An audience with King Cadoc
After finishing dealing with their minor cuts and bruises from their battles through the bedrooms with the Goblin defenders, the party moved Eral from the Foyer to the bedroom where he'd be more comfortable. Once this was done, the group moved on to the ornate door with the crest. Deciding ahead of time anything in the room beyond would simply be targets and that they needed to charge in and kill any defenders, the group had the criminally inclined mage, Raven (Katie) attempt to stealthily unlock the door with her distinctly non-magical thieves tools. This failed and it fell to the more direct members of the group to unlock the door. Raven instead turned her attention to sending Merlin, her familiar, out of the broken window in the grand bedroom and around the the other side of the door, seeking to look in through the windows. What the Raven saw helped the party prepare.
After seeing a group of Skeletons in tabards, a skeletal wolf-thing, an undead knight and a Goblin dressed in an oversized cloak, sitting on a throne and sporting a human skull-and-crown combo on his bonce, the party prepped for a fight. The door was unlocked, and the group sent in their best asset against the undead - the Priest, Pat (Dee).
Pat rushed into the centre of this odd throne-room and held up his holy symbol, channeling the power of his God to put fear into the unnatural; soldiers of this little green would-be King. Some of the skeletons shrank back in fear, running from his holiness, but others stood firm. The undead Knight spoke to him,
"Put up your weapons and kneel in the presence of our King, Cadoc" indicating to the throne and the Goblin upon it. The Goblin continued from where the Knight stopped,
"Welcome, capable warriors, bow and swear fealty to your King so you may enter my serv...."
The goblin didn't get to finish his sentence as the polearm wielding Warlocks rushed the room and took up aggressive positions around the Priest, stabbing at the skeleton and the Knight that remained close to their companion, ignoring the King entirely. Shouting "I only serve my God!" Pat continued his attack on the Knight in defiance of the little green King. Raven retreated to the corridor, throwing magic into the room from safety while Meguca (Olly) took cover in the doorway and started shooting at the King, arcane power burning through her pact-crossbow.
Seeing that there was no pressing the party into service but confident that his undying servants could handle things, the Goblin sat back on his throne, skeletal wolf straining by his side to pounce into battle. He raised his hand dismissively,
"So be it. If you won't serve me. Destroy the intruders, my minions"
With this, the Knight and skeleton warriors that could approach the party attacked.
The Knight (a Wight formed from one of Cadoc's former followers) stepped forward to meet the priest's attack head-on and grasped the arm of Pat. Life essence was drained directly from Pat and given to the Wight as he sought to eat the very life from the Priest and break whatever ensorcelment the priest had used to return his men to combat. The Warlocks, having moved to defend their asset, stabbed at this threat and did what they could to help their friend. Breaking the Wight's grasp and retreating behind the Warlocks, Pat escaped, letting the more brutal members of the party get to work.
Meguca tried desperately to shoot the little King and succeeded only in irritating Cadoc enough to make him stand and start casting spells into the combat in his throne room! The little greenskin was some sort of Warlock, as well as being an annoying little git in a posh cloak. As the group felled some skeletons and dealt big blows to the Wight-Knight and Meguca buried a bolt into the Goblin's chest, the little King desperately cast a spell that warped the space around the party and the doorway, dragging them all into a void of endless darkness that chilled the adventurers to their very souls! This void was filled with slithering tentacle monsters, seeking the warmth of their flesh - the party couldn't survive the void for long!
Using the spell as cover, the now injured Goblin Cadoc gathered his troops to him and attempted to escape the room via an alternative exit. Barry pushed forward through the damaging cold and broke free of the darkness, running the fleeing Goblin through with his polearm, casing the spell to drop! Freed from their tentacle darkroom, the rest of the party leapt into action, Raven moving into the throne room and unleashing a Flaming Sphere to roll over the defenders, Pat and Ste advancing on the Goblin's defensive line of skeletons to provide support for Barry, and Meguca placing his crossbow against a skeletal warriors face at point blank saying, "Bone appetit!" before unleashing the bolt and beheading the warrior with it. The wolf, now freed to attack by the fleeing King, leapt through Raven's Flaming Sphere to surprise the group of fighters only to be burned, skewered and battered to re-death after taking only a single bite out of the adventurers.
Pushing the Goblin back and eliminating his defenders one-by-one the party were clearly winning. The Goblin tried to flee through the door but was cut off by Meguca who used his warlock power to turn to mist and teleport to behind the fleeing Goblin.
"Going somewhere?" uttered Meguca into the Goblin's ear. The Goblin King turned to face her with a frightened look on it's face saying "Help me!" to the crossbow-wielding warlock in a pathetic voice before a maniacal grin swept the fleeting look away.
"I can do that too" said Cadoc as he 'misty stepped' through the door into a barracks beyond before continuing his escape toward another of the keep's towers.
Having seen this sudden change of expression, Meguca believed that the Goblin was in fact possessed by the vengeful spirit of Cadoc and resolved to help the pathetic wretch break free of Cadoc's control. Instead of lining up a kill-shot with her crossbow, Meguca took aim at the skull perched atop the Goblin's head. Loosing her bolt, the shot knocked the skull clean off the Goblin's head. The Goblin fell to the floor, clutching his wounds and babbling "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!" Had Meguca freed the Goblin from his possession?
