Thursday, March 4, 2010

Arandish Campaign 2010 - Session 6

After a one-week (real-time, not game-time) hiatus, our core group of four PCs -- Uncle Junkal (Bard-1), Innominus (Cleric-1), Hazel (Fighter-1), and Barbarella Bootay (Rodian Duellist-1) -- was back and ready to explore the level below the Demon Idol.  They first ventured topside and made the half-day journey back to the village of Vedik, to resupply and to dump off the loot they already found in the orc complex.  The villagers were so grateful to the party for clearing out the orcish warband that they gave the group a farm.  This was a property whose previous owners were killed by the orcs, and the party offered to pay another local farmer named Larry a monthly fee to work the land in their (frequent) absence.

After burying their various shares of loot in secret locales around the farm property, the group return-journeyed to the orc complex with a total of four hirelings in tow: Snikrop and No-Name, plus the two the PCs sent back to Vedik at the outset of session 4.  Serendipitously avoiding any random encounters (lousy rolls!), the group returned to the demon idol chamber without incident, climbed into its hollow enclosure via the eyes, and at long last descended into the chamber beneath it.  

There they met Talen, a Delzarian magic-user who (as he told the PCs) had been adventuring in northern Telengard when he accidentally read a cursed scroll that teleported him to the chamber beneath the idol.  Using his ventriloquism spell, Talen had been surviving here for weeks by convincing the orcs he was a demon, demanding food offerings.  Talen would sneak out of the idol's eyes when the orcs weren't around and collect the food.  Yet he could not escape since he could not take on the orcs alone, nor had he discovered any other way out of the downstairs chamber.  It was in fact Talen's intervention that started the orcs raiding the local Vedik villagers in the first place!

For some reason, the party decided to distrust Talen, and subjected him to a search and some rigorous questioning.  But he could tell them nothing about the rest of the complex, and appeared to be telling the truth about the extent and nature of his activities here.

So the party searched Talen's one-room hideout for secret doors, and found one.  Talen was incredulous that he had missed it, but was grateful to the party for agreeing to escort him back to the surface.

The next chamber the party came to was an old trophy room, where various stuffed creatures and weapons displays were at one time kept; the room was now empty, save for impressions left on the walls suggesting what trophies had previously been kept there.  Hazel entered the trophy room and inspected the area where a bear's head once hung.  Barbarella entered next and began searching the room systematically.

Next thing anyone knew, a huge black bear materialized in the corner where the bear's head had once been, and moved to attack the party.  I don't believe this bear ever landed a blow; two rounds later, it was dead, the killing blow being a thrown dagger critical hit by Uncle Junkal.

However, no sooner had the party dispatched the bear (and began skinning it!) than another ghostly "trophy" became material: a pair of swords and a shield!  The swords swiftly attacked and (due to a high damage die roll by the Labyrinth Lord) killed PC Barbarella Bootay in a single blow.  Barbarella's is the first PC death this campaign.  R.I.P.

As Hazel fought a fighting retreat, keeping the swords and shield at bay, the party exited the trophy room forthwith, slamming the door shut behind them.  They made their way back up a northbound hallway to a door they had previously listened at -- detecting no sounds but smelling a foul rotting smell wafting from under it.  Despite some party trepidation (Uncle Junkal seems particularly undead-o-phobic), Hazel flung open the door and faced off against a ghoul.  I believe she hit and damaged the ghoul, and then hireling Snikrop (played by Barbarella's player) finished the ghoul off in one more long-sword strike.

The ghoul had no treasure, so the party moved on to another doorway, which also smelled foul.  The party instructed two of the hirelings to prepare to throw a cookpot full of oil into the room, then Innominus flung open the door.  Inside was a ghoul and a terrifying wight!  Losing no time, Innominus turned the two undead fiends, rolling his nightly d30 (a "15") for his To Turn roll then a "6" on 2d6, just enough to turn 6 HD worth of undead!  Looming in the doorway, the cleric kept the turned wight and ghoul trapped in the small office, where they cowered behind a wooden desk.  The hirelings flung the oil into the room, and it spilled its contents all across the floor.  Uncle Junkal threw a lit oil flask, striking the wight square-on, then rolling his nightly d30 roll (a 21, the wight's exact HP total) for the damage, instantly incinerating the wight.  The helpless, turned ghoul burned to death the following round, as Uncle Junkal's flask had ignited the pool of oil on the floor.  We ended the session waiting for the flames to go out so (presumably) the party can enter the office next session and rifle the charred remains of the desk etc. 

Labyrinth Lord's meta-notes:  I am quite happy with how the party is working together -- see, for example, tonight's final wight-and-ghoul attack, or the ogre battle last session.  They are learning to use their unique abilities in concert with one another.  It's great.  I am also pleased that more than one PC has demonstrated, at one time or another, shall we say, less than pure motivations for their actions.  Hell, some of them have been downright cruel and twistedly violent: see, for example, Innominus' "orc mask" antics during sessions two and three, Uncle Junkal's "toothpick torture" of Ug the orc in session two, and the party's outdoor orc corpse display in session four.  In a sense, this kind of dark grotesquery and ruthlessness on the part of the PCs is what I love most about D&D.  As a general rule, I despise squeaky clean PCs or campaigns -- although sometimes a moralistic or law-abiding PC can make a great foil / balance for an otherwise ruthless bunch of PC scoundrels.  However, as many others in the OSR blogosphere have oft noted, playing morally ambiguous characters is true to the spirit of old-school dungeoneering-type play: it assumes that all characters are de facto thieves, delving into underground realms in order to loot the hell out of the places.  The party, in short, are glorified grave robbers.  I like this, and it is in this spirit that I offer salute to the late Barbarella Bootay, who had fairly cutthroat mercenary tendencies, and a bravery bordering on recklessness, but alas, is no more.  (I wonder what character that player is going to play next?  I wonder what the PCs are planning to get up to with that Vedik farm?)

1 comment:

  1. That was a fun session. I kind of half expected Barbarella to be the first to die, with the way I was playing her. She was fun. Not sure what I will do - either a goblin, or maybe just keep playing Snikrop. Or maybe something else entirely! See you Sunday, same bat cave (for now).