Last session ended with the capture of all PCs by the slavers and the orcs.
One of my players (the one running Sir Torsten Trueblade) decided he didn't like the paladin, and gave him up to play the half-orc Sheliak instead. Thus Torsten, now an NPC, ended up bleeding to death in the pit he was tossed into.
In addition to Sheliak, I had a sixth player join my game, running a character he built, a halfling rogue named Stubs.
The group started divided up in the cells, with the new PCs having been there a few days longer than the characters from last session. The cleric, Cora, was able to pray for spells (quietly!) and do some healing, to revive and heal lethal damage on some of the characters. Meanwhile the group talked to the other NPCs and got some information about the layout of the place and the creatures around.
They decided to stage a breakout before the shift change would bring them to the mines. The halfling rogue snuck out, heading for the room where their gear was stowed; rather than waiting for the halfling to return with their loot, the others started climbing out, and this caused the orcs to sound an alarm. Moving quickly, the PCs headed into the loot room, doing their best to barricade it and retrieve some of their gear.
Most of the orcs from the barracks engaged the PCs in battle, many falling to ranged attacks; one, however went off to let the orc ranger know of the breakout and to get out his trollhounds.
After killing the orcs (and having a couple NPCs drop--the elf sorceress and Hugin the fighter), they started motivating the commoners to try climbing out and fleeing, and some of them slowly worked their way past the portculli toward the exit.
About this time, the trollhounds and their master showed up. They hacked through the door (which had been barred against them), and braved some fire oil to engage Cendrine the fighter and Sheliak in battle. Meanwhile Minus had come out of his room, and threw his longspear at Cora, taking her down with one hit.
However, while the trollhounds did in Sheliak and Cendrine, their fight on a plank over a pit resulted in most of them falling into that pit; another one failed a Jump check (I rolled terribly), and also fell in! Their master, more concerned with them than the PCs, focused on getting them out. Meanwhile, the commoners bum rushed the minotaur; while one or two dropped from his gore attacks, the others grappled en masse, and managed to establish a hold and throw him in a pit! Go commoners!
Sadly, many of them fell in the next area to the six orc guards. Still, they delayed the orcs enough for the PCs to arrive and kill the non-archers, then make a break for the stairs lugging Cora and the elf enchantress NPC (who ended up dying from her wounds due to not stabilizing).
So the characters managed to escape, but at a terrible price, losing two of their own, plus two of the three more prominent NPCs (the gnome illusionist/rogue did make it out). About six commoners also made it out.
I had already decided that the slavers on level 1 were off slaving and recruiting, should they win free, so they were not molested as they escaped the Castle Whiterock grounds and rode for Cillamar.
Several days passed while they regrouped, recruited two new members (Darsus, the last pregen, and a sorcerer named Kory).
They then returned and decided to take on the tower first. Sneaking up the back side of the hill with Climb checks, they took on the rust spider on the ground floor (with Darsus losing all his metal gear). Rather than take on the birds they decided to rest and keep a lookout. Late that night, the slaver on the top floor lowered his rope ladder to head back down to the bottom in a shift change; the PCs noted this and started attacking him as he hurried down. Despite some bad rolls, they managed to finish him with ranged attacks in the dark (it was helping that he carried a lantern to light his way). Slavers at the bottom heard their fellow's cries of woe and went out to see what little they could, then ducked back inside.
Not wanting to stick around in the face of an unknown number of assailants, the characters retreated to base camp and set up observers on the far side of the lake. I had decided that the area was simply too hot for the slavers, especially with losing their leaders, and had them saddle up their horses and ride out, not to return.
Seeing a half dozen slavers return, the characters returned to the ruins and explored them a bit, avoiding the hornets but taking out the giant mantis and the surviving blood hawks in the tower. They failed to spot the hidden cache of lore, the loot in the waterside ruins, or the stairs leading down into the water.
So at the end of the session, the group has managed to escape from captivity, kill a few orcs (but none of the major ones) and pretty much clear level one. Also, three or four of them managed to advance to 2nd level.
Skull count for the session: 3 (including the abandoned paladin who bled to death). Total skull count to date: 4.
Author: Mother of All Encounter Tables; Bits of Magicka series
Coauthor: Rappan Athuk Reloaded
Castle Whiterock Kills: x10