A terrible evil is coming! And a family of Gur nomads are the only ones who seem to be taking precautions to protect themselves. They even went so far as to steal from the goodly people who frequent the Crossing Inn. But a group of good-hearted adventures looking to make names for themselves stepped in and offered to recover the stolen property and return the Gur thieves to the authorities.
In the past two sessions we learned of four Gur men, what they stole, and where they were headed. The PCs recovered missing gems in COINS, stolen weapons in SWORDS, and a broken wand in STARS. This time out the PCs seek Papa who stole rare herbs and headed towards the foreboding and unwelcoming Quivering Forest in GLYPHS.
The heroes were warned by the locals that the Quivering Forest was off limits. There as a treaty in place going back hundreds of years and by entering the forest uninvited they’d be putting that treaty at risk. They felt it was worth the risk to find and return Papa.
After a few hours of wandering in the woods the PCs were beset upon by Elven Scouts. The Elves were accompanied by three Cooshees, large Elven hounds known for their ferocity in battle. The Elves accused the PCs of trespassing in the Forest. The heroes tried to talk peacefully, explaining who they were, why they were here, and that they planned to leave as soon as they’d completed their mission.
The Elves were agitated and the PCs picked up on that. Despite calming words and soothing tones (and great Persuasion checks) the Elves were intent on having the PCs drop weapons and surrender. It was clear that the Elves would attack the PCs as soon as they were unarmed so it was combat time.
Some PCs engaged in melee with the Elves right away. During the first round the Cooshees did not fight. Astute PCs made Insight and Animal Handling checks to realize that the Cooshees were put off by the Elves’ odd behaviour. Perhaps the hounds could be coaxed into staying out of the fight? While most PCs continued fighting, attacking to incapacitate and not kill, some tried winning over the Cooshees and were successful. The hounds joined the PCs in their efforts to take down the Elves.
With all the Cooshees on the side of the PCs the battle didn’t take long. When it was over the PCs searched the Elves but found no outward sign of what caused their erratic behaviour. They did find pendants made from a rare purple wood which they claimed as spoils.
The Cooshees suddenly looked to the East then bolted away to the West. From the East an old Elven woman emerged from the foliage. Behind her was an old Human male with a leather leash tied around his neck. It was Papa. The woman made no aggressive moves and called out to the PCs.
The heroes were cautious and confused about this woman. She introduced herself as Jeny Greenteeth, Protector of the Quivering Forest, and asked them why they were here. They told her they sought the man she had in tow. Jeny was reluctant to part with the man she called Ozzcar. She said that he told her of his granddaughter Sybil who was a seer. Jeny warned the PCs not to trust Sybil as she was pure evil and her visions foretold only death.
Jeny told the PCs she’d had strange dreams of an evil force coming soon. When she awoke she felt compelled to walk and that’s when she found Ozzcar. He offered her rare herbs to protect his family. She laughed at him and told him there was no protection from what was coming.
The PCs continued to try and negotiate Ozzcar’s freedom and Jeny finally relented a bit. She asked the PCs to acquire the heart of a golden stag and for that she’d trade Ozzcar. She even told the heroes that the stags were becoming bolder now that the Elves stopped hunting them. The party quickly agreed to the task and with directions from Jeny set off to find a golden stag.
It didn’t take long before they found five stages drinking from a creek. One of them seemed to be wounded or ill. The PCs fired weapons and spells at the wounded one and made noise to scare off the healthy ones. It was a solid plan that worked perfectly. They retrieved the heart and the golden pelt.
Jeny met them shortly thereafter and made good on her trade. The PCs moved as fast as they could, with Papa right behind them, all the way back to the Crossing Inn.
When they returned Papa apologized for his actions. The people at the inn accused Papa of putting a curse on the unconscious kitchen worker. Papa told them he’d drugged the man and must have used too much. He wasn’t cursed, just unconscious. He’d be fine in another day or two.
With all four Gur males captured and returned to the Crossing Inn the PCs had a chance to talk to them in a controlled and safe environment. They all told the same story which began with an apology for any actions they took that caused harm to the locals. They claimed they were only following the direction provided by Sybil’s reading.
The fog outside the tavern got thicker and thicker, eventually engulfing the entire structure. Suddenly the front door swung open and a young Gur woman entered the Inn. “We’ve arrived,” she said before collapsing.
The PCs caught her, carried her inside, closed the door behind them and worked to revive her. The Gur males rushed to her side to ensure she was ok. Sybil had returned. When she awoke a few minutes later she was excited to see that her family was alive and well, despite their inability to carry out the assigned tasks with any success.
