Not a lot happened in this session. The pcs had a lot of ‘accounting work’ to do (the only downside of ACKS; (B/X really) ruthless attention to detail when it comes to money). How much in the bank, what supplies do they need, etc. There was a lot of back and forth over what direction they should go in. They had the letter that pointed to a larger, dangerous conspiracy, but in a solo session, Rage Claw and Lilith discovered (by using Speak with Animals to talk to a giant rat) a goblin lair that needed to be cleaned out. It took a lot of debate before they finally settled on what to do.
They took the letter to Decius, the Captain of the Guard in Threshold. Sadly, it is written in Old Valasian, or High Valasian, something only a handful of scholars and wizards can read. While they told him what it said, and he curious about more details, he made it clear that he couldn’t act on what they told him, or what their magic claimed it said (only Kanen-Tal could read it thanks to Talia’s grace…i.e. her Read Languages spell, but that spell is Self Only). Decius would have to send it west to one of the larger cities for a translation and that could take weeks. He practically winked when he said, “My hands are tied. We’ll be slow to act on this, if there is anything to act on. But if there is any more evidence that can be gathered and brought to my attention, I would certainly reward the people who did so. I need to take the original, but,” and he pushed a piece of vellum and an ink pot across the table, “I also need to check some records…outside.” So he walked out of his office and gave them the time they needed to make a quick copy of the letter. When he returned, he sealed the original up and handed it to a group of soldiers to carry west.
So, feeling that this was a bit more pressing, the party decided to head back to Restwell since Velleriand seemed to be the closest to a Sage that they had encountered so far. When they arrived, he was glad to see them but sad that Kenan-Tal was not present (the player didn’t show). He told them that things were dire for the Keep. More and more men had been lost in raids and farmsteads were under attack. It was hard keeping the land around the keep defended. The forces of Chaos were on the rise. When they showed him the letter, he told them that Dalagar was, in his opinion, the ruined city they uncovered. He also told them that a group of ‘dark aspected’ people had rolled into the keep for a few days, bought a bunch of supplies and headed north (in the direction of the ruins). He couldn’t be certain that they were in fact the group from the letter, but he suspected they might be related somehow.
The pcs bought more travel gear, decided to hire mercenaries to defend their camp once they established one and then headed north. Only the first day ended up with a random encounter, and I rolled ‘adventurers’. So I decided that they encountered a group heading south from the ruins and were heading back to the keep. They were obviously severely roughed up, with dented armor and bandages, carrying a few members of their party. They had heard about a series of ruins and they decided to investigate but they got jumped by undead and on their way out of a crypt, they got attacked by some bandits or soldiers waiting outside. The players were very glad they hired the mercenaries.
I decided that Xanthus’ group is the one that found the ruins originally. By selling the goods to the corrupt fences in Threshold, rumors spread which drew the attention of…other forces shall we say… and also the occasional group of adventurers have heard of it as well thanks to the fences.
Lysander uncovered evidence of the previous adventurers camp and saw that someone or something had attempted to clean it up. Lysander has been doing a good job as a party ranger even though he’s ‘just’ a fighter. I love ACKS proficiencies. 😉
They saw the group had left and headed north across the necropolis towards the cliff face. Lysander, Argon, and Telissa (a barbarian and thief that had joined Arakhe), scouted ahead and discovered a river and a cave system on the edge of the cliff. Inside the caves they could see a camp and a few men in dark clothing on lookout, who did not seem to notice the stealthy group.
After some discussion, the party decided to jump the three guys, using their various archers (including the mercs), heading across the river to attack from ambush. Rage Claw shucked his armor and swam up the river and prepared to leap out of the water once the arrows flew. Unfortunately for him, the men were dead by the time he burst out of the water. Raiding the camp, they couldn’t figure out who they were or where they’d come from. They did find a chest and Telissa checked it out for traps. She missed the poison needle and just saved versus the poison (failing that would have made it Arakhe’s second dead hireling!).
So, the party sent their group to establish a camp, hidden amongst the graves of the mausoleum. This may not be the best plan… hiding amongst the graves in a sinkhole of evil. If the party isn’t back by nightfall, these 0-level mercs may be fighting off a hoard of zombies or ghouls.
They moved into the cave to a short tunnel and then found a rickety bridge. Across the other side, was a vast cavern with a strange construction on the side of an underground lake. There were three ruined towers built into the side of the rock and a rotting barge tipped on its side in the water. Based on the skeleton and the bier, they guessed it was a funeral barge.
Rage Claw ditched his armor and dove into the water, to search the barge. He found a couple of giant lampreys but quickly ate them. He discovered a chest of grave goods and brought it up to the dry members of the party. He decided to take a swim down the southern river to see if he saw anything.
Now, the funny thing about this is that, if you go down the river, something ‘normal’ characters wouldn’t do, there is a tributary off the river that leads directly to the ‘boss’ of the Lichway. I was really wondering what would happen if he want all the way and tangled with Otho by himself.
So, he found a bridge over the tributary that led to two dead ends (secret doors he didn’t find) but continued to a pool and lit room. Unluckily for him, Otho was smoking black lotus and heard his approach. In the module she has a couple of aquatic creatures charmed. I changed them to slightly tougher monsters (by accident) that are essentially deep ones from Lovecraft. And I doubled the number (basically, the module is written for 1st level characters, so I’ve had to upgrade not only the challenges but also the treasure).
Anyway, she snapped her finger and pointed towards the swimming Nar. They approached with spears and began trying to subdue the invader. She threw a Charm Person, but he made his saving throw (lucky, lucky). Rage Claw ripped one of them up but failed to kill it, while retreating back up the tributary. He lucked out and got out of line of sight of the magician, but her minions pulled back.
He really wanted to kill at least one of them, but decided he couldn’t take all four so turned around and fled back to the river where we called the game.
Now, the interesting thing about this would have been if he’d successfully taken on Otho because it would have totally short circuited the module, which would have been funny. Equally, had she charmed him, that would have been very interesting as well. What he doesn’t know is that, very luckily for them, the dungeon complex keeps getting attacked by lizard men, so as far as she knows, this was just another lizard man. So the party doesn’t know this, but their cover hasn’t been blown just yet.