[22 Tarsakh 1372]
From his hidden position behind a tree, Nakor sees a
bandit trying to surreptiously come around the hill. Before long, it becomes
clear that the bandit has an unseen ally who has picked up the group's trail.
Nakor begins to carefully move away from the hill and towards his companions,
who have gathered about a half-mile away. They decide to set up in a
defensive position on a hilltop, but, after a few hours have passed, conclude
that the bandits have decided against sortying out. Markus sends his snake
familiar to investigate
the escape tunnel; the snake comes back covered in
oil, having fortunately evaded a cunning fire trap. The group discusses what
to do, with Mellia arguing that, with the element of surprise lost, it would
be better to instead march west and attack the other bandit encampment.
However, the majority agrees that it would be best to simply set up camp for
the night and attack the cave early in the morning.
During the night,
the heavy snowfall begins to recede. The group sets a double watch, and their
sentinels are startled by the appearance of a small herd of brantas. Fearing
the large hooved animals could charge and trample them, Mellia casts a
magical spell that creates a loud noise to scare them away.
In the early morning hours before sunrise, the group puts a plan
into motion. Ellywick sneaks up to the rear of the bandit's cave and sets
the oil-covered tunnel on fire. Meanwhile, the other members of the group
have worked their way around to the front and hidden themselves in the sparse
treeline. Seeing the smoke from Ellywick's action, they move forward towards
the cave opening. A huge, greasy, smelly ogre stumbles out, awakened by
shouting from inside the cave. As missiles launched by the group sink
harmlessly into the ogre's thick hide armor, Mellia tries once, and then
twice, to lull the dim-witted creature into somnolence with Slumber of the
Innocent. The spells finally take effect, and the ogre slumps to the ground.
With the first swing of his new masterwork greataxe, Fargrim decapitates the
Advancing inside the cave, the group follows a narrow tunnel that
soon opens into a larger cavern. A crude stone wall, four feet high, cuts the
chamber in two, and behind the wall are bandits with shortbows and swords.
Fargrim charges to an opening in the wall and soon dispatches one of the
bandits, and then
smashes in the skull of another whose blade has been
expertly disarmed by Markus. Cain summons magical flaming spheres, but the
bandits manage to evade them. Ellywick arrives on the scene, but the battle
is nearing its end. Nakor swallows a magical potion that increases his
leaping ability, and he scales the
stone wall with a single bound to land in
the middle of the surviving bandits. Soon, one bandit has fled down a tunnel
on the far side of the cavern, one tries to escape towards the cave entrance
but is stymied by Cain and Mellia, and a third, badly injured, pleads for his
Marcus dashes off after the first bandit, but finds himself the
target of a volley of arrows from another group of bandits who have taken up
defensive positions in a room with a large table full of loot and slave-cages
along the walls. He quickly retreats back towards the others. Cain and Mellia
have little difficult convincing their captured bandit to surrender, and they
extract from him both a rough map of the tunnel network and his coin-purse.
Fargrim, on the other hand, cruelly slaughters the helpless bandit in front
Director's Commentary (July 30, 2013)
A combat-heavy session. Markus' familiar was quite lucky to evade detection, as otherwise it would have gone up in flames (and then it wouldn't have been around later to pull a worm from his brain; we'll save that story for another day!). I think I might have been a bit more charitable then the rules provided early on with how much familiars could communicate. As an aside, I haven't been particularly impressed with how familiars function in D&D 3.5--they almost alway stay hidden because they're so vulnerable and it's hard to role-play them effectively because of their limited communication ability early on (and it's tough to personify an animal), so mostly they just end up being a bit of a stat boost to sorcerers and wizards. It's something I'd like to think about how to improve for future campaigns.
My fearsome ogre ended up being dropped by a Sleep spell. The Wife, playing Mellia, has remarked once or twice how the players always give Fargrim the glory for decapitating the creature, when it was her character who rendered it helpless in the first place.
The PCs handled the first group of bandits without much difficulty. The captured bandit would become a fun, minor NPC by the name of Trigonnis. Trigonnis considered the adventurers just another group of bandits, but was happy to join up once they promised to spare his life in exchange for information. He was never quite trusted, however, and some sessions down the line was unceremoniously abandoned by the party without even a good-bye note!