We had fewer players at Goodgames Ballarat this week, but it was still a healthy number with 17 players turning up. Tables were DM+5, DM+5, DM+4, and with the shop quieter as well, the games went by pretty smoothly. My own table was lacking Harry, but Lily, Danielle, Josh, Sondra and Tait were all present.
I finally organised myself well enough to bring in miniatures and dungeon tiles this week, and was all ready for the big battle against Shalendra, a poor elven woman who had been possessed by a devil. I was also prepared for doing quite a bit of role-playing when the group realised that she was possessed and tried to save her.
You’d think I’d know better.
In any case, I set up the miniatures and terrain tiles (some of Dwarven Forge’s tiles from their last kickstarter) and we began with the group exploring the chamber they’d defeated the undead in. It was well appointed, with a blood-smeared statue of Corellon Larethian, the elven god, prominent, but the group were only interested in loot. The main treasure they found – a jewelled dagger – was snaffled by Tait as Josh concentrated on the non-existent pockets on the undead.
One final corridor and room awaited – and they were confronted by the angry Shalendra, who attacked them after they refused to leave.
One of the troubles that faces this party is that no-one actually wants to be a melee fighter. They’re all the “hang back” type, which gives them a bit of a problem when there’s no-one to hide behind. In theory, Josh (bard of valor) and Sondra (ranger) should be in the front rank, but they’re reluctant. Even who was opening the door gave them pause – eventually, Josh was nominated and didn’t dodge quick enough. And so started the battle against Shalendra…
Josh is facing Shalendra at the bottom of the picture – Shalendra is in red. Lily’s wizard is standing in the middle of the room, and Sondra, Tait and Danielle are sniping from back in the corridor. The battle also involved an imp and a fire grue, but the imp died very quickly to a very good bow-shot. The grue was more trouble – Lily was being chased by it until she was able to drive it back with a Thunderwave spell.
(You can also see that I need to do more painting of the dungeon tiles… life tends to get busy and I ignore them for a while).
When Shalendra was badly hurt, she began begging for mercy. Her personality changed, and she claimed to have been possessed. I began to move into roleplaying mode; however, Danielle showed no mercy, shooting an arrow through her eye and killing her instantly. Well, there went that bit of plot development! Shalendra’s body erupted into fire and burnt to ash, as had the body of the hobgoblin shaman back in Julkoun.
Papers covering the floor of the room proved to be Shalendra’s journal, in which she recorded her quest to reopen the portals of the manor; a quest that had led her to seek help from the Red Wizards of Thay in their stronghold – Bloodgate Keep. No clue as to the location of the Keep could be found, however.
With no further enemies to fight, the group began to plan: what would they do with their newly-acquired manor. Yeah, they’re D&D players.
Eventually, after a few days rest, they returned to Daggerford. It’s worth pointing out at this point, that only Tait’s character has actually been in the town – every other player started after the first session. I actually gave Lily and Sondra my tablet so they could read what happened in the first session! The sight of the refugees still surrounding the town did not exactly inspire pity – instead, they began to plan to get cheap labour for the new manor. The guards told them Sir Isteval was back, and they soon found themselves invited to dinner at his house.
Sir Isteval was appreciative of their efforts for the region, and told them of his explorations, which had pinpointed Phylund Lodge, an abandoned noble hunting villa, as the staging ground for the gnoll raids on the Trade Way. The group really wanted to know where the villagers from Julkoun had been taken, and Sir Isteval promised to organise trackers to find out where they went. The group headed off towards the Lodge in the meantime, hoping to free the villagers once they dealt with the gnolls.
As the group approached the Lodge, they could see ruined walls surrounding the villa, but the main building appeared to be still standing. Most of them also spotted the gnolls who were trying to ambush them. Combat was soon joined, with both sides mostly staying back and sniping at the other side. Josh and Lily slowly made their way up towards the gnolls. I’d neglected to bring in my wilderness dungeon tiles or a battlegrid, so we improvised:
Once the gnolls were slain, the group were ready to explore the lodge, but, alas, we’d run out of time. The battle against Shalendra had actually run quite long, as had their return to Daggerford, so it was time to pause the adventure for another week.