In our third session of the Quail Valley Campaign (using the Vault of Larin Karr from Necromancer Games), the good guys (five strong) had left their victories in the vicinity of the Hawk’s Shadow Inn behind them and headed off for Pembrose. After a couple of days of travel, they came to the second Storm Tower and it was occupied by, it turned out, some orcs! The fight was brutal and the good guys, of course, prevailed. We pick up with this session immediately after the last orc fell.
Muse and Craig were missing this week and so RJ played Fingers while Dave played Ash. This recap is from Rachel and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics]. There are possibly spoilers for The Vault of Larin Karr.
20th of Stormstrike: After taking out the orcs at the storm tower, Otto and I (Olivia) quickly checked upstairs to ensure there were no more orcs. Jak and Fingers were unconscious, so we gave the 2nd hardened sap ball from Essma to Jak, which revived him. We took some time to heal our wounds and revived Fingers as well. We went outside to let Giles know the coast was clear so he and the horses could enter the tower. Since it was already getting dark, we decided to leave the orc bodies outside the tower and wait to burn them in daylight the next morning. We relieved the orc bodies of 20 silver coins that Otto found.
After bringing Giles’ goods in from the wagon and getting everyone settled, we heard a banging on the front door of the tower. Otto and Olivia cautiously went downstairs and Otto asked who was there. A man’s voice called out that they were traveling and needed to stay here for the night. We opened the door and a man with four guards were there. We invited them in and helped them carry in their goods. The main guy introduced himself as Geoff (pronounced Joff) of Allied Arms Associates and said they had come from Pembrose. After talking to Geoff for a couple minutes, Giles came partway down the stairs and he and Geoff started insulting each other. Giles said Geoff always tries to undersell him and Geoff retorted that Giles’ goods are of poor quality. Giles was not happy that Geoff just came from Pembrose since that is where we were heading. Giles insists that Geoff and his guards stay on the lower level of the tower with the horses and that one of us stay on the first floor with them to guard Giles’ stuff.
[It was later learned (after all the forthcoming combat was finished) that there was more to the Giles and Geoff rivalry than just business. It turns out that Geoff had been married to Giles’ sister and that they were once partners in the family business. Geoff then cheated on Giles’ sister (whose name is Gwenore) and Geoff took half the stock of the family business to start Allied Arms Associates.]
Otto and Olivia took the first watch, with Otto on the second floor and Olivia on the first floor of the tower. About two hours into the first watch, Otto sees 6 or 7 orcs approaching through one of the murder holes on the 2nd floor. He calls out to the rest of us, and I wake Geoff and his guards. Ash went up on the roof to try to see exactly where the orcs were and called out to them in Orcish that they should not attempt to approach or breach the tower. At this point the orcs spread out in the woods around the tower (about 30-40 feet out from the tower).
[Once the orcs knew that someone was in the tower…or should I say someone other than the orcs that they were expecting to be in the tower…they kept to the cover of the bushes and trees at the edge of the tower’s clearing.]
We hunkered down in the tower with the front door barred. Two orcs ran up to the door and started trying to break the thick wooden door with axes. A couple of Geoff’s guards joined Ash on the roof and they tried shooting arrows straight down at the two orcs hacking at the door. The guards could not see too well in the dark [and storm] and it was a difficult angle of attack, so they and Ash did not have too much luck in injuring the two orcs. Ash and the guards also had to be careful to duck back down quickly as the orcs in the woods would pop up and shoot arrows at them as soon as they were visible.
After a bit the two orcs ran back to the trees to join the other orcs. [Ash did hit one with his bolt but did not damage him. This is why the orcs ended up running off. Although the magic wasn’t very effective, they weren’t too keen on being out in the open and a target for magic while their compatriots were safe in the woods.] Otto and Olivia climbed down a rope at the back of the tower and crept along the west side of the tower to take cover behind one of the wagons. We overheard the orcs saying something about reinforcements coming. At one point it sounded like they were thinking about giving up and leaving but then one of them reminded the group that we had killed the other orcs, whom they knew. We also heard some wood being chopped. After about half an hour, Ash called out from the roof that orcs were approaching from behind the tower, so folks opened the front door so Otto and I could slip inside. We decided to leave the door unbarred and unlatched to try to catch the orcs off guard if they tried to power through the door again.
