Monday, May 24, 2010

Enter the J- Squad

About once a month I been heading up to Gold Star Anime in Edinboro play some Swords & Wizardry plus the Majestic Wilderlands. Last month's games is found in Part 1 and Part 2. When we last left the players were organizing the defense of the villagers while harvesting. Two new players jointed us. Jay who played a 3rd level dwarven rune-caster and another Josh who played a elven burglar. In addition to new Josh and Jay there was old Josh who played a human thug, big Jerry who played an elven cleric of Silvanous, and his son little Jerry who played a halfling fighter. John who played the mage Alagazar from the last session couldn't make it this time.

We all sat down and started to play. After a couple minutes we realized that that every player name started with J. Big Jerry and Jay were on my left, new Josh sat at the end of the table, Little Jerry and old Josh sat on my right. Josh "To my right" promptly named the group the J-Squad. Writing this post I realized that the last session was also a J-Squad as well. This is getting a bit weird. Next I suppose I will having playing a Jordan, Jane, Jennifer, Joshua, etc, etc.

Onto the session itself.

It started with new Josh, playing a elven burglar, and Jay a dwarven runecaster sitting down at the Greenhaven Inn in Denison's Crossing. The messenger from Kensla burst proclaiming that the village need help desperately. New Josh agreed to go after after being made aware that the Baron of Westtower would probably give a reward. Jay tagged along. Along the way they came across the remnant of the site where the tinker was attacked. The body and cart were long gone but the blood, debris, and tracks still remained. New Josh and Jay attempted to follow the tracks but go lost and wound up near Kensla, shrugging their shoulders they went into the village where they met the rest of the party.

There old Josh, a human thug, was working with the Village Reeve Tomas on how to defend the villager while the harvest was going on. The next day the harvest began. It was quiet for most of the day until it got near sundown when the wolves launched a mass attack on the party. The fighting was a huge mess and while everybody fought valiantly several members were injured grievously. Towards the end old Josh fell unconscious but luckily the fight was almost won at that point so Josh survived. Both the fight and being first aided.

The party straggled in the village and healed what they could. Elder Anselm, a priest of Mitra, also applied some healing spells. They faced the next day with dread but there were no wolf attacks. The 2nd night, Big Jerry cleric decided to mediate and commune with her god Silvanus.

Silvanus sent Big Jerry's cleric a vision of what happened. A young women wearing Thothian Robes was performing a demonic ritual at the site where they found the wolf den. The ritual apparently failed only later in the vision, after the women left, the cleric saw a wisp of smoke appear and enter the den underneath the rock.

The players then decided to head off to the Golden House a conclave of Thothian Mages several miles to the northeast of the village of Kensla. They spent another day guarding the village. During which they saw several wolves watching them from a distance. Neither side attacked. The next day they got Yoluf the trapper and had him guide them to the Golden House. Along the way they saw more wolves watching and old Josh Thug decided to attack it. However the wolf was bait for an ambush. The Thug got away and a timely sleep spells by the Dwarven Rune-caster felled five wolves.

Big Jerry's Cleric casted Speak with Animals. They found out that they considered the demon wolf the Master and there were several wolves that acted as lieutenants. One of the wolves was very defiant and the Cleric made an example of him causing the remaining four to consider the Cleric as their pack leaders. The players did a good job roleplaying this and wound up with four wolves to augment their numbers.

They went to the Golden House where they met the resident Thothian masters. Some were cooperative and other were hostile. Especially after it was revealed that the source of their information was a vision by the Cleric. However their Baronial Writ and the Satchel they found in the last session kept the conversation going. During all thisone the mages excused himself. Saying that he had some lab experiment he had to tend too. Unknown to the party he recognized the satchel and the description being one of his apprentices. He went to search his quarters and see what happened.

Jay's Dwarven Rune-caster happened to look out a window and saw the female apprentice from the cleric's vision riding away on a horse. After this the remaining mages became cooperative and went off to find the one that left. They found him in his room frantically searching. It turned out he kept a book on demon summoning that he found during his journeymen years. It was useful to his party in gaining a treasure in the dungeon and he swears that he never actually summoned or dealt with demons. From the description of Big Jerry's Cleric it appeared that the culprit was his apprentice Arbella.

