DGA1.01: A first mission

The wrong shape

A gaggle of townsfolk and outlanders stands gawping around the bodies, laid there on the Platz in Leischport. The common knowledge is that these… things nearly succeeded in a raid on the town armory. That the fighting was hard, is evident from the slumped group of bone-weary town watch nearby, and the forlorn children asking mamas why daddy can’t come back. That they fought against things not entirely human, is evident from the odd-shaped feet, or knees the wrong way, or a tail glimpsed, or a lolling tongue much too long, among those corpses.

A majority of the onlookers are south-siders and the simple reason for that is that an open day has been declared by Earl Damose [DA-moh-shih]. Here in the well-groomed north side, where the height and breadth of the Great Temple and the Earl’s court seem to make them peer over every shoulder, poor folk and indigent wayfarers are making the most of open bridges.

Sweating under the baggage they perforce must carry – for lodgings even in the south expect at least a coin – two scouts and a defense mage are to be seen. And since they are the heroes of this tale let us meet them now.


The characters for this session:

Mir X, elf rogue, 5’8, lean, dirty blond hair, tan, brown eyes. His campaign gear is worn and in particular his bedroll needs replacing. Bundles of arrows bulk out his load but the shortswords at his belt have seen service. As a company scout, he excelled in not being seen.

Vir Onden, half-elf ranger, near 6′, hair-colored hair and clean-shaven at the moment, shabby equipment, and his backpack is split at the seams. Bundles of arrows bulk out his load, too. As a company scout he excelled in trail-blazing through forest.

Pais Ullman, human sorcerer, 6’3, thin with no real muscle tone, dark haired, very tan, startling blue eyes. He struggles under the weight of a near-useless backpack, crossbow and dagger. As a regimental defense mage he was known for close-quarters lightning-shock.


Coin beckons

WIS and INT checks to give me some feedback on how aware the characters are. Mir does the best by quite some margin; Onden is aware of surroundings; Pais seems self-absorbed.

As Ullman muses what components might be garnered from the corpses, the two scouts tap him on the shoulder and reintroduce themselves.

“There’s bound to be coin here. Let’s ask and say, yer lads’re tired, what do ya want done?” – Mir, who has caught the magic words ‘and I don’t care how much it costs.’

The careless offer seems to have come from two stressed-loooking officials, one fussing over paperwork, the other probably in command. The three straggle over, trying not to move too fast in the oppressive heat.


The Earl offers 500 gold!

The official in charge is in fact, Earl Damose. He wants the remaining cultist caught and brought back dead or alive. Given how tired the watch is, and casualties, adventurers will do. He seems to know something about both soldiers – ‘my son served’ – and adventurers.

Apparently when things started to go wrong for the cultists fighting in the armory, a wagon drawn up nearby made off, north. Clearly, a getaway vehicle, for how else were they planning to get weapons away? It’s not immediately certain whether he drove the vehicle further or abandoned it.

“What exactly are we talking about then” – Onden

“Five hundred gold… dead or alive” – Earl

“And you don’t care which?” – Pais

“It would be ideal to bring back a live suspect with evidence of the real plan, but if needs be, dead.”

“And which way are we looking… and how much time have we to make up?” – Mir

“North. And you’ve lost hours, I’m sorry to say.”


The north gate

Onden attempts to gain a little more detail from the Earl’s amanuensis but he’s too flustered and busy. The ranger gets no more than “it’s a wagon, which means look on the road.”

To be certain, the three look carefully along the shrub-lined avenue north, then the turns into side-streets near the north gate, to be sure the wagon didn’t whip off into hiding. But they see nothing to suggest it, and arrive at the (now) well-guarded gate.

The town watch there is on long shifts and the original guard that was on duty last night is still on duty, sleeping standing up. Mir approaches him.

“Notsleepingsarge!” – watchman, rousing

He’s able to supply more confirmation than anything. There’s one driver, one dray and a big covered wagon. He passes on his own estimate of locations north – Schmitford is generally allowed as two days’ walk, Tallywood a little closer.

Mir passes all this back, and the three set off.


Heat of day

Along the north road through well-tended cropland they walk, then through less well-tended, then open wildlands.

One level of exhaustion

Onden observes the baked-hard road has not shown any trace of one particular wagon, but ahead in the distance is woodland, and the chance for shade and tracks.

[This does not count as forest, favored terrain for Onden, but he makes a fine roll and clears DC20]

As Mir and Pais rest wearily among the first few trees, Onden carefully paces alongside the trail, then cries with surprise and waves them to look.

He points at a line in the road. Little more than a scar among other ruts.

“It matches the time. We’re still on the trail.”

The three bethink them of resting up. Mir – strongly of the opinion than someone staying out of the action must have been a boss – things he’ll be very tired, and it’s worth pushing on. And then he notices an oddly regular shape in a great tree to the north, nearly invisible among the canopy and other lesser trees.


The Azurewood

“How about we drop off the road and bring stretch along with us?” – Mir, to Onden

The three make a show of camping on the verge, and Mir manages to lose the last usefulness of his bedroll. He shrugs:

“I can meditate in the woods” – Mir

“You can get arrested for that… oh – meditate!” – Pais

Onden leads the awkward scramble, through the blue-tinged leaves of trees right of trail, across the grain of the land. Though dry now, many small courses make this surprisingly rolling. Mir presses his elven ear to one such course and decides water could be dug, not far down.


The Coach

At length their “loop around under cover” gains them earshot of the Coach, a lone inn at the trail-fork, where one arm heads north to Tallywood and another east to Schmitford. Grundle the dwarf smith is singing a dwarf song while tinkering with a pan. Then Delb the landlord has food ready, the dinner-gong is sounded, and the very small staff gather in the common room.

By that time the three adventurers have crept close enough to work out:

There’s an inn built around the base of a huge tree, but part of the structure – maybe a room – is right up high in the tree, below the canopy.

The present company:

  • Delb Mattockblade, sour-faced landlord, worried about his missing son Randall
  • Grundle Fitz the dwarf, sour on life in general
  • Lawrence Ames, hostler, guilty over his part in Randall’s fate

The occupants all know about the wagon – someone abandoned it here around dawn. The dray is in the stable now. Neither wagon nor beast supplies any more detail. [Though they aren’t thoroughly investigated, to be fair.]


A side-quest?

Lawrence and Mir know each other from army days and perhaps because of it, Mir fails to catch the reek of guilt from his fine-featured friend. Lawrence shouts them all three a drink, and they spend a silver piece each on an expensive meal. They soon know as much as anyone is telling them, of Randall’s disappearance a few nights back.

