July 1, 2014

Ancients & Aliens - Session 2: The Chaotic Caves of Chaos

Once more our intrepid adventurers return to .... oh wait, no.  Almost everyone else had to skip this session for various reasons.  Real life happens sometimes.  Oh well, no worries.  Solo mission!

Once more our lone intrepid adventurer... oh right, your character died last time.  Sorry dude.

A new intrepid adventurer steps forth to battle the minions of Chaos!

Saruk the Elfulan arrives in Niru looking for both fame and fortune.  The magi in Niru are very happy to see an elfulan willing to join their other hired sword-hands.  The magi are keenly aware of the lack of discipline within Watchkeeper Hall, and they hope that this new elfulan might help to motivate and focus the other mercenaries.  Saruk soon agrees to lead a group of adventurers and investigate some caves where trouble is brewing.

Recently, scouts have confirmed the location of a group of caves that seem to be a staging ground for orcs, goblins, and other deviants who threaten the safety of Niru.  The magi have called for volunteers to investigate the caves, reduce the number of adversaries if they can, and then report back.  Well, that was a week ago and no one has stepped forward yet.

So now that they have Saruk willing to lead a group, the magi decide to set up a lottery.  A bag of stones is passed around Watchkeeper Hall and whoever draws one of the four black stones wins the honor of going out to help search the caves.  The silence is deafening as the bag is passed around the hall.  There is a bit of a commotion as a warrior named Thangdun willingly trades his non-black stone for a black one.  His friend (Sneaky Nikezheb) had drawn one of the black stones and Thangdun is a man who watches out for his friends.  Zsheel the Halflingon and Lairizhaag the Braggart are the other two "lucky winners".

Surprisingly, one of the apprentice magi steps up and volunteers to join the group [Wis 4].  Lithsharric wants to use a charm spell to interrogate one of the cave dwellers and learn more about their numbers and intentions (Int 14).  The young magi's master pulls Saruk aside and instructs him to "Do your best to keep my pupil safe".  Saruk glances over at the young magi [Str:5, Dex:6, Con:8] and answers "I'll try".

The party is led to the area of the caves by a scout, who then says "Good luck" and promptly leaves.  Saruk is a cautious elfulan and chooses to spend a few days watching the various cave entrances while the sun is up, then hiding his group at night while the orcs are more active.  The area around the caves looks like this...

Each square = 20 feet

They approach the largest cave first.  In front of the wide opening is a marble platform ringed by steps.  On the platform are five broken pillars.  Stones and rubble that were once the ceiling of this structure have been tossed into a pile at the base of the eastern hillside.

Saruk sneaks onto the platform and hides behind the remains of the northeastern pillar.  It's early morning and the hill puts this area in enough shadow that Saruk can peer inside and look down the tunnel with his infravision.  The hallway beyond the entrance is 40 feet wide with a pair of columns every 20 feet.  At the very edge of his infravision he can see humanoid shapes, motionless, very thin, no heat... maybe statues?  He doesn't care for it.  Saruk sneaks back to his group and instructs everyone to move on to the next cave to the west.

With most of the group quietly waiting in the south end of a long strip of forest, Saruk and Nikezheb sneak north along the treeline to the cave that they saw some elves and a dwarf enter a few days ago.  Saruk is just about to break cover and head for the entrance when a dwarf strolls out of the cave and starts heading straight toward them.  There is a tense moment as the dwarf walks closer, but our heroes keep their cool and remain motionless.  Once the dwarf arrives at the forest he opens his pants and starts to pee on a tree.

Saruk comes up behind the dwarf and puts a sword to his neck.  The dwarf is ordered to be silent.  Saruk leads him into the woods toward the group, but he lets the dwarf close his pants first which I thought was a classy move.  His party is silently impressed when Saruk returns with a prisoner.  They've all heard stories, but most of them have never even seen a dwarf before.

Lithsharric makes with the charm spell and starts asking the dwarf a bunch of questions.  The dwarf is named Kelvar.  He says that the big cave is an old dwarven tomb, that he and the elves are here to fight the orcs, and that there are "about six" elves in the cave.  The dwarf keeps asking questions of his own about where the party is from and suggesting that "we should all work together to fight the orcs" and "let me introduce you to the elves".  Saruk grows suspicious, the dwarf's answers are too dodgy and vague.  He and Lithsharric quietly agree that the spell may have failed.  After a time the party can hear some elves in the distance calling out for Kelvar.  Saruk agrees to let Kelvar introduce them, but advises Lithsharric to stay hidden in the woods.  The rest of the party follows Kelvar warily.

