Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Yen for OD&D

As you may know, I've been a part of a group that's been campaigning using Castles & Crusades since early this year. I've been a player and a GM in the group, and I have to say it's been an incredible experience. We're a small group, but what we lack in size we make up for in creativity, camaraderie, and lots of RPG experience. This group has fulfilled my long-time goal of finally gaming with new people. Until this year, I had only gamed with childhood friends. And it's been the true vehicle for the return to table-top roleplaying that I have yearned for since around 2007.

All that being said, there's the eternal spectre of Gamer ADD. I think I am a more-than-moderate sufferer of this dreaded condition.

So, perhaps I've fallen under the influence of JB over at B/X Blackrazor, but I've decided that, once our current C&C campaign runs its course, I would like to propose an OD&D game to my group.

This is my chance to finally game using OD&D rules, which I never really did...unless you count my recent, short-term use of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Deluxe Edition rules when gaming with a couple old friends on a few occasions. OD&D represents a more "mythic" play style to me, where characters are more archetypal, more "primal" if you will. This taps into my strong belief that game system plays a large role in determining style of play (a topic I've been meaning to post about for some time now, but haven't yet gotten around to it).

First of all, I'm pondering what system(s) to use. Do I use the original games, or do I use a retroclone? There's a certain something to the thought of playing with the originally published rules. But then again, there's the often greater clarity of rules and presentation of retroclones. At the moment, I'm considering a foundation of Labyrinth Lord with some aspects of Swords & Wizardry thrown in for good measure. But my goal now is to read up on original B/X as well as the retroclones I like (Labyrinth Lord and S&W) to see which has the functionality I need. Oops, almost forgot: I've also got the Rules Cyclopedia as well as the books from the Mentzer Basic and Expert sets. So, I've got some readin' and decidin' to do, as well as battlin' with nostalgia over practicality.

Any suggestions/advice would be welcome! (this includes my request for advice on dwarves from this recent post)

As for the world in which I would place the campaign, I am thinking that I will do a homebrew world. Roleplaying has been a way to fulfill my creative urges. There's a level of creativity in designing adventures and plot hooks. But then there's another level in worldbuilding that I've been missing. I have been worried about lack of time, but I think I have some ideas to get this going.

But again, all of this is just very preliminary. I have no intention of abandoning my current campaign, and expect our C&C goodness to keep rolling for a good while. Still, there's something to be said for a little daydream-brainstorm for future adventures...

Monday, August 29, 2011

And the Stick in the Mud of the Week Award goes to...

Alexis at Tao of D&D. In this post he derides the recent "Build a Better GM" trend that hit the RPG blogosphere. He seems to have the impression that it was a fruitless effort. Or at least that's what I took from reading the post. I encourage everyone to read it and let me know what you think.

I for one felt the Build a Better GM meme was very enlightening, as it gave many perspectives on the art of running roleplaying games. It gave some food for thought, advice, and tips. But unlike Alexis, I didn't think anyone was trying to define in stone what makes "the perfect GM."

I don't understand this guy at all. Who spends so much time being so...angry? Standoffish? Curmudgeonly? Whatever you want to call it, I just can't fathom why someone would want to waste precious moments of life being so downright grumpy about a hobby. Being a grognard is one thing. But being Alexis is something entirely different.

In the past, I've tried to communicate with Alexis in what I thought to be a rational manner, questioning his particular scathing approach to RPG blogging. For my desire to understand more of his motivations and perhaps offer a different viewpoint, I've been "permabanned." He pretty much won't let any of my comments on his posts see the light of day. In fact, I take credit for his switch to moderating comments. So, in light of my inability to comment on his blog directly, I've decided to comment about his posts on my own blog. As Alexis might say, "My house, my rules."

(By the way, regarding the standoffish "my house, my rules, I can do whatever I want" approach to blogging: when you invite someone into your home, do you slap them in the face when they compliment your wallpaper? Just because you own a "domain," be it a home or a blog, doesn't necessarily mean that you have carte blanche to lash out at "guests" and be rude to them, even those guests that disagree with you. If you want to consider a blog to be a virtual house, then what about the ancient tradition of hospitality? Let me put things another way: I bet Gary Heidnik was a big believer in "my house, my rules, I can do whatever I want.")

