Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 13

[The Revengers trod well used ground, but lived up to their group name in the end!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Lothair Foxflight – male human Explorer, 2nd level
Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot, still 1st level
Boris the Fighter – male human Fighter, 3rd level
Duncan the Lunkan – male human Cleric, looking for some loot and to make a name for himself…but mostly the loot
Jaxby – male-ish Elven Spellsword [yes, another one], also 1st level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]

[Daphne’s player was out of town and so she was not active]

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called ‘Len


Moonday, May 27th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Revengers met up with Dergos [the hired guide] and ‘Len [the hired torchbearer] at the Mercenary Guild building before heading south into the Barrowmoor.  While marching through the moor, they came upon an insect swarm feasting upon something.  Lothair made use of his ability to evade wilderness encounters and led the group around the area.

Having had success down in the Barrowmaze itself last time, the Revengers decided to explore it further.  They entered Barrow 12 [the large one with the cairns leading up to it].  They made use of the rope dangling from the rusted tripod in the barrow to climb down into the first room of the Barrowmaze.  After assembling in a marching order, they walked down the hallway to the first door on the right and opened the door.  The room had a number of giant ants picking over the corpses of the giant rats the adventurers killed their a couple days ago.  Not liking the look of the situation, they closed the door and went down to the next room, which paralleled this one.

This room was empty last time, so they were not expecting the three steel skeletons loitering in the room.  Not certain what they were facing, Boris and Lothair attacked the steel skeleton nearest the door.  Despite Boris hitting with a heavy blow and Lothair doing maximum damage with his bow, the steel skeleton took no damage from the attacks.  Tunrock stepped in front of Lothair and attacked with his enchanted sword, which damaged the steel skeleton, but the steel skeleton could obviously take a lot more.  The steel skeleton returned the attack on Tunrock, hitting twice, but for nearly minimal damage [4 damage on 2d8], which still nearly killed Tunrock [still 1st level and only 5 hit points].  Jaxby immediately started retreating with the rest of the group performing a mix of fighting withdrawals and full retreats.  Tunrock handed over his sword to Boris so Boris could damage the steel skeletons during the retreat.

The group retreated to the rope to the surface.  Jaxby made it up first, quickly followed by ‘Len.  Jaxby assisted Duncan up next by hauling on the rope as Duncan was a very poor climber.  Jaxby then dropped the rope back into the room for the others to use.  Boris made it 15 feet up the rope, with Lothair below him, and Tunrock on the floor having to make a tough decision.  The steel skeletons were slow, but would make it to the base of the rope before Jaxby and Duncan could start hauling it up.  If Tunrock waited at the rope, the steel skeletons would surely kill him.  So Tunrock ran to the back corner of the 30x30 room and hoped for the best.

The steel skeletons arrived and made for the rope.  One of them reached up and attacked Lothair on the rope, severely wounding him [down to 0 hit points exactly].  Lothair struggled to remain conscious from the blood loss and cling to the rope, but passed out and fell back to the floor just as Jaxby hauled the rope up out of the reach of the steel skeletons.  [I had Lothair’s player attempt to roll under his Constitution on a d20.  This gave him a target number of 9 – he rolled well above that.]

Desperate to escape, Tunrock had Jaxby throw the rope back down.  He tried to make use of his superior speed and run around the steel skeletons, but mistimed it and one of the steel skeletons was able to rake him with one of its claws, dropping him.  Jaxby pulled the rope up when he saw this to keep the steel skeletons from pursuing any further.  Boris tossed a flask of military oil onto the steel skeletons to see if there was any effect.  There wasn’t.

Heavily demoralized and understrength, the surviving members of the Revengers headed back to Helix early.  On their way back to town they came across two “normal” skeletons.  Boris vented all of his anger and frustration on them, shattering them into bone shards [he did 30+ points of damage to each, rolling two natural 20s in a row].

Magusday, May 29th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The remaining Revengers spent two days recruiting and healing up from the encounter with the steel skeletons. They checked who was drinking in the Brazen Strumpet and might be an adventurer, interviewing any likely candidates.  They were able to recruit Godric, a Dwarven Craft-catechist recently arrived to Helix, and Dr. Venom West, a Footpad of some [questionable] refinement.  Jaxby also contracted a porter named Colemore to haul his medicinal herbs and spare gear.

Cromsday, May 30th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The newly reconstituted Revengers met up with their hirelings at the Mercenary Guild building and then headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Several hours in, the Revengers ran across a new group of adventurers, the Norse Whisperers.  The Norse Whisperers were a bit lost, but not willing to admit it.  Duncan negotiated a deal where the Norse Whisperers would “protect” the Revengers while the Revengers traveled to the field of barrows while the Revengers led the way.

Once at the field of barrows, the Revengers stated they were going to explore the barrows in a clockwise direction.  The Norse Whisperers immediately declared they were exploring in a widdershins direction, but would meet the Revengers here at 4:00 PM to head back and the Revengers better not be late.  The Revengers as a group rolled their eyes and agreed to this.

The Revengers checked barrows 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, and 7, where they found the sealed bronze door.  They investigated it and found the keyhole hidden in one of the pentagrams on the barrow door.  Dr. West attempted to pick the lock and did well enough that he avoided breaking his picks in the magically locked door.  [I had his player roll his Open Locks skill.  Success indicated he determined the lock was magical in nature but his picks were OK, failure indicated he learned the same thing but broke his lock picks in the process.]

From this barrow they continued checking barrows 6, 13, 15, 14, 22, 23, and then 24.  The stairs down into this previously opened barrow led to a 30x30 square chamber with a door in the near right corner and a tapestry in each of the three other corners.  [The players immediately recognized this room, except Duncan’s player, who was out of town when the TPK happened.]

Godric and Dr. West started searching together for traps or secret doors.  Duncan, ‘Len, and Colemore waited at the stairs while Boris and Jaxby waited in the middle of the room.  When Godric and Dr. West moved the first tapestry [far left corner from the stairs] the discovered two ghouls waiting in an alcove behind the tapestry.  Boris immediately charged, swinging his axe.  He hit the first ghoul and cleaved through it into the second ghoul, downing both.  At the sound of combat, two more ghouls stepped out from behind the tapestry in the far right corner and two ghouls plus a ghoul wardog came out from behind the tapestry in the near right corner.  All five ghouls attacked, but landed few blows in the ensuing combat.  Boris killed most of the ghouls, with Jaxby making up the difference.

