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February 09, 2004

Balinor and Morty Summary #1: Vengeance!

Party Roster:

Balinor Buckhannah, 9th level Northerner fighter, 86 hp, played by Joel Green
Amortician (Morty), human bard (7th fighter/5th thief), 74 hp, played by Jay Bates
Rupert, 4th level ranger, 46 hp, played by David Bjorlin
Chelios, 4th level woodsman, 40 hp, played by Katherine Anderson
Randy, 6th level cleric of Nevron, 38 (32) hp, played by David
Elliot, 4th level thief/4th level fighter, 33 hp, played by Katherine
Tarplin, 8th level druid/5th level mage, 30 hp, played by Alan Jones
Bodkin Goldsummit, 3rd level dwarven fighter, 27 hp, played by Katherine
Morhion Gendahar, 2nd level Northerner cleric of Nevron, 18 hp, henchman of Balinor
Brenda Mor, 4th level thief/3rd level mage, 15 hp, played by Jay

The theme was vengeance. The various events recounted herein took place on Lendore Isle from May 2191-November 2191, and in the real world on January 31st and February 1st, 2004.

When we last left this particular section of Telvar, the Seapoint Lightning, the Killer Bees, Morty’s Party (the Band), and a trio of Korians had defeated a thousand-year-old vampiress and her lantern of shadows, clearing a small island a few days south of the western coastal town of Seapoint. Morty’s party had been missing for almost exactly 30 years in an insidious mirror trap, and Morty’s bardic thesis had gone well out of date, forcing him to resume research. His future book, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lendore, will now also contain large “Then and Now” sections so that Morty’s old research could still be put into print.

Morty needed to re-tour the Isle, and Balinor’s party was without a mission, and thus a merger seemed inevitable. After dispatching a small band of bugbears and a few fungus beetles, Albee and Anselm (a Nevronian monk and cleric in the Killer Bees) returned to the Church in Barnacus, leaving us low on healing magic. Thus the party sought out a cleric or druid to fill in the gap. What we got…

While hanging around in Barnacus waiting for some training to complete, we encountered Tarplin, a druid had decided to take up the life of a flutist, traveling from town to town and providing entertainment in taverns. Morty and Balinor spoke with him, and decided that he could fill the gap created by Anselm’s absence. Morty had heard things about him, but he resolved to look into the matter and determine the truth of the rumors.

Since a couple of our members were still training for long periods of time (in particular, Bodkin had gained 2 levels, a weapon proficiency, and a third healing proficiency, which took him 65 days), all but Elliot and Bodkin set out for Garroten, intending to complete Morty’s island tour by hitting Garroten, Restenford, Benct, and Key Ferry.

After some minor encounters, we stopped in and chatted with the “new” lord mayor of Garroten (installed in power in 2175 by Duke Haermond after the Defenders arrested his corrupt predecessor). Then the party set out for Restenford. Two days out, a gnoll stepped out into the road and demanded 9 gold pieces. Balinor was carrying 17000. Naturally we attacked.

Well, all the 20 gnolls up the two ridges in perfect ambush positions shot at Brenda, by far the least survivable member of the party. She died instantly.

With a howl of rage, the party split into two groups and charged up the ridge. Balinor, Morhion, and Rupert went up one side (Balinor in the lead), and Morty, Chelios, Randy, and Tarplin took the other.

Of course the gnolls were VERY spread out (10 feet apart) and so our area-of-effect spells couldn’t catch more than a few of them at a time. One of the weakest fireballs in Telvar history “roared” out of Tarplin and scratched several. Slightly embarrassed, Tarplin made up for it by Magic Missiling bows out of the gnolls’ hands, and Entangling them en masse. Morty’s side took relatively few hits before cresting the ridge and slamming into melee combat with three wolves that had leapt out at the last second. Chelios had to pause due to injuries from the bows, and Randy dropped healing spells on the woodsman, but Morty went into slice and dice mode, taking out two wolves before the last broke and ran with the gnolls. Morty and Chelios managed to bag the three trapped gnolls, but most of them got away.

Things went even worse on Balinor’s side, as he received seven volleys of ten arrows before reaching the gnolls, leaving him quite injured. As we reached point-blank range, Rupert took down a gnoll with his longbow. Balinor and Morhion crested the ridge, and battled several wolves. Balinor and Rupert made short work of them, but the gnolls took off and ran.

