The roster for the latest session of our open table, on 10th June:
Berg the Dwarf
Cnut the Fighter
Galen the Elf
Gene the Fighter
Gibbet the Thief
Gwynthor the Cleric
Karenza the Elf
Shazam the Elf (and Keith the Orc),
and joining us especially for this session, two new players with their PCs Brüna the Dwarf and Bunny the Halfling.
Maybe there will be some comment about over this at the Disoriented Ranger blog, because Brüna's player, in an amazing coming-from-a-foreign-country-to-play-games-with-you situation, was JensD of that very blog, who's been visiting the UK and made time to come to our open table. It was lovely to show Jens and his partner something of our city, and Mrs Orc and I hope they enjoyed being here as much as we enjoyed showing them around. Maybe we'll get to pay them a visit in the near future too.
The first thing the party did was try to return to the area of well-dressed stonework that they have recently been exploring. Unknown to them, one of the rooms that they had recently cleared, where the strange blobby creature lived in the dark, had been re-populated, by Orcs this time, as they seem to like to take over rooms in this area.
They managed to avoid too many wandering monsters on the way, the only disturbance being a crowd of bats that were agitated in the corridor. Something had disturbed them, though what that might be was not clear. The bats didn't really bother the PCs much, and the noise didn't summon any other monsters. The PCs have been bothered by enough bats to know they're a distraction and are best ignored. The worst they do is potentially cause enough noise that more wandering monsters might be summoned.
Having passed the place where the bats were, the PCs continued on to the spot where they'd fought some Orcs at the last session. The bodies were gone, seemingly having been dragged away, if the smears of black blood were any guide. Again, it wasn't clear what might have moved the bodies.
The octagonal room with the way down to the lower levels was as before - nothing has taken up residence there lately. The armoury room was also unchanged since 'yesterday'. Beyond that was a short corridor with a somewhat tricksy secret door. The party knows it's there, but it was closed, so I figured it's still invisible. There are 10 of them, and three of those are Elves, so rolling 7d6 trying to get a single 1 and 3d6 trying to score a 1 or 2, was bound to produce a result sooner or later, so they did find the secret door when Gene remembered it was the second brick over that needed to be pressed, not the third.
Opening the door, they discovered the room was still unnaturally dark. While hanging around trying to decide what to do, a guttural shout from inside alerted them to the presence of Orcs, who began shooting arrows at them.
Brüna set a flask of oil alight and tossed it into the room. It briefly illuminated some Orcs standing around. Brüna also asked one of the Elves to tell him some Orcish insults so he could shout at the enemy (he doesn't speak Orcish). A confused firefight ensued, with the Orcs shooting through the flames towards the door, and the party shooting into the room. trying to pick targets by the flickering firelight.
After a few rounds, where Karenza took an arrow (but didn't die), it was decided to charge the Orcs. The party definitely had the advantage as their better AC was turning the Orc attacks while their own attacks, though made into the low and flickering light, were taking a toll on the Orcish numbers. However, the Orcs passed a morale check and held firm. Bunny and Gibbet snuck in to find good firing positions as the rest of the party charged towards the now dying flames and engaged with the Orcs. The sudden charge and brutality of the assault, on top of the withering shooting, broke the Orcs' morale and persuaded them to surrender and throw down their weapons.
At this point the Orcs started trying to buy their lives with promises of treasure. The PCs decided to kill one of the Orcs to make sure the others knew they were serious. Gwynthor the Cleric dissented but he has a CHA of 3 so everyone is used to him being annoying and no-one took any notice. Brüna stabbed the Orc in the back of the neck as he was lying on the floor and the other Orcs, now deciding that they had no chance of surviving and were better off fighting for their lives, attempted to snatch up weapons and attack the PCs again. However, it didn't go well for the Orcs (they were lying on the floor, with weapons out of reach) and the party butchered them pretty quickly.
This was all too much for Keith, the charmed Orcish lantern-bearer. I figured that this was an event traumatic enough to give Keith a shot at throwing off the spell, and he did so. The result was that he remonstrated with his 'friend' Shazam asking how he could support murdering Keith's other friends after they'd surrendered. It seemed to be news to the party that these Orcs are from Keith's tribe. To be fair to Shazam, he'd taken no part in the butchery but he hadn't done much to stop it either. Keith anyway 'woke up' from his illusion that the PCs were his friends, threw his burning lantern at Bunny (it missed, smashing spectacularly on the wall near her), and launching an attack on Gwynthor (ironically one of the PCs not involved in the murder of prisoners, but Keith doesn't speak Common and Gwynthor soesn't speak Orcish) who was close by.
