|This looks like a good place for a dungeon crawl, right?|
Anyway, on with our story:
|All I want is a hug, I promise!|
The beast rushes out of the undergrowth and stands on its hind legs, blocking the path. And yet it does not attack. A moment's glance reveals that the bear has been wounded: a black and twisted goblin arrow protrudes from its side and several gashes drip blood. The party and the bear stare at each other for a minute, then the bear waves a front paw as if to say "follow me!" As the bear turns to run away, the cleric steps forward and casts a healing spell on it to show the PCs' good intentions. The bear is visibly relieved and proceeds into the woods.
After a short walk, the path descends into a shallow river valley. At the bottom of the ravine is a young woman in rich garb, also wounded and lying face-down and motionless on the riverbank. The cleric uses his second healing spell and manages to bring her back around. Once conscious, she explains that she is a noble from Ravensport and was visiting friends in a nearby castle when it was attacked by a dragon-riding sorceress and her cadre of goblins. She and her husband tried to escape and find help, but she was severely wounded and he was turned into a bear. She begs the PCs for help. All of the party is in for the adventure except for Hrothgar, who proceeds to negotiate a handsome reward of 7,000gp plus any treasure found in the castle during the rescue. Begrudgingly, the noblewoman agrees.
The noblewoman (Korin) has no skills to offer, so she remains hidden in the forest. As a bear, however, her husband is more than a match for some goblins and thus agrees to accompany the party. They sneak through the woods until they reach the clearing wherein Brimor and Elsabeth's castle rests. There is a narrow bridge leading over the moat; a dozen goblins guard the front doors.
Rather than risk a full-on assault, Nerdanel and Eiko hatch a plan to start a smoky fire in the woods, perhaps drawing some of the goblins into the trees where they can be silently taken out. Kindling is gathered and a flame sparked. The party waits in breathless silence for the sound of goblin footsteps.
Instead, they hear the beating of massive wings.
|You say WHY-VERN, and I say WI-VERN...|
The melee is brief. Though the party takes a few hits, injuries are minor. Eiko, meanwhile, proves herself to be extremely deadly at close range. Most of the PCs get a shot or two in at the wyvern (which is really what the "dragon" turns out to be), but Eiko lays into the beast with repeated critical hits from her (dwarf-sized) bastard sword. In short order, the great, poison-tailed lizard is dead. Eiko decides to take on the surname/title of Wyvernwacker.
Eiko (Elizabeth) also rubs it in and trash-talks Hrothgar (Nicholas, Elizabeth's 8 year-old son). A few minutes of giggling and player-on-player wrestling occurs at the game table. That doesn't happen much in my grown-up games... too bad, really.
The wyvern wasted, it's on to the castle itself! The bad guys have blocked the bridge--the only way
|My wife's solution to most problems in D&D.|
Crossing the bridge, the PCs also find that there are several statues on the front porch--all of men-at-arms in varying poses of fear and fight. It doesn't take them long to figure out that these are actually the castle guards who've been turned to stone. But by whom? Or what? Gulp.
At Hrothgar's suggestion, the castle doors are kicked in and the characters storm inside. (Gotta love the YOLO style of young gamers.) More goblins wait in the main hall, along with their pet troll. More fighty-fighty. Eiko again takes out the big bad with her Bastard Sword of Kill Everything. She now names herself Eiko Trollcleaver-Wyvernwacker. She's quite the modern dwarf woman, with that whole hyphenated-name thing and all.
There are many doors in the entry hall and the first one leads to a library room (location akin to Brian and Elizabeth's actual library... get it? Anybody? Sigh). Anyway, there are no baddies here, but the north wall is completely filled with overstuffed bookshelves (many of which have been tossed on the floor as if someone were searching for something) and the south wall is full of... glass aquariums full of snakes?! On a table in the middle of the room are dozens of obsidian rings with magical carvings on their surfaces. Fitting the pieces together yet? Yep, I borrowed +Zak Smith 's "Snakes Are Books" idea (link is SFW but site is sometimes NSFW). Eventually, the characters figure it out too, with the help of Demosthenes' "Speak with Animals" spell and a talkative boa constrictor. From their time in the library, Hrothgar learns how to garden from a garter snake and how to swim better from a blacksnake, Demosthenes becomes an expert in poisons from an asp, and Eiko learns the fine art of asphyxiation from said boa. (Essentially, little snakes who can't hurt you give you knowledge; big snakes or particularly poisonous ones may give you knowledge but may also give you one of their abilities).
After letting it teach Eiko how to hug things to death, Demosthenes also charms the snake, adding yet another animal (remember that bear? Yep, he's still here.) to the party. Menagerie, ho!
|Ok, but you're not gonna like it...|
into oblivion; the rest are slain in a more traditional way. Searching the throne room, the PCs find a small chest beneath one of the thrones. Hrothgar is sickened when the chest's poisoned-need trap accidentally goes off (bad disarm roll) but manages to pull through with only a temporary CON loss. Since the lock proves unpickable, they hand the chest off to Eiko who uses her newly-found hugging powers to crush it open. Inside is a small silver message tube containing a piece of parchment that reads...
Well, crap. That scrap of paper seems to have either stayed in California or gotten lost on the flight home. In any case, it's a word problem / riddle that nobody seemed to be able to translate. At that point, we all set aside our dice and headed to Pizza My Heart for dinner. And that's where we left off.
The pizza was awesome, by the way.