Having dispatched the rest of the defenders by now, the rest of the group joined Meguca, who was attempting to patch up the Goblin. Caught between killing this wretched would-be ruler and sparing his life, the party erred on the side of mercy this time, questioning the 'King' and using non-magical healing to keep him alive.
The Goblin thanked his 'rescuers' profusely and identified himself as Gorf. He'd abandoned the Hobgoblin war-tribes and hid here in the keep, finding the shiney crown, the skeletons and the skull. He claimed the skull had spoken to him, and afterwards he put the skull atop his head, allowing him command of the skeletons in the keep. From then on, Gorf claimed, he was essentially a slave to Cadoc, unwittingly doing his bidding. The party questioned Gorf on how many followers he had and Gorf spilled the beans gleefully, describing the size and locations of the defending skeleton force, a pair of Ogres, some of his Goblin followers and something evil in the watchtower. Gorf also mentioned a giant beast in the lake and warned the party not to go swimming. Deciding this was probably the beast that the injured ranger, Eral (whom the party had left in the bedroom) was looking to take samples from, the party took note of the forces remaining.
"What we need you to do is go and gather up all your friends and leave this keep with them immediately", said Barry, trying to convince the Goblin to reduce the size of the remaining forces without effort or bloodshed. While Barry spoke to Gorf, Meguca collected the skull of Cadoc and his crown off the floor where they'd been flung by her bolt. Barry continued,
"Take them far away. We're going to clear this keep of it's evil."
Gorf nodded enthusiastically and turned to leave by the tower stairwell, apparently to carry out this instruction. Ste caught the look on the Goblin's face as it turned to leave, a smug, satisfied grin spreading across it's green face.
"He's going to betray us! Get him!" shouted the mistrustful Warlock and the party re-actively fired spells and shots at the fleeing Gorf, missing with some shots and having others deflected by a spark of magical aura. "He's got magic - he's probably still possessed!" cried Meguca in warning.
Giving chase to the Goblin, the party entered the stairwell and tried to catch up with the former king as he bounded down the stairs out of direct view of the party's ranged fighters. The players would have to wait until next session to see if they would catch him.
Was the Goblin still possessed? Had the party misread his intentions? I feared that Gorf wouldn't be given any chance when the party's Warlocks caught up.
Carnage in the guest wing
After burning the remnants of the spider nests and ensuring nothing was following behind them, the party stepped into the upstairs landing beyond the tower and were faced with a long corridor lined with doors facing one another across the narrow walkway at equal distances. Candles had been lit and mounted along the walls on ironwork brackets and the doors looked to be of reasonable quality, all of which closed. A breeze wafted through the corridor itself from somewhere. Deciding that enemies could be hiding behind any door, the party left Meguca (Olly) watching the corridor with her ranged weaponry then stacked up together at the first door, ready to start clearing the rooms.
Stealthily opening the door to the first room (straight off the landing) they found themselves in a sparsely decorated, pauper's room containing an odd altar, apparently dedicated to Waukeen. A simple bed, small wardrobe and writing desk were all that the room contained and after looking under the bed just in case, the party moved on.
The next room was a more opulent with the room properly decorated and a double wardrobe and matching drawers present. The bed looked used. The party thoroughly searched this one, opening the wardrobe, upending the bed and so on before moving to the opposite room.
The next room was a large, grandoise room with a broken window in it (which was where the breeze was coming through). A 4 poster bed dominated one side of the room, complete with mouldy drapes and a pair of double wardrobes covered one side of the room entirely. Raven (Katie) mentioned that she had fire magics and could burn the entire room to flush anyone hiding but the party urged caution - her magics would be needed later. With the priest and polearm wielding warlocks tackling the two wardrobes at the same time the party opened the doors expectantly.....and found nothing.
Meguca moved up in the corridor and the group started to move on to the next room when Barry (Chris) heard the faint noise of whispers, coming from beyond his wardrobe. Thinking that there would be Goblins hiding beyond the wardrobe somehow, he indicated to his partners to play along, made loud proclamations to move on to the next room then opened the wardrobe and rushed through the flimsy backing inside the wardrobe into the room beyond.
The wardrobe hid a hole in the wall and led into the next bedroom in line. This room was occupied by several Goblins who had set up a barricade for their archers at one end of the room using an upended bed. Other sword-wielding warriors also occupied the room but were caught on the hop moving, as they were, to the bedroom doorway, expecting the party to come in that way. Startled by the sudden invasion of their space, the Goblins were slow to react as the party blitzed through and met these Goblins with extreme violence.
Spell and blade were used to quickly dispatch these defenders, Raven throwing her magic from the safety of the other room and Meguca awaiting her chance to open the door to the Goblin's hideout to flank the combatants. The fight was short and during this Meguca retreated down the corridor to cover the Mage, Raven, and tripped over a large invisible 'something' lying in the corridor! While Meguca was sprawled on the corridor floor listening to the sound of footsteps running away from her, the last Goblin standing in the bedroom was an archer who fled behind his bed barricade only to have it stabbed, shot and pushed by the party, leaving him nowhere to go except through a hole in the wall. As the party came around the barricade to find him trying to leave the room via this hole, he was cut down. No prisoners. After all, (as Ste's warlock pointed out), Goblins were vermin.
