Smugglers of Kristophan

Treasure Island part 5

Our fearless scoundrels continued their descent in to the abyss… okay into the cave. The cave is filled with glowing mushrooms providing dim light. Sadly most of our party needs light to to see, so Gay’lord provided light on Tatsu Lung’s shield. A short distance into the cave we noticed what we at first thought was Bruce Banner. Upon closer inspection we realized it was indeed Bruce Wayne or some other sort of big bat. Vra’uul decided to try his hand at being a rogue and snook into the cave past the first bat. We all thought he did a great job… sadly the bats thought he failed, so they decided to attack completely unprovoked (we would never hurt any harmless creatures).

While the bats were making quick work of themselves against the daggers and axes and such, it suddenly got even darker and the fray was joined by 2 Shadow Hounds who quickly made themselves look foolish by biting at butterflies and apparently their own tails, while in the vicinity of Bobilius. The shadow beasties really started to show some promise though when a few bizarro halflings showed up and decided to darken the place up a bit. Gigantus Brutalis achieved new heights of adequatulance as he stayed alive and inflicted moderate amounts of damage on those within his reach. Slowly but surely we reduced the numbers of our enemies until, at last, they remembered that they were late for a meeting or something and scurried away.

After they left, we found some Raven Queen worshipers who had been chained together and killed next to an evil altar. While Tatsu Lung was sending the souls onto the great beyond with some help from Vra’uul, a few other party members destroyed the alter and were rewarded by finding some gems. We pressed forward (not backward, backward, not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!). Further on down the cave, we were stopped by a big door. Said big door had holes for both talking and poking. We tried talking first and hoped that we would not be answered with poking.

Behind the big door, we chatted with a group of Raven Queen worshipers, who lived down there. Since we intended to simply search for treasure, we thought we ought to try and get through the big door to either rest (in the case that the Raven Queen worshipers would be friendly), or loot (in the case… not friendly). Of course, they wanted to know who we were, why we were there, and how we got there, before they would consider letting us in to their fair underground city. Vra’uul thought it would be funny to tell them we arrived via falling into a big hole. It was funny to our group, but the Goth guards bought it! They seemed amicable and although they kept a guard with us at first, seemed to be good freaks, errr people. We stayed with them through the night to rest and bandage our physical wounds. Our mental and spiritual wounds were healed by the nice Paladin Tatsu telling us we were all good enough, smart enough, and dog-gone-it, the Goths liked us!

After a rest, we inquired about the presence of any large, dangerous creatures that we should be aware of and/or kill and loot their lair. Well what do you know!!! There was in fact, a young dragon nearby! How do you like them apples? The Goths made a deal with us – they would show us where the dragon and it’s lair was, as well as provide us with a +9 dagger of dragonslaying if we went there – if we would also help to kill some Kruthliks or Kithkruks or Krucklekrithies (whatever the rock-burrowing spider things are). We learned they have chitinous exoskeletons.

Of course we would be glad to assist them in their plight.

MNP: Tatsu for taking the damage that would have killed Mungus.

Treasure Island part 4

After taking an extended rest to recover their strength and renew their souls (what is left of them anyway) the party continued to explore the dungeon. Tatsu Lung took point and made an excellent minesweeper as he walked headlong into a gelatinous cube and was enveloped. Of course, to Otto (who is generally accustomed to booze-induced sights of the sort) it appeared somewhat as if Tatsu Lung had merely learned how to defy gravity. Otto, noting his uncharacteristic soberness in this case, announced that something strange was happening, but before the matter could be properly discussed in committee the cube oozed near and enveloped him too. As the rest of the party came to investigate, the enveloped and slowly digesting members of the party managed to free themselves from the cube, making room for others to be enveloped. Long story short, the gelatinous cube was defeated after sliming several of the party in a satisfying manner.