After the combat was over, the adventurers realized that most of the ghouls they had just killed were the Motley Crew, risen as ghouls, including Chick-Magnet.  With a certain amount of distaste they looted the corpses of those they sought to revenge.  They noticed that Harkyn’s corpse was nowhere to be found.

By this time it was late in the day, so after resting to catch their breath, they returned to the meeting place.  They found the Norse Whisperers there, angry and with empty pockets.  They too found most of the barrows they explored empty and with no treasure.  The Revengers wisely kept the amount of gold they retrieved from the corpses of the Motley Crew to themselves, merely stating that they killed the ghouls.

End of Session


[This session was a bit slow as halfway through, two of the players had to quickly make new characters.  After that, the group explored previously looted barrows, which covered a lot of ground, but was not very enriching until the last barrow of the day.  They did not get all of the coin the dead Motley Crew had on them, but found most of it.  I rolled d% to randomly determine how much of the coinage was still here and not SPOILER.  They found over 6000 gp total.]

[The players lit up when they realized they were in the barrow where their previous characters all died.  They worked to stay in-character with the new characters but were very excited to be returning to this room again.  The dice were kinder this time and the ghouls did not hit with as great a frequency as the first time.  Having cleave attacks and a 3rd level fighter made a huge difference, even with twice as many ghouls.  The players were very satisfied when the fight completed.  They have also cleared most of the previously explored barrows on the north half of the map and are now ready to open previously unexplored barrows.]

[So Barrowmaze has a mechanism for restocking previously explored dungeon rooms (not the barrows).  Almost every room the characters had previously found empty now has monsters in it, most higher in level than the player characters.  The steel skeletons are 8 hit dice monsters and the party just averages 2nd level now, so that was a very lop-sided fight.  These things happen and the party recognized the danger and fled, like they should have.  If they had just fled (full movement) instead of doing fighting withdrawals (half-move only), I think they would have all escaped, but I cannot fault them for being cautious in their retreat.]

[Next session Quillian with be done with his bedrest and available to adventure again.  It will be interesting to see the roleplay that happens as he returns from Ironguard Motte and introduces himself to the new group of adventurers.]

[I’m also cleaning up the links below so they don’t take up more and more real estate.  I may do a separate navigation page listing just the sessions for The Motley Crew and putting it in a widget on the sidebar.  I’m still thinking that over.]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK


The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 14 [Not yet written]



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 12

[Rise of the Revengers – the player characters get back on the horse that threw them.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Lothair Foxflight – male human Explorer, 2nd level
Daphne – female human Bladedancer, 3rd level
Boris the Fighter – male human Fighter, 3rd level
Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot, still 1st level
Jaxby – male-ish Elven Spellsword [yes, another one], also 1st level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
[Kord is now officially retired as an adventurer]

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called “Len”


Magusday, May 22th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Word spread to Ironguard Motte that the adventuring group The Motley Crew had died at the Barrowmaze.  This caused some level of consternation amongst a few merchants in the small town that had outstanding orders for equipment from members of the group.  One of the armorers, Otto Darkeye, had finally secured a suit of magical armor for Brock and now Brock was dead.  Conveniently, an associate of Brock’s came by, asking for enchanted armor, so Otto sold the armor to him.

Boris and Tunrock [recently working as caravan guards] decided to form a new group together, The Revengers.  They spent a couple days recruiting to fill out the group.

Yggsday, May 25th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
With three additional adventurers added to the group [Lothair, Daphne, and Jaxby], The Revengers walked to Helix.  Arriving in the afternoon, they stopped by the Mercenary Guild.  Osen was very pleased to see Tunrock and [to a lesser extent] Boris.  They hired Dergos, a guide, and Morgullen, a torchbearer.  Those two worthies were told to be ready early in the morning the next day to get started.

Tunrock was able to purchase a new copy of the Barrow field.  The person selling it swore it was “accurate and updated” but wouldn’t give his name.  Seemed as legitimate as the previous map, so Tunrock bought it.  [I modified the previous map so it showed which barrows had been opened and moved a few barrows so their placement was a bit more accurate.]

Sunday, May 26th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Lothair, skilled at moving through the wilds, safely directed the group around a frogling hunting party.

Arriving at the field of barrows, the group decided to enter Barrow 12 and descend into the dungeon below it.  Tunrock knows the way as he has been down there before.  Down in the Barrowmaze itself, the group went down the main passage, stopping at the second intersection to look.  Seeing only more corridor, they decided to back up and check the doors on the right-hand wall.

The first door opened onto a 20x20 room with a large number of hungry giant rats scavenging the debris in the room.  To the hungry giant rats, the adventurers looked like food and so they attacked.  Despite the large number of giant rats, the adventurers quickly put an end to them with cleaving attacks.  [This was supposed to be room 5, but I mis-read the entry and ended up swapping the room contents.]

After killing the giant rats and doing some healing, the adventurers opened the door on the far wall.  This opened to an empty room [Room 20] with a door in each far corner and a passage in the near-left corner.  Looking down the passage, they saw some doors on the left wall and decided to investigate those first.  The first door opened on another 20x20 room, with a door on the far wall that matched up with a door in the main passage.  The next door down opened on a 20x30 room with some conspicuous footprints and graffiti on the wall stating, “Cannot get out!”  This seemed ominous.

Tunrock and Jaxby noticed a secret door further down the hallway, near where the passage ended and opened up on a chamber.  The adventurers looked into this chamber, which turned out to be empty, but had a door on the far wall.  Rather than pushing on any further, they opened the secret door in the hallway and found an L-shaped room with a large number of triangular, empty, burial alcoves in the walls.  There were also two backpacks, partially full of supplies; a sledge hammer; 50’ of rope; a quiver with 4 arrows; and two potions of healing.  The arrows and the potions were the only magic items in the stash and The Revengers helped themselves to them.  Needing to rest, they entered the chamber and pulled the door closed behind them.  They used Tunrock’s sword as their only light source to avoid smoke from the torches.

After their rest, the group left the secret chamber and backtracked a bit to a door on the south wall.  A nearly physical wave of decay-stench rolled over them when they opened the door.  Lothair, Tunrock, and Jaxby immediately started vomiting from the smell.  On the far wall were the corpses of two adventurers pinned to the wall by spears and apparently fed upon.  They appeared to be 2-3 weeks dead.

