Thursday, 25 January 2018

Let the Music Play, Down at Mongrel Rock

July 20, 3430, Age of Kings

After  arming Grak and Ora-Tok (or just "Tok" as they called him) with some swords, the ventured to the end of the hall and opened doors that led into a large chamber beneath the keep's courtyard, open to the moonlight above through a thick, iron grate. In the middle of the room was a stinking heap of sludge with the odd bone jutting up through its surface—this was the killing chamber for the victim's of Cauldron Keep.

Not wanting to waste any time with the keep's occupants on alert, the party double backed to where the captain had escaped and Grabby eventually managed to pick the lock. They descended down some stairs to the next level that led into a long corridor. They moved down the hall, passed three doors, and entered a large room at the end of the hall. Inside was a grisly laboratory lined with shelves of books, a broken and desecrated statue of St. Eliah, and several wooden tables with various body parts, gore, and the mutilated remains of several mongrel folk—this obviously upset Tok. After a brief look through the lab, the group continued out of the room and down a set of stairs that descended into darkness.

Grak informed the party that it was about a twenty minute walk down the stairs. So the party descended, with Ander far in the lead to scout ahead. Eventually the stone walls and stairs gave way to rough cavern walls and crudely carved steps, and a faint green glow could be seen further down.

When the party made it to the bottom of the stairs they looked upon a scene which none (except maybe Broak) had ever seen: a vast underground wilderness with various mushrooms of all sizes, mysterious incandescent foliage casting the dull green glow, air filled with glowing motes, and the sound of flowing water. The ceiling of the cavern was high enough to be obscured by darkness, with the occasional stalactite jutting out from the blackness.

(GM's note: the rest of this update is being written over three months after the fact, so memories will be hazy)

Following Tok's advice (with Grak objecting, stating it was most likely a trap), the party headed off to the right of the vast cavern, as Grak seemed to imply it was the safest path and they could take refuge in his peoples' subterranean village. As they made their way through fungus and moss laden cave, the sound of human voices could be heard up ahead and the party stumbled into a patrol of more guards.

A melee ensued through a narrowing of the cavern, creating a bottleneck which both sides were reluctant to enter, preferring to attack with ranged weapons from cover. At one point, Ander cast a fog cloud spell to handle the stalemate, allowing the party to rush forward. In an exciting turn of events—

—404 error, exciting battle lost to memory— 
(The only thing I recall is a comedy of errors of characters and NPCs stumbling into one another and cavern walls inside the fog cloud)

—greatest battle of all time!!

During the battle, Grak and Tok and stayed at the rear, when the dust had settled the party returned to find Tok seriously wounded—attacked by Grak—and Grak the bugbear nowhere to be seen.

The party carried on through the caverns directed by Tok, following a stream, passing through a dense fungal forest with a central lake. Eventually he led them to secret passageway in the rock that led to his village.

The cavern opened into a grand chamber, with large, natural stone steps circulating around the cave, with hollows and openings filled with various wares—the hovels of the mongrel folk. In the centre of the chamber was the grisly remains of the village: a large pile of mongrel folk bodies, charred black. As a distraught Tok surveyed the destruction of his village, two more mongrel folk came out from hiding—Mogg and Skogg. The two survivors recounted the events to Tok and the party, a group of men in robes accompanied by a group of bugbears attacke dthe village, killing everyone and taking a few prisoners away with them.

Skogg, the villages greatest warrior told the party that there was a shortcut through a collapsed cave that the party could navigate their way through to get to a ruin where the raiders seem to be stationed.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Unlikely Allies

July 19, 3430, Age of Kings

DM's Note: Due to life being busy it's been nearly a year since we've played, but I'm hoping to get back at it soon. There's one more update that I neglected to post, so I'm going from an almost year old memory on this one!  

As the battle continued in the bottleneck, the guards eventually began to see things weren't going their way, so the wounded captain yelled out to fall back. As the remaining guards ran from the party, Ander managed to fell a few more with well placed arrows, only to see them turn around a corner and out of sight, but the party gave chase fearing they'd come back with a larger force.

