Weeks 1 and 2 -- "Blood, Battle, and Bactine"
Continued from the Prologue “Death Among the Sammiches”, found here:
As the Sorceror King recovered from his severe case of botulism at the hands of the deadly Kobold Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches (sandwiches contain virtually no actual Kobold), a small band of heroes were assembling in the glorious capital city of Tamalir.
“OW! That stings!” snapped Silhouette. The svelte rogue fixed Runewitch Astarra with a steely glare. Astarra paid the rogue no mind as she continued applying the mysterious liquid to one of the many cuts decorating her comrade’s brow.
“It’s supposed to sting. That’s how you know it’s working.” The runewitch muttered. Silhouette grimaced. “What is it, anyway? Some sort of weird witchy-poo potion? Eye of newt, tongue of frog, that sort of thing?”
“It’s Bactine,” said Astarra. Silhouette stared at the runewitch in disbelief. “That’s your magic healing potion? Bactine? What kind of witch are you?” Astarra smiled. “I’m a runewitch, dearie. And if you want to break your face in bar brawls, that’s no concern of mine. But don’t expect me to use our hard-earned healing potions to fix your bar-room boo-boos!”
Silhouette muttered “He started it. I just wanted to know what time it was.” Battlemage Jaes sat examining a stack of dusty tomes, but looked up to say “Next time, Silhouette, just ASK the man instead of liberating his pocketwatch to check for yourself, hmmm?” From the corner where he sat sharpening his swords, Mordrog said “She just be bored, like Mordrog. When we go smash evil tings and take their stuff?”
Jaes closed his book and picked up a map of the realm. “Funny you should mention that, my green-hued friend! As it happens, I’ve just heard from some peasants from down south that the land has been covered in a spreading cloak of foul darkness. Rumors abound of an ascendant Sorcerer King, who seeks to bring Eternal Night to all of blessed Terrinoth!
Mordrog grinned. “Does he got evil things to bash?”
Jaes chuckled. “He does, as you say, have many evil things to –as you put it so succinctly—bash.
Silhouette’s eyes lit up with a familiar gleam. “And these evil things – they have lots of stuff? Lots of shiny stuff? With a high resale value to certain individuals who collect antiquities and don’t ask too many questions concerning provenance thereof?”
Jaes sighed. “Yes, oh Most Materialistic of Women, he has scads of phat lewt.”
Runewitch Astarra asked “Is he single and cute?” Blank stares ensued from her companions. “What? I’m not getting any younger here, kiddos, and I’ve always had a thing for the ‘bad boys’. Why, I could tell you about this Red Wizard of Thay I knew in my younger days. . .
Mordrog jumped up “No! Not tell story about red magic guy and leather hotpants! Mordrog cannot hear that story again!”
Battlemage Jaes said “We can’t just waltz up to the Sorcerer King and knock on his door. For one thing, his keep is veiled in blackness. I mean, his domain isn’t just overcast. It’s not even ominously gloomy. It’s pitch black. We are likely to be eaten by a grue!”
Mordrog started to ask “What is gr—“
“Totally not important!” Jaes interrupted. “What is important, is that before we can face this guy, we need to gear up. So I’ve located this homey little hole in the ground near Starfall Forest that we can break into – I mean, ah, liberate from the Forces of Evil.”
“Huzzah!” cheered the heroes, and off they went. “Wait! Wait!” Astarra cried. “We need to consult the runes!” So saying, she pulled two black cubes from her voluminous robe, and cast them upon the ground. “Whew!” she sighed. “No blanks. OK, people, the coast is clear, let’s get a move on!”
“So . . . the runes say the omens are good?” Battlemage Jaes asked. Astarra grinned. “The runes say we’re all mentally unhinged. But the dice say we don’t have any encounters on this trail.”
“DARN!” said a chorus of disappointed, guttural voices from the underbrush along the trail. “We were just spoiling for a good ambush, too.”
“No ambushes! You saw the roll! Now, clear off, the lot of ye!” called Astarra.
Meanwhile, back at the Sorceror’s Keep . . .
The Sorceror King groaned. “Where am I? What happened?”
“Be at ease, Highness” Alric said. “You nearly went to your eternal reward after eating that poisoned sandwich, but your dark priests healed you. It was just a matter of a few unholy rituals.”
