SB13: The assault on Fort Champion

The characters for this session:

  • Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert
  • Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous
  • Barky, southron
  • Edgar, wizard

NPCs:

  • Oswald, halberdier

The story so far: The characters are mostly intent on seeking vengeance against the The story so far: The characters are mostly intent on seeking vengeance against the Duchy, a Hextor-following enemy of their own Realm. They’ve been sponsored into a punitive expedition, and have made it to one of the key strongpoints south of the Duchy. As a side-quest they’ve picked up a woman named Niamh who needs her lycanthropy cured and happens to be carrying a key artefact, the Glove. They also have a prisoner, a Hextor-following enemy of their own Realm. They’ve been sponsored into a punitive expedition, and have made it to one of the key strongpoints south of the Duchy. As a side-quest they’ve picked up a woman named Niamh who needs her lycanthropy cured and happens to be carrying a key artefact, the Glove. They also have a prisoner.

Threads in play:

  1. Seek vengeance on the Hextorite slavers at Fort Champion
  2. Scout Adlerweg Tower that wards Adlerweg Pass, with or without its gold hoard
  3. In both cases, do not cross into the Duchy
  4. Bring Niamh to the temple of Pelor, now Fort Champion, to cure her lycanthropy
  5. Bring Dietrich back to face justice, so long as he behaves himself

Ready for off

It is mid-morning, and the assault team are peering out from the forest fringe, south towards the present Fort Champion. They have a good view of goblin work gangs, supervised by hobgoblins and with one or two ritter overseers. The gangs are erecting a palisade right across the isthmus formed by the Gann river on the east flank and the lake, near the Dry River outfall, on the west flank.

The main compound of the fort is a sturdy rectangle formed by a variety of buildings, with a frame tower rising above. A tree is visible inside the compound. [Think: a typical drug-lord compound from a 90s movie set, but with a biggish tree inside] The entrance appears to be on the south end.

Large ancillary buildings appear to be stables and cookhouse. A dock large enough for one or two keelboats is built in the Gann-mouth.

We float a few ideas about. There seems no point sending Barky to scout up close. Marking a possible easy path on the west slope of the isthmus, we ease west, through the woods, to check the river. There’s no driftwood and no convenient timber deadfalls to provide flotation.

Times to attack are debated. One possibility is to wait up to 16 hours and attack at dawn. Edgar asks to head back to update the base crew, then asks Oswald to jog with him. Meanwhile we other three toss around a few ideas and fail to decide on when the best time of day is. Barky the optimist suggests the work crews will knock off at dusk, and if so, that would be a great chance.

And that’s what happens. Perhaps summoned by a dinner gong, all 18 or so work crew head away at dusk.

By that time, we’ve been rejoined by Edgar and Oswald and have marked out a tentative route on the west flank, using palisading piles as cover then around the stables to get into the compound. We all agree the priority is to hit the leaders, then slay other evil kind. We half-agree as to when Calm Emotions can be used. In the event, this half-agreement is not as costly as it might have been.

Oswald and Belmont down a Bull’s Strength potion and Thomas boosts Barky with the same, and Endurance. For his part, Edgar throws up Protection from Arrows. And off we run! (Or in game terms, double-move each round, at Thomas’ speed, so Barky only needs one move per round.)

 

The battle for the compound

Our luck is in – even when the horses scent us and begin nickering, Belmont is able to slip in and calm them. Edgar drops two goblins coming out of a jakes, then the two guards up in the tower who are looking the wrong way at the time. With the last weak light from the south-west at our back we hasten round the compound and to the gate, which is still open!

Round 0: Our luck weakens as we cross the threshold! Two worthless goblins, possibly having a peeing competition on the tree, refuse to simply be cut down, and cry the alarm. “We demand to see the captain” Edgar bluffs pointlessly – but in goblin!

Round 1: Belmont slays one of the two goblins. An armoured ritter, and an unarmoured one, emerge from elsewhere, repeating the alarm and running at Oswald and Barky. Barky rages, counter-charges, but the lead ritter blocks him. Edgar shuts the gate with a spell and calls the advancing Oswald back to help muscle the bar into place. Thomas runs swinging at the goblin, scoring a mere glancing blow.

Round 2: “I’ll guard you while you lift the bar,” offers Oswald, to which Edgar ripostes:

“No, let’s divide the labour equally – I’ll guard you while you lift the bar!”

“Will that old married couple in the back please focus” calls Thomas.

The lead ritter and Barky exchange a flurry of blows: the ritter falls. Barky rushes further forward!

Two flail-bearing casters emerge. Two other, less cleric-y casters emerge from another side-building, assess the situation, and one casts a Magic Missile at Thomas. Sleep washes over Barky and Thomas but they shrug it off. Barky is stricken with a Bane. Thomas steps away from the ever-living goblin and Blesses his team.

The gate is now barred securely (preventing any number of reinforcements, since the work crews are in the cookhouse outside). Oswald retrieves his halberd.

Round 3: Belmont runs at a caster but his powerful swing glances off a protective spell. A senior-looking  Hextorite chaplain emerges from the main building. He is unarmoured: but his Cause Fear spell menaces Barky and sends him fleeing.

“They’re acting tactically!” Thomas calls, sounding concerned but by no means panicking. The goblin, with Thomas’ gaze away from him, flees back to support his superiors. Edgar throws up Shield and steps bravely behind Oswald, unclipping his crossbow and attempting to look like a very weak rogue.

