SB1.15: To the stronghold

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

and NPCs:

  • Oswald, fighter
  • Vert the cooshee

State of play: intent on wreaking some measure of vengeance on Hextorite forces the party has sacked Fort Champion and initiated the draining of the lake south of Dragon Mountains. Now, the mission they accepted from the Glove, Sentinel, must be prepared for!

Part one: When the boat comes in

Side thread: Enhance prospects of making money on this venture by shipping the keelboat loot to Fort Champion; from there the Templars will make best efforts to get the aggregated loot to Corsair Crag.

The strange case of the missing memories

We (or at least Oswald and Barky) drag our jolly-boat to the lake-shore opposite our keel-boat. Which Oswald has christened “the Stolen.” And at that point it is discovered that the terror of the owlbears has driven our plan out of our heads. Five riders, five different notions of what we came back here for.

Belmont looks about blankly – weren’t there a couple of pack ponies here? He determines not to part with his newly-acquired warhorse, and begins tending the five mounts tethered here. Edgar, having suggested that we all sit down and discuss this calmly, demands we get on the fucking boat. Eventually we calm everyone down, recollect what brought us here, and (mostly) agree that indeed, we are here to get on the fucking boat. Belmont votes a minority report: he’ll ride back and keep the other four mounts on a trace lead.

An unwelcome cabin-boy

The four who have decided to sail row across, and Barky vaults athletically onto the deck, midships. At first, he doesn’t notice the cabin door slowly opening…

As more of us clamber aboard, the cabin door opens fully and a loathsome greenish rubbery humanoid monster, perhaps 9′ tall, unfolds itself out.

Initiatives: Barky, Edgar, Belmont/Oswald, Thomas, Troll

Barky rages, leaps in and takes a savage swipe [11dmg] as he does so, but scores a gouge into the troll’s hide. Edgar scrambles behind the muscle and dives to where the spare oil is stored. “I’m going for the oil!” he hollers to let everyone know he’s not just hiding. Oswald courageously charges [knowing that Barky has taken the AoO] and chops deep in with his halberd. Thomas focuses and calls Doom on the Troll. The troll rams a clawed fist deep into Barky’s gut [crit, 19dmg].

Belmont is fully aware of the fight, can see the troll, and seizes his shortbow out of its boot.

Barky coughs blood and his next blow is just as telling. Edgar scrambles back out clutching oil skins, casting True Strike and updating Thomas on his plan. Thomas steps close to Barky, casting a healing spell defensively [he has the combat casting feat] on Barky. The troll avoids Oswald’s next strike and claws and bites at all three targets as its wounds begin closing. Thomas’ heavy armour protects him. Oswald, who stripped down to reinforced jack, is not so lucky, and Barky takes another wound.

Barky’s weakening, blood-spraying arm misses. Edgar’s throw oils up the troll as planned, and he moves closer behind Oswald. Belmont’s arrow sails past Oswald and sinks into Brutus ‘the barber’ Beeftroll. Oswald manages a good chop. Thomas heals Barky some more. Brutus Beeftroll looks wobbly but sinks a clawed fist into Oswald [crit, 19dmg] and pulls away – the return strike [AoO] from Barky sends him prone to the deck!

“Here’s some more oil! Pour it on!” Edgar cries urgently.

Barky follows up with the oil and doses Brutus. Edgar sends a wash of flame across Brutus’ gleaming body with Burning Hands [11dmg] and soon some judicious chopping finishes the job. Thomas heals Oswald and himself.

“How are you going over there?” Belmont hollers.

“We’re fine, thanks, no need to worry!” Edgar calls back, slopping through the running blood.

With a few more healing spells the crew is fit enough to sail, and the good boat Stolen heads west, Belmont riding parallel on the shore. Edgar and he holler back and forth as Edgar attempts to explain where the pack-mules are and what the point of all this boating is.

 

Intruder! Oh… never mind then

Night, and Belmont can’t keep riding. Time for a real sleep! After a short debate (again, across the water) it seems that Belmont is trusting to his horses to alert him as he sleeps, and Barky and Oswald will stand a full watch each on the boat.

During the first watch Barky sees a great humanoid shape hulking out of the woods. Its heavy footfall also wakes Belmont, but he can do little as it brains a horse with one blow, slings it over its shoulder, and slouches away. Barky has bent his bow, but decides not to antagonise it when Oswald points out that it’s leaving.

There’s a pause, and a hail from the shore.

“I’m coming over to the boat” Belmont calls.

“What?”

“I’m coming over to the bloody boat then!”

Belmont bids a sad farewell to “his” warhorse, unsaddles and unropes all the horses, and he and his pack are rowed across. Depending on how well they were treated in the fort, the horses might find their way back there – but their future is now up to them.

 

Parting ways

Barky helps Oswald tie off at the dock and we begin the next stage, packing our personal packs with two weeks rations, and any gear we think we will need for the march up Adlerweg Pass. Edgar staggers under the weight of he and Vert’s rations – Vert, who will travel with Edgar, is eating as much as he is. [Everyone is medium load] He’s also made sure he has plenty of crossbow bolts.

Finally we bid farewell to the templars – with some guidance on their report from Thomas, and some needless advice on jettisoning gear if need be, leaving markers for us, and making deals with kobolds from Edgar – pay and farewell Hodd and Siward, and wish Niamh all the best for her future. Edgar makes a note of her next of kin’s address so as to follow up, all going well.

 

 

Part two: To the stronghold

Threads in play:

  1. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass
  2. Defeat the force that the Gauntlet is raising at Adlerweg Tower

Fine and clear, with a chance of goblins

The weather remains fine during the entire march along the Gann and up the pass. As the road ascends the riverbed becomes a deep riverbed, then a gully, then a deep ravine.

The first stage up is marred only by a brisk foray against goblins, up a steep slope to prevent them swamping us. Vert stays on the sidelines for that one. We take no prisoners, either because we assume they would lie about everything or because the moral quandary of what to do with live goblins is too time-consuming. Edgar, rushing bravely up into the second line, is counter-charged by a goblin and discovers that Sentinel’s power Shields him at all times. Nice! He destroys the goblin with Burning Hands.

[Interesting in that steep-slope penalties are involved. We judge a rush up the slope as best we can, the GM is ok with it.]

The goblins appear to have recently fled somewhere – they have no gear for living rough – but since they could be out of Fort Champion or points north of us, we draw no particular conclusion.

After Belmont has laughingly healed himself of collateral wizard damage (Thomas is now the only member Edgar hasn’t blue-on-blued) we resume the march.

 

Who the Gauntlet is pwning this week

On the third day of the pass ascent, we are climbing into cloud. Vert scents a trail. It leads us to a badly-injured gnoll laid up down a narrow cave. After negotiation he accepts terms and Belmont squeezes down to lay on hands.

[We have a useful discussion about whether Cuthbert would prevent Thomas healing an ‘evil’ humanoid. The GM indicates that direct evidence of evil would be required for that.]

Rufus, as Edgar names him, was the leader of a large pack of gnolls. He was unseated by the Gauntlet, being worn by an ogre. That ogre led the pack to the stronghold. A number of wargs also joined him there. Goblins on the other hand fled south from him. (No need to worry about them, Belmont remarks.)

Rufus is granted the right to leave with weapons and gear intact.

 

Decision time: which of these three?

It’s now time to learn what Sentinel can tell us of ways into the stronghold. There seem to be four possible choices, though the fourth, a climb down and across from higher ground, is so far out of our reach we scratch it off immediately.

  1. To the wall and over to the lower section of battlements;
  2. Up a side path and in through a sally port, to the second level of battlements;
  3. Up a side path, to the wall, and over to the second level of battlements.

Of course a further option is “leave Sentinel to manage Edgar and report back to Commandery” but as everyone is good-aligned this does not enter our thoughts at all. At all, at all.

 

The strategy is agreed

We scout the stronghold next day at around the second hour after noon, when the westering sun will play on the battlements. Edging along a hairpin bend to where the cliff face is on our left, the stronghold juts from it ahead of us, and the ravine on our right: Barky reports back from his advanced position, and we discuss plans based on his view and what Sentinel has explained about it.

The best option: we rely on Barky’s excellence at climbing to get up to the lower battlement, and use his levitation potion to get heavily-armoured Thomas right onto the battlement at the same time. Barky will tow him with the knotted rope then use that to let the rest climb up quickly. Thomas can use Calm Emotions to keep guards calm. We agree that an attack in the first long shadows of the evening will suit us best.

Edgar asks Barky to rig a rope harness around Vert’s chest and forelegs so he can be pulled up. We shuck packs, Edgar carries Oswald’s crossbow for him, and we are ready!

 

 

Order of battle (Look! A Plan!):

Barky, towing Thomas, runs at full speed, climbs while Thomas rises, mounts the battlement, ties off the rope while Thomas’ Calm Emotions prevents guards getting upset about it;

Belmont counts three slowly then runs after Barky. Given his slower speed the rope will be tied off by that time, he will climb it, and assist either end as required;

Edgar counts three slowly then runs after Belmont, with Vert running with him. He ties Vert onto the bottom of the rope;

Oswald counts three slowly and runs after Edgar. By the time he arrives Edgar is finishing the knot. Oswald climbs the rope, and he and Belmont become available to either pull Edgar and Vert up or assist Barky and Thomas.

Vert is pulled up and untied, the rope becomes available for Edgar to animate if need be.

Spell notes

  • Thomas will bring two Calm Emotions;
  • Edgar will bring three Sleeps, two Webs and two Glitterdusts;
  • Belmont will be wielding a Blessed Weapon spell.

