Prologue: The Last Caravan North.   Posted by DM Shard.Group: archive 0
DM Shard
 GM, 31 posts
Tue 27 Dec 2016
at 08:25
Prologue: The Last Caravan North


Icewind Dale has ever been the last frontier in the Savage North. It's the sort of place most know little about, save that it is the last bastion of civilization, if one could even categorize it as such, before reaching endless tracks of frozen waste and ice-choked seas. And rightly so, as it is a hard place to reach, even for those so inclined.

Reaching Icewind Dale requires an arduous trek along poorly maintained roads and through a brutal pass at the westernmost end of the Spine of the World. The journey from Luskan, the usual spot where such treks begin, takes about twenty days--eleven to reach the North/South Pass, three to cross it, and six more to cross the tundra to Bryn Shander. Of course this travel time assumes summer weather in the dale. It's much harder to cross the pass, let alone the tundra when winter snows have choked the roads. A gambit for all but the desperate or foolish. For this reason, very few caravans even attempt the journey once winter approaches.

Except, apparently, for this year, when some combination of moxie or perhaps greed compelled the Seven Fingers Trading Coster, led by one Marlow Hugglesward, to attempt the feat.

The first great winter storm came a full month early to Icewind Dale, blanketing the region with Auril's embrace before the last caravan could get underway. But Master Hugglesward was intent to make good on what he hoped would be a lucrative proposition. Quite a windfall could be had for those daring enough to attempt it, for it would be the last chance to sell much needed winter-over supplies at generally exorbitant rates.

So it is that the last caravan rolls out of Luskan on 30 Eleasias (August), 1485.

The caravan proves to be quite large, consisting of nearly two dozen wagons loaded down with an assortment of supplies, primarily grains and other foods that will be in short supply in Icewind Dale over winter. Presiding over this collection of wagons is Master Hugglesward, a leather-faced man of few words who has spent much of his nearly 50 years plying this hard route. Few know it better than Master Hugglesward and it is through this experience and knowledge his sizable body of loyal drovers and men-at-arms take comfort, despite the promise of hard roads ahead.

While the caravan is led by the Seven Fingers Coster, other merchants are counted in the procession. For the most part, these men and women keep to themselves and have joined onto Master Hugglesward's coat-tails for safety rather than companionship. In general, this is a tight-lipped bunch, with little frolicking or joviality exhibited on many of the caravans plying more hospitable and warmer routes throughout the Sword Coast and Western Heartlands.

Among the caravaners, guards and assorted merchants are a few passengers as well, each coming to Icewind Dale for their own reasons. These outliers are a bit of an anomaly from the otherwise mercantile travel companions, adventurers most likely, in search of fortune and fame perhaps.

One such man, Thane Harkensen, appears to be a Luskan mercenary, likely skilled in battle if his suit of chain, shield and flail are any indication.

Then there are a pair of gold dwarves, Dalgura and Morgrim Ironhammer, drawn far away from their ancestral homes to the North.

A solitary half-elven woman, Kira, too has joined the caravan.

Then there is the mysterious woman with angelic features, Ellie Dovehand.

A native outlander of Ten Towns, Arnan Aldwynne, is counted among these numbers.

***

The journey to the North/South Pass proceeded on schedule, with generally uneventful travel along the Northern Means. After a brief stop in the village of Hundelstone, where the caravan takes a brief respite from the howling winds and swirling snows, all know the toughest postion lies just ahead and none are looking forward to the ascent and descent through the Spine of the World.

After not nearly long enough rest, Master Hugglesward urges the caravan forward, up into the snow packed mountains...

OOC: This is an opportunity for you guys to do some roleplay before I set up the opening scene of this adventure.

This message was last edited by the GM at 08:26, Wed 28 Dec 2016.

Arnan Aldwynne
 player, 20 posts
 Human Scout/Archer
 AC:14/16; HP:12/12; PP:14
Tue 27 Dec 2016
at 17:44
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
Odds are generally not to my liking for caravans that try the passes over the Spine of the World this late in the season, Arnan thought to himself as he squinted into the biting wind and snow flurries, glancing up at the iron-gray cloud and trying to decide whether they would dump heavy snow on the travelers for whom he had agreed to scout.

