This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Meet 46, Adv 4.1, 4/14/18

The group finished up the 2nd part of the adventure at this point, coming back to Base Camp richer in coin and experience for their efforts. We've often joked about the "B" team and their lack of skills in the start of this part of the adventure, but after really running them through their paces, not a single person didn't walk away and not feel good about their character and their results.

I also broke my own rule - typically I am a stickler of not going up more than 1 level in an adventure - but the group infrequently plays the B Team and there was so much awarded, that every either went up 2 levels or in each of their split class levels with plenty left over.

What this means is that the "B" team is now solidly 3rd level and can hold their own with the "A" team should need be. They will need to because the next adventure is the "A" team's portion and then if it goes well, the entire party heads downriver to Erylond and Bork Keep to try their hand at long last on entering the Terror Dungeon.

Write up follows:

Healing was dispensed, what little we had remaining, and the group took stock of their situation. It was early, not even 4 in the morning, and we figured since we had the time we should explore some of the rooms we hadn’t gone into or searched in depth earlier. The 2nd floor was accounted for so we started at the stairs and began hitting rooms heading east down the hall.

There were two doors here, one on the left and one on the right. Beyond the one on the left was a narrower hallway heading south. The door on the right was closed but the stink of filth and feces was strong. Sybil was interested in opening it, but was talked out of it since the group strongly suggested it was the water closet and we should just move on.

So it was the left door that we opened and looked in. It was once the keep’s smoking room but it was in poor condition. The rug was dry and discolored, there was a 20” round table surrounded by 4 worn out wing backed chairs, two of them showing old repairs on the head rest part. The wooden humidor on the south end of the room had been busted open and ransacked long ago.

We looked the place over. The curtain on the window was sagging and old. Dizzy carefully peeled back the repaired section of the chair but all it showed was a replaced portion of the cushion behind. The humidor was a loss, but the table, scarred and battered, had a series of crude runic prayers to Odin and Sutur along the inner ring. Hjalgrim lit his pipe and sat in one of the chairs near the table.

The pipe smoked much less than normal and there was almost no ash to speak of. We wanted to bring the table back and spent some time figuring out how to unmount the top from the base before putting it aside to pack up when we would leave.

From there we left the smoking room and went to the hall. Two doors, one at the end and another on the left wall. The door at the end had a foul odor of rotting meat and there were some flies buzzing around it, but the left door was forced open. It was at one point an office, maybe for the Castellan, but had been repurposed for at least 8 kobolds based upon the nests in the room. There was a wooden desk that had all the drawers removed and turned upside down, firescarred a bit as if the kobolds had used it as a fireplace.

Only a few of us entered but we looked through the nests and found a few bits of kobold flotsam however we did turn up a still wax sealed bottle identified as 152 year old Orcish brewed Red Arrow Scotch. Handsome! The rest of the room was of little interest so we left but not before Sybil went to the door with the foul odor. The rest of the group backed away as the Halfling opened it. It was once a linen closet but for some reason, the kobolds have been tossing large chunks of meat in here and the meat was rotting away, covered in maggot and there were hundreds of flies.

She shut the door, gagged a bit, and rejoined the rest of the party. We decided there was zero reason to investigate the closet ever again and moved on. We went to the library next, across the hall from the chapel. The shelves had been ransacked some time ago and the kobolds had done what they could to straighten up the shelves. About a dozen still salvageable books had been placed on one of the lower shelves but on the shelf next to it was a single dark leather tome all by itself.

We fanned out and explored, made sure there were no rot grubs, and started to gather up the books to sell. Meanwhile Thalin went to the lone tome. In Common and what he guessed was Ogrish, it read “Wizard’s Spellbook. Do not Open”.

There was LOTS of test and move and tweak and inspect. A wizard’s mark was on the tome and there was a leather latch on it, making it hard to open. Through some trial and error Thalin managed to cancel out the wizard’s mark through some tracing of runes and sounding out the ogrish word for “open”. So the book can be opened, but we’d get to that later.

We decided that we should put everything in one place to gather up when it was time to leave and the smoking room by the broken humidor was a good place. The books, the table, and even the dulcimer from the music room were moved there. We then went to the basement to look around. It was pretty foul and filthy but nothing was alive down here anymore. The original racking the orcs had used was mostly gone, just some stanchions where it used to be. Dizzy was looking around and did find a 4’ diameter wood and iron round shield (looked like a table) that the Cyclops Slowfeet was hoping to find. So he took it down and the group decided to bring it upstairs with us.

While we were looking through the basement, amidst all the mess, we did find 27 gnawed leg bones that once belonged to Shassismyr the Troll Lord. For some reason, we gathered them up as well and took them along. Upstairs we checks over the last room. There was a dead kobold in one room, rotting away and left alone. There were kobold nests and sleeping areas, and we even found a holy water font that might have come from the temple area at one time.

We took the shield and placed it in the Northwest tower while the group then dug a grave in the Inner Courtyard and garden where we buried Lord Gurunts and placed a cairn over his remains. A ceremony was given and Dizzy laid the long dead orcish lord’s remains to rest. It was almost 7 when the party went up to Lord Gurunt’s room and set up the place to sleep. We replaced the font in the temple, filled it with some water and took a drink – nothing happened.

The group rested and Thalin stayed up, studying and then took a trip onto the roof with the spellbook he found, cast read magic, opened the book safely and took a look. Many of the pages were glue and pulp – useless. But the last dozen or so pages were still good and they were a full of fire based spells. 3rd and 4th level fire based spells. Very nice.

The next day was wet and rainy but Einar let us know it wouldn’t be more than one day. So we dug up more vegetables for us to travel and eat, filled our waterskins, readied packs with everything we wanted to take back, and decided to investigate the floor of the northeast tower where the crows had rooked. It was dirty inside, there were hundreds of glinting coins and shiny things mixed in with years of bird droppings (no one wanted to look, it wasn’t worth it), but just on the inside of the doorway was the red glasslike gem the larger crow had been wearing, along with a matching one on a nicer chain. We tested them out, learning they were clairvoyant gems with one being the slave to the other, and took them with us. The Shaman had been spying through the crow and this confirmed it.

We awoke the next day, Firemonth the 30th early, packed our belongings, and then headed off west to the Shattered City Lake and the Cyclops/Ogre compound like we had promised we would. Only Thalin and Dizzy entered, the rest of the party waiting outside, and they met with Mjarnur and Shassismyr once again.

They informed the two monstrous leaders that the K’Morat threat had been eliminated. They in turn were inform that Jurius, the Gnoll and his party, had been through here and informed the Ogre of what occurred from their point of view. The fact that we took care of the problem only further elevated our standing in their eyes. They wanted to toast our skill and offered us fermented pig’s blood called Froff – which after drinking it, was the sound we made spewing it back up.

On our way out Dizzy sought out Yuntwun and had the Cyclops seer told about the shield he moved from Slowfeet. We were thanked and then went on our way, 4 of the Ogre chief’s Bloodrunners leading and guarding us to the Eskerton Tunnel. We arrived unmolested and then made our way under the mountain until we arrived near Dinka’s tower. The Cyclops was pleased to see us and we stayed the night, sharing news and getting a good night’s rest.

We awoke later on the 1st of Workmonth and took the long way back through the valleys and the cold cloudy day until we saw the double peak top of Furtham’s Peak and knew we were close at long last to Base Camp and Home.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Meet 45, Adv 4.1, 4/7/18

The group was on a small window of time, unbeknownst to them, before the 5 AM wake up and hunt for the party breakfast bell was going to ring. That and the kobolds at the top of the stairs had already slept earlier and were on guard watching (listening) for anyone sneaking up. They are immature, young, but work wonderful in swarms and packs, learning to work together to overwhelm and take down any foes they come across. If the group had waited one more day to finish them off, they were going to be even larger and have the ability to climb.

All good and the end battle was fantastic.

Write up follows:

The group was in the Great Hall and a check for “lizards” with Merica’s helm revealed none in range at this time. The group did not want to hit the hall to the basement until they were sure, 100%, that they weren’t being foolish and not checking any place behind. So the party went first to the long hall on the east wing and took the time to look. The kobold swarms had triggered the trap in here, a series of spears that had swung down from the ceiling on a gantry. However based upon the height, it was safely assumed that the spears would have passed over the kobold-lings without issue.

A look about the hall showed nothing else of interest except for the two archway openings to the south – one which led to the chapel and the other somewhere else. The party wasn’t sure they wanted to explore in detail as it was already after 2 in the morning and we assumed the kobolds were sleeping now but wouldn’t be sleeping all night.

We know we had the armoire at the top of the 2nd floor steps in place along with a heavy footlocker to slow down the kobold’s advance. We guessed there were fewer than 150 of the critters left but no way of knowing for sure. We talked of getting to the 1st floor stairs to the basement area and dragging another table over there to block that off – keeping the 2nd floor armoire as a 2nd place fallback. No matter what, we were going to stay together and focused – not giving the kobolds a chance to surround us or to escape.

Without knowing exactly where they were, we needed some intel. Were they in the basement? For this, Dizzy was willing to take a walk down the hall to the basement stairs and look around. Carefully and quietly he made his way to the corner, and then around again – there were 6 of them at least sleeping on the floor up here. Quietly he backed away and to the group.

Now that we knew where they were (and guessing the rest were downstairs) we wanted to give the east wing a solid once over. We hit the chapel first. The original markings and tooling was all Odin, however the All-Father had an orcish casting to his face and body but that made sense since this was an orcish keep at one point. Since then, there had been some repurposing of the place to include the markings of Frey. However, Frey was depicted in many of the crude pictograms as short and tailed like a lizard. Most likely how the K’Morat kobolds see the god of sunshine.

We gave the place a solid once over, discovering there was a stone headed axe under the altar which we took. A few candles were lit and a short offering to Odin was made, mentioning Frey just to be safe. Feeling better about ourselves we left the chapel and went to the Long Hall to the last room on the right.

