Who showed up?
- Fulvus, halfling
- Slick, thief
- Rondel, elf
- Orzu, gnome illusionist
- Random hangers-on
The remainder of the party assembled for breakfast at the Archer & Chariot, deciding what to do with their day. As they dawdled, Alanso Ngom, the Theocracy military leader walked by with his honor guard. He paused, greeting the party, then asking them more on their thoughts and experiences combatting the twisted Chaos forces in the wilderness. Alanso was concerned that the Tribunal would lean towards becoming insular, rather than pressing battle vs the evil. On the other hand, he still needed to hedge his forces. The Tribunal had received their patrol's report on the forces they encountered but Alanso was curious at to the enemy's motivations. Rondel revealed that he had a charmed individual, who the soldier may be interested in seeing. Rondel led Alanso to his room, where they met Toby, his lobster-claw hands, and his fervent belief in the Great Maker.
'Nuf said, Toby was taken to meet the remainder of the Tribunal. Likewise, they were taken aback by the presence and appearance of the mutant. Toby put on a good show. The Tribunal decided to meditate on witnessing this individual. The Tribunal declared that a Chaos mutant should not be free within the city's walls, charm notwithstanding. Toby was surrendered to the custody of the Theocracy (And Toby was never seen again...).
The party left the temple and found some meat on stick at a food cart. While snacking, they were approached by a friendly neighborhood urchin who invited them to meet with Brother Sigeric. Turns out, a job had manifested.
The brother greeted them kindly, and let them know that a job had come up. A couple of his scouts hadn't returned from investigating an old temple. One that he'd agreed to exchange favors with the head of the Merchant's Guild in trade for the idol of the merchant/messenger god, Combris, allegedly hidden there. Was the party up to the task?
Armed with a map and some intelligence on the location, as well as the halfling guard, Wene, who had decided to come along out of boredom, the party traipsed off to the temple location without incident (my dice let me down). Arriving at the location, they discovered several horses hidden in the brush. They immediately stole them and moved them. Someone must be there ahead of them.
They located the entrance, and crept in, confirming from footprints, that they were the second on site. Outside of a portcullis entry, they discovered a hapless thief stuck in a pit trap with a broken leg. He was one of Sigeric's scouts, abandoned by a panicked colleague. Yes, the other party had passed, using his cried for help as a warning to avoid said trap. Patching up the poor fellow and leaving him at the temple entrance with some food and drink, the entered the complex, puzzling they way past a pair of portcullis blocking the way.
Cautiously approaching the first turn in the corridor, they found a long, empty hallway with four doors. A couple appeared to have been recently jimmied, and the party scouted within. One held a sarcophagus, the other an abandoned shrine. Sarcophagus first. Wary of wights and such, Fulvus recommended cracking the lid open and stabbing blindly. As he worked the lid back and shoved his spear in, a skeletal hand reached up, grabbing the lid and forcing it open. Fulvus' hench Roderick attempted to push it closed, but was overpowered by the undead. The fight was on, with the party winning initiative and eventually putting the thing down without harm (damnit). As they paused, the door opened, and a companion to the fist undead entered. It swiped but missed and the party did their usual dogpile. Orzu blinded it with a light spell and Fulvus shattered the undead with a mighty leap and spear thrust. Orzu now had a commemorative lighted skull. They retrieved trinkets. Again, my dice let me down.
The old shrine was mostly cleared except for a few stone figures and an empty plinth. Or a mostly empty plinth. Slick found a secret compartment holding some additional loot.
The fourth room was empty, but showed damage or burrowing at the south end. Curious, Fulvus and Wene shimmied through to investigate. Fulvus spotted shadows and heard voices. He whispered to Wene to alert the crew and slipped farther through the opening. Wene warned the rest, and returned to creep into the fissure, Orzu in two. The three smallfolk found themselves in a partially-collapsed chamber, with torchlight playing over the debris mound. Fulvus attempted to get a closer look, but dislodged stones, warning the opposite party. A soldier clambered onto the debris, and came face-to-face with three short humanoids, as Fulvus and Wene attempted to gut him (missed). Orzu cast darkness over the area, and the soldier stumbled backyard, avoiding the assault. Panicked voices spilled from the dark, and the three party members beat feet back through the gap.
The competing party seemed to have the idol, and were several in number. Estimating the layout of the remained of the complex, the party set up an ambush at a corner, illuminating down the hallway with the tossed illuminated skull. They spread out along corridors and hidden in the side rooms. Wene and Fulvus, in the original fissure room, were surprised by someone creeping in via the gap. Wene suddenly collapsed, and Fulvus leapt after the intruder, winging him. Wene was found to be slept, and was shaken awake.
About this time, arrows flew up the corridor towards the party's henches, wounding one. Some fire was exchanged, and a sleep spell from Rondel. A voice at the opposite end called for parlay. Slick approached one edge of the light, his counterpart the other edge. They bantered back and forth for a bit on the retrieval and claimants on the idol. Suddenly, Slicks eyes went blank, and he agreed, yes, the other party should be allowed to pass safely. Other (surviving) members of the party recognized Slick as being charmed. In spite of attempts to use him as a human shield, and the casting of shield, several baddies were wounded in a hail of arrows. Orzu crafted his pièce de résistance, a greater phantasmal force opening up a gaping pit trap under several of the opposing party members (and Slick). The majority failed, the only outlier being the previously-wounded mage who had slept Wene. The incapacitated opponents were shanked, with only a couple of surviving mercenaries left standing. They were in the back, carrying the idol. They surrendered and were now porters.
The party went through everyone's pockets and returned to town.
Brother Sigeric had his idol, and one of his lost boys back. And was now aware that the head of the Merchant's Guild had attempted to double cross him. Could make for interesting times in the town of Opharel.
Well, that was fun.
Although I did have a more dramatic exit for Toby in mind, and forgot to run with it. I need to make notes of such things when I think of them, rather than relying on my mind in the heat of play. The original would have illustrated a bit more of the Theocracy, as well.
The exploration space for the "job" was built from this little beauty.
Damnit, they keep killing my monsters. I realize that I did not play the undead (in room 8, above) as well as I could, even with the initiative roll against me. So I neglected to use her spell effect that could have neutralized a few of the party members. They would have still persevered, but the contest with the two undead would have been more fraught. I do need to continue to improve playing my opponents smart/well, as well as building encounters that will challenge my party. They never like magic cast against them, so that's good to note.
Because of the snooping and early encounter of the foes via the gap between rooms 4 and 5, the party didn't encounter a couple of the hazards. And the battle arrayed in a bit different form. I suspected that would happen, so was able to play through the scenario of the rapidly-degrading standoff. That worked well, and everyone had a moment to shine in their various roles.
Now that the scenario had a run-through, I can tweak a few of the encounters and situations to increase the challenge and hazards a bit. It will be a better product for the play. Revised version for public consumption here.
And my dice let me down. Back to the party-hating set.