Sunday, September 11, 2016

In which there is tragedy and loss.

6637/5/6 to 6637/5/27

Before the Bardbarian tour packed up and headed to Wallace, Rid decided to scout out the area; he picked up a bunch of rare books for a pretty good deal, and found a very smart baby ape to train, and a giant shrew to add to his menagerie. Being able to speak with shrews and other animals makes training much easier for gnomes. Rig’s player was also excited to learn that the internet has shrew miniatures, but added forebodingly: “Tragically, I believe that Murphy's Law states that any time you purchase over ten dollars worth of Armored Battle Shrews, the party will experience a TPK before they arrive in the mail.”

Additionally, two more elves joined the party: an elvish enchanter name James Morthor (and his daughter, Alice, who is only 9), and an elvish polydoctorate, Larma Paphyra. That puts the party at:

  • Rig Bigny, Gnomish Beastmaster
    • Flit, the bat Flappy Shriek-Badger bat familiar
    • Shrew Dobbs, the Shrew Twitchy Screaming Grass-Badger
    • Clench, the Wardog War-Badger
  • Loronthir, Human Leader of Men
    • Rhea Trueheart, Elvish Nightblade
    • Luce Burwood, Human Fighter
  • Gróin of Norston, Dwarven Sapper
  • James Morthor, Elvish Enchanter
    • Doggan, Micro-Sized Dragon familiar
  • Larma Paphyra, Elvish Polydoctorate

And so, on to the adventure. Not much happened as they traveled to Wallace; they did a bit of shopping around for quick jobs, and Loronthir managed to find someone who would pay for an armed escort to Forreston. Easy enough; it was on the way. He also learned (and shared with the others) of a rumor about one of the Seven Great Scales - a great shining crystalline scale, possibly more powerful than any of the other scales. A lot of it was repeated stories, but there is at least some truth to them. He passed on helping find a missing young man for a measly 5 silver, though. Meanwhile, Rig stuck around to listen; a man burst in, claiming to have been attacked by a dragon, but was laughed off by the guards - no dragon around the wall, or they would know. He was most likely a con artist, trying to sell some dragon head or something. Rig did hear about some recent goblin activity, however.

Early the next morning, the Bardbarian tour bus wagons set off through the wall. It took most of the morning just to clear it; outside, everyone looked in wonder at the huge prairie stretching out in front of them. They spotted an airwalker, a strange man who could walk on air as if it were solid ground, and were again warned of some goblin activity. The first few days went by peacefully enough, but on the 16th, they ran into three crab spiders; a sleep spell put them down right away, and Rig dragged them into a wagon to (hopefully) harvest some poison. Morthor’s dragon climbed into the spider hole (a very dangerous move; if there were any spiders inside, that dragon would have been eaten in a second!), and dragged out 50 gp and a small jaster stone, also worth 50 gp.

They continued on, eventually running into a tiny town named Brindleton; as it happened to be the rest day for the horses, they wandered over to see what all was there. As it happens, the town consisted of 5 families: 4 farmers, and the sheriff, who also was head of the thieves’s guild. As it happens, Larma’s sharp eyes discovered that he was whittling a paintbrush. He nodded sagely; with such a small town, there wasn’t much in the way of hijinks, and seein’ as he was the sheriff, the innkeeper, and the general store manager, that didn’t leave a lot of time for such business: “As it happens, th’ first week, I steal somethin’. The second week, I fence what I stole. The third week - that’s tomorrow, by th’ way - I go carousin’, an’ usually end up drunk as a skunk, an’ paint somethin’ slightly rude on someone’s barn. Th’ fifth week, there’s a hangin’. Usually th’ farmer’s scarecrow, unless someone’s in jail. Oh, and the fourth week is bathin’ week, so I go watch. That’s about it.”

The sheriff was sure his town would grow quickly; it was a mining town, and while there were no miners yet, they’d show up in the next few weeks or so, you’ll see. Oh, and there were no taverns; everyone knows you don’t serve alcohol to miners. As an added caution, the sheriff warned of an orc band in the area - the Karak tribe, who had banners with reddish-brown hand-prints in all four corners.

Bemused, the party decided to leave the strange city be, and returned to the wagons.

