Castle Whiterock session #1
03/29/08 12:00 to 16:20
Cora Nightwing – Whisper Gnome Rogue
Clank – Warforged Fighter
Charles D. Tancer – Half-orc Barbarian
Tiffen – Elf Warmage
Binder – Warforged Artificer
Jenso – Human Cleric
All PCs were 32 point build with 200GP starting equipment.
They players met on a dark and stormy night, huddled under a cliff to keep out of the elements. A dying messenger stumbled into their camp, passing on a note to be delivered to Lady Woden. Following some improvisation involving galloping horses in the darkness and a half-orc barbarian lost in the woods, the party settled in for the night. At dawn they broke for Cillimar, arriving just before noon. The guards were very helpful by escorting them to Lady Woden, who assigned them the task of eliminating the slavers. For the next 20 minutes we had some good role-playing in the Inn of the Slumbering Drake. Everyone was impressed with how much information I had at my fingertips. Cora decided it would be fun to sit in Cookie’s chair, until one of the serving girls whacked her with a tray and told her to get down. Cora plans on coming back for darts & gambling, two items that impressed the players. The undertaker suggested they contact the monks at the site, explaining he did *special burial work* for them. At this point the party, headed off for the castle, assuming they were normal monks.
The players offered no suspicion to the monks they met, so I was able to lead them to the tents and set up the ambush. Right before I sprung the trap, Cora followed the last two “monks” out of the tent just as it collapsed. Our Rogue was feeling rather cocky that she had evaded the trap, until she saw the slavers waiting for her with raised staff and a huge figure running from the courtyard. At this point I started to have my doubts as to whether the artificer was going to break the game. Casting Bane on Humans on Clank’s weapon pretty much ensured one-hit kills. However, by the time the rest of the party had dug themselves out of the tent trap, Cora lay unconscious on the ground, and the enlarged Half-orc was halfway to the tent. Clank was reduced to 0 hp, and the barbarian had taken a few hits before the slavers were taken down. I revealed the first player handout, and everyone commented on the subtlety of their tattoos. A last minute attempt to capture one of the slavers for questioning turned comical. A Warforged should not try to use his flail for this task. A critical hit pretty much crushed his little head, leaving the team with a bloody mess and no answers.
The party backtracked to the stables, and discovered one of the slavers tending the horses. Knowing people who raise horses, you can be in your own little world while working on the animals. After sneaking up and subduing him, they locked him into one of the slave carts and began the interrogation. Gnomes should never try to intimidate someone, but two Warforged and a half-orc barbarian cracking their knuckles in the background can loosen most tongues, not to mention their bladders. The slaver told them about most of the layout, and said the slaves were sent down below. At this point the party left him with some rations in front of him in the cart and decided to explore the area outside of the keep.
An exploration of the monastery ruins led to an encounter with the centipedes. Fortuitously, I had just pulled 4 centipede minis from the new D&D set that morning. Everyone was shocked when the barbarian was hit and poisoned by one of them, a first for many of the characters. They started treating all encounters a little more seriously at this point, as the Half-orc lost two dexterity. Later on he lost another point before the poison took its course.
At this point let me say that I rarely saw a search or spot check of less than 23 when looking for treasure or secret doors. Checks for locating monsters, however, were not as good.
When they reached the fallen tower, Cora and Binder went inside to investigate while the others waited outside. I decided to liven things up by having a Blood Hawk attack the outside party members while the giant preying mantis attacked the two inside the tower. I was as shocked as everyone else when Charles charged into the tower and squished the giant bug in one stroke! The blood hawk was dispatched easily, and the players rejoiced.
After finding the monks’ secret chamber and the path up the mountains, they decided to clear out the keep before heading up to the tower. At this point I figured the slavers knew something was up, and had the survivors retreat to the boss’ living quarters. The party took their time exploring the other rooms, pausing to have the Warforged attack the hornet nest for some easy XP. Cora decided to climb down into the rubble pit and search around. Upon rolling a natural 20, I announced that they had found the communal privy. As the gnome was pulled out, the half-orc commented “Mmm, you smell like home”, to much laughter.
Let me say that with two Warforged in the party, and everyone wearing some kind of metal armor, you just can’t sneak around. If not for the silence granted to the whisper gnomes, our rogue would not be as effective as she turned out to be. Cora neglected to use this while searching and listening at the last door. Only a high reflex save prevented her from being damaged from the fist punching through the door to the slaver’s chief’s quarters. This scared the crap out of the party, and they prepared for a nasty battle. The evil monk and surviving slavers poured out to give battle. Once again, Charles charged forward and in one blow removed their main opponent. The evil monk was evil paste. The remaining slavers were dispatched with aplomb and they began to search the room. High search values led them to everything, including the secret door. They could not decipher the journals, but took them with them for evidence, and decided to pay the undertaker a visit when they got back to town. At this point I regretted not having the undertaker ambush them on the way to the castle, but I had a better idea in mind.
Exploring though the secret door, Cora and Binder began sifting through the rubble. The heavy thud as I laid down an owlbear mini was echoed by the “Oh $%^^!!” of all the players. Cora tumbled back out of the way, and Binder took a claw and bite from the owlbear skeleton. Clank charged up to attack, but slipped on the rubble and fell on his shiny metal a$$. Charles walked up, took a swing and missed. Binder cast “bane undead” on the barbarians greatsword and he shattered the owlbear with a critical hit. They players finished exploring the rooms, finding their way to the second level. This was around 15:30, so they decided to backtrack and head up the cliff to the tower. Since the secret door to the hidden room isn’t shown on the map, I decided it was in the short hallway, the one room they neglected to search.