Boris entered the chamber cautiously, looking for a spear trap of some sort or monsters lurking in the two corners he could not see from the door.  The walls were covered with square burial alcoves, each holding an urn.  Boris checked the corpses and noticed one had a backpack on.  He investigated it and found some handfuls of silver coins and one of gold coins.  Not slowing to count the coins, he transferred them to the loot sack and returned to the doorway where the air was a little cleaner.

The group decided to investigate the alcoves, but started working in teams, one searching, and one with a weapon at the ready in case anything showed up.  After 10 minutes of that, they split up into single people and kept searching.  It took a total of 50 minutes to complete the search.  [They stopped part way for a rest, which is not part of that total.]  They found nothing but ashes and bone shards in any of the urns.

Closing the door to that room behind them, the group backtracked [to Room 20] to check a different door.  Four zombies immediately attacked from the small room on the other side of the door.  Tunrock went down to a zombie attack, but Daphne healed him before as the fight finished.  It was noticed that one of the zombies had an electrum necklace on, and that was taken and added to the loot bag.

On the back wall of that room was another door.  The adventurers opened it [cautiously] and found another small chamber beyond it.  This room had four pedestals, each with a black velvet funerary box atop it.  Tunrock also noticed a secret door in the left corner, but could not determine how to open it.  The adventurers immediately assumed something in one of the boxes let it open.  Boris entered the room and removed the funerary box from the closest pedestal.  This exposed a concealed area containing a lever.  [This was a mistake on my part – the lever was supposed to be in a hidden compartment and I mis-read it as just concealed under the box.  My bad.]

Being thorough, Boris removed the boxes from all four pedestals, finding a level under each one.  He then opened one of the boxes and found bones and a velvet right-handed glove.  He took the glove and checked the other three boxes, finding the same in each.  He took all four gloves, stuck them in a pocket and put the boxes back on the pedestals.  The group was close to a rest break and took it early to talk over what to do next.  They decided to wait on putting on the gloves and on trying any of the levers until the next time they returned.  It was approaching the time they wanted to leave the area, so they backtracked to the surface.

On the way back to Helix, they ran across another group of adventurers heading to the barrows.  The Revengers tried to warn the group [Bertrand’s Brigands] that it was getting late and they should head back.  The Brigands ignored the warnings and continued to the barrows.  The Revengers shrugged and let them go.

Back in Helix, Boris stopped at The Axe and Anvil, the dwarven smithy in Helix and commissioned a magical axe [+1].  Karg, the smith, told him it would take a month to prepare and he required half payment up front.  Boris didn’t quite have that, but Karg took pity on Boris for “the recent loss of your companions” and offered to take 2000 gp now and 3000 gp in a month.  Boris accepted.

End of Session

[The group decided to sell off one of the healing potions as the XP granted by it was just enough for Lothair and Jaxby to level.]

[So I need to re-read the Barrowmaze room descriptions again.  It’s been too long since I did so the first time and I’m missing some of the details.  That said, I’m pleased the adventurers are finally exploring the actual dungeon.  I expect they’ll split time between the barrows and the dungeon for a bit.]

[Something I forgot to mention in my “How I Run the Game” posting – I highlight the areas the PCs have adventured on the maps.  This helps me remember over time where they’ve been and also find the entrances on the giant map of the dungeon itself.  I don’t have a plotter, so I cannot print it out on one sheet, so I’m using the sectional maps.  It is very convenient to have both in the product as the large scale map lets me see how things fit together and the smaller maps let me see the detail.  I’ve been highlighting in yellow, but that seems to be too faint for detail, so I’m going to get either a light blue or light green at Office Depot so I can see it better.]


Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9
Session 10
Session 11

Session 13 [Not yet written]


Friday, July 6, 2018

Barrowmaze – How I Manage the Game

[I received a request on the Barrowmaze FaceBook page asking for a post about how I manage the game.  This is that post.]

Props to the Writers
Barrowmaze has pretty much everything you need to run it.  There is enough setting to get you started, yet self-contained enough you can run it by itself or slot it into an existing campaign world.  I’m running it stand-alone and the amount of heavy lifting I had to do was virtually nil.  Props to Greg Gillespie for writing Barrowmaze and making it as complete as possible.  Mechanisms for digging up covered barrows, how long it takes to break into a barrow, and magic items that fit the theme are all present and up front.  While I might quibble about the order some things are in [side effect of being a professional tech writer], everything you need is there, including things you might not have thought of.

Also, I’d like to thank Omer G. Joel for posting HIS session notes about running Barrowmaze using ACKS.  It inspired me to do the same.  I even lifted his map as a handout because it is useful, attractive, and my drawing skills are nowhere near as good.  Sadly, he stopped posting about his campaign in March with no explanation.  [Although I suspect he is writing material for his publishing company.]

Between Sessions
Barrowmaze has material for restocking cleared sections of the actual dungeon, which will keep players on their toes.  Until Session 12, I only had recourse to this material once, when the PCs entered Barrow 12 and found their first entrance into the actual dungeon and promptly retreated after fighting four skeletons.  As I write this, I have to refresh my memory on this content by re-reading it and implementing it, so I don’t have a lot to say about it yet other than it is nice for it to be there.  Supplying these kinds of mechanisms is why I like Barrowmaze so much.

I also write up my session notes blog post between sessions and set it to post Tuesdays.  I’ll discuss my notes below, so I’ll skip it here.

Setting the Table
I have the ACKS rules in hardcopy and a PDF, which is very handy.  I place flags in the hardcopy for the tables I need to reference often (Monster To-Hit Table, Monster XP, Magic Item Cost, and the surprisingly popular Mortality Table).  I printed packets of the rules for character creation, proficiencies, equipment and hirelings, and the spell lists for the casters.  These are kept handy on the table as there is a surprising amount of rules in those packets that we don’t have memorized.

I don’t use a screen and roll my dice where the players can see the results [Exceptions: monster hit points and checks for wandering monsters, both of which they’ll learn about soon enough].  This keeps me honest and removes the temptation to try and craft the events at the table.

