The characters for this session:
Fennec, L2 Wizard (Combat magic)
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)
Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Hunter, Tracking talent)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Runebearer, Roguery talent)
For those who came in late:
A treasure map has taken our heroes up the Golden River, but tales of young women being seized by hyena-headed raiders sees them purchase another map of the area and set up the Atharva Plateau to clear Grey Dagon Hill of its ghouls (and/or ghasts).
Bats clear, a ledge up leads to a door
By the time they shuck packs and maneuver long gear through the tunnel left, all stray bats seem to have fled out into the broiling heat. Jotunn pushes his torch forward into a larger space and spots a ledge above on his left.
A few easy boosts and lifts sees Crompton carefully checking around a stone door, set flush in the ledge wall, and the other three heroically cowering as far to one side as the ledge allows. Crompton decides to activate the lever he finds and the door unlatches.
A hefty push, it swings up and away. Clearly some clever counter-balancing mechanism at work here.
And that up to a ghoul-haunted tomb complex
Soon, Crompton studies a desiccated wooden door, sturdy in its time but no real barrier to sturdy dwarves. He decides to uses a throw-knife to shave some wood away from the hinges. Ooops! That’s not designed for wood-work, Crompton! [a fail Dex SR sees Crompton take a painful 12 CON damage] Blood drops freely from his hand and an eager snuffling and scrabbling comes from the other side of the door.
[Crompton is bandaged for now, and will have trouble with his right hand, limited to two-hand or left-hand use.]
Jotunn cracks the door with a hefty kick and he and Cauleigh defend the breach against four hungry undead, which tear at them with tooth and claw.
[Setting the tone for the whole session I’m using physical dimensions as part of the challenge, favouring mass attack here.]
With a LF each the pair first defend, then turn the tables and drive the ghouls back into a noxious room, slaying the last in the fourth combat round.
Sparing little time they move on to a fire-trapped vault
The ghouls quarters are too disgusting to search. The four move on within minutes, out to a large, clear-smelling, vaulted L-shaped chamber where packs can be piled clear of guano and ghoul-remains. The only real feature seems to be a chipped stone table just visible round the L. On it, a brown tankard and above it, writing on the vault arches. As Fennec decides it is Elven, he sets off a fire-trap and is badly burned!
And quite unexpectedly, a demon boss
As the wizard pats out flames [11 damage] and Jotunn knocks a few stray embers off himself [2 damage] Cauleigh notices a pair of eyes just visible over the tankard: without pausing to study the situation he hurls himself over the table – to skid to a sudden halt as he realizes that perspective has tricked him – he’s looking at a 9′ tall being much further back!
“I didn’t really expect to get into this so soon… but, oh well…” so says the demon, as flames begin racing over his form, shaking out his immense flaming whip!
[Fennec makes a difficult IQ SR and works out this is a minor demon, speaking all-tongues – he passes this on]
In the combat that follows Cauleigh focuses on dodging [L7 SPD] and Jotunn and Crompton crank up the volume on their contributions, while Fennec goes for an awesome display of wizard power. His Dispel gets the demon’s attention and he is hastily defended by the others; his L4 TTYF does not work, but the demon is tripped and Cauleigh whicks his whip-hand off!
As the demon dissolves back to hell (taking his whip with him) a costly amulet-necklace remains, and so does a silver comb of Elven design.
Ghouls! and a hasty retreat, and a gunne
The Dwarves are at first accosted by a number of ghouls, but block the arch with the stone table. [Good use of provided scenery, a bit slow on the uptake I thought] At first the ghouls are easily picked off with firearms as Fennec rests, then they get some direction from some boss-ghoul (ghast, presumably) and come through a different door. A hasty retreat!
They scramble headlong into an Octagonal chamber and Fennec yells DUCK as a large-mouthed gunne-like device goes off.
[Good reaction from Fennec, the pursuing ghouls wear 168 damage]
Up a tower – this keep is defended by gnome-ghouls!
Scrambling after the small gunner, Crompton expertly [L4 DEX] slides his throw-knife into the door-jamb in time to prevent a bar dropping.
The defenders are all small, not much larger than brownies. But definitely undeadish. But cunning!
