Recap: Trailing barely several marks behind the party was the Baron Ichara, a Seeker, and several Imperial Guardsmen, along with mercenaries and a small retinue of trackers and rangers. An Amaran war party attacked that group of men, and in the confusion, the black-skinned mercenary known as Sam escaped on a good horse. Unfortunately, the mercenary's horse was hit with a quarrel, and it trailed blood and hoof prints through the snow. Sam raced the horse as quickly as he dared -- right through the camp of Moon Break, Faeradd, Phoenix, and Cali-bras. Moon Break and Cali-bras raced back along the trail to intercept and slow the Seeker and his men, hoping to give the gnome and the elven druidess a chance to escape. Sam, for his part, finally convinced Faeradd and Phoenix that he could help, and promptly did so as some of the Baron Ichara's men managed to get around Cali-bras and Phoenix.
Travelling as quickly as they dared, Phoenix cast pass without trace on the horses, and led them further west and north, even using healing energy to reduce the fatigue of their mounts. Finally daring to slow, after the energies of pass without trace faded, the party was beset by wolves, and then a large brown bear.
Exhausted and near the end of their talents, the three of them agreed to enter the nearby Vridaran town of Noleth -- under the guise of a farmer and his family, whose land had been ravaged by the Amarans. After several days of rest and recovery, the Imperial Guard finally managed to find the party, based off of Sam's physical description. Narrowly avoiding the guard -- and even throwing one out a window -- the party hastily beat feet out of town the only way they could: north, into the lands of the Amaran Tribes.
The Amaran tribe of the Bhrohimal had been trying for days to lure the Vridarans into a carefully constructed ambush just outside their town, out of range of the ballistae, and within sight of the city walls. The Vridaran Imperial Guards and their men charged out of Noleth intent only on capturing the gnome, who was posing as a child. The Amarans slaughtered the Vridarans, beheading them and leaving their naked bodies within sight of the town walls. The Amarans were so greatful to the party -- and their druidess, Phoenix -- that they offered them several gifts.
Armed with a wooden weapon known as a hornet dagger, well rested, and well equipped with the softest leathers and furs, the party is set to head west, towards Rakore. Their guide, Tostafo, is a druid of some small measure, and will help them as far as the lands of the Goblin King. Though the weather threatens heavy snows, the party is buoyed by their new-found friends, and their new winter equipment.
The final date for this mission was Dasad the 6th, 1327 Avard.
DM Notes: Seeker Devray continues to hunt the party, though their foray into Amaran territory is forcing him to work through his Sleepers -- and puts him nearly a week behind the party, instead of only half a day. He knows of the 'black rock merc', the gnome, and the elven druidess, but he's confused on a number of points, such as: Why is a druidess helping the gnome? Why has the 'black rock merc' joined the group? Where are they going? The last question is dumb-founding the Seeker, but his aid, Imperial Guardsman Toth, fears that the group may be heading towards an ancient group of ruins on the far side of the Amaran lands.
Cali-bras has successfully faded away, having doubled back to rescue Break -- and now the two seek Travis Duraset, to enlist his aid.
Due west of the party is the small river of Hutchinis. Once they cross it, they'll head west and south towards the Golin Sea, led by the Amaran that travels with them. Their guide, Tostafo, can wild shape into a large, brown eagle three times per day. Scouting ahead in the shape of an eagle for three marks at a time, Tostafo will find a quick path around the nearest goblin-infested lands, showing the party the dangers to watch for, and introducing them to the vastness and richness of the savannah. Along the way, they might meet other Amarans, with Tostafo acting as mediator. During one particular scouting expedition, Tostafo won't return...
The Amaran druid-guide will have succumb to goblin javelins, coated with an inorganic poison known as 'tustwauf'. The poison is difficult to make and process, and its instability indicates that the goblins 'found' the poison somewhere. Tostafo's body will be surrounded by four or five looting goblins and a few of their boreing beetles, should the party find him. If they let any of the goblins or boreing beetles escape, they'll have to chase the little beasties into their nearby, underground warren. (Make map as necessary, CR as per the level of the party.)