In the corridor, Meguca stayed prone, set up a shot with her crossbow and guessed that the invisible thing she'd tripped on was a Goblin. Raising her aim to around Goblin height halfway down the corridor, Meguca let fly, striking a fleeing and previously invisible Goblin in the back. The shot was fatal for the runaway and sadly the remains of his potion were spilled onto the flagstone flooring.
Meanwhile, seeing through the hole from behind the bed-barricade to the next room, the rest of the party saw loot! Several boxes of supplies of some kind lay on the floor in the centre of a cleared room. Entering to investigate and not noticing the Goblin leader hiding in the corner to the right of the hole-in-the-wall, some of the party members looked at the crates to find them full of fruit and vegetable supplies rather than treasure. Seeing his chance, the hidden Goblin downed his potion of haste and started to chop at the party desperately with his ornate axe, doing damage quickly. The party dog-piled this new assailant, eliminating him quickly. The Goblin exploded, showering the food crates (and Ste's Warlock) with viscera. Clean up on aisle three, please.
After this flurry of action the party went through the remaining rooms and looted their assailants for whatever they could get. Identifying a largely intact regal bedroom overlooking the watchtower to the rear of the keep to hole up in and rest, the group carried on clearing the bedrooms one by one until they came across a cowering adolescent goblin hiding under a bed, clutching a potion flask. The group simply stared at the Goblin, who was under the impression that he'd taken a drink from a potion of invisibility that he'd won from one of the other goblins. It was simply filthy water, however, and as the party stared at this Goblin lying under a bed staring at them, the Goblin decided his potion might be wearing off and went to take another swig. Fearing the Goblin actually had a dangerous potion of some sort, the group leapt into action, upending the bed and tackling the frightened Goblin.
Once secured, the group decided to summon Barry and get some answers from this lone survivor of their onslaught. From this pathetic youngling the party learned that there were skeletons, knights, bigger things and goblins here in the keep, all under the command of King Cadoc. When pushed, the Goblin corrected the party's assumption that Cadoc was human - Cadoc was a Goblin King and he was a mean, shouty individual who commanded authority from his troops. Explaining that they meant to wipe out any evil they found in the keep and recover the REAL Cadoc's remains and extracting a promise from the Goblin to stay locked into his room for 24 hours so he would be safe, Barry made the Goblin a makeshift hammock to secure him to the wall and keep him out of the way. Enthusiastically agreeing (after all, what did the other Goblins ever do for him other than bully him and give him a fake potion), the Goblin teen got ready for a long stint of being quiet and doing nothing in return for his life. As the party left the room, Ste's Warlock simply killed the Goblin captive stating, "What? he could have gone for reinforcements once our backs were turned. Goblins are vermin and can't be trusted." This act was doubly interesting as the playing in control of both Barry and Ste's Warlock was Chris, as Ste was working this session. Chris has essentially done a deal that Chris then had to break for character reasons. The shock wasn't lost on the other players.
Having identified an interesting door with an ornate crest above it (which the fleeing invisible Goblin seemed desperate to get to) and safely holed up in their posh bedroom, the party took a break. The interesting door was locked from the other side as the Goblin King Cadoc ordered some of his troops to join him quietly in the throne room, just in case trouble was about to find him. Taking his place on the throne and making sure to look as regal as possible (well, as regal as you can with both a human skull and cheap crown on your head), Cadoc waited to welcome in the invaders and press them into his service with a show of force and Kingly mercy. I suspected that Cadoc was in for a shock all of his own.
Goblin art party and Spider-Rain
The party stood surveying the various ways to get into the keep, weighing up the pros and the cons of climbing, traversing or simply busting through the front door. Seeking to remain undetected (having dealt with the defenders at the bridge), they considered using the collapsed left hand tower of the keep and the decayed curtain wall to their advantage. Sending up Raven's raven (try saying that a bunch during game-play without confusing your players), they performed a quick recon of the area around the keep to get better informed. Identifying weaknesses in the structure on the left, the party started to formulate a plan to enter......then the priest, Pat (Dee), pointed out that they had injured on a cart and climbing in really wasn't an option.
Plans for stealth and infiltration somewhat blunted, the party gathered at the mouldy front doors to the castle. The doors didn't fit well and it was clear through gaps in the woodwork that the door was heavy and barred on the inside. Searching for a large enough gap to have a good look through, the warlock, Barry (Chris), opted to use his Misty Step spell and teleported under the door and into the keep's antechamber.
The Antechamber was empty, save for a worm eaten carpet of obvious former decadence and two wooden mannequins, stripp[ed of their ceremonial armour standing either side of a set of double doors opposite the entrance. The other exit in this room was an impressive, but smaller, door in the right wall. The main entrance was barred with a huge wooden bar, shoed either end in heavy iron. Barry opted to let his friends in first and search after.
