Welcome back to the show! It’s gonna be an exciting second round, Let’s meet our contestants, starting with the Center Square!
Everynne, The Red Lady – Schmoozing her way into all the best towers in town, and ready to get down to business.
Frau Blucher – Willing to sacrifice a good weapon to destroy an arch nemesis, and pretty sure that some ghost is being unnecessarily mean.
- Gunter – Willing warmount for life, but NOT going up in no basket..
Grognak – Spending his days shirtless and sweating, spending his nights with the priest. No, no, it’s totally normal.
Jianjun – Teaching the ways of the steel, and learning the ways of the soul. This cleric is ready for action!
Zen – Overflowing with love…. For her beautiful new sword. Also this kids she adopted or whatever. This sword, though..
Brody MacFlarnatarnastan – Not afraid to feed the animals. Oh damn, it’s time to feed the caveman again. “Here boy, here boy! Good boy!” Now where did I put that bomb?
Ugh – From a secluded tribe of caveman, Ugh was pressed into service after declaring a Life Debt to the dwarf with power of fire
Sad Johnny – Newly freed wizard boy, just looking for love in all of the places.
Before leaving town, our party gathered a handful of interesting rumors, from barrooms, libraries, and back alleys, there was news to be had!
- “Word on the street is, that a bard came through town, telling tales of a lost treasure, and had need of a wilderness master to locate it, he was willing to share some of his loot for the help..”
- “There is a dwarf, living off in the feet of the mountains, who brews spirits what can make you, among other things, breathe fire, if you like that sort of thing..”
- “Be wary of the cat running the store here.. He’s a liar and a cheat, but we cant find our old shop-keep anywhere.”
- “Can you be lied to by a ghost? ‘Cause I think one took me for all my coin, a few days ago..” *passes out drunk*
- “Buy that bar wench a drink, she might make it worth your while… Just.. Don’t actually let her hear you call her that… Ever..”
- “I fell into a well once, and when I looked up, I all I saw were stars, shining in the dark. I thought I had slept ’till night, but it turned out to be silver stars on a banner. I dropped it climbing out, and could never find it again when I went back.”
- “I found this tiny bit of metal, like a broach or pin, and some lord paid me TWENTY gold coins for it.. *Burp* this rounds on me!”
- “A witch fell in love with a solider from Arica, but was spurned by him. She cursed him, saying his heart of stone would be his downfall, as it had been hers.”
- “Lost to the ages, there is reported to be a set of magical items, worn like clothing, that give the owner inhuman strength.”
So, right after I post about hirelings, two of my players decide magically to take on help, bulking up the groups “unlucky bastard” quota. As the new week beings, Brody spent a few days of his time hunting a tribe of Wildmen, basically throwbacks to a less evolved human, that roamed the deep mountain valleys, outside of town. He brought with him the secret of fire, and one of the burly locals fell down in worship. What this really means, is that Brody has hired on a caveman, named Ugh, to be his loyal pack-bearer. Not very bright, but strong of back, Ugh follows wherever Brody goes, just waiting to help. Until he gets scared, and runs up a tree, like a cat, on all fours. To me, this is the quintessential hench. Hides in the background and carries things silently. Sometimes someone throws them a treat. Given loan of a carrying yoke and some some empty sacks, Ugh isn’t burdened down with things like clothes. As befits his status, Ugh wears only a fur loincloth and strap-harness, for pulling sleds full of his Boss’s treasure. I’m sure Brody has plans for fleets of henchmen and a company logo, already drawn up..
Up next, Zen becomes a mommy!
Sad Johnny, the wizard’s apprentice the party apparently emancipated last session, just kind of followed them into town, and waited around for someone to tell him where to go. When the party asked where he came from, Sad Johnny claimed to have come, “About 9 or 10 days by ship before someone sold him to the elf, for 80 bucks, and they’d throw in a jug of cheap wine. Which he then carried, a days walk, to that shitty old house. Out in the woods. His job was to do the wizard’s chores, get drugs for the girls, and go get groceries in town. It occurs to me, as I write this, Sad Johnny is a low level character in an MMO.. He gets one daily quest, be it, “Go out in the field, and bring me 12 of these special mushrooms. It’s for my magic! Yeah.. My magic….” or “Go into town, and shoplift from 6 different markets, so we have food!” maybe even “Go down to the arboretum and kill those pesky dire-gophers!”. That’s life for hench.
Apparently the pathetic little wizard’s story touched the rogue’s heart, because Zen offered to pay for the kid to stay in town a week, before making it official, and taking the boy on as her Apprentice. “Yeah, of course I can train him as a wizard.. !” Unfortunately Sad Johnny, (Now and forever to be known as Sad Harry, FYI. ) seems to have a different idea about what is going on. What HE saw, was these great people take him out of that shitty house, and then gave him a week in a hotel where he gets to drink liquor, nap on the table, and then get some breakfast. AND THEN, this really nice lady in the fancy purple cloak tells him, he can come and live with her! Isn’t that great!? Gonna be way better than working for that crazy wizard, and his terrifying orc manservant..
