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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Meet 104, Adv 6, 1/16/16

The group had a chance to meet the remnants of the thieves guild/leader of Varohelm this meeting. Varohelm was always a strange place years ago for my players. Tucked away in the southwestern section of a larger Duchy that was always sending its young and gold further north to feed a distant and seemingly uncaring monarch and its dozens of stupid wars and causes - the people of Varohelm had nothing in common with the rest of the duchy.

Not insular, just overwhelmed and out of place. Two major wizards lived here at one time: Erazmus and Ceril Stormbringer - and neither was a white and black hat. Both were pretty despicable in their own way - depending on which side of the line you stood on. What I did for this group was fast forward time 15 plus years after the two wizards finally killed each other off and imagined what the place would look like.

And it looks like shit.

Spells and ensorcelled creatures run amok, broken cities and shattered people, the one time mantra of "Lead the Evil to Our Door, Good we Are we'll take No More" that the populace would chant when the roustabouts and elfhunters would march was silenced and broken. The church was a ruin of its former self, poverty was rampant, and everyone who could possibly leave...had already left. What they had remaining was serf and peasantry with little or no way to get out of the land safely and cheaply.

And as for the thieves guild? They took over the nobility, sort of disbanded and broke up as every high ranking member eventually left and each time they left, they took more and more riches and wealth from the land. So what was left was a handful of thugs and degenerates who had been left behind to run things, fleecing the flesh off what few riches were left behind, and leaving a progressively less capable mix of thieves and thugs to run things.

And that's what the party has now. There is no longer a guild, any guild organization left long ago. What you have are the last of the guild trained thieves (the ones who weren't smart, capable, or rich enough to leave any of the other times) in control of the river trade, ripping everyone off, and they are looking to cash out and leave the Helmian Lands/Darkenwoods behind. But they need money - lots of it to pay all the bribes and graft, and transport they need for their people to go with them (otherwise they'll never get out) - but there isn't any money left over, nothing else to take.

Until a group shows up and the stories say of a magic vault of some sort at Castle Sterling that no one was able to open before. And who knows about it? Two capos/rulers who heard it from their bosses who heard it from their bosses some 15 years ago. And the story they know is that it has wealth. The group opens it up? They keep half. If they don't? There isn't a civilized spot anywhere in the Helmian Lands the party can hole up in before they are exposed and hunted down, slain, and end up with nothing.

They can go it alone and stick to the wild if they want, but the land is crawling with other things that would kill them or at least try.

Write up follows:

We went over a number of plans and possibilities for us for the trip, at one point talking about getting a ballista, but settled on going to the stabler and getting a few donkeys and then hitting the greengrocer and seeing about getting some rations.

We purchased two donkeys including bags, blankets, leads, and bridles. We also purchased two switches, one of them scourging, the other not. We also purchased food stuff, knowing that after 3 days it would start to spoil. However, between Steiner and Flimflam, the two priests felt confident that their god would help them to have the food either not spoil or purify at a later date.

Meanwhile, we asked subtly about the land nearer to Castle Sterling, learning that it was most likely a bog of swamplands and we should be ready and prepared for the worst. A trip to the moneychanger (and his arrogant attitude) had us convert some of our coinage. We were…surprised to learn that the exchange had new Argosian coins, stamped with this year’s date marking available – which disturbed us since most likely Shakun doesn’t have them available yet and it’s not yet 30 days into the new year. Is this something that might come up later? A problem? Something we should be aware of? For now we noted it and moved on.

We talked to our people about leaving tomorrow and that we should eat well and expect a long trip through some difficult terrain. All the henchmen and hirelings were thrilled to actually get to the meat of the adventure and promised to be ready. During the evening and our meal, Flimflam was invited to see Lord Gongruck, apparently the high honcho and leader of Varohelm. Expecting a similar situation as we had with Sir Balderi, Flimflam had himself mentally prepared.

It was when he learned that he was supposed to come alone that the group grew concerned. A group of 4 went together and three were asked to wait outside, including his dog and any weapon bigger and more dangerous than a knife. Finally assured this would be without any issue (not that the gnome didn’t believe this) he was escorted into the faintly decaying manor house that Lord Gongruck presided from.