It was once a music room and in the center was a harpsichord that was slowly falling apart under the ravages of time. Lord Gurunts was aghast, commenting on the sheer expense of the harpsichord and how pissed off his castle musician was going to be – once again blurring the gap of 123 years between his life and his now unlife. As for the rest of the room, most of it had been plundered but there was still a dulcimer on the shelf and from its condition, it was apparent that the kobolds had been maintaining it and most likely playing it. Weird.

With all the obvious places checked out, we went back to the main hall and decided that we’d make a change. Dizzy and Sybil had gone into the old aviary and looked through the holes on the bottom of the door with their infravision, attesting that there were still kobolds sleeping up near the top. They then went back to the Dining Room hall and took their time walking down to the corner and around while Thalin stayed in the aviary and watched quietly.

There were 7 of the kobolds up here, lying down in a spaced out 15’ area along the area near the top of the stairs. They seemed bigger than they had been yesterday which also worried the group. We guessed there were more on the stairs but didn’t know for sure. What the two thieves did know was that the kobolds might look like they were sleeping randomly, but they did note that none of them were “facing” the exact same way as any of the others – giving them 360 degree view of every approach to the steps should they awaken. Neither of them liked it and they backed up again down the hall and back to the group to let them know that “sneaking” down there was not going to be the answer.

Meanwhile Thalin continued to watch from his dark vantage point and after the two thieves left, the flare around the kobold’s eyes in the infravision range let him know they had opened their eyes. The closest one lifted its finger and tapped the ground with a claw twice, slowly and deliberately.

Fuck.

The elf got up slowly, noting MANY heat signatures creeping their way up the stairs to the landing, and then raced across the aviary back to the party who was just getting the difficult news from Dizzy and Sybil. When Thalin let us know that the kobolds were up and had been waiting for US to come to them, we left the great hall, ran down the eastern wing and took the stairs to the second floor. We took up a battle line at the armoire with Sybil standing on the box to sling and Merica at her side to support her – the front was Einar, Lord Gurunts, and Hjalgrim with spears out and ready.

The sound of racing cicadas grew louder and then the wave of kobolds hit the stairs and charged towards us. Flasks of oil went flying and set some of the back rank on fire then sleep spells shot off. Spears swung and arrows flew and kobolds died by the singles, pairs, and four count. But they were older and bigger, they hit the armoire and from the back, others were actually flung forward where they hit the top of the steps and clambered up to the barriers surface in an effort to push us back.

Through it all we also had a look out the door and the other wave of kobolds, at least 40 of them, hit the Bailey and charged for us. Dizzy and Percy pulled up the ladder while they massed under the Solar and started to climb on one another.

Hjalgrim had another bad run of luck and struggled to avoid falling into the mass while Einar and Lord Gurunts hit the kobold front again and again, spears slamming out in sweeping waves knocking the younglings free. Sybil was slinging until she was forced back where she fell with three of the kobolds on top of her. Merica grabbed one of them off of her, body slamming it into the ground and crushing its face while another struggled to EAT the halfling’s fingers off her hand!

Einar had Bruce circle around and join the struggle as Sybil, Merica, and two..no now three! Kobolds rolled and struggled and grappled with one another. The giant Bat only added to the chaos as the Halfling and the dwarf were going wild trying to keep from being eaten.

The kobolds were hitting hard but we noticed that there weren’t as many as we feared and their numbers were whittling away as our hit points dwindled. The pile outside was disrupted by dropped rocks and burning oil but Thalin suggested we let the group amass and get closer to the top and pick off the outliers.

The battle was wearing us out and the kobolds actually had Sybil’s fingers in its mouth, chewing on them as she screamed and bashed and twisted. Hjalgrim was getting healed from Percy and the press of kobolds was barely held. Einar had been raging, his spear slamming out in cracking waves back and forth. And then the decision was…let’s push the 220 lb heavy assed armoire DOWN the steps and onto the kobolds packed on the other side of it.

Brilliant.

It tipped over and crushed a dozen of the kobolds on the other side, and then rolled down the flight where it got hung up on the corner wall. The three heroes hit the stairs with weapons flashing while the rest of the party finished up the few kobolds still at the top. With the armoire once again as a barrier, they faced off again against a dozen kobolds and hit them hard.

As for the group outside, a well-placed set of spells and burning oil collapsed the pile, killing many of them and the remaining 20 charged out of the Courtyard and back into the keep – heading in our direction. The group relined themselves on the stairs, almost out of spells and equipment, and then struck out at the last wave of kobolds who hit the barrier. We were bleeding out fast, painful wounds were rampant and then Lord Gurunts fell!

And since the plan worked once, we decided to do it again. Before Einar’s raging strength finally ended, the barbarian half-orc shouldered the rickety armoire and send it crashing again down the stairs where it rolled over a dozen of the kobolds killing them. We then tore into the last of the ankle biters and with a flurry of spears and swords and finally killed off the last of the kobolds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Youth Meet 14, Adv 1, 4/15/18

The youth group continued to do the town adventure thing – and today they made some inroads on their own on to the discovering of the Order of the Kraken as well as branching out and making contact with the thieves guild. There was a lot of LARPing at the table and some good times were had by all.

Write up follows:

We decided to split up before going to the Reguirin Demesne and take care of our own investigation for now. Deja, Valerie, and Veldryn were going to make their way to the Merchant’s Quarter and poke around to find the Thieves Guild while Magnus and Talion would go to the docks and see if they could come across the squid markings of the Order of the Kraken on their own.

The girls left the Saucy Winter Wench and wandered south and west through the merchant district. The blocks were long, the buildings tightly spaced, and the age and time had them rocked slightly on their foundations, choking off the sky above and plunging the alleyways into shadows. The group stayed with Deja who was looking at the mouths of each alley, looking for a marking that would identify the place as a meeting house for the local thieves guild.

She stopped outside of a two story inn called the Resting Frog. Convinced she saw something on the wall, she inspired Val and Veldryn to follow her in and look around. Upon entering, we noticed the place was a bit smaller than the Saucy Winter Wench, but more interesting – it seemed to be a demi-human establishment. There were dwarves and gnomes, Halflings and half orcs, elves and half elves – no humans.

We made our way to the bar through the Common Room of 40 odd patrons and took a seat where we spoke with the bar owner, a gnomish fellow named Markle McDickle Nickle. Some order for water, wine, and ale followed while Deja was Canting about the possibility of the thieves guild. Markle hand waved it away and commented no but had one of the other barbacks get the drinks.

While the drinks were being delivered the barback motioned to Deja in Cant about south while Markle made some inane comment and conversation about a decent flower shoppe on the next block run by a woman named Ygrette Stolis. Gathering the clues we stayed and had some more drinks until a group of three half-orcs near the east wall were watching Valerie. One of them got up and made his way over, crudely attempting to flirt with Valerie and failing it. Identifying himself as Aetar he was a bit intimidated by Valerie and Veldryn was not helping the situation by supplying information to Aetar who grew pissed off and then Valerie stormed out of the Resting Frog to sit on the front porch and wait.

Deja and Veldryn finished their drink, made some small talk with the patrons within while the druid waited outside. However, while she was sitting in the over-sized chair, a half-ogre woman over 8’ tall and 400#s came over and asked Valerie to move. She was Grael, the half-ogre bouncer for the Resting Frog and took some pity on Valerie, talking to the somewhat na├»ve half-orc. She explained about orcish whistles and was surprised that the druid did not have one. Letting her know that she hadn’t the luxury of a mother figure, raised by the druid circle since she was small, she was instructed to go to Anour the Toymaker’s and get a whistle there. By this time Deja and Veldryn came out and the group made their way south.

Meanwhile, Talion and Magnus left the Saucy Winter Wench and went off to the docks. They stayed at the end of the 1st dock and looked out. Each of the docks, the four of them, stuck out some 120’ from the shore. Larger boats were at the end of the docks, smaller rowboat and single masted boats were closer to the shore.

While they were standing there, a pair of dwarven longshoremen pushed past and made their way to a boat on the dock, loading up what seemed to be a small cargo of precious wood. The dwarves were watching the paladin and ranger and one of them came back, grew wroth with the pair, and then stormed off to the wharfmaster to complain.

Kurly Lodbrook, the dwarven Wharfmaster came out and hand waved the long shoreman away. He shook Magnus and Talion’s hand and invited them off the dock and to his office to get them away from the docks and “stop pestering his people as they work.” If they have questions, they should just ask him since he knows everything that goes on and off his docks.

We talked for a while about various things, bringing up Dunwater (town to the south of here) and the trade caravans that might or might not go there. We did learn that at least 2 boats had reported they were able to make some money selling swords and axes to the markets at Dunwater which was interest since Dunwater does not have a standing militia or army. But when it came time to bring up the Order of the Kraken, Grabbi Ogansdottr, or the squid sigil – the two party members did not – realizing that Kurly might actually be in on the entire smuggling operation.

They did bring up Ned Shakeshaft but Kurly only knew of an Elric Shakeshaft, a midshipman on some merchant vessel called the Sea Ghost. Relations? Don’t know, but the two men filed it away and decided they were going to take their leave of Kurly and head off south to check out the three warehouses and see if anything turns up there.

Back to Deja, Val, and Vel – the Halfling thief stopped at Ygrette’s Flowers while the druid and priest went on to Anour’s Woodworking and Toy Emporium to look inside. Deja was convinced the lintel of the flowershop had the markings of the thieves guild and she entered. Ygrette, mid to late 30’s human woman, reddish hair, dressed in greens and browns, tending to a number of plants was here, and a younger man (her son?) was lounging just on the inside of the door nodding to Deja.

The Halfling asked about buying a purple flower for a friend and was Canting while doing so, getting a fluid answer in kind. Yes, right place. Ygrette mentioned that an Amaryllis would be nice but they were in the cold storage below. The son went and locked the front door while Ygrette stomped on the trap door in the floor twice before sliding the latch aside and opening it. A set of stairs went down to the flower filled interior and the three of them descended, the young man lowering the trap door behind them.

