Updated: Mar 15
This is an actual play report (submitted by Jeff) of a game I am running set in the world of Absalom and using the Basilisk Hills and Lake of Abomination hexcrawls. I hope to put episodes out as a podcast in the near future, as I think they do a decent job of illustrating high-level play in a hexcrawl/sandbox [Note: this episode is out and can be found here]. The cast of characters are as follows (the character with a single asterisk are the main PCs; those with a double asterisk are retainers):
Evil Jeff's Characters
*Velsind Flere- Warlock 6
**Barbat Rauta - Ironskin 3
**Amagar Cacar- Scout 3
*Nerhgui - Fighter 6
**Kalan - Cleric 3
**Safa - Destrier 2
**Blodwyn - Bard 2
**Vygr Bloodtooth - Gnoll Sorcerer 1
*Ciaran - Magic-User 6
**Ruarc - Assassin 3
**Slainte - ''Cerves'' Brave 3
Orpheus - Assassin, Level 6
** Vallistra - Godborn (Eladrin) Level 4
Jon G's Character
*Sir Keyan Telva - Knight 6
**Blix - Goblin 3
**Ugla - Goblin Mage 4
The team consisting of Amagar, Blodwyn, Ruarc, Vallistra, and Blix with 30(?) mercs are with the caravan from Dry Gulch and have stopped for the night at a place that seems to be one of the resting stops along the route to Lewil. After some discussion, the group decides to station two members, Vallistra and Blix, a mile or so further up the trail in watch to see if a potential spy leaves the caravan to give the bandits any intel. Blodwyn spends time in the camp, trying to sense any malevolent motives that could indicate a potential spy but senses none. After a few hours of watching the trail that is bathed in the light of a full moon, members return to camp.
The group and fifteen mercs ride out as first light begins to break the sky and heads up the trail. Amagar goes ahead a half mile or so as point. When he reaches a spot that is still over five miles away, he turns north and picks his way through the hills, then turns and follows, as best as possible, a parallel course with the trail, a mile or so north of it. After a short while, he spies to the north a set of three columns and a large stone plug that would indicate the entrance to a barrow mound. Amagar quickly looks for other landmarks that would allow him to locate this place in the future.
A short time later, Amagar spies small columns of cooking fires. Guessing that it would mark the position of the bandits, he turns to the south and tries to find the most direct path to the main trail. Once there, he marks the position and heads south to the war band. After joining up with the group, Amagar leads the band back along his previous path then towards the cooking fires.
Arriving near the camp, Amagar sneaks alone to a hilltop that allows him to observe the bandit camp. He observes that there are two wooden structures, a wooden structure being built, a horse paddock, a couple of tables for eating, a few regular and a yurt-like tent. He takes note of the number of guards and other bandits that are in the open and returns to the group.
A discussion of possible tactics occurs. Once an agreement is reached, everyone takes position near the top of the hill that is south of the entrance track of the camp. Blodwyn casts sleep on the group of bandits at a central table then on the group of bandits building the wooden structure. All members are put to sleep and none of the guards nor other bandits takes notice. All members of the band with missile attack capabilities then aim for the guards. After two volleys, the guards are taken out but a couple are able to sound an alarm. The band then charges on horseback into the camp and splits into two, heading north and south, to make use of the tents as potential cover. Blodwyn takes the opportunity to cut some ropes holding the yurt up, which collapses into an odd shape, suggesting that there are crates and such inside. From the northern wooden structure emerged an older woman in platemail (assumed to the be leader) followed by three men, and from the southern wooden structure emerged a set of twins. Taking in the sight of several guards killed and others laying on the ground motionless, all five decide the wisest thing to do it raise their hands in the air and surrender.
The bandits are ordered to lay face down, and they begrudgingly complied. The bandits are tied up so they cannot move and a search of the bandits and the wooden structures are done. After the initial restraining of the bandits are done, they are then searched and stripped of weapons and armor and anything interesting like jewelry and rings, such as one that was found on the female leader. During this time, Amagar rides away from the camp, following the track, assuming this would be the fastest way to the main trail, in hopes of catching the caravan before they passed by. Nearing the end of the trail, he immediately takes note of at least a dozen bandits on the hilltop that looks down on the main trail. Seeing that there is one bandit looking his direction, he quickly makes a friendly wave and turns his horse around and heads back to the camp in a nonchalant manner. Once out of sight of the bandits, he gallops back to the camp at top speed.
Upon arrival, all bandits had been stripped, searched, gagged, and all buildings searched for items. Amagar quickly describes the situation. A quick discussion is held about potential tactics. The following plan is agreed upon. Amagar would put on some red soled boots, a cloak of one of the bandits, and switch over to one of the bandit's horses to ride back to the group that is watching the trail. A small table is chopped up as well. Amagar would head back to the remaining bandits and the table would be thrown onto the cooking fire to let up a column of smoke. Once reaching the bandits, Amagar would then call out to the group about trouble at the camp and for them to return. The mercs would be on either side of the trail and shoot to kill as they come back into camp.
Amagar rides up and notes that there are three bandits watching back in his direction. As he shouts his warning, the bandits can see the smoke that helps lend creedence to his story. Not waiting for them to determine he is not one of them, Amagar rides back hard. Nine of the returning bandits are slain upon their return and the rest captured. Amagar immediately returns back down the trail to intercept the caravan.
He meets up with the caravan and speaks to Joferth. Explaining the situation, the caravan master is delighted and put greatly at ease. After learning of the crates and items that were found at the camp, Joferth declares them property of the group. The rest of the mercs that were accompanying the caravan follow Amagar to the camp and the laborers, carpenters, and masons would continue with the caravan to Lewil. The party would use the magic mirror to speak to the Factor in Lewil, explain the situtation, direct him to get the workers to the keep, and pass along the message that they would be returning to Dry Gulch to gain the reward for the bandits and sell off some of the items. They would then be returning to gather up the crates and such at the bandit camp on their way back to Lewil. They then march the prisoners back towards Dry Gulch, ending up making camp at the spot where they camped the previous night. Any interrogations of the prisoners would be held in the morning and detection of magic items would be held then as well. This ended the 14th day of the month for this group.
At the newly christened Black Pit Keep, the 15th day breaks and Barbat and Vygr head to Lewil to pick up the magic items that were being identified by Huten of the Basilisk Knights. They learn that the dagger is called the Fang of the Hunter which can track anything after having its blood placed on it. The ring is a Ring of Fire Resistance. They head to the factor who informs them of the Dry Gulch team's progress and plans. The two return to Black Pit Keep to await the return of the main group.
The main group decide that they would leave one person and ten mercs at the dragon's den to keep guard on the horde. The rest would load up as much of the coinage as they could and return to the Keep. Upon return, one person would stay with ten of the remaining mercs to keep guard and the rest would return to the den to gather more coinage and repeat as necessary.