Friday, February 26, 2010

LL at Paul's: The Long and Winding Hall

So we started this week's session "in media res" as it were, with the party standing in the shaft of a T junction at the opening of an orc infested dungeon, with two fairly large parties of orcs arrayed on either side of us.

When I arrived, Liam and Yogund's players had come up with a pretty clever strategy for getting our foes to break ranks and move into sight, where the party's mage Koode could cast his sleep spell on 'em. Basically, we'd toss a handful of coins into the junction, and hope the creatures' greed would overcome their tactical sensibilities.

We also started with a little retcon/employee relations. Over the preceding week, Paul had checked up on the rules and discovered that we were drastically underpaying our hirelings. The 4 gp a month quoted by the rulebook was for getting guys to stand guard duty, not for risking life and limb as dungeon delvers. He wasn't going to retcon the agreement, but he said that Strang and Melchior would be kind of on the disgruntled side after seeing all the gold pouring out of the ogre's sack when we were counting our swag at the Minotaur. We decided that at the time we indeed gave them each a half share, in the same spirit as the half share of XP they get, and also agreed that we'd no longer be buying stuff for them. Melchior took his money and bought himself a crossbow, while Strang decided to start saving up for better armor, as the hapless warrior only had leather armor currently.

That bit of prologue business out of the way, we got down to the task of clearing out the orc lair. We took up a collection of silver pieces from all the party members, and handed them to Liam, who took them in his remaining hand and tossed them in a wide scattering at the point where the T crossed. As we expected, about a half dozen orcs ran out to pick up the jingling, shiny coins. Koode stepped forward and let loose his sleep spell, sending all but one of the brutes to sleep, and a couple of others out of our field of view as well. The remaining orc continued to shovel coins into his pockets, inspite of his growing unease at being the only one standing in the crossroads. The party leveled their bows at the hapless beast and took him down in a hail of arrows, with a thrown knife from Koode striking the creature in the neck and finishing it.

With the orcs in disarray, the party charged into the T, with Yogund and Melchoir breaking to the east and Liam and Strang attacking the group to the west. The Deacon moved in behind the paladin and hireling fighter, while Klint moved in with the elf and spearman. Koode led our donkey down to the crossroads and set about putting the slumbering orcs out of our misery with one of his daggers. I seem to recall Melchoir taking a pretty grievous hit from an orc, requiring the Deacon to heal him with one of his two (count 'em, two!) healing spells. I also recall Klint trying to fire his bow into the fracas, and managing to strike Liam by mistake, which made for a little tension. (I might be wrong about this, it might have happened later in the session.)

Otherwise, the fight in the east branch went pretty well, with Yogund's mighty blade and implacable armor class making fairly short work of the marauders. On the west front, the orcs made a fighting retreat down the long, dark corridor, angrily shaking one of their sleep addled cohorts as they went. The party made the tactical choice not to pursue them and split up our group, so after a few missed shots with sling and bow, the retreating orcs vanished into the darkness.

With a brief respite, the party formed back up and made ready to go deeper into the dungeon. With his finely honed wizardly attention to detail, Koode managed to find and retrieve every single silver piece we'd thrown to lure the orcs. (This was actually the result of Paul rolling exactly the number of coins we'd thrown on a check to see what we recovered. Dice are funny.) We also managed to loot a few silver pieces from the fallen foes.

We decided to let Liam scout down the tunnel to the west for a bit, since we knew for certain there were orcs there, whereas we'd cleared, as far as we knew for sure, the tunnel to the east. Using his ranger's ability to move silently, he crept down the hall, finding an odd little switcback in the tunnel before it continued for several more feet to the west, and then turned south.

When he rejoined us, we set out, tapping ahead of us with the 10' pole and checking for traps at the switchback, since it seemed odd enough to warrant some caution. From there, we continued cautiously south, until we came to a two way split to the south, with a third corridor leading off to the west shortly before it.

As we approached this area, we heard a low, ominous growl from the split passages, and a quartet of mangy, half starved looking wolves crept into the light of our lanterns, bristling and baring their fangs. Thinking quickly, Liam pulled some dried jerky from his pack and tossed it among the beasts. The hugry wolves dove on the morsels and fell to fighting among themselves. With the feral creatures otherwise occupied, the party decided to hurry past them.

Following the west corridor, we came to another corridor leading north, and about ten feet beyond that to the west an opening that led into a rough hewn 20X20 room containing a large table and a few stools, with a half carved roast sitting on it. (Apparently, we'd caught the orc marauders at dinner.) Yogund seized the meat off of the platter, pulling out the knives that were jammed into it, and took a brief jaunt down the hallway, where he threw the meat to the squabbling wolves, buying us more time before the beasts would come sniffing around for us. We searched the room for secret doors and found none, and decided to claim the fine silver platter and carving tools as swag.

From there, we headed up the corridor to the north. It went on for a long stretch, twisting and turning to provide defense for whatever lay beyond. Well, I shouldn't be vague, what lay beyond was what pros refer to as an *assload* of orcs.

We came to a largish room, packed to the gills with the creatures. Among them was a leader of sorts, as could be told by his meatier frame and better armor and weapon (in this case, chainmail and a longsword). He ordered his underlings to charge, and from there a long, brutal toe to toe fight ensued.

This was simple brute force vs. brute force, with Liam and Yogund holding the front line with their shields as masses of pork scented orc bodies slammed against our defenses in a wave. The Deacon and Strang held the second rank for the party, striking between our front line with our longer reached weapons. We took some hits, but mostly killed orc after orc, as their aggressive press drove us backwards down the hall. This turned out pretty tactically good for us, as when we reached the end of the corridor the party fanned out to take the remaining orcs from two fronts, bringing all of our blades to bear. Melchoir, with his usual talent for getting mangled, got his arm nearly severed at the elbow, forcing the Deacon to use his last healing spell for the day, and I think Klint took a pretty hefty wound too. Still, at the end of it, the party stood panting and mopping our brows at the end of an epic slugfest, having slain over a dozen orc attackers.

Weakened though we were, we decided that we'd best press our advantage against their captain, and stormed down the hall to the chamber where the creatures first encountered us, planning on swarming what we had little doubt would be a particularly hardy specimen. When we burst into the chamber, we found it empty, with the orc leader deciding on the better part of valor and fleeing out an opening to the east that we saw now that we had an opportunity to take in the room's contents. In the center, was a huge 10' diameter table laden with various haunches of foul meat and a nasty crock of "stew". Carved into the table's surface we found a map of the area around Restenford, which meant that this was probably the marauder's council table.

Taking stock, we realized we were much too weak to press on into the dungeon, but didn't relish leaving the underground complex and camping in the wilderness. We decided to barricade ourselves in the smaller room and use the large table to block the entry, so we swept the noisome feast off onto the floor and rolled the great oaken disc down the winding hallway over the corpses of the orc raiders, as Koode, not really much one for physical labor, set about looting the dead monsters and turning up a pretty sizeable pile of silver pieces (about 52 if memory serves.)

We settled in for the night, setting watches as we bound our wounds and tried to get some sleep. On the second watch, which consisted of Liam and Strang, sounds of something sniffing around outside and muttered orcish was heard, but nothing came of it. The following morning, as we were stretching ourselves (and appreciating the natural healing that had ocurred overnight, plus the regaining of spells) a pair of orcs approached our barricade with axes and started trying to chop through.

The party ranged ourselves on either side of the opening and readied our weapons. With a nod to one another, we kicked down the table legs holding the great oaken tabletop away and allowed it to fall into the room, surprising the orcs beyond. One reared back, while the other, taken off guard, was pulled forward into the room still gripping his axe. Klint slipped up beside him and drove a sword into the hapless creature's ribs, while Yogund and Liam charged the third.

In the hallway beyond, another orc stood with a pair of snarling wolves, barely restrained by stout chains. He released them toward us as his cohort with the axe fell to our swords, and a furious fight ensued. While Melchoir stayed back, not wanting any part of the beasts. (He understandably was developing something of a complex about wolves.) Strang distinguished himself by getting in a lot of solid hits on the beasts. Eventually, one fell to his spear, causing the other, and its orcish keeper, to flee down the hall.