I have a 6x9 notebook that I keep my session notes in.  Each session starts on a fresh, right-hand page with a clear facing page as well [I keep random notes there, time passed, and the party marching order].  At the top of the right-hand page I write the session number and the Real World date.  Underneath that I list the players at the table, starting from my left and going clock-wise around the table.  [This is why the order of the PC list at the top of the blog posts shifts sometimes – the players have adjusted where they’re sitting for various reasons.]  Next to each player name I write the name of the character they are playing that night.  This shifts as PCs die or are laid up with extensive bed rest [as per the results on the Mortality Table].  I also make note of their character level and class so I can do a quick average of levels.  This tells me which encounter tables I need to roll on during the session.

The Session
When the players are at the table [and I’m ready], I’ll ask if anyone has left-over business from the last game session.  I’ll tell them the current in-game date and where they left off.  Usually they are in Helix, but if they needed a casting of Restore Life and Limb, they will still be in Ironguard Motte.  If that is the case, they might donate some coin for additional healing at the Temple of St. Ygg [if they are still down hit points from last session] or do some shopping as I put the only bookshop in the area in Ironguard Motte and it also handles scrolls.  [A surprising number of scholars are also spell casters of some sort, so it was a natural melding of two otherwise marginal businesses.]

If the players are in Helix and need healing, they have several options: Shrine of St. Ygg, a local Physicker, or one of the party members with the Healing proficiency twice [making them a Physicker].  Who they use depends on what they want to spend and how much time they are willing to wait.  We often scroll time a day or so for this.  I note down what days pass [if any] and roughly what the PCs did each day.  The rest is mostly hand-waved as “adventure doesn’t happen in town” – something I picked up running West Marches-style campaigns, which in some ways Barrowmaze is.  This might change if the players make use of the domain rules in ACKS, but for the moment all adventure is out in the moors.

Once the players spend whatever time they want in town [and have stated which NPCs they want to hire], I make note of the current date, tell them, and then read the description of the moors in the Barrowmaze book.  It’s barely a paragraph and I read it with plodding tone to impress the oppressiveness of the moors [and to tell everyone we are officially starting play].  I’ve made some modifications to it based on the fact that the players have led packs of laborers and guards through here, creating a bit of a trail.  Then I check to see what they encounter on the way to the barrows.

There is a bit of art around this.  If we’re running late, I might elide over this so we can get straight to the meat of the session.  I have them roll surprise and then I tell them that they spot [because with keen-eyed elves around, who gets surprised anymore?] whatever I rolled at a distance and see if they want to interact or not.  The players have learned these encounters result in no loot, which is the largest portion of XP in ACKS, so they usually avoid the fight if I give them the chance.

As an aside, I didn’t have stats for Axe Beaks the first time I rolled them [I do now – heh, heh, heh].  The Animated Statues had recently been released and were known to be wandering the moors, so rather than spend time looking for stats I told them they found the pulped remains of giant birds, clearly attacked by the statues.  This kept the statues a current threat and let me pass on the encounter.  With Tunrock being played again [and still carrying the glowing sword from that barrow], I’ll bring the issue with the statues to a head sometime soon and give the players a chance to face the statues on a more even footing.

The Barrowmaze book states that the barrows are a half-day from Helix.  Depending on whether or not they had an encounter and how that went, the adventurers usually arrive between 11:00 AM and Noon [they get an early start to maximize exploration time].  They have developed a standard procedure where they never stay past 4:00 PM, giving them 4-5 hours to explore.  Often this is more than they need.

Once they arrive, I start the clock.  In my notebook, on the left-hand page, I write “Time” and make hash marks to tally time as it passes.  At first I just tallied time normally in groups of 5, but I realized the PCs have to rest every 6th Turn per the rules and adjusted my tally so each row was one hour, meaning a group of 5 marks and then a single mark.  This also made it easier for me to track the number of hours they PCs had been on site.

So searching for traps or secret doors takes a Turn, which gets a tally mark.  If different PCs search for different things at the same time, I only make one tally mark, but this means the group is spread around the room during this time, which they just learned can be fatal.  Combats usually take up a Turn as well, encompassing the time the fighting actually takes and some recovery time to catch their breath.  Smashing the stone slab sealing each barrow takes 2 Turns per the Barrowmaze text [again, very handy to have that spelled out in the text] so two tally marks for that.

[NOTE: This also triggers two extra rolls for wandering monsters, so before I announce the time has passed, I make the rolls.  Early on I had to take back some time because both dice indicated wandering monsters after I had announced they had broken into the barrow.  Important lesson in timing there.]

Once the players have done things for 5 tally marks, I announce they have to rest.  I make this mark in red ink so it is obvious they’ve rested.  The rests also provide a sense of time passing, which helps the verisimilitude, and the players often take the time to discuss what they are doing next.  There have been times the players have checked when the next rest is when contemplating a course of action and taken a rest early if something they were contemplating would be interrupted.  Healing with the Healing proficiency also takes a Turn [as opposed to magic, which is one action].

The players make sketch maps as they explore.  When combat happens, we don’t use miniatures as I try to explain where things are and how things progress.  Fights in doorways sometimes require using dice to show exactly where people are standing relative to each other and the walls.  The groups marching order is a line, so until they say they crowd the doorway, I assume they are still in a line.  Not everyone makes that same assumption, so clarification helps.

While the players are doing things, I make notes hitting the high points.  My notes are mostly to jog my memory later and to record specific values [like treasure found].  Often I list a barrow number and then a sentence or two of what happened and if anyone died.  When the PCs descend into the actual Barrowmaze, I just keep a list of the rooms they go through unless something unusual happens and then I write down some details.  I use abbreviations a lot in my notes.

At some point the PCs decide to leave. Either they have enough loot for the day or [more often] they are running low on hit points and out of healing magic.  The encounter on the way back to town is often a bit more critical, especially when a rival adventuring party pops up, so I usually run this encounter.  ACKS has rules for evading an encounter and sometimes the PCs are successful and sometimes the fight happens anyways.

Wrap Up
Once the players make it back to Helix we deal with healing and whether or not they have to go to Ironguard Motte for a casting [or two] of Restore Life and Limb.  Then I tally loot and monster XP, divide by the number of surviving players, work out the values for +0%, +5%, and +10% [noting who earns which], and then hand out XP.  If characters level, I make note of it.  I can always double-check XP totals if someone forgets whether or not they added XP last session.

