Sunday, April 30, 2023

In Fair Cuccagna Session 21: First Steps in a Larger World

Miles and miles of manicured garden

Provisions - Off into the "Wilderness" - Thoughts on Rangers - A Bed of Soft Grass - A Village Divided - A Second Campsite - Torches in the Night - A Debate - The Peril of Facing Wizards - Into the Hills - ON Gnoles - A Tree of Strange Aspect - Plans Made but Not Executed

Characters Present
Jules Mozarin, Averois Conjuror
Emmelot, Averois Seer
Maglor, Changeling Seer/Warrior (Determined this session to be Averois)
Prestidigitorio, Karslish Medium (Though he claims to be a local)
Lord Saurr, the Crowned Cat of Karse, Grimalkin

7 men-at-arms (non-classed fighting men)
6 porters/linkmen
Tomantha Peggifer Shones, Karslish Medium in the service of Lord Saurr
Baldassare, Cuccagnan Seer and apparentice to Jules Mozarin

  • This week the party eschewed returning to the manse of Prospero the Blue and instead sought to make their way into the interior of the island. Their goal was the mysterious House of the Gnoles, which Lord Saurr had earlier heard was the site of several unsuccessful break ins.
  • Jules and Prestidgitorio debated the best methods for buying provisions, discussions of herding goats and using goat milk to feed the large number of hirelings the party possesses, but ultimately they decided on purchasing a large number of normal rations.
  • Emmelot saw to the purchase of two wagons and two teams of 4 draft horses to pull them, hoping to make the trip easier and to provide transportation for the copious amounts of precious lucre they hope to gain in raiding the gnoles.
  • Lord Saurr purchased a large amount of rope.
  • After these were all purchased the party set out and found that the manicured gardens of the wizards of Cuccagna stretch for as far as the eye can see. Only occasional shifts in style of garden served to break up the monotony for those characters more used to the wilds of the continent.
  •  Prestidigitorio wondered if a ranger would be useful at all in such an environment, though it should be noted that despite the gardens and occasional appearances of out buildings and sheds, they saw not a soul on the twisting paths.
  • Emmelot, being the most accustomed to greenery, was able to find them an area of especially downy grass for them to sleep their first night. This they did without incident. 
  • The next morning they awoke and noticed two gleaming white towers about a hex away and decided to make their way to them.
  • Betwixt the towers was a village where the manicured gardens gave way to fields of barley, olive orchards and vineyards.
  • The party noticed that the inhabitants of this village were dressed either in all red or all blue. At first they took comfort in the fact that these people seemed to be mixed among the fields, meaning that at least they weren't "racist;" however, they soon discovered something very odd about the inhabitants.
  • Calling out to one they quickly found him abrasive but at least somewhat willing to help; however, after they had spoken a few words with him a seemingly identical man in the opposite color came up and asked who they were speaking to. This led to some confusion as the party attempted to communicate with both identical men who seemed unable to perceive each other in any way. Prestidigitorio lamented that this is a thing that belonged more to the future/past than to the island's breed of strangeness.
  • This strange encoutner turned stranger still when the two men were asked to draw a map to the house of the gnoles and, coming forward to do so, they clipped into each other in a hideously uncanny way - each as though the other was made out of nothing at all. Despite this they still were both able to draw in the dirt (though annoyingly close to each other such as to make the map somewhat difficult to read), meaning that they likely were made of solid matter. Curious.
  • When asked where their master lived, they each indicated a separate tower - the conical rooves of which matched their attire. 
  • The party then tried to follow the map, heading southeast and again having to find a place to camp. They set up watches with the Crowned Cat of Karse taking the middle watch due to his uncanny night vision.
  • In the night he saw, several miles distant and across the strangely rolling gardens, a troop of horsed men - he wagered about 20 in number - carrying torches and heading towards the strange village which they had visited that day.
  • He immediately awoke his companions to discuss what to do, fearing these men were up to no good and that innocent villagers would suffer. The general counsel of the other characters was that the intent of the men-a-horse was unknown, and while they had a party in similar size it would likely deplete precious resources needed to steal from the gnoles. As such Lord Saurr reluctantly relinquished his watch and went to bed.
  • During his watch, Maglor saw great explosions and heard great peels of strange thunder from the direction of the village. Soon after he saw a much smaller band of horsemen slinking way. Lord Saurr, when told of this later, commented that he should've known the wizards over the village would be puissant enough to take care of such raiders.
  • They then rode their wagons up from the gardens and into the scrubby hills of Cuccagna, and saw that the land was quite arid with mostly bushes and the occasional lone and forsaken tree.
  • Lord Saurr, who seemed knowledgeable in the ways of gnoles, said that they may seek to watch them through a tunnel system which connected the trees.
  • This prompted a debate on the nature of gnoles, with Prestidigiatorio, who claimed to be a local, stating that they are men with the heads of hyenas, while Lord Saurr said they are more like "an artichoke made from India rubber." None could say who was right, except the referee.*
  • In the meantime Emmelot inspected a nearby tree and found it, indeed, came with two little eye holes for peeking and a door granting egress to a sheer tunnel that descended into the earth.
  • While debate initially covered how one descend into the hole, it quickly turned to what kind of tactics the party should adopt more generally. Lord Saurr suggested at first that he should go and attempt to sell them rope** while the party navigated the tunnels beneath and took them by surprise. Maglor suggested this was maybe not the wises course of action but the inverse - where the party approached in the open and Lord Saurr attempted to sneak in with his greater stealth and dark vision - might be more amicable.
  • However, seeing the whitewashed walls of the  house several miles distant, it was realized by all that leaving for the house now would make them arrive sometime after dark - when the gnoles would likely have an increased advantage. Pondering this, we agreed to pause the game and make new plans for next week.

* She did, in fact, confirm that they didn't have hyena heads.

** Lord Saurr's player insisted that it was a coincidence that he had bought so much rope, and that it was more about the cheapness and usefulness of rope in wilderness settings.

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