On another level, I don't understand why so many people put up with his attitude. There are so many people who comment on his blog that he, in turn, berates. It's like going to a "wise man" (and I'm nowhere near actually considering Alexis a wise man) in order to obtain wisdom and being verbally abused at the same time.

Why do I care? I guess I keep expecting there to be a bottom to Alexis' well of disdain. I check in once in a while to see what vitriol he's spouting, and he never fails to deliver. I also think that the guy has a lot of good stuff to offer the blogosphere, but he wraps it in such a noxious package. Thus, there's also a failed opportunity here, in my opinion.

Isn't one of the myriad reasons we blog to connect with our fellows and share thoughts and celebrate our hobby together? But wherever humans gather, there are those who seek to deride for the sake of derision.

He's given tidbits of information about his motivations, and I feel like he's an incredibly intelligent person with a lot of personal pain from his past. So he's no longer much of a conundrum for me, I suppose. I guess I'm just confused why someone would take what most would consider a positive thing (sharing opinions/advice regarding GMing) and see it as something ultimately futile. Like Raistlin's hourglass eyes, which doomed him to see the decay in all things...

I guess everything truly is a matter of perception.

Alexis has stated that I seek to "change" him. That's not true at all. I wouldn't presume to try such a thing. Rather, my eternal statement to him is this: you don't like something in the blogosphere, so be it. But that doesn't mean you are better or smarter than the rest of us who do like it. And it definitely does not mean you are the arbiter of what is, and what is not, a worthwhile topic.

UPDATE: Alexis posted a "rebuttal" to this post, and someone commented "i would rather have a person be harsh and honest then nice and lie about what he truly thinks of things."

To this I ask: why do "harsh" and "honest" need to go together? Can't you be "nice" and "honest"? Is that's what becoming part of our culture, a belief that you have to be harsh to be honest? That's really depressing, if it has any truth to it.

A little something extra for Dwarves?

So, if you're like me, you had to stand vigil as Hurricane Irene ripped up the east coast of the US. I was up all night Saturday into Sunday with my trusty Shop Vac, fighting back the waters that sought to spread across my basement. Now, we only really had spreading puddles to contend with for the most part. But it was coming in fast, and damned if I would let the storm win and soak my stuff (what little stuff we had left near the floor).

Anyway, I've been itching to get back to more regular posting, or at least posting a bit more frequently. And I have been looking forward to posting about something other than session reports...not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, here's the point of my post: I've read recently on another blog (damned if I can remember which one!) that OD&D dwarves get the shaft for the most part. They don't have cool magic like the elves, and even halflings can be more palatable as an OD&D race-as-class with their saving throws and stealth abilities.

Questions to you all: Do you think this "shafting" is a true one, or is it just grumbling? And, for those of you who do think that dwarves are short-changed, what would you do (house rule-wise) to beef them up as far as racial abilities are concerned?

I've dabbled with the idea of allowing dwarves to "enchant" one weapon per day, giving that weapon the ability to hit creatures that are only harmed by magical weapons. Or I would just say that dwarves themselves, no matter what weapon they use, can harm such creatures.

Can't wait to get your input!

UPDATE: Here's the post that inspired my post, it was over at Tenkar's Tavern! How could I have forgotten?! In rereading, I see Tenkar was specifically referring to dwarves in AD&D, not OD&D. But still...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Stars must be Right! or My Tale of the Earthquake

So, true story: I was in the Barnes & Noble near my work during lunch today, flipping through a new volume of obscure Lovecraft tales (his very early stuff, I guess) called Eldritch Tales. See cover image below:

Just as I was about to put the book back on the shelf and head back to work, I started to feel a shaking under my feet. I started to sway, and felt sick to my stomach, dizzy. I looked up at others around me and realized that it wasn't just me. The whole damned place was shaking.

Coincidence? I don't think so. Sorry everyone. It was my fault. I woke something up.

Seriously though, folks. I've lived in South Jersey all my life. If there was one thing I thought I would not have to worry about, it was earthquakes. Granted, it was just some moderate shaking here, and nothing was damaged, it seems. But, still, to have one's perceptions about one's environment proven wrong in such a dramatic way is unsettling.

Nothing is certain, folks. I got my reminder today, I suppose! As for me, I'm going to start brushing up on my cthonic, just in case!

