Sunday 19 February 2023

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 5 (Machodor #2); Tour of the Bandit Mountains

 

Detail of the Bandit Mountains


Introduction


Following on from last week, the party had unfinished business in the Bandit Mountains. Since this was the case, and they had adventured for exactly one week in time last session, we decided to pick up from where we left off for this session.

Timekeeping (Aus)


This session took place on 17/Feb/2023 and the PCs adventured for 21 days.

Player Characters Present


Godleve (Level 4 Cleric of Machodor)
Giuseppe (Level 4 Paladin from Rome, Brovenloft)
Sever (Level 1 Ranger of Machodor)
Shamus (Level 1 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft)
Slippery Pete (Level 1 Thief of unknown provenance)
Leopold (Level 1 Fighter of unknown provenance, rescued from under Castle Von Necro)

Everyone is human unless specified otherwise in Trollopulous.

Prelude


Upon inspection; Castle Von Necro was in disrepair, about half was safe enough to move around in (the gatehouse, courtyard etc), part of the remainder had collapsed into the valley below, and the rest could join it at any time. They found the that the portcullis and gates in the gatehouse were in relatively good repair so they closed them and used the area as their camp. 

The freed prisoners, 8 VIPs and 14 slaves, explained that they had been labouring underground beneath the castle, digging in search of a key that Gisoria, the necromance defeated last session, believed would open a door embedded in the floor at the deepest level of the crypts. All attempts to force the door, a huge stone portal featuring the family crest in bas relief, had resulted in death. Not only this, but the prisoners were slowly dying off; not from physical exhaustion, but from some sort of drain on their life force. They all wanted to go home ASAP. Once they discovered Gisoria had been defeated, it was all the PCs could do to stop them immediately running off.

After talking to the captured VIPs the party was able to update their map with the information below (I generated this by treating each VIP as a "MAP" as per DMG pg. 120, with some modifications)
Distances based on starting from Castle Von Necro:

#1 Count Gastel of Grindelwald, 10 Miles North East
Promises a piece of jewellery and 2000gp for each party member on his safe return
 
#2 Renard of Bombrazillia (some 450 Miles South West)
Promises 10,000 Electrum pieces for his safe return home

#3 Burgermeister Pele of Wengen, 6 Miles East
Promises 1000 Electrum pieces each party member for his safe return.

#4 Andiril of Andermatt, 5 Miles North
Promises 2,000 gp per party member on his safe return

#5 Countess Echellet of Guarda, 36 Miles South West 
Promises 2000 EP an and 5 gems per party member for her safe return

#6 Stadtammann Krellard of Gimmelwald, 8 Miles distant South East 
Promises 1,000gp per party member on his safe return

#7 Sawtoss of Cragenda, 200 miles South (in unkown territory)
Promises 10 gems each to the party for his safe return

#8 Larmagnon of St Therese, 450 Miles West (allied with Machodor)
Promises 1500 gp to each party member upon his safe return home

Whatever else was going on, the PCs now had dollar signs in their eyes. With the party on horses and the VIPs & Prisoners on foot (no one said they brought extra horses for them) I decided they could cover about 10 miles a day in the mountains. The valley they were in was a bit of a hub location, so their possible routes needed to take this into account.


Castle Von Necro and boxed text
"You awaken the morning after killing Gisoria Von Necro and freeing the VIPs and prisoners. Far from feeling refreshed your night was plagued by evil dreams (except for Giuseppe the Paladin who merely feels a bit a uneasy). For some of you the dreams featured treasures and riches beyond your wildest...erm dreams. Others beheld military might enough to conquer the region; others, political success to reach the highest orders of your profession.

Each of your dreams had some commonality, a woman lying on a stone plinth and holding a gold scythe across her body. Her face, though obviously beautiful, is obscured by a mask made from gold and fashioned to resemble a human skull without the lower jaw; save that it has golden fin like horns projecting from her crown and temple regions. Her eyes, closed, are visible through the mask; you seem drawn to them, and, as you get closer, they suddenly open. You somehow read in those eyes, whose pupils are in the form of tiny golden skulls, that all this is on offer to you; if you were only to free her from her prison many levels deep below the castle."


This week I wanted the weather to be a feature of what the party had to overcome in the mountains, I made use of this generator which did the job, but I could probably use something more AD&D specific. The Wilderness Survival Guide has a whole chapter on weather, but I couldn't make sense of it in time and it looked like a lot of work to do every day (would have been 22 times for this session!)

In the morning the party's plans to move on were immediately stymied by snow that reduced visibility and movement. Sever (Ranger Level 1) chose to scout the trail to Gimmelwald in the south east after explaining in no uncertain terms to the VIPs and former prisoners that the party would move out from the castle when they were good and ready. One of the former prisoners, Leopold, was an adventurer himself (Fighter Level 1); he took up one of the many old weapons strewn about the castle and also tried to squeeze himself into the other suit of Field Plate that had been found last session. Alas the field plate could not accommodate his ample frame, but he was more than content to take Sever's old plate mail. 

as though his very lifeforce was drawn out
The scouting proved that the path was open and the others spent the first day ransacking the castle for makeshift winter clothing fashioned from bedding and tapestries etc. Previously they had found that Gisoria Von Necro had on her person a pouch with 22 small gems and two books that radiated magic, little else of value was found. None were interested in checking out the door the prisoners had been trying to open in the depths of the crypts under the castle (perhaps another time?)