A corner of the chamber that the cube had been lurking in was crumbled away, a cavernous tunnel beckoning the explorers to enter. Not wanting to live in the past or think about the present, the party made for the opening. However, Gaylord Anaxarchus, drawing on his dungeoneering expertise, noticed that the previous dungeon levels had shared the same layout, but this level appeared to be missing a room. Tatsu Lung belatedly made it known that he also had noticed that and the rogues in the party quickly discovered a secret door. After a bit of effort getting the decrepit portal to open, the party was rewarded with an Ochre Jelly. The large ooze didn’t cause much harm, but took quite a bit of effort for the fumbling party to defeat (especially once it split into four smaller oozes). Once this second and hopefully last oozing opponent was disposed of, the party was pleased to find a stash of magical-type items in what appeared to have been a panic room of sorts for the keep.

Wiping themselves clean of ooze, the party proceeded to explore the tunnel discovered by the gelatinous cube. It didn’t take long before they found themselves impeded by a chasm about 10 feet wide and of uncertain depth. To complicate matters, the ground leading up to the edge of the chasm was slick with cave slime. Using safety ropes, the party leapt over the chasm one by one, some more elegantly than others (with Bobilius Phett’s being the most elegant of all) until it came to the final crossing. Tatsu Lung slowly eased himself past the slippery terrain to stand on the edge of the chasm and prepared himself to leap across with aid from a jump spell cast on him by Gaylord Anaxarchus. Unfortunately, his feet slipped out from under him as he pushed off, catching the rest of the party off guard (with the exception of the anonymous dwarf that had joined us that luckily had joined us that evening). As Tatsu Lung disappeared into the chasm, the other party members felt the rope slip out of their hands and the dwarf (the only one with a firm grip) was promptly pulled to the ground and dragged towards the chasm. Adrenaline kicked in and the dumbfounded party rushed forward and piled onto the dwarf to keep him from falling in to the chasm with the dragonborn meatshield. Successfully anchoring their end of the rope, all Tatsu Lung had to worry about was the jagged rocks that hit his face with their jags as he swung into the wall of the chasm. The party recovered quickly, and pulled Tatsu Lung up to rejoin the group, and there was much rejoicing.

Having crossed the gorge of eternal peril, the party made their way through the caverns and presently happened upon the lair of a couple of Otyugh’s and a pair of Carrion Crawlers. As they engaged the onerous and odorous creatures, a Blade Spider attacked from behind (assumably coming from the gorge of eternal peril). Lucky for the party the monsters were not at the top of their game and fell without much of a fight (except the Blade Spider which retreated). After the melee, the party retreated in the tunnel for an extended rest. They awoke to find most of the anonymous dwarf (who apparently had the last watch) missing. It is assumed the Blade Spider returned with a taste for dwarf. Funny enough, being eaten by a giant spider isn’t the worst way to go in this world. After a few moments of silence, the party returned to the treasure hunt.

Treasure Island part 3
Assault on the keep (conclusion):

As the party clears the first tier (the lower, “outer” wall) and prepares to climb to the second tier (the higher, “inner” wall), the kobold high wyrmpriest flees into the western tower and barricades the door behind him. Gigantus Brutalis and Gaylord Anaxarchus climb down into the courtyard to make sure it’s clear while the rest of the party climbs to the second tier. After receiving some help up from Bobilius Phett, Tatsu Lung is able to displace the barricaded door with one mighty kick. Mungus chases the remaining wall defender around the upper wall as the rest of the party enters the western tower. As Tatsu Lung and Vra’uul descend the west tower to find another barricaded door, which Tatsu Lung again opens with another forceful kick, Bobilius Phett heads into the eastern tower. Just after arriving in the eastern tower the kobold that Mungus was chasing burst through the door opposite Bobilius Phett, and seeing the intimidating form of the half-elf cleric started running down the spiral staircase. Not wanting to allow the kobold to reinforce the others Bobilius Phett heroically leapt from the balcony down to the stairs opposite the kobold. Heroically landing poorly he sprained his ankle, but is now in a position to strike at the fleeing kobold and strike he does scoring a critical hit with a lance of faith killing the whelp and sending it’s body tumbling down the remainder of the stairwell. As the party begins to congregate in the upper courtyard it seem empty so they start searching the buildings to find the kobold leaders. As luck would have it the first room they check is the commander’s quarters and he has pulled all the remaining kobolds in to protect him. Tatsu Lung takes advantage of the tight quarters to use his breath weapon, filling the room with an acid spray. Some of the kobold defenders try and attack Tatsu Lung but are unable to muster the grumbas necessary. Slowly the party forces it’s way into the room. The kobolds seem out of sorts and inept as they fail to defend themselves and their leader from swift destruction. After the battle is over the party searches the remaining rooms only to find them mostly empty of anything worth looting. Behind one of the doors is a stairway leading down below the crumbling keep. In the commanders room a hidden lockbox is found under the commanders bed. After disarming and unlocking it Mungus finds 3 platinum and a gem. He treacherously palms one of the platinum before he passes the rest over to the party. After the area is secure the party returns to the courtyard to take a short break before descending down the stairwell.