Lord Gongruck was an older man past 60, balding white hair, gout, heavy set, jowly. He had two associates with him, Antonius and Vincius – both of them that could best be described as either muscle or lieutenants. Conversation was difficult at first since most of the fa├žade and ruse the party had established was pulled back and exposed as flimsy at best. The hunting for great cats story held, barely, but Lord Gongruck just KNEW that the party was interested in Castle Sterling and the lands around it – suspecting that magic was involved on some level.

Turns out that there is a vault there, supposedly, it’s been years since anyone has been there to check. But this vault was never opened and according to some records it has some treasure in it and Lord Gongruck and his people want it. Or at least half of it. If the party goes there and opens the vault, Gongruck wants half of the monetary treasure within and in exchange will arrange safe passage and transportation out of Varohelm and the Helmian Lands for the group. If we don’t? Then things will not be nearly as easy or safe for the party.

Flimflam was being given an offer he couldn’t refuse…so he didn’t. Handshakes were exchanged and blowjobs were provided for by a bevy of broken women Lord Gongruck had at his disposal. The druid left with the deal…but he did not think it was going to end so simply.

By 9:30 he was back at the Shining Sword and passed on what he had learned to the party. We discussed it briefly but decided for now to focus on our trip to Castle Sterling tomorrow. Spells were studied, goodberries prepared, and all manner of readying was done.

We awoke on the 29th at 6AM and broke our fast, prayed, and packed up. Our keys were given to the innkeeper and we went to the stables to get our donkeys and loaded provisions. Between ourselves and our hirelings, we had enough people to handle to animals. At 7:15 we left town and proceeded on our way.

The main road curved around the north edge of Helm Lake, most of the land showing older signs of clearing and newer signs of planting and fieldwork. However as he left Varohelm further behind the trees of Darkenwood were reclaiming the land and turning the former fields of rye and wheat back into forests. A stout dwarven made bridge of arched stone spanned the western section of the lake at its narrowest point after the two rivers joined together to form the Lake. We turned northward from here (where the western road would take us to Mount Ada and the mining encampment) and headed onward.

The quality of the road began deteriorating rapidly. We could see the land rise ahead of us as the Blackwater River headed downstream towards up from Mount Despair, most of the hills and smaller peaks were tree covered and still some distance away. But the road became fouler, rutted, pocked, and then eventually broken and difficult. Our pace slowed to a couple hundred yards every half turn of a glass as we navigated our way onward through swampier and fouler land.

Flimflam tried to have a talk with plant spell conversation with the Cypress and Cedar trees in the area but didn’t get much of a definitive answer. The day passed on and as the night settled down and the temperature dropped, we shivered and shuddered and pressed onward through the moonlit landscape of swamp, bog, and fen – convinced that Castle Sterling could not be much further. Our druid called on Demeter to keep him in the know if any cats were in the area, hoping that the 600’ radius would be enough of a warning for us to be prepared. Torches were lit, enhanced thanks to Steiner’s log of everburning, and the group slogged their way onward.

By 11 (our guess) that night, the party was tired, cold, damp, and miserable. But they were also frightened because according to Flimflam, a feline presence was shadowing us at a few hundred feet away to our east on the other side of the river. We couldn’t see it, but a few of us were convinced we could see its eyes reflecting in the dark. Our adrenaline firing and our strength renewed (briefly) we marched on, Tranis assuring the group that we were very close to the Castle.

And he was right.

Rising up out of the gloom ahead were the 35’ tall palisaded walls of Castle Sterling. Taller warding towers were seen along the corners and through the open gateway was the flagstone courtyard covered in debris. The man house of the Castle itself was beyond and it appeared there was a tower of some sort along the back of the complex. We fired off a fire arrow far to the east and over the river to attract the attention of the cats (2 of them now according to Flimflam) while we entered the courtyard and looked around.

It seemed to be empty (outside of trash and a dozen years of neglect) and the entire Castle was leaning slightly to the right/east at 5 degrees, testament to the instability of the ground, the encroaching swamp, and the not too distant river from where we were standing.

It had to be midnight and we were worn out and stretched thin. Some of the party lifted and shoved the gateway closed, finding the blocking bar nearby and bracing it in place; the rest of the group went to the closest tower – Southeast, and gave it a look over. Narrow arrowslits covered both the front of the castle and the courtyard, a door that was open but could be closed, three levels, tall ceilings, some racks and pallets, and most importantly, a potbellied stove on the 3rd floor that we could use for heat and comfort.

