We had yet again another session of Castles and Crusades last night. But this one took a bit of a twist...We added a few people that haven't played the game before. Both of these guys are from the other Tuesday night 4E group; Wes and Jeff. Wes is our DM for the 4E game and Jeff is the store owner of Enchanted Grounds, a coffee / game shop at 8800 S. Colorado Blvd. in Highlands Ranch.
Now I knew that Jeff was still a pretty big fan of the older style of play, but I wasn't so sure about Wes. But I knew that he'd be a great role player nonetheless...and I wasn't wrong. So, in total, we had 3 players; Paul, Wes and Jeff.
Wes and Jeff got there a bit early and jumped right into rolling up some characters. (We stuck w/ the old 3d6 method) Jeff ended up rolling a halfling thief with a 4 wisdom named Five Fingered Freddy the Filch, or Frederick for short. Besides his 4 wisdom he had some really high stats...But as role playing games often work out, Jeff riffed off of his low wisdom wonderfully. He was awesome.
Wes rolled up a cleric named Brother Thabador Fisk. Now...there's a bit of history here. Brother Fisk is a regular NPC in Wes' Kaldrak Lyres campaign. He's a rather large, congenial, older cleric who's in charge of the daily duties at the largest church in the city. This iteration of Brother Fisk was obviously younger....but still an exuberant and colorful character. He was fantastic.
I'd like to preface this recap with the fact that we didn't get a whole lot done, but man-o-man, did I have a great time playing / DMing. These guys were just super role players.
On with the recap:
9 days have passed since the last foray into the Moathouse and Drizzle Spatchcock has finally healed to the point that he's not only stir crazy, but ready to get back to finding more loot...er, information. That same day, a couple of itinerant wanderers come in off the road, telling stories and purchasing extravagant meals. This unlikely couple, a large man dressed in the simple vestments of faith, and a spritely halfling of friendly demeanor, were the center of attention of a small crowd. All this commotion attracts the attention of Drizzle...
Drizzle might be called a dandy, or maybe even a fop, in some circles. And if outward appearances were all there were to a man then indeed this would be truth. But, thankfully there's more than that to a person. But Brother Fisk had only the large silly hat, and tastefully (if worn a bit) tailored, earth-toned clothes to go by as Drizzle came up and introduced himself. The first word out of the cleric's mouth is "Gesundheit"...an auspicious start.
Yet, Brother Fisk and Frederick invite Drizzle to take a seat and partake of some wine. Over the span of several hours and seven courses, the wizard has spun his tale, interjected from time to time by a parable or lesson from Brother Fisk of course. The two newcomers are intrigued by the Moathouse and agree to set forth on the morrow.
A bright and balmy morning (if 10 or 11 am can be called morning still) greets the adventurers as they prepare to set off upon the road heading east out of Hommlet. Joining them are the henchmen Wonkin "Fire Eye", Portly Tom, and the hireling, Elmo. After hearing that they will be travelling through swamps, Brother Fisk immediately decides upon changing his attire. He swaps out his light, padded armor for the chain shirt recovered from one of the bandits in the Moathouse. He also takes up the short spear and shield. Satisfied with that, he looks down and realizes that his sandals and robes will no longer do.
With that he drags the rest of the group through Hommlet to both the tailor's shop as well as the leather worker. In the span of an hour he has a workable pair of heavy wool pants (for 1gp and 3sp) that were meant for Ostler Gundigoot at the Inn, and a fine pair of low, soft walking boots. (for 2 sp...what a bargain.) Now, fully provisioned and prepared, the group sets off.
The dusty road provides little shade and the adventurers meet few, if any, travellers. Eventually the landscape slowly changes from rolling hills forested with thinly spaced trees to a low, boggy, swamp to the north of the road.
The drone of insects and the warm, humid air accompanies the party as they move off the road and onto the thin, rarely used trail heading north, straight into the swamps. Close brambles, grabbing willows and a washed out trail made the 2 hour journey nearly unbearable, but eventually the Moathouse was spotted.
Nothing moved in the still, close air as they spent many minutes surveying the wrecked edifice from the cover of a small ridge. But armed with the knowledge that guards had been posted last time, Frederick was sent forward to determine if indeed, a hidden observer had been stationed.
Moving like a small shadow, the small halfling flitted forward through the tangled growth to obtain a better angle of observation as well as to be able to "hear" if anything was amiss. Gaining a good vantage point, Frederick did indeed hear what he thought to be two voices, just inside the gates. Quickly, yet still quietly he moved back to the main group to inform them of his findings.
A plan was quickly hatched, Frederick and Drizzle crept forward again, to the same spot, while Brother Fisk and Elmo set off down the road towards the rotted drawbridge and gates. Speaking in normal tones, which for a standard person might be considered a quiet shout, Brother Fisk was telling Elmo of the time that he... Just then, a grizzled head popped around the broken corner of the gate to see who might be approaching without a care in the world.
This was the opening that Drizzle was looking for as he quickly cast his sleep spell. The sound of a body hitting the ground behind the gate caused the observing bandit no end of consternation as he ducked back into cover to find the problem. (*BTW, I don't know what in the world came over me, but generally sleep does not allow a save. Maybe the spell's edge just caught one bandit, and not the other. I'll make sure I adjudicate it correctly next time. My apologies.)