The doors were opened as quietly as Barry could manage, the emptiness on the entrance leaving him hope that their battle on the bridge may not have been heard. Once given entry, the group quickly brought in the cart, parking it to the left of the entry doors and making their Ranger patient as comfortable as they could. Suspecting a trap in this room, the pole-arm wielding Barry used his weapon to push and prod at the carpet in the middle of the room, hoping to undover any trap beneath. None lay under the carpet so the group debated which door to use.
Comparing the keep layout to the images Raven (Katie) got from her Raven's flight, the group identified that the double doors should lead to the keep's gardens/courtyard in the middle of the keep, which was essentially a giant hollow square with towers at the corners. Not seeing value in that direction, Ste's warlock started to walk over to the smaller door on the right.....and fell into a carefully laid pit trap as the 'solid' floor beneath him crumbled away and a trap door swung open. Luckily, Pat wasn't far behind him and dived forward, helping to catch the Warlock before he fell 20 feet onto a bed of iron spikes. By the looks of the corpse in the pit, the Warlock wouldn't have been the pit's first victim!
After hauling their friend out of the pit the group tested the rest of the flagstones between them and the right hand door. Satisfied there were no more pits waiting for them, they turned attention to listening at the door and looting the body at teh bottom of the pit using magic, netting themselves some old waterdeep minted Gold coins and a flask containing Oil of Slipperyness. At the door, Goblin voices coulkd be heard and they seemed to be.....criticizing human art?? Testing the door gently to see if it was locked, the party readied an assault.
A little puzzled about the conversation they'd heard but certain that goblins would be enemies anyway, the group simply barged into the next room, hoping to suprise whatever lay beyond. The room they broke through into was a long gallery of sorts, with some artworks and one carved bust still intact. A lack of windows in here kept the room in near dark, lit only by a pair of lanterns, but the forms of 6 goblins was clearly visible standing, as they were, around various artworks pointing and commenting like hipsters at an exhibition. Rushing in, heavy armour first, the group formed a defensive stance around Pat and goaded the Goblins to attack them.
Noticing a spider with a rider on the ceiling behind them as they formed up, the group directed their ranged fighters to kill that threat first as the polearm fighters defended their healer. Acting in concert, the Mage and ranged Warlock (Raven and Meguca) formed around the polearm wielding warlocks and, once the gobbos managed to get over the shock that they were being invaded, a well organised battle was fought.
Taking heavy damage, the Spider scurried for cover before it's rider had control of it. Knowing that cover was no protection from Meguca (who was a sharpshooter) the rest of the party focused on the goblin fighters and what looked like two more heavily armoured gobbo bosses. Despite some terrible dicing (particularly from a frustrated Ste) the fight was going well with a goblin boss and one of his lackeys staying clear of the melee, waiting to see if their friends swung the battle. When the spider-rider finally got control of his mount and leapt into battle, targeting the mage, Ste managed to hurt it really badly, killing the spider as it approached. As the rider tried to free himself from his saddle and get revenge, a fumbled swing from another Goblin in the melee knocked him out, allowing the mage to finish things.
Seeing that it was going very badly, the 2nd boss sent his lackey for help and entered combat himself, seeking to slow their attackers down. Unimpressed with his 'might' the party made quick work of him and the remaining goblins before chasing down the fleeing lackey, stopping him as he got to the exit door. Killing the Goblin and pitoning the door shut to prevent any reinforcement, the party turned back to the other side of the room where it was clear that the door there led into the front right tower of the keep.
As they gathered, Ste's warlock noticed that one of the paintings that the Goblins were gathered around seemed to be literally watching them with the portrait of a huntsman of sorts changing the angle of it's head as the party moved around the room. Thinking this may be a ghost, Barry tried to talk to it while Ste's Warlock simply turned the frame over and took the canvas, rolling it up and storing it as loot. There was certainly a ghost in this room but it was the Ghost of Skaldar, Ste's loot obsessed Tiamat following Dragonborn Warlord from our 4th edition games. I was half-expecting Ste to claim the entire keep at this stage with a hearty cry of "Mine". :)
Opting to explore the tower, the party found that a central stairwell led upwards to a landing on the upper floor. Cobwebs were everywhere and in the high ceilings of the tower, well above the landing, wqas a thick web of spider-silk. Fearing that more giant spiders may lie in the web, the party Mage was instructed to burn the webs away with her magic. With the rest of the group ready to take on the beastie that obviously lay beyond, Raven cast her spell....and caused about a hundred spider babies, some the size of puppies, to fall out of their nest and onto the party!
A little suprised (and creeped out) to have caused spider-rain, the partty went into 'kill' mode, Pat using his shield to deflect the falling threat, the warlocks stabbing and shooting with their pact-weapons and the Mage using thunderwave to shunt the falling creatures into the tower walls and away from the party. Stealth now well and truly given up and the need to not get swarmed very nuch on their minds, the party shouted to the Mage to burn everything. Casting Flaming sphere, Raven moved a firey ball around the floors to mop up any creepies that her Thunbderwave hadn't already splattered against the walls.
