Week 11 began with a simple question that blew everyones mind. No, I did not mention it last week. In fact the session ended with the mysterious granting of a boon by who knows who. Turns out there is a page 8 to the adventure that I had never seen before. This mystery page explains all about boons and Halflings. Ah well, we usually run late by a few minutes, so my wrap ups end up next weeks warm ups. It works out.
This week however, having finally discovered page 8 (I swear it wasn’t there before) I found out exactly how the capture by Halflings happened. On the other hand, for the boon I decided to go with something with a little more Dark Sun flair than the adventure calls for. The spirits who came down to congratulate the party on defeating last weeks undead bunny herder were suitably impressed with the characters, that they proceeded to go into a great babbling speech about arcane magic, defiling, and preserving. None of it made much sense to a group of hardened desert marauders who want nothing more than to kill things and take their stuff, but hey, no one turns down praise, even if it is ill conceived and non-sequitur. Let the facts speak for themselves: the room was littered with the corpses of hejkins, dust bunnies, wraiths (do they leave a corpse?) and the spirit of the air, or whoever that guy was. These spirits were shrewd to look around and go with the groveling boon-granting tactic.
And so each character was tasked with looking into their minds eye, and with the spirits aid, they were able to open their mind to the wild talents that lie dormant in each one of them. So doing, they each got to pick a wild talent (from p. 81 of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide.) These talents are excellent little at-will powers with various affects from sparking a small fire, telepathy, telekinesis of small objects and so on. They are pretty fun, and as we will discover, a few of the powers were used during this encounter, so I am happy with the choice of giving out these psionic talents as boons instead of the pathetic belt of electric boogy dancing or whatever was the item described on fabled page 8.
The party was made up of 7 adventurers. Unchanged from chapter 2, we have Phye Dos, or Fido for short, and the 2 fighters, Yuka and Kindrock. Jarvix, Barcan and Barcans Twin, and pakCha were each described as falling into a bottomless pit right before rounding a corner and coming upon a group of 2 wizards, and the triumphal return of Midget the sorceress from season 1. Each of the 3 pre-gens were actually re-created with different power choices and other changes. It seemed to make a big difference.
So, after the boons were handed out and the party rested, they knew they would have to go through the hejkin tunnels to escape. They could feel the fresh breeze. It was in these tunnels that we lost a few members and gained new ones, for those who look for story continuity. After that fell pit of character recycling, they came to the treasure trove that gave each of them their magic items. These hejkin left quite a stash behind! And finally they saw a sliver of light ahead ,and crawling through the muck, they pulled themselves out of the earth and into a muddy clearing. The air was moist, and they saw no sand, but verdant foliage covered the land and sky. It was amazing to them, and it was difficult to breathe, since their bodies were unused to such humidity.
They were also unused to the net of rope vines that dropped over them, or of the tribe of cute and cuddly savages that poked at them with spears while shouting Chibi chibi chibi! Captured by Halflings! And so the prophecy came to pass…
The Halflings wore crude leather armor and wielded wooden spear and clubs. They had sharpened bones through their noses, body piercings, tattoos, and were savages. They also spoke only their own dialect although the pointing and rubbing of bellies gave the characters some idea of what lay in store for them. The party was blindfolded and marched for many hours along a jungle path winding through the mountains. Eventually they arrived at the Halfling village and after being shoved into a wooden cage, they had a chance to remove the blindfolds and look around. The cage was littered with bones, some of which looked gnawed upon. The cage was in the center of the village, near a large cooking pot. There was a bonfire with spits large enough for even Kindrock to be toasted head to foot. They saw the Halfling who captured them carrying the combined wealth and equipment of the party into the ruins of an ancient building on the edge of the village. Most of the village was composed of thatch huts, and curious Halflings wandered round, one of whom wore a feathered head dress and looked like the chief.
It was at this point that the player of Midget the sorceress was kind enough to remind me that Midget was a Halfling, and with a name like Midget, I don’t know how I forgot she was a Halfling, but it did raise a few questions. Would they actually eat her too? She tried to grab the chiefs attention, who ended up knowing the common tongue. She pulled out all the guns, bluffing, being diplomatic, I expected her to intimidate, but she held it in, instead choosing to use her new psionic wild talent to create a diversion! She had the spark power, and tried to light a hut on fire. However, she chose a gutter filled with wet leaves for her spark, so it had limited affect, though it did make for some smoke. (really bad dice roll boo)
One of the wizards took over the diversion, and he used his ghost sound and mage hand to create the illusion of a wild beast in the nearby jungle. This caused an uproar and the chief shouted the panther returns! then ran off to organize a defense. The party had their opening, and while the wizards tried to conceal their acts, Kindrock and Moostone the minotaur broke out a section of cage. Now the wizards used their combined talents of ghost sound and light to make it look like they were running off into the jungle, while the character secretly tore straight across the village towards that ruined building on the far side of the village. They made to the back wall of the building, but were unsure whether or not they were spotted. Dont worry, they were.
