After character and backstory intros, the party is brought before Pran Paroo, an officer ranking directly below the leader of The Protection (Kan Amnar), who describes a terrible new danger to The People. Several villages throughout Colo'shi have been attacked by a previously unknown race of humanoids, who kill and loot (often taking odd objects rather than valuables) before disappearing back to the steaming jungle. The party is instructed to travel to D'Orshan (a village relatively near The Edge) with great haste, as an attack could fall on that location at any time.
DM Note: In recorded history, The People have never encountered another species like this. They are used to encountering countless variations of strange plants and beasts from the jungle, but they have never met another tool-using species. This had caused immense uproar amongst the entire population aware of the attacks. So far, there are no reasonable theories regarding where they may have come from. (Unreasonable theories, of course, abound.)
DM Note: In normal circumstances, such a group would be led by a seasoned veteran. Kan Amnar, however, has made the decision to send all available personnel to defend the most valuable villages. This decision has been met with some arguments, but Kan is firm in his belief that the attack (or invasion?) must be repelled at all costs. This explains the circumstance of a relatively untrained team being sent. The Protection is simply too short-staffed to defend every village. As it is, Kan has had to make the extremely difficult call regarding which villages receive aid.
After saying farewell (perhaps for the last time?) Arlen, Murmer, T'an S'en, and Jebs trudge westward hastily but resolutely…
Three days of uneventful jungle slogging bring the party to the battlemat: for some reason, this gentle creek before them seems a bit… off. Bubbling slowly, its noxious vapors waft towards the party, and then – is that plant advancing towards us? Of course it is! Welcome to the jungle, baby! Roll for initiative!
A spray of poisoned thorns perforates the party, and then they spring into action: Jebs hits the dirt, cocking his crossbow to let bolts fly, while T'an S'en and Murmer (after a few potshots) bravely advance through the creek, whose acid scorches their flesh. Battle is joined, and the party's blades hack at 3 "shooty plants", who are knocked down but quickly regenerate. Murmer leaps across the creek to pummel a "bitey plant", but the potted pestilence pounces, and begins to draw him into its grotesque maw… "feed me!"
Working together, Jebs and T'an S'en drag one plant, then another, into the acidic waters of the creek, which prevents their regrowth. Arlen keeps Murmer from turning into plant food, and finally the leafy villains are dispatched.
After a short rest, the group continues on Jebs' "shortcut" route, and a day later, the village of [ insert village here ] appears in a clearing ahead.
The headman of the village, Borla D'Orshan (Borla means "village leader") is consulted, and after some discussion of the current peril, it is agreed that while the village works to strengthen the stockade walls and other defenses, the party will look into the disappearance of a villager, who was snatched from a patrol a few days ago. Bread is broken, and beds are made for the weary adventurers. Once 8 hours of sleep have elapsed, fulfilling the D&D 5th edition requirements for a long rest, the group awakes and trudges warily but heedlessly northward, following the path described by their scrawny native guide.
The patch of jungle where the hapless villager was snatched is located, and Jebs examines the trees and vines in the area, performing some creepy ritual which makes the party a bit nervous. He declares that the man who was snatched was fearful and surprised, but not like "what the hell is that thing!?!?!" kind of scared, more like "here we go again!!!". So, what could it mean?
A vague trail is discovered to the north, and so the party follows it…
After an hour or so, rustling is heard overhead, and then, whoosh! Whoosh! In quick succession, one party member after another is snatched into the leaves above. WTF! Time for some Theatre of the Mind!
Exotic ape-like assailants have decided to feast on man-flesh today, and we're on the menu! The sinister simian savages swiftly seize the party members, and it's every man for himself! With some clever teamwork, hooting, and general chaos, the apes are beaten back, and miraculously, no one is even missing any limbs…(although Murmer sustained mortal wounds: see addendum)
The mystery of the disappearing villager thus solved, Jebs, T'an S'en, Arlen, and Murmer return to D'Orshan with their scrawny (but now blooded) guide. It appears that some force is driving the apes and other jungle denizens southward… what could that be?
Some of the names above may differ slightly from those provided during the session. Let's just say that I had a computer syncing problem and lost a few details. If anybody took notes and wants to correct me, go for it.
Here are some other tidbits of info that the party learned during the session. None of these seem strange to the characters, even if they do to the players. After all, this is all the characters have ever known:
• History has traditionally been oral. Recently (the last few generations), some people are starting to write things down.
• The Edge of land consists of un-scalable rock walls. Every few years somebody dies in an attempt to get over them, but nobody ever has.
• Flying animals seem to "top out" at a certain altitude.
• The Protection employs a few Calling Orbs that are strategically positioned throughout the land.
• Members of The Protection wear amulets that receive instantaneous signals from Calling Orbs within range (approximately 8 miles). The wearer of the amulet immediately understands the direction that he/she must travel in order to reach the Calling Orb. Members may also use their amulets to call for help. This only has a range of approximately 1.5 miles. Any other member of The Protection within range will instantly know which direction to travel to reach the individual that made the call. Members of The Protection are trained to only use this feature when aid will result in a positive outcome for The People in general. E.g., it would be frowned upon to use it to simply call other members of The Protection to their likely demise.