“The Delving Band With No Name”, Session #3
- Alric Redbeard, northern barbarian, giver and taker of big damage (PC)
- Needles, one with the darkness (PC)
- Rho-Nahld, cleric known more for his faith than his agility (PC)
- The Knight Of The Blood Oath, faith healing holy warrior (PC)
- Jim Kadabra, illusionist and would-be dungeon delver (PC – very, very briefly)
- Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, bard from the far-off mystic land of Mississippi (PC)
- “Dobby”, Alric’s goblin henchman and keeper of the stable (NPC)
Our heroes had holed up in the old kitchens, spiking the doors behind them. TKotBO set about healing the wounded through faith until he was exhausted, with Rho feeding him energy, then meditating to restore his own reserves. Within moments, Gabby got bored and climbed out of the dungeon through the chimney.* Everyone was fully restored and ready to go within twenty minutes. During that time, they heard a scratching at the door, but nothing seriously tested their fortifications.
Mindful of that scratching, they took care in planning their exit, with TKotBO using his tactical skill to deploy the party. Needles yanked the spikes and threw the doors open, taking cover behind them. Alric and TKotBO set up a battle line just inside the door, with Rho close behind, staff at the ready.
Just outside the door, they found a pile of oil-soaked firewood, nearly knee-high. The goblin on the other side of the wood had a lit torch in his hand and a shocked expression on his face. Other goblins, bearing spears, surrounded the door on both sides, with an obvious shaman bringing up the rear. Despite their ambush being interrupted, the goblins made the most of it: the torch-bearer dropped his torch onto the pyre and stepped back, readying his own spear, while the other goblins pressed forward.
Rho prayed, creating water which soaked the firewood and snuffed the dropped torch. Alric jumped over the barrier in among the goblins in a highly aggressive move, which immediately backfired as he was surrounded by half a dozen spear-goblins and pierced multiple times. TKotBO moved up into the doorway and Needles took a shot with his short bow at the chanting shaman. Alric staggered back, clinging to consciousness long enough to get some healing.
Things were looking grim. TKotBO was engaged in a give-and-take duel with one goblin on the right-hand side of the doorway, with both taking damage but neither able to decide the issue. Even so, he and Needles were able to control the doorway well enough that the goblin horde couldn’t work up the nerve to rush the room. Rho threw a sunbolt, crippling one of the goblins, who staggered away down the hall. The goblin shaman created a zone of concealing darkness on his side of the doorway. Throwing down his bow in disgust, Needles drew his short sword and dove into the mass of goblins, ducking and weaving past them all to get inside the shaman’s darkness in a bid to get at the goblins’ leader. The first rank of goblin spearmen took advantage of the gap to enter the doorway, looking to flank TKotBO.
Finally, TKotBO got Alric healed up** and the northern barbarian turned back towards the fray. He performed a risky All-Out Attack to hack down the two goblins in the doorway, shouting a battle cry. The portion of the battle at the doorway turned into a battle of attrition, with the warriors knocking down goblin after goblin. Over the course of a few seconds, the goblins went from pressing the attack to scrambling for escape.
Meanwhile, Needles was engaged in a desperate brawl in impenetrable darkness with the shaman’s three bodyguards. He slipped in the muck and fell prone, wildly dodging the goblins’ spears. Reasoning that Needles was a master of stealth and would only be aided by it, Rho added a zone of silence overlapping the shaman’s darkness. As it turned out, this apparently did work in Needles’ favor: as he returned to his feet, he was able to take the offense and take out all three bodyguards. The shaman, however, had already scampered off.
Fearing counter-attack, the party dragged the dead and unconscious goblins into the kitchen and re-spiked the door. During the process of moving the bodies, Needles pocketed the contents of two of their pouches, even as Rho kept a watchful eye on the whole thing.
Again, they rested and healed up, while looting the bodies and discussing how to deal with the prisoners. Alric had a solution, which he put into immediate effect. He chopped the first goblin’s head off. Rho objected strongly, parrying his attempt on the second goblin’s head, and pointing out that they could use information that the goblins could give them. Seeing the sense of this, Alric retired to the far side of the room to brood.
