Friday, January 18, 2013

Play Report: Ethnography of the Virgin Blades

Last night was my first in-person D&D session in an eon. It was the first D&D session of any type for two of my players, a coworker and an (ex)coworker (long tale of betrayal and assholes behind that transformation). Jocelyn played as well, as did Frank—a long time veteran of the game who has still, if I am not mistaken, not played a live session of D&D in more than two years and even then the last two or three beyond that were played with me alone in one-on-one games. It went pretty well, I think, and the two newcomers acquitted themselves admirably.

As there were three elves from the Greatwood in the party, I thought it best to simply help them spin a rapid backstory involving their working together on a caravan as hired guards, explaining the handful of gold they had with them upon beginning play. They have traveled for some three to five months to arrive in Valbois. Ricki, playing a Priest of Eleia, had simply spent her (his, she's playing Antonio, a half-Dorl) in the town of Casselflor being trained on the grounds of the Eliean temple.

They started in the Casselflor marketplace, looking for a tavern. Such is always the way of adventurers, new or old, it seems. As their eyes alit upon a low thatch-roofed building with a sign over the door displaying a black tun of ale painted on its board, they also noticed a man approaching to head them off—the hefty broad-shouldered representative of the baron (the Eylic word being "shire reeve," or sheriff, the Varan "bailiff") Sieur Guion de Flor. Sieur Guion explained that he was looking to hire up some adventurers to discover what was happening to the farmer's livestock; apparently, vanishing. Whether or not the disappearance of a local boy from Battle Farm (Henshel, according to Ricki who made a name up for him on the spot) was related, the knight couldn't say.

So, agreeing to return to his manse with information in order to get 120 golden pillars (fulcre or ƒ as Varan orthography would have it -- Varan coinage is written in this manner: 120ƒ {gp, fulcre}, 120t {sp, turre}, 120s {cp, scutari}) the group set off. Antonio provided them with some much needed guidance about the local farms, but not before Sieur Guion left them his parting words: Farmer Balduin Bramble, tenant of Bramble Farm against the northern verge of the Vallain Wood, believed that the whole situation was caused by the ghost of a famous bandit.

The party went inside to drink and discuss their options. They asked little of the Black Keg's barkeep, Aldrus, save for a pitcher of his local beer. The four of them decided that they'd best ask Balduin Bramble some questions. This was done lickety split, so they finished up their cups of beer, swilled down what was left (or secretly poured it out into the rushes to splatter onto the floor) and hoofed it out of the town to the north.

Passing in the shadow of the grim ruin of the Florian keep hardly dampened their spirits, and before long they found themselves at the Bramble farm. A small cottage of unmortared river stone sheltered the old halfling with its wide porch and they joined him there, setting down in chairs nearby. He told tale after tale of the bandit Langrim the Blade, who had terrorized Casselflor back during the orc wars. He was convinced that the spirit of the bandit was stealing children to "replenish his own forces and ride again!" He told them they could play off Langrim's legendary vanity if they were to meet.

Cyosta (the party thief) meanwhile left to examine the fields and quickly found signs of passage on the freshly fallen snow. The party followed the trail into the woods and realized right quick it was leading to Glen Casse, the rumored bandits den of the orc wars. They spread out, leaving Antonio on the road with the party dogs (of which there are three: Caesar, Romeo, and Hephaestus) so they could slip quietly through the wood.

They discovered the hill-glade of Glen Casse and, seeing it empty, began to search it. A fire pit was at once evident, with the clear signs of chewed and gnawed bones amongst the ashes. As the entire party came to examine it, a blistering series of yaps and yips emerged from the hill, from behind a large rock. The party was under attack! They took cover behind nearby pine trees; both Antonio and Cyosta were struck by arrows before they could reach it.

Cyosta being the only party member with a ranged weapon, fired his bow up the hillside, loosing several arrows until he struck one of the kobolds that had appeared. The arrow took it through the eye and the other two immediately vanished behind the boulder. The party limped up after them to discover what they had feared: a warren of tunnels leading into the hill.

First the party argued about what to do for several minutes while the kobolds within organized. They debated smoking out the creatures, but were eventually afeard such actions would kill the boy (if he was truly in there). Cyosta determined to explore the rest of the hillside to see if there were other entrances. Before he could, however, Antonio healed him with a spell while Coi (the party fighter, Jocelyn) rushed into the sandy-floored cavern.

And straight into a trap, wherein four javelins were loosed at her. Batting them aside and bulling forward, she managed to reach the line of kobolds on the right while her dogs sank into the two on the left. They, of course, had emerged from tunnels that were out of sight from without, and a rapid heated battle ensued. On either side a kobold was killed while the other fled. This led to the most dreaded of situations: the split party.

I think I managed it fairly well, doing one round's worth of action with the left-hand group and one with the right. They split with Antonio and Coi together and Cyosta and Ovelaave (the elvish mage) on the other side, heading right-ways. The right-hand party blundered into a room of 9 kobold elite guards and 2 guard boars—which they had trouble distinguishing due to the low light leaving them only infravision to see by.

Ovelaave busted out his one spell (a judicious color spray) knocking out six kobolds, stunning the warthogs, and causing the rest of the creatures to flee. Murder ensued.

On the other side, Coi and Antonio unknowingly encountered and killed Skarax the Kobold King and his two guards before pressing on. The groups met together again in the breeding warren where they dispatched the remaining kobold females and young. Thus ended the first ever session of the virgin blades (they will probably hate that name).

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