November 26th, 2017
Ahenobarbus the Lacerator, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Desmond McDermott, human wizard (255 points)
Hayden the Unnamed Knight, human knight (260 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (352 points)
We had a discussion of "low-level" areas where starting PCs could explore, given a lack of players for this session. The Caves of Chaos came up, and so the group voted to go there. Mo accompanied them, mostly because his player wanted to run him this session and not bust out one of his backup guys. So the PCs made the trip to Falcon's Keep from Stericksburg, two weeks all told, and then to the Caves of Chaos.
They pretty much set out right away after the previous delve to get there, so they didn't get any rumors. They couldn't afford the Meeposian brothers, or anyone else, since they'd need to pay several weeks of wages for their help. Raggi was around but couldn't be bothered - he long ago decided he was done with the caves.
Once they arrived they headed straight for the Caves of Chaos, after briefly discussing going to the "Caves of the Unknown."
They arrived at the caves safely, but after some terrible navigation and outdoor survival decisions by Mo. Tired and foot-dragging, they decided that risking Mo's skill at hiding them to rest was a poor choice and went directly in. They chose the bottom left-hand cave out of the few they could clearly see from their position, after rejecting going for the top-most one. Unwittingly, they exactly mimicked the choice from our first session - none of the players today were playing at that time.*
The PCs made it into the caves, and chose to "always go left." So they did, and quickly ran into three waiting orange-skinned goblins with spears who lurked in a room waiting for them. They goblins sprang the ambush and attacked - and died in about as long as it takes to read that sentence. All three fell but not before they yelled "Bree yark!" really loud. The PCs found a number of spears (like, five dozen), a table, two casks of water, and little else. They didn't even bother to loot the goblins, and just moved on. Sounds of bare feet behind them and a door slamming ahead convinced them to move in further.
They went up two flights of stairs and found a closed door. Mo tried to force it, but failed due to a bar. So he crowbarred it open.
Out came some spears, which he dodged (and which hit no one, ultimately, as Desmond dove for it to avoid them.)
Mo yelled in Common for them to give the PCs treasure as tribute. They didn't understand them, but thanks to Intimidation and a naked (but attractive) barbarian clad only in war paint and a strategically placed spy horn hanging from his belt, they just stood stock-still. They readied weapons - five males, maybe ten females, and a dozen or so young. The young began to cry. The PCs waited as Desmond worked on Mass Sleep. Ahenobarbus tried to intimidate them as well, and they PCs moved in and backed them off. Desmond cast his spell, putting one male and one female to sleep - oh, right, hobgoblins are resistant to magic. The PCs attacked the still-standing males and killed them in short order. The females backed off to protect the young, and the PCs closed the door, barred it as they could, and then just moved cautiously around them. Ahenobarbus suggested tossing Alchemist's Fire on the women and kids ("Hey, that's how I was raised in the Barca family!") but Mo pointed out that if he did that he's crack his skull open. Ahenobarbus felt that Mo was right, it was a good idea to just move on. They did so.
They eventually found a side tunnel leading to a torture chamber, with three victims chained to the wall and two hobgoblins standing near a recently-extinguished fire. They threw spears and drew axes. The PCs waited, but then one threw an axe. So they charged. One of the hobgoblins swung his axe at Mo, another drew a hot poker from the fire. But they were quickly slain. The party saw the prisoners were an orc, a hobgoblin, and a human - but all were throat-cut, just before they'd arrived. All were tortured, especially the human. The orc must have expired earlier because he was throat-cut but little blood had come out, so he was probably gone already.
Mo smashed the skulls of the fallen with the hot poker. He wasn't happy about torture.
The PCs rested for a while, ignoring the clear signs that they'd alerted everyone. Soon, though, they heard noises. They ignored them, and waited for the inevitable assault.
Until they smelled smoke. Mo realized they were trying to smoke out the party!
They moved up the hallway and found a barricade of a table and some casks, with a bonfire behind it, and crates beyond that. When Mo looked out two crossbow bolts zipped toward him. He dodged back. They decided to attack it.
Mo moved forward with Desmond behind him. Amusingly, Mo chose to Dodge to avoid the incoming shots. So he blocked one and the other forced Desmond to hit the dirt. He still managed to get off a Create Water spell to extinguish the fire.
Ahenobarbus used Acrobatics to cross the barricade and face the hobgoblins on the other side, two with axes and shields. They shielded the crossbowmen from the PCs. Soon, though, Hayden nailed one with a javelin, Mo hit one crossbowman with a thrown axe, and the group moved up. Desmond created an Explosive Acid Ball and held onto that as Hayden threw another javelin into an axeman and dropped him. Mo and Ahenobarbus quickly attacked the others and dropped down. The crossbowmen fled, some spear-armed hobgoblins moved, and in a short brawl they went down. The PCs set Desmond on guard as they bandaged up some minor wounds and then followed after Desmond threw his acid spell uselessly to get rid of it.
They moved on and found the skull-lined exit cave beyond a door, as well as a tunnel and stairs. Up the stairs they found a room with a glowing fire in a fireplace and a barricade of trestle tables. Deciding it was clearly a crossbow ambush, Desmond lobbed an Explosive Acid Ball over the tables. It went long, but still managed to splash the defenders. There were screams and cries. Mo and Ahenobarbus ran up, looked over . . . and saw acid-splashed women and kids. Oops.
They left after realizing they'd just attacked helpless non-combatants.
They found a guardroom (but no guards) and a burned-out armoury. See Secrets located a secret door, however, and they passed through that and then another.
