Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, session 26

Summary:
Exploring two greenhouses in the former wizard village of Somber Grove, the adventurers discover some truly exotic plants (pictures below) with incredible future potential to enhance character’s spells, armor, and weapons. They also battled giant slugs and an assassin vine!

PC’s:
Jabari Rajul-min Alshrq, Human Monk 1/Cleric 0 (class and a half) of Horus
Magnus, Gnome Druid 2 of Belenus
Eliam, Half-Elf (Elven lineage) Cleric 3/Wizard 2 of Lugh
Homonoea, Human Dragonslayer 1/Giant Killer 0 (class-and-a-half) of Athena
Endur “the Thick”, Human Fighter 2 of Gobniu

NPC:
Thorthic Norain, Dwarven Barbarian/Cleric of Thor

Game Diary:
I had a small number of players for this session: two players were at North Texas RPG Con, one had work duties, and another fell ill. Still, I had three players, and with my policy of encouraging players to play two characters (C&C is a rules-light game and this is easy to manage), we still had 5 characters plus an NPC that was accompanying them. Even though that meant our group was half its normal size, for many RPG’s this would constitute a full adventuring group!

The players left off in the long abandoned wizard-run village of Somber Grove. Last time they had explored a few southern buildings, acquired some locked-away magical scrolls and fought off a harpy and her giant frog thralls. For today, this smaller group had two choices, continue exploring the abandoned village (which was slowly being swallowed by a swamp after decades of neglect), or head off to the Zombraire Estate which was one hour up and abandoned road (where they had seen from a high tower with the keen eyes of their elf, a skeleton oxen plowing fields of undead vegetation led by father, mother, and children zombies. My Discord players decided that the Zombraire Estate was best saved for when we had more players, so they chose to explore the two greenhouses in the mid portion of the two road village (there is a northern east-west road, and a southern east-west road, they had explored the southern east-west road during the previous session).

Both greenhouses were roughly 30 x 20 feet in size. The east greenhouse had a four foot stone wall surrounding it with iron bars forming a semicircle over it where plants and hangers could hang. Due to the decades of neglect the place was wild with overgrown plants. The western greenhouse had a roughly six foot high wall and the iron bars arched higher with wooden slats running across the top that could be adjusted to allow sun in during different parts of the day. Much of the wood had rotted away. They could also hear buzzing from the western greenhouse, and the druid – Magnus – determined there were giant bees inside, probably collecting pollen. The group chose to enter the seemingly empty eastern greenhouse.

Magnus peeked in first and was hit by a barb that had been fired at him from some animal! He had to make a save versus paralysis…and failed! He fell to the ground with a thud. Eliam knelt down and cast remove paralysis on him. Then Eliam was hit by a barb! He now had to make a paralysis save, and he also failed! Now Thorthic stepped forward and cast remove paralysis on Eliam. The clerics had given this group a fighting chance with their 2nd level spells, but they were now out of that spell!

Looking over the 4 foot wall and between the bars, the group could see four giant slimy snails slowly making their way toward the entrance. Both Magnus and Eliam had gotten a glimpse of the plants inside and knew this battle would be worth it for them, so the group continued their attacks. Thorthic hurled a hammer (he worships Thor), Endur fired all the arrows he had from his longbow, Jabari punched them, and Magnus hurled sling bullets. Once the snails got within melee range they resorted to bites (better than the paralytic ranged barbs!), although their teethy bites were dangerous, the group no longer had to worry about paralysis! The slugs eventually got sliced, pounded, and pierced enough that they died. The clerics in the group then proceeded to use up the remainder of their healing getting the group back up to some semblance of adventuring standard. Now it was time to explore the flowering plants within.

Fire Flower (art from Harold the Halflings Herbology Handbook, by Deep Dungeon Games)

The druid, clerics, wizard, half-elf, and dwarf, put their heads together to identify these plants. The first exotic plant they found was Fire Flower. This 6 foot tall flower can be used by the right person to make a person immune to the heat of fire for a short time. Those who work the forge tend to use this plant to allow them to work longer without fear of injury. Endur happens to be a worshiper and smith of the Celtic God of the forge – Goibniu, and Homonoea is a dragonslayer who can craft items made from a dragon. Both were going to benefit from this plant as they gained levels and improved their smithing skills. Additionally, the flower’s stalks are quite sturdy, and when spears and javelins are made from them they can be thrown twice their normal distance.

Dragon’s Bloom (art from Harold the Halflings Herbology Handbook, by Deep Dungeon Games)

Next was Dragon’s Blume. Homonoea perked up again. The center orb of this flower glows in the presence of dragons (very useful in the Dragonclaw Barony where dragons are known to exist). With the properly skilled person, the petals of the flowers can be brewed to make potions that provide magical resistance to various elements.

