Chris (Tiberium), Coby (Warin), Matt (Barron), Brian (Pyrzifal), Dean (Thic Duc), and Jeff (Amathar) are returning cast members.
As we left the party, they were outside the suspected wererat lair. Having fought and defeated the guards on the hilltops, they decided it would be best to return to Restenford to rest and recuperate before venturing below. As they were most of the way there already, it was a short trip back.
Meanwhile, Amathar found himself in a strange, empty room. After mysterious and undisclosed events, he reappeared back where he left, and looked around for the rest of the party. They had already moved elsewhere, so he attempted to follow them, using the doors they had left open as his guide. On the way, he noticed a secret door the party had apparantly passed by. Eventually, he found a room with the remains of skeletons and zombies, demonstrating that he was on the right track, and thought for a little while that he heard Pyro whining – but could not find an actual Pyro, only an empty room.
Amathar was able to follow tracks – there were quite a lot in the area – leading up out of the keep’s dungeons and back to the keep proper. From there, he was able to find the party’s new campsite and follow Barron’s fragrant odor towards Restenford by the direct route rather than the road. Roughly two thirds of the way there, he heard the cry of a hawk stooping to prey. Shortly thereafter, he came upon his friends gazing down into a small gully, with wererat remains scattering the nearby earth. He greeted them with the traditional greeting of ghosts, whose customs were familiar to him from his time as a defense attorney for the litigious undead. “Boo!”
The party jumped. No one fell in.
However, after filling Amathar in on events, and vice versa, they decided to head back to town to rest and regroup rather than descend into the rats' nest immediately; save for Leah, who returned to the Keep to ensure Pyro was fed and cared for in the strangely comfortable room.
Immediately upon returning to town, Pyrcival and Tiberium handed over the baby they had to the church of Pelor. It might not be the baby they wanted, but it was the baby they had. Upon being presented with this swaddled bundle of joy and love, the acolyte who had helped them with their research previously stammered out a nervous “Congratulations!” and offered to schedule a baby shower.
Warin visited a temple of Pelor and submitted himself to the sacrament of the confessional, the sanctity of which suffered from the close presence of his friends and spiritual guides Pyrcival and Tiberium. Warin expressed his doubts, his fears, and (eventually, after much prodding from Tiberium), his own questionable acts. He confessed to influencing the risen dead and turning them one upon the other for his own amusement, violating their sacred rest. He confessed to ordering the dead to attack monsterous but intelligent and living beings. He confessed to following a mysterious voice that led him into wickedness. He explained that he was seeking to explore a new faith, one that would lead him to better places and allow him to help his friends. Luckily, Pelor is a forgiving deity; indeed forgiveness is one of his primary attributes. Warin was forgiven, and granted his second chance.
Warin also explained his encounter with the wraith, and the feeling he had had since then of being reduced in clarity, lost in doubt and fear. The high priest of the temple was able to bring Pelor’s forgiveness to that encounter as well, and for the first time in a long time, Warin felt his full strength and faith return to him. Perhaps this new church would be a better fit than the Mysterious Voice.
Meanwhile, Barron and Amathar investigated the local wizards. Amathar was searching for new spells, and traded a copy of ESP and Levitate to the court wizard for two copies of Strength. Amathar swallowed two goldfish in search of information on his new staff, and got what he wanted, as well as indigestion. He retired with Barron and the court wizard to a nearby field and focused on learning new spells from the captured spellbook. After Barron miscast a spell that caused his head to grow to three times its original size, Amathar was forced by his own embarrassment to apologize for his “apprentice” and retire from the field. Barron, on the other hand, made a tidy profit selling fake enlargement potions to passerby.
Barron also visited the castle mews, claiming the reward he had been offered for rescuing a baby – not THE baby, but a baby – of a hunting falcon. He received the best hunting falcon the lord had – a recent purchase, apparently, one that he had not yet tried personally but had been looking forward to. According to the count, it was a small price to pay for the return of one of his most vulnerable subjects. (When Barron later examined the falcon closely, seeking to understand its capabilities, mysterious laughter was heard, and Tiberium’s sword Purity was heard complaining that the bird made her itch).
