Jimmy hears a hoot?
Having sold off the heavy mundane gear in Hommlet, we walk through the day south to Garrotten. Why Garrotten, when we mean to go north to Caltaran? There are two reasons: first, Pelor will pay us bounties, and we don’t know that we will be alive when we pass that way again (as Grim puts it); second, Alex has a Gnome ring and we know there are a couple of Gnomes in Garrotten. Of course, at our pace (donkey speed) night falls well before we reach the village.
- Alex (he has to sing to himself)
- Jimmy (breakfast duties)
- Borrox (he has to pray)
Not long into his watch, Jimmy catches Blossom the donkey moving restlessly north of the campfire, and possibly something else [DC18] to the south. That way lies an arm of Gnarly Forest, and the wind soughing in the trees could mask stealthy enemies. Jimmy nudges Grim awake and explains. Leaping to his feet the big fellow, chain shirt in one hand and Greatsword in the other, bounds over to reassure Blossom. The patient beast has not pulled its tether but is definitely nervous, and the wind is from the north. Grim scans back towards the forest:
“OWLBEAR!!!” – Grim
- The Owlbear
Round 1: the 8’ lumbering mass of feather and fur races towards Jimmy! Kendrick seizes his long spear and advances – behind Jimmy. Borrox scurries over (easily as he is unarmoured) to where Grim stands beside Blossom and imbues the Half-Orc with Bull’s Strength [+4, Grim Str=22]. The Owlbear rakes Jimmy with a massive paw [9 damage, Jimmy is on 0]. Alex strides over behind Jimmy and casts a Cure Light Wounds [2 hp back to Jimmy]. Enlivened by this tonic, Jimmy turns tail, flees and (in the belief the Owlbear has no scent glands) drops into hiding! Grim, emboldened by the enormous surge of strength coursing through him, rages, charges, and his Greatsword cuts deep into the beast [18 damage].
A Brown Fluid sweeps over the battle map, leading to the following:
“Well, there goes the f***ing campfire!” – Borrox
Round 2: Kendrick lances his spear into the beast [10 damage]. Borrox advances from his position next to Blossom, and summons a Formian Worker behind the Owlbear [Summon Monster II]. The strange gigantic ant-like being nips the Owlbear’s hindquarters [2 damage]. The Owlbear sinks both its claws into Grim and bites him with its beak as the grapple takes hold [22 damage and grapple succeeds as Grim rolls a pitiful 3 for counter-grapple]. Grim’s Greatsword is useless. Alex touches Grim and casts Mage Armor [a trifle late – Cure Light would have been the right one there!] Under his cloak Jimmy listens carefully, hears no other attackers. Mmm, snug and warm. Grim draws his dagger and slams it home in the Owlbear’s flank [11 damage].
Round 3: Kendrick attempts to join the grapple but is slapped back out by a vicious swipe [6 damage]. The Formian Worker also fails to gain a purchase with its pincers. Borrox attempts to drive the fear of St. Cuthbert into the beast’s soul with a Cause Fear, which fails. He wishes he had asked it to dance instead, for he has taken Spell Focus: Enchantment for his L3 feat. The Owlbear continues its merry munching, [22 damage] and Grim loses consciousness. Alex retreats to his bedroll and picks up his longbow and quiver. Jimmy retreats to Blossom and “reassures” her (while making sure he has his hands on the tether).
Round 4: Kendrick steps back, sweeps his long spear up again, stabs and sinks the spear-head in [8 damage] – and the Owlbear falls! Borrox hurries to stop Grim’s bleeding with an orison. Grim is safe from bleeding out and is on -6hp.
“I had no idea Owlbear blood looked like that! It’s BROWN! and FIZZING!” – Borrox
Krak’s advice: we upgrade a little
It’s good to see Garrotten again. At the statue of St. Cuthbert, we claim bounty for the Ogre, the Orcs, and the unclaimed Hobgoblins. Then we rest and sup up at the Gne’er-do-well Gnome. The barkeep advises Alex that the ring is a Gnome-friend ring, and buys it off him for enough to pay our board (though not Blossom’s stabling or our extra drinks).
Down at Krak’s, Borrox purchases a coat of banded mail. Jimmy upgrades to studded leather. Grim buys a scabbard for the Greatsword, and asks about where magick or masterwork gear could be got in Caltaran. Krak recommends a man named Wright.
Back at the Gne’er-do-well Gnome, Grim discusses hiring a couple more road guards with Kendrick. The fighter thinks it a fine idea, so the pair head back down to Grim-town and Kendrick yells:
“O yez! O yez! Just returned from successful adventure – and need a few good men! Road guards wanted!”
Soon, Grim introduces the three selected to the others up at the ‘Gnome:
“The Dwarf here is Stumm. This is Ginnie, this is Jorge. Boys:
Alex – Mighty singer! Mighty leader! Pretty!
Borrox – Mighty priest of Cuthbert! Cuthbert Good! Burn! Kill!
And this is Jimmy.” – Grim
“Shall I lay in the beers then Mr. Grim?” – Jimmy
Of Caltaran and Calculation
The eight of us march north again and are welcomed by the Hommlet militia. We note that already they are better equipped, thanks to the Hobgoblin stockpile of polearms.
We reach the walled town Caltaran on day three. The lads have done their duty well, and Grim pays them six gold each before we so much as enter the gate. Seeing a cleric of St. Cuthbert with us, the gate guards wave us through. The lads are dismissed with the command to seek us out at a nearby inn.
Caltaran managed to defend itself during the wars. The banner of the Grand Harths flies proudly over the gates. They are the rulers of the town.
Mr. Wright proves to be a general trader. He warns us of two rival merchant houses:
Liebton – out of Dyvers, the next big town;
Nunitz – out of Greyhawk, the mighty city several more days travel away around the shore of the great lake Nyr Dyv.
