Okay, sorry for the delay in the relay. I guess I oughta talk about the Labyrinth Lord game as that's what passes for content 'round these parts. This is a double feature, since I skipped a week.
So anyhow, last we left our heroes they were standing in a hall of statuary in the foyer of Stonehell, in search of our errant mage buddies Koode Dood and Talen Zinn.
Meanwhile, an wandering ranger on an important mission was climbing the foothills of Mount Zerbil, looking for the group who traveled with the Paladin Yøgund Frudje, bearing an important message. He encountered two men, a couple of dogs, and several horses camped out in a small copse of trees, who owned to being the hirelings of the very group he was looking for, so they sent him up toward the cave where their employers were spelunking, with vague and incomplete directions as to where they were and what they were doing down there.
As the rest of the group sat in silence, this new ranger's player led him thru the labyrinth, biting our tongues when it looked like he was gonna take a wrong turn and get lost. Well, anyway, he found us, and so we were introduced to Jantz the Ranger. (Sorry if this is misspelled).
Seems Jantz had waylaid a hobgoblin message runner and had gotten hold of a letter between hob commanders. He'd gotten it translated in Restinford by Felwyn, the elven wife of Almox the Druid, and had found out that the hobgoblins were massing and getting ready to invade the sleepy little fishing villiage to secure a naval beachhead. (Which, of course, we'd heard about while exploring the ruins of Koral Gesh, but had forgotten to bring up last time we were in town. Multiple choice exclamation: A) Whoops B) Doh! C) Dammit!) So, Jantz was sent by Felwyn to find us and get us to go get help before the hammer fell on Restenford.
Of course, in light of this we had to evaluate our options. We were still looking for Koode and Talin, and we'd just gotten to the last room of the map that we'd already explored, but of course the razing of an entire town, with the bars we frequent and everything, was a matter of concern.
So it was decided to check a couple of connected hallways, then git on down to the horses and ride hard for Bridgefair.
So our first avenue to explore is a set of stairs going down to the west. At the bottom of the staircase, we found a room full of scribbled drawings of stick figures.
Strange and creepy.
It had a couple of exits, to east and west. So we took the east corridor. About halfway along, we found a skeleton huddled against a wall with the words "Mother never loved me." scrawled in a reddish brown substance above it.
Stranger and creepier.
Anyway, while we were pondering the strangeness and creepiness of it all, Klint, our senior thief, heard a voice calling his name. A familiar voice. The voice of Koode.
Puzzled and creeped out, we crept down the hall, listening at each junction.
Klint kept hearing Koode's voice, so we followed, until we ended up at a set of double doors between branches of a fork in the hallway. A dessicated, decaying corpse in wizardly robes slouched against the doors. Klint was 90% certain he saw Koode peeping out through the doors as our lantern light illuminated the doorway.
We walked up, and checked out the corpse. We weren't sure if it was one of our lost mages, but signs pointed to it. He had his spellbook on him, and familiar equipment, but his face was too far gone for a positive ID. The Deacon examined him and found he had a lot of bites on him that could have been something like raccoons, or badgers.
So we steeled ourselves and entered the doorway. Beyond we found a large hall, something like a throne room or temple. In the far end, standing, or rather floating, in the midst of a ring of sinisterly glowing mushrooms, was the smiling figure of Koode, our lost mage companion.
Well, everything about this situation pretty much set off the Deacon's "Somethin' ain't right." alarms. I cast a Protection from Evil on myself, and then tossed a Bless spell on the ring of 'shrooms. This cause a bunch of evil little fairy imp guys with bat wings and curly toed shoes (shudder) to materialize, shrieking and chittering and rearing back against the back wall of the mushrooms. The floating figure in the center started casting a spell.
So we charged up, with the Deacon shouting to the team to NOT BREAK THROUGH THE MUSHROOM RING. Seriously! Bad things will happen to you. We ended up busting down a couple of shrooms, and that's where the fliedergnomes worried our left flank. The Deacon started whaling on the lead one with the Mojo Stick, which was effective and pissed the little bastard off. He tried a spell on the cleric, but the Protection from Evil paid off and he didn't posess, frighten, or whatever he was planning on doing. After a few whacks with the stick, Koode's visage slid off in a very unpleasant fashion and showed that it was just a big version of one of the gnob goblins we were fighting. (I'll admit, though, wearing an actual face as a disguise is pretty hard core.)
Eventually, with enough whacks with the mojo stick and sword strikes and stabs with Froggy's spear, we took the little creeps down enough to where the remainder vanished into thin air, whining "You don't fight fair!"
And thus, we'd figured out the eventual fate of Koode Dood and Talin Zin. Lured by curly toe shoe wearing gristle imps and getting his face severed, whilst Talin was bitten to death by the creatures badgery little jaws.