If a character died and the body was not retrieved, that player is responsible for having their next character ready by the beginning of the next session.  If anyone is doing things in town, like, say, having a manor house built [cough, Quillian, cough], we’ll discuss that and work out any details between games [or at the beginning of the next session].

Writing Up the Session Notes
So a couple days later I sit down with my sketchy notes and my semi-reliable memory to type up the blog posts.  I reference the room descriptions in Barrowmaze for details and to get the order of things correct.  I put things into a simplified narrative, explaining things caused by the dice or the rules where necessary as asides.  There may be a little embroidery here and there to make the story flow, but pretty much everything in the session notes actually happened.

While I use the Real World calendar for the dates, I came up with my own day-names.  I would have done my own months as well, but that would have just obscured things.  Using actual month names makes some implications about the weather and when the sun rises and sets.  The year naming based on the name of the king and how long he’s reigned seemed to fit better than an arbitrary number.  That will eventually change by the way, I just haven’t decided exactly when.  I’m sure something the PCs do will suggest a good time for that to happen.



So, Rafael, does that help?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 11

[T.P.K. - Total Party Kill.  Read on to learn more...]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Motley Crew)
“Drake” – male human Assassin, 3rd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 3rd level
Frank the Cleric – male human Cleric of Silvanus, 2nd level
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 3rd level
Samsokn [the “k” is silent] – male Dwarven Craftpriest, 3rd level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
Kord – male human Bard, seeks tales of heroism to tell…and exploring Barrowmaze for the loot

NPCs
Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form
Ackerby – a porter
Karmak – a porter, referred to as “Jeeves”
Wilstap – man-at-arms
Bolix – professional torchbearer


Sunday, May 19th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Still in Ironguard Motte, looking for some magic armor [to no luck], Brock hired a human named Ackerby to be his porter.  Upon hearing about this, Harkyn followed suite, hiring a local named Karmak to carry their locked chest.  Harkyn doesn’t quite understand human culture and calls Karmak “Jeeves” as Harkyn thinks that is the correct name of human servants.

Harkyn also ran into a person they knew from back in more civilized areas of the kingdom, an assassin by trade.  The assassin heard about treasure being taken from the moors and wanted to try his luck.  Harkyn dragged this fellow back to the adventuring group and introduced him as “Drake”.  It is not entirely clear is Drake is his real name, but it is the one he is using now.

The members of The Motley Crew in Ironguard Motte spent the rest of the day walking back to Helix.  Back in Helix, Brock and Harkyn made arrangements with Turken at the general store to store their locked chests in the storeroom.  Turken charges Brock 5gp for storage until September 1st, which is when the adventuring season starts winding down before the rains arrive.  He charges Harkyn 9 gp, mostly because he thinks Brock might die before September and he’ll be able to re-rent the space, whereas Harkyn is a survivor and will make use of the space the entire time.

Harkyn also left word at the Mercenary Guild for Norman and Chick-Magnet to be ready the next day for another trip into the moors.  Samsokn decided to hire a man-at-arms [Wilstap] to support him and hold his extra supply of crossbow bolts.

Moonday, May 20th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The adventurers met up at the Mercenary Guild with their crowd of hirelings just after dawn and headed south, into the Barrowmoor.

A couple hours in, while traveling through an area with trees, a giant python fell out of a tree onto Frank and started constricting him.  Before the python could kill Frank, the rest of the adventurers attacked and killed the python.  Brock and Drake took some time to partially skin the python, taking the head and a five-foot stretch of skin for later use.

As a result of pausing to skin the python, the group arrived at the field of barrows a little after Noon.  The group decided to investigate Barrow 27.  On their map it appeared to need diggers to be uncovered and they wanted to verify that.  Actually at Barrow 27, they found it completely covered in grass and dirt.

Having verified that item on their map, they next walked over to Barrow 26 to explore it.  Frank volunteered for sledgehammer duty and 20 minutes later, the sealing stone was cracked and fell away, exposing a set of stone stairs.  After tossing a torch down the stairs to see if anything attacked it, the group entered the barrow.  They found a rounded 60x60 foot room with demonic murals covering the walls and ceiling.  In the center was a very large bronze brazier, unlit.

After exploring the room and finding nothing else of note, they investigated the brazier more closely.  Despite the brazier containing charcoal, they could not light it.  They even added some of Frank’s military oil to the charcoal to no avail.  Taking some inspiration from the murals, Frank shouted out several choice curse words to no effect [other than shocking a few of the other adventurers].  Not certain what to do, they tied rope to the brazier and hauled it over to the base of the steps.  At this point they needed to take a rest, so they returned to the surface and talked about what to do next.  Ultimately, they decided to go explore a different barrow and return to this barrow later to take the brazier back to Helix to experiment on.  [What could go wrong?]

After their rest, the group walked over to Barrow 25.  Frank once again volunteered for sledgehammer duty and after 20 minutes of hard work, the sealing stone was shattered.  The exposed stairs led down to an octagonal room with four pillars.  Each pillar had gemstones embedded on it, decoratively arranged.  After searching the chamber for traps, they settled down to looting the gems from the pillars, collecting 19 gems [the number per pillar was randomly determined] over 20 minutes.

With gems in the loot bag, they checked the three passages leading out of the room.  Each passage has steps down to a locked door – which they have no ability to pick.  Deciding that the stone walls around the door cannot be any thicker than the sealing stone, they applied the sledgehammer near the hinges and brute forced their way past the door on the left.  This led to another octagonal room lined with burial alcoves.  While looking around, Drake nearly fell into a pit trap in the center of the room.  Unfortunately, his hireling, Bolix, did not catch himself and he fell into the pit and died on the spikes at the bottom.

The group started searching the burial alcoves.  Near the end, Harkyn broke off and climbed down into the pit to retrieve Bolix’s corpse for return to Helix.  After 30 minutes of searching, the group was able to put a good amount of coins and a magic ring into the loot bag.

With loot and a need to return Bolix’s corpse for a proper burial, the group decided to head back to Helix.  On the way back they saw a patrol of lizardmen, but both groups decided to acknowledge each other and go about their business.

Back in Helix, Bolix’s body was turned over to Osen at the Mercenary Guild, explaining what happened.  Samsokn contributed an additional 10 gp to the standard 5 gp Death Benefit the guild provides.  They arrange to hire 10 diggers and five guards for the diggers for the next day.  That night [after selling off the loot], a wake was held for Bolix at the Brazen Strumpet.

