Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, Session 12

Summary:
The adventurers, on their search for the Elven Thief Valanunthe, encounter the Black Hand Mercenaries hired by her and are captured by kobolds and bugbears!

Dragonclaw Barony Dramatis Personae:
Eliam – Half-Elf Cleric/Wizard of Lugh (Celtic)
Malcolm – Human Wizard of Arcanus (Crusader Kingdoms)
Sir Sandwyche – Human Paladin of Agathos (Crusader Kingdoms)
Gwar – Half-Orc Barbarian of Crom (Norse/Celtic)
Endur “The Thick” – Human Fighter of Gobniu (Celtic)
Juhraveal – Half-Elf Rogue of Bast (Egyptian)
Magnus – Gnome Druid of Belenus (Celtic)
Bitters Forthill – Dwarf Cleric/Fighter of Thor (Norse)
Tobias – Human Ranger of Sif (Norse)

Game Diary:
When we left off last time, the group had broken into the chamber of Valanunthe seeking out the two items she had stolen from Fonkin, the Gnome Sage. She went down a trapdoor hidden under her cot followed by Bitters Forthill. Once at the bottom she came upon him invisibly, stabbed him from behind, and bringing him down to 0 hp. His companions were right behind him, so she gave him a little wink and dashed off into the darkness of the secret 5 x 5 foot passage located beneath the rooms above.

For todays game three players couldn’t make it. So the players who were available said that the characters of those players – Bitters, Tobias, and Endur – would remain in Valanunthe’s room as Eliam, Malcolm, Sir Sandwyche, Gwar, Juhraveal, and Magnus, continued down the secret passage after Valanunthe.

After traveling for several hundred feet and a making couple of turns, they arrived at a ladder leading up to another room. Juhraveal snuck up to check for traps by tracing his fingers around the edges of the trap door. He failed his check and dust from around the edges fell onto his face and he began sneezing so horribly that he fell from the ladder onto the back of Gwar, who just shrugged him off. Realizing that anyone in the room above them knew they were there, Gwar and the others headed up the ladders for a fight. As Gwar pushed up the trapdoor a rat-like humanoid darted in with a bite and claw attacks. Keeping the rat-man occupies, the rest of the group made their way up. During the fight they discovered he was slowly regenerating the damage he was being dealt. The spellcasters, however, are well aware of the power of the sleep spell, and once cast, down went the rat-man. As this fight was happening two dwarves began entering the door in the south of the room. Gwar and Sir Sandwyche tried to keep it shut, but the dwarves were strong and pushed through. But again, sleep was cast and down went the dwarves. Pulling them into the room, they saw that all three had a patch of a black fist sewn onto their leather armor. They bound everyone up and then woke up the rat-man. They learned that his name was Captain Willard Rataess, leader of the Black Fist mercenaries. They interrogated him, but not getting what they wanted and discovering that he was an evil wererat, they killed him. Next they awoke the dwarven mercenaries of the Black Fist (after taking their weapons and coins). Their names were Cagbral Maryam and Urias Banhammer, and the paladin learned one was evil and the other was leaning that way. Seeing their leader was dead, they seemed open to negotiating a new working relationship. They told the group they were hired to come into these underground passages and properly engineer them using their great dwarven underground skills. They said that if the characters returned their gold, they would in return guide them through the remainder of the underground corridors. A sack of gold pieces was thrown toward them and one of them began telling them about the kobolds that were hired by Valanunthe to expand some of the passages with their mining skills. The players chose to tie up, gag, and blindfold the dwarves, and then headed out seeking Valanunthe.

Juhraveal was scouting ahead down the corridor and ran into a gnome-like creature asking for help from the evil people in the complex. The player knew something was up, for I had him roll a Charisma saving throw, and when he failed he learned that Juhraveal had been charmed. Juhraveal asked the little fella to join his group and he agreed. Heading back down the corridor they rejoined the rest of the group, at which point the gnome-like being standing next to Juhraveal threw forth his hand and a colorful array of colors fanned out before him, and after failing their saving throws, everyone except Magnus fell unconscious. The little being said that the people who fell asleep were not the real group members and that their true friends were tied up in another room. Juhraveal and Magnus asked him to take them to their “true” friends and he agreed, taking them to a room, where after he provided a secret knocking sound, the door was opened and they were greeted by four more gnome-like beings. At that point my GM skills momentarily lapsed and I accidentally made a reference to them as kobolds. My players were not surprised, however, for in my world kobolds are the corruption of the gnome race, and as such they are clever, masterful illusionists. But the players, of course were not going to meta-game and went along with what was happening.

Kobold (art from Monstrous Compendium 1, 1989 TSR, Inc.)

At that point I put a pause on that action and switched back to the group that had been rendered unconscious from the color spray. They woke up to find themselves unarmed and unarmored with their hands and feet manacled at the bottom of a 10 foot deep pit with bugbears looking down upon them laughing. They then distantly heard a female elven voice give the bugbears some orders and shut a door in the room above.

And that is where we left the game! Eliam, Malcolm, Gwar, and Sir Sandwyche are prisoners of bugbears that seem to be in the employ of Valanunthe. Juhraveal and Magnus, in a charmed-like state are talking to some kobolds disguised with magical and practical effects as gnomes, and we’ve got Bitters, Endur, and Tobias in Valanunthe’s room. Some players seem to think a TPK is immanent. Is it? Find out in two weeks!