Yes, brethren and sistren, it's time once again for my regular rundown of how things are going in Paul's Labyrinth Lord game.
Last time, we'd spent a lot of time around the city of Bridgefair, buying and selling and talking and jumping off of tavern roofs. We'd acquired a selection of fine horses and a groom to take care of them, and were preparing to leave the city.
As we were making ready, we were approached by a foppish young ne'er do well who introduced himself as Gentleman Jack Getz, who seemed intent on selling us some silverware he'd acquired. He seemed an affable enough fellow, although none of us were quite prepared to buy anything off of him. He started following us around, but remembered he had an appointment elsewhere when we informed him we were going to Captain Godsarrow to report that we were leaving town.
In short order we were ushered in to the harried guardsman's office to let him know we were leaving. He asked if we knew when the rest of the Paladins of Palenthor were leaving, and we said we didn't know. The question led Yøgund to ask a few probing questions about the town guard's political leanings, as far as the war of succession between the Princes Guay and Hank were concerned, but the conversation wrapped up before it led anywhere dangerous, and we were on our way.
As we saddled up and headed out of town, we were pursued out the gates by Jack Getz, who begged us to allow him to join our group, as he suddenly had a rather urgent need to leave town. We shrugged and agreed, putting him up on Melchoir the henchman's horse as we set out for Restenford.
As we traveled, it became apparent that the city bred Mister Getz had ill prepared for a journey thru the wilderness, as he'd neglected to buy travel rations or any useful equipment. We loaned him some of our extra rations, and he scavenged along the roadsides as we traveled.
On the second day out as we stopped by the road to have lunch, the roguish gentleman went into a nearby woods to check out a stream that was running through it, hoping to maybe find some food there. What he found instead was a trio of huge lizards sunning themselves on a large boulder in a crook of the stream bed. The beasts looked at him hungrily, and he turned and fled back toward the rest of the party, with the hissing reptiles in hot pursuit.
As Getz ran for cover behind Gerund, our groom, and his mule, Kashim of the Long Sands and Yøgund stood and drew their swords, fighting the beasts to a standstill and then slaying them. The three huge reptiles were brightly colored, one red, one blue, and one green, so we set about skinning them and then roasted the meat for a couple days worth of eating, enough to last us on our way to Restenford. The rest of the journey was uneventful.
Upon arriving in our old port of call, we were met by the Baroness' man, a devotee of Palinthor whom Yøgund had recruited to help run the charitable house that he'd established in the sleepy fishing villiage. The older gentleman was in a bit of a tizzy, because his co-proprietor, Feldara the elf and wife of Almox the Druid, was allowing elves to stay at the Palinthor house.
Now, we were expecting this kind of static, since the old boy seemed a bit down on the pointy of ear, but the other issue was that these elves were kind of political, spouting off about how great Prince Guay was to all who would listen. Yøgund was placed in the uncomfortable position of refereeing between the two factions who he'd entrusted with running his charity. He generally established that the house was open to all who needed to stay there, but that it would be a politics free zone. He also expressed a preference for it to be available to folks who were more down on their luck than just your average traveller, but then that's kind of tough to judge, and there's a question of how much can be done in such a small community. He did find out about a local fisherman who'd lost his boat, and put some of the mound of gold he'd acquired toward helping the poor salt out. At the Deacon's suggestion, he decided to treat it more as a loan, with a little bit of the fisherman's catch being dedicated to supplying the Palinthor House in return for the help he'd received.
That matter kind of settled (although I think this elf/human tension thing's gonna rear up again), the other big issue we found was that our friend Amos, the young half elf yeoman, had gone missing while traveling thru the Kellman woods. Feldara was quite worried, and so we went around to Almox's to talk to him. We also bore the sad news that Liam, our one armed elf companion, had died as he'd lived, being mauled by animals.
This brought us to the uncomfortable realization that Almox had Liam's severed arm, now preserved and mounted, to deliver to us. Thinking quickly, we took the arm around to the Palinthor House and hung it on the wall of the entry hall with an upraised palm and a sign hanging from it proclaiming "Donations Welcome". Again, he probably would have wanted it that way...
After settling in, we decided to head out and see if we could turn up young Amos. We bought some trail rations and set out on foot for the Kellman woods. We made our way through the underbrush, pausing by the watering hole were we found the wolf corpses we'd hung up a month ago had long been cut down.
We continued the length of the stretch of woodland, until Yøgund unceremoniously discovered a shallow pit trap under a layer of leaves and scrub. A trio of spitting cobras lurked at the bottom, and they promptly started spitting their poison at him. Thankfully, his helmet visor protected him from the worst of the venom, and he strode forward to strike the serpents down, joined in the pit by Melchoir and Kashim.
Once the snakes were dead, we took stock of the situation and decided to lay a trap for the trappers. Somebody dug this pit, and pretty recently too from the look of it. We positioned Getz and Klint at the bottom of the pit to act as victims of the trap, while Elef took up a position of hiding nearby due to his natural halfling ability to vanish in the woods. The rest of us dug in under a layer of brush nearby, and laid in wait as the afternoon faded to night and the bugs crawled over us.
