Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Session 8: Assault on Darkshelf Quarry

The party began where they left off, at the top of the tower. They found that the southern room was full of slaves so they freed them and left the wizard and paladin to tend to them and keep them from alarming the rest of the keep, while studying the elf's spellbook.

They proceeded downstairs, Flint leading the way and they ambushed a group of 6 human guards in their barracks. As they were finishing the last two, their sergeant came up behind Volodemir but he too was taken down. Searching the men they found some keys and then opened the footlockers of the various guards. In the sergeant's room, Flint noticed a false stone beneath the bed. Below, there was a chest which the sergeant's key opened. They gathered the treasure, then continued exploring. After finding many empty sleeping chambers and a door they deduced led to the outside bridge which crossed the moat. 

They found a kitchen with 4 women working and a large female half-orc with a whip and a cleaver menacing them. The party took out the beastly woman quickly and brought the slaves upstairs after asking them about the layout of the guardhouse. Unfortunately, the slaves knew little of what might lie below. The kitchen had a small trapdoor from which water was fetched via crank and bucket. Opening the trapdoor, there was also a ladder within leading down into water. Flint climbed down into the darkness and found the water to only be a few feet deep and a gentle slope leading out of the water. He signaled up to the rest to follow. Below, they found a large open cavern. The rear, where they emerged, contained a forge, and the bugbear attacked! The party was easily able to subdue him and his pesky goblin slave. The majority of the cavern was devoted to a stable, and the exit lead into the quarry proper.

Once in the quarry, they could see the opening to a mine on the western side. Exploring the underground cavern, they came upon a brace of goblins with a barely tamed warg. As the party was putting down the weak goblins in hopes of freeing/taming the warg, it snuck around behind them via an adjacent tunnel and started attacking Volodemir. Regretfully, they ended its life as well and began to reconnoiter the remainder of the cave system.

Monday, September 19, 2016

House Rule: Preparing Spells

The new Sage Advice from Wizards of the Coast came out today, and they noted something about spell preparation I dislike.
Can spellcasters prepare spells not all at once, but prepare spells at various times in the day? You prepare your list of spells only at the end of a long rest. You can’t prepare some spells at the end of the rest and then prepare more later.
This seems needlessly strict, and I don't know that there's any good in game reason for it. Sure, for clerics you can say that their deity wants prayers at dawn, or midnight, but that seems awfully small minded for most gods, and doesn't make sense for wizards. So here's the house rule:
Can spellcasters prepare spells not all at once, but prepare spells at various times in the day? Yes. During the day, a spellcaster can use a short rest to prepare new spells in slots she has available.
That should provide some flexibility, while the hour rest requirement prevents it from being misused. In my experience in 3rd edition, it was rare you wanted to leave a slot open in any case, so I'm not too worried about abuse.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Session 7: Gnolls among Knolls

Gylthiel and her goblin guards, in happier times
After reacquainting themselves with Elven wizard Galathil, and catching one another up on what they'd been up to, the party decided to continue tracking the orcs that had been involved with the slaving business.
Moving around the countryside, they eventually came upon a number of small hillocks that Flint recognized as barrows. Spotting a glyph but not being able to read the language, they decided that between the barrows seemed like a decent place to rest for the night. After Flint and Galathil waited through the first uneventful watch and had settled in for some rest, all of a sudden, Ezral Dawn shouted something about gnolls and the party woke up and started fighting.

The two sides seemed fairly equally matched, with a lot of swinging and missing on both sides, with Dyn-Bach and Flint seeming to find it difficult to shake off their slumber. Volodemir incapacitated a gnoll with laughter while Ezral was playing cat and mouse, firing and drawing another into a ranged battle. After several rounds of back and forth, during which Flint was repeatedly battered despite his shield of faith, the gnolls were dispatched and the party searched them, found nothing, and disappointedly went back to bed.

After researching the spell, Galathil cast comprehend languages and realized that the ancient rune warned of possible unrestful dead within. Flint suggested helpfully translating the warning to prevent less cautious souls from accidentally releasing something into the wilderness.

Back on the trail, they soon ran into a group of horsemen with large feathery standards. Drawing closer, the group identified themselves as knights of Fogelon, led by sergeant Sir Joseph. They were hunting a group of gnolls and were pleased to hear that the party had taken some out. The knights did not know where the orcs the party was tracking had gone, but wished them good luck. The two groups professed their appreciation for one another's missions and the knights told of their keep of the Falcon a week's ride to the west.

