Saturday, March 28, 2009

Praktas - The Necromancer's Apprentice

Game Date: 3/28/2009
Daalan Raan (Bryan) - Elf Ranger (2-weapon style)
Ghargoff Bloodmaster (Rick) - Dragonborn Barbarian
Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)

We were hoping to get into an LFR game that week, but it fell through. So instead, we managed to get together at Bryan's place that morning, and I DMed them through "The Necromancer's Apprentice", a quest detailed in "Dungeon Master 4e for Dummies". They didn't do quite as well as last time.

Daalan and Ghargoff were given a quest to investigate Roburn's house, the source of some orc activity. While talking to the questgiver, they didn't ask enough questions, IMO. They were so interested in getting to the action, didn't even ask about the reward. I could have really screwed them later if I'd wanted to. (Well, if they'd returned alive.)

Lesson 1: Iron out the details when the NPC is still in front of you.

They fought a bear on the way to the house, which was boss-level, so they camped for the night afterwards. When they approached the house the next morning, they didn't waste much time investigating. While they could have walked around, looked through some windows, checked out the river that runs by the house, etc, instead they opted to just knock down the door. At which they failed, alerting the orcs inside. To their credit, they killed the orcs without too much problem. Still, they could have had a much easier battle if they'd gone in through the side window, or skipped the encounter entirely by checking the river grate, or one of several other alternate solutions.

Lesson 2: Fools rush in.

They explored the house, and went down the stairs into the hideout below. The next room was full of skeletons. I nerfed this one a bit, and the new encounter consisted of one flaming skeleton, and three skeletal minions. I also gave the flaming skeleton the ability to resurrect the minions, so they had to kill the flamer to win. They did well in this encounter.

I completely changed the next room. The book had it as a lair of kruthiks, but I changed it into more orcs. Four orcs, one of which was tending the fire under a large cooking pot. The other three were standing around a cage, which contained a captured wolf. The three orcs were taunting the wolf and poking it with sticks. The hope was that the players would burst into the room, and during the course of the battle, release the wolf. The wolf would then help them kill the remaining orcs, and if things went well, the wolf would stick around for a while. Possibly even become their pet.

Instead we got one of the most constricted battles I've seen. While still in one-square-wide hallway just outside the room, Daalan fired a couple of arrows which started the battle. The orcs crowded in, and the players were stuck in the doorway for the rest of the battle. They switched places a couple of times, keeping the healthiest in front. But since neither had any ranged powers, they couldn't both use their best moves in the same round. Daalan did manage to free the wolf with a very well-placed arrow, and the wolf did attack the orcs. Unfortunately, the wolf kept rolling low numbers, and the orcs kept rolling high ones, so the wolf was dead shortly thereafter. And soon, both players were also at 0 hit points.

Lesson 3: Position yourselves before battle begins.

I didn't want to kill them, so I had them wake up in a cell, with just a few hit points. Nathar, the evil wizard who was supposed to be the final boss, interrogated them. When Nathar finally left, a single orc guard paced the room. Getting out of the cell was a bit complicated, but a couple of lucky die rolls later, the two were out the door and slipping through a sewer grate. They went back to town and healed up.

They went back to the house, fought their way through some more undead, and found Nathar's lab. Daalan peeked in and saw Nathar talking to the Orc Captain. He tried to sneak into the room unnoticed, but rolled a low number on his stealth check. But to be honest, he probably wouldn't have succeeded anyway, because his plan was a bit absurd. He was trying to open the door, sneak into the room, and hide behind one of the other pieces of furniture. The problem was that Nathar and the Orc, though facing each other, could both see the door from their point of view. And Nathar was expecting them to show up again, so he was on alert. I would've had to set the DC at 50 to make it remotely believable. In any event, he rolled a 4, and the door creaked loudly at his touch, alerting the villains to their presence.

Lesson 4: Make sure your plan makes sense.

