In our prior session (our first), the party (two pairs of siblings) arrived in Hilltop. Hilltop is a small village a few days south of Verbobonc and is the name we use instead of Hommlet. After introductions, some gambling, a little drink, and a good night’s sleep at the Bugbear’s Beds & Brews, they wound up at the ruined Moathouse, a few miles to the northeast of the village. A few battles later, they party retreated back to Hilltop with one sibling of each pair carrying their unconscious relative, downed during their battles. Some bed rest and acquiring a couple of Potions of Healing, the party was ready to get back to adventuring. Leaving the shop of the village trader, they realized that one party member was missing but Drayton spotted a familiar face approaching the inn.
Dave will no longer be playing and so Karl is the missing party member. Muse joined us after missing the first session and so she brought in her new PC, a dwarven cleric. There are definite spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet and possibly for A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from Muse and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].
As the party heads back into town, Drayton spots a familiar figure in the town square. It is Brenwyn Thunderbeard, his sister! Drayton wants to know why she is there and she tells him that she is there searching for him and their brother. When she inquires as to Karl’s whereabouts, Drayton has no idea where their brother has gone. Drayton quickly introduces his sister to the rest of the party and they head back to the inn to see if Karl has returned there.
As they enter, Cahill calls out to Griff and tries to lure him into gambling a bit more of his coins away with promises of possible information about their brother Seamus. Molly, who doesn’t want Griff gambling away the last of his coins, refuses to give Griff permission to gamble, in spite of Griff’s beseeching and pleading puppy dog eyes. Drayton takes the opportunity to ask Cahill if he has seen Karl or knows of his whereabouts. Cahill relays the information that Karl was seen earlier gathering up his things and leaving; he was seen outside the inn talking to a hooded figure. Despite further questioning about Karl, that is all the information Cahill had. He does inform Griff, as a further temptation to gamble, that he had heard a rumor that Seamus had had a business dealing with Dunridge Quarry which lies south of town.
The party decides that a day of rest is needed as several members were a bit beaten up and the day passes uneventfully.
The following morning, the party debates their options and ultimately decides to head south to the quarry in search of Seamus.
At breakfast, Molly and Brenwyn strike up a conversation with the barkeep for information. To Brenwyn’s surprise, they learn that the quarry is run by someone named Erak Bloodaxe. Brenwyn was under the belief that the Bloodaxe clan had been wiped out years ago! They also learn that Erak has a second in command, a female elf by the name of Glyrthiel. Molly thanks him and introduces herself. [Customary pleasantries just a couple of days after first meeting the innkeep. 😉 ] The barkeep is happy to then introduce himself and his family. His name is Otmar. He runs the inn with Ursi, his wife, and their two daughters, Mina and Theda. Molly asks Otmar for directions to the quarry and learn that they are looking for a well traveled path, that branches off to right, about a mile and a half south of the city, from the road leading to the Kron Hills.
The party gathers their things and set off, easily finding the path that Otmar mentioned. About a mile down the path, they spot a small hillock with what appears to be a small fort with a lone guard on duty. [The party also spotted a quarry which this small fort overlook along with some caves leading underground near the fort.]
Griff approaches the guard and asks to speak with Erak regarding Seamus. The guard says to wait and disappears inside. A short wait later, a slender elven woman appears, followed by several human guards. When questioned, she admits to knowing Seamus but that she had last seen him several weeks ago, when he had left the quarry after wanting too big a cut of the profits for a business venture. Griff and Molly both nod as that indeed does sound like Seamus. [Seamus is pretty much being fleshed out as we play. It was pretty funny that RJ and Rachel both responded (as Griff and Molly) in pretty much the same way to this information. It is great having players who wing it and play along like that.]
Drayton asks if she has by chance heard of, or seen Karl, as he too was missing. Alas, she has not [nor did she seem to have a clue as to who Drayton was asking about.]
With nothing more to go on regarding Seamus’ whereabouts, the party decides to head back to town and see if they can pick up Karl’s trail. Molly spots some tracks that appear to be Karl’s [or at least those of a dwarf] and another set, probably the tracks of a human. We follow the tracks, which lead us directly down the track to the Moathouse! As we cross the planks over the moat, we spot a pair of eyes in the moat to either side and so we hurry across and into the “safety” of the Moathouse. Molly is unable to locate tracks within the courtyard and so the party heads straight for the stairs leading into the ruined building. The area is full of debris and Griff and Molly want to go and check on the area where they left a giant snake carcass. As we head back to that area, we try to open a door to an area that had not yet been explored. Both Thunderbeard siblings and Griff try to force the door open, to no avail. Molly finally manages the break open the swollen and stuck door, although Griff claims that he loosened it for her.