“Is . . . is that why I’m covered in peanut butter and Tabasco sauce?” the Sorcerer King asked
“No, that was when Chutley thought the ritual had failed and was preparing you for dinner. “Waste not, want not,” I believe, were his words. No, the evil ritual was beyond my comprehension, but I believe part of it involved bankrolling another Uwe Bolle movie. The ritual would also explain your sudden lack of any and all body hair, as well as the largish tattoo of David Hasselhoff on your back.
The Sorceror King shuddered. “I can’t listen to any more! At least I yet live to wreak my own brand of malevolent, but somewhat less deranged, evil upon the realm! Seriously though, those dark priests are whacked out. David Hasselhoff? Gah!”
Suddenly, Chutley the Kobold Steward burst into the room, shouting “Heroes! Heroes on the loose! The Hero-Detector be goin’ off in Starfall!” Chutley did a double-take upon seeing the Sorcerer King sitting up in bed. “Oh! Your Mustardly! Chutley so glad you feeling better!”
“I’ll deal with you later, you treacherous seasoner of your superiors! Tobasco and peanut butter? Really?” Chutley cowered, as kobolds are wont to do on such occasions, and the Sorcerer King threw off the remnants of his illness and rose to Do Evil in the Land!
Seizing his scrying crystal, the Sorcerer King focused on his dungeon at Starfall Forest, and beheld the unsuspecting Heroes approaching the hidden entrance to the dungeon. . .
“I can’t believe they think this entrance is hidden” Silhouette laughed. Jaes chuckled as well and said “What, the big trapdoor with “NOT a Lair of Evil” written on it in crayon? With the trail of bones leading up to it? And the ominous soundtrack playing somewhere underground?”
“This gonna be easy money!” said Mordrog, as he kicked in the door with one massive green foot. Within, a subterranean river flowed swiftly through a large cavern. Eldritch minions, including a master sorcerer, skeletons, and dark priests, turned as one from their cribbage game to behold the intruding do-gooders. Their leader Shellis, a mighty Master Skeleton cried “Destroy them! And bring me their kneecaps!”
One of the sorcerors raised an eyebrow. “Their . . . kneecaps, master? Not their heads?”
Shellis glowered. “I’m missing a kneecap, not a head, fool. Unless you’d like me to take one of yours, I’d like to see what the heroes have in the way of patellae.”
“Ohhhhh!” chorused the minions. This little exchange gave the heroes the opportunity to enter the dungeon and attack. Their first volleys were a bit off-target, perhaps due to their adrenaline levels, perhaps due to the shrieking and dodging of the evil minions as they scrambled for cover. Return fire from the forces of evil resulted in a storm of arrows and sorcerous dweomers striking Runewitch Astarra, or (as the evil ones referred to her) “Ms. Squishy.”
“Need a little bactine, darling?” Silhouette called out sweetly. Astarra muttered something that sounded like an incantation but was really a decidedly unpleasant epithet in Lower Abyssian slang, and backed off a bit. Silhouette was so pleased with her witticism that she totally blew her attack roll. Mordrog charged into the fray, swords swinging, and destroyed a dark priest. Battlemage Jaes called forth his mystic power of Spiritwalking and suddenly found himself in the skin of Mordrog. “Ewwww!” Mordrog muttered. “This feel creepy!” – but then Jaes unleased his spell from Mordrogs mouth, and a skeleton fell before the blast of eldritch fury.
The overlord, angered at the loss of his minions, sent two of his remaining skeleton snipers to pick off Astarra. The Runewitch woke up in town at the temple with a really bad headache and a huge bill which was fortunately covered entirely by Workman’s Compensation. The evil minions’ rejoicing was cut short as they were driven relentlessly across the dungeon floor by the onslaught of the heroes.
“A spawn! A spawn! My kingdom for a spawn!” cried the Sorceror King, watching in helpless disgust as his minions were mown down by the advancing heroes. “Hey, watch dis!” Mordrog cried. “Me find waterslide!” He jumped into the fast flowing stream, until Jaes called out “Mordrog, dear boy, that waterslide leads to the Pit of a Thousand Ululating Death Wails.” “Oh.” Said Mordrog, who casually exited the stream and beheaded a nearby dark priest. This severely disappointed the Overlord, and, presumably, the dark priest.