So yeah, if this won’t turn into a sitcom, I don’t know what will. We get prefect strangers, AND My two dads, both just kinda.. not..
When the party decided to set the captive elf lose in the woods, rather than pay his bill at the inn, Sad Johnny asked for the right to kill him. He had treated the boy very poorly since his purchase, and the party seemed OK with justice being done. As Johnny led the old wizard away from town, bound and gagged, he started to wonder aloud where to take the elf, before quickly stabbing his borrowed dagger into his captives kidneys from behind, over and over. He then began to cry for his mother, taking several hours to recover.
In lighter news, When not mothering the foundling, Zen spent her free time with her sword-master, learning to handle the new elven backsword, which she never let away from her side. When she wasn’t in a lesson, tightening up her parry, Zen would be polishing her blade, and oiling the leather on its scabbard.
Grognak gave The Red lady a list of supplies he would need for his next project, and thankfully, she was able to find a large load of iron ingots, a hide of warg leather, and the shinbone of a giant. Asking no questions, Everynne delivered the parcels, and watched as Grognak tipped a short wizard for some help, stripped to the waist and began hammering on an anvil, owned by the local blacksmith. Spending the next 30 hours hammering away with the help of Jianjun, finally crafting a new weapon, nicknamed “Gatecrasher(s)” by the local barbarians. Tipped with a wicked spike one on head, and a greataxe blade on the other, Gatecrasher is nearly 6 feet tall, more weapon than a lesser man could wield. Sadly, with all his time spend at work, Grognak had no time for carousing and gathering rumors this week.
Jianjun split his time between assisting Grognak at the forge, using his knowledge of steel, and deep in study within the library of the church. Mastering the ability to drive out demons through exorcism, Jianjun Developed the power dismiss them with a wave, not the hours it would take a lesser priest.
Frau Blucher, impressed by the martial upgrades of her comrades, was honored to donate a small sum to the church, who then bestowed upon her a holy silver axe. A dwarven battleaxe with a hammerhead on its back side, the weapon is cast in silver, and blessed by a a high priest to deliver extra damage to the Undead. The Frau graciously accepted “Ghoulsbane”, and pledged to “Hold her heathen hammer high”, which seemed to please a group of priests dedicated to Tyr that toiled nearby.
The Red lady spent her days networking. Wanting to find a way to utilize the manuals the party recovered from Arcanoth, Everynne arranged an appearance with local Scholar of note, Eben Everstar. A renowned keeper of knowledge, and knower of things, Everstar is also heard to be a patron to another up-and-coming delving party here in town. He invited The wizardess to meet with him just after lunch on Thorsday. Hoping to impress the lord with good company, Everynne brought charming Zen, and prim Jianjun along as her entourage. Upon her arrival, Lord Everstar informed the wizardess (And only the wizardess, as he ignored the rest of the assembled party completely, aside from once referring to “your servants”) that he was interested in the manual as well, and agreed to teach Everynne the dead language, if she would give him the book in payment. That seemed reasonable, as the party still would own the other manual, which was damaged, but still mostly intact.
This would be contingent on something the Lord wanted the party to accomplish for him first, an audition, of sorts. Willing to go along with the plan, The Red Lady questioned Zen, known to be able to detect liars, and received the rogue’s thumbs up. Lord Eben stated that his request was simple. He wanted the party to bring him a woman. This particular woman would not want to go with the party, but she must be made to do so. He wanted her alive, and relatively unharmed. Complete this simple task, and they could do further business, perhaps for another item, which he just happened to have on hand, and thought the party might find interesting. *Clap clap* Lord Eben’s servant Raul entered the room with a small box, and opened it to display a black dagger, with a wavy blade and the image of a black sun on its pommel. It matched the two daggers already in the parties possession. Raoul was released,and left the room. After telling the party that the woman they needed to find was known as Elsea the Crone, but he had no idea where she was. That, he droned, was why he hired them. *Clap clap* Raoul returned with a matching box, containing a long, dirty gray dreadlock. The cleric took the lock of hair, nodded to Lord Eben, an act that went unacknowledged, and led the party as they left the room.
Gathering the remainder of the party, and informing them of the plan, the only question came from Brody, “So we have to bring them the woman, what about anything we might “find” along the way?” convinced that the party could turn any recovered goods into cash, the dwarf was more than willing to sign on. “Let’s go make that money!” And off they went.
With no trail for the barbarian to track, the party looked for a more esoteric way to locate their prey, turning to The Red Lady, asking for a magical solution. Everynne said there WAS a spell, but she had never added it to her repertoire. “Erlang Shen has granted me such miracles” stated the Priest, startling the party, all around. After attaching the dreadlock to the end of his quarterstaff by a thread, Jianjun prayed to his lord for guidance, and the lock of hair began to pull in a single direction, pointing the way.
