details and assured the townsfolk present that the group was not, in fact, bandits but genuinely interested in providing help to a misfortunate individual. After about ten minutes of this, a scream was heard from outside. After pausing for a minute or two to ponder the nature, gender, age, and possible comeliness of the scream, the party rushed to the door to investigate and saw a woman being dragged away by three small figures towards the edge of town. With a thunderous challenge, the paladin, LN cleric, and dwarf fighter charged in to stop the obvious abduction. Just before they reached the scene, though, a brilliant spray of color shot out of the high grass to their flank and washed over them, to no effect.
Tam the half-elf mage made good use of a charm person spell that lured away one of the three kidnappers to him to make friends. In the next instant, four more of the figures, which the trailing thief was able to identify as gnomes, burst out of the grass and attacked the cleric and paladin with padded clubs in an attempt to take them hostage. Matters did not end well for them and they were swiftly slain by the combined forces of the party, who left them to bleed out in the dust. A moment later, all three of the melee combatants collapsed into the dust like limp rag dolls, but were swiftly kicked awake by an irate gnome thief. A quick census of the town revealed that there were a total of 5 missing persons, two children, two young wives, and an older woman, whom the party had witnessed being dragged away.
A quick search of the bodies revealed only leather armor, clubs, and short swords on the bodies. No coin or other belongings. It was apparent that wherever they had come from, it was close by for they could not have gotten far with no supplies. Though none of the party could track an elephant through a snow field if their lives depended upon it, a helpful hunter was able to point out that a few sets of tracks seemed to lead off to the north, and it looks as if they were dragging heavy things between them as they went. Before pursuing, though, the group decided that it would be a good idea to interrogate the newly friendly gnome who was, even now, enjoying drinks in the tavern while the LE cleric expounded upon the dangers of allowing too large a population of free gnomes at liberty within the village.
The young gnome, who had tagged along on this mission in the first place for a bit of excitement, was resistant to provide information to the paladin, who after all was not his friend like the mage was, was persuaded by intimation of imminent violence upon his person to reveal that the gnomes of clan Barleton had been chasing a villain named Ver’Kusi, previously known as Ovini, to this town for over 40 years after the man had stolen the entirety of the gnomish treasury and made off with it in the night. The leader of the group sent to extradite the thief and return him to justice, Barston, felt that it was important that, being short, the gnomes negotiate from a position of strength and so set about kidnapping a group of hostages to use as leverage against the village. Originally, the intent was to take 6 captives, but that had not worked out properly, and . . . oh, it’s too bad you let my friend bleed to death in the dirt . . .
A few more threats of horrific violence and a vow of non-violence except in self defense later and the party was led directly to the gnome camp which was north of the road a few miles east in order to conduct negotiations for the safe return of all the hostages. Tempers frayed, shouting matches were engaged in, and threats of violence were made, but in the end, the gnomes managed to delivery their demands (1. The return of Ver’Kusi to their custody for justice, 2. The return of the treasury) and vowed, in return, that the hostages would be kept safe and whole.
The party returned to the village to deliver the demands, and had decided, though they despised the gnomes’ methods, that this man should indeed be brought to justice. They were surprised to learn that Ver’Kusi had been dead for six full months now.