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...

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