[The meal and drink counts as a short rest and exhaustion is removed. Pais is down to 1cp funds, the other two have some silver]

Delb is willing to put them up free if they search for his son. “An if he has fetched out fer Schmitford ya have my permisson ter kick his ass all th’ way back.”

But, money talks, and besides, Kestrel Blueleaf, a ranger who seems to have been around some months (“seems like a year or longer” according to Grundle) has agreed to look, as a favor to Lawrence. She’s actually on the trail of other prey, some weird hag.

[Kestrel is a friendly rival of Onden’s]

“If it’s coin you’re needing, there’s a job going in Tallywood” – Lawrence, pointing to a noticeboard

Schalk, forester at Tallywood is offering “a reward” for destroying whatever is killing livestock up that way. Apply to him for details.

“A solder or two passing through looked at it and said, ‘we’re going to need a ranger,’ so that reminded me of it. I’ll mention you’re perhaps needing some muscle if more come through” – Lawrence


A trail into the Cyanwood, and a trail to a curse

Quartering the ground around the intersection Onden, with Mir’s help, pinpoints where one individual – with an odd gait – did push off the road, north into the Cyanwood, as that section of forest is known. There’s a more obvious trail east into the Azurewood where Lawrence and Randall went to admire the night sky, more than once, despite Delb’s dire warnings of what happens to “folk as wander inter th’ woods”.

As far as they can gather from Lawrence’s retailing of Delb’s yarns, the family Mattockblade has owned the inn for generations, ever since some curse befell the founder and that in turn is tied up to a cursed tower known as Lightwatch, east in the Azurewood.

“Well, pass on what we found, then let’s get north.”

They fill canteens with fresh, good water from the Coach and set out.



Disaster in the Cyanwood

The trees aren’t close-set, but the ground betwixt is close-grown with wiry bushes. Were it not for Onden and Mir’s expertise Pais would be stumbling and exhausted in no time. As they reach what could be called a clearing, where the gilded sky stares down, Mir calls warning.

“Something’s in the trees!”

Initiatives: Mir, Pais, Onden/baboons

Round 1: Mir’s first arrow is a good one and with a horrid screech an ape is pinned as it drops to the clearing. The rogue stays near his comrades. Pais, walking ahead of Mir, attempts land a crossbow bolt on another but the ape, keenly aware of danger, drops to another branch before leaping to the ground. Onden, in the lead, pulls and looses his longbow and though it is a strong shot the baboon dodges. But at the same time two apes leap in, and one manages to sink its fangs into Pais’ arm!

Round 2: More beasts run along branches as Mir drops his bow, produces shortswords, and shifting closer to Pais, impales a second baboon. Another makes a snatch at Mir’s belt but Pais can’t see what that might have been. The sorcerer beams a ray of frost up into the tree but his intended victim drops clear. Onden, like Mir, drops his bow in favour of shortswords but they evade easily. It snatches a dagger out of his belt. Another grabs Pais’ component pouch as he’s knocked flat, possibly dying. Both Mir and Onden receive severe bites!

Round 3: Mir vaults the nearest baboon and leaves at a run, Onden helps Pais [who nat 20s the death roll] up and they both run after the elf as fast as they can, given Pais’ lack of skill and the slower pace of both. The baboons pursue both along the ground and through trees, but more in show than in earnest – just as long as the intruders keep running!


Solace at the Coach

“Why would anyone go into that fucking wood? It’s lethal!” – Mir

“Why would anyone spend time training fucking baboons?” – Pais

“Well, that’s a turnip for the books!” – Delb, seeing them come back worse for wear


Broth provided and rest permitted, Mir updates his friend.

“OK Lawrence, that was less than successful. We got chased out by ferocious baboons.”

“I don’t blame you. They have huge teeth, right?”

“And their bottoms were even more frightening!”

“That’s so like you, Mir. Laughing in the face of terror. Except for that one time…”

“Yes, when terror was in the face of terror.”



The three discuss options. Kiting seems a good possibility, picking off a few baboons at a time. On the other hand Delb’s offer to lodge them for free is now pressing. What to do? They promise Delb but the Earl and his gold has priority.

[Mainly on a random luck chance Mir finally picks up on Lawrence’s guilt. And corners him into explaining what really happened.]

Lawrence and Randall, lured by a wandering bard’s story of Lightwatch and its romantic history, visited the Azurewood and Lightwatch Tower a number of times. Then one night they were attacked by hideous undead – Lawrence is vague on this point – and Randall bravely stood them off while Lawrence fled.

The bard was looking for some document or other but dallied here to look for some “hot grandmother” or something.

Mir puts this to his comrades. At first they still see this as second priority. Best to stay on top of the trail. But Mir points out that this is a short march – just an hour in. It can all be sorted out tomorrow then they have lodging, and can work on the baboons.

Reluctantly they agree that the Earl’s gold will wait, and take a much-needed night’s rest.


Kestrel Blueleaf

Early next day, fully restored, the three set off into the Azurewood.

Some five trees in, an arrow slams into a tree, next to Onden’s head, and a woman’s voice calls from above:

“Tag! You’re it!”

Onden races off after Kestrel. The other two agree he’ll catch them up, and push on. Perhaps 50 more trees later they come in sight of a tower-top and begin cautiously checking the area.

By this time, in between sporting in the woods, Onden has piqued Kestrel’s curiosity or sense of rivalry and she follows him back to rejoin his comrades.


The tower and chapel

Lightwatch Tower has an attendant building of substance annexed to it. Pais’ opinion [DC15 on religion] is, probably a chapel or shrine. Both are long neglected, but still sturdy.

Kestrel agrees there are at least three ways in. There’s straight into the chapel, or up and through a high tower window, or there’s the rear escape tunnel from Hag Yazol’s lair.

They work their way round, to view the tunnel. Mir spots a gleam of gold… something, up in the tower. A guard, he guesses.

“They are shiny skeletons,” Kestrel warns, “guarding the buildings. Yazol’s lair is roughly underneath it all.”


What’s happened to Orlin Swift?

“I was chased out by spiders and I’m sure she’ll have laid all kinds of traps there now, but I did pinch some shit she stashed there” – Kestrel

Kestrel produces a lute and a notebook. Pais recognizes them as his friend Orlin’s. The letter he got matches the notebook.

“Shit, this is the woman he said he was looking for. He wrote me, ‘can a fiend-saint be as attractive as she sounds?’ And Mir: I don’t know what the document was that your friend Lawrence mentioned. We may never know. Orlin! Idiot! You always did think with your dick!” – Pais, half-angrily


A fourth approach

Knotting the two lengths of rope they have, Mir and Onden prepare for an ascent.