With this, Frederick and Drizzle sprang up and rushed the gate. The nimble halfling skipped quickly across the rotted drawbridge while the foppish Drizzle brought up the rear. Finding the bandit completely engrossed in his sleeping comrade, Frederick crept forward silently and made a few small repairs to the wakeful bandit's anatomy. Namely, two holes where his kidneys used to reside. Uttering not a word, the bandit slumped across his sleeping comrade.
Quickly Frederick arranged the bodies to appear as if they were both sleeping...but the huge pool of blood upon the broken cobbles was tough to disguise. Drizzle realized immediately what had happened and opted to dump them both into the moat. Frederick agreed, and since he had seen some type of large disturbance in the water as he crossed the bridge earlier, was most assured that neither bandit would wake again.
Meanwhile Brother Fisk and Elmo stood patiently across the moat and observed the bodies being quietly slid into the dark water. With raised eyebrow, the cleric pontificated upon the wisdom of disposing of enemies before proceeding onwards. Apparently he approved of the actions. After a creakingly slow shuffle across the old gate that they pulled from the moat, Fisk and Elmo take positions just inside the doors to the Moathouse courtyard.
Again, after close observation, nothing seems to move besides the tall grass that grows up through the heaved pavers that cover the courtyard. Frederick then uses the tall foliage to maneuver his way close to the main entrance. He peers into the dark and sees nothing untoward. The rest of the party take his cue and move forward.
As the party makes their cautious way across the courtyard, Frederick hears the sound of stone on stone come from his left...as if something large is moving about somewhere. When the group arrives he informs them of this and proceeds to climb to the burnt roof, utilizing Drizzle's offer of rope, but finds nothing.
While only darkness seems to occupy the large chamber beyond the double doors, the party takes it cautiously. After all, the tales told thus far are enough to instill prudence in even the most bold. A magic light is lit at the tip of Drizzle's staff and Frederick proceeds into the main chamber to find it in a state of disarray and abandonment. The thief moves through the shadows as if he's one himself...
Frederick checks down the right-hand hallway and finds three doors, two on the right, one of the left, while the end opens up into another large chamber. He motions to his comrades and starts sneaking down the hall.
Drizzle takes his lit staff and checks the floor, finding that the most worn path through the detritus leads from the two broken main doors straight through to a closed door at the back of the chamber. Noting this, he casts a hold portal upon the far door then proceeds after the rest of the group down the right-hand hallway.
Once there the halfling checks the first door for traps. Finding nothing, he pushes the door open just as the cleric spots something moving through a shaft of light in the far room. He spies undulating patterns on what appears to be a massive snake and whispers to Elmo to be on the lookout. The red-headed simpleton steps back a pace and mumbles that he doesn't like snakes.
Frederick has meanwhile opened the first door on the right and finds a small chamber festooned with fire ravaged furniture and a book shelf or two. Finding a loose panel, he moves it to the side to discover a well maintained broadsword. Its blade gleams brightly, an obvious sign of craftsmanship, while the hilt and grip appear rotted with water and time.
The next room divulges no secrets what-so-ever.
It is after this that Drizzle moves his staff, using mage hand, into the far room at the terminus of the hall. With the sudden light, an enormous snake, nearly 15' long, strikes at the closest warm body, which just so happens to be Elmo. Its fangs skid harmlessly across his armor though. The battle is on.
Elmo strikes back with his huge axe while Frederick uses this distraction to dart to the rear (if there can be a "rear") of the serpent. Both blows, Elmo's and Frederick's, fall wide as the wily snake moves quickly from side to side.
Brother Fisk sees that the combatants need help and he rushes to the fore, yelling the whole while, trying to provide a distraction. This works, as the beast swivels its attention to the rotund cleric. This time Elmo strikes true and opens an enormous gash along the creature's flank.
The snake though is riveted upon Fisk and attacks him with a vengeance. But the cleric's shield proves up to the task as he deflects the blow. He then stabs forward with his short spear and scores a hit causing the creature to quickly fall back, hissing and bleeding profusely.
Drizzle then hits the creature with a magic missile. This proves too much for the snake and it slithers as fast as it possibly can towards the far hole in the wall...seeking escape.
A thorough search provides a gorgeous gem encrusted dagger that adorned a long dead humanoid creature found in the beast's nest.
Drizzle, standing guard at the far end of the hallway while the others search, hears banging upon the door that he recently ensorcled. Soon afterwards the receding sound of men's voices and splashing from outside alert Drizzle that the room's occupants have now retreated.
And here's where we ended it. We didn't get a whole lot done, but the play by the PCs was superb. I missed a few cues here and there...I'm not sure if I was nervous or what, but there are a few things that I might do a bit differently. Hopefully they'll be a next time.
House rules used:
- Rule of 30 (by Jeff Reints): A player may opt to roll the D30 once per session to replace any previously rolled score. (Not for HPs or attributes obviously)
- Spells: Point system taken from Microlite20 and Ode to Black Dougal's Dark Sun game. Slight change though, instead of pulling directly from HPs, there's now a pool that is equal to HPs and if taken to 0 the spell caster collapses in exhaustion. If taken below 0, the sum is directly subtracted from current HPs and can not be healed by magic, only time can heal these wounds.
- Search: 1 on a roll of a d6 for most. 1 or 2 on a d6 for thieves, elves searching for secret doors, and dwarves searching stone features.
I told the guys that as long as I can get my "old-school" fix, I'd be joining them at the table for 4E.
Signing off for now. Until next time, adieu.