Monday, May 2, 2016

Back To Greyhawk - Shopping Day!

Your reliable scribe is back at the helm of the Greyhawk adventure...remember that our players are braving the dangers of Castle Greyhawk's ruins in search of fame and treasure. Well, maybe not the paladin so much...he's just there for the smiting.

And the players for this campaign include:

Brent: G'leric, a gnome wizard, and his familiar, G'at the bat
Spencer: Urick, a human paladin, and his mount, Zeeb 
Emily: Ember the Executioner, a human fighter
Elliot: Lance Dallas, an elf druid, and his familiar, Lionel the Lion
Dan: Fayt Vaanil, an elf rogue

If you've been following along with this particular campaign, you know that our party's adventures ended this past winter with a valiant rescue of a Boccobite cleric named Altamaic.  Upon returning this cleric to his temple, the party received a free 5th-level or lower spell.  The DM made the executive decision to make this a permanent spell...depending on what spell the player chose, of course.  The players made the following spell choices:

Lance - Tongues
G'leric - True Seeing (the DM was glad to hear someone picked this spell...will be most useful later)
Fayt - Slay Living (One utterance/usage per day)
Ember - Flame Strike (Cast on her Holy +1 greatsword)
Urick - Divine Power (Spell woven into a wristband, to be used three times a day)

After the players picked their spells, the DM handed out "While You've Been Away..." sheets, which allowed the players to catch up on their loot and happenings...useful for the DM as well, since she discovered that where the blog here left off and where the adventure really left off were two different stopping points.  Here's the fun little interludes the DM found in her notes...

Lance the Druid (Elliot), being an animal lover, received an invitation to visit Lord Henway's Magical Menagerie.  He goes and sees all types of wonderful creatures.  He is approached by Lord Henway who tells him a story about a wonderfully terrible hellhound he used to own years ago.  It had been stolen several decades ago, and was spotted in the company of a little girl named Melissa.  He was able to recapture that hellhound, but just in the last few weeks, it was kidnapped from him again.  And since he'd heard Lance Dallas has extensive hellhound knowledge, would he be willing to attempt a rescue/recovery for a handsome fee?  Naturally, Lance accepts (and with very little questioning either).

G'leric is in the middle of lunch with Ricard Damaris at the Drunken Dog Inn.  Ricard is also lunching with one Captain Gallanz, who appears to be very jovial, despite the formidable military uniform he sports about in.  This Captain is very, very eager to hear details of the cleric's adventures in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk.  In the midst of all this, the doors open and a blue-clad wizard enters and strides directly over to Ricard's table.  He fixes the Captain with a very piercing gaze before reaching into his cloak and removing a small object wrapped in a blue handkerchief.  The small object is a dragonchess piece (the pawn).  The wizard sets it upright before very meaningfully tipping it over on its side, indicating capture.  Then, the wizard stalks from the Inn.  G'leric does a well-enough Knowledge Local check to know that the blue-garbed wizard was no other than the great Tenser.  G'leric is a bit goggled at this fact, and rather starstruck as he chases down Tenser and proceeds to inform him that he (G'leric) is "the other famous wizard".  No other interaction occurs on the part of Tenser and G'leric returns to his steak-and-kidney pie.

Ember (Emily) comes across an advertisement for a "sale" at a shop called the Nine of Swords.  There, she meets Cerenoc, the tightly-muscled, forty-something owner of the shop.  It would appear that Ember's just happening to find that flyer was no coincidence.  News of Ricard Damaris's rescue, not to mention the party's current exploits in the ruins of Castle Greyhawk has circulated like mad, and Cerenoc has a proposal for the swordswoman called Ember.  He tells her he will offer her a "rental" of any weapon he currently has available if she will procure for him the coveted Blade of Chaos from castle's depths.  She asks instead of a new weapon, can he put magical abilities on her current sword.  He says he can, and she does not give a definite answer.  Perhaps she must think it over, because after all, the Blade of Chaos actually belongs to Ricard Damaris and it was thefted from him when he was overtaken at Zagig's Bridge. Hmmm...

Fayt (Daniel) is enjoying a leisurely drink at the DDI, when he is accosted by a lovely, dark-haired elf.  She introduced herself as Tirra, Master Thief for the Greyhawk Thieves Guild - River Quarter.  She's very open about her affiliation, because after all, The Thieves' Guild mostly works in tandem with the Greyhawk governing officials to keep the city safe and in order.  Fayt's decent Knowledge: Local check allows him to realize he is indeed speaking to someone of influence within this city.  She has a warning for the elf rogue: what lies underneath the ruins of Castle Greyhawk contain glory, riches, and magic beyond his imagining...but there are dangers beyond his comprehension and skill as well.  She makes him an offer: we can assist you in your exploration, we know you already have access to the Tower of War, but you will be unable to access entry to the other two towers.  We can help you with that.  But, of course, you must do something for us as well.  What say you?  Fayt requests Tirra buy him a mug of ale, and promptly refuses to accept her proposal.  He instead plans to undertake the search for entry on his own (whether or not he tells Tirra this, the notes do not say).