I changed this encounter as well; instead of fighting Nathar, I had the wizard introduce his Frankenstein-esque creation, a large flesh golem. Nathar escaped through a teleportation circle, while the players were left to fight the golem and the orc captain.

...And they both died again. They managed to off the golem, and get the captain bloodied, but they just couldn't finish him off. I wasn't looking forward to writing them out of another death, but I didn't have to. Bryan and Rick decided to use new characters. Luckily we already had some rolled up, so that's where Drew and Damakos enter the picture. They had seen Daalan and Ghargoff enter the house, and they followed. Everything was dead except for the Orc Captain, who was close. They finished off the orc and looted everything they could find, including Daalan and Ghargoff. Then they headed off to town to sell what they'd found.

A few hours later, they were drinking at a tavern. Two drunks approached them and started a fight. It turned out that the drunks were faking their drunkenness, and two assassins joined them to attack the players. The players won, but the bar burned down in the process. The assassins' bodies carried the emblem of the "Temple of the Yellow Skull", a plot point also alluded to in a note found in Nathar's lab.

This is where we ended the session, as it had been a pretty full day, and I had nothing further prepared.

Drew - 250 xp, 320 gp, +1 Lifedrinker Longsword, 2 Potions of Healing
Damakos - 250 xp, 320 gp, - Belt of Vigor, 2 Potions of Healing, 1 Alchemist's Acid, 1 Alchemist's Fire

Friday, March 13, 2009

My D&D History

Note: This post has been moved here from my other blog.

This subject came up in a thread on the Gleemax forums, but I thought I would go ahead and copy it here. It'll probably be boring to most of you, so only read this if you're bored.

I still consider myself a D&D newbie. I'm 35 years old, and while I have a history of skirting the waters on the periphery of D&D, only recently have I managed to get myself into an actual D&D campaign.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to try D&D, but none of my friends could play it. I remember seeing a D&D video game come out for an early console, and asking my friend "J" if he was going to get it. "My family isn't allowed to play Dungeons and Dragons," he said. "It's evil. One kid played it and went crazy, then jumped out a window." Luckily J's parents didn't mind him watching the 80s cartoon series, and we did so religiously.

Around that time, they released a D&D toy line. I really liked the castle/dungeon playset they released for it - "The Fortress of Fangs". It was shaped like a snake's head, with teeth for stalagmites/stalagtites, and there was a lava pit, and a gold-filled chest, and a moving spiked wall, and some other really nifty features. It was much cooler than any of the He-Man castles, and probably still gets my vote for best playset of any toy line, ever.

The D&D toy line also included a female cleric, and I really wanted that figure. I always liked playing as female characters, and at the time there was a shortage of female action figures in male-oriented toy lines. I always felt weird asking my parents for female figures, though. I didn't yet have enough understanding of gender/sexuality to know why it made me uncomfortable (or even why I preferred playing with girl toys), but I was afraid my parents might think I was odd. So, just as I did with GI Joe's Scarlett, I included her in a list of several D&D toys I wanted.

My parents were having a good financial year, and that Christmas I received the entire D&D toy line. Heroes, monsters, and of course the Fortress playset. My parents did that sort of thing several years in a row - getting me an entire toy line when I had only asked for one or two figures. I must have sounded like a real braggart when I called my friends on Christmas day.

My older brother was generally the one to buy video games in our house, but he only liked action games. When I finally started getting games of my own - the 8-bit NES days - I mostly stuck with action games as well. It was what I was used to. But action games with RPG elements started creeping into my collection. I decided I really liked exploration games where you collected things and became more powerful as the game went on (Metroid, Zelda), but I still wanted the battles themselves to be based on finger skill rather than math. Sure, I enjoyed a few adventure games on my old Commodore 64, but I never owned any that involved hit points and such.

