We had some absences at the table this night, meaning there were fewer than normal players for tonight's meeting. The side effect of this was the fact that the party got a lot accomplished even though everyone was doing double duty and handling additional characters.
We got a chance to see how damage reduction affects the party's effectiveness as well. The Field-Fiend had DR:2 and on the surface, not too terrible, but coupled with the AC: 22 it meant that as a group we had limited effectiveness.
I am a fan of DR and appreciate the simple symmetry it offers in combat. I don't assign it to many foes, only those that seriously need it.
Write up follows:
We had just arrived in Dairymeade, a small village between Timberton and Heatherfield, on Watermonth the 15th, around 6:30. The Thorpe probably held less than 100 people. The largest building was the Laughing Cow Inn where we were located, with a smithy, cheese maker, leatherworker, and chandler making up the other buildings that were not residential homes.
We entered amidst the sound of people chatting and then it grew quiet. From there we went up to the proprietor where we arranged accommodations for the night. The place was simple, the people hard working, and the atmosphere was cautious yet optimistic.
We conversed with the proprietor for a while and learned that there was a problem in town. Something the locals were referring to as “The Field-Fiend” was assaulting their livestock (cows, lots and lots of cows – with some goats). Attacks at night, and only the livestock. If we were really interested, we could talk to the proprietor’s uncle and village’s most important citizen – the Cheesemaker.
So we went and spoke to him, Boris Cokinstock, and learned more of what was going on. A number of cows have come in from the field with red and painful whip-like sores on their flanks. No one has seen what has been accosting the cows, but it’s slowly playing havoc on the bovine population. We went to Harold the leatherworker next with Boris where we got a look at Ethel, the latest victim.
The slashes were maybe no longer than 4’ in length and crisscrossed up and down the legs and flanks of Ethel. Boris and Harold were uncomfortable in us (posing as regular guards) going to find the Field-Fiend, but with some glib tongue and a bit of magic, we convinced Boris to give us a shot. Dairymeade was not a wealthy locale, but they were willing to part with a 15 lb wheel of 2-year old Dairymeade Jack cheese, 10 yards of prime grade calf-skin raw leather, and 4 pairs of butter-rubbed calf-skin high soft boots. We took the job.
They lent us Ethel and we travelled to the northwest of town, perhaps ½ a mile or so away. The cows of Dairymeade were semi nomadic and were never penned at night, so our cow was not unexpected. We however, were. So we positioned ourselves about 60’ away from Ethel and at the lee side of a faint rise of ground, hiding in the tall grass and waited. The idea was that if nothing happened by midnight, we’d go back to Dairymeade with Ethel and concede defeat.
For a little over an hour, nothing happened. The cows fell asleep, only their lowing and farting breaking the night quiet. Eventually we heard movement in the dark and it was growing closer. At the extreme limit of those with infravision’s sight, they saw three bipedal humanoid figures walking closer and closer to Ethel. Do we attack? Wait?
They struck, hitting Ethel on the side and knocking her over. She awoke with an indignant “moo” and righted herself up while the three figures were bent over laughing their asses off. Three youths from Dairymeade – tipping cows. The party was disgusted and Marcus hit them with a sleep spell, knocking them out instantly.
We were deciding what to do next when something 8’long, 4’ tall, 6’ wide, and 300 + lbs smashed into the back of Ethel and pinned her leg with an oversized crushing mandible. It was the biggest damned beetle anyone had ever seen. And it was whipping its antenna back and forth across her legs and flanks, drinking the blood that was running down her skin with its tongue.
Ok, that we’ll fight.
Arrows and spears went flying as we charged the Field-Fiend, Quintus opening up with a salvo of magic missiles and Flimflam calling out a Fairy Fire spell, bathing the armored beetle in green and blue dancing flames. Many of our arrows missed, and those that did hit, bounced off its incredible armored carapace with little if any affect. Even the magic missiles were less effective, the beetle shrugging off most of the lower impacting blows.
We closed to melee range, slowing down long enough to see the beetle FLY at us incredibly fast. It hit Marcus but was unable to get a solid grip on the elven fighter/mage with its mandibles. It’s whipping antenna did however tear into the elf, lacing his skin open like a scourging whip and causing him to reel back in order to defend himself.
The battle was difficult but we stabbed, hacked, and beat at the damned field-fiend with all we had, whittling its vitality away with each swing. And then we heard from the darkness (only Zeta being vaguely aware before it struck) a growling voice shouting in a pidgin of trollish and goblinoid, “Stop a’hurtin’ my girl!” before the 9’ greenskin monstrosity slammed into us and drove us back from the beetle. It was clad in rags and its body was a mass of green and brown thick horny folds of skin. A mop of greasy hair swung from its head but its limbs were just too long and too misshapen to be normal. Its first attack was a blazing fast sweep of blows, claws, and bites which reduced the ranger Tranis from healthy to a single hit point – his face torn open and body suffering from countless body blows.
We circled the beast and tried to keep him from doing another cycle of blows but we quickly deduced that we were outmatched. Even worse, the wounds we were doing to the monster were slow healing before our eyes! More spells were fired and the howling monster ripped Marcus next, shredding the elf and causing him to stagger. Potions and goodberries were being passed left and right but we deduced that we were a bit overmatched. Flimflam called on Demeter and summoned a Black bear which appeared behind the troll and savaged it with it claws, lifting it off the ground and hugging it, tearing it’s chest open.
Coughing and growing weak it stumbled and the group plied all we had left to dropping it and dropping it now. It fell over but even “dead”, its wounds continued to close! Tranis was stabbing it again and again, yelling at the party to “burn it! Burn it now!” Tinderbox, flame, oil, and “WHOOSH!” the figure was ablaze and cooking, the group backing away from the greasy black flames and choking smell.
