My players enjoyed the first session so much they asked me to come back and continue the adventure. Since Fairmeadow Fair is usually a one-shot, we didn’t talk about character backgrounds, and I didn’t build the world much past the town and the surrounding fields. We spent the first part of the session brainstorming about those things.
Gleador is from the Sapphire Islands and was exiled for showing Lucia a secret ritual. This means that the Sapphire Islands have an organization of Druids that have secret rituals and can exile people. The Sapphire Islands are in the south and are more tropical than the plains and forests surrounding Fairmeadow. Lucia & Gleador are heading north through this region to reach the Great Forest, home of the Elves, where Gleador hopes he can somehow redeem himself. The central plains are a loose group of city-states with nominal allegiance to a central government that isn’t relevant to most people daily lives. Each city-state sends a representative to high council, which elects a leader. The current leader of the council is a queen. We will fill in the details of Gleador’s exile, the ritual, and what he must do to be restored at a later time, as they become relevant.
Lucia attended a Paladin Academy, so there must be a number of Paladins out there, enough to sustain a school. Gleador owes Lucia some sort of debt.
Gleador: Why would I owe you a debt?
Lucia: Because I’m so cool.
When we last left our heroes, they just returned to The Brace Of Pigs tavern with the special festival wine, and everyone in the crowded tavern is celebrating. Every room in The Brace of Pigs was reserved long before the festival, but a couple is willing find other accommodations and let Gleador and Lucia have their room as a gift for saving the day. Fairmeadow has a tradition of hospitality, where people open their homes to travelers, especially during the fair when the two inns can’t contain all the visitors. Guests are given a sturdy token, big enough to fit in own hand, with a unique shape, pattern, or image on it. This token matches a placard set over the door of the house, so they can recognize the place they are staying. Bill Glazer offers his token to our heroes. He’s a glassblower & lives with his parents, Fred & Eliza. Their token is beautiful multi-colored glass in a metal frame. Our heroes choose to stay with the Glazers and let the other couple keep their room.
The tavern is bustling, because it’s the supper rush the night before the festival begins. Gleador looks around to see what’s happening. Ferdinand is excited to be accepted instead of an outcast. He’s had a few drinks and is arm-wrestling all comers. He’s pretty strong in elf form, so he’s winning for now, but he’s not so good at self-control and may “hulk out” if he faces stiff competition. There’s a table in the back where a bard (a regional celebrity) is holding forth, telling stories to the delight of his entourage and fans. Bards are entertaining and also bring stories from far-off places. There’s also a kid wandering from table to table, apparently not with anyone. As he passes our heroes’ table, Gleador notices that his coin purse is missing!
Gleador alerts Lucia to the theft. Lucia keeps her purse inside her armor, so she’s fine. She grabs for the kid but only gets his cloak, which drops to the floor with a heavy jingle of many coin purses. Gleador leaps over the table, tackles the kid, and knocks the barstool out from under a large man at the bar. Lucia takes the cloak to Hobert the barkeep and asks him to return the purses, since he knows everyone. Gleador is trying to keep a hold of the kid and calm the drunk man he knocked over, but it’s not going well. Lucia comes over and tries to take the kid from Gleador. As they scramble and claw at each other, the kid’s hand lands on the hilt of Lucia’s sword! She can secure the kid or her sword, not both. She has a plan, so she secures her sword and lets the kid escape. He runs out the door past Gleador, who has managed to knock the drunk man over a second time. Gleador plays the bar-fight trump card and yells, “A round for everyone, barkeep!” The drunk man is won over by Gleador’s generosity.
People come up to order drinks are are surprised to receive their coin purses as well! Lucia retrieves thief’s cloak from Hobert and gives it to Gleador so he can tell the local dogs to track the thief by scent. The two dogs (Ralphie and Jollifer) agree, but demand Lucia’s drink. She get a drink just like everyone else, but her vow of temperance means she’s not allowed to drink it. She complies, but doesn’t like the reminder of the fun she’s not allowed to have.
A lackey from the Bard’s table gets a whole tray of drinks for the Bard and his entourage. The Bard orders a fancy, expensive drink, and when it arrives, he salutes Gleador with it (like Leo in Great Gatsby). Gleador comes over and introduces himself. The Bard’s name is Dandelion, and he brags about himself. Gleador motions for Lucia to come over and use her Charisma on him. Lucia’s not sure what he’s implying. Paladins from Lucia’s academy are not barrred from romance, but she herself is single. Instead of flirting she is a charming conversationalist and impresses Dandelion with her wide travels. Of course he turns the conversation back to himself and his travels.
