After my crew finished Ragged Hollow Nightmare, they wanted to carry on with their characters. So I decided to place a little sandbox mystery just outside of town: Grave Titan Harvest. Will they find the lost miners? Will they befriend a dead sky-whale? Which mad wizard will they kill first?
Play time: ~4 hours
- Garvin the Ranger
- Thorin the Fighter
- Cassius the Very Good Cleric
- Lothki the Artificer (and his metal ram “Ramkin”)
Our heroes awoke to see a very strange wagon by the general store. The wagon and its load were massive, but it was pulled by a single horse at great speed. They asked the grocer Micah about it, and found the stranger had cleaned out the store. This was the second time in a month the stranger had bought out all of the store’s food and supplies. So the heroes decided to investigate!
Our heroes ran out of town, trying to catch up with the wagon, but it was too fast. Still Garvin was able to easily track it, and they followed it south. The wagon turned off the road and led them into the hills, still at high speed. Eventually they arrived at a wide open meadow, the Fields of Petrichor, an ancient battle site. In the distance, they saw the huge wagon being unloaded into a tiny hut.
But first, looting! The team pawed through the grass for armor, weapons, and trinkets left on the battlefield, and found many odd things including magic dice and bagpipes. And then they were attacked by the ghosts of the Savage Skalds and the Thieves Militant. After re-killing the ghosts, they moved on to the hut.
The wagon had already taken off, but the hut was guarded by Hadiya, one of the dangerous warrior-nuns, the Brides of Zerah. She was clearly just doing her job, and not happy about it. Hadiya revealed that inside the hut was a teleportation stone and a wizard named Orazio was beyond it, working on some project. She didn’t care about any of that, she just wanted her payment, a book called The Wail of Zerah. Our heroes promptly promised to get her the book if she let them pass. She agreed, but if they didn’t get her the book, she would kill them when they tried to leave. She is a professional, after all.
The Mining Camp
Stepping through the red flames of the teleportation stone, the team arrived in a massive cave. The walls were embedded with giant bones, and everywhere they looked they saw neon glowing fungus and insects. Plus the tents of a mining camp.
They quickly found the wizard Orazio working on a strange magical boat. He mistook them for replacement miners, because his had gone missing. Along with his apprentice Lorenza and his spellbook. He was in a bad mood! The team played along and promised to get to work, mining for Titan bone marrow for this weird boat. Garvin noticed a Fiery Tenrec on a worker’s shoulder, and remembered that these chipmunks can smell metal, and breed out of control. They also peeked into the other tents, but quickly headed out.
On the walk, they heard a whale-like moaning. At the dig site, there was little to see except bones and tools. And footprints. They decided to look for all of the missing people and things, and headed north.
As they hiked through the gloom, a giant undead bat swooped down for a happy meal. The fighting was wild and desperate as the bat swung its giant wings and shattered minds with its hideous screams. The metal Ramkin was almost crushed into scrap! But Ramkin saved the day, kicking the undead kyraptor’s maggoty head clean off and into Garvin’s surprised hands.
The village of Shedim
Farther north, the team found an ancient abandoned village of small blue buildings. At its center, they found a black obelisk and a young man studying a book. A miner! Young Gilbert was poring over Orazio’s stolen spellbook, trying to figure out a way to save “Arisa”, a young woman he could hear begging for help from inside the obelisk. No one else could hear her, so they took the book from him and moved on.
Across the square, Lothki ventured inside a domed temple full of salt and retrieved the Thalassic Codex, which revealed the history of the village and the Titans. Including a mention of a “Dweller” in a “Black Well”. But the search must continue!
They headed southeast toward a bright white light and, after some bones fell on Thorin, they discovered the glowworm grotto. Here, Lothki harvested some radiant worms and silk for later study.
Outside, Garvin found tracks leading to a man on the ground. Another miner! This one was babbling and had mushrooms growing on his arm. Garvin brushed the mushrooms off and Cassius discovered ghostly eels flying around the man’s head, eating his memories! Lothki used the radiant silk to scare the eels away. The miner, Marcel, recovered enough that the team felt safe sending the man back to camp alone.
Following various footprints, they headed back toward the dig site and stumbled across two tiny mushroom men carrying a bone. They tried to speak to them, but this just scared them away.
Beyond the dig site, the team found several giant termite cathedrals glittering with gems. But they decided to steer clear and continue following the human tracks to an ancient stone house where a miner was sitting on the ground, surrounded by tiny silver puzzle pieces. Garvin also spotted a second Fiery Tenrec nearby. Each hero passed their Wisdom save, so they were able to work on the puzzle safely. But they failed their skill attempts at solving the puzzle, and so gave up.
And that’s where we stopped.
The good news, as always, is that we had a lot of fun. There was a ton of great roleplay and mystery-solving, and crazy combat. As you can see above, a lot of things happened in this one session! On a more technical note, I did wish that all the mysteries and encounters (while thematic!) tied together a bit more tightly. I know this is a sandbox, and it’s doing its sandbox thing just fine. But for my personal taste and sensibility, I wish there was more of a “story” to discover in all of these encounters, instead of just a lot of “cool stuff” in a cave.
Food for thought!