[This is a tough nickel-and-dime style advance with plenty of damage being shared round]
Jotunn advances up to receive lead dropped on him, wriggles and is pushed through a narrow port, and he and Cauleigh begin doing real damage in a cross-corridor in what is clearly the main keep tower. Two ghoul-gnomes are slain and the others flee out a sally-port – which Crompton slams and bars. Safe – for now!
It’s been fun, time to go
The ghoul-gnomes mount a hopeless ascent, then shelter in a lesser tower. Given the lack of potable water here the Dwarves decide, once Fennec and Crompton have restored their mana, that it’s worth capturing. They’ve holed up overnight, they’ve made more bullets out of a bullet-mould and siege lead, time to make a move. A daring foray across the curtain wall and an assault down through the lesser tower puts paid to the last ghouls… maybe.
Watered up, they perceive the path away from the keep and since they have all their gear and really need a full rest-up away from ghouls, they take it.
The path to Jacob’s Spur and an onrushing horde – time to be heroes!
There’s still five hours of the new day left as they set out past the small woods below the gulch, for Jacob’s Spur. It’s closer than Ironbridge and doesn’t feature the danger of a haunted keep.
Part way along, Crompton, who happens to be walking on the right flank, catches a sound on the hot plateau wind: he calls the warning.
They drop flat (Fennec in a HH and Cauleigh in one of the very few real hollows here) and their dusty cloaks and canvas are enough to fool Gnoll eyes as a raiding band runs past, flat-out, headed straight for Jacob’s Spur!
[Cauleigh tries a ‘read’ on where the Gnols have run from but gets nowhere beyond ‘somewhere around the plateau or thereabouts’]
It’s decision time! Fennec offers the though that they can easily set up an ambush by back-trailing. But partly based on chivalry and partly on the simple fact they all need rest, the majority vote for running after the Gnolls to mess up their raid.
The marathon and battle at Jacob’s Spur
[I decide that since this is really a CON feat I’ll let Jotunn set the bar. Admittedly Cauleigh has a SPD bonus and Fennec is lightly clad, but I’ll adjust for that as we go. Jotunn hits L9 CON, so that’s what I ask from Crompton and Fennec. Then based on the difference I ask if they want to keep up (negative at the end) or run at their own pace (arrive late). Based on the SPD difference I ask Cauleigh for a L5 CON. I should add, packs with heavy gear are shed as this goes down.]
Jotunn is nowhere near as fast as a Gnoll but he arrives as the fighting is still going on. Two women have been dragged out, men and youngsters are being killed out of hand. Cauleigh is on his shoulder, Fennec – gasping and unable to speak at all – nearby. The pair of warriors put fire to match and let fly at reasonable range. Two hits!
[The Gnolls are unwary, I make it L3 to hit at this stage]
Jotunn’s Gnoll clambers to its feet as the others rally. A boss, wielding a rod or such like, grabs the captives and sends three Gnolls flanking wide around. The remaining six begin running for the Dwarves as they reload. The wounded Gnoll falls and does not rise. Five, and three.
Cauleigh’s caliver fires true but his Gnoll runs on. Jotunn wounds one of the three angling out around.
Well back behind them Crompton gathers that the fun has begun, unlimbers his long arquebus and sets the monopod stand under it. He sights and shoots at the wounded Gnoll. A good hit! [This is Crompton’s first use of his arquebus at farther than short range. I have previously said that it’s better than Jotunns at longer ranges and he gets a +3, enough to bring the shot to L4.]
Then there’s a tremendous crimson blast, red fire reflects off the nearby houses and the attacking Gnolls stop, shocked, as their boss disintegrates under Fennec’s L5 TTYF. Then they run!
Cauleigh and Jotunn race back and help Crompton with the remaining pair of Gnolls. Victory! And as the villagers struggle with the fire and to comprehend their rescue the session ends.
I’m well aware the Dodecahedron 2014 map marks this as Grey Dragon Hill. But Dagon seems so much cooler I went with my first instinct. I used Wizardawn’s Area Builder for the dungeon furnishings, adapted as I felt fit. The Ghoul-Gnomes are pure personal whimsy because I wanted something smart enough to actually rig the traps my generator threw up. They are fun.
My main module, a certain classic OSR module, is successfully embedded, the lads will most likely back-trail the Gnolls next session. Look forward to it!