“What’s my job – sniper?” – Kestrel

“Yes, seems right. We both lost our bows in the baboon fight” – Onden

“^&%^!! &^%&%^!! baboons!” – Pais

The four run over the plan.

  • Mir will climb first, with the first length of rope. It can be made fast up top, probably through bars of a tower window near the chapel top
  • Onden can either climb up next or tie the second rope on, depending how much play there is, then join Mir
  • The two are sure to be able to help heave up Pais
  • They all have good sturdy clubs, whittled from branches, which will be of some use against skeletons
  • Kestrel covers the climb then plays it by ear


Kestrel’s fancy shooting

As Mir gains the top of the chapel roof – low-pitched, and lead-covered – there’s a smart metallic crack above him as a shaft from Kestrel hits the guard skeleton. Mir studies the climb up from here: it’s formidable. He ties off the first length, around the stone bar of the first, reachable window, and throws the tail down for Onden.

He next eases a short sword out from where he has it tucked and starts levering lead up. A crossbow bolt slams down next to his work-site, but then there’s another metallic crack, a cry of “gottim” and a ringing hollow bouncing noise as the skeleton’s skull bounces off and down the full height of the tower.

Down below, Onden has climbed up enough to grab the knotted rope, tie off his length to it, and continue climbing to the roof.

Mir keeps a weather eye open above, and sure enough another skeleton does present its crossbow. He wiggles back hard against the tower, so it has an impossible angle for a shot. Pais can see it, but it’s a little outside his range, on the angle. Mir wraps his cloak around a club, waves it forward into line of sight of the tower window. The crossbow looses and at the same moment Kestrel’s third arrow takes that skeleton’s skull off. Another hollow bouncing sequence.

[Bit of ‘hey, is critting undead a thing?’ from Pais’ player but it’s more treating a crit as bypassing the skeleton’s resistance to piercing damage, as the arrow hits a weak spot.]

Third up and long-delayed, but now safe, Pais uses knots and a loop to hold on, while the two scouts haul him up.


Ceiling full o’ spiders

More lead, and lathes supporting it, are levered away. The cavity beyond is full of thick, dark web.

“Well it’s a good thing we have torches” – Pais

As the annoyed, large, spiders swarm, the three flame them back. The damage just needs to scare them enough to persuade not to attack.

“Am I still sniping? What’s the plan?” – Kestrel calling

“Yes join us” – Onden

“Throw down the rope end then”

With Kestrel swiftly across and up, she briefs them as much as she can. These are flying spiders – they float on spun web – not the big ones guarding the lair – and they’ll swarm you when you get down.

More torch-themed ideas are enlarged upon, and with flaming torch circle and torch-on-rope a good circle is cleared. It seems intensely dark within, even to elven eyes. But as the area of burning webbing expands, two more gilded-seeming skeletons drop down out of the webbing.


The darkness lifts – a little

Pais wiggles free a chunk of lead roofing and casts Light on it, and drops it through. He can pick out gilt gleams, while the others see  the two skeletons clearly, in monochrome.

Kestrel immediately drops one as it starts assembling, but the next couple of tries are fruitless.

“That one’s dodging” – Kestrel

“Dodge this” – Pais, using Ray of Frost to slow it

“Nice!” Kestrel, immediately scoring another nat 20 and taking its skull off

Both skeletons appear to have been using a club of some sort.

Mir and Onden clamber down to the circle of torches. A circle of visible chapel surrounds them: the darkness presses in otherwise. Mir hefts one of the skeleton’s maces and tests its balance. Then he leans in closer.

The bones of that skeleton are gilded. He tries a test scrape. Yes, gilded.


A boss skeleton?

Examining what they can see, one definite entrance into the tower can be seen. Pais wiggles round and begins descending…

[DEX check not good!]

As he joins the ruins of his backpack, which has preceded him, Pais realizes that just on the furthest fringe of the darkness, opposite the tower entrance, a gilt figure is visible.

It steps forward further into the half-light. In its forehead glint the facets of a gem.

Mir weighs the mace again, judging if a throw is justified.

The skeleton raises its long-bladed sword, and its other open hand palm up, and a dreadful screech comes from its mouth!



And the session ends…


Not as bad as I’d feared nor as good as I’d hoped. I have a lot to learn about 5e, even after playing in the I [heart] Dread campaign, and listening to a year’s worth of Critical Role. On the bright side, I did prep a side-mission off the character connections with people that may turn up at the Coach, and that worked in well, much more convincing to have Kestrel more interested in her own prey than bailing out the guys in a neighboring forest. On the bad side I mishandled the baboons pretty comprehensively.

I have no idea if I handled the fleeing cultist as the writer may have had in mind. The adventure falls into the common trap – among fantasy material – of making every location very distant without justification or logic. Imagine if in a modern heist game someone fled inner London. You’d be surprised if the next report of them was the Grunewald, and not, say, Staines or Reading. I came up with the compromise solution of a wagon, that would have been needed for the heist, being traceable, and that in turn either linking to Tallywood, or the cultist being trackable with a Hard check.


Posted in Adventures in Dimgaard | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SB1.18: Another canvass of Commandery

Last session closed with Fr Gerard of Hieroneous tasking Belmont to “mind” Kingsley the Kindly, whatever that may mean. 

Each character has at least one downtime thread to pick up. Including that just given, they are: 

  1. Edgar: a general round of networking with his contacts, plus investigating dog training and possibly options for familiars. 
  2. Thomas: specifically aiming to leverage success to get Identify and appraisal work; resolve Mesym’s share; see to re-sizing masterwork full plate. 
  3. Belmont: Locate Kingsley in his “hottie bard” mode; see to re-sizing masterwork full plate; investigate a fine heavy war-mount. 
  4. Barky: Hang out with Edgar, partly to protect him and partly because it’s more fun. 
  5. Oswald: See to re-sizing masterwork full plate. 



Fr Superior Spearhavok listens and makes the right kind of responses as Thomas reports in fair detail. [Which as far as I could see was done without referring to any notes, very impressive!] When Thomas finishes the overall report and gets to Pelagius the ghost Pelorite, Spearhavok tells him that so many Hieroneous templars left, the city is poorly defended now. And it’s about slaver season, when galleys whip across Slaver Bay to strike. Perhaps the team wouldn’t mind holding about town for two months or so? The good repute the team now enjoys means work of this kind.

Thomas explains our role in Kingsley’s presence. Spearhavok isn’t too pleased but is willing to sit and let events unfold.

Getting good news on appraising/identifying, Thomas gains a general direction on Mesym’s next of kin, a son named Arwik, and heads away.