And good old Urick. Our trusty, young, foolhardy paladin.  He returns to his quarters at the Drunken Dog Inn after a hearty lunch, and notices a beautiful woman sitting primly on his bed.  She stands, and Urick notices she is modestly and elegantly dressed, perhaps in her upper 30s.  She says her name is Livashti, and she explains she has heard of the brave exploits of Urick's party so far in Greyhawk.  She then explains her hope that she may hire him for a rescue job.  Her husband, Kellan, ventured off to the castle's ruins six months ago in search of treasure and plunder.  He has not returned, and she has had no word of his status.  The paladin does a Sense Motive on the woman and can really only discern that she "is not all she seems".  The woman says her husband can be identified by his wedding band, as it matches hers, a plain silver band with a unique geometric pattern engraved into it.  She then offers Urick the use of a sword her husband had laying around the house (and why didn't he take with him? Who knows? The paladin never thinks to ask).  Turns out it is a +1 flaming longsword, and the paladin is practically vibrating with excitement at the thought of using it.  And that is indeed the clincher.  Urick says he'll do it, and he too asks no questions.

Alright, alright, alright...onto today's session.  The last few episodes have been rather dungeon-crawl heavy, so with the amazing help of a good friend, the DM planned this assemblage to be more city scouring-laced.  And so now away we go!

It's been a couple days of info-gathering, recovering, resting, rehydrating (sure?), and counting the loot for our adventurers.  Convening some time later in the afternoon in the Drunken Dog Inn, the group notices the volume of people (and their volume) has increased immensely.  There is much chatter and the pub is much much more packed than it normally is...the players' Spot checks have no trouble discerning this.  A closer Listen reveals that tomorrow is a great day in Greyhawk.  Nothing like a little multipurpose religious observance to bring the people together.  All religions within the Free City of Greyhawk, minor and major, will celebrate, parade, and work for their Deity.  And while it is a great time of feasting and praising and is also a time of unorganized chaos.  People throng and gather and crowd in nearly every street and corner.  The City Watch have their hands full with patrols all day and night.  And not only that, but all shops in Greyhawk are to be closed by noon the next day (and closed the day after as well), any buying and selling that needs to be done...should be done tonight and/or tomorrow.

And the festivities look to begin early at the Drunken Dog Inn, as Ricard announces loudly that for the next hour, drinks are free.  The barmaids scurry to and fro with tankards and steins and pints, and before long, a round of drinks are slammed on the table in front of our adventurers.  The rogue (Fayt), the druid (Lance), and the paladin (Urick) all refuse the beverages.  However, G'leric and Ember go at it quite enthusiastically.  Fayt instead pulls out his bottle of brandy, pushes his freebie away, and decides to leave the DDI.

On the way to Geeridan's General Store, Fayt bypasses a bunch of hungover-looking mercenary-type men stumbling out of a building. Upon arriving to Geeridan's, the rogue sees that the shop is CLOSED.  So, Fayt turns around and tries to hawk his wares to the hungover group of men.  Fayt's spiel is certainly energetic, but totally wasted on this group of bloodshot-eyed, hamster-mouthed professionals.  At the mention of the word "brandy" (one of the items Fayt wishes to sell), one of the men loses it and vomits all over the rogue.  Upon learning he now takes -2 to any further Charisma checks, he returns to the DDI to wash up.

Urick the paladin has cleared out for the night, ordering some cheap food before returning to his room.  Lance remains in the tavern, watching the increasingly happy shenanigans around him.  General merriment continues until late.

Moonlight passes.  Ember and G'leric make Constitution rolls and discover they are nowhere near ready to get out of bed at 8:00 am the next morning when  Fayt, Lance, Urick rise and make their way downstairs.  The three alert players see people around the tavern in various states of slumber.  Weird.  Like they never went home.  A good Heal check by the druid and paladin indicate the sleep thing is not permanent nor harmful, but probably a problem with the DDI well-water (perhaps tainted by a drug prompting Ember to refer to it as Roofie Beer).

Fayt, Urick, Lance opt to leave their cohorts in bed and head to Geeridan's.  Right out in front of Goddess-damned shop, for Pete's sake, is a juggler...which in and of itself is not too crazy - after all, it is that kind of atmosphere right now.  But, he's juggling about six lit torches.  And doing it so incredibly poorly.  Someone could seriously get hurt. The players try to move carefully around the flaming idiot, but alas, Fayt and Urick do not make decent enough Dex checks, and are set alight. Lance is able to avoid the fire. After putting himself out easily,  Fayt castigates the inept juggler and shoves him down, crying out "Dance Monkey Dance" when the juggler's shoes catch fire.  The paladin says nothing to the rogue for this slightly mean little action.  I guess paladins have those moments too.

