Session 0: The Crucible of Freya, part 1
1. The Road to Fairhill
Day 1 (mid March)
Four travelers set out on the road to the large city known as Bard’s Gate, traveling together due to the safety of numbers and because many of them share a common goal: the Dungeon of Rappan Athuk. These brave souls include:
Richard the Glorious, a Paladin of Mitra, the sun god. Lives to bring glory to his god and generally being a glorious dick.
Marcus Ardensman, a Swashbuckling Cavalier from the Yobiac Vale, to the south and pledged to help protect civilized lands from the dangers of the wilderness. Skilled with a Kukri. Has a donkey.
Falorak, an Elven Ranger who has spent much time underground treasure hunting. Master at the art of throwing weapons, generally competent at life.
Gabrielle Bjorkson, a Barbarian they picked up along the way who wants to bring glory to his god, Gabe the Dog. Uses a large hammer known as an “Earth Breaker”.
The story begins with these travelers near Fairhill, a small village along the way to Bard’s Gate, in the region known as the Stoneheart Valley.
Falorak comments on the sun being too bright, a comment that naturally annoys the sun god worshipping Richard. But that is nothing compared to Gabrielle, who describes his interests as drinking, drinking, and bringing glory to his god Gabe. Richard, who is naturally quite learned in theology, has never heard of Gabe. As this sounds suspiciously like heresy, Richard exchanges some words with Gabrielle:
“What is more powerful, a dog, or a sun”.
Gabrielle’s answer to this deeply philosophical question should be obvious.
Richard the Glorious: "Right. Of course. I was just... Put off by the fact he worships a small, fluffy dog."
Falorak: "Some of us worship not but the thrill of spelunking, my friend."
This banter is soon interrupted when Gabe sees in the distance, in the hillside, three humanoids about to fire arrows. His warning allows the group to avoid the hail of arrows. Falorak closes the distance first, and upon getting a closer look, figures out that these creatures that are attacking them are Orcs! He throws a dagger at the creatures. Richard uses his wrist launcher-fired dart, because yes, this Paladin has a wrist launcher (though sadly the dart misses). Gabe charges into battle, and manages to completely miss the orcs due to his unfocused nature.
Richard the Glorious: "Gabrielle - Stop swinging like a mad jellyfish and hit something!"
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "NO! I AM COMMANDED TO SWING LIKE A MAD jellyfish!"
Richard the Glorious: "WELL- WELL SWING LIKE A MAD jellyfish, BUT ACCURATELY."
As the two argue and Gabe takes some heavy damage from a battleaxe, Falorak decapitates his orc with style. Marcus creeps towards the battle cautiously, finally closing in and swiping at an orc with two efficient Kukri slices. It retreats, injured, and Falorak takes it out.
Richard the Glorious: "I can't help but feel that someone's a bit more experienced in killing humanoids."
Marcus: "Well I'm just glad we're holding up in combat this well after traveling for so long. The road is often the most dangerous enemy."
Falorak yanks his Machete from the Orc, blood splattering across his face. He turns towards the remaining vestiges of combat.
However, the final orc is caught between a spike and a hammer, so to speak. Richard unleashes his might upon the orc, wrecking it, but it still barely survives, only to be fully smashed by Gabrielle’s silver hammer- the first attack that was successful for the barbarian.
Gabrielle Bjorkson smashes his hammer into the orc's head
Gabrielle Bjorkson continues to smash the hammer into the orc's body over and over again
Gabrielle Bjorkson smashes it into the corpse on the floor until it is nothing more than a red mushy pile of flesh, bone, and organs
Richard the Glorious blinks.
Gabrielle Bjorkson sighs contentedly. "Better now."
Richard the Glorious: "Uh."
Richard the Glorious wipes blood off of helmet
Falorak: "Depths below Gabrielle, was that necessary?"
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "...yes."
"He hit me. I needed to hit him back."
Falorak: "They may be evil bu-"
Gabrielle Bjorkson makes the equivalent of an -w- face.
