11 May

Return to Hilltop Session 11 (BFRPG)

Dunridge Quarry or, more precisely, the mines at the quarry, became the focus of our heroes’ explorations in the last session. Successfully getting into the mines without being noticed, they explored a good bit. However, they also got into a few fights. The last fight of that session, in particular, depleted a lot of the party’s resources and left them split up. Molly, Efan, and Francis had all been overcome by magical fear and fled during the fight. Molly came face to face with a bugbear and yelled for help. The others came running to aid her as the bugbear carried Molly’s unconscious body around a corner and behind a locked metal gate/door. That is where we pick up this session.

All four players were in attendance for this session. There are potential spoilers for T1 The Village of Hommlet as well as A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry below the break. This recap is from Muse and my comments, as usual, are in [brackets and italics].


we find ourselves on the other side of the locked portcullis door and Haemon begins to try and pick the lock but it is taking a long time. Brenwyn and Pol are standing watch while everyone is urging Haemon to hurry it up.

[BFRPG specifically indicates that it takes about a turn to pick a lock…so about ten minutes. That’s significantly different than more recent editions where, in 3.5 for example, it is a full-round action which means six seconds! I keep reminding the players that these things take time. 😉 ]

Suddenly an arrow shoots out of the dark tunnel, striking Poul, who falls down and onto the torch, plunging us into darkness.

[The bugbear had yelled for the goblins before departing. Sadly, the dice were not kind to the players. I ruled a 1 in 6 chance that the torch went out as Poul fell. You guessed it…the roll was a 1.]

Brenwyn uses the opportunity to look [with darkvision] and spots seven goblins slinking down the tunnel towards us. She warns the party they have guests. She steps over to Poul to heal his wounds and get him back on his feet. By this time the goblins are upon us, and though we fight valiantly, one by one we all go down [incapacitated and unconscious]. Things are not looking too good for the party right now.

[A number of the PCs went into this fight with just a hit point or two so it didn’t look good going into the fight.]

Meanwhile…

Molly wakes up to find her arms are manacled to the wall above her as she sits on a cold stone floor. All of her weapons and belongings are gone and the room stinks of blood and filth. She twists and tugs to no avail…she’s not escaping.

Later…

Brenwyn wakes up. She is in the same situation as Molly, but she does not know this. She is chained in a small alcove, across from her is Labaash and to the other side, Poul and Haemon. They are all manacled to the wall as she is and all are unconscious.

She calls out softly to Poul trying to wake him. When he does not respond, she calls out a little louder, which while not waking Poul, does get the attention of Molly who calls out to her.

The two try talking but are told to be quiet by a rough gravely voice that Molly knows all too well…the bugbear who captured her. Brenwyn tries to let Molly know that Poul, Labaash and Haemon are with her, when very near to her she hears…”I said…Be Quiet!” and she sees the bugbear. She demands…”who are you?” and his response is to club her with his cudgel, knocking her unconscious once more.

Later…

Haemon wakes up and is trying every trick he can think of to escape the manacles, to which the bugbear laughs assures Haemon he won’t be going anywhere until it is time to be sold as slaves and leaves Haemon to his attempts. Around this time Labaash rouses and starts talking to try and get the bugbear’s attention, talking about buried jewels. The bugbear takes the bait, but not in the manner Labaash expected. The bugbear [dubbed FurFace by the heroes], leaves and returns with a leather collar and a 5 foot pole. He affixes the collar to Labaash’s neck and then attaches the pole to a ring in the back of the collar. He sneers that they are going to go meet the boss and he leads Labaash away.

Haemon and Molly renew their efforts to free themselves, all the while yelling for Poul to wake up. They are shushed several times by unseen voices who do not answer when asked who they are.

Poul finally wakes, confused and disoriented. Molly and Haemon quickly fill him in on what is going on and Haemon urges Poul to try and break free, offering “suggestions” to the man which only anger him and he snaps at Haemon that he’s not stupid.

[None of Poul’s attempts were successful. Seems like good time to have a little tangent discussion on dice and game reality. All of the attempts to pull the chains from the wall or find a weak link or what have you all had a die roll associated with them. The rolls were not simply a check for success or failure…which I think a lot of people assume…but also defining the reality of the game world and the situation in which the PCs find themselves. The failed rolls didn’t just mean that Poul failed to break the chains but also indicated that these were some well-crafted and solidly mounted chains. This suggested that the whole slaving operation is professional and rather competent at what they are doing rather than just a bunch of thugs trying their hand at this. To be honest, I hadn’t really given much thought to this until the dice suggested such. This influenced much of the rest of the session. Now back to your regularly scheduled recap…]

Haemon suddenly hears a very soft voice right next to him telling him to be quiet. He does not and he and Molly are still talking when Molly hears it too, right next to her.