Audrey led the charge after the guards, but as she turned the corner she was met with the blade of a guard's sword (a critical hit, if I recall) that dropped her to the floor, bleeding out on the flagstones. As the rest of the party caught up they were greeted by the last of the guards with captain unlocking a set of doors. By the time they party had cut down the rest of the guards—and Broak had heroically dodged passed swinging swords to stabilize the gravely wounded Audrey—the captain had snuck away and locked the doors behind him. Grabby immediately set to trying to pick the lock but was unsuccessful.

Knowing they couldn't catch up to the captain any time soon, they turned their attention to strange sounds they heard coming from beyond a set of double doors where they had just battled the guards. They went through the doors and came to a hall lined with cell doors, four on each side of the hall, and ending in a set of double doors marked with black gunk on the floor around it.

The first door they inspected had a ravenous ghoul swiping his clawed arm at the party through the small barred window in door. The next had a man rocking back and forth babbling—he had clearly lost his mind. They came to an imprisoned bugbear who engaged them, introducing himself as Grakk (a name they heard two other bugbears mention outside on their way to the keep) and telling them how he was imprisoned for murdering two guards, but if they were willing to release him, he'd lead them to a hidden treasure beneath the keep, and he'd take his band of bugbears far away from the keep—he doesn't like working for the "pale skins, doing their dirty work."

This conversation got the attention of another prisoner, a mongrel man—with the head of a bugbear, one leg like that of a giant bird, and a tentacle for an arm—named Ora-Tok (goblin for "bad smell"), he warned the party not to trust the murderous bugbear, and how the bugbears slaughtered his people deep in the caverns beneath the keep, all the while Grakk warned them not to trust Ora-Tok as well. Not totally trusting either one, the party was willing to release both prisoners to help them find their way beneath the keep, but keeping their eyes on both of them for any treachery...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Into the Depths of Cauldron Keep

July 18 to July 19, 3430, Age of Kings

(DM's note: quite some time has past since we played these games, and this is two sessions combined, so I'll be keeping it short)

 Once everyone manage to get inside the sentry tower, they found a lone guard eating a bowl of pottage down below, unaware of the party. The group was also aware of a guard patrolling the top of the tower, as well as at least two more walking the walls.

Quietly descending the stairs, Grabby unsheathed his sword and Mr. Shiney, once he was half way down the stairs, he quietly mounted the banister and leapt off, landing on the guard below—sword first, killing him instantly. The rest of the group move down to meet him and found a single way out: a locked door. After several attempts to pick the lock, Grabby abandoned the task as they thought of another way to move around the keep unnoticed.

A guard entered above from the wall, calling out to the now dead guard, to tell him his shift was to begin (it had just turned midnight). As the guard came down to see why his ally wasn't responding he was quickly dispatched by arrows and bolts.

The party decided to have an illusion created to fool the guard on the roof of the tower, but as Grabby's spell was quite limited, and he had no line of sight to where the guard was (and Boots tried to mimic the guard's voice) things didn't go as well as planned as the guard called out for another guard to enter the tower.

Eventually two more guards entered the tower and the party attacked them from the floor level, but unable to kill them, the guards fled and raised an alarm.

Now that the keep was alerted to their presence stealth wasn't much of a concern, so Audrey picked the lock on the door with a sledge hammer.

The group ran down a dark staircase to first level below the keep. They entered a well stocked kitchen and servery and tried to barricade the door behind them.

Quickly moving into a hallway they came across three closed doors, the sounds of sleeping men could be heard on the other side of each. Accidentally waking the guards by opening a squeaky door, the party engaged the drowsy, and ill-equipped guards, killing them with little difficulty.

 (DM's note: the following is from the next week, when Boots' player wasn't available)

Moving down another hall they came to a room that was a dead end and housed some tables, chairs and decks of cards—sort of a gambling den for the guards.

Before the could backtrack, the sound of several footsteps were heard coming their way. Quickly peeking around the corner, a large group of guards was coming towards them. When the guards realized where the party was, they called out to them to surrender, informing them they were greatly outnumbered.

Naturally, a battle ensued, with the party hanging back in hopes of bottle-necking the guards, with Grabby and Ander hanging back to provide covering fire, while Audrey, Broak and Lorentz engaged them hand-to-hand, and Brother Shamus healed the wounded. (At one point Ander accidentally shot Broak with an arrow, and Grabby tried to duck and weave between Lorentz's legs, only to trip him up).