Now standing in a charnel-house of burned or battered spider-babies the party plotted it's next move and Pat cast a location spell, trying top get a read on where Cadoc's Circlet may be. I took the oppertunity to remind Katie that her character had systematically exterminated all of the Goblin's 'puppies' - how could she, the monster! :)
Next time the party would undoubtedly follow Dee's directions. I was hoping that his in-game navigation was a bad as his real life navigation skills so I could keep throwing things at the party.
Approaching Morren's Overlook
With a captive in hand, a camp to loot and a discarded shiny object to look for, the group split up covering all three bases at once. Barry (Chris) went off looking for the glass lens the Goblin threw away earlier, Pat (Dee) climbed the rocks to inspect the Goblin scout's position to work out what the scout was watching and the others tied up their captive Goblin, binding him to a nearby tree.
Pat discovered high quality writing accoutrements with maker's marks from Waterdeep at the scout's position, which seemed to be used to gather some sort of intel from observing the Keep. Further exploration let him to a small organised Goblin camp full of distinctly human luxuries, well made but sized for the Goblins. Pat also found a makeshift cage with a mauled, but still alive, human captive.
While Pat was looking around the camp, Barry returned to the others who were interrogating the tied-up Goblin. After some (very real) threats (and an attempt by Meguca to prevent the Goblin from being further mistreated by the 'not-evil-honest-guv' party) followed by some softer negotiations, Barry struck a deal with the Goblin whereas the Goblin would tell Barry why he was here and then Barry would tell the Goblin where to find treasure. Once the Goblin had spilled the beans, telling the party that his group were here on behalf of a Lord from Waterdeep who wanted the keep scouting out ahead of the next group. Apparently this lord's followers were very violent and cruel and the Goblin was frightened that he'd be found out for helping the party, which would lead to a very painful death at the hands of these followers. As a result, Barry agreed to dispose of the bodies in such a way that the missing Goblin wouldn't be noticed if the Goblin helped set up the sitiuation. Agreeing to these terms eagerly, the Goblin was freed and started to help pile up his former colleagues.
While the party were busy with the Goblin and clean up duties, Pat put up a cry of "Medical Emergency". It seemed that the mangaled human captive was still alive. The party stopped the mauled Human Ranger from dying and managed to get a name out of him - Eral Lecarde, apparently a Ranger here on a mission to do with a book and the Lake for the Emerald Enclave. As Eral was made comfortable (his wounds well beyond the ability of Pat's magic to fully heal), the party's goblin helped had finished piling his former companions where he had been told to. As he asked Barry whether he was free to go, Barry's Warlock companion casually used a 'shatter' spell on the goblin, obliterating his skull and adding him to the body pile. "It's never a bad thing to kill Goblins", he muttered even while Barry and Meguca looked on in shock.
In the 'real world' the players started to debate the merits and relative evilness of killing the helpful Goblin in this fasion after striking a deal with it. Chris had been planning to send the Gobbo on it's way, Olly was outraged and Katie was uncomfortable with her concience. For hios part, Ste justified his actions by stating that this Gobbo was likely to betray them, and Goblins are evil anyway. We're here to recover items and not provoke the Hobgoblins - that didn't mean they had to avoid killing goblins. With the conversation dying down some players started to relly have a good look at the runed inscribed on the spyglass innards (as I had given them a handout with this on) and decided to use their real brains on this cipher in the hopes of cracking the code. To my amazement and joyous delight, the players cooperatively worked out the message bit by bit, getting the phrase, "Oh Lord. Grant me the sight to see that which I desire". The symbology was dedicated to Asmodeus, lord of the Nine Hells, and the script had been infernal. Inspiration tokens were handed out and a level up for all players promised!
After a rest and working to keep an unconcious Eral alive, Pat made a cart using the blessings of his God and the raw materials left behind by the Goblin scouts. While the party loaded Eral onto the cart, Barry climbed to the Goblin vantage point and used the leather tube and the lens together to make a spyglass. Staring at the keep's entry bridge through the glass, it seemed that there was a glowing red cube sitting in the middle of the bridge. Without the spyglass, no cube could be seen. Deciding to move on and pulling the cart with Eral on it, the party then proceeded to Morren'r Overlook along the pathway they had already been following.
After a short journey, made longer by having to be careful with transporting Eral, the group arrived at the path to the keep's entry bridge. The keep was broken, in disrepair. Two stories plus towers (with the left tower fallen and the left-hand corner of the keep exposed to the elements as a result) stood as proud as possible, but the decay and disrepair was obvious to all to see. Mosses and lichen had taken over much of the sandstone walls and the bridge was partially damaged, low walls broken and a section of the floor fallen on one side. At one point the approach may have been impressive. It wasn't such a grand sight now.
Confirming the location of the red cube through the looking glass again, the party surmised that this was likely a hidden creature or trap of somesort - better to bombard it from distance. Meguca, the party sharpshooter, set up along the path and the others grabbed whatever ranged weapons they could. Once ready, the party bombarded the bridge with arrows and bolts.
The poor barely-visible Gelatinous Cube sat in the middle of the delapidated bridge didn't stand a chance. It managed to shuffle off the bridge but barely made it halfway to the source of the arrows before it was reduced to a pulverised pile of gooey muck. happy they'd dealt with their bridge guardian, the party advanced.