Barky runs full speed [less the inertia of a fully-armoured Thomas – see likely movement schedule below] along the deep-shadowed path. No alarm is sounded! Arriving at the base of the stronghold after some five rounds at his pace, Barky releases the rope and clambers up like an ape from his sun-drenched homeland [with his ring of climbing and skill he scores 36 on climb!]. Thomas floats up and lands gently near two gnolls peacefully swilling grog and snacking on rations as Barky hand-overs himself out below the parapet and catches the rope Thomas is dangling. Then scrambles up and vaults over as Thomas’ Calm Emotions chant resounds!

The gnolls look at one another and finish their drink, then rise and head inside through an open door. And as Barky ties off the rope to a merlon, drops the loose end, and Belmont begins pulling himself up, the session ends.

Likely movement schedule:

Round 1: Barky runs, inertia limits him to 80′. Belmont counts to 3, starts running 30′. Edgar counts to 3.

Round 2: Barky runs 120’=200′, Belmont runs 90’=120′. Edgar runs full round 90′. Oswald counts 3, starts running 30′.

Round 3: Barky runs 120’=320′, Belmont runs 90’=210′, Edgar runs 90’=180′, Oswald runs 90’=120′.

Round 4: Barky runs 120’=440′, Belmont runs 90’=300′, Edgar runs 90’=270′, Oswald runs 90’=210′.

Round 5: Barky runs the last 100’=540′, Belmont runs 90’=390′, Edgar runs 90’=360′, Oswald runs 90’=300′.

Round 6: Thomas ascends. Barky climbs 20′. Belmont runs 90’=480′. Edgar runs 90’=450′. Oswald runs 90’=390′.

Round 7: Thomas arrives, begins chant, plays rope over for Barky. Barky finishes climb to parapet. Belmont runs 60′ to end of rope, steadies rope. Edgar runs 90’=540′, reaches wall. Oswald runs 90’=480′.

Round 8: Thomas continues to chant while passively anchoring Barky, who finishes the climb over. Belmont steadies the rope and waits for it to be secured. Edgar twists the rope through Vert’s harness leaving slack for him to step in. Oswald runs 60′, reaches wall, rests his halberd at wall and grabs the rope.

Round 9: Thomas continues to chant, gnolls decide they’ve finished and rise, heading inside. Barky ties off rope (one move action) Belmont begins the climb (second move action). Edgar and Vert are waiting, Oswald steadies the rope.

Round 10: Into the keep! Belmont is climbing, Oswald starts climb, Edgar is stepping in the loop below Vert and grabbing the halberd.

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SB1.14: A promise kept/Pelor’s golden treasure

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

and NPCs:

  • Oswald, fighter
  • Niamh, escaped prisoner cursed with lycanthropy and bearer of Sentinel, the Glove

The five adventurers have purged Fort Champion, at least at ground level and above. But a squad of goblins, driven by hobgoblins whose loyalty to Hextor is indisputable, has taken to a tunnel leading back under the fort precinct. The verdict: let’s attack from the fort, down, and wipe them out! 

Threads in play: 

  1. Finish the Hextorite slavers under Fort Champion 
  2. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard 
  3. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy 
  4. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy 
  5. Bring Dietrich back to face justice, so long as he behaves himself

Part one: A promise kept

Into the under-croft

The risk we bear is no joking matter. Based on the work gangs we just defeated, there could be three hobgoblins and 15 goblins down here. Barky, who now organises us into exploration order, is battered and has one rage left. Thomas has a Calm Emotions left, and a few cantrips, and two Cure Lights on a scroll. Edgar has a Glitterdust left, and a couple of cantrips. He is yet to read the scroll he swept up. Belmont and Oswald are less battered than Barky.

 

Party order: Barky, then Oswald and Thomas, then Edgar, then Belmont. About 5′ space left either side, so that an area spell isn’t so likely to catch everyone. 

 

The stair that Barky slew the chaplain on descends, in a couple of flights, to a passage about 10′ wide, and at least as far as Thomas’ 60′ lamp beam lights. Tapers help light the passage. Most of the way along, on the left, Barky notes and passes a strong door, barred closed. Leaving Belmont to detect evil beyond he moves on to a taper-lit half-left passage which leads to a T-junction. He senses the rough-hewn right arm of the T [24 on intuit direction] heads outside of the precinct: the escape shaft the hobgoblins entered by would be on that side. As the rest of the party catches him, he notes a rough crude-hinged door a short way down the right shaft.

As Thomas follows up and lantern light swells he realises that two goblins are in wait, down the unlit left arm of the T!

Round 0: “Take this tin man” they yell in goblin and two arrows bounce off Thomas’ armour.

Initiatives: Barky, goblins, Belmont, Thomas, Oswald, Edgar 

The T-junction is a good place for an ambush! As Barky races at the two, he disappears through the floor. [poor Refl SV, he falls 20′ to an entangling net and takes 9 dmg]

“I can’t believe that worked! – he must be a complete moron!” – goblin 1

“When boss hob explained it to us and made us dig it for a month I thought ‘fuck this’ll never work!'” – goblin 2

Round 1: Belmont moves up and prepares to attack. Thomas begins sidling around the pit. As Oswald moves up Edgar calls: “Oswald! Rearguard! Rearguard – I think they’ll attack through the door!” – as he attempts to jam the said door with his dagger. But it opens the other way and is wrenched open!

Round 2: Two bow-armed goblins menace Edgar. “Ahh… have you thought about a new hoover?” Edgar bluffs, and is glad of his Protection from Arrows as they are not in the least put off, and shoot him. The door shuts again. “I’m readying the oil!” Edgar yells in goblin.

While Thomas attempts to reason that Barky can’t be hurt by falling into a net, he still does sidle after Belmont who closes, around the pit taking his sword against the goblins. He slays one. Thomas’ follow-up is equally successful. The shaft stops right behind the fallen goblins – now all that remains is the door.

Oswald stands ready for another door-opening but his halberd can’t reach, and an arrow penetrates his armour. Behind him now, Edgar asks Belmont to toss over the oil-bomb he gave him, and adds:

“You two are very strong! You can pull Barky up in the net then untangle him!”

Rounds 3-6: Barky is pulled up and disentangled and Thomas uses a Cure Light off the scroll on him. One remains. Perhaps fearing the oil bomb, the goblins behind the door make no further attempt. Oswald volunteers to kick the door open. The party assembles and readies.

 

Flames of justice

Round 0: With all ready, the door is kicked open and Edgar lobs the oil bomb down a visible passage away from a junction. It spreads burning across the earthen passage floor, illuminating a group of goblins and hobgoblins in wait beyond. Another passage behind the door lets half-right and Belmont throws the last oil-bomb that way. Another group can be seen beyond, in its light.

Initiatives: Oswald, 1st goblins, Barky, Edgar, Thomas, Belmont, 2nd goblins 

Round 1: Oswald moves up into the junction and can see that there’s a further space for door-opening, behind the door. The goblins seem to have been put off by the flaming oil and do not charge: instead they fall back a little. Barky races down the passage, leaps the flame [nat 20] and slaughters a goblin. Edgar grabs his lantern and moves it to where it can help with that group. Thomas moves up and looks at both groups but decides to keep his Calm Emotions in reserve. He moves up to the edge of the flame. Belmont follows Barky, manages only a 5′ hop and takes some burning damage, but finishes his run next to Barky. Who abruptly ceases moving and remains held in place. The goblins in front of he and Belmont stab.

Round 2: Oswald sallies down, leaps, and closes. Goblin arrows from the half-right bounce off Thomas and one nicks him. Edgar snaps off a Daze, stalling the hobgoblin of that group. “There seems no point in me moving up,” he calls. Thomas leaps the now-dwindling flame but misses wildly. Belmont makes no mistake and a goblin dies. He closes, and tries a slap to see if Barky will snap out of whatever it is.

Round 3: Oswald can’t reach through, so he waits, near Edgar, ready for the right-hand group. Edgar tosses a torch into the last of the burning oil down that right-hand passage, and looks carefully about to see if can spot the witcher. A goblin stabs Thomas through his massive armour: he glares, bends down to make sure he has the right culprit, and kills it, stepping forward over the remains. From this vantage he can see the pair of hobgoblins better. One of them clearly has clerical abilities: he casts Death Knell [has combat casting feat] and retreats with his hobgoblin henchman.

Round 4: “The caster’s getting away!” Thomas yells. Oswald checks back that way towards Thomas’ voice. “I think we need to chase that way!” Edgar calls to him, pointing the other way, and he ignores Thomas and follows up to the torch.

Barky chases into the dark, and at the very fringe of the lantern-light swipes at the caster: his blade cuts deep [threat]. Edgar follows past the dying oil-fire, and throws Glitterdust on the pair of hobgoblins. The caster is merely lit (allowing attacks in the dark) but the henchman is blinded. The first group of goblins moves up and Oswald is there, ready for them! Belmont, realising he’s not getting a shot in that fight, follows up to help Oswald.

Round 5: Barky keeps on the caster, cutting him again. He flails back, hammering Barky hard. Thomas slays the caster!

In the other passage Oswald eviscerates a goblin, and is cut lightly himself. Edgar takes what he fondly believes is a perfect shot, unerringly hitting Oswald in the back. [And the most damage he’s ever done with a crossbow]

Round 6: Oswald trips the hobgoblin and kills it. Belmont kills the last goblin on that shaft.

Against the glittering blinded hobgoblin, Barky and Thomas struggle. Edgar tries to help but misses with his second-last bolt.

Round 7: Barky downs the last hobgoblin. They wearily trudge back, watching out for the mystery marksman. Oswald explains to Edgar why you don’t shoot into melee, as the bolt is pulled out.

