Well the south gate was closed. In fact the town was crawling with soldiers from Red Towers and they were not letting people travel south because they were fighting sorties against goblins! Fortunately the fighter was a local and he knew a fellow who had a basement with a passage through the city walls. So later that evening our heroes found themselves following a old fishing trail along the river after greasing a palm. They subsequently snuck* their way southwards down the road. They traveled south for a day avoiding the soldier patrols and were attacked by large spiders in the forest when they made their camp. The fighter was bitten, lost some STR and had to make a couple poison saves before the venom burned out of his system. Eventually they made it to the hills. Towards the end of the second day they noticed a plume of dust on the horizon and so climbed a small rise to see in the distance a group of soldiers on horseback riding down a goblin raiding party. The running fight approached towards their location, passing below them along the road, and they hunkered down to avoid detection. That's when they noticed one goblin running off away from the pack and unseen by the soldiers. They decided this was their chance and quickly sneaked** off to follow him.
|there's a cave under that tree!|
The intrepid adventurers followed the goblin away from the road and into some brush along a the top of a steep ridge and finally to an old gnarled tree. When they checked the tree out they found a small cave opening and carved stairs leading down into the darkness. Being brave and adventurous,they fired up some torches and down they went. The stairs were old and went down quite a way before opening out into a stone hall with big pillars and a floor covered with years of accumulated rubbish. There were goblins who had heard them coming and who were hiding behind the pillars. The goblins let fly a hail of bolts from their crossbows and the party moved to attack. They did pretty good combat wise. Whenever the fighter landed a blow he would demolish a goblin, he was very strong and using a large two handed hammer (essentially a maul). While he was bashing goblin heads and the mage was firing off magic missiles, the rogue took advantage of the darkness to creep up behind and back-stab another goblin, and soon the fight was over. They searched the refuse and found nothing of value. They determined that this was an old dwarven hall, now with one wall all bricked up with a rather large crude carving on it. The carving had a large hole where the mouth should have been which seemed to have some natural light coming through it. They crawled through the hole and saw that this was the other half of the great hall and that along one wall it had a large archway open to the sky. Looking out the archway they saw that it looked out on a deep crevasse in the hillside and across it on the other side was another archway and what looked like the remains of a rope bridge, still swinging. They had rope and so they managed to hook the rope bridge, pull it across and fasten it back up, but as they crossed they were met by another hail of crossbow bolts and again they charged into battle quickly defeating the 4 goblins on the other side. In this other hall, they noticed a hole in the roof and carved stairs going downwards. The rogue decided to climb up the hole but goblin above began hurling sticks and logs from their fire down the hole. Giving up on that approach, they decided to go down the stairs and at the bottom they surprised another handful of goblins. They dived in and killed two, however the fighter and then the mage both were taken down by a few lucky short sword attacks.
Now the problem with a party of three is that if one is incapacitated you loose a big chunk of your potency, with two down... well it was looking very grim there for a very conflicted rogue. "Save yourself!" yelled her companions as they were overwhelmed. And so she did - fleeing back up the stairs and across the bridge, cutting it down behind her. She ran all the way back to the road and for half the night before running into one of the Baron's patrols. They escorted her back to Milham and so we ended the evening.
I think that it was quite fun, and having another parallel story going in 'the sandbox' really seemed to flesh it out more and make it seem more alive. I know that the gang up in the forest will be interested to learn about this goblin infested ruin and certainly the rogue has a great story to tell them and perhaps some motivation to return there. I might have to do some slight of hand to bring them back together, which is one of the problems with having an adventure end out in the field (I have to try to prevent this in future), but I think I can figure out something In my opinion, it was one of the more fun sessions and with the small party - the level of excitement was pretty high even though no treasure was found and there were relatively few encounters. Also I enjoyed the roleplaying and the characters never seemed like substitutes - they had personalities and it was terrible when they were taken down by the goblins. Poor dumb bastards, they just weren't careful enough. How fantastic!
* apparently sneaked is the proper past form of sneak and snuck is a johnny-come-lately and not recognized in many spell checkers - but really, sneaked sounds stupid.