Friday, February 22, 2013

RL #7: Silver and Wolfsbane

Yesterday evening the PCs returned from the forest, having barely escaped with their lives at the claws of the loup-garou. Back in Chatain, the bodies of the two woodsmen were being carted away and prepared for funerary rites the coming eve. When asked what meaningful possessions were found on them, a strong-looking, dark-haired woman dressed in black leathers named Merena stepped forward, revealing a pair of silver-coated blades - a dagger and a short sword.  Merena, the companions knew, had lived in Chatain for the past few years and frequently carried arms about her person; whence she came previously, they knew not. Her demeanor was bold and accusatory as she voiced her concern that the killings were brought about by the party's return from Souragne.

The PCs took the blades and bade Elias to keep Jean Tarascon's dagger to protect the village. They also laid claim to an intricate vial filled with a clear, watery liquid found on the woodsmen. After speaking to Alpin, the local lore master, they delved into the forest in search of the purple-flowering plant called "wolfsbane," locating a patch near the edge of the swamp (and assisted quite handily by Leilana's magic).

That night they sat amid the Winter Wolf Tavern preparing their strategy, deciding it best to trek deep into the forest to expose themselves to the loup-garou in hopes of drawing an attack. As Aginot brewed a batch of wolfsbane tea in the hearth, Merena entered the tavern and inquired of the group's plan, offering her assistance and company, to which the party readily agreed.

In the morning they set out, distancing themselves more the a mile from the village proper, deep within the bowels of the vigila dimorta surrounding Chatain. The day passed uneventfully, and as darkness fell, a subtle fog settled upon the groves, limiting the party's visibility, though not gravely. The companions built a fire for warmth; shortly thereafter, a faraway wolf's howl played at their confidence. Dancing shadows cast by the flickering firelight tested their senses, and Leilana set herself in a tree for ambush.

They didn't have to wait long. Moments later, an imposing, wolflike figure appeared, standing upright on two hind legs at the edge of the clearing, a head again as tall as Alaric. "We meet again," it uttered in a rasping voice that sounded more animal than human. It darted toward the fire and Alaric charged headlong to meet it but as he did, Aginot commanded the wolf to sleep and it toppled to the leaf-covered ground. Alaric thrust his magic sword down through its body, eliciting an unworldly howl; Merena pierced the wolf's hide with one of the woodsmen's silver blades, though to her horror the weapon did nothing.

The loup-garou scrambled to its feet and attacked, using unrivaled quickness and ferocity to outmatch its assailants. Subsequent castings against it failed and Merena withdrew to the fire. When Alaric fell, Leilana waded in and struck true with her own magically-enchanted spear, and Aginot punched a fistful of wolfsbane into the creature's maw, sacrificing his own arm.

Already down Alaric, the remaining PCs struggled to stay alive against their mighty foe. Finally, when hope seemed all but lost, Merena took up the magic longsword and plunged its wolfsbane-coated blade into the beast's torso, laying it low. She ran it through again for good measure, then they all dragged the body, newly transformed into the man they recognized as Alec Rapacion, into the campfire and burned it to ash.

At morning's first light the foursome returned to Chatain, earning applause and accolades upon relaying all that transpired. Thereafter, Aginot and Leilana retired to the inn and Alaric to his church for a long overdue rest.

XP and DM's Commentary

Last night's victory hinged on a number of subtle factors, and the die rolls proved strongly in the group's favor: one-in-twenty odds of locating wolfsbane succeeded; timely saving throw and magic resistance rolls by the loup-garou failed; reasonably high attack and very high damage rolls for the heroes in the battle of their lives. Strategic thinking was critical and effective, as this session harbored many paths that might easily have ended in the party's utter demise had their course unfolded differently.

The only experience gained for this session is for slaying Rapacion himself, but that award is a hearty 4,000 XP. It seems only just to divide the spoils evenly with Merena as well, therefore 1,000 XP is awarded to each PC, bringing their updated totals to:

  • Alaric - 4,717
  • Aginot - 4,717
  • Leilana - 4,667

Alaric and Leilana have gained 3rd level; before they can advance further, Alaric must spend one week in prayer and quiet reflection, and Leilana must pass equal time in the forest among nature and its denizens. This session was very well-played by all, and the PCs should feel prideful of their accomplishments.

The Order of the Coin

"Life does not persist without the accumulation of debts.

Bounty awaits for those who pay good deeds forward, who return kindness with kindness, and who sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Ruin awaits the wicked, the greedy and the selfish.

Those who depart with debts unpaid will be cursed in the afterlife.

The Order settles all debts."

--Thus speaketh Aginot, Friar of the Order of the Coin