The party then headed back up the winding corridor to the feast room. We headed down the East passage, and came to a solidly barred wooden door. We sent the hirelings back for the orc's axes, and when we retrieved them set about chopping through. When we opened a hole big enough to peer through, we saw the orc leader standing at the ready for our assault. Klint fired a bowshot through the hole and missed him, as the rest of us cleared away the door and charged in. After a brief skirmish, the orc leader lay dead at our feet. (I have the impression I'm misremembering something here. Either we found the orc in a different room, or he made a bad luck morale roll, since he did have avenues of escape from this room, I think... Hrm....)

We stripped him of his chainmail and gave it to Strang, who'd been in need of an armor upgrade, and set about exploring the room. It was a long chamber, some sort of feasting hall, hung with tapestries much too rich and well made to be orcish work (I don't really think the pigheaded bastards are really the tapestry type, to be honest. More the "skin it and stake the hide up on the wall" sort of thing...) We took these down and rolled 'em up, and piled them on the donkey. A stuffed manticore head adorned the far wall at the heads of the two long tables, which we also took down, after searching behind it for any secret compartments, and also put on the donkey. We think it'll be a nice gift for Pelltar, who seems to be a connoisseur of ghastly taxidermy.

There were two exits out of the room along the long side to the east, a stout wooden door, and a corridor. We decided to check out the door, and Klint found it locked. Unfortunately, he missed the poison needle trap on the lock as he checked it over. Super fortunately he made his saving throw, which is good 'cos otherwise we would have had a dead thief on our hands.

Inside, we found a store room with three chests, and a shelf containing several vials of colored liquid. The vials the Deacon took charge of, knowing them to be some sort of magic potions. (I reckon we'll get 'em identified later in town. Maybe Pelltar or one of his apprentices could help us with that.) Searching the chests, we found that one was trapped with some sort of spring loaded device. The other two contained a mass of copper coins (which we initially piled on the donkey but then dumped when the poor creature's knees started to wobble) and a pile of gemstones, respectively. We divvied the jewels up among ourselves, not knowing their full value (We need to take them to a larger city to get appraised.) Finally, we positioned the trapped chest facing away from us, tied a rope to the lid, and cleared the room, lest there be poison gas inside. With a tug of the rope, a pair of spring loaded daggers shot out and blunted themselves on the wall opposite. (I think I'm having another memory short here. Maybe the gems were in this box. I recall another crate full of rotting cheese someplace, but I can't quite place where...)

After we cleared the store room, we decided to explore down the other hall, and I think that's where we found an underground pool full of fresh water. As we made to leave, Liam decided to search it more thoroughly, removed his shield prosthesis, and dove in. While it seemed an unnecessary dunking, he actually found something, a scroll case covered over with mineral deposits lay at the bottom of the pool. When we examined this prize, we found a parchment inside covered in unintelligible writing, which Koode said didn't look magical. It will bear more scrutiny.

From there, we made to retrace our steps and explore some of the other areas of the dungeon, and it was here that we ended the session.

All in all, an awesome night of gaming. Big, tense moments from the epic slugfest, and from Klint nearly meeting his doom on a poison needle. I'm eager to get back to it next week, especially since we pulled down a huge payoff in XP for all the orcs we slew. The Deacon managed to hit 3rd. level in one session's gaming. (I was about 900 pts away at 2nd. lvl last session.) Whooee!

Thanks again to Paul, and the rest of the 10d gamers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mutant Minis.

Here's a bunch of post-apocalyptic minis for your edification and enjoyment. I started a couple of these guys at Paul's mini-bee last week, but just finished 'em today. L to R we got a cryonic refugee from before the Big One, a mutant "wizard" with a preponderance of mental mutations, a mutant lynx who's found hisself a ballistic protector suit and an EMP rifle, a cyborg skullcrusher with a saw sword, a Restorationist explorer with an M.P.A.L. (Man Portable Assault Laser), an augie renegade with a light machine gun, and a mutant badger girl.

Now excuse us, we're gonna go explore these ruins...

Friday, February 19, 2010

LL at Paul's: Wheelin' and Dealin'

Okay, better git this week's Labyrinth Lord session recount down before it boils away out of my brain for good. I still haven't wised up and started bringing a note pad to these things yet. Next week I shall... unless I forget...

Anyhow, so when last we left our adventuresome heroes, we were on the side of Tritop hill, with a dismembered elf, a henchman with a caved in chest, a handful of dead gnolls, no spells, and an ogre stumbling down hill after a thrown gold ring, who was the target of our little adventure.

Right out the gate, our first idea was to try to roll the boulder that we'd used for cover in our ambush operations down on the stupid brute. Well, we all threw our shoulders into it, including Liam, who only had one shoulder left, and couldn't quite budge it, so those of us who could still do so started firing arrows down on our quarry. (This being Klint the thief, and our senior hireling Melchior, who's three fingers turned out to be something of a handicap in archery. Liam picked up Strang's spear to throw it, but the ogre was too far out of range at that time.)

It actually took us a while to get the monster's attention, because he was busy looking for the ring, and we were missing atrociously. (The dice were coooOOOOooold that night, let me tell ya. We had a 64% chance to roll that boulder, and rolled over, twice! Feh...) Anyway, eventually the ogre figured out that we might have meant him some harm, and started trundling up the hill with his club raised over his pointy head, ready to make ours a bit more on the concave side...

With only ineffectual archery, it soon fell to the melee fighters to face the brute. He laid a pretty solid hit in on Yogund, but didn't take him too far down, and the rest of us did our best to introduce the ogre to our swords and staves. I think it was Klint, following up with a failed backstab, who finally slid the fatal blade between the brute's ribs. It was almost a surprise when the big goon went down, but then again, while ogres have pretty hefty AC and HP, they're a pretty workable target for a whole party of adventurers.

We scooped up his sack of swag, which he'd carried over his shoulder while the other hand made with the clubbing, and chopped off his head to take back to Pelltar the wizard, and made sort of a grisly shish kabob with it and the severed head of the gnoll chieftain One Eye on Strang's spear. Fearing more gnoll problems, we beat feet, hurrying down the hillside to our camp in the Kellman woods, where we spent the night, on high alert lest the beasts come hunting for us.

Mercifully, the night passed uneventfully, and the Deacon took the opportunity to use his cure spell to repair Strang the Unlucky's particularly unlucky lungs before we hiked back to Restenford.

Once we reached town, we stopped in at Almox the Druid's place, gashed up and smashed up as usual, looking to take a dip in his magic healing pool. (Seriously, they must be getting to where they're afraid to open the door for us. "Hello! Buncha gore splattered casualties with a big shish kabob of severed heads here! Are we in time for tea?") As Liam took his turn in the pool and bathed his stump, he talked at length with our host about potential ways to re-attach or regrow his lost arm (as well as ways he might pickle or otherwise preserve his lost limb, which, again, kind of veered off the concept of "polite company"). Almox told us to ask Pelltar, so once we dipped Strang and got him back up to full health, we set out for the wizard's offices in the keep.

Once there, we presented him with the ogre's head, and in short order, he accepted Koode as his fourth apprentice, presenting him with a scroll and instructing him to study it, transcribe it into his spellbook, and come back in two days to have dinner at Pelltar's house and show off what he'd learned. The horrible severed head he handed to his first apprentice, telling him to get it stuffed for his mantelpiece. (Say what you will, ya gotta respect that kind of commitment to extreme! tchotckes.)

When asked by Liam about arm replacement/revival techniques, the senior mage recalled he'd sold a book with some information about that subject to an adventurer named Yuri? the Bear, who'd gone off in search of a demon cult up a nearby mountain and disappeared several years ago. With that info in hand, we took our leave, and went back to the Inn of the Dying Minotaur to rest and recuperate, and to plan our next move.

