Characters for this session:
Barky, L6 southron
Edgar, L6 wizard, with Vert the cooshee
Sir Belmont, L6 paladin of Heironeous
Brother Thomas, L6 cleric of St Cuthbert
and Oswald, NPC L6 fighter
The story so far: During a fetch-and-carry quest east from their base at Commandery, the comrades chance upon two tinkers in the wild, Evart and Fumgard. Sir Belmont’s powers of detection do not sniff them out as agents of evil. But later, on the trail of Hextorite slavers, the two tinkers are found to be in cahoots – and make a hasty departure to an escape vessel, the Quick Penny!
Next, when dispatched out of Realmsgate by FrS Athelred of St. Cuthbert, Thomas and friends make a foray against a ruined keep from whence Hextorites are signaling out to sea. It is but a partial victory and again the Quick Penny carries the leaders away.
But chance and Edgar’s ease of conversation throw Fumgard into their way, and he is captured. Much is learned of Hextorite operations both afloat and in Realmsgate. And the first leg of our session concerns how best to get to Realmsgate, with Fumgard, and without running foul of Hextorite-complicit Watchmen in the city.
A mad plan to head east is agreed
Edgar bounces a few ideas off Thomas, privately, then rounds up his other comrades, and the five pretend to be inspecting the horses down in the Scorpion’s paddock while the wizard puts to them his Thomas-vetted ideas on getting back into Realmsgate while not being entangled with Fumgard and the corrupt Watch members. By a slim margin the decision is to track down the Heironeous force somewhere east of Cromore, let them hear Fumgard’s account (and hand him over so that he’s their problem) then either ride back to Realmsgate or take ship to the hidden pirate isle, depending on what the Heironeous command does. Oswald seems skeptical, but Barky is keen – his wilderland skills have grown to the point where he can read tracks in this northern land!
[Yes, it’s Feat-break time! The last session netted a decent chunk of xp and everyone is on 20,000-and-change. In E6 this is a feat-taking milestone.]
To Heironeous! What could go wrong?
Then the groom and varlet are summoned, the Scorpion tab is paid, horses arrayed in travel gear, Fumgard tied upon the spare, and the path north taken!
Exactly where Heironeous is, no-one knows. Even mighty St. Cuthbert will offer Thomas limited guidance. But logically they can head north until cutting a trail of some sort be it physical or by the common account of locals.
[You know how the GM gets you to make an endless series of checks, because one is bound to fail? Well, as the party heads north then east Edgar makes an unlikely series of OK to great Converse (gather info) checks here, with a +2 as a given assist from other party members. No check totals less than 15 and a few are 20+.]
Sir Beauchamp is pronounced as he is spelled
As the days progress it’s clear the riders are catching up. By virtue of using the Great Road they make more time up. Then one day by the Greater Ouse, a large river, Barky finds the obvious trail of a considerable mounted force, headed north.
Two days later the adventurers are challenged and Belmont leads them through the camp to meet Sir Beauchamp [French pronunciation] the banneret knight leading the force. After introductions the non-brothers are dismissed to the mess tent but hardly have Thomas and Edgar had ale set before them, than word comes that they are wanted back at the command tent.
[I believe one assisted roll is again called for, to convey our options and ideas to Beauchamp without upsetting him. Once again luck is on Edgar’s side.]
We are adventurers! Try the life!
Sir Beauchamp seems quite open to Edgar’s favored option, which is to drive on Realmsgate first, with a detachment from this force: deal with the known evil there then make plans to sail out to take on the pirate isle. He detaches a squadron of a dozen armed brothers, and provides them with a chitty to cover expenses.
Fortune falls Hingmund’s way at this point. Edgar manages to swap the pony for a palfrey so the groom will have two palfreys to sell at the end of the journey.
On the road, the Heironeous brothers are probed as to local conditions and drinking houses to round out the adventurers’ picture of Realmsgate. [Edgar and Oswald get a 15 on Gather info] But it seems they have been chosen for their probity – sticking well to the rule of the order and to what their constable orders.
By Heironeous – we strike now!
It is the 12th day since setting off when they arrive at Realmsgate. A few hours of daylight remain. By joint consent Belmont leads them to the North Gate. His steely-eyed charisma [no roll required] carries them all through without more than a passing question from the Watch. And from the stable-yard of the First Welcome, where Thomas and Edgar bid farewell to Hingmund and the five comrades make a hasty plan!
“Strike while the iron is hot! Barky – you will be leading us to the den of evil known as the Ram, or Splintered Ram.”
“I didn’t have much of a scout around to check for bolt-holes.”
