Tuesday, December 31, 2013

RL #12: Invisible Assailant

The party delved into the forest while the sun was still low, following the walking paths established by Morningsong's woodsmen, and numbering twelve: the four PCs, Dowding, Kleigha, four additional men-at-arms, and two hunters. After stopping at a small campsite for their midday meal, the company came upon a stream, where a weathered cowl adorned with a lion's head brooch was found in the shallow rocks. Splitting themselves six-and-six to investigate further, the upstream group located the corpse of a woodsman, bearing a single piercing wound between his neck and shoulder. A few erratic bootprints and a lone claw-like track were spotted in the mud nearby.

The downstream group returned with no similar discovery, only a wounded militia man after an altercation with one of his allies related to the logistics of their search. Dowding seemed not overly concerned; undaunted, the company continued on as the sun set, hoping to reach the next outpost before nightfall.

As they marched along the darkening, forest trail by torchlight, the altercation from the stream again rekindled, this time resulting in both weapons and blood drawn. The other men-at-arms were ordered to bind the aggressors with rope, but as they did, more skirmishes erupted amid the contingent until a full-on melee ensued. Attempting to think quickly, Alaric used to detect evil while Aginot cast enthrall.

By the time the men from Morningsong were clinging to the priest's every word, Leilana had turned against the captain and Alaric was striking off after a presence he located in the trees - and according to the paladin, the ghostly, mounted rider presumed to be Lord Hanwey could be seen in the distance, beckoning him on. Nora and Dowding followed Alaric on faith, not seeing the "apparition" for themselves but sensing that something was amiss.

As they searched the grounds, Dowding was attacked by an invisible assailant who leaped upon his back and stabbed (something) into his neck. The PCs struggled to fight off the attacker, and though they eventually caused it to flee by way of sword and spell and the militia men were saved, Dowding succumbed to poison in his wound and perished.

All through the night and for the better part of the next day the party trudged back along the trail until they returned to the village, both their condition, and news, grim.

DM's Commentary

I hope this was a fun one to play, because it was frustrating as hell to run. The players' rolls were beyond awful, and every 50-50 decision felt like the wrong one. Kudos to Aginot for the enthrall spell, an effort that single-handedly saved the majority of the woodsmen. That really was the highlight, as every other course taken seemed to end in disaster.

Not how I expected the session to end, but that should make things all the more interesting for next time. The party definitely has a lot to think about. All for now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

RL #11: A New Ally

The group picked up last night (all in person, this time!) in Morningsong, eager to learn more of the village and its happenings - and the deeper the party delved, the more certain they became that something dark and sinister was shrouded in the past. Aginot, particularly, felt drawn to a sense of duty that the supposed "ghost" of Lord Hanwey needed the PCs' aid to somehow reconcile the events that led up to his demise in the famed battle against the orcs.

As the party plodded about the village and conversed with Dowding and Lady Silva, they met two new personalities of note: Nora, an unbranded, runaway thief from the town of Morfenzi whose history with the Talons was all-too-similar to their own, and a retired man-at-arms named Kleigha who spoke his remembrances of Lord Hanwey and his daughters inside the pub. Nora had arrived in Morningsong only two days prior, and circumstances warranted that she join the party as their ally straightaway.

After uncovering little in their first full day in the village (aside from a local rumor that Lady Silva's mute servant was actually her younger brother and only living relative), the companions took their sleep willingly. During the night, Aginot woke in a haze and spotted the mute, Azrael, peering into his first-story window. A second later, he was gone.

The next morning, the PCs plotted to tuck a slip of parchment bearing a message on Azrael in the village square, though the attempt failed. Afterward, as Dowding assisted a feign-swooning Aginot back to the Lion's Head tavern, Nora and Leilana trailed Lady Silva back to her cottage, then followed Azrael around back when the governess and her escort stepped inside. The mute approached a lonely well and delved briefly into the surrounding trees before Leilana revealed herself and drew near. The mute shook his head when asked if he could read, eyed the druid with suspicion and retreated from her advance. In the end, Nora and Leilana returned to the tavern to reconvene with their friends.

Aginot yet hoped that Azrael would return to meet them, but his augury yielded only more uncertainty:

You meddle in things that you do not fully understand.

The message was interpreted as neither weal nor woe (or at least, unable to be determined), and after the mute failed to arrive, the party again took refuge for the eve, this time with Nora hidden in the shadows outside. Around midnight, Azrael wandered into the village square toting a wooden bucket and drawing water from the communal well. Nora trailed the mute at a distance but departed after he (predictably) entered Lady Silva's cottage. How strange, Leilana pondered the next morning, that the servant would make the effort to visit the common well during the dead of night, when a seemingly adequate one was located just outside his own cottage?

The session ended as the party prepared to depart the village with Dowding and his contingent, unsettled as they were that so many questions remained unanswered...

DM's Commentary

This was a relatively quick session run on little preparation, and considering that, it went well. Most importantly, we welcomed a new player (new to our game and to D&D in general) into the party. Hopefully Kristen had a good time and came away with a good (and positive) feel for how the game works. Her PC, Nora, was rolled up only about an hour before we played, and even so meshed seamlessly with the rest of the characters.

As last time, no XP to award right now. Jason, would you mind posting the contents of the message that Aginot intended for Azrael, when you can? Anyone who has questions/clarifications or any other thoughts to add about the session can feel free to post them in the comments below.