Round 8: Thomas burns his Calm Emotions to heal Barky again.

 

Hextor’s last hurrah

The team reassembles and explores where, beyond the fallen bodies of the right-branch enemy, the passages multiply. There’s a lit room up ahead and as they consider it, Thomas realizes another side-shaft has a goblin in it: it lets fly with its short-bow but the arrow splits on the stave.

Even before Thomas has a chance to decide if he should be the trap-finder this time, Edgar cries:

“Surrender! And you’ll be given justice!”

[notice checks for Thomas and Barky]

Thomas sees two gangs of goblins approaching from branching passages, one from the lit room end.

“Let’s retreat forward!” Edgar suggests, pointing towards the lit chamber.

“That’s just retreating,” Thomas objects.

Initiatives: Goblins, Edgar, Oswald, Barky/Belmont, Thomas

Round 1: Thomas is hit by an arrow

“Barky – we are headed towards the room?” – Edgar

Barky side-steps an arrow and agrees. Edgar races forward to where Oswald and Belmont are about to be prevented from entering the chamber. He swings his elite quarterstaff lustily and misses – but the goblins are caught by Belmont and Oswald and die, leaving the chamber open. There’s no immediate foe visible there.

At the other end of the party Barky, who is still feeling battered, takes on the lone archer-goblin by drawing his bow and stepping to cover, while Thomas takes his heavier armour to the group of goblins.

Round 2: Advancing swashbuckling his quarterstaff into the chamber Edgar begins searching for treasure/foes. Oswald and Belmont turn to help Thomas: Belmont rushes forward to make sure Thomas isn’t isolated.

Round 3: Thomas avoids being tripped by a hulking hobgoblin using a halberd. He forces the halberd to be dropped. The hobgoblin draws a standard-issue mace. His minion goblins are being slain around him as Oswald presses in behind Belmont: Thomas edges around into the space.

Round 4: Stepping clear of the easy flanking attempt the hobgoblin fails to get past Thomas’ armour. As Barky, in cover now, continues to miss the goblin, the hobgoblin is slain.

Round 5: Thomas impatiently charges back and around against the goblin but Barky manages to get a killing shot in at last! The tunnels are clear!

[1100xp for Fort Champion, we are just over halfway through level 4 on our way to level 5.]

 

Lawful looting

The chamber is worth looting. The dead, too, are plundered. Thomas checks everyone’s hurts and duly pronounces:

“Pah! Call that wounded? Harden up!”

He uses the last three orisons on himself. [Now he’s on double digit hp]

 

We finish looting the undercroft: as well as coin a number of shiny or possibly magical items are plundered. Thomas finds a clerical scroll.

 

We return to the barred door, for Belmont to detect evil. He detects nothing.

 

Revelation

Dragging the pile of loot (including coffers of coin) to the ground level, we continue plundering, finding more coin and gems, another clerical scroll,(1) two spell-books, and possibly useful/magical gear, and as it’s all piled up ready for the Detect Magic that is Edgar’s last spell, we’re greeted by a handsome blond man clad in the garb of Pelor.

“We hate Hextor!” Edgar shouts, levelling his crossbow.

“Peace. I am Pelagius, of Pelor.”

“Are you a ghost?”

“I continue to do the will of Pelor.”

“Ah. Come forward, brave servant of Pelor.”

Belmont is confused – has this chap been hiding for many years inside the fortress? – but Edgar breaks it down:

“Pelor-ghost. He not here.”

“I’ve been expecting you for some time.”

“We got here as fast as we could. Apart from looting downstairs.”

“I noticed. Perhaps…”

“There’s an old saying: a ruin pays for itself,” Edgar returns.

“I have somewhere heard that, but this is not yet a ruin. In time Pelor may reoccupy it”

“And that will happen.”

“Good, you are worthy,” Pelagius decides, and leads us back down to the barred door again. He walks right through it. Edgar (with a mite of assistance from Oswald) wrestles the bar off and follows. Inside, four men of the Hieroneus order are shackled to the wall. These are Sgt Alewyn, Edric, Torlton, and Hathwyl.

A key among the mix of loot upstairs proves to be the shackle key and the four are freed. They’ve been expecting us, thanks to Pelagius. They prove willing allies, if subdued, and are willing to assist get loot, hirelings and Dietrich (and later, Niamh) to the coast and the Corsair Crag.

Our pledge is fulfilled: we have purged this, at least, of Hextor’s foul presence, and Niamh is cured.

Threads closed:

  1. Finish the Hextorite slavers under Fort Champion 
  2. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy 

(1) With 5 more Cure Light on it, as well as Remove Curse and Delay Poison

Part two: Pelor’s golden treasure

Where lies the golden treasure of yore

Edgar asks Pelagius eventually about the Adlerweg Pass, the Pelor stronghold there, the golden treasure, and lycanthropy and the Sentinel.

Indirectly Pelagius answers by offering some other information. He leads Edgar to a lever. It proves to control a great weir-gate. Operating the lever, Edgar sets the entire lake to drain away into the Dry river – or Sculpted river, to reveal its original name. Pelagius explains that the ‘golden treasure’ is in fact the great grain fields that once lay across what is now the great northern swamp. As they drain the grain will return!

As for the matter of Niamh, come the dawn Oswald and Barky hasten to bring our expedition’s tail up, and Pelagius simply cures Niamh on the spot. Finally Pelagius reveals the location of a treasure chest under the altar and grants a permanent attribute gain to everyone. He fades off into eternity, his duty now complete.

 

Where to? and with who?

After some discussion we elect on the send-to-the-coast scheme noted earlier, but with the added treasure-favouring option of going back east, collecting the keel-boat, and bringing all the heavy loot back here. There are quite a number of mounts in Fort Champion’s stables so this seems practicable.

At this juncture it seems likely we’ll send our faithful hirelings Hodd and Siward away with the Templars, along with Bess and Jenny. The journey up the pass may be best attempted lightly-burdened and without the worry of a base-camp party. And we also have the chance to divest ourselves of the prisoner, Dietrich.

Altered thread:

  1. Send Dietrich back with the Templars to face justice

Our plan, thanks to discussion with Sentinel, includes taking the fort and combating the Gauntlet, which is “moving again”.

“The keep must be held. I seek a person of pure intent to wield my power” Sentinel explains.

With that, it offers its power to Edgar (it was built for a wizard). Niamh removes the glove and Edgar takes up the Sentinel’s duty.

Altered thread:

  1. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass

New thread:

  1. Defeat the force that the Gauntlet is raising at Adlerweg Tower

 

A ride to owlbear territory

Our first course is clear, regardless of doubts about the journey up the pass: to get Oswald to the boat.

Party order: Belmont, who rides a warhorse and wields a heavy lance, is landward and rear, with Barky well ahead. Oswald is shoreline and rear, with Thomas well ahead. Edgar rides between the two files, with plenty of room to either side, and towards the rear.

Moving at pace under clear blue skies, Barky has no real chance [rolls 8 notice] of picking out warning signs. As his mount shies, he manages to stay in the saddle: an owlbear screeches and rushes out from a thicket!

Initiatives:  Barky, Belmont/owlbear/Thomas, Edgar, Oswald 

Barky slides clear [succeeds on jump] and Belmont’s lance cuts a slight gash on the owlbear. It snaps and claws back, but Belmont’s armour protects him. We others dismount as well. Thomas casts Protection from Chaos. Edgar blinds the crazed owlbear with Glitterdust. Oswald readies his halberd and lets his mount run clear.

Barky runs around the blinded owlbear and slashes a deep cut from behind. Belmont drops his lance and strikes deep [crits] with his sword. It shrieks with agony! Despite that it still gouges chunks out of Belmont’s armour, and grabs him, wrenching off his saddle! Then a second, even larger owlbear, emerges and charges Thomas! It gouges deep despite his Protection. Oswald closes to support Thomas – or rather, Thomas retreats fighting defensively back to Oswald! Edgar unslings his rope, casting True Strike. As Thomas’ retreat has exposed Edgar somewhat he also sidles back and around left, near Belmont’s warhorse.

Barky’s next attack has the benefit of rage. He axes the sword over and down deep into the hindquarters of the blinded owlbear. Belmont drops his sword, grabs out his dagger and rams it home – and the owlbear falls dead! [The owlbear was down to 1hp!]

Doubly enraged the bull owlbear rushes at Thomas and Oswald, but [since the GM has forgotten that it only got the one attack on its charge last] its snapping beak misses. Thomas does the best he can with his mace and shield, fighting defensively, and connects.

“Entangle” Edgar commands throwing the rope’s end at the owlbear. Its wing flicks the Animated rope off. Edgar takes the rope’s other end to the warhorse’s saddle.

Barky rushes to the attack! Belmont rises back to his feet and catches up the horse’s reins. “I’m trying to tie off this, so you can drag the owlbear,” Edgar hastily explains. Belmont looks blank. The owlbear snaps kicks and claws, and Barky is wounded. Thomas and Barky keep defending, and inflict more damage. “Loop and knot!” Edgar calls and this time the owlbear is hitched by an ankle while at the other end the war-horse’s pommel is also hitched-to.

Now Belmont gets it! He spurs away and the quadruped power of a mighty war-horse wrenches the owlbear, side-on, away – and as it topples the three around it kill it.

 

“You know Oswald, I remember chaps back at the tent hacking spell components out of an owlbear,” Edgar comments, waving his hatchet hopefully.

“You know which bits are useful?” Oswald asks doubtfully.

“Nope,” Edgar admits, “but I can at least collect feathers for trophies!”