Edgar and Barky

Edgar points to the side-door as they head to the front door of the Cheering Flame:

“Look Barky, that’s that doorway where you cut that chap in half.”

Entering the pair see a sparse common room, crumbs on tables, and an anxious landlord. Edgar wants something light, Barky wants something “off the bone” and they end up with a full meal and good drink. Vert eats outside. It is true, they learn, that the nerdy-ass wizards “Guild” does still meet here – and their next meeting must be nearly due.

Making a fine Will SV to avoid being lulled into drinking good wine all morning, Edgar buys the remains of the bottle, passes it to Barky, and the pair head out around the bluff and down to the commercial centre. Wee Jas’ temple is along the route to the Gnome Trading, so Edgar, recommending Barky head across the square to “the big place” (Pelor) heads in. He pays his respects to Senior Aegard and kneels to the Silent Lady to let her know he’s taken some revenge for his family.



Guessing the Laughing Cavalier might have something Belmont bursts in briskly, startling a strange, clean and well-dressed man. It’s Oswald. Belmont announces the “armour resize” plan is foremost in his mind. Guessing that that is all that’s in his mind Oswald agrees to do the same.

“I figure I’ll keep the heavy stuff for riding, the lighter for ground action”

“That might work. Hey while you’re here why not have a meal?”

Belmont learns that Palfrey, the landlord, has recently wed, and the food has improved dramatically. The new wife’s name is Kater. (Pron. Carter)

“So you want to take those bundles of heavy gear with you?” Palfrey prompts.

“Yes, I’m going to get it re-sized. Thomas, too.”

“And aren’t you forgetting someone,” Oswald prompts, pointing to himself.



Making enquiries brings Thomas, seeking Arwik, to the river gate and its watch. Arwik serves here. He is called down and Thomas breaks the news. Arwik is happy, if anything:

“My father was a real shit. He treated me badly and he treated my mum badly. He didn’t even chip in to help bury her. But Mesym the self-righteous killed by boobies and a siren song – you made my day, brother!”

His mood swings wildly on learning that he’s in for a goodly share of coin. Thomas leaves him adjusting to the loss of an estranged father and sudden modest wealth.



Edgar heads across the square and finds Barky deep in conversation with priests of Pelor. Edgar leaves them to it.

The Gnome Trading is next. The gnomes are impressed by Vert’s size. Bertib is both a merchant and chair of the Guild. Edgar hints at investments. The gnome agrees to move the next meeting forward to tonight, and will Edgar speak? Edgar immediately forgets his own name in public-speaking panic.

Bertib does happen to know of the best dog-trainer, she lives by the Pelor gate and her name is mother Hendrix.



Two clerics, Raymond and Osmund, play host to Barky. He fills in details about reclaiming the old place (Fort Champion). They are up with Pelagius’ revelation of course and want a chart of the swamp crossing and locations found. Routes are discussed, the implication of a path across a drying swamp too.

Barky undertakes to make the chart or at least a sketch, but at that point Edgar comes back.


Belmont and Oswald

Up on smith’s row under an unconvincing sign of a smiling dwarf, the pair stoop under a low doorframe and into the Dwarf Smith forge. Belmont (strangely adopting the Dwarf’s accent) explains that they wish to preserve the excellent mobility of the suits, but have them altered to fit.

Measurements are taken and timeframe discussed. Cash is placed down to seal the bargain.

The bulk of the morning is now gone.


“That was a bit active for a morning,” Oswald comments, relieved to have the weight gone.

“Listen if you don’t mind I’d like to head up to the place the bards like,” Belmont presses.

“The Staggering Unicorn? – that’s right, you never got to it.”

It’s early for the place, but attractive young women are tidying tables. Oswald asks for Bilbert.

“He’s up about this time usually… oh and here he is.”

Clad in a casual robe, Bilbert seats and leans his head on hands. Belmont, at first dubious, joins him.

Sure enough though, Bilbert has solid news of Kingsely’s antics. Equipped with a magic lute, he entertained the crowd and eventually moved on. Apparently, he “loves the night life” and “had to boogie.”

Somewhat discouraged Belmont heads out and turns to Oswald as they begin the climb to the heights:

“We might need to look for vengeful husbands.”



The Cuthbert cleric has now decided to bring in the others, the more heads the better when it comes to minding Kingsley. He arrives at the Laughing Cavalier and like Belmont is struck by the delicious food smells. No comrades. Oh well! Time for a mid-morning meal. He, too, congratulates Palfrey. Apparently the winning stroke in wooing Kater was that she need never light a hearth or stoke a kitchen stove again – Palfrey has one of the ever-burning braziers.

Unsure of where Belmont might have taken armour, Thomas walks out boldly and blindly.


Edgar and Barky

Waittes’ pothecary-store and library are on the way to the Pelor Gate so that’s the next visit. Waittes greets them and offers a drink, a new brew. Edgar compliments it. Lia arrives. She seems slightly startled, perhaps by Vert. Edgar reports his progress, Lia compliments it, Edgar gets flustered. But he initiates a recipe-list of potions the team will probably want for the next mission. He follows Lia into her library (which brings back some uncomfortable memories) and looks over the collection briefly. Bidding adieu until the evening he collects Barky and heads on towards the Pelor Gate.


Belmont and Oswald

Having eliminated the Staggering Unicorn in the quest for KIngsley Belmont bethinks of using Thomas’ wisdom.

“Well I know he’s definitely not in there, and he’s not in the Laughing Cavalier…”

“Next up is the Cheery Flame,” Oswald prompts.

“Well, let’s just head down to the main market and keep our eyes and ears open.”

“Sure, let’s do that” Oswald assents.

A longish wait and a spot of conversation later, Belmont is all but stumped. “It’s as though we’re trying to balance on two completely separate things, and falling between them,” he muses. But a flustered group of women do recall a handsome bard at the Cheery Flame, so Oswald is saved from other folk sayings.

There is no bard, nor is there a cleric. The landlord certainly recalls Kingsley and that he and a serving wench left. She has not returned. And there were accusations of cheating at the card game he was in. If he went anywhere that was not the serving wench’s bed, it would be to the Groghall.

On this wild speculation they head across the length of town, to the Groghall.



Pursuing his comrades Thomas arrives at the Staggering Unicorn. By this time, Belmont is either at the Cheery Flame, or the market. So there is a distincty shortage of comrades, but there is a room of skimpily dressed women and a fat reprobate in a robe.

“Man of the cloth eh,” Thomas mutters to himself, joining the latter.

“Ah, a brother of St Cuthbert! Drinks here!”

“Just water.”

