One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
I'd like to record the (mis)adventures of the latest batch of players to have a go at a campaign with me as their DM. It may take me a few posts to get a feel for how I want to write this up, so bear with me and take from it what you can get. My hope is that you will be inspired in your own campaigns and get a laugh or two in the process. I'll post sporadically as we gather and I have time to spare.
These players are university students in southern Iowa. They include my son and my nephew and a group of guys that playtested my soon-to-be-released mega-adventure in the Canonfire Chronicles. I gave them several options for a pre-Greyhawk Wars (CY 576) campaign including ToEE, Slavers, Savage Tide, and Classics. They liked the sound of all of them, especially any involving pirates, but eventually settled on the classics because, most of all, they wanted to go toe-to-toe Against the Giants, make a Descent Into the Depths of the (O)Earth, and to visit the Vault of the Drow. Thus, I have begun their initiation into my world of 'Greyhawk TPKs' with my Pathfinderized version of The Keep on the Borderlands.
I plan to seed their adventures in and around the Keep with various rumors that will give them the option of where to go next. Options will include Fiend's Embrace, White Plume Mountain, Ravenloft, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, The Isle of Dread, ToEE, A1-A4 Slavers, and even the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk depending upon their level. It will be up to them. However, it is agreed that when they are of the appropriate levels, they will make their way to Geoff and face the giants, et al.
Cast of Characters:
So far, we have the following PCs, though they don't all manage to be available to game at the same time, so the size of the group varies with each session.
Vink, an elven Sorcerer;
Kenny (Gil) (Zeke), an elven Ranger (chose an archetype that specializes in the use of daggers, has a sneak attack, and is working with me to invent feats that focus on trap-setting);
Lawson (Anthony) (Adaven) (Lord Adoril Shieldheart), a human Ranger (bow specialist);
Joseph Lyons, a human Fighter (specializes in Intimidation and disarming);
Swan (Holt), a human Monk;
Blump, a gnome Cleric; and
Ash Ole, a half-elven Fighter (Power Attack).
As the second son of a minor Perrenlander nobleman, Achter Locks stood to inherit nothing but the arms and armor he had been gifted by his father. So, he used it to best advantage and became a successful adventurer. It was during this time that he earned the nom de guerre, 'Dread,' for the vengeance which he visited upon a tribe of orcs from the Clatspurs that had been plaguing human and demi-human settlements. Eventually he chose to establish a stronghold in the northwestern Vesve Forest, just north of the Deepstil River, which is the northern boundary of the Wood Elven realm and 'Lord' was added to his name. He claims and defends the land in a 15 mile radius hemisphere north of the river, centered on his keep. This land is comprised of wooded hills interspersed with occasional human farmsteads and rare, small demi-human enclaves. Generally, the entrenched populace can defend themselves from the depredations of infrequent humanoid raiders while Lord Locks and his forces deal with larger threats to the peace of the realm. The Wolf Nomads to the north do not begrudge the sedentary folks their claims to the land and neither these folks nor Lord Locks object to the nomads' use of the forested hills for shelter or resources. The good folks of Lord Locks' domain do not enter the elven forest south of the Deepstil without invitation, though those guarded folk have not objected to the pursuit of bandits, humanoids, and their ilk into their demesne by Lord Locks' patrols. For his part, Lord Locks is perfectly happy to have the elves extend their own watchfulness into his lands.
Thanks to DrassustheGaunt for this image:
Recently, however, it has come to Lord Locks' attention that large bands of humanoids have been making forays further and further into the northeastern Vesve and they appear to be coming to stay. Thus, he took it upon himself to protect his realm from eventual assault by taking the fight east to help the good people who are his geographic neighbors. He took with him most of the Keep's archers and cavalry and many of his experienced henchmen. He fights a guerilla war against these humanoids with elvish and nomad allies and replenishes his losses with volunteers and mercenaries whenever and whereever they can be found. Our heroes have joined this battle and have now been called up for a special assignment. The elves have been seconded by their leige as a gesture of goodwill.
Lord Locks gathered the PCs for a mission briefing and explained that a lad of 14 summers had arrived with a tale of serious concern. It seems that small bands of the Marrow Suckers hobgoblin tribe have been slipping through to the west and are attacking homesteads very near to Lord Locks' land. Though the PCs are young and their experience is limited, they have demonstrated to their officers that they have become competent soldiers and were, thus, recommended for this assignment. The initial group included five adventurers - all of the above except Joseph Lyons and Blump.
Their first test was Siege of the Highfolk (World of Greyhawk boxed set adventure card). Bergrat Gutfilcher and his four hobgoblin comrads successfully ambushed the party and a near TPK was the result. Swan, Lawson, Vink, and Gil perished. Only Ash survived to fight another day, by hiding and running back to Lord Locks' camp for reinforcements. It was a hard lesson, but the next group was likely to learn from the mistakes of the first.
Note: The 20-sider in my new set of dice seems to roll an inordinately high percentage of 1s and 20s. Thus, the bad guys fumble frequently (DC 20 Reflex save whenever a 1 is rolled) and crit the PCs just as frequently. That's hard at 1st level.
Well, Lord Locks managed to scrape together some reinforcements for the lone survivor, mainly because he was now certain that the Marrow Suckers needed to be dealt with, but could not spare another sorcerer. He did, however, replace the other members with (nearly) identical soldiers (Holt, Zeke, and Anthony) and added a local from his own Keep forces, Joseph Lyons. This group discovers the band of Marrow Suckers engaged in a civil war between the Bonesnapper brothers, Snagger and Rumblegut. Snagger Bonesnapper is holed up in the Brannigan farmstead with several of his faithful warriors while his duplicitous brother tries to convince his larger band of traitors to assault the place, kill Snagger, and establish Rumblegut as the new leader of the band.
Gil and Holt attempt to scout the perimeter of the glade while the other three watch from hiding deeper in the woods behind Rumblegut's forces. Unfortunately, they were not sneaky enough and Gil and Holt took some crossbow bolts to the gut while trying to circumnavigate the farm buildings. Rumblegut sent several of his hobgoblins to investigate what Snagger's followers were shooting at and the PCs' stealth failed them again. A melee ensued and Holt went down, followed shortly by Gil. The noise attracted the rest of Rumblegut's band and the other PCs were hesitant to engage about a dozen more hobgoblins. Unfortunately for the PCs, the hobgoblins saw them and attacked. Many of Rumblegut's warriors fell, but so too did the PCs. All, that is, except Ash. He was taking pot shots at Snagger who had been trying, unsuccessfully, to return the favor through a farmhouse window. As Rumblegut's hobgoblins charged the half-elf, he held up his hands and claimed to be here to help Rumblegut take out Snagger. After some threats and bluffs, he managed to convince Rumblegut that he had not attacked any of his forces, but had wounded Snagger. Ash agreed to lead a charge on the farmhouse, followed by Rumblegut and his twelve remaining hobgoblins, in exchange for the promise that any living hostages held by Snagger would be freed to leave with him. They were all he was there for. His Bluff successfully defeated Rumblegut's Sense Motive, so the charge was made. While Rumblegut's forces fought to gain entry at the windows, Ash and Rumblegut himself managed to force the door against Snagger and another hobgoblin. Rumblegut faced his older brother and was having the worst of the duel until Snagger tripped and landed on his own sword. With the holes from the two longbow arrows Ash had put into him, this was just too much and Snagger's life ended by his own hand.
Rumblegut's rebellion was successful and he honored his agreement with the half-elf and freed the Brannigan family. They high-tailed it out of there and were shortly met by a new group of reinforcements sent by Lord Locks as they had become available. But, that is another tale for another late night.
Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:29 pm; edited 23 times in total
These players are university students in southern Iowa. They include my son and my nephew and a group of guys that playtested my soon-to-be-released mega-adventure in the Canonfire Chronicles. I gave them several options for a pre-Greyhawk Wars (CY 570) campaign including (ToEE, Slavers, Savage Tide, and Classics). They liked the sound of all of them, especially any involving pirates, but eventually settled on the classics because, most of all, they wanted to go toe-to-toe Against the Giants, make a Descent Into the Depths of the (O)Earth, and to visit the Vault of the Drow. Thus, I have begun their initiation into my world of 'Greyhawk TPKs' with my Pathfinderized version of The Keep on the Borderlands...
-The official Return to the Keep seems to put it in the Yeomanry. I put it at the juncture of the Jewel and the Handmaiden, and I've seen at least person here who does as well, although I think the NSEW "orientaion" is different. One of those, or none of the above?
...Bergrat Gutfilcher and his four hobgoblin comrads successfully ambushed the party and a near TPK was the result. Only the half-elven Fighter survived to fight another day, by hiding and running back to Lord Locks' camp for reinforcements...
-The "let the chips fall where they may" school! I'm with you, although Mystic Scholar takes a different route...
Only one of the original five has yet to be killed (Ash, the half-elven Fighter). Most of the others have been killed twice and replaced with identical characters, having had their six stats rerolled (they just equipped them the same and gave them the same feats as their previous characters).
As they advance in level, I intend to have PCs who are killed replaced with new PCs at the same level, but dropped to the minimum amount of experience necessary to reach that level. Thus, there is a small cost to death (and the new PC must have a different name). Secondly, the new PC may keep the old PC's magical equipment if the party was able to salvage it. If not, they'll start with whatever is appropriate for an NPC of that level.
The players are having fun keeping track of how many times each of their PCs dies and bragging each time they survive an encounter (yes, encounter, not adventure). They've discovered the hard way that at first level, a band of hobgoblins in equal numbers to the party is extremely deadly and an owl bear is right out!
Next installment probably not until Sunday or Monday night.
Last edited by SirXaris on Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:53 am; edited 1 time in total
Joseph Lyons was a young soldier who grew up within Lord Locks' demense. He remembered the days of his youth when no lord protected the woods north of the river. Families daring to stake a claim in the woods were at the mercy of wandering humanoids, occasional monstrous beasts, snobbish elves from the southern woods, and even infrequent harassment by northern barbarians. The establishment of the keep was a welcome event and taxes were a small price to pay for the protection it and its forces offered. As soon as he came of age, the young Master Lyons enlisted in the Keep's Watch, eager to join the patrols that had brought a sense of security to his own family's existance.
Now, after three years of such service, his sergeant had brought him a summons from Lord Locks himself. He was assigned the task of leading a small band of soldiers to reinforce an earlier group sent back to the Lord's lands. Joseph's special instructions, and one of the main reasons he had been chosen for this assignment, were to capture members (especially leaders) of any band of humanoids they encountered for interrogation. Rather than stopping a few of them, Lord Locks desired for their plans to be known and countered. Besides himself, this new group consisted of an elven Ranger, Ezekiel (Zeke), and a human Ranger, Adaven. These soldiers quickly made their way back toward the Keep and soon met up with Ash and the survivors of the Brannigan farmstead.
Reviewing their respective remits, the combined group decided the appropriate priority was to escort the Brannigans safely to the Keep. From there, they would return to tracking down humanoids heading that way. They managed to avoid danger until they were nearly to their destination. Approaching the Keep along the northeast road, they spotted an ambush a few dozen yards ahead within the edge of the forest. Zeke tried to sneak up on the ambushers, but was not as skilled as he had thought himself to be. He failed to spot a goblin archer who had spotted him and suffered a crossbow bolt to the ribs for his effort.
Turning and fleeing back through the trees and up the road to stand behind the healthy Fighter (M. Lyons), the elf fitted an arrow to his bow and prepared for the assault. Sure enough, the goblins howled as their ambush was foiled and poured forth from their hiding places. Most ran through the trees along the edge of the road, but a few jumped into the open to make a dash up the road at their prey. Those few suffered a hail of arrows from the party and dropped like flies. As the party turned their missile fire upon those goblins advancing through the trees, however, the results were not so favorable. As the Brannigans retreated back up the road, about eight goblins made it into melee combat with the soldiers. Joseph Lyons, having taken the lead in facing the goblins, took the brunt of their attacks and suffered grievous bodily wounds, while the others suffered lighter degrees of damage. Never-the-less, the goblins suffered death - not a single one having been given the opportunity even to flee. Zeke and Lyons, being near death, had to be given assistance the rest of the way to the keep.
Note: Before I handed the players their copy of this map, I burned the edges all around with a match to make it look more authentic. Specifically, I burned the entire upper right-hand corner, completely obliterating the portion titled "Here, there be monsters". As a result, my fledgling players had no idea that the Caves of Chaos were located in that spot and they were able to make an honest effort to systematically begin exploring every inch of the map looking for it.
Note: Also, notice the year indicated on the map. This worked very well as this campaign is begun in 576 CY. With the map being over 400 years old, it worked well that there is no longer a watch tower where the Cave of the Unknown is now and that other names are not the same as are in current use. It also shows well that Sir Achter 'Dread' Locks rebuilt the ruined keep that stood on the mesa and accurately duplicated the original in design.
Upon arrival at the Keep, the group was given only a cursory questioning by the gate guards and allowed entrance because Joseph was a known member of their team. The group escorted the Brannigans to see Abdiel, the head Cleric of Heironeous at the temple. There, they received some healing and an invitation to return as needed. They reported to the Captain of the Watch and were told to return on the morrow. They spent the rest of the day visiting the smith, the provisioner, and the trader, who were all known to Joseph. The next morning, they were interviewed by the Captain of the Watch and ordered to return to the Brannigan farmstead and finish off Rumblegut's band of Marrow Suckers.
The next morning, they made all haste back to the farmstead, but discovered the hobgoblins had departed with all the livestock after trashing the place. They tracked them through the woods, west toward the Keep, until the Rangers noted a splitting of the forces. Apparently, about half a dozen of the hobgoblins continued their trek westward while another group took the pigs, sheep, and horses from the Brannigan farmstead north toward the east/west track through the forest. They elected to follow the group with the livestock and found that they crossed the road and turned west again. This group was followed until they crossed the north/south road between the Keep and the Wolf Nomad city of Eru Tovar. Continuing west, the party caught up with these hobgoblins at their camp in the woods. The planned ambush was bungled due to indecision and the six hobgoblins around the fire rushed to attack. Never-the-less, once in combat, the soldiers acted with precision and battled effectively. Ash managed to remain unseen and flanked the hobgoblins to deadly effect while the others fought blade to blade. Rumblegut, himself, was being flanked by Zeke and Ash when private Lyons stepped up, disarmed him, head-butted him, and shouted into his bloody face to surrender! Rumblegut immediately stumbled backward and had a seat on the ground. Zeke was tempted to kill him, but bound him instead. The last hobgoblin, who had been trading bowshots with Adaven, turned and fled. The severely wounded soldiers elected not to give chase, but instead, collected their prisoner and the livestock and hastened back to the Keep.
(Note: I gave Lyons a -10 penalty to his Intimidate roll since Rumblegut was currently involved in combat, but he still beat the hobgoblin's Sense Motive and succeeded in intimidating him right out of combat. )
There, they were well-received by their fellow guardsmen, Abdiel and his underlings, the Brannigans (who were elated at the rescue of their livestock), and their own superiors. Farmer Brannigan informed the PCs that, of the eight horses, only the two draft animals were his. The Captain of the Watch then verified that those six horses were now the property of the PCs as spoils of war. They chose to sell two and keep four of them.
The Captain of the Watch then ordered the PCs to make the Keep their base of opperations while continuing their pursuit of humanoids infiltrating the lands round about. As most of the members of the squad were not familiar with the Keep and its lands, they were to spend a week accompanying patrols to learn the lay of the land and the peoples who inhabit it. These patrols were successful in those two efforts, but they did not provide the party much in the way of combat, for they always numbered at least ten mounted soldiers, well armed and armored. Potential enemies rarely showed themselves to such a group. When the week was ended, they elected to begin exploring the keep environs more thoroughly, though they took the warning to avoid the swamp to heart.
Joseph Lyons was required to spend some time at the Keep itself and Swan wished to stay and participate in the interrogation of Rumblegut, so Ash and the two Rangers (Zeke and Adaven) went out alone. While exploring the forested hills north of the Keep, they kept running into small bands of hobgoblins. They avoided a melee with a couple of black bears, but couldn't seem to avoid the high jebli. They eventually deduced that, since each and every one of the hobgoblins they killed wore the symbol of the Marrow Suckers tribe upon their armor or shield, they must be hunting them. (The truth is that having a 30% chance of an encounter in the forest and a 6% chance that such an encounter was with hobgoblins, I just happened to roll four encounters with bands of hobgoblins out of seven total wandering monster encounters! )
These encounters were taking a toll on the three warriors, however. Lacking curative magics, they had to rely on overnight rest for healing. With the frequency of encounters, this was proving stressful. They managed to find an overhang along a small stream that they could camp under. A small fire on the beach and their backs to the cliff wall under the overhang made for a better defensive position than the clearing they had stayed in the previous nights in the forest. Bears and a couple bands of hobgoblins had made those rests poor ones. This time, they stacked brush around their camp for some concealment and Zeke set some alarm wires with tiny bells attached around the edge of the camp and just on the other side of the shallow stream. This alarm system had proved successful on previous nights and did so again when the third band of hobgoblins attempted to sneak up on them. The fight was vicious, but the PCs survived, barely. They needed to rest as it was a long way back to the Keep and Ash was uncounscious from his wounds. The next day, as they continued their rest, another small band of hobgoblins tracked them down. This group was only three strong, but they were more experienced warriors led by none other than Bergrat Gutfilcher, the very same Marrow Sucker subchief responsible for ambushing and killing most of the original group of PCs. Bergrat and his subordinates dealt serious injury to the three PCs, but Bergrat chose to flee for his life when his compatriots fell.
Again, the soldiers felt the need to rest before wandering out in the suspiciously dangerous woodlands. They reinforced their abatis with a few captured spears, set two loaded crossbows (from the most recent hobgoblin attackers) on a large stone to be grabbed and fired quickly, reset the alarm wires (unsuccessfully: I rolled a natural 1 for his attempt at setting the trap this time), and attempted to get some more rest. While the others slept, Ash's attention wandered on guard duty. The hungry owlbear that chanced upon their scent wandered right through the failed alarm trap and snuck right up behind the sentry, who had failed his Perception check against the owlbear's stealth check. The owlbear's initial claw attack slammed the half-elf against the back wall of the overhang and left him unconscious and bleeding. It did, however, wake the other two. Adaven immeditately engaged the owlbear with his sword while Zeke moved around at a distance and began to fire crossbow bolts at its flank. The owlbear suffered some damage from the attacks of the two, then returned the favor on the body of Adaven. It's attacks were limited, however, as it stumbled over the blocking abatis and lost its full alotment of attacks that round. Adaven's defense held through the next few rounds until he managed to score a critical hit and stabbed the owlbear through the heart. Several crossbow bolts in its side attested to the effectiveness of Zeke's contribution and hid the fact that he planned to flee if the human went down to the owlbear's assault.
In shock at their survival, they eventually remembered to bandage the half-elf before he died of his wounds. Thinking they had no choice, they elected to rest just one more day, until they were all conscious and mobile. Then, they would make for the ruins of the watchtower shown on the ancient map they carried - the one they had taken from the body of one of the Marrow Suckers.
To be continued...
Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Dec 11, 2020 9:44 pm; edited 19 times in total
The night attack of the owlbear had disrupted the party's rest and plans to move soon. Fortunately, they were not disturbed until dusk the following evening. Ash had recovered consciousness, but was barely fit for battle. Never-the-less, when Zeke signaled that visitors had been spotted advancing up the stream, all three soldiers hefted their arms and prepared to fight.
Eight goblins (no, not hobgoblins, this time ) marched boisterously along the shallow creek's course, splashing and cursing as they came, apparently oblivious to the PCs lying in wait behind their cover. As the goblins came in range, the party let fly with crossbows and longbows. Three goblins fell to the four missiles and the rest scattered into the forest. They did not scatter far, however, but charged and battled our heroes until only two remained to flee. One was successful.
Our warriors then decided that they just couldn't afford to stay in that location any longer. It was not safe enough for them to heal, but they didn't want to travel in the dark. So, at first light, they made for the large clearing with a watchtower indicated on their ancient map (dated 137 CY). The night had, miraculously, proven uneventful and their half-day trek through the woods to the clearing did likewise. However, upon pausing at the edge of the half-mile by quarter-mile wide clearing to ponder the best approach to the mound of stone near its center, they observed what appeared from a distance to be four elves racing from the northeastern edge of the clearing directly for the mound of stones. As the party watched from a more westerly position at the clearing's edge, a rather large band of goblins emerged from the forest in pursuit of these elves. The elves took up defensive positions among the stones and fired some missiles into the advancing humanoids. Three of those in front fell, pierced by arrow or bolt. Curiously, the tall, red-haired female elf had not drawn a bow of any kind, but stood in the vanguard of defense ready to receive the first of the assault.
Behind the score of goblins emerging from the forest came two more mounted upon enormous wolves (worgs). At this point, the warriors determined to assist the elves and each fired their bow (Ash and Adaven) or crossbow (Zeke). Three goblins fell on the goblins' right flank. One of the worg-mounted goblins and three of the infantry turned to face the PCs. Only the worg and its rider arrived alive to confront the warriors through the next volley and several more of those racing toward the elves fell, two of them snuffed by daggers thrown by the tall red-head, who then hefted a longspear with which to meet the charge of the goblin bridage. As the two separate melee's became close-in brawls, our heroes had all they could do to survive the attacks of the worg and its rider without trying to keep abreast of the fight on the mound. They did manage to kill both goblin and worg with only Ash suffering wounds sufficient to nearly kill him. Ash's bleeding was stopped and Zeke and Adaven carried him over to the mound to communicate with the elves.