“That’s all right. We’ll be going in with brute force. Perhaps a ram – that would be ironic.”
“We have a detachment, we can position a few men around…”
“Yes, do we position the men of Heironeous as a blocking force?”
“Yes… possibly underground, but we can’t do anything about that.”
“They’re on the docks, so I’d be interested in what kind of ‘underground’ they might have.”
“Unless your clerical miracles include Raise Water to flood them out, I’m not that interested.”
So saying, Edgar swings up as pillion behind Oswald – though Sir Belmont, ever courteous, asks him to hop on Dobbin – and with a simple “we ride!” they set off.
To the Splintered Ram!
Barky runs ahead of the cavalcade as it trots briskly in a near-direct line to the docks area. He recognizes the shabby two-story Splintered Ram tavern, though at the back of his mind, as he sees the cheap decrepit building, a question scratches. Belmont gestures his brother templars around to the alleys and back-way. Barky wields his axe, but the door is both ajar and not a heavy-locked affair.
[The GM has a new init-tracking system but after last session we all have the idea, “move coordinated.” The GM sticks with “every enemy moves together” so our decision balances things.]
“I suggest I could start with a Web spell, while you wait, then you all act together” – Edgar
“I could use Calm Emotions” – Thomas
“Kind of spoils the fun” – Edgar
The fighting line draws back. Thomas looks up and around the alleys suspiciously. Buffs go up – Oswald and Belmont get Bull Strength, Barky Endurance and Defensive Ward. Edgar throws up both Protection from Arrows and Mage Armor [and keeps the Gloves of Dexterity].
The fight in the Splintered Ram shows how tough our foes are
Edgar steps to the door, and given the small size of the place, extends his staff and sprinkles sand and casts Enhanced Sleep, while Thomas casts Prayer.
- Bad guys
- The others
Surprise round: Edgar casts and steps back. The fighting line piles in as Thomas casts. Four or five figures toward the bar remain upright: their fellow-patrons are slumped over drinks.
Round 1: Edgar can see a couple of figures still moving. He casts a second Enhanced Sleep and calls “Vert! Attack!” The cooshee rushes the man, seizes his leg and begins a tussling-match. [He has knockdown, and uses it, but the GM does not explain the mechanism. It’s probably Vert STR vs target DEX] The man avoids being thrown, draws a short sword and stabs down into the big pup. Nearby two figures rise, glance at one another, and disappear. Thomas and Belmont, who are nearest, notice one throws a cloak around himself to achieve that effect. Thomas recalls one of the other men still conscious, a scraggly-bearded type, from the village of the hootenanny! The man levels his finger at Barky [makes 15 on Will] and the southron is stopped still by Hold Person. Then the caster rushes for the rear door! Belmont risks being ambushed by an unseen foe and dances around tables and slumped patrons, hacking the fleeing man as he gets to the doorway. Oswald moves to support Vert, flanks the wiry rogue, and delivers a solid halberd-blow. Thomas shifts his feet to do the same and smashes his mace in as well. The man staggers.
Round 2: “You bastard!” Edgar yells and slams all three Magic Missiles into the rogue, who drops. The scraggly-bearded man weighs up his options and lifts his hands: “I yield!” He grins up at Belmont. The paladin scowls and delivers a huge armored punch that sends the man reeling towards the waiting templars. Oswald looks about, spots stairs up, and heads up. Thomas attempts to Dispel the Hold Person, but it does not succeed [rolls a 4, on a not-good chance to begin with]. Then he too looks about.
Round 3: Edgar loops around to bring Vert with him then heads upstairs too. Ahead, Oswald’s powerful shoulders fill the narrow passage along the top floor. Below, there’s no obvious sign of a trapdoor. Belmont too reaches the stair and lays on hands, restoring Vert to some extent. Oswald kicks shabby doors open, finding no-one. Thomas searches toward the bar [19 on Spot]. Sure enough there’s a stained trap.
“Cellar trapdoor here!”
Round 4: Edgar asks Belmont to finish healing Vert then send him to Barky on Protect duty. He leaps not-at-all nimbly off the stair to get around them. and heads over to Barky so as to mark where he wants his pup. A templar enters to begin the clean-up. Belmont tops up the healing provided to Vert then heads up to Oswald, while Vert joins Barky. Thomas keeps a half-foot on the trap and casts Detect Magic.
Hextorite evil has a couple of franchises on this street
Over the next minute or so Oswald reports nothing at all upstairs – barring what a detailed search may find – and Thomas finds no invisible lurkers. But he does find an empty and sizable cellar. Barky is willing to leap down and explore, but he pauses… then announces:
“This isn’t the strong headquarters kind of place I scouted the other week.”
