Again, we were missing the same two players this week. But they had sufficient strength, with their horses and many hunting dogs, to be comfortable exploring around the inlet to the north of Earthstrike. They already explored the inlet to the south, where the palisade of wolf-riding green men was.
They rounded the shores of the inlet and crossed two rivers. Each river had the pylons of an old stone bridge, which they used as support for sapling-bridges so they wouldn’t have to ford the river. Around this time they left the last scraps of the deciduous maple and oak forest behind and entered a mostly redwood and pine forest. They turned back east at the end of the inlet and hugged the coast.
The coast here was overgrown bluff, and the trail was very close to the edge. At one point they fought off a pair of bears that had a cave on the trail. A steep hillside above, a narrow path, and a drop-off to the waves below made for difficult fighting.
Later they came upon a tree with roots grown over the path to form a cage, with scraps of cloth and leather stretched on the outside. A dog sent up ahead found no danger. Inside it was a small hovel, with a dugout cave into the hillside some ways for storage and a cot. It would have been a cheery little campsite if cleaned up. But they pressed on.
The forested coast gave way to grasslands, and inland they saw a great gravel plain of perfectly round boulders and stones. They continued until the coast turned north at the end of the inlet, and to the north their explorer in bird-form found a desert of ashes. They were hoping for more civilized lands, but I reminded them after they asked that this is the frontier. The only known town is Earthstrike.
On their way back they found a fishing village on the coast of the grasslands. While exploring therein they were attacked by great mantis-like insects burrowing from below. At one point, a larger one spit up two globs of acid, one toward a dog and later toward an adventurer. Both missed, luckily. The larger specimen fled once severely injured, but they declined to venture into the burrows.
The trip back home was uneventful, during which they decided to travel normally instead of searching as is their custom. We actually had 14 days in a row, 3 rolls per day, of no wandering monsters.
When they arrived back at the Chateau D’ Awesome, they saw dozens of Giant Black Squirrels fleeing over the walls from the inside. Their supplies and equipment were strewn about and chewed, but there was little actual loss.
Later, on the way to Earthstrike, their hunter encountered a deer with antlers of shining gold, hooves of burnished bronze, and a clean white coat. He gave chase, and the deer led him along until nightfall. He became quite lost, and eventually found his way to Earthstrike by turning into an owl, finding a coastline, and making some guesses.
They were gone in total almost two months, their longest expedition to date.
This session I decided to go back to using party-initiative. That is, the party rolls and the referee rolls, and the winning side goes first. This encourages organized play – little plans every round. It also helps keep players involved rather than zoning out when it’s someone else’s turn. I read a blog post about this the other day but now I can’t find it. So if anyone remembers where it is, I’ll link it here.