The room beyond looks like it was once very opulent, but now lies in tatters. Nothing of interest can be seen and as the party moves to leave the area, Griff hears a something. Looking up, he sees a large spider crawling across the ceiling, straight for him. The spider attempts to pounce on Griff, but misses. The party attacks and Drayton easily smashes the spider to a pulp! [On the prior foray to the Moathouse, Karl had spotted a giant spider inside a ruined tower but they never actually encountered it. No one is sure if this is the same one, as no one but Karl had seen it, or if this is a different giant spider.]
The party continues on to the chamber where the giant snake had been defeated and to their surprise, its carcass is missing! The party now knows that something or someone was here after them and that they need be on alert. [As if they didn’t already need to be on alert. 😀 ] They head back to the large chamber off the main room and to the door and doorways that lie beyond it.
[To help illustrate, a set of stairs lead up to some broken down double doors from the Moathouse courtyard. This large doorway gives access to a large room with two corridors leading off of it along with single door and a couple of archways. The party had explored the archway (collapsed stairway) and corridor to the southern side of the room. Another corridor led off to the west and this was where the party explored next. See map below (north is towards the top of the map).]
A couple of attempts at the door in the large chamber showed that it was seriously stuck or perhaps barred. So we decide to check out the open pathways, one large, one small. The smaller pathway leads to a set of stairs that lead down, the larger to a hallway with 4 doors, one of them a set of double doors at the end. The first door refuses to budge, the next leads to what appears to have been a bedroom, and the door across from it, a kitchen. Both rooms are in disrepair and nothing of value is discovered. The double doors do open and lead to a large room with a partially collapsed wall that appears to have once been a barracks. There is much debris scattered about, but the party notices an intact chest near the collapsed wall.
Molly heads over to inspect the rubble while Griff searches the room. Drayton heads towards the chest while Brenwyn guards the door. Molly spots movement and sees a large lizard scrabbling out of a hole in the ceiling, it quickly moves to attack Drayton. Molly and Brenwyn dispatch it pretty easily. Griff boosts Molly up to peer into the hole from which the lizard had come. As Molly pulls herself up, the ceiling starts to collapse on her and Griff, both nimbly escape the collapse. Brenwyn and Drayton open the chest. They discover 33 copper pieces, some scale mail that appears to be human sized, and a light crossbow with 24 bolts.
Griff takes the scale mail, Brenwyn happily takes the crossbow and bolts, and Molly stashes the copper pieces in her pack, away from Griff and his gambling habit 😉
That bit of business settled, the party heads back to the main room. Brenwyn uses all her might (and the power of her glorious beard) and smashes the door open with one try. Unfortunately what greets her are nine pairs of eyes belonging to the nine men lined up around the perimeter of the room, two of whom have crossbows trained on the door, and a third belonging to the obvious leader, who shouts…”Get her!”
[Yep, the prior attempts at the door and the other noise made by the party had alerted the inhabitants of the room.]
Brenwyn pushes back out of the doorway and a fight ensues! Molly and Brenwyn take out both archers, but the other fighters step in to take their place [and dropped crossbows]. The leader is still shouting, only this time he says…”Get them or you will answer to Leighton!” The battle rages on with most of the party taking a few hits, and Griff and Drayton both go down! Molly rushes to use the party’s two precious (and expensive!) healing potions while Brenwyn tries to hold off the attackers. Unfortunately for Griff…and Brenwyn…the wannabe gambler leaps up to resume fighting just as Brenwyn fires off a crossbow bolt. Instead of hitting one of the attackers, the bolt strikes Griff! The party, however, keeps on fighting and soon have taken out eight of the fighters. As they enter the chamber in search of the leader [who had never joined the fray], they discover that he has turned coward and escaped through a collapsed wall that had been out of their line of sight [the little jog to the south of the room.]
Molly tries to spot some tracks to follow while Griff and the others search the bodies. They find 25 more copper coins, 3 swords, 5 maces, and 6 crossbow bolts. Molly has discovered that the collapsed wall leads right into the moat and the marshlands beyond so the leader’s trail cannot be found. The party gathers up the weapons and coins and makes their way back to town and to the inn. Since it is now nearly evening, the party decides to rest and regroup and to visit the general store in the morning.