Before she could explain any more, cries for help were heard outside the inn. The heroes ran out to help those in need. The fog had dissipated in some areas and they could see a mother holding hands with her two children. She was hysterical, pointing into the mist screaming that something grabbed her son and had taken him into the fog. The PCs charged into the blinding fog in search of the boy.
A few of the softer PCs helped calm the mother and coaxed her and her kids into the safety of the inn. Unbeknownst to any of the PCs, four Fire Bats lurked in the thick fog. The fog wasn’t a problem for the creatures who relied on sonar to “see.” The PCs struggled to hit the troublesome Bats, and eventually decided to just follow the sounds of the boy who’d been taken.
When they called for their allies to come out of the inn and join them, Sybil insisted that she come too. She said the boy was important and she needed to be part of the group that rescued him.
The group held hands and walked through the mists following the sounds of the boy’s crying. After about 30 minutes the fog broke and they spotted the boy being carried off by a man. When they ran towards the man they realized it was a Zombie. Before they could decide on a plan of action more Zombies emerged from the mists all around them.
The party realized the priority was rescuing the boy so they risked opportunity attacks when necessary to close the distance and get to the boy. With focused fire they easily dropped the lead Zombie and released the boy from its clutches. Sybil was there and the boy immediately jumped into her arms.
The heroes fought valiantly and eventually destroyed all the Zombies they could see. They could hear more shuffling in the mists so they linked arms and ran back the way they came. However, in the fog they were uncertain of what direction they were headed and after an hour they realized they must be lost.
As they stopped to take a short breather, the fog swirled around them and before they knew it Sybil and the boy were gone. From the mists they heard Sybil’s voice recite the following:
The mists have come to take us all
Into a place of great darkness.
Evil lurks within;
An evil that only those of conviction
Have hope of destroying.
A few minutes later the fog cleared and they were on the outskirts of a small town, clearly not the town they’d left earlier that day. This was someplace else. Even the trees looked different and the temperature was a lot colder. A wooden sign on the path ahead read “Welcome to Barovia.”
Now that I’ve had a chance to run and play Suits of the Mist a few times I think I’m in a good spot to provide my thoughts and opinions. I’ll start by saying that I really liked it. Compared to the other 5-part introductory adventures I’d say this was my favourite. And that’s high praise because I think the others were all solid modules.
I really liked the way this module is set up. Right away the players realize there are four separate missions that they’ll have to complete as part of this adventure. The first four parts are all tied together yet they can be done in any order. Each has a compelling NPC who is doing the wrong thing for the right reason and in each case that NPC runs into unexpected problems.
The challenge for me when running this was to get any of the missions completed in under an hour. The introduction and set up took almost an hour every time I ran this. I wasn’t too concerned when this happened with the weekly group, but at a con it ate up too much of the time so I had to really spoon feed he players (not something I enjoy doing).
The missions themselves varied in length which also created some challenges. Again, for groups where time wasn’t an issue the longer missions were quite enjoyable, but at a con it was nearly impossible to complete some of the missions in the 1-hour time slot. Specifically the SWORDS mission. I did find that doing STARS and GLYPHS without a map helped save time, but that wasn’t really practical for COINS or SWORDS.
The first part of THE MISTS, the final mission, was quite difficult to run because of the fog. When using a map it’s hard to depict moving fog and creatures who hide within it. By the second and third time I ran this I all but eliminated the part with the Fire Bats and just beefed up the Zombies.
The players in all cases really felt cheated that Sybil and the boy just disappear into the mist. In one case they tied ropes around everyones’ waist ensuring no one got lost, but for the module to work they have to vanish. I realize Sybuil has a bigger role to play in the storyline but this seemed like a real cheat.
And finally I have to comment on the editing. I try not to nit-pick on this part of the modules because I know how difficult it can be to produce an error-free module, but parts of this mod obviously underwent significant revisions and the final quality check just wants there (SWORDS, we’re looking at you!). After muddling my way though it the first time I was able to apply some tweaks to fix it the next time through, but for an inexperienced DM running this at a con it would be a problem.
Despite my criticisms I want to again state how much I liked this module. It foretold the coming of Ravenloft’s mists and eventually pulled the PCs into Strahd’s realm. Another solid module from Shawn Merwin.
Have you had a chance to run or play Suits of the Mist? What did you think? What was your favourite mission? What parts did you like the least? DMs, what parts did you find most challenging?
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