Marcus: "As much as I hate to see such brutish methods employed by my fellows, I would hate to see one of those things escape even more."
Richard the Glorious: "I'm... Honestly concerned."
"Mitra guide me."
Falorak shrugs and continues rummaging through the corpse of the Orc, only stopping to turn around and say "One of you, please remove my dagger from the beheaded Orc and return to me."
Gabrielle Bjorkson does exactly that.
Having survived their first battle of significance, they collect the gear the Orcs were wearing, and Gabrielle picks up the trail… leading slightly to the northwest, near Fairhill. The group decides to travel to Fairhill, instead of going after the orcs. A reasonable decision, given they are tired from the long journey and the battle. Richard channels the power of his faith to heal Gabrielle’s wounds, and the party continues on…
2. A God Is Born
Approximately 4:00 PM
The group enters Fairhill, and upon entering are greeted by a few guards, led by a man with no right hand, carrying a bastard sword. The man demands the party introduce themselves and explain what they are doing. Richard, who is at the front, answers as “Richard Blackstone of the Order of Mitra”. I’m not going to lie I missed everyone else’s introductions because it happened like lightning, but it was this first introduction that impressed the guard. (Gabrielle also manages to avoid completely embarrassing the party when he speaks, thanks to being on painkillers.) The captain of the guard softens his inquiries, paying respects to the obvious Paladin of Mitra before him.
It is worth noting at this point that Mitra is one of three major gods in this world of the Lawful Good alignment. Mitra is the youngest of the three, having waxed in power as Thyr and Miur waned in power, but all three gods are considered to be on good terms, allies against the forces of evil.
The group reports the orc attack to Baran, who explains that the orcs have been attacking the region, doing horrible things to a nearby farm. These orcs are considered a new presence in the region, only being detected in the last week. After some discussion, Baran suggests the group pay respects to the Temple of Freya, and the party enters the town. [Note to my players: I didn’t realize at this point the minor detail that it’s Baran that tells the party where the orcs are located later, so at this point Baran had no idea where the orcs were! I handwaved it later in the session as HE FIGURED OUT THEIR LOCATION FAST, but that was a minor continuity error.]
At this point the party splits up, with Falorak and Marcus bartering and selling the loot they got from the fight with the orcs, while Richard and Gabrielle head to the Temple.
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "Psst...who's Freya? What's her deal?"
Richard the Glorious: "Don't. Just... Just don't."
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "Bork."
Richard the Glorious: "Do not ask anyone that when we're at the church. 'Tis sacred ground."
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "So no speaky. Got it. I know how to waggle hares."
Richard the Glorious: "If you must know, Freya is the god of love and fertility."
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "Oh. I am okay with this."
Richard the Glorious: "And I swear to god I will pump more healing into you to speak like a normal person. God. Non plural. My god."
They come to a set of shrines, around a much larger church. One of the shrines is a shrine to Bowbe, the God of Barbarians. Richard mentions that he doesn’t see Gabrielle’s Gabe deity among the shrines. Gabrielle responds by saying that Gabe is one of the hunting dogs of Bowbe. Then something glorious happens, as Richard takes a second look at the shrine….
Richard the Glorious squints
Richard the Glorious: "...You're fudge kidding me."
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "Oh, a shrine to Bowbe. My dog god was one of Bowbe's hunting hounds."
"There he is. See!"
Gabrielle Bjorkson points at the porcelain dog.
Richard the Glorious: "I swear to the gods above, and all that's holy."
"This is the dumbest revelation I have ever had."
Gabrielle Bjorkson: "Surely you ask why I worship Gabe and not Bowbe. Because of eternal borks. That is all."
Richard the Glorious: "No. No. You stay here and pray to your fffff-FORNICATING DOG... And I'll go make offerings to Freya."
Gabrielle proceeds to sit down and make barking noises. In a chant. As Richard watches speechlessly, a large man comes out of the church of Freya. Big, muscular, bald, and wearing a spiked gauntlet, he sits down next to Gabrielle… and starts to bark as well.
Richard screams internally.