Into the darkness:

Once rested the party cautiously descends the stairs to find what the kobolds where willing to risk their lives defending. The first landing offers a door and another stairwell continuing farther down. The party quickly checks the second stairwell only to find a door at the bottom locked and barricaded with additional debris piled in front of it to keep it from being opened. The party investigates the first door, finding what used to be a wine cellar and a cold room with several chunks of meat, some even humanoid, hanging in it. The kobolds are using the wine cellar to store firewood but luckily, none of it is flaming. Returning to the second door the party clears the debris, unlocks the door and slowly enters. They hear talking from down the hallway. Upon more careful listening Vra’uul is able to determine that the language is draconic and they are speaking of the great war between the dragonborn and the tieflings of centuries ago but they are discussing it like it’s currently happening. The party decides to send Tatsu Lung first since it seemed likely that this area was controlled by the dragonborn at the time (plus, it might be dangerous). Tatsu Lung, Bobilius Phett and Gaylord Anaxarchus enter what appears to be a holding area with crumbling holding cells on either side. There are two dragonborn ghosts there who plead their innocence and bemoan the horrors of torture on “the table”. The rest of the party approaches a doorway at the opposite end of the hallway. As Mungus prepares to check for traps Vra’uul brazenly opens the door and steps in. In the center of the small room they see an old, rotting torture table and once the door is opened the ghosts start bemoaning their ill fortune even more. Suddenly three wraiths phase in from the walls assaulting Vra’uul, causing him great harm and even somehow persuading him to try and kick Mungus. After Vra’uul’s thrashing, Gigantus Brutalis tries to run into the room and leap onto the table, which he does, but fails to land on his feet. Also by doing so, he opens himself up to several attacks from the wraiths who pummel him, though not quite as brutally as Vra’uul. As the part starts to shift towards the torture room the strongest wraith phases over near the stairwell slowing down the rest of the party with it’s aura of mad whispers. everyone is able to shuffle enough to allow Bobilius Phett to get into position and cast turn undead which is successful at pushing away the wraiths for a round allowing the party a chance to get better positioned and heal up a little bit. Tatsu Lung takes advantage of the break to smash the torture table and in so doing releases the ghosts from their tortured undead state. When the wraiths return the party is better prepared and is able to defeat them.
With the wraiths defeated Vra’uul takes a moment to scream in pain and horror like Guy Fleegman which is a surprising departure from his usual demeanor

Treasure Island part 2

The first ambush laid by the party had been a success, but now the kobolds were aware of their presence (thanks to escaped survivors). Since the group had used expended most of their daily resources in the ambush, and had little to no chance of intercepting the survivors before they returned to the keep, the party discussed options. Another ambush (hopefully after the group had been able to rest) was planned.

As final preparations were being made at the ambush site (intended to trick the kobolds into thinking they had caught the party unaware at their camp site), Mungus heard something in the trees. The party went silent for a bit as everyone listened and watched for trouble. After a short while, Mungus thought he heard whatever it was stealthily moving away from the camp. After a brief discussion of what to do about it, a couple of small tweaks were made to for the ambush, then the party waited once again for the enemy’s approach.

Eventually they heard what they had been patiently waiting for. Though too dark to see clearly, a troop of about 20 kobolds approached the camp cautiously. Once they were close enough, Mungus lit a sunrod to light the battlefield and signal everyone to action. After a small delay, the hidden party members sprang forth and chaos took over the battlefield and the party began systematically exterminating the obviously terrified but determined kobolds. When only a handful of kobolds remained a few newcomers emerged from the woods. These slyblade kobolds used dual short swords to devastating effect and had they arrive earlier, likely would have turned the tide of the battle against the party. Due to their lateness, however, the party was bloodied, but not beaten by their onslaught and once they were able to form a cohesive defense against the slyblades, the threat was quickly eliminated.

