Monday, 29 August 2011

The Seige. Session II of the Expeditionary Campaign

 Just a short summary today. Stomach trouble. Feel crap.

Session II of the campaign saw two new players amble up to the table. Rob is playing Thot- a half-elf magic-user/cleric of Miranda. Neil arrived late due to filming commitments and played Sparious, the NPC. He'll have a character of his own for next week. So with two players from session I unable to attend, we once again had ten players: 9 present in real-life, a virtual player (via Skype) and me.

The Party:
Ailil Shadowdancer Elf Male Assassin/Illusionist 1/1.  Played by Ridh
Andros Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 1. Played by Aimee
Boagris Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Silv
Euthalia Human (Mycenean) Female Cleric (and Priestess) of Haestia 1. Played by Caroline
Glykeria Human (Mycenean) Female Illusionist 1 and Priestess (non-clerical) of Miranda. Played by Elle
Ki Oman Human (Foreigner) Male "Bard" (assassin) 1. Played by Ali
Peliakos Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Coakley
Sparious Human (Mycenan) Male Fighter 1. Played (temped) by Niall
Thanatos Human (Mycenean) Male Assassin 1. Played by Fiona
Thot Half-Elf (Mycenean) Male Magic User/Cleric of Miranda 1/1. Played by Rob.

Players Not Present/Character "Recovering from Wounds":
Alexis Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Larrraitz
Xenos Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter/Magic-User 1/1. Played by Leoni  

By 3pm the party had completed the business of ferrying the wounded into the temple and disassembling their make-shift canvas shelter from the night before. Boagris had spent much of his time skinning the slain baboon and now proceeded to wear the untanned hide as a suit of armour. Meanwhile, Ki Oman and Peliakos set about cooking the flesh of the primate in a bid to provide every one with a few mouthfuls of meat.

Realising that no-one had yet collected water, Sparious grabbed a large pot and made off in the direction of the well, via the now-doorless back entry (the door having been used in one of the two barricades separating the survivors from the floor above). At the suggestion of Ki Oman, Boagris accompanied the other warrior. It was as well he did. For no sooner had they stepped out into the garden than had the large and unusual tree noted earlier by the scouts as they circled the building came alive and tried to attack them!
Heavy branches loaded with razor-sharp leaves swung down, badly mauling a terrified Sparious, who fled back to the worship hall screaming that the island had come alive and was trying to kill them. While the other warriors plus Shadowdancer and Euthalia rushed through the back door to give battle, Ki Oman and Thanatos slipped out the front door and made their way round to the garden via the back route -although it had to be said, Ki Oman was by far the speedier of the two. It was well that they did, for within moments both Andros and Boagris had gone down under the tree's relentless attacks. Peliakos, Shadowdancer and Euthalia did all they could to drag the two fallen warriors to safety. To their dismay however, the tree moved closer to the rear exit  -slithering along on a bed of roots in much the same way a centipede undulates on it's legs. Tall as it was, the tree could not follow them inside the passageway, but it's deadly branches could. Shadowdancer lit torches in the wall brackets, hoping the flames might dissuade the killer tree from continuing it's efforts but to no avail.

It was at this moment that Ki Oman intervened. Having seen the tree move and expose the six, foot tall saplings behind it's position. Ki Oman wasted no time in rushing the adult tree, leaping high up it's trunk,a bronze meat hook in each hand doubling as climbing claws.

Unable to bend it's branches sufficiently to attack the cunning assassin, the tree could do little except continue it's attempts to slay the survivors in the corridor while the assassin climbed inexorably towards the strange eye-shaped bulb atop bundles of vines at the tree's apex. The "eye" itself had already been hit by a well-aimed throw from Boagris, blinding the beast, but Ki Oman deduced that the bundle beneath must houses the creatures brain. After three rounds of successful climbing checks, and a successful assassination roll later, the creature fell to the ground, dead (fortunately away from the temple). Ki Oman leapt clear at the last minute, unfortunately crashing through the roof tiles and into the roof space of the temple. Fortunately he did not plummet onward down through the roof space into the unexplored upper floor of the temple. The triumphant Bard was soon able to climb back down into the garden. This impressive feat was witnessed by the flabbergasted Thanatos, who wasted no time telling the others what he had seen.

Meanwhile, Glykeria had been fishing on the beach with her net, albeit with little success, having caught but a single actual fish and some poisonous jelly-fish. She became aware of a figure stumbling through the surf towards her but, recognising the figure as Thot- her fellow priest of Miranda and another member of Minerva's retinue. She hailed him cheerfully. The two scavenged on the beach awhile amidst the remnants of the ship's wreckage (most of it having been washed away in the tide) and, discovering more fishing materials, proceeded to fish some more.