I wouldn't have taken on this job if the caravan-master had been anyone other than Hugglesward. He's an experienced hand, and if he thinks that we can make it through without getting snowed in and stranded high up in the mountains . . . well, I hope to the good gods that he's right.

Every so often after the spring thaw, I have come upon the remains of travelers who guessed wrong on that very question, and 'tis never a pleasant sight.


For the moment Arnan was trudging along with the main body. Soon, however, he knew that Sarnak's hours serving as a flanker would come to an end, and that he himself would have that duty. He also knew that all manner of predators -- both the four-legged and two-legged variety -- would be tempted to try and raid the caravan (which would be a juicy target indeed, as opportunities for both food and plunder dwindled away, what with the worsening weather and the onset of winter) and he took his responsibilities very seriously.

Weather-tanned and stoic, Arnan marched along beside one of the carts and awaited the signal -- four soundings of Sarnak's signal-whistle --  to go out and relieve his fellow-scout. He was bundled up against the chill northern winds but his eyes were alert, even if he was not officially on flanking duty just yet . . .

This message was last edited by the player at 15:46, Wed 28 Dec 2016.

Ellie Dovehand
 player, 18 posts
 Aasimar Warlock | 1
 HP 11/11 | AC 12 | PP 12
Wed 28 Dec 2016
at 13:12
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
Among the travelers, a heavily bundled woman pulls her warm robes and cloak tighter around her, adjusting them against the cold northern winds as they head into the Spine of the World. Her outfit, covering her entirely from head to toe, seems almost appropriate in this weather, or atleast that is what she tells herself.

She glances up only briefly to take a look around her surroundings, then returns her gaze to the ground before her, keeping her cowl down low.

It is a good thing we found this caravan. Last one till spring, they say.

I couldn't have stayed in Luskan until spring. Sure, the pirates were some of the less judgemental company I've encountered, but that city is full of nothing but agendas, and I didn't fit into any of them. I wasn't going to be a Crow.

But we're heading into Icewind Dale now. It will be a good place for us; full of opportunity. They say that the Ten Towns is a place for rogues, living on the edge of the world because no other place will have them.

I hope the tales are true.

Dalgura Ironhammer
 player, 42 posts
Thu 29 Dec 2016
at 01:36
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
When the Caravan first started North, Dalgura had her hood down so she could look around.  It wasn't long before her quilted hood was back up and she was huddled against her brother.  "I didn't think that people would really travel in such weather.  How are you doing dear Brother?  I am concerned for you.  Can you feel the earth and nature through all of this?"

She hadn't been asked to take point or anything which was a good thing because she would have gotten them lost.  But she would take a turn at guard duty if she had too.  She was sure that Morgrim would have something to say about that but she would cross that path when it was needed.

During dinner she had noticed some interesting characters and looked forward to their next stop so that she could talk to them.
Morgrim Ironhammer
 player, 25 posts
Thu 29 Dec 2016
at 04:00
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
Morgrim snorted. "I can't even feel my toes! It's colder than Auril's teats out here! How anyone chooses to make their home so far from Amaunator's warmth, I can't imagine!" Hunkered down in the lea of one of the draft animals, Morgrim pulled his cloak tighter about his shoulders and buried his hands beneath his armpits for heat. "I'd play us a tune to pass the time but I'm afraid my whistle will freeze to my lips!"
Dalgura Ironhammer
 player, 43 posts
Thu 29 Dec 2016
at 14:37
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
In reply to Morgrim Ironhammer (msg # 5):

Dalgura chuckled at Morgrim's response.  "Just think on the bright spot.  By that I mean we have shorter legs so the snow has to work harder to get to them than some of the others."

Dalgura looked up at the sky and had to agree with her brother.  Perhaps they should have hunkered down for the winter but something had told both of them that they needed to be with this group at this point in time.  She trusted her Goddess and the vision she had from her mother so they had put caution to the wind.  She still wished that the vision had shown warmer weather.  Dalgura was warm enough, although that would change if they didn't find shelter in a reasonable amount of time.  She was dressed in her furred quilted robes and leather making sure to wear layers.
Kira
 player, 11 posts
Thu 29 Dec 2016
at 15:08
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
Kira sat atop one of the swaying wagons, her sharp eyes taking in the surroundings.  She'd offered to serve as a watch and guard to pay for her travel, desperate to keep her bit of coin.  There were some wealthy people here but so far they seemed honest and hardworking, not lazy rich bastages that deserved to have their purses lightened.

