Once more to the Moat-House
We fall in – or rather, the standing militia of Hommlet fall in and we straggle over to make sure Rufus knows we fight for gold, as Grim puts it.
“Remember – seven gold each hobgoblin we kill” – Grim
“That’s an arrangement you have with Garrotten” – Rufus
“No! Burne agree to pay seven!” – Grim
<shrug> – Rufus
The militia are piling ladders and planks into a small wagon. The men are commanded by two sergeants. Nine of the militia have a polearm of some sort, and seven a bow or crossbow. Stores and ammunition ready, they listen attentively as Rufus addresses them. Alex notes that Rufus commands their respect. After he finishes, Rufus calls for questions: they are few and he answers them precisely.
Rufus walks over to us and implies that it would be good to get advanced information about the Moat-House. Grim agrees, and he and Jimmy leave their pack on the wagon and jog through the forest in a long shallow loop, coming out roughly where we left our packs the first time. Grim can spot a glint of sunlight on armor atop the rampart, and hear a command in a goblin dialect.
Rejoining the marching column, they update Rufus who devises a plan with Hoxley and Troy, his sergeants. Hoxley is a sturdy type, with a long flail; Troy a more dashing sort with gleaming sword and well-oiled crossbow. It seems Rufus plans a pincer on the gate-house and west-wall breach. He and Hoxley will assail the breach, Troy will hold awaiting the signal to press an attack. Rufus moves back over to us.
We sort out a few details – Borrox’ nit-picking mind being useful for ensuring we don’t become the column’s forlorn hope or decoy – and move off the road, Grim and Kendrick carrying a ladder and Alex and Borrox a plank. Our job will be to attack one of the eastern breaches, at the same time the western breach is assaulted. We arrive at the place we have decided on – the south-eastern breach we used on our first assault on the bandits – and Grim looks skeptically at Kendrick’s vast load of gear.
We assault now!
“You want take spear? Bow? Shield? Pack?” – Grim
“I’ll have to leave the bow, Kord dammit, and I suppose, the spear as well…” – Kendrick
“I hold spear, toss it in ahead, then we climb” – Grim
Grim leaves his own pack and axe, Jimmy does the same. Borrox is by far the worst climber but with a ladder and plank he’s pretty confident.
Grim dashes back west to let Troy know, and rejoins us. He and Kendrick heft the ladder and set off, Alex and Jimmy aiming across the clearing at the breach and walls.
- Alex and Borrox – reset to top
- Jimmy, Kendrick and Grim
Round 1: Jimmy, who has been ready to shoot, nails a hobgoblin defender as Grim and Kendrick slam the ladder down. Grim tosses the spear across.
Round 2: Alex and Borrox weave unsteadily across the clearing with their plank. Grim storms across the ladder, catches sight of another Hobgoblin defender inside the ruined tower and hurls a javelin with devastating effect! Kendrick follows, hunting for his spear but with sword and shield ready. Beyond, in the gloom of the south chamber, four armored Hobgoblins advance, long spears thrust out aggressively!
Round 3: Alex and Borrox cross, the latter unsteadily, the former singing. Jimmy follows once he is sure Borrox is safe. Save for Kendrick, we all have some cover, either from the concave tower interior or by hiding behind Grim. Grim tries a second throw but misses the Hobgoblins. Kendrick scabbards his sword and neatly flips his long spear up from the floor into his hands, swinging his shield back. The Hobgoblins advance as a phalanx, but fail to punch through Kendrick’s sturdy scale coat.
Round 4: Alex ceases singing, shoots but misses. Borrox, with little to do, loads his heavy crossbow. Jimmy throws a dart into the phalanx and [crit] brings one down. Kendrick misses with his counter-thrust, but Grim rages, and charges to slash the head off a heavily-armored Hobgoblin [two AoOs miss]. The two survivors bark at each other, and turn their attention to the new threat – but Grim’s chain is enough, even with his defenses reduced by his berserk fury.