The next morning arrives with the party having regained some of their health and they head to the general store with plans to visit Lady Katerine after selling their goods.
Molly works to barter a deal with the shopkeeper [for the shoddy gear recovered from the “bandits” at the Moathouse], learning that his name is Rhodri Bradoor. Rhodri is not impressed with the goods (so he says, and the party did just get him for 2 healing potions) so he is not inclined to take the deal the party offers. Instead the best the group can do is haggle for 18 gold pieces but only if they tell Rhodri where the brigands were that we took the weapons from. Brenwyn readily tells him the information and the deal is struck. Griff then barters a deal to sell his used chainmail for an additional 22 gold pieces, for a total of 40 gold pieces. Not enough for a healing potion, but enough to keep them in rooms and food for a bit.
[Don’t forget…we’re using the magic item prices from the AD&D DM’s Guide. Magic stuff ain’t cheap.]
As the party takes their leave, a tall, thin, sharp featured man with protruding eyes enters the shop and stares at the party, who simply leave and head to Lady Katerine’s.
Granted an audience the party explains what happened at the Moathouse and receive Lady Katerine’s blessing to explore the lower levels, indeed she urges us to hasten to it. Griff earns Lady Katerine’s ire when he makes a comment about Molly’s dowry and she chastises him for trying to arrange a marriage for Molly and tells the story of her great grandmother who was also faced the prospects of a forced marriage against her will.
[Back in our prior Hilltop campaign, Halcyon Ashby–Rachel’s character–had fled Verbobonc as her father, a minor noble type, had arranged a political marriage for her. Her brother Harvey–Todd’s character–had chased her down with instructions from their father to bring her back. This is how the pair of them arrived in Hilltop for that campaign. RJ has played off of that with Griff regularly bringing up that he and Molly need to start collecting for her dowry.]
Drayton takes a moment to ask if Lady Katerine has seen or heard of Karl, relating the information he had learned from Cahill. Lady Katerine does not know of Karl’s whereabouts and she warns the party to stay away from Cahill [as he is something of a ne’er-do-well]. She does relate that there are rumors regarding the hooded figures, but isn’t able to offer any further information. [There are rumors of hooded figures in ochre robes as in “In hushed tones, residents claim to have again spotted ochre-robed priests in the lands surrounding Hilltop.” but they are just rumors at the moment.]
The party decides to once again spend the day regrouping and return to the moat house the following morning. It takes three hours to reach the Moathouse due to Griff’s new armor acquisition [metal armor plus heavy load equals a slow movement]. Griff is attacked by one of the large frogs from the moat but he quickly dispatches it.
The party heads straight to the room where they fought the brigands and find that it has been completely stripped of bodies and equipment. Now on high alert, the party heads downstairs to the lower level. The stairs end in a T so the party heads to the right and finds an old abandoned store room/armory full of rubble and junk. As they move right to head towards some doors they spotted, the rubble starts to move and half a dozen giant rats spew forth! They immediately attack and the party fights back, however both Thunderbeard siblings are bitten. The party kills five of the rats as the 6th runs away.
[Both Thunderbeard siblings were not just hit but had to roll a d20. Craig and Muse were both asked if they wanted to roll high or low. One picked high and the other picked low. High rolled a 20 and low rolled a 1. That must mean something really good or really bad. I’m guessing the latter as it was the result of being bit by a giant rat but nothing apparent yet.]
The party regroups and tries to open both doors but finds them immovable and locked by what seems to be fairly new locks. [No thief in the party.] They decide to head to the passageway to the right which appears to lead to the other side of the stairs, however, as they round the corner they are greeted by a surprise…standing there are eight ragged undead, several with arrows sticking out of them. Molly’s keen eye notes that they are the eight brigands the party had just dispatched the day before! Uh oh!
[And that was where we ended. I’m still digging BFRPG and the group is getting a better hang of things. The campaign is slowly coming together as well. Seamus Malone is missing and his younger siblings are looking for him. Karl Thunderbeard has also now gone missing and appeared to have gone to the Moathouse with an unknown individual, possibly a robed figure…possibly an ochre-robed figure. Could there be a connection between the two missing siblings? How turned the eight slain brigands into ragged undead? Who is Leighton? Where did the brigand leader go? That’s a good start for now.]