[This is where the players got into trouble.  It wasn’t quite stopping time for the evening and some of them were close to leveling, so they decided to go back for “one more barrow”.]

Hernesday, May 21th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
A little hung over, the adventurers picked up the diggers and guards at the Mercenary Guild and headed south.  Near the field of barrows, they ran across a pack of ghouls.  Frank was paralyzed in the first round, with Chick-Magnet, Drake, and Brock getting paralyzed in the second round.  Harkyn and Samsokn were starting to get overwhelmed when the hired guards left the diggers and approached the fight.  The shift in numbers convinced the ghouls to break and run rather than die [again].  Rather than waste time in the moors waiting for the paralysis victims to become mobile, packs were re-apportioned and the paralyzed people were carried.  By the time the group reached the field, most of those paralyzed were moving again.  Frank was the last to recover.

The adventurers walked the diggers over to Barrow 17 and set them to digging with the guards keeping a watch over the diggers.  The adventurers returned to Barrow 25 to finish clearing it.  Using their sledgehammer, they bashed the walls around the two remaining locked doors.  Behind one of those doors was an empty room and behind the other was a partially collapsed room where a gem was seen in the debris.  Brock stepped in and retrieved the gem and verified there was nothing else of worth.

With a minimal return on their trip, the adventurers walked over to Barrow 24.  Brock took a turn on the sledgehammer and broke down the sealing stone.  The group cautiously went down the stairs and found a square room with a door in the near left corner and tapestries hanging in the other three corners.  Frank and Brock went to check the door while Harkyn started a clock-wise search for secret doors, Drake started a counter-clockwise search, and Samsokn and Wilstap observed from the center of the room.

At about the same time, Harkyn and Drake each discovered a ghoul hiding behind the tapestries in the opposite corners.  Drake was instantly paralyzed, but Harkyn, an elf, wasn’t and they cried out in alarm.  This drew all the attention to Harkyn and away from the paralyzed Drake as the fight started.  A third ghoul stepped out from behind the remaining tapestry and rushed at Brock and a very surprised Frank.  Rapidly, Brock and Frank were paralyzed by that ghoul.  Samsokn and Wilstrap made a fighting retreat to the foot of the stairs, fending off the ghoul that had paralyzed Drake.  Chick-Magnet joined them there but was paralyzed after attacking a ghoul.  Harkyn was only able to make it partway across the room as a fighting withdrawal and ended up facing the other two ghouls near the center of the room.  Harkyn killed one of the ghouls, but eventually fell to the onslaught of attacks from the other ghoul.  Samsokn and Wilmar held on a little longer but eventually fell to the claws and fangs of the last two ghouls.

Up on the surface, Norman, Ackerby, and Karmak heard the fight down below.  As the sounds of each adventurer were suddenly cut off, they gathered at the top of the stairs to see what was going on.  They observed the last stand of Samsokn and Wilstrap.  When the ghouls looked up the stairs at them, they fled, running as fast as they could over to Barrow 17.  When they reported all the adventurers had been killed by ghouls, ghouls that might be coming to Barrow 17, the guards and the diggers panicked and fled.

Late that night, Norman led the bedraggled hirelings back to Helix, where they reported the death of the entire Motley Crew to Osen.  Most of the hirelings then went to the Brazen Strumpet and spent their pay getting very drunk.

End of Session

[So – TPK.  There was discussion afterwards about what happened.  Harkyn and Samsokn’s players felt that they should have fled instead of doing a fighting withdrawal, but it was very difficult to make that decision with the other PCs paralyzed but still alive.  They knew if they fled, the other PCs would become ghoul food and rise as ghouls later.  And for a moment, it looked like maybe they could win the fight and rescue everyone.  Unfortunately, Samsokn’s dice hated him and he only hit once out of six tries.  Harkyn’s dice rolled just under what was necessary to kill a second ghoul and the ghouls rolled well at the end.]

[I decided that the treasure from the evening’s first expedition would count as money spent to no benefit, so those making new characters would start at 3400 XP – it was a good haul as the magic ring was a +2 ring of protection.  There was some gnashing of teeth when they learned how much XP they had just lost and the leveling they could have done instead of making new characters, but they thanked me for the XP for their new characters.]



Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9
Session 10


Session 12

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 10

[This session happened last week and led to a permanent death.  It could have been taken as an omen…]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Motley Crew)
Samsokn [the “k” is silent] – male Dwarven Craftpriest, 3rd level
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, 3rd level
Frank the Cleric – male human Cleric of Silvanus, 2nd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 3rd level
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 3rd level
Shal the Runt – male Cleric of Silvanus, heard Silvanus was making a stand against St. Ygg and there was loot to be had in the Barrowmoor

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
Kord – male human Bard, seeks tales of heroism to tell…and exploring Barrowmaze for the loot

NPCs
Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form
Peldar and Nollan – professional torchbearers


Magusday, May 15th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
With some members of The Motley Crew still injured and much of the group in Ironguard Motte, a day of rest was taken.  Samsokn casts a very weak cure light wounds spell on Harkyn [rolled a “1” for effect], so they went to the Temple of St. Ygg to get the rest of the way healed, making two donations of 10 gp to cover it.

Radagast inquired at the arcane bookshop in town, looking for new spells for his greater understanding of magic [read: he needs 2nd level spells now that he can cast them].  The shop had two scrolls of appropriate power: detect evil and detect invisible.  As neither was what Radagast wanted [he was looking for invisibility or knock], the shopkeeper, Antinko the Seeker, offered to seek out the spells and get back to Radagast when they were located.  For a small deposit, of course.  Radagast agreed to this plan.

Starting to get encumbered by the coinage he was carrying, Brock purchased a chest and a good lock to put on it.  His plan was to store the chest at Quillian’s place [once it was built] as a safe storage location.  When Harkyn observed Brock’s chest, they decided to do the same and purchased their own chest and lock.

Cromsday, May 16th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group of adventurers spent most of the day hiking back to Helix along with a few other travelers.  In Helix, Brock and Harkyn asked Quillian where they could set their chests to be safe.  Quillian rebuffed them, stating his manor was for himself and other practitioners of the arcane arts, not free-loaders.  As a result, Harkyn and Brock rented shelf space in the storage room at Turgen’s Trade Goods, paying 1sp per day, paying for nine days in advance.

