the Goblin King and the Lord of Werewolves have renewed their ancient alliance beneath the Howling Tower;
and the secret treasury of the ancient Bronding Kings is said to lie somewhere behind the Brokenbrand Falls, haunted by enchanting naiads ...
5 December's roster:
Aethulwulf (paladin 2)
Little Bob (traveling-man 4)
Finbar (half-Elf druid 3)
Baby-Face (thief 4)
Lead (cleric 3)
Aria (Elf 1)
Koko (woman-ape 1)
and a veritable army of dogs and hirelings
With seven players, set-up took a good hour of crosstalk, dog-buying, and hireling-hiring. Baby-Face snapped up a unicorn horn and a Ring of Unseen Servant, as well as buying a couple dogs; his party alone was himself and seven hirelings/dogs. Lead hired the other available hireling, Aethelwulf acquired two of the dogs, and Aria nabbed the lone orc mastiff for sale.
Recalling the offer by Jaer the Windlord of a wish for the party if they could clear the Glimmervaults of the nuisance of orcs, the party naturally elected to head there.
On the way out, my dice indicated an attrition encounter of undead on the second night, and the party was able to drive them off using two flasks of holy water, one week of rations (got burned on the fire while driving the udead off), a use of turn undead by Lead, and Baby-Face took 6 damage, promptly healed by the cleric.
Nothing else accosted them, so as they drew near the northern entrances to the Glimmervaults, the party found a secluded copse in which to secret the wagon and horses they had acquired in town, guarded by one of Finbar's wolf friends and the hireling Freyja.
The entrances to the Glimmervaults are two: to the west, a stone grotto recessed into the slope of the hill at the back of which yawns a cave entrance; and to the east, a higher opening flanked by spears and spikes driven into the ground and onto which the heads of various humanoids--humans, Elves, and a surprising number of orcs--have been impaled. The party briefly considered taking some of the heads to inflate their "kills" in their report to Jaer, until they recalled that Kaaraak the eagle accompanies Aria, and that he might snitch. So instead, Baby-Face took but one moldering head and six functional spears.
They then entered into the eastern entrance and headed immediately east at the first "T", as that way was least explored by previous expeditions. Going east, they stumbled almost immediately into a chamber containing six orc guards only sleepily guarding; nevertheless, the size of the party made enough noise to alert the six, and those awake wakened their companions. They got one round of hurled missiles off at the party's advancing dogs, and then, seeing the number of intruders, took off to the east calling, Intruders! Intruders!
The party sicced their dogs and weasels on these six and also advanced right behind in pursuit. Three of the dogs dragged orcs down by their ankles and then savaged them to death, but the other three managed to get all the way into a large eastern chamber filled with fifteen orcs. The orcs had been in varying degrees of repose, but alerted by the shouting, they were all waking each other up and arming themselves. The party charged directly in, dogs out front, and just started cutting orcs down.
Despite old school combats being much quicker and smoother than Pathfinder or 5E combats, this was still a slog, given that there were seven players, most of them commanding several dogs or hirelings. I believe this is where one (or maybe two?) dog was killed, but I didn't scribble it in my notes, alas.
Altogether, the party overwhelmed the poor orcs (I should note, by the way, just to stave off any "orc baby" nonsense, that these were all adult male orc warriors--this whole outpost is a warparty outpost); after twelve of the eighteen had fallen, the remaining six orcs threw down their weapons and offered surrender, but the players' blood was up, and, ignoring the pleas of Aethulwulf for mercy for the orcs, the six surrendering orcs were cut down. All the orc heads were then gathered for presentation to Jaer, and the party discovered 200 gold scattered throughout the room.
Continuing south-east, the party decided not to investigate the corridor that smelled of shit, but elected to go south, which ultimately turned around to the west. They passed a chamber in which a beheaded orc was impaled on a spear and set up against the wall, and then heard chanting from a chamber further along. Finbar, using speak with animals asked one of the weasels to go check it out sneakily, but alas! the weasel did not do a good job of sneaking and quickly humped its way back to the party before the orcs in the chamber could attack it.
There was some dithering as to whether to oil the hallway and lure the orcs out into an inferno, or just to attack, but ultimately the party just charged on in. In this chamber, they found a great orc-captain leading a ritual sacrifice to Agrol Orc-Father, a great wooden idol crudely carved with a terrible grimace, its feet piled with heaps of skulls and broken weapons.
|But with a grimace, draped in snakeskins, and|
surrounded by skulls, broken spears and bent swords
There were nine other orcs accompanying this captain, and they were in wait for the party, and hurled missiles at them as the party's army poured into the chamber. A general melee then ensued. Much like the last battle, the dogs made short work of a number of orcs. Koko the woman-ape crushed one orc's face, but then, overeager, forced her way through the melee to the orc chief's side to attack him, and was herself cut down. But the orcs were overwhelmed; and in the chaos of the fight, Aethelwulf the paladin managed to work his way around and thrust his own sword through the orc chief's breast, silencing his battle cries forever.
From the orc chief were looted a large shield decorated with a red hawk and a waterfall sword (both likely magical), as well as three gems appraised by Aria to be worth 200 gold each. The party cut off and collected the orc heads, and then tore down the idol and dragged it bodily out of the dungeon. Having slain everything they encountered on the way in, there were no encounters on the way out, and outside, after hacking off the huge head of the idol with axes, they set the great idol alight in a huge bonfire.
They then returned to the copse, loaded their wagon with sacks of orc heads (thirty-two, plus the wooden idol's head), and made their way back to Brakeridge. On the return trip, a storm blew up on the first night, destroying a spear, ruining a week of rations, and blasting Lead for 8 damage (two dice). Then, slogging through the rain and the mud, poor Freyja was bitten by a viper on the last day, and succumbed to her wound.
At last returning to town, the party sold what they could, and agreed to spend the 300 gold Lailith asks of those seeking for a companion to be raised from the dead, and so Koko was returned to life, albeit at -1 intelligence from the lingering effects of the wound. Then Finbar and Baby-Face caroused, spreading the tales of their daring. Baby-Face in his drunken exuberance promised to adopt Hilda, a 10-year-old orphan girl hanging around the Black Dragon's Meed, and now she won't leave his side as he goes through town, she telling everyone how grateful she is to finally have someone to look after her again.
Remembrance for the Fallen
Freyja (normal woman), Nameless Dog (1 hp cur), Hot Dog (mastiff), Cross (mastiff), Orion II (lion dog), Bacon (boar hound), Tore (half-orc fighter 1/cleric 1), Jimmy the Snitch (dog), Orion (lion dog), Harambe (man-ape 1)
And for those Enchanted Away
Dol (fyrdman hireling)