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Road to Cauldron Keep

July 4 to July 14–18, 3430, Age of Kings

Once inside the church the party was greeted warmly by an elder priest who led them into the main hall. Once inside Lorentz spoke to the priest about Brother Shamus, who was currently in the church's study. While the priest was fetching Brother Shamus for the group, they were led downstairs to a simple dormitory where they could leave their gear before returning back upstairs to the dining hall to have a meal of pottage, bread and wine (and ale for Broak).

Eventually a heavy-set priest came in and greeted the party as Brother Shamus. They laid out their plan to him (without giving too much away) and they enlisted his help after a small donation to the church.

They then went to bed for the night, enjoying the modest comfort and protection of the church.

*   *   *

The next morning, after breakfast, they went out to find their horse and mule fed and watered, and their carts washed. They said their goodbyes to the priests, and set out north up the road with their new traveling companion.

*   *   *

The next few days saw better weather and an empty road. After three days of travel they saw the forest to the west start to become withered and dead looking. Eventually and old road broke off from the main road, marked by several iron cages with the long dead remains of prisoners inside—this was the road heading up to Cauldron Keep. In the distant forested foothills a small plume of smoke could be seen rising from the thick forest ahead.

They made their way west up the old road, although there wasn't heavy traffic, Ander was able to find several groups of tracks, only a few days old moving up and down the road towards the forest. They past by several more cages with their grisly contents, and the occasional sun-bleached skull on a stake along the road. 

As they entered the forest the two elves noticed an unnatural aura about the forest—the trees seemed to be dying, or in a perpetual state of autumn, there were no birds chirping, and there seemed to be no sign of wildlife, but they pressed on.

As they got closer to the keep and the sun passed below the mountains, they thought it best to move off the road and make a plan. While they did this, Ander scouted ahead and made his way to the keep, where he saw the old keep, and a handful of sentries armed with crossbows walking the walls. Not wanting to risk detection, he returned to the group to pass along what he had seen.

When Ander returned the party noticed torchlight flickering between the trees coming up the road. They swiftly moved back to the road to flank whomever was coming up the road towards the keep, waiting for a signal from Boots if they should attack, leaving Gerhardt and the carts back at their camp.

After a short wait a large group could be seen making their way up the road. Leading the way were four armoured mercenary-types armed with swords and crossbows, three bugbears (two of which were pulling a wagon laden with goods, and three tied-up humans with bloody sacks over their heads), followed by 12 filthy, crazed-looking men dressed in tattered robes, all carrying massive flails, all muttering to one another. Ander could make out the bugbears speaking in Goblin to one another about "not trusting the pale-skins," and "asking Grakk what he thinks they should do."

Greatly outnumbered, they decided to hold back and let the train pass by in the dark.

Once safe, the party took their time marching around to the rear of the keep—which seemed to be the least guarded area. Grabby and Ander silently climbed the old stone wall and made their way onto the parapet where they kept low to avoid detection. They then secured ropes for the other to climb up and join them. Once everyone was up they carefully opened the door to the nearby sentry tower.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Bulette to the Head... and Every Other Part

July 4 to July 12–14, 3430, Age of Kings

Our intrepid band of adventurers continued to push on northward down the road in the rain. As they walked the could feel slight tremors in the ground throughout the day, but never seeing or knowing what could be causing them—were they natural, or something else?

*   *   *

As the sun dropped beneath the mountains to the west they headed off the road and set up their camp. Lorentz informed them that in the next couple of days they should come across a road-side temple, The Church of His Eternal Glory.  There, they may be able to enlist the services of a Brother Shamus, a cleric Lorentz had worked with in the past, to join their band.

After eating dinner, the tremors persisted and seemed to be getting stronger. Suddenly a blood-curdling squeal of a boar could be heard off in the darkness. As they grabbed their weapons and rose to their feet, two giant boars rushed into their camp, wild-eyed and full of fear. They came to a sudden stop at the edge of the camp, seemingly surprised to run into the party—but willing to fight their way through them!

Ander backed off to cover to launch a continuous volley of arrows into the boars, while Lorentz and Grabby engaged one, and Audrey and Broak flanked the other, while Gerhardt stood with the pack animals to keep them calm, tied to a tree. At one point Broak dealth a stagger critical hit to a boar, causing him to relive his horrible past, stunning the boar and causing him to scream and cry, falling to his knees briefly.