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SB1.13: The assault on Fort Champion

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

NPCs:

  • Oswald, halberdier

The story so far: The characters are mostly intent on seeking vengeance against the The story so far: The characters are mostly intent on seeking vengeance against the Duchy, a Hextor-following enemy of their own Realm. They’ve been sponsored into a punitive expedition, and have made it to one of the key strongpoints south of the Duchy. As a side-quest they’ve picked up a woman named Niamh who needs her lycanthropy cured and happens to be carrying a key artefact, the Glove. They also have a prisoner, a Hextor-following enemy of their own Realm. They’ve been sponsored into a punitive expedition, and have made it to one of the key strongpoints south of the Duchy. As a side-quest they’ve picked up a woman named Niamh who needs her lycanthropy cured and happens to be carrying a key artefact, the Glove. They also have a prisoner.

Threads in play:

  1. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers at Fort Champion
  2. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard
  3. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy
  4. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy
  5. Bring Dietrich back to face justice, so long as he behaves himself

Ready for off

It is mid-morning, and the assault team are peering out from the forest fringe, south towards the present Fort Champion. They have a good view of goblin work gangs, supervised by hobgoblins and with one or two ritter overseers. The gangs are erecting a palisade right across the isthmus formed by the Gann river on the east flank and the lake, near the Dry River outfall, on the west flank.

The main compound of the fort is a sturdy rectangle formed by a variety of buildings, with a frame tower rising above. A tree is visible inside the compound. [Think: a typical drug-lord compound from a 90s movie set, but with a biggish tree inside] The entrance appears to be on the south end.

Large ancillary buildings appear to be stables and cookhouse. A dock large enough for one or two keelboats is built in the Gann-mouth.

We float a few ideas about. There seems no point sending Barky to scout up close. Marking a possible easy path on the west slope of the isthmus, we ease west, through the woods, to check the river. There’s no driftwood and no convenient timber deadfalls to provide flotation.

Times to attack are debated. One possibility is to wait up to 16 hours and attack at dawn. Edgar asks to head back to update the base crew, then asks Oswald to jog with him. Meanwhile we other three toss around a few ideas and fail to decide on when the best time of day is. Barky the optimist suggests the work crews will knock off at dusk, and if so, that would be a great chance.

And that’s what happens. Perhaps summoned by a dinner gong, all 18 or so work crew head away at dusk.

By that time, we’ve been rejoined by Edgar and Oswald and have marked out a tentative route on the west flank, using palisading piles as cover then around the stables to get into the compound. We all agree the priority is to hit the leaders, then slay other evil kind. We half-agree as to when Calm Emotions can be used. In the event, this half-agreement is not as costly as it might have been.

Oswald and Belmont down a Bull’s Strength potion and Thomas boosts Barky with the same, and Endurance. For his part, Edgar throws up Protection from Arrows. And off we run! (Or in game terms, double-move each round, at Thomas’ speed, so Barky only needs one move per round.)

 

The battle for the compound

Our luck is in – even when the horses scent us and begin nickering, Belmont is able to slip in and calm them. Edgar drops two goblins coming out of a jakes, then the two guards up in the tower who are looking the wrong way at the time. With the last weak light from the south-west at our back we hasten round the compound and to the gate, which is still open!

Round 0: Our luck weakens as we cross the threshold! Two worthless goblins, possibly having a peeing competition on the tree, refuse to simply be cut down, and cry the alarm. “We demand to see the captain” Edgar bluffs pointlessly – but in goblin!

Round 1: Belmont slays one of the two goblins. An armoured ritter, and an unarmoured one, emerge from elsewhere, repeating the alarm and running at Oswald and Barky. Barky rages, counter-charges, but the lead ritter blocks him. Edgar shuts the gate with a spell and calls the advancing Oswald back to help muscle the bar into place. Thomas runs swinging at the goblin, scoring a mere glancing blow.

Round 2: “I’ll guard you while you lift the bar,” offers Oswald, to which Edgar ripostes:

“No, let’s divide the labour equally – I’ll guard you while you lift the bar!”

“Will that old married couple in the back please focus” calls Thomas.

The lead ritter and Barky exchange a flurry of blows: the ritter falls. Barky rushes further forward!

Two flail-bearing casters emerge. Two other, less cleric-y casters emerge from another side-building, assess the situation, and one casts a Magic Missile at Thomas. Sleep washes over Barky and Thomas but they shrug it off. Barky is stricken with a Bane. Thomas steps away from the ever-living goblin and Blesses his team.

The gate is now barred securely (preventing any number of reinforcements, since the work crews are in the cookhouse outside). Oswald retrieves his halberd.

Round 3: Belmont runs at a caster but his powerful swing glances off a protective spell. A senior-looking  Hextorite chaplain emerges from the main building. He is unarmoured: but his Cause Fear spell menaces Barky and sends him fleeing.

“They’re acting tactically!” Thomas calls, sounding concerned but by no means panicking. The goblin, with Thomas’ gaze away from him, flees back to support his superiors. Edgar throws up Shield and steps bravely behind Oswald, unclipping his crossbow and attempting to look like a very weak rogue.

Edouar, the fort’s officer in charge, emerges fully armoured, brandishing his axe menacingly!

Round 4: Two casters cast, Belmont shrugs and grins Hieroneously as a Fear spell bounces off. Two other clerics rush Belmont with flails whirring – “By Hextor! Let their skulls hang on our doorframes!”- but the paladin evades their swings. Barky gets his mojo back as the Fear spell expires. Thomas uses his Heat Metal scroll on the big Hextorite, Edouar. It covers the escaping goblin, as well. (And later, we find his corpse inside – the branding-hot studs in his studded leather jerkin were enough to finish him off.)

Round 5: Oswald finally gets up to the fighting and immediately things tilt in our favour. He trips the ritter next to Thomas and the pair kill him.

The chaplain moves forward to support Edouar and casts Bull’s Strength on his leader. Belmont has a pair of casters in front of him, and picks on the unarmoured one, cutting him slightly. Now out of spells, one of the casters uses Jump to evacuate up over the west side of the compound. Barky rushes back, at the casters not Edouar, and downs one. Edgar advances to close up on the front, tries an enchantment on a caster, but unsurprisingly, it fails.

Another caster arrives, sees the invaders are clumped up nicely, and lobs a Fireball onto the group. Barky manages to avoid the worst of it. The last standing cleric does not, and staggers about, then falls.

Thomas casts Doom at Edouar, and it works! Thomas moves to form a shield wall with Belmont, near Barky and Oswald.

Round 6: As the rooftop caster makes good his escape, the chaplain retreats a little, and Edouar is largely left to take the fight to the invaders. Oswald advances to try a trip on Edouar and to his surprise, it works! His follow-up thrust is a crit and with triple damage, Edouar expires!

“We have your leader hostage – we’ll trade him!” Edgar bluffs, more to keep the enemy off balance than with any serious hope of being believed.

Belmont reassesses the field – there’s only two threats, the mage and the chaplain, both more or less below the tower. He and Barky charge and the chaplain, at least, is in trouble!

Edgar can glimpse the mage beyond Belmont, and tries a crossbow shot, but misses hopelessly. “It would have ended him,” he claims. Taking a big risk, the mage attempts to slip past Belmont so as to enfilade both paladin and southron – and is virtually bisected. A scroll rolls out of his hand. “Huh, I see a scroll up here” Belmont calls, feeling that Edgar’s time would be better spent moving up, rather than backshooting. Thomas heals himself and moves up.

Round 7: Oswald closes on the chaplain, who has the entrance steps to the main building at his back; and Belmont swings lustily on the man – but a Sanctuary spell makes the threat fail. The chaplain retreats as fast as he can, into the main building and down.

Edgar runs to the scroll, and sweeps it up. Thomas hustles forward towards the main building, alert for threats.

Rounds 8-10: Oswald and Thomas check the immediate quadrangle. Barky and Belmont chase after the chaplain, who lasts as long as his Sanctuary, then dies. Edgar clambers up the tower, and murders the sleeping tower guards.

 

The threat outside

“I can see two groups heading south-east and north-west – we should get moving!” Edgar calls from his perch. Thoughts of whether we should loot, send out for the others, or explore, are shelved. Edgar clambers back down:

“Thomas, we need to move against one group or another and use Calm Emotions!” he advises.

Thomas notices Edgar’s battered status, and uses a scroll-written Cure Light to heal him.

“Can we stop the ones at the stables?” Edgar continues.

“I can always ride down any that do make it to horseback” Belmont reminds us, but Thomas agrees the stables are best, and off we run!

 

The battle at the corral

As we run out west and north to the stables, the enemy see us and in three groups, advance! Each group is roughly a five-goblin work gang and a hobgoblin: the goblins armed with short sword and the hobgoblins with flail or halberd. They are well separated, meaning that it will be near-impossible to Calm them at one attempt. Thomas calls for us to group them, but before he can elaborate, Belmont counter-charges the right-most group. A chagrined Thomas curses and vows never to bother calling tactics again.

Although the fighting is intense, only the hobgoblins present any real menace. Edgar traps one in a Web but his Sleep attempts are but moderately rewarded. Thomas has very little left, and concentrates on fighting. He forms ‘an immobile wassname’ for a time, fully defensive, to anchor the line, and loses a Calm Emotions spell to a counter-cut as he tries to combat-cast. Barky wisely withholds his last Rage of the day for later. Oswald unwisely drops his halberd and wields the sabre-of-never-quite-hitting, but he does manage to break his duck with it. Belmont fights on, keeping it simple, pressuring the two unwebbed hobgoblins. At the cost of some minor wounds, we triumph. The webbed victims and any sleeping survivors are dispatched.