Morty saw what was happening and leapt off his hill and magically glided onto the other hill and charged up to help Balinor. Some of the other people decided they’d charged up down the bowl of the valley too many times, and huffed and wheezed.

Balinor noticed that all the gnolls had disappeared seconds before he arrived, so he continued charging, trying to swap to crossbow. Morhion moved to cover, and suddenly all ten gnolls rose up from behind the scrub and fired at Morhion, leaving him barely standing. Morhion hastily backed over the ridge and Balinor tried to chase down a gnoll, but they turned and ran again.

Declaring “victory”, the party camped a few hundred feet from the ridge and healed up. We decided to give chase to the gnolls in the morning and track them back to their lair.

As we were tracking with the stealthy people in the lead, Morty and the trackers surprised a band of humans. Though they looked like bandits and were ready for a fight, we actually talked to them. They claimed to be the Vengeance, a famous adventuring party. We hadn’t heard of them. We explained we were tracking gnolls, and weren’t going to attack them. Instead we offered them 50 gp (and Morty NOT “advertising” them in his bardic tales—they do have a mention in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lendore) to tell us all they could about the gnoll village. We discovered there were about 60 gnolls there, and they had a palisade surrounding the village, which was built against a small hill with some caves in it.

Apparently Garroten’s patrolling left something to be desired.

Swearing vengeance for Brenda… the party went back to Barnacus and paid 5000 gold to get her Raised. But whole incident stuck in our craws way too much to let the gnolls live. So after discussing several very strange plans, involving charming an army of giant poisonous spiders from the nearby Dead Wood and dragging them over to kill the gnolls, and poisoning the water supply, we eventually settled on slaughtering a group at the ridge, thinning out the numbers enough that we could take on the village in a frontal assault. Elliot had finished training, so we had another stealthy person available for fighting and scouting.

We went back to the ridge where we were ambushed, cautiously approaching it from the top side. There we discovered the gnolls and wolves waiting in ambush once again. We split the party up, putting Tarplin, Morty, and Morhion on one side, and Balinor, Chelios, Elliot, Randy, and Rupert on the other.

The signal came from Morty, who emerged from hiding with a grisly backstab that took out a single gnoll. The surprise was complete as the gnolls were all sitting and hadn’t even drawn weapons. Tarplin entangled several gnolls and used Magic Missile to eliminate more bows. Morhion covered Tarplin while he was casting to prevent disruption. Morty smashed through the wolves and gnolls, and a Stinking Cloud from Tarplin eliminated most of the effective opposition.

On the other side, Elliot took his cue and buried his short sword in a gnoll’s back, having crept up behind him successfully. Brenda dropped a Sleep that caught five gnolls, and Rupert shot down a gnoll. Chelios and Balinor circled, trying to make sure that no gnolls or wolves escaped. None did.

So now we were committed, and we advanced toward the village that night. We went to observe the village in the morning, and found that the description given to us by the Vengeance was essentially correct, in terms of layout. There was a major guardtower in the center of the village, rising high above the walls and the hill, containing four gnolls. The cave entrance was on the far side of the village from the gate through the palisade. Then six gnolls emerged, carrying large packs and heading for the ridge.

They needed to be eliminated before they got there and found the bodies, so we ambushed them. Brenda dropped a Sleep spell… and all but one fell down. He was quickly taken out by ranged attacks, and the others were dealt with without risk to the

We decided to wait till nightfall, when at least we could get within a hundred feet of the village without being observed by the watchtower. In addition, through two spellshifts, Tarplin and Brenda turned Morty, Elliot, Morhion, and Brenda herself both invisible and invisible to animals, so that they could sneak in and unbar the gate for the party.

Night fell, and Morty, Elliot, and Brenda crept toward the village, and climbed the wall without incident.

As Morty and Elliot lowered themselves to the base of the gate, they found four wolves there, obviously waiting to bark when the rest of the company trundled up to the gate. But there was nothing to be done for it. Morty lost track of Brenda as soon as she descended from the rope.

Presumably Brenda crept under the watchtower, and quickly cast a Sleep spell. Morty began unbarring the gate, which made a decent amount of noise and took almost a minute to do, despite his immense strength. The wolves immediately began barking.

