OoC: So, uh, CK hasn't so much as logged on to DDB in the last month. Are folks still interested in continuing if he does come back at some point? And if he doesn't, maybe one of us would want to take over DM duties so we can continue from here?
Okay, let's get things started right I hope. Sorry for having people wait so long.
As fortune would have it, nothing immediately untoward comes of either Mixm's or Pip's antics aside from a few startled squirrels and birds that give the duo wide berth. Eventually, the party gathers once more, and press on an even pace and course that would skirt much of the Neverwinter Wood. At least for the first day of travel, according to the directions given by Gundrun.
The eeriness Anton felt passing so close to the forest, and that Mixim can just grasp from wandering deeper inside, never fades or grows in intensity. It just ever present, and stays consistent no matter how closely one rides to the trees.
(Everyone interested can make History or Arcana check to learn more on the woods. Depending on the chosen check, you learn the following passing a DC 10. More to be furbished if passed well beyond that.)
The Neverwinter Wood, called originally the Llewyrrwood by the elves, is said to inherently possess a sense of magic within it. Or so you may have heard from a traveling scholar, wood elf, or the few woodsman 'allowed' to make use of the forest's bounty by the elves that call it home. It is a place said also to be frequented by the fey since the spellplague a hundred or so priors. Although neither fair folk or elves are actively hostile to outside presence from any conflict at the moment, as far as you can recall, it is said that likely venturing too deep into the wood will inevitable lead to an encounter.
You already know this place to be called the Neverwinter Wood, if only thanks to gundrun. What you have come to understand or recognize as familiar is the inherit magic naturally suffusing the place. While difficult to gauge its exact leaning, as often such places can be the results of ley lines, portals, or powerful beings simply living within them, you expect that it at least draws magically sensitives beings to it; chief among them being elves, fey, dragons, and more. Even normal fauna and flora is said to be enhanced by living and growing in such conditions.
Unless there is something the group wishes to do, the rest of the day is uneventful. Whether it is due to the strangeness about the woods or just happenstance for the day, the atmosphere is pleasant, and sky clear of clouds. As a precaution for the first evening, the group eventually finds a small copse of trees just a ways from the rest of the woods to start setting up camp to tie their horses to for the evening. Some of the warmth of the day carries into the night, making a need for a large fire a less prominent one aside from cooking. As you all in various ways reflect on your journey so far, you are reminded of some having chosen to remain with Sildar per his request.
While the redbrand threat had been largely taken care of thanks to the groups previous collective efforts, there new involvement with the Miner's Exchange warranted further looking into while you were all away. Gilmys does make mention of catching up if the work progresses well enough to no longer require his help.
At this point I turn things back over to the players. I will need a watch schedule if there is to be any going forward. Lokk doesn't have a preference, but will mention being used to operating during the late night hours as far as input goes.
(When it comes to checks, if it wasn't already establish, you can go ahead and roll something alternative/at advantage(or disadvantage) if you believe there's a better method ahead of time. In the face of alternatives, if not applicable I'll use the appropriate modifier. And in the former, the left most number will be taken if neither adv. or disadv. happens to apply for the check. If that makes sense?)
Pip followed behind the others on his pony. The antics of earlier eventually coming to an end. He allowed Archimedes, his owl familiar, to range about 75 feet ahead of him. Occasionally, if one was paying attention to what the small gnome was doing, you would see his eyes glaze over as he took a moment to look through the eyes of his familiar.
Familiar perception hearing and sight 17
Pip felt at home in the forest. If he saw a small bird or a squirrel he would call out to it and he might speak to it. Simple ideas only, but he was content.
Racial Trait - Speak with Small Beasts PHB, pg. 37
You can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts.
Maybe they have seen large predators nearby or other who walk on 2 legs. Or maybe they only shared how many nuts they had collected for the winter season that would eventually come.
Arcana check 25
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
DM - Tomb of Annihilation DM - Acquisitions Incorporated: Baldur's Gate DM - Dragon of Icespire Peak
It's odd. When you communicate with them in a mix of gnommish, gesture, and the odd mimic of their own chattering, it is less one-sided than what Pip might be used to anywhere else. Openly exploring that vein of thought with any beast found -- mostly squirrels and the odd idle bird -- leads more to frustration than anything else. Almost as if the critters are intentionally toying with you. Nevertheless, you learn that most of the larger predators in the woods stick the inner portions of woods, and prefer to roam around closer to the night. Nothing out of the ordinary or worrying... until they describe what sounds like owls that got so fat they forgot how to fly. And of big'ol wolves with rocks growing out of their backs.
Of two legs, they only mention pointy-eared two legs preferring to stay towards home heart. And would sometimes talk to them as well. Then there are the fat, pointy eared two feet walkers with sharp teeth that have been coming back into forest. They hide from them, and hope funny leaf wearers come back to drive the meanies away. For they always go too far. Only two of the roaming, big, furry, and pointy-eared ones seem more interested hunting the four legged owls and like creatures than any of the small critters. But small critters stay way because of wolfs might get them. They cannot specify how long its been, only that they were in the area recently. You know this could mean anywhere between a day or two, to even a week.