In the dim gloom a Halfling in black leather, face streaked in greys and white paint was positioned with a crossbow pointed at Deja and instructed Ygrette to give Deja a quick pat down. Every knife was accounted for and no other problems were uncovered. The Halfling then opened a secret door in the shelves behind him and led the four of them into the guild hall.

There were already 8 people here, 3 humans, 2 other halflings, a gnome, an elf, half elf, and half-orc. The black haired Halfling identified himself as Hedagar, the “Father” of the guild. They talked for a while; the guild was small and was a spin-off of the larger guild in Dilabria where the “Grandfather” resided. Deja was made to feel welcome and there were many conversations about her life and past and the guild itself and the members within.

Three rules: Direct orders from the Guild Father are always obeyed. Under no circumstance does any member of the guild work at odds against any other member of the guild. And the guild itself is always protected. In return, everyone works together, the guild is family, you give up 10% of your take of any job done in or around town, you don’t assault anyone who is already paying protection, and guild members will always help train and come to the aid of other guild members no matter what.

Deja was happy and joined right then and there. They commended her on adventuring with a paladin as that was the perfect cover – it makes her and her actions above casual reproach. When it was asked about the party leadership, Talion’s name came up and that led to two of the members getting excited. It seems the Dilabrian Slaver Society had never forgiven Talion for his actions 7 months ago when he brought in an escaped slave for a bounty for a crime committed instead of turning it over to the Slavers.

Turns out the slaver was a sorcerer of some small skill and the numbers guy for a large operation – invaluable. They hadn’t been pleased that Talion opted to place law above the slaver guild wants and had watched him carefully in Karon, expecting to exact a measure of revenge when he would leave the town by caravan.

They did not expect him to board a boat and when he sailed out, no one knew where he was headed off to. So the slaver guild had sent runners to every guild house at every ocean front town from Karon to Reters Trod with a 50 noble reward for information regarding Talion and his arrival. Two members, Elbaus (Human) and Marzina (Half-Orc) had been the contact and let the Deja know what happened. Do they approach the slavers? It’s worth money to Deja and the guild to give up Talion’s location. And it’s not bad for the guild. Hedagar waited to see what Deja’s ultimate decision was.

Deja was willing to pay the lost money for Talion’s information if the guild didn’t let the slaver’s know. This pleased Hedagar who let the Halfling know that it showed good character that he was willing to protect her leader and pay the funds to the guild to keep the secret safe.

Hedagar took 10 of the nobles that Deja gave him and handed it back, telling her to go to the Lost Children of Tyr, an orphanage on the south end of town, and make a donation to the establishment there in her name. Deja was thankful and we talked more. As for the smuggling operation, there was always the Dunwater angle and Hedagar did reveal that some contacts he had had let him know of Lizardmen from the Eider Down Swamp being seen in the vicinity of Dunwater. Was told to proceed carefully. Deja left and headed off to Anour’s Toy Emporium to meet her friends, purple Amaryllis in hand.

Meanwhile Talion and Magnus had made their way off the docks and to the warehouses. They bypassed the one that Rosensteel used and went to the one that Iran Hamanar and the Umbarian Tradegoods used. They took it upon themselves to walk in as if they belonged…and it worked! They wandered up and down the aisles, seeing at least a dozen merchant seals and stamps on palletized and loose goods – but nothing after a half hour of searching showed the Order of the Kraken or the squid seal.

They left and went to the last warehouse and again, luck was with them. A few of the longshoremen gave them a glance, but they were left alone as they entered and took to looking through the back of the stacks. If was while they were looking that they stumbled upon a pallet with 5 casks on it – the markings turned inward but from the edge they could see the squid symbol upon it. Nice. This warehouse was used be Nightsiren’s Tradegoods of which we knew almost nothing about. The pallet was marked that it was awaiting shipment but there was no purchaser or shipper information on the manifest. They two men left feeling pretty good and started making their way south towards the edge of town and on their way to the Reguirin Demesne.

Veldryn and Valerie had gone to Anour’s Toy Emporium where they saw the red hat wearing elder gnome sitting at a bench in the crowded store with other similar dressed and younger gnomes about stocking shelves, working wood, and preparing orders. The elder gnome motioned the two women closer as he finished his carving of a small wooden knight on horseback and engaged them in conversation.

He knew 7 languages and was able to speak a couple words in 15 others. He talked about the orcish way of things with Valerie who admitted her orcish upbringing was nonexistent. He guided her on the way orcs think and their strict adherence to honor and respect for clan leaders and elders. He tried to explain what an orcish whistle was and why it was important for orcish girls to get one on their 16th birthday. Since Valerie had never gotten this information from her mother or anyone else, she was a bit behind the 8-ball. But she did purchase a very nice black walnut whistle in the shape of an oak tree that blew out a 4-note harmonic.

They continued to chat until Deja arrived. Anour was carving the knight for a young man at the orphanage and he often made small simple toys for the children there when it was their birthday or if they’ve just arrived. Deja offered to take it for Anour but the gnome demurred, saying he’s never missed giving a toy to a young child before and wasn’t planning on missing one opportunity now.

It was almost 11:30 when the three women left and headed south to the Lost Children Orphanage and then to the Reguirin Demesne when they spied Talion and Magnus coming from the Warehouse district and called them over to join them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Youth Meet 13, Adv 1, 4/3/18

The youth group had a long trip back to Saltmarsh and then once there, we rolled into a number of LARPing situations where they got to do some town stuff and dress in different hats for a while. And somewhere along the way, a throw-out line that had been delivered 3 or 4 meetings ago came back to roost – as in Talion needed to get laid and blow off some steam. Well, at a table full of 16 year olds is sometimes wont to do, they got crude and pooled some coins together to get the party leader a lady of the evening. And then two others joined in as well. The other half of the party was content to just sit in the bath and soak up the scented oils.

Write up follows:

It was at 9:30 or so on the cold morn of Earthmonth the 17th when the jolly boat left the cove under the abandoned mansion and started the 4 mile trip back to Saltmarsh. Talion, Deja, and Magnus were aboard the low slung single masted boat; Ned Shakeshaft was piloting the craft while Darveig the 17 year old former smuggler and Sanbalet, the ringleader of the smuggling operation at the mansion sat on the floor of the boat trussed up and gagged for the ride. Whatever stolen goods we managed to bring back from the stores under the mansion were included – 12 casks of brandy and 11 bolts of silk.

From the boat the party could see their companion Valerie storming along the ridge and beach north of the mansion, her anger pronounced with every step while the elven priestess Veldryn was struggling to catch up to her taller, half-orcish friend.

The sailing trip back took about 2 hours during which time the feeling was we dock and then go immediately to Sir Archibald Reguirin’s Demesne to discuss our findings and turn over Sanbalet. Ned piloted the boat with great care to the docks where a few young boys helped tie the jolly boat up. Kurly Lodbruck, the Dwarven Wharfmaster came out to talk about our boat and cargo – which for now we wanted to keep quiet about until we could get it to Sir Reguirin’s. So we paid for docking fee and then hired a few longshoremen to unload the boat and eventually cart everything to the Reguirin Demesne. We left Darveig in charge of the operation and the rest of us took the trussed up Sanbalet off to the south end of town and eventually Sir Archibald’s.

At the Demesne they had to wait while the nobleman’s manservant kept the group waiting until he allowed them audience with Archibald. Besides Master Reguirin, there was also the Dowager Lynn Coopersmith, dwarven owner of the largest cooper and barrel makers in Saltmarsh and Pinelaquin Goldenrod, the half elven herbalist and notary public – known to go by the non elven sounding name of “Lack” when given the chance. With Sire Archibald, this was 3 of the 5 members of the Town Council and just the sorts of people we wanted to visit with and talk to.

The party explained their findings at the mansion, allayed the Council that it wasn’t haunted, and assured them that although the party had been through the ringer, ever member was still alive and kicking. We talked about the smuggling and the operation as we had come to understand it, the massive fight at the end, and the capture of Sanbalet. We spoke about leniency for Ned and Darveig and agreed with the council members that the smuggling operation as we had it so far was only part of the situation.

The goods had been dropped off and we talked about the seals on the barrels. The group was expecting that it would tie back to Iran Hamanar in some fashion but was surprised when the Dowager Lynn admitted that had recognized the sigil as belonging to a trade organization known as the Order of the Kraken. They had turned to smuggling and slaving – a practice that was legal in the northern Baronies of the County but not in the central and southern Baronies. Saltmarsh was by location, part of the northern Barony but by law, abided by the rules of the central Barony and the County laws from Cymbarton. So the Council typically tries to follow central barony rules when possible.

The Order of the Kraken had been raided and their leader, Grabbi Ogansdottr, had been tried and hung from the neck about 2 years ago – the organization was then struck down and defunct. How these sigils had been reestablished was a problem for the council and the questioning they had for Sanbalet here had been unanswered and rude.

As for Valerie and Veldryn, it was an almost 4 hour walk back during which time the elf and half-orc eventually patched up their friendship. However as they drew closer to Saltmarsh, Veldryn was concerned that Magnus was going to use what occurred at the mansion as fodder for the paladin to act against Talion or her. She wanted someone on her side to help her out. So she convinced Valerie that they needed to go to the cemetery and see Hjarlod, the Speaker for the Dead and see if he’d be willing to act as an intermediary and support for her.

By 2 they had traveled back to town and then made their way to the Speaker for the Dead. Hjarlod was a bit in his cups but was willing to come with the two of them to see Sir Reguirin and advised them that was a ritual he could do to help ensure the truth was being told. So it was 2:30 when Val and Vel arrived at the Demesne with Hjarlod and met the councilman and the rest of the group.