Rather than value and purchase everything himself, he recommends Know, an eccentric sage with a business line in valuation. Borrox asks about acquiring platinum rings (a vital spell component for sharing damage with Grim) and is referred to an artisan and trader named Twan.
Know the Sage – regardless of our mild suspicions – proves as honest as Wright described him. He agrees to value the goods for 60 gold. (They come to what we thought already, but ‘book value’ on the magic items had to be established.) He also warns us to keep the necklace very secret. We nod: we have in fact kept to this plan already. As to who could buy it for full value, he tells us that in Dyvers:
“There lives one person, the Magister, that might have both will and coin to buy it. Her name is Larissa Hunter, and if you approach her wisely, you may receive full value” – Know the Sage.
At Mr. Wright’s we trade, laboriously. Kendrick wants the breastplate, Borrox the small shield, both Alex and Jimmy the Cloak, and no-one wants the armband (Phylactery vs Hold Person). Borrox has no spare coin after buying the banded mail so has to hope he gets enough from other people cashing him out on their items. But it all works out, after much head-scratching and scribbling by Jimmy. Alex and Jimmy seem about to be contesting the Cloak in a bidding war, but Borrox interjects.
“I didn’t think I needed to point this out but I guess I have to. Alex, your main job in any situation is to use your voice, right? Well, does that seem to go with trying to hide, to you?” – Borrox
The point is settled and Jimmy buys out the Cloak. Alex has little to regret when he sees the size of his share of the coin. He begins planning for some form of magick armor.
With his plentiful spare coin, Grim buys both a masterwork Greatsword and chain shirt. Sentimentally, he holds onto the old Greatsword after Wright talks its condition down, though he does trade in his Greataxe. Alex buys a masterwork longbow, Kendrick a masterwork long spear, Jimmy asks after a masterwork rapier but buys a regular one after it turns out there would be a three-day wait; and Borrox decides against buying a fancy mace.
Grim and Borrox also purchase a platinum ring each from Twan. None of the others joke about Mawwiage, missing the chance for a good laugh, or perhaps a good beating.
We overnight at the Feral Flounder, Proprietor Mr. Emersen (a Gnome again, strange to say). We hire our own room each, common room for the three lads who have by that time already found their way there, and stabling for Blossom.
While Alex listens to then harmonises with the attractive Elf bard, Jimmy takes Mr. Emersen aside and asks about how the underside of the town works. It seems that Emersen is a good, nay ideal, contact for this question!
Apparently there are two factions, the old timers, who saw out the war (robbing the defenders and running the blackmarket no doubt) and the newcomers. Jimmy is warned not to get mixed up with the newcomers.
Provided with this background of two “legal” factions and two “less than legal” factions, we agree that it is best to move on directly.
“I must get to bed. There’s only so much water one can drink” – Borrox
“I hear after the first one, it all tastes the same” – Grim, sympathetically
Dyvers perils (no, just the one, but there’s a bunch)
The road to Dyvers is initially safe, with moderate traffic. As it thins, we look to our order:
Party order and what’s to hand:
- Grim: javelins, 10’ pole; Jimmy: crossbow
- Borrox: crossbow; Kendrick: long spear
- Alex: longbow
- Stumm: Broadaxe
- Blossom; Ginnie: Bastard sword and shield
- Jorge: Longsword and shield
It is day two of our road journey, and we have hopes to strike Dyvers on the morrow. Though there seems no danger, Grim’s eyes rake the surroundings. [Spot 25+2 help=27]
As the Orcs rise from the long grass some 30-40’ away, they are seen, and there is no surprise either side.
- Kendrick (drops to just after Hirelings)
Alex casts Sleep [5 Orcs drop] and retreats behind Blossom’s left flank. He begins singing. Kendrick delays: no point rushing forward.
Jimmy turns, shoots and slays one with his crossbow [9 damage] then steps back behind Grim.
The lead Orc – notably larger than the others – growls
“Wake the fallen!” – lead Orc
And charges the centre of the party! His notched, curved blade smashes down at Ginnie – and misses! Behind him, two Orcs shake a couple of others awake.
Ginnie drops Blossom’s lead from his shield hand and swings his Bastard sword lustily and ineffectively. Stumm steps boldly up with his Broadaxe and connects [3 damage]. Kendrick, who has waited his chance, charges back the few paces needed and spears his target, killing the lead Orc.
Grim, dropping javelins and pole, races across to one of those trying to awaken their comrades, and misses completely with his shiny new sword.
Borrox calls upon the “Hammer of St. Cuthbert” and a spirit hammer clobbers the other active Orc [3 damage].
Alex ceases singing and casts another Sleep, which is just as effective! He drops all but two, who are immediately in front of Grim.
Kendrick charges over but misses.
Jimmy scans the left flank, sees no dangers, and walks swiftly across towards the sleeping foe.
The pair of Orcs still in the fight take to their heels!
Grim races after them, and misses again. But he is in no danger of being out-distanced, and two rounds later, kills the second.
We loot eight gold, 68 silver, and 140 copper coins from the fallen, but do not bother to take their gear. None of us is scratched.
End of the road: Money!
Dyvers is reached on schedule, the lads are paid off, and Alex’s plan to take some four days, work his way into the Magister’s good books, and get maximum value is successful. He sells the necklace for 15,000 gold coins. We divide the money and proceed to look for magick or other special gear.
So ends the first foray into the Bountylands of Greyhawk. Alex and Borrox complete the season about midway to Level 4, with Grim a short distance behind. Jimmy (and Kendrick the NPC) have just reached Level 3. The party intends to shop for gear, possibly as far afield as Greyhawk if need be, and then head south-west to earn more bounties.
So for now: adieu!