Participants: Paul (Myles), Stan (Ash), Damien (Darius), Matt (Barundar) missing Cameron (Amon)
When we last left the party, they had just acquired a new member – the actual Darius McFoggle, Myles had confronted a former rival and current captain of the guard of Otemshire, Cletus, and the party witnessed a seemingly peaceful gnoll being placed in a cage.
The group continues on to Otemshire, reaching the gates as the sun begins to dip below the horizon. As they pass through the gates, Myles and Barundar both notice that the guards present are totally new faces, and both agree that they appear to be very, “green”.
The party splits up, Myles heading to his house to see his family, Barundar heading to the stables with the horses, Ash heads to the inn to find boarding for the evening and Darius wanders the market “to do some things….” He flips 10gp to Ash and asks that he “take care of rooms for me and my boys” before thanklessly walking off into the twilight.
Ash finds the inn to be bustling with activity. Artisans, sailors, soldiers and hunters mingle in a large mass as songs are sung and people party the night away. After arranging for rooms, Ash overhears a couple of guards discussing the upcoming raid that Cletus is arranging. The two curse Cletus’ hubris and his “hair brained” scheme to raid the Badlands and try to solve the problem of the growing storm. Ash approaches and offers the party’s services but the guards clam up and say that he will have to discuss the idea with Cletus, rolling their eyes in the process.
Just as they finish their conversation, Cletus arrives in the bar and acts like a local celebrity as he makes a big scene about his presence. He gives an impromptu (and unrequested) speech to the crowd about the upcoming raid. Attempting to bolster his troop’s morale, he buys a few rounds for the bar (to further rolling eyes from the civilians around the bar) but many soldiers are unimpressed.
[Nathan explains that Cletus is the type of guy that wears a blue tooth all the time, which instantly gives the players a good sense of what he’s like.]
Barundar stumbles his way into the bar, still shaking off a few days’ worth of “Dwarven mourning” over the death of Renaldo.
Across town, Myles is getting raked over the coals by his very unsympathetic wife, Ravella. Upon walking in the door, she immediately hits him up for earnings (forcing him to hand over 6gp) and scolding him for walking out on the family. He explains all the things he and his party have done in Wenshire but she’s uninterested in hearing his stories of heroism. She fills him in on some of the goings on in town, Cletus’ overhaul of the town guard and how much of an ass everyone thinks he is. Not feeling very welcomed, [and to keep Nathan from having to RP anything weird] Myles bids his farewell to Ravella. She seems very upset until he explains that he’ll send gold back from the road, which seems to calm her down a lot. Throughout the entire exchange, Ravella never got up from her sewing table [which is actually pretty similar to Paul’s actual life at home… the realization that his marriage in the game is as dysfunctional as in real life is soul crushing.*] He says he’ll stop by to see the kids in the morning but that he’s headed into the Badlands the next day. She says, “Yea, okay, whatever, just send money if you can” and Myles runs for a consolatory drink at the bar.
Darius finds nothing “interesting” at the market and heads for the inn as well.
Myles enters the inn to find Cletus still rambling on about “wresting victory from the brink of defeat” and “finding solace in the fact that, although many will likely die, they will die as heroes cleansing the Badlands of evil.” As he enters, he bumps a man from behind and causes him to drop his tankard on the ground. The interruption causes Cletus to swirl in the tabletop and his blood boils as he sees Myles as the cause. A mischievous wave washes over his face and he addressed Myles. “Ah well, who do we have here? Boys,” he says looking at the soldiers present,” who here recognizes the name Tyson? It seems he felt that now was a good time to pay us a visit… anyone who wants promoted will apprehend that man immediately!” Two men spring to their feet and move to grab Myles.
Ash bellows a command word of “STOP” to one of the men, causing his movement to grind to a halt as he’s held in a trance. The second soldier moves forward, but slips on the tankard on the ground and faceplants at Myles’ feet, knocking himself unconscious.
Myles places a boot on the back of the unconscious guard and addresses Cletus and the bar. “Cletus, stop this charade. You, I and the good people of Otemshire know that I’m Myles and not Tyson, now stand down and spare these men’s lives… for at least one more night, until you lead them to their deaths on this ill-fated raid…”
His words resonate with many of the townsfolk present, but they enrage Cletus and he points to a table to 4 more guards and calls them to action.
Barundar rushes to Cletus’ side and grabs him by the collar, raises him into the air and shouts, “CUT THIS OUT!” The direct aggression is enough to break Cletus’ will and he tells his men to stand down. Darius walks into the bar, sees the party in a standoff and asks Myles if he needs to, “off anybody” Myles responds, “not yet.”
Myles approaches Cletus and confronts him about the stunt and threatens that the next time he pull it he won’t hold back. The duo argue back and forth a bit but Myles decides to try to be the bigger man and offers to assist the raid to help secure Otemshire. Cletus scoffs at the offer and huffs off into the night to prepare for the early morning raid.
Throughout the evening at the bar they learn that the raid consists of 59 foot and 6 mounted guards, including Cletus.
Following a restful night, the group sets about making preparations to delve into the Badlands and tail the raid. Ash heads over early to discuss the issue of the Wenshire, fish-people curse to see if the local clerics know anything. The acolyte that greets him at the door mentions having heard about something similar once and commits to searching the library for any information that may relate to the curse.