What followed next was the highlight of the day. Cora climbed up the rope ladder, but failed a move silently check. When she reached the top, the lone slaver was waiting with drawn sword and an evil glint in his eye. I decided the slaver would not cut the ladder and send Cora plummeting 80 feet to the path below. Instead he tried to knock her loose with his sword. What followed was 20 minutes of comedy as a gnome tried to grapple with the feet of the slaver as he tried to knock her off. I could not roll high enough to hit, but the rogue, so close to level 2 she could taste it, could not get a successful grapple check to dislodge the slaver. Jenso and Clank fired their crossbow and sling respectively, but could not hit the slaver. Cora failed a grapple check, and the reflex save, but since she had an arm wrapped in the rope ladder I determined she slid down about 10 feet and took a little damage for wrenching her arm. Finally, Jenso got two lucky shots off and the slaver fell screaming to the keep below. I awarded the rogue 25XP for pure entertainment value, which the rest of the party heartily supported.
They didn’t quite know what to do with the raven, and eventually just let it be. They opened up the trapdoor in the floor, and Cora produced a lion’s roar with her ghost sound. All six Blood Hawks came screaming out of the trapdoor and set upon the characters. Jenso was sent to -6HP with two successive critical hits. This made the players sit up and take notice. A bitter battle ensued, draining the party of what little magic they had left. In the aftermath, they pulled up the rope ladder, barred the trapdoor and spent the night resting.
At dawn they explored the bird nests, and proceeded down to the bottom level of the tower. I quickly grabbed an Eberron sourcebook and chortled with glee upon reading the damage done to a Warforged by rust. The party lined up and proceeded down the side of the tower along the spiral staircase. I called for spot check, and wouldn’t you know it, both Warforged failed to see the webs. One failed and one accomplished reflex save resulted in the Warforged scared for their lives! There was an uproar from the table over this monster, but after showing an observer (a longtime DM) the stat block, he declared it a fair and just monster, and told them to “shut up and take it like a b!tch” Since everyone was wearing some sort of metal armor, I rolled off and the rust spider went after the Warmage. What ensued was a nail biting combat the cumulated with our favorite half-orc barbarian swinging and killing the monster, but losing his greatsword to rust. He was not a happy camper.
The party found and proceeded through the secret door at the bottom. I was shocked to learn that Jenso actually had mend in his spell list, which allowed them to repair the tapestry and pick up some bonus XP.
By now it was close to 16:00, but they wanted to go back to town and have words with the undertaker. While not exactly as outlined in the module, I decided to have some fun. Picking up their captive slaver from the stable they proceeded back to town. They were met by “Lady Woden” and her guards, actually Ankiel and his goons in disguise. Cora stepped forward, handed over all the evidence they had gathered and was this close to turning over the prisoner and accepting a pat on the back when Jenso started to get suspicious. A quick sense motive check was rolled, Ankiel failed and they fun began. One quick colorspray and half the party was down for the count. Clank held off the goon squad while Charles ran forward to deal with the “Lady”. At this point, there were cries of the watch being involved with slavers. For once the barbarian did not get an instant kill, so with his henchman falling like flies, Ankiel used his scroll of invisibility to make him and his raven disappear. The rest of the goons were dispatched, and Clank and Charles gave chase using the Survival skill to follow Ankiel’s footprints while Tiffen and Jenso watched their dozing comrades and prisoner. I had the barbarian roll 2d6 to my 1d8. He didn’t beat me the first time, so a Survival check picked up the tracks again. A successful pursuit roll had the two PCs following a trial of appearing footprints, with Ankiel maybe 20 feet ahead of them. Two quick attacks failed, so Ankiel turned and blasted them both with another colorspray, dropping them both in the dirt.
Ankiel made good his escape, with all of the evidence they had recovered. The slaver prisoner would give the watch some information, but he didn’t know all the operations. They failed to get the XP bonus for eliminating the slavers, but got about 150 bonus XP otherwise. When all was said and done, everyone made level 2 and they had a pile of loot to sell in town.
Everyone really enjoyed the module. I began to worry that I had overpowered the characters with the high build total, but there were enough close calls that I still think we are doing good. When we hit the second level next week, I might beef up the encounters a bit to keep things interesting, but I don’t want them leveling up too fast. Everyone loved the little certs I made up for the masterwork and magical items. I was worried that I had not made one up for the Bracers +1 that Ankiel had, but since he got away it was a moot point. The players’ map I handed out had them going nuts. They want to go to the Necropolis and the Paupers Graves. I think they will enjoy exploring gthe city as much as the mountain.
We are going to shoot for the first and third week of every month. Next week we will have some shopping fun in the city, during which I might throw in a few role playing elements to keep it interesting and introduce the missing jeweler in the mines. Using a large grid map worked out pretty well, but it is not tall enough to match the module’s map exactly. Between now and next week I am going to see about either adapting the map to fit the mat I have, or else I might split the level at area 12, drawing the mines and such separately from the slave pens. With luck I will have another report next week.
The meek shall truly inherit the earth, because that is where they will be buried.