As we sat in the common room, we overheard a couple of merchants bemoaning the loss of their goods to orc bandits who'd waylaid them on the bridge over the River Reston, probably related to the same orcs who tried to jump us when we first came to town. Our interest piqued, we pulled up a chair and struck up a conversation.

Eventually, we struck a deal with the merchant to hunt down the orcs and retrieve the goods he'd lost, in exchange for 15% of the value of sale of said goods. He told us that removing the orcish threat would be of considerable value to all the merchants who trade with Restenford, so he would go out the next day and see if he could drum up some more financial reward for taking out the marauding monsters.

Our final order of the day was splitting up the spoils of the ogre's sack. (We'd also tried to cash in the gnoll chieftain's head, but found there was no bounty on the beast, so we ditched it someplace.) Turns out the greedy brute had quite a nice little packet of treasure, with the principals each getting fifty gold crowns, plus ten crowns and 1 shilling to put into our "Hirelings and miscellaneous expense fund" and nine gemstones, which later turned out we'd need to take to a bigger city to get properly appraised.

The next few days involved a lot of meeting, negotiating, and wheeling & dealing, as the title of this post attests. Liam sought out the best carpenter in town, one Sarlac (whos' breath apparently smelled of Boba Fett... ew...) who he contracted to build a shoulder mounted shield brace that would allow him to use it in combat, but he'd only gain it's AC bonus on the first attack in a round due to its unwieldiness. Better than a peck in the head with a sharp stick, as my Pop would say...

Meanwhile, the influx of gold had presented something of a problem to Yogund, who was bound as a paladin to tithe all the wealth he'd come into, but was running out of down on their luck fishermen to dump it on, and he was loath to turn it over to the local temple, who's rich gold fixtures and well dressed priests indicated where charity generally ended up when donated there. As we discussed it in the tavern, it was suggested that he should just buy/build a house or something and start up his own soup kitchen, which struck him as a splendid idea.

Since fifty some gold was just seed stock at that time, he decided to go to Almox's elven wife Feldara and see if she'd be willing to help him administer this project. The kindly elf was flattered, but said she was rather tied up with her own commitments, and pointed him toward the Baroness, wife of Restenford's resident noble liege, and devotee of the patron god of Yogund's order, as related to us by her aide, who'd delivered a letter to Yogund about securing the north road for an emissary from his church in the next few months. The Baroness' aide was wildly enthusiastic about the idea of setting up a house of charity related to their order, and went off to pitch the idea to her ladyship.

Koode had his dinner at Pelltar's, where he was to demonstrate his newly learned spell, "Read Magic" (which was indeed a valuable addition to a trainee wizard's repertoire). After their meal, Pelltar brought out the ogre's head, now stuffed and mounted on a stand, and bade Koode to use his new spell on it. When he did, a glowing rune appeared on the deceased brute's forehead, which the mage went on to explain was his personal mark, and could be seen as a sign of Pelltar's work when seen out in the field. He designated Koode as his eyes and ears on the streets and countryside, charged with bringing him information about goings on in the area.

Finally, we had our return meeting with the merchant, and learned that the other area merchants had agreed to give us the same percentage of money on ALL the goods we could wrest back from the orcs. Pleased with the deal, we prepared to set out, making the purchase of a mule to haul goods back with us, and replenishing our ammunition and trail rations, and set out on the sunrise of the third day after our adventure on Tritop Hill.

We reached the bridge later that afternoon, and evidently our attempts to look "merchanty" paid off, as four orcs climbed up from either side of the bridge, demanding our goods to steal and our mule to eat as we stepped onto the span from the other side. We drew our weapons and gave them what for...

Klint led with a shot from his bow, burying a shaft up to the fletching in one of the creatures' necks as Yogund, Strang, and Melchior charged, with the Deacon backing them up ready with healing. The paladin struck down another, causing the surviving two orcs to turn on their heel and flee, squealing in terror. Koode stepped up and cast his sleep spell, knocking them out, and the fight was ended with our side victorious.

We took the ears of the dead orcs for the bounties, and dragged our unconscious captives back to the woods on the townward side of the bridge, where we stripped them down to their lederhosen and bound them for interrogation. When they came around, Liam the ranger, who apparently has a broad range of languages at his disposal, started to question them.

We learned that the orcs worship some kind of demon in a mountain cave, and that was about all we got out of them. We ended up slitting one's throat (well, not WE, so much as Koode, who doesn't really have a problem with using his daggers for all sorts of things...) and somehow offering the survivor his freedom and six mules to eat in exchange for leading us to his cave. (A spurious offer, made with the intent of killing the creature when his usefulness was at an end.)

To take a brief editorial aside, Yogund and the Deacon were kind of uncomfortable with this whole business. Sure, orcs were chaotic monsters, who'd just as soon make a festive centerpiece out of your severed head at a feast of your entrails, but for some reason leading this miserable beast on with promises that we had no intention of keeping just felt wrong. Maybe it's not logical, but we're Lawful, dammit, and Lawful don't play that way. You don't make bargains you don't mean to keep, even with monstrosities. There's a perfectly good deal in place already with creatures of that ilk: we run them through with swords as humanely as possible, in exchange for them dying promptly. All nice and fair.

Anyway, our captive eagerly led us to the mountainside cave, shouting angrily for his mules as the elf ran him through. From there, we made our way to the cave mouth, which was screened with a wall of brush. As we pushed through the brush, we found that a network of pots and pans had been hung from the branches, their loud clang and clatter throwing up an alarm for the denizens of the cave. A rough voice from inside called out for us to identify ourselves. Liam tried to bluff, claiming to be an orc with a train of delicious mules that he needed help with, but the creatures in the cave below were having none of it, so we decided to press on and enter the cave.

Inside, we found ourself on a steep slope, leading down to a T junction. When we reached the T, we found a huge crowd of orcs waiting on either side for us, about a dozen on one side and many more than that on the other.

The creatures sprang at us, and our front line of Yogund, Melchior, and Strang fended the wave of attackers off, with Yogund taking a strong hit despite his heavy armor. We decided to make a fighting withdrawl up the tunnel, forcing the orcs to file into the tunnel to attack us rather than suffering strikes from two sides. As we pulled back, the creatures stayed in formation and refused to follow us, showing much more discipline than we were comfortable contemplating.

And here is where the session ended, with us trying to decide on our next move. We expect we should bug out soon, since the orcs are A: Clearly organized and B: probably have some cleric/shaman types among them if they're indeed demon worshippers. We'll have to come up with another "cunning" plan to beat these goons.

All in all, a good session. A lot more talking, meeting, bargaining, and dealing in this session, more interaction than action, so to speak. Which is cool, 'cos it was a lot of role play, and advanced our cause on a lot of fronts and opened some opportunities as well. Paul was tickled that we were starting to embroil ourselves in local politics with the whole founding of the paladin's mission project.

The big win for me personally was that Deacon Silver leveled, so now I'm playing a 2nd. Level cleric. That means two spells a day, better range of turning vs. undead, and a couple more hit points. (Rolled a 2 on my d6. Meh. Every little HP helps. Thank the Allmaker.) And truth be told, I'm not TOO far off from third, about 900 EXP tops, that's about three sessions or so, unless we make a really big score. All good. If the Deac hits 3rd. level I s'pose I oughta make a mini for him. (Paul actually made an awesome Liam miniature recently, missing arm and dummy shield rig and all. I don't know if this is some kind of "notch on the gun" type thing, but what the heck. The DM's got to get his jollies someplace...)

So thanks again, Paul, and the 10d gamers for another interesting game.

Friday, February 12, 2010

LL at Paul's: Arms and the Elf

So the big snow mojo we were supposed to get on Wednesday kinda blew over without too much actually hitting the ground around Boston, so we picked up on Thursday, and had a real rip-snort of a session, with a couple of calamities mixed in.

Anyway, so the group was standing around the wolve's den deciding what to do about the mother wolf and her cubs inside. The two sides of the debate were A: we'd been charged with clearing the wolves out of the Kellman woods. and B: it was the worgs what put the normal wolves up to attacking humans, and we'd wiped them out. None of us were really had the heart to go after a mama and her babies, so we tried to lure them out with a wolf's call from Liam, but that didn't work, so we just decided to go back to Amos the half elf's dad Almox and let him make the call. (I think that's his name. I've had a lot of trouble getting the names of NPC's to stick. I need to start bringing a notepad to these things so I don't keep embarrassing myself on the blog here...)