Round 5: Alex lines one up in the melee and drops him, Borrox moves into the south chamber then left along its south wall: he spots a small group of ghouls advancing down the passage from the Main Hall! Jimmy moves to get a line of sight and takes a shot with another dart, and even at the longer range, scores well [8 damage] on one of the lead ghouls! Kendrick drops the last Hobgoblin, freeing Grim who rages on down the passage and drops the wounded ghoul. Through the arrow-slits in the south chamber can be heard horns signaling the general advance!
Round 6: Alex moves to get a shot down the passage but misses, Borrox advances and Turns the three ghouls, sending them into an immediate withdrawal back into the Main Hall. Jimmy does not attempt to pursue: he moves to peer through an arrow-slit and warns the rest of us of a cleric type, retreating from the steps into the Main Hall! Kendrick hustles from the south chamber up the passage, though he cautiously slows his pace at the last and peers warily into the side-chambers. Grim pursues the ghouls and puts down another, though the remaining pair break free and retreat away to the pantry-and-cellar exit.
There’s no sign of the cleric, so the big fellow turns on his heel and bounds over to the entry doorways looking into the courtyard.
There, Troy’s men are stuck at the gatehouse under heavy fire and stern defense, while Rufus is fighting his way through the remnants of a western defense with a few of his men still standing. Hoxley is on his feet, but appears to be out of the fight. Grim charges the exposed rear of the gate defense…
The Moat-House is Taken (again)
The fighting is soon over. Several militia have been gravely wounded and must be carted back to Hommlet. Hoxley was blinded by the evil cleric. Borrox helps stabilize the fallen ready for transport, then rejoins us where Grim is munching his post-rage snack and swigging his post-rage wine, and Rufus is studying the rough map of the cellars that Alex drew him. It’s time to plan how to attempt the lower level, and ask ourselves if we want to.
“Borrox – you think evil cleric low on spells?” – Grim
“He will have used a few. If we rest, he’ll have a lethal array again when we start out” – Borrox
“Best get after him then” – Grim
“Let’s try not to make a complete clus^%$%*ck of it” – Borrox
In between bites and swigs, Grim explains how the cellar steps run and suggests Rufus’ force makes a demonstration while we sneak down the secret stairwell. This works easily, for it turns out that there is no defense on the cellar level, and the cleric is nowhere evident. Jimmy has fetched our gear so we can choose to load up. Which, saving Kendrick’s longbow and Borrox’ heavy crossbow, we do.
Grim races back to the steps and tunnel the Hobgoblins had been using to access the cellar level. He scans the dust, looking for fresh tracks. Sure enough, the naked feet of two ghouls and booted feet of a large Hobgoblin lead down the steps and away along the right fork. Pursuit is joined! The militia bring up the rear.
Tunnels zig and zag, leading at last to a largish chamber. Grim takes a minute to get his bearings [Intuit Direction Take10=DC15] and gazes around. There are three doors along the south wall of this chamber, and another tunnel leading west. The tracks lead to the eastern or left-hand door in the south wall.
Grim signals Jimmy forward to search: Jimmy finds a trap and patiently disables it. The militia begin filing in: they’ll have quite a few things to check in our wake. The door open, we see a closed door immediately left, and a tunnel directly south, which then forks again. Grim checks the area thoroughly, for this looks a good place for the cleric to try throwing us off the scent. And sure enough, though the trio passed through the left-hand doorway, the cleric returned alone and set off south. We follow his trail, along the eastern fork, and at last up and into the forest.
We close in
We press on after a brief discussion about balancing tracking with speed and armor. Grim still has to track at half pace, which is full pace for Borrox and Kendrick.
“He is carrying something heavy – and he knows we are getting closer” – Grim
“Something heavy eh?” – Alex
“Probably the statuette of silver” – Grim
“That’ll slow him down” – Borrox
“He’s speeding up” – Grim
“Gaah! Is there a way to cut him off?” – Borrox
“Ground slopes away here: he go down slow. Maybe we go straight to low ground” – Grim
So with the majority in favor, we fall in behind Grim who lopes easily through the forest, leading us down to where a slope becomes a clear dip or gully. Though scrub-clad, it is not choked with scrub or bramble. Jimmy and Grim catch a distinct cracking of underbrush: we have him!