“We’ll have the killjoy special,” Bilbert mutters.

“I was told my comrades may have passed through here.”

“Ah you’re the other goddie boy! Yes, they headed on to the Cheery Flame, looking for that bard with the magical lute. Such songs!….”

Thomas wrenches himself away from the OO-GA-CHA-KAS and heads off to the Cheery Flame.


Edgar and Barky

Edgar gets direction at the gate, and as a by the way, gets the “slaving season” explained to him. He identifies Hieroneous as possibly needing hirelings on ships. Possibly paying fighting wages.

Granny Hendrix works amidst eau de chien and dogs. Edgar explains Vert and his need for training. Granny Hendrix explains what she can do. A deal is done. Bidding an emotional farewell – he’ll possibly miss Vert more than Vert will miss him – Edgar feels it’s time for a mid-afternoon meal, so to the Laughing Cavalier the pair go.



The Groghall strikes Belmont favorably: there are no cultists dodging around tables trying to kill him. A restful haze of old grog and body odor lies heavy on the dirt-floored hall. He samples the house booze and talks to the barkeep. Who at first suspects him of working with the law.

Kingsley has been there! But he was arrested after a scuffle.

Muttering to Oswald, “if you come up with a disease I can cure you,” Belmont heads towards the pokey, also known as St. Cuthbert’s.



At the Reasonable Ogre Thomas scans the room, not seeing the wood for the trees (poor Notice) and asks after the two rooming here. They went out, quite early, it seems. A runner could be sent.

“I seem to be failing in my efforts to find anyone. Yes, send a runner.”

He meanders back to St. Cuthbert’s.


Edgar and Barky

As they have not been to the Laughing Cavalier since their arrival it’s another chance to network. They learn of Palfrey’s marriage, congratulate Palfrey, and discover that Kater is ex-Cheery Flame. Which explains the drop in custom there.

“They were pretty down in the mouth there. And the wizard’s guild is thinking of relocating. Yes, we could meet here, seems nothing wrong… I’ll mention it to Lia.”

Palfrey tells the pair as much as he knows of the comings and goings of the other three, and notes Thomas’ concern.

Edgar shrugs. “I bet I know what’s going on. It’s our Kindly friend. Well, forget that. I told Kingsley to meet tomorrow night, and the guild’s tonight, and I don’t want anything ruining that. He’ll keep until tomorrow night.”

“He can be unpredictable,” Barky warns.

“Unpredict this,” Edgar retorts, making leisurely inroads on his pint of good ale.


Thomas, Belmont and Oswald

Belmont’s detective work has led him to the only holding cells in town.

“A sensible assumption,” Thomas observes, surprise in his voice, and walks the cell block until he finds Kingsley.

Kingsley is resting, and seems happy to do that some more. After recounting his triumphs of enjoying town, he warns Thomas about a small gang of gem smugglers. He spotted them at the Groghall. He pops up a floating relief map of the town and shows Thomas where to look. And pops up another image, less clear, of the leader and thugs.

Leaving it in Thomas’ hands to do something about it Kingsley settles back for more nap-time.


All together again

And speaking of nap-time Edgar and Barky, replete and somewhat tired, arrive back at the Reasonable Ogre. A messenger is sent to Thomas to let him know where they are, but the pair nap for a time.

The message catches Thomas before he can report back to Spearhavok, and Belmont likewise forgets to report to Gerard, so there sponsors remain unaware Kingsley is in a lockup.

All five catch up each other on news, to some degree.


Thomas leads a detachment and arrests the smugglers. Spearhavok – somewhat unfairly – implies that Thomas needed to tell him about Kingsley’s whereabouts earlier than this. He arranges an early release.


The wizard guild meeting

Edgar excuses himself from both making any further decision about Arwik – he already left it all to Thomas – and the smuggler. He readies for the Guild meet.

Warning Barky there won’t be much to do, Edgar trails back to the Cheery Flame that same evening. Barky trails after him – because why not.


The wizards guild deals with most business, then asks Edgar to report. His report focuses on achievements and opportunities. The gnome merchants lean in closer as he explains the idea of buying up vast tracts of cheap swampland ready against the time when Pelor’s golden fields rise again and settlers want land. A big, cooperative endeavor. The lizardmen will be willing to trade, he hazards – maybe just a matter of finding them a better swamp. Lia looks at him with mixed emotions visible on her face. After the meeting breaks up she moves to his side and suggests quietly:

“A merchant prince?”


The wrap

Spearhavok doesn’t let his pique at not being kept up to date affect the loot arrangement. He turns over full information. Treasure is split up among the comrades, or sold off.

Key items

  • Edgar upgrades to +2 bracers (the +1s that used to be Celric’s are sold for group loot)
  • Edgar also claims the pearl of power (recall), it will be more useful for him than Thomas, or so he says
  • While offering half-heartedly to sell the +1 dagger if people are feeling bad about it Edgar also takes the +1 dagger from Oswald.
  • The ring that opens all doors in Adlerweg is traded to Hieroneous for the keep
  • Thomas on behalf of the party gains a gem of +1hp/2hrs healing.
  • Belmont gains a gem, +2 CHR when dealing with same aligned creatures
  • Barky gains a gem of +2 Will SV against Charm or Suggestion
  • Barky takes a magical greataxe, once belonging to Fort Champion’s commander
  • The scroll of protection from demons is traded
  • An armband that cures insomnia is tentatively held onto, in case it can ease sleep in armour
  • A ring of featherfall goes in party loot
  • A necklace of fireballs (2x3d6, 1x5d6) goes to Barky

Thomas mentions he’s planning to learn the magical smithing trade. Oswald pre-books a halberd+2.

Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SB1.17: Stronghold stormed/Kindly homecoming

Events to this point: A focus on wreaking vengeance against Hextorite slavers has brought an assault team composed of Thomas cleric of Cuthbert, Belmont paladin of Hieroneous, Barky the southron, Edgar the wizard, and Oswald the [NPC] fighter up Adlerweg Pass leading to the Hextorite Duchy – but not against Hextorites! The mission of the Sentinel, a mystic Glove that defends the realm, has brought them to assault Adlerweg Keep against the Gauntlet, an opposing mythic force. Their initial assault has wrought severe damage to the Gauntlet’s gnoll minions: now the five return through the sally-port to attempt to end the Gauntlet!

Part one: Stronghold stormed!


Initiatives: Oswald, Barky [later drops to defenders init], Thomas, Belmont, Defenders, Edgar

With Thomas buffing Barky as we go we haul arse into the sally port. His first buff is the sharing damage spell, Shield Other. The tunnel is defended but by one gnoll shooting through a murder hole. The tunnel ends in a door but again Sentinel allows Edgar to simply open it. Somehow as Edgar rushes through, the Gnoll intercepts him.

