Campaign Notes: Wreckless Behavior – 7.8.10

   Posted by: Blackbird   in Wardlands

When we last left off Bale was about to be crushed by a cart which smashed into the front window of the wizard Barah’s shop.

The windowed wall of the shop seems to explode inward as the floor bucks wildly beneath your feet. Your ears are filled with the sound of breaking glass, cracking wood and collapsing furniture. The shop is filled with choking dust and it takes a second or two to begin to clear. You can hear the ceiling above you groan in protest at the sudden lack of support. From the back of the shop you hear a second crash, but not as loud as the first, then the curtain is thrown back and a young man dressed in black with a bandana pulled over his face reaches back and throws a flaming jar at a ruined bookcase.

Bale gets knocked prone as thieves begin to pour in from the back entrance into the shop, they hurl pots of alchemist’s fire at a nearby bookcase that Abdul is standing behind.  Although surprised, Barah is able to dispatch one with a powerful magic missile spell but quickly the thieves rush in and lay hands on his spell book.

Jamalamin and Rystime both see the crash from up the street, Jamalamin runs down to help while shouting at Rystime, “Go get the town guard!”  Rystime head off to collect the local soliders while Jamalamin charges down the steeply sloped cobblestone street toward the crumpled house which now has smoke billowing out of it.

Abdul calls upon the power of his deity who quenches the flames which are seeping through the bookcase and onto his robes while Bicklebrick manages to move one of the bookcases a bit providing a clear exit while shouting “get out of there man this whole place could go up in an instant.”  Nibil moves up and manages a solid slash against one of the thieves with his scimitar and the thief responds with smashing a jar of alchemist’s fire against his face.  Nibil is covered in flame which burns atop his armor and not helping his appearance any.  The thief is also hit by the spray of flame and starts putting out the flames while handing off the book to an adjacent thief.

Bale gets up and starts shouldering his way towards the front lines as Barah focuses his attention on another thief and shouts something arcane that seems like it carries an almost humorous tone.  The thief he was focused on laughs out loud like he got the joke, but then his eyes take on a look of horror as he keeps laughing while falling to the floor. He rolls around amongst the small pools of fire, still laughing uncontrollably.

Nibil tries to put himself out but has no success and begins to smell the sickly sweet smell of cooking dwarf as his armor continues to heat up. Abdul steps out around the burning bookcases and shouts through the smoke and flame “Zeypherion commands you to Give the dwarf the book!” The thief blinks heavily once and then passes it to Nibil who drops his sword so he can grab the book.  One of the thieves lunges for the book and misses as it passes to the dwarf’s smoking gloves.

Nibil sees this opportunity and quickly turns and ducks through the rising flames (still on fire himself) and runs towards the front door he deftly beats the flames out with the heavy tome.  Once the flames are out the holy symbols etched into his armor still glow red with the heat from the flames meanwhile his face is blackened from smoke.

Jamalamin arrives at the scene and crawls through the wreckage in the window to figure out what’s going on he looks around and asks “What all is going on in here?!?”  The rest of the party shouts out “Theives! Fire!”  Jamalamin hesitates for a second before continuing inward as he hears creaking from above and tiles on the roof coming off.

Bicklebrick heads outside and the others hear him shout “Hey the fire birgade is here!  Oh wait…they brought bows though….Something’s going bad out here!”  A couple of arrows sprout at his feet.  Abdul tries to delay the theives by creating a storm burst in their direction but misses.

The thieves redouble their efforts and lob a few more pots of fire, one at Bale whose simple cotton clothes catch immediately, another thief tosses another pot at Barah and misses creating an explosion of flame behind him which catches Abdul’s robes on fire.  Cinders and ashes are swirling about the ruins of the shop while the support beams continue to hiss and groan.  The last remaining thief throws another jar of alchemist’s fire at Bale and hits him dead on in the chest bathing him completely in fire.  In a blind panic Bale runs screaming out of the shop, he gets a quick look at Bicklebrick aiming at some unknown assailants on the roof before blacking out in the street.

Barah shouts again at one of the thieves who collapses in uncontrollable laughter.  He falls to his knees and comes up with his gloves covered in alchemist’s fire and laughs at them with a look of revulsion and terror on his face.

