Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sessions 32 and 33: Kill Hobgoblins! - Almost

This recap covers two consecutive sessions, Session 32 (4/11/2011) and Session 33 (4/25/2011).  There was some fluctuation of personnel across these two sessions, as follows:

1.  Uncle Junkal is still on extended hiatus until his player finishes his dissertation in June.

2.  Session 32 included Innominus (Clr 5), Yor (Dwf 5), Vivuli (Assassin 4) and Hazel (Ftr 4 / MU 3), although Hazel had to leave the session one hour early -- ironically, just moments before the party joined battle with its foes in Stonehell.

3.  Session 33 involved Innominus (Clr 5), Hazel (Ftr 4 / MU 3), Yor (Dwf 5), Dak (Dwf 5) and Vivuli (Assassin 4) -- all the current (non-hiatus) players.

Session 32 began in the town of Fortinbras, as the party lurked around there waiting for Yor to recover from Raise Dead.*

Vivuli searched for and found a black marketeer willing to sell him some doses of Black Widow poison. However, the assassin found the poison to be outside his price range, so he pickpocketed the vendor instead.

Hazel ventured to the larger, neighboring city of Farn Junction in order to visit the Wizards' Council Spell Library there. At the library she bought transcriptions of Speak With Animals, Magic Missile, and Phantasmal Force. She also knocked around a few local bars (including a dwarf bar, The Stone Mountain Inn) and gathered some Farn Junction gossip, the main item being that some dwarven workers had recently disappeared from a mine, in an incident being referred to by locals as a "haunting."

Meanwhile, back in Fortinbras, Innominus looked further into the mystery and ongoing investigation of the death by exsanguination of Baron Kaminster. The cleric of Endra sought out Ironblade, the Noffellian Sword-Cleric brought in by the Sheriff of Rogaland as a special investigator on the case. The two caught up with each other at the late Baron's mansion east of town, where Innominus revealed to Ironblade what he'd found out via Tale of Death back in Session 31. Ironblade in turn informed Innominus that he and the Sheriff were planning to make an arrest in the case that very afternoon. Innominus asked to join them, and they all left the Kaminster Estate together.

They rode to a small hovel in southeastern Fortinbras which was already crawling with Sheriff's deputies. They descended through a previously concealed trapdoor into a hidden cellar containing shelves packed with human and animal skeletal remains. There were workbenches with jars of organs lying about, and skins adorned the walls. The hovel's sole inhabitant, Brian, was being held by two deputies as a few other lawmen searched the cellar. Innominus cast Detect Magic and saw, aside from the intensely bright glow of Ironblade's blessed sword, two other items emanating magical energy:

1. A ring worn by the Sheriff of Rogaland, and

2. Some object in the back corner of the cellar.

The Cleric of Endra made haste to the far cellar corner from whence the magic emanated, noting along the way that the stone walls were covered in weird symbols written in blood. One symbol that recurred in many places was a small inverted ankh-like cross:

Innominus reached the corner desk, upon which a small strongbox sat centered. The strongbox contained the object giving off the magical emanation: a key in the same general shape as the inverted-ankh sign depicted above.  Just about the same time Innominus found and pocketed the magical key, one of Sheriff Rogaland's deputies found a hidden cabinet containing 37 vials of blood, each marked with a unique symbol in wax.  Surmising that these blood samples linked Brian to a number of local exsanguination incidents over the past several years, the Sheriff hauled Brian into the Fortinbras Gaol to stand trial for murder, including the murder of Baron Kaminster.

That night, Hazel returned from Farn Junction, and she and Innominus were hanging out in the Drunken Yeti when Dalgoop the Ranger entered the bar, just returned from his southern sojourn.**

Dalgoop reported that he had seen alarming developments along the southern Mizarian frontier: organized-seeming bands of great grey trolls were attacking Mizarian settlements, and there were also rumors of huge colossus-like giants roaming those areas, attacking the more heavily fortified Mizarian forts. Dalgoop planned only to rest for the night in Fortinbras -- he planned to hasten onward to Kaladar at first light to get this disturbing news to his employers, The Society of the Cheetah Mask.

The next morning, after renegotiating Gark's retainer contract, and hiring Fuzz (Ftr 3) and Kilgore (Ftr 2) as additional NPC retainers, the PCs headed off for Stonehell one more time, hopefully to finally eradicate the Black Oil Hobgoblins once and for all.

However, only a few hours into their journey [and oddly, mere seconds after Hazel's player had to leave the session for the evening], the party was assaulted from above by a horrific, acrid, sewage stench, and next thing they knew, a Black Dragon was swooping around for a frontal aerial attack.

Both sides rolled initiative -- and both sides rolled a "1." So the action of the first round would be simultaneous.

Yor's player rolled a crossbow shot for NPC Gark, and when it hit, he declared that he would use his nightly d30 roll for the damage. I okayed this and he rolled 29 damage. That was the only shot that hit the dragon during the first round. The dragon, of course, used its breath attack, shooting a stream of deadly acid at Yor and Innominus. But both PCs saved, however, and only took minimal damage from the acid.

The party won initiative the second round, and Innominus told Yor to throw him (using his girdle of giant strength) straight at the onrushing dragon. Yor did just that, and once Innominus touched the dragon, he cast Cause Light Wounds and rolled his nightly d30 roll for the damage: 20. The dragon shriveled to a pulp.