We coaxed the mules into the tower and left them on the bottom floor while the party made their way through the floors and proceeded to hack up one of the pallets for firewood and started amuch needed warming fire in the stove. We looked at the top of the tower and saw signs that a ballista had been mounted here once upon a time but was gone now. From here we knew we could see far and decided we would look more in the morning. For now we kicked off our boots and the mass of 20? Of us huddled on the 3rd floor to discuss what was to happen next and eventually get some much needed sleep.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Behind the Screen - Weather Effects

Weather Effects

I know there are tons of more complicated and in detail charts to use out there, I still own a pristine copy of the Wilderness Survival Guide and have just about every printed Dragon Magazine since issue #50 proudly displayed on the shelf in my basement, however I also like my game to flow and having a book of charts and tables to refer to so often and not get any real material worth out of them just seems crazy and bogs the game down.

So I use a simplified weather system in my world.

Type of Weather (d10)
1-3 Sunny day (with 3 being a few passing high altitude clouds)
4-6 Cloudy day (with 6 being a threat of rain/snow/storm)
7-9 Precipitation
0 Something special

And Temperature (d6)
1 15 deg F cooler
2 5-10 deg F cooler
3-4 Normalish
5 5-10 deg F warmer
6 15 deg F warmer

That’s it. The system is simple, sweet, and easy. No odd charts, it’s off my head and memory, and I move on.

Now some of the nitty/gritty/detail sections.

The area the party is in now is roughly the same latitudinal location as Georgia, North Texas, or lower California (sorry for the USA-centric positioning, I am a native of the country – Let’s call it 32 degrees North). This means that in the depths of the seasonal months (Feb, May, Aug, November – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall respectively) I use 35, 60, 85, 60 as the normal temps. I’ll drift that number accordingly 5 degrees from normal for each month in the equinox season, and 10 degree swing for each month in the vernal/autumnal season.

WTF does that mean? Lol. Easy explain:
Jan 40 Apr 50 Jul 80 Oct 70
Feb 35 May 60 Aug 85 Nov 60
Mar 40 Jun 70 Sep 80 Dec 50

This means that I can have in Feb a day where the temp can swing wildly between 20 degrees and 50 depending on the dice roll and it makes sense since most of them will be 35 degrees. That helps when I check for snow/melting if there is any on the ground and I don’t need a chart. Remember – these weather systems are supposed to be easy and easily remembered on the fly without having charts or complex systems or tables in place.

The area that my group was in last time was much further north, latitudinally the same as North Jersey, Central Pennsylvania and the like (Call it 40+ degrees North). So my seasonal month temperatures were a bit different: 25, 50, 80, 50. Colder winters and seasonality, and the summers were only a bit off.

The difference between the two areas means/meant that for the first grouping, 5/6 days were cold enough to have snow and keep it on the ground with only infrequent melting. The second grouping has a different swing of things with only 1 or 2 tops out of 6 days being cold enough to generate frost/snow.

I mention it because the party has been doing a lot of travelling lately and the weather, state of roads and ease of travel is pretty important right now and they have been in situations (before) where there were freak snow squalls that gave 2 feet of precipitation.

And that leads us back to the 1st chart/random numbers – the type of weather and rain/snow.

To see the type of precipitation, again the handy d6 comes out with: 1-3 light, 4-5 medium, and 6 – heavy.

Again – WTF does that mean?

Light – Drizzle on and off, maybe a brief but sudden summer type storm – lots of rain but short. Overall the total accumulation hovers between annoying and getting wet. Rainfall for light is between 1/10 inch and ½ inch. If it is snow – it’s between 1 and 5 inches.

Medium – A regular rain storm. It comes in and rains all the day. Great for plants, not so good for travel unless you like mud. Rainfall runs from ½ to 1 inch. If it’s snow, between 5 and 10 inches.

Heavy – A serious soaking. You are going to wet and miserable. Baladrana’s will give up the ghost after a few hours and expect to make a sickness check. Hope you have extra clothes and underwear since you are going to be unhappy without it. Rainfall runs 1 to 2 inches. Again, if snow, 10 to 20 inches.

Snow is 10x the accumulation as rain – easy to remember. As for qty, you can hand wave it or a d5 (d10/2) gives you your total for the day.

