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Saturday, September 20, 2008

What's Your Marching Order? - In Place!

So here begins the new campaign! This time, Cathy is our DM and Bruce is playing. Katy is actually NOT playing an Elf or a ranger character. Ken is NOT playing a magic user character. It's fun to change things up now and then.

Ken and Cathy, about the king: Oh, no the king is asking us to come into his parlor! - He's not a spider. - Do we know that?
Cathy, Katy, Bruce, and Ken, about the party's adversary: He's a half-dragon. - He's only got one wing. - He flies around in circles. - That's why they're always able to catch him!
Cathy and Ken, about a particular of gameplay: What's your marching order? - In place!
Cathy and Bruce, as the party reached a fork in the road: Do you want to stop here or go on? - Let us stop here ... and die!
Bruce, about the search rolls the party made: I thought I was searching the body, but actually I just tripped over it.
Cathy and Ken, about the difficult terrain: Well, I didn't let you charge. - Nope, cash only.

The party had previously come to the attention of the king and he was most pleased with them. So it wasn't too surprising when King Reginald sent a summons to the threesome asking them to come to Montrill where he was picking up his annual addition to the Crown Jewels. The newest royal scepter - masterwork of platinum studded with peridots and diamonds - had been stolen. The suspect was a well-known jewel thief named Robie, a Half-Dragon who lived in the mountains north of Montrill. He tended to stash stolen goods in caves and come back for them later. He never wandered far from Montrill and was a master of disguise as well as the use of poison. He was spotted near a cave three days from Montrill; it was not known whether he had followers or accomplices.

The king's messenger handed the adventurers each a small purse containing 30,000gp for supplies. His majesty's letter promised additional payment when the scepter was returned. It closed with, "Don't delay, but make every effort to arrive here unharmed." His task completed, the royal messenger bowed to the group, remounted his horse, and rode away.

The adventurers knew that the road they would have to travel was plagued by a large band of highwaymen. These renegades attacked travelers going between the capitol city of Nodnol and Woodside, whence the party would embark. However, there was also a caravan which traveled the same route the group must take. It followed a routine, continuous circuit from Nodnol to Montrill and back again, stopping at each city along the way. Anyone was welcome to book passage with the caravan (free, including board) as long as they also served as guards. Thus the caravan was very safe. It was also currently in Woodside.

So, Asteriskes Brassclanger the Dwarven fighter, Anaka Smythe the Human thief, and Felan Darragh the Human druid headed up the street to get supplies. When they were satisfied with their purchases they went to meet up with the caravan leader to book passage to Montrill. They were welcomed by the caravan leader who told them to return at dawn the next day when they would get on the road to Westhaven. It was an easy day's ride and they arrived safely, making camp just outside the fortress-town's walls. The caravan spent 6 days encamped. It was rather like a summer faire, with booths of wares and performers at every turn. Anaka spent an afternoon fulfilling her familial obligations by visiting her parents.

Eventually, its business concluded, the caravan got on the road to Montrill. Ten days of travel, with all the group members taking their turns on guard duty, passed uneventfully. They had barely arrived in town when a servant of the king sought them out. "Come with me to the mayor's house. His Majesty intends to meet you there."

When they reached the mayor's house, the messenger showed them in to chambers which had been prepared for them. "These rooms are reserved for you, please make yourself comfortable. His Honor the Mayor is expecting you and deems you his guests. Dinner is at 7, the mayor will join you then." With that, King Reginald's servant left and shortly thereafter a household servant knocked an entered to inform the adventurers that the bathhouse was at their disposal. They were also encouraged to exchange their traveling clothes for the dinner dress outfits set out for them. The party readily took advantage of the opportunity to clean up after long days on the road, and were also happy to know that the mayor's laundress would willingly wash their clothes.

At 7pm they were escorted to the dining hall where a sumptuous feast was laid. King Reginald rose from his seat at the head of the table to welcome the adventurers. Anaka curtsied while Felan and Asteriskes bowed. The king waved such formalities aside and beckoned the group to their seats, where he greeted them warmly. After a delightful meal accompanied by casual conversation, King Reginald got down to business.

"We have learned that the thief, Robie, is really named Itharnos Cyvorak. It also happens that he has a group of fanatical followers. Under his leadership, they hope to gain control of the Silver Mountains and its riches," the king said. "We don't believe that he, and they, can do this, but he could be a nuisance and could possibly disrupt our mining operations. We can give you directions to his last known location. We want to nip this in the bud."

When the party nodded, King Reginald went on to say that he would send a guide to them in the morning to lead them to a good starting point in their search.