Before we set out for home, we still had a couple of worgs to skin, figuring their hides could be worth something (at least cloaks, or rugs) so Liam our elf ranger set about that messy task with Klint's help, while the rest of us stood watch for any trouble.

Koode the Magic User settled down on a nearby boulder to watch the skinning. As he sat there, engrossed in the process, a huge python slid down from the trees above and latched onto the startled mage's head, dropping its massive coils around him like soft serve from hell!

With a cry of alarm, the party encircled the snake and started striking at the beast with swords and quarterstaff. With the huge reptile distracted, Koode slipped out of its encircling coils and stumbled away, debating whether to cast his sleep spell on the creature or not. He decided not to, as his spell would knock the party out before it would knock the snake out if we were unlucky. (And being unlucky is kind of the natural state for an adventuring party, especially if you ask our dice...) We ordered Melchoir our henchman to keep back, as his crippled knee made him no help in the fight anyway, and we didn't rescue him from being dragged away to the wolves' den just to leave him a henchman shaped bulge in a snake's gullet.

Deprived of its initial victim, the snake wheeled about and fixed its cold gaze on Liam, leaping for the elf and throwing its coils around him and squeezing, causing the hapless ranger's eyes to bug out and his skin to turn an alarming shade of lilac (He's an elf, after all. Humans turn purple, elves turn lilac.) In desperation, his arms pinned to his sides, he tried to bite the creature as it tightened around him.

Mercifully, the party's harrying of the creature left it too distracted to continue squeezing him, and after a few more furious blows with our blades, Klint (I believe) managed to decapitate the monstrous serpent with a sneak attack, and we hastily pulled the thing's coils loose from Liam.

The poor elf was in a pretty bad state, coughing up blood with his internal organs crushed. We lacked healing magic, as the fight with the wolves had depleted the Deacon and Yogund's resources, so we pulled out the potion flask we'd found in the catacombs and fed Liam a dose. This brought him back from death's doorstep, and pretty close too to hear Paul tell it. We decided to high tail it back to Restenford as quick as possible, since we were pretty beat up. Liam declared that he hated the woods and nature, which was a pretty major reversal for the elf who originally preferred sleeping outdoors to sleeping in the inn. I can't blame him, after nearly being pulped by a giant snake. That'd put anybody off of camping.

We hied ourselves back to Almox's home on the outskirts of town, to tell him we'd cleared the wolves out of Kellman wood, and also to use the mystic pool of healing in his sylvan glade of a backyard. We told him about the she wolf and cubs, and he said he'd take care of it, and gave him the worg pelt we'd managed to obtain before the snake incident. As we bathed our wounded in the mystical pool, we discussed our next endeavor, and decided we'd go after the gnolls and their ogre on Tritop Hill.

Persuant to this, we all rested up at the Dying Minotaur for a couple of days, bought some equipment, and went around to the Red Cask to pick up another henchman. As we bellied up to the bar, Falco told us the diggers we'd hired were mad we hadn't showed up to employ them, so over the protests of the rest of the group Deacon Silver gave him two crowns and told him to give a half crown to each of the laborers for their trouble should they show up again. (My argument being, sooner or later we're gonna end up with a crowd wielding pitch forks and torches after us, the fewer people we piss off in our home zone, the smaller that crowd's gonna be. Besides, we might need diggers again someday.)

So after dealing with that little bit of bother, we asked Falco if there were any fighting men about looking for work.

Falco thought for a bit, and nodded across the bar to a clean cut fellow in leather armor with a spear, who he referred to as Strang the Unlucky. We looked at each other dubiously as he beckoned the fellow over. As he crossed the bar room, he managed to trip over someone's foot, smack someone in the knee with the butt of his spear, nearly spill a tray full of soup on himself. He came up to us and snapped to attention, banging his spear on the floor beside him, and nearly falling over as the spear butt shot through a knothole in the plank, driving down three feet into the cellar below. After struggling for a moment to extract his weapon, he turned to us again and introduced himself. He seemed honest enough, so we offered him the same wage we were paying Melchoir (At which point our senior henchman chose to grumble about his own pay. We pointed out to him that we could have happily let the wolves have him, and spent as much healing on him as on other party members, so quit bitching.)

We paid Strang half his wage up front, and told him we'd all meet first thing in the morning tand be on our way. After consulting with Falco about the best way to reach Tritop hill, which turned out to be skirting the Kellman woods, we called it a night.

The following day, the group set out. Our travel to the hill was largely uneventful as we moved into wilder lands. As evening fell, we made camp in the Kellman woods, building a blind of tree branches to keep any eyes on the hill from spotting our fire. Liam took a chance to do some tracking and found large, pawed footprints that were made by something walking on two legs, and we figured these were gnoll tracks. We kept careful watch in the night, knowing that the vile beasts might come prowling.

The next day, we packed up and planned out a scouting formation for the party. Liam the elf would lead, followed a distance behind by Klint, who would relay signals to the rest of the group, who followed at a distance bearing tree branches so that we might disguise ourselves as a hedge should trouble loom. After agreeing on hand signals, we made our arduous way up the gravelly hill, heading for the tripartite peak.

It was late afternoon by the time we'd scaled the hill, and we waited while Liam scouted. Eventually, he and Klint returned, and the elf described a gravelly platform nestled between the peaks, with several crude huts where he saw gnolls skulking about, trying to keep out of the grey sunlight of the wintery mountain. He saw females and younglings as well as warriors, and in the midst of the village there was a larger hut, that might be the ogre's, and/or might belong to the tribe's chieftain.

Not wanting to engage an entire village of the towering, hyena headed beasts on their own turf, we came up with a plan to lead small groups away piecemeal. We decided to set a false camp fire, and then hide within bowshot and ambush them. We searched out a large boulder to hide behind, took the branches we'd brought for camoflage and set them alight, the green boughs giving off a column of smoke, and waited.

Presently, a trio of gnoll warriors set out from the village to investigate. As they came into range, Klint and Liam opened fire with their longbows. Sadly, the dice were kinda huffy that night, and all they managed to do was hit the ground by the creatures' feet. With a snarl, the beasts charged us, and the battle was joined.

Now, a bunch of gnolls are a pretty tough encounter for a bunch of 1st lvl mooks, especially when the dice are acting all squirrely. Liam, the Deacon, Yogund, and Strang all kept missing horribly, while Klint fired his bow into combat, doing a bit better in damaging our foes. Finally, Melchoir struck a mighty blow and killed one of the beasts, causing the other creatures to turn tail and flee. Not wanting them to get away and call more warriors, we did our best to stop them. Koode cast his sleep spell, and caused one of the creatures to fall into a magical slumber, as Liam and Klint fired after the survivor. Klint (I think.) managed to get one final shot off, felling the straggler before he crested the hill in view of the village. Yogund ran up to the sleeping gnoll and securely bound the beast. Our position blown, the group hurriedly gathered up the fallen gnolls and scampered away into the gathering night, eventually finding shelter in a small copse of trees on the hillside after arguing about whether we should go all the way back down the hill or not.

Once safely out of sight we searched the bodies of the dead gnolls, finding purses heavy with gold on their belts, which we split up on the spot. The Deacon decided that for his valor in slaying one of the gnolls, Melchoir deserved a little reward, and gave him a bonus silver shilling, followed by an exhortation not to be a jerk when he started lording it over Strang.

Then we set about interrogating the prisoner, who we'd stripped of his armor, bound tightly, and muzzled. Liam spoke gnollish, and with the Deacon standing by to give the critter raps on the nose with his staff if he snarled or snapped, we plied the beast with questions. We learned the gnoll chief, One Eye, paid the ogre in food to act as defense for their village against the "dead things" from the haunted ruins on Bone Hill. The beast had little to no concept of numbers, and could only tell us there were "many" gnolls in the village. Once the stream of information trickled off to threats and insults, we muzzled Yellow Fang again and settled in for the night, keeping watch on both him and the surrounding area.

