Cast of Characters:
Sir Bryndan Lowman of White Forks - Human, Fighter, 1st level. A hedge knight from the nation of Cormyr. His family squandered away all of his lands and holdings so all he has left is his title.
Kylar - Elf, Ranger, 1st level
Clangar - Dwarf, Fighter/Cleric, 1st level
Sylana - Human, female, Bard, 1st level
Cory - Elf, Cleric/Mage, 1st level
This session picked up right where the first left off. The party just managed to dispatch a group of goblins in the stonelands who attempted to ambush them on a small trail. It was late afternoon on Mirtul 8th, and the party decided to set camp there at the ambush point. Myst and Maverick decided to head back to Tilverton to do some information gathering (there players were not present due to real life stuff.) At this point, the party consisted of Sir Bryndan, Kylar, Clangar, and Sylana.
During the night, Clangar was on watch and heard the sound of a screaming girl off in the distance. He woke the party up, and Kylar set out to investigate while the others prepared their gear. About 200 yards away from the camp, Kylar caught glimpse of 4 human bandits on horseback pursuing a girl in tattered rags. He engaged the riders and within a few rounds was soon met with the rest of the party. The non-humans used the pitch black darkness to their advantage against the human bandits taking them out from a distance, while Sylana moved up to aid the girl. After dispatching the riders, the girl revealed that she had been a slave taken captive by the Red Hand bandits, but had managed to escape. The bandits managed to track her down finally and were about to capture her to return her to their camp when the party came along. She mentioned that there were several other slaves at the bandit camp including her 8 year old brother. After some questioning, specifically if she knew of the tunnel location into the Tilverton sewer network from the Stonelands, they agreed to aid her.
Kylar set out that night to locate and scout the bandit camp while the rest of the party remained behind to question one of the bandits they'd taken captive during the encounter. Kylar found the camp, which sat in a circular depression about 10 feet deep. After taking out a couple of the camp guards, and nearly losing his life in the process, the bandits were alerted to his presence. Kylar used his infravision as a tactic against the human's inability to see in the dark, jumping from boulder to boulder hiding (these large mishapen boulders are scattered throughout the Stonelands) and attempting to make a tactical retreat. Eventually he heard the party coming behind him and pointed them in the direction of the camp.
Bryndan charged in with his horse, while Kylar moved back to the lip of the depression. He was able to identify one of the bandits who seemed to be ordering the others around during the chaos. He took a shot at the leader from his vantage point, taking him out with a massive arrow strike. The bandits were thrown into chaos. Sylana moved along the edge of the camp, with the slave girl in tow. Clangar moved into the camp on foot behind Bryndan.
As the party moved in to attack, the noticed a large ogre cresting the far side of the depression. He charged in on Bryndan and Clangar came to aid. The two fought the ogre for most of the battle, while the bandits surrounded them attacking as well. Kylar dispatched several bandits and identified a mage within the camp standing behind a tent. He moved along the outer edge of the depression until he got line of sight with the mage, who was unaware of his presence. Finally the mage saw Kylar coming along, and cast a grease spell in the area. Oddly enough the ogre disappeared in thin air. Kylar took a shot and managed to kill the mage. Sylana moved in behind near the mage and was attacked by a bandit, who dispatched her. After the battle she was revived by Clangar.
The remaining bandits were easily taken out, while Clangar decided to keep one alive for questioning. After defeating the bandits, the party released the captives and the slave girl was reunited with her brother. Among the captives was an elf who identified himself as Cory. The party measured him up figuring him to be a magic user of some sort, and after a bit, asked if he'd be willing to join them to which he agreed. The party spent the rest of the night looting the bandits and seeing that the slaves were given food and comfort.
Clangar searched the bandit leader's tent and discovered the journal of a now deceased cleric of Lathander from Tilverton. In the last journal entry, the cleric had fallen victim to a mortal wound from a gnoll's spear. In the entry he identified that he and his adventuring party had been in the Stonelands on a mission of great urgency. They were seeking out a horn, being carried under the guise of a merchant caravan with the standard of a red sun emblazoned on the side of the crates. The cleric mentioned that the horn was bound for Tilverton to be delivered to a death cult devoted to the dead god, Myrkul. The horn would give the cult the power to raise the dead, which the cult intended to use to raze the city.
The party put things together realizing that the man who hired them was the merchant in question, which explained his urgent desire to retrieve his wares (since they contained this horn.) The party knew from the previous session, that the last known location of the crate was Tilverton, and in fact were searching for a way into the sewers from the Stonelands to intercept it on its way out. They questioned one of the bandits and decided it best to take him with them at first light, as he knew the location of the sewer tunnel entrance from the Stonelands. He warned them they'd need gold to get in because "Lady Alundra controlled the entry point."
The next morning at first light, the party prepared a cart for the now freed slaves, and gave them supplies including the bandit weapons. Bryndan instructed them to head for Griffon's Hill where they could gain aid from a knight he knew there. The party set off from the camp, with the captured bandit in tow, on horseback headed to the tunnel. After a few hours of travel, they found the tunnel entrance. Upon entering they noticed a large chamber with two life-sized stone statues, one of a paladin in full livery with his sword coming down to strike, and the other depicting a mage in the midst of casting a spell of some sort. They approached carefully, and entered a more narrow tunnel where they saw a closed portculis sealing the tunnel, and a door in the wall to the tunnel. They knocked on the door and were greeted by a blind man. After some rather poor haggling, the blind man agreed to let them pass in exchange for 200 gold pieces. Clangar advocated smashing the man's head in and prying the portcilus loose, but the party managed to calm him. They paid the blind man the coin, and he raised the portculis to allow the party to pass.
Thus the session ended.
Reflections on the Second Session:
One of my players decided to make a new character entirely. His other character had been captured by the Rogues of Tilverton in the first session, and although we managed to play out his escape, we thought it best to start him with another character. There were several reasons for this, not the least of which being mounting frustration at the table from the other players with this particular player's style, which is to often split from the party and do his own thing. In an effort to keep everyone's minds on the game and adventure itself, I thought it best if he just create a new character. So Solaris has gone on to be NPC material while Cory the elven cleric/mage enters the picture. After having to sit out most of the first session and most of this one even, due to being captured, I think the player got the message that his actions can have consequences as a player, and he might not get to enjoy the fun by splitting off on his own.
I introduced the players to the d30 rule, that being once per session they can opt to roll the d30 for any game activity not counting character creation/leveling. Kylar's player cleverly looked for the bandit camp leader, and hit him with an arrow, to which he picked up the d30 to roll for damage, knocking him for 24 points. That's 3 times as much as a normal arrow will produce. It was quite epic. The mage used an Improved Phantasmal Force to produce an ogre to distract the party while the bandits attacked. None of the party members managed to realize this, even after Clangar rolled a d30 for damage against the ogre, which would have effectively killed the real thing, they never thought to disbelieve the illusion. The mage spent most of the battle behind cover to maintain concentration on the illusion.
Overall, I thought the session went very well. The players were engaged throughout, and anxious to keep playing. They never broke their focus on the game at all, which was quite surprising for this group. There were some close calls, but I was particularly impressed with the way they handled the bandit camp. Kylar's player did exceptionally well, and was rewarded as such with some additional xp. Now, the party is entering the long winding tunnel system leading into the sewers of Tilverton, and who knows what nasties they'll find in there...but they'll know soon enough.