 

Down, not away

“They’re not at the dock – my unerring tracking ability tells me they ran this way,” Barky claims excitedly, [nat 20 on wilderness lore] waving a lit torch across an obvious trail. We follow it around the south tip and up west – to a shaft!

“Damn – they’re under the complex!”

This changes plans. “I vote start from the inside top and head down,” Edgar votes and Oswald seconds the motion. Gathering what gear we may find useful, we relocate to the compound. A very few minutes are taken, first, kicking walls and checking under stairs for hidden exits out of the compound. Reasonably sure that we aren’t going to be surprised by enemy coming back in, we ready ourselves to plunge down the steps, and the session ends.

 

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SB1.12: Mother wants her lair back/A kindly visit before battle

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

NPCs:

  • Oswald, halberdier
  • Vert, cooshee
  • Hodd the muleteer and
  • Siward the guard;
  • Jenny the mule and
  • Bess the mule;
  • Niamh and Glove AKA Sentinel
  • Dietrich the evil

Part one: Mother wants her lair back

Threads in play: 

  1. Having overcome Lavinia’s stockade but found her absent, seek to kill her and any of her brood.
  2. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers at Fort Champion
  3. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard
  4. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy
  5. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor ‘north of the sculpted river’ to cure her lycanthropy

Lootin’ and waitin’

After the initial full search – which takes perhaps an hour – Thomas gathers us and directs our energies against the Owlbear. Edgar wonders if perchance we can use the Owlbear. But has no idea how. So with arrows and bolts the Owlbear is laid low.

Which suddenly shifts the GM from not worrying about bolt expenditure to tracking it in detail. At the end of that, we have 10 between us.

Now, to the ambushing? Barky wonders, not for the first time, should we not simply set on our way once again? But no! For as surely as spellcasters love their spellbooks, Lavinia or ‘mother’ to her minions will be hot on our trail seeking vengeance.

We pace the grounds and try sightlines from atop the mound. Eventually Thomas elects that all four hefty types will wait behind the gate, and therefore Edgar sits near the mound entrance, watching them. The lake, which shelters the rear of the stockade to some extent, must needs be rearguard too. The rest of the expedition, since brought inside, waits in a length of tunnel near the residence-chamber, but not so near it that a sneaker tracking into the mound will bump into them.

 

A diversion

It is a sufficiently long watch that all of Barky’s enhanced strength and endurance has gone. [Barky makes a good wilderness check, Edgar a mediocre one] But at last, the attack begins! Under the fitful gleams of a westering sun, and distant soughing of trees, running feet are heard clockwise of the gate. [Notice checks are all pretty good, 15 upward to 24]

Thomas extracts a Heat Metal scroll from its tube.

“Do we run over there?” Oswald mutters.

“Yep” Barky responds, gesturing vaguely.

“Whaddya mean ‘yep’ – is that a yes or no? Belmont asks, reasonably enough.

“Well someone should – there are four of us here” Barky offers, without being specific.

Four humanoids, half-orcs by the look of them, clamber swiftly over the stockade wall some hundred feet clockwise of the gate, leap down, and run towards the mound.

Initiatives: Oswald, Barky, Belmont/intruders/Thomas, Edgar

As Barky sets off apace, all three others in the ‘gate’ team follow him.

Later Barky is cross, but if the culprit is the GM, who is counting quick spoken interchanges between players as rounds, and moving his attackers each round, that’s notionally unfair but not unfair in practice. Since none of the waiting characters have line of sight, no real decision can be made until the attackers show over the stockade: so the GM’s process washes out as more or less fair. Blame player indecision. We generally expect Thomas to set tactics but have no battle caller. Possibly the GM could have made it clearer, given excellence of Notice checks, which character had the right to say how many approached and from where; and which character had to wait to be told.

His swift pace carrying him ahead of the others, Barky lets rage fuel his thews, powering into a mighty sweep with his sword. His target, a similarly mighty-thewed half-orc, eludes the swing somehow.

[It’s a convincing attack and the likelihood of this being an illusion as well as a diversion is present in Edgar’s mind, and he passes that thought to Thomas]

Oswald lunges his halberd at another but he and the other two half-orcs also evade the attack, dancing away and jeering. Belmont skids to a halt and doubles back towards the gate. [Spot is poor – he can make out the gate] Glancing over his shoulder, for he too suspects this to be a diversion, Thomas continues in his course towards the fight. Edgar scoops up three prepped oil-bombs and runs towards where he believes Belmont will end up.

Oswald’s next trip attempt is also evaded. Barky [who does not make good Will SV] continues his berserk attack! Thomas, [Will 22] having warned the other two with a bellow: that it is indeed an illusion: begins returning to the gate, casting a suspicious eye around the compound.

Belmont stops within charge range of the gate and concentrates, bringing up Detect Evil. Edgar joins him, and begins lighting a candle.

Oswald grunts with frustration and as Thomas calls ‘they may be illusions’ [makes good Will SV] laughs sourly at being gulled, and begins returning. Thomas’ bellow has cut through Barky’s focus and he doubles back, speeding away from Oswald and past the heavy-armoured cleric. Belmont cannot sense any evil, and accepts an oil bomb from Edgar, who lights it from his candle.

Three or four new intruders leap down from the stockade, counter-clockwise from Belmont, and two of them are sturdy, and well-armed. Belmont waits ready to throw as they come in range. The others join him. Edgar lifts his light crossbow and looses: a bolt bounces with slight harm off the largest target, an axeman. [So far Edgar has yet to do more than 1 damage with any one shot]

Oswald moves between Edgar and the newcomers. Suddenly, acid splashes near Thomas. He notices its trajectory [good spot check] and points up the mound:

“She’s up there!”

Barky has already charged at the newcomers and the raging thews of the southron power his mighty greatsword through the axeman’s armour and deep into his flank! Belmont hurls his oilbomb, and its fire catches on one of the two lighter-armed figures.

“I got one!” Belmont shouts gleefully with a note of surprise in his voice. He draws his sword and advances. But not quick enough to protect Barky, who is flanked by the two powerful warriors. The second, armed with a bastard sword, penetrates his defences and cuts deep. Two lighter types, including Dietrich (who is the non-burning one) move past that melee and towards Thomas and Oswald.

Thomas is still 75′ back from them, so keeps pace with Oswald and casts Bless. Edgar fires a bolt at Lavinia, narrowly missing, and also catches up to Thomas.

Lavinia moves downhill, perhaps in order to throw a support spell, and is surprised – then alarmed – to see Barky suddenly rocketing up at her! The southron, taking another heavy cut from the bastard sword as he does so, breaks off his melee [Mobility boosts his defence] and runs full at her, ramming his greatsword right through her chest!

Belmont finds himself in melee with the rogues, but his armour is enough to deflect their daggers. The axeman shouts with grief and anger and runs at Barky. Oswald and Thomas close on the Belmont melee. Edgar drops Dietrich with a Sleep spell, and adjusts his position to keep his team between he and sharp pointy things.

Barky yanks his sword clear and with the last of his rage counter-charges the axeman, and again his blade drinks deep. The axeman staggers, trying to keep his guts in, then collapses.

At the melee, Belmont ignores the rogue and fends off the bastard sword. Thomas casts Doom on the swordsman. Edgar weakens the rogue with Ray of enfeeblement: Oswald trips the weakened man and he and Belmont slaughter him as he tries to roll clear. Barky walks tiredly down to the melee. Belmont uses Smite Evil to deal a deep cut to the swordsman – his first wound. Seeing the man who killed Mother arriving the swordsman lunges and again cuts deep into Barky! Thomas gets to a better position and slams the swordsman with his mace [which is now rated at +2]. And finally, Oswald trips him and the swordsman is slaughtered.

Meanwhile Edgar has retrieved his quarterstaff and whistled for Vert. He walks up to loot Lavinia. While he recovers four useful or valuable items from the corpse, Thomas heals most of Barky’s hurts and Belmont takes care of himself.

General looting takes place after Dietrich is tied up securely. Thomas has made it clear he won’t tolerate simply killing the rogue. Later a Detect Magic finds that the general loot contains an enchanted dagger and leather armour set.

 

[Dietrich is offered a choice of a quick execution, or coming back to face Commandery justice.

Thread closed: Lavinia’s stockade.

New thread: Bring Dietrich back to face justice, so long as he behaves himself.]

 

But that is the next day. The remainder of the day is taken up with thoughtfully disposing of the bodies in the lake, and a good meal of barbecued puma where victory is celebrated!

 

Part two: A kindly visit before battle

Through the woods on the trail west

The expedition sets off early and makes fair time under clear skies. There’s a hint of spring in the air, and the woodland trail – which is a genuine trail now – affords the chance of cover from any spying aerials. As best we can, we keep under that cover.

Dietrich is tethered to the rear mule, Siward rear of him. Siward’s armour is better than even enchanted leather, so Hodd wears the leather. Oswald has the enchanted dagger as a reserve weapon.

Towards dusk we come upon a good campsite, backed onto a rock face.

 

Kingsley

Night camp passes uneventfully. Until the dragon shows up.

“Oh…. hello there!”

Barky, who is on watch, controls his first emotions [Will SV] as a large creature, atop the cliff, stares down.

“Oooh – adventure time!” Barky yells.

The dragon scrapes its wings through the descent and seats itself at the fire.

“Greeting to you, O dragon. To who do we have the honour of speaking?” Edgar asks, introducing his circle.

“I am Kingsley, often known as the Kindly.”

“There must be a story to go with that, O Kinglsey.”

“Indeed there is. I’ve been stepping about, seeing what passes here after an absence of some time… what is it you are doing about here? …Fancy a drink?”