Aside from that, Archimedes finds nothing of personal interest or odd throughout the trip. But while 'worging', you notice that critters that spot him are not as keen immediately flee or hide as per the norm.
For Both(Pip and Mixim):
While not privy to the same abilities as one another, you both come to several conclusions from either direct communication, or simple observation and process of elimiation. The ones with the most traction tie strange atmosphere to be the result of ancient elven magic and feywild influence long settled into the very fabric of the lands. If one were particularly interested in flora with significant transmutative, enchantment, or restorative properties, the Neverwinter Woods would be one place to look. The same goes for discovering possible elven ruins, or contacting the Fair Folk deeper inside.
(Pip, I am going to need you to make a Charisma Saving Throw set for having interacted with some of the forest animals. The higher the better.)
In addition to the above, you know the circle of druids, the Ring of Swords, worked in the past to drive out hobgoblins, gnolls, and bugbears from the woods, as well as protect its ancient sites from treasure seekers. Though Gundrun did not say or perhaps even knows as much, you imagine that the druid you seek in Thundertree might have at least at one point belonged with this circle. If they are still around, this druid could PERHAPS point out a way to talk to them about dealing with the goblinoids most recently causing trouble. Beyond this, you have come across in your studies some tale of an ancient elven city-state's capital residing in the Neverwinter Woods.
While there was several mentions of trouble periods for the elves involving the woods, including a supposed attempt at re-establishing their ancestral home in the past 100 years, nothing has been substantiate by your people at least. You do however know that due in part to the elves heavy use of powerful magics back in the day, and the lands no doubt inherit compatibility with it, that strange flora and fauna are bound to be found in them. A potential opportunity for you... with that right guide and more time on your hands if personally done.
(I still need watch schedules from anyone taking one, or not. To put into some perspective: There's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th shifts - Dusk, early evening, midnight-ish, early morning respectively)
Anton you find nothing more defensible for the camp. But speculate if a guard decides to walk a certain path during their watch, they would have a clear view of their surroundings, as the area is relative flat land outside the Neverwinter wood.
Trundling into their would-be camp site, Ordrin sits heavily on a log, letting his pack slide off his shoulders. It clatters to the ground, his new war hammer landing upright with a thud and then tipping over lazily. He rests there rather sore, having talked himself out with the epics of Moradin and his own clan.
The others bustle about the camp, setting up to eat or cleaning up the area in advance of their night watches. They don't seem to have been taken by the spirit of his tales. None ask questions or seem particularly awed by Moradin's might. Ordrin spits on his hands and rubs them clean. He misses the theologians of his clan but he can learn something from these ones, too.
He glances at Lokk, already prepared for the night and morosely cleaning his weapons. Pip, seeming to be introducing the forest animals to his pet bird. Anton and Mixum sharing a conversation. He has the sudden feeling of being adrift and a stab of fear waves over him. His hand reaches under his tunic, clutches at the Hammer of Moradin hanging around his neck for strength. He presses it hard against his chest, stamps his feet, and stands up.
"Well, me lads. It's a beautiful evening, a nice breeze and not a midge in sight! Let's come together to sup and get a deserved rest. I'll rise early for the last watch."
Another Nat20 from Pip! Holy Crap! Its not a magical effect, but I'll say for now that something very good may happen in you guys future travels now. For a while, at least.
Watches Noted As:
1st - Anton 2nd - Pip & Archimedes 3rd - Mixum 4th - Odrin and Lokk
For the sake of brevity, until spoken of again, it is always assumed to be as so going forward.
To Paladin54: Archimedes is still bound to demands of the form he is in, but will do as you command. If you do not mind him gaining ranks of exhaustion, then that's fine. But keep that in mind going forward, and let it be known either IC or OOC whenever its decided for Arch to take extended watch. And no, summoning and de-summoning him temporarily will not reset the biological clock. Though if he de-summon for an extended period of time, he will gain the benefits of a "long rest".
Other than that, you are all free to roll perception checks ahead of time for your watch. But if you opt out, I'll use your passives.
N: 9, D2: 14, N2: 8. N: 1, N2: 4. N: 1.
As you get ready to rest until your shift officially comes up, you cannot help looking to the woods. For at least the past few hours, the feeling of being watched by something in that direction has come and gone. Nothing malevolent, as far as you feel, but something or 'someone' has been keeping an eye on you possibly since conversing the beast of the woods.
Lokk perks up at the mention of food, and even joins the others by the campfire for it. At some time during the meal, a few furtive glances from the half-orc to Odrin eventually resolves in him setting aside the stew of hard bread and veggies. "Seeing as you bird pip, I'll take last with Odrin here. Keep him company." He says as much, and even pats him on the shoulder. "Anyone... *ahem*... anyone got stories to share while we're still got time?"He asks the group at large. And though he avoids meeting Odrin's gaze, the dwarf might get the feeling the words were meant more for him.
