Trials & Trails

Episode 17: Dances With Dragons (and Cloth Merchants)

Soiling and buying some breeches

Two roads diverged in a town. The party, wishing to not be bothered by Full fiddling and such, takes the one less traveled by. WAY less traveled by. Not even a road really. Fer a reason, as it turns out.

Sans Telvas, who has business to take care of involving Jaeel Deeclan, Tiskus, Vicic and Shadow, along with Shadow’s main man Clubber Lang, grab some horses and ponies and supplies, setting off the overland route to Grantham, the seat of power in Lac Drune. It seems a good move. The main road is packed with folks headed back and forth (mostly forth, to Felston for the upcoming Rahzastvo Festival). Over the plains and hills to Kubrinor, the Lake Town on Lac Drune, seems the best way to avoid being spotted.

But, of course, things aren’t that simple. After noting a passel of shed scales on day 1 of a 5-day jaunt (really big scales), the party makes camp on day 2 in a cul de sac against a hill. Things go well until Tiskus’ term on the watch. Yes, he has eaten WELL (Shadow’s meal was so good, everyone has a +1 forward!), but all those potatoes, and that 4th helping. He’s a bit tired. He nods off. Bad timing. Ghouls from who knows where decide to pay a visit, and come streaming down on the party, 12 in all. Before they know it, the group is up to their necks in smelly undead.

The fight features several sort of twists and turns, as follows:

- Once again, Tiskus has not a scratch on him as, when he’s first attacked, the dodges the blows of 3 ghouls, and rolls down the hill to safety, more or less. As the 3 undead menaces come bounding down after him, he throws down a Summon Monster spell, which brings a land shark bursting out of the earth! The creature eventually gobbles all the ghouls down, protecting its master more than ably.

-Pritt Lill fires off several salvos of Magic Missile, crushing ghoul heads like a pro (of course, after the whole thing is over, she slaps Tiskus for falling asleep on guard duty).

-Shadow deftly deals some damage using his throwing knife, but is eventually grappled by Ghoul. Unable to break free, he nimbly dodges the Ghoul’s extra attacks. Mostly. A swipe causes some blood loss and oncoming paralysis, i.e., lost DEX.

-Vicic, meanwhile, lights up his chest and barges a ghoul out of the area, until it can later be smasherooed.

-Now, Clubber, on the other hand…ouch…He gets gang-swiped, then chased down by a ghoul. After suffering massive wounds and paralysis, he is bailed out by his compatriots, who administer healing to him throughout the night to bring him back to functional status.

So, a dozen ghouls and some sleep later, the party awakens, intent on shortening their journey to Grantham by using Tiskus’ Shadow Step spell. They line up horses, ponies, people and halflings, find a convenient, morning shadow and the mage casts…only to fail. Like MISERABLY. Rather than walk through a shadow, to appear in the cloth shop of Thana in Grantham, the shadow “pops,” emitting a sonic BOOM!, knocking everyone over.
Thankfully, no one is harmed. Unfortunately, that loud noise draws the attention of…a DRAGON!

Off in the distance, M’nenieth, the Ageless One, hears the noises and swoops towards it, happy to find a brace of horses and ponies running across the hills. They still have pack and saddle, which is weird, because no one is around (the party having hid successfully, except for…). As he closes, however, a second pony comes out of the hlllside, dragging behind it…a SNACK! Mmmmmm….fresh halfling.

The dragon lets loose a cloud of killing gas to bring down the horses, then nails the fleeing halfing with a bolt of flame, bringing him to the ground, unconscious. He swoops down to grab his snack, and is met with a magic missile from the impulsive Tiskus. With the battle enjoined to free poor Clubber from M’nenieth’s talons, Vicic lets fly a Hold spell, while Shadow slides a lethal bolt into the dragon’s hide (well, lethal to most other things). The power of Enumoch surges through the good cleric, forcing the great beast to land, where is screams unholy curses in its native tongue.

“Release me!” it yells. No way, they think. “Then I’ll huff and puff and…” And so it goes, withg the ageless one inhaling, ready to stream poison right into them.

But wait! Vicic greets the creature respectfully. Tiskus makes an offer. What’s this? They’re parlaying! Nice move!

“Your God is indeed strong,” M’nenieth comments. “But he cannot long hold me. And when he no longer can, I will send you to meet him!”

Vicisc: “Hey, we’re just passing through. How about you let us go, and I let YOU go!”

Dragon: “Release me now!”

Tiskus: “How about we do that, but in exchange for passage and this shiny magic orb thing I have? Oh, and the dead horses.”

Dragon: “I shall keep my snack as well!”