And that brings us to the “0” on the chart – Special. All random tables need a special. And for that I pull it out of my hat. I have had freak storms that drop 26” of snow, heat waves that spike the temperature up 30 from base or cold snaps dropping the temp the same amount down from normal. Hurricane? Sure! Tornado touch down? Why not! The long and short of it, anything that seems like it would make sense OR I haven’t had/done in a while comes up on that magic roll of “0”. Could I make a chart and plot some stuff out? Maybe, but it defeats the purpose of the way I do it, and that is to keep the game flowing, have some sort of logic, a viable and easy to use weather system, and keeping it simple.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Meet 103, Adv 6, 1/9/16

This was our first meeting back of the new year and we spent some of the game time just catching up and chewing the fat before getting down to play. It was a travel meeting (with at least 1 more planned after this) and I decided I was NOT going to hand wave travel this go round. It drags out the adventure but I think gives the distance and places traveled more scope and weight. Long and short of it, we are FAR from home and way out of our normal comfort zone.

Write up follows:

Before the afternoon pressed on too much, we traded some of our Argosian coins for the local Helmian ones – noting the age of the coins, as well as their distress and chipping (heavily worn, edges chipped, diameters slightly off). Our normal coins would raise too many flags we thought and we wanted to avoid any odd entanglements in the future. Not wanting to run afoul of any issues in the morning, we went to bed early and slept well.

The morning of Deathmonth the 27th was cold and foggy, but the party broke their fast and was down at the docks before 6 in the morning. The barge master met us, reviewed our writ allowing us to not only board his barge but the fact that it took us upriver to Varohelm, and begrudgingly let us on. He reminded us that the writ did NOT allow us to get off at any time; neither did it allow us to do anything other than be passenger during the entirety of the trip. We were given the back third of the barge as a staging area for ourselves. We gave Captain Dornus 20 nobles to various dock crossing fees that we would have to pay when we arrived at Varohelm and assured him we would be no trouble.

By 6:30 an 8-donkey team had been assembled and with a number of handlers, leads, and poling, the barge was towed slowly upriver and we left Last Town behind. The trip was slow but steady and we got a chance to see the majority of the Black Water River in this area as well as Darkenwoods itself. Surprisingly, the amount of swamps were fairly small although the banks of the river were heavy with Cypress and Cedar trees. There was a short area where about a mile of the north bank was pretty swampy and the roadbed the donkeys were travelling on became a raised platform of wooden timbers.

As the evening was getting on we arrived at Midway’s Crossing, a mouthy name of a converted waystation that had grown to some sort of town. There was an arcing bridge that crossed the river here and from the look of things and the map that Steiner had the presence of copying from memory after we had left Sir Balderi’s earlier; there was a road north out of here that went north to someplace called Danver’s Clearing. However, as had been explained to us, we would NOT be leaving the barge since we didn’t want to a) piss off the locals, b) pay for 2 dock crossing fees (off and on the boat), c) give anyone a reason to separate the party for any reason AND possibly suss out both Marcus and Erd as elves on board. Captain Dornus told us that we would stay here at Midway’s Crossing for 2 hours or so in order for the men to stretch their legs and to get a new team of donkeys hitched up to tow us the rest of the way upriver.

Whether it was the citizens of Midway’s Crossing or some plants by Captain Dornus and his crew, a number of people did come to the dock to entice the party. First a group of hookers and their pimp tried to either get the party to come off or to come on board to take care of the group; we rebuffed them often and hard. Then in the dark, a shadowy figure offered to give us a sealed metal box and some coins if we could deliver it to a contact in Varohelm; we also said no and wished his well and to get the fuck away from us.

By 8:30 that night we were off and from what the Captain was telling us, it was 15 or so hours from Midway’s Crossing to Helm Lake (body of water that Varohelm was on, north side of the lake). It was dark and we were getting tired, plus being on the barge another more than half a day was going to make the party useless when we arrived. So we decided that we would stagger our sleep for now, with everyone getting a full night by spacing it out so that as many party members that could be up at one time would do so. It’s not that we didn’t trust the Captain or his crew…it’s just that we didn’t trust them.

It might have been for the best because at least twice, crewmen had some reason to come back to our area of the barge to “check lines” before leaving us alone. Eventually the dawn rose and the plodding donkeys and their handlers brought us further along. By 10:30 the trees were thinning and showed eventual signs of being harvested. Small fields of wild wheat and rye were dotting the land and in the distance we could see the waterway widening and a walled city taking up an area on the north shore.