[The order of events above isn’t quite right. The group waited for about thirty minutes after the orcs retreated from the door before Olivia and Otto climbed down the back of the tower. The plan had been for Olivia and Otto to wait, in hiding behind one of the wagons parked just outside of the door, until the orcs approached the tower again and then attack from their flank. After hiding at the wagon for about thirty minutes, Ash shouted out that others were coming from the north. Although Ash could not definitively make out if they were orcs, they were certainly too large to be human. Like the orcs before, these newcomers faded into the woods to avoid being observed from the tower. Olivia and Otto hustled back into the tower via the door…that was quickly shut and barred again.
The two groups met up but the good guys in the tower couldn’t get a good look at the combined group or make out all that was said. At one point, however, one of the orcs did shout out something about how those inside had killed some of their tribe and the blood price must be paid. It was some time after this that the sound of wood being chopped could be heard. It might not seem like a big deal but the sequence is actually pretty important for me to remember what all happened that the players did not witness.]
Those on the roof saw four orcs emerge from the woods and run towards the door with a tree/log as a battering ram. Since the door did not provide the resistance they were expecting, the last two orcs ran into the first two, who fortunately had been able to skid to a halt before hitting their bodies against the stone tower. We took out the four orcs but one of Geoff’s guards went down as well.
While we were fighting the orcs on the lower level, three orcs climbed up the back wall and onto the roof. They bull rushed Ash and two guards, knocking them off the roof. Fortunately Ash and one of the guards survived the fall. Once the orcs had knocked them off the roof, they dropped through the trap door to the second floor. Giles and Geoff were arguing loudly and trading punches and did not allow themselves to be distracted by the orcs’ entrance. Our group fought the three orcs and finally took them out. We spent some time healing before taking out the orc bodies to add to the pile and trying to settle down for the night. Otto recovered 19 silver coins from these bodies and offered them to the surviving guard to provide to the families of the fallen guards.
[That’s pretty much where we ended the session.
The group was pretty much in a no-win situation once the orcs arrived and attacked. If they left the safety of the tower, they’d be putting themselves out in the open where the orcs would likely have more of the advantage. If they stayed in the tower and let the orcs destroy the door, then the tower wouldn’t be all that defensible anymore. Fortunately, things worked out well enough. Although, it does seem a bit strange that the orcs first employed a brutish approach to getting in the tower but then switched tactics. One might even think that the battering ram might have been something of a diversion to allow the other orcs reach the top of the tower unnoticed. Hmmm…
Also, the number of orcs slain in this battle was less than the original number that had been seen let alone the number if you included the unknown number from the second group that had arrived later. I wonder where those other orcs (or whatever they were) had gotten to.
Oh, and the surviving guard (along with others who were still alive at the time) had pretty much stated that he had had it with Geoff and Giles and their stupidity. As far as he was concerned, the PCs would be the ones giving the orders now.
The group is now one day away from Pembrose. Will they make it there in the next session? I suppose the first question should be whether or not they’ll make it through the rest of the night. Most of the characters are banged up (Olivia and Jak both have one wound each while Ash has two) and power points have largely been spent.
One bit of campaign info. Silver is the standard currency much like the gold piece is in most D&D games.
Beer Log: Here’s what we sampled this session using, as always, our hit, miss, crit, and fumble rating scale.
- Wicked Weed Monmaretto: RJ shared. Nice cherry flavor but I was not a fan of the almond/amaretto type flavor…just not a flavor I care for. So this is probably one of my least favorite Wicked Weed beers but it was still good. A hit despite the amaretto.
- Ballast Point Pumpkin Down: A scotch ale with pumpkin sounded interesting so we had to try it even though I’m not really a big fan of most pumpkin beers. This was one of the better ones. It had a hint of that holiday spice and the pumpkin plus maltiness. Not my style really but still a hit.
- Proof Mandarin Orange Warpath: From a crowler we picked up the night before after trying it. Very similar to Funky Buddha Moro Moro Blood Orange IPA but better. Great citrus flavor that mostly hides the booziness (9.5%). A hit.