As they fought on, the rumbling in the ground began to grow. As they were wearing the boars down, the ground shook violently, and the tree the pack animals were tied to cracked, rocked to the side and was uprooted in a cloud of dust and leaves. The horse and the mule were wrenched onto their sides, and Gerhardt was pinned beneath a tree branch and the thrashing mule.

The boars, equally surprised by the sudden uprooting of the tree, were caught off guard and the party slew them both, just as a massive shape emerged from a hole where the tree once stood: a land shark! The beast leapt through the air, coming down with horrible force on Audrey, dealing a massive amount of damage. Several of Anders' arrows bounced off its thick hide as the other party members rushed into the barbarian's aid.

Grabby climbed a nearby rock outcropping to gain height over the beast, but the wind shifted and wafted the delicious scent of halfling to the land sharks nostrils—it's favourite meal! Excited by the prospect of a halfling morsel, it once again jumped high into the air, landing on the rock outcropping, but Grabby managed to avoid the brunt of the attack, and rolled off the rock, and into the shadows below where he briefly hid from the hungry beast.

In his weakened state Grabby moved around the camp in an effort to stay away from the land shark while the others continued the attack. Lorentz switched to his crossbow which he quickly broke the bow string with a critical fail.

GM Note: Audrey's player was also rolling for Lorentz this session, and she rolled miss after miss, with several critical fails for both characters, leading to much frustration for her that night.

As they wore the beast down it manged to deal a devastating attack to both Audrey and Broak, leaving them bloody and unconscious on the ground. But within moments the others managed to bring the creature down, and they managed to finally help Gerhardt get out of his tight spot between the tree and the mule.
Audrey and Broak were eventually brought around, and had their wounds bandaged and they made it though the rest of the night without incident.

*   *   *

The next two days of travel saw nothing but rain and a grey sky. Late in the day they came to The Church of His Eternal Glory (a church devoted to St. Eliah), and entered past two rigid-looking paladins guarding the front gate...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Giant Battle

July 4 to July 10–12, 3430, Age of Kings

GM's note: this report is a few weeks old in my memory, and it's the second time we played it through. We discovered that gaining advantage while flanking became too powerful during fights with single adversaries. This battle and the next are both do-overs with adjusted rules.

After much squabbling over what to do with the nine-fingered bandit, the group decided to let him wander off into the darkness. But before he could get to said darkness, Ander notched an arrow and let it fly, striking the bandit in the back and killing him.

After even more squabbling, they opted not to search for his bandit camp, and press on with the journey at hand.

*   *   *

The next morning the set off as weather got colder and rainier, and over the next day the rain was they only thing they encountered.

*   *   *

The next day, late in the morning, through the drizzle they could see a scene of carnage ahead on the muddy road. As they got closer they were met by the remains of a very one-sided battle: two bodies violently smashed into the ground, one on top of the other, making difficult to determine right away how many corpses there were. Ander found the tracks of several sheep nearby, and some very large humanoid footprints moving further down the road. 

Ander scouted ahead and found a hill giant resting upon a rock outcropping, happily tearing into the bodies of dead sheep for lunch. He went back and alerted the others, who all decided to attempt an ambush on the giant, while Gerhardt and the carts stayed back.

So they crept through the rain (except for Boots, who decided strolling down the middle of the road would be a better approach) towards the feeding giant. Quickly noticing Boots, the giant stood up to engage the intruder as his allies attacked from all angles.

Ander stayed across the road firing arrows at the giant while Lorentz also kept a safe distance and attacked with his crossbow. Broak and Audrey took a more direct approach (as barbarians and fighters do) and Grabby struck from behind with hit-and-run tactics, while Boots supported with magic from the road.

During the battle, Audrey took quite a pummeling from the giant's stone hammer. Eventually Boots cast a cloud of daggers leveled with the giant's head, keeping his allies out of harm's way. Which eventually led to the giant charging out into the road after Boots.

Eventually, after many arrows, bolts, bruises and cuts, the hill giant fell into the mud, dead from his many wounds from the puny party.