Two nights later, they encountered a pit viper; Rig, able to speak snake, was able to talk with the creature, but was unable to bring it on as a henchman, for which he was terribly saddened. The snake mentioned there were lots of “ssstompy creaturesss” about; likely orcs or goblins. It left them in peace, slightly richer for XP, but not henchcritters.

Only two days from Forreston, the party ran into 7 giant tiger beetles. Initially hopeful, they soon realized this battle would not be the walk in the park the other meetings turned out to be. With the Bardbarians back in the wagons, the group crept up on the critters and surprised them with Sleep - managing to take out 3 of them. The other four charged the group. The battle teetered on a knife edge, with the dwarven sapper’s spell doing some hefty damage, but the heavily-armored beetles doing a lot of damage when they hit. First to drop was Luce, to exactly 0 hit points; next was the poor shrew, knocked down to -100% hit points. Those beetles hit hard! The party managed to kill one of the beetles, then another, before the remaining two insects dropped Gróin and Larma (to negative ½ XP)! The poor war-badger took two hits, but didn’t go down; through the combined efforts of gnome, human, and elf, the last of the bugs were finally squashed. The party members left standing slaughtered the sleeping beetles with extreme prejudice.

Final death tally was seven dead beetles, and one poor shrieking grass-badger reduced to a bloody smear in the road. Luckily, Morthor’s dragon had the healing proficiency, and patched people up as they fell, which kept the elf and dwarf alive. Gróin lost an eye, and needs a full week of bedrest; Larma lost an ear, and needs two weeks of bedrest; and Luce, as it turns out, is not short for Lucius, but Lucille! Unfortunately, this was discovered because of the gruesome damage to her genitals... she needs a week’s rest, as well.

Thankfully, they were all healed up enough to travel the last two days to Forreston by the Bardbarian backup singer, a bladedancer. Just before reaching the city, they saw seven hippogriffs wheeling overhead; thankfully, they didn’t seem hungry, or it would have been a party wipe for sure. The party noted the location (48,23), already planning on spending the money they’ll make looting hippogriff eggs.

Once they reached Forreston, they told Diamond John that they would be leaving him there; half the party was on bedrest for a week, while the layover in Forreston was only for three days. The bard was understanding, and paid them for their time worked; hopefully, he’ll find someone else to guard the wagons. Either way, though, he's in town for three days for a massive Summerfest party.

In Summary:

  • Deaths/Injuries:
    • Luce: a woman! and genitals mangled (-3 to reaction checks if known); week's rest.
    • Dobbs the Shrew: dead! :-(
    • Gróin: lost an eye (-2 to ranged attacks); week’s rest
    • Larma: ear lost (-2 to surprise and hear noises); 2 weeks’ rest
  • Killed: 3 crab spiders (38 XP each), 7 beetles (65 XP each)
  • Parlayed: 1 pit viper (38 XP)
  • Avoided: 7 hippogriffs (no XP)
  • Treasure: 100 gp (after selling the jasper)
  • Total XP: 707 XP
  • Per PC: 109 XP, 16 gp
  • Per Henchman: 54 XP, 10 gp

GM Notes:

That last fight was brutal! The beetles were not hitting very often, but almost every hit was an insta-kill; too many soft-and-squishy d4 hit dice. Even tough Luce was taken down. And Rig’s player’s dire warning may not have come true from a TPK, but the shrew certainly died. The players were very gung-ho going into the battle, swaggering in with much bravado, but halfway through when the shrew and their best fighter were down, no one was hitting anything, and the beetles were going for the casters, it was a much different tune. It probably wouldn't have been a TPK, but there may well have been some actual deaths. What fun!

Also, I'm pleased that Luce's true identity has been revealed, and that the town of Brindleton was discovered. It's always nice when fun bits like that are uncovered; it reassures me that planning stuff like that isn't in vain. And, they group is in Forreston, a place full of bandits, thieves, and all sorts of magical creatures - much less peaceful than just about anything in the land of Mareten!

Last but not least, XP: players will get XP from gold, 1 point per gp; from battles, or from resolving battles without fighting, per creatures; but no XP for hiding, fleeing, or otherwise escaping a battle. Sneaking is a good way to level up only via not dying.