Haemon decides that he is going to start to sing…loudly and will not stop. This earns him a punch to the face, knocking him out.

[I’m pretty sure Haemon began his serenade that was interrupted with the blow to his head before the person approach Molly. Didn’t Molly insist on asking questions…quietly…but questions nonetheless?]

A short while later, Brenwyn wakes up and spots a figure standing over Poul. She stills and watches the figure, waiting to see what will happen, waiting to see if there is an attack. There is not and the figure moves to Haemon, picking up his head and turning it side to side. Brenwyn continues to watch and flicks her gaze over to Poul, who she notices is free from his manacles!

The figure appears in front of Brenwyn and holds a finger to his lips.

She nods and remains quiet. The figure releases her bonds and she thanks him. She asks to speak to Poul and Molly and the trio learns that the mine is a front for a slave ring, and Erak Bloodaxe is the man in charge. The trio try to hatch a plan but time is running out and the figure we assume to be Parma, Lady Katerine’s missing man, says he must re-shackle us.

[There was quite a bit of specific information learned from and shared with the presumed Parma. To prove that they were who they claimed, Molly shared that Lady Katerine had sent them, concerned about her missing man, Parma. This individual simply said, “Not here,” when asked if his name was Parma. The party shared that the Lady was hoping that they could also find evidence of someone was behind her not receiving stone from the quarry. Parma shared the information about the quarry being a front for a slave ring and that Erak ran things with Glyrthiel as his second in command. He also shared that Seamus…the elder brother of Molly and the late Griff…had been a captive and transported elsewhere a couple of weeks prior. The slavers used an underground river on the next level below and a small skiff to take slaves to a barge on a nearby river to transport the slaves elsewhere. They typically waited until they had a few dozen before shipping them off. The slaves were fed and watered only periodically to keep them malnourished and weak and more easily controlled (remember…professionals). The so-called dwarves on the “night shift” in the mine are not dwarves but goblins. He confirmed that he had heard that someone was paying Erak for stone to not be delivered (he didn’t say who but he also wasn’t asked so he may or may not know). That the bugbear did frequent head counts. He shared that if the party did escape, it would be likely that the captives would be killed and the operation might move. He shared information about the layout of the bugbear’s quarters. He had not heard of anyone named Leighton.]

Meanwhile…

Labaash is experiencing the walk of shame. As FurFace leads him up through the tunnels, goblins appear from all sides to throw excrement at him and some attempt to urinate on him. FurFace sends them away. Labaash tries to strike a deal with FurFace who simply laughs and chokes the gnome. Labaash is taken to the guard house and as they wait, FurFace makes Labaash aware that after this is over, Labaash is his.

[A number of times while Labaash was with him, FurFace shared that no one betrays Erak Bloodaxe. Nobody.]

Suddenly a dwarf and a female elf arrive. It is Erak and Glyrthiel. The dwarf demands to know where the jewels are, threatening Labaash…”Tell me where they are now, and I wont turn you over to her.”…nodding towards Glyrthiel. Labaash takes a little convincing, but soon he is hooded and taken for a walk uphill by FurFace and Glyrthiel. He hears FurFace curse and the hood is removed. They are at the ventilation shaft which the party used to enter the mine. [Labaash did tell them that he had buried the jewels next to a shaft into the mines…I suppose we can’t blame him for not knowing that this was the only such shaft. 😉 ] Labash tries to buy some time, digging where he says the jewels were buried and tries to blame party members whom he didn’t trust. The bugbear and the elf take him back to a chamber below […inside the small keep overlooking the quarry]. Labaash tries to be sneaky and “scratch an itch” [in an attempt to unhook the pole from the collar around his neck] but FurFace is wise to the trick and just laughs. [Professionals…and a failure on a pick pockets as a “sleight of hand” type check.]

The trio enter the chamber just in time to see Erak handing money to Heylin and Gilbert…(the traitors!) Erak tells Glyrthiel that Labaash is now hers and she is ecstatic. As Heylin and Gilbert pass by, they say to him…”Sorry little guy, business is business. Our lady pays better than yours.”

Glyrthiel takes her prize to a chamber on the roof, bearing a large pole in the center from which manacles are dangling. As she starts to shackle Labaash, he tries to break free, stomping on her foot, she simply laughs and finishes her task [seemingly getting pleasure from the attack].

She tells the gnome he has once chance to tell her what she wants to know, but Labaash is still flippant in his answers and so begins to show him how wrong he is, carving the cheek from his face.

Labaash also spit in Glyrthiel’s face which seemed to cause her to shudder in pleasure…this is one scary, messed up elf!]

Back down below, fifteen minutes after Parma leaves (by Brenwyn’s count) FurFace returns and begins to antagonize Molly, boasting how he will receive a bonus for being the one to capture her. He walks away and soon we hear him counting, he stops at Molly last, with the count of 31. This gives us a count of the other slaves down here…there are 4 of us and 27 others, Parma included. We rest fitfully, no food or water has been brought to us. Brenwyn estimates that 12 hours have passed when Parma shows up again, asking what the plan is.