They discovered that the tall, red-headed female was called Alejander and led the group. Her compatriots consisted of two elven archers and a human crossbowman. She said that she had traveled a long way from the south seeking adventure in these parts and asked the two if any Paladin lords had arrived at the Keep lately. She explained that she and her friends had been out here in the wilderness for quite some time, so were interested in such recent news. Ash and Adaven commented that, 'No', they had not noted any such personages at the keep while they had been there. Alejander's attitude seemed to perk up a bit at that information and she pulled a healing potion from her belt pouch and offered it in thanks for the party's assistance. They immediately used it to revive Ash. The two groups agreed to camp on the stone mound for safety, then to return to the Keep for some rest at dawn.
(DM's Note: If you have seen Arnold Swartzenegger's Conan, you will remember the stone mound he climbed when escaping slavery with dogs in pursuit. With that image in mind, you can likely guess what comes next. )
Last edited by SirXaris on Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:16 pm; edited 6 times in total
Having vanguished the goblin horde, the members of both groups were highly relieved to pass the night uneventfully amongst the chaotic tumble of rocks on the smallish mound. At first light, they hied themselves to the Keep where they parted company. The three soldiers immediately reported to the Captain of the Watch at the barbican (the small fortified gatehouse dividing the common half of the Keep from the military half). They made a short report of their activities and were dismissed with instructions to see Abdiel at the temple and to get some rest before returning to duty. They claimed the bounties for the humanoids they slew (a bag of right hands was offered as proof), but were told that no bounty was being offered for monsters like owlbears. The claw did inspire the clerk to record the deed and assure the soldiers that the authorities at the Keep were keeping close track of the monstrous activity within Lord Locks' demesne (humanoid and otherwise) and that proof of such deeds would certainly be remarked upon by those authorities.
Abdiel and his acolytes were happy to see the party return alive after another successful sortie. As the acolytes were assisting them with healing spells, Abdiel introduced them to a well-armed and armored gnome prominently wearing a holy symbol about his neck. His breastplate gleamed and a sharpened, masterfully crafted battle axe swung easily at his belt, while a simple sling hung from the opposite hip. In one hand, an embossed steel shield with Liga emblazoned upon its surface reflected the afternoon light from the stained glass windows above the entryway in a magical dance before their eyes. Tucked into his belt in front was a rather unimpressive wooden rod.
"Please let me introduce you to brother Blump, a servant of Garl Glittergold and friend to the servants of Heironeous. He hails from the Sepia Uplands and has adventured in our region previously. I have already told him of your recent exploits and will allow him to explain his reason for wishing to meet you. Please know that he has my respect and faith in his trustworthiness and abilities."
At this, Blump congratulated the PCs on their successes and expressed his sympathies for lost friends. He explained that he and an ecclectic group of companions gathered from various neighborhoods in the High Vale had traveled to this area the previous summer and sought to make a name for themselves through adventuring. Alas, pride had been their immediate downfall as Blump, himself, had caused the group to be fired upon by the gate guard, imprisoned in the keep, seriously fined, and himself being exiled from the Keep for a time. But, that is a story for another time. Unfortunately, the dangers of the area proved too much for most of his group and only three survived. Parting ways, the elf returned to the Vesve, Albus the Bastard retreated to a life of more scholarly pursuits, and Blump decided to return home for a rest and some holy contemplation. Now, however, he is ready to return to the fight against evil and wished to join the PCs in their mission. Abdiel handed the soldiers a parchment with the Captain of the Watch's signature approving the addition of the gnome Cleric to the mission as an outside consultant. The soldiers gave up trying to contain their excitement at finally having access to healing magic while in the field and welcomed Blump to their party.
After visiting Abdiel, Ash went to see the smith, Master Hamner, about the masterwork longsword he had commissioned earlier. Master Hamner was generally a bit gruff with curious customers, but Ash had won his respect, largely due to the expensive work which he had commissioned. The smith didn't frequently have an opportunity to spend the time working on a masterful piece of product like this, so appreciated such a job being financed.
"Please, please! To you, I am Armand! You are my friend, Master Ash!" bellowed the ebulient weaponsmith. "Come see how she progresses! I have almost finished folding the blade!" Ash was not much impressed at the beauty the smith saw in the flat, cold metal rod Master Hamner produced for his inspection, but understood a bit about the necessary repetitive process of heating the bar, flattening it with a hammer upon an anvil, folding it in half upon itself, flattening it again, and cooling it. He knew Armand was not deceiving him when he said it would take a month to finish. Despite that, Ash was extremely anxious to swing such a fine weapon as he imagined it would be in combat.
Departing the smithy, Ash rejoined his friends at the tavern. The locals cast them surreptitious glances, but their soldier colleagues were not so shy, chatting with them about their recent adventures and sharing rumors and information about the region. Amongst unverifiable rumors about monsters, treasures, and traps in and around the lost Caves of Chaos (unverifiable, they were assured, because no one had ever returned from the Caves alive), came some additional background about Lord Locks. They learned that the Laird had taken about two thirds of the Keep's cavalry and one third each of its infantry and archers with him when he left a year ago to combat the humanoid invasion of the Vesve from the lands of Iuz to the east. This, they understood, was the reason the Castellan currently lacked the forces necessary to maintain sufficient patrols of the demesne and adventuring types were highly prized. They had always felt that being assigned to such a mission was a high honor for such as themselves, but now knew that the assignment was even more important than they had previously believed. They learned that the Keep's leadership was on friendly terms with the elves south of the Deepstil and that the Keep's patrols scouted the south bank of the river occasionally, but, out of respect for the insular nature of their elven neighbors, did not violate the perimeter of the forest on that side of the river unless in visual pursuit of their quarry. Asking about the swamp, they were warned in shocked, serious tones not to venture within unless they had a death wish. The members of the Watch and the Guard told tales of sightings and minor scrapes with groups of undead, even ghouls(!), of lizardfolk, and more terrifying denizens. The party wasn't sure how much of this to take at face value, but a strangely dressed halfing Barbarian who had been listening at a nearby table piped up and swore that he had seen an extremely large rat staring at him as he passed near the swamp along the road to the Keep. He described how that giant rat had changed into the shape of a scrawny, filthy man before his eyes as the mist of the marsh enveloped him.
As the soldiers eventually rose to adjourn for bed, this halfling, miniature great axe and all, told them he had decided to join their ranks. He had come east from his home in the Clatspurs where he had tired of battling giant-kin and hoped for some excitement in the forest. The soldiers figured the worst that could come of it was that, since he was shorter and, therefore, slower than them, he could serve as a distraction to the next owlbear they encountered. So, they told him they were game, but that he would have to get permission from their superior, the Captain of the Watch to accompany them. The next morning, the halfing, calling himself Drago, met them at the front gate mounted upon a war pony.
"This is my little pony, Ginger!" Drago cheerfully greeted his new compatriots as he handed them a commission to join their mission as a contracted outside consultant. It was signed by the Captain, so they handed it back and welcomed the miniature Barbarian to the group without objection. At that moment, Blump rode up to the gate dressed for battle and mounted upon an enormous dog - a Mastiff, he explained. The soldiers had to admit that it looked a bit more formidable than the Perrender war dogs (Rotweilers) used as guard dogs by the two Corporals of the Watch (Rangers, by trade). Escorting him was Joseph Lyons.
The group was extremely curious about the mound of stones they had camped upon and the lack of a watchtower as indicated on their map. Neither their captain, nor any of the soldiers in the tavern had ever known a tower of any kind to exist there. However, they decided that they needed to continue a more logcial progression of search within Lord Locks' demesne in order to (re)discover the location of the legendary Caves of Chaos. So, they headed back into the forested hills north and west of the Keep. (Their captain had explained that the Caves apparently have a curse upon them that causes knowledge of their location to fade from the mind of anyone who has visited or been told of it within a month of the last such incident. Likewise, ink, charcoal, paints and all other methods of recording such location fade altogether within the same period of time. Thus, Lord Locks maintained regular patrols to the area specifically so that the Keep's leadership and many other soldiers would constantly remember their location. Unfortunately, with the depletion of man-power, such patrols were neglected and now the Caves cannot be found.)
Though Ash, Adaven, and Zeke were more comfortable on foot than on horses, Joseph Lyons had elected to ride one of the light war horses the group had captured from Rumblegut's band. Thus, the party of six made its next sortie from the Keep, three on foot and three mounted upon a horse, a pony, and a dog, all trained for war, in the wee hours of what promised to be an eventful day.
Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Dec 11, 2020 10:06 pm; edited 14 times in total
Traveling north and a bit westward from the Keep, the group was embarassed to be accosted by a group of elves who managed to surround them and get the drop on them with drawn bows. However, parley soon had the groups both able to lower their guards a bit and the elves explained that they were an ambassadorial mission from their small enclave north of Lord Locks' demesne to the Wood Elves of the Vesve seeking refuge within their realm for their extended families. They explained that life was becoming too difficult and dangerous for their small community and that, if the Wood Elves granted permission, they would return for their families and escort them all south to the protection the larger kingdom offered. In exchange, the party shared the information they had gleaned of the dangers of the area and the distance to the Keep and the ford across the Deepstil. As the groups parted company, the elven leader of the small band warned the party to keep their eyes open for something, or someone, that he believed was following them (the elves). He hadn't gotten a good look at it, or them, but was sure something was stealthily paralelling their course.
It didn't take the party long to verify the truth of the elven leader's suspicions. Zeke and Adaven scouted in advance of the mounted three and Ash who traveled abreast, but spread out a few feet as they traversed the moderately dense forested landscape. Adaven happened to turn just in time to spy a creature drop from a tree onto the back of Joseph's horse. As he called a warning, Zeke saw a large cat pounce from the brush onto Adaven's back and bear him to the ground while taking a bite on his shoulder. The cat then held its ground over the prone form of Adaven who immediately froze as he felt the warm breath of the carnivore upon the back of his neck. Joseph struggled to turn around in his saddle to reach whatever was accosting him back there, but felt unharmed as he spied a wild-looking halfling drop to the side of his horse and dart directly underneath it. Blump spied the little thug beneath Lyons' mount with a dagger and a crossbow in his hands. Dismounting in order to strike at him without hitting the horse, he watched the assailant slash the belly of the horse before suffering a slash across his shoulder from Blump's battle axe. The diminuative demon, then darted out from under the horse, right into the path of Ash, who had moved to intercept him. His best hope for retreat was blocked by another wild-eyed Halfling (Drago) charging with a raised great axe.
Zeke rushed to Adaven's defense and engaged the cat in a viscious exchange of blade, tooth, and claw which allowed the half-elf to regain his feet and join in the battle. The goblin-sized attacker tumbled past Ash and Drago with an impressive display of acrobatic skill, but suffered a slash from one of the two in the process. At that point, both he and the cat broke in retreat. Zeke stuck a crossbow bolt into the cat's flank as it attempted to escape and Lyons fell from his horse, saddle and all, as he reached for his own crossbow. Wanting to add his own 'Hail Marry' to the fleeing foes, he struggled to his feet only to discover that his crossbow was missing and the girth strap holding his saddle in place had been cleanly cut. At least his horse was unharmed. A final glance at the disappearing figure confirmed that the crossbow was now in its theiving possession.
The party agreed that the Rangers should have little trouble following the trail of such a large amount of blood as those two were surely losing, so they began the chase. The trail twisted and turned, crossed gullies and streams, backtracked, rose into the branches of the trees, and did some impressive work in its attempt to throw off pursuit, but the collective skill of the Rangers, mastiff, and even Ginger (who had been trained to track) could not be disuaded. After several hours of tracking, the trail began to cross traps purposefully set in advance in order to harm pursuers. A shallow, covered pit, just deep enough to tear an ankle, full of sharpened stakes was the first trap the party discovered. Engrossed in their work, the Rangers were warned away when Ginger shied back from the trail before stepping into the pit. Other rather ingenious traps were discovered and avoided as they progressed, including one simply composed of thin stakes driven into the dirt wall of a gully and covered with a thin layer of leaves, dirt, then more leaves and twigs. To an untrained eye, the gully appeared to narrow in this spot just enough for a man to make a running leap from the (false) edge and successfully cover the distance. Such an attempt would have resulted in the false edge giving way beneath the weight of any jumper, dumping him or her into the gully 20 feet below. Zeke was begrudgingly impressed with some of the traps and stored the knowledge for later use.
Eventually, however, all trackers lost the trail as it entered another stream. The blood trail had nearly disappeared, so it was surmised that their quarry had stopped to bandage its wounds and no exit from the rivulet could be found, up or downstream. The best they could determine was that the wandering pursuit had been leading them in a generally southeasterly direction through the woods and they estimated that they were near to the watchtower clearing. So, they chose to continue in that direction.
Soon, Zeke spotted two gnolls waiting in ambush at the same time the gnolls spotted him. He darted back to the rest of the group, but suffered a severe wound to the calf from a rather large arrow. He was extremely greatful to whatever god or goddess that had protected him from the second such missile. He immediately warned the group of the location of the gnolls and hid behind Ash, who fired a return shot at the beasts. Blump immediately charged, followed closely by Lyons and Drago. Adaven advanced on foot and fired his own arrow. After dodging more over-sized missiles from the largish humanoids, Blump, who arrived first, demonstrated some impressive riding acrobatics by standing in the saddle of his Mastiff mount and launching himself at the nearest gnoll. The gnoll dodged the flying, armored form, but suffered a slash to the shoulder blade in the process. Impressed with the Cleric's daring, Lyons' attempt to emulate the gnome's stunt resulted in the Fighter flying well past his intended target, receiving a slice to the belly from its battle axe, and a painful crash landing upon the root-covered forest floor. The more cautious Barbarian and Adaven, however, engaged the gnolls afoot and were able to successfully defeat them when Blump and Lyons regained their feet and returned to the battle. Along with some useful coins, Ash and Adaven each claimed an unimpressively made, but powerfully strong bow from the gnolls' belonging. Lyons jokingly demanded that their colleagues at the Keep never hear of the incident.
Upon resuming their trek to the watchtower mound, they encountered a band of 11 gnomes headed for the Keep. Initial suspicion by each group (the gnomes appeared to be goblins from a distance to the party and the party all looked like orcs to the gnomes - 'All you tallfolk look alike to us') was alieved when Blump recognized the gnomish language being used by the other group. Hailing them in their own language, parley was established and they shared information. After describing their recent encounter, the gnomes explained that the owner of the feline was, in fact, the Mad Hermit of the Woods, who lives in these parts. They assured the party that he is human, though smallish in stature, and that he is mostly harmless unless someone steals from him or harms his cat. Remembering the blood, the party was not reassured at this point. Parting company, Zeke, who had been rather sulky during the exchange because he was certain that a couple of the gnomes had spied his carefully concealed location, returned to the group beaming with confidence because one of the gnomes (which he was certain was female) had winked at him as they departed. Blump commented that she was likely just letting Zeke know that she had detected him in the brush, but Zeke interpreted it as identical to her having blown him a kiss and spent the following evening pondering the possibilities of having a gnomish girlfriend. That is, until his daydreams were rudely interrupted by the sound of multiple alarm bells...
The party continued on until they reached the jumbled mound of stone in the watchtower clearing. There, they set up camp amongst what they took for ruins of an ancient tower and prepared to explore it more carefully at next light. Zeke set his alarm bells and wires around the perimeter of the mound, which was roughly 60 feet in diameter. The others set out their bedrolls and fell asleep while Zeke continued his work and sat upon one of the topmost rocks to keep the first watch. He was rather enjoying his fantasies when, most rudely, all his alarm bells sounded, one right after the other. Focusing upon the perimeter, he saw nearly a score of skeletons clambering up the stony mound to get at him and his companions. Calling a warning, he drew his sap (the only bludgeoning weapon he possessed), and mounted the highest stony projection to meet the undead assault.
Each of the party members arose to discover the skeletal assailants nearly upon them, except Adaven who snored blissfully away. Blump had, unfortunately, positioned his bedroll nearer to the perimeter than the others and suffered an immediate stab wound to the thigh for that lack of foresight. The group immediately flailed away with the flats of their blades and dodged nearly innumerable hacks and slashes from their attackers. Ash ignored his weapons and picked up small rocks to harden the punches he attempted to bludgeon his assailants with. Still, Adaven dreamed. As few of their undead assailants fell and more surmounted the stone ruins of the fallen tower, Blump thought to collapse part of the stone ruin underneath the feet of several of the skeletons. To this end, he charged the remnant of the wall and slammed it with his shoulder. Unfortunately, his footing was unsure and he slipped on the gravel as he made the final lunge. This weak bullrush attempt at the wall did little more than dislodge a bit of dust, but stunned Blump impressively. Falling back to the center of the mound, the party battled for its life until Blump regained his wits and recalled that skeletons were a perfect example of the optimum time to make use of his ability to channel positive energy. At his next opportunity, he summoned the divine power and a blast of blue-tinted energy erupted from his center in a 30 foot radius. As the adventurers felt the magical pulse in their psyches, they saw every skeleton explode into dust. Coughing in the polluted air, Adaven awakened to inquire the reason for the interruption of his rest.
As Ash opened his mouth for a retort, he disappeared into the mound: sucked beneath the earth as if it were quicksand. His friends rushed to the spot and saw a cloud of dust rising from a hole in the ground. Calling for their friend, they heard his laughing reply that he was unharmed. (He had fallen 10 feet onto a 5 foot tall pile of debris and rolled to the bottom without suffering any injury due to a successful Reflex save.) When the dust cleared, a shaft of moonlight illuminated the small pile of rubble and wood and Ash determined that the ground at the edges of that pile was worked stone. However, he could not see well enough to determine anything else about the hole he had fallen into. Blump bravely dove into the hole, but was embarassingly less successful in his acrobatics attempt than Ash had been and had the wind knocked out of him as he lay on his back at the base of the pile of rubble with Ash crouched above him, smiling down upon his prone form. Adaven, who had been in the process of tying a rope to a grappling hook, fastened it to the ruins above, dropped a lit torch to Ash's waiting hand, and descended safely through the hole. He was soon followed by Lyons, Zeke, and Drago.
Within, they discovered that they were in a 20 by 40 foot room of worked stone. Standing at silent attention against three of the walls were a host of human skeletons armed and armored in chain and splint. Seated in an impressive chair against the far wall was another skeletal figure wearing a breastplate. All members of the party knew full well the likely result of tampering with anything in this room, but Zeke's curiosity got the better of him (or, perhaps, it was his penchant for trouble). He approached the enthroned figure and studied it more closely. Upon its brow sat a golden halo with a red gem in the center. Upon its left hand, it wore a ruby ring. It's right hand extended beyond the throne's armrest and gripped the pommel of a bastard sword with its tip resting on the floor by the figure's feet. Alas, the figure and all that it held and wore were covered in a thin calcite encrustation from water dripping from the ceiling so a proper appraisal of the jewelry's value could not be made. Against the warning of his companions, Zeke grasped the sword's hilt and pulled it from the seated skeleton. Of course, it didn't work. The boney hand clenched the pommel of the sword tightly and refused to relinguish its treasure. At the same time, the 20 armed skeletons against the walls came to unlife and moved to assault the party spread throughout the room. The majority of these undead (normal skeletons) were quickly snuffed out as Blump did not hesitate this time to call upon the divine power of channeling positive energy. Unfortunately, the four splintmail armored skeletons immediately in front of the throne were not so easily overcome. They focused their attacks upon Zeke until Lyons and the others managed to force themselves between the desparately spinning elf and his enraged foes (2nd level Skeletal Warriors). The battle was fierce and Lyons was knocked unconscious as he suffered life-threatening injuries. Ash, also, was so near death that the party retreated back up the hole upon finishing off the last of the skeletal guards. As Adaven, the last up the rope through the hole in the ceiling, glanced back at the seated figure who hadn't risen from its place, he thought he saw a rictus grin on the skeletal face beneath the circleted helm.
The companions soon discovered that Lyons had suffered grievous injury and would likely die without magical aid. Unfortunately, Blump had used all of the divine healing power at his command. So, Lyon's wounds were bound and it was decided that Blump would immediately set out leading Lyons' horse with Lyons strapped to its saddle in the hopes that he could reach the keep in time to save his life. (Those two players had to leave.) Ash's body was bandaged and left to rest while the remaining conscious three (Zeke, Adaven, and Drago) debated the wisdom of making another attempt at the treasures in possession of the enthroned skeleton. Adaven and Drago felt it was unwise to tackle that task until they had reinforcements, but Zeke would not be disuaded. Reluctantly, Adaven and Drago followed the maniacally enthusiastic Zeke back into the pit. Lit torch in hand, the three closely observed the figure and made their plans (aloud, right there in front of it ). Drago suggested that Adaven forego the use of his longsword, which had proved nearly useless in the previous battle, in favor of Ash's trick with the rocks. Drago himself was content to use the flat side of his great axe. Adaven, however, declined to take the advice.
Adaven stood to the figure's right, longsword raised on high in preparation for a downward stroke that would severe the skeletal forearm grasping the bastard sword's pommel. Zeke positioned himself in front of the skeletal figure with hand outstretched in preparation to grab the sword as soon as the arm was severed. Drago stood to the left of the throne, ready to attack with his great axe as soon as it appeared necessary. As Adaven initiated the strike, I had him roll initiative against the seated skeletal figure (a 4th level Skeletal Champion, 16 Dex, 17 Strength, Improved Initiative, Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword, Weapon Focus: Bastard Sword, etc.). Adaven lost. The Ancient Lord grasped his sword, moved his arm out of the way of Adaven's strike, flipped the sword up vertically in front of Zeke's face, and swung it backhand at Adaven as the Ranger's strike cut deeply into the arm of the throne. As the undead lord's blade swung toward Adaven's neck, the hilt inexplicably slipped from its bony grasp and clattered against the wall just over the Ranger's shoulder. Drago immediately swung his great axe in an effort to decapitate the skeleton, but it ducked and jumped from its seat... Right into a right cross from Zeke's sap.
