Chapter 06: Morals and Mandibles

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Session Number: 49
Date: Sunday 16 May 2010
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr6 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal7 (Craig) (kills: none)
Shalélu (DM) (kills: 1 smaller humanoid)
Troll Wiz7 (Densial) (kills: 1 humanoid with dogs, 1 humanoid with lumpy face, 1 smaller humanoid)

XP Awarded: TBC

Troll and Shalélu inspect the bear. Symbols resembling tattoos are faintly visible under its fur. Shalélu thinks they signify that the bear is a ranger's animal companion.

"The bear won't be able to move until some of its wounds heal," Shalélu says.

"We can do that," answers Troll.

"You think your friend would help?"

"I'll go and see."

Rowaine hefts her axe and speaks to the stricken humanoid.

"Do you see this beast beside you?" She indicates Harley. "How far do you think you'd get with her on your tail?"

The creature appraises Harley. "One on one, it die."

"Do you see what she is made of?" Rowaine taps Harley's flank. "What good do you think your lance would do against that? Oh, that's right… you don't have one. These creatures, they have insatiable appetites, and she hasn't eaten all day. Are you hungry, my love? Harley growls, responding to Rowaine's empathic urges.

"You are the strongest for now," the humanoid says in its raspy voice, "so I will not run."

Troll approaches Arrian. "Can you do me a favour?"

"What?"

"Can you heal the bear?"

Arrian goes back to Shalélu. "What are the chances if I heal this beast that it will turn on us?"

"If it is a ranger's animal companion, then it is intelligent, much more than a normal beast. My guess is that it will not attack us."

Arrian casts a healing orison to stabilise the bear. It breathes easier.

Troll drips acid, melting a hole in the ground at his feet in an attempt to intimidate the humanoid. Harley stands watching the humanoid, growling. It is quite easy to see the hatred in the creature's eyes - if he can destroy the party he will, but at the moment the odds are too long.

Troll bluffs that he hates him back. "Can I kill him?" he asks Rowaine. "I can get him from here, you just turn around and I'll question him…"

Arrian casts Cure Light Wounds on the bear. Its eyes open. Shalélu seems to speak to it. The bear stays on its side but raises its head, as if to listen and get its bearings.

"Shalélu," Arrian begins, "the bear's partner may be in trouble… If it can lead us back to its partner, we may be able to help."

"Yes, you may be right. These creatures are never very far away from their companion."

Arrian runs back to the others, addressing Rowaine:

"The bear is the animal companion of a ranger, maybe a Black Arrow, who could be in trouble."

Troll chimes in. "So if we kill him," indicating the fallen humanoid, "we could just go."

"Part of me is very tempted that we may in fact need to kill this being," says Arrian. "We can't leave it behind us, we can't stay here - we need to find the ranger."

"Can we not have this conversation in front of this thing?" Rowaine says in reply.

Arrian moves towards his sword. Rowaine sees Arrian's body tense and moves to block any action against the hapless humanoid.

How does one block anothers' attack in 3.5? Aid another?

The creature attempts to backhand Arrian but its massive hand misses, passing in front of Arrian's nose. The lance through its side scribes an arc behind it as it attempts to rise.

Troll Acid Splatters the creature. Its flesh burns and it falls to the ground face-first. Rowaine's lance completes its passage through the creature's body, accompanied by a wet sucking sound. There is the smell of acid-attacked flesh.

Arrian halts his move, returning the six inches of visible steel back into its sheath. "We will probably have a good long debate about this, but right now a guy could be dying."

Rowaine stares at Arrian incredulously. "Never try that again!"

"A ranger may very well be dying! I suggest we deal with that, and then you can lecture me."

Rowaine's eyes flash. "We will have words."

The humanoid breathes its last breath. Arrian stoops over its body and discerns no signs of life. He walks back to the wounded bear.

Rowaine retrieves her lance, wiping fragrant gore from its length. "Fools! He had information!"

"I thought it was necessary." explains Troll.

"It's not your fault," Rowaine replies. "You didn't precipitate this!" Rowaine looks angrily at Arrian's retreating back.

Arrian returns to the bear, carefully approaching it. He speaks elven in low tones: "I would like to heal you again. Is that OK?" He seems to get a positive reaction and moves the last few feet forward, touching the beast's flank and casting another Cure Light Wounds. He retreats and the bear rolls to its feet. It begins to walk. "I think we should follow him," says Shalélu. "If that's what you want."

