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.

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