Being the only one who could speak Goblinistani, TKotBO conducted the interrogation. After the first few questions and answers, the party became suspicious of being conned, and so Rho prayed to compel the goblins to speak the truth. After that, the questioning proceeded swiftly.
The party wanted to know the location of two things: first, the bridge, and second, the lair of Ghorbash. They had reasoned that between the loss of their leader and the rout they had just suffered, the goblin tribe would be easy pickings. Their prisoners were able to give directions to both. In the end, they scratched a rough map in the dirt and grime on the floor.
Having gotten answers to his questions, TKotBO announced that it was time to keep his promise to the prisoners, and set them free for their cooperation. This didn’t set particularly well with the rest of the party, who pointed out the folly of turning loose spies who might take word of their plans to the enemy. In the end, they reached a compromise. Since TKotBO was still resting after his healings, he would stay in the kitchens with Rho, while Alric and Needles would escort the prisoners to the outside of the dungeon. Alric promised that the prisoners would “leave [his] presence in good health”. Needles went further, swearing oaths upon his honor and the grave of his mother that the goblins would be released unharmed and well-treated.
Of course, they marched the prisoners out front and threw them over the cliff into the river. Alric’s word was satisfied, since the goblins were in fine health, until meeting misadventure after a few steps, and many yards, of travel. Needle’s word, on the other hand, is as good as the stone it’s carved into…
Luckily, the side trip didn’t involve any random encounters, and the two pairs came together without incident. Having again refueled, they formed their marching order and proceeded down the big hallway. Following the map scratched out by the goblins, they bypassed a door and a smaller side-hall. At this point, they took special care, as the goblins had warned them of “a hole that isn’t there”. TKotBO’s grasp of Goblinistani was incomplete, so they weren’t sure what to expect, exactly, but they knew to expect something.
Needles was leading the way, keeping his eyes on the floor and probing ahead with the party’s six-foot pole. As his poked, he found an area where the floor appeared no different, but had no substance. He drew the party’s attention to this prodigy, dragging the stick around to outline a ledge crossing nearly the entire width of the hall. Only a narrow strip of floor on either side offered passage. Pondering upon this, Rho declared that it must be an illusion, and prayed for insight, determining that there was a magical effect here. He then prayed to dispel it. The illusion of the floor melted away, revealing a pit, about thirty feet deep. The bottom of the pit was awash with dirty water, but they could see spikes as well.
“Tiger pit,” Alric announced. “Must be tigers in the dungeon.”
The party made their way across the ledge, sticking close to the wall, one at a time. Needles danced across with a spring in his step. TKotBO made it over without undue trouble. Then, it was Rho’s turn, and he slipped, and fell onto the spikes, and died.
Alric tried a diving grab to catch Rho before he went over the edge, but it was no use. He climbed down into the pit and retrieved the cleric’s lifeless body. The party gathered around at the top of the pit. They mourned the loss, with TKotBO performing the appropriate religious rites. Then they looted the body. (Well, of course they did!)
There was some talk of retreat in the face of this disaster, but the three survivors decided to press on. They passed another small hallway and two more doors. TKotBO was able to detect the presence of supernatural beings behind the right-hand door as they quietly crept past. Finally, they came to the archway that led, according to the goblins’ account, to “many stairs” followed by a long hall to the bridge. Noting the archway, they decided to investigate the room claimed by Ghorbash, where the goblins had said to expect goblin women and loot.
The party followed the hallway around a left-hand turn, coming to another pair of doors on either side. The left-hand door was reputed to be the entrance to the lair of Ghorbash. While the three debated their next steps, the left-hand door was opened by one of Ghorbash’s harem.
Forced into action by the shocked goblin’s appearance, TKotBO hustled her back inside, finding over half a dozen harem members. They rushed for a rear exit, but he managed to head them off and cow them through intimidation, promising that they were safe so long as they were docile. Keeping an eye on the women, the party searched the place.