The party spent the night in town and returned the rat’s nest around noon on the next day. They approached the hilltop watchtowers carefully, and stopped well short of their visual range to prepare a plan. Amathar announced he would not be descending into such close quarters with them, but laid his hands upon Pyrcival’s small form and filled the gnome’s muscles with mystical stretch. Pyrcival felt almost young again… Barron stepped forward to set his new falcon upon the wererats presumably keeping watch from the towers. “Fly, Tony Falconi, fly!” he cried, and swept his arm vigorously into the air… a second later, the noble falcon gracefully faceplanted in the dirt. Hmm.
Deprived of their ranged attacks (as Leah was recovering from drinking after Barron’s head-enlargement incident, and Barron’s falcon, well, the less said the better), the party approached the area on foot. They spotted movement on top of one of the hills, and advanced quickly – but rather than engage, whoever had been there disappeared into the central valley leading to the cave entrance. Thic Duc climbed the hill and found evidence that the hilltop had been used as a watch point, likely by wererats. The party concluded they had been spotted, but decided to proceed…
A hidden rope allowed for an easy descent into the shallow valley. The cave entrance at one end had a crude, steep staircase build in, leading down into the earth. It was almost more of a burrow than a cave, but at the bottom of the stairs a relatively flat earthern floor awaited them. Passages led to the left and right, and a door blocked further progress forward. With Tiberium and Pyrcival in the lead, Tiberium asking his sword Purity to light the way, the party went down the stairs. Tiberium turned the door handle after glancing along both sides and finding them empty. Immediately, the floor beneath him fell away and he fell 20 feet down, landing hard on a packed earth floor covered with … rats? A moment later, Pyrcival – caught by surprise and with unstable footing directly behind him – fell into the pit as well.
Pyrcival and Tiberium struggled to their feet and tried to keep the rats from eating them alive, mostly with success. Above them, Barron managed not to fall into the pit with them, and carefully placed his falcon on the floor to one side of the pit before crossing the gap himself. Behind him, Thic Duc tossed a rope down into the pit and asked Warin to help him brace it so those in the pit could climb up.
As those below were reaching for the rope, there was a faint click, and a liquid begin to pour into the pit. It smelled like… oil. Pyrcival gritted his teeth and told his young charge to climb up first. Tiberium frantically pulled himself up to one side of the pit, while Thic Duc and Warin braced the rope, and Barron moved down the corridor a little ways to make room. Just as Tiberium was pulling himself up, there was another click, and the pit caught fire.. just as Pyrcival hauled himself out on the far side, more than a little scorched. Just as the party was preparing to breathe a sigh of relief, Barron felt a stabbing pain in his back, and turned around to see… a wererat with a bloody short sword grinning at him and preparing to stab again.
His head still ringing from the impact of a sling stone on the back of his head, Pyrcival pulled Barron out of harms way after the former thief threw a brace of daggers at the wererat. Seeing the impact, Tiberium spun around and charged the sling-wielding wererat. Both student and teacher made short work of their respective rats in straightforward combat.
The chambers to the left and right of the pit held male and female clothing, and what appeared to be a small nest area behind a secret door in each one. Tiberium did notice one small detail: the male side had a rather familiar gardener’s outfit, complete with tools. It was the same type of clothing worn by the gardeners at the Restenford keep, which Gunnar had seen rather closely, and the other party members had glimpsed at various times.
The party strung a rope from clothing hooks in each area over the central pit, to make it easier to cross, and set about trying to open the door. Turning the handle upwards rather than downwards would allow the door to be opened outwards, over the pit, and with the door open the party strung another rope and managed to cross into the corridor beyond. At the dimly visible far end, another door awaited them.