We passed into Helm Lake by 11 and the current disappeared. Many smaller fishing boats and barges dotted the lake – over 3 miles wide and ¾ of a mile or so long. The city itself, Varohelm, was 2 or 3 times the size of Shakun and from our expectation, should house between 6 and 9 thousand people. The walls were over 30’ tall with numerous out pointed punji stakes fastened to the tops. Assorted towers stuck out further, some of them with ballista on top. Everywhere we looked though showed signs of decay, wear, assault, and undermanning.

When the donkeys were finally allowed to pass through the gate and tow the barge into the city itself, we had a chance to see how rough things really were. Varohelm was in a state of decay. At least a fifth of all the buildings we saw were either abandoned or demolished. It looked like swaths of the town were destroyed some time ago and although it was cleaned up, the rubble and foundations remained behind.

A number of docks stuck out from the city and we were pulled up to one where we paid Captain Dornus and disembarked. We walked the wharf area for a bit, eventually passing northward through the warehouse district. People were about, almost none of them in serious armor, but just about everyone was armed so we did not stand too far out. There was a hollowness to the people, as if they were tired or didn’t get enough nutrition in their diet.

We were given advice on two main inns in town, Shining Sword and the Flame Bolt Inn (the later one supposedly where Wizard-Lord Erazmus himself had stayed in the past). We went to the Shining Sword, reserved a room or two (at what felt was a SERIOUSLY reduced price – like 15% or so of what we would normally pay). We learned that the town is pretty hungry, empty, and poor. Although the citizenry are happy about their lot in life, they all seem to have this interest and desire to move away and making it “past Last Town and to the riches of Brewersbridge beyond.” However, the cost to move is very heavy with lots of graft and payoffs needed along the way. A few have hoofed it overland but with the giant Cats and the Risenwald, it’s pretty much assumed to be a suicide mission.

We got a layout of the two main streets and what shops were about and where we needed to go. As for Castle Sterling, the word is that the land has gone to swamp around it and a trip that might have taken 8 hours once upon a time with the roads, is now something to take much longer. We were going to need boots for the party. A cobbler was on the far end of town so we left the Shining Sword and proceeded our way there. Two main temples in Town: Ares and Gaia. There were a militant arm of the temple of Ares called Elfhunters and there was a reward if anyone was able to provide information towards the capture and sighting of an elf.

We avoided them.

Stopping at the Flame Bolt, we took a look at the two stuffed cat heads they had on display (learning that the first one was taken down by a group of 42, after which 10 of the party had died, While the 2nd one was a surprise attack on 17, where 4 of the party managed to survive the assault), and then moved on to the cobbler.

His prices were also crazy low. We bought 20 boots from his stock (high hard), spent a fraction of what were we would normally and left with our purchases happy and informed the man that his skills would go far in Shakun if he could make it there.

It was now 3 PM on Deathmonth the 28th and we were talking about what our next place to visit would be if we were to head off to Castle Sterling tomorrow.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Meet 8, Adv B2, 1/9/16 - Youth Group

The next youth meeting took place on a Saturday a few hours before my normal group got together. The new girl, Ashley, could not make the meeting since it was her sister’s birthday (as she indicated – she’d rather be over playing D&D) so I pulled her character out for the time being while the rest of the party revisited the goblin cave and pressed onward.

Write up follows:

The hobgoblins kept pace with the fleeing party for some time before giving up and turning back, their laughter taunting us as their voices echoed behind. As one, the party had retreated all the way back to the main entrance by the garbage pit and took the time to catch their breath and decide on what was to happen next. Proserpine was the most winded and freaked out, so we allowed her to leave, the elven spellsword making her way out of the caves and ravine, where she would meet with us at the wood line in a few hours after the party was ready to leave for the day.

One down now, the four remaining members went over our choices and decided going back to the hobgoblins now that they were aware of us and most likely prepared would be foolish. Instead we opted to head to the right corridor, which we knew led back to the goblin guard post and at some point the ogre that had been working with them.

So torches lit and swords and hammers at the ready, the party moved their way down the hall until they arrived at the “T” intersection – the right opened up to the goblin guard room (now dark, quiet, and empty) and the left led down a corridor we had never been at before. Discussions were hissed back and forth in the gloom but it was resolved we would look left and see what was down there.