Inside the store, the three players are able to sell their extra equipment for extra coin.  Urick is overcome with the desire to have Zeeb with him, and Lance wishes for Lionel as well.  So, it's back to the DDI for animals. On the way back, the trio suddenly notice the closest sewer hole begins to belch up rats...and that's odd enough without Spot checks revealing that these rats are wearing little brown robes that look a lot like a priest's vestments.  With his Tongues spell, Lance asks them who they are and what they're about.  They rat-chatter back that they are worshippers of the Rat-God Splinter (later on, Sphincter).  Upon saying the name, the brown-robed rats stand on their little rat haunches and bow to the ground.  Apparently, with the Festival of the Gods so close, they have much to do and shortly after bowing down, they scurry search of cheese sacrifices, probably.

And around 10:00 GST, Ember and G'leric awake to much the same scenario in the DDI tavern - half-full of sleeping, knocked out people.  Fayt, though, has not been idle; he has spent his extra time back at the DDI relieving some of the more aristocratic-looking folk of their coin.  Urick tries to do the noble pally thing and remonstrate him, but Fayt won't be guilted into stopping.

Ember and G'leric want to go to Geeridan's.  Lance opts to stay behind and wait for a breakfast server.  Surely someone should be coming in to flip eggs soon.

En route, the four players notice they seem to be followed by City Watch (Urick and Gleric sit atride Zeeb).  And as they turn to quicken their pace, the City Watch begins a full-on run after them.  Fayt does a Hide check to fade into background, Ember "pulls over", and ol' Gleric casts Invisibility upon himself and Zeeb and Urick.  Ember's Charisma check as she talks to the guards is incredible, and the guards are soon apologizing for the confusion and offer to escort the group to wherever they are going...Urick states they are going to a shop called Gardetto's.

Inside, things are sold and gold pieces are collected by G'leric, Ember. Fayt asks about albino rats, and Geeridan directs the rogue to a shop across the way called Lore of the Lake.  Fayt pops over quick and inquires with the proprietor, Gulfor Leeds. Gulfor states that albino rats are uncommon, and are generally thought of as sinister omens.  If one puts such stock into things like that.  He does also confess that he's heard rumors of evil sorcerers shapeshifting as albino rats...but vague stories is all he's able to offer.

The party heads back to Inn, not much else to do, and it's obvious shops are closing up and the noise level in the streets is growing.  Luckily, the group finds a quiet little stretch of street...until suddenly the relative silence is rent by a man sprinting at them, screaming "Run! The Terrible Eyes are Coming!"  Upon reaching the party, the man continues to rave about a group of men just "back there" crowding about a multi-tentacledandeyed creature.  Urick Calms the man and says he will retrieve the City Watch to help him.  However, the guards on patrol here are extremely skeptical of the man.  They finally proclaim him crazy, and leave to carry on with their other patrol duties.  If there really is dangerously evil tentacled creatures floating about...then Urick the paladin is going to do something about it! The group follow the man's directions back to where he saw the Eyes.  Urick's new Flaming Longsword is at the ready.  G'leric sends Gat out on a quick recon...and the bat soon returns with this knowledge: the "Terrible Eyes" is in fact a ginormous Beholder-looking balloon (obviously for parade purposes).  Suggestions abound to pop it...but in fact, the group opts for returning to the Inn instead.

For the most part, the adventures end here.  However, there's some unfinished business in the depths of Castle Greyhawk...and the old ruins' dangerous secrets are about to burst forth like the Great Flood.  Will our brave adventurers be able to survive the torrent?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Beneath Two Suns - Right Back Where We Started From

There are many, many, many words in the English language.  However, none of them may be appropriate, descriptive, or succinct enough to describe the complete insanity of tonight's gaming session.

This lowly scribe will attempt to make order out of the chaos.  Remember:

- Kriskain, a human cleric (Heather)
- Lileth Whisperwind, a half-elf hexblade (Emily)
- Shinta, a human sorcerer (Daniel)
- Dante, an elven ranger (Elliot)
- Abuther, a half-elf barbarian (Spencer)

So.  The last session, nearly two months ago, ended on the edge of an amazing, touching reunion.  A father and daughter...separated by time, space, and a Fireball-flinging sorcerer.  But, reunited at last, many questions were asked and answered.  The cleric's father, Quillan, confesses he is a member of an organization known as the Laughing Knives, to which Kriskain replies, amazed, that she belongs as well. However, the older man shows signs of uneasiness as Kriskain discloses she is on a job for the House of Campbell. Quillan is quick to state that Campbell is despicable, he claims, in fact, he was the one to initially kidnap the princess and was planning to "rescue" her and return her to Estercari, only for the glory in Sidones' eyes.