Going with the force of the blow to the left side of his jaw, the skeletal warrior jumped to his right, between Zeke and Adaven to retrieve his sword. Zeke jumped with him and contested his grip on the weapon. Not for long, however, as the undead's greater strength quickly wrenched the blade free of the rogue's grip. Adaven made a skilled thrust which penetrated the chain of the skeleton's armor nicely, but slipped right through the empty air between the bones, causing it no damage. Zeke jumped back as Drago waded into the fight with his over-sized axe. The ancient skeletal lord swung a downward strike at the crazy Barbarian, but fate again played a cruel joke upon the timeless warrior and his grip on the calcified hilt failed him again. This time the sword flew over the halfling's head to clang against the far wall of the room. Zeke immediately retrieved it and ran toward the rope secured above the pile of rubble under the hole that had been their fateful entrance to the pit. Ignoring the blows from longsword and great axe, the skeleton pursued Zeke to the pile. Zeke had to choose between suffering mulitiple flat-footed attacks from the adjacent skeletal warrior (who had stooped to pick up a longsword from among the many weapons of the previously destroyed skeletal guards) or temporarily abandon the attempt to escape the dungeon room. Inexpertly swinging the bastard sword, it slipped from his hand and fell at the undead's feet. Wisely, he ran. Drago and Adaven interposed themselves between the undead lord and Zeke and fought furiously, though rather ineffectually. Zeke frantically took a moment to use his elven senses to glance around the smallish room to see if he could detect any other egress. His inspiration was rewarded as he detected the outline of a secret door at the other end of the room on the south wall to the left of the throne. As Adaven and Drago fell to the attacks of the enfuriated skeleton, Zeke opened the hidden doorway, stepped into a dark passageway, and closed the door behind him.
He listened for a few seconds, but heard nothing. Then, he lit a torch and followed the narrow passage straight south for about half a mile. There, it ended in a vertical passage, much like a well, rising out of sight. A pile of detritus at the base of the wall may have been an old wooden ladder, but iron rungs showed in the passage above his head. He managed to reach the first rung with a good jump and climbed until he came to an iron trap door. No lock was apparent, but he couldn't force it open. He made several attempts as his strength allowed, but still couldn't force it open. He returned to the secret door and listened, but heard nothing. Each day, for three days, he repeated the process with failure (I allowed him four attempts to force the door each day: DC 20 Strength check - he needed to roll an 18 for success). He began to despair and regretted that Ash must, also, surely be dead by now as his body had been left above with only Ginger to keep watch. He had seen Drago and Adaven fall to the blade of the skeleton king, so they could not have saved him from the monsters roaming so frequently in this wilderness. Finally, as hunger began to be a serious concern for him, Zeke succeeded in a desperate effort of will and forced the iron door open a crack - just enough to slip a blade, then a weapon haft, into. Wishing he had chosen to equip himself with a crowbar, he worked and worked until he had pried open the door enough to squeaze his body out. Pulling himself into the open air, he saw that the ages had covered the trap door with a layer of dirt and debris almost a foot thick which even included a few small tree roots. He deduced that the secret passage had taken him south of the tower clearing into the forest, so he continued south until he emerged from the woods upon the familiar east/west road to the Keep. There he ran, for salvation.
Ash, however, had not died. His wounds had been dressed by his friends before they returned to the depths of the watchtower dungeon and over the course of three nights of unconscious rest, he had regained enough health to awaken, though he was still barely able to rise and walk. Drago had instructed Ginger to guard Ash, but hadn't expected to be gone long. Ginger did her best to obey and, fortunately, no threats presented themselves in a manner that required such obedience from her. However, after a couple of days upon the barren mound, she needed to eat. So, she wandered down to the sweet-smelling grass at the base of the mound and contentedly grazed upon the plentiful grains. Each night she returned to sleep next to Ash, but during the day, she returned to grazing in the clearing. On the evening that Ash awoke, he stood up and gazed around. He searched the mound for his friends, but found them not. He called quietly for them down the darkened hole, remembering the enthroned figure from his last venture down there. Receiving no answer, he let his gaze cover the vast clearing surrounding the stony mound upon which he rested. Espying Ginger grazing lazily in the field as the sun fell on the horizon, he relaxed.
Just then, Ginger started, her head jerking up and staring to the east. As Ash followed her gaze, he spotted two loping humanoid figures that burst from the forest edge and raced directly for the pony. Ginger saw them too and turned to flee westward. Her path took her past the mound and into the forest at the clearing's westward end. Ash identified the two pursuers as ghouls, similar in look to the three they had successfully battled on their return to the Brannigan farmstead. Fortunately, their attention was so fixed upon their prey that the undead terrors did not sense Ash's hidden presence in the ruins. Though Ash was concerned for the pony, he was sure she could outdistance the ghouls. He was not sure that he could do so if they returned and found him. So, he took off southward into the forest, hoping to make it back to the Keep.
After an hour's travel, he came upon a small campfire with four humans chatting around it. He announced himself with open arms and asked to share their fire. He was unable to identify them as they wore no symbols or other accoutrements that would link them to official forces. They were, however, armed and equipped as typical mercenary forces, which he had seen many times at the Keep. They started at his voice, jumped from their seats, drew weapons, and demanded that he lay his own down. When Ash complied, they proceeded to surround him and shove him down onto his stomach. There, they bound his wrists behind his back and asked what he thought his life was worth. Naively, Ash thought this a test of his wisdom and gave a thoughtful answer having nothing to do with coin, horses, or any other type of material good. The leader of the strangers reached down and punched Ash a glancing blow to the jaw and asked if Ash knew who they were. Ash either still didn't know or feared to answer truthfully and only illicited mocking guffaws from his captors. Eventually, Ash promised 80 gold pieces and a war horse from his friends at the Keep in exchange for his life. The bandits herded him south by a secret route across the river south of the Cursed Mound via a rowboat hidden in the reeds, then east into the elven forest just south of the Keep and the ford in the Deepstil. There, they introduced their captive to the leader of their band who had him thrown, bound, into a hastily constructed woodshed amongst their tents.
Next day, the Captain of the Watch summoned Zeke and showed him a ransom note that had just arrived by an unknown messenger who left it with the guards at the gatehouse. Ash was alive! And Zeke had left him! And, why had there been no word of Blump and Lyons?
Last edited by SirXaris on Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:09 pm; edited 29 times in total
Ash (half-elf Fighter) - The only original PC still alive in the campaign.
Zeke (elf Ranger) - Third incarnation.
Lord Adoril Shieldheart (human Ranger) - Fourth incarnation.
Joseph Lyons (human Fighter) - First incarnation, late-comer.
Blump (gnome Cleric) - First incarnation, late-comer.
Additional PCs will be added as old players replace dead PCs (Vink and Holt) and new players join the campaign as expected tomorrow evening.
Zeke and the Captain of the Watch had a lengthy conversation about the lastest events in the field. Zeke filled the captain in on the disastrous attempt to combat the skeletal lord and the captain explained that Lyons had been given a short task to fulfill on behalf of the church of Heironeous in appreciation for Abdiel saving his life. Lyons was currently unavailable. The captain showed Zeke the ransom note. It demanded that one person leave 80 pieces of gold and a war horse at the top of the Cursed Mound, which stands about a mile and a half east of the Keep, just south of the road. Together, they concocted a plan, whereby the Captain, himself, and ten soldiers of the Keep would escort Blump to the 'Mound. Abdiel would also accompany the group. At that time, Blump would lead the war horse (one belonging to the party) and leave it hobbled along with the small pouches of gold at the top of the mound. Then, Abdiel, the captain, and his soldiers would escort him back to the Keep. Meanwhile, Zeke, Adoril, and the two Corporals of the Watch (1st level Rangers), each with a couple of war dogs, would set up a stake-out in the woods, just north of the road. They were to follow whomever retrieved the ransom and report their location back to the Captain of the Watch. He and the patrol would then ride with the PCs to attack the kidnappers. He explained that Lord Locks would never approve the paying of a ransom (thus, the 80 gold pieces came from Zeke's personal account), but that Lord Locks would also insist that every effort be made to rescue the victim and bring the criminals to justice, dead or alive.
Everything went according to plan until the Rangers' stealth failed them.
Meanwhile, Ash's ankles were kept bound, as were his wrists, but the bandits moved them to his front instead of his back. That way he could chop firewood under guard. Later, he was forced to wash all the camp's dishes - again, with his hands and feet still bound. None of the demeaning chores or the taunts of the bandits caused Ash to lose his temper. The bandits were looking for a reason to kill him, but he refused to take the bait.
As Zeke watched the sun descend over the Keep in the west, Adoril, noticed the war horse disappearing down the far side of the Cursed Mound. It was moving too quickly to still be hobbled, so they surmised that the kidnapper had arrived to claim his ransom. The Rangers rushed stealthily to the top of the hill and picked up the trail. Down the south side of the Cursed Mound and slightly west it led them, around a curve in the Deepstil, and south to the river. The Rangers detected evidence on the bank that a couple of rivercraft had been beached there. Careful observation of the far bank spotted both a raft and a rowboat partially concealed in the reeds. Zeke and one of the Corporals attempted to swim across the river, but found it two swift to succeed at the attempt in their armor. They were pulled out by Adoril and the other corporal with a rope thrown to them. After stripping out of their armor and taking only a single small weapon, they both succeeded in making the swim. Returning with the rowboat, they made a couple of trips to get themselves and the four war dogs across.
As the others picked up the trail again, noting that it now included more individuals than previously, Zeke stripped some of the caulking from the rowboat after pulling it up on the shore. If they had to flee, they would pole the raft back across and hope that any pursuers who tried to follow in the rowboat found themselves swimming for their lives.
Following the trail between the bogs and the elven woods south of the Deepstil, the group passed near the Spiderfen Grove, a patch of evergreens nestled up against the southern edge of the swamp. The Rangers noted that old elven footprints led from the woods to the grove, but elected not to allow themselves to become distracted from their mission. They continued to follow the trail of the kidnappers until it followed a stream southward into the elven Vesve just south of the ford west of the swamp. A quarter mile along the stream, the trail crossed to the west side.
At this point, the Rangers all failed to note the two bandit sentries perched high in the trees on the west bank of the stream. However, the bandit sentries did spy the Rangers. One sentry climbed down and ran up the hill and over the ridge to warn the bandit camp that intruders were coming. Unaware of the sentries and their movement, the four Rangers advanced up the hill. Halfway up, they saw a rather large band of men top the ridge from the far side and begin advancing quickly toward them, spreading left and right to encompass their flanks.
Zeke dropped into the brush and the line of 18 bandits passed by him, but the other Rangers turned and ran. Unfortunately, the sentry had never lost sight of him and his whistle caught both the bandits' and Zeke's attention. Zeke looked up in the tree down near the stream and saw the bandit sentry pointing directly at him. The six bandit archers turned around to find him while the other 12 charged the remaining Rangers.
Fortunately for Zeke, only two of the six archers spied him in his hidden position. They fired, but missed and Zeke moved to a new hiding spot after returning fire. One of the corporals tripped and fell in the stream. His dogs intercepted the first of the bandits and held them off long enough for him to regain his feet. As the three ran, some of the bandits eventually caught up with the last Ranger and he and his dogs were forced to turn and fight. Adoril and the other corporal then turned and raced back to assist him. Zeke continued his guerilla warfare against the six archers by firing a shot at one that hadn't yet spotted him (Sneak Attack damage), then moving to a new hiding spot. This tactic paid off as the ones that could see him couldn't hit him with the cover he was using and those that couldn't see him, were taken down quickly. Eventually, he targeted the ones that had spotted him and defeated them as well. The 12 bandits chasing Adoril and the corporals had become quite spread out in the chase, so couldn't assault them all at once. Thus, the Rangers and their war dogs were able to take them on two, three, or four at a time. One war dog was too severely wounded to continue fighting, but the others fought their way back to the stream and looked for Zeke.
Zeke seemed to be fine as he waved to his friends from his place of concealment, but he didn't move from that spot. He remained there even when an even larger group of bandits crested the ridge and advanced down it as had the first. Zeke pulled the cloak off a dead archer, threw it over his shoulders and played dead. The others took up positions behind trees on the far side of the bank. As the bandits passed Zeke and fell for his disquise, a familiar whistle sounded from a tree near the stream. Zeke's heart fell as he spied the same sentry pointing directly at him. Fortunately, the bandits didn't know exactly where or which body the sentry was pointing at from that distance, so they spread out and began to search. As six, including the bandit leader, looked for Zeke, the remaining 18 charged down the hill to the stream. Eight bandits stopped behind trees on the west bank of the stream and began to rain arrows and bolts down on the PCs on the far side while the other 10 splashed into the stream to charge the PCs.
Zeke was very proud of his ventriliquistic skills (Perform: Ventriliquism - we based this skill on the class ability of the Assassin[?] prestige class) and loved to use it at every opportunity. Now, seemed a very good time to distract the bandits searching for him, so he threw his voice out to the side in the hopes of luring the bandits away long enough for him to move to a better hiding place. Just as he made the attempt, however, the bandit leader stepped on his ankle. This spoiled his attempt at ventriliquism and made his location extremely obvious. Zeke had no choice but to jump to his feet and fight for his life. Meanwhile, the corporals sent their dogs to intercept the leading bandits as they emerged on their side of the stream while they and Adoril concentrated their missile fire on the bandits in the middle of the stream with no cover.
Zeke was furious at himself for forgetting that the Bandit sentry was still in the tree, but told himself that he would take his frustration out on him at his first opportunity. As the larger force of bandits converged on the stream, Zeke sprinted all out between them and barely made it across the stream with them on his heels. The corporals' dogs intercepted the foremost bandits and Zeke made it up the bank. Zeke, one corporal, and the three dogs fought the bandits that stormed up the bank while Adoril and the other corporal shot those they could target as they attempted to cross. During the course of the fight, Adoril managed to hit the sentry in the tree. He climbed down to avoid further targeting, but slipped and was knocked unconscious as he fell to the ground. The battle was furious and another dog and a corporal fell with serious injuries before the bandit leader was brought low. When that happened, the Rangers hoped the bandits would break, but that failed to happen. Apparently, they just figured they'd choose another to lead them after cutting the offending Rangers to pieces. The battle continued for a couple more rounds, but as more and more of them fell to the Rangers' blades (they had all had to drop their bows by then) and the dogs' savage teeth, the bandits' resolve failed them. The eight bandit archers on the far bank broke and fled back up the hill toward their camp. This caused the two remaining on the east bank to flee in opposite directions. One was shot down, but the other escaped. Zeke and Andoril then cautiously advanced up the hill after the retreating archers while the conscious corporal bandaged the wounds of the injured one. Zeke paused to slit the throat of the unconscious sentry on the way.
As Zeke and Adoril reached the crest of the ridge and cautiously peered over, they spied the multiple tents of the bandit encampment, a string of horses tied to a rope strung between trees, and heard a commotion coming from the largest tent. As the corporal joined them, they advanced on the tent and caught two bandits trying to make off with a chest. The bandits dropped the chest and attempted to defend themselves, but failed miserably. Searching the camp, the Rangers discovered Ash bound in the woodshed, numerous arms, armor, and bits of equipment, a bit of coin (including Zeke's 80 gold), and 16 light war horses, though none of them were the one the party had put up for the ransom.
Loading as much as could be transported on the horses along with the wounded corporal and the two wounded war dogs, the Rangers and Ash returned to the Keep via the ford - the short route. The Keep Guard spied them from the corner tower and informed the Captain of the Watch who, along with Abdiel and Blump, rode out to meet them with the patrol. He was quite surprised to hear of the Rangers' unplanned success and sent the patrol with Abdiel to check the site of the battle. While the PCs rested in the Keep, they divied up the spoils, generously sold 10 of the war horses to the Keep for a low price, bribed the Trader with three more in exchange for an agreement to do more business with them at a later date, and schemed...
How best to be sure of success the next time they make an assault upon the tomb of the ancient skeletal lord beneath the ruins of the watchtower?
Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:39 pm; edited 16 times in total
PCs available for this session included the following:
Zeke - an elven Ranger;
Vi'agra - a halfling Barbarian (Drago's brother);
Joseph Lyons - a human Fighter;
Lord Adoril Shieldheart - a human Ranger;
Blump - a gnome Cleric;
Ash - a half-elven Fighter.
The adventurers were satisfied that they were learning some tactical lessons, though they were coming at a steep cost in the lives of their companions. They prepared as best they were able, Zeke elated that Armand Hamner had completed work on his masterwork longsword.
Thus equipped, the party left the east gate, around the twisting approach ramp, and angled straight through the forest to the ruins of the ancient watchtower. They were pleasantly surprised to make it to the clearing without encountering any dangerous humanoids (or owlbears) and checked carefully. Sensing no danger, they advanced across the field to the ruin mound. As they neared it, however, they were set upon by a band of goblins hiding therein. Twenty or so of the vile creatures pelted them with arrows, bolts, and stones as the party charged their hiding places. Zeke and Adoril held back and picked off enemy archers while the others mounted the ruined walls and engaged in a pitched battle with the little beasts. The goblins lacked tactical skill, but used their weight of numbers to surround the PCs and exact a price in blood before they were brought low. The last of them attempted to flee, but only one managed successfully.
As the PCs established themselves king of the hill, Blump called upon the power of Garl Glittergold to heal them of their many wounds. They were certainly gaining experience coordinating their combat tactics and congratulated each other on the destruction of four times as many humanoids as may have destroyed them just a month earlier. They soon discovered that the hole by which they had originally entered the laird's tomb was covered over by a thin fall of dust. Clearing it off, they saw that it had been boarded up from underneath. Contemplating options such as finding another hole or entering via the secret exit Zeke had previously utilized, they unanimously vetoed Blump's offer to simply canonball through the boarded obstruction. Instead, they opted to attach a grapling hook to the boards and have Joseph's war horse pull it loose. This worked quite well and it was discovered that four spears had been stuck into the rubble mound on the floor directly below the covered hole. The smug smirks of his companions elicited some less-than-polite comments from the miffed gnome, but he did looked relieved. Lowering themselves carefully via a rope into the lightless depths, they once again collected themselves as a group and illuminated the darkness with flint and steel.
Except for the sharp, vertical welcome mat, everything seemed to be just as Zeke remembered leaving it - even the bodies of Drago and Andaven lay as they had fallen. The ancient skeletal warrior lounged upon his throne as before, hollow sockets staring in the party's direction, sword across his knees. Creeping forward, bludgeoning weapons drawn (except Blump who had forgotten to equip himself with one), they advanced on the undead lord. When he failed to respond, they paused and decided to remove their friends' bodies before forcing a confrontation. They took the remains and equipment of Andaven and Drago and the four spears (which were masterwork) and loaded them on Joseph's horse. Returning to the musty tomb, they surrounded the enthroned figure and prepared to attack. At that moment, Vi'agra, farthest of the six from the seated foe, loudly cursed the evil creature that had murdered his brother whom he had loved so dearly and had followed all the way from the Clatspurs to this forested lowland where the air is too thick to breathe and the foes are too short to take out at the knee caps with a level swipe of his great axe (even though he had really come to reclaim his pony, Ginger, whom his brother stole), only to find he had been laid low by this creature too selfish to be content with a single life well-lived (and Ginger nowhere to be found)... Here, Vi'agra was forced to stop for a breath. Continuing, he drew surprised stares from his colleagues by challenging the murderous undead lord to single combat. As the words left his mouth, the skeletal warrior lept from his seat, dashed past the distracted warriors, and cut the pint-sized Barbarian down where he stood with one two-handed overhead blow from his bastard sword. (Nat 20 - critical hit.)
[Skeleton Champion, 6th level Fighter - added a couple of levels as he had absorbed the essences of his fallen skeletal guards - Bastard Sword +1, used two-handed, cool feats, etc.)
Despite the shock of the surprise attack, the rest of the party sprang into action. From the far side of the room, Blump immediately summoned positive energy to heal the halfling where he had fallen. All the other warriors (except Zeke) moved to surround the skeleton. Having now seen a third of his compatriots laid low by this enemy, Zeke feared that a single blow would be the end of him, so kept his distance. The others traded hits and danced in step with him to maintain flanking positions as he moved to avoid them. Vi'agra regained his consciousness (barely) and his feet and bravely waded right back into the fray. Blump used most of his positive energy powers to keep the party members from suffering debilitating wounds. He hoped to keep one for after the battle, but was forced to use most of them in order to keep his friends on their feet and fighting. When he drew upon that power for the last time that day, he focused that divine energy upon the undead foe. Pieces of bone flaked and broke from its body as the positive energy hit it and it turned and dropped Blump in a bloody pile of flesh and steel for the afront. Fortunately, Blump's use of his ability to channel positive energy was just enough as, together, the other soldiers managed to land enough blows to destroy the unnatural animation. Unfortunately for Joseph Lyons, it hadn't come quickly enough. The skeletal warrior scored a thrust straight through his heart (36 hp critical hit) which Blump's healing powers would have been insufficient to cure had he been conscious to try.
