Crown of the Dead [D&D v.3.5] – Part 18

This adventure was Friday August 7, 2015. T.F., E.G., K.D., A.T., and C.H. were present.

Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann is unsure if he is comatose or awake and badly hurt. He takes the question to Sister Janus. Her professional opinion involves a few healing spells.

Pann’s condition is not unique. The rest of his party is in rough shape after this morning’s fight with Skeletons. But their spirits are high – they succeeded where the Corinthians failed.

The party wants some down-time. Jere Collado goes for lunch. Rogue-Ranger Pann limps off to their storefront cabin, where he will spend the day woodworking. Gnome Barbarian Wee Jack and half-Orc Ranger Xorn ascend to take a casual watch over the lands outside Riddley’s Crown.

One of the guards, Blents, suggests they keep an eye to the north-east. He thinks he saw a glint of reflected sunlight out that way, off something metal. Aside from clusters of zombies wandering the grasslands, Spot checks by Xorn and Wee Jack don’t see anything.

The half-Orc Ranger quickly grows bored. Xorn arms up and leaves the main gate on his own. He fights a pair of zombies just for entertainment. A distance away, the two half-Orc rangers, Krusch and Bombast, stop to watch him in combat. Impressed, they resume their hunt.

Wee Jack, on the western wall, discovers something both amusing and concerning. A hundred yards away, Ranger Carson Readey appears to be training the Redmond Brigade. The five civilians, decked out in the leather-scale armor gifted from Xorn, listen as Readey explains something inaudible to Wee Jack. The Ranger gestures as he talks, and the Gnome Barbarian can only guess at what truly terrible advice he is passing on.

Then, to Wee Jack’s horror, Ranger Readey arranges the five Redmond Brigaders into formation and sends them against two unarmed, plain-Human zombies. It is a clumsy and messy fight – the Redmond Brigade hold a five-to-two advantage backed by Readey’s waiting bow, but they are woefully underpowered using clubs and Piercing-damage pitchforks. So night-soil a display was it that Wee Jack goes to the blacksmith’s shop, buys back used weapons his group sold her, and personally delivers them to the hapless Redmond Brigaders. He drops a longsword, two battleaxes, and pair of scimitars at their feet, then wordlessly stomps back to the wall.

He does not want to, but Wee Jack is so annoyed that he cannot help but watch their continuing antics. Now the civilians are distracted; Jim, his sister Carol, Summer, Steve, and Barry struggle with who gets what weapon. It appears to the Gnome observer that how manly or graceful each Redmond peasant looks with a weapon, matters more than, say, proficiency.

Eventually the group settles the armament issue, does some drill with Readey, and then bumbles into another awkward fight, this time with a trio of zombies. After picking items of interest off the corpses, the Redmond Brigade and their leader hurry back to the enclave.

Wee Jack resolves to avoid them at all cost. The Gnome Barbarian sneaks back into their storefront cabin. He finds Collado, Pann, and Xorn lounging about. Consensus in the party is to bed down early, and tomorrow investigate the northeast where the guard thought he saw something.

The next day, Paladin Raygar Brightblade and his associates are the last hunters out of the gate. The Corinthians, the Redmond Brigade and Readey, and the two half-Orc fighter-rangers have all made an early start. None have gone in the direction the party intends to go.

The group is not even a hundred yards from the enclave wall when Cleric Jere Collado’s Spot check, the best of the group, catches a brief glint in the grass to the northeast. He indicates approximately where he saw it. Cautiously steering clear of wandering zombies, Xorn leads the way.

A while later, Noomfoodle Gobbliegook Pann comments on how close they are to the forest. They have hiked further north in the plains than ever before. Were they to turn south now, Wee Jack suspects they would find themselves north of the second ruined village, the one where he and Xorn encountered barbarian zombies while scouting on their own just over a week ago.