There is much back and forth and wondering who's right, who's wrong, and what the hell is going on, when the doors to the room burst open and several armed guards enter.  It would appear the party is in some serious trouble after dispatching several of Quillan's guards earlier.  However, Kriskain's father rushes towards the guards and impels them to stop.  Then, he asks Kriskain and her colleagues to leave the Princess in his possession instead of taking her back to the nefarious Campbell.  This request prompts some skepticism in the group.  Lileth and Shinta want to know why they should not fulfill their commitment to Campbell, not to mention why Kriskain trusts this Quillan guy all of a sudden.  Quillan expresses that, as a member of the Laughing Knives, he believes in freedom from tyranny.  He opposes slavery and works to upset those who support it.  And there is only one man he trusts to take over rulership of Zenicce.  A man maned Wanek.  Quillan then implores Kriskain to seek out Wanek, on his behalf, and receive information from him.  Lileth has the all-important question: Can he remove our brands?  Quillan indicates he can.  Done!

From here, there is A LOT of back and forth conversation.  Heated discussion, at some points.  The CG cleric appears to know her course of action, and is ready to act.  However, there is some rumination by the hexblade, who speculates that things get more complicated if the party splits now (either we stand together, or fall apart?).   Lileth finally thinks to Gather More Information from particular about those underwater assassins.  He divulges that those guys had Rings of Swimming, which sound really nifty to the cleric and hexblade.  Lileth suggests a period of R & R to meditate about a practical course of action.  Because, the dilemma has become glaring: Throw over Campbell and the obligation to him and cast lots with this new, unknown entity: Quillan's Thieves.  And then...

Quillan seems to have a bunch of these super-aquapower rings around, because he's willing to part with some of them.  And so, the pendulum begins to sway in favor of abandoning Campbell, despite that meaning near-certain death for the group.  At this point, some "fun talk" begins regarding how to handle their traitor status with Campbell.  Plots and plans grow wildly incredulous...and then all of a sudden, the party decides to execute one.

Let Operation: How Fun - We All Can Cast Disguise Self! begin.

What was supposed to happen:

1. Lileth casts Disguise Self on herself to look like the Princess Nadima (the real princess stays with Quillan).
2. Kriskain casts Invisibility on herself to follow behind the Fake Nadima.
3. Shinta is the prisoner's escort back to Campbell's men.
4. The three players travel back to the House of Campbell.
5. Fake Nadima will befriend Campbell (Charm Person) and discern his true intentions.
6. Fake Nadima will then assassinate Campbell, and leave Shinta to fill the inevitable power vacuum.

A foolproof, watertight plan, yes?  Yesssssssss.

What really happened:

1. The real princess was forced to strip and hand over fine garments over to Lileth.  Nadima is now wearing a soiled potato sack.
2 - 4. Happens JUST like above.
5. And then...gods, oh gods...things just really explode into blurry chaos.

On the boat ride over, Fake Nadima announces in that imperious way, "Love me, dammit!" to the entire group of guards.  The notes do not indicate if any love was shown or not. The Head Guard questions Shinta on the happenings on the island, and the sorcerer does well spinning a web of blood-soaked lies.  Charisma...wheeeee!

Fake Nadima/Lileth is playing up her role almost too well. See below.

FN (to Head Guard): Incline to me.
HG: No. 
FN (screeching): Do you know who I am? I am the beautiful Nadima! 
HG/DM (who's trying to hide his laughter): I believe you.

Meanwhile, Kriskain's Invisibility has worn off and she does not recast it, as she's currently hanging on to the back of the boat, catching a free ride, á la Marty McFly.  Who's going to think to glance to see if anything's dragging out in the wake behind them? Morons, that's who.  Once the boat arrives safely, Kriskain casts Invisibility once again, and the party parades through the kitchen of Campbell, if only for the hilarious reason to see people there eating soup.

In Campbell's main chamber, he has nothing but praise for the sorcerer and rewards him the entire amount of 5,000 gold pieces.  Lileth and Kriskain's players exchange a wide-eyed Oh hell, he's got all the damn money now look.

Acting in perhaps the role of her life, Fake Nadima is not going to waste a single minute getting the plan underway.  See below:

FN (To Campbell): What do you want with me? Remove these chains! Incline to me!
Campbell: Stuff it. I will not.
Shinta interjects here: She is not your property yet. I want my money.

It's a bit of a panicky moment...Campbell is not taking Nadima's bait.  Instead, he instructs another guard to retrieve Shinta's money.  He also sends Fake Nadima off to another room for safekeeping.  Kriskain moves to follow and rolls miserably on a Move Silently check, ensuring the guard escorting Fake Nadima is now very, very wary.

Shinta, though, is continuing on with his meaningful conversation with Campbell, having just collected a nice pile of coin.