After an uneventful and relaxing night, the party woke, breakfasted, and were greeted by the king's servant who lead them towards the mines. As they left town, they saw King Reginald himself riding off in the other direction on an early-morning hunt. The rest of their ride was easy and they reached the base of the mine area just about noon. They paused to eat. After their quick meal, the royal servant gave them directions to the last-known siting of the thief Robie, then headed back to town.

The group made some progress before making camp for the night. Felan took the first watch. It passed uneventfully. As did both Asteriskes' and Anaka's. Morning arrived and the adventurers broke their fast. Then they continued along the path, encountering nothing, until nightfall. Establishing camp once again. Felan used his Survival skills and caught enough "food" to make a meal for the whole group.

The next morning they again set out, paying close attention to their surroundings as they knew they were near the cave the king had mentioned. Asteriskes was in the lead, followed by Felan, and Anaka. Just as the Dwarf noticed the ground shaking, but before he could mention a possible earthquake to the others, a tremor shook the entire path. The adventurers lost their footing and fell as the ground beneath them collapsed, sending them tumbling into an underground cave.

When the deafening noise subsided and the dust cleared, they saw that they were in a rather desperate situation. Unending piles of gigantic boulders walled off both the path ahead of and behind them, effectively trapping them in an underground tomb. With few options left, they began to dig. After hours of excavation, however, they managed to uncover the entrance to a small, narrow tunnel. A faint, flickering light shone somewhere at the tunnel's end. The party carefully picked their way towards the light.

Eventually, they reached the source of the glow - a still-burning torch, lying at the feet of a dead, dwarf-like creature, partially covered by rubble. The creature had a thick, black, tangled beard and wore studded leather armor. He had apparently died horribly just prior to the cave-in, judging from the many bloody wounds on his chest and face. He still held his blood-stained axe. Approximately 20 feet away from this corpse was another one. Like its companion, this dwarf-like being apparently died in battle just before the cave-in. He also still clutched his weapon - a bloody dagger.

The Dwarf recognized the bodies as Derros -- insane, distant relatives of Dwarves. They were degenerate creatures of the underground, created from Dwarf and Human stock by some nameless deity of darkness and madness. Incredibly cruel and mercilessly insane, Derros enjoyed taking slaves and torturing surface-dwellers to death. It was probably good for the group that these two were already dead. The cavern itself was massive. Roughly circular in shape, it measured approximately 90 feet in diameter with a 20 foot wide column of stone rising from floor to ceiling in the center. There were two tunnels, besides the one which had collapsed on the party, exiting the room. Other than the dagger and the axe the Derros were holding, the adventurers did not find anything of interest in their search of the area. They took the weapons and then threw the bodies into the collapsed walkway through which they themselves had entered the room. As they were moving the bodies, a note fell out of one of the corpses' pockets.

"Don't forget! Gortug sez - hood hate nasty purple wine! Makes hood drinkz purple wine if hood gets mad. Otherwise derro turn purple too!! And DIE!! SO!!! DON'T FORGET!!!"

Looking for "purple wine," Anaka searched that corpse more closely and found 6gp in a pocket. She searched the other one, but found nothing. Felan checked that corpse, too, and found 6 more gp. They searched the room more closely and found nothing but rubble.

Felan headed to the nearest path out of the room and listened, but heard nothing. He went to the next one and listened, still hearing nothing. At the last branch, he also heard nothing. After a brief discussion, the party decided to continue on, looking for a safer place to camp. They chose the first tunnel, which branched off due west, primarily from a decision to follow the left-hand wall.

Thousands of razor-sharp stalactites hung from the ceiling of the immense cavern, which was at least 60 feet wide and 80 feet long. As they entered the room, they heard the sound of boots scraping against the stone and saw a Dwarven warrior staring angrily at them. He was clad in rusted, worn chainmail armor. He lifted his warhammer above his head and, with a sharp cry, charged the party.

Anaka entered the room and closed with the adversary, she threw her dagger, but missed; Admiral Barky, Felan's animal companion, rushed into the room and barked loudly; Asteriskes drew his longbow and shot, but missed; Dwarf Sentry closed with Anaka, missing his attack; Felan closed with Dwarf Sentry and attacked, but missed.

Anaka struck Dwarf Sentry, hitting for 4; Admiral Barky flanked Dwarf Sentry, but missed; Asteriskes closed and attacked, hitting for 20 points, knocking the Dwarf Sentry down, and subsequently covering him in frost; Felan performed the coup de gras with a bare-handed twist of the Dwarf Sentry's neck.

