16 Feb

Return to Hilltop Session 3 (BFRPG)

Oh dear…zombies! After spending a couple of days recovering from their second foray to the moathouse, the siblings headed back to the ruined fortification. They found that the area in which the brigands had camped had been cleared out! Knowing that others have been here since they last were, they were on alert as they headed down some stairs they had previously bypassed…stairs that presumably led down to a cellar. Turned out to be a big cellar with the brigands that they had previously slain now zombies! We pick up this session as the party encounters the zombified brigands.

Muse was missing this session but Bridgett joined us as a guest player and played Brenwyn. 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 RJ and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].

When we turned the corner, there were eight undead creatures, some with arrows sticking out of them. They looked like the brigands we dispatched a couple of days ago. Brenwyn stepped forward and rebuked the foul creatures with holy power but the undead kept advancing. The rest of us stepped forward and formed a battle line to keep them from getting around behind us. Griff went down after a couple of powerful blows from two of the undead. Brenwyn healed Griff and got him back up again but he was immediately struck down again. When Molly fell to the creatures, the creeping fear that we will be overrun comes to the fore. Brenwyn is able to get Griff up again but she can’t reach Molly; the zombies are blocking the way. We retreated to smaller room, leaving the dying Molly behind, and changed strategy, letting only one undead in the room at a time. Griff is dropped by attacks again and then Drayton fell as well, leaving Brenwyn fighting on her own against the last of the undead. She was hit by a glancing blow and returned one of her own that put the creature down.

[This got tense. Unfortunately, through no real coordination on their part, the eight zombies were able to break the original defensive line set by the party. If they had remained in their original location, the PCs that remained standing would have been swarmed. They had little choice but to leave Molly behind and hope for the best…meaning that the zombies would keep going after them rather than partaking of a quick meal AND that Molly wouldn’t succumb to her wounds before they could get to her. Then Griff dropped and then Drayton. By the time it was a one-on-one battle between Brenwyn and a zombie, the cleric only had one hit point left. She was able to then reduce the zombie to one hit point as well…which I shared with the group. So it basically came down to who would hit who first. I think both missed for a round or two but then Brewnwyn got in the last blow. One hit point for a TPK. Like I said, it was pretty tense…and great!]

Brenwyn rushes out to check on Molly and finds she is still breathing. She stabilizes all three of us and drags us into the small room. She places Griff against the door and ties a rope to him and the handle of the door as the door opens out into the corridor. Since it will be some time before her companions regain consciousness, Brenwyn explored the small room. She discovered a loose stone in the wall. Pulling it out, she found a pouch in a small cubby dug out in the dirt behind. Inside the pouch is a blue gem, an aquamarine. She put the pouch in her backpack and put the stone back. After checking on the others, Brenwyn settled in for the night and hoped for the best.

In the morning, everyone is conscious but in a weakened state and the decision is made to head back to town. Before leaving, Brenwyn cut off the feet off of the undead creatures in the hopes that they wouldn’t be animated again. We made our way up the stairs and out of the moathouse, taking the rest of the morning to stumble back to Hilltop.

[Luckily for the party, the roll for wandering monsters indicated that none occurred during the night.]

We made it back to the Bugbear’s Bed and Brews, washed up, and had some lunch. Exhausted, Griff headed to his room for some rest. Molly and Drayton decided to inform Lady Katerine about what had been found at the moathouse. Brenwyn stayed at the inn. Once everyone else had left, she headed to the money-changers, having seen a sturdy building with a sign of three coins during some prior strolls around the village.

[Yes, she’s a cleric but she’s also a dwarven cleric and we all know how dwarves love gold and gems. She just, um, wanted to see how valuable the gem was before sharing with the rest of the party. Best to have full information first…right? Right?]

Molly and Drayton were quickly given an audience with Lady Katerine and told her about the undead creatures. The Lady’s eyes flare like a stoked flame and she expressed grave concern at this sign of evil and danger at the doorstep of Hillstop. The pair filled her in on the new locks on the doors in the cellar and their belief that someone is occupying the moathouse. Lady Katerine asked that they finish their investigations at the moathouse and keep her informed. She would also cover the cost of their stay at the inn. Once they finished their investigation and exploration of the moathouse, she may have another task that they could assist with. One, she indicated, that might involve the elder Malone, Seamus…the missing brother!

