Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Council of Thieves: Welcome to Westcrown

Saturday continued my descent into playing more actively as Jim took over the reigns from me and started the 'The Council of Thieves' AP for Pathfinder. This is the game that will take over for the 'Rise of the Runelords' game for the time being. As usual I will chronicle what happened and add my own thoughts on the game, good or bad. Luckily it was good. Now let's introduce the heroes from the game.

The Players:

Jess - Naustia ( half elf Oracle of Life 1/ haunted curse/ out of her element)
Brian - Semkirk ( human Wizard 1/Orthomancer/insane/hairless/ONLY wears a kilt)
Matt - Capt. Maxmillian Wintrish (human Cavalier 1/minor drunk/omni-sexual)
Mike - Morris Seadrake (half orc Ranger 1/two weapon specialist/friends call him Morrey)
Bruce - D'in a Lorn ( half elf Rogue 1/information collector/friends call him Din)
Me - Arghen (half orc Paladin of Cayden Cailean 1/bartender in Westcrown/friendly & humble)
Jim - DM (our DM/does DM things/rolls dice to hurt our PC's/enjoys his job...)

The session began with Din getting a message from another townie asking to meet her to discuss a matter of importance, urgency and secrecy. Naturally the rogue liked all three of those and went to check out this meeting. When there he was introduced to a fellow townie in a new light as one who is trying to start a secret revolution against the corruption and tyranny in the area. That the local citizens of Westcrown are suffering under the boot heel of the Thrice Damned Throne that rules over Cheliax and how she and others like her want to help those suffering and restore Westcrown to its former glory and prosperity.

Din was then given a list of other people that her husband was checking out as potential allies which, coincidentally, are the other PC's. And Din begins to meet with us over the next few days to invite us to this meeting and to do some reconnaissance on each of us as well.

For me this intro was pretty clunky and didn't flow very well. One big reason was while most of us are already vested in Westcrown as locals Jess's character (and maybe even Brian's character too) was traveling through and doesn't have any connection to us at all. If I would have done it I would have started this off in a tavern (cliche I know) where we all would have been at to either eat, drink or get room for the night. A group of HellKnight recruits would have been harassing some local folks and the 'heroes' are given a chance to stand up to the bullies and beat their asses in public. Not only would that bring us together a bit easier but now gives all of us credentials as possible allies to this uprising and reason for the non-local PC's to be asked to join. It's a minor nitpick but I felt our meeting just felt forced. I think it was some DM rust at play and the rest of the night was much better and smoother once that rust got shook out.

So we all get invited to meet at this new tavern that is opening in town for a private dinner and to discuss what all this secrecy is about. Arghen arrives extra early, when the delivery wagons arrive to introduce himself and inquire about work as a bartender. Why not since I have 'profession:bartender' as a skill. He shows some good faith by helping unload the wagons and helping set up of the dinner even though he is a guest. Din arrives at an early time as well to see Arghen beat him there but he hides back to check on activity around the building and to see when the others arrive and greet them. We all sit down and discuss what is going on locally and our new patron, who's name escapes me now, decides we are a good fit and brings us on board when we agree to help. She is looking nervous though and after a few 'sense motive' checks a few of us know she's on edge. Arghen asks her politely why she's looking out towards the windows and she tells us she's worried as her husband, and leader of this, hasn't arrived yet. I get up to close the shutters on the windows and put the bar on the door as a precaution and some extra security.

After dinner concludes there is a pounding on the door. Arghen goes and answers it and a child, out of breath, staggers in to tell us her husband was captured by the local HellKnight garrison and will be taken away to be executed for treason and they are sending a detachment of HellKnights to capture all of us. Our patron leads us to a secret passage into the sewers so we all can escape. She quickly warns us about some of the dangers in the sewers, goblins and the errant shadow beast, but as long as we follow a particular symbol she marked the walls with when they first came across this passage we can find our way out. She takes the kid and will make a distraction for any following HellKnights so we can escape.

The sewer passageways are only 5 feet high in most spots so we are all stooped over and it makes movement difficult. There are some larger areas down there that open up so we can stand and fight. Luckily we come across one and within are three HellKnight initiates who are lost but are still searching for us. We get the drop on them and Arghen approaches to offer them a chance to walk away but they instead threaten us and attack. Combat ensues and now there are dead HellKnights at our feet.

