We rise with the yeast (but not, y’know, like an infection)
All is quiet in the Welcoming Wench. Tipped handsomely, Ostler has arranged for us to be awoken as bakers begin leavening their dough; and so it is. We assemble, trying not to clink and clatter in the dark, and steal down the east road to a copse of trees next to the stone wall of a homestead. There, still without a light, we mumble over plans. Then we shake out into an order of march:
Party Order and what’s to hand:
- Grim – 2-hander sword, javelins
- (55′ gap)
- Jimmy – crossbow
- Alex – longbow
- Borrox – mace, shield
- Kendrick – longbow
Our pace is set by the two scale-armored men at the rear [20′] so Grim has time to note any significant tracks in the hard-beaten roadway, and keep a sharp eye out; all of us keep our ears cocked of course. The stream, which runs fairly close to the roadway, provides a muffled background noise at all times.
Grim does in fact pick up the tracks [DC15] of some large beasts, probably of the Dire variety, but decides not to pass this on. It’s better not to delay the march with added fears, he reasons.
Scout the Moat-House! Cunning Plans!
After some two hours’ march Grim reaches a low plateau. Ahead to the left or stream side, he catches the dim outline of a large building set against a backdrop of surrounding forest and hill. It seems to sit in a clearing, and water can be glimpsed around it. He retreats back to the main group and again we make plans.
Our decision is to slip quietly forward on the roadway, drop our packs in the treeline on the far (south-east) side of the clearing, and wait for Jimmy to do some scouting around as best he can. Jimmy’s course is limited to a crescent from the south-west to north-east, for the stream feeds the moat and effectively cuts him off from the north and west faces. He’s taken his time (Take10s all round) and eases back to us.
He’s spotted a couple of possible entry points. Overall, the Moat-House has a shattered superstructure. Its sturdy walls – which if embattled have been damaged to mere ramparts – are protected by small corner towers, and two have been knocked into rubble, allowing an easy jump from our side of the moat. Then there’s what looks like a drawbridge facing the road, and it’s lowered.
We mull it over and kick around a couple of ideas, ranging from an immediate assault to picketing and making the bandits’ lives miserable. Alex decides we should stake the place out for a day and learn the bandit routine before deciding. Grim slips back to the roadway and masks our tracks (not difficult as the hard-packed earth barely shows any) and with Kendrick, organizes a rough-and-ready camp. Jimmy climbs a suitable tree, and we settle to watch.
The bandits look comfortable? That ain’t right!
There’s a courtyard accessed through the drawbridge gate, as it turns out. Impressive stone steps lead up to shattered doors that let into the main hall (in the north-east quadrant of the structure), off which run two wings at 90 degrees, a west wing and a south wing. During the day, a sentry stands watch atop the sturdy rampart around the courtyard. He spends most of the time looking back west towards Hommlet. Jimmy, who is looking down much the same line of sight from his eyrie east of the same wall, realizes that the roadway from Hommlet is entirely open from there, and even the chimney-smoke of the village is visible.
[We begin changing our opinion of the bandits having a spy in the village at this point.]
At any one time, half a dozen bandits enjoy the sun inside the courtyard, but do not leave the precincts. At one period a strapping, swaggering man armored in scale joins them: presumably their leader. There’s a variety of weapons on display, notably a crossbow in the hands of the sentry, but the bandits themselves are lightly armored.
From his vantage point, Jimmy can block out quite a lot more of the Moat-House. The main hall is built into a square tower or donjon which juts out from the main wings; it can be accessed through one of the eastern breaches. The superstructure or top floor of the main hall and south wing is shattered, but the east-west superstructure is not so bad. A large breach in the west wall leads merely into the courtyard. The remaining breach is on the south-east and would give us access to the south wing through a corner tower.
Let’s get them!
We now know the bandits have sufficient food that they don’t hunt or patrol routinely, so it’s to be an assault.
Grim recycles an idea from the kobold expeditions: using a tree to cross the moat. He and Kendrick can maneuver it so the lighter end sits on a rubble glacis, then everyone can cross without worrying too much about falling. Borrox amends this: he’s so clumsy in armor that he would need to strip off first. Grim will prepare it as best he can by working quietly away with dagger and ax-blade, trimming one side of branches.
Considering the options for entry, it seems most likely that the bandits are using the square tower or main hall for quarters, and crossing there might be really good or really bad. Alex and Jimmy vote to assault the south-east breach and Grim, who originally wanted to have a try at the square tower, switches his vote to that one. Borrox and Kendrick agree readily.
The plan is that once Grim and Kendrick have the tree-bridge planted, Jimmy will creep across. If it seems clear he’ll signal with an owl-hoot and Grim will storm the corner tower (quietly) then packs and people can be handed across. Lights are not supposed to be used until we are inside.
What’s that sound?
Grim and Kendrick find the trunk a little less easy to swing over than they hoped [DC8] but after a nerve-tingling minor splash-down in the moat swing the end into place on the rubble glacis [DC19]. Jimmy spots [DC16] a watch-fire in the square-tower’s breach, and quietly warns Kendrick, then crosses. He strains his ears, catching [DC22] a slight movement. He waits. We wait. He crosses back to where we are all clumped nervously around the thick end of our scaling trunk, and reports. Alex wonders if he should sling a sleep spell into the square-tower but Borrox, with his insight into spell effects, persuades him to wait.
Grim shrugs, too late to start thinking now, and crosses as quietly as he can. Alex bravely presses after him carrying a pack. Grim scans the ruined corner-tower with his darksight: it’s mostly full of a really big snake! Sluggish with the cool of night, it barely moves. Grim attacks!
Surprise round: Grim hits AC12 for 9 damage.
