We started off in good Aldori fashion – arguing with each other. In this case it was Merrowyn’s belief that were we ever to take the Hooktongue Slough, the first thing that would need to go is the Slough! Burn out the swamp. Unfeasible? Drain it?
Elara was quick to jump in defense of leaving nature alone, and Olivetta, partial to swamps as well, thought it was quite nice as is. A perfect home for a would be witch!
Elara tried casting speak with animal to see if she could learn anything about the people in Fort Drulev. Mostly she got snakes trying to bite her (“Yeah, I’ve got information, just come a little closer and I’ll whisper it in your ear”), birds with no time for her (“nope, sorry, can stop to talk”) and one swamp panther who just said “you shouldn’t be here. it is’t a good place”. When asked about Lizardmen, the panther replied there were two-leggers in the swamp not worth the trouble. We figured out what he meant soon after.
Before we broke from this gods forsaken swamp, Elara took eagle form and set out and scout Fort Drulev. The city appeared at quite less than full occupancy. For every fishing boat on the lake, three were left in the docks. There was also no livestock to speak of. No horses, or animals or any kind. Very few travelers on the road, and those that were seen all moved with a sense of urgency. The wall around the city is only 3/4 built.
Meanwhile, without our druid to guide us, the rest of us walked right into a boggard outpost. Two boggards way, way up in the trees called out an alarm and then started attacking us. The shot poisoned blow darts as well as cast an entangle spell on us to keep us from getting up the tree.
Apparently Tad speaks boggard! So we asked him to try and parley with them. Th hurled back insults about his heritage! And shot more poisoned darts!
Both Miquela and Merrown tried to climb up them but but both a) it was taking too long and b) the both fell out of the trees!
Olivetta cast a glitterdust spell to reveal one of them in the tree and Miquela started firing on it with her bow.
Merrowyn got pissed off and started hacking at the giant eucalyptus tree with her greatword. Now… one might think it takes hours to cut down a giant tree. But if you have a raging barbarian on one side of it, and a giant wolf gnawing on the other… it’s impressive how fast you can start worrying it’s occupant 150′ up in the air! As his tree shook, he leapt to the other tree where his cohort was. Only to be shoved out of that tree and fall 150′ to the ground. Miquela tried to catch him, but all that she ended up doing was being splattered by a dead boggard.
The second one, seeing which way the wind was blowing, leapt from his tree to the lake and cast feather fall on his way down. To which Merrowny and Miquela used to pepper him with arrows. Ouch! Miquela could have finished him off but again we wanted to try and make peace if we could. She held her arrow and Merrowyn leapt into the water herself to catch him. She caught a trident in the chest for her efforts but got a hold of the bugger (bugger boggert) and they went into the drink. Oliveta used her slumber hex to put the boggard warden sleep.
Triumphant over two!
Our victory was short lived. The next moment a whole M’botuu village of boggards crested the hill. Six more boggard wardens astride six giant frogs. Behind them a whole village of boggards surrounding their high priest and king. He croaked commands to attack. Tad flicked his throat to croak back “Paley!”. The king cast Flame Strike on Miquela. It was on!
The battle started rough. It took Merrown some time to get out of the water and during that time a whole bunch of wardens stabbed Miquela, Oliveta, and Tad with their Tridents. Elara was still in the distance, seeing the pillar of flame and trying to catch up!
Olievtta was able to heal some of Miquela’s wounds and then did a think of beauty. She cast a lightning bolt on the boggard king and in doing so clear a 10′ wide path right two him.
Miqueala was in her element. Enlarged earlier by Olivetta, she was swinging around two longswords the size of greatswords and cutting up frongs and frogmen with equal aplomb!
Merrowyn took advantage of the opening and charged the king. She discovered a few things.
- He had a lot of magical protections. Without a flanking ally he was darn hard to hit!
- He could and did channel negative energy multiple times in a round! Many, many hit points of damage later, he still had another trick,
- He could and did cast slay living, touch her, and brink her right to the brink of death.
Like, literally the brink. Merrowyn had 1 hit point left (of 109), had one more round of rage, and after that, without magical healing she would fall down and die. Not be bleeding, be straight up dead. Miquela charged in and hacked at the king as well. Merrowyn could have retreated, sought healing from Oliveta and surely survived, but in her moment of indecision she felt a light on her from above and the presence of someone, or someones, watching. Like all times she considers fleeing, this was a test from Gorum. Or something like that.