Then one day I was at an arcade with J, and we discovered Gauntlet, which instantly became our favorite game. Four player simultaneous! And we have to work together! And you have "health" instead of one-hit deaths! And I can play a female character! I remember J's father picking us up from the arcade, and us telling him about the new game. "Um... this game isn't like Dungeons and Dragons, is it?" Luckily we convinced him it was wasn't. Which of course it really wasn't (aside from the setting), but even so we probably came pretty close to J being banned from playing it.

In 5th grade, I sort of DMed a friend of mine through several games. The friend, "K", was into D&D, but for some reason I couldn't get into his group. I can't remember why... I might have been afraid that D&D really was evil, or maybe the subject just never came up. But I really liked mythical monsters, so I bought a used Monster Manual from The Great Escape. It was that AD&D one with the really crappily-drawn cover. I enjoyed drawing up mazes and populating them with monsters, and talking K through them over the phone. Now, I didn't understand anything about levels or difficulty or balance. I would put whatever creatures I wanted anywhere I wanted. I believe K was using his actual D&D character that he used in other games, and using our sessions to level up so he would be more powerful in his other campaign. When he'd get to a monster, I didn't know what the stats meant, so it would go like this:

Me: "You enter the room and see a hydra."
K: "What's it say on his stat block, under 'AC'?"
(I read it off to him.)
K: "Okay, just a minute..." (Dice rolling) "Okay, now what's it say under his attacks?"
(I read it off to him.)
K: (More dice rolling) "Okay, he dies."

Of course, K had to be cheating. I've since found the old mazes, and they look really silly. Monsters of different types are scattered about randomly with no respect for plot or ecology. Secret passages are more common than ordinary doors. I see one room that has multiple dragons in it. I don't care what level he was, K would have been slaughtered halfway through any one of my mazes, especially playing solo. But then, a real DM would have been throwing a saner mix of monsters at him, so hopefully he was adjusting his XP accordingly.

Once in 8th grade, I was in a non-supervised study hall, and another bored student DMed me through a quick game. We didn't have any dice, so he took a pencil and numbered the flat sides, and we rolled that. All I remember is that at one point, two boars were charging at me from opposite sides. I jumped up and grabbed a tree branch, and the boars collided with each other.

In high school, my friend "C" and I designed a wrestling RPG. Mostly it was just picking from a list of moves and rolling a die to see if the move succeeded. The more powerful the move, the more difficult the die roll. We only played it a couple of times, but I later used that basic system for an mini-game I programmed on my Commodore 64 (which was really showing it's age by then).

In college I got into MUDs. Well, one specific MUD. It was called JediMUD, and while it was a mostly medieval setting, it had a lot of pop culture and sci-fi references. I found it absolutely amazing that I could talk (and fight with) players who were on the other side of the world. It was my first time I spent a lot of hours on a dice-based game, and I was hooked. As a result, my grades suffered.

I always played a female character in JediMUD. Not to mess with other players, not for any "funny" reasons; it was just how I was comfortable. When other players would ask me if I was female in real life, I would always tell them I was female. Again, it wasn't so they would give me stuff or any other dishonorable reason; it just helped me feel more like myself. This led to some problems, like guys wanting to be my pen pal offline, and me trying to find polite ways to reject advances, etc. I can't say I handled it all perfectly, but it was a learning experience.

A couple of years after college, I played D&D one time, using someone else's character. (We knew it was a one-off, and didn't want to waste time rolling up a new character.) I learned a valuable lesson - no matter how thirsty you are, if you find a beautiful fountain out of the blue in the middle of the desert... DON'T DRINK FROM IT!!!

And then came Final Fantasy III (aka VI) on the SNES. I had previously tried a few RPGs for the NES, like Ultima and Dragon Quest, but I didn't like them. I just couldn't figure them out... granted, I had rented them from video stores that didn't provide the instruction booklets, so that might have had something to do with it. Still, I always thought console RPGs were dull, and never really gave them a chance. But FFIII's reviews were so spectacular. One of the reviews even plainly said, "If you're new to RPGs, this is the perfect one to start on." So I rented it, and loved it. Then there was Chrono Trigger, and later Final Fantasy VII for the PS.

