Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, session 21.

Summary:
Two worshipers of Crom receive a feat of strength challenge from him for a reward. Beloved gnome druid Magnus critically fails in his attacks twice hitting himself and an ally, and he is asked by another character disappointed and worried by his lack of skill to please leave the combat!

Game Diary:
We left off last time with the adventurers in the middle of the Tomb of Thorin Zuse, a barbarian-prince of Crom who fought in the Orc Wars 500 years before, allegedly killed 2,000 orcs, and summoning an army of 13,000 to drive the rest back. When he finally died on a mound of orcs, he was buried in a hidden tomb with the orcs he had destroyed. Now, half a millennia later, the adventurers have found the tomb and made their way through the first half-dozen rooms learning that goblins had found their way in and made this place their home. Room by room the adventurers took down the goblin warriors.

This session they continued to descend deeper and found themselves entering a room from the north with openings to the west and east where more goblin warriors emerged to attack them. The western goblin group formed a shield wall with a shaman behind them preparing to cast cause fear on the nearest victim he could touch, while another group of goblin warriors formed another shield wall from the east with a shaman behind them prepared to cast spells. Many brave adventurers went to meet this challenge, Sir Sandwyche (human paladin), Gwar (half-orc barbarian of Crom), Rok (half-orc fighter of Crom), Bitters (dwarven cleric/fighter of Thor), and Homonoea (human dragonslayer of Athena) were perhaps the most energetic to come to blows with these goblins (goblins in my world are the corruption of the dwarves). Most of the warriors above took on the challenge of a frontal assault on the goblin shield wall and managed to get some blows in. Juhraveal (half-elf rogue of Bast) went to attack from behind, and a goblin shaman used this opportunity to touch the half-elf and cause fear in her. Even with a bless spell that Bitters had cast, she was at a disadvantage. A standout moment, however, was when Magnus (gnome druid) went to attack and rolled a critical fail. I rolled the critical fail die I use from New Comet Games and it was a ‘crit self.’ Not good. It is never good when you discover that you are capable of delivering damage, but it is on yourself!

Fortunately, the other adventurers were competent and the goblins fell before them. In the next half-dozen rooms they completed exploring the area the goblins came to dwell in and managed to seal off an opening in the ceiling the goblins had used to enter/exit the tomb from nearly 200 feet above them on the surface. With all the goblins dealt with and an entrance point sealed, they found a secret door that led into a part of the Tomb of Thorin Zuse untouched for centuries. Upon making their way through this, Juhraveal sealed the secret door to ensure that no one else would find them as they finished exploring the remainder of the tomb (but of course this would also slow their retreat if this became necessary!).

Crom, Lord of the Great Mountain (art by aquilianranger)

Having now entered the untouched area of the tomb, they came across a room with tapestries displaying Thorin Zuse battling Orcs while standing on the bodies of the previously slain, each of the four tapestries were worth 1,000 gold pieces each, which was the most loot this group had yet found in their adventuring (in my version of the Dragonclaw Barony, dragons and dragon-kin number prominently, and through their acute senses and greed have gathered, taken, or demanded treasure from those that have it displayed prominently, thus the only way to acquire wealth is to either bury it well, or be able to defend it well). The group had used up a lot of resources fighting all these dozens of goblins, and now they were sealed in this area, they rested for the night to replenish health and spells.

During the night, Rok and Gwar, the two warriors that worship Crom, were visited by the Lord of the Great Mountain in their dreams (Thorin Zuse was a worshiper of Crom, so this tomb was filled with the presence of Crom). In their dreams they ascended a great mountain at the level of the clouds, and upon reaching the peak, they saw large, bushy eyebrows and eyes from their god appearing through the clouds and in a booming voice he gave each of them a challenge. The first challenge was to sunder an enemies armor, and if successful, they would be able to ignore the effects of poison and acid at a critical moment. For the other, they were given the challenge of opening or destroying a door or container, and if they succeeded they would automatically pass a constitution or dexterity check when they needed it [I love using decks of cards made for RPG’s to liven up the game – such as the Deck of Dirty Tricks for my Tuesday Barrowmaze game, and these challenges/rewards came from the Heroic Challenges Roleplaying Cards designed by LoreSmyth in a kickstarter I supported last year]. Crom is a patient god, and whenever these warriors complete these feats of strength, he will reward them. I look forward to seeing how the players find a way to work this into the game!

The group awoke the next morning healed up and with spells re-learned. The very next room they entered was a tomb with six open coffins with skeletons inside holding rusty iron maces. Juhraveal walked into the room, looked into a coffin, saw what I just described, and when she turned around to tell the others what she saw the skeleton reached up and grabbed her from behind to pull itself up and then whack her with its mace! The warriors once again flooded into the room, and with barbarians, fighters, paladins, and dragonslayers there was plenty of muscle to deal with this, or so one would think, but the skeletons left their coffins and moved in for their attacks and they hit hard (I rolled near maximum on my maces for damage). It was not long before Homonoea was down to 0 hit points and unable to do anything but move at half speed. Bitters managed to turn undead, but then Magnus decided it was time to help again and he rolled a critical fail which meant he hit an ally, and Bitters was the recipient. Bitters fell unconscious at -2 hit points. This meant his turn undead would fade and the skeletons would return to attack the next round. Sir Sandwyche darted over to Bitters and laid on hand to bring him back to 0 hit points and others placed a cure light wounds to bring him back to positive so that he could fight and cast spells again. It was here that Endur “the Thick”, the human fighter known for his limited cognitive capabilities told Magnus he should leave the combat for the good of the group. Once Magnus stopped “helping” the group they completed in taking down the skeletons! 😉

This was just the first battle in the first room since they woke up rested, but already two of them had been badly beaten up. It will be interesting to see how they proceed when we get together again in a fortnight. This is a great group and I love the interplay on Discord between all the diverse and different players we have spread out over the US, Canada, and northern Europe. We’ve been together now for many months and even when people crit fail on themselves and others there are jokes and humor to be shared by everyone. Personalities are really shining with this group!