She screamed, she hacked, she buried her sword into the boggards chest, then she fell over, drew a healing potion from her bandoleer, quaffed it (thanks hero points), and passed out bleeding. But not dead. Yay! She could almost sense a “grunt” form Gorum, and a 3rd party saying “I told you so”.
Now that we had basically destroyed their entire civilization and sent the remaining boggards into the swamps, we plundered. LIKE YOU DO!
From the wardens:
- 8 Masterwork Tridents
- 8 Masterwork Handaxes
- 16 potions of Cure Serious Wounds (CL 12)
- 8 x Hide Armor +1
From the king:
- Hide Armor +2
- +1 Icy Burst Morninstar
- 3 potions of Cure Moderate Wounds (CL 12)
- Potion of Sanctuary (CL 12)
- Masterwork light wooden shield
- Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds (CL12) with 24 charges
- Wand of Poison (CL12) with 9 charges
- Unholy symbol of Gogthu
- Phylactery of Unholiness
- 56 Platinum pieces
- 1287 Gold pieces
- 2019 Silver pieces
- 872 Copper pieces
- 5 black opals (worth 200gp each)
- 10 gold bracelets with animals motifs (worth 25gp each)
- 12 gold ingots from Mivon (250 GP each)
- A cask with 3 x elixir of swimming
- Harp of charming
- One captive Bog Strider, who though intelligent couldn’t speak any language we did, so we just set him free, with the gift of one of the gold bracelets we had taken.
An eventful camp
That night in camp, while Miquela was on watch she heard a noise. A moan. Was it a swamp creature, some undead spirit? It happened again. It was close, in our camp! What was it.
Oh, apparently Merrowyn having the sexiest sexy times with Marcus in her dreams. Apparently Marcus’ won a bet with Gorum and that was his reward. FOR SIX HOURS.
Nobody could sleep (except Merrowyn) all night.
In the morning everyone was awkward except Merrowyn who was reconsidering swamp living. She had the best night of sleep in her life.
Then Miquela burst out with the truth in one quick-as-she-could description of the night.
Then everyone, including Merrowyn, was awkward for a good while longer.
Making our way into Fort Drulev
Once we broke from the swamp we immediately started looking for locals. People in outskirts of the city that we could talk to in order to gain information about Fort Drulev, and find a way inside without arousing suspicion.
We didn’t spot anyone working in fields, but we did spy a camp full of travelers. We approached with open hands, and after passing around some of our wine and a few healing potions for the sick, we gained some of their trust. The group was a band of refugees who fled from Pitax, led by a sister and brother pair Durina and Arcadi. They were merchants who knew they would be trumped up on false charges and executed if they tried to call their loans with King Irovetti, performers who made a satire of King Irovetti and were going to be hung for it, and worshipers of the river god Hanspur, who is not the god worshiped by King Irovetti, and would probably be executed for their heresy.
Notice a pattern here. King ass clown is getting our our list of rulers unfit to rule.
The problem for these travelers is “what to do now”. They had originally traveled to the south and met a hydra! It killed 6 of their men and forced the to retreat. North is Fort Drulev which they barely avoided but were told by one good farmer that took them in, that people going in don’t come out and that they should avoid notice at all costs. Going east through the slough… we just came out of that and barely made it. Yeah, the boggards were dead, but that probably just means something else would take their place. Westward was unknown, maybe it would be safe, but they would have no destination to head to. At least none that any of us knew of.
After some deliberation about where the could go, we gave them a Swan Boat feather token and told them to head straight across the lake, to it’s north-eastern tip and from there walk east until they found Aldo, who would lead them to Ogelton. It isn’t a guarantee of safety, but it’s a damn better chance then that had any other direction they went. In thanks they gave us the name of the farmer who gave them refuge, Sirote Guzman).
Help on the Farm
At the advice of the refugees we made our way across the western river and north of Drulev in the night, eventually to the farm of Sirote. We noticed that most of the farm was in good working order, but repairs that required outside expertise, such as that of a wheelwright or blacksmith, were not done. We asked for lodging for the night and eventually were given the barn.