Whether more tales or told, or idle conversation made, everyone but Anton, having chosen to take first watch, settle in for what is hoped to be a pleasant night out under the stars and a crescent moon...
At around the midway point of your watch, you start to hear something in the distance. A cursory glance around reveals nothing as far as you can see from whatever light source you have your disposal. But as you might consider waking the others or stepping away just a little to maybe catch wind of the disturbance again, you do hear what sounds almost like multiple owls hooting, strange buzzing noises, and on rare occasions a thud of something falling to the ground from some height. All of it coming from the direction of the nearby woods.
Its far enough away that you do not believe there's a danger to your camp. And if you decide not to investigate any further, things eventually quiet down after a few minutes again. Though you may feel on edge for some time after.
What does Anton do?
And if nothing, everyone is able to gain the benefits of a Long Rest, and decide to carry on or what have you. That morning the atmosphere is as pleasant as the last. Somewhat nippy from easterly breezes, and a few clouds have begun to dot the sky.
The meal had ended when Ordrin finds a bit more silence than he is comfortable with. "I have read a great many tomes, my friends," he says, sparking a small flame in the bowl of his pipe, "and the Neverwinter Wood has marked more than a few pages. These trees are quite old, if the tales be true. And home not only to elves, but also to strange and unnatural creatures that feed on moonlight and seek mortals to be their slaves. The ancient elven capital must not be far from here but it is written woe to anyone seeking it out. You'd likely have a better time of crossing all of Faerun than finding their city if they dunna want you to find it."
I think Anton would have felt obligated to go investigate the noises, torch and weapon in hand, though he wouldn't go so far as to lose line of sight on the camp. If Archimedes is awake and watching with him he'd be a little more comfortable going a bit further since the familiar could wake up Pip if something approaches.
You have to range fairs bit away from the group and close to the woods at large. Fortunately, what trees in the copse aren't the most hale, making it easy to keep your line of sight. Even better, as the edge of your torch light starts to pass into the boundaries of the Neverwinter Woods, you can just make out many, small body forms flitting among the trees. You pause and squint, mindful in the moment that to approach any closer to such fast moving bodies could lead to you being overtaken if a chase ensues.
As your eyes adjusts to the dim light for the passing half a minute, you see some of the bodies drop to the ground unmoving, revealing the thuds from before to them. A few seconds more, and you can just make out the flitting forms. Several are clearly owls, though of varying breeds and size. None reaching the hinted at "hugeness" warned by either of your companions. Setting aside the oddity of seeing so many species all one place aside, it becomes clear they are engaged in some conflict with many, red-furred bodies that look almost like bats at a glance. Until at least one perceptive one notices the torch, and starts making a beeline for its source. Just as you might ready to either fight or flee, you catch a clear look of thing... before an owl sweeps out from your peripheral, clawing, and eventually flying off with its prize.
This happens at least once or twice before the bat-like buggers become too embroiled in losing fighting against the owls to care about any light. As you consider your next move now confident at least at the lack of threat to the party, you just barely catch something else out of the corner of your eyes. Perched in an overhanging branching overlooking the fight is a moss-covered owl(?), staring... right back at you. One far larger then the rest.
As you turn to leave, you hear in your mind in a wizened, feminine, and matter-of-fact voice 'Varya. And you're all welcome'. But if you try to turn back to the moss-covered owl, you no longer see it perched on the tree branch, or anywhere in sight. The other owls continue their fight with the strange bat-bug creatures, felling more than those picked off when several gang up on one to attack like great mosquitoes.
The rest of the evening is mercifully quiet. If the others are told about the incident, and wish to investigate the site, nothing can be found but the imprints in the ground that could've been left by fallen owls.
(Previous Night - Forgot to add)
Lokk grimaces and Odrin's warning says, "So, no walking through it night. Got it. Though going by the directions, cutting through is eventually gonna be a thing. Bloody Nine." The one-eyed half-orc shudders then shakes his head disapprovingly at the ground. "Really hope this druid of Gundrun has the entail we need."
(Annnd back to the Present...)
If people are ready to move on immediately in the morning, I just need a marching order if there is one. But other than that...
You guys travel beside the woods in varying degrees of on guard for several hours. The air gradually warms as the day goes on, but plenty of breezes and gradually thickening cloud cover mitigate any discomfort there might have been. At one point you hear or see some of the tall grass of the plain next to woods rustle, and... a rabbit bustles out a little ways ahead of the group. It dash off fairly back into the underbrush, and is frankly the most exciting thing that happens throughout the day. So short of anyone dashing off into the woods again...
An uneventful day eventually winds down into what may be hoped to be an unexciting night to some. At this point the group is perhaps a little over half a day from Thundertree. Roughly two days more if the group decides to circumvent cutting through even the outer boundaries of the Neverwinter Woods itself. While some pressure is off now that Gundrun had been rescued, there still remained the matter of his brothers and the stolen map looming overhead.
Anton and whoever wishes to try or help go ahead and roll me a Survival to possibly come across a defensible camping area for the night.