This was a short Skype session with only two players (the same two from session 6). Kenan-Tal and Long Tom recovered from their previous expedition, Fahs leveled up from his experience. Sadly, Fahs decided he didn’t want to continue in the employ of Kenan-Tal, something the priest took with less than good grace after all his lavish gifts. Though there were no hard feelings, Kenan-Tal decided he would not invest in hirelings again. Ever.
Long Tom found a replacement, Bri, an engineer and merchant looking to strike it rich. She was quickly outfitted and the party was off, after stopping briefly to consider buying property in Threshold. Together they had more than enough to buy a Townhouse (1200gp) which seems a little ridiculous for 1st level PCs, but hey, I guess the life of a murderhobo is a rewarding one. At least it wasn’t simply sitting on their sheet taking up space. I actually made them consider what they were doing with their money in their absence, so now most of it is in the bank.
The party returned to the castle and encountered a group of men claiming to be traveling merchants. Though they were dressed for combat and armed, the PCs had a peaceful talk with them and the men said they’d gladly leave they just needed to get their mule. The party let them leave and then continued.
A few doors later and they came across a blond woman wearing platemail armor who was praying at a makeshift alter. She greeted them and offered to let them join her in prayer.
“Who do you worship?” Kenan-Tal asked.
“The Lady,” she said with a smile.
“Oh, I worship Talia too,” Kenan-Tal said.
She smirked, “Oh, no. Not that Lady.”
If you’ve read about my gods, you can see why this might be a problem for our religious party…
Things in the room became suddenly very chilly as the party and the woman eyed each other. Long Tom, a follower of Sethi, a god of the Balance, jumped in and attempted to chill his ‘compassionate’ friend out. It was clear that when they figured out that she meant Deimoor, the Goddess of Night, that Kenan-Tal very much wanted to beat her to death. Long Tom saw no need to fight so long as she was willing to leave and, when she was told that more people would be coming since they’d been sent to clear this place out, she sighed and agreed she’d close up shop.
What followed was a long and (to me at least) hilarious debate between the priests of Law and Balance about the merits of asking her to join their group (something that would have been really fun…though less likely to occur since they were having this conversation in front of the woman).
Kenan-Tal watched her pack up her things. Meanwhile, Bri shouted a warning. Everyone turned and saw the three ‘traders’ from earlier with three new friends headed down the tunnel. They refused to be forced out and now they were armed and meant to drive the players out. Again, Long Tom diplomatically pointed out that even if they won the fight, more ‘cleaning crews’ would be coming and they would, eventually be driven out. Rolling on the reaction table, the men were a bit shakey and wanted to leave so they agreed, as long as the players let them take their stuff, which they did.
At this point, Jaynin, the priestess sauntered up behind the party and leaned against the door jamb. “You know,” she said, watching both groups, “they are bandits. They’ve been robbing and killing people for weeks.”
That changed the entire party’s demeanor and they gave the men a chance to surrender and be taken back to Thrshold. “You won’t take me alive!” one of them screamed before they all rushed the party. Grognar, one of the men they’d spoken too earlier had a strange axe that seemed to vibrate through the air as he swung it. It hit Kenan-Tal and rent his armor with a mighty blow. The backwoods cleric was still too tough for a little axe blow to take down and kept fighting. Long Tom’s player wanted to have Anika sleep everyone, but I reminded him he’d not declared that at initiative roll. So the party held the men at bay until the next round, at which point, Anika sent them all to sleep.
Now, this fight brought up a number of little nits with the system. The Sleep spell is not explained very well. Or specifically, the area and how it is targeted. By my reading of the ACKS version, it effects the targets you want it to, so there is no danger of sleeping your own party. This seems extremely powerful, but otherwise I’m not sure how to play it. Also, initiative. I’ve been letting the player’s hirelings act on their initiative (rather than rolling for each pc and hireling separately). This is good for speed of play, but feels a bit awkward (especially when a high dex bladedancer is rolling the initiative for a group of 4 characters). I’ll probably not do anything about this though simply as any other choice would be too difficult to implement in actual play.
The pcs tied up the sleeping bandits and decided they would take them to town and see if there was a bounty on their heads. Kenan-Tal eyed Jaynin wearily, expecting her to attack them now that they were weakened but she didn’t. She came out of her room with a bag across her shoulder and offered to heal Kenan-Tal, an offer he hotly refused. He did offer her a weeks worth of food for her journey, which she took. She gave him a peck on the cheek, promised to remember Long Tom’s kindness, and sauntered off, out of the castle. They players aren’t sure if they’ll see her again.
The bandit’s mule was loaded with money and jewelry, a small fortune of it. So they quickly returned home laden with enough treasure to see Kenan-Tal hit 2nd level (the first PC to do so!). The bandits were, in fact, wanted by the authorities and that earned them a few hundred extra gold in bounty. The owners of the stolen goods couldn’t be determined so they were allowed to keep them as well. A very profitable venture.
Now, something funny came up in retrospect about this scene. Half the party was ready to shank Jaynin the second they saw her. But, later, when she just mentioned that the other guys were bandits, the party immediately believed her. I found that amusing. Granted, she was telling the truth, but what if she’d not been? Or what if the bandits had been more clever and tried to lie? Interesting indeed.