The next morning we decided to try our decoy plan again, only this time we'd use our captive as the bait. Returning to our boulder, we set the bound and blindfolded gnoll down in bowshot from our position, loosing his muzzle and telling him that we were leaving the hilltop since we didn't want to fight the ogre. Then we waited, until our captive got up the courage to start howling for help.

After about an hour, another party of warriors from the village wended their way down the hillside. There were three gnolls, one of which was larger and fiercer looking, with black, hollow socket where one of his glazed, red eyes should be, and following close behind was a hulking brute of an ogre, dully dragging huge club behind him.

As they approached our bound captive, things kind of went all pear shaped, as one of the warriors spotted Klint in his hiding place. Barking and snarling, the beasts leveled their spears and charged him, wounding him. He ran over to the main party's position with the jabbering monsters in hot pursuit. The chief turned to face us, and snarled an order at his ogre minion to attack.

As the hulking brute hiked up his bearskin kilt and came trundling up the hill, Koode cast his sleep spell in their direction. The ogre, sadly, shrugged the magical slumber off, but the gnoll cheiftan's one eye drooped shut and he dropped in a snoring heap where he stood, while our captive frantically craned his neck trying to find out what was going on.

Faced with an ogre and two gnolls, things went kind of rough for the party. The dice were doing their best to get us killed, and we were having trouble. Strang initially panicked and dropped his spear when the ogre loomed over him, and was told to man up. Unfortunately, his show of fear must have attracted the brute's attention, because he proceeded to rain heavy blows on the hapless henchman, forcing the Deacon to use his healing spell on him to keep him in the fight. Eventually, this was only a delaying measure, as another crushing blow to the chest laid the hireling spearman out.

That wasn't the worst of the fight, however. The real calamity was one of the gnolls, battling furiously with Liam, struck a mighty blow to his shield arm, severing it at the shoulder. The elf fell back, screaming in agony, and things looked bleak for the players. Klint finished off the healing potion, restoring his health to full, and Yogund laid hands on Liam so that he wouldn't bleed out, but the elf, now unable to use a bow for the rest of his life, was seriously considering death.

In desperation, the Deacon reached into his pouch and pulled out the gold ring, and caught the ogre's attention with it as the brute loomed over the wheezing, prostrate form of Strang. As a dull light of greed flickered in the nine foot monster's piggy little eyes, the Deacon sent the bauble rolling down the hill with a flick of his wrist. By the mercy of the Allmaker, the ogre turned and shambled off after it. Thanks be t' him what made the truly evil often the truly stupid as well.

Meanwhile, Koode slipped around the side of the fight and made his way down the hill with a blade drawn. In short order he beheaded the sleeping gnoll cheiftain, and slit the throat of our hapless captive as well. As he turned and raised the one eyed head skyward, roaring a threat, the party managed to take down one of the two remaining gnolls. I'm not sure if it was Yogund, Melchoir, or Klint who struck the final blow, but fell it we did. The final gnoll looked around, saw his companions dead, beheaded, or stumbling dumbly down the hill after a glinting, bouncing gold ring, and took to his heels. Klint took some parting shots with his bow, but the beast scampered over the crest of the hill and was gone.

After conferring hastily as to what our next step was, we decided we didn't want to have anything to do with the village, as it probably still would put up a pretty stiff defence, especially with two gravely wounded companions on our side. We decided we'd rush down the hill after the ogre and try to finish him off, as that was the mission we'd embarked on anyway. As we steeled ourselves to give chase, the session came to a close.

All told, a real action packed session. As we talked about it afterward, Liam's player warmed up to seeing what he could do with a one armed elf. Between that and biting the snake that was trying to crush him, we have the makings of a legendary badass. We left Paul's house, discussing trick prosthesis' and the possibility of him switching to crossbow as a weapon. (You can operate it one handed, it probably would just take a whole damn lot longer to load. Maybe he could hire a henchman to do that. The possibilities are endless!) So here's to Liam, the elf who'd just as soon bite you as shake your hand...

Thanks to Paul, and the rest of the 10d gamers for another thrilling session. I'm so glad we managed to not call it off altogether.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LL at Paul's: Game called on account of snow.

Just chillin' tonight... I'd rather be gaming, tho...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't worry about draining the swamp...

... when yer @$$ deep in alligators.

I am now flush with reptilian horrors for all my riverbank/sewer/water filled pit needs. And if I want something a little more heinous to throw at my victims... uh... players...

There's no telling what these antideluvian monsters might be planning...

Uh... Wait, the blue guy with the cleavers has already got some... yeah... never mind...

That probably wouldn't be enough for all of you bruisers anyhow...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Session 1 - 2/6/2010 - Analysis

Okay, so a good start.

I'm part of this gaming group that calls ourselves Helga's Heroes. (Long story, and kind of a weird one where the name comes from. Suffice to say, it's D&D related.) We're composed of a wide and varied population of Boston area gamers. Once a month on a Saturday, we have a game day, at a volunteer member's house. This time around, I offered my place, and used it as an opportunity to kick off my next Sandbox capaign.

I had a total of three players, the first two played Assadola the thief and Mehmet the kedai, and were joined midway through the afternoon by a third who rolled up Kashmalaku the largoman. The adventure was made up almost on the spot, as I had the germ of the idea for the largoman and his stolen dewwok about ten minutes before folks started showing up. Its a tribute to the simplicity and flexibility of Labyrinth Lord that I was able to spin a tale from almost nothing so easily.

One thing I find tremendously funny was that the initial two characters, a pair of the worst scumbags ever to soil the sandy streets of the city of Kalabad, were the ones upon who I needed to work this tearjerking story of a naive bumpkin deprived of a valuable piece of property. Seeing the gold dinars flash in the eyes of the characters upon hearing Scrocmalaku's story was a hoot. I'd hoped for sympathy and nobility, but I can work with petty larceny.

This session also saw first blood, which was very satisfying in several ways. As I might have said before, I'm kind of a soft touch DM, or have been in the past. This exercise in old school is also an exercise in pulling no punches (or snapping of necks, as the case may be) and it was awesome how the deceased thief's player (namely Paul, who runs the Labyrinth Lord game I play in on Wednesdays) was able to whip up a character in barely ten minutes, as the others carried his prior character's corpse around to his relatives. Score another one for the oldskool.

As for the adventure, it worked okay. The upper rooms of the thieves' house were kind of boring, but then they were really intended as someplace for them to sneak into if they'd chosen the stealthy approach over brute force, which turned out to be the option they went for. I sketched the rooms out on a couple of gridded note cards as my first two players were putting together their characters.

So yeah, overall, a great start, and an easy campaign to manage, since it's almost all improv and constructing random tables. I'm steeped in enough Harryhausen Sinbad movies, and have read Sir Richard Burton's translation of "The Arabian Nights", with all its wonderful, flowery prose, that I think I can keep this rolling. So stay tuned.

Sim sim salabim!

The Thousand Year Sandglass Begins!

And so a new journey on the Saturday Night Sandbox begins, the Thousand Year Sandglass! Tune in to hear timeless takes from the shifting sands of Sanduq Ramul, in my new sandbox Labyrinth Lord campaign.

A Tale of Two Rascals, Two Largomani, a Warrior and a Jeweled Bowl

Salaam and well met, O weary travellers of the wasteland. Hearken ye to this tale.

In the Bazaar of Profuse Delights in the heart of the great coastal city of Kalabad, did two rogues of low character find themselves playing at dice in the late afternoon shade of a rug merchant's stall, when lo did they hear a great ululation and groaning at the mouth of a nearby alleyway. One rascal, Assadola the Shark by name and inclination, a low bred cutpurse of little wit but with some skill at picking pockets and slitting throats, turned to his dissolute companion Mehmet, a ragged, scarred, hashish addled kedai, and wondered at the noise. Lacking much better to do than cheat what meager coins they had off of one another, the two ne'er do wells decided to investigate.