Unbeknownst to the others, Needle found a fine set of ivory pai-sho tiles, which he pocketed. The party gathered a fine haul of loot, including a box full of coin and a huge pile of fine fabric. The pile was mostly silk, but they also found a few bolts of samite and one oversized bolt of spun moonbeams, a magical cloth used by enchanters. High-fives all around, at recovering the long-rumored cargo lost by the cloth merchant. Then the realization set in: they were looking at over a thousand pounds of cloth.
Luckily, they had a willing barbarian with a remarkably strong back. They fashioned bundles for themselves. The other two worked together to lift a massive load onto Alric’s back, then shouldered their own loads. Moving at a ponderous crawl, they warned the women against following, and headed for the entrance, with all possible stealth.
As they approached the giant stone head at the intersection of hallways, Needles spotted a lone figure standing in the hall without a torch or lantern. Laying down his burden, he crept up behind the man, noticing that he was human. Even so, he was disinclined to trust anyone met in a dungeon, so he gave him a firm tap on the head with the pommel of his short sword. The man – Jim Kadabra***, though they never got his name – went down, unconscious.
As the party could see daylight through the main entrance from the stone head, they were able to drag the unconscious man out front without any further misadventures. There, they stripped him of his possessions, particularly a very nice staff. Vaguely reasoning that he might be worth something alive, they bound him.
The party called Dobby over, leading Alric’s battle-cat and Rho’s donkey. He reported that Gabby had stopped by earlier, declaring boredom, and taken her own mount. They loaded up the beasts and themselves with heavy loads, tying their prisoner atop the donkey’s load, and set off for town.
As heavily encumbered as they were, the trip took the rest of the day and well into the night. It was after midnight before they came within sight of the walls of Tembladera. Unobserved by the weary hikers, Jim came to along the way. He was able to call upon his stagecraft and work his way free of his bonds. As the party relaxed at the sight of their destination, he slipped off the top of the donkey and ran, naked and screaming, into the night. The three looked at each other and shrugged, too weary to give chase.
Once safe in town, they were able to use the box of coin to secure lodgings, where they secured their haul, and retired to the bar for a well-deserved meal. There, they met “Mississippi” Jedadiah Walker, a self-proclaimed bard, who fell in with them.
“Mississippi?” Needles exclaimed. “I’ve been there! Great place! Put ‘er there, buddy!” He enthusiastically embraced his new friend… and made an attempt to pick his pocket. Being the streetwise sort himself, though, Walker wasn’t keeping anything valuable in a vulnerable place, so while he got away with the attempt, Needles came away empty-handed.
The next day, Walker acted as the party’s agent in disposing of their treasure, in exchange for a percentage. They sold the lot on the open market, with the exception of several goblin axes, which went unsold (the “fine patina” was actually terminal rust), and the bolt of moonbeams. Knowing that the latter would be attractive to those who dabble in magic, they took a chance on offering it to Strang, through his man-servant, Mamu. As it turned out, Mamu was quite willing to take the magical cloth off their hands.
In the end, they cleared over $2000 for those who had been in-dungeon, with a $300 fee to Walker for his services. All were satisfied with their take. They put up Walker in the inn, along with Needles, while TKotBO went to sleep in the church’s stables and Alric returned to his accustomed campsite in the wilds.
* We had a missing player, and this seemed a convenient way of getting the character off-camera.
** … for appropriately small values of “healed up”. Strictly speaking, he was sitting exactly on the boundary between fighting at full capacity, and having his Move and Dodge cut in half.
*** Jim was meant to be a PC, stepping in as a replacement for Rho. A wandering monster check came up, and I figured “another adventuring party” would be a reasonable and convenient way to introduce a replacement. Sadly, he encountered rougher diplomacy than expected. Luckily, the player in question prides himself on having a deep stable of backup characters, so when the one fell through, he just switched to the next.