In 1999, we had a really bad year. We had a lot of financial problems, my wife had a miscarriage, and our car got repossessed. I threw myself into JediMUD once again, partly to keep the phone lines busy so I wouldn't have to talk to creditors, but mostly so I could fantasize about living a different life. But things got better, and we moved on.

A few years later, I bought NeverWinter Nights. I only played a little of the main storyline, before I got hooked on the online servers. Especially the roleplay servers. Once again I was playing female characters, and letting other players believe I was female IRL. I didn't feel good about lying, but it was the only way I could truly feel like myself. After a while, I realized that it wasn't the lying that was bothering me, it was that I really wanted it to be true. It was around that time that I realized I was transgendered.

Anyway, my favorite server died off, and I couldn't find another one I really liked. So I built my own mod and hosted it for several years. Itropa was set in a universe of my own creation, and was a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, with an odd sense of humor. It never had a huge following, but we had our share of players, and overall I'd consider the server a success.

A couple of years ago I started collecting minis, more because I like them than for actual gaming. Then I bought the core rulebooks (3e) because I saw them on sale, but that was mostly for research purposes. I attended GenCon 2007, followed by DragonCon 2008, mostly because I like being around dorks.

And then, just a few months ago, I really got the bug to play in a regular game. I bought the 4e rulebook, and I played in a couple of LFR games. Since then I've been looking for a group. And now I've finally found one! We had our first session last weekend, and it was great. We're playing 4e, mostly - there's some 3.5 elements and a smattering of homebrew. We have a wonderful DM, and I hope the game continues for a long time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Thoughts on D&D Fourth Edition

Note: I wrote half of this right after reading the PHB and playing my first LFR game, and I've adding to it ever since. See the update at the bottom for the biggest changes in my opinion. Also, some of this is stuff I've already posted in threads here.

Also Note: This post has been moved here from my other blog.

Those of you who don't like D&D have no reason to read this, and those of you who do like D&D are probably already tired of hearing other people's opinions on this controversial edition of the game. But everyone deserves a chance to throw out their opinion, so I might as well.

I'm pretty sure I've approached it with more of an open mind than most people. Since I haven't played a lot of any version, I have less stake in this - the changes just don't mean as much to me. D&D players tend to get attached to certain rulesets, and are highly resistant to change. Each time D&D gets a new overhaul, I see the same panic that I see whenever Microsoft comes out with a new version of Windows. But in both cases, the new version eventually spreads until everyone gets used to it, the last few naysayers finally settling in just in time for them to announce the next version.

I do like that they attempted to simplify things. For an outsider, that's the biggest barrier to the hobby - the daunting mountain of rulebooks. Heck, I had a hard enough time learning Monopoly, and I still don't really understand Clue.

The most significant change is the new "powers" (and I hate that term being used in D&D). Overall, I don't care for the concept.

Before, playing a different class made the whole game seem like a different game. The core three - fighter, wizard, and rogue - had entirely different rules and stategies. A fighter didn't do much more than stay in front and swing his sword. A rogue took a bit more thinking, and wizards were the most strategic of all. And that was the beauty of the game! That's what made the game appealing to so many different players. If one of your guests wants to play Yahtzee, and the other wants to play Scrabble, you have to take turns. But with D&D, you get Yahtzee and Scrabble and even Hungry Hungry Hippos in a group together, working together, complementing each other's skills, and all having fun despite the fact that they didn't all want to play the same thing. No, not despite the fact... because of it.

So that's my biggest gripe (so far) with 4e. The new powers make all the classes feel too much like each other. A fighter using a daily attack power doesn't play much different than a Wizard using a daily touch attack spell. Take out the flavor text, and you're pretty much just saying "I deal 1d6+3 damage to the orc in the square next to me." Other class differences - AC, strength, etc - are just stats, but it's the strategy that's supposed to define a class. Instead of the checkers champions playing fighters, and the chess champions playing wizards, we all have to be chess champions.

