Session Report 1: An unprepared trip to the Sunken Bastille.
The Night Hunters, are as follows.
Edward Captor, A 5th level mage. His spell signature focuses on the scientific/mathematical themes. He has two henchmen, Valen (an explorer), and Alphonse (a fighter).
Brom the Explorer (5th Lv) and his faithful Warhound.
Nobo the Craftpriest (5th Lv)
Uncle the Cleric (5th Lv)
Drake Bierget The Reciter (5th Lv)
The Night Hunters have arrived at Nahor, midday, seeking work. They have a letter offering them a lead to adventure and treasure for those willing to take a risk. They are to meet their unnamed contact, outside of the servant’s entrance of the local lord’s estate at midnight. They have the day to explore town and make any arrangements they need to make. Having been traveling, the party decides to go the Green Dragon Inn and rest until it is time to meet their mysterious benefactor.
Their contact turns out to be the footman to the local lord. He introduces himself as Lucius Black. He explains that in his position he hears things. If the party will pay him 25gp for a lead, with an additional 25gp when it pays off, he is willing to offer them information that will lead them in the right direction. After some bargaining, he recognises that as this is the first time they’ve met, there is some greater risk for them than for himself, and he’s willing to defer his fees until his intelligence pays off for the party.
Having come to an arrangement, he informs that that he overheard a local merchant bemoaning the fate of a small caravan to a couple of bugbears. He lost both his men and their load. The local lord promised to investigate, but upon the merchant’s withdrawal, the lord was overheard discussing the matter with his captain of the guard. This is not the first sighting of the bugbears and it’s suspected that they are using an old dungeon in the area as a base of operations (the guard’s scout traced their tracks back to the dilapidated prison). Until now, only livestock had gone missing, so this is the first time that human life has been lost to the bugbears. The lord would like to clear them out, but the captain insists that there is a greater threat from sighting of “demons” in the area. Flying monsters have attacked some of the outlying hamlets and isolated farms by cover of night and carried both livestock and man away. As of yet, the lair of the monstrosities hasn’t been found and it’s beginning to have a negative impact on the monthly collection. Also, there are reports of a small orc warband wandering through the area and the captain would feel best if the bulk of the guard were kept near, to respond to the threat should it materialize.
The point is, the Lucius notes, is that the old dungeon has a small caravan’s worth of loot in it and only a couple of old bugbears to worry about. If the players can get anything from it, it will be an extra 50gp in the footman’s pocket and he has more leads where that came from.
The party agrees, and sets out early the next morning. However, the Nobo took violently ill and insisted they go on without him, promising to catch up as soon as possible (DM's note: The player being absent). The trip is uneventful, they pass a small lake and a number of homesteads and farms before reaching the woods. The trail leads them past a number of promising streams, but they stick to the dilapidated trail and reach the mouth of the old prison's entrance by the setting of the sun.
The old dungeon was built into the side of a hill. The gatehouse that once stood at the entrance is now merely a crumbling foundation. The passage is partially covered by grass, but is nonetheless a large, long hallway. It is twenty feet wide at the mouth opens into darkness culminating in a ten foot tall arched ceiling made of masonry. On examination it runs at a slightly steep downward angle. The party decides to set a watch for the night, not wishing to delve into that dark maw unrested and dubbed the dungeon, "The Sunken Bastille."
At this point, an alarming discovery was made. With the exception of the explorers, nobody had brought appropriate camping gear or waterskins (having stopped throughout their trek to drink from the local streams). Rations were in supply, and water sources being nearby they decided to continue as planned. The party slept beneath the large cart they had brought, as well as might be expected.
After the 2nd watch, Edward became aware of the sound of Orcish being whispered in the surrounding woods. He slowly crept from the fireplace and quietly awoke the others, translated the bits as best he could to the party as they assembled their arms and armor as quietly as possible. Being certain the combat was imminent, and being a fellow deeply committed to the excitement of his profession, Drake begin to recite words long practiced in order to encourage his fellows to great deeds in the face of danger. Before, his fellows could silence him the Orcish whispers faltered and stopped into a deathly silence. The party, illuminated by their campfire, strained their senses, but the darkness defied both their sense of sight and sound. Mustering up his courage, Edward called out a plain but bold orcish greeting. Presently, there was a rustle and an Orc champion stepped out from the darkness. He eyed the party suspiciously and demanded their identities. He seemed unimpressed as the mage introduced each of his comrades in turn. It looked grim, and Valen and Brom were sure they could hear orc bows being drawn in the surrounding woods, when Edward mentioned in an offhand and careless manner that they were here hunting Bugbears.
This seemed to give the Orc some pause. And snapping his fingers, another orc stepped from the woods carrying a small, cage in which slept a pidgeon. The champion said that they were always interested in useful slaves and that if any of the Bugbears were taken alive it would be made worth their effort. The cage was given to the party and they were told that if released it would soon find its way to them with whatever message they care to attach. With no further ado, the Orcs lumbered off into the darkness.
The dungeon dive commenced the following morning. The party discovered that the opening hallway went so deeply into the dungeon that they had to rest before reaching its terminus. After some exploring they found that the two rooms to either sider contained two, two storied tower apiece and corresponding portcullis in several spots. A second gate house. Murder holes and arrow slits looked down upon them menacingly, but no threat emerged. They proceeded to carefully delve further into the dungeon and were soon surprised to find the soft glow of daylight. A series of hallways had led them a large cellblock of several stories. The stairways had long since been filled with wreckage and stone and wood littered the courtyard. Not least of all was the remnants of what appeared to be a crane. Upon which a robed body lay motionless. Some hundred feet above them, the dungeon opened up the good, clear sky above.
Brom soon hooked the body with a grappling hook and had reeled in the corpse for further examination. A silver holy symbol still hangs from the neck, though the body has been torn by deep claws in several places. The PCs identify it as belong to the faith of man and before more can be decided they are alarmed by the flapping of wings as a lone gargoyle lands upon the wreckage in the center of the room. She is amused as the Drake tries to charm her with his music and tells them that she killed the priest before discovering his vocation. Not wanting to anger the God of men, she discarded the kill. Upon learning of their quest, she points them in the general direction of the Bubbears. She finds their presence annoying and doesn’t care if they should be slain by the adventurers. She disappears into one of the cells on the third level, dismissing them as only so much unwanted food.
Having been pointed in the right direction, the party soons discovers a chapel in the hallway indicated by the gargoyle. Unlike the rest of the dungeon the chapel is unmolested by monster or time. A small baptismal fount runs clearly as if by magic and a VERY LARGE Holy Symbol of the God of men is on the wall (approx. 1,000gp worth of Silver). The players search the room, finding a small key on the floor beside the fount, but return to the hall also leaving the room as those before them seem to have done.
Their noisy exploration of the hallway attracts the attention of some fire beetles, easily slain. But as Edward has a formula that calls for fire beetle sacs, he and his explorer take the time to harvest the glowing organs from the large insects. This attracts the attention of a gang of gnolls, combat is brutal and brief. The Gnoll champion fleeing, upon being blinded by a light spell. He runs blinding in the direction of the gargoyles nest and the sounds of a kill followed by feeding echo in the dungeon hallways.
A door is broken open, by Uncle, showing an exposed pit trap and stairs to a lower level, but after some debate the party decides to leave well enough alone and continue their search for the bugbears. They try the door next to the chapel, only to find that it has been staked shut from the inside. Uncle, whose talent for breaking open doors has become noticed at this point goes to work (tis like his fourth door).
Just as he clears a hole in the door big enough for a body to step through, three spears fly out of the darkness and… EVERY SINGLE ONE MISSES (DM’s NOTE: sometimes I hate my luck). With what looked like a lengthy battle in front of us, we called a break for the night.