So, with heavy hearts, we carefully fished Koode's face out of the mushroom ring and slipped it into a bag, which it was the Deacon's unpleasant duty to transport until we could furnish it a proper burial. (What can I say, that's part of a cleric's job.) We also decided to haul the other corpse out for the same purpose, with the Deacon and I think Kashim carrying him.
We wended our way to the ladder down to the complex leading from the orc bandit's cave, and lowered Talin Zin's corpse down in advance of us climbing down. Well, I can say that if nothing the dungeon can give you a unique range of experiences, and I don't think any other livelihood prepares you for lowering a corpse down a shaft on a rope and having the rope suddenly go taut!
We put our back into pulling it back up, and lo and behold we'd hooked ourselves an ankheg, the big bug from a couple weeks ago that had chased us from the feast hall. Of course we cut bait as soon as the creature's ugly head popped up into our lantern radius (which might have been hasty. Heck, if we were beefy enough to haul a 20 ft long chitinous worm up 50', we could probably have just punched the critter out with our mighty fists. But I digress...) We dropped the critter back down the hole, then emptied a cask of oil down there and dropped a torch, and sat at the top of the shaft waiting for the flames to die down. The Deacon said a couple words and played a hymn on his mandolin, figuring it passed for a Viking style funeral for Talen Zin.
Anyway, once that had cleared up we climbed down and got the hell out of Stonehell. For now, at least.
In short order, we made our way down the hill and set out. We decided the cart was gonna slow us up, so we gave Garant and Darius and the dogs (Yøgund and Liam) instructions to follow us along the road from Restenford to Bridgefair as fast as they could, while we rolled ahead at top speed.
And so we rode. Galumph galumph galumph.
On the third or so day out as we were camping for the night, we saw evidence in the distant mountains to the south? that there was an army's worth of campfires in evidence. Hopefully it was a human army, but we all figured it was probably hobs.
Round about second watch, Klint, with his keen eyes, spotted a bunch of humanoids sneaking up on our camp, so we roused everyone and set to arming up. Turned out it was a party of hobgoblins, who started peppering us with arrows. We charged the bastards, and started whackin' on 'em with extreme prejudice. I don't totally recall the details of the fight, short of the fact that it was a little close, but okay since I healed folks, and that the Deacon's prized mojo stick finally ran out of mojo juice, and became a normal staff with a mummified squirrel strapped to it. Dang.
And that was about where we wrapped the week before last's session.
So this week, we horsed up and kept rolling for Bridgefair.
About a day after we'd fought the hob scouting party, we ran into a big merchant's caravan heading toward Restenford. We stopped and conferred with the leader of their force of guards, and touched off a big argument between the merchants who wanted to press forward 'cos time is money, and those who wanted to double back 'cos it's hard to spend time OR money when your head's a centerpiece at a hobgoblin cocktail party.
We pretty much laid what we knew on the line, and told 'em they could do what they want with the info. They decided to send riders ahead to confirm, and then they'd decide whether to double back or roll forward.
We took one of the faction that believed us aside and asked if there was anybody in town who we could tell about this to make sure it got to the right ears. He recommended we call on a prominent member of the Merchant's Guild who had connections with the ruling elite of the city. We thanked him, and went our way.
Well, we finally made it back to Bridgefair, but things had changed a bit, not totally for the better. Prince Hank, one of the two contenders for the crown in our kingdom's little civil war, had sent his troops off but was occupying the city's keep, and had adorned the gates with the heads of several loyalists (or accused loyalist who were inconvenient) for his brother Prince Gway. Lovely...
Anyway, we got into town, dropped our horses off at the horse-o-mat, and then proceeded to our favorite bar in Bridgefair, the Rusty Bucket! Since it was late and we didn't wanna make any contacts until the next morning when we were fresh, we decided to settle in and get our drank on. And thus, we discovered the wonders of Jeff Rient's carousing rules!
The Deacon, being the cleric and designated driver for the party, simply had a good meal and rented a private room, and slipped the bartender a couple extra silvers to let him know if any of the party were getting into trouble. Of course, since he was a bartender, he could only keep an eye on the bar, so if the party stumbled out into the street for more drunken adventures, he couldn't help me.
Now, I'll admit with a little embarrassment that I sort of used an NPC of one of our absent players as a test monkey. I was running Kashim, and since it seemed logical for the character, I let our wandering desert warrior tie one on a little. For the price of 80 silver pieces (which in our house ruled money system is 80 gp), he got magnificently drunk, and wound up with a pink heart with the word "princess" tattooed somewhere. I figure that's worth the 80 exp he gained...
The other players didn't quite have that excuse for the tattoos they got. Klint got a tattoo of a python crushing a money bag. Gentleman Jack, who started buying everybody drinks as soon as he hit the bar, got an "I (heart) Gway" tattooed on his chest. This would become a plot point later on...
