Calawas - Elf Thief (Katz)
Amalia - High Elf Cleric (Paraj)
Volbak - Dwarf Knight (Jim)
Lamaevhun - Wood Elf Scout (Tim)
Ilsildel - High Elf Wizard (Martin)
Chief - Wood Elf Barbarian (Catherine)
The PCs had decided to head back to Verbobonc to clear their debts by getting rid of their absurdly large book and do their general buying and selling in a large town instead of tiny Hommlet.
The walk there was mostly uneventful, though they did come across a group of traders and peasants making the trek out to Hommlet, until the third day. On that day, near dusk, they saw dust in the distance and wisely decided to get off the road and onto a nearby hillock.
No sooner had they accomplished this than the dust resolved itself into twenty-odd horsemen. From the road these horsemen claimed to be collecting a toll for use of the road in the name of on Lord Diego. Pretty much everyone in the party thought this was a ruse, and a poor one at that, since the admittedly well-equipped men didn't bother with any standards or devices other than a red armband.
After several tense minutes which involved two of the "men-at-arms" entering the camp while leaving the other eighteen on the road in a show of goodwill, Volbak, who has taken on the role of party leader, decided to let them take their tithe and go. Which they did, claiming a pair of crystal goblets and a fine broadsword "for the safe use of the road through the territory of Lord Diego, rightful ruler of these lands."
They reached Verbobonc without further incident.
In Verbobonc was a bit of accounting and a bit of rumourmongering to the effect that the eastern reaches are again becoming unsafe unless you travel in large groups - though not everyone in the city believes that. Notable expenditures included Isildel learning Create Fire after the fiasco with the green slime and the hiring on of a porter by the party, a shield-bearer by Isildel to cover him while casting spells, and a healer by Calowas. Despite groaning over the cost, they chose to pay all three the monthly rate.
In addition, Calowas got an audience with one of the Duke's chancellors and informed the man about the band claiming to be working for a Lord Diego. That got a serious frown and a "we'll send some people to look into it" to which Calowas responded, "We'd be happy to be those people" and the chancellor responded, "No, I think we'll send some soldiers to look into it." Bandit lords claiming territory out from under the rightful duke is nothing to sniff at.
On the way back, the trip out through the populated lands was marked only by the occasional farmer using the road to travel to his neighboring village. However, once they reached the Kron hills, about three days out from Hommlet they were overtaken by a gnomish patrol. Relations with the gnomes were cordial to the point where they camped together and they got a chance to try some of the gnomish marching brew. It was potent stuff; so much so that the party isn't sure where Amalia ended up for the rest of the night.
From the gnomes they learned that there has been an increase in orcish and hobgoblin overland movements to dangerous levels. This very patrol had, four days previous, rousted two trolls from a relatively new den in the hills.
Oh, and did we mention the green dragon? But don't worry about that; it's hardly ever seen.
The next morning they set out and in another three days' time they made it to Hommlet, where the smell of smoke hung in the air, and that's where we stopped.
Don't ever leave a session report as long as I have for this one. I have a strangely good memory for details, but still, it's best to report on these things when they're fresh.
I never actually expected to get use out of my random encounter tables. Not only did I get use out of them, but we actually had a whole session based around them, and they created a plot to boot. Furthermore, with the exception of the accounting in the middle, I'm fairly sure all of the players were engaged and interested in the game. Goes to show that random encounters overland aren't the same thing as random encounters in the dungeon.
Speaking of accounting, does anyone have any tips for making that go as quickly as possible other than do it all between sessions? Sometimes that's not feasible, since I can't end each session back in town.