Collecting Lyons' body and Blump's unconscious, but breathing, form, along with the banded mail, ruby ring, golden circlet, and bastard sword of the fallen skeleton, they piled it all on Lyon's own war horse and prepared to return to the Keep. One last look around inside the tomb caused them to discover a secret hidey-hole in the back of the throne in which they found 200 ancient pieces of platinum. The Keep was not far, but the way was frought with peril and they were wounded and without any source of magical healing.
Last edited by SirXaris on Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:22 am; edited 7 times in total
The following PCs prepared to make the trip back to the Keep after defeating the ancient skeletal laird in the ruins of the watchtower.
Lord Andoril Shieldheart - human Ranger;
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Vi'agra - halfling Barbarian.
Joseph Lyons' horse was packed with his own body as well as those of Andaven and Drago. In addition, the loot from the skeletal champion was lashed onto its back. Blump's riding dog bore the unconscious body of its master as the rest of the party began the trek back to the Keep. They simply took the most direct path back, which was to reverse their route getting here.
Their caution was rewarded this time as they spotted a smallish band of goblins just as it appeared they had been spotted in turn. Both groups moved into defensive positions and began to attempt to flank the other, though some distance still separated the two groups in the moderately dense forest. A few bowshots were exchanged and blood was spilled on both sides before the first hand-to-hand engagement began. Zeke, out on the party's left flank, engaged one splintmail armored and helmed foe while another more commonly-armored thug attempted to move around to flank him. Andoril spotted a third goblin moving in around Zeke and targeted it with his longbow. Surprisingly, these goblins seemed to be more formidable than those they had encountered previously. Eventually, Zeke managed to drop the leather-armored goblin after it gave him a viscious stab in the back from a flanking position and Andoril dropped the other one moving into such a position. Zeke continued to battle the splintmail-armored goblin while Ash traded shots on the opposite flank, Andoril put an arrow into a spellcaster he spied in the center, and Vi'agra charged an enemy archer blocking access to the spellcaster.
Zeke's elation at knocking the skilled goblin axeman down became surprise as the helmet came loose, exposing a shock of bright, blonde hair and an enormous nose. He immediately recognized his opponent as a gnome like the ones the party had briefly encountered before, but did not recall any so well-armored as this one in that other group. As he considered the implications of the revelation before him, he felt a magical pulse of energy that healed a portion of his wounds. Wondering about this, since Blump remained unconscious, he was caught flat-footed as all three small figures jumped to their feet and withdrew from the conflict at a shouted command from the center. He was able to identify another as a gnome and the third as a halfling. At the same time, the other assailants broke off their attack and withdrew as well.
A quick glance back toward Andoril and the overladen animals identified the real reason for their withdrawal. Andoril's shout drew the rest of the party's attention to their rearward as from the forest's shadows emerged about a half dozen giant-sized goblins. Though they crouched as they slid through the undergrowth, they appeared to be even larger than the more-than-man-sized gnolls they had encountered earlier. They carried huge shields, axes, morning stars, and spears and their armor was a conglomeration of bits and pieces of metal, leather, wood and other less-idenfiable materials. Despite their enormous size and poorly made accoutrements, they moved so stealthily across the forest floor as to make no sound.
Ash avoided the bugbear's advance by heading west, while Zeke, followed by Vi'agra, immediately fled south before them. Andoril was not so lucky, though. Three of the brutes passed him by to chase after Zeke, but when the other three stopped and surrounded him, he nearly despaired for his life. The PCs were somewhat confused, but mostly fearfully impressed at the quality of stealth being exhibited by these hulks. Their bodies seemed to slip through the brush of the forest floor like shadows, not disturbing the slightest branch while their enormous bare feet could be seen to tread the detritous-covered forest floor without kicking up a single dry leaf. Thinking quickly, Andoril, took a running leap over the back of Lyons' mount, landing on his feet before it. The move was so stunningly successful that the three bugbears who were about to jump him watched in astonishment as he grabbed the horse's reins and fled from them in pursuit of Ash, who had stopped as Andoril's apparent doom became obvious.
The four adventurers fled in two different groups back to the Keep and managed to out distance the bugbears chasing them. Later that evening, they encountered the group of seven gnomes and halflings at the tavern. After some initial bragging about who would have won the contest and accusations of who started the fight...
"We thought you were goblins!"
"Well, all you tall folk look like orcs to us!"
"I'm not one of the tall folk!" Vi'agra piped in.
"But, you look more like a goblin than we do, you mohawk-styling barbarian!"
... things were smoothed over when Szimlian, the Illusionist leader of the demi-human party, bought everyone a round of ale. He also admitted to the PCs that the bugbears had been his creation. "Of course," smirked the PCs. "We knew it all along!"
After visits to the banker, the smith, the guildhall, various other merchants, and the barbican to collect the bounty on the goblin hands, the party was ready to head out again.
Last edited by SirXaris on Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:01 pm; edited 14 times in total
Argon: The Keep pays a bounty of about 1 gp per hit die for proof of slain evil humanoids. They've told the party now that right ears will do from now on instead of hands.
The Spiderfen Grove and the Madman
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Vi'agra - halfling Barbarian;
Blump - gnome Cleric;
Andoril - human Ranger;
Sara Lyons - human Paladin.
The party needed some time to rest and wanted to spend some of their hard-earned coin on new and better equipment. So, they spent half their time in the tavern and the other half sleeping it off over the next couple of weeks. Since few adventurers were available and willing to join them in their wanderings, they were elated when a message came from The Witch is Dead, Merchants', Mercenaries', and Adventurers' Guild to Ash informing him that travelling merchants selling war dogs had arrived with some to choose from. The rest of the group accompanied him to Fountain Square to see what merchant wares they might find.
They were not disappointed when they discovered that two different merchants had arrived with war dogs for sale. Andoril selected two of the three Wegwiur Wolfhounds for sale from a merchant who had brought them down from the north.
Zeke purchased a Wegwuir Wolfhound and a Perrender Wardog from the Perrenlander merchant.
Vi'agra purchased a riding dog (blonde mastiff).
Ash bought the last Perrender from the same merchant. Blump was a bit miffed about not being the only one with a large, powerful canine companion any more, though he was still pleased with the power and loyalty of his companion and mount.
The others, however, felt quite confident that if their dogs proved as effective in a fight as had the corporals' dogs, the party's power would be doubled at the very least.
Answering a new summons from Abdiel, they were pleasantly surprised to be introduced to Joseph Lyons' sister, Sara Lyons. She was distraught over her brother's death, but was heartened to hear of his valiant fall from the mouths of witnesses to the event. She told the party that it was her desire to join them in order to continue her brother's work. She believed it was the will of Heironeous that she returned from adventuring in the south to her childhood home at this time for this very purpose. Abdiel filled in the fact that this warrior maiden was, in fact, a Paladin, since she was too humble to point it out herself. She was welcomed by all to join them on their next excursion.
Soon, the Captain of the Watch ordered them out again as they had enjoyed enough R&R to last a year, in his opinion. He asked them to make a walk-through of the Spiderfen Grove at their first opportunity since it had been a while since any patrols from the Keep had been that way. Thus, they crossed the ford on the Deepstil south of the Keep and turned east between the swamp and the Wood Elven realm. As they reached the narrowest portion of dry land between those two geographical features, they heard a loud crashing approaching them through the forest to the south. They held their ground and waited, not knowing what to expect. Out of the woods charged an ogre - a miniature giant at least eight feet tall, with a giant tree limb raised to use as a club. It charged directly at Ash, who stood his ground until the last minute, then dodged the swing of the club. The adventurers immediately set their war dogs upon the brute and the fight became fierce. Sara, Blump, and Viagra moved to join Ash and the dogs while Andoril and Zeke fired arrows into the giant. The ogre missed Ash, but two of the dogs were bloodied by his gigantic club and would have died were it not for Blump's curative magic. The ogre was brought low by the combined efforts of the party and they collected a small horde of coins from the large pouch on its belt.
Resuming their trek, they entered the Spiderfen Grove. It quickly became apparent that it was full of a wide variety of its namesake. Sure enough, they were soon set upon by two enormous versions of Wolf Spiders. A viscious battle ensued which left the spiders dead and the adventurers cracking their knuckles and flexing their muscles as none of them succombed to the poison the various bites inflicted on them had transmitted. Searching the forest floor in the area, they discovered the bones of a long-dead elf. His equipment was all rotted and rusted away except for some gold coins and a masterfully made longsword.
Finding no other threatening denizens in the small grove, they made their way north again to search for the Caves of Chaos. This was not yet to be, however.
Waiting for them in the woods was the Mad Hermit.
As they traveled through the forest, they saw him step out from behind a tree in their path. He smiled and told them they shouldn't have hurt his cat. Now, he said, they would have to pay. He was close enough that a charge by the PCs would just reach him and Blump couldn't resist. Against the shouted warnings of the rest of the party, Blump urged his riding dog into a leaping charge right at the diminuative pest. The others followed more cautiously, on the lookout for a mountain lion, which they suspected was ready to pounce on anyone unprepared for it. The hermit raised a crossbow and fired at the gnome as he charged, but the bolt was deflected by Blump's upraised shield.
Blump and his mount failed to note a shallow pit the hermit had dug and covered in the path. The riding dog crashed into it and Blump's riding skill failed him, sending him skidding across the ground to stop at the hermit's feet. The pit was shallow, so the dog took only minor damage, but Blump had a dagger plunged into his side before he could regain his feet. A second war dog fell into the pit as well while a third tried to circle the tree next to the hermit and was pulled up into the air by its hind legs as it tripped a snare. The hermit dodged a couple of arrows from the party and swung around the tree on a rope to slash at Ash, then climbed the rope up higher into the branches.
The mad hermit then ran dextrously from branch to branch, stopping to load and fire Lyons' stolen crossbow at his pursuers, who remained grounded. Eventually, the warriors' arrows proved a greater threat to the hermit than his bolts did to them, so he retreated to his hideout. The party was, however, very capable of tracking him now that the dogs had his scent. They ran into some painful traps, but caught the hermit and his cat in a tree. Blump charged up to the rather large tree, but couldn't reach the lowest limb 15 feet up. He did manage to give Ash a boost, though, as the Fighter took a running leap off of Blump's head to land on the branch on his feet. The hermit climbed higher and resumed firing bolts down at the party, but his mountain lion pet lept down and pounced on Ash. Well, it tried to do so. Ash fell backwards on the branch and kicked the cat over him, though it cost him a slash across his chest. The agile cat did not fall, but caught itself and turned to face the Fighter again. It immediately jumped right back at Ash and the two fought tooth and claw to sword while balancing on that strong, lower branch.
In the meantime, Zeke spied a camouflaged rope hanging from another tree and used it to climb into the branches. As the rest of the party returned missile fire at the hermit, Blump kept them from death's door with healing bursts of positive energy. Unfortunately, healing Ash was also healing the cat, who was doing more damage to the half-elf, so Zeke took it upon himself to assist. Climbing higher and jumping from his perch in a nearby tree, he swung over the cat and dropped upon its back. This incredible feat knocked the cat from the branch and zeke followed it to the ground. Landing upon it again, he plunged his new sword into its back and slew it where it lay. Screaming in fury, the hermit quickly climbed down to attack Zeke, but the party surrounded him and ended his madness permanently.
A quick search of the area discovered Ginger, hobbled and grazing contendedly at the edge of a nearby pond. Vi'agra was ecstatic! This is why he had come in the first place. A more extensive search eventually discovered a buried box with a few magical potions while the hermit's body gave up magical leather armor and a magical dagger, though they would need to return to the Keep before Figolwren, the elven Fighter/Wizard Advisor to the Castellan, could Identify either for them.
They were not, however, ready to return to the Keep.
Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:16 am; edited 17 times in total
Not to mention the fact that, in a tight spot . . . dogs make good eating!
Ogres and hobgoblins seem to think so...
They're only goblins!
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Burg - dwarven Fighter;
Vi'agra - halfling Barbarian;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Lord Andoril Shieldheart - human Ranger;
Blump - gnome Cleric;
Sara - Female human Paladin;
Mahi - human Rogue.
The group traveled north along the west road with the Goblin Run trickling south alongside. As they approached the point at which the stream emerged from the forest west of the road and turned south, they noticed a small pallisaded watchpost on the opposite side. They had passed this spot on the road numerous times before without noticing such a construction, but it appeared to have been abandoned for several months, at least.
As they approached the open west gate, they saw a handful of orcs within. Two were shot down before they were aware of the approach of the party, but the others ran into the two-story tower and barred the door. Arrow fire came from an arrow loop on the upper floor and the Rangers returned fire (though their intent was really only to keep the shooter occupied while the others battered down the barred door. This they accomplished soon enough and Vi'agra was the first in the building and up the ladder to the second floor. Nothing appeared to be in the first floor room but a table and chairs, but an axe-wielding orc chopped at the Barbarian's head as it emerged above. Dodging the blow, Vi'agra jumped into the fray and brought his opponent low. The one at the arrow loop, dropped his bow and turned to face the halfling, but Ash beat him to it and defeated the last orc in the structure.
Being within the pallisade again for the first time since the previous summer, Blump was now able to recall that he and his initial adventuring companions had built it as a forward base from which to make forays against the Caves. Interestingly, he still couldn't recall the location of the Caves themselves. The party reasoned that they must be close for several reasons, inlcuding the fact that the magical forgetfulness obviously extended to the spot at which the pallisade stood. Searching the forested hills nearby, they fought their way through thickening underbrush until they spied a mostly clear ravine through the trees ahead. The ravine was pockmarked with numerous caves and thick copses of trees and brush dotted it in various places. The ravine itself seemed to be the source of the Goblin Run, which trickled past their feet out its wide end.
Returning to the pallisade, they cleaned it up a bit and left Ginger and Blump's riding dog with plenty of fodder. They planned to acquire some netting to cover the small fort as Blump was now able to remember that the rotten remains of what they found had been erected by his earlier party for protection against something dangerous, though he still could not remember what. They made their way back to the ravine and, after some discussion, chose to enter the closest cave on the left. Or, rather, Blump chose to charge in when the others hesitated too long for his liking.
Fortunately, Blump ran into no enemy blades. Unfortunately, he broke a trip wire that set some small bells ringing. The party followed Blump into the entryway to see a torch burning at a four-way junction of passageways. As they debated their choices, they were assaulted by a dozen goblins - six from the west and six from the east. These were easily defeated, but another group of about 12 goblins followed the first from the west. As they battled this group, another half-dozen attempted to sneak up on them from the east. Vi'agra managed to battle his way through the larger group and into a large guard room. There, he watched as two goblins opened a secret door in the far corner and hefted a sack of coins through it while yelling "Bree yark!" in the goblin tongue. He remembered that a wizened old-timer in the Keep's tavern had told him this meant 'We surrender!', but his goblin-speaking companions were back near the entrance, so he couldn't check.
His uncertainty was abruptly brought to an end as an ogre emerged from the open secret door, took its surprisingly well-made great sword in a practice swing before him, bellowed its battle cry, and charged the diminuative copy before it. Vi'agra wasn't about to run away, so he met it blade to blade.
The rest of the party was tied up battling a small horde of goblins back in the entrance to the complex, but Vi'agra was not worried about being cut off from help or being surrounded. His mastiff was tearing apart the few goblins that hadn't backed off when the ogre entered the room and he was, after all, a giant-slayer, wasn't he? And, he was wielding the magical bastard sword of the ancient skeletal lord. He delivered a vicious cut to the ogre's thigh and dodged its first decapitating blow. The ceiling was too low for it to make any overhand swings, so the halfling didn't have to worry about making any overhand blocks. With all these advantages, his brain continued to register surprise for a few more seconds after that enormous blade with a strange bone skull carving embedded in the hilt severed his torso from his legs. (The ogre rolled a 40 point critical hit ) His faithful mount immediately harrassed the ogre in an attempt to protect the body, but the ogre made short work of the noble dog as well.
The ogre and a few more goblins then rushed out to face the rest of the party. The ogre waded into the middle of the fray and flailed about with that giant sword. It fought ferociously, knocking a couple of dogs and adventurers down, but being flanked on all sides, it found itself outmatched and fell to the party's blades and arrows. As the party caught its collective breath, Ash ran to Vi'agra's body, but saw another horde of goblins coming from a western passage toward him. This horde was led by two insanely evil-looking worgs and Ash had no time to drag Vi'agra's body away. The best he was able to do was to grab the magical blade the Barbarian had weilded - as a memento, if they could not eventually retrieve his body.
Racing back to the entrance to warn his comrades, they hurriedly prepared to face this next assault. The two worgs bounded down the hallway, over the heads of the nearest party members, and into flanking positions as the goblins rushed up behind them. A goblin shaman froze Blump in place as he charged (hold person) and the goblin chief dealt some damage to the ugly dwarf (gnome) invading his home. As the bodies piled higher, the shaman and the chief bolted for safety back the way they had come. The party finished off the others and the worgs who led them, then rested a few minutes while they healed their wounds and caught their breath. During this break, they kept a close eye on the east and west passageways. They heard the goblins industriously working down the west passageway just out of their visual range and they had twice been snuck up on by smaller bands from the east. The southern passage was a dead end with no exits that they had been able to discover.
To be continued...
Last edited by SirXaris on Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:40 pm; edited 8 times in total
You have me wanting to pull out my old module and reread all the cavern entries now, SX. I DO recall the 'Bree yark!" entry and that it summoned forth the ogre...after payment was made.
"Bree Yark!" is a classic.
I'm interested to see what, if any, adjustments you have made. I don't recall worgs in the goblin lair, so you must be using a different and more updated version of the module...
Nope, no worgs in the original. Remember, I updated this module with the Pathfinder rules. However I previously added appropriate opponents during each of the other editions of the game as well. Worgs, a shaman, and a leader with a couple levels in Rogue were added to the goblin tribe. The other tribes in the Caves area enjoy similar upgrades to their power, though I don't want to give any specifics now as my players read this and haven't encountered the others yet.
Aaaahhhhh....glad you mentioned that you have prying eyes among your players. I will keep my mouth shut and will mention specifics about the module (I am assuming they don't have a copy of it) and its encounters by PMing you instead...
If you don't have time for the best laid plans, charge!
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Burg - dwarven Fighter;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Blump - gnome Cleric;
Sara - female human Paladin.
When they were ready, they advanced cautiously down the westward-leading passageway. Shortly, they discovered that the goblins had erected a hasty barricade of barrels, boxs, and a table that stood about three feet high - only their spears and heads could be seen poking out from above it. Well, a three foot wall is not much for a human to jump, but they tried to trade missile fire with the mass of humanoids first. This was proving disadvantageous to our heroes, however, as they had little protection compared to the goblins' miniature parapet. So, Zeke took it upon himself to crash the gate, as it were. He rushed the barricade, lept onto it, and jumped over the heads of the spearmen to land amidst (and on top of) several of the bowmen and crossbowmen. He did take several cuts during this manuever, but managed to crush a crossbowman and strike down another wielding a shortbow at the end of his agile charge. Taking a glance down the passageway into which he had jumped, he noticed that after running south 20 feet it turned east out of his line of sight. Now, he was surrounded, cut off from his own reinforcements, and unaware of what more may come from around that corner.
Blump was never one to hold back and followed Zeke's lead. Unfortunately, a three foot high barricade is a bit more of a challenge for a gnome than it is for a half-elf and his foot caught on the edge of a barrel and he sprawled on top of the wall and was immediately targeted by numerous goblin spears. Sara was not daunted, though, and duplicated Zeke's leap right over the back of the prostrate gnome. Landing atop more of the gremlinoids, she gained her feet and joined the slaughter. Burg and Blump attempted to follow their compatriots over the wall, albeit more slowly and Ash kept a lookout down the eastern passage to prevent another ambush. Zeke seemed to be in a bit of trouble and Ash was frustrated at not being able to attack anything, so glory got the better of wisdom and he tried to shoot one of the goblins flanking Zeke - a goblin whose head he could only just make out over the barricade, past Blump's body, and engaged in combat with Zeke. It didn't take an Oracle to predict the catastrophe this scenario set up. His aim, though true, unfortunately hit Zeke as he pivoted, unaware of the incoming missile. Striking him in the side, it felled the brave Ranger in the midst of his foes.
Though the goblins fought ferociously, they were no match for the adventurers once Burg and Blump surmounted the barricade. When that happened, they began to fall like flies to the three goodly warriors. Ash rushed up when the field was mostly cleared and administered a healing potion to Zeke and the five of them defeated the goblin shaman and chieftan, who were the last standing. After making sure all were truly dead, Blump called forth a few healing bursts of positive energy to bring the party back to health.
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Sara - female human Paladin;
Lord Andoril Shieldheart - human Ranger
Lord Andoril Shieldheart
After collecting goblin ears and looting the bodies, they explored further westward in the tunnel complex. They discovered the shaman's room, another guard room, and a common room, but took some time searching through a room full of various merchant goods. None of them seemed to be of any special quality, in fact, most were no longer fit for human consumption. During their search, they were surprised to see a secret door open and four hobgoblins emerge from it. The hobgoblins seemed equally surprised to find the party there and drew their weapons for a fight. It didn't last long. As the party stepped through the secret door, they saw a long hallway from which two crossbow bolts came at them. They charged and made short work of their hobgoblin assailants.
