There’s been a bit of a shakeup in the Alfheim group as of late. The goblin has finals, and the fighter has a conflicting schedule with a new job, but we got a caster back and have a new fighter player. The abbey-monk was unable to make it to this session, so we had Cleric, new fighter, mage and goblin thief.
First we had to get a few things out of the way. Old fighter who may not be rejoining us woke up in the pre-dawn hours, mumbling incoherently about a ghostly blue stag with more points on its antlers than he’d ever seen, grabs his stuff and goes running after it. This is a workable in-game explanation for his absence because said fighter was exiled to Alfheim for poaching deer in the imperial reserve and was also kind of crazy. Goblin who is busy with finals has been completely out of sorts after having put on Caelden’s crown in the catacomb beneath Law’s End. After establishing this, I hurry everyone along back to town so the new member of the group can be brought in.
The party left Alfort in mediocre shape and returned to find that things had gotten worse. Everyone was dour, down in the dumps, and just seemed beat. As though the life had been drained out of them. Maybe too subtle? But there’s plenty of time for the gang to figure out what’s really up. The party ran into the crazy old bluesman at the inn, who seemingly pulled the Crown of Caelden out of thin air, laughed, and warned them that they’d better get it out of Alfheim, because the king was looking for it. This had the party pretty freaked. They are still unsure whether the bluesman is a real person or not or some sort of evil ghost apparition or illusion of the elves. But they do know that dudes who can be found playing their lute down at the crossroads in the middle of a ruined elven empire late at night are probably bad news.
After this brief encounter, the party spent an interminable amount of time trying to figure out what to do with the Crown. Part of this was my fault, because I’d built it up just enough that the players overestimated its significance to both the King and to the story. And that kind of encouraged me to run with it.
Their initial inclination to give it to Richmond was put aside quickly after the incident with the bluesman. Having it made them incredibly paranoid; you’d’ve thought it was the One Ring or something based on how they went about things. Their first idea was to try to make a replica of it (ostensibly to try to pass off to Richmond). There was a two-fold problem with this plan: Alfort didn’t have a goldsmith and the crown was a masterwork that had been intricately carved with Bosch-like scenes and had life-like screaming faces on its points. It would take at least 6 months for a master goldsmith to come up with even a passable facsimile.
The next option the party went for was to try to destroy the crown. The goblin thief failed to hit it with his mace; each time tried, it would stop a few inches short and he would hear “Hail, master” in his head (except for when he got a natural 20 later during the second attempt, I let him get a dent in, and his cursed mace said “Forgive me master”). The cleric managed to smack it with his silver mace. “You hit it. Your head is filled with a thousand screaming voices.” The cleric falls to the floor (his choice, not my ruling). I told them they managed to put a pretty solid dent in it. The mage takes it to the blacksmith and after some dubious negotiations convinces the smith to let him use the hammer and anvil to smash the thing. He takes a few whacks at it -being crazy- just to listen to the screams. He manages to hammer it into a pancake and brings it back to the inn, where the cleric is still lying on the floor (“am I still on the floor?” “I don’t know, do you want to still be on the floor? Everyone in the inn is looking at you guys like you’re crazy.”)
I decide to ratchet things up a notch while they’re trying to decide what to do with the ruined crown. I tell them that it’s starting to slowly resume its original shape like something out of a David Lynch movie. They beat and bash at it more, thoroughly ruining the table (which the cleric generously paid for). They ultimately decide that they needed to find some way to sink it in the sea (though there were some game-derailing ideas floated that would’ve turned things into a quest for a non-existent Mt. Doom), so made a mold to encase it in lead.
The cleric took some time to speak with the Querillite priests, who informed him that they’ve sent for warrior priests to come to the aid of the land. The players mistook the information about escape tunnels out of the city from below the chapel as a new dungeon, but I’ll let them figure that one out on their own. The fighter wanted to do a training montage type thing, so he went to the parade/training ground where he found the guards to be in an incredibly lax state. He was approached by a lieutenant who told him about the situation, with several guards having abandoned their posts, going awol and needing some sort of leadership to whip things back into shape. Also, he hooked him with the stories of the zombie cows that had been wandering into the nearby farmlands and said he could see if there might be some reward for helping take care of it. Finally, the goblin thief and mage asked about possible travel by boat either up the coast or to Estport, but none of the little fishing skiffs were particularly sea-worthy, nor did any of the fishers know when abouts the next real ship would be by.
Continued in part 2, when the party has a massive encounter with undead elves.