Arrangements were made with Osen at the Mercenary Guild to re-hire Norman, Chick-Magnet, and the torchbearers, Peldar and Nollan.  All are told to meet at the Mercenary Guild building shortly after sun-up to get started.

Freysday, May 17th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Early in the morning the group assembled and headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Part way to the field of barrows, a single, large pteranodon was noticed circling the group.  The adventurers made ready as the pteranodon dove at them.  The pteranodon took large bites out of several adventurers, but was eventually driven off by combined bow fire and Radagast’s magic missile spells.  [This would be important later.]

Once at the field of barrows, the adventurers decide to investigate barrow #28.  Brock spent 20 minutes hammering the sealing stone to rubble.  With the barrow open, the group descended into the single chamber underneath.  In the center of the chamber was a stone lectern with a yellow book covered in arcane markings.  The walls were covered in frescoes depicting what Radagast identified as the mage Azcuursh the Arcane.  By reputation Azcuursh was known to be an evil wizard with a mastery of the Dark Arts.  The book was clearly magical, so Radagast was careful about opening the book.

He immediately disappeared when he did so and the book snapped shut.

This pushed the rest of the adventurers back on their heels.  Brock touched the book and attempted to open it, but nothing happened and the book would not open.  Harkyn tried next and also disappeared.  The rest of the adventurers attempted to open the book in rapid succession, but nothing happened to them.

Then they had to wait [while I took Radagast’s and Harkyn’s players to another room].

Radagast appeared in an extradimensional space where he was confronted by a grey-skinned and eye-less simulacrum of Azcuursh, who attacked him.  It quickly became apparent that the simulacrum only had the spells Radagast would have…if he wasn’t out of magic for the day.  The simulacrum cast magic missile twice, which Radagast could only answer with his dagger.  The simulacrum quickly finished off Radagast with a throwing dart.

Just as Radagast fell in combat, Harkyn appeared.  While Harkyn was an arcane spellcaster of sorts, the only spell they knew was shield, which they immediately cast upon themselves.  This meant the only spell the simulacrum also had was shield and it cast that spell.  Over the next 20-30 minutes [I lost track of how long the fight actually took], Harkyn and the simulacrum waved their weapons at each other, mostly ineffectively.  They gradually wore each other down, with Harkyn striking the deathblow first, destroying the simulacrum.  Harkyn reappeared back in the barrow where the other adventurers were waiting.  Radagast’s body never returned.  [Nor did all the magic items on his person.]

Harkyn was now able to access the spellbook.  It contained the formulae for every second level spell, including invisibility and knock, the spells Radagast had been searching for.  Disheartened, the adventurers packed up and returned to Helix.  On the way back, they spotted a troop of giant ants, but decided to avoid them.  They returned to Helix before the sun set and held a wake at the Brazen Strumpet for Radagast.

Yggsday, May 18th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The majority of the adventurers spent the day traveling to Ironguard Motte, where they sold Azcuursh’s spellbook for a very tidy profit.

End of Session


[This was a relatively short session, due to me wanting to get to sleep at a reasonable time.  The project I was on had me getting up at 5:30 AM, so staying up late on a Monday night was kicking me hard.  With the book of spells, the group felt they had enough loot that most of them would level and they did NOT want to push it.]

[They’d forget that lesson in the next session…]


Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9


Session 11


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 9

[With two characters out for recovery, The Motley Crew skews heavily cleric this week.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Motley Crew)
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 3rd level
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, 2nd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 3rd level
Frank the Cleric – male human Cleric of Silvanus, 2nd level
Samsokn [the “k” is silent] – male Dwarven Craftpriest, 2nd level
Shal the Runt – male Cleric of Silvanus, heard Silvanus was making a stand against St. Ygg and there was loot to be had in the Barrowmoor

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
Kord – male human Bard, seeks tales of heroism to tell…and exploring Barrowmaze for the loot

NPCs
Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form
Peldar and Nollan – professional torchbearers


Sunday, May 12th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
A quiet day for most of The Motley Crew.  Brock traveled back to Helix from Ironguard Motte, easily making the acquaintance of a craftpriest [Solomokn] and a cleric of Silvanus [Shal the Runt] heading to Helix to make their fortunes.

In Helix itself, Radagast finished healing up from his wounds and let the rest of the Crew know he was available to travel.  Harkyn requested two potions of cure light wounds from the Shrine of St. Ygg, but was told to come back in the morning for them.  As this coincided when the group was heading back to the Barrows, they agreed to do so.

Arrangements were made with the Osen at the Mercenary Guild for hiring Norman, Chick-Magnet, and the two torchbearers, Peldar and Nollan.  All were told to assemble at the Guild just after dawn.

Moonday, May 13th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Harkyn stopped at the temple of St. Ygg to pick up their 2 healing potions and they placed an order for a third, to be picked up later.

The trip through the Barrowmoor was uneventful [not really, but they didn’t learn that until later].  The Crew decided to take another look at Barrow #7.  They found the brass door with the symbol of Nergal on it.  Taking the time to carefully examine it, Brock noticed one of the pentagrams is actually a keyhole.  Harkyn put wax in it in an attempt to learn something about the key and ended up plugging the keyhole with wax.

Still blocked at Barrow #7, the Crew went over to Barrow #15 to break in.  Twenty minutes of hard work with a sledge hammer later, Brock shattered the sealing stone and opened the barrow.  Frank lit a torch and handed it over to Brock to throw in.  Brock tossed it in and it landed short, on the stairs.  This turned out to be a good thing, as the chambers under the barrow were flooded knee high with black water.  The group cautiously went down the stairs, keeping a wary eye on the ceiling.  Norman stayed on the surface, acting as a lookout.

The main chamber was circular, approximately 50 feet across, with a rusty portcullis on the left and right walls.  Not detecting any traps or hostile entities, the group entered the flooded chamber, Chick-Magnet staying at the stairs as the water was very deep for him.  As Brock approached the portcullis on the right, he detected movement and heard low moaning.  Suddenly a group of zombies appeared at the rusty portcullis, straining to get through to the adventurers.