To the north was another storage room while the southern turn at this T intersection led up a long flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs were the hobgolbin chief's bodyguards. The PCs charged up and took them by surprise, but discovered that they had reinforcements in adjoining rooms. Not only did more bodyguards emerge from a door in the southern wall of this guardroom, but the chief himself and his two powerful sons joined the fray from a door in the west. This battle nearly proved fatal to Ash as he and his war dog were cut off when the hobgoblins made a push toward the stairs. Ash and his canine companion fell, bleeding while Sara, Zeke, and Andoril struggled to avoid being bullrushed down the stairs. Though he was pushed back a ways, Zeke managed to hold his ground at the top edge of the stairs, but Andoril and Sara were shoved, tumbling down past him. In order to avoid being flanked, Zeke chose to withdraw down the stairs as well.
The battle raged in the staircase until the hobgoblins were slain. Rushing back to the top, the victors were in time to save Ash from bleeding to death, but not his war dog. Another potion of healing and Ash was, at least, ambulatory. They decided to camp in the chieftan's room, which they discovered behind the east door. They scouted a short passage through two secret doors that ended in a large room full of arms and armor of various kinds. They claimed some of the best, most useful equipment and returned to their camp. Setting various traps and building a wall of hobgoblin bodies in the secret passageway, Ash decided to build a small war engine. Using two barrel tops as wheels and a spear shaft as an axle, he fashioned a small cart, or wheelbarrow, out of wood from the chieftan's furniture. Atop this cart, he fixed five spears pointing forward and a handle for pushing it in the rear. This, he left at the bottom of the staircase to use against assaailants from the goblin storeroom.
After sleeping through the night without incident, the hobgoblins apparently had prepared to retake their lair. The party listened intently at the loud noises coming from the staircase, but remained back to try to ambush the attackers. When the attack came, the traps worked well, but the hobgoblins coming up the stairs led with the spear cart that Ash had spent all that time fashioning. Attempting to run around behind it, Ash found himself unable to dodge it completely and suffered some slashes to his midsection. With the help of the other traps and pre-loaded crossbows set at the ready, this counter-attack was beaten off as well. All but one of the retreating hobgoblins was cut or shot down, but the party called off their pursuit when it became apparent that more heavy crossbow-wielding hobgoblins were positioned around every corner to cover any retreating allies.
And, stop. Almost caught up again.
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For the record, I did manage to locate my old, but surprisingly intact, copy of this module and perused it fully. WOW...lotsa memories there, but not sure how often I ran that module back in the 80s. Heck, I was still an utter neophyte DM back then, although with all my queries, you guys may think I still am!
For the record, I did manage to locate my old, but surprisingly intact, copy of this module and perused it fully. WOW...lotsa memories there, but not sure how often I ran that module back in the 80s. Heck, I was still an utter neophyte DM back then, although with all my queries, you guys may think I still am!
Keep writing, SX.
Blump is a 3rd level Cleric. He's my son's PC from an earlier adventure. Half of the others are 2nd level now, while the ones that don't play much are still 1st, but very near 2nd.
Sorry for the delay. I need to get caught up or I'll forget even more of what happened.
It worked against the goblins!
Ash - half-elven Fighter;
Zeke - elven Ranger;
Sara Lyons - female human Paladin;
Thane (Thizzle) - human Cleric
Advancing cautiously down the corridors of the hobgoblin lair, the party explored the kitchen/common room and a dead-end passageway that showed signs of recent work to extend it. Bypassing a door to the north barred on this side, the party turned a few corners and found themselves in a long tunnel with a hobgoblin-manned barricade at the far end. Another tunnel meandered south from this junction.
Trading shots with missile weapons proved fruitless as the hobgoblins were well-protected behind their improvised parapet. So, Ash, Thane, and Sara charged. Crossbow bolts flew past or clanged off their shields as they raced forward. First to the wall was Ash. He planned to pull an 'Aragorn before the Black Gates of Mordor', but only managed to deflect two of the four halberds interposed between him and the wall. He took a nasty cut from one, but slammed his body into the barricade of tables, boxes, and barrels between himself and his adversaries. Unfortunately, all that accomplished was that he bounced off and had to try to climb over it. Thane had no more luck with his attempt. Sara, however, decided to climb atop the wall, rather than slam into it in a futile attempt to crash through it. Her triumphant surmounting of the barrier was not to last, however, as the temporary Queen of the Hill was immediately cut down by halberd and bolt and collapsed into a bleeding heap atop it.
Ash and Thane then attempted to clamber over the obstruction, but only succeeded in being pierced by many sharp objects wielded by the defenders behind it. Ash fell to the ground bleeding while Thane stumbled and fell beside him. Realizing his peril, Thane pulled his tower shield over himself as he fell and feigned death.
Meanwhile, Zeke decided to check out the southern passageway while his companions were making their ill-fated charge. He descended into what was apparently a prison and torture chamber. There, he discovered several humans, an orc, and a gnoll chained to the walls amidst various devices of pain. He ended the lives of the gnashing gnoll and the unconscious orc and freed the humans. They explained that they were a travelling merchant, his wife, and two of their guardsmen.
As Zeke was exploring the prison, the hobgoblins, thinking they had the advantage, stormed over the barricade. Some ran past the downed adventurers to find the lone intruder they had seen head south while others stayed to coup de grace the three who had fallen before their defensive position. When Thane realized what was about to happen, he clambered to his feet among the hobgolins and whaled about with abandon. Zeke heard the hobgoblins running down the hallway toward him, but had no extra weapons or armor to loan to the two guardsmen. There were, however, many knives and daggers laying around the torture chamber that they could make use of.
While Thane battled the few that had remained to finish him and his friends off, he took an opportunity to channel positive energy. This healed one of his opponents, but healed himself and his friends so that they didn't bleed to death. Zeke fought several hobgoblins hand to hand while the two guardsmen stood behind him and hurled daggers past his head. They survived long enough for Thane to join them. Unfortunately, he was being chased by the last of the hobgoblins over the wall - the two torturers, who had taken over leadership of the tribe once all the others with leadership potential had been killed.
Thane and Zeke blocked the hallway and met the remaining eight or so hobgoblins head to head while the guardsmen continued to take opportunistic shots with the pile of daggers they had collected. The hobgoblins were losing this confrontation until the torturers reached combat. One had a large axe and managed to cut Thane down.
It was brought low itself, however, leaving only a single hobgoblin and the second torturer. This one wielded a longsword in one hand and a whip in the other.
It caught Zeke about the ankles, pulled him off his feet, and followed up with a downward thrust of his sword, which Zeke barely survived. More unfortunately for Zeke, not only had Thane fallen, but one of the guardsmen had dropped a dagger onto his foot and fallen unconscious from the pain while the other was cut down by the remaining hobgoblin. Thinking fast, Zeke freed himself from the whip's entanglement and focused his next attack at the lesser hobgoblin warrior, hoping that he could take it out quickly so to prevent either remaining creature from flanking him. His decision was wise as he successfully ended the threat that hobgoblin presented and turned to face the final enemy.
Battling desperately with the merchant's wimpering and his wife's cries of encouragement ringing in his ears, Zeke jumped the strikes of the whip and ducked the swings of the sword. He responded to those assaults more skillfully than his opponent and eventually wore the creature down. When the battle was over, Zeke poured the party's last healing potion down Thane's throat. Thane rose and channeled more positive energy to bring all party members, and those they had rescued, to walking health.
They went back to the hobgoblin's armory and equipped the guardsmen sufficiently, then checked out the secret storage room. There, they found better goods than what had filled the goblin's storage and the merchant exclaimed that much of his own merchandise was right here! It took some convincing, but the merchant finally agreed only to take what he and his guardsmen could carry in their arms and return with the PCs to the Keep. This they did without incident.
Upon arrival, they made their report to the Captain of the Watch, as usual, turned in the humanoid ears for the bounty, and enjoyed themselves with the locals at the tavern - telling tales, having their drinks paid for, and receiving thanks from the commoners and soldiers alike. Soon, they were summoned by The Witch is Dead, et. al.where they found themselves the recipients of a 100 gp reward for the merchant's rescue (when they inquired, they discovered that this reward is paid by the guild out of the dues paid to date by each member) and were awarded a dues-free membership for the next year. The merchant and his wife personally presented the PCs with a magical dagger and invited them to dinner in their apartment before they left the Keep again.
Next up - Orcs!
Preview - Two new characters:
Clami Dia - human (Touv) [Urban] Barbarian - Drago's and Vi'agra's mentor (Brought to the Flanaess as a slave, but escaped and grew up on the streets of a city) and;
Tratumal - human Monk (next incarnation of Holt and Swan...).
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An arcane spellcaster may prove helpful, but most of these new characters are replacing dead characters, so with an average of four or five PCs at each session, they prefer to have an abundance of fighter-types.
They do have a second Cleric now, though, as they got tired of not being able to heal between battles without returning to the Keep. They don't like being attacked by wandering monsters every time they try to take a break out in the wild.
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I understand. My point is . . . barricade = Burning Hands. Bar-b-qued Hobgoblin, or did anyone bring marshmallows?
Besides, as we both know, all 1st level Magic Users need to be protected. But if you don't start with a 1st level Magic User, how will you get a 20th level Invoker? Which would be far more deadly than 200 hobgoblins.
I understand. My point is . . . barricade = Burning Hands. Bar-b-qued Hobgoblin, or did anyone bring marshmallows?
Besides, as we both know, all 1st level Magic Users need to be protected. But if you don't start with a 1st level Magic User, how will you get a 20th level Invoker? Which would be far more deadly than 200 hobgoblins.
Must think of the future.
Says the magic using Mystic.
At any level a mage is only as good as his coverage. I had a player who's 14th level mage was slain by a 1/2 HD kobold.
Fire power is only useful, if you get a chance to use it.
One of the reasons a cleric is more valuable to a party then a wizard IMO.
With that said a wizard with fire power or summoning can be trouble for anyone put up against them.
These three worthies decided to have a go at another cave while the rest of the party rested at the Keep. They chose a cave midway up the northern slope of the ravine nearest to its eastern terminus. Finding no traps at the entrance, they snuck forward to a T intersection. It's far wall was covered with niches carved into it filled with skulls and decapitated heads of myriad human, demi-human, and humanoids in various stages of decay. As they peered around the corners listening to the orcish voices coming from both directions, Zeke noticed that one of the orc heads on the wall was replaced by a goblin head. Figuring that they had been spotted, they charged the guards in the eastern passage.
As this battle began, another guard room emptied and those orcs poured out to hit the party from behind. Trapped in that small room, the adventurers fought bravely and intelligently and dead orcish bodies began to pile up. More arrived from the common room, but as they also fell to the blades of the heroes, the orcish leaders halted the flow of reinforcements and had them form a barricade of tables in the banquet room. The adventurers watched the last of the defenders retreat back to the banquet area and stopped, catching their breath and taking stock of the situation.
They weren't about to try to assault another barricade, so they opted to try another trick. Thane advanced down the hallway under cover of his tower shield while Zeke and Ash traded missile fire with the orcs. When Thane reached the edge of the room, he traced divine marks in several spots on the floor. While doing this, he was amused at the fruitless attempts by the orcs to hit him crouched behind his wall. He wasn't even peeking his head over the top, though he felt the impact of several missiles. Completing his work, he withdrew back around a corner with his companions. There, they pointed out that several of those missiles were burning and that his tower shield was in danger of going up in flames.
While Thane broke the arrows off 300-style, Zeke answered a challenge from the orc chieftain to meet him in single combat. Both were wary and Zeke refused to meet in the center of the banquet area - in front of all the orcs and their bows. So, the orc chieftan suggested a meeting in a northern passage. This, Zeke accepted and met him for a fight. As the chieftain charged, Zeke attempted to confuse him with ventriliquism, but the orc was not distracted. The clash was short and brutal. Zeke dealt the evil creature a vicious cut to the gut with his magical, holy scimitar, but the orc returned the gift with a powerful two-handed chop to the shoulder from his greataxe. Knowing that he could not survive another such blow, Zeke called for help from his friends. At this, the orc summoned his warriors and they poured over the barricade and came to his aid.
Once the orcs were bereft of their cover, the open battle turned against them. The prong of the assault sent to surround the heroes faltered as it ran afoul of the runes Thane had inscribed into the floor in that passageway. Several were felled by that deadly magic and the rest shied from the advance and chose to follow their brethren to the north. The chieftain had been hurt as badly as had Zeke and withdrew behind his fellows to be healed by the tribe's shaman. Seeing that he was losing too many warriors, he called for a withdrawal. The orcs retreated past the barricade which they now lacked sufficient numbers to effectively man and up a sloping passageway. At the top, they manned their final defensive preparations. The party members caught up to the last two retreating orcs as they entered the sloping passageway, but could only watch as the orcs tipped two huge barrels of oil down it from the top. Ash and Zeke jumped back and to the sides as the oil cascaded down and formed a pool at the base of the slope, slowly spreading in the banquet room. Deducing that they would have a slow, difficult time making their way up the greased, sloped tunnel under fire from orcs around the corners, especially if they were to throw a lit torch on it, they considered their options. And, yes, they could see the flicker of torchlight down the hall to one side at the top of the slope.
Zeke pulled a firebrand from the hearth (which the orcs had used to light the arrows they shot into Thane's tower shield) and threw it into the oil. As the tunnel erupted into flame and filled with smoke, Ash took the opportunity to explore the common sleeping room to the west of the banquet area. Finding nothing of interest, the group advanced through the smoke when the flames died down. They heard a door slam to the west as they reached the T intersection at the top of the slope, but could only advance by blindly feeling their way along the wall because the entire hallway was filled with smoke.
They discovered two rooms they guessed were used by the shaman and the chief, respectively, but found no orcs. By quickly shutting the doors behind them upon entering those rooms, they were able to minimize the amount of smoke that billowed in with them. They quickly found a hidden closet behind a hanging tapestry, but didn't want to take too long examining their plunder. Their diligence in searching the room was rewarded when Zeke discovered a secret door. Behind this door, they found another room. Within, a table and two chairs stood in the center, two fine shields with evil-looking designs poorly painted on them hung on the south wall, a chest full of masterwork quality weapons sat in the northwest corner, and an overturned bucket perched upon a pile of coiled hemp rope in the southeast. Kicking over the bucket, Zeke disturbed a pair of sleeping giant centipedes which had to be killed when they tried to bite him.
Unable to find any more secret doors, they collected their various treasures, claimed the right ears of their vanquished foes, and made their way back to the keep for some recuperation. There, they were introduced to an extremely dark-skinned woman every bit as barbaric-looking as the two halflings she claimed to have mentored. It was her desire to join the group in its adventures. Her name was Clamidi'a, but she told them she preferred to be called Clami by her friends.
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This group was ready to take on anything now that they were setting off to the Caves of Chaos with not just one, but two(!) Clerics. "Hi ho! Hi ho!" whistled Blump as he bounced along on the back of his massive riding dog. Ash's two war dogs ranged ahead with him as he scouted in advance of the others. He had been reluctant to bring them on the adventure considering the fatality rate of the others, but he was convinced by the rest of the group that that was exactly what the dogs were for - to die in place of party members.
Having no luck discovering how the orc leaders had evaded them, they opted to explore the next closest cave on the north side of the ravine. Approaching carefully, Zekiel nodded the 'all clear' - that no traps were set in the opening. Zeke moved into the cave mouth, noting that it diverged in a typical 'T' intersection only 20 or 30 feet in, while the rest of the group moved up to the entrance. Just then, they were assaulted by more than a dozen small javelins from the forested ravine above the mouth of the cave. Climbing the ravine at this point proved difficult, but Andoril and Ash made the effort on opposite sides of the entrance. Blump and Thane, however, had a daring idea for how to more quickly attain the heights. Blump was to jump from the back of his riding dog onto Thane's cupped hands. From there, Thane would lift Blump and aid his jump to the top of the cave mouth.
Epic fail. Blump slipped and landed on his back on the ground while Thane was kicked in the teeth. Taking hits from the irritating cloud of miniature javelins, Thane and Blump rolled into the cave mouth to be out of the line of fire, while Andoril and Ash continued their climb up the steep, rocky slope. Meanwhile, Zeke noted a crack in the floor just in time to avoid stepping on what he suspected was a covered pit trap. He also alerted a fistful of guards in an alcove across the pit. He had encountered kobolds once or twice before in the forest and recognized their puny, scaly hides and could even understand their high-pitched, yipping version of the draconic tongue. What he didn't appreciate was the fact that they pelted him with their javelins without coming within reach. Outside, Ash and Andoril engaged several kobolds that were on the ground, but others were up in the trees hefting handfuls of javelins and throwing them. Fortunately for the heroes, the little lizards did more damage to their fellows engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the adventurers than they did to their targets. They also proved to be quite inefficient in close combat, so the fight on the ground was going in the demi-humans' favor.
Not so tough, right?
Blump rode out to assist Ash with the majority of the ground-based kobolds and Andoril switched places to run inside to help Zeke. As Thane tried to help Zeke by charging the kobolds pelting him with missiles, Zeke called a warning that the portion of the floor in front of him was trapped (he'd picked up one of the javelins and thrown it at the floor where it stuck), but wasn't sure about the rest of it. Thane successfully detected the rest of the pit trap by stepping on it and plunging ten feet to the bottom. He suffered only minor damage, but was stuck. He thought he might jump ten feet successfully, but his armor and tower shield weighed him down too much for the effort. Instead, he backed into a corner opposite the javelin-throwing kobolds, crouched down, and pulled his tower shield up over himself.
Blump and Ash continued to battle the kobold ambushers outside until all those on the ground were vanquished. Blump, having only a sling to attack them with, headed back inside. Since the kobolds were only 15 feet up in the trees, Ash pulled out his halberd and began poking them as they tried to make a pincushion of him. After killing a couple, the others in reach tried to climb a bit higher. Some succeeded, some failed. One failed spectacularly and fell to his death - right onto the tip of Ash's polearm.
Back inside, Zeke acrobatically hurtled the pit and came up into the tips of several javelins, but the kobolds were not prepared for such an advance and weren't nearly as proficient with their weapons up close as they were from a distance. They backed off as quickly as possible and continued to pelt him with their darts, but he advanced just as quickly and cut most of them down with a few swings of his holy scimitar. One of the scaly little beasts proved unbelievably lucky, however, and Zeke spent several rounds fruitlessly hacking at him. During this time, a host of the creatures advanced from the eastern passageway and began throwing their javelins.
Andoril had noted most of what had gone before inside and chose to immulate Zeke by jumping around the corner of the pit into the west passage where he saw a horde of dire rats advancing. Perhaps he feared they would drop into the pit to eat Thane. If he is eaten himself, we may never know. However, with his back to the pit and his shoulder to the wall of the tunnel, he has managed to cut down a few of them while only taking minor damage from their weak bites. He is aware that he is risking disease or poison with each bite, however, as it burns a bit more than such a cut normally should. Blump raced in upon his mastiff and pulled a silken rope from his backpack. Tying it to the military saddle on the dog's back, he dismounted and tossed it to Thane. Working together, Blump and the dog pulled Thane out of the pit. At that point, Blump had to take a piss, so he headed back to the keep.
The javelins were doing enough damage (en masse) to warrant concern and Zeke was simply unable to finish off the last kobold guard he had cornered in the alcove. Instead, he moved to attack the mass that was throwing javelins at him, counting on the kobold's inability to hurt him, even from a flanking position. Thane decided to call on the magical aid his god (the Mad Archmage) had bestowed upon him that day. He cast Obscuring Mist upon the mass of kobolds, but its radius covered all the heroes as well. Zeke heard retreat called from the back of the mass and struck down several of the cowardly creatures as they tried to run right past him.
And, this is where we leave off, awaiting the next session. The kobolds, though individually weak, have a few surprises in store for intruders. Though Ash was brave enough to bring the war dogs, they remained just inside the mouth of the cave after taking serious amounts of damage from the initial ambush. They couldn't attack the kobolds in the trees, nor could they safely cross the pit trap and another hit on either may have killed them. So, it remains to be seen if they will contribute to the assault on the kobold caves at all.
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They've learned to make very good use of the 'five foot step' in order to get the flanking bonus to attack and to avoid giving it to the enemy. They have also focused heavily on defensive armament, so most of them have AC's over 20. Third, they used the rest of their collected treasure to add the 'Holy' quality to Zeke's +1 magical scimitar, so it does an additional 2d6 points of damage vs. any evil target it hits. Thus, the party has begun to play more aggressively, though carefully, and keep wiping out the opposition.
I have, however, come up with a few plans for the upcoming opponents that will give the PCs more of a challenge. Look up Sting Chucks and Pilum for a sneak preview of what to expect.
Tonight, the guys came together ready to finish off the kobold lair. I warned them that I'd taken the time to update the little pests to their Pathfinder stats, but how tough can you make a kobold of any edition?
The party was split into several different small groups. Blump and Tratumal were racing up to the cave entrance from the outside. Andoril was to the west of the pit battling a swarm of dire rats. Zeke was carefully making his way back west through the Obscuring Mist in pursuit of the retreating kobolds. South of the pit with Andoril's war dogs, Ash worked to help Thane out of the pit.
As the battle began again, Andoril found himself actually swarmed by the dire rats and suffered several diseased bites as he hacked and slashed the creatures to bloody bits. Ash successfully pulled Thane from the pit, but Blump decided that Tratumal could handle the three kobolds remaining in the trees above the cave entrance and charged into the tunnel. Tratumal returned crossbow fire for the javelins the kobolds rained down upon him and slowly cut their numbers. Blump couldn't see far into the cave because of the misty spell, but could hear the battle, so charged fearlessly (recklessly) straight past Ash and Thane and into the pit. Blump and his riding dog took minor damage from the fall, but were not so lucky when Andoril joined them.