Troll drops acid on the humanoid to ensure it is dead. Rowaine looks sick, turns and walks towards Arrian and the bear.

Arrian mets Rowaine's gaze. "I'm sorry, but I am very, very worried, and I knew that anything we would do would take time. I knew that your conscience wouldn't let you easily kill it."

"So you decided to kill it…" Rowaine breaks off. "I can't believe… Do you still consider yourself bound to me?"

"I am bound to you until you release me," Arrian says, walking after the bear.

"What's going on?" asks Rowaine.

"The bear is an animal companion. We think it's taking us back to its partner."

"We are following it quietly," Troll says. "If you guys could have your punchup later, that'd be grand."

"So now we're following a bear?" Rowaine asks in resignation. "Great."

Rowaine is feeling dismissed, walked-over and unheard.

house_and_barn.jpg

The party follow the bear for over two hours before it stops. "Stay here," says Shalélu as she moves forwards. She returns a minute later and reports that there is a house and a barn in a clearing ahead. Fort Rannick is still a couple of hours away. Some foresters build houses in this area, although Shalélu would be surprised to see one here, so deep into Kreeg Forest. The bear looks towards the clearing, its fur standing on end. It is obviously tense, even to those with no animal lore.

The party together move forwards and intersect a ten foot wide path. They follow it from just within the trees. The path meanders for a short distance and then opens into a clearing. All see the house on the left and the barn on the right. Troll asks Shalélu to do a little reconnaissance.

"Harley," whispers Rowaine, "pop underground and see what you can see." Harley disappears.

Shalélu returns shortly thereafter. She has seen three or four sets of large tracks: bigger than humans but smaller than an ogre. Some are booted, some barefoot.

Harley returns, telling Rowaine that she felt movement in the barn, strong movement from the house as if from an underground level, and something faint in a nearby plantation. Arrian thinks the party should first investigate one of the buildings, the better to hold against possible attackers. Rowaine reminds the others of their main objective - to find the ranger, if there is one here.

"Shalélu," asks Rowaine, "was that other thing a Groll?"

"I believe it was."

"Any signs of dogs, Shalélu?" whispers Arrian.

"I didn't see any… The dog that escaped, if it came from here, it would have come back, but I didn't see anything… It might be in the barn."

Arrian suggests that the party move towards the rear of the house via the forest and look for an entrance. Shalélu moves off to scout around the house. She is trying to be quiet but her footfalls are punctuated with snapping twigs. The others wince at the sound. Arrian and Rowaine remain in the forest some distance to the left of the path; Troll moves a little nearer to the path.

Rowaine turns to Harley, speaking in terran. "Can you shadow Shalélu, make sure she's OK?" Rowaine stumbles over an appropriate translation for "shadow". Harley bounds off past Troll, finds the path and disappears into the earth. While their attention is in that direction they see a large creature with some sort of facial deformity crossing from the plantation towards the rear of house. Its stooped shamble suggests it is trying to hide. It disappears from view.

"He doesn't live here," says Rowaine. "You don't move like that if you live here."

Time passes. The noise of cracking twigs heralds something's approach. Arrian slowly unsheathes his sword. The party breathe a figurative sigh of relief as Shalélu appears about fifty feet ahead. She stops, but worryingly, the cracking noises do not. Shalélu turns as a large creature emerges from the woods, carrying a large scythe. One side of its huge head is obscured by lumpy deformities.

Arrian casts Aid on Rowaine, boosting her confidence and vitality. Moments later, Shalélu runs right past the party. The creature sees the number of his foes multiply, and smiles. It runs straight at the largest concentration.

Troll responds with an Acidic Splatter that burns away at the creature's side. It bellows in pain.

"By Moradin's anvil, I smite at thee!" Rowaine yells. Righteous fury powers her blows. The creature's smile falters.

The bear bites at the creature but mistimes its snap. Harley is encouraged on by her mistress' attack and attempts a smiting bite, but is unsuccessful.

The sound of barking comes from the direction of the barn. Arrian steps sideways and casts Summon Monster. A celestial dire badger appears behind the creature, flanking with Harley. It too smites at the creature, one of its claw swipes gouging away at the creature's calf.

Shalélu lets two arrows fly. Both miss their intended target, one embedding itself inside Rowaine's shield!

The creature withdraws at a run. The badger sees an opening and swipes at its flank but misses. The humanoid runs out of sight towards the barn.