And with that the copper-scaled dragon produces a cask from somewhere and broaches it. Edgar thanks him and dips his mug in. A robust vintage. Belmont, who has been Detecting Evil this while, also sups, and then so do the others.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on things, perhaps have nodded off a bit, and they have changed. So, what’s your business?”

Edgar attempts to determine what span of time Kingsley refers to, and Kingsley cracks some lousy riddle-jokes. Which explain nothing, except that Kingsley prefers low-brow jokes. Eventually and with respect Edgar explains our purposes.

Kingsley is helpful, particularly in clarifying that the Hextorite Fort Champion is built over the old Pelorite temple that is Niamh’s best chance of a cure. He gives a general estimate of man-numbers and a vague explanation that hobgoblins live in a level below. He also reassures Thomas that the temple has been long out of occupation by Pelorites.

Altered thread: Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy

Since Kingsley has hinted that an older evil now wakes, Edgar retells a brief version of Bertran’s tale of the Glove and Gauntlet. And yes, that is what Kingsley means. And he knows what travels on Niamh’s hand. As a kind of reward for this, Kingsley enchants Barky with Levitate so as to get a birdseye view of the Gann-mouth, and tells an actual joke. (Still low-brow though.)

Then turns invisible and departs.

 

Barky’s view has given a much better idea of how bridge, Gann and Fort fit together. The bridge is perhaps a quarter-mile north of the fort, which lies on a foreland or low bluff at the western side of the Gann-mouth. Having exchanged some ideas on this, and ruled out going back for the keelboat, and also ruled out using Charm Person to get Dietrich to help us, we finish our sleep.

 

Dawn of the assault: across the Gann

The following day is just as good. Kingsley estimated 5 miles to the enemy: we use the trail to near forest edge, tether off Bess and Jenny and Dietrich (the latter, gagged) and leave Hodd Siward Vert and Niamh there, and move to the forest edge. Thomas reminds us of the Calm Emotions tactic.

Barky slides forward to the bridge, finding it unattended. It’s a modest-scale trestle, the uprights and guard rails allowing some cover.

We cross, cloaked to muffle glinting gear, and one at a time so as not to draw idle eyes.

The trail on the west side is heavily rutted by supply wagons. The woods here have been picked over for fuel. Stealing south, we come in view of working parties, working at the beginnings of a proper palisade around Fort Champion. The workers are mainly goblin, with inevitable hobgoblin taskmasters, and some humans. Two work-shacks stand on site, which in turn must be a good hundred yards away from the fort. And as we prepare for assault, the session ends.

 

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SB1.11: A strategy to conquer

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

NPCs:

  • Oswald, halberdier
  • Vert, cooshee
  • Hodd the muleteer and
  • Siward the guard;
  • Jenny the mule and
  • Bess the mule;
  • Niamh and Glove AKA Sentinel

Part one: The planning

Threads in play: 

  1. Gain any local knowledge of the area from the stockade, then sail a boat north across the lake
  2. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers: finish tracing the route to where they pass into the Duchy over the Dragon Mountains
  3. Locate the ancient fort that wards the pass (possibly the same pass), with or without its gold hoard
  4. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy
  5. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor ‘north of the sculpted river’ to cure her lycanthropy

Loot shares

The stockade being secure, we spend a happy day looting (especially clean dry underclothing in the first instance), drying/oiling gear, putting on clean clothing, and doing a rough sorting-out of loot.

One of the more important finds is that there is a navigable keelboat out at the wharf; another more important finds is scribe-copies of outgoing correspondence, and a map. Blessing the lawful-evil need to compile duplicates, we now have local knowledge.

The beneficiaries of the early sorting-out:

  • Barky gains a masterwork longbow with unusually strong construction (mighty at least as far as his +2 STR);
  • Belmont gains an enchanted longsword (later we learn it’s +1);
  • Edgar gains a pearl that is in all likelihood a pearl of recall (Barky volunteers to rule out underwater breathing in an amusing experiment – he soon recovers from the drowning damage);
  • Oswald gains a masterwork set of studded leather armour;
  • Thomas gains two scrolls in cases, one with 3xCure Light the other with Heat Metal.

This creates some knock-on surplus gear but no-one ‘needs’ any of it so it’s put back into general loot along with many other items and coin, and three gems.

Four potions are also found and the labels being read, shared out among the party. Then it’s time to consider the map:

Thoughts of what we are willing to do

The map, and letters referring to forts and their commanders, bring the not-very-surprising revelation that each of us has their own idea of what our mission actually is. Once that’s cleared up a little, Sentinel (after hypnosis removes Niamh’s awareness) is asked if he recognises any of the possible rivers as ‘sculpted’. The Gann is the more likely of the choices, and (in Edgar’s mind at least) the most likely location for the Temple of Pelor is the ‘ruin’ marked just north of Fort Champion on the map. At worst case, the temple is in the same place as the ancient Pelorite fortress, far up Adlerweg Pass, now marked in as Adlerweg Tower.

But first things first! There’s more than one route across, and a lot of that depends on our one non-lubber, Oswald. He pronounces himself able to steer due north, with help from those willing and able to way-haul-away and sheet things home when told.

Given that, what’s to be done about ‘Lavinia’s stockade’? From the letter about it we know she’s not a Hextorite, and just because an evil cleric refers to someone as a witch, that doesn’t make them evil. All we know at this stage is she is part of the beacon warning system the Hextorites have, and has a ‘brood’. The approaches east of her stockade are deplored as undefended. Sailing north means we must pass her from the east.

The other obvious target is Fort Champion, which seals the mouth of the Gann. According to the letters it is commanded by Edwar the Fool, who has left its defences incomplete. Sounds useful! It is certainly something we will need to tackle.

And more obliquely, if we aim to wreak vengeance on every Hextorite stronghold, we should not forget the wretched South Blockhouse, though navigating around to it is probably impractical.

Sensing a certain lack of commitment around the table to actually gaining the pass and purging ‘Adlerweg Tower’ we decide on a simple ‘let’s get over there and see’ – at least for now.

Altered thread:Locate the ancient fort…’ becomes ‘Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard’

Notes about leaving and sailing

  • Edgar writes “free fort” in draconic on a looted length of cloth and it is hoist up the stockade flagstaff.
  • Hefty amounts of fodder and rations are moved to the keelboat.
  • Valuable gear such as full plate suits and masterworks are stowed aboard.
  • Enough arms armour and straw stuffing are taken aboard to be able to rig up a fake crew of hobgoblins, should we need to look like Hextorites.
  • Metal arms and armour we don’t take are pitched into the moat or lake.
  • The drydocked keelboats are stove in, and their carts damaged.
  • The stockade’s jollyboat is tethered to the keelboat and taken along.
  • It is a two-day voyage across the great lake, with two scares from water and air.
  • The entire voyage occurs under the best weather we’ve had so far – clear but overcast.

I think we all get into playing lubbers, which is pretty easy for two of us, and the best line goes to Thomas: “Can we peg that steery thing you’ve been using…”

Westward to the witch’s stockade

We make landfall and use the jollyboat to ferry gear across. Hodd swims Bess and Jenny to safe landing. We anchor the keelboat offshore, and hide the jollyboat as best Barky can advise. Bearing in mind he’s no tracker.

Note: Valuable gear is still stowed aboard the keelboat, too bulky or time-consuming to ferry ashore.

There’s no trail, so we spread out a little. This makes us less of an easy kill from aerials, and boosts the chances of finding something like a trail or a campsite.

Party order: Niamh is in the middle, with Hodd, the mules then Siward as rearguard. Around Niamh the others form a kind of burst formation, around 30′ apart each (though Vert stays with Edgar). Barky uses his faster speed to rove a little, in front. Edgar takes the shore or south flank, Oswald to fore of him; Thomas takes the north flank, Belmont to fore of him. We agree on who we fall back to, in given circumstances.

Thread closed: 

  1. Gain any local knowledge of the area from the stockade, then sail a boat north across the lake

The great debate: avoid, talk or kill?

Barky nearly walks us into the stockade but Belmont spots a beacon tower. We cut off to a nearby stand of timber and tether the mules, then have a round-table debate on what we actually want to do.

It is not only a round-table debate, it gets a little circular:

  1. If the ‘witch’ is actually neutral and not even a witch, we should negotiate
  2. Another option is to avoid her by circling wide, now we know where the stockade is
  3. And a third option is to exterminate her and her brood
  4. But if she’s powerful we should negotiate
  5. But if she’s treacherous the signal will be sent, so we should avoid
  6. But if she’s powerful we can’t afford to leave her behind us
  7. But if she’s powerful we should avoid her

This debate really happens in two stages, one before Barky scouts the stockade, one after. There looks to be about 50 defenders manning the stockade, but they are unnaturally still, so it could be a ruse. Or they might be skeletons, which don’t get bored. There’s one gate, almost certainly barred. The beacon tower stands atop a mound or hillock, which the stockade surrounds. And there’s no ‘lived in’ smells.

Eventually the vote is for assaulting, but if at all possible, conserving our supplies of potions. We have an inkling the defenders are fakes.

New thread: Overcome the witch’s stockade

Part two: The assault

Threads in play:

  1. Overcome the witch’s stockade
  2. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers: finish tracing the route to where they pass into the Duchy over the Dragon Mountains
  3. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard
  4. In both cases 2 and 3, do not cross into the Duchy
  5. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor ‘north of the sculpted river’ to cure her lycanthropy

The breach is swift

We move around to opposite the gate, then rush it. Barky, well ahead and boosted with Bull’s Strength, scrambles over it and unbars it. He calls back that the defenders are indeed faked-up dummies. He rushes towards the beacon tower, which stands atop the hillock. By the time the others pull the gates open and enter he is already up near the beacon, like a huge brazier with firewood piled atop it.