Ranger Xorn suddenly halts the group; he alone made the Spot check to notice an anomaly in the long, waving grasses at the crest of a low hill ahead and to the left. It looked like metal, perhaps armor. As a Ranger, the party’s capable half-Orc knows the precise distance to it, and that distance is exceptionally short.

Raygar Brightblade, Jere Collado, even keen-eyed Ranger-Rogue Pann fail to see any threat in the tall, dense weeds ahead. Xorn leads closer, and stops. Wee Jack is ready for anything, trusting that his Ranger friend knows best. For a full minute, the party stands still, tense and waiting. The wind sifts the grasses. Nothing happens.

Gnome Pann loudly insists that he doesn’t see anything. He is eager to move on. A Listen check; Collado hears a sound from the approximate area before them, sort of a rasping muttering. Xorn speaks Goblesh – the voice of a pissed-off Goblin quietly suggests that the Gnome go away and find occasion to commit a frankly-impossible lewd act upon himself.

Then another Goblin, hidden close by the first camouflaged speaker, hisses a warning to shut the Hells up. A third Goblin, completely out of sight, warns the first two that “the idiot Gnomes” and “that Hobgoblin”, meaning Xorn, probably heard them. When the party draws weapons to attack, that same voice triumphantly crows that he was right.

Six Goblins jump up from hiding, with a burst of shrieks and hollers. Every seam and strap of their armor is stuffed with grasses, well-arranged in some places but absent in others, leaving gaps where buckles and chain-mail caught the sun.

Brightblade, Pann, and Wee Jack charge in. One of the goblins, evidently a Cleric of Nerull under a thick wrap of foliage, falls back and begins casting spells against the party. Ranger Xorn casts Entangle on the ground beneath this cleric’s feet; the weeds come alive, snaking around the cleric’s legs and impeding his movement.

Motivated by their stout leader, four of the goblin soldiers are eager to fight. Two goblins carry light crossbows; they fire without hesitation. A mid-ranking goblin and a melee fighter meet the Paladin, Ranger-Rogue, and Barbarian in a clash of steel.

Cleric Jere Collado notices a clear part to the goblin leader, who is not yet engaged in combat. Stacking up Divine Might, a Smite Evil, and the best impression of a Power Attack he can muster, Collado charges the vicious little goblin sergeant. His strike is a Critical Hit; the damage is so massive that the goblin is killed with that single hit.

The goblins are instantly demoralized. The crossbow goblins toss their weapons aside and babble about retreating “to the base”. Other goblins yell to shut up about the secret hidden base. The bowmen are cut down by Brightblade and Pann. The second-in-command tries to shore up the confidence of his minions. It is a losing effort.

The Cleric of Nerull, his spells ineffective and his mobility hampered, calls for a strategic withdrawal to “tactical base ‘gurnthk’ ”. The remaining survivors shout that, yes, their intention is to get back to the stone tower at the forest’s edge as quick as possible.

Next the goblin Cleric casts Lesser Invisibility, only to break the spell by attacking Xorn with his scythe when the half-Orc Ranger strays too close. The Cleric’s life ends soon after, in failure. Other goblins, in disarray, are easily put down as they try to retreat.

One is captured; Xorn Intimidates his puny, wounded, disarmed captive but the goblin is too freaked out to give up any good or useful information. Turning the creature loose, the party is pleased to watch their dim-witted prisoner make a beeline for a specific part of the forest’s edge. The goblin disappears over a low grassy hill but Xorn is certain he can pick up its tracks.

There is loot to be taken off the bodies, all of the gear Small-sized and some of it of Masterwork quality. The party takes what has value. Xorn begins tracking the goblin back to its not-so-secretive base.

Cresting the small hill and getting a better view of the woods, the party is surprised to see a stone tower, just barely visible inside the dark, dense forest. They had no idea such a thing was to be found here, nor have they any idea whose it is or was.

It is now noon on the 27th day of March, by the local calendar.

 

(end of Part 18)

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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