In the morning, after Olivetta had mended a cart and some other broken tools (best cantrip ever!) Sirote eventually talked to us. We told him our intent plainly, and though he wasn’t thrilled about Drulev finding out he helped us, he was willing to connect us with his brother-in-law, who had a means of safe passage delivering goods into the city. He also told us of his son Toman, who, idiot that he was, wanted to be conscripted into the army, and he hadn’t seen him since he joined.
Sirote took us on a long walk to his brother-in-law’s house and introduced us to Dario. Merrowyn immediately recognized him as a fellow rogue. It was that slightly unkempt but ready to tussle look and the confident swagger. We stayed with him that night, and for 500 gp he offered to smuggle us into Fort Drulev as dairy farmers. Tad would provide the alchemeical disguises (potions of alter self), and we would make it into the the fort as dirty (male) farmers who had finally saved up enough coin to visit the Velvet Pocket, a tavern and brothel. From there Dario told us to seek out the madam of the house Satinder Morne, cleric of Calistria, goddess of trickery, lust and, revenge. Oh my!
That night Merrowyn and Dario got to their thieves cant’ing and she learned he is a smuggler in the area. He knew a bit about the fort and it’s history. He told us their was a curfew started an hour before sundown and going till an hour after sun up. Staying out after that meant certain death, for Drulev let hill giants roam the streets at night. He didn’t know how many there were, somewhere between three and twelve but he never got a good enough look to know for sure.
Drulev is a minor Roslandic noble whose family has a lot of Issian influence. His wife, the Baroness, is from a prominent Issian house. Man, we just keep loving this guy more and more.
Into the Fort
In the morning we made our way to the fort and noticed several things on our way in.
- The wall isn’t finished, and it hasn’t been worked on recently either. It looks like they just never got around to finishing it.
- There are siege weapons on the wall… but they have been retrofitted to point inward instead of out!
- The soldiers on the walls looked gruff and downtrodden. And not the best either, many of them were green recruits. We estimated 50-60 soldiers, plus another 20 from Pitax who remained.
We made our way to the Velvet Pocket (as surely farmers) and started commingling. Merrowyn, aka Farmer Boris, met a corporal who was drinking with his men. After offering up some drinks, the corporal started talking about how things had gone downhill here. He’d been here since the start, but after Numesti was imprisoned, everything just went to shit. If only they had finished that damn wall! The Tiger Lord would have never been able to take the city!
Merro-, et Farmer Borris told the corporal that he had a brother who joined up, Toman. Immediately the other soldiers snickered and told him that Toman had tried to desert. He was pulled from the wall and burned in punishment. Now he was dying of gangrene in a cot. He wasn’t going to make it much longer. I said I knew my brother was an idiot, but he was still family. Could I make it in to see him before he died. The corporal said decidedly “No”, the Pitaxian soldiers guarding the barracks wouldn’t let me in, in fact, they might string me up for just asking. If he only had the coin for a healing potion, he’d give it to him. My eyes lit up a bit and I handed him a potion of cure moderate wounds. Hopefully Toman will make it!
We had some discussion out of character if it was the blue lipstick or the underboob that was more egregious. No consensus was found.
Either way, Oliveta, aka Farmer Swarthy Pants got Satinder’s attention and asked if he and his friend could go have a private meeting with her.
“Adventurous” she leered and then took Olivetta and Miquela by the arm, padding them down for weapons and coin as she did, and tool them upstairs. Once their the sultry seductress act was dropped immediately. “Okay… what do you two want?”
Since she was straight with us, we dropped the act and confided in her. “We’re here to free Numeski, maybe kill Drulev on our way out.” She gave us a whole bunch of information:
- Drulev is paranoid. He has an escape route out of the castle that leads from the dungeons to the docks. She can get us in the dungeon that way!
- Numesti hasn’t been fed in two weeks. If he’s not dead, he’s going to die soon, and then probably be fed to the hill giants.
- Speaking of hill giants, there are 8 of them. They are kept content with booze and food but supplies of both are running low. Now that all the livestock and horses have been fed to them, she fears the next to go are prisoners and citizens.
- Drulev is an accomplished swordsman and duelist.
- His mistress Lady Quintessa Maria, is leading him around by his dick.