And on the lighter side:

Broak, about to take one for the team... that's just his finger, perverts!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Lousy Dwarf Sentry

July 4 to July 10, 3430, Age of Kings

With their hired help ready to go, the party set out on the road heading north out of Leedshire. After the first day of travel they spent the night in the hamlet of North Leedshire where they decided to carouse and spend some money. Money was won, money was lost, and Broak found himself waking up next to a very large woman in a brothel the next morning.

After Broak met back up with the others, they set back out on the road. The long journey ahead to the area where Cauldron Keep would take about another ten days, with Church of His Eternal Glory being the only point of civilization along the way. The further north they traveled the less frequent they saw other travelers on the road—but it was an otherwise uneventful journey for several days.

*   *   *

On the sixth day of their journey they set up camp as normal and Broak took the first watch. Just an hour into his first watch Broak noticed three rather rough looking men coming down the road towards their campsite. As they approached on said called out, "Well, well, weel, what 'ave we 'ere?" in an intimidating manner—bandits. 

As Broak moved to put himself between them and the camp he noticed several more bandits armed with crossbows creep out of the shadows surrounding the camp (they rolled a very good stealth check to sneak up on the group).

The bandits wanted to take the party's horse, mule and two carts, as well as some coin. Naturally Broak wasn't about to let this happen. Audrey, Lorentz and Grabby were roused by the commotion (Gerhardt remained soundly sleeping). With their crossbows leveled at most of the party, they knew any sudden movements would be answered with a crossbow bolt.

Not wanting to give the bandits anything a melee quickly ensued with Broak making an attempt at the first attack against the bandit leader. Boots remained motionless with a bandit just ten feet from him, but Ander, Grabby, and Audrey leapt into action, risking injury. Even Lorentz the sell-sword rolled over, grabbed his shield and leapt to his feet to combat the threat.

Several bolts were fired at the party and Ander worked his way around the camp firing off arrows at their foes, while Broak and Audrey moved in to attack the leader and his two henchmen. Broak suffered a terrible bleeding wound at one point during the battle. When their numbers were whittled down, one bandit made an attempt to steal the horse and escape, but was promptly shot off by a well placed arrow from Ander. Boots cast a sleep spell which managed to put one bandit to sleep.

Without his armour, Lorentz was taking a beating from one of the bandits but eventually managed to best him with some assistance from the party.

Eventually the bandits and their leader all lay dead—and one lay asleep.

Surrounding the lone bandit with their weapons at the ready they woke up the rather frightened man. The party started to push him for information on the whereabouts of the bandits' camp, which he refused. Eventually this led to Ander wanting to resort to torture, so he cut off one of the defenseless man's fingers to get answers, which made Grabby and Broak feel like this was getting out hand. The nine-fingered bandit then gave up that his camp was to the west, through the mountains in Toln Swamp...

Now I need to read up on alignment and torture.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Dwarven Columbo

July 1 to July 4, 3430, Age of Kings

After dispatching the bugbears, goblins and ogre, the party took a quick rest, and Broak caught up from sleeping in, and Boots decided to head back home (ie: his player was away, and will be for a while). Sweating profusely in the midday sun Broak joined his friends and they headed on to Leedshire.

After two more days of travel in the unusually hot weather (I have a random weather generation system) they arrived in Leedshire in the evening, found an inn, then got some dinner and some sleep.

*   *   *

The next morning they decided headed over to Gower's manor to help track down hi missing item. After being let in they were greeted and offered wine and Gower told them how:

An elf, dressed like a flouncing dandy going by the name Aladnaril, put me under a spell and compelled me to bring him the key. I’m afraid if that key falls into the wrong hands... I had no idea... this whole time...

He then asked a sagely looking old man surrounded by books and scrolls that was sitting at the table to show them an illustration in a book: a goat headed man in robes holding a ceremonial dagger of a nude body on an altar. From the body, three streams of blood flow down the side of the altar, then converge before flowing into the carvings all over the key, out of the key and towards a gaping hole in the ground spewing flames, and dark shaped of demonic creatures emerging.

Feeling this was some sort of Orcus cult at work with Hiller, they knew they'd have to track him down—fast. They continued to feign no knowledge of the key's location as Gower told them he believed the key may still be in Leedshire. The party also questioned one of the guards that encountered the imp the night the key was stolen to keep up appearances, as well as the old sage, to see if there was anything he could tell them where a cult of Orcus may be operating from on the island.

