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A Red & Pleasant Land, Part 12: Little Girls in Wells, a.k.a. My Players are Monsters

Prep Time

Started hitting some real writers block around this point. Tried to write up some adventures, dungeons, locations, situations, anything, but nothing was really working for me. Oh well, this session was looking like it would be mostly the journey back to Castle Cachtice. I'm sure I can wing it...

Players

  • Borus Bleeve - Borus the one-handed. Borus the hand collector. Borus of the two right hands. 
  • Karl Min Valé - Possible owner of "Min Valé Industries".
  • Wolfram Veta - Cleric of Vorn, Grim Gaunt God of Iron, Rust and Rain
  • Orv Gaster - Alistair, wearer of the checkered pants
  • Jhovan the Wanderer - Alistair, seeker of cake recipes

Events

  • Party exits the interior via staircase and finds themselves in front of a fortress. An entire line of fortresses. Livery hung from the fortress identifies it as belonging to the House of Hearts. The party yells out to the on-duty guard and asks for beds for the night.
  • The next morning the party sets out on the return trip to Castle Cachtice. They head back on an already travelled path. So the remainder of this session is basically random encounters rolled along the way.
  • First encounter: The March Hare. The party already knows this character as a messenger for the Pale King. But based on information they got from the Colorless Knight held prisoner in the Interior, they know the Pale House and House of Hearts are being played against each other. They aren't sure if they trust the Pale House anymore. After some debate, they decide to attack the Hare. They already killed the white Rabbit, and that eventually turned out okay, right?
  • The party opens fire, but fails to hit the Hare. (In Into the Odd, this means their damage failed to reduce its HP to zero). The Hare speaks a single word: "Bleed". The entire party begins bleeding from the eyes. And taking damage each round.
  • As the March Hare runs away, the party wisely decides to not pursue. As soon as it's out of site, their eyes stop bleeding. Good thing too. Jhovan was down to 0 HP, 1 STR -- literally one point of damage away from death.
  • Further travel north and their next encounter: They see a large, lion-like figure sitting in front of a fountain. Approaching closer, they see that the creature has the top-half of a human woman and the bottom-half of a lion. A Sphinx. And she is obsessively washing her hair in the fountain. "This hair is just awful! I just can't style it the way I want to."
  • The players try to make conversation. The Sphinx seems utterly bored by their attempts at small talk. "Does anybody here even think? You're just like the rest. And here I am stuck with you all. Can't even get my hair right and can't even find the Unicorn."
  • Karl perks up at the mention of the Unicorn. He mentions that they know somebody who has information on its whereabouts -- the loach.
  • The Sphinx reacts happily to the news. "Maybe you are different from the rest. Maybe you do have a brain. Let me test you." She begins asking riddles, which Karl fails to answer. The maze-like mystery of the Sphinx's riddles leaves Karl a drooling, thoughtless mess. It does eventually where off after the party leaves the Sphinx behind and continues on their journey.
  • Next encounter: The party sees a block of garden rising up in the distance. On top of it is a small stone structure. But, looking behind them, the party sees a dark cloud approaching them in the sky. It turns out to be a swarm of undead birds descending upon them. The party runs for it.
  • The party is able to find a door on the side of the garden block. They hide inside as the bird swarm passes. They head back outside and climb to the top of the garden block.
  • On top is a stone well. Wolfram climbs down.
  • The bottom of the well is filled with treacle. And, more surprisingly, there is a little girl living down here. She offers to trade items to Wolfram in exchange for any food he can provide that's not treacle.
  • Wolfram decides he wants to kidnap her instead. Or, as he calls it, rescue her from this well. He knocks her out with a blow to the head, ties her up, and the party pulls them out of the well.
  • For the journey home, the party leaves her bound and gagged. It's at this point that I realize my players are monsters.
  • The party arrives back at Castle Cachtice. They decide to keep the little girl a secret from the Queen -- rather than handing her over as food like the previously did with an entire human village. They'll let Lrak look after the little girl instead. I'm sure the mirror knight whose entire existence has been capturing and torturing prisoners will make a great babysitter.
  • The Queen of Hearts is furious that they failed to rescue the loach and get information on the whereabouts of the Unicorn. The party informs her that they successfully recovered her new cloak. And that both the cloak and the loach had been stolen by members of the Colorless House. And that the Colorless House may be playing the Pale House against the Hearts.
  • "Liars! Filthy Colorless liars! The Pale King would never dare betray me! They must be lying! My pretty human pets, you must bring me their lying Colorless tongues."
  • As it happens, a Rite of Engagement -- a duel -- has been announced between members of the House of Hearts and the Colorless House. Won't you accompany them to the duel and bring me the Colorless couples' tongues when they lose?

Questions before next session

  • Primary on my mind is, what to do with this duel thing? How am I can going to make that into an interesting, interactive adventure and not something that the players just watch the NPCs do then go home?

What worked well?

  • Lucked into some interesting encounters. I think my players are terrified of ever running into the March Hare again.

What didn't?

  • The session was really nothing but a series of random encounters. The hexcrawl didn't really provide any feeling of exploration. I'm starting to think a hexcrawl might be a poor fit for either my players or this campaign. The campaign has been very mission driven. The players know where to go and what to do. There hasn't been much need for exploration. Perhaps a pointcrawl would be better suited?

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