Skellis suddenly found himself alone in the dungeon. The heroes scurried about, gathering piles of gold coins and activating a glyph. Mordrog had absorbed much damage, but relentlessly charged the skeletal leader, and destroyed him, with the help of Silhouette. The overlord, in a fit of pique, dropped Jaes in a pit. Since Jaes had spiritwalk, this availed him nothing but a paltry two damage on the mage, since Jaes could still attack from the locations of his nearby comrades.
This baptism of fire as a group was giving the heroes invaluable experience, and they were making plans to open the door and advance to the next level, but then they heard a resounding cackle – the cackle of a madman—echoing from far, far away. The worst had happened -- The Sorcerer King had finally spawned. (Ew!)
Having amassed piles of threat, the wicked overlord spawned on two consecutive turns, bringing in skeletons and beastmen to harry the heroes just when they thought they had the dungeon to themselves. First the battle-weary and heavily wounded Mordrog fell, and then Battlemage Jaes. Astarra fled via a glyph, and Silhouette followed suit quickly as the blood-crazed minions surrounded them.
“This dungeon sucks,” said Mordrog.
“I’ve seen enough” said Silhouette.
“Pass the Bactine” said Jaes
“That master sorcerer was kind of cute” said Astarra.
And so it was that the heroes fled the dungeon of Starfall Forest, richer, but bloodied. The Overlord was well satisfied with his 11-6 advantage in experience, and the heroes spent the next week in Tamalir licking their wounds. Even though Astarra kept saying “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times. Don’t lick the incision!” A shopping trip yielded a market shortage, but Astarra found and purchased a shield that would prevent two wounds. “Good.” Opined Mordrog. “You too squishy.” Silhouette went into a tavern and bought everyone a round of drinks in hopes of gaining a rumor that would lead to more treasure. Her kleptomaniac urges got the better of her, and soon the bar was in the throes of a mighty brawl once more. Astarra sighed and broke out the Economy-sized Bactine as Mordrog entered the bar. The Battlemage returned with a sad tale of a poor woman whose husband was a debtor to a wicked sorcerer in the Guardian Hills, and now imprisoned by the same.
Meanwhile, the Sorcerer King was biding his time, sending Sir Alric toward Dawnsmoor with nefarious plans of siege and pillaging. Chutley inquired “You gots plenty of experience fighting dose heroes, Your Misery! Ain’t you gonna spends it?”
“All in good time, Chutley . . . All in good time.” The Dastardly Despot murmured, flipping a bar of pure silver from hand to hand as his kobold minions slathered him once more in sunscreen.
“Master, why you hate de sun so much?” Chutley asked.
“Because, Chutley, the Sun is a mass of incandescent gas. A gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen’s converted into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees.”
“Huh?” said Chutley.
“Chutley, dear lad, it’s because I can’t stand ANYTHING brighter than I am.” said the Sorcerer King.
Analysis: This was a good first session. The heroes were stomping me into the ground through most of the level, but at the end, when the dungeon was literally cleared of monsters, I got in an unexpected spawn and then another one, and took out two 4 CT heroes very fast with little retribution. Even better, I stopped them within spaces of opening the treasure chest and the door (which they had unlocked by killing the level boss, but not opened.
I give them kudos for looking at the situation and opting not to continue -- I'm pretty sure an attempt to force their way back into the room would have netted me a few more CT, but it must have been hard to walk away after being so close to the treasure and the door.
The heroes are somewhat comforted by the knowledge that things could have easily gone the other way, and that even a 12-6 lead in CT is both somewhat meaningless this early in the game, and also not too bad since the OL is generally ahead in CT especially in copper level.
As the OL, I am less than thrilled about facing Spiritwalker right off the bat, but found it manageable so far. That may change after they get a blast weapon . . . I am also amazed at how threat-rich the Sorcerer King is. That 10 threat at the start of the dungeon works wonders! and an additional 1 per turn is nice as well.
Anyway, everyone enjoyed the inaugural run of RTL, and we'll hopefully continue the adventure in the near future.
Just remember, Spiritwalker was changed to 5 spaces in the latest FAQ!
On to session 3!