Andoril decided that the automatic damage he was suffering from the swarm of dire rats covering his body wasn't conducive to his own victory, so tried to step back around the corner, over the pit, to the relative safety of the southern entrance tunnel. Unfortunately, the pile of rats, the near blindness, and the battle were sufficient distractions to cause him to lose his footing and tumble into the pit on top of Blump. Andoril was knocked unconscious, bleeding to death, and the rats turned upon Blump and his dog. Ash safely jumped the pit to the eastern tunnel, but Thane failed and joined the party in the pit. Again.
Zeke opted to try to finish off the lone kobold that had been trapped in the guard alcove, but still couldn't beat its defenses. Ash gave him a hand, but together they couldn't beat the bugger. Thane, Blump and Blump's dog took a few rounds to finish off the rats in the pit and Blump healed Andoril to get him on his feat again. The remaining rats crossed the corner to attack Andoril's dog. Well, most of them crossed successfully. A couple fell into the pit to join that battle. Andoril threw a rope with a grappling hook attached up into the alcove hoping to attach it to something. After a couple of tries, he snagged something and began to climb. Unfortunately, the guard table wasn't securely attached to the floor and Andoril fell back into the pit. Ash helped Thane and Andoril out, but Blump didn't want to leave his dog at the bottom of the pit. While Andoril and his dogs battled the remaining rats and Zeke scouted down the eastern hall after the retreating kobolds, Tratumal gave up on killing the last kobold in the tree and ran in to help in the larger battle. Blump eventually wrapped the rope around his dog and held on while Andoril and Ash pulled them out. As Ash pulled the rope, he backed toward the cave entrance, where he was attacked by the lone kobold who had crept down the tree after Tratumal. Ash had to run out of the cave and chase him up the ravine, but caught him and cut off his head to bring back to show Tratumal. This, he threw into the pit where it bounced off of Blump's helmet to naught but irritating effect.
Suddenly, Tratumal and Blump realized that their favorite dancer was performing at the tavern this evening and excused themselves from the engagement. The kobolds seemed to be on the run, the rats were all dead, and the party seemed to have things well in hand.
Thane, Ash, and Andoril, cautiously crossed the pit and made their way down the eastern passageway to join Zekiel. Ash heard the noise of a door opening and closing as they passed the guard alcove and moved to investigate. The other two continued on. Thane cast a Light spell down the long hallway before them and noted an intersection that headed north and west. A mass of kobolds retreated a bit before the light, then turned and began pelting them with missiles. As the three charged, they were hit by more javelins from the northern passageway when they passed by it. They also noted a spellcaster among those to the north as a magical ray zipped past Thane's head. It was a simple task to avoid a javelin or two, but dozens of them at once was not so easy. Additionally, the kobolds had had time to break into their supply of special javelins; those with barbed heads that did slightly less damage, but stuck into the victim and caused more damage when ripped out. They were also covered with a mildly poisonous sap that caused the wound to burn for additional damage. They also tried throwing some spongestone bullets coated in oil and set on fire. The flaming missiles caused as much damage to the kobolds as it did to the invading PCs, so they were quickly abandoned. The sap-covered javelins, however, proved quite effective when delivered in bulk.
The group to the north included the kobold Chieftain, his sorcerer, and his bodyguards. Though the rest of the kobold tribe had mostly green scales, the scales of these exceptional members were mainly black. These black-scaled kobolds pelted the PCs with iron-tipped javelins that were drawn to their metal armor. This didn't bother Zeke any as he wore non-metallic armor, but it negated much of the extra protection worn by Thane. They also chucked some heads with the skulls emptied out and refilled with stinging, biting insects at the heroes. None of these hit their targets, but they exploded when they hit the ground around the PCs and bugs bit into their flesh. This didn't prove a major problem until Thane stood next to several swarms too long and they moved to attack him. Five swarms of these vicious pests infested his armor and spent two whole rounds biting and stinging him before he was able to rid himself of their spent carcasses.
Zeke and Thane, together, cut down a couple of the bodyguards with scimitar and warhammer, but the chieftain called for an ambush. Recognizing the words, the two warriors backed up and avoided being surrounded as a dozen kobolds poured out of a small secret door in the wall. Zeke cut down four of the lizards as they attempted to emerge and Thane smashed another, but the flood continued and ten were left standing. The secret door slammed shut from within and the black-scaled kobolds disappeared around a corner eastward at another T intersection.
As Zeke and Thane battled this new group, Andoril went back to see if Ash needed help. Ash had found a small secret door and tripped a couple of traps protecting it, but bravely crawled into the darkened tunnel anyway. As Andoril was about to re-enter the magical mist, another secret door opened and a group of kobolds emerged to assault him. While he was thus occupied, this group was followed by the black-scaled leaders who turned east to surround Zeke and Thane.
Zeke and Thane wisely turned to face the more dangerous group and advanced on them. These kobolds proved able to survive a hit by the heroes, so weren't so easily dropped. Never-the-less, two were laid low before the chieftain tripped Thane with his glass-encrusted whip - the same whip that had slashed Ash in the face the round before. The others continued to pester them with barbed, sap-covered javelins from behind, but they killed two more of the guards and Zeke managed to reach the sorcerer and kill him before he could escape to the east. The chieftain, however, did manage to run past the prone Thane. Zeke chased after him and caught the whip around a leg. Fortunately for him, his mass and momentum was too much for the chieftain to affect and he had the whip ripped from his hand. Zeke caught him, but the horde waiting at the edge of the light spell rushed to his defense. The chieftain escaped through the charging throng and into another secret door in the north wall of the passageway.
As Ash groped his way along the miniature secret passageway he had discovered, Andoril joined Zeke and Thane. Zeke, however, decided he'd had enough of the secret door ambushes and explored the one from which the kobold leaders had emerged. Though Zeke avoided traps similar to the ones Ash had failed to detect in his secret passage, neither of them could find the doors they knew must exist at the end. They were both feeling for them in the pitch black. Meanwhile, the kobolds kept withdrawing a few feet to throw their javelins while Thane and Andoril advanced to attack them each round. During this part of the battle, Thane channeled positive energy a couple of times to heal himself and his companions. (Unknown to them, he also healed several of the fallen, but not yet dead, black-scaled kobolds, who continued to lay motionless, since standing up next to the deadly tall folk would have proved disastrous.) Thane suffered a rash of hits by those javelins and so he and Andoril chose to retreat. Unfortunately, Thane was hit by another round of barbed missiles and fell nearly dead. Zeke emerged from his tunnel to see Andoril run past and Thane drop to the ground spilling his life's blood. Advancing kobolds were right on his heels, so Zeke joined Andoril and finally Ash. The three of them crossed the pit, called the dogs, and limped home to the Keep, praying that they encountered no hostiles on the way.
Fortunately for them, the kobolds halted at the edge of the mist long enough for them to escape free and clear. Thane was lost and Zeke was incensed that kobolds had proven so tough. Life just wasn't fair any more! Pathfinder is, obviously, a cheater DM's rule system of choice.
I tried to cheer him up by pointing out that they had managed to kill 40 regular kobolds, most of the leadership, and 18 dire rats, all for the price of a single PC, but that didn't seem to help.
Last edited by SirXaris on Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:43 am; edited 7 times in total
Bertha - human female Rogue;
Lord Andoril Shieldheart - human Ranger;
Sara Lyons - human female Paladin.
At the Keep, Andoril and Sara made the acquaintance of a rather attractive female rogue who was game to join them on an adventure. Bertha and her two new friends decided to explore the woods for a bit while they waited for more of their squad members to recuperate.
Wandering the woods north of the Keep with Andoril's two war dogs and Sara's warhorse, they battled giant spiders, gnolls, and bugbears. Andoril was able to use his skills as a Ranger to convince a pack of wolves not to attack their group. They spent a couple of nights resting with a family in their steading within the woods where they helped with chores in exchange for meals and a bed.
The main entertainment, however, came when they encountered a dryad named Duebidale who put Andoril to sleep, charmed the cute Bertha, and suggested she slip away with her.
Sara tried to tackle bertha to prevent her from going with the irresistable nymph, but was unsuccessful in her attempt. Unable to find her location, they bedded down for the night in the woods. Just as Sara was falling asleep, Andoril was addressed by an elven voice from the darkness. The elf proved to be the leader of a patrol from the wood elven kingdom from the south. They answered the party's questions about dryads and told them that the only way to get her to release their friend before she was tired of their daliance was to offer her something she considered of greater value. A magical bow or staff would likely do the trick as would items of magical protection other than armor and shields. Not having any such items to offer, they asked for more suggestions. The elf told them that jewelry or gems might be accepted, though a dryad was unlikely to be interested in coins.
The elves volunteered to help the party contact her in the morning, but couldn't stay beyond that. This they did and the conversation ended with the party agreeing to bring her a platinum necklace with emeralds. She would meet them when they returned to this part of the woods. Well, Sara and Andoril had no such item of jewelry, but remembered seeing such an item for sale in the bank at the Keep. So, they headed back to the Keep and managed to find such an item for sale, though the cheapest piece cost 640 gp. Their 5% guild membership discount reduced the cost somewhat, but it still seriously drained their cash reserves. It did serve its purpose, however, as the dryad was very happy with the platinum necklace with emeralds. Bertha was returned none the worse for wear with a whispered invitation to visit again at her earliest opportunity.
End of this short side trek.
Last edited by SirXaris on Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:44 am; edited 6 times in total
Bertha - human female Rogue;
Lord Andoril Shieldheart - human Ranger;
Sara Lyons - human female Paladin
Cray Zies Tever - elven Sorcerer (new player);
Tratumal - human Monk;
Magellan - human Barbarian.
Tratumal and two new friends, Cray, an elven Sorcerer, and Magellan, a human Barbarian, joined these three at this point and they decided to return to the Caves of Chaos. Against Andoril's advice, they chose to return to the kobold cave to exact revenge for their fallen comrade. They noted a pile of brush stacked above the cave mouth, but detected no trap or ambush, so sent one of Andoril's war dogs in to scout. The dog tripped a wire that sent a weighted net crashing down from the ceiling where it had been secured. Fortunately, the dog jumped clear without harm or entanglement. The party followed the dog in and came under fire from javelins at the T intersection just 30 feet from the entrance. Only Andoril had been part of the previous assault on this tunnel system and stopped before the newly covered pit trap. His warning went unheaded, however as Magellan charged. The Barbarian fell into the pit, but the others stopped. A short battle ensued before the others managed to jump the corner and chase the kobolds away down the dark eastern tunnel.
Andoril had ordered his two dogs back outside the cave with Sara's horse and Sara was the last into the tunnel. As the kobolds retreated, they pulled a rope that ran along the ceiling and dropped the brush pile above the entrance. It formed a gate of tightly interlocking branches and brambles that blocked the light, pitching the entire tunnel into darkness. Sara tried to lift it, but couldn't do so. Cray set it alight with a Spark cantrip and it began to burn. Andoril lit a torch and crossed the pit to explore the western passageway while Tratumal lit another torch and moved east. In the guard alcove, Tratumal moved past a low table with a couple benches (noting some 5 foot, 2x12 inch planks underneath) to check the back wall for the secret door he had been told was there. Unable to find it, he and Cray headed east after the retreating kobolds.
Outside, Sara hacked at the wooden grate with her sword, but found it a strong blockade. To the west, Andoril came upon a room half full of refuse teeming with a swarm of normal-sized rats. Seeing no exits and not willing to deal with either of those disgusting issues, he headed back to the intersection. Bertha tossed a rope to Magellan and helped him climb out of the pit, while Cray set Tratumal's crossbow bolt afire with another Spark cantrip and watched as it flew down the hallway, bounced off a wall, and landed at the feet of a sheild wall of kobolds near the next bend. He followed this with Shocking Shield upon himself and chased after the kobolds. Tratumal accompanied him into the fray, but the kobolds withdrew before them while continuing to hurl their barbed, sap-covered javelins.
At this point, I must appologize because I don't remember the exact sequence of events. Too much happened for me to recreate it all. There is too much. Let me sum up.
The party found itself isolated and surrounded, again. Kobolds were poping out of secret doors that led to tunnels only three feet wide by three feet tall, which required the PCs to crawl to traverse in pursuit. Every time the PCs would advance into melee range of the line of kobold javelineers, that line would step back and hurl another round of javelins. Though most of the kobolds had green scales tinged with a bit of black, some black kobolds appeared with tinges of green in their scales. These proved tougher nuts to crack as they wore razor tips on their tails and proved more efficient at using them in close combat than had their green-scaled brethren. Additionally, these black-scaled kobolds wielded iron-tipped javelins that did little damage, but seemed to be unnaturally attracted to heroes wearing metal armor, so the hits they suffered mounted. Most annoyingly, these black kobolds possessed the dreaded stingchucks - sewn up heads full of biting, stinging insects. These bombs proved particularly troublesome because the insects, once inside a PC's armor, automatically did their damage, but misses erupted where they hit and the swarm would move, slowly, toward the nearest warm body (which was difficult to avoid in the narrow hallways).
Even more threatening were the two kobold leaders: the chieftain and the Sorcerer (who had, unbeknownst to the heroes, healed by Thane's channeling of positive energy during the last assault). All of these black-scaled kobolds had draconic heritage (black, obviously), but these two had a bit more of it coursing their veins than did the others. The chieftain was an accomplished warrior, rivaling the PCs in skill. He wielded a glass-encrusted whip in one hand and a rapier in the other for close-in fighting. The Sorcerer was especially accomplished in the use of acidic spells. Both of them could breathe a stream of acid once per day. The chieftain would stand behind his line of bodyguards and trip PCs with his whip while the Sorcerer would likewise stand behind a hord of kobold javelineers and assault the PCs with spells. When the PCs decided enough was enough and made to retreat, everything fell apart.
Tratumal had forgotten about the planks he had noted in the guard alcove and had never mentioned their existance to anyone else. When they tried to cross the pit, Sara, the only PC with magical healing ability, was the first to fail the attempt and fall in. While under fire from two sides, the kobold chieftain, then the Sorcerer used their breath weapons for the first time. Two more PCs fell to the floor, but Sara was unable to get out of the pit to help them. Bertha didn't want to be pulled in herself, so instead, she carefully pushed and lowered each of the fallen (Cray and Magellan) into the pit for Sara to heal. Unfortunately, she was under fire from kobolds on the edge of the pit opposite Bertha. Some of the black-scaled kobolds on that western edge pulled out javelins with wide, flat, crescent-shaped heads and threw them at Bertha's and Andoril's legs. Both heroes were hit and tripped. Bertha managed to keep her feet, but Andoril went down next to the pit. Falling unconscious, he slipped over the edge and joined the other fish in the stoney barrel.
Bertha and Sara, being the only two adventurers left standing, were desperate. When Bertha fell with more javelins pincushioning her body, Sara dropped her weapon, threw her hands in the air, and surrendered. The kobold Sorcerer couldn't understand her words, but grabbed the hide armor being worn by one of his underlings, gave it a violent shake, and pointed down to Sara at the bottom of the pit. She got the hint and removed her armor. The kobolds lowered a rope, pulled her up until her arms and head rose above the lip of the pit, and tied her hands tightly. They proceeded to pull the rest of her body out of the pit and bind her almost mummy-like. Any others still breathing were coup-de-graced. Sara was tortured a bit and mocked for her failure until a Cleric of Iuz arrived, apparently summoned by the kobolds. He took her to another cave where she was subjected to even more torture and left, naked, in a cell with the promise that she would be sacrificed to the Old One soon.
The party had managed to kill four green-scaled kobolds and one black-scaled bodyguard on this assault.
Next up? Make up new characters, rinse, and repeat.
Last edited by SirXaris on Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:36 pm; edited 5 times in total
Sir Andoroar Shieldheart - human Ranger (Andoril's younger brother - fifth, and last, heir to the ancestral Shieldheart lands in the Pomarj);
Jordan - human female Sorcerer;
Thoben - dwarven Barbarian;
Petras - dwarven Barbarian (Thoben's twin);
Mace - half-orc Barbarian;
Norlamin - human Ranger;
Lora - human female Cleric.
Before succombing to the ambuscade of the cunning kobolds, Lord Andoril Shieldheart had sent for his younger brother, Sir Andoroar Shieldheart to aid him and his companions in their efforts to eradicate the evil from the Caves of Chaos. Unfortunately, Sir Andoroar arrived at the keep on the very same evening that his brother's body was serving as the main ingredient of an adventurer stew concocted by the kobold cooking staff. Being informed of his brother's departure earlier that day, Sir Andoroar and the adventuring companions that had accompanied him decided to rest the night at the Keep and follow the Captain of the Watch's directions for finding the Caves in the morn in order to meet up with his sibling.
Arriving at the ravine harboring the Caves, they discovered all to be quiet. Having been informed which cave entrance the cleric Thane had perished in, they deduced that that was the cave that Sir Andoril would have first explored. Thus, they cautiously entered. In so doing, the brushy gate was dropped across the entrance sealing them into blackness, despite the late morning light outside. Following that, a weighted net dropped, though only Lora was trapped beneath it. This group wisely took to heart the advice given them by Zeke and Ash before departing and avoided triggering the pit trap at the T intersection, but traded missile fire with the kobold guards in the alcove. Thoben hopped the corner and charged the guards who spread out to avoid allowing him the opportunity to attack more than one with the wide swings of his greatsword. Mace hopped the pit westward and chased a single kobold down that had pulled the rope dropping the net on Lora. After dropping that kobold in turn, he saw nothing interesting in the room at the end (just refuse and rats), so, heeding the calls of his companions, headed back to the edge of the pit.
Norlamin helped Lora cut herself free of the heavy netting while the others joined Thoben on the east side of the pit. They killed a couple of the kobold guards, but the others retreated through the secret door or down the eastern tunnel before them. Pursuing those fleeing eastward, the party came to the infamous intersection with the connecting hallway running north. Suffering under a crossfire, they bulled through the hail of javelins and hit the eastern wall of javelineers hard. Sir Andoroar was first to assault the wall and beheaded the first kobold in line. As Mace and Norlamin backed him up, Andoroar hefted the severed head and charged the line again. This was too much for the depleted force of kobolds and they broke and ran through a secret door. At this time, Petras and Lora were surprised when a secret door opened beside them (just west of the infamous intersection) and a black-scaled kobold stuck its head out, opened its mouth, and breathed a stream of acid at them. Lora suffered serious damage from the acid, but Petras was hit right in the face and was nearly killed (rolled a 1 on his save, so suffered double damage). The kobold immediately disappeared back inside the secret door.
Mace chose to run over and open the secret door. Dropping to his hands and knees, he tried to stab the kobold within with his scizor. He was successful in blooding the beast, but elected not to follow it as it backed down the tunnel. It cast a spell at Mace, but he resisted its effects. It's giant centipede familiar tried to bite him from its hiding place at the juncture of the wall and floor, but the half-orc Barbarian was too canny to be caught unawares and avoided the bite that would have added the effects of one of its master's spells to the damage. As Mace watched the kobold disappear through another secret door at the end of the tunnel, he wisely chose to back out himself rather than crawl through in pursuit.
Instead, he ran through that infamous intersection turning north this time to assist Thoben against the javelineer wall therein. Most of the party had been hit by a barbed javelin or four, but Andoroar was being bitten and stung by the bugs released from a couple of the kobolds' vicious stingchucks. As Mace reached the line, so too did the kobold Sorcerer from another direction. Having used his spells up for the day, he relied now upon his Acid Splash cantrip. Unfortunately for the PCs, acid was this Sorcerer's speciality. The warriors managed to cut down all but a few of the kobolds between them and the Sorcerer, but those that had fled Andoroar's beheading wrath in the east, entered from another passageway to their Sorcerer's defense.
At the same time, the kobold chieftain and his two surviving bodyguards snuck down the passageway from the west and attacked Petras, Jordan, and Lora. Lora cast Murdering Command upon the Chieftain and successfully ordered him to attack his ally. This he did and dropped one of his bodyguards with a trip and stab from behind. Petras charged and attacked and was attacked in turn. Retreating before the two black-scaled kobolds, Lora tried to repeat her trick, but the canny kobold sneered and promised to deal with her, the only member of the party able to understand the kobold's tongue (due to her earlier casting of Comprehend Languages), and pressed the attack against Petras. Petras was felled by the chieftain, but Jordan felled the bodyguard with a casting of Sleep. Unfortunately, she also hit Norlamin with the spell and he succombed as well. Mace raced back to protect the two spellcasters and finished off the bodyguard with a coup de grace. He suffered a piercing stroke of the chieftain's rapier as payment for his bravado, then turned to face him directly. Trapped with his back to the wall between Mace and Lora, the chieftain stepped atop the unconscious Petras and, with a sneer at Mace, administered his own coup de grace to the helpless dwarf. Fortunately for Petras, the damage was as light as possible and he survived the stroke. Lora and Mace, however, were unsuccessful in their many attempts to cut the kobold chieftain down.
Meanwhile, Jordan cast Sleep again on the kobold javelineers down the hall with the kobold Socerer. They took a round to wake the three that had fallen, then advanced to pelt the adventurers with more barbed javelins. Andoroar had fallen, near death, from his many javelin wounds and the bites of the swarm of insects covering his body, Norlamin was magically asleep, and Petras and Thoben had also fallen unconscious and bleeding from a multitude of wounds. Jordan managed to wake Norlamin, but Mace chose to retreat. Trying to follow his lead, Lora was cut down by the chieftain. Norlamin passed Mace, but stopped to drop a plank across the pit to ease his escape. Jordan, seeing her companions flee or be cut down trying to pass by the chieftain, surrendered and was bound as securely as Sara had been the day before. Four of the kobolds stayed behind to bind Jordan and finish off the others with coup de graces, but the chieftain, Sorcerer, and three others chased after the fleeing Barbarian and Ranger.