Now being twice successful in ambushing the kobolds, the party concluded that the remaining garrison in the keep should be small enough to mount a direct assault. While the party rested, they discussed strategy. Eventually a strategy was agreed on and preparations were made. Before storming the keep, the group decided to allow the kobolds a chance to surrender the keep peacefully. The offer was rejected by the High Wyrmpriest that seemed to be in charge.

Charging a corner of the keep, a few party members focused on ranged attacks to incapacitate the slingers and minions manning the battlements. Meanwhile, Otto scaled the walls using his boots of spider climb and Vra’uul teleported nearby. Both carried with them grappling hooks which they quickly secured to allow the rest of the party to (sometimes clumsily) climb the walls as well. The storming of the keep then began in earnest. Resistance was relatively light (the previous ambushed had obviously taken their toll). The party split up to sweep the first section of wall clean and attempt to breach the higher “inner” wall. Kobolds dropped one by one as the party withstood a hail of sling bullets, javelins and fire orbs cast at them. Tatsu Lung was having the most trouble bringing his power to bear as his attempts to engage the enemy in melee combat were continuously delayed (first by a rusted iron door, then by a kobold cutting the rope he was about to climb to the inner wall). Even so, the kobolds seem outmatched, though we won’t know for certain until the exciting conclusion….dun dun dun

Treasure Island part 1

Having accomplished their mission and become heros (of a sort) the party took a complimentary boat ride back to Kristophan. A meeting with Diogenes improved relations and a deal was worked out to allow the party to take control of the Aboleth is Pants. After allowing time for the old crew to be reassigned, the party went to the docks to take command of the ship. Waiting for them was a tiefling (Archimedes) and a drow (Vasa), agents of Diogenes sent to represent him on the ship. The meeting almost became violent due to a misunderstanding and personality conflicts (to put it mildly). A small delegation decided to return to Diogenes to clear up the matter. The matter was cleared up, though a 500 gp deposit was required to reassure Diogenes of the party’s commitment.

With ship in hand the party now had to decide what to do with it. The only lead in their possession was the treasure map they had found in the goblin camp near Rogarsheim. Destiny called, and the party answered. With some fresh supplies aboard, the Aboleth is Pants set sail for the island of Fedron. Not long after leaving sight of Kristophan a larger ship began pursuit. While many party members were on deck, no one really seemed to notice until the presumably hostile ship was dangerously close. The alarm was raised and the Aboleth is Pants began evasive maneuvers. After gaining a bit of distance, disaster struck as Tatsu Lung tripped on Vra’uul’s tail while donning his armor. Both reacted poorly to the collision and quickly fell off the edge of the narrow deck, luckily becoming entangled in some conveniently placed ropes. Gigantus Brutalis and Otto sprung to the rescue, grabbing the ropes before they went overboard as well and attempting to haul the clumsy fools back aboard. Bobilius Phett Took the wheel (which had been Vra’uul’s station) and ordered some of the minions to take over for party members who were now otherwise engaged.

The now almost-for-certain pirate ship made some gains on the Aboleth is Pants in the confusion, but were still just outside bow range. Gigantus Brutalis proved he deserved his title as champion of the potato festival by pulling Vra’uul back on board, then helping Otto to bring Tatsu Lung back on board as well. With the everyone back on deck, the Aboleth is Pants began to pull ahead once again… until Mungus managed to break an important rope, causing the ship to become more difficult to manage for everyone. Again the pirate ship gained on the Aboleth is Pants this time getting close enough to riddle Vra’uul with a few arrows. Eventually the three stooges syndrome abated and the Aboleth is Pants broke away enough that the pirates ceased pursuit. The party’s goal of impressing Archimedes that the ship was in good hands was not progressing well.