Charlotte went first, checking for traps as we went. The corridor went 15 paces or so and turned to the left again, but at the end of the hall were over a half dozen large barrels and at least two oversized shipping crates. We approached with care, noted the shipments were all still sealed and had markings from Lyon on it – trade goods and quite some distance from here.

Looking past the stored goods the corridor went another dozen paces or so and ended at what seemed to be a dead end. A chipped and weathered water fountain took up the back wall and at the base of the fountain was a wooden chest banded in iron straps, latched and locked. No one wanted to touch the fountain (water was only trickling down the face) and the chest was inviting, but we were concerned.

It was decided that William and Loq would guard the “T” section of the hall while Charlotte and William went to work on what we’ve found. The barrels seemed to have wheat and rye – not flour, the seeds and chaff. As for the end of the hall, after 10’ poling the area and splashing the water a bit – it was assumed that there were no traps. Charlotte also couldn’t get the chest lock opened no matter how hard she tried. We discussed options and settled on William beating the wooden chest near the hasp with his sword for a bit until it gave way. This was going to make some noise – but we figured a minute or two tops and then the hell with it.

The problem became apparent after 30 seconds when we realized that we were making a REAL hell of a racket. So much racket that Loq and William were very worried. So worried that they kept looking back down the hall towards the main entrance – and that’s when they saw over a dozen small dog-faced lizard looking creatures coming down the hall towards us armed with bone knives and fire sharpened sticks. When they saw us at the end of the hall, the leader of them pointed at us, arced his head back, and roared something in his language long and loud – which inspired the rest of the kobolds to charge us.

William and Loq together took two of the flasks of oil off William’s backpack and hurled them at the ground by the entrance of the “T” – and then set it alight. The flames roared up but the spreading oil let us know that this wasn’t going to last very long. So we backed up down the hall, and the four of us shoved the barrels and boxes into a sort of barricade to slow the kobolds down.

But before we could finish it, a crazy kobold was hurled over the fire, rolled to a stop, and screamed his head off charging the party. And then another one followed. And another. They were tossing/leaping their warriors OVER the fire – and they kept on coming in 2’s and 3’s!

Arrows were shot, swords were swung, and the barrels actually helped to slow down the first few who died at the end of the corridor. But there were others, and they kept coming. And the dead and wounded were mounding up, which made the next jumping leaping lizard-like dog men easier to get to us. And there were lots of them.

One of them actually cleared William’s head, landing in the back ranks with Loq and Charlotte, bone knife slashing. Corg was holding his own but at one point we had 5 of them pressing our front rank and one of them behind us. Charlotte switched over from her bow to her enchanted dagger we got from Martigan the man holy man and his mountain lion. As she drew it and began to swing, a wave of peace slowed over her and she noted she was not as worried, at ease and calm, and moving a tick faster than the world around her – making her blows that much more likely to hit and hit a vital area.

As the combat went back and forth, it seemed that at one point the kobolds were going to break and run, but the fire died out and the last of them behind the flames joined the fight and the dog-faced monsters morale was renewed.

One of them ran to the goblin guard post and returned with a chair that he held on to his shoulders for some reason. We didn’t know what and why until one of the kobolds jumped onto the chair and brought his crossbow to bear against the party. And another kobold still at ground level did the same. This would allow them to shoot into the party AND still have one of them hit the back ranks.

Like Charlotte and her Leather Armor.

The bolts fired and William’s shield took one quarrel while Charlotte managed to dodge one that whizzed by her head. Loq’s Warhammer smashed one of the kobolds that was dancing on a barrel and stabbing at Corg while the party was finally getting the upper hand against the monsters, whittling the numbers down.

And then William was shot in the chest and his new platemail breastplate failed. The bolt punched in, dropping the warrior almost to 0, forcing William to man the front line alone. Charlotte swapped to her bow while another crossbow bolt just missed her by 4 inches. Loq had a healing elixir ready and was trying to yank the bolt out without killing the party’s fighter and leader. And the kobolds kept on attacking and shooting us.

Charlotte’s arrow only wounded the aloft crossbower who returned the favor again – and missed our thief again!! Corg finished off another front line kobold and William was finally stood upright, the minty taste of the healing elixir fresh on his tongue. The party rallied back and a lucky shot from Charlotte caught the held aloft crossbower in the neck, knocking him from the post and falling to the ground. Down to only a few, the kobolds looked at one another, spoke in their own language unhurriedly, and turned to leave – and from our biggest fears – to get a shit load more of their clan and kill off the group.