S: So, what are you planning to do to Estercari?
C: I hope to one day move up in power.
S: Might you have any more use for me?  Any more services I might provide?
C: Tell me about the events on Thieves' Isle.
S: Insert Fantastic Battle Details Here.
DM has Shinta roll a Bluff check.  Campbell seems to be either unconvinced or unimpressed by Shinta's story, but at any rate, he has the princess (...or does he???).

Meanwhile, Kriskain the cleric experiences a great epiphany in the spare room she's been hiding out in.  With Fake Nadima stashed away in a locked and well-guarded room, there's not much for her to do there.  Therefore, she casts Invisibility on herself again and sneaks back to the real action  And it is about to get real...and very gruesome.

1. Campbell informs Shinta that he plans to have Nadima taken to the Temple Gardens.  Not by himself, of course, because as he puts it, "I have a big island to run."
2. Shinta asks for a bit to eat, being peckish and all, and Campbell sends a guard away for some vittles (probably soup).
3. Kriskain sneaks up behind Campbell and casts Hold Person on him.
4. Shinta sees Campbell all of a sudden go rigid just before keeling over onto the floor.  He takes the opportunity to Summon Monster: Three Medium Vipers.  To occupy the remaining guard in the room, supposedly.
5. Chaotic Good Kriskain steps back to let Shinta now do what Shinta does best.  Although, she's now harboring a bad feeling about this.
6. The guard steps over the vipers (I guess? Notes are unclear) and begins hand-to-hand with Shinta.
7. Shinta steps to the side and casts Fireball (at Campbell - prone on the ground, by the way), rolls a natural 20, and does 66 points of fire damage.  

The party never really actually got to discern whether Campbell was a good guy or not (or somewhere in between)...and they never will now, as he's not only paralyzed, but suffering a terrible, painful, burning death.  Kriskain is aghast.  Yes, she's chaotic, but she's also good...although that may be subject to change after this escapade.  She attempts to put Campbell out of his misery with her rapier, and does just enough damage to make sure he's bleeding profusely, but still alive.  It's obviously time to take some ranks in Mercy Killing skills.


1. The guard's sword misses Shinta, before later connecting for some damage.
2. Shinta Magic Missiles Campbell.  For the love of all the gods, would he just die already?
3. The vipers attack the guard.
4. Kriskain casts Create Water to put out Campbell, trying not to heave her brains out from the stench.
5. A Scorching Ray from the sorcerer finishes the guard.
6. The cleric's Heal check provides some pretty obvious information: Campbell is near dead.
7. And now, he really is after another Scorching Ray from Shinta.

The room is just a complete wreck.  Dead guard, dead Campbell, alive vipers.  The cleric's brain has completely shut down from all the carnage, and that explains why she tells Shinta in her best Forrest Gump voice, "I may not be a smart cleric, Shinta, but I know where Lileth is."  Recovering her wits shortly after, she reminds herself that a Create Bleach spell might be useful in future for cleanups such as this one.  Shinta offers to summon little brown orcs that could do the scrub work as well.  Campbell's burnt corpse is then rolled into a carpet or curtain or capelet or some other fabric thing starting with the letter C. 

Kriskain casts Disguise Self and takes on the semblance of Campbell (pre-burn, of course).  At the turn of the key in the lock outside, Lileth becomes Fake Nadima once again.  And what happened to the guard on watch outside her room?  Who knows?  The notes sure don't either.  Let's assume he's visiting the little boy's room and has vacated his post.

Fake Nadima is pretty inquisitive once she's let out of the room.  She demands to know what has happened as they make their way back to the main chamber...there's no point in explaining, really, as she'll probably see for herself in moments.  Shinta, though, finds it hard to resist spinning another fabulous yarn about the "big fight that broke out and here's what happened..." and before Fake Nadima or Kriskain can say boo, Shinta casts another Fireball and splatters Truly Random Guard #435 guard against the newly-waterwashed wall.  

Fake Nadima is specchless at all the carnage (what's not washed away, that is).  The plan has gone dreadfully wrong, and there's only one thing left to do, really:

1. Search the rooms for any kind of apparatus for forging an official-looking document.  From Campbell.  In which he states that he is abandoning the people of Campbell Island for the love of Princess Nadima.  He states they will be happy and he implores the people to govern themselves in the way they see fit.

Well, okay...there's not just one thing to do, there's a few more...

2. Fake Nadima musses up the bedroom where she was being held captive, places the letter on a pillow along with the necklace she'd filched earlier from Nadima's chambers.
3. As the happy couple (and Shinta) troop down the hall, they bump into Food Guy...the steward that had been sent out a long time ago for sustenance.
4.  Fake Nadima just can't resist:

FN: Incline to me (to the food guy)
Food Guy glances at Campbell/Kriskain.
C: Yes (in deepest voice possible).
Food Guy: Okay.