Paragons of Waterdeep: Session 3

At the end of session two, our intrepid band was still in the sinister ruins of an ancient temple of Myrkul, former god of death. Oisin, Cleric of Lathander (Player Bill) was paralyzed by the bite of a watch spider. The elven ranger Kale (Player Pam) rushed to his aid, attempting to use her knowledge of natural poisons to neutralize or at least slow the toxin. Nestor the thief (NPC) looked under the now-destroyed bed (under which the spider had been hiding) to find what appeared to be a wizard's staff. Nestor then found a wizard, bound and gagged on top of the ruined bed. He unbound the wizard to find that his name was Vorath (Player Glenn). Vorath had come to the sunken stone structure in order to find magical artifacts, and had been captured by orcs and goblins several days earlier. The staff under the bed belonged to Vorath and it was returned to him after some hasty introductions. The wizard was shown the magical spear that they party had found in the room. He cast read magic in order to read the runes carved into its shaft. The runes read “Spear of the Healer.” Kale decided to put the spear in Oisin's hand to see what would happen, and the cleric immediately began to recover from his poisoning.

Once Oisin had recovered, the party tried to figure out their next move. It turned out that Vorath and Oisin are both from the village of Amphail, north of Waterdeep. Vorath's mentor, Bartok, had recently passed away and left him a small house in Waterdeep. The house is supposed to contain magical secrets and is heavily warded. Vorath was taught the pass phrase “Happy half-orcs have halitosis” in order to enter the house. The wizard had considered going to Waterdeep, but was tempted by rumors of the sunken stone structure in the High Forest’s Star Mounts.

While talking and debating, the group was interrupted by a loud rumbling and sounds of a group of goblins and orcs coming from the hallway beyond the door. With the door still barred, they waited for the humanoids to pass. They then gathered up the magical spear, a set of ceremonial bracers encrusted with small gems, and 200 gold pieces before proceeding down the hallway to the north. There were no immediate signs of the humanoids.

They passed a door with the words “Bad Here” in orcish painted in blood (Kale was able to translate) and decided it was best not to open it. They then came to a small room that was full of hay and smelled of animals. There was a stairway going down in one corner. The party noticed three unusually large wolves asleep in the room. Kale, Vorath, and Nestor crept over to the wolves in order to dispatch them quietly and quickly. Vorath took out the first wolf flawlessly, followed by Nestor who dispatched the next wolf with a rogue's precision. Kale's wolf, however, awoke before she could kill it. So Kale, Nestor, and Vorath put the beast down together in a short fight. Suddenly, the group heard the sound of more humanoids coming from the hallway from which they had come. They decided to stand their ground and fight.

A seven-foot tall gnoll barreled into the room, snarling in rage upon seeing the dead wolves and the party. The gnoll announced himself as Gritznak and immediately pulled a large scimitar before charging. Goblins and orcs streamed in from the hallway behind Gritznak. Oisin smashed into Gritznak with his morningstar while trying to avoid blows from the enraged gnoll. Nestor threw daggers, while Vorath let fly with magic missiles. Kale immediately slew the first goblin to close ranks with the party. A pitched battle ensued, with most of the party in tight formation in a corner. They group became worried as the room filled with humanoids. Orcs with crossbows began firing at them until the centaurs broke ranks to charge the orcs. Nestor slipped out in order to try to get behind Gritznak, while Oisin traded blows with the gigantic gnoll. Leela stepped up to the front lines helping to fend off the waves of humanoids while Kale cut down one goblin after another with sure strokes of her sword. Finally, with dead humanoids all around, Oisin was able to land a crushing blow to Gritznak's side. Kale immediately sprung to finish the gnoll chieftain off, nearly severing his head with a two-handed swing of her bastard sword. It was then that Nestor shrieked as he was stuck in the leg with a goblin blade.

With Gritznak down, the party quickly dispatched the rest of the humanoids. Kale and Vorath removed a magical ring, a gold necklace, and a few gold and silver coins from Gritznak's body. The gnoll’s scimitar was also discovered to be enchanted. However, Nestor was lying on the ground in agony. Oisin removed the sword from the thief’s leg, to find the blade coated in sickly purple and green substance. To the group’s horror, the substance looked and smelled like the liquid they had seen oozing from the undead humanoids they had previously encountered. Oisin and Leela tried using healing spells, including the “Spear of the Healer,” which did not work. Kale looked closely at the wound in order to see if she could identify and slow any sort of natural toxin. She quickly determined that the source was not natural, and Nestor's leg began to turn black around the wound. Kale became determined to amputate Nestor's leg. She wiped her bastard sword and prepared for a clean two-handed swing. But Leela jumped in the way, sobbing and protesting.