As darkness fell, a party of gnolls came loping cautiously out of the woods, brandishing spears and sniffing the air, attracted by the mock plaintive cries of our party's two thieves. As they came near the pit to investigate, Elef stole over to our position to warn us of what was happening, as being buried under branches we couldn't see.
Suddenly, Kashim burst form his hiding place and charged the gnolls, bellowing a battle cry and swinging his scimitar. He had hoped to shove the beasts into the pit, but they were alert and got out of his way, splitting their force of six into two groups of three. The dusky foreign warrior nearly toppled into the pit himself, save for braking his progress right at the lip.
Now, at this point something of Kashim's bravado had somehow infected the Deacon, as he leapt up and charged the gnolls as well. In this case, the wandering cleric braced his quarterstaff and managed to clothesline the mangy bastards into the pit. (Natural 20, baby!)
Now, this was awesome and all, but on the other hand it was probably a major tactical error, seeing as two of our own guys were down there, minding their own business and not expecting to be toppled upon by a trio of seven foot tall hyena headed goons, and then be stuck down there with them. Once the gnolls recovered their senses they started attacking their fellow pit occupants.
At this point Melchoir and Yøgund got up and charged the rest of the gnolls. The Deacon cast Hold Person on one of the ones down in the pit, while Elef cast Charm Person on one of them before the rest of our fighters closed. Both spells were successful, freezing one in his tracks, while the other became instant bestest buddies in the world with the halfling magician. Sadly, he only spoke gnoll, but Elef was able to convince him that his former fellows were a threat to him and that he should fight them. Apparently there was some bad blood between the gnolls that needed to be worked out, because our newly charmed ally attacked his former tribesmen viciously.
Speaking of vicious, Kashim decided to dive down into the pit to help the thieves, and managed to roll a massive critical with full damage, nearly bisecting one of the gnolls with his scimitar when he landed. Klint took some heavy damage from the desperate survivor before they managed to shut him down, which the Deacon was more than obliged to heal by lying on his belly by the pit rim and laying a hand on him. (Least I could do, after dumping the gnolls on 'em in the first place.)
Soon, we'd slain our foes, and put the Held one to the sword. The charmed one was completely obedient to Elef, as far as could be managed with the language barrier in place. There's slight danger in keeping him around, as he can wise up and snap out of it, but gnolls are intensely stupid creatures, and don't really have much chance of breaking out of a charm. So for now we've got a pretty heavy duty henchman, which is kind of like this:
Except the beast isn't muzzled, is armored and armed with a spear, and the guy with the metaphorical chain's only three and a half feet tall. Who says halflings can't be badass?
The next day we decided to make our way up to the gnoll settlement in the midst of Tritop hill, of the infamous battle with the ogre and cheiftain were we lost that first bit of Liam the elf. We figured the gnolls probably had Amos, if they'd begun hunting down in the Kellman woods. They are known to keep slaves, so there was a good chance we'd find him alive. Taking our turncoat gnoll with us, we headed up the hill.
When we got to the top, we decided to send Klint and Getz ahead to scout, but that plan soon went south as a bunch of gnolls loitering in the courtyard of the settlement spotted us, and raised an alarm. The party decided to stand and fight, as a total of nine gnollish warriors piled out of the huts, with a garishly feathered and masked gnoll shaman in tow.
Ut oh... Spellcasters are a great thing. Spellcasters on the other guy's side? Not so much...
We started sending as much missile fire toward the shaman as we could, hoping to take him out before he cast any spells, but we didn't manage to get any arrows into him. He cast Sleep, which I think caught Melchoir and Yøgund. Thankfully, they gnoll warriors were far enough away that we had time to kick our sleeping beauties awake before the battle was joined.
The Deacon and Elef both cast our own spells, and managed to freeze one with Hold Person and charm another gnoll to our side. A big, nasty scrum ensued, as Klint and Getz broke off around the flanks and tried to make a strike on the shaman. In the melee by the hut, they managed to get in an amazing number of backstab attempts, until eventually Klint managed to shank the gnoll wizard with his longsword, sending him to whatever spotty, carrion stinking hell the beast was overdue to arrive at.
Meanwhile, our newly charmed gnoll had fallen to the spears of his former comrades, while the Deacon rapidly burned through his allotment of prepared Cure Light Wounds spells, and was reading them from our backup scroll to keep our guys on their feet. Melchoir, I think, got a lungful of gnoll spear, but was breathing with 0 hp after the Deacon fixed him up. (It might of been a party member that got nailed, but I don't totally recall. I know I had to patch Yøgund up a little, in spite of his heavy duty armor class and agility. Gnolls are 2hd, and hit hard.)
After a long, bloody battle, we finally managed to take out the gnolls, with only one survivor taking to his heels after the pups and females who had scampered for the hills after the shaman went down. We'd won the day and conquered the gnoll lair, but it will be next week when we see what we'll find there, 'cos here's were we knocked off.
All told, a good session. Good to be back in action after last weeks' commerce, bartering, and politics. Thanks again to Paul and the rest of the 10d Gamers for a smashing time.