Silently, Grim signals a surrounding tactic: he will go long, next Jimmy, next Alex, and Borrox and Kendrick will march straight in, shields up.
- Hobgoblin Cleric
Round 1: Kendrick slumps to the ground, snoring soundly. Grim is a round away, so far as the others can tell. Alex, alerted by the noise of the spell-casting, spots the cleric’s place of concealment. It is amongst scrub offering both some cover and concealment, opposite Kendrick and Borrox. He calls the direction to them, looses his bow and misses. Jimmy veers towards the indicated spot. Borrox kicks Kendrick.
“Wake up, man! There’s evil to be rooted out and burnt!” – Borrox
Round 2: The cleric mutters some fresh malediction or enchantment, while Kendrick gets up, Grim swings his pack off and begins lighting an oil bomb, and Jimmy adjusts his position slightly upslope, shoots and misses. He doesn’t miss often, so this is a little disheartening.
Round 3: Realizing he is about to be overwhelmed, the cleric moves swiftly upslope through the scrub and closes with Jimmy, swinging a massy iron club! Jimmy’s sturdy leather jerkin saves him from what would surely have been severe damage! A splash of burning oil sweeps over the area they both occupy: Jimmy easily moves aside and the cleric skips out of the way as well. Jimmy stabs his target, and tumbles away. Borrox and Kendrick are now close enough to the fight to close next round, and Alex has nocked a magic arrow to his bowstring.
Round 4: Advancing up out of the gully and at Grim, who is now ready with greatsword, the cleric misses again! Grim’s return slash is deflected by the cleric’s half-plate armor. Alex advances a few feet to get within point blank range again, looses and thanks to the magic arrow, hits! [8 damage.] Jimmy races in opposite Grim and stabs beneath the half-plate [12 damage]. Borrox and Kendrick are able to close, but not attack. Jimmy, Borrox, Kendrick and Grim are now arrayed in a semi-circle around the cleric: but he is not fully contained yet.
Round 5: Casting [defensive] Sanctuary on himself, the cleric walks off past Grim. We all fail to wrest our will away from the compulsion not to hurt our foe.
Round 6: With a muttered charm, the cleric seems to revive somewhat. Kendrick and Grim run at him, but are unable to charge – the effort of forcing their will preventing the extra impetus – and miss. We are beginning to work all the way around him: he is virtually trapped now.
Round 7: Jimmy is laid low with a heavy blow [14 damage, Jimmy is at -5] but Kendrick stabs through his heavy armor [8 damage], and Grim moves opposite Kendrick and smashes through as well [18 damage]: the cleric is down! Borrox moves to stabilize Jimmy.
Round 8: Jimmy is stabilized on -6 and we make sure the cleric stays dead.
Loot! Glorious Loot!
Grim backtracks the cleric easily, and we discover where he hid a somewhat cheap-looking silver statuette. We prop it next to the corpse while we rest and swig wine (or water in Borrox’ case). Alex still has a Detect Magic spell up his sleeve, and determines that the cleric had a magic armband, and the breastplate he wore was magical, but nothing else. We take those, and his mace, his pouch with 90 gold and a large gem, and a necklace of gemstones.
Back at the cellars we find the militia has done its job, searching out and destroying the ghouls and seizing the armories. Next day, we return to Hommlet walking beside a wagon, courtesy of Rufus, with the Ogre’s chest and all the other loot (including the scruffy Ogre cloak), and with Jimmy flat on his back. But riding in a small wagon is a lot better than being dragged by the heels, as the ghost of Ulf would testify.
Alex shows Burne the statuette.
“We’ve found that statue you told us this place might want back. As a favor, how about using your powers to Identify the magic gear we got?” – Alex
Burne is amenable, and we discover:
- The scruffy cloak is a cloak of Elvenkind, +10 to Hide
- The armband is a talisman against Holding
- The breastplate is +1
Alex also appraises the gem and necklace and raises his eyebrows. This is serious loot, especially the necklace. It will need a city to find a market that can afford it, but it could be worth up to 15,000!
The big smoke, Caltaran, beckons!