Wednesday, August 14, 2013

RL #9: A Debt Repaid

Sometimes, under the threat of utmost peril, even the most downtrodden and oppressed can rise up to defend that which is worth defending. And so it was that, as Leilana rode the Talon captain's plundered steed back to the edge of Chatain, a party of six able-bodied villagers strode boldly out to meet her and travel at her side: Karsten the innkeeper; Merena the warrioress; the boy Elias and his uncle; Alpin the loremaster; and an armored militia fighter. Together, torches blazing, they made their way into the night.

After a several-hour march, a campfire was sighted in the distance, and the company from Chatain extinguished its light sources. The party knew that the Talons had been slowed, both from having lost two horses in the village and from the burden of prisoners among their ranks.

Making use of her infravision, Leilana circled around the camp whilst the remaining would-be rescuers fanned out to either side. At Leilana's call, the allies began clashing their weapons, causing steel-on-steel to ring across the glade and alerting the Talons to an unseen threat.  The Talons stood with swords raised, firing arrows haphazardly between the trees at their captain's call, though they hit and saw nothing.

Suddenly, the trees around the camp began wrapping the Talons in unnaturally-moving branches, holding fast the captain and two others, along with the still-shackled Aginot and Alaric. The rescuers charged into the fray, and bloodshed quickly ensued. Talons fought vehemently, but they were outnumbered in the wake of Leilana's spell. In the end, Karsten and two enemy soldiers were laid low before the last standing Talon surrendered. When the entanglement finally ceased, the Talon captain was held at sword point.

Leilana tethered two of the surviving Talons to their horses by their feet, though a third bolted into the night after serving a boot to the druid's face. The captain yielded the key to unlock his prisoners, and then was bound hand-and-feet in those same iron bands. Victorious, the companions deliberated their course.

At long last, the party turned back for Chatain, five horses and three Talon captives in tow. They arrived at sunrise, though instead of entering the village, they circled around it, to the edge of Souragne. Throughout the morning, a makeshift raft was constructed of fallen logs and rope, and as the sun rose high overhead, the Talons, still bound, were set adrift in the marshes, never to return. Finally, the contingent returned home, where Karsten would be laid to rest and the adventurers could heal.

Taking only enough time for Alaric to recover from his wounds, the trio of Aginot, Alaric, and Leilana rode forth from the village on horseback two days hence under a cloudless sky, leaving their memories of Chatain far behind.

DM's Commentary

It was definitely a crazy night, and once again the entanglement spell played a huge role in the outcome. At this point, I think it's important that I do some research and provide official rulings as far as what can and can't be done within the spell's area of effect. Off the cuff, I don't think that insta-kills of entangled opponents is reasonable - "held fast" isn't the same as unconscious or completely incapacitated in my interpretation, and coup de gras should really be saved for those situations where the opponent has zero awareness. (Aside from that, though, such an action is likely not something Alaric would ever support...)

In that vein, the most interesting part of this session, for me, was the moral discussion around what to do with the Talon captives. Alaric wasn't present for the game last night, so Aginot's and Leilana's players had to weigh not only their own characters' actions, but the paladin's moral compass as well. In the end, the decision to ship the soldiers off into the swamp was a pretty brilliant way of letting justice be served while not resorting to rash solutions like maiming or execution (both of which were considered...).

XP/Spoils

First, a list of noteworthy items plundered from the Talons:

  • The captain's longsword (given to Alaric)
  • The captain's iron ring - embedded with a red, swirling, marble-like gem, which looks very out of the ordinary
  • The captain's belt and boot daggers
  • The captain's belt pouch - containing 100 gp in coins along with a valuable-looking, jewel-encrusted necklace
  • Three longswords, two short bows, and several daggers and dirks taken from the remaining Talons
  • Five suits of chainmail - all either left behind or submerged in the marshes
  • Various food and miscellaneous supplies found in saddlebags - the PCs are free to assume whatever reasonable provisions they can carry, with the rest handed over to Chatain

As for XP, I'm only posting a high-level breakdown to avoid revealing too much specific information:

  • Soldiers defeated - 1,060 XP
  • Items recovered - 2,750 XP

That totals 3,810 points, however the XP is divided five ways, between Leilana, Aginot, Alaric, Merena, and all other surviving villagers (none of which warrant a fully equal share). Therefore, each PC receives 762 XP for the past two sessions - the fact that Aginot and Alaric were captured doesn't detract from their awards. Additionally, Leilana receives two individual awards of 100 XP and 50 XP, the first for orchestrating and executing the rescue plan, and the second for the idea of setting the Talons adrift in the swamp and reconciling the moral disparity within the party.

All that said, updated XP totals are:

  • Leilana - 5,579
  • Aginot - 5,529
  • Alaric - 5,479

No levels gained, to my knowledge, but this was nevertheless a very solid end to an extremely problematic situation. Leilana, especially, should feel proud of what was accomplished. I'll end the post with Karsten's dying words:
"Someday, a champion among men will defeat Vlad Drakov and put an end to his reign of terror. Do not let me have died in vain."

2 comments:

  1. The maiming was my idea, mostly. At first, I wanted to cut off the captain's sword hand. Then, I considered just stabbing him in the palm with his own dagger. Then, after I had taken his boots, I really wanted to crush one of his feet with my staff, to prevent any realistic chance of escape. He's a deadly foe, and required (at least in Aginot's mind) deadly measures to deal with.

    And there's the matter of avenging Karsten, and Elias' father, and the Talons are just generally not nice. I didn't see a clean "out" for dealing with the captives, which is what made Sara's idea so brilliant.

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  2. But to whom is justice really owed? Is it the Talons carrying out the king's orders, or King Drakov himself? What gives the people of Chatain the right to enact their own flavor of justice upon those who act in the service of their king?

    One thing that's gotten really interesting in this campaign is the notion of "justice" as it relates to the law of the land versus the characters' own sense of morality. As the rule of King Drakov is ubiquitously seen as malicious and oppressive, justice becomes a product of individual perceptions of right and wrong. For a paladin especially, this is what defines the core of his being. A word like "vengeance" is a very precarious one for a paladin. Vengeance is most assuredly a slippery slope, one that I wonder how far Aginot would slide down were Alaric not there to hold him up?

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