Fires and lights flared, and Brenda vanished into the shadows, hopefully hiding somewhere in the village; Morty lost track of her almost immediately. He unbarred the gate just as Balinor, Chelios, Tarplin, Morhion, Rupert, and Randy trundled up under partial cover of a Silence spell from Chelios’ weapon. The wolves were upon them, but were dealt with rapidly, and the party advanced into the now awake village. There was no reaction from the watchtower, at least.

The party saw that the village essentially had two broad “alleys” by which it could reach the caves; we took the left one and advanced. We spotted a half-dozen gnolls opening a barred gate and ringing a nearby bell, which of course we couldn’t hear, and wolves were snapping hungrily inside the closed gate.

Balinor and Chelios charged the gnolls. Five of them moved to engage; the sixth continued to open the gate. There was also another ominous looking door on the other side that was still shut…

Rupert shot at the gnolls, but soon was distracted as large numbers of gnolls began pouring out of the huts we had passed. Randy froze the first several in the tracks with a Hold Person, forcing the ones behind them to push past. Rupert blew away one in point-blank range.

But it seemed the twenty wolves would escape the cage and attack. Thinking quickly, Tarplin completely blocked the entrance (and took out two wolves and the gate opener gnoll) with a Stinking Cloud, completely stopping all the animals from joining in the fight. Unfortunately, he also caught the invisible Morty, who spent the next minute vomiting invisibly on the ground. It was quite a sight, and one that even Balinor would rather not see again.

The melee fighters made quick work of the other five gnolls, and ignoring the closed door, turned to face the mob of gnolls coming down the right alley. They charged and fought side-by-side, Morhion tagging along invisibly in case trouble arose.

Rupert and Randy did their best to stem the tide of gnolls coming at them from the left alley, and only a pair made it to start beating on Rupert.

There was chanting from a gnoll at the back of the right alley, and suddenly a Hold Person hit Balinor and Chelios. Balinor was immune due to “having no mind”, but Chelios was frozen in his tracks. Balinor raged and then accidentally flung Wrath (his +2 hammer) onto the far side of Chelios. Oops.

Randy homed in on the spellcaster and tried a spell, but it had no effect. The caster threw a Command at Balinor, which also had no effect. Tarplin dropped a massive Fireball which ripped into the gnolls on the right side (thankfully not hitting Brenda or the sleepers in the watchtower), and obliterated much of the right side. Balinor went into buzzsaw mode, toppling a half-dozen gnolls and generally discouraging them from trying to kill Chelios. The spellcaster tossed a Light spell at Balinor, which he resisted, but the second Light spell finally caught him, blinding the fighter.

Meanwhile, at the door, Morty had recovered his composure, and was joined by Morhion and Elliot, when the door suddenly burst open, revealing a hill giant! Instantly Morty and Elliot sunk their weapons into its back, causing staggering damage but not dropping the creature. It roared and bounced its weapon off Morty’s head, injuring him substantially. Morhion dropped a Cure, and Tarplin moved over to help, but Morty got hit again. Elliot was stabbing madly at its back, and after Morty was hit a third time, the giant finally went down in a spray of blood.

Morty turned and moved to help the now blind Balinor and frozen Chelios, directing the fighter as to where to go to destroy gnolls. Morty was dropping them quickly, and Randy moved up and dispelled Chelios’ paralysis. Morty moved up to engage the spellcaster, and stabbed him right as he was drinking a potion….

The gnoll’s head exploded in a ball of fire, inflicting massive burns to Morty, who barely avoided the worst of it. Sadly the potion and a scroll were destroyed. Grrrr.

After that, the party was rapidly victorious, having only to clean up after the gnoll and two wolves in the stinking cloud. The gnoll nearly got away by climbing the cliff, but fortunately was taken down before he escaped. There was also an unexplained death of a gnoll by the gate who had his arm ripped off. Additionally some small number of the gnolls escaped during the fight by the bell/door.

Still, it was a strong success. We did recover a small amount of treasure: 1500 gp, a Potion of Fish Control, 4 ff +2 arrows, and Horseshoes of Hold Immunity for horse and rider. We paid salvage tax using the Horseshoes, which gave us additional funds, so Balinor put 5000 gp as a deposit on a suit of platemail+1 for Bodkin from Relkin in Restenford; it requires us to give them some kind of +1 weapon type thing later in order to retrieve the 5000 gp.

