Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Hungover Heroes Guild, Part Two

Because we're probably not going to play next week, the Hungover Heroes Guild met tonight for a second time this week. This was, by far, one of the BEST roleplaying sessions I've had in years.

Play began with us picking up the PCs as they were entering Anathar's Dell, a small community in Daggerdale, Forgotten Realms. Piqued by rumors of dwarves (or dwarf-like creatures) prowling in the night in Daggerdale villages, the PCs began to ask questions of the populace at Anathar's Hall, the local watering-hole and open-air pavilion-cum-tavern with nearby one-room cottages for rent for visitors.

They picked up some local lore, discovering several new things. The town was built by the wizard Anathar who was slain by a dragon many years ago. The farmers made common cause with the dwarves of the area and built a community here. The dwarves are of the Brightblade clan and swear by their ancestors that they would never dishonor their blood by stalking the streets of the dale villages to the north. They met a Cormyrean knight-errant sworn to join Randal Morn and fight against the Zhentarim (the Black Network of Zhentil Keep) and free Daggerdale from their control. They also encountered a Sembian merchant speaking to two huntsman who may have been members of the Harpers (they wore the black badges with the silver harp).

The next morning, the PCs set off for Dagger Falls, but were slowed by torrential rain. As they camped that evening, they were approached by a patrol of Freedom Riders, followers of Randal Morn (the true and rightful lord of Daggerdale, who seeks to free his Dale from Zhentarim oppression). When Vladimir spoke, the patrol, led by Captain Reiner Trall, took the four companions' weapons and arrested them for being suspected spies. As Captain Trall explained to Vladimir, "We folk of Daggerdale have never known anyone from Zhentil Keep who was not a Zhentilar soldier or a Zhentarim agent." (Note: Zhentilar = the army, Zhentarim = the Black Network, the secret society that rules Zhentil Keep and seeks to control all of the trade in Faerûn.)

They were force-marched across the Serpentsbridge over the rapids of the River Ashaba, where Vladimir was a bit nervous that they were simply going to hang him. But they continued on into the Dagger Hills and came upon the ruins of Castle Daggerdale, where they spent the night.

The next morning, Randal Morn arrived. Together with Tunfer the Stout, priest of Tyr, officiating, Randal Morn heard the trial of Vladimir. He pronounced Vladimir not guilty for want of proof, but since there was no proof Vladimir was innocent, he insisted that Vlad remain at Castle Daggerdale as a guest until riders returned from Anathar's Dell with evidence (if no evidence was to come, he was going to have Vladimir escorted to the borders of the Dale). It seemed the party's ambition to solve the mystery of the Dream Fever in Dagger Falls was going to fall apart, for they refused to leave their companion's side (which earned them the respect of Lord Morn). However, Tunfer offered to cast zone of truth on Vladimir, who repeated his tale and gave his testimony. After a brief cross-examination, Lord Morn pronounced Vladimir innocent.

When the PCs told him they wanted to solve the puzzle of the Dream Fever, Morn outfitted them with light horses and feed (the horses had belonged to riders who had been killed during raids on Zhentilar patrols and Zhentarim caravans). They set out for Dagger Falls the next morning, the day after the Spring Equinox, to warming weather on new mounts and headed north.

They quickly learned how skittish horses can be if they aren't trained for war and battle. The horses would not even walk past the black bear they encountered that was rooting through brambles for wild berries. Vladimir summoned a skeleton warrior that chased the young bear away, allowing them to continue.

Near dusk, though, they saw an ogre trudge up from behind a hill. The horses shied away and the ogre charged. Volleys of eldritch blast from Baravis' hands weakened the creatures as it closed on the party. It charged for Drog, who had dismounted and prepared for battle. The horses bolted, carrying Vladimir, Sven, Baravis' and Drog's horse away from the ogre, but they still attempted to strike it from a distance (with range penalties and -4 penalties for shooting from horseback).

The ogre charged Drog, swung his greatclub, and missed--the hit could have easily killed Drog had it connected, but as it was, it splashed into the mud of the road and left a deep indentation. Drog raged and smote the ogre so strongly that the monster was clobbered (can only take one standard action per turn). It staggered backward, withdrawing from battle. Drog stepped forward and swung again--20, critical threat! DJ rolled again--ANOTHER 20! Kill threat! DJ rolled a third time... and hit! His sword flashed in an arc slicing through the arteries in the ogres' neck and it toppled to the ground.

Drog's horse was recovered, the body was looted for what few useful goods it had (mostly haunches of venison, large rocks, and a wagon wheel were on the ogre) and camp was made an hour's ride north of the battle site. There, the party settled down to eat the venison and XP was divvied up.

Only one combat this session, but it was exhilarating and a nice way to end a session of great in-character roleplaying.

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