The three fugitives continue to flee and make it to the boat docks.  Boatman waves and says, "L'Hal, Campbell!  What can we do for you?"  Fake Nadima interjects and exclaims that she and Campbell are in love and that they're running away.  She also instructs him to "ready the boat".  Campbell has gone no communicado, because once "he" speaks, the game is up.  It'll be Kriskain's voice they hear.

It is dusk by the time the trio makes it back to Quillan and Thieves' Isle.  There'll be no need for Shinta's wild story fabrications now.  In this case, the truth is far worse and contains a lot more burning.

Q: So, what happened?
K: Errr...erm.  Uh, well, Campbell is dead.
L: We've left a forged letter stating that he and the Princess have run off together, but...
S: It's possible they'll figure out it's a forgery.  Not to mention the dead bodies, and the charred skeleton that might resemble Campbell...
Q: Hmm.  Maybe this is our time to strike, then. 

Famous last words.  That, place to go but up, right?

End of Session.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Beneath Two Suns - Hangin' With Jeff, Todd, and Four Unnamed Centipedes

This lowly scribe hopes she can adequately capture the excitement of last evening’s D&D session.  It may be that we never have such action and intrigue…ever again.
As a reminder:
- Kriskain, a human cleric (Heather)
- Lileth Whisperwind, a half-elf hexblade (Emily)
- Shinta, a human sorcerer (Daniel)
- Dante, an elven ranger (Elliot)
- Abuther, a half-elf barbarian (Spencer)
All right, so when last we left off, this eclectic group of escaped slaves had decided to become mercenaries, hired by the House of Campbell to rescue some unnamed kidnapped woman, whom the party pretty much knows is Princess Nadima.  The coincidences are too many, and oh yeah, the DM slipped up and said something to the effect of, You’re going after the Princess. Oops.
But first, the party needs gear.  The DM has each character fill out their gear wish list, and then has them roll to see if they get the various items.  The dice is a particular she-devil for Kriskain the cleric as she rolls well enough to get her bag of caltrops, but NOT armor.  A similar thing happens to the hexblade, Lileth.  She’s able to summon back her familiar, a raven named Crowley, but she receives no armor as well.  Minutes later, though, Dante the Ranger, parades about in a nice new suit of studded leather.  Bastard. And remember Abuther the Barbarian’s looted suit of breastplate?  Yeah, the armorer guy asks Abuther to remove it and then promptly chucks it down the nearest empty well, reminding us all that metal armor is for nobility ONLY.  The barbarian grudgingly settles for a suit of hide.  The DM also appraises any loot the players took in their escape from the Estercari manor.  And then, time passes…
Botox, the Guy Who Seems To Know Stuff, is tracked down in the morning for information. 
Kriskain: So, what do we need to know here?
Botox: We have received word from another messenger that in fact the woman is being held here (pulls out a map), on Thieves’ Isle.  Certainly, they hold her with some nefarious purpose in mind (well, like we care about that, several of the players muse).
Then, it’s-load-up-the-boat-and-go-time.  OOG: Daniel informs us that Donald Trump ate at a restaurant in Pella, Iowa last night…and that he orders his steaks medium-well to well-done.  The general consensus is that any fool that orders his steak like that has no business running our country.  Back in game, Botox reminds the group they have roughly 24 hours to return to Campbell with the Princess. Emily points out at this point that this is our party’s stagé for the House of Campbell, as it were. 
Let’s get it on.
The boats arrive to the swampy wasteland island-place where Nadima reportedly is being held.  Lileth sends Crowley out on some recon, and he returns an hour or so later with news that a fortress is stationed in the northeast corner of the island, and that seems to be where most of the activity and people are.  From where the boats are, the distance equals about two miles.  So hi-ho-hi-ho off the party goes, in this order: Abuther, Dante, Lileth, Kriskain, Shinta.
1.     Spot check for Crowley the familiar about a half-mile into the trek: something in the trees up ahead.  Something, the raven reports, he’s never seen before.  But whatever it is, it’s got a lot of effing legs.
2.     Dante the Aged Elf does a Nature check and informs the group it is a creature called a Gutz (pronounced GOOTZ; a spider-like creature that usually intends to eat whatever humanoids cross his path).  So much for Lileth’s plan to skirt around the monstrosity.
3.     The Ranger then offers to shoot the gutz, and he is not turned down.
4.     The sorcerer goes invisible and strays closer to the tree where the spider is.
5.     Dante, with Rapid and Precise Shot, scores three great hits and the spider drops to the ground, dangerously close to the invisible Shinta, who then fires about four Magic Missiles into the spider body.
6.     The gutz manages to get to its ten legs and begins to advance on the party.
7.     Naturally, Abuther charges and attempts to Grapple (with the intent to body slam the large creature).  He fails and the spider flicks him off to the side.