Picking up the trail again, the party came to a river, and the tracks continued North, downriver. Eventually, despite their quickened pace, they spotted a large gatehouse without being seen themselves. Deciding that reconnaissance was in order, and tired from the march, they rested until dark, then approached stealthily to give Ezral a chance to infiltrate and discover the defenses. Avoiding the bridge to the main gates, Ezral leapt the moat, scaled the wall and found himself atop the roof. He spotted 4 figures in the darkness looking out and some doors leading inside. Satisfied that he had found an alternate entrance, he returned to guide the party up the rope he had left hanging.

In a rare show of group stealth, the party managed to gain access to the roof without alerting any guards. What followed was a keenly organized and effective takedown of three groups of goblins who were serving as lookouts. First, Volodemir put 3 of 4 from the first group to sleep and Ezral killed the other with a single shot before the others hit the ground.

This was repeated on the second group of four to the south, with Dyn-Bach dealing a killing blow before the surprise was forfeited. Finally, the third group was taken out in similar fashion. With the roof secure, the party began peeping in some windows.

Entering the main hall, Flint peeked around the corner and found the room unoccupied. He opened the door to a room they were confident was unoccupied (via peeping) and had a bit of a rummage in the furs. He found a locked box that Ezral opened to reveal a great cache of platinum and gems.  Impressed with their newfound wealth, they explored further, and heard some noise behind one door. Flint opened it to find 2 bugbears. Erzal plugged one straight through the heart, and the rest of the group attacked the second. Unfortunately, it was still able to call out to warn someone "Gylthiel! Intruders!" before he too was silenced forever.

Waiting inside the room, ready to ambush whoever came to answer the call, the least hardy of the party felt the sudden need for sleep. However, one by one, the elven waking sleep of Galathil, Ezral, and Dyn-Bach kept them from succumbing. Volodemir, however, passed out. Someone, presumably Gylthiel, ordered the remaining members of the party to come out. After waking Volodemir, Flint armed himself with some zombie powder in order to effectively render the potentially powerful magic user feeble minded. He walked out to find an attractive female elf who asked him what was going on. In response he turned her into a mindless maniac. She clobbered him and was taken out by Dyn-Bach. Finding her spellbook, the party pondered who they had just attacked, why, and what to do next.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Session 6: Spider fiends and zombie frauds

The exploration of the cave was largely uneventful. There were spiders and goblins, but the part was able to fight their way through with little difficulty. In the rear of the cave, they found the beast they were searching for. It was a spider the size of a dog, and it had the head of a wolf. When it saw the party, it dropped a globe of darkness over them and proceeded to slash with its claws and bite with its teeth. The party, however, was able to quickly injure the spider fiend quite badly, and it teleported away, crying "My lord Miska will hear about this!" The party shrugged and headed back to Neufeld to tell the miner's that the mine was clear.

Once back in town, the party was accosted by a zombie running suddenly out of a house in the slums. Startled, they barely have time to grasp for their weapons before a woman runs out of the house yelling, "That's no zombie, that's my brother!" With the help of the party, Ulrike is able to get her brother back into the house. Hansel looks and acts just like an actual zombie, but on closer examination, he is still alive. Ulrike explains that Hansel had the pox, and a priest came by to treat him. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember the priest's name. Further investigation in the marketplace leads to the discovery that there were three other houses whose inhabitants had been treated for the pox recently.

In the first house lies Ernest, chained to his bed. His mother Nelda tells the party that the priest Bombulus came by to cure Ernest's sickness. At the next house, Michael says his wife had the pox, and a priest treated her with a white powder. Volodemir recognizes the white powder as not only a standard cure for the pox, but also was used on some southern islands as "zombie powder". He notes that the cure for zombie powder is rose hips. So the party was able to go to the market and get some rose hips, which cured the former pox patients! That being dealt with, they went to the temple to find Bombulus.

When they found Bombulus, he was deeply apologetic, and offered to give the party the zombie powder. However, when he brought it in front of him, he sneezed, and the powder went everywhere! Fortunately, Volodemir still had some rose hips, and so was able to cure Bombulus in short order.