Yes, Bodkin had at last finished training, and so we continued our interrupted tour of Lendore Isle. We hit Restenford next. Before we arrived we stopped to deliver the +3 druid scimitar to Quentin, druid of Lendore Isle and former member of the Defenders. Quentin said, “Finally, something useful!” After some complaining, he eventually chatted with Tarplin, Morty, and Balinor about different subjects. Finally it was time to leave, and head on to the home of the Restenford Defenders.

Balinor offered the Defenders’ house as available lodging for the party, but was fairly surprised to find it in a state. Morgan was asleep in the comfy chair, and Alduin and Kain were lounging about, talking of how they’d really be doing that great adventure soon, and how they were going to be rich in 30 years when the roof fell on Chossos. Cocking an eyebrow, Balinor moved to his bed… and found it covered in bottlecaps. Balinor cleared it off to protests from the elves, claiming that he was messing up all their neat stuff.

Cassian’s and Donald’s and Felix’s and Nakumanu’s and Quentin’s beds were similar shape. Morty and company opted to stay at the Inn of the Dying Minotaur instead.

After talking to the Baron, we traveled to Benct. Doing some shopping and surveying, we finally hit on some major adventuring possibilities:

1) Clear out a wizard-led bandit group. Known to use Slow to discourage pursuit and only demand money from the caravans they attack. About a dozen men, highly mobile. Thoughts were that we could ride up and down the road till they assaulted us, give them money, and then follow them afterward via Tarplin in some flying form, track them to the lair and destroy them.

2) Clear out a large pirate group. The additional perk is that the pirates have hired “guards” in the form of the bugbear tribe that nearly killed Alduin and stole our bracer. Never discount personal revenge as a motive during THIS game at least.

3) A man claiming to be Ruler of the World was executed last year for a series of killings that he committed in Rog. For at least the last 20 years, people and creatures have periodically suddenly become convinced of this and led foolhardy attacks on towns, plotted peoples’ destruction and the like. For example, this is sort of what happened to Qualton, former Abbot of the Phaulkonian Church in Restenford. In 2181 (?) three or four separate incidents were reported (including a dozen ogres attacking Restenford and being slain by the then 75 year-old Baron and the Defenders),.

What is particularly interesting about this incident is that the man was seen frequently before and after this happened. He could not have gotten far from Rog, which seems to indicate that whatever is causing these delusions of grandeur is or was near Rog, less than a year ago.

Complicating this is the fact that Rog lies precariously between the power of the legitimate mayor of the mining town, and the influence of the Blue and the Gray, and the nearby pirates. The mayor, who is believed to be a genuinely good man, plays a balancing act and allows illegal trade to run rampant. Our party would have to avoid adding fuel to the fire while doing the investigation. But it certainly is an enticing mystery.

We decided to tackle this last option. There was also talk of a haunted town between Benct and Key Ferry which Morty had abortively attempted long long ago, but for now that is on the back burner.

It was decided that we would do research into these criminal activities in all the major cities and try to figure out if there is a pattern or concentration of the delusions in any place or year. This research would take months, so it was decided to see if we could push about 4 party members over the hump to the next level in time for the rainy season, allowing them to train while others did research. Morty in particular needs to travel all the way to Dunador to the Bardic College to gain 6th level thief.

So we went back to the Baron of Restenford, and found a few possible tasks. To make it riskier, we took only Balinor, Morty, Morhion, and Bodkin, although we dropped everyone off at Garroten and had to occasionally take another member along for specific things.

Morgan, Alduin, and Kain had eliminated a lair of grotto beasts (nasty hyena/horse combination capable of mimicking sounds startlingly well), but three had escaped and were preying on travelers. A pair of poisonous spiders that had strayed out of the Dead Wood and were causing problems. A giant octopus was endangering fishermen on Lake Farmin.

It turned out that the reason these tasks were available was that they provided no monetary benefit. The local adventuring party of Garroten, which turned out to be the Vengeance, only does things if you pay them well. These tasks needed to be completed, so we set out to do them. The octopus was rejected because it really didn’t seem a good thing for a druid to do, and it would have required Water Breathing spells from Tarplin to kill the beast.

Balinor, Morhion, Bodkin, Morty, and Randy went out to kill the spiders (Randy was essential because of the deadly poison the spiders used). We hunted around for a few days, when suddenly a web fell on the party. The other spider slid down the web and attacked Bodkin! Bodkin stabbed at the creature with his spear, while Morty lit the web.

However, the web apparently was made of pure gasoline, and it went up instantly, burning the whole party. The spider skittered back up, and Morty waved the torch threateningly.