While the group began to argue about what to do for Nestor, Kale heard a change in Leela’s sobs. The elven ranger looked over to see a now-undead Nestor gripping Leela’s arm with tremendous force and attempting to bite the cleric. Kale swung her sword, easily removing Nestor's head. It was then that the party then decided to make their retreat. Before they could leave the room, they noticed the blood of the dead humanoids being sucked into the stone floor. Then, the entire temple began to shake and shudder. They quickly gathered up a stunned Leela, lit the hay in the room on fire, and made their way back to the entrance of the ruin. They were praying that a certain stone slab that had sealed off the passage back to the ruined temple’s entrance was now no longer an obstacle.

As luck would have it, the shaking of the temple seemed to have dislodged the stone slab, and the party flooded into the room containing the statue of Myrkul. They found five animated skeletons blocking their path. Oisin called out to Lathander and turned all of the skeletons, and the party ran out of the temple’s entrance. There they found the remainder of the centaurs, who ran toward the party. Suddenly, there was another rumbling from the structure, and portions of the ruin appeared to push up from the ground. The party and the centaurs decided to put as much distance between themselves and the temple. They traveled for some time before setting up camp. During the night, the centaurs made it plain that they thought the party had made things worse for the White Owl tribe by stirring up the evil of the temple.

The next morning, the party and the centaurs made their way back up the mountains to the hidden crevasse. There they once again met with the high elf wizard Tanara. They recounted the tale of the ruined temple and introduced Vorath to her. Tanara was of course troubled by what they had to tell her. She told them that, while they were away, she had found a rune-covered stone tablet buried in the ground. She was only able to partially decipher the ancient script, but thought the table to be some sort of teleportation device that would take her to the hidden tower she sought.

After some discussion as to what to do next, Kale insisted that it was time to return to her people in order to tell them of what had happened. She had been sent for aid and had also found the most likely source for the undead plague, and therefore had to tell her people. The rest of the party agreed. Before setting out, Kale took a rubbing of Tanara’s tablet to show to the leader of her clan. Then, the group set off once more, this time for a journey to Kale’s vo’an…

To be continued…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Paragons of Waterdeep: Session 2

The first session of my Paragons of Waterdeep campaign ended on a cliffhanger, with elf ranger Kale (Player Pam), Clerics of Lathander Oisin (Player Bill) and Leela (NPC), and Nestor (NPC) the thief making their way along a narrow mountain path in the fog when they found themselves facing a female centaur and her companions with bows drawn. The female centaur called out, “I've found them!” As it turns out, Kale recognized the centaurs as being from the White Owl tribe, a tribe with which her elven clan (the Spring Dawn clan) is not allied (and these particular White Owls thought that the party was a group of spies for the Fox centaur tribe, enemies of the White Owls).

Even though relations are shaky between Kale’s people and the White Owl clan, the adventuring party told the centaurs that they were hunting undead. This caught the centaurs' interest. The female centaur introduced herself as Floen, and she demanded that the party follow her. Reluctantly, the group followed the centaurs into a path plunging into a narrow crevasse in the steep, rocky face of the mountains. The party contemplated attacking the centaurs and making a hasty retreat, as the centaurs appeared to have trouble navigating the steep terrain. But ultimately curiosity regarding the centaurs’ destination won out.

Inside the crevasse was a centaur camp. Many of the White Owl tribe had been driven from the lower elevations by bands of undead humanoids. Apparently, the undead would not venture into these parts of the mountains. In order to gain the centaurs' trust, the party agreed to help the centaurs fight and find the source of the undead. Among the tribe, the group discovered a sun elf named Tanara, who explained that she had come to this part of the world in search of an ancient tower built by the elves. The tower had been built by the elven wizard Kurthrad. The wizard had been known to have made several magical artifacts. Tanara believes that the tower is located somewhere very close to the camp, and asked the party to remain and help her to search for it. She also told the party that some of the centaurs had been attacked by a strange magical force that caused them to lose some of their memories. Though the group was intrigued by the idea of searching the mountains for an ancient tower filled with magic items, their commitment to finding the source of the undead plague won out.