A short walk later, they found a grief stricken largoman, kneeling in the dirt and scooping up handfuls of sand to pour on his reptilian head, keening in despair as the denizens of the bazaar passed unheeding about him. When plied by the two rapscallions as to what was the matter, he replied that he had just come to the city from the deep deserts where his kith and kin made their home, and had been waylaid by thieves in the alley. His prized, heirloom dewwok (the polished bronze bowl that all largomani used to gather the water of the morning dew and sustain themselves in the wastes) had been stolen. Upon hearing of its gemstones and intricate inlaid gold and silver filigree, Assadola and Mehmet's eyes lit up with something other than charity, and with a curt nod to one another, they helped the trusting sojourner from the desert to his clawed feet and bade him be of good cheer, for they would help him find his treasured dewwok. And thus a small party of adventurers was formed.

Two losers and a lizard.

Seeking first to trail the robbers, the trio made their way down the alley, searching for signs of the thieves passage. There, they found a sack, reeking pungently of fish, and marked with the sign of Vahid the Fishmonger. This, the largoman (Scrocmalaku by name.) revealed, was the bag that the robbers had forced over his head to overcome him.

Following this lead, the trio wended their way to the waterfront, and found the foul smelling establishment, where a burly man was busy chopping the heads off of eels. He looked up warily when approached by Mehmet, for kedai are known to be a nuisance at any establishment that sells fish. When asked if he was Vahid, he said no, his name was Djalel, and that he worked for the aged widow of Vahid. Eyeing the two rascals up, the burly fishmonger's assistant jerked his scruffy head toward the ill favored building next door, saying they had an untrustworthy look about them, and that they'd be more suited to the company of the thieves den next door, and threatened them that if they did not wish to buy eels that they should leave before he struck them with his cleaver.

Taking this brusque exchange as yet another vital clue, the trio hied themselves next door, to a run down house with a ramshackle enclosed balcony that was pouring forth volumes of white smoke from its latticed windows. Stepping up to the door, Assadola rapped sternly, and demanded entry when a brass shutter opened and a pair of eyes glared out. The trio was told to begone, so the charming thief attempted to bluff his way in, declaring they had a lucrative business deal for them. The guardian's eyes narrowed cagily, and he told them that he had changed his mind, and that they should come right in. With that, the brass shutter clicked shut, and the sound of a bolt being drawn could be heard from behind the door. Mehmet, muddled by his vices and eager to plunge ahead with this latest endeavor, opened the portal and strode inside.

Inside they found a dimly illuminated room with a tattered rug on the floor but nought else, save for a foul stench, fouler even then the fishmonger's, and several unpleasant brown stains on the walls. As the kedai's slitted eyes instantly adjusted to the dark, he spotted a door across from him closing behind a receding figure. On either side of the portal were more latticed windows, behind which he could see movement. Tail twitching in impatience, he crossed the room and threw open the opposite door. A pair of sinewy, shaggy arms reached out and cuffed him, sending him spinning back as a horrible, filthy ape with a leather collar attacked, hooting with bloodlust as cheers and cruel laughter sounded from behind the screens.

Get your paws off of me, you damned dirty ape!

Assadola and Scrocmalaku hurried forward to aid their belagured companion as the kedai gave the grunting beast battle with his khopesh sword, dodging and darting on unsteady feet as the ape swung with his filth begrimed paws. The human thief attempted to flank the beast and get a surprise jab with his broad headed spear, but was spotted by the creature's tiny, piglike eyes. As it turned to fend him off, he still managed to drive the spear's wide head into the ape's side, wounding it grievously, but not before the creature's long, sinewy arm reached out and grasped the hapless rogue by the neck, snapping it like a reed with its hideous strength. Assadola the Shark dropped to the ground, dead.

Enraged by its wound, the filthy ape began to flail its arms seeking to kill the kedai and largoman. Seizing an opportunity, Scrocmalaku came in low (as is often the way with his kind) and drove his short sword into the beast's heart, ending its miserable life. The creature slumped forward, pinning the hapless reptile under its unclean bulk, as Mehmet bewailed his companion's fate, and the impossibility of ever recovering the money that he had owed the mourning kedai.

The pair's grief was short lived, as the sound of angry voices and the rattling of locks filled the room. Mehmet kicked the dead ape off of Scrocmalaku and the largoman snatched up the fallen rogue's scimitar, dropping into a defensive pose as some ill favored cutthroats who dwelt in the house poured into the room, enraged that they had slain their pet and guardian. Deeming discretion the better part of valor, they seized Assadola's corpse by the ankle and fled. As he ran, the kedai snatched up the dead thief's pole arm, and used it to wedge shut the front door behind them, blocking their pursuers as they fled into the deepening twilight.

They killed our monkey! Those bastards!

With heavy hearts and nothing to show for it, the pair bore Assadola's body back to the house of his siblings, where his sister (and fence) Magda received it with much wailing, wondering to the gods how she would get back the money she was owed by her brother now. From the back room of their small apartment, a stern faced youth with flaring eyes stepped out and shoved her aside, introducing himself as Assadola's brother, Rashid of the Seven Fires. Something of a warrior, with a fiery temper, the young man swore vengeance on the slayer of his sibling, no matter how richly he'd deserved it. Arming himself with his mail, shield, and sword, he declared a blood feud, and prevailed upon Mehmet to lead him to the thieves' house where he might have his revenge. Hot blooded, and angry at his ill treatment by their pet ape, the kedai agreed.

Meanwhile, out on the street, a despairing Scrocmalaku knelt down and began keening and anointing his head with earth once more, bewailing both the loss of his new found friend Assadola and their failure to retrieve his heirloom dewwok. It was then that he was approached by a fellow Largoman, a kinsman who had accompanied him in from the wastes, by the name of Kashmalaku. Seeing his kinsman's plight, the kindly largoman offered to join him in retrieving his dewwok. Soon, Mehmet and Rashid came storming out of the front of the backstreet hovel, and so the party of avengers numbered four, as they wended their way back to the pungent house of the robbers.

We thirst, for vengeance! And khoumiss...

Before returning to do battle, Mehmet wished to see if he could get the wounds he'd received from the thieves' ape tended with some magical healing, and so they took a side trip to the extensive temple grounds of the kedai of Kalabad, and sought out one of the albino priestess of his feline people. The alabaster furred female's lip curled at the sight of this gaudy jeweled, mange ridden reprobate, and she flatly told him he would need to pay gold to receive the blessing of wholeness from her divine patron, the Ohai. When he clumsily attempted to bargain the price down from 50 denarii to 5, she clapped her slender hands, and a pair of large, growling kedai escorted him summarily to the door.

It was fully dark by the time the group made their way to the thieves den, now dimly lit from within by lamps. Deciding to take a less direct approach, they walked a circle about the building, discovering the entries and exits. All of the windows were latticework, breakable, but unlikely to permit rapid escape, so they concentrated on blocking the doors, driving iron spikes into all but the back entry so that they would not be opened easily. The foursome then crouched by portal, steeling themselves for the fight.

With a fierce cry, Rashid kicked down the back door and leaped inside. He was met in a large, shabby room by a hulking brute of a thief, their leader, and a trio of his men, who drew their scimitars and the battle was joined.

Flashing blades!

The ruffians fought fiercely, but were poorly armored, and while they struck some telling blows with their curved blades, and were soon reinforced by three of their fellows from the next room, it wasn't long before all but one of the robbers all lay dead on the floor, felled by the flashing blades of the avenging party. The one they spared they plied with questions, with Rashid angrily demanding which of them had slain his brother. In a stammering voice, the prisoner told him that Oogoo the Ape had slain Assadola, and was dead (sent to the taxidermist to be stuffed, in fact). "You lie!" the hot headed warrior replied, running the last ruffian through. Lifting his bloody sword over his head, the angry fighter declared he would hunt down this thief named Oogoo and take his revenge, as his two largomani companions exchanged glances and shrugged at this angry mammal's fervor. Meanwhile, Mehmet was rifling through the dead robber captain's belongings, finding a handful of half-dinars in a belt pouch, and discovering an odd tattoo on the dead ruffian's back, two circles connected with a v, rather like the mark on the hood of a cobra. Rashid claimed the leader's heavy bladed scimitar for his own, and soon the group fell about searching the room for Scroc's dewwok.