After leaving they discussed where they might find someone in town that could help them. Broak decided to head to a church of Saint Eliah in hopes a brother of the cloth could help. He found a helpful priest who pointed him in the right direction: an old man by the name of Englehart Neff, who once worked at a place called Cauldron Keep to the north—a prison where heretics and cultists were incarcerated and executed for their crimes that now lays in ruin. Broak thanked the priest and gave some coins for the collection plate and met up with the rest of the party and headed to a tavern—where he was told they could find Englehart.

After asking around they found out that Englehart frequented The Rusty Crown Tavern. The quickly found the old man, placated him with food and drink and he told them his story:

About 50 years ago I was soldier who was shipped out here, and my first post was at Cauldron Keep, way up north on the island. It was a terrible place, it’s where all the traitors, heretics, demon-worshippers and the worst of the worst were sent to meet their fates. At the close of the War of the Fiend, many of these ner-do-wells fled the mainland to avoid the purge that was coming and came to Leeds. But, wanting to protect the kingdom’s interests, the military presence was increased here.

The keep was converted into a prison—a small prison, no one sat in a cell for very long. Bounty hunters, watchmen, mercenaries from all over and anyone who could find these vile folk rounded them up and brought them up to “The Pot”—as we called it.

In the courtyard of the keep was a massive iron cauldron, filled with boiling oil that hung over an iron grate. We tossed them in the pot, we poured it on them, we cooked ‘em night and day. Vile odour, it was.

A lot of people died in that courtyard. The captain at the time, Captain Tendler, started stringing up the corpses along the road up to the gate, so the prisoners on their way up could see what was waitin’ for ‘em.

I was there for a good six years, and as time passed we had less and less to feed The Pot with. Then, around 3377, a strange old man purchased the keep from the king. Most of the guards were let go and replaced by this old guy’s guard, me n’ a few others stayed on for another few months before we left of our own accord—there were strange goings on down there.

Last I heard the place has fallen into ruin, people avoid that place, the bodies are still strung up as far as I know, the place reeks of death. ‘Lotta folks say the place is haunted—wouldn’t surprise me.

Now, the old codger that took over the keep looked ancient, and his skin was pale and tight and he never seemed to speak to anyone—except for the head of the guard—and I think it may have been his son, or maybe grandson. That captain, he was a mean bastard, him and that vile son of his... Hiller was his name. Now his son, maybe 10 years old, he’d pull wings off birds, beat dogs with irons.

Some nights we heard what sounded like chanting from deep in the dungeons. Now I was never permitted past the second level of the dungeon, but I heard there a few more that went deeper.

They got some vague directions from Englehart, thanked him and decided they had make their way to the north of the island after Hiller and his men, and hopefully get to the key before he could do anything evil with it. The party quickly assembled their gear, and decided to hire some hands to help them for what lay ahead.

At Mercenary Square they found their old friend Gerhardt, who now had a mule and cart (with ale!) that they hired to join them. They also hired an irritable sell-sword named Lorentz Becken. Once their payments were secured, they headed out of the town up the road to the north in the afternoon to track down Hiller...

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Another Job

June 29 to July 1, 3430, Age of Kings

Eventually Boots made it back home and got himself cleaned up. The next day the group decided to head into West Leedshire late in the day to hand the key over to Captain Hiller. They set off without Broak—he slept in (and so did his player).

When they arrived at the village's garrison they were welcomed in and sent right up to see Hiller. After a brief discussion about why Yarrick wasn't delivering the key, they handed it over to Hiller, who was very appreciative of their success. They celebrated with a glass of brandy, and saw a friendlier side of Hiller that they had never seen before.

Soon after, Hiller wrapped the key in a piece of canvas and handed it off to one of his men, instructing him to "go and get things prepared." He informed the party that he would be leaving the next morning to head north to deliver the key to his employer. He explained that he would be leaving Sergeant Clauberg in charge in his absence, and to talk with him if Ander's bounty problem should come up.

After meeting with Hiller the party headed back home for the night. As they left the garrison, they saw several of Hiller's men loading up horses for the next day's journey.

As they approached their property, they saw a horse tied up outside, and a man loitering nearby. As they got closer they recognized their old friend, Willem—one of Albrecht's guardsmen. Willem greeted the party and then told them why he was there on Albrecht's behalf:

"A friend of Albrecht's named Gower in Leedshire had something very valuable stolen from him the other night, and he'd like to hire you to help track down the thief."