So the next morning, after a little bit of egg & tabasco sauce Cure Light Hangover for those who needed it, we all headed over to the Merchant's Guild while it was still light to talk to this important merchant. (Who's name escapes me and I didn't write it down. Lets call him Mr. Poshington.)
So we were escorted in to see Mr. Poshington, and he was indeed disturbed by the news. Bad for business, war. Anyway, he said he'd hook us up with a prominently placed paladin personage at supper this afternoon, and so we agreed and headed out into town to conduct other necessary business.
First stop was our buddies, the gnomish gem merchants, who all crowded up to their dutch door on their little footstools and haggled with us over our haul of settable gemstones. That netted us some dough, and Klint sold them the couple of jewels he found in the trash heap down in Koral Ghesh, as well as a jade statue of Kor. Jantz really wanted to be invited to the gnomes' place for dinner for some reason. (I guess he's kind of a Steve Irwin, Jane Goodall type ranger.) The gnomes were also willing to pay for info on thieves who had been robbing the local gem merchants of some of their best stock. We tucked that bit of info away and went on our way.
Next, we hit the Sage's place, to contract some identifications and get some info. We gave him Klint's jeweled sword, and the two rings we'd found in the palace of Koral Gesh after some haggling and trading of information and artifacts (i.e., random stuff we'd picked up down in that hellhole). The Deacon asked about recharging his Mojo Stick, and paid him a sum to do some research. So as not to dilute the drama of how we wrapped up, I'll say that the sword turned out to be +1/+3 vs. Undead. Groovy! The rings were a ring of Animal Command and a Ring of Danged if I Can Remember at this Point... I'm sure someone can help me out in comments. Finally, the Deacon found out that the Mojo Stick could be recharged by simple expedience of a mage casting Magic Missile on it, each missile equaling a charge. Aces! Gotta find somebody to help me reload my boom stick!
Anyway, with that completed, we got spiffed up and went to the Golden Goose to meet with Mr. Poshington and the Paladin Warden. We spoke for a time of the eminent threat, found out that the caravan had turned around after the scouts had returned from confirming our report, and then moved on to talking a bit of politics.
The war between Hank and Gway was taxing the kingdom's abilities to deal with threats like a hobgoblin horde, but maybe if the two brothers could be brought together against the common foe we could avoid calamity. The Warden was not happy with the harsh measures Prince Hank had imposed on the free city of Bridgefair, but was trying as best he could with his order to keep things on the straight and narrow. The problem was, the paladins couldn't contact Prince Gway to tell him about the hobs, not and still be welcome in Hank's court.
Now at this point, a UFO full of wacky touched down in the idea centers of some of the party's brains, and between Jantz and Gentleman Jack's players, they hit upon a brilliant scheme to infiltrate Prince Hank's dungeon, find some Gway supporters, find out where the fugitive Prince was hiding, and get out before being publicly hung and dismembered.
Long story short, we arranged to have the Warden arrest one of us. It turned out to be Gentleman Jack, with his handy, freshly healing "I (heart) Gway" tattoo. Throw him in the brig, and then he'd feign death and get tossed out into the corpse pit. (I'm not sure if we established there was such a thing, or whether dead bodies just got fed to a gelatinous cube in a box or something...) and we'd retrieve him.
As a way to demonstrate his bona fides, and to figure out the loyalty of whomever he made contact with, he would tell them, in confidence, that he had reliable information that Prince Hank was actually a hobgoblin in disguise, and the real Prince Hank had died very young.
Yes. I'm afraid my sarcasm sequencer broke down in the middle of this plan being hatched and I could only sit across the table and watch it unfold...
So Gentleman Jack got the spotlight for the rest of the session, trying to make inroads with the collection of thieves, murderers, perverts, and crazy people he found himself locked inside a medieval dungeon with.
In it's way, it is truly glorious. Paul's definitely jazzed to have the cart suddenly jump off the track and start bouncing down the mountainside so flamboyantly. I'll just have to see how it all turns out, my personal misgivings aside.
Maybe I'll be proven wrong and this is the best plan since the invention of the +3 bread slicer. Or maybe I'll be adding a few platinum pieces to the Fedyeka, Strang, and Gentleman Jack Getz memorial bar tab down at the Red Keg, if it's still standing at the end of this.
Anyway, that was that. Two good sessions. The second one was almost experience point free, save for Kashim learning to use better diction when drunkenly talking to a tattoo artist. (Again, a medieval tattoo artist. No autoclaves and electric guns here. Just a needle made by the local blacksmith, some ink, and the incessant tapping of a little hammer.) Still, even if no points were gained, this is about as gonzo a plan as I've ever seen in all my years of gaming.
So all I can say is thanks to Paul, and to the rest of the 10d gamers. Shine on you crazy diamonds!
P.S. This one goes out to Gentleman Jack Getz
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