Grognak began to bushwhack their way though the dense forest, making slow by steady progress, must lamenting that the spell directed them as the crow flies, rather than along any formed path. Several hours in, the barbarian found a mostly dry creek-bed, leading in mostly the right direction, and making for a much easier journey for him, specifically. Brody, showing a rare moment of caution, wondered aloud, “should be be walking in this big ditch? Seems like a good way to get ambushed..” Convinced this was likely solid reasoning, the party climbed up onto one of the banks, and stopped briefly for a snack.
As Jianjun called forth a pot of miraculous noodles for the party to feast upon, Brody scoffed at their “magical human slop” and ordered Ugh to fetch him a dwarven ration from his now considerable reserves. While the group ate, Brody ordered Ugh up a nearby tree to scan for anything nearby. Once up the tree, Ugh peered about, and asked “Want Ugh get bag?” pointing further along the riverbed. This grabbed the parties attention, and and sparked a resounding reply of “Bag? What bag? Yes go get the bag!”. Ugh seemed happy to oblige, but had one question first.. “What about big bug?”.
Ugh pointed to something just out of sight down the creek, which prompted most of the group to draw weapons, unsure what a big bug was, but more than ready to test their new upgrades against whatever it was. Until Grognak identified the wet looking over-sized anteater that shuffled into view. “Oh Krom.. Rust Monster…”
I had begun planning ahead for wandering monster rolls, hoping to make them more balanced and enjoyable, for both me and the party. When I realized that I could throw in the occasional custom made beasty, I immediately went in search of this one, hopefully created in GURPS so I didn’t have to make it myself. I found that someone had, in fact, statted them up for me, and the write-up looked perfect. Then I saw it. It had been posted by one of my players. Can’t have one of the inmates designing the asylum, that just would not do. So the first thing I did was to beef it up.. I should have made it faster too… But hindsight and all that. Also, it should be noted, Rust Monsters were described to me the first time as an ant eater, with long nose and antennae, rather than the crustacean that is so common, so that’s how mine look.
As the creature sniffed its way down the creek, the party heard Grognak’s warning, and began to rethink their new toys. Dropping his axe, the barbarian picked up the largest rock he could find, while Zen thought better of this fight, and flitted from tree to tree, hiding best she could. Frau readied her old mace, waiting for the beast to come into range, hating to destroy the weapon, but willing to do her part.
The Red Lady began to gather energy for her favorite Fireball spell, while Brody began to put his own plan into action.
Removing his hat, Brody removed a bomb, round, black iron, with a short fuse, and threw it down into the mud a few yards ahead of the rust monsters nose. Seeing where this was going, Jianjun began to power his own spell, and waited.
The rust monster withstood the impact of Grognak’s boulder, and the flaming magics of The Red Lady, if only holding onto life to satisfy its hunger for the delicious-looking iron sphere in front of it. Finally limping its way to the prize, it opened wide, scooped it into its mouth, just as Jianjun shot forth a beam of holy light into its face, igniting the bomb. There was a muted explosion, which launched the beast’s shell straight up into the air, leaving a pile of stew meat below. It landed with a squishing sound, causing the party to cheer, and the music to play.
Sadly, the damage was such that even though Zen wanted to eat some of the beast, Grognak couldn’t find the pieces he knew to be edible. I worry about my players, sometimes. I really do.
Once the party rested, and recovered from the fight, Brody took Ugh to look at this bag the caveman mentioned earlier. Traveling a hundred yards or so down-river, so to speak, he did indeed find a backpack, sitting alone in the middle of the creek. “Yeah, that seems legit, I’ll head back to the party and let them know it’s totally normal.” When given further inspection, Brody noted a simple rope trap surrounding the pack, that would fling whoever attempted to take it, into the air. Summoning Ugh to head back, the Wildman’s attention was taken by a squirrel running in the creek, leading him at a sprint back towards the party. As Ugh neared his prey, with Brody close at his heels, an arrow struck the squirrel, and caused the wildman to burst into tears, and Brody to burst into, well.. Flames.
Brody took the skewered Squirrel to mean only one thing, the party was under attack, and they were under attack by elves. Seeing this as the only course of action, Brody ignited his burner, (the fantasy version of a dwarven flamethrower) and began to blast his stream of fire into the trees all around him, while screaming, wild eyed, that everything needed to burn, deaf to the cries the rest of the party around him.
Looking about for what foe could have set off her dwarven brethren, Frau, atop her trusty mount, pointed skyward, alerting her companions to the small village of huts, built far above in the trees, just as a familiar voice rung out “GIVE ME BACK MY SWORD!!!”
This is where our episode ends for this week.. perhaps not exactly here, but in the effort of good storytelling, we will end here for today, but come back next week, when we return for the thrilling conclusion – “I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost!”
While no XP was rewarded for a mission half finished, Brody once again earned the Cool Point, for his use of his bomb as Monster Main Course.