So I apparently missed a really fun D&D Encounters session last week, for which I am eternally sad. The party cleared Phylund Lodge of all the gnolls, and also fought and defeated a human necromancer. I didn’t ask at the time, but I wonder if the human necromancer was controlling the gnolls somehow. In any event, Gavan got a fantastic gift: the necromancer’s spellbook! Yay for more magic spells for Gavan to study. I also heard there was absolutely no effort made towards stealth / reconnaissance. In fact, my understanding is that there was quite an epic battle on the stairs, with the party trying to fight their way upwards, with a near infinite number of gnolls impeding their path with weapons and savagery.
As far as explaining Gavan’s sudden disappearance, the way I imagine it, Gavan took a sip of the water in the cave the party was in, and even though all his high elf teachers taught him to boil the water before drinking from an unknown source, he was thirsty. This turned out to be a mistake, as he came down with a horrible case of dysentery, and retreated back to Daggerford to recover from his illness. Not to mention the pants soiling part…blasted dysentery. Anyways, he met up with the party after they returned from their gnoll extermination, and all was good.
So the big damn heroes for this week include:
- Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety (whose healing was very welcome due to persistent near-death experiences)
- Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
- Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
- Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
- Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
- Mave, a Human (I think) Rogue, and the only female in the party (who for some reason sounds like Christian Bale’s Batman when she speaks.)
- Santal, a Halfing Cleric, as opposed to Sandal, the comic relief dwarf. Enchantment?
- Malice, a Tiefling Paladin, who desperately wants to be evil, but is not allowed to be as the remainder of the party is basically good, and it is a supreme pain in the butt to play an evil character (though it could also be a fun challenge.) Also, I don’t think an evil character would work well in a casual play program like encounters, though for a private campaign setting, it could be made to work. In any event, the player should understand that if the party decides to kill his character, to save the innocent from his / her evil-doing, he / she should not complain about it.
So in Daggerford, we report our victorious gnoll extermination to Sherlyn, the town sheriff, and get paid 25 gold pieces each for our efforts. I was going to write ‘gnoll genocide,’ but I’m assuming there are many more gnolls living somewhere in the Forgotten Realms.
Then an adventure falls in our lap.
As we’re leaving, a horse comes by, with a rider and a body draped over the creature. Asking for help, Waxon applies magical healing to the body, saving his life We learn that they are caravan-folk that were attacked by Orcs in the area known as the Selpir. They ask for our aid, especially the one that was injured, who asks us to save his pregnant wife. We notice the rider rolling his eyes at this statement, but don’t push the issue.
Before leaving for the area of the Selpir, we also report our findings to Sir Isteval, and ask if there’s been any word on the aid we requested to save the Julkoun villagers in Firehammer Hold, assuming they’re still alive. No word, though we learn a tidbit that I apparently forgot to write down earlier; the Dwarf named Jek apparently went to Firehammer Hold, and has not been heard from. I’m unsure if he was sent, or went for his own reasons, but since he’s not back, I’m fearing the worst.
After an overly long debate over whether we should buy horses or not (we settle on letting the dice decide for us, and opt not to buy horses), we head off towards the Selpir. As it’s on the way, and we had heard of orc activity in this area previously, we end up at the Ruins of Harpshield Castle. Inspecting the ruins, we see quite a bit of carnage: destroyed wagons, broken weapons, dead bodies, and orc tracks leading off towards the direction of the Selpir. Oh, joy!
So as we walk on a path through the forest, we naturally run into orcs. Six orcs, in fact, and they’re tougher than they look. The GM kept rolling everytime we landed a hit, presumably for some special, racial ability that I assume allowed them to soak up damage, as this initial group of orcs, despite being outnumbered, took us some time to dispatch. In fact, Szenden and Santal went down, though they got better.
Before we have a chance to search the dead orc bodies, six more show up, then four more, and four more after that. When it’s all said and done, twenty orc bodies lay dead before us. Searching these bodies yielded 83 gold pieces worth of treasure.
Further down the path, we see tents, a campfire, and a hill, on top of which looks like castle ruins, and a prominent tower approximately forty feet tall. Taking advantage of one of his newfound spells, Gavan casts invisibility on Mave to do some reconnaissance. The camp appears to be empty, presumably where the orcs we slaughtered were staying. He does find a small cask filled with brandy, with a flaming maul symbol carved into it. A cask from Firehammer Hold, anyone?
In a rather unexpected turn of events, Santal decides to drink the entire cask of brandy right then and there. It was rather interesting; an intoxicated halfing healer. I was surprised that there are rules for intoxication in the D&D Next rules. Apparently, Wizards of the Coast think of everything.
So Mave scopes out the ruins, and sees there are patrolling orcs, orc guards, etc. With his boots of spider climbing, Valantis scales a ten foot wall rather easily, and helps the rest of the party up to the top. Half the party jumps down before the orcs notice, and naturally, violence ensues. The violence is made very interesting with the appearance of a giant, female ogre (would that be an ogress?). Noticing that the female ogre has a chain tied around its neck, we take the risk to not only combat orcs, but also try to free the female ogre to see if she’ll join us. Naturally, she doesn’t and we have no choice but to put her down.
On top of the tower is an orc magic-user of some sort (we eventually discover it to be a shaman), who subdues Valantis in one shot with magical lightning. One magical healing later, courtesy of Waxon, and Valantis scales the tower for some kung-fu fighting. Gavan, for his part, exhausts all his spells with magic missiles to the shaman and ogre, and collectively we emerge victorious. One thing that surprises me is that the incredibly intoxicated Santal was actually succeeding in his constitution checks and healing people, though in the end, him and Tassidar were making death saves galore. Maybe that should be Santal’s thing, like drunken monkey kung-fu, he can gain a reputation as a skilled, drunken healer. Still, no one in the party dies in the end, and we all live to fight another day. Barely.