As Barky heaves the brazier off to tumble with a clanging boom onto the hillock, Edgar rushes across to the nearest cover – which is the hillock itself. There are no ancillary stockade buildings – it is in fact, a stockade to defend the hillock.

 

Into the mound

There appears to be but one entrance (though indeed we do not search in detail) and it is an open shaft, 6′ high, 5′ broad, level into the mound. Edgar lights his bullseye lantern and Barky readies himself for trouble (Thomas casts Endurance and Resistance on him) and takes the lead. Belmont is next, to provide security against fear.

Based on the principle of ‘keep going left’ Barky stops at the first junction, a slightly wider area with a door left and right. Edgar enchants himself with Protection from Arrows and opens the door left. It’s another shaft, still level. Belmont’s Detect Evil isn’t helping him.

Not far along there’s a Y-junction where the right shaft leads to a chamber. The left shaft leads but to some shabby and empty lair.

 

Meet the occupants!

The chamber appears to be furnished and Edgar leads the way boldly to the central table, where stands a lantern and utensils. The others also enter and spread out ready for trouble – or so they think! Before he can light the lantern two great cats spring out at Barky and Belmont!

Combat

Round 0: Neither cat manages to penetrate the sturdy armour of their victims. Barky is not taken unwares but his swinging blade slides harmlessly off the cat’s ruff.

Round 1: Edgar snaps off a Flare but it doesn’t distract Barky’s attacker. The cats tear into the two warriors, one gouging deep into Belmont’s fine armour. Barky too is bleeding freely, but he avoids the raking hind claws. Then Thomas chants and the cats fall back!(1) Barky and Belmont team up (unaggressively?) on one and kill it. Then Thomas is stabbed from behind by a man! Oswald reacts swiftly but the newcomer sidesteps the halberd easily [since Oswald rolls a 1].

Round 2: The man has been hiding in an alcove. No others have appeared. Edgar casts True Strike and watches out warily for other alcove-hidden menaces. The remaining cat attacks Barky again though Barky wrenches clear! Thomas steps clear of his assailant, swears lustily, and chants again with Calm Emotions. Barky and Belmont assail the remaining cat, cutting it, then Oswald rushes across and ends its life.

Round 3: Edgar gets Thomas’ signal for ‘talk’ and uses Hypnotism to befriend the now-passive man and ask him some questions…

 

Mother’s not home yet

The chief danger still extant is an Owlbear. Mother is out visiting; she and ‘the others’ aren’t home yet. They are expected back before nightfall. Edgar asks our new friend Dietrich to show us exactly where the Owlbear is. He leads the way, then bolts. Barky darts after him and manages a savage cut, then he’s gone in the darkness.

Returning to the chamber awaiting Barky, we others have a quick search. What we noted before as being most likely the witch’s alcove seems worth looting. But Barky, returning, reports that Dietrich is clear, so we  must needs take some minutes to search the passages.

 

Roundabout to frustration

Belmont takes point – his wounds are healed, unlike Barky’s – and we locate the Owlbear. It is in a side-passage, chained. And large. And there’s no way past it. So we move on searching further passages and discover that they loop round to the first junction we came to. Which has a pit trap. Barky fishes Belmont out of it – little harm done – and we check the remaining door.

It leads to a looping passage, and another pit trap, but we wisely avoid this one and head on further, discovering that the passage leads, via a semi-concealed panel, into the main passage and out of the mound. So sadly guessing that Dietrich has gotten free and can tell Mother all about us, we return to the chamber wherein was the witch’s alcove.

The witch’s alcove has treasure – including plenty of coin – and a spellbook. And has Edgar calculates how many days the non-Illusion spells will take to transcribe, and makes idle suggestions about how the witch, returning, may be caught off-guard, the session ends.

Altered thread: Having overcome the witch’s stockade but found her absent, seek to kill her and any of her brood.

(1) Using the D&D initiative sequence to claim no aggressive actions are being taken against the cats at the moment the spell takes effect is disingenuous. Obviously, they are in melee against people that are trying their best to harm them. The GM reserves the right to reverse this call in future.

Adventures where there’s no perfectly right answer to an obstacle give players agency. Good stuff! Disappointing though that the sword-swingers failed pretty badly against the cats (quite a few 3s being rolled from what I could hear) and Dietrich was left alive. We’re effectively tethered to the stockade by our failure, trying to deal with the witch. Or are we? Perhaps the group vote will be to simply move on. Stay tuned!

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Slaver Bay: Legend of the Glove and Gauntlet

Long ago, before the founding of the Duchy of Hextor, before the humanoid invaded the Western Reaches, there were two rival human kingdoms either side of the Dragon Range.

The Northern Kingdom longed to conquer the Southern Kingdom because of its rich lands blessed by Pelor. To do so the North would need to control the best land route between the two kingdoms: the Adlerweg Pass through the mountains.

But the Southern Kingdom erected a keep on the Adlerweg Pass. Under the protection of the Adlerweg Keep traders could travel between the two kingdoms, but no army could transit the Pass without first controlling the Keep.

With the Keep in place the Southern Kingdom felt secure behind its fortifications: but of course, the Northern Kingdom’s ambitions were not ended by the existence of a fortress. The Northern king turned to the magic crafts. His wizards crafted a mighty artefact for the Northern king – the Gauntlet. Shaped as a military gauntlet of hard black leather reinforced with metal to fit the right hand, the gauntlet’s sole purpose was to overthrow Adlerweg Keep using powerful magic and brute force. With such a weapon, victory for the Northern Kingdom seemed sure!

But once the Southern king heard of the construction of the Gauntlet, he turned to his wizards for a remedy. Rushing against time, the southern mages created a counter – a magical glove called the Sentinel. Constructed in soft kid leather, the Sentinel was created to thwart the Gauntlet by using subtler magic and appealing to the goodness within the hearts of its bearers. So, to face an unstoppable force, an unmovable object was readied.

For two generations the Southern Kingdom countered the aggression of the Northern Kings, skirmish for skirmish, relieving the besieged and even meeting the Northern host in the field with all that they could muster. Led by the Gauntlet, the Northern Kingdom always fought on. The resulting cost for both kingdoms grew dear.

At last, on a bloody battlefield in the high ranges the last Northern army was defeated by the Southern Kingdom. The broken remnants of the Northern army returned home, having lost a king, the king’s heir, the Gauntlet, and the champion who wore it. The Southern Kingdom in gaining this victory had lost the flower of their nobility, and sought a truce.

The Northern Kingdom, bereft of both king and lawful heir, fell into a civil war long and poisonous and the truce became a peace treaty. With the Gauntlet lost or destroyed, the Sentinel became a relic, a curiosity from heroic days. When later the humanoid invasions of the Western Reaches overwhelmed both kingdoms the Sentinel, along with many other trophies and treasures of the Southern Kingdom was lost.

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SB1.10: Against the slaver stockade

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

NPCs:

  • Oswald, halberdier
  • Vert, cooshee
  • Hodd the muleteer and
  • Siward the guard;
  • Jenny the mule and
  • Bess the mule;
  • Clungh Ock and Varg, lizardmen
  • Niamh and Glove

Part one: The lizardmen

Threads in play: 

  1. Parley with the lizardmen, pay reparations and gain permission to cross their swamp
  2. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers: trace a route through the great swamp to where they pass into the Duchy over the Dragon Mountains
  3. Locate the ancient fort that wards the pass (possibly the same pass), with or without its gold hoard
  4. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy

Reparations

By the time Hodd wakes up [under normal recovery % rules] a lizardman is peering at Edgar’s scratchings. Edgar, the draconic speaker, raises an open hand. The lizardman calls:

“No meaning this.”

“We talk. Pay you. We go,” Edgar clarifies: then, to the others:

“Lizardman dialect doesn’t extend to parley. I suppose that means they don’t have an equivalent for entente cordiale, either.”

“They may want to cut their losses as well,” Barky encourages, and Thomas is of like mind.

Three lizardmen arrive before sundown, including a spokes-lizard and a ruler. Edgar humbly negotiates, dancing a fine line along the truth. He throws quite a lot of fault on Mesym without lying about him. In response to lizardman prompting he explains the general mission and Hextorite slavers vs Realm. The lizardmen (to whom the concept of two warring groups of monkey-men is news) offer three options:

  1. Lay out goods, they take what they want, and provide guides to the fortress.
  2. A champion steps forward to fight the lizardman champion with lizardman weapons, no metal and no magic, win: and guides will be provided for free; but lose: be plundered and turn back.
  3. War.

Edgar takes these options back. Barky is really the only warrior capable of handling option two, and seeing a glint in Thomas’ eye when this option is raised, Edgar points out that only Barky can choose it. After clarifying that ‘goods’ won’t include the metal armour and weapons that are so precious to them the vote is for option one.

The lizardmen plunder back their own bandolier of platinum pieces and the gold and pearl from the harpy’s victim. And the two lizardman shields. Striking while the iron is hot Edgar asks Belmont to set a price on his own shield. He offers 50gp for its recovery and with the aid of a dirt-sketch of the site the lizardmen undertake the quest. In the event, and after a day, they report that the site is now too dangerous to recover the shield. They keep the 50gp (as agreed) and give Belmont a lizardman shield instead, a generous gesture that is appreciated by all.

 

Back on the trail

The day’s rest has allowed full healing for everyone and in good spirits, guided by the three lizardmen Clungh Ock and Varg, the expedition makes good progress. Edgar has a yarn to the three and draws out some useful information about the goblin fortress, including where boats are anchored and that it is a tower-reinforced stockade. [Think a larger version of the English stockade in Braveheart, but set in a swamp and with a boat-bay off it.]