8.     Dante plugs the gutz with three more arrows.  Which makes the poky-thing count at, like, six.
9.     Another character (Lileth, maybe?) charges the spider from behind and whiffs with his/her longsword entirely.
10. The gutz rears up and chases the barbarian, then completes a successful Grapple.  Two pincer stabs and one bite later, Abuther is down ten points and is also beginning to feel the numbing effects of spider-poison paralysis.
11. Lileth makes contact and manages to sever a spider leg.
12. Kriskain attempts a touch attack and fails.
13. Dante’s longbow rings true and that’s seven arrows in the gutz now.
14. Shinta’s Magic Missile hits cause wobbliness in the spider.
15. Lileth hacks off another leg.
16. Kriskain pulls off an amazing tuck and roll maneuver after fumbling a melee attack roll.
17. The spider appears to have had enough fun and begins to retreat, Abuther still in his grasp, up his tree.  Dante sticks one last magnificent arrow in the scampering spider, who falls backwards.  Abuther takes four points of I-broke-the-spider’s-death-fall damage.  And he’s still paralyzed, by the way, so major suckage all around for the barbarian.
18. Kriskain heals Abuther for 11 points and casts Remove Paralysis on him.  Abuther expresses no gratitude for any of this.  The cleric will remember that.
19. Lileth Searches the spider’s tree nest, sees the spider eggs, and promptly crushes them.
20. Worst Idea Ever: Fashion a suit from the spider’s skin.  No.
After a quick dinner of fruit and venison tacos (OOG), the adventure continues.  Dante’s elf-eyes see what look like submerged trees off in the distance.  Crowley is dispatched to investigate further.  Turns out they aren’t trees, they’re creatures, and as the party gets closer, Dante informs them they are weird hippopotamus-like things.  And they can talk too!
“Stop! Bad Man Things!” they shout at the advancing party. 
Kriskain informs them they mean the creatures no harm, they just wish to pass through.  Lileth suggests walking around them, and though the party is carefully watched by the hippos, nothing happens.  Another bunch of minutes later, the island-y-fortress place begins to come into view.  It’s time for some quiet reconnaissance and getting the lay of the land.  The party opts to Move Silently just off the edges of a worn trail…although the barbarian and cleric roll poorly and the others’ quiet movements are pointless, really. 
Another path is discovered, but no imminent danger exists so Lileth suggests getting on the trail.  Spot checks all around: the party spots a building up ahead, a castle-type structure with impressive stone walls, but a small, muddy stream breaks up the wall’s solid line.  And, here appears to be the adventurers’ entrance point, swimming their way up to and through the breach.  To use reeds for underwater breathing is contemplated, but the DM points out the water is only a couple of feet deep. So, no, not necessary.
However, Spot checks note guards pacing along the perimeter, not to mention there is another building, as glimpsed through the outer wall gap.  But before the group’s game plan solidifies, Shinta launches a Fireball into the right corner of the castle and the guards who watch there.  Dante releases a rain of arrows as well, and the rest of the party hightails it into the gap as these two things happen.  The sorcerer’s Fireball does 30 points of burn damage and Dante knocks out one of the guys on the ledge.  The rest of the party decides to run for the innermost structure, except for Kriskain who remains back, hidden by the wall.
Oh yeah, Spot checks show more guards along the far wall, and that there are stairs that lead from the upper walls to the ground level.  And hey, guards are scrambling down those stairs now towards the party.  Shinta goes invisible again and spots the door-entrance just around the corner, on what would be the east side of the building.  The guards near the flame-damaged tower begin to send arrows in the direction of the running interlopers, one clipping Dante in the leg.  Lileth takes four points of meaty shoulder damage from one such arrow.  All party members, though, advance easily to the gate and burst into what looks like a throne room.  About eight to ten unarmored guards notice their arrival and begin to charge.  A cage is suspended over a pit some many, many feet down the room…and the scribe will give one guess who’s in the cage?  The princess!  Also, another armor-clad figure sits on the throne, and because of the green-colored dice the DM has used to designate him, he is now knows as Greengo.
For the cleric, still outside, things have gotten rather fun:
1.     She casts Searing Light and obliterates the closest two guards (out of six) who have rushed down from the wall.
2.     She then Summons Monster: A Celestial BA Hippogriff.  A two-claw attack later, the number of pursuing guards is cut in half.
3.     The hippogriff’s massively sharp claws render another guard into another blood splatter.
4.     Kriskain now engages with her rapier and dagger and knocks another guard down.
5.     The hippogriff gets the final kill on the last standing guard, and bites the prone guard to death.  Both the cleric and hippogriff move in the direction their comrades went.