Round 1: Alex drops the pack carefully (it has our oil-bombs in it!) and moves slightly to allow more people through. Jimmy runs easily along the trunk, and tumbles spectacularly right through the melee [DC25]! He’s in a small-ish room, rubble-strewn. Grim swings again and the snake drops dead.
Scout the interior!
We assemble and re-equip in the rubble-strewn room, which is at the south end of the south wing. A centrally-placed passage leads out of it, past three part-open doors, to the main hall.
Jimmy, with Grim shadowing him but staying in cover as much as possible, scouts the rooms, finding them empty and abandoned. He and Grim emerge into the main hall. The square-tower is accessed off it by means of a door, and Jimmy can hear muffled snoring from beyond it. He checks: it’s not locked. The shattered main doors are open to the courtyard, and out beside the drawbridge gate there’s a sentry, sniffling and farting in the cold night air.
Grim and Jimmy sneak back and we all reassemble in the south room. Our plan practically writes itself, but we decide to scout the interior more, in case the leader has himself a fortified room or some kind of animal guardian.
The other three make their way cautiously into the main hall as Jimmy and Grim finish scouting the other wing. There’s a pantry and cellar stairs down; a few musty dusty rooms – one containing some broken trophy heads – and at the west end, impressive double doors that are closed. Jimmy steals back to the trophy heads, picks a couple of antler tips, waxes them with a candle, and slides them tight under the double-doors. That should give us some time to execute our plan, even if the leader is keen to burst out at us.
Assault! Bandits Down!
Alex, whose ears are keen, catches the sounds of a sentry who’s had enough and is knocking off. Jimmy, alerted by this, peeks out at the moonlit courtyard. Sure enough, the lone sentry is sloping his crossbow and drifting back up: he’s already at the steps!
Surprise round: Wasting no time, Grim rages, charges down the steps and chops the guard in two [Crit, 27 damage]. The unlucky man has time for an alarmed squawk, and his crossbow goes off with a clatter.
- Bandit leader
Jimmy whips to the door to the square-tower, and flips it open while standing in shadows beside it. There are eight bandits inside, struggling out of bedrolls or already moving!
The leader, who sleeps the light sleep of the guilty, rushes out [half-move] armed but unarmored, and is back-stabbed as he rushes heedlessly [missed Spot roll] past Jimmy [AoO for moving out of threatened square, hits AC14 for 10 damage].
Borrox yells “Die!” at him but he shrugs off the Command [DC13, makes 18]. Borrox steps prudently back to a ruined stair up, protected on all flanks.
Alex scurries around to the shattered doors clear of the leader’s reach, and gets line of sight into the barrack-chamber: he flips a Sleep spell in and is rewarded: half the bandits slump down again! [Rolls 7HD effect, DC14 to resist]
The remaining bandits, unused to fighting arcane tactics, exit en masse [half-move] without attempting to revive the others. One finds Jimmy lurking and stabs at him, but misses [Jimmy is AC17 vs a dodged target].
Grim [rage round 2] spins back on his heel, charges back up the steps and through the doorway, bringing his great sword down on the leader, and felling him [rolled 3 but rage boosts attack to +8 and charge pulled the AC up to 13, just enough, 18 damage].
Kendrick charges from his rear position, lays one bandit down, then cleaves through to another beside him, felling him as well!
Round 2: Jimmy takes his man on face to face, killing him [8 damage]. That’s the last bandits awake so it’s all over barring the murdering. (Which is promptly and efficiently performed by Jimmy.)
Looting! Smiles galore!
After we strip the dead and pile up obvious loot, Jimmy makes a more thorough search of the western double-doors, this time with light, and also explores down the cellar steps. The double-doors lead to a chamber occupied by a large (at least dog-size) lizard. It looks annoyed. Grim decides not to fight it at this stage and the doors are closed again. The cellar steps lead down to a door, but it’s been blocked – probably on purpose – by piled up rubble and bricks. Jimmy can hear rats. We decide to leave it, for now.
Jimmy’s meticulous search of the blood-reeking barrack-chamber in the square-tower reveals two things of interest, a secret cache in the rubble glacis, and a secret door in the exterior wall. The latter apparently hasn’t ever been opened by the bandits, and lets onto stairs leading down. Handy! We close it again and Jimmy throws a little dust around so no clean-up crew can find it when we aren’t here.
The cache contains a chest or coffer, and a couple of bales of cloth under that. Jimmy uses bedroll strips to haul the coffer away, then opens it (after due precautions). Borrox uses a halberd to flip through the bales – they seem valuable and contain no traps or menacing wildlife. Jimmy sets out the contents of the coffer: around 40lb of copper coins in a sack, a crystal-ware set, and four longbow arrows.
Grim and Kendrick have dragged the bodies out and down to line the road-side. We’ve piled up the general loot. We have a gold chain off the leader, 30 gold coins and 130 silver, two heavy crossbows, a light crossbow, two halberds and a short spear, three javelins, two swords, two short-swords, a hand-ax, and a mace. Borrox upgrades to a heavy crossbow and Kendrick selects a halberd. Alex runs a Detect Magic or two over the collection and as expected the arrows are it.
Heroes return! The drinks are on us!
We retire to Hommlet, Grim loaded down with a pile of loot and he and Kendrick carrying a makeshift stretcher bearing the remaining loot. Alex (and Jimmy) reports back to Burne. He congratulates us. It seems that so far, we haven’t found anything that the village might claim back off us. We have yet to find the silver statue.
Back at the Welcoming Wench we slap 40lb of copper on the bench and tell Ostler the bar is open to all until our tab is used up. We know that even if the traders are dodgy it makes little difference so we’ll try to sell the loot there.
We agree we’ll head back to the Moat-House in a day or so, but for now, we revel in fame and glory!