The next day dawned bright and sunny, seemingly vindicating the decision to spend a day in preparation. However, the prisoner's desperation to leave the castle was also vindicated, one of them had not made it through the night.





Somewhat subdued after this development the party of 26 travelled to Gimmewald. They had no encounters along they way, delivered Stadtammann Krellard and received their reward; easy. Sheamus (Fighter Level 1) attempted to hire the freed captives as mercenaries, but they were having none of it. 

Gimmelwald
The remaining party members rested for the night and followed with a full day shopping in Gimmelwald, then rested again. Retracing their steps they pushed all the way past the valley of Castle Von Necro and continued on halfway to Wengen, then made camp with the ample gear they had purchased in Gimmelwald.



The night was uneventful and the morning weather was clear, they continued to Wengen. Along the way the first potentially deadly random encounter came up; Griffons. Sever caught sight of them (eight in number) and managed to roll well for surprise. I used surprise really to determine which side, if any, noticed the other, but surprise also limits the encounter range; not an issue in the dungeon but quite a big difference with flying creatures in the mountains. Perhaps they were coming into to land? Anyway, I ruled that the party had time to hide, but I also had to factor in the smell of the horses they had with them; Griffons can smell out a horse up to 360 yards!

Used this table from DMG pg. 54

With this table I was able to determine that the party were downwind of the Griffons, and, since they had not crossed they party's trail, the monsters did not detect them at all. Chalk up one for the ranger keeping the party out of peril.

Wengen

Around noon time they arrived in Wengen to great fanfare and received their reward from Burgermeister Pele for his safe return. The PCs, particularly Slippery Pete, tried to parlay their popularity for some information. The harlots were not as knowledgeable in this area compared to their main areas of interest, but one shared some recollections that the Family Von Necro were residents of the castle from of old, and were believed to have always been traffickers in dark magics.

Andermatt
On to Andermatt. Part way there the party again managed to get the drop on a random encounter; this time with Stone Giants, six of them. They bravely hid and let the creatures keep moving off to their game of stones elsewhere. Arriving in Andermatt, their reception could not have been more different to Wengen. At the guard tower, once the guard on duty recognised that the party had Andiril with them, it actually looked like he was going to sound the alarm. He thought better of this though and went to get the Guard Captain, who happened to be Andiril's brother; Andiron. 

Andiron related that; during his brother's absence, while Andiron himself was out of the valley; the villagers reported that Andiril had appeared in a spectral form and visited his family house. After a time the spectral forms of his family (his wife and two teenage sons) came out and terrorised the town. No one has been brave enough to investigate his home since. Andiril himself, and, of course, the party, were brave enough; what they found was a conundrum, the fortified dwelling had been stripped of all valuables. Shock, the party were not getting paid for this one! The only clues were tracks of claws, maybe birdlike, on wooden floorboards. Definitely not ghosts...

The PCs were intrigued and their natural sense of fair play drew them to investigate. Count Gastel of Grindelwald was not happy at the delay, which he felt had nothing to do with him, and chaffed to get moving since he was so close to home. Appeals to his good nature and to put himself in the shoes of poor Andiril did not move him, he was sure the rich town of Grindelwald was safe from such petty worries.

Another day passed and the party stayed in Andiril's empty house, they searched the place thoroughly and asked around in town. In the end it looked like their suspicions of Andiron's involvement were unfounded; but that was as much as they could accomplish.

Wind Walker (left profile)

The weather was again good the next morning and the party moved on to Grindelwald. Sever once again prevent them from finding out the hard way how friendly a random mountain monster was (this time a Wind Walker).


Arriving in Grindelwald, the beautiful town seem subdued; but the only problem visible was a burnt out and ruined villa in a prominent location on the mountain side. A distraught woman came out of a village house and cried out to Count Gastel before spilling the story of what had happened in his absence. It seemed that Gastel's villa had been destroyed by "Lord Inferno", an ancient and huge Red Dragon, thought to be a legend, who then claimed all the town's riches, and has been returning every few months to accept virgins at the threat of destroying the rest of the town. Even now he is due to return on the Feast of St. Ubuld to take Gastel's last remaining daughter. At this Count Gastel went into shock and spoke no more, the woman lead him into her home and the PCs were left to their own devices (and schadenfreude).
Grindelwald (before shot)

They turned up some information regarding the dragon, it was the consensus of the townsfolk that he lived in a very large mountain to the northwest, a big white topped mountain in a cluster of five others. One old woman suggested that the dragon had raided the area previously, but many many years before; perhaps it had awoken from a long sleep recently and was hungry? A barren valley to the west lead most of the way to the mountains where he lived, but the PCs didn't see this as an option to pursue at the present time.

