Sunday, June 25, 2017

Castles and Crusades Sessions 1 and 2

I've started a monthly Castles and Crusades game with some other adults; I am the Castle Keeper, my wife and two other couples are playing.

For those familiar, I am combining two old-school modules... T1 and B2. Hommlet has become the Forgotten Realms city of Highcastle, in the High Dale, between Cormyr and Sembia, with the Keep on the Borderlands being the now-completed Keep of Rufus and Burne. The Thunder Way, which runs near Highcastle, is noted for connecting not much with nowhere in particular, with another route that gets you there faster and safer, and without going through the mountains, which are frequently closed to traffic through the winter. However, it is a pilgrimage site, being the location of the Dancing Place (aka the Caves of the Unknown on the B2 map), where several deities manifested a few centuries ago, leading to the formation of the Harpers. The part of the Hidden Vale, a (former) settlement of rock gnomes, is being played by the Caves of Chaos.

(These are all things that the party already knows, or would know if they asked; other aspects of what's going on are, obviously, being kept a bit secret for now).

Player Characters:
Gnome Wizard, Junior, who seems to have a bit of a death wish
Dwarven Druid, Nags, with an ant animal companion
Human Monk, Neb, who likes to hit things
Human Rogue, Nickles, always trying new things
Half-Elf Ranger, no name yet, who likes to drink

Session 1:

The party arrived as part of a trade caravan, the first of the year. Exploring the town, they found there is significant tension between the local druidic circle and the "new" temple of Helm; Rufus and Burne brought the worship of Helm in about a decade ago, and while it's somewhat caught on, their proselytizing and relative inflexibility and hostility to ecumenicism has chilled relations. There's also a local priest of Oghma, studying in the library of Rufus, and amiably making friends while he's there.
A lot was setting up the game, of course, and making characters, but the party did manage to expose a cheat in the Inn, getting him kicked out, and recruit a couple more people (Zert, who knew the caravan master, and Spugnoir, who desperately wanted to get out of town after having been stuck for the winter). While travelling out of town with the caravan, the party was attacked by a dozen hobgoblins, who they routed (along with some great help from Spugnoir's Sleep spell), and backtracked to the Hidden Vale.

Session 2:

Exploring the Hidden Vale, they first entered one of the goblin caves, fighting a neat little battle and learning from their prisoners that the gnomes have been gone for months, and that the cave next door is where the goblins have been putting a lot of their treasure. The party withdrew, giving their injured monk a chance to heal a bit. They decided to try the cave next door. The thief sets a snare, then goes in... and wakes the ogre. She retreats, and the slowly waking ogre looks up again... and sees a dwarf druid. She takes a pot shot at him, falling back. The monk steps forward and gives him a shot in the nuts, and falls back a touch, as the thief falls from above, backstabbing on her way down. Adam Ant chews on his foot, and he's angry.. so he smashes the HELL out of the Monk... 12 out of the 13 points he currently has. He tosses the monk back, but gets torn down by the rest of the party (eventually getting caught in a snare, one leg caught in the air). They quickly search the cave, finding a cache of cash, some cheese, and a keg of brandy... and a wall made out of unmortared brick, leading into the goblin caves. Opening a few bricks, they see the goblins have set up their table as a barricade, and are watching them. One takes off running, and the dwarf wings him, but he gets away. The monk, moderately healed by goodberries, Kool-aid Man's his way through the wall, then smashes into the table, killing all five remaining goblins with the table itself (REALLY horrible saving throws).
The party retreats to the ogre cave as more goblins head down from deeper in the caves... and then tosses a doctored keg of brandy onto the fire the goblins were cooking on, leading to a jet of flame soaking the goblin horde... not enough to kill them, but definitely sending them all into retreat. The goblins head back to the common room and begin to argue, sides forming as it's argued as to whether the chief is still a fit leader after that debacle... 11 goblins dead in two attacks, the ogre apparently gone, and then everyone else bathed in fire.
The party listens, and retreats to the ogre cave, and then hears the march of boots out of the other hallway... things are about to get interesting in the Hidden Vale.