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.

Monday, 4 April 2016

A Dirty Lil' Halfling

June 27–28, 3430, Age of Kings

We're back! (Finally!)

Under the cover of a moonless night, Grabby set off with Boots from the inn through the drizzle to Gower's home in search of the mysterious "arcane aura" from the nearby house. Once there, Boots hid himself in a nearby alley while Grabby kept to the allies behind the manor house.

Audrey went out to feed Gerald the horse, only to have him stomp on her foot, sending her limping back to her inn room for the rest of the night (this is also why Audrey's player was away tonight).

After the previous day's theft, security was heightened: two pairs of sentries circled the perimeter, one stood guard on a second floor balcony, and three more walked the yard with a pair of mastiffs. Grabby was able to slip between the shadows and silently secure a grappling hook to the manor's roof and scale to the top without being noticed. He crested the peak of the roof, and in the darkness was just barely able to make out the shape of a large, 30 pound iron key wedged between the roof and the chimney.

Unbeknownst to him, Grabby was being watched by Boots' imp familiar, Yattering, who circled silently high above. He carefully picked it up the key, and rather than try to fit it into his pack, it might be best to toss the key over the top of the roof and down into the alley below, where the mud and garbage of the alley—additionally softened by the light rain—should stifle the sound of the key landing.

What could go wrong?

With a mighty heave, Grabby launched the key over the peak of the roof... and came up short. The key landed on the roof's shingles, breaking some and sending others sliding down the steep roof. The key itself loudly slid down the roof and came to rest on a gable. This, of course, alerted all the guards that something was afoot.

Thinking fast, Boots sent his imp to fly to a nearby home in the opposite direction, materialize and start throwing tiles off to create a diversion. Soon the mastiffs were barking, the guards in the front ran to see the commotion that was happening caused by the imp, while two more headed to the alley to see what the initial disturbance was.

After quickly stuffing they key into his pack, Grabby cast a minor illusion of a woman in the alley below him to distract the guards. Sure enough, they saw her and called after her and began to pursue her. One guard kept on the pursuit, while the other stopped when he noticed the rope dangling from the roof.

Having to move from its rooftop cover, Yattering flew into view over the shocked guards. Dropping their spears and pulling up their crossbows, the stunned guards scrambled to fire at the small demon now fluttering overhead. Stunned by the sight of the demon, another guard in the yard ran for the alarm bell and began ringing it madly. Unfortunately for Yattering, the sentry posted on Gower's balcony was already armed with crossbow and fired a bolt which landed squarely in the imp's chest, nearly killing him. Calling Yattering back to safety and to once again become invisible, Boots began to move down the darkened alley away from the action, all the while listening to the imp's curses telepathically.

At this point Grabby had to keep moving to get away from the commotion, from the din of the guards, dogs and the alarm bell, lights from within homes nearby began to flicker to life, and the yells of watchmen echoed down the vacant streets. He leaped down to the street below, tumbling prone. Once he was back on his feet he made a dash across the street to another alley—hastened by the sound of a guard yelling, "Go get 'im!" and the sound of a barking mastiff breaking into a run.

The Yattering safely back with his master was quickly banished for the time by Boots as he slinked back to the inn to return to his allies while Grabby was left to fend for himself.

Charging down the dark alley, Grabby managed to find a pile of garbage against a wall that he dove into and proceeded to cover himself in filth and refuse to hide from the angry mastiff and his handler. Luckily, the stinking garbage and darkness shielded Grabby as the mastiff ran down the alley and past the halfling. Not wanting to take any chances, Grabby continued to lie in the pile of filth for an hour until the commotion died down, occasionally having to brush rats away that were crawling over him to find a meal.

Eventually he pulled himself up from the rain soaked pile of trash and mud and made his way back to the inn. Once safe inside the inn he was quickly kicked out and told to wash off in the stables—inn keepers don't take kindly to soaking wet, garbage encrusted halflings.

The rest of the party went out to find Grabby stripping down and washing himself in a horse trough, triumphantly telling them the story of how he found the key they were after, and claiming to even sense a "magical aura" emanating from the rooftop (this was role played, and strengthened further by possibly a D&D first—Grabby failed an insight check against his own deception roll to see if he truly believed that he saw a magical aura). Confused by Grabby's ability to sense this arcane force, and fact that the very key they were after was mysteriously planted on a rooftop, the party had a better idea what was going on when Grabby blurted out, "I sensed the magical aura, just the same as Mr. Boots!" In addition, Ander had recently checked a bounty board to look for any new postings and found a fresh bounty for Boots posted, which he brought back to the inn.

This squarely put all suspicion on Boots, along with the bounty sheet Ander produced from his pack...