The tunnel here is at right-angles to the entry tunnel, then lets back again to the guard-chamber, branches to another door, and zigs forward again to the great hall. Imagine the bottom right leg of an H is the entry tunnel, then the cross-bar is the connecting tunnel to the various chambers, then the top left arm of the H is the inner wall of the great chamber. Until the final couple of rounds, ALL of the fight is along the cross-tunnel and in the very first few feet of the great chamber.

The summary of the assault

Thomas may not be ‘caller’ but his is the strategy. He focuses on keeping Barky healthy and maximising his hitting power. Belmont chips in by blessing Barky’s greatsword. When the opportunity presents itself, Thomas uses Silence in a very cunning way, to neutralise a large section of the defenders.

Edgar keeps very commendable spell conservation. He uses a Web to jam up oncoming gnolls (and their comrades burn them out, making the job of eventually killing them very easy) then another, vertically-positioned, web to section off the great hall so we can get rid of a warg.

Wargs are horribly dangerous – much larger than a wolf or hyena and with advantage in trip attack. Barky and Belmont’s mobility proves of key service in staying in the fight. Oswald fares badly. Eventually as Belmont’s wounds weaken him too much he hands his heavy kite shield over to Oswald.

Barky achieves the breakout as the Gauntlet has to expose its carrier, the mighty ogre, to melee. Although the Gauntlet makes a cunning attempt to preserve itself, it is ended.

If you do not wish to read about the assault in detail, skip to Part Two here.

The details of the assault

First phase: the single gnoll guard is dealt with. (Edgar claims the kill, scoring the last point of dmg with his silver dagger.)

Second phase: Barky, who is trying to delay oncoming hordes, and a number of gnolls (three visible) are webbed up along the tunnel and back into the great hall (which is out of line of sight at this juncture). Belmont burns his way to a good flank position, then burns Barky out. Meanwhile the gnolls burn their trapped comrades out. Painful! As the tunnel begin to clear Edgar Mage Hands a burning oil flask over and adds more pain to the last gnoll. The oil becomes a short-lived obstacle.

Third phase: Barky, still avoiding raging, works the party forward to where line of sight into the great hall is achieved.

The visible defence can be summed up, in order of proximity, as:

  1. Seven gnolls and two wargs, coming to the attack
  2. Gnoll-hag and appx. 5 attendant hyenas
  3. Gauntleted Ogre and two more wargs

“I jump the crone” Barky claims, to much laughter. Since he can’t salmon-leap over the intervening ranks he hurls his dagger instead, getting nowhere near her.

The first warg attacks, and Barky is tripped and flung down. Belmont moves to help and scores a crit!

Thomas moves up behind them and spots the gnoll-hag with hyenas around her, and the Gauntlet in the background. He brings Cuthbert’s Spiritual Mace down on her – or tries to, but she easily dodges.

Edgar also gets line of sight and uses the second Web to lock off the first, attacking warg, from the remaining defence. Best to deal with one at a time!

Barky Oswald and Belmont fell the first warg. The gnolls, mostly avoiding the Web, begin burning it and forming another wave. Belmont uses another burning oil, and the only trapped gnoll is burnt more.

Thomas buffs Barky a little more, with Protection from Chaos, and keeps attacking the gnoll hag with Spiritual Weapon, injuring her. He also readies Silence – and casts it on an hyena! The creature has a low Will SV and the spell works. Because the hyenas are pets of the hag, and she cannot make sound with that one near, they keep following her whenever she tries to get clear of the Silence. The rearmost three gnolls are also cloaked in the Silence, initially.

Oswald looses his crossbow and the already-burnt gnoll dies. Another gnoll retires to become a reserve behind the Gauntlet. That leaves five, only two of which can speak to one another.

As the newly-reformed wave of two gnolls and a warg attack…

Fourth phase:

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

Barky Belmont and Oswald stand fast in their strong defensive position at the throat of the passage, and egg the defenders on. But strong position or not the warg still trips Belmont, and he begins taking substantial damage. Barky of course is sharing his damage with Thomas. He evades one gnoll but is gashed by the axe of another. His greatsword cuts a gnoll down.

Thomas continues hitting the hag (Spiritual Weapon) as she moves away out of line of sight. The hyenas follow her. As they move away, the rear-rank three gnolls are able to hear the Gauntlet ordering them forward! But Edgar’s Animated Rope tangles them, preventing them from joining in effectively.

Belmont is again thrown down and again takes damage. Barky cuts that warg down. (Now only two wargs remain, back behind the ogre.) Oswald is able to help, ramming his sabre across a corner into a gnoll. The Gauntlet wades forward as the hag moves off. Barky and Thomas share more damage from the gnolls. But with the wargs in front of us dead the way is getting clear. Barky feels the time has come: rages and slays a gnoll, advances to the ogre’s threat range. Thomas trickles a minor healing into Belmont. Belmont drops his sword and uses Edgar’s loaded crossbow to shoot. Edgar keeps working his Animated Rope, attaching it to the ogre! Oswald wipes out the second front-rank gnoll as the line of warriors advances. It opens the way for Belmont to take a corner-striking position, but Belmont is still very battered. The Gauntlet smashes down at Barky while three gnolls struggle in the rope: Barky (with Thomas) takes the blow and rushes the ogre, cutting a deep gash in its hard hide. The hag withdraws further to the ogre’s left.

[photo goes here]

Thomas smashes the skull of the gnoll in front of him while behind him, Belmont passes his shield forward to Oswald. Edgar uses the rope with its tangled gnolls to act as a drag on the ogre. Whether that’s any use is debatable but Barky is able to duck aside as the ogre’s clawed fist reaches out. Oswald, unfamiliar with the shield, mistimes his next thrust. One of the remaining pair of wargs lunges at Oswald but misses. There’s general pushing and shoving in the front line and pulling on the tangled rope: no-one falls over. The Gauntlet moves from the ogre to its flanking gnoll, which takes off running! Barky senses the end is near for the ogre and downs it with another mighty stroke, then leaps over its falling corpse and chases after the gnoll! Aware that this leaves the southron open to fear attacks, Belmont bravely follows as close as he can – perhaps too close!

[Here there’s a little debate about charging and whether a gnoll that took the gauntlet and fled keeps AoO. The GM rules no charge, since Belmont had no line of sight to begin with, and yes to AoO.]