We all got caught up and then Magnus brought out a letter he had penned during the journey back, reading it to the councilman and the party. It detailed his concern for Talion as leader and the undue influence Veldryn seemed to have on the ranger. There was talk about severed heads and cruelty and enforcing the part of the charter where a leader can be changed should the situation merit it. Hjarlod had cast a Zone of Truth on the area and for the most part, the group was able to tell when a falsehood was uttered – although not all the time. It is for this reason why the Zones are not acceptable during testimony since it can be defeated through luck, guile, will, and magic.

The party eventually managed to reach a point when Talion was going to be more open to listening to all the party members equally and the vote to replace him as leader was defeated 3 to 1. As for Sanbalet, the council was going to select a questioner (torturer) and a Justicar to get some information out of the smuggler and when we do, Sir Reguirin would like the party to follow the findings to the next link in the smuggling chain. We were given 250 nobles as a thanks for our efforts so fat, had Valerie added to the charter, and then by 3, left to head for the Saucy Winter Wench to get a room for a few days.

On the way we stopped at Rosensteel’s Tradegoods and did some purchasing, Veldryn taking the time to but a silvered steel dagger for Deja as a thank you and apology for her actions at the mansion. The Halfling was touched and had just sold a number of crummier knives back – placing the silvered one into her now empty boot sheath.

We arranged for another large room for the party at the Wench, ordering a bath and oils again to scrub the grime and filth off our bodies. Laundering was taken care of and then Magnus wanted to get Talion a lady for the evening – or late afternoon. He requested something different and firm from Pettis, and then in a fit of “what the hell”, asked for one for himself – but specified she had to be a lady. Not to be outdone, even Deja asked if there was a man of the evening she could get and was assured someone would be sent up.

We went to the bedroom where water was being filled into the tub and hot oils added. A fresh cake of soap was supplied and Talion went first, getting himself cleaned. As he was getting out of the tub, there was a knock at the door and a woman in her late teens and dressed rather sluttily in tight leather clothes asked for the ranger. Said her name was Candy and she was here for him. Meanwhile Magnus got himself cleaned quick as a second woman appeared behind Candy, a bit older and dressed in a clinging blue sheath dress who identified herself as Sophia and was here for the paladin.

The two of them left as Deja got in next, following the two women downstairs to the space that was normally cordoned off, and to a room where they said they shared it together and would like to know if that was a problem for the two of them. They assured the two women it wasn’t and they went in where the door was shut, Candy took charge; Talion got some straps around his legs to hold him down while Candy beat him and took him for herself and her pleasure. Sophia was more refined but Magnus was happy and the time passed.

As for Deja, a dwarven piece of beefcake named Hefador showed up and escorted the Halfling out where she too was treated to a 2 hour window of relaxation, excitement, and whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors…for a price.

Veldryn and Valerie paid for new bath water to be brought up and then relaxed for some time before Deja staggered back into the room, tired and satisfied. They had her back in the tub and plied her with questions about Hefador until Magnus and Talion returned – both also tired and satisfied, the paladin glowing and the ranger having a rough time sitting down.

We laughed it off, dropped off all the dirty clothes to be laundered, and then went to the common room to eat, drink, listen to some music, and just wind down after the terribly long day. We talked about tomorrow and decided there were two things we wanted to look into before heading to the Reguirin Demesne, 1) Deja and Veldryn wanted to make contact with the thieves guild if there was one in town to discuss some of the things on the manifests we discovered at the mansion, and 2) the rest of us to make our way to the docks and poke around to see if could uncover any other blazon markings or sigils from the Order of the Kraken.

By the time our meal was done Deja took in a local card game, playing a number of hands until she was up by a large amount of silver. It was when she got up from the table and the players grew angry at her leaving before they had a chance to win their money back that threatening actions were given and the entire situation looked like it was going to blow up. But one of the Deputies to the town Sheriff came over, named Stenthin Gooseberry, and helped diffuse the situation a bit. However, we were dismayed to learn that the loudest complainer of the gamblers was a card shark known locally as “Ehks” and had been brought up on charges of suspected murder at least 4 times before. Always smaller women who had gone missing. Small – like Deja.

Lovely.

We retired to our room by 8:45 and came 10, it was lights out and we rested. Veldryn finished the ponderous tome Metaphysics Math and Magic and even though she understood it, it was a weighty subject that she was going to have to digest for some time.

We awoke the next morning feeling good and by 8:30 had finished our breakfast, prayers, and studying. We were discussing our plans to split up and hit the town and then go visit Sir Archibald and see if he had any information from Sanbalet as of yet by the afternoon.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Meet 44, Adv 4.1, 3/23/18

One of the "fun" dwarven things I've had in my games for a long time is "Fizz Stone". It's a porous rock (like pumice) that when it gets wet, releases air so miners deep under ground can breathe. It's crumbly and easy to break off into whatever size chunk is needed. If a large amount gets wet it can actually make a fairly sizable blast of rolling wind.

Intrepid dwarves have also used it as a propellant in assorted weaponry and tools such as inboard motors, air powered triphammers, and spear throwers. As long as it's in an enclosed space that can be capped off, all that air force has to go somewhere and typically out the "back" end. It is also used in mining to widen cracks and fissures in the natural stone.

So the group ended up 7#'s of it and it works out to 1# is roughly 100#s of force and it goes up 125% for every pound afterwards in the same area - so the 7#'s of fizz stone, assuming it was in one place and got wet, would result in almost 13k#'s of force - enough to knock a pair of Ford F250's on their side. They used it to blow up a Causeway. It rocked.


Write up follows:

The first thing the group wanted to do was to make sure the main door to the keep was closed and sealed, and from the roof we could see the portcullis was down, but the doors under the barbican were still ajar. The fire was not going to go out for hours and we could hear the giant pig inside the keep squealing along with the cicada-like yipping sound of the kobolds.

The parapet led to the barbican and we could get to the parapet from the causeway by the Solar – it would mean crossing over the courtyard and the fire, but it was an option. So we crossed the roof of the first floor to the wall of the second floor of the keep, and between Sybil and Einar, they managed to climb to the roof of the second floor and extend rope down to the rest of the party to scamper up.

Once everyone was safely now on the second floor, we crossed to the Solar and listened. Outside of the fire, we heard nothing else. Assuming that none of the immature kobolds had hit the stairs as of yet, we lowered the rope and set it up so Dizzy, Sybil, and Einar made the trip down to the Solar and then crossed the causeway to the parapet. From there it was a solid run to the barbican and Dizzy climbed down to the Bailey and Courtyard. He entered the barbican and worked the door, digging it out on the bottom, until it closed. We needed a crowbar (run back and get one) and some help holding it inn place, but we got the door closed and the bracing lock bar dropped in place. No kobolds were getting out this way. Sybil dropped the two portcullis and we all scrambled back across the parapet to the causeway and then the Solar.

The rest of the party came down and we discussed options. The kobolds were not here now but they might be soon. We hadn’t heard the pig for a while and we needed to hole up and rest somewhere. The thought was either the “bird” tower at the north east corner, or the original one we entered by at the northwest tower. Staying in the keep was foolish as we’d be overrun at some point.

The group made their way across the causeway again to the parapet and then took it north until we arrived at the tower. The door was closed and we had to work the wire off the handle to unlock it – but when we did the door was opened to reveal the inside of the tower that had a set of stairs going down in a spiral to the floor below and some open area at the top. But the entire thing was filled with bird shit. Like years of bird shit. It was thick and muculent and viscous and trying to navigate the steps seemed like a foolish idea. So we closed the door and decided to cross the long parapet over the inner courtyard and to the other tower to hole up there.

We sent a few of us down to the Courtyard to gather some of the food using blankets and cloaks as bags while the rest of us were up top and kept watch for kobolds or anything else. It was here when we heard some giggling laughter from the woods and a few gnolls were there. Attracted by the column of smoke riding in the air, their leader, Jurius, wanted to know what was going on. We gave some song and dance, and a lot of bullshit, telling about the kobolds and their death and whatnot. The gnolls didn’t buy our words for too long before they asked for some payment to send them on their way.

The group was climbing back up the rope at this point back to the parapet as the gnolls were getting louder and ready to do anything. We effectively refused and one of them charged the wall, making it – we shot and slung out at them and they fired at us – and we realized we were “TERRIBLY” outmatched as their bows were picking us off the wall with brutal ease.

The count was 9 gnolls and we distracted them by saying “back into the keep, now!” meanwhile everyone stayed low under the crenellations as we raced towards the west and the northwest tower. The door was opened and Einar took the roof of the tower, watching the gnolls as three of them had slung hooks and were climbing the wall. Hjalgrim and Percy were the last to get off the parapet and managed to get inside the tower door before the gnolls climbed up and could see. The saw our abandoned food stores below and hearing the comment about “back to the keep”, they wrongly deduced that we had gone down to the courtyard and into the keep. So three of the 9 gnolls stayed up top while 6 other (Jurius the leader was one of them), climbed down ropes and made it to the floor.

They laughed as they went through the food and then went to the keep door and listened. We could see they were excited that there was some noise inside and they assumed it was us. So they opened the door and fired two arrows inside.

And then the kobold swarm started coming out. It began as 15 or so crawling all over the lead gnoll and then swiftly swelled to over fifty who managed to knock one gnoll down and were crawling around two others. Jurius ordered everyone back to the ropes and the gnolls tried to climb up to escaping the ever swelling number of kobolds clambering to eat them. One fell off and was overrun and another one had gotten so badly hurt that was unable to climb and was abandoned. This left 7 gnolls, 4 of them pretty hurt, to climb back down the wall of the keep and flee for their lives back into the woods.

The kobold swarm though was now in the inner courtyard and devouring what food was easily seen there as well as the two dead gnolls. We emerged from the tower and went to investigate. The decision was that Thalin and Merica were going to stop here at the tower and study up spells that we had now expended while the rest of the group took more of these kobolds out.

They were milling about and didn’t seem to have good long range vision because even when we called to them up above, they didn’t seem to be too interested. Dizzy and Sybil ad an idea of a dead crow on some fishing line and we used that as a lure to keep them around while we slung and dropped stuff on them. When the bird got too low, they managed to grab it and a few climbed up so it was a quick cut and we dropped the line.