Session Five: The Heist

This time around our adventures return from there preemptive scouting of the orc camp that lies a decent distant down the river. Finding their way back to the Sign of Xorn they turn in for the night. The rogue awakens to the sound of a note sliding underneath his door frame. The note reads “Steal a painting called The Betrayal of Haradon from the miner’s guild”. The rogue Ezral thinks carefully on the request and mulls over how he should proceed. The information that thieves guild could provide would be invaluable but there relations with the miner’s guild were also just budding, getting caught could jeopardize their future in the town. “I guess getting caught is not option” the rogue thought to himself. This job would naturally be easier with some help, Volodimir the bard was a natural choice. After discussing the matter some more, the two decided on a plan. Volodimir would find a way to weave himself into the good graces of the miner’s guild and that would give them a man on the inside. It was easy enough with the help of Flint Forgehammer the cleric to get Volodimir a job playing music and telling stories in the guilds common area. It was a good gig that payed and the layout of the guild was now open to his disposal. After a couple of performances, Volodimir was able to pinpoint where the art gallery was and knew when the guild would be the busiest. We needed a lot of potential suspects around so in this case the more the merrier. Finally the two decided on one particularly busy night to strike. Volodimir set out for the guild hall along with Flint and Keth the barbarian. Volodimir was set for a big audience and Flint had managed to arrange an interview for the barbarian for some potential mining work. Ezral waited at the Sign of Xorn pretending to drink himself into the midst of a hangover so that he would have a clean alibi.

At the hall a majority of the guild was in attendance. The hall was packed with miners of all shapes and sizes all marked by the typical shade of soot and ash that comes with their work. It only took minutes for the festivities to begin. Volodimir spouted off story after story as miners rapidly drained there flagons. Following along in the shadows, Ezral made his way to a secluded back door that Volodimir had noticed during an earlier stake out. After long hours of picking locks as a thieving runt in his past Ezral made quick work of this lock. The room that he stepped into was shadowy and dark. From  looking at the bags of flours, extra dining chairs and meat hooks around the small room it was apparent he had made his way to into the back room of a kitchen. Moving swiftly through the house Ezral moved from the kitchen into the dining area eventually stopping at a door that lead out into the guild lobby. Peeking through the cracked door way he could see two guards standing post in front of the arch that led to the hallway where Volodimir said the art gallery sat. With a flick of his wrist and some nimble feet it was all too easy to make it past as the two guards moved momentarily to inspect a single gold coin thrown ever so slightly so that it landed with a ding at the entrance to the guild. Slinking past the guards into the enclosed hallway Ezral could now see the four large statues that marked the entrance to the art gallery. Being almost directly under common area now, he could hear the heartily engaged miners upstairs.

“You whore!!!” he could hear Volodimir shout mid story.

“That’s what I said to that massive spider”

Ezral proceeded to the door of the art gallery, confident that the guild was distracted enough. Apparently the story distracted more than just miners though as a sharp jarring pain raced up Ezral’s hand that almost caused him to yell out. He had absent mindedly triggered a spring loaded needle trap rigged inside the lock of the door, next time he would remember to check the door for traps. Shrugging off the stinging feeling in his hand the rogue pressed forward into the art gallery. Inside he found all manners of classical paintings, carefully crafted dwarven carvings in marble and other trinkets but after an extended look he could not find the specific painting that had been requested of him. This baffled the rogue. Where could the painting be? Was there a hidden safe he was missing or had it been moved? His thought was interrupted by the pounding of the guild residents on the floor above him as dust rained from the ceiling. Then it came to him, where was the only other place that would be safer for a painting then the art gallery? … The guild master’s room. Ezral slinked back into the hall way and slowly made his way up the stairs. The sounds of the party were very distinct at this point. Once on the second floor it was not hard to find the guild master’s quarters. With a quick pick of the lock, making sure to check for traps this time around he made his way into the unoccupied room. There on the wall was the painting that had been requested buy thieves guild. Carefully pulling a dagger from its sheath he cut the painting from its frame and stowed it in his bag. Making his way from the guild hall, Ezral turned his prize into the fence that had helped broker his newly found relationship with the thief’s guild.

The next day the party made there exit from the town to take on their next quest. Rumor had it that a cave nearby was home to a demon. It was time to find out. On the way to the demon possessed mine, the group scattered a small gang of kobolds. They also encountered a pack of blink dogs that were clearly intelligent but did not share a common language with the party. Nevertheless they followed Volo west. They then arrived before the foreboding cave.