Edouar, the fort’s officer in charge, emerges fully armoured, brandishing his axe menacingly!

Round 4: Two casters cast, Belmont shrugs and grins Hieroneously as a Fear spell bounces off. Two other clerics rush Belmont with flails whirring – “By Hextor! Let their skulls hang on our doorframes!”- but the paladin evades their swings. Barky gets his mojo back as the Fear spell expires. Thomas uses his Heat Metal scroll on the big Hextorite, Edouar. It covers the escaping goblin, as well. (And later, we find his corpse inside – the branding-hot studs in his studded leather jerkin were enough to finish him off.)

Round 5: Oswald finally gets up to the fighting and immediately things tilt in our favour. He trips the ritter next to Thomas and the pair kill him.

The chaplain moves forward to support Edouar and casts Bull’s Strength on his leader. Belmont has a pair of casters in front of him, and picks on the unarmoured one, cutting him slightly. Now out of spells, one of the casters uses Jump to evacuate up over the west side of the compound. Barky rushes back, at the casters not Edouar, and downs one. Edgar advances to close up on the front, tries an enchantment on a caster, but unsurprisingly, it fails.

Another caster arrives, sees the invaders are clumped up nicely, and lobs a Fireball onto the group. Barky manages to avoid the worst of it. The last standing cleric does not, and staggers about, then falls.

Thomas casts Doom at Edouar, and it works! Thomas moves to form a shield wall with Belmont, near Barky and Oswald.

Round 6: As the rooftop caster makes good his escape, the chaplain retreats a little, and Edouar is largely left to take the fight to the invaders. Oswald advances to try a trip on Edouar and to his surprise, it works! His follow-up thrust is a crit and with triple damage, Edouar expires!

“We have your leader hostage – we’ll trade him!” Edgar bluffs, more to keep the enemy off balance than with any serious hope of being believed.

Belmont reassesses the field – there’s only two threats, the mage and the chaplain, both more or less below the tower. He and Barky charge and the chaplain, at least, is in trouble!

Edgar can glimpse the mage beyond Belmont, and tries a crossbow shot, but misses hopelessly. “It would have ended him,” he claims. Taking a big risk, the mage attempts to slip past Belmont so as to enfilade both paladin and southron – and is virtually bisected. A scroll rolls out of his hand. “Huh, I see a scroll up here” Belmont calls, feeling that Edgar’s time would be better spent moving up, rather than backshooting. Thomas heals himself and moves up.

Round 7: Oswald closes on the chaplain, who has the entrance steps to the main building at his back; and Belmont swings lustily on the man – but a Sanctuary spell makes the threat fail. The chaplain retreats as fast as he can, into the main building and down.

Edgar runs to the scroll, and sweeps it up. Thomas hustles forward towards the main building, alert for threats.

Rounds 8-10: Oswald and Thomas check the immediate quadrangle. Barky and Belmont chase after the chaplain, who lasts as long as his Sanctuary, then dies. Edgar clambers up the tower, and murders the sleeping tower guards.

 

The threat outside

“I can see two groups heading south-east and north-west – we should get moving!” Edgar calls from his perch. Thoughts of whether we should loot, send out for the others, or explore, are shelved. Edgar clambers back down:

“Thomas, we need to move against one group or another and use Calm Emotions!” he advises.

Thomas notices Edgar’s battered status, and uses a scroll-written Cure Light to heal him.

“Can we stop the ones at the stables?” Edgar continues.

“I can always ride down any that do make it to horseback” Belmont reminds us, but Thomas agrees the stables are best, and off we run!

 

The battle at the corral

As we run out west and north to the stables, the enemy see us and in three groups, advance! Each group is roughly a five-goblin work gang and a hobgoblin: the goblins armed with short sword and the hobgoblins with flail or halberd. They are well separated, meaning that it will be near-impossible to Calm them at one attempt. Thomas calls for us to group them, but before he can elaborate, Belmont counter-charges the right-most group. A chagrined Thomas curses and vows never to bother calling tactics again.

Although the fighting is intense, only the hobgoblins present any real menace. Edgar traps one in a Web but his Sleep attempts are but moderately rewarded. Thomas has very little left, and concentrates on fighting. He forms ‘an immobile wassname’ for a time, fully defensive, to anchor the line, and loses a Calm Emotions spell to a counter-cut as he tries to combat-cast. Barky wisely withholds his last Rage of the day for later. Oswald unwisely drops his halberd and wields the sabre-of-never-quite-hitting, but he does manage to break his duck with it. Belmont fights on, keeping it simple, pressuring the two unwebbed hobgoblins. At the cost of some minor wounds, we triumph. The webbed victims and any sleeping survivors are dispatched.

 

Down, not away

“They’re not at the dock – my unerring tracking ability tells me they ran this way,” Barky claims excitedly, [nat 20 on wilderness lore] waving a lit torch across an obvious trail. We follow it around the south tip and up west – to a shaft!

“Damn – they’re under the complex!”

This changes plans. “I vote start from the inside top and head down,” Edgar votes and Oswald seconds the motion. Gathering what gear we may find useful, we relocate to the compound. A very few minutes are taken, first, kicking walls and checking under stairs for hidden exits out of the compound. Reasonably sure that we aren’t going to be surprised by enemy coming back in, we ready ourselves to plunge down the steps, and the session ends.

 

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