Monday, February 9, 2015

Lions and Gnolls and Demons, Oh My!

Session 3, February 7, 2015 
The party consists of:
Melvin the Magnificient (male wizard,  (a slightly transmuted) David (aka me)
Deilip (male elf rescued from the bugbears) - David (aka me)
Yesod Zul (male-ish fighter) Elli
Albert Franklin (male cleric) - Ed
Skalgos (male wizard) - Jonathan
Spider (male thief) - Justin
DM - Peter (Who gets author credit for this post!)

Yesod and Albert are "barbarians" from the demon-haunted northlands beyond The Keep,
Skalgos and Spider are running from Baron Akar's Law (stealing from the wrong personage is never a good idea).
Everybody else (notably Nayla, Raph, and Alsador) is busy licking their wounds.

On the morning of Day 5, Melvin begins recruiting "new help" for his "quest" to find Lord Kendall. Luckily everybody is on board as soon as an equitable split of loot is agreed upon. The group heads out along the north road in the middle of the thunderstorm (that chafes in plate!). After a few hours they unexpectedly run into a hungry Mountain Lion. It charges at Yesod and inflicts some gruesome scratches, but Melvin saves the day with his Sleep spell. Yesod promptly covers himself in even more blood by skinning the beast and extracting its brain.

As more lightning and thunder strikes in the never-ending luke-warm rain, the group decides that they've had enough. They tie the carcass to Skalgos' staff and carry it back to the keep where they can unexpectedly sell it as a delicacy. Yesod grosses out about half the keep's population when he (?) starts squishing brain matter all over the Mountain Lion skin to cure it. Meanwhile Skalgos manages to "cook up" a relationship with the taverner and they prepare Mountain Lion stew together. All is set for a dry night indoors when suddenly...

Flames to the South: The Monastary of Oghma is under attack! Chaos ensues as residents of the keep panic and even the guard has some trouble getting their shit together. Melvin of course volunteers the services of his group to investigate what is going on and the adventurers once again find themselves outside in the pouring rain, heading south this time.

It's getting dark by the time they sight the monastery. The gate is smashed and the palisade has been torn down in several places. All the buildings, including the main temple that presumably housed the library, are on fire. From afar Melvin and friends spot a large group of hyena-headed humanoids in the process of clearing out. But as the they debate what to do next, they are surprised by a bunch of arrows fired out of the nearby bushes.

Four sneaky little Kobolds were apparently stationed here as a rear-guard, and whoever put them there must have impressed upon them that they need to kill any reinforcements The Keep might send. But despite the ineffectual attacks of Deilip they don't last very long: One gets blown to bits by Skalgos' magic skulls wreathed in turqoise flame (aka magic missle), another is skewered by Yesod, and a third backstabs himself on Spider's waiting blade. The fourth one makes it out though. Deilip gives chase but loses the little bugger in the rain after a few rounds.

Weary of attacking the gnolls the party decides to send Spider to scout ahead quietly while the rest of them hide in the bushes and wait things out. Skalgos has the idea of interrogating the kobold before he bleeds out, a task made more difficult by the fact that his victim is in and out of consciousness. In hopes of improving the situation Albert casts Cure Light Wounds on the kobold who promptly decides to keep "playing dead" anyway. Of course they also discover at this point that nobody in the group speaks kobold to begin with. Albert at least gets a gagged pet-kobold out of this.

Without the usual concerto of jingling plate armor in tow, Spider has no problem sneaking up on the monastery. He peers around a breach in the palisade and catches sight of the biggest, meanest gnoll leaving at the back of his troops. The bodies of a few gnolls and many kobolds lie strewn about between the burning buildings, as do the bodies of many monks of Oghma. He decides that there's really nobody to save anymore and returns to the rest of the group with the grim news.

Since the gnolls seem to be leaving, and since the kobold that got away apparently didn't report on the player characters, Melvin decides that they should at least take a first-hand look at the massacre to make sure that there really are no survivors. So they cautiously approach the place together, ready for a fight that never comes: The gnolls actually left, no ambush! However, a more detailed look at the site of the battle reveals that two of the dead humans are not monks of Oghma at all, indeed they seem to be clerics of Erythnul! (DM Note - Sorry I retconned this, originally I said Hextor but I had my gods mixed up.) As the rain puts out the last of the fires, a brief investigation of the main temple reveals that most likely the humanoid forces came for certain books in Oghma's library, potentially a big setback for the forces of good!