[If you’ve forgotten from a prior recap, Molly and Griff had come to Hilltop in search of their older brother, Seamus, who had gone missing. Seamus, a merchant, had been at least a week late from his expected return to Verbobonc from his most recent trade venture. Hilltop would have been one of his stops and so they had come here to start their search so that’s a pretty big carrot that I just dangled in front of Rachel and RJ. 😉 ]

Arriving at what she hopes to be a place that she can learn the value of the gem, Brenwyn is greeted by a guard with two large war dogs on a leash. The dogs began a low growl as she approached the shop but the guard reined them in and allowed her to enter the shop. Inside is a balding, slightly overweight man behind a counter. With a large, warm smile on his face, he introduced himself as Neleos Malachias and asked how he could be of service. Introducing herself, Brenwyn showed him the gem and asked what it is worth. After commenting that the gem’s beauty was nothing in comparison to that of Brewnwyn’s luscious beard, Neleos shared that it is probably worth between 400 and 450 gold but that he’d only be able to offer 375 for it. Brenwyn thanked him and before taking her leave, let him know that she might be back and take him up on the offer.

A guard accompanied Molly and Drayton back to the inn and let Otmar, the innkeeper, know that Lady Katerine would be covering the stay of the pair of siblings…but only one ale per person per night. Cahill [see the prior recaps for more on this NPC] approached Drayton and said that he had some information about the dwarf’s sister. Drayton bought an ale and Cahill shared that Brenwyn had left the inn shortly after Drayton had. She headed straight for the Neleos’ place, the money changer. Cahill even inquired if Drayton would like for him to keep an eye on Brenwyn but Drayton declined, informing the troublemaker of the close relationship between him and his sister.

Brenwyn returned to the inn and asked Drayton to head up to their room. There, she informed him of the gem she found and how much the money changer thinks it is worth. Drayton thanked her for telling him and let her know that Cahill had followed her. They let Griff and Molly know about the gem and decide to head to the general store in hopes that they can exchange the gem for a healing potion.

At the store, Rhodri is rather abrupt with the group and all business. Molly purchased some arrows before we show the gem. We asked to trade it for two healing potions and Rhodri laughed and said that he wouldn’t even give one such potion in exchange for the gem. He offered 300gp for it but we declined and left. As we left, Molly saw the man standing in the shadow of some shelves and looking at us intently…the same man who had glared at us on our prior visit to the store. When we got outside, Molly let us know what she saw.

We decided to stay the night and rest up before heading out again.

In the morning, we headed back to the moathouse. As we approached the main doors, there is a guttural roar of “DWARVES!!!” An ogre came running out, swinging an enormous club. Luckily it missed with each swing and, just as luckily, we took it down rather quickly. We searched it but other than the club, it had nothing on it. We decapitated the ogre just to be safe. We head inside and find that much hasn’t changed in the last two days outside of what we think is the ogre’s bed in the room the brigands had had their camp.

[Hmmm…so did an ogre just happen along and decide to make the moathouse its new home? I suppose that could be the case.]

We headed down the stairs. The two doors that had been locked before are now slightly ajar. Nothing is inside. It does look as though several crates or the like had been dragged out of the room. Molly also noticed some dwarven footprints. [Karl perhaps?] We headed back around the corner where we had found the zombies and undead rats waiting for us. Yep, the same rats they had fought on one of the prior visits.] We defeated them quickly but both Molly and Brenwyn were bitten which we were concerned about.

[I’m not sure it got mentioned previously but both Drayton and Brewnwyn did fall ill…briefly…from rat bites when the party had previously encountered these rats. Both successfully recovered from their illness within a day or so.]

Looking in an area that hadn’t been explored before, we realized it is a torture chamber with a rack and a skeleton on it. Although the skeleton didn’t animate, we decided it would be safer to take off its head just in case.

There is another door that hasn’t been opened yet and so we open it. Inside is a small room filled with trash and debris with a rough path to another door. As we reached the other door, a guttural voice roared and asked, “Who dere?” Griff shouted out friends as our response. There was another roar as the door swung open and another Ogre charged out. This one is larger and better armored than the other one and brandished a large halberd! With one swing, it took down Drayton but we were able to finish it off. Brenwyn revived her brother and we explored the ogre’s chamber.

We found a chest with several several coins and some cracked and broken items. There was also a make shift bed in the corner. Searching it, we found a fine leather cloak that looked in perfect condition. We also spotted another door leading out of this room with a large wooden bar across it. A bar on this side, effectively locking it from the other side.

[What dangers might lie beyond that would lead an ogre to bar the door?!? This is where we stopped for the evening.

It was a great session. Lots of threats. Lots of tension. Exploration. Fun in-character interactions. Lots of feet and heads removed to prevent having to fight the same foes again after they get zombified or “re-zombified.” A “dungeon” environment (the moathouse) that is responsive to what is happening when the PCs can leave for days and come back. All kinds of things that I enjoy and I think all the players did too.

I’m still loving BFRPG and, of course, T1 The Village of Hommlet and what we’re doing with it. It is quite possibly, as others have pointed out (e.g., here, here, and here), the perfect D&D adventure. I absolutely love it and I’m looking forward to seeing how things go this time around with it.]

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