Party: “Um, no, we want the halfling back. But look! Oooooorrrrb!”

Dragon: “Fine. Give me the Orb, and release me, and I shall let you pass.”

Party: “…wellll…okay…here.”

Dragon: “Thanks for lunch. And the trinket. Now, get the hell out of my land (by tomorrow).”

Party: “Thanks! Bye!”

And so they go, this time by the conventional route. On the 6th day, they drag themselves into Grantham. Once there:

- Shadow, who was hit with a curse spell, and is glowing ruby red, gives up a ton of gems to get the curse removed. On the plus side, it dies his armor the same color. He feels cool. Later, he puts word out to the non-existent thieves guild that actually does exist but not really. Two reps hire him to check on a Halfling they hired, named Tresh, who promised them a nice return on an excursion into the swamp to check out some ruins wherein treasure supposedly lay. On top of that, our man “Jerry” gets identified as a compatriot of some Halflings who’ve visited Grantham for supplies on a regular basis, filling up a wagon full each time. Shadow catches the names, Kurado and Altamono. He also procures a caravan schedule from the local shopkeeper, who expects a kickback when the thieves waylay the caravan. Of course, Shadow has no idea who these toads are, but what the hey—he has some info! Time to crash a party perhaps.

-Tiskus commissions a brand, spankin’ new outfit from Thana. He also brunches with her, as well as draws admiring glances from Thana’s assistants, Rogers and Hammerstein. In other news (more related to, y’know, the thing they’re SUPPOSED to be doing), he tries to get some aid from the mages guild, but Isolt, the head of the Salamander’s Eye, one of many Mages guilds in the south, will have none of it, because of the “lies” Tiskus tells about meeting M’nenieth and living (“Riiiiiight….”).

-Vicic hangs out, respectfully and quietly as always. Evidently, this has drawn Pritt Lill’s respect. “Why can’t you be more like him, TIskus?” Tisku: “Hey, let’s go kill a dragon!” ARGH!

-In other news, Clubber Lang now has more scars than the rest of the party combined. He DOES have both his ears, though.

So, the adventure takes 9 full days. The party prepares to delve into the Ghoul Garns to locate a Mud Sorcerer Obelisk, as well as find out where this Tresh fellow went.

In the meantime, Telvas deals with his own intrigues…

Assorted notes:
Man, there were a lot of failed rolls. At our table, we toss a glass bead into a cub at every failure, 2 beads for snake eyes, and a bead every time someone acts on their character traits. Then we divvy it up equally among all participants. By the end of this session, we had 20 freakin’ beads. That’s right—20. If I remember right, only 2 of them were for something other than a dice roll. It was that bad. Or good, if you like crazy thing to happen.

Had some discussion involving Hold Person, which has the word “creature” in the description. At first, I was like, “You can’t hold a dragon with that!” But the spell says creature, so eventually I went, “well, I’m going with what it says, but since it says they can talk it can still breathe, and if it can breathe…” In the end, the parlay situation was better than any fight could have been. The encounter was EXPENSIVE, as well—3 horses and 2 ponies lost, plus some supplies, plus the mage’s orb, plus 500c to lift the curse on the halfling. OUCH! (who says HP’s are the only hurt you can have?).

LOTS of time spent wandering from place to place in Grantham, which I sketched out by hand from a Wizardawn map and generator. Came up with some cool NPCs, to include a near 7’ tall representative of the Rogue’s guild (which is not “really” a rogue’s guild, because, hey, THAT’s ILLEGAL [wink, wink]). Thana the cloth merchant, who looooves the mage’s wardrobe (and her assistants, Rogers and Hammerstein, who would fit right in on Project Runway).

And then the whole thing where Shadow tries to play off like he’s in league with this rough looking halflings (I know, rough looking HALFLINGS…) when the local grocer, who’s been tipping off the halflings (and whoever they work with/for) to shipments in exchange for freebies he can sell at 100% profit goes, “What color is the knife?” So, I scribble it out on the paper, and Jack, who plays shadow, evidently counts my pencil strokes and guesses (correctly) PURPLE! (d’oh!) So, now the grocer thinks Shadow works for these other dudes, because, “All you blokes look alike to me.” (good times…)

The Dragon encounter, the land shark, and the ghouls came from a WM list from Wizardawn. After generating 10 creatures, I knitted some of them together so they’d have a reason to be there. The generator gave me the name, M’nenieth (though I added the apostrophe at the suggestion of Tom, who plays Tiskus). Now that he’s been introduced, he ain’t goin’ away. We can expect the party to take him on at some point—if they survive the terrors of the Ghoul Garns (swamps near Lac Drune).

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