Orgoyle- Female Orc Fighter
Solemante- Male Havling Cleric, party caller
Aagness- Female Havling Druid
Fondue- Female Havling Magic User
Ummmm- Female Elf Fighter
Nyma- Female Human Fighter
Gwyneth- Female Elf Rogue
Cecelia- Female Human Rogue
Willie - Man-at-arms with mail, helmet, and sword
Bantha - Man-at-arms with tunic and sling
Sssst the dog
Shhh the dog
Two pack goats, and a donkey
I asked the players to decide on a party caller, and further, one who was not as experienced with RPGs. With a bunch of new players, I wanted to avoid having the three guys most experienced drive the bus so to speak. After some fiddling around with equipment and retainers, the players started the game already in action having drunkenly agreed to find out what is attacking a local village. While they were enjoying the local Baron's hospitality on the feast of St. Steve, a peasant rudely burst into the great hall of the castle, and said that "thin men" had attacked the village, and killed or driven off the inhabitants. Being drunk, the players' characters stood up and said that they would right this wrong. In the cool light of morning, it seemed a bit risky and foolhardy.
I then asked them to decide on getting to the village in a hurry, meaning arriving at nightfall, or going more leisurely, so as to arrive the next morning. The players decided to go slowly, and camped over night after traveling for around 8 hours. [this also changed what the village looked like when they got there] They did set a watch, and talked a bit in character about what "thin men" could possibly be.
The next morning, the party crested a hill, and saw across a stream, the village, mostly burnt to the ground, with a smokey haze hanging over it. To the west there was a swamp, north was the village itself, and it was between two bits of wood. They could also see a hill beyond the village with a palisade at the top. They elected to look at the three unburnt houses in the village, all of which had doors locked and barricaded from the inside, and one open window. The first building was essentially empty.
Second building examined was larger, and inspection of the main room showed that it had a trapdoor in the floor which looked as if it had been burst open from below. Checking upstairs, they found a few bodies, torn apart, and some silver working tools, raw silver, and some coins. Searching the basement, they found a low hole in the dirt wall which looked as if it had been dug out by animals. While the druid was willing to go down and check it out, the other players decided that the party should go to the third building and check it out. It was similar to the others, although it had a ton of flour in one room, and the other room had a secret hiding place under the rushes. Inside the hidden hole was a bag with a gem and some silver.
The players then moved on to examine the palisade, and as they got closer, they could see that it had a ditch running around it, that it looked like the wood wall was being replaced with stone, and that the gate was closed. The players debated for a while about calling out, and after a while decided that they should. There was no answer, just eerie silence. Walking around the palisade, they went up the hill a bit, and then could see into the bailey.
They see a well with a large mound of dirt next to it, a tower, stables, chapel, a huge pile of wood, and some huts. They decided to climb the wall, and go explore. Sending the rogues over, they opened the gate, and looked around a bit. Looking down the well, they saw that there was a rope ladder, which was twitching slightly. Rashly, they call down the well, and hear some shuffling sounds at the bottom.
The Druid decides to descend into the well with a lantern, and once he gets low enough, he can see that there is a corpse at the bottom of the dry well, and something which keeps moving out of the light. I told him it seemed thin and white. Surmising that these were not villagers, he switches places with the Orc fighter, who then descends all the way to the bottom of the well, initiating combat with three skeletons dressed in archaic armor and wielding bronze swords and Shields. She misses her attack, and in a flurry of blades, goes down to the soundless killers. [they caused 9 damage, and I did remind the player about "Shields shall be splintered" before hand] The Druid descends further on the rope and casts entangle on the skeletons, trapping them in place. She then climbs down to the bottom away from the skeletons, bandages the wounds of the orc [I ruled she will die overnight unless tended to], and ropes her up to the top.
The players then badger one of the henchmen into opening the door to the chapel, root around in the chapel looking for healing items, page through the illuminated prayer book, see the altar items, and then move on to the tower. The yett is closed, but not locked, and the party opens it and goes into the first room. They see that it is a kitchen/dining room, and that 1/2 of the room is covered in thick web. After some debate, they shoot a sling bullet into the web, and it summons out a monstrous black widow. In a flurry of attacks they put it down before it can even strike, although the elf fighter intended to throw a lit torch into the web and instead dropped it onto the rushes on the floor.
After extinguishing the fire that the fumbled torch started, the party searches around, and finds a drained and desiccated older woman hung in the web, with a key in her pocket. Moving up to the next floor, they find that it has an office and a maids' quarters. The office has a sealed letter from the steward to the Baron, and some gold, which the players pocket. They discuss the letter, and decide that they will tell the Baron that they found it open, if anyone asks. They open the letter, and read "My Lord Baron Brose, that woman has gone quite insane following the death of her husband, and now her moods threaten all of us". In the back of the office is a little room, where they find the body of the steward, his throat cut. A search of the maids' quarters turns up the same thing, and they surmise that the woman has killed them before the rest of the village was destroyed.