Proceeding to the island of Fedron The party docked at a primitive Lizardfolk village. After discussing the treasure map somewhat with the tribal leaders, the tribe mystic sought counsel from their god. The mystic then told the party that they believed that they knew the creature referred to on the map. They didn’t fear it because their god protected them. The party was directed to a Kobold stronghold, who apparently served the creature in question. A lizardfolk hunter accompanied the party as a guide. Archimedes was not about to leave the Aboleth is Pants docked and relatively defenseless while the party went adventuring. He decided to take the ship to Takaluras and check in with some contacts of his, promising to return to the island every so often to see if the party had returned (for as long as a month, when their rent ran out). Vasa was to accompany the party as an observer.

Along the way the party was ambushed by a couple of Vine Horrors, a Shambling Mound and a Crushgrip Constrictor. Luckily the creatures were not working together, and their arrival to the battle was staggered such that the party made relatively easy work of them (well, plus they accidentally countered the regeneration ability of the Shambling Mound, as well as a couple of other beneficial twists of fortune).

Before long their guide informed the group that they were near to their destination. Pointing them in the right way, he departed in a way suitable for his particular idiom. The party dispatched their scouts to investigate and they found an ancient keep which had been occupied by the Kobolds. The keep showed it’s age (rusted portcullis, a large breach in the stone wall) but the Kobolds had compensated for these damages somewhat by blocking the front gate with debris and building a short (10 ft. tall) wooden gate in the wall breach. After spending some time on a stakeout it was determined that the keep was occupied by more than 50 kobolds. A patrol pattern was also determined. Armed with this information, an ambush was planned…

Setting the trap around one of the kobolds’ own animal traps, the intent was to draw as many kobolds into a kill zone where they could be surrounded by the party. With Tatsu Lung acting as live bait the plan was somewhat successful, drawing off a half dozen kobolds and a mounted rage drake into the kill zone. The rest of the patrol held position in a surprisingly disciplined manner, their slingers taking long range shots at Tatsu Lung. When it became clear that the kobolds were as committed as they would be, the party sprang forth from hiding and attacked. A hard fought battle ensued but the party emerged triumphant. A few of the kobolds managed to scamper off to tell the tale and fight another day. Now that the kobold garrison has taken a significant loss, it is up to the party to decide what move to make next (or wait for the kobolds to make a move).

Meeting Baraata 4

Now that we’ve got some idea of the puzzle game and some theories of the pattern of when we get attacked, we gained a bit of confidence. Considering the result of our first couple of attempts to solve the puzzle, it became obvious that should we find two more different colored rings, those would be rings necessary to solve the puzzle. There were 2 obvious places we had not explored to that point – the fire area, and the tower.
We headed up into the tower, cautiously. In it’s base, we found a large open area which could be fairly easily defended, thanks to only 1 ground entrance. If we needed to take an extended rest, this would be the place. There was a circular staircase going up. At the top, we found a large cauldron with some sort of bubbling red goo in it. Gaylord bravely stuck his arm in, after Tatsu stuck his sword in with no ill effects. Feeling around the bottom, Gaylord found another hand hole, this one produced a red glass ring. Although the goo did not cause any discomfort, it was messy.
As one member of the party was a specialist with fire, we proceeded without hesitation to the area perpetually engulfed in flame. Vra’uul darted into the trap to the bookcase on the other side. Finding it to be an illusion similar to the one next to the leopluridon, he discovered the hand hole and retrieved 2 rings. After gaining a dozen rings between the different party members, we became nervous with the lack of attacks. Unfortunately for us, we could hear enemies moving around by us, so we knew that sooner or later, we would be attacked by a significant force.
It finally happened as we made our way back to the game board. From 2 different places, over a dozen orcs came out from their holding areas outside the pit and rushed us. We were not completely unprepared for an attack but they attacked us when we were in a fairly indefensible area of limited mobility. We had ended up along side of a wall, so at least we did not generally have to worry about being flanked. Otto was knocked unconscious within moments which opened up a new avenue of attack for the orcs. We fought a bit desperately and eventually formed a line which enabled us to revive Otto. Finally, after taking a lot of damage, we cut the last of them down.
Being unable to survive another moderate encounter, we had to rest and recover in the tower. The Big Show’s audience seemed to be pleased with our performance so far.
After resting for many hours, we went back to the game board to try our luck again. We had collected enough rings for a couple of attempts to narrow down which colors were needed to solve the puzzle. Baraata rewarded our successes, as promised, with magical items (taken from some of our wish lists). After discovering all 4 correct colors, we had to brave the wiles of the game once more to collect more rings we needed to continue the game. Collecting the rings was easy, but when we got back to the game board, 3 Ghouls snuck up on us and attacked from behind! They had the nasty habit of immobilizing us with their attacks, but in the end, they were more an annoyance to our quest than an actual hindrance.
With knowledge of the 4 correct colors, it became a simple exercise in logical deduction (based on Baraata’s feedback of magical item distribution). We solved the puzzle in 5 total tries, much to the dismay of many of the audience members. However, most of them cheered our success as it mirrored their own – if they were wise enough to bet on us, the winners!
Baraata was very pleased with our skill and intrepidity and invited us to return when we had more experience. Oh the rewards he would give us… We accepted both his money and his treasures as payment for our deed and for the genealogical documents we had delivered the day before. With treasure in hand, we set off to stake our claim to Diogenes’ ship.