We could not get over the barricade of barrels, boxes, and dead bodies nearly fast enough and were bemoaning that we would have to leave and leave now, giving up all the found barrels and chests and what not when we heard the sounds of combat down the hall and then a few pitched screams. Light came around the corner and we beheld a wandering party of armed and armored gnomes coming towards us, lantern held high and long spears pointed ahead.

There were 6 of them and they were here to try and make their fortunes here at the caves. They killed the leaving kobolds and we talked a bit. Honest and friendly, forthright and lawful, they discussed what they had seen, took the crossbows and bolts as a thank you for their efforts, and were given a heads up of the hobgoblins down the left hall since they indicated they wanted to go that way.

On their leave we decided to take the barrels and boxes that we could carry, and the inside of the chest had three cotton shirts dyed in a striped red and brown pattern that made no sense to us. Shirts? In a locked chest? We took it with us and then left.

Rejoining Proserpine we had a slow hoof back to the Keep, the trip taking longer due to our belongings. Upon arrival back at the keep we “gave” the trade goods we had rescued back to the Castellan who rewarded us 30 crowns (we split it up). We also learned the shirts were the daywear of a troupe of priest of Ares who had been missing from the area now for 2 weeks.

Resting for the night, we wanted to seek out other adventurers who had been further through the caves to try and get their heads up on what might be ahead of us and what we might see. Lastly, it was noted that Loq and Charlotte had performed pretty well in the caves and their skills seemed to be better that we gave them credit for. Loq was going to pray to Zeus as he felt a higher connection with his god and we hoped that this would help us out and pay off for us on the next trip out to the caves.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Meet 7, Adv B2, 12/29/15 - Youth Group

This was the last Tuesday of the Christmas break and my daughter had invited one of her friends over to play, a girl who had never played any game like this before (short of Heroquest the prior month during a sleepover). She rolled up an elf, dug around for a name in some Roman books, and was ready to go after a short purchase of equipment.

Write up follows:

Charlotte spent most of her time at the archery range with the fletcher in order to continue the making and balancing of fire arrows. This activity took up much of her time until the sun was beginning to set. William however wandered the Keep in order to help out those unable to function or who were down on their luck. He didn’t hand out coins; instead he lifted water from the well for the older women with the bent backs. He carried wood for the carpenters and pallets of stones for the masons. He made himself available to anyone who needed some help and was unafraid to get his hands dirty. It was noted by many of the denizens of the Keep William’s actions and besides a large amount of thanks, he was also given small tokens of appreciation. Not limited to a small platter of just made chocolate chip cookies.

And in true William fashion, he shared those as well.

At the tap room that night; William, Charlotte, Loq, and Corg discussed going back to the Caves of Chaos tomorrow and if they should look for a 5th to help out in the endeavor. This came up mainly because there were some new want-to-be adventurers who showed up at the keep over the last few days, and one of them was a dusky skinned elven spellsword from the Greensward Forests of Northern Genevosa. The four-some approached the exotic looking demi-human and introduced themselves. Within a few minutes the group had made the newcomer, Proserpine, feel welcome although she did appear to be quiet and a little guarded while surrounded by the humans. However, she was very interested in joining us tomorrow and made an effort to let us know that we would see her in the morning.

The next morning the party joined William at the Moneychanger where he cashed in his large supply of silver for gold coins and then after topping off the water skins, the group set off down the Eastern Road. It wound through the swamps and trees, curving ever more northward as it was swallowed on both sides by the thick forest before the came to where the western side of the roadway was flattened and upset, the mound of earth and wood leading up and then down into the Chaos Ravine and the caves there.

It was quiet here, sun was shining but no birds were in the sky. The grasses in the ravine were getting taller, up to calf height now, but as for movement there was none. Charlotte suggested the party wait here at the tree line while she went down to the entrance of the goblin cave again and checked it out. We felt it was dangerous and most likely stupid for her to go alone but she was adamant that she wanted to make sure the place was ok. So we watched her as she kept to the side of the ravine, darting from grass to bush to tree until she stopped at the cave. She looked in for a bit, disappeared inside a few moments and came back out motioning Proserpine only to come forward.