 

The strange case of the unkilling werewolf, part one

That this is kobold territory is underlined, when the sight of several kobolds being sent flying alerts the party to danger. The incident is quite near, so the party easily witnesses one unfortunate kobold, who seems to have seized an eel, being cornered by a werewolf! But strangely, the werewolf snaps up the eel, not the humanoid, and leaps away into the reeds. Having shaken its fist and declared what it would have done had the werewolf lingered, the kobold takes itself out of range. The lizardmen know of the creature as ‘the insane werewolf’ since it doesn’t hunt its natural prey.

Edgar follows up this chatty conversation – which digresses into menu options featuring kobold – by picking through the guides’ stock of yarns about lost treasures and the like – focusing on the dry land side of things. The bridge to nowhere and standing stones are useful possibilities.

 

The ever victorious army, part three

The passage of the remaining marshes follows Snarvil’s proposed path – to Edgar and Barky’s mild surprise – and is marred by a night visit from the ever-victorious army of the swamp. This time it’s not a two-way attack, so the mules are safe. Thomas calms most of the kobold squad down with Calm Emotions and Edgar pays the remaining pair off with 2gp. This marks the first occasion on which Calm Emotions is used to enable negotiation.

Thread closed: lizardman swamp crossing

 

Part two: The slavers stockade

Threads in play: 

  1. Scout the stockade and ascertain how to secure a boat crossing north
  2. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers: trace a route through the great swamp to where they pass into the Duchy over the Dragon Mountains
  3. Locate the ancient fort that wards the pass (possibly the same pass), with or without its gold hoard
  4. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy

Scouting the stockade

The fortress area is duly reached and Ock Varg and Clungh take themselves off. Belmont wonders if they would like to explain where the tribute-post is for coming south from the north, but Edgar decides not to translate this.

The expedition advances a little, to the point where wooden wall can be seen and a Hextor banner flying.

Barky sheds sinkable gear and heads out to scout the walls while the expedition main force waits well back behind reeds. The southron approaches along the trail which leads roughly south to north, and gets the idea of scale and entrances there. He then circles clockwise and examines the west wall, going so far as to creep right up to the strakes to peer through. Finally, he slips away, well pleased.

 

The strange case of the unkilling werewolf, part two

Meanwhile the camp is disturbed by a tattered woman who, aside from wearing a distinctive glove, seems to have survived the marsh after escaping a slaver coffle.

Her story is that she is Niamh, is from Fairmont, and has survived the marsh after escaping a slaver coffle – or more specifically being left for dead. But her unwillingness to take off the glove can’t be explained, so Edgar hypnotises her.

This action allows a different persona to speak:

“Know that I am a sentinel, Glove. My purpose is to defeat the Gauntlet, and defend the fortress.(1) This mortal has the curse of lycanthropy on her. Thus far I have prevented the curse from taking full hold – she has not eaten humanoid. She needs healing from the temple of Pelor on the north side of the sculpted river.”

Edgar proposes an alliance of mutual benefit, and they agree to guide Niamh to the temple. Belmont and Thomas see to the festering bite on her shoulder, for now.

New thread: Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor north of the sculpted river to cure her lycanthropy

 

It’ll be fine, don’t overthink it

Barky’s outline of the two walls and lack of guards on the west towers, and Niamh’s estimate that the fortress has a score of occupants, produces three options:

  1. Steal a boat and sail north. Oswald can skipper it, the others can crew it.
  2. Assault out of the setting sun, lay waste to all except captives, and then commandeer a boat.
  3. Negotiate with the Hextorites for passage.

There are issues of logistics and lack of information with option 1, and option 3 is barely mentioned before being voted out. Option 2 fits the overall mission.

Adventurer-like idiocy is stripped out and getting in there, using a coordinated reasonably stealthy approach, and killing (to quote Thomas) becomes the focus. Steps are worked out to get the ‘fighting team’ into the south-west tower and attack along the south parapet to the south-east tower, then improvise. As Edgar assures them, no plan lasts beyond the first blow, so no need to get into detail.

And so leaving the mule team of Hodd, Siward and Vert to guard Bess and Jenny, the others move in from the west.

 

The battle for the Hextorite stockade

Approaching with the setting sun over their right shoulder, the attackers gain the wall without alarm. Once a patrolling goblin has passed, Barky uses his Ring of Climbing and Belmont uses a potion of Spider Climbing, and both gain the south-west tower. Edgar’s rope, now knotted, is made fast, and Thomas clambers up, followed by Oswald, the next-strongest. As Oswald recovers his halberd, a challenge in the common tongue is heard!

Round 0: Goblin challenges as it approaches back west along the parapet: “‘Ooizit? Oozere?”

Round 1: Barky leaps to the attack but is not quite able to subdue the goblin, and alarm becomes general. Belmont moves up behind Barky and stabs the goblin, who expires. Oswald rushes along and past them. A melee group moves out of the south-east tower along the parapet and in the stockade, inside the bunkhouse, Hextorites slap on helms and grab shields. Thomas advances along the parapet, ready to use Calm Emotion on folks exiting the bunkhouse.

Edgar clumsily clambers up the knotted rope to the tower [rolls an 8 which drops to 7].

Round 2: Barky advances, unlimbering his sword, and letting the fires of rage feed his power. He half-vaults past Oswald and smashes down the next goblin! Belmont uses his Spider Climbing to head down the inside and along underneath towards the action. Other than footwear, he’s still heavily armoured. Oswald advances into the space Barky has cleared and flicks the next goblin aside. A hulking hobgoblin advances to the fray, but the first swing of his heavy flail goes wide. Thomas creeps along further for an ideal angle into the courtyard, and Edgar checks Niamh (she’s also managing the climb) and advances behind Thomas.

As expected a small host of goblins, and two hobgoblins, boil out of the bunkhouse and most are promptly stopped by Thomas’ chant. Two advance.

Round 3: Barky swings lustily against the hobgoblin, his blade swings deep, and the hobgoblin falls with a groan. Barky drops the short jump down, practically next to Belmont, towards the advancing pair. Belmont advances half-right to cover behind what seems to be a cookhouse. Oswald jumps down beside Barky. A trio of enemy, including a hobgoblin, advances from the south-east towards Belmont’s back. Edgar can see this and calls for Thomas to fall back to some cover (in regard to the bunkhouse) and casts Sleep on the trio behind Belmont. They all fall. The aggressive pair from the bunkhouse, also including a hobgoblin, charge at Barky and Oswald, dealing a shrewd flail-blow to Barky.

Round 4: Belmont may have missed a chance to chop the nearest hobgoblin down but he steps in and does the job now. Oswald trips his mark and stabs the ground between his sprawled feet. Edgar makes sure Niamh knows she’s on watch, and runs along to the south-east tower, past where a ladder enables access to the ground. “And don’t disturb them on the ground,” he calls back to Belmont.

There are no further Hextorite reinforcements as yet; if there are more in the bunkhouse, they are armouring more thoroughly.

Round 5: Barky ends the life of the prone goblin. Belmont advances slightly towards the stockade’s centre. He can now see a long hutch-like slave pen, mid-stockade. He also has a good view of three well-armoured men emerging from the bunkhouse; one calls Hextor’s Blessing. Edgar can see them from his vantage and drops Glitterdust around the cleric, blinding one of the goblins.

Round 6:  Barky leaps the corpse to move towards the cleric and cuts savagely at him, using his rage. Belmont follows up, more slowly owing to his armour, with the hutch on his sword flank. The cleric and one ritter attacks Barky while his other ritter focuses on Belmont. Edgar throws up Protection from Arrows and moves down the ladder.

Round 7: Barky and Belmont have their hands full until Oswald finally connects solidly, felling the cleric. Thomas throws up a second Calm Emotions and again holds the non-combat crowd. Edgar waves encouragingly to Niamh and advances to support range (about 30-40′) of the melee.

Round 8: Two goblinoids, unaffected by Thomas’ new spell, rush the interlopers. Belmont and the ritter trade blows. Barky receives another slight cut from his ritter. Two more larger goblinoid types move up, and the situation seems finely balanced. Edgar uses Hypnotism to warn the enemy that lizardmen are attacking the ship. The six or so calmed goblins can now consider this calmly, possibly in a discussion circle, but the two larger types head that way.

Round 9: Barky’s rage ends. Oswald kills the lone goblin still in the fight. Edgar drops the ritter savaging Barky with Tasha’s Hideous Laughter.

Round 10: Barky Belmont and Oswald gank the prone ritter, leaving only Belmont’s attacker and the pair of hobgoblins investigating the boats. The ritter thrusts his sword past Belmont’s shield and deep into his flank [14 crit]. Edgar loads his crossbow, casts True Strike and moves up even closer in support.

Round 11: Barky Belmont and Oswald surround the last ritter who dies fighting. Then as Thomas’ second spell ends, they shake the blood off their blades ready for action against the goblins, and the session ends with the GM tentatively calling the fight as won.

Thread closed: Boat passage investigated

New thread: Gain any local knowledge of the area from the stockade, then sail a boat north across the lake

(1) Our bard friend Bertran has told this stirring tale in detail; it hasn’t been recorded in detail.

This was a whole lot better than the last couple of sessions, considered from a group perspective. The holiday break rust has been scraped off. Sure, there was still a lot of what I could term ‘excessive guessing’ and have specifically named ‘adventurer idiocy’ but the group achieved the two goals needed to be achieved and did it without internal bickering. The benefit can be seen in that, even though our top fighters weren’t rolling hot, the assault succeeded. Stay tuned to see if the dynamic continues!

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