Decaying Lands 17: Storming the Fight Club!

PCs Present & Played:

Boris "Iron Guts", Fighter 1 (Vegas)
Caleb, Fighter 2 [farmer kit] (Just Yolks)
  Suzie, a stubborn but loyal mule
Tenkos, Cleric 2 [plague doctor kit]
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 2 [bounty hunter kit]

The session started with a sad announcement: Just Yolks is going to be taking a break! This means that Caleb will be MIA for a few months while Just Yolks pursues some educational enrichment.

They revisited their plan to go in and murder everyone EXCEPT Viggo still wanted to give them a chance to surrender Ralf. After some more discussion they settled on an immediate nighttime raid to try and catch everyone unawares in their pajamas (yes they really did talk about the pajamas again).

Caleb decided to tie Suzie up at a bit of distance so that she didn't give away their position; they wanted to be really sneaky approaching. Viggo then headed off to do some solo recon of the situation.

Viggo sneakily approached under cover of darkness, found a snoring sentry in a tree and not much else after making a loop around the building. Debated trying to climb up and murder him but instead opted to cover the ground around the tree in caltrops. He wanted to avoid any possible risk of failure or alert as long as possible. Actually speaking of that:

"Tenkos since you're the fire bomber you should stay away," said the bounty hunter to the cleric.

Caleb took out his greatsword, put on his great horned stag helmet, and terrified all of his fellow party members. After recovering themselves, they got  ready to have Caleb sneak towards the front door around the edge of the forest with Viggo and have old Iron Guts and Tenkos hang back in reserve.

We used the group stealth rule from Beloch over at Papers & Pencils, meaning that Viggo got a -1 for trying to carry Caleb, net 3 in 6. Unfortunately, that one came up 6 (failure) and the sleepy guard woke up shouting curses.

Caleb charged the big door, Tenkos went for the little door. The big man failed to get through (on several attempts) but Tenkos made it in and started shouting for them to let Ralf go or they would burn the place down.

Meanwhile the guy in the tree was trading pot shots in the dark back and forth with Boris while Tenkos tried to get within range of the building. Neither archer connected much but Tenkos lobbed a blackfyre bomb straight up onto the thatch roof once it became clear that the occupants weren't going to play ball. The roof erupted in glorious purple flames while Caleb and Viggo beat feet back.

Now that the building was on fire it was much easier for Boris to see the archer in the tree and he nailed the poor sentry. Tree guy decided that discretion was the better part of valor and scrambled down the tree, dropping down the last couple of feet. That proved a mistake as he had no chance to avoid the caltrops and landed firmly on top of them. There was a lot of screaming.

There was even more screaming when Boris or Tenkos (can't remember which) rushed over to him so that they could stab him and make sure he was dead. He didn't die immediately, just collapsed a lung and slowly gurgled and choked before dying some minutes later.

Sidebar: My players thought that was just flavor but dude hit -3 HP and in LotFP that means you're dead in d10 minutes with no chance for saving. I like to apply the HP and dying rules on both sides of the screen.

While that guy was wheezing his last Viggo once again shouted out to try and get the occupants of the house out, saying that there wouldn't have to be any more killing if they gave up Ralf. All they heard in reply was the crackling of burning wood.

Sidebar: Just want to note that without Jewel confidently following the trail here they would have no evidence of Ralf even being here. They even debated that aspect for a while before fixing their recollection.

After several hours waiting for the fire to die down the party entered the remains of the still hot structure. They tried to look for any kind of hidden entrances or basement doors on the floor but there was too much burnt debris to find much without clearing things. They did see a large hole revealed where the rear of the structure had a bear skin on the wall that led down into the dirt mound.

The pathway curved and narrowed as it descended back around under the building. It was tight, forcing a single file approach with their big fake knight in the lead. They called out as they curled around but there was no response.

Caleb being in front potentially saved them all from a TPK because a pair of crossbow bolts came out of the darkness and four attackers rushed them. His platemail deflected a ton of blows, despite the crossbows ability to punch through. Their (Wetzel from earlier) hung back and kept up the ranged assault while two of his comrades tried to wrestle Caleb down with mancatchers and two hung back with whips.

Caleb was swinging mighty blows but couldn't connect with anything. Viggo snaked his bladed grappling hooks around the large farmer to strike at his enemies and Boris peppered the leader with arrows from his shortbow. Tenkos held back, hoping that his magic wouldn't be needed.