Among the wealthy were others that seemed to be like her, a bit foolish to be on this path during this harsh season but they all had their reasons.  She touched the necklace she wore and looked ahead again, hoping she wasn't truly on a fool's mission but what was life without a bit of risk?  Her head turned as she heard the dwarves talking, a bittersweet smile on her lips.  They were a prime example of why she was here, hoping to find warmth against the frigid world in the form of family.
Thane Harkensen
 player, 11 posts
 Human Fighter
 Soldier
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 02:11
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
Man, to think I'm being paid to do this and many of these folks aren't, quite a risk they are taking on the hopes of reaching Ten Towns safely, Thane thought to himself as he trudged along on the right flank of a loaded wagon.  Behind him he could hear the distinct voices of a pair of Dwarves speaking and a smile creased his otherwise expressionless face.

I'm just glad to be away from Luskan, and the memories, even if I have to deal with this snow, his thoughts continued to run.  The wintry weather was not a large concern to Thane.  His strong and tough frame was adequately equipped against the cold.  A layer of padded clothing lay underneath his chainmail armor, his head was warded by a fur cap with long flaps that covered his ears and the back of his neck, and fur-lined leather mittens ensured that his fingers would not freeze to either his shield, flail, or the twin throwing axes secured at his waist.

He exhaled a plume of steamy breath after sucking in a great lungful of the cold dry air, feeling refreshed by the shock of it.  He glanced back at the dwarves, his smile still lingering, apparently amused by their conversation.

This message was last edited by the player at 02:17, Fri 30 Dec 2016.

Morgrim Ironhammer
 player, 26 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 19:18
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
"If that's our working definition of a bright spot, Gura, I think the two of us need to set some higher standards," Morgrim replied, though he allowed himself a smile. Truthfully the thick direwolf fur did a good job at keeping out the worst of the wind's bite, and even though he complained he could certainly keep up.
Dalgura Ironhammer
 player, 44 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 17:33
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
In reply to Morgrim Ironhammer (msg # 9):

Dalgura couldn't help but laugh at Morgrim's statement.  "Oh my standards are high dearest brother.  I get up each day and after giving praise and thanks to Sharindlar, I ask for guidance in how to bring brighten your day.  With "grim" as part of your name I figure you need cheering up.  How much higher goals for a day can I have?  Besides, how high does the bar  have to be when you are only 4'3" tall?"

Dalgura laughed again.  She was a dwarf but not the sour kind.  She believed in living for the moment and even in the darkest hours she knew that her Goddess would be with her so how can one be sour about that!
DM Shard
 GM, 36 posts
Sun 1 Jan 2017
at 17:16
Prologue: The Last Caravan North
THe long line of the caravan presses through the snow-choked pass, already blanketed in a heavy bank of snow that seriously impedes travel. Progress is altogether halted several times during their passage as men and women furiously work to clear a path through particularly troublesome sections. Despite the cold, it is hard-going and most are warmed through the toil of their labor.

In time, the pass is cleared and the party descends onto a treeless tundra. Travel becomes much less arduous at this point, though visibility improves little over what was experienced atop the pass. The winds sweep off the distant Reghed Glacier, chilling the caravan to the core. Still, a warm heart lies ahead and this is what drives the caravan forward, eventually fording the Shaengarne River, drawing ever nearer to their destination--Bryn Shander.

What should have been a six day journey along Ten Trail from the pass stretched into eleven grueling days of bitter cold, howling winds, driving snowfall, and beasts bounding the caravan's trail. As the wagons roll at last up to the gates of Bryn Shander, the party sees the townsfolk watching with eager expectation, happy for what will certainly be the last caravan from the south for months to come. The faces of the merchants and caravan guards show relief and anticipation that almost seem to outweigh the exhaustion, as they look forward to warm fires, hot food, soft beds, and sheltering walls.