“EARN SOME SILVER! WE NEED HARDY SOULS TO SLAY ANTS IN THE HILLS! BIG ANTS, THAT IS!”
The campaign opens in the streets of Highguard, just outside of the Third Teat. A tall and well built man in leather armor, a sword in his belt, is standing on a barrel on the corner calling out for all within earshot to hear his pitch. Standing around the barrel are his compatriots, ready to greet all who step forward as potential recruits.
“FOR LESS THAN TWO WEEKS WORK YOU’LL COME BACK WITH A HEALTHY CUT OF OUR TAKINGS! HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET PAID TO KILL A BUG? WE NEED SCOUTS AND SWORDSMEN, HARDY BODIES THAT CAN STAND TO SLEEP UNDER THE STARS AND CATCH A FEW ANTS. STEP UP AND TELL US HOW YOU CAN BE USEFUL!”
A crowd has gathered. Some are there to watch the spectacle, some hover, wondering if they could drop the drudgery of their daily chores for a couple of weeks to pick up what sounds like easy lucre (I wonder if I could borrow a sword from the armory… or maybe uncle Herrick…?), a few actually step forward to sign the contract.
OEDUSTOV: Aye! I’m game to kill some ants! Sign me up!
DUFFY: Well! You’re a strapping lad and that’s a fine sword you’re carrying… but you’ll be useless to me, boy, unless you find some shoes to wear. We’re walking a good ways to get where we’re going and trudging all over who-knows-what once we get there. (A large number of the crowd look woefully down at their feet.) Get some shoes and come back son! There’ll be a spot waiting if you do.
DONNY BOY: I’d like to join!
DUFFY: Shoes! Why am I being accosted by the barefooted masses today? Find some shoes and we’ll talk…
TIG TAYAH: I am Tig TaYAH, world renowned treasure hunter and adventurer at your service!
DUFFY:World Renowned? I haven’t heard of you… Have you ever done battle with an ant, Sir Famous Treasure Hunter?
…and so it goes…
The characters are promised a 64th lay of the profits from the venture. The bounty the Free Council receives for ants are valued at 500 silver each.
The expedition departs the following morning. Three horse drawn carts are laden down with supplies for the expedition: rope, poles, bear traps, provisions for a crew of 24 humans and six horses- enough for two weeks, water barrels, divers supplies and a couple of tents.
- Dofton “Duffy” Morris: Principal of the Highguard Free Council; Fighter
- Joey The Hobbit: Principal of the Highguard Free Council; Ranger
- Melissa Luam: Bookkeeper of the Highguard Free Council; Healer
- Rennick Sam’s Son: Highguard Free Council; Fighter
- Bad Ladle John: Highguard Free Council; Cook & Groomsman
- Betaya Larksong: Healer
- Donny Boy: Fighter (PC)
- Emma Tell: Ranger
- Frank Hamilton: Elementalist (PC)
- Oedustov Agheroa: Fighter (PC)
- Tig Tayah: Inventor & Treasure Hunter (PC)
- Tedrick Secht: Pyromancer
- Thomm of Durlandia: Ranger
- Uther Stoutback: Fighter
- Horace Donnaton
- 8 redshirts
Only a few hours out of Highguard, the expedition is chased down by the City Guard. A detail of six horsemen overtake the group and announce that the group is harboring a fugitive by the name of Slim Peter.
No one in the group goes by the name Slim Peter, but the guards insist that they’ve learned that he traveled out with the ant-hunting expedition this morning. Donny demands to know what it is that Slim Peter has done. The guards explain that he’s a known thief, most recently wanted for the robbery of an elderly shopkeeper.
The man in question is nowhere to be seen, but a discription provided by the Guard indictates that Slim Peter is probably known to this group as Horace, who is nowhere to be seen. Melissa is reluctant to hand over a member of the expedition but Duffy is impatient to keep moving and begins rummaging through the back of the carts, in case Horace/Peter is hiding under the equipment.
Duffy comes across Emma in his search, finding her burrowed under some sacks of oats. “You aren’t looking for this one as well, are you?” The City Guard say no, and Emma protests that she was sneaking a nap, not hiding. Duffy gives regards her with new suspicion, but then resumes ransacking the carts. Peter is soon found crouched between some water barrels.
Peter attempts to make a rousing speech about his innocence and how he is now a brother of the Highguard Free Council and should be defended from the City Guard’s false accusations. Only Donny seems swayed. The rest shrug their shoulders and let the constabulary make off with their purse snatcher.
The group continues on through the rest of the day with no incidents. Bad Ladle John sets up a fire and rigs up a pot to make stew. Joey the Hobbit walks up to the PCs and tells them how Bad Ladle John earned his name. (story to be inserted later)
Camp is set up and the characters pass the night without incident.