Meeting Baraata 3 part 2

After bandaging minor wounds sustained from getting shoved into the pit, we took a few moments to cautiously explore our immediate surroundings. The closest interesting bit of terrain was a 4×10 grid of openings in the stone, each space looking like it would fit a hand (with all fingers extended). Off to the right was a round space marked by different colored stone which encircled a bunch of pillows. Directly in front of us, we could see some walled-off areas with large metal doors. At the back of the pit, on the left side, was a two-story tower, the top of which was at the same level as the ground above the pit.

A few feet from the pillow area, we discovered a small pool of water, about 3 feet deep, with something at the bottom. Being the cautious adventurers we are, it was decided that we put Gigantus in a harness and lower him into the pool so that we could inspect what was at the bottom without actually getting too close to the pool. Gigantus described the area as being similar to the holes in the 4×10 grid. He bravely stuck his hand in it and a ring with blue tinted glass became bound to him. Not knowing what to think of this, he put his other hand in and the same thing happened.

Considering the similarity between the hole at the bottom of the pool and the holes in the 4×10 grid, Gigantus decided to put his hand in one of the spots in the grid on the row marked “1”. The ring became unbound and when he pulled his hand out, the grid spot glowed blue. However, the grid would not accept the other ring Gigantus had, not in any row, or in any other spot on the first row. We resolved to continue exploring.

Continuing on the right side of the maze, we next found a walled off area that sectioned off a small room, with large metal doors. Not finding any way of opening them, we moved further along the wall on the right side. In the back, we found 8 pieces of glass inset into the brick floor. Beyond that was a statue of a leopluridon as well as a bookcase. Not finding any traps near the glass-bricks, we took a closer look and found that they each covered a hand-shaped hole, similar to the 4×10 grid and the pool of water. However, although the glass could be tapped on and appeared to be solid glass, it could not be broken. Tatsu decided to try his luck at reaching his hand through the glass and into the hand-shaped hole, and the glass let his hand pass through it. As he put his hand into the hole, the glass solidified around his arm and would not allow him to remove his hand, while at the same time, a ring became bound to the hand.

All of the sudden, from the nearby walled off room, the large metal doors opened and a group of Orcs came out to give us battle. Poor Tatsu was unable to remove his arm and could only lay on the ground whilst his friends met the Orc’s challenge. They were no match for us, but did inflict damage. The peasants rejoiced! After waiting a bit, Tatsu was able to pull his arm out and break the glass. The ring on his finger had a bit of black tinted glass in it.

Gaylord and Vra’uul meditated a bit to find any magical items the Orcs may have been carrying and to see what else in the area was magical. The Orcs had nothing of value. The statue and the bookcase, however, were far more interesting. Both had a magical aura. After spending a few minutes scrutinizing the statue, no reason for the aura was found. The bookcase, however, proved to be illusory and served to hide another hand-shaped hole. This one yielded a ring with green tinted glass.

The rest of the back of the maze was taken up by the tower. We decided not to go up the stairs into it but instead explored the area right next to it. The tower looked to be surrounded by a “bottomless pit” and next to that, a small alcove with statues and a large space which was continually aflame. Through the flames, another bookcase is visible.