They spent a day in the region and Sever searched for an alternate passage out of the mountains, but without luck, so on they next day they left the sad town behind and retraced their path for the next few days, making good time. The trip out of the mountains had been uneventful as they settled down to camp within sight of the plains beyond. However they were not alone, a group of a dozen familiar looking monks arrived, apparently returning via the same route they had been encountered on last session. They figured both groups would be safer camping together, and the party agreed. Their world was about to change.

In the middle of the night, with Sheamus on watch, there was a sudden commotion. The others awoke to find a blizzard of wings and shrieks as though huge birds had alighted among them. The bird men creatures were everywhere but did not appear to be making attacks, and they would be gone in seconds.

Immediately Slippery Pete announced that he would grapple one of the creatures. This declaration was followed by others from all but Godleve; who announced, wisely as it turned out, that he would check his belongings to ensure nothing had been stolen.

We all opened the DMG to page 72 and the fun began. Why not watch a video on the subject here?

Since most of the party had been sleeping, I ruled that they had removed their armour; this had the effect of increasing their chances dramatically (dang)! When the one round battle was over, the bigger fighters had demolished three of the bird men, while Slippery Pete, although having a much tougher time of it; had none the less managed to capture one alive. They made a roll call and found that two of VIPS were gone: these were Andiril and Sawtoss; they must have been taken by the bird men! Also, all of the monks were gone. A quick check of the clothing worn by the bird men they had defeated confirmed rising suspicions; the monks were the bird men!

Plans to head back into Machodor were shelved; vengeance was on the table. They returned to  Gimmelwald and put the remaining VIPS: Renard of Bombrazillia, Countess Echellet of Guarda, and Larmagnon of St Therese into the care of Mayor Krellard. The mayor had some knowledge of the bird men (aka Kenku), but had thought they were mere stories. Seeing the one the PCs had captured dispelled all his doubt, though he did not have any actionable information as to their location; only that for generations the creatures had featured in stories told among the inhabitants of the mountain towns. It was said that some of them could use magic; spells that inflicted damage, or, allowed them take on the form of other beings, or even to become invisible.

The party put their heads together and decided that it must have been the bird men behind what happened to Andiril's family, and who knew what other mischief they had been getting up to?

They bought supplies and set off the next morning, heading to the crossroads where they had first encountered the "monks", in an effort to try to track down the Kenku's lair somehow. Finding nothing helpful at the pass, they continued north west. The days passed and their frustrations grew, frustrations they were tempted to take out on their prisoner. Cooler heads prevailed and they treated the Kenku, who made no apparent effort to communicate, with enough accommodation to encourage him to cooperate. One cloudy morning, as the party were beginning to think they were wandering aimlessly, it became clear that the Kenku did not want to move away from the towering snow capped mountains just north of the camp; was this a lead?
"Kenku, mental!" -- Ron Ragnar.


They set off up into the rugged mountains in the hope that it was; however, before they had gone more than a few hours, they encountered short, bearded creatures, who were moving in numbers towards them. It turned out this was a force of dwarfs from clan Ragnar, out of the Schloss Ragnar, allies of Machodor. The leader of this force, Ron Ragnar, was fascinated by their story; for monks very similar in description had previously been involved in the disappearance of two separate groups of dwarfs. Macho Mandalf himself had gotten involved to secure their rescue. As Schloss Ragnar was just a few days west, perhaps the party were interested in travelling there to rest and to later aid Clan Ragnar in bringing the culprits to justice. This was agreed, and, after several days of really bad snow storms that may have frozen them solid had they not been with the dwarfs, the party finally arrived at the mighty fortress of Schloss Ragnar.


Treasure and XP


Session 16/02/2023 Treasure and XP

All characters present got
1500GP/XP for VIP returns (this is spendable within Schloss Ragnar without the need for money changing to Gold Machos)

240XP for the Kenkus killed (2  *  2hd, 1 * 3HD) works out to 40xp each.

  • Sever
  • Slippery Pete
  • Godleve
  • Giuseppe

Get 1950GP/XP each from the gems taken from Gisoria last week

Still to be sorted out in down time:
  • Spare suit of field plate
  • two magic books 

Class Grading


Leopold (Fighter Level 1), E. With so little combat it was a hard session to be a fighter, but he grappled at the first opportunity.

Slippery Pete (Thief Level 1), E. Once again showing the strength of the thief class even in non-favoured terrain.

Sever (Ranger Level 1), E. His early warnings kept the party alive on many occasions and showed how vital a Ranger is in the mountains. Kept the VIPs in line without quite going over the line himself.

Godleve (Cleric Level 4), E. Did not need to turn anything today but contributed to spreading the word of the Church laying to rest the fallen.

Giuseppe (Paladin Level 4), E. Tithed, again, you don't actually see that much. Fought well and bravely.

Shaemus (Fighter Level 1), E. Had the bad luck to be in armour when the wrestling fight broke out but kept on with his goal of purchasing a small military force to lead; perhaps he will have better luck among the dwarfs?

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