Keith fumbled his attack. There are no actual fumbles in my rules, a 1 is a 1 and a fail, a 20 is a 20 and generally a success, that's all, but given the darkness effect (not to mention Keith's blind rage) I decided that Keith's 1 should genuinely represent a catastrophic failure at this point, and he tripped over one of the corpses as he launched himself at Gwynthor, going sprawling at the latter's feet. Gwynthor decided, probably quite sensibly, that sitting on Keith's back was a viable way to keep him under control, while he called to Shazam to come and subdue Keith somehow. Deciding that disposing of Keith was the only option, Shazam killed his one-time 'friend' (dupe? pet? slave? I'm not sure really, Shazam did seem to have some sort of fondness for him) with a swift stab. That's how it goes sometimes.
Meanwhile, the rest of the PCs were looting the Orcs, snaring some money-pouches containing several hundred GPs and a couple of gems. This turned out to be a considerable haul in the end worth around 950GP. I don't make the party bargain for gems, I can't see the point. If the gems are worth 350GP they get 350GP. Turning treasure into GP to turn into XP is a tedious enough business without requiring them to constantly check their CHA against the Morale or Reaction Rating of a bunch of NPCs, in order to determine what percentage of the value they are given. If they want to up the 'town game' element they can, if they want they can spend their entire time buying and selling gems at the various establishments around town, but that really isn't D&D for me. D&D is fundamentally an exploration game, not a trading game. I'm sure there are other games with more advanced trading systems. But if the players want to do that they can - there is no 'wrong fun' so it's up to them. I don't think they want to at the moment. Kicking in doors and robbing monsters is more fun.
Having looted the Orcs, Brüna suggested nailing Orcs to things as a warning to others. He volunteered to attach various Orc corpses to some of the doors and weapon-stands in the armoury. The rest of the PCs agreed and gave him some iron spikes to help.
Moving on from the Orcs' room they came to the last room that they have already explored. This was a room with a large statue, where they had found a secret compartment at the previous session containing a treasure-chest. No treasure-chest this time but only because I remembered that they'd found it - I'd forgotten to cross it off my list. Must get better at that, in fact I might go and do the paperwork before I get any further with the write-up. That dungeon won't master itself, I have to accept! I may have some simple systems, but it isn't yet fully-automated.
So, I've done my paperwork. Next session is prepped. Back to the report...
Brüna, busy trying to attach Orc-corpses to things in the armoury, met a strange wood-like beast. I have an image of I am Groot in my mind that I now can't shake. The thing was a Wood Golem, but I'm not sure Brüna knows that, he's never met one before. It seemed to approve of Brüna's treatment of the Orcs, not to mention his own polite greeting to it, and his lack of hostile action. In the end it decided it would be friendly, but Brüna, his task done, left to find the rest of the party.
The rest of the party meanwhile were exploring the next room, which seemed to be a trap-room, with spikes and blades all over the place from rusted traps. None however appeared currently dangerous. The room also contained some doors. Gibbet listened at the closest and heard noises from behind it. The party opened the door, and yet more bats were the result. There was also an old campfire (with some cold rat on a stick) and some bed-rolls. Ignoring the bats (they're little more than room-dressing really), Bunny decided she would play up to a Halfling stereotype, and ate the rat-on-a-stick. There was also a leather satchel with cash in it. It seems that someone had left not only their dinner but their treasure in something of a hurry, in the relatively-recent past.
Brüna rejoined the party at this point, not realising that there was a large crowd of Fire Beetles on their tail. Seven of them had come along, perhaps summoned by the sound of the bats, perhaps following some other instinct, and the party decided to try to take them out.
In fact it was a short and bloody combat. Some good shooting by the party on the one hand, and some hand-to-hand work, left the Fire Beetles dead pretty quickly. I ruled that some had been killed so convincingly that their glow-glands were ruined; any beetle who took more than twice its hp in damage I reasoned had been pulverised rather than surgically dispatched, and I diced for a few others, so only 11 out a possible 21 glands were available in the end. These were collected for sale at 5GP a pop to Gisuintha, the MU back in the city who fancies herself as an Alchemist.
After this encounter, the PCs decided to be on their way rather than explore any further. They nearly made it back without incident too. However, they did run into a couple of Skeletons, but Gwynthor compelled them with the power of the Mighty Yrt, He Who Manifests in Pinecones (according to what we understand of Gwynthor's weird theology anyway), and the bony undead ones were backed the wrong way down a passage while the party made its way towards the exit, Gwynthor bringing up the rear in case of further undead harassment.
Scampering from the caves, the party made it back to town to divide up their hard-gained loot, and that was another session wrapped up...
I think that was pretty much what happened anyway!
EDIT: except I forgot possibly the most important part, at least as far as the long-term progression of the table, the campaign and the PCs go - Gibbet the Thief, who has attended approximately 8/11 sessions (it might be 9 I can't remember but I know he's missed 2-3 sessions) has now made it to the dizzying heights of Second Level! WHOO-HOO! (Cue: small fireworks, bunting, a marching band playing a stirring fanfare and speeches by civic dignitaries, before we all have cake.)