Troll casts Shield upon himself, moves thirty feet towards the barn, stopping in the trees on the other side of path. He sees the barn door opening.

Rowaine casts Bless, affecting all of her allies. She then moves in Troll's direction, towards the barn. From the path she too can see the barn door opening, and she hears barking coming from within. The bear trots alongside Rowaine, to her discomfort. Harley lopes past her, warily eying the bear.

Arrian runs after Troll.

Ferg wanted Arrian to run with Rowaine. How to do that under the rules when he is behind, and with a higher initiative? Answer: move adjacent, ready an action to move when Rowaine moves. It may require a bit of communication to fine-tune, but it gets the job done.

Shalélu keeps her bow ready and keeps pace with Troll. They hear a guttural wail from within the barn and see the door closing. Troll moves closer and casts Spider Climb upon himself. Rowaine catches up with Harley, the bear lags slightly behind.

Troll is now about 150' from barn. He moves closer, putting himself at the edge of the cornfield and casts Shield on Shalélu.

Whoops, can't do that. Shield has Range:Personal, Target:You. Troll could have done this were Shalélu his Special Mount or Animal Companion, but I don't think their relationship is quite on that level.

Arrian, Shalélu, Rowaine and Harley move towards the well between the house and the barn. Shalélu covers the barn door with her bow. The others see a large porch running along the left side of the house. The front door is closed and the windows are boarded up with planks. Rowaine hears a high-pitched voice uttering what can only be swearwords in an unknown language. The bear sniffs, then gallops towards the barn's door.

Troll runs to side of barn and flattens himself against the wall. He hears barking from within. Shalélu follows, covering the front with her bow. The bear gets to the barn door and throws its upright weight against it, its claws flailing at the wooden barrier. The door does not budge. Rowaine runs to front door of barn, behind the bear. Harley and Arrian follow. They hear the barking more clearly now, along with multiple booming voices screaming at each other.

Troll casts Spider Climb on Shalélu, tells her the effect of the spell, then climbs up the barn wall. He manoeuvres around the front corner and moves towards the barn's upper door. Shalélu follows. Rowaine, Arrian and Harley move half way down the barn wall, thinking to look for a rear entrance.

Troll and Shalélu hang from the barn's front wall, beside the upper door. It is not locked or fastened shut. They scoot below and ease it open outwards. It cracks and groans a little but the noise is lost amongst the barking within. Inside they see a large mound of hay, near the door. They move quietly inside and skirt around the haystack. Fifteen feet beyond the haystack is a railing; this level splits into a mezzanine that skirts the barn's side walls. A ladder on either side extends to ground level. The barn is split by an internal floor-to-ceiling wall. At the end of each mezzanine run there is a door in the wall, and there is a large double door in centre of the wall at floor-level. There are kennels below, along the walls underneath the mezzanine walkways.

The two elves hear talking below. Troll sneaks towards the left ladder and looks below. Shalélu follows. Troll sees the back of two large humanoids and hears a third, out of sight. They are no more than fifteen feet away.

Rowaine yells at Arrian to mount up and climbs atop Harley. The stone flyer dives underground, moving underground towards the rear of the barn. Harley tries to exit just inside the barn's rear wall but the way is blocked. She breaks surface a little closer to the middle of the barn. It is dark inside, with only a little light filtering through gaps in the barn's exterior walls. It smells pungent - a potent mixture of excrement, rotting flesh and other musky odours. They dimly see a cage at the rear with three human-sized prone forms inside. Two appear to be human, the third is harder to identify. All are at best semiconscious. Arrian does not recognise any of them. Harley bends down and gobbles up some form of meat lying on the ground.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the barn Troll casts Fiery Burst at the creatures below, figuring they won't know where it came from. The two in view flinch instinctually, avoid some of the detonation and remain alive but the third is not so lucky. It totters into view and falls to the ground, burning. It is the one from earlier, with the deformed head. The other two retreat towards the back of the barn, looking visibly shaken. Troll shadows them along the mezzanine platform but is spotted.

One of the two humanoids gets two of Shalélu's imithrium arrows in the chest. It staggers backwards but survives. They both look decidedly flustered.

Rowaine tries to figure out how to open the cage, noting the sheet metal floor and barred ceiling. Arrian sees something out of corner of his eye and looks up, seeing a gigantic spider sliding down webs towards the floor!