The party borrowed some horses from the Golden House and pursued the wayward apprenticed. When they crested the ridge they saw that she was in the midst of another ritual and there were many wolves surrounding her. They debated their plan of attack for some time until the ritual reached some important point a circle of fire briefly erupted. Apparently something wasn't finished as it continued but it was enough to spur the party into action.

They thundered down the ridge in their horses and charged the leaders of the pack. In a single pass by the party they slaughter both wolf lieutenants causing many of the wolves to flee. Unfortunately Big Jerry's cleric rolled a 1 while shooting her Heavy Crossbow. The high powered weapon not only broke but the recoil caused the elven cleric to fall to the ground prone.

The four wolves under the cleric's command ran through and engaged the wolves as the party wheeled around and charged again. This time focusing on Arbella. She went down quickly and was catapulted off the summoning rock and laid still at the base of the 5 foot cliff that it was on top of off.

Then the Demon Wolf appeared and attacked Little Jerry's halfling. Some of the remaining wolves engaged members of the party leaving only the new Josh's Elven Burglar and old Josh's Thug to help the halfling in the fight. After several charges the demon wolf fell.

After cleaning up the remaining wolves the party rejoiced but then they saw the spirit of the demon rise from the wolf and possess the body of Arbella. A disqusting tentacled creature burst from her split skin and immediately went after the Dwarven Rune-caster who was nearest. However the party reacted immediately and the reborn demon fell under the onslaught.

With the demon finally dead the party returned to the Golden House to return the horse and explain what happened. Deeply embarrassed the Golden House bribed the party's silence by giving some choice magic items.

Then the party returned to the village and there was much rejoicing over the death of the demon wolf. However the party realized the Yoluf witnessed the going on at the Golden House. To get his silence they had to pay a hefty price of 1,000 silver pennies. Yoluf country bumpkin act turned out to overlay a pretty astute mind.

Then the party returned to the Baron of Westtower where they each received the promised reward of 5 gold crowns. They retired to the local tavern to plot their next adventure.

Some comments

Big Jerry Cleric of Silvanus was critical for moving the adventure to it's conclusion. His timely meditation request gave me the opening to feed the party critical information on their enemy. I need to look at my cleric and see if there are little tweaks to make them more flavorful and more in-tune with their deities believe. The idea of meditating with Silvanus who has dreams as part of his aspects fits the god well.

Jay's Dwarven Rune-caster was a bit of challenge as he was the first player to pick on the ritual based magic users. With those classes the resource management is not in your spell book or spells per day but how much silver (or gold) you are willing to invest into your spell casting. I need to be careful with the cost so that it reflect the relative power of those types of magic-users. Jay seemed to like the class and it didn't seem overpowering.

new Josh Elven Burglar is an interesting combination. What would drive one of the glorious race into petty thievery? They are immortal, enjoy nearly perfect health, really don't want for anything in their homelands. Boredom perhaps? It will interesting to explore this in future sessions.

little Jerry's Halfling was quiet and sometime seems to be dominated by the older gamers. But the halfling was a bastion for the party proved crucial in the majority of the fights. Without him I doubt the party would have survived. A little annoyed at his small stature as he couldn't use a broadsword except two handed. However one of his reward was a broadsword of lightness which allows him to wield it one-handed. Plus he crafted 12 arrow heads out of the bones the demon wolf. May prove useful one day.

old Josh's Thug was interesting classwise and character wise. While not as good as little Jerry's halfling fighter he was definitely one of the party's main fighters. His abilities came useful whenever the party had to deal with other people whether it was sweet talking, lying, negotiations, or just outright intimidation. I liked watching how he played the character and felt it really achieve my objective of having classes that were good at thing other than fighting or spell casting.

This session also helped me with the design of the adventure as I was struggling to figure how to reward the party other than a grateful Baron gives them X. The deal with the mage's buying the party silence will be woven into the adventure and be one of the best ways for the party get get material (or rather magical) rewards.

So now I got to come up with a new adventure for the J-Squad in June. Looking forward to seeing how they deal with that.

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