The ruins were described as a series of ten foot high walls, with one section covered by a roof. The cobbles were loose and the walls could be climbed with a fairly easy DC 10 athletics check. Yuka the athlete was first to the top, and he saw that their weapons and equipment must be in the room with the roof, so he dropped down and went in. The doorway was covered by rawhide flaps, and he stepped next to a sleeping Halfling just inside the opening. After hurling the non cannibal good Halfling to the top of the wall, the minotaur went over next, and he was able to make it over the wall and even gore the sleeping Halfling who was helplessly asleep. Blood was drawn.
The wizard formerly known as Jarvix, whose name is too ridiculous to even set down in type, we will call him Dr Flamulus. Whether he be wizard, swordmage, swordlock, warlock, or psion, he is always Dr Flamulus. He had trouble getting over the wall. Two failed athletic attempts for the inflamed wizard later it was decreed he made it to the top as a full turn action. No matter, Dr Flamulus had all the time in the world before laying waste to all about him. Later when the second wave of halfling head hunters hit the hut, it was Dr Flamulus who bore the brunt of their mind hunting attacks. Inflamed, Dr Flamulus retaliated with a heated exchange.
The new wizard who isnt named nirvana, but Navarra (I hope) took one look at the laughing bumbling fools before her as they attempted to navigate this simple barrier, and with a snap of her fingers, she teleported into place directly two squares behind the nearest fighter, and with a perfect shot of New and Improved Magic Missile – now with more magic! she struck a halfling through its puny heart. She was followed by Kindrock, half gaint, half we dont know what, and probably best not to ask. He vaulted the wall like a olympic hurdler as part of his ripping charge wielding his huge new axe, the mighty greataxe, the one the original D12, ready to roll but alas, he missed. Then he missed! Oh my, was that just another miss? Fate was not on Kindrocks side that night but take heart, dear lad, for now it means the laws of random chance Owe You One. Like karma, fate works in mysterious ways, but in the end the all things are balanced, so those 2s, those horrible 2s (In the world of Dark sun, they have found a way to make a roll worse than a natural 1 – a natural 2) should be followed by a string of 19s any time now, or over the next twenty years at most.I believe it was Phye (do) who decided the best course of action was to go AROUND the wall, rather than over, but I might be mistaken. Phye was soon into the thick of action. Then began Yukas climb to glory as he attacked the halflings unarmed, punch pow! Then the incredible happend, with a mighty punch he struck out, and rolled a natural 1. It was a desperate time, and so he pressed on, and the composite fracture bone shard piercing his wrist like a jagged bloody spike was nothing more than an added weapon to slash his captors with. He would be a slave to no one. He drove his enemy before him until his was close enough to reach out and, using his new psionic boon, Telekinetically grasp his weapon that shiny new obsidian sword, freshly chipped to a razors edge. He commenced to hew and sunder his foes over the course of the next few rounds, that the floor, walls, and ceiling were all plastered with dripping bits of halfling goo. He rolled criticals, he pushed, he shoved, he took opportunity attacks and he suffered with it in glorious battle sweat flew from his veins in thick sheets. Phye saved the berzerk warrior with her cool healing caress, like a refreshing gust of wind – mm, meaty.
There was a lot more battle, like for example when Moo Pie risked it all to go after that brass bell. Having never heard thrumming beauty of a brass bell rung before, the bovine brawler was entranced and would own it or die fighting for it. Though he was knocked unconscious by the furious spears and mind attacks of the halflings, he gathered that bell to his chest when he fell and still held it when Phyew stepped up to heal a second time this battle. This gave the minotaur the chance to streak into the jungle with great speed, bell clanging about his neck with every galloping hoof.
The wizards flung their spells, the sorceress cackled with glee as she incinerated these savage cannibal cousins of hers. How dare they contemplate her for supper, and the nerve of them taking her armor – luckily she always wore a simple under-frock. She slew. She contemplated her sister halflings who huddled by the fire pit in the villaage center, in similar frocks to her own. Theey would dine on their brothers, flesh slaughtered this night, Eww! And the wizards slew too, hitting wherever they pointed with their magic missiles. I do believe Dr Flamulus went so far as to ring the brass bell with a magic missile at one point.
Eventually they all ran off into the woods with all their stuff, even Moo Pies saddle bags full of healing potions (fruit!) The end.