The zombies broke through the decrepit portcullis, but were immediately turned by Frank.  The zombies fled back into the chamber they came from.  The group moved out into the center of the main chamber and peppered the zombies with bow fire and a little melee combat from Brock, Frank, and Harkyn.

With the immediate threat dealt with, the group split up to search the zombie room and the main chamber.  Harkyn located a secret door in the main chamber, directly across from the stairs to the surface.  The zombie room was a dead end with nothing of interest.  Looking through the remaining portcullis, the adventurers could see two sarcophagi whose tops just cleared the surface of the water.  After a quick consultation, the adventurers decided to check out the two sarcophagi first, then whatever was behind the secret door.

Brock used the sledge hammer to knock down the extremely rusted portcullis and entered the chamber.  Hoping the contents of the sarcophagi were protected from the water, the adventurers were careful to avoid making waves in the water while lifting the lids.  Unfortunately, the interiors were both flooded and the books and scrolls inside were water-logged lumps of pulp.  One scroll tube was floating in the water, which suggested it was still sealed, so it went into the loot bag for later review.

The group then sloshed over to the secret door.  Harkyn opened it and found a small chamber with single shelf on the back wall.  On the shelf was a urn with ash remains and a locked metal box.  The urn was not particularly valuable, but the box was promising.  The group returned to the surface to rest and for better light to examine the box under.  Radagast opened the scroll tube during the rest and found a scroll of Protection against Elementals (Fire), a valuable find.  [This spell does not exist in the ACKS system so I had to look it up and adjudicated it to be a 3rd level spell loot-wise.]

After resting, Brock examined the box and declared it safe to open.  He opened it and was pricked by a poison needle concealed in the opening mechanism.  The virulent poison made quick work of Brock and almost immediately dropped to the ground, twitching and foaming at the mouth.  Within seconds, he was dead.  [Brock rolled very low on both his Detect Trap and Poison save rolls.]  On the plus side, the box was open and the pristine gauntlets inside were certainly magic, but the cost was Brock’s life.

Now with Chick-Magnet as their only warrior, the group decided that returning to town was the best option.  They bundled up Brock’s body and gear for travel and headed back north, towards Helix.

Shortly after leaving the field of barrows, they were surrounded by Renata’s Raiders, whose leader called out, “Stand and deliver!”  There were 20 bandits plus their leader, Renata, and one of her lieutenants, and they completely surrounded the adventurers.  The adventurers didn’t like it and didn’t want to, but it looked like they were going to have to hand over their loot.  One of the bandits approached to receive the loot while the rest of the bandits waited with their weapons at the ready.  Frank handed over the box first.  The bandit scratched himself with the poisoned needle and almost immediately fell to the ground, spasming and foaming at the mouth.  All eyes were now on Frank…

…except Harkyn’s, whose elven boots allowed them to silently step away and outside the circle of bandits suddenly focused on Frank.  Harkyn then silently made their way around the outside of the bandit circle, using the swamp plants for cover.  At the same time, Chick-Magnet played up being a friendly dog and trotted over to some of the bandit archers, tongue lolling to one side and tail wagging.

In the center of the bandit’s attention, Frank tried to calm things down, but his loud voice and sudden movements only spooked the bandits and five of the crossbowmen fired.  Two hit Frank for little damage, one missed clearly, one planted a bolt between the feet of a fellow bandit on the opposite side of the circle, and one accidentally killed a fellow bandit!  This was not, apparently, a unique occurrence and the bandit whose feet were nearly hit charged at the crossbowman, swinging his broadsword and yelling, “That’s the last time!”  Renata moved over to try and stop the fight, but failed to and the swordsman killed the crossbowman.

Then Harkyn struck at Renata with a backstab attack.

The adventurers, waiting for a sign to attack, took this at the sign and started attacking the bandits.  Chaos ensued.

Chick-Magnet switched from “friendly dog” to “bloody-muzzled terror" in a flash as he leapt on one of the bandits and tore the bandits throat out.  Chick-Magnet then looked at the next bandit and clearly said, “You’re next,” which spooked the bandits badly.  Radagast cast magic missile, which drew attention but no successful crossbow fire.  Harkyn got a second attack on Renata before Renata could react, but despite solid hits, Renata was too tough to fall.  Renata tried to return the favor to Harkyn, but failed.

After less than a minute of furious combat, half the bandits were down and Renata was down to half her own hit points.  Realizing that there was a good chance the adventurers might win or kill so many bandits her victory would be pyrrhic, she fled.  Her lieutenant took the hint and did the same.  The remaining bandits, willing a moment ago to fight to the death, saw their leadership flee and did the same.

By accident and luck, the adventurers had driven off the bandits.

The adventurers stripped the bodies of their weapons and shields [the remaining armor was damaged or otherwise unsellable].  The fight provided the adventurers a bump in loot, but also earned them a measure of enmity from Renata.

Hernesday, May 14th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group traveled to Ironguard Motte to get restore life and limb cast on Brock.  Brock returned hungry and can no longer quite satisfy his hungers [“Bottomless hungers” on the Tampering with Mortality table].

End of Session


[So on the way to the Barrowmaze, I rolled “Rival Adventurers” on the encounter table.  Looking at the list of rivals, I decided that the Boon Companions were still recovering in Bogtown.  Next on the list was Renata’s Robbers, a group of bandits.  They normally operate in the Blackened Forest, but the players were very successful at bringing back loot from the barrows and word had spread, so I decided that the Robbers were following the adventurers and would not ambush them until after they extracted loot from the barrows.  On the way back to Helix, I rolled again to see if there would be a complicating incident and again rolled “Rival Adventurers”, so clearly this fight was going to happen.  I was fairly certain the adventurers were going to get robbed and later track down the Robbers for revenge.  Then Harkyn’s player asked if she could step away using her elven boots and Frank’s player had Frank hand over the box with the poison needle.  A couple fortuitous rolls later and the adventurers were starting to get the upper hand.  Renata is smart, so she bolted when victory started looking way too expensive.  Next time, however…]

[At the beginning of the session, the players debated waiting two weeks for Kord and Quillian to recover.  They eventually decided not to, so another round of backup characters stepped forward, Solomokn for Kord, and Shal the Runt for Quillian.  I decided to require Solomokn have a “k” in his name somewhere, being a dwarf, and his player put it before the “n”, like in “know”.  Having to type his name several times now, I’m starting to regret this decision…]



Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8


Session 10