Barundar head to the artisan district and find a gem shop and decide to offload some of their gems – especially the large rubies from the Dagon shrine. They walk in to find an aged dwarf
standing behind the counter inspecting stones. After showing them their gems and a bit of negotiation, he offers them 85gp for the lot. As Myles turns to leave, Barundar’s hair stands on end and he notices that the gem cutter is giving a specific gem that he had just sold to him a great deal of attention. Barundar inspects the room looking for signs [of something] but finds none, so he shrugs it off as he and Myles leave and head to the market to stock up on projectiles.
Ash, Amon and [for some reason] Darius – 15gp
Myles – 16gp
Barundar – 24gp
The party regroups and travels to the hanging tree to attempt to recover the gnoll they saw get imprisoned the day before. A lone guard stands at the base of the tree, looking nervously back and forth along the trail. Darius approaches and attempts to persuade the guard to “skee-dattle” but is unsuccessful so he resorts to more… direct… means and threatens to put a crossbow bolt through his head.
Myles approaches and communicates with the gnoll in broken goblin-tongue. He says that they’re there to help and that they trust that he came in peace and he convinces the gnoll to break the cage, a task he completes with ease. As he throws the remnants of the cage aside, the gnoll faces Myles and places one hand across its chest and raises the other. Myles interprets this to be some sort of friendship ritual and backs away, saying that they “really need to get going…”
The gnoll explains that his name is “Gn,hal” [but no one knows how to pronounce a comma, so the group takes to calling him Guh-knoll.]
Guh-knoll leads the way, running on all fours in front of the mounted party. As he runs, he explains that heading directly towards the center of the Badlands is “certain death”. Myles figures that this is exactly what Cletus is likely to do, so the group forms a plan to skirt the raid party and draw them in a safer path. Guh-knoll mentions that there are a few warriors left in his tribe that may be able to help.
The group catches up the raiding party just as they’re setting up to camp for the night. They decide to run ahead and meet up with Guh-knoll’s tribe, so they ride on into the night.
Sometime later, they approach three giant rock outcroppings upon which lit fires are burning brightly. Guh-knoll deftly scales the side of one of the rocks to explain the situation as the group nervously waits below. Guh-knoll comes back and tells them that his tribe is unhappy about their presence, but happy to have their support in cleansing the great evil. He invites the party to camp within their settlement, an offer they politely decline. Instead, they setup camp on a smaller plateau outside of the gnoll camp. Guh-knoll asks if he might stay with them for the evening. Myles feels that Guh-knoll really is being honest about his intentions and agrees to let him share the tent.
In the middle of the night, Barundar and Ash are awoken by a skittering sound. Moments later, a war horn bellows through the night and the skittering sound picks up its pace. The horn serves to wake up the remainder of the party and the entire gnoll camp.
As Ash steps from the tent, two shadowy, gnoll shaped figures strike out with sharpened claws. Both sets of claws find their mark in the cleric’s flesh, dragging him down a small embankment. Even through the veil of night Ash can sense the presence of undead. Calling upon his god he casts Turn Undead.
Darius wakes up and [rolling the highest roll we’ve seen in the game thus far, a 29] stealths into oblivion before pulling his crossbow out and shooting a gnoll zombie in the head, dropping it to the ground.
Myles jumps down the cliff after Ash and tries to draw the attention of the remaining zombies. As he falls through the air, he sees the silhouettes of many more zombies lurching through the night towards them. He relays this fact back to the group and they begin to flee.
Darius runs [really far] but decides to take a shot as he’s running. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take his incredible speed into account, and the shot goes awry and finds its resting spot in Barundar’s thigh. With his attacker preoccupied with Myles, Ash scrambles up the stone wall and casts light so as to get a better view of the battlefield. His holy light reveals is about another dozen zombies rushing towards the gnoll camp.
Barundar attempts to shoot with his heavy crossbow but is surprised by the bright light, causing him to shoot Guh-knoll in the back. Luckily for their new beast-friend, this didn’t cause too much pain as he throws himself across the makeshift campsite and crushes the zombie gnoll attacking Myles. As he kicks the zombie’s corpse a final time, he urges Myles to run.
Most of the party continues their strategic retreat, attempting to get to the gnoll camp on the top of the tall rock outcroppings. Myles scrambles to the top of the small rock that he and his party were camping on and before the runs he reaches down for Guh-knoll to help him up. Unfortunately, the gnoll’s weight is too much and Myles is unable to drag him up, but Guh-knoll gives him an appreciative glance as he is attacked by a group of zombies.
[Matt leaves to catch a flight]
Darius, Myles, Ash and the gnolls battle the oncoming zombie horde, with Darius racking up most of the kills [including blatantly stealing one of Myles’ kills by executing the zombie point blank] and Ash eventually falls [to two consecutive crits]. After shooting Myles’ zombie in the back of the head with his crossbow, Darius informs Myles that, “Yer friend the cleric is dead, you might want to help him out…” before sprinting across the battlefield to kill more zombies.
Myles sees his friend the cleric lying prone on the ground, being assailed by a pair of zombies and flies into a rage [with ANOTHER two consecutive crits] decapitating both zombies before kneeling to stabilize his buddy.
Guh-knoll springs around ripping zombie heads off and Darius eventually kills the final zombie [for a total of 7 kills in his first fight…]
After the dust settles [and the party’s tent is moved well inside the gnoll camp] Guh-knoll explains that the zombies are fallen gnolls from the once numerous tribes that stalked the Badlands. He continues to explain that there is a “man temple” in the center of the Badlands that is spewing a dark smoke.
Myles knows of legends from his youth of a temple deep within the Badlands that was built as a prison, but no one believed the story.
The group decides to continue with their plan to kite the raiding party in an arc around the center of the Badlands in an attempt to draw them to a safer route to the temple.