The characters for this session:
- Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
- Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
- Barky, southron
- Edgar, wizard
- Oswald, halberdier
- Vert, cooshee
- Hodd the muleteer and
- Siward the guard;
- Jenny the mule and
- Bess the mule;
- Niamh and Glove AKA Sentinel
- Dietrich the evil
Part one: Mother wants her lair back
Threads in play:
- Having overcome Lavinia’s stockade but found her absent, seek to kill her and any of her brood.
- Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers at Fort Champion
- Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard
- In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy
- Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor ‘north of the sculpted river’ to cure her lycanthropy
Lootin’ and waitin’
After the initial full search – which takes perhaps an hour – Thomas gathers us and directs our energies against the Owlbear. Edgar wonders if perchance we can use the Owlbear. But has no idea how. So with arrows and bolts the Owlbear is laid low.
Which suddenly shifts the GM from not worrying about bolt expenditure to tracking it in detail. At the end of that, we have 10 between us.
Now, to the ambushing? Barky wonders, not for the first time, should we not simply set on our way once again? But no! For as surely as spellcasters love their spellbooks, Lavinia or ‘mother’ to her minions will be hot on our trail seeking vengeance.
We pace the grounds and try sightlines from atop the mound. Eventually Thomas elects that all four hefty types will wait behind the gate, and therefore Edgar sits near the mound entrance, watching them. The lake, which shelters the rear of the stockade to some extent, must needs be rearguard too. The rest of the expedition, since brought inside, waits in a length of tunnel near the residence-chamber, but not so near it that a sneaker tracking into the mound will bump into them.
It is a sufficiently long watch that all of Barky’s enhanced strength and endurance has gone. [Barky makes a good wilderness check, Edgar a mediocre one] But at last, the attack begins! Under the fitful gleams of a westering sun, and distant soughing of trees, running feet are heard clockwise of the gate. [Notice checks are all pretty good, 15 upward to 24]
Thomas extracts a Heat Metal scroll from its tube.
“Do we run over there?” Oswald mutters.
“Yep” Barky responds, gesturing vaguely.
“Whaddya mean ‘yep’ – is that a yes or no? Belmont asks, reasonably enough.
“Well someone should – there are four of us here” Barky offers, without being specific.
Four humanoids, half-orcs by the look of them, clamber swiftly over the stockade wall some hundred feet clockwise of the gate, leap down, and run towards the mound.
Initiatives: Oswald, Barky, Belmont/intruders/Thomas, Edgar
As Barky sets off apace, all three others in the ‘gate’ team follow him.
Later Barky is cross, but if the culprit is the GM, who is counting quick spoken interchanges between players as rounds, and moving his attackers each round, that’s notionally unfair but not unfair in practice. Since none of the waiting characters have line of sight, no real decision can be made until the attackers show over the stockade: so the GM’s process washes out as more or less fair. Blame player indecision. We generally expect Thomas to set tactics but have no battle caller. Possibly the GM could have made it clearer, given excellence of Notice checks, which character had the right to say how many approached and from where; and which character had to wait to be told.
His swift pace carrying him ahead of the others, Barky lets rage fuel his thews, powering into a mighty sweep with his sword. His target, a similarly mighty-thewed half-orc, eludes the swing somehow.
[It’s a convincing attack and the likelihood of this being an illusion as well as a diversion is present in Edgar’s mind, and he passes that thought to Thomas]
Oswald lunges his halberd at another but he and the other two half-orcs also evade the attack, dancing away and jeering. Belmont skids to a halt and doubles back towards the gate. [Spot is poor – he can make out the gate] Glancing over his shoulder, for he too suspects this to be a diversion, Thomas continues in his course towards the fight. Edgar scoops up three prepped oil-bombs and runs towards where he believes Belmont will end up.
Oswald’s next trip attempt is also evaded. Barky [who does not make good Will SV] continues his berserk attack! Thomas, [Will 22] having warned the other two with a bellow: that it is indeed an illusion: begins returning to the gate, casting a suspicious eye around the compound.
Belmont stops within charge range of the gate and concentrates, bringing up Detect Evil. Edgar joins him, and begins lighting a candle.
Oswald grunts with frustration and as Thomas calls ‘they may be illusions’ [makes good Will SV] laughs sourly at being gulled, and begins returning. Thomas’ bellow has cut through Barky’s focus and he doubles back, speeding away from Oswald and past the heavy-armoured cleric. Belmont cannot sense any evil, and accepts an oil bomb from Edgar, who lights it from his candle.
Three or four new intruders leap down from the stockade, counter-clockwise from Belmont, and two of them are sturdy, and well-armed. Belmont waits ready to throw as they come in range. The others join him. Edgar lifts his light crossbow and looses: a bolt bounces with slight harm off the largest target, an axeman. [So far Edgar has yet to do more than 1 damage with any one shot]
Oswald moves between Edgar and the newcomers. Suddenly, acid splashes near Thomas. He notices its trajectory [good spot check] and points up the mound:
“She’s up there!”
Barky has already charged at the newcomers and the raging thews of the southron power his mighty greatsword through the axeman’s armour and deep into his flank! Belmont hurls his oilbomb, and its fire catches on one of the two lighter-armed figures.
“I got one!” Belmont shouts gleefully with a note of surprise in his voice. He draws his sword and advances. But not quick enough to protect Barky, who is flanked by the two powerful warriors. The second, armed with a bastard sword, penetrates his defences and cuts deep. Two lighter types, including Dietrich (who is the non-burning one) move past that melee and towards Thomas and Oswald.
Thomas is still 75′ back from them, so keeps pace with Oswald and casts Bless. Edgar fires a bolt at Lavinia, narrowly missing, and also catches up to Thomas.