Climbing to the next floor, they find the bed chamber of the lord and lady, and an office. Examining the bedroom first, they find that the male clothes there have been shredded, and that the woman's clothes are there. Opening the office, the rogues and cleric are attacked by a ghoul who slams the door behind them. He attacks the human, and manages to strike her with a claw, causing the loss of 1 hp. The cleric casts protection from evil on herself. The next round they manage to slay the ghoul, and find a cheap spellbook, and a map of neighboring Brémdy with "Daro" written above a circled mountain in the Rim. Climbing up to the roof, the party looks around, and sees the quarry in the distance, as well as an overview of the town ruins. They decide to check out the basement, and find a ton of food stuffs, and notice that the foundation has subsided some.
They then decide to go check out the quarry. Leaving behind the pack animals and the dying orc, they go to the quarry, and see that there is a large pile of bodies there, as well as a slime trail leading into a cave at the foot of the rock wall. The party then decides to rest overnight so as to be able to heal the orc, and moves across the stream to a nearby hillside to do so. They watch the town during the night, but no action is seen.
The next day, after magically healing the Orc character, the party decides to explore the cave [!], leaving Nyma the fighter with the animals [the player was not able to make this second part of the session]. Entering the cave, the party saw that it was created by erosion... and that a cavern crawler was the thing making the slime trail. Acting quickly, the party unloaded ranged weapons, causing it to flee. The orc fighter kills it with a mighty axe blow as it tries to slip out of the entrance. The druid explored the tiny tight tunnel at the end of the cave that goes up to a small stone room... it turns out to be an open tomb, which is in an excavated area underground. Moving along, the party saw a few other tombs, and a tunnel leading off in one direction. While everyone else leaves the area, the orc and her [currently] loyal henchman pry open one of the other tombs, and when they are greeted by a skull with glowing eyes, and hands reaching out of the coffin, they quickly slide the tomb lid closed again.
Coming around a bend, the group finds an excavated area around a temple door, and another tunnel leading north. The group decides to look into the open door of the temple, where they see, and are seen by six skeletons. The party pulled back, and dealt with the skeletons in two groups, killing them all. [worst player joke of the day "do dogs get a bone-us against skeletons?"] Exploring further in the temple, the party discovered that it is quite old, and elvish. Noticing a light down the temple, they decide to send the rogues to check it out. Unfortunately, they fail their move silently, and a hand is seen covering up the light. The elvish fighter sends a flaming arrow down to the altar, and manages to hit it perfectly to illuminate the area, and they see a female human with some zombies at an altar.
Acting quickly, the druid casts entangle, and the whole group is caught. Combat starts with the woman waving her hands and speaking some mumbo jumbo, and suddenly Willie the henchman is attacking the Orc! Fortunately the shield that she had strapped to her back took the mighty blow that Willie dealt, because otherwise she would have died [The player DID use the Shields must be splintered rule this time around!]. The dogs and part of the party attack the woman, and the rest of dealt with Willie. Despite casting shield, the woman is eventually torn down by the dogs, and then the party spent some time picking off the zombies who were still entangled. The party finds that the woman had a marked out mystic circle with herbs and a couple of unconscious young girls, along side a book which seems to be open to an evil spell. The havling cleric interrogates the dying woman, and when she says "my followers are on their way", dashes her head in. The magic user takes the book and the ornate knife she was using.
Willie is revived with a cure light wounds spell (after being stripped of his gear) [the players were properly eager for the mail], and after some negotiation is released to follow the party with his hands tied. A few of the chapels branching off from the temple proper are examined quickly, and the party sets off into the tunnels again. The party finds what appears to be a buried house, and the elvish rogue manages to sneak up on a ghoul and stab him to death with one blow [natural 20 for backstab with a longsword]. The orc takes the lead next, and manages to avoid a collapsing basement, which would probably have killed her. [pit trap]
The three skeletons that nearly killed the orc the first time are encountered again, and this time they are quickly dispatched by the whole party, although they kill Bantha, the orc's henchman as they die. The party then sends the rogues up the well shaft to lower down the rope ladder, and the party all climb out into the mid morning sun. They were only underground for a few hours, although it felt like days.
When they climb out of the well shaft, one of the girls being carried wakes up, and after she is calmed down after seeing the sea of non-human faces, manages to tell them the following story:
The lady, sh's the furign wife of Sir Allard, she wasn't right after he died sudden like. She spent a week locked in her chambers I heard tell from, Ella, sh's the lady's chamber maid, and she didn't weep or nothing, but just read books. Then at his funeral, th'lady was laughing and looked crazy. That night the thin men came, and killed the Aldric family and the smith. Some ran to the tower, but the gate was locked, and no one answered. The next day was scary, and some said we should leave the town and get help. Maybe someone did, 'cause you are here... but the next night more thin men came, and this time they burned houses, and drove everyone into the forest. Something... wrong was there, and everyone died. Me and Macy ran to the hills, and we saw the lady there, and that's all I remember really. Oh, it is terrible really (here she weeps uncontrollably)
And that is where things ended, with the party knowing essentially the complete story of what happened in the village, and needing to decide what to do next.
Also, welcome to new followers Brendan and William Dowie, both of whom I have seen out and about in the blogosphere, and appreciate having them look into my little corner of it.