After informing the group that he didn't have any other details about the theft (obviously, the party knew exactly what it was), Willem gave them a small purse of silver for advanced payment on behalf of Gower. Being late, they invited Willem to stay for the night, which he did.

Away from Willem, the party discussed their options and decided to speak with Sergeant Clauberg in West Leedshire in hopes of finding out where Hiller was going, track him down, and steal the key away from him to return to Gower, all without—hopefully—implicating themselves in the theft.

*   *   *

The next morning they parted ways with Willem after telling him they would pay Gower a visit and then headed to the garrison in West Leedshire. When they arrived, they spoke with one of Hiller's men, but Clauberg wasn't there. The guard they spoke with didn't seem to know where Hiller was heading, so they made up a story about a death threat against Hiller and they needed to warn him. But the guard didn't waiver as he really didn't know where Hiller was heading, and informed them that Clauberg would be available later in the day. Realizing they weren't getting anywhere, the party decided to head to Leedshire to speak with Gower.

As they headed east down the road in the midday heat, they came across a broken down and looted cart. The remains of two men and their horse lay dead on the road, butchered. The contents of the cart seem to have been removed, just a few sacks of grain, torn open and leaking their contents remained. Ander quickly found some fresh tracks on the road: several humanoid creatures, larger than a man had slaugthered these people.

Cautiously moving down the road they crested a hill and saw, about 200 yards down the hill was a motley group: An ogre, 4 bugbears, and a giant boar pulling a supply laden cart. Leaving their horse and cart behind, they stealthily moved down the sides of the road to intercept the creatures.

* Please note: I'm writing this two weeks after the game, so this will be a short battle report *

Before  they could get close enough to attack, a goblin leapt out from the roadside to warn the ogre and bugbears about the party's approach (there was a goblin scout ahead and behind the ogre and bugbears, the one trailing them managed to roll high enough stealth checks to avoid being spotted by the players). 

Once they realized they were made, they began their attack. Ander managed to hang back from a great distance (with his faithful dog, Skrapeth) and continuously pelt the creatures with arrows. Audrey dove into the fray, working herself up into her barbarian frenzy to deal a lot of damage, as well as soak a lot up herself.

Boots was able to use his new spell, Cloud of Blades, on some of the bugbears, and Grabby attempted to cast a Sleep spell which was completely ineffective. They managed to bring down the ogre first, but the bugbears proved more problematic. Using some ruins as cover, Grabby played a game of cat-and-mouse with two bugbears, but was eventually rendered unconscious and dying on the ground. Boots had a similar experience as he was swarmed by the goblinoids (and an uncharacteristic move of moving in to help Audrey fight off her attackers). Another goblin archer (the scout that was ahead of its party) eventually made his way back and also engaged in the battle.

During the battle, the giant boar became agitated and took off down the road. Eventually all the bugbears and goblins were also dispatched, but at the cost of Boots and Grabby becoming terribly wounded. Audrey managed to stabilize Boots, and Ander rushed in to save Grabby.

* Please note: Because of people away visiting family, trips to Vegas, etc. the game probably might not resume again until late May/early June/and possibly now July *

Sunday, 17 April 2016

How (not) to Make Friends and (negatively) Influence People

 June 28–29, 3430, Age of Kings

After Grabby got washed up, the party retired to the inn for the night.

*   *   *

The next day they decided to set out and search the town for their contact, Yarrick. Knowing there was a bounty out there, Boots thought it might be best to slip away back to their manor and await his companions. But as he stepped out the doors of the inn, he saw three watchmen making their way down the street, being a 6'7" elf, Boot knew he wouldn't blend in on the street, so he quickly made his way back to their room. 

Grabby and Broak set off to find an armourer to purchase a set of splint mail for Broak (which he would buy with his gambling winnings from the night before).

Audrey and Ander went to The Wealthy Rest Inn in hopes of finding Yarrick, whom they had no idea what he looked like. On their way there, they noticed a heavy presence of the town's watch everywhere, and instead of patrolling in pairs, they were now in teams of three. Also being an unusually tall elf, Ander drew many stares from the watchmen, but none acted on their suspicions—but three watchmen did follow them through the streets to the inn, unbeknownst to them.
After several hours in the tavern, a group of three watchmen entered and stood near the entrance, obviously interested in Ander.