Always the spiders!

funnelweb_spider.jpg

Arrian yells "Get out of the way!" casting Searing Light upwards. The bolt of light burns the underside of the arachnid. He then moves back up against the cage's metal walls.

Arrian's split-second illumination gives Rowaine a brief look at those in the cage. One is fair-skinned and one is black, two are human and the third she is not sure about. She sees huge spider webs all around. Harley retreats to Arrian's right, swearing in terran. Rowaine moves to the corner and Arrian's left, readying an axe stroke should the spider complete its journey to the floor. It does - the spider drops the last few feet with a thump. Rowaine's chop misses, the spider gracefully lifting its near leg clear of the stroke.

The spider bites Harley's shoulder and breaks through her tough skin. Venom saps the stone flyer's considerable strength and Rowaine notices her movements become a little more sluggish.

On the other side, Troll sees the two humanoids standing together, perfect fodder for a Fiery Burst. They both bear the full force of the blast but survive. Shalélu fires two arrows at one of the humanoids, landing one in its chest and one in its throat. It dies, sliding against the door, gurgling and clawing at its throat. The surviving creature wails unintelligibly and runs towards outer door where the bear waits. It tries to open the door. Troll moves and shoots an Acidic Splatter, opening an ever-widening hole in its back. It keels over, motionless.

Arrian steadies himself and casts Cure Light Wounds on Harley. Harley then leaps at the spider and tears away at a leg. Rowaine stands her ground and launches into two attacks, the second one hitting. In return, the spider attacks Harley and bites deep. Harley reels from the first bite as yet more venom wracks the stone flyer's muscles. Rowaine sees Harley's legs tremble, makes a tough call and dismisses her. Harley is hopefully safe, but Rowaine and Arrian now have no easy way out.

Troll hears battle on other side of the barn's rear wall. He runs to the mezzanine door but finds it locked. He Spider Climbs to the opposite side and tries the other door; it is locked also. Shalélu follows Troll using Spider Climb.

Arrian stabs his sword at the spider's large body but the creature is craftier than it looks, easily batting away the blade with one of its legs.

The spider is not used to having to strategise, all her foes die anyway…

Rowaine's next two chops both bite into the spider's exoskeleton and Rowaine sees spider goo emerging from the wounds. The spider acts largely nonplussed. Rowaine appraises the beast, noting how its many small wounds do not seem to be hindering the creature - it is not about to die.

The spider bites Arrian heavily, finding the elf's body easier pickings than the tough stone flyer. He succumbs to the spider's venom and finds his armour, his sword, even his own weight a dreadful burden. He fights back a sudden urge to sleep.

Troll uses Acidic Splatter to melt the lock. The acid quickly eats away at the wood surrounding the lock and it clatters to the floor. Troll sees Arrian and Rowaine battling the massive spider and steps aside. Shalélu moves in and shoots two arrows at the spider. Neither appear to cause much injury.

Arrian steps beside Rowaine and mentally reviews his remaining spells. He finds nothing of value and again stabs his sword at the spider. The attack misses.

Rowaine is also bereft of options. The only exits are either behind the spider, or well above her head. She launches into a battle hymn and strikes hard at her enemy. Both attacks hit, but the spider easily absorbs the damage.

The spider again bites Arrian. The elf's shoulder slumps at the vicious wound, followed by his whole body as yet more venom immobilises him.

Troll Fireballs the corner of the room, consuming the last of his high-level fire-based spells and the power source for his Fiery Bursts. The spider shows uncanny grace as it momentarily flattens itself to the floor, avoiding much of the blast. The corner of barn is now alight. Troll takes a backwards step, retreating through the door.

The three men in the cage are now quite awake.

They must be thinking "We were nearly saved…"

spider_in_barn.jpg

The state of play as this session ends

Spider Damage:

Arr: 15
Har: 12
Row: 42
Sha: 2 arrows
Tro: 13

Total dmg on spider: 82 plus 2 arrows - about 97

DTE: The two arrows 'teetered', hardly stuck in, I doubt they did a lot of damage, in fact I would suspect damage reduction, meaning we could easily be at more like 40 points.

[Craigo] Oh crap I hope not. I had just about convinced myself that we had a chance. Rowaine's 5 hits all seemed to do damage, even though some of them were fairly light. Can the DM confirm? I think that an attacker knows when their hits are mitigated by Damage Reduction…

Update from the horses mouth, if it has damage reduction you can 'tell', and we can tell it hasn't :)

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