|Highball and Dragons #2|
Highball and Dragons #2
This is the second session of our "Highball and Dragons" campaign. Session 1 saw us fleeing our adoptive village being ravaged by orks.
I use "we" since I am a player and my character is Abd-al-Wahab, quickly nicknamed "Aby", an Arab lost in the Danelaw during the Viking age. I fled the village with Tertius, a solid warrior of Roman origin, and Bernhard, a Lombard who seems able to weave magical darkness threads. With us were Yvor, one of the elders of the village, and his friend Erik from a village inland.
We rowed and put some distance between us and the coast and then assessed our situation. There wasn't much in the fishing boat we took, a fat rope and a sturdy 5 by 5m net, but nothing more. We all left our food rations in the village and Tertius, feeling hungry, was regretting having forgotten his fishing gear as well.
Erik explained to us that this horde of orcs was coming from a realm further north and that he had been a prisoner there, had escaped and had them on his trail. Yvor and Erik proposed us to row up to the village of Swinton up north of the wide bay we were in. We decided to take turn rowing and to proceed carefully.
Erik and Yvor wanted to reach their friend Rurik in Swinton and take advice with him. They told us that the orcish realm was a harsh place but was full of precious loot. Tertius was looking for a way to recover his wife, acquiring gold and jewels on top of that was enticing.
Early morning the next day, we saw a column of smoke where Swinton must be. We reached the beach down the cliff on top of which Swinton was located. Yvor explained to us that there was a sort of ramp or ladder between the village and the cliff, but we could only see burnt remnants of it. A piece of rope was dangling at half the cliff.
Since the beach was clear and we couldn't see any movement on top of the cliff, we landed and considered how to reach the village. Tertius, being the strongest, climbed a bit, reached the rope and climbed with some effort to reach the top of the cliff. It was faceplam time for us, because we forgot to give the roman the rope from the boat.
He came back down and we gave him the rope — second facepalm, we could have asked him to check what was on top of the cliff and then climb with info about was was awaiting — he climbed back again and then tied the rope and let it unroll for us down on the beach. We climbed with effort, while Erik and Yvor, though old, climbed easily.
We were greated by scarecrow posts. Having had to deal with animated scarecrows back on the eve of the assault on our village, we were very careful with those pieces of wood. They did not move an inch, and soon we noticed that orc foot soldiers were keeping a very loose guard on and in Swinton.
We quickly had to position ourselves to fight the two orcs we had spotted. Where there more of them? We did not know. We were noisily playing with the idea of throwing the scarecrow posts down the cliff when we spotted the enemy. Had they seen us? They looked big and threatening, quite a challenge for our group.
Tertius positioned himself at the corner of the village fence while I, readying my sling, took position at the demolished entrance. Yvor and Erick prepared their bows while Bernhard, our lombard caster, prepared to weave a darkness spell.
(Meanwhile, in the village, in the cellar of a burnt house, Rurik and Torleif were having yet another dry fish and beer breakfast. They heard the noise of orcs shouting on the surface and decided to risk a look at the situation above, hence our two new players entered the game).
The orcs came at us. Tertius got a clean hit at the one running along the fence and that knocked it down and out. I fired my sling at the one coming from inside the village and missed. It reached me and hit me hard. Bernhard fired his spell but our referee Gary ruled that it didn't do much.
Tertius wanted to make sure his orc was really down, but he noticed that I was almost out and he came in and placed himself between me and the ork. He hit the beast, but that didn't kill it. At that moment, Rurik had left his hiding place and had come at the orc from behind. He administered the killing hit at the monster.
I had moved to watch the first orc downed by Tertius, and suddenly it leaped back on its feet, running, I tried to hit it with my quarterstaff and missed. Everybody in the team kicked into action and intercepted the fleeing orc at the opposite gate. Torleif cast a golden spell at the monster, blinding it and making it easier for Tertius and Rurik to stop. We thus learnt that Torleif was a caster. The second thing we learnt about our new friend was that he spoke some orcish.