The White Owl centaurs explained that they believe the source of the undead to be a sunken stone structure that they had found protruding from the earth at the lower elevations. The following day, the group departed to investigate the ruin with six of the centaurs. The trek was uneventful until they made camp that night. The party posted a watch, and during Kale’s watch she noticed humanoid figures in the darkness shambling toward the camp. She awoke the rest of the party and they found themselves under attack by a mix of 12 undead orcs and goblins. Oisin was able to turn almost all of the undead while Kale, Leela, and the centaurs finished them off. The group noticed that some of the undead had open sores on them that leaked a sickly green and purple ichor. They party burned the bodies, careful not to touch the foul fluid.

The next morning the party set out again and finally arrived at the buried structure. When they arrived, they saw black stone protruding from the earth, as the centaurs’ described. The ruin radiated a strong sensation of evil, and they all were made a bit nervous when they looked into the gaping entrance that lead down into dark depths. It looked as if it had sunken into the ground long ago. Suddenly, five orcs, two goblins, and two gnolls charged from the entrance of the structure. After dispatching the humanoids, a voice from inside the ruin challenged the group, declaring itself as Gritsnak. Floen and most of the band of centaurs were reluctant to follow the party into the structure. Two of the younger male centaurs, however, decided to accompany the party, apparently seeking glory. The group entered the structure to find a large chamber containing a statue of the ancient god of the dead, Myrkul, who himself was slain during the Time of Troubles decades before. Carefully, they explored a hallway that split off from the main chamber. They passed several doors, and behind one they could hear the sounds of what they thought was undead shambling. The group shimmed that door shut just as something within started battering at the door. The party retreated back the way they had come, only to see a stone door sealing off their original entrance to the hallway. They proceeded down another hallway in the hopes of finding another way back to the entrance of the ruin. They opened a door to find themselves in a bed chamber. With the two centaurs covering the door, the rest of the party went inside.

Oisin cast detect magic and found a spear leaning against a wall that was magical, and also detected magic under a large four-posted canopy bed. As soon as Oisin announced his discoveries, Nestor the thief went to investigate under the bed. Suddenly, a giant spider erupted through the bed’s mattress to attack the party. Kale let fly with her bow, while Leela stuck the spider with the magic spear. Nestor scrambled out of the way defending himself with daggers. Oisin covered Nestor and Kale while attacking with his morningstar. A vicious battle ensued, with everyone attacking the spider while Oisin and Kale drew its attacks. Oisin was bitten by the spider. Everyone stayed in the fight for another round when Oisin discovered his muscles getting stiff. Realizing he didn't have long before the spider's poison took hold, Oisin cast Shield of Faith on Kale. With the aid of the Shield of Faith Kale was able to withstand a final desperate onslaught by the spider before finishing it with her sword. She and Leela turned to the sound of Oisin's morningstar hitting the ground as he collapsed, unconscious. It was then that the group heard the centaur’s slam the door to the room shut and bar it from the inside. One of them turned to the party and said “Something is coming."

To be continued...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ye Olde Summer Slump

Hey all out there in Blogsville! August is a rough time for me when it comes to free time. Both my kids are August babies, so their birthday plans eat up free time. As per usual, the rest of my free time is going to roleplaying, and some reading of novels and such. Actually, the novel reading time is being impacted by the RPG time, so the reading is slooooooow. I'm mucking my way through A Dance with Dragons as best I can. But my friends are blazing through it and wondering what's taking me so long ;-)

Anyway, apologies again for lack of posting. But I wanted to give you all a teaser (especially Reader Jimmy, who has recently asked me to start posting again!) of what's in the pipeline for me with regard to posts:
  • A recap of Session 2 of my Paragons of Waterdeep campaign
  • A post regarding my thoughts on whether or not Tolkien influenced OD&D and why I think this "issue" is a non-argument/no-brainer
Talk to you all soon, and as always, happy gaming!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Paragons of Waterdeep: Session 1

Greetings all. Apologies once again for my infrequent postings of late. I wanted to take this change to post a recap of our first session. This is an embellishment of a recap provided by two of my players, to whom I am indebted. Without them, this recap would not be possible.

