Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's the Evidence, Stupid!

Since I'm obviously slacking on providing my own content, I'll promote someone else's.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have At You, You Pansies!

We managed to get in another D&D session last night, and a new player finally managed to attend (he’s been trying for weeks). Introducing new characters to a campaign in progress is always a challenge, but the circumstances affect just how much of a challenge. Earlier in the campaign, for instance, while the party was still in a major city, I could have introduced the new character, Bowman, quite easily. Alas, the party has now journeyed far from civilization, eliminating the option of having Bowman forced onto the party by an intimidating crime boss.

When we left off, the party had split, with Nerogon, Sylvia, and Lucretia going back to camp to get the wagon (and Machaon and Reya) while Lainis stayed in the kobold keep to watch over the loot. This seemed as good a time as any to throw Bowman into the mix. A few hours had passed, and Bowman came by the keep, noticing that the door (which had always been closed on prior sightings) was standing open. Taking the hint, he went in to investigate.

Naturally, this began a series of sneak checks and listen checks as Bowman carefully prowled through the keep and Lainis tried to figure out who was sneaking around in there (aided by her faithful wolf companion, Cazhmere). It is inevitable in such situations that the players will turn the paranoia of their characters up to eleven, pushing the encounter to the brink of open combat. I’m surprised that Darths & Droids hasn’t dedicated a strip to such situations yet.

I arranged for the rest of the party to conveniently return to the castle at that point, and after a bit more suspicious bickering (and a few hints of “find a way to get along so the adventure can proceed”), they agreed to work together and continue the quest. It’s convenient that Brother Machaon, in his perpetually inebriated state, has no qualms about telling anyone and everyone they meet about the quest. Machaon even showed Bowman his map and asked for directions.

Bowman didn’t provide any directions, but Lainis was able to find the path with her kick-ass Survival skill, which led the party toward the old shrine of Dionysus where the Goblet was last reported to be. Getting close to the place marked on the map, they heard sounds of clacking wood from ahead.

Nerogon volunteered to go ahead and try talking to whatever was making the sound. Lainis and Bowman sneaked up behind him to provide cover if he got into trouble. Lucy and Sylvia were only a little farther back.

I suppose I might mention at this point that Reya’s player was not able to attend. In such situations, the character of the non-present player tends to find something to do that keeps them out of the combat area, like staying with the wagon while the rest of the group goes ahead to see what danger lurks. This is a convenient solution for the DM, especially when there isn’t a copy of the missing player’s character sheet handy.

Back on topic, Nerogon walked ahead and came within sight of the shrine, which was pretty obviously abandoned and overgrown with vines. The field before it was somewhat trampled down, however, and there was a wooden post standing in the field. The clacking had stopped as Nerogon approached, and now there was a small, green-skinned person watching Nerogon approach and leaning on a wooden sword that was covered in wicked-looking thorns (this little critter is a Thorn from the Monster Manual III, if you’re interested).

Some verbal sparring ensued. The Thorn asked Nerogon’s business; Nerogon explained a need to get into the shrine; the Thorn said “no way”; Nerogon said it was the object of his quest; the Thorn said “too bad”. Basically “none shall pass”. Lucy and Sylvia approached during the conversation, and Lucy finally interrupted by saying they should just kill him. Cue the fight scene.

A Thorn may not look like much, but they actually have 6 hit dice, a high attack bonus, and an impressive armor class of 19. Coupled with his tendency to say “the green knights always triumph” and “only a flesh wound” on the rare occasions that he was hit, he was pretty darned annoying. Despite his bravado, however, he was not invulnerable, and he was soon surrounded by Nerogon, Lucy, Lainis, and Cazhmere in a configuration that allowed all of them to get a flanking bonus. With the additional bonus from Sylvia’s bard song, the Thorn’s supply of 31 hit points dwindled with surprising speed. When he finally succumbed to the persistent pummeling, Lucy finished him off with extreme prejudice.

With the guardian dispatched, the looting could commence. The Thorn himself only had his armor and weapons, so the group started searching the shrine. The main room had an algae-fied pool and a statue of Dionysus himself. A room off to the left proved to be a library, but they found nothing left of value. A room on the other side, however, turned out to be a winery that had been well maintained and was obviously in use, as there were two large tubs of fermenting berries. A knowledge check from Sylvia determined that the berries came from an assassin vine, indicating that the wine being made would be wildly expensive. A glance through an outside door of this room revealed a trellised assassin vine growing next to the shrine, and the group decided that messing with it would probably be unwise. A trapdoor in the room lead down to a wine cellar, where Lucy found a couple of interesting trinkets.

Behind the statue in the main room of the shrine were doors leading to bed chambers. All of the furniture was in poor condition, and most of it ended up in fragments as the party broke things up looking for hidden treasure. Nerogon found a scroll hidden in a bed post that provided a clue to where the Goblet had been sent from the shrine.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Take That Frenchy!

Time for an overdue post about last week’s D&D game.

In the aftermath of the kobold raid, Sylvia, Lainis, Lucy, and Nerogon decided to return to the keep where they had originally been taunted to confront the kobolds there, figuring it was the source of the attack. Reya stayed behind to guard the group's wagon and pack animals and to guard Machaon, who had used up his spell casting with an extra round of healings to get the others into fighting shape.

Seeing no signs of kobold activity from a distance, the group moved up the keep gate, which was still barred from the inside. After some difficulty getting started, Lucy climbed the wall, where she came under fire from kobolds inside the keep’s tower. Lucy quickly tied a rope to the battlements for the rest of the party then ran along the battlements to the tower, where she was too close for the kobolds inside to shoot at her through the arrow slits. Nerogon climbed the rope to the battlements and started getting shot at as well. He jumped down to the courtyard and unbarred the gate for Lainis and Cazhmere. Sylvia began a bard song from safely outside the keep’s walls

Lainis went to the courtyard door of the tower, which she found also to be barred from the inside. Nerogon got back up on the battlements, while Lucy started taking fire from a kobold on top of the tower. She put an arrow through his head when he leaned over to shoot at her again. Nerogon sprinted to her side, and the two found a door into the tower that was merely locked, not barred. Lucy made short work of that, and they were soon in combat with two kobolds, who didn’t stand up to them for very long.

Lucy started down the stairs to open the door to the courtyard and tripped over a chain that had been rigged there. Lying on the landing, she was attacked by a dire weasel. Nerogon grabbed it and she wriggled free, heading down to let Lainis into the tower. Lainis, Cazhmere, and Lucy managed to kill it before it mauled Nerogon too badly.

A rock tossed down the remaining stairs to down from the tower floor revealed that there was still a kobold down there when it fired a crossbow bolt at the noise. Cazhmere charged down the stairs to deal with the kobold, triggering a nasty swinging blade. Fortunately, the kobolds had set it to swing a bit higher than a kobold’s head, so it missed Cazhmere completely. The wolf caught a crossbow bolt on the way in, but he made short work of the kobold. The party set about looting the stash of ill-gotten booty that the kobolds kept in the cellar.

For good measure, the Lainis decided to check the stable in the courtyard to see if it had any threats lurking within. Opening the door and walking inside, she kicked a tripwire that dropped a swinging block of stone into her. Fortunately there were no other threats to take advantage of her.

Lainis and Cazhmere stayed in the keep to guard the loot until Lucy, Sylvia, and Nerogon could return with the wagon to collect it.