The captive orc was duly interrogated. Erik and Torleif learnt from it that the orcish tribe was building a gate to let in more of their ilk. The gate had to be powered with human souls.
At that point, some ork in the woods near the village shouted something. and suddenly, the half-charred pigs lying around animated and moved towards us. We started to realize that we were facing an extremely mobile orc puppetmaster.
The pigs didn't looked very combat effective so I went and tried to strike the one facing me with my quarterstaff, I missed and he knocked me unconscious. Argh.
Fortunately, my friends despatched their pigs easily and came to my help. I was put back on my feet, wounded (exhaustion level at 5), but not dead.
There were no more bad surprises. We gathered the supplies we could find in the village, found some pack horses that had fled, and took four days off, barricading ourselves in the village. We decided to travel north and try to rescue Tertius' wife and any prisoner take there. Maybe we could be lucky enough to take some loot from this orc tribe, maybe.
The travel to the north was uneventful. Combined with the stay at the village that allowed me to get back at somehow full strength. At some point we went on a road through thick woods. The change in light advertised a huge clearing in front of us. We heard the sound of a tree falling and felt the tremor of its impact. What was ahead of us?
(At that point, having five players, Gary had to put pressure on us to have timely decisions and avoid long debates.)
We peeked from the edge of the clearing at what was going in there. A giant made of rock was fighting two boar riding orcs. We looked questioningly at Erik and he said "it's out of control". We had to avoid a rock as big as a fat bull thrown in our general direction.
Clearly this thing was fighting orcs but it was covered in orc markings. As we debated what to do, the giant squashed the two orcs and their mounts. That solved the issue on what side to intervene. But now the question was, how to cross the clearing without getting reduced to pulp?
The giant seemed to have turned back to a stack of rock as it sat quietly on its ass, contemplating what was left of the orcs and their boars. We emerged from the woods, the giant stood up and gazed hard at us. We moved carefully and non-threateningly (at least it could thus be interpreted by fellow humans).
The thing had a voice and it asked "you orcs?". We answered by the negative. It said "I hate orcs!". Tertius back at the village had kept as a trophy the head of an orc, he drew it from his bag and showed it at the giant, saying "We too hate orcs!".
We thus were on friendly terms with the rocky thing. We asked it for help for the next step in our travel north. It seemed to reflect and then said "Challenge!". We went through three tests againt it.
The first test was a throwing rocks. We made three attempts. I first fired one of my sling lead bullet as far as I could and was not very successful. Then our casters combined their efforts, Bernhard used his quarterstaff and a flail spell to project a stone, while Torleif amplified the push with his own spell. The rock went further than my attempt. Then, our strong man, Tertius went at hit, he picked a rock and threw it farther than ours. We were anxious, surely the giant could defeat us all. He picked a rock and threw it nonchalantly, it was short, was it kind to us?
The giant happily granted us victory on this first test. Suddenly he asked "a room without a door and without a window". We were puzzled and chatted for while, the rock thing became a bit impatient, we asked for a hint, he said "round top", we asked for another, he said "round and red top"... Rurik said "mushroom" and a rocky smile was granted to us. The giant clapped joyously and then shouted "tug of war!"
What could we do? The thing could take down a tree easily. We were no match for it. We somehow devised a trick, using a sturdy tree, we looped the rope around it and went between the legs of the giant without its noticing and tied the rope around one of its ankle.
It took three attempts, on the last one, the rock thing drew so hard that it made it fall on its ass, triggering a tiny earthquake. It merrily accepted its defeat. We repeated our plea for help. The thing picked a rock from the ground and another from its own arm, it gave them to Rurik. "When you need my help, slash the two rocks together!". "Try try!".
Rurik did as requested and slashed the two rocks together and they exploded splashing shit around. The giant was laughing. "Sorry, sorry, joke! Take real rock". and he gave Rurik a new pair of rocks. "When you need me, strike the rocks together!"
The session ended at that point. We had found a powerful ally, but the clash of the fight had dispersed our horses...