Search & rescue & destroy: Telengard Session 15

Some random things after last night’s game:

  • I need to establish prices for spells. It’s one of those things I assumed was spelled out somewhere conveniently but I couldn’t find anything in the B/X books or DMG. (The DMG suggests trades may be possible but I’d rather have a simple formula for “standard” spells, at least at lower levels.) My on the fly ruling was: spell level squared x 100 GP. So first level spells are very cheap at 100 GP, 2nd level are 400, 3rd 900, 4th 1600, etc. That seems reasonable for now.
  • My youngest player was born the year I graduated high school. I’m officially old.
  • One of my players got a new job (he needed it, so good for him!) but it means 9 months of second shift. So long Adam! I wonder if the Telengard campaign will still be around in 9 months. I feel like I could keep going indefinitely, especially after last night’s game where almost everything that happened was a follow-up or result of previous events in the campaign. I think I’ve hit the “Sweet spot” where what the players have done is setting events in motion without much intervention on my part!

Anyway the session was a lot of fun to run. When we’d left our heroes, they were camping outside the dead cave/beast, near what looked like a deflated hot air balloon. They did not have much lantern oil, so filling the tank and trying it out was not an option. Instead they carried it down the mountainside, and followed a stream back to civilization. It turned out they only a few miles from Skara Brae and were able make it back in one day. Back in town they hooked up again with Swinlow, who had been remodeling the house they bought earlier. (His player missed last session.) The party then checked to see if their lantern bearers, who seemed to have disappeared while the party was in the Belly of the Beast, had returned to the Hireling’s Guild. Nope. The Hireling’s Guild noted that the party had left them in the dungeon and was not pleased. So the party decided to go back for them. But first they saw, for the first time in a long time, another adventuring party, ten strong counting minions and a pack ape, and led by a one-footed dwarf. The two players who have been in the game from the start (the third was absent tonight) eventually recognized him as the dwarf from the Ancient Mine that Swinlow had tortured… Swinlow remained invisible and Grumble tried to smooth things over with the dwarf but he remained rather resentful. He’d replaced his missing foot with a stone, and took the name “Stonefoot.” His band was returning to town having looted the Orc-face Cave which the PCs had mostly cleared two sessions ago — the party was badly mauled and left without fully exploring it, but they’d actually killed most of the denizens. They were probably right to turn back since the party didn’t know what else was there, although a great deal of treasure was in the cave (the hoards of three ogres & an ogre mage!).

I’m kind of glad that the hard choice last time — finish looting the orc-face cave or try to foil the drow elves’ plot — was made more meaningful by these events. In fact I’d been wanting to do several things and this little non-combat encounter accomplished them all.

  • I was aware that I’d warned the party about rival adventurers (who never actually turned up in play);
  • I wanted the one-footed dwarf to return as a nemesis somehow;
  • and I wanted to increase the role-playing quota.

I had earlier planned to make Stonefoot a demented, rebel dwarf leading a band of monsters or humanoids, but as a rival adventurer I think the more subtle and nonlethal conflict will add some depth to the campaign. Assuming the PCs don’t decide to eliminate the competition preemptively. Golgoroth, the berserker married to Matrim the fighter’s lover, was naturally one of Stonefoot’s band too. And Sparky the elf overheard Stonefoot whisper to his thief  “Watch these guys, see where they live,” which I hope will add some tension. 🙂

The players were especially interested in the pack ape that Stonefoot employed, and resolved to hire one after rescuing Stabby John and Schnozzi. Sparky the elf also paid to learn Continual Light (as a 3rd level elf he can finally cast it), and he then cast in on some pendants for all of the PCs, as well as on a dozen arrows. In hindsight I need to track time more carefully — getting the pendants made, learning the spell, and all that ritual casting should have taken up a lot of time, and meanwhile the lantern bearers were still MIA!

