John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Attack of the Kneebiter Brigade

In the kingdom of Anndulir, at the foot of the mountain known as Laguder's Crown, there were three halflings, a dwarf, and a human druid with antlers on his head. This is their story!

In other words, we had the first D&D session last night. The party consists of:

  • Gnolga Brockenbrow (sirfox), a CN dwarf fighter who was sent packing by her kinsmen due to her, er, "impulse control issues." She began the adventure in the local stockade after a barroom brawl which all evidence suggests she probably started.

  • Seraphina (laurie_robey), a NG halfling scout who hails from the local town and thus wants to help out with its troubles. We may have to get her a dog, as the only female halfling miniature I've got is riding around on one.

  • Vin (hantamouse), a N human druid of Obad-Hai, come to town to investigate a mysterious plague. He wears the traditional garb of his order — including the antlered helm — and is also by far the tallest member of the group.

  • Illiardo (jamesbarrett), a NE ("neutral selfish, actually") halfling rogue who dual-wields shortswords. Not intentionally modelled after Belkar from Order of the Stick, but close enough. He also began the adventure in the stockade.

  • Budger Sandalthorn (NPC), a NG halfling wizard. Basically, Old Bilbo with magic missiles. He's primarily a utility mage rather than a damage dealer.

The first adventure is a modified version of Hollow's Last Hope from Paizo's Gamemastery/Pathfinder line; the town of Fellhollow has been struck by a nasty epidemic of Blackscourge Taint, a fungal infection which is normally only dangerous to small children or the elderly, but this strain is unusually strong and virulent. People all over town are developing its nasty symptoms, and otherwise perfectly-healthy people have died. The heroes (or anti-heroes, as the case may be) have offered there services to Laurel, the local herbalist, as assistants — although in the case of Gnolga and Illiardo, it was in exchange for their bail to get out of the stockade.

Laurel explained that she has tried every cure in her books except for the very last one, a crazy-sounding hoodoo sort of recipe that requires ingredients she just doesn't have access to and doesn't have the time to go chasing down as she is doing her best to relieve the suffering of the afflicted townsfolk. So, as her assistants, it falls upon the PCs to go find them. The items are a sample of elderwood moss, which supposedly only grows on "the oldest tree in a forest," [1] a pickled root called "rat's tail," and seven ironbloom mushrooms, which Gnolga is familiar with because they're a popular snack among the dwarves.

Thus begins the Great Ingredient Hunt. The party left town headed north into Fellhollow Forest, with three main goals in mind. First was the hut of a witch named Ulizmila, an ancient crone of nasty reputation, but who might have a sample of rat's tail on hand. Second was the ruin of an ancient dwarven citadel, as a likely place to find ironbloom mushrooms. Third was a lumber camp in the general vicinity of the first two, figuring that if anybody would know where the oldest tree in the forest was, it would be lumberjacks. [2]

They spent an afternoon of tromping and a night of camping under an overhanging rock, which was uneventful except for the howling of wolves in the distance. The next morning they happened upon a trio of semi-inebriated hunters who were chasing a local breed of deer. Questioning these good ol' boys gave them vaguely-creepy but followable directions to Ulizmila's hut, after which the hunters set off after the deer again in completely the wrong direction.

When they reached the choice of turning right (to Ulizmila's hut) or left (to the dwarven ruins), Gnolga asserted herself and they turned left. Arriving at the citadel around mid-day, they found it to be a combination of monastery and fortress devoted to Laguder, the dwarven god of endless toil without reward (patron of the duergar). Gnolga informed the party of this, and also that she knew a bit of the history of the place. There was once a whole dwarven city under the mountain, and that they'd originally been followers of Moradin. At some point, the worship changed over to Laguder for reasons unknown, and not too long after that the civilization collapsed in on itself.

The citadel was now a crumbling ruin, with walls collapsed and large chunks of ceiling having fallen in. Poking around the courtyard they found the body of a would-be adventurer, apparently dead for months or possibly a year, which had been chewed up by something. They also found a watchtower, but upon hearing some sort of large critter moving around inside it decided not to investigate it, heading for the main building instead.[3]

The entryway and its associated subrooms revealed the long-dead corpse of an apparently-suicidal follower of Laguder, and a cloak room now containing only a few mouldy rags and an ancient hat. Lifting the hat purely by chance, they found their first item — an ironbloom mushroom growing out of the wooden table. This was quickly picked and wrapped up in a sack, leaving only six more to go.

Next they entered a large chamber that turned out to be a chapel — originally to Moradin, then converted to Laguder, then finally desecrated by parties unknown. As they poked around the room, they were suddenly engulfed in blackness, as mysterious flapping creatures with tentacles swooped down upon them! They spent a round fumbling in the dark, trying their best to fight back against whatever horrors were assaulting them, but Budger managed to dispel the supernatural blackness with a light spell.[4]

The monsters in question turned out to be darkmantles, which had been lurking in the rafters above and cast darkness on pebbles they were holding, then dropped the pebbles down into the room. Gnolga quickly dispatched one of them with her dwarven waraxe, but the other managed to get a grasp on Illiardo and was attempting to consume his head, looking like nothing more than a macabre pointed hat. (Presumably if it had managed to finish swallowing Illiardo's head, it would have looked like an executioner's hood.)

This second darkmantle proved much more difficult to kill — Vin even critically-hit it with a thrown dagger while Illiardo flail-punched at it ineffectively, but it wasn't until Seraphina managed to get a good solid shot with her skirmish bonus that the nasty thing died. Illiardo kicked it across the room in disgust, making a nasty splat on the wall.

We called it a night there, figuring that character generation and the first big fight was a good start. We'll see how it goes from here ... the lack of a party leader and/or spokesman (the highest Cha PC in the group is 11, and that's the surly halfling rogue), and the imminent problem of "why would these people stay together once they finish this job" is going to need addressing. What do you do with a group where everybody wants to play a support character? :D

-The Gneech

[1] Fortunately, they don't have to cut the tree down with a herring to get it.

[2] They're okay. They sleep all night and they work all day.

[3] After a bit of advice from Vin, that don't you know, you never split the party.

[4] Yes, it finally happened, somebody attacked the darkness. And the darkness was slain!
Tags: dungeons & dragons, gaming
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