We had a second crow on a string and some more dropped stuff but the hoard was spreading out and edging away. So it was a dropped flask of oil and a “Raging Fire” spell which consumed a 15-20 bunch and the crowd broke up and ran back to the safety of the keep and out of the courtyard.

With them all inside (100 plus?!) we then talked about what if they managed to climb the stairs and get to the second floor? They could cross the causeway and hit the parapet and then we’d be up the creek. So we wanted to drop the bridge. We took the Fizzstone and then made our way across the parapet to the causeway and then drilled a number of holes along the far side. We ground up the Fizzstone, filled the holes, covered them and then some water was dropped and we ran off the bridge and back to the parapet. The bridge hissed and rumbled and then BLEW up on the far side, the causeway fell over and collapsed to the fire below.

The party all regrouped at the tower and once there the mages finished studying and we all took watch and ate and rested. It was after midnight when we woke up and prayed. Healing was dispensed and we were pretty beat up but game. We wanted to get into the keep and do in in a way that we started on the 2nd floor and made our way down to the first – making sure there were no kobolds behind us and we could deal with the swarm properly.

There was lots of planning but we settled on some good ones. We made it to the Bailey and crept carefully to the area near the Solar. Then using a few of the ladders climbed up to there and we checked out the entire second floor – no one here. We took one of the armoires and a massive wooden foot locker to the stairs to act as a barricade if we needed to once more fall back to someplace and then made our way down. It was quiet, eerily quiet. They hall was empty but dirty and we looked in the chapel and library – both were a mess but no kobolds. In the Great hall we found the massive boar dead and partially lying on and open pit, lots of it eaten away by the kobolds.

Hundreds of tiny bloody footprints did lead down the hall to the same place we originally encountered them. The group was discussing heading that direction to see if they had all gone back to the basement.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Youth Meet 12, Adv 1, 3/23/18

After the last meeting and the tribulations from it, this meeting (besides not a full compliment at the table) was full of character development as well as LARPing around the table. Everyone had their moment to shine and we heard many dissimilar viewpoints to digest.

Write up follows:

The party argued about the problems that Veldryn and Deja’s recent spat had brought to light – what is the ultimate goal, can people be trusted, and what is the end position that one can believe from the others. And it was not pretty.

Deja had Val, Magnus, the young Tyrian smuggler Darveig, and even Ned on her side, while Veldryn had only Talion on hers – but it was a strong position as she was ostensibly the oldest person in the group and the Ranger was the leader. The feeling was that Veldryn needed to back the hell off and remember that there were others in the party.

Since it was already so late in the afternoon, we decided to spend one more night at the mansion instead of taking the jolly boat back to Saltmarsh in the twilight. So everyone except the ranger and the elf made their way, dragging the unconscious Sanbalet, back to the smuggler sleeping chamber in the basement.

As for the last two – their decision to remain behind was not as altruistic as they originally suggested as Veldryn was anxious to remove one of the smuggler’s heads and bring it back eventually to Saltmarsh to acquire one of the many ingredients she had sussed out of the documents and paperwork – Brain Juice. What was it? Was it actually the juice of a brain? No one knows, but how often do you have humans, dead human, just sitting around to harvest.

So between the two of them, they hacked and hacked at the head with Talion’s sword until eventually they had cut enough of the way through to twist and rip the rest of the head off. It was dumped in the large sack, stowed on Talion’s back, and then the two of them casually made their way back to the party promising to say nothing of this most gruesome recent activity.

Meanwhile back at the house, Ned had stoked the fire and swung the cauldron with the stew back over the flames. Sanbalet was dumped on a bed and Darveig was helping to lay out dishes and place settings for the party. This then led to the questioning as to what was going on and what Veldryn was up to. Could she be trusted? She is an elf and they don’t think like normal people, so what is her end goal?

And she has a hold on Talion. Are they sleeping together? No one knew for sure, but the paladin was convinced of it. Either way, Talion needed to be spoken to and questioned what was going on. This then led to the Ned suggesting to the party still here that tonight at watch, we post 2 at a time – and we don’t let Talion and Veldryn share watch and we don’t let Deja and Veldryn share watch.

Eventually the other two returned and we all ate, relaxed, and then discussion turned all over the place. The Saltmarsh smugglers, what was the next plan, taking the jolly boat back in the morning, what was going on in the cave, Sanbalet facing trial, and Deja and Veldryn’s argument.

As the words grew heated and the arguments flowed, Valerie wanted little to do with it so the half-orc druid made her way back to the caves and wandered around until she couldn’t hear anything from inside. As for those inside, it was Magnus and Talion back and forth with one another as the paladin expressed his lack of trust in the ranger and his attitude and decisions lately – offering that if this continued, he would enact the adventuring charter clause that allowed the group to vote on a new leader.

Ned meanwhile had convinced Veldryn that she needed to do more to connect with the group as her actions as of late have been divisive and fostering anxiety amongst everyone. She admitted that she would try harder, actually crying at one point. With things calmer, Ned offered to go and find Valerie and bring her back.

He discovered her – standing by the headless corpse of one of the smugglers. Ned grew upset, saying that it was Johnson and he HAD a head during the fight! Valerie suggested that Veldryn and / or Talion removed the head – but why? What the hell was going on?

She returned with Ned and more conversation flowed about the missing smugglers head – no one admitting to it and the matter leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Watches were divided up and the party got some poor sleep. The next morning we all wandered into the cave after breaking our fast and praying and proceeded to load up the jolly boats.

At this point Veldryn wanted to bring back a dead gnoll. Why? She wanted it – for research maybe. 350 lbs of dead gnoll in a jolly boat already laden with the smuggled goods and the party and Ned, Darveig, and Sanbalet – not a good idea at all. More arguing followed, the group going back to dead Johnson and his missing head and Talion swearing when questioned point blank if he had anything to do with and he said no. Amidst all this Valerie withdrew the Bifrost Crystal, sunk her will into it, and asked Frey aloud if the two friends had removed the dead guy’s head. Frey answered yes and that blew Talion and Veldryn’s trust and honesty out of the water.

Valerie wanted to walk back and not take the boat, the druid confident she could make her way to Saltmarsh easily. Talion had to back pedal to Magnus his last statements and there was a serious back and forth play between the two of them that was not going to end well with the paladin just accepting things as they were anymore.

We had to get back to Saltmarsh. We had to bring Sanbalet. Ned was going to have his crimes commuted with his testimony and his aid to the party. We had to talk to the council and Sir Archibald Reguirin about what we’ve learned. There had to be another half of the smuggling operation – where was the larger boat that either brought or took the smuggled goods?

We left the gnoll, Veldryn ran after Valerie to walk back with her friend and try to mend fences, and the rest of us boarded up on the boat, the single sail was raised, and Ned was taking the rest of the party northward along the coast across the Mastelic Ocean and back to Saltmarsh.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Meet 43, Adv 4.1, 3/17/18

Some time ago I took Platinum out of my game as a viable currency - the argument being that I was phasing to the silver standard, had added a currency below copper, and there was no reason for a currency that high. However, I still had a number of adventures that I used that PP had been mentioned.

So the rounding out of it ended up being 1,000 Brass Bits to 100 Copper Commons to 10 Silver Nobles to 1 Gold Crown. Coins are about the size of a nickle and a bit thinner, 50 of them make up 1 lb. Electrum was purged and that left Platinum. The work around for me was Platinum was the type of currency the noble houses exchanged for value and would never enter the mainstream of purchasing. 10 Platinum Bars would equal 1 lb, and each bar was worth 50 gold each. Platinum bars are stamped and sealed at time of forging so there is a definitive serial number that could be tracked through all the machinations back and forth between noble families.

The Keep they are in IS that of a Lorded Orcish nobleman and I hid 1 real treasure in here - the castle's stipend of platinum bars. The group has uncovered it and there are 28 of them, stamped and sealed by Kaizer Gruuntush Rand. The Orcish empire collapsed due to the dwarven assault 123 years ago so these bars are "open" and uncirculated. But there presence spells a serious problem for the group - they can't spend them in normal places, their presence will attract every thief, robber, exchequer, Reeve, taxman and bailiff everywhere they go.

It represents about 1,400 crowns - a sum that puts them firmly on the "rich" side of things in my world - even if they have to give half to House Illytch.Right now the thought is to keep it hidden and then when given the chance, pass it on to House Illytch and let them deal with the headache. Can't wait to see how it plays out.

Write up follows:

We figured (thanks to Merica’s helm and our own count) that the 1 lone kobold adult in the basement most likely has no idea what’s gone on with us killing the rest of the Warren, and won’t know anything until he is relieved or his shift is over and he comes up the stairs looking for someone else. So we left Einar, Shog, and Bruce here to keep watch while the rest of us went back to the Great Hall and then down the east wing to the stairs on the 2nd floor. We wanted to give the places the kobolds’ had been in a once over to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Sybil gave some listening to all the local doors identifying one of them with a foul fecal odor, another had the stink of a rotting corpse, two were silent, and the last had the sound of clicking and movement within. From the main hall, one door was quiet and the other also had a distant clicking movement – letting us know that this door connected to the other one and was most likely a large chamber.

The group went back to the stair, up to the Solar, and then took stock of the rooms up here. When the K’Morat came out, they didn’t shut the doors behind them so the group took a look from here. To the west, down the long hall, was a single door, closed, with wooden wedges beneath it. North of here were two doors on the left (the first leading to the Water closet), two on the right, and one at the end which is where the Altern had come out of. We decided to hit the northern corridor first and in order.

The Water closet showed us nothing new, but just to be sure, we dragged all the bodies out and into the Solar, checking them over for anything of interest. Most of it was nothing, but the Shaman did have a bag with 4 keys in it, old and tarnished, but still in good repair. There was a smattering of colored stones and little else except for a disk of gold that showed a lizardman’s face, left hand holding up 2 fingers, the other hand had been torn free of the disk.

