Prior to Boccob’s Barge’s departure, half-a-dozen armored men marched up to the dock. Brother Maynard from the Pantheist Temple of Tyr led them. The senior priest told Straxius and three of his men were prepared to travel with the crew on their quest to deal with the Wand of Orcus. The extra two men were just there to carry their effects. They loaded the priests on the ship and were on their way.
The journey through Realmspace, into the Flow, and into Greyspace was uneventful for once. Though the voyage took several weeks, the gods of travel were with them. As they crossed the void to Oerth, Straxius consulted his charts to find Lake Quag and Flinterlord Island.
As they approached, they saw there was a dock in the crook of the dogleg-shaped island. Boccob’s Barge set down in the water of Lake Quag and came to rest at the dock. Straxius, Sumner, Veya, Flint, Zinniana, and Kagark disembarked and approached a shack at the end of the dock. A lone dwarf was inside sleeping.
Flint roused the dwarf and learned the domicile of Dalshar Stormstone was but a few miles inland. They needed only to follow the road. After about twenty minutes of walking, they spotted movement through the grassy hills in the distance. Zinniana sent her raven, Nevermore to investigate, but by the time the bird arrived, there was nothing to see.
They continued their journey, but were interrupted by an armor-plated beast bursting from the ground. The bulette attacked savagely, but forewarning of its attack allowed Straxius and Sumner to take to the air with fly spells. They blasted the landshark from above while the rest engaged it in melee. A judicious use of hold monster stopped it in its tracks and they put it down.
Zinniana remembered something about bulettes having indigestible treasures in their gizzards, so she dove in with a knife and managed to recover a corroded bone scroll tube and four small gemstones. After cleaning up a bit, they continued their walk to Dalshar’s stronghold. A few more hours of walking and they crested a hill to see a small fortified building under siege.
Dwarves held off half-a-dozen attacking bugbears led by a burly bugbear riding a wyvern. The crew made some quick plans, then rushed to help. Kagark and Veya concentrated on helping the dwarves while the rest worked on bringing down the wyvern.
The battle raged and the wyvern and its rider savaged Sumner, causing the minotaur’s fly spell to fail. He fell to the ground, forced to feign death long enough to quaff a potion. In time, however, the crew of Boccob’s Barge and the dwarves fought off the bugbears and slew them.
The dwarven female leading the defenders thank them for their intervention and introduced herself as Dalshar Stormstone. She invited them in for a celebratory feast. During the celebration, she revealed she was once served on a spelljammer under Herzog, until she led a mutiny against his poor leadership and deposed him as captain. She was pleased he seemed to harbor no ill feelings and promised to discuss trade in the morning.
With bellies full of roasted pork and ale, the officers of Boccob’s Barge stayed the night in Stormstone Stronghold.
After several weeks of pulling my punches with encounter design, as I tried to get a handle on just what the PCs capabilities were, I finally put forth a real challenge. The bulette was an appetizer, so to speak, the real challenge was half-a-dozen bugbears with a bugbear leader riding a wyvern. According to an online encounter calculator I found, this was rated to be a “deadly” encounter. I didn’t take into account the helping dwarves, but their contribution, frankly, was minimal (as it should be, since this is not their story). I was confident that the PCs could handle it; one thing I’ve learned over the years is that online encounter calculations can’t take into account clever tactics and PCs can easily punch above their weight. The randomness of dice rolls can affect that, too. The online calculators can be a good place to start, but shouldn’t be relied upon as the end-all-be-all of encounter design.
And now that they’re on the World of Greyhawk, I could really lean on the nostalgia button hard, so I choose to indulge…