Our group continues to swell to truly grand old school proportions, allowing for treks into more dangerous dungeons. And we may be getting another player for our next session. If everyone shows up, there could be as many as 8 people plus myself.
While not a lot got done, a lot happened in our last session. In some ways, it was a bit of a filler, allowing for the results of their previous mission to play out while establishing a few new hooks.
When your base is a town near an old ruined fortress, the old ruined fortress is the obvious first place to look or kill time when you’re waiting for the story to catch up with you. I bungled a previous attempt to visit the Old Island Fortress, and forced the players back, mostly because I didn’t want my (then only 2) PCs torn apart as soon as they set foot inside. So now, with greater numbers, and a week of preparation, the heroes were ready to set out.
Although I granted that the party, the initial two players in particular, who had more money than everyone else, had made preparation, and could therefore say “We bought a boat”, they decided to make a swim for it and carry a rope across the river. As they approached, they saw a few of the barges from Stull floating down the river past where they normally disembark, carrying persons, yet unguided. The first had 3 zombies on it, the second, which would crash on shore later, had a survivor on it who had lost his pole and been drifting down the river for quite some time.
We had a new player who was playing an orc. He was going to swim to the other side, however when the cleric gave him the rope to carry to the other side, much to the bafflement of the entire party, he chose not to grab it and kept swimming. And started to drown. The cleric of St. Cuthbert went in after him, and only through the divine intervention of the Saint in the form of a White Otter, did the orc survive. The two dragged up onto the other shore, where the zombies were milling about. The cleric managed to turn them all, so after the rest of the party made their way across the river, they took their time killing the undead and getting what they could out of the rambling survivor.
The party explored the island thoroughly, hiding both the goblin and orcish canoes they found on the far side. In the dungeon itself, they went west from the main entrance; the fighter fell in the first pit trap, and a battle royale ensued in the cramped corridor between the party, the wolves, and the stirges. After being battered a bit, the cleric held up the light while the goblin/thief smashed the stirge nests and the baby stirges within. And then spent a half hour digging through stirge crap to find all kinds of treasure.
With the healer and the fighters hurt, the party decided it was better to take what they found and go back to town. The cleric and fighter will probably turn over the elven statue they found to their patron, and maybe get a bit of information out of it.
In my emailed downtime, I’m going to send them some more info on Stull and the undead who plague it. As fun as it is to run some high encounter forays, i’d like to get the story on the road, and Stull will tie in better and maybe give the players some more interaction with some NPCs. One of the problems we have is that with only about 3 hours to game, including eating and table talk time, it leaves very little time to run downtime in town. While I don’t mind doing stuff by email, I’d like to do some face to face, too.
The real interesting thing that happened here is that the party almost stumbled upon an event going on: one tribe of goblins was trying to take the old fort from another tribe, and the group of orcs the original players met in the first session were there, too, hired as mercenaries. Of course they never found it, and went back to town… with the orcs’ canoes. So, depending on how long the party hangs around in town and whether they go straight back or decide to check out Stull, I’ll have to figure out how things played out in the Old Fortress. I might be playing the dungeon against itself later this week to determine the outcome of the Goblin tribes’ conflict.
One last thing: it has not come up yet that the magic mace the thief found in the quarters of Nuromen’s priest and has been using is cursed. Why? Because I’ve determined that the goblin thief is evil and therefore not subject to the damage it would do to good characters trying to use it.