Thursday, August 8, 2019

At last, we find the raiders!

At the end of the last game, the two priests of Artemis were dead, and Azrael and the human necromancer Wendy were going at it (enthusiastically) in her house. His sister Martini, of course, is perfectly appalled by this development, and therefore murderous. However, she still has her sense of priorities: with the priests dead, it's definitely time to search the temple and check for any secret passages leading into underground caverns where the human raiders might be hiding.

Unfortunately, Damian the Ranger shows up before we can start on that, demanding to know what the hell just happened here. Ruin explains that he thinks Wendy raised a giant skeleton, and the priests tried to stop her, and things got out of hand... which is true enough that he doesn't have to make a bluff check, fortunately. Martini then bluffs (successfully) that we're here because we're looking for Azrael, and after a bit of discussion the ranger sends his very large wolf with Reverend Mercy to check out Wendy's house while Damian remains here to help us search the temple. (He was one of the ones who told us he thought the priests were up to something.) Meanwhile, Mercy (the snake-worshiper) has spotted the naga skull on the altar, so he no longer has any regrets at all about the death of the priests. Ruin is less sanguine about it, but since he wasn't directly involved he isn't feeling personally guilty and he's withholding judgement on Azrael and Wendy until we see what secrets the temple holds.

Over at Wendy's house, Marshall Mercy casts Dominate Animal on the wolf, and informs the young lovers that they need to wrap it up, and also that perhaps they should have wrapped it up before they started. They are... not easy to convince.

The bodies of the priests yield some treasure: a +1 Cloak of Resistance, which Damian the NPC Ranger promptly claims; +1 plate mail, another +1 cloak of resistance, and a +2 periapt of wisdom, which we will eventually sell off for 1,200 gold. There's another 19 GP on the altar beside the naga skull, but not much else upstairs.

Downstairs, we search the chests in the bedroom but mainly find clothes and personal effects though we do add another 35 GP to our haul. We also grab the illuminated manuscript describing the glories and worship of Artemis, heretical though they might be. Searching the basement reveals no secret doors, no hidden human raiders, and really nothing but a one-room brewery and some kegs of beer. At this point we head out to the graveyard and do some poking around inside its walls, adding another 20 GP and 17 SP, but otherwise finding nothing useful... until we reach the small chamber in the back corner of the graveyard.

Mercy is still trying to get Azrael and Wendy to stop boinking, and it's still not working. As they're finishing their third... inning... he finally threatens to turn the undead in the room, and commands the wolf to rip Azrael's zombie into shreds; it does. That breaks the mood at last. Wendy gets out of bed, and goes to get her stuff because Mercy is insisting that she has to leave town, right now, for her own safety. She asks if she heard right and there really are whole villages full of dead elves nearby, and Mercy allows as how this is so. She heads downstairs, and returns with a pack and a small zombie in an absolutely amazing leather outfit. Leading her undead, she heads out into the woods. Azrael, of course, is asleep on the bed.

Mercy begins roughly searching the house, finding 24 platinum pieces (which he takes for himself) but not much else -- and no secret doors.

Bock to the temple:
There's a rather elaborate coffin in the small chamber at the back of the cemetery. Ruin uses a shovel to pry it open (and here I'll note that none of my characters should ever open coffins in this campaign, with the possible exception of Durest the necromatic cleric). A mummy emerges, ancient and terrifying, and Martini is paralyzed with fear.

Ruin is not, and he immediately attacks it with his sword. Damian manages to shake off the effect as well, and attacks with the elvish double-scimitar. After an initial strike to make sure he can hit it, Ruin begins Power Attacking in the hope of taking it down before anything worse happens. He's doing it some real damage, so naturally it targets him, and before long he's down and infected with mummy rot. Martini has recovered by this point, and manages to pour a potion of healing down his throat while Damian is keeping it distracted and doing some minor damage. Ruin stands up and does more damage, but gets beaten down again; fortunately, Azrael and Reverend Mercy arrive at this point, and shortly afterwards Mercy hits it with Searing Light.

It turns out that mummies really, really hate Searing Light. Or they would, if they survived long enough to appreciate just how much damage it had done to them.

So with the mummy dead, we search the room, and find absolutely no hidden doors leading down to secret caverns. Then we search the coffin, and lo: a bolt of Cloth of Platinum worth 1,900 GP and a type 4 Bag of Holding which we're definitely going to be using.

By now the mummy rot is taking effect, and Ruin staggers down to the basement of the temple, climbs into the top bunk, and collapses. Martini heads over to Wendy's house to check for secret doors (and doesn't find any) and also to kill any Wendies on the premises (ditto). Wendy's basement is a kinky, kinky mess, but she's gone and she wasn't harboring any human raiders.

So, what to do now? Ruin and Mercy commandeer a cart and a horse and head back to Brindinford, intent on buying some wands of Cure Light Wounds and some poison for the remaining beer, and possibly also some disease-curing for Ruin. Damian the ranger heads back to his house with a casual "Let me know when you find the humans" tossed over his shoulder, and Azrael and Martini head back to the bar. The owners are cowering in their quarters upstairs, but Martini talks them out and business resumes.

Once out of hiding, Brairin and Failil insist that it's vital to hold burial rites for the two dead priests. They drag Martini and Azrael back to the graveyard, and hand Azrael a shovel which he uses to predictable effect. They put the two bodies into a single grave (married, after all), and Martini fakes her way through a eulogy with a bit of help from the manuscript we found earlier.

As the funeral is winding to its close, the giant skeleton (Blarg) appears and beckons to Azrael. He tries to slip out unseen, but Martini is having none of that. So the skeleton reaches down, plucks him up and carries him off into the woods. ("Oh! My! Help! Whatever shall I do?")