Beyond that door was a guardroom. Mo backed off after spears came out at him and readied his weapons. The hobgoblins in the other room got ready and then shoved the door shut, yelling the whole time.
So they PCs stacked up and Mo shoved the door open, managing to move it and two hobgoblins that tried to stop him. He got attacked for his trouble but ran in the room and into close-combat with a hobgoblin, trying to knock him over with his shield. He met two axemen, two macemen, and two dueling halberdiers. Two crossbowmen shot and then retreated, hitting Desmond and wounding him (an accident of hitting the wrong target) and Hayden (bouncing off his armor despite a bodkin point.) The other PCs moved in. Mo used Cleaving Strike and put three of them down, two with serious skull shots that floored them. (Incidentally, he was rolling well on defenses, well on "to hit" rolls - routinely well under 10 - but rubbish on damage, once rolling a 5 on 4d. Still, on a skull shot, his minimum will kill most fodder outright.) Ahenobarus moved in and killed one or two, and Hayden killed the others. They started looting while Hayden guarded the two doors out. Good thing, as one door opened and two crossbow shots came in. No one was hurt, but Mo and Ahenobarbus rushed into the other room. They managed to kill two warriors, two females (one Ahenobarbus slashed in the back as she fled to a nearby door) and one of the crossbowmen.
They decided to stand pat there - Hayden guarding the other door out of the first room, Ahenobarbus and Mo the second room, and Desmond would loot. Desmond went to work.
After a minute or so the other door opened - and out rushed four big female hobgoblins with maces ("the East German Swim Team of hobgoblins") backed by, clearly, the chief. Hayden fought off the females and whistled for help. Mo and Ahenobarbus came running.
But then the chief threw an axe at Mo and rolled a 3, hitting him in the hand and falling just short of enough to cut it off! Mo dropped his morningstar. The chief stepped out of sight of everyone but Hayden.
Mo shield-checked one of the females right after Hayden badly wounded her. Ahenobarbus moved in and sliced her down.
Desmond, who is pretty badly hard of hearing, didn't notice and kept looting. (He'd stay oblivious the whole fight, which just cemented his awesomeness in the eyes of the other players.)
They quickly cut down the other females, and the chief barked in Common at Hayden, "Human, fight me!" Hayden said, "Sure, alright." But the chief backed behind the door so people could only engage him one-on-one. Ahenobarbus tried but couldn't penetrate his plate breastplate to any real degree, only lightly wounding him. He backed off and let Mo in, who tried to shield-bash the chief's hand. It was blocked easily. He backed off. Ahenobarbus moved in again, parried the chief's blows, and then stabbed him in the face with a Deceptive Attack after a feint. He hit and inflicted a major wound - and the chief was knocked cleanly out. He fell backward and down.
They took off his helmet and cut off his head after Ahenobarbus made sure of the wounded with thrusts to the vitals.
They heard some footsteps - one pair of booted feet and some bare feet slapping on the floor. They let whoever it was go.
They searched the bodies, and alerted Desmond - "Hey, you dragged those guys in from the other room? Nice." They searched the rooms. Ahenobarbus sat on the chief's stool, which had space for the four females around it and a human-style chair with a cushion on it with two kneeing cushions next to it. He quickly spotted a hidden throwing axe set for easy grabbing. They took that - like the first, it was a fine-quality throwing axe.
Desmond took a nap on the chief's bed, and they slowly and thoroughly searched the room, put out the fire and searched behind that, and looted the obvious loot. Finding what they could find, they used See Secrets to no avail.
They rested more and headed out.
After this, they found a storeroom, and Ahenobarbus and Mo proceeded to knocked open a keg of ale and drink. Mo held it up for Ahenobarbus to drink while standing on his head. Ahenobarbus quickly went past his limit and was getting pretty drunk. But they moved on further, noting nothing worth carrying but much worth recovering given some carts or porters.
They found another secret door down a hallway, and noted it led to a storeroom - this one guarded by goblins. The goblins saw their lights, then Mo, then ran as he yelled them and posed menacingly. "Based on my knowledge of Galoob, all goblins are cowards" he noted. "And lecherous" someone else noted. They realized the hobgoblins were taking the better stuff from the goblins via a secret door.
At this point they decided to leave, not wanting to engage the goblins uselessly. They got back to the main door and headed out, and made their way to the keep.
Poor navigation by Mo meant they arrived late, and got stuck outside overnight in the drizzling rain. They all caught bad colds except Mo.
We ended it there, and they bought rations and planned to head back to Stericksburg, feeling like they'd had a positive delve.
* Hayden the Unknown Knight's player ran Fuma the thief starting in Session 9. He realized today that although Mo and Ahenobarbus are run by people who've played with me longer - since High School and somewhere in the 2000s during my last game - he was the ranking player at the session for this campaign.
We learned a bit about Desmond - he's in his 50s, married, and retired - probably from the lay priesthood, maybe something else. His wife wants him out of the house on weekends and/or he's adventuring so he doesn't have to help organize the shed or clean the house. Probably both. It's why Gort was adventuring, after all. Now that Desmond's age and family situation are established, we've got all sorts of shanannegins we can get into with his PC.
It was interesting to go back to the Caves again. I'm not sure what goal, exactly, the PCs had, but "fight monsters we can mop the floor with" was part of it and they did that. They mashed the hobgoblins badly and killed the chief. Loot was good, thanks to selling the chief's broadsword, plate breastplate, mail and fine throwing axes. Some other coins and jewelry helped as well, netting a mild profit for the group. They will probably delve next out of Stericksburg.