Yesterday would have been Gary Gygax's 74th birthday. I believe the quote above captures his essence perfectly; therefore, in the spirit of the day, I thought to myself, "What better time to get my kids's game rolling again?" And so, we did.
When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they had returned to the Keep after finding Bane Deathchant's brother, Kane, crucified outside the Goblin caves of the Caves of Chaos. [In summary, a fight had broken out amongst the party members over Kane trying to take a Goblin as a henchman and his body was left in the (dead) ogre's cave.] They had also cleared the kobold cave. Easily slaughtering the guards and most of the male population, the adventurers had allowed the survivors to flee into the Borderlands after telling them about the cave complex. This intelligence will (hopefully) serve them well.
The dramatis personae are as follows:
Anana Steelhammer of Glorsten. 1st level Dwarf cleric of Bleredd, NT. Bleredd is Ulaa's husband and is a god of blacksmithing and crafts. (In my Greyhawk, I have simplified the deity lists. One way was to eliminate the non-human deities which were, I believe, largely Roger E. Moore's creations. Gary once wrote on the Dragonsfoot Forums that nonhumans of Oerth should probably follow those deities anyway.) Armed with a warhammer, her domains in the 3.5 ruleset we're using are Earth and Fire. Thus, she can turn water- and air-based creatures and control earth- and fire-based ones (if they ever run into any!) in addition to the standard undead-turning abilities.
Allyara Fiernvein of Celene. 1st level Elf Ranger From Celene, CN. A follower of Olidammara, it'll be interesing to see if she multiclasses into Rogue. Surprisingly enough, she is the most leveled PC in the party. Go figure.
Bane Deathchant. 1st level Human Wizard/Necromancer, CE. This human has arrived in the Borderlands (actually, the Keep is set in one of the Ulek states just south of the Lortomils--but still descriptively called the Borderlands) where he was to meet his brother Kane at the Keep. When he arrived, he found that his brother had taken off to a cave complex and with a group of adventurers. Unfortunately, his body had been left behind when the party had to flee....goblins?!! He has a thing about goblins now--when he returned with the party that found his brother crucified outside the goblin caves. Score one for the other players; the goblins saved the player's hides by that one. He also has a (as yet unnamed) raven familiar.
Dalgard of Greyhawk (NPC). 2nd level Cleric of Pelor, NG. Dalgard is my stock PC cleric for beginning parties that I've used for over 20 years to beef up beginning parties. It's probably time for him to go on his way.
We pick up with the party venturing out to the Caves once more. This time, armed with intelligence, they decided to strike at the orcs (they also learned previously that the goblins now have a contingent of wolf-riders (and a warg!) stationed in the old Ogre cave). It went about as well as could be expected.They didn't notice the guard watching the door from the "wall of heads." The necromancer took a goblin head from the display and then they headed right. Meanwhile, the guard got the other guard room and attacked from the rear while they were engaged with the other guards. However, they made quick work of both groups.
Heading up the sloping hallway, they found the storeroom and then attacked the chief and his consorts. The dwarf found a set of dwarvan-sized maille and also a chest of monies; who needs a thief? Smashing a lock is always more satisfying than picking a lock! Oh, and they also find what will later prove to be a healing potion and a scroll of fireball. They then found the secret meeting room for the two chiefs. Reasoning that there has to be something more (one of them quipped, "Yeah, this is not his secret study for writing his memoirs!"), they searched until they found the secret door to the other orc tribe's complex.
Of course this lead them to the "boss fight" for the session. Now the other chief was a 4 HD creature, but his AC was only 18. As well, as they roll, he wasn't too much of a problem, actually. This one was 3 HD, but his AC was 20 in plate armor with a shield. Yes, a problem.
They did manage to whittle him down (there were actually two crits--one from a warhammer for x3 damage!) through luck and burning all of their spells, especially a burning hands (cleric) and a chill touch (necromancer). The chill touch was doubly useful in that it drained a point of strength, so I dropped the chief's BAB by 1. After the fight they did manage to find a rope of climbing that the elf promptly took as an artifact of her people.
Ok, so they made it around the corner to the entrance. The dwarf in the lead spotted the tripwire for the net trap. Not having a thief, they decided not to risk a disable device check; they had no idea it was just a net because they never tried to trace the lines or look up even (note to self: time to stat putting some slimes and puddings on the ceiling!). The dwarf stepped over, no problem. The necromancer, however, tripped over his big feet setting off the alarm and dropping the net square on himself! Everyone made a DEX check to dodge out of the way. They immediately heard the sounds of orcs preparing to head their way. Round one, Dalgard covered one hallway, the dwarf the other one. The elf began cutting the necromancer out of the net. Round two, the necromancer was free and got up, the elf winged an orc in the back of the mob of 9 bearing down on the cleric (who holds his action to take out two when they reach him--cleave feat for the win!) and the dwarf was still waiting for her mob. Round three, the second group of 5 arrived and it degenerated into a vicious melee. No one died although the necromancer was taken down to 1 hp; I suggested that he take a defensive stance (+4 bonus to AC) and stay out of the fight as much as possible.
After surviving the fight, they checked the other two rooms and found the women and children orcs that they promptly killed. Even Dalgard had to agree with the reasoning of the NT dwarf cleric who also happens to hate orcs; of course, this is another reason for him to move on. Unlike Sir Osric the paladin, he won't just go and examine rustic architecture to ease his conscience when this sort of thing happens in the future (cf. Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising).
Well, the party made it back to the Keep, sold some jewelry, and got some items identified by the castellean's advisor, a elven fighter/mage that I made a follower of Zagyg. I was too tired (it was late) to work that in last night, but will in the future. Everyone also had enough xp to level up, so things are getting better for them.
After going over my notes this morning, I noticed that I forgot that they had hired 3 mercenaries (that were with them against the kobolds previously) for a full month. I presume that they forgot them as well then, and they spent the day in the tavern drinking. With a level 2 Cleric of their own and some hired muscle, it is definitely time for Dalgard to move on.
I'm interested to see where they go next. I keep dropping hints about the missing merchant, but they haven't picked up on them yet. Of course, they have yet to enter the right complex anyway. I think it's time for the keep commander to take interest in them and send them on a mission. Maybe supply a couple of crossbowman to give them so more firepower.
And that's where we stand. They could use a thief.