Edgar drops Glitterdust on the fleeing gnoll. Meanwhile Thomas and Oswald hold the front-rank warg’s attention. Oswald wounds it. The reserve warg, the very last one, sweeps from near the hyenas to lunge in front of Belmont, at Barky! Belmont misses his reactive swipe. The warg bites, but does not put Barky down; the gnoll slices back at Barky and in reply gets hit hard by Belmont, but staggers on! Barky pursues – the warg still can’t put him down – and thanks to the Glitterdust making it easier to hit, fells the gnoll! Belmont strategically withdraws away from warg peril.

Thomas keeps holding the front-rank warg’s attention as Edgar – urged by Sentinel – rushes through the bodies and along the wall [a triple move, straight]. “Don’t touch it!” Edgar hollers. Oswald sabres the warg.

The hag, her hyenas, the now-untangled gnolls and the surviving warg decide the contest is over, and start leaving. Barky charges after them and cuts a hyena down.

As Thomas and Oswald move out to deal with wounded and the retreating warg and Barky follows up there’s an enormous WHAMMM behind them. Dust pillars in the great hall. The hag gets away through the sally port with most of her hyenas and the warg. Barky finishes off the trapped ones.

Running over to the dust (slowly, in heavy armour) Thomas nudges Edgar’s body with a toe. The wizard coughs and splutters and spits out dust from the exploded gnoll. “Wha…” Thomas pronounces: “Your’e alive. Walk it off you pussy!”

When Edgar ran to the gnoll and touched the Gauntlet with the Sentinel, both vaporised. Edgar is left with a jeweled ring where the Sentinel was, which opens any remaining door in the keep as needed. “Good lord!” Edgar exclaims, sweeping up a number of loose gems left on the scorched floor here. “We won!”


All characters advance well into L5!

Belmont’s sword ‘grows’ to +2!


Part Two: A kindly homecoming

Riding three mounts we found in the keep and two more donated by advancing Hieroneous templars we met down the pass, we hail Fort Champion. The Pelorites are already here. Like the templars who by now occupy Adlerweg Keep, they received an augury. Our mounts are burdened with rations and the best of the loot we found in the keep.

[Side note: while the search-party wargs did destroy our gear each character is allowed to name one item that did not get chewed up.]

The Pelorites have been playing host to Hodd and Siward, and Bess and Jenny. Who – again blame the augury – were told we should all get together for the best return home.

While Edgar asks Siward about the river route and how mounts will fare, Belmont heads to the horse-paddock to see if “his” warhorse is back safe. And there, mighty Kingsley the Kindly drops down out of the sky and says hello.

Congratulating himself on not helping earlier, Kingsley offers a gift. It turns out this is two parts. Part one is a mass teleport for the entire party and horses, back to Commandery. Part two is his own presence, in the shape of a human bard, visiting Commandery.

Offering to catch up at the Reasonable Ogre, in two nights, the party disperses.

[bonus xp for getting our two retainers back safely]

Belmont reports to Gerard

Freshly-clean and shaved and wearing new town clothes, Belmont makes his way up the bridge, through the command fortress and is shown into Gerard’s offices.

“oh, brother, I heard you returned – such good news… sherry?”

“A big one.”

He fills up a small glass quite a bit and continues: “Sit down. We’ve been getting garbled reports from the Crag and elsewhere… and Pelor was called upon… so what did you get up to?”

“Smiting evil, going up the pass, freeing the keep from evil holders… oh and there’s a Hieroneous detachment up there now.”

“That is good news! They hold Adlerweg?”

“After we cleared it for them.”

“But you were headed into the swamp? How did that go? Just whiffled through that did you?”

“Well our guide…”


“…got seduced by a siren and drowned…”

“Terrible… swamps are tricky things… but the locals would have been friendly?”

“Ehhh… not particularly.”

“But you would have got quite a distance north before meeting Hextorites?”

“There was the glorious swamp legion of kobolds… they were annoying… then the lizardmen were a pain…”

“Really, well who knows their reptilian heart.”

“Then we got to a stockade, of Hextorites hobgoblins and goblins. We kind of routed them…”

On further questioning Belmont admits we killed all of them.

“Across the shore we found a tower with a witch under it. And a rogue. We killed the witch, the rogue surrendered so we kept him on bond, then headed west to the Pelor ruin. That was where the Hextorites were, we struck them down.”

“Any strange things? I’ve heard the forest hides things.”

“Well there was the copper dragon”

“Do you mean, legendary Kingsley? Did you laugh? I imagine you did.”

“We went up the pass… we took it.”


A final mission, of sorts

The report peters out into vaguely remembered kills. Finally Belmont mentions that the dragon brought us back to town.

“When you say dragon that’s Kingsley.”

“Yes, he said he had a few friends to look up.”

“Do you get on with him?”

“Well, I guess.”

“I don’t suppose you and your lads could keep an eye on him… we don’t want something upsetting him.”

The GM obviously enjoyed all this. I hope Belmont’s player did. I believe we have one more session, or half session, of enduring Kingsley.

Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SB1.16: Adlerweg assault

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard (wearing Sentinel, the legendary Glove)

and NPCs:

  • Oswald, fighter
  • Vert the cooshee

The round-by-round account of our ascent (last session, foot of entry) proving believable, we pick up the action as Barky and Thomas peer after the retreating pair of gnolls into a chamber seemingly chock full of gnolls. None of the gnolls react to the near presence of men, being busy drinking and joking. 

Into the keep

Thomas cautions Barky back with a gesture, and the southron turns back to check how things are moving on the rope. Belmont hauls himself up, Oswald is not far behind.

His chant ended, Thomas keeps an eye on the gnolls. Meanwhile Barky welcomes Oswald up, and Belmont readies his gear into better fighting order. Barky whips back to see how things are, at Thomas’ side. To his ear, the boisterous sound has altered, as though someone was trying to make himself heard…

Oswald and Belmont haul Edgar and Vert up. It’s slow going since Oswald is doing most of the work. Edgar helps haul himself up over the parapet, passes the halberd to Oswald, and squeezes through the crenulation. He slices at the harness that tethers Vert, glancing around to get the lay of the battlement. Oswald too gets himself ready for battle.

Thomas chants anew: the ten gnolls return to their happy carousing. Seeing a door opposite he strides confidently past the backs of the nearest gnolls. Barky heads in with him: there’s some uneasy moments as the paladin and fighter attempt to silently work out what they’re supposed to be doing.

And with all his blades ready Thomas signals for the killing to begin!


The GM gives full credit for the strategy and mostly, this is a process of one or two men moving to kill a single gnoll, though seldom does one get killed outright, so wounds are received. In terms of spell wastage Edgar fares badly, using a Glitterdust and a Sleep. Barky reserves his rage and Thomas does not need any more spells than the two used so far. 


