Monday, April 1, 2024

The Battle For Vulture Point Act I Scene V

Hiram's evening was disturbed by different demons. He had been escorted to a more distant room and, at midnight, a ghostly figure materialized before his banked fire, singing a plaintive song. Again, Hiram's nerve failed him in the presence of the supernatural and the young man screamed and pulled the covers over his head rather than meet eyes with the ghost (which in all the stories bears dire consequences). Soon one of Ambleer's dwarvish servants opened the door and, when pressed by the discomfited nobleman, explained that the manor house did have a ghost, a musician who was reputedly murdered here some centuries back. She must have been attracted by his lordship's own musical talent. Hiram was not flattered by the compliment and spent the remainder of the evening downstairs in the hall, with the night servants bustling about in their efforts to clean the house and prepare things for the birding party.

In the morning lord Ambleer saw his guests off with horses, crossbows (the servants having repaired Melas' ancestral weapon), provender (including coffee in insulated containers) and a map of Vulture Point. As they were leaving Dietrich commented that since Vulture Point was such a prime strategic position there should be a permanent encampment of the guard present there, only to learn that a century ago that had been the case, but with the growth of sea travel and the diminution of road traffic to Emirikol the senate had deemed it an unnecessary expense, and it was outside Lord Ambleer's lands so he lacked the right to station a force there himself. This cast a new light on Hiram's oft heard tales of how the bumbling northerners could not take obvious steps to defend themselves, even before the sliver of the sun cast new light on the terrain. The nobles set out, intent on clearing away the gnomish bandits and their vulture pets before noontime.

In the pre-dawn light, our four noble heroes made their way along the cobbled road till Vulture Point was in sight, then took a side path to avoid detection while they compared map to reality in an attempt to find the best path of ascent. The cliff face did indeed resemble a vulture whose open beak formed a declivity which once housed an imperial garrison and has since been home to an endless cycle of bandits. While there was a hewn path that approached the 'mouth' from the northeast, the foursome did not dare take that lest they rouse sentries or trigger traps on so obvious a route. Instead, they stuck to the western slope, moving up one of the gentler parts of the incline with Cybele's strong arms and sure feet picking out a path when the incline approached the vertical.

The group was roped together, which proved a boon at points, and despite one brief slip no harm was done and little sound was made. They passed under the vulture's beak, eschewing entry through any of the waste holes that carried water, detritus and offal out of the vulture's maw, opting to circle out of sight to the head of the hewn path, where they might enter with safe footing having circumvented all obstacles. The lack of any organized resistance to their arrival was taken as proof that this had worked, but passage through the maw into the caverns below was blocked by dozens of vulture nests.

Melas again raised his argument about the improbability of Vulture Point both looking like a vulture and being infested with them, to which Cybele replied "I don't know… my aunt Bunny's land is just infested with rabbits. . ."

They conferred quickly in the brightening day before Hiram's plan to light some of the nests with thrown oil was adopted. The hope was that this would startle and scatter the beasts and throw any defenders into disarray and with the young actor's strong pitching arm this was achieved - oil spattered and caught over 4 of the nests, sending a flock of panicked animals into the sky. Before our heroes could press their advantage a quartet of giant vultures, each the size of a pony, emerged from one of the deeper tunnels and, in a trained fashion, took to the sky bearing stones!

Rocks rained down on our heroes as they retaliated with crossbow bolts and magical attacks, with damage on both sides. Two of the giant vultures dropped their rocks and landed to press the attack. While they drew blood on Dietrich and Melas, they fell to those warriors' deft rapier and tremendous greatsword as Hiram and Cybele accounted for the two remaining fliers. Once Melas removed the neck of the enormous carrion beast with a single swipe of his greatsword both he and Hiram spotted someone preparing to attack their position - not Gnomes, but Dog Men! Melas charged forward and engaged the agile creatures, finding them harder to strike than the vultures. Still, between his skill, Hiram's support and a timely spell from the Lady Floriane the beast men guards were dispatched.

But as the panicked normal vultures began to reassess the situation or heroes are left with few options but to seek shelter inside the caves, now know as home to more beast men, and therefore more threats to themselves and the stability of the Republic.


And this is where we ended the first session: the advantage of being in our 30’s and able to dedicate entire days to gaming, I figure this took us about 6 hours. Some notes

·       The PCs acquired enough XP to go from 1st to 2nd level, not that it mattered given out strange start.

·       The 3E is more formulaic then 1E/2E when it comes to cash gained, which actually worked for me here. But more importantly the magical headband on the skull, and the magical pearl, were very small treasures GP wise that I was able to imbue with cultural significance well beyond their worth. Plus the clever rules tweaks – the belt increases Strength for just carrying capacity, the ring gave you extra languages (in Hiram’s case the languages of ghosts and devils) – etc. are just fun minor things that are rewards without breaking the game.

·       I love the ability loss rules for 3E because they give low level PCs other resource pools to threaten – the spider venom can sap Melas Strength without it being save or die or HP loss – for more tension levers.     

·       Dave failing his saves against both the Lesser Vargoulle head and the ghost set up a nice running gag for the game; there’s another one coming next session for Deitrich.

·       The complex backstory for the 2E adventures is actually useful for Hiram’s Bardic Lore ability, since I have the framework of history on hand to work from. It wasn’t useful in 1E at all because no one was using Legend Lore to learn about this nonsense that I knew of, but when it’s a minor class power with no resource loss this is useful!

So far, 3E was doing exactly what I needed it to, and the outcomes weren’t significantly different than what a 1E party would have encountered.

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