Tostafo: male Amaran Drd6: CR 6; Size M (5 ft., 9 in. tall); HD 6d8+6; hp 34; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Attack +6 melee (shortsword, 1d6+2, crit 20 x2), or +6 ranged (hornet dagger, 1d4+4, range inc 20ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +8; AL NG; Str 14, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 9. Languages Spoken: Common, Druidic, Amaran, Goblin. Skills and feats: Alchemy +4, Concentration +9, Craft (woodworking) +11, Forgery +4.5, Handle animal +6, Heal +12, Hide +2, Jump +3, Knowledge (religion) +4, Listen +3, Move silently +2, Spellcraft (deitific) +6, Spot +5, Wilderness lore +10; Brew potion, Combat reflexes, Craft magic arms and armor, Still spell. Druid Spells Per Day: 5/4/4/3. Possessions: hornet dagger (32,000gp), 2 potions of speak with animals (300gp), 3 potions of cure light wounds, 1 potion of bull's strength (300gp), 1 potion of neutralize poison (750gp), druid's vest (5,800gp). SA: nature sense, animal companion, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature's lure, wild shape (3/day) (eagle).
The savanna of the Amarans is wild because of setbacks during the War of the Undead, and so a number of creature encounters are possible:
Amaran Tribesmen: male human Rgr1: CR 1; Size M (6 ft., 0 in. tall); HD 1d10; hp 10; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10; Attack +1 melee (shortspear 1d8, crit 20 x2), or +1 ranged (shortspear/atl-atl 1d8, crit 20 x2, range incr 30ft); SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +1; AL NG; Str 11, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 11. Languages Spoken: Common, Amaran. Skills and feats: Animal empathy +4, Craft +2, Hide +4, Knowledge (nature) +4, Listen +1, Move silently +0, Spot +1, Use rope +4, Wilderness lore +5; Quick draw, Skill focus (animal empathy), [Track]. Possessions: ivory items with a value of some tens of silvers.
Elephant: huge animal; CR 8; HD 11d8+55 (104hp); Init +0; Spd 40ft; AC 15 (-2 size, +7 natural); Attack +16 slam melee (2d6+10) and 2 stamps +11 melee (2d6+5), or gore +16 melee (2d+15); F/R 10x20/10; SA Trample 2d8+15; SQ Scent; SV Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +4; Str 30, Dex 10, Con 21, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 7. Skills: Listen +6, Spot +6. Trample (Ex): An elephant can trample Medium-size or smaller creatures for automatic gore damage. Opponents who do not make attacks of opportunity against the elephant can attempt a Reflex save (DC 20) to halve the damage.
Lion: large animal; CR 3; HD 5d8+10 (32hp); Init +3 (Dex); Spd 40ft; AC 15 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +3 natural); Attack 2 claws +7 melee (1d4+5) and bite +2 melee (1d8+2); F/R 5x10/5; SA Pounce, improved grab, rake 1d4+2; SQ Scent; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2; Str 21, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6. Skills: Balance +7, Hide +4*, Jump +5, Listen +5, Move Silently +11, Spot +5. Pounce (Ex): If a lion leaps upon a foe during the first round of combat, it can make a full attack even if it has ahlready taken a move action. Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the lion must hit with its bite attack. If it gets a hold, it can rake. Rake (Ex): A lion that gets a hold can make two rake attacks (+7 melee) with its hind legs for 1d4+2 damage each. If the lion pounces on an opponent, it can also rake. *In areas of tall grass or heavy undergrowth, the Hide bonus improves to +12.
Goblin: male goblin Rog1: CR 1; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +2 ranged (javelin, 1d6-1, rang inc 20ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL NE; Str 9, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Gather information +1, Handle animal +1, Hide +5, Intuit direction +4, Knowledge (nature) +1, Listen +2, Move silently +5, Profession +4, Read lips +2, Sense motive +4, Spot +0, Swim +3, Use rope +5; Alertness.
Boreing Beetle: medium-size vermin; CR 1; HD 2d8+4 (13hp); Init +0; Spd 30ft, burrow 30ft; AC 15 (+6 natural); Attack bite +3 melee (1d4+3, crit 20 x2); F/R 5x5/5; SV Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +0; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 7. Skills: Listen +5, Spot +1.
If the party is cautious, observant, and not out for blood, then it might enlist the aid of Oorhl, an outcast goblin. Oorhl stole a magical ring from his chief, and fled the goblin warrens before he was caught. Crafty and intelligent, the goblin has no love for his people -- but he would not lead the party to his warren, or help to kill any of his kind. Oorhl is more interested in explorating the lands beyond his warren, and perhaps learning more about the people that crafted his most prized posession: an Amaran hornet dagger.
Oorhl: male goblin Rog1: CR 1; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler, +1 ring of protection); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +4 ranged (hornet dagger, 1d4+2, rang inc 20, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Bluff +3, Craft (woodworking) +2, Diplomacy +3, Hide +5, Intimidate +3, Intuit direction +4, Listen +6, Move silently +5, Pick pocket +3, Read lips +4, Spot +2, Swim +3; Alertness. Possessions: ring of protection +1 (2,000 gp), Amaran hornet dagger (32,000gp).