From the water closet the next room on the left was a bedroom originally for the orcish lords who lived here, but had been repurposed to the kobolds’ needs – with some nesting of assorted trash that would sleep 8. However, the nesting was old, misshapen, and worn as if it hadn’t been used properly in months.

The next chamber was another bedroom and also reused with nests. We did look it over and there was a fireplace in here that we could hear the whistling of the wind above. Hjalgrim was giving the fireplace a once over while the rest of the party poked through the nesting with spears looking for anything of interest. The cavalier lucked out and above the fire line there was a section of stones that rattled hollow.

Sybil lent the dwarf her dagger and he worked and scraped at the stones, eventually pulling them free. Inside the hollow was a rusty metal box that looked like it had been here for over a century. 8” wide, just about 4” tall, and almost 2 feet long – they dragged it free and placed it on the ground. The piano hinge was rusted solid and the lock had long ago rusted away. The cover didn’t lift free and some oil went to trying to help, but had no impact.

Dizzy took over at this point, borrowing Sybil’s dagger from Hjalgrim he worked the blade in and out of the metal box, breaking the rusty metal and prying the lid up bit by bit as he did so. The dagger became scratched and nicked but the cover eventually popped off and he sheepishly returned the now damaged weapon to the open mouthed Sybil who muttered, “You owe me a new dagger when we get to town.”

The interior of the box had some folded dark cracked leather that was pulled apart – to reveal 28 orcish stamped and sealed by Kaizer Gruutush well over a century ago platinum bars. The monetary street value was over 1,400 CROWNS. However, although platinum was valued tender, it was not “legal” for commercial or mercantile purchases – limited for value exchange between landlords, land holders, and royalty. 99.9% of people never SEE platinum, to say nothing of 28 bars of it.

We closed the lid, eager and gleeful, wrapped the box closed, and then made an express decision to dump this into the lap of House Illytch as soon as possible to get this potentially dangerous haul off our hands quickly.

With much better spirits we went to the next few rooms, giving them a solid look over but outside of finding the arm guard of the missing (and eaten!) Randari Ranger that one of the K’Morat had brought back here as a memento, there was nothing else of note discovered in the rooms. This left the one chamber with the wedges under the door or go back to the 1st floor and eventually the basement.

Sybil was voted to go and listen to the door, and she was able to hear movement from within – slow and dragging and it sounded like breathing. We chanced to knock on the door and ask if whoever was there needed help, and the knocking followed back. We established 1 and 2 knocks for yes and no, got a few questions asked, and even had a “shave and a haircut, 2 bits” reply knock at the end. The thought was whoever it was was intelligent, honest, and willing to talk with us. The fact that it was communicating with us was enough to spur the group on to opening the chamber and seeing what was what.

Sybil kicked the wedges free and with care, opened the door. On the other side was the fleshy skeletal remains of what was once a fairly large orcish individual. He was wearing red and blue ragged raiments and sported a 5’ tall marble pedestal. The two of them stared at one another while we took in what was once the Master Bedroom of the Orcish keep, now long ago worn out. There was evidence the shutters had been nailed in place from the other side and the room was sealed closed.

Sybil and the orcish skeleton stared at one another and then there began a series of pantomimes where the Halfling was offering to help the undead and the undead was pleased at her offer. There was no malice, no evil, and the telltale signs of necromancy around walking corpses was absent from this one. He did try to speak often, making breathy sighs and working his jaw, but the dried and rotted flesh of tongue, pallet, and throat didn’t allow anything to be made.

For her efforts to help and getting him to understand that we needed his help killing the kobolds, he gifted Sybil with a livery shirt from his armoire that a page or squire might wear, and then tapped the busted end of a broken sword on her shoulders. From there he followed and we did the same. He stopped in each room and made moans and sighs as he saw the wreckage and destruction that not only time had wrought, but the kobolds had done as well. His boney fingers traced broken glass and other busted pieces. At the stairs we had to brace him as one of his legs was lame, the bones twisted, so we went on each side and helped him to the main floor where he once more was just stunned at what he was seeing. Hjalgrim gave him a weapon to use instead of the busted blade and for that, the undead orc made the motions of knighting him as well.

At the main room the thought was to take him to the clicking movement sounding room and take a look and the undead guy made signs that it was an aviary and not a problem. We had a hard time getting him to understand the sheer passage of time and his own faulty memory, especially since we could get him to talk. At this point Dizzy thought and performed a mending on the dead guy’s tongue and he was able to speak. It was growling and rough sounding but we were able to talk.

He was Lord Gurunts Irontusk and was the lord of Irontusk and the surrounding lands. We retired to the dining room where he wove a tale that was 125 years out of place. The dwarves had declared war on the orcish people and were eating babies and raping their women, killing them all when Kaizer Gruuntush ordered a mustering of 50 able bodied warriors from every keep, holdfast, town, and village. Lord Gurunts was please to muster 60 and sent them over – three of them his own sons – two from his first wife, one from his second.

As word from the war came back and it was poor, the orcish people were growing despondent. Lord Gurunts had made a pledge during the Woden’s Day ceremonies that he wouldn’t rest if the day came that enemies took over his lands and keep. He made the oath and the people rejoiced. Then that night word came of his 2nd wife’s child’s death and as she was screaming at him, he tried to get her to relax and when that didn’t work, smacked her to calm her down. She was stunned at that and he took her mewling as being receptive to marital relations. So he did.

He came to briefly after sleeping it off to find her stabbing his repeatedly in the chest with a knife and then he felt nothing for a long time until he “awoke” to find anklebiters in his keep! His guards didn’t answer his call and he noticed the sad state of his keep and body. He fought hard and pushed his way out of the room but there were too many and the anklebiters forced him back to his chamber where they wedged it closed. Then they sealed him in from outside and he was forced to wait. Many many days have passed, he doesn’t sleep, eat, or rest – and has been waiting for the chance to get free.

We gave him VERY broad strokes as to what’s happened; let him know 123 years at least have passed, and that we needed his help to clearing the keep of the last kobold and all the young in the basement. He agreed and we then went through the keys we had taken from the Shaman, Lord Gurunts giving Sybil the key to the Armory – one of the locked rooms over here. Inside though was NOT the orcish weapons he was hoping, but 20 stone axes and 70+ spears. As for the room with the clicking, it had 3 fire beetles within so we closed the door and went back.

A tour of the Gallery followed and he showed us how to turn off the spear trap, Lord Gurunts describing each person in the picture (including one of himself) and some history of the land and the people who lived here over a century earlier. We did ask him eventually if he knew Lysil and he wanted to know Lord Lysil or Lysil the Younger? Lord Lysil was in his 50’s and was a stout no nonsense orcish military man with a keep on a bailey about 7 miles south of here. Lysil the Younger was his foppish son who took on some of his elven tutor’s softer ways at one point and was fond of being a petty bully and exchanging hugs – mush to the embarrassment of his father.

Nice. We filed that away for later.

Our plan for the basement was to move all the stone axes here, set up a table from the dining room at the top of the steps as a secondary barrier. Oil was going to figure but for now, we had Lord Gurunts, Hjalgrim, and Merica at the bottom of the steps. They moved the kobold barrier and then littered the floor with caltrops. Then a yell followed and the wave of immature kobolds charged us.

They hit the caltrops and were rolled over by the mass behind while Hjalgrim and Lord Gurunts manned the front, hacking bodies with wild abandon. Hjalgrim found himself in trouble, his weapon tangled up, the cavalier falling over and then smashed to the ground as dozens of foot and a half tall kobolds swarmed over him. The barrier was already failing as they crawled through our legs and hit the stairs. Merica took front and hacked at the kobolds as Lord Gurunts and he dragged the groaning and badly bleeding Hjalgrim up to the landing, shouting for help. Oil flasks were hurled past the three as they hit the top of the steps and Dizzy and Einar smashed the table in place, propping it up with pots filled with broken cobblestones. The kobolds hit the barrier and were stopped but tried to jump up, unable to crest the top of the table. Meanwhile more oil was tossed and the party hacked at the top of the table and over the edge while from around the corner the wavering yellow light grew closer and a Fire Beetle made the corner along with a wave of immature kobolds.

Thalin’s sleep spell shot off dropping the beetle and a half dozen of the kobolds who were run over by those behind. More hit the table and they were jumping, ones and twos making the top while the table shook and Einar held it in place. The oil was lit and a flaming Molotov went off, killing more but still MORE made the stairs and were climbing. A summoning spell shot off and a wild stallion appeared, trampling kobolds on the landing as they leapt up and eviscerated the whinnying equine. Another fire beetle made the flight and this time it was Merica’s sleep spell that ended it and more kobolds.

Percy managed to heal up Hjalgrim enough for the cavalier to rise to his feet and join the front line. The kobolds that did jump to the top were tearing into Lord Gurunts, Hjalgrim and Dizzy while draughts were dispensed. Heavy stone axes were hurled over the table, flattening more immature kobolds. And then Thalin held the busted Dryad’s finger branch and tried his own summoning spell – the spell over powered and an Ogre appeared on the landing, slowing the tide down while the party bolstered Einar at the front and the table was shaking.

The dead count was over 70 we suspected but the Ogre was in the midst of the swarm and the lone adult kobold had been cut down and when the ogre fell, the kobold young swarm hit the table with a pounding groan…and the table eventually moved! The swarm had reached the first floor and the party was backing up, hacking and slamming and slicing as the kobolds filled the floor and spilled towards us.

A split decision was made and the party hit the stairs going UP here to the roof of the 1st floor, Dizzy slamming the trap door open and the group spilling up onto the roof. Lord Gurunts was the last one up, the undead Orc lord barely staggering free before the trap door was slammed closed and the group sat on the door.

We had a view of the main courtyard and the oversized pig and then the pig was squealing as kobolds came out of the opening in ones and twos. He stomped on them and then a dozen came out and were crawling on the pig. The pig grew nutty and charged the main door where we saw it disappear inside the keep followed by tons of squeals, screams, and the cicada yipping noises.