As the party moved onto the bridge, Barry overheard goblins talking, voices coming from below. These two Goblin voices were discussing what to do now the cube had been killed? When do they ambush now? Barry simply leaned over a broken wall and said into the massive ditch below the bridge "Hello down there" in Goblin.
Caught, one Goblin shoved the other into view. This Goblin was comedically wearing an ornamental human breastplate and he struggled to climb a rope up the steep incline of the 35ft ditch to the party's location at the bridge. Declaring he was the honoured "Sir Swampy McSwampington" loyal to King Cadoc, Swampy tried to convince the party to go away or else he'd set his other 'pets' on the group. Trurning the conversation on it's head to get Swampy to invite them into the Keep to meet King Cadoc and realising there were more goblins under the bridge, the party readied themselves for betrayal. As Swampy got halfway across the bridge the party struck first, shooting swampy in the back and causing the other goblins under the bridge to attack.
Pat cut the rope that Swampy had climbed, stopping further Goblin advances to their height. The party moved to a position to look under the bridge and were suprised to find two Goblins had almost climbed a second rope on the other side of the bridge while they were messing with the rope on the right hand side. Acting fast, Barry tried to cut the second rope - one Goblin fell away to the floor below sliding down the very steep incline and taking lots of damage in the fall, the second Goblin grasped the rocky slope and made it the final few holds to the top without the rope.
A goblin boss, in heavy armour, appeared from under the bridge and hurled a grappling hook up the incline. Another Goblin did the same on the other side of the bridge. These weren't meant to allow climbing, however, these gobbos were fishing for adventurers! While the boss didn't manage to connect with Ste's Warlock, the other Goblin did connect with Barry and pulled with all his might, toppling the polearm wielding ex-plumber into the ditch and causing Barry significant harm in the fall.
Now clear, the goblin that had climbed up the rope Barry had cut made a run at Meguca. Meguca responded by shooting the Goblin with a powerful shot from her heavy warlock crossbow. In a bizarre twist of fate, the Goblin's ornamental shoulder armour deflected the bolt, straight into Raven's back as she prepared to cast some supporting spells! Hurt, but unwilling to quit, Raven proceeded to put the group of Goblins advancing on the fallen form of Barry to sleep. Barry proceeded to kill these sleeping greenskins. Raven followed this up with offering a safe jump for the other polearm-warlock and as such, Ste's character leapt off the bridge, aiming to land on or behind the Goblin boss as it fished for the party priest, Pat.
After an epic death from above plunge, and a not so epic kill-the-sleepy-heads, the party emerged victorious, if a little more battered than they'd have hoped for. Meguca apologised profusely to Raven as the party sized up one of three ways into the keep. Will they take the rotten front door, the climb up to the 2nd floor on the decayed sandy blocks of the front wall, or will they traverse left to the corner of the keep and enter via the exposed ground floor? All three ways seemed to offer danger, and they did need to think about getting Eral somewhere safe so they could complete their search for the remains of Cadoc and his circlet.
What next for our intrepid Goblin-slayers?
Trip to Lake Morren
Starting their day after a rest at the Frog and Nightgown (during which the party worked out what type of skeleton they'd be looking for), the party gathered the food and water Gunther asked them for and joined him to start their journey. As they set off, walking the streets of Secomber, a lute-carrying foppish Bard with a big nose showed up and asked,
"Oh? A band of adventurers? Just what I need to inspire me! May I ask, could he help me write my next epic?"
The party were uninterested and carried on walking with Barry Fosset (Chris) intimidating the Bard with implied threats of violence. This didn't stop the Bard from dancing around the group as they walked, strumming his Lute, trying to find out details for his song. After the group got annoyed with the constant questyioning of the Bard ("Where are you questing to? What is your mission?" Etc.), Meguca (Olly) told the Bard that they were on a quest of great significance for the realm and that it would be very dangerous for the Bard to know what was going on. This made the Bard light up with apparent delight and he renewed his questioning twice as hard, much to the annoyance of the others.
Barry Fosset had a plan. Making eye contact with the Bard he followed up on Meguca's statement with a double-bluff by saying,
"The quest we're on is DEFINATELY NOT Harper business...."
The Bard stopped a moment. A sly smile crept across his lips,
"Harpers. I know some. I, too, have friends. I could help"
Then, leaning in to Barry closely, the Bard conspiritorally said,
"When shall I tell our shared friends that you are in trouble and to send help? How long are you expecting to be on your mission?"
"oohh......3 months. Maybe longer." Came the reply. Satisfied, the Bard winked at Barry and flounced off, announcing hiimself to the rest of the street as he went. Now freed of the distraction, the group marched on to the High Moor, watched by the Thug leader they had met at the Cautious Hopes the day before. Making a note to check on Alias as soon as they get back.
Gunther Bear-Friend was a capable guide, taking the party up the Delimbyr trail a while before setting off into the High Moor towards scrubby hillocks and a meadow with tall rush-like grasses. After camping in such a meadow the group continued on towards a forested section, encountering some form of mutated Ash trees, apparently a holdover from the Spellplague (according to Gunther). After coming to a hunting trail and finding strange markings forming a hammer-like symbol, the party realised that they were near an old hunting lodge, Hammers Hall. Finding their way there, the party found the place deserted and delapidated. Gunbther, however, wasn't happy about something, and as the party magically spruced up the place with prestidgitation and mending spells, Gunther wen't looking for signs of animal intrusions.