Not nearly as quiet as Charlotte since she was clad in platemail and sporting a clean elvish made sword, Proserpine still moved with other-worldly elven grace and in short time was standing by our thief. Charlotte let Proserpine know that she could not see beyond the entryway due to the gloom and darkness and hoped the spellsword’s infravision would let us know if the place was clear. So she walked in half a dozen paces, her vision snapped over, and she assured Charlotte that there were no living figures to be seen nearby.

We motioned the last three members over and then we entered and lit a torch. As before, we had three choices and this time we looked down the center one. The hall was sloping slightly and covered in garbage, leading to a hole in the back of the slope. There was talk about going forward and checking it out but it was obviously a garbage chute the goblins must use – and when a fat pink tentacle stuck itself over the rim of the pit and went questing for more “garbage” to pull in and eat, we backed away and rethought our choices.

This time we decided on the left passage since it had been sort of cleared by us in the past, eventually leading up to a set of stairs and a doorway with hobgoblin voices and a mentioning of dinner. So we went ahead until the passage split, the left side covered in webbing and smelling musty and rank. While we were looking around for secret doors and Charlotte was verifying that the next chamber was indeed empty, Proserpine and her keen infravision noticed a heat source on the ceiling was crawling around and getting…closer. And closer.

And then the group came back with the torch, spoiled her vision, and all we saw were webs on the ceiling hanging down like dusty drapes. She told us what she had seen so Charlotte…set the webs on fire with her torch.

This startled a LARGE number of spiders to drop from the ceiling into two decent swarms and then run toward the party. At the same time a very large spider the size of a small dog dropped down and launched itself at the group. It bounded onto William and scrabbled across his armor, spewing venom everywhere while Corg and Proserpine tried to fight it off. The swarms though charged the group and Charlotte threw herself up and out of the way, clambering up the nearest wall as the spiders passed below her feet and washed up Loq’s legs.

The big spider on William was eventually cloven in twain and the swarms were chased away. Some light wounding to the entire party but nothing that we couldn’t fight through. After making sure all wounds were bound and we were ready, we moved onward through the cavern.

The former guard room was empty, nothing of value left except for a copper brazier. There were thoughts about taking it but when we tried to move it it dumped over, spilling warm coals everywhere and making a butt load of noise. The group ran back and away, a door opened somewhere else in the complex ahead of us, a voice called out in hobgoblin asking who was there (Proserpine translated for us) and then closed the door and went back to whatever they were doing.

After making sure the coast was very clear, we all went back to the former guard room, climbed the stairs, (both sets), and made out way to the end of the hall where an imposing door was and had a note above it that they would love to have us for dinner. We weren’t amused.

We drew up into battle formation and then, opened the door. It had an 8 count of tall, orange haired green skinned hobgoblins! And they were NOT amused to see us. We bottlenecked the doorway and stood shoulder to shoulder, weapons out and met their charge head on. William was under the impression we were going to run, so was surprised to see everyone engage the hobgoblins as he tried to back away, eventually reversing his direction when he realized combat was occurring.

Two of the female hobgoblins ran back down the corridor in the back of the chamber, yelling as they ran about needing help. The rest of them hit us and hit us hard. Swords and axes cut, spears stabbed, and in no time we were fighting too damned many of them. Loq held the 2nd rank and was swinging his war hammer with surprisingly deadly aim and accuracy, the cleric calling out to the gods as he laid into the enemy one swing at a time. As our hit points whittled away, elixirs came out and kept the party standing upright and terrible; our own blows dropping the poorly armored greenskins with steady cadence, freeing us up to bring the fight out of the hall and into the room, widening our front and getting three of our fighters to the front line now.

But we did hear voices in the back of the cave and more hobgoblins were called to arms. And from the clattering noises and scraped and squeals, we assumed those coming down the distant corridor towards us were better armored and more militant – something our group did not want to face in such a short period of time. So we redoubled our efforts and the number of hobgoblins before us fell to three, then two, then finally one. He refused to surrender, struggling arm in arm with Proserpine, the two of them wailing away at one another until finally he fell.

And with the growing roar of the charging hobgoblins almost upon us, we turned and ran from the room and back down the stairs, trying to make our way to the entrance in hopes that the sure to be more than dozen greenskin monsters were going to give up the chase before too long.