“Quick! To the other place!”
“Let’s grab some of that bar to use as a ram – the real door is really solid!”
A detachment of templars see to scraggly-beard and the lock-down, and the remaining eight men help the adventurers carry the torn-out bar-top a short way down the road to where the massive and solidly-locked HQ is located!
Belmont casts Protection from Evil on Barky and himself, and Thomas casts Protection from Chaos on Barky.
The assault on HQ
The HQ is a solid three-story affair. There are no ground-floor windows, but the architecture opens toward the roof. The ram begins smashing at the door! Edgar hurls his rope-end up and Animates the rope to tie itself off. Barky makes ready to climb, rearranging his greatsword.
“If he does that, he’s the only one there” – Thomas
“I can climb too” – Edgar
Barky swarms up the rope then waits at a skylight for entry to be effected below. Edgar throws up Shield. Thomas casts Bless. With a noise of locks sundering and a cheer, the door collapses. Barky smashes the skylight and drops into a stairwell head.
“I was going to use Sleep, but I could start with Fireball” – Edgar
“Well why not” – Thomas
Bright fire blooms momentarily from inside. Edgar has a limited field of view, and cannot see any figure down what appears to be an interior passage, with part-open doorways along it.
Barky sweeps his greatsword around, but the stairwell, leading down, is unoccupied. There are a lot of rooms, all doors open as far as he can see. A master bedroom is on the street side and he heads on in. Edgar walks to the rope, calling “Protect” and signaling Vert to Thomas. He begins climbing.
The other three head into the burning passage. Looking about, little can be seen. It appears that the fireball has ignited at least the nearest two rooms. Oswald and Thomas notice that they have walked into a Silence zone.
Barky checks the master bedroom swiftly [Spot 14] finding Dwarf clothing in a rapidly-picked-through wardrobe. He heads to check the other rooms, senses alert.
Edgar now has enough play below him, and orders the rope: “coil!” – This provides him a moving ‘step’ on which he can keep walking up.
The three on the ground floor explore doors as far as the stairwell. The Silence only occupies a limited zone, so by the time Belmont climbs towards the next level he is clear. The only unexplored area – in this very quick scan – is the rear of the floor, reached by way of a door. Vert sticks with Thomas, who glares about suspiciously for air movements in the smoke.
Barky takes a look through the other doorways, rooms, seeing nothing, and heads down stairs. He drops sloshes of oil behind him. On the next floor, he sees bunking arrangements and a watch-post. Belmont sees him, from below. Oswald and Thomas are not far behind Belmont. Belmont coordinates areas of this second floor for them to search, adding “there’s quite a lot of fire, down below.”
The trail leads away
As they search, Edgar joins them, having roped down to the landing safely once his animated rope has carried him up safely. All that they have found is a voided strongbox of great size. Flames are licking below them by this time. Reluctantly, they give up on the option to search the rear of the HQ, kick out a window and use Edgar’s doubled rope to descend the 30 or so feet safely, lowering Vert in the usual fashion.
Barky looks about, casting for tracks, and orienting himself to the way the docks lie. [12 on Track]
“They may have escaped underground…”
“Once the fire is out we can figure that out.”
“The good thing is they won’t be using that again.”
And under the wharf…
Guided by instinct more than any track, Barky heads to the nearest wharf – one that looks onto a grimy waterway leading from a basin-like boat-harbour – and stoops over. Edgar throws up Dancing Lights and supports the southron’s legs so that he can stick his head right over and look underneath the wharf. He doesn’t see anything specific – but he does see enough to notice a small eddy of current, as though a sewer had an outfall here. Looking north back up the basin he sees a stronger eddy.
Keeping the lights bobbling, Edgar heads along the docks looking for knowledgeable watermen, aiming to bargain for a vessel. [20 on Convince] With silver coins chiming a friendly note he immediately finds a helpful boatman.
The man describes a party in a boat, heading north into the old under-river. As well as a Dwarf that stood at the bow, he saw southrons, and a huge strongbox rode amidships. [And given our past past experience, Thomas tips Belmont the wink to scan the witness for evil!]
“To the boat!”
The man mentions the old river, feeder side-streams, and a footpath alongside it. And as the comrades are propelled by the sure oar-strokes, the session ends.
Threads still in play:
- St Cuthbert must be briefed about the mission, and the fate of Olidammara, and the corrupt watch.
- Other Hextorite properties in Realmsgate (the House of Many Doors brothel, and the gamester’s paradise Garden View, seem gangster-controlled) will bear investigating
- It may be redundant now, but any information Bertran has gathered on these arrangements and the corrupt Watch needs to be heard.