And back in the party-throne room…the action is just getting going.
1.     Abuther Rages and deals damage to a guard.
2.     Lileth engages with one and damages, but does not kill.
3.     Shinta (still invisible) Summons Monster – 4 Fiendish Centipedes, who promptly deal some small-scale bite damage (with poison, though)
4.     Dante fires an arrow across the room at the important-looking Greengo.
5.     Abuther rolls low, but still hits for 13 pts, while LIleth scores a crit on her person, dealing 10 points of damage.
6.     Shinta, after noting the ineffectualness of his centipedes, decides to attack with Scorching Rays after contemplating the usefulness of a Fireball.  The invisibility disappears.
7.     Dante sticks two more arrows into Greengo.
8.     The enemy fights back and deals out damage to Abuther.  Lileth manages to evade a two-guard attack (for the time being).
Essentially, there is a lot more cleaving, Scorching, and twanging of arrows that occur here.  Greengo takes 30 points of Scorching Ray damage from the sorcerer, prompting a WTF? from Shinta.  Lileth is slowly but surely feeling the pain as the two guards have redoubled their attack on her, and not one of her teammates has stepped in to assist…you know, besides the random arrow here or Scorching Ray there.  Kriskain and Todd the Hippogriff have chosen to remain outside for a couple of rounds.  The centipedes are meeting their untimely deaths as well.  And of course, throughout it all, is the Princess, in her cage above all the action, shrieking, “I’m so beautiful!  WHY ISN’T ANYONE LOOKING AT ME?” 
To answer her question, off the record, it’s probably because everyone’s looking at Greengo…and wondering – when the hell is this guy going to die?  Well, hey…Kriskain decides to enter the throne room, leaving Todd on watch outside.  And an excellent Spot check by the cleric allows her to suddenly see that Greengo = HER FATHER, Quillan.  Naturally, she rushes to him amid the chaos.
And then…
1.     Lileth is having tough times.  She’s now engaged with three guards, and doing rather well, all things considering.
2.     Abuther has moved to Greengo to continue hand-to-hand.
3.     Shinta has had ENOUGH, and launches a Fireball at the trio of Abuther, Greengo and Kriskain.  Abuther takes fire damage, Greengo falls, and Kriskain manages to avoid any mishap.
4.     With Greengo appearing to be down and out, and the other living/conscious guards dwindling in number, the attention of most of the party turns to the cage, the pit underneath, and a nasty smell that emanates from it. 
5.     Abuther spots a huge, eight-legged ferret looking creature (the size of a leopard) in the bottom and leaps in on top of it, shouting, “I will kill the beastie!”  Who, for some reason, is now named Jeff.  It should be mentioned here that Abuther’s Rage ceases in two rounds.  A which point, he will be majorly fatigued.  A DM’s dream come true.
Discussions continue elsewhere about the unconscious guy, who is being administered to by Kriskain, how to get the princess out of the cage, and the happenings in the pit.  Kriskain casts Cure Serious Wounds on her father, and the party notices he is now sitting up.  Shinta marvels at this and considers launching another Fireball, but does not.
6.     The pit creature, Jeff (DM informs party this creature is called a leem), claws at Abuther for 12 points.  Abuther strikes back for 15 points.
7.     Lileth and Shinta Search the bodies of the dead.
8.     Dante fires an arrow into the leem’s body, and then promptly decides “he’s out” and puts his bow away.
9.     Greengo/Quillan and Kriskain have some heart-to-heart, and Quillan tells Kriskain this is his lair.  Obviously, she’s still in shock over this whole thing and will have more questions.
10. The leem, Jeff, scores a critical on Abuther, and does 18 more points of damage.  The barbarian’s rage is over, and Abuther is now fatigued.
11. Abuther scores a couple of hits and Jeff is definitely staggering; however, Jeff knows the end is near and viciously swipes Abuther down to three whole hit points.  But finally, Abuther digs deep and pulls enough strength out of somewhere to score the final blow.
12. Oh yeah, the hippogriff outside?  Todd? He got plugged a few times with arrows before disappearing into the ether with a Poof!  If the guards’ alarm wasn’t raised before, it should be now.
13. And, Abuther weakly cuts open Jeff’s body, pulls out the heart, and holds it triumphantly in the air…probably seconds before he collaspes on top of it in sheer exhaustion.
The kills abounded aplenty for our valiant adventurers:
Abuther: 4 + a leem (single-handed, he would like you to know)
Kriskain and Todd: 6
Lileth: 4
Shinta: 3 and ¾ (Greengo would have counteed as four, but he was revived by the cleric)
Dante: 3 + a big-ass spider
Of course, things are far from over.  After all, the matter of Kriskain’s father must be resolved.  Is he the bad guy or what? ‘Tis a delicate matter.  Also, the party has the Princess (oh yeah, they cut down the cage and it landed on the already-dead leem), but they still need to escape the place…which will be swarming with guards soon, no doubt.  And it’s a long day’s night in Zenicce…there’s a lot of sunlight left to burn, a lot of lives to take, and maybe even a lot of life to lose.