As our group is about to head back, a troop of guards finally arrives from The Keep. Melvin wants to report to Gilda the Castellan, but the captain of the guard recommends talking to the Bailiff or his scribe instead (apparently the two room together and are pretty sensible, something that Melvin feels cannot be said for Gilda). The mood at The Keep is certainly at a new low now that the forces of Chaos have shown themselves this brazenly.

The next day (no more rain but lots of mosquitos!) is spent on an uneventful trip up the northern road, mostly to get a better feel for the territory that Melvin believes Lord Kendall would be held prisoner in. The party encounters one of the patrols from The Keep tasked with keeping the North Road safe, but nothing else of importance transpires during the trip. Later in the evening, however, the group finds out that the patrol they had met earlier never reported back in.

Day 7 sees the adventurers return to where they last saw the patrol themselves. They find a small force of guards from The Keep a little north of that position, clearly freaked out by what they found: Bits and pieces of (apparently) two of the missing guards, no sight of the other two (or the missing pieces for that matter). Yesod and Albert decide to kick it ranger-style and look for tracks, and despite his rather dimwitted nature Yesod seems to have a real knack for this kind of thing. (The soaked, marshy ground might have helped a little.) The group discovers the tracks of a large, heavy creature with hoofs, apparently bipedal. Melvin concluces that a demon must be on the lose, after all the entire keep was abuzz last night with talk about the evils of the underworld coming to swallow the borderlands whole...

Unperturbed by this possibilty the barbarians lead the group on a chase of this mysterious monstrosity. A few hours later they find a tall but narrow cave mouth the tracks lead to and once again it is decided that Spider should scout ahead by himself. When a few minutes later they hear the thief shout "SOMETHING'S REALLY WRONG HERE!" they all charge in, only to find out what exactly is wrong. Immediately after entering the cave, the group becomes first dizzy and then horribly confused. They cannot seem to recall where they just were and how they got to this particular point of the cave.

The group decides to stay together and not lose sight of one another (smart move) as they slowly creep into a cave they saw a red glow in. Strange clicking sounds can be heard as well, but nobody seems to be sure from where exactly. As they enter the cave proper, Yesod catches the strangest sight out of the corner of her (?) eye: To the left of the tunnel they came down a smaller tunnel branches off, and Spider is clinging to the walls of that smaller tunnel in a desperate attempt not to be seen. As Yesod clears his (?) throat, Spider whips around in confusion which quickly turns into relief. Then the fire beetles attack.

As luck would have it the adventurers react almost instantaneously: They all make their way down the smaller tunnel, leaving Yesod the Barbarian in the back to block the beetles at a choke point. Maybe not a strategy to use against intelligent monsters who could cut around to the other side, but for the beetles it worked great. A rather entertaining battle ensues as Melvin and Skalgos hang back, Spider repeatedly fires his crossbow to no avail (bolts everywhere!), Albert takes Skalgos' halberd and tries to help from the second rank, Deilip takes Skalgos' halberd from Albert and tries to help from the second rank and promptly gets it stuck across the hallway, Albert throws hammer after dagger after dagger without hitting a beetle, and so on. Yesod eventually succeeds in killing all the beetles with only minor help from one magic missle and one crossbow bolt that actually hits. Victory!

Sadly the beetles do not have anything valuable on them, so after the battle is won the group is back where they started: Somewhere deep in the caverns with no idea how to get out. They decide to head down the smaller hallway, then an even smaller hallway again and luckily Yesod can stop them before tumbling into another cave full of beetles. They successfully avoid a strange cave in which some flapping sounds are heard, stumble a bit further down the tunnel, and much to their surprise suddenly find themselves at the mouth of the cave again. What gives?

A quick decision is made that heading back inside with a wounded barbarian would not be a good idea, especially since they saw no sign whatsoever yet of the large demon they are hunting. So they strategically withdraw back to The Keep to solve this mystery another day. Adventure ends. :-)

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