Slowly the group make their way across the pit. Pyrcival and Tiberium were leading the way, and reached the door at the far end of the corridor without incident. Warin was still on the far side of the pit, watching Thic Duc make his way across with the bugbear baby on his back, when suddenly a secret door in the wall next to Thic Duc opened up – and a wererat snatched the baby, disappearing behind the door again. Tiberium turned around, looking for the opening mechanism and not finding it; knowing the infant might have only seconds to live he prepared to smash the door with his warhammer. Barron, meanwhile, was at the front end of the party and felt a sudden breeze behind him. He ducked, and caught a glimpse of another wererat disappearing behind another secret door. Thinking quickly, he reached out and held it open while exchanging positions with Pyrcival. Warin, too far from the group to do anything else, prayed to his new diety to aid his friends in their battle.
The bugbear baby was having a merry old time flinging poo at the wererats while Thic Duc and Tiberium traded places repeatedly, seeking to confuse and disorient the wererats they were engaging. Unfortunately Thic Duc was also confused, disoriented, and worse, a little dizzy – he let go of his spear at the wrong moment, and it cut a bloody path along the bugbear baby’s ribs. The baby wailed briefly before succombing to blood loss.
While Barron held the secret door open, Pyrcival shield-rushed the wererat behind it. Pinned behind a shield held by a supernaturally strong gnome, the wererat quickly fell to Pyrcival’s blade.
Thic Duc and Tiberium together began taking their wererats more seriously, and made short work of them. The baby was bandaged, and slowly regained consciousness, if asking for food can be called consciousness. The chambers on both sides of the corridor were clearly guard posts, containing simple furniture and basic weapons. They were much cleaner than the nest areas. Barron collected several daggers, but nothing further of note was found there.
We left the party examining the locked door at the end of the corridor and considering their next move.
To be continued… Full Details of Dragon-head Staff
Dancing Lights: 2-5 dancing lights (as per spell) on command. 1 charge.
Light (shirak) on command, as per spell, 20' radius, 3 turns duration. 1 charge.
Sparks generates a small electrical discharge. (30' long, 2d10 damage with no save to those wearing metal, 2d8 to those who are not wearing metal and make a save) 1 charge.
Lightning Bolt generates a large electrical discharge (80' long, starts up to 80' away, 4d12 damage, those wearing metal take 3 points per die minimum even if they save). 2 charges.
Currently holds 11 charges. All command words work only when spoken in draconic.
While doing research on this topic, we learned that recharging a wand or staff requires someone who can cast a 5th level spell (Enchant An Item), along with the spells the item produces, and requires (4 hours + 1d4 hours per spell level) to place the spell into the item as a charge. Wands can only hold one spell in most cases. Staves can hold more than one.
For reference: 200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 1/5 pp Amathar: -200gp for identify components Warin: -1119gp for healing potion, restoration spell, provisional holy symbol, some weaponry, and a sense of moral righteousness Barron: 5gp for selling “cures” Pyrcival: -6gp for a silvered handaxe Treasure: 0 gp (0 gp each)
Base xp for showing up (total): 600xp 7 wererats: 791xp Roleplay Bonus for Warin (covering several sessions of buildup): 1000xp Roleplay Bonus for Tiberium (covering several sessions of buildup): 500xp Roleplay Bonus for Amathar (an unusual solution to an unusual problem): 500xp Roleplay Bonus for Thic Duc (spending a NWP on parenting): 500xp Roleplay Bonus for Pyrcival (keeping the baby away from Barron, sending Tiberium out of the flaming rat pit first): 500xp Consolation Prize for Barron (he didn't deserve the falcon he got... much): 250xp Total: 1391xp (232xp each)
Roleplaying moments and quotables
Amathar: "I have a wand up my butt right now!" (upon learning that recharging magical items requires extended periods of constant physical contact) Barron: "I dub thee... Tony Falconi." Barron: "Fly, Tony, fly! THUD"
Dangling Threads of Fate
Who was the strangely well-dressed gardener Gunnar spent time over roots and vegetables with? No one has checked recently to see if the Princess is still in her castle Malag has been left with the Adventure Capitalists for work on restoring his non-brain-eating condition How to invest your ill-gotten gains...