After a good night's rest, the party pushed on to the shore of Lake Morren, a murky yet sizable lake set at the foot of soft cliffs. At last they got their first view of their target - Morren's Outlook, 'King' Cadoc's doomed keep. The keep was multi-level but had obviously suffered demolition and decay, with at least one turret fallen and obvious damage to part of the curtain wall. The extent of the damage couldn't be seen at this distance and the keep was uphill, obscuring quite a lot of the details. Gunther dug into a sandy pile at the lake's shore uncovering some muck, dipping his fingers in and sniffing, he looked dissatisfied.
"There's the keep," he said.
"I'm going. Keep the fee" and he started to leave.
When questioned on why, Gunther said something about Worgs and left the party to it. Now bereft of their guide, the party slogged up the steep wooded incline towards the distant cliff-top.
After an exhausting climb, the group came across an old disused cartway. Resting up before moving along it, a refreshed party were on the alert for Hobgoblin patrols or their Worg packs. Before long they came to a large rocky outgropping upon which they could see light reflecting off something shiney at the top inside a bush, some 3 tiers and 45 feet up. Taking a defensive posture on the road, the party decided to play it cool.
"We're on our way to the keep. We aren't here for trouble. We're just going to walk on through - you don't attack us and we won't attack you, OK?" shouted Barry to the surrounding rocks and trees. Initially there was no reply, but as the group moved forward there was the undercurrent of skritches, yips and yaps - not Kobold language, but Goblin.
Being a Goblin speaker, Barry caught some of what was said and informed the group "They're deciding whether to attack or let us pass". The Goblins had in fact said that they couldn't be discovered here and were asking one another what they should do. The group kept a tight formation and watched their flanks, particularly the rocky outcrop. Moments later a bush to their right leading to a path up the side of the rocks shook and a Goblin was forcibly pushed out through it by a companion on the other side. Barry's longspear was immediately at it's throat.
"Are we cool?" Barry inquired.
"You need to leave. Go back" Responded the Goblin
Over the course of the next few minutes some threats were exchanged and a sad attempt to get the Goblin to speak (very poor) common using his pal behind the nearby bush to translate a little amounted to nothing. Eventually It was Ste's Warlock who broke up the conversation by exploding the bush, their Goblin pal, his translator and a watchman hidden above them on a ledge with a mighty Shatter spell. The Goblins reacted, shouting to one another to release the Worgs and moved to combat positions.
In the ensuing combat the party held their positions well, protecting both their healer and their spellcaster by keeping formed around their unitr. Once the Goblins revealed themselves in dribs and drabs, trying to assault the party position with stealth, the polearm weilders simply skewered the front runners while the ranged combatants (defended by Pat's shield) threw spells and crossbow bolts around.
During the fight one Goblin was seen instructing a scout on top of the rocks to "get rid of it!". The scout proceeded to throw a shiny object as far as it could off the outcropping and then proceeded to try and crew through a square of leather that he unrolled. Raven (Katie) used illusion magic to convince the Goblin he'd torn the leather in two and the Goblin threw what he thought was two halves of the leather patch away in two different directions. Noticing he'd been duped, he climbed dow to retrieve the still intact leather square instead of joining the fight.
Despite being outnumbered by the Goblins, combat was short, the party making good use of elevation and their defensive line. When the Worgs showed up with the Goblin's Boss, he lasted only moments before being skewered to death. His pets were killed shortly after after chewing a little on the Cleric.
The fight ended with Raven burning a Goblin out of his bush and Meguca running over to capture him while he tried to extinguish the flames and with the Polearm weilding warlocks jumping down after the Goblin scout who was trying to find and destroy the leather square. They succeeded, but killed the fleeing Goblin in the process. Barry picked up the leather and noticed it had some odd stitching and ridges on the inside, a clasp on the outside and an inscription and crest of some kind.
This session ended with the party performing healing on their wounded and returning to the site of the Goblin camp.
Fat Priests and their fat wallets
- Briefing in the Cautious Hopes
- Almost taking off the Halfling customer's Head with Chris's whip
- Meeting the High Truetrader
- Negotiating the job
- Finding out what the Church really had a stake in for this job
- Hiring Gunther Bear-Friend
Thugs in da hood
Our adventure began in one of Secomber's seedier establishments, much to the chargrin of both Patrick (a Forge Priest follower of Moradin played by Dee) and Meguca (a Warlock Hexblade of Noble lineage played by Olly). The group of adventurers all know one another and have worked together before, occasionally called upon to do work for a local ex-adventurer tuned Alchemist by the name of Alias Benbrook. Discussing their next move, as trade and work in Secomber was slowly dying out thanks to the tightening grip the local Hobgoblin warbands were exerting on the area, the group saw a pair of angry looking thugs in patchwork leather coats going table to table with a scrap of parchment questioning people about something.