The Intrepid Otto bravely decided to have a couple of ropes tied to him and launch himself over the pit, avoiding the fire traps, to the area outside the alcove. In it were 3 small statues. After carefully searching for traps (and finding none) and a shut off switch for the fire (and finding none), Otto entered the alcove area. Yeah, it was trapped. Several scythes swung down and cut both him and his two ropes. Yeah, it hurt. Fortunately, his bravery was rewarded as he found a hand-shaped hole and used it to put one ring on each hand. Both rings had yellow tinted glass.

As Otto gained some treasure for his pain, some Orcs came bounding out from a hidden part of the wall next to the fires! Their movement was hampered by the flames, which allowed us to funnel them a bit. The Orcs fought desperately and we took damage before taking them down. A short rest was in order while we regrouped and determined what to do next. The crowd again gave us a cheer for our combat prowess and the bit of bloodsport they had just witnessed.

Seeing as we now had 5 more rings, we moved over to the 4×10 grid and again tried to figure out its purpose. Gaylord played with the pillows, Vra’uul stood guard, and more rings were put into the grid. After the first row had been filled, there was a flurry of activity from the spectators watching us from the rim of the pit. Baraata conferred with some of the men near him, who looked through some documents. After a moment, one of them, who had been holding a small flask of some kind, threw the flask on to the pillows.

Meeting Baraata 3

The group finally got an appointment to meet with Baraata just after the evening meal. When the time came we were ushered into an office-type room where he was waiting for us. We gave him the case and he examined the contents. Some noticed that he was agitated from the start. Gigantus realized that he was probably intimidating poor Baraata and quickly calmed his fear of impending death by halfling.

Bob inquired as to the cause of his agitation. Baraata informed us that planning for the big event for his birthday party was not going well and cursed the parentage of his servant folk. He expressed surprise when we let him know that we ran into two groups of orcses on the way to his homestead. He didn’t explicitly admit it but his response made it clear that the orcs had something to do with the Big Show™.

Blaufarb brought in our fee of 150 gold. Baraata then gave us some documents for us to take back to Diogenes. He said that we was sending them as a favor because he thought Diogenes might be interested in them. He then proceeded to invite us to be part of the Big Show if a slot opened up. We would have a choice about the challenge we would face and would be compensated accordingly. He suggested that we ask around to get information from people who had participated in previous years. We negotiated our appearance fee to 500 gold but much more wealth is possible if we don’t die. As a courtesy he gave us access to the VIP lounge.

That night we split up between two cabins to sleep. Several of us were eaten by rats. After the battle we discovered a removable panel in each cabin that had been opened to allow the rats to enter. Bob reported this to a shocked Blaufarb who placed guards outside and promised to make it up to us in the morning. When they came to examine the openings the rogues put on a puppet show through the holes with rat corpses to reenact our epic battle.

In the morning a messenger led us to a lovely seven-course breakfast. Baraata made an appearance and apologized profusely for the attack. He was impressed by our rat-slaying abilities and formally invited us to participate in the Big Show™. We had a group hug.

Well, the bastard set us up. We were dumped into a deep pit full of puzzle obstacles.

Continued on Meeting Baraata 3 part 2...

Meeting Baraata 2
After taking a short rest, we decided to explore a mound of rock covered by a door. As with the backpacks in the camp, this cache was protected by a crossbow trap that Otto set off. Inside, we found some sacks of food, along with some gold and daggers.

We continued on to Baraata’s castle along the same road. Once again, we encountered Orcs along the way. This time, we had the element of surprise. An Orc was positioned along the main road but did not notice us. His attention was toward a group of Orcs investigating an encampment nearby. Tatsu Lung practiced his sneaking skills in moving not-so-silently towards the lookout, while Otto led the way. Once again, an Orc shaman appeared to take charge of their group, but we did not give them a chance to get themselves organized and forced them to simply react to us. The battle was short. Another mini-rock cave nearby yielded more treasure, which we were more than happy to take. [add part about Gigantus getting kicked into the ditch]

