Mages and Thieves 3

A 5 Hour Gaming Session Of AD&D

2nd Edition (Spikehelm Campaign World)

The Back Story: (aka the idea that became the setup for this game)
Continuing from the last episode:  Mages and Thieves 2.
DM Notes:
At the end of the last episode, they had made it into a village just before dusk, so they were unable to do much more than get to the inn and settle in for the night.
Today, I was hoping that they would quickly resupply and head out again, as I had planned some cool things for them.
Alas, when you plan things that way, Players always seem to decide that the village needs to be thoroughly investigated and instead of just getting a list worth of gear, they have to break it down and shop for every little item.
They also decided that they wanted to go back and play out the night before... it figures.
Ah well, it's the life of a poor DM ;)
Additional Note:
Originally, I wasn't going to write this episode up, as it wound up being a maintence session where the Characters puttered around the village, with a single combat at the very end.
Then I thought better of it, as this happens a lot in games and it may be of value.
The Adventurers: (aka the Player Characters)
Name Class Level Gender Race Brief Description
Daniel Blackthorne Battle-Mage 4 Male Dracôrian (Human) N/A
Maldis Thief (Adventurer) 3 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Session Start: Sunday - 5:00 pm
Location: Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 9th day, in the month of Planting, in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 years after the Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Last Quarter
Daniel and Maldis enter the inn and each asked the Innkeeper for baths, hot meals and rooms, in that order. Soon enough they settled in. After the hot bath, Daniel's leg felt better for the first time since leaving the hamlet.
The inn was full of patrons when they arrived, but now that the locals had headed home there were only a score of other men, teamsters and caravan guards, who were settling down for the night.  After trying to talk with them and getting nowhere, they decided to go to their rooms. Once there, Daniel pulled out the jar of magical unguent that they had found in the portal room and decided that he'd risk it, in the hopes that it was one that would heal his wrecked knee. The knee had bulges below and above it and that entire area was still a nasty black-blue and all his hiking in the last few days had made it worse. His knee was so bad that he had a severe limp and every step was like a hot knife stabbed into his knee.
DM Notes:
Sometimes a Character gets a debilitating injury, so what is a DM to do?
Well, unless you're one of those cruel DMs that thinks that it's your job to screw over characters, or worse, believes that "rules are rules" and you must blindly follow them no matter what it does to the game... OK, if you relate to either of the above just stop reading here… otherwise, this is what I did.
If you recall, Daniel had been hit with a critical attack, back in episode one. His Player had also failed his rolls to minimise that wound. That, and the fact that they didn't have access to any kind of magical healing should have meant that Daniel was permanently crippled and out of play. (Think about what a heavy cross-bladed arrow going through your knee would do to you.  Now add in the fact that there was no doctor to fix it! Pretty nasty, right?)
When this type of thing happens to one of your Characters, plan a way to get them back in the game with as few penalties as possible, while still making the injury meaningful by giving a roleplaying challenge to the Player.
So, this is what I did with Daniel's injury.
I talked with the Player and we decided together what he would be comfortable with. He would need to play Daniel in constant pain and with a heavy limp -- his movement would be reduced from 12 to 9 because of it. In episode 2, I dropped in an item that, if used correctly, could repair his knee without letting on that I did this. Hey, it was an ancient thief's hideaway; you don't think he'd have at least one potion or something hidden there for when the crap hit the fan... A good DM should always be able to think of a way to help out his Players and still keep the plotline and setting intact.
The next day they woke up early, but it seemed that the caravan crew had already eaten and left towards whatever destination was their goal.
The swelling in Daniel knee had gone down. It was still black-blue, but now had traces of a greenish-brown around the edges, which meant that it was on the mend. Had the unguent worked or was it the time and maybe the hot bath?
Maldis found the large caldron of gruel still over the fire. It had been devastated by the caravan crew; there was only a few bowls worth left at the bottom. He scraped out a large bowl for himself and offered Daniel one which was turned down. All the more for him! Their supplies had run out the day before they got here and he was still ravenous.
Daniel, ignored his stomach and went out to purchase supplies, his leg was in too much pain to eat. After asking the innkeeper where he could obtain supplies, he headed out to the trading post that was thankfully next door.
DM Notes:
Up to here only took around 30 minutes, but the shopping for supplies took almost 2 hours of game time... hey, if players want to take this kind of time, who is the DM to stop them? Sometimes a day of in-character shopping is just what the doctor ordered, and can be rather fun if done right.  But I won't make you read about it. ;)