I've always thought of fighter as a good class for a beginner, or someone who isn't into strategy, both of which describe me. But now, I don't know how easily I'm going to learn this game. I thought this version was supposed to be simpler. In 3.x, I already had trouble with the concepts of "full round actions" vs "move actions", but now I also have to deal with whether my new ability is once a day, once an encounter, or once a round. And don't get me started on Action Points and Healing Surges.

I like the selection of races presented in PHB1. Dragonborn are way cooler than Half-Orcs, but probably appeal to the same players. And the Eladrin are a lot more interesting than Gnomes. The class selection, however, is a bit more problematic... I like Bards, darn it! And now I have to wait until the "Player's Handbook 2", just to see if I still like them.

I don't like the skills system. It's a personal choice, but I prefer being able to put points into a skill every level, than to be able to just get a 5 point bonus one time. With the old system, I could spread skill points around and be a "jack-of-all-trades" type of character, or I could really excel at a couple of skills to go along with my character's obsessions. With 4e it's more pass/fail. Everyone adds 1/2 their level to every skill, so even characters who would never think of lying gradually get better at Bluff over time. That said, I do like the way the skills are represented. They're a bit more generic now, so instead of having to put points into listen, search and spot, now you can just train in "Perception".

I'm more on the fence about alignment. It's now more of a scale than a grid: LG/G/N/E/CE. Meh. Personally, I'd rather either have the full grid, or have the even simpler scale of just Good/Neutral/Evil. Or even eliminate alignment completely. It's not a particularly useful game mechanic, and some people think it does more harm than good. At least the classes themselves have fewer alignment restrictions this time around.

I don't like healing surges, but not for the same reasons as most people. Some people have complained that healing surges give a character too much healing ability, but those people don't really understand the system. Healing surges are basically a way of giving you a maximum number of times a day you can be healed. Some complainers are confusing healing surges with the Second Wind ability, which allows someone to spend a healing surge once per battle. However, seeing as how it's a once-per encounter ability that everyone has, and the number of HP healed is 1/4 your total HP, then all the DM needs to do is plan encounters with this in mind - just assume that all the PCs have 25% more hit points than they really do. And yes, you can freely spend surges while resting between battles, but you only have so many per day, so it's not always a good idea.

So while other people complain that the healing surges give everyone unlimited healing, my beef is that the surges are too restrictive. Almost every way you can heal, spends a surge. Once you're out of surges, you can't be healed any more that day. In 3.5, you could theoretically pack 100 healing potions in your bag of holding, and drink them all day long. In 4e, a 1st level fighter with 15 CON can only be healed 11 times a day. That may seem like a lot, but each surge only heals 25% of his hit points, so he may have to use two or three at a time. For example, our theoretical fighter would have 30 HP, and heal 7 HP per surge. He should be able to get through the day's first couple of battles pretty easily, but what if the DM puts the party through more than that in a day? Once he's out of surges, even healing potions don't work.

A lot of people are comparing 4e to World of Warcraft. I felt that too when I first started reading the Player's Handbook, but that went away when I actually played the game. On a logical level I can still see the similarities, but the feel is totally different. Actually playing the game feels NOTHING like WoW. So my potential inflammatory statment would be thus: If someone says it feels like WoW, then they're lying about having played it. They came to that conclusion after reading the PHB, but they haven't actually tried the game. And putting down the system without trying it first is absolutely shameful. So feel free to make all the WoW comparisons you want, but don't even try to tell me that it FEELS like WoW. Don't. I will immediately categorize you as either a liar or a stubborn grognard, which will immediately cheapen the value of anything further you could possibly have to say.