As they overturned the pile of pillows in one corner, they found that one clinked and jingled. Slitting it open, a pile of gold and some gems and jewelry poured out onto the floor. This they scooped up and claimed for their own. Deciding to search the rest of the building, they went into the room whence the thieves reinforcements had come, and found Scroc's family heirloom sitting on a low table among dice and game chits holding a pile of mangoes and persimmons. Croaking with joy, the largoman reclaimed his precious dewwok, thanking his comrades for their aid.

As an overjoyed Scrocmalaku turned it over in his thorny hands, checking it for damage, Rashid noticed a map of some kind etched on the inner surface of the bowl like device. When queried, the largoman answered the map had been there for long ages, as the dewwok was handed down from sire to offspring, and detailed a ruin in a far off quarter of the desert that his people scarcely ventured to. He said the tales spoke of a bowl like depression in the earth lined with ledges of stone, with ruined statues of winged lions arranged about it.

The group then decided to investigate the rest of the house, seeking to make sure no thieves were lurking to avenge their brethren. They found only a hunchbacked crone making stew in the kitchen on the first floor. The shrill voiced old harridan assumed they were new recruits for the band of thieves, and gave them each a bowl of dubious fish ragout over undercooked rice, which Mehmet with his hashish urged cravings and Rashid from his poverty both accepted and ate without much question.

In the central courtyard of the house, they found a reeking, muddy pool. Tossing aside his empty soup bowl, the warrior took up a long pole and stepped forward to prod the stagnant water and see if perhaps something might be hidden there. Indeed it was, as a small, pock skinned crocodile snapped at him, hissing with rage. He drew his sword and smote the creature, sending it vanishing into the murky water in a frantic splash followed by silence.

Back! Back you dimetrodon pretending to be a crocodile! Back!

Finally, the group climbed the rickety stairs to the second floor, and forced the door on the room overlooking the street, where they found three kidnapped damsels who were being held to be sold into slavery by the evil robbers. They were glad to be rescued, especially from the clouds of cloying incense needed to shield them from the stench of the place, and went on their way saying many thanks and wishing blessings upon them from the gods.

Our heroes!

A quick perusal of the upstairs yielded little else of interest to the adventurers, and there were no other occupants of the building, save for some dull eyed opium addicts lounging in the room next door to the captive damsels, who barely stirred when the quartet entered their stuffy chamber. In one hall, a nightingale floor, which Rashid assumed was to warn if the maids from the upper room attempted escape, and another hall full of large clay jars of oil, one of which Mehmet claimed as spoils to sell. Though unsteady on his feet from the khoumiss and hashish, he managed to bear the ten gallon jar down the rickety steps and out of the building without disaster striking.

Gathering up their captured treasure, the four avengers quit the thieves den. The others watched and chuckled among themselves as Mehmet tried to sell his oil at the fishmongers, and was once again thrown out of the reeking establishment. His companions consoled him in his bristling, tail lashing irritation by dividing up the coins and jewels they had won, and the four and went their separate ways in the heady, warm Kalabad night, to spend their newly gained wealth on what they chose.

What happened to them next is a tale for another night...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

LL at Paul's: Hungry Like the Worgs

Howdy, Lords, Ladies, and Lurkers Above. It's time once again for a recap of the Labyrinth Lord game I'm playing in, helmed by my amigo Paul ( formerly known as DH, who's just cracked open a brand new blog, and changed his online nom de jeu to a more accurate moniker. I try to refer to folks by whatever nickname they pick, as a courtesy. Anyway...)

So when last we left our doughty band, they were still creeping about the tunnels beneath the old guard house, a bit gnawed on but otherwise undaunted. We explored the final open tunnel off of what seemed like an old thieves' den, and found it made its way to another runged ladder in a tunnel that was dripping with moisture on the walls and ceiling. We sent Liam, the elf ranger, up the ladder to look around with his elven "see in the dark" vision (none of that infared camera eye booshwah). He found a trapdoor up there, and forced it open with a little difficulty, raining dirt down upon the rest of us. It turned out to open in a patch of land hidden behind a bush by the seacoast, inside the bounding wall that runs along the town of Restenford's south? side. We found ourselves wondering what purpose that might serve to whatever secretive organization had built the tunnels, and guessed maybe it was a secret way in for someone arriving via small boats under cover of darkness. Smugglers maybe? There was definitely a thieves den vibe about the place.

After we climbed back down we backtracked through the tunnels and saw to opening the room behind the hearth area that a trap had rendered full of some sort of gas, and leaving it propped open so that hopefully the sinister green vapors would dissipate and we could explore the area beyond. We used our trusty 10' pole to open the hidden door's catch, and then left the pole propping open the door as we fled. From there, we left the catacombs, some small treasure and a bag of giant rat heads the richer.

From there we started going about town consulting with personalities we had met and trying to plumb the depths of the clues we'd gathered. We first went to the Captain of the Guard's tower, where we parted company with Webber, our observer with the noterized bag. We sent him up to talk to his superior, and found that while there wasn't a bounty on giant rats, he was generous enough to pay us 5 crowns for our trouble, and also affirmed that we'd no longer need a representative of the guard following us to confirm our bounty kills, which was a good deal.

We then proceeded to the tower of Pelltar, to talk with him about this curious map we'd found on the back of a dartboard in the thieves' den, referring to a safe containing magic items hidden behind a picture in a large bedroom, making note of when a magician (presumably the occupant of said room) was leaving, and also noting to beware of bugbears. Since Pelltar was the only wizard we knew of in town, the more upstanding members of the party (namely the cleric and the paladin) wanted to give him fair warning, while Kooda the mage wanted to get in good graces with the wizard in hopes of obtaining some magical instruction. The thief and the ranger seemed to be trying to come up with an angle to work from having the map, but lacking a lot of information, and facing the prospect of tangling with a man capable of turning you into a frog and then setting you on fire, went along with telling Pelltar everything we knew. We also brought along a strange amulet we found in the smashed remains of the self vaporizing chest, and a potion we found in a small wooden box.

The wizard received us graciously in the company of his chief apprentice, and we spoke for a while. He didn't recognise the room, and pointed out from the age of the map that any warning we brought was a bit late in coming, but appreciated the spirit it was given in nonetheless. He didn't recognise the amulet, or the use of hexagons as a symbol. It was made known that his apprentice would identify magic items for 10 crowns apiece, which we found a bit steep and declined. After pressing him for more information on the ogre he wanted slain, we bid Pelltar farewell.

Afterwards, we tested the potion by tasting it (namely, the Deacon tested it. Heck, he'd lived a good life and was ready to meet the Allmaker anytime.) and found it was a potion of healing, which we gave to Liam to keep to spread the healing abilities out among the party members. (The primary healers being Deacon Silver and Yøgen Früdje.) We tried on the ring, but didn't really feel any unusual effects, but we're keeping it for now in case there's a chance it might be magical.

From there, we decided to go speak to Amos' parents (Augrim and Fellina? I remember the first letters of their names but the rest just doesn't wanna stick. Any help out there, Paul?) and purchased a fine feast to thank them for making us dinner the other night. (A basket of chowdah and a bottle of wine. Fine eats.)

As we sat around the dinner table, we discussed the items and clues we'd found, hoping that perhaps Amos' elven mother's long memory would be of help. She demurred that she hadn't been in the area for long. "Only fifty years or so." She didn't know anything about the amulet or the hexagon, but did make note of the Baron (actually, probably the Baron's father) obliterating the local thieves' guild when he took power shortly after she moved to the area.

Soon the conversation turned to recent events, and the party decided our next task would be to deal with the wolf problem that the family was having, namely a pack of roving, maurauding beasts that were forcing young Amos to take the long road on his forays to pass information to their elvish kin to the west? rather than pass through the stretch of forest known as the Kellman wood.