We say we want to leave to go and get help and Parma refuses, saying to do so means a death sentence for the others, himself included. So the group discusses what their options are. Our only chance is to kill FurFace while he sleeps and escape. The plan is detailed…the party will rest and try to heal some more and hope for food and water. Once the meal is over, Parma will race to the sinkhole and retrieve the weapons from our fallen party member a reference to Efan who had, in fact, fallen down a sinkhole…a sinkhole that connects up with another sinkhole on this side of the “jail” door], and then, while FurFace is asleep, Haemon will sneak up and attack him, the rest of us will dash in, using whatever weapons we can find to kill the vile creature.

[There are three potential exits that were now known to the party. The shaft through which they entered…remember they had no idea that Labaash had let the slavers know that they had entered through the ventilation shaft but it was certainly possible he had. There was also the cave mouth that went through the quarry and past the gaze of the keep. Lastly, the underground river that Parma had shared information about.]

As we rest, unbeknownst to us, Labaash is meeting his demise too. Glyrthiel has begun to [slowly] flay the gnome alive.

[The details are disturbing and were not shared but rest assured RJ, I had at least one nightmare about Glyrthiel thanks to all this!]

The following day, the goblins bring forth meager bread and water, waiting for us to eat. Brenwyn had hoped to bless the food, but she decided not to take the chance with goblins standing over her. Instead the party waited until FurFace was taking his afternoon nap and they sprang into action, killing the bugbear before he could even get out of bed. We strip him of his key, and taking his wrench and cudgel make our way to the tunnels. Parma insists that we clear an escape path for the slaves and both paths are fraught with danger, but it is ultimately decided to go down to get out. We will clear a path from below, hoping the cultists are easier (and fewer) to overcome than trying to take out many guards and goblins. But we must first get through the goblin encampment!

[Parma also introduced the party to another of the captives…a half-elf named Falban. A warrior who had been a caravan guard, captured with some merchants, and wanted to help with the escape. If you haven’t put two and two together yet, Falban is RJ’s new character.]

We are able to fight and take down the first four goblins, but the noise brings the other four who were mining not far away and Brenwyn is brought down as two of the goblins attack her at the same time, the stalwart falling to her injuries. [A critical hit for almost maximum damage.] The party finishes off the other four and Poul picks up Brenwyn as it is decided to take her rather than leave her in the cells with the other captives.

We descend down the ramp to the third level and discover a space with a shallow pool and two locked doors, with three keyholes a piece…curses! Haemon inspects both doors and finds they both looked trapped, with only one keyhole on each being safe. [Each of the other keyholes had a small rod in it that would likely move if unlocked or picked.] None of our impromptu tools nor FurFace’s key will work. Haemon and Molly urge the party to return to the temple area to see if a key can be found to help us, so the party makes the trek back to the temple [and find another priest praying at the strange monolith]. We try to once again sneak up on the priest who is kneeling by the spire. But once again, we make a noise [Brenwyn this time.] and the priest turns and casts a spell as the party attacks. Haemon is hit by the spell and takes off running as the others quickly kill the priest. Parma takes off after Haemon, catching him and bringing him back. A search of the priest’s body reveals a key, and a set of chainmail armor that is given to Poul to wear. A stone mace is also added to our cache of weapons.

Back down at the locked doors, Haemon tries the first, only to find a dark corridor that stinks of rotting meat. Hastily closing that door, he tries the other. No such smell on this one and we follow the corridor to find a chamber with a fluted column in the center of it and the sound of water thru a tunnel to our left. Haemon goes to the right to inspect what appears to be another tunnel leading off, but steps into a trap and is suddenly dangling ten feet in the air by a foot. He tries to wiggle and cut the rope, asking Poul to come and help him [to catch him when he cuts himself free]. The big man refuses, Brenwyn’s unconcious form still clutched in his arms. Haemon frees himself and he and Molly spend some time trying to explore the floor for more traps. Haemon heads off down the tunnel that had been “protected” by the snare trap, but disturbs something that begins to make it’s way towards the party…and that is where we ended…

Farewell Labaash…Hope you feel better! [Inside joke…RJ once had a cleric character of his say a prayer at a funeral, ending it with “I hope you feel better” or something along those lines. I’m not sure he’ll ever live that one down. 😀

And that’s where we ended the session. I’m not really sure where things are going to go from here but I know that I’ve got a question…where in the blazes is Leighton?!? Why haven’t the party come across him or at least some sign of him yet? If he does happen to be down on this lower level, is the party even equipped–figuratively and literally–to handle him at this point?

Good question, daHeadRat…I hope you won’t be too upset that I won’t answer those questions. 😉 ]

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