Daydreamer’s Slumber (art from Harold the Halflings Herbology Handbook, by Deep Dungeon Games)

Daydreamer’s Slumber was another discovery in this greenhouse. Barbarians and Rangers are aware that this is a lifesaving source of purified water. It can also be brewed to make a powerful tea that supposedly can make one’s mind pure and unable to lie (it is sometimes used during important diplomatic negotiations by nobles when the stakes are high). Finally, it can be ground into a paste which can induce sleep.

The group decided at this point to head back to the abandoned warehouse where they had fought the harpy in the previous game session (and where they are storing their mounts, and also where the other members of the group are remaining to look after them – that’s my typical policy when players can’t make a game session – we simply say they are looking after the mounts and carts while the others adventure). As they camped for the evening, some brewed up a little daydreamer’s slumber to test out its truth-telling properties. It was during this role-playing interlude that several characters spoke the truth about what they felt about each other (all very encouraging and up-lifting!), and these group members bonded over the experience. The night went by peacefully.

The next morning they headed to the larger west greenhouse. Magnus had heard bees there the previous day and this morning they saw 6, four were resting on the roof with pollen packets on their legs ready to fly off, and two more getting their fill within. The characters waited patiently and the bees eventually flew off.

Upon entering this greenhouse they found some small trees, as well as more hanging plants from the bars crossing the top. They also found more exotic plants, this time fruiting vegetation.

Dwarven Hug (art from Harold the Halflings Herbology Handbook, by Deep Dungeon Games)

One of the hanging plants was Dwarven Hug. If this is added to molten metal during forging, it can cause the weapon being made to either produce extra damage, increased range, and perhaps even elemental enhancement! This was again something Endur and Homonoea were excited about.

All in all, the group found the plants I detailed above, as well as plants named False Duke (superstition says that it protects a person wearing this flower from mortal weapons), Ramar (makes a fruity wine, can fertilize land, and can add fragrance to fires and candles), Ipe (can be woven into baskets and sleeping pads, but also has limited medicinal use removing minor poisons. Elves also use it as a paper for their books and writings), Pionia Bulbs (this pulpy fruit makes a great side dish or baked desert. It can also be used in the manufacture of health potions and similar creations).

The group next entered a building across the street from the greenhouses which seemed to be where the local law enforcer had once been located. The walls of the building outside and in were covered in vines. The group entered and Endur “the thick” wondered if there was a panel in the floor (even though this village had been built near a swamp and having cellars was not a wise idea since it would be filled with murky swamp water). But Endur “the thick” did find a floor panel! He began tearing it up (the rotted planks broke off in his hand, so this took some time). They also noticed a hatch in the ceiling that would lead up to a small loft between the ceiling and the soggy thatched roof above. Magnus took a look up a ladder and noticed a chest with wizard markings. Homonoea was in the corner of the room while this was going on when interior vines on the ceiling and wall moved to capture and constrict her, lifting her off the ground. She was immobilized. Although she was a strong dragonslayer and giant killer, her checks to break free could not beat the this powerful plants strength. The characters dropped what they were doing and went to free her. As the rounds went on she was constricted to unconsciousness, and was likely one round away from being constricted to death by this assassin vine before the axes and hammers from her friends managed to kill it. This was a very close call!

But Eliam would say that exploring this building was worth it, for casting detect magic on the chest he could tell that there was magic within it (scrolls and a potion), and the cover had a necromancy magical barrier on it. Throwing some of the living vines on the chest caused them to age. They threw living vines on the chest several times before they could sense the magic fading. Finally, Eliam chose to touch it (he was a half-elf, so he guessed that any aging would have less of an effect on him), he failed his saving throw and discovered he got one year younger! This was a most peculiar magical trap! Inside were long lost moderate and higher level wizard scrolls that would allow him to summon watery elemental guardians to defend him, and another where if he could scrape off a piece of flesh from a living creature, he would be able to transform himself into that type of creature for a short period of time!

This was deemed a good time to stop the game session and the three players and myself enjoyed a relaxed conversation for what ended up being more than an hour after our normal stop point! My Tuesday Barrowmaze game is now in-person, and this Dragonclaw Barony game is played with people throughout North America and Europe, and thus will remain remote, but we have a great rapport, and with their energy and enthusiasm, I have been very pleased to introduce some new and very different ideas into this campaign to keep this group of mostly old-school players on their toes and hopefully give them experiences they haven’t had in their decades of gaming!