Audrey decided to approach them, they showed her Boots' bounty sheet and wanted to know more about Ander. She gave them very little to go on, and eventually Ander entered the conversation. They asked about "Aladnaril" to which they both claimed ignorance. When asked about where they were staying in town and for how long, Ander spoke truthfully. They gave them each a bounty sheet, bid them farewell and left. Audrey and Ander stayed in the inn a bit longer, discussing what their next move would be.

Returning to the inn, they found the three guards they spoke to waiting outside the entrance, they nodded knowingly to them as they passed by. Returning to the room where Boots was sulking, (Grabby and Broak had already returned at this point) Audrey and Ander entered to warn Boots about the guards outside. 

Casting a glance outside the window, Ander noticed more guards outside on the street—they seemed to be surrounding the inn. Knowing the guards were coming, Boots heroically hid his nearly 7' foot body under a bed as the other discussed what t do next. Just then there was a knock on the door, "Watch of Leedshire, open the door!"

Audrey opened the door a crack to see three guardsmen (not the ones they had met previously) who tried to push their way in, but Audrey pushed back. Realizing she would eventually lose the shoving match she backed away and the three guardsmen burst into the room. They immediately locked eyes with the Boots who was still under the bed. "It's him!" they shouted as they leveled their spears at the party. Before anyone could react, the guard standing in the back drew his sword and leapt forward, impaling one of the guards and dropped to the floor on top of his dead body. The other guard, shocked by the sudden attack couldn't react in time as Grabby cast a magic hand spell to quickly close the door and from under the bed Boots cast an eldritch blast which knocked the guard off his feet... and a blasted a hole through his chest, killing him instantly.

Their guard savior was, of course, Yarrick, who took some time berating the party on their inability to keep a low profile. He quickly informed them the town was on high alert because of Boots' actions, and added, "...should I even ask about the demon that was seen fluttering around the next night!?" He paused for a moment, trying to think of a way to smuggle them out, and eventually asked everyone but Boots to leave and to not draw any attention to themselves and that they would now have to be the ones to deliver the key to Hiller. And they complied. Yarrick went to the room next door and used his watch authority to kick out the patrons within, and moved Boots into their room. Yarrick then wounded himself in the shoulder and explained to Boots that he would return to the other guards and tell them he was alone in the room and attacked them, killing the other two guards, then teleported away. He then instructed Boots to remain in the room until he returned for him later that night.

The rest of the party left the town within the hour, as they were also informed that the gates would be closed after night fall. They managed to make it through the gate without problems and made a safe journey back to their manor.

*   *   *

After dark, Yarrick returned to the inn and smuggled him out the back once the guards in the area had dispersed. He led him down back allies and unoccupied side streets to an open grate that led to the town's small sewer system. He told him to follow the passage north where his contact would be meeting him and expect payment to lead him out. With that, Yarrick wished Boots luck and left, leaving Boots to the dank, dark (and smelly) sewers.

After a short walk in the dark he saw torch light up ahead and approached a figure standing there waiting for him. When Boots came into the torch's light he was greeted with, "Ugh, one of you?!" It was Greenan, the leader of a band of thieves they had had encountered when they were stealing a map for Albrecht (and Ander shot him in the ass with an arrow). 

Greenan immediately got down to business and asked for 50 shillings. Having the money on him, and being physically incapable of challenging the thief, Boots decided to intimidate Greenan into a lower price—which simply confused Greenan, "the price just went up to 75."

That was a price that was now too much for Boots, so he offered him " amazing spider that can do tricks!" (all this time Yattering had been a spider on Boots' collar.) Greenan took the spider and immediately crushed it and pressed Boots for the money. Boots handed over his 50 silver and then claimed poverty. After Greenan pressed him for more, Boots did what Boots does best, and made the situation worse and cast charm person on Greenan—which he was fortunately successful with.

With Greenan now his friend, Boots was led out of the sewer and hoped to continue on his own, but being a loyal friend, Greenan refused to let his friend wander through the wilds on his own. After lying to Greenan about where his home was, Boots resorted to simply running as fast as could away from the helpful thief.