It was another sort of slow night as we are ramping back into playing. I don't mind since I am sleep deprived with a 3 month old son in the house who is still not on a full night sleep schedule (at all!).
However, we had a good night playing and even though the adventure is "short", "One location", and "ship in a bottle" as far as destination is concerned - the time in characters spent getting there and taking care of Sisspak is open and fluid.
So when the wandering monster hit and the random roll came up wargs, I was like. fuck. I don't remember them in detail so had to look. Yeah, they're a bitch. And then the random amount came up 10 and I was seriously thinking, will this be a TPK from some wandering attack?
I forgot briefly how effective old school playing is. Rangers, druids, animal companions, use of terrain, and a plan turned a straight up their side vs our side combat where the group is outclassed into a decisive battle where tactics and well placed spells and support funneled the encounter and allowed the group to prevail.
From my side of the screen? It was very cool.
Write up follows:
We discussed our leaving and through our conversation, came to the conclusion that we’d like to have another person at our back and side. There are a few hirelings we’ve used before who make their home in Shakun but one of the first and still most capable ones was Ben Eiver. Ben normally works as a horse trader for Higrane but when the opportunity calls for it, he does have military background and hires himself out as a Shield bearer. He was happy to be approached and was glad to sign on. His skills have increased since we first did work with him a year ago so he earns 5 crowns/day and a ¼ share.
We also hunted down the 15 year old Etterig who we’ve dubbed “Link” long ago to once again perform as our linkboy, and also on Avidius’ request, hired a porter – falling back on the middle aged Urthar to do the job for us.
With hirelings in place and taking the time to reorganize our packs on last time, we were out the gate by 1 PM and heading north to the Grassy Hills knowing that we would have to camp out in the field overnight. It would mean though that we’d hit Shadowfeet Crossing by noon the next day – hopefully at a time when goblin activity would be at a minimum.
We traveled first to where Whelan had been slain, seeing the spray of blood in the snow from the impact and then the roll down the side of the hill to the bloody snow where he ended up at last. Nothing new came to us here so we followed Whelan’s tracks backward.
At the apex of the next hill we saw another paid of poorly booted tracks had been staying in the doomed hunter’s, stood here for some time, and then turned back and headed back the way he too came from, going to the distant north. By our guess it’s been 6 hours and even with 5 miles visibility, we didn’t see anything or anyone at this time. We did look though and noted it was 350 or so feet from this hill to the one where Whelan died.
Flimflam reiterated his belief that Whelan had been taken out not by a bolt from Zeus, but from a goblin made Luciferian weapon. We had run into them earlier and Fergus had been the victim of one, called an “Elf Rage”, but that was more of a spray and shorter ranged weapon. This one had to be more accurate and defined. Avidius equated it to a heavy crossbow both in stopping power and seemingly potential firing distance.
It was about 2ish or later when we hit Bogun’s Rise, a plateau-like area a mile north of Shakun. The trail(s) had continued on from here with the only exception being the booted figure that had most likely taken Whelan out was moving at a ground consuming loping stride and heading back north with a comfortable haste. We were not going to catch up to him until we arrived at Shadowfeet Crossing.
It was about 3:30 when we heard an ululating wolf cry from behind us. And then a few moments later, another one from somewhere else behind us. The cries were deeper than we expected them to be, and there was an odd trilling to them as well. That’s when our ranger and druid informed us that it was not wolves behind us…but worgs.
And there were no caves or structures in the nearby area.
The best we had was a copse of trees in the next valley, 50 or so twisted elms and scrub pines. The winter grasses were 4’ tall and we had to run now before we were caught in the open. The party pounded down the hill, our line stretching out as we made our headway. The dogs and animals went to the far side of the copse, and those that could climb should get their asses in a tree now while they can.
Tranis stayed down, Ben as well, Steiner also. Flimflam made his way to a tree and stayed behind it and Geld was unable to scramble up as the branches were snapping beneath her.
Two packs of 5 worgs, 500 lb. plus slavering dire wolves, came at us, one from around the side of the nearest hill and the other pack with an alpha male present from on top of it. Tranis tried shooting one but the arrow missed, and Flimflam was calling to Demeter to plant growth the area. The grasses writhed and sprouted seeds, thickening and binding around, even the closest trees bloomed with sudden leaves in the snowy landscape. The 5 wolves hit the mass of now dense grasses and their headlong charge slowed. Then the 2nd group started to move, making a run for the party but they were further and wouldn’t get here this round.
The first two worgs hit the group and Caidius stepped from around the closest tree, backstabbing the first one with an arrow. Tranis swapped to his sword and his lynx jumped on the worg’s back, biting and snarling. Steiner called to Apollo and a bless ran through the party while Ben stood side by side with Tranis and protected the ranger from the sudden lupine assault.
A fifth worg had pulled away and was heading to attack Geld who laid her spear in front of her and set it to receive the worg’s charge. Avidius struck it with an arrow but we noted real fast that arrows were not very effective against the worgs – this was going to require wet work and sword play.
The battle line was spread out and Flimflam then called to Demeter to entangle the now thickened grasses, catching 4 of the potential 6 worgs in the flailing vegetation. Caidius managed to get a solid blow on the closest worg and it fell over dead while Geld’s enchanted boar spear tore through the one distant one. The alpha male and 2 others were forced to run further afield to avoid the entangled grasses which meant only one of them actually made the combat this round.
The worg’s blows were strong and hit points were whittling away with each slavering bite and tearing rend. But we dropped a 3rd one about the same time that one of the worg’s entangled managed to rip its way free. Avidius climbed down from his perch and was going to sneak around to help the fight while Marcus from his tree perch 15’ off the ground called out some arcanic words and summoned a monster – not just any monster, but an 900# almost 8 ½’ tall ogress!. After making short work of the worg Geld was fighting, the ogre and Geld set off to help Ben, Caidius, Steiner, Tranis, and Flimflam who were engaged in the main fight.
The ogre hit the alpha worg and the two of them bashed at each other terribly while Tranis managed to get a lucky blow, scalping on the local worgs so badly that both of its ears and the entire shelf of flesh on top of its head was ripped free, flapping about like a loose hood. The worg was screaming in piteous pain and was out of the fight for now.
We took some more blows but remained standing. The battle was swaying in our direction. Steiner let us know that the blessing from Apollo was going to fade shortly and we should press on hard. Flimflam had transformed himself to a bird and from the sky called out to Demeter and summoned a nature’s ally to help us.
And a 15’ crocodile appeared right behind the alpha worg and attacked. It managed to get a grip on the beast’s underside, tear his guts open, and roll into them spilling his intestines around. We called the rest of our animals in to join the fight and two of the worgs that had been entangled were let free where they ran off into the hills just after the last of the battle was over.
Healing was dispensed and we talked about what was next. There were 8 worgs here, and the skins would be worth over 30 nobles back at town. Do we take the time to skin them and return to Shakun or press on? Well, the party opted to spend many hours hanging the worgs and stripping the skin from them. We managed to get 7 worg pelts and Marcus was able to study Fireball (which we all agreed would have been real fucking handy during the worg fight!).
It was 8 pm when we turned back and headed the long trip back to Shakun. The guards at Northgate were surprised to see us and let us in, towing 240# of wolf pelts. We went back to our Hall (and Tower), gathered ourselves for sleep, and crashed.
The next morning had us at Farthing Leatherworks where we quickly sold the hides and garnered over 240 nobles for our efforts. It was 8:10 AM on Restmonth the 27th and we were going to try and get back out there ASAP. The weather was cloudy today and warmer (high 30’s, low 40’s) so the snow melt and tracks would be fading quickly as the day was going to go on.