The spider dropped another web, and it went up instantly as it touched Morty’s torch, lighting Balinor and Randy (?) on fire! Embarrassed, the party backed up. Bodkin shirked off the spider’s poison.

After healing a bit, we approached again… and again Balinor and Morty were the only ones free. Morhion torched the web as the spider attacked Balinor, who struck back powerfully, fumbling miserably but slightly knicking the creature. Bodkin struck powerfully again and nearly slew his. As the spiders retreated, Balinor fired his crossbow… and it died, hanging in midair. The other spider was made short work of, and the webs were torched, dropping the smoldering corpses on the ground, as well as a burned gnoll corpse and a rusty halberd.

What loot.

The party went back to town and dropped off Randy. We needed a way to prevent the fast moving grotto beasts from fleeing, so we brought Elliot, Master of the Lasso, and went off in search of the grotto beasts. During the hunt we had a few encounters, including a potentially dicey encounter with a giant rattlesnake that the party managed to eliminate before it could react. Morty’s sword Grater, that mangles scaled creatures, was particularly effective. After several days, we found a small waterfall and pond. As we were looking in, the grotto beasts emerged from rocks behind us and charged!

Balinor, Morty, and Bodkin each faced one, with Morhion hanging behind Balinor. Elliot had prepared three lassos, and used his Immovable Rod to lock them to the air. Then he dropped a loop on Bodkin’s and Morty’s beast. Balinor and Morty dealt tremendous punishment, but the unlucky Bodkin fumbled his charge-ready spear, and was hit. The creatures plowed into the three of us, but only Balinor lost his footing, smashing into Morhion, who fell down the hill into the pond, badly injured but not out. He pulled himself out of the muck and began trudging back up the hill.

Unfortunately, the grotto beasts had some sort of continuous blade-looking thing instead of teeth, and they were able to gnash through the lassos in a single chomp.

Balinor began to demolish his, but almost immediately he broke Wrath’s handle, forcing him to switch to his silver weapon. Still he brought his down fairly quickly, and it tried to run. When he struck at its hind legs, it kicked out and hurt him, but collapsed.

Bodkin and Morty were faring less well, but Morty did defeat his. Poor Bodkin had taken a series of injuries and looked to be in some trouble, but his and Morty’s both tried to run. Morty’s collapsed because Elliot was able to relasso it, halting it just long enough for a final strike, after the same rear kick. But Bodkin’s got away before we could surround it, unfortunately.

We healed up some, but having no trackers, we immediately lost the last grotto beast.

So we trekked back to Garroten, and healed up. Then we set out with Morty diving off the hilltops and gliding around. After a week or so, we finally spotted the beast by the road. We went in Silenced by Elliot’s (?) sword, snuck up, and dropped a lasso on it.

Ride ‘em cowboy!



Although Balinor and Morty and Bodkin surrounded it and battered it, it got away from us, running over Balinor in the process.

This was frustrating. So we borrowed some horse caltrops from the Lord Mayor of Garroten (since they weren’t for sale there), and got lucky and found the grotto beast in a single afternoon.

Again we snuck up, dropped the caltrops, then circled around to the opposite side and attacked. The lasso snarled the creature, and it bit it and turned to run… and stomped all over the caltrops. The result was grisly, and the fight became a forgone conclusion. However, Morhion was dropped to stable consciousness but was unfortunately incapacitated by the healing check that followed.

At last we settled to do research and training. Unfortunately we still weren’t quite to our goal, so we started dropping people off and traveled back to Seapoint, where we eliminated a few giant lizards that the Lightning were being told to deal with. Morhion was carried in a cart but managed to heal up without any permanent effects, and Randy covered for him.

Events of the rainy season will include:

Training. Morty gained 6th level thief and goes to Dunador. Bodkin gained 4th level fighter, gaining 7 hp to rise to 34. Chelios trains to 5th level woodsman. Rupert gained 5th level ranger. Brenda just missed, Morhion is a henchman and isn’t seeing level 3 this century, and Balinor and Tarplin are… far (55000 and 100000 respectively). XP ranged from 1000 to 3000 (330 for Morhion).

Research. Brenda, Balinor, Randy, and Rupert are going to be checking out reports on the Isle and in the Koralgesh Log Library (I forget who went where, exactly). I have to look into a proficiency for Balinor as well.

And, of course, vengeance.