Our other options were to hunt the gnolls and their ogre on Pebble Hill, or seek out a haunted outpost on Tritop Hill. We figured the wolves would be a good place to start, firstly because we wanted to cement our friendship with Amos' family (particularly the use of their magical healing pool) and also because it would be good experience. So a wolf hunt it was.

We parted ways with the family and slept for the night, and then busied ourselves planning (actually, over-planning as it turned out) our expedition. We took the small treasure we found in the rats nests under the guard post, and pawned the red gem for a tidy sum of 50 crowns, had the gold ring appraised at 10 crowns (although we decide to hold on to it), and changed much of our cash into platinum sovereigns for portability. All told, we ended up with about 62 some crowns. We took out 12 crowns as our "wolf hunting fund" and split the remaining 50 among the primary party members.

From there, we split up, sending Liam and Klint to buy some more rope and price out some shovels to dig some traps with, while Yøgen and the Deacon headed down to the Red Keg to see if we could hire some more bodies for the expedition. After finding the price of shovels a bit steep, we advertised through Falco the bartender that we were looking for some louts to dig for us at a half crown apiece, bring your own shovel.

By the afternoon, a quartet of farmers had answered our call, but when they found out they would be digging in the Kellman wood, quailed at the prospect and needed a couple of shillings apiece to convince them to do the job. We told them to meet us at the Keg in the morning and we'd march out there, and dig a few pitfalls for the wolves, with us protecting them.

Since there was still a few hours of daylight and the woods were not far away, we decided to make use of Liam's tracking skills and scout out good places to dig our pit traps. He soon found some tracks, of normal wolves and some unusually large footprints that indicated worgs, at least. (Klint spent a little gold on a sprig of wolfsbane, although the prospect of tangling with werewolves is kind of scary at 1st. level. I got some silver on my mandolin, but I don't reckon pulling an "El Kabong" on a werewolf is anything more than a desperation tactic.)

We followed the trail through the woods, and it soon became apparent that indeed we'd overplanned a bit, as we entered a small clearing around a forest pool and found five wolves and a worg drinking at the pool. With water dripping off their fangs, the beasts growled at us with hackles raised, and charged.

Thankfully, we won initiative, and Liam and Kooda got some shots off first, the elf with his bow, and the mage with his potent Sleep spell, which sent three of the wolves off to dreamland. Klint clambered up a nearby tree, while the slavering beasts laid into Melchoir and Yøgen. The horrible worg, an evil natured giant of a beast, clamped its fierce jaws on the Paladin's leg, eventually biting through the greave and severely injuring his calf and shin, forcing him to use his healing touch to keep himself at least in the fight, although his heavy armor and shield helped keep him from any worse injury. At his side, our three fingered henchman lost a few more bits of himself to the wolves as the creatures savagely tore his thigh, forcing him to fight from the ground after the Deacon healed him. Liam dropped his bow and drew his sword, hacking at the beasts, while Klint peppered them with bowfire from up the tree. Eventually, we wore the beasts down, as Kooda slipped around the side of the fight and finished off the magically sleeping remainder of the pack.

After some deliberation, we skinned the worg and hung the rest of the carcasses from nearby tree branches to collect their pelts later, and limped back to Amos' house. His father was quite glad to see the evil beast slain, but told us sadly that the Baron cared little for the goings on past the town's wall, and therefore probably wouldn't pay any kind of bounty for them. After a dip in the healing pool for each of us to mend our wounds, we took the pelt to the local tanner to be prepared, and settled in for the night at the Dying Minotaur, resolving to go back to the woods the next day to make sure we'd gotten all of the beasts, after letting the farmers know we wouldn't be needing their services and paying them each a shilling for wasting their time.

The next day we put our tracker Liam to work again, and wound our way past the pool with it's grisly hanging carcasses. As we wound through the woods, we came across the badly decomposed body of a dwarf. We found he had some coin on him, which we claimed as salvage, and took a few moments to give him a proper dwarven burial (Namely: lots of rocks, piled on the corpse, the larger the better. If we could have found a huge boulder or a menhir to tip over on him that would have been best*, but we made do, and continued on our way.)

From there we followed a trail that led to a den, where we saw two more worgs standing guard. We decided to use strategy, and climbed up some nearby trees where they couldn't get us, and we could pepper them with bowfire and daggers. We decided to save Kooda's sleep spell in case more wolves popped up. (Also, worgs were a bit tougher than the sleep spell could affect, so it would have been a waste to fire it off right then anyway.)

At the sound of a warning growl from one of the worgs, about three more wolves came out of the den, barking and growling up at us. Klint and Liam fired on the beasts, wounding a few, before Kooda's enthusiasm got the better of him and he threw a flask of flaming oil. While this indeed singed the worgs and a few wolves, it caused them to scatter into the forest and left us up trees over a spreading fire in the underbrush. We shimmied down and kicked out the fire with a little effort.

We decided to investigate the den, and while the rest of the party watched out for the rest of the pack's return, Liam and Deacon Silver crawled down the small earthen tunnel, expecting perhaps to find some cubs we could maybe take away and sell, or even train. (I was gonna name mine Spirit Wind! He and I could have totally rad adventures. If there were enough pups to go around I might have gotten three. Chain mail goes awesome with zubas. But I digress...) Liam crawled on ahead while the Deacon stopped half way, anticipating handing things up bucket brigade style. This, also, turned out to be overplanning, 'cos Liam found a snarling, bristling mother wolf in addition to a litter of cubs, and backed out of the den in a big hurry.

Deciding we needed to make an end to the pack, we arrayed ourselves to lure the wolves in and fight them. Klint, Liam, and Kooda climbed trees, while Mechior, Yøgen, and the Deacon took up a position atop the small earthen knoll where the den was (so that we wouldn't get rushed from behind by the mother). Liam used his wilderness skill to make a convincing return call mimicing the female wolf (we figured a mating call might be a bad idea for all involved). Soon, the beasts came out of the woods with hackles raised and the battle was again joined, although as the gigantic slavering worgs closed with our melee fighters we were all feeling a bit on the overwhelmed side.

The battle was indeed fierce and brutal. We were rolling a lot of low rolls and misses, but Klint managed to get a couple of natural 20's (I'll take this opportunity to be abrasive & annoying and once again complain that we as players chickened out about not using crits. Yeah yeah, I know we would be suffering from the profusion of 1's we roll, but damn, it sucks to get a natural 20 and have nothing to show from it but normal damage. No, I will never shut up about this.) Yøgen's armor class of 1 really paid off, as the wolves and worgs fruitlessly gnawed on his metal casing and failed to get to the tender meat inside, thankfully. Melchior's dismal luck with wolves continued and the beasts crippled the poor dope, and were actually dragging him screaming back toward the den before the Deacon stopped them with a few well placed whacks from his quarterstaff. We were all hurting at the end, but we eventually slew the beasts, effectively ending their threat to the forest for good.

We wrapped the session with a bit of discussion about dealing with the mother wolf and her litter. Seeing as it was the worgs who were the ones leading the rest of the wolves to prey on humans, we decided to be merciful and leave them to in peace. (Plus, none of us were willing to shimmy down a narrow hole in the ground and get our faces bitten off, least of all Kooda, who was not enthusiastic at all about the idea when we suggested he go down and cast Sleep on them.)

All told, another good session. Lots of interaction and getting to know the scene around Restenford, some good leads for more adventuring to come. Thanks again for a good session, Paul, and the rest of the 10d gamers. Once again, I make no claims for the veracity or accuracy of this document, it being the result of my often muddled memory.

*It is well known, by those who believe everything they hear, that the greatest Dwarven kings often have entire rings of massive standing stones toppled upon their corpses when they die, as a true dwarven journey to the afterlife requires the body to be crushed under rocks in the manner of their ancestors. The sound and frequency of crunching bones and squishing noises coming from below as the bier is built are read by those whos' beards drag underfoot as auguries. At least, that's what I heard...