Borderland of Adventure Interlude: Reflections on Year 1

Last session, we hit a milestone – we’ve got through an entire year of game time! That’s pretty cool (although at times I marvel that the group is still alive).



In that time we’ve had 23 sessions and one character death (Kemmo). The neophyte adventurers started out at 1st-level and the surviving original characters are now approaching 4th-level. Both non-original characters have reached 3rd-level but are some way behind the originals in terms of XP. (As you may have guessed, I use the slow advancement track). I’m personally happy with the speed of advancement – I hate campaigns in which the characters start out at 1st-level and in a few short weeks have reached 10th (or even higher). I think about three or four levels a year is about right when you take into consideration training times, time spent resting and relaxing, item crafting, periods of the year when you can’t go adventuring (winter), travel times and so on.

Over the last year, they have slowly started to build a reputation for themselves in southern Ratik:

  • Saved the town of Falcon’s Hallow from a terrible plague (Hollows Last Hope) and cleansed an ancient dwarven monastery of the evil lurking within.
  • Explored the Sunless Citadel (The Sunless Citadel) and retrieved the remains of several adventurers slain within while destroying a tribes of goblins and kobolds and slaying a very small dragon and its master (a member of a mysterious dragon-worshipping cult). It was during this adventure that Klara joined the group.
  • Explored the Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands (Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands) and defeated the bandits and goblins dwelling therein as well as defeating various other challenges.
  • Attempted to explore and clear the lost dwarven hold of Khundrukar (Forge of Fury) home to the legendary smith Durgeddin the Black. It was during this adventure that Kemmo gave his life so that his companions might live. I suspect that the PCs will return to this site in the future once they have gained more power.
  • Were present in the isolated monastery of Montelegron (Unhallowed Ground [Dungeon 54]) during the rampage of the undead monk Abel. They subsequently uncovered the location of a holy spring sacred to the god Delleb.
  • Destroyed the foul creature responsible for the deaths of several people in Ratikhill (Afraid of the Dark [Dungeon 57]) earning the gratitude of the mayor and the populace.

Now as the summer of 578 begins to spread across the land, our heroes are preparing to locate and explore the fallen monastery of the Order of the Fire Opal in search of several stolen relics of the god Fharlanghn thought to lie within. Of course, the rumours of a fabulous fire opal with magical powers hidden somewhere in the ruins in no way interests them…

During their adventures they’ve also encountered a number of noteworthy people, but sadly ignored the Sword Lords of Ratik which has lead to Sir Valjo Ilmonen seizing the opportunity to claim lordship over and re-settle the Recovered March (a small border realm nestled in the extreme northern part of the Bone March). They’ve also saved a number of folk from death, imprisonment or worse. These include:

  • Sampo Masterson: A tailor attacked by bandits near the Shadowed Keep who now lives in Ratikhill with his surviving family.
  • Reithic Yurgirn: A dwarf warrior and fledgling merchant, the PC rescued Reithic from the clutches of the bandits lurking in the Shadowed Keep. He now lives in Ratikhill.
  • Raine Eronen: A human wizard skilled at crafting magic items who dwells in the Oakhurst. The party rescued him after a heavy rainstorm collapsed the road he was travelling on, dumping him halfway down a cliff with a broken leg.

Overall, I’m very  happy with how the campaign has progressed thus far and I’m interested to see how things play out in the future. While I have some general plots and schemes (particularly playing on some of the PCs’ backgrounds) I’m leaving the specific course of the campaign up to the players (and what interests their PCs). Of course, sadly, we are now entering the danger zone of adventure for my group; historically we’ve had a lot of character deaths – and even TPKs – around this level. However, hopefully we’ll dodge the death and maiming that has so beset other groups at this level!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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