Moving along we encountered some zombies in a cramped tunnel that was hiding out in the 'poo water' in the sewer. Now almost all of us are hunched over and two handed weapons (like Arghen's great axe) are useless here. Of course I could just drop into the poo water for extra room. Nope, I decide to punch the zombie nearest to me. I actually got two good hits on it as well. Morrey jumped into the poo water, so did Capt. Max. Morrey failed a Dex check and stepped on something in the water and fell prone in it. Ewww.
Mouth full of poo water ensued. Combat continued. Zombies re-dead-ed. We move on upwind from Morrey and Max.

Finally we reach another larger chamber where we hear some approaching HellKnights coming from our rear. We take up defensible positions and prepare to engage as needed. Arghen stepped up to the entry way with Max at his left, Morrey behind him, Din off to the right with bow ready and Naustia and Semkirk in the rear ready to give magical assistance.

While I'm talking about magical assistance I need to clarify what it means when I said Semkirk was an Orthomancer in the player introduction. He's a dentist/wizard. A scholar of molar and arcane. Basically he's a total loon. His spell effects also have a very dental theme about them too. For example when he casts 'Magic Missle' the unerring bolt of force resembles a small mouth of snapping teeth streaking at its target. 'Ray of Frost' was renamed 'Frost-Bite' for similar reasons. This is my friend Brian.

*face palm*

Well Arghen (me) issued a notice to surrender and avoid any further bloodshed as we have the three HellKnights outnumbered and have the advantage of terrain. This group had a lieutenant who decided calling Arghen a 'filthy half breed' and charging to attack was the better option. Combat commenced. Arghen already readied an action to attack the first opponent who got in front of him so the leader was the target. Arghen called out to Cayden Cailean to smite his foe and power attacked straight into this armored opponent splitting him like an over ripened melon with his great axe. The then looked up at the other two and offered a surrender option to them. One took it, the other charged into combat. Max stepped out and kept the attacker at bay with his hammer and shield fighting stance while whittling him down to unconscious.

While this was happening Naustia was scanning the surroundings and noticed a large group of six goblins approaching from another passageway. She yelled this out and Morrey, Din, Semkirk and she began to fight the swarm of the grimy devils. When Arghen knew Max had the HellKnight under control he stepped up to assist the others. And boy were those goblins a pain in the ass! Being small meant their armor class got bonuses and it made hitting them difficult. Except for Semkirk and his magic toothy missiles. Eventually the goblins were put down and the two surviving HellKnights were stripped of their weapons and armor and Arghen told them to "Take this as a new beginning for their lives. A gift of freedom shouldn't be squandered, it should be embraced. Be something greater than what you were. Now run."

The heroes eventually made it out of the sewers and into a hideout for the rebels in Westcrown where we got cleaned up, fed and caught up on what was going to happen to our patron's husband. We now knew the HellKnights were going to transport him to their citadel for interrogation then execution tomorrow during the day. We know the route to the citadel and plan an ambush to rescue him with the help of the rebels. All we needed to do was borrow a wagon from them they wouldn't mind us 'breaking'.

So the next morning we ride out from Westcrown early to set up. The carriage and escorts will be coming through around mid-day so we have time. First we disable our wagon so it looks like a breakdown. Naustia asks Arghen what is the religion the knights follow and he tells them Asmodeus like most in Cheliax. She reaches into her pouch and pulls out a wooden holy symbol of Asmodeus and says she will fake being a cleric on the way to the citadel. Morrey takes a hiding spot under the bridge we chose as our ambush spot, Din hides out along some large stones by the waters edge while Semkirk and Arghen hide in the grove of trees.

Mid-day arrives and the carriage comes thundering up the road to the bridge to see Max and Naustia calling for help. The HellKnights, in their arrogance, only offer threats and demands to move the wagon. Max tried to convince them that they were on their way to have his lady (Naustia) take holy orders at the citadel but their commanding officer rebuked that saying no such orders are being performed. As our ruse was starting to break the rebels swarmed up from the south to draw attention. The four knights on horseback rode off after them into some freshly placed caltrops that caused the horses to buck their riders off into the ground.

