Friday, July 14, 2017

Griffins and Cupcakes and Bullshit and Puzzles

In the story of my second D&D campaign, I left off at the point where we had killed some members of the thieves and were preparing to storm their stronghold. We knew the members of the group each had a tattoo, and were able to draw a facsimile on our arms, but didn't know if there was a password. So once we reached the fortress, we stood in the shadows debating what to do. We eventually decided to try bluffing our way in, but it turned out to be unnecessary. We had the tattoo, nothing else was required. The sentries couldn't figure out why we stood there awkwardly chatting them up. Well, overthought that one.

Inside, there was a maze we made our way through without incident until reaching a room with three chests and a sign that says "Evens and Odds". We opened one chest, and a panel in the wall slid open, revealing 5 kobolds (lizard people). We had heard from someone along the way there were some lizard people among the bandits (whoever we talked to also told us about a swamp to the west with possible treasure but lots of monsters, which we decided was a distraction from our quest and ignored). When a Ranger hits Level 5, he can choose a Favored Enemy, which he gets bonuses against. So I picked "humanoid - reptilian" with that intel in mind.

And so I opted to try Bluffing the kobolds, specifically by lamenting that the "bourgeois" thief bosses made the poor, proletarian kobolds sit in a cramped room behind a wall with no food or drink. The DM responded, 'They have no idea what you're talking about.' They also couldn't or wouldn't tell us how to solve the puzzle, so we got impatient and opened all three chests at once. Five more panels opened, 10 more kobolds and 15 goblins entered the room. So it's a fight. I made an impassioned plea for the first 5 kobolds to rise up and help us, but they opted to go back in their room and close the wall.

So the Marxist rhetoric failed to gain traction. At least I got five enemies off the board.

The fight wasn't much trouble, even with the numbers. The monk took some slings to the head, but was crushing enemies left and right with attacks of opportunity. Our wizard had taken the Fireball Wand we found in the spider cave, but wasn't having much luck with it. Magic Missile fared better, and Nylis busted out a Flaming Spear attack that killed at least 4 enemies. In all, it was a slaughter, but left us no closer to finding what we were after.

OK, I don't have any notes from our recovery of the relic. I remember there was a different room, and the relic was within some sort of cage. The thief couldn't find her way through, so I think we used the Ring of 3 Wishes to get her inside the cage, grab the relic, and then get her back out. The Sack of Holding was involved somehow as well. I'm sure we made it infinitely more complicated than it needed to be, but I frankly hate that aspect of D&D where you have to declare you want to inspect something, then roll to see if you noticed anything when you inspected, and hope your character is intelligent enough to understand what they see, if they see anything. If you roll crappy, then what are you supposed to do? Shrug and throw up your hands? Oh well, quest over, we're too dumb to figure out this trap.

Anyway, we got the relic, and fled the bandit's fortress, which was remarkably easy. I think the leader was away at the time, but you'd think thieves would be more alert to theft. I can't talk, though, since that night, as we camped on our way back, it was stolen from us. By Ordai the cleric, who turned out to be a doppelganger. Apparently, the DM was worried we would figure out something was up with him earlier because he used Death Touch, and a cleric shouldn't do that. But most of the players wouldn't have any experience to know that, and I'd watched a cleric in my only previous campaign kill one of our own party in a fit of pique sooooooo. . .

I assume clerics are basically crazy, violent religious fundamentalists. Like the Crusaders, basically. Spread your religion of peace and tolerance by killing people different than you. Maybe that's actually paladins, I haven't played in a campaign with one of them yet.

Now we had to return to the village and explain we'd let the relic be stolen a second time, and maybe question why we were assigned a cleric that wasn't actually a cleric. Along the way, we revisited the elf commune, only to find it devastated by the doppelganger. Many were wounded, and the chief was dead, although his son had survived his injuries (and was happy to see Taug, which embarrassed the barbarian, though he was still kind enough to be friendly). We continued on and were caught up to by the leader of the thieves and some of his men, on horseback. Fortunately, we heard them coming with enough time to dive off the road into the bushes. Unfortunately, Nylis was too busy eating a cupcake and was caught flat-footed in the middle of the road when they rode up. But she served as an excellent distraction for when the rest of us jumped out to attack.

The fight itself wasn't terribly competitive. Oswald dealt the finishing blow to two of the lackeys, I killed a couple, Taug used Cleave so hard one guy basically exploded (27 damage, he might have had half that many hit points). Crulin was able to use Stunning Fist on the leader so we could have a chat with him.

Will once again volunteered to do the talking. The team, having not learned their lesson from last time, let him. Will tried being pleasant while crouched over the thief, who was tied up on his back. When that failed to produce results, he became angry and cut his hand with the head of an arrow, dripping blood on the very intimidated boss' face, while pretending not to notice he was doing this. The leader confessed the doppelganger had hired his crew to take the relic (though he may not have know he was dealing with a doppelganger), and must have mentioned something about an island far to the east. Will opted to cheerfully ask if the thief had considered accepting Pelor as his savior. Leah incredulously pointed out the guy probably worshipped the same god she did. Well, by that point Will was just messing with the guy for kicks. You may have heard, kicks, they just keep getting harder to find.

We let the guy live, because he promised that, even if he kept stealing, he wouldn't hurt any people. As Leah had pointed out, we already had a thief on our team, who had proved in the tavern she wasn't above (attempting) robbing anyone she pleased, so I suppose Will didn't see that we could throw stones. Or he was uncomfortable killing another helpless foe.

Back in town, we reported what happened, and learned there really was an Ordai, though no one could figure when he'd been replaced. It turned out he's the brother of Vera, the flirty bard we met in the tavern at the start, and she was interested in finding him, and offered her help. Which included hooking all of us up with Legacy Weapons of various types (Will got himself a quiver full of special arrows, and the quiver boosted a couple of his abilities), and a flying carpet. Also, Nylis must have leveled up to the point she unlocked some nifty bonus, because rather suddenly, a griffin showed up to be her companion. She named it Sage. Vera also knew, from her extensive travels, that there was a portal in a village to the east which might lead to that island.

Looking back over this, I'm starting to suspect the DM put the bard back in because she realized we'd never figure things out on our own in time to finish the quest before the field season ended and we scattered to the four winds.

We went east and found the village full of nothing but children. They told us monsters had come, killed all the adults, burned the women, and carried the monsters off through a portal. There was some debate over the next step, because some people wanted to help the kids before proceeding, and others (Will included), did not. Will likes kids about as much as he likes squids, OK? Even among the "leave 'em" camp, there was debate between just leaving them, or seeing if the griffin was hungry. But the kids were ultimately transported to a nearby village where the people agreed to look after them. Then it was back to the ruined village, and through the portal.

We exited the portal on an island, and were immediately confronted with a massive fortress of grey, forbidding rock. Oh, and two flesh golems guarding the entrances. And a minotaur. And a wizard. But we spent too much time playing Child Services, so I'll tell you how things wrapped up next time.

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