Mace was in a hurry to save his own hide, so didn't wait for Norlamin to move aside, but pushed past him to cross the plank first. This proved a disastrous decision as his balance failed him and he plunged into the pit head first - right on top of a swarm of insects that had been released by an earlier miss-thrown stingchuck that landed in the pit. Norlamin raced across the plank and kicked it down into the pit to foil pursuit. He, reluctantly, stopped to throw a rope down to Mace. Catching up, the kobold pursuers assaulted Norlamin with javelins and Acid Splash while the chieftain wrapped his whip around Mace's neck. The powerful Barbarian was able to keep his grip on the rope and pull himself up, however. The two ran to the entrance and began hacking at it with their weapons. The kobolds threw another plank (third of four) across the pit and followed their quarry.
The two heroes (bravely running away) managed to cut a hole big enough to crawl through, but Mace was brought down by the attacks of the kobolds before he could make the attempt. Norlamin just made it through the hole with the kobolds on his heal. He cut the chieftain as he crawled through, but couldn't stop him. He ran with five kobolds (including the chieftain and the Sorcerer) at his back. They threw one round of javelins and a spell at him, but he kept going. He was out-distancing the shorter humanoids and had only the trip back to the Keep to worry about when their final volley, at long range, brought him down (to exactly zero hit points).
As there was no longer a battle raging and Norlamin wasn't bleeding to death, the kobolds elected to bind him as they had done Jordan and prepare him for the ministrations of their masters, the Clerics of the Old One, Lord Iuz.
And, thus ends the tragic story of the family Shieldheart...
This round, the party scored 11 normal kobolds and two bodyguards killed - better than the 5 normal and 4 bodyguards killed last time. The kobold tribe has, so far, accounted for 10 PCs slain and 3 captured.
Am I living up to my obligatory reputation as a writer for TPKGames, or not?
Last edited by SirXaris on Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:08 pm; edited 5 times in total
No, they haven't tried to convince me to let them do anything that extreme yet, but they are doing everything they can to build super PCs. The newest PC came in with six ability scores ranging between 16 and 20 and two more feats than it was allowed. I am okay with them rolling (picking) their own ability scores (though I may have to begin nixing some of them) as I don't want to force them to play a character they aren't happy playing. Besides, that allows me to avoid feeling badly when I pull out all the stops and play their opponents to the hilt.
Are all the PCs dead now...or are you taking a brief rest due to carpal tunnel syndrome, SirXaris?
Awaiting the next installment
You're right, I have been procrastinating, but it's because I can't remember everything that happened. It has been a busy two weeks leading up to and including Homecoming Week at the university so my player base was unavailable. We have begun again, however, so I'll get the narration caught up.
Surprisingly, you will find that, though more PCs have been killed or captured, they were finally able to defeat the last of the kobold tribe and chase the few survivors out of their caverns.
Zeke - Elven Ranger;
Four or five of them. Will add when I can check with the players.
The kobolds were less deadly this time around as their numbers were seriously diminished. Despite that, the kobold chieftain (4th level Rogue), Sorcerer (3rd level), two surviving bodyguards (2nd level Fighters), and 16 surviving normal kobolds managed to kill two more of the PCs. Thus, at this point, the kobolds' current tally vs. the adventurers is 12 PCs killed and 3 captured. (The Iuzian Clerics will soon be getting quite a boon from their lord and master from such fine sacrifices. This calls for a special ceremony. )
The PCs did manage to kill the kobold Sorcerer, two bodyguards, and most of the normal kobolds. I remember Zeke chasing the sorcerer through some secret tunnels into the refuse room where he was assaulted by a swarm of normal rats summoned by the kobold Sorcerer. He beat them off ( ) with a burning torch, killed a couple of kobolds in his way, and chased the Sorcerer to the pit, which it fell into while trying to hurdle it. The live PC in the pit at the time killed it before it could regain its feet. Only the chieftain and a few of his lesser minions escaped. However, since the party was so cautious searching for the fleeing kobolds, afraid to run into traps or ambushes, the surviving kobolds had time to collect their treasures and escape the caverns with them. (Note that such caution did prevent the PCs from running afoul of some nasty traps.) Who knows where the kobold chieftain led his small band of survivors, or what devious plots he devises for revenge against those pesky kids!
Well, they are all 2nd level by now, except Blump, the gnomish Cleric, who is 3rd. Tonight, only three were available, so they did some wandering around and role-playing at the Keep.
Thordac - half-orc Ranger (replacement for Norlamin and the Shieldhearts - this player is going to stick with Rangers until one survives );
Tumak - dwarven Fighter;
Blump - gnome Cleric.
Blump and Tumak met at the tavern and there encountered the band of dwarves from clan Battle Royale. Krondall, the band's leader, was well disposed to his fellow dwarf and the gnome and they struck up a conversation. The party discovered that Krondall had met Tumak's brother a little while ago, but knew not his fate. They also learned that the dwarven band was still searching for the Caves of Chaos because that was where the Bone Breaker clan of orcs was believed to lair. They explained that their fellows had delivered the contracted weapons to the orcish clan, but had failed to return, with or without payment. Thus, it was assumed that the orcs had reneged on the agreement and Krondall's band was assigned the task of exacting vengence upon them. (Note: Clan Battle Royale is a LN clan from the Clatspurs specializing in weaponsmithing. They will contract with anyone, good, neutral, or evil. They always keep their contracted agreements and ruthlessly make examples of anyone who fails to keep their end of the bargain.)
Blump remembered the device rudely painted on one of the shields in the secret room in the orc caverns and recognized it as the Bone Breakers symbol, as described by Krondall. Thus, they contracted to lead the Battle Royale band to the Caves of Chaos and identify their cave. Krondall didn't want the PCs to join them, however, as he claimed it was a clan matter and the PCs weren't trained in proper battle techniques to join efficiently with them. So, they headed out as guides for the dozen members of the Battle Royale band.
After gathering the hung-over Thordac from his bed at the inn, the group traveled east from the Keep. Soon, they encountered a small band of mounted Tiger Nomads, fierce-looking Chakyik warriors. The single female in the group, though slight of build, seemed at least as threatening as the powerfully built males. Blump noted that they decorated their weapons and mounts with the pelts and other accoutrements of wolves. This, he deduced, indicated that they had successfully battled members of their cousin's clans, the Wolf Nomads, recently. As the dwarves didn't appear to be willing to step out of the way of the horses, these raiders circled warily just out of reach. A sly look back by the female was all the communication that passed between them.
Continuing along the road as it curved north, they spied a couple dozen mounted knights and men-at-arms approaching from that direction. As they drew nearer, they noted the banner of Sir Bluto ('Sans Pite' being added later), minor nobleman from Perrenland. They knew him only from his poor reputation, as offered by each and every inhabitant of the Keep that passed through the tavern, though Blump had encountered him once before. Such encounter had left Blump with an even more negative opinion of the haughty nobleman. The mounted group drew rein a dozen paces from the dwarves and the Ancient advanced to demand that the dwarves give up the road for his Lordship. Krondall, announced that he and his men were members of clan Battle Royale and servants of his Majesty, Stone Cold King Austin. Therefore, Sir Bluto must give way as Krondall's master outranked him. At this, the dwarves hefted shields and stepped shoulder-to-shoulder to block the road.
This caused Sir Bluto and his men to couch their lances and spread out in a double row blocking the road from their direction. Blump immediately attempted to persuade Krondall to give way as he knew the power of Sir Bluto and his men. He pointed out that Sir Bluto's group was mounted and outnumbered their own band by quite a few. Tumak supported Blump, but Krondall was unconvinced. Thordac watched from the trees to the north.
As the knights prepared to charge and the dwarves planted their feet to receive it, Blump and Tumak prepared to run. Blump made one last desparate attempt to calm the situation by pointing out to Krondall that battling Sir Bluto would not help him complete his assigned mission. This caused Krondall to reconsider and he offered to share the road by traveling single file. Sir Bluto accepted this with a sneer and a smirk and both parties moved past each other. It did not go smoothly, though, as the last half of the mounted men-at-arms suddenly jerked their horses' reins to the left and slammed their mounts' shoulders into the dwarves' shields, knocking several of them out of line and a few onto their arses.
Rord, the Battle Royale band's Cleric, laid his hand on Harn's arm as the second in command reached for his crossbow. Glaring daggers (or, rather, throwing axes) at the knights' backs, Harn and the others heeded Krondall's order to get back in line and continue the march as Rord noted the incident with Sir Bluto in his notebook.
They continued until they stood at the bottom of the ravine and pointed out the cave of the orc tribe that Blump and his previous companions had defeated. He explained that that tribe's shields had been decorated with a different design, but that a single shield on the wall of a secret room sported the design of the Bone Breakers clan. They explored that cave system, but found it deserted and the secret room cleaned out. They discovered that the cave next to this one also held orcs, so Krondall paid his guides their agreed upon price and told them to stay outside while he and his men went in to negotiate with what they suspected were the Bone Breakers. The PCs took up hidden positions north of the ravine where they had a good view of the visible caves. Krondall and his men entered and the PCs waited. After about half an hour, the sounds of battle erupted from within the cave Krondall's band had entered and before the PCs could rush down, the dwarves emerged carrying several of their members on their backs. Thordac noted that all 12 members of Krondall's band appeared to exit the cave. Several orcs emerged behind them, but stopped in the afternoon sunlight, content to hurl insults and rocks at the retreating dwarven backs.
The PCs watched the Battle Royale band retreat out of the ravine, then settled in to see what transpired in the waining sunlight of the late afternoon and evening. They saw ocassional gnoll hunters leave and return to one cave they had not yet explored. A few bugbears emerged from a thorny copse of trees, but they could not spy a cave through the dense thicket. From one cave issued nothing but rather large bats, but from the last cave came a human in evil-looking clerical vestments accompanied by six skeleton guards. This person entered all of the caves, one at a time, and emerged after about half an hour within each, including the bat cave. The group debated the wisdom of attacking him, but the fact that two of the three possessed no bludgeoning weapons decided the issue of battling a group of skeletons. Instead, they opted to return to the Keep and see if they could hire some mercenaries to buff their numbers.
Returning to the Keep via the road, Thordac kept to the edge of the forest. This was an unfortunate decision as it separated him from the others and made him an easy target for the four bugbears that ambushed him. Seeing their new companion cut down before they could react, Blump and his dwarven fellow, opted to run as fast as they could go to the safety of the Keep. Thordac, however, wasn't immediately killed. He chose to surrender without drawing a weapon. Surprised, the bugbears poked and prodded him attempting to get him to fight. They were terribly disappointed that their victim wasn't playing the game correctly. They knocked him down and he opted to play dead. At this, they trussed him up and carried him away to their lair. Perhaps he'd be more fun when he awoke.
Blump and the dwarf raced to the mercenary encampment within the walls of the Keep and, in the middle of the night, shouted for someone to employ. They offered to pay well, but needed brave souls to head out immediately to rescue their companion. After much ado, they managed to convince a band of a dozen men to come with them. The terms were steep when the PCs admitted that they intended to hunt bugbears in the darkness. Thus, the PCs agreed to pay 200 pieces of gold up front (as it was likely the mercenaries wouldn't survive such a quest) for a week, or until their companion was rescued, whichever came first. There was only enough money left for each of the two PCs to buy themselves a morningstar as insurance against skeletons.
They immediately returned to the Caves and prepared to assault the cave of the bugbears.
Aside: Does anyone know if Sir Bluto Sans Pite (White Plume Mountain) has an official coat of arms? Canon or fan-created, I'd appreciate not making up something completely random.
Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:01 pm; edited 14 times in total
The Bugbear assault group is on hold. Instead, two PCs decided to scout out the gnoll cave. They successfully snuck into the entry cave and spied a group of four gnoll guards and two hyenas in the next room. Bravely, they chose to ambush this group. A battle ensued and the two retreated to the cave entrance. The gnoll chieftain arrived and issued a challenge, which the Fighter accepted. As the duel developed, the Fighter realized he was overmatched and the Ranger decided to give him a hand with a well-placed bow shot. This angered the watching gnolls and they charged the cheater and cut him down. Now, surrounded with the exit blocked, the Fighter had no option but to finish the duel. He lost. The gnolls, however, took both bleeding, but still living adventurers and gave them to the cook to tenderize for a feast in a few days.
Fortunately, for them, another pair of adventurers arrived.
Zekiel - Elven Ranger;
Human Rogue (Thief).
These two PCs were more stealthy and had the advantage of being able to administer Sneak Attacks against ambushed foes (ie. backstabbing, for you pre-3.x ed. players). They began in a manner similar to the previous two unsuccessful PCs, but they managed to drop the first two gnolls quickly and their skill level and magical equipment was of a better caliber, so they fared better against their opponents. The hyenas, and even the chieftain's dire hyena, proved no threat against their blades, but the chieftain (2nd level Ranger) and his two sons (1st level Fighters) were more of a concern. While Zeke battled the chieftain, his comrade distracted the sons and a few other gnoll warriors.
Zeke barely managed to defeat the chieftain (1 hit point left), but one of the sons ran over and cut him down immediately after. As the gnoll Fighter prepared to coup de grace Zekiel's unconscious form, the human Rogue dropped its brother. This caused that gnoll to charge him instead of finishing Zeke off. The human Rogue deftly tumbled between the bodies and blades of the last gnoll son and a few of his fellow warriors to come up at Zeke's side. There he drained a healing potion down Zeke's throat and stood his ground to prevent the gnolls from attacking him. Zeke managed to regain his feet, down another potion himself, and together, they defeated the remaining gnolls.
Collecting some magical armor from the chief, all the coin they could find in the gnoll caverns, and rescuing the barely conscious forms of the previous two adventureres, they made their way back to the Keep.
Last edited by SirXaris on Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
Zekiel - elven Ranger;
Tumak - dwarven Fighter;
Thordac (previously referred to as 'Sir Somebodyorother') - half orc Ranger;
Ash Ole - half-elven Fighter.
Zekiel, Thordac, and Ash stood at the entrance to a cave that seemed to be deserted except for the large bats they had previously seen exiting. After some discussion, Zeke decided to scout a short way into the tunnel before being followed by the others. The way was not worked stone, but natural cavern, though the floor was well-worn by countless footsteps. Quickly encountering a T intersection, Zeke turned left and advanced another few steps before feeling a dizziness assault his mental faculties. He struggled to fight it off, but felt that he was not succeeding, so turned to return to the entrance and his compatriots. He had either traveled farther into the tunnel than he remembered or the dizziness was messing with his senses because the entrance was not just around the corner he had turned. Continuing on, he stumbled a bit in the darkness until he drew his new dagger - a holy weapon infused by Abdiel with the magic of Heironeous. This weapon shed light as a torch, so Zeke made his way comfortably.
Back at the entrance, Ash and Thordac called for Zeke, but heard no response. They decided to follow him in, but succombed to the magical confusion in turn. They remained together, but also began wandering cluelessly through the tunnels seeking the exit. Thordac was not hindered much by the darkness, but Ash lit a torch to aid his sight. They were not prepared for the traps they ran into, but the traps' keeper was altogether worse.
Zeke traveled until he entered a medium-sized cavern with a high ceiling. He could just detect the movement of a dozen or so giant bats at the edge of his torchlight, but what caught his attention was the glint of gold near a skeleton wedged into a nook in one corner of the room. As he pondered the possibilities, the 'bats' swooped from their perches and attacked. Being the size of large cats, only 6 of the 13 could attack him at once, but a couple of them managed to land upon him, clutching at his armor with six hooked legs, and drive a terrifyingly long probiscus into his flesh. Though the thought was nauseating, the pain was minor. Unfortunately, the result was more threatening as they began to drain blood at an alarming rate.
Ash and Thordac were about to have a very bad day. Ash, in the lead, tripped a wire which dropped a weighted net from the ceiling. Ash managed to roll away from it, but the Ranger was caught. Worse, a spear fired from the wall behind them and hit Thordac in the back. The Ranger worked to quickly free himself from the net while Ash looked up from his prone position to see an evil-looking bull, horns and all, peering down upon him from the darkness.
Thinking quickly, Ash pulled a pouch full of gold coins from his belt and held it up as an offering, but the beast swung two battle axes (hand ax sized for the large creature) down upon him in response. The first severed Ash's hand at the wrist, but he still managed to dodge the swing of the second. Frantically, Thordac fought to free himself from entanglement while Ash swung, unsuccessfully, at the minotaur's groin with his morningstar. As the Ranger rolled free of the net, Ash tripped while trying to cross it. The minotaur chopped Ash again, dropped his second axe to free his other hand to grab the half-elf, slammed him against the wall of the tunnel and jammed his horns into the same wall on either side of Ash's head (Legend stlye ). Satisfied that Ash had been knocked unconscious, he ignored the fleeing Ranger and took his victim back to his lair to save for later.
Zeke was slowly managing to slay the stirges, but they were draining him of his strength at an alarming rate. He was surprised to hear a shout and see the dwarf Tumak enter the cavern from another tunnel. Having been reared underground, the dwarf had resisted the effects of the dizzying magic and knew the way back to the entrance. Zeke shouted for him to lead the way and the two of them raced for it. Several of the stirges had satiated their thirst for blood on Zeke already, but the two that continued to harass him were slain as they emerged into the daylight.
Thordac ran without a sense of direction, knowing only that facing the minotaur meant certain death. He came to a room with two strange war dog-sized beetles with glowing sacks on their backs. They were apparently as interested in him and came forward with clacking mandibles. He was able to slay them without suffering injury, but he encountered three more of the insects in the next cavern he entered as well. These served up a cut or two before expiring to his blade, but he remained as lost as before. Unhelpfully, the minotaur arrived to make finding the entrance a moot point. Thordac fought bravely, as there was no retreat, and managed to draw the creatures blood, but he quickly fell to dual blades being swung by the powerful shoulders of the bull-headed giant. His unconscious form was dragged back to join that of Ash - to be eaten at the beast's leisure.
Fearing for their lives, and assuring each other that their comrades must surely be dead, Zeke and Tumak raced for the Keep. Zeke was ambushed by an owlbear, but the two warriors were more capable than they had been just a few months earlier and slew the beast before it could deal more damage than they could handle.
Next up: Clamidi'a makes her appearance.
Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:30 pm; edited 3 times in total
Argon, funny that you mention a 'name generator.' Historically, before I spawned kids of my own, I would flip through the telephone book for names! Now I have a name book we (wife and I) have after negotiating names for our son and daughter. The kids are much older now, but I still have that book, and use it to name PCs and NPCs alike!
Too bad my wife didn't like the name Luke and Leia, but even though I tried to use Jedi mind tricks on her, she is too strong-willed.
The four adventurers who decided to brave the caves next elected to forego challenging the minotaur again and entered the lair of the Bone Breakers tribe of orcs instead. They remembered the trip wire which would drop a weighted net on them in the four way intersection until the fight began. As orcs arrived to the battle from the east and west, throwing spears and charging with battleaxes, Tumak forgot the trip wire in his haste to participate and dropped the net upon himself. The others managed to dodge the falling trap, but the poor dwarf became so entangled that he spent the vast majority of the battle trying to free himself.
After a few rounds of battle, the remaining orc chieftain, D to da Ork, arrived from the northern passage with his bodyguard and the two tribal shamans. His magical, two-handed throwing maul (+1 Throwing, Returning earthbreaker) pounded the PCs who thought they had an advantage at range, so two of them chose to charge him and the bodyguard instead of trading missile fire with them.
D to da Ork
The orcish shaman from the Other clan
The Bone Breakers shaman
As the battle raged, the shamans healed the chieftain of his wounds while Blump healed the party's warriors of theirs. As a result, it lasted long enough for the dwarf to finally escape the clutches of the net. At long last, both the bodyguard and D to da Ork were slain and only the shamans remained. They, however, were now free to blast the party with Burning Hands, Murderous Command, Sleep, and other such spells. Fortunately, the PCs survived the firey damage, overcame the magical compulsion to attack their allies, and the only one to fall victim to drowsiness was the caster's fellow shaman.
Thus, the party successfully defeated the band of Bone Breakers which had driven the Battle Royale dwarves from their caves in shame. Back at the Keep, they were confronted by Krondall, Harn, and Rord, the leaders of the dwarven avenging team, who claimed that the Bone Breakers owed their clan 3,000 pieces of gold and that any loot claimed was the rightful property of the Battle Royale clan. In order to avoid making more enemies, the party offered the dwarves a suit of magical splintmail, a magical battleaxe, and a few potions they had taken from the dead orcs. This satisfied the dwarves and they parted on friendly terms with the party. The PCs were, however, decidedly neutral with respect to how friendly they wanted to regard a clan who would sell weapons to the servants of Iuz.
Last edited by SirXaris on Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:01 pm; edited 5 times in total
Each of the PCs is now 3rd level. I decided to quit penalizing them so badly for dieing. I admit, it may be just a small bit my own fault. So, now those who survive, get a small xp bonus instead of a penalty going to those who die.
The Final Deed of Ash Ole
As Thordac fled down random passageways in fear for his life, the minotaur gazed into the eyes of the half elven warrior he had pinned by the neck to the tunnel wall. Studying his newest victim's smell and wondering why it had been foolish enough to enter his lair with only a single companion, it was startled a bit as Ash regained consciousness. Spying first the minotaur's horn piercing the cavern wall inches from his turned head, Ash straightened his neck as best he could in the minotaur's steely grip and stared straight into the beast's black eyes. Gasping for breath, he whispered the words, "I forgive you," and, straining against the clawed hand clenching his throat, he planted a kiss upon the bull-headed monster's steaming snout. And Ash Ole knew no more.
