The party had to find its way back to Headwaters, which they did after negotiating with the giant spiders they encountered at the river in the jungle they had lost themselves in. Of note, giant spiders in my world are intelligent, can speak and have a weakness for elf flesh. This, the players took advantage of and quickly got information as to the location of the "stinking rotten paladins" at Headwaters and then proceeded to feed the spider to "The Bag" as it is now referred to by the party (other wise known as the Bag of Holding with a dragon-kin inside). After re-orienting themselves, in was quite easy to follow the river into Headwaters.
Unfortunately, the town was being attacked by an small undead army of skeletons, led by a wraith and a pair of tentacled undead the party had previously encountered underneath Trisagia's city of the dead. The undead split their forces and attacked the two main strongholds of the paladins — a keep and a watchtower. Dn. Goram also spotted a small group moving towards the Church. Suspecting that the main assault by the skeletons might be a ruse, the party split up. Dn. Goram and Hamlen went to help defend the tower and keep, and the rest of the party went to the Church in order to see what was going on there.
Hamlen and Dn. Goram were able to fairly easily gut the main assault. Dn. Goram paved the way through the skeletons, automatically disrupting several a round with the help of some magic items, in order to free up his brother who charged the higher HD undead with his sword Liberator.
In the meantime, the rest of the party (minus their two highest level members) found themselves face to face with a pair of ogres and a golden masked magic user interrogating Fr. Valinor, the local priest. Afraid that they did not have the ability to go toe to toe with these three foes, they set about doing a quick strike to free Fr. Valinor and then high tail it until bigger guns could be brought to bear (I was very pleased that "run away" had finally entered the vocabulary of our younger players).
At this point I must explain an interesting quirk about this group. They have developed a very good relationship with Alidar, the local alchemist. They not only frequently buy potions from him but will bring him all kinds of oddities from their adventures in order to see if Alidar can "weaponize" them, as my players like to say. One such oddity resulted in smoke grenades which were used to confuse the ogres and the masked mage long enough to grab Fr. Valinor and run away.
The party quickly found out that the true purpose of the attack was to get the Eye of St. Gabriel and the golden mask that (unknown to the assailants) had been stolen by Xerxes (and was now, as far as the party knew, inside The Bag). The party managed to trace the attackers back in the general direction of the abandoned monastery (and the megadungeon of my campaign). The party resolved to begin a serious expedition into its depths, as soon as they could re-equip themselves and take care of a few things left hanging from sessions past (like Grak's arm).
At this point, I must explain yet another quirk about this group. They very much like the idea of henchmen and followers; however, their idea of what makes a good follower is rather unusual. Instead of hiring out normal NPCs, they have taken to adopting various NPCs and monsters that they have encountered in their adventures:
- Grak the formerly one-armed tribesman of chaotic crab-grafting humans from the Giant Insect Jungle (who is now officially a 1st level monk, using the AEC LL rules).
- A peg legged prostitute that is now going to be the main bar tender at Hamlen's tavern.
- Pups, the dire wolf who has given birth to three healthy pups.
- A camel
- The unwitting and unpredictable dragon-kin inside The Bag
Other henchman have come and gone (and died) but no emotional attachment forms, unlike the devotion the party has shown for those in the list above. Also of note, Dn. Goram wants to make a golem and has begun a search for a manual to do so and the party has taken considerable interest in helping Ahkmed in building his son.
When I began this campaign, I had not spent much time at all sketching out the Elves, Dwarves and Halflings of my world. Indeed, I left much of that work to be done by players who wished to play a demi-human. When my Dwarven player heard about James' Dwimmermount dwarves, he was really excited about the idea and ran with it. The fun part is that, although there are similarities, allowing my players freedom in creating the demi-human cultures has resulted in quite a few deviations from Dwimmermount dwarves — a big one being that Ahkmed has insisted that all dwarves are neuter and has played up his ignorance about how other races reproduce.
This past session I mentioned in passing to Ahkmed's player that I have some specific rules for how to go about creating his offspring (using a variation on the work James has done with his dwarves). The party went absolutely nuts — they especially wanted to know (ironically, given discussions on this very topic over at Grognardia) if they could specifically try to make a gnome. All of this amused Ahkmed, but he seems more focused on saving his gold for a foundation for his stronghold — a revelation that I must say was surprising. Understand, Ahkmed's player is the newest to the game (his introduction to the game was my campaign along with a 3.5 campaign that runs when mine isn't in session); however, having read the rules about dwarves, the concept of the end-game sunk in. According to the rules (his words), he is supposed to build a stronghold in order to attract dwarves "from far and wide." Thus, he is already playing for that end game — I couldn't be happier.
The session ended with a rather mundane, but productive re-exploration of the catacombs beneath the lower temple at the monastery. The party decided that they needed a much more detailed map if they were to do some serious exploring there. I was quite happy to oblige. The one significant piece of information they garnered from the new exploration is that all the bones that used to be inside these catacombs are now gone.