Samantha (the witch whose herbs were stolen to make Hobert’s wine) sees Lucia chatting with Dandelion and pulls her aside. Samantha warns her to avoid Dandelion, as one of Samantha’s recent customers had some nasty things to say about him. (Samantha sells potions, herbs, and components useful for magic and alchemy, so Hobert’s theft was especially unnecessary.) Lucia wants more details, but Samantha hesitates, because her customers trust her to keep their secrets. She draws a magical seal on her palm, thumb & index finger. If Lucia will shake her hand and accept a spell of secrecy, she will tell her what she knows. Lucia doesn’t know the consequences for breaking this unfamiliar spell, so she declines, saying she’ll respect Samantha’s professional courtesy.
Bill Glazer has definitely had enough, so Gleador and Lucia leave the Brace of Pigs to walk home with him. It’s nighttime now. The dogs return with a report on the thief’s trail. Gleador steps away so he can talk to the dogs without letting Bill know his secret. The dogs give directions to the house the thief entered, and describe the black, grey, and light grey symbol over the door. Gleador asks them to stake out the house overnight, but the dogs decline. Too much work. Not enough food.
Lucia and Bill continue to walk along, but two hooded figures emerge from the shadows ahead and block their path. “You’ve cost us a lot of money! We want it back!” says the shorter figure. Lucia says she doesn’t have the money, and that Bill is not involved. The ruffians have a specific grudge against our heroes and aren’t ruthless leave-no-witnesses mercenaries, so they give Bill a shove and tell him to get lost. Lucia draws her sword and shouts “Let me pass” in her most commanding Paladin voice. One ruffian is shaken by her command and freezes, but the other (a Dwarven woman) leaps at Lucia with a club. She tries to knock Lucia’s sword aside and tackle her, but Lucia stands firm and the sword blade jams into the gnarled club, locking the weapons together. Lucia tries to disarm the ruffian but ends up flinging both their weapons away. Gleador hears the commotion and turns into a panther. The second ruffian, already shaken, hears a rumbling growl and sees green retinas flash in the darkness. She yells, “I’m sorry, Opal!” and flees. Opal, the Dwarven woman engaged with Lucia, attempts to throw her cloak over Lucia’s face to get an opening for escape. Lucia catches the whirling cape and moves with it. The combatants switch places and the cloak flutters to the ground beside them. Lucia is now between Opal and her fleeing comrade, but Opal is closer to the weapons on the ground. As the two wonder how to react to this new situation, Gleador pounces from the shadows, knocking Opal flat!
It’s surprisingly difficult to knock a Dwarf over, but panthers are very strong. Gleador is on top of her, big paws on her chest, claws extended just enough to touch her leather tunic. Opal has never seen a panther before, so she does not recognize the invitation to surrender. She panics, screams, and draws the dagger at her belt. Gleador moves one paw back to swat the dagger out of her hand before it finds his belly. The dagger goes flying, but both of their arms are now bleeding. The commotion has rousee people in the surrounding houses. Candles are lit and heads pop out of upper windows. Lucia retrieves her sword and points it at Gleador, “Back! Back, foul beast!” she says. Gleador understands her implication and vanishes into the shadows. The general populace doesn’t need to know that the Paladin is friends with monsters. Two neighbors come out of their homes. Lucia “helps” Opal up and keeps a tight grip on her arm. One neighbor wants to pursue the beast with his improvised weapon. Another is ready to care for any injuries. Lucia tells the neighbors that she should take Opal home and make sure she’s alright. Opal does not want to be alone in Lucia’s power, but can’t openly resist lest it be revealed that she attacked Lucia. Gleador returns as an Elf, yelling about a strange beast that ran past him. His arm is still bleeding where Opal’s dagger caught him, so he keeps that arm under his cloak. Everyone is talking over each other about what to do and our heroes end up on the wrong side of the consensus. The armed neighbor is hustling Lucia and Gleador off to chase the dangerous beast, while the kindly neighbor is taking Opal inside to tend bandage her claw wound. Insisting would be suspicious, but our heroes are clever and subtle. Gleador says, “Get your cloak, Lucia, and let’s go” Lucia picks up Opal’s cloak, so they now have her scent. They follow the armed neighbor on his futile search for the strange beast.
We ran out of time and had to stop there. As a GM, I am very proud of my players for creating and managing such complex social situations. The last scene, with everyone hiding their intentions and relationships and choosing words that meant different things to different people, was so tense and so fun! I’d be proud of that if I wrote it in a story, and they improvised it. I am eager to see what they come up with in our next session.