Stay together, for the gods' sake!
Having what they considered to be sufficient numbers and a satisfactory plan, the party decided it was time to deal with the minotaur again. They tied a roll of sturdy string to a dead tree outside the cave's entrance and entered together, all keeping one another close and within sight. They quickly succumbed to the magical confusion that caused them to lose their sense of direction, but felt confident they could always retrace their steps.
They encountered the cave of the stirges and suffered some painful stabs before killing or chasing them off. There, they discovered some small treasure on the skeletal body of an elf pressed back into a crevice. They found a couple of caverns with more live fire beetles as well, during their search. Disconcertingly, they discovered that they were crossing their own path frequently and even traveling down the same passageways they'd traveled before on ocassion. Getting back out by retracing their steps would be a lengthy process, at best.
Eventually, the minotaur, who had been tracking them for quite some time, decided to soften them up. He had cut their string and retied it randomly inside the cavern system so that any attempt to retrace their steps would end with them lost in the center of the labyrinth. When he hit them, he nearly killed his first victim. Finding the PCs so easily hurt, the minotaur decided to stay and fight instead of retreating to make more hit-and-run attacks.
Minotaur (6 HD, Ranger 4th, HP 114, AC 23, Two-weapon Fighting, Imp. Bullrush, Imp. Init., Imp. Critical [handaxe], Quick Bullrush, etc., Stealth +13, Perception +14) +1 Shadow Chainmail, +1 Human Bane handaxe, +1 Keen, Huntsman handaxe, plus a few potions and a lucern hammer for reaching across a pit, etc. Being large sized, his hand axes are actually battleaxe sized for medium PCs. Each round he got three attacks - one with each axe and a gore, all at +13 To Hit. Damage was devastating due to his 20 Strength (+5) and the magical qualities of his weapons.
The party battled furiously for many rounds. The gnome healed frontline fighters who fell back when they suffered too many hit points in damage and allowed freshly healed (from potions) PCs to take their place. The minotaur was able to fall back slowly as he fought as his size allowed him greater reach than the PCs. Despite this, the PCs eventually managed to outflank him in a tunnel intersection and the minotaur decided the advantage had turned against him. He turned to flee, but a couple of the PCs managed to stay close enough on his heels to shoot him in the back before he could turn too many corners. These missiles were just enough to bring the beast crashing down. Collecting the head as a souvenir and the penis to be made into a charm for a necklace, they continued searching for the monster's lair. They discovered that it had almost made it to a large cavern wherein they surmised it must have lived. A covered pit blocked the entrance, but without a minotaur (or kobolds) attacking them at the same time, traversing it safely was not difficult.
Within, they discovered the head of Ash on a pike, mouth open, with a shriveled piece of his own flesh stuck inside. Behind a very large boulder, the victorious warriors discovered a couple of chests full of treasure including several useful potions.
Last edited by SirXaris on Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:26 am; edited 7 times in total
Sorry. Lost some players who didn't return to college this semester and those that did return have been busy with life. I'm working hard to put the group's survivors back together and add a few replacements. Hopefully, we'll get started again soon.
Ynohtna Noswal - male half-orc Ranger, Charisma 17;
Tumak Copperbeard - male dwarf Fighter, Charisma 15.
While their erstwhile companions either lay dead in the ground, in the belly of some humanoid beast, or suffering some other unknown fate, Ynohtna and Tumak decided to explore the forest north of the Keep and the Deepstil River. Ynohtna's two war dogs proved their worth when they scared off a mountain lion that picked up their scent and slunk along waiting for an opportunity to pounce. They were also helpful in a battle against a giant spider the pair of adventurers stumbled upon in the forest's depths. They had elected, wisely they thought, to avoid the hazards of the Caves of Chaos with only themselves. They prefered to wait until it was possible to add more sword and spell arms to the group first. They may have made a mistake.
Continuing, they encountered a harmless pair of cheerful halflings, then defeated a small band of human bandits that attempted to waylay them. Feeling somewhat confident after their recent success, they were none-the-less wary when they heard a sultry female voice call to them from the forest ahead. Ynohtna spied a camouflaged elven form moving within the underbrush between the trees. Striking up a conversation, they discovered the form to belong to a fey dryad. She was strikingly beautiful and Ynohtna was completely smitten when she focused her attention upon him. Tumak was a bit miffed at being ignored, but didn't want to spoil his friend's fun. So, when Ynohtna dropped the shield and sword he was holding and advanced into the dryad's open arms, the dwarf played the faithful wingman and gave them their privacy. The handsome half-orc Ranger disappeared deeper into the forest with the lovely sylph.
After some time, however, Tumak began to have doubts. He remembered hearing from previous companions of an encounter with a dryad that required ransoming a companion (a female PC run by the same player as was running Ynohtna ). He went back and searched for his friend, but found nought but his sword and shield lying where they had been dropped. Wandering around, he was fortunate to stumble upon an elven patrol (I swear I rolled the dryad and the elven patrol randomly! 1% chance for a dryad encounter, 6% chance for an elven patrol.) Surrounded by suspicious elves with bows and swords pointed at him, he explained that his companion had disappeared with a dryad and that he didn't know how to find him. He had to endure much elven snickering when he admitted that the dryad hadn't seemed much interested in him. He had to endure elven guffaws when he added that the companion the dryad had picked over him had been a half-orc.
When the elves gained control of themselves, they offered to help the dwarf, but explained that he'd have to accompany them back to the Keep. There, they explained that a dryad can only be convinced to give up her lover peacefully if she is offered something she considers of greater value - a defensive magic item, a valuable piece of jewelry, or a prettier replacement. Tumak didn't have any magical cloaks, nor rings except for a Ring of Sustenance recently acquired in the minotaur's labyrinth. The elves, however, told him the dryad would have little use for such a trinket. So, he went to see the jeweler in the Keep to purchase something with which to ransom his friend. The jeweler was intrigued at Tumak's plight and recalled helping other adventurers similarly inconvenienced. He commented that the previous group had offered her a platinum and turquoise necklace worth about 750 pieces of gold and that she would likely be unflattered at a lesser, or even an equal, offering. Thus, Tumak was convinced to purchase a beautiful, but frail platinum necklace studded with saphires for 1,000 pieces of gold.
With his ransom and the helpful elves, Tumak returned to the forest to summon the dryad. The elves played their high-falutin music for what seemed interminable hours to the poor dwarf until, finally, the dryad appeared. The elf captain explained why they had requested her presence, then gave the conversation over to Tumak. He requested the release of his friend, Ynohtna, and offered the necklace in exchange. The dryad, however, haggled. She accepted his offer and promised to release the Ranger exactly one year and a day from this day. The dwarf looked to the elf and asked if that was acceptable (The player actually looked at the Ranger's player and asked that question. ). The elven captain quietly advised the dwarf to haggle with her. He got her down to a month, but the elf encouraged him to continue and he was successful in convincing her to lower the time to only two days. However, in addition to leaving the necklace with her now, Tumak was to return in two days with a replacement lover - a knight in shining armor, riding a white horse. That was their agreement. The elves rolled their eyes, but wished the dwarf good fortune and bid him farewell.
Tumak returned to the Keep working out a plan to win the release of his half-orc friend. He remembered the brutish knight, Sir Bluto Sans Pite, who had, along with his fellow knights, squires, and men-at-arms, bullied him and his companions on the road a fortnight previous. The men-at-arms took every opportunity to harass demi-humans and even the human inhabitants of the Keep every time they saw them, especially in the tavern. He knew that the knights and their squires were lodged in the Keep's donjon as noble (though not liked) guests of the castellan. However, the men-at-arms and their sergeants were quartered in the inn - the same place Tumak and Ynohtna had a room. Tumak went to the tavern, found a group of four men-at-arms and their sergeant. They immediately began to hurl insults at Tumak, but the dwarf waved the half-dozen blue-liveried Keep soldiers down when they stood to prevent a fight and offered to buy the men-at-arms drinks. This they insultingly accepted. They were less irritated to accept a second round and were even happy to accept a third, fourth, and fifth round of drinks as long as the stupid dwarf was willing to pay for them.
While buying them drinks, Tumak regaled the armed bullies with tales of his adventures in and around the Keep. By the time they were emptying their fifth round of good, strong brew (Tumak paid for the good stuff ), they were all ears when Tumak told them about a gorgeous elven woman that he and his friend had met in the woods and had some fun with. He even explained that he had been worn out and needed some rest, so had left his friend to have his turn. When questioned, he assured the men that he planned to return for some more of her inviting sweetness and that she had asked him to bring some friends. That was all it took to get the drunken group to the stables. Though the stable boys saddled their horses, it took a bit more work to get them all in the saddle. Attempting to leave the Keep after dark elicited some questions from the Corporal of the Watch, but Tumak, being known to him, was able to alleviate his concerns. The group rode into the forest and Tumak called for the dryad. She was disappointed in the knight Tumak indicated as the one he'd brought for her, though the sergeant had demanded to be first and was befuddled at her refusal. She glanced at each of the other four armored men until her gaze fell upon a young one as pretty as the Ranger. (I rolled randomly for their Charisma scores.) She spoke softly as a lover while holding his gaze upon her beautious orbs (her eyes, fellas ) until the youth was completely smitten. She then began to lead him off into the darkness. As she did, Ynohtna emerged from the trees, naked as a jaybird. As she disappeared into the enclosing arbor, the dryad called over her shoulder to Tumak that he still owed her a white horse.
The sergeant's mind cleared enough to shout to his men to find the one who left with the dryad and bring him back. The sergeant ran off intent on catching the dryad herself. Tumak returned to the keep with Ynohtna, begged off the questions of the Corporal of the Watch and headed straight to their room at the inn. All seemed well until Ynohtna realized that all he now possessed was the sword and shield that Tumak had recovered for him. Though he could replace his armor and most other items, he was quite upset about the half dozen or so healing potions that had, apparently, been left at the dryad's abode. Thus, instead of celebrating the victory, the two of them concocted a plan that nearly destroyed their friendship and got them both killed.
To be continued...
Last edited by SirXaris on Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:10 pm; edited 8 times in total
Tumak was a bit miffed at being ignored, but didn't want to spoil his friend's fun...the dwarf played the faithful wingman and gave them their privacy. The handsome half-orc Ranger disappeared deeper into the forest with the lovely sylph.
...they were all ears when Tumak told them about a gorgeous elven woman that he and his friend had met in the woods and had some fun with. He even explained that he had been worn out and needed some rest, so had left his friend to have his turn. When questioned, he assured the men that he planned to return for some more of her inviting sweetness and that she had asked him to bring some friends.
She spoke softly as a lover while holding his gaze upon her beautious orbs (her eyes, fellas ) until the youth was completely smitten. She then began to lead him off into the darkness. As she did, Ynohtna emerged from the trees, naked as a jaybird. SirXaris
So, this must be the PG posting you told me to follow, yes?
Damned dryads. Your players no doubt are starting to hate them! Fleecing your characters of their ill-gotten gains to retrieve 'love' smitten fellows.
She'd better watch out. She may press her luck too far. Just wait til someone tires of her shenanigans and sets the forest aflame!
Of course, the elves may have a problem with that...
It occurs to me that I forgot the part where the dryad spoke in elven to the elven captain asking him to be her vengence if the dwarf failed to fulfill his part of the bargain. The elf captain agreed since he had initially vouched for the dwarf by summoning the dryad in the first place. He then explained to Tumak what he'd promised the dryad and made sure the dwarf understood the consequences of failing to keep his end of the bargain.
Any Lie for Love
Tumak Copperbeard(less)- male dwarf Fighter (aka the gnome-goblin);
Ynohtna Noswal - male half-orc Ranger (can't keep himself clothed).
As Ynothna's relief at being ransomed faded, he realized that he had none of his belongings but the sword and shield Tumak had thoughtfully retrieved for him. He was not overly worried about most of his equipment, but he had paid dearly for those healing potions and he desperately needed them for his own survival and that of his adventuring companions. He had to recover them. To that end, the pair of adventurers concocted a plan to lure the dryad away from her tree in order to steal back Ynohtna's treasures.
They managed to convince another group of Sir Bluto's drunken men-at-arms to accompany them into the forest. Once there, they summoned the dryad and she selected the prettiest one and began to lead him off. The drunken sergeant, however, followed them and chopped his man down from behind in a rage at being rejected while Tumak backed away into the darkness. While this was happening, Ynohtna snuck around and approached the dryad's tree. He searched to no avail for an opening. When he heard her running back toward him, he hid and drew his bow. As she approached, the Ranger loosed an arrow directly at her. It sliced her forearm as she ran and she stopped and hid behind another trunk. He lost sight of her until he was hit by an arrow from off to his side and saw that she had fired it. He charged her, but she stepped into the tree and appeared on a branch 20 feet above him. She asked him why he had attacked her and he was unable to resist her faerie charms. She stepped back into the trunk, then reappeared by stepping out of it at its base in front of him. Continuing to coax the truth from him, he panicked at the thought of telling his love that he had wanted to steal his potions back and had attacked her in anger. Instead, he did the only thing his infatuated mind could think of - he lied through his teeth.
Ynohtna explained that his friend, the dwarf Tumak, had convinced him that the dryad was evil and would seek him out and sacrifice him to a demon because the ransom was just a ruse and that the only way to save his life was to kill her. She finally shushed him with a kiss, then assured him that none of that was true. However, she told him that she expected him to make things right now by being the instrument of her wrath against the lying dwarf who had tricked her lover into hurting her. The charmed Ranger readily agreed to do anything the dryad asked. To that end, she insisted that the dwarf's beard be cut off and that he be hanged by his ankles at the edge of the forest within sight of the Keep for one day and one night. Ynohtna's love for this divine creature overcame his hesitation at bringing such harm to his friend and he set out to accomplish her desires.
Tumak returned to the the inn first, but Ynohtna was not far behind. As the dwarf prepared for bed, the Ranger said he was not sleepy and was going out for a walk. So, Tumak fell into a comfortable slumber and Ynohtna made his eventual way to a room with more of Sir Bluto's men-at-arms. He knocked on their door and was about to be punched in the face when he offered them 500 gold pieces to deal with a problem dwarf. Dragging him into their room instead, they asked about the gold. The half-orc produced it immediately, then explained what he wanted from them in exchange. Smiling, they took the money and agreed to do something they would have happily done for free if given the chance.
Ynohtna let them into his room and they surrounded Tumak's bed. Two of them tried to knock him unconscious while the other three held him down. Tumak, instead, woke up and struggled against his grapplers. Unfortunately, for the dwarf, his assailants were too strong and he was knocked out, trussed up, and rolled up in several bedrolls. The party then mounted their horses and headed for the gate. Again, the Corporal of the Watch took the Ranger at his word and allowed the group to exit the Keep. They rode north to the edge of the woods where Tumak was unrolled, and strung up on a tree branch by his ankles. Cursing his kidnappers, he noticed one standing back, not participating, but wearing a mask over his face. The others he recognized as some of Sir Bluto's men. They beat his bound, upside-down form until he was nearly dead, then made to leave. At the last minute, one of the brutes returned and cut off the dwarf's beard saying, "That's no way to leave a dwarf!" They returned to the Keep and Ynohtna accepted their invitation to join them in revelry using the money he had spotted them.
Tumak dangled upside-down, bloody and bruised, from the branch a few feet off the ground. He considered that, at least, they had left him to die with his clothes on, though the blood was filling his brain and making it hard to think. As he pondered his predicament, some kobolds discovered him and began prodding his now swinging form. He was shocked and fearful for more than his life when their blackscaled leader approached and looked him in the face. Tumak recognized the beast as the half-dragon leader of the band he and his friends had finally defeated in the Caves of Chaos. This was largely due to the whip on his hip and the small rapier in his hand. The kobold, however, didn't seem to recognize the dwarf. (He didn't have a beard, after all.)
"What be ye, foul-smelling beast? Fat and red, yes, but good for a feast?"
Thinking as quickly as his pounding brain could manage, Tumak told it that he was a half-gnome, half-goblin. His mother was a gnome and his father was a goblin. He did his best to assure the kobold that he was not tasty at all, but didn't think he was having much luck when an angry female voice shouted at the kobolds to leave him alone. Then the dryad appeared in the dim moonlight filtering through the trees at the forest's edge and threatened to have the trees reach down and pull the kobold's limbs from their bodies. At this, the band scattered in fear, though the blackscaled leader was the last to go and did so with a reptilian sneer.
The dryad then spun the dwarf to face her and sealed her charm with an upside-down kiss. She asked Tumak why he had lied to Ynohtna about her and convinced him to attack her. Desperate to prove his devotion to his soul's perfect mate, Tumak swore that he had nothing to do with the Ranger's attack upon the dryad and that he didn't even know that he was going to attack her. He just knew that Ynohtna wanted his potions back. Convinced of the dwarf's innocence in the matter, the dryad forgave him and made him promise to enact vengence upon the Ranger for his unforgivable scorn. This Tumak readily agreed to do. She released him from his bonds and he began the long trek back to the Keep on foot.
Upon his return, he had a difficult time begging off the questions of of the Corporal of the Watch, but eventually made his way back to the inn. As he opened the door to his room, he heard laughter down the hallway and looked to see Ynohtna emerge from a room full of Sir Bluto's men-at-arms. Spying Tumak in turn, the half-orc drunkenly entered their shared room and welcomed his friend back. When Tumak inquired as to Ynohtna's whereabouts the previous evening, the Ranger explained that he had gone for a walk and ended up drinking with some fellas who invited him to join them with free grog. He pretended to be rather irritated to discover who those drinking friends had been and concerned about the events that had befallen his friend, Tumak. Tumak, however, knew the truth as the dryad had told him that his friend had obeyed her demand for vengeance upon him.
The next day, Tumak sought an audience with Tornamir, the castellan, and accused Ynohtna of kidnapping and physical abuse. Tornamir listened carefully and assured the dwarf that he would have the incident investigated. That evening, Tumak and Ynohtna reveled at the tavern, but Tumak only pretended to drink much. The Ranger, however, tried to drown his guilt in alcohol. When Ynohtna couldn't keep himself upright in the chair any longer, Tumak loaded them both onto steeds stolen from Sir Bluto's men. He found no white steed, but chose a grey that appeared whitish. Mounted, they rode to the gatehouse. Again, he assured the Corporal of the Watch that their late-night excursions were more of their adventures to destroy evil humanoids in Lord Locks' domain and exited without incident. When they were far enough north of the Keep for any witnesses, Tumak pulled the half-orc from his saddle, stripped him naked, bound his wrists and ankles, and tied him to a rope attached to his whitish horse's saddle. Giving the horse a surprising slap upon its rump, he sent it running into the woods, dragging the naked half-orc behind. With a private chortle at the success of his revenge, Tumak returned alone to the Keep.
The horse was finally calmed by the dryad, who eased the Rangers sores a bit with her kiss and calmed his nerves with her lovely gaze. She told him she knew the truth and even returned half of his healing potions since she felt he had been duly chastised for his afront to her love. However, she felt that he still owed her for all the trouble that his attack and lies had caused her. She told him she'd let him go, but that he needed to bring her back a defensive magic item within one month to prove that his promise to never lie to her or harm her again was true. If he failed, she would have her elven friends hunt him down and bring him to her for a permanent punishment. Even had Ynohtna not been magically enchanted with undying love for her at the moment, he would not have hesitated to agree that such a deal was extremely generous.
Returning to the Keep, he was called before Sir Tornamir and questioned about his part in the incident with Tumak. He denied involvement and was released. Later that day, there was quite a ruckus as Sir Bluto and his remaining men angrily prepared to leave the Keep. Just as this was happening, two of Sir Bluto's men-at-arms showed up at the barbican, bloody and nearly dead. Sir Bluto spoke to them, then stormed back to shout at Sir Tornamir. Not long after, however, he returned and the entire troop of over two dozen knights and men-at-arms stormed out the gates. Interestingly, the two adventurers noted that the knight and his men rode east, down the road that ran past the Caves of Chaos then branched, continuing east, but also heading north to Eru Tovar in the lands of the Wolf Nomads.
Sir Bluto and his men didn't leave in any obscurity. They left to the cheering of the crowd that had gathered to watch and that of many of the Keep's guardsmen as well. This was accompanied by the throwing of rotten vegetables and a few sticks and stones by small children. Soon word spread that Sir Bluto had refused to allow Sir Tornamir to question his men over some issue they were involved in. The castellan gave him the choice of submitting his subordinates to his interogation or leaving the Keep. When Sir Bluto learned of the abuse his men had suffered at the hands of the dwarf and half-orc, he had stormed back to demand that Tornamir arrest and punish those two "low-browed, common, pieces of troll excrement." Sir Tornamir stated that he was all too happy to comply as soon as Sir Bluto could arrange for him to interrogate the witnesses. The haughty, selfish knight left the castellan's presence again in a rage, this time leaving the Keep without another interruption.
Tumak and Ynohtna were thanked profusely by every inhabitant of the Keep they met for the next few days and couldn't pay for their own drinks if they'd tried. Under the circumstances, they decided that being the toast of all the fine folks at the Keep for a while was a good reason to forgive and forget that they'd each chosen to save their own hide at the expense of the other.
Now, they needed more of their friends for another adventure.
Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:16 pm; edited 12 times in total
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