Kelvar leads them out of the woods and into the tall grass, they meet four elves about 40 feet south of the cave entrance.  There is a strange sort of exchange where Kelvar does most of the talking.  The party is invited inside the cave to meet the leader, but Saruk refuses and demands to meet their leader out here in the open.  Kelvar goes inside to fetch the leader, and leaves the party and the four elves to some of the most awkwardly uncomfortable small talk of all time.

Minutes pass while everyone watches to see who will come out of the cave entrance.  After a while the party hears a snapping branch and sees movement in the western trees.  "Not nice." says Saruk, and the battle begins.   The four elves in front of them dish out some damage, but they are quickly overwhelmed.  Six more elves come out the trees and ready their bows.  Lairizhaag the Braggart charges the archers alone while the others try to finish off the four elves in melee and Saruk drinks an entire flask of liquid courage to dull the pain.  Lithsharric comes running out of the trees chased by a laughing Kelvar the dwarf who has axe in hand and murder in his eyes.

http://frostiefilly.deviantart.com/art/Thrathen-408498560Lairizhaag the Braggart somehow dodges through the volley of arrows unharmed and is about to strike back when Saruk casts his sleep spell.  [John decided to use his once-per-session-d30 at this point.  He puts to sleep 28HD of enemies]  The six elf archers fall asleep.  Kelvar the dwarf falls asleep.  Five elves still hidden in the forest fall asleep.  The forest goes silent and a couple of birds fall from the sky.  Everyone in the party slowly turns and looks at Saruk.

Throats are cut, elvish bows are looted, and Kelvar the dwarf is tied up and pulled along struggling all the way back to town.

The whole town is impressed, and Saruk gets a small bonus of gold coins from the magi who take the dwarf for questioning.  At the human supremacist tavern, The Weary Ass, Lairizhaag the Braggart actually manages to get a table and a pint of beer for Zsheel the Halflingon.  Then Saruk, Thangdun, and Nikezheb go off to try and sell some elvish bows to a shopkeeper.

Saruk doesn't like the look of Crazy Gorgathon, so he decides to go visit Sweeney's General Store instead.  Sweeney's store is currently being run by Sweeney's daughter Deandre.  She doesn't know much about elf bows or armaments in general and only offers 20 gold for each bow.  Saruk asks why she is offering so little, and she explains that she needs to make some fast gold to pay the ransom for her father.

It turns out that Sweeney went traveling over a week ago with some armed guards, he's gone out to trade with elves in the past, but this time he didn't come back.  Then, a few days ago, one of Sweeney's guards returned to Niru saying that some orcs captured them all and are now demanding 500 gold coins to release Sweeney.  The orcs sent the guard back to Niru along with one of Sweeney's fingers to show that they were serious.  Well, Deandre doesn't have 500 gold, and she's only willing to buy items if it's at a low enough price that she can turn around and sell them to make a quick profit, and the orcs only gave her a week to drop off the sack of coins, and that was three days ago, and for the love of the gods, please!, can you do something?!, help my father!

So, Saruk and company go and sell the elvish bows to Gorgathon.  Obviously.

Crazy Gorgathon
Saruk did agree to help Deandre's father though, so after business he goes and talks to this released prisoner fellow and figures out that Sweeney is being held in one of the caves the party was just investigating  After questioning the man further about what he saw, Saruk even has a pretty good idea of which exact cave Sweeney is being held captive in.

So the next day Saruk takes his band of misfits back out into the wilds, fills a couple of orc guards full of arrows before they know what happened, storms into a cave complex full of orcs, kills about 7 more orcs and a beastman covered in orange fur, sets fire to a wolf pen, ties up the orc jailor/torturer, and rescues the 9-fingered merchant from his cell.  The party hustles out of the cave and rush out of the area.  Saruk brings Sweeney safely back to town having never lost any member of his party in either adventure. 

Saruk is now a household name within the walls of Niru.

Deandre is very grateful to have her father home, but after a week or so it is obvious that Sweeney is a changed man.  He won't talk about what happened in the caves, but Deandre fears that he may never snap out of it.  He acts manic at times.  He says that he is living on borrowed time and intends to live life to the fullest.  He hangs out at his store mostly, but Deandre is doing all the work now.  He'll sneak off on his own sometimes and damage property around town or take unwatched items like food and tools.  The whole town knows his story, and thus far people just shoo him away rather than report him to the guards.  He isn't violent, and usually just leaves if confronted.

Yes, I've cast Danny DeVito to play Sweeney.  Yes, the orcs had stripped and shaved him for some reason.

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