This session only two of the players could show, but we decided to go for it. The group had travelled to Threshold, the largest town nearest the keep, both to resupply, move some of their goods (thanks to the fences list) and possibly hire new recruits. Threshold is a near lawless border town, very Conan meets wild west vibe.
The two players hunted for more people willing to risk their lives in dungeons and when rolling on ACKS tables I produced about 10 normal people and 2 1st level characters. I have a list of allowed classes (which includes a few home-brewed ones from myself and the web) and I ended up rolling a Mage and a Warden (failed ex-mage who is trained to fight and protect mages). So, I decided they came as a pair and had to be hired together. Long Tom really wanted them, especially when I described Anika, the small, dark-skinned woman with bronze eyes swathed in her red robe. A good roll later and they’d hired on. Cronyn, the Warden, seemed displeased but offered no verbal complaint.
Now, because they’d rustled up 8 of the 10 available normal people, I simply asked what kind of skill set were they looking for. I didn’t want to roll 8 characters on the spot. So they wanted a perceptive rangery type, so I told him one was there (Fahs) and he was willing to consider hiring on.
Now we learned just how damaging a -1 Charisma modifier is. No dump stat this! Thanks to that damn 7 Charisma, Kenan-Tal essentially had to promise Fahs the moon to get him to hire on (each ‘gift’ gave him a +1 to the next roll whenever I rolled a ‘roll again’ result… Kenen-Tal had to promise higher wages, Longbow and Plate armor, and a few other concessions before the wilderness man would agree to follow him). We even rolled to see if the other 7 mooks available at that moment would take employment without extras and none of them would, so Kenan-Tal grit his teeth and paid the price.
The PCs decided to investigate the pole in Hero’s Square, outside the arena in Threshold. On this pole, scrolls requesting the aid of ‘troubleshooters’ and ‘adventurers’ or even simple mercenaries are posted. They decided to look into one that they’d ignored waaaaay back in the first session of the game. Clifton Caldwell, a wealthy noble, was seeking him out in Raven’s Heart, an upscale pub in Market Town.
The puffy would be aristocrat met them and bought them drinks, while explaining his problem. He’d been sold a property outside the city, a walled villa. Unfortunately, no one told him the place was infested with bandits and goblins and he and his entourage were chased from the property the last time he tried to move in. He offered 100gp for clearing the place and anything that wasn’t furniture that the party wanted to take (I’d come to regret the wording of that agreement later).
The party bought supplies and headed out with the merchant and an armed entourage through the woods to the property. Once there, the merchant left and the party entered the building. Some brief exploration later and they stumbled into a wandering group of goblins. Battle ensued. The noise attracted the attention of more goblins who were in the room the party had originally been heading towards. Anika almost got cut down as the goblins rushed the unarmored woman. One of the goblins from the first group fled. A sleep spell later and the fight was over. No one spoke goblin, so they killed the sleeping creatures and searched the room where they found a large bag of silver and copper coins.
Deciding they wanted to follow the fleeing goblin, they headed down the corridor and started checking rooms. In one they found a statue of a shepherd. When Kenan-Tal entered, the statue greeted him.
“You talk?” the incredulous priest asked.
“Yes,” said the statue.
“What are you?”
“I am an oracle. I answer the questions of those aligned with Law, thrice per day.”
“Wha…” (quick slamming of hand over mouth).
The pcs withdrew from the room to discuss their next ‘two’ questions. They then returned to the room and asked the statue where the goblins were. It told them the Guardroom (but didn’t say any more than that). Before they could ask anything else, it said, ‘Goodnight’ and closed its eyes.
“But we have another question!”
“Your first question was asking it if it talked.”
Still, the players immediately began asking if the statue was fixed to the floor. I said it wasn’t. Which meant, to them, it’s not furniture and therefore is free game…
It’s quite clear to me the module meant the statue to stay put, but the players have decided this is nothing more than an engineering exercise and intend to come back with a team of stone masons once the castle is cleared and they are carting that sucker back to town. My gut immediately wanted to say, ‘that won’t work’ but instead, I decided how I would limit it so that if they get it, it won’t disrupt the world too much. Such is the fun of sandboxing… dealing with the curveballs the players throw your way. There will also be, potentially, some consequences from this ‘interpretation’ of the verbal agreement with Caldwell.
A short bit of exploration followed and, because the cleric thinks leading from the front is a good idea, ended with the party retreated with a Kenan-Tal nearly dead from blood loss thanks to a stirge attack.