Martini: "My brother has been kidnapped! We must find this human wizard and end her!"
Also Martini: "Let's just head back to the bar and have a drink to mourn his passing. Or whatever. Idiot."

Later on, at the bar: Orek, one of the leaders of the human raiders, has shown up to buy a keg of beer. Ruin and Mercy are still on the road, so there's nothing to poison it with, so Martini takes careful note of him but does nothing. Brairin, following her cues, says that his supplier is late and that he won't have another keg of the porter until at least tomorrow night. Orek grumbles, but heads back to wherever he came from.

Another new arrival at the bar is Colver, one of the elves who lives in this tiny (and rapidly dwindling) town. Colver's wife Cada disappeared a few weeks ago, and he is both grieving for her and just generally old and cranky about everyone... well, everyone except Martini. She offers to have her companion scry for the missing wife as soon as he returns, and Colver is overjoyed... in a creepy, meanwhile-he-should-hit-on-Martini sort of way. Azrael could have warned him that Martini tends to break up with her boyfriends by assassinating them, and those are boys she actually likes, but Azrael is off making the undead Beast With Two Backs in the woods and so nobody is there to warn the pervy old elf-guy.

So Martini walks him home, lets him pass out on the bed, and thoroughly searches his house -- finding no secret doors, but some evidence that all his wife's stuff has been taken down and stored away, as if he can't bear to look at it any longer. Martini heads back to the temple and sleeps.

The following evening, Colver's back at the bar, being friendly and creepy. This time a different human shows up: still clearly part of Los Muertos, but much better dressed than the last guy. He introduces himself as Peter Tanglebush, takes a looooong look at Martini, and starts talking about how elven maidens just don't know how good it can be with a human. He wants the keg of porter, but we're saving that for the poison; instead, for his twenty gold, he gets a keg of the Amber Ale which Brairin will probably have to explain later as a truly unfortunate mistake. He picks it up, sets it on his shoulder, and strides off into the night.

Martini follows. From the direction, it looks like either he's headed towards Lotharian's house at the top of the hill, or maybe the waterfall... but he notices Martini, and stops. He doesn't want to be followed, and shoos Martini away. Martini starts back towards the bar, but ducks into Wendy's house and watches through the window as he picks the keg back up and walks over... to a secret door in the hillside that none of us had spotted. So now Martini knows where the humans are hiding, and that their base is right under Lotharian's house.

By this time, Ruin and Reverend Mercy have reached Brindinford. Mercy has had a chance to sleep and pray for new spells, and he heals Ruin of the mummy rot; at this point, as far as Ruin is concerned Mercy is a round-eared elf -- a little crazy, maybe, but who isn't? Ruin's big on loyalty, and Mercy for all his quirks has consistently come through for his companions.

The Baron welcomes them back, expresses his gratitude again (not just for killing the mind flayer, but also for, y'know, not just killing the Baron himself and looting his treasury). He helps facilitate our purchases: a pair of Cure Light Wounds wands that Ruin pays for out of the party treasure (costing 1,500 gold for the pair), and another pair of Cure Light Wounds wands and one Cure Moderate Wounds wand which Mercy pays for out of his own funds, mainly the platinum pieces he collected from Wendy's house earlier. Then they ask the Baron about poison...

The Baron has no access to that, but there are certain business that he... doesn't shut down, because as long as they operate he can monitor the things they deal in. So he sends them off to a supplier, with a message: it's half price, or you will be shut down and things will get really unpleasant. We end up buying another 1,500 GP worth of Dark Reaver Powder (good for weakening strength and health and enough to poison a whole cask of ale).

Back in Serpent's Head, the "newcomer" elf Lotharian has shown up at the bar. He's an old man, and pretty quiet, but Martini spots him and strikes up a conversation. It turns out that he used to live in Mellicure and still has family there, though he left many years back. Mellicure, curiously, is the only other nearby settlement that hasn't been sacked. He's a bit suspiciious of Martini, probably just because she's being friendly and asking questions, and because he's old and jaded. He mentions in passing that Martini reminds him of that human girl, Wendy, but Martini masters her temper and manages not to kill him. He also insists that there are no humans hanging around; when Martini points out that she saw one just last night, he coughs and admits that there might be a few out in the forest.

Martini heads back to the temple and trances, and in the morning Reverend Mercy and Ruin return. Azrael shows up too, having apparently hiked back to town following his wild three-day goth sex binge. Martini regards him with disdain.

First up: poisoned porter. Mercy drops the entire supply of Dark Reaver Powder into the barrel, and we carry it over to the tavern. Martini brings everybody up to speed on developments in the village, then brings them along for her brunch with Colver. Mercy fakes casting scrying (which he didn't actually have prepared) but one of his snakes points unmistakably towards the pond in the center of the village. Brunch goes quickly: the food is good, the assassination is fast and quiet, and Martini throws Culver's body in the pond, presumably to rejoin his missing wife.

That evening, Orek shows up to collect a barrel of porter, and Brairin (with many apologies for the previous night's mix-up) hands him the poisoned barrel. Orek carries it back to the hidden door, but since we already know where that is nobody gives themselves away by following him. We just wait...

So next session should pick up when we've given the humans a decent chance to poison themselves, and we can move in to (hopefully) finish them off.

Party Treasure adjustments for Azrael's Player:

We've added:
-1,200 GP worth of stuff from the clerics
-19 GP from the altar
-35 GP from the bedroom in the temple
-20 GP and 17 SP from the graveyard
-Cloth of Platinum worth 1,900 GP
-Type 4 Bag of Holding that probably should go on somebody's inventory.

We spent:
-1,500 GP for Ruin's pair of CLW wands
-1,500 GP for the poison

...So if I can still do maths in my head, we came out of the session 174 gp and 17 SP to the good.


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