SC1.07: A rocky start to Gnomengarde

The heroes for this session

Grandor, level 1 bard and party face;
Garth, level 1 fighter and party muscle;
Dakeyras, level 1 rogue and party eyes;
and Vlad Ivanov, level 1 human wizard with sage background

The level ones begin 12xp from level 2 and end on 7

A fracas erupts

In the Stonehill Inn’s taproom: Tobe has the temerity to expect the newcomer to pay for bed and board! The newcomer, a saturnine human with neatly combed goatee, shows such lack of humility that Tobe offers red-beard dwarf Travok a night’s free lodging if he turfs the rude fellow out!

The disturbance catches the attention of Grandor and Garth, who have been impressing on Talon that the job of “guide” means turning up for work. Grandor begins making his way over… Dain grabs his elbow and asks him: what about that 25 gold coin for the Mandy-core pass?

Meanwhile after a couple of very ineffectual swipes at the air Travok falls into a deep sleep. “And if you don’t want to share the same fate you’d best keep a civil tongue on your head!” Vlad, the young wizard, bluffs Tobe.

A good intimidate check but Tobe rolls better

But Tobe has seen a good few scalawags and tricksters and suspects this is so much guff. He seems ready to be hostile, then spots Grandor.

“Ah my good bard” Tobe exclaims – conveniently forgetting he is miffed that Grandor missed the holy day and hasn’t performed at all – “please reason with this man!”

Garth is ready as backup but Grandor’s silver tongue is plenty. He correctly spots that the giant ego on this wizard need only be stroked a mite and the young man joins the pair in their corner, soon joined by Dak.

Vlad

Dak has had a brief word with “Pop” Redwald the stable-lad.

Dak apologizes for scaring the lad off, and in turn Pop assures he is not put off from his dream of becoming a ranger like his hero, the veteran Falcon, who:

  • lives north, up in Neverwinter Wood;
  • is a veteran of many wars;
  • guards the trail north-east against beasts and monsters;
  • is fond of wine, and is sure to allow folk that bring a bottle to lodge with him overnight

To background music performed by Galandro and Mayberry the four make some plans for the next job – or in Vlad’s case have the mission explained to him.

XP: lvl2-11 and an Inspiration for Grandor

Provisions

“I’ll need some rations, I had a hard time on the way here,” Vlad muses. Next dawn, he asks Tobe for directions. Tobe has taken a gold coin from Vlad for the night and food, so bears no particular grudge, though he is still a little stiff with the wizard. He directs him north to Barthen’s, the general merchant and chandler.

Vlad meets Barthen, an impressive but distracted storekeeper, and sees Barthen’s two assistants, Thistle – androgynous, maybe half-elven – and Ander – young, scarred, dark haired.

Grandor walks up to the smith’s and pays 5 coppers for two iron shoe blanks.

Dak and Talon are already waiting: the dwarves and Vlad return, check gear and weigh up pros and cons of carrying a full pack. Economy wins out and they shoulder bulky packs.

Then it’s off south-east for Gnomengarde!

XP: lvl2-11, nothing is learned from Tobe or Barthen

An ill wind

The weather is blustery and overcast. Talon makes a decent fist of navigating them along safe trails, and Dakeyras finds a really good camp for the overnight, under a rock outcrop. As Dak sits watch during pre-dawn, the weather shifts, and the morning march is made in a downpour with near-gale winds!

Perhaps owing to this, Talon leaves them on the west side of a stream fed by Gnomengarde’s waterfall. It is a large notch between cliff faces. Here and there, ledges and darkness suggest caverns.

Alas this proves to be an inconvenient place to stop. The party makes a scramble up to a visible entrance, to a roomy cavern as it turns out, where a number of gnomes are yawning and stretching, and campfire traces show that this is a cookout-and-dormitory kind of place. At least the warmth of the cavern helps dry some cloaks out.

Underground cave landscape. Background for cartoon or adventure fantasy game asset for level design. Underground city of dark elves or gnomes, mysterious night cave realm. Vector illustration

XP: lvl2-11, no challenges, no success, probably my fault not hinting heavily enough that characters need to explore a bit around the misty stream, but on the other hand I was kind of happy they had a chance to start at the “easy” end of Gnomengarde so I deliberately didn’t drop that hint.

A comedy

After huffing and sneering about incompetent guards – opposite, across the mist at another cliff face – that ought to have noticed the party, the locals welcome them. But if they want to speak to the bosses, head on through.

A brief round-up of inadvertent exploration:

  • Two deluded inventors, one named Fibblestib working up a “sanity ray” to cure “the king” and the other, Dabbledob, fashioning a straitjacket;
  • A locked door with half-heard gnomish conversation suggesting that some gnomes are beyond;
  • A weird deadly fan system, luckily the off lever is accessible;
  • guards sited at a spot where they are bound not to see intruders until too late.

Of the two guards, one speaks common. His name is Pog, the other is Ullo. Pog explains – though not in a cogent manner – that they must travel in pairs because there’s a shapeshifter in the gnome complex and it’s killing gnomes!

XP: lvl2-9, some good roleplay (which I haven’t done justice to) and challenge success, but not much information gathering

And a tragedy

After more or less proving they can’t be shapeshifters themselves, the party is ushered on to matriarch Factoree. And that’s where the real fun starts!

“Halllppp! Haaaaalllppp!!” Factoree is riding high above a weird multi-stock ballista kind of thing, which is rocking, spinning, bucking and shooting! Each stock is fed from some kind of box sitting above the thing.

Poor Pog has no chance: a bolt pierces right through him and only some deviation through his body saves Grandor behind.

Grandor and Dak, who are right behind Pog, are asked for a DEX SV, luckily Grandor makes DC10, just a bad knock to armor [ie 6dmg]. Dak is fine.

Once Dak gets his new longbow into action it becomes evident that the ballista can be stopped by wrecking the four arms supporting the stocks. Vlad has a try at jamming the whole thing with his quarterstaff, and is flung across the chamber into the stone wall! Ouch! By the time they have all four arms out of commission Grandor has taken a further nick from a rock chip and is in need of some recovery time. And as with a last clunk and heave the ballista stops, and Factoree begins clambering down to thank (?) them, the session ends.

XP: lvl2-7

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