[The story so far]
Session 02 - From road, to inn, to gully... via financial disagreement
After a night disturbed by the howling of wolves, and a pep talk from Berignon to reassure Bregans that smiting the evil and chaotic was an acceptable action for a cleric of Alathea, the party set out again along the king's road towards the city of Corcelle through a very foggy and miserably wet spring morning.
After a few hours of uneventful travel (apart from spotting a large and well-used track that headed to the North of the road) they came upon a large coaching inn, The Four Javelins, and after some discussion about whether they should press on or if the owners might be in league with the bandits who ambushed them, they pulled into the yard (empty apart from a gaudily painted wagon) and were welcomed warmly by the landlord, Alleyne. Leaving Staedtler to guard the carts, the others went inside and settled themselves by the fire, eventually [seriously, this was worse than cash-strapped students arguing over how to split a restaurant bill!] agreeing to pay the bargain price of 2gp each for room and board for the night.
It was early afternoon, barely past midday, so they ate and drank. Alleyne asked them about their journey but the party had already decided not to mention bandits in the hope of sussing out their host, so the conversation led nowhere [there was a good bit of roleplaying when they smoothed things over after crassly asking if their carts would be safe] except to Staedtler being called in out of the gloom to share in the warmth of a crackling fire and some roast beef and ale [pause for brief 17-yr-old discussion about the merits of bitter over lager].
Meanwhile, Bernard decided to head over and talk to the only other guests (apart from the almost unconscious elderly drunk), four outlandishly dressed types with five places set in front of them: an older man with a pointed black goatee, two very similar looking plump and beardless men, and a middle-aged halfling woman with her arm in a sling. They were arguing when Bernard went over about an accident in rehearsing their performance. They were Bertolac (goatee man), Sarai (halfling), Erdo and Erno (the silent eunuchs). He bought them a drink and chatted away [more good roleplay; they're getting the hang of it, these lads], finding out that they were Bertolac's World Famous Catapult Circus - the eunuchs would launch the halfling into the air and then catch her. Usually.
A short walk up to a lightning-blasted oak later, and the party made short work of the two goblins who had been hiding in the tree, although Bernard wasted his Magic Missile in the process. They then headed to the ravine and peered over the edge. A narrow, crude but sturdy looking rope bridge spanned the gap of approx. forty feet, about sixty feet below them. They decided to lower Staedtler on the end of a rope in the hope he could reach the bridge and then follow him down. Securing the rope with some iron spikes, they got underway [STR and DEX checks as the route down was described]. Unfortunately, Staedtler was left dangling about twenty foot above the bridge, below which was a long and obscure drop. He climbed back up, nearly losing his grip just at the top [equalled the STR check I asked for to climb, causing a gasp from the others, so I gave a DEX check to see if he could swing himself over the top, which he passed - plenty of character investment!]. Finally they thought to check the tree itself and discovered steps leading down into darkness.
Lighting a torch, they headed down a crudely cut staircase, hewn into the limestone, emerging into a goodly-size room. It was empty and unadorned except for a mural at the far end. Stylized figures in robes stretched out their hands towards a central pit, the detail of which had been mostly scraped off, deliberately gouged and defaced. Only a... face(?) and a tentacle (?) could be made out. Looking back towards their entrance, they noticed another opening leading to another descending stair. This passage had much smoother, dressed stone walls. Torchlight blazing, they were immediately leapt upon by the four goblins who were lying in wait for them as they came out into an impressively carved chamber, decorative stonework covering the walls.
|This is one of the excellent Dyson's Logos maps "Goblin gully"|
NB - I have erased the portion across the bridge because the party haven't got there yet!
The ambush was effective, with both Jean and Bernard (who had rather rashly been in the lead) taking wounds [Bernard reduced to 1HP - in fact I thought he'd died when I misread a dice!], before both stumbling or dropping their weapons as they reeled back [both of them rolled 1s for their attacks!!!]. Fortunately their comrades stepped in and dealt with the threat, despite Staedtler hitting himself in the leg with his own sword at one point [another 1], felling three and cutting down the fourth as he tried to run and jump through the mouth of the wall-spanning bronze monstrous face that covered the end of the chamber. pausing only to loot some gold from the corpses of the goblins they advanced on the mouth. When a pair of arrows sped through the opening, fortunately missing them all, they all hurried forward and paused either side of the face.
The plan was simple: Staedtler would go through first, holding his shield up in front to take any arrows and then Pierre and Bregans would pile through afterwards, with Jean peeking through the mouth, crossbow at the ready. However...
Up ahead, at the far end of this small room was an opening surrounded by a carved doorway through which the grey light of day was seeping - they had reached the rope bridge...
Post Session Pondering
The players were much more into the roleplaying aspects this week, conversing with NPCs, buying them drinks while trying to get information, thinking about the threat to Berignon, trying to piece together information about the spider tattooed brigands. There were a couple of near-death experiences for the players, but they did learn that dangling off a rope over a deep chasm is dangerous (duh!) and that the tank should go first (also duh!).
I probably let the "who will pay for Berignon's room" discussion go on too long, but the argument was couched in character terms so I felt that they were developing their characters and it would be worth it; I think it was. I'm also glad that I sent each player a brief email detailing the events, or lack thereof, from their overnight watch around the campfire. All five of them referred back to [wolves howling/desire to spend the next night in an inn/renewed calm at a fighting role/concern that the spider sign might be the mark of an evil cult] in the course of the session, without just reading it out.
We've got a week off now, so the adventure will resume in two weeks time. Hopefully I'll get some painting done as my hobbying between now and then.