Reality vs. Red Herrings.
The party knew they were going to get someone come by today with a map for them and it would have been supplied by the bandits - its veracity was going to be suspect at best.
So I supplied them with two maps. Is one real? Both real? Both fake? Is this a con game where only the dealer wins or is there enough truth behind them both that they are both genuine in their own way?
Only way to find out is to actually GO THERE.
And that led us to the main resolution of the night - where half the party was killed or captured and the rest of us ran for the hills (or the trees as the case might be). It was not a TPK, but could have been. The approached an enemy position through the front door in day light with a force of 7-8 people making some noise and got hung up on crossing a dangerous bridge without rope when it mattered.
Write up follows:
We hung around the house for a while until sometime after 1 we had a knock at the door. A woman in her early 20’s was there and had an out of town/traveler look about her. Said her name was Martine Dodecius and wanted to know if she can come in and look around the Hall of Heroes. Turns out her father was a member of the 5 Sword Brothers and had died during an adventure many years ago. She had grown up with stories about her dad and wanted an opportunity to see where he had stayed.
It was after a bit that she revealed that she had some legacy items of his that she was going to sell to the town’s Consul (Zarik) that had been in the family since his death so long ago. Things like maps and some backup information. The group looked at one another and took it upon themselves to volunteer to escort Martine to Zarik’s and see about the selling of such maps. Maps that we suspected were part of the bandit’s attempt to lure us from more caravan guarding.
That left just Fist’al at home, and when the elven scout was going to go out there was another knock at the door – this time seeing another traveler looking for Flimflam and the adventuring group. Fist’al spent some time talking the man who had so many holes in his story about a map he won in a card game that he was not surprised to see a map come out. It was to some nebulous place north and west of Shakun to some cave. And someone had even written in 50,000,000 gold crowns as sitting there just waiting for an adventuring group to come and take it.
He dickered with the man on selling it, eventually offering 6 commons and getting the “map” for it. From then the traveler left to go to the Ogre Door Inn while Fist’al went on his way to Pelis the Rug Merchant to talk to him about Sern and ripping off the adventuring group. The conversation didn’t go the way Fist’al wanted it to and he was admonished to not rob from Sern even if he was price gouging the group – just shop somewhere else.
On the 15th we left early after buying rations to go to the bandit camp. During the travel we decided NOT to stay at the Roaring Treant as we knew the bandits did stay there occasionally, and we should instead sleep out under the stars. After the entire day though we instead went past the Inn and found a little used Hunter’s hut. Fist’al forced the peasant’s lock open and we went in after taking care of the pony Flimflam had been riding.
We ate, lit a fire, and rested comfortably in some strangers home, eventually getting up the next day awake and very ready to find the bandit camp and bring them in and to justice. It was around 11:30 AM that Fist’al showed everyone the elm tree marker. The area was quiet and there were no obvious signs of the bandits here now. He then led us north through the trees – showing us the thin cuts in the bark and how to navigate the path in the trees.
It was some time later that we arrived at a chasm – maybe 20’ across, and 90’ down. It looked like the earth had split here some time ago. A number of logs had been knocked over the chasm, making a crude bridge for the group to cross. Ironboar went first, inching along until he arrived at the other side. Then Enthir was next, the mage tied to Device by a 30’ length of silken rope. The mage also made the trip without issue. It was when Device tried it that things went wrong.
First, the half-orc untied the rope from his waist so to not risk dropping Enthir. Then about 1/3 of the way across, the tree rolled and he slipped off. Scrambling he tried to grip the bark but it shredded and he fell…90’ down to land with a scream and the sound of breaking bones and then nothing. Tempi grew distraught and was screaming that he had to go down and save his brother. Taking a 50’ length of rope he tied it to the tree and slithered down to the end of the rope, still 40’ from the ravine bottom. Then he let go and attempt to climb down the side.
The hard packed dirt broken under his grip and he rolled, bounced, and also plummeted to the bottom with a crunch and the crack of busting bones. He was unmoving and the group was in shock. We were desperately trying to come up with a plan to get down there when Ironboar came back across the log, and went to go down the rope. His father cast “jump” on him and told him when he got to the bottom he had to jump from the bottom of the rope and it should help his landing. It did, the gnome barbarian was able to run to the two of them, able to use his own healing draught to stop Tempi from slipping any further but Device was too far gone.
When it came time to get out and the need to get Flimflam down to tend to the wounded Tempi, Ironboar used a nearby tree branch, propped up near the rope, climbed to the top and used the 2nd of the 3 “jumps”he had to leap up and grab the rope. He climbed up, there was talk on how to get Flimflam down, and Ironboar went down again to get the rope from Device’s body. But at the bottom of the rope when he was climbing the wall he failed to get a good grip and dropped 20’ to land with a broken skull and internal bleeding.
It was then that we noticed that Enthir was very much missing from the other side, 3 party members dead and dying at the bottom of a ravine, and most of us were frozen with fear and indecision. Flimflam said that we needed the bandit’s help and withdrew his whistle, blowing it loudly.
A moment later 8 bandits came visible from the other side of the ravine, bows out and arrows pointing at us. Enthir was dropped at the feet of one of them, his shirt red, face pale, and throat cut. We were told to leave. We asked for help in getting to our companions at the bottom of the pit. We were told to leave again. And then they counted down from 5.
We turned and started walking away but after a few paces ducked behind trees. One of the bandits cursed and said, “I god damned KNEW it!”Then we heard chanting and the group ran. Luckily too because from where we were hiding a moment earlier the vines, trees, underbrush and everything started wrapping about and trying to tangle about one another, empowered by the bandit’s spell.
We fled as fast as we could; arrows were flying wildly through the trees at us. Fist’al was struck by an errant arrow and actually hit 0 hit points before Flimflam was able to draw it free and bring him back to positives. We stumbled to the road, mounted up on Flimflam’s pony, and ran away from the bandits, the ravine…and our companions – 4 of them either dead or dying. Ironboar, Tempi, Enthir, and Device. Eventually exhausted we arrived at the Roaring Treant Inn, weary and without direction – feeling lost and unsure of our next step.