Morrey took this as his cue and came up from under the bridge, scimitar in hand, and sliced through the reigns of one of the wagon's horses loosening it. Semkirk fired off a flare spell into the face of one of the six carriage knights disorienting them, Max approached ready for combat while Din snuck up behind one of the rear carriage guards and knocked him out with a sneak attack with his sap. Arghen left the treeline, great axe in hand and motioned to the commander to 'bring it'. Combat ensues.

The commander gets down from the carriage and throws insults at Arghen and Arghen calls for divine aid then charges the commander. During the charge Jim asked me to roll perception and I rolled high enough to see this guy was very afraid as he had the sweats and was trembling. I swing with all my might with the great axe and flip the blade so the flat strikes only. Now with the penalty for striking for non lethal damage is -4 on the roll, plus a +2 bonus for charging, +1 bonus for the smite and -1 for power attack. I rolled high enough that I hit his AC (18) dead on. I successfully dealt him 23 points of non lethal damage rendering the commander unconscious. When that happened I played a plot twist card giving me a +20 bonus to a diplomacy check where I asked the three knights that watched me do that to surrender. I roll and the total comes out to 39 on the check. They break on their next turn and haul ass out of there. Max and Morrey subdue the last of the ones showing resistance on their turn. Arghen searches the commander for keys to the holding cell in the carriage and gives them to Din to get out the prisoner. After the rescue we get his belongings back from the storage compartment on the carriage and get out of the area.

We get back to the hideout and while the rest of the party goes inside with our newly rescued contact Arghen, Max and Naustia return the horses to the stables nearby where we come across the bellows of a pompous ass of a man yelling at the stable master about his lack of horses he requested. Arghen interjects in a friendly manner that his horses are now ready for him. Mr. Blowhard drops the 'half breed' comment liberally and Arghen smiles and begins to brush down the horses. Mr. Blowhard then catches notice of Naustia and begins to hit on her with the tenacity of a malnourished rust monster attacking a few copper coins. After flirting with her hardcore he gives her two tickets to the local opera house where he is one of the performers. We give Naustia credit for not vomiting after he rode off on a horse.

We go into the house to then acquaint ourselves with the person we saved. He thanks up profusely and lets us know he his a cleric and will be happy to lend any help to us if we need it. After a few days we meet back up and we have some new info about some other disruptions in town that could put the citizens in danger. Bandits on the main road, a minor shadow beast around town and some goblins taking up residence in the ruins as well under the banner of a 'goblin king'. We decided to stop the goblins as they tend to reproduce quickly and can be a menace. We are also informed that some of the townies are starting to buzz about the rescue of one of the local sons from the HellKnights and how it was done without any deaths. People are starting to notice there can be change. Cayden Cailean is pleased....well Arghen believes so anyways.

We strike out for the goblin lair the next day and come across a few of the nasties riding goblin dogs at the entance to the lair. Combat ensues, we take our lumps as they are yet again hard as hell to hit. Healing ensues and we continue in. Its a rather small area they are using so we come across the leader and his two goblin servants rather quickly. And their leader is no goblin....its a were-rat. We set up a plan and Morrey and Arghen will charge in quickly to attack fast while the Max follows for tactical support. The rest are going to keep the goblin helpers busy. But first a prayer to Cayden Cailean to smite this evil creature, then a power attack charge and 20 points of damage later its hurting. Now Morrey goes at the same time as Arghen due to preparing our tactics and he swings and *CRITICAL HIT*! Morrey takes a card from the critical hit deck and he decapitates the were-rat! The goblins freak out and start attacking wildly and the party puts them down quickly. We check out the area, find their loot stash, loot and go home. End of session.

I will say it was alot of fun for me and the wife playing this. Heck it was just fun being on the other side of the screen next to my friends rather than behind the wall of cardboard tracking lots of stats. That's this coming sunday when the Carrion Crown group meets up. But its still fun. So kudos to Jim for running a fun game and I'm looking forward to our next game in february.

*** In both The Runelords and Carrion Crown and now Council of Thieves I mention that we use the Critical Hit Deck, Plot Twist Card Deck, Critical Fumble Deck and Condition Cards. Instead of me describing them go to Paizo's website and read up on them yourself. They add an extra element of thrill to the game and give it some more flavor in my humble opinion.