Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome to Red Towers

After the last session which consisted mostly of preparation and travel, the gang was very happy arrive at Red Towers, a keep on the southern edge of the Westmarches.  Red Towers is the symbol and the vanity of the Arnulf family.  Arnulf is the assumed noble name and legacy of Otto the Fat, who was ceded the Westmarch territory by the King in 146 as reward for defeating the goblin army that was besieging the towns and territories to the south-west of the Soundlands.  Red Towers, named for it's striking red brick composition, has been in various phases of construction for the last 20 years and is a testament to the tenacity of the Arnulf family for it lies deep in the dangerous South and is surrounded by wild lands and swamp.

The gang arrived at the keep near dusk and were very surprised to meet up with an old friend, Brother Tim of Fox Hollow, upon their arrival.  They lodged at the Bell and Weasel inn just outside the walls and caught up with each other over the bad local beer.  Brother Tim had been treating the sick in Milham and had been asked by the Prior in Milham to come south with a contingent to ask the young Lord Erik (the current Baron's youngest son - now overseeing Red Towers) for an easement of the food levy for the fall.  Brother Tim in turn learned of the gang's adventures from the previous session, and once they all caught up they agreed it was time to retire and prepare to go treasure seeking in the morning.  Henril had to have his armour repaired due to a critical hit he took in the previous session (estimated the cost at 10% of original price per AC point damaged) and it was good to see that this mechanic working to drive the narrative along.  Armour that need to be maintained serves two functions - it uses up player resources and it adds to the verisimilitude and drama of the story to have these little concerns to take care of.  I wouldn't want to have to track weapon and armour status to make this work, so having weapon and armour damage as a by-product of the critical hit system seems like a good solution.  Henril decided to also get some 'ornamental' epaulette spikes added to his chain mail and took much pride in this enhancement throughout the session.

The party then left town and travelled to the cave under the old monastery.  They explored the cave and slew a number of giant rats before finding a staircase leading downward.  They went down and found another cave with rats, some dead rats and evidence of something that was preying on the rats.  During their investigation of the rat cave, brother Tim was attacked from behind by a gaunt humanoid in old rotted finery and was paralysed by its touch.  At the same time the cornered rats attacked, however the party managed to fight them off and kill the strange man-thing.  Kane the mage took a page from the adventurers guidebook and made sure to loot the corpse, finding some rare jewellery and a gold key on the body.  The party continued on and came upon another descending stairway carved into the rock.  At the bottom of the stairs they were injured by rocks falling from the weakened roof and then further injured by a handful of skeletons in the room beyond.  They managed to defeat the skeletons but Brother Tim severely damaged his hand and so the party decided to return to the keep and recover.

After a 5 day hiatus in which time the party had their loot apprised and XP awarded for their previous exploits, and the helpful local priestess had tended to Brother Tim's hand, they were eager to return to the 'dungeon'.  They journeyed back and managed to avoid any encounters as they made their way back to the place where they had fought the skeletons.  Deciding that deeper was better they went down another staircase and came upon a series of thick wooden doors all scratched on on one side - obvious indications of some fell beast.  They entered one room that turned out to be a trapped chamber and were almost overcome with a noxious gas before Ann the rogue managed to bypass the door mechanism.  Further along the same hallway, Kane's hired man Klypt* was busy chopping open a locked door, when they caught sight of a terrible black beast.  They quickly readied themselves and charged it as it launched terrible spikes at them from it's tail.  The fight was short but satisfying and they managed to dispatched the beast - Henril chopping off it's head to take back to the keep.

Klypt the hired man finished chopping out the door lock of the room and inside spied a number of goblins all barricaded in and shouting in terror - so he charged them - taking a chest full of crossbow bolts.  The goblins were dispatched but the party was in bad shape and decided to return to the keep.  On their way back they heard the sound of a second black beast coming behind them and they decided to run for it.  The beast took chase and launched it's tail spikes.  Ann was hit, falling unconscious in the passage.  Quickly Klypt grabbed her up and they ran as fast as they could back to the stairs and upwards.  They fled through the passages, chased by the beast, however they were lucky not to encounter any resistance. When they reached the entrance Henril slew their waiting mule and tossed it's body into the stairwell to throw the creature off their trail.  They fled back to the keep, manually pulling their unconscious companion behind in the wagon.

On their arrival in the mid afternoon, the local children spied them returning and saw the monster head and the signs of combat on their clothing.  By the time they reached the keep there was a full gathering of guards and farmers awaiting and even the young Lord himself had come to meet them.  Everyone was amazed by their story and the Lord complimented them on their bravery and paid them a bounty for killing a Manticore, a dangerous and fell beast.  The Lord's personal priest was asked to revive their fallen companion so she could give her account of the tale.  And so they were encouraged to tell and retell their tale of heroism that evening to the locals as they were feted and plied with beer - and on the whole seemed very pleased with themselves.

*I'm going to say Klypt is his name but the rest of the party was always calling him derogatory names like 'yon lackwit'  based on his low MIND score, so I'm not sure what it really was.  I'll revise it when I get another look at his character sheet.

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