Nibil turtles up behind his shield and armor to defend the book.  Jamalamin decides that the shop is done for and head back out through the wreckage.  He spies 3 thieves on the smoking roof shooting down at Bicklebrick and pulls of a snap shot at one which narrowly misses. With the thief distracted Bicklebrick manages to put an arrow in one of the thief’s thigh.

Inside, Abdul takes note of his friend running out the door and summons the power of Zepherion which sends a cleansing blast of cool air through the shop healing the party a bit.  Seeing the party get restored makes the theives act rashly, they gang up on Nibil and attempt to disarm him while standing in the flames. Barah, focused on retrieving his tome demands it from Nibil and runs through the flames to the back entrace after Nibil hands it over. Nibil follows, planting himself in the doorway as a final thief tries to get around him to escape but he holds his ground and the shop crashes around him as the rest of the PCs run out the front.

The theives on the roof flee as the roof begins to cave in and Jamalamin runs around the side alley to try and head them off.  Out back, Nibil emerges from the wreckage covered in soot, and spies a glimmer of steel in the wreckage, reaching down he finds his scimitar surprisingly cool to the touch.  He joins Barah in the back of the shop clutching his book.  Barah offers his express thanks but still looks mournfully at the wreckage that was his home.  Jamalamin rounds a corner out back and sees a large trash pile but no signs of the thieves.  There is a narrow tight pathway through the trash pile and through that he can make out the shapes of Barah and Nibil walking away but sees no signs of the thieves.  Carefully and quietly he climbs up the side of the trash pile being exceptionally silent.

He reaches the top of the trash pile and spies two thieves below looking to ambush whoever comes through the path while Barah and Nibil walk in the opposite direction.  One of the thieves makes a bit of noise and alerts them, and Nibil and Barah square off to face down these final two opponents.  As Nibil charges at one Jamalamin jumps down from his vantage point and sheathes his blade between the collarbones of the arsonist.

The final thief tries to escape but gets bashed in the face by Nibil and falls to the ground disabled but conscious.  The town guard and fire brigade has arrived and a scarred, salty captain who seems very cross with Barah thinking he’s blown up his own shop but with a captured thief he changes his attitude quickly.  He talks of putting the thief up in a crow’s cage to die a miserable death unless the thief cooperates in which case he’ll get a merciful end.  The thief spits up a bit of blood and sneers at him then looks at Nibil and Jamalamin and says “You know what yeah I’ll tell you where we was headed with that book.  Down the grey road ’bout 12 miles, there’s an old burned oak that ain’t got no business being in a pine grove, turn off there to the Southeast.  That where we were taking it, you go there, tell those that were waiting for us why we’re late.”  As to any questions about who is waiting there they get no answers and the captain motions to a guard who kills the thief quickly.

Barah expresses his thanks to the rest of the group and tells them “you are a fine investment, I must say.”  He instructs them to follow him to the Dancing Dove Inn located somewhat close to the temple in a nicer part of town.  There he goes inside and orders rooms for each of them, plus a hot bath and full meal.  Bale for one has never known such decadence and eagerly soaks it up while Nibil returns the potion that was given to him earlier that day to the temple since he has been cured of his infection.  Abdul does what he can for the rest of the party’s wounds and while everyone looks pretty beaten up or covered in raw reddened marks no one looks too worse for wear.

After a near comatose sleep the party wakes and meets with Barah in a corner suite room.  In the room is a large chest that looks exactly like the miniaturized example used on his spellbook as a bookmark token.  He hands them a pillowcase sized sack and tells them “I’ve known you less than a day but you’ve already helped me far beyond that of many others I’ve known for years.  I’m eliminating your debt and to show my thanks I want to give you this.”  He lifts a pillowcase sized sack half full of something heavy and puts it on the table.  Inside there are gold coins.  Nibil looks at the sack forlornly and tells Barah that he’d much rather the wizard use his share of the money to heal the sick infected people who were outside the gate.  Abdul speaks up and says that his share should go to the same thing.  Barah agrees to hire porters and hunters to gather materials for additional cures and will perform the cures at the cost of the ingredients alone.  Confronted with riches beyond his dreams Bale is heartboken to see Barah reach into the sack and remove a dozen handfuls of coins before handing it back.  There’s enough remaining so that each person has 400gp added to their purse.