The two had only just begun their journey back to the Temple of Merax when the episode with the tree began. They observed the tree fall during their journey, but without understanding the significance until arriving back at the temple.

Upon rejoining the group, introductions were made. Thot very quickly made himself useful by healing the wounded warriors Andros and Boagris (both sitting on 0HP) with a pair of Cure Light Wounds spells. Fortunately, given that the warriors had been on 0HP and not into negative hit-points, they recovered immediately with no niggling pains or injuries to speak of (i.e. no negative modifiers to their dice rolls until they'd fully recovered).

While the two followers of Miranda shared out what they had scavenged from the beach, Shadowdancer decided it might be best to recover as much as possible before the next tide carried any other useful items from the ship away. So, he and Ki Oman proceeded to finish their scant meal of baboon flesh and then left the Temple. No sooner had Shadowdancer pushed open one of the bronze outer doors than he came face to face with a native: a crocodilian humanoid with an obsidian dart in one hand and a pail of fish guts in the other. The two strangers stared stupidly at one another for a moment, before the reptilian stranger dropped his bucket, which spilled it's contents messily to the ground. Pausing only to toss his javelin at Shadowdancer (missing by a hairs-breadth) the creature turned and ran, it's skin shimmering and changing colour to match the landscape as it did so.

Shaken, Shadowdancer and Ki Oman returned to the rest of the party to report the strange encounter, but therafter continued onwards to the beach anyway -albeit this time in the company of Peliakos and Boagris. They managed to recover some additional items from the beech without incident. Yet while returning to the temple (in time to meet Glykeria and Euthalia coming out to give them a hand) the party suddenly found itself surrounded by a half-dozen of the strange reptiles, who unleashed a hail of stone darts and javelins to little effect. Boagris, Andros and Euthalia very quickly brought one of the beasts down, despite an awful, gagging stench that made their stomachs heave as though to give up their contents. The rest fled, but only moments later the clear, ominous boom of war drums could be heard sounding in the distance. Leaving their fallen foe where he lay, the party (including a wounded Ki Oman) hustled back to the temple and immediately made plans to set a watch for the night.

Ki spent the remainder of the daylight hours explaining to the rest of the survivors that the stinking reptilians could only be troglodytes - a primitive race of lizardmen with a taste for human flesh, chameonic skin and a foul maismatic stench. Few of the humans slept well that night. He warned the others that the creatures were fond of traps, ambushes and poison. Yet he would forget this sound advice himself soon enough.

In the event, they had a peaceful night. Yet in the morning Shadowdancer, Thanatos and Ki Oman slipped out of the temple with the intention of looking for traces of reptilian scouts. Sure enough, traces there were -but more obvious than expected. There, outside the temple, not twenty yards from the front doors, stood a human skull, picked clean, atop a staff. Ki Oman, forgetting his own advice, reached out to touch the staff and found his hand badly numbed by the contact. Luckily, he seemed to have some resistance to the poison and was able to remain conscious and mobile, though he felt chilled to the very bone. Shadowdancer took the skull and returned it to the temple, leaving a peace offering of some fish in it's place. Continuing their inspection of the Temple grounds, the three stealthy survivors found tracks all around the perimeter, more so outside the shutter less windows on the east side. However, the tracks gave the garden a wide berth, suggesting to Ki Oman and Shadowdancer that the creatures knew the garden was dangerous - but had been unaware as to the source of the danger.

The morning was spent in frantic activity, with those party members who were able, working feverishly to improve the defences. Thot, Andros, Shadowdancer and Thanatos combined their skills in woodworking and manufacturing to make some use of the tree corpse in the Garden. While Thot carved stout staves, Andros set about fashioning them into workable spears with the addition of bronze spikes. Meanwhile, Shadowdancer and Thanatos set about crafting some spear traps and selecting where best to place them for defence.

The remainder of the party either stood watch, tended to the wounded or began work on a defensive ditch. Or, rather, due to a shortage of manpower, several deep pits, with the intention of joining these up into a proper ditch when sufficient time and proper tools became available. It was as well they took these precautions. Yet when danger came, it came not from without. At least not at first.

While Thanatos and Shadowdancer debated where in the east wing to deploy their spear traps for best effect (ie, best coverage of the shutterless windows) they heard a crashing noise from above.

The east barricade was giving way!