Ready to get involved in things turned nasty, the party were pleasantly surprised to see the thugs leave without incident, just as a messenger entered the bar looking for them carrying a note in a scroll case. The note was from Alias:
"Got a job for you. Clergy. Good payer. Could be very lucrative. Come meet me for the details."
Summoned by the note to Alias' shop of the Cautious Hopes, the party set out to see what Alias needed them for.
When approaching the shop they found the streets unusually empty. Stood in front of Alias' shop were the two thugs from the bar earlier and they were turning away any traveller making onto the road approaching the shop. While forceful, they weren't threatening violence overtly, but they were clearly up to no good. The party decided to approach, undeterred by these guards.
These two thugs weren't alone and as they spotted the party, they signalled to their hidden friends to outflank the adventurers using the alleyways between the houses. Once done, the thugs intercepted the party and tried to turn them away. The party stated their intention to visit their friend in the shop. The thugs refused and got verbally nasty, trying to push Patrick. Patrick simply pushed back.The adventurers noticed the other group of thugs following them down the street at their rear. Thugs drew weapons as threats. Pact-weapons appeared in the adventurer's hands. The thugs got violently nasty. The adventurers simply got nastier.
The fight was a short one with the party, clearly underestimated by their more numerous foes, proving to be vastly superior to the thugs. A shatter spell from Barry Fosset (Chris' Warlock Hexblade) took out most of the rear group of Bandits, destroying weapons and knocking people out as it destroyed the windows of the closest buildings, Ste and Dee's characters closing in around Raven Stormwind (Katie's Illusionist) to provide protection for the Mage using chill touch, polearms and shield to keep thugs at bay, with Meguca using a Misty step spell to hop onto the buildings around the fight to gain the high ground where her bow pact-weapons could be made more useful.
In barely a few moments the bandits lay sprawled on the floor, unconscious or chilled almost to death by the chilling magics of the Warlocks. The final word in the fight was had by Meguca who cried out to the final combatant as he reached for a weapon,
"Don't try it! We have the high ground!" (cue John Williams score)
A well placed crossbow bolt at his feet had the thug standing still begging that there had been some mistake - all they wanted was to give their boss time to talk to the alchemist alone. Fearing for Alias' safety, Ste and Raven burst into the shop while Barry's patron whispered to him,
"Y'know, we should just kill these guys"
Barry's pact-holder is a complete asshole spirit of an ex-adventurer, pre-disposed to violent or simple solutions, it seemed (and I do wonder if Barry Fosset isn't based in part on Eddie Brock/Venom).
As Barry started nailing the unconscious bandits to the walls with their own weapons (none too gently, it has to be said), Patrick set to work healing the worst injured thugs, stabilising them to prevent any unnecessary death. The others burst in on an argument between a Human mercenary, dressed in better gear than the thugs, and Alias. The merc seemed unperturbed by the adventurers approach,
"You are contracted to complete this job and you are LATE. The Lighfoots want results and they want you to deliver on your promises SOON. My employers expect your delivery with all haste. You don't want to disappoint them"
The Merc turned to face the adventurers, hand casually resting on his sword hilt, still locked firmly in it';s scabbard. He started to leave, running into Ste who was blocking the door.
"Is this guy giving you any sh*t, Alias?" Ste asked.
"N-n-no. Just a client with a tight deadline. He came to check on his employer's goods" replied Alias, clearly shaken.
The Merc nodded to Ste, who let him pass into the street. Over his shoulder, Ste said,
"Your men tried to prevent us getting in. They threatened us and caused trouble. We responded"
Taking in the scene, the merc headed over to Patrick, who was clearly tending the wounded. Reaching into his coat, he weighed a leather pouch of coins.
"Does youtr temple accept donations for it's healing services?" the Merc asked gruffly.
"Or course." replied Patrick.
"Please accept this donation for your trouble. These idiots weren't supposed to cause any trouble"
The merc handed the pouch to Patrick who, after inspecting the contents, started to use stronger magic to speed the healing process. The merc moved to his men pinned to the wall and asked Barry,
"Are they alive?"
"For now. My sword doesn't like them though" replied Barry, in a chipper tone.
Slapping one of his men a little to wake him, the merc looked his man in the eye and said to him,
Before thumping him hard in the guts and walking off. Some of the more conscious men started to unpin their compatriots and follow their leader, down the road. The adventurers stood by and let them go. No point in antagonising the men at this stage and restarting the fight. Curtains twitched as people in the houses braved a look at proceedings now that the immediate danger was obviously passed.
This mercenary in the employ of the Lightfoots was not happy at all as he walked down the road, away from his encounter with the adventuring group. He had given his men a simple task. They had failed. He had at least seen that the Alchemist's work was nearly complete - the evidence was in the shop and clear as day. He'd report to his employers that they should expect delivery soon, but he'd hedge his bets by leaving behind someone he could trust to 'remind' this Alias to hurry up. Those adventurers would be trouble though - he'd have to report to his captain that they'd need better men just in case Alias decided to have them do his delivery. It wouldn't do to have the Lightfoots get personally involved. More than his life was worth, in fact. He schemed as he walked, barely noticing the men following him at a small distance, heads hung low like whipped dogs.