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.