Quickly, the others assembled at a loud shout relayed by Glykeria (in the main worship area) to those outside. Without hesitation the party warriors rushed to the bottom of the stairs in time to see the first giant beetle, it's mandible the length and glistening sharpness of a scimitar, crash through the barricade. Meanwhile, Shadowdancer kept watch at the front, Thanatos at the back and Euthalia watched the western barricade for signs of a similar assault. Glykeria and Thot stood behind the door to the stair-corridor. In cover, but ready to provide magical support as needed.

Though the battle was a difficult one, the four fighters and Ki Oman, in concert, brought down the first beetle, but not before the arrival of a second. This one was slain by a single mighty blow from the club of the gladiator, Boagris, which pulped it's carapace and insectoid brain into jelly, splattering the walls (and his companions) with greenish ichor. The third and last beatle proved the most difficult-and deadly - foe. This beast leapt upon the warrior Andros, crushing her beneath it's bulk. Yet Boagris pulled the blacksmith free when Ki Oman leapt upon the beasts back, causing it to unfold its' wing case and attempt to crush the bard against the ceiling . However, the clever bard managed to manacle one of the creatures legs to its mandible, causing it to fall and impale itself on the upraised sword of Sparious.

And not before time. Because even as Andros fell, Shadowdancer had called out an alarm from the front doors. The Troglodytes were attacking. Even as Ki Oman and the three warriors still standing - Sparious, Boagris and Peliakos- rushed to the front gates, Shadowdancer was already forcing them closed with the assistance of Thanatos and Euthalia (both hastily summoned from their respective watches by the alarm call). Yet Glykeria and Thot stood ready. Even as the first rank of the creatures reached the slowly closing doors, they cast their spells, they were met by a salvo of potent magic. Thot's sleep spells dropped the front rank entirely, buying time for the doors to close just as Glykeria's colour spray caused the second rank to drop to the ground, hissing angrily and scratching at their eyes, blinded by an eruption of scintillating colours from the oracles outstretched hand.

Yet despite this mighty display, the beasts continued to pound at the doors even while the party moved to barricade them. Sensing an opportunity, Shadowdancer ran out into the garden, careful to avoid the sentient saplings in one corner, and cast an illusion of his own. In the sky, high above the temple, the image of a giant, antler-helmed, woad-painted figure appeared, silently pointing his bloody, serrated spear at the base of the temple doors. Having conjured a likeness of the Fae Warlord Cerunnos, Shadowdancer could easily image the consternation caused among the attacking troglodytes. Though unable to see the effects of his spell upon the attackers, he took satisfaction from the fact the pounding noise at the temple doors had suddenly stopped.

And that's where we stopped for the night.

Notes: Most of the session was spent in planning and roleplay, so there was far less "gaming" content than last time. I hadn't been anticipating on introducing the troglodytes this early in the campaign, but I generated a random encounter with  a lone trog just as Shadowdancer and Ki Oman were leaving the temple. Naturally, the trog informed his tribe and the remainder of the session (one I expected to focus on exploring the Temple's second level) concerned the groups plans and preperations for the seemingly inevitable trog attack. Finding themselves caught between the tribe outside and the beasts upstairs caused some considerable consternation amoung the players, let me tell you.


Rob said...

It was a fun night, but just to clarify, My character's name is THOHT .
And it was he who stood ready to sling the first stone at the giant beetle that came through the barrier and who said for someone to go get the others (which Shadowdancer immidiately fled to do i might add), Thoht took out the eye of the 1st beetle with a well aimed sling stone , before having to back off. Moments later when Andros was mortally wounded he was able to rush in and pull her free to heal her wounds , that she could continue the fight ...

The rest seems accurate enough but i wanted Thoht to get his due for the valliant servives he provided :)

Dangerous Brian said...

Thanks for the correction Rob. Thats the only real problem with having so many players: it's hard for me to keep track of who does what!

Mmmm. Maybe I can talk someone into being the official note taker?

Ian Coakley said...

Also, it was Peliakos, not Andros, who got the shit beat out of him by a tree.

Not good times, man - I was trying to be heroic. Watch e never do that shit again!

Rob said...

Brian, you could always set George to record the nights conversation , then you could listen to it later to refresh your memory ?

Just a Thoht , lol ;)

Caliban said...

Great stuff, Brian, it's good to read a campaign story from the very beginning. I'm amazed that you manage to keep track of ten players at a time! Keep going...


Anonymous said...

Ki enjoyed that session. :D
Just a point of note, I hid the skull and never told any of the others about it (slightly embarasing).