After looting the body, they proceeded to search the cavern. They came across a smaller cavern, in which they found an unlocked chest. Anaka checked it for traps and found none, so they opened it. Realizing it was late, and weary from their travails, the group decided to settle in for the night, sheltering in the closet-like cave. They dragged the sentry's body into the cave to cover their tracks, and then set up camp. As they hid the body in the cave, Asteriskes mentioned that the sentry was a Duregar. When they were ready, Felan took the first watch, followed by Asteriskes, and Anaka. The night passed uneventfully.

In the morning they headed out into the main cave and continued following the left wall. They were now heading north.

As they entered this part of the caverns, they immediately saw a large, shallow pool of water, roughly 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. Although the water appeared clear and cool, the ground immediately surround the pool was muddy and smelled awful. Toward the south, they saw what appeared to be a small, natural alcove - which was filled with bones and refuse.

Felan deduced that the mud was comprised of bat and scorpion droppings, which accounted for the smell. Anaka searched the room, but found nothing. She looked at the pile of bones, but couldn't figure out what they were about, so Felan came to search them. Two small, monstrous Scorpions, disturbed by the Druid's poking, came out of the pile of bones which was their lair.

Asteriskes attacked a Scorpion, hitting and taking it out; Anaka moved 5 feet, and threw her dagger, striking the other Scorpion and killing it. After retrieving her dagger, she searched the area, but found nothing.

Looking about the room again, and thinking about the portion of the complex they'd explored so far, the party decided to forego following the left wall and take the path which lead them more into the center. This would allow them to see what they may have missed, simply by skirting by it before. After a bit of walking they ended up in.

This V-shaped section of the cavern was covered with many short, sharp stalagmites -- which glinted with flecks of silver and gold, making the room look like a sweeping field of stone and sparkling metals. At the northwest end of the chamber was a dour-looking Dwarf, dressed in a gray cloak and chainmail armor. He had a crossbow at the ready as he stood by one of the tunnels which exited the room.

Asteriskes drew his bow, but missed; Anaka moved 30' into the room and threw her dagger, hitting for 6; Dwarf Sentry targeted Felan, but missed; Felan moved 30' into the room, drew his sling, and attacked, but missed; Admiral Barky moved up next to Felan.

Asteriskes moved 20' into the room and shot, but missed; Anaka moved 30' further and threw another dagger, but missed; Dwarf Sentry targeted Felan, hitting for 2; Felan advanced another 30' feet and again swung his sling, scoring a critical hit for 6 and taking him down.

With combat over, Anaka went to the sentry and slit his throat. She fumbled through his clothes, but didn't find anything. Felan and Asteriskes both came over and searched the corpse and found quite a bit of stuff. Next they turned their attention to the flecks in the stalagmites and stalactites. The Dwarf's keen knowledge of such things told him it was only pyrite. Looking over the rest of the room yielded nothing.

Retracing their steps a bit, the group headed into what they estimated to be the center of the complex. This part of the cavern had several dirty straw mattresses lying near the eastern cavern wall. They were dangerously close to the dying embers of a campfire. A wooden chest, reinforced with steel bands, sat atop a small pile of rubble to the north.

Anaka headed straight for the chest. It was not trapped, it was locked, however, so she picked the lock. Inside were 50 bolts, 2 short swords, a bullseye lantern, some flasks of oil, parchment, and quills -- in short, a supply chest for whoever camped here. Next Anaka turned her attention to the rubble on which the chest sat, she found a trap therein and went to work on it immediately. While at work on it, she discovered that it would be set off by lifting the chest off the pile. She continued to work at it until she was able to disarm it. As she worked, Felan and Asteriskes searched the area around the campfire, but found nothing.

They left the room and continued north. The tunnel lead them to a vast, open cavern which stretched well over 60 feet long and 100 feet wide. They heard the odd sound of singing. "Hey, ho, don't you know, please don't eat the yellow...." Standing near a tunnel entrance in the northern portion of the cavern was an extremely short Dwarf with a long, tangled beard. He twirled his gleaming short sword , deftly, in one hand. In between spins, he admired his reflection in the shiny blade. He had a crossbow strapped to his back. "Well, hello, my lovelies! Come for a spot of tea? ... Or blood?!" Cackled the Derro, spotting the adventurers.

The Derro whipped his crossbow over his shoulder and fired upon the party, targeting Asteriskes, but missing.

Anaka moved up and threw a dagger, but missed; Felan closed and punched the Derro, but missed; Admiral Barky flanked and attacked, biting for 8; Asteriskes moved into melee range; Derro drew his scimitar and attacked Felan, but missed.

Anaka closed and attacked, but missed; Felan punched the Derro, hitting critically for 12 and knocking him down.

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