- His wife the Baroness Pavetta Stroon is quite upset by that.
- His wife’s brother Amekus Stroon is a powerful wizard that has recently joined them in the castle. He’s and evil fucker.
- Tomorrow night the Baroness is hosting a party at the castle. If we want a time to break Numesti out, that’s when to do it. However… if we run off, it’s the citizen that are going to pay for it. We’ve got to confront Drulev.
- There are probably five or so nobles attending the court that would side with us if we have Numesti freed.
Satinder agreed to sneak us in and to offer us lodging until then. That night we communicated with Leccio via the sending spell. This is what he told us about Stroon: Evoker, Scholar, Ruthless, Meticulous, Organized, Pragmatic, Well-traveled, demonic familiar, versatile, notable scholar of aberrant oozes!
Awesome. That place is going to be alarm spelled, wizard locked, trapped, filled with some kind of ooze, slime, or jelly, and be run by a violent madman with an evil wizard at his side. Sounds like our kind of party!
Thoughts on this game
We missed last session, and I was quite eager to play. We jumped right in and had a blast from the start. There was less killing dudes and taking their stuff (though with the boggards, there was certainly some of that) but I really enjoyed our circuitous means inside the city. I felt like this was one area where we took the right precautions and it paid off.
The dreaded planning sessions. We started talking about how to get in, what to do with the hill giants, how to fight a powerful wizard, what to do about the effings oozes that are probably in the dungeon. I felt my head starting to spin thinking about all the contingencies.
I know Dennis can read this, but frankly there is no “plan” yet, just ideas, so I don’t think I’m tipping our hand. So far ideas I have in mind include:
- Avoiding detection: Disguise/Alter self, Invisibility, Gaseous Form, Clairvoyance/Dimension Door.
- Detecting traps, oozes, guards, etc: Darkvision, See Invisibility, Detect Magic, Trapfinding, Clairvoyance, Faerie Fire, Glitterdust.
- Moving around: Blink, Dimension Door, Earth Glide (spell and/or by virtue of wild shape), Gaseous Form, Stone Shape, Transmute Stone to Mud, Expeditious Excavation.
- Neutralizing a wizard: Grappling, Black Tentacles, Silence spell, readied Counterspells.
- Protecting ourselves from some of the worst spells: False Life, Protection from Evil, Resist/Protection from energy (but only if we know what element he favors, as Evokers can change them on the fly), Fortune Hex, spells that would break line of sight (Obscuring Mist, Fog Cloud, Darkness, etc).
But there are also out-of-combat considerations to ponder:
- Can we talk our way into the party unnoticed? Could we guise ourselves as guards? as guests?
- If we free Numesti, whats the best way to get him ready to aid us. I figure a sword, a set of +2 hide armor, some clean clothes, a razor to shave with, plenty of healing magic, and a meal are a good start. Will we have time to get him all of these things?
- Who can give us a layout of the castle so we know what to expect? Numesti? A guard? Satinder?
- Can we divide our enemies at all. If Stroon is the Baronesses brother, and she knows Drulev has a mistress, maybe we can avoid fighting a wizard all together if he see’s Drulev as in a lurch?
- Will we have time to speechify the nobles who side with Numesti and get them our our side? If so, should we carry in a bunch of swords and shields to give them something to fight with, presuming they will probably be disarmed at the party.
- There are 8 roaming hill giants. Can we use that to our advantage? We already said that getting them inside the party is both immoral (they are certain to harm innocent people) and likely also dangerous (what if Drulev can command them and now we’re facing both of them). Tad offered to keep the giants distracted for five minutes with a light show, but does that mean we’re going in without him?
There is a major morality factor here as well. It’s pretty standard fare for adventures really. Our most effective tactics (getting the drop on the wizard before he’s ready, letting hill giants rage through a party) are also the most immoral. The compromise will have to be in the form of having as many protective spells as we can cast before the confrontation, and hoping that we can save Numesti and that he can rally others to fight beside us.
To that end, I prepared something that Merrowyn will offer to Miquela. Speeches aren’t really her thing, but she does have enough ranks in Profession (Advocate) to know some pretty damn basic violations of the River Freedoms when she sees them. Composed by Merrowyn the night before and given to Miqeuela to say as we enter the party, hopefully with Numesti at our side.