This session we had almost a full house. Lucian’s player showed up and the only person we were missing was Arakhe. After dealing with the PCs gold from last game and everyone deciding what to do with it (in which Long Tom’s player made the joke, “I don’t fear monsters in the dungeon anymore, now what I’m really afraid of is my accountant!”).
They debated what to do next. Rage Claw and Lilith wanted to go after the bandit disrupting trade in the north as did Long Tom, but some of the others were reluctant. The main draw for RC and LT was the fact that the bandit’s reward had increased and the merchant’s guild was offering a free year of trade to whoever stopped him. Alfric was non-plussed, “We murder things and take their stuff, we don’t trade. If anything we murder traders and take their stuff.” This really didn’t go over well with the Lawful leaning members of the party. Finally they gave the ultimatum that it was what they were going to do and he could come along if he wished. Grumbling, the dwarf accepted, rebuked by the party for the first time.
So they found out the details of this Ranish, an eight-foot tall killer of men as reports told it. His beastmen prayed on merchant caravans travelling the northern roads. Now, I had a nice little bandit lair in a old farmhouse kind of thing planned, courtesy of the Judge’s Guild old Book of Ruins.
Yeah, players weren’t having none of that. Why simply go looking for bandit kills and track them back to their lairs when you could lure the bandits to you?
Long Tom’s player got all A-Team on the mission, and they decided they’d try to find some wagons that they’d armor up and make look like merchant wagons so they could lure the bandits into jumping them. It was such a great and funny idea I let ‘em go with it. Bruna, the hireling with military strategy suggested Rage Claw be tied to the back of the wagon with silvery rope, so he’d look like a slave. He was none too pleased with this suggestion until Alfric volunteered to also appear to be a slave.
So, they bought wagons (including one armored wagon) and horses and some tat (spending well more than the reward money I might add) to deck themselves out in merchant ‘bling’. Now, here I goofed because I didn’t roll on the item availability chart, meaning they essentially got their goodies without the difficulty that finding such high cost items in Threshold should have been. Ah well.
On the third day on the road, they passed a copse of trees that Bruna indicated would make an excellent ambush spot. And much to no one’s surprise, a group of ten orcs charged out of the copse on light horses. Before they could cover the distance between them and the road, a sleep spell took half of them out and arrows dropped two more. The orcs were down to three before they even realized how many of their number had fallen. By round two, the orcs were finished and only Kanen-Tal had any damage to show for the encounter.
Alfric told Lucian that maybe he should interrogate the sleeping orcs, and spare the elf’s delicate sensibilities. Lucian’s man Guido bust out laughing, saying “That dwarf sure don’t know anything about you boss!” To prove a point, Lucian stabbed three of the sleeping orcs.
“Oh, I see you’ve done this before,” Alfric said.
They woke up the last two and made one watch Lucian dispatch the other.
“See, your friend just got killed by an elf,” Alfric said. “That means he goes to orc hell. Now, if you tell us what we want to know, you get to get killed by a dwarf so you can die with some dignity.”
These guys need to work on their interrogation routine.
After some back and forth, and false promises, Alfric found out where the rest of them were and how many of them there were. Alfric chopped of one of the orc’s legs and then told him he was free to go. “Liar,” the orc screamed in pain, “Betrayer!”
“Would you have treated us any different?” Lucian asked.
“Touche,” the orc said. “I see what you did there.”
Well, not really, but in a comedy world, I like to think that the orc appreciated the poetic justice, before one of the hirelings finished him with an arrow.
Forewarned that there were another 10 orcs and 3 giant men, they advanced cautiously into the woods. They waited until the flying bug familiar reported the orcs were headed their way to investigate the other groups disappearance and jumped the group of six, taking them down quickly. This time, a couple lived long enough to shout out a warning. This brought one of the large men and the remaining four orcs.
A word about Ogres in my setting. In my world, I use the RuneQuest definition of Orgres, which is to say, tall, beautiful beings, like the heroes of old. Only they have a tremendous appetite for human flesh. Some barbaric ones file their teeth into points, others simply have fangs. But they are not the lumbering, obese caricatures that are the standard D&D variation.
Anyway, as bad ass as they are, a sleep spell still drops one, so Anika slept the ogre and the archers took out the other four orcs. They then went to the house and ran into ogre number two, who ate a second sleep spell. In the distance, they could hear the sound of a wetstone dragged against metal. They figured they’d found their man. Moving cautiously around they positioned themselves to open the door leading into the room.
Behind the door sat a tall, beautiful man who radiated immense power. He was sharpening a sword that looked comically small in his giant fist. In dwarven letters across the blade was the word ‘Tall Bane’.
“So what took you so long,” the dark haired giant asked.
The party told him they’d come to end his reign of terror. He laughed and said they had no hope of doing that. They pointed out they’d done a pretty good job of killing everything up till now.
“You’ve not faced anything like me,” he said.
“Yeah, that’s true. We killed two other ogres and they seemed MUCH bigger then you,” Rage Claw said.
Ranshin burst out laughing. “Ah, you make me laugh lizard man. I’ll save you for last.” He rose in one fluid motion and strode towards the party and the fight was on.
Sleep spells bounced off this guy (being 5+1 HD) and he hit like a ton of bricks. But, even he couldn’t break the wall of steel that Alfric and Rage Claw represented. They just slowly picked him to death. Oh, he got two shockingly good hits in, one that brought Alfric to 3 hit points and another that he had to splinter his shield to survive (I use the ‘Shields Shall be Splintered!’ rule). But with the two high hit point PCs in the front, Ranshin couldn’t pull of a deadly cleave and murder his way through the hirelings (which is how I actually imagined this fight would play out). And so down he went.
In retrospect, I realized I played him foolishly. He had time to prepare and time to pour oil all over the floor to burn up would be attackers. I just thought he’d be dangerous enough with a +2 sword I didn’t need to pull fancy tricks. Boy was I wrong.
We were running out of time so I let the players get the loot and scamper back to town. There were so many trade goods that many of the PCs leveled and even some of the hirelings hit level 2 (a first!).
Among the Ranshin’s goods was a letter written in a language they couldn’t read. On the way back to town, Kanen-Tal beseeched Talia to grant him understanding of what the letter said. As the writing twisted and changed into something he could read, it’s dark meaning became clear. Ranshin wasn’t acting alone. In fact, he was nothing more than a distraction for an ally named Otho who was uncovering a ‘weapon’ in the ruins of Dalagar that could be used against the Empire of Old Valas. It was signed ‘By the will of the Undying’. This Otho person appears to have located the resting place of the weapon and will need a few weeks to uncover it. It even implied a vague link with the Caves of Chaos in the east and a ‘Wyrm’ that may be allying with forces Otho and Ranshin both serve.
The party agrees that this is ‘not good’ <tm> but they haven’t figured out yet what to do, or even where Dalagar is (though they’ve already been there twice…).
This session got a bit rushed, unfortunately, and if I had a chance to do it again, I’d do a few things differently. But hey ho. It’s all a learning process, right?
There were 16 characters in play in this session… 5 PCs and 11 NPCs. The Hireling explosion may be becoming a bit of a problem. I’ll probably have to throw a fireball at the group or something to thin the herd.