Looking out at all the broken wood, dried plants, and wreckage in the courtyard, the party had a fantastic idea and started throwing lit oil into the mess, eventually setting the courtyard on fire and guaranteeing the pig AND the kobolds would be stuck here and inside the keep for a few hours – giving us a chance to heal up and then come up with a plan on how to deal with 100 – 200 swarm like immature kobolds.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Youth Meet 11, Adv 1, 3/16/18

And this wraps up the first half of the Saltmarsh adventure. They have to get back to town and debrief, but it’s in the bag. Have a number of the party hit 2nd level, as expected, which makes the 2nd half of the adventure not as much of a bear. So it’ll be a meeting or two of town adventuring until the next part of the smuggling operation has a chance to be tackled.

Write up follows:

The group stood the line as gnoll and smuggler slammed into them. Scythes slashed, arrows flew, shields were raised and curses sailed about the room. The lead gnoll eventually fell but three more smugglers charged from down the hall. Valerie shot a globe of light at one of the smugglers who dodged in time, but the second one ran into it and fell to the ground screaming about his blindness.

The combat rolled back and forth, Magnus was the front of the line as the spear wielding smuggler pressed hard on the limping paladin, knocking him to the ground and then jamming the spear through his chest and out his back! Deja took a blow and collapsed to the ground next while Valerie was struggling to shrug off the blows on her and lay a healing on the bleeding paladin. The power of Frey staunched the worst of the bleeding and allowed him to stand up in time to block another smuggler’s blow.

Sanbalet, unable to get away from the melee, hurled a poison coated Kris bladed dagger into the fight, just missing the party by inches. Talion was having a rough time with the guy he was fighting and Deja was helped to her feet just in time for the Halfling to let her daggers fly – knocking the fleeing spear wielding smuggler to the ground and killing her with a knife to the back of her neck. Sanbalet then made an attempt to raise a cloud of fog but was interrupted by a furious Veldryn and her whirling scythe.

The group was still standing, beaten and bleeding, but holding their own when one of the smugglers made a run for it back down the long passage and in the direction Ned Shakeshaft had gone. Talion and Veldryn gave chase while Magnus had Sanbalet trussed up and the sobbing smuggler who had been hit with a light spell was given his sight back and spoken to softly.

Talion put on a burst of speed as the smuggler hit the end of the cave and the Mastelic Ocean beyond. The cavern ended at the mouth of a cave, water running into it, and 20’ away and rapidly distancing himself was Ned Shakeshaft on a single mast jolly boat rowing for all he was worth.

The Ranger struggled with the smuggler, knives flashing and the two men fighting in the surf while Veldryn whipped out her scroll case and shouted out the words on the paper. They turned into black fire and she hurled it across the water at the now 30’ away Ned…freezing him in place! He was stuck in a rowing position, held in place. The death priest stripped off her armor and waded into the water in just her underwear, hands waving into another spell.

The power of Hel raced through her and her hands and feet grew webbed and her skin took on a shimmering look – and she then down into the Ocean and swam VERY fast to the receding jolly boat to clamber aboard and wrench the oars from the held Ned. While she was struggling to turn the boat around and paddle back, Talion managed to subdue his assailant and drag the tired smuggler back to shore. Once there he whacked him on the temple and knocked him out, dropping him onto the sandy cave floor.

While all this was going on the other three party members were having a mixed bag with the two smugglers they had. One was Sanbalet who was crude, rude, insulting, and joking to the paladin and his questioning. The other was the once blinded younger smuggler who admitted he was doing this for the money and that his mother was very ill. The physickers, healers of Tyr, wanted to help the young man’s mother but needed more money than the family had so he was working any job that paid a lot and quick – even if in his heart he knew it was a bad choice. After being blinded he realizes that nothing is worth it and praises Tyr for helping him see the error of his ways.

While Magnus, Deja, and Valerie talk to the now open smuggler about the situation and ignore Sanbalet’s jibes, they do realize that there is a ship that comes here and off loads these goods (which also have the squid design on them) and it can’t be the small jolly boat at the end of the cave. These smugglers are only part of the problem, and we’re going to have to take everyone back to Saltmarsh to figure this out.

Talion helped the furious Veldryn drag Ned out of the now beached jolly boat and bound up his frozen form as best they could with what ropes they had. Our elf was furious at Ned for his departure from our midst, his actually being a smuggler, and for hurting Valerie with his leaving. She called on Hel to create a spring of water which burst from the ground…and then proceeded to torture the frozen Ned by jamming his face and mouth over the spring. She did this repeatedly while Talion watched, but the yelling and choking was echoing down the cave and Deja and Valerie came to investigate while Magnus stayed with the young smuggler to guard Sanbalet.

When the Halfling saw what was going on she stood over and in front of Ned, blocking Veldryn from further assaulting him – as the death priest at this point had out her scythe and was cutting at Ned’s face. The two of them got into a heated yell fest and then Veldryn shoved Deja – who fell back over Ned and bounced up with murder in her eyes.

Valerie was talking to Ned who admitted that yes he was a smuggler and a scoundrel, but when he grew to like the group and their camaraderie, especially Val, he couldn’t go through with his original plan which was to assault the group at a weak moment and instead took his leave and tried to convince Sanbalet that they should end their operations here for now and move on.

There was lots of contraband around the cave and we could not bring it all back AND Ned, Sanbalet, and the other smuggler through 3 miles of swampland – it was too much. Ned offered, for some leniency with the town council, to pilot the jolly boat back after we load it up with everything if we wanted to.

Deja and Veldryn were barely able to look one another in the eye, the thief promising the death priest that this cruelty and her assault would not be long forgotten. So we gathered everyone together and discussed the plan of taking the boat back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Meet 42, Adv 4.1, 3/10/18

It was a mopping up adventure as the group wandered their way around the keep, looking for stray kobolds to finish off. They KNOW there are 13 of them and the suspicion was they were on the second floor. So after some back and forth, before the go after the youth swarm below, they would take out the adult anklebiters. It went about as well as expected, primarily due to the narrow hall preventing most of the party from being front line.

Write up follows:

The party fell into an exhausted sleep except for Dizzy who was awake and took the watch. It was during his watch that a Cyclops came to the tent, made shushing noises, and came in to sit and talk to the dwarven cleric. He said that he saw Dizzy in a dream and that his appearance was important – because according to the Cyclops’ vision, it meant that he was going to some sort of shield called “Ironbind”.

Dizzy wanted to talk to the young male Cyclops who was called Shortfeet, and had him describe what he saw. A big cyclopean sized metal shield in a room of darkness filled with K’Morat young. Dizzy takes the shield, comes back to the Cyclopean city and meets Shortfeet giving him the shield – and Shortfeet eventually helps to overthrow the Ogre control of the clan.

Dizzy made noises that he’d do what he could and then Shortfeet left. The Cleric was insulted; the idea of “doing it” for Shortfeet offended his Sifian sensibilities; one is supposed to show personal excellence – not have a vision and then get someone else to do the work.

The group awoke the next morning, we prepared a few spell scrolls, ate the food the Cyclopes brought to us to eat, and then by 8 AM, were ready to go. Yuntwun, the elder Cyclops seer met us and leaning on her long staff, we walked out of the camp and on our way to K’Morat Warren. As we walked the seer tried to explain to Dizzy and the others how visions work and how you cannot just accept what you see at face value. A good seer can take a vision and work it beyond the obvious answer. There is a nuance to it that is generally answered after the fact when more information is available. What she tells us though is that the Norns have already woven us into the skein of life and if it our time to go, stay, die, live, be heroic or just part of the background – it’s already written and our parts are there.

We arrived at the walls and looked around. The doors under the barbican were open, but the second portcullis was down – only maybe 2 feet open at the bottom. There was 1 or 2 kobolds in the barbican, and it looked like a dozen crows were flying around watching to see if anyone approached. Yuntwun cast her spell and the party turned invisible – we had 20 minutes until we did an aggressive action. It was time.

As the group walked to the barbican moving quietly, Sybil took a wandering path, spreading tainted soporific bread we had taken from Lysil’s castle all about the ground to entice the crows flying around, the bread turning visible as it left her hand. At the Barbican a few of us tried to crawl underneath but eventually it was backpacks and armor that had us getting hung up on the portcullis. The kobolds above were watching the group but did not see anyone.

Meanwhile Dizzy had crept to the end of the interior Barbican wall and was watching for the pig with a loaf of poisoned bread at the ready. There was a door that lead UP to the barbican here but we didn’t use it yet as Einar had gotten caught beneath the dropping portcullis. Unable to extract himself he “raged” and shoved the portcullis up, bending the end to jam it in place. While all this was going on the crows above were falling asleep in the field outside the walls after eating the bread and it was freaking the kobolds out. One of the kobolds then ran for the shaman and the pig began to close – and we were all still invisible. We tossed some bread into the doorway as the pig arrived and was sniffing at the bread, eating it whole. It then forced itself into the narrow opening and ate more bread while the lone kobold up top was yelling at the pig to get away.

We crossed the Bailey to the door of the keep and entered, back into the great hall. Time was ticking and we had only a few more minutes of invisibility to go. Merica and Avulstein used their helmets – getting 6 kobolds upstairs and no birds. So we went to the end of the hall, climbed the steps carefully, and entered the former Solar of the keep. The ceiling and walls had once been glass held in place by lead stays but the glass had long ago broken away and there was nothing left up here except for some scraps of wood and plenty of bird shit. We circled out of the Solar – to the east was the causeway to the parapet, and just past the stairs on the north wall was a corridor that turned left and went for some distance with a “T” running to the north halfway down, and the end of the hall with a door blocked closed on this end.

The two thieves took point with Hjalgrim right behind and they snuck down to the “T” and looked. Maybe 50’ long corridor, two doors on each side and a door at the end open and ajar. Voices could be heard there. Another Helmet look by Merica revealed more kobolds up here – and the guess was there were more, just not in range of the helmet.