However, it does feel like a board game. Some people don't see it, especially people used to playing wargames. But then, I would also classify wargames as a sub-category of board game, so the comparison still works. The two sessions I've played so far felt like chess matches with a bit of roleplay here and there. Of course, these were both LFR games, which tend to be combat-heavy and RP-lite due to time constraints. But even the most roleplay-centric campaign will probably have combat in it somewhere, and the combat feels very chess-like to me.

Overall, I think the biggest problem I have with 4e is that it's 4e. If it had been introduced as a spin-off, it would be a pretty neat game. Just as the Star Wars prequels might have gotten better press if they'd been spin-off movies like the "Ewok Adventure" or the "Droids" cartoon. With 4e's simplicity, they could have marketed it for younger players, and called it "D&D Adventures." With 4e's powers system, they could have marketed it towards comic book geeks and called it "D&D Heroes". With it's board game like battles, they could have marketed it towards the wargame crowd and called it "D&D Tactics". Call me a grognard, but for me, 3.5 will always be what I consider "D&D". The editions before it were just practice, and the editions after it are just spin-offs.


All that said, I really have enjoyed the sessions I've played so far. Since I wrote the above, I've gotten to play it a few more times, and in a few more ways. I've played it RAW in LFR games, where it's mostly combat and feels the most like a board game. I've played under a more roleplay-centric DM, using no minis, less combat, and some homebrew elements. And I've even DMed a game myself. Every game has been a blast.

Also, I've started using WOTC's official Character Builder, which makes character creation a breeze. Not only is it a time saver, but I can use content from books I don't own, and it makes figuring out the math a lot easier. It has its flaws (the price, for example), but overall it makes character creation a more enjoyable experience.

The PHB2 comes out in a week. I can't wait to play around with the new races and classes.

Bottom line: I still consider 3.5 the iconic D&D. I still think of 4e as a spin-off, or at least "D&D Lite". But that doesn't keep it from being a fun game, worthy of many campaigns.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

D&D Character Builder

Note: This post has been moved here from my other blog.

I love the Character Builder.

IMO, the most tedious part of starting a campaign is filling out the character sheets. In the campaign I'm currently playing, our entire first session was spent filling out the character sheets. But the WOTC's Character Builder lets you do it in no time. It does all the math for you, and prints all your powers on little cards for easy reference. Admittedly, the cards only add to the board game feel, but they do make the game flow faster. Use up an encounter power, turn over the card. Simple. Heck, the math aspect alone is worth it. No longer do I have to figure out all the factors that make up my attack and damage rolls. Fourth edition has so many ways to add to your attack and damage, I really prefer having the program figure it up for me. Now that I've used the Builder, I can't imagine building a character without it.

The Builder is expensive. You get it by subscribing to D&D's website, which is $60 a year. For your $60, there are a few other nice resources on the website, but nothing that tops the Builder (so far - they've made some lofty promises for the future). Well, it sounds expensive, but it is updated with content from every new book they release. With the builder, you can stop buying a lot of future splat books. If you're the type who buys a lot of D&D books looking for new build options, then the program might actually save you some money. Especially since those books can run about $35 each. Note that there are some installation issues on some computers (it doesn't work on one of mine), and Mac users are out of luck.

There are some free home-made builders out there, as there are for most editions of D&D (and other RPGs), but the ones I've tried haven't nearly been as good as the official program. And some home-made builders have been shut down by WOTC for using copyrighted text in their builder's power cards, so future prospects for high-quality free alternatives don't look good.

Anyway, if you can get past the price (which might be more worth it in the future), then the Character Builder makes a good thing even better. And you really only need one copy of it per group, so maybe the group can chip in and have one player put it on their laptop. Then you can just pass the laptop around whenever it's time to create or level up your characters.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tantris - Session 1

Game Date 3/7/09

Rolan Daan (Bryan) - Elf Rogue
Rhogar Burnscale (Rick) - Dragonborn Fighter
Nara Cavell (Matt) - Human Cleric of Pelor

OOC Intro:
The game began with Rolan picking up his nightly job from his contact at the Bleeting Goat in Tantris. He receives instructions to visit the House of Derai, where he is hired to take care of a bandit problem. He is allowed to hire an additional bit of muscle, and he is given aid by the church.