Even with the plate Caleb still almost went down and in serious trouble with Tenkos bottlenecked behind his comrades.

Once Caleb started connecting, however, he was hewing people in half left and right, pushing into the room. Viggo took the gap and went for the leader, using his 10' hooked chain and rolling a nasty critical. He sliced up his opponent but then went for the free grapple that he gets for his chain and lost the exchange! The leader coiled the chain around his arm and ripped it out of Viggo's grasp. His success was short-lived however as Boris punctured him with another arrow, dropping him.

As the party cut down a lot of the first wave a second group came running in behind them. Boris tried to draw aggro from Viggo (who was getting punished) by taunting the clever lady who had just run in with the rest of the folks. He was quite successful, meaning that Viggo's attempts at parley for Ralf without any more violence fell flat.

Sidebar: There were a bunch of morale rolls called for here with one of the leaders going down and number depleting. They just kept making all of them!

Boris ran up to stand with Viggo to try and take some of the aggression with some rough words about killing her husband, all the while going into a defensive stance. He took some serious hits, called out more bold words, but continued to parry since another shot probably would have killed him. Tenkos swiftly came up behind him to try to mend some of his wounds with magic, staving off defeat for the moment.

Sidebar: There were 9 opponents overall, four with crossbows. The crossbows were balanced out by the subpar weapons used by people more used to catching animals and vagrants and whipping them into a fighting frenzy for the entertainment of others. The party laughed a bit about the mancatchers and whips but I equipped the enemies before I thought about all the weapons that would have been lying around an arena. Still, without Caleb's platemail this could have very quickly turned into a TPK. It's worth noting that Viggo and Boris ended up being pretty defensive too, with a shield on the bounty hunter and life-saving Parry for the... other bounty hunter.

They offered no more quarter and pretty quickly finished off the rest of their opponents. Although the initial passage and combat area was all mud and supporting beams the next room signaled a rather stark change as mud gave way to well made stonework and tiled floors. The structure itself also opened up, showing much more complexity than the party first suspected.

Whole locale is based on this gorgeous map drawn by Guillaume Tavernier. Click for source.

The initial worked chamber was stocked with all manner of melee weapons, many stained with blood. The next was packed with bunk beds and footlockers. The third room was much larger, better kept, and had the furnishings of a well-appointed cocktail room. One set of stairs led up, presumably to the burned house above, and another led down.

They followed the stairs down into a very large space, still all in stone, centered around a pit with a railing, standing tables, and some bar height chairs. There was a counter offer to the side with a wooden plackard, odds still slotted in, and a very large, locked metal chest.

In the other corner there was a tight spiral staircase heading even further down. At the bottom it continued for a bit  before branching. Two side passages led towards the arena with a pair of gates on each one, like an airlock staging area for dangerous combatants.

Sidebar: All this description and exploration of the stone areas and rooms would normally have taken a bit of time but I rushed through it to try and give Caleb's player Just Yolks some closure on this particular adventure prior to taking leave of us. 

Past the arena entryways the stonework finally started to peter out, leading into a more natural, less refined passage. The tunnel continued straight into a large, barred cell before turning a corner. A very large, maybe man sized or a bit bigger, sat inside on its haunches, staring at them.

They ignored the creature for now and turned the corner, coming to a half dozen or so more normal cells at the end of the hallway. In the last one was a rather sticky man, covered in dried blood, blubbering quietly to himself. The blubbering increased dramatically in volume and intensity once he saw the party and it was difficult to communicate.

Viggo eventually got through to Ralf by saying he would bring him back to his mother and father. They tried to get him out of his cell, with Viggo attempting to pick the lock and Boris racing to find the keys. The adoring protege beat out Viggo, who couldn't pick the cell lock, and Boris unlocked Ralf's cell. Ralf continued blubbering and embraced Viggo, getting a lot of snot and slobber on the man in the process. They quickly moved to get Ralf out (sacking the place on their way), but Boris stayed behind, observing the wolf.

The wolf observed Boris right back, sitting calmly with a cocked head. Iron Guts held out a hand by the bars, offering a sniff, and the wolf rose and began to walk forward with a measured step. Perhaps getting impatient, Boris simply rose and unlocked the door.

Annnd end session. Thanks Vegas for giving us a great hook!

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