This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. We were down Deanda this session, and Slavla for half of the session, but I think it still went well. The current party:
- Deanda, Elf Druid
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter
Half-expecting that the bear would lead them to it's cache of honey jars, the party followed dutifully regardless. It would seem that their trust was not in vain however as something cried out in the tongue of giants, "Hey Mammy! When's dinner?!" Our heroes had come upon a pair of buildings - a barn and a farmhouse.
No sooner did they crest the hill however then a deformed ogrekin came barreling over hill towards them with a warcry that sent nearby birds flying away in a frenzy.
Though the ogrekin were only simple inbred half-breeds, it hardly meant that they weren't capable fighters, which our heroes very quickly found out. The first one went down simply enough, and the farm fell quiet. Almost like the ogrekin were... waiting for them. Maybe dinner hadn't come yet since the food hadn't come to the front door? Only time would tell.
Choosing to head to the barn first instead of the farm house, the heroes quickly found themselves matching swords against three young ogrekin who fought with tooth and claw to protect their distillery. Soon however, the ogrekin were dead, and the party made it's way into the room beyond.
Here however, they were faced with something they weren't quite expecting. In the corners of the room laid two cages where three men were captured. In the center of the room, thick strands of web wound down, forming a cylinder of space up through a huge funnel spider crawled angrily. It's fangs dripping with venom.
The party, vexed by the small catwalk they were moving upon, and the spider's ability to bite those far away from him, almost met their end. Nakor and Shalelu fell victim to the spider's strength-draining poison as Jaime fell through the web to the floor below.
Kikii summoned a giant fiendish centipede and tricked it into serving him as Kraca nimbly made his way onto the web and Nakor's transmutation spells allowed him to land a few powerful blows as well. By the time Slavla caught up to the party, it was too late.
The elven lass Shalelu had fallen to the spider's attacks.
Spurred by their anger at the elf's demise, the heroes rose together to destroy the beast before their Slavla was even able to land a strike.
Nakor soon collapsed due to the poison coursing through his veins sapping the last bit of his strength, and the group agreed that they could continue no further this night. They freed the hostages and learned what they could.
The prisoners apparently were three of the Black Arrows by the names of Jakardros, Kale, and Kaven. Jakardros, the apparent leader, said that his squadron had been on a scouting mission throughout the Kreeg Woods several weeks ago. The common mission had taken longer then it should have as the party had faced a large number of delays for one reason or another, but when they returned - the siege on Fort Rannick was too great.
They tried to retake the Fort, but lost a third of their men in the attempt. The rest of them fled into the Kreeg Wood and were captured by the Graul Ogrekin and brought back here to their homestead. Since, they've been killed and tortured. They weren't sure if any other Arrows remained in the house proper. The Black Arrows seemed like competent fighters and said that if equipment was provided, they would offer what assistance they could.
The party then brought Jakardros to Shalelu's body, and the man broke down into tears. As a sign of good faith, the party offered to bring back the elf with a raise dead scroll. He graciously accepted their offer.
After a tearful yet awkward reunion, the party was ready to sleep.
But sleep was not peaceful.
In flew the barn doors during the second shift as Mammy Graul and her many mirror image copies flew into the barn in a rage. She quickly flew to the rafters pelting the sleeping adventurers with spells. With angry arcane words she stole Slavla's sight and laid the ground thick with grease.
Kikii summoned a fiendish ape to cling to the wall alongside her, while the rest of the party attacked the crazed woman with what ranged weapons they had. Kraca soon towered over his companions as Nakor cast an enlarge person spell on the man, allowing the monk to reach the lofty woman. After an exhausting battle, the woman finally fell - bouncing harmlessly of the dwarf's shoulder.
With Mammy Graul dead, and a newly improved party of ten people (including Kibb the bear), it was simple enough to enter the home. The party made their way through dozens of traps, fought off young annoying ogrekin, and cleared the upper floors of any other dangers.
The house itself was an obscene menagerie of severed body parts and massacre. As they continued onward, it seemed like every room contained yet another display of how heartlessly evil these ogrekin were - making it all the sweeter while they were fighting them.
Making their way downstairs however, they weren't quite ready for what they found. Inhabiting one of the rooms (beyond a hallway that seemed for all intents and purposes to be HEAVILY trapped, and yet was not trapped at all), a Tendriculous had taken up residence.
The creature seemed to be a huge plant with razor sharp teeth and deadly tentacles, though Kiikii was able to point out that it was in no ways like a normal plant.
It lashed out at Kraca and caught up the dwarf in it's teeth before swallowing him whole!
The party tried a variety of ideas to rescue the poor imprisoned dwarf but in the end decided that they just needed to beat the thing into submission so they could free their friend.
On the battle went, with the Tendriculous grappling with yet another giant centipede that Kiikii had summoned. Nakor joined the fray as he grew in size as well, while the Black Arrows circled the thing and got off as many attacks as they could. Slavla poked and prodded with his "pointy stick" as well.
No one could really figure out how a Tendriculous got into the Graul's basement until another Ogrekin appeared proclaiming "What're you doin' to my brother?!" Strange... but they'd seen stranger. The battle raged until finally the last of the Graul family lay dead. Kraca was saved and revenge had been served. The Graul clan were dead.
Leaving the gruesome farm behind them, the band of adventurers made their way back to the main road. "Fort Rannick," Jakardros explained, "is just ahead. We should rest for the night and attack at dawn. Kale here is a practiced cartographer and should be able to draw up a map of the Fort for you. We can discuss strategy in the morning. Until then, I think we've all earned a good night's rest." With that, our heroes turned in - excited for the battle to come tomorrow.
The only sounds at the campground as sleep enveloped our adventurers were the happy stories that Jakardros and Shalelu shared of her mother and his love...
- - -
DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)
What the party seemed to enjoy
- This was a great session for my group because they love battles! Even though not all of these battles were as easy, I think it gave them a great introduction into some of the more powerful fighting challenges they are going to start facing. Things like flying enemies, enemy spellcasters (who can cast blindness), enemies with regeneration... It had them fight taking a lot of things into consideration, now that their enemies have tricks up their sleeves. I think the battles went really well, especially the one with the spider and the Tendriculous.
- Having a party of 10 people storm a tiny house... while it can be crowded... it's also awesome.
What I could have done better
- Running the monsters and all five NPC's was too much. For the siege on Fort Rannick I am writing up each of the NPC's for use by the players. This way, everyone will be playing their own character, along with one NPC. I think people will really enjoy this, I just didn't have it prepped for this particular session because the last group I ran it with didn't save the prisoners until the very end.
I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.
- Everyone got to shine individually in the combats. Our group really works well together in fights, and everyone plays an equal role. Since this was a highly combat-based session since it was essentially a "dungeon crawl", there were no real roleplaying encounters where a player got to shine. I think this was fine though, especially after the very low roleplaying first session.