Lavinia moves downhill, perhaps in order to throw a support spell, and is surprised – then alarmed – to see Barky suddenly rocketing up at her! The southron, taking another heavy cut from the bastard sword as he does so, breaks off his melee [Mobility boosts his defence] and runs full at her, ramming his greatsword right through her chest!
Belmont finds himself in melee with the rogues, but his armour is enough to deflect their daggers. The axeman shouts with grief and anger and runs at Barky. Oswald and Thomas close on the Belmont melee. Edgar drops Dietrich with a Sleep spell, and adjusts his position to keep his team between he and sharp pointy things.
Barky yanks his sword clear and with the last of his rage counter-charges the axeman, and again his blade drinks deep. The axeman staggers, trying to keep his guts in, then collapses.
At the melee, Belmont ignores the rogue and fends off the bastard sword. Thomas casts Doom on the swordsman. Edgar weakens the rogue with Ray of enfeeblement: Oswald trips the weakened man and he and Belmont slaughter him as he tries to roll clear. Barky walks tiredly down to the melee. Belmont uses Smite Evil to deal a deep cut to the swordsman – his first wound. Seeing the man who killed Mother arriving the swordsman lunges and again cuts deep into Barky! Thomas gets to a better position and slams the swordsman with his mace [which is now rated at +2]. And finally, Oswald trips him and the swordsman is slaughtered.
Meanwhile Edgar has retrieved his quarterstaff and whistled for Vert. He walks up to loot Lavinia. While he recovers four useful or valuable items from the corpse, Thomas heals most of Barky’s hurts and Belmont takes care of himself.
General looting takes place after Dietrich is tied up securely. Thomas has made it clear he won’t tolerate simply killing the rogue. Later a Detect Magic finds that the general loot contains an enchanted dagger and leather armour set.
[Dietrich is offered a choice of a quick execution, or coming back to face Commandery justice.
Thread closed: Lavinia’s stockade.
New thread: Bring Dietrich back to face justice, so long as he behaves himself.]
But that is the next day. The remainder of the day is taken up with thoughtfully disposing of the bodies in the lake, and a good meal of barbecued puma where victory is celebrated!
Part two: A kindly visit before battle
Through the woods on the trail west
The expedition sets off early and makes fair time under clear skies. There’s a hint of spring in the air, and the woodland trail – which is a genuine trail now – affords the chance of cover from any spying aerials. As best we can, we keep under that cover.
Dietrich is tethered to the rear mule, Siward rear of him. Siward’s armour is better than even enchanted leather, so Hodd wears the leather. Oswald has the enchanted dagger as a reserve weapon.
Towards dusk we come upon a good campsite, backed onto a rock face.
Night camp passes uneventfully. Until the dragon shows up.
“Oh…. hello there!”
Barky, who is on watch, controls his first emotions [Will SV] as a large creature, atop the cliff, stares down.
“Oooh – adventure time!” Barky yells.
The dragon scrapes its wings through the descent and seats itself at the fire.
“Greeting to you, O dragon. To who do we have the honour of speaking?” Edgar asks, introducing his circle.
“I am Kingsley, often known as the Kindly.”
“There must be a story to go with that, O Kinglsey.”
“Indeed there is. I’ve been stepping about, seeing what passes here after an absence of some time… what is it you are doing about here? …Fancy a drink?”
And with that the copper-scaled dragon produces a cask from somewhere and broaches it. Edgar thanks him and dips his mug in. A robust vintage. Belmont, who has been Detecting Evil this while, also sups, and then so do the others.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on things, perhaps have nodded off a bit, and they have changed. So, what’s your business?”
Edgar attempts to determine what span of time Kingsley refers to, and Kingsley cracks some lousy riddle-jokes. Which explain nothing, except that Kingsley prefers low-brow jokes. Eventually and with respect Edgar explains our purposes.
Kingsley is helpful, particularly in clarifying that the Hextorite Fort Champion is built over the old Pelorite temple that is Niamh’s best chance of a cure. He gives a general estimate of man-numbers and a vague explanation that hobgoblins live in a level below. He also reassures Thomas that the temple has been long out of occupation by Pelorites.
Altered thread: Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy
Since Kingsley has hinted that an older evil now wakes, Edgar retells a brief version of Bertran’s tale of the Glove and Gauntlet. And yes, that is what Kingsley means. And he knows what travels on Niamh’s hand. As a kind of reward for this, Kingsley enchants Barky with Levitate so as to get a birdseye view of the Gann-mouth, and tells an actual joke. (Still low-brow though.)
Then turns invisible and departs.
Barky’s view has given a much better idea of how bridge, Gann and Fort fit together. The bridge is perhaps a quarter-mile north of the fort, which lies on a foreland or low bluff at the western side of the Gann-mouth. Having exchanged some ideas on this, and ruled out going back for the keelboat, and also ruled out using Charm Person to get Dietrich to help us, we finish our sleep.
Dawn of the assault: across the Gann
The following day is just as good. Kingsley estimated 5 miles to the enemy: we use the trail to near forest edge, tether off Bess and Jenny and Dietrich (the latter, gagged) and leave Hodd Siward Vert and Niamh there, and move to the forest edge. Thomas reminds us of the Calm Emotions tactic.
Barky slides forward to the bridge, finding it unattended. It’s a modest-scale trestle, the uprights and guard rails allowing some cover.
We cross, cloaked to muffle glinting gear, and one at a time so as not to draw idle eyes.
The trail on the west side is heavily rutted by supply wagons. The woods here have been picked over for fuel. Stealing south, we come in view of working parties, working at the beginnings of a proper palisade around Fort Champion. The workers are mainly goblin, with inevitable hobgoblin taskmasters, and some humans. Two work-shacks stand on site, which in turn must be a good hundred yards away from the fort. And as we prepare for assault, the session ends.