The campaign begins on the third day of Tarsakh in 1369 Dalereckoning, also known as the Year of the Gauntlet. The cleric of Lathander known as Oisin hails from the village of Amphil, which is three days north of Waterdeep. 
The first session found Kale the elven ranger arriving in the City of Splendors. She is a member of a nomadic clan of wood elves in the High Forest. She is part of an elite group known as the Daughters of Mielikki, who serve to protect her clan from threats. The elves live in temporary settlements known as vo’ans. Kale was sent by the leader of her clan Elaya (also known as the vo’antir or voice of the vo’an) to seek aid from the Temple of Lathander in Waterdeep. The request stems from a steadily increasing number of undead humanoids (orcs, goblins, and gnolls) appearing in the High Forest. Kale’s clan has few clerics at the current time, and therefore does not have the means to easily combat the undead.
When Kale arrives at the Temple of Lathander, called the Spires of the Morning, Oisin and a newer member of the Lathanderite clergy named Leela were summoned by a higher-ranking cleric named Rorik. The two lower-ranked clerics learn of the plight of the elves, and Oisin and Leela are eager to help. However, Rorik is comfortable with his routine duties at the temple and seems to enjoy bureaucracy. The higher-ranked cleric says that he wants to further consider the idea with the other senior clergy and perhaps even the head of the temple.
After Rorik left them to wait for the decision from the senior clergy, Oisin and Leela took Kale to get some food, seeing as she had a long journey to Waterdeep. Leela took everyone to the Singing Sword Tavern, an establishment she used to frequent prior to joining the temple. At the tavern the three ran into an old friend of Leela's named Nestor. People in the tavern were overheard talking about some strange deaths in the city involving victims bursting into flames. The group, which now included Nestor, decided to leave the tavern and check out the site where the last victim (a trader's wife) had been found. The group searched the alley where the last victim had been found, discovering scorch marks and the scale of some sort of creature. While searching, the group was approached by several unsavory characters to which Nestor apparently owed a gambling debt. Oisin paid Nestor's debt in return for the rogue’s service to the temple.
Upon returning to the Spires of the Morning, the group met with an agitated Rorik, who informed them that Leela and Oisin were to go with Kale to her homeland in order to investigate the undead. Nestor, balking at the thought of the long journey to the High Forest, stated that he had a plan to get the group to the forest via a much faster route. But he would only do so if Oisin released Nestor from the outstanding debt. Oisin agreed to Nestor's terms and the group made arrangements to meet him the next day.
So the following day Oisin, Kale, and Leela met with Nestor to find that his plan involved using a teleportation portal to travel quickly to the High Forest. Nestor claimed to have a friend who is an apprentice of the powerful archwizard, Khelben Blackstaff. The apprentice said that he had discovered the portal in his fiancé’s basement. In order to use the portal, they would have to sneak into the fiancé’s parents’ house while everyone was home that morning. Kale refused to travel without her trusty elven-bred horse, so a compromise was reached and the group decided to take two of their four horses through the portal. The apprentice wanted payment for travel through the portal, so the group traded him the scale that they had found at the crime scene the night before. With the help of the apprentice's fiancé, they slipped into the house. With some tense moments, we got the pack horse through the back door and quickly through the portal then the rest of us went, along with Kale's horse while the fiance's parents kept calling her and asking what was going on.
The group emerged from the portal to find themselves in a cave with little light, with their pack horse was nowhere to be found. They made their way toward the entrance of the cave, guided by daylight. Kale's sharp elven senses picked up a creature moving outside the cave entrance. That’s when the group spotted the mutilated carcass of their pack horse just outside the entrance. Moments later, a blood-covered owlbear rushed into the cave and attacked. A desperate combat ensued, in which the cleric Leela was injured and had to fall back to heal. After a pitched battle, the owlbear was slain.
The group eventually emerged from the cave to find themselves on a narrow mountainside trail in a thick fog. With Kale in the lead, they carefully made their way along the trail, narrowly avoiding a place where the path would have crumbled beneath their feet and plunged them off a sharp drop. After several hours of travel, Kale heard the sound of horse hooves. Ahead of them, a female centaur emerged from the mists with a bow and arrow at the ready. The centaur, upon seeing the group, took aim and called over her shoulder “I’ve found them.”