Beastarr urinated on the dragon's corpse and the party moved up into the box canyon and entered Stonehell. . .

In short time and without incident the party reached the hobgoblin-held territory in the southeast quarter of level two of the dungeon. They found a few hobgoblins still working in the kitchen, and a patrol of six guarding a sentry post; the PCs made quick work of slaying a total of ten hobgoblins.

That is where the session left off. . . .

Session 33 began with the PCs exploring mostly vacant (or vacated?) areas of the presumed hobgoblin base. Highlights include:

At their furthest point southeast, the party discovered a rubble pile and a recently excavated passage leading 30' south to a natural tunnel leading off to the southwest. They deferred heading too far down that natural passage and instead proceeded up a northbound passageway that they thought (due to Gark's partial knowledge of the area) contained the Hobgoblin General's office.

One room along the north-south passage contained what appeared to be an Elven sleeping berth: a bunch of branches and green foliage woven together to create a comfortable sleeping nest for one fey. While her companions searched the room in general to no avail, Hazel unwove and stole some plant material from that sleeping berth.

The party did find the Hobgoblin General's Office, which was abandoned except for a large wooden desk. Written on the desk in feces in hobgoblin was the message: "Fuck You, surface dwellers"

Opening the one other remaining door in the main north-south hallway revealed a stone humanoid being which instantly attacked. Luckily, Dak beat the thing at initiative and slammed the door in its face, buying himself and his comrades the seconds they needed to ready weapons. The 8' tall stone thing burst out of the room and came at them in the corridor. Over the course of a harrowing melee, the golem splintered a shield or two and severely injured Hazel and one of the NPCs, but was ultimately brought down by the combined efforts of the party, including a daring scheme proposed by Hazel whereby Gorgo lassoed the thing's neck with rope and pulled it down to the floor with the help of Gorgo and Fuzz.

The group explored some areas to the west, finding only a deserted hobgoblin barracks now occupied by two morlocks having sex, and a strange cluster of small rooms with arcane inscriptions on the floor. Hazel copied down the inscriptions, deducing that they likely have something to do with teleportation.

The last room the party explored was a large squarish chamber with a rotating water spout and two huge 20' x 20' spiked pits, full of dead bodies in varying states of decay. The party, especially Vivuli, scoped out these corpses; Viv used a rope and grappling hook to lift a couple dead bodies out of the pits to search them for valuables [and found some loose gp and a treasure map depicting an island treasure spot]. Midway into the assassin's looting spree, Gark the dwarf cried out that he recognized one of the bodies in the western pit -- the party had at last found Sir Boren of Achelon.

After securing Boren's body, the party returned to the southeastern-most corner of the dungeon level, climbed over the excavated rubble pile, and headed down the natural tunnel a quarter of a mile to the southwest, at which point it opened out onto a cave mouth high up on the slope of Greystone Mountain.

There the session ended.

*In a recent post on Grognardia, it was noted that, according to strict OD&D rules, only humans are able to be raised from the dead -- demi-humans are exempt. However, here in Ara, Yor the dwarf is able to be raised. Why? Two reasons: (1) In Labyrinth Lord, Raise Dead works on a "dwarf, elf, human, or halfling" (LL p. 24) -- to which I would add other allowable demi-human races like rodians and half-orcs. And (2) Because unlike Dwimmermount, the Lands of Ara features dwarves and rodians (and even elves) which are derived from human stock. So in Ara, any PC race may be raised from the dead by a cleric.

**To recap: Dalgoop headed south into Mizarian territory on a mission for The Society of the Cheetah Mask. He seems to have vanished from our documented narrative in Session 9, but he may in actuality traveled with the PCs as far as Fortinbras, one session later.


  1. "deserted hobgoblin barracks now occupied by two morlocks having sex"

    I threw up a little. That sounds sooooo gross!

    You guys get a ton done during play. I am envious.

  2. Thanks for the awesome feedback. Grotesquery is a particular passion of mine. And yes, the group has really hit its stride and we tend to cover a fair amount of ground each session.

  3. Well, we especially cover a lot of ground when there's fuck all in the dungeon. Note that we left the morlocks to finishing their boning in peace.

    The funnest part of those two session was pulling the Fastball Special with Innominus and Yor in the face of certain defeat. I always loved that as a kid when Wolverine and Colossus did it, and I never thought I'd be doing it in a D&D game. This made me reread Matt Finch's Old School Primer, and it definitely fits with the "Rulings, not Rules: Ninja Jump" example. Good stuff.

    And for the record, Beastarr ate the Black Dragon's balls, he didn't urinate on it. I think he urinated on the dead hobgoblins later.

  4. I went back through the notes, and Dalgoop was with us in Death First Room (Session 10), which we hit from Farn Junction on Mount Fenris. While we were waiting for Uncle Junkal to recover from 'raise dead' in Session 11, he went ahead to Ft. Mizak or wherever else before we got to Fortinbras later in the session, and started the first assault in Stonehell.

  5. I loved the Fastball Special reference. My group's D&D games are never this fun!

  6. @Spawn: Thanks for the correction RE: ball-eating vs. corpse urinating.