What of the field-fiend? Thanks to Flimflam’s fairyfire spell, we were able to see it running off to the northwest – so we followed it!. Eventually we tracked it to a hillside and a hole where the light was inside and we circled around, drew ourselves up, and then stormed the cave. 9’ wide, 8’ tall, and deep, we were in the troll’s warren and the field-fiend was here too – along with an amorphous orangey 10’ or so diameter writhing blob larval egg-sac. Fucking great!
Thankfully it was already wounded so we hit it head on with all our strength. Zeta tried to sneak around behind it but attracted the egg-sac thing which detached from the wall and tried to engulf his leg! He danced and hopped and jumped, barely staying ahead of it as it sought him out. Whosea was taking the brunt of the field-fiend’s attacks, the huge dog staggering from the amount of blood loss and wounds hitting him. But the last blow fell and the beetle dumped over – and we had won. But not until we doused the egg sac thing with oil and set it ablaze as well – burning it and 100 larval-stage versions of the same beetle we had just killed.
Zeta warned us that the beetle most likely had a mate somewhere but we did a good thing removing it and killing the Class-6 mutant that assaulted us. Troll, said Tranis. Yes, Class-6 mutant, said Zeta. Ooookay.
We then rooted through the warren and spent almost an hour gathering up the troll’s treasure. Over a thousand coins (the majority of them brass bits), a smattering of simple jewelry, a handful of simple weapons, many yards of filthy silk and linen, over 60#’s of raw tin, 2 wheels of hard cheese, and a traveler’s journal from someone named Trulane Septimus from 15 years ago.
We fashioned sacks and drags, went back to claim Ethel (the boys were gone, and so were the spears and arrows we had used in the battle here) and went back to town. Boris was thankful of our efforts and we made a deal with him where he kept some of the goods we found and we kept the coinage (worked for us). At this point we admitted that we were the adventuring party out of Shakun and he was nice enough to write us a commendation note to take to Heatherfield.
So the next day we awoke early, broke our fast, and paid the caravan a silver and a half to let Whosea ride the cart, the dog was feeling ill from the field-fiend’s attack and Flimflam announced that regular rest was needed.
The area from Dairymeade to Heatherfield is a mix of revitalizing landscape and blasted hellhole. Most of the onetime Estate homes are a dilapidated and burned mess. Many of the fields are wildly overgrown and even years later, there are great swaths of burned and blasted roadway and lands that are nothing but black earth that nothing grows in. Many of the great stone dividing walls have been smashed and stick up here and again like misshapen teeth.
However, there are many many sheep in the area, and the group saw lots of rye and barley being grown, most of it one time wild, but now being tended to and harvested. Hayswains and other early fall signs of harvest are taking place. We did note that there is not nearly enough people working to bring in all the crazy rich bounty that is obvious to the area.
We arrived @ Heatherfield about 6ish that night, got paid and bid the caravan farewell, and made our way down the block to eventually the Sheriff to announce ourselves. He suggested we stay at the Mane and Tails and would let the local lord, Gelus Kayzer, know we were here and could set up conversation with him then.
We dropped off Whosea @ the temple of Demeter and arranged sleeping @ the Mane & Tails. Zeta and Tranis slept in the common room and it mostly was locals doing their best to get a night of cheap sleep. However, late that night a barbarian from the Beastly Hills came in and slept naked, not caring about the people around him. Zeta noticed the figure a tattoo similar to his own. So at breakfast he had conversation with the man who identified himself as Calharag. They talked about the symbol and Zeta tried to call it the Nek’Tar – and Calharag corrected him, saying the pronunciation was Netarg. He was on a vision quest for his shaman to go to the Endless forest and kill 50 goblins, bringing their bits and teeth back as proof. Then he would get to go to Netarg for the 8th time. Zeta made note of all his details and wished him well.
At this point we realized that Heatherfield had very few elves in it, which had Marcus with his hood up. However, half-elves were in abundance (1 in 5). We met with Lord Kayzer and talked about the banditry, giving him the letters from Baron Taugis and Boris Cokinstok and getting a heads up on what we might be facing. The bandits don’t strike constantly, often targeting lone travelers. They seem to have honor and haven’t killed anyone – taking their belongings. The worst of the assaults is a grey misting blowing into the face/eyes which causes temporary blindness and allows the robbers a chance to get away without being traced/tracked. He arranged for us to meet the last three who were robbed so we could interview them.
Tellium Ditchdigger – He and his son were robbed 2 months ago. They were hunting for quail. Half a dozen or so attacked him and his son. Took his quail, clubbed him when he got mouthy. He was difficult to talk to, taking offense with much of the party – did come back at the end of the interview and was going to go with the group to “get those bastards” tomorrow.
Deliusi Arbandotter – Was herding her sheep back late 5 weeks ago. Bandits took the oldest and fattest sheep and whatever coins she had. Five of them, they seemed to be either Helfs or Humans, and they had 2 really big shepherds with them. Strangest thing, they gave her a leather cloak to wrap around her since it was raining that day and were very courteous.
Ionus op Heatherfield – Strung out came to mind on meeting with this one. “2 weeks ago they took my damned cheese I went all the way to Dairymeade to get. 5# block of salted Cheddar! I tried to fight them off, but they beat me about the head until I fell off Old Bessie where they kicked me until I passed out. How many? 10 I would guess. Yeah, 10. Otherworldly looking (points to Zeta) sorta like that one but without the fucked up hair color.”
We thanked Lord Kayzer for putting it together for us and left, assuming we were going to investigate north of town @ all the abandoned estate houses on the morrow. It was now 9:30 AM on Watermonth the 17th and we were on our way back to the Mane and Tail to discuss our exact plans.