Barah sits them all down and asks another task of them, he needs them to discover who orchestrated this robbery.  He wants them to follow the lead offered by the thief even through it may well lead to a trap.  He plans to stay here in town and figure out how the town guard did not spot the thieves entering town or scaling the walls.  The party spends a bit of that morning resupplying themselves.

DM’s Note: This encounter was meant for the thieves to end up with the book in their hands, but that well placed command spell changed the whole encounter around.  I had a lot of fun with this encounter and thought the PCs played the senario out really well.  Rather than tracking the thieves down in the night now they will have to face a waiting trap as the thieves are overdue and their contact will suspect that something has gone wrong.  All in all a great game and I’m looking forward to the next one.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 at 12:10 am and is filed under Wardlands. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 comments so far


This felt like our first big fight, and was all the more exciting for not going as planned. The spreading fire, though it didn’t do much damage made for interesting terrain, and it’s one point of damage per round was enough to do in a couple of the injured thieves.

This encounter also gave me flashbacks to our previous campaign, where I swear I spent every combat in full defense. It’s not very exciting, but the average grunt really has a hard time making it through that AC bonus. But, they really wanted that book, and the fire and Barah were both doing an excellent job of dealing with the thieves, so I just played keep away for most of the fight.

We had a bit of rules uncertainty over how they were going to try to get the book back from Nibil, initially the DM was going for grapple. A quick rules check changed his mind to disarm, which fits perfectly. Unfortunately for the thieves, they couldn’t make it past that aforementioned AC bonus.

Really, Nibil ended up taking most of his damage at the end of the fight after passing the book off. About half from the thief trying to stab his way through the back door, and the other half from the building collapsing, plus a bit from being on fire for a while. By the time I charged that last thief in the alley, was looking at all of 1 HP remaining.

Still, was better off than Bale, who I think spent the majority of the battle teetering at 0 HP.

Got into an argument at the end with Bale about helping the infected outside the gate, mainly because he was the only one to rise to the provocation. Also, partially because he was the other one of us who was previously infected. Doesn’t help for role-playing when half the people you’re trying to convince miss the game (Bicklebrick and Rystime).

I know it’s hard to get PCs worked up about a bunch of NPCs, but it’s hard to see the thieves as being half the threat a new group of 6 more infectious and insane were-rats would be. The thieves? Just stealin’ stuff. The were-rats? That’s the start of a horror film.

July 22nd, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Interesting, I felt that the Ware-rats were mindless creatures barely aware of their own surroundings. The thieves are far more insidious, not only are they willing to steal and burn, (a capital offense in West Ward) but the way that they do it is pre-meditated. While the ware-rats are men corrupted and driven mad the thieves are plotting the death and ruin of others.

July 22nd, 2010 at 9:40 pm

But when the thieves steal from you, you aren’t inexorably twisted into an insane thief yourself.

The town knows how to deal with thieves, and obviously has applied themselves to that task with zeal. But with the were-rats, the effective defenses are intentionally missing in action, and the guard is deluding themselves about the nature of the threat.

Ours obviously wasn’t the first attack, and the guard isn’t doing anything to contain the sickness. So what happens when the lumber camps get attacked, or any travelers on the road. The were-rats are dangerous enough that none of the commoners in the area outside of the town walls will be safe, and every attack their numbers grow.

The thieves may have a grander plan that also threatens the whole region, but it isn’t obvious that is so. And, even if they do, they are still men, and likely have goals beyond insanity and death which is all the plague of were-rats offers.

It’s not the were-rats themselves that are so frightening, just what that incurable bite means to the wounded. It’s that moment in the zombie film after your child has been bitten.

It’s an interesting thought about trying to create a consistent world out of D&D, that a weaker were-creature like this presents a greater threat to the world. A proper were-wolf for instance, isn’t going to spread it’s disease effectively, because it’s going to kill any standard NPC it comes across. The were-rats on the other hand are weak enough that a level 1 commoner actually has a reasonable shot at being injured but not killed.

July 23rd, 2010 at 4:49 am

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