Meanwhile, Rhogar wins 500 gold in a pit fighting tournament against a Half-Orc named Krusk. Rolan hires Rhogar due to his prowess in the ring. He then visits the Church of Pelor, where Nara is added to the party.

Nara's Journal:

This has been a most trying time to say the least. I have been assigned to aid an unusual pair of fellows, on a mission from the House of Derai to relieve a caravan from a bandit problem. Our band is led by Rolan, an Elf with a charming smile and the stench of ale on his breath. His companion is Rhogar, a seemingly fearless Dragonborn with a scar for every day of his life. I'm not quite sure if I trust either of them, but I am more concerned with the greater good at the moment.

We had to take a small boat to the caravan's origin point, where we were assigned a wagon to protect. We were given the middle of the three wagons, and were ordered not to leave it for any reason. The trip was rather uneventful until the caravan was attacked by goblins. The three of us managed to fight off our attackers, but not before the other wagons were set ablaze, and all the other travelers were killed. During the battle we discovered an odd property our wagon possessed - some sort of force field thwarted the goblins' attempts to enter it.

The goblins seemed terribly excited about something, and I longed to understand their exclamations, but of course none of us could comprehend their language. I am tempted to study it when I have the time. I picked up Draconic relatively easily, and I do enjoy learning new things.

Once the goblins had been driven away, we continued our trek, with Rolan now at the reigns. The rest of the trip was thankfully less exciting. We passed another caravan on the side of the road, apparently camping for the night. We started to greet them - Rolan and I even left the wagon to approach the other caravan - but as we got close we thought better of it. We were afraid that they might think us to be bandits ourselves, and didn't want to rouse them. In retrospect I have second thoughts... we could have warned them about the goblin threat.

A bit farther down the road, we had to stop for the night ourselves. Like any smart band of travelers, we slept in shifts, one of us keeping watch at all times. Which makes me that much more curious about the other caravan... why did no one see us approach? Either they had no one keeping watch, or someone was sleeping on the job. Curious. I hope they weren't needing our help. I trust Pelor to guide me in these decisions, but sometimes the right path is hard to see.

Once we were back on the road, we were nearly attacked by goblins again, but we managed to outrun them. When we reached our destination, we weren't exactly given a hero's welcome. We stayed the night in the local inn, Rolan and Rhogar sharing one room, and I in another. The following morning we were presented with a most atrocious breakfast, and were shortly thereafter arrested. Though we failed to notice our wagon's cargo at the time, apparently we were protecting a cache of precious gems. Gems that were now missing, leaving us as the only suspects. We were detained and searched, and questioned separately. I answered all questions with complete honesty, though I'm afraid I didn't know enough to help their investigation. The gems were found in Rolan's room, though I'm not convinced of his guilt.

I was the first to be released. Apparently my church's name precedes me, as I was given a formal apology by a very well-dressed man, and given the royal treatment for the rest of my stay. I'm not much for luxury, so instead of enjoying my lavish new room, I stayed in the inn lobby and questioned the Dragonborn innkeeper if he'd seen anything suspicious while we slept. Unfortunately he had little information to offer.

Rolan and Rhogar were released shortly thereafter, which surprised all of us. As I write this, we are planning our next step. According to our interrogators, the goblin attackers were not the bandits we had been assigned to locate. If we want to be redeemed in everyone's eyes, we should still locate those bandits and bring them to justice. But beyond that, we have several other questions to answer. Was Rolan framed? If so, why? And why was he let go? Did the goblins know of our cargo? Why were we not attacked by the real bandits? And what of the sleeping caravan?

Whatever our next step is to be, I humbly pray for the light of Pelor to illuminate our path, and dissipate the shadows of evil.

- Nara Cavell, Loyal servant of Pelor

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