Closer to the “T” they listened and sure enough, according to Sybil, they could hear the kobold from the Barbican trying to get a commanding kobold to respond and get the shaman, and the commanding kobold kept coming up with reasons to leave the shaman alone. Frustrated the barbican kobold was ordered to return to his post and the group ran back down the passage to the “T” and took each flank. The one kobold came closer and closer and when he turned the corner, got “f-pwa’ed” by the thieves and killed. His body was passed back and once it was clear, we heard noises in the closest door or running water and a kobold humming.

Readying ourselves again he stepped out, turned our way..and was “f-pwaed” to death. Two down, 11 to go, 9 in this area.  We went to the next door and after trying to lure some of the out and it failing, the door was opened and multiple stabbings went off, but one of the managed to call out for help, and the doors around the castle bust open and the other 9 kobolds assaulted us. The narrow hall did not help so we gave ground and backed up, Thalin taking a different angle to try a spell. Meanwhile the Shaman was calling out for his crows and a small murder was flying over to us.

Einar filled the air with obscuring mists but not before Bruce took off and using his echolocation, slammed into the large crow and took off into the air, the murder giving ground to avoid slamming into the walls of the Solar.

Thalin fired off a sleep spell and 5 of the kobolds dropped, freeing up the hall for the group to surge to the”T” and go toe to toe. The fight was blasting back and forth and the Shaman used a bit of Cashandra to summon a Dire Rat which held off Hjalgrim for a bit. Dizzy called on his own giant rat and the Shaman also summoned a hyena but Thalin dropped it to sleep. The Altern leader of the kobolds eventually went down and after that the fight degenerated against the kobolds and it was the Shaman against everyone – and then it ended. No living kobolds anywhere in range.

The mists cleared and Bruce had beaten the oversized crow and we doled out healing. We wanted to find the underground area and take out the nest if we could so we dragged the bodies to the bathroom and left them in there after cleaning ourselves up a bit. Then we looked out of the Solar at the area and realized we left a kobold IN the Barbican. So the group went to the end of the Solar, drew bows, and shot the kobold from 70’ away, killing it. The pig seemed to be asleep jammed into the narrow door opening.

We went back to the main floor and headed near the dining room area. From there we went around and saw a slew of doors, a set of stairs going UP to the roof, and another going down to the basement. Bingo. We looked down and smelled burnt pepper and wet meat, along with the sound like yipping cicadas. The room was bathed in wavering shadowy yellowy light and we couldn’t see, but around the back area of the stairs was the larger cellar and maybe the 340 all over the place immature kobolds. The stairs was blocked off by a metal, tin, and stone barrier like a gate 4’ tall and sharp on top to stop the kobolds from climbing over. We then went back up to the first floor and spent some time discussing lots of plans to take out the kobolds below, arguing them and discarding them as fast as we could formulate them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Youth Meet 10, Adv 1, 3/9/18

There is something just nice about running a more 1st edition version of the game (and other parts I’ve jettisoned for latter edition improvements) but one that stands out is just initiative. Role, higher goes first and that’s it. It removes a crap load of tactical stuff that makes combat interesting but it doesn’t constrain the combat narrative and combat moves lightning fast. The youths are at the end battle for the 1st half of the adventure and are doling out punishment – and taking it in return as well. The gnoll warriors are a heavy hitting difficulty the group is barely able to contain as hit points oscillate wildly.

Write up follows:

The group was dragged into the room the skeletons had been in and then the door was closed. The lock and handle was on the other side so this was a limited solution at best. First some slaps were given to wake everyone up and then healing was doled out. We took stock of ourselves and Veldryn assured us the mists would last a few more minutes tops. The room was heavy stone and there were many gouges in the rock and the back of the door as the skeletons that had been here had tried to get out over the years.

A quick look was made for secret doors on the east wall since that was the only one that didn’t lead back to the cellar or the foundation of the mansion above. Sure enough there was a section of the wall that did move slowly and with great effort. The space beyond was a room heavy with dust on the floor. From the staleness of the air coming out we deduced it hasn’t been opened for decades.

A light shining within showed a long workbench on the west wall and a desk on the south wall, chair and a figure in a hat and robe sitting there, the edge of an open book visible. It appeared he was…reading. In the dark? Beyond a secret door? For decades? Deja volunteered to step in and she crept closed and eventually touched the figure with care…discovering that person was dead and had been for 20 years.

Waving the rest of the group in we entered and looked around, the party deciding to shut the door for now and seal it back in place. No one had found it for 20 years, no one would again – plus it would give a chance to pick a better place to fight the smugglers. For now, the figure was the original magic-user, alchemist, and owner of the mansion. Veldryn had suspicions that he had been here reading and died suddenly, stroke or heart attack. For some reason, this made the party a bit sad.

Taking stock of the place we looked around. There were some items on the desk in front of the alchemist each of them seemingly made entirely of gold: a human skull, a set of balance weights, a rose, and an apple. The book he was reading was a ponderous tome identified as “The Philosopher’s Stone” which had the group gasp in surprise. A detect magic followed and we discovered a glow coming from his left hand where a pearlescent oblong rock was gripped and another glow coming from the second drawer in the desk where we found a book bound in cracked dark leather and sporting a few runes on the cover.

Veldryn was sure the book was a spell book as the runes were those of protection from fire. Some of the pages were in poor condition from mold and water but the book itself was still whole, so we took it. As we were looking around at the many alchemical alembics and braziers we heard voices coming closer and rising. The smugglers had returned and were looking around.

There were many of them talking and the group of them discovered the skeleton door opened and the bones smashed. Where were we? Someone else reported the stairs up to the 1st floor had been destroyed and the leader, Sanbalet, said that this place had become too hot and we should gather everything up, get to the caves, and get out before the fools from Saltmarsh come back and try to arrest them.

We then heard lots of noises and banging for a few minutes as they cleared out of the chamber and then eventually it got quiet again. We waited until we heard nothing else and then discussed our options. The group didn’t want these guys to get away but opening the secret door and fighting them from inside this room was not a good idea as they’d be trapped. So the decision was to go now, give chase, and take them down before they get a chance to escape.

The party opened the door, arrows and swords at the ready…and the skeleton room was empty except the bones. We did note that the long leg bones were not here for some reason. We then went into the cellar proper…and there were some changes. Half the torches were now out, all the footlockers had been opened and ransacked, the closed door on the north wall was open and even though it was a nice bedroom it too had been cleared out. Even the casks and silk had been taken. Magnus realized that his lantern had been stolen from the table.

We went to the southwest corner of the chamber and a short investigation revealed the secret door we knew was there. Weapons ready, we tore the door open and Deja took point. A set of stairs was cut into the stone and went down further and further, eventually turning under the house itself and heading off in the direction of the Mastelic Ocean. Was there a ship here to spirit them away?!?

With the scent of salt air guiding us and torches guiding our steps we sped along until we came to a split, south or west? South smelled faintly of vinegar and west did not – so we opted for west. Continuing we could hear voices now and again up ahead along with the sound or people moving things. Another opening to the south but we ran past and came to a place where the cavern had a large open room to the west and another turn to the south where we could faintly hear voices and the lap lap lap noise of the tide on the rocks.

From the room we could see 3 humans, two men one female, and two 7’ tall wide shouldered hyena hybrids creatures clad in brigandine and sporting battle axes. The room had a dozen large casks and maybe half a dozen rolls of fabric. The bald headed smuggler was guiding the others and when the group came into view there was some snarling and the battle was joined! Arrows flew and the first smuggler went down with an arrow in his throat. The female smuggler whipped out a spear and the battle line struck the lead gnoll, Veldryn scythe doing terrible damage.

Sanbalet however finished whatever spell he had and fired one off at Veldryn, hypnotizing the priest! He them commanded her to attack the Halfling with her scythe and she whirled around, hacking twice – slashing Deja wide open and dropping her to the ground. Talion stood over the Halfling and we heard more smugglers coming from the south!

Healing was dropped quickly and Magnus took the front of the room; the paladin standing against the last gnoll and the spear wielding smuggler. As Deja was down the hypnotism faded and there were more smugglers getting closer. Valerie sent Ho’rse the giant rat south to intercept them, the 35# vermin tearing into one of them and ripping him femoral artery open, spilling blood everywhere.

Magnus was giving and taking blows from the gnoll and smuggler, struggling to keep them from the rest of the party. Sanbalet finished another spell and turned himself invisible! Damn it! Deja got back to her feet and gritting her teeth grabbed her bow shooting an arrow at the last approaching smuggler from the south. The battle was spreading wildly and then Magnus took a blast to his leg from the gnoll’s battle axe. The hyena like figure was cackling fiendishly as the paladin hit the ground…and then the smuggler with the spear called him pathetic and jammed her spear into his chest so hard it punched through and hit the back of his armor with a clang – the paladin was now down and in the negatives!

From the south MORE figures were coming up, two of them, a gnoll and…Ned Shakeshaft! Valerie was crying to Ned, “Why!?” and the smuggler looked embarrassed and turned back crying he couldn’t do this, breaking the half-orc’s heart. And then it got worse as the approaching gnoll slammed him battled axe down – flattening the druid’s giant rat companion, Ho’rse! The anguished cries were numbing.

Veldryn whipped out the scroll of cure moderate wounds and read of the words, turning the scroll to flame, but bringing Magnus back to full and breathing new life into the party’s paladin. We had the paladin bolstered to his feet as the priest supported him as best they could with scythe, axe, and shield against the wounded gnoll and the angry spear wielding smuggler. Behind them Talion and Deja were sending arrows down the hall and into the fight when the opportunity presented itself and still there was another gnoll coming from the south, his own battleaxe stained with Ho’rse’s blood. And through it all, Sanbalet was somewhere nearby, invisible and waiting for his moment.

And it was time to roll for initiative.