Friday, August 5, 2016

Campaign Recap: The Island. Chapter Three: “Can I ‘Power Word: Blah!’ The Birds And The Bees?”

A bird and a bee? No! It is not so!

May 8th-17th, 317 PE (June 18, 2016)
Roll Call: Rhys, FiCoNiCuZn, Alero, Deron, Argas, Lestazia, Rodney, Nunto, Warsong, Raymond
The party hung out in the City of Letters for an extra day, and FiCoNiCuZn became a member of the Alchemists Guild. Raymond volunteered to help at the local teaching hospital, and joined the Order of Saint Berea as a probationary member (This Order is dedicated to healing the sick and injured, no matter who they are). Alero and Nunto spent a long time at Fochlucan College (a Bard college), and Lestazia visited a very popular pawn shop and got some interesting information (she's a the math). Rodney made some useful connections at the Necroversity, a college dedicated to the arts of death and undeath.

After everyone had the chance to do things, they kept their appointment with Giselle the following morning, and consequently she teleported them to the Paths of Fate Inn, located on the Great Trade Road. Once there, they made the acquaintance of Tabashi, the hobgoblin owner on the inn, and the wily Calibrian merchant Grismacci, who operates the Trade Emporium across the road. Stories were exchanged, trades were made, it was a grand old time.

(The Paths of Fate is no stranger to these recaps. The inn is located roughly halfway down the Great Trade Route, and is situated at an equidistant crossroads linking the Four Young Kingdoms of Ardrovin, Aquitania, Calibria, and Thuringia).

The party met three other adventuring groups at the Inn, because that's the sort of thing that happens when you're in one of the more well-known inns on the continent during the Fourth Age of Heroes. They met the Crazy Badgers, an all-gnome group, the Moonlight Clowder, an all-catfolk group, and the Sable Glove, a pack of advenurers who seem to actually be more aligned towards evil. Warsong eventually ended up insulting Ember, an Ifrit Firedancer Monk, and hey, a new grudge was born, because many Barbarians are less than skilled at diplomacy and discretion! At least FeConNiCuZn made some good friends among the Crazy Badgers, who were fascinated by the appearance of an actual Deep Gnome from the under-world.

There was also an interesting conversation between Raymond, our highly principled Paladin, and Lestazia the Drow Rogue, about the morality of poison use. Raymond felt that no situation warranted the use of poison, even if the poison did nothing more than knock someone out. It ended with an “agree to disagree”, and Raymond’s request that she not use it in front of him, if at all possible. Just a nice little bit of role-playing and character development there.

The party eventually departed the inn and headed southwest down the Great Trade Road. They ran afoul of a group of marauding ogres who attempted to ambush the party, starting off with a truly pathetic javelin attack (ogres are notoriously clumsy). The resulting battle was very impressive, with Warsong doing a particularly great job of wiping out the bad guys, though Argas helped immensely with a well-placed Wall of Fire. In any case, the party showed some extraordinary teamwork during the encounter.

When the dust finally settled, there were only two ogres left, and they were in the process of running for their lives, taking opposite directions. One got away, conveniently shielded by the Wall of Fire. The other one tried to escape, but Raymond took out a bow and made an impressive shot, felling the ogre and proving the point that justice will always catch up with the perpetrator. You can run, but you can't avoid that arrow in the back!

As for the one who ran away, the party, always keen on finishing what they started, tracked it back to its lair, where a few more ogres were waiting for their fellows to return with loot and today's meal. Helped immensely by Deron casting Spike Stones inside the ogres’ cave, the battle was over practically before it began. The cave made a nice place to hole up and rest.

In the span of a few days, the party got a first-hand tour of the inns located down the Great Trade Road, starting off of course at the Paths of Fate, then the Lucky Mug, the Sapphire Dragon, and eventually, the Sign of the Eclipse.

The Eclipse was a, to put it politely, “roadhouse”-like establishment, filled with a lot of sketchy characters. It was run and owned by Plank (as in, "solid as a..."), a half-orc retired fighter, with a no-nonsense demeanor and an eye-patch.

As the party settled in, Warsong looked for someone to arm-wrestle with because there's no better way to relax after a big fight than to find someone else to fight, even if it's a friendly match. She found Gorf, a fellow half-orc barbarian who was willing to, but on the condition of there being a wager. If Warsong won, Gorf would pay her 5 gold pieces. If Gorf won, she would be his for an hour. Warsong, who apparently is quite the innocent, couldn’t quite grasp what Gorf was after. Her friends tried to explain it to her, hence the title of this recap!

(Let's take a moment to bring the uninitiated up to speed on what 'Power Word: Blah' is. While role-playing is heavily encouraged in our games, including not being satisfied with "I tell the NPC what happened" and making the player role-play the conversation, it can get a little tedious if the player finds themselves having to give the same little speech to each NPC he or she encounters. Therefore, we have Power Word: Blah, which means "I give this person the spiel I've already given the earlier person". This saves time and avoids the tedium of repetition. 

Hey, there's Power Word: Stun, Power Word: Sleep, and Power Word: Kill, right? This works!)

Once the biology lecture was over, she still went along with the wager, deciding that she simply wouldn't lose. Nunto, however, thought the wager was rather lopsided, and managed to use his powers of persuasion to increase the payoff. Gorf agreed, and put up his magic belt as a wager, one of those "Helps you carry lots of stuff" type of belts. Nunto and Alero then played some encouraging music for their barbarian friend, and Warsong won easily, got the magic belt, and her comrades cleaned up on side bets.

(The arrangement was just a little sketchy. Both participants had to divest themselves of any magical items that could give them an unnatural advantage. The bard music on Warsong's behalf was an unfair minor advantage, but I had to play it fair and not have any of the inn's clientele be wise to it, since none of them really have had any experience with the advantages of a bard's powers other than singing great drinking songs!)

Fortunately, the party fostered such a vast amount of goodwill that everyone in the bar considered them to be “one of us!”. Plank was impressed as well (especially since more rounds of drinks were ordered), and the party made a new friend and ally. Before the party left the following morning, Plank told them that a few days prior, another adventuring group had come in, and that one member, a monk with a fiery appearance, was asking about a half-orc female barbarian traveling with a large group of people, including some hobbits and bards.

Plank told the party that the group headed east from the inn, into the wild lands, going completely off the roads. The party’s plan, of course, was to head west along the old abandoned road informally called The Twilight Highway, as they made their way towards Slaughter Swamp. After they made sure Plank wouldn't tell the not-quite-nice adventuring band of their stay, the party set off down the Twilight Highway.

In their travels down the Highway, the party encountered a pack of ghouls, but the undead were quickly annihilated by a Fireball shot from Argas’ staff, expending 3 of the 6 remaining valuable charges. Not a bad investment.

On the following day, as the party continued down the broken old highway, they encountered a pack of 8 wolves, out on the hunt. The wolves approached the party, eager for fresh meat, but uncertain of exactly what to make of the party. Deron the Druid tried using Animal Empathy to quiet them down and send them off. Unfortunately, he rolled a 1, and rather than quiet them down, they were whipped into a homicidal frenzy, incorrectly assuming that he was trying to establish himself as their new Alpha.

Fortunately, as they raced at break-neck speed towards the party in a full-out high-speed charge, Deron cast a Spike Stone spell on the ground in front of them. The wolves were unable to stop in time and were consequently shredded (the simile I used was "like throwing a pork-chop into a chipper-shredder").

And that’s where we stopped; still on the road, kind of like hitting "Pause". Next time: Mosquitos! Fungus! Mud! Humidity! Reptiles! Mildew! Talking turtles!