Anyway the party then set out to the dungeon to rescue their hirelings, and on the second level found a ceremony underway.  Swinlow, invisible as usual, reconnoitered and saw both hirelings alive and bound, and a dozen drow elves, some of them performing a ceremony.  They did not notice him and he reported back to the party, who held lengthy discussions of their strategy and ritually cast a protection from evil spell.   Although they’d worked out a good tactical plan, the time spent discussing it and casting preparatory spells allowed the drow  ritual to near completion.  Worse yet, some of the drow heard the party’s spell casting and began investigating, so they actually took the party by surprise!

There was a fairly long melee, and by the time the party fought their way into the room where the ritual was underway, the drow had summoned a malebranche devil.  He was slightly reduced in power, as the drow priestesses were distracted by the combat, but  his fearsome aura and immunity to nonmagical weapons made him a serious threat.  One of the drow had a wand of web spells, which further hindered the party and made the devil’s wall of fire very effective, as half the party was stuck in the webs and could not avoid the flames.  Sparky the elf was severely burned, in fact mortally wounded, but Zorro the cleric managed to save him with a curative spell after the battle.  It was a hard-won battle, but the party pulled through and rescued their hirelings.  With the last of the drow on level two dead, the plot was finally foiled, and Raise Dead will presumably resume its normal functioning.

Back in town, the party released their hirelings and took on Mr. Growly, a pack ape. (HD 3, AC 15, d6/d6 with hands or d8 bite, Mv 120, climb as a thief (5 in 6), Save as F1, intelligence low, understands sign language & a few simple commands in Common, may go apeshit if provoked or frightened, carries up to 4000 coin weight).

The party decided to finish exploring level two of Telengard, and found Stonefoot’s band on their way to explore the same place. Swinlow used his Ring of Animal Control to make Stonefoot’s ape go on a rampage, and Stonefoot was  forced to slay it to save himself.  This caused the NPC party to turn back for a new packbearer, and allowed the PCs to go unmolested into the dungeon once more.

They found a pair of giant snakes, which Swinlow dealt with, with the ring of animal control, and another throne room.  The party all tried out the throne, which is always fun, and we ended the session with the second level almost completely cleared.

Unfortunately Sparky’s player will be out for the next nine months, and Bob has not been able to return, so I may be putting up another flier.  If I do, I think I’ll just try the FLGS which I had skipped last time.

Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 10:18 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good stuff, love the pack ape and the fact that it may be more trouble for a party than good.

    • Thanks!
      The Hireling’s Guild rep told the party, after they’d hired the ape, to “be careful” and explained, when asked what he meant by that, that they need to be sure not to make eye contact with him, as that is considered threatening behavior. Also, when Swinlow controlled the rival party’s pack ape, the minions yelled “He’s going apeshit again!”

      I love the idea of trading the problems you have with a mule (stubborn, can’t go up ropes, ladders, or certain stairs, etc.) for the problems you get with an ape! Can’t wait for Mr. Growly to fling poo when a PC mistreats him. One PC even went so far as to pay top dollar for a few pounds of bananas to keep the ape happy. This is a comedy goldmine!

  2. Something I’ve been meaning to ask for a while: how do you as a DM handle absences? Skipping sessions, unable to play for a set amount of time, just found out the player can’t continue, etc. I’m running into problems starting my own campaign where the interested players can’t meet at the same time; at least two of the players have work schedules that can’t be mapped out ahead of time (thanks retail!) and the fixed-schedule ones work odd hours.

    I’ve been asking various DMs at the FLGS what they do, and I’m curious to hear what you do. PM if you wish.

    • Our group always has this trouble. What we did was get 6 players. In all 15 sessions all 6 have only been present once or twice.

    • That sounds like a good post topic.

  3. I am starting to see a trend in these summaries. There is little of no talk about how tough Grumble is. Nor is there any acknowledgment that he has (In my view) been the single reason that the party has pulled through these terribly tough (some would say unbalanced) encounters. Please remedy this next time with at least one statement like “Grumble saved the party once again” or “Grumble reluctantly stopped killing orcs in order to drag his dead companions back to town to be raised” or “After killing half the minions and the boss the rest of the lay-a-bout adventures joined in to steal a few kills and treasure from Grumble ”

    • Well, I guess I thought it went without saying 🙂

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