Maldis had just finished his fourth bowl -- he would have had more but that was the last of it -- when Daniel returned to the inn, exhausted and starving after only 30 minutes of shopping.  His knee aching from the strain, he sat and ordered the largest breakfast of meat and eggs he could get. Now that Daniel was back and could watch their gear, Maldis decided that he could go out and look around town.
As he left the inn, he heard the distinctive sound of a forge in full production and it drew him to it. He found a smithy and three apprentices producing arrowheads, spearheads and thick short swords. There was also a fletcher off to one side. After a fitting for Full Leather Armour, purchasing of 3 new throwing dirks and a discussion about how much a new rapier would cost, he headed back to the inn.
As he neared the inn Daniel came out, sporting a new walking stick to help with his limp. Together they retrieved their weapons, left the village and put over 300 yards between them and the palisade, as Daniel wanted to talk privately and this was the easiest way to achieve it. They continued to walk around the outskirts and as they were talking didn't notice that they strayed close to the woods.
The first hints that something was wrong went unnoticed, Daniel's stomach was growling with hunger which both men chose to ignore and they were busy talking about what they should do next. Then a growl came from elsewhere, finally catching their attention, actually Cudgleigh's, who then pointed it out to them by looking at the woods with an aggravated chitter. There was movement within the shadowy woods which soon resolved itself into a large owl-like head. As Daniel saw it, he recognized it as an Owlbear. They were in serious trouble and with his bad knee he'd never be able to run from it. They'd have to kill it -- at least he would -- as these monsters were known to be aggressive and never backed down from a fight.
The Owlbear, true to its nature, bellowed out a deafening roar-screech and charged them. Daniel stabbed his cane into the ground, fanned his hands in front of them, hoped that this thing would stop charging if faced with a large fire and unleashed a Burning Hands spell. It worked; the monster's rear legs furrowed deep into the ground as it reared in front of them to avoid the flames, its head well over 12 feet off the ground! The thing did that horrendous roar-screech again as it drew a bloody line across Daniel's chest while Maldis failed to sink a dirk into its open beak.
It was hard not to panic with that damn thing looming over them, but the years of training that Daniel had received as a Battle-Mage kept his mind from totally freezing in terror. He needed room so he fired a concussive blast into it hoping to topple it while it was rearing. It didn't work; it just enraged the beast more. Maldis second dirk hit it in the chest and turned that wrath unto him. It tore at him with its massive beak and tossed him away -- he crashed into the ground almost 3 yards away -- and then swatted Daniel, blasting him backwards more than a dozen feet. Once again it reared and split the air with that bone chilling roar-screech, blood was in the air.
Thankfully that action gave Daniel enough time to release his second and last concussive bolt of his previous spell and cast yet another spell. It filled his hand -- and the steel Morning Star it held -- with an electric charge that could kill a strong man. The Owlbear dropped and charged after him, oblivious to the coursing death that was waiting for it.
Luck was with Daniel for a change and the beast got a face full of a lightning, delivered at the crushing end of his weapon. That staggered it and for the last time it reared up, which gave Maldis a perfect view of its back. With the stealth that came from crawling through dangerous places, he came upon it, aimed his thrust and rammed his Rapier into its back just as it began yet another ear rending roar-screech. It stopped in mid-cry and its rear became a crashing fall backwards. Maldis had just enough time to pull out his bloodied sword and executed a one-handed cartwheel to avoid it crushing bulk.
The beast was down, but Daniel had read that these things travelled in packs, so he shouted to Maldis for help. They quickly made their way back to the village. They heard more of those deathly roar-screeches. Maldis took a quick look back and saw 4 more Owlbears come out of the woods. Thankfully they were more interested in their dead comrade then in the two little men hobbling away.
As they approached the palisade they could see archers watching them. With a shouted promise to cover them, they rounded the wall and made for the gates. The guards let them in quickly locking the gates behind them and took the weapons they handed them without further questioning. Maldis was told to see the village’s Cleric of the High Lord, which brought renewed hope to Daniel that his knee might actually be saved. But in the end, the Cleric was just a man with no magical abilities, but he was a healer and herbalist who was able to mend their wounds and even tell Daniel that the jar of unguent -- that he had found in the hideaway -- was a healing unguent that if he used it all might just heal his knee.
-- To Be Continued --
Session End: Sunday - 10:00 pm