By a strange coincidence, we would soon have an opportunity to spend that ‘hard earned’ treasure at a guard checkpoint on the road. It was a simple banner with two human guards, dressed in hide armor, with the look of battle veterans. One of them took on the role of spokesperson and cashier. The toll was 2 gold per person – a trivial sum, but yet something about the two humans didn’t seem right. While we exchanged pleasantries it became clear that our group and theirs was nervous with each other. Fortunately, our group had the gigantic warrior rabbit slayer Gigantus Brutalis! Upon mentioning ‘Orc’ and ‘ambush’, the other human ran for his life, for about 20 feet and some of the members of the human’s group revealed their concealed whereabouts. The jig was up and after it became clear we would investigate the goings-on until we were satisfied, all the remaining members of the human’s group came out of hiding. They were 3 elves and 8 humans strong and told us they were there to ensure travelers paid their toll. We paid ours and continued on.

After 1 hour, we were to have reached Baraata’s castle according to what the checkpoint group told us. However, it took us two hours before the castle was in sight. We knew we’d been had, although we couldn’t figure out why and what they’d really gotten away with (14 gold seemed a paltry sum for such a performance). As we got closer to the castle, the temporary crowd seats and boxing/wrestling rings could be seen. The rings were all in use and enjoyed by the crowd, however, we had a job to perform. The castle guard fetched Blaufarb who listened to our story and resolved to speak with his boss. For an unknown reason, Blaufarb seemed very distressed at our encounters with Orcs.

Otto, Gigantus, and Mungus went into the castle basement to the tavern, Tatsu followed Blaufarb, and Vra’uul, Gaylord Anaxarchus, and Dave investigated the main floor of the castle. As Otto, Gigantus, and Mungus descended down the stairs into the tavern, they were applauded by a very familiar group of humans and elves. 14 gold pieces were stacked on the corner of their table, mocking us (2 gold per person – the toll we’d paid them for traveling on a fake toll road). After saluting the 3 not-yet-drunks, they offered to buy us all a round. Gigantus was decidedly unimpressed and intimidated the human who he’d tricked into running for his life. The remaining humans and elves were strangely not affected by Gigantus’ words (the 11 – 3 odds was not in his favor). However, everyone resolved to calm down and just have a friendly drink. Returning our 14 gold convinced us of their intentions. They introduced themselves as a group that had come to participate in the entertainment for Baraata’s birthday celebration.

Not long after, Blaufarb informed us that we might be able to have an audience with Baraata, but it could not happen for several hours. We resolved to kill some time by drinking, sparring, and playing cards.

Meeting Baraata 1

After the tragic demise of the good ship Rocinante, we find ourselves in need of transportation and employment. Hoping to kill 2 birds with one stone, we negotiate with Diogenes to make us the officers of {Daves uncles ship}. He agrees with reservations. The first being a test of our skill. He assigns us to take some genealogical documents to Baraata, a regional crimelord by the town of Faroen and then to return with Baraata’s payment.

We are told that Diogenes bought passage to and from Faroen, but after we disembark, we discover that our tickets were only 1 way. An unintentional oversight? A test of our resourcefulness and judgment? We won’t know until we return. The next ship to return is in 3 days.

We spend some time in Faroen getting some information. The town is abuzz with excitement over Baraata’s upcoming birthday, 2 days from now. His birthday celebrations are legendary (well, in this part of the continent anyway) and all appear to be looking forward to The Big Show – the climactic event for the celebration. The locals say that it is a contest of physical strength and battle prowess, but always, always, with a twist. Apparently the bookies start taking bets for the next Big Show only 1 day after Baraata’s birthday! In not-quite-jest, the tavern folk note that there would probably rioting if the entertainers for The Big Show arrive late.

It will take us several hours to travel from Faroen to Baraata’s castle (his main base of operations as far as we know). A couple of hours out, we discover a small campsite which appears to have been abandoned. While investigating it, we discover both of the backpacks have been booby trapped with a CrossbowTrap, which also triggers a group of Orcs to come and attack us. The Orc raiding party was led by an OrcEyeOfGruumsh, and included some of the following: OrcBeserker, OrcDrudge, and DireWolf. We fight them off and take a few moments to catch our breath.


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