Trap averted, a descent

With Sentinel’s advice Edgar is ready at the closed exit door by the time the last death-rattle sounds.

“It seems the next room has portculli that will trap us. How long are those forms the gnolls were sitting on?”

By good fortune the two forms are short enough to angle through the doorway while largely upright. Since it’s Edgar’s scheme he organises pairs to handle the forms and set them up in each doorway below each portcullis.

[The GM rule STR checks are most appropriate to get across a smallish room very quickly with an unwieldy form. Both “whip across” lads, Barky and Belmont, make good rolls.] 

At the time, we do not pay much attention to the “play” between the still-raised portculli and the form end. A stair leads down and left to a door, and we move down as quickly and quietly as we can. Sentinel has explained that a guard room lies beyond.

The chamber at the stair foot beyond the door is a typical small tower-chamber but a passage leads straight out parallel to a curtain wall then left into darkness. Edgar has made ready to cast Sleep and does so as he spots departing gnoll. Two gnolls fall asleep just beyond the passage. And we race on!


Open battle in the great hall!

To come to a skidding halt as we realise this passage opens up left into an inner hall, high and vaulted, with what looks like a dozen gnolls in various stages of startlement! Thomas casts Endurance on Barky and Barky rages!

The fighting men form a rough ‘ready to receive’ line in echelon left-flank-forward towards the gnolls, who attack directly, save for one that half-circles to get near the sleeping pair on the right flank. There’s not much to be done about him, all four have their hands full! Edgar reduces the odds by using a scroll: Lightning Bolt takes three and injures two severely. As gnolls hammer at the fighters and are put paid to, the flanking gnoll wakes the two sleepers. Edgar uses a Sleep off the scroll to send one back to sleep. Then his last Sleep to even the main melee down further. Belmont, then Thomas, close down that right flank but one gnoll proves one of those elusive targets who won’t die.

By the time he has cleared his flank Barky is bleeding freely and Oswald is battered. And before the last gnoll facing Oswald can be killed, four gnolls enter with three identical female gnolls behind them. Oswald weighs up his best options… and charges the gnolls, to fix them back where they entered.

At a command from the witches, Barky drops his sword. Oswald’s drawers would not bear inspection at this point.

Edgar, who has been performing coup de grace on a sleeping gnoll, retaliates with Glitterdust, while moving to get his hand on Barky’s slung rope. The four fresh gnolls surround Oswald and things look bad: but he escapes unharmed in a miracle of poor swings. Belmont, finally disengaging from the stubborn gnoll-who-will-not-die, rushes to assist the other flank. Thomas is still unable to kill the gnoll who whips away to reposition himself!

Gnolls again sweep forward, two on Barky and two on Oswald: but they again miss, and Barky sweeps his sword up again and gnolls start falling! Especially when Belmont brings his blade to help. Thomas finally catches up to and finishes the death-resistant gnoll.

Edgar hurls the rope while animating it, and one of the witches disappears. Things are looking good!

Half a dozen or so fresh gnolls arrive. Edgar’s rope traps three of them. Barky Thomas and Oswald hack their way forward. The witch, losing her second mirror image and missing an attempt on Edgar, flees. Belmont, now bleeding quite badly, pulls back and heals himself. Thomas uses a scroll, healing Barky to some extent.

Oswald loses his halberd late in the piece. And late it is: The Gauntlet, on the fist of a mighty Ogre, stomps into the hall.


We choose to not outstay our welcome

We leave! We have two main issues: wounds, and lack of area-affecting spells. Our rear is secure (as far as we know!) and all we have to do is delay the pursuit. Edgar (having taken a wound to make sure he has the timing right) uses Sentinel’s power to Hold the door below the stair and up we pound, across the portcullis room. We clear the forms out of the way, blessing the fact they are not jammed! Into the chamber full of dead gnolls:

“We’ll want wine! Grab anything you can!” Edgar calls back, as Barky frantically removes our rope from the battlement and looks up into the dusk, assessing the climb up.

Oswald emerges with sausages as well as wine. “These look like human sausages.”

“That’s what’s worrying me!”

“No really, food for men. I’ll take them.”


Away to covert

Once again, but this time very hastily, an order of climb is worked out. Barky scrambles up, finding purchase in near-invisible gaps in the old stonework. He ties off the rope above at roof level and the strong lads scramble up. Thomas struggles in his heavy armour but he too makes it. Edgar and Vert are pulled up and the rope removed from sight. Just in time! For as the Gauntlet and his gnolls swarm out, the battlements are bare.


We hide out of sight of the few arrow-slits that cover the roof. Two or at most three towers overlook our chosen hiding place. It’s not comfortable: chains to prevent aerial assault are rigged across it: but it will be our makeshift campground. Swigging sips of wine and chowing on rationed-out sausage, we rest and Thomas burns his spells on healing.


We stand watch: Belmont first, since he has a spell to learn now. Below, the search rages on. Wargs are dispatched and despoil our packs out on the trail. But there’s no sign of us and the Gauntlet does not think laterally, or vertically. As a basic precaution the gnoll watch on the battlement is increased to three, and non-drinking at that!


A fresh assault begins

Come the dawn after a chilly rest, it’s time to select spells and a strategy. Since Sentinel can open the sally-port, that becomes our favoured option. But we don’t want to leave the rope behind. The knotted rope we scaled up is painstakingly un-knotted. That will allow a double-line to be hitched, then slid down, then pulled down from the bottom.

Oswald descends first with Vert, lowered by the rest of us. We fare badly and they thump down rather hard. Edgar heads down next, and manages it agilely. Belmont eases down safely. Thomas’ heavy armour proves too much for him: he crashes to earth, winded. Barky descends: really he could have left the rope knotted and simply carried it down – he clambers down the wall as though it were a ladder.

And as Edgar uses Sentinel to open the sally port the session ends.



The GM and I later admitted surprise that Thomas ordered the attack on the Calmed gnolls, but he was proved right when that became the retreat path. The fights weren’t really ‘typical’ D&D fights – no-one has power attack and there were no Bless or Prayer spells, for example. Entertaining though, the pace was good and I was surprised when the GM called time. Again crits were few and far between (Belmont got one), but there were a couple of nat 20s on STR checks later in the piece.


All characters are getting near L5, under 800xp away now. At this stage it’s agreed that once the current game is on hiatus I’ll run a 5e one-off which will move to a season if it doesn’t suck.

Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

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.


“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.

Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.



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!”

Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SB1.13: The assault on Fort Champion

The characters for this session:

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


  • 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.


Posted in Slaver Bay | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment