Of Beasts and Men: Actual Play

The party starts in the bustling city of Neesa, where the Paladin Gideon of the Order of the Unbroken Shield and the Thief Jamie are sitting in a tavern, having met on the road earlier. They decide to hire an expert tracker, which comes in the form of Elven Ranger Adanir. They are also joined by the Imperial Mage Quintus and his valet Willibee, who have recently stumbled into town after narrowly surviving a shipwreck and desperately desire to head east, away from the sea.

Jamie attempts to pickpocket one of the inngoers, and is caught. The angry man demands to know what is going on. Jamie asks whether he prefers the truth or a lie, adding “One has dragons!” and the man gives him a chance to tell a story to save his teeth. Jamie chooses to bolt. Later, he feels remorse, and sneaks into the inn to reverse pickpocket a pair of silver into the man’s pocket.

Gideon has a letter to deliver in his last surviving relative who lives in one of the outlying eastern villages. The party also hears rumors that Baron Ulfang of the nearby town of Karsava is having difficulties holding an iron mine he purchased from the dwarves. The party sets out and I begin rolling random encounters- As they leave the city, they pass by an NPC party of adventurers, lead by the very professional assassin Mr. Fulswerth. They exchange pleasantries.

They reach the town of Valka and scrape together their last gold coins to purchase essential supplies they forgot (Party planned for rations, did not know about the need for water and waterskins.) Gideon visits the local chapel and finds that Grandfather’s Tomb, a popular burial site, has become tainted. The Wise One running the temple asks him to deliver a large and expensive bear pelt to the shrine there, thus adding enough potency to restore the consecration of the site.

The party continues onward to Karsava, where they meet with the Baron and confirm that he still needs the mine taken care of, but they choose to head south to deal with the tomb first. En route, they wander into a nest of pit vipers. Willobee, Quintus and Gideon are bitten- Willobee collapses and begins convulsing, Quintus makes his save, and Gideon doesn’t have to make a save because paladins ignore poison. After a few more rounds of combat, Jamie and Gideon manage to bring the smallest Viper down, and a lucky morale roll leads the vipers to scurry away. Upon closer inspection, Willobee is merely a red smear and some bone shards (What the heck, mortal wounds table!), which Quintus mourns, and vows to get him a worthy burial at the tomb which they happen to be at anyway.

After a skirmish with a dozen skeletons, the party places the bear pelt on the shrine and restores order to the tomb (at least until the size of the tomb exceeds the value of the shrine again). Gideon fasts, prays, and spends the night with the shrine, hoping to commune with the guardian spirit of the tomb and ask its permission to inter Willobee in the tomb. He gets permission to inter Willobee, and also to take any of the gold or jewels in the tomb, as the spirit informs him that the dead have no need of trinkets. The party gains about 3300 gold thusly (The dice were very generous when creating the tomb!)

They do so and return to Karsava, whereupon Jamie’s henchman Jeeves becomes a 1st level fighter. They purchase two heavy draft horses to pull a large cart, and hire four mercenaries to guard the cart, at considerable bonuses. Gideon buys a pair of war dogs, while Quintus hires two new henchmen. They head north to the contested mine. Along the way they find the lair of three Gorgons, and run away from them very fast.

They reach the lair of the kobolds. Quintus’s familiar, Pompous the Toad, speaks kobold, so Pompous tells Quintus who tells Gideon what the kobolds are saying, and diplomacy is attempted in this manner. Unfortunately, Gideon attempts to appeal to their sense of reason instead of simply intimidating them, and so is unsuccessful, and ultimately combat nearly breaks out, with the kobolds scurrying into their hole again. The party pursues slowly, searching for traps, but despite their caution, Jamie is struck by an arrow trap which rolls extremely well for damage, followed by an extremely poor mortal wounds roll, and is thus killed instantly. (which somehow produces the “What a bad way to go” result, which is one BELOW mangled bones and broken flesh.)

The party immediately retreats to Karsava, where they pay to have him resurrected. Jamie returns to the world of the living with the left arm of a werebear, and the DM rejoiced, because he never thought he’d see the animal limb result on the restore life and limb chart, and here it is on the very first roll. Jamie will take 22 days to recover, however, so Jamie’s player begins looking at secondary characters.

So this is one of the Players from the Game (Quintus and soon Artos). I’m writing up all of this from memory so some of the details are going to be a little foggy. After we resurrected Jaime he needed weeks of bed rest so Janus Colt joined our party, a level one cleric worshiping the wolf god and wielding a lance.

We immediately set off for the mine to finish our dungeon crawl. Unfortunately when we got there we found it all the kobolds already dead. The only clue to this was one dead person in a trap room we’d managed to avoid. We did find a secret door and a decent amount of loot. After this we decided to head back to town and on the way had minimal encounters.

Back in town we heard tales from the locals that there was an adventuring party furious that they’d cleared out a dungeon but found no loot. Apparently we had almost accidentally gotten the majority of the loot from the dungeon and booked it out of there. NOTE: The GM is running two parties in this world and I think the other party also decided to head to this cave but got there after us :).

After this we decided to detour to the mountain of the gods, a fortress monastery and extremely holy place for the Kingdoms gods. Jaimie hears of a high cleric of the bear and jumps over a river of mercury to meet with him. The high bear told him that his problem was an infection of his soul and the only way to fix it was to appeal to the bear for help and live his principles in his life. Jaimie swore to do this and we all went off to Durbe to try and deliver Gideon’s letter.

On our way there a panther appeared and we set up battle lines with me the wizard in the back. As we were handling the first panther another panther appeared out of nowhere and in a single flurry of claws killed me and my new henchman. The mortality rolls were not as kind this time and I actually died. We decided to just continue to the monastery and rez me there.

My secondary character Artos the Mystic and his three initiates appear out of the woods and deign to help this sorry excuse of a party. (Artos is kind of a dick). We make it to the monastery after a few nail-biting random encounters (HOW DOES A GORGON LIVE THAT CLOSE TO CIVILIZATION) Upon arrival Quintus is raised and now has a long flowing mane of hair that refuses to stop growing.

We made our way to Durbe mostly by running away from random encounters. When we got there Gideon delivered his letter to his uncle and found out its contents. Gideon was actually an imperial citizen, upon hearing this Quintus rejoiced and remarked to Gideon that “I always knew you were better than one of these savages.”

After Durbe we had no real pressing quest so decided to head back east. On our way we found a random encounter that was truly epic. A band of troglodytes, forty-seven strong, appears hauling wagon-loads of loot, and dragging corpses. They don’t see us so we decide to ambush them. We cover a huge section of the road with oil and waited on the other side with our wagon. We make it look like we were repairing a wagon wheel so as to look like a truly tempting target. When the troggs saw us we insult them for good measure and they form up and charged us.

When they got a rank or two past the oil Adanir threw a military grenade into the oil spill lighting up roughly half the troggs. Of those lit up about half die right away and the others mostly get shocked. Unfortunately they make their reaction roll and the fight continues. Gideon and a bunch of henchmen/mercenaries hold the line up front. The real damage dealers being Gideon and his two war dogs: Mercy and Less Mercy.

After a long drawn out fight almost all the trogs are dead but all of our mercenaries are dead along with one of our war dogs. Gideon is almost out of hp and theres still around 10 or so troggs left along with a bandit leader. Than DISASTER Gideon is hit right in the face and falls uncpnciois. At this point quintus makes a desperate gesture and casts choking grip on the trog leader forcing a reaction roll from the trogs who FINALLY fail and surrender. The loot we get from this Levels basically everybody except for Quintus who is so close we do some mercantile adventures at home to finish the level.

We also decide to always carry as much oil as possible with us forever. We also find a fancy magic sword +2, that Gideon takes. After this big score our elf Adanir decides that he’s not gonna push his luck and (temporarily) retired. A fancy new Dwarf Machinist named Torque decides to hire our party to delve a labyrinth looking for automaton patterns.

On our way there the sky suddenly darkens and we look up to see our worst fear a dragon swooping in to eat us. However suddenly I learn draconoc and attempt to parley with the creature. The dragon is amused that a “mouse” as he calls me can speak in his tongue. He agrees to let us go after I gracioisly offer him 2 of our horses to snack on. He actually takes a bit of a liking to us and adds friend of mice to his long list of titles.

After that we comtinue on and rest in a cave. Howev wer that night we get ambushed by a whole pack of wild apes. The battle swings wildly but we’re holding our own and no pcs were dying. Unfortunately the battle happened at night while Gideon was sleeping so he is fighting without his armour. It comes down to one ape left but Gideon is holding the line alone and almost out of hp.

Quintus has seen that these apes have two attacks and if both hit Gideon hes almost certainly going to die. He’s out of spells but has an idea that might just save him. Maybe if he provides another target the ape will split his attacks.

So he charges the ape with his club and HITS, doing about 1 damage. The stupid ape falls for it however swinging at the mage first and then moving on to the Paladin wounding but not killing him. The ape falls the round later under the combined arms of the party.

Gideon is so touched by Quintus’ bravery he swears that he will always protect the mage. The party rests for a bit and then heads to the labyrinth. Upon entering we immediately come upon a whole pile of corpses. We decide to burn them but as soon as we touch one CORPSE WORMS (I don’t remember the actual name) jump out and attack us.

Theres about 13 of them and while we mow them down quickly some of them jump on the dwarf and burrow under his skin. We know that the only way to stop them from going deeper we have to burn them out so we apply torches liberally to the dwarfs mangled body killing the worms but dropping him to negatives.

We heal him up though and he comes out with just a few broken teeth. After this we head outside and camp for a little bit until Torque is back up to full hp. Then we attack the dungeon again finding several obvious trap rooms with weird mosaics. We avoid these and most of the wandering combats until we come upon a crazed person wielding an obsidian knife. We break his knife and capture him.

He is obviously the one who killed all the people in the front room. We figure out from some of his crazed ramblings the solution to the mosaics and figuring out how to go up a floor and to descend deeper into the dungeon. We go up and find a simple living quarters but no treasure. We then go down and find a GIANT BOULDER TRAP, which bowls over Quintus.

On that floor we find an insane maze where each room we go into seems to be randomly connected to each other. Each room has a torch that either burns green, purple, black, or white. Each is either empty or has some random threat. Black lights the whole room on fire, Purple has a random number of ghouls, green has a poison trap, and white has the walls slowly close on us.

Once we figure this out we quickly test each room to see if it has a danger and if it does close the door and move onto another one bypassing most of the traps except for the very first few. In this way we somehow find our way down one more level. Several times we think we’ve figured out the pattern but honestly we just stumble our way down there. On this level we find a huge arcane device that has people in glass tubes screaming.

After fiddling around the room for a bit to see if there’s any obvious traps we break the people out and return them and the hogtied murderer to their home village. (We figured the murderer should be tried since he was clearly crazy and we felt bad about executing him out of hand.) The dungeon was full of references to an ancient evil eye, something we thought was recalling the ancient necromancer who had destroyed almost all of civilization thousands of years ago.

Also Gideon’s entire village was destroyed by some Giant eye monster thing. After the dungeon my familiar (Pompous the frog) wakes up screaming about the eye. This is doubly disturbing since he has soothsaying as a profession. Shaking off the premonition we decide to head back to Neesa to track down the information broker who told Torque of this place since he had referred to it as an ancient dwarven forge and it was clearly nothing of the sort.

We decide to wipe out a bandit presence we had heard about a little bit to the south of us first however. On our way there we get ambushed by, surprise surprise, bandits. They have a large force of both horseman and archers. The horse charge into us just as we get our spears out to defend ourselves. A few henchmen fall under the attack but we stand strong, with Gideon taking a full lance charge to the face and surviving. I step out from cover to try and cast choking grip on one of the leaders and am riddled with arrows for my trouble, knocking me down. We corner the leader and he surrenders after one hit from Gideon. After the battle all of the henchman wake up but Quintus whispers his final words “I should have learned sleep” and slips into the afterlife. We capture a few of the bandits and their leader. Everyone packs up the corpse and all the loot and heads off to find a cleric.

First we visit a dwarf fortress but there are no clerics there. While there the party convinces the bandits to tell them where their lair/leader is and to give up their life of crime. We tell them they’re all dead and now they must begin their new lives. They seem to take to this and we agree to release them if they help defend us as we head to the next city, Bauska.

There we find a cleric able to heal me. We add up all my modifiers and roll BOOM NATURAL ONE and then a 4 on the other roll. I briefly glimpse my god and he holds me back from getting back to the mortal coil. Gideon says no we won’t let this stand and trys again tomorrow. This time we add my modifiers and roll BOOM A THREE which has the same result after additional negatives. This time with a 1 as the follow up roll. Quintus